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Peoples without a UN Seat:


Posted on on February 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Dear Pincas Jawetz,

One month remains until GLOBE 2014 kicks-off on March 26, 2014 in Vancouver, Canada – and GRI is ready to ignite the dialogue on corporate transparency with a dynamic and inspiring line-up of speakers from around the world!

The GRI-hosted Transparency Track will put the topic of corporate transparency on the agenda at GLOBE for the very first time, and we invite you to join us in moving this conversation forward.

Registration for the event is available on the GLOBE 2014 website. Registration fees rise after March 4, 2014 – register now to save 20%! What’s more, GRI network supporters receive an additional reduction of 15% by registering with the following code: GRI-OS-GL14.

We look forward to welcoming you and the following speakers in Vancouver next month! The complete conference program is available on the GLOBE 2014 website.

Feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

All the best,
The GRI Focal Point USA & Canada Team

Architects of a better world: corporate responsibility in a new age of transparency

  • Christy Wood, Chairman, GRI
  • Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
  • Helle Bank Jørgensen, Special Advisor, UN Global Compact Canada
  • Gord Lambert, Executive Advisor Sustainability & Innovation, Suncor Energy
  • Anthony Hodge, President, International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)
  • Bruno Sarda, Global Sustainability Director, Dell

The changing regulatory landscape: catalyzing business in the 21st century

  • Tom Carnac, President CDP North America, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
  • Mark Pearson, Director General External Relations, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
  • Nelson Switzer, Director & Leader Sustainable Business Solutions, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
  • Simon MacMahon, Global Director Advisory Services, Sustainalytics

Financial markets and the move towards responsible capital management

  • Susan McGeachie, Market Leader Climate Change & Sustainability, Ernst & Young
  • Adam Kanzer, Managing Director and General Counsel, Domini Social Investments
  • Barbara Pomfret, ESG Analyst, Bloomberg L.P.

Green is the new black: the growing role of the C-Suite in sustainability

  • Jessica Fries, Executive Chair, The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S)
  • Henry Stoch, Partner Sustainability & Climate Change, Deloitte
  • Warren Allen, President, International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)
  • Beverley Briscoe, Chair of the Audit Committee, Goldcorp
  • Patrick Daniel, Director at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce; Member of Board of Directors at Cenovus Energy


Posted on on February 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Actually – the title of the speech at the lunch organized yesterday by the Brazilian, Colombian, Ecuadorean Peruvian and Venezuelan – American Associations or Chambers of Commerce “- with Dr. Ocampo – was: “IS THE COMMODITY BOOM IN LATIN AMERICA ENDING?

The speaker who is now professor at Columbia University is very well known to us since his having been Finance Minister in Colombia, an official at the World Bank and the UN and member of many studies and panels – in effect searching our own website one finds many references to him.

Traditionally, Latin America is an exporter of Natural Resources we call Commodities because we used to say they are fungible – if the producer wants to increase price we will go to someone else who makes the same product – so exchanges just dealt with the bulk in many cases even not specializing – that is except for just a few items like sugar, coffee, cocoa, but forget wood, minerals, oil, coal – these were just means of getting the resources of the South to an industrialized North at fire-sale prices.  In the exporting countries  a few in the government circle got rich – and the many got meager salaries provided they played the game. Country economies were measured in GDP terms without any attention to who gets that income and why.

We know that the World economy had a slow down – but commodity purists say that 2004 – 2007 was the best time for commodity exports in the last three decades. Now they look at the possibility  that World Growth Prospects are slowing by much and this is not just in the movement of goods.

In effect Dr. Ocampo enlarged the subject also to Migrant flows and Remittances, and access to International Financial markets – that were best since the second half of the 1970s.

What has happened since 2011 is that growth has slowed by 30% despite a strong business cycle – not any different then in the US itself I must add – and this must be an eye opener to all those young unemployed that prepared themselves for a life on the boom. Dr. Ocampo found within the commodity business boom also a South-North regional pattern that will harm poverty reduction efforts – and he reaches the conclusion that due to the weakening of the World Trade, the space for orthodox export-led policies may be over, he said. On the other hand, a pure inwards-looking strategy would work only for very few countries – perhaps Brazil – he said.

So, he advises an aggressive export diversification strategy;
A reorientation towards Asia – that means China – but this works only with diversification;
A sponsored expansion of the domestic markets.

When it came to the Q&A – a question that seemed to me out of place was about entrepreneurs and small business. This is indeed very important for the social structure of the country, and for the economy at large – but does not touch the Commodity issue because that issue was always in BIG Hands.

I tendered a different question which I predicated by saying that I am trying to deconstruct the concept of Commodities – a concept that in my eyes never had standing in the economy.

I mentioned that some of the commodities are non-renewable and when exhausted leave only problems behind and an impoverished Nation. Within this group there are technology induced changes – like the foreseeable demise of the Copper market and a new demand for Lithium .

But then there are Commodities based on Renewable Resources that do not harm the future of the State. But even here there are effects from the outside – this like the demise of Leopard Skins or Ivory and Rhinoceros Tusks from lists of Commodities.

So, my actual question is if time has not arrived to look at each exported good separately rather then bunching them into the term of Commodities where the exporters of bananas once thought they could build up a power equal to that of OPEC.
After the talk  – I found that quite a few people were ready to give a second thought to these comments.o
I took then the 50 Street Crosstown bus to get to the UN where a group that claims solidarity with the Palestinians was hosting Mr. Emad  Burnat from the village of Bil’in – a farmer and self-styled cameraman whose documentary “5 Broken Camera”  is being promoted by activist Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore.

Emad Burnat started filming in 2005 daily life in his village, and clearly had the talent to bring out the abnormal life under a foreign occupation  – that is if you consider living in the Colorado State of the Columbine shootings as normal, or life in any village in an Arab State normal.

I knew what to expect, but wanted to see how the UN sells the commodity of “Hate Israel” – because really – the hand clapping had nothing to do with trying to alleviate suffering of the Palestinians, but rather I saw there various people – some claiming Jewishness for unclear reason – and heaping it on Israel. There were so called Press or Media people that have never written a word about climate change,  and there was an Arab who lived in Brazil and loves to speak Portuguese and Spanish for his outreach.

I asked Mr. Burnat if he spoke ever with Uri Avnery – the Israeli maverick who was the one to bring to the public’s eye the problems the villagers of Bil’in were having, and who tried to help?  After all the film-maker’s statement was that it is his intent to help the villagers and himself? I said that talking with people like Avnery can help him on the ground – and what can the people in this room at the UN actually do on the ground?

As I did not get an answer to my very direct public question – just a few grunts and something that a TV reporter meant as an insult – “Zionist” I spoke to Emad after the presentation in private and then I heard from him that it is not about the village but larger, about Palestine. OK – so be it – the commodity at sale here is simple hatred – nothing else, but the problem is real and involves real people – and this is not his issue. I also said to him that in Israel people do not want to revisit the Holocaust and I would expect from him to not like the killing of the Syrian Arabs by Arabs – it does not make sense to score points over dead bodies.

I must also note that the UN DPI that posts a list of UN activities for the information of the media – had the “5 Broken Cameras” information, but then never has other topics of general interest – like the presentation today by Ms. Angela Kane – The UN Representative for Disarmament Affairs who spoke on her experiences as head of the UN spearhead on the issue of Chemical Weapons in Syria. She was very diplomatic and made sure she says only things she can prove. The Syrian Ambassador could not have had reason to doubt her impartiality.  She did her work out of her Vienna based headquarters and gave support to the UN Security Council – in case the UN wants to come up with decisions – but the question is will they?  For journalists the question is what is actually going on – and this presentation could have helped them – but the UN Department of Public Information keeps the Information commodity very close to the Arab side – whatever that might be the case.

OK, I am sure that I might have over extended the use of the term Commodities – but I do believe that there is indeed much more to this word if we try an ounce of real Aqua Vita. Individual Nations are suffering when the value of commodities is in decline – our job ought to be to explain why this happens – and the suffering – not of Governments but of their subjects.



Posted on on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

A global journey to 2030: Reviewing the First Steps …


The article below is the excerpt of a commentary authored by Molly Elgin-Cossart, former chief of staff for the secretariat of the High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. In her commentary, Molly draws on her experience with the High Level Panel offering a valuable insight of the process by looking at its strenghts, weaknesses and lessons learned. Molly is a Senior Fellow on global development at the Center on International Cooperation (CIC), at New York University, USA.


by Molly Elgin-Cossart -  now she is with the New York University  Center on International Cooperation – published by The Society for International Development – original link: The SID Forum Alert – February 17, 2014

The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post- 2015 Development Agenda (HLP) – a group of 27 eminent world leaders including a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Yemeni journalist, a Nigerian Minister of Finance, a Brazilian Minister of Environment, the CEO of Unilever, and three Heads of State/Government from Indonesia, Liberia, and the United Kingdom – came together a few months ago to make a deceptively simple statement at the United Nations: we can end extreme poverty by 2030.


For the first time in history, we have the knowledge, tools, and resources to Leave No One Behind. Not only that, we can do it as part of a broader economic transformation that will lead to sustained prosperity for all, and in a way that preserves our planet, for this generation and those to come.


This is an extraordinary moment. Never before has the opportunity to share prosperity been more within reach. To say that not a single person need live in the most desperate circumstances may sound innocuous. It may sound as if it is inevitable. But that is not the case. Continued growth will continue to reduce poverty, but it will not end it.


Cycles of poverty, perpetuated by injustice and inequality, trap the most vulnerable individuals and prevent them from fulfilling their potential. Often the poor are subject to overlapping forms of discrimination. For example, women who live with disabilities in isolated rural areas face a fight even to survive, let alone prosper, due to the discrimination, lack of mobility, and social exclusion they face.


Only through a transformational approach can we hope to give every person on this planet the chance she deserves. The members of the HLP agreed that we can – and we must – transform the way we approach development, to tackle global challenges through a new global partnership to end extreme poverty and put the world squarely on the path to sustainable development.


Crucially, though, the HLP report, A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development, is not the final word on the post-2015 development agenda. The world’s next development agenda will be decided at a summit of Heads of State in September 2015.


Between now and then, global leaders will discuss the future of poverty and sustainable development. Will they rise to the challenge? Or will they let the chance pass them by, distracted by problems at home and the frustrations of international negotiation?


It will be a difficult journey to agreement in 2015. But the stakes are too high to allow leaders to shirk their responsibility to get serious about taking action to confront the challenges we face, from poverty to inequality to environmental degradation. Because the deliberations of the HLP provide a preview of the debates to come, reviewing some of the lessons of the Panel’s experience may provide insight into the next two years of negotiations.


The Panel’s journey from London to Monrovia to Bali – through debates, discussions, and consultations, led them to a worthwhile destination: a coherent, effective and sustainable road map to tackle global challenges.


Yet more than the destination, it is the Panel’s journey that offers insight on navigating the rough waters ahead to 2015.


What follows are a few key observations from my experience as Chief of Staff of the Panel secretariat that I think are worth highlighting as we head into two years of intense multilateral negotiations.


Posted on on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Can Atrocity Be the Subject Matter of Poetry?

By Robyn Creswell, The New Yorker

16 February 2014


an atrocity be the subject matter of poetry? Carolyn Forché’s prose poem “The Colonel” was published in “The Country Between Us” (1981), a volume whose best-known poems concern the civil war in El Salvador. That conflict was just beginning when Forché travelled to the country, on a Guggenheim fellowship, to work with Amnesty International. “The Colonel” describes the poet’s dinner at the home of a military man. After the meal—“rack of lamb, good wine”—the officer leaves the room and comes back with a grocery bag full of human ears, which he spills onto the dinner table. He tells the poet that human-rights workers can go fuck themselves, then raises his glass in an ironic salute and says, “Something for your poetry, no?”

The excitement generated by Forché’s early work—Denise Levertov called her “a poet who’s doing what I want to do,” and Jacobo Timerman suggested that she was the next Neruda—grew out of a sense that she was reinventing the political lyric at a moment of profound depoliticization. While her contemporaries wrote poems of domestic unhappiness and the supermarket sublime (so this story goes), Forché was making engagé poetry out of Reagan-era dirty wars. Forché herself shied away from such claims. The poetry that interested her was not political, per se, but was what she called a “poetry of witness.” This was not the work of partisans but of those who, like Amnesty International, stood in solidarity with “the party of humanity.” Witness poetry was testimonial rather than polemical. The opening line of “The Colonel” states, simply, “What you have heard is true.”

Twelve years after publishing “The Country Between Us,” Forché edited an impressive anthology, “Against Forgetting” (1993), which argued for the poetry of witness as a coherent tradition in twentieth-century poetry. In her introduction, Forché located the intellectual origins of witness poetry in the work of European philosophers and poets—Walter Benjamin, Paul Celan, Edmond Jabès—whose lives and writings were marked by the experience of the Holocaust. In the aftermath of the death camps, such thinkers conceived of the poem as a stay against oblivion, “an event and the trace of an event.” Witness poetry also made ethical claims on its readers, who were asked to recognize, at a bare minimum, “that-which-happened.” As Wislawa Szymborska writes in “The Hunger Camp As Jaslo”:

Write it. Write. In ordinary ink
on ordinary paper: they were given no food,
hey all died of hunger. “All. How many?
It’s a big meadow. How much grass
for each one?” Write: I don’t know.
History counts its skeletons in round numbers.

Alongside poets whose primary trauma was the Holocaust, Forché included works by Latin Americans, Russians, Eastern Europeans, and Arabs, often in remarkably good translations. The anthology made it possible to link the fractured stanzas of Celan (“no one / bears witness for the / witness”) to the lyrics of Mahmoud Darwish, another poet of traces and inscriptions, whose verse establishes a counter-history of Palestine. If the poetry of witness is in some sense an invented tradition, then Forché’s anthology was nevertheless a valuable one. By placing such disparate poets together in one book, she allowed the reader to make unexpected, even startling, connections, which is what anthologies do at their best.

Now Forché has collaborated with Duncan Wu, a professor of English Romantic poetry at Georgetown, to edit a second big anthology, “The Poetry of Witness: The English Tradition, 1500-2001.” The collection begins with verse by Thomas More and ends with a ghazal by Agha Shahid Ali. Many of the selections are war poems, mainly from the English and American civil wars and the two world wars, while others take up the cause of abolitionism or women’s rights. There are a number of poems composed in prison, some in sight of the gallows (Wyatt’s “Sighs are my food, drink are my tears”), as well as devotional verse and, particularly in the modern period, many elegies.

It isn’t always clear why these poems belong in the same book, or why they count as poems of witness. Each editor has written a separate prefatory text, and it is difficult to make the two match up. Forché’s essay in the collection, “Reading the Living Archives,” repeats many points made in her introduction to “Against Forgetting.” She enlists the philosophies of Emanuel Lévinas and Jacques Derrida to her notion of witness poetry, but makes no mention of English-language verse. And, in fact, it is hard to see how Lévinas’s notion of witnessing as “the owning of one’s infinite responsibility for the other” could help one to determine a selection of poems. Perhaps Forché’s essay wasn’t written with the present anthology in mind, but, then, one wonders what it’s doing here.

Duncan Wu’s introduction sets out the editorial criteria more straightforwardly. Unlike Forché, he emphasizes the poetry of witness as a type of political verse. “The poems in this book are acts of resistance,” he claims. “Some of our authors defy injustice to the extent of incurring the wrath of those willing to impose the ultimate sanction of death; some face risks, whether on the battlefield or in the forum of public debate.” This seems an overstatement. It is true that Marvell’s “An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland,” arguably the finest piece of political rhetoric in English, is no mere panegyric. It manages to elegize Charles I and to register Marvell’s doubts about Cromwell’s scorched-earth tactics in Wexford and Drogheda. But to call it an act of resistance stretches the sense of that phrase.

There is something frustratingly vague about the notion of a poetry of witness, even in Forché’s initial formulation. Does the poet of witness need to have direct experience of the events in question, as seems to be the case with “The Colonel,” or can witnessing take place at a distance, so to speak? Some of the most powerful poetry of witness—Charles Reznikoff’s “Testimony,” for example, or the pages devoted to the Armenian genocide in Les Murray’s “Fredy Neptune,” neither of which appear in this volume—does not rely on having been present at the events in question. And what, exactly, is an “event”? Is there a common scale of experience between a solitary death, a protracted civil war, and a genocide?

Wu’s conflation of witness poetry with political verse may add to the confusion. “The Poetry of Witness” includes many works by nineteenth-century women’s-rights advocates and critics of slavery, “motivated by their willingness to denounce religious or political injustice,” as Wu writes. But is denouncing the same as bearing witness? And why are only these movements represented in the anthology? Bearing witness—as Forché does, at least, seem to recognize—is a politically neutral action. There is nothing inherently progressive about being a witness. (Ezra Pound on Hitler: “Like many martyrs, he held extreme views.”) The editors’ decision to include the voices of heroic liberalism also means there is too much verse that is, by all conventional criteria—vividness of language, ability to surprise, techniques of rhyme and rhythm—very bad.

Yes, injured woman, rise, assert thy right!
Woman! Too long degraded, scorned, oppressed;
Oh born to rule in partial law’s despite
Resume thy native empire over the breast!

—Anna Laetitia Barbauld, “The Rights of Woman”

For all their arguments about the past, one senses that both editors are ultimately concerned about the poetry and poets of today, as many anthologists are and should be: a tradition needs heirs. In his introduction, Wu argues, “The concentration of contemporary poets on the realm of the personal, almost to the point of myopia, is peculiar to recent times. Prior to that, poets commonly discussed experiences shared by the larger community in which they lived.” Lots of critics tell the same story. Whereas poetry was once a public art addressed to a broad audience, it has become—since around the sixties—the concern of a coterie, incomprehensible even to educated readers. Rather than discussing the experiences of the larger community, poetry has retreated into the workshops of Master’s programs, where its death throes go on unnoticed by the rest of the culture.

This story isn’t wholly inaccurate. Who would deny that poetry occupies a more and more restricted terrain in our republic of letters? But this isn’t because poets refuse to discuss the experiences of the larger community. In fact, much of the smartest poetry being written today is explicitly political, though I would not call it a poetry of resistance or denunciation.

One of the best collections of poetry published last year was Geoffrey G. O’Brien’s “People on Sunday.” The title poem refers to a German silent film that depicts group of young Berliners on a weekend outing, and O’Brien’s poems are animated by a concern with work and leisure, pleasure and unemployment. Few books evoke life in a recession (“Your best work is still behind you”) more acutely than this one: “It takes weeks / To learn how to use a negative space / Effectively. When the markets close / You feel time flows differently inside / Then you may close the book and drive, / Full of arid conflicts.” For O’Brien—whose work I take to be representative in this sense—poetry cannot establish its relevance by denouncing injustice. After all, we live in a time when “the poem / Is now believed to be the most distant / Object ever seen.” The more urgent (and patently political) task is to reconceive what community is, including the community of poetry: What are its borders, what binds it together, how is it maintained, why does it fall apart? In O’Brien’s version, this task can be a joyful one, similar to what Marx would call unalienated labor: “We decided to rebuild our home again / In the intermittent sun, strangers with arms / Linked to protect the thing behind them.”

“The Poetry of Witness” argues for the importance of a public-spirited poetry, willing to speak the truth to power. This is an important argument, but I wonder if its lessons and examples will instruct contemporary poets. The best of them seem to think of poetry’s possibilities along rather different lines than the verse of this anthology (though perhaps not so differently from Walt Whitman). Not as acts of resistance or denunciation but, rather, as efforts to reimagine, for our own time, what is public, what is poetic, and how they might come together.



Posted on on January 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (




Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit.

Posted:   |  Updated: 01/30/2014


WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden.


The document, with portions marked “top secret,” indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that “analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries’ preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies.”


“Second Party partners” refers to the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with which the U.S. has an intelligence-sharing relationship.

“While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event,” the document says.


The Huffington Post published the documents Wednesday night in coordination with the Danish daily newspaper Information, which worked with American journalist Laura Poitras.


The December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen was the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brings together 195 countries to negotiate measures to address rising greenhouse gas emissions and their impact. The Copenhagen summit was the first big climate meeting after the election of President Barack Obama, and was widely expected to yield a significant breakthrough. Other major developed nations were already part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions limits, while the United States — the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases when the protocol went into effect in 2004 — had famously declined to join. The two-week meeting was supposed to produce a successor agreement that would include the U.S., as well as China, India and other countries with rapidly increasing emissions.


The document indicates that the NSA planned to gather information as the leaders and negotiating teams of other countries held private discussions throughout the Copenhagen meeting. “Leaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding sidebar discussions with their counterparts — details of which are of great interest to our policymakers,” the document states. The information likely would be used to brief U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama, among others, according to the document.


The document does not detail how the agency planned to continue gathering information during the summit, other than noting that it would be capturing signals intelligence such as calls and emails. Previous disclosures have indicated that the NSA has the ability to monitor the mobile phones of heads of state. Other documents that Snowden has released indicate that the U.K.’s intelligence service tapped into delegates’ email and telephone communications at the 2009 G-20 meetings in London. Other previous Snowden disclosures documented the surveillance of the G-8 and G-20 summits in Canada in 2010, and the U.N. climate change conference in Bali in 2007.

The document also refers to some intelligence gathered ahead of the meeting, including a report that “detailed China’s efforts to coordinate its position with India and ensure that the two leaders of the developing world are working towards the same outcome.” It refers to another report that “provided advance details of the Danish proposal and their efforts to launch a ‘rescue plan’ to save COP-15.”


The Danish proposal was a draft agreement that the country’s negotiators had drawn up in the months ahead of the summit in consultation with a small number key of countries. The text was leaked to The Guardian early in the conference, causing some disarray as countries that were not consulted balked that it promoted the interests of developed nations and undermined principles laid out in previous climate negotiations. As Information reports, Danish officials wanted to keep U.S. negotiators from seeing the text in the weeks ahead of the conference, worried that it may dim their ambitions in the negotiations for proposed cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.


The Danes did share the text with the U.S. and other key nations ahead of the meeting. But the NSA document noting this as “advance details” indicates that the U.S. may have already intercepted it. The paragraph referring to the Danish text is marked “SI” in the Snowden document — which most likely means “signals intelligence,” indicating that it came from electronic information intercepted by the NSA, rather than being provided to the U.S. negotiators.


That could be why U.S. negotiators took the positions they did going into the conference, a Danish official told Information. “They simply sat back, just as we had feared they would if they knew about our document,” the official said. “They made no constructive statements. Obviously, if they had known about our plans since the fall of 2009, it was in their interest to simply wait for our draft proposal to be brought to the table at the summit.”


Members of the Danish delegation indicated in interviews with Information that they thought the American and Chinese negotiators seemed “peculiarly well-informed” about discussions that had taken place behind closed doors. “Particularly the Americans,” said one official. “I was often completely taken aback by what they knew.”


Despite high hopes for an agreement at Copenhagen, the negotiations started slowly and there were few signs of progress. Obama and heads of state from more than 100 nations arrived late in the second week in hopes of achieving a breakthrough, but the final day wore on without an outcome. There were few promising signals until late Friday night, when Obama made a surprise announcement that he — along with leaders from China, India, Brazil and South Africa — had come up with the “Copenhagen Accord.”


The three-page document set a goal of keeping the average rise in global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius, but allowed countries to write their own plans for cutting emissions — leaving out any legally binding targets or even a path to a formal treaty. Obama called the accord “an unprecedented breakthrough” in a press conference, then took off for home on Air Force One. But other countries balked, pointing out that the accord was merely a political agreement, drafted outside the U.N. process and of uncertain influence for future negotiations.


The climate summits since then have advanced at a glacial pace; a legally binding treaty isn’t currently expected until 2015. And the U.S. Congress, despite assurances made in Copenhagen, never passed new laws cutting planet-warming emissions. (The Environmental Protection Agency is, however, moving forward with regulations on emissions from power plants, but a new law to addressing the issue had been widely considered as preferable.)


The revelation that the NSA was surveilling the communications of leaders during the Copenhagen talks is unlikely to help build the trust of negotiators from other nations in the future.


“It can’t help in the sense that if people think you’re trying to get an unfair advantage or manipulate the process, they’re not going to have much trust in you,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists and a seasoned veteran of the U.N. climate negotiations. Meyer said he worried that the disclosure might cause the parties to “start becoming more cautious, more secretive, and less forthcoming” in the negotiations. “That’s not a good dynamic in a process where you’re trying to encourage collaboration, compromise, and working together, as opposed to trying to get a comparative advantage,” he said.


Obama has defended the NSA’s work as important in fighting terrorism at home and abroad. But the latest Snowden document indicates that the agency plays a broader role in protecting U.S. interests internationally.


National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment directly on the Snowden document in an email to the Huffington Post, but did say that “the U.S. Government has made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.” She noted that Obama’s Jan. 17 speech on the NSA “laid out a series of concrete and substantial reforms the Administration will adopt or seek to codify with Congress” regarding surveillance.


“In particular, he issued a new Presidential Directive that lays out new principles that govern how we conduct signals intelligence collection, and strengthen how we provide executive branch oversight of our signals intelligence activities,” Hayden said. “It will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances; our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of our companies; and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. And we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis, so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by the President’s senior national security team.”


Read the full document here.


(U) UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — Will the Developed and Developing
World Agree on Climate Change?

Deputy SINIO for Economics and Global Issues (S17)
Run Date: 12/07/2009
(U) Delegates from around the world will convene in Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December for the
UN Climate Change Conference (COP-15). The event is intended to be the culmination of two
years of negotiations by the international community to reach consensus on legally binding
commitments to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would enter into force in 2012, when
the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change expires. Over 90 world leaders, including
the U.S. President, are expected to participate. In Copenhagen, these leaders will attempt to reach
an agreement that both launches immediate action and ensures long-term commitments. However,
it remains to be seen if an agreement will be reached or whether negotiations will break down
entirely. Success or failure will have far-reaching effects in the areas of foreign policy,
environmental issues, and energy security.
(U) Reaching a global climate-change agreement will not be easy for the delegates. The greatest
challenge to the talks remains the North-South divide. The leaders from the North — i.e., developed
countries — see climate change as a problem with irreversible consequences that cannot be solved
without the full participation of developing countries, especially emerging market economies. The
leaders from the South — or developing countries, led by China and India — see the climate change
problem as not of their making and believe they are being asked to fix it in ways which will hamper
their ability to raise their standards of living.
(U) These divisions are deep, with both sides showing few signs of compromise. During the
opening session of preliminary negotiations in Barcelona last month, the 50-member Africa Group,
in a show of unity, walked out, announcing that they would boycott the Kyoto Protocol talks until
developed countries got serious about their climate change commitments. They ended their boycott
of the talks after winning promises for more in-depth talks on how much developed countries need
to reduce GHG emissions.
(U) To move the process forward, it will be necessary to bridge this divide. There are efforts
underway to do this, including the Franco-Brazilian common position, which aims to reduce GHG
emissions globally by at least 50 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. In a mid-November statement
to the press, Presidents Sarkozy and Lula emphasized that they hoped to demonstrate that two
countries with different national and regional situations can successfully adopt a joint position on
climate change. Meanwhile, the Danes, as host of the event, are tirelessly engaging world leaders to
garner support for their draft political agreement – which was created when it became clear that the
process had run out of time to reach agreement on a legally binding treaty. Supporters of this
approach hope the political agreement will subsequently be transformed into a legally binding
climate treaty sometime next year.
(TS//SI//REL) Analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide
policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries’ preparations and goals
for the conference, as well as deliberations within countries on climate change policies and
negotiating strategies. A late November report detailed China’s efforts to coordinate its position
with India and ensure that the two leaders of the developing world are working towards the same
outcome. Another report provided advance details of the Danish proposal and their efforts to launch
a “rescue plan” to save COP-15.

ITS//SI//REL) Given such large participation (with all 192 UN member states invited to attend),
leaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute
policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding frequent sidebar discussions with
their counterparts — details of which are of great interest to our policymakers.

While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will

undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible
thouout the 2-week event.



Posted on on January 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Green Prophet Headlines – Dubai exploded 400,000 fireworks in record-shattering NYE display [video]

Link to Green Prophet

mailed-by: – Dubai exploded 400,000 fireworks in record-shattering NYE display [video]

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 01:44 PM PST

guinness world records, world's largest fireworks display, the palm, world islands, artificial islands dubai, dubai fireworks, NYE Dubai, 2014 fireworks display Dubai

Dubai rang in 2014 with a record-shattering fireworks display. In an effort to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest fireworks extravaganza previously held by Kuwait, the emirate exploded a whopping 400,000 fireworks in less than 10 minutes.

Choreographed by America’s Phil Grucci, Dubai’s fireworks display was spread across 100 kilometers and lasted six full minutes.

The event took 10 months to plan and more than 200 pyrotechnicians arranged around The Palm and The World artificial islands ensured the display went off without a hitch.

Fireworks used were purchased in China, Spain and the United States, according to The National, and were hauled to the launching site by a long series of trucks.

We’re being given the challenge of breaking the world record,” said Grucci, who has worked in Dubai in the past, “so the scale of this is nothing that anybody has had the opportunity to oversee.”

Kuwait’s previous record was shattered by Dubai’s over-the-top performance, where nearly 100,000 fireworks were set off every minute.

“[Kuwait's] firework display stretched over 5 km (3.11 miles) of seafront, started at 8 p.m. and lasted 64 minutes,” according to the Guinness World Record website. “Event organizers Parente Fireworks srl and Filmmaster MEA produced the event, which included the pyrotechnic display and a lights and sound show. Preceding this, an airshow was staged in the afternoon.”

Albeit impressive, the show somehow undoes all of the small steps that Dubai has taken over the last year to become a little less environmentally destructive.

While those that saw the show were extremely impressed and lauded Dubai’s efforts to draw tourists to the city, some commentators expressed regret over the extraordinary expense and extravagance.

“When I see this and remember that Gaza has been without electricity for 40 days,” said Oussama Bargougui on YouTube “I really feel ashamed to be Arabic.”

Screengrab from Dubai Media video


Above reminded me of the Arab UN official supervisor who at 60 years age bragged of just having had a baby.


Posted on on December 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



Exclusive: NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint users to hack



The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using “cookies” and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.

The agency’s internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.

Read more at:



News for surveillance

  1. CNET ?- by Steven Musil ?- 4 hours ago
    Same bits of code used by advertisers to track consumer behavior is used to help locate targets for government hacking and surveillance, the 
  2. Reform Government Surveillance

    The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of 


News for surveillance


  1. The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of 



Posted on on December 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


The poorest pay the price for austerity: Workers face biggest fall in living standards since Victorian era.

The number of public sector workers on low wages doubles to more than one million, with women and part-time staff disproportionately affected by squeeze on incomes.

The biggest drop in living standards since the Victorian age is seeing low and middle earners suffering an unprecedented squeeze on their incomes as austerity measures continue to bite, with women and part-time workers disproportionately affected, research reveals today.

More than five million  people are officially classified as low paid and an increasing number of public sector  workers are struggling to make ends meet, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF) think-tank.

It warned: “Workers on low and middle incomes are experiencing the biggest decline in their living standards since reliable records began in the mid-19th century.”

The NEF has calculated that the public sector now employs one million low-wage workers – double the previous estimate – with health and social care staff, classroom assistants and council employees trapped on small earnings.

Sales assistants and retail workers make up the largest group of low-paid workers in the private sector, with large numbers also working as waiters, bar staff and cashiers.

The study blames the continuing drop in disposable incomes on pay freezes and below-inflation rises, leading to wages steadily lagging behind prices.

Separate research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation concluded yesterday that for the first time the number of working families living in poverty exceeds those without anyone in work. The cost of living has moved up the political agenda in recent months with Labour claiming that the average person is £1,600 worse off than when the Coalition Government took power in May 2010.

Ministers counter that economic recovery is finally under way, with employment levels growing steadily, and that they have taken steps to lower the cost of petrol and energy and to raise the income tax threshold. However, one in four local authority employees is now on low pay, which is defined as less than 60 per cent of the average national income – equivalent to £7.47 an hour or £13,600 a year.

Helen Kersley, a senior economist at the think-tank, said: “Up to now it was assumed low pay was confined to the margins of the public sector. But take into account the 500,000 low-wage workers employed by outsourced service providers and you can see the problem runs a lot deeper than that.”

As squeezed local councils award contracts to the cheapest providers, these workers are often even worse off than their counterparts employed directly by the public sector. “A care worker earns only £6.44 to £7.38 per hour in the private sector compared to £9 to £11 in the public sector,” the report adds.

Karen Jennings, assistant general-secretary of Unison, which commissioned the report, said: “Wages are being benchmarked against those in the worst parts of the private sector… the public sector needs to start proving that society benefits from decent wages.”

Frances O’Grady, the TUC General Secretary, said: “The Chancellor has revelled in his attacks on the living standards of those who educate and care for our families.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Our welfare reforms are designed to further increase work incentives and improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the [new benefits system] universal credit making three million households better off.”



[December 2013] This looming scandal could ruin the 44th President and disrupt the entire country… Read More »

Op-Ed Columnistat The New York Times

The Punishment Cure


The Republican response to the unemployed is a mix of callousness and bad economics.



Mr. de Blasio’s Fiscal Challenge


Pain is on the way for the next mayor, despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal for a balanced budget.



Posted on on December 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The UPDATE comes in the form of a letter from an organization that helps people who seek asylum in the US and we thought to attach it here:
Hi,I wanted to shoot you an e-mail thanking you for compiling so much great information and links on your website  I did find couple of broken links though!  If you are still
updating your page, the company I work for has a  great link that is related to your site!  The site is:

Adding this resource will make your page even more helpful for  future visitors.Thank you for your time and consideration.Thank You,
Cooper Brimm

American Immigration Center.
As published March 14, 2012:
Mr. George Clooney, accompanied by John Prendergast of the Satellite Sentinel Project, Audu Adam Elnail, Anglican Bishop at Kadugli, Southern Kordofam, Sudan, and Omer Ismail an activist from Darfur, Sudan formed at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, a panel   chaired by Ann Curry of NBC News.
The four arrived directly from Sudan where they looked at the ways Sudan is scaring the Nuba of South Kordofam into leaving their villages and hiding in caves. They used to farm the arid land where they live, but now there is no agriculture and no food, and they just live in those Nuba mountain caves.
This happens like it did earlier in Darfur – the Arab Sudanese want to clear the land from the somewhat darker African Nuba people.
We were told this was not a problem of religion – both sides are mainly Muslim and there are some Christians present as well. The problem is rather one of heritage intermixed with a longer war of Non-Arab regions against the Central Government.  The rebels believe they are Sudanese but want some autonomy for their area.  The Government reacts by trying to undercut from the regions any hope, cause starvation in an effort to get them to leave. Left to themselves – this just becomes another Darfur. The four speak about South Kordofam;s Kadugli.

The troops come in daylight, ask the Arabs among the population to operate noisy radios in order to signal that they are Arab Somalis, while the quieter homes are being destroyed. John Prendergast has satellite photos to show the bombings and the prople heading for the caves.

The bishop says that the dark Nuba are the Biblical people of Kush. South Sudan does not support the Nuba, people from among the Nuba that fled to South Sudan come back to fight, but the villagers do not fight – they are just plain victims according to the four witnesses.

The Bishop does not find religion as a cause to the trouble – it is heritage – cultural and oil. South Sudan has decided to stop sending oil to the pipeline to refining in the North. The Chinese have invested $20 Billion in producing this oil and when they are forced to buy oil somewhere else this increases the cost of oil to everybody. This impacts the economy, including here in the US, and has political repercussions. Cloony thus says that what is needed is peace in Sudan and this can be achieved only after the present government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been removed. In the present mess, the Government of Sudan has bombed some Chinese oil wells which turned also China away from Sudan. Nevertheless, Arab governments and Africans still let Criminally indicted al-Bashir come for visits and business as if his deeds do not count. The four cry foul and want to make sure that the world knows – they put the fame of George Clooney and John Prendergast on this public relations line. They will testify in Congress and visit with President Obama. Will the people listen and understand that what is here that confronts them are not just the activities in Sudan, but the US economy and the price of gasoline at the pump. Is that what it takes to save poor people from Arab manipulations?


NAIROBI, Kenya — Ryan Boyette, an American aid worker living in one of the most active war zones in Africa — Sudan’s Nuba Mountains — was in a thatch-roof office on a clear January day when he heard two thunderous blasts.

The explosions were not preceded by the usual growl of aging Antonov aircraft. The Sudanese military has been relentlessly bombing the Nuba Mountains since June, killing hundreds of civilians, trying to quash a dug-in rebel movement. At the faintest sound of approaching aircraft, many Nuban people scramble up the steep, stony mountainsides to take cover in caves. But that day, silence preceded the two loud bangs that jolted Mr. Boyette, giving no time to run.

When Mr. Boyette, 30, dashed out to the blast site, he found his wife, Jazira, stunned, and many children crying.

“Rockets,” the locals told him. “That was the rockets.”

The Sudanese Army, according to aid workers such as Mr. Boyette and weapons experts in East Africa, has begun using long-range, Chinese-made rockets to bombard the Nuba Mountains, adding a new weapon to an increasingly unsparing counterinsurgency strategy.

The rockets, fired from more than 25 miles away, travel at 3,000 miles per hour and pack a 330-pound warhead often loaded with steel ball bearings to increase lethality, experts say. Where they land is random, witnesses say, and they often slam into villages instead of legitimate military targets.

“They arrive without any warning,” said Helen Hughes, an arms control researcher at Amnesty International. “And they are being used indiscriminately, which is violation of international humanitarian law.”

According to Mr. Boyette, more than 70 rockets have been fired into the Nuba Mountains since December, killing 18 people, including several children.

From photographs of bomb sites and remains of the rocket motors, Western experts have identified the rockets as Chinese-manufactured Weishi truck-launched rockets. China is one of Sudan’s closest strategic allies, buying billions of dollars of Sudanese oil and selling Sudan advanced weaponry.

The Sudanese government does not deny using rockets in the Nuba Mountains, insisting that they are a legitimate weapon.

“Rockets are part of combat,” said Al-Sawarmi Khalid, a Sudanese military spokesman. “And the armed groups also use the same rockets and weapons we use.”

Witnesses in the Nuba Mountains said the rebels used a much smaller, shorter-range rocket, and only during battles.

The government rockets are the latest twist in one of Africa’s more intractable conflicts. Tens of thousands of rebel fighters in the Nuba Mountains refuse to disarm, saying that they are fighting for more autonomy from a government that has marginalized and persecuted them. The Sudanese government’s response has been to lay siege to the area: bombarding it, cutting off the roads, blocking emergency supplies and most aid workers and outside observers.

Some analysts see similarities between the brutal tactics used in Nuba and those employed in Darfur, in Sudan’s west, during the height of the violence there several years ago.

The Nuba conflict is complicated by the separation of South Sudan from Sudan in July. The Nuban fighters were historically allied to the south but after South Sudan’s independence found themselves just north of the new border, in hostile territory.

Mr. Boyette, the aid worker, is one of the only Westerners providing battlefield updates. He came to the area several years ago to work for an American aid organization, married a local woman and refused to leave once the conflict began.

Sudan and South Sudan are divided over oil, having not yet come up with an agreement of how to share oil profits. While 75 percent of the oil is in the south, the pipeline to export it runs through the north. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that in the coming weeks Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, would make his first visit to South Sudan since the country gained independence to meet with South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir.

Isma’il Kushkush contributed reporting from Khartoum, Sudan.


Posted on on November 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Is the Pope Getting the Catholics Ready for an Economic Revolution? (Maybe He Read Marx)


Photo Credit: -  A specter is haunting the Vatican.


November 27, 2013
by Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

In 1992, the Catholic Church officially apologized for persecuting 17th-century astronomer Galileo, who dared to assert that the Earth revolved around the sun. In 2008, the Vatican even considered putting up a statue of him.

Could a certain 19th-century atheist philosopher be next?

It is true that in 2009, a Vatican newspaper article put a positive spin on one Karl Marx. The author, German historian Georg Sans, praised Marx for his criticism of the alienation and injustice faced by working people in a world where the privileged few own the capital. Sans suggested that Marx’s view was relevant today: “We have to ask ourselves, with Marx, whether the forms of alienation of which he spoke have their origin in the capitalist system….” Indeed.


Pope Benedict XVI certainly sang a different tune, denouncing Marxism as one of the great scourges of the modern age (of course we must always distinguish the “ism” from the man). But Francis is a pope of a different feather. His recent comments on capitalism suggest that he is a man who understands something about economics — specifically the link between unbridled capitalism and inequality.

In an 84-page document released Tuesday, Pope Francis launched a tirade against a brutally unjust economic system that Marx himself would have cheered:


“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills….As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”


Whoa! Where did that come from? To understand the answer, you need to know something about liberation theology, a movement that originated in Pope Francis’s home region of Latin America. Liberation theology, a Catholic phenomenon centered on actively fighting economic and social oppression, is the fascinating place where Karl Marx and the Catholic Church meet.


Though Marx was certainly an atheist, Catholics who support liberation theology understand that his attitude toward religion was nuanced. He saw it as a coin with two sides: a conservative force that could block positive changes as well as a reservoir of energy that could resist and challenge injustice. In the United States, religious movements such as the Social Gospel movement, seen today in the Reverend William Barber’s Moral Monday crusade against right-wing oppression of the poor in North Carolina, express the protest potential of Christianity.


Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian Catholic priest who grew up in abject poverty, used Marx’s ideas about ideology, class and capitalism to develop a perspective on how Christianity could be used to help the poor while they were on here on Earth rather than simply offer them solace in heaven. As Latin America saw the rise of military dictatorships in the 1960s and ‘70s, Gutiérrez called on Catholics to love their neighbor and to transform society for the better. Followers of the new liberation theology insisted on active engagement in social and economic change. They talked about alternative structures and creative, usually non-violent ways to free the poor from all forms of abuse.


The official Church hierarchy has had a tense relationship with liberation theology, but some Francis watchers detect that a new chapter in that history is opening. In early September, the new Pope had a private meeting with Gutiérrez. Reacting to the event, the Vatican newspaper published an essay arguing that with a Latin American pope guiding the Church, liberation theology could no longer “remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe.”

The Catholic world has now snapped to attention as the faithful pore over the Pope Francis’s recent communication, which calls upon politicians to guarantee “dignified work, education and healthcare” and blasts the “idolatry of money.” The flock is on notice:  Francis will be talking a great deal about economic inequality and defending the poor. Unfortunately, his opposition to women as priests indicates that he is not yet ready to embrace equal treatment for women, something that would greatly enhance progress on both of those issues, but Francis did take a step forward in saying that women should have more influence in the Church.


While the Vatican has become a cesspool for some of the most shady financiers and corrupt bankers on the planet (see: “ God’s Racket”), Pope Francis has made clear his abhorrence of greed, eschewing the Apostolic Palace for a modest guest house and recently suspending a bishop who blew $41 million on renovations and improvements to his residence, including a $20,000 bathtub.


Catholics, particularly in the United States and Europe, are not sure what to make of all this solidarity with the poor and anti-capitalist rhetoric. For a long time now, many have considered Marx and his critique of capitalism over and done with. But others have watched deregulation, globalization and redistribution toward the rich unleash a particularly nasty and aggressive form of capitalism that seems increasingly at odds with Christian values. Instead of becoming more fair and moderate, capitalism has become more brutal and extreme. Marx, who predicted that capitalism would engender massive inequalities, is looking rather prescient just about now.


Pope Francis may prove himself open to considering Marx’s ideas in order to think about a more human-centered economic system. The American press is already buzzing nervously with the idea: “It would make for some pretty amazing headlines if Pope Francis turned out to be a Marxist,” wrote Helen Horn of the Atlantic, before quickly concluding that, no, “happily for church leaders,” such a thing couldn’t be true.


Maybe not. What is true is that, like his fascinating predecessor, Pope Leo XIII (who presided from 1848-1903), Francis has specifically denounced the complete rule of the market over human beings — the cornerstone of the kind of neoclassical economic theory embraced by Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan and much of the American political establishment. He wrote:


“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”


That’s a pretty good start. We’ll take it. 

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project.




Op-Ed Columnist


The Pope and the Right




“NOW it’s your turn to be part of the loyal opposition,” a fellow Catholic journalist said to me earlier this year, as Pope Francis’s agenda was beginning to take shape.


Readers’ Comments — Read All Comments (130) »



The friend was a political liberal and lifelong Democrat, accustomed to being on the wrong side of his church’s teaching on issues like abortion, bioethics and same-sex marriage.

Now, he cheerfully suggested, right-leaning Catholics like me would get a taste of the same experience, from a pope who seemed intent on skirting the culture war and stressing the church’s mission to the poor instead.


After Francis’s latest headline-making exhortation, which roves across the entire life of the church but includes a sharp critique of consumer capitalism and financial laissez-faire, politically conservative Catholics have reached for several explanations for why my friend is wrong, and why they aren’t the new “cafeteria Catholics.”

First, they have pointed out that there’s nothing truly novel here, apart from a lazy media narrative that pits Good Pope Francis against his bad reactionary predecessors. (Many of the new pope’s comments track with what Benedict XVI said in his own economic encyclical, and with past papal criticisms of commercial capitalism’s discontents.)

Second, they have sought to depoliticize the pope’s comments, recasting them as a general brief against avarice and consumerism rather than a call for specific government interventions.

And finally, they have insisted on the difference between church teaching on faith and morals, and papal pronouncements on economic issues, noting that there’s nothing that obliges Catholics to believe the pontiff is infallible on questions of public policy.

All three responses have their merits, but they still seem insufficient to the Francis era’s challenge to Catholics on the limited-government, free-market right.

It’s true that there is far more continuity between Francis and Benedict than media accounts suggest. But the new pope clearly intends to foreground the church’s social teaching in new ways, and probably seeks roughly the press coverage he’s getting.

It’s also true that Francis’s framework is pastoral rather than political. But his plain language tilts leftward in ways that no serious reader can deny.

Finally, it’s true that there is no Catholic position on, say, the correct marginal tax rate, and that Catholics are not obliged to heed the pope when he suggests that global inequality is increasing when the statistical evidence suggests otherwise.

But the church’s social teaching is no less an official teaching for allowing room for disagreement on its policy implications. And for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them — on us — to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions.

That explanation rests, I think, on three ideas. First, that when it comes to lifting the poor out of poverty, global capitalism, faults and all, has a better track record by far than any other system or approach.

Second, that Catholic social teaching, properly understood, emphasizes both solidarity and subsidiarity — that is, a small-c conservative preference for local efforts over national ones, voluntarism over bureaucracy.

Third, that on recent evidence, the most expansive welfare states can crowd out what Christianity considers the most basic human goods — by lowering birthrates, discouraging private charity and restricting the church’s freedom to minister in subtle but increasingly consequential ways.

This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.

And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.

Here my journalist friend’s “loyal opposition” line oversimplified the options for Catholic political engagement. His Catholic liberalism didn’t go into eclipse because it failed to let the Vatican dictate every jot and tittle of its social agenda. Rather, it lost influence because it failed to articulate any kind of clear Catholic difference, within the bigger liberal tent, on issues like abortion, sex and marriage.

Now the challenge for conservative Catholics is to do somewhat better in our turn, and to spend the Francis era not in opposition but seeking integration — meaning an economic vision that remains conservative, but in the details reminds the world that our Catholic faith comes first.



Posted on on November 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Jrusalem (AFP) – France will never tolerate nuclear proliferation, President Francois Hollande vowed on Sunday as Israel expressed “grave concern” about a looming deal between world powers and Iran.

As the French leader arrived in Israel on his first state visit, the question of how to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions loomed large over his talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But as he sought to reassure Israel of France’s absolute determination to disarm Iran, he also made clear that the peace process was high on his agenda, saying Paris expected “gestures” from Israel over its construction of settlements in order to advance talks with the Palestinians.

The visit comes three days before the P5+1 group of world powers are to resume talks with Iran in Geneva to eke out a deal for scaling back Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

A previous round of talks ended on November 10 without agreement, with France taking a tougher stance than its Western partners in a move which won glowing praise in Israel.

With Iran – Hollande laid out four demands which he said must be in place for any deal to be successful.

“France is in favour of an interim agreement but on the basis of four points,” he said at a joint news conference with Netanyahu.

“The first demand: put all the Iranian nuclear installations under international supervision, right now. Second point: suspend enrichment to 20 percent. Thirdly: to reduce the existing stock.

“And finally, to halt construction of the Arak (heavy water) plant. These are the points which for us are essential to guarantee any agreement.”


The Times of Israel Current top stories
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking in the Knesset Monday, next to Francois Hollande, Yuli Edelstein and Shimon Peres. (photo credit: Knesset Spokesperson)




Hollande urges ‘total halt’ to settlement construction

French president meets Abbas in Ramallah, lays a wreath on Arafat’s grave, says Palestinians must reconsider demand for ‘right of return’

November 18, 2013, 2:46 pm 29


French President Francois Hollande lays a wreath at the grave of late Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat, at the Muqata compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday November 18, 2013 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

French President Francois Hollande lays a wreath at the grave of late Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat, at the Muqata compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday November 18, 2013 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)



French President Francois Hollande on Monday called on Israel to cease all settlement construction, praising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for halting the Housing Ministry’s recently announced plans for further apartments in the West Bank.

Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Hollande urged both sides to continue to make goodwill gestures to enable an atmosphere conducive to peace. He suggested that the Palestinians give up or at least soften their insistence on the “right of return” for millions of Palestinians, mostly descendants of refugees, to sovereign Israel.


“For a peace agreement to be reached, France demands the total and definite halt of settlement construction because it compromises a two-state solution,” the French president said. “I said that to the Israeli authorities in friendship. I say here to the Palestinians that they, too, need to make efforts to deal with difficult and complicated problems, notably the refugees.”

For peace to be achieved, “realistic propositions” will have to be made, the French president said, referring to the Palestinian demand for a so-called right of return for some five million Palestinian refugees and their descendants. “If not, then there won’t be an agreement.”


Abbas said that, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative, a “just and agreed-to” solution to the refugee problem would have to be found. “Let’s sit down around the [negotiating] table and let’s discuss a just solution and see if we can perhaps agree on it, and sign this peace agreement,” the PA chief said.


Since arriving in Israel on Sunday, most of Hollande’s comments to the press were about efforts to achieve a deal with Iran over its rogue nuclear program. He traveled to Ramallah on Monday for a meeting with Abbas in the Muqata’a, the third meeting between the two leaders since Hollande took office in May 2012. Hollande alsoid a wreath at the grave of the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Hollande said he was hopeful because Palestinians and Israelis had agreed to negotiate a final-status agreement. Both sides took painful steps to enable this round of talks to commence, “but more gestures are needed if one wants to arrive at an agreement,” he said.


“France is an exceptional position, because it is a friend of the Israelis and it is a friend of the Palestinians who want peace,” he said. “One has to make gestures, always gestures, because it’s going to be the last gesture that counts, that will enable peace.”


The French president mentioned that Netanyahu last week withdrew plans for new West Bank settlement construction, and said that he considered the prime minister’s move to be a gesture that allowed the Palestinian negotiators to continue with the talks.


French President Francois Hollande and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas walk by a Palestinian honor guard at a welcoming ceremony in Hollande's honour, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, November 18, 2013 (photo credit: Issam RImawi/Flash90)

French President Francois Hollande and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas walk by a Palestinian honor guard at a welcoming ceremony in Hollande’s honor, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, November 18, 2013 (photo credit: Issam RImawi/Flash90)


Last Tuesday, Israel’s Housing Ministry published tenders for the planning of some 20,000 settlement units — an unprecedented number. Netanyahu hastily ordered the project to be rolled back, saying it constituted “an unnecessary confrontation with the international community at a time when we are making an effort to persuade elements in the international community to reach a better deal with Iran.”


On Sunday, Abbas said peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians would run their full course, “regardless of what happens on the ground.”


“We are committed and we will go to the full nine months, and then we will take the appropriate decision, Abbas told the AFP news agency. “We have committed to continue the negotiations for nine months, regardless of what happens on the ground,” he added without elaborating.


Under heavy US pressure and following intense shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israel and the Palestinians resumed peace talks in July after a three-year hiatus, agreeing to a nine-month timeline set to expire in March 2014. For the duration of the talks, the Palestinians agreed to suspend their efforts for international recognition and to not pursue Israel in the international legal arena. Israel committed to freeing 104 Palestinian prisoners who committed their crimes before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. The second phase of that program of releases was completed late last month.


The negotiations have hit some hurdles so far, including an uptick in terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinians, with the latest incident occurring just last week when a 16-year-old Palestinian youth stabbed an 18-year-old IDF soldier to death while the latter was sleeping on a bus. Israel has also made continued announcements of planned construction in the settlements, prompting frequent threats by Palestinian negotiators to quit the talks.


A Palestinian Authority official on Monday told Israel Radio that talks with Israel could resume as early as this week.


Posted on on October 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Rick Hodes is an American doctor, born May 30, 1953, specializing in cancer, heart disease, and spinal conditions. and who still remembers that medicine practice is not about making money. Since the 1980s he has worked in Ethiopia and has adopted a number of children from the country.[1][2

Right here you have something that puts him at logger-head with those “God-fearing” Iowan women who hate Obamacare.
Dr. Hodes adopted five sick children so that he can help them by putting them on his American Health insurance.

Currently, he is the senior consultant at a Catholic mission working with sick destitutes suffering from heart disease (rheumatic and congenital), spine disease (TB and scoliosis), and cancer. He is medical director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He is a true humanitarian.

Hodes has been responsible for the health of Ethiopians immigrating to Israel and has worked with refugees in Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania, Somalia, and Albania.


Currently, he is the senior consultant at a Catholic mission working with sick destitutes suffering from heart disease (rheumatic and congenital), spine disease (TB and scoliosis), and cancer.

He is medical director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Hodes has been responsible for the health of Ethiopians immigrating to Israel and has worked with refugees in Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania, Somalia, and Albania.


What attracted our attention to Dr. Rick Hodes was the following New York City event event this last Friday:


Friday, October 4, 2013
The Brotherhood Synagogue,
28 Gramercy Park South, New York City
Special Guest Speaker at Services and Oneg Shabbat.
Dr. Rick Hodes Medical Director of the American Jewish
Joint Distribution Committee in Ethiopia.
Dr. Rick Hodes is Medical Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Ethiopia.
Initially arriving in the mid-1980s to help famine victims in Africa, he still lives in Addis Ababa with his family
– including five children he has adopted locally. Since 1990, Dr. Hodes has overseen medical care for
all immigrants from Ethiopia to Israel. He participated in Operation Solomon (1991), the historic airlift of over14,000 Ethiopians to Israel in 36 hours.
Dr. Hodes directs JDC’s non-sectarian medical programs and also sees patients at the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s Mission). His patients cannot afford medical care, so Dr. Hodes raises funds to care for them. He tends to their souls while quietly living his faith.
Dr. Hodes is the subject of the book This is a Soul, by Marilyn Berger, as well as the Sue Cohn Rockefeller documentary, Making the Crooked Straight.
To learn more please visit:
Please join us for this very special Friday night Shabbat sponsored by the Social Action Committee.


Hodes graduated from Middlebury College,  University of Rochester Medical School, and trained in internal medicine at  Johns Hopkins University.  He first went to Ethiopia as a relief worker during the 1984 famine. He returned there on a Fulbright Fellowship to teach internal medicine, and in 1990 was hired by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a humanitarian group, as the medical advisor for the country. His original position was to care for 25,000 potential immigrants to Israel. In 1991, he was an active contributor during Operation Solomon, helping the Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel.

In 2001 Hodes adopted two Ethiopian children, putting them on his insurance plan so they could receive treatment in the US for spinal tuberculosis (Pott’s disease).[2] Since then he has adopted a total of five children from the country.

In 2007, Hodes was selected as a finalist for “CNN Heroes,” a program that highlights ordinary people for their extraordinary achievements.[3] The American College of Physicians has awarded him “Mastership,” and the Rosenthal Award for creative practice of medicine

Hodes work in Ethiopia was the subject of a HBO documentary, “Making the Crooked Straight” and a Marilyn Berger book, “This Is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes”.[1][4][5]


Posted on on September 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



Fight Over Energy Finds a New Front in a Corner of Idaho.


Rich Addicks for The New York Times

U.S. Highway 12, which snakes along the Clearwater River in North Central Idaho, was the scene of a protest by the Nez Perce tribe in August. More Photos »

The Nez Perce tribe has lived in this corner of North Central Idaho for thousands of years. More Photos »



Published – The New York Times: September 25, 2013


LAPWAI, Idaho — In this remote corner of the Northwest, most people think of gas as something coming from a pump, not a well. But when it comes to energy, remote isn’t what it used to be.




The Nez Perce Indians were drawn into the national brawl over the future of energy last month when they tried to stop a load of oil-processing equipment from moving through their lands.


The New York Times
September 26, 2013
The New York Times

The Nez Perce tribe has lived in this corner of North Central Idaho for thousands of years.



The Nez Perce Indians, who have called these empty spaces and rushing rivers home for thousands of years, were drawn into the national brawl over the future of energy last month when they tried to stop a giant load of oil-processing equipment from coming through their lands.

The setting was U.S. Highway 12, a winding, mostly two-lane ribbon of blacktop that bisects the tribal homeland here in North Central Idaho.

That road, a hauling company said in getting a permit for transit last month from the state, is essential for transporting enormous loads of oil-processing equipment bound for the Canadian tar sands oil fields in Alberta.

When the hauler’s giant load arrived one night in early August, more than 200 feet long and escorted by the police under glaring lights, the tribe tried to halt the vehicle, with leaders and tribe members barricading the road, willingly facing arrest. Tribal lawyers argued that the river corridor, much of it beyond the reservation, was protected by federal law, and by old, rarely tested treaty rights.

And so the Nez Perce, who famously befriended Lewis and Clark in 1805, and were later chased across the West by the Army (“I will fight no more forever,” Chief Joseph said in surrender, in 1877), were once again drawn into questions with no neat answers: Where will energy come from, and who will be harmed or helped by the industry that supplies it?

Tribal leaders, in defending their actions, linked their protest of the shipments, known as megaload transports, to the fate of indigenous people everywhere, to climate change and — in terms that echo an Occupy Wall Street manifesto — to questions of economic power and powerlessness.

“The development of American corporate society has always been — and it’s true throughout the world — on the backs of those who are oppressed, repressed or depressed,” said Silas Whitman, the chairman of the tribal executive committee, in an interview.

Mr. Whitman called a special meeting of the committee as the transport convoy approached, and announced that he would obstruct it and face arrest. Every other board member present, he and other tribe members said, immediately followed his lead.

“We couldn’t turn the cheek anymore,” said Mr. Whitman, 72.

The dispute spilled into Federal District Court in Boise, where the Nez Perce, working alongside an environmental group, Idaho Rivers United, carried the day. Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill, in a decision this month, halted further transports until the tribe, working in consultation with the United States Forest Service, could study their potential effect on the environment and the tribe’s culture.

The pattern, energy and lands experts said, is clear even if the final outcome here is not: What happens in oil country no longer stays in oil country.

“For the longest time in North America, you had very defined, specific areas where you had oil and gas production,” said Bobby McEnaney, a senior lands analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. A band stretching up from the Gulf of Mexico into the Rocky Mountains was about all there was.

But now, Mr. McEnaney said, the infrastructure of transport and industrial-scale production, not to mention the development of hydraulic fracturing energy recovery techniques, and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, are affecting more and more places.

The Nez Perce’s stand, in a way, makes Mr. McEnaney’s point. The tribe’s fight, and the galvanizing decision by its leaders to step in front of the transport, drew in people who had not been involved before.

“Our history is conservative. You don’t go to court, you don’t fight,” said Julian Matthews, another tribe member. The fighting stance by tribal leadership, he said, was partly driven by pressure from members like him, already pledged to opposition.

Others described the board’s decision as a thunderbolt. After the special meeting where leaders agreed they would face arrest together, the news blazed through social media on and off the reservation.

“Everybody knew it in an hour,” said Angela Picard, who came during the four nights of protest when the load was still on tribal lands, and was one of 28 tribe members arrested.

Pat Rathmann, a soft-spoken Unitarian Universalist church member in Moscow, Idaho, heard the new tone coming from the reservation. A debate over conservation and local environmental impact, she said, had suddenly become a discussion about the future of the planet.

“The least I could do was drive 30 miles to stand at their side,” said Ms. Rathmann, whose church has declared climate change to be a moral issue, and recently sponsored a benefit concert in Moscow to raise money for the tribal defense fund.

The equipment manufacturer, a unit of General Electric, asked the judge last week to reconsider his injunction, partly because of environmental impacts of not delivering the loads. Millions of gallons of fresh water risk being wasted if the large cargo — water purification equipment that is used in oil processing — cannot be installed before winter, the company said.

“Although this case involves business interests, underlying this litigation are also public interests surrounding the transportation of equipment produced in the U.S. for utilization in wastewater recycling that benefits the environment,” the company said.

The risks to the Nez Perce are also significant in the months ahead. Staking a legal case on treaty rights, though victorious so far in Judge Winmill’s court, means taking the chance, tribal leaders said, that a higher court, perhaps in appeal of the judge’s decision, will find those rights even more limited than before.

But for tribe members like Paulette Smith, the summer nights of protest are already being transformed by the power of tribe members feeling united around a cause.

“It was magic,” said Ms. Smith, 44, who was among those arrested. Her 3-year-old grandson was there with her — too young to remember, she said, but the many videos made that night to document the event will one day help him understand.


Posted on on July 17th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Mr. Martin Nesirky, the Spokesperson for The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, speaking to the UN accredited PRESS, Monday July 15th, ended his daily briefing by saying:

“This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General spoke to a large group of representatives from non-governmental organizations and the private sector on international migration and development. He emphasized the need to establish sustained and strong partnerships between different actors to harness the benefits of migration and improve the situation of migrants. He also commended the role played by civil society in building such partnerships.

He said that the General Assembly was meeting on international migration and development in October, and that this was an opportunity for member States to lay the foundation for improved local, regional and international migration policies.” That’s what I have. Questions, please? Yes, Pam?

There was not a single question on this topic!

This statement relates to full three days of activities right here at the UN Headquarters in New York and across the street in the Church Center – which followed a full year of preparations outside the UN in a process that was started in 2006 when there was a UN General Assembly mandated first “High-Level” Dialogue on this topic and was succeeded by yearly meetings and further regional meetings.

Now we are at the preparation stage for the October 3-4, 2013 Second United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development with next planned meeting already for 2014 in Sweden, the home turf of Ambassador Ian Eliasson, the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. And all of this in the name of figuring out the UN activities in the post-2015 era – as mandated at the 2012 RIO+20 Conference.

At Rio the recommendations included the removal of the non-producing Commission on Sustainable Development and its replacement with a High-Level Panel that will look into the creation of a system of Sustainable Development Goals that will follow in 2015 after the expiring Millennium Development Goals – and this allows for an unusual opportunity to try for making the avoidance of the need of Migration into a Sustainable Development Goal. But the UN seems to oppose this by all the means it has – and I will explain.

You see – when I walk the streets of New York these days I bump into people. This is because the daily temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit and people do not walk in a straight line. You must try to anticipate which way they will deviate – and I am as guilty as anyone else – this because global warming and Climate Change are already here with us. Relating to our topic here – MIGRATION occurs now not just because people are attracted by magnets of freedom from dictatorships, from religious or sexual oppression, or because of a chance to better education, but now – more and more – there is the push of hunger – climate change has made it impossible to support populations in their country of origin and this migration has become the highest security issue in our days. If heat and Climate Change is impacting New York, just think what this has done in Mali or Darfur!

The UN is not blind to this. The UN Secretary-General was supposed to be the opening speaker at the Monday, July 15, 2013 event at the meeting at the UN General Assembly with Mr. Vuk Jeremik, President of the General Assembly as Chairman of the session. But Mr. Ban Ki-moon chose to be on a July fact finding tour of Europe that took him to see the effects of glaciers melting in Iceland, and a visit in Paris on Bastille Day with the French troops fighting in Mali.

Both above visits, as well as the meetings in-between, would have made a great story had the UN Secretary-General returned to New York and told on Monday July 15th his impressions to the meeting here. But this seemingly did not cross his mind, and surely this is no reflection on the way Mr. Elliason presented the case. It must be said that seven years ago – at the first dialogue – Mr. Eliasson presided because it was his position of President of the UN General Assembly, so he is well versed with the issues – the roles of Civil Society, Labor Unions and Employers’ organizations, diaspora organizations, and academics. He stressed that the challenge is to reach to the help of the media – “Knowing the facts is the source of wisdom” he quoted.

Mr. Eliasson said he wants to see as a post 2015 program a five year action program in five areas of priority:
- the cooperation between States,
- a comprehensive data system of migration facts,
- the integration of the migrants into our societies and economies,
- plan migration with labor markets and development consideration,
- a framework for managing migration from crisis and violence regions.

What he did not mention is the right of people to avoid migration that was pushed upon them because of changes in the local environment.

Mr. Jeremik reminded us of the Rio vision for the post-2015 as an aspiration to strive for equitable approaches to overcome poverty and inequality.

At the meeting on Monday participated over 200 Civil Society organizations and 80 UN member States.
The main organization was in the hands of Switzerland and Swiss based NGOs like Caritas, The International Catholic Migration Commission, The Global Economic Forum, with with Ms. Susan Martin of Georgetown University, Institute for the Study of International Migration that awards you a Certificate on the subject, and Mr. Dennis Sinyolo, Education and Employment Coordinator at Education International, as moderators.

I sat through the full three days and saw that very good people from all over the globe were present – but by no means was this an objective success.

Starting with the strong Swiss presence I must say that as Migration means Emigration from one place and Immigration to another – this except Migration within the same country, Switzerland is a country of poor record as it does not allow citizenship except when the candidate is weighed in gold – and I am not abstract on this – Just think of the Agha Khan and his Swiss based Foundation. So, when A good looking lady presented herself as a migrant from El Salvador to Switzerland, with dual nationality and diamonds sparkling from her earrings, spoke about the Global Economic Forum backing the economic advantages that come from migration – I had to wonder about what I was hearing. Then let us not forget that simple mortals could not stay in Switzerland when their life was in peril. In general – I was more impressed by the people in the room then by some of the presenters, as in UN fashion – the good turns easily into the trite, and good ideas can produce easily flying meetings that are not free to the introduction of ideas born outside the initiating circle. Trying to introduce the notion that the UN is changing and that MDGs are ending with new SDGs taking their place, and the fact that the UN just opened this month the office for Sustainable Energy – the SE4All concept, and that right now there is an opportunity to talk of migration in context of Climate Change – all that was beyond the interest of the organizers and the moderators – but very much of interest of many of the participants.

Civil Society is surely a mixed bag, and the stress on remittances from the Migrants back to their families in the homeland become very important part of the economies of some oppressive governments – so, indiscriminately stressing the economic value may not be any better idea then using military from countries in trouble in order to beef up the troops of UN Peace-Keeping forces in other countries in trouble, when the pay for this service is income for the government that sends these troops. This comment may have nothing to do with the subject at hand but is important to the understanding of the depth of the problem when you work in he UN context.

Without delving further in depth of what was said, this because the meetings were just an interactive exercise that will generate its own papers, the real news this Monday were not the Civil Society NGOs that were allowed to participate – but rather those organizations that were excluded in total lack of transparency and thus gave a blue eye to the UN institution as a whole.

The subject came up when the United States pointed out that three NGOs were eliminated from participation this last week by being BLACKBALLED by some secret member State. These were three organizations – one registered in the UK and two in Israel and the UN does not release the names of the countries that objected to their participation. TO ME THIS WAS THE REAL NEWS OF THE MEETING – COVERING ON ALL THE GOOD THINGS THAT WERE SAID AT THE MEETING.

After the US, spoke also Israel and the EU, and eventually this became an important part in the summary of the meeting, when at the end it was presented by the Chef de Cabinet to the UNGA President, Mr. Dejan Sahovic, who is also from Serbia like the UNGA President.

Mr. Sahovic explained that this had nothing to do with the organizers of the event but is a UN given. Whenever there is an event at the UN, after Civil Society makes up the list of registered NGOs, these lists are distributed to all governments which have then the veto right against any line on that list.

OK, we knew that China will take out any NGO that is based in Taiwan, but how is it that an observer organization at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that is competent in the subject matter and is very active, could be eliminated? To make it sound even worse – the UN does not release the name of the blackballing country and the delegate for the EU said clearly that the EU is worried about the lately decreasing importance of Civil Society at the UN.

I followed up trying to find who are these three blackballed organizations, but will not allow myself to express a guess to who was the blackballing State as this guesswork is easy – but we refuse to do it. Nevertheless, we must say that wonders do happen at the UN sometimes.

In this case it was with two NGOs with interest in Human Rights of Women – specifically women in Arab lands – even more specific – in Saudi Arabia – they DID SPEAK UP.
Lala Arabian from a Beirut based NGO INSAN, part of the Arab Network for Migrants, which I was told speaks a fluent English, decided to speak out in Arabic against the treatment of Arab women – specifically in Saudi Arabia. Further – A woman in an impeccable English, coming from a United Arab Emirates NGO, but probably living overseas, made a similar statement from the floor. I did not note her name but she came from…

The Three NGOs that were absent are:

1. The Institute for Human Rights and Business Limited (IHRB) is the British organization.
They partner with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) on issues like the establishment of the new Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business headed by Vicky Bowman.
They specifically look at how to persuade business to respect Human Rights with Migration one of the specific topics. June 17-18, 2013 they just had a meeting in Tunis on the subject of Free Internet. Is this what some despot did them in for?

2. Microfy – “Microfinance for African refugees and migrant workers in Israel” – an Israeli based NGO that provides assistance to African refugees and asylum seekers, many of them who fled the genocide in Darfur. Clearly a highly ethical organization that might have difficulty being listened to by despots.

3.”The Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI)” advises governments and NGOs around the world on migration and integration.
CIMI has Observer Status wit the International Organization foe Migration (IOM) since 2003 and participates actively in all its meetings.
CIMI also partners with many other national and International organizations including the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
This information was confirmed by Ms. Michele Klein Solomon, the Permanent Observer for IOM at the United Nations. CIMI is also based in Israel.


Posted on on July 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Countries Agree on Novel Formula for High-level Forum to Boost Follow-up of Rio+20 Outcomes on Sustainable Development

New York, 9 July— United Nations Member States agreed today to establish a new High-Level Political Forum to boost efforts to achieve global sustainable development that will improve people’s economic and social well-being while protecting the environment. The decision by the General Assembly follows up on a key recommendation of ‘The Future We Want,’ the outcome document of last year’s Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro.

The Forum will convene annually at the ministerial level under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council and, every four years, it will bring together Heads of State to provide added momentum for sustainable development.

“Establishing the Forum marks a major step forward in implementing ‘The Future We Want,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The Forum can provide the political leadership and action-oriented recommendations we need to follow up on all the Rio recommendations and meet urgent global economic, social and environmental challenges. Countries must do their utmost to realize the Forum’s potential.”

“We are simply not doing enough to meet the fundamental challenges of our time: to end extreme poverty in this generation and significantly narrow the global gap between rich and poor, without inflicting irreparable damage to the environmental basis for our survival,” said UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremi?. “The new Forum must be more than just a meeting place—it must be the place where countries and civil society generate the momentum for change.”

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said “This is a great opportunity to advance the sustainable development agenda. There is so much that we need to do in concert—to accelerate action on the Millennium Development Goals, to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity, to ensure that everyone has a chance for a better life, while addressing important environmental challenges that threaten progress, such as climate change and biodiversity loss and developing a new set of sustainable development goals.”

The High-Level Political Forum will replace the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The Commission, formed after the 1992 Earth Summit, helped generate action on a range of issues that led to international agreements or treaties. The Commission was also in the forefront in promoting the involvement of civil society in its work. However, governments and civil society actors came to share a belief that a higher-profile body was needed to guide sustainable development towards the future we want.

The Forum will review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments, enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental –focus on themes consistent with the post-2015 development agenda and ensure that new sustainable development challenges are properly addressed.

The General Assembly resolution stresses the need to enhance the role and participation of major groups of society and other stakeholders, while retaining the intergovernmental character of the forum. The first meeting of the Forum will be held in September, during the Assembly’s forthcoming 68th session.

For interviews and more information, contact Dan Shepard of the UN Department of Public Information,
1-212-963-9495,  shepard at

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Posted in Africa, Archives, Brazil, Copenhagen COP15, Costa Rica, Eco Friendly Tourism, Future Events, Futurism, IBSA, Islands & SIDS, Peoples without a UN Seat, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, UN Commission on Sustainable Development, Vienna


Posted on on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Uri Avnery


June 15, 2013




A shorter version of this article was published this week in the Jerusalem Post (June 10, 2013), on the 46th anniversary of the end of the Six-day War.






                                                Triumph and Tragedy                              




NO OPERA by Richard Wagner could have been more dramatic. It looked as if it was directed by a genius.




It started low-key. A little piece of paper was thrust into the hand of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol as he was reviewing the Independence Day parade. It said that Egyptian troops were entering the Sinai peninsula.




From there on alarm grew. Every day brought menacing new reports. The Egyptian president, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, issued blood-curdling threats. UN peacekeepers were withdrawn.




In Israel, worry turned into fear, and fear into fright. Eshkol sounded weak. When he tried to raise public morale with a speech over the radio, he stumbled and seemed to stutter. People started talking about a Second Holocaust, about the destruction of Israel.




I was one of the very few who remained cheerful. At the height of public despair, I published an article in Haolam Hazeh, the news magazine I edited, under the headline “Nasser has Walked into a Trap”.  Even my wife thought that was crazy.






MY GOOD cheer had a simple reason.




A few weeks before, I had given a talk in a Kibbutz on the Syrian border. As is customary, I was invited to have coffee afterwards with a select group of members. There I was told that “Dado” (General David Elazar), the commander of the Northern sector, had lectured there the week before, and then had coffee. Like me.  




After swearing me to secrecy, they disclosed that Dado had told them – after swearing them to secrecy – that every evening, before going to bed, he prayed to God that Nasser would move his troops into the Sinai desert. “There we shall destroy them,” Dado had assured them.




Nasser did not want the war. He knew that his army was quite unprepared. He was bluffing, in order to please the Arab masses. He was egged on by the Soviet Union, whose leaders believed that Israel was about to attack their main client in the region, Syria, as part of a worldwide American plot.




(The Soviet ambassador, Dmitri Chuvakhin, invited me for a talk and disclosed the plot to me. If so, I said, why not ask your ambassador in Damascus to advise the Syrians to stop their border attacks on us, at least temporarily? The ambassador broke into laughter. “Do you really believe that anyone there listens to our ambassador?”)




Syria had allowed Yasser Arafat’s new Palestinian Liberation Movement (Fatah) to launch small and ineffectual guerilla actions from its border. They also spoke about an Algerian-style “popular liberation war”. In response, the Israeli Chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, had threatened them with a war to change the regime in Damascus.




Abd-al-Nasser saw an easy opportunity to assert Egypt’s leadership of the Arab world by coming to the defense of Syria. He threatened to throw Israel into the sea. He announced that he had mined the Straits of Tiran, cutting Israel off from the Red Sea. (As it transpired later, he had not sown a single mine).




Three weeks passed, and the tension became unbearable. One day Menachem Begin saw me in the Knesset lobby, drew me into a side room and implored me: “Uri, we are political opponents, but in this emergency, we are all one. I know that your magazine has a lot of influence on the younger generation. Please use it to raise their morale!”




All the reserve units, the backbone of the army, were mobilized. There were hardly any men to be seen in the streets. Still Eshkol and his cabinet hesitated. They sent the chief of the Mossad to Washington to make sure that the US would support an Israeli action. Under growing public pressure, he formed a National Unity government and appointed Moshe Dayan as Minister of Defense.      






WHEN THE bow was strained to near breaking point, the Israeli army was unleashed. The troops – mostly reserve soldiers who had been abruptly torn from their families and who had been waiting with growing impatience for three weeks – flew like an arrow.




I was attending the Knesset session on that first day of the war. In the middle of it, we were told to go to the bomb shelter, because the Jordanians in nearby East Jerusalem had begun to shell us. While we were there, a friend of mine, a high-ranking official, whispered in my ear: “It’s all over. We have destroyed the entire Egyptian Air Force.”




When I reached home that evening after driving through the blackout, my wife did not believe me. The radio had said nothing about the incredible achievement. Radio Cairo was telling its listeners that “Tel Aviv is burning”. I felt like a bridegroom at a funeral. Israeli military censorship forbade any mention of victories – the airwaves continued to be dominated by terrible forebodings.




Why? The Israeli government was convinced – quite rightly – that if the Arab countries and the Soviet Union realized that their side was nearing disaster, they would get the UN to stop the war at once. This indeed happened – but by that time our army was well on its way to Cairo and Damascus.




Against this background, when the victory was announced, it looked immense – so immense, indeed, that many believed in an act of God. Our army, which had been formed in the small State of Israel as it was at that time, conquered the entire Sinai peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. From the “Second Holocaust” to miraculous deliverance, in just six days.






SO, WAS it a “defensive war” or an “act of naked aggression”? In the national consciousness, it was and remains a purely defensive war, started by “the Arabs”. Objectively speaking, it was our side which attacked, though under utmost provocation. Years later, when I said so in passing, a leading Israeli journalist was so upset that he stopped talking with me.




Be that as it may, the Israeli public reaction was stupendous. The entire country was in delirium. Masses of victory-albums, victory-songs, victory-this and victory-that amounted to national hysteria. Hubris knew no bounds. I cannot claim that I was entirely untouched by it.




Ariel Sharon boasted that the Israel army could reach Tripoli (in Libya) in six days. A movement for a Greater Israel came into being, with many of Israel’s most renowned personalities clamoring for membership. Soon the settlement enterprise was under way.




But, as in a Greek tragedy, hubris did not go unpunished. The gold turned to dust. The greatest victory in Israel’s history turned into its greatest curse. The occupied territories are like the shirt of Nessus, glued to our body to poison and torment us.




Just before the attack, Dayan had declared that Israel had absolutely no intention of conquering new territory, but aimed solely to defend itself. After the war, Foreign Minister Abba Eban declared that the pre-1967 armistice line was “the border of Auschwitz”.




Since generals “always fight the last war”, it was generally assumed that the world would not allow Israel to keep the territories it had just occupied. The “last war” was the Israeli-French-British collusion against Egypt in 1956. Then, US President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Bulganin had compelled Israel to return the conquered territories up to the last inch. 




The former border (or “demarcation line”) had an inward bulge near Latrun, halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, that cut the main road between the two cities. Immediately after the six days of fighting, Dayan hastened to evict the inhabitants of the three Arab villages there and to eradicate any sign that they ever existed. They have been replaced by a national park financed by the government of Canada and well-meaning Canadian citizens. The writer Amos Kenan was an eye-witness and, on my request, wrote a heart-rending report on the horrible eviction of the villagers, men, women, children and babies, who were made to march on foot under the scorching June sun all the way to Ramallah.




I tried to intervene, but it was too late. I did succeed, however, in halting he demolition of the town of Qalqilya near the border. When I appealed to several cabinet ministers, including Begin, the demolition was stopped. A neighborhood that had already been demolished was rebuilt and its inhabitants were allowed to return. But more than a hundred thousand refugees, who had been living in a huge refugee camp near Jericho since 1948, were induced to flee across the Jordan.




Slowly, the Israeli government got used to the astonishing fact that there was no real pressure on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. In a long private conversation I had with Eshkol on the morrow of the war, I realized that he and his colleagues has no intention whatsoever of giving back anything unless compelled to do so. My suggestion to help the Palestinians set up their state was met by Eshkol with gentle irony.  




Thus the historic opportunity was missed. It is said that when God wants to destroy somebody, he first makes them blind – as he smote the men of Sodom (Genesis 19:11). 




The vast majority of today’s Israelis, anyone less than 60 years old, cannot even imagine an Israel without the occupied territories.




On the 46th anniversary of that great drama, we can only wish that it had never happened, that it was all a bad dream.







Posted on on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (




Transforming the Global Economic Paradigm ASAP.



Rachel’s Network “Green Leaves
Spring Newsletter 2013
Advisor Spotlight 


We all  know well the challenges facing us. From reversing ecological and economic collapses to meeting the development needs of seven billion (and growing) residents of our planet, we’ve got our work cut out for us.


But what can one person—or one organization—do?


A lot.


Join me on an adventure to transform the global economic paradigm.


Nations, companies, and NGOs are all seeking a new global agenda. Many of these groups are now coalescing around the United Nations’ work to replace the Millennium Development Goals—the targets set back in 2004 for poverty reduction—that expire in 2015.


I’ve been asked by the King of the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan to help the world shift its development model away from the current approach of increasing the throughput of stuff and money through the economy (as measured by gross national product) to an agenda of increasing human well-being, measured as “gross national happiness.” I’m part of an International Expert Working Group, convened by the King to set forth the intellectual architecture for this new paradigm.


Where do you come in? The Expert Group has created the Alliance for Sustainability and Prosperity, or ASAP for short, to convene the expertise needed to bring genuine prosperity and well-being to everyone on the planet.


ASAP seeks your ideas. The world needs help and its leaders are asking for your answers.


How do we encourage governments, companies, and an economy obsessed with measuring and growing gross national product to shift to maximizing total well-being? For example, a divorcing cancer patient who gets in a car wreck has added to the GNP. Is she any better off? Clearly not. If you stay home to care for your children you add nothing to the GNP, but have contributed significantly of your family’s welfare, and to a healthier society.


Humankind has all of the technologies needed to solve the crises facing us.


Why aren’t we using them? How do we overcome the gridlock of governments, and inspire the best of the private sector to take more of a leadership role?


Explore the ASAP site at The “Articles” section provides pieces written by ASAP members. See, in particular, “Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature,” with lead author Robert Costanza.


The “Public Forum” invites your best thinking. ASAP experts have been  working on this for over three decades.


But the state of the world today is a testament to the fact that we can’t do it alone. The radical utopian forecast is that we can sustain business as usual. It’s not going to be like that.


What sort of future do you want to see for the world? How do you think we can achieve it? What is already working that should be replicated more broadly? That has to be fixed? And what’s the purpose of the economy that we’re all a part of? Do we exist to serve it, or can we transform it, instead, to serve us?


If you have a good idea, but no clue how to achieve it, submit it—maybe another of you has the answer you’re seeking.
ALL of us are smarter than any of us.


We believe that it is possible to transform the global economy into one that delivers greater human well-being and happiness, while nestling gracefully into the larger ecosystem that sustains all life. Indeed, doing this is key to ending the global economic crisis. We can’t achieve one without doing the other.


Posted on on June 13th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


CNN just told us us that “The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday (today) that human genes cannot be patented. But in something of a compromise decision, all nine justices said a synthetic version of the gene material may be patented. Initial reaction from investors sent the stock of ‘Myriad Genetics,’ the company involved, higher.”

To us this sounds like capitalism going rampant with clever future CEOs playing GOD. Recombined genetic material with some changes in it – is still the blood of the INKA – and what Wall Street man is entitled to say that he created something new?

Human brain is commended for helping solve diseases,  and can demand pay for its offers – but it cannot patent life – that is beyond anything that ethics allow and this is not an issue of religion. We are appalled if the High Judges did not see the difference. We hope that an Alan  Dershowitz will stand up and derail this over-reach.


Posted on on June 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


­Uri Avnery

June 8, 2013


                                    Butterflies in Damascus.


DURING THE Spanish civil war of 1936, a news story reported the deaths of 82 Moroccans, 53 Italians, 48 Russians, 34 Germans, 17 Englishmen, 13 Americans and 8 Frenchmen. Also 1 Spaniard.


Serves him right,” people in Madrid commented, “Why did he interfere?”


Similar things could now be said about the civil war in Syria. Shiites from all over the Muslim world stream into Syria to help Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship to survive, while Sunnis from many countries hasten there to support the rebels.


The implications of this go well beyond the bloody Syrian struggle. It is a historic revolution, region-wide and perhaps world-wide.



AFTER WORD WAR I, the victorious colonial empires carved up the territories of the vanquished Ottoman Empire among themselves. Since colonialism was out and self-determination was in, their new colonies were dressed up as independent nations (like Iraq) or as nations-to-be (like Syria).


European-style nationalism took hold of the new Arab nations. The ancient idea of the pan-Muslim “Umma” was pushed away. The idea of a pan-Arab super-state, propagated by the Baath party and Egypt’s Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, was tried and failed. Syrian nationalism, Iraqi nationalism, Egyptian nationalism and, of course, Palestinian nationalism won.


It was a doubtful victory. A typical Syrian nationalist in Damascus was also a part of the Arab region, of the Muslim world and of the Sunni community – and the order of these diverse loyalties was never quite sorted out.


This was different in Europe, where the national loyalty was unchallenged. A modern German could also be a Bavarian and a Catholic, but he was first and foremost a German. 


During the last decades, the victory of local nationalism in the Arab world seemed assured. After the short-lived United Arab Republic broke up in 1961 and Syrians proudly displayed their new Syrian passports, the future of the Arab nation-states looked rosy.


Not any more.


TO UNDERSTAND the immense significance of the present upheaval one has to go back in history.


Two thousand years ago, the modern idea of “nation” was unthinkable. The prevalent collective structure was the ethnic-religious community. One belonged to a community that was not territorially defined. A Jewish man in Alexandria could marry a Jewess in Babylon, but not the Hellenic or Christian woman next door.


Under Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman emperors, all these dozens of sects enjoyed a wide autonomy, ruled by imams, priests and rabbis. This is still partly the case in most former Ottoman territories, including Israel. The Turks called these self-governing sects “millets”.


The German historian Oswald Spengler, in his monumental “The Decline of the West”, asserted that great cultures were like human beings – they are born, grow up and die of old age within a thousand years. Middle-Eastern culture, according to him, was born around 500 BC and died with the decay of the Muslim Caliphate. Judaism, which was born in the Babylonian exile around 500 BC, was just one sect among many.


Arnold Toynbee, the British historian who espoused a similar theory, claimed that today’s Jews were a “fossil” of this obsolete culture.


What happened later was that European societies went through many stages, the latest being that of the “nation”. In Europe, the Jews were a sinister and hated anomaly because they clung to their former existence as a homeland-less, dispersed ethno-religious sect. This was done quite consciously: the rabbis erected a “fence around the Torah”, separating Jews from everybody else, making it impossible for them to eat with non-Jews or marry them. Jews orginally congregated in ghettos because of their need for a Synagogue they could walk to on the Sabbath, public bath (Mikvah) etc.


When the situation of the nation-less Jews in nationalist Europe became increasingly difficult, Zionism was born. By a sleight-of-hand it postulated that Jews were not only an ethno-religious community, but at the same time also a “nation like other nations”. This was a necessary fiction, until Zionism succeeded in creating a real nation – the Israelis.

With the founding of the Israeli state, the Zionist doctrine lost its purpose and should have been dismantled, like the scaffolding of a finished building. Everybody expected this to happen in due course – Hebrew Israelis would be a “normal” nation, and their connection with the Jewish world would become secondary.


TODAY WE are witnessing a kind of Jewish counter-revolution. In Israel there is a comeback of the world-Jewish connection, while separate Israeli nationhood is denied. It is a reversal of Zionism.


The events in Syria indicate a similar process. Throughout the region the ethno-religious community is coming back, the European-style nation-state is disintegrating.


The colonial powers created “artificial” states with no consideration to ethno-religious realities. In Iraq, Arab Sunnis and Shiites and non-Arab Kurds were arbitrarily put together. In Syria, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawis (an offshoot of the Shia), Druze (another offshoot), Kurds and diverse Christian sects were put into one “national” pot and left to stew. In Lebanon the same was done, with even worse results. In Morocco and Algeria, Arabs and Berbers are put together.


Now the ethno-religious sects are uniting – against each other. The Syrian civil war has united the Shiites – from Lebanon to Iran – in defense of the Alawite semi-Shia regime. The Sunnis from all over the place rally to the cause of the majority Sunnis. The Syrian Kurds have already created a de facto joint state with the Kurds in Iraq. The Druze, more dispersed and customarily more cautious, are awaiting their turn.


IN THE Western world, the obsolescent nation-state is being superseded by supra-national regional confederations, like the EU. In our region, we may be reverting to the ethno-religious sects.


It is difficult to foresee how this will work out. The Ottoman millet system could function because there was the overall imperial rule of the Sultan. But how could Shiite Iran combine with the majority Shiites in Iraq, the Shiite community in south Lebanon and other Shiite communities in a joint entity? What about the dozen Christian sects dispersed across many countries?

Some people believe that the only viable solution for Syria proper is the disintegration of the country into several sect-dominated states – a central Sunni state, an Alawite state, a Kurd state, a Druze state, etc.

Lebanon was also a part of Syria, until the French tore them apart in order to set up a Christian state. The French created several such little states, in order to break the back of Syrian nationalism. It did not work.

The difficulty of such a “solution” is illustrated by the situation of the Druze, who live in two unconnected territories – in South Lebanon and in the “Druze mountain” area in Southern Syria. A smaller Druze community lives in Israel. (As a defensive strategy, the Druze in every country – including Israel – are patriots of that country.)


The disintegration of the existing states may be accompanied by wholesale massacres and ethnic cleansing, as happened when India broke apart and when Palestine was partitioned. It is not a happy prospect.

Toynbee, by the way, did not only consider the Jews as a fossil of the past, but also as the harbinger of the future. In an interview he granted my magazine, Haolam Hazeh, he expressed the hope that the nation-state would be superseded by world-wide ideological communities, like the Jewish diaspora. He may have been thinking of the communists, who at the time seemed to be turning into a world-wide supra-national community. That experiment failed, too.


AT PRESENT, a war is raging among Israeli historians. Prof. Shlomo Sand is maintaining that the Jewish nation was invented (like all nations, only more so), and that the concept of Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) is a Zionist invention as well. Now he also asserts that he is not a Jew, but an Israeli. 

Against these heresies, a whole phalanx of Zionist professors is in full cry.

Since I never even finished elementary school, I wouldn’t dare to stick my head out and get caught up in the battle of the professors. I will, however, remark that I, too, object to sliding back into a world-wide Jewish sect and advocate the recognition of the new Israeli nation in Israel.

YES, WE are an Israeli nation, a nation whose existence is bound to the fate of the State of Israel.

This does not mean that those of us who are Jews have to disown our Jewish past, its traditions and values, and our connections with the world-wide ethno-religious Jewish community. But we have reached a new stage in our development.

So, perhaps, have the Arab and other Muslim peoples around us. New forms are in the making.

History shows that human societies are changing all the time, much as a butterfly develops from an egg into a caterpillar, from there to a chrysalis and from there to the beautifully colored adult.

For the butterfly, that is the end. For us, I hope, this is a new beginning.


Assad Could Prevail in Syrian Civil War, Israeli Minister Says, Reflecting Shift in Israel’s Government Assessment.

June 10, 2013



   “Jewish News - There is a “real possibility” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “could survive Syria’s civil war and even prevail in it” against the rebels trying to topple him, Israeli International Relations and Strategic Affairs Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz told a group of foreign journalists in Jerusalem June 10, 2013.

Steinitz’s comments reflect the recent turnaround in Assad’s fortunes, with success on the battlefield thanks to immense military aid from Hezbollah, financial aid by Iran, and diplomatic cover by Russia.

The assessment also underscores the changing nature of the Syrian conflict and Israel’s views on it.

Israeli security officials were initially convinced that Assad’s demise was only a matter of time.

Last July, then-Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Assad regime was “at the beginning of its end.”


The borders of the Safavid empire.
Photo: Wikimedia commons.

This past January, an article in the influential Lebanese daily As-Safir accused Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of receiving assistance from his “Safavid allies.” After the powerful Sunni Muslim leader, Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi, condemned Iran for its actions in Syria, the Muslim Scholars Association of Lebanon warned that the Sunni Arabs were facing “the spreading Safawi project.”

Indeed, over the last decade, the term “Safavid” has become a commonly used derogatory word among Arab leaders for the Iranians. American journalist Bob Woodward describes a harsh diplomatic exchange in one of his books between King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and a high-level U.S. official about the 2003 Iraq War, in which the Saudi leader states: “You have allowed the Persians, the Safavids, to take over Iraq.” By using the term Safavid, Arab leaders were making reference to the Safavid Empire and imputing hegemonic motivations to the current Iranian government, suggesting that Iran is seeking to re-establish their country’s former imperial borders.

Who were the Safavids and over what territories did they rule? The Safavid Empire was based in Iran and existed between 1501 and 1722. Its founder, Shah Ismail, made Shiite Islam the state religion of Iran and he waged wars against the leading Sunni state at the time, the Ottoman Empire. At its height, the Safavid Empire extended its rule well beyond Iran’s present borders into large parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkemanistan, in the east and covering half of Iraq, including Baghdad and the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala, along with the easternmost part of Syria in the west.

The early Safavid leaders imported Shiite leaders from southern Lebanon to help with the propagation of Shiite Islam across Persia. Thus the ties between Iran and Lebanon can be traced back at least to the 16th century. In the south, the Safavid Empire reached the Arabian coastline of the Persian Gulf, while in the north it included what is today Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Iranian leadership today has not formally claimed the borders of the Safavid Empire, but it certainly made statements suggesting they reflected part of their national aspirations.





Posted on on May 20th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



Day 1-
28 May 2013
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
08.45 – 09.00
Welcome Address
H.E. Mr. Michael Spindelegger, Vice Chancellor and
Foreign Minister of Austria
Mr. Pavel Kabat, Director,
Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, Director General, UNIDO
09.00 – 09.15
Two pieces of music
by a
Quartet of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
IIASA Goodwill Ambassador
09.15 – 09.45
Opening Speeches
Mr. Chad Holliday, Chairman, Bank of America
Ms. Renate Brauner, Vice-Mayor and Vice-Governor of
the City of Vienna
Message from the United Nations Secretary
General, Mr. Ban Ki
Press Conference (in parallel)
09.45 – 11.15
Ministerial and High-Level Dignitaries Segment
Ms. Nisha Pillai
H.E. Mr. Suhail Mohamed Almazroui, Minister of Ener
gy of the United Arab Emirates
H.E. Mr. Heikki Holmås, Minister of International D
evelopment of Norway
H.E. Mr. Edison Lobão, Minister of Mines and Energy
of Brazil
H.E. Mr. Lihua Liu, Vice Minister of Industry and I
nformation Technology of China
H.E. Mr. Anatoly Yanovskiy, Deputy Minister, Minist
ry of Energy of the Russian Federation
Mr. Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji
to the United Nations New York and
Chairman of the G77
11.15 – 12.45
High Level Panel I:
Energy in the Post-2015 Agenda
Moderator Ms. Nisha Pillai,
Mr. Sven
, Under
General and Executive Secretary of the United Natio
Economic Commission for Europe, UNECE
Mr. Adnan Amin, Director General, IRENA
Mr. Jose Goldemberg
, Board Member, Sustainable Energy Institute
Ms. Maria van der Hoeven, Director General, Interna
tional Energy Agency
Ms. Rachel Kyte, Vice President, Sustainable Develo
pment, The World Bank
Mr. Gerhard Roiss, CEO, OMV
Ms. Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Coordinator for t
he UNCSD Rio + 20 Conference
Mr. Halil Yurdakul Yigitgüden,
Coordinator, Co
ordinator of Economic and Environmental
Activities, OSCE
12.45 – 14.30
Lunch hosted by OFID and IIASA (by invitation only
at Dachfoyer)

Day 1-
28 May 2013
14.30 – 16.00
High Level Panel II:
A New Action Agenda – High Level Group on Sustainab
le Energy for All
Moderator Ms. Nisha Pillai,
Mr. Alexander Bychkov, Deputy Director General, IAE
Mr. Jérôme Ferrier, President, International Gas Un
Mr. Victorio Oxilia, Executive Secretary, OLADE
Mr. N.P. Singh, Adviser, Ministry of New and Renewa
ble Energy of India
Mr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resource
s Institute
Mr. Mohammed Taeb, Environmental Coordinator, OPEC
14.30 – 15.30
Special Event: Launch of the SE4ALL Global Tracking
Framework (parallel at Radetzky
Appartment II)
Moderator Mr. Kandeh K. Yumkella
, Director General, UNIDO
Ms. Rachel Kyte, Vice
President, Sustainable Development, World Bank
Ms. Maria van der Hoeven, Director General, Intern
ational Energy Agency
Ms. Vivien Foster, Sector Manager, Sustainable Ener
gy, World Bank
Mr. Simon Trace, Executive Director, Practical Acti
16.00 – 16.30
Coffee and Tea Break
16.30 – 18.00
Special Event: Thematic Consultations on Energy (pa
rallel at Rittersaal)
16.30 – 18.00
Plenary Session 1:
Framework for Action – High Impact Opportunities
Moderator Mr. Albrecht Reuter
, Member of the Board, Fichtner IT Consulting
Mr. Albert Binger, Energy Science Advisor, Caribbea
n Community Climate Change Centre
Mr. Christoph Frei, Secretary General, World Energy
Ms. Helen Mountford, Deputy Director, OECD
Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic,
Deputy Director, IIASA and Professor of Energy Econ
Technical University of Vienna
Mr. Ebrima Njie, ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastruc
Ms. Leena Shrivastava, Executive Director, The Ener
gy and Resource Institute
Mr. Arthouros Zervos, Chair of REN21and CEO and Pre
sident Public Power Corporation
Reception hosted by
EnDev and Partnership

Day 2-
29 May 2013
Wednesday, 29 May, 2013
08.30 – 09.00
Summary of the Previous Day
Ged Davis,
Co-President, Global Energy Assessment
09.00 – 10.00
Ministerial and High Level Segment
H.E. Mr. Marcin Korolec, Minister of Environment, P
H.E. Mr. Sospeter Muhonga, Minister of Energy and M
inerals of Tanzania
H.E. Mr. Ahmed Mostafa Emam, Minister of Electricit
y and Energy, of Egypt
H.E. Mr. Sok Siphana, Advisor of the Royal Governme
nt of Cambodia
Ms. Datuk Loo Took Gee, Secretary General of the Mi
nistry of Energy, Green Technology
and Water of Malaysia
Mr. Raúl García Barreiro, Deputy First Viceminister
of the Ministry of Energy and Mining
of the Republic of Cuba
10.00 – 11.30
Plenary Session 2:
Energy and Green Growth
Moderator Mr. Paul Hohnen
, Founder and Managing Director, Sustainability Str
Ms. Jacqueline Cramer, Director, Utrecht Sustainabi
lity Institute
Ms. Naoki Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Enviro
nment Facility
Mr. Lambert Kuijpers, Co
Chair, Technology and Economic Assessment Panel of
the Ozone
Mr. Heinz Leuenberger, Director, Environmental Mana
gement Branch, UNIDO
Mr. Mark Radka, Head of Energy Branch, UNEP
Mr. Arthur Reijnhart, General Manager, Alternative
Energy Strategy, Shell
11.30 – 13.00
Plenary Session 3 –
Planning for
Sustainable Cities
Moderator Mr. Joan Clos
, Executive Director, UN HABITAT
Mr. Eddie Bet Hazavdi,
Director, Department of Energy
Conservation at Ministry of Energy
and Water of Israel
Ms. Brigitta Huckestein, Senior Manager, Communicat
ions & Government Relations
Energy and Climate Policy, BASF Group
Ms. Carina Lakovits, Advisor, International Financi
al Institutions, Austrian
Ministry of
Mr. Raj Liberhan, Director, Indian Habitat Centre
Mr. Thomas Madreiter, Director of the Urban Plannin
g, City of Vienna
Mr. Franz
B. Marré, Head of Division of Water, Energy, Urban
Development and the
Geoscience Sector, Federal German Ministry for Econ
omic Cooperation and Development
Mr. Marcos Pontes, UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador
13.00 – 14.30
Lunch hosted by GEF and UNIDO (by invitation only a
t Dachfoyer)

Day 2-
29 May 2013
14.30 – 16.00
Parallel Session 1 –
Energy Access
Moderator Mr.
Vijay Modi
, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Columbia Uni
Mr. Jan Dictus, GOJA Consulting for Environment and
Sustainable Development
Mr. Wolfgang Engshuber, Chairman, Principles for Re
sponsible Investment
Mr. Michael Kelly, Deputy Managing Director, World
LP Gas Association
Ms. Richenda Van Leeuwen, Director, Energy Access I
nitiative, United Nations Foundation
Mr. Pradeep Monga, Director, Energy and Climate Cha
nge, UNIDO
Mr. Lucius Mayer-Tasch, Energy Advisor, GIZ
Ms. Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy for the Great L
akes Region of Africa
14.30 – 16.00
Parallel Session 2
– Energy Efficiency
Mr. Luis Gomez-Echeverri
, Senior Research Scholar, Transition to New Techno
logies, IIASA
Mr. Mark Hopkins, Energy Efficiency Expert, United
Nations Foundation
Ms. Doris Österreicher,
Head of Business Unit Sustainable Building Technolo
gies, Austrian
Institute of Technology
Ms. Marina Ploutakhina, Industrial Energy Efficienc
y, Unit Chief, UNIDO
Mr. Jigar V. Shah, Executive Director, Institute fo
r Industrial Productivity
Mr. David Shropshire, Section Head, Planning and Ec
onomic Studies Section, IAEA
16.00 – 16.30
Coffee and Tea Break
16.30 – 18.00
Parallel Session 3 –
Renewable Energy as a Tool for Sustainable Developm
Moderator Ms. Christine Lins,
Executive Director, REN 21
Mr. Gábor Baranyai, Deputy State Secretary, Ministr
y of Foreign Affairs of Hungary
Mr. Martin Hiller, Director General, REEEP
Mr. Mahama Kappiah, Executive Director, ECREEE
Mr. Diego Masera, Unit Chief, Renewable and Rural E
nergy Unit, UNIDO
H.E. Ms. Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer, Managing Di
rector, Austrian Development Agency
Mr. Jorge Samek, Director General, ITAIPU Binaciona
Mr. Peter Traupmann, Managing Director, Austrian En
ergy Agency
16.30 – 18.00
Parallel Session 4–
Technology Transfer and Innovation
Moderator Mr. Omar El Arini,
Honorary Chief Officer, Multilateral Fund Secretari
Mr. Giovanni Federigo De Santi, Director of the Ins
titute for Energy and Transport of the Joint
Research Centre of the European Commission
Mr. Martin Krause, Regional Practice Leader for Env
ironment, UNDP
Mr. David Rodgers, Senior Energy Specialist, Global
Environment Facility
Mr. Sidi Menad Si-Ahmed, Director of Montreal Proto
col Branch, UNIDO
M.R. Mr. Pongsvas Svasti, Associate Professor, Tham
masat University
Mr. Sven Teske, Director of Renewable Energy, Green
peace International
Reception hosted by REEEP

Day 3-
30 May 2013
Thursday, 30 May 2013
08.30 – 09.00
Summary of the Previous Day
Ged Davis,
Co-President, Global Energy Assessment
09.00 – 10.00
Ministerial and High Level Dignitaries Segment
10.00 – 11.30
Plenary Session 4 :
Financing the Energy Future We Want
Moderator tbc
Mr. Robert Dixon, Team Leader of Climate Change and
Chemicals Team, GEF
Mr. Faris Hasan, Director of Corporate Planning and
Economic Services, OFID
Ms. Georgina Kessel, Partner, Spectron
Mr. Venkata Ramana Putti, Senior Energy Specialist,
Sustainable Energy Department, World Bank
Ms. Wang Yuan, Senior Advisor, China Development Ba
11.30 – 13.00
Plenary Session 5:
Public and Private Partnerships
Moderator Ms. Irene Giner-Reichl
, President, Global Forum on Sustainable Energy
Mr. Günter Maier, Managing Partner , MG Energy
Mr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman, IPCC and UNIDO Goo
dwill Ambassador
Mr. Janez Podobnik, Director General, International
Centre for Promotion of Enterprises
Mr. Alexei Shevlyakov, Acting Director General, Rus
sian Energy Agency
Mr. Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary
General, Policy Coordination and Inter
Affairs, United Nations Department of Economic and
Social Affairs
Mr. Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public and Govern
ment Affairs, Philips
13.00 – 13.30
Coffee and Tea Break
11.30 – 13.00
Parallel Session 5:
Green Mini-Grids Africa –
Sector Transformation Towards Sustainable
Energy For All
Moderator Mr. Steven Hunt
, Energy Advisor, Low Carbon Development Team, DFID
Mr. Ryan Anderson, Head of Section for Renewable En
ergy Advisory Services, Norplan
Mr. Theophillo Bwakea, Principal Engineer, Tanzania
n Rural Energy Agency
Mr. Dean Cooper, Energy Finance Programme Manager,
Mr. Bertrand Deprez, European Affairs Manager, Schn
eider Electric
Mr. Mike Enskat, Senior Programme Manager, GIZ
Mr. Patrick Theuret, Access to Energy Programme, ED
13.30 – 14.30
Adoption of VEF 2013 Declaration: Energy Goals Beyo
nd 2015
Moderator Ged Davis
, Co-President, Global Energy Assessment
Closing remarks by Co-organisers



Side Events

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: Business Partnerships – An effective instrument for development cooperation

How innovative cooperation supports the development of markets for renewable energy

Date – 28 May 2013

Time – 14:30 to 16:00

Location – Rittersaal

This side-event discusses innovative forms of cooperation between the private sector and established structures of development cooperation to develop new markets. Examples from the renewable energy sector show how both recipient countries and companies can utilize the opportunities of business partnerships. Traditional development cooperation faces many challenges, so alternative approaches are required. As business and development belong together, partnerships with the private sector are getting more and more important. Join the discussion on business partnerships and the development of renewable energy markets!

European Commission Joint Research Centre: Creating and sharing knowledge together on African Renewable Energy Sources

Date: 28 May 2013

Time: 16:00 – 17:30

Location: Mittlere Lounge

On the occasion of the Vienna Energy Forum 2013, JRC will release findings from the newest report “The availability of Renewable Energies in a changing Africa”. This report follows and extends the 2011 JRC report “Renewable energies in Africa” and focuses on the climatic, demographic and technological changes expecting to involve Africa in next decades and how they will impact the Renewable Energy production and deployment opportunities in the continent. This side event will explore to what extent climate change has affect the ability of the renewable energy sources to deliver their important resources to this goal and will look at the potential of the available options. Come and join the second report presentation, discuss issues with authors, and test the latest online tool developed to visualize off-grid electricity production options in Africa.


GFSE: Sustainable Energy Solutions for All: Made in Austria

Date – 29 May 2013

Time – 09:00 to 11:00

Location – Trabantenstube

Austrian know-how and technologies have a lot to offer to make inclusive sustainable energy solutions a reality. In this side event, the Austrian experience in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency will be presented. The event also seeks to facilitate the identification of cooperation opportunities for different actors in the context of SE4All. It will also highlight the value-added of multi-stakeholder networks in enabling joint action. We would be delighted if you could join the discussion.


IIASA: Multiple Benefits of the Global Energy Transformation Recent Research Findings

Date – 29 May 2013

Time – 09:30 to 13:00

Location – Künstlerzimmer

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is organizing the VEF side event “Multiple Benefits of the Global Energy Transformations: Recent Research Findings”. The main global problem areas of research at IIASA – energy and climate change, food and water, and poverty and equity – are among the greatest challenges facing humanity today. The side event will present recent research findings – focusing on energy and technology – and their relevance to the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The Global Energy Assessment (GEA), completed in 2012, was an important component of the energy-related activities at IIASA and some of the new research activities at IIASA are building upon the findings of GEA.


IAEA: Promoting a Sustainable Energy Future: the Role of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Date – 29 May 2013

Time – 10:00 to 12:00

Location – Mittlere Lounge

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supports its Member States in their efforts towards a sustainable energy future. In this side event, IAEA representatives will showcase the successful contribution of the Agency to build capacity, disseminate information, raise awareness and foster cooperation within and among Member States to help them make informed decisions regarding the most appropriate energy strategies. Topics discussed will include the sustainability of nuclear power as a clean energy solution, capacity building activities, the role of innovative technology solutions and the critical steps to introduce or expand a nuclear power programme.


EUEI PDF: Africa-EU Private Sector Cooperation: Matchmaking for win-win business opportunities in the renewables sector? 

Date – 29 May 2013

Time – 11:30 to 13:00

Location – Trabantenstube

The Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) is a multi-donor and multi-implementer programme that aims to accelerate the use of renewable energy in Africa. It was launched by more than 35 African and European Ministers at the First High-Level Meeting of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) in Vienna in September 2010. While the programme has already launched a number of support interventions in the area of policy advisory services, this side event aims at reflecting on the types of support interventions necessary to foster an active exchange and linking of African and European private sectors actors, as well as highlighting some of the positive examples where European and African actors have successfully worked together.


Launch of the SE4All Global Tracking Framework

Date – 28 May 2013

Time: 14:00 to 14:45

Location – Radetzkysaal II

Prepared by a team of energy experts from 15 agencies under the leadership of the World Bank and the International Energy Agency, the report provides a comprehensive snapshot of over 180 countries’ status with respect to action on energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as energy consumption. As the Millennium Development Goals process has clearly demonstrated, measurable goals that enjoy widespread consensus can mobilize commitments to action, strategic partnerships and widespread support from key stakeholders and whole societies.  For many, the Sustainable Energy for All initiative is an illustration of what a Sustainable Development Goal for the energy sector would look like. However, it is well known that measure progress is critical to achieving goals and getting results. The Global Tracking Framework Report is the answer to the challenge of measuring and reporting progress towards achieving the Sustainable Energy for All goals and objectives..  The report’s framework for data collection and analysis will enable us to monitor progress on the SE4ALL objectives from now to 2030.


The Energy Future We Want – Including Water & Food in the Energy Debate

Date – 29 May 2013

Time – 14:30 to 16:00

Location – Radetzky II

The side-event will provide a global platform to discuss recent international undertakings and progress on the water-energy-food nexus. The side-event will stimulate contributions and insights from institutions and individual experts on strategies to include water and food in the energy debate as nations around the world develop new energy policies and evaluate the options they want to follow in response to the SE4All initiative. Contribute to the nexus debate by sharing your experience and expertise with representatives from the private sector, researchers, policy makers and water/energy experts around the world on the intricate links between water, energy and food.


Regional Sustainable Energy Centers in Africa: Creating Regional Markets to Support the Decade of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL)

Date – 29 May 2013

Time – 14:30 to 18:00

Location – Trabantenstube

The Energy and Climate Change Branch of UNIDO, in close collaboration with the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE), are organizing the VEF side event “Regional Sustainable Energy Centers in Africa: Creating Regional Markets to Support the Decade of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL)”. The side event will facilitate discussions on the added value and possible actions of a south-south cooperation network between regional sustainable energy promotion centers in Africa. It will highlight the roles of the Centers as part of the institutional structure of the SE4ALL initiative. In a learning event, the ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOWREX), one of the flag-ship programs of ECREEE will be introduced to the audience. Finally, a new publication on Renewable Energy Status and Trends in West Africa will be presented.

UNIDO: Women’s Leadership on Energy Justice in Productive Sectors

Date – 29 May 2013

Time – 15:00 to 17:00; Networking Drinks from 17:00

Location – Künstlerzimmer

Increasing energy access for productive use will generate opportunities for women to earn a living for themselves and their families, but the debate thus far has been mainly focused on women’s domestic needs. At this side-event, we will look beyond the household door and discuss how to empower women to become active producers, managers, promoters, sellers and leaders of modern energy services for a truly sustainable solution to energy poverty.  We would be delighted if you could join us to share your experiences and expertise in this debate.

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