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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEW YORK TODAY: GOODBYE TO FRACKING!
The New York Times – December 18, 2014

When Governor Cuomo announced Wednesday that he would ban hydraulic fracking, an unusual thing happened outside his office in Midtown Manhattan. A party!

The block, often the site of protests and calls for change, saw environmental advocates rolling their signs into hats and dancing, said The Times’s photographer Chang W. Lee, who shot the celebration.

“It lasted about 35 minutes,” he said. “They were chanting, ‘We made it happen!’”

The question of allowing fracking upstate, a process involving injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to release oil and natural gas, became one of the most heated debates the state had seen in years.

In opposing it, Governor Cuomo cited a long-awaited health study that showed that fracking posed significant risks.

“Everyone was really happy and dancing and thanking the governor and thanking each other,” Mr. Lee said.

As the party was breaking up, a limo pulled up and the governor got out to a hero’s welcome.

“He started talking to everyone, kissing the girls,” said Leslie Roeder, an advocate with New Yorkers Against Fracking.
“It was very endearing.”

On a video posted to Youtube, Mr. Cuomo accepted a “Thank you, Gov. Cuomo” sign from the activists and told them, “You really did a great job of making your voice heard.”

“That’s what democracy is all about,” he continued. “I actually enjoyed seeing it in action — I know it didn’t always seem that way.”

—————————————————————————————


Election over and economy improved, Andrew Cuomo kicks fracking to the curb.

By Philip Bump, for THE FIX, The Washington Post, December 17, 2014

New York state’s acting health commissioner, Howard Zucker, released a report Wednesday that settled one of the most contentious political fights in the state. At some point early next year, New York will ban hydraulic fracturing — better known as “fracking” — because a review conducted by Zucker found “significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes” possible from the practice.

It’s far more likely that the real reason the ban will go into effect is that the politics changed dramatically for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). First, the state’s employment picture changed. And, second, he doesn’t need to worry about reelection for a long time — if at all.

Cuomo has avoided making a final decision on whether or not to allow fracking since he came into office. The Post’s Reid Wilson outlines the years-long machinations leading up to the decision. Cuomo, who is a master of working bureaucracy, repeatedly demanded analyses of possible health outcomes like that released this week. Now he stands behind the final product.

NY1 quotes the governor in response to Zucker’s announcement:

“It can create jobs. The negative is it’s dangerous and depending on which side of the table you’re on, that’s the argument. Obviously everybody is in favor of creating jobs, obviously everyone is against creating a dangerous public health or environment situation,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo insists that politics wasn’t involved. But that statement, to some extent, tips his hand.

In 2012, the New York Times reported that Cuomo would allow fracking in the state’s southernmost counties. That area has the strongest overlap with the rock formations in which fracking takes place: brittle shale, which is broken apart to release gas and oil. The Marcellus shale formation extends up from West Virginia into southern and central New York. Cuomo was reportedly considering letting companies drill only in part of it.


Why part? Almost certainly because the area was hard-hit economically. Upstate New York (here defined as “north of New York City”) has been struggling for years as the national economy has shifted, and after the recession, that got worse. Counties along the state’s southern border are not only more politically conservative (generally favoring Mitt Romney in 2012 and, therefore, more amenable to oil exploration), but they also needed jobs.

But even in western New York, there was contention. The Finger Lakes region, a bit further north, depends heavily on tourism. In 2012, I spoke with the Chamber of Commerce in Penn Yan, N.Y., at the tip of Keuka Lake, to gauge how the business community felt about the possibility of fracking. A representative said they were split: businesses that depended on tourism were worried about pollution in the lake, other businesses supported the possibility of job growth (which is very real; three cities in North Dakota were among the fastest-growing in the country in 2013, thanks to the boom in the Bakken shale formation in that state).

That was 2012. Over the past year, unemployment rates in the state have fallen, just as they have broadly across the country. Where the Finger Lakes were peppered with pro- and anti-fracking signs two years ago, this year, the signs dealt more often with Cuomo’s also-contentious gun control bill. While a lot of people upstate are still out of work, the urgency has faded a bit.

Also over the past year, Cuomo won reelection — handily, but not in a massive landslide. He took great pains in both the Democratic primary and general election to ensure as smooth a path as possible. If you believe that Cuomo didn’t defer a decision on fracking in part due to concerns about his campaign, you are less of a cynic than me.

In the end, Cuomo kicked the decision downstairs, leaving it up to the experts to decide. They decided against, certainly with Cuomo’s blessing. He’s not out of the woods politically; the economy could head south once again, so to speak.

But for now, Cuomo can at long last wash his hands of the issue — in pure, unpolluted Finger Lakes water.

———————–
Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the U.S. Section of The New York Times:

Even Before Long Winter Begins, Energy Bills Send Shivers in New England – we add to this – just think of their opposition to ocean-located wind-power. Oh well – it is easy to blame others!

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE – Weekend December 13, 2014

Starts with Photo of Patricia Richardson, 78, a retiree in Salem, N.H., who has taken energy-saving measures and said she could not understand why her bills had still increased. Credit Charlie Mahoney for The New York Times.

Then reporting from SALEM, N.H. — John York, who owns a small printing business here, nearly fell out of his chair the other day when he opened his electric bill.

For October, he had paid $376. For November, with virtually no change in his volume of work and without having turned up the thermostat in his two-room shop, his bill came to $788, a staggering increase of 110 percent. “This is insane,” he said, shaking his head. “We can’t go on like this.”

For months, utility companies across New England have been warning customers to expect sharp price increases, for which the companies blame the continuing shortage of pipeline capacity to bring natural gas to the region.

Now that the higher bills are starting to arrive, many stunned customers are finding the sticker shock much worse than they imagined. Mr. York said he would have to reduce his hours, avoid hiring any new employees, cut other expenses and ultimately pass the cost on to his customers.

Like turning back the clocks and putting on snow tires, bracing for high energy bills has become an annual rite of the season in New England. Because the region’s six states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont — have an integrated electrical grid, they all share the misery.

These latest increases are salt in the wound. New England already pays the highest electricity rates of any region in the 48 contiguous states because it has no fossil fuels of its own and has to import all of its oil, gas and coal. In September, residential customers in New England paid an average retail price of 17.67 cents per kilowatt-hour; the national average was 12.94 cents.

Beyond that, the increases confound common sense, given that global oil prices have dropped to their lowest levels in years, and natural gas is cheap and plentiful from the vast underground shale reserves in nearby Pennsylvania.

But the benefits are not being felt here. Connecticut’s rate of 19.74 cents per kilowatt-hour for September was the highest in the continental United States and twice that of energy-rich states like West Virginia and Louisiana. The lowest rate, 8.95 cents, was in Washington State, where the Columbia River is the nation’s largest producer of hydropower.

For the coming winter, National Grid, the largest utility in Massachusetts, expects prices to rise to 24.24 cents, a record high. The average customer will pay $121.20 a month, a 37 percent increase from $88.25 last winter.
Photo
John York, a small-business owner in Salem, paid 110 percent more for electricity in November than he had in October. Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

The utilities argue that they are hamstrung unless they can increase the pipeline capacity for natural gas, which powers more than half of New England. That would not only lower costs for consumers, they say, but also create thousands of construction jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The region has five pipeline systems now. Seven new projects have been proposed. But several of them — including a major gas pipeline through western Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and a transmission line in New Hampshire carrying hydropower from Quebec — have stalled because of ferocious opposition.

The concerns go beyond fears about blighting the countryside and losing property to eminent domain. Environmentalists say it makes no sense to perpetuate the region’s dependence on fossil fuels while it is trying to mitigate the effects of climate change, and many do not want to support the gas-extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has made the cheap gas from Pennsylvania available.

Consumers have been left in the middle, as baffled as they are angry. Utilities across the region are holding workshops and town meetings to try to address their concerns and offer tips on energy conservation. About 100 people showed up this month for a meeting at Salem High School here that included a presentation by Liberty Utilities, the largest natural gas distributor in New Hampshire.

John Shore, a company spokesman, told the audience that in times of peak demand, the available natural gas went first to residential and business customers. Some power plants that normally rely on gas then turn to more expensive fuels like oil, although not all plants have the ability to switch fuels. In some cases, electric generating plants go offline, and more expensive generators are used to make up the capacity.

Prices are also up this winter because they are based in part on last winter’s high prices. Arctic blasts from the polar vortex drove up the cost of wholesale power in New England to $5.05 billion for the three months from December 2013 through February 2014 alone — almost the same as the cost for the entire year of 2012.

Patricia Richardson, 78, a Salem retiree in the audience, said she had already had an energy audit on her 100-year-old house, installed triple-pane thermal windows, bought a new boiler, had insulation blown in and put weather stripping around leaks. She could not understand why her bill had still increased, even after pressing Mr. Shore.

Ms. Richardson said after the meeting that his explanation had been confusing. “I wanted to know in my heart that he was giving it to me square,” she said. “But I didn’t get that feeling.”
Photo
Marie Morris at a meeting at Salem High School held by Liberty Utilities, the largest natural gas distributor in New Hampshire. Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

Many utilities provide rebates when customers buy high-efficiency appliances, and offer free energy audits, savings plans and guidance on limiting energy use. Government programs and nonprofit organizations are stretching to help those who cannot pay the utility bills necessary to make it through this cold, dark season.

But even if these stopgap measures help some households in the short term, the outlook for the long term appears gloomy.

A year ago, the governors of the six New England states agreed to pursue a coordinated regional strategy, including more pipelines and at least one major transmission line for hydropower. The plan called for electricity customers in all six states to subsidize the projects, on the theory that they would make up that money in lower utility bills.

But in August, the Massachusetts Legislature rejected the plan, saying in part that cheap energy would flood the market and thwart attempts to advance wind and solar projects. That halted the whole effort.

“The impasse just kicks the can down the road, and I see no reason why this dynamic isn’t going to be repeated during the heating season for years to come,” said John Howat, a senior policy analyst at the National Consumer Law Center, a Boston-based nonprofit advocacy group for low-income residents.

“I think we need to be more aggressive in pursuing renewables and energy efficiency,” Mr. Howat said. “But I doubt we can implement those solutions quickly enough and at a sufficient scale to relieve the economic burden in the short term on those 30 percent of households that don’t have sufficient income to pay these bills.”

The problem may be getting worse, not only because of pipeline constraints but because old coal and oil power plants are being retired. The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which supplies nearly one-third of Vermont’s electricity, is also scheduled to go offline this month.

ISO New England, the independent system operator that oversees the region’s energy market, said it expected there to be “sufficient resources” this winter to meet demand. But in a November assessment, it called the pipeline constraints severe and said the reliability of the system would “continue to be threatened” until the region expanded its pipeline capacity or invested in other energy sources.

Figuring out how much new pipeline might be enough is not an easy calculation. Massachusetts, for one, is analyzing its needs now for a report due at the end of the month. It is a complex process, said Mark Sylvia, the state’s undersecretary for energy, because it must take into account the state’s desires to avoid dependence on one type of fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure reliability “so the lights stay on.”

———————
A version of this article appears in print on December 14, 2014, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Even Before Long Winter Begins, Energy Bills Send Shivers in New England.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Irith Jawetz writes from New York:

I just got back from the reception at the Austrian Consulate General in New York which was hosted by the Consul General and your friend Josef Mantl. I gave Mr. Mantl your regards and he reciprocated them.

This was a preview for a Charity auction at Sotheby to benefit operation Bobbi Bear in partnership with Arms Around the Child, which will take place on Monday, December 8th. Mr. Mantl and another Austrian gentleman Mr. Gery Keszler are involved in the Life Ball in Vienna and those bears are designed by celebrities and will be auctioned off. The celebrities who have their own bears include Bill Clinton, President Heinz Fischer, Vienna Mayor Michael Haeupl, Opera Star Anna Netrebko who lives now in Vienna, and many more. A few bears were on display tonight the rest are kept at Sotheby’s. The money will help abused children with HIV/AIDS in South Africa. This seems to be a huge problem there.

A few bears were on display tonight and sold! President Fischer’s Bear went for $1,300, and Mayor Haeupl’s bear fetched $ 1,350.

The Founder and Creative Director of Bobbi Bear, whose motto is “Giving abused children a voice” – Ms. Jackie Brandfield – is an incredible lady from South Africa. She runs this NGO from Durban.
I came very early and started talking to her without knowing who she was at first and we connected right away. I have her card and we became friends although she understood that I am not in the league of the bidders.

The South African NGO received tremendous help from Austria through the “Life Ball” event which is a huge charity event which takes place every year in Vienna and draws many celebrities including former President bill Clinton. This year the Life Ball will take place on May 16, 2015 inside the Vienna City Hall.

For further information about Bobbi Bear please visit keepachildalive.org

The children here are 5,6,7,8, years old and got aids because they were raped by people who had aids in the believe that this will help cure the AIDS. This was something I heard years ago in South Africa.

Above resonates because while I was in Johannesburg for the 2002 UN Global Summit, a lady of Scottish extract, helping out at my bed and breakfast Boer place, took me to visit an orphanage that was home to such children, and for which she did voluntary work. This was at a time we knew still very little of the AIDS scourge that was hitting Africa. She herself got interested because her son, of mixed race, a jazz musician, was living in a relationship with a black musician who contracted the virus. I was all amazed of complex human side of the new post-apartheid country. All volunteers there were church driven whites.

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

From George Soros, October 23,2014

In an essay published in the New York Review of Books entitled Wake Up, Europe George Soros says that European leaders are failing to show adequate financial and military support for Ukraine. The situation there, he argues, presents Europe with what amounts to an existential threat from Russia. “Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it.” he says. Soros goes on to propose a set of actions that Europe and US could take to assist Ukraine and, ultimately, further their own interests.

All best,

Michael Vachon

*****

Wake up, Europe

New York Review of Books

By George Soros

Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it. I attribute this mainly to the fact that the European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008.

The fiscal rules that currently prevail in Europe have aroused a lot of popular resentment. Anti-Europe parties captured nearly 30 percent of the seats in the latest elections for the European Parliament but they had no realistic alternative to the EU to point to until recently. Now Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. It is based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law. What is shocking is that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has proved to be in some ways superior to the European Union—more flexible and constantly springing surprises. That has given it a tactical advantage, at least in the near term.

Europe and the United States—each for its own reasons—are determined to avoid any direct military confrontation with Russia. Russia is taking advantage of their reluctance. Violating its treaty obligations, Russia has annexed Crimea and established separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. In August when the recently installed government in Kiev threatened to win the low level war in eastern Ukraine against separatist forces backed by Russia, President Putin invaded Ukraine with regular armed forces in violation of the Russian law that exempts conscripts from foreign service without their consent.

In seventy-two hours these forces destroyed several hundred of Ukraine’s armored vehicles, a substantial portion of its fighting force. According to General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, the Russians used multiple launch rocket systems armed with cluster munitions and thermal-baric warheads (an even more inhumane weapon that ought to be outlawed) with devastating effect. * The local militia from the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk suffered the brunt of the losses because they were communicating by cell phones and could thus easily be located and targeted by the Russians. President Putin has, so far, abided by a cease-fire agreement he concluded with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on September 5, but Putin retains the choice to continue the cease-fire as long as he finds it advantageous or to resume a full-scale assault.

In September, President Poroshenko visited Washington where he received an enthusiastic welcome from a joint session of Congress. He asked for “both lethal and nonlethal” defensive weapons in his speech. However, President Obama refused his request for Javelin hand-held missiles that could be used against advancing tanks. Poroshenko was given radar, but what use is it without missiles? European countries are equally reluctant to provide military assistance to Ukraine, fearing Russian retaliation. The Washington visit gave President Poroshenko a façade of support with little substance behind it.

Equally disturbing has been the determination of official international leaders to withhold new financial commitments to Ukraine until after the October 26 election there (which will take place just after this issue goes to press). This has led to an avoidable pressure on Ukrainian currency reserves and raised the specter of a full-blown financial crisis in the country.

There is now pressure from donors, whether in Europe or the US, to “bail in” the bondholders of Ukrainian sovereign debt, i.e., for bondholders to take losses on their investments as a pre-condition for further official assistance to Ukraine that would put more taxpayers’ money at risk. That would be an egregious error. The Ukrainian government strenuously opposes the proposal because it would put Ukraine into a technical default that would make it practically impossible for the private sector to refinance its debt. Bailing in private creditors would save very little money and it would make Ukraine entirely dependent on the official donors.

To complicate matters, Russia is simultaneously dangling carrots and wielding sticks. It is offering—but failing to sign—a deal for gas supplies that would take care of Ukraine’s needs for the winter. At the same time Russia is trying to prevent the delivery of gas that Ukraine secured from the European market through Slovakia. Similarly, Russia is negotiating for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the borders while continuing to attack Donetsk airport and the port city of Mariupol.

It is easy to foresee what lies ahead. Putin will await the results of the elections on October 26 and then offer Poroshenko the gas and other benefits he has been dangling on condition that he appoint a prime minister acceptable to Putin. That would exclude anybody associated with the victory of the forces that brought down the Viktor Yanukovych government by resisting it for months on the Maidan—Independence Square. I consider it highly unlikely that Poroshenko would accept such an offer. If he did, he would be disowned by the defenders of the Maidan; the resistance forces would then be revived.

Putin may then revert to the smaller victory that would still be within his reach: he could open by force a land route from Russia to Crimea and Transnistria before winter. Alternatively, he would simply sit back and await the economic and financial collapse of Ukraine. I suspect that he may be holding out the prospect of a grand bargain in which Russia would help the United States against ISIS—for instance by not supplying to Syria the S300 missiles it has promised, thus in effect preserving US air domination—and Russia would be allowed to have its way in the “near abroad,” as many of the nations adjoining Russia are called. What is worse, President Obama may accept such a deal.

That would be a tragic mistake, with far-reaching geopolitical consequences. Without underestimating the threat from ISIS, I would argue that preserving the independence of Ukraine should take precedence; without it, even the alliance against ISIS would fall apart. The collapse of Ukraine would be a tremendous loss for NATO, the European Union, and the United States. A victorious Russia would become much more influential within the EU and pose a potent threat to the Baltic states with their large ethnic Russian populations. Instead of supporting Ukraine, NATO would have to defend itself on its own soil. This would expose both the EU and the US to the danger they have been so eager to avoid: a direct military confrontation with Russia. The European Union would become even more divided and ungovernable. Why should the US and other NATO nations allow this to happen?

The argument that has prevailed in both Europe and the United States is that Putin is no Hitler; by giving him everything he can reasonably ask for, he can be prevented from resorting to further use of force. In the meantime, the sanctions against Russia—which include, for example, restrictions on business transactions, finance, and trade—will have their effect and in the long run Russia will have to retreat in order to earn some relief from them.

These are false hopes derived from a false argument with no factual evidence to support it. Putin has repeatedly resorted to force and he is liable to do so again unless he faces strong resistance. Even if it is possible that the hypothesis could turn out to be valid, it is extremely irresponsible not to prepare a Plan B.

There are two counterarguments that are less obvious but even more important. First, Western authorities have ignored the importance of what I call the “new Ukraine” that was born in the successful resistance on the Maidan. Many officials with a history of dealing with Ukraine have difficulty adjusting to the revolutionary change that has taken place there. The recently signed Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine was originally negotiated with the Yanukovych government. This detailed road map now needs adjustment to a totally different situation. For instance, the road map calls for the gradual replacement and retraining of the judiciary over five years whereas the public is clamoring for immediate and radical renewal. As the new mayor of Kiev, Wladimir Klitschko, put it, “if you put fresh cucumbers into a barrel of pickles, they will soon turn into pickles.”

Contrary to some widely circulated accounts, the resistance on the Maidan was led by the cream of civil society: young people, many of whom had studied abroad and refused to join either government or business on their return because they found both of them repugnant. (Nationalists and anti-Semitic extremists made up only a minority of the anti-Yanukovych protesters.) They are the leaders of the new Ukraine and they are adamantly opposed to a return of the “old Ukraine,” with its endemic corruption and ineffective government.

The new Ukraine has to contend with Russian aggression, bureaucratic resistance both at home and abroad, and confusion in the general population. Surprisingly, it has the support of many oligarchs, President Poroshenko foremost among them, and the population at large. There are of course profound differences in history, language, and outlook between the eastern and western parts of the country, but Ukraine is more united and more European-minded than ever before. That unity, however, is extremely fragile.

The new Ukraine has remained largely unrecognized because it took time before it could make its influence felt. It had practically no security forces at its disposal when it was born. The security forces of the old Ukraine were actively engaged in suppressing the Maidan rebellion and they were disoriented this summer when they had to take orders from a government formed by the supporters of the rebellion. No wonder that the new government was at first unable to put up an effective resistance to the establishment of the separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. It is all the more remarkable that President Poroshenko was able, within a few months of his election, to mount an attack that threatened to reclaim those enclaves.

To appreciate the merits of the new Ukraine you need to have had some personal experience with it. I can speak from personal experience although I must also confess to a bias in its favor. I established a foundation in Ukraine in 1990 even before the country became independent. Its board and staff are composed entirely of Ukrainians and it has deep roots in civil society. I visited the country often, especially in the early years, but not between 2004 and early 2014, when I returned to witness the birth of the new Ukraine.

I was immediately impressed by the tremendous improvement in maturity and expertise during that time both in my foundation and in civil society at large. Currently, civic and political engagement is probably higher than anywhere else in Europe. People have proven their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their country. These are the hidden strengths of the new Ukraine that have been overlooked by the West.

The other deficiency of the current European attitude toward Ukraine is that it fails to recognize that the Russian attack on Ukraine is indirectly an attack on the European Union and its principles of governance. It ought to be evident that it is inappropriate for a country, or association of countries, at war to pursue a policy of fiscal austerity as the European Union continues to do. All available resources ought to be put to work in the war effort even if that involves running up budget deficits. The fragility of the new Ukraine makes the ambivalence of the West all the more perilous. Not only the survival of the new Ukraine but the future of NATO and the European Union itself is at risk. In the absence of unified resistance it is unrealistic to expect that Putin will stop pushing beyond Ukraine when the division of Europe and its domination by Russia is in sight.

Having identified some of the shortcomings of the current approach, I will try to spell out the course that Europe ought to follow. Sanctions against Russia are necessary but they are a necessary evil. They have a depressive effect not only on Russia but also on the European economies, including Germany. This aggravates the recessionary and deflationary forces that are already at work. By contrast, assisting Ukraine in defending itself against Russian aggression would have a stimulative effect not only on Ukraine but also on Europe. That is the principle that ought to guide European assistance to Ukraine.

Germany, as the main advocate of fiscal austerity, needs to understand the internal contradiction involved. Chancellor Angela Merkel has behaved as a true European with regard to the threat posed by Russia. She has been the foremost advocate of sanctions on Russia, and she has been more willing to defy German public opinion and business interests on this than on any other issue. Only after the Malaysian civilian airliner was shot down in July did German public opinion catch up with her. Yet on fiscal austerity she has recently reaffirmed her allegiance to the orthodoxy of the Bundesbank—probably in response to the electoral inroads made by the -Alternative for Germany, the anti-euro party. She does not seem to realize how inconsistent that is. She ought to be even more committed to helping Ukraine than to imposing sanctions on Russia.

The new Ukraine has the political will both to defend Europe against Russian aggression and to engage in radical structural reforms. To preserve and reinforce that will, Ukraine needs to receive adequate assistance from its supporters. Without it, the results will be disappointing and hope will turn into despair. Disenchantment already started to set in after Ukraine suffered a military defeat and did not receive the weapons it needs to defend itself.

It is high time for the members of the European Union to wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war. They are better off helping Ukraine to defend itself than having to fight for themselves. One way or another, the internal contradiction between being at war and remaining committed to fiscal austerity has to be eliminated. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Let me be specific. In its last progress report, issued in early September, the IMF estimated that in a worst-case scenario Ukraine would need additional support of $19 billion. Conditions have deteriorated further since then. After the Ukrainian elections the IMF will need to reassess its baseline forecast in consultation with the Ukrainian government. It should provide an immediate cash injection of at least $20 billion, with a promise of more when needed. Ukraine’s partners should provide additional financing conditional on implementation of the IMF-supported program, at their own risk, in line with standard practice.

The spending of borrowed funds is controlled by the agreement between the IMF and the Ukrainian government. Four billion dollars would go to make up the shortfall in Ukrainian payments to date; $2 billion would be assigned to repairing the coal mines in eastern Ukraine that remain under the control of the central government; and $2 billion would be earmarked for the purchase of additional gas for the winter. The rest would replenish the currency reserves of the central bank.

The new assistance package would include a debt exchange that would transform Ukraine’s hard currency Eurobond debt (which totals almost $18 billion) into long-term, less risky bonds. This would lighten Ukraine’s debt burden and bring down its risk premium. By participating in the exchange, bondholders would agree to accept a lower interest rate and wait longer to get their money back. The exchange would be voluntary and market-based so that it could not be mischaracterized as a default. Bondholders would participate willingly because the new long-term bonds would be guaranteed—but only partially—by the US or Europe, much as the US helped Latin America emerge from its debt crisis in the 1980s with so-called Brady bonds (named for US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady).

Such an exchange would have a few important benefits. One is that, over the next two or three critical years, the government could use considerably less of its scarce hard currency reserves to pay off bondholders. The money could be used for other urgent needs.

By trimming Ukraine debt payments in the next few years, the exchange would also reduce the chance of a sovereign default, discouraging capital flight and arresting the incipient run on the banks. This would make it easier to persuade owners of Ukraine’s banks (many of them foreign) to inject urgently needed new capital into them. The banks desperately need bigger capital cushions if Ukraine is to avoid a full-blown banking crisis, but shareholders know that a debt crisis could cause a banking crisis that wipes out their equity.

Finally, Ukraine would keep bondholders engaged rather than watch them cash out at 100 cents on the dollar as existing debt comes due in the few years. This would make it easier for Ukraine to reenter the international bond markets once the crisis has passed.

Under the current conditions it would be more practical and cost-efficient for the US and Europe not to use their own credit directly to guarantee part of Ukraine’s debt, but to employ intermediaries such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the World Bank and its subsidiaries.

The Ukrainian state-owned company Naftogaz is a black hole in the budget and a major source of corruption. Naftogaz currently sells gas to households for $47 per trillion cubic meters (TCM), for which it pays $380 per TCM. At present people cannot control the temperature in their apartments. A radical restructuring of Naftogaz’s entire system could reduce household consumption at least by half and totally eliminate Ukraine’s dependence on Russia for gas. That would involve charging households the market price for gas. The first step would be to install meters in apartments and the second to distribute a cash subsidy to needy households.

The will to make these reforms is strong both in the new management and in the incoming government but the task is extremely complicated (how do you define who is needy?) and the expertise is inadequate. The World Bank and its subsidiaries could sponsor a project development team that would bring together international and domestic experts to convert the existing political will into bankable projects. The initial cost would exceed $10 billion but it could be financed by project bonds issued by the European Investment Bank and it would produce very high returns.

It is also high time for the European Union to take a critical look at itself. There must be something wrong with the EU if Putin’s Russia can be so successful even in the short term. The bureaucracy of the EU no longer has a monopoly of power and it has little to be proud of. It should learn to be more united, flexible, and efficient. And Europeans themselves need to take a close look at the new Ukraine. That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union. The European Union would save itself by saving Ukraine.

* I am deeply disturbed by a report in the NY Times quoting the Human Rights Watch that subsequently – on October 2 and 5- Ukrainians also used cluster bombs, which I condemn. NATO should clarify both alleged Ukrainian and Russian use of such munitions.

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EU leaders gear up for heated climate summit

The EUobserver – October 23, 2014

By Peter Teffer

Brussels – The EU’s 28 leaders are meeting on Thursday (23 October) in Brussels for what are expected to be tough negotiations on climate targets.

The so-called climate and energy framework is expected to contain specific targets for 2030 in the form of percentages.

While the European commission, which did a sort of opening bid in January, emphasizes its targets are “in line with science”, the figures fall victim to political bargaining.

At least seven of the EU’s 28 member states, mostly central and eastern European countries, want a 25 percent target for energy efficiency by 2030, instead of the 30 percent proposed by the commission and laid down in the draft conclusions.

They fear too ambitious goals will harm their competitiveness towards non-EU states.

A diplomatic source from one member state predicted the negotiators will end up with an efficiency figure in the middle: “I guess it will be 27 percent.”

The talks of Thursday focus on three targets for 2030. In addition to the efficiency target, EU leaders will discuss what share of the EU’s energy should come from renewable sources in 2030, and by how much greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced.

However countries come with a shopping list of ‘wants’. The UK wants only a greenhouse gas target. Ireland wants its heavy dependence on agriculture taken into account. Central and easter European countries want “conditional targets” which can be adjusted depending on the outcome of global climate talks in Paris in 2015.

This is because the EU by itself cannot limit global warming – it will need to convince other countries to also cut back on emissions.

The average global temperature has already risen about 0.85 degrees Celsius between 1880 and 2012, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The European Commission, the EU’s executive organisation, believes that to achieve the goal of not having the global average temperature increase by more than 2 degree Celsius (seen by experts as the minimum that needs to be achieved) the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in 2050 – compared to the level in 1990.

The commission says that a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 2030 – again, compared to 1990 levels – will put the bloc on track for the 2050 goal of an 80 percent reduction, athough this is disputed by environmental groups.

Brigitte Knopf, researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, emphasizes that science alone cannot be the only basis for policy-makers.

“How to distribute the burden? Who has to reduce how much of the emissions? These are ethical questions which clearly belong to the policy side.”

These questions will be discussed in Brussels starting Thursday afternoon, evening and possibly night.
Economy

While EU leaders will tackle climate change on Thursday, tomorrow will see them talk about the economy amid heightened concerns about the health of the Eurozone.

A special meeting of the 18 single currency leaders, as well European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi, will begin at lunchtime.

Worries about the eurozone have begun to increase again amid fears of deflation and with Germany, the biggest economy, suffering a slowdown.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund warned there is a 40 percent chance of the eurozone falling into recession again.

The meeting also comes against the backdrop of highly sensitive assessments of national budgets to be taken by the European Commission, with France particularly on Brussels’ radar.
Ebola

EU leaders are also due to discuss how to increase their support for Ebola-stricken countries in west Africa.

UK leader David Cameron is set to ask EU leaders to follow the UK in screening air passengers coming from the outbreak zone. Only France and Belgium have screening at their main airports.

Earlier this week foreign ministers agreed to more co-ordination of resources to fight the disease.
European Commission

Finally, in what is mostly a formality, the council wll appoint the new European Commission under the leadership of Jean-Claude Juncker.

This summit thus also is a send-off for Juncker’s predecessor, Jose-Manuel Barroso. It is also the last council summit chaired by Herman van Rompuy, who will be succeeded by Donald Tusk.

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Lobbying for Sustainable Development and Sustainability in general go on in parallel – like in:

“Beim Europäischen Rat am 23. und 24. Oktober werden die Staats- und RegierungschefInnen der EU über einen neuen Rahmen für die EU-Klima- und Energiepolitik bis 2030 entscheiden. In einem Lobbybrief an Bundeskanzler Faymann weist die AG Globale Verantwortung auf die Auswirkungen der EU-Klimapolitik auf internationale Entwicklung hin und fordert ambitionierte Zielsetzungen.

Der Lobbybrief der AG Globale Verantwortung erging gemeinsam mit einem Brief des europäischen Dachverbands CONCORD an Bundeskanzler Faymann sowie in Kopie an Vizekanzler Mitterlehner, Bundesminister Kurz und Bundesminister Rupprechter.”

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

First our posting of October 21st – then the Jewish Week article reporting from St. Louis that was coincidentally written also October 21, 2014 and todate is the best article we found in the printed press.

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We saw last night the Metropolitan Opera’s opening of the Opera titled “The Death of Klinghoffer” and we came out with a firm conclusion that the roaring controversy is all nothing more then a misunderstanding created by an unfortunate choice of the name of the Opera.

PROLOGUE:

Yesterday my wife was having lunch with one of her lady-friends at EJ’s Luncheonette. Her friend, a New Englander, has a daughter who is media-correspondent in the Middle East and the family is very much aware of what goes on in that corner of the world.
She asked my wife what she thinks of the brouhaha that surrounds the MET, and my wife said that we are going to see it “tonight” as I saw it years ago when it was first performed and do not recollect that I had misgivings at that time. That was the era of operas like “Einstein on the Beach” and “Nixon in China.”

Another lady, seemingly a grandmother having pancakes with her grand-daughter, before leaving the restaurant, turned to my wife and said that she is going to the opera – “to demonstrate.” My wife asked her – “did you see the opera?” The lady answered NO!
My wife said then that she is going to see it in order to be able to make up her mind and the lady answered – “Fair Enough!.

I did see the opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music September 1991 still the days of President Bush the First, and coincidentally, was also at a Chamber Orchestra semi-staged performance at a modern restored building in Geneva, Switzerland, (1998) that was funded in part by a rich local Jewish Real Estate man and his Israeli wife. There were really no accusations of antisemitism that I remember.

The work, composed by John Adams with libretto by poet Alice Goodman – the same team that also wrote “Nixon in China” (1987) -
is presented as the memory of the Captain of the Achille Lauro passenger cruise-ship that was involved in the October 1985 highjacking by four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) that ended with the murderous execution of American wheelchair-bound Mr. Leon Klinghoffer.

First let us note that John Adams, besides the mentioned two operas also created “On The Transmigration of Souls” (2002) -
a choral piece that commemorates the 9/11 2001 events – for which Adams was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2003, and with Peter Sellars as librettist he created the “Dr. Atomic” Opera (2005) on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan Project and the development of the atomic bomb – all three operas mentioned were produced also by the MET.

The 1991 production of Klinghoffer was staged with the help of Peter Sellars and the present days MET production was done with staging by Tom Morris. I seem to remember that the 1991 production started with the image of the ship – something non existent in 2014. This production starts with people running around with green Islamic flags and inducting Omar into the group. He is then bound to be one of the four hijackers. Later we see him interacting with one of the two Klinghoffer daughters.

We find it unacceptable to focus on corners of humanity when centering on lamentations by Palestinians for lost homes when seeing them run around with those green flags as if they were doing Allah’s work. And that is really the point – it looks like real daily life as presented on our TVs. That PLF is now – 24 years since the take-over of Achille Lauro – morphed into Al Qaeda, Hamas, ISIL, the Al-Nusra Front …and yes – Boko Haram, the Somali Shabaab, the Libyan and Yemen Islamists as well.

Leon Klinghoffer told the hijackers that they were wrong in what they were doing – in some ways he was actually a hero tied to his wheelchair. He saw the reality. He was on a trip to Egypt with his family – he did not hate Arabs as such – he was on his way to see the pyramids. His antagonists did hate the Jews because thy were from abroad – no recognition on the Arab side that these Jews must be fit somehow into their life as they were actually people that came home to the region for which they have historic ties as well.

Look again at those green flags and think for a moment. If those flags represent real life so just stand up and acknowledge that the show before you is a negative picture not of Klinghoffer but of what the four hijackers stand for – and yes – THEY EXECUTE KLINGHOFFER BECAUSE THEY CANNOT ACCEPT THAT THIS MAN IN HIS WHEELCHAIR HAS THE STRENGTH TO TELL THEM OFF.

The 100 people outside Lincoln Center sitting in wheel-chairs under a sign saying “I am Klinghoffer” did not demonstrate against antisemitism. They actually spoke up in my opinion against the green-flag-waving lunatics.

It is not about the death of Klingoffer – but about the lunacy of his executioners – so for Pete’s sake object to all those Middle-Easterners running around with colored flags – green or black – but stop accusing the whole world of antisemitism.
RENAME THE OPERA AND CHANGE NOTHING FROM WHAT YOU SEE – Do you not realize that whatever is your cause – this opera actually helps you by the mere fact that the artistic creators aimed at pure neutrality and brought to us a documentary?

In the hall there was one demonstrator who shouted as long as he could:”THE MURDER OF KLINGHOFFER WILL NEVER BE FORGIVEN.”
His intervention had clear echos – at first we heard only three people clapping their hands after the run of the flags, but there was strong applause at the end of the performance. THE AUDIENCE ACCEPTED THE TOTALITY OF THE SHOW.

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‘Klinghoffer’ As Gateway To Dialogue

In St. Louis, the controversial opera served as a foundation for new relationships across faith lines.
10/21/14
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Special To The Jewish Week

For the past few weeks, my email and social media have been inundated with discussions and links to flyers, articles and events that all support the opposition, protest and even disruption of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer.” And I disagree with each one.

Like many, if not most, of the protesters, I have not seen “The Death of Klinghoffer” or read its libretto. I cannot comment on its content nor its staging. I make no judgment to classify it as anti-Semitic or to argue against such a classification. I also cannot make any determination of its commentary on terrorism, those who perpetuate those heinous acts, and those who fall victim to these horrific crimes.

My disagreement is not with the offense that they take to the performance — although I would hope that each person would choose to at least read the text for themselves before coming to a final conclusion — but with the chosen response.

The Jewish community in New York has chosen to launch a passionate protest against the performance and, in doing so, they have let a tremendous opportunity fall by the wayside.

In 2011, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis staged a production of “The Death of Klinghoffer” — the first staging of the full opera in the United States in 20 years. The Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis did not object to the performance, but instead partnered with the Opera Theatre and other faith-based and arts organizations to prepare study guides, coordinate community events, organize roundtable discussion and engage in deeper dialogue around painful and difficult subjects.

Instead of igniting hatred or perpetuating anti-Semitism, as some protesters have predicted, the opera served as a foundation for new relationships across faith lines. In fact, these initiatives sparked a new nonprofit initiative, Arts & Faith St. Louis, based on the belief that the arts have a unique power to inspire thoughtful discussion among diverse audiences, to bring people together and to bridge divides through shared experiences. This initiative has brought together leaders across the faith communities of St. Louis (Jews, Muslims and Christians) with leaders in the art world to respond to pressing needs in our region and to create innovative approaches to difficult discussions.

These conversations are not easy. Often, they are quite painful. To engage in dialogue around such profoundly tender and traumatic topics such as terrorism, anti-Semitism, extremism, hate crimes, identity, abuse and fear, by definition, requires a person to be immensely vulnerable.

The bonds that can form between two people who strip away their protective shells and open their minds and hearts to one another, however, is immeasurable.

I admire the monumental efforts of the organizers in New York to raise awareness for their cause, to coordinate partners and organize demonstrations. I am confident that, as the objectors state, “The Death of Klinghoffer” is both disturbing and uncomfortable. But a protest is easy. To protest the opera is to express a voice — a unilateral opinion shared through words on a placard or the dramatic imagery of 100 wheelchairs staged at Lincoln Center.

Instead, I invite all those who plan to protest the production to choose to engage. To take the difficult, likely painful step, to opt for dialogue over demonstrations, proaction over protests.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York is the largest classical music organization in North America, with the capacity for nearly 4,000 viewers at each opera performance. The opportunity here is monumental. We can choose to seize the moment, or to stand on the sidelines, holding placards, as it passes us by.

Please, choose the difficult path. Choose the disturbing. Choose discomfort. Choose dialogue.

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss is director of programming, education, and community engagement at Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BUSINESS LITIGATION CORNER

Responding to Stockholder Inspection Demands Under Delaware Code § 220

Delaware Code § 220 gives stockholders the right to inspect a corporation’s books and records subject to important limitations that have developed in the Delaware caselaw. This article explains the scope of and limitations on that right, and it also discusses the 10 questions that a corporation should consider upon receipt of such a request.
View the full article »

DELAWARE: Shareholders Entitled to Privileged Corporate Documents »
NEW YORK: Shareholders Allowed to Inspect Books and Records »

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We knew Hank as a friend and tennis partner of Ernie Schneider who was the editor of the writings of Mr. Herman Kahn of the Hudson Institute (the Herman on the Hudson). We met Hank at the house of Suzy and Ernie Schneider. Suzy who was a daughter to a honored Austrian family was a colleague of my wife at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City and the Schneiders and Laventhols lived in Croton on the Hudson.

Hank liked to talk politics but professionally was rather a relaxed painter who liked classic music and jazz. We praised his work, and for disclosure I must say that we are proud of one of his piano/Chopin prints that hangs in our Vienna living room next to a New Orleans Jazz scene done by our son Gil.

When I first wrote the review I wanted to make reference to Hank’s whole range of work and realized that some of the reviews of his work were under a wrong spelling of his name that used the letter “a” instead of the “o” in Laventhol. I did not think that he should suffer from that seemingly widespread mistake and mentioned this other spelling as well. It turns out that Ms. Laventhol is upset with this alternate spelling – so I am taking it of my posting but have no power over all those other articles one finds on the internet.

Also, and this is more substantial, I was not careful in giving credits to the source of the material I quoted in that first posting. Now let me add here that probably all the photos of the paintings by Hank Laventhol were taken by his wife – Josay Laventhol. Probably much of the data about him was also taken from biography written by his wife, though I am sure I peppered it with material from some of the other reviews as well. Sorry if all of this has hurt feelings of the family.


THE FOLLOWING IS PART OF OUR ORIGINAL REVIEW OF DECEMBER 26, 2011.

HANK  LAVENTHOL  

Birth name     Henry Lee Laventhol

Born               21 December 1927

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Died               21 February 2001

Somers, New York

Field              painting, graphics, sculpture,

photography

Movement     neosurrealism

Laventhol’s mysteriously romantic  landscapes and  multiple  images evoke dream states and double meanings.” Pictures on Exhibit. N.Y.C.

shell wars, oil on linen, 20”X26”        Image 1

Hank Laventhol, an American painter,   made his early career in Europe. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Laventhol graduated Yale University with a B.A. in Fine Arts and did post graduate studies at Columbia University. At age 32 he left his business life in New York City for Europe to pursue his early vocation and life long interest in art. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy and eventually spent ten years in Europe, making his home in Mallorca, Spain. He had four solo shows in London and exhibited in  major cities in Western Europe.  He returned to the United States for good in 1970, settling in Westchester County, New York, with his  Dutch born wife.

Trained as a sculptor he  worked in many other media, including painting, print making, drawing and photography.  He said “ they all mesh for me.” Laventhol painted on wooden panels prepared with gesso using the ancient egg tempera technique until he towed an American couple  in a failing rental car to a garage outside Madrid.  In gratitude, they sent him a roll of Belgian linen which started him painting on canvas using oil and acrylics.

He was a master printer,  specializing in multi plate color etchings and aquatints, a demanding and precise process that provided him with a variety of color and texture, unrivaled by any other etching technique. He owned two Wright presses and pulled his own limited edition  prints. Publishers include Associated American Artists,  New York Graphic Society, Original Print Collectors Group Ltd., Georges Visat, Paris, and Pierre Chave, Vence, France.  Laventhol was a guest lecturer at Pratt Graphic Center, New York City and wrote articles about print making,   specializing in how to achieve perfect register in multiple color aquatint.

In the United States, his work was seen at four solo shows in New York City as well as  one man and group  shows across America.

Laventhol’s work is in corporate and private collections, museums and libraries, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Yale University Museum, the New York Public Library Print Collection, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Bibliotèque Nationale,  Paris, France.  Laventhol has been listed in Benezit, the definitive international  Directory of Artists.

Published illustrated portfolios include: “Le Miroir Aux Alouettes” by Georges Visat, Paris, with six color aquatint etchings and a poem by Andre Serini. Later porfolios include “Les Crises” and “Eyedeas.”

Eggs, eyes, roses, and flying torsos were recurring themes. Some critics considered him a surrealist. Laventhol, however, preferred to think of his work as dealing with fantasy realism.

* * *

Hank Laventhol, a gregarious,  kind man with a fine, broad mind  enjoyed life to the fullest. Besides being a disciplined, hard worker he had a wide array of interests and hobbies. His art was his passion, but he rarely started a day without an early game of tennis. He was an eclectic music lover and an opera and chamber music buff.  It was hilarious to hear him sing along with all the voices while listening to an opera as he worked. He was well versed in American folk music and loved playing  his classical  guitar  -  not well,  he admitted. During the 1960s he sought out small locales all over Europe to tape indigenous music – Flamenco in Spain, Fado in Portugal, Stornelli in Italy and jazz in Northern Europe – using a huge reel to reel recorder.  Mexican and South American indigenous music  was another interest added to his music  collection .

He spoke fluent Spanish and Italian and said he knew enough French,  Dutch and German  to defend himself. Whatever the topic, he communicated. His sense of humor got him past being embarrassed. An adventurous traveler with an infallible sense of direction, Laventhol met his Dutch born wife over a chessboard in Mallorca, Spain, and was kind enough to let her win a few times during the ensuing 40 years. An imaginative chef, he made up his own multi cultural recipes. Stuffed trout was served with the head on. Asian wok-cooked food was a treat. Dill, unavailable in Mallorca, was imported from the U.S. to pickle a fresh crop of cucumbers in large clay pots placed around his Mallorca rental house.  When  they started fizzing,  it was time to serve them to his  “expat” friends, together with his amazingly good  baked beans. He used a wood chip smoker to prepare  fish and fowl and made his own gravlax and seviche. He said eating Dutch New Herring in the Netherlands was a life altering experience.

Frugal artistic life never held his ingenious imagination back. Any potential problem or road block was dealt with and solutions found. The Mallorcan car mechanic built an hibachi that was carried from his tiny fishing boat, which he called,  a “one lunger”, to friends’ houses. The same mechanic fabricated a roof rack for a convertible VW beetle  to carry paintings to art shows. Laventhol’s talents  converted what he saw as poetry into striking atmospheric work with a touch of the mystical.

* * *

1991                                                                       1992 – self portrait
hand /eye wind mill

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Chris Thomas, SierraRise


First Google, then Yelp and Facebook…but where’s eBay?

Tell eBay: Quit ALEC today!

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Dear Pincas,

Huge news!

Google is dumping the Koch-fueled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an extremist group that pushes legislation like forcing public schools to teach climate denial.

The announcement comes on the heels of the People’s Climate March where more than 400,000 people hit the streets of New York City for a clean energy future and after you helped send 100,000 messages to Google asking them to stop funding ALEC. It’s clear our work is paying off.

But we can’t stop now! eBay is still funding these climate deniers. Tell them to join Google and the 50 other corporations that have quit ALEC.

America’s technological innovators have sent a message loud and clear: groups that promote a climate denying agenda have no place in the 21st century.

Just the other day, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show that “The people who oppose [climate change] are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying.”

BOOM!

Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Facebook, and Microsoft have all stopped funding ALEC. Tell eBay it’s time to join the exodus. Help us send 30,000 messages to John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, today.

Thanks for all you do to protect the environment. Together we are showing ALEC and the Koch brothers that America won’t stand for its climate denying agenda any longer!

In it together,

Chris Thomas
SierraRise

P.S. Five signatures are even more powerful than one — after you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends, family, and colleagues!

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ALSO:

Dear Pincas,

Momentum is building in our fight against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Just this week, tech leaders like Google, Microsoft, and Yelp have announced their withdrawal from the shadowy corporate lobby, but AOL and Yahoo! are still financing ALEC’s backroom dealing.

Tell AOL and Yahoo! to cut their ties with ALEC and publicly separate from the organization.

Here’s our message to Yahoo and AOL:

notgoodbusiness4

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt had this to say about ALEC and its work on Monday: “Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people—they’re just, they’re just literally lying.”

What’s more, ALEC calls itself a charity, allowing its corporate members to deduct payments to ALEC on their tax returns. That’s right, ALEC lets corporate lobbyists write legislation behind closed doors, then sticks you with the bill! Nobody wants to associate with such shady behavior, which is why ALEC’s corporate sponsors are leaving by the dozens.

Sign our petition today and tell Yahoo and AOL to follow suit! We’ll deliver your message to their D.C. offices next Tuesday.

Thanks for all you do,

Jay Riestenberg
and the rest of the team at Common Cause


THE LATEST NEWS = YAHOO PULLED OUT = AOL DID NOT PULL OUT YET !!

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


The New York Climate Week: Where to discuss, rally and protest climate change in the Big Apple.

4 Big Activist Events for New York’s Climate Week

Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Where to discuss, rally and protest climate change in the Big Apple. READ MORE»

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The Climate March: Will It Be a Call to Arms For the Earth, Or Are More Radical Actions Needed?

By Bill McKibben and Chris Hedges, Democracy Now!, Truthdig

Two opposing viewpoints from the event’s organizer and an activist journalist. READ MORE»

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We’re Wrecking the Planet for the Next Millennia: Biggest Rally Over Climate Change in Human History Coming Up

Eddie Bautista, La Tonya Crisp-Sauray and Bill McKibben, Tom Dispatch

We march because we know that climate change affects everyone, but its impacts are not equally felt. READ MORE»

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Paul Krugman Has Some Truly Shocking News About Climate Change

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Hint: It’s good. But will deniers and despairers listen? READ MORE»

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Lord Stern Report: Transform Global Economy to Fight Climate Change

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian

One of the most influential voices on global warming releases a plan to fight climate change while growing the global economy. READ MORE»

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People’s Climate March: How We’re Sharpening the Environmental Justice Movement

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

It will take a mass ‘movement of movements’ to counter the power of money and corruption that prevents the change we need in regard to climate. READ MORE»

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What to Do When You’re Running Out of Time

By Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch

When it comes to climate change, there’s still a window open for action — but it’s closing. READ MORE»

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Texas Proposes Rewriting School Books to Deny Manmade Climate Change

By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

In the proposed 6th grade texts, students were introduced to global warming amid false claims that there was scientific disagreement about its causes. READ MORE»

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How We Can Rescue a World That’s Going Up in Flames

By Rebecca Solnit, Tom Dispatch

Personal changes aren’t enough; only great movements and collective action can save us now. READ MORE»

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Naomi Klein on the Great Clash Between Capitalism and the Climate

Don Hazen, Jan Frel, AlterNet

Klein discusses her new book, “This Changes Everything.” READ MORE»

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Do You Really Want to Save the Earth? After the Climate March, Flood Wall Street!

By Richard (RJ) Eskow, Huffington Post

Monday’s rally in NY’s financial district will target the role of global capitalism, the root cause of our environmental crisis. READ MORE»

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE FOLLOWING WAS POSTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BLOG CITY ROOM – NEW YORK TODAY

Climate March Countdown
- By Annie Correal – September 18, 2014.


The People’s Climate March is happening on Sunday in Manhattan.

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 occasion is the United Nations Climate Summit next week.

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.

WEATHER

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.

Follow the New York Today columnists, Annie Correal and Andy Newman, on Twitter.

You can always find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From:  Vanessa, People’s Climate March    -    peoplesclimate.org

   PLEASE SEE - ” title=”http://peoplesclimate.org/march/” target=”_blank”>Click here to find a bus near you: peoplesclimate.org/transportation.

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.

Click here to find a bus near you: peoplesclimate.org/transportation.

We can’t wait to march with you,
Vanessa T & the bus team

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.

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

Sierra Club - Explore, enjoy and protect the planet


Dear Pincas –
Climate change is personal. March with us.

RSVP now!

RSVP now for the People’s Climate March!

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.

Thanks,

Carl Giles
Member, Teamsters Local 237

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

August 25, 2014

To: Listings/Critics/Features
From: Jazz Promo Services
Press Contact: Jim Eigo, jim@jazzpromoservices.com
www.jazzpromoservices.com

 

For the eleventh consecutive year, on a glorious end-of-summer night, the intersection of Wall and North Front Streets in Kingston will become “The Jazz Corner of Upstate New York.” Once again, in an evening of music that should not be missed, the Wall Street Jazz Festival presents an array of some of today’s finest jazz artists – pianist Laura Dubin’s trio, saxophonist Virginia Mayhew’s quintet, pianist Roberta Piket’s sextet, plus two all-star ensembles featuring saxophonists “Sweet” Sue Terry and Claire Daly, singers Jay Clayton and Teri Roiger, pianist (and the festival’s Artistic Director) Peggy Stern, among others. For many years now, this annual event has been one of the highlights of my summer, an exciting and engaging way to enjoy the music I love in an elegant, intimate, and inviting setting. 

The Wall Street Jazz Festival, “where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women,” it’s happening Saturday, August 30, from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. in Kingston, NY – and it’s all free!

www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com/home.html

 

Bob Bernotas, Host of “Just Jazz,” Sunday nights, 10:00 p.m-3:00 a.m. at

www.wnti.org

 

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

Zephyr Teachout teaches at Fordham Law School. She is the former National Director of the Sunlight Foundation and Director of Online Organizing for Howard Dean’s Campaign. She is a Board Member of Public Campaign Action Fund and Fight for the Future.

She wrote: “In a blog post this week, Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer critiqued an essay I wrote recently entitled “Constitutional Purpose and the Anti-Corruption Principle.” The basic argument of my essay is that the global purposes of the Constitution should be relevant in making hard Constitutional decisions. We ought look beyond the purposes of particular clauses and to the Constitution as a whole when making sense of the application of particular clauses. As I point out in the essay, Courts already do this: they interpret clauses to be consistent with the global principle of Separation of Powers, for instance, even though there is no “Separation of Powers” clause. Therefore, given the strong historical evidence that anti-corruption concerns were as fundamental as any other at the Constitutional convention, anti-corruption concerns should get significant constitutional weight when interpreting other clauses, like the First Amendment.

She was a Professorial adviser to “Occupy Wall Street” – and that is why we make the connection here.

N.Y. / Region

Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.

By

 

There she was, Prof. Zephir Teachout of Fordham University, just to the right of the stage, waving her arms furiously, hoping that the event’s host, Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, would see her and give her a shout-out. No such luck; a tall security guard was in the way.

As Zephyr Teachout was leaving the gospel concert in East Flatbush, a man in a wheelchair called out, “Who are you?” Ever eager, she explained that she was running as a progressive against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

The man, won over, pointed to a homemade campaign button pinned to Ms. Teachout’s jacket. “Can I have your button?” he asked. She gladly obliged.

———————————————————-

Just a few months ago, Ms. Teachout was a popular Fordham University law professor with ties to Occupy Wall Street and a keen interest in political corruption. But after the liberal Working Families Party approached her to run against Mr. Cuomo — before it arrived at a bitterly contested decision to stick by the governor — Ms. Teachout decided, with the encouragement of other liberal activists, to mount her own long-shot campaign.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout, a candidate for governor, gave away her campaign button to a potential supporter this month after a gospel concert in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

Yes, she knows that few New Yorkers have heard of her. Yes, she knows that she will not have enough money for television ads. And yes, she knows that her best shot at statewide exposure — a debate with Mr. Cuomo — is unlikely. Still, she insists that she is gaining momentum, and is zestily campaigning with a kind of cynicism-free optimism that makes her a sunny surprise.

“I didn’t know politics would be this much fun!” she beamed after a South Asian festival in Queens a week ago.

Privately, Ms. Teachout’s admirers say that her campaign has already succeeded, by forcing Mr. Cuomo to embrace more liberal causes. If she gets more than 25 percent in the Sept. 9 primary, some argue, then Mr. Cuomo might need to worry about liberal angst heading into a general election against the Republican candidate, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

Ms. Teachout does not pretend that her task will be easy. But she said the worst that could happen would be that she got only 1 percent of the vote, and that she became known as an idealistic but politically naïve professor.

“We’re underdogs, we know that, but we’re serious underdogs,” she said at a house party near her apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Ms. Teachout and her running mate for lieutenant governor, Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, talked about winning over the small number of Democrats who actually vote in primaries.

They hope to tap into disillusionment or even anger with Mr. Cuomo among teachers, public employees and upstate residents opposed to hydraulic fracturing.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout speaking at a cocktail party in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where she currently resides. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

“In the face of Andrew Cuomo’s silence, I am being loud,” she said in Fort Greene.

Mr. Cuomo has not publicly mentioned Ms. Teachout by name, and his campaign has declined to comment on her candidacy.

Still, avid Democrats are getting to know her. A Vermont native, Ms. Teachout, 42, worked as a death penalty lawyer in North Carolina and co-founded an organization intent on breaking up Wall Street banks. The author of a coming book on political corruption, she is on track for tenure at Fordham early next year.

Her most formative political experience came in 2003, when she became the director of online organizing for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.

“She was terrific; she was hard-working,” Mr. Dean said during a 10th-anniversary celebration that Ms. Teachout attended for Democracy for New York City, a Dean-inspired group.

She often mentions two United States senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — as role models. She also raves about State Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx and Letitia James, the New York City public advocate.

She even buys into the anti-“crony capitalism” message, if not the prescription, of Dave Brat, the Virginia professor and Tea Party upstart who defeated Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader, in the Republican primary in June.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout tried on a sari this month at the Chatpati Mela festival in Jackson Heights, Queens. She spoke with the vendors about the challenges of running small businesses. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

Like Mr. Brat, Ms. Teachout has little money. But contributions have increased so much since Mr. Cuomo unsuccessfully tried to kick her off the ballot that a highly targeted online advertising campaign is planned. She has a paid staff of about 10, and shares a cramped office in Midtown Manhattan with lawyers, real estate brokers and a casting company.

On the trail, she often asks people what they want in a governor. She has also honed a stump speech, talking about her unusual name (yes, that is her first name, and her last name is Dutch), then touching on public schools, small businesses, transportation and infrastructure.

“In my vision we can have an economy and a democracy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” she said at a street fair outside the Bronx Zoo a week ago, eliciting a few “that’s right” replies.

To get around, Ms. Teachout usually takes public transportation or relies on rides from volunteers, especially when she travels to Ithaca, Binghamton and other areas to fire up “fractivists.” One afternoon she spent $65 to take five people, including an aide and an independent filmmaker, from the Bronx to Queens by livery cab.

Things do not always go according to plan.

At the Chatpati Mela celebration in Jackson Heights, for example, she could not distribute any campaign literature (black-and-white photocopies) or speak onstage — it was a strictly nonpartisan affair.

Unfazed, she talked excitedly with vendors until she stumbled upon some Bangladeshis selling saris. After hearing about the travails of establishing small businesses, she bought an orange one for $20, and tried it on.

“Should I wear this to my debate with Governor Cuomo?” she joked.

———————————

A version of this article appears in print on August 25, 2014, on page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.

###

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

 

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 –

Credit Edel Rodriguez

 

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 Former US Ambassador and head of a very rich American Jewish family}

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:

“Everyone who believes in religious freedom should protest the efforts of Boko Haram and ISIS to persecute Christians and other religious…”

“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…”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CTMD Upcoming Events

Gran Bwa Culture and Neg Gran Bwa Drummers present

Bwa Kay Iman Photo by Tony Savino

BWA KAY IMAN 2014   

An all-day Haitian arts and culture celebration

commemorating the uprising against slavery in 1791

that began the Haitian Revolution

 

Saturday, August 16th

(3-9PM)
Prospect Park, Lakeside Area,

Brooklyn, NY

(Take the Q train to the Parkside stop and
enter via Parkside entrance) 

FREE ADMISSION
   
Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) and its Haitian Community Cultural Initiative, Verite sou Tanbou, are pleased to serve as media sponsors for Bwa Kay Iman, an all-day Haitian arts and culture celebration at lakeside in southeastern Prospect Park (near the Parkside entrance), presented by Gran Bwa Culture and Neg Gran Bwa Drummers, led by Oungan Asogwe (High Priest) Deenps “Gran Bwa” Bazile.
Bwa Kay Iman is a longstanding annual Haitian celebration in Prospect Park that commemorates the important slave social gathering on August 14th of 1791 that began the Haitian revolution.  The event celebrates and demonstrates Haitian culture with drumming, traditional Haitian folkloric dance, artwork, and storytelling followed by traditional Haitian Vodou drumming and singing between 3PM and 9PM.
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ARE WELCOME!
Seating is picnic-style; attendees are invited to bring
blankets, cushions, and lawn chairs as needed.

Suggested dress code
for this cultural gathering

is djan-djan (multicolored attire).

 To volunteer at this event (assist with set up, clean up, or picking up supplies)
or for further information, contact Gran Bwa at:
Granbwaculture@yahoo.com or 347-785-6419.

Set up begins at 11AM – assistance is welcome!
To make a donation via Paypal directly to Gran Bwa Culture
in support of this free cultural event click here
You can also donate via our GoFundMe campaign
by clicking
here.
OTHER ITEMS ARE WELCOME, INCLUDING:
- Cases of water, fruit (oranges, bananas, grapes, mangos),
cases of candles, lawn chairs, and tarps
- Art supplies (markers, crayons, white paper, construction
paper, paint, and paint brushes)

“Gran Bwa Culture is reaching out to everyone in the community of all age groups and cultures to partake in this great annual celebration. We are providing a series of hands-on workshops in the natural setting of Prospect Park, creating an opportunity for Haitians to reconnect with their culture and for the general community to learn about Haiti’s culture.”  –Erzuli Guillaume
For a preview of Bwa Kay Iman, courtesy of City Lore’s video documentation
of this celebration in the park in 2010, click on the image below.

Haitian Neighborhood Tour 3: Gran Bwa in Prospect Park
Haitian Neighborhood Tour 3:
Gran Bwa in Prospect Park
by City Lore www.citylore.org
FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE SUBWAY DIRECTIONS VISIT WWW.HOPSTOP.COM
Bwa Kayiman photo courtesy of Tony Savino:  www.tonysavino.com

Find out more about CTMD!
For more information about upcoming events, what’s happening in New York City’s traditional music and dance scene, to join or to donate, go to CTMD’s website.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Council on Foreign Relations    
 

Ignoring Climate Change Could Sink U.S. Economy, Writes Rubin

 

“When it comes to the economy, much of the debate about climate change—and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling it—is framed as a trade-off between environmental protection and economic prosperity,” writes CFR Co-Chairman Robert E. Rubin in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “But from an economic perspective, that’s precisely the wrong way to look at it. The real question should be: What is the cost of inaction?”

Rubin argues that, in economic terms, taking action on climate change will prove far less expensive than inaction. The findings come from an earlier bipartisan report on the economic risks of climate change:

  • “By 2050, for example, between $48 billion and $68 billion worth of current property in Louisiana and Florida is likely to be at risk of flooding because it will be below sea level. And that’s just a baseline estimate; there are other scenarios that could be catastrophic.”
  • “Then, of course, there is the unpredictable damage from superstorms yet to come. Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy caused a combined $193 billion in economic losses; the congressional aid packages that followed both storms cost more than $122 billion.”
  • “And dramatically rising temperatures in much of the country will make it far too hot for people to work outside during parts of the day for several months each year—reducing employment and economic output, and causing as many as 65,200 additional heat-related deaths every year.”

According to Rubin, one of the fundamental problems with tackling climate change is that the methods used to gauge economic realities do not take climate change into consideration. Rubin calls for metrics that accurately reflect climate-change risks, and requiring companies to be transparent in reporting vulnerabilities tied to climate.

“If companies were required to highlight their exposure to climate-related risks, it would change investor behavior, which in turn would prod those companies to change their behavior.”

Read “How Ignoring Climate Change Can Sink the U.S. Economy.”

You can also view the CFR InfoGuide “The Emerging Arctic,” an interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic.

You can also read a blog post on the U.S. oil boom by CFR Senior Fellow and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies Michael Levi.

   
 

About CFR

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.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Presided upon by Mr. Richard N. Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, a panel of six of the Council’s experts in front of two rooms full in audience – one in New York the other in Washington DC, a whole gamut of Middle East problems was put on display and dissected.

The six experts were – Elliott Abrams who started out as staff member of Senators Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan and then moved on to the White House under Presidents Reagan and G.W. Bush;  Steven A. Cook who started out at the Brookings Institution, developed an expertise on Egypt, Algeria and Turkey, and is running a blog “From the Potomac to the Euphrates;    Robert M. Danin who started out as a journalist reporting from Jerusalem then worked at the State Department on Middle East Affairs and with Tony Blair as his Jerusalem based representative of the Quartet;   and Ray Takeyh, a widely published professorial expert on Iran – in Washington D C and Isobel Coleman who at CFR covers Civil Society, Markets and Democracy, comes from the business world, has written extensively on policy, was track leader at the Clinton Global Initiative, was named by Newsweek as one of 150 Women Who Shake the World and her blog is Democracy in Development; and Richard N. Haass who served in the White House at ambassadorial level but argued in a book that Foreign Policy starts at Home – the last two were with us in New York.

This discussion takes place at the beginning of the third week since this latest flare-up of Israel’s war against the Hamas of Gaza. A very fast consensus was reached among the four members of the Washington DC panel that to cool the situation without giving Hamas some credit is really difficult. Israel wants really to destroy the infrastructure of tunnels into Israel. Hamas points out that they managed to-date to beat Israel at that as just a day earlier they demonstrated they are capable to infiltrate Israel through such tunnels. Richard Haass evoked Henry Kissinger who said that what is needed to create a lasting equilibrium is (a) a degree of balance, and (b) a degree of legitimacy that comes from mutual recognition between the forces. The latter point does not exist here. Israel is united and out to eliminate Hamas – but if the fighting continues it is expected that the demand for change in the status quo will get louder in Israel – or just a return to a system that allows only breaks in the fighting will be unacceptable.

Asked about how to bring the Palestinian Authority back into Gaza – the prediction expressed was that Hamas demonstrating that only resistance keeps you in authority will allow Hamas to emerge as winner.  Today’s news that Israel bombed a UN managed school filled with displaced Palestinians, and probably also arms bearing Palestinians, will nevertheless put some more outside pressure on Israel.

Further, the news I get today from Vienna is that Saturday there will be large pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe on the occasion of the yearly celebration of the Al-Quds Day. This is a PR success for the Hamas – the show of harm done to the Palestinians that are being used as shield to those missiles, and then their misery exploited in order to achieve PR gains based in part also on the unleashing of an existing undertow of Antisemitism-comes-naturally to some layers of Christian Europe. These are aspects that were not looked at by the panel but which play now very seriously a role within Israel. My bet is that Israel will demand that the PA is reintroduced to Gaza at least at its borders – with a minimum role of making sure there are no tunnels. If this becomes part of the US and Egypt brokered solution, the other part will have to be a transparent start to the dissolution of some West Bank settlements. The military defeat of the Hamas can then be viewed as a success of the political leadership of the Hamas in ways acceptable to Israel.
Again – these ideas were not expressed at the Town-Hall meeting.

Steven Cook said that the present ruler of Egypt – President Abdel Fattah Saed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi, former Chief of the Army and Minister of Defense – is much more decisive then Mubarak was, and can be counted on to be more decisive in matters of Hamas. Now we have a situation that Egypt and the Saudis hate in full view the Muslim Brotherhood and their off-shoot – the Hamas,  while the Amir of Qatar is backing them.  So, now we have beside the Sunni – Shia Divide also a Sunni – Sunni Divide which is going and deepening and creates a further Divide between the Brotherhood & Hamas on the one hand and more extremist ISIS & Al Qaeda on the other hand. These latter without an official sponsor from any State.  Here again real life went beyond what was said at the CFR panel.

I made it my business to tell the organizer about the day’s news at the UN, the finding by investigative journalist Matthew R. Lee that the UN Secretary General’s charter flight to the Middle East was bankrolled by the Amir of Qatar, a sponsor of Hamas, does in effect put a notch in the UNSG effort in posing as an honest broker on Gaza. I thought this ought to be brought up at the Town Hall meeting and said I can volunteer to raise this as a question – but I could not – this because I was there as Press, and only Members of the CFR are allowed to ask questions. Members come from Think-Tanks but mainly from business. The reality is that the business sectors represented at the CFR are mainly those that belong to old establishments – Members of the International Chamber of Commerce, but no businesses that could profit from an economy less reliant on fossil fuels. The whole concept of energy seems here to still mean those conventional fuels – and it shows. It came up here as well when a question about Energy Independence was answered that though an Energy Revolution did happen lately in the US, we will never be Independent of “Energy” because the World Economy runs on “Energy.”

Many other points came up – and I will now highlight some of them:

  -  Iran was mentioned in the context that July 20th Vienna meeting was the rage at that time – but then came the Ukraine and Gaza wars. Now Iran was delayed to November 25th and is barely noticed. It was noted that it is only a 4 months delay while it was technically possible to delay it for 6 months. The Iranians believe that they already agreed to the red lines. Can these Red lines be adjusted?

  -  The Kurds will make now moves to go their own ways. The Turks now play more favorably to the Kurds – but the Kurds continue to be split and fight among themselves.

  -   Winner Takes All has been disproved for the Middle East. Maliki in Iraq learned it does not work, so did Morsi in Egypt who saw his Brotherhod and himself ousted merciless.  I found this an extremely valuable observation for all combatants of the region.

  -   New forms of COLD WAR. there is one between the Saudis and the Gulf States (Intra Sunni – Sunni) – and there is one between the Saudis and the Iranians. Like in the US-Soviet case this is not a fight between States. mainly it goes on now on Syrian Territory between parts of Syria a country that will be dismembered like Iraq was.  In the past governments were oppressive and economically weak, but had power internally – now this did collapse.

  -  Now we reached a favorite question about the UN. Are there any useful capacities remaining for the UN? Elliot Abrams said that if appointed to the UN he would try to get another job. UNRWA has become more and more controversial – specifically when there is a cease-fire.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

July 22, 2014
Friends,“In each pause I hear the call”
Ralph Waldo EmersonThis quote has been especially front of mind this year because LRN, the company I have devoted my life to building, is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and milestones are perfect occasions to pause. Pausing and mindfulness are in vogue in the world today; there is even a meditation room in Newark airport. However, we can go so much deeper in our pauses than merely taking respite from the frenzied pace of life. As I wrote in FastCompany, “Why There’s More to Taking a Break than Just Sitting There,” pausing is essential in the 21st century, because it is what allows us to thrive in an interdependent world in which we need to think deeply about how every action we take affects others, reconnect with our values and purpose, and, from there, to re-imagine our future. It is in that spirit that I invite you to pause with me.

As a parent of two small children, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to help them grow into thoughtful, ethical people. A critical piece of this is teaching them right and wrong and how to atone when they behave badly. It is easy to inadvertently teach children to treat apologies as verbal escape routes out of a problem. It is much harder to teach them to treat an apology as a moment to pause, reflect and take responsibility for the behavior that led to the act for which they are contrite.

It is a problem endemic to our society; we have an apology inflation on our hands, as it has become habitual – in business, politics, entertainment, sports – to churn out one knee-jerk apology after another in response to a public mistake. In reaction to this trend, New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin and I have partnered to launch The Apology Project in the Dealbook section of the Times. The goal of the project is to elevate the conversation about apologies so that people view them as meaningful opportunities to change behavior, instead of as “get out of jail free” cards, through profiles of meaningful apologies and crowd-sourcing surveys of recent apologies.

 

Of course, parents know that the real key is to inculcate the right values in our children so that they will rely on these values to make decisions, hopefully preventing misbehavior in the first place. As hard as it might be to do this in the context of a family unit, it is even harder to do at the scale of a global corporation. This is why the work of LRN and our partners in the ethics and compliance industry is so meaningful. In our annual Knowledge Forum, where LRN gathers its partners together for learning and discussion, we reflected on how our mission is to enable employees to pause, that is, to reflect on their values, the law, and the consequences of their action or inaction (e.g. before taking a bribe, when witnessing misconduct). Ethics and compliance officers are in the “pause” business, but they aren’t alone. Anyone who is trying to provoke reflection, re-assessment, and re-imagination is in the “pause” business; it is, in fact, what leaders do. Leaders pause for themselves and create contexts in which others can pause. 

 
To pause is fundamentally human. Machines are automated and keep going unthinkingly; humans have the freedom to re-imagine and pivot to a different path. To pivot is to plant one foot on the ground and move the other foot in a new direction. To “pivot” in business, especially in Silicon Valley, means to radically shift your strategy and business model, usually because of shifts in market or customer feedback. Twitter used to be a podcast-discovery company, and PayPal used to be meant for “beaming” money between PDAs before they pivoted and landed on the right business model. Silicon Valley is truly the birthplace of the pivot, and, as I said to the crowd onstage while I was talking with Tom Friedman in this year’s Next New World Forum in San Francisco, pivoting requires pausing. To pivot is to ground one’s self in one’s beliefs, convictions and values while re-imagining a new direction that adapts to a changing world. We only have the freedom to pivot when we allow ourselves to embark on a true journey. It is when we try to follow linear calendars and budgets that we lock ourselves into our plans and operate on autopilot. 
 

More and more people are pausing to assess and re-imagine the direction in which many institutions are headed, including capitalism itself. Of course, most remain firm believers in capitalism as the best economic system for generating prosperity, but many are, nevertheless, acutely aware of its current problems (i.e. growing income inequality) and grasp the need to move capitalism in a new direction. The leaders behind Inclusive Capitalism, Conscious Capitalism (whose annual conference I had the honor of keynoting this year), Creative Capitalism, Responsible Capitalism and Capitalism 2.0 are re-imagining business in a way that is much more conscious of all stakeholders and the operating environment. Some are worried about the abuses of freedom in a free market system and want to restrict people’s freedom, but that is because they are operating from a one-sided view of freedom. Freedom is really an intricate dynamic between “freedom from” (top-down hierarchy, gatekeepers) and “freedom to” (collaborate, innovate, pursue meaning, do the right thing, etc). It is this dynamic of freedom that ought to be at the heart of free enterprise. This is not just a philosophical distinction. In LRN’s biggest study since the HOW Report, the Freedom Report shows that the companies that have the right balance of freedom are more likely to outperform, out-innovate, and be resilient for the long run.

 

Beyond capitalism, people are re-imagining every dimension of society. The National Football League (NFL), for instance, is pausing to re-define the recipe for winning. Instead of training players solely as tough performers, the League is endeavoring to infuse locker rooms with human values such as respect and collaboration, where a player can bring his whole self, as a “person, father, and husband.” LRN is honored to have the opportunity to be a part of their journey. The League isn’t the only “rough and tumble” organization that is rethinking the culture in which its people are formed.

 

Confronted with the demands of modern warfare, the U.S. Army is also re-imagining and reshaping basic training in a way that trains soldiers to pause and think critically before making decisions, instead of just following orders. Even “discipline” is being re-imagined, for as my friend Lieutenant Colonel JC Glick said, “Discipline is not about being on time. Discipline is about doing the right thing at the right time.” The world has become so relationally interdependent and complex that we are forced to hit the “pause button,” to re-imagine and re-steer the direction in which our revered institutions – capitalism, the NFL, our military – are moving.

 

How do we begin to pause? Aristotle said that excellence is not a single act but a habit. The best way to pause, then, is to begin to form habits of pausing at a young age, which is why we are working with universities to introduce the “HOW” philosophy. The NROTC program at Miami University of Ohio is creatively adopting the HOW philosophy to train emerging Navy and Marine leaders in approaching ethical dilemmas. Elsewhere in the academy, Israeli students at Tel-Aviv Yaffo College are partnering with companies to conduct culture assessments, North Dakota State University students are running HOW workshops with representatives from academic departments, and Baruch College, a senior college of the City University of New York system, has partnered with us and declared 2014 the Year of the HOW. We are planting seeds in the next wave of leaders by enabling them to pause from the hustle-and-bustle of testing and build moral character—it is hard to think of a more meaningful endeavor.
 
 
Thank you for allowing me to share with you what has been on my mind in the past few months. I welcome any comments, questions or feedback, and I would love to hear from you as to where you are in your journey as well.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dov Seidman

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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 ObamaHis 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.orgAdam 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:

  • Reimagining Impact, which will highlight the ideas and actions of CGI members over the last decade, explore how members measure and assess the outcomes of their commitments, and bring forth new ideas for CGI members to achieve greater impact going forward;
  • Confronting Climate Change is Good Economics, will explore opportunities to assist in the financing of conservation efforts, help unlock the capital required to accelerate investments towards a low-carbon economy, and reinforce the critical role of women in adapting to climate change;
  • Valuing What Matters, in which leaders can identify social and environmental indicators and measurement systems that can be implemented in public, private, and non-profit sectors, simultaneously assessing how best to capture non-quantifiable outcomes and use big data for social good;
  • Putting Education to Work, in which participants can collaborate across sectors to create education to employment pathways for young people and adults;
  • Equality for Girls and Women: 2034 instead of 2134?, which will examine the progress made since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and explore opportunities to accelerate the social and economic participation of women, who at current rates of progress won’t comprise half of the world’s leaders until 2134; and
  • The 8th annual Clinton Global Citizen AwardsTM, which will kick off the meeting with a ceremony to honor individuals in civil society, philanthropy, public service and the private sector whose efforts to create positive social change transcend borders, change lives, and set an example for others.

About the Clinton Global Initiative:
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,900 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.

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.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/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.

To recoup:

President Barack ObamaHis 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.orgMelinda 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.clintonglobalinitiative.org/2014 regularly for the latest program details and confirmed participants. Follow CGI on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for meeting news and highlights, and use the official meeting hashtag #CGI2014.
Media registration will formally open August 18 and press planning to cover must be credentialed by the Clinton Global Initiative. Please send questions regarding media registration to press@clintonglobalinitiative.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Evening Edition: ‘Very high possibility’ of Gaza invasion, Israeli official says and other headlines for this evening, Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

By Sudarsan Raghavan,, William Booth and Ruth Eglash July 16 at 6:56 PM – for The Washington Post.

JERUSALEM — On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a “very high possibility.”

Israel announced that it will observe a unilateral “humanitarian truce” for five hours Thursday to allow Gaza residents to stock up on food and other supplies and let aid reach civilians. The pause in fighting was requested by the United Nations, said another military official, army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

It was unclear whether Hamas would also hold its fire. The militant group rejected an earlier cease-fire proposed by Egypt, and a top Hamas leader declared that the Islamist militant group is alone in the world as it battles Israel.

Hamas continued to shower rockets Wednesday into southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv, underscoring the extent to which the militants believe they still have the military capability to persuade Israel to accept their terms, analysts said.

“From their rationale, they are holding strong, as if they have nothing to lose,” said Miri Eisen, a former Israeli army intelligence official. She added, “If they feel they have nothing to lose, they can continue this for a long time.”

That attitude is increasing pressure on Israel. Hundreds of Israeli airstrikes have killed hundreds of Palestinians but have done little to stop Hamas rockets from striking Israeli towns. Human rights activists are accusing Israel of killing innocent civilians and possibly committing war crimes. Egypt, once a reliable ally, no longer seems to have the negotiating clout it once had.

All this is generating discussions — within Israeli political and military circles and on television, radio and editorial pages — of a possible ground invasion of Gaza in the coming days. In Tel Aviv, a high-ranking Israeli military official told reporters Wednesday that there was “a very high possibility” of such an operation, adding, “If you want to efficiently fight terrorism, you need to have boots on the ground.”

More than 113 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday, according to the Israeli military.

By Wednesday night, 222 people had been killed in Gaza during the nine-day operation, including 49 minors and 24 women, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,600 people have been wounded in Gaza, the officials said.

Among the latest casualties were four Palestinian children, all younger than 12, who were killed by an Israeli missile or shell while playing on a beach in Gaza near a hotel used by foreign journalists, according to witnesses and Palestinian officials. The four boys were cousins. Seven others — adults and children — were reported wounded in the strike.

The Israeli army, calling the incident tragic, said the target had been a Hamas operative.

President Obama addressed the situation in brief White House remarks. Although he did not specifically mention the beach deaths, he said, “We are all heartbroken by the violence .?.?. especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza.” Obama said the United States would continue to “use all our diplomatic resources and relationships” to bring about a lasting cease-fire. “In the meantime,” he said, “we are going to support efforts to protect civilians in Israel and Gaza.”

 

Message to the Congregation: Israel

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

July 16, 2014

Dear Congregants:

 

I hope that you have been able to slow down a bit during the summer, and are finding some time for rest and relaxation.

 

As you know, it has been a tense and trying summer for Israelis. Many of us have family and friends in Israel, as well as children who are on summer programs. We continue to pray for their safety and well being.

 

I would like to emphasize the following basic values:

 

 

  1. Israel is on the front lines of the Western war against Islamic extremism that considers Israel to be an illegitimate presence in the Middle East. Israel deserves the political and moral support of all Western nations and freedom-loving people.
  1. Israeli military operations are defensive in nature. No country would – or should – allow missiles to be fired on its cities and towns. The indiscriminate firing on Israeli civilians is a war crime. Every single missile fired from Gaza constitutes a war crime. The Hamas use of Palestinian civilian human shields is a war crime.
  1. We have noted the extraordinary care employed by the Israel Defense Forces in avoiding civilian casualties. There is no other military in the world that takes such extensive precautions. At the same time we lament the suffering of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire, and grieve for the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. They deserve better than Hamas. Hamas bears the primary political and moral responsibility for their senseless suffering.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in revenge. We are appalled that Jews could carry out such acts of terror.
  1. The discussion on the disproportionate numbers of Palestinian casualties relative to Israeli casualties is a moral outrage. Israel has invested billions of dollars in defensive capabilities – shelters, warning systems, civilian preparation and anti-missile technology (partially funded by US citizens). Israel does everything it can to prevent Palestinian civilian harm, including calling off bombing missions in mid flight if pilots perceive excessive risk to civilians nearby. The moral question is not whether casualties on one side are greater than the other. Rather, the question is whether the military action is proportional to the threat. Hamas rockets threaten most of Israel; they have reached as far as Haifa in the north. Millions of Israelis live under constant threat of missile attacks. In fact, many in Israel and its supporters worldwide consider the current Israeli measures not strong enough proportional to the threat.

Action

 

Traditionally, American Jews have helped Israel in times of crisis by donating funds and joining a solidarity mission to Israel. We encourage you to do both.

 

Accordingly, we have established an Israel Emergency Fund at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. If you would like to make a contribution, please send your check made out to Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, clearly marked for Israel Emergency Fund. You can also donate online with a credit card here www.swfs.org/donate/.  

 

Representatives of the synagogue board of trustees and Israel committee will decide upon the distribution of the funds. All of the money will be forwarded to worthy causes; none of the funds will be retained by the synagogue.

 

Also: SWFS has arranged a mission to Israel from October 17-22, 2014. Journalist Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land, a New York Times bestseller, will accompany us throughout our five days in Israel for a unique opportunity to engage Israeli and Palestinian leaders who shape events in the Middle East I urge you to consider joining. For mission information, contact Donna Levine or call 212-877-4050 x223.

 

If you would like additional talking points and links to media outlets, please email our Israel committee, chaired by Alan Scheiner, at SWFS Israel and ask to be added to the mailing list so that you will receive regular updates.

 

With continuing prayers for the peace of Jerusalem,

 

Ammi's signature

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

Senior Rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue

New York City

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Nothing Makes Hamas Happier Than Dead Palestinians.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Nothing plays better in the mainstream media these days than wailing Gazans, mourning their dead from Israeli missile strikes  responding to the unprovoked deluge of Hamas rockets on the Jewish state. As Ben Wedeman (CNN) recently reported from Jabalia, “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” But Gaza civilians most need protection from Hamas. Its leaders intentionally jeopardize their lives  by embedding rocket-launching and ammunition storage sites in schools, mosques and hospitals located in civilian neighborhoods.

In Gaza, recruits for martyrdom in the holy war against Israel are urged to gather on rooftops. They are instructed by their demented leaders to serve as a human shield against Israeli retribution for thousands of rockets that have been fired into the Jewish state during the past week. The designated locations for martyrdom are not random. Beneath the rooftops are Hamas command centers and tunnels, where leaders take refuge and weapons are stored.

According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: “This attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.” He proudly cited the exemplary “martyr” Nizar Riyan, the senior Hamas leader during the 2009 Gaza war. Receiving a warning phone call from the IDF to evacuate his house, he chose to remain in place, thereby consigning his four wives, ten children and himself to martyrdom from the Israeli air strike that he knew was imminent.

Last Sunday, following rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv area, the IDF dropped leaflets in northern Gaza urging residents to evacuate their homes in advance of a retaliatory military strike to destroy embedded rocket launchers. After 4000 residents heeded the Israeli warning the Hamas Interior Ministry urged them to disregard “random messages to instill panic” and return “immediately” to their homes, the better to become human shields and gain world attention.

As Jeffrey Goldberg observed (Bloomberg, July 11), “Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.” Why not? Dead Palestinians “represent a crucial propaganda victory” for an inhumane regime that has abjectly failed to provide its own people with even the most minimal amenities of civilized life: safety, food, employment, education, medical care. (It is an irony seldom noted that Gazans are still admitted for treatment in Israeli hospitals.)  But Hamas leaders do not hesitate to protect themselves. They take refuge in a vast web of underground tunnels and shelters reserved for their exclusive use. Gaza civilians are expendable. Urged to become targets, their dead bodies are garishly paraded in public to stoke the Hamas cause.

As rockets fall on Israel the world grants Hamas immunity for its war crimes. Blaming the Jewish targets of Palestinian terrorism has long been a popular international trope. As the commissioner general of UNRWA, which invents Palestinian “refugees” by the millions to stay in business, recently declared: “I urgently call on the Israeli Security Forces to put an end to attacks against, or endangering, civilians . . . which are contrary to international humanitarian law.” About Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians he had nothing to say.

Palestinian suffering inflicted by cruel Israelis is the preferred worldwide narrative. Where better than Frankfurt, as a recent protest demonstrated, for Israel to be equated with Nazi Germany? With the cease-fire proposed by Egypt evidently crumbling, and Israeli retaliation for Hamas attacks resuming, the number of Palestinian martyrs is likely to increase. Nothing could make Hamas happier. Indeed, today’s death of four soccer-playing Palestinian boys in Gaza, struck by an Israeli missile, is certain to ratchet up rampage against Israeli retaliation for the unrelenting Hamas rocket attack.

Nobody summed up the situation more succinctly, and accurately, than Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who told Fox News: “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using civilians to protect their missiles.”

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author, most recently, of Jewish State Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy (Quid Pro Books).

 

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Israel’s UN Ambassador Calls for ‘Immediate’ Suspension of UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness.

July 16, 2014 4:10 pm 12 comments

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Photo: UN Multimedia.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called for the “immediate” suspension of a UN spokesperson on Tuesday.

The move came as Israel is in the midst of a full-flung campaign against terror group Hamas to end rocket fire from nearby Gaza.

Prosor asked for action to be taken against Chris Gunness of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, after the spokesman encouraged reporters to interview a professor with a history of supporting terror attacks against civilians.

In a letter to Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Prosor said, “Gunness, yet again abused his position by calling on reporters to interview Dr. Mads Gilbert, an outspoken proponent of terrorist attacks against civilians. In September 2001, Dr. Gilbert explicitly supported the ‘moral right’ of Al-Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks against thousands of American civilians.”

In the letter, seen by The Algemeiner, Prosor included the text of a recent Twitter post from Gunness encouraging reporters to speak to Gilbert: “Great interviewee @ Shifa Hosp Gaza right now Prof Mads Gilbert +4790878740 call him 4 fatality & cas figs and atoms RT.” The message has since been deleted.

“Rather than denouncing Hamas’s targeting of innocent civilians, Mr. Gunness is shamelessly promoting an individual who shares Hamas’s morally reprehensible convictions,” Prosor said in his letter. “Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, deliberately embeds its military operations in residential areas and exploits its own civilian population as human shields. These actions constitute war crimes and should be condemned in no uncertain terms. In failing to do so, Mr. Gunness is ignoring Hamas’s abuse of the civilian population in Gaza and acting in opposition to UNRWA’s mandate.”

Prosor also accused Gunness of displaying “an ongoing pattern of anti-Israel bias,” adding, “he has abused his position to promote incitement against Israel and present a one-sided view of reality.”

Prosor said that on Monday, after Hamas fired a rocket at an electrical plant in Ashkelon cutting off power to 70,000 Gazans, “Mr. Gunness tweeted that the lights had gone out, conveniently omitting Hamas’s responsibility.”

“Israel supports UNRWA’s important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement undermine this work. UNRWA staff members have repeatedly failed to abide by the UN’s principles of neutrality and impartiality,” Prosor said.

“I ask that you immediately suspend Mr. Gunness while you investigate the matter. The integrity and impartiality of the UN demands that this matter be addressed expediently.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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.
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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.

 

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For a European Republic

Ulrike Guerot and Andres Ortega 24 June 2014

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.

Human Chain in Irurzun for the right to decide for the Basque region Human Chain in Irurzun for the right to decide for the Basque region. Demotix/Javi Julio. All rights reserved.

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.

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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.

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