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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.”

All best,

Michael Vachon

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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.

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

U.S.
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.

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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…

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Some of the comments:

Ben
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…

Patrick
12 hours ago

Just two thoughts on the subject of leasing Americans land to private industry………The excuse of making us energy independent means,…
westvillage
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…

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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?

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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.

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

from: Martin Indyk
please reply to:  foreign_policy at brookings.edu

Subject: Brookings Search for a New Energy Security and Climate Initiative Director

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION – FOREIGN POLICY
 www.brookings.edu/about/employmen….

Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.

Best Regards,

Martin Indyk
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution

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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.

———–

SOME COMMENTS:

+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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

———————–

Some Comments:

serban
14 minutes ago

A smart gun goes against everything the NRA stands for, mainly ensuring that even a 2 year old should be able to fire a gun. How else is…

Katie 1
28 minutes ago

Why would this not be refined and immediately endorsed by everyone with effect as soon as possible? After the spate of mass killings and…
tom
32 minutes ago

We have, in this country, long ago accepted the premise that a line in the constitution makes the unhindered proliferation of weaponry a must.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The killings – at the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris – execution style – were done by three hooded individuals – two of them brothers.


BREAKING NEWS: French police have published the names and photographs of two suspects wanted in Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

In a statement posted on its website, French national police ask for information on the whereabouts of two suspects: They are brothers – Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi, warning that both are potentially armed and dangerous.

The gunmen who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris asked for people by name before killing them, according to a doctor who helped the wounded and spoke with survivors.

Dr. Gerald Kierzek said the gunmen divided the men from the women before opening fire. The shooting was not a random spray of bullets, he said, but more of a precision execution.

A dozen people died in the attack. Authorities are searching for the three suspects.

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

AIC (The American Iranian Council) Statement on the Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attack:

On Wednesday, January 7, 2015, three heavily armed men staged a sophisticated attack on the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. The paper is known for its provocative content on Islam, including satirical depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, something the religion prohibits. The attack was almost certainly a response to this content, as assailants were heard screaming “We have avenged the prophet,” and “Allahu Akbar.”

Speaking live on television, French President Francois Hollande said it was “a terrorist attack without a doubt.” All indications point toward an act of terrorism indeed. While it is not yet certain which individuals or group(s) are responsible for the attack, police officials named three suspects, and the Associated Press quoted one official who said they were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network. Al Qaeda is most active in Yemen.

The American Iranian Council stands with the French people, stands up for the rights and protections of free speech, and unequivocally condemns the gruesome violence conducted in the name of Islam. This horrific and sad event is another reminder that the entire civilized world needs to work together to stem the tide of radical Islamist violence wherever it exists.

At times like this tragic moment, it is particularly crucial that we remind ourselves that there is nothing more urgent in today’s chaotic world than the task of promoting better international understanding, dialogue and mutual respect towards world peace and development. The AIC is proud to have pioneered such a task in US-Iran relations and sustained it for over 25 years.

We continue to believe that the US and Iran face common enemies in terrorism, from Al Qaeda and the Taliban to ISIS and other similar groups, and must work together to eradicate it. Wednesday’s tragic event is yet another reminder of the need for these two countries to think more strategically about the imperative of reaching a mutually gainful deal on the Iranian nuclear dispute towards better relations.

-The American Iranian Council

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

As Reported by a US Press Release:
Security Council Press Statement on terrorist attack on French newspaper

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack against the headquarters of French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, France, on 7 January 2015, causing numerous deaths among journalists, media professionals and associated personnel as well as of two policemen.

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned this intolerable terrorist act targeting journalists and a newspaper.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Government of France.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.

7 January

###

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


Jeremy Rifkin, Author of The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Joined BK Yoon, President of Samsung Electronics, on stage during Mr. Yoon’s Opening Keynote Address on the Future of the Internet of Things at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas

Mr. Rifkin Described how the Internet of Things Digital Revolution transforms Consumer Electronics into “Prosumer Electronics,” Allowing Billions of People to Actively Produce, Consume, and Share Economic and Social Activity with one another via their Connected Devices

LAS VEGAS – January 5, 2015 – Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Zero Marginal Cost Society, joined BK Yoon, President of Samsung Electronics, on stage during Mr. Yoon’s opening keynote address on the future of the Internet of Things at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Mr. Rifkin described how the Internet of Things digital revolution transforms consumer electronics into “prosumer electronics,” allowing billions of people to actively produce, consume, and share economic and social activity with one another via their connected devices.

Mr. Rifkin observed that “every great economic paradigm shift in history brings together three new technologies in a seamless new infrastructure that changes the way we organize our economic life: new communication technologies to more efficiently manage economic activity; new sources of energy to more efficiently power economic activity; and new modes of transportation to more efficiently move economic activity.”

“Today,” said Mr. Rifkin, “we are embarking on a Third Industrial Revolution. The communication Internet is converging with a nascent renewable Energy Internet, and a fledgling Transportation and Logistics Internet, to create a super-Internet of Things.”


In the Internet of Things era, sensors will be embedded into every device and appliance, allowing them to communicate with each other and Internet users, creating an intelligent technology infrastructure for a smart world.


Mr. Rifkin pointed out that “homeowners and businesses will be able to produce and consume their own solar and wind green electricity and store and sell any surplus electricity back to the electricity grid.”

Mr. Rifkin went on to explain how “the automated Transportation and Logistics Internet will ease mobility by allowing people to use their mobile devices to share electric and fuel cell vehicles, monitor traffic flows, and, in the near future, enjoy driverless transportation on smart roads.”

This new era of super-connectivity will allow us to effortlessly manage our devices and appliances with solutions that will increase efficiencies and dramatically reduce the fixed and marginal costs of operating our homes, businesses, and vehicles.

According to Mr. Rifkin, “the Internet of Things platform will enhance virtually every aspect of our lives, from monitoring our health to improving our athletic skills, marking a vast improvement in our quality of life.”

“Most importantly,” said Mr. Rifkin, “the Internet of Things will also enable each of us to minimize our use of the Earth’s energy and material resources and usher in a more ecologically sustainable society.”

Mr. Rifkin added that “the Internet of Things brings with it new challenges, including the need to maintain an open network, ensure universal access, protect personal privacy, and guarantee data security.”


Finally, Mr. Rifkin concluded with the observation that “the Internet of Things will bring the human race together as a single extended human family for the first time in history… allowing us to share our commercial and social lives in ways never before imaginable.”

“We are,” says Rifkin, “on the cusp of a great economic transformation. The rise of the Internet of Things is going to improve the lives of billions of people and create a more efficient, democratic, and sustainable future.”

CONTACT:
Shawn Moorhead
The Office of Jeremy Rifkin
+1-301-656-6272
 shawn at foet.org

###

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

“World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation”, Manchester, UK, 2-4 September 2015: deadline for abstracts extended.

Preparations for the “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation” (WSCCA), to be held Manchester, UK, on
2-4 September 2015, are in full swing. Over 200 abstracts from across the world have been received, and further abstracts are
now being accepted until the 30th January 2015.

Organised by Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), WSCCA entails cooperation with world´s leading climate organisations, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), World Health Organisation (WHO) the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Council of Local Environment Initiatives (ICLE), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Developmentof (ICIMOD), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP), the United Nations University initiative “Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development” (RCE), and other agencies. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, covering some of the key areas in the field of climate change adaptation.

A set of presentations, divided into six main themes will be organised, distributed over parallel sessions dealing with some of the key issues of strategic value in the field of climate change adaptation. These are:

Session 1: Technological approaches to Climate Change Adaptation
Session 2: Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Communities, Cities, Countries and via Outreach Programmes
Session 3: Funding mechanisms and financing of Climate Change Adaptation
Session 4: Climate Change Adaptation, Resilience and Hazards (including floods)
Session 5: Information, Communication, Education and Training on Climate Change
Session 6: Climate Change and Health

The organisers also welcome suggestions of special sessions, and so far special sessions on “Climate Change in the Artic” and “Climate Change Governance” and others, have been received.

To secure the highest possible quality, all papers are subject to peer-review. Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management
 www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/pr…

(fully indexed) or at the book “Innovative Approaches to Implement Climate Change Adaptation”.

This will be a further volume of the award-winning book series “Climate Change Management”
published by Springer, which since its creation in 2008 has become the world´s leading book series
on climate change management.

The Symposium will be of special interest to researchers, government agencies, NGOs and companies engaged in the field of climate change adaptation, as well as development and aid agencies funding climate change adaptation process in developing countries. The deadline for abstracts is 30th January 2015. Full papers are due by 30th March 2015.

Further details can be seen at: www.haw-hamburg.de/en/wscca-2015….

###

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

In New York City – a Window of the US at the Start of 2015


The Mayor and the Police – By David Remnick, The New Yorker,

re-posted from readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

04 January 2014

In 1960, James Baldwin, the American Orwell, wrote “Fifth Avenue, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem,” an essay that portrayed the ugly dynamic between white police officers and young black men in the neighborhood where he grew up:

Rare, indeed, is the Harlem citizen, from the most circumspect church member to the most shiftless adolescent, who does not have a long tale to tell of police incompetence, injustice, or brutality. I myself have witnessed and endured it more than once. . . . It is hard, on the other hand, to blame the policeman, blank, good-natured, thoughtless, and insuperably innocent, for being such a perfect representative of the people he serves. He, too, believes in good intentions and is astounded and offended when they are not taken for the deed. He has never, himself, done anything for which to be hated––which of us has?––and yet he is facing, daily and nightly, people who would gladly see him dead, and he knows it. There is no way for him not to know it: there are few things under heaven more unnerving than the silent, accumulating contempt and hatred of a people.

To contemporary readers, such a passage may seem a relic of a harsh past. Baldwin’s essay predates so many advances, including the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. The New York Police Department’s rank and file is no longer majority white. Crime rates are lower than they have been in decades. An African-American was elected President in 2008 and appointed an African-American to be the chief law-enforcement official in the land. American audiences go to see “Selma,” get teary-eyed, and think how far we’ve come. The temptation is to suppose that Baldwin has long since lost all relevance. Why, then, does the President gently remind us that if he had a son he’d look like Trayvon Martin? And why does the Attorney General say we are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to the discussion of race?

On January 3rd, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, an N.Y.P.D. officer, on any charge related to the homicide-by-asphyxiation, in July, of an African-American man named Eric Garner. New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, commented on the grand jury’s decision. He spoke with unapologetic honesty about the failure of the judicial system. He anticipated, and tacitly endorsed, peaceful protest, “the only thing that has ever worked” to advance social justice in America. And he spoke personally, saying that he and his wife, Chirlane, have had “the talk” with their son, Dante, about “the dangers he may face” on the street as a young man of color:

I’ve had to worry over the years, Chirlane’s had to worry. Is Dante safe each night? There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities—crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods—but are they safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors?

De Blasio then echoed one of the most resonant lines heard since the protests began last summer in Ferguson, Missouri. “It’s a phrase that should never have to be said,” he insisted. “It should be self-evident. But our history, sadly, requires us to say that black lives matter.”

The demonstrations that followed were almost entirely peaceful. There were instances of protesters shouting despicable slogans, but those instances were isolated and rare. Most police officers showed no more disrespect to de Blasio and the protesters than de Blasio and the protesters had shown to them. The truth is that both protest and argument, conducted peacefully and with decency, can have the effect of easing the long-running tension between the police and the policed and bringing about the kind of change that is needed. The “techniques” that killed Eric Garner demand reform, and so does a system in which it is nearly impossible to bring a police officer to trial.

And yet some police groups, including the leadership of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, charged that the Mayor was fanning anti-police sentiment. Then came the assassination, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, of two N.Y.P.D. officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, by a young man who had just shot his ex-girlfriend. That horrendous event devastated New Yorkers, particularly police officers, who daily put their lives at risk in the name of public safety. It also brought the simmering resentment among some police leaders to a boil of accusatory rhetoric. Patrick Lynch, the head of the P.B.A., who has waged battles over contracts and other issues with previous mayors, used the killings as a political cudgel. The Mayor, he said, had blood on his hands. Michael Goodwin, a columnist for the Post, was among those who had amplified the case for blaming de Blasio; the Mayor, he wrote, had thrown “gasoline on the fire by painting the entire force as a bunch of white racist brutes.”

As a way to cool tensions, de Blasio asked that there be a halt to protests, at least until after the officers’ funerals. The most flagrant refusal to do so came at the funeral of Rafael Ramos, when hundreds of police officers in attendance, following Lynch’s lead, turned their backs as the Mayor delivered a eulogy. An occasion of mourning had been hijacked. The police commissioner, William Bratton, was diplomatic, calling the gesture “inappropriate.” It was worse than that. It was an act of profound disrespect not only to de Blasio but also to the Ramos family members, who were there to grieve, not to witness a petulant display of resentment.

At his press conference, de Blasio had referred to a history that preceded the death of Eric Garner and charged it with meaning. The story of civil rights is not an event that ends with a triumphal arrival at a Southern statehouse. Two generations after Selma, the Supreme Court has started to roll back voting rights. Two generations after Selma, one out of three black males born in America today will, if present trends continue, see the inside of a prison cell.

“One day, to everyone’s astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up,” Baldwin wrote. “Before the dust has settled or the blood congealed, editorials, speeches, and civil-rights commissions are loud in the land, demanding to know what happened. What happened is that Negroes want to be treated like men.” Some of the language is of its time, but the demand is just and everlasting.

Comments posted by RSN:

+54 # DaveM 2015-01-04 12:51
This begs a larger question which, alas, cannot be answered by homilies about racism or classism or any “ism” that I know of. That question is: who is in charge here? The people of the United States and their elected representatives , or the police?

+18 # Walter J Smith 2015-01-04 14:20
Nobody if not you. And me.

Remember that question being asked in the movie, Apocalypse Now?

The answer hasn’t changed.

As one CEO long ago said about the Pentagon, on their resume’s every general and admiral at the Pentagon runs the whole bureaucratic empire. Until you ask them a simple question. Then you immediately discover no one there knows anything about anything.

The same is true in the US Deartment of Veterans Affairs. I am now, as I have been since August, attempting to get the VA to give me the eye surgery their own doctors agree I need. Yet, the VA just keeps sending me for more appointments to have my eyes examined to determine if I need cataract surgery. And no one knows why. No one knows who makes the appointments. No one knows what can be done about it. No one knows who can schedule my cataract surgery. No one is responsible for anything. Except on their resumes. Where everyone of them is responsible for everything.

That is exactly as our bipartisan neo-American Congress & our Administrations & our Judiciary wishes things to be.
Throughout the entire empire.

+19 # Art947 2015-01-04 15:31
An America’s corporate CEOs say that they deserve high compensation for creating the companies that they lead while telling us that they know nothing when something goes terribly wrong!

Tell me which banker, hedge fund manager, corporate raider, etc. deserves the big bucks that they are paid when each has a hand in destroying the lives of average Americans? Are you listening, Mr. Romney? Mr. Dimon?

+9 # brux 2015-01-04 12:58
>> And why does the Attorney General say we are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to the discussion of race?

That’s a good quote, and true, but the meaning and point is very fuzzy.

Both sides here have valid arguments, and the conversations that arise around race simple cannot go anywhere.

If I simple express my opinions on it, not in a mean or racists way, I get branded a racists for not agreeing with the mobs of folks for example that tore up Ferguson, MO.’

If I do not exactly agree with sentiments such as put the cops on trial or shoot them I just get vitriolic hatred for it, despite the fact that I feel very bad for the negative experiences black people I have known have experienced and do empathize with them.

Having been sort of hippie-like in my youth I am familiar with being targeted or confronted with an attitude from the way I look. Driving through the South one time with my California license plate and needing a haircut I was almost involved in a fight was the redneck barbers kicked me out of their shop hair half cut.

I know the bad side of human nature, and the problem with discussing it is that people cannot get past their own experiences and need to vent about them instead of trying to come to a reasonable compromise about what is fair and just and how to enforce it.

0 # economagic 2015-01-04 21:23
Brux,

What have you done, beyond “feel very bad for them,” to change the institutional racism that Mr. Remnick, Mr. Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, and myriad others have written about for more than a century and a half? Are you even aware that institutional racism exists in this country?

How long? How many times? Yet the Supreme Court scales back the protections of the Voting Rights Act even as the Republican Party rams laws through state legislatures to restrict voting that in ways affect blacks disproportionately, on the basis of fraudulent “research” claiming voter fraud.

I was more than “sort of hippie-like” in my youth, and was also an activist who witnessed that racism up close. It was a lot different from what I experienced as a white hippie.

I have a friend who is smart and well intentioned, a really decent and generous guy. Yet he sends me emails with the most blatant, ugly racism this side of the Ku Klux Klan. It has not been that long since the Klan owned a little town near here that hosted some of the CIA “torture taxis.” As best I can tell my friend supports that too, but only for “terrorists.” He refuses to define that term, but clearly he means “them,” “the others,” “people not like us.”

He would be most indignant if I confronted him with his racism. He is a closet racist, in the closet only to himself and others who cannot take an honest look at their own hearts, or honestly say, “There but for the Grace of God (for being born white) go I.”


+27 # Shorey13 2015-01-04 13:26
I still think the problem is inadequate vetting of applicants for the job of policeman. One coward with a badge and a gun is all it takes to create social chaos, and to confirm the worst fears of the black community.
Please remember that after the police riots in Chicago in 1968 during the Democratic Convention, psychologists who were hired by the city to evaluate the department found that 85% (!!!) were psychologically unsuited for the job.
While it may no longer be 85%, as noted above, even one bad apple ruins the barrel.
Lastly, like firemen, doctors and many other professionals, police often close ranks and defend their indefensible colleagues.

+17 # Art947 2015-01-04 15:36
The “The Blue Line” subscribes to a code of silence when it comes to the actions of its members. As a consequence, when one of them does wrong, then as they are aiding and abetting the action, they have all done wrong. Until members of every police force decide that the code of silence will no longer prevail, then they will all be painted, and tainted, by the sins of their colleagues. BTW, one only needs to remember Frank Serpico and the evils that he suffered for trying to tell the truth about the NYPD.

+23 # wrknight 2015-01-04 13:56
“And why does the Attorney General say we are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to the discussion of race?”

And speaking of a nation of cowards, what about those attorney generals who are afraid of Wall Street bankers?

+20 # progressiveguy 2015-01-04 14:10
Someone should tell the good cops that they are not under attack by protesters or liberals or the mayor. The institutional racism of police forces in general and NYC in particular is and should be under attack. When the good cops condone the abuse of the bad cops then they are part of the problem. Cops that use unnecessary force must be separated from police forces.

+27 # angelfish 2015-01-04 14:36
When you have Police like the ones in New York who act like children by turning their backs on the Mayor rather than sitting down to TALK about the bad apples in their barrel, the REAL problems will never be solved. I know that MOST cops are good, decent people, however, they shield and protect the psychopaths that have NO business wearing the uniform! ALL professions have bad apples, the Police are not alone in this, but until they actively work at policing THEMSELVES, we will remain at an impasse. Police work is inherently dangerous but NO ONE deserves to die because they LOOK suspicious. Blacks, Latinos and other ethnic people are no more likely than their white peers to be guilty, yet it is THEY who suffer the indignities of being stopped, harassed and, in many cases shot dead! WHEN does it ever stop?


+5 # Art947 2015-01-04 15:41
There was interesting commentary by Linda Stasi in today’s (1/4/15) Daily News concerning the battles between the NYPD and NY’s mayors. Even mayor, including that paragon of despicability, Rudolf Giuilani, Bloomberg, Lindsay, Dinkens, etc., has been treated to shows of disrespect by the leaders and membership of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. It is only because the strident voices of the corporate news media have amplified this conflict that it has become such a national travesty.

+4 # lfeuille 2015-01-04 19:40
Quoting Art947:

There was interesting commentary by Linda Stasi in today’s (1/4/15) Daily News concerning the battles between the NYPD and NY’s mayors. Even mayor, including that paragon of despicability, Rudolf Giuilani, Bloomberg, Lindsay, Dinkens, etc., has been treated to shows of disrespect bu the leaders and membership of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. It is only because the strident voices of the corporate news media have amplified this conflict that it has become such a national travesty.

It is only because the national media, for whatever reason, has finally decided to pay attention to the problem that many people are even aware of it. You can’t fix what you don’t know about. It was happening even when the press wasn’t looking.

+12 # fredboy 2015-01-04 16:52
NY cops best wise up to recognize that their actions and attitudes support the unlawful police gang murder of an unarmed man who was breaking no law, not police excellence.

If I were the mayor I would clean house, starting at the top.

Their actions and attitudes are prompting citizens across the land to police the police–that’s how bad things are out there.

0 # leftcoast 2015-01-04 17:23
Walterj – what actually is your beef? Or is it that you just
don’t get the cartoons?

0 # corals33 2015-01-04 18:20
CORRECTION: No African-American was (s)elected as president in 2008.This man’s mother is and always was WHITE. Lest we forget.
The polioe and the prison guards should be investigated “Mcarthy style” for their membership of “secret organizations” before anything else. Start at the beginning folks instead of always looking (deliberately) at every other angle.

+3 # greenbacker 2015-01-04 22:02
[quote name="corals33" ]“CORRECTION: No African-America n was (s)elected as president in 2008.This man’s mother is and always was WHITE. Lest we forget.”

So let me get this straight. President Obama’s father was African, his mother was American. But he is not “African-American?” Am I missing something? “WHITE” is not (or should not be) synonymous with “American,” but for too many people it is, even if subconsciously. This is a huge part of the problem when it comes to discussing race in America. The fact of the matter is that a large portion, if not a majority, of Blacks born in America have some European as well as African ancestry. Henry Louis Gates (remember the “beer summit” after Gates’ encounter with police in his own house?) has a whole series on PBS dealing with this subject. In fact, in one episode it was revealed through DNA testing that the rapper Nas has Scandinavian/Viking ancestry. So, yes, an African-American was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. No correction necessary. And if Obama was not President of the US, and his story so well known, and you saw him walking down the street, you would not identify him as a half-white guy, you would see him as a Black man.

0 # Rockster 2015-01-04 18:34
I totally agree with corals:33 re the prison guards and police as to their “secret fraternal orgs” but why say it with. @McCarthyism thrown in. And I’m curious what is the standard amount of blackness to qualify?

-3 # perkinsej 2015-01-04 19:00
The solution to all these problems is linked not just to gun control but to total gun abandonment. Last of the “liberal” program that requires attention and eventually enactment.

+1 # jstick 2015-01-04 20:27
Shorey13 says the issue is “adequate vetting of applicants for the job of policeman.” Correct. How many of these officers who commit homicide on the job are veterans back from Iraq and Afghanistan? Remember, over there they were trained to suspect and kill civilians. Same as in Vietnam. Prior to that the enemy wore uniforms.
They are merely doing what they were trained to do.

+1 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-01-04 21:10
Wake up America.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A Godless Jewish Humanist.
who forced into migration from Nazi Germany – developed several lives and had achievements in many different areas – we would prefer mention by citing the title of one of his many books – “THE SANE SOCIETY” (1965) by the man who helped suggest to us Nuclear Disarmament, Amnesty International, and a pure humanistic art of loving.

Sunday, January 4, 2015 The review by Dinah M. Mendes of Tikkun – of a book about Erich Fromm – by Lawrence J. Friedman, assisted by Anke M. Schreiber, Columbia University Press, 2014

Even before opening Lawrence J. Friedman’s biography, “The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet,” readers are alerted by its title to the enormousness of the task of conveying the range and reach of this once celebrated intellectual. Erich Fromm was a Heidelberg University-trained sociologist, a psychoanalyst who helped found and direct psychoanalytic institutes in the United States and Mexico, author of more than a dozen books—many of them best sellers—a social commentator, and a political activist who promoted worldwide socialist humanism and nuclear disarmament. For college students and the educated reading public from the mid 1940s through the late ’60s, Escape from Freedom (1941), The Sane Society (1955), and The Art of Loving (1956) were often their first introduction to psychoanalytic, Marxist, and sociological constructs that Fromm incorporated and popularized in his reader-friendly prose.

The Lives of Erich Fromm is a virtual encyclopedia of Fromm data, with an impressively broad sweep that illuminates a cultural atmosphere and zeitgeist very different from our own more specialized and compartmentalized era. Perhaps the book’s greatest appeal is Friedman’s evocation of the historical, cultural, and political milieus that are the context of this scholarly biography, ranging from the Free Jewish Teaching Institute (Lehrhaus) in Frankfurt, to the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research; from the therapeuticum (the experimental sanatorium founded in 1923 in Heidelberg by Fromm and his first wife, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann that melded psychoanalytic treatment with Orthodox Jewish communal living); to the culture and personality movement in New York that joined prominent neo-Freudians—Fromm, Harry Stack Sullivan, Clara Thompson, and Karen Horney—with eminent anthropologists, such as Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Edward Sapir; to the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and Amnesty International that Fromm helped to launch and fund.

The Public Versus the Private Lives of Erich Fromm

At the same time, Friedman traces the various, often parallel trajectories of Fromm’s life: his educational course, vocational development, emigration, institutional affiliations, significant relationships, and his steady output of books—for each of which he offers a detailed summary and statistics about sales and translations.

Friedman unfolds the public lives of Erich Fromm the social critic, political activist, and global educator with great vividness, but he is less successful at bringing to life the private Erich Fromm, whose inner life remains largely obscured beneath the evidence of his amazing productivity and range. While this might be regarded as a deficit in any comprehensive biography (and Friedman’s stated intention is to supplement previous Fromm biographies by elucidating the influence of his personal life on his intellectual contributions), it is especially striking in the biography of a man who defined himself as a psychoanalyst. Although the book is sprinkled with tart observations about Fromm—and even criticisms about the unabashed self-referential basis of his later writings or his “unethical trysts” with female patients—under Friedman’s hand they never quite coalesce into a satisfactory psycho-biographical portrait. In one notable example, he observes:

For much of his life, Fromm responded to disappointments and adversities … [by] jumping from one location to another, quitting one professional association and joining or creating another, altering his conceptual and clinical approaches, and switching from one intimate friendship or bed partner to another.

This is heavy-duty stuff, seemingly ripe for analysis and interpretation, but in the very next sentence, Friedman reverses direction, foreclosing deeper exploration and turning weakness into asset: “There was a pertinacity here. Fromm would rarely allow a difficult situation to immobilize him,” he concludes summarily.

Friedman’s myopia, his tendency to justify and smooth over rough edges, is mirrored on a larger scale by his authorial stance in relation to his subject, regarding whom his undisguised admiration and identification seem to preclude more objective assessment and critique. At one point, he compares Fromm’s “narcissism” to Freud’s, noting, “both regarded themselves as founders of unique psychoanalytic ideas, institutions, and traditions.” The unqualified idealization expressed in the elevation of Fromm to Freud’s status highlights Friedman’s difficulty in consolidating a profile of a man with outsized talents and passions, as well as egregious shortcomings, and in producing a critical evaluation of Fromm’s intellectual contributions—his psychoanalytic and ethical humanism theories in particular.

Fromm was an avid student of great teachers and systems, beginning with the vast tradition of Jewish learning, and followed by Marxism and psychoanalysis. But it seems that his enthusiasm and valuation were matched by an equally strong need to reject essential components of every system, assimilate seemingly divergent concepts, and refashion them—often on a grand scale—into a new product of his own making.

Unanswered Questions

Fromm was a master of syncretism, and while Marxism and Freudianism remained the orienting poles of his professional identity, he combined them with the ethical foundation derived from the Hebrew Bible, with elements of Christianity and Buddhism added to the mix. Friedman lays out a detailed map of the stages of Fromm’s intellectual journey, but he does not provide the psychological scaffolding or insight that might illuminate the course that Fromm charted.

Why, for example, did he find it necessary to reject Freud’s instinctual basis of psychic development and substitute in its stead the construct of social character (drawn from a fusion of Freudian and Marxian tenets)? What made him throw out the baby with the bath water instead of extending Freud’s idea into the social realm? Much later in life, Fromm apparently softened his anti-instinctual bias, and his constructs “biophilia” and “necrophilia,” first cousins of the life and death instincts enshrined in Freud’s Eros and Thanatos, appear without explanation or commentary (The Heart of Man, 1964).

With even greater cogency, the reader might wonder about what impelled Fromm, raised as an Orthodox Jew and enamored of its culture of learning and spirituality, to strip his ethical humanism of the influence and authority of a deity and to insist that everything of value is inherent in man (Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, 1947)? Although Friedman frequently refers to the deficiency of Fromm’s parents as role models, Fromm’s childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood were filled with powerful and sustaining relationships with mentors.

Powerful Mentors

The precocious young Fromm began studying Talmud with his great-uncle Ludwig Krause, a Talmudic scholar, and as a teenager, came under the influence of Nehemia Nobel, rabbi of a prominent Frankfurt synagogue and student of the noted Kant scholar, Hermann Cohen, who had incorporated the universalism of Kant’s moral philosophy into Jewish religious tradition. The Nobel circle, which included Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem and Leo Baeck, was instrumental in setting up the Free Jewish Teaching Institute (Lehrhaus) dedicated to introducing enlightened but assimilated German Jews to the richness of their Jewish heritage.

At the University of Heidelberg, under the tutelage of the sociologist Alfred Weber, brother of Max, Fromm wrote his dissertation on the function of Jewish law in maintaining social cohesion and continuity in three Diaspora communities: the Karaites, Reform Jews, and Hasidim. During the same period, he also studied with Salman Rabinkow, a Russian socialist and Talmudist, whom Fromm later acknowledged as his most influential mentor. Rabinkow introduced Fromm, variously, to the Lithuanian approach to Talmud, the writings of Maimonides, and the Tanya (the central text of Chabad Hasidism)—as well as to Hasidic melodies that Fromm reportedly sang for the rest of his life.

Friedman skillfully records the gradual transformation of Erich Fromm, the Orthodox Jew, the Frankfurt Institute academic, and psychoanalytic clinician—all private roles—into Erich Fromm, the public intellectual, educator, and activist. Both the cloistered cubicles of academia, and the individual focus of psychoanalysis, respectively, must have felt too restrictive to Fromm, especially when compared to the far-reaching impact of a political or religious system or the delivery of a message with universal reverberations. With his arrival in New York in the mid-’30s, Fromm began writing in English and grew adept at rendering psychological-sociological-political concepts accessible to a broad readership. His two best-known works, Escape from Freedom, an exploration of the seduction of and submission to authority and the fear of freedom, and The Art of Loving (which in Germany is still outsold only by the Bible) sold in the millions.

An Iconoclastic Proponent of Secular Religiosity

Fromm’s passion for refashioning ideas into a mold bearing his individual stamp seems nowhere more evident than in his application of Jewish ethical precepts and learning: Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics (1947); You Shall Be as Gods: A Radical Interpretation of the Old Testament and Its Tradition (1966); and To Have or To Be? (1976). His erudition is often on full display: in You Shall Be as Gods, he frequently offers his own translation of the Hebrew when the original interpretation does not measure up to his standards, and his love for the richness of the ancient texts is palpable. This does not deter him, however, from taking a free hand—the “radical interpretation”— in reaching the light at the end of the tunnel: a Frommian nontheistic humanist ethics.

Fromm could be alternately creative, iconoclastic, and single-mindedly reinterpretive in reaching his goal; one of the opening stories in Genesis, the eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (the Fall, in Christian theology) is recast by Fromm as a salutary and emblematic act of disobedience that reveals the innate human potential for independence of mind and freedom.

In Fromm’s explication, Hebrew Bible idolatry was actually a demonstration of the triumph of the “having” mode over the “being” mode, a harbinger of Marx’s later emphasis on the corruption of capitalism and consumerism. The greed and acquisitiveness of the newly liberated Hebrews in the desert, unable to resist stockpiling manna that God had warned them would rot, is another illustration of both the having mode and the intolerance of freedom, as is the Jews’ insistence to the prophet Samuel, many generations later, that he appoint a flesh and blood king over them.

Fromm’s odyssey through the Hebrew Bible leads him to the prophets of messianic vision, who foretell a time of universal peace and co-existence when—in Fromm’s version—divisions between people and states will be eliminated, and a universal ethics, motivated by brotherly love and the joy of human productivity (a melding of Marx and Freud), will prevail. Ultimately, Fromm espouses a secular religiosity—a fervent devotion to ideals that emerge from self-cultivation that is not obstructed by recourse to God’s authority or external directives.

A New Ethical Humanism

Fromm’s attitude to authority was nothing if not vexed, and he had a visceral reaction to authority in any doctrinal form. In his critique of Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr ventured that Fromm confused duty with authority, and, it might be suggested, authority with authoritarianism. Fromm’s antipathy to authority sparked his acclaimed formulations on authoritarianism, but also colored his controversial negation of key tenets of Freudian theory and the concept of a real God who is accepted as an external authority. Fromm took issue with the concept of the Freudian superego as an internally regulating authority that derived originally from parental authority, just as he did with the linkage of ethical principles to the authority of an existing God. He rejected Freud’s concept of the death instinct and the aggressive drive, just as he did the darker image of human nature captured in the idea of yetzer hara—the innate human propensity for evil and destructiveness. Fromm’s humanism is adamantly anti-theistic, anti-authority, and optimistic, if not actually utopian.

Fromm’s attitude to Freud (whom he never met) was admiring but critical, as the title of his posthumously published work, Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought (1980) indicates. Freud referred to himself as a “godless Jew,” but his vehement opposition to religion stemmed from his conviction that it was based on infantile helplessness and dependency, and the false succor of illusions that it extended to its adherents. Fromm too might be described as a godless Jew, but one with an entirely different provenance and orientation. His quest was to free the cultivation of spirituality and ethics from their theistic, authoritative moorings in the Hebrew Bible and forge them—with elements of Hasidic mystical relatedness and themes from Marxism, Christianity, and Buddhism—into a new ethical humanism. A messianic mission, a desire to be a “light unto the nations” is discernible in the proselytizing, prophetic inflections of his late writings on ethical humanism. Freud, in his turn, might have identified in Fromm a tangled knot of Oedipal conflicts—the Freudian complex that signifies the generational struggle for power and authority, manifest in strife over the transmission or rejection of the old versus the new.

Fromm’s Legacy

Friedman is lavish with information about Fromm but leaves the final assessment of his contributions up to the reader. Fromm’s legacy resides neither in the innovation nor the profundity of his psychoanalytic and ethical concepts. Rather, his place in intellectual history is assured by his adaptation and popularization of ideas—mixing and matching across systems—which he introduced into the public domain via his accessible and best-selling books. Without him, many of Freud and Marx’s ideas—and he courageously upheld the value of Marx’s contributions at the height of the Cold War—might have remained sequestered in academic isolation.

Perhaps Fromm’s greatest gifts were as a social psychologist and critic; he had his finger on the social and cultural pulse, auguring trends that were still incubating or in the process of fomenting. In Escape from Freedom he wrote about the global threat and psychological appeal of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, even as they were advancing. In The Art of Loving, he differentiated between healthy self-love and selfishness, daring to suggest that self-love was not only healthy and desirable but a prerequisite for loving others—anticipating by many years the work of the psychoanalyst, Heinz Kohut. Assessing the threat of an engulfing consumerism, and the “having versus being modes,” he coined such enduring terms as “automaton conformity,” and the “marketing personality.”

Ultimately, it is impossible to pigeonhole Erich Fromm. He was a man of letters, and simultaneously a man of action, who used money earned from his books to support peace-promoting organizations. He was a psychoanalyst committed to the painstaking task of changing lives one by one, who sought at the same time to influence thousands and even millions of people with his ideas and prophetic exhortations. Prefiguring our contemporary immersion in global communication and veneration of celebrities, Fromm—­­­­­­a man of outsized passions and ambitions—was a public, celebrity intellectual and educator.

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

In North Dakota, a Tale of Oil, Corruption and Death
By DEBORAH SONTAG and BRENT McDONALD

Tex G. Hall, a tribal chief connected to the oil industry, has pushed profits on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. But charges of murder for hire against an associate and accusations of corruption have upended business as usual.

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FORT BERTHOLD INDIAN RESERVATION, N.D. — Tex G. Hall, the three-term tribal chairman on this remote, once impoverished reservation, was the very picture of confidence as he strode to the lectern at his third Annual Bakken Oil and Gas Expo and gazed out over a stuffed, backlit mountain lion.

Tall and imposing beneath his black cowboy hat, he faced an audience of political and industry leaders lured from far and wide to the “Texpo,” as some here called it. It was late April at the 4 Bears Casino, and the outsiders endorsed his strong advocacy for oil development and the way he framed it as mutually beneficial for the industry and the reservation: “sovereignty by the barrel.”

“M.H.A. Nation is No. 1 for tribal oil produced on American soil in the United States right now currently today,” Mr. Hall proudly declared, referring to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

An oil pad on North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Indian Reservation flares natural gas produced in the hydrofracturing process. Over a quarter of all natural gas produced in North Dakota is burned off this way.

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The Downside of the BoomNOV. 22, 2014
Where Oil and Politics MixNOV. 23, 2014
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But, in a hall decorated with rigs and tepees, a dice throw from the slot machines, Mr. Hall’s self-assurance belied the fact that his grip on power was slipping. After six years of dizzyingly rapid oil development, anxiety about the environmental and social costs of the boom, as well as about tribal mismanagement and oil-related corruption, had burst to the surface.
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Tex G. Hall at the Annual Bakken Oil and Gas Expo in April. He proudly advocated oil development on tribal land. Credit Brent McDonald/The New York Times

By that point, there were two murder cases — one person dead in Spokane, Wash., the other missing but presumed dead in North Dakota — tied to oil business on the reservation. And Mr. Hall, a once-seemingly untouchable leader, was under investigation by his tribal council because of his connections to an Oregon man who would later be charged with murder for hire in the two deaths.

In 2012, the man, James Henrikson, 35, who had five felony convictions in his past, operated a trucking company called Blackstone out of the tribal chairman’s garage. Blackstone worked primarily for the chairman’s own private oil field company, enjoying privileged access to business on the reservation as his subcontractor.

Blackstone also worked directly for the tribal government, earning $570,000 for a job watering road dust that was never put out to bid. Mr. Hall voted to approve the payment, but because he did not think he had any conflict of interest, he said, he never disclosed his business relationship to the company.

The relationship was personal, too: Mr. Henrikson and his wife vacationed in Hawaii with the tribal chairman and his family. Mr. Henrikson had an extramarital affair with, and impregnated, the now 21-year-old daughter of the chairman’s longtime girlfriend; Mr. Hall considers the baby his grandson.

In an interview last week, Mr. Hall said Mr. Henrikson was a “professional con” who had cemented their business deal when Mr. Hall was ill and distracted, bringing flowers and a contract to his hospital room to be signed. “I got ripped off and taken advantage of,” he said. “The people didn’t really know that when the news first broke.’’

In January, Mr. Hall’s link to Mr. Henrikson, Mr. Henrikson’s link to the murder case in Spokane, and the murder’s link to the reservation were revealed after the alleged hit man was arrested. The revelations jolted Fort Berthold into a tumultuous year of questioning and change.
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“That murder was the last straw,” said Marilyn Hudson, 78, a tribal elder and historian. “Now you have a murder, a hit man, and a five-time convicted felon operating as an oil contractor working directly with the chairman. It’s like our reservation got hijacked by the plot of a bad movie.”
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Left to right, Marilyn Hudson, Theodora Birdbear and Joletta Birdbear at the Three Tribes Museum. All three women became critics of Mr. Hall’s dealings with the oil industry. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

On the reservation, where identity is deeply connected to the land, conservationists have been more vocal than elsewhere in North Dakota, and they have denounced their leadership’s oversight of the oil industry for mirroring the state’s pro-business posture.

“The mentality comes from the state: less regulation, more profit,” said Joletta Birdbear, a former postmaster. “They’re only concerned about the immediate dollars and not about the long-term costs to our land and the future generations of our people.”

But if critics of North Dakota’s elected officials viewed them as too close to the oil industry, critics here had more pointed concerns. Their leader was part of the industry, seeking and getting contracts from oil companies that operated under his watch.

“I have no problem with the government making profit for the people, but when they make a profit for themselves and not the people, that’s another story, you know?” Ms. Hudson said.

Most of the 14,169 enrolled tribal members, about half of whom live on the reservation, do not receive significant oil royalties. The tribal government does, along with hundreds of millions in oil tax revenue, and many here appreciate the potential benefits for the reservation itself.

But so far, apart from a significant rise in jobs, which often go to transient workers, many see deterioration rather than improvement in their standard of living. They endure intense truck traffic, degraded roads, increased crime, strained services and the pollution from spills, flares and illegal dumping.

Deep-seated problems can be hard to fix — a life expectancy of 57, for instance, compared with 79 for North Dakotans as a whole. But its critics say the tribal government has invested little in social welfare, like desperately needed housing, and has distributed little of the $200 million set aside in the People’s Fund.
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Tribal members and veterans in a salute on Memorial Day this year. In the rear sits a 96-foot yacht considered by tribal members to be a symbol of their leaders’ misplaced spending priorities. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The government’s purchase of a 96-foot yacht named “Island Girl,” which mostly sits on blocks, became a symbol to many of their leaders’ misplaced priorities. All told, it cost about $2.5 million, a senior tribal official said.

“Our tribal council is so focused on money, money, money,” Edmund Baker, the reservation’s environmental director, said earlier this year. “And our tribal chairman is: ‘Edmund, don’t tell me about spills. I’m busy trying to do things for my people.’”
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Oil rigs and freshly graded roads near the Fort Berthold Reservation boundary. The reservation sits atop a particularly sweet spot of the Bakken shale formation. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
A Change of Fortune

The three affiliated tribes on Fort Berthold have seen their territorial lands shrivel over time to under a million acres. For decades, they struggled to recover from their forced relocation in the mid-20th century when their prime farmland was flooded to create the Lake Sakakawea reservoir for a new dam.
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By the first decade of the 21st century, however, the tribal government, deep in debt, experienced a sudden change of fortune. Fort Berthold found itself atop a particularly sweet spot of the Bakken shale formation. At least 1,370 wells have been drilled and hydraulically fractured, or fracked, here so far. They are pumping over 386,000 barrels of oil a day, a third of North Dakota’s output.
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More than 1,370 oil wells, shown here in yellow, have been drilled on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Credit The New York Times

In an interview at the expo last spring, Mr. Hall said that he saw fracking as the ticket to self-determination. “When oil was discovered, we were poor,” he said. “It’s hard to be sovereign on an empty stomach.”

Fifty-eight with a long, graying ponytail, Mr. Hall wore a beaded medallion with a red-tipped arrow, the Indian name he inherited from his father. Red-tipped, he said, “means you’re the first to draw blood.”

Steven A. Kelly, a former tribal lawyer under Mr. Hall and then his business competitor, said: “He’s an alpha male. If you had five male dogs on a line and you threw out six bones, Tex Hall’s going to try to get all six.”

Mr. Hall grew up on the reservation, on a cattle and buffalo ranch in Mandaree where he still lives. He said his parents told him when he was little that he would grow up to lead his tribe and that he bore “the weight of the people” on his shoulders. He left Fort Berthold for college, where he was a basketball star, and then graduate school, returning home to teach and eventually to lead the school district in Mandaree. Starting in 1998, he served two consecutive four-year terms as tribal chairman and rose to prominence as a national leader, too, twice elected president of the National Congress of American Indians.

He was “a very good advocate,” Mr. Kelly said. “I could never take that away from him.”

The boom arrived in Fort Berthold between Mr. Hall’s second and third terms. He started his company, Maheshu Energy, to broker leasing deals. Maheshu then morphed into a business offering services like well site construction, rig transport and trucking. Mr. Hall’s girlfriend, who has a retail clothing business called Sparkling Spur, became chief financial officer.

When Mr. Hall was re-elected tribal chairman in 2010, an ethics ordinance prohibited leaders from using their offices for private gain, but it did not explicitly bar them from owning oil-related companies. “It was entirely legal to have a business,” he said. “So I had a business.”

After the election, Maheshu began getting a greater share of contracts, said Damon Williams, the tribes’ supervising attorney. “It was good old boy stuff,” he said. “Obviously if you want to do business on a reservation, it’s best to deal with the chief.”

Mr. Kelly, in turn, found himself losing rig service contracts to the chairman. “My prices were better, we had the same mud engineers, so why do you think they used Tex instead of me?” he asked. “I wanted to make an issue of it, and I did.”

In spring 2011, Mr. Kelly addressed the seven-member tribal council. “I am here regretfully, on a matter that brings me against the chairman,” he said, explaining that he thought Mr. Hall was violating conflict-of-interest rules.
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Mr. Hall responded, “We’re not the ethics board here, Steve.”

Mr. Kelly asked him if he felt bound by the ethics code.

“There is none,” the chairman said.

Mr. Kelly waved a copy of the code.

“There is no ethics board,” the chairman said.

Indeed, the council had never created a board to enforce its code, and so members who sought to pursue complaints regularly confronted this Catch-22. Mr. Kelly urged the council to take up the issue itself.

“They wouldn’t,” he said, “and that’s one of the things that bothered me. Our council doesn’t hold one another accountable. And when you have that situation, basically you have a broken government.”
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An oil tanker truck and tanker train cars on the reservation. Wells there are pumping about 386,000 barrels of oil a day, a third of North Dakota’s output. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Forging a Link

By early 2011, James Henrikson had a string of marriages, failed businesses and arrests in several states behind him. In Oregon, he had been convicted on felony charges of theft, burglary, attempted assault and unlawful manufacture of marijuana. In Washington, he had filed for and been denied bankruptcy protection largely because he had tried to hide assets.

Newly released from jail, Mr. Henrikson set his sights on the booming Bakken, and specifically on the reservation. Still on probation, he registered Blackstone Building Group under the name of his girlfriend, Sarah Creveling, and persuaded investors to set them up with some trucks.

To gain priority access to oil contracts on Fort Berthold, Mr. Henrikson and Ms. Creveling, who are white, needed a native partner. Mr. Henrikson contacted Mr. Kelly, who agreed to a subcontracting deal.

Like others, Mr. Kelly was struck by the couple’s hustle, confidence and good looks. Rick Arey of Wyoming, who met them when they moved into his trailer park, described them as “Ken and Barbie, the prettiest people in North Dakota.”
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James Henrikson and Sarah Creveling, his wife and business partner. Mr. Henrikson came to the reservation with a string of marriages, failed businesses and arrests in several states behind him.

“He was ripped and she was the object of every man’s desire,” said Mr. Arey, who was also impressed by Mr. Henrikson’s high-end pickup truck with its “six-inch lift and 37-inch tires.”

In late 2011, Mr. Arey was recruited to work as a truck dispatcher for Mr. Henrickson and Ms. Creveling, who had married. Beyond the $1,500-a-week salary promised, he saw it as a chance to get in on something big.

“I was like, ‘You want to win, you got to hang out with winners,’?” he said. “No offense to any native contractors out there, because they do a good job, too, but when you take a hungry white boy, and you throw him on a reservation,” he is going to “go the extra mile.”

Before long, Mr. Kelly discovered that Mr. Henrikson and Ms. Creveling had found a Navajo woman to front for them so that Blackstone appeared to be Indian-owned. They were going behind his back, bidding for the same jobs. So he cut ties with them, and notes in retrospect that Mr. Henrikson was always asking: “Who’s the chief? Who’s the main guy? Who’s running the show here?”

Mr. Hall said he believed that Mr. Henrikson staged their first meeting by claiming he had run out of gas at a highway juncture abutting the chairman’s property. Mr. Hall said he gave him a couple of cans of gasoline and that when Mr. Henrikson returned the cans, he started insinuating himself into the chairman’s life.
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“I guess I should have checked up on him with Steve Kelly, but I was sick,’’ he said.

In January 2012, Mr. Hall signed a contracting agreement with Mr. Henrikson, and Blackstone moved into his garage. Mr. Henrikson was quick to tout the connection.

“James was unstoppable,” Mr. Arey said. “He would throw Tex’s name around: ‘I’m working with Tex Hall and Maheshu.’ Other people were, ‘Oh, wow, how did you do that?’ It was like partnering up with the president.”

After several months, Mr. Arey and his colleague Kristopher Clarke, unhappy at Blackstone, quietly hatched a plan to join another company, taking some truckers with them. Mr. Clarke had known Mr. Henrikson through motorcycle racing in Washington and had followed him to North Dakota.

On Feb. 22, 2012, Mr. Clarke told Mr. Arey he was driving to drop off his company credit card at Blackstone.

And then Mr. Clarke, who was 29, vanished.

It was not unusual for young men to come and go from the oil fields or to keep in sporadic contact with their families. But Mr. Clarke’s relatives grew increasingly alarmed that they could not reach him, and his mother started a Facebook page devoted to her missing son and casting suspicion on Mr. Henrikson and Ms. Creveling. (They would later sue her for defamation, saying she had harmed their company, which nonetheless netted $2 million in profits in 2012, they estimated in depositions.)
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Kristopher Clarke worked for Mr. Henrikson but planned to leave the company. He vanished, and his body was never found. Mr. Henrikson has been charged with murder for hire in his death.

In June 2012, Mr. Clarke’s abandoned truck was found on a street in Williston, the hub of the oil patch. Neighbors said it had been parked there for months.

Lissa Yellowbird-Chase, a tribal member who used to work in the reservation’s criminal justice system, reached out to Mr. Clarke’s mother. She thought that the “non-Indian mom of a non-Indian male” could use some help, she said, and undertook an investigation of her own.

“We started approaching Tex and other tribal leaders saying there’s a boy missing here, and he was last seen on Tex’s property,” Ms. Yellowbird-Chase said. “Doors were shut. Phones were hung up on us. People were saying maybe we shouldn’t be involved. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ We’re a very spiritual people. Part of our culture is we look out for all the Creator’s people.”

She enlisted “warriors,” she said, to help plaster the reservation with thousands of “Missing” and “Find K.C.” fliers.

Mr. Hall said he repeatedly questioned Mr. Henrikson about expenses he considered improper but that it took him until late 2012 to “kick him out,” saying “I don’t want nobody stealing from me around this place.” The 15-month business relationship with Blackstone did not end until March 2013, however.

By that point, Blackstone’s reputation with its drivers, its clients and its investors was souring. (Ms. Creveling would later tell investigators that she and her husband had siphoned money to ancillary businesses and generated false profit-loss statements for Blackstone.)

In a cordial email, Mr. Hall informed Ms. Creveling that “all expenses, reimbursements and split of proceeds” would occur by the end of the month.
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“It has been good working with you,” he wrote.
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Mr. Hall at an event in 2013 with his girlfriend, Tiffiany Johnson, right, and her daughter, Peyton Rose Martin. Ms. Johnson served as chief financial officer of Mr. Hall’s company, Maheshu Energy. Credit Vincent Schilling
Ethical Issues

In the summer of 2013, The Williston Herald announced that on July 20 a volunteers’ search party would comb Williston and Mandaree, where Mr. Clarke had last been seen on Mr. Hall’s property.

The day before the search, Mr. Hall texted Mr. Baker, the environmental director, and directed him to remove “a few frack socks” from his yard. Mr. Baker said he thought that Mr. Hall did not want the searchers, who did not find Mr. Clarke, to stumble on a dumpsite.

The frack, or oil filter, socks often contain radioactivity that exceeds the legal limit for disposal in North Dakota. They sometimes are illegally discarded because of the expense of trucking them out of state. And, indeed, Mr. Baker and his crew found some 200 socks strewn through Mr. Hall’s field.

The socks were “kind of sun-baked,” like they had been there for a while, Mr. Baker said, which greatly concerned him because “frack socks are a highly sensitive environmental hazard.”

Mr. Hall said he had done nothing wrong in calling the tribes’ environmental director. But Mr. Baker believed that the chairman had crossed an ethical line summoning public employees to take care of an environmental violation on his private property. Mr. Baker described it as: “Call your regulator, and think he’ll do a favor for you and be quiet about it.”

And indeed Mr. Baker, while he filled out an incident report for his own files, kept his mouth shut, fearful of retribution. “There have been other instances where individuals have spoken up and they have been kicked out of their homes,” he said. “They have been denied continued employment. Basically their legs are taken out from underneath them.”

Even though he did not make this episode public, Mr. Baker saw it not only as an abuse of power but also as a confirmation of what he considered the chairman’s cavalier approach to oil-related environmental problems.

Mr. Hall portrays himself as a staunch defender of the reservation’s “land, air and waters.” Though he advocated autonomy from the Environmental Protection Agency’s “regulatory scheme,” he wrote an environmental code for the tribes, he said, so that they could protect the environment “our way,” without depending on “the Great White Father in Washington, D.C.”
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Edmund Baker, the reservation’s environmental director. After he halted construction of a waste landfill and convened a community hearing, tribal leaders effectively excommunicated him, he said. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Spills are routine on the reservation, though, and generally go unpunished. By The New York Times’s calculation, there were 850 oil-related environmental incidents on Fort Berthold reported by companies from 2007 through mid-October 2014.

When Mr. Baker started his job in early 2013, straight out of law school in Montana, he quickly got the message that, “Environmental is kind of like the redheaded stepchild,” he said.

The community of White Shield was in an uproar over an oil waste landfill under preliminary construction. Examining the file, he found no permit application had ever been filed. He halted construction, and convened what turned into a packed community hearing featured in the Bismarck newspaper.
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Tribal leaders communicated their displeasure and then effectively excommunicated him.

“I’m guessing they view me as E.P.A., the guy who’s going to stop their money bags,” he said.
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Douglas Carlile on his farm. According to police records, he had been involved in a $2 million oil development deal with Mr. Henrikson, but planned to buy him out. Instead, he ended up dead, murdered in his kitchen. Credit Elberta Carlile
Deadly Dealings

On Dec. 15, 2013, after returning from church with his wife of 42 years, Douglas Carlile was accosted in his Spokane kitchen by a masked man dressed in black. Elberta Carlile fled upstairs, heard gunshots ring out and hid in a closet to call 911. Her husband died almost immediately, the day after he had painstakingly tied gold stars on their Christmas tree.

Fleeing the scene, the gunman dropped a leather glove and left a footprint in the mud. His getaway van, tracked down by the police, contained a black balaclava and a to-do list including “practice with pistol” and “wheel man.”

A month later, the police arrested Timothy Suckow, 51, whose phone contacts included a listing for “James ND” with Mr. Henrikson’s number. In the arrest report, the police said the murder victim had been involved in a $2 million oil development deal with Mr. Henrikson, that he had lined up an investor to buy out Mr. Henrikson and that Mr. Henrikson — “not happy” with this — had issued threats.

On Fort Berthold, Calvin Grinnell, curator of the Three Tribes Museum, was horrified to learn of the murder. It was his elderly mother’s land, in part, that the two men had fought over. He had last spoken with Mr. Carlile on Dec. 6, 2013. During that call, Mr. Carlile referred to a financing problem he hoped would be resolved by Dec. 15, allowing drilling to begin.

“Then on Dec. 15, he was shot,” Mr. Grinnell said. “Six hundred and forty acres — that’s what he got killed for.”
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Calvin Grinnell, curator of the Three Tribes Museum, on his elderly mother’s land that was the subject of a dispute between Mr. Henrikson and Mr. Carlile. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

On the same day Mr. Suckow was arrested, federal authorities, who had been investigating Blackstone for financial fraud, searched the house in Watford City, N.D., where Mr. Henrikson and Ms. Creveling lived. She had recently bought the place for $450,000; she had also purchased a Bentley Continental.

In addition to financial records, the authorities were looking for and found firearms — seven, as well as 1,188 rounds of ammunition and “his and hers ear protection.”

On Jan. 18, Mr. Henrikson, charged as a felon prohibited from possessing firearms, was taken into federal custody.

Reading the charging documents for the two arrests, Mr. Williams, the tribal attorney, began researching Blackstone’s ties to Fort Berthold.

“I’ll be deadly honest,” Mr. Williams said. “If that gentleman hadn’t gotten murdered in his kitchen in Washington, we might never have discovered what was going on here.”

In a statement at the time, Mr. Hall maintained that he was cooperating with the authorities “to expose Henrikson’s dealings and the extreme danger he posed to tribal members.”

But the tide began to turn against him. At the end of January, the tribal council approved an emergency amendment to its ethics ordinance explicitly forbidding its members to do business with oil companies on the reservation.
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A resolution to suspend Mr. Hall failed. But the council did hire Stephen L. Hill Jr., a former United States attorney in Missouri with experience in public corruption cases, to investigate him.

A few months later, in the interview at the expo, Mr. Hall reluctantly answered a question about his relationship to Mr. Henrikson by first saying, “No relationship.” When a reporter suggested that photographs of them together in Waikiki suggested a close relationship, Mr. Hall said: “In 2012. He had a subcontract in 2012. We’re talking, what, two years ago?”
Photo
Mr. Henrikson after his arrest early this year on weapons charges. He has since been indicted on two counts of murder for hire, four counts each of conspiracy and of solicitation to commit murder for hire, and one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin. Credit Burleigh County Detention Center

In terms of his business dealings, Mr. Hall said that he had done everything by the book. He said he had transferred ownership of Maheshu to his girlfriend after the ethics rules tightened in January. Before that, he said, Maheshu competed for business like any other tribal-member-owned company. A conflict of interest would have occurred only if he had used his position to get a tribal contract, which he never did, he said.

Mr. Hill’s investigation, however, found that the chairman had participated in a virtual joint venture with Blackstone, with proceeds shared and Ms. Creveling serving as manager of his company, too, for a while. And Mr. Hall’s government did hire Blackstone, albeit without issuing a contract.

The deal involved watering the dust kicked up by oil traffic. Mr. Henrikson had offered to do it at a discounted rate when a tribal official stopped by Mr. Hall’s garage to see if he could buy a truck for the job. The transaction had nothing to do with him, Mr. Hall said, so he was under no obligation to disclose his relationship with Blackstone when he voted for and urged his fellow council members to approve what came to $570,000 in payment.

That was supposedly for five months of road watering, but Mr. Hill’s investigation found that three months of work was never authorized by any tribal official or confirmed.

Asked if he had shared in the proceeds, Mr. Hall said: “Absolutely not. Don’t you think I’d be in jail or indicted if I had?’’

Mr. Hill’s investigation also found what is portrayed as an effort by Mr. Hall to extort $1.5 million from a Virginia-based group of investors who sought to drill for oil on tens of thousands of acres of reservation land. As part of that, Mr. Hall also misled the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the investigators found. But protracted negotiations with the investors broke down, and Mr. Hall never got paid.

Mr. Williams, the tribal attorney, said, “Tex’s defense was, ‘Because I didn’t get money, it was not a crime.’?”

In mid-August, Mr. Hill presented his findings to the tribal council in a closed session, and the chairman denounced them as a “smear campaign” by his opponents, particularly Mr. Williams.

Mr. Hall, by that point, had filed the paperwork to run for an unprecedented fourth term as tribal chairman. So, too, had Mr. Williams, two of Mr. Hall’s relatives and six others.

The day before the September primary, tribal members massed outside tribal headquarters to demand the release of the investigation report. They cheered when the doors were opened and marched past a phalanx of security into the council chambers. Judy Brugh, a council member, held up the report and told them, to much applause, “It is your right to receive this.”
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“You guys, when this all started, nobody really knew it was going to get this big,” she said. “Ever since we read this, we’ve had to carry it around on our shoulders because we knew what we had to do with it” — turn it over to the F.B.I.

Jared Baker, a tribal member, urged her and other council members to do more than that: “Be honest, guys, the feds ain’t going to do” anything unless “you guys push it, push it, push it. So we ask that you do that, so we have some kind of transparency in our government.”

Asked whether he had opened an investigation into Mr. Hall, the United States attorney in North Dakota said he could not confirm or deny the existence of any investigation. Mr. Hall said there was none, to his knowledge.

On Primary Day, he was resoundingly defeated as tribal chairman.

Also on Primary Day, coincidentally, Mr. Henrikson, with five co-defendants, was charged with the murders of Mr. Carlile and, though his body was never found, Mr. Clarke. He was federally indicted on two counts of murder for hire, four counts each of conspiracy and of solicitation to commit murder for hire, and one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Three other potential victims, including the original investor in Blackstone, were targeted but not killed, the indictment said.

Mr. Henrikson pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled for July 2015. The murder charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or death.

In Washington, Mrs. Carlile, still mourning the loss of the “honorable man” with whom she had six children and 20 grandchildren, said they had been destined to become “one of those old couples that still held hands.”

But she was thankful for one thing, she said:

“His killing did open up the whole can of worms in that area and begin to expose the corruption.”
Photo
Mark N. Fox as he was sworn in as tribal chairman last month. Mr. Fox ran on a platform emphasizing good governance and greater oversight of the oil industry. Credit Brent McDonald/The New York Times

Underscoring the change afoot, the candidates for tribal chairman in the general election — Mr. Williams and Mark N. Fox, the tribal tax director — ran on platforms emphasizing good governance and greater oversight of the oil industry.

Mr. Fox, 52, a lawyer and Marine veteran, won. At his recent inauguration, Mr. Fox, whose Indian name is Sage Man, announced that tribal members would receive a $1,000 check from the People’s Fund for Christmas. In an interview afterward, he said that he would seek to create a three-branch system of government, to install an ethics board and to “resolve the conflicts amongst our own people.”

“Until now, the boom has brought more negative than positive,” he said. “But if we change our mentality, we can turn things around. We can remind the oil companies our land is sacred and they need to respect it. We can deal with revenue responsibly and keep it out of our councilmen’s back pockets. We can put the people first.”
Photo
The site for a planned oil refinery on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Its future is being newly debated with the change in tribal government. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Robert Gebeloff contributed reporting from New York.

A version of this article appears in print on December 29, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Where Oil, Corruption and Bodies Surface

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From Readers Supported News:

Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog | The Government Problem
Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich.

Reich writes: “Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They’re wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

The Obama Boom
Reihan Salam, Slate
Salem writes: “Having come of age in the late 1990s, when the American economy was the envy of the world, the past half-decade has been a dispiriting slog. So, while I’ve learned to temper my enthusiasm about even the best economic news, I’ll admit that even I’m getting a little pepped up.”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

Wall Street Had a Merry Christmas. The New Year’s Still Up for Grabs.
Richard Eskow, Campaign for America’s Future
Eskow writes: “It’s almost as if Wall Street’s been expecting a break all along – but then, maybe it has. After all, instead of shoring up Dodd-Frank by restoring Glass-Steagall and breaking up too-big-to-fail banks, lawmakers have looked the other way.”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

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

Dr. Vandana Shiva, the environmentalist from India who works for seed integrity against international corporations that are seeking control over every inch of the agricultural process, has joined with Rabbi Michael Lerner of Berkely, California, and became the international chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

Rabbi Lerner is promoting ESRA that stands for – the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – that he and Peter Gabel co-authored and which is being circulated as per salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525…


(ESRA): The Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
(As proposed by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Peter Gabel and advanced through the work of The Network of Spiritual Progressives.)

The intent of the framers of this Amendment is to:

a. Protect the planet and its inhabitants from environmentally destructive economic arrangements and behavior, and to increase environmental responsibility on the part of all corporations and government bodies.

b. Increase U.S. citizens’ democratic control over American economic and political institutions and ensure that all people, regardless of income, have the same electoral clout and power to shape policies and programs.

c. Promote the well-being of citizens of the United States by recognizing that our well-being depends on the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants, which in turn requires an end to poverty, wars, and violence, and the rise of a new global ethic of genuine caring and mutual interdependence.


Article One: The Pro-Democracy Clause

A. The First & Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution shall apply only to human beings, and not corporations, limited liability associations, and other artificial entities created by the laws of the United States.

B. Money or other currency shall not be considered a form of speech within the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution, and its expenditure is subject to regulation by the Congress and by the legislatures of the several States.

C. Congress shall regulate the amount of money used to disseminate ideas or shape public opinion in any federal election in order to assure that all major points of view regarding issues and candidates receive equal exposure to the greatest extent possible. Congress shall fund all major candidates for the House, Senate and Presidency in all major elections and in primaries for the nomination for president of major parties (those which have obtained at least 5% of the vote in the last election for president).

D. In the three months prior to any election for a federal position, all media or any other means of mass communication reaching more than 300,000 people shall provide equal time to all major presidential candidates to present their views for at least an hour at least once a week, and equal time once every two weeks for congressional candidates during that media agency’s prime time. The candidates shall determine the form and content of that communication. Print media reaching more than 300,000 people shall provide equal space in the news, editorial, or most frequently read section of the newspaper or magazine or blog site or other means of communications which may be developed in the future. During the three months prior to an election, no candidate, no political party, and no organization seeking to influence public policy may buy time in any media or form of mass communication or any other form of mass advertising including on the Internet. Major candidates shall be defined as:

a. those who have at least 5% of support as judged by the average of at least ten independent polling firms, at least two of which are selected by the candidates deemed “not major,” 3 months before any given election,

b. or any candidate who can collect the signatures of 5% of the number of people who voted in the election for that office the last time that office was contested in an election. These petitions can only be signed by people eligible to vote in the relevant electoral districts. Every state shall develop similar provisions aimed at allowing candidates for the governor and state legislatures to be freed from their dependence on wealthy donors or corporations.


Article Two: Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility

A. Every citizen of the United States and every organization chartered by the U.S. or any of its several states shall have a responsibility to promote the ethical, environmental, and social well-being of all life on the planet Earth and on any other planet or in Space with which humans come into contact.

This being so, corporations chartered by the Congress and by the several States shall demonstrate the ethical, environmental, and social impact of their proposed activities at the time they seek permission to operate.

In addition, any corporation with gross receipts in excess of $100 million shall obtain a new corporate charter every five years, and this charter shall be granted only if the corporation can prove a satisfactory history of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility to a grand jury of ordinary citizens chosen at random from the voting rolls of the community in which the primary activities of the corporation take place, or, if there is dispute between stakeholders and the corporation on where those primary activities take place, then in Washington, D.C.

Factors to be considered by the grand jury in determining whether a corporation will be granted a charter shall include but not be limited to:

1. The degree to which the products produced or services provided are beneficial rather than destructive to the planet and its oceans, forests, water supplies, land, and air, and the degree to which its decisions help ensure that the resources of the earth are available to future generations.

2. The degree to which it pays a living wage to all its employees and the employees of any contractors with which it does business either in the US or abroad, and arranges its pay scale such that none of its employees or contractors or members of its board of directors or officers of the corporation earn (in direct and indirect benefits combined) more than ten times the wages of its lowest full-time wage earners; the degree to which it provides equal benefits including health care, child care, retirement pensions, sick pay, and vacation time to all employees; and the degree to which its employees enjoy satisfactory safety and health conditions; and the degree to which it regularly adopts and uses indicators of its productivity and success which include factors regarding human well-being, satisfaction and participation in work, and involvement in community service by its employees and members of its top management and board of directors;

3. The degree to which it supports the needs of the communities in which it operates and in which its employees live, including the degree to which it resists the temptation to move assets or jobs to other locations where it can pay workers less or provide weaker environmental and worker protections.
4. The degree to which it encourages significant democratic participation by all its employees in corporate decision making; the degree to which it discloses to its employees and investors and the public its economic situation, the factors shaping its past decisions, and its attempts to influence public discourse, and the degree to which it follows democratic procedures internally

5. The degree to which it treats its employees, its customers, and the people and communities in which it operates with adequate respect and genuine caring for their well-being, and rewards its employees to the extent that they engage in behaviors that manifest genuine caring, respect, kindness, generosity, and ethical and environmentally sensitive practices.

6. The degree to which its investment decisions enhance and promote the economic, social, and ethical welfare and physical & mental health and well-being of the communities in which its products may be produced, sold, or advertised and/or the communities from which it draws raw materials.

7. When assessing the environmental and social responsibility of banks, stock markets, investment firms and other corporations whose activities include the lending or investing of monies, in addition to the issues 1-6 above, the jury should also consider: the degree to which the financial institutions direct the flow of money to socially and/or envrionmentally useful activities, including non-profits serving the most disadvantaged of the society and including the financing of local business cooperatives and local community banks and to support low-income and middle income housing with affordable mortgages, rather than directing the money to speculators in finance, real estate, or other commercial activities; the degree to which it forgives loans previously given to poverty stricken countries; the degree to which it engages in misleading advertising or hides the costs of its services in small print or engages in aggressive marketing of monies for loans or preys on the most economically vulnerable; the degree to which it offers no-interest loans to those with incomes below the mean average income in the society; and the degree to which it seeks to fund directly socially useful projects and small businesses.

In making these determinations, the jury shall solicit testimony from the corporation’s board of directors, from its employees, and from its stakeholders (those whose lives have been impacted by the operations of the corporation) around the US and around the world. The U.S. government shall supply funds to provide adequate means for the jury to do its investigations, to hire staff to do relevant investigations, and to compensate jurors at a level comparable to the mean average of income in the region in which the deliberations of the jury takes place, or at the level of their current income, whichever is higher.

If the grand jury is not satisfied with the level of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility, it may put the corporation on probation and prescribe specific changes needed. If after three more years the jury is not satisfied that those changes have been adequately implemented, the jury may assign control of the board and officers of the corporation to non-management employees of the corporation and/or to its public stakeholders and/or to another group of potential corporate directors and managers who seem most likely to successfully implement the changes required by the jury, but with the condition that this new board must immediately implement the changes called for by the jury within two years time, or else the jury can reassign control of the corporation to another group of potential board members.

B Any government office or project receiving government funds that seeks to engage ln a contract (with any other corporation or limited liability entity) involving the expenditure of over $100,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) shall require that those who apply to fulfill that contract submit an Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report to assess the applicant’s corporate behavior in regard to the factors listed above in point A of Article II. Community stakeholders and non-supervisory employees may also submit their own assessment by filling out the Environment and Social Responsibility Impact Report. Contracts shall be rewarded to the applicant with the best record of environmental and social responsibility that can also satisfactorily fulfill the other terms of the contract.


Article Three: The Positive Requirement to Enhance Human Community and Environmental Sustainability

A. Earth being the natural and sacred home of all its peoples, Congress shall develop legislation to enhance the environmental sustainability of human communities and the planet Earth, and shall present a report annually to the American people on progress made during the previous year in ameliorating any conditions deemed by an independent group of scientists to be adverse to the planet’s long-term environmental welfare. The objectives of such legislation shall include but not be limited to alleviating global warming, reducing all forms of pollution, restoring the ecological balance of the oceans, and assuring the well-being of all forests and animal life. The President of the United States shall have the obligation to enforce such legislation and to develop executive policies to assure the carrying out of its objectives.

B. In order to prepare the people of the United States to live as environmentally and socially responsible citizens of the world, and to recognize that our own well being as citizens of the United States depends upon the well being of everyone else on Earth and the well being of this planet itself, every educational institution receiving federal funds whether directly or through the several states, shall provide education in reading, writing and basic arithmetic, and appropriate instruction including at least one required course for all its students per year per grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade, and in any college receiving funding or financial aid or loan guarantees for its students, in:

1. the skills and capacities necessary to develop a caring society manifesting love, generosity, kindness, caring for each other and for the earth, joy, rational and scientific thinking, non-violence, celebration, thanksgiving, forgiveness, humility, compassion, ethical and ecological sensitivity, appreciation of humanity’s rich multicultural heritage as expressed in literature, art, music, religion, and philosophy, non-violence in action and speech, skills for democratic participation including skills in how to change the opinions of fellow citizens or influence their thinking in ways that are respectful of differences and tolerant of disagreements, and how to organize fellow citizens for non-violent political action and engagement in support of causes not-yet-popular; and in

2. the appropriate scientific, ethical, and behavioral knowledge and skills required to assure the long term environmental sustainability of the planet Earth, and to do so in ways that enhance the well being of everyone on the planet.

Congress shall provide funding for such courses in all the educational institutions receiving public funds or loans or loan guarantees for students, and shall provide funding for similar courses to be made available to the non-student populations in each state.

All such courses must teach caring not only for the people and economic, social and environmental well-being of the people of the United States, but also for the economic, social and environmental well-being of all the people on the planet Earth and the well-being of the planet as well!

The measurement of student progress in the areas covered by sections 1 and 2 being, like artistic and musical skills, difficult or impossible to measure by quantitative criteria, educational institutions supported directly or indirectly by public funds shall develop subtle and appropriate qualitative ways of evaluating adequate progress on the part of students in the areas specified, ways that contribute to and not detract from students’ ability to love learning and to enhance their capacities to cooperate rather than compete with their fellow students in the process of intellectual and emotional growth. Teachers shall be funded to learn the skills described in points A and B and the methods of evaluation appropriate to this kind of values-oriented subject matter.


Article Four: Implementation

A. Any corporation which moves or seeks to move its assets outside the U.S. must submit an Environmental and Social Impact report to a grand jury of ordinary citizens, and the jury shall similarly receive testimony from other stakeholders and the employees of the corporation in question to determine the impact of the moving of those assets outside the U.S. The jury shall then determine what part of those assets, up to and including all of the assets of the corporation, shall be held in the U.S. to compensate those made unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged by the corporate move of its resources elsewhere, and or to pay for other forms of environmental or social destruction of the resources or the well-being of the United States or its citizens. Conspiracy to evade this provision shall be a crime punishable by no less than twenty years in prison for all members of the board of such a corporation.

2. Any part of the Constitution or the laws of the U.S., or any of its states, deemed by a court to be in conflict with any part of this ESRA Amendment shall be null and void. Any trade arrangements, treaties, or other international agreements entered into by the United States, its citizens, or its several states, deemed by a court to be in conflict with the provisions or intent of this Amendment are hereby declared null and void.

3. Congress shall take action to provide adequate funding for all parts of this amendment and implementing legislation that seeks to fulfill the intent as stated above.

Please circulate and seek endorsements by your local city council, religious, civic and professional organizations, political parties, and your State Legislature and U.S. Congressional and Senatorial representatives.

And please sign this yourself: by going to
 salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525…

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

December 19, 2014 from EESI located in Washington DC

WA Gov. Inslee Includes Low Carbon Fuel Standard in Carbon Pollution Rules

On December 17, Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) unveiled the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act for Washington State, which includes a carbon cap, a low-carbon fuel standard, and incentives for renewable energy sources. Faced with a growing deficit, as well as a 2008 state mandate to lower state agencies’ greenhouse gas emissions, Gov. Inslee’s proposal is expected to generate $1 billion in the first year alone. While Inslee recognizes that consumers may see an increase in costs initially, the program’s overall goal is to shift the state to a low-carbon economy, which would eventually save them money “It’s impossible for [companies] to pass along the cost of carbon when consumers aren’t using any,” he noted.
Read More

U.S. Forest Service Meets 2014 Forest Restoration Goals

On December 16, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that more than 200,000 tons of biomass in federally-owned forests have been removed through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to be used as renewable energy in 19 facilities across 10 states. These diseased and dead trees – often referred to as ‘hazardous fuels’ due to their ability to fuel some of the most dangerous forest fires, have accumulated in National Forests and lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management following decades of fire suppression rather than controlled burning. Prolonged heat, drought, and increased pests are making the situation ever more pressing. The BCAP program allows the Forest Service to partner with farmers, ranchers and foresters to deal with forestry residues that would otherwise be costly to remove. According to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), under the BCAP program (which provides $12.5 million annually for biomass removal), USFS has met its forestry restoration goals for fiscal year 2014.
Read More

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

OPINION | Op-Ed Contributor to the New York Times, December 18, 2014

Coal, an Outlaw Enterprise

By ROBERT F. KENNEDY Jr.

The outsize influence and campaign donations of King Coal subvert democracy in Appalachia.
 www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/opinio…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Obama Finally Acts Like a Nobel Laureate.

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

18 December 2014

Normalizing relations with Cuba was an act worthy of consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The diplomatic thaw can lead to more peace and justice if it is the first step. The most important move that can be made would be to lift the cruel and unjust embargo against Cuba. For over 50 years the embargo has made a poor country poorer.

The failed policy has not weakened the Castro Government, instead it has exacerbated poverty in what was one of the most vibrant economies prior to the Cuban Revolution.

According to the Smithsonian: “By the late ’50s, U.S. financial interests included 90 percent of Cuban mines, 80 percent of its public utilities, 50 percent of its railways, 40 percent of its sugar production and 25 percent of its bank deposits – some $1 billion in total. American influence extended into the cultural realm, as well. Cubans grew accustomed to the luxuries of American life. They drove American cars, owned TVs, watched Hollywood movies and shopped at Woolworth’s department store. The youth listened to rock and roll, learned English in school, adopted American baseball and sported American fashions.”

For the Cuban elite and American investors all was great. But for many in Cuba, the resources were concentrated in the hands of an elite class that was enjoying life with their partners, the American Robber Barons. The inequality led to the Cuban Revolution. When the Batista regime fell and American-owned resources were nationalized by Castro, the capitalists in Washington decided that they would do all they could to make sure the revolution failed.

The Cuba policy reminds me of the Republican strategy for dealing with Barack Obama’s presidency. They did everything they could to make sure more Americans would suffer and blame the President for their pain.

The US embargo on Cuba was designed to inflict pain on the Cuban people and force them into regime change.

Regime change never came. Some would argue that the embargo helped Fidel Castro unite the Cuban people against the “real” boogeyman in Washington.

President Obama, while not fully lifting the embargo, did make some moves that will increase commerce between the two nations. While these actions should be applauded, we must be vigilant. A return to the day when Cuba’s economy is dominated by US corporations is not what the Cuban people need. Exploitation is not the answer, but if you listen to Obama’s cabinet it may be exactly what they seek.

In a statement released by the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “This new course will not be without challenges, but it is based not on a leap of faith but on a conviction that it’s the best way to help bring freedom and opportunity to the Cuban people, and to promote America’s national security interests in the Americas, including greater regional stability and economic opportunities for American businesses.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said: “These historic actions by the President chart a new course for our country’s relationship with Cuba and its people. It will improve the lives of millions and will help spur long overdue economic and political reform across the country. Expanding economic engagement between the Cuban people and the American business community will be a powerful catalyst that will strengthen human rights and the rule of law.”

So buyer beware, while increased economic activity between the United States and Cuba could be a good thing, we must make sure it does’t lead to more exploitation by Cuba’s powerful neighbor.

President Obama said in Cuba yesterday: “There’s a complicated history between the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 – just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.”

Those differences have hardened for many Cuban Americans, but at the same time younger Cubans living in the United States support the president’s actions. They are the future, voices of hope and reconciliation. Let’s not listen to the voices of the past, being amplified by politicians like Marco Rubio who I am convinced express the view of an ideological fraction of the Cuban American community that will soon become the minority.

If we follow the direction the Obama administration is taking on Cuba, one day liberal Cuban politicians will start prevailing in South Florida and extremists like Marco Rubio will be out of office.

In a statement on Cuban television, Raul Castro called on President Obama to lift the embargo through executive action. Many are saying it will require an act of Congress. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait on the “just say no” Congress – since this policy was initiated by Obama, we know they will do everything they can to reverse it.

The Cuban and American people are pawns in the GOP’s political strategy. They will continue to do everything they can to make sure the Cuban and American people suffer, in hopes that they will blame the Castros and Obama. Let’s instead support the president’s Cuban policy and point the finger at the cruel politics of the Republican Party.

Scott Galindez was formerly the co-founder of Truthout.

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

Republicans were quick on Wednesday to accuse President Obama of appeasing our nation’s adversaries and showing weakness.

“First Russia, then Iran, now Cuba: One More Very Bad Deal Brokered by the Obama Administration,” blared the subject line of a release from Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) office.

“Unfortunately, this is yet another example of this administration continuing to show the rest of the world and dangerous leaders like those in Iran and North Korea that the United States is willing to appease them,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said.

“It is par for the course with an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, whether it’s Iran or in this case Cuba, in exchange for nothing, and that’s what’s happening here,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Fox News.

But there’s one very important way in which Cuba differs from all of these other bad actors on the world stage. And it’s this: Americans aren’t scared of Cuba — like barely even a little bit.

Despite Cuba’s proximity to the United States (about 90 miles from Florida) and its alliance with other antagonistic countries like North Korea and Russia, Americans have grown progressively less and less concerned that the island country actually poses a threat to the United States.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll earlier this year, in fact, showed that just 5 percent of people viewed Cuba as a “very serious threat” and 21 percent said it was a “moderately serious threat.” Another 72 percent said it wasn’t a threat at all or “just a slight threat.”

Back in 1983, two-thirds of Americans viewed Cuba as at least a “moderately serious threat,” but that numbers has fallen steadily since then.

In addition, Cuba today simply can’t be compared to the likes of Iran, Russia, North Korea and the others as far as the threat it poses. Seven in 10 Americans say each of those countries poses at a least a “moderately serious threat,” compared to 26 percent for Cuba.

As President Obama makes his case that normalizing relations with Cuba is a good idea, this is a major factor working in his favor. As long as Americans aren’t afraid of Cuba, they will likely be more accepting of a diplomatic relationship.

It’s no coincidence, after all, that the sharp decrease in fear of Cuba has coincided with a sharp rise in support for diplomacy.

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


Obama secures Latin legacy

World leaders have welcomed a historic move by the US to end more than 50 years of hostility towards Cuba and restore diplomatic relations.

Pope Francis joined leaders from Latin America and Europe in praising the “historic” deal which saw the release of prisoners from both countries.


US-Cuba relations: Global praise for normalization of ties.

The BBC News, December 18, 2014
 www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-amer…

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Op-Ed Columnist – The New York Times, December 18, 2014
Welcome Back, Cuba!
By NICHOLAS KRISTOF

Sending in gunmen to liberate the Bay of Pigs failed, but perhaps we’ll do better with diplomats, tourists and investors.

Op-Ed Contributor – The New York Times, December 18, 2014
Hectoring Venezuela on Human Rights
By DIOSDADO CABELLO

Instead of punishing my country, the U.S. should check its own record.

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