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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

OPINION | Op-Ed Contributor to the New York Times, December 18, 2014

Coal, an Outlaw Enterprise

By ROBERT F. KENNEDY Jr.

The outsize influence and campaign donations of King Coal subvert democracy in Appalachia.

 www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/opinio…

###

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

 

    Tax Breaks That Are Killing the Planet

 The comments show how deep is the Republican brainwashing of the population. You have here pundits for whom loss of life is nothing when compared to what they think is the right of corporations to make a profit.

What is even worse, nobody asked whose oil and coal is it anyway?  If Natural Resources are the property of the Whole Nation, then why should a company get depletion subsidies for their appropriating to themselves the natural National treasures? The whole system of paying royalties is inadequate – but the payment to them for the deletion of the resources is ridiculous. Getting a bonus for gains from misappropriated resources is much more like rewarding the CEOs for being great thieves! Just give it some more rational thinking and use the babble of the comments as your guideline.   ST.info editor)

###

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

As received from CNN just now:

A massive storm system moving across the South caused a tornado near Adairsville, Georgia, 60 miles north of Atlanta. Local TV stations are showing dozens of cars overturned on Interstate 75 and several buildings damaged. All lanes of the interstate are blocked in both directions near Adairsville, the Georgia Department of Transportation reports.

At least one storm death has been reported in Georgia.

In Tennessee, a man died when high winds knocked a tree onto his home in Nashville, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said. Other injuries were reported in Chester, McNairy and Henderson counties, spokesman Jeremy Heidt said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Javier Jaén  
Op-Ed Contributor to The New York Times

Socializing as a Political Tool.

By JON MEACHAM
Published: November 25, 2012

IN this hour of reflexive partisan division, with Americans frustrated by Washington’s seeming inability to address significant fiscal questions, among other issues, an inevitable question arises: Can President Obama do anything to create enough good will to pass some lasting reforms?

Here is a modest proposal, one drawn from the presidency of another tall, cool, cerebral politician-writer: use the White House and the president’s personal company to attempt to weave attachments and increase a sense of common purpose in the capital. Dinners with the president — or breakfast or lunch or coffee or drinks or golf — won’t create a glorious bipartisan Valhalla, but history suggests that at least one of our greatest presidents mastered the means of entertaining to political effect.

During both of his terms, on the eve of each Congressional session, President Thomas Jefferson warned friends that, in our vernacular, he was about to go offline. “As Congress will meet this day week, we begin now to be in the bustle of preparation,” he wrote a family member. “When that begins, between the occupations of business and of entertainment, I shall become an unpunctual correspondent.”

Hours that Jefferson might have devoted to seeing friends in Washington or to writing letters were to be consumed instead by his pursuit of a fairly constant campaign of using his social hours — and particularly his dinner table — as a way of making the rougher edges of politics smooth. He believed that sociability was essential to republicanism. Men who liked and respected and enjoyed one another were more likely to cultivate the virtuous habits that would truly enable the nation’s citizens to engage in “the pursuit of happiness.” An affectionate man living in harmony with his neighbors was more likely to understand the mutual sacrifices of opinion necessary to a republic’s success.

In late 1801, Jefferson’s Washington routine had settled into what he called “a steady and uniform course.” He began the day working at his writing table, doing paperwork and receiving callers from early morning until midday; that gave him, he figured, “an interval of 4 hours for riding, dining and a little unbending.” At noon he tried to leave the President’s House for a ride or a walk before returning at about 4, when he became “engaged with company.” He entertained constantly, handsomely and with a purpose. Guests were entranced anew by his “easy, candid and gentle manners.”

Jefferson’s dinner campaigns were intensely practical. He believed in constant conversation between the president and lawmakers, for “if the members are to know nothing but what is important enough to be put in a public message,” Jefferson wrote, “it becomes a government of chance and not of design.” The Jefferson strategy largely worked. In the Jefferson years, from 1801 to 1809, Republicans were heard to acknowledge that “the President’s dinners had silenced them” at moments when they were inclined to vote against the administration.

Entertaining also softened his foes. The Federalist Senator William Plumer of New Hampshire had begun his Washington career with predictably harsh views of Jefferson. Early on, Plumer dismissed Jefferson as the leader of a “feeble, nerveless administration.” As the years passed, Plumer’s opinion of the president, formed at close quarters, evolved from hostility to respect: “The more critically and impartially I examine the character and conduct of Mr. Jefferson the more favorably I think of his integrity,” he wrote in 1806.

Yet Jefferson could be ruthless about the use of his limited time in power. To create an ethos of supra-partisan civility would have required bringing politicians of opposing views together under his aegis. Jefferson had only four or eight years to impress himself on the country and was unwilling to waste any of those hours presiding over arguments, even polite ones, between differing factions at his table.

He chose, then, to use dinner at the President’s House to put himself and his own agenda at the center of things. He ended the more formal arrangements common to Presidents Washington and Adams, forbidding seating by precedence — he preferred “pell-mell,” or the more democratic practice of having guests sit where they chose. The gentle creation of disorder at dinner magnified his own strengths as a conversationalist.

Jefferson was under no utopian illusions about the efficacy of political entertaining. He knew that interests would always clash; as his presidential years went by, his goal was to ameliorate party differences, not eliminate them, since elimination was impossible. As he put it, though, “the ground of liberty is to be gained by inches.” So is the ground of governing, as we may hope the incumbent president realizes when his second term begins in earnest.

Jon Meacham is the author of “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.”

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

Op-Ed Contributor

A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy.

By WARREN E. BUFFETT

Written in Omaha, Nebraska. In print – November 26, 2012.

SUPPOSE that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”

Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.

Between 1951 and 1954, when the capital gains rate was 25 percent and marginal rates on dividends reached 91 percent in extreme cases, I sold securities and did pretty well. In the years from 1956 to 1969, the top marginal rate fell modestly, but was still a lofty 70 percent — and the tax rate on capital gains inched up to 27.5 percent. I was managing funds for investors then. Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered.

Under those burdensome rates, moreover, both employment and the gross domestic product (a measure of the nation’s economic output) increased at a rapid clip. The middle class and the rich alike gained ground.

So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.

And, wow, do we have plenty to invest. The Forbes 400, the wealthiest individuals in America, hit a new group record for wealth this year: $1.7 trillion. That’s more than five times the $300 billion total in 1992. In recent years, my gang has been leaving the middle class in the dust.

A huge tail wind from tax cuts has pushed us along. In 1992, the tax paid by the 400 highest incomes in the United States (a different universe from the Forbes list) averaged 26.4 percent of adjusted gross income. In 2009, the most recent year reported, the rate was 19.9 percent. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

The group’s average income in 2009 was $202 million — which works out to a “wage” of $97,000 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek. (I’m assuming they’re paid during lunch hours.) Yet more than a quarter of these ultrawealthy paid less than 15 percent of their take in combined federal income and payroll taxes. Half of this crew paid less than 20 percent. And — brace yourself — a few actually paid nothing.

This outrage points to the necessity for more than a simple revision in upper-end tax rates, though that’s the place to start. I support President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers. However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 — maybe $500,000 or so.

Additionally, we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.

Above all, we should not postpone these changes in the name of “reforming” the tax code. True, changes are badly needed. We need to get rid of arrangements like “carried interest” that enable income from labor to be magically converted into capital gains. And it’s sickening that a Cayman Islands mail drop can be central to tax maneuvering by wealthy individuals and corporations.

But the reform of such complexities should not promote delay in our correcting simple and expensive inequities. We can’t let those who want to protect the privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything.

Our government’s goal should be to bring in revenues of 18.5 percent of G.D.P. and spend about 21 percent of G.D.P. — levels that have been attained over extended periods in the past and can clearly be reached again. As the math makes clear, this won’t stem our budget deficits; in fact, it will continue them. But assuming even conservative projections about inflation and economic growth, this ratio of revenue to spending will keep America’s debt stable in relation to the country’s economic output.

In the last fiscal year, we were far away from this fiscal balance — bringing in 15.5 percent of G.D.P. in revenue and spending 22.4 percent. Correcting our course will require major concessions by both Republicans and Democrats.

All of America is waiting for Congress to offer a realistic and concrete plan for getting back to this fiscally sound path. Nothing less is acceptable.

In the meantime, maybe you’ll run into someone with a terrific investment idea, who won’t go forward with it because of the tax he would owe when it succeeds. Send him my way. Let me unburden him.

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

—————

Related in Opinion: Steven Rattner: More Chips For Tax Reform (November 25, 2012)

————–

And a non-starter that should be turned into a listener:

Opinions

A plan to dodge the ‘fiscal cliff’

By Senator Bob Corker,Nov 26, 2012 12:40 AM EST

The Washington Post Published: November 25

The writer, a Republican senator from Tennessee, is a member of the Senate Banking Committee.

In business I found that a challenging environment often produced our best opportunities. Perhaps that’s why I see the so-called “ fiscal cliff ” of year-end spending cuts and tax increases not as an impassable precipice but as our best opportunity to finally enact meaningful fiscal reform.

I hear Washington watchers and people in the hallways of Congress saying there is not enough time to get this done this year. I disagree. The hard part has already been done. Over the past two years, the options for reaching a $4 trillion deficit reduction deal have been drafted, charted, graphed, circulated, evaluated, dissected, leaked, reported, debated and then put on the shelf for another day.

That day has come.

The fiscal cliff is a deadline of the 112th Congress’s making. We have  had two dry runs over the past two years. No Congress is better suited to address these issues than this one. It is our responsibility to solve these problems now.

Kicking the can down the road — setting up a process for token deficit reduction today with the promise of more reforms later — is misguided and irresponsible and shows a total lack of courage.

At best, a “small” deal will leave us facing another cliff, selecting down the line from the same menu of policy options before us today. The only difference will be that the hole we’re digging out from will be even deeper. Instead of debating a process to employ during future negotiations, let’s choose from the options before us, which are more plentiful and less draconian than they will be down the road.

I have shared with House and Senate leaders as well as the White House a 242-page bill that, along with other agreed-upon cuts that are to be enacted, would produce $4.5 trillion in fiscal reforms and replace sequestration. While I know this bill can be improved, it shows clearly that we can do what is necessary, today, with relatively simple legislation. The proposal includes pro-growth federal tax reform, which generates more static revenue — mostly from very high-income Americans — by capping federal deductions at $50,000 without raising tax rates. It mandates common-sense reforms to the federal workforce, which will help bring its compensation in line with private-sector benefits, and implements a chained consumer price index across the government, a more accurate indicator of inflation. It also includes comprehensive Medicare reform that keeps in place fee-for-service Medicare without capping growth, competing side by side with private options that seniors can choose instead if they wish. Coupled with gradual age increases within Medicare and Social Security; the introduction of means testing; increasing premiums ever so slightly for those making more than $50,000 a year in retirement; and ending a massive “bed tax” gimmick the states use in Medicaid to bilk the federal government of billions, this reform would put our country on firmer financial footing and begin to vanquish our long-term deficit.

I am encouraged that leaders of both parties have shown openness toward a long-term solution. House Speaker John Boehner has pledged to put raising revenue on the table as long as it is accompanied with fundamental reforms to entitlements, especially Medicare. And President Obama has indicated a willingness to tackle entitlement reforms if accompanied by revenue.

The challenge we face isn’t one of intellect, aptitude or time; it’s a test of political courage.

The 112th Congress can be remembered as responsible elected leaders who put America on a path to fiscal solvency, unleashing a period of economic growth, job creation and innovation — a tremendous legacy. Or we can be known as a feckless Congress and a feckless president who abdicated this responsibility and continued to saddle the country with debt, uncertainty and a void of leadership. If we choose to rise to the occasion and place this fiscal issue firmly in the rear-view mirror, we can begin next year focusing on those things that ensure America’s greatest days still lie ahead.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Justices to Revisit Voting Act in View of a Changing South

By
The New York Times – Published: November 9, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would take a fresh look at the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement.

——————–

Related in Opinion  – Editorial: A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote (November 10, 2012)

——————–

Three years ago, the court signaled that part of the law may no longer be needed, and the law’s challengers said the re-election of the nation’s first black president is proof that the nation has moved beyond the racial divisions that gave rise to efforts to protect the integrity of elections in the South.

The law “is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp,” said Edward P. Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, a small legal foundation that helped organize the suit.

Civil rights leaders, on the other hand, pointed to the role the law played in the recent election, with courts relying on it to block voter identification requirements and cutbacks on early voting.

“In the midst of the recent assault on voter access, the Voting Rights Act is playing a pivotal role beating back discriminatory voting measures,” said Debo P. Adegbile, the acting president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the law, expected by June, could reshape how elections are conducted.

The case concerns Section 5 of the law, which requires many state and local governments, mostly in the South, to obtain permission, or “preclearance,” from the Justice Department or a federal court before making changes that affect voting. Critics of the law call the preclearance requirement a unique federal intrusion on state sovereignty and a badge of shame for the affected jurisdictions that is no longer justified.

The preclearance requirement, originally set to expire in five years, was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1966 as a rational response to the often flagrantly lawless conduct of some Southern officials then.

Congress has repeatedly extended the requirement: for 5 years in 1970, 7 years in 1975, and 25 years in 1982. Congress renewed the act in 2006 after holding extensive hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination at the polls, again extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years.

But it made no changes to the list of jurisdictions covered by Section 5, relying instead on a formula based on historical practices and voting data from elections held decades ago. It applies to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states.

Should the court rule that Congress was not entitled to rely on outdated data to decide which jurisdictions should be covered, lawmakers could in theory go back to the drawing board and re-enact the law using fresher information. In practice, given the political realities, a decision striking down the coverage formula would probably amount to the end of Section 5.

In May, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge to the law filed by Shelby County, Ala. Judge David S. Tatel, writing for the majority, acknowledged that “the extraordinary federalism costs imposed by Section 5 raise substantial constitutional concerns,” and he added that the record compiled by Congress to justify the law’s renewal was “by no means unambiguous.”

“But Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered,” he went on. The constitutional amendments ratified after the Civil War, he said, “entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote — surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution — is not abridged on account of race. In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the people’s elected representatives.”

The dissenting member of the panel, Judge Stephen F. Williams, surveyed recent evidence concerning registration and turnout, the election of black officials, the use of federal election observers and suits under another part of the law.

Some of that evidence, he said, “suggests that the coverage formula completely lacks any rational connection to current levels of voter discrimination,” while other evidence indicates that the formula, “though not completely perverse, is a remarkably bad fit with Congress’s concerns.”

“Given the drastic remedy imposed on covered jurisdictions by Section 5,” he wrote, “I do not believe that such equivocal evidence can sustain the scheme.”

The Supreme Court has already once considered the constitutionality of the 2006 extension of the law in a 2009 decision, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder. But it avoided answering the central question, and it seemed to give Congress an opportunity to make adjustments. Congress did not respond.

At the argument of the 2009 case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned whether the distinctions drawn in the 2006 law reflect contemporary realities.

“Congress has made a finding that the sovereignty of Georgia is less than the sovereign dignity of Ohio,” Justice Kennedy said. “The sovereignty of Alabama is less than the sovereign dignity of Michigan. And the governments in one are to be trusted less than the governments in the other.”

“No one questions the validity, the urgency, the essentiality of the Voting Rights Act,” he added. “The question is whether or not it should be continued with this differentiation between the states. And that is for Congress to show.”

In the end, the court, in an 8-to-1 decision, ducked the central question and ruled instead on a narrow statutory ground, saying the utility district in Austin, Tex., that had challenged the constitutionality of the law might be eligible to “bail out” from being covered by it. Still, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, was skeptical about the continued need for Section 5.

“The historic accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act are undeniable,” he wrote. But “things have changed in the South.

“Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity,” he wrote. “Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.

“The statute’s coverage formula is based on data that is now more than 35 years old,” he added,“and there is considerable evidence that it fails to account for current political conditions.”

Having said all of that, and acknowledging that the court’s alternative ruling had stretched the text of the statute, Chief Justice Roberts said the court should avoid deciding hard constitutional questions when it could. “Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today,” he wrote.

On Friday, in agreeing to hear the case, Shelby County v. Holder, No. 12-96, the court indicated that it is prepared to provide an answer to the question it left open three years ago.

—————————–

The New York Times Editorial

A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote

Published: November 9, 2012

The Supreme Court decided on Friday to review Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has been crucial in combating efforts to disenfranchise minority voters. The justices should uphold the validity of the section, which requires nine states and parts of several others with deep histories of racial discrimination to get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes to their voting rules.


The case, Shelby County v. Holder, was brought by an Alabama county, which contends that Section 5 intrudes unconstitutionally on the sovereign authority of states and that federal review of proposed voting changes, once needed to end legal segregation, is no longer required.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Just this year, Republican efforts to block the votes of minorities and the poor — which were rejected again and again by federal judges relying on the Voting Rights Act, including Section 5 — have made that utterly clear.

Judge John Bates of Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, rejected Shelby County’s challenge last year, noting that Congress, in renewing the section in 2006, found that “40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination.”

In May, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld his ruling, saying that discrimination in voting is “one of the gravest evils that Congress can seek to redress” and that Congress’s painstaking research in its renewal of Section 5 (22 hearings and 15,000 pages of evidence) “deserves judicial deference.”

In another voting rights case in 2009, the Supreme Court said there were “serious constitutional questions” about whether Section 5 meets a current need. That comment left some legal experts with the impression that the court came close to striking down the provision. But the justices did not do so in that case, and they have even less reason to in this case. Overt discrimination clearly persists and remains pernicious in places like Shelby County.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


from: Rabbi Michael Lerner     –    rabbiLerner.Tikkun at gmail.com

received today, October 30, 3012

Hurricane Sandy–when will they ever learn?

Editor’s note: ” Perhaps the most generous teaching of the God or Spiritual Reality of the Universe comes in the second paragraph of the Shma prayer (in Deuteronomy) where it tells us that if we do not create a world based on love, kindness, generosity, ethical and eoclogical sensitivity,social justice and peace then the world itself will not work, and there will be an environmental catastrophe and humans and all other animals are in danger of perishing.

This is not the words of an angry patriarch threatening to do this to us, but rather the kind warning that the universe is sending us that tells us that the ethical and the physical are intrinsically bound together in such a way that when we build a society based on greed, selfishness, materialism and endless consumption without regard to the consequences for the earth, disaster will follow. Growing up, I thought this an extravagant and foolish claim; but as an adult I encountered environmental science and learned that it was all true.

There are now a host of books that show the concrete steps that lead from ethical irresponsibility toward the earth and toward each other to the resulting environmental crisis (and we regularly review them in Tikkun magazine). Hurricane Sandy is only the latest manifestation of this truth, and compared with what is coming, a relatively mild reminder. Bill McKibben, who often writes about these issues in Tikkun www.tikkun.org, is interviewed (below) by Amy Goodman. It’s very well worth your time to read it.”– Rabbi Michael Lerner

Bill McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org [ 350.org/ ]. He is author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Greg Jones, climate scientist and professor of environmental studies at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Medford, Oregon, broadcasting from Southern Oregon Public Television.

Much of the East Coast is shut down today as
residents prepare for Hurricane Sandy, a massive
storm that could impact up to 50 million people
from the Carolinas to Boston. New York and other
cities have shut down schools and transit systems.
Hundreds of thousands of people have already been
evacuated. Millions could lose power over the next
day. The storm has already killed 66 people in the
Caribbean, where it battered Haiti and Cuba.

Meteorologists say Sandy could be the largest ever to
hit the U.S. mainland. While not as powerful as
Hurricane Katrina, the storm stretches a record 520
miles from its eye. Earlier this morning, the National
Hurricane Center said the hurricane’s wind speed
increased to 85 miles per hour with additional
strengthening possible. Describing it as a rare
hybrid “superstorm,” forecasters say Sandy was
created by an Arctic jet stream wrapping itself
around a tropical storm. The storm could cause up
to 12 inches of rain in some areas, as well as up to
three feet of snowfall in the Appalachian Mountains.
Flooding is also expected to be a major problem. The
National Weather Service has warned of record-level
flooding and “life-threatening storm surges” in
coastal areas. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
has announced it’s taking special precautions for
the storm. There are at least 16 nuclear reactors
located within the path of the storm. Six oil
refineries are also in the storm’s path.

While the news media have been covering Hurricane
Sandy around the clock, little attention has been
paid to the possible connection between the storm
and climate change. Scientists have long warned
how global warming would make North Atlantic
hurricanes more powerful. Just two weeks ago, the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
published a major study on the connection between
warmer sea surface temperatures and increase in
stronger Atlantic hurricanes. The report said, quote,
“In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude
events have been twice as frequent in warm years
compared with cold years.”

We begin today’s show with two guests. With me
here in Oregon, we’re joined by Greg Jones, climate
scientist and professor of environmental studies at
Southern Oregon University in Ashland. And joining
us by Democracy Now! video stream is Bill
McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org [ 350.org/ ]. He’s
author of numerous books, including Eaarth:
Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

On November 7th, 350.org [ 350.org/ ] is launching a 20-city nationwide tour called “Do the Math”
to connect the dots betweenextreme weather, climate change and the fossil fuel industry.


We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s start

with Bill McKibben. Bill, you’ve just made it back to
Vermont, to your home. Can you talk about the
significance of what the East Coast is facing right
now?

BILL McKIBBEN: Well, I think, Amy, that the first

thing is this is a storm of really historic proportion.
It’s really like something we haven’t seen before. It’s
half, again, the size of Texas. It’s coming across
water that’s near record warmth as it makes its way
up the East Coast. Apparently we’re seeing lower
pressures north of Cape Hatteras than have been
ever recorded before. The storm surge, which is
going to be the very worst part of this storm, is being
driven by that huge size and expanse of the storm,
but of course it comes in on water that’s already
somewhat higher than it would have been in the
past because of sea level rise. It’s-it’s a monster.
It’s-Frankenstorm, frankly, is not only a catchy
name; in many ways, it’s the right name for it. This
thing is stitched together from elements natural and
unnatural, and it seems poised to cause real havoc.
The governor of Connecticut said yesterday, “The
last time we saw anything like this was never.” And I
think that’s about right.

AMY GOODMAN: There certainly was a lack of
discussion, to put it mildly, in the presidential
debates around the issue of climate change.

BILL McKIBBEN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: I don’t think it was raised at all in
the three debates.

BILL McKIBBEN: How do you think Mitt Romney is
feeling this morning for having the one mention he’s
made the whole time? His big laugh line at the
Republican convention was how silly it was for
Obama to be talking about slowing the rise of the
oceans. I’d say that’s-wins pretty much every prize
for ironic right now.

There has been a pervading climate silence. We’re

doing our best to break that. Yesterday afternoon,
there was a demonstration in Times Square, a sort
of giant dot to connect the dots with all the other
climate trouble around the world. Overnight,
continuing in Boston, there’s a week-long vigil
outside Government Center to try and get the Senate
candidates there to address the issue of climate
change.

It’s incredibly important that we not only-I mean,

first priority is obviously people’s safety and
assisting relief efforts in every possible way, but it’s
also really important that everybody, even those
who aren’t in the kind of path of this storm, reflect
about what it means that in the warmest year in
U.S. history, when we’ve seen the warmest month,
July, of any month in a year in U.S. history, in a
year when we saw, essentially, summer sea ice in
the Arctic just vanish before our eyes, what it means
that we’re now seeing storms of this unprecedented
magnitude. If there was ever a wake-up call, this is
it.


AMY GOODMAN: Let me play the clip you’re referring

to of Mitt Romney at the Republican convention in
Tampa.

MITT ROMNEY: President Obama promised to
begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal
the planet. My promise is to help you and your
family.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Mitt Romney at the
conventions, but-at the Republican convention.
But again, when it came to the presidential debate,
neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney raised
the issue of climate change. I wanted to bring Greg
Jones, climate scientist and professor of
environmental studies here at Southern Oregon
University in Ashland, into the conversation. The
connection between the superstorm we’re seeing
and climate change?

GREG JONES: Well, this is clearly a very unique
event. And I-as a climate scientist, to some degree,
I kind of worry that these type of unique events are
clearly more frequent in the future. We have the
conditions that have produced something that could
be very damaging for the East Coast of the United
States, and I often wonder why we don’t seem more
of them. But, you know, the question is, today is, is
that where we are in terms of our climate science
understanding of these things, the rarity of this
event is what makes it very unique. And I think all
of the conditions came together to produce a
superstorm. And we’ve had a few that have been
close to this, but given the number of people
involved and the location where it’s coming
onshore, it’s a very problematic event.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill McKibben, what do you think
has to happen now? You have been traveling the
world, warning people, working with organizations
around the issue of climate change. Do you feel like
the kind of organizing you’re doing has an effect? I
mean, you see these three presidential debates.
Tens of millions of people watch them. They sort of
define the discourse in this country. And yet, not
raised in any-it’s not only the candidates don’t
raise them, the reporters who are the moderators of
these debates don’t raise the issue.

BILL McKIBBEN: Look, we’re up against the most

powerful and richest industry on earth, and the
status quo is their friend, and they want nothing to
change. And until we’re able to force them to the
table, as it were, very little will happen in
Washington or elsewhere. That’s why we launched
this huge tour, beginning the night after the
election, not coincidentally, in Seattle and
continuing around the country. You can find out
about it at math.350.org [ math.350.org/ ]. But the point is that we
really finally need to have this reckoning. Either the
fossil fuel industry keeps pouring carbon into the
atmosphere and we keep seeing this kind of event,
or we take some action.


Here’s the thing always to remember. The crazy

changes that we’re seeing now, the-you know, the
fact that we broke the Arctic this summer, the fact
that the oceans are 30 percent more acid, that’s all
that’s all happened when you raise the temperature
of the earth one degree. The same scientists who
told us that was going to happen are confident that
the temperature will go up four degrees, maybe five,
unless we get off coal and gas and oil very quickly.
And to do that, you know, it’s nice to talk to
Washington, but in certain ways Washington has
turned into customer service for the fossil fuel
industry. It’s time to take on that industry directly.

Not time today. Time today is to take care of people
all up and down the East Coast, to work in the relief
efforts, to get the message out as this storm heads
north. We in Vermont, knowing from last year, from
last year’s superstorm, Irene, have a pretty good idea
of just how traumatic this is going to be. So the
short-term effort is all about people. But the slightly
longer-term effort is to make sure that we’re not
creating a world where this kind of thing happens
over and over and over again.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill, you mentioned that the storm

is made up of elements both natural and unnatural.
What do you mean by that?

BILL McKIBBEN: Well, look, I mean, global warming
doesn’t cause hurricanes. We’ve always had
hurricanes. Hurricanes cause when a wave, tropical
wave, comes off the coast of Africa and moves on to
warm water and the wind shear is low enough to let
it form a circulation, and so on and so forth. But
we’re producing conditions like record warm
temperatures in seawater that make it easier for this
sort of thing to get, in this case, you know, up the
Atlantic with a head of steam. We’re making-we’re
raising the sea levels. And when that happens, it
means that whatever storm surge comes in comes in
from a higher level than it would have before. We’re
seeing-and there are a meteorologists-although I
don’t think this is well studied enough yet to really
say it conclusively, there are people saying that
things like the huge amount of open water in the
Arctic have been changing patterns, of big wind
current patterns, across the continent that may be
contributing to these blocking pressure areas and
things that we’re seeing. But, to me, that, at this
point, is still mostly speculation.

What really is different is that there is more
moisture and more energy in this narrow envelope
of atmosphere. And that energy expresses itself in
all kind of ways. That’s why we get these record
rainfalls now, time after time. I mean, last year, it
was Irene and then Lee directly after that. This year,
this storm, they’re saying, could be a thousand-year
rainfall event across the mid-Atlantic. I think that
means more rain than you’d expect to see in a
thousand years. But I could pretty much-I’d be
willing to bet that it won’t be long before we see
another one of them, because we’re changing the
odds. By changing the earth, we change the odds.

And one thing for all of us to remember today, even
as we deal with the horror on the East Coast, is that
this is exactly the kind of horror people have been
dealing with all over the world. Twenty million
people were dislocated by flood in Pakistan two
years ago. There are people with kind of existential
fears about whether their nations will survive the
rise of sea level. We’re seeing horrific drought not
just in the Midwest, but in much of the rest of the
world. This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened
on earth, climate change, and our response has to
be the same kind of magnitude.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill McKibben, why are you waiting

’til after the presidential election to have your 20-
city tour raising the issue, calling it “Do the Math”?

BILL McKIBBEN: Well, I mean, we’ve been involved
as we can be in the political fight, but we don’t want
this issue to go away when elections are over. Even
if Barack Obama wins, we do not want everybody to
just, “Oh, well, he’ll take care of it.” That’s what
happened four years ago. What we want is for-no
matter who wins and no matter who wins in the
Senate and the House, we want to put the fossil fuel
industry front and center and put real pressure on
them. We’re going to try and launch a divestment
movement that looks like the one around South
Africa a quarter-century ago. We’re going to be
bringing home the math that I described in a piece
in Rolling Stone this summer that went kind of
viral, explaining that the fossil fuel industry already
has five times more carbon in its inventory than
even the most conservative government thinks
would be safe to burn. And every day, they go out
looking for more. This is a rogue industry now. I
mean, if Sandy is a rogue storm, then, say, Exxon is
a rogue industry. They, in their inventory alone,
have more than 7 percent of the carbon necessary to
take us past two degrees. They’re outlaws not
against the laws of the state, but against the laws of
physics. And you begin to see the results of that
when you look around events like today’s.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

C2C Fellows is a national network for undergraduates and recent graduates aspiring to sustainability leadership in politics and business.

C2C stands for Campus to Congress, to Capitol, to City Hall, and also for Campus to Corporation. C2C stands for young people gaining control of their future.

C2C Fellows engages 300 students each year in intensive, weekend leadership trainings. Please consider: What skills and experiences are needed to become people of power, people with the ability to affect the future, within five to ten years? C2C then supports Fellows to gain these skills.

The US Constitution empowers citizens at age 25 to become members of Congress. Yet few young people even imagine pursuing this opportunity.

More students have been inspired by young business entrepreneurs. Yet few develop the leadership skills needed to launch a green business.

October 26th – 28th, 2012. University of Tennessee will hold a C2C Fellows: Southeast Workshop.    Download: C2CFellows_TN2012.pdf

The        Bard Center For Environmental Policy Logo is supporting the above.

Please see also –  http://www.bard.edu/cep/c2c/

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

On the eve of the opening of the yearly AIPAC Washington we consider also the reality mix of AIPAC preference for the Republican party (big business and America at large), and  the invocation by the US Administration of an unrealistic reliance on the United Nations as it is known to us.

The article we re-post here appeared in the Sunday New York Times, March 4, 2012,  ahead of the presentation President Obama was going to make at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – AIPAC 2012, a Washington DC, yearly Conference.

We have also the actual presentation by the President, and some scant reactions besides our own evaluation. We give that material at the end. Here we first explain our own title for the posting.

The Holocaust was mentioned by President Obama in the negative about Iran’s Government – this because of President Ahmedi-Nejad’s denial of the Holocaust – his intended  provocation to infuriate the civilized world – makes the Iranian Government unacceptable to the rest of the world – again – the civilized part of the world.

But what is not talked about is the fact that during WWII the Jewish leaders in America, those close to the Government and/or to the economic life of America, did not push at that time the Roosevelt Administration to bomb the transport lines to the extermination camps. That Jewish leadership was just not pushy enough to stand up for their brethren while they were being exterminated. The memory of this is the unspoken push for a stronger Jewish US position on Iran. This plus the economic interest of the leaders today, like what was probaby also the interest of the very upper part of Jewish leadership of the WWII days, prefer a more business oriented US Presidency – the Republicans rather then the Democrats. This is our old argument – this because of our material on environment, sustainable energy, and climate change, convinced us in years past that AIPAC stands up for petroleum energy – the American Oil lobby under a cover of National Energy production rather then of clean energy production. The money interests of this lobby rather then Israel’s real National interests; but now Israel feels it depends on AIPAC help because of Iran, and AIPAC prefers a change of Administration for many unrelated reasons when it comes to Israel.

Having said this we will now take a more conventional look at the news of the day – March 4, 2012.

Then, at the end of the posting we will update the long week-end’s events by adding how Washington looks on Tuesday, March 6, 2912 after the beatings of the drums on the subject Israel/Iran.

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


U.S. Backers of Israel Pressure Obama Over Policy on Iran

By 
Published: March 3, 2012 – in print March 4, 2012.

WASHINGTON — On the eve of a crucial visit to the White House by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, that country’s most powerful American advocates are mounting an extraordinary public campaign to pressure President Obama into hardening American policy toward Iran over its nuclear program.

From the corridors of Congress to a gathering of nearly 14,000 American Jews and other supporters of Israel here this weekend, Mr. Obama is being buffeted by demands that the United States be more aggressive toward Iran and more forthright in supporting Israel in its own confrontation with Tehran.

While defenders of Israel rally every year at the meeting of the pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, this year’s gathering has been supercharged by a convergence of election-year politics, a deepening nuclear showdown and the often-fraught relationship between the president and the Israeli prime minister.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu will both speak to the group, known as Aipac, as will the three leading Republican presidential candidates, who will appear via satellite from the campaign trail on the morning of Super Tuesday. Republicans have seized on Iran’s nuclear ambitions to accuse Mr. Obama of being weak in backing a staunch ally and in confronting a bitter foe.

The pressure from an often-hostile Congress is also mounting. A group of influential senators, fresh from a meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem, has called on Mr. Obama to lay down sharper criteria, known as “red lines,” about when to act against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“We’re saying to the administration, ‘You’ve got a problem; let’s fix it, let’s get back on message,’ ” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who took part in the meeting with Mr. Netanyahu and said the Israeli leader vented frustration at what he viewed as mixed messages from Washington.

“It’s not just about the Jewish vote and 2012,” Mr. Graham added. “It’s about reassuring people who want to avoid war that the United States will do what’s necessary.”

To give teeth to the deterrent threat against Iran, Israel and its backers want Mr. Obama to stop urging restraint on Israel and to be more explicit about the circumstances under which the United States itself would carry out a strike.

Specifically, Israeli officials are demanding that Iran agree to halt all its enrichment of uranium in the country, and that the suspension be verified by United Nations inspectors, before the West resumes negotiations with Tehran on its nuclear program.

The White House has rejected that demand, Israeli and American officials said on Friday, arguing that Iran would never agree to a blanket ban upfront, and to insist on it would doom negotiations before they even began. The administration insists that Mr. Obama will stick to his policy, which is focused on using economic sanctions to force the Iranian government to give up its nuclear ambitions, with military action as a last resort.

Despite the position of the Israelis and Aipac, the American intelligence agencies continue to say that there is no evidence that Iran has made a final decision to pursue a nuclear weapon. Recent assessments by American spy agencies have reaffirmed intelligence findings in 2007 and 2010 that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program.

In his tone, at least, Mr. Obama is working to reassure Israel. In an interview published on Friday, Mr. Obama reiterated his pledge to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon — with force, if necessary — and ruled out a policy of accepting but seeking to contain a nuclear-armed Iran. The Israeli government, he said, recognizes that “as president of the United States, I don’t bluff.”

The White House’s choice of interviewer — Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the magazine The Atlantic — was carefully calculated. Mr. Goldberg is closely read among Jews in America; in 2010, he wrote an article exploring the situations under which Israel would attack Iran.

American Jews are anything but monolithic. More dovish groups, like J Street, are trying to make a case against a pre-emptive Israeli strike. But for the next few days, Aipac will set the tone for an intense debate over the Iranian nuclear threat.

Mr. Obama will not lay down new red lines on Iran, even if he discusses them with Mr. Netanyahu, administration officials said. And he is not ready to accept a central part of Israel’s strategic calculation: that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be warranted to stop it from gaining the capability to build a nuclear weapon, rather than later, to stop it from actually manufacturing one.

In the interview, Mr. Obama warned Israel of the consequences of a strike and said that it would delay but not prevent Iran from acquiring a weapon. He also said he did not know how the American public would react.

Israel’s supporters said they believed that a majority of Americans would support an Israeli military strike against Iran. But polling data paints a murkier picture: while close to 50 percent of Americans say in several polls that they would support Israel, a slightly larger number say they would stay neutral. In some surveys, there is strong support for continuing diplomacy.

Supporters of Israel argue that in the American news media, Iran’s nuclear program has been wrongly framed as Israel’s problem, rather than as a threat to the security of the whole world.

“This is about the devastating impact on U.S. and Western security of a nuclear-armed Iran bent on bullying the region into submission,” said Josh Block, a former spokesman for Aipac.

Turnout for this year’s Aipac conference is expected to surpass all previous records. And the roster of speakers attests to the group’s drawing power. In addition to Mr. Obama, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will speak, as will Congressional leaders including Senator Mitch McConnell, the chamber’s Republican leader, and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House.

On Tuesday, the screens in the Washington convention center will light up with the Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who are likely to fault Mr. Obama as not doing enough to prevent Iran from getting a weapon. {The three compete among themselves for the title of hawkishness towards Iran. The fourth GOP candidate, Dr. Ron Paul, is less sanguine about a US military involvement and was thus not asked to participate at AIPAC’s gathering in the capital. Ron Paul made his ideas known via an interview on the Candy Crawley CNN show today. He seems rather to express in full the same ideas that President Obama seems to have, but for the time being cannot express in full because of the possibility that they might be contorted by the Republican media at large. – this is our comment at SustainabiliTank.info}

“Aipac is the spearhead of the pro-Israel community’s efforts to move the American government’s red lines closer to Israel’s red lines,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former American envoy to Israel.

Officials at Aipac declined to comment about the conference or their strategy. But Mr. Block and other former Aipac officials said that, as in previous years, the group would blanket Capitol Hill with its members — all of whom will carry a message about the Iranian nuclear threat. {this will happen Tuesday and Wednesday next week.}

They will be pushing on an open door. Democrats and Republicans {in Congress and thanks in large part to the AIPAC pressure}, divided on so much, are remarkably united in supporting Israel and in ratcheting up pressure on Iran.
The Senate voted 100 to 0 last year to pass legislation isolating Iran’s central bank, over the objections of the White House.

There are four bills in the House and Senate that call for tougher action against Iran or closer military cooperation between Israel and the United States. Mr. Graham is one of 32 Republican and Democratic sponsors of a resolution that calls on the president to reject a policy of containing Iran.

“The Senate can’t agree to cross the street,” Mr. Graham said. “Iran has done more to bring us together than anything in the world.”

To counter Aipac’s message, J Street has circulated a video on Capitol Hill, highlighting American and Israeli military experts who have voiced doubts about the efficacy of a strike on Iran.

“We are saying there needs to be time for enhanced sanctions and diplomacy to work,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street. “We’re trying to calm down the drumbeat of war.”

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

President Obama’s prepared remarks to AIPAC’s policy conference this morning.

March 4, 2012 – Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery

AIPAC Policy Conference, Washington, D.C.

As Prepared for Delivery – but we watched the delivery and found no deviation. Obviously, the colors are our own addition and the green honors the attention to the Iranian issue.

Good morning. Rosy, thank you for your kind words. You have long been a friend to me, and a tireless advocate for the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States. As you complete your term as President, I salute your leadership and commitment.

I want to thank the board of directors. As always, I’m glad to see my long-time friends in the Chicago delegation. I also want to thank the members of Congress who are with us here today, and who will be speaking to you over the next few days. You have worked hard to maintain the partnership between the United States and Israel. And I especially want to thank my close friend, and leader of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

I’m glad that my outstanding Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, is with us. I understand that Dan is perfecting his Hebrew on his new assignment, and I appreciate his constant outreach to the Israeli people. I’m also pleased that we’re joined by so many Israeli officials, including Ambassador Michael Oren. And tomorrow, I’m looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu and his delegation back to the White House.

Every time that I come to AIPAC, I’m impressed to see so many young people here – students from all over the country who are making their voices heard and engaging in our democratic debate. You carry with you an extraordinary legacy of more than six decades of friendship between the United States and Israel. And you have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to make your own mark on the world. For inspiration, you can look to the man who is being honored at this conference – my friend, President Shimon Peres.

Shimon was born a world away from here, in a shtetl in what was then Poland, a few years after the end of the first World War. But his heart was always in Israel, the historic homeland of the Jewish people, and when he was just a boy he made his journey across land and sea – towards home.

In his life, he has fought for Israel’s independence, and he has fought for peace and security. As a member of the Haganah and a Member of the Knesset; as a Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs; as a Prime Minister and as a President – Shimon helped build the nation that thrives today: the Jewish state of Israel. But beyond these extraordinary achievements, he has also been a powerful moral voice that reminds us that right makes might – not the other way around.

Shimon once described the story of the Jewish people by saying it proved that, “slings, arrows and gas chambers can annihilate man, but cannot destroy human values, dignity, and freedom.” He has lived those values. He has taught us to ask more of ourselves, and to empathize more with our fellow human beings. I am grateful for his life’s work and his moral example, and I am proud to announce that later this Spring, I will invite Shimon Peres to the White House to present him with America’s highest civilian honor – the presidential Medal of Freedom.


In many ways, this award is a symbol of the broader ties that bind our nations. The United States and Israel share interests, but we also share those human values that Shimon spoke about. A commitment to human dignity. A belief that freedom is a right that is given to all of God’s children. An experience that shows us that democracy is the one and only form of government that can be truly responsive to the aspirations of citizens.

America’s Founding Fathers understood this truth, just as Israel’s founding generation did. President Truman put it well, describing his decision to formally recognize Israel only minutes after it declared independence: “I had faith in Israel before it was established,” he said. “I believe it has a glorious future before it – as not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”

For over six decades, the American people have kept that faith. Yes, we are bound to Israel because of the interests that we share – in security for our communities; prosperity for our people; and new frontiers of science that can light the world. But it is our common ideals that provide the true foundation for our relationship. That is why America’s commitment to Israel has endured under Democratic and Republican Presidents, and congressional leaders of both parties. In the United States, our support for Israel is bipartisan, and that is how it should stay.

AIPAC’s work continually nurtures this bond. And because of AIPAC’s effectiveness in carrying out its mission, you can expect that over the next few days, you will hear many fine words from elected officials describing their commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship. But as you examine my commitment, you don’t just have to count on my words. You can look at my deeds. Because over the last three years, as President of the United States, I have kept my commitments to the state of Israel. At every crucial juncture – at every fork in the road – we have been there for Israel. Every single time.

Four years ago, I stood before you and said that “Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable.” That belief has guided my actions as President. The fact is, my Administration’s commitment to Israel’s security has been unprecedented. Our military and intelligence cooperation has never been closer. Our joint exercises and training have never been more robust. Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance has increased every year. We are investing in new capabilities. We’re providing Israel with more advanced technology – the type of products and systems that only go to our closest friends and allies. And make no mistake: we will do what it takes to preserve Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge – because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

This isn’t just about numbers on a balance sheet. As a Senator, I spoke to Israeli troops on the Lebanese border. I have visited with families who’ve known the terror of rocket fire in Sderot. That’s why, as President, I have provided critical funding to deploy the Iron Dome system that has intercepted rockets that might have hit homes, hospitals, and schools in that town and others. Now our assistance is expanding Israel’s defensive capabilities, so that more Israelis can live free from the fear of rockets and ballistic missiles.  Because no family, no citizen, should live in fear.

Just as we’ve been there with our security assistance, we have been there through our diplomacy. When the Goldstone report unfairly singled out Israel for criticism, we challenged it. When Israel was isolated in the aftermath of the flotilla incident, we supported them. When the Durban conference was commemorated, we boycotted it, and we will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism. When one-sided resolutions are brought up at the Human Rights Council, we oppose them. When Israeli diplomats feared for their lives in Cairo, we intervened to help save them. When there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them. And whenever an effort is made to de-legitimize the state of Israel, my Administration has opposed them. So there should not be a shred of doubt by now: when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.

So if during this political season you hear some question my Administration’s support for Israel, remember that it’s not backed up by the facts. And remember that the U.S.-Israel relationship is simply too important to be distorted by partisan politics. America’s national security is too important. Israel’s security is too important.

Of course, there are those who question not my security and diplomatic commitments, but my Administration’s ongoing pursuit of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. So let me say this: I make no apologies for pursuing peace. Israel’s own leaders understand the necessity of peace. Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, and President Peres – each of them have called for two states, a secure Israel that lives side by side with an independent Palestinian state.

I believe that peace is profoundly in Israel’s security interest. The reality that Israel faces – from shifting demographics, to emerging technologies, to an extremely difficult international environment – demands a resolution of this issue. And I believe that peace with the Palestinians is consistent with Israel’s founding values – because of our shared belief in self-determination; and because Israel’s place as a Jewish and democratic state must be protected.

Of course, peace is hard to achieve. There’s a reason why it has remained elusive for six decades. The upheaval and uncertainty in Israel’s neighborhood makes it that much harder – from the horrific violence raging in Syria, to the transition in Egypt. And the division within the Palestinian leadership makes it harder still – most notably, with Hamas’s continued rejection of Israel’s very right to exist.

But as hard as it may be, we should not give in to cynicism or despair. The changes taking place in the region make peace more important, not less. And I have made it clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met. That is why we continue to press Arab leaders to reach out to Israel, and will continue to support the peace treaty with Egypt. That’s why – just as we encourage Israel to be resolute in the pursuit of peace – we have continued to insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements. And that is why my Administration has consistently rejected any efforts to short-cut negotiations or impose an agreement on the parties.

Last year, I stood before you and pledged that: “the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations.” As you all know, that pledge has been kept. Last September, I stood before the United Nations General Assembly and reaffirmed that any lasting peace must acknowledge the fundamental legitimacy of Israel and its security concerns. I said that America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, our friendship with Israel is enduring, and that Israel must be recognized. No President has made such a clear a statement about our support for Israel at the United Nations at such a difficult time. People usually give those speeches before audiences like this one – not the General Assembly.

There wasn’t a lot of applause. But it was the right thing to do. And as a result, today there is no doubt – anywhere in the world – that the United States will insist upon Israel’s security and legitimacy. That will also be true as we continue our efforts to our pursuit of peace. And that will be true when it comes to the issue that is such a focus for all of us today: Iran’s nuclear program – a threat that has the potential to bring together the worst rhetoric about Israel’s destruction with the world’s most dangerous weapons.

Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.  And so I understand the profound historical obligation that weighs on the shoulders of Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and all of Israel’s leaders.

A nuclear-armed Iran is completely counter to Israel’s security interests. But it is also counter to the national security interests of the United States. Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. A nuclear-armed Iran would thoroughly undermine the non-proliferation regime that we have done so much to build. There are risks that an Iranian nuclear weapon could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization. It is almost certain that others in the region would feel compelled to get their own nuclear weapon, triggering an arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world. It would embolden a regime that has brutalized its own people, and it would embolden Iran’s proxies, who have carried out terrorist attacks from the Levant to southwest Asia.

That is why, four years ago, I made a commitment to the American people, and said that we would use all elements of American power to pressure Iran and prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That is what we have done.

When I took office, the efforts to apply pressure on Iran were in tatters. Iran had gone from zero centrifuges spinning to thousands, without facing broad pushback from the world. In the region, Iran was ascendant – increasingly popular, and extending its reach. In other words, the Iranian leadership was united and on the move, and the international community was divided about how to go forward.

And so from my first months in office, we put forward a very clear choice to the Iranian regime: a path that would allow them to rejoin the community of nations if they meet their international obligations, or a path that leads to an escalating series of consequences if they don’t. In fact, our policy of engagement – quickly rebuffed by the Iranian regime – allowed us to rally the international community as never before; to expose Iran’s intransigence; and to apply pressure that goes far beyond anything that the United States could do on our own.

Because of our efforts, Iran is under greater pressure than ever before. People predicted that Russia and China wouldn’t join us in moving toward pressure. They did, and in 2010 the UN Security Council overwhelmingly supported a comprehensive sanctions effort. Few thought that sanctions could have an immediate bite on the Iranian regime. They have, slowing the Iranian nuclear program and virtually grinding the Iranian economy to a halt in 2011. Many questioned whether we could hold our coalition together as we moved against Iran’s Central Bank and oil exports. But our friends in Europe and Asia and elsewhere are joining us. And in 2012, the Iranian government faces the prospect of even more crippling sanctions.

That is where we are today. Iran is isolated, its leadership divided and under pressure. And the Arab Spring has only increased these trends, as the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime is exposed, and its ally – the Assad regime – is crumbling.

Of course, so long as Iran fails to meet its obligations, this problem remains unsolved. The effective implementation of our policy is not enough – we must accomplish our objective.

In that effort, I firmly believe that an opportunity remains for diplomacy – backed by pressure – to succeed. The United States and Israel both assess that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon, and we are exceedingly vigilant in monitoring their program. Now, the international community has a responsibility to use the time and space that exists. Sanctions are continuing to increase, and this July – thanks to our diplomatic coordination – a European ban on Iranian oil imports will take hold. Faced with these increasingly dire consequences, Iran’s leaders still have the opportunity to make the right decision. They can choose a path that brings them back into the community of nations, or they can continue down a dead end.

Given their history, there are of course no guarantees that the Iranian regime will make the right choice. But both Israel and the United States have an interest in seeing this challenge resolved diplomatically. After all, the only way to truly solve this problem is for the Iranian government to make a decision to forsake nuclear weapons. That’s what history tells us.

Moreover, as President and Commander-in-Chief, I have a deeply-held preference for peace over war. I have sent men and women into harm’s way. I have seen the consequences of those decisions in the eyes of those I meet who have come back gravely wounded, and the absence of those who don’t make it home. Long after I leave this office, I will remember those moments as the most searing of my presidency. For this reason, as part of my solemn obligation to the American people, I only use force when the time and circumstances demand it. And I know that Israeli leaders also know all too well the costs and consequences of war, even as they recognize their obligation to defend their country.

We all prefer to resolve this issue diplomatically. Having said that, Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs. I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power. A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.

Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.

Moving forward, I would ask that we all remember the weightiness of these issues; the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world. Already, there is too much loose talk of war. Over the last few weeks, such talk has only benefited the Iranian government, by driving up the price of oil, which they depend upon to fund their nuclear program.  For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security, and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster; now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition that we have built. Now is the time to heed that timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: speak softly, but carry a big stick.  As we do, rest assured that the Iranian government will know our resolve, and that our coordination with Israel will continue.

These are challenging times. But we have been through challenging times before, and the United States and Israel have come through them together. Because of our cooperation, citizens in both our countries have benefited from the bonds that bring us together. I am proud to be one of those people. In the past, I have shared in this forum just why those bonds are so personal for me – from the stories of a great uncle who helped liberate Buchenwald, to my memories of returning there with Elie Wiesel; from sharing books with Shimon Peres, to sharing seders with my young staff in a tradition that started on the campaign trail and continues in the White House; from the countless friends I know in this room, to the concept of tikkun olam that has enriched my life.

As Harry Truman understood, Israel’s story is one of hope. We may not agree on every single issue – no two nations do, and our democracies contain a vibrant diversity of views. But we agree on the big things – the things that matter. And together, we are working to build a better world – one where our people can live free from fear; one where peace is founded upon justice; one where our children can know a future that is more hopeful than the present.

There is no shortage of speeches on the friendship between the United States and Israel. But I am also mindful of the proverb, “A man is judged by his deeds, not by his words.” So if you want to know where my heart lies, look no further than what I have done – to stand up for Israel; to secure both of our countries; and to see that the rough waters of our time lead to a peaceful and prosperous shore. Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. And God bless the United States of America.

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

Dr. Ron Paul said to Candy Crawley from his campaign place in Fairbanks, Alaska: It does not make sense to bomb one that makes threats but has done nothing to us but might do something someday.” But he also said that as President he would not tell Israel what to do about their own defence. Further, he said that sanctions will give the incentives to Iranians to build that bomb.

Also, confronted with questions about his three Republican opponents criticism of President Obama excusing himself before the Afghans for the burning of Koran books that were desecrated first by Afghan prisoners – the Republicans saying that there was no reason to show remorse by the US President, Dr. Paul said that indeed there should not have been an apology but rather a change of policy in the Middle East with less American involvement and more left to the locals to do for themselves.

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

The CNN foreign affairs reporter – Elise Labott, like Israeli reporter Ronen Bergman of Yedioth Aharonot, said that Israel wants not to rely on the United States and will just want to bomb Iran now – when they still can do it by themselves. Bergman predicted that this will still happen in 2012. Israel believes Iran is only 9 month away from weaponizing with nuclear capacity. For Israel, a containment policy is not on the table and they know that till November it is US election time – but then there is still time left to the end of the year to avoid a rain of missiles in 18 t0 36 months even though some military analysts in Israel themselves plead for time.

To above General Barak told Bergman that those military people when they look up se Messrs Netanyahu and himself, but when Nethanyahu and Barak look up – they see only blue sky – so this is it that they have been left as decission makers and will take the needed responsibility to decide.

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

Dr. Trita Parsi, in an e-mail to us, writes that what was crucial in the Obama presentation before AIPAC was that it remains weaponization, and not nuclear capability, that is crucial to the United States. It is not the nuclear enrichment and capability issue that will send the US to war – but only the weaponization stage – and there is really no indication that Iran is now pursuing weaponization.

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

Obama to AIPAC: ‘Too Much Loose Talk of War’

By Michael Hirsch, National Journal

04 March 2012

President Obama told the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC that while containment of a nuclear Iran was not an option, there was “already too much loose talk of war.”

Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee which began its annual convention Sunday, Obama told the audience to look at the last three years of his tenure as President, and his administration’s support of Israel.

“Our military and intelligence cooperation has never been closer. Our joint exercises and training have never been more robust. Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance has increased every year,” Obama said. “We are investing in new capabilities. We’re providing Israel with more advanced technology – the type of products and systems that only go to our closest friends and allies. And make no mistake: we will do what it takes to preserve Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge – because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”

President Obama said he preferred to resolve the nuclear crisis with Iran through diplomatic and economic means. “I would ask that we all remember the weightiness of these issues; the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world. Already there is too much loose talk of war.”

Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday where Iran will be the focus of discussions.

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

And President Obama has met with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House.

THE VERDICT – OBAMA, BIBI SHOW NO SIGN OF NARROWING GAP ON IRAN.

But also as Helen Cooper writes for the New York Times –

“Candidates Hammer Obama Over Iran, but Approaches Differ Little.”

To rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Mitt Romney says he would conduct naval exercises in the Persian Gulf to remind Iran of American military might. He would try to ratchet up Security Council sanctions on Iran, targeting its Revolutionary Guards, and the country’s central bank and other financial institutions. And if Russia and China do not go along, he says, the United States should team up with other willing governments to put such punitive measures in place.

As it turns out, that amounts to what President Obama is doing.

As their tone on Iran escalates in advance of appearances via satellite Tuesday morning before AIPAC the Republican candidates for president have tried to draw stark contrasts between themselves and Mr. Obama when it comes to stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama’s Iran strategy,Rick Santorum said recently on “Meet the Press” on NBC, risked turning the United States into a “paper tiger.” Newt Gingrich said that on Iran, “we’re being played for fools.”

On Sunday, Mr. Romney, appearing in Atlanta, offered this: “If Barack Obama gets re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.” And on Monday, he wrote an op-ed article in The Washington Post comparing Mr. Obama to President Jimmy Carter, who he said “fretted in the White House” as Iran held American hostages for 444 days.

Mr. Obama and his backers have cried foul, saying the Republican candidates, in the quest to appear tough, are playing a dangerous game that could end up driving Iran closer to a nuclear weapon, as Mr. Obama implied in his own address  to AIPAC on Sunday.

Last year, Mr. Obama drew global criticism when he opposed a Palestinian bid for statehood through the Security Council, and his administration boycotted a racism conference in Durban in 2009 on the grounds that it allowed anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denial views. Mr. Obama has also increased military aid to Israel and promoted sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, with Europe agreeing to impose an oil embargo on Iran, a step unthinkable four years ago.
Though advisers to Mr. Romney say they see significant differences between his Iran policy and Mr. Obama’s, other Iran experts and former officials in Republican and Democratic administrations say they do not see how the Iran policies being espoused on the Republican presidential campaign trail would do much more to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon. In the case of Mr. Romney, they said, his Iran policy is essentially Mr. Obama’s Iran policy.

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

And on Tuesday the 5th –

Pro-Israel Delegates Have Washington’s Ear on Iran.

After two days of listening to politicians talk about the issue, Aipac members got a chance to talk back on Tuesday. Conference leaders scheduled a record 530 meetings with lawmakers over about four hours, with delegates from all 50 states fanning out across Washington bearing talking points.

(Which Congressional offices did not take meetings? Those of Representative Ron Paul, the Texas Republican campaigning for the presidential nomination; Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat who has frequently voted against Aipac’s positions on Israel and Iran and coincidentally lost the same day his primary fight for reelection; Representative Donald M. Payne of New Jersey, who died Monday; the office vacated by Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who is a friend of Israel but is recovering from an assassination attempt; and a lawmaker Aipac officials would not name.)

In what might have been the largest blitz of citizen lobbying all year, lines of delegates at checkpoints at Congressional office buildings snaked outside, and about a third of the 100-member Tennessee group did not make it into the first session until a few minutes before Mr. Corker left.

This year, for the first time, a counterlobby was set up by Occupy Aipac, a group that also protested outside the conference and made several attempts to disrupt its sessions. Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the peace group Codepink and an Occupy leader, said about 200 people divided into nine teams and met with Congressional staff members on Friday, Monday and Tuesday, bringing their own talking points.

“It is important for our congresspeople to hear from both sides,” said Ms. Benjamin, “and hear from Americans horrified about the possibility of a war with Iran.”

The Aipac crowd, though, wanted to make sure that members were taking the possibility seriously. After their session with Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who sits on the banking committee that recently passed legislation tightening the noose of sanctions against Iran, and his national security adviser, the Tennessee group met with Erin Reif, an aide to Senator Lamar Alexander, another Tennessee Republican. The aide said that she thought the new sanctions bill might pass as soon as this month — which some said is not soon enough.

“We want sanctions to work, but we wanted them to work a year ago,” one woman in the group told Ms. Reif. Invoking the speech to Aipac on Monday in which Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, promised to introduce a bill authorizing military force at the smallest hint of Iran moving to weaponize its uranium, the woman said Mr. Alexander should consider “not just an option, but every viable option.”

Then there were  two other points: Aipac members urged lawmakers to co-sponsor legislation to improve the security partnership between the United States and Israel, and to support the foreign-aid appropriation, which includes $3.1 billion for Israel.

Isaac Graber, a 15-year-old sophomore at Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis, presented the case for foreign aid, first to Ms. Reif and then again to Mr. Alexander, who arrived late. Isaac held a yellow legal pad but hardly referred to it, as he ticked off facts: foreign aid is about 1 percent of the federal budget; much of Israel’s $3.1 billion is spent on contracts with United States companies; Israel spends 8 percent of its gross domestic product on defense. “They’re such a tiny country surrounded by all these crazy neighbors,” Isaac said. “Really, the bottom line is this is a little bit of money that really goes a far way.”

———-

The WORLD Section of the New York Times on Wednesday the 7th:

World Powers Agree to Resume Nuclear Talks With Iran

By NICHOLAS KULISH and JAMES KANTER

The resumption of negotiations could relieve rising pressure from Israel to use military force against Iran, or buy Tehran time to relocate its centrifuges.

On Iran, Questions of Detection and Response Divide U.S. and Israel

By DAVID E. SANGER

If Iran decided to race for a nuclear weapon, would the West detect that in time to stop it? And even if it were detected, would an airstrike be the best option?

Pro-Israel Delegates Have Washington’s Ear on Iran

By JODI RUDOREN

Members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday held a record 530 meetings with lawmakers, whom they urged to support tougher measures against Iran’s nuclear program.

OP-ED COLUMNIST

Israel’s Best Friend

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

President Obama has redefined the Iran issue by saying it is about U.S. national security and global security, too.

The question of whether Israel has the need and the right to pre-emptively attack Iran as it develops a nuclear potential is one of the most hotly contested issues on the world stage today. It is also an issue fraught with danger for Israel and American Jews, neither of whom want to be accused of dragging America into a war, especially one that could weaken an already frail world economy.

In that context, President Obama, in his interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and in his address to Aipac, the pro-Israel lobby, offered the greatest support for Israel that any president could at this time: He redefined the Iran issue. He said — rightly — that it was not simply about Israel’s security, but about U.S. national security and global security.

Obama did this by making clear that allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons and then “containing” it — the way the U.S. contained the Soviet Union — was not a viable option, because if Iran acquires a nuclear bomb, all the states around it would seek to acquire one as well. This would not only lead to a nuclear Middle East, but it would likely prompt other countries to hedge their commitments to the global Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The global nuclear black market would then come alive and we would see the dawning of a more dangerous world.

“Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon isn’t just in the interest of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States,” the president told The Atlantic. “If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, this would run completely contrary to my policies of nonproliferation. The risks of an Iranian nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorist organizations are profound. … It would also provide Iran the additional capability to sponsor and protect its proxies in carrying out terrorist attacks, because they are less fearful of retaliation. … If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, I won’t name the countries, but there are probably four or five countries in the Middle East who say, ‘We are going to start a program, and we will have nuclear weapons.’ And at that point, the prospect for miscalculation in a region that has that many tensions and fissures is profound. You essentially then duplicate the challenges of India and Pakistan fivefold or tenfold.” In sum, the president added, “The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world.”

Every Israeli and friend of Israel should be thankful to the president for framing the Iran issue this way. It is important strategically for Israel, because it makes clear that dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat was not Israel’s problem alone. And it is important politically, because this decision about whether to attack Iran is coinciding with the U.S. election. The last thing Israel or American friends of Israel — Jewish and Christian — want is to give their enemies a chance to claim that Israel is using its political clout to embroil America in a war that is not in its interest.

That could easily happen because backing for Israel today has never been more politicized. In recent years, Republicans have tried to make support for Israel a wedge issue that would enable them to garner a higher percentage of Jewish votes and campaign contributions, which traditionally have swung overwhelmingly Democratic. This has led to an arms race with the Democrats over who is more pro-Israel — and over-the-top declarations, like Newt Gingrich’s that the Palestinians “are an invented people.”

And it could easily happen because money in politics has never been more important for running campaigns, and the Israel lobby — both its Jewish and evangelical Christian wings — has never been more influential, because of its ability to direct campaign contributions to supportive candidates.

As such, no one should want domestic electoral politics mixed up with the Iran decision, which is why it was so important that the president redefined the Iran problem as a global proliferation threat and grounded his decision-making in American realism, not politics.

Reports from the Aipac convention this week indicated that those advocating military action were getting the loudest cheers. I’d invite all those cheering to think about all the unintended and unanticipated consequences of the Iraq war or Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. That’s not a reason for paralysis. It’s a reason to heed Obama’s call to give diplomacy and biting sanctions a chance to work, while keeping the threat of force on the table.

If it comes to war, let it be because the ayatollahs were ready to sacrifice their whole economy to get a nuke and, therefore, America — the only country that can truly take down Iran’s nuclear program — had to act to protect the global system, not just Israel. I respect that this is a deadly serious issue for Israel — which has the right to act on its own — but President Obama has built a solid strategic and political case for letting America take the lead.





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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 7th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

October 7, 2011, Atonement Day Eve – The 99% SILENT Public – Albeit still on the OP-ED or “ROOM for DEBATE” Pages.

New York Times OPINION PAGE – 

ROOM FOR DEBATE

Is It Effective to Occupy Wall Street?

The protesters are getting more attention and expanding outside New York. What are they doing right, and what are they missing?

———————————–

New York Times OP-ED COLUMNIST

Confronting the Malefactors

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

——————————–

Watching Washington the HOME NEWS are:

“To allay the concerns of Senate Democrats, Mr. Obama said that he could support their proposal to pay for the jobs plan by imposing a 5.6 percent surtax on individual taxpayers’ income above $1 million. A number of Senate Democrats had objected to Mr. Obama’s proposals to offset the cost of his plan by limiting tax deductions, including for charitable contributions, that could be taken by individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000. And oil-state Democrats opposed his plans to increase oil companies’ taxes.

Even as Mr. Obama took reporters’ questions, Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, rebuked him for his more confrontational tack. “Nothing has disappointed me more than what’s happened over the last five weeks, to watch the president of the United States give up on governing, give up on leading and spend full-time campaigning,” Mr. Boehner said during a public forum in Washington.

Mr. Obama, when asked by a reporter whether he should be talking to Congressional Republicans rather than traveling the country like a presidential candidate, responded that he had tried repeatedly to compromise with Republicans. His efforts, he said, were “sometimes to my own political peril and to the frustration of Democrats,” and Republicans rebuffed him even when he offered ideas, like business tax cuts, that Republicans had proposed in the past.”

“What I’ve done over the last several weeks is to take the case to the American people so that they understand what’s at stake,” he said. “It is now up to all the senators, and hopefully all the members of the House, to explain to their constituencies why they would be opposed to common-sense ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past,” Mr. Obama said.


THAT IS STILL THE NORM OF HOME PAGES NEWS REPORTING  — AS GOOD AS IT GETS  –

Making Case for Jobs Bill, Obama Cites Europe’s Woes.

 Why look at the woes of Europe when there is plenty to see in the US itself?
PLEASE CHECK OUT THOSE OIL INDUSTRY ELECTED RESIDENTS OF US CONGRESS!

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

NOW THIS! From – www.alternet.org  New York spread Liberty to Washington DC:

Protesters began their occupation of Freedom Plaza, WASHINGTON D.C.,  on October 6 — and they plan on staying as long as it takes.

The Occupy Freedom Plaza protest in Washington DC kicked off on Thursday, October 6. The protesters were a diverse crowd; young and old, men and women, the jobless and the employed, all in solidarity with one another and those occupying cities across the country in protest of the corporate greed that has destroyed the lives of so many Americans.

Cancer survivor Carrie Stone said that over the course of nine days, she traveled from Wallace, West Virginia to Washington, DC by foot. The 56-year-old grandmother plans to stay in DC indefinitely, saying, “If I can do it, anyone can.”


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 29th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Tn.org

www.tn.org/
Log/Visitation History*; Advanced Admin Rights; DNS Hosted at no charge; Mail Forwarding; 5 FREE Email accounts; Free domain name (yourname.tn.org

Southwest Tennessee offers a variety of travel treasurers just off Interstate 40, mid-way between Nashville and Memphis. Points of interest include Shiloh 

www.jmcl.tn.org/

Genealogy, an online catalog, and special events. Located in Jackson.

  1. City of Cookeville – Welcome to Cookeville!

    www.cookeville-tn.org/

    In Putnam County, Tennessee. With welcomes and general information.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The several thousand people that came from all over the world to the Rockefeller Center’s Radio City Music Hall were entertained by many of the speakers, but gave Rockette status to Joe Stiglitz only. He was being interviewed on stage by Carol Massar, the Bloomberg TV Co-anchor of “Street Smart” with Matt Miller. People were hoping he will tell them where things are going and who did the major mistakes.

Stiglitz was coy about predicting the future, but was clear about the mistakes – hanging them high up at the Greenspan door.

“Greenspan did not believe in bubbles – he thought that this was a school of fraud. The models were faulty. Ram Schuller from Yale spoke of bubbles but who would listen. There was a theory that if you only got down the deficit it will be well – that’s what Edgar Hoover sponsored and it did not go well.”

The problem is that there is now not enough aggregative demand and not enough jobs. Some people even do not want full jobs in these conditions. There is a need to move people from old sectors to new sectors. The health-care problem is that the US spends much more then other developed economies and lt gives much less in return.

Question; What would you tell President Obama to do in order to help small businesses?

A: The smaller Businesses are dependent on the banks – the bigger banks have no use for the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). The bigger banks funding goes to the larger speculators in the market – that is where the money is. The smaller banks have constraints. I would put much more pressure on the healthy banks and the big banks involved in the speculative market. These problems will be with us for years to come, he said.

So, as expected, according to Joe Stiglitz, the malaise is in the financial sector and that is the Stiglitz forte. On the other hand, when the turn came for Al Gore to speak, he did not need an interviewer or moderator – he simply ran off a series of slides and described the malaise in material terms. It is the environment stupid – this is how I would summarize his words.

Al Gore’s own subtitle to his presentation is “SUSTAINABLE CAPITALISM AND THE CLIMATE CRISIS.”

The Climate Crisis is the most dangerous crisis we had and it offers challenges and opportunities to make changes that we should have made anyway.

He flatly stated that you would put somewhere on any list of reasons for involving in Iraq there was the access to oil. We are so dependent on that oil at a time we have to create new jobs. The conversion to renewable energy is the handle we have to unravel from our simultaneous three crises –  the energy, economy, environment crises – and the source of wars – all at the same time.

We must learn to understand the relationship of human ecology and the environment.

What has changed in our world in our time is the quadrupling of the World Population in 100 years and we see now the move from 2 billion people to 9  billion – this while as a positive sign, the demographic trend is reducing the size of families all over. The education of girls, empowerment of women, availability of birth control and conscious spacing of birth with higher child survival rates is becoming the key to fight poverty and disease. We have thus to promote literacy and education.

Al Gore reminded us that Democracy as per the US Declaration of Independence, and Capitalism, as per Adam Smith, were both born the same year – 1776 – and since walk hand-in-hand so far as the US goes.

He showed the spikes in oil prices since the beginning of the 70’s,, and had there a picture of the oil Sheiks in traditional garb, also the twin towers of 9/11,  and made the strongest appeal for Renewable Energy one could imagine. If that was not enough the business audience must have been made of stone.

DRILL BABY DRILL – IS NONSENSE – he said – it will not provide the oil for the US.

22% of Peru’s glaciers have been lost in the last 30 years – as the ice is gone so the supply of water is dwindling down. On the other hand, right there in Nashville, Tennessee, his home State, the Grand Opry was closed for three months  because of rains of May 3, 2010 – a one in 1000 years event in its size, that caused $7 Billion of dammage.

Sun light for one hour caries the energy needed for a full year – get going and use it, he said. The cost is continuisly coming down. Moore’s law of business is that the observation shows costs coming down to half every two years in the transistor business.

Portugal, Spain, China, Germany are front runners in renewables. China just invested $4 billlion in one solar plant and the Vatican went solar too! Where is the US in this race?

Australia is deep into enhanced geothermal via hot rock steam.

Think of smart grid, the China and Japan bullet trains, light rails for the cities like in Phoenix, Arizona. We can do it and create employment while doing it.

The economy they say is better now – but this is relative. And Al Gore produced the following story about someone not complaining because it is all relative.

As the story goes, a farmer is in court as he accuses a trailer-truck driver of having caused him injury, suffering and losses.

The lawyer for the defense says – but you told the policeman that came to the site that you were OK?

The farmer answers and says, I was driving my truck and a cow was in it. Here comes the truck and …

The judge says – we have no time just answer the question – did you say at the time of the accident that you were OK?
Just say Yes or No!

The farmer tries again. I was just coming to it – it depends how you look at it. He continues and says – here comes the policeman – I was lying on one side of the overturned truck and the cow on the other side. The policeman looks at the cow and says – let me take her out of her misery – points his gun in between her eyes and shoots. Then he comes over to my side and asks me how I feel – I trembled and said fine.

This reminds me now of the presentation of the honorable Professor Joe Stiglitz and the people he analyzes. He is surely right of what he says – he is one of the few economists that we trust – but he cannot solve the Global malaise these days – it takes an Al Gore approach of creating new businesses – not just the firing of the old financial institution heads. Both these activities must go hand in hand because the environment cannot be decked in paper money. Some environmental disasters may not have means of recourse.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Where does all your GAS money go?
They came with 20 million in cash and 7 weeks to spend it on …as implants, Jimmy Choos, and mocha lattes in Beverly Hills!

The one-woman show has played in Boston, Memphis, and is now part of FringeNYC.

DRIVING THE SAUDIS asks where our gas money really goes — and provides some answers by following the grueling adventures of a chauffeur who whisks Saudi Royals through a Beverly Hills shopping/plastic surgery vacation. Visit www.drivingthesaudis.info.

DRIVING THE SAUDIS is a one-woman show based on Larson’s real life experience as a chauffeur for a family of Saudi Royals visiting Beverly Hills—for 7 weeks of shopping and plastic surgery. As the only woman in a detail of almost 50 drivers assigned to the family and its extensive entourage, Ms. Larson details her invitation inside one of the most closely guarded private monarchies in the world. DRIVING THE SAUDIS explores and challenges American perceptions of beauty, culture, religion, and the subjugation of women, through the curious eyes of the actress-turned-chauffeur.

This multi-media piece includes original film footage and found stills which illuminate the story and content.

JAYNE AMELIA LARSON
Miss Larson received an undergraduate degree from the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University, and a graduate degree from Harvard University’s Institute of Advanced Theater Training under the tutelage of Robert Brustein. She has also studied with Patsy Rodenburg from the RSC, Larry Moss, Rod Menzies, The Groundlings, and Boris Imas of the Moscow Art Theater. As a working actress, she has performed extensively in regional and New York theaters, and has made numerous television and film appearances including a series regular on Judging Amy, The Gilmore Girls, The Huntress, Club 7, and The Illusion, in which she plays opposite Kirk Douglas, released this past year. Her solo show, More Than Naked, premiered in Los Angeles as part of the acclaimed 2006 Edge Of The World Theatre Festival. She is now developing a new solo show, Driving The Saudis, and recently workshopped it at the Off Broadway Theater in Boston, at Hollins University, at the Naked Angels In Progress Series, and at Cornell University.

She has served as literary manager and part of the acting company of the award-winning theater group, The Wilton Project. Upon request, she has coached privately in Los Angeles for several years and has also taught workshops at Cornell University, University of Redlands, and the University of California State Northridge.

In addition, Ms. Larson was the VP of Development at entitled entertainment, an independent film company producing many award winning films including Thirteen Conversations About One Thing with Matthew McConnaughy, Amy Irving, and Alan Arkin; LA Riot Spectacular with Charles Dutton and Snoop Dogg; Levity with Billy Bob Thornton and Kirsten Dunst; The Illusion with Kirk Douglas and Michael Goorjian; and Aurora Borealis starring Donald Sutherland, Josh Jackson, and Juliette Lewis.

CHARLIE STRATTON (director)
Mr. Stratton has directed theater in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He was the Co-Artistic Director of the Los Angeles based Wilton Project, an award-winning theatre company which focused exclusively on the development and production of new material. He has worked extensively with the New York based theater companies Naked Angels and New York Stage and Film where he recently directed a production of FINKS by Joe Gilford starring Josh Radnor and Jennifer Westfeldt. Additionally, he frequently directs, produces and writes for television and feature films. He is a graduate of The Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University.

————————————————————————–

This is a re-posting as I saw the play today and found that there is much more to it then I wrote above. As such I will have several postings on Driving the Saudis – starting with a second posting today. (The editor – Pincas Jawetz)

We originally posted this on August 24, 2010.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Today the media is full of analysis of last nights results of political Super-Tuesday and the consensus is that America wants Jobs not new policies. What that implies is that all the great ideas that President Obama brought to the White House are immaterial – all what counts is jobs. But what kind of jobs – is this just a return to pre-economy-downturn? To jobs in the industries of the past in a world of make believe that cannot anymore support US consumption? There must be a better way we say and we call it Sustainable Development. Are there listeners out there?

Luckily I just saw on CNN – “Energizing a state’s job market is challenging during tough economic times. See how New Mexico’s governor leads the charge to create thousands of new jobs from the brightest natural resource. CNN’s Tom Foreman reports.”

This was about New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a former US Secretary of Energy and the former Chairman of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico – he rode in to save the day that was described by all as the day America stood up to take on those rascals in Washington.

from  the “Great piece on CNN about recruiting clean energy companies to NM” www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2010/building.up.america/  about 1 hour ago via web

also “Promoting two Northern New Mexico clean energy projects today in Questa & Taos” 9:11 AM May 13th – web

What we saw was from Santa Fe how “Schott Solar” talks Sun = More $ + More Jobs.

Solar is a buffer against stagnation.

It occurred to me if President Obama will now decide to take on Washington by pushing stronger for an Energy and Climate outcome in order to answer the JOB ISSUE in a positive way?

I moved then to look up the following from Bill Scher’s daily reports and decided to share it with our readers.

His report on Clean Energy dates back to last week – that is pre-history to some of those loses last night – but our belief is that after the Bank Reform, still before November 2010, Washington must tackle the Climate Bill so that when the folks go home to ask to be reelected they have something in their hand. They just cannot ask for sympathy after stretching out an empty hand. Washington is them – the only fight they have ahead of them is the fight against themselves!

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Progressive Breakfast: Will Clean Energy Follow Bank Reform?

Bill Scher's picture

By Bill Scher

May 13, 2010


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Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to affect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.

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This issue starts with the topic – “Weakening Wall St. Reform Amendments Loom” – and includes also – “Time For Wealth To Be Taxed Like Work” – we deleted both as our interest was in the Energy and Climate issue!

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Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill Released

Sen. Kerry explains details at Grist: “this bill creates a major — mandatory — pollution-reduction program that sends the needed price signal on carbon, with carbon allowances auctioned in a heavily regulated market that doesn’t allow any speculators access … imports from countries that aren’t doing what we’re doing will need to pay a fee at the border or we will give our producers the resources they would need to keep from having their production shifted overseas to avoid the cost of polluting … inspired in part by the great work of Sens. Maria Cantwell [D-Wash.] and Susan Collins [R-Maine] [the bill] sends the bulk of the proceeds from the sale of the pollution allowances back to the American people directly in the form of rebates … This bill does not take the EPA out of the mix on regulating carbon. In fact, it strengthens the Clean Air Act by expanding the authority of the EPA and making that authority permanent …”

President praises: “I look forward to engaging with Senators from both sides of the aisle and ultimately passing a bill this year.”

TNR’s Brad Plumer on how the bill differs from the House version: “The Senate bill refunds a greater share of the proceeds from selling carbon permits back to consumers—75 percent versus 45 percent in the House bill … The Senate bill exempts manufacturers from cap-and-trade until 2016, so in this sense it’s a little weaker on pollution targets … more support for nuclear power, natural gas vehicles, and offshore drilling … a lot weaker on renewable energy mandates and efficiency standards … stricter provisions for overseeing the carbon markets…”

Earth2Tech gets reaction from green power advocates: “…significant provisions for electric vehicle development, manufacturing and infrastructure … a renewable electricity standard … is not included … Not everyone shares the utilities’ perspective that Kerry and Lieberman’s proposal will protect consumers. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE) criticized the legislators for ‘gutting the energy efficiency provisions in their bill,’ …

Tenuous enviro-business coalition behind bill: “While the green lobby is already firing up grass-roots support and running ads to advance the bill, getting the 60 Senate votes needed to pass it will require help from corporate lobbying shops … While most business groups were poring over the proposal before taking a firm stand on it, the nuclear industry wholeheartedly embraced it.”

The Hill summed up enviro reaction: “Even though several left-leaning environmental groups, such as Greenpeace and Public Citizen, issued sharply critical statements, a broad swath of green groups backed the measure moving forward while calling for changes to it.”

Neutrality from many corporate interests seen as victory. CQ: “Two industry groups that led opposition to the House bill — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute (API) — praised efforts to write a Senate bill that is friendlier to business. While neither group endorsed the Senate bill, their neutrality was taken as a victory by Senate aides who worked on the legislation.”

Senate leaders taking cautious approach. W. Post: “Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has made it clear that the climate bill needs to be within striking distance of 60 votes before he will bring it to the floor.”

Evangelical leader Joel Hunter, at climate bill announcement, urges Senate to put aside politics and protect God’s creation: “I don’t want to be standing before God on Judgment Day and be saying, ‘Gee the votes just weren’t there,”

Kerry insists Republicans are in play. The Hill quotes: “I have heard even several Republicans in these last days tell me in private that they are encouraged by what is in this bill, and they are anxious to review it and to work on it.”

Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard gets positive reacts from key Senators: “[Graham] kept the door to a yes-vote slightly open … Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), an opponent of offshore drilling … appears to be satisfied by the actual draft … Bingaman (D-NM) … has been agitating for the Senate to vote on his energy-only bill rather than pushing through a bill with a cap on carbon this year. Although this draft includes a cap, he at least appears open to it … Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) … seems upbeat though he said he still wants more protections for manufacturing…”

And ClimateWire picks up some negative reacts: “Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, a moderate Republican whom Kerry has been seeking as a co-sponsor, said she remains concerned about ‘taxes’ … Cantwell, when asked by a reporter yesterday if it seemed like Kerry and Lieberman were bending to her concerns, said, ‘I doubt it.'”

GOP Sen. Voinovich opens the door a crack: “Voinovich, who is viewed as a possible swing vote, said the bill was put forward ‘in good faith and with much thought.’ But he also indicated he is leaning against it.”

Lieberman reminds obstructionists that the EPA won’t wait, on CNN: “There’s another clock ticking here besides the election. And it’s the clock that goes off on January 1 next year, when the Environmental Protection Agency has the power and has promised to begin to regulate greenhouse gas emissions – carbon pollution – by executive order.”

$6B in revenue from motor fuel pollution permit marked for transportation. Some say that’s not enough. CQ: “It is unclear how much money the motor fuels portion of the measure would raise in total, but transportation lobbyists said that in talks with Senate aides, the total has ranged from $20 billion to $60 billion. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) said all revenue raised from motor fuels should go into the [highway] trust fund…” Whereas Streetsblog finds transportation reformers pleased: “‘The authors deserve high praise for ensuring that revenues generated from the transportation sector go in part toward meeting the growing demand for more, better and cleaner travel options,’ Geoff Anderson, co-chairman of the advocacy group Transportation for America, said…”

TNR’s Brad Plumer says smart-growth proponents like the “holistic” transit approach: “… the climate bill also requires the Department of Transportation to develop a national plan for reducing emissions from the transport sector—everything from coordinating electric-car infrastructure, for instance, to setting standards so that, say, electric utilities and automakers are working together.”

“350” standard not met says Citizens Climate Lobby’s Steve Valk: “Any legislation to address climate change needs to have the overarching goal of getting us back to 350 ppm of CO2 and keeping us there. But you’ll find no mention of this in the Kerry-Lieberman bill for one simple reason: There’s no way in hell their bill can achieve this goal. What’s really scary, however, is that most of the politicians in Washington are operating under the assumption that we don’t need to get to 350. The real eye-opener for me came last fall when a Senate aide I met with said we just need to keep CO2 under 450 ppm.”

SmartPower’s Brian Keane says “we can’t wait for perfect”: “The bill seems to strike the right balance – focusing on climate change, but understanding that fundamentally this also needs to be about job creation.”

Blog for Clean Air’s Frank O’Donnell worried about scaling back of EPA authority: “The ‘Task Force’ (which includes EPA, but also some historic enemies of clean-air controls) is told to explore ‘existing programs’ and regulations for coal-fired power plants and the ‘effect’ those programs could have on the transition to lower-carbon plants … the attacks on the Clean Air Act’s smog, soot and toxics safeguards for power plants are officially underway.”

BP’s “fail safe” was a leaky test version with a dead battery. W. Post:: “In a devastating review of the blowout preventer that BP said was supposed to be ‘fail-safe,’ …Stupak said that the committee investigators had also uncovered a document prepared in 2001 by the drilling rig operator Transocean that said there were 260 ‘failure modes’ that could require removal of the blowout preventer. ‘How can a device that has 260 failure modes be considered fail-safe?’ Stupak said.”

Criminal charges in Gulf spill likely. McClatchy: “Federal investigators are likely to file criminal charges against at least one of the companies … raising the prospects of significantly higher penalties than a current $75 million cap on civil liability … under the Clean Water and Air Acts and other federal laws aimed at protecting migratory birds, an accidental oil spill of this magnitude could at least result in misdemeanor negligence charges.”

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The Black Caucus Has A Jobs Plan

Black Caucus stepping up pressure for summer jobs funding. CQ: “… it is insisting quite publicly that Democratic leaders not allow Congress to start the one-week Memorial Day recess before spending $1.5 billion on a youth summer jobs program … noting that the unemployment rate for African-American teens is around 40 percent. The need to help them get work is so urgent, these lawmakers say, that the money should be exempt from pay-as-you-go requirements…”

House considering $85B research bill. CQ: “The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (HR 5116) is aimed at boosting U.S. economic competitiveness through federal support of various science and technology education and research programs. It would authorize the spending from fiscal 2011 through 2015 for programs at the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and certain Energy Department research programs … Democrats said that the bill would create jobs … Republicans, however, criticized the cost…”

Congressional TARP oversight panel questions small biz strategy. Bloomberg: “TARP programs so far have shown ‘poor performance’ in helping small businesses because of low participation from community banks and other factors including weak loan demand, the report released today showed. Also, the Treasury Department’s small-business assistance has focused on providing capital to banks that supply loans, rather than assistance to companies with the potential to create jobs.”

UAW concerned auto workers won’t rebound along with auto executives. NYT: “As one automaker, the Ford Motor Company, restores some perks for salaried workers, [incoming UAW President Bob] King is putting the companies on notice that he expects hourly workers to be given back some of the benefits they surrendered as the bottom lines of all three car companies improve … The union is expected to ask that some of its givebacks be reversed during contract talks with the carmakers in 2011…”

Is the economy going through a major restructuring, risking leaving millions of experienced workers behind? NYT: “Millions of workers who have already been unemployed for months, if not years, will most likely remain that way even as the overall job market continues to improve, economists say. The occupations they worked in, and the skills they currently possess, are never coming back in style. And the demand for new types of skills moves a lot more quickly than workers — especially older and less mobile workers — are able to retrain and gain those skills.”

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Breakfast Sides

Our government is back on the job protecting the public interest, and the corporate interests don’t like it. NYT: “The surge in rule-making has resulted from an unusual confluence of factors, from repeated outbreaks of food-borne illnesses to workplace disasters … Manufacturers, home builders, toymakers and others say that Washington has been overzealous about imposing new requirements … Obama administration officials reject the criticism, saying that the benefits associated with the dozens of major rules adopted between President Obama’s inauguration and the end of 2009 outweigh the costs by an estimated $3.1 billion…”

The immigrant crime wave used to justify Arizona’s anti-immigration law is a myth: “The main argument behind Arizona’s new law, SB 1070, is that the state’s presumed crime wave is linked to undocumented immigrants. But … crime across the state has consistently declined over the years despite an increase in the population.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The CNN ireport – LIVING IN A TOXIC TOWN. CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta invite you to put on video what you know.

 www.ireport.com/ir-topic-stories….

Living in a toxic town

Many residents of Mossville, Louisiana, suspect their proximity to more than a dozen chemical plants may be responsible for what they say are high rates of cancer and other diseases in the area.

Is there a place near you where pollution is making people sick? CNN is investigating the environment’s effects on health as part of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Toxic Towns USA special. We want you to join us in the newsgathering process.

“Put yourself on video and document conditions in your area, or take photos of what’s around you. Tell us what industrial or chemical pollution may be contributing to health problems for you and those you love, and be sure not to put yourself in a dangerous situation,” CNN writes.

“Tell us about toxic towns near you and Dr. Gupta may report on your community.”

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