Indigenous People living in the Ecuadorean Amazon are Human Beings and Should Be Protected Against Predatory International Big Oil. The US Supreme Court Came Down Against Chevron whose properties will thus be seized by Ecuador.
Amazon Farmers Seize Chevron Assets.
SustainableBusiness.com News October 17, 2012.
In a huge success for Amazon farmers that have been suing Chevron for 18 years, an Ecuadorian court ruled they can seize $200 million in assets from the oil company.
That includes $96.3 million the Ecuador government owes Chevron, money held in Ecuadorean bank accounts by Chevron, and licensing fees generated by the use of the company’s trademarks in the country, reports Reuters.
This is a critically important case – the first time an indigenous community has prevailed against a multinational corporation. Oil companies are, of course, keeping close watch on this case as it provides an important precedent for communities to fight their pollution.
The company even took it to the US Supreme court, which last week rejected Chevron’s attempt to overturn the $19 billion judgment against it.
The suit was originally brought against Texaco (bought by Chevron in 2001). In February 2011, an Ecuadorean judge imposed damages for $8.6 billion – the fine has more than doubled since then because Chevron has not made the public apology the court required.
Instead, the company filed an appeal in New York to block the judgment, saying it was illegal and unenforceable under the state’s law – and a federal judge took its side in March 2011.
But earlier this year, an appeals court overturned that decision, noting US courts can’t interfere with courts from other countries.
The Supreme Court’s rejection of that appeal opened the door for this week’s ruling, issued in the Amazon town of Lago Agrio.
“This is a huge first step for the rainforest villagers on the road to collecting the entire $19 billion judgment,” Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the communities, told Reuters.
Chevron is fighting back again, charging racketeering against New York attorney Steven Donziger, a group of Ecuadoreans and the environmental groups that helped win the original judgment against it.
It is also bringing the matter to an international trade arbitration panel which is scheduled to begin hearings on the dispute in November, reports Reuters.
After the original judgment, Ecuador and the United Nations Development Program signed a historic deal to leave an estimated 846 million barrels of crude oil untapped beneath Yasuní National Park, a World Biosphere Reserve since 1989.
A Joint development of Fusion energy between a US factor and an Iranian academic government institution with the potential to diffuse the Nuclear-Weapons capability – stand-off while showing that a US-Iranian cooperation can help the World in the achiement of the SE4All post-Rio goals? An added idea just in time for the Third 2012 US Presidential Debate.
October 4 and October 9, 2012 I received two e-mails from from Gelvin Stevenson of the monthly New York Forum Breakfast, that on October 12th the Forum will host a team from Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc. (LPP) that will present their work on fusion energy—energy that is plentiful, safe, abundant, and “too cheap to meter.”
LPP is a research and development corporation whose primary goal is the scientific demonstration and commercialization of a compact nuclear fusion generator that will provide cheap, clean, safe and abundant energy for the world. If successfully developed, its technology will make electricity cheap enough for all, eliminating the high financial and environmental costs, including climate change, caused by our current reliance on fossil fuels.
Sure, above grabbed my attention and also reminded me of a previous message that I had still in the computer and that related to above topic and above company.
But what got even more my attention was what follows: “LPP collaborates with leading plasma focus researchers around the world, including the Plasma Physics Research Center in Tehran, Kansas State University, and Utah State University. The intellectual property of Focus Fusion is protected by US Patent #7,482,607, “Method and apparatus for producing X-rays, ion beams and nuclear fusion energy,” with international patents filed.”
A US company working closely with US National Laboratories on a form of nuclear power that cooperates with the University of Tehran these days of calls for “bomb Iran?” Fusion can provide cheap power and avoid the potential for making bombs? A joint US-Iran project that gives equal standing to Iran in a technology that can help everybody?
OK – we see what I mean and let me develop the subject in its chronological construct.
The old communication was:
FOCUS FUSION OPPORTUNITY – PLEASE REVIEW AND ADVISE.
I have just signed an agreement with Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (Www.lpphysics.com) (LPP) to create awareness and call-on my business associates to raise 2 million dollars to complete R&D for the eventual commercialization of Focus Fusion, hopefully within the next 3-5 years.
Focus Fusion technology entails hydrogen and boron combining into helium, while giving off tremendous amounts of energy in the process, without any radioactive waste.
This technology could give birth to a non-polluting power plant the size of a local gas station that would quietly and safely power 4,000 homes, for a few tenths of a penny per kilowatt-hour, compared to 4-6 cents/kw-h of coal or natural-gas-powered plants. One technician could operate two dozen of these stations remotely. The fuel, widely available, is barely spent in the clean fusion method, and would only need to be changed annually.
The size and power output would make it ideal for providing localized power, reducing transmission losses and large-grid vulnerabilities. The cost and reliability would make it affordable for developing nations and regions.
LPP chief scientist Eric Lerner is in the “final stretch” of his 28 year quest to provide clean nuclear fusion using a unique process to create direct electricity without radioactivity. He has been active in dense plasma focus (DPF) research and has developed a detailed quantitative theory of the functioning of DPF. Based on this theory, he proposed that the DPF could achieve high ion and electron energies at high densities, suitable for advanced fuel fusion and space propulsion.
For your due diligence and hopefully your equity participation, please use the links below to get a grasp of the enormous value and biblical implications for world peace that this technology can achieve.
Sam called this -”Fusion For Peace Initiative.”
Google Headquarters Tech Talk Presentation
www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4w_dzSvVaM&feature=youtube_gdata_player - Focus Fusion in the Media overall media page
LPP is also committed to educating and involving students and the general public in this incredible endeavor, and so works with its partner nonprofit the Focus Fusion Society to raise awareness through a dedicated website and YouTube channel.
These are some of my favorites there for understanding the technology: Intro to the Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) and Focus Fusion;
LPP’s latest breakthrough and efforts towards peace have been noted by Forbes, CNBC, and made the news as far as the UK (including the Guardian) and even Russia in an excellent video news segment.
A number of venture capitalists and other high profile private equity investors have been investing in nuclear fusion in recent years.
Here is a roundup:
TerraPower – Intellectual Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Bill Gates
Tri Alpha Energy – Goldman Sachs, New Enterprise Associates, Venrock, Vulcan Capital (Paul Allen)
General Fusion – BDC Venture Capital, Bezos Expeditions (Jeff Bezos), Braemar Energy Ventures, Cenovus Energy, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, GrowthWorks Capital
The following link is the complete article which names the current players in Fusion Investment and the reasons why they are doing so:
In conclusion, LPP is way ahead of our competitors due to the vision and practices of Eric Lerner and believes our technology will disrupt fossil fuels, which will eventually end the reign of damaging monopolies which affect global warming, confrontations between nations and general health.
For a mere 2 million dollars, you can be a partner with LPP in this attractive and sustainable field of energy.
Checking Wikipedia we found: Eric J. Lerner, in 1984, began studying plasma phenomena and laboratory fusion devices, performing experimental work on a machine called a dense plasma focus (DPF). Lerner received funding from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1994 and 2001 to explore whether the dense plasma focus could be an effective ion thruster to propel spacecraft. He believes that a dense plasma focus can also be used to produce useful aneutronic fusion energy. Lerner explained his “Focus Fusion” approach in a 2007 Google Tech Talk. On November 14, 2008, Lerner received funding for continued research, to test the scientific feasibility of Focus Fusion. On October 15, 2009, the DPF device “Focus Fusion-1″ achieved its first pinch. On January 28th, 2011, LPP published initial results including experimental shots with considerably higher fusion yields than the historical DPF trend. In March, 2012, the company announced that it had achieved temperatures of 1.8 billion degrees, beating the old record of 1.1 billion that had survived since 1978.
On October 12th I learned as follows:
Hydrogen and Boron, when used as a fusion fuel are aneutronic – that means they fuse to release only charged particles – but no neutrons – and thus lowers the cost of this operation when compared to methods that use deuterium or tritium.
LPP originated and patented a Focus Fusion controlled release device for dense plasma that does not release radioactive by-products. Their Focus Fusion -1 (Fo-Fu -1) (FF-1) devise was completed in October 2009 in Middlessex NJ and now regularly achieves many billions of fusion reactions within the few microseconds of a single experimental shot.
The unit generator they envision will be a garage-size generator that will provide energy to 1,000 homes and many of these can be combined if the intent is to have a larger energy plant. The initial 5MW green and low-cost Focus Fusion unit can be up-scaled to provide gigawatt-scale power. The electrode at the heart of FF-1 is just five inches across. To continue the demonstration work – all what the company was reaching out for at this time was $2 million.
The people that represented LPP at the breakfast were:
Eric J. Lerner, President and Chief Scientist – the originator of the concept,
Derek Shanon, Director of Business Development,
Sam Salamay, Senior Consultant in Public Relation mattes.
The address of LPP is 128 Lincoln Blvd.
The advantages of FF-1:
to replicate it costs $ half a million; there is huge reduction in costs compared to other proposed fusion equipment.
The idea was started in the 60′s and by now there is a rich literature and dozens of research groups worldwide – but Lerner credits the Tehran University as the other most advanced group. His own lab experiments were started in 2009. He has US patent #7,482,607 with patents pending in Australia, China, India and Europe.
Asked what holds back the project – his answer was that too few people have plasma experience and immigration problems make it difficult bringing in to the US non US citizens. Financially they are fine now having obtained $2.7 million from the Abell Foundation and they have 40 investors.
He also said that the profit is not in the mailing of the equipment but in the savings when consuming the energy, as such it is possible to contemplate an equipment rental structure and a service agreement as it would be effective to run the equipment from a distance.
Looking at the potential of this concept – (a) we see immediately that it is an answer to the UN concept of SE4All – Sustainable Energy for All.
Above seems obvious – but what may be its best selling point is that Iranian scientists at the University of Tehran are the most advanced foreigners in his technology and if a cooperation between them, as led by the Iranian government, and the US government stands behind the LPP scientists – be they dealing as a private company or as a National Laboratory, this mutually respectful relationship will also help Iran climb down the tree of discord with the US. Let us hope that after the Presidential elections, the winning US President will see to it that this opportunity to work together with Iran is not squandered.
This latter idea that I discussed with the LPP team after the presentation last week, becomes even more enticing considering the information that became available this week-end – the weekend ahead of the last US Presidential Debate, that there are ongoing US – Iran contacts in an attempt to find a solution to the nuclear crisis, and as well – having listened on Friday to the presentation of Judge Abraham D. Sofaer on an Effective Diplomacy to tackle the issue – the cooperation between the two countries in order to commercialize nuclear fusion seems like an ideal way out in this more intricate topic. This latter subject we posted as well on our website.
The September 24th, 2012 presentation at Harvard U. JFK School of Government, by the PM of Austria, H.E. Michael Spindelegger – He advocated for a more united EU, but said nothing to be interpreted as an Austrian or EU policy in our post-Rio2012 World.
Speech given by H.E. Michael Spindelegger on “Responding to European and international challenges: Austria’s foreign policy”
JFK School of Government, Harvard University, 24 September 2012
It is a great pleasure and honor for me to speak to you today, here at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The name of President Kennedy will forever be linked to Austrian Foreign policy. It was the legendary summit in June 1961, when the newly elected John F. Kennedy met Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. This summit reinstated Vienna as a platform for peace and dialogue, two goals Austria is pursuing ever since with diligence and passion.
In the country of opportunity, you know better than anybody else that opportunity is often borne out of challenge.
Already in the past Austrian foreign policy tried to live up to the challenges it was facing by turning them into opportunities.
After the end of the Second World War, Austria was – like Germany – occupied by foreign forces including the Soviet Union. The price for the withdrawal of the Red Army was our declaration of neutrality in 1955.
But we interpreted our neutrality not as neutralism. Directly neighboring the former Eastern Bloc, and facing the Iron Curtain, we embedded ourselves into the Western world, without severing our relations with the East. Austria recognized that the challenging place history had assigned it also bore some opportunities.
Vienna became a meeting place during the Cold War culminating in becoming the third headquarter of the UN and numerous other international organizations.
Austria also – unlike Switzerland – interpreted its neutrality as an active one. We became a member of the United Nations right away in 1955, participated soon thereafter in UN peacekeeping missions and have ever since been continuously and actively involved in the organization’s work. Since 1960, more than 90,000 Austrians have served in UN peacekeeping missions all over the world. Currently, we are participating in six UN missions, our priority being the Middle East, The Golan heights and Lebanon. Austria learned to appreciate a strong and effective multilateral system which remains to date a pillar of our foreign policy.
The fall of the Berlin Wall changed the political environment in Europe again dramatically. The challenge was to adapt rapidly to the new realities. With joining the European Communities only a few years later in 1995 Austria firmly anchored itself in a zone of stability, security, freedom and growth, positioning itself well for the opportunities offered of a re-uniting Europe culminating in the European enlargement rounds of 2004 and 2007.
Austria returned – from a position of periphery during the Cold War – to the centre of the European continent. The continued enlargement of the European Union is in our very interest. Besides the transformative powers to the acceding societies and the economic benefits, we must not forget that the European Union was and is – above all – a peace project.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Challenges never cease. Today it is globalization and the European financial crisis. What can a small country like Austria contribute to fundamental European and global issues?
Obviously, there are limits to what Austria can do. However, being small does not mean being without resources.
Austria is – in relative terms – one of the wealthiest countries in the EU and the world. It places 3rd in the EU and 8th in the world in GDP per capita. Austria has the lowest unemployment and the lowest youth unemployment rate in the EU. Austria disposes of excellent infrastructure, high-skilled workers, a well-developed R&D sector and a stable social and economic framework.
Austria benefited enormously from its accession to the European Union. For the last ten years, Austria has significantly outperformed the EU average growth and this trend continues in 2012. Austria is one of the 11 net contributors to the EU budget. Austria has been able to establish itself as an important investor in the Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, continuously looking to new frontiers:
Thus, Austria may be small, but in economic terms, in terms of the resources the country and its population provide, it outperforms many a country of bigger size.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our experience within the UN and the EU confirm to us that small states can punch above their weight in the multilateral environment. They can be a player when they act as confidence builders, as mediators, as advocates of dialogue and as defenders of international law. Small states pursue less geostrategic goals and are more credible as impartial brokers.
Yet we are not acting in a void. Being a committed and active member of the European Union adds a specific angle to our foreign policy. During the last 15 years, the EU Member States have gradually stepped up their cooperation on international issues and have created a genuinely European Foreign and Security Policy Cooperation. Austria nowadays puts its foreign policy efforts to a large degree to the service of a European Foreign Policy. We send our experts and diplomats to join the new European External Action Service (EEAS). We co-shape European foreign policy decisions. These are taken by unanimity, our voice counting as much as Germany’s which has a population ten times larger than the Austrian.
Admittedly, it is sometimes difficult to find a consensus among the 27 Member States – soon 28 with the accession of Croatia next year. Non-EU-partners sometimes wonder about a European cacophony of voices when the EU fails to unite on a certain issue. However, when speaking with one voice, the European opinion is very powerful.
Being small you have to be smart, flexible and you have to specialize. Austria concentrates on regions and areas where we have special expertise and interests. These are in particular South-East and Eastern Europe as well as Northern Africa and the Middle East.
The EU-Strategy for the Danube Region was designed on the basis of an Austrian and Romanian initiative. The Strategy will provide us with better possibilities to fully benefit from the region’s growth potential. Austria is also working on closer ties with the countries of the Black Sea Region.
Equally, Austria is a proud champion of “soft issues”.
The experience of the Cold War has made Austria very sensitive to the threat vast nuclear arsenals constitute for the family of nations. Consequently, Austria has been a long-standing supporter of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Austria is also in the vanguard in the conventional disarmament, be it in banning landmines or cluster ammunition and in fighting the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.
Austria is also proud to be in the first line of defenders of Human Rights and the Rule of Law. For us these are the very basic prerequisites for democracy, stability and sustainable development. Austria is setting high standards to itself but also to others. With like-minded partners we are pursuing our goal vigorously, currently also on the UN Human Rights Council (2011-14) or in our upcoming chairmanship of the Council of Europe (2013).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me now turn to some very recent and fundamental European and international challenges and illustrate the Austrian and European way of tackling them.
In our Southern Neighbourhood, some Arab countries may be in a long phase of instability; but they could also become part of an enlarged zone of democracy and growth encompassing both shores of the Mediterranean.
The road of transition these countries have chosen so courageously will be very difficult in each and every case and will be marked by setbacks.
Libya, for example, seemed to be on a good track, when suddenly disaster struck. Allow me to express at this occasion my sincere condolences for the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his colleagues in Bengasi two weeks ago. On the day of the killings, I condemned this heinous crime – like so many of my colleagues around the world – and I added: the new Libya which received so much help from the international community during its quest for liberty, must take those responsible for this despicable act to account and prove through actions in the future what the new Libya truly stands for.
But it is our duty and in our self-interest to assist those countries to embrace democratic pluralism, the rule of law and individual freedoms. The EU has thus developed a comprehensive approach, encompassing economic, security and democracy support.
Challenges remain, of course, one of the biggest being the situation in Syria. After more than 25.000 victims and daily suffering for many more, including 2,5 million Syrians who depend on humanitarian assistance, the international community stands at a crossroad. The UN Security Council is unable to fulfill its responsibility, being blocked by certain powers.
Equally concerning is the situation in Iran. The longer Iran is unprepared to give credible assurances that its nuclear program is for peaceful use only, the more the risk of a military strike increases. This risks plunging the entire region neighbouring Europe into disarray. For Austria, there is thus no alternative to a peaceful solution. The sanctions we imposed serve the purpose of changing Iran’s attitude on the nuclear issue. Austria and the European Union stand ready to step up the pressure in this respect even more.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Austria’s outstanding economic performance which I referred to before was and is challenged by the crisis in the Euro zone.
The Euro is embedded in the Economic and Monetary Union which was designed about 25 years ago. Monetary integration subsequently evolved faster than economic integration. This gap is also one of the reasons for the current crisis. To counter the crisis, the EU has implemented a number of unprecedented policy measures during the last two years, measures of enhanced financial, fiscal and economic cooperation, discipline and solidarity.
The EU has also agreed to a series of significant Governance Reforms: in future, Government budgets, by constitutional provisions, will have to be balanced or in surplus. Eurozone members will coordinate more closely on their economic and budgetary policies. European institutions will oversee the budgets and implementation of fiscal policies of member states.
Economic growth will be the key driver to resolving the crisis. Hence, a European „Pact for Growth and Employment” was adopted at the European Council in June this year.
Structural changes in the Eurozone countries will take their time to be fully realized – currently, crisis countries are expected to see a decline in economic output both this and next year. On the other hand, we see that the massive structural reforms are bearing their first fruits.
Allow me to remark that despite all the negative financial news of these last weeks and months, the euro remained pretty strong, at around 1.29 US dollar / 1 euro. This proves the resilience of our currency.
However, the crisis has revealed how insufficient the existing banking supervision is. We must end the vicious circle between sovereign debt and bank debt. There should be a single rule book for financial services. Therefore I believe that we need to create a Single European banking supervision, a Banking Union.
We need to complete and deepen the EU Single market. This should comprise better regulation, support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and in particular EU funds for job creation. Trade and double-taxation agreements with third countries, including the United States, are also of key importance for progress.
At the same time, national measures are necessary, such as structural reforms, fight against unemployment and modernisation of administration. This includes reforming social policies, in particular health and pension systems. Austria is taking steps in this direction.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am deeply convinced that the euro crisis is not putting the future of the European Union at risk. On the contrary, out of what may have been the biggest challenge the European Union had to face so far, an opportunity for an even better and stronger EU may arise. During the last 60 years the EU had to master already a number of serious challenges and mostly came out stronger in the end.
The EU is not an accomplished project but rather a continuing integration process. Europe-wide polls confirm the support of European citizens for further unification of Europe. Austria is therefore actively involved in an internal and external debate on how to create an ever closer Union.
One week ago, a group of 10 EU foreign ministers, including myself, tabled a plan for the future of Europe. Our absolute priority is, at this stage, to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union. Nevertheless, once the immediate crisis has been overcome, we must also improve the overall functioning of the EU.
First, we see a need to improve our institutions so that the EU can act faster without losing its democratic integrity. The European Commission with its supranational powers should be strengthened so that it can improve its service as the engine of European integration. Within the Council of Ministers, we could extend the scope of decisions that are taken by qualified majority. The European Parliament should boost its democratic visibility by the nomination of a European top candidate by each political group for the next elections to the European Parliament in 2014.
Then, we want Europe to become a stronger actor on the world stage. To that end, we propose to strengthen the European External Action Service. We want the EU to act more united in international organizations. And we want more effective relations with our strategic partners, first of all the United States.
I am confident that our proposals will give a new impetus to the European integration process.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The US was and is the crucial strategic partner of the EU. The EU-US relationship is indeed a unique partnership. The US and the EU account for 60% of world’s GDP. Taking goods and services together, we account for 40% of world trade and we are still each other’s largest foreign investors. The vital nature of this partnership goes far beyond the economic dimension, however. It is a relationship based on a shared understanding of the values we wish to promote and secure. Our combined economic and political power places us at the centre of the international system and gives us a special responsibility. Today’s global challenges are challenges we face together – and I am sure we will together be able to find the opportunities therein.
It was here in Boston, and in a few other cities such as Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers of the United States of America developed their concepts. Their ideas led to reshaping this part and many other parts of the world, including Europe. Without their vision and their wisdom the world would have taken a different direction. We need very similar qualities in our days.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me end by quoting Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austria’s most popular artist and composer:
“To talk well and eloquently is a very great art, but an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop.”
I thus prefer to stop here and am looking forward to your questions.
Thank you very much.
Salon Sells The Well to Longtime MembersBy NICK WINGFIELD of the New York Times blog BITS.
One of the earliest online communities, The Well, has a new owner: its members.
On Thursday evening, Salon Media Group, the previous owner of The Well, said it had sold the community to the Well Group, a private investment group consisting of longtime members of the community, which was founded in 1985, long before the rise of the Web.
Although The Well was never a huge community by the standards of today’s consumer Web sites, it had an influential audience of cyber-thinkers and entrepreneurs, one that became smaller and smaller over the years. In June, Salon said it was putting the community up for sale.
The sale of to the Well Group includes the potentially valuable domain name well.com.
“The Well welcomes the opportunity to support its existing base and extends an invitation to like-minded individuals looking for a social network that puts the free exchange of ideas at the forefront,” said Earl Crabb, chief executive of The Well Group, in a statement.
In a brief phone interview, Cindy Jeffers, chief executive of Salon, declined to say how much the investment group paid Salon for The Well.
“As a true pioneer of the digital age, and a forerunner of today’s ubiquitous social networks, the Well has played a central role in the origin of countless creative endeavors and cultural movements,” Ms. Jeffers said in a statement. “We wish the Well countless more under their new management.”
With the opening of the new 67th UN General Assembly today, A Mandate to Innovate is awaiting the UN Secretary General in the Outcome Document from the June 2012 Rio Conference. We eagerly await to see how Mr. Ban Ki-moon will handle this mandate.
On this website we had several postings from Rio and we followed closely the preparations for the Conference, but the following was posted in the Society for International Development (SID) e-book. ebookbrowse.com/pincas-jawetz-pdf…
THE POST RIO+20 NEW ERA AT THE UNITED NATIONS starts with a RIO+20 new attempt to develop a practice of sustainability. The next climate and development game will be played September 2012 on the UN General Assembly court.
This article by Pincas Jawetz, based on a posting on www.SustainabiliTank.info, analyzes the preparations to the Conference, Rio at the time of the June 2012 Conference, and further meetings in Vienna held as part of the 54 International Congress of Americanists (ICA) that involved meetings we were not able to attend in Rio.
Vienna, Austria: July 28, 2012
We picked up at Rio a button that said – “STEP UP AGENDA 21 – RIO+21″ (??) and we wondered if those that issued this button were listening to what was being said in the Conference at large. The honest truth was that AGENDA 21 was not in sight. The reality is that a RIO+21 must indeed be the launching pad of what the UN 67th General Assembly opening Statements of September 18th to October 1st 2012 must be ready to divine – and this might be something different from the outcome of the Rio Conference of 1992. It is therefore of real importance for the Heads of Delegations to prepare for the potential offered at the upcoming UN General Assembly. The “FUTURE WE WANT” MANDATES THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL to start the process at UNGA 67 in order to have proposals ready in place for UNGA 68. Interesting, material that reached us from the UN, does not mention the Commission on Sustainable Development, to be closed and lessons from the CSD to be passed to a new element to result from the deliberations of a Universal Membership High Level Political Forum. The fact that it is passed over in silence means to us that forces at the UN may still hope to undo above Rio decision.
1992 was specially a good year – the break?up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, surely to different degrees, and on the other hand, Europe started out on an experiment of unification that emerged from a century of internal warfare, two World Wars, and the Marshall Plan revitalizing its Nation States. UNCED in 1992 seized on the 1987 Brundtland Commission’s Sustainable Development concept, and Maurice Strong, present everywhere, since the 1972 Conference on the Human Environment, was able to maneuver the topic of Sustainability – the concept that bridges between our deeds now, and the needs of future generations, to the point that developing countries
All countries never measured up to the responsibility to future generations.
In the US, 1992 was the year of the emergence of strong Democratic leadership in Congress – to the point that Rio saw two separate US delegations – The official delegation, and the Senate delegation with Al Gore and Timothy Wirth holding the reins.
Europe had two delegations ? the one anchored in the freshly signed Maastricht agreement for those countries that will be the first batch of EU member States, and the other group made up of Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Both of these groups were ready to link to the Al Gore US group, and the visions of conference leader Maurice Strong and Minister Klaus Toepfer, working for Germany, in order to shape up at Rio 1992 a UN position on the run.
The BRICS were not yet strongly positioned on the map, and he G77 where ready to accept the idea that money might come their way.
But now in RIO of 2012, Mr. Maurice Strong said that what we need to talk about is DEVELOPING SUSTAINABILITY meaning the understanding that Sustainability is about the future generations rather then development for profit in our times.
There was no RIO+20 Outcome Document. What helped the UN in 2012 was the emergence of UN “TEAM B” – the States of Bhutan and Brazil – to lead it out of the TOHU VAVOHU in New York and at Rio. The Prime Minister of Bhutan and his aids introduced notions of substance – “Well?Being and Happiness,” while the whole Administration of Brazil, President, Foreign Minister, the Diplomatic frontman and his large staff, taught us the potential of “Olympic Diplomacy” – a kind of Kissingerian diplomacy to provide something to every participant – so when an agreement is reached pro-forma there was not even a single loser – everyone claimed he had something he won – nobody got in full what he was bargaining for.
The Brazilian “COMMON VISION” when accepted by all UN Member States, was unchanged from the Brazilian paper, then renamed by the UN “The Future We Want” in line of previous releases from the UN. This was not in backing of the “Vision,” but rather in attempt to forget the Vision – and stress from the document the points close to official UN positions. In due time, nevertheless, some Member State will ask the UNSG to act according to the Brazil sponsored Vision, so we do not worry about mailings that we receive and that deviate from above.
In our opinion – it was paragraphs 84-86 of the Brazilian “Our Common Vision” – that became the UN’s “Our Common Future” – that include the essence of the potential of progress starting with the UN General Assembly – September 2012. But it seems that those paragraphs, the reference to Future Generations, and the reevaluation at the UN General Assembly of Sustainable Development, are missing in reporting to home base, in the major Press, and in evaluations by NGOs, as if rewritten from official UN Press releases.
I was at five debriefings held in Vienna – one was “Rio+20: Conference with meaning for Development and Environment?” The panel included Mr. Werner Raza, Head of the Austrian Research Foundation for International Development OEFSE, Mr. Alexander Egitt, Director of Greenpeace Austria, and Daniel Bacher, Spokesman for the Advocacy for Africa at the DKA – all members of the official Austrian Government delegation to the Rio Conference.
At another debriefing called by Professor Otmar Hoell of the Austrian Institute for International Policy OIIP, Mr. Schoffman, Vienna representative of the Global Compact, and from the floor Dr. Leo Gabriel, an anthropologist and Journalist, added that there was more to Rio then the official meeting. There were agreements in the side events – in the business area and also in the Peoples Sustainability Treaties. Mr. Gabriel spoke of the “La Cupula dos Povos” – the Alternate Meeting at Rio that was apart from the official meeting and involved indigenous people. Then at the other end of the strip, green entrepreneurs displayed sustainable business ideas.
On July 14th there was the last debriefing of this series ? “How do we go on from Rio+20?”? about the campaign against the “Green Economy.”
These speakers believe that much has happened at RIO+20, but this happened not at the official meeting but at the meetings of the business people. Some of these meetings were neither advertised nor open to non-invited guests.
They believe that a Green Economy is a business concept to give quantified value to nature so it can be monetized and sold as if it were a commodity. They reject the notion that it is supposed to improve human life while achieving an economic shift by resource efficiency and decoupling growth & resource use.
Their argument is that clean air and snow on a mountain are there and must be preserved – period – not because they have a financial value.
They saw in Rio future Commodification of Nature, while on the other hand there were people that came to protest the above. Iara was a coordinator of THE PEOPLE’s SUMMIT – and she told us that the Brazilian government provided some $5 million to help organize their meeting– albeit far away (35 km. away) from the official site of the RioCentro.
Iara Pitricovsky, co-director, the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies in Brazilia, participated in meetings with the UN Secretary-General and told him that it was frustrating to see the limping process. Twenty years ago we were at the top of neo-liberalism and Agenda 21 – we tried to build it and failed. Part of the ideas from the Peoples’ Meeting reached Vienna July 15-20, 2012, with the 54th International Congress of Americanists (ICA) and made it clear – it is more complicated then we are thinking with our old search for development.
At the July 14th debriefing, obviously already part of ICA, Edgardo Lander, Universidad Central de Venezuela and Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, who at the ICA meeting co-chaired with the University of Vienna Ulrich Brand, on Thursday, July 19th the Symposium on Democratization and Transformation Perspectives, spoke on the language issue – new things start with new language. Critical economics started with things that did not take into account externalities, now the issue is this new commodification of nature. We need a defense of the Commons, of Mother Earth ? different from the valorization of everything. Our actions have consequences – the planet has limits – the corporations have concluded that they have to take this into account, translated – green sector will produce greater profits then the brown sector. The World Bank thinks of the value of bees in fertilization of plants to be turned into bonds and sold on the market.
Jutta Kill of Fern UK, picked up at the business meeting she attended the phrase – “WE WILL TREASURE WHAT WE MEASURE” and says that this will be the new mantra of business in the effort to commodify nature. We see also a potential similarity between the Buddhist Bhutan stand and the indigenous people of Latin America. The Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley , with a large entourage of Ministers and Officials held a special meeting with the UNGA, on April 2nd, 2012, on Well Being and Happiness as targets of intent when talking about Sustainability and Sustainable Development.
New alliances are possible – such as between countries, mainly in the poor South, that are already suffering from effects of climate change, and more visionary countries of the North, that have a civil society ready to switch gears in the economy and move to new industries that are less polluting, resources saving and create jobs – a win?win?win situation for all! But the structure of the UN is itself fossilized, and the RIO+20 Prepcom was frozen.
Led by Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguilar Patriota, a Former Brazil Ambassador to the United States (2007-2009), and chief operational Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, the Undersecretary for Environment, Energy, Science and Technology of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil – Figueredo Machado with 30 other Ambassadors and Ministers – made sure to speak to everybody who volunteered an opinion, and note the minimums of acceptance in a secret draft.
Brazil, to play it safe, prepared also a second defence-line around the Rio+20 negotiations. I enjoyed in New York the resistance of Ambassador Figueiredo Machado to accept the idea that the meeting should actually be called RIO-20 because of the need, at the end, to come up with a new paradigm to replace the Agenda 21 that nobody was talking about.
BrazilDialogues was the second line of defense organized by Mr. Machado. We have much more on this in our full text. Please read it there. Eventually, a set of recommendations resulted from this second process and they will be attached to the outcome document.
Repeating what we see as the main point – please follow us to paragraphs 84-86 of the Rio Outcome Document, which have the secondary heading: “HIGH LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM.” We pick only a few most telling points:
# 84. We decide to establish a universal intergovernmental high level political forum, building on the strengths, experiences, resources and inclusive participation modalities of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and subsequently replacing the Commission. The high level political forum shall follow up on the implementation of sustainable development and should avoid overlap with existing structures, bodies and entities in a cost?effective manner.
# 86. We decide to launch an intergovernmental and open, transparent and inclusive negotiation process under the General Assembly to define the high level forum’s format and organizational aspects with the aim of convening the first high level forum at the beginning of the 68th session of the General Assembly. We will also consider the need for promoting intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations, including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.
What above means is that the UN Secretary Generals is mandated to establish under UN General Assembly rules, that call for full UN Membership:
(2) though leaving the term Sustainable Development in place, the above looks at Developing Sustainability instead – this by mandating the UN Secretary General to look at taking into account the needs of future generations — “including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.”
To summarize – RIO+20 as handled by Brazil – is a door to a new future that is going to rewrite the 1992 decisions that were not followed anyway. As said – it will be rather DEVELOPING SUSTAINABILITY then SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, and in this respect the platform is only being developed, and the eventual funding will be forthcoming with South?South cooperation. We will have to be patient and see the changes taking effect. But this will happen only if governments remind the UN Secretary General of the outcome document’s specific language and ask for his acting accordingly — on he rights of the un-conceived yet — THE FUTURE GENERATIONS.
At Rio+20 he headed the delegation of WAFUNIF – The World Association of Former UN Interns and Fellows.
For the Vienna Chapter of the Society for International Development he co?chaired a session on Biomass and Outer Space at the UN Vienna Outer Space Conference UNISPACE-82 ? (a) growth experiments under no gravity conditions and (b) remote sensing for biomass inventory taking. He was also treasurer at the New York section of SID and NGO representative to the UN.
To learn more about SID Vienna activities, how to participate or how to become member of the chapter, please visit the SID Vienna Chapter website at: www.sidvienna.org
September 14 – November 11, 2012.
A work of art, an environment, a happening, an installation, an interpretation of history, an explanation of things to come, thoughts beyond objects.
The invitation to the September 11, 2012 – the 9/11 – press date to see the exhibit said:
BACKGROUND: The Jewish Museum will present Izhar Patkin: The Messiah’s glAss, a new exhibition by New York-based, Israeli born artist, Izhar Patkin. The exhibition consists of two major works. The first is You Tell Us What To Do Act III, a painting for four walls on pleated illusion (tulle) veils that envelop the entire perimeter of the ornate Offit Gallery like a continuous mural. The other is a 12-foot tall clear glass sculpture titled The Messiah’s glAss, a figurative tour de force produced at the Centre International de Recherche Sur le Verre et les Arts Plastiques (CIRVA), Marseille, over a five year period from 2003 to 2007.
The curator, of the exhibit, Mr. Norman L. Kleeblatt, told me that the background of tulle veiled four walls with the appropriate cut-outs for windows and doors was done specifically for this room at this museum. The Press contacts at the museum Ms. Anne Scher and Mr. Alex Wittenberg where helpful as well, nevertheless, what I saw in this exhibit was a little different from the factual notes. As I came here to get my own impression, I will stick to my interpretation based on my own experience without bothering if my own viewing the installation differs from what the artist said, and then was related to me via several layers of intermediaries – be that orally or in writing.
My description of the viewing experience that regards the supposedly two separate parts of the exhibit as one, and from notes taken right there as first impressions, and thoughts they caused me right there, which I related also to the museum people congratulating them for a very successful show, go as follows:
IN THE MIDDLE – IN FRONT – MADE OF GLASS – SOMETHING LIKE A TABLE WITH LEGS LIKE THOSE OF A DONKEY – AND ON THE RIGHT SIDE DANGLES OF IT A DONKEY’S TAIL.
ON THIS TABLE, OR IF YOU WISH THE DONKEY’S BODY, SITS THE DONKEY’S HEAD. BETWEEN THE EARS HE HAS A CROWN THAT SHAPES UP WITH FOUR FURTHER EARS – ARE THOSE THE LEGENDARY SERAPHIM, OR PERHAPS A HINT TO GREEK MYTHOLOGICAL BACCHANALIAN FIGURES, OR A SHAKESPEAREAN MID-SUMMER DREAM, OR IS THIS THE NIJINSKY FAWN – A REMINDER OF THE-RIGHT-OF-SPRING?
ALSO ON THE TABLE, THREE MASTS – IS THIS THE SHIP OF FATE – THE SHIP OF FOOLS?
THE ROOM – EXCEPT FOR THE CUT-OUTS FOR TWO DOORS AND TWO WINDOWS – IS COVERED WITH CEILING TO FLOOR,OR DOOR OR WIDOW, A PAINTED WAVE-LIKE GAUZE.
STARTING WITH THE LEFT SIDE:
THERE IS A DONKEY PULLING A TWO-WHEELER. THE MUSTACHED DRIVER COULD BE ANYTHING – LET US SAY ARAB, BUT THE THREE PASSENGERS UN-MISTAKENLY REPRESENT THE EARLY ZIONISTS – THE STUDENT, A STATUE OD A ROMAN EMPEROR REPRESENTING SECULAR HISTORY, AND AN AGRICULTURAL WORKER. MOVING ON THIS MORPHS INTO A UTILITY POLE CROSS-LIKE AND A SHIP THAT COULD BE EXODUS OR ANY OLDER SHIP THAT TOOK THE PIONEERS TO JAFFA.
THE RIGHT SIDE:
THEODOR HERZL STANDS NEXT TO AN UN-OCCUPIED CONFERENCE TABLE. HE HOLDS ONTO A CHAIR AS IF SPEAKING – BUT THERE ARE
THE BACK WALL IS AN EMPTY BEACH WITH A RED FIRE-LIKE HORIZON ON THE LEFT AND SOMETHING LIKE A SHIP OR IF YOU WISH AN OASIS ON THE RIGHT. NOW, IS THIS THE LAND THAT BECAME TEL AVIV TO THE NORTH OF JAFFA?
THE DONKEY AT THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ENTRANCE – THE CHARIOT THAT PASSES THE CROSS, HAS ON HIM RED STREAKS THAT BALANCE THE RED EXPANSE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LEFT WALL AND THAT ROUNDS INTO THE LEFT SIDE OF THE REAR WALL. THIS WHILE ON THE RIGHT WALL THE EMPTY TABLE IS BROWN WHILE HERZL IS WRAPPED IN GOLD.
DO WE SEE HERE HOW THE GOOD INTENTIONS OF THEODOR HERZL THAT BUILT TEL AVIV ON THE EMPTY BEACH THAT WAS NORTH OF JAFFA LEAD NEVERTHELESS, UNINTENTIONALLY, TO THE FLAMES THAT ACCOMPANIED THE SETTLEMENT OF TEL AVIV AND ISRAEL IN GENERAL?
DOES THE ARTIST, AN ISRAELI LIVING FOR MANY YEARS IN THE US, EXPRESS HERE AN OPINION ABOUT EVENTS IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL?
ONE THING I AM CONVINCED FOR SURE – IT WOULD BE A SACRILEGE TO SEE IN THE EXTRA EARS ON TOP OF THE GLASS CONSTRUCT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM A HINT TO THE CROWN ON A TORAH. THE WHOLE CONSTRUCTION IS NOTHING BUT SECULAR – A DEPICTION OF THE CREATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND THE FIRE IT CREATED UNINTENTIONALLY. THERE WAS THIS NAIVITE OF DOING THE MESSIAH’S WORK WITH A DONKEY, BUT THEN THE REALITY HIT THAT SOME PEOPLE WERE ALREADY THERE AND CONSTRUCTION BROUGHT ABOUT FIRES.
THE MEANING OF THE INSTALLATION IS TO BE FOUND IN THE COLORS, NOT JUST THE SHAPES. THE GOLD, BROWN AND RED ARE THE GIVE-AWAY OF THE ARTISTS FEELINGS TO THE SUBJECT OF HIS ENVIRONMENTAL CONFIGURATION.
Natan Dvir for The New York Times
Izhar Patkin at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan, where his exhibition “The Messiah’s glAss” includes a glass palanquin with a donkey’s head and testicles, and painted tulle veils on the walls.
Patkin was born in Israel in 1955 and came to the US in 1977. He made an impact in the mid-1980s with The Black Paintings – white ink on black rubber curtains – a visual adaptation of Jean Gene’s play The Black’s: a Clown Show. His work was being marketed by the gallery owner – Holly Solomon, Later he worked with the Kasmiri poet – Agha Shalid Ali. Both these people and four other close friends died in 2001 and this led to 10 years of Mr. Patkin being away from the New York art scene. This show is sort of a come-back for him.
On the nature of the installation – Patkin said to the curator that for him “Cinema and Duchamp changed everything in painting. When I was a student, Super-8 films., performance art, and documentation of performance were the door out of the canvas ghetto. That door was very seductive. Yodat it is video, but I’m still in love with the promise of painting, and its object. For me, the curtain is a canvas. It’s not meant to be a curtain over a window. It’s meant to occupy the space of painting.”
Chris Stevens’s legacy is – Let’s take THE BETTER WORLD CAMPAIGN seriously. Think how the UN Foundation and its helpers, including bloggers, can hold the UN responsible for this. The Social Good Summit, at The 92nd Street Y, September 22-24, 2012, will pre-empt the UN General Assembly. In effect talks start very timely already all day, Friday, September 14, 2012.
Peter Yeo Statement on Attacks in Benghazi, Libya
Responding to the attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya Tuesday, Peter Yeo, Vice President of Public Policy at the United Nations Foundation and Executive Director of the Better World Campaign made the following statement.
September 12, 2012
Responding to the attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya Tuesday, Peter Yeo, Vice President of Public Policy at the United Nations Foundation and Executive Director of the Better World Campaign made the following statement.
“I had the privilege of working with Chris Stevens several years ago during his time at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Chris was a 21-year veteran of the Foreign Service, and he served his country then just as he did in Libya – with a deep, selfless commitment to our nation and the democratic values we hold dear. As a Staff Assistant at the Bureau, Chris brought his sharp intellect and a sense of equanimity that bettered the work of all those around him, myself included. And as Ambassador, he operated with those same qualities as he saw through a transition to justice. His loss—along with the losses of the three brave Americans who also perished in this senseless attack—is mourned by all Americans, and truly all democracy-loving citizens of the globe.”
Peter Yeo and the US strain ready to work for a better joint future with al Nations and even the UN body – sometimes – if it be needed – against that latter body but from within – and sometimes – if needed – by providing positive example to the people directly – be they helped by their ow governments or not – is later this month involved in the SOCIAL GOOD SUMMIT that will preempt the UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
Engagement at UN ensures U.S. leadership role
Pundits have long debated how much a VP pick can sway voters come Election Day. Yet, cycle after cycle, we find that running mates impact the dynamics of the ticket. Joe Biden enhanced the ticket’s foreign affairs gravitas in 2008, and Paul Ryan brings regional appeal in 2012. These ‘number twos’ are carefully chosen to bolster candidates’ strengths and fill gaps where weaknesses exists.
Just as presidential candidates need strong partners, so too does our nation as a whole. The U.S. cannot advance international security alone, nor should it have to. That’s exactly why the next administration must keep its running mate — the United Nations — by its side. Read More >>
Social Good Summit 2012!
From your computer or mobile phone you can join business leaders, activists and celebrities in a global conversation about challenges facing our planet and how we can all be a part of working toward solutions. Learn more >>
In preparation thre will be on Friday, September 14, 2012, 8:00 AM, and going on all day a -
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION relating to “How to create a Culture of Peace from a culture of war? OVER 20 speakers and 8 member states will be speaking on THE CULTURE OF PEACE — YOU are all invited. In the am you will be greeted by inspirations, convened by President of the General Assembly H. E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. The Forum will have an opening ceremony, when the President and Secretary-General will speak, followed by two panel discussions in the North Lawn Conf 2.
Please see also our posting of 2009 -
The Guardian implies that EXTINCTION IS A MATTER FOR UNESCO – Human traditional culture is profoundly rooted in nature and not in robots – yet human activity causes the disappearance of entire species of plants and animals.
The Sixth Extinction Menaces the Very Foundations of Culture
By Jonathan Jones, Guardian UK
08 September 2012
n a cave in south-west France an extinct animal materialises out of the dark. Drawn in vigorous black lines by an artist in the ice age, a woolly mammoth shakes hairs that hide its face and vaunts slender tusks that reach almost to the ground.
Those tusks were not dangerous enough to save it. As human hunters advanced on its icy haunts, mammoths faced extinction between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. The end of the ice age did for these shaggy cold-lovers, but humans helped: entire huts built from mammoth tusks and bones have been found.
We didn’t mean to help make the mammoth extinct. The wonderful portrait of a mammoth in Pech Merle cave reveals that early homo sapiens was fascinated by these marvellous creatures. This masterpiece of cave art is as acute as any modern work of naturalist observation. The hunters who painted in caves showed the same passion for the natural world as their descendants do. Their culture must have been bereft when the mammoth vanished – even as they helped it on its way.
In the 21st century the same paradox endures. Human activity endangers entire species, yet human culture is profoundly rooted in nature. The loss of a species is also a loss of the images, stories, symbols and wonders that we live by – to call it a cultural loss may sound too cerebral: what we lose when we lose animals is the very meaning of life. Those first artists in ancient caves portrayed animals far more than they portrayed people. It was in the wild herds around them that the power of the cosmos and the mystery of existence seemed to be located.
No species in modern times embodies that fascination more fully than the tiger, one of today’s most endangered predators. Since the Romantic age tigers have been endowed in art and literature with the marvellous essence of life itself, a primeval power like the enigmatic strangeness the stone age artist saw in a mammoth. “What immortal hand or eye,/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” wonders William Blake in his 1794 poem The Tyger. That same childlike awe – Blake’s poem appears in his child’s eye Songs of Innocence and Experience – is shared by Henri Rousseau’s 1891 paintingSurprised! of an archetypal tiger in a fantastic jungle.
These artistic hymns to the tiger are just the noblest expressions of an imagery that pervades modern culture from tigers who come to tea to tigers with neat feet. It just seems unimaginable that a creature so familiar in our shared dreams should vanish from the natural world. Human culture would lose immeasurably from such a disappearance. And what about sharks? More ancient than dinosaurs,under threat for the first time in their mind-bogglingly long history, these creatures feed modern culture some of its darkest folklore. Shark films and scare stories are the modern equivalent of stone age hunters telling tales about bears and wolves around the fire. We fear them, but our culture needs them.
Cute creatures as well as scary ones inspire the stories and myths that humans cannot live without. Amphibians, most threatened animal group of all, are among the most universal stars of culture. While Blake was marvelling at tigers, the Grimms recorded the folk tale of the frog-prince. Long before that Plato said the ancient Greeks were like frogs around a pond. Aristophanes wrote a comedy called The Frogs. American frogs were depicted by the Aztecs as well as providing Amazonian peoples with arrow poison. The very naming of poison dart frogs reveals how deeply they are associated with cultures that are themselves on the brink of extinction.
In Britain too, the amphibious denizens of threatened waterlands have always inspired imaginations. Could our culture survive without Toad of Toad Hall?
Not so long ago British beaches were seasonally covered with “mermaid’s purses”, the eggs of sharks and rays. The name reveals how deeply nature feeds folk culture, in Britain as in the Amazon. Is it possible still to find masses of mermaid’s purses on the Welsh rocks where I used to wonder what they were? I have to look for them with my daughter soon, before it is too late. The range of animals and plants threatened by the sixth extinction - as covered by the Guardian over this fortnight – is such that it menaces the foundations of culture as well as the diversity of nature. We are part of nature and it has always fed our imaginations. We face the bare walls of an empty museum, a gallery of the dead.
On Algerian UN Arab-oil trouble-shooter Lakhdar Brahimi and UNSG Ban Ki-moon, thanks to Internet-Stats, we were reminded that we had an old February 2008 article. Interesting – it is read by people now – and we re-post it here.
Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and now Egypt – for the US – Oh My – it is a tangle that requires the understanding that each of these have governments in States of complex nature – you just cannot step in with two right feet.
TOP NEWS as per The New York Times, August 18, 2012 Front Page.
By JAMES RISEN and DURAID ADNAN
Financial institutions and oil-smuggling operations in Iraq have given Iran a crucial flow of dollars as sanctions over its nuclear work squeeze its economy, officials and experts said.
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and GRAHAM BOWLEY
The military’s efforts to stop “insider attacks” is an indication of how destabilizing the deaths of coalition troops at the hands of Afghan forces have become.
Algerian Former Foreign Minister and UN Elder, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi gets Syria mediation job while the last UN observers leave Syria as their mission is being discontinued. He is a super-pragmatist and will re-invent the mediation task and seemingly will come down on the Assads’ side. The rebels will get only food and tears. In the past – Brahimi stopped wars and laid the ground for future wars.
ON BRAHIMI – the secret weapon of the UN – see please in German:
UN Observers Leave Syria As Mandate Expires
By Conal Urquhart, Guardian UK
18 August 2012
nited Nations observers have begun to leave Damascus as their mission in Syria comes to an end.
The last 100 out of 300 observers have been departing throughout Saturday – their mandate expires after midnight on Sunday – as their commander spoke of his frustration at being unable to minimise the violence.
General Babacar Gaye said both rebels and government forces were failing to carry out their duty to protect civilians. “Initially the ceasefire was respected, violence decreased and we were able to do our work throughout the country,” he said.
“By the middle of June it was clear that the parties were no longer committed to the ceasefire and the result has been an escalation in violence.”
The departure of the UN observers came as the UN appointed a new mediator to replace Kofi Annan. Lakhdar Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, has said he does not know how he will carry out his role, although he believes it is too early to say whether President Bashar al-Assad should step down.
Brahimi said he was aware of the divisions in the security council which hastened Annan’s departure and would discuss his objectives this week in New York.
“When I go to New York I will be asking for lots of things. How to organise ourselves, whom we are going to talk to, what kind of plan we are going to put together,” he told Reuters.
Turkey has begun handing out food and other humanitarian aid to Syrians on their shared border, Turkey’s disaster and emergency body said on Saturday.
“The distribution of humanitarian aid by our country right on the border with Syria has begun,” Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said in a statement.
Turkey has told the United Nations of the new practice and has opened a centre in its south-eastern town of Gaziantep to receive international aid, AFAD said, adding that it needed dried, tinned and baby food, bedding and personal hygiene items.
According to aid agencies, the humanitarian situation in Syria has deteriorated as fighting escalates, cutting off civilians from food supplies, healthcare and other assistance.
The UN refugee agency says that more than 170,000 Syrians have been registered as refugees in neighbouring countries – Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government denied reports on Saturday that President Bashar al-Assad’s deputy Farouq al-Sharaa had tried to defect to Jordan.
The vice-president’s office said he “never thought for a moment about leaving the country”, as government forces pressed an offensive against rebels, bombarding parts of Aleppo in the north and hitting an insurgent-held town in the oil-producing east.
Starting the second look process that involves VP contender Paul Ryan, but alas – he is not running for the Presidency yet. A preponderance of interesting finds – since 1884 the Ryans benefitted from public funding to private firms.
By JENNIFER BURNS
Paul Ryan and his fellow conservatives embrace only the economic aspects of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, forgetting the parts that don’t fit with their ideology.
By ROSS DOUTHAT
The vice-presidential candidate is single-handedly responsible for saving the Republican Party from some of its own worst impulses.
Columbia FDI Perspectives
Perspectives on topical foreign direct investment issues by – the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment
No. 76 August 13, 2012
Editor-in-Chief: Karl P. Sauvant (Karl.Sauvant@law.columbia.edu)
Managing Editor: Jennifer Reimer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A good business reason to support mandatory transparency in extractive industries
by Perrine Toledano and Julien Topal
Perrine Toledano (email@example.com) is the Lead Economics and Policy Researcher at the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC);
Julien Topal (Julien.Topal@eui.eu) is a PhD-researcher at the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the European University Institute, Florence, Italy, and a Research Associate at the VCC.
The authors wish to thank Laurent Coche, Matthew Genasci, Isabel Munilla, and Jessica van Onselen for their helpful peer reviews.
The views expressed by the authors of this Perspective do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Columbia University or its partners and supporters. Columbia FDI Perspectives (ISSN 2158-3579) is a peer-reviewed series.
The material in this Perspective is reprinted by permission of the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment. and is accompanied by the following acknowledgment: “Perrine Toledano and Julien Topal, “A good business reason to support mandatory transparency in extractive industries?” - Columbia FDI Perspectives, No. 76 August 13, 2012. (www.vcc.columbia.edu).
Transparency demands in extractive industries are tied to the complex paradoxical correlation between significant resource endowment and poverty in many resource-dependent countries. Citizens of these countries and international investors alike only have limited means to scrutinize money-flows between governments and companies, disrupting accountability mechanisms.
Improving accountability and access to information is a step toward ending the resource curse. Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act, known as the Cardin-Lugar Transparency Amendment, requires extractive companies listed at US-securities exchanges to disclose all payments made to host country governments on a country-by-country and project-by-project basis. Amid corporate opposition, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has only now, more than one year late and after Oxfam America started court proceedings and over 65 Congress members put pressure on the SEC, set a date to vote on the rules.  However, despite opposition, there is a business case to be made in support of such mandatory transparency demands.
The debate on the Transparency Amendment has, very broadly, two camps: the opponents — most expressively represented by the American Petroleum Institute — and the proponents, including civil society with Publish What You Pay (PWYP) as the main supporter, groups of investors and certain congressional members. While supporting the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), the corporate lobby opposes the SEC rules for allegedly causing high implementation costs, opposing legal demands and a comparative disadvantage for US-listed companies. The second camp has challenged these claims and has argued in favor of the amendment as a promising answer to the limitations of the voluntary EITI.
Companies maintain that implementation costs can exceed US$ 50 million since they will have to re-devise their accounting instruments to disclose project-based and non-material information. Civil society and even The Economist have contested the veracity of this claim, noting that much information is already collected and calculating that US$ 50 million is little more than 0.1% of ExxonMobil’s last year’s revenue. The claims that demands of the Transparency Amendment contradict host country confidentiality laws are also ill placed.  Civil society rebutted this claim by demonstrating that most countries allow for exceptions based on stock exchanges’ disclosure demands.
There is no denying that a certain short-term competitive disadvantage is created for impacted companies — although the European Council’s directive for mandatory payment disclosure limits the scope of not-covered competition. Companies contend they will lose bids either because host countries prefer non-disclosing companies or because disclosed information is commercially sensitive. Here is the reality-check: Angola just awarded deep water oil blocks to Statoil, Eni, Total, and BP, which are all EITI-supporters and covered by the Amendment, which incidentally only deals with non-commercially-sensitive fiscal information widely shared by the industry. Lastly, the competitive disadvantage argument is unduly cynical. Part of the complaint has to do with the limitations on bypassing the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act by “creatively” bribing through either “facilitators” or local partnerships. Bribery is illegal both in the US and Europe; “[k]eeping it hard to expose would not make it more legal.”
Companies have a choice to play either destructive or constructive roles in the quest for transparency.
The choice consists of either accepting narrow capitalism — which prescribes short-term profitability and concomitant opposition to regulatory limitations on corporate operations — or believing in a forward-looking and long-term shared value approach to business. Through a shared value lens, companies seek out benefits for both shareholders and the communities in which they operate since the companies understand that they require a social license to operate to attain long-term success. Increasingly, investors seek out companies based on such long-term credentials.
Various studies by the Vale Columbia Center found that transparency — measured by companies’ country-by-country reporting — holds a promise for better corporate performance. One such study showed a clear correlation between transparency and better financial results along different measures. Interestingly, those transparent companies are also associated with fewer cases of human rights abuse.
Corporate leaders should change tactics and transform a short-term comparative disadvantage into the comparative advantage of being first-movers. This means to follow in the footstep of BP’s former CEO and support recent attempts by the US President to encourage the development of a global transparency regime, which will be achieved either by pushing other stock exchanges — starting with Europe — to follow suit or by improving on the disclosure demands of the current host country-led EITI. For their own sakes, companies should acknowledge that the transparency moment is now and the stakes are high.
 The vote is scheduled for August 22, 2012. Securities and Exchange Commission, available at: www.sec.gov/news/openmeetings/2012/ssamtg082212.htm.
 “Extracting oil, burying data,” The Economist, February 25, 2012.
Angola, Cameroon, China, and Qatar have such laws according to API and Shell. API’s letter, January 28, 2011: available at:www.sec.gov/comments/s7-42-10/s74210-10.pdf. PWYP US (www.sec.gov/comments/s7-42-10/s74210-29.pdf andwww.sec.gov/comments/s7-42-10/s74210-118.pdf) and the Cameroonian organization RELUFA (www.sec.gov/comments/s7-42-10/s74210-96.pdf) deny these claims.
 “Transparency rules,” Financial Times editorial, February 26, 2012.
 John Browne, “Europe must enforce oil sector transparency,” Financial Times, April 24, 2012.
For further information, including information regarding submission to the Perspectives, please contact: Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, Jennifer Reimer, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC – www.vcc.columbia.edu), led by Lisa Sachs, is a joint center of Columbia Law School and The Earth Institute at Columbia University. It seeks to be a leader on issues related to foreign direct investment (FDI) in the global economy. VCC focuses on the analysis and teaching of the implications of FDI for public policy and international investment law.
Most recent Columbia FDI Perspectives
Karl P. Sauvant, Ph.D.
Please visit our website - www.vcc.columbia.edu
Can Syria still go the Yemen way despite all that mutual killing? An Alawite (for Russia), Kurd (for what history demands), and Sunni (for the Arabs of the Gulf and the US) – mini-States in a Federation and a potential come-back of the Assads to hold the knot (for Israel). At the UN, Matthew Russell Lee looks at Mr. Ban Ki-moon and the ways to find a new Koffi Annan.
A month old article we did not post at that time, and an update:
On Syria, Insider Spins ICP on Division Into 3 – Alawites by Coast for Russian Port.
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, July 11, updated – After a full day of Syria action at the UN Security Council, a non Council member offered a cynic’s explanation for it to Inner City Press on Wednesday night.
“They aim to divide Syria into three,” the diplomat told Inner City Press, “with the Alawites controlling a small strip by the coast, so Russia can have a port. The Kurds will get their piece, and of course the Sunnis. It will be federalism, it will all be constructive ambiguity like in Iraq. But it will happen.”
Inner City Press asked the diplomat if as expected given his position he agreed with Qatar arming the Syrian opposition. “Of course not,” he said, “it’s destructive. But who is going to stop them?”
The reason, he said, for the West’s cautious approach on Syria is that simply removing Assad without having a successor ready would put Israel’s border at risk. “And no one has emerged,” he continued.
“The best model is Yemen, with the technical step down of Ali Saleh, no ICC, and he can return later. That’s what’s needed here.”
Another UN source protested that “Assad has killed too many,” that he must go to the Hague.
The main source and cynic laughed. “You are being idealistic, that’s not how these things work. They are arranged among the P-5, and they happen. And until World War Three, the Security Council will not be reformed.”
While this last may be true, Inner City Press pointed out that the cynic’s theory had a number of problems, not least the massive ethnic cleansing required and even in one view underway, with backing from the Gulf.
But the cynic like the debate had moved on.
Hunting Lodges for Arab Kings that replace the Maasai of Tanzania is not Development. Avaaz.org points at renewed danger to the Maasai – the tribe that are the real owners of the land that is home to lyons and leopards.
from: Sam Barratt - Avaaz.org
Middle Eastern kings and princes are about to force up to 48,000 people in Tanzania from their land to make way for corporate-sponsored big game hunting. But Tanzanian President Kikwete has shown before that he will stop deals like this when they generate negative press coverage. Deliver a media blitz that will push President Kikwete to stop the landgrab and save these Maasai.
At any moment, a big-game hunting corporation could sign a deal which would force up to 48,000 members of Africa’s famous Maasai tribe from their land to make way for wealthy Middle Eastern kings and princes to hunt lions and leopards. Experts say the Tanzanian President’s approval of the deal may be imminent, but if we act now, we can stop this sell-off of the Serengeti.
The last time this same corporation pushed the Maasai off their land to make way for rich hunters, people were beaten by the police, their homes were burnt to a cinder and their livestock died of starvation. But when a press controversy followed, Tanzanian President Kikwete reversed course and returned the Maasai to their land. This time, there hasn’t been a big press controversy yet, but we can change that and force Kikwete to stop the deal if we join our voices now.
If 150,000 of us sign, media outlets in Tanzania and around the world will be blitzed so President Kikwete gets the message to rethink this deadly deal. Sign the petition now and send to everyone:
The Maasai are semi-nomadic herders who have lived in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries, playing a critical role in preserving the delicate ecosystem. But to royal families from the United Arab Emirates, they’re an obstacle to luxurious animal shooting sprees. A deal to evict the Maasai to make way for rich foreign hunters is as bad for wildlife as it is for the communities it would destroy. While President Kikwete is talking to favoured local elites to sell them on the deal as good for development, the vast majority of people just want to keep the land that they know the President can take by decree.
President Kikwete knows that this deal would be controversial with Tanzania’s tourists — a critical source of national income – and is therefore trying to keep it from the public eye. In 2009, a similar royal landgrab in the area executed by the same corporation that is swooping in this time generated global media coverage that helped to roll it back. If we can generate the same level of attention, we know the pressure can work.
A petition signed by thousands can force all the major global media bureaus in East Africa and Tanzania to blow up this controversial deal. Sign now to call on Kikwete to kill the deal:
Representatives from the Maasai community today urgently appealed to Avaaz to raise the global alarm call and save their land. Time and again, the incredible response from this amazing community turns seemingly lost causes into legacies that last a lifetime. Lets protect the Maasai and save the animals for tourists that want to shoot them with camera lenses, rather than lethal weapons!
With hope and determination,
Sam, Meredith, Luis, Aldine, Diego, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team
For More Information:
The Guardian: “Tourism is a curse to us”
News Internationalist Magazine: “Hunted down”
Society for Threatened People: Briefing on the eviction of the Loliondo Maasai
FEMACT: Report by 16 human rights investigators & media on violence in Loliondo
Voices of Loliondo: Short film from Loliondo on impact of eviction on Maasai
August 9th is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People as recognized by the UN. This is a loaded theme when you think of the way most of the UN Member States are the result of a carving exercise by a few Colonising States.
Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
August 9 was first proclaimed International Day of the World’s Indigenous People by the United Nations in 1994 to promote and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous population.
This day also commemorates the achievements and contributions that Indigenous people make in the world.
Today also marks the first time the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations met in Geneva in 1982.
The focus of this year’s International Day is ”Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices.”
5 things you can do to celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
People around the world are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message on Indigenous Peoples.
Engage your friends and family and raise awareness about endangered languages by sending an e-postcard with a Native language audio greeting.
Demand that Herkales Farm respect the rights of Oroko, Bakossi, and Upper Bayang peoples in Cameroon by stopping oil palm plantations from destroying the rainforests that Indigenous people depend on. Send an email.
3. Watch a Live Webcast of the International Day Celebration at the UN Headquarters in NY. 2:30pm – 6:00pm EST.
This special event at UN Headquarters in New York on August 9 will feature speakers and videos of Indigenous media organizations. On Twitter, use #UNIndigenousDay for regular updates and for sending questions to panel members in the days leading up to and during the event. Watch it here:
4. Support Cultural Survival’s work with Indigenous Peoples. Make a gift today. Our work is only possible because of people like you, who believe in and support our mission to partner with Indigenous Peoples to defend their lands, languages, and cultures.
5. Spread the Word! One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is raise awareness about Indigenous Peoples. Forward, post this message on facebook, or tweet it!
As always, we welcome your comments. Please send your feedback and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cultural Survival is a global leader in the fight to protect Indigenous lands, languages, and cultures around the world. In partnership with Indigenous Peoples, we advocate for Native communities whose rights, cultures, and dignity are under threat. For more information go to www.cs.or.
the second Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24–27, 2012, in Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska – SOME SEE THE CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE ARCTIC AS A CHALLENGE OF OPPORTUNITIES – THE REALISTS VERSUS OUR COMMON CRY – THIS IS A FOUL GAME!
Capitalism viewed through Quantum Mechanics results in our understanding of materialism, consumerism, commodification as a very one-sided view of the universe. Applying quantum mechanics science leads to the need of epic change in our relation to nature and ourselves.
Examining Capitalism Through Quantum Mechanics
As human beings, we don’t just construct social realities and social systems, but we literally help construct the physical universe of which we are a part. Therefore, understanding the relationship between human beings and the quantum reality of the universe becomes paramount if we seek to truly understand and transform the social and structural systems of inequality that we have created for ourselves.
According to quantum mechanics, the subatomic level of reality exists in an undifferentiated state of dynamic flux until a conscious observer measures it (or looks at it), thus, giving that matter a particular form. In other words, an atom is spread out all over the place as a wave of potential until a conscious observer localizes it as an actual particle through that very act of observation.
The famous double-slit experiment actually captured this protean nature of the quantum world. The double-slit experiment essentially launched particles through a single slit, whereby each particle left a residual mark on the back wall where it landed (creating a single band pattern). However, when particles were launched through two slits, they left a residual interference pattern on the back wall (which can only be created by waves that interfere with each other). Even when particles were launched through the two slits one at a time, they still created an interference pattern. (This occurrence is impossible according to classical quantum physics.) So, in order to figure out how this interference pattern was occurring, physicists placed a measuring device by the slits to observe the particles after they were launched. Astonishingly, when the particles were launched with the measuring device in place, they actually created a residual mark of a double band pattern (which was expected in the first place). What physicists determined was that, prior to being observed, each single particle actually existed as a wave of potentials that simultaneously went through both slits at the same time; thus interfering with itself and leaving a residual interference pattern. So in essence, conscious observation then collapses the quantum wave function of particles and thus localizes them at a fixed point.
Moreover, quantum superposition “holds that a physical system – such as an electron – exists partly in all its particular, theoretically possible states (or, configuration of its properties) simultaneously; but, when measured, it gives a result corresponding to only one of the possible configurations (as described in interpretation of quantum mechanics).”
The more we look at elementary particles, the more we realize that there is actually no such thing as one electron or one photon on its own. A particle exists only in relationship to the state that it finds itself in, with no generic or concrete form. So, the more we examine “solid matter” in great detail, the less solid it actually becomes.
(Photo: Earth with cogs and wheels via Shutterstock)
Now, contradictory to contemporary quantum mechanics is the traditional conception of solid matter as the “substance” of the universe. Why is this important? Because “belief that the substance of the universe is matter (or physical material) sets the precedent for people to accumulate as many material possessions and riches as possible [especially under the system of capitalism],” says UK author David Icke. Most of us in contemporary Western culture have been socialized to view the world through a consumerist lens (among a plethora of other social lenses) which implies that a solid, material realm objectively exists. Furthermore, the system of capitalism creates the conditions necessary for more and more people to actively participate in practices that perpetuate the misconception that a solid, material world inexorably dictates our perceptions and belief systems. Maximized material conquest and material gain becomes the modus operandi of a capitalistic system.
Further illuminating the nature of capitalism, Chris Hedges states:
Here we see some of the characteristics of neoliberal capitalism which subscribe to the notion that the world be defined in “material” terms. The ruling ideology of capitalism has sought out to extinguish any alternative thought or knowledge that understands the world in immaterial terms and replace it with the narrow ideology of materialism, consumerism, commodification. The more people who are complicit in capitalist ideology (among other forms of dominant ideologies), the stronger the possibilities become to fetishize and develop the concept of “the material.” all while the expropriation of vast forms of land, wealth, resources and capital become normalized and accepted. Furthermore, once all “material” resources have become accessed (or more importantly not accessed by the majority of people), exploited and exhausted, then the majority of people become even more subjected to the harsh and misleading conditions that capitalism inflicts upon them.
So, as far as quantum mechanics is concerned, capitalism is based on the (false) assumption that an absolute “material” world actually exists “out there.” Traditional criticisms of capitalism typically focus on the exploitation of labor and human bodies, as well as massive class inequalities and social injustice; however, they leave out one crucial aspect in it all: that capitalist ideology and capitalist operation mislead us about the nature of the universe (which includes the nature of ourselves since we are part of the universe, as well). With that said, we can actually use our knowledge of quantum mechanics to transform our perceptions about the world around us, thus alleviating some of the conditions that capitalism creates for us. Even Einstein alluded to the idea that we can utilize science to “potentially change the world itself” by using “rational thinking and technology to improve the conditions in which we live.” (1) As Peter Dreier states:
If Einstein could apply his knowledge of science and the quantum reality to social injustice and systemic inequality, then there is no reason that we cannot do the same here and now.
Given the fact that the underlying premise of capitalism acts in opposition to the principles of quantum mechanics and, therefore, the nature of the universe itself (as understood through quantum mechanics), then we should not be confounded in the least when we experience the destructive consequences of a system that is based on prodigious wealth and material accumulation. This systemic discord or imbalance is bound to perpetuate the likes of environmental devastation and vast human suffering. Furthermore, one of the unspoken consequences of capitalistic operation is the alienation from one’s humanity and from nature. Not only are we inundated by a social and economic matrix of domination every single day, but that very matrix detaches us from the universe (or nature) in a sense. So, we should not just look to eradicate the deleterious conditions of capitalism, but rather, we should look to understand and work in accordance with the universe, so that destructive systemic conditions do not even come into existence in the first place.
Consequently, when we look at the world through the lens of quantum mechanics, we see that the economic systems of capitalism, socialism and communism actually have more in common with each other since they all are based on material acquisition and distribution and on the assumption that our world is a fundamentally material realm. However, we can use quantum mechanics to create an entirely new way of viewing and operating inside of the world, which would require a drastic philosophical and ideological change of epic proportion. Epic change, perhaps, is a concept that we may need to start entertaining.
Lastly, as if world hunger, poverty, class inequality, sickness and disease, permanent war and ecological ruination weren’t enough to present a critical case against capitalism, then consider the following. In relative terms to the rest of the entire universe, quantum mechanics shows us just how narrow, constrictive and destructive the system of capitalism actually is.
(1) Dreier, Peter. 2012. “Albert Einstein: Radical Citizen and Scientist.” Truthout, June 25.
This article is a Truthout original.