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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From the New York based Council on Foreign Relations we learn that On Tuesday, April 22, 2014 -  President Obama will leave on his rescheduled trip to Asia, making stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

THE PRESIDENT WILL NOT GO TO CHINA which is significant – AND WILL BE IN JAPAN – APRIL 23-25th – Continuing from there to South Korea – Apr 25-26th; Malaysia: 26-28th; and the Philippines: Apr 28-29th.

Everyone knows that the main topic of discussion will be China – but it can be assumed as well that at this time the main issue in President Obama’s mind are The Ukraine. In effect except for South Korea there are on-going conflicts between the other three States on the list and China. Some of these conflicts stem from China’s attempt to gain islands and the waters around them that may have a potential for oil and gas resources. The South Korea – North Korea schism is just one additional problem, and the North Korea missiles pointed at South Korea and Japan are a perpetual threat.

Obama will try to reassure his hosts that the US will stand by them if China decides to perform a land take-over like Russia just  did in Crimea – This was probably what Secretary of the Military – former Senator Chuck Hagel – told his Chinese counterpart – Chung Wanquan in his recent trip to Beijing.

Senior CFR Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila Smith, and Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia Joshua Kurlantzick will discuss on a call-in April 21, 2014 the president’s priorities for his trip. But it is already known that the CFR considers this trip as badly timed, and at least in the case of Malaysia totally wrong.

Smith wrote on the CFR blog Asia Unbound that the visit to Japan will provide opportunities to address the perception that the Obama administration and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet are ill-suited to working together – and to allow the two leaders a chance to highlight the aspirations of the relationship rather than the litany of issues that need attention.

But Kurlantzick wrote on Asia Unbound that Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s promotion of itself as a successful and democratic nation, at a cost. “This approach to the Malaysia visit would mean downplaying – or simply not even discussing – serious regression in Malaysia’s domestic politics, including the recent sentencing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail for sodomy, the highly flawed 2013 national elections that barely kept Prime Minister Najib tun Razak in office, and the increasingly shrill, anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rhetoric and legislation of the Najib government, hardly the kind of sentiments a supposed leader of political moderation should be espousing.”

Let me add to above from Vienna, the immediate reaction to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, as spoken up by aviation expert Nicky Lauda, was that Malaysia Government did not say all they knew about the incident – in effect their non-participation and the fact that for hours nothing was said about the plane’s disappearance, has caused loss of the most precious time for search. In short – the Malaysian government is no partner to the US for any serious negotiations.

Date: Monday, April 21, 2014

Call Time: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Dial-In Information:

U.S. Callers: 1-866-710-0179

International Callers: 1-334-323-7224

Password: ASIATRIP

Speakers:

Sheila Smith

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Joshua Kurlantzick

Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, Democracy in Retreat

Presider:

James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

Audio and transcript of the call will be posted afterward.

Press Contact:

Tricia Miller Klapheke

Assistant Director, Global Communications and Media Relations

DCPressRSVP@cfr.org

202.509.8525

No objectionable comments were posted on the South Korea and Philippine legs of the trip.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From HONOLULU – December 23, 2013  President Obama has enrolled in the federal health-care insurance exchanges, selecting just a bronze-tiered insurance plan on the D.C. marketplace, the White House announced today – Monday.

 Obama signed up for coverage over the weekend during the start of his holiday vacation here in Hawaii in what a White House official described as a “symbolic” act to promote the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative achievement.

The president’s health care will continue to be provided by the military, according to a statement distributed to reporters from a White House official who demanded anonymity.

Still, the White House official added, Obama “was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces which are providing quality, affordable health-care options to more than a million people.”

Also, the deadline for Americans to sign up through this new federal health insurance exchange for health plans that begin Jan. 1, 2014 was extended from midnight Monday – to Christmas eve – Tuesday  – to give last-minute shoppers an extra day to enroll.

About the Obama enrollment, we understand that while he is President he just does not need this insurance because the military will take care of him in any case. Our question is what happens after he leaves the White House. Will this mean that the ex-President opted to be just one of the people and get for himself this Bronze insurance?

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Obama signs up for health care, buying bronze plan the White House calls ‘symbolic’

HONOLULU — He doesn’t need it and will never use it, but President Obama signed up for Obamacare anyway.The political maneuver, announced Monday by the White House, was aimed at showing solidarity with hundreds of ­thousands of Americans enrolling in the new federal and state health-care exchanges. The move came after months of prodding from Republicans, who argued that the president should participate in his signature health-care law — although the exchanges are designed primarily for those who don’t have or can’t afford coverage.
Obama was enrolled in the D.C. exchange over the weekend, aides said, purchasing a “bronze”-level plan that will set him back about $400 a month (with a salary of $400,000, the president doesn’t qualify for subsidies). But aides said he won’t use the plan: Obama and his family will continue to receive, as all recent presidents have, medical care through the U.S. military.As this act of political theater played out here in Hawaii, where Obama is vacationing , his administration continued to scramble back in Washington to prepare for the Jan. 1 start of coverage. Administration officials disclosed Monday that they had quietly changed the rules to allow last-minute shoppers an extra day to enroll, pushing the deadline back to midnight Tuesday.Aides said Obama’s unique situation as president meant that he was unable to sign up for a plan online. The databases that HealthCare.gov and related sites use to verify people’s identities did not contain Obama’s personal information, aides said, so staffers had to go in person to the D.C. exchange offices over the weekend to get him enrolled.Obama selected a bronze plan — the cheapest of four categories, below platinum, gold and silver, that designate how much of overall health-care costs are covered by an insurer.

Thus Obama is paying $5,000 a year out of pocket for a plan that a White House official said was merely “symbolic.”

The president “was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces, which are providing quality, affordable health-care options to more than a million people,” said an official who was kept anonymous in a statement issued by the White House.

For weeks, Republicans on Capitol Hill have prodded Obama to sign up for coverage under the new law and — as they view it — share in the suffering of other Americans.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), noted that Obama “had the option to keep the plan he had, along with access to the doctors and hospitals he was comfortable with.”

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said: “Americans are looking for a lot more than symbolic gestures. This law is a train wreck, and no one should be forced to take part in it.”

But one of the House Republicans leading the charge against the health-care law, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), said he was pleased that Obama had enrolled.

“I’m not going to take a cheap shot at him for signing up,” Chaffetz said. “It really wasn’t necessary, but if he didn’t do it, we would all bark at him. .?.?. He’s the president of the United States. His health care is a little different than the rest of us. We get that.”

The GOP push to get Obama to sign up dates to the crafting of the law in 2010. As the Senate neared debate on the bill that would become the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced an amendment that would require Obama and Vice President Biden, as well as the Cabinet and top White House staff members, to purchase health insurance through the marketplaces.

“It’s pretty unbelievable that the president and his closest advisers remain untouched by the reforms they pushed for the rest of the country,” Grassley said at the time. “In other words, President Obama’s health-care reform won’t apply to President Obama.”

Senate Democrats rejected that approach, arguing that the purpose was to cover those not already offered insurance by their employers. Congress approved a separate provision requiring lawmakers and some of their staff members to use the exchanges, but not the president or his aides.

Nonetheless, the White House said at the time that Obama would sign up for an insurance plan through the program once the marketplaces went online.

The issue receded until earlier this month, when White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether Obama still planned to sign up and when. Carney confirmed that he would enroll but declined to provide a deadline.

Asked whether the news media could observe the president signing up, Carney did not offer any guarantee. “I’ll get back to you,” he said.

Obama’s enrollment, which aides characterized as an important show of support for the law, was handled with little fanfare. News photographers and reporters were not allowed to witness the president shopping for insurance plans or filling out paperwork. News that he had signed up was distributed to reporters in a one-paragraph statement attributed anonymously to a White House official.

Republican strategist Kevin Madden, a former senior adviser to 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, called the move “a tactic of last resort” during the week of Christmas, when many Americans are focused on the holiday rather than the news.

“It’s not a triumphant moment,” Madden said.

Goldfarb reported from Washington.

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A Contrarian’s Point of  view:

 

Why I’m Choosing to Pay $300 to Stay Uninsured

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

24 December 2013

 

ould you pay $5 to save $1? I didn’t ace Math in school, but I do at least know that a Lincoln is worth more than a Washington. If you were presented with this deal in a store, to buy a $5 item to get $1 off another, most people don’t see that as a deal. Now, multiply those numbers by a thousand, and you may start to understand why the “young invincibles” of America aren’t participating in the healthcare exchanges.

Two days before Christmas was the last day for people to enroll in the health insurance programs on healthcare.gov to be ready by January 1st. We’re all supposed to enroll by March of 2014 to not be penalized $300 for being uninsured. But for me, $300 is much cheaper than the alternatives. I’m a 26-year-old man who eats his veggies and exercises daily. I don’t get flu shots, and haven’t gotten the flu since I was in middle school (knock on wood). I also meditate daily. As a result, the sickest I ever get is a sniffle here and there. I was 15 years old the last time I got an annual physical exam, and am no worse for wear now than I was 11 years ago.

So why am I paying the $300 penalty? Through healthcare.gov, I found that as a single 26 year-old male living in Dane County, Wisconsin, who expects to make somewhere around $30,000 next year, the most affordable health insurance package for me comes with a deductible anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. That’s roughly 15 percent of my income that comes out of pocket before my health insurance even kicks in. This “affordable care” would cost me about $150 a month, and I’m having a hard enough time even putting away $100 a month into my savings account when you take rent, a car loan, groceries, gas, heat, and phone bills into account. And unlike most people my age, I was privileged enough to attend college without having to take out student loans, so I’m a lot better off financially than most of my peers.

The biggest healthcare cost of my life was $6,000 in surgery back in Fall of 2011, when I broke my elbow in two places. I was uninsured, so the cost of that procedure came out of pocket. Parents and elderly friends gave me plenty of shit for not having health insurance, saying I could have saved myself a lot of money by being insured. However, if I’d had the health insurance package I mentioned above, $5,000 of that surgery would still have to be paid for out of my own pocket. Sure, I’d save $1,000 in the end, but I’d have to pay $5,000 to do it.

I didn’t suffer any other catastrophic accidents until January of 2013, when I was run off the road while riding a bike in Florida and fractured my right arm. Since I was uninsured, the emergency care clinic down the road from my accident wouldn’t even see me, so I had to drive myself to an emergency room at a hospital close to Immokalee. The total cost of a doctor X-raying my arm and wrapping it up in a bandage and a sling was in the neighborhood of $2,500.

Even if I’d had the health insurance plan I mentioned above back when the accident happened, that entire cost would have still come out of my own pocket. And since I didn’t see the doctor for the rest of the year or hurt myself bad enough to go to a hospital, I wouldn’t have even paid my whole deductible before my health insurance kicked in. I would’ve just paid $150 a month for the remainder of the year, an $1800 blow to my already strained finances – for nothing.

The administration is really hoping that people my age will sign up for health insurance on healthcare.gov. But only 29 percent of people my age say they’ll be signing up. The whole premise of the individual mandate is that when everyone signs up for health insurance, the risk pool becomes healthier as a result, and health insurance becomes less costly for everyone. However, it’s been found that young healthy people not participating would have a very minimal effect on health insurance costs, so our non-participation isn’t the end of the world.

And given situations like mine, why the hell would any young person, in this tenuous economy, want to pay upwards of $1800 in premiums on top of a $2,000 to $5,000 deductible for healthcare costs that may or may not even occur? Does it make more fiscal sense to pay $3800 to $6800 a year to have health insurance and see a doctor when shit happens, or to pay $300 to be uninsured and hope for the best?

This is precisely the problem with the American healthcare system, and with our worthless representatives in Congress. No other developed country makes its citizens endure so much financial strain just to have access to a doctor when they’re hurt or sick. I personally wouldn’t mind paying a few percentage points more in taxes each year so I can see the doctor without worrying about which bill I’ll have to not pay in order to do it. And judging by the debacle of a giant taxpayer-funded subsidy to the private health insurance companies known as Obamacare, I bet most Americans who can’t afford our current healthcare system could alternatively afford a marginally-higher tax rate to have guaranteed healthcare.

The entire reason single payer healthcare – in which one payer, the taxpayer, pays for healthcare – or a public health insurance alternative to the private insurance companies didn’t make it into the final healthcare reform bill was because of corporate-owned senators like Max Baucus, Joe Liebermann, and the entire GOP caucus. It isn’t because they were so concerned about people being able to have the best access to healthcare, but because all of those senators count on the private health insurance industry’s bribes to win the next election cycle. Liebermann’s wife was a lobbyist for Hill & Knowlton, a firm that represented big pharmaceutical and health insurance companies. Insurance companies are the top industry contributing to Baucus’s campaign war chest between 2009 and 2014. Most Americans can put two and two together.

It’s crucial to understand that the only reason private health insurance companies exist is to profit from the illness and injury of others. That’s literally the only reason they’re in business. Sure, abolishing the private health insurance industry may cost a few jobs, but if your job is based on figuring out the best way to make money off of someone else’s suffering, that’s definitely a job that never should have existed in the first place. Healthcare is a human right, not a commodity only the rich deserve.

We won’t have universal healthcare until we have a Congress that listens to the American people. We won’t have a Congress with integrity until the bad ones get voted out. The bad ones won’t get voted out until we get big money out of politics altogether. And that won’t happen until we the people organize for enough states to sign onto a constitutional amendment that says corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech. So until then, I’ll pay my $300 penalty for being uninsured, and try my best to stay healthy and well while I organize for those things to happen.

Keep up with US Uncut!
Web: usuncut.org 

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Who is Brian Schatz?

Posted by Sean Sullivan on The Washington Post Fix – December 27, 2012

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) tapped Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D) on Wednesday to fill late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s (D) seat. The 40-year-old Schatz, who is scheduled to be sworn in later Thursday, will join the upper chamber as an unknown figure outside of his home state. Schatz will have less than two years to leave an imprint in Washington before he will face a special election in November 2014.

{We expect he will do that by going out all the way to back the President. Official Washington of the lobbyists and their media may not like that, but we expect the Hawaiians and the America’s Middle Class will love him.}


(Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

Here’s a closer look at the man who was plucked from relative obscurity to become a United States Senator.

Schatz has lived most of his life in Hawaii, but he was born in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Oct. 20, 1972. He moved to Hawaii when he was 2 years old, according to a Honolulu Civil Beat profile, where he was raised and attended the private Punahou School (President Obama’s alma mater) before receiving a degree in philosophy from Pomona College in California in 1994.

After college, Schatz returned to Hawaii, where he briefly taught at Punahou and worked in the nonprofit sector. His Punahou alumni profile says he founded the nonprofit Youth for Environmental Service. He also served as CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii, a nonprofit social service organization.

Schatz first entered elected office in 1998, when he began serving in the state House. He went on to become majority whip and chaired the Economic Development Committee.

Schatz remained in the state House until 2006, when he made a run for Hawaii’s 2nd District seat. Then-Rep. Ed Case (D) vacated the seat that year to wage a primary challenge against Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka. Schatz finished sixth in a crowded Democratic primary field, garnering just 7 percent of the vote. The winner of that primary, and later the general election, was Democrat Mazie Hirono, a former state legislator who will represent Hawaii in the Senate beginning in 2013.

Schatz is married to architect Linda Kwok Schatz, and according to his official biography, the two have a son and a daughter together. He lists his religious view as Jewish on his Facebook page.

In 2010, Schatz won a seven-way lieutenant governor’s primary, joining Abercrombie on the Democratic ticket in the general election. The ticket won easily, and Schatz was sworn in as lieutenant governor late that year.

Schatz will have to keep a close eye on his political standing in the Senate; he is slated to face a 2014 Senate special election, and if he wins that, another election in 2016. Schatz, who will be one of the youngest members of the upper chamber, says he is planning to run both years.

In the Senate, Schatz is expected to be a strong supporter of Obama’s policies. The president is immensely popular in the state where he grew up, and as a whole, the electorate there is very Democratic.

{Schatz flew back to Washington on Thursday, today, on the President’s Air Force One, and by now was sworn in – so he is already SENATOR from Hawaii.} He said: “Just had a nice, brief chat with the President on Air Force One. Looking forward to supporting his agenda in the Senate,” Schatz tweeted Wednesday.

Schatz may also emerge as a vocal senator on the issue of climate change. Abercrombie tapped him to lead a clean energy effort as lieutenant governor. He called climate change “the most urgent challenge of our generation” in remarks on Wednesday.

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz named new Hawaii senator

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz named new Hawaii senator

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

One of the two last side events on the last Friday of  the second Informal-Informal reading of the draft to Rio 2012 (RIO+20) was about the place of Mother Nature as seen by indigenous cultures that still respect the holiness of the Earth and by intellectuals that are ready to stop a minute and contemplate about the superiority of earth oriented cultures.

Moderated by Lisinka Ulatowska, Coordinator, Major Group Cluster on the Commons, this side event discussed a number of initiatives to create commons-based economies, and how these can be expanded and built upon.

Mario Ruales, Advisor to the Ecuadorian Minister of Coordination of Heritage, highlighted the adoption of a new constitution in 2008, which recognized the rights of Mother Earth. He emphasized the role of natural and indigenous peoples to respect and protect the ecosystem, saying that the constitution has a lot of processes that would allow this to be pursued. He noted Ecuador’s call for a new development architecture, saying that this has been proposed for Rio+20.

Leon Siu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom, outlined his work for reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i, saying that should this occur, many of the traditional practices for land management, agriculture and conservation of natural resources will return. He lamented the marginalization of the indigenous peoples, saying that reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i would rectify this problem.

Rob Wheeler, Global Ecovillage Network, outlined that the commons-based approach is one where the land and its resources are cooperatively owned, managed and shared among those living on the commons. He noted that ecovillages, which are based on such a model, are among the most sustainable communities in existence. He noted that many lessons on sustainability can be learnt from ecovillages, underscoring their ability to minimize waste, promote clean, renewable energy and ensure the sustainable consumption of natural resources.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates addressed the different financing systems that could be used for implementing a commons-based model. They also discussed referencing the rights of nature in the Rio+20 outcome document.

Ecuador is a member of the ALBA group of Latin and Caribbean Nations like Bolivia. Both countries were left with strong lodes of indigenous people and the governments attempt to speak for them. The Kingdom of Hawaii does still exist even though Hawaii has become a US State and thus does not recognize a King. Nevertheless, You can still see a functioning royal House on the main Hawaii Island.

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As it happened, on the following day, Saturday May 5th, 2012, I had to be in Washington DC and made it also my business to go to visit the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian at 4th Street & Independence Avenue S,W. At the door I saw the announcement that the next weekend Saturday, May 12 – Sunday May 13, 2012, 10 am – 5:30 pm they will celebrate the BOLIVIAN SUMA QAMANA FESTIVAL – sponsored by the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

“Discover Bolivia’s Magic, culture, Heritage, Joy of Living Well.”

The Museum doors are etched with sun symbols and open to the east to greet the rising sun as do many traditional Native houses. Native people honor the sun as a life-giver and calendar – instructing when to plant, harvest, conduct ceremonies. The American Indian is responding to Environmental Challenges and the Museum has established a special website for this - www.AmericanIndian.si.edu

At present the museum has two special exhibits. One is very appropriate to present American Indian culture as it evolved in the last 250 years – the interaction with horses and the way they viewed these large and friendly animals. The show is dedicated to “A SONG FOR THE HORSE NATION” and here this Nation are the horses themselves taken as if they were like humans.

The other show includes just one item and I stood there in state of shock. The title is HUICHOL ART ON WHEELS.” Its exhibition is planned from March 20 to May 6th 2012 – so let me say without any hesitation – good ridance before the Bolivian event next week.

Why am I quite angry at this exhibit covered with Huichol Art? Let me make sure that there should be no misunderstanding – it is not because of the Huichols. These are people from the West-Central Mexico who are known for their beadwork. Sometimes they take an object and cover it with colorful beads. The Huichol call themselves in their own language the Wixaritari people and I bought items from them years ago in a store they managed in Porto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The problem with this exhibition of one single item is that it is what they call – a VOCHOL – now that is a common Beetle Volkswagen that was completely covered in beads. Again – not that this car is bad looking – but why in this world in which the indigenous people do every possible effort to tell us that they understand the environment and suffer from climate change, and then bring into this interesting museum a common motor-vehicle that when operated uses gasoline?

WHY BEAD A BUG? asks the museum brochure and proceeds to answer:
The Vochol demonstrates the complex intersections of traditional and modern cultures. It serves as opportunity to bring attention to contemporary indigenous art while also highlighting Wixaritari culture and talent. The project is a collaboration between the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Museo de Arte Popular, and the state governments of Nayarit and Jalisco, home to the Wixatari people. And let me add here that it must be also home of the assembly plants of Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico. Further – it must be friends of the US Oil industry and the US Auto Manufacturers that convinced that this big piece of art covering the auto-monster vehicle got into the American Indian Museum in order to soften our resistance to fossil fuels transportation – albeit by a reasonably small vehicle.

The Wixatari artist Francisco Bautista used 2,277,000 glass seed beads to cover this beetle, and he finished the work in 2010 according to the license plate attached to the car. Then, let me never forget what my friend Professor Jad Neeman from the Tel Aviv University told me when we went to see a particular exhibition of what looked to me as unused canvases – the main role of modern art is to make us angry so we are moved from our position of not caring. If that is what the exhibitors had in mind – so this was very great art, because it made me care very much – when I concluded that this did not belong into this particular museum.

In above context let me also write here what I found in the permanent exhibit on the 4-th floor – a stoty about another beetle:

This comes from the Cherokee Nation. They tell that “Long ago – all things existed above the sky, from horizon to horizon. The bird and animal people (you remember the horse people I mentioned earlier?) wondered about the water-covered world below and sent Water-Beetle to explore. He descended and returned with a small piece of mud that spread over the water.”

This obviously was another beetle – the one we like for itself.

Further, in a story from the Campo Indians North of San Diego. They ended up being the address where the San Diego garbage was sent for landfill that gave them the Golden Acorn Casino not far from the Mexico border. The local Amerindians did not agree but got it anyway.

The Environmentalists tell them that they show  who they are with appropriate ways of viewing their land as one of their greatest assets.

Their lands are being decimated under them, but the indigenous people make serious attempts to survive.

The IOWA say – Our Songs and Our Ceremonies Enable Us To Survive.

The Nahua state – Our Laws and way of thinking shall continue.

The Cherokees state simply – WE ARE STILL HERE!



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We received the following information and were indeed very interested in this event.

The United Nations lnformation Service (UNIS), Vienna, in cooperation with the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna, and the UNESCO Club Vienna invite you to the opening of the exhibition of “One Family” -
on Friday, 2 September 2011 at 12:00 noon –  at the Vienna International Centre { this is the UN territory in Vienna }.
Rotunda, Wagramerstrasse 5, 1220 Vienna.
———-
The art project “One Family”, an initiative of the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna, the UNESCO Club Vienna and the artist Yusheng Zhao is a series of paintings by children on five different continents showing the children’s concept of their family and cultural identity.
——–
The first in the series of paintings, created by children in Vienna, was being displayed at the Vienna International Centre in August 2010 to launch the International Year of Youth.
———
The exhibit this year shows paintings from children from five continents, symbolizing a world for a constructive peaceful coexistence. Children having created the art work will be present at the opening.
———
The exhibition will be on display in the Rotunda from 2-15 September 2011.

———-

At the Friday, September 2, 2011 opening:

Welcome remarks: Janos Tisovszky, Acting Director, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna

Speakers: H.E. Jingye Cheng, Permanent Representative of  the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations (Vienna)

and Professor Richard Trappl, Director, Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna

The opening was accompanied by a children’s musical performance – The children – the “Chinese Bridge” choir of a bunch of delightful little girls, that were running around and having great time even when not singing, came with their mothers from the Youth Department of the Confucius Institute at the University of Vienna.

The musician was not Chinese – but from the Caribbean – Andri Joel Harison, and two young students from Hawaii spoke about the project – Kari Kehaulani Noe and Amanda Lee Nelson – they got involved with the project when on a vacation camp on the Island of Oahu.

* *** *

Though we follow China very closely on www.SustainabiliTank.info nevertheless, above invitation caused me sort of a culture shock.

First I realized that a Dante Alighieri Institute for Italian Culture and language, or a Goethe Institute for German Culture and language, or an Alliance Francaise Institute for French Culture and Language, or a Cervantes Institute for Spanish Culture and language would have meant no news to me. I simply caught myself not being prepared yet that the Chinese Culture and language, following the rise of global interest in China’s economy, is now a given – and I bet the future biggest such outreach – and after the end of the Mao period – why indeed not pick the Confucius name as boiler-plate for this endeavor?

Actually – this is a bit more complicated. No texts by Confucius survive that are demonstrably authored by him, and the ideas most closely associated with him were elaborated in writings that accumulated over the period between his death assumed to have happened in 479 BC and the foundation of the first Chinese empire in 221 BC. Since – these teachings were intermingled with the Imperial institutions.

The philosophy of Confucius, as it came down to us, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such  as Legalism or Taoism  during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). His thoughts have been developed by others into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism that served the purpose of the Empirial House and it basically advises subservience.

The principles attributed to him had a basis in common Chinese tradition and belief. He demanded strong familial loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children (and, according to later interpreters, of husbands by their wives), and the family as a basis for an ideal government. He is considered as proponent of the Golden Rule -Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.

Although Confucianism is often followed in a religious manner by the Chinese, arguments continue over whether it is a religion. Confucianism discusses elements of the afterlife and views concerning Heaven, but it is relatively unconcerned with some spiritual matters often considered essential to religious thought, such as the nature of the soul.

Confucius, to the Chinese, is a model of human excellence, – he serves as the ultimate model, this rather than a deity or a universally true set of abstract principles. For these reasons, according to many Eastern and Western commentators, Confucius’s teaching may be considered a Chinese version of humanism.

On politics - Because his vision of personal and social perfections was framed as a revival of the ordered society of earlier times, Confucius is often considered a great proponent of conservatism, but a closer look at what he proposes often shows that he used (and perhaps twisted) past institutions and rites to push a new political agenda of his own: a revival of a unified royal state, whose rulers would succeed to power on the basis of their moral merits instead of lineage. These would be rulers devoted to their people, striving for personal and social perfection, and such a ruler would spread his own virtues to the people instead of imposing proper behavior with laws and rules.

While he supported the idea of government by an all-powerful sage, ruling as an Emperor, his ideas contained a number of elements to limit the power of rulers. He argued for according language with truth, and honesty was of paramount importance.
In discussing the relationship between a king and his subject (or a father and his son), he underlined the need to give due respect to superiors. This demanded that the inferior must give advice to his superior if the superior was considered to be taking the wrong course of action.

Soon after Confucius’ death, Qufu, his hometown, became a place of devotion and remembrance. It is still a major destination for cultural tourism, and many people visit his grave and surrounding temples. In pan-China cultures, there are many temples where representations of Budha, Laozi, and Confucius are found together. There are temples dedicated just to him, which have been used for Confucianist ceremonies – also a tradition of holding yearly spectacular memorial ceremonies  Confucius birthday, using ceremonies that supposedly derived from a disciple as recorded by Confucius. This tradition was interrupted for several decades in mainland China, where the official stance of the Communist Party and the State was that Confucius and Confucianism represented reactionary feudalist beliefs which held that the subservience of the people to the aristocracy is a part of the natural order. All such ceremonies and rites were therefore banned. Only after the 1990s, did the ceremony resume. As it is now considered a veneration of Chinese history and tradition, even Communist Party members may be found in attendance.

In Taiwan, where the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) strongly promoted Confucian beliefs in ethics and behavior, the tradition of the memorial ceremony of Confucius is supported by the government and has continued without interruption. While not a national holiday, it does appear on all printed calendars, much as Father’s Day does in the West.

I remember in Chinatown, New York City, when it was decided to put up a statue of Confucius, there was an uproar from part of the community. Confucius just was not all inclusive so far as the Chinese diaspora was concerned.

With above in mind I found of interest that not only is the Chinese Culture and language Institute of the University of Vienna named after Confucius – www.Konfuzius-institut.at – but similar institutions exist in other parts of the world – this as in Hawaii (the US), Madagascar, Peru, Melbourne (Australia), and China, exist Confucius Institutes as well – as there were children at work as well on preparing paintings that are shown in this exhibit.

The project ONE FAMILY follows a Chinese proverb that says FOUR OCEANS – ONE FAMILY.  The Ocean here is not a barrier – but a unifying ocean. In a central position there was a conventional drawing of the world map with Europe/Africa in the center, that had four vertical water lines – the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and again the Pacific Ocean – so I quiped to Amanda – I see here only 3 Oceans – the globe is round – so there are only three.  She immediately volunteered that the Arctic Ocean is the fourth ocean. That was fine with me and I said that what I see there – to be exact – Four Oceans – One Family – One China.  Really what we have here is the simple fact that the Chinese communities all over the world make now the World One – For China.  The children of the world, in their cooperation, help China enter this globalization process as leaders – and it happens through the Confucius Institutes that link over the waters.

Like the choir – the children are the bridge – not all of them are Chinese. The children draw the things they know. The Madagascar kids did a banana plantation and life in villages, the Melbourne kids know they are in a different hemisphere – so they have people turned upside-down, the Peruvian kids even did some politics looking at indigenous people wanting independence – somehow everyone was touching the water’s edge.

The project inspired the children – and they replied with enthusiasm with a feeling of belonging and an intent of peaceful coexistence.

Some of the paintings were prepared for an earlier display in Berlin and the Chinese Cultural center there, that was titled “FUTURE CHINA.” Other paintings were done with the help of the Confucius Institutes that sponsored i.e. the camp in Oahu, Hawaii.  On the outer side of the circular exhibit at the UN Rotunda there were paintings, drawings, washes that were clearly done by full fledged artists – some from Taiwan and Tibet – China is one I repeated to myself as I use to do on our website.  A work from Beijing clearly stated – “One World – One Dream.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 26th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

SACRED HULA of HAWAII – Saturday night, March 26th only!: The nationally renowned Halau o Keikiali’i performs interpretations of ancient dances and chants and contemporary Hawaiian music and choreography, illuminating the art of sacred hula and other Hawaiian traditions. The program, Ka Wa Hula: Hula Through Time unveils the history of Hawaii through hula, renewing chants, dances, and melodies of a culture once suppressed. Directed by kumu hula (hula master) Kawika Alfiche, the halau is comprised of several generations of artists and is making its New York debut. Halau o Keikiali’i is a traditional Hawaiian Cultural Group based in San Francisco. Since 1994, its goal has been to educate the general public about the traditional customs and values of the Hawaiian people and to help perpetuate the rich culture of the Hawaiian people through stage productions and other cultural events. Its primary focus is on cultural traditions, including hula kahiko (ancient dance), hula ‘auana (modern dance), oli (chant), mele (traditional songs), himeni (modern songs), n mea hula (arts, crafts, implements), lole hula (hula attire), ‘lelo (language), and mo’olelo (stories).

“remarkable for its combination of strength and lyricism” — danceviewtimes.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 www.offshorevaluation.org/

The Offshore Valuation is the first full economic valuation of Britain’s offshore renewable resource.

The report finds that using just one third of the UK’s wind, wave and tidal resource could:

  • unlock the electricity equivalent of 1 billion barrels of oil a year (matching North Sea oil and gas production).
  • give CO2 reductions of 1.1 billion tonnes by 2050
  • create 145,000 new UK jobs

The Offshore Valuation Group is an informal collaboration of government and industry organisations who have come together to address the question: what is the value of the UK’s offshore renewable energy resource?

——–

The Offshore Valuation has been making waves in the media today:

on the Guardian tinyurl.com/2v4ocxv

and BBC tinyurl.com/2uqwkk6

——–

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created under President Richard Nixon. Since then it was all downhill. BP has now started to reeducate President Obama.

Our Deepwater wake-up call: Let’s rethink the trade-off between economic development and environmental protection.

- – - – - -

In the wake of Deepwater, let’s put the environment first

An oil-soaked bird struggles against the side of a ship near the  oil-spill site.

An oil-soaked bird struggles against the side of a ship near the oil-spill site. (Gerald Herbert/associated Press)

In June 1969, the stretch of the Cuyahoga River that runs through Cleveland was so polluted that it caught fire. Time magazine described the Cuyahoga this way: “Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows.”


The spectacle of a river in flames helped galvanize the environmental movement, and the following year, with Richard Nixon as president, the Environmental Protection Agency was established. In 1972, Congress passed the landmark Clean Water Act. Today, the Cuyahoga is clean enough to support more than 40 species of fish.

We still don’t know the full extent of the environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico — the impact on avian and aquatic life, on fisheries, on tourism, on the delicate ecology of coastal marshes and barrier islands. We do know, though, that it is the worst oil spill in our nation’s history, far surpassing the Exxon Valdez incident. And maybe the shocking images from the gulf of dead fish, oiled pelicans and shores lapped by viscous “brown mousse” will refocus attention on the need to preserve the environment, not just exploit it.

“Drill, baby, drill” isn’t just the bizarrely inappropriate chant that we remember from the Republican National Convention two years ago. It’s a pretty good indication of where the national ethos has drifted. Environmental regulation is seen as a bureaucratic imposition — not as an insurance policy against potential catastrophe, and certainly not as a moral imperative.

Yes, many Americans feel good about going through the motions of environmentalism. We’ve made a religion of recycling, which is an important change. We turn off the lights when we leave the room — and we’re even beginning to use fluorescent bulbs. Some of us, though not enough, understand the long-term threat posed by climate change; a subset of those who see the danger are even willing to make lifestyle changes to try to avert a worst-case outcome.

But where the rubber hits the road — in public policy — we’ve reverted to our pre-enlightenment ways. When there’s a perceived conflict between environmental stewardship and economic growth, the bottom line wins.

Barack Obama is, in many admirable ways, our most progressive president in decades. But as an environmentalist, let’s face it, he’s no Richard Nixon. Before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded — allowing, by some estimates, as many as a million gallons of crude oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico each day for more than a month — Obama had announced plans to permit new offshore drilling. “I don’t agree with the notion that we shouldn’t do anything,” Obama said at the time. “It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.”

Obama has wisely backed away from that decision. The technology involved in deep-sea oil drilling turned out to be far more advanced than the technology needed to halt a spill if something goes wrong — essentially, like engineering a car to double its top speed without thinking to upgrade the brakes. This oversight apparently wasn’t noticed by anyone who had the power to correct it.

Calls for Obama to somehow “take over” the emergency response ring hollow. Take it over with what? Hands-on intervention has never been government’s role in this kind of situation. BP and the other oil companies had the undersea robots and the deep-water experience. Other private companies owned and operated the skimmers that remove the oil from the surface. There is no huge government reserve of the booms that are needed to protect Louisiana’s beaches and marshlands; those are made by private firms and are being deployed by unemployed fishermen.

Obama has rethought his enthusiasm for offshore drilling. Now he, and the rest of us, should rethink the larger issue — the trade-off between economic development and environmental protection. In the long run, our natural resources are all we’ve got. Defending them must be a higher priority than our recent presidents, including Obama, have made it.

Energy policy is one of Obama’s priorities. He talks about “clean coal,” which I believe to be an oxymoron, and favors technologies — such as carbon capture and sequestration — that are new and untested. The environmental risks must be a central and paramount concern, not a mere afterthought. Let’s preclude the next Deepwater Horizon right now.

eugenerobinson@washpost.com

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

But the Washington Post, afraid of looking too progressive in a Sarah Palin dominated US political backwaters town, has balanced above excellent article with a second one that caters to the political sharks. Please read the two articles not just as a sandwich were our future is the filling. Read it rather as an effort to blunt the call for non-fossil future. In effect, this second article is nothing less then the Hofmeister defense of BP which we posted as our original article after we listened to this former CEO of Schell Oil Company on his launch at the US Foreign Policy Association on his start of a book-release campaign in defense of Big Oil.

- – - – -

A disaster with many fathers

Friday, May 28, 2010
Here’s my question: Why were we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?


Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama’s tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we’ve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So we go deep, ultra deep — to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. That’s a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from the barren to the populated, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism and recreation?

Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that they’ve escaped any mention at all.

The other culprits are pretty obvious. It starts with BP, which seems not only to have had an amazing string of perfect-storm engineering lapses but no contingencies to deal with a catastrophic system failure.

However, the railing against BP for its performance since the accident is harder to understand. I attribute no virtue to BP, just self-interest. What possible interest can it have to do anything but cap the well as quickly as possible? Every day that oil is spilled means millions more in losses, cleanup and restitution.

Federal officials who rage against BP would like to deflect attention from their own role in this disaster. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department’s laxity in environmental permitting and safety oversight renders it among the many bearing responsibility, expresses outrage at BP’s inability to stop the leak, and even threatens to “push them out of the way.”

“To replace them with what?” asked the estimable, admirably candid Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander. No one has the assets and expertise of BP. The federal government can fight wars, conduct a census and hand out billions in earmarks, but it has not a clue how to cap a one-mile-deep out-of-control oil well.

Obama didn’t help much with his finger-pointing Rose Garden speech in which he denounced finger-pointing, then proceeded to blame everyone but himself. Even the grace note of admitting some federal responsibility turned sour when he reflexively added that these problems have been going on “for a decade or more” — translation: Bush did it — while, in contrast, his own interior secretary had worked diligently to solve the problem “from the day he took office.”

Really? Why hadn’t we heard a thing about this? What about the September 2009 letter from Obama’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accusing Interior’s Minerals Management Service of understating the “risk and impacts” of a major oil spill? When you get a blowout 15 months into your administration, and your own Interior Department had given BP a “categorical” environmental exemption in April 2009, the buck stops.

In the end, speeches will make no difference. If BP can cap the well in time to prevent an absolute calamity in the gulf, the president will escape politically. If it doesn’t — if the gusher isn’t stopped before the relief wells are completed in August — it will become Obama’s Katrina.

That will be unfair, because Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that’s the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman. Helplessness, however undeniable, is no defense.

Moreover, Obama has never been overly modest about his own powers. Two years ago next week, he declared that history will mark his ascent to the presidency as the moment when “our planet began to heal” and “the rise of the oceans began to slow.”

Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustn’t be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Mercer is a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services. Mercer works with clients to solve their most complex benefit and human capital issues, designing and helping manage health, retirement and other benefits. It is a leader in benefit outsourcing. Mercer’s investment services include investment consulting and investment management. Mercer’s 18,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., which lists its stock (ticker symbol: MMC) on the New York, Chicago and London stock exchanges. For more information, visit www.mercer.com

Mercer’s Quality of Living index list was revised and now covers 221 cities compared to 215 in 2009, which means direct trend comparison will not be possible until 2011. The new selection includes prominent capital and other major cities from across the world currently available in Mercer’s database, and better reflects where companies are sending their expatriate employees in the current business environment.

Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer, commented: “As the world economy becomes more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial centres are emerging as attractive places in which to expand or establish a business. Cities in many emerging markets, such as in the Middle East or Asia, have seen a significant influx of foreign companies and their expatriate employees in recent years.”

“To ensure their expatriates are compensated appropriately and an adequate hardship allowance is included in their benefits package, companies seek a clear picture of the quality of living in these cities. We have reviewed our index to reflect these developments and it now better represents the cities that most interest our clients,” Mr Parakatil said.

————

THIS YEAR, FOR THE FIRST TIME, MERCER ESTABLISHED ALSO AN ECO-CITY CATEGORY IN ITS RANKINGS.

Eco-City Ranking 2010 includes the following criteria: Water availability, water potability, waste removal, sewage, air pollution and traffic congestion. As this list is only a partial list from Mercer’s more general lists of criteria, but they still retain New York City as the base figure with 100 as guide-line, obviously these figures are different then in their general listings.

In the more general list - Vienna retains the top spot as the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2010 Quality of Living Survey. Zurich and Geneva follow in second and third position, respectively, while Vancouver and Auckland remain joint fourth in the rankings. Also there Cities are ranked against New York as the base city, with an index score of 100 – but that figure obviously means a different 100. In the US, the highest ranking entry is Honolulu at position 31, followed by San Francisco at position 32.  In the UK, London ranks at 39, while Birmingham  at 55 and Glasgow at 57. Singapore at 28 is the top-scoring Asian city, followed by Tokyo at 40.

Mercer conducts the general ranking to help governments and multi-national companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. The rankings are based on a point-scoring index, which sees Vienna score 108.6 and Baghdad 14.7.

Top Top 52 Eco-Cities ranked:

Base City: New York, US (=100)

Rank 2010 City Country Eco-city index* 2010
1 CALGARY CANADA 145.7
2 HONOLULU UNITED STATES 145.1
3 OTTAWA CANADA 139.9
3 HELSINKI FINLAND 139.9
5 WELLINGTON NEW ZEALAND 138.9
6 MINNEAPOLIS UNITED STATES 137.8
7 ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA 137.5
8 COPENHAGEN DENMARK 137.4
9 KOBE JAPAN 135.6
9 OSLO NORWAY 135.6
9 STOCKHOLM SWEDEN 135.6
12 PERTH AUSTRALIA 135.3
13 MONTREAL CANADA 133.6
13 VANCOUVER CANADA 133.6
13 NURNBERG GERMANY 133.6
13 AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND 133.6
13 BERN SWITZERLAND 133.6
13 PITTSBURGH UNITED STATES 133.6
19 ZURICH SWITZERLAND 133.5
19 ABERDEEN UNITED KINGDOM 133.5
21 CANBERRA AUSTRALIA 133.3
22 SINGAPORE SINGAPORE 132.4
23 BRISBANE AUSTRALIA 131.6
23 WASHINGTON UNITED STATES 131.6
25 MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA 131.5
25 GENEVA SWITZERLAND 131.5
25 BOSTON UNITED STATES 131.5
28 DUSSELDORF GERMANY 130.7
28 MUNICH GERMANY 130.7
30 CAPE TOWN SOUTH AFRICA 129.4
30 BELFAST UNITED KINGDOM 129.4
32 LYON FRANCE 129.3
33 DUBLIN IRELAND 128.9
34 HAMBURG GERMANY 128.8
34 STUTTGART GERMANY 128.8
34 PHILADELPHIA UNITED STATES 128.8
37 YOKOHAMA JAPAN 128.7
38 VICTORIA SEYCHELLES 128.5
39 TORONTO CANADA 127.1
39 AMSTERDAM NETHERLANDS 127.1
41 BRUSSELS BELGIUM 126.8
41 LEIPZIG GERMANY 126.8
43 ST. LOUIS UNITED STATES 126.6
44 VIENNA AUSTRIA 126.2
44 LUXEMBOURG LUXEMBOURG 126.2
46 SYDNEY AUSTRALIA 125
47 GLASGOW UNITED KINGDOM 124.7
48 MUSCAT OMAN 124.2
49 POINT-A-PITRE GUADELOUPE 123.8
50 NAGOYA JAPAN 123.1
50 OSAKA JAPAN 123.1
50 FRANKFURT GERMANY 123.1

Mercer is a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services. Mercer works with clients to solve their most complex benefit and human capital issues, designing and helping manage health, retirement and other benefits. It is a leader in benefit outsourcing. Mercer’s investment services include investment consulting and investment management. Mercer’s 18,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., which lists its stock (ticker symbol: MMC) on the New York, Chicago and London stock exchanges. For more information, visit www.mercer.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The CNN ireport – LIVING IN A TOXIC TOWN. CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta invite you to put on video what you know.
 www.ireport.com/ir-topic-stories….

Living in a toxic town

Many residents of Mossville, Louisiana, suspect their proximity to more than a dozen chemical plants may be responsible for what they say are high rates of cancer and other diseases in the area.

Is there a place near you where pollution is making people sick? CNN is investigating the environment’s effects on health as part of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Toxic Towns USA special. We want you to join us in the newsgathering process.

“Put yourself on video and document conditions in your area, or take photos of what’s around you. Tell us what industrial or chemical pollution may be contributing to health problems for you and those you love, and be sure not to put yourself in a dangerous situation,” CNN writes.

“Tell us about toxic towns near you and Dr. Gupta may report on your community.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The New York Times blog Green, May 4, 2010,
— Updated: 3:54 pm

A Chorus of ‘I Told You So’

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOfsFF7bAzE]

Green: Politics

The catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could hardly have come at a worse time for President Obama — a month after he angered many supporters by announcing he would open up vast areas of American waters to new offshore oil exploration and drilling. Now, many of the groups that opposed the move are using the spill to restate their objections.

On Monday, the political action committee Moveon.org unleashed a new television ad that asks, “President Obama, will you lead our country into a clean energy not future, or will we see more of this?” It cuts to images of a fiery oil rig and dead fish and birds covered in slick black oil  (wildlife images that were not recorded in this accident).

Oceana, a nonprofit ocean advocacy group, sent its condolences to the families of the 11 workers who died on the Deepwater Horizon and to those who were injured. But in an I-told-you-so vein, it went on to say: “Events like this one will happen again unless we act to prevent them. It is time for the U.S. to recognize that the risks of offshore drilling far outweigh any benefits.”

The drumbeat has been steady. “We must shift our energy policy away from oil, toward cleaner and renewable sources that can’t spill or run out,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the National Resources Defense Council. She added, “Offshore drilling is dangerous work, and the cost of accidents is far too high, as this tragedy reminds us.”

It is unclear, of course, if a significant percentage of the public will agree that the spill is proof that offshore drilling is a bad idea. Some could just see it as an accident, albeit one with unusual timing.

As Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican supporter of offshore drilling, said this week, “The Challenger accident was heartbreaking, but we went back to space.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The problem was the 51 cents/gallon of ethanol from sugar-cane tariff, the US imposes against imports from international producers of bioethanol – so they do not compete with US agro-ethanol.

We are cynics by nature and wonder if the release today has anything to do with Shell Oil Company having announced last weekend that they will invest over a billion dollars in the production of sugar-cane ethanol in Brazil. So, did we have to wait until an oil company steps heavily into this area – so we finally allow US door to be opened to a non-petroleum liquid fuel?

WE ARE VERY PARTIAL TO THIS TOPIC BECAUSE BACK IN 1978 AT UNIDO IN VIENNA, AND IN 1979 IN NEW ORLEANS, I WAS PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN BRINGING THIS SUBJECT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE LIQUID FUEL HUNGRY WESTERN WORLD. IN VIENNA WE SHOWED THE CUBAN EXPERIENCE AT A UN – AUSTRIA – SWEDEN EVENT. IN NEW ORLEANS THIS WAS “THE FIRST INTER-AMERICAN CONFERENCE ON RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY” THAT I HELPED ORGANIZE. OBVIOUSLY – TO LOUISIANA WE COULD NOT BRING THE CUBANS – BUT BRAZIL, ARGENTINA AND MANY OTHERS WERE PRESENT UNDER THE FRIENDLY EYES OF THE US DEPARTMENT OF STATE. ETHANOL BECAME A RECOGNIZED FUEL, BUT US AGRICULTURE MADE SURE IT WILL BE US CORN AS FEEDSTOCK. WE COULD NOT EVEN GET PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR IMPORTS FROM FRIENDLY COUNTRIES BECAUSE OIL AND AGRICULTURE – SOME OF THE STRONGEST LOBBIES IN WASHINGTON – WOULD NOT ALLOW IT , EVEN AFTER THE INTERVENTION OF US REPUBLICAN SENATORS LIKE FRANK CHURCH, JACOB JAVITS, CHARLES PERCY – SO WHAT WILL IT BE NOW? WILL THOSE TARIFFS COME OFF?

—————-
EPA Reaffirms Sugarcane Biofuel is Advanced Renewable Fuel with 61% Less Emissions than Gasoline.
Brazil Sugarcane Update – Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Welcomes U.S. EPA’s Renewable Fuels Rules.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that ethanol made from sugarcane is a low carbon renewable fuel, which can contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As part of today’s announcement finalizing regulations for the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), the EPA designated sugarcane ethanol as an advanced biofuel that lowers GHG emissions by more than 50%.

“The EPA’s decision underscores the many environmental benefits of sugarcane ethanol and reaffirms how this low carbon, advanced renewable fuel can help the world mitigate against climate change while diversifying America’s energy resources,” said Joel Velasco, Chief Representative in Washington for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).

Sugarcane ethanol is a renewable fuel refined from cane that grows typically in tropical climates. Compared to other types of ethanol available today, using sugarcane ethanol to power cars and trucks yields greater reductions in greenhouse gases and is usually much cheaper for drivers to purchase. Brazil has replaced more than half of its fuel needs with sugarcane ethanol – making gasoline the alternative fuel in that country and ethanol the standard.  Many observers point to sugarcane ethanol as a good option for diversifying U.S. energy supplies, increasing healthy competition among biofuel manufacturers and improving America’s energy security.

The RFS2 will help the United States meet energy security and greenhouse gas reduction goals sought by the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007 (EISA). The new regulations establish minimum biofuels consumption in the U.S. of more than 12 billion gallons (45 billion liters) in 2010, rising to 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) in 2022, of which 21 billion gallons per year would have to be one of three types of advanced biofuels: cellulosic, biomass diesel, and “other advanced,” that meet required GHG reduction thresholds as determined by the EPA.

Today, EPA affirmed that sugarcane ethanol meets the “other advanced” category in the RFS2, although with a GHG reduction level that exceeds the requirement for all categories as well.  Specifically, EPA’s calculations show that sugarcane ethanol from Brazil reduces GHG emissions compared to gasoline by 61%, using a 30-year payback for indirect land use change (iLUC) emissions.

“We are pleased that EPA took the time to improve the regulations, particularly by more accurately quantifying the full lifecycle greenhouse emission reductions of biofuels. EPA’s reaffirmation of sugarcane ethanol’s superior GHG reduction confirms that sustainably-produced biofuels can play a important role in climate mitigation. Perhaps this recognition will sway those who have sought to raise trade barriers against clean energy here in the U.S. and around the world. Sugarcane ethanol is a first generation biofuel with third generation performance,” noted Velasco.

Last year, UNICA submitted comments to EPA with abundant scientifically credible evidence showing that – even including indirect emissions – sugarcane ethanol has a reduction of GHG emissions of 73-82% compared with gasoline, on a 30- or 100-year time horizon respectively. The RFS2 requires the use of at least 4 billion gallons (over 15 billion liters) of “other advanced” renewable fuels a year by 2022. In 2010, the RFS requires 200 million gallons of this type of advanced renewable fuels.

“While we are reviewing the final rule, it is clear that EPA has incorporated many of the comments that UNICA and other stakeholders made during the public process. EPA should be congratulated for the way it upheld the Obama’s goals of transparency and scientific integrity in the environmental rulemaking. And we hope that other governments should take note of the manner that EPA has handled this process,” concluded Velasco.

Brazil is a leader in the production of sugarcane ethanol, which is widely considered as the most efficient biofuel available today. In 2009, Brazil produced over 7 billion gallons of sugarcane ethanol, most of which is used in Brazil in flex fuel vehicles. As a result of Brazil’s innovative use of sugarcane ethanol in transportation and biomass for cogeneration, sugarcane is the leading source of renewable energy in the nation, representing 16% of the country’s total energy needs. In fact, gasoline has become the alternative in Brazil, reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels lowering emissions. A recent study in the November 2009 edition of the journal Energy Policy indicated that since 1975, over 600 million tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided thanks to the use of ethanol in Brazil.

———

ABOUT UNICA. The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) represents the
top producers of sugar and ethanol in the country’s South-Central region, especially the
state of Sao Paulo, which accounts for about 50% of the country’s sugarcane harvest
and 60% of total ethanol production. UNICA develops position papers, statistics and
specific research in support of Brazil’s sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity sectors. In 2008,
Brazil produced an estimated 565 million metric tons of sugarcane, which yielded 31.3
million tons of sugar and 25.7 billion liters (6.8 billion gallons) of ethanol, making it the
number-one sugarcane grower and sugar producer in the world, and the second-largest
ethanol producer on the planet, behind the United States.

—————-

Brazil Hopes Shell-Cosan Can Boost Ethanol Exports

Date: 04-Feb-10, Reuters from Brazil
Author: Inae Riveras – Analysis

SAO PAULO – Brazil’s ethanol industry, which invested heavily to boost output of the cane-based biofuel, is counting on a tie-up between sugar and ethanol producer Cosan and Royal Dutch Shell Plc to revive its prospects after exports fell short of expectations.

The $21-billion-a-year ethanol joint venture announced by the two companies on Monday will enable Cosan, Brazil’s biggest ethanol maker, to move product more efficiently thanks to Shell’s global fuel distribution and retail system.

Cosan views the venture as a way to make Brazil’s ethanol a global commodity.

But whether that happens will depend largely on outside factors: whether oil is costly enough to make ethanol competitive; whether Brazil’s mills can provide a steady stream of biofuel; and whether key markets such as the United States will be more open to ethanol imports.

“Shell chose ethanol as the renewable fuel they want to be in and it chose Brazil. Whether this will mean more exports will depend on a series of circumstances beyond the companies’ control,” said ethanol expert Eduardo Pereira de Carvalho.

The slow rate of growth for ethanol exports has disappointed Brazil, where more than 450 mills joined the ethanol sector’s expansion drive in recent years.

Some analysts say any growth in ethanol exports will depend on oil prices more than other factor.

“The deal itself does not raise or reduce the economic viability of blending anhydrous ethanol in gasoline. This will be determined by the oil market,” said sugar and ethanol analyst Julio Maria Borges, director at Job Economia.

In 2008, when oil prices reached record highs of $147 per barrel, Brazil exported 5.1 billion liters of ethanol, up sharply from 3.5 billion liters the previous year. Countries simply bought more of the fuel to replace gasoline.

High oil prices together with environmental woes were then feeding discussions about a broader adoption of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels.

But oil prices tumbled as the global credit crisis intensified, and there was a similar decline in foreign interest for the cane-based fuel. Brazilian ethanol exports in 2009 slipped to 3.3 billion liters despite extremely low prices on the Brazilian market.

STEADY SUPPLIES, TARIFFS

If ethanol is economically viable compared to oil, however, Brazilian ethanol exports should benefit from Shell’s global infrastructure, commercial relationships and know-how.

Shell, with distribution centers and 45,000 filling stations around the world, will have access to annual supplies of 2 billion liters of Cosan ethanol.

“Shell will be able to strike long-term deals with clients around the world, something that currently hardly exists, as it will be backed by a big provider,” Borges said.

But the lack of steady supplies from Brazil, which produces 26 billion liters of ethanol a year that are mostly consumed domestically, may trouble potential long-term buyers.

Futures markets for ethanol have been incapable of minimizing producers’ risks. Deals are largely done on a spot basis — both in and outside Brazil. This makes it difficult for buyers and sellers to hedge against market volatility.

Brazil’s government has worked on ways of softening this problem by providing financing to mills to build stocks, which also smoothes out local prices over the year. But the system remains stubbornly inefficient.

“The same old problem will continue. Mills say they will expand production if there’s demand but demand will only be created if there’s the certainty of stable supplies,” said an ethanol expert based in the United States.

A U.S. tariff on imports of cane-derived ethanol is another roadblock to Brazil’s expansion goals. Some in the industry have suggested Shell’s entry into ethanol production in Brazil could mean extra pressure for removal of the tariff.

But it is not clear whether there could be a move in that direction.

“The oil industry was always against the U.S. tariff. The news is that it is now seeing a solution in cane,” said Joel Velasco, the North American representative for Brazil’s Sugarcane Industry Association, Unica.

But the announcement that the biggest-ever foray into biofuels by an oil major would happen in Brazil was a clear sign of preference for the fuel over other options.

“It’s difficult to predict (when exports could rise)… but the strategic meaning of a company the size of Shell to invest here is the most important point,” Carvalho said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 2nd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Honolulu based E A S T – W E S T  C E N T E R

Special East-West Dialogue on China and the Copenhagen climate talks.

The following is a new title in the East-West Dialogue publication series.

Click on the link for further information or to download the PDF file free of charge:

CLIMATE COMMITMENTS TO 2050: A ROADMAP FOR CHINA, by ZhongXiang Zhang with responses by Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Jisun Kim, Raekwon Chung, and Stephen Howes. East-West Dialogue, No. 4. Honolulu: East-West Center, December 2009. 16 pp. Paper.
 www.eastwestcenter.org/pubs/3308

In this issue of East-West Dialogue:

Lead Article
“Climate Commitments to 2050: A Roadmap for China”
ZhongXiang ZHANG, Senior Fellow, East-West Center, provides an exposition of the likely Chinese negotiating position for international climate talks. Zhang discusses the significance of 2030 as a target date for an absolute emissions cap and advocates for three transitional periods of increasing climate obligations before China could meet an absolute emissions caps.

“Prospects for International Climate Negotiations: Copenhagen and Beyond”
GARY CLYDE HUFBAUER, Reginald Jones Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics, and JISUN KIM, Research Assistant, Peterson Institute for International Economics, respond to Zhang and also discuss wider issues in international climate talks and provide their speculation on the prospects for the Copenhagen talks.

“China Is Willing, but on What Terms?”
RAEKWON CHUNG, Climate Change Ambassador, South Korea, discusses the uncertainty of emissions trajectory and the legal nature of a “binding” commitment.

“Common Ground Must Be Found, and Fast”
STEPHEN HOWES, Professor, Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University, focuses on the urgency of making commitments for 2013.

East-West Dialogue, a project of the East-West Center, fosters discussion and debate of key issues in Asia-U.S. economic relations. The Dialogue seeks to develop and promote innovative policy, business, and civic initiatives to enhance this critical partnership. Visit EastWestCenter.org (

 www.eastwestcenter.org/ewdialogue) for more information on the project and participants.
________________________________
The mission of the East-West Dialogue is to generate insights for deepening the Pacific partnership  based on regionwide discussion and debate.

________________________________
Linda Kay Quintana | Senior Editor, Publications | 808.944.7595

East-West Center
1601 East-West Road, Honolulu, Hawai’i 96848-1601
EWC Information: 808.944.7111 | Fax: 808.944.1235
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Posted in Book reviews, China, Hawaii, Reporting from Washington DC

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 31st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Unlike Dobbs, some conservative media think birthers are “nutburgers”
July 22, 2009 6:19 pm ET
 mediamatters.org/research/2009072…

SUMMARY: In contrast to Lou Dobbs, who recently promoted conspiracy theories about President Obama’s birth certificate, numerous conservative media figures have dismissed and ridiculed the so-called “birther” claims.

63 Comments

As Media Matters for America has extensively documented, Lou Dobbs has recently promoted conspiracy theories about President Obama’s birth certificate, joining a throng of media conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who have done so. But not all conservatives have embraced the “birther” cause. Many conservative media figures have dismissed and ridiculed the so-called “birther” claims as “conspiracy theories” that are “embarrassing and destructive” and are espoused by “crazy, nutburger, demagogue, money-hungry, exploitative, irresponsible, filthy conservative imposters.”

For instance:

Joe Scarborough: On the July 22 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Scarborough discussed a video clip in which Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) is challenged by a woman who claims Obama has not produced a birth certificate. Scarborough described those who ascribe to this belief as “cartoon characters” who “would rather, instead of trying to actually figure out what’s happening to their country — the terrible things that are happening economically to their country — they embrace conspiracy theories.” Scarborough marveled that it was “not enough for these people” that Obama’s “has been shown” as well as a birth announcement for Obama in the “Honolulu Advertiser, on the day Barack Obama was born 47 years ago.” Scarborough also compared birth certificate conspiracy theorists to people who believe “the United States government blew up its own buildings and killed its own people on September 11th” and believe that we “never landed on the moon.”

Michelle Malkin: In a December 5, 2008, column, Fox News contributor Malkin compared those who questioned Obama’s citizenship to those who believed Gov. Sarah Palin “didn’t give birth to her youngest son, Trig,” and wrote that a “dangerously large segment of the birth certificate hunters have lurched into rabid Truther territory.” She went on to state:

The most prominent crusader against Obama’s American citizenship claim, lawyer Philip Berg (who, not coincidentally, is also a prominent 9/11 Truther), disputes that Obama was born in Hawaii and claims that Obama’s paternal grandmother told him she saw Obama born in Kenya.

Berg and his supporters further assert that the “Certification of Live Birth” produced by Obama was altered or forged. They claim that the contemporaneous birth announcement in a Hawaii newspaper of Obama’s birth is insufficient evidence that he was born there. (Did a fortune-teller place it in the paper knowing he would run for president?)

Malkin concluded: “I believe Trig was born to Sarah Palin. I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on U.S. soil. I believe fire can melt steel and that bin Laden’s jihadi crew — not Bush and Cheney — perpetrated mass murder on 9/11. What kind of kooky conspiracist does that make me?”

David Horowitz: In a December 8, 2008, column headlined “Obama Derangement Syndrome,” Horowitz, editor of the conservative website FrontPage Magazine, blasted “continuing efforts of a fringe group of conservatives to deny Obama his victory and to lay the basis for the claim that he is not a legitimate president” as being “embarrassing and destructive.” He added: “The fact that these efforts are being led by Alan Keyes, a demagogue who lost a Senate election to the then-unknown Obama by 42 points, should be a warning in itself.”

Michael Medved: Medved, a conservative talk-show host, has reportedly referred to the leadership of the so-called “birther” movement as “crazy, nutburger, demagogue, money-hungry, exploitative, irresponsible, filthy conservative imposters” who are “the worst enemy of the conservative movement.” According to a March 1 Politico article, Medved “mourned”: “It makes us look weird. It makes us look crazy. It makes us look demented. It makes us look sick, troubled, and not suitable for civilized company.”

John Avlon: As Media Matters has documented, on the July 17 edition of CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, the Daily Beast columnist Avlon said of the “birther” movement: “What we have here is Obama derangement syndrome. This is pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism.” In his July 22 Daily Beast column, Avlon wrote of Castle’s confrontation with a “birther”:

It’s a sign that Republican centrists are operating at a disadvantage against the party’s wingnut fringe. There is a reluctance to take on the extreme in a full-fledged confrontation, a fight for the future direction of the Republican Party, for fear of provoking grassroots retaliation in a GOP primary. And in this there a tacit admission that the fringe is starting to overlap with the party’s base, pumped up by talk radio and the Internet, bleeding over into cable news and now town halls.

Avlon added that the exchange “is a glimpse at the ugliest underbelly of American politics: an angry and intolerant Nativism that appeals to people’s paranoid fears of ‘the other.’ Its craziness is starting to seep in at the margins and affect our civil discourse.” Avlon is a Manhattan Institute senior fellow, was director of speechwriting and deputy policy director for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign, and is the author of the book, Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics.

Little Green Footballs (LGF): A well-known conservative blog, LGF regularly mocks the Obama birth certificate conspiracy theorists, describing those who ascribe to these beliefs as “nirthers.” According to “The LGF Dictionary,” “nirthers” are “those who believe in the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama is not a legitimate citizen of the United States. Comes from a misspelling of ‘Birth Certificate’ that appeared on a Nirther website. The conspiracy itself is sometimes referred to as the ‘nirth certifikit’ theory.” In posting a video clip of Castle’s confrontation with a “nirther,” LGF commented: “It’s beyond appalling how popular this insanity is with the GOP base. What the hell is wrong with these people?”

Allahpundit: Allahpundit, a conservative blogger on the website Hot Air, has recently compared the Obama “birth certificate truthers” to the “9/11 Truthers,” writing in a July 20 post about Castle: “Expect these people to play the same role at GOP primary events in 2012 that 9/11 Truthers played at Democratic rallies last year, occasionally cornering the wary candidate with a video camera to ask if he/she ‘supports a new investigation’ and receiving the same vague, wary assurances that of course he/she will be happy to ‘look into it.’ “

Ed Morrissey: Morrissey, another Hot Air blogger, also has debunked the birth certificate rumors. In a December 4, 2008, Hot Air post, Morrissey wrote:

The state of Hawaii has repeatedly insisted that their records show Obama was born in Hawaii, as the Certificate of Live Birth states. The COLB would get any Hawaii native an American passport with no questions asked, even without the official endorsement of the Republican governor and her Department of Health. There is even a contemporaneous birth announcement in a local paper confirming it.

I’m sure the comments section will fill with various conspiracy theories over Indonesian school records, Kenyan births, and so on. None of it — absolutely none — has any real, solid evidence showing that Obama was born anywhere else than Hawaii apart from sheer speculation and hearsay, and even less evidence that Obama’s stepfather renounced Obama’s birthright citizenship, which he didn’t have the power to do anyway. It’s a conspiracy theory spun by conspiracy theorists (Philip Berg is a 9/11 truther) who use their normal thresholds of evidence for this meme.

Andrew Walden: Walden, a conservative media figure, wrote in an April 1 column for Horowitz’s FrontPageMag.com that “[a] fairly impressive internet industry has sprung up claiming that Obama was born in either Kenya or Indonesia. This is nonsense which distracts from the broadly unexplored story of Obama’s upbringing.” Walden added:

Barack Obama was born in Hawai’i, August 4, 1961 at Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu.

Obama’s birth certificate posted online is exactly the same birth certificate everybody in Hawaii gets from the State Department of Health. It is not forged. There is nothing unusual about the design or the texture. In addition to the birth certificate, the August 13, 1961 Honolulu Advertiser also carries an announcement of Obama’s birth. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin also carries the same announcement. Both papers printed an identical list of birth announcements supplied to them by the Hawaii State Department of Health. Conspiracists have made much of the fact that the Territory of Hawaii gave a phony birth certificate in 1904 to Chinese republican leader Sun Yat Sen for diplomatic reasons. But the modern State of Hawaii has never supplied Certification of Live Birth indicating US birth for foreign-born children.

John Hawkins: Hawkins, a conservative blogger and writer, wrote in a June 30 Townhall.com column that while he thinks that “Barack Obama is a shameless liar,” he nevertheless believes: “Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. Granted, not everyone on the Right agrees with this assessment, but nevertheless, it’s so.” Hawkins concluded that the “evidence is as definitive as it gets. Obama has a legitimate birth certificate on file, he released a copy of it to the public, and there is a news clipping that confirms he was born in Hawaii in 1961.”

From the July 22 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: Here’s what I don’t understand about these conspiracy theorists: a birth certificate has been shown. That’s not enough. Here’s the birth certificate that has been shown. This is not enough for people, nor is it enough for these people, who should actually be focusing on policies, focusing on the fact that Washington is stealing their money and their children’s money and their grandchildren’s money. But that’s not enough for these people.

And, it also is not enough for these people that the Honolulu newspaper — hey Bender, what’s the Honolulu newspaper?

MIKE BARNICLE (MSNBC political contributor): Advertiser.

SCARBOROUGH: The Honolulu Advertiser, on the day Barack Obama was born 47 years ago, had a birth announcement for Barack Hussein Obama. Now that is not enough for these people. They would rather be like sea lions barking at waves. They would rather, instead of trying to actually figure out what’s happening to their country — the terrible things that are happening economically to their country — they embrace conspiracy theories. And they make themselves just look like cartoon characters.

— J.M.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 19th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Prologue:

The Dear Leader Kim Jong Il   and The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei seem to present to the world their proud contention of being indeed The Axis of Evil that was originally suggested by former President G.W. Bush. (Bush had there also Saddam Hussein, and John Bolton was claiming also the rights of Fidel Castro, Muammar al-Gaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad. Since then Saddam Hussein is gone and his country is normalizing slowly, and the Bolton three are at various stages of trying to undo their fame.) What is clear is that a country is not evil – only its leader can be evil. He can nevertheless influence his people and the country as a whole can become then dangerously evil. That is what happened to Germany and Austria under Adolf Hitler   – The FUERER or THE LEADER –   and that might happen now to North Korea under Kim Jong Il, while there is hope that this is not the case of Iran where the young people may show that they did not absorb the indoctrination that is being dished out in those mosques.

Enter a new US President – Barack Hussein Obama – and he declares that we do not play anymore the game of blame. There is no evil we should not attempt to talk with, and that was completely fine with us. He indeed tried to address the real problems of the world but Jong Il and Ali Khamenei seem to insist that they cannot be by-passed – they want to be recognized as holdovers   entitled   to the crown of evil.

Enter a fly to the White House, in full view of world TV, and forces President Obama to take a resolute immediate reaction – the fly gets squished!

—————–

The Drama:

The students and younger generation, also the internet enlightened women of Iran, they see the obvious – the elections in which they participated in a symbolic vote for Mr. Moussavi, where highhandedly high-jacked by President Ahmadi-Nejad. They chose to go to the street to protest the fact that their symbolic vote was not counted.

They know that Moussavi was also agreed upon by The Supreme Leader, but they liked the contender’s wife who stood by him during the campaign. This was progress, and they were ripe to submit to slow progress – as long as there will be change. Surely, they would prefer faster change, but change in a positive direction was change nevertheless, and they blessed on it.

The Supreme Leader’s support of Ahmadi-Nejad’s holding onto power – honesty or not – has now the potential of turning the obvious into real rebellion – and this is a clear Iran problem. What should Washington do?

Obama is right – stay the course and stay out. the Supreme Leader with old Nazi style information training, will blame the US if it does or if it does not – but the Iranian people – at least a great part of them – will recognize the present US non-involvement and thus the Leader’s lies. It will strengthen their hand in their conviction that time has come for real change and indeed for a new Iranian revolution – this time without the US having caused it!

The same goes for the UK – stay out because in the past you did enough mischief in that part of the world and non-involvement now is the best way to stage the local people’s own involvement according to their own real interests.

 How does a sigle fly show the way to a wondering US President?

The story actually starts with Rene Descartes lying in bed, sometime in 1628, and watching flies. He was trying to track the flies’ position and he realized that he could describe a fly’s position by inventing coordinate geometry – that was the start of the Cartesian coordinate system and a philosophy with “Rules of the Direction of Mind,” that watching what the church did to Galileo in 1633, was eventually published only in 1701 (Descartes lived 1596 – 1650).

Seemingly, a descendant of that 1628 Cartesian fly entered the White House this week to lead President Obama in his search of what to do with Leaders of Evil.

————-

Some in Washington, like Senator John McCain, are trying to trip President Obama, this while the world is learning of the broken bones of precious team members – Robert Gates, Sonia Sotomayor and Hillary Clinton. Senator McCain would like the US to intervene in Iran and see more killing and direct harm to the US. That is his right of having no responsibility for his positions. We think he also did not contemplate in depth the Cartesian fly’s self-sacrifice. Others thought that Dick Cheney might like see the US in trouble in order to vindicate his own failed policies.

Today’s newspapers are full of stories about US fortifying Hawaii Defenses Against North Korean arms and missile threats. Now that is another yet to be cooked case of raw thinking.

More solid thinking suggests that if change in Iran does occur, there is chance that also it will impact on the nuclear issue, but if repression does not allow for change, there is a chance that the outside world changes and more powers are ready to hold Iran on a shorter leash.

———–

The Epilogue:

Obama – The President of the United States – learned from the fly incident that when a nasty intruder gets close to you – you just squish him. The facts are that he did not get up from his seat to chase out the intruding fly.

North Korea, has no velvet, orange, or green revolution – its youth has been brainwashed and all what they know is to march in lockstep. This is a very sorry situation and in Gilbert & Sullivan language – “they never shall be missed.” On the other hand – in Iran there is a new generation of talented people that might yet bring about change – that is in their own country – or as said if this did not work out – in our countries.

North Korea is a candidate for immediate squishing – Iran is not – but with a caveat!

So, when the first North Korean ship does not stop for inspection as ordered by the UN Security Council, give it short warning and SINK IT. Be ready to take on any other mischief from the Dear Leader and follow him to the end – this is the squishing part. They shall not be missed.

Iran, will watch what goes on with North Korea and learn. The larger lesson is that squishing does happen. The wise is expected to learn from this. The pinpointed study is that people that follow blindly a “Dear Leader” get punished eventually.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Natives Hope Obama Will Be Their President, Too.

By Haider Rizvi from IPS

NEW YORK, Nov 24 (IPS) - During his election campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly said that he cared about the issues facing Native American communities and insisted that they could trust him — pledges that Native leaders are now watching closely as the president-elect appoints a new cabinet and fills other key federal posts.

So far, Obama has named six native political figures to his transition team — half of them assigned to assist in Interior Department policy, budget and personnel changes.

“We’re lucky to have such stellar representatives with people with whom Indian Country has really good relationships,” said Jacqueline Johnson-Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, a nonprofit organisation that represents more than 250 tribes.

Native advocates Mary Smith, Mary McNeil and Yvette Robideaux have been assigned to work on justice, agriculture and health issues, while three current and former attorneys with the Native American Rights Fund — John Echohawk, Keith Harper and Robert Anderson — will advise Obama on changes proposed within the Interior Department.

The Natives, also known as “American Indians”, have their own sovereign governments, which the United States recognises in accordance with its constitution and under treaty obligations. However, as the Native leaders observe, their communities have always suffered from inattention during the transition and early years of past U.S. administrations.

“If appointments and major policy decisions are delayed for extended periods, the long-term issues in Indian Country are left unaddressed and handed on to the next administration,” said Johnson-Pata. .

In her view, “any significant reform efforts must be planned during the transition and start at the beginning of an administration if they are to succeed.”

As he continued to reach out to new voting blocs past summer, Obama made a campaign stop at an Indian reservation in Montana, where he told the audience that, as an African-American, he identified with their struggles.

“I know what it’s like to not always have been respected or to have been ignored and I know what it’s like to struggle and that’s how I think many of you understand what’s happened here on the reservation,” Obama said.

In his speech, Obama added: “A lot of times you have been forgotten, just like African-Americans have been forgotten or other groups in this country have been forgotten.”

Statistics show that the indigenous communities, which constitute about one percent of the U.S. population, are among the most marginalised sections of society with regard to health care, education and employment.

In March 2006 and again in March 2008, a panel of U.N. experts analysed the U.S. government’s treatment of indigenous Americans and ruled that it was guilty of racial discrimination.

In its 2008 report, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) also urged the U.S. to sign onto the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the current administration has continued to reject despite the fact it has been approved by a vast majority of the U.N. member states.

Indigenous rights activists say they hope that the Obama administration would endorse the declaration, which recognised the rights of the indigenous peoples around the world to control their lands and resources and be able to freely practice their belief systems and traditional values without interference from outside forces.

During the Nov. 4 presidential election, a vast majority of Native people voted for Obama, according to Frank LaMere of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, who led the American Indian delegation to the Democratic Convention.

“Obama has stood with us and it is now time that we stand with him,” he said in a statement, describing the Natives’ interest in the political process as unprecedented. “Indian country has responded to the Democratic message of change and the need for urgency.”

“We have many who go without because our leaders have failed us. This election means much to them. Obama understands this while others remain oblivious. Let us, as Native people, help him.”

On the campaign trail in Montana, Obama was adopted as an honourary member of the Crow tribe, a ceremony that native activists say is reserved for special dignitaries. On that occasion, he was given a new name, “Barack Black Eagle”.

Many activists fighting for the rights of indigenous people say they are hoping that the Obama administration would also re-examine the case of Leonard Peltier, the legendary hero of the American Indian Movement who has been behind bars for nearly four decades.

Peltier was arrested after a shootout between American Indian militants and federal agents in Pine Ridge in 1975. Some 60 natives were killed along with two FBI agents. Peltier has consistently refused to claim his innocence and considers his imprisonment an act of racism.

Over the years, a number of world-renowned figures, including the South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for Peltier’s release, but in vain. According to Amnesty International, Peltier is a “prisoner of conscience”.

Just three months before the election, Peltier sent a letter to the president-elect from his jail cell, expressing his interest in Obama’s candidacy. “Your election as president of the United States, where slaves and Indians were long considered less than human under the law, will undoubtedly constitute a historic moment in race relations in the United States,” he wrote.

However, at the same time, he did not hesitate to warn Obama against opportunism. “Symbolism alone will not bring about change,” wrote Peltier. “Our young people, black and Native alike, suffer from police brutality and racial profiling.”

“I am, however, concerned that your recent statement on the Sean Bell verdict, in which the New York police officers who fired 50 shots at a young man on the eve of his wedding were acquitted of criminal charges, displays a rather myopic view of the law,” said Peltier.

On April 26, when asked to explain his views on the case, Obama said: “Well, look, obviously there was a tragedy in New York. I said at the time, without benefit of all the facts before me that it looked like a possible case of excessive force. The judge has made his ruling, and we’re a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down.”

That is not how the hero of the indigenous peoples of the land looks at how the U.S. political and legal system works.

“Until the law is harnessed to protect the victims of state violence and racism, it will serve as an instrument of repression, just as the slave codes functioned to sustain and legitimise an inhuman institution,” Peltier wrote in the letter.

***

Still, Obama has reached out more to the Native community than most others with presidential aspirations.

“We will never be able to undo the wrongs that were committed against Native Americans, but what we can do is make sure that we have a president who’s committed to doing what’s right with Native Americans, being full partners, respecting, honouring, working with you,” Obama told the Native crowd back in May.

“That’s the commitment that I’m making to you, and since now I’m a member of the family, you know that I won’t break my commitment.” he said. The question many Natives are now asking is: Will he?  

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

India’s humble rickshaw goes solar.
by Elizabeth Roche Mon Oct 13, 2008.   NEW DELHI (AFP) – It’s been touted as a solution to urban India’s traffic woes, chronic pollution and fossil fuel dependence, as well as an escape from backbreaking human toil. A state-of-the-art, solar powered version of the humble cycle-rickshaw promises to deliver on all this and more.

The “soleckshaw,” unveiled this month in New Delhi, is a motorised cycle rickshaw that can be pedalled normally or run on a 36-volt solar battery.

Developed by the state-run Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), prototypes are receiving a baptism of fire by being road-tested in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area.

One of the city’s oldest and busiest markets, dating back to the Moghul era, Chandni Chowk comprises a byzantine maze of narrow, winding streets, choked with buses, cars, scooters, cyclists and brave pedestrians.

“The most important achievement will be improving the lot of rickshaw drivers,” said Pradip Kumar Sarmah, head of the non-profit Centre for Rural Development.

“It will dignify the job and reduce the labour of pedalling. From rickshaw pullers, they will become rickshaw drivers,” Sarmah said.

India has an estimated eight million cycle-rickshaws.

The makeover includes FM radios and powerpoints for charging mobile phones during rides.

Gone are the flimsy metal and wooden frames that give the regular Delhi rickshaws a tacky, sometimes dubious look.

The “soleckshaw,” which has a top speed of 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) per hour, has a sturdier frame and sprung, foam seats for up to three people.

The fully-charged solar battery will power the rickshaw for 50 to 70 kilometres (30 to 42 miles). Used batteries can be deposited at a centralised solar-powered charging station and replaced for a nominal fee.

If the tests go well, the “soleckshaw” will be a key transport link between sporting venues at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

“Rickshaws were always environment friendly. Now this gives a totally new image that would be more acceptable to the middle-classes,” said Anumita Roychoudhary of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.

“Rickshaws have to be seen as a part of the solution for modern traffic woes and pollution. They have never been the problem. The problem is the proliferation of automobiles using fossil fuels,” she said.

Initial public reaction to the “soleckshaw” has been generally favourable, and the rickshaw pullers have few doubts about its benefits.

“Pedalling the rickshaw was very difficult for me,” said Bappa Chatterjee, 25, who migrated to the capital from West Bengal and is one of the 500,000 pullers in Delhi.

“I used to suffer chest pains and shortage of breath going up inclines. This is so much easier.

“Earlier, when people hailed us it was like, ‘Hey you rickshaw puller!’ Police used to harass us, slapping fines even abusing us for what they called wrong parking. Now people look at me with respect,” Chatterjee said.

Mohammed Matin Ansari, another migrant from eastern Bihar state, said the new model offered parity with car, bus and scooter drivers.

“Now we are as good as them,” he said.

Indian authorities have big dreams for the “soleckshaw.”

India’s Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal who hailed the invention for its “zero carbon foot print” said it should be used beyond the confines of Delhi.

“Soleckshaws would be ideal for small families visiting the Taj Mahal,” he told AFP.

At present battery-operated buses ferry people to the iconic monument in Agra — but their limited numbers cannot cope with the heavy tourist rush.

CSIR director Sinha said he hoped an advanced version of the “soleckshaw” with a car-like body would become a viable alternative to the “small car” favoured by Indian middle class families.

“Greenhouse gas emissions are showing an increasing trend year on year and 60 percent of this comes from the global transport sector.

“In the age of global warming, the soleckshaw, with improvements, can be successfully developed as competition for all the petrol and diesel run small cars,” Sinha said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

usa010.jpg

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WIP – Starting Labor Day 2008 – Gustav – Just Three Years Later, On-the-Dot, and President Bush Overseas the Surge in KatRitaStan. Mr. McPathetic and the Queen-of-the-Fossil-Carbons, Will Get Anointed Without a Mention of Global Warming.

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

—————-

We are disgusted.

We happen, personally, to love Arizona, Alaska, Louisiana, Hawaii – those are to us the States of the Union that always were an inspiration to us. We took there on trips our young – real Americans – and imprinted lasting memories in their minds. We have been many times to those four States of the Union. I said inspiration because we regard those States as the remaining places were you can still find a Winetou – the figure Karl May wrote about, and who inflamed my imagination back then when I was a young boy in the Europe of the Nazis. Those were the days my own image of America was formed, and I still was not ready to cut lose from those dreams.

We do not shoot at caribous, We do not even smoke in the honky-tonk bar, we love the Amerindians, the Eskimos, and the native Hawaiians. We watched their love for the land and learned from it. We even visited the Vodoo lady of the spirits in New Orleans, and I was moved to look for her remaining sisters in many places of Latin America, Africa and Asia – even in Scandinavia.

We looked at the way nature was ruined because of oil and coal. Yes, we did not move to live there permanently. We still think that New York and California are the States we prefer to live in. But I can say that I did live for a year in Arizona, and spent the most memorable night of my life in Alaska.

The year in Arizona was with the American Graduate School for International Management (AGSIM or Thunderbird in short) when we developed personal relationship with Thomas Banyaka – the so called foreign minister of the Hopi Indians – the man who was let into Sweden on the basis of his home-made passport, that included an eagle feather, for the sake of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Environment.

But the that night I mentioned in Alaska (one night of many spent in that State) is even clearly of greater interest to me – really unforgettable.

Twenty years ago I made a wrong turn on the Matanuska Glacier (in between the towns of Wasila and Palmer). It was the young ladies of Wasila that spent the night with my wife who luckily was wiser, and did not descend from the parking lot when I went to take, very late afternoon, a picture of the glacier. I wanted also to finish the film, and asked another visitor to take a shot of me with the glacier – as the last shot on the film. An hour later that lady told my wife that “she took my last picture.” Those young Wasila ladies knew how to initiate my rescue and stayed with my wife while waiting for an army (or was it the National Guard?) helicopter to come with day break to search for me. I spent the night stuck behind an ice-rock throwing pieces at shadows to find out if those were not some animal. I literally owe my life to those ladies of Wasila. Was any of them a sister of Sarah Palin? I assume that by that time she was already out to college in Hawaii or Idaho, or was she back on summer vacation? Who knows by now? The Alaska newspapers wrote about my rescue the following day, and a month later I even got a letter from a local army official that wanted to make sure that I was OK and he can close the file on my rescue. I mention this just to say that there is nothing in my past to indicate anything but admiration to those energetic young ladies of Wasila that knew how to handle the situation and call for help from the right quarters, and to those that implemented that rescue. They saved my life, because, as they imagined I will do, I did indeed veer in the wrong direction believing I can reach a highway were I saw moving lights – but which was totally unreachable from where I was. 12 hours later I was rescued by being pulled up with ropes, by a helicopter crew that used body-heat sensors.

And those huge cauliflowers and cabbages, pumpkins of Wasila that grow there in the summer with all those extra light-hours the sun provides? Let me stop here please.

But then, we have a son that was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and who spent his first half year in a crib in Glendale, Arizona. He is now 34 years old and has done, and does, a lot for animals. He would never think of shooting at them. On the other hand, Sarah Palin went with her father to shoot caribou before breakfast.

—————-

We are disgusted because of all that talk of “YOU CANNOT CONTROL MOTHER NATURE.”

***

But we corrupted “Mother Nature.” This is not a nature catastrophe. WE DID IT.
We did it by putting all that CO2 into the atmosphere, and by destroying the barriers in front of the shores.

We caused global warming and Alaska ice is melting away. The Seas are rising.

We pulled oil out of the ground in the Gulf of Mexico and caused the land of Louisiana to sink further.

These misdeeds get their punishment while the GOP continues to march under the flag of enhancement of oil production and use.

Louisiana is just the first State to pay for these misdeeds. Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas are in line.

The Whole World will have to pay for US government’s insistence on avoiding to see the obvious realities.

————–

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

John McCain is Older Than Alaska:
The Senator from Arizona is 23 years older than America’s 49th state.

Posted by Isaac Fitzgerald, AlterNet, August 29, 2008.

The Wall Street Journal Says Senator McCain is a former fighter pilot – so he loves to take risks.

*****

Amazing Today’s Financial Times Print Edition (Saturday, August 30, 2008) – A clear Sign Of Having Been Caught in Complete Surprise.

The inside of the paper deals with the change from the Clinton party leadership to the Obamas. “Bedecked in Denver” and the Ingram Pinn cartoon showing “Turning The Page.”

Then The Editorial already scrambles to – “Battle of the Conventions: The Democrats did well, Next up, the Republicans.” … “Most appealingly, Obama wants to unite not just his party but his country.”… “No sooner had the Democrats wrapped up their convention – Mr. McCain congratulated Mr. Obama on a job well done – than Mr. McCain recaptured the headlines and stunned many in the party and the country at large with his choice of running mate…. Above all, young and inexperienced, is she a plausible president?”

A heroic effort was seemingly needed to put on the front page: “PALIN TO SHAKE UP ELECTION FIGHT IN US” and back this up on page 2 with “McCain Takes Big Gamble on Palin: Suburban Mom Who Took On Her Own Party.”

The obvious – Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in Denver the night before was relegated to a secondary story. The media chatter was about the 44-year-old governor of Alaska. Mr. McCain has managed to grab the media’s attention in his unexpected move.

“Political insiders were divided between those that saw a masterstroke that could transform the race in Mr. McCain’s favor, and others who thought it disatrous.”

David Gergen, who advised Republican and Democrat White house, said on CNN “you could have knocked me over with a feather.” “John McCain likes to take risks and this is one of the biggest gambles I’ve seen in a long, long time.”

{OK John, you can take gambles with your campaign – but do you think the voters will take gambles with their future? Will they agree to have as alternate commander in chief to a 72 year old gentleman a kid conservative social-warrior when the country may indeed face not the issue of birth but the issues of death? Climate change, poverty and diseases in developing countries, the competition with the new powers of China, India and Russia? Reorganizing Alaska’s oil money is no credible experience when it comes to this sort of issues.

What about the following news:

“In the wake of the apparent retreat of ice in the Arctic Circle, the U.S. Coast Guard called for the need for vessels capable of breaking through the arctic ice. The U.S. fleet currently has three ships capable of performing such duties; one is currently under repair. Meanwhile, in search of new resources in the frozen north, Russia is expanding the size of its icebreaking fleet to 14.” Does the young lady have any idea how to respond to this problem brewing in her backyard?

or – “A defense deal was signed by Russia and Syria, which may lead to Russian defense missiles on Syrian soil. Some observers fear this may lead to a Middle East “Cold War,” with the West supporting Israel and Russia, Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said, “We are ready to co-operate with Russia in any project that can strengthen its security,”

or – “The US turned down a request by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to purchase the Boeing 767 aircraft, which can be used for mid-air refueling, amid fears that the sale would appear to support an Israeli strike on Iran” }

—-

The Japan Times online has no word yet on Palin, their US article is still “Obama Takes The Party.”

***

After above introduction, let us see what US reporters, with more access to sources, and with the benefit of another 6 hours of time, could come up regarding the big McCain (McPathetic) willing gamble. If he is successful, and god forbids something happens to him, heshowed he is willing to gamble with the future of all of us. This might indeed be a sign he himself is already beyond the age of becoming a solid leader of his country.

One Last Word To The Conservative Social Bunch that Is Trying To Run Away With America;

GOD IS SPELLED WITH A “D” – CLEARLY NOT WITH A “P”

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

ANALYSIS: With His VP Pick, McCain Reclaims His Maverick Image.

Advisers say John McCain had hoped to shake up the race. In choosing as his running mate Sarah Palin — a virtually unknown Washington outsider — he succeeded.

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 30, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 29 — John McCain’s advisers predicted weeks ago that the presumptive Republican nominee would use his national convention week to try to recapture his image as a maverick reformer and shake up the presidential race. He did just that Friday with his surprise choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

McCain’s selection of the nationally untested Palin is the most unlikely choice of a running mate since George H.W. Bush tapped then-Sen. Dan Quayle in 1988, a move as risky as it was bold. The decision brings the senator from Arizona immediate dividends with his base and eventually, perhaps, with swing voters. But it comes at potentially significant cost to his effort to discredit Democratic nominee Barack Obama as unprepared for the presidency.

The choice of Palin, the first woman named to a Republican presidential ticket, adds another chapter to a campaign that, mostly on the Democratic side, has been about breaking down racial and gender barriers in America. McCain’s hope is that, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) now on the sidelines, Palin can help close a sizable gap with Obama among female voters that threatens to block his path to the White House.

***



Picking Palin also helps McCain consolidate his party’s conservative base, which has been at best lukewarm toward his candidacy. The governor’s conservative credentials are not in doubt, whether on {opposing even in cases of rape or incest} abortion or {promoting} gun rights or {standing up against} gay rights. The announcement of her elevation to the Republican ticket brought an outpouring of enthusiasm from the right flank of the GOP and will assure a more energized convention next week in St. Paul, Minn.


But what tipped the balance toward Palin was that she gives McCain a partner with a record of challenging the establishment in her own party and in Anchorage, reinforcing the case that he would be more fearless and effective than Obama in taking on special interests in Washington.

“I have found the right partner to help me stand up to those who value their privileges over their responsibilities, who put power over principle, and put their interests before your needs,” McCain said in introducing Palin on Friday. “I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies; someone who has fought against corruption and the failed policies of the past.”

***

But in turning to Palin, who is halfway through her first term as governor and who previously served as mayor of the small town of Wasilla, outside Anchorage, McCain risks ceding the most effective argument he and fellow Republicans have made against Obama. For months, Republicans have attacked the senator from Illinois as not ready to be president. Now McCain has put someone who Democrats argue has even less experience one election and a heartbeat away from the presidency.

He also has gambled that the governor of a geographically large but sparsely populated state can make the transition to the national stage, with no opportunity for an off-Broadway tryout. Unlike some of the established politicians who were believed to be under consideration, Palin is a total newcomer to the national spotlight and thus vulnerable to making the kind of mistakes that would raise questions about McCain’s judgment.

But Mark Salter, one of McCain’s closest confidants, said Friday that the campaign will argue that Palin’s experience actually exceeds Obama’s, both as an executive and as a hard-charging reformer willing to take on not just special interests but her own party as well. “Obama has no such record,” Salter said.

McCain’s campaign has exuded confidence of late after a month in which it pounded Obama as an elitist and a lightweight celebrity. But the choice of Palin hints at the underlying anxiety within its inner circle that the fundamentals of this election year still favor Obama and the Democrats. McCain was looking for ways to counter the Democrats’ argument that he is merely an extension of President Bush and concluded that he needed a game-changing decision, with all the risks that entailed.

He had safer and more conventional options, although those perhaps became less attractive as he watched the Democrats celebrate Obama’s historic nomination in Denver.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was one of those alternatives, although the uproar over the many homes McCain owns perhaps made the wealthy businessman a problematic choice. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was another, a conservative with blue-collar roots. But the more Minnesota looks like an uphill climb for McCain, the less Pawlenty might have been able to do for the GOP ticket.

cCain’s heart may have been with two supporters of abortion rights: former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a fellow Vietnam War veteran and an old McCain pal from their days in the House, and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut who has been a regular traveling companion of McCain’s on the campaign trail.

The choice of either, however, could have blown apart the Republican convention over the abortion issue. Lieberman, in particular, would have been a problematic pick. He and McCain agree on little beyond the Iraq war and foreign policy, but his selection would have reinforced the closeness between McCain and Bush.

For all the enthusiasm Palin’s selection generated among conservative constituencies, many GOP strategists were privately bewildered by McCain’s decision.

***

One Republican strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid view, said in an e-mail, “I would rather be arguing with conservatives about abortion than with the Democrats about a lack of experience on our own ticket.”

“She really destroys the ‘not ready’ mantra,” another strategist noted.

But other Republicans believe Palin could help the ticket in the industrial states of the Midwest if she is seen as they believe she will be: a working mother of strong character and convictions, and a fresh voice from outside Washington calling for an end to business as usual.

Her Western conservatism, they said, could also provide the ticket an added boost in the Rocky Mountain states, which Democrats have targeted this year. Obama is competing hard in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana. The presence of an Alaskan and an Arizonan on the Republican ticket may be reassuring to undecided Western voters.

The harsh Democratic reaction to her underscored the stakes for Palin. For all her attractive attributes, she is so little known that the first side that succeeds in defining her nationally may win the battle. Democratic leaders and Obama spokesman Bill Burton attacked her as an inexperienced right-winger who should not be trusted with the second-highest office in the land.

Republicans believe the fierceness of the Democratic attacks could backfire.

Obama, however, declined to join such attacks and even distanced himself from his campaign’s rhetoric. Clinton offered congratulations to Palin and only mild criticism.

David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, described Palin as a politician “with a compelling story” who is likely to be an effective campaigner. But, he said, she will be campaigning on McCain’s agenda, which he argued is a continuation of Bush’s. “Our view is that Obama’s and McCain’s agendas are on the ballot,” he said.

That is always the case in presidential campaigns. In the end, vice presidential candidates generally make little difference. But Friday’s uproar over Palin — positive and negative — says this is one pick that, at least in the short term, might make a difference.

The Washington Post online has much information on Sarah Palin, the Wasilla Warriors basketball star nicknamed “Sarah Barracuda” – a fme that stuck with her in her political life that spanned from the mayoralty of this small town of 7,000 to the Governorship of the 600,000 people, oil rich, State of Alaska. Please see:
 www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con…

The moniker – “Sarah Barracuda” – was revived once again in 2003, when Alaska’s governor, whom she would later unseat, appointed her to a state oil-and-gas commission. As a brand-new member, she challenged the ethics of the panel’s leader, the chairman of state’s Republican Party, forcing him ultimately to resign. {In effect the whole political class of this oil greased State is under suspicion of misconduct. Its Senior US Senator and its only Representative to the House in the US Congress are now under indictment that relates to money and oil favors. So, coming in as a novice and speaking up against some individual superiors, while continuing to safeguard the interests of big oil is rather a sign of rear guard work to save the oil interests when such exagerated misdeeds – like the famous bridge to nowhere – got disclosed to the US population at large – by others.}

Since long before she became Alaska’s youngest — and first female — governor 20 months ago, Sarah Louise Heath Palin has been making her mark as an unlikely upstart. Yesterday, she did it again, accepting Sen. John McCain’s surprise offer to be his running mate.

McCain, who regards himself as an independent-minded Republican, liked what he heard about her. Her evangelical Christian faith — she believes in creationism and is adamantly opposed to abortion — may help him court skeptical social conservatives. And the fact that her eldest son joined the Army and is leaving soon for Iraq reinforces McCain’s own military heroism. He met her previously only once, and yesterday summoned her to Dayton Ohio to make her his political bride.

***

Born in Idaho, Palin became an Alaskan as an infant when her parents, Chuck and Sally Heath, hauled their young family and their belongings up the Alaskan Highway in search of adventure. They settled eventually in Wasilla, about 45 miles north of Anchorage. Palin’s official biography describes it as a place with a “reputation for junky yards and cranky land-owners who didn’t mind using the serious end of a shotgun to run off trespassers.” Ivan Moore, a veteran political pollster in Anchorage, described Wasilla as “the most fearsomely conservative region of the state.”

The family would go on camping trips to hunt moose, bear and sometimes wild sheep, according to Adele Morgan, a friend since childhood. Palin is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, and even today, as governor, she fishes for salmon .

Kaylene Johnson, a journalist whose biography of the governor was published this year. Palin’s father was her track coach, and she played on the softball team, but her real passion was basketball.

“She doesn’t like sitting on the sidelines,” said Kathlene Johnson, a journalist whose biography of the governor was published this year, that is why she joined active sports.

Her mother, meanwhile, made sure that Sundays were for church.

Palin entered the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant and won, playing the flute for her talent. She went on to compete for Miss Alaska and was a runner up.

She began to date Todd Palin, a part Yup’ik Eskimo who grew up in the bush of a native Alaskan village, when he transferred to Wasilla’s high school to play basketball. She went off to college, studying first in Hawaii before transferring to the University of Idaho, where she majored in journalism with a minor in political science.

Not long after she returned to Wasilla, she and Todd Palin eloped at the local courthouse — 20 years ago yesterday — recruiting two strangers from across the street to serve as witnesses.

A commercial fisherman and “World” champion snowmobile racer, Todd Palin has worked as an oilfield worker for BP on Alaska’s North Slope. He now works for a union.

Their first child, Track, was born in 1989. Their youngest, Trig, was born just four months ago; consistent with her opposition to abortion, she continued the pregnancy after learning early on that her baby had Down syndrome.

She was 28 when she set her sights on the Wasilla City Council. A social conservative in tune with the town, Palin easily won a seat, and the issues tended to revolve around garbage collection and the local police force. Along the way, she made an enemy of her political patron. She then ousted the three-term incumbent Republican mayor, winning by 211 votes, according to her biography.

In 2002, Palin narrowly lost a bid for lieutenant governor, running as a supporter of then-Gov. Frank Murkowski. Her reward was an appointment to the powerful Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the state’s energy industries. Within months of assuming the $115,000-a-year job, Palin castigated her fellow commissioner, Randy Ruedrich, then the chairman of the state Republican Party, saying he was conducting political business on state time. She sparked an investigation that led to his resignation and a $12,000 fine.

“Randy Reudrich served as the very powerful, king-making, top-dog chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska,” Moore said. “This was what forged her reputation.”

In 2006, Palin went after Murkowski, defeating the governor in a GOP primary before winning in November. The election put into the governor’s mansion a pro-life executive who is opposed to stem cell research, favors the teaching of creationism in public schools and is a longtime advocate of hunters’ rights.

As governor, Palin has played down her social views. Instead, she has focused on the powerful oil industry, helping to impose higher taxes on its soaring profits and pushing to construct a massive new natural gas pipeline.

“She’s conservative in ideology, but she’s very practical,” said lobbyist Paul Fuhs, who battled Palin over the gas line and eventually reached a compromise. “What you see is what you get. She’s very upfront.”

One of Palin’s first official acts as governor was to sell on eBay a gubernatorial jet that Murkowski had bought.

But she has angered two of Alaska’s leading Republicans — Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young — by refusing to support their decades-long practice of securing federal money for the state, including Young’s effort to obtain $233 million for a structure dubbed the “Bridge to Nowhere” by critics because it would have connected a small town with an island populated with 50 people. In her short time in state office, she has repeatedly thwarted Stevens’s and Young’s interests and, at times, challenged their candidates — including their children. {These are the two Alaskans who were Washington powerhouses and who face now the courts – they were on many people’s eye-bull targets.}

So far, her popularity among her constituents is untarnished. In the most recent state survey, four out of five Alaskans said they support her, according to Moore. How that will translate nationally is not yet clear.

***

In 1984, Walter Mondale’s choice of Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate shattered a glass ceiling as old as the republic, thrilled feminists and helped create a gender gap among voters that has aided Democrats ever since. Now comes John McCain, 24 years later, and picks Sarah Palin for his national ticket, and this time, it is the conservatives who think they have seized the political advantage.

“It’s basically the equivalent of a midnight raid behind enemy lines,” said Juleanna R. Glover, a GOP strategist with ties to the McCain campaign. “Hillary said she made 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. Well, McCain just shattered it.”

Serrin M. Foster, president of Feminists for Life, a nonpartisan group to which Palin has belonged since 2006, said the governor’s sudden political ascent demonstrates how women are making gains, regardless of their ideology. “The early feminists worked for the rights of women to vote and our right to life,” Foster said yesterday. “This is one more step in a long march for women’s history.”

Debbie Dingell, a loyal Clinton backer and the wife of Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), said she had been talking to women all day yesterday who felt “insulted” by the move. “This is just sheer political pandering,” she said. “I don’t think women are going to buy it.”

Polling data suggest that Obama has the Democrats’ traditional advantage among women at the moment. Washington Post-ABC News polling this year indicates that nearly six in 10 women call themselves either Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents, and in the latest Post-ABC poll, 55 percent of female voters supported Sen. Barack Obama, and 37 percent supported McCain.

In 2004, women went for John F. Kerry by a slim 51 percent to 48 percent but were more solidly Democratic in the three previous elections.

The extent of Palin’s appeal will probably be determined by which side — McCain’s or Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s — defines the relatively unknown politician in the weeks to come. Republicans hope to portray her as a down-to-earth reformer and mother of five, who chose to sell off the Alaska governor’s jet and instead drive her family around the state.

————

On TV I saw a woman comentator saying that the Alaska Governor has the “parts” but she has no record of standing for women issues. I also saw other women that were brought in to speak for the Republican side on programs like Wolf Blitzer on CNN, and literally could not be shut up. He was asking a question and they were simply ratling their very conservative views. On the other hand, the Democrats were shy of being agressive. They had to listen to tirades of what great experience this young politician has managed to accumulate under her belt.

We heard a lot about about guts. I was wondering if anyone was going to ask anything about her position on the Russia-Georgian divide, after all Alaska is a fault-line between the US and Russia and Wassila is a name harking back to the days that Russians were in abundance in Alaska. Clearly something to think about these days of Russian efforts to regain terrain in countries where Russians were planted in the past.

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

McCain’s Choice of Palin Is a Risk.

by: Peter Wallsten, The Los Angeles Times, Saturday 30 August 2008.

She could attract conservative Christians but not necessarily the women who backed Hillary Clinton. And some voters may question McCain’s decision-making style.

Denver – American voters on Friday began learning about Sarah Palin. But the selection of an obscure Alaska governor as the Republican vice presidential nominee also offers clues about the leadership style of the man who placed her on the ticket.

Though John McCain clearly concluded that Palin could attract female voters and grab his campaign some Barack Obama-style media buzz, he also is taking a risk that in elevating a largely unknown figure, he undermines the central theme of his candidacy that he puts “country first,” above political calculations.

For a candidate known to possess a quick temper and an unpredictable political streak, the decision raises questions about how McCain would lead — whether his decisions would flow from careful deliberations or gut checks in which short-term considerations or feelings outweigh the long view.

“Americans like risk-takers, but they also want to know that in times of crisis, you’re going to be calm,” said Matthew Dowd, who was a senior campaign strategist for President Bush but is neutral in the McCain-Obama race.

“Americans don’t necessarily want somebody in a time of crisis to be overly emotional,” Dowd said. “That’s the balance that John McCain’s going to have to show the public.”

The Palin risk also has the potential to reap big rewards.

Her presence on the ticket as a strongly antiabortion mother of five — her infant son has Down syndrome — promises to energize evangelical voters who have been skeptical of McCain.

Already, some top conservative Christian leaders who criticized McCain in the past have proclaimed enthusiasm for the pick.

Moreover, as a hunter, a member of the National Rifle Assn. and an avid snowmobiler, Palin appeals to many facets of the GOP base.

McCain’s choice of Palin strikes a contrast with Obama’s running-mate selection of Joe Biden, a longtime U.S. senator whose foreign policy credentials and working-class roots seemed to fill important gaps in Obama’s resume and political style.

***



That is not to say that voters always want the deliberative approach. McCain’s popularity stems partly from his independent style, whereas Obama has been accused of being too professorial and failing to connect with middle-class voters on a personal level.

Still, for McCain, who turned 72 on Friday and has had bouts with the most serious form of skin cancer, the priority in his running-mate selection was picking someone voters could envision becoming commander in chief should something befall him as president.

Or so it had seemed.

As of midweek, according to GOP sources, Republicans believed that the Arizona senator had narrowed his choices to more-seasoned contenders: Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty, popular with conservatives, was viewed as the safe bet; Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, would have angered the party base but was generally considered qualified.

How McCain settled on Palin, whom he first met six months ago, remains a mystery outside his small inner circle of advisors.

She doesn’t seem an ideal fit for a campaign that has focused intensely on foreign policy expertise and has attacked Obama for his relative lack of experience in that area.

At 44, she is three years younger than Obama and 21 years younger than Biden. She was elected governor in 2006 and formerly was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 7,000 or so.

McCain apparently made his decision after a telephone conversation with Palin last weekend and a face-to-face meeting Thursday at his home in Sedona, Ariz.

“On its face, it looks like a gut decision,” said a Republican strategist who requested anonymity when discussing McCain’s judgment. “But it also speaks to a very hyper-political decision. Obviously, he doesn’t have any history with Sarah Palin. He doesn’t know her. It seems to be a calculated push toward gaining women voters.”

Another Republican with close ties to the McCain campaign said Friday that the pick reflected McCain’s penchant for going with his gut — even if such gambles can lead him to the wrong choice. The Republican felt uncomfortable repeating talking points distributed by the McCain campaign, which argued that Palin’s role as commander of the Alaska National Guard and her Army son’s imminent deployment to Iraq makes her “ready to be president” and helps her “understand what it takes to lead our nation.”

“This is a guy who takes big gambles,” said the Republican, who requested anonymity when talking about McCain. “But we’re talking about somebody who is 72 running for president, and I don’t know if you gamble with those decisions, do you? It’s not like he was 20 points behind.”

The surprise pick underscored a go-it-alone style that often has alienated McCain’s Senate colleagues — and left them scratching their heads.

Many Republicans struggled Friday to praise McCain’s choice, simply because they knew little about Palin. In one awkward exchange on CNN, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who had been mentioned as a dark-horse candidate, said she didn’t know the Alaska governor.

Hutchison was one of several Republican women who had been mentioned as possible running mates for McCain, including former business executives Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina.

Democrats on Friday said McCain had passed over more qualified contenders, such as Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine.

Polls show that McCain could improve his standing among women.

Though he is winning 47% of the white female vote, there is room for him to exploit the disaffection of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton backers who have not warmed to Obama. And Palin could win McCain more support from working-class women.

But it is not clear that Palin would pull in voters who had been drawn to Clinton’s advocacy for women’s rights — including abortion rights — and her decades of experience.

Palin began her courtship of that constituency Friday, invoking the legacy of Geraldine Ferraro, who, as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984, became the first woman to run on a national major-party ticket. Palin also pledged to finish Clinton’s work and “shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”

If she succeeds in drawing more female voters and gains acceptance as a potential commander in chief, Palin’s selection will have paid off. But if her image wilts under the most intense scrutiny of her life, McCain’s gut could prove to be his downfall.

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Other Points of view:

An Ex-Beauty Queen for VP: Political Risk or Political Genius?
By Heather Gehlert, AlterNet. Posted August 30, 2008.
 www.alternet.org/election08/96989…

Sarah Palin and Feminists for Life
By Ruth Rosen, AlterNet. Posted August 30, 2008.
 www.alternet.org/election08/96991…

How the Republicans Win
by: Robert Parry, Consortium News . Posted August 29, 2008.http://www.truthout.org/article/how-republicans-win

The Wall Stret Journal writes: “Palin Has Long Experience Dealing With Big Oil in Home State.” She gave $500 million to the industry to provide incentives to induce work on a pipeline that the industry was slow to pick up. She also approached ExxonMobil about the Point Thompson oil-and-gas field, one of the largest undeveloped fields in the US, for failing to develop quickly enough. – if you wonder – the company has not drilled a well there – a new well – since 1982. She wants to drill in ANWAR so she had to do this “shake up” of ExxonMobil.” No result yet obviously (for different reasons) in any of this. But WSJ is happy about the attention.

If this is energy policy – I guess Al Gore is wrong, and he said in Denver: “the carbon fuels industry – big oil and coal – have a 60-year lease on the Republican Party.”

OK – there is a lot here that the upcoming two months of campaigning will have to dig into – bui hopefully the voters will not white-wash the findings because they fall in love with an atractive young woman. Yes, elections are about emotions and this has in it the kernel of the undoing of the future of the world – not just the USA.

and from Senator McCain:

My Friends,
I am honored to announce that I have chosen Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as my choice for the Republican nominee for Vice President. As a father with three daughters, I can’t express how proud I am to choose the first female Republican Vice-Presidential nominee.

Sarah Palin is a trailblazer and a reformer. As the first female governor of Alaska, she challenged a corrupt system {of old style Republicans we assume} and has been a tireless advocate for reform – passing a landmark bill on ethics reform {we assume in her dealings with the Oil and Gas Conservation Agency of Alaska that she headed thanks to a plum from Governor Murkowsky whom she unseated later on}. She has taken on the old politics in Alaska and reformed the state’s energy industry {we assume the facts will be provided later on}. She rejects wasteful pork barrel spending. She’s fearless – exactly the type of leader I want at my side and the type of leadership we will bring to Washington.

My friends, together Sarah Palin and I make the strongest presidential ticket. We’re shaking things up in this campaign – and Governor Palin and I are ready to bring real reform to Washington.

The polls indicate this will be a tight race as we head into the fall campaign against Senators Obama and Biden.

———–
and from Governor Sarah Palin:

Dear Friend,

I’m honored and humbled to join this historic campaign as John McCain’s running mate. I feel privileged to join a man I admire and the man I know is ready to lead our country as the next president.

Some of life’s greatest opportunities come unexpectedly, and this is certainly the case for me. I never set out to run for office. But life has taken me on a course that first led to the Alaska Governor’s office and now the country’s first female Republican vice presidential candidate.

I want you to know that John McCain and I will challenge the status quo in Washington. We’re ready to address our nation’s great challenges – from reducing our dependence on foreign oil to cutting wasteful spending and creating good jobs for Americans. I look forward to working with him to achieve every goal he has set out during this campaign to improve the lives of all Americans.

As the mother of a son serving in the U.S. Army and the commander of Alaska’s National Guard, there is no doubt in my mind that John McCain is prepared to serve as our next Commander in Chief.

What I admire most about John McCain is his unwavering ability to put our country first and to ask for nothing in return for his decades of service. He’s shown his resolve, toughness and strength of heart in the darkest of places; all in service to his country. This speaks volumes about the type of selfless leadership John McCain will bring to the White House.

Our team is ready to lead the country as the next President and Vice President of the United States. We’re ready to win in November and we won’t be able to do it without your support. If you want change in Washington, then John McCain and I are asking for your support.
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The Wall Street Journal was totally unaware of what is coming and please see what their editorial of August 28, 2008 said about Alaska; then compare with what Fred Barnes wrote just two days later, August 30, 2008:

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And Gail Collins in The New York Times looks how McCain Baked his Alaska.

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