THE FOLLOWING WAS POSTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BLOG CITY ROOM – NEW YORK TODAY
We checked in with Lisa Foderaro, The Times’s reporter who covered the preparations for the march.
The climax will be a moment of cacophony at 1 p.m., when about 20 marching bands and church bells across the city will “sound the alarm” on climate change.
Horns, whistles, cellphone alarms and other disruptive noisemakers are encouraged, too.
The march is part demonstration, part parade. For months, people have prepared floats and huge props.
“The Rockaways group has this big 30-foot life preserver that is orange and silver that they’ll carry over their heads,” Ms. Foderaro said.
“Scientists have a chalkboard with calculations about carbon levels. Religious leaders have this ark that they will ride in. A Filipino group has a giant mop to symbolize having to clean up after the typhoon.”
The march, which as of this week had confirmed 496 buses coming from as far away as Kansas, will coincide with similar events in 158 countries.
Though the buses will be using gas, the floats will either be powered by biodiesel or pulled by hand, Ms. Foderaro noted.
Some things to know if you’re going:
• Central Park West north of Columbus Circle to 86th Street will be closed to traffic before the march.
• People can gather from 65th Street to 86th Street. These are the access points.
• The march starts at 11:30 a.m. at Columbus Circle and ends at 11th Avenue and 34th Street, where participants can join a party until 5 p.m. This is the route.
• At 12:58 p.m., there will be a moment of silence followed by several moments of loud noise.
• A list of things you should and should not bring.
• Share your experience of the march with us over Twitter using #nytoday and #peoplesclimate.
Here’s what else you need to know.
Nothing but blue skies. Sunny again with a high of 75.
COMING UP TODAY
• Climate March events: Al Gore speaks at an Interfaith Leaders Climate March Breakfast at Union Theological Seminary in Morningside Heights. 9 a.m. [Livestream] …
• … Anti-fracking advocates call for a statewide ban outside the Plaza, during a fund-raiser for Governor Cuomo. Noon. …
• … Naomi Klein talks about her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” at the New School. 6 p.m. [Livestream] …
• … And a panel on jobs and climate change at S.E.I.U. Local 1999 headquarters in Midtown. 6 p.m.
• Mayor de Blasio makes an announcement at the Bronx Zoo. 1:15 p.m.
• Officials preview a taxidermy mount of “Lonesome George,” the last known Pinta Island tortoise (he died in 2012), at the American Museum of Natural History. 3 p.m.
• “Photoville,” a sprawling exhibition in Brooklyn Bridge Park, opens with a D.J.-accompanied slide show capturing 30 years in Brooklyn. 7:30 p.m.
IN THE NEWS
• The gap between the rich and the poor in Manhattan is greater than anywhere else in the country, according to Census data. [New York Times]
• About 100,000 people who identify as Garifuna live in the Bronx. [NY1]
• Scoreboard: Yankees pin Rays down, 3-2. Marlins outswim Mets, 4-3.
AND FINALLY …
Once, fires in the city had to be detected by watchmen, who stood in towers, scanning the horizon for smoke.
One historic tower still stands today: a 47-foot, cast-iron tower, designed by Julius B. Kroehl, atop an outcropping in what is now Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.
The watchtower, built in 1857, was decommissioned when alarms came along in 1878, and its fortunes have dwindled ever since. Now, it is about to be dismantled, The Times reports. It’s not clear when, or even if, it will be restored.
There was a time, though, when the tower guarded the entire upper end of Manhattan.
It served another purpose, too.
“At one period it governed time in all of Harlem and the surrounding villages. All watches and clocks within sound of the bell were regulated by it,” The Times noted in 1896.
Firefighters rang the bell at 8 a.m., noon and 9 p.m.
“It was proposed several years ago to tear the tower down on account of its shaky condition, but the residents raised such an opposition that it was left standing.”
New York Today is a weekday roundup that stays live from 6 a.m. till late morning. You can receive it via email.
What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at nytoday at nytimes.com, or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.
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You can always find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.
From: Vanessa, People’s Climate March - peoplesclimate.org
More buses are being confirmed every day, so there may even be more than one nearby.
If the bus fills up and/or you’d like to step up and organize your own bus, click here to volunteer to be a bus captain.
It’s pretty simple, and there’s even some funding available – the awesome bus team will support you every step of the way.
If you need more info on transportation (and housing) options for the People’s Climate March, click here.
We have a real chance to make a difference on the issue of our time – make sure you have a ticket to New York to be part of it.
We can’t wait to march with you,
P.S. If you already have a ticket (or after you buy yours now), join our Thunderclap promoting the march. It only takes a second — you can sign up with your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr to join a huge simultaneous social media post on September 15th and make sure everyone knows that this is too big to sit out.
Dear Pincas –
Trapped and hungry, in the middle of New York City. Climate change is here.
That is what I thought when I drove into Brooklyn, after Hurricane Sandy. My name is Carl Giles. I am a groundskeeper for the New York City Housing Authority and was dispatched after the storm to clear debris and set up generators and pumps at some of our hard-hit public housing.
I and other members of my union, Teamsters Local 237, were out even before the storm, to keep city residents safe and to prepare for the damage that Sandy would bring. The images from those days will be with me forever. People without power, begging for just an opportunity to charge their cell phones and let family members know that they are ok. Families in public housing without heat as cold weather bore down on the Northeast. Signs of the storm surge left behind; water marks three stories high on apartment buildings and four feet of sand covering the street.
Pincas, we’ve seen what climate change can do. That is why I and my Teamster brothers and sisters will be marching in the People’s Climate March on September 21st. Will you join the fight and march alongside us?
Working people are on the front lines of climate change. We live in the most vulnerable neighborhoods. We lead the recovery after extreme weather. And work in the industries that have to change to reduce emissions and clean our atmosphere.
For many Teamsters, Hurricane Sandy was a traumatic experience. I heard about one member working in an underground garage who drowned during the storm. Another Teamster lost two children. Too many lost homes and livelihoods.
At the same time, we were called on to put our city back together. Many Teamsters cleared roads and delivered supplies by day, while repairing their own homes at night.
We are marching because we want to tell our story and tell the world that workers are part of the solution to climate change. Teamsters in the private waste hauling industry are working to reduce pollution from their garbage trucks. Meanwhile, Teamsters in food distribution are working to build a more climate-resilient food system for our city.
We are all part of the solution. March with us on September 21st. RSVP now.
P.S. If this march is going to be big enough to get the world’s attention, we need everyone. After you RSVP, forward this message to five of your friends and family and share it on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.
In the shadow of New York City – at Kingston, N.Y – Wall Street’s All That Jazz – August 30, 2014 – Going into Labor-Day. Also, Fordham University Adjunct Professor Zephyr Teachout is chalenging Wall Street, Big Banks, and N.Y. State Governor Cuomo -The Wall Street Over-flow.
August 25, 2014
Sunday, August 17 2014 - The America Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) spearheaded by US Jewish organizations presented at Union Square, New York, speakers from South Sudan, the Kurdish Nation, The Christian Copts of Sudan and Egypt. One could see among the sea of Israeli flags also the flag of a free Kurdistan and the Coptic Cross of the individual Christian Communities being exterminated in present day Muslim Africa. I asked myself Where are those that fought the Apartheid in South Africa – except the Jews? South African Apartheid was a much milder phenomenon then what goes on in Nigeria and Sudan, Syria and Iraq, these days – right under our eyes.
WE RECEIVED THE ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE SUNDAY UNION SQUARE DEMONSTRATION FROM THE CHASSIDA SHMELLA ORGANIZATION OF THE ETHIOPIAN BLACK JEWS THAT RESIDE NOW IN THE US. THEY LIVED AMONG THE ETHIOPIAN CHRISTIANS – SO THEY DID NOT HAVE THE EXACT EXPERIENCE AS THE COPTS OF THE SUDAN, BUT NEVERTHELESS THEY ARE FIRST IN LINE TO UNDERSTAND AFRICA – AND THAT IS OBVIOUS IN THE WAY THEY REACT TO EVERYTHING THAT HAS TO DO WITH TRUE DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF RACE OR RELIGION. THAT UNION SQUARE DEMONSTRATION IS FOLLOWED NOW BY A NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE AUTHORED BY FORMER US AMBASSADOR RONALD LAUDER – A REPUBLICAN.
They had at that meeting also Hindu, Sikh, Caldeans and Buddhists – and among the flags was also the flag of India.
The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor
Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?
By RONALD S. LAUDER – The New York Times –
WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.
The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
President Obama should be commended for ordering airstrikes to save tens of thousands of Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion and have been stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq, besieged by Sunni Muslim militants. But sadly, airstrikes alone are not enough to stop this grotesque wave of terrorism.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death. It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.
“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”
This week, 200,000 Aramaeans fled their ancestral homeland around Nineveh, having already escaped Mosul.
The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene.
In a speech before thousands of Christians in Budapest in June, I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.
This bond between Jews and Christians makes complete sense. We share much more than most religions. We read the same Bible, and share a moral and ethical core. Now, sadly, we share a kind of suffering: Christians are dying because of their beliefs, because they are defenseless and because the world is indifferent to their suffering.
Good people must join together and stop this revolting wave of violence. It’s not as if we are powerless. I write this as a citizen of the strongest military power on earth. I write this as a Jewish leader who cares about my Christian brothers and sisters.
The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.
Ronald S. Lauder is the president of the World Jewish Congress.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 20, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?.
SOME OF THE COMMENTS:
“I couldn’t care less about some contrived and convenient “bond between Jews and Christians”. Let’s hear it for the bonds between humans. The…”
“Ron, please remember that groups like ISIS were not a factor while that predator Saddam still ruled the jungle. Please remember that the…”
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.
An apology must come with change of behavior in order to avoid its being just empty words. The new depth that comes from taking a pause thinking – specially in corporate behaviour. This is really about SUSTAINABILITY.
NEW YORK – President Bill Clinton, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton announced the program and participants for the 10th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, to be held September 21-24 in New York City, where more than 1,000 of the most influential leaders from business, government, civil society and philanthropy will convene around the theme of “Reimagining Impact.”
President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, to bring leaders together from all sectors of society to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges by turning their ideas into action.
Participants turn their ideas into action through the creation of “Commitments to Action” – new, specific, measurable plans to address these challenges. Since the first CGI Annual Meeting in September 2005, more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs and major philanthropists have participated in CGI’s Annual Meetings, and members of the CGI community have made more than 2,900 commitments which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.
For the first time, CGI has evaluated and will share comprehensive data collected from the commitments made over the past 10 years to highlight the most effective approaches and analyze trends in an effort to help CGI members maximize the impact of their work and identify critical gaps to be addressed.
Featured participants in the meeting include President Barack Obama; His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO, IKEA Group; Mohammad Parham Al Awadhi, Co-founder, Peeta Planet; Peyman Parham Al Awadhi, Co-founder, Peeta Planet; Reem Al-Hashimy, Minister of State, United Arab Emirates; Mary Barra, Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company; Amy Bell, Head of Principle Investments, JP Morgan Social Finance; Matt Damon, Co-founder, Water.org; Adam Davidson, Co-founder, NPR’s Planet Money; Denis O’Brien, Chairman, Digicel; Paul Farmer, Co-founder, Partners in Health, Chief Strategist, Harvard Medical School; Melinda French Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Fadi Ghandour, Founder and Vice Chairman, Aramex; Jay Gould, President and CEO, American Standard Brands; María José González, Executive Director, Mesoamerican Reef Fund; Alexander Grashow, Founder, The Adaptist; António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Former Prime Minister of Portugal; David Hertz, Founder & CEO, Gastromotiva; Jane Karuku, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, the Coca-Cola Company; Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group; Nicholas Kristof, columnist, The New York Times; Dymphna van der Lans, Chief Executive Officer, Clinton Climate Initiative; Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group; Christopher Mikkelsen, Founder and Co-CEO, Refugees United; Jay Naidoo, Chair of Board of Directors and Partnership Council, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Tammy Newmark, President and CEO, EcoEnterprises Fund; Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive Officer, Big Society Capital; Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Chairman, The Paulson Institute, Former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States; Norma Powell, Director General, Haiti Center for Facilitation of Investments; Becky Quick, Co-anchor, Squawk Box, CNBC; Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, Former President of Ireland; Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation; Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM; Charlie Rose, Host, “Charlie Rose Show”; Nilofar Sakhi, Executive Director, American University of Afghanistan; Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer, Mars, Incorporated, Senior Fellow, Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, Distinguished Fellow, World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi; Lucy Martinez Sullivan, Executive Director, 1,000 Days; Mark Tercek, President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy; Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder, Mara Group and Mara Foundation; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark; Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President, Global Education Content, Sesame Workshop; Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson; Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation; Gary White, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Water.org; and Muhammad Yunus, Chairman, Yunus Social Business – Global Initiatives.
Key parts of the program at the 2014 CGI Annual Meeting include sessions such as:
About the Clinton Global Initiative:
CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.
CGI recently announced its first global challenge to engage individuals around the world in tackling the issue of youth unemployment. The challenge launched in partnership with and is hosted on OpenIDEO.com, an open innovation platform created by global design firm IDEO, which couples design thinking methodology with the scale of online social networks to solve the world’s most pressing social issues. One featured idea will be recognized at CGI’s 10th Annual Meeting in September. Individuals can participate in the challenge by contributing ideas, research and solutions at www.openideo.com/cgi.
President Barack Obama; His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Mary Barra, Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company; Matt Damon, Co-founder, Water.org; Melinda French Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, the Coca-Cola Company; Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group; Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Chairman, The Paulson Institute, Former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States; Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President & CEO, IBM; Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation; and Muhammad Yunus, Chairman, Yunus Social Business – Global Initiatives among featured participants —— will be there.
Please visit www.
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Reform Stephen Wise Free Synagogue of Manhattan – on the moral outrage on disproportionate proportionality of casualty number calculation in the Hamas wars. UPDATED – Nothing Makes Hamas Happier Than Dead Palestinians.
Evening Edition: ‘Very high possibilit
Last night, June 23, 2014, former Austrian Ambassador to Finland, Canada, Jamaica, and at the Council of Europe, Wendelin Ettmayer, presented his views at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City in answer to the double question: “World War I: Why did European Diplomacy Fail – Could it Happen Today?”
In effect – his topic is “Is it Still Possible to Win Wars?” as he presented it in Vienna at an ACUNS (Academic Council of the United Nations System).
The basic idea is that at the time of WWI Europe had not emerged yet from feud.alism while starting to develop Nationalism. Heads of State could still take vacation while in one day 80,000 of their soldiers were killed. On the other hand wars were something viewed as a concept of honor -so that day was seen as a day of glory.
The Ambassdaor’s thesis is that today it could not happen in Europe anymore – but outside Europe yes. Simply some of the emerging countries have not learned from the experience of WWI and are in effect still in that feudal age where the leader has complete power – or at least that is what he thinks. In these conditions diplomacy is viewed as Klausewitz described it when he said that war is a continuation of diplomacy by other means. In this situation he sees China’s interest in Islands of fthe Pacific a question of honor – something a member of the audience tried to correct by just saying – OIL!
From notes of the Vienna meeting – Ambassador Ettmayer does in effect see the change that occured since the preparations that led to WWI:
New Dimensions of Security and Power: The Essence of Security and Power has Changed Dramatically in Recent Decades
Traditional security was to 90% military security. Compared to the great challanges of human security in today´s world, military security covers only 10%. The same can be said as far as power is concerned:
traditionally, 90% of power exerted on an international level was military power. Today, the power of the brave, the new players and new dynamic forces make up 90% of the power. In this sense, 90% of the changes which took place in former times were caused by war, which is responsable of 10% of the new development in today ´s world, when we think of globalisation, the rise of China, the implosion of the Soviet Union or the unification of Germany.
In former times, wars were decided to 90% on the battlefield, today to 10%, what makes it practically impossible to win wars anymore. On the other hand, people today are affected to 90% by the international development, what was not the case in former centuries.
1. New Dimensions of Security
Traditionally foreign policy was orientated towards the security of the state, based on a strong army. Today, foreign policy is, to a very large extent, also oriented towards human security, towards the security of the individual citizen. In the 21th century, threats to international security are to 90% non-military threats. An essential goal of foreign policy has become to guarantee the basic necessities of human life. Many international orgainziations, countless NGOs and governments are actively promoting human security. They fight against hunger and disease and are in favor of development, human rights and a decent standard of living. Where the basic requirements for human security are not met, from Ukraine to Venezuela and from the Central African Republic to Thailand, peace and security are in danger.
The United Nations and many of their agencies like UNCTAD, UNICEF, UNESCO, to name only a few, want to create security through cooperation. To safeguard human security and to promote human rights has become a basic legitimacy of foreign policy.
In former times, international relations were mostly about one single
issue: military security, power and war. Today countless issues are an essential part of international conferences and international activities. Today there are many dimensions to international security:
there is an economic and financial dimension; there is the important role of energy and the environment; there are human rights and education. Most importantly, those new dimensions of human security do not anymore rely on the strength of the military.
2. New Dimensions of Power
In former times, the essence of power was based on the grace of God or on military power. Today, power should be based on a democratic legitimacy. In practice, the legitimacy of a government is linked to its possibility to increase the wellbeing of the people. For many people it has become more important to increase their standard of living than to increase the military power of their country in order to dominate others.
To demonstrate what fundamental changes have taken place, consider the word “great” we use for powerful personalities in history. Alexander the Great as well as Peter the Great or Catherine the Great are considered “great”, because they succeeded to increase their power of their country, conquering and destroying others. Any ruler who would act in similar ways today would not be considered as “Great”; the international community would demand that they would be brought before the International Criminal Court.
In former times, a ruler was powerful if he succeeded to enforce his will upon his subjects. Today an elected official can exert power if he can attract and convince others. In former times, conquering a country was a legitimate act. Anyone who wants to conquer foreign territory today faces international sanctions, like Saddam Hussein, after he invaded Kuwait in 1990.
In former times a state had a power-monopoly. This monopoly has been broken by countless new institutions like the media, NGOs or international corporations. Those new institutions can not only exert power, but also oppose the power of the state.
What are the driving forces behind great changes which take place in the world today? Through centuries wars were the driving force for changing the international landscape. If we analyze today why the Soviet Union imploded, why apartheid was abolished in South Africa or why minorities succeeded to emancipate themselves, we can see that those changes were not brought about by wars, but by the power of the brave, by new technologies or by new ideas.
The Polish trade Union movement, Solidarnosc and Nelson Mandela represent the power of the brave. The anti baby-pill, the mobile phones, the internet and computers stand for the power of new technologies. The power of new ideas was demonstrated by the 1968 movement and the influence of human rights.
His answer comes to his asking – “How Could All That Happen?”
Those dramatic changes in international relations took place on the basis of a revolution in education; a democratic revolution and a revolution in information. People have become more critical. They see the great sacrifices, suffered by wars and that goals proclaimed on the occasion of outbreaks of wars are hardly achieved. On the other hand people have developed a sense of entitlement. They prefer a higher standard to a conquering army.
With the mobile phone, the computer and the internet a revolution in information has taken place. Social media give everybody the opportunity to share his or her opinion to participate in decision making. Naturally it is easier to be critical than to be constructive in this context.
The New York City presentation was organized by Austrian Council General H.E. Ambassador Georg Heindl who does this sort of events as New York City, with a large Austrian population that evolved because of the presence of immigrants that escaped Nazism can provide for lively discussions of this sort of intellectual topics. Last night just proved the point with a lively follow up Q&A period.
There was no cosensus on many issues. Questions asked why NATO, why Turkey and not Russia which had an aristocracy formed after Western Europe and were even family. Actually, the Europeans have no alternative to peaceful internal coexistence between its member states if facing billion people mega-States.
While still thinking about last night, I found the following article in incoming e-mail and decided to post both points of view.
IT IS CLEAR TO ME THAT A TRUE STRONG STRUCTURE OF A EUROPEAN MEGA-STATE MUST FIND A POSITIVE WAY THAT HAS A NATURAL BASE. IT SEEMS ONCE MORE THAT HUMAN RIGHTS aND DEMOCRACY MUST BE THE BASR ON WHICH SUSTAINABILITY EXISTS.
For a European Republic
Today we have to move away from the idea of a United States of Europe, to think of the EU as a republic, as the European res publica, and to put citizens and civil society back into the centre stage that they have abandoned.
The European Union, and more particularly the Eurozone, does not know what it is. This is not only a matter of nominalism, but also of the meaning of the project.
To still consider this Europe as a “Federation of Nation States”, as Jacques Delors put it many years back, is clearly insufficient as a description and as a desideratum. Today we have to move away from the idea of a United States of Europe, to think of the EU as a republic, as the European res publica, and to put citizens and civil society back into the centre stage that they have abandoned.
To consider a European republic means to make democracy a priority, especially in these times in which we are emptying out national democracy without replacing it with a European democracy.
European citizens feel they can choose among politicians, but much less so among policies. Or that, to make a real difference, they would need to choose among European policies.
But that is not possible, as the electoral system, as we have seen in the last elections to the European Parliament, is a sum of national elections, even in some ways of nationalistic elections, and nationalism can destroy Europe and its peoples.
That Europe has no demos (people), but rather a collection of demoi (peoples) is not the central problem. A demos is not something given, but constructed as a result of historical processes and also of policies, of purpose. The problem is to see Europe as an entity formed exclusively by states–not even nation states but member states–and not by citizens, in spite of the Treaties that say that it is both at the same time.
The problem of not being able to choose European policies is that the real choice is between populisms and technocracy. And that is something that alienates people and ultimately reinforces populisms (of various kinds).
The way out of that bogus choice, again was very present in the recent European elections, is by going for transnational European choices that could form the basis of a European republic. Citizens in Europe are not organized in a transnational setting. They have no real voice through their representatives. The idea of a European republic should push the emergence of a political ‘we’, based on social bodies. A more transnational and republican organization would also mean getting away from the vertical structures of the EU towards a horizontal one that would allow coalitions building among European citizens.
It also means that there is a need for a redistribution of powers among the EU institutions. The European Parliament has gained new powers with every new treaty, all except the one which from a democratic point of view it should have: the right of initiative that remains a monopoly at the behest of the European Commission (and in some instances, of the member states).
Joachim Glauck, the president of Germany, has made use of the term ‘European Republic’ in some of his speeches. This idea of a ‘Republic’ is connected with the meaning it possessed in the European Middle Ages as it appeared in the first modern writings of thinkers like Bodino: that is, a legal concept of the cross-national exercise of sovereign powers. It was conceived as a way of sharing a democracy in common among citizens, but citizens with different national democratic systems and different ways of doing things. Some are parliamentary monarchies, others more purely parliamentarian, others presidential or semi presidential systems, and so forth.
It also means aiming for a European common good. And that idea of the common good shared by every European citizen would also be a way of overcoming the worrying divisions that have arisen of late in Europe between north and south, creditors and debtors, centre and periphery and even between the ins and outs (of the Eurozone), although the major aim which the republic needs to steer towards has to be the construction of the economic and monetary union, open to all EU member states of course.
The republic has to be based not so much on equality as on solidarity, even solidarity in the plural—solidarities–, as a concept and a set of realities no longer directly linked to sovereignty and national borders.
It has also to be a solidarity between generations, and especially towards the young who have felt abandoned in the latest phases of construction of the EU and the Eurozone, an abandonment that has led to more people aged 18-25 voting above average for populist options in most of the countries of the Union.
In the end, to opt for the European republic idea means to organize European civil society and to give it a voice in the European system. Not to do this will lead citizens to exit the system, as Albert O. Hirschman would have put it.
In this context, the Spanish debate should be more than about a monarchy-republic. It should be about the European dimension of the res publica.
This article was originally published in El Pais on 24/6/14.
About the authors
Andrés Ortega is presently senior fellow at the Elcano Institute in Spain and member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He has been twice (1994-96 and 2008-2011) director of Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office. His latest book is Recomponer la democracia (2014).
Ulrike Guérot is Senior Associate for Germany at the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE). She previously worked as head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), head of the European Union unit at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and as senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund (GMF). She blogs for the ECFR here.
Like many consumers, David Polstein had already done much to reduce energy use in his large Victorian home in Newton, Mass. He replaced his appliances with energy-efficient models, installed better heating and put in new insulation. But he was unable to get a solar system to reduce his utility bill, he said, because his roof is too small and shady to make it worthwhile.
Now, that could be changing. Mr. Polstein is considering joining a so-called community solar garden that is under development in his part of the state, one of many similar new arrangements now available in Massachusetts. Through the approach — largely pioneered in Colorado and spreading across the country — customers buy into a solar array constructed elsewhere and receive credit on their electricity bills for the power their panels produce.
For developers, such shared or community solar arrays create a new market from the estimated 85 percent of residential customers who can neither own nor lease systems because their roofs are physically unsuitable for solar or because they do not control them — like renters and people living in large apartment buildings. And for those customers, it offers a way into the solar boom, whether they seek to contribute to the spread of clean energy or to reap the potential cost savings.
“I pretty much realize that if I’m going to do this sort of thing,” Mr. Polstein, a violin maker, said, “this is the only way I’m going to be able to do it.”
Massachusetts passed its law enabling community renewable energy projects in 2008 and saw at least one town solar garden begin operating in Brewster in 2012. Now, Clean Energy Collective, a leading developer, is building systems that are due to start producing power in Massachusetts by the end of this month. The company has teamed with Next Step Living of Boston, a home energy-efficiency company, which is selling the product to consumers across Massachusetts.
Several other places, including California, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., have laws to establish their programs, while others have proposals at some stage of drafting. In New York, for instance, a bill is working its way through the State Legislature.
“There’s no ability to really put solar on your roof when you live in an apartment — you just don’t own the roof,” said Amy Paulin, an assemblywoman representing Westchester.
Ms. Paulin, who is chairwoman of the Energy Committee, co-sponsored the bill after learning of the concept from advocates including Vote Solar, a group that promotes solar energy. Encouraging the development of modest solar installations throughout the state would also put less stress on the transmission and distribution grid, she said.
The shared approach has its roots in rural electric cooperatives, said Elaine Ulrich of the Department of Energy’s SunShot program, but has only begun to take off in recent years, and still accounts for a tiny fraction of solar production. There are at least 52 projects in at least 17 states, and at least 10 states are encouraging their development through policy and programs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the main trade group.
It is among the profusion of financing mechanisms meant to encourage the development of solar energy, from residential leasing programs to crowdfunding.
The combination of plummeting prices for solar equipment and installation and generous federal and state incentives has widened their appeal. The Energy Department is encouraging their spread, publishing a guide to best practices in 2010, and is weighing proposals to award $15 million in grants to help design community projects.
In general, a developer builds a solar farm that can range from a few dozen panels on a rooftop to thousands sitting on more than 100 acres, and sells the electrical output of a set number of panels to each customer, depending on how much of their power use they want or can afford to offset. Customers then receive a credit for that power, often at a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour, that is then deducted from the energy portion of their electric bills.
Costs typically run $500 to $1,400 for a panel, said Paul Spencer, president of Clean Energy Collective, adding that customers benefit from the fact that the arrays can be situated in optimal locations to maximize energy production. But those costs can run higher in some markets, and customers must generally live within certain geographic or utility service boundaries.
The details vary from state to state, and can be complicated by how utilities charge customers. In Colorado, for instance, Xcel Energy customers continue to pay the standard nonenergy fees, but can buy enough solar shares to offset 120 percent of their load.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of zero bills,” said Brendan Miller, a civil engineer who said he paid about $10,000 for 11 panels to cover most of his electricity needs in his Denver condominium.
Interested in solar energy since high school, Mr. Miller had purchased a system for his previous home in Arizona and said the community solar arrangement was much simpler because he did not have to navigate the tax credits or installation himself.
“It was more of a financial transaction than a contractor-construction transaction,” he said.
In New York, the proposed system would allow customers to offset no more than 100 percent of their electric use and would limit their initial ownership period to five years for residential consumers and 10 years for businesses, with an option for renewal.
For customers, the systems offer flexibility, proponents say, because their interest in the panels is transferable so they can take the output with them if they move or turn it over to someone else. The community solar garden differs from another common way consumers can remotely buy green energy — energy service companies — because people like Mr. Miller buy into the array itself.
Still, they can carry high upfront costs depending on the size. For Mr. Polstein’s roughly 3,000-square-foot house in Newton, for instance, it would cost about $41,000 — after anticipated rebates and incentives — to buy 32 panels in the coming Massachusetts array. He likes the idea of contributing to the growth of solar, but worries that he may end up, as an early adopter, paying more than he should.
“It may not be the smartest investment if you’re only doing it from the point of view of money,” he said. “But if you factor in the idea that you’re trying to make a change in how the energy you use is produced and the effect it has on the world, then you can sort of rationalize it a little better even if five years from now you could do the same thing and it would cost a little less.”
A version of this article appears in print on June 20, 2014, on page B1 of the New York edition.
By CARL HULSE and MICHAEL D. SHEAR
Several Democrats in competitive Senate races have supported an E.P.A. proposal to curb power-plant emissions, citing growing public support for action and perceptions that Republicans are anti-science.
A Solar-backed Currency for the Refugees of Western Sahara.
What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun.
The HSBC ads at Newark International Airport could not have been more appropriate for my trek to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. As I ambled through the jet bridge with my carry-on, color-coordinated images of demure North African women met my eyes, accompanied by some facts assembled by the bank—”0.3% of Saharan solar energy could power Europe”—and a self-aggrandizing but, for me, prescient message: “Do you see a world of potential? We do.”
It was the fall of 2011, and I was on a string of flights from North Carolina to Algeria to participate in an ARTifariti convening of international artists presenting human rights–related projects at the Algerian camps and in Western Sahara. During previous gatherings, a New York–based art critic had presented a slide show to international artists and Sahrawi refugees, sharing pieces by activist artists and filmmakers such as Ai Weiwei and Spike Lee. The get-togethers offered a forum to consider artists who might do a project in the camps.
And in the end, the refugees had chosen a Chinese Texan who had spearheaded Operation Paydirt’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an artwork that prompted Americans to draw their own versions of $100 bills (in order to raise awareness of and prevent childhood lead poisoning). Essentially they said, “Bring us the guy with the money.” So I packed my bags and left for the western lands of North Africa.
At an unknown hour on a starless night, I arrived in the 27 February Camp—one of Algeria’s five Sahrawi refugee camps (named after the date in 1976 on which the Polisario Front declared the birth of the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic)—and was led to the home of our host, Abderrahman. As we entered his compound, the seasoned warrior, dressed in a blue darrâa, emerged from a UN tent, unfurled a carpet over the sand, ignited charcoal and began to prepare the customary tea for us. We attempted to translate from Hassaniya Arabic to Spanish to English over tea, getting a taste of enthusiastic nomad hospitality.
That night I heard firsthand the history of the Sahrawi people, who today are divided between Algerian refugee camps and a sliver of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara that they call the “liberated territories.” For nearly four decades, warfare and political powers have trapped more than 150,000 Sahrawis in the camps and separated them from their family members in the liberated territories, which are bounded by the Moroccan wall to the west and Algeria’s border to the east.
When Morocco and Mauritania invaded Western Sahara in 1975 (Mauritania withdrew in 1979), they split up the land and seized the Sahrawis’ natural resources—water, rich fishing grounds and the world’s largest phosphate mine. Now, inhabiting either the arid, landlocked region of Western Sahara or the bare-bones camps of Algeria, the Sahrawi people depend entirely on international humanitarian aid for food, water and medicine. And while Western Sahara has none of the lead-poisoning problems of postindustrial America, its liberated territories have more landmines than any other place on the planet.
In the morning I awoke from this harrowing chronicle in a land of sand and rock that was brutally burnished by the sun—and I can guarantee that there was no bank in sight. I soon learned why the Sahrawi people were so interested in the Fundred Dollar Bill project: they have no currency of their own and deal mostly with Algerian dinars. In response, we created a background template for their currency, printed thousands of blank bills and distributed them through the camps, announcing a design opportunity. After we curated their drawings, the Sahrawis would vote on the designs for what might become their first currency.
The denominations for the currency, called “sollars,” were 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Children and teens drew the 5s and 10s; young adults, the 20s; and of course, the elders, the 100s. But the designs for the 50s would have two adult versions, one male and one female. The survivalist family culture that has emerged from the hostile desert climate has enforced a long-standing code of equality between the sexes. In a region where food is scarce and hot summer temperatures and freezing desert nights can kill, whoever survives the elements must be allowed equal rights in the tribe to barter and represent the family, regardless of religious dictates.
While I was in the camps, I came to understand that the symbolic and therapeutic benefits of designing the first Sahrawi currency with the refugees were not worthy enough goals. The Sahrawi people need a real economy. And to make that happen, the fictional currency I helped the refugees design had to be backed by something real and exchangeable on international markets.
As I mulled over the problem under the blazing sun, I realized that the desert holds the potential to bring Sahrawis economic and political independence—and the leverage necessary to help us all combat climate change.
What the world needs now is the first Bank of the Sun. The first solar energy–backed currency in the world could bring the Sahrawi people an independent economy and offer a major breakthrough in an environmental quagmire. We would create a new model of banking and currency, free from the dominance of gold and oil, for first-world countries to follow.
And this model would be delivered by the Sahrawi people, who have been waiting for freedom and self-determination for 39 years! By achieving worldwide renown for freeing people from hydrocarbon dependency, the Sahrawi could then barter with the global community for another form of independence: their right to self-determination.
I admit that it was a pretty far-out and grand idea, but I suppose I did see a world of potential in Saharan solar energy, just like the jetway HSBC ad said. I was thinking like a bank.
After getting back from the Tindouf camps, I found myself in Texas, accepting a national award for my efforts in public art and, most likely, boring everyone with crazy talk about a Bank of the Sun in landmine-laced Western Sahara. My friends were more concerned about my diminishing sense of self-preservation than about anything I said—especially after I told them that my trip to Tifariti had been interrupted by the armed kidnapping of three foreign-aid workers from a neighboring refugee camp. They didn’t even entertain my ideas with any questions about how the bank idea could be pulled off.
As with most such gatherings, there was not much left to do after the award ceremony but drink and dance. So, with friends in tow, we honky-tonked through San Antonio, taking over a bar by the River Walk and proceeding to do what had to be done. While taking a break from the floor, I noticed a man about my age sitting at a table with a beer, tapping his feet to the bluesy beat. I had my posse pull him onto the floor. He began to move in a calculated way, like an engineer. Intrigued, I joined him and the party on the floor.
Over the din, I shouted, “What do you do?”
He shouted back, “I’m an engineer.”
“Really?” I asked. “What kind?”
“A solar engineer.”
I challenged Texas style: “So, ever heard of Western Sahara?”
Matter-of-factly he replied, “Yes, we designed a power station for the refugee camps there.”
For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds; the bodies in frantic motion seemed to stand still. I urged him off the dance floor. He told me, in an Australian accent, that he was Dr. Richard Corkish, head of photovoltaic engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Not only that—his colleague had just been in the same refugee camps I had visited, advising on how to power a women’s clinic. It was a profound coincidence, to say the least. We closed the bar, and I left clutching Dr. Corkish’s business card.
For me, a light flicked on, burning away the haze of booze and turning the blaring R&B into a background of sweet birds.
Since our night on the floor, Dr. Corkish has been an adviser to the Bank of the Sun, which is on its way to becoming a reality. He has assigned students the project as part of his curriculum and counseled us on the design of a modular, pragmatic stand-alone solar power plant in Western Sahara, as well as a cost-effective method for transmitting power. Following Corkish’s methodologies, we could generate more than enough energy for Sahrawi needs, creating a surplus to sell to neighboring countries or even to Europe. By working in the Western Sahara to retool our approach to energy, we would prove that the most advanced methods of solar-power storage and delivery are feasible even in a place with no infrastructure. The most appropriate technology for us all could be built from the sand up.
In February 2013 I discussed the project with Ahmad Bukhari, the Polisario representative to the United Nations, and later with Mohamed Yeslem Beisat, the ambassador to the United States for the Western Saharan people. Skeptical at first, they have both become advisers and creative collaborators.
To make the first Bank of the Sun a reality, we have to find a place where electricity can be generated that is both safe from armed conflict and close enough to someone interested in buying energy. Bukhari suggested placing the stand-alone solar power plant not in the camps but in Mijek, a nomadic outpost in the liberated territories. Mijek continues to be the most likely site because the energy could be sold to Zouérat, a town in northern Mauritania where an iron ore mine needs more power than is available. The Mauritanian ambassador recently confirmed that the country would buy any energy offered. I have started to seek funds for a fact-finding trek, during which I will finally step on the sands of Western Sahara.
During my time in the Sahrawi refugee camps, I relearned a lesson I picked up in the flood-wracked and environmentally poisoned parts of New Orleans: you are not inspired by tragedy or human suffering—you are compelled.
My brilliant translator, a young man named Mohamed Sulaiman Labat, was born in the camps and has never traveled beyond his host country, Algeria, or the shameful wall of sand and explosives erected by Morocco in Western Sahara. Sulaiman is majestic in his capacity for optimism and his aptitude for imagining alternative futures based on ideas we discussed during my stay. On our last night together, he spoke with me about staring each night into the vast sky above the camps. He then asked, “No disrespect, but why is it so easy for an artist to see our need for justice when the rest of the world can’t?”
A question like that makes you think about what could be and about how our humanity is challenged if we don’t take action to amplify his question—and to force an answer.
This piece from Creative Time Reports is republished without trying to track down permission. Climate Reports is made possible by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. This series is produced in conjunction with the 2013 Marfa Dialogues/NY organized by Ballroom Marfa, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Public Concern Foundation. We hope that the authors will not mind our trying to publicize their very sound dream for a mos reasonable future. The only question is if the world will be enlightened enough to see that the true realists are the dreamers of today.
“Rather than simply being outraged by the greed of the Koch Brothers, we should instead see their greed as a profound sickness and pray fervently for oligarchs like the Kochs to get better, for the sake of our country and the world’s future generations.”
The Get-Well Card I Sent to a Koch Brother.
By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News
17 May 14
Think back on the spiritual experience you had when surviving an early nineties plane crash that killed 34 people. What purpose were you kept alive to fulfill? I’ve asked myself the same question since last fall, when I somehow escaped a late-night fire that consumed everything I own in under three minutes and displaced 30 other housemates. Did we both miraculously survive these tragedies to work for the benefit of a small handful of tremendously wealthy individuals, or for the lasting good of society?
Your father, as you say, was “paranoid about Communism.” I imagine his vision of Communism was a populace living under the thumb of a corrupt government that took their homes, their rights, and forced them to labor eternally for meager wages with no ability to speak against it. Now compare that nightmare scenario to today’s America.
Millions have been made homeless by fraudulent foreclosure schemes. Globalization has eliminated millions of good-paying jobs. Most of the few job openings left are in part-time, minimum wage labor in the fast-food industry. Politicians are more interested in fundraising for their own re-election than in meeting the needs of their constituents. Americans who nonviolently assembled in public spaces three years ago and spoke against these injustices had their constitutional rights brutally suppressed by the state with tear gas, flash grenades, batons, and pepper spray. Your father’s picture of 20th-century Communism has come to 21st-century America. We both know this isn’t the nation the founding fathers, or your father, envisioned. Ask yourself – are you using your vast wealth to prolong this nightmare, or end it?
Your wealthy father raised you to respect hard work, and had you spend one hot summer driving a spade into Oklahoma ground that didn’t want to crack. That story reminded me of one hot, humid summer on my grandfather’s farm in Bourbon County, Kentucky, when I threw bales of hay into a loft, and knocked down a fence with a sledgehammer and crowbar to make room for a new one. Even though I’m middle-class and you’re the second-wealthiest man in New York City, we share a kinship through our upbringing. We both love this country and want to see it flourish. We’re also both spiritually-inclined people.
In Nichiren Buddhism, in which we chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to manifest a higher life condition and have a human revolution, one of the ten worlds we experience is the world of hunger, where no matter how much we have, it’s never enough to satisfy. The tenth world, Buddhahood, can be achieved by anyone, no matter how much evil they may have done. Imagine if you were no longer hungry, renounced your past causes, changed your karma, and had such a human revolution!
Devote your estate to lifting people out of poverty, and advocate for a government that respects fundamental human rights and basic needs. Honor your father’s anti-dictatorial ideals by demanding an end to the authoritarian policing and intrusive surveillance that’s akin to Czarist Russia, not the United States we were born in. Use your influence on politics to push for an economy that’s powered not by finite resources dug up from underground, but by the wind, the sun, and the water. Your company would be a leading innovator in developing and propagating these technologies and would be profitable beyond measure. Your name would be celebrated worldwide for ages, and you would leave a legendary legacy that would make Americans proud to speak your name long after you’re gone.
I’ll be continuing to pray for your human revolution. Get well soon.
All the best,
Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at email@example.com, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
Standing literally in the foot-prints of the WTC South Tower at the unveiling of the 9/11 Museum, President Obama remembered the greatest act of terrorism in mankind’s history by honoring one of the heroes of the day – young Wells Crowther – the red-bandana man of iron who lost his life saving others.
We have a beautiful show Dark Night Bright Stars
in Kyiv May 9-11, in New York May 18, 2014
In 1858 the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko was set free after 10 years imprisonment.
He met the great African American actor Ira Aldridge and drew his portrait.
created by Yara Arts Group with Julian Kytasty, Maria Pleshkevich, Mykola Shkaraban,
Tell your friends in and in Kyiv May 9, 10 & 11 – 7 PM at the Kurbas Theatre Center in Kyiv
Reservations (050) 385-2758
in New York May 18 at 3:30 PM the Ukrainian Museum in New York
Details & photos www.brama.com/yara