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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Hosted by the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine!

GRID EVOLUTION GLOBAL SUMMIT …. “HYDROGEN”

MARCH 28-29, 2017

Keynote Presentations:

Rich Corey Executive Officer, California Air Resources Board
Regis Conrad, U.S. Department of Energy
Signature Panel

Peter Klauer: California Independent System Operator
Jack Brower: National Fuel Cell Research Center
Ole Hofelmann: Air Liquide
Other Companies Presenting

FuelCell Energy, Proton OnSite, Hydrogenics, Empowered Energy,
California Energy Commission, Southern California Gas Company,
Siemens, Honda, Ballard, Solar Turbines

ICEPAG 2017 focuses on the role of HYDROGEN in the
grid of the future, from generation to end-use:

Generation Transport/Storage End-Use

Power-to-Gas (P2G)
Tri-Generation
Electrolysis
Electrochemical
Centralized
Distribution and Fueling Infrastructure
Hydrogen Materials Interactions
NG Pipeline Injection
Distribution Environmental Impacts
Electric Power Generation
Fuel Cells
Gas Turbines
Hydrogen Microgrids
Distributed Generation
Transportation
Light Duty
Trams and Medium Duty
Heavy Duty
Locomotives
Combustion End Use
Gas Turbines
Industrial Burners
Environmental Impacts

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Russia’s Next Target?

Canada is an obvious target for clandestine Russian meddling, and it needs to be prepared for a combination of disinformation and old school military feints, writes former Canadian diplomat Scott Gilmore in Macleans.

“In a rules-based international system where your influence is measured by the size of your economy, your cultural soft-power, and your stature in multilateralism, Moscow has become an afterthought,” Gilmore says. “And, if Russia didn’t still have a Cold War nuclear arsenal, it would garner even less attention. So, losing the international game of chess, Putin is seeking to knock over the board itself — to discredit the multilateral world order, and destabilize the comparably strong western alliance.”

“Canada is a logical target. We are a G7 member, a strong supporter of NATO (if not a strong contributor), an advocate for a values-based international system, and a vocal critic of Moscow and its interference in other countries.”

— American vs Canadian Dream. Gilmore joined Fareed on last week’s show to discuss why he believes Canada has surpassed the United States as the land of opportunity.

— Fareed’s latest special, “The Most Powerful Man in the World,” takes an in-depth look at the rise and goals of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It premieres this Monday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As reported by Irith Jawetz from Vienna:


Fareed’s Take: He tackled the 54 billions Trump wants to spend on additional Military. He quoted General Petraeus who told him a few years ago that during the Gulf war he wished he had more Foreign Office people to advise him.


Why? Soldiers do not understand the problems of the Middle East, the difference between the Shiites and Sunis, the history, the culture, and a brave officer who knows how to fight is not enough to win a war.

The Military budget of the US is already huge. It is 9 times the size of the Russian Military budget and 3 times them size of China’s,

Then he interviewed two National Security Advisors. Tom Donillon who was under President Obama and denied the allegation of wiretapping. He also said that Trump has no idea how the system works. The President cannot order wiretapping without a court order. Presidents cannot just order wiretapping..As for Jeff Sessions he was right to recuse himself and should not resign. We have to wait for his new explanation which will come this week.

Stephen Hadley who was National Security Advisor under George W. Bush agreed with Donillon on the wiretapping..Presidents cannot just do it.. If the Obama Administration was really worried about ties to Russia they may have had a reason to do it, but until now there is no proof that it happened. He also said what the panel today said that Trump likes to distract. Whenever something does not go his way and he gets criticized, he tweets something outrageous and diverts from the issue. This now seems to be a general idea floating around.

As for Sessions – he did the right thing and should not resign until he clarifies his position in the coming days. Then we’ll see.

They both agree that: North Korea is the biggest crisis Trump will face now. President Clinton faced the Oklahoma bombing, President Bush 9/11, President Obama the financial crisis and Trump will face North Korea. However if he does not appear to be reliable and trustworthy there will be trouble.

On the idea that Trump’s immigration policy will be good for the economy, Fareed disputes it vehemently. The costs of more agents, building that wall and not having immigrants for menial work will cost more than it will save.

Then he talked about Canada which has now surpassed the USA and a Land of opportunities. In every poll Canada ranks before the US in welfare, economy, freedom, healthcare.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020

By MICHAEL FORSYTHE, January 5, 2017, The New York Times

China intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, the government’s energy agency said on Thursday.

The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump, a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency.

The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog.

China surpassed the United States a decade ago as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and now discharges about twice as much. For years, its oil and coal industries prospered under powerful political patrons and the growth-above-anything mantra of the ruling Communist Party.

The result was choking pollution and the growing recognition that China, many of whose biggest cities are on the coast, will be threatened by rising sea levels.

But even disregarding the threat of climate change, China’s announcement was a bold claim on leadership in the renewable energy industry, where Chinese companies, buoyed by a huge domestic market, are already among the world’s dominant players. Thanks in part to Chinese manufacturing, costs in the wind and solar industries are plummeting, making them increasingly competitive with power generation from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Sam Geall, executive editor of Chinadialogue, an English- and Chinese-language website that focuses on the environment, said that the United States, by moving away from a focus on reducing carbon emissions, risked losing out to China in the race to lead the industry.

Mr. Trump has in the past called the theory of human-cased global warming a hoax and picked a fierce opponent of President Obama’s rules to reduce carbon emissions, Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The investment commitment made by the Chinese, combined with Mr. Trump’s moves, means jobs that would have been created in the United States may instead go to Chinese workers.

Even the headline-grabbing numbers on total investment and job creation may understate what is already happening on the ground in China. Greenpeace estimates that China installed an average of more than one wind turbine every hour of every day in 2015, and covered the equivalent of one soccer field every hour with solar panels.

China may meet its 2020 goals for solar installation by 2018, said Lauri Myllyvirta, a research analyst at Greenpeace, who is based in Beijing.

But despite these impressive numbers, China’s push to clean its air and reduce its greenhouse gasses faces political pressure from the politically powerful coal industry.

Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta both said that Thursday’s announcement was missing any language on curtailment, or the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar that never finds its way to the country’s power grid. In China, wind power curtailment was 19 percent in the first nine months 2016, Mr. Myllyvirta said, many times higher than in the United States, where curtailment levels are often negligible.

The main reason for curtailment, he said, is that China is plagued by overcapacity in electricity generation and operators of China’s grid often favor electricity generated from coal.

In recent years the country has also been building coal-fired power plants at a furious pace, although that has recently slowed along with China’s economy. Another omission from Thursday’s announcements, Mr. Myllyvirta said, was the absence of any specific target to reduce coal consumption.

But both Mr. Geall and Mr. Myllyvirta said Thursday’s announcement set the stage for still more power generation from renewable energy and a gradual shift away from coal.

“My experience with China is when a numeric target gets written down, it gets implemented,” Mr. Myllyvirta said. “It doesn’t always get implemented in the way you like, but it does get implemented.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


If Trump’s Nominee Scott Pruitt Is Confirmed, ‘EPA Would Stand for Every Polluter’s Ally’

By Elliott Negin, EcoWatch
04 January 17


Nominating Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives lie to Donald Trump’s claim that he is serious about protecting the public from pollution. While the president-elect has waffled on climate change, he has been unequivocal about toxics.

“Clean air is vitally important,” Trump declared during a Nov. 22, 2016 interview with The New York Times. “Clean water,” he added, “crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important.” And when he announced Pruitt’s nomination in early December, Trump vowed that the attorney general would “restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and water clean and safe.”

Putting aside the fact that the EPA has not forsaken that mission, Pruitt’s track record indicates that he would do the exact opposite. Under Pruitt, the acronym EPA would stand for Every Polluter’s Ally.

Follow EcoWatch @EcoWatch
Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, ‘Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry,’ to Head EPA ow.ly/sGrC306X0Cr @GreenpeaceAustP @Green_Europe 1:40 PM – 9 Dec 2016

Photo published for Trump Picks ‘Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry’ to Head EPA
Trump Picks ‘Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry’ to Head EPA
Donald Trump has appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The conservative Republican has close ties to the fossil fuel industry and…  ecowatch.com 33 33 Retweets 17 17 likes

Since he took office as Oklahoma’s attorney general in 2010, Pruitt has repeatedly sued the EPA to block key safeguards limiting power plant pollution, most notably the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which limits sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which curb mercury, arsenic, cyanide and other emissions.

Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are primary ingredients of soot and smog pollution, which cause a number of respiratory problems, including bronchitis and aggravated asthma, as well as cardiovascular disease and premature death. Mercury and other toxic pollutants covered by MATS have been linked to heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and premature death. Some 25 million Americans suffer from asthma, alone. That’s one out of every 12 people.

The potential benefits of the Cross-State Rule and MATS are considerable. Taken together, they are projected to prevent 18,000 to 46,000 premature deaths across the country and save $150 billion to $380 billion in health care costs annually. In Pruitt’s home state, the two regulations would avert as many as 720 premature deaths and save as much as $5.9 billion per year.

Pruitt also has sued the EPA to prevent the agency from implementing a rule that would reduce the amount of ground-level ozone or smog, which the American Lung Association says is the most widespread pollutant nationwide and one of the most dangerous. Produced when sunlight heats nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide from power plants, industrial facilities and automobiles, ozone pollution has been linked to respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease and premature death. It is particularly harmful for the most vulnerable, including children, the elderly, and people already suffering from asthma or another respiratory disease.

No matter. In October 2015, Pruitt joined with four other states to challenge the new ozone rule in court, despite the fact that earlier that month, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality said the state could meet the new EPA limits.

Pruitt also has targeted clean water safeguards. In July 2015, he sued the EPA over the Clean Water Rule, which the agency and the Army Corps of Engineers had just issued to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act. The rule was in response to two Supreme Court decisions—in 2001and in 2006—that called into question whether the federal government had the authority to protect smaller streams, wetlands and other water bodies that flow into drinking water supplies. From a scientific perspective, it’s a no-brainer. As EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy explained in a statement: “For the lakes and rivers we love to be clean, the streams and wetlands that feed them have to be clean, too.”

Pruitt doesn’t see it that way. In a March 2015 column he co-wrote with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for The Hill, Pruitt called the Clean Water Rule “the greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen.” Pruitt and Rand maintain that states should be responsible for protecting the environment within their respective borders, not the federal government. Never mind that air and water pollution do not honor political boundaries and state legislatures are all too often dominated by corporate interests.

Besides Pruitt’s disdain for air and water safeguards, he is no fan of federal efforts to address climate change, which he falsely insists is an open scientific question. Pruitt, who has received generous contributions from fossil fuel interests, is not only party to a pending lawsuit against the EPA over its Clean Power Plan to curb electricity sector carbon emissions, he also attempted unsuccessfully to overturn the agency’s science-based “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare, a cornerstone of the EPA’s climate work.

Public health advocates are rightly horrified at the prospect of Pruitt running the EPA. The response from Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, was typical.

“The EPA plays an absolutely vital role in enforcing long-standing policies that protect the health and safety of Americans, based on the best available science,” Kimmell said in a press statement. “Pruitt has a clear record of hostility to the EPA’s mission, and he is a completely inappropriate choice to lead it. … It’s this simple: If senators take seriously their job of protecting the public, they must vote no on Pruitt.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

By Jay Michaelson –
The Forward December 30, 2016

Jay Michelson writes: Looking toward 2017 can be overwhelming. The coming Trump administration presents so many potential risks, it’s hard to know which to feel anxious about. When I feel overwhelmed, I find that it helps to make lists. Here, then, in a rough order of danger, but also grouped by category, are 50 things for American Jews to be worried about as the new administration takes shape.

National Security and International Affairs

1. Unprepared Amateurs in a Crisis. Surely the most dangerous aspect of the Trump presidency isn’t what we know — it’s what we don’t know. What happens when the next terrorist attack takes place? Or the next belligerent move from Russia, China or North Korea? With ideologues and amateurs in charge of national security, the risk of war, even nuclear exchange, grows extremely high.

2. Poor Muslim Intelligence. Having alienated our former allies in the Muslim world and in the U.S. Muslim community, the United States has worse intelligence and more radicalized Islamists. The risk of a large-scale terror attack on our soil skyrockets.

3. Ceding Power to Russia. With America’s retreat from the world stage, Russia gains power, influence and money. Human rights, democracy and the rule of law decline.

4. Ceding Power to China. With America’s retreat from the world stage, China gains power. Same effects as No. 3.

5. Global Disorder. Trump’s erratic behavior alienates our allies, destabilizes the world order and destroys American prestige (as has already begun to happen with his buffoonish phone calls with Taiwan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom).

6. International Organizations Undermined. NATO and the United Nations are crippled. Israel suffers in particular, as its stalwart friend is undermined and ultranationalist Israeli policies leave few other allies.

7. War Crimes. Trump makes good on his promise to kill terrorists’ families and is brought up on war crimes charges. In response, America pulls out of the International Criminal Court. The United States targets and murders innocent people.

8. Climate Change Accelerates. Its effects lead to violence and to further economic destabilization. Global agriculture is severely disrupted, and entire ecosystems wither.
7. War Crimes. Trump makes good on his promise to kill terrorists’ families and is brought up on war crimes charges. In response, America pulls out of the International Criminal Court. The United States targets and murders innocent people.8. Climate Change Accelerates. Its effects lead to violence and to further economic destabilization. Global agriculture is severely disrupted, and entire ecosystems wither.

9. Cowboy Diplomacy. With extremists running the executive branch, the United States engages in “cowboy diplomacy,” including numerous military actions in the Middle East, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and to a further destabilization of the region.

10. Decline of International Rule of Law. The United Nations is weakened as America undermines it and refuses to pay its dues. International rule of law declines to its lowest point since World War I.

11. The Islamic State Group Strengthens. With Assad in Syria, Russia’s sphere of influence grows. The gains Iraq has made against the Islamic State group are lost when the United States alienates Iraq and others. Islamic State emerges stronger.

12. Israel Moves Away From Democracy. Israel passes a wave of anti-democratic measures, leading to the further emigration of its smartest, most productive citizens.

13. Nuclear Iran. With the Iran nuclear deal scuttled, Iran resumes development of nuclear weapons. This leads to a massive, deadly military exchange with the United States and/or Israel.

14. Global Intolerance. The State Department not only stops funding pro-women, pro-education, pro-human rights and pro-LGBTQ initiatives around the world, but also starts funding the exact opposite, channeling billions of federal dollars to hard-right Christian organizations.

15. Russian Machinations. It can’t be ruled out that Russia had further interests in influencing the American election beyond having a weakened America. We don’t know what these interests were.

Decline of Democracy

16. Civil Liberties Are Discarded. Muslims and Mexicans are the primary targets, but the rule of law decays in America with summary deportation processes, decreased oversight from the Department of Justice, and legitimized stereotyping and scapegoating. Other minorities, including Jews, suffer from this overall decline.

17. Big Brother. All Americans are spied on, all the time. Per Newt Gingrich’s recommendation, the Un-American Activities Committee is re-formed, targeting political opponents, liberals, etc.

18. First Amendment Is Redefined. Registries of Muslims are adopted, religious tests barring Muslims from entry, along with other anti-Muslim activities, erode the fundamental constitutional order of the United States and alienate our most important allies — moderates of all stripes, believers in modernity and the 88%? of Muslims who despise the fundamentalist terrorists — against terror.

19. Human Rights Nightmare. Deporting 3 million people is a human rights nightmare, especially for enrollees in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA participants were brought here as young children and gave their private information in exchange for deferred action on deportation. Now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement knows exactly where they are.

20. Social Permission for Discrimination. The “Trump Effect” leads to widespread “brownshirt” violence and discrimination against people of color, Muslims, women, LGBTQ people and Jews, among others. Rudeness, boorishness, chauvinism and vulgarity become even more commonplace, and often spill into physical attacks (as have already taken place).

21. White Supremacists in the Mainstream. The rise of the “alt-right” has unknown effects. At the very least, anti-Semitism and racism are mainstreamed.

22. Escalation of Invasive, Race-Based Policing. National stop-and-frisk and “law and order” policies cause a massive increase in police violence, leading to vicious rebellion by people of color, which in turn leads to further militarization of police, crackdowns across the country and an enormous spike in mass incarceration. Massive private prisons are built. Half of the country’s young black men are in the criminal justice system. Many are dead.

23. Scapegoating the Fourth Estate. With the mainstream media no longer granted access to the White House, partisan, billionaire-funded yellow journalism such as Fox News and Breitbart supplant the “fourth estate.” The press itself becomes regarded as the enemy, and standards of truth and fact-checking are disregarded. Transparency and the principles of government for the people are discarded.

24. Racial Disenfranchisement. Trump continues to baselessly allege voter fraud, leading to widespread disenfranchisement, particularly of people of color. The Republican Party seizes on voter suppression as a primary way to maintain power as a minority party.

25. Kleptocracy. As did his actual conflict of interests, Trump’s potential kleptocracy goes unpunished. In addition to Trump’s family siphoning off billions of dollars, American democracy becomes a banana republic in which kowtowing to the leader is de rigueur for anyone wishing to do business here.

26. De Facto Censorship. Trump continues to insult and assault artists, leading to de facto censorship.

27. Post-Truthiness. All of the foregoing and more lead to a retreat from truth and reasoned discourse, and to its replacement by a conservative relativism that denies science and the basic principles of truthful exposition.

28. Militarization of the Border. Trump’s border policies are an abject failure, leading to further militarization of the border and to numerous incidents of deadly violence.

Other Domestic Issues

29. Gun Violence. All gun control is banned across America, with a federal law taking precedence over local and state regulations and banning gun restrictions. Handgun violence and mass shootings skyrocket, amplifying calls for “law and order.”

30. Drill, Baby, Drill. The “Drill, Baby, Drill” mantra becomes national policy. Devastating spills occur in the Gulf of Mexico and in the former Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Keystone XL and other mega-pipelines are built. America loses its edge in renewable technologies, enriching China. And, of course, climate change accelerates.

31. Pollution Reaches Unprecedented Levels. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are repealed or unenforced, and pollution reaches levels never before seen in America. The Environmental Protection Agency is dismantled from within by a “director” cherry-picked from the fossil fuel industry.

32. America’s Wilderness Is Destroyed. America’s vast open areas are turned into coal mines, forests are clear-cut and wilderness areas across the country are destroyed. The die-off of mass species spikes.

33. Unregulated Chemicals Cause Devastation. Generally modified organisms, pesticides and other newly unregulated technologies lead to unexpected devastation across the country.

34. Jim Crow Era Voter Restrictions. The Civil Rights Act is ignored, and African Americans have essentially no legal protections whatsoever. The Voting Rights Act is fully repealed, and we see a return to Jim Crow era restrictions on voting. Affirmative action is likewise repealed, of course.

35. Supreme Court Rollback. Another Supreme Court justice dies, and so Trump nominates two arch-conservatives who not only roll back Roe v. Wade and same-sex marriage, but also take a “strict” reading of the Commerce Clause and thus invalidate all civil rights laws, most environmental laws and the modern American state as we know it.

36. Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination Is Legalized, Funded. With the passage of the “First Amendment Defense Act,” it becomes legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people across the country. Conversion therapy is offered in public schools.

37. Transgender Is Declared To Be Mental Illness. Anti-trans discrimination is formally legal, and violence against trans people skyrockets.

38. Church-State Barriers Are Dismantled. Led by Mike Pence, re-Christianization of America unfolds, with billions of dollars flowing to conservative religious organizations, and the introduction “religious liberty” laws that enable anyone to discriminate or otherwise flout laws for religious reasons. Moralizers use intimidation, censorship and regulation to shut down “immoral” art and expression.

39. Gutting of Higher Education. Focusing on the nonissue of “political correctness” and “safe spaces,” public university education is gutted. Liberal arts education particularly suffers. The American work force becomes dumber and less adaptable.

40. Gutting of Public Education. Under Betsy DeVos, federal funds for public education are rerouted to barely regulated sectarian private schools. Federal education curricula promote intelligent design, abstinence-only education and discredited pseudoscience on sexuality.

Financial Issues

41. A Feudal Wealth Gap. With taxes slashed for the .01% richest Americans, the wealth gap balloons to levels unknown since feudalism. The depredations of the 1% look like a socialist paradise. Ironically, Trump’s own working-class supporters lose the most.

42. Health Insurance Destroyed. With Obamacare repealed and replaced by private health accounts, millions become uninsured once again, and the health system becomes further stratified, resembling an airplane with a crowded coach class and an ever more opulent first class.

43. Organized Labor Participation and Wages Plummet. Union busters take over (or eliminate) the Department of Labor, destroying the institutions most responsible for the middle-class: labor unions. Wages fall across the country.

44. Dollar and Real Estate Collapse. With America retreating from the world stage, the dollar loses its status as reference currency, the New York real estate market crashes and trillions of dollars of wealth are wiped out, causing economic depression. (Low risk, but high damage.)

45. Trade War. Protectionist policies and a trade war with China devastate America’s economy, and since the Trans-Pacific Partnership dies, China establishes economic dominance over the entire Pacific Rim. A U.S. depression quickly follows.

46. Risky Wall Street Speculation. Dodd Frank is repealed, which causes a new round of risk-taking and double-dealing on Wall Street, exacerbating the risk of a repeat of 2008. Wall Street wins big, and when the crash comes Wall Street wins big again, as in 2009. Everyone else loses worse than in 2008.

47. Economic Disorder. The Trump administration meddles with the Federal Reserve, causing financial panic.

48. Brain Drain. Immigration laws make it impossible for talented technology workers to come to the United States, leading to a massive brain drain for other countries.

49. Destruction of the Internet as We Know It. Net neutrality is discarded, leading to a monopolization of the internet by a small handful of companies. The internet as we know it is replaced by something that looks more like network television.

50. Creation of the U.S. Oligarchy. Giant monopolies, especially in finance, are allowed to be created through unregulated mega-mergers. Power is aggregated in a small handful of gigantic institutions. The United States becomes an oligarchy.

Jay Michaelson is a regular columnist for the Forward. Follow him on Twitter @jaymichaelson
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BREAKING — THE DANGLING FRUIT IN FRONT OF TRUMP: Ford is canceling plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Mexico and instead is investing $700 million in Michigan. The company’s CEO Mark Fields told CNN that the move is a “vote of confidence” in President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to create a pro-business environment. Fields emphasized, however, that he did not negotiate any special deal with Trump. “We didn’t cut a deal with Trump,” he said. “We did it for our business.” bit.ly/2j4UZZ4

U.N.’s Israel vote: The House will vote Thursday on a resolution disapproving of the United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many Democrats could join with Republicans to pass the measure as a means of demonstrating their support for Israel, even if their votes would put them at odds with President Obama. The U.S. refused to veto the Security Council resolution and instead abstained from the vote.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

What to Expect in China Policy During the First 100 Days of Donald Trump’s Presidency
Young China Watchers and the Center on U.S.-China Relations of the New York City based Asia Society, present Daniel Rosen and Orville Schell.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Asia Society
725 Park Ave., New York, NY, 10021

With the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States fast approaching, nominations for most of the highest cabinet appointments and many senior staff positions announced, and months of frenetic media coverage of President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team behind us, it is worth assessing how Trump’s world view and that of his advisors is likely to shape American policy toward China.

By establishing contact with the Taiwanese leader and openly questioning the “One China” policy, Trump has already signaled that he is willing to turn the U.S.-China relationship as we know it on its head. Daniel Rosen, co-founder of the Rhodium Group, and Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell will discuss what it all means for the future of U.S.-China relations.

SPEAKERS:

Daniel H. Rosen is a co-founding Partner of the Rhodium Group (RHG), and leads the firm’s work on China and the world economy. His is currently focused on China’s reform challenges, patterns in Chinese direct investment, and the impact of nationalistic technology policies on Chinese welfare. Mr. Rosen has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University since 2001, and he is affiliated with a number of preeminent American think tanks. Since 1992, he has authored more than a dozen books and reports on aspects of China’s economic and commercial development. He served on the White House National Economic and Security Councils in 2000-01.

Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York. He is a former professor and Dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of numerous books on China, most recently Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century. Schell was born in New York City, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in Far Eastern History, was an exchange student at National Taiwan University in the 1960s, and earned a Ph.D. (Abd) at the University of California, Berkeley in Chinese History.


LIVE WEBCAST:
Can’t make it to this program? Tune in Wednesday, January 18, at 6:30p.m. New York time for a free live video webcast. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions to  moderator at asiasociety.org or via Twitter by using the hashtag #AsiaSocietyLIVE.
 AsiaSociety.org
/Live

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Co-organized by Young China Watchers and the Center on U.S.-China Relations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 31st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


We’re Living Through the First World Cyberwar – but Just Haven’t Called It That

By Martin Belam, Guardian UK
30 December 16

Nation states have been attacking each other electronically for a decade or more. Historians will eventually give it a name and a start and end date
he job of the historian is often to pull together broad themes and trends, then give them a snappy title that people will easily recognise and understand. That’s how we end up with labels like “The decline and fall of the Roman Empire” or “The Rise of Hitler and the Third Reich”.

As someone who studied history, I’ve had this lingering curiosity about how historians of the future will view our times. It is easy to imagine textbooks in a hundred years with chapters that start with Reagan and Thatcher and end with the global financial crisis and called something like The Western Neoliberal Consensus 1979-2008.

But contemporaries seldom refer to events with these names, or can see the sharp lines that the future will draw. It wouldn’t have seemed obvious with the capture of Calais in 1347 that this decisive siege was just one early development in a dynastic struggle that would come to be known as the hundred years war.

This always makes me wonder what broader patterns we might be missing in our own lives, and I’ve come round to thinking that we might already be living through the first world cyberwar – it’s just that we haven’t acknowledged or named it yet.

What might a timeline of that war look like to a future historian? Well, 2007 seems like a good bet as a starting point – with a concerted series of cyber-attacks on Estonia. These were particularly effective, because the Baltic state has pushed so much of its public life online. The attacks were generally regarded to have come from Russia with state approval. That’s just one reason why I suspect cyberwarfare will provoke endless debates among historians.

Cyberwarfare is clearly a front where nation states will try to gain advantage over each other and make plans for attack and defence. But, like espionage, it is a murky world where it is hard for outsiders to get an exact grasp on what is being done. Nation states seldom openly claim credit for hacking.

In 2008 there were events that a historian might weave into a narrative of a global cyberwar, when several underwater internet cables were cut during the course of the year, interrupting internet communication and particularly affecting the Middle East. Some have argued these were accidents caused by ships dragging their anchors, but they mostly remain unsolved mysteries, with the suspicion that only state actors would have the required equipment and knowledge to target the cables. Of course, it might have just been sharks.

In 2010 the Stuxnet worm was used to attack Iran’s nuclear program. Carried on Microsoft Windows machines, and specifically targeting software from Siemens, Stuxnet was reported to have successfully damaged the fast-spinning centrifuges used to develop nuclear material in Iran. Analysts at the time thought the computer virus so sophisticated that it must have been developed with state support – with fingers frequently pointed at the US and/or the Israelis.

Another event from 2010, the WikiLeaks American embassy cables release, which the Guardian participated in the publication of, would be irresistible for a historian to refer to in this context. It is also one of the things that makes the first world cyberwar different from conventional warfare – the mix of nation states being involved with pressure groups, whistleblowers and hackers. As well as the state apparatus, a history of this period of electronic warfare would have to name Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Anonymous and the Syrian Electronic Army as key players.

We are definitely living through something global in scope. North Korea has been suspected of hacking as a way to achieve diplomatic goals. The FBI publicly accused it of hacking Sony Pictures in 2014, exposing confidential company information. It was a hack of a Japanese company, targeted by an Asian state, with the aim of pressuring the US arm of the company over a movie.

Along the way there have been other equally odd quirks of war – the infected USB keys distributed at a US military base in 2008, or the curious laptop theft at a facility in Scotland that had recently received an official Chinese delegation.

The one that historians will be unable to ignore though is the 2016 US election campaign being influenced by alleged hacked and leaked emails – and the open speculation there was an attempt to hack into election counting machines by a foreign power. It might be unprecedented, but it isn’t going to go away. Yesterday Obama announced retaliation from the US and Germany is already braced for interference in its 2017 elections.

What reason is there to suppose that these events might eventually be grouped together as a single world cyberwar by historians? Well, for me, it is the idea that hostilities might formally come to an end.

You can envisage a scenario where Russia, China and the US can see a mutual benefit in de-escalating cyber-attacks between the three of them, and also begin to collectively worry about cyberwarfare capabilities being developed in a range of smaller nation states. Cue a UN summit about cyberwarfare, and the development of some code of conduct, or an anti-cyberwarfare treaty that provides historians with a neat endpoint.

It isn’t, of course, that nation states would stop electronic surveillance or building up hacking capabilities, but as with most wars that don’t deliver a decisive victory, eventually they become too expensive and too disruptive to maintain.

It is important to remember that the internet originally came from defence research, designed to provide communications capabilities in the event of a nuclear attack. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a hundred years it is the military purpose that historians mainly remember it for, and that we are living through the first time it is being used in anger.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 31st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Trump Could Be Fighting Obama’s Climate Policies for Years

By Timothy Cama, The Hill
30 December 16

President-elect Donald Trump’s energy agenda is shaping up to be a years-long effort to undo President Obama’s policies.

Supporters of Trump and industries that have opposed Obama’s regulatory actions say turning back the clock is the most important thing the president-elect can do to help businesses succeed.

But it won’t be easy to undo many of the energy and climate regulations that Obama has put in place.

Under federal law, reversing major regulations requires a time-consuming process that can drag on for months and sometimes years. And even after new rules are issued, they can be challenged in court — something environmental groups are already vowing to do.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has in recent weeks added to Trump’s list of targets by issuing a new coal-mining regulation and offshore drilling bans in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Obama also created controversial national monuments in Utah and Nevada that Republicans are pushing Trump to repeal, something Obama says is not in Trump’s power to do.

“Some actions they will be able to do in relatively short order. Other major rules will take time to meet the burden of regulatory process,” said Scott Segal, a lobbyist at Bracewell who represents numerous energy companies.

“The next administration needs to be careful, transparent and follow the rule of law, or else they’ll have potential trouble in front of a reviewing court,” Segal said. “Because there’s no doubt that the environmental community would sue to prevent these actions.”

Still, much of Obama’s environmental agenda was enacted through executive actions, which are within Trump’s power to quickly reverse.

The Republican Congress can also help undo some of Obama’s recent rules by using the Congressional Review Act, which provides for the expedited repeal of regulations.

“The Obama administration has done a lot unilaterally, and the silver lining of that is that it can be undone unilaterally,” said Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

What seems clear is that Trump is dedicated to the fight.

While Trump has given a few nods to the green movement — Trump met separately with climate activists Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio after the election — his Cabinet picks are vocal critics of Obama’s agenda.

Trump’s selections include Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) to lead the Interior Department and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to lead the Energy Department.

William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, said an aggressive fight against Obama’s policies is a welcome change and something to be expected when the White House changes hands.

“It is not uncommon whenever there’s a change of party, given how much policy emanates from the executive branch these days, for recension to be of the order for the incoming president,” he said. “When policy emanates from the executive, and there’s a change in the executive, policy is supposed to reflect that.”

During the campaign, Trump ran in part on an aggressive deregulatory plan, saying in September that he would pursue “the elimination of all unnecessary regulations and a temporary moratorium on new regulations not compelled by Congress or public safety.”

Trump has specifically pledged to undo the Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the United States rule, Interior’s stream protection rule and the moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land.

He’s also promised to stop all payments to international climate efforts, to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, and to open more federal land and water to oil and natural gas drilling.

The Trump transition website promises that the next administration “will unleash an energy revolution that will transform us into a net energy exporter, leading to the creation of millions of new jobs, while protecting the country’s most valuable resources — our clean air, clean water, and natural habitats.”

Environmentalists and other Trump opponents say many of Obama’s actions are popular with the public and should be preserved. They accuse the Republican of focusing solely on reversing Obama, rather than putting forward energy and environmental plans of his own.

“If President-elect Trump decides to go in the direction that it appears he is, trying to undermine a full range of environmental protections, weakening or eliminating a move to a clean-energy economy, there will be a very strong reaction,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Goldston compared Trump’s plans to those of presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, as well as that of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). All three came to power with broad deregulatory promises but failed to overcome opposition, he said.

“There was a strong vocal backlash, and they eventually decided this was not worth their effort. And we expect that to be the case again,” he said.

James Goodwin, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform, said he is optimistic that the country will continue to move toward clean energy sources like wind and solar, no matter what Trump does.

“There’s only so much you can do with policy that’s going to change the way we’re headed,” he said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


WE POST THIS AS WE WONDER IN WHICH SCHOOL OF DIPLOMACY STUDIED ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU – WHO SITS ALSO IN THE CHAIR OF HIS FOREIGN MINISTER. HE SEEMINGLY DOES SUCH A BAD JOB UNDER BOTH HATS SO THAT HE IS EVEN BEING CRITICIZED IN PUBLIC BY HIS OWN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER. THIS WOULD BE FUNNY IF NOT INVOLVING NUCLEAR POWERS. TO BRING THIS HOME, A STATEMENT BY A FORMER ISRAELI MINISTER LAST WEEK CAUSED THE RATTLE OF NUKES BY PAKISTAN.

FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW -IT BECOMES IRRELEVANT TO TALK OF CLIMATE CHANGE WHEN THE FRY AND THE BIG ONES – i.e. Messrs. Putin and Trump SEEM BENT TO TELL THE WORLD THAT NUKES ARE THE FUNDAMENT OF SECURITY IN A POST-OBAMA ERA.

MIDDLE EAST

Defying U.N., Israel Prepares to Build More Settlements

By PETER BAKER – The New York Times DEC. 26, 2016.


Introducing Photo – Housing construction last week on the outskirts of Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish housing development in East Jerusalem. CreditJim Hollander/European Press photo Agency

JERUSALEM — Undeterred by a resounding defeat at the United Nations, Israel’s government said Monday that it would move ahead with thousands of new homes in East Jerusalem and warned nations against further action, declaring that Israel does not “turn the other cheek.”

Just a few days after the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlements, Jerusalem’s municipal government signaled that it would not back down: The city intends to approve 600 housing units in the predominantly Palestinian eastern section of town on Wednesday in what a top official called a first installment on 5,600 new homes.

The defiant posture reflected a bristling anger among Israel’s pro-settlement political leaders, who not only blamed the United States for failing to block the Council resolution, but also claimed to have secret intelligence showing that President Obama’s team had orchestrated it. American officials strongly denied the claim, but the sides seem poised for more weeks of conflict until Mr. Obama hands over the presidency to Donald J. Trump.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at Security Council countries by curbing diplomatic contacts, recalling envoys, cutting off aid and summoning the American ambassador for a scolding. He canceled a planned visit this week by Ukraine’s prime minister even as he expressed concern on Monday that Mr. Obama was planning more action at the United Nations before his term ends next month.


The Times of Israel:

Deputy FM questions PM’s diplomatic embargoes after UN vote. In apparent jab at Netanyahu for canceling meetings with world leaders, Hotovely says ‘part of diplomacy is explaining our position’

BY RAOUL WOOTLIFF December 27, 2016,

Introducing photo – Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely speaking at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem (Elram Mendel)

Raoul Wootliff is The Times of Israel Knesset correspondent.

TZIPI HOTOVELY – Deputy Foreign Minister

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU – Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Minister of many other things.


The prime minister defended his retaliation. “Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek,” he said. “This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the U.N. is unacceptable to us.”

The Security Council resolution that passed Friday condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation under international law” and an obstacle to peace. The Council approved it 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining instead of using its veto, as it has in the past.

Mr. Trump publicly pressed for a veto of the resolution and has chosen a settlement advocate as his administration’s ambassador to Israel. He turned to Twitter on Monday night to air complaints that the United Nations “is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”

Palestinian leaders made clear that they would use the resolution in international bodies to press their case against Israel. With the imprimatur of a United Nations finding of illegality, they said they would campaign to require that other countries not just label products made in the settlements, but ban them.

“Now we can talk about the boycott of all settlements, the companies that work with them, et cetera, and actually take legal action against them if they continue to work with them,” Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, was quoted as saying by the Palestinian news media.

He outlined other steps the Palestinians could now take, using the resolution to press the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli leaders, file lawsuits on behalf of specific Palestinians displaced by settlements and urge the international authorities to determine whether Israel is violating the Geneva Conventions.

“We are looking to devise a comprehensive vision, and hopefully 2017 will be the year when the Israeli occupation ends,” Mr. Malki said.

Israeli officials said such pronouncements showed that the resolution actually undermined chances for a negotiated settlement because the Palestinians now have less incentive to come to the table. By declaring Israeli settlements illegal, they said, the United Nations essentially took away the one chip that Israel had to trade, meaning land.

“The Palestinians are waging a diplomatic and legal war against Israel. That’s the strategy,” Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said in a phone interview. “Their strategy is not to negotiate an agreement with Israel because a deal is give and take. They want take and take.”

Israel’s settlement project, once a scattering of houses across the so-called Green Line marking the borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, has grown substantially over the years. In 2009, the year Mr. Obama took office, 297,000 people lived in West Bank settlements and 193,737 in East Jerusalem. That increased to 386,000 in the West Bank by the end of last year and 208,000 in East Jerusalem by the end of 2014, according to Peace Now, a group that opposes settlements.

Israeli officials note that when Mr. Netanyahu acquiesced to a 10-month settlement freeze sought by Mr. Obama in 2009, the Palestinians still did not agree to negotiate until just before time ran out. But the addition of more than 100,000 settlers during Mr. Obama’s tenure convinced him that it was time to change approach at the United Nations, aides said.

The 618 housing units to be granted building permits in East Jerusalem on Wednesday have been in the works for a while, and the planning committee meeting agenda was set before the United Nations acted. But the committee chairman said he was determined to go forward with units totaling 5,600.

“I won’t get worked up over the U.N. or any other organization that might try to dictate to us what to do in Jerusalem,” Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, the planning committee chairman, told the newspaper Israel Hayom. “I hope that the government and the new administration in the United States will give us momentum to continue.”

Although he did not specify which projects he had in mind, Ir Amim, a private group tracking settlements in East Jerusalem, said he was probably referring to projects in Gilo and Givat Hamatos. Betty Herschman, the group’s director of international relations and advocacy, said it was “defiance demonstrated after Trump’s election, now reinforced by the U.N. resolution.”

Anat Ben Nun, the director of development and external relations for Peace Now, said such construction was problematic. “Netanyahu’s attempt to avenge the U.N.S.C. resolution through approval of plans beyond the Green Line will only harm Israelis and Palestinians by making it more difficult to arrive at a two-state solution,” she said.

Israeli leaders said they had no reason to stop building. The Security Council resolution “was absurd and totally removed from reality,” said Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy for the Yesha Council, which represents West Bank settlers. “Israeli building policies are set in Jerusalem, not New York.”

For the fourth day, Israeli officials accused Mr. Obama’s team of ambushing them at the United Nations. While the White House denied it, Israeli officials pointed to a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and his New Zealand counterpart a month before the Council vote discussing a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. New Zealand was a sponsor of Friday’s measure.

Mr. Dermer, the ambassador, said Israel had other, nonpublic information proving the Obama administration’s involvement but provided no evidence and would not elaborate beyond saying it would be provided to Mr. Trump’s team when he takes office.

“They not only did not get up and stop it, they were behind it from the beginning,” Mr. Dermer said. “This is why the prime minister is so angry. We’re going to stand up against it.”

Israeli officials worried that Mr. Kerry would use a coming speech or a conference in France to outline an American peace plan that would be hostile to Israel’s interests. Mr. Kerry’s office had no comment.

The fury of Mr. Netanyahu’s response has generated debate at home. Mitchell Barak, a political consultant, said the political left considered the resolution “an epic foreign policy and diplomatic debacle” by Mr. Netanyahu.

But to his base, the Security Council action confirmed what they believed all along, that Mr. Obama is inherently anti-Israel, and so the prime minister comes across as a champion beset by enemies. “For them,” Mr. Barak said, “Netanyahu emerges from this unscathed, as the lone wolf in a lion’s den of hatred.”

Since the measure was passed, Israel has taken a number of retaliatory steps against the countries that supported its passage, including an official dressing-down of the Security Council members’ ambassadors to Israel on Sunday, Christmas Day.

Netanyahu on Saturday disinvited Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman after Kiev voted in favor of the resolution.

Groysman, who became his country’s first-ever Jewish prime minister earlier this year, was scheduled to arrive in Israel on Tuesday for a two-day visit that would have included meetings with Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other senior officials.

Netanyahu’s office has denied reports that he nixed a meeting with Theresa May next month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying that no meeting had been set. But the deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Tony Kay, told The Times of Israel on Monday there had been plans for a sit-down, though Jerusalem had not told London it planned to cancel the meeting.

Netanyahu has also reportedly ordered the Foreign Ministry to minmize all working ties with the 12 of countries that voted in favor of the decision with which Israel has diplomatic relations. Foreign ministers from the countries will reportedly no longer be able to meet with Netanyahu or Foreign Ministry officials.

In addition, travel by Israeli ministers to the countries will be kept to a minimum, an official said.

Of the 15 countries on the UN Security Council, 14 voted in favor of Resolution 2334, which demands a halt to all Israeli settlement activity — including in East Jerusalem — with one abstention, that of the US, whose veto would have nixed the measure.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Make Russia great again? Aleppo and a plea from another world

JUAN FRANCISCO LOBO – OpenDemocracy – 24 December 2016


During the last days of December, Russia will host a round of diplomatic talks with Iran and Turkey.


A hundred years ago, Ernst Jünger described a peculiar encounter with a frightened British officer in his account of trench warfare, Storm of Steel: “he reached into his pocket, not to pull out a weapon, but a photograph (…). I saw him on it, surrounded by numerous family (…). It was a plea from another world.”


According to conventional wisdom, “war is hell,” as famously sentenced by General Sherman. Hence Jünger’s depiction of the scene as something from another planet. And that is how the world today, more concerned with the holidays and the latest Hollywood blockbuster, is receiving the dire plea for help by multiple civilians caught in the crossfire of the battle for Aleppo. We simply content ourselves with the thought that civilians will always suffer in times of war, for war is hell.

Or is it?

A few days ago, the soon to be replaced Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, gave his last press conference. Referring to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, he remarked ominously: “Aleppo is now a synonym for hell”. But surely the Secretary General did not intend merely to describe a regrettable fait accompli, as someone might depict a natural disaster. His closing official words carry a message for the world to actively engage in Aleppo, and particularly to make belligerents stop targeting civilians, for not everything is allowed in war after all. As Michael Walzer has pointed out in his decades-long effort to revive the Just War tradition, we strive to fight wars justly and to uphold rules even in the midst of hell.

But, who is there to listen this plea from another world? Even if the message gets through, what is the attitude of superpowers vis-à-vis any demands that the rules of war be upheld?

I have previously argued that there is a value to American hypocrisy coming from its blatant breach of international humanitarian law during the last decade when torturing its way through to fight the “war on terror.” If as La Rochefoucauld said once, hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue, then the difference between a hypocrite and a cynic lies in the former’s capacity to recognize the existence of rules, only deliberately flouting them, whereas the latter does not even admit the existence of rules. Whereas the day of reckoning eventually comes for the hypocrite, the cynic is forever immune to criticism.


What about Russia?

Has Vladimir Putin’s regime been a hypocrite or a cynic in international relations? We know it has not been an Aliosha Karamazov, a saint, but then, which country has? Has Russia been more of a cynic like Ivan, or a hypocrite like Dimitri Karamazov? The answer is that is has been a bit of both over recent years, behaving as ambiguously as the double-headed eagle in its national coat of arms.

Sometimes Russia has recognized the existence of jus ad bellum and jus in bello conventions and has pledged to uphold them. Indeed, Russia relied on the responsibility to protect doctrine when trying to justify its military advance over Georgia in 2008. In 2013, Russia demonstrated what it could broker in the international arena when stepping in to secure a last-minute deal between Syria and the United States for Al-Assad to surrender his chemical weapons arsenal, absolutely banned under international humanitarian law. Just last Monday morning, on December 19 2016, Russia consented to a Security Council resolution to deploy observers to monitor civilian evacuation procedures in Aleppo.

To be sure, Russia’s use of R2P doctrine in 2008 has been widely condemned as a case of pure hypocrisy; yet, the important thing about the hypocrite is that he acknowledges the existence of rules. Whether he truly respects them or not is something that cannot be ascertained in the present – any more than it can be in the case of the true believer, for that matter.

On the other hand, Russia has of late deployed some alarmingly cynical attitudes in the international arena. During November 2016, Russia announced its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, pragmatically arguing that “during the 14 years of the court’s work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars”. ( This announcement followed an ominous spree of similar withdrawals from the ICC by African states. It also followed the publication of a Report by the ICC containing its preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine, where allegedly war crimes are being committed by Russian and pro-Russian forces.

Although technically Russia never became a party to the Rome Statute – having signed yet never ratified it, and now just exerting its right to make “its intention clear not to become a party to the treaty” pursuant to article 18 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties – still this announcement comes as a strong sign of Russian contempt towards international legal institutions.

Some other worrisome examples of Russian cynicism towards the rule of international law are its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the law passed in 2015 authorizing its constitutional court to overrule decisions by the European Court of Human Rights.

Regarding the armed conflict in Syria, during recent years Russia has systematically vetoed Security Council draft resolutions aimed at solving the crisis in order to protect the interests of Al-Assad, its strongest client in such a strategic region.

Nevertheless, Russia still has the potential to change the course of the Syrian deadlock, as it demonstrated when it brokered the chemical weapons deal in 2013. Moreover, history arguably presents Russia today with a unique opportunity to become the legitimate heir of a genuine humanitarian tradition that the ancient Russian Empire has practiced since the late nineteenth century. Among the main landmarks of this tradition we find the Saint Petersburg Declaration (1868), the humanitarian intervention which prompted the Russian-Turkish War (1877) and Russia’s key role in the discussion of The Hague peace conferences (1899 to 1907), where the Russian diplomat Fiodor Martens promoted a famous clause to protect people in times of war.

During the last days of December, Russia will host a round of diplomatic talks with Iran and Turkey to try and find a definitive solution to the Syrian civil war. If Putin wants to “make Russia great again,” he should endeavor to honor that tradition. By doing so at least Russia will more probably err on the side of hypocrisy rather than on that of cynicism, and people who suffer the consequences of war would still have a chance to find solace behind the aegis of international law.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 26th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We visited the village of MARSAXLOKK, of La Valetta, Malta, as part of a MSC Splendida cruise of the Western Mediterranean. This was on a beautiful December 21, 2016 – First Winter Day. Our guide insisted in pointing out the difference from the stormy 1998 day – when right after the fall of the Berlin Wall – this bay was host to the first post Cold War meeting between the the presidents of the USA and the Soviet Union – Messrs. Gorbachev and H. W. Bush.

I decided right there to post about that old event, that closed the era codified at Yalta by the 1945 interim settlement between Stalin and Roosevelt with only Churchill sitting in. Today we seem to enter an era that replaces the global peace that came after the cold war with a Putin-Trump concordance that has the potential to destroy everything that achieved since the 1990s.

We visited today the village of MARSAXLOKK, of La Valetta, Malta, as part of a MSC Splendida cruise of the Western Mediterranean. This was a beautiful December 21, 2016 First Winter Day, and our guide insisted in pointing out the difference from the stormy 1998 day when right after the fall of the Berlin Wall this bay was host to the first post Cold War meeting between the the presidents of the USA and the Soviet Union Messrs. Gorbachev and H. W. Bush.

I decided to post about that old event, that closed the era that was codified at Yalta by the 1945 interim settlement between Stalin and Roosevelt with only Churchill sitting in. Today we seem to enter an era that replaces the global peace that came after the cold war with a Putin-Trump concordance that has the potential to destroy everything that was achieved since the 1990s.

I thought that a new meeting at MARSAXLOKK – BETWEEN PUTIN AND TRUMP – could help both of them open eyes to where they want to lead the global community that by now got glued together in a manner that it is impossible to see any of the old super-powers not cooperating, or not making place for China and India as well, or ignoring the future rise of Africa and Brazil. Could it be that we are the first to call for such a meeting? Is it really far-fetched to attribute to the present two gladiators, that will be active on the global stage into the 2017-2020 years, a sense of the need of covering each other’s back when in the midst of the aspiring powers of China, India, other Asians, and some form of a reformulated Europe. All this while basic concepts of Democracy and Human Rights are being shelved, and replaced with power of oligarchies bent on increased personal gains that leave behind hordes of malcontents – the brew of a new undertow of Despicables a la Les Miserables?

Malta Summit
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

(To be seen a Monument in Bir?ebbu?a commemorating the Malta Summit)

The Malta Summit comprised a meeting between US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, took place on December 2–3, 1989, just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It was actually their second meeting following a meeting that included Ronald Reagan, in New York in December 1988.

During the summit, Bush and Gorbachev would declare an end to the Cold War although whether it was truly such – is a matter of debate. News reports of the time referred to the Malta Summit as the most important since 1945, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed on a post-war plan for Europe at Yalta.

No agreements were signed at the Malta Summit. Its main purpose was to provide the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, with an opportunity to discuss the rapid changes taking place in Europe with the lifting of the Iron Curtain, which had separated the Eastern Bloc from Western Europe for four decades. The summit is viewed by some observers as the official end of the Cold War. At a minimum, it marked the lessening of tensions that were the hallmark of that era and signaled a major turning point in East-West relations. During the summit, President Bush expressed his support for Gorbachev’s perestroika initiative and other reforms in the Communist bloc.

The U.S. delegation:

James Baker, U.S. Secretary of State

Robert Blackwill, then Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council

Jack F. Matlock, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union

Condoleezza Rice, then Director for Soviet and East European Affairs at the National Security Council

Brent Scowcroft, U.S. National Security Adviser

Raymond Seitz, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs

John H. Sununu, White House chief of staff

Margaret Tutwiler, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Spokeswoman of the Department

Paul Wolfowitz, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Robert Zoellick, Counselor of the Department of State

Venue: “From Yalta to Malta”, and back.
The meetings took place in the Mediterranean, off the island of Malta. The Soviet delegation used the missile cruiser Slava,[2][3][4] while the US delegation had their sleeping quarters aboard USS Belknap.[5][6] [7]

The ships were anchored in a roadstead off the coast of Marsaxlokk
. Stormy weather and choppy seas resulted in some meetings being cancelled or rescheduled, and gave rise to the moniker the “Seasick Summit” among international media.

In the end, the meetings took place aboard Maxsim Gorkiy, a Soviet cruise ship anchored in the harbor at Marsaxlokk.

The idea of a summit in the open sea is said to have been inspired largely by President Bush’s fascination with World War II President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s habit of meeting foreign leaders on board naval vessels.[8][9] The choice of Malta as a venue was the subject of considerable pre-summit haggling between the two superpowers. According to Condoleezza Rice:

“… it took a long time to get it arranged, finding a place, a place that would not be ceremonial,
a place where you didn’t have to do a lot of other bilaterals. And fortunately – or unfortunately – they chose Malta, which turned out to be a really horrible place to be in December.

Although the Maltese were wonderful, the weather was really bad.”[10]

The choice of venue was also highly symbolic. The Maltese Islands are strategically located at the geographic centre of the Mediterranean Sea, where east meets west and north meets south. Consequently, Malta has a long history of domination by foreign powers. It served as a British naval base during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and suffered massive destruction during World War II.

Malta declared its neutrality between the two superpowers in 1980, following the closure of British military bases and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Regional Headquarters (CINCAFMED), previously located on Malta.

Neutrality is entrenched in the Constitution of Malta, which provides as follows, at section 1(3):

“Malta is a neutral state actively pursuing peace, security and social progress among all nations by adhering to a policy of non-alignment and refusing to participate in any military alliance.”


On February 2, 1945, as the War in Europe drew to a close, Malta was the venue for the Malta Conference, an equally significant meeting between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill prior to their Yalta meeting with Joseph Stalin. The Malta Summit of 1989 signalled a reversal of many of the decisions taken at the 1945 Yalta Conference.

See also:
Revolutions of 1989
Cold War
Cold War (1985-1991)
List of Soviet Union–United States summits
New world order (politics)
References:
Jump up^ “An Interview with Dr. Condoleezza Rice (17/12/97)”
Jump up^ www.nytimes.com/1989/12/03/world/…
Jump up^ articles.latimes.com/1989-12-02/n…
Jump up^ articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-…
Jump up^ www.nytimes.com/1989/12/03/world/…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Trump’s Dilemma: To Please His Friends by Trashing the Paris Climate Deal, or Not?

By Bill McKibben, Guardian UK
19 November 16

If the president-elect sabotages last year’s agreement, he will own every disaster – every hurricane a Hurricane Donald, every drought a moment for mockery.

It seems likely that the Paris climate accords will offer one of the first real tests of just how nuts Donald Trump actually is. For a waiting world it’s a public exam, his chance to demonstrate either that he’s been blowing smoke or deeply inhaling.

Think, if you will, of the Paris agreement as a toy painstakingly assembled over 25 years by many of the world’s leading lights. It has now been handed, as a gift, to the new child-emperor, and everyone is waiting to see what he’ll do.

His buddies – the far-right, climate-denying, UN-hating renegades who formed his campaign brains trust – are egging him on to simply break it, to smash it on the floor for a good laugh. In fact, they’re doing their best to give him no way out. “President-elect Trump’s oft-repeated promises in the campaign are fairly black-and-white,” said Myron Ebell, head of his Environmental Protection Agency transition team, last week. (Ebell believes that the Paris deal is an attempt to “turn the world’s economy upside-down and consign poor people to perpetual poverty” – and that climate science is done by “third-rate, fourth-rate and fifth-rate scientists”.)

On the other side are the world’s business leaders, 365 of whom just signed a letter asking Trump to keep America engaged in the Paris process to provide “long-term direction”. These are not people who have spent their lives in obscure rightwing thinktanks. They run stuff – like DuPont, General Mills, Hewlett-Packard, Hilton, Kellogg, Levi Strauss, Nike and Unilever. And it’s hard to run stuff if the rules keep changing.

There’s also a gang of Americans who care what the rest of the world thinks. A group of former military leaders this week sent Trump’s transition team a briefing book arguing that climate change presents a “significant and direct risk to US military readiness, operations and strategy”. Ben Cardin, a Delaware senator and the top Democrat on the Senate foreign affairs committee, said withdrawing from the Paris deal would damage “our credibility on other issues”.

And then there’s the rest of the world. Other nations can’t be “weak” or “naive”, said France’s former (and perhaps future) president Nicolas Sarkozy. If Trump pulls the US out of Paris, Sarkozy proposes a carbon tariff on US goods. That won’t happen, but diplomats at the current climate talks in Marrakech have made it clear that leadership on the 21st century’s most important issue would pass from Washington to Beijing.

So Trump faces a dilemma. Does he please his most extreme friends? If so, he will own every climate disaster in the next four years: every hurricane that smashes into the Gulf of Mexico will be Hurricane Donald, every drought that bakes the heartland will be a moment to mock his foolishness. That’s how that works.

Or does he back down? It’s clear he won’t do anything to enforce the Paris accords anyway – to all intents and purposes Obama’s clean power plan expires at noon on 20 January, and Trump’s guys will give the green light to any pipeline anyone proposes. But if he doesn’t actually smash the global architecture of the Paris accords, he’ll win points from responsible people. That’s how that works.

It’s entirely possible he’ll decide to do neither, and send the Paris accords to the Senate for some kind of show vote, letting the entire Republican party take the heat for its climate-denying views. This would demonstrate weakness of a particularly childish sort – the coat-holding boy who goads everyone else into a fight and steps back to watch.

The irony here is that the Paris accords aren’t even very strong. They represent a lowest-common-denominator effort, one that will allow the world’s temperature to keep climbing dangerously. They were passed in no small part to allow the world’s leaders to strenuously pat themselves on the back for having done something. But at least the pact keeps the process moving – and there are mechanisms that might allow the world to ratchet up its efforts as the temperature climbs. It’s a tissue of compromise and gesture, a flimsy bulwark against the climbing mercury and rising sea. But wrecking it would be an act of political vandalism, one that would define Trump’s legacy before he has even taken office.

So we’ll see.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Climate talks: ‘Save us’ from global warming, US urged.

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

BBC Science & Environment
19 November 2016

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the conference that climate change was not a hoax
The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to “save” Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two.

He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end.

Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed.

Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects.

But as he accepted the role of president of the Conference of the Parties for the year ahead, the Fijian leader took the opportunity to call on to the next US president to step away from his scepticism.
“I again appeal to the President-elect of the US Donald Trump to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his position that man-made climate change is a hoax,” said Mr Bainimarama.
“On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avoid catastrophe.”


He also made a direct call to the American people to come to their aid in the face of rising seas, driven by global warming.
“We in the Pacific, in common with the whole world, look to America for the leadership and engagement and assistance on climate change just as we looked to America in the dark days of World War Two.
“I say to the American people, you came to save us then, and it is time for you to help save us now.”
After two weeks of talks here in Marrakech, participants arrived at a consensus on the next steps forward for the landmark climate treaty.

This gathering saw the opening of CMA1, the Conference of the Parties meeting as the signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises.
CMA1 will be the formal UN body that will run, manage and set the rules for the operation of the Paris treaty.


UK joins the club

The number of countries who have ratified the agreement jumped above 100 with the UK joining during the last few days of the conference.
“Delegates in Marrakech made crucial progress in building the foundation to support the Paris agreement, which went into force just days before COP22,” said Paula Caballero from the World Resources Institute.

“Most importantly, negotiators agreed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement by 2018 and developed a clear roadmap to meet that deadline.”

US secretary of state John Kerry gave an impassioned speech in Marrakech, his last climate conference while in office

The participants also agreed the Marrakech Proclamation, a statement re-affirming the intentions of all 197 signatories to the Paris deal.

Seen as show of unity on the issue in the light a possible US withdrawal, countries stated they would live up to their promises to reduce emissions. The proclamation also called on all states to increase their carbon cutting ambitions, urgently.

Some of the poorest nations in the world announced that they were moving towards 100% green energy at this meeting.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum said that the 47 member countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Yemen, would achieve this goal between 2030 and 2050. And they challenged richer countries to do the same.

Despite these steps forward there were still some areas of significant difference between the parties, especially over money. The talks will continue in 2017 with a new US delegation picked by the Trump administration.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 16th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Monsanto Goes on Trial for Ecocide

By MercoPress
posted also by Readers Supported News
15 October 16

his symbolic trial, which will be live streamed from Oct. 15, 8:30 a.m. GMT+2 on the tribunal website, will follow guidelines of the United Nations’ international court of justice and will have no legal standing. Rather, its purpose is to gather legal counsel from the judges as well as legal grounds for future litigation.

”The aim of the tribunal is to give a legal opinion on the environmental and health damage caused by the multinational Monsanto,“ the tribunal organizers state on their website. ”This will add to the international debate to include the crime of Ecocide into international criminal law. It will also give people all over the world a well documented legal file to be used in lawsuits against Monsanto and similar chemical companies.”

Monsanto, which is inching closer to a US$ 66bn takeover from German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, has faced a never-ending slew of health and environmental controversies over its products since, well, the beginning of the twenty first century.

Monsanto’s historical line-up of products includes banned and highly toxic chemicals such as 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant Agent Orange); PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyl); and Lasso, a herbicide banned in Europe. Glyphosate, the controversial main ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling weed-killer RoundUp, is the most widely used pesticide in the world. Monsanto is also the world’s largest genetically modified (GMO) seed maker, giving them a major hand over the world food supply

The trial, which will proceed on the same weekend as World Food Day, is organized by Organic Consumers Association, International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM) Organics International, Navdanya, Regeneration International, Millions Against Monsanto as well as dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups.

Monsanto Corporate Engagement office has stated that “in growing our food, farmers face some tough challenges as the world’s population continues to grow. To address these ever increasing challenges collaboratively and advance our commitment to human rights, we welcome a genuine constructive conversation with diverse ideas and perspectives about food and agriculture production.

”This mock trial is not a real dialogue but a stunt staged by the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM), Organic Consumers Association and others who are fundamentally opposed to modern agriculture innovation, where anti-agriculture technology and anti-Monsanto critics play organizers, judge and jury, and where the outcome is pre-determined. Here is a link to our Open Letter regarding this mock trial.

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Comments:

+1 # guomashi 2016-10-15 14:01
Where is the link to the Open Letter regarding the mock trial?

.. not that I would read it or anyone would believe it.

May Monsanto rot in hell.
They are now going around to all the farms they can and testing the produce to see if any of it got cross-pollinate d with their patented life-forms.
Then they sue.
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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 15th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 thegreeneconomy.com/content/towar…

Towards a New Economy: Investors forging a road less traveled.

We live in an economic world that most would call capitalism: a word we all use, but definitions vary. Generally starting with “An economic ‘system’ …”. The definitions go on to define aspects of the ownership of capital. What is left out is the question: “What are the goals of a capitalist system?” As the goals of a capitalist economy have changed, so have the investor strategies that fuel markets. Currently, the system has tended toward ‘maximizing shareholder profit’ rather than on creating companies that have long term value for shareholders through:

Transparent and accountable governance,
A stable employee base that makes enough money to purchase the output of the economy,
Policies that strengthen local communities, and a
Means of production that produces goods at the least cost to the environment.
Investors, who do use these metrics as a basis for their decisions, use terms such as ‘mission investing’ ,’ triple bottom line’, ‘ESG’ and ‘impact’ investing. However, such terms can miss the point because they imply that investors are searching for social good, not for metrics that provide returns above market rate. Yet as far back as 2009, Sarah Stranahan, speaking at a Sustainable Investing conference in New York, spoke about the Needmor Foundation, which has used a mission investing strategy.

Sarah Stranahan: “Why are we trying to prove that we [mission investors] are as good as the dominant markets? The dominant markets have failed dismally. Needmor did 4.5% better [than a comparable foundation without a mission strategy]. So what? We still lost 25% of our endowment. We failed in our fiduciary duty and disappointed our grantees and our staff because we had faith in the dominant markets.”

As foundations and funds were reassessing their strategic goals in 2009, Dave Chen in San Francisco was working on a plan to implement. Please continue by going to the link!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Zarif is Right but his advice is old hat to us – Stop the Contrived Dependence on Oil – the only way that Unties the US from its Slavery to Saudi Arabia.

Zarif talks of WAVE – “World Against Violent Extremism” – and wants this to become a UN sponsored policy with the understanding that it is the Saudi Petrodollars that led to the destruction of Syria and that Wahhabi Sunni Extremism has not led only to attacks on Christians, Jews, and Shia, but also on the destruction of more normal Sunni communities that thrived in Syria and all ver the World. His pinpointing the Saudis and their enslavement to Wahhabism comes naturally to an Iranian who is part of a mainly Shia Nation that also an oil exporter – but nevertheless – his analysis is correct.

The posting of the Zarif column by The New York Times comes at a time President Obama has announced that he will VETO the bill in case Congress votes to allow Court cases against Saudi Arabia as having been in part responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the like of sane people jumping to their death because of crimes committed by Saudi citizens proven to have been aided by their government.

Please note – this is a rare occasion we have no understanding for a President Obama held position. In effect he seems to side with the GW Bush position when he released the Bin Laden family and sent them home from an airport that was closed to American citizens.

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR to The New York Times

Mohammad Javad Zarif: Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism

By MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF – September 13, 2016
Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

From Tehran: Public relations firms with no qualms about taking tainted petrodollars are experiencing a bonanza. Their latest project has been to persuade us that the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, is no more. As a Nusra spokesman told CNN, the rebranded rebel group, supposedly separated from its parent terrorist organization, has become “moderate.”

Thus is fanaticism from the Dark Ages sold as a bright vision for the 21st century. The problem for the P.R. firms’ wealthy, often Saudi, clients, who have lavishly funded Nusra, is that the evidence of their ruinous policies can’t be photoshopped out of existence. If anyone had any doubt, the recent video images of other “moderates” beheading a 12-year-old boy were a horrifying reality check.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, militant Wahhabism has undergone a series of face-lifts, but underneath, the ideology remains the same — whether it’s the Taliban, the various incarnations of Al Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State, which is neither Islamic nor a state. But the millions of people faced with the Nusra Front’s tyranny are not buying the fiction of this disaffiliation. Past experience of such attempts at whitewashing points to the real aim: to enable the covert flow of petrodollars to extremist groups in Syria to become overt, and even to lure Western governments into supporting these “moderates.” The fact that Nusra still dominates the rebel alliance in Aleppo flouts the public relations message.

Saudi Arabia’s effort to persuade its Western patrons to back its shortsighted tactics is based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran. The fanciful notions that regional instability will help to “contain” Iran, and that supposed rivalries between Sunni and Shiite Muslims are fueling conflicts, are contradicted by the reality that the worst bloodshed in the region is caused by Wahhabists fighting fellow Arabs and murdering fellow Sunnis.

While these extremists, with the backing of their wealthy sponsors, have targeted Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Shiites and other “heretics,” it is their fellow Sunni Arabs who have been most beleaguered by this exported doctrine of hate. Indeed, it is not the supposed ancient sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites but the contest between Wahhabism and mainstream Islam that will have the most profound consequences for the region and beyond.

While the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq set in motion the fighting we see today, the key driver of violence has been this extremist ideology promoted by Saudi Arabia — even if it was invisible to Western eyes until the tragedy of 9/11.

The princes in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, have been desperate to revive the regional status quo of the days of Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq, when a surrogate repressive despot, eliciting wealth and material support from fellow Arabs and a gullible West, countered the so-called Iranian threat. There is only one problem: Mr. Hussein is long dead, and the clock cannot be turned back.

The sooner Saudi Arabia’s rulers come to terms with this, the better for all. The new realities in our region can accommodate even Riyadh, should the Saudis choose to change their ways.

What would change mean? Over the past three decades, Riyadh has spent tens of billions of dollars exporting Wahhabism through thousands of mosques and madrasas across the world. From Asia to Africa, from Europe to the Americas, this theological perversion has wrought havoc. As one former extremist in Kosovo told The Times, “The Saudis completely changed Islam here with their money.”

Though it has attracted only a minute proportion of Muslims, Wahhabism has been devastating in its impact. Virtually every terrorist group abusing the name of Islam — from Al Qaeda and its offshoots in Syria to Boko Haram in Nigeria — has been inspired by this death cult.

So far, the Saudis have succeeded in inducing their allies to go along with their folly, whether in Syria or Yemen, by playing the “Iran card.” That will surely change, as the realization grows that Riyadh’s persistent sponsorship of extremism repudiates its claim to be a force for stability.

The world cannot afford to sit by and witness Wahhabists targeting not only Christians, Jews and Shiites but also Sunnis. With a large section of the Middle East in turmoil, there is a grave danger that the few remaining pockets of stability will be undermined by this clash of Wahhabism and mainstream Sunni Islam.

There needs to be coordinated action at the United Nations to cut off the funding for ideologies of hate and extremism, and a willingness from the international community to investigate the channels that supply the cash and the arms. In 2013, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, proposed an initiative called World Against Violent Extremism, or WAVE. The United Nations should build on that framework to foster greater dialogue between religions and sects to counter this dangerous medieval fanaticism.

The attacks in Nice, Paris and Brussels should convince the West that the toxic threat of Wahhabism cannot be ignored. After a year of almost weekly tragic news, the international community needs to do more than express outrage, sorrow and condolences; concrete action against extremism is needed.

Though much of the violence committed in the name of Islam can be traced to Wahhabism, I by no means suggest that Saudi Arabia cannot be part of the solution. Quite the reverse: We invite Saudi rulers to put aside the rhetoric of blame and fear, and join hands with the rest of the community of nations to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and violence that threatens us all.

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Mohammad Javad Zarif is the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


2016 CKB Outreach Event Live from Golden, CO: “Knowledge Brokering in Support of Post-Paris Climate Action.”

Learn about the role Climate Knowledge Brokers can play in turning commitments under the Paris Agreement into action and find out how your organisation can contribute to and/or benefit from their work.

16:00-18:00 (US Mountain Time), September 20th, 2016 – NREL, Golden, CO

Register here to join us on the livestream:  attendee.gotowebinar.com/registe…

Check the time zone for your time: timeanddate.com/s/329v

Organized by the Climate Knowledge Brokers Group jointly with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP).


Knowledge Brokering for Post-Paris Climate Action

The world is slowly waking up to the fact that climate change is already affecting people everywhere and in all sectors, and that in a not too distant future, it will affect almost all of us. Last year’s Paris Agreement was a big step forward towards global recognition of the magnitude of the challenges surrounding climate change mitigation and adaptation. Though the ambitious commitments made in the agreement were justly celebrated as a victory for anyone concerned about climate change, the hard work of turning those commitments into action has only just begun.

The Climate Knowledge Brokers Group, a community of practice consisting of more than 150 individuals and organisations involved in climate knowledge brokering work, believes that reliable, readily accessible information on climate change is key in making decisive action possible. Too often, policy makers and others dealing with climate change are having to base their decisions on unreliable or incomplete climate information, or without taking climate change into account at all. This can be because they are unaware of the importance of considering climate change in decision making, because no relevant information exists for their particular sector or location, or because so much information exists that they do not have the time to find what they need. The Climate Knowledge Brokers Group aims to address those problems to achieve its vision of a world where all people can make good climate-sensitive decisions based on the best available climate change knowledge and information.

Agenda:

16:00 Welcome and Introduction to the Climate Knowledge Brokers Group
16:15 Pitches by Climate Knowledge Brokers
16:30 Panel Discussion: Climate Knowledge Brokering in support of Climate Action after Paris.

Panellists:
Bill Becker – Executive Director, Presidential Climate Action Project
Chuck Kutscher – Director, Center for Buildings and Thermal Systems, NREL
Bob Noun – Adjunct Professor, University of Denver
Josh Agenbroad – Manager, Transportation and Industry Practices, Rocky Mountain Institute
Chair: Geoff Barnard, CDKN and Chair of the CKB Steering Group

Contact:

If you ave any questions about the event or the CKB group, feel free to contact the CKB Coordination Hub by replying to this e-mail or contacting  info at climateknowledgebrokers.net.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 8th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEW YORK MAGAZINE / THE NATIONAL INTEREST
September 7, 2016

Matt Lauer’s Pathetic Interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Is the Scariest Thing I’ve Seen in This Campaign
By Jonathan Chait


A frightening case study in journalistic failure.

I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major-party candidates. Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists. I not only consume a lot of news, since it’s my job, I also tend to focus on elite print-news sources. Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.

Lauer focused a third of his questioning time on Clinton’s private email server. Her decision to follow Colin Powell’s advice is a legitimate blot on her record. But Lauer did not move the ball forward on the question in any meaningful way:

The word judgment has been used a lot around you, Secretary Clinton, over the last year and a half. And in particular concerning your use of your personal email and server to communicate while you were secretary of state. You have said it’s a mistake.

“You said you made not the best choice.”

“You were communicating on highly sensitive topics. Why wasn’t it more than a mistake? Why wasn’t it disqualifying, if you want to be commander-in-chief?”

Lauer followed up with four more email-related questions. The impression an uninformed or even moderately informed viewer would receive from this interview is that the email issue represents a sinister crime, perhaps completely disqualifying from office, rather than an unjustifiable but routine act of government non-transparency.

The email exchange would not by itself be so alarming except when viewed in juxtaposition with Lauer’s hapless interview of Trump. Trump began the interview by boldly insisting, “I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004. You can look at before that.” This is a lie. Trump has been quoted supporting the invasion beforehand and even afterward. Nobody has produced any evidence of Trump contradicting his support for the war before it started. His line to Lauer was transparently ridiculous – how could a 2004 interview supply evidence of having opposed a war that began in 2003? But Lauer did not try even a single follow-up.

Trump Lies About Iraq War Opposition, Lauer Moves to Next Question

Trump Offers Peace Through Strength – and Craziness

Trump went on to make a series of wild and dangerous statements. He praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong, effective, and popular leader. Lauer did press him on this point, and when he did, Trump offered the astonishing rebuttal, saying President Obama had done equivalently brutish things. Lauer did not press Trump on his claim that the president of the United States behaves in a fundamentally similar way to a dictator who imprisons and kills political critics and journalists. Trump likewise reiterated his belief that “to the victor go the spoils” is the proper basis for American foreign policy, specifically with regard to his long-standing lament that the United States failed to steal Iraq’s oil after the 2003 invasion.

Lauer’s attempt to press Trump was the completely ineffectual technique of asking repeatedly if he is ready to serve as commander-in-chief. Lauer probably believes the answer is no, but nothing about this question would drive home Trump’s extraordinary lack of knowledge. Instead it allowed him to performatively demonstrate his confident, alpha-male reality-show character as a prospective chief executive.

Both of these beliefs stun and appall foreign-policy experts in both parties, as readers of the Washington Post or the New York Times know. But the average undecided voter isn’t reading those newspapers. The average undecided voter is getting snippets of news from television personalities like Lauer, who are failing to convey the fact that the election pits a normal politician with normal political failings against an ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian.

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