links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter



Posted on on August 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

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;



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:…

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.


Other Points of view:

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

Sarah Palin and Feminists for Life
By Ruth Rosen, AlterNet. Posted August 30, 2008.…

How the Republicans Win
by: Robert Parry, Consortium News . Posted August 29,

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.

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:



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



Posted on on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (…

Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008

Cabinet trio visit Yasukuni.

By KAZUAKI NAGATA, Staff writer, Japan Times online.

Cabinet ministers and at least 53 Diet members visited Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on surrender day Friday while Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and two key ministers opted to keep their distance from the contentious landmark, which served as Japan’s spiritual pillar during the war.

Fukuda, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura all refrained from visiting the Shinto shrine, conforming with Fukuda’s moderate stance of not antagonizing China and South Korea.

The shrine, which honors Japan’s 2.47 million war dead, as well as Class A war criminals, is regarded by many parts of Asia as a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism. Friday marked the 63rd anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender and is an emotional day for many Japanese.

The 63rd anniversary of Japan’s surrender, Former nationalistic Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe also paid their respects Friday.

Koizumi was notorious for making annual visits to the shrine while prime minister from 2001 to 2006, including on surrender day in his final year. Each visit provoked harsh outcries from China and South Korea.

Joining them Friday were farm minister Seiichi Ota, Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka, consumer affairs minister Seiko Noda and nationalist Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who went for a ninth year in a row.

Noda, often regarded as having the best chance of becoming Japan’s first female prime minister, previously visited the shrine when she was posts minister.

When asked if she felt awkward about coming to the shrine while Fukuda did not, Noda said his decision was based on his opinion and the Cabinet was not told to refrain.

“People have different religious views, so (going to a shrine) should be freely allowed,” said Lower House member Yoshinobu Shimamura, who heads a nonpartisan group that visits the shrine together. Shimamura led 52 other Diet conservatives on the annual visit.

Despite the scorching weather, the shrine attracted a myriad of visitors, many there to witness the lawmakers’ visit.

The shrine served as the backbone for the Shinto fervor that drove Japan’s war. Dead soldiers were enshrined there as gods who protected the country, and many relatives of the war dead still go to Yasukuni to remember loved ones even 63 years after the end of the war.

A 56-year-old man from Ishikawa Prefecture who requested anonymity said Yasukuni’s supporters and detractors both have their points, and it is difficult to say what’s right regarding the politicians’ visits.

The prime minister and other ministers may need to be careful about expressing their views too much because “it is a fact that visiting Yasukuni has caused problems,” he said.

On the other hand, while asserting an understanding of other countries’ viewpoints, he said they should not be so critical of a “domestic” issue.


Fukuda sticks to neutral venues: Prime minister honors nation’s war dead at nonreligious Budokan, Chidorigafuchi ceremonies.

By MASAMI ITO, Staff writer Japan Times online.
Speaking at the annual ceremony to commemorate Japan’s war dead at Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday touched on the country’s wartime responsibility to its neighbors and renewed the nation’s pledge to never again wage war.

Friday marked the 63rd anniversary of the public radio address made by Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Showa, announcing Japan’s surrender, ending World War II.

Fukuda, echoing several of his predecessors, expressed “deep remorse” to all of the war dead, adding that Japan caused “tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.”

Fukuda, widely known for his relatively dovish stance toward Asia, did not visit the contentious war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, which many parts of Asia in particular regard as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

Instead, he attended the war dead commemoration ceremony and visited the religiously unaffiliated Chidorigafuchi war memorial, near Yasukuni, dedicated to unknown Japanese service members.

The national ceremony at Nippon Budokan Hall is held every Aug. 15 in honor of the 2.3 million Japanese service members and 800,000 Japanese civilians who died in the war, including those killed by massive U.S. air raids on major cities and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“We have not forgotten for even a moment that the peace and prosperity of today was created because of the sacred sacrifices of those who lost their precious lives in the war,” Fukuda said during the ceremony.

Others in attendance included Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, lawmakers from various parties, the speaker of the Lower House and the president of the Upper.

“Looking back on history, I earnestly hope the horrors of war will not be repeated,” the Emperor said.

“Together with the public, I pay a heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives on the battlefield and fell in the ravages of war, and pray for world peace and further development of our country.”

According to the health ministry, 4,579 relatives of the war dead attended the ceremony. More than 60 years after the war, their numbers are dwindling at the annual ceremony. Nearly half are 64 years old or older.

The oldest living relative is 95 years old but asks that his name be withheld. The youngest are two 9-year-old great-grandchildren of fallen servicemen.

During the ceremony, House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono urged the government to build a nonreligious war memorial hall to replace Yasukuni Shrine.

In 2002, Fukuda himself proposed such a hall, while stressing it could coexist with Yasukuni, not replace it.

Fukuda’s proposal, however, was shelved by conservative politicians who feared it would diminish the shrine’s role.

“The government should seriously consider establishing a memorial facility that is not based on a particular religion and one where everyone can unite and pay tribute,” Kono said. “Our nation and our neighboring countries still have unresolved issues related to history that have become a thorn and are causing friction.”

Meanwhile, at a news conference Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said the government “does not need to take action” immediately to push for the alternative memorial facility.

Yasukuni Shrine, located in Chiyoda Ward, has become a cause of strain between Japan and neighboring parts of Asia in part because of the Class-A war criminals enshrined along with Japanese service members who died fighting for Japan.

Every year, the spotlight shines on the shrine and whether the prime minister and any of his Cabinet ministers will pay a visit.


War widow – now 94-year old –   goes to first ceremony. Her husband was killed   in the Philippines.

Kyodo News, Over the past 63 years, Yotsu Iimura had not joined the annual national memorial ceremony on Aug. 15 to commemorate the war dead.

But this year, the 94-year-old decided to come although she is in a wheelchair, becoming one of the oldest relatives of the war dead attending the ceremony, which is seeing fewer and fewer participants as the survivors pass away with the years.

“My heart is too full to talk. I’m really happy,” she said, entering Tokyo Budokan Hall.

This year, 4,579 surviving kin of deceased Japanese soldiers attended the Budokan ceremony. A decade ago, the number was 5,662.

Iimura had hesitated to attend because “many bereaved families had been attending the ceremony,” she said.

“But not much time is left for me, either. I feel lonely since fewer families are attending,” she said.

Iimura’s husband, Shoji, was killed in action on Luzon Island in the Philippines at age 31. He had been a refrigerator maker before being drafted in 1944. Iimura learned in 1947 that her husband was dead.

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) –   William Bunce, who helped disestablish Shinto as Japan’s state religion during the Allied Occupation, died of chronic pneumonia in Maryland on July 23, The Washington Post reported Thursday. He was 100.

Bunce served as chief of the Religious and Cultural Resources Division at the general headquarters of the Allied Forces, working to separate militarism and nationalism from Shinto to promote the demilitarization of Japan under orders from the Allied commander in chief, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the paper said.

But Bunce allowed Shinto, stripped of its nationalism, to continue and believers to worship privately, it said.

A native of Ohio, Bunce earned a master’s degree in history from Ohio State University in 1933 and taught English at a Japanese junior college during the 1930s, according to the Washington Post.

After the Occupation, he became a diplomat and served at embassies in India and South Korea before retiring in 1971.


Posted on on August 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The World Values Survey is available at:


Download the reports
Download the Happy Planet report (2006, pdf)
Download the European Happy Planet report (2007, pdf)

See the Global HPI map:


Posted on on August 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008

Fukuda vows action on oil, terror: Anticlimactic Cabinet reshuffle casts doubt on prime minister’s ability to tackle tough issues

Staff writer Japan Times online.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda vowed to tackle pressing issues like surging oil prices and participation in the “war on terrorism” as his new Cabinet was officially launched at an attestation ceremony at the Imperial Palace on Saturday.

New crew: Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and his new Cabinet head for a photo session after holding their first Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence on Saturday.

“I will give everything I’ve got in building a government that puts itself in the people’s shoes, a foundation in which people can live without worry, and an economic society in which the people can feel affluence,” Fukuda said in a statement. “And at the same time I will do my best to contribute to the peace and stability of the world and resolve the global environmental issues.”

On diplomacy, Fukuda stressed the importance of a strong Japanese-U.S. alliance but also vowed to create an open relationship to work “together” with Asia-Pacific countries.

“As a nation that actively cooperates to realize peace, I will cooperate with the international society in the ‘war on terrorism,’ ” Fukuda’s statement said, adding that he will also devote himself to resolving the North Korea’s nuclear, missile and abduction issues.


The key issue for the upcoming extraordinary Diet session is whether Fukuda and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will forcefully extend the Maritime Self Defense Force’s activities in the Indian Ocean to refuel multinational naval ships engaged in counterterrorism operations.

The special antiterrorism law that enables the MSDF activities will expire in January.

The LDP’s coalition partner, New Komeito, is backed by Japan’s largest lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai. As an advocate of peace, it has been expressing increasing reluctance to help the LDP force the extension through the Diet.

“As a ‘peace-cooperating nation,’ I will promote international cooperation like peacekeeping operations, antiterrorism measures and rehabilitation aid,” Fukuda told a news conference Friday evening after the reshuffle. The comments were interpreted as an intention to extend the refueling activities.


On domestic issues, Fukuda especially expressed concern over the recent surge in prices and the aging society due to a low birth rate.

“To solve the two issues, we need to continue economic growth for more employment and an increase in income,” Fukuda said.

On Friday evening, Fukuda reshuffled his Cabinet for the first time since he was appointed prime minister in a bid to boost the stagnant support rate of his Cabinet. Most of his previous Cabinet ministers were selected by Fukuda’s nationalistic predecessor Shinzo Abe, who quit abruptly last September.

Despite calls from within the LDP to have Fukuda choose his own ministers, Fukuda continued on for 10 months mostly with Abe’s handpicked ministers.

But critics say that despite strong expectations, Fukuda’s picks were not that exciting and that is doubtful the new Cabinet lineup will give Fukuda the public support he needs to proceed.

Four ministers were retained, including Machimura and Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura. Three of the previous LDP executive members including former Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki were given ministerial posts.


Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008

Sub developed radioactive leak in Sasebo: U.S.
Tainted water not dangerous but delay in report angers city officials.

Compiled from Kyodo, Staff report

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Navy submarine began leaking water with trace amounts of radioactivity during a port call in late March in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, U.S. Navy officials said Friday. – Leaving a trail: The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Houston UNITED STATES NAVY.

The leak was found on the USS Houston, a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, after it went to Hawaii for routine maintenance last month, the officials said, confirming a CNN television report earlier.

The officials said the amount of radiation leaked into the water was very low, but the Navy alerted the Japanese government on Friday (Japan time) because the submarine had docked in Sasebo during its travels around the Pacific.

The incident comes at a time when the Navy is trying to smooth over a problem with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, which is due to replace the aging, conventionally powered Kitty Hawk this summer as the sole U.S. carrier based in Japan.

In Tokyo, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday it was notified by the Navy that the radiation has “no effects on the environment and human bodies,” with a senior Japanese official saying it is “not a level that should be deemed problematic.”

The ministry, however, came under fire for not disclosing the information sooner after the U.S. government notified it about the leak Friday afternoon in Japan.

The ministry did not communicate it to the concerned local governments because “we judged there was no need to immediately report it since it would not have any impact on humans,” an official said.

The ministry reported the finding on Saturday morning to Sasebo and to Okinawa Prefecture, where U.S. warships make frequent port calls, after the CNN report. But it also said the notifications had nothing to do with the media report.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said about the delay that it is “not good that a media report came earlier.”

“I believe the Foreign Ministry should report a matter of this kind immediately to the prime minister’s office and make it public when it is notified by the U.S. government, because it concerns ‘radioactivity,”‘ Machimura said.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura told a news conference that a delay in reporting is “inadmissible.”

Komura said that he became aware of the incident through reports on CNN Saturday morning and immediately ordered appropriate measures to be taken.

“I watched the report on CNN and contacted the ministry” for details, Komura said, expressing regret over the delay of communication.

“Exchange of information should have taken place earlier,” Komura told reporters.


Sasebo and Okinawa were notified of the leak only after orders from the minister were made.


The Houston crisscrossed the western Pacific from March to June, spending a week in Sasebo in late March and stopping over at its home base in Guam and Hawaii from May to June.

The total amount leaked while it docked in Sasebo, Guam and Hawaii is estimated at less than half a microcurie and has no adverse effects on the environment and crew, the Navy officials said. One microcurie is one millionth of a curie.


The problem was discovered July 24 after the sub underwent a regular maintenance check in Hawaii, the officials said, adding that the water had not been in direct contact with the nuclear reactor and that a crew member who was exposed to the water proved to be unaffected.

The Navy reported the case to health authorities in Hawaii on July 25, meaning that a report to the Japanese government came a week later.

The latest development came after a large-scale fire broke out on the George Washington while en route to Japan in May. The fire was traced to crew members smoking near improperly stored flammable materials.

While there was no damage or threat to the nuclear reactor, the ship was diverted to San Diego for repairs. It is now expected to arrive in Yokosuka, Japan at the end of September.

The Navy this week fired the captain and his deputy, saying an investigation into the fire led to a lack of confidence in the leadership of both men.


Posted on on June 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN – Anxious in America.

Published: June 29, 2008

Just a few months ago, the consensus view was that Barack Obama would need to choose a hard-core national-security type as his vice presidential running mate to compensate for his lack of foreign policy experience and that John McCain would need a running mate who was young and sprightly to compensate for his age. Come August, though, I predict both men will be looking for a financial wizard as their running mates to help them steer America out of what could become a serious economic tailspin.

I do not believe nation-building in Iraq is going to be the issue come November — whether things get better there or worse. If they get better, we’ll ignore Iraq more; if they get worse, the next president will be under pressure to get out quicker.

I think nation-building in America is going to be the issue. It’s the state of America now that is the most gripping source of anxiety for Americans, not Al Qaeda or Iraq. Anyone who thinks they are going to win this election playing the Iraq or the terrorism card — one way or another — is, in my view, seriously deluded. Things have changed.

Up to now, the economic crisis we’ve been in has been largely a credit crisis in the capital markets, while consumer spending has kept reasonably steady, as have manufacturing and exports. But with banks still reluctant to lend even to healthy businesses, fuel and food prices soaring and home prices declining, this is starting to affect consumers, shrinking their wallets and crimping spending. Unemployment is already creeping up and manufacturing creeping down.

The straws in the wind are hard to ignore: If you visit any car dealership in America today you will see row after row of unsold S.U.V.’s. And if you own a gas guzzler already, good luck. On Thursday, The Palm Beach Post ran an article on your S.U.V. options: “Continue to spend upward of $100 for a fill-up. Sell or trade in the vehicle for a fraction of the original cost. Or hold out and park the truck in the driveway for occasional use in hopes the market will turn around.” Just be glad you don’t own a bus. Montgomery County, Md., where I live, just announced that more children were going to have to walk to school next year to save money on bus fuel.

On top of it all, our bank crisis is not over. Two weeks ago, Goldman Sachs analysts said that U.S. banks may need another $65 billion to cover more write-downs of bad mortgage-related instruments and potential new losses if consumer loans start to buckle. Since President Bush came to office, our national savings have gone from 6 percent of gross domestic product to 1 percent, and consumer debt has climbed from $8 trillion to $14 trillion.

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

I continue to be appalled at the gap between what is clearly going to be the next great global industry — renewable energy and clean power — and the inability of Congress and the administration to put in place the bold policies we need to ensure that America leads that industry.

“America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so,” Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib noted last week. “A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.”

We used to try harder and do better. After Sputnik, we came together as a nation and responded with a technology, infrastructure and education surge, notes Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. After the 1973 oil crisis, we came together and made dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. After Social Security became imperiled in the early 1980s, we came together and fixed it for that moment. “But today,” added Hormats, “the political system seems incapable of producing a critical mass to support any kind of serious long-term reform.”

If the old saying — that “as General Motors goes, so goes America” — is true, then folks, we’re in a lot of trouble. General Motors’s stock-market value now stands at just $6.47 billion, compared with Toyota’s $162.6 billion. On top of it, G.M. shares sank to a 34-year low last week.

That’s us. We’re at a 34-year low. And digging out of this hole is what the next election has to be about and is going to be about — even if it is interrupted by a terrorist attack or an outbreak of war or peace in Iraq.

We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started.

Vote for the candidate who you think will do that best. Nothing else matters.






Posted on on June 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

From:      mweldon at

Hong Kong-based public policy think tank Civic Exchange has released a new report –
Green Harbours: Hong Kong and Shenzhen – Reducing Marine & Port-Related Emissions

This report, which was based on extensive consultation with stakeholders from both government and the private sector, highlights the fact that many private sector port operators and ship-owners have already taken voluntary measures to improve environmental performance, and are willing to do more. However, there is a need for the Government to create a level playing field for all, so that slow implementers do not reap competitive advantage from non-action. The report also outlines case studies of best practice from European and US ports and proposes a framework for the Governments of Hong Kong and Shenzhen to take the lead in setting strategies for emissions reductions.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the Civic Exchange website:…

A copy of the presentation can also be found on the website at :…

Related reports

Marine Emission Reduction Options for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta Region…

A Price too High: Health Impacts of Air Pollution in South China…

Lessons for Hong Kong: Air Quality Management in London and Los Angeles…

Apologies for cross posting

Civic Exchange is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Hong Kong that helps to improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. If you would like or further information on Civic Exchange’s ongoing and planned research programmes, please do not hesitate to contact our new Environmental Programme Manger Mike Kilburn ( mkilburn at or visit our website at


Posted on on June 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

“COSAN, the world’s biggest sugar-cane processor, received 368 million reais ($225 million) in government financing to build three power plants, which will be fueled by vegetation waste from crushed sugar cane, as the company seeks to tap Brazil’s growing demand for electricity. The plants will generate 200 megawatts of electricity, the National Bank for Economic and Social Development – BNDES said yesterday in an emailed statement.” (Bloomberg, June 3, 2008)

Luciano Coutinho, President of BNDES and
Paulo Diniz, CFO of COSAN

will speak at

June 23rd at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York

They will be joined by an outstanding line-up of speakers, confirmed as of today:
Alan Boyce, President, ADECOAGRO
Marcelo Brito, Commercial Director, AGROPALMA
Antonio E. Castro, Executive Manager, Gas and Energy, PETROBRAS
Francisco Gros, Vice Chairman, OGX
Plinio Nastari, President, DATAGRO
David Neeleman, CEO, Azul Airlines
Henrique Valladares, Vice President, Energy, ODEBRECHT
Joel Velasco, Chief Representative, UNICA ( Brazil’s Sugar Cane Industry Association )
This event will be the most important Brazilian forum on energy matters to take place in NY in 2008. You don’t want to be left out! To register for this event, which will soon be booked, you can do this online.

Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
509 Madison Avenue, Suite 304
New York, NY 10022
Tel: 212-751-4691
Fax: 212-751-7692


Posted on on April 5th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

COLUMBUS, Ohio (April 5) – Low-cost carrier Skybus Airlines is shutting down Saturday and plans to file for bankruptcy protection next week, becoming the latest of the nation’s airlines to fall because of rising fuel costs and a slowing economy.

Skybus Airlines on Saturday became the third U.S. carrier in a week to abruptly shut down amid rising fuel costs and economic troubles. The airline made 74 daily flights to 15 U.S. cities. The shutdown affects about 350 employees in Columbus, Ohio, and 100 in Greensboro, N.C.

The announcement Friday came less than a year after Skybus started up at Port Columbus International Airport, offering several $10 flights. The airline’s situation worsened in recent weeks, said Skybus spokesman Bob Tenenbaum.

Fuel prices and the worsening economy combined to be insurmountable for a new carrier, said chief executive Michael Hodge.

“We deeply regret this decision, and the impact this will have on our employees and their families, our customers, our vendors and other partners, and the communities in which we have been operating,” Hodge said in a statement.

The airline makes 74 daily flights to 15 U.S. cities, Tenenbaum said. It has about 350 employees in Columbus and 100 at a second hub at Piedmont-Triad International airport in Greensboro, N.C. Employees learned of the shutdown Friday night.

The final flight, taking off from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was scheduled to touch down in Columbus just before 1 a.m. Saturday, Tenenbaum said.

He did not know how many passengers would be affected but said the company has flights scheduled through Sept. 2. They are eligible for a full refund.

The airline said that all flights were to be completed Friday and that it plans to file Monday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Skybus is pulling the plug less than two weeks after CEO Bill Diffenderffer resigned to pursue a book-writing career. He was succeeded by Hodge, the company’s chief financial officer for the past year.

Skybus has endured some bumps since it began flying May 22, 2007. Over two days during Christmas week, the airline canceled as many as a quarter of its flights because of problems with two of its planes. Recently, it has been dropping flights and destinations because of high fuel costs.

Skybus offered at least 10 seats for $10 on every flight. The airline advertised an a la carte, pay-per-service flying experience. Checking a bag cost $12 at the ticket counter, for instance, while boarding with the first group of passengers cost $15.

“Most airlines tell you you’re not paying for baggage, but the fact is, you are paying for it,” Tenenbaum said. “It’s built into the cost.”

The announcement adds to a string of bad news for airlines, which have been hurt by a slowing economy, high fuel prices and maintenance concerns.

ATA and Aloha Airlines both stopped flying this week after filing for bankruptcy protection.


Posted on on February 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


Vision of ROK-U.S. alliance.

By RALPH COSSA, HONOLULU, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008 — “The inauguration Monday of Lee Myung Bak as the Republic of Korea’s new president will open the door for a revitalization of the ROK-U.S. alliance, a relationship that has been severely tested and strained in recent years as a result of policy differences and more fundamental “vision” differences between Washington and Seoul.”

An increasingly pragmatic approach toward the Korean Peninsula on the part of Washington and the advent of a more conservative, pro-alliance government in Seoul makes improved relations more likely and perhaps even somewhat easier to achieve, but by no means assured. If the alliance relationship is to be truly revitalized, both sides need to take some decisive steps, sooner rather than later.

President-elect Lee has already said he plans to place increased importance on alliance maintenance and that he understands the centrality of the alliance relationship to Korean Peninsula security. But what is missing, in both Seoul and Washington, has been a clear articulation of the continued rationale and vision for the alliance both today and after eventual North-South reconciliation or reunification. Such a vision existed, and was clearly articulated during the Kim Dae Jung and Clinton administrations, but has not really been spelled out since then.

The last time Presidents Roh Moo Hyun and George W. Bush held a summit meeting, they did not even issue a joint statement. The time before that, they issued a vague statement that focused more on multilateral cooperation than on the future relevance of the bilateral relationship. One would hope that Lee, shortly after his election, would issue a broad vision statement about South Korea’s desired future role in Asia and in the world and how the U.S.-ROK alliance fits into this vision.

Kim Dae Jung used to argue publicly and persuasively that South Korea had to maintain good relations simultaneously with its four giant neighbors — China, Japan, Russia and the United States — and that the best, perhaps the only way, that this could be accomplished was through the continued viability of the ROK-U.S. alliance relationship, which provided Seoul with the necessary security assurances to deal with its other three more immediate neighbors.

Does Lee see the future in similar terms? If so, a clear articulation of his vision is needed prior to any summit meeting with Bush. This would then set the stage for a joint statement articulating a common vision for the alliance and its future role and relevance, one that would hopefully be quickly endorsed by U.S. presidential aspirants from both parties (all of whom have a strong record of supporting the alliance relationship).

Lee appears to have already reconsidered his earlier plan to dismantle the Unification Ministry and incorporate it into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This is both regrettable and fully understandable, for political (as opposed to geopolitical) reasons. But it was not the existence of the Unification Ministry that caused so many problems over the past five years; it was the tendency of its various ministers to continually make statements that undercut the Foreign Ministry’s many attempts to speak with one voice with Washington in dealing with North Korea.

In fairness, the Bush administration had an equally difficult time speaking with one voice on Korea during its first four years, as the vice president’s office continually undercut the State Department’s efforts to reach accommodation with North Korea. Fortunately, Bush has exercised long-overdue leadership in placing his faith and support behind Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her top North Korea negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. One of Lee’s most important early tasks will be to ensure that his foreign and unification ministers speak from the same page, one that he (and hopefully Washington) will actively support.

President-elect Lee has already said all the right things: that his government will remain committed to North-South engagement. Indeed, he has even pledged to raise the North’s per capita GDP sixfold (to $3,000) within 10 years — but only if Pyongyang honors its denuclearization pledges. This dovetails nicely with Washington’s stated position (the views of disgruntled neocons notwithstanding), which stresses the potential pot of gold that awaits the North at the end of the denuclearization rainbow. It is essential that this position not be undercut by the next unification minister.

There are of course many other contentious issues that must be addressed. Many Lee supporters want to revisit the decision to switch wartime operational control of the ROK forces from the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command (led by a U.S. general) to South Korea by 2012. There is also a need for contingency planning (regardless of who is in charge) in the event of a North Korean collapse or rejection of the denuclearization pact.

The two sides also need to craft a consistent policy regarding North Korean human rights issues. Secretary Rice gets some credit here for silencing one of the loose cannons on this issue, when Human Rights envoy Jay Lefkowitz gave an unauthorized speech that undercut Assistant Secretary Hill’s arguments.

Moving forward (or failing to do so) on the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement will also have implications for the health of the alliance. Here Lee has an easier task than does Bush, given the politicization of FTAs. It has been disappointing (but again not surprising) to see certain candidates arguing against an agreement that clearly serves U.S. economic, trade and security interests in order to appeal to certain domestic political constituencies.

All these issues will ultimately need to be addressed. The essential first step is to craft a unified joint vision of how the alliance fits into Lee’s broader vision of where he wants to take Korea in coming years. The sooner this is done, the sooner the revitalization process can begin.

Ralph A. Cossa ( RACPacforum at is president of the Pacific Forum CSIS. The article originally appeared in PacNet Newsletter.


Posted on on February 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Oceans Eyed as New Energy Source.
By Brian Skoloff, The Associated Press, Thursday February 14, 2008.

Dania Beach, Florida – Just 15 miles off Florida’s coast, the world’s most powerful sustained ocean current – the mighty Gulf Stream – rushes by at nearly 8.5 billion gallons per second. And it never stops.

To scientists, it represents a tantalizing possibility: a new, plentiful and uninterrupted source of clean energy.

Florida Atlantic University researchers say the current could someday be used to drive thousands of underwater turbines, produce as much energy as perhaps 10 nuclear plants and supply one-third of Florida’s electricity. A small test turbine is expected to be installed within months.

“We can produce power 24/7,” said Frederick Driscoll, director of the university’s Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology. Using a $5 million research grant from the state, the university is working to develop the technology in hopes that big energy and engineering companies will eventually build huge underwater arrays of turbines.

From Oregon to Maine, Europe to Australia and beyond, researchers are looking to the sea – currents, tides and waves – for its infinite energy. So far, there are no commercial-scale projects in the U.S. delivering electricity to the grid.

Because the technology is still taking shape, it is too soon to say how much it might cost. But researchers hope to make it as cost-effective as fossil fuels. While the initial investment may be higher, the currents that drive the machinery are free.

There are still many unknowns and risks. One fear is the “Cuisinart effect”: The spinning underwater blades could chop up fish and other creatures.

Researchers said the underwater turbines would pose little risk to passing ships. The equipment would be moored to the ocean floor, with the tops of the blades spinning 30 to 40 feet below the surface, because that’s where the Gulf Stream flows fastest. But standard navigation equipment on ocean vessels could easily guide them around the turbine fields if their hulls reached that deep, researchers said.

And unlike offshore wind turbines, which have run into opposition from environmentalists worried that the technology would spoil the ocean view, the machinery would be invisible from the surface, with only a few buoys marking the fields.

David White of the Ocean Conservancy said much of the technology is largely untested in the outdoors, so it is too soon to say what the environmental effects might be.

“We understand that there are environmental trade-offs, and we need to start looking to alternative energy and everything should be on the table,” he said. “But what are the environmental consequences? We just don’t know that yet.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued 47 preliminary permits for ocean, wave and tidal energy projects, said spokeswoman Celeste Miller. Most such permits grant rights just to study an area’s energy-producing potential, not to build anything.

The field has been dealt some setbacks. An ocean test last year ended in disaster when its $2 million buoy off Oregon’s coast sank to the sea floor. Similarly, a small test project using turbines powered by tidal currents in New York City’s East River ran into trouble last year after turbine blades broke.

The Gulf Stream is about 30 miles wide and shifts only slightly in its course, passing closer to Florida than to any other major land mass. “It’s the best location in the world to harness ocean current power,” Driscoll said.

Researchers on the West Coast, where the currents are not as powerful, are looking instead to waves to generate power. {but this is a technology that is already being tested in places as varied as Rio de Janeiro, New York City, and Tel Aviv}

Canada-based Finavera Renewables has received a FERC license to test a wave energy project in Washington state. It will eventually include four buoys in a bay and generate enough power for up to 700 homes. The 35-ton buoys rise above the water about 6 feet and extend some 60 feet down. Inside each buoy, a piston rises and falls with the waves.

The company hopes later to be the first in the U.S. to operate a commercial-scale “wave farm,” situated off Northern California. The project with Pacific Gas and Electric calls for Finavera to produce enough electricity to power up to 600 homes by 2012. Finavera eventually wants to supply 30,000 households.

Roger Bedard of the Electric Power Research Institute said an analysis by his organization found that wave- and tide-generated energy could supply only about 6.5 percent of today’s electricity needs.

Finavera spokesman Myke Clark acknowledged that wave energy is “definitely not the only answer” to the nation’s power needs and is never going to be as cheap as coal. But it could be “part of the energy mix,” and could be used to great advantage off the coasts of Third World countries, where entire towns have no connection to electrical grids, he said.

Nick Furman, executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, said he fears the wave technology could crowd out his industry, which last year brought in 50 million pounds of crab and contributed $150 million to the state’s economy.

“We’ve got a limited amount of flat sandy bottom on the Oregon Coast where we can put out pots and where we can fish, and the wave energy folks are telling us they need the same flat, sandy bottom,” Furman said.

“It’s not the 10-buoy wave park that has the industry concerned. It’s that if it’s successful, then that park turns into a 200- or 400-buoy park and it just keeps growing.”


On the Net:

Electric Power Research Institute:

Finavera Renewables:

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission:

Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology:


Posted on on February 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (…

Climate conference ends without targets
By AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press Writer
Fri Feb 1, 6:21 AM ET

HONOLULU – A meeting of delegates from the nations that emit the most pollutants ended without concrete targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions, but participants praised what they saw as a new willingness by the United States to discuss possible solutions.
Wed Jan 30, 6:08 PM ET

A man wearing a US President George Bush mask holds up protest signs outside the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change Agenda conference held at the East West Center, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008, in Honolulu. A group of protesters gathered outside the international conference demonstrating climate. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Delegates from 16 nations, plus the European Union and the United Nations, gathered in Hawaii this week at the invitation of the U.S. to discuss what should be included in a blueprint for combatting climate change.

Among the topics were energy-efficient technologies, ways rich countries could help developing countries and countering deforestation.

Delegates said the U.S. showed a new flexibility since earlier climate change meetings, and that they were able to talk frankly about their differences.

“We’re happy the position of the United States is changing,” Brice LaLonde, France’s climate change ambassador, said at a news conference Thursday following the two days of closed-door talks at the University of Hawaii.

LaLonde pointed to bills in Congress addressing climate change and the Bush administration’s move to host the Hawaii meeting as evidence for a shift for Washington. But he said France hoped for additional changes, specifically for the U.S. to join other industrialized nations in agreeing to a national mandatory greenhouse gas reduction target.

“Of course, we want more. We hope in the next weeks after these discussions that we’ll be able to deliver more,” LaLonde said. “But it’s a good start.”

Delegates didn’t discuss the details of a European Union proposal for industrialized countries to slash emissions by 25 to 40 percent, said Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Commission’s head of climate change negotiations.

The emissions reduction proposal — and U.S. opposition to it — was one of the biggest sticking points of a contentious climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, last month.

The conference ended with the U.S. agreeing to join nearly 190 countries to craft a blueprint for fighting climate change by 2009. But that only happened after participants loudly booed repeated U.S. objections to the document.

Britain’s environment minister, Phil Woolas, said no nation wants to be singled out as the obstacle to progress on climate change.

“Bali has put the spotlight on you, doesn’t it. There’s no country that wants to be the party pooper,” Woolas said during a break in the Hawaii talks.

He added that delegates shared a sense that work needs to get done because of the dire consequences of rising temperatures, sea levels and environmental catastrophes.

“There’s a realization that we have to get an agreement; otherwise we’re all going to drown,” Woolas said.

Chief U.S. delegate Jim Connaughton, the White House environmental chief, said President Bush has long highlighted the importance of reducing emissions.

He pointed to U.S. efforts supporting hydrogen energy, funding for energy efficient technologies and partnerships with other countries.

“We like to prepare, plan and announce. This is what the president has done consistently since 2001, as you can see it’s gaining increasing appreciation,” Connaughton said after the talks.

The U.S. has been seeking voluntary pledges from nations for specific cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Nations represented at the conference account for 80 percent of emissions that scientists say contribute to global warming. In addition to the U.S., Britain and France, they are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and South Africa.

Environmentalists had voiced skepticism about what the Hawaii talks would accomplish, given the U.S. opposition to mandatory national reduction targets of the kind agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol a decade ago.

The EU has proposed cutting its overall emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels, or 14 percent from 2005.

Demonstrators were absent Thursday, but about a dozen had protested the day before outside the meeting to object to what they said was insufficient commitment from the Bush administration to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Others drew blue chalk lines along Honolulu city streets to show where high tide would be after decades of global warming and rising sea levels.