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Reporting from Washington DC:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

In New York City – the meeting place will be at the SW Corner of W.64 Street & Broadway.
The march will be along Central Park West.

Think of the 2015 400,000 people strong march and its global impact. Please just show up
in order to tell the ruling skeptics that SCIENCE MATTERS.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Intercept

New York Times Promises Truth and Diversity, Then Hires Climate-Denying Anti-Arab White Guy

April 14, 2017

FOLLOWING DONALD TRUMP’S election, The New York Times promised its readers that it would aggressively pursue truth and challenge power in the days and months ahead. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and executive editor Dean Baquet wrote an open letter to readers on November 13, vowing to “hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly.”

And readers responded in droves. During the last three months of 2016, the Times added 276,000 digital subscribers — readers who were presumably drawn to the promise of aggressive and adversarial writing that was firmly based in reality.

“The truth is more important now than ever,” the Times proclaimed in an ad during the Oscars in February.

The Times has also strongly committed itself to diversity in its hiring. Times CEO Mark Thompson told hiring managers last year that supervisors who failed to recruit minority candidates would be encouraged to leave or fired.

“Only by having a staff as wide as it is deep, broad in perspective, backgrounds and experiences are we able to capture the multitude of voices of America and the world, with true fidelity,” the company proclaims in its mission statement.

But the Times’s editorial page — which is distinct from the newsroom — apparently has other priorities.


In the paper’s biggest marquee hire since the election, the Times has poached the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens as a regular columnist.

In a statement announcing the hire, Editorial Page Editor James Bennet explained the move in glowing terms.

“He’s a beautiful writer who ranges across politics, international affairs, culture and business, and, for The Times, he will bring a new perspective to bear on the news,” Bennet wrote. He summarized Stephens as a “generous and thoughtful colleague with a deep sense of moral purpose and adventure about our work.”

But Stephens’s voice is hardly new to the media landscape — it echoes the powerful and attacks the powerless, specifically marginalized groups like Arabs and Muslims who have little representation in U.S. media.

And although Stephens has been hailed as an anti-Trump conservative, he and Trump share a very significant belief that defies reality: They both deny the existence of climate change. Stephens used his Wall Street Journal columns to compare climate science to a religion, saying that environmental groups “have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.”


In April of 2010, he proclaimed that “global warming is dead, nailed into its coffin one devastating disclosure, defection and re-evaluation at a time. Which means that pretty soon we’re going to need another apocalyptic scare to take its place.”

He then mockingly proposed “a readers’ contest to invent the next panic. It must involve something ubiquitous, invisible to the naked eye, and preferably mass-produced. And the solution must require taxes, regulation, and other changes to civilization as we know it.”

And as a white male member of the media elite, he hardly brings diversity to the stable of editorial page columnists. Indeed, several regulars already hold right-wing or center-right views. And although the editorial board consistently espouses liberal positions in the editorial column, the op-ed page by and large has to outsource to publish genuinely left perspectives on most major issues.

The Times editorial page currently does not have a female minority columnist and, despite frequently writing about conflicts in the Middle East, employs no regular Arab American or Muslim American writers.

On the contrary, at a time when Arab American and Muslim American civic society faces unprecedented demonization from a presidential administration, the Times has chosen to hire someone who takes part in it regularly.

For instance, Stephens used Egyptian judo player Islam El Shehaby’s politically-based refusal to shake hands with his Israeli opponent at the Rio Olympics last year as an excuse to launch into a long racist tirade against the state of the Arab world.

“If you want the short answer for why the Arab world is sliding into the abyss, look no further than this little incident,” Stephens wrote. “It did itself in chiefly through its long-abiding and all-consuming hatred of Israel, and of Jews.”

He claimed that “the Arab world’s problems are a problem of the Arab mind, and the name for that problem is anti-Semitism.”

This “Arab mind,” in Stephens’s telling, has few achievements. “Today there is no great university in the Arab world, no serious indigenous scientific base, a stunted literary culture,” he explained — all of which would continue until the Shehabys of the world would embrace their Israeli judo counterparts.

Responding to a wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis in 2014, Stephens shrugged off the international consensus that occupation and statelessness is the root of the conflict, instead blaming it on “Palestinian blood fetish.” To him, they had “been seized by their present blood lust — a communal psychosis in which plunging knives into the necks of Jewish women, children, soldiers and civilians is seen as a religious and patriotic duty, a moral fulfillment. Despair at the state of the peace process, or the economy? Please. It’s time to stop furnishing Palestinians with the excuses they barely bother making for themselves.”

In January 2017, Stephens wrote that “maybe” Palestinians are entitled to a state, but then ticked off a long list of other peoples, including “Native Hawaiians,” who also lack a state, so “what gives Palestinians the preferential claim?” At least they aren’t being ruled by the Chinese, he argued: “Have they experienced greater violations to their culture than Tibetans? No: Beijing has conducted a systematic policy of repression for 67 years, whereas Palestinians are nothing if not vocal in mosques, universities and the media.”

Stephens also frequently appears in the media arguing for military attacks and regime change in the Middle East.

He has directly helped activists lobby to scuttle diplomacy. In 2015, as Congress was debating the nuclear deal with Iran, he held an off-the-record call with the Christian Zionist group Christians United For Israel, where he advised them on how to lobby members of Congress.

He is, however, an outspoken supporter of one prominent Muslim: Egypt’s autocratic leader Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who he interviewed in 2015 in an article titled “Islam’s improbable reformer.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

George Soros  info at georgesoros.com via mail31.atl111.rsgsv.net
5:45 PM (3 hours ago)

to PJawetz

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
George thought you might be interested in this excellent Op-Ed published in Project Syndicate by Gregory Maniatis, in which he argues against the proposed nearly 30% budget cuts for the UN’s efforts that “support refugees, feed the poor, protect human rights, vaccinate children, and uphold peace”.

All best,
Michael Vachon

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Trump’s Tomahawks Won’t Help

Project Syndicate
April 11, 2017
By: Gregory Maniatis

There is a tragic inconsistency in US President Donald Trump’s response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of sarin gas against his country’s people. Trump said that he was moved to act by images of innocent children in Idlib province who had been killed by the deadly nerve agent. Yet Trump’s administration stands behind a proposed budget that will cause even greater harm to people in Idlib and around the world.

For starters, Trump wants to slash overall funding to the United Nations – a move that would undermine the entire global humanitarian-aid system. Last year, the US contributed about $10 billion to UN efforts that support refugees, feed the poor, protect human rights, vaccinate children, and uphold peace. Trump not only wants to cut that spending by nearly 30%; he also plans to gut or even eliminate US government programs that help prevent starvation and provide essential services in Idlib and elsewhere.

Even seeming minor cuts can have an outsize impact. For example, the State Department is scrapping Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance, a small but crucial fund that has been deployed in Idlib to provide emergency food aid to Syrians driven from their homes by Assad’s army. In the past, the fund has quelled unforeseen crises in South Sudan, Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire, and other countries.

Furthermore, Trump wants steep cuts to the US Agency for International Development’s Food for Peace program, which has helped to feed three billion people in 150 countries since President Dwight D. Eisenhower created it in 1954, and to eliminate the US Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. He also wants a one-third cut in funding to UNICEF, which provides clean water for children. And he seeks to reduce the United States’ $2 billion contribution to the World Food Program.

Such cuts could hardly come at a worse time. The UN has declared a famine for the first time since 2011, as 20 million people face starvation in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. UNICEF estimates that almost 1.4 million children are already at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition, and urges concerted action to save them.

Moreover, many fragile states are at risk of becoming failed ones, exacerbating the ongoing refugee crisis. As the new state of South Sudan has gradually collapsed into starvation and chaos, more than 600,000 people have fled into Uganda alone. Globally, 65 million people have been forced from their homes in recent years; 23 million of them are international refugees.

Yet Trump is also set to undermine already-strained refugee programs. The UN Refugee Agency receives $1.5 billion of its $4 billion budget from the US. Trump wants to slash its contribution by more than $500 million. As if that were not enough, Trump has signed executive orders that could reduce US refugee admissions by more than half, to just 50,000 this fiscal year.

It is against this background that Trump expressed his horror at the recent chemical attack in Syria. Of course, Trump is right to be horrified by the situation in Syria. Nearly a half-million people have died there since 2011. The number of Syrian refugees outside the country topped five million last week. This has destabilized neighboring countries, where nearly four million refugees now reside, as well as the European Union, which has received most of the rest.

But military action alone will do little to solve Syria’s problems. Even the generals on whom Trump relies say that his budget cuts are folly. “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately,” Defense Secretary General John Mattis said in February. That same month, more than 120 retired generals signed a letter to Trump arguing that funding the State Department and the USAID is “critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”

Congress should reject Trump’s budget proposal unanimously. But it probably won’t. In the House of Representatives, the Republican majority is hopelessly divided. Fiscal conservatives prefer a balanced budget to international aid, and the far-right Freedom Caucus wants to limit the scope of government every way it can.

In the Senate, a majority seems to understand the recklessness of the Trump administration’s approach. “America being a force is a lot more than building up the Defense Department,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “Diplomacy is important, extremely important, and I don’t think these reductions at the State Department are appropriate, because many times diplomacy is a lot more effective – and certainly cheaper – than military engagement.” But, despite such strong words, no concerted opposition to the proposed budget cuts has emerged in the Senate.

Preparing a budget is both challenging and important. But the arcane details of that process must not be allowed to obscure the reality that the world is facing a serious humanitarian crisis. The US has a long tradition of providing relief to populations worldwide. To break with that tradition – or, worse, to play an active role in creating a humanitarian crisis – would amount to a repudiation of the values America claims to uphold. Yet that is the path that the Trump administration seems set to take.

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Why does Trump pass on inviting to his inner circle of advisers wise people-of-business like George Soros or Warren Buffett?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

NOV 23, 2016 @ 02:38 PM 60,058
Why Clean Energy Can Withstand Changing Political Winds

Morgan StanleyVoice:
Capital Creates Change – Clean-energy-election-hero.


When President Obama first took office in 2008, it was hard to imagine how solar and wind would ever stand on their own as viable alternative sources of energy. Today, solar and wind are so price-competitive that players in the renewables industry were among the few that could afford to be cavalier about who won the U.S. election.


“The increasingly favorable economics of renewables are more important than the presidential election’s impact on the industry, in our view,” says Stephen Byrd, a senior analyst with Morgan Stanley. “Wind and solar are price-competitive in many parts of the U.S. It’s the economics and not the politics that’s driving the use of renewables.”

Over the past seven years, the cost of wind power has dropped from $60-$100 per megawatt-hour (MWh) to around $15-$25/MWh in the middle third of the U.S., and for large solar installations, it’s gone from $100-$300 to $40-$70 per MWh. Wind power is currently the cheapest source of energy in the middle third of the country, with its all-in cost of $15-$25/MWh, comparing with the $55-$65/MWh for a new natural-gas-fired plant.


Improving Economics

Driving their growing competitiveness are improvements in wind and solar technology, as well as some technical efficiency gains. Product Tax Credits, passed by Congress in 2015, will now provide the next bridge to ever-improving solar and wind economics going into 2020, although Morgan Stanley’s analysts argue in a recent report that neither depend on tax credits for survival.

“By the next decade, we project that wind and solar will be the cheapest resources in certain parts of the country, without any subsidies,” they state in the report. “Even without the Production Tax Credit, wind would be cheaper than gas-fired power by a wide margin. And by 2017, we project that large-scale solar projects in Texas will require revenue of about $45/MWh, lower than that required for a natural-gas-fired power plant.”

Changing Political Winds

President-elect Donald Trump has yet to lay out a comprehensive energy policy, although his comments during campaign speeches reveal his position on climate-change regulation. In May, he told audiences in North Dakota that he was opposed to the Obama Administration’s regulations “that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants.”

On the same day, he added: “We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan. We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to UN global-warming programs.”

Analysts say it isn’t clear whether a new president can cancel U.S. signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement. But the climate-change views of Trump’s coming appointment of the ninth Supreme Court Justice could be crucial, should pending legal challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan ever reach the high court.

Yet, even the failure of the Clean Power Plan wouldn’t slow the growth of renewables, according to the Morgan Stanley report. “Given the favorable economics relative to coal-fired generation of wind power in the middle third of the U.S.; solar in the West and Southwest U.S. and gas-fired generation throughout most of the U.S., we view the impact of the EPA Clean Power Plan as being relatively modest,” says the report.


For more Morgan Stanley Research on clean energy and the impact of changing politics, ask your Morgan Stanley representative or Financial Advisor for the full report, “The US Election: Impacts to Clean Tech and Utilities Skew Positive” (Jul 27, 2016). Plus, more Ideas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From Fareed’s website of Thursday April 13, 2017:

The Deep Danger of AI

The growing embrace of artificial intelligence and “deep learning” raises an important – and potentially troubling – issue, writes Will Knight in MIT Technology Review. What if we can no longer understand the decisions machines make?

“There’s already an argument that being able to interrogate an AI system about how it reached its conclusions is a fundamental legal right. Starting in the summer of 2018, the European Union may require that companies be able to give users an explanation for decisions that automated systems reach,” Knight says.

“This might be impossible, even for systems that seem relatively simple on the surface, such as the apps and websites that use deep learning to serve ads or recommend songs. The computers that run those services have programmed themselves, and they have done it in ways we cannot understand. Even the engineers who build these apps cannot fully explain their behavior.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From the pen of Prof.Robert Reich:

I Urge You to Boycott United Airlines

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Facebook Page
11 April 17

The night before last, United overbooked its plane traveling from Chicago to Louisville. It offered $400 and a hotel for passengers to voluntarily give up their seats. When it had no takers it upped the offer to $800, but still no one volunteered. So United randomly selected four passengers to be removed. Three obliged, but the fourth said he was a doctor and had to be at a hospital in morning and refused to deplane. As a result, the company forcibly dragged the man off the flight (see video, below it says – but we do not post videos).

Yesterday, United issued a statement via Twitter apologizing “for having to reaccommodate” its customers. Reaccommodate? This doesn’t look like any reaccommodation I’ve ever seen.

There are now only 4 major carriers left, including United. Nonetheless, if you have any choice at all, I urge you to boycott this disreputable and irresponsible airline.

What do you think?

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We post this because we sympathize with that passenger. As it turned out those seats were needed for airline personnel and we remember how years ago we were inconvenienced on an EL AL flight by that airline believing, as State owned, their personnel have over-riding priority.
We avoid EL AL since then.

we believe these are symptoms of a police state; An atmosphere of might makes right.

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

ALSO YESTERDAY:

Sean Spicer apologized Tuesday after saying Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II.

The White House press secretary had made the comment earlier Tuesday in an effort to shame Russia’s alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his use of chemical weapons.

“I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week, using chemical weapons and gas. Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison,” Spicer said. “And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”

Spicer, who said he was “aware” that gas chambers were used during the Holocaust, later said he should have “stayed focused” on Assad and asked people to forgive him.

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

With people getting in more information and having time to contemplate the Washington disasters -here some further notes:

DELTA AIRLINES broadcast – We beat the competition – not the customers.

The CHINESE MEDIA noted the bleeding doctor that was beaten up and dragged on the floor screaming was Asian – so you our people see how we are treated by Americans in their land.
Oh well we outside China may think that China is doing things even worse to protesters – but
who is to tell them so, if that is what they saw is democracy?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from Gelvin Stevenson
6:24 PM (2 minutes ago)

Perryman Thermal Battery—with a Molten Nickle/Iron Core.
Is this the Future of Thermal Storage?


Date: Friday, April 14, 2017
Time: 8:00am – 10:00am
Organizer: Gelvin Stevenson, PhD
Host: Sidley Austin LLP
Location: 787 Seventh Ave. (AXA Equitable Building, between 51st and 52nd Streets), 23rd Floor

Thermal Energy Storage gets not the respect it deserves. But thermal storage has been used for over a century and works extremely well. It has the lowest cost per kilowatt, the smallest volume per kilowatt—or, conversely, the highest energy density—of any energy storage technology.


Perryman Thermal Battery is poised to earn that respect.

Chemical Engineer Virgil Perryman has spent over six years developing and testing his technology. He has been granted two patents and applied for another one. The British Ministry of Defense tried considered his technology in its early years to be used by the British forces in Afghanistan, including a half scaled 13-ton unit that can powered command control for a forward base, a front line surgical unit and radar. They tested it for several years using heat generated by both solar thermal arrays as well as charging from AC or DC sources. The storage unit was then used to generate both heat and electricity as needed.

Mr. Perryman originally build an 30 ton initial prototype in 2010 which stored up to 10 MW of thermal energy and subsequently improved the technology so the same containment could store 29.9 MW of thermal energy and could produce 10 MW hours of electricity and 18 MW hours of thermal energy, idea for situations where heat and power are needed. Currently, a European group (which cannot be named) is testing Perryman Thermal Batteries as back-up generators for wind and other intermittent energy generation sources. After 16 months of testing one system where energy must be stored for over 180 days, the units are preforming flawlessly.

The company plans to start installing its thermal batteries later this year. Mr. Perryman has developed one model about the size of a large home hot water unit; another is about half that size and is targeted for homes in the United Kingdom. The first commercial installation is set for a new green residential development England where construction is about to start.

It’s no surprise that the technology works; it is, after all, based on a technology that’s been around way longer than humans. The battery stores energy the same way the Earth stores energy—making it rather like your ultimate bio-mimicry technology. The earth has a molten metal core that’s over 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about as hot as the sun! But the surface of the earth is about 60 degrees F. Why? Because of the multiple layers of refractory material between the core and the surface.

The company uses off-the-shelf magnetic induction to melt the nickel-iron core, which is surrounded by a special shield, which is surrounded by an alumina layer and layer of material very similar to the tiles used on the Space Shuttle tiles, a very efficient ceramic refractory which literally holds the heat in. Then there are more layers of ceramics of different density, all designed to trap the thermal energy, and finally a layer similar to the insulation you would find on your kitchen oven. The outside enclosure can be customized to various applications and for inside or outdoor use. Finally, the unit’s outside layer is warm to the touch (about 90 degrees F) but not hot; rather like the cooling fins on the back of a refrigerator. It is controlled by a touch pad with a remote-control option.

This is a proven technology, going back at least for 100 years. It has been used in the UK and throughout Europe. The Storage units can be safely transported by road, rail or sea, either un-charged or fully charged with 100 tons of molten steel and 29 MW of thermal energy.

It is a global battery, with the core from Austria, thermal transfer system from Germany, the controls from several suppliers including the USA, UK and Japan, and, finally, the closed loop steam generator from suppliers worldwide to allow local servicing and maintenance since it’s the only component with moving parts. While the supply chain may be complicated, the technology is simple.

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Register at the GIF Eventbrite page: Greentech Investors Forum
Or contact Gelvin at  gelvin.stevenson at gmail.com.
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Perryman Energy Storage Batteries compare very favorably with other battery technologies. They store roughly 10 times as much energy as Elon Musk’s Powerwall lithium-ion batteries (that have roughly a 10kWh storage capacity) and will cost half as much. Moreover, Perryman will offer a 10 year warranty. The company believes, however, that the battery will run 100 years and the steam turbines will last 30 years or more with proper maintenance. The company claims that the core, which is “solid state”, won’t run out; only the control system may need updating with the will the thermostat may have to be replaced periodically. The steam turbine—depending on the brand selected from country to country—can last a half of century without replacement.

In addition, the Perryman Battery bests Lithium Ion batteries because they last longer, are not poisonous, do not start fires and do not pollute.

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GIF thanks Investors Circle for its generous support, Geoff Miles, Chino Maduagwu, and Gary Kier for developing and operating GIF’s video, social media and design capabilities, Tonia Popke for her financial expertise, and Jesse Goldstein, PhD, for his continued support.
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The original cost will be about $13,500 each. They expect that to fall to about $6,000 each when they get to an annual production level of 10,000 units per year. This cost is way lower than competitors. Perryman Batteries cost $80/kW compared to $600/kW for molten salt, $250/kW for lithium ion, $320/kW for lead acid batteries and $500/kW for flow batteries.

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Disclaimer: The Greentech Investors Forum (GIF) is not soliciting funds for the presenting companies, nor is it encouraging parties to invest in them. We try to find good companies — not necessarily good investments. They have been advised on what is acceptable in terms of predicted results, but GIF takes no responsibility for what they actually do, say, or how they perform in the future. Gelvin Stevenson works with AgriPower, Inc.
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The company is currently working on a plan to offer the DC Metro (the Capitol’s subway system which consumer a huge amount of electricity) a solution that may reduce operating cost to a sustainable level. They are proposing to store cheap electricity during the off-peak periods and resupply during peak periods as well as provide thermal energy for Winter’s heating and drive absorption chiller for air conditioning in the Summers, all while cutting costs by 60%.
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Agenda: 8:00 to 8:30 – Networking & light breakfast
8:30 to 9:10 – Virgil Perryman, CEO, on the phone
9:10 to 9:30 – Larry Austin, Esq.
9:30 to 10:00 – Discussion

Security: Security is tight, so please register early. If there is a problem at the Security Desk, please contact Gelvin Stevenson at 917-599-6089.

Fees: $50, payable ahead of time or at the door. Cash or checks and credit cards accepted.

$25 for call-in. Registered call-ins will be emailed the call-in numbers and, if available, the slides to be presented.
$20 for students and faculty

To register, visit Greentech Investors Forum, the Eventbrite site above, or send your contact information to Gelvin Stevenson at  gelvin.stevenson at gmail.com or 917-599-6089. Please contact Gelvin If you have questions or need more information.

Bios

Virgil Perryman is the founder and inventor of Perryman Technologies. Virgil has had an extensive career that has culminated in the development of key patents in the areas of collection, storage, and application of thermal energy. These patents protect the technology used in the Perryman Troughs, Dishes, Perryman Micro Panels, Perryman Battery™, Non-Combustion Gas Turbines and the many globally important applications of these technologies.

Virgil’s technical specialty is the science of how elements behave and interact at very high temperatures. This has led to the ultimate energy storage system; the Perryman Battery™, which uses metal with high heat capacity in its molten state and can store in the larger batteries billions of joules of energy. Further, it can store this energy for months if not years until required. Virgil has also developed a reflective film that captures energy from both visible light and thermal from the infrared spectrum that can heat the metal in the battery to around 1650oC. Virgil’s full spectrum collectors can operate economically in nearly all locations globally, and certainly in many areas of the planet where conventional solar thermal and PV just does not work. This technology can be used to provide clean, renewable, low-cost energy for electricity, heating, cooling, water management, transportation, food and material production and many other applications which will have a positive impact on nearly every aspect of human life.

Sector Expert Larry Austin has an extensive history of corporate financings as well as merger and acquisition activity, both in the US and abroad. He has worked extensively in China, and has conducted due diligence on dozens of portfolios of distressed bank loans and other assets in China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Indonesia.

He has been instrumental in the development of several new financing structures, from credit enhancement work in the New York capital markets, to zero-coupon loan facilities in London and New York. He has worked extensively as a corporate lawyer, consultant and lecturer in the fields of technology start-ups (robotics, telecommunications, materials applications and AI) and commercialization of low-earth orbit activities, and served on the Commercial Advisory Subcommittees for NASA.

One of the most experienced lawyers in the field of Section 17 Corporate charters issued by the US Government to Native American Tribal Governments which enable such bodies to engage in commercial activities worldwide in a non-taxable vehicle, Mr. Austin also has experience in trademarks and copyright protection disputes. In this regard, he represented US based group of International Association of Motion Pictures Exporters, Porsche and other companies.

Larry Austin received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


NRG, a Power Company Leaning Green, Faces Activist Challenge.

By DIANE CARDWELL and ALEXANDRA STEVENSON – The New York Times – April 7, 2017.

Barry Smitherman in 2013, when he was chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, which largely regulates the oil and gas industry. Now on the board of the energy giant NRG, he has called global warming a hoax.


Over the years, NRG, a leading independent power producer whose fleet once depended heavily on coal, has made big bets on low-carbon energy technologies and publicized its embrace of sustainability as essential to its future.


It pursued developing renewable energy for customers large and small and set aggressive goals to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide — 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050.

But now, the company finds its strategy challenged from within.

Activist hedge-fund investors, intent on extracting value from NRG assets, have installed two directors on the board who, in one potential approach, would push to sell off some of the company’s renewable-power projects, raising questions about how it would meet its clean-energy goals.

It is but the latest skirmish in NRG’s long struggle to make several kinds of energy products — conventional and renewable, large-scale and decentralized — profitable under one corporate umbrella.

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RELATED STORIES OF THE PAST:

How Producing Clean Power Turned Out to Be a Messy Business AUG. 13, 2016

NRG Shifts Focus Away From Empowering Consumers JUNE 3, 2016

Elliott Management Appoints Jonathan Pollock as Co-Chief Executive NOV. 23, 2015
THE TEXAS TRIBUNE
Seeking Favor Among Those You Regulate APRIL 10, 2014
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Raising further questions, one of the directors installed by the activists, Barry T. Smitherman, a lawyer and former energy industry regulator from Texas, has publicly questioned accepted climate science and called global warming a hoax. “Don’t be fooled — not everyone believes in global warming,” he said on Twitter from a presentation called “The Myth of Carbon Pollution” at a conference of regulators in 2013.

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And that has drawn the attention of New York City’s comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, who oversees the city’s pension funds that are shareholders in NRG. On Friday, he filed a letter with the Securities and Exchange Commission urging shareholders to oust Mr. Smitherman at their annual meeting on April 27, 2016:

“In light of Mr. Smitherman’s stated views on climate change, which are incompatible with NRG’s disclosed business strategy and risks, we question his ability to act in the best interests of NRG and its shareholders,” Mr. Stringer wrote in the letter. “Additionally, we believe his role on the board sends a demoralizing message to the many NRG employees responsible for implementing the company’s existing business strategy and managing its risks.”

Mr. Smitherman did not return an email or phone call seeking comment about his views and how the board shake-up might affect NRG’s long-term strategies and goals.

The conflict has its roots in efforts led by Elliott Management, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund run by Paul E. Singer, and Bluescape Energy Partners, run by C. John Wilder, a former executive at the Texas utility TXU who has been credited with its turnaround.

Under Mr. Singer, an early titan of the hedge-fund industry who has also made a name for himself as a top Republican donor, Elliott has been known for its no-holds-barred approach to taking on companies and governments over its investments around the world.

As an activist investor, Elliott quietly builds up equity stakes in companies until it has a big enough position to start rattling the cages of a company’s management. In South Korea, Elliott became the first investor to publicly spar with Samsung, a conglomerate run by one of the country’s most powerful corporate dynasties. In Argentina, Elliott was pilloried in the local press as a “vulture” investor for waging a decade-long battle with the government over its defaulted debt.

In its investment in NRG, Elliott has so far remained largely behind the scenes. But in an emailed statement on Thursday, Elliott said that if a buyer in the market were willing to pay a premium for some of NRG’s renewables businesses, “it may be a good decision for NRG and its shareholders to crystallize that value.”

Most of the company’s power plants run on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, but it has extensive wind and solar farms, including several unfinished projects it bought last year from SunEdison, which had gone bankrupt. Earlier this year, the company reported a loss of $891 million for 2016, largely because of low natural gas prices, down from a $6.4 billion loss the year before.

As for investor concerns about the appointment of Mr. Smitherman, Elliott pointed to the fact that Mr. Smitherman had extensive knowledge of the Texas regulatory landscape. NRG is one of the largest energy suppliers in Texas, and some of its assets in the state could be considered for sale, requiring extensive knowledge of the regulatory hurdles.

Photo: Mauricio Guiterrez, chief executive of NRG, at its headquarters in Princeton, N.J. The building, opened last year, is described by the company as an “ultra-green” building emphasizing renewable energy technology. Credit Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
“Having someone with Mr. Smitherman’s strong Texas-centric utility regulatory background is crucial to helping NRG navigate this process,” said Michael O’Looney, an Elliott spokesman.

“At NRG, the debate is not over clean versus conventional generation,” Mr. O’Looney said. “The debate is simply over who is the best long-term owner of individual assets and fleets of assets that currently reside inside the broader NRG portfolio.”

Mr. Smitherman and Mr. Wilder are two of three independent board members on a five-member committee formed as part of the agreement with Elliott and Bluescape to make recommendations about cost savings, asset sales and other potential actions, according to Mr. Stringer’s letter. The company’s full board has 13 directors, according to its website.

Mr. Smitherman, an ally of Rick Perry, the energy secretary and former Texas governor, was chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, where he helped usher in the high-voltage transmission lines that spurred the development of a robust wind industry. He then ran the state Railroad Commission, which largely regulates the oil and gas industries.

It was not until around 2013, when he announced his candidacy for state attorney general, that Mr. Smitherman began publicly questioning climate science and global warming, according to energy experts in Texas. He appears to still support the development of renewable energy, writing in The Dallas Morning News in December about how beneficial Texas wind power development had been to the state.

NRG has reeled in recent years as it has sought to transform itself from a conventional-energy giant into a leader in the clean-energy economy.

“NRG is caught between what we consider the next generation of power supply and the status quo,” said Travis Miller, an energy and utilities analyst at Morningstar. “The move toward renewable energy and gas generation is a trend that won’t stop anytime soon so every power generator is trying to develop a strategy where they can benefit from the transition period.”

David Crane, a former chief executive, had tried to do that by transforming the company into the Google of green energy, investing in big renewable-energy projects and buying small start-ups to help capture emerging markets like rooftop solar, electric-vehicle charging and home automation. But the company pulled back from those ambitions as a combination of low oil and gas prices and the threat of rising interest rates led to turbulence in the energy markets and skittishness among renewable-energy investors and the company’s stock tumbled. Despite an elaborate reorganization aimed at cutting costs, reducing debt and better aligning the businesses with investors, Mr. Crane was pushed out in 2015, and replaced by Mauricio Gutierrez, the executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Mr. Gutierrez has continued to pursue the company’s sustainability and carbon reduction efforts, but in a more restrained way, focusing more on large-scale renewable projects and less on the emerging markets.


Marijke Shugrue, an NRG spokeswoman, said: “These are not altruistic, sustainability-only goals. We are firm believers in climate change and that CO2 emissions are a leading factor.”

The company, for instance, recently re-signed the Business Backs Low Carbon pledge organized by Ceres, an advocacy group.

But corporate aims may end up in the hands of directors with a different agenda.

In January, Elliott and Bluescape announced that they had each bought a large stake in NRG and were teaming up to put pressure on the company to make changes to its business. NRG was “deeply undervalued” and could be worth more if its management undertook “operational and financial improvements” as well as “strategic initiatives,” Elliott said at the time in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Elliott said that Mr. Wilder and his team had “directly relevant experience in effectuating such improvements,” adding that they were in a dialogue with the board.

By February, NRG announced that it had struck an agreement with Elliott, which owned 6.9 percent of the company’s stock, and Bluescape, which had 2.5 percent, to replace two outgoing directors and appoint Mr. Wilder and Mr. Smitherman.

NRG also agreed to undertake a business review of the different parts of the company, including examining “potential portfolio and/or asset de-consolidations.”

The company’s renewables business is likely to be among the assets spun off. Some analysts have argued that those businesses are undervalued because they are housed within NRG’s legacy business, which involves burning natural gas, coal and oil.

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A version of this article appears in print on April 8, 2017, on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: On Climate, NRG Faces a Challenge From Within.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

April 6, 2017

Niklas Höhne –  n.hoehne at newclimate.org


Whose international climate proposal is more ambitious?

Blog: newclimate.org/2017/04/06/whose-…

When countries put forward their climate proposals for the Paris Agreement, they were asked also to explain why these are ambitious. Countries found many ways to make their case: For example, the USA stated that its new proposal requires faster reduction than their earlier one. The EU declared that it wants to decrease emissions until 2030 by at least 40% since 1990, more than most other countries. China wants to peak its emissions before 2030 at a lower level (per capita) than for example the USA. If countries use different ways to describe their ambition, how do we know if one is more ambitious than the other? Only a comprehensive approach that covers all perspectives can be used to assess ambition of national climate policy – argues the new scientific article “Assessing the ambition of post-2020 climate targets: a comprehensive framework” by NewClimate Institute and and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency PBL.


The adoption and entry into force of the Paris Agreement is a big step forward in international climate policy. Nearly 190 countries submitted their proposals on how, and by how much, they are willing to reduce their GHG emissions after 2020; these are the so-called ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ (INDCs). Upon ratification of or accession to the Paris Agreement, a country’s ‘intended nationally determined contribution, INDC’ turns into a ‘nationally determined contribution, NDC’.

Unfortunately, the total ambition level of all national contributions is not yet sufficient to achieve the global goals of the Paris Agreement, i.e. to limit the increase of global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

Consequently, all countries are asked to revise their contributions and to increase the level of ambition over time. To guide this process, the NDCs of countries will have to be assessed on their relative ambition level. In fact, raising ambition is more likely if all countries agree that they are all at around the same ambition level that is appropriate for their national circumstances.

But how to assess the ambition level of climate policy?

If countries use different ways to describe their ambition, how do we know if one is more ambitious than the other? Countries found many ways to make their case:

USA promised to reduce their emissions in 2025 by 26% to 28% below 2005 level and state that its new proposal requires faster reduction than their earlier one.

The EU promised to decrease emissions until 2030 by at least 40% since 1990, arguing that this is more than most other countries.

China wants to peak its emissions before 2030. They claim that this is a peak at a lower level (per capita) than others before them.

In this new paper, we applied all different principles and arguments to assess ambition that we were aware of to the different country proposals, illustratively here for China, EU and the USA. If a country scores well on all of them, it can definitely be classified as ambitious. If it doesn’t score well on any of them it is definitely not ambitious. And if the different approaches give mixed signals, this highlights where improvements may be possible.

The following principles used by countries to assess ambition are considered in the paper:

A country’s reduction of emissions since 1990: the standard perspective for developed countries since 1992, also used in the Kyoto Protocol – a preferred metric by the EU.
Change in recent trend in emissions: a country would do more than before – the main argument in the proposal by the USA.
Time and level of peaking emissions per capita: countries go through different levels of development with first rising, then peaking and then declining emissions – the metric chosen by China.
Comparison to equity-based effort-sharing calculations: There is a long history of scientific studies that calculate “fair” emission targets of countries ‘effort-sharing’ principles. The principles include responsibility (e.g. those who emitted more in the past now have to reduce more) or capability (e.g. those with higher per capita income levels should do more), equality (i.e. equal emission rights per capita), cost-effectiveness (total abatement cost per GDP), as well as combinations.
Comparison to benchmarks of decarbonization indicators: A number of indicators can be used to describe countries’ circumstances and developments, e.g. on the national level emissions per capita, energy use per capita or the energy mix. On the sectoral level it could be emissions per kilometre travelled or per tonne of cement or steel produced. Indicators can measure activity (e.g. vehicle kilometres travelled) or intensity (emissions per vehicle kilometre) (see also the data portal of the Climate Action Tracker).
In line with globally cost-effective model pathways: Modelling exercises can identify required reductions by countries on the principle of minimising the aggregated global costs of emission reductions. As a result, reductions are required in those sectors and countries where they are least cost from a global perspective.
Comparison to best practice policy package or policy menu: One can compare the extent to which a country implemented supporting policies, addresses barriers, or has counterproductive policies in place. A contribution can be regarded as ambitious if it includes many policies that are considered good practice, while it would be less ambitious if the country were not to implement the policies that most of its peers have already successfully implemented (see also climate policy database).
What are the results?

As expected, example countries used in the analysis score very differently across the approaches. However, the collective results show certain tendencies. For example, the EU scores highest among the three on many approaches (in many cases together with China and/ or the US). Only when using the principle of “changes in recent trends” (the metric that the USA chose to explain its ambition) is the US clearly ahead of the EU.

The comparison of China and the US is, in essence, determined by how far the different development levels should be taken into account: China is consistently ahead of the US when considering decarbonization indicators and level and timing of peaking emissions. Owing to a lower development level, its emission intensity and activity levels are lower than in the US. The US, on the other hand, has a more comprehensive policy package and proposes more change from the current policy scenarios.

The overview evaluation highlights the shortcomings of each proposal and therefore provides insights into where improvements could take place. Although the EU scores well on many aspects, our framework shows that the current NDC means only limited progression from current trends. For the US, even with a step change in policy, our comparison of approaches shows that activity and energy intensity levels are still much higher than in other countries. Regarding China, although its activity and energy intensity indicators are still low and it is undertaking significant policy efforts in some areas, the analysis reveals that many policy areas remain unaddressed.

So what have we learned?

Firstly, a comprehensive assessment of ambition of climate proposals can only be undertaken using a large variety of evaluation approaches. Each single approach has its pros and cons, starts from a very particular perspective, and no single approach is truly comprehensive. The different nature of the evaluation approaches leads to different outcomes; only if all of them are applied, does it become evident if a country is broadly ambitious, or only under very selective perspectives. Such a comprehensive approach could therefore be usefully applied when considering ways to raise ambition. The Paris Agreement suggests that this should happen at the “facilitative dialogue” in 2018, and the “global stocktake” that is to take place every five years starting from 2023.

Secondly, we put forward a comprehensive framework of evaluation approaches that covers, to our knowledge, the broadest possible range of approaches. The framework evaluates countries using all eight approaches shown here, rank countries relative to each other where possible, and present the results alongside each other (without aggregating into one overall rating).

Finally, we find that the illustrative application of this framework provides useful insights even if the ambition level of China, the EU, and the US varies, depending on the perspective taken. The EU ranks consistently first or second across many of the approaches. Only when considering “changes in recent trends” is the US clearly ahead of the EU. The comparison of China and the US is, in essence, determined by how far the different development levels should be taken into account.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


CLIMATE CHANGE CORPORATIONS – CLIMATE DENIERS

Exxon Knew Everything There Was to Know About Climate Change by the Mid-1980s—and Denied It
And thanks to their willingness to sucker the world, the world is now a chaotic mess.
By Bill McKibben Twitter and THE NATION Magazine – OCTOBER 20, 2015

eading Photo – Oil and gas industry executives testify on Capitol Hill in Washington
Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO and Chairman. (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

A few weeks before the last great international climate conference—2009, in Copenhagen—the e-mail accounts of a few climate scientists were hacked and reviewed for incriminating evidence suggesting that global warming was a charade. Eight separate investigations later concluded that there was literally nothing to “Climategate,” save a few sentences taken completely out of context—but by that time, endless, breathless media accounts about the “scandal” had damaged the prospects for any progress at the conference.

Now, on the eve of the next global gathering in Paris this December, there’s a new scandal. But this one doesn’t come from an anonymous hacker taking a few sentences out of context. This one comes from months of careful reporting by two separate teams, one at the Pulitzer Prize–winning website Inside Climate News, and the other at the Los Angeles Times (with an assist from the Columbia Journalism School). Following separate lines of evidence and document trails, they’ve reached the same bombshell conclusion: ExxonMobil, the world’s largest and most powerful oil company, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the mid-1980s, and then spent the next few decades systematically funding climate denial and lying about the state of the science.

This scandal—traveling under the hashtag #exxonknew—is just beginning to build. The Inside Climate News series of six pieces is set to conclude this week and be published as a book, but the LA Times apparently has far more reporting waiting to be released. Already members of Congress—Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier of California—and presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have called on the Department of Justice to investigate, comparing it to the predations of the tobacco industry.

Should the DOJ muster its courage to go after this most profitable and connected of companies, the roadmap is already well laid out by the two investigations.

ICN has demonstrated that as early as the late 1970s, Exxon scientists were briefing top executives that climate change was real, dangerous, and caused by their product. By the early 1980s, their own climate models were predicting—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since.

Exxon’s own climate models predicted—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since.

The LA Times reporting is at least as important. It demonstrated that Exxon clearly believed their own climate models and used them to guide their efforts in the newly melting Arctic, where as their senior researcher said “warming will clearly affect sea ice, icebergs, permafrost and sea levels.” (Indeed, he added, climate change “can only help lower exploration and development costs,” thus making their bids for Arctic lease rights more profitable).

But though we know now that behind the scenes Exxon understood precisely what was going on, in public they feigned ignorance or worse. CEO Lee Raymond described global warming as “projections are based on completely unproven climate models, or, more often, on sheer speculation,” and insisted—in a key presentation to China’s leading officials in 1997—that the globe was probably cooling.

This scandal will not go away easily. The insider Washington Monthly came out with language as strong as you’re likely to hear:

A fossil fuel company intentionally and knowingly obfuscating research into climate change constitutes criminal negligence and malicious intent at best, and a crime against humanity at worst. The Department of Justice has a moral obligation to prosecute Exxon and its co-conspirators accordingly.


DEMAND A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION OF EXXON’S CLIMATE CHANGE DECEPTION

And on Sunday the investigation truly came home, when the The Dallas Morning News—read across the oil patch and hometown paper for Exxon—put the ICN investigation on its front page. The whole business angered me so much that I sat down in front of a Mobil gas pump near my home, shutting it down for the few minutes before I was arrested in an effort to draw more attention to the story. (It’s possible that this is the first time anyone’s gone to jail to encourage newspaper readership.)

A few observers, especially on the professionally jaded left, have treated the story as old news—as something that even if we didn’t know, we knew. “Of course they lied,” someone told me. That cynicism, however, serves as the most effective kind of cover for Exxon (right alongside the tired argument that it’s “not the fault of the companies—they’re just meeting demand from all of us”). What’s beginning to sink in is the horrible impact of their lies: Exxon, had its leaders merely stated directly what they knew to be true, could have ended the pretend debate over climate change as early as the 1980s. When scientists like NASA’s Jim Hansen first raised public awareness of climate change, think of what would have happened if Exxon’s CEO had gone to Congress, too, and said that their internal scientific efforts show precisely the same thing. Instead, they funded every climate-denial outfit that asked for cash and worked with veterans of the tobacco wars to help raise the same kind of doubt about climate science.

RELATED ARTICLE

THE GOVERNMENT MAY ALREADY HAVE THE LAW IT NEEDS TO BEAT BIG OIL

Zoë Carpenter
When Hansen testified before a Congressional committee in 1988, the atmospheric level of CO2 was just passing 350 parts per million. Now we’ve gone beyond 400 ppm, we’ve seen the rapid melt of the Arctic, the acidification of the planet’s oceans, and the rapid rise in extreme weather events. (Just lately: “thousand-year-rainfalls” in South Carolina and Southern California so far this month, and now a typhoon dropping a meter or more of rain on the Philippines.) Thanks to Exxon’s willingness to sucker the world, that world is now a chaotic mess. We’ve finally begun to see the rise of a movement large enough to challenge the power of the oil companies, and that means that Paris will come out better than Copenhagen, but the quarter-century wasted will never be made up.

And count on the fossil-fuel industry to continue trying to delay progress and obfuscate reality. Exxon is clearly flustered (its PR guy called the LA Times story “complete bullshit”) but unrepentant. They continue to demand favors from government, most recently a lifting of the longstanding ban on exporting American crude (“The sooner this happens, the better for us,” said Kenneth P. Cohen, Exxon Mobil’s vice president for public and governmental affairs informed The New York Times.) It remains to be seen if the world’s media will overcome their tendency to truckle and give this true scandal anything like the oxygen it poured on those few hapless e-mails.

If they do, then more rapid progress on climate will be possible. The evidence of Exxon’s bad faith is so overpowering that this debacle will only deepen on further investigation; think about what a prosecutor with deposition power could accomplish. If the media and the authorities don’t shirk their jobs, then someday, when the world thinks back on this greatest of crises, those climate scientists whose e-mails were hacked will be remembered as heroes, and Exxon will be the great object lesson for the damage unfettered greed can do.

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BILL MCKIBBEN TWITTER Bill McKibben is the author of 15 books, most recently Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he is the co-founder of 350.org, the largest global grassroots organizing campaign on climate change.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Tesla’s market value overtakes Ford
BBC – 3 April 2017

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk launches the Model X

Tesla’s market value has overtaken that of Ford after shares in the electric car maker added more than 7%.

At the close of trading Tesla had a market value of $49bn (£38bn), compared with Ford’s value of $46bn.

Tesla’s shares rose on Monday after the company announced record vehicle deliveries in the first three months of the year.

The firm delivered more than 25,000 cars in the first quarter, up 70% on the same quarter last year.

While Tesla’s sales are growing fast they are still a fraction of Ford’s, which sold almost 6.7 million vehicles in 2016.

Tesla delivered 76,000 electric cars last year.

“Magic dust”

However, investors are excited about the growth potential of Tesla.
This year it plans to start selling a cheaper car in the US, the Model 3, which it hopes will have mass market appeal.

“Five years ago no one knew what a Tesla was. Now people want a Tesla. It has usurped BMW as an aspirational car,” said Ben Kallo, energy technology analyst at Robert W Baird.

Mr Kallo said that the charisma, or what he described as the “magic dust” surrounding Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk, allows it to attract talented staff as well as investors.

“Tesla has more going on in those four walls than we know about,” he said.
Inside Tesla’s gigantic Gigafactory

Elon Musk: Who dares wins

Tesla reports record car deliveries

Meanwhile, Tesla has made a huge investment in battery production, building a $5bn factory in Nevada that when fully developed will be the biggest building in the world.
Mr Musk, hopes that by operating at that kind of scale his company can innovate faster and cut the cost of batteries by 30%.

As well as supplying batteries for cars, the plant makes batteries for homes and businesses.
In what was seen as a vote on confidence in the firm, last month China’s Tencent spent $1.78bn on buying a 5% stake in Tesla.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

EUobserver NEWS – ENERGY

EU-Israeli gas pipeline to compete with Russia.

By ANDREW RETTMAN

BRUSSELS, April 4, 2017 – 09:14

The EU and three member states have backed a plan for Israel to reduce Europe’s gas dependence on Russia – The European Commission and ministers from Cyprus, Greece, and Italy signed up to build a new gas pipeline from Israel to Europe at a meeting in Tel Aviv on Monday (3 April).


Israeli gas considered safer than Russia’s, which has been used for political blackmail


The 2,200-km East-Med pipeline would connect Israeli and Cypriot offshore gas fields to Greece and Italy.

It is designed to come online in 2025 with a capacity of up to 16 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year.

It would be the longest and deepest ever built, but an EU co-financed feasibility study by Italian firm IGI Poseidon said the project should go ahead.

Speaking in Tel Aviv on Monday, EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete took a swipe at a competing Russian project, Nord Stream 2.


“North Stream is a pipeline [that] adds nothing to the [EU’s] security of supply,” he said.

He said the commission’s strategy was “to diversify sources, routes, and suppliers” and hinted that Israel was a safer partner than Russia, which has used gas to blackmail neighbouring countries.


“Cyprus and Israel are very reliable suppliers,” he said.

With Nord Stream 2 disliked by Baltic, central European, and Nordic states, Canete added that the Israeli project “is a pipe that unites and will have the full support of all the members of the European Union”.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, said US investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, got excited about the €6 billion project when they learned that the commission was on board.

“When they heard that the European energy commissioner was behind it [and] ready to give some assistance, that was very helpful,” he said.

He said the amount of gas discovered for export so far, up to 500 bcm, was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

Carlo Calenda, Italy’s economic development minister, said Rome would seek the backing of the G7 club of wealthy nations, which includes Canada, Japan, and the US, for the pipeline at a summit in Sicily in May.

The Cypriot energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said the project would “showcase” the region’s potential as an alternative EU supplier.

The much bigger Nord Stream 2 pipeline is designed to pump 55 bcm of gas a year to Germany from 2020, concentrating EU supplies in Russia and Germany’s hands.

It faces open questions on whether EU laws would apply to its offshore section, as well as complaints from the Polish energy regulator, but Russia has already started buying pipe segments.


Political risk


The East-Med pipeline is to run through Cypriot waters to avoid disputed maritime zones with Turkey and Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus.

But EU-Israeli cooperation carries other political risks.

According to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, the EU’s envoy to Israel delivered a stinging rebuke on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians last week.

He said Israeli evictions in the West Bank constituted “forced transfers” in violation of Israel’s “obligations” under the Geneva Convention as an “occupying power”.

The ambassador, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, read out the EU note, which had been approved by all 28 member states in the bloc’s Political and Security Committee, at a meeting with Israel’s top foreign ministry official.

The EU foreign service had planned to hold a summit with Israel in February to upgrade relations, but plans were put on hold after a surge in Israeli settlement expansion.

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That means the major political risk as seen by the EU is thus the treatment by Israel of the Palestinians – but here at SustainabiliTank we are now confident that Trump is working on this so possible realignments are on the political horizon as well.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Global Trade Causes More Than 20 Percent of Air-Pollution Deaths
By Nikhil Swaminathan, Grist
03 April 2017


Global trade causes more than 20 percent of air-pollution deaths.


A new study in the journal Nature investigated what triggers the nearly 3.5 million annual deaths worldwide stemming from airborne particulate matter. It attributed more than 750,000 of them to goods being made in one part of the world and consumed in another.


The grim statistics center on Asia, home of cheap exports and lax environmental protections. Nearly 500,000 people succumb to smog-related illness each year on the continent, including more than 200,000 in China and more than 100,000 in India. The incidence of heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke are ratcheted up by breathing filthy air.


The main culprits behind this tragic phenomenon are buyers in the West.

The study links consumption in Western Europe to almost 175,000 yearly deaths abroad and consumption in the U.S. to more than 100,000.

“It’s not a local issue anymore,” says study coauthor Dabo Guan, a professor of climate change economics at the University of East Anglia.


Asian health could benefit if the Trump administration is successful in reviving American manufacturing. Some of that health burden could shift to the U.S., which has higher air-quality standards that should result in fewer smog-related fatalities.

Then again, if Trump has his way with environmental rules, all bets are off.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


AMERICAS In The TIME OF TRUMP.

MUCH OF THE CORN MEXICO CONSUMES COMES FROM THE US. MEXICO’S SECURITY WILL BE BETTER SERVED
BY CUTTING THIS DEPENDENCE ON US AGRICULTURE EXPORTS (FOOD – AND SEEDS) AND REDEVELOP ITS OWN
PRODUCTION.

FOR ADDED QUANTITIES THEY WILL BE WELL ADVISED TO HELP THE AGRICULTURE OF THE LATIN COUNTRIES TO ITS SOUTH.


Mexico Ready to Play the Corn Card in Trade Talks.


After Calling Nafta ‘Worst Trade Deal,’ Trump Appears to Soften Stance MARCH 30, 2017

By KIRK SEMPLE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 2, 2017

Much of the corn that Mexico consumes comes from the United States.

MEXICO CITY — From the hundreds of millions of tortillas consumed every year to the countless tons of corn-enriched feed that fattens livestock and poultry, corn is perhaps Mexico’s most important agricultural commodity, one at the center of its life and culture.

Now corn has taken on a new role — as a powerful lever for Mexican officials in the run-up to talks over Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The reason: Much of the corn that Mexico consumes comes from the United States, making it America’s top agricultural export to its southern neighbor. And even though President Trump appears to be pulling back from his vows to completely overhaul Nafta, Mexico has taken his threats to heart and has begun flexing its own muscle.

The Mexican government is exploring buying its corn elsewhere — including Argentina or Brazil — as well as increasing domestic production. In a fit of political pique, a Mexican senator even submitted a bill to eliminate corn purchases from the United States within three years.

American corn shipments to Mexico totaled nearly $2.6 billion last year and are part of an elaborate agricultural trade relationship between the two nations that has helped to interlace their economies. But though the corn business is a tiny fraction of the overall $525 billion in annual trade between the two countries, it has gained outsize importance and become something of a symbol for the nations’ economic codependence.

{OUR COMMENT: CHEAP US CORN HAS RUINED THE AGRICULTURE OF MEXICO AND IMPOVERISHED ITS COUNTRY-SIDE, LIKE IT DID IN MANY UNDERDEVELOPED COUNTRIES – SPECIALLY IN AFRICA.
CUTTING OFF TRADE DEALS LIKE NAFTA COULD EFFECTIVELY EMPOWER POORER COUNTRIES. WE THINK
THUS THAT TRUMP THREW HIS IDEAS IN HISTORY’S HOPPER AND MAY INDEED FORCE COUNTRIES TO DO
WHAT IS GOOD FOR THEM. GROW YOUR OWN – FROM YOUR SEEDS}

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The prospect that the United States could lose its largest foreign market for corn and other key products has shaken farming communities throughout the American Midwest, where corn production is a vital part of the economy. The threat is particularly unsettling for many residents of the Corn Belt because much of the region voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump in the presidential election.

“If we lose Mexico as a customer, it will be absolutely devastating to the ag economy,” said Philip Gordon, 68, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat on a farm in Saline, Mich., that has been in his family for 140 years.

Mr. Gordon said he planned to call Mr. Trump at the White House “and remind him we need trade.”

“He’s a businessman,” Mr. Gordon said. “He understands how much support for him came from the agricultural community.”

A Trump administration document that circulated on Capitol Hill last week appeared to present a more moderate approach to Nafta negotiations, seeking to preserve much of the existing agreement and recognizing the interconnectedness of the two nations’ economies, cultures and histories.

Still, people involved in agricultural trade on both sides of the border said they were not about to rest easy on the basis of the document, which even the White House seemed to disavow.

“It’s really hard to track with this president,” said Todd Hultman, a grains analyst at DTN, an agriculture news and data service based in Omaha. “The campaign rhetoric has been really over the top. But what actions are really going to come from the White House is still a mystery.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly asserted that Mexico has been the big winner under Nafta, and the United States the loser. But many leaders in the agricultural and food industries in the United States — not just in the corn market — hope Mr. Trump does not disrupt the agreement too much.

“When you mix politics with economics, you hope that economics influences your political decisions and not vice versa,” said Luis A. Ribera, associate professor of agricultural economics and director of the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University.

Many leaders in the American agriculture industry say Nafta has been a boon for farmers in the United States, particularly because it opened up new foreign markets and helped to expand agricultural exports more than fourfold since the agreement was signed.

In 2016, the United States exported nearly $18 billion of agricultural products to Mexico, the third-largest market for these American exports, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Mexico is not only the leading destination of American corn, but it also imports more dairy products, poultry and wheat from the United States than any other nation, and is one of the top importers of American pork, soybeans and beef, the department says.

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Varieties of Mexican corn displayed in Oaxaca. The government is considering an increase in domestic production. Credit Omar Torres/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mexico imported about 13.8 million tons of American corn last year, according to the Mexican government. Nearly all — about 12.7 million tons — was yellow corn, which is largely used for livestock feed, supplementing about 3.5 million tons of homegrown yellow corn.

The remainder of corn imports were of the white variety, which is used mostly for human consumption and is a key ingredient in tortillas. Mexico is essentially self-sufficient in white corn. The country produced 22.2 million tons last year and imported about 1.1 million tons of American white corn to make up for lucrative white corn exports to South Africa and other countries, according to the Mexican government.

And just as international supply chains in automobiles, aerospace and other industries crisscross the border, the same is true of agricultural products. Mexican calves — possibly fed American corn — are exported to the United States, where they are further fattened and then butchered for meat that may be exported for sale abroad, including to Mexico.

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Farmers and agricultural industry representatives say that American farmers are already reeling from higher production costs and declining commodity prices, and that Mr. Trump’s threats on trade and immigration have injected more uncertainty.

“There’s a lot of volatility in agricultural markets to begin with,” said Barbara Patterson, government relations director of the National Farmers Union, “and shutting off our borders or losing access to trading partners has farmers concerned.”

The loss of Mexico as a market for agricultural products, farmers say, could presage job losses and bankruptcies.

“We’d like to see careful consideration and a cautious approach,” Ms. Patterson said.

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Formal talks to renegotiate Nafta are still at least several months away. Still, corn producers, as well as their counterparts elsewhere in American agriculture, have begun to lobby elected officials and the administration.

“Soup to nuts: corn, dairy, meat, specialty products, fruit — they’re all pretty much gathered together,” said Tom Sleight, president and chief executive of the U.S. Grains Council. Producers, he said, are seeking to remind the administration of the importance of trade and Mexico to agriculture’s bottom line.

The administration’s threats have already begun to sour longstanding business arrangements between American sellers and Mexican buyers.

“Relationships are getting frosty with our customers right now,” Mr. Sleight said. “Usually it’s been a very symbiotic relationship, but recently it’s gotten a little more difficult. Mexicans are saying, ‘Why are you doing this to us? We’ve been your best customers.’”

The Mexican government has not delayed in exploring other markets in which to purchase corn.
A top agricultural official from Argentina visited Mexico City last month to discuss the possibility of increasing sales of Argentine yellow corn to Mexico. Officials from Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry are planning a trip to Argentina and Brazil this month to discuss increasing corn purchases from those countries.

Last month, Mexico’s deputy economy minister told The Financial Times that Mexico was exploring the possibility of allowing duty-free access to Argentine and Brazilian corn imports.

Developing new import arrangements with South America will not be easy, officials said. New relationships would have to be brokered, and costs to import may also be higher, officials say, in part because there are fewer established transportation routes between Mexico and the Mercosur countries of South America.

Mexican officials say, however, that an increase in trade between the regions might lead to more competition, which could increase efficiency and lower costs.

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The showdown on Nafta has also inspired Mexican agricultural officials and producers to step up programs that would increase domestic corn production and revive a sector undercut by the agreement, said Alejandro Vázquez Salido, director of Aserca, a Mexican government agency that supports farmers and promotes the marketing of Mexican agricultural products.

Some economists blame Nafta for causing widespread unemployment in the Mexican agricultural sector by opening the floodgates to heavily subsidized American agricultural products, especially corn. A 2014 study estimated that 1.9 million agricultural jobs were wiped out, mainly those of small family farmers, helping to drive more illegal immigration into the United States.

Mr. Vázquez said that even before Mr. Trump began to attack Nafta and Mexico, the Mexican authorities had begun to discuss plans to substitute imports with national production. “But these new challenges, these new policies that we’re facing, are having us move in that direction faster than we were,” he said.

Mr. Trump has knocked Mexicans “out of our comfort zone,” forcing agriculture officials to find ways for Mexico to be less dependent on American imports, Mr. Vázquez continued. “We’re starting to move where we should’ve moved a long time ago: trying to produce internally what we’re importing.”

Meredith Hoffman contributed reporting from San Antonio.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

HAARETZ – Israel News

Trump Asked Alan Dershowitz to Tell Netanyahu Peace With Palestinians Possible Today.

At a chance meeting in Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. president told the jurist, a friend of the Israeli premier, that he ‘loves Israel and likes Netanyahu’ and ‘the time is ripe for a deal.’

read more: www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.prem…

U.S. President Donald Trump has conveyed to Benjamin Netanyahu his determination to reach an Israeli-Palestinian deal through the prominent Jewish-American jurist Alan Dershowitz.

An Israeli source who asked not to be named said that in a phone call to the prime minister last week, Dershowitz delivered Trump’s message that he is eager for a peace agreement and believes such a deal is possible today.
Dershowitz met the president by chance on March 18 while dining at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in southern Florida. The lawyer was there with Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of the conservative website Newsmax and a personal friend of Trump’s. While they were eating, Trump came to their table and chatted with them briefly. Later that evening, Trump spoke with Dershowitz for over 20 minutes.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

AS REPORTED BY IRITH JAWETZ WHO WATCHED THE PROGRAM IN VIENNA.

This week, the Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. But does America actually need a 9/11 Commission-style independent, bipartisan investigation into these matters?

Fareed spoke with Tom Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey and the chair of the 9/11 Commission.

Mr. Keane says that we definitely need to investigate the Russian problem, however, we also need to be able to negotiate with Russia and therefore we need a bipartisan investigation in Congress, only one, and not three investigations has to take place. The American people need to be confident that the investigation is open, bipartisan and that since there is a lot of smoke, we need to find out whether there is also fire.The President should definitely go along with a bipartisan investigation.

It will also be helpful if such an investigation would shed light on general cyber war, since we do not know enough about it yet.

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Next on the show: General Electric is one of the biggest companies in the world. Fareed speaks with its long-time Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who was a job czar for President Obama and is now part of a jobs initiative for President Trump.

What does he make of the state of the U.S. economy right now? And of the Trump administration’s travel ban? And what will happen to U.S. jobs in an increasingly automated world?

Mr. Immelt said that in general he agrees with Trump’s ideas, however he disagrees with him on two subjects: Muslim ban and Climate change. We have many people from Muslin countries, many people travel to Muslim countries and it is unfair to execute a ban against them. He understands that National Security is at stake, but this is not the right way to handle the problem of security.

As for Climate Change, we have a come a long way, and it would be irresponsible to turn back now.
For 12 years we have been champions of Climate Change and changing the policy would be a grave mistake.

As for jobs, companies become more and more digital and workers will have to get much smarter.

——————————————

On his segment “What in the World” Fareed tackled the subject of Populism in the Western World.

The good news are that, while the World was seeing a rise in Populism in 2016 after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, the trend now, in Europe and around the world is to return to the Center.

Brexit and Trump were the peak, and now we are going back to the center. The UKIP in the UK has lost voters and is very unpopular, In the Netherlands the Right wing candidate Wilders only managed 13%, and in France it looks like Marine Le Pen will not gain enough votes and Macron will prevail. In Germany the Far Right party has only about 7% and it’s a neck to neck race between Merkel and Schultz.

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The last segment was a very emotional interview with Oscar-nominated documentary maker Evgeny Afineevsky and Kholoud Helmi, an underground journalist in Aleppo, about the HBO film “Cries from Syria” and six years of civil war in the country.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

CNN/Washington Post Opinions by Fareed Zakaria

Trump was right about health care for most of his life.


{Butthen came the interests and he was not able to put a program on the table}

By Fareed Zakaria, WP Opinion writer, March 30, 2017 and presented on TV April 2, 2017.


The recent Republican debacle on health care could prove to be an opportunity. It highlighted, yet again, the complexity of the U.S. system, which continues to be by far the most expensive and inefficient in the advanced world. But President Trump could actually use the legislative collapse to fix health care if he went back to basics and to his core convictions on the topic, which are surprisingly intelligent and consistent.

There is an understandable impulse on the right to assume that health care would work more efficiently if it were a free market, or a freer market. This is true for most goods and services. But in 1963, economist Kenneth Arrow, who later won a Nobel Prize, offered an explanation as to why markets would not work well in this area. He argued that there was a huge mismatch of power and information between the buyer and the seller. If a salesman tells you to buy a particular television, you can easily choose another or just walk away. If a doctor insists that you need a medication or a procedure, you are far less likely to reject the advice. And, Arrow pointed out, people think they don’t need health care until they get sick, and then they need lots of it.

Every advanced economy in the world has implicitly acknowledged his argument because they have all adopted some version of a state-directed system for health care. Consider the 16 countries that rank higher than the United States on the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. All except Singapore (which has a unique state-driven approach) have universal health-care systems that can be described as single-payer (Medicare for all), government-run (the British model) or Obamacare-plus (private insurance with a real mandate that everyone opt in). Hong Kong, often considered the most unregulated market in the world, has a British-style government-run system. Switzerland, one of the most business-friendly countries, had a private insurance system just like the United States’ but found that, to make it work, it had to introduce a mandate.

While producing a CNN documentary, writes Fareed, on health-care systems around the globe, I was particularly struck by the experience of Taiwan, another free-market haven. In 1995, 41 percent of its population was uninsured and the country had very poor health outcomes. The government decided to canvass the world for the best ideas before instituting a new framework. It chose Medicare for all, a single government payer, with multiple private providers. The results are astonishing. Taiwan has achieved some of the best outcomes in the world while paying only 7 percent of its gross domestic product on health care (compared with 18 percent in the United States). I asked William Hsiao, an economist who helped devise the country’s model, what lessons they took, if any, from the United States. “You can learn what not to do from the United States rather than learn what to do,” he replied.

Americans often assume that despite its costs, American health care provides better services than others. We often hear about the waiting time for care in other countries. But according to the Commonwealth Fund, among industrialized countries the United States is in the middle of the pack for wait times, behind even Britain . Moreover, one of the world’s leading experts, Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton, has found that Americans use less care than the average for developed countries when it comes to things such as seeing a doctor and spending time in the hospital. The problem with the free market is that there is little profit in prevention and lots in crisis care.

Trump has now taken up the call to repeal Obamacare. But until recently, health care was actually one of the rare issues on which he had spoken out, before his campaign, with remarkable consistency. In his 2000 book “The America We Deserve,” he wrote:

“I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by healthcare expenses. .?.?. We must have universal healthcare. .?.?. The Canadian plan .?.?. helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. There are fewer medical lawsuits, less loss of labor to sickness, and lower costs to companies paying for the medical care of their employees. .?.?. We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.”

Trump was right on this issue for much of his life. He has now caved to special interests and an ideology unmoored by facts. He could simply return to his convictions, reach out to Democrats and help the United States solve its health-care crisis.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Jerusalem Post Opinion Piece of this Weekend.

BY ILAN EVYATAR MARCH 30, 2017 20:50


EARS TO THE GROUND: In approaching Middle East peace, Trump should focus on the attainable, not the improbable.

The Annual Arab League Summit took place in Amman this week with US President Donald Trump’s international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, in attendance as part of his Middle East “listening tour.” Greenblatt told Arab foreign ministers in the Jordanian capital that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible and reaffirmed Trump’s desire to pull off a deal.

Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah will all be in DC over the next month and peace talks will be high on the agenda at all of those meetings.

Reports have suggested that Trump is looking into the possibility of hosting a Middle East summit with Abbas, Netanyahu and Arab leaders, including from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

“The time has come to make a deal,” Greenblatt said before heading to Amman. Arab foreign ministers expressed their support for a two-state solution in the summit’s closing statement. Abbas, too, told Greenblatt a deal is possible, while Netanyahu also said he is committed to working with Trump “to advance peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors.”

Reports have suggested that Trump is looking into the possibility of hosting a Middle East summit with Abbas, Netanyahu and Arab leaders, including from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

“The time has come to make a deal,” Greenblatt said before heading to Amman. Arab foreign ministers expressed their support for a two-state solution in the summit’s closing statement. Abbas, too, told Greenblatt a deal is possible, while Netanyahu also said he is committed to working with Trump “to advance peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors.”

The ball is rolling and diplomatic crunch-time is approaching. All sides will have to decide how to turn their words into actions and what positions they will bring to the table.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has said that he is in discussions with the US administration over ground rules for settlement construction in the West Bank. Yesterday he hinted that he was about to approve a new settlement, the first in 25 years, for the 40 families evicted from Amona – perhaps a hint that some kind of understanding has been reached on the matter.

But if the Trump administration is serious about convening a Middle East summit, then there will be greater issues for Netanyahu to decide upon.

Is Trump really serious? Or is he just going through the motions? If he does convene a summit, will he make do with a photo-op that gets Israel and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states on the same stage for the first time or does he really think he can clinch the “ultimate deal”? Does he really believe he can succeed where all other presidents have failed?

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

WE WROTE YESTERDAY THAT WE THINK TRUMP IS VERY SERIOUS ON THE MIDDLE EAST – THIS IS ACTUALLY THE ONLY AREA HE COULD PULL OFF A SUCCESS THESE DAYS.

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

For all the talk about a convergence of interests between Israel and the moderate Sunni states that are all threatened by Iran, it is highly unlikely that the Middle East’s strange bedfellows will go public with their relationship without Israel’s prior agreement to conditions it cannot accept.

Furthermore, relations with Israel are hardly a priority for Saudi Arabia, as senior Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi wrote a few months back. Its priorities, he says, are economic reforms and the security threats posed by Iran and the collapse of neighboring countries – issues in which Israel cannot take a direct role. And when it comes to Iran, the worst thing Saudi Arabia could do, he said, is to be publicly aligned with Israel against Tehran.

While tacitly acknowledging existing ties in certain fields, he notes, “Whatever the kingdom needs is accessible without his help. If we presume that we need to buy an advanced Israeli device to accomplish a strategic Saudi project, there are a thousand third parties that are ready to buy the device and re-export it to us.”

As for the Palestinians and Israelis, Trump is hardly likely to have too much luck on that front either. It remains true that the maximum Israel is willing to give the Palestinians is less than the minimum the Palestinians are willing to accept and vice versa, and the fact that Trump prides himself on being a man who knows how to cut a deal will not change that.

If Greenblatt has been listening to his interlocutors on his tour he should report back to the president that conditions are not ripe for the ultimate deal, but that common interests do exist.

While a regional peace deal would obviously be desirable, rather than risk almost certain failure – that could well result in a new round of violence in a bid for an all-embracing final status agreement – Trump should concentrate on interim solutions; those that increase Palestinian autonomy, build up the Palestinian economy and institutions of state, increase freedom of movement, rein in settlement construction to the blocs and develop ties between Israel and the moderate Sunni states where common interests exist.

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WE BELIEVE THE TIME FOR SMALL MOVES IS OVER – THEY LED NOWHERE AND THIS WAS FOR ALL TO SEE.
TRUMP WILL HAVE TO DO IN BUSINESS WAYS ARM-TWISTING AND DISH OUT LOTS OF CANDY TO BUILD ON EXISTING PLANS AND HAVE THEM SUGAR COATED. THE TRUTH IS THAT BY NOW ALL MAIN ACTORS OUGHT TO BE INTERESTED IN THE TRUMP DEAL. TRUMP – JUST GO FOR THE GOLD AND LET NOBODY HOLD YOU BACK.
YOU STARTED WELL BY NOT GOING TO AIPAC.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Going this weekend over US and Israel papers, and the material from the 2017 AIPAC Conference, we saw clearly that the US Administration’s main focus is on the Middle East Governments.

This, following Trump’s failed attack on Obamacare, and clear difficulties with his other campaign promises – it seems to us that cutting the Gordian Knot of the Middle East is actually the easiest task he has declared. In effect President Obama has laid out all plans needed for this task, but he did not analyze the interests of the oil folks. this latter is Trumps forte.

Obama did all the right things for the Planet by tackling the Climate Change issues that are anathema to those same oil folks. Here clearly we were and are in Obama’s Corner. We are sure that on that topic Obama is still on the winers’ course if not with the US China and most
industrialized progressive countries.

Trump preferred to annul all environmental and climate regulations that even predated Obama and came down from the Republican Bushes. With that he immediately got Saudis’ attention.
Now he wants to use this attention and forge a multifaceted alliance with them under which
he lines up the oil exporters of he Muslim persuasion. These include obviously the governments
that propped up the Palestinians using these props to show their own people that the US infidel backs Israel – the oppressor. Unnoticed by he Arabs, Israel itself became recently an oil state (well- gas!) and its economic interests evolved accordingly.

THAT IS RIPE NOW FOR A TRUMP MANUEVER.

The Jordanian King was just te second time i Washington, The Saudis are just coming – so is the Egyptian head of State. The Arab League is meeting and discussing a joint approach of all Arab States. The US Administration emissaries toured Jerusalem, Ramallah, Amman and Cairo -of to the Gulf States in direct conversation with each Head of State and planning for eventual meetings with all of them in tandem.

Israel was put on clear notion that its real interests are in stopping the enlarging of the existing settlements beyond its “Green Line” – definitely not build new ones and prepare to leave some of the existing ones. All as per Obama’s script.

Trump is all sworn to the future of Israel – on his terms – not on Netanyahu’s terms when Netanyahu interfered with the US elections backing Republican Trump because he thought he
will be his sugar-daddy. Obama had principles – Trump has self interests.

Yes – beating on the UN – deserved attacks – and talking of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is cheap talk – but Trump did not go to the pro-Israel AIPAC meeting. The time for spreading Chocolate is over, and Israel will have to reckon with this.

That is the way to Stockholm and Oslo. And really, do you not think that the GOLD color is a good fit to his hair – and to the new gold-drapes of the Oval Office?

Obama got his Nobel Prize on credit – but was not able to deliver. Now it seems that Trump
will pull Obama’s Chestnuts from the Middle East oven – this maybe by turning at the same time
as back to the age of oil.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

FORT GREENE AND DUMBOArts & EntertainmentParks and Recreation


Ai Weiwei Bringing 100+ Fences to NYC for Immigration-Themed Exhibit

By Alexandra Leon | March 27, 2017 2:43pm
@alexandraaleon

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is bringing a series of fences to New York City as part of the Public Art Fund’s 40th Anniversary.

NEW YORK — Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is bringing dozens of fences to rooftops and parks across the city for his latest public exhibition aimed at commenting on immigration worldwide.

The artist and activist will be building more than 100 fences and other installations throughout the city as part of the project, “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” officials said.

He is partnering with the Public Art Fund as part of its 40th anniversary celebration to bring the metal wire security fences to locations like the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on Astor Place, Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Central Park, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens and bus shelters in Brooklyn.

Alexandra Leon · DNAinfo Reporter
What do the fences symbolize for you?

VOICE YOUR OPINION ON NHSQ

Aside from public parks and plaza, the fences will also appear wedged in between buildings and perched atop city rooftops in the form of sculptures and more, a spokeswoman for the Public Art Fund said.

The project was inspired by the current immigration crisis in the United States and around the world, according to the Fund.

“I was an immigrant in New York in the 1980s for ten years and the issue with the migration crisis has been a longtime focus of my practice,” Weiwei said in a statement.

“What’s important to remember is that while barriers have been used to divide us, as humans we are all the same. Some are more privileged than others, but with that privilege comes a responsibility to do more.”

The fences will symbolize New York City’s role as a “gateway to the United States” for millions of immigrants, the statement noted.

“Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors serves as a reminder to all New Yorkers that although barriers may attempt to divide us, we must unite to make a meaningful impact in the larger community,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The installation is named after a line from the poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost..

It will be on display from Oct. 12 to Feb. 11.

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