Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
February 17, 2015
Tesla’s Disruptive New Plan to Power Your Home
by Dr. Kent Moors
From a surprising source – Dr. Kent Moors’ Oil & Energy Investor’s site we picked up the following:
February 17, 2015 – but we picked this up only February 25th because Google deemed the posting a “Promotion rather then “Primar
TESLA’s DISRUPTIVE NEW PLAN TO POWER YOUR HOME.
by Dr. Kent Moors
Dear Oil & Energy Investor,
Two eye-opening announcements prove that renewable energy is no longer at the mercy of the price of oil.
Both involve solar power, which I find increasingly attractive in today’s markets.
The first is a major test of a joint project between Tesla Motors Inc. (NasdaqGS: TSLA) and SolarCity Corp. (NasdaqGS: SCTY) involving 500 California homes.
Sources have told me they expect this test to be the final “proof of concept,” followed by wider applications in both residential and commercial uses.
The lynchpin between the two is a family connection.
Tesla’s CEO is Elon Musk, one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of our time, while his cousin Lyndon Rive is the CEO of SolarCity. Musk is also SolarCity’s biggest shareholder.
Now the two are coming together in hopes of solving the industry’s biggest roadblock…
This was followed by:
Solar Power Comes of Age
Tesla, of course, needs very little introduction. The California-based company has a very visible position in cutting-edge electric cars.
SolarCity, on the other hand, is the market leader in residential solar power installations. In the third quarter of 2014, SolarCity led the pack in this portion of the business by grabbing 39% of the market. Meanwhile, SolarCity’s next-closest competitor came in at 16%.
The two market leaders are now combining some of their operations in a very serious attempt to bring solar power into more consumer areas. In short, SolarCity is working with Tesla to make rooftop panels that are fitted with Tesla batteries.
Now a major test is underway in California that may usher in a new age of residential solar battery use.
The California test will utilize a solar battery with the ability to power a home for two days in the event of a blackout. In everyday use, the unit is expected to allow homeowners to store solar-generated power for use during high-cost periods, giving them the flexibility to use the conventional grid for cheaper, off-peak electricity.
Storing generated power for use at other times – in short, perfecting a new line of cost-effective batteries – has been the industry’s single biggest hurdle.
So the California residential test may well usher in a whole new ballgame. Considering the batteries from the Tesla-SolarCity venture (involving more than the California test) utilize a new generation of silicon batteries, rather than relying on rare earth metals or lithium, is also a plus. This type of approach is already well advanced, and is based on considerable familiarity and history.
It also doesn’t hurt that Tesla is building the biggest battery factory on the planet right now. Dubbed the “Gigafactory,” the plant is expected to have a dramatic effect on the energy storage market, helping to bring battery costs down by as much as half by 2020.
So while the initial price of these installations may come in high, as with any generation-changing new technology, the cost will eventually come down. What’s more, there may be some credits and other inducements provided by the companies to stimulate usage.
This development, combined with the recent decisions by Apple Inc. (NasdaqGS: AAPL) to power its new Pentagon-like headquarters via solar and Google Inc. (NasdaqGS: GOOG) opting for wind power for its San Francisco Bay Area base, show that renewables are now moving into all aspects of electricity end use here in the States.
and the SECOND BIG NEWS OF THE INTRODUCTORY PIECE:
India Breaks Ground on the World’s Largest Solar Plant
The second major development for renewables is unfolding halfway around the world.
India has announced a major push to provide 15% of its electricity needs from renewables with an initial push into solar power, which is unfolding right now. It’s the first high-profile effort to provide concrete plans for a major Asian advance into solar power distribution.
The Times of India reported yesterday that the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant has begun in the central Indian Rewa district, within the state of Madhya Pradesh. The plant, a joint venture between state-run PSU Urja Vikas Nigam and the Solar Energy Corp. of India, will provide 750 megawatt of electricity. Once online, the plant will be 36% bigger than the largest plant currently in operation.
The current world leader is the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, which just opened in California’s Mojave Desert. Situated on 3,800 acres near Joshua Tree National Park, the plant produces enough energy to power 160,000 homes.
But the Indian push into solar power hardly ends there. The government has plans for two dozen solar farms strategically placed throughout the country.
In all, the State Bank of India has committed resources for the development of 15 gigawatt of solar power by 2020. The objective is to provide a full 15% of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources within five years.
To be sure, there are some doubts that New Delhi can pull this off. For one thing, the price tag is very debatable. For another, the national electricity distribution grid is in a sorry state, and would require significant, pricey, and (at the moment) an unspecified amount of investment to be able to shoulder the anticipated new power load.
Still, with the Chinese committed to a similar 15 gigawatt goal from solar by 2020, Germany’s decision to end its reliance on nuclear power, and the continued growth pattern in the U.S., one conclusion is already abundantly clear.
The future of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewables is longer dependent on the price of crude.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
As received from Lady Rabbi Judith Hauptman of the Ohel Ayalah community on New York City.
subject: Purim of levity or gravity?
Dear Ohel Ayalah community,
P U R I M P A R T Y for 20s/30s
Join us on Tues Mar 3, the night before Purim, at P E O P L E Lounge, 163 Allen St., 6:30 to 8:30 pm. First drink FREE for filling out a one-page survey. Special guest: Sarah Rosen, author of Kosher Porn, will sign and sell copies of her hilarious new “graphic” book. Want to know what kosher porn is? Show up and find out. The book costs $14, cash or check only. Directions: Take the F train to Second Ave, get out at the front of the train, and walk south on Allen St. for 2 mins.
P U R I M, in a serious vein: The Scroll of Esther (the Megillah) will be read in synagogues on Wed night, March 4. One suggested (fun) venue is: JTS, 3080 Broadway, at 122 St. Time: 7 pm.
Purim is the one Jewish holiday of pure levity. The message of the Megillah, however, is both light-hearted and serious. In today’s world, we are still dealing with some who would like Jews to disappear. To keep you looking at the bright side of Purim, seeing the Megillah partly as a domestic farce, I am copying below comments by Adele Berlin, the highly regarded Bible scholar (also a friend of mine!), author of the JPS commentary on the Scroll of Esther.
After Vashti refuses to show her beauty to the visiting dignitaries, the courtiers say to the king, “For the queen’s behavior will make all wives scorn their husbands, as they reflect that King Ahasuerus himself ordered Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come (Esther 1:17, JPS translation [slightly emended]).”
Berlin writes: The advisors are not worried that Vashti’s examples will provoke other Persian subjects to disobey the king; they are afraid that all the Persian women will scorn their husbands. . . . The advisors are trying to ward off a sexual strike by Persian women (a theme found in Greek literature of the Persian period, in Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata). They are as concerned about themselves as they are about the king (p13).
The danger that Memucan (one of the advisors) sees in Vashti’s refusal is preposterous. How will it provoke a rebellion by all the wives in the empire against their husbands? The burlesque of the great Persian empire, drowning in luxury, wine, courtiers, and incompetent management, reaches one of its high points here, with a touch of male sexual anxiety added for good measure (p17).
So read the rest of the Megillah in a communal setting on Wed night, Mar 4, or by yourself. Laugh but also cry. Here is a link to an online version of Megillat Esther: www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3301….. You will need to click to get from one chapter to the next.
Please note: Passover is around the corner. Will be sending more information in a few weeks. Seder reservations open on Sunday, March 15. First night seder for all Ages, Fri April 3; Second night seder for 20s/30s, Saturday night, April 4.
Questions or comments? Write to me at Judith at ohelayalah.org.
Rabbi and Founder, Ohel Ayalah
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Posted in Archives, Austria, Canada, Denmark, European Union, France, Iran, Israel, New York, Reporting from Washington DC
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Fracking Puts Jerry Brown, Environmentalists at Odds.
By Juliet Williams, Associated Press
06 February 2015
In the 1970s, the environmental movement had no bigger political hero than California Gov. Jerry Brown. He cracked down on polluters, ended tax breaks for oil companies and promoted solar energy.
Forty years later, in his second go-around as governor, conservationists are among his harshest critics.
Climate change is one of Brown’s key issues, and he said in his inaugural address last month that his goal is to have California get half its energy from renewable sources within 15 years.
But because he has refused to ban hydraulic fracturing for oil, protesters, or “fracktivists,” have dogged Brown for more than a year, even interrupting his speech at the Democratic Party convention last spring.
“Climate leaders don’t frack,” said Kassie Siegal of the Center for Biological Diversity, a group that praises Brown’s programs to boost renewable energy. “The oil and gas boom threatens to undercut all the other progress that our state may make on climate.”
Fracking opponents have planned their largest protest so far, a rally Saturday in Brown’s hometown of Oakland that they hope will attract thousands. More than 100 environmental and community groups have signed on, and protesters are being bused in from around the state.
These days, Brown rarely engages with his critics. He barely campaigned for re-election last year and holds few public events.
The exception is appearances promoting the use of solar energy or other environmental initiatives. Still, Brown has noted that Californians love their freeways and gas-guzzling vehicles.
“The reason why I have some sympathy for oil drilling in California is because 98 percent of the people are using oil that is imported, and until we get them in electric cars or walking or riding their bikes, we need oil. But we’ve got to get off it,” he said last year.
When protesters interrupted a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents last year, he asked rhetorically whether they cycled or walked to the meeting in Sacramento.
California is the No. 3 oil producer in the nation and has added an average of 300 wells each month for the past decade, about half of them using hydraulic fracturing, which involves forcing fluid, sand and chemicals underground to break rock formations and extract oil and gas. A fifth of the state’s oil production comes through fracking.
Through a spokesman, Brown declined to comment on the protest, referring questions to the California Department of Conservation. In a prepared statement, chief deputy director Jason Marshall avoided using the term fracking, instead calling it “well stimulation.”
“We have no direct evidence that any harm has been caused by the practice in California,” he said. “We believe the regulations we’ve created, atop existing well construction standards, will protect the environment.”
California regulators have also authorized oil companies to inject production fluids and waste into federally protected aquifers more than 2,500 times, risking contamination of underground water supplies, an Associated Press review found.
State officials are conducting a series of fracking reviews as California sets up its first comprehensive regulatory framework, after Brown signed a bill imposing new rules.
Oil producers say they will be the toughest regulations in the nation; environmentalists say they were watered down after legislators caved in to oil companies.
Brown is also seeking to ramp up targets set in the 2006 global warming law signed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Last year he persuaded lawmakers to devote revenue from fees charged to polluters to help fund the proposed $68 billion bullet train, which Brown touts as an environmentally friendly approach to transportation.
Environmentalists want Brown to follow the lead of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat who banned fracking last year. But reports by the California Council on Science and Technology contend the kind of fracking done in California is less risky, with little horizontal drilling to expose large areas underground to potential contamination.
“I don’t agree with the notion that Jerry Brown is in the pocket of big oil. Some people think that, I don’t,” said Ross Bates, who headed a successful campaign last November to ban fracking in San Benito County. “When you try to take a middle road, people on either side have a problem with it.”
Still, environmentalists were hoping for a more aggressive approach from Brown when he returned to office in 2010. Brown’s ballot measure committee last year accepted more than $600,000 from oil companies and energy interests that also gave nearly $200,000 to his re-election campaign.
“In general we expected more of him because we as a state expect more, period,” said Marta Stoepker, a spokeswoman for the Sierra Club in California, one of the groups taking part in Saturday’s protest.
Some of the Comments:
+17 # Agricanto 2015-02-06 23:28
The natural gas industry has convinced a huge number of Dems in CA that natural gas is some kind of bridge to sustainability. So they approved legislation that would only require the chemicals pumped into the ground to be listed.
The bill reduced the whole problem of fracking to knowing what toxic shit they are pumping into the ground. No mention of water resources used in fracking, waste water (toxic soup of chemicals) disposal, methane releases, etc.
The fracking industry can’t show their technology is benign. Water is worth a whole lot more than gas. Now MidewestTom will weigh in on the wonders of natural gas and “energy independence”.
+21 # FDRva 2015-02-06 23:57
Fracking is by all accounts a major waste of water–which is a more precious resource than oil.
+11 # uncbros 2015-02-07 00:17
Jerry there is no excuse for Fracking in California. What are you thinking MR Moonbeam does not help those who would destroy all that is good out of sheer greed? You and the State you represent are the pillars of Green. A process that needs thousands if not millions of gallons of water, causes Earth quacks, pollutes the air, water, and ground and poisons the citizens at the same time. From a State prone to earth quacks that has no water and feeds a nation this is insanity on your part. Not the legacy I would want to leave my children or the children of the world. Just do the right thing. I don’t have to tell what that is.
+11 # Pancho 2015-02-07 00:38
I have to agree that the enormous amount of water used to extract oil and gas reflects an “externalized cost” of recovery. California has been in a state of severe drought for over five years. No one seems to be responsible for that water waste.
Also, injection wells used to dispose of produced brine and fracking wastes, have been found to be the cause of induced seismicity.
Oklahoma, with its otherwise stable geology and, prior to 2008, very rare earthquakes, is now exceeding California in the number of quakes with the intensities of thousands of those tremors exceeding 3.0 and some in the 5.0-5.7 range.
0 # Street Level 2015-02-07 21:35
Sympathy? Sympathy for oil drilling in California? My Ass! How about the cities that have run out of water or the fact the state is sinking? What about the dumping of fracking waste that his regulators allow?
That contaminated water is now “gone forever, Jerry. Get it? Gone forever”. Eight thousand marched in Oakland today. I hope they all ended up on the Governors front lawn, that sellout.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Today In the U.S. – Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report.
By CARL HULSE, The New York Times, February 4, 2015
Following up on last week’s news:
Moussaoui Calls Saudi Princes Patrons of Al Qaeda – February 3, 2015
Pre-9/11 Ties Haunt Saudis as New Accusations Surface – February. 4, 2015
the US is now all ears – will they get to know the true facts by being allowed to read the inquiry results?
President George W. Bush has ordered classified – that is top secrecy – on the behavior of the Saudi Monarchy and its Princes in the US – and even sprinted them out of reach at a time the airports were closed for everybody else. Is this not suspicious even more when we think how the House of Bush was involved in oil-business ties with the House of Saud?
WASHINGTON — A still-classified section of the investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has taken on an almost mythic quality over the past 13 years — 28 pages that examine crucial support given the hijackers and that by all accounts implicate prominent Saudis in financing terrorism.
Now new claims by Zacarias Moussaoui, a convicted former member of Al Qaeda, that he had high-level contact with officials of the Saudi Arabian government in the prelude to Sept. 11 have brought renewed attention to the inquiry’s withheld findings, which lawmakers and relatives of those killed in the attacks have tried unsuccessfully to declassify.
“I think it is the right thing to do,” said Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts and an author of a bipartisan resolution encouraging President Obama to declassify the section. “Let’s put it out there.”
White House officials say the administration has undertaken a review on whether to release the pages but has no timetable for when they might be made public.
Mr. Lynch and his allies have been joined by former Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was a leader of the inquiry. He has called for the release of the report’s Part 4, which dealt with Saudi Arabia, since President George W. Bush ordered it classified when the rest of the report was released in December 2002.
Mr. Graham has repeatedly said it shows that Saudi Arabia was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks. “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” Mr. Graham said last month as he pressed for the pages to be made public.
Relatives of those killed on Sept. 11 as well as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Saudi Arabia have also demanded that the pages be made public, seeing them as the vital link that they believe connects an important ally of the United States to the deadly attacks. They say the pages, Part 4 of the report, could also help in determining the source of current funding for terrorist activities.
“If we stop funding of terrorism and hold those people accountable, wouldn’t it make a dent in the financing of terrorism today?” asked William Doyle, whose son, Joseph, was killed in the World Trade Center. Mr. Doyle said that President Obama personally assured him after the death of Osama bin Laden that he would declassify that section of the report.
Proponents of releasing Part 4, titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain National Security Matters,” have suggested that the Bush and Obama administrations have held it back for fear of alienating an influential military and economic partner rather than for any national security consideration.
Others familiar with that section of the report say that while it might implicate Saudi Arabia, the suspicions, investigatory leads and other findings it contains did not withstand deeper scrutiny. Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director of the national commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks after the congressional panels, said the commission followed up on the allegations, using some of the same personnel who wrote them initially, but reached a different conclusion.
“Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of Al Qaeda funding, but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” the commission said in its July 2004 report. It did note, however, the “likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to Al Qaeda.”
Mr. Zelikow pointed to the more thorough investigation undertaken by the commission.
“Those involved in the preparation of the famous 28 pages joined the staff of the 9/11 Commission and participated in the follow-up investigation of all the leads that had been developed earlier,” he said Wednesday. “In doing so, they were aided by a larger team with more members, more powers and for the first time actually conducted interviews of relevant people both in this country and in Saudi Arabia.”
“And what we found is reflected in the commission report,” he said.
Demands for the release of the 28 pages began soon after the intelligence committees finished their work. In 2003, more than 40 senators called on Mr. Bush to order the material’s disclosure. He refused, saying “we won’t reveal sources and methods that will compromise our efforts to succeed” in fighting terrorism.
The Saudi government has also said it favored making the 28 pages public because that would make it easier to refute what it said were unfounded allegations. The embassy said Wednesday that it stood by that position
Representative Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican pushing for the release of Part 4, said the Moussaoui claims might give momentum to the declassification effort. He said he was approached Wednesday on the House floor by lawmakers inquiring how to view the 28 pages.
But there seemed to be little appetite for declassification among the Republican leaders of the intelligence panels. Senator Richard M. Burr, the North Carolina Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was skeptical of the value of releasing the pages, calling them more of a historical document in a fight against terrorism that has shifted substantially since 2002.
“There may have been a level of participation by some Muslim country that is not commensurate with today,” he said.
Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said “the authority to declassify this document lies with President Obama.”
Advocates of releasing the document have been frustrated by Mr. Obama, noting that Democrats were much more aggressive in pushing for its disclosure when Mr. Bush was president.
Mr. Doyle and Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed on Sept. 11 in the World Trade Center, say the president assured them during separate meetings with families of the victims of the attack that he saw no reason the document should be withheld.
Mr. Doyle said he encouraged Mr. Obama at a meeting in May 2011 with surviving family members to follow through on a pledge he made two years earlier to Ms. Breitweiser. “He said: ‘Bill, I know about the pages. I promise I am going to get them released,’ ” Mr. Doyle recounted.
The White House said it was responding to the calls to consider releasing the material.
“This administration, in response to a congressional request, last year asked the intelligence community to conduct a classification review of this material,” said Edward C. Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “We did so in keeping with the standard procedure for determining whether classified information can be publicly released without jeopardizing national security. That process is ongoing.”
Saudi Princes’ Deep Ties to the West:
Three of the Saudi princes accused by the Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui have strong diplomatic and business ties to the United States.
— Prince Bandar bin Sultan was known as “the toast of Washington” who had an “aura of charming roguishness” when he served as Saudi ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. He is a nephew of King Salman and King Abdullah, who died last month. Prince Bandar, 65, had been close to President George Bush and his son, President George W. Bush, and helped deliver Saudi support for America’s crucial Middle East initiatives during three wars and the fight against terrorism.
He was the head of Saudi intelligence from 2012 until last April, and had been the architect of Riyadh’s plan to remove President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and lobbied against an interim nuclear accord with Iran.
— Prince Turki al-Faisal, 69, is another of the king’s nephews. He replaced Prince Bandar as the Saudi ambassador in Washington in 2005 and served in that post for two years. He was the head of Saudi intelligence from 1977 until Aug. 31, 2001, and managed Riyadh’s relations with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban.
In an interview in 2005, he said the accusation contained in a lawsuit, later dismissed, that he provided support to Al Qaeda “was kind of a slap in the face.”
— Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, at 59 is a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz, and is chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company and the wealthiest member of the royal family. (The rapper Busta Rhymes namechecks Prince Alwaleed in the 2008 song “Arab Money.”) He owns Rotana, the Arab world’s largest entertainment company, and holds significant investments in Citigroup, TimeWarner, Twitter and Apple, among other companies. He had a large stake in News Corporation until Tuesday, when his company sold $188 million worth of its shares, according to Financial Times.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Prince Alwaleed offered Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani $10 million for the Twin Towers Fund, but Mr. Giuliani rejected it after the prince criticized American policy in the Middle East.
Some of the Comments:
BOS 7 minutes ago
Tangential it may be, judging from the comments written about this thus far the former First Lady Barbara Bush is right when she said the…
12 minutes ago
President Obama should release these classified documents. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will guarantee that no Bush will ever…
13 minutes ago
Didn’t Saudis fly out of the country one day after 9/11 when all planes were grounded, and yet no outcries.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Sustainable Energy Revolution Grows, Says Bloomberg Report
Despite strong resistance on the part of the fossil-fuel sector and some policymakers, a new way of thinking about energy is taking hold.
by ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, Wednesday, 04 February 2015.
Article reprinted by Truthout from EcoWatch of Bloomberg
The third annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook released today documents the continuing dramatic changes in how the U.S. produces, delivers and consumes energy, and makes some projections and predictions about the direction of the energy sector in the future. The report was researched and produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by The Business Council for Sustainable Energy.
“To single out just a few tell-tale headlines from the hundreds of statistics presented in this report: over the 2007-2014 period, U.S. carbon emissions from the energy sector dropped 9 percent, U.S. natural gas production rose 25 percent and total U.S. investment in clean energy (renewables and advanced grid, storage and electrified transport technologies) totaled $386 billion,” the report said.
The report backs up what other studies have been showing—that despite strong resistance on the part of the fossil-fuel sector and some policymakers, a new way of thinking about energy is taking hold. The factbook points to four significant trends:
– the advance in infrastructure projects and technology to accommodate new forms of energy;
– more capital flowing to projects aimed at sustainable energy development with the U.S. attracting the second highest
number of dollars after China;
– companies with high energy-related costs gravitating to the U.S.; and
– government policies that favor the development of clean energy sources.
In regard to government policies, it specifically cites President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan, announced in June, to retire coal-fired plants and the historic agreement struck between the U.S. and China in November in which the U.S. pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 while China would reach peak emissions by 2030.
“The 2015 Factbook clearly shows that America is on the path to a more sustainable energy sector,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “Our energy productivity is rising along with economic growth, while energy-intensive industries are onshoring production to the United States to take advantage of low energy costs. All of this is happening as investment in clean energy continues to grow and as new natural gas infrastructure continues to come online. These are strong positive signs for America’s economy and environment.”
The U.S. is becoming more “energy productive” with its economic growth decoupled from the growth in demand for electricity, according to the report. “Between 1950 and 1990, electricity demand grew at an annual rate of just below 6%,” it says. “Between 1990 and 2007, it grew at an annual of 1.9%. Between 2007 and 2014, annualized electricity demand growth has been … zero.”
The trend toward decarbonization continues with renewable energy’s share of the total energy mix rising from 7 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2014. Since 2000, 93 percent of new U.S. power capacity has been natural gas, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal or other renewable projects. Investment in the clean energy sector has grown hand in hand with that, adding up to $386 billion since 2007 and increasing by 7 percent in 2014 over 2013’s level.
“Against the backdrop of a surging economy and crumbling oil prices, major trends around decarbonization and improving energy productivity continued in the United States,” said Michel Di Capua, head of Americas research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Low-carbon energy technologies stand to benefit from key policies proposed in 2014, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation for the power sector and an innovative new vision for the electricity market in New York State.”
The report finds that gasoline consumption in the transportation sector is down by 8 percent, due to a combination of factors including more energy-efficient vehicles, the public’s preference for those vehicles and a decline in driving, as well as the still small but growing adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles. Yet conversely the factbook says, thanks largely to fracking, U.S. oil production has grown by 41 percent since 2007 and “has returned to levels not seen since the 1980s.”
It also points to some retrenchment in clean energy growth. In what will seem like mixed news to many renewable energy advocates, the contribution of natural gas to U.S. electricity generation has declined somewhat since 2013, and thanks to a drop in energy prices, that has allowed coal to become more competitive and regain a small piece of its market share, ticking up to 39 percent in 2013 and 2014, after dropping to 37 percent in 2012 from 49 percent in 2007. But longer-term trends, especially the closing of coal-fired power plants, will probably not sustain such growth in the future. Carbon emissions have increased as well, although that trend too is likely to reverse as coal-fired plants are shut down.
The final area of backtracking the factbook points to is the uncertainty over the very government policies the report says have fueled growth in the sustainable energy sector. Regarding President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan and the U.S.-China agreement, it says, “Neither policy will come easy. Legal challenges to the EPA’s proposal are underway, and achievement of the 2025 pledge will require new policy action.”
The enactment of policies at the state level that encouraged investment in and growth of wind and solar power has not just slowed down but shows signs of reversing. In 2014, Ohio froze its renewable energy standards, which has reduced job growth and investments in solar and wind projects, while Arizona is considering a tax on rooftop solar installations, and other states are discussing such backward moves, including the Hoosier state.
“Policy actions taken by the U.S. in 2014 have set the stage for a potentially momentous global climate summit at Paris in December 2015,” says the report. “The U.S.-China pact was the most notable achievement in the global climate negotiations process in 2014. Such public pledges from China and the U.S. (the world’s first and second biggest emitters, respectively) have the potential to challenge other nations to do more as well. The summit to be held in Paris at the end of 2015 will be the most significant multilateral climate negotiations since the discussions in Copenhagen in 2009. The growth of sustainable energy is a critical part of achieving any targets that might be struck under diplomatic deals on greenhouse gas emissions.”
Some Comments on Truthout:
bobaka • 5 hours ago
You exclude the most important point your ideological blinders prevent you from seeing. The basic problem with power is that it is a source of private greed. All power must be a public utility and the 1% will no longer be able to bankroll their goons into office on a flood of profits–huge profits off the mass market that individual power users are forced into. Get the elitist beasts off our backs and we would all have solar.
SinglePayer2017 • 7 hours ago
Great. Next, we need a Green Economic Revolution to repair the devastation caused by the income-inequality fossil fuel economy over the last 40 years. Restorative justice requires the wealthy to voluntarily adopt a Maximum Income to repay their debts to society.
Here’s The Plan:
Maximum Income Tax + Guaranteed Income = Reparations, Economic Justice
This formula represents a Green New Deal to tackle structural income inequality. The Maximum Income is the only way to keep the rich from going crazy and jumping into the abyss…again. The Guaranteed Income is the only humane way to deal with the despair and homelessness caused by a militarized economy that values one lousy, outdated plane more than the lives of its own citizens.
Human Rights need to be integrated into the accounting equation. Next to the Stockholders’ Equity account, we need a Workers’ Equity account, so working people can enjoy the same dividends as the rich do now. The poorest should have a Guaranteed Income, so poverty will still have dignity, and the rich need to learn that all things have limits, including wealth.
Or, you can ignore this advice, and hope for a better deal from the angry mobs…I hear them talking about guillotines an awful lot these days.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Conference: “CLIMATE CHANGE – AMERICA’S STANCE BEFORE THE PARIS SUMMIT.”
February 18. 2015 – at the FRENCH CONSULATE IN NEW YORK
A Conversation with Justin Gillis – Reporter for The New York Times
Jeff Nesbit – Executive Director of Climate Nexus,
The conversation will be moderated by Michael Shank – Director of Media Strategy for Climate Nexus
Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Consulate General of France
934 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10021 (btw. 74th and 75th Streets)
Check-in will begin at 6:15 pm, and the conference will start at 6:45 pm sharp.
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Posted in France, Future Events, New York
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
THE RALPH BUNCHE INSTITUTE FOR POLITICAL STUDIES – CUNY Graduate School.
The European Union Studies Center at The City University of New York – Graduate Center – 365 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City.
This coming Wednesday, February 11 2015, at 6pm, we will co-sponsor a panel discussion featuring contributors to a new volume on EU-African relations:
The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europe
Executive Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, South Africa
Rob de Vos
Consul General of the Netherlands in New York
Assistant Director, European Union Studies Center, CUNY Graduate Center
The event will take place at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, in Room 9207. A flyer is attached. Please RSVP by emailing RBInstitute at gc.cuny.edu
We hope to welcome you to this very interesting event!
Patrizia Nobbe, Ph.D.
European Union Studies Center
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016-4309
Email: pnobbe at gc.cuny.edu
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Posted in Africa, Archives, European Union, Future Events, New York
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Progressive Policies Are Popular – So Why Should Democrats Be Afraid of Them?
Saturday, 31 January 2015 13:27
By Keane Bhatt, FAIR | Op-Ed – re-posted by Truthout.
CNN’s post-speech discussion of Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included anchor Wolf Blitzer’s reaction to colleague Jake Tapper’s view that the president had outlined a liberal economic agenda. Blitzer’s analysis illustrates the logic behind corporate media’s longstanding efforts to dissuade politicians from advocating for progressive policies:
TAPPER: Of course, most of the speech, the body of the speech, was a very progressive, very liberal economic message about trying to help the middle class…. [It] was about new tax cuts, about the $3,000 per child per year, paid sick leave or paid maternity leave, raising the minimum wage, lowering the cost of community college to zero.
BLITZER: I think it’s fair to say, had he put forward all these new initiatives before the midterm elections – was afraid to do so, because he feared it could hurt Democrats who were up in a tough reelection or election season. As a result, he didn’t do any of those things before the midterms, but now after the midterms, [with] two years to go, he feels emboldened, almost liberated, ready to move on with these new very progressive or very liberal initiatives.
According to Blitzer, policy proposals such as paid sick leave and maternity leave, an increased minimum wage and free community college are all liabilities to pragmatic Democrats concerned with winning elections – which explains Obama’s reticence prior to November’s midterm elections. However, public opinion polls show widespread support for those measures, including, in many cases, from Republican voters.
A CNN poll (6/9/14) found 71 percent of the public supporting an increase in the minimum wage, including a majority of Republicans and conservatives. In November, voters in the Republican-leaning states of Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Alaska passed ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage by large margins (Huffington Post, 11/4/14).
A HuffPost/YouGov poll (6/20/13) found that 74 percent of the US public supports requiring companies to offer paid sick leave to their employees; paid maternity leave garnered 61 percent approval. In a number of recent polls, the idea of free community college received majority support (The Hill, 1/20/15)–one poll found that more Republicans favored the measure than opposed it, rather remarkable given that the idea was only recently popularized by President Obama himself.
So it’s not voters’ preferences that, in Blitzer’s words, “could hurt Democrats” facing elections. A likelier reason is election funding. Political scientists Walter Dean Burnham and Thomas Ferguson observed that politicians largely depended on financing from economic elites (AlterNet, 12/18/14) in what were probably the most expensive midterms in history (Washington Post, 10/22/14)
The President and the Democratic Party are almost as dependent on big money–defined, for example, in terms of the percentage of contributions (over $500 or $1,000) from the 1 percent–as the Republicans. To expect top-down, money-driven political parties to make strong economic appeals to voters is idle.
In the context of low-turnout elections largely financed by economic elites, policies such as minimum wage increases and paid sick leave, which force financial concessions from the wealthy, do indeed “hurt Democrats.” It is in part this conflict that explains high-profile Democrats’ lack of advocacy on those measures. As The Atlantic reported (6/18/14), “Hillary Clinton isn’t against federally mandated family leave–she just doesn’t think it’s politically feasible”:
“I think, eventually, it should be [implemented],” Clinton said at CNN’s town-hall meeting Tuesday to promote her new book, Hard Choices. But she immediately qualified her position: “I don’t think, politically, we could get it now.”…
A bipartisan poll conducted on behalf of the National Partnership for Women and Families, a pro-leave group, just after the 2012 election, found that 86 percent of Americans supported leave–including 96 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans. The poll inspired new hope that President Obama might take up leave in his second term.
Instead–vindicating Clinton’s opinion that leave is politically impossible right now–the issue has all but disappeared.
Although congressional Democrats had crafted the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which provided employees with 12 weeks of paid leave, President Obama did not endorse the bill (The Week, 6/27/14). The Washington Post (6/23/14) found that “five and a half years after taking office, Obama has no proposal on the table for paid family leave.”
Now that Barack Obama faces Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, Blitzer characterizes the president as “liberated” and “emboldened” to stake out a policy agenda that is now safely off the table. Policies that promote economic justice, which are broadly popular, are considered divisive within the corporate media until they’re rendered impossible. Then media pundits can wink at one other about how politicians are shrewdly courting voters with agendas they cannot possibly fulfill.
And what does it look like when politicians heed the corporate media’s call for bipartisanship? Obama’s full-throated advocacy for the Trans-Pacific Partnership in his State of the Union is one example. The highly secretive, pro-corporate trade agreement threatens to exacerbate the very inequality that the president sought to highlight in his speech, and is opposed by leading economists and many top legislators of own party (Huffington Post, 1/20/15, 1/21/15).
In an article headlined “Poll Finds Agenda Gap Between Leaders, American People,” the Wall Street Journal (1/21/15) noted President Obama’s priority of signing the trade deal was met by a public “virtually yawning at the prospect.” Only 20 percent considered it an “urgent priority,” the paper noted.
Thomas Ferguson offered a simple commentary on this agenda gap (Real News Network, 12/27/14): “You’ve been running these sort of big money-driven elections for quite some time, and it’s policy disappointment that’s driving down the voter turnout.” A far better strategy, he suggested, would be “to do something for the population instead of the 1 percent.”
If politicians were to ignore corporate pundits and instead energized otherwise-apathetic voters with an actual commitment to popular policies, they would offer a solution to voters’ yawns.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 31st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Most of Public and About Half in GOP Back Climate Action
By Coral Davenport and Marjorie Connelly, The New York Times, 30 January 2015
An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group (“Natural Resources for Industry” Oriented – this is our editor’s addition) “Resources for the Future”.
In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science that determined that humans caused global warming.
Among Republicans, 48 percent said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called “the most powerful finding” in the poll. Many Republican candidates either question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.> “It recruits more Tea Partyers than it repels,” Mr. Krosnick said.
READ MORE AT: www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/pol…
Some of the Comments:
+3 # Dust 2015-01-30 16:44
The question becomes one primarily of world view. Interestingly enough, nobody wants to be considered “unscientific”, so they begin with an a-prior view and look for evidence that that can classify as “science” to support it. (Most people do this, regardless of viewpoint, but people who are truly interested in science refer to science and change their views accordingly).
The parallels to the “creation science / intelligent design” paradigm are fairly clear. Nobody wants to outright dismiss science, so they define the only valid sources of scientific research in increasingly limited and constrained ways. CS/ID people produce NO science of their own; the only thing they do is use their modified version of science to produce what appear to be legitimate questions or holes in the field of evolutionary biology. (FWIW – they also confuse the fields of evolutionary biology and physics). They then assert that ANY lack of perfect understanding in evolutionary theory is clearly grounds to dismiss the entire thing.
A similar parallel can be found in the field of encryption and cryptanalysis. Folks read a standard reference like Applied Cryptography in C and set out to write their own encryption algorithm. Now – THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS!! But when their lack of understanding comes to the fore and their work is not taken seriously by cryptanalysts, the intelligent thing to do is learn more about the field, not scream that there is a conspiracy against you.
+2 # Ken Halt 2015-01-30 16:45
Interesting to read some of the uninformed comments in the article. The MSM and Koch affiliates have been very effective with their propaganda
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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Sellouts: The Senate & the Keystone XL Pipeline
By Charles Pierce, Esquire
30 January 2015
Well, the Senate is now set to double-dog dare the president to veto a bill mandating the construction of our old friend the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel designed to bring the world’s dirtiest fossil-fuel down from the environmental hellspout of northern Alberta, through this country’s most valuable farmland, and down to the refineries on the coast, and thence to the world.
Instead of discussing (again) what a dreadful idea the pipeline is, let’s mention the nine (!) Democratic senators who voted to submarine the White House in favor of this catastrophe waiting to happen.
Nine Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus to support the bill: Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.
OK, Heidi Heitkamp is about one head-scarf short of being an oil sheikh at this point, and Joe Manchin is hopeless on any issue involving the extraction industries because of coal. But what the hell is up with Tom Carper? What’s Delaware’s dog in this fight? Shipping, I guess, and the same thing could be said for Bob Casey, Jr., who is following the family tradition of bailing on his party when it suits him. (The residents of Pennsylvania, with their land fracked half to death and their water capable of being used as lighter fluid, should be alerted to the fact that their junior senator voted with the industries that have done the damage.) Donnelly of Indiana voted for it so nobody would call him a tree-hugger on the radio, and I suspect Mark Warner wanted to burnish his “centrist” credentials as well. These are all very lame excuses, but Claire McCaskill has none. Of the nine poltroons, her state is closest to the proposed route of the death funnel, and it will be most affected by whatever happens when the pipeline breaks, because it will, because it is a pipeline and they break. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t tried to cobble one together.
“It’s going to be either moved by train, or it’s going to be moved by barge, or it’s going to be moved by pipeline. The safest way for it to be moved is by pipeline. It also has the benefit of more jobs,” said McCaskill when asked about her vote for a pipeline bill offered by Senate Democrats within weeks of losing their majority in last November’s mid-term elections.
Let it be moved in all those ways, but let Canadian oil be moved through Canada, which is a harder sell, because they take their environmental regulations — and their treaties with their indigenous peoples — a lot more serious than we do. So we serve as North America’s Louisiana, with our own Cancer Corridor. Which reminds me:
The vote is a big win for Louisiana lawmakers. Before December’s Senate runoff in that state, the two candidates, incumbent Democratic senator Mary Landrieu and her challenger, GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, both pushed bills to approve the pipeline. The House approved Cassidy’s bill, but the Senate defeated Landrieu’s and he went on to take her Senate seat in the election.
And some of the comments:
+32 # fredboy 2015-01-30 15:46
If Warner doesn’t understand clean water, he shouldn’t be representing the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S. Senate.
For some time now, here in Colorado, I’ve been passing on my logo for a Dem. governor, Hickenlooper:
HICKNLOOPER IS A POOPER, FOR PROMOTING FRACKING
And now, since his vote in the egregious and gonna be so damaging and health destroying Keystone Pipeline, I’ve got a similar logo for Dem. Sen. Michael Bennet:
GET BENNET OUT OF THE SENATE,
FOR HIS VOTING FOR THE KEYSTONE WAR
Yep, a political war it now is – bi-partisan effort to impeach this POTUS, Obama, should he not veto, as he said he would, this Keystone Pipeline, and a Dem. vote out of any and all obviously bought off Dem. Senators who are listed above, and who are very likely to vote to overcome a veto, should Pres. Obama keep his word and veto, as he’s said he would, the deadly Keystone Pipeline.
+32 # Luckyenough 2015-01-30 15:57
As a Pennsylvania resident, I am at a loss as to how in the name of heaven Casey could have supported this filthy oil traveling anywhere through the US. I wonder if the route had been through PA if he would have been so ready to suck up to the moneyed interests. My fingers are ready on the keyboard to send a letter telling him he is not representing MY interests, and I am one of a minority of dems in my rural very red county!
+30 # Blackjack 2015-01-30 16:05
What they all understand perfectly well is their political futures, which they think is tied to sucking up to the oil/gas industries. What they don’t give a fig about is the best interests of those of us who don’t benefit from oil/gas extraction in our back yards–you know those of us who actually voted for them so they could vote against us. And is anyone else sick of the lame-brained excuse that it will bring “jobs?” That’s the excuse that has been given forever by polluters of all stripes and what it has given us instead is ecological nightmares which we, the indentured servants, i.e., citizens, have had to pay for. . . sometimes after getting sick, and even dying, from whatever brand of poison they foisted upon us.
+3 # BillW72 2015-01-30 16:14
Does nine Democrat senators mean that Obama’s veto can be easily overridden?
+15 # Carol R 2015-01-30 16:16
“Donnelly of Indiana voted for it so nobody would call him a tree-hugger on the radio…”
BP Oil in NW Indiana (Whiting, IN) is already processing Tar Sands oil. Our air was 16th most polluted in the US, according to the American Lung Association. BP Oil puts 2 million tons of pet coke into our air every year.
Just who was Donnelly voting to help? Hoosiers or BP Oil?
AND # skylinefirepest 2015-01-30 16:39
Pipeline is the safest method of transportation for almost any product. Do you drive a car? Wear clothes? Eat food every day? If so, people, then oil put it there for you. We cannot survive without oil. Get over yourselves.
AND +25 # Blackjack 2015-01-30 17:05
It’s you who should get over yourself! You can make excuses all you want for the polluting excesses that make for part of the greed that has been a part of our country for far too many years. You can have some oil/gas for a time without being excessive and you can also look for greener alternatives and support them or you can be satisfied with excess and greed!
+13 # REDPILLED 2015-01-30 17:34
People once thought that way about whale oil. See this: James Hansen slams Keystone XL Canada-U.S. Pipeline: “Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate
-45 # brycenuc 2015-01-30 17:08
Skylinefirepest is absolutely right. Besides, oil cannot produce the erroneously maligned carbon dioxide until it is refined and burned. It will produce the same amount of harmless carbon dioxide in the atmosphere where ever it is refined and burned. Once that oil is produced, it will be refined and burned.
Of all the stupid things to blame for global warming pipelines are at the top of the list.
+19 # X Dane 2015-01-30 17:19
I wonder if you live close to a pipeline or processing plant?? if you did you would not be so flip, for it is the dirtiest most polluting oil on the planet. And it will ONLY bring destruction…. and disaster, when it breaks,
We are producing plenty of oil in our own country, we do not need Canada’s filthy crap. YOU need to inform yourself before you try to lecture us. You probably do not understand that it is also the most expensive to refine.
+16 # Cassandra2012 2015-01-30 17:49
Keystone will only benefit the Koch Bros. and Trans-Canada Oil. It will produce only 35 permanent jobs and threaten the Oglala aquifer and the farmland of eight states.
Filthy dangerous tar sands oil is NO answer to our energy needs. Time to actually develop green solutions as IS BEING DONE IN PLACES LIKE ICELAND and Scotland. We are rapidly becoming a third world country as we succumb to the machinations of the Koch/ALEC oligarchs.
+19 # Barbara K 2015-01-30 17:46
Not only is this crap coming from Canada, but it is not for us. It is going to the Gulf to be shipped to China. We are taking all the risks and getting none of the benefits. A foreign company is taking over farmland by eminent domain that belongs to American citizens. This should not be allowed. No foreign entity should be able to take away an American’s land. That is in the constitution. On top of all that, it is the Koch roaches who stand to gain $500Billion dollars on the deal. It is always, always, all about the money.
+6 # Laird999 2015-01-30 18:22
If this tar sands oil gets used it is GAME OVER – the climate will be ruined for humans – so for the Senator to say “this oil will be transported anyway” is idiotic. Anybody who says its ok to develop tar sands oil is essentially a traitor, a Benedict Arnold. Spills are bad, but spills are nothing compared to Game Over and Climate Ruin. The pipeline will speed up societal suicide. We used up our carbon budget, now we must make a stand and leave the vast majority of the carbon in the ground, or else we guarantee Climate Ruin.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
WORK IN PROGRESS
With the US President out-of the country – courting the Saudis in Riyadh – the US East Coast experienced January 27 2015 winter storm Juno that while sparing New York City was nevertheless the most expensive storm in US history thanks in part to the anticipatory moves taken by the region’s mayors and Governors and the fact that it did bury Boston under a heavy layer of snow.
At the UN that date was bracketed in between two very important event. The one on Monday January 26th that was held as scheduled – right before the shut-down of the UN for Juno’s Tuesday the 27. The other event was supposed to be held on Tuesday the 27 Which was the Holocaust Memorial Day HMD, but was postponed for Wednesday the 28th – the day the UN gates were opened again.
We present here the two reports by Irith Jawetz who participated at the two events at the UN.
“Staying together – Dialogue in the Face of Extremism”
This event was the last one before the United Nations shut down because of the approaching of what was described as the “Blizzard of the Century” in New York City. When we left the building at 3 p.m. we were led out through the basement, since the main entrance and exit doors were already shut down. The UN expects to reopen again on Wednesday, January 28th. The Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, originally scheduled for Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 was postponed for Wednesday, January 28th due to the inclement weather.
It was a High-level Panel on “Staying Together – Dialogue in the Face of Violent Extremism” and took place on Monday 26 January 2015, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm at the Trusteeship Council, UN Headquarters
The event was co sponsored by The Permanent Missions of Sweden and Indonesia to the United Nations.
It was chaired and moderates by Ghida Fakhry who did an outstanding job. Ms. Fakhri is a Lebanese broadcast journalist who has been one of the primary broadcasters for the news Al Jazeera English since its launch, and is currently based at the channel’s main broadcast center in Doha, Qatar.
Opening Remarks were given by H.E. Ms. Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden who welcomes everybody and thanked us all for attending the event in spite of the weather. She started by quoting Mahatma Gandhi who said ” There is no way to Peace – Peace is the way” . Sweden has had its problems since it has taken in refugees from Iraq, and now Syria, but she believes that dialogue between ethnic groups and religious leaders is the right way to combat those problems. Sweden encourages dialogue between leaders of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders.
The panel included:
H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations;
H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;
H.E. Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO;
H.E. Mr. Iyad Amin Madani, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC);
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations (UNAoC);
Dr. Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, representative of the Indonesian civil society;
Paul Berman the New York essayist;
Closing Remarks were given by H.E. Mr. Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative, Indonesia
Mr. Jan Eliasson stressed that we have to stay cool and find the root causes to the problem of extremism. It is important to stop recruitment of new extremists, we have to isolate extremists and the job should be done by everybody who has some power, i.e. political leaders, religious leaders, parents, Grandparents, teachers, community leaders, whoever comes in touch with the public. It should be a wake up call.
Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, who told us that she was marching on that march in Paris, stressed the importance of educating your children and young adults about Cultural diversity and global citizenship. She stressed that the most influential people would be the religious leaders. Their roles are important.
H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed the idea that violence and extremism are consequence of circumstances. Those people believe that their actions are justified because the circumstances created them. Torture and killing are wrong but necessary. Just like spying is wrong but necessary. What bothers him that there are no real protests in the Arab world against extremists.
Mr. Paul Berman introduced a new word: Islamism. By Islamism he does not mean Islam, or Islamists, but Islamism which is just like Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism. People who practice Islamism believe in conspiracy theory, the western world is against them, Zionism is against them, and he also stressed that those elements must be fought by all means.
The Consensus of the speakers was that recent acts of violent extremism around the world remind us that dialogue is more important than ever. We must stay together, united against those divisive forces which challenge the diversity and core values of our societies. A multifaceted and comprehensive approach is key. The counter-narrative to polarisation is inclusive participation.
This high-level event aims to give new impetus to the promotion of a culture of peace, dignity and respect for human rights, drawing on existing initiatives of the United Nations. Here, the UN Alliance of Civilizations and UNESCO’s “Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures” afford examples of intercultural confidence-building in practice. How can we together step up efforts to strengthen the voices of moderation? Can we, jointly, find new ways to co-operate in order to counter violent extremism whilst safeguarding a culture of dialogue?
The event was informative, and one can only hope that the ideas expressed will not stay only on paper and measures will be implemented.
2015 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is marked every year on January 27th, the date on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945 by Soviet troops. This year’s observance, on the theme ‘Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors,’ coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end and the founding of the UN.
This year the event took place on January 28, 2015 at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York. It was originally set for Tuesday, January 27th, the correct date, but because of the snow storm on Monday on the East Coast of the United States it was postponed for Wednesday.
The Hall was crowded and the first rows were reserved for holocaust survivors.
Ther motto of the event was “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust survivors.”
Opening remarks were delivered by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He started his speech by greeting the new elected Israeli President H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin, and all the holocaust survivors present.
“Anti-Semitism remains a violent reality; Jews continue to be killed solely because they are Jews. Extremism and dehumanization are present across the world, exploited through social media and abetted by sensationalist press coverage. The targets are as diverse as humankind itself,” the Secretary-General said.
“In Europe and elsewhere, Muslims are under attack, the victims of bigotry at the hands of political opportunists and ultra-nationalists. Vulnerable populations everywhere bury their dead and live in fear of further violence.”
“I take heart from counter-demonstrations, rallies and interfaith dialogue. We must all remain on our guard. We must uphold human rights, democratic freedoms and our responsibility to protect people at risk. And we must respond to terrorism and provocation in ways that resolve – instead of multiply – the problem,” he underscored.
“As we remember what was lost in the past, and as we recognize the perils of the present, we know what we must do – and we know we must do it together,” said Mr. Ban .
H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin started his speech in English and continued in Hebrew. He explained that the Hebrew language is the language of his parents, his people, and it is befitting that this talk should be delivered in that language.
In his address, Reuven Rivlin recalled the “brutal,” “perverted” extermination of Jews during the Holocaust “in the most horrifying crime ever committed in the history of the human race.” The United Nations rose on the ruins of the Second World War, he said, stressing that the International Day was not just a gesture because the pledge ‘Never again’ was “the very essence of the UN,” and the principle and primary reason for its existence.
However, since the UN was founded, more nations and communities had been slaughtered. “We must ask ourselves honestly: is our struggle – the struggle of the General Assembly against genocide – effective enough?” he said. “Are we shedding too many tears and taking too little action?”
Mr. Rivlin noted that the Convention on Genocide was now 64 years-old but remained a merely “symbolic document” that had not realized its objectives. The international community had a duty to lay down the red lines defining genocide and to make clear that crossing those lines must mean intervention. Humanitarian and moral considerations had to take precedence over economic, political or other interests in the fight against genocide.
“Nations cannot be saved and must not be saved as an afterthought or from considerations of cost-benefit,” Mr. Rivlin said. “Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lessons of the Holocaust will never be learned.”
The General Assembly must act as a determined and unified international community or else risk leaving the ‘Never again’ oath hollow and defiled.
“We must remain silent no longer. We must rise up and take action,” he said.
In his remarks, General Assembly Vice-President Denis Antoine also underscored the importance of drawing lessons from the tragedy of the Holocaust and the need to “pass them on to the present and future generations,” particularly as the world continued to confront instances of violent intolerance and brutal prejudice.
A very remarkable speaker was Youth Advisor Ms. Charlotte Cohen. In September 2013 British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the establishment of a national holocaust Commission in order to ensure that Britain has a permanent and fitting memorial to the holocaust and educational resourced for generations to come. Ms. Cohen won an essay contest on the subject “Why is it so important that we remember the Holocaust and how can we make sure future generations never forget”. Charlotte came to the United Nations to speak on that important day and t stress the need to “never forget”.
Two emotional speeches came from two Holocaust survivors. The first was Mrs. Jona Laks who was nine years old and living with her family in Lodz, Poland, when Hitler invaded Poland. Together with her family she was forced to live under inhuman conditions in the Lodz Ghetto, and in 1944 was transferred to Auschwitz. She and her twin sister were subject to the experiments undertaken by SS Dr. Josef Mengele. She described the horrors she had to endure and there was not one dry eye in the audience. She managed to survive the Death March and ended up in Israel, the sole survivor of her family.
The second survivor was Soviet Army Veteran Mr. Boris Feldman who spoke in Russian. He was born in 1920 in Vinnitskaya Oblast, Ukraine, and was taken by the Nazis to the “Chernevetsloe” ghetto where he remained until March 1944 when the ghetto was liberated by the Soviet Army. Later he joined the Soviet Army and fought as an infantryman in Eastern Europe against the German Army. He was decorated with several military medals.
For the “musical” part of the ceremony we listened to Israeli Grammy Award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari who co-founded the Gedenk Movement. She explained that the word “Gedenk” means “Remember” in Yiddish. She helped create the non profit organization in 2006 to expand young people’s awareness about the holocaust and antisemitism and its negative consequences in today’s world.
Cantor Shimmy Miller from Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, New Jersey recited El Maleh Racahamim and Ani Ma’amin. He was accompanied by Mr. Daniel Gildar on the Keyboard.
A moving ceremony befitting its motto: “Liberty, Life and the legacy of the Holocaust survivors”.
Irith Jawetz worked 1972-2010 – for 38 years – as part of the Austrian Government Foreign Service – with Austrian Holocaust survivors that restarted their lives in the United States.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
From the Offices of George Soros:
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Yesterday, the New York Times carried an op-ed by George Soros and Bernard-Henri Lévy on the remarkable experiment underway in Ukraine. They write, “Maidan’s supporters have moved from opposition to nation building” — launching radical reforms and taking on entrenched state bureaucracy and the business oligarchy. If these reforms are to succeed, the new Ukraine first must survive its ongoing conflict with Russia. To do so, it urgently needs financial assistance from the West.
In today’s New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman quoted George’s view that, “there is a new Ukraine that is determined to be different from the old Ukraine. … What makes it unique is that it is not only willing to fight but engage in executing a set of radical reforms. It is up against the old Ukraine that has not disappeared … and up against a very determined design by President Putin to destabilize it and destroy it. But it is determined to assert the independence and European orientation of the new Ukraine.”
Save the New Ukraine
New York Times
George Soros and Bernard-Henri Lévy
A NEW Ukraine was born a year ago in the pro-European protests that helped to drive President Viktor F. Yanukovych from power. And today, the spirit that inspired hundreds of thousands to gather in the Maidan, Kiev’s Independence Square, is stronger than ever, even as it is under direct military assault from Russian forces supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The new Ukraine seeks to become the opposite of the old Ukraine, which was demoralized and riddled with corruption. The transformation has been a rare experiment in participatory democracy; a noble adventure of a people who have rallied to open their nation to modernity, democracy and Europe. And this is just the beginning.
This experiment is remarkable for finding expression not only in defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity from the separatists, but also in constructive work. Maidan’s supporters have moved from opposition to nation building.
Many of those in government and Parliament are volunteers who have given up well-paying jobs to serve their country. Natalie Jaresko, a former investment banker, now works for a few hundred dollars a month as the new finance minister. Volunteers are helping Ukraine’s one million internally displaced people as well as working as advisers to ministers and in local government.
The new Ukraine, however, faces a potent challenge from the old Ukraine. The old Ukraine is solidly entrenched in a state bureaucracy that has worked hand in hand with a business oligarchy. And the reformers are also up against the manifest hostility of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, who wants at all costs to destabilize Ukraine.
One drawback is that the new Ukraine is a well-kept secret, not just from the rest of the world but also from the Ukrainian public. Radical reforms have been hatched but not yet implemented.
It is instructive to compare Ukraine today with Georgia in 2004. When he became president that year, Mikheil Saakashvili immediately replaced the hated traffic police and removed the roadblocks used to extort bribes from drivers. The public recognized straight away that things had changed for the better.
Unfortunately, Ukraine has not yet found a similar demonstration project. Kiev’s police force is to be restructured, but if you need a driver’s license, you must still pay the same bribe as before.
Mr. Saakashvili was a revolutionary leader who first stamped out corruption but eventually turned it into a state monopoly. By contrast, Ukraine is a participatory democracy that does not rely on a single leader but on checks and balances. Democracies move slowly, but that may prove an advantage in the long run.
The big question is, will there be a long run? Although Russia is in a deepening financial crisis, Mr. Putin appears to have decided that he can destroy the new Ukraine before it can fully establish itself and before an economic downturn destroys his own popularity.
The Russian president is stepping up the military and financial pressure on Ukraine. Over the weekend, the city of Mariupol came under attack from forces that NATO said were backed by Russian troops, undermining the pretense that the separatists are acting on their own.
Ukraine will defend itself militarily, but it urgently needs financial assistance. The immediate need is for $15 billion. But to ensure Ukraine’s survival and encourage private investment, Western powers need to make a political commitment to provide additional sums, depending on the extent of the Russian assault and the success of Ukraine’s reforms.
The reformers, who want to avoid the leakages that were characteristic of the old Ukraine, have expressed their wish to be held accountable for all expenditures. They are passing extensive legislation but also want the International Monetary Fund to go on exercising oversight.
Unfortunately, just as democracies are slow to move, an association of democracies like the European Union is even slower. Mr. Putin is exploiting this.
It is not only the future of Ukraine that’s at stake, but that of the European Union itself. The loss of Ukraine would be an enormous blow; it would empower a Russian alternative to the European Union based on the rule of force rather than the rule of law. But if Europe delivered the financial assistance that Ukraine needs, Mr. Putin would eventually be forced to abandon his aggression. At the moment, he can argue that Russia’s economic troubles are caused by Western hostility, and the Russian public finds his argument convincing.
If, however, Europe is generous with its financial assistance, a stable and prosperous Ukraine will provide an example that makes clear that the blame for Russia’s financial troubles lies with Mr. Putin. The Russian public might then force him to emulate the new Ukraine. Europe’s reward would be a new Russia that has turned from a potent strategic threat into a potential strategic partner. Those are the stakes.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 28th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Obama’s Plan: Allow Drilling in Atlantic, but Limit It in Arctic.
By CORAL DAVENPORT for the New York Times – JAN. 27, 2015
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration moved Tuesday to open up a vast stretch of East Coast waters to oil and gas drilling, a decision that could have a profound impact on the economic and environmental future of states from Virginia to Georgia. The move also adds a new dimension to the legacy of President Obama.
In an announcement that outraged environmentalists and brought grudging cheers from the oil and gas industry, the Interior Department unveiled the latest part of its five-year plan for the government to sell leases for oil and gas development in federal waters from 2017 to 2022.
The plan would open up one lease sale area off the southeast stretch of the Atlantic Seaboard, an area the oil industry has long hungered to exploit. It would also open new portions of the Gulf of Mexico, which is already open to drilling. And in a move that appeased environmentalists but angered Alaskan Republicans, it will ban drilling in portions of the Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
“This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop,” the interior secretary, Sally Jewell, said in a statement.
Environmentalists said opening the Atlantic waters would put the coasts of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia at risk for an environmental disaster like the BP spill that struck the Gulf Coast in 2010, when millions of barrels of oil washed ashore after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Advocacy groups in those states said that the drilling could harm tourism, fishing and other coastal industries that are already major drivers of the Southeastern economy.
But lawmakers from both parties in those coastal states have pushed for years to open their waters for drilling. The Interior Department estimates there are 3.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil on the Atlantic’s outer continental shelf and 31.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Continue reading the main story
Where Offshore Drilling Would Be Allowed
The Obama administration’s latest plan would open up the Eastern Seaboard to leasing for oil and gas drilling, but ban exploration in some Arctic waters off Alaska.
Areas in Alaska designated by President Obama in December and January as off limits for consideration for future oil and gas leasing.
The estimates are based on seismic surveys done in the early 1980s, and energy industry experts say the true reserves may be far higher. In opening up the waters to drilling, coastal states see the opportunity for billions of dollars in new revenue and royalties to flow from oil companies to state coffers, which would help pay for roads and schools and fill in budget shortfalls left by the recession.
For the president, the proposal is a new chapter in his complex and evolving environmental legacy. In announcing the drilling now, he is trying to achieve a balancing act on energy and the environment that he failed to achieve in his first term, in large part because of the BP disaster. Throughout his six years in office, he has tried to push a sweeping, aggressive and controversial plan to fight climate change while offering an appeasement to his opponents in the oil industry and the Republican Party.
“He giveth, and he taketh away,” said Kevin Book, an analyst at Clearview Energy Partners, a Washington analysis firm, of the president’s strategy. “The pairing of environmental policy with energy policy is something that, conceptually, this administration has done since the first term. Sometimes it looks like a balancing act, sometimes it’s serendipitous.”
Continue reading the main story
In early 2010, while trying to push a climate change bill through the Senate, Mr. Obama’s Interior Department put forth its first five-year plan for oil and gas development, which opened up the Atlantic coast for offshore drilling. The pairing of the two policies was done to ease opposition from Senate Republicans to the climate change bill. But after the deadly April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, Mr. Obama withdrew the proposal for Atlantic drilling. A few months later the climate bill died in the Senate.
Five years later he is trying again, this time trying to force through a historic climate change policy by using his executive authority to push Environmental Protection Agency regulations on planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants. The regulations, if enacted, could force states to shutter hundreds of coal plants in a transition to clean and renewable energy, and they have prompted fierce opposition from Republican governors.
But the new offshore drilling plan won praise from some of them. Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, a Republican who is a fiercely conservative opponent of Mr. Obama’s energy and climate change policies, said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr. Obama was “taking a step in the right direction to help North Carolina become a significant energy-producing state.”
Mr. McCrory added that oil and gas drilling would “create thousands of good paying jobs, spur activity in a host of associated industries, generate billions of dollars in tax revenue and move America closer to energy independence.”
Mr. McCrory and other Southeastern governors envision a future in which new offshore drilling stimulates job growth and new onshore industries that support it, aligning Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia with states like Texas and Louisiana as major offshore oil producers.
But local advocacy groups fear not only oil spills but also the destruction of a distinctive coastal economy.
“Risky drilling off our Southern coasts jeopardizes the communities, jobs and beloved beaches that are the very heart of our coastal states,” said Sierra Weaver, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Our coastal economies are the backbone of hundreds of towns and cities along the Southern coast, providing thousands of jobs, multibillion-dollar tourism industries, multimillion-dollar fishing industries, and critical local tax revenues.”
Administration officials pointed out on Tuesday that the proposal would be subject to revision. Interior Department officials said that they expected to hold over 20 public hearings on the plan, but it does not require congressional approval. Ms. Weaver said environmental groups would gear up to fight the proposals.
Environmental advocates noted that since the 2010 BP spill, Congress has not passed any new law intended to tighten safety regulations on the offshore oil industry. But Interior Department officials said they were planning to put forth new regulations ahead of the new drilling.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story
“As a result of that incident, there were investigations to reduce the likelihood of problems in the future,” said Janice Schneider, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management. Ms. Schneider said the agency was working with the industry to develop regulations on improved technology to prevent blowouts in offshore drilling rigs.
“We are working actively to get those proposed rules out on the street as soon as possible, and working with industry to ensure those rules reflect the best technology,” she said.
Interior Department officials said the drilling in the Atlantic would take place a minimum of 50 miles offshore so that it would not get in the way of the Navy’s military exercises, offshore wind turbines, and commercial and recreational fishing.
Ms. Jewell said that since so little was known about the proposed Atlantic lease sale areas, the coming years would be devoted to exploration of the area to determine the extent of its oil and gas resources and ecological sensitivity. She said that the government was unlikely to sell a drilling lease before 2021, meaning it could be a decade before new drilling begins.
“In the Atlantic, we know very little,” she said.
A version of this article appears in print on January 28, 2015, on page A1 of the New York editionn.
For illustrations look please at: www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/us/oba…
Some of the comments:
10 hours ago
Excellent compromise. Let the spills and other “accidents” pollute the waterfront homes of the “movers and shakers” instead of wiping out a…
12 hours ago
Just two thoughts on the subject of leasing Americans land to private industry………The excuse of making us energy independent means,…
12 hours ago
“…lawmakers in Virginia and other Southeastern states have pushed to open up their waters to oil companies, lured by the prospect of new…
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
While on his way to Saudi Arabia, Obama released his opposition to drilling in a sensitive area of he Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Could this allay some Saudi worries?
Obama’s Arctic Refuge Drill Ban Won’t Change Much, For Now
January 26, 2015
by John Ydstie of NPR
President Obama says he will ask Congress to give wilderness status to protect more than 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The president announced his intention Sunday in a video, describing the area as a pristine habitat with abundant wildlife:
“It’s very fragile. That’s why I’m very proud that my Department of Interior has put forward a comprehensive plan to make sure that we’re protecting the refuge and that we’re designating new areas, including coastal plains, for preservation,” he said.
But Obama’s action could put billions of barrels of oil beneath the wilderness out of reach of energy companies. Industry representatives are criticizing the decision, but also say Obama’s request will have little immediate effect.
Obama’s request for wilderness status reverses a recommendation by the Reagan administration in 1987 to allow drilling in a small area of the ANWR. In the intervening quarter of a century Democrats and Republicans have continuously sparred over the issue and no drilling has taken place.
Erik Milito of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the industry’s views, says despite the glut of oil on the market today because of the U.S. shale boom, the country will eventually need the oil from ANWR.
“If you look at Department of Energy forecasts, we’re gonna need oil and natural gas to fuel this economy for decades to come,” Milito says. “So, we gotta plan well ahead so we have the ability to fuel this economy for future generations.”
He points to a U.S. Geological Survey estimate that projects ANWR contains between 5 billion and 16 billion barrels of oil. He says the industry would likely find even more once it begins drilling.
Fadel Gheit, a managing director and oil expert at Oppenheimer & Co., says he believes the president’s decision does not change the outlook for developing the ANWR reserves significantly.
“It will make life more difficult for the industry; it will put another hurdle — but technology will always bring the hurdle down,” Gheit says.
He says the shale revolution reduces the urgency of tapping the ANWR oil.
“There’s really no need to take a chance on ANWR, since ANWR is still a very sensitive area,” he adds.
Gheit says the shale oil glut gives the oil industry five to 10 years to develop the technology it needs to convince the public that it can drill safely in such an environmentally sensitive place.
It’s virtually certain the new Republican-controlled Congress will reject the president’s recommendation. But Obama’s request does effectively block drilling for the next two years and he could veto a congressional bill to allow it.
But if Republicans keep control of Congress and the country elects a Republican president, Obama’s effort to protect ANWR from drilling could be swept aside.
Battle Over Offshore Drilling In Arctic Dwarfs ANWR
April 15, 2009
by Elizabeth Arnold of NPR
Melting ice in the Arctic may not be good for species that live there, but it does mean those icy waters are much more accessible and cost-effective places to drill for oil and gas.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was in Alaska this week as part of an “information gathering” tour to help craft a new Outer Continental Shelf drilling policy. After two days of public testimony from those for and against offshore drilling, Salazar pronounced Alaskans passionate and divided.
Just over a year ago, the oil and gas industry bid $2.6 billion for drilling rights in the Chukchi Sea, located in the Arctic between Alaska and Russia. It’s the largest oil and gas lease sale in history, and it’s staggering when compared with the $7 million that the same leases went for in 1991.
Though rapidly retreating sea ice makes it easier and more cost-effective to drill in the Chukchi Sea, it also means the area is more fragile. Just about every marine mammal and seabird in the Chukchi Sea is already endangered or a candidate for listing. And, the opposition from native villages that rely on fish, walrus, seals and whales for subsistence dwarfs the fight over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Melting Ice Could Mean More Drilling, More Controversy
The biggest lease of the most recent sale went to Shell Gulf of Mexico, which spent $105 million for rights in the Chukchi Sea. Shell already had bought leases even further north and was ready with rigs when then-President George W. Bush lifted the ban on drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf.
“We are drill-bit ready to move in the Arctic right now, and this is stuff that can happen right now, and with a few things going our way, we will be ready to go in 2010,” says Pete Slaiby, Shell’s Alaska general manager.
But those few things are now largely in the hands of Salazar, who went to Alaska this week as part of the process of developing this administration’s offshore energy plan. He has called a time out on new leasing, for more public input, and he got plenty Tuesday.
Whaling captain and mayor of the North Slope Borough Edward Itta advised slowing down: “Mr. Secretary, like all Alaskans, the people of the North Slope depend on the economic engine of oil and gas development. We have supported onshore for well over 30 years now. But, Mr. Secretary, offshore is a different matter.”
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin advised speeding up: “Delays or major restrictions in accessing our needed resources for environmentally responsible development are not in the nation’s or our state’s best interest.”
Passionate Protests From Both Sides
From laborers in hard hats chanting “jobs, jobs, jobs” to environmentalists dressed as polar bears and puffins, division and emotion over offshore drilling was apparent.
Shell’s Slaiby says the industry has learned from problems like the Exxon Valdez spill. Of the total volume of oil, less than 1 percent ends up in the oceans, he says. And, he says, more than 100 exploratory wells have been drilled in U.S. and Canadian Arctic waters without a single accident.
But concern over offshore drilling in Arctic waters doesn’t just center on spills. The Interior Department is also responsible for endangered species. An increasing number of marine mammals and seabirds in the arctic are in decline, and the fear is that the impacts of a warming climate will be compounded by new development.
Species At Risk
Traveling on an icebreaker in the northern Bering Sea, University of Wyoming researcher Jim Lovvorn studies seabirds that breed in the Arctic, including the spectacled eider. On both hands, he counts off other species in danger: Steller’s eiders, king eiders, common eiders, red-throated loons, yellow-billed loons, four species of ice seal, walruses and bowhead whales.
“You could not find a more sensitive habitat,” Lovvorn says.
On the same ship, USGS research ecologist Chad Jay is tracking the Pacific walrus, which is also under consideration for listing as a threatened or endangered species. Reductions in the extent of ice over the past few years have forced walruses onto small pieces of remnant ice.
In 2007, there was no ice at all near the shelf.
“As a result of [ice shelf melting] we saw upwards of 6,000 walruses hauling out along the shore of northwest Alaska, which is the first ever,” Jay says. “It means that a greater number of animals are using a smaller space to forage in and to haul out on — probably not a good thing.”
But the very thing that is cause for concern with regard to walrus and other species in the Arctic is what’s made drilling in these waters more attractive to industry: less sea ice.
Whether and how to balance development of a what is a fragile ecosystem — and what some believe is the next best answer to America’s thirst for oil — poses a major policy decision for the new Department of Interior. Salazar says he doesn’t expect to make everybody happy.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Blogger Who Uncovered GOP Leader’s White Supremacist Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut.
By Aaron Sankin, The Daily Dot, 23 January 2015
Earlier this month, Lamar White, Jr. woke up to discover his Internet connection wasn’t working. He had just gotten a new cable box installed at his Dallas, Texas, home and figured his lines should still be in ship shape because it hadn’t been long since they were last checked.
Rather than just assume he had crappy Internet service, like you or I might, he thought his home computer system was on the receiving end of a denial of service attack. White, you see, is something of a major figure in the political media. And there are a good many people who may want revenge for the things he’s dug up.
Last month, the Louisiana native and current Southern Methodist University law student, set off a firestorm in Washington when a post on his personal blog revealed that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, was a featured speaker at a white nationalist conference put on by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.
While Scalise retained his leadership position after conservatives from around the country quickly circled the wagons, the story has generated headlines for nearly a month—even causing a new round of controversy when left-leaning news outlets started making a fuss over Scalise’s multiple votes against making Martin Luther King Day a federal holiday. Nevertheless, when the cable guy came a few days later, and the first thing he asked after looking at White’s Internet connection was, “Do you have any enemies?” White couldn’t help but be more than a little surprised.
“I don’t have any scorned ex-girlfriends,” White recalled saying with a laugh. “Everyone I know in Dallas seems to like me.”
“[The cable guy] said that whatever had happened to me was the result of someone invading my backyard and using a power tool to cut the line,” he recalled. “There’s no conceivable way this could have happened on its own or been done by an animal. It wasn’t just that they cut it, they also tugged at the line [after it was severed].”
White was naturally pretty freaked out. He has since upped both his physical and online security. He’s replaced the security equipment on his house, changed all his passwords, and enabled two-factor authentication on every online account he could.
“I don’t think it was anybody associated in Steve Scalise’s office,” White insisted, adding that he’s not the type of person who tends to lean toward conspiracy theories. “I respect the folks that have spoken out in his favor. I think he has a lot of explaining to do. But I absolutely, unequivocally, do not think that he is in any way connected.”
“This just shows you the nastiness of some of the people who are associated with the white nationalist movement,” he added.
Even so, the direct attack surprised him. While the Scalise scoop certainly brought a lot of attention, it didn’t come with a significant amount of hostility directed against him personally. Some conservatives have attempted to poke holes in his narrative, but the focus of nearly all opposition was primarily the story rather than White himself.
White knows the difference first-hand because it stood in contrast to another media flap in which White was recently at the center. In the midst of last year’s race for Texas governor, White attended a campaign rally in support of gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Just prior to the event, an advertisement released by Davis raised eyebrows nationally for attacking how her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, was being hypocritical for aggressively pushing tort reform after earning millions in a lawsuit when part of an oak tree fell on him, paralyzing him for life from the waist down. The ad was slammed as being insensitive to Abbott’s disability, and Davis responded with a event featuring a number of her disabled supporters—including White, who has cerebral palsy.
Some on the right blasted Davis for using White as a campaign “prop.” White naturally fired back with the line, “I am a human being, not a campaign prop,” which created another round of headlines.
He said that the criticism he received after that incident was far more vicious and personal in nature than what he experienced after publishing the Scalise story.
White first came to the story through a tip from a woman named Gilda Reed. A Democrat, Reed had lost a congressional election against Scalise in 2008. She had mentioned to White, who regularly does investigative journalism about Louisiana politics, about a connection between Scalise and David Duke.
Despite being the highest-profile Ku Klux Klan member in generations, Duke was a serious political force in Louisiana for many years. In 1991, he won 60 percent of the state’s white vote in an attempt to beat Edwin Edwards in the race for governor.
White started digging. He sat down at his computer and did a simple Google search for “David Duke Steve Scalise.” Within a few seconds, he came across a series of posts on the infamous white supremacist forum Stormfront.org (slogan: “Every month is white history month”) indicating that Scalise had attended a conference put on by European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a group founded by Duke to promote white civil rights, while Scalise was a Louisiana state legislator.
A post on Stormfront, which has since been removed but is still accessible via the Internet Archive’s invaluable Wayback Machine, noted that Scalise spoke to the group regarding the “gross mismanagement of tax revenue.”
In addition to plans to implement tactical strategies that were discussed, the meeting was productive locally as State Representative, Steve Scalise, discussed ways to oversee gross mismanagement of tax revenue or “slush funds” that have little or no accountability. Representative Scalise brought into sharp focus the dire circumstances pervasive in many important, under-funded needs of the community at the expense of graft within the Housing and Urban Development Fund, an apparent give-away to a selective group based on race.
A second post, which is still up on Stormfront’s site, noted:
It was just announced that Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson will enter the race in the 1st Congressional District. Those that attended the EURO conference in New Orleans will recall that Scalise was a speaker, offering his support for issues that are of concern to us. I suppose if Duke does not make the election for whatever reason, this gentleman would be a good alternative.
Scalise has admitted that he spoke to the group, but maintains that he was there to exclusively speak about economic issues and was unaware of the organization’s ties to the white supremacist movement. “I didn’t know who all of these groups were, and I detest any kind of hate group,” the lawmaker told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous.”
The tie between Scalise and EURO was there for anyone to find. White just happened to be the first person to Google precisely the right thing at precisely the right time. Of course, the axe swings both ways—the Internet is likely the tool whoever cut his cable used to discovered where White lives.
“It might not be the Klan or the white nationalists, it could just be a random person who found my address and didn’t like what I was posting,” he said. “I understand my address is public record. If someone wants to find where you live, they can find where you live, no matter who you are. I’m really not intimidated by that.
+12 # Billy Bob 2015-01-23 11:57
As someone who lived too long in Dallas, all I can say for it is that it’s a dirty city with a degree of corruption I don’t think you can match anywhere outside of hell.
” ‘I understand my address is public record. If someone wants to find where you live, they can find where you live, no matter who you are. I’m really not intimidated by that.’ “
-Well, White’s a hell of a lot braver than I am. I AM intimidated by that. I DO have scorned ex-girlfriends I’d like to keep in my past. I DO have children I’d like to protect from psychopaths. I DO fear for my “security” in a world where everyone seems to know personal information about everybody.
Your address and phone number were always, traditionally, public record, but I question the wisdom of that, in this day and age. In the past, there were never so many tools that could be used to destroy your life, simply through access to public information. I see no real reason why we shouldn’t be allowed at least some privacy, EVEN about our address and phone number.
Sorry, but one more thought:
If everyone can find everyone’s phone number and address, what’s stopping all of us from just dropping in Billy Joel? I’m just picking on him because I’d like to meet him, so, what’s stopping me? Could we all just decide to pay a visit to Bill O’Reilly?
My guess is, um, NO.
My guess is that there IS a way for someone famous to stay private. Am I wrong? If not, what is it? I’d like some privacy, please.
+2 # Banichi 2015-01-23 13:26
I once thought to find the addresses of a few of the justices of the SCOTUS, to send them a letter discussing the impact of Citizens United. I thought they might not be paying attention to the oaths they swore to ‘defend and protect’ the Constitution. But not surprisingly, such information is not easily available, not to ordinary citizens anyway. I admit I did not try too hard, since we are all watched over by too many government agencies and I don’t need to know that badly.
So yes, privacy does have a price…but if you are important enough, who can discover your information is a pretty small group, apparently.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Thw Washington Post Politics: U.S. mayors to file legal brief in support of Obama’s immigration executive actions.
By David Nakamura January 23, 2015
A group of big-city mayors led by New York’s Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles’s Eric Garcetti announced plans Friday to file a legal brief supporting President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which are being challenged in federal court by 25 states. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is among those who signed onto the brief.
The brief will argue that “the public interest across the country is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration reform by executive action,” the mayors said in a statement. They made the announcement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is taking place in Washington.
“Delaying implementation of the President’s executive action will further hurt our families, negatively impact our economies, and create unnecessary insecurity in our communities,” de Blasio said in a statement.
Obama announced in November that he would use his executive powers to protect as many as 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation and make other changes to border control policies designed to focus federal resources on violent and repeat criminals. The president said he acted after Congress failed to approve a comprehensive immigration reform bill last summer.
But Republicans have challenged the actions, calling them unconstitutional. The lawsuit from 25 states, led by Texas, argues that the “unilateral suspension of the Nation’s immigration laws is unlawful.”
The mayors of Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Denver and San Francisco also joined the brief in support of Obama’s actions. So far 28 mayors in all have signed on.
David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
The Post Recommends: US loosens embargo on Cuba, making trade and travel easier.
The Obama administration says new rules to significantly loosen the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and open up the communist island to greater American travel will go into effect Friday.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
Trickle-Down Was Nothing More Than the Politics of Helping the Rich and Powerful Get Richer and More Powerful.
By Elizabeth Warren, Reader Supported News
21 January 2015 – posted by Readers Supported News.
Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages. The text of Senator Warren’s remarks as prepared for delivery follows, and a PDF copy of her remarks is available here:
Good morning, and thank you MaryBe for the introduction, and for your work with the North Carolina AFL-CIO. Your efforts make a real difference for our families.
I want to start by thanking Rich Trumka and Damon Silvers for your leadership on economic issues, for your good counsel, and, for a long time now, your friendship. I also want to give special thanks to my good friends from the Massachusetts AFL-CIO who are here today, Steve Tolman and Lou Mandarini.
I love being with my labor friends, and I’m especially glad to join you today for the AFL’s first-ever National Summit on Wages. You follow in the best tradition of the American labor movement for more than a century-always fighting for working people, both union and non-union. Today you’ve spotlighted an economic issue that is central to understanding what’s happening to people all over this country.
I recently read an article in Politico called “Everything is Awesome.” The article detailed the good news about the economy: 5% GDP growth in the third quarter of 2014, unemployment under 6%, a new all-time high for the Dow, low inflation.(i)
Despite the headline, the author recognized that not everything is awesome, but his point has been repeated several times: On many different statistical measures, the economy has improved and is continuing to improve. I think the President and his team deserve credit for the steps they’ve taken to get us here. In particular, job growth is a big deal, and we celebrate it.
I’ve spent most of my career studying what’s happening to America’s middle class, and I know that these four widely-cited statistics give an important snapshot of the success of the overall economy. But the overall picture doesn’t tell us much about what’s happening at ground level to tens of millions of Americans. Despite these cheery numbers, America’s middle class is in deep trouble.
Think about it this way: The stock market is soaring, and that’s great if you have a pension or money in a mutual fund. But if you and your husband or wife are both working full time, with kids in school, and you are among the half or so of all Americans who don’t have any money in stocks,(ii) how does a booming stock market help you?
Corporate profits(iii) and GDP are up. But if you work at Walmart, and you are paid so little that you still need food stamps to put groceries on the table, what does more money in stockholders’ pockets and an uptick in GDP do for you?
Unemployment numbers are dropping. But if you’ve got a part-time job and still can’t find full-time work — or if you’ve just given up because you can’t find a good job to replace the one you had — you are counted as part of that drop in unemployment,(iv) but how much is your economic situation improving?
Inflation rates are still low. But if you are young and starting out life with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt locked into high interest rates by Congress, unable to find a good job or save to buy a house, how are you benefiting from low inflation?
A lot of broad national economic statistics say our economy is getting better, and it is true that the economy overall is recovering from the terrible crash of 2008. But there have been deep structural changes in this economy, changes that have gone on for more than thirty years, changes that have cut out hard-working, middle class families from sharing in this overall growth.
It wasn’t always this way.
Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class unlike anything seen on earth. From the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up pretty much across the board. In fact, 90% of all workers-everyone outside the top 10%-got about 70% of all the new income growth.(v) Sure, the richest 10% gobbled up more than their share-they got 30%. But overall, as the economic pie got bigger, pretty much everyone was getting a little more. In other words, as our country got richer, our families got richer. And as our families got richer, our country got richer. That was how this country built a great middle class.
But then things changed.
By 1980, wages had flattened out, while expenses kept going up. The squeeze was terrible. In the early 2000s, families were spending twice as much, adjusted for inflation, on mortgages as they had a generation earlier. They spent more on health insurance, and more to send their kids to college. Mom and dad both went to work, but that meant new expenses like childcare, higher taxes, and the costs of a second car. All over the country, people tightened their belts where they could, but it still hasn’t been enough to save them. Families have gone deep into debt to pay for college, to cover serious medical problems, or just to stay afloat a while longer.(vi) And today’s young adults may be the first generation in American history to end up, as a group, with less than their parents.(vii)
Remember how up until 1980, 90% of all people-middle class, working people, poor people-got about 70% of all the new income that was created in the economy and the top 10% took the rest? Since 1980, guess how much of the growth in income the 90% got? Nothing. None. Zero. In fact, it’s worse than that. The average family not in the top 10% makes less money than a generation ago.(viii) So who got the increase in income over the last 32 years? 100% of it went to the top ten percent. All of the new money earned in this economy over the past generation-all that growth in the GDP-went to the top.(ix) All of it.
That is a huge structural change. When I look at the data here – and this includes years of research I conducted myself – I see evidence everywhere about the pounding that working people are taking. Instead of building an economy for all Americans, for the past generation this country has grown an economy that works for some Americans. For tens of millions of working families who are the backbone of this country, this economy isn’t working. These families are working harder than ever, but they can’t get ahead. Opportunity is slipping away. Many feel like the game is rigged against them – and they are right. The game is rigged against them.
Since the 1980s, too many of the people running this country have followed one form or another of supply side – or trickle down – economic theory. Many in Washington still support it. When all the varnish is removed, trickle-down just means helping the biggest corporations and the richest people in this country, and claiming that those big corporations and rich people could be counted to create an economy that would work for everyone else.
Trickle-down was popular with big corporations and their lobbyists, but it never really made much sense. George Bush Sr. called it voodoo economics.(x) He was right, and let’s call it out for what it is: Trickle-down was nothing more than the politics of helping the rich-and-powerful get richer and more powerful, and it cut the legs out from under America’s middle class.
Trickle-down policies are pretty simple. First, fire the cops-not the cops on Main Street, but the cops on Wall Street. Pretty much the whole Republican Party – and, if we’re going to be honest, too many Democrats – talked about the evils of “big government” and called for deregulation. It sounded good, but it was really about tying the hands of regulators and turning loose big banks and giant international corporations to do whatever they wanted to do-turning them loose to rig the markets and reduce competition, to outsource more jobs, to load up on more risks and hide behind taxpayer guarantees, to sell more mortgages and credit cards that cheated people. In short, to do whatever juiced short term profits even if it came at the expense of working families.
Trickle down was also about cutting taxes for those at the top. Cut them when times are good, cut them when times are bad. And when that meant there was less money for road repairs, less money for medical research, and less money for schools and that our government would need to squeeze kids on student loans, then so be it. And look at the results: The top 10% got ALL the growth in income over the past 30 years-ALL of it-and the economy stopped working for everyone else.
The trickle-down experiment that began in the Reagan years failed America’s middle class. Sure, the rich are doing great. Giant corporations are doing great. Lobbyists are doing great. But we need an economy where everyone else who works hard gets a shot at doing great!
The world has changed beneath the feet of America’s working families. Powerful forces like globalization and technology are creating seismic shifts that are disrupting our economy, altering employment patterns, and putting new stresses on old structures. Those changes could create new opportunities-or they could sweep away the last vestiges of economic security for 90% of American workers. Those changes demand new and different economic policies from our federal government. But too many politicians have looked the other way. Instead of running government to expand opportunity for 90% of Americans and to shore up security in an increasingly uncertain world, instead of re-thinking economic policy to deal with tough new realities, for more than 30 years, Washington has far too often advanced policies that hammer America’s middle class even harder.
Look at the choices Washington has made, the choices that have left America’s middle class in a deep hole:
the choice to leash up the financial cops,
the choice in a recession to bail out the biggest banks with no strings attached while families suffered,
the choice to starve our schools and burden our kids with billions of dollars of student loan debt while cutting taxes for billionaires,
the choice to spend your tax dollars to subsidize Big Oil instead of putting that money into rebuilding our roads and bridges and power grids,
the choice to look the other way when employers quit paying overtime, reclassified workers as independent contractors and just plain old stole people’s wages,
the choice to sign trade pacts and tax deals that let subsidized manufacturers around the globe sell here in America while good American jobs get shipped overseas.
For more than thirty years, too many politicians in Washington have made deliberate choices that favored those with money and power. And the consequence is that instead of an economy that works well for everyone, America now has an economy that works well for about 10% of the people.
It wasn’t always this way, and it doesn’t have to be this way. We can make new choices – different choices – choices that put working people first, choices that aim toward a better future for our children, choices that reflect our deepest values as Americans.
One way to make change is to talk honestly and directly about work, about how we value the work that people do every day. We need to talk about what we believe:
We believe that no one should work full time and still live in poverty – and that means raising the minimum wage.
We believe workers have a right to come together, to bargain together and to rebuild America’s middle class.
We believe in enforcing labor laws, so that workers get overtime pay and pensions that are fully funded.
We believe in equal pay for equal work.
We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.
We also need a hard conversation about how we create jobs here in America. We need to talk about how to build a future. So let’s say what we believe:
We believe in making investments – in roads and bridges and power grids, in education, in research – investments that create good jobs in the short run and help us build new opportunities over the long run.
And we believe in paying for them-not with magical accounting scams that pretend to cut taxes and raise revenue, but with real, honest-to-goodness changes that make sure that we pay-and corporations pay-a fair share to build a future for all of us.
We believe in trade policies and tax codes that will strengthen our economy, raise our living standards, and create American jobs – and we will never give up on those three words: Made in America.
And one more point. If we’re ever going to un-rig the system, then we need to make some important political changes. And here’s where we start:
We know that democracy doesn’t work when congressmen and regulators bow down to Wall Street’s political power – and that means it’s time to break up the Wall Street banks and remind politicians that they don’t work for the big banks, they work for US!
Changes like this aren’t easy. But we know they are possible. We know they are possible because we have seen David beat Goliath before. We have seen lobbyists lose. We’ve seen it all through our history. We saw it when we created the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, when we passed health care reform. We saw it when President Obama took important steps to try and reform our immigration system through executive order just weeks ago. Change is difficult, but it is possible.
This is personal for me. When I was 12, my big brothers were all off in the military. My mother was 50 years old, a stay at home mom. My daddy had a heart attack, and it turned our little family upside down. The bills piled up. We lost the family station wagon, and we nearly lost our home. I remember the day my mother, scared to death and crying the whole time, pulled her best dress out of the closet, put on her high heels and walked to the Sears to get a minimum wage job. Unlike today, a minimum wage job back then paid enough to support a family of three. That minimum wage job saved our home-and saved our family.
My daddy ended up as a maintenance man, and my mom kept working at Sears. I made it through a commuter college that cost $50 a semester and I ended up in the United States Senate. Sure, I worked hard, but I grew up in an America that invested in kids like me, an America that built opportunities for kids to compete in a changing world, an America where a janitor’s kid could become a United States Senator. I believe in that America.
I believe in an America that builds opportunities. An America that ensures that all hardworking men and women earn good wages. An America that once again grows a strong, vibrant middle class.
I believe in that America, and I will fight for that America! And if we fight-side-by-side-I know we will build that America again.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)
SundayReview | Op-Ed Columnis, at The New York Times
Smart Guns Save Lives. So Where Are They?
January 17, 2015 by Nichoals Kristof
BOULDER, Colo. — JUST after Christmas, Veronica Rutledge of Blackfoot, Idaho, took her 2-year-old son to a Walmart store to spend holiday gift cards. As they strolled by the electronics section, according to news reports, the toddler reached into his mom’s purse and pulled out a handgun that she legally carried. He pulled the trigger once and killed her.
The previous month, a 3-year-old boy in Washington State was shot in the face by a 4-year-old. Earlier, a 2-year-old boy in Pennsylvania shot and killed his 11-year-old sister.
About 20 children and teenagers are shot daily in the United States, according to a study by the journal Pediatrics.
Indeed, guns kill more preschool-age children (about 80 a year) than police officers (about 50), according to the F.B.I. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This toll is utterly unnecessary, for the technology to make childproof guns goes back more than a century.
Beginning in the 1880s, Smith & Wesson (whose gun was used in the Walmart killing) actually sold childproof handguns that required a lever to be depressed as the trigger was pulled.
“No ordinary child under 8 years of age can possibly discharge it,” Smith & Wesson boasted at the time, and it sold half-a-million of these guns, but, today, it no longer offers that childproof option.
Doesn’t it seem odd that your cellphone can be set up to require a PIN or a fingerprint, but there’s no such option for a gun?
Which brings us to Kai Kloepfer, a lanky 17-year-old high school senior in Boulder, Colo. After the cinema shooting in nearby Aurora, Kloepfer decided that for a science fair project he would engineer a “smart gun” that could be fired only by an authorized user.
“I started with iris recognition, and that seemed a good idea until you realize that many people firing guns wear sunglasses,” Kloepfer recalls. “So I moved on to fingerprints.”
Kloepfer designed a smart handgun that fires only when a finger it recognizes is on the grip. More than 1,000 fingerprints can be authorized per gun, and Kloepfer says the sensor is 99.999 percent accurate.
A child can’t fire the gun. Neither can a thief — important here in a country in which more than 150,000 guns are stolen annually.
Kloepfer’s design won a grand prize in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Then he won a $50,000 grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation to refine the technology. By the time he enters college in the fall (he applied early to Stanford and has been deferred), he hopes to be ready to license the technology to a manufacturer.
There are other approaches to smart guns. The best known, the Armatix iP1, made by a German company and available in the United States through a complicated online procedure, can be fired only if the shooter is wearing a companion wristwatch.
The National Rifle Association seems set against smart guns, apparently fearing that they might become mandatory.
One problem has been an unfortunate 2002 New Jersey law stipulating that three years after smart guns are available anywhere in the United States, only smart guns can be sold in the state. The attorney general’s office there ruled recently that the Armatix smart gun would not trigger the law, but the provision has still led gun enthusiasts to bully dealers to keep smart guns off the market everywhere in the U.S.
Opponents of smart guns say that they aren’t fully reliable. Some, including Kloepfer’s, will need batteries to be recharged once a year or so. Still, if Veronica Rutledge had had one in her purse in that Idaho Walmart, her son wouldn’t have been able to shoot and kill her.
“Smart guns are going to save lives,” says Stephen Teret, a gun expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “They’re not going to save all lives, but why wouldn’t we want to make guns as safe a consumer product as possible?”
David Hemenway, a public health expert at Harvard, says that the way forward is for police departments or the military to buy smart guns, creating a market and proving they work.
An interfaith group of religious leaders is also appealing to gun industry leaders, ahead of the huge annual trade show in Las Vegas with 65,000 attendees, to drop opposition to smart guns.
Smart guns aren’t a panacea. But when even a 17-year-old kid can come up with a safer gun, why should the gun lobby be so hostile to the option of purchasing one?
Something is amiss when we protect our children from toys that they might swallow, but not from firearms. So Veronica Rutledge is dead, and her son will grow up with the knowledge that he killed her — and we all bear some responsibility when we don’t even try to reduce the carnage.
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