links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Reporting from Washington DC:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Environment
EU Dropped Pesticide Laws Due to U.S. Pressure over TTIP, Documents Reveal.

U.S. trade officials pushed EU to shelve action on endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility to facilitate TTIP free trade deal.

By Arthur Neslen / The Guardian
May 25, 2015

EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from U.S. trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive U.S. lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

On the morning of July 2, 2013, a high-level delegation from the U.S. Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials to insist that the bloc drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favor of a new impact study. By the end of the day, the EU had done so.

Minutes of the meeting show commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards”.

The TTIP is a trade deal being agreed by the EU and U.S. to remove barriers to commerce and promote free trade.

Responding to the EU officials, AmCham representatives “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances, the minutes show.

The U.S. trade representatives insisted that a risk-based approach be taken to regulation, and “emphasized the need for an impact assessment” instead.

Later that day, the secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, sent a letter to the environment department’s director Karl Falkenberg, telling him to stand down the draft criteria.


“We suggest that as other DGs [directorate-generals] have done, you consider making a joint single impact assessment to cover all the proposals,” Day wrote. “We do not think it is necessary to prepare a commission recommendation on the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting substances.”

The result was that legislation planned for 2014 was kicked back until at least 2016, despite estimated health costs of €150bn ($165bn) per year in Europe from endocrine-related illnesses such as IQ loss, obesity and cryptorchidism — a condition affecting the genitals of baby boys.

A month before the meeting, AmCham had warned the EU of “wide-reaching implications” if the draft criteria were approved. The trade body wanted an EU impact study to set looser thresholds for acceptable exposure to endocrines, based on a substance’s potency.

“We are worried to see that this decision, which is the source of many scientific debates, might be taken on political grounds, without first assessing what its impacts will be on the European market,” the chair of AmCham’s environment committee wrote in a letter to the commission.

These could be “dramatic” the letter said.

In a high-level internal note sent to the health commissioner, Tonio Borg, shortly afterwards, his departmental director-general warned that the EU’s endocrines policy “will have substantial impacts for the economy, agriculture and trade”.


The heavily redacted letter, sent a week before the EU’s plans were scrapped continued: “The US, Canada, and Brazil [have] already voiced concerns on the criteria which might lead to important repercussions on trade.”


The series of events was described as “incredible” by the the Green MEP Bas Eickhout. “These documents offer convincing evidence that TTIP not only presents a danger for the future lowering of European standards, but that this is happening as we speak,”
he told the Guardian.

Earlier this year, 64 MEP’s submitted questions to the commission about the delay to EDC classifications, following revelations by the Guardian about the scale of industry lobbying in the run up to their abandonment. Sweden, the European Parliament and European Council have brought court proceedings against the commission for the legislative logjam.

Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue “could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations”.

The German chemicals giant BASF also complained that bans on pesticide substances “will restrict the free trade with agricultural products on the global level”.

Around this time, the commission’s more industry-friendly agriculture department weighed into the internal EU debate after being “informed by representatives of the US chemical industry” about it.

A common theme in the lobby missives was the need to set thresholds for safe exposure to endocrines, even though a growing body of scientific results suggests that linear threshold models – in which higher doses create greater effects – do not apply to endocrine disruptors.

“The human endocrine system is regulated by hormones and the hormone receptors are sensitive to low doses,” said Hans Muilerman, PAN Europe’s chemicals coordinator. “In animal toxicity studies, effects are seen from low doses [of endocrines] that disappear with higher ones. But in the regulatory arena, lower doses are not tested for.”

A commission spokesperson insisted that health and environmental concerns would be fully addressed, despite pressure from industry or trade groups.

“The ongoing EU impact assessment procedure is not linked in any way to the TTIP negotiations,” the official said. “The EU will proceed to the adoption of definitive criteria to identify endocrine disruptors, independently from the further course of our TTIP negotiations with the US.”

An EU-TTIP position paper on chemicals published last May, cited endocrine disruptors as as one of the “new and emerging scientific issues” which the EU and the US could consider for “enhanced regulatory cooperations” in a future TTIP deal.

“However, given the fact that a possible future TTIP Agreement will most likely not enter into force before the adoption of definitive EU criteria to identify endocrine disruptors, it is clear that the EU’s ongoing impact assessment and adoption of definitive criteria will not be dealt with in the TTIP negotiations,” the spokesperson said.

———————————
Arthur Neslen is the Europe environment correspondent at the Guardian. He has previously worked for the BBC, the Economist, Al Jazeera, and EurActiv, where his journalism won environmental awards.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From The Middle East Forum: Research on the Islamic State

by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi


various publications
April 1-May 15, 2015

 www.meforum.org/5257/research-isi…

Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a research fellow at Middle East Forum’s Jihad Intel project, is one of world’s leading experts on the Islamic State (IS) group terrorizing Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS. The overwhelming majority of his writings and translations are too detailed or esoteric for distribution to a general audience, so instead MEF compiles periodic updates providing links and summaries for those who wish to follow the groundbreaking work of this prolific researcher.

Is ISIS Islamic? (April 3, 2015)
Jihadology: Jawad al-Tamimi argues that IS documents and publications show respect for the four traditional schools of Sunni jurisprudence and that many of its actions, however heinous, “can find a place within the vastness of Islamic tradition.”

Jamaat Ansar al-Islam: Eulogy to Abu Ahmad of Mosul (April 15, 2015)

Translation and Analysis of a statement from the Sunni jihadist group Jamaat Ansar al-Islam, which was based primarily in Iraq until its disintegration in the wake of last year’s IS advance across the north of the country, with elements of its Syria chapter continuing to operate in a limited capacity. The statement eulogizes Abu Ahmad of Mosul, a leader of the group’s Iraq branch reportedly killed by IS.

Muqawama Suriya Statement: Loss of Jisr al-Shughur (April 26, 2015)

Translation and analysis of a statement by Muqawama Suriya, a pro-Assad militia led by Turkish-born Alawite Ali Kayali. The statement illustrates “growing war weariness among pro-Assad circles” in the wake of recent losses in Idlib province, notes Jawad al-Tamimi, while its emphasis on “popular” and “national” forces “implicitly acknowledges some of the increasing resentment in regime circles that the war effort is too dependent on foreign irregular forces.”

Interview with the leader of Harakat al-Nujaba (April 28, 2015)

Translation and analysis of an interview with Akram al-Ka’abi, the leader of Harakat Hizballah al-Nujaba (The Movement of the Party of God of the Outstanding), or HHN, an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militia that emerged in 2013, operating both in Iraq and in Syria via multiple front groups. The interview sheds light on several aspects of HHN, notably its open identification with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and ties with the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement.

“We have the Swords”- IS nasheed (May 2)

Translation of a musical chant (nasheed), produced by IS’s Ajnad Media Foundation. One of the “darker” nasheeds, according to Jawad al-Tamimi, with lyrics such as “we sever off heads by the strike of the sword.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  Democrats.com is the oldest online community of progressive activists, with over 2 million
supporters. We fight for jobs, justice, healthcare, education, the environment, and peace.
We’re supported by great progressive partners so we never ask for donations.
Please join us at Democrats.com!

Dear PINCAS,

On Memorial Day, we honor all the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we hold dear. One of our precious freedoms is enshrined in the 4th Amendment, which requires the government to get a specific warrant before searching our “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” The NSA has been violating the 4th Amendment since George W. Bush let them collect the phone calls, texts, and emails of nearly every American.

A federal court recently ruled that the NSA’s program for spying on nearly all domestic phone calls is illegal.1

But the USA ‘FREEDOM’ Act that the House recently passed would reauthorize the PATRIOT Act and risk creating a new legal authority for some of the very same surveillance practices that the court ruled are illegal.

Please join over 122,000 CREDO activists who already signed the petition against reauthorizing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act via the USA FREEDOM Act.

Thanks for all you do!

Bob Fertik

————————

Tell Congress: Don’t reauthorize the PATRIOT Act

Tell Congress:
“Oppose the USA FREEDOM Act, which would reauthorize the worst sections of the PATRIOT Act, fail to end mass surveillance, legalize currently illegal surveillance activities, and grant immunity to corporations that collaborate to violate privacy rights.”

Dear Friend,

It’s been almost two years since Edward Snowden brought public attention to the breathtaking scope of President Obama’s indiscriminate spying on American citizens. And now there are identical bills in the House and the Senate that could effectively reauthorize the PATRIOT Act without fixing the worst constitutional abuses by the NSA.1

We can’t let Congress effectively reauthorize the PATRIOT Act for an additional 4 years, legalize currently illegal surveillance activities, and grant immunity to corporations that collaborate to violate privacy rights.

But that’s exactly what the deceptively-named USA FREEDOM Act would do. That’s why groups like CREDO, PCCC and Demand Progress are joining with whistleblowers like William Binney, Kirk Wiebe and Thomas Drake to oppose reauthorization of PATRIOT Act Section 215 via the USA Freedom Act. 2

Tell Congress: Oppose the USA FREEDOM Act, which would reauthorize the PATRIOT Act. Click here to sign the petition.

If Congress does nothing, dangerous sections of the PATRIOT Act will expire, including Section 215, which has been exploited by the government to conduct unconstitutional warrantless mass surveillance on Americans’ accused of no crimes.

Under incredible public pressure, the White House and surveillance agencies have telegraphed acquiescence to minimal reforms in exchange for extension of Section 215. These minimal reforms are a trojan horse, and the legislation proposed would eviscerate numerous court challenges to lawless surveillance and provide for legal immunization and compensation of companies that provide the government with customers’ private information, even where that company knows it is unlawful.

Civil liberties advocates have tried to make the bill better but it appears to be beyond fixing. The House Judiciary committee failed to pass amendments to fix the bill. And it will almost certainly get worse in the Senate.

The USA FREEDOM Act as written has significant potential to make the current status quo for unconstitutional surveillance worse, not better. This is unacceptable. The modest changes within this bill fail to truly reform mass surveillance, of Americans and others, conducted under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and Executive Order 12333.

Like they have repeatedly in the past, the NSA and other intelligence agencies will do everything in their power to evade the modest restrictions in the USA FREEDOM Act and torture the English language to find justifications for ever more-expansive surveillance. That’s exactly what the NSA did with Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to justify its telephone records dragnet.

And because Congressional leadership and the House and Senate Intelligence committees are totally unable or unwilling to provide meaningful oversight of our spy agencies, we won’t even find out about the NSA’s new schemes until another whistleblower surfaces in 10 or 20 years.

At best, even if faithfully implemented, the current bill will erect limited barriers to only one of three known legal justifications for the unconstitutional, dragnet surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers. Given intelligence agencies’ eagerness to subvert any attempts by Congress to rein in massive surveillance programs by changing the legal authorities under which they operate, the modest, proposed changes are no reform at all.

Tell Congress: Oppose the USA FREEDOM Act, which would reauthorize the PATRIOT Act. Click here to sign the petition.

CREDO supports Reps. Mark Pocan and Thomas Massie and their Surveillance State Repeal Act. A true reform bill it would fully repeal the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act, and Executive Order 12333 — all of which are used to justify mass surveillance against Americans — and create important protections for whistleblowers.

And even if that important bill were passed, more would need to be done to create real accountability for the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and other secret intelligence agencies that routinely violate our civil liberties.

If Congress can’t pass the Surveillance State Repeal Act, it should simply allow the worst parts of the PATRIOT Act to expire. Passing the USA FREEDOM Act would fail to stop mass surveillance and would send America’s secret intelligence agencies a clear message that they will never face accountability for breaking the law to spy on Americans. What’s more it would allow pro-surveillance members of Congress to blunt momentum for further reform by claiming that they’d fixed the problem, even though the bill only moderately restricts one of several laws abused by the government to spy on Americans.

We have to act quickly. With the PATRIOT Act provisions set to expire on June 1, this fight will move very quickly. Please take action today. Click the link below to sign the petition:
 act.credoaction.com/sign/usa_free…

Thank you for taking action.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

———
1. David Kravets, ” The good, bad, and the ugly of pending congressional surveillance bills,” Ars Technica, April 29, 2015.
2. Steven Nelson, “NSA Whistleblowers Oppose Freedom Act, Endorse Long-Shot Bill,” U.S. News & World Report, April 27, 2015

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Shavuot & Pentacost: Jewish and Christian versions of revelation plus Arthur Waskow on Memorial Day – as posted by Tikkun Magazine.

To read online the articles below on Shavuot, (the Jewish celebration of the first fruits and also of the giving of Torah), and on Christian spiritual responses to Pentecost, please go to www.tikkun.org/nextgen/shavuot-re…

 magazine at tikkun.org

For a take by a Catholic source on the link between Shavuot and the Christian meaning of Pentecost, both of which are taking place this weekend, please go to:http://www.cruxnow.com/faith/2015/05/22/the-gifts-of-pentecost-and-shavuot


Shavuot wisdom from Arthur Waskow: Ten Notes on Celebrating Shavuot.


Dear friends, Shavuot, the “Festival of Weeks,” comes this year from Saturday night May 23 through Monday evening May 25.
Its name refers to the “super-week” of seven weeks after Passover plus one day (7 x 7 + 1= 50), when the 50th day becomes the holy day of late spring.


Here are ten steps into understanding Shavuot (and its Christian offshoot, Pentecost):

1. The Torah describes a festival that celebrates the fulfillment of the spring wheat harvest by offering at the Temple two loaves of leavened bread and the First Fruits of the farmers’ work and the land’s abundance. This ancient understanding invites us to renew our connection with the Earth as a sacred connection with YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh, the Interbreath of life that connects all life upon this planet.

2. The text of Torah never gives any precise date for the Revelation of Torah on Mount Sinai. The early Rabbis, bereft of the Land and strongly desiring that all future generations be able to experience the Torah in much the same way Passover made it possible for all future generations to experience the Exodus, interpreted Torah timing to make the biblical Festival of First Fruits into a festival of Torah.

Some Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah text then defined Revelation in radically open ways. Some suggested that the only expression that actually came forth at Sinai was the first letter of the Ten Utterances: an ALEPH. But the ALEPH is a “silent” letter, just an opening of the throat. So in that understanding, the deepest Truth was simply that the Universe opened its throat, wanting to speak.

3. In another view, the whole Revelation was the first word:ANOKHI, the Hebrew for an elevated, surpassingly awesome meaning of “I.” (The ordinary Hebrew word for “I,” like the Latin “ego,” is “Ani.”) This ANOKHI arises not only from the Mountain, from the universe, but also from each one of us, each human, each frog, each galaxy, each quark.

4. In the treasury of so-called “Gnostic” ancient texts written in the Semitic language Coptic and found in our own generation hidden at Nag Hammadi in Egypt, one was labeled The Thunder: Perfect Mind.

Most of its 60-some verses begin with the same “ANOKHI, I” and they are almost all celebrations of a female, feminine, and paradoxically all-inclusive understanding of God:

I [Anokhi] am the first and the last

I am what everyone can hear and no one can say

I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name

I am she who is honored and she who is mocked

I am the whore and the holy woman

I am the wife and the virgin

I am the mother and the daughter

I am the limbs of my mother

I am the sterile woman and she has many children

I am she whose wedding is extravagant and I didn’t have a husband

I am the midwife and she who hasn’t given birth

I believe this text, like that in our officially accepted Torah, is an attempt to describe the Holy ONE Who became audible and visible in a transcendent moment at “Sinai.” Its title evokes The Thunder that Torah says was seen, not only heard, at Sinai. For the full text and the story of its recovery, see [ theshalomcenter.org/sites/all/mo... /url.php?u=10464&qid=5267360 ]

5. In one of the Ten Utterances that come from Sinai, the Holy Voice insists that we not “take My Name in emptiness.” I do not think that means never to say “Oh My God!” etc. I think it means to keep fully in mind that the Name YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh is a Breath; that we should always be aware that every breath we take is the Name of God; and that the Breathing of our Mother Earth is the Name of God. “Do not breathe empty-minded, empty-hearted!” says the Voice.

Make a Shavuot practice of following your breath as it enters your body, is carried by your blood to every limb and organ, then leaves as you breathe out the CO2 to enter a tree, a field of grass — and there to be transmuted into oxygen and breathed out, for us to breathe in. As you breathe, let your breath carry these words: “We breathe in what the trees breathe out, the trees breathe in what we breathe out.”

6. Another of the Ten Utterances tells us, “Do not carve out false gods and worship them!”

I do not think this means only that we must not carve out and worship physical statues of stone or wood or metal.

I think it means, “Do not carve the One Flow into pieces and worship these mere pieces of Truth. Do not make gods of race or of nation, gods of wealth and of power, gods of greed and addiction. For these ‘gods’ may seem to have ears but hear not, hands but touch not, noses but breathe not. These idols are dead, and those who make them and worship them will bring death on themselves.”

7. Traditionally, the Haftarah (prophetic passage) that is read on the festival of Shavuot is Ezekiel’s mystical vision of the Chariot. Jerome Rothenberg and Harris Lenowitz, in A Big Jewish Book, their amazing collection of the poetic, mystical, and subversive or superversive passages of Jewish wisdom over the past 3,000 years, make their own poetic translation of this passage.

For a way of reading it intended to lift the reader closer to Ezekiel’s own ecstatic state, first see

and then theshalomcenter.org/sites/all/mo... ]

8. The early rabbis also decided that on Shavuot, we should also read the Scroll of Ruth. It celebrates the earthiness of the Torah’s understanding of Shavuot, and especially the Torah’s commitment to social justice in sharing the abundance of the Earth. Ruth, a penniless woman from a pariah community, is treated with love, generosity, and justice.

Read the book, imagining Ruth as a penniless woman from Guatemala trying to enter the USA across the Rio Grande. How would she be treated today? How does the Bible demand she be treated?

9. According to Christian tradition, there was a Shavuot on which Jews who were followers of the radical Rabbi Jesus — who had been tortured to death because he organized spiritually rooted opposition to the oppressive Roman Empire and its local puppet government — gathered to celebrate the Revelation of Torah.

They experienced being touched by the Ruach HaKodesh – the Holy Breathing Spirit. As if that Breath had spoken to them in every human language (as only Breath can do, since only Breathing encompasses all tongues), they found themselves able to speak in the 70 tongues of humanity.

In Christian tradition, this moment became known as Pentecost, from the Greek word for “Fiftieth Day.” From this moment they went forth to bring their vision to all peoples – sometimes by speaking words of conscience and sometimes by conquest, torture, and death.. From this moment stems all the spiritual triumphs and spiritual disasters of the Christian Church.

How do we make sure that the Holy BREATH is about speaking, not killing or torturing or conquering?

Christians have no monopoly on oppression, torture, or killing. Some Muslims, some Jews, some Buddhists (see Burma and Sri Lanka) have turned to tyranny, out of fear or privilege or fury. For a Jewish perspective on how the festival of Sinai and Torah might look upon the festival of Israeli independence, Yom HaAtzma’ut, see my essay at

10. Go back to experience again two lines from “The Thunder: Perfect Mind,” as what the “I” of Sinai spoke to us all:

I am what everyone can hear and no one can say

I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name

These lines bring us back to the “Anokhi YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh,” the first words of Torah heard at Sinai.

For if the YHWH is a Breathing, It would indeed be what everyone can hear and no one can say.

Its letters, if we try to pronounce them, would indeed be the name of the sound and the sound of the name. A Breath.

The Voice at Sinai tells us: The Interbreathing of all tongues, all life, is what frees us from the Tight and Narrow Place (in Hebrew, Mitzrayyim — the name for Egypt).

If we hear Her in the all-night Torah-learning that the mystics bequeathed us for Shavuot, could we learn to think, to feel, to commune, to be silent in a different way?

Could we hear the Shavuot of Harvest and the Shavuot of Sinai as One:

“I am the earthy food that goes into your mouth, and I am the airy words that come forth from your mouth.”

Could The Thunder teach us that Earth and Torah are one, The One?

Could we hear the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Breath that interbreathes all tongues, all languages, all life-forms, reminding us to Hush’sh’sh’sh, to Sh’sh’sh’sh’ma – to Listen to the still “silent” Voice and cease from our oppressions of each other?

May the Shabbat and Shavuot that come at this week’s ending and next week’s beginning help us achieve these deepening of Spirit in the body!

Shalom, salaam, peace, Earth!
Arthur Waskow

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Politics // The New York Times

Obama Set to Strengthen Federal Role in Clean Water Regulation.

By CORAL DAVENPORT, MAY 22, 2015

The Obama administration is expected in the coming days to announce a major clean water regulation that would restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands.

Environmentalists have praised the new rule, calling it an important step that would lead to significantly cleaner natural bodies of water and healthier drinking water.

But it has attracted fierce opposition from several business interests, including farmers, property developers, fertilizer and pesticide makers, oil and gas producers and a national association of golf course owners. Opponents contend that the rule would stifle economic growth and intrude on property owners’ rights.

Republicans in Congress point to the rule as another example of what they call executive overreach by the Obama administration. Already, they are advancing legislation on Capitol Hill meant to block or delay the rule.

———————————————————-
Related Coverage

Gina McCarthy, above, the E.P.A. administrator, who is expected to release the final version of a new rule intended to protect the nation’s drinking water this week.

Critics Hear E.P.A.’s Voice in ‘Public Comments’ MAY 18, 2015

As head of Washington’s water department, George Hawkins, is on the scene every time a major sewer or water line breaks.
Toxic Waters: Saving U.S. Water and Sewer Systems Would Be CostlyMARCH 14, 2010

Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in SufferingSEPT. 12, 2009

The mouth of Avondale Creek in Alabama, into which a pipe maker dumped oil, lead and zinc. A court ruling made the waterway exempt from the Clean Water Act.

Toxic Waters: Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Hampering E.P.A.FEB. 28, 2010

The water system in Ramsey, N.J., has illegal concentrations of arsenic and the solvent tetrachloroethylene, both linked to cancer.

Millions in U.S. Drink Contaminated Water, Records Show, DEC. 7, 2009
———————————————————-

The announcement of the rule could come as soon as Friday. If not, it is likely to happen next week, people with knowledge of the plans said.

Photo – Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, says a new clean water rule is intended “to protect critical streams and wetlands that are currently vulnerable to pollution and destruction.”

The water rule is part of a broader push by President Obama to use his executive authority to build a major environmental legacy, without requiring new legislation from the Republican-controlled Congress.

This summer, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a final set of rules intended to combat climate change, by limiting greenhouse gas pollution from power plants. Mr. Obama is also expected to announce in the coming year that he will put vast swaths of public land off limits to energy exploration and other development.

“Water is the lifeblood of healthy people and healthy economies,” Gina McCarthy, the E.P.A.’s administrator, wrote in an April blog post promoting the water rule. “We have a duty to protect it. That’s why E.P.A. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are finalizing a Clean Water Rule later this spring to protect critical streams and wetlands that are currently vulnerable to pollution and destruction.”

But even as E.P.A. staff worked this month to finish the rule, the House passed a bill to block it. The Senate is moving forward with a bill that would require the agency to fundamentally revamp the rule.

“Under this outrageously broad new rule, Washington bureaucrats would now have a say in how farmers, and ranchers, and families use their own property,” said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming and the chief author of the Senate bill.

“It would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate private property just based on things like whether it’s used by animals or birds, or even insects,” he said.

“This rule,” he added, “is not designed to protect the traditional waters of the United States. It is designed to expand the power of Washington bureaucrats.”

The E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers jointly proposed the rule, known as Waters of the U.S., last March. The agency has held more than 400 meetings about it with outside groups and read more than one million public comments as it wrote the final language.

The rule is being issued under the 1972 Clean Water Act, which gave the federal government broad authority to limit pollution in major water bodies, like Chesapeake Bay, the Mississippi River and Puget Sound, as well as streams and wetlands that drain into larger waters.

But two Supreme Court decisions related to clean water protection, in 2001 and in 2006, created legal confusion about whether the federal government had the authority to regulate the smaller streams and headwaters, and about other water sources such as wetlands.

—————————————
BUT E.P.A. officials are not completely satisfied by the projected draft of this new Obama directives!

E.P.A. officials say the new rule will clarify that authority, allowing the government to once again limit pollution in those smaller bodies of water — although it does not restore the full scope of regulatory authority granted by the 1972 law.

The E.P.A. also contends that the new rule will not give it the authority to regulate additional waters that had not been covered under the 1972 law. People familiar with the rule say it will apply to about 60 percent of the nation’s waters.

“Until now, major bodies of water were protected under the law,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, a spokeswoman for Environment America, an advocacy group. “But they can’t be fully protected unless the streams that flow into them are also protected.”

————————————-

The rule will also limit pollution in groundwater and other sources of drinking water. Polluted groundwater is now chemically treated before being used as drinking water.

“We could spend a lot of money to massively treat the water that we drink, but it makes a lot more sense to protect the source,” Ms. Ouzts said.

A coalition of industry groups, led by the American Farm Bureau Federation, has waged an aggressive campaign calling on the E.P.A. to withdraw or revamp the rule.

Farmers fear that the rule could impose major new costs and burdens, requiring them to pay fees for environmental assessments and to obtain permits just to till the soil near gullies, ditches or dry streambeds where water flows only when it rains. A permit is required for any activity, like farming or construction, that creates a discharge into a body of water covered under the Clean Water Act or affects the health of it, like filling in a wetland or blocking a stream.

“It’s going to cause a nightmare for farmers,” said Don Parrish, the senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Our members own the majority of the landscape that’s going to be impacted by this,” he said. “It’s going to make their land, the most valuable thing they possess, less valuable. It could reduce the value of some farmland by as much as 40 percent. If you want to build a home, if you want to grow food, if you want a job to go with that clean water, you have to ask E.P.A. for it.”

The lobbying fight over the rule has also generated a public-relations battle over social media.

—————————————-

The Deck is not a plain playing field:

In its protest of the rule, the American Farm Bureau Federation started a social media campaign, using the Twitter hashtag #DitchTheRule, to urge farmers and others to push the E.P.A. to abandon or revamp the rule. The E.P.A., in response, created a campaign with the hashtag #DitchTheMyth, urging people to speak out in favor of the rule. But some legal experts contend that campaign might have tested the limits of federal lobbying laws, which prohibit a government agency from engaging in grass-roots lobbying for proposed policies or legislation.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Obama has lost Paul Krugman: Administration’s selling of new trade pact “a snow job.”

There has been no good faith effort to address reasonable concerns from well-intentioned critics
Review by Scott Eric Kaufman, Salon Web-magazine.
 www.salon.com/2015/05/22/obama_ha…

Kaufman writes: In Friday’s column, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman argued that although he generally approves of the forthrightness with which the Obama administration has dealt with economic issues, when it comes to international trade and investment, the president deserves a failing grade.

Especially, he wrote, on the subject of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the quasi-secret deal that the administration has teamed up with Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (W) to push through the House.

“[the] selling of the 12-nation Pacific Rim pact has the feel of a snow job,” he argued. “Officials have evaded the main concerns about the content of a potential deal; they’ve belittled and dismissed the critics; and they’ve made blithe assurances that turn out not to be true.”

——————————–
 krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05…

ALSO: Paul Krugman – New York Times Blog Trade and Trust.

May 17, 2015

I’m getting increasingly unhappy with the way the Obama administration is handling the dispute over TPP. I understand the case for the deal, and while I still lean negative I’m not one of those who believes that it would be an utter disaster.

But the administration — and the president himself — don’t help their position by being dismissive of the complaints and lecturing the critics (Elizabeth Warren in particular) about how they just have no idea what they’re talking about. That would not be a smart strategy even if the administration had its facts completely straight — and it doesn’t. Instead, assurances about what is and isn’t in the deal keep turning out to be untrue. We were assured that the dispute settlement procedure couldn’t be used to force changes in domestic laws; actually, it apparently could. We were told that TPP couldn’t be used to undermine financial reform; again, it appears that it could.

How important are these concerns? It’s hard to judge. But the administration is in effect saying trust us, then repeatedly bobbling questions about the deal in a way that undermines that very trust.

——————————

We have a particular problem here – this with no less then the Great New York Times.

The problem is that in the paper’s greed to make money they hide the important views of Paul Krugman by asking the internet readers to pay subscription money. We know this is a subject for long discussions – but what if a great economist is indeed trying to save the country and the World and a Board that owns a large chunk of media sources just gets in his way?

What if I tell you that the opinion page of that paper, years ago, seemed to be sold to the Mobil Oil Corporation that regularly had a quarter page advertisement that left no interest space for the paper’s business-folks when it came to non-petroleum fuels?

###

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

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany; Biovision Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland; and Millennium Institute in Washington DC, USA organize, a few days before the May session of the Post?2015 Intergovernmental negotiations on follow?up and review, titled “Follow?up and Review Mechanisms for Natural Resource Management and Governance to Achieve the SDGs.”

They will address some key issues associated with this topic. The event’s main focus is on the management and governance of natural resources, but the options presented could be further developed and applied to other thematic and cross-cutting areas.
It examines options on how to address the conflicting uses and the need for protection of natural resources across and among different goals and targets.

“A High?Level Event on Follow?Up and Review Mechanisms for Natural Resource Management and Governance to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

12 – 13 May 2015

at the Millennium Broadway Hotel New York, 145 West 44th Street, New York.

This High?Level Event aims at providing a platform for UN Member States, UN organizations, ministries, non-governmental organisations, academia, civil society, and the private sector – to discuss options for follow?up and review mechanisms connecting national, regional and global levels.

It is an invitation only event – and for more information, please visit the event’s website:  globalsoilweek.org/thematic-areas…

###

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

John Oliver on this Sunday night’s edition of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” which has fast become must-see TV, the British host said: “This week has shone a serious light on the disparities in Baltimore between the community and the police force—disparities that were highlighted when six officers were arrested on charges in Gray’s death, and were then released on bail,” he said.

He threw to a news clip announcing that the six officers charged in Gray’s death had bail amounts ranging from $250,000-300,000.

“That sounds like a fair amount for such serious charges, but juxtapose that with the bail set for people involved in the protests, like this 18-year-old who helped smash in the windows of several cars, including a police car. How much was his bail?” asked Oliver.

The young man in question is Allan Bullock, who allegedly was captured on film bashing in the windows of an unmarked police car with a traffic cone. And his bail was set at $500,000—more than for any of the officers charged with Gray’s death.

“Five hundred thousand dollars for breaking car windows!” he said. “To put that in context, even Robert Durst had his bail set at just $300,000 after definitely not killing that guy in Galveston, Texas. That amount of money makes absolutely no sense! That kid’s crimes were misdemeanors, he turned himself in—in fact, the only explanation for his bail being set that high is that, just like Geraldo Rivera and that guy from CNN, judges in Baltimore can’t look at black people without seeing millionaire Russell Simmons.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 1st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Bernie Sanders is running for president

.
By Dan Merica, CNN

April 30, 2015

Washington (CNN)Bernie Sanders is in.

The independent Vermont senator told the Associated Press in a story published Wednesday that he plans to run for the Democrats’ 2016 presidential nomination. The news was confirmed by multiple Sanders aides.

“I am running for president,” he told The Associated Press.

“People should not underestimate me,” Sanders told the AP. “I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.”

Who is Bernie Sanders?

Sanders caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate but is an unlikely candidate for the Democratic nomination, primarily because he has never been a registered member of the party and calls himself a “democratic socialist.”

Yet many of his views fit with the Democratic left, a constituency in which Sanders has found a small yet devout following.

Sanders and his top advisers hope that group of voters will propel his dark horse candidacy. Though Hillary Clinton is the dominant frontrunner, many in the progressive left of the party think she’s too moderate and are clamoring for a different candidate to support.

Sanders will outline his presidential plans further on Thursday when he holds a press conference in Washington. Sanders’ campaign advisers said that while their candidate has announced his plans to run, he won’t hold his first campaign rally until May. That event is expected to be in Vermont.
Here comes Bernie Sanders

The Democratic presidential nominee that doesn’t have to be a registered Democrat.

Sanders is an outspoken critic of Wall Street banks and the outsized influence of money in politics and is a supporter of universal health care. He regularly talks about the need to rebuild the middle class and raise taxes on America’s highest earners.

“At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country which is based on ability to pay,” Sanders said last month in Washington. “It is not acceptable that a number of major profitable corporations have paid zero in federal income taxes in recent years, and that millionaire hedge fund managers often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than the truck drivers or nurses.”

In interviews before his campaign announcement, Sanders said trade, income inequality and health care would be key tenants of his run. But despite having vocal liberal supporters on these issues, Sanders is a dark horse candidate and has acknowledged that his run will be uphill. A CNN/ORC poll in March found that Sanders has the support of only 3% of Democratic voters.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Sanders moved to Vermont after graduating from the University of Chicago. His first successful run for office came in 1981 when he was elected Burlington’s mayor by a mere 10 votes. He was elected as Vermont’s at-large member of Congress in 1990 and jumped to the Senate in 2007. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in congressional history.

Sanders does not have the personality of a typical politician. He is sometimes gruff and blunt, dispensing with social niceties and usually getting right to the point. He has come to be known as much for his fly-away hair as his passionate speeches in the Senate — and has bluntly lamented the way political journalism in the United States focuses on personality.

Sen. Sanders talks trade deals – Sanders watches as the Left looks to Warren

“I think this is not about personality,” Sanders told CNN earlier this year, raising his Vermonter-by-way-of-New York voice.
“I am not a singer, I am not a dancer, I am not an entertainer.”

He also starts with a small campaign infrastructure, largely the remnants of his past Senate runs, and is primarily being advised by Tad Devine, a Democratic political consultant who worked on the presidential campaign for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. At an event this month in New Hampshire where Sanders leaned heavily into a presidential bid, the signs outside the house party touted his 2012 Senate re-election bid.

From the outset of his campaign, it appears money will be Sander’s biggest issue. The senator has regularly conceded in the last month that he would not be able to raise near the money Clinton will bring in.

“To run a credible campaign in this day and age, you do need a whole lot of money,” Sanders said. “Whether the magic number is $200 million, it is $150 million, it is a lot of money, but even with that, you would be enormously outspent by the Koch Brother candidates and the other candidates who will likely spend, in the final analysis, over $1 billion, if not two.”

Despite being a champion for many on the left, Sanders has been somewhat left out in the cold by big liberal organizations like MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, who have spent the last few months unsuccessfully urging Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

“Obviously one would hope one would have as much support as possible from all walks of life,” Sanders said on Tuesday when asked why he thinks those groups aren’t rallying around him. “I am a great fan of Elizabeth and as for what people do and why they don’t do it, I am not going to speculate.”

Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, even mentioned Warren in touting Sanders’ jump into the race.

“MoveOn members welcome Sen. Bernie Sanders to the presidential race,” said Galland. “The Democratic Party is made stronger by each additional voice who enters the race and commits to being a strong advocate for everyday, hardworking Americans and not just the wealthy few. That’s why we and our allies continue to call on Sen. Elizabeth Warren to also bring her tireless advocacy for middle-class and working Americans to the race. Our country will be stronger if she runs.”

Sanders enters a race that has so far been dominated by Clinton, the former secretary of state and Democrats’ prohibitive favorite for the nomination. For most of 2015, Sanders has been reticent to attack Clinton, but he recently has issued statements calling on her to change her policy positions.

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

Election 2016
Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Issues Truly Extraordinary Campaign Plank.
The Vermont independent wants Americans to own the businesses they work at by creating worker co-ops.

By Zaid Jilani / AlterNet
May 1, 2015

After his presidential announcement this week, many wondered how Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would distinguish himself from the other candidates running in the Democratic primary.

With his newly-published issues page, he offers some clues.

Among the 12 platform planks that he published there are several traditional ideas such as rebuilding American infrastructure and guaranteeing health care to all. But the very last platform offers a genuinely fresh idea: boosting America’s worker co-ops.

The Sanders campaign writes:

We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.

In the United States, co-ops are often associated with small businesses such as coffee shops or groceries. But with the right regulatory incentives and support, worker-owned businesses can be much larger. Take the Mondragon corporation of Spain, for example. Today it has over 70,000 employees and brings in annual revenues of over $12 billion Euros. Within the various units of the corporation, workers decide on the direction of production for the company as well as what to do with the profits. While CEO-to-worker pay ratios in the United States have reached over 300-to-1, in Mondragon the cooperative model ensures that in most of its operations, “the ratio of compensation between top executives and the lowest-paid members is between three to one and six to one.”

Today, there are 11,000 worker-owned companies in America, and there are up to 120 million Americans who are involved in some form of co-op if you include credit unions in the tally. By endorsing their expansion, Sanders is proving that his differences with his opponents are not just in style but in substance – providing an alternative to the top-down corporations that run our economy.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The THIRD ANNUAL ARCTIC CIRCLE ASSEMBLY
OCTOBER 16 – 18, 2015
REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND

PRESIDENT OF FRANCE – WILL ATTEND THE ASSEMBLY and Deliver an Opening Speech linked to the Climate Negotiations at COP 21.

At a meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris on April 17th, the President of France, François Hollande, accepted an invitation from President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to deliver an opening speech at the October Assembly. The attendance by President Hollande is linked to the upcoming climate negotiations COP21 in Paris in December and the relevance of the Arctic to those negotiations.

PRESIDENT XI JINPING – And Offered to host a special CHINA SESSION at the Assembly.

President of China XI Jinping has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson endorsed China’s participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly and declared his decision that China will host a special Plenary Session at the October Assembly in Reykjavík.


CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL – suggested a special plenary GERMANY and the ARCTIC SESSION at the Assembly.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson announced her support for the Arctic Circle and its importance as a venue to present the involvement of Germany in the future of the Arctic. Consequently, the program of the October Assembly in Reykjavík will include a special Plenary Session on Germany and the Arctic.

More Assembly news in the coming weeks.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 28th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Thawing Ice and Chilly Diplomacy in the Arctic.

The Opinion Pages | Editorial
Thawing Ice and Chilly Diplomacy in the Arctic.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 27, 2015

Photo -The Yamal Liquified Natural Gas project, a Russian-French-Chinese joint venture, in the Arctic Circle. Credit Kirill Kudryavtsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So long as the Arctic was mostly frozen solid, the biennial meetings of the eight-nation Arctic Council attracted relatively little attention with their discussions on ways to cooperate on environmental protection, search-and-rescue operations and the like.

But with melting ice opening up northern shipping lanes and access to vast troves of oil, gas and minerals — and with Russia increasingly alienated from the other members on the council and assertive in its claims to the far north — the past weekend’s council meeting in the far-northern Canadian city of Iqaluit sometimes seemed as frigid as the outside air.

At the meeting, the United States assumed the rotating two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, whose other members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden as well as six indigenous groups of the far north. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that protecting the delicate Arctic environment from the consequences of climate change will be a top American priority over the next two years. As important a task will be to prevent the clash with Russia over Ukraine from undermining the cooperation on which the council has operated for the past 20 years.

Russia has steadily increased its military presence in the far north. On the eve of the meeting, a hard-line Russian deputy prime minister, Dmitri Rogozin, traveled to the North Pole to open a scientific research station — and to make clear that Russia intended to protect its claims to the Arctic region, which he proclaimed “a Russian Mecca” on Twitter. In an added provocation, Mr. Rogozin traveled through Norwegian territory on his way, though he is among the Russian officials blacklisted from traveling to much of Europe.

The Obama administration has declared that tensions with Russia will not change its focus on ocean safety, economic development and climate change.

The danger of the Arctic’s falling prey to East-West hostility was sufficiently clear to prompt a group of 45 international experts, government officials and representatives of nongovernmental organizations to meet in Washington in February and issue a unanimous report urging that the region remain outside geopolitical confrontations.

The Arctic Council, never intended to debate military matters, must remain a forum for finding ways to sort out competing claims peacefully.

At the peak of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to ban military activity on the other end of the Earth, in Antarctica. And today, despite all the hostility over Ukraine, the United States and Russia have continued to work together in outer space, showing that cooperation is possible. In the Arctic, it’s essential.

——————————–
A version of this editorial appears in print on April 28, 2015, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Thawing Ice and Chilly Diplomacy.

###

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


Climate change and security: here’s the analysis, when’s the action?

Dan Smith 22 April 2015

We have moved beyond the tired old controversy about whether climate change causes armed conflict. The new discussion must look to compound risks: where climate change, arbitrary governance and lawlessness interact.

Last week’s communiqué from the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Lübeck included a statement on climate change and security. In welcoming a report, A New Climate for Peace, to which my organization International Alert contributed, the communiqué moves the issue forward and declares it to be worthy of high level political attention. Unfortunately, what is to be done is not so clear.
Climate change and insecurity

A New Climate for Peace, of which I am one of the co-authors, is a joint project of the Berlin-based think tank Adelphi, International Alert, the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, and the European Union Institute for Security Studies. The full report comes out in May.

The core message is that climate change is having a multi-faceted impact on many states, societies and communities. It exerts a pressure they cannot tolerate for long. Compound risks emerge as the impact of climate change interacts with other political, social and economic problems. Climate change makes it hard to build resilience in the state or even in local communities, while the fragility of the state makes it hard to adapt to the impact of climate change. To address this problem, a new approach is needed integrating sectors that are currently separate, energised by clear political leadership to develop international cooperation, based on dialogue about a shared challenge and shared goals.


This is not a rehash of positions in the tired old controversy about whether climate change causes armed conflict. With this report, presented to the German Foreign Minister, and with the G7 Foreign Ministers’ welcome for it the next day, it is possible to say that the debate has decisively moved on.


The issue, if we want some jargon, is human security
and insecurity. A background of armed conflict or weak governance or political instability – or all in combination – in short, a situation of fragility is not conducive for building resilience against the negative impact of climate change. Likewise, the pressure of climate change makes the tasks of reconciliation, managing conflicts non-violently and building a peaceful state even harder than they are in the absence of that pressure.

The report – 150 pages long in final draft – pulls together the best recent research and adds the results of its own inquiries in vulnerable countries. It collates the evidence and focuses on seven compound risks:

Local resource competition can lead, as pressure on natural resources increases, to instability and even violent conflict in the absence of effective dispute resolution.

Livelihood insecurity is a likely result of climate change in some regions, which could push people to migrate or turn to illegal sources of income.

Extreme weather events and disasters will exacerbate all the challenges of fragility and can increase people’s vulnerability and grievances, especially in conflict-affected situations.

Volatility in the prices and availability of food, arising because climate variability disrupts food production, have well documented effects on the likelihood of protests, instability, and civil conflict.

Transboundary water sharing is a source of either cooperation or tension, but as competition sharpens due to increasing demand and declining availability and quality of water, the balance of probability tilts towards increased tension and conflict.

Sea-level rise and coastal degradation will threaten the viability of low-lying areas, with the potential for social disruption and displacement, while disagreements over maritime boundaries and ocean resources may increase.

The unintended effects of climate policies are a further source of risk that will increase if climate adaptation and mitigation policies are more br oadly implemented without due care and attention to consequences and negative spin-offs.


Responding to risk

The best and, long term, the sustainable way to diminish the threat posed by these climate-fragility risks is to slow down climate change by reducing carbon emissions. That’s the task for December’s climate summit in Paris – formally, the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. But changes to the climate are already underway, so there has to be a separate and additional response to climate-fragility risks, starting now and carried through for – in the best case – some decades at least.

Three key sectors require action – climate change adaptation, development and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding. But single sector action won’t work against compound risk. Virtually by definition, integrated approaches are necessary. Further, the problem faced does not respect national boundaries and is in any case too big and too complex for a single government to handle, so the response needs also to be internationally cooperative and coordinated.

A response to the vicious cycle contained in each of the seven climate-fragility risks will not work if it relies on responding to each crisis as it arrives. What people in the hardest hit countries need is assistance in mounting and implementing a long-term and sustained preventive response. That’s how we move from managing crises to avoiding them.


The current menu of action

A New Climate for Peace looks at the current international policy architecture for addressing the compound risks. There is plenty of activity but:

Climate change adaptation plans rarely address fragility and conflict comprehensively.

Development and humanitarian aid does not routinely take account of the need for climate-proofing and still has problems absorbing conflict sensitivity.

Peacebuilding similarly tends to leave climate change aside as somebody else’s problem.


What needs to be done

Many things can and should be done. It is not hard to identify them. The report insists that it will only happen if there is strong and clear political leadership. With the G7 governments in mind, it identifies entry points for developing a coordinated, integrated approach:

Within G7 member governments, remember that integration begins at home and make climate-fragility risks a central foreign policy priority.
Improve coordination among G7 members by coming together for a new dialogue.
Set the global resilience agenda by bringing the new integrated approach to global and multilateral discussions and institutions.

Extend the dialogue by listening to and working with a wide range of actors, including in countries affected by fragility.

And to embody this new approach, as areas in which it could be implemented, the report identifies five action areas:
Strengthening global risk assessment by covering all aspects and making the results available and accessible;
Improving food security to minimise food price crises, thus minimising their conflict consequences;
Improving disaster risk reduction by absorbing conflict sensitivity into planning and training;
Checking and strengthening the institutions and agreements that can help settle transboundary water disputes;
Recalibrating development strategies and international development assistance so as to give greater priority to building local resilience.


But where to start?

There is, then, no real difficulty in identifying what action to take and how to do it. The likely objection to the list of action areas is only that it is incomplete. The challenge is, how to start?

Here is what the G7 communiqué says:

“We therefore welcome the external study, commissioned by the G7 Foreign Ministries in 2014 and now submitted to us under the title “An New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks” …

“We agree on the need to better understand, identify, monitor and address the compound risks associated with climate change and fragility…

“We have decided to set up and task a working group with evaluating the study’s recommendations up to the end of 2015 in order for it to report back to us regarding possible implementation in time for our meeting in 2016.”
Start here – we’ve been invited to

It is not exactly a clarion call for path breaking action. It lacks the necessary political juice. But it is an open invitation to keep pressing.

The first part of the case – that there is a major global problem – has now been made and is grounded in solid evidence. With this, virtually as a corollary, goes the second part of the case: business as usual is not an option, change is needed.

The third part of the case – there are many things that can usefully be done to alleviate and manage the compound climate-fragility risks – has also been made.

It is the fourth part of the case – now is the time – that has to be made and has to persuade. Let’s get to it.

—————————–
This piece was originally posted on Dan’s blog on 22 April 2015.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

How You Can Go Solar Without Even Owning a Single Panel

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch

20 April 15

We know that solar power in the U.S. is growing at leaps and bounds and is only getting cheaper. Still, there are limitations. Not everyone has the ability to harness the sun’s power, especially if you’re not a property owner, don’t have the proper rooftop or can’t afford the costly solar panel installation process.

Enter Yeloha, a new Boston-based peer-to-peer solar startup that allows anyone to go solar. Yes, even if you live in a rented apartment, have a roof blocked by a particularly shady tree or don’t have the funds for panels.

Customers can sign up for the service as a “sun host” or a “sun partner.” Sun hosts are for homeowners who have a suitable roof for solar but can’t afford panels. Yeloha will install the panels for free in exchange for access to the solar power the panels create. Sun hosts will also get about a third of the electricity created by the panels, all for free. This translates to lower monthly power bills for the homeowner.

The remaining power goes to the sun partners, who are customers that want to go solar but don’t have a proper roof or don’t own their home. Sun partners can buy as many solar credits as they’d like from Yehola at a price that’s less than what they’d normally pay to their utility.

Sun hosts can also assign their electricity to specific partners, and sun partners can choose who hosts their power. The savings work out to about 10 percent less than the utility’s prices for a year’s worth of energy which admittedly isn’t a lot. But as Amit Rosner, Yeloha co-founder and CEO, told Inc., switching to solar is also about fighting climate change. “While [customers] save money,” he said, “they also save the world.”

The service is currently offered invite-only for residents in Massachusetts (a state that’s particularly friendly towards solar), and has plans for expansion across the country. The company recently raised $3.5 million in funding, which means Yeloha might come to a residential area near you soon.

In this growing sharing economy, people are already renting out their homes, cars and even their clothes. Yehola is simply asking, why not share the sun’s power for all?

“Our mission is to create and accelerate the confluence of the sharing economy and solar energy,” Rosner said. “We’ve seen the extraordinary impact of collaborative connections in many industries—from transportation to travel. Now, the power of sharing comes to solar power.”

——————-

COMMENTS:

# JJS 2015-04-20 16:01
It is wonderful that there are so many innovative ideas and new ways of generating and sharing power. Meeting the needs of the community will take more than just getting those solar panels and wind turbines up and spinning. There is an infrastructure of wires, transformers and other equipment connecting the community to the power grid. I’m sure that Yeloha and the Sun Hosts utilize the grid’s infrastructure to transport the energy it is generating and collecting and distributing. But who is paying to maintain the infrastructure?
 www.scientificamerican.com/articl…

This is an important issue that will bite us in the butt if not taken into consideration and worked through. We need some comprehensive planning for switching to the new paradigm of small electrical generating units that use and share their energy.

# Billy Bob 2015-04-20 16:16
Great idea! I also like the fact that all of our streets, sidewalks, and parking lots could be solar panels now.

Now, the only thing left, is to get the oil industry and their Washington whores out of the way.

We already KNOW that we could go completely 100% solar and wind, without ANY need for filthy fuels, ever again, but the entrenched, TAX-PAYER FUNDED, greedy lunatics are in the way.

# kevenwood 2015-04-20 22:57
And let us not forget that a lot of areas allow you to choose your electricity provider. And choose the plan, some of which are 100% wind and solar plans. So you can go wind or solar without even having to get solar panels installed.

The rate is not a lot higher — we could see a boost in wind in solar if more of us opt for the wind and solar plans.

###

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

ELI NATHANAEL’S BLOG stepped in to highlight the plight of citizens that invested in photo-voltaics and produce excess of electricity for which the local utility, that is part of the larger grid, claims it is losing income if it were to buy this electricity. Obviously the larger National interest is in the increase of reliance on electricity from solar energy – the environment, politics, independence of foreign sources, outflow of funds – all point at clear need of government intervention on the side of the wise and entrepreneurial home owners.


Solar Power Battle Puts Hawaii at Forefront of Worldwide Changes

By DIANE CARDWELL, for The New York Times – Sunday, April 19, 2015

As homemade electricity gains popularity, it puts new pressures on old infrastructure and cuts into electric company revenue, pitting solar companies against utilities.


Utility vs. Homeowners Over Solar Power.

In Hawaii, where 12 percent of the homes have solar panels, handling the surplus power is putting pressure on the state’s biggest utility, which is fighting to reduce what it pays for the energy.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Fix: Jon Stewart on why Cheney, and not Obama, is softer on Iran.

by Hunter Schwarz April 17, 2015 for the Washington Post.

In an interview with Hugh Hewitt last week, Dick Cheney said President Obama was basically about to give Iran nuclear weapons.

“This is a totally radical regime that is the premier sponsor of state terrorism in the world and Obama’s about to give them nuclear weapons,” Cheney said. “I can’t think of a more terrible burden to leave the next president than what Obama’s creating here.”

On “The Daily Show” Thursday, Jon Stewart, wearing a detective hat, wanted to prove the former vice president wrong.

“Really?” he asked. “You can’t think of an administration that left a more terrible burden?”

He showed a clip Cheney on the board of Halliburton in 1998, arguing that the United States should lift sanctions in Iran, and a 2004 Houston Chronicle report noting that, before Cheney left Halliburton to become Bush’s running mate, Halliburton opened an office in Tehran.

“You, sir, were arguing for the United States to lift sanctions on Iran so your company Halliburton could get contracts with this radical regime, contracts worth millions of dollars,” he said to a red balloon with a frowny face meant to represent Cheney.

But the balloon floated away before he could question it more.

———————–

Hunter Schwarz covers the intersection of politics and pop culture for the Washington Post

 washingtonpost.com

———————–

For those that want to have more fun with Dick Cheney – just watch out he does not shoot you – in true fact -
please watch in private:  www.washingtonpost.com

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

AND ALTERNATE’S REPORT ON THE SAME TOPIC:

News & Politics
Jon Stewart Crushes Dick Cheney for Misleading the Public About Iran
A certain former vice president has some explaining to do.

By Allegra Kirkland / AlterNet
April 17, 2015


There are certain politicians Jon Stewart clearly relishes mocking.
There’s his southern belle Lindsey Graham impression; Mitch McConnell as slow, bewildered turtle; and as an old-standby, Dick Cheney as evil Sith lord. Stewart dedicated much of last night’s episode to debunking the misleading statements made by Cheney, or as Stewart calls him, a man who is “rotten to his very core, which is in itself a tiny black hole from which no joy or light could escape.”

Cheney recently appeared on conservative radio to excoriate Obama for the Iran deal, claiming that the president is “about to give” nuclear weapons to the “premiere sponsor of state terrorism in the world.” Apparently in Cheney’s mind, anyone who strengthens the strategic position of Iran is attempting to weaken America. In an elaborate skit, Stewart assumes the disguise of a Sherlock Holmes character to uncover the mystery of who initiated the buildup of Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

The results of his sleuthing? The U.S. invasion of Iraq, masterminded by Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, strengthened Iran’s regional position, allowing the country to build up 20 times the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges than they had when the Bush administration first entered office.

#ThanksCheney

———————

Allegra Kirkland is AlterNet’s associate managing editor. Her writing has appeared in the Chicago Reader, Salon, Daily Serving and The Nation.

———————

DOES ANYONE STILL DOUBT THAT IT WAS THE CHENEY/BUSH ADMINISTRATION THAT MASTERMINDED THE NEW MIDDLE EAST WHERE THE MAJOR LOCAL POWER IS IRAN ON ITS WAY TO BECOME A GLOBAL POWER AS WELL?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

U.S.
Legal Battle Begins Over Obama Bid to Curb Greenhouse Gases.

By CORAL DAVENPORT – The New York Times – APRIL 16, 2015
 www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/us/leg…

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s most far-reaching regulation to slow climate change will have its first day in court on Thursday, the beginning of what is expected to be a multiyear legal battle over the policy that Mr. Obama hopes to leave as his signature environmental achievement.

In two separate but related cases to be jointly argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the country’s two largest coal companies, along with 14 coal-producing states, have challenged a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation, which the agency issued under the authority of the Clean Air Act, to curb planet-warming carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. If put in effect as E.P.A. officials have proposed, the rule is intended to fundamentally transform the nation’s power sector, shuttering hundreds of coal plants and expanding renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia are backing the Obama administration’s proposal. No matter the outcome of the case, it is widely expected that it will be appealed, and that more lawsuits will follow — and that its fate will ultimately end up before the Supreme Court.

In the two cases, Murray Energy v. E.P.A. and West Virginia v. E.P.A., the plaintiffs contend that the E.P.A. lacks the authority to issue the rule in the first place, and so should stop working on the rule before making it final.

Among the lawyers arguing on behalf of the coal companies is Laurence H. Tribe, a renowned Harvard scholar of constitutional law, who was also a mentor to Mr. Obama when he attended law school. Republicans who opposed the rule have cheered Mr. Tribe’s role in the case.

Legal experts say it is also possible that the judges could throw the case out, since the rule has only been proposed and thus contains language that could change when released in the final form.

“Is industry right that the agency lacks the authority to regulate? The challenge is extremely unusual, since the rule is proposed, and not final,” said Jody Freeman, the director of Harvard University’s environmental law program and a former senior counselor to Mr. Obama. “For a court to entertain that would go against decades and decades of precedent.”

If the court does entertain the case, it will enter into more unusual legal territory. The coal companies and the E.P.A. dispute the interpretation of ambiguously worded amendments to the Clean Air Act passed in 1990. Under those amendments, legal experts say, it is not clear whether the E.P.A. has the authority to use one section of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, since the agency has already used a different section of the law to regulate different pollutants from power plants.

When the 1990 legislation was passed, the House version of the law appeared to prohibit such “double regulation,” experts say, but the Senate version appeared to allow it. The final version of the legislation left the question unclear.

In arguing that it has the authority to regulate different pollutants from the same sources, the E.P.A. will point to the 1990 Senate language. In arguing that the agency lacks the authority, the coal companies will point to the House language.
Continue reading the main story
Recent Comments
Jack McHenry 3 minutes ago

West Virginia is leading the charge against life as we know it on planet Earth? Really, West by God Virgina? What’s wrong with this…
Geoffrey James 3 minutes ago

Opponents or the regulations are optimistic about the outcome because the three judges hearing the appeal were appointed by Republican…
whatever 3 minutes ago

I see this as a good thing, since I believe the coal lobby will lose. The U.S. courts — even the right-leaning Supreme Court, which sided…

See All Comments Write a comment

“It’s an extremely technical argument about how the statute was put into the U.S. code 25 years ago — it’s basically a clerical error,” said Kevin Desharnais, an expert on environmental law with the firm Mayer Brown.

Patrick Morrissey, attorney general of West Virginia, which is leading the states’ petition against the E.P.A., said the agency is trying to exploit the ambiguity in a law to enact sweeping regulations that could transform the American energy economy. “They are trying to bring life to a clerical error,” he said. “Now it’s being used to put forth a major transformation to American energy policy — and to cause harm to West Virginia.”

Opponents of the rule say they are optimistic about the outcome in part because of the judges presiding over the case. All three were appointed by Republican presidents — two by President George W. Bush, and one by his father.

Typically, a rule is proposed by the E.P.A., which then takes public comment on the proposal. The E.P.A. may then adapt the rule before issuing the final version. The Obama administration proposed the coal plant rule last June, and is expected to release the final version this summer.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Editorial – April 15, 2015
A Reckless Act in the Senate on Iran
By THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has created potentially dangerous uncertainties by approving a bill that would require Congress to vote on any final nuclear deal with Iran.

Editorial – April 15 2015
Senator Sessions, Straight Up
By THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD

In arguing the case for letting in fewer foreigners, the senator ignores the truth that immigration, over all, is good for the American economy.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Welcome to Foreign Policy Editors’ Picks for April 14 2015, FP’s round-up of the day’s best articles of the day.

Today, we look at Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power struggle, the aftermath of the Garissa attack in Kenya, and why the United States and Nigeria failed to bring the Chibok girls back.

KILL>CAPTURE: The Obama administration’s explicit policy is to capture suspected terrorists, not kill them. So why is the opposite taking place? FP’s Micah Zenko explores what’s behind the president’s affinity for drones:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/kil…

Outmuscling the kingdom: The War in Yemen has exposed a naked struggle for influence between Riyadh and Tehran in the Middle East — and the Islamic Republic is coming out on top:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/yem…

BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE MOGADISHU: In the wake of the Garissa University attack, Somali expats in a Nairobi neighborhood are caught between an increasingly indiscriminate al Shabab and a heavy handed police force:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/ken…

THE OTHER KIND OF GRIDLOCK: Despite the White House’s objections, Democrats sided with Republicans to unanimously approve a bill that could scuttle a final nuclear deal with Iran. FP’s John Hudson reports: Read more at: THE OTHER KIND OF GRIDLOCK: Despite the White House’s objections, Democrats sided with Republicans to unanimously approve a bill that could scuttle a final nuclear deal with Iran. FP’s John Hudson reports:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/cor…

STILL NOT BACK: One year ago, the Chibok girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram. FP’s David Francis reports on how the United States and Nigeria failed to rescue the 219 abducted girls:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/why…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Juan Cole | US History of Coup-Making Overshadows Obama’s Outreach to Iran, Latin American Left
Cuban president Fidel Castro and then vice-president Richard Nixon at a press reception in Washington in 1956. (photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

from RSN – Reader Supported News | 12 April 2015

Juan Cole, Informed Comment
Cole writes: “Some observers count 51 US military or covert interventions in Latin America since 1890. Quite apart from the Cold War covert ops, the US intervened militarily in Cuba no less than four times in the late 19th and first third of the twentieth century.”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

Cornel West on Growing Resistance: “They’re Marching and They Will Not Stop”
Michael Cabanatuan, SF Gate
Cabanatuan writes: “‘You live in a society where black lives have such a low priority that people think you can just shoot them like a dog, go home and drink tea,’ West said. ‘White supremacy is alive in the U.S. and we have to hit it head on.’”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/news-sect…

Another Day Another Unarmed Black Man Shot, Killed by American Police
Tom McCarthy, Guardian UK
McCarthy writes: “Police in Oklahoma said they do not intend to further investigate an incident in which a volunteer, undercover 73-year-old ‘reserve deputy’ mistook his gun for a Taser and shot and killed a suspect who was wrestling on the ground with a sheriff’s deputy.”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/news-sect…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 12th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: Avaaz.org [mailto:avaaz@avaaz.org]
Sent:Sunday, 12 April 2015

Liebe Freundinnen und Freunde,

Uruguay hat eines der besten Nichtrauchergesetze der Welt — und dafür wird das Land nun von Philip Morris verklagt. Der Tabakgigant könnte den Fall sogar gewinnen, es sei denn, wir schreiten ein.

Es ist erschreckend: Ein Konzern könnte mit einem tödlichen Produkt Gesetze kippen, die unsere Gesundheit schützen. Die Richter sind bereits unter Beschuss geraten, weil sie die öffentliche Meinung bei ähnlichen Fällen nicht beachtet haben. Sorgen wir dafür, dass das jetzt passiert: Wenn wir einen riesigen Aufruf starten und erstklassige Rechtsexperten engagieren, die unsere Stimmen in den Gerichtssaal tragen, können sie nicht weghören. So könnten wir verhindern, dass ihr Urteil einen schlimmen Präzedenzfall schafft.

Zeigen wir den Gerichten, dass es hier nicht nur um Uruguay geht — wenn Tabakgiganten ihren Willen durchsetzen, schaffen sie damit überall freie Bahn für Rechtsklagen. Mindestens 4 weitere Länder sind bereits ins Visier von Unternehmen geraten und auch in vielen anderen Ländern sind Nichtrauchergesetze bedroht.

Die Zeit ist knapp — vor Gericht werden bereits die Argumente angehört. Klicken Sie, um die öffentliche Gesundheit und unsere Demokratie vor der Habgier großer Unternehmen zu schützen. Unsere Namen werden dem Gericht überreicht:
 secure.avaaz.org/de/uruguay_vs_b…

In Uruguay müssen Zigarettenschachteln zu 80 Prozent mit gesundheitlichen Warnhinweisen und Schockbildern versehen werden. Das Rauchen war dort zu einer Krise ausgeartet, die täglich etwa sieben Uruguayern das Leben kostete. Doch seit es das Gesetz gibt, wird von Jahr zu Jahr weniger geraucht! Nun behauptet der Tabakriese Philip Morris jedoch, dass die Warnhinweise keinen Platz für seine Markenzeichen lassen.

All dies ist Teil einer weltweiten Strategie von Philip Morris: Länder zu verklagen und einzuschüchtern. Der Konzern hat Australien bereits einen teuren Gerichtsfall aufgedrückt, und wenn er jetzt gegen Uruguay Erfolg hat, könnte Philip Morris in über Hundert weiteren Ländern Klagen einleiten — darunter Frankreich, Norwegen, Neuseeland und Finnland. Denn in all diesen Ländern werden gerade neue lebensrettende Gesetze erwägt.

Experten sagen, dass Philip Morris gute Gewinnchancen hat. Schließlich wird das Verfahren hinter verschlossenen Türen vor einem internationalen Schiedsgericht behandelt, das letztes Jahr bei zwei Dritteln der Fälle zugunsten von Unternehmen geurteilt hat. Und das Urteil ist verbindlich, obwohl viele der Richter keine unparteiischen Rechtsexperten, sondern Privatpersonen mit Verbindungen zur Unternehmenswelt sind. Bringen wir sie also dazu, über die verheerenden Auswirkungen nachzudenken, die ihr Urteil für die weltweite Gesundheit haben könnte.

Uruguay hat sein eigenes Team von Rechtsexperten, doch diese konzentrieren sich zurecht auf ihre jeweiligen Verteidigungsargumente. Wir können jedoch ein einzigartiges rechtliches Argument zum Tragen bringen: dass dieses Urteil einen Präzedenzfall für jedes Land schaffen würde, in dem Rauchergesetze und ähnliche Handelsabkommen existieren. Wir können den Richtern außerdem zeigen, dass die Menschen hinter ihnen stehen, wenn sie zugunsten Uruguays und der öffentlichen Gesundheit urteilen.

Je mehr von uns unterschreiben, desto schwieriger ist es für die Richter, unseren Aufruf zu ignorieren. Klicken Sie unten, um mitzumachen, und verbreiten Sie diese Email:
 secure.avaaz.org/de/uruguay_vs_b…

Wenn Großkonzerne das Gemeinwohl in tödliche Gefahr bringen, tritt unsere Gemeinschaft in Aktion. Sei es bei Monsanto oder bei H&M — wir haben immer wieder dafür gesorgt, dass Profite nicht über das Wohl der Menschen gestellt werden. Und jetzt können wir das noch einmal tun.

Voller Hoffnung,

Emma, Maria Paz, Katie, Mais, Alice, Ricken, Risalat und das ganze Avaaz-Team

WEITERE INFORMATIONEN

Philip Morris klagt gegen Rauchverbot in Uruguay (Die Welt)
 www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article133…

Rechtsstreit um Geld oder Leben (Deutsche Welle)
 www.dw.de/rechtsstreit-um-geld-od…

Wie Konzerne Staaten vor sich hertreiben: Philip Morris vs Uruguay (Die Zeit Online)
 www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2014-03/in…

Und auf Englisch:

Philip Morris verklagt Uruguay wegen Schockbildern auf Zigarettenschachteln (NPR)
 www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/20…

Jüngste Trends bei Investitionsschutzabkommen und Investor-Staat-Streitbeilegung (UNCTAD)
 unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary…

Das Spiel der Schiedsgerichte (The Economist)
 www.economist.com/news/finance-an…
  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, Austria, European Union, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, Reporting from Washington DC, Uruguay, Vienna

###