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Peoples without a UN Seat:

 

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

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

AMAZING – I just spent two days at the yearly meetings of the Austrian Economic Association that this year dealt with: ECONOMICS OF INEQUALITY and had as key-note speaker Sir Tony Atkinson f Oxford U., and now I find in my incoming e-mail an article from Bill Moyers talking to Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia U. who is President of the International Economic Association and cooperates with Sir Atkinson, something that nails the same topic down in excellent journalistic terms. Yes – clearly – we are doing everything wrong when it comes to build an economy – Why?

The Vienna meeting was held on the new campus of the Business University – WirtschafysUniversitaet Wien – in a building funded by the Austrian oil Company OEMV that is just in the news for the ill-advised South Stream Pipeline that is being planned to bypass The Ukraine when bringing to the EU Russian Gas – and was just shut down by the EU Commissioner for Energy who clearly does not want responsibility for this politically most miserable attempt by an oil company and a EU Member State to make money from fossil fuels and undermine a European Effort to go instead for Renewable Energy.

Professor Joe Stiglitz unmasks here this self-righteousness of the rich that think the World is their oyster and they have a Constitutional right to rob and legally cheat. The implications are immense and reach into globalization and efforts to enlarge the scope of international piracy using multinational trade agreements to undo healthy laws in countries that somehow managed to pass such laws.

 

Joseph E. Stiglitz: Let’s Stop Subsidizing Tax Dodgers.

 

By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company

 

31 May 2014
 readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

 

  new report by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz for the Roosevelt Institute suggests that paying our fair share of taxes and cracking down on corporate tax dodgers could be a cure for inequality and a faltering economy.

This week on Moyers & Company, Stiglitz tells Bill that Apple, Google, GE and a host of other Fortune 500 companies are creating what amounts to “an unlimited IRA for corporations.” The result? Vast amounts of lost revenue for our treasury and the exporting of much-needed jobs to other countries.

“I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values.” Stiglitz says. “But if people don’t think that their tax system is fair, they’re not going to want to contribute. It’s going to be difficult to get them to pay. And, unfortunately, right now, our tax system is neither fair nor efficient.”

 

BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Our democracy is now probably better described as one dollar, one vote than one person, one vote. We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent.

 

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Avoiding taxes has become a hallmark of America’s business icons; Apple, Google, GE, and many more of the Fortune 500. The nation’s largest corporations are sitting on more than $2 trillion in cash while revenue from corporate income taxes have plummeted from just below 40 percent in 1943 to just below 10 percent in 2012. Government and big business have colluded to create what’s tantamount to an “unlimited IRA” for corporations.

That’s not my term, although I wish I had thought of it, because it explains so much about what’s gone wrong in a country where some 20 million workers who would like a full-time job still can’t get one. Yet the upper one percent of the population takes home a staggering 22.5 percent of America’s income while their effective federal income tax rate has dropped.

No, the phrase was coined by Joseph Stiglitz, a man eminently worth quoting, a Nobel Prize winner and one of the world’s most influential economists.

Currently he’s president of the International Economic Association. Former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Bill Clinton, and the author of best-selling books that have shaped worldwide debates on globalization, income inequality, and the role of government in the financial marketplace. Now he’s written one of his shortest but most important works: this white paper, published by the Roosevelt Institute where Joseph Stiglitz is a senior fellow. It’s a mere 27 pages, but in clear and cogent prose, backed up by facts and figures, it lays out a plan that not only would reform our taxes but create jobs and strengthen the economy. I’ve asked him here to tell us about it. Welcome.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Nice to be here.

 

BILL MOYERS: You argue that elimination of corporate welfare, or at least its reduction, should be at the center of tax reform. Why?

 JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, let me put it in a broader context. Our country needs, faces a lot of challenges. We, as you mentioned, 20 million Americans would like a full-time job and can’t get one. We have growing inequality. We have environmental problems that threaten the future of our planet. I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values. But if people don’t think that their tax system is fair, they’re not going to want to contribute. It’s going to be difficult to get them to pay. And, unfortunately, right now, our tax system is neither fair nor efficient. Look at the tax rate paid by that one percent. It’s much lower than the tax rate paid by somebody whose income is lower who works hard for a living, as a percentage of their income.

You know, Warren Buffet put it very -  why should he pay a lower tax rate on his reported income than his secretary? And the interesting thing that he didn’t emphasize was most of his income is in the form of unrealized capital gains.

 

BILL MOYERS: Unrealized capital gains are not taxed as long as the owner keeps them, right, doesn’t get rid of them?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That’s right. And what’s even worse, if you’re a corporation and you even realize the capital gains but you’re abroad, you don’t bring the money back home, there’s still no taxes.

As long as they don’t bring the money back here, it accumulates, it grows and grows and grows, and they get wealthier. But it’s even worse than that. Because it means that they have an incentive to keep their money abroad.

And what does that mean? They have an incentive to create jobs abroad. And with our trade agreements, they can take the goods that are produced abroad with this tax-free money, bring it back in the United States, basically making it unfair competition with the goods produced by Americans.

 

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. There are several startling statements in your report. This is one of them: “our current tax system encourages multinationals to invest abroad.” And create jobs abroad, as you just said. And yet, these are people who defend their practices by saying, we are the job creators, we’re the job producers. And yet, you say they have an incentive to send jobs abroad.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: The whole discussion of who are the job creators, I think, has been misplaced. You know, what really creates jobs is demand–

 

BILL MOYERS: I spend my money to buy things.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Exactly. Americans of all income groups are entrepreneurial. You got people across our income distribution who, when there’s a demand, respond to that demand. But if there’s no demand, there won’t be jobs. Now, the problem is that the people in the one percent have so much money that they can’t spend it all. The people at the bottom are spending all of their income and hardly getting by. In fact, a very large fraction of those in the bottom 80 percent are spending more than their income. And it’s part of the instability of our economy. So, the point is this inequality contribute, to which our tax system contributes actually weakens our demand.

And that’s one of the main messages of my report, which is if we had a more progressive tax system, we could get a more efficient economy. Because there would be more jobs being created.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, these 20 million people I referred to, and you referred to in your report, who are looking for full-time work but can’t find it, if they had that work, they’d be spending their money. They’re not going to send it to the Cayman Islands, right.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Exactly. And they’re going to be paying taxes. Because they don’t have the opportunities for tax avoidance that the people who have the Cayman Islands and can use these unlimited IRAs and other ways of tax avoidance. You know, they don’t keep the money in the Cayman Islands because the sunshine makes the money grow better. They put their money there because the lack of sunshine, the way of tax avoidance–

 

BILL MOYERS: Dark money, money in the shadows, money now going into our political process, as you know so well, to reinforce this tax code.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That’s right. Reinforce the tax code, which has led America to be the country with the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries.

 

BILL MOYERS: Give us a working definition for the laity of corporate welfare.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, this was an idea that I began talking about when I was serving as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers–

 BILL MOYERS: Twenty years ago.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: –twenty years ago. And everybody was talking about how much money you were giving to the poor people. It wasn’t, if you actually looked at the amount of money, it wasn’t that much. But we said, well, you’re also giving away a lot of money to rich corporations, directly and indirectly. Most of the indirect way is through the tax system. So, for instance, if you give special tax provisions for oil companies, so they don’t pay the full share of taxes that they ought to be paying, that’s a welfare benefit.

Lots of other provisions in our, hidden in our tax code basically help one industry or another, that can’t be justified in any economic terms. And, so, that’s where we coined the term “corporate welfare.” It’s caught on. And because it says it’s a subsidy, but not a subsidy, help going to a poor person, which is where welfare ought to be going, but going to the richest Americans, going to our rich corporations.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, we have a tax code that encourages people to– encourages companies to send their profits abroad, to send jobs abroad, and to reward owners of their company whose money may not come back to the United States?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: It doesn’t make any sense, you might say. And the fact it doesn’t, you know, one of the reasons I wrote the paper was, you know, there’s a lot discussion going on about we have a budget of deficit. And we have to slash this, and slash that, and cut back education, and cut back research, things that will make our economy stronger, cut back infrastructure.

 And I think that’s counterproductive. It’s weakening our economy. But the point I make in this paper is it would be easy for us to raise the requisite revenue. This is not a problem. This is not as if it’s going to oppress our economy. We could actually raise the money and make our economy stronger. For instance, we’re talking about the taxation of capital. If we just tax capital in the same way we tax ordinary Americans, people who work for a job, who pay taxes we pay on wages.

If we eliminate the special provisions of capital gains, if we eliminated the special provisions for dividends we could get, over the next ten years, over, you know, approximately $2 trillion. And those are numbers according to the CBO. And so, we’re talking about lots of money.

 

BILL MOYERS: The figures make sense to me. But the politics doesn’t. Because these are the people, once again, who dominate our system with their contributions to the politicians who then have no interest in changing a system that rewards their donors.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: We have this vicious cycle where economic inequality gets translated into political inequality. It gets translated into rules of the game that lead to more economic inequality, and which allow that economic inequality to get translated into evermore political inequality. So, my view, you know, the only way we’re going to break into this viscous cycle is if people come to understand that there is an alternative system out here.

That there is an alternative way of raising taxes, that we are not really faced with a budget crisis. It’s a manmade crisis. You know, when we had the government shutdown, we realized that that was a political crisis. That wasn’t an economic crisis. And the same thing about our budget crisis, you know. It’s not that we couldn’t raise the revenues in a way which actually could make our economy stronger. We can.

If we just had a fair tax system, to tax capital at the same rate that we tax ordinary individuals, if we just made those people in that upper 1 percent pay their fair share of the taxes they got 22.5 percent of the income, well, let’s make sure that they pay a commensurate part of our income tax, if we had taxes that would be designed to improve our environment.

 

BILL MOYERS: You mean by taxing pollution?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Taxing pollution.

BILL MOYERS: Carbon emissions.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: A general principle that we’ve known for a long time, a lot better to tax bad things than good things. Rather than tax people who work, let’s shift some of that burden into things that are bad, like pollution.

BILL MOYERS: You make it sound so easy. And I’m still hung up on your saying, you know, it would be easy to do these things. And yet, if they were easy, why haven’t we done them?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, that’s the politics. The fact is that we have a political process that I won’t say is broken, but is certainly not functioning the way we think a democracy is supposed to function, you know. In democracy, supposed to be one person, one vote. And there’s a well-developed theory about what does that imply for the outcome of a political process?

We talk about it, called the median voter. It should reflect the middle, you know. Some people want more spending. Some people want less spending. Some people, you know, so the nature of democracy is compromise. And it’s supposed to be compromise sort of in the middle. But that’s not we have today in the United States. We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent.

 

BILL MOYERS: Let me cite some examples of the biggest tax dodgers. These come from the organization, Americans for Tax Fairness. Citigroup had $42.6 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Exxon Mobil had $43 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. General Electric made $88 billion from 2002 to 2012 and paid just 2.4 percent in taxes for a tax subsidy of $29 billion, I could go on. Pfizer, Honeywell, Verizon, FedEx, Apple. What goes through your mind when you hear these figures?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, so, many things go through my mind. But, you know, one of the things is how unfair this is, and how angry Americans ought to be about this. I also think of the ethics of the question. If I were a CEO, take of a company like Apple, use the ingenuity of America, based on the internet. Internet was created, in large measure, by government–

 BILL MOYERS: Right.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: –by government spending. They’re willing to take but not to give back. So, there’s really a whole set of problems that concern it, ethics, equity, fairness, resource allocations. What they don’t seem to understand is our society can’t function if these large corporations don’t make their fair share of contributions.

 

BILL MOYERS: Aren’t they likely to say, though, in response, well we do this because the law permits it. This is what the system incentivizes.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well the law does permit it. They use their lobbyists to make sure that the law gives them the scope to avoid taxes. So, this argument, oh, we’re only doing what the law allows, is disingenuous. The fact is they created, their lobbyists, their lobbying helped create this law that allows them to escape taxes, pushing the burden of taxation on ordinary Americans.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, that’s the big impact on people, right. They– somebody has to make up the difference between–

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Somebody has to make up the difference. I mean, we can’t survive as a society without roads, infrastructure, education, police, firemen. Somebody’s going to have to pay these costs.

 

BILL MOYERS: Summarizing what you say in here about your proposal, raise the corporate tax rate, but provide generous tax credits for corporations that invest in the U.S. and create jobs here. Eliminate the loopholes that distort the economy, increase taxes on corporations, the profits of which are associated with externalities such as pollution, reduce the bias toward leverage by making dividend payments tax deductible, but imposing a withholding tax. I mean, these seem so common-sensical that a journalist can understand them. But they don’t get into the debate.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Yeah, well, I hope this paper will help move that along. You notice when you were listing them that these are very much based on incentives. As I said–

 

BILL MOYERS: Your plan is based on incentives?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: On incentives that we’ve created a tax system that has an incentive to move jobs abroad. And what I want to do is create a tax system that has incentives to create jobs. And if you tell a corporation, look it, if you don’t create jobs, you’re taking out of our system, you’re not putting anything back, you’re going to pay a high tax.

But if you put back into our system by investing, then you can get your tax rate down. That seems to me, common sense, particularly in a time like today, when 20 million Americans need a job. When we have so much inequality and this unemployment is contributing to that inequality.

You know, in this, the first three years of the so-called recovery, between 2009 and 2012, 95 percent of all the gains went to the upper 1 percent. So, the American workers are not participating. And the reason they’re not participating is there’s just not enough job creation here at home. And, so, this is a way of trying to incentivize all these corporations who are sitting on all this money abroad to start using some of their huge resources, some of all those benefits that we’ve given them, for the benefit of the American people.

 

BILL MOYERS: You move in circles where you come into contact with the CEOs of these companies, many of whom are deficit hawks, you know. They keep, they’re on committees. They keep testifying in Washington. They call for deficit reduction. What do they say when you make this argument to them face to face, as you’re making it to me?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Most of them are not economists. And most of them are concerned with their corporation’s own bottom line and with their own salary. So, we’ve created a corporate system in the United States where the CEOs’ pay is related to the shareholder value. The shareholder value is related to how little taxes they pay. Because if they get the taxes down, profits look high and people will pay more for their shares.

So, when they’re making an argument for, let’s lower the corporate income tax, let’s lower taxes that I have to pay, let’s expand corporate loopholes, they don’t use those words. But what they’re really saying is, pay me more, because if I succeed in getting Congress to do that, my pay goes up, not because I’ve worked harder.

I haven’t invented something new. I haven’t made my customers happier. I made my company more valuable by succeeding in getting provisions that allow my company to avoid taxes. And then, my shareholder value goes up, and my salary goes up.

 

BILL MOYERS: My conversation with Joseph Stiglitz will continue next week. {and we promise here to post the follow-up as well – The SustainabiliTank.info editor}

 

As if to prove a point, the U.S. House of Representatives, functioning these days as a legislative bordello for corporate America, is moving to extend and make permanent six separate tax cuts for big business. The whole package would come at a cost of $310 billion, virtually wiping out all the deficit reduction from last year. One of those tax credits, for research and development, already has been approved, at a cost over the next ten years of $156 billion. That’s 15 times as much as it would cost to extend unemployment benefits.

 

Did House Republicans offer to renew help for people out of work? Nope. They’re deficit hawks, and they said there’s no money to pay for it. Of course they could just ask their corporate friends to give the tax breaks back. But that would be asking too much, especially on the eve of the fall Congressional elections when secret or dark money from you-know-who will flow into you-know-whose campaigns like….well, like champagne on the company jet.

 

Yet another reminder that you need not impose fraud on people by stealth if you can succeed by law.

 

Next week, more on politics, taxes, and inequality with Joseph Stiglitz.

 

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: We already have a tax system that has contributed to making America the most unequal society of the advanced countries. That doesn’t have to be. We can have a tax system that can help create a fairer society— only ask the people at the top to pay their fair share.

 

BILL MOYERS: At our website, BillMoyers.com, we’ll link you to Joe Stiglitz’s white paper for the Roosevelt Institute. You’ll also find a list there of ten corporate tax dodgers whose names and brands we bet you’ll recognize.

 

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

THE FOLLOWING WAS MAILED OUT BY UN DPI ON “Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 4:38 PM.” Iassume that this is Vienna time which makes it 10:38 AM New York time.

It was supposed to bring attention to an event that day that was being held “10:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Is Anyone still naive enough to hope that anything practical can come out from the hands of this UN Secretariat Staff?

YES  – the UN has some great people in its midth but they are turned impotent by a permanent UN staff that was set up by governments of OIL that have no interest in environment, climate change or the fate of indigenous people that live from the land.

This posting of ours comes to highlight what we were saying for many years – and the fact that even the UN Secretary-General, who we think might harbor the right feelings, and might have surrounded himself with the right people, but not having had the guts to throw out half of the UN staff he inherited has simply turned to zero the chance of having an impact on important matters.  We are very sorry for this.

The Governments of Bolivia and Ecuador and representatives of the North American Indian Nations still believe in Mother Earth and are not ready to give up the fight for changing our behavior to one that allows us no live in harmony with the planet rather then exploiting it. Man ought to be the warden of Planet Earth and not its destroyer – but this is not the religion of MAMMON as represented at the UN by the Oil Barrel.

 

THE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony With Nature Tuesday, 22 April
UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council
10:00 am – 1:00 pm

The United Nations will hold the fourth Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature to discuss and promote ways to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

The Dialogue also commemorates International Mother Earth Day, which highlights the need to move away from a human-centred worldview and focuses on the relationship between the planet and humankind as an equal partnership. The Dialogue will address key characteristics to build an Earth-centred paradigm and strategies for building it.

President of the General Assembly John W. Ashe will open the Dialogue, along with State and civil society representatives.  The statements will be followed by four panels with experts on topics such as nature and politics, farming, and harmony with nature in the post-2015 development agenda.

WHO:

Mr. John W. Ashe, General Assembly President

Representative for Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

Mr. Sacha Llorentty Soliz, Permanent Representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

Ms. Tonya Gonnella Frichner, American Indian Law Alliance of New York and New Jersey

Chair: Ms. Lorena Tapia, Minister of the Environment, Ecuador

Moderator: Ms. Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of the Earth Law Center

Panelists

Prof. Frank Biermann, Chair, Earth System Governance Project

Prof. Barbara Baudot, Chair, Department of Politics, Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire, USA

Mr. Jim Gerritsen, Co-Owner, Wood Prairie Farms, Bridgewater, Maine, USA

Mr. Fander Falcon? Benitez,  Research Professor, Latin America Social Sciences Institute

The event will be webcast live on UN Web TV. webtv.un.org/

For more information see: www.harmonywithnatureun.org/

 

Hashtag: #PGApost2015

Media contact:
Florencia Soto Nino, sotonino@un.org, 917-367-4833; UN Department of Public Information.

—————————————-

All right – perhaps someone will try to find out what happened after-the-fact -   surely not having been able to talk to any of the guests that came specially to speak at the event – the likes of the Minister from Ecuador and out-of-towners from academia or members of pro-Earth organizations. Some at the DPI seem to like the role of gate-keepers for the media and keep the media away from information not sanctioned by members of the staff.

 

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

 

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

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

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.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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.

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

 

 

 

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

Posted:   |  Updated: 01/30/2014

{WE ARE HONORED – FOLKS IN WASHINGTON THOUGHT THAT THE COPENHAGEN 2009 MEETING OF THE UNFCCC – the COP 15 – THE LAST ONE WE ATTENDED – WAS ACTUALLY OF IMPORTANCE. Now we believe that the 2015 meeting in Paris will also be important.}

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.

IT READS:

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

FROM:
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 Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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

Link to Green Prophet

mailed-by: feedburner.bounces.google.com – 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 Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Exclusive: NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint users to hack

 

Advertisement

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:
www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/post/nsa-uses-google-cookies-to-pinpoint-targets-for-hacking/2013/12/10/d6eff3c0-6206-11e3-a7b4-4a75ebc432ab_blog.html

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AND SEE HERE PLEASE HOW THE SYSTEM MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR US TO COPY FOR YOU SOME OF THIS INFORMATION:

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

    reformgovernmentsurveillance.com/?

    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 Sustainabilitank.info on December 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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.”

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

USA’S NEW SCANDAL
USA’S NEW SCANDAL

[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

By PAUL KRUGMAN

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

—————-

A NEW YORK TIMES Editorial

Mr. de Blasio’s Fiscal Challenge

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

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

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###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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 www.sustainabilitank.info/category/africa/sudan/darfur/.  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:

www.us-immigration.com/uscis-guide-being-granted-asylum-u-s/

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?

============================
By 
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES: IN SUDAN’S NUBA MOUNTAINS, GOVERNMENT ROCKET ATTACKS SOW FEAR, WITNESSES SAY.
www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/world/africa/in-sudans-nuba-mountains-rocket-attacks-spread-fear.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120314

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 Sustainabilitank.info on November 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

 

Photo Credit: shutterstock.com -  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.

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

AN UPDATE FROM THE RIGHT.

 

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 Sustainabilitank.info on November 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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: www.Rickhodes.org
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]

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

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 »

 

By

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 17th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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 www.migrant-rights.org/category/g…


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. www.microfy.org 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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


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.

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

On the web –  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

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 www.asap4all.org. 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.

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