A Pesticide Banned, or Not, Underscores Trans-Atlantic Trade Sensitivities
By DANNY HAKIM, The New York Times, February 24, 2015
Diverging regulatory approaches to atrazine, a herbicide made by a Swiss company but not used in Europe, shows the hurdles in trade negotiations.
Our website is sensitive to this issue because we know what happened when a US business moved to Canada and from there under US-Canada agreements tried to force the State of California to allow Tetra-Ethyl Lead in the gasoline used in US transportation – against the law in California – and Washington did nothing in what amounted to an extortion of $450 million from the Californian treasury in order to get that menace out of their hairs.
From: Beyt Tikkun Synagogue shul at tikkun.org via mail.salsalabs.net- this comes from Oakland, California and shows the Jewish way of love for Planet Earth and all Creation. You do not have to be religious to see this – and we are not religious.
SEDER FOR THE EARTH & CLIMATE MARCH.
*When: Saturday, February 07 2015 @ 11:00 AM – - 12:00PM
No rain: Frank Ogawa Plaza nr. the Rotuda near the 15th & Broadway entry to the Plaza
In case of Rain: 685 14th Street (the Unitarian Church
We davven the morning service first at Rabbi Lerner’s home from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. then go to Frank Ogawa Plaza at Broadway and 15th street in Downtown Oakland to set up for a short (one hour) Tu B’shvat Seder.
If you can get there by 10:30 a.m. to help us set up, that would be sweet.
We will have a few tables and a few chairs in the alley way near the Rotunda on the other side of the plaza from City Hall, assuming it isn’t raining heavily. Please bring a chair to sit on it if you can, and something delicious to nosh, or just come–we’ll have fruit and grape juice for the seder if you tell us you are coming BEFORE Friday 10 a.m. Feb. 6th so we can buy enough!! But if you haven’t done so, come anyway, but get there by 11 a.m. (which requires that you also give yourself at least 15-20 minutes to park if you come by car–there are big parking structures down there around 11 th and 12th streets–but environmentally best to come via the BART).
Rain is predicted but we have no way of knowing whether that is going to be like the heavy rain expected for Friday, or a much lighter rain that won’t be a big deal.
If the rain in heavy, the 1st Unitarian Church of Oakland, at 685 14th street, has graciously agreed to let us hold the seder in their building in their Wendte Hall (NOT the main sanctuary, where something else is happening).
After the Seder we will march up to where the march is happening (a mere four blocks away), and meet up with our already-drenched allies for the march. Be sure to bring clothing and umbrellas just in case.
Please let us know that you plan to attend and please spread the word to your non-Jewish friends as well–The Seder for the Earth is free and a wonderful way to begin the environmental march that will begin at noon at the same place.
TIKKUN IS PART OF THE NETWORK OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESSIVES (NSP) – they like to talk of “rEVOLution” for how to EVOLVE into a a decent world. Their kind of true revolution comes about with a little “r” with large “EVOL” so there is no blood-shedding. spiritualprogressives.org/newsite…
It came up when I googled for Ahmad Fawzi in pursuit of content for another article – and decided that this was an exchange in 2012 that has renewed value today.
Afrasiabi gained a PhD in Political Science from Boston University in 1988, under the supervision of Professor Howard Zinn, with a thesis titled “State and Populism in Iran.”
Afrasiabi has taught political science at the University of Tehran, Boston University, and Bentley University. Afrasiabi has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1989-1990), University of California, Berkeley (2000-2001), Binghamton University (2001-2002) and the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran. During 2004-2005, Afrasiabi was involved in Iran as an advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.
Afrasiabi is a former consultant to the United Nations “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, for which he interviewed the former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami.
Afrasiabi is a member of the advisory board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Afrasiabi has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and newspapers, including Harvard Theological Review, Harvard International Review, UN Chronicle, Boston Globe, Global Dialogue, Middle East Journal, Mediterranean Affairs, Brown’s Journal of World Affairs, International Herald Tribune, Der Tageszeit, Der Tagesspiegel, Journal of International Affairs, Telos, Nation Magazine, Asia times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Monthly Review, as well as dozens of articles and letters in The New York Times. Afrasiabi has made dozens of television appearances as a Middle East expert on CNN, Aljazeera, Voice of America, PBS, BBC, PressTV, Russia Today, and other networks.
Selected works by Afrasiabi:
After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (1994)
Nir/North: A Cinematic Story about the Iran-Contra Affair (1996)
Islam and Ecology (2003)
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction (2006)
Reading in Iran’s Foreign Policy After September 11 (2008)
Looking For Rights At Harvard (2010)
UN Management Reform (2011)
Iran Phobia and US Terror Plot: A Legal Deconstruction (2012)
A Controversy with Harvard that blew out of proportion in Boston:
Afrasiabi v. Mottahedeh
From 1996 to 2003, Afrasiabi was involved in a legal conflict with Roy Mottahedeh, former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, who had been his superior during Afrasiabi’s time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, and Harvard University itself.
The conflict started with an alleged extortion against Mottahedeh’s subordinates and a “pre-dawn” arrest of Afrasiabi by Harvard police, and terminated in 2003 with a civil rights case against Harvard, Mottahedeh and the Supreme Court of the United States, in which Afrasiabi acted as his own attorney. During associated controversies, Afrasiabi was supported by Mike Wallace of the US television program 60 Minutes, author David Mamet, linguist Noam Chomsky, and political scientist Howard Zinn, and former deputy prime minister of Iran, Farhang Mehr. In a video deposition, Mr. Wallace has defended Afrasiabi and accused professor Mottahedeh of making false statements to him about Afrasiabi. His “David and Goliath” battle with Harvard has been praised by Mike Wallace, who has stated “I admire Dr. Afrasiabi. He has been wronged. The cannons of Harvard are lined up against a pea shooter.”
June 2010 incident
On June 27, 2010, Afrasiabi went to the Zuzu restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to Afrasiabi, employees there showed “racist and indecent behavior” and “treated him unprofessionally”, after which he exited the restaurant without finishing his meal nor paying for it. He approached some police standing nearby. A restaurant employee approached the police. The police then arrested Afrasiabi, on the basis of an outstanding warrant. Afrasiabi claims the warrant was issued in error, based on a 1986 unregistered vehicle incident, for which he had already paid the fines. The police claim it originated from an incident in 1999. Afrasiabi described the arrest taking place with “a racist attitude.” While in custody, Afrasiabi claims that he was denied the right to a telephone call to contact his family and/or a lawyer. He said that the police officers were racist and brutal, stating, “If I had blond hair and blue eyes and had an American-sounding last name, no, I wouldn’t have been subjected to this. They did this to me because they’re racist.”
In July 2010, Afrasiabi filed a formal complaint against Cambridge police alleging racism and physical injury in the hands of Cambridge police, who placed him under arrest after he had approached them to complain of being mistreated at a restaurant. The basis for his arrest was an outstanding warrant for a 1986 ticket, which Afrasiabi claimed to have paid at the time. A judge in Newton, Massachusetts agreed with Afrasiabi and dismissed the warrant without imposing any fines. Afrasiabi has alleged that while being transported to a court the next day, he was deliberately injured when the police van slammed the break after driving in full speed, resulting in Afrasiabi’s multiple visits to hospitals. The Cambridge police initially claimed that Afrasiabi had walked out of a restaurant without paying and then changed their story, deleting any reference to the restaurant. In a letter to The Cambridge Chronicle, Afrasiabi has demanded an apology from the police for what he alleges is their racist and brutal mistreatment of him.
Upton, Geoffrey C. (1996-02-08). “Former Post-Doc Will Stand Trial; Afrasiabi Denies Extortion Charge, Cites ‘Mind-Blowing Conspiracy’”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04. ias44.ias.berkeley.edu/Newsletter…
Fathi, Nazila (2004-11-28). “Iran Reasserts Its Right to Enrich Uranium as Standoff Persists”. The New York Times.
Khatami, Mohammad; Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (2006-09-11). “Mohammad Khatami on the Dialogue Among Civilizations”. United Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
Afrasiabi, Kaveh L. (2005-02-17). “A letter to America”. Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
“KAVEH L. AFRASIABI, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. HARVARD UNIVERSITY; HARVARD UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; RICHARD W. MEDEROS; FRANCIS RILEY; LAUREEN DONAHUE; CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES; ROY P. MOTTAHEDEH; REZA ALAVI and SHOBHANA RANA, Defendants, Appellees.”. United States Court of Appeals. 2002-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Al Jazeera America afrasiabik at yahoo.com to me May 17, 2012
Thanks so here s my real question;
What can third world leaders from iran bolivia etc do to make a real splash in rio? I would appreciate an answer. I was thinking of an ad hoc sub group making joint statement beyond the resolution etc.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®
and my answer:
Real fast answer – as you can see from my website – I do not shy away from the two countries you mention – an ALBA button is right there in front of my website. Having made that remark – I would suggest that specifically these two countries would be best advised to keep out of the limelight.
For AlLBA – it is Ecuador with some help from Argentina and Chile – that speaks up and that is perfect.
Then, for the best of the countries in trouble spoke recently Bangladesh, Fiji, Grenada, Costa Rica, even Mexico.
Subjects like the issue of going to the International Court of Justice for transnational pollution and climate change, and the effects on the poorest countries – these are subjects that can make a splash.
Also, backing A SMALL OFFICE of a UN Commissioner for Future Generations and the need to do away with the GDP as yardstick for Growth, and some reference to Well Being and Happiness that are not based on consumption (the Bhutan concept) are good topics where your two named countries could be seconds if someone else leeds.
Bolivia has done very well in the past by pushing the Pacha Mama, but Iran has never understood that it had a great pre-Islamic past and thus failed to establish real leadership of any kind.
While Bolivia’s problem is that it pushed too hard, Iran’ problem is that it did not push at all its culture of the past and militancy is not what the UN is about. In both cases what I really talk about – is a real push of culture for the 21-st century.
and the third round of that day:
From Kaveh Afrasiabi to me:
How about int environmental court championed by morales?
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®
and my answer:
I really think now that I gave you enough, and basically – all that material is indeed on my web because these are the things that made me decide to keep the site going. In my book – Copenhagen was the last place that saw progress – and that was thanks to Obama who brought in the Chinese for the first time, and they brought in the IBSA as well.
Many thanks i will quote you in my piece and send y link
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®
and the following day:
I have a small book on un reform it s’at un bookshop. Fyi
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®
Having found this by accident, I intend now to restart that contact
to find out what the gentleman is doing these days.
I will post here some excerpts of this very interesting and long article – this with my thinking of the latest changes in Greece
and wondering if rhetoric is true change and how can Greece fare in a capitalist world with management outside its borders but vested interests residing also in the country it
self. Will there be a Greek Pachamama in Europe’s future? Will the Tsipris Greece be the Morales of an ALBA Charge of anti-capitalist rhetoric in Europe?
Bolivia offers a case study on the impact of climate change, people’s resistance to exploitation and racist oppression, and the potential for genuine change from below.
The number of conflicts over natural resource extraction and refining, road building and pipeline construction, and forest and water use have all steadily grown under Morales.
Ruthless extraction of Bolivia’s bountiful natural resources has concentrated the natural and social wealth of the country in a small group at the top of society, and exposed Bolivians to an extreme degree of imperial intrigue and attempted subjugation.
In stark contrast to monoculture farming, several hundred different varieties of potato are grown in the Bolivian Andes, as a resilient subsistence food by 200,000 small-scale farmers.
With the melting of the Andean mountains ice and climate change farmers no longer know how community can grow food because “it now rains at all different times, and it’s drier for longer. This place did not used to be as hot as it is now.”
Higher average temperatures will lead to an increase in evaporation, causing soils to dry out. In turn, drier soils will increase erosion and loss of topsoil, an effect that will be compounded by two other effects of a warmer climate.
But for all of Morales’ rhetorical championing of “buen vivir,” Gudynas believes that the MAS government instead operates more along the lines of a new form of Keynesian neoliberalism, or what he calls “neo-extractivismo.”
And despite a change in official rhetoric, and some welcome redistribution of wealth, Morales’ policies are practically the same as his predecessors’ with respect to natural resource extraction.
“We have lost an opportunity for something based on our self-organization and self-management.”
“The people do not decide; the government decides. Despite the constitution guaranteeing rights for indigenous people and Mother Earth, those policies are not implemented; they are just words.”
As through so much of its history, the small Andean nation of Bolivia sits at the center of a whirlwind of political, social and climatological questions. Arguably, no other country thus far in the 21st century raises the question of an “exit strategy” from neoliberal capitalism more concretely, and with greater possibility and hope, than Bolivia. That hope is expressed specifically in the ruling party, MAS, or Movement Toward Socialism. The country’s leader, former coca farmer and union organizer Evo Morales – South America’s first indigenous leader since pre-colonial times – was overwhelmingly elected to his third term of office in 2014. Morales has broadly popularized the Quechua term pachamama, which denotes a full commitment to ecological sustainability, and public hopes remain high that he’ll guide the country toward realizing that principle.
Bolivia has seen impressive and consistent economic growth since Morales’ first election victory in 2006, including the establishment of government programs to alleviate poverty and attain the social equity goals promised in his campaign. However, this growth has primarily rested on an expanded and intensified exploitation of the country’s natural resources, principally from fossil fuel production, mining, and the growth of large-scale, mono-crop agriculture and manufacturing.
This economic growth has also created what the Bolivian non-governmental organization CEDLA (Centro de Estudios Para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario) calls the rise of a new bourgeoisie comprised of Santa Cruz agriculture producers, traders from the west of the country and small mining producers. The Bolivian government also believes that a new class is emerging, and will become Bolivia’s new dominant group. Carlos Arce, researcher from CEDLA, says in an article in the Bolivian press:
A new type of entrepreneur has emerged from the popular classes. These emerging strata are mostly traders and are also present in the cooperative sectors, especially in mining. This new type of entrepreneur saves more and has a more austere mentality, in the classical Weberian sense. Within the state, representatives of this strata interface with middle-class intellectuals and other sectors of society, seeking to build alliances with small urban and rural producers that respond to the prerogatives of the market.
The so-called “plural economy” institutionalized by the government recognizes the state, communitarian, private and cooperative forms of economic organization. It also puts the state in direct control of the plans for economic development. In other words, the Bolivian people are the owners of the natural resources, but it is the state that administers and industrializes these natural resources.
In Arce’s view, the government exalts this new “emerging bourgeoisie.” The government’s program of a plural economy “facilitates the alliance of these market-driven sectors with key sectors of international capital. This opens the door to transnational corporations and makes permanent their presence.”
In December 2014, the Financial Times reported on the rise of a new indigenous bourgeoisie in El Alto, less constrained by older cultural ties of thrift, and striving for greater wealth, more ostentatious luxury buildings and opulent traditional clothing.
On the other hand, while many journalists and analysts have focused on the accomplishments of the Morales’ government, few have looked at the state of the labor force, unions and labor conditions. Research by local organizations shows that finding secure employment has become very difficult. According to the Bolivian Labor Ministry’s own data just 30 percent of the labor force in Bolivia has a secure and formal job, with almost 70 percent working in the informal sector. These workers have no employment security, which makes people more dependent on welfare protections and programs that have become more elaborate and extensive in recent years.
Bolivia’s geography is very diverse: The verdant and tropical Amazonian lowlands give way to the austere beauty of the highlands and snow-capped peaks of the Andes that ring the capital, La Paz. Bolivian elevations range from 130 to 6,000 meters above sea level dividing the country into three distinct geographical areas: the high plateau, the Andean valleys and the eastern lowlands.
Given all of these factors, Bolivia offers a case study on the impact of climate change, people’s resistance to exploitation and racist oppression, and the potential for genuine change from below.
Much of that resistance was formed in response to centuries of relentless extraction of the country’s minerals, semi-precious and precious metals, and guano. Following the privatization of Bolivia’s public airline, train system and electric utility, in 1999, the government sold the water and sanitation system of Cochabamba to a transnational consortium. Over the following five months, mass demonstrations and violent confrontations with the police and military forced the government to cancel the contract and keep the water supply in public hands. This popular struggle for public control of water became recognized worldwide as the Cochabamba Water War.
Marcela Olivera is a water commons organizer based in Cochabamba, Bolivia. After graduating from the Catholic University in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Marcela worked for four years in Cochabamba as the key international liaison for the Coalition for the Defense of Water and Life, the organization that fought and defeated water privatization in Bolivia. Since 2004, she has been developing and consolidating an inter-American citizens’ network on water justice named Red VIDA.
Chris Williams is an environmental activist and author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis. He is chairman of the science department at Packer Collegiate Institute and adjunct professor at Pace University in the department of chemistry and physical science. His writings have appeared in Z Magazine, Green Left Weekly, Alternet, CommonDreams, ClimateandCapitalism.com, Counterpunch, The Indypendent, Dissident Voice, International Socialist Review, Truthout, Socialist Worker and ZNet. He reported from Fukushima and was a Lannan writer-in-residence in Marfa, Texas. He recently was awarded a Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship.
For the eleventh consecutive year, on a glorious end-of-summer night, the intersection of Wall and North Front Streets in Kingston will become “The Jazz Corner of Upstate New York.” Once again, in an evening of music that should not be missed, the Wall Street Jazz Festival presents an array of some of today’s finest jazz artists – pianist Laura Dubin’s trio, saxophonist Virginia Mayhew’s quintet, pianist Roberta Piket’s sextet, plus two all-star ensembles featuring saxophonists “Sweet” Sue Terry and Claire Daly, singers Jay Clayton and Teri Roiger, pianist (and the festival’s Artistic Director) Peggy Stern, among others. For many years now, this annual event has been one of the highlights of my summer, an exciting and engaging way to enjoy the music I love in an elegant, intimate, and inviting setting.
The Wall Street Jazz Festival, “where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women,” it’s happening Saturday, August 30, from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. in Kingston, NY – and it’s all free!
Zephyr Teachout teaches at Fordham Law School. She is the former National Director of the Sunlight Foundation and Director of Online Organizing for Howard Dean’s Campaign. She is a Board Member of Public Campaign Action Fund and Fight for the Future.
She wrote: “In a blog post this week, Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer critiqued an essay I wrote recently entitled “Constitutional Purpose and the Anti-Corruption Principle.” The basic argument of my essay is that the global purposes of the Constitution should be relevant in making hard Constitutional decisions. We ought look beyond the purposes of particular clauses and to the Constitution as a whole when making sense of the application of particular clauses. As I point out in the essay, Courts already do this: they interpret clauses to be consistent with the global principle of Separation of Powers, for instance, even though there is no “Separation of Powers” clause. Therefore, given the strong historical evidence that anti-corruption concerns were as fundamental as any other at the Constitutional convention, anti-corruption concerns should get significant constitutional weight when interpreting other clauses, like the First Amendment.
She was a Professorial adviser to “Occupy Wall Street” – and that is why we make the connection here.
There she was, Prof. Zephir Teachout of Fordham University, just to the right of the stage, waving her arms furiously, hoping that the event’s host, Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, would see her and give her a shout-out. No such luck; a tall security guard was in the way.
As Zephyr Teachout was leaving the gospel concert in East Flatbush, a man in a wheelchair called out, “Who are you?” Ever eager, she explained that she was running as a progressive against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the Democratic primary.
The man, won over, pointed to a homemade campaign button pinned to Ms. Teachout’s jacket. “Can I have your button?” he asked. She gladly obliged.
Just a few months ago, Ms. Teachout was a popular Fordham University law professor with ties to Occupy Wall Street and a keen interest in political corruption. But after the liberal Working Families Party approached her to run against Mr. Cuomo — before it arrived at a bitterly contested decision to stick by the governor — Ms. Teachout decided, with the encouragement of other liberal activists, to mount her own long-shot campaign.
Yes, she knows that few New Yorkers have heard of her. Yes, she knows that she will not have enough money for television ads. And yes, she knows that her best shot at statewide exposure — a debate with Mr. Cuomo — is unlikely. Still, she insists that she is gaining momentum, and is zestily campaigning with a kind of cynicism-free optimism that makes her a sunny surprise.
“I didn’t know politics would be this much fun!” she beamed after a South Asian festival in Queens a week ago.
Privately, Ms. Teachout’s admirers say that her campaign has already succeeded, by forcing Mr. Cuomo to embrace more liberal causes. If she gets more than 25 percent in the Sept. 9 primary, some argue, then Mr. Cuomo might need to worry about liberal angst heading into a general election against the Republican candidate, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.
Ms. Teachout does not pretend that her task will be easy. But she said the worst that could happen would be that she got only 1 percent of the vote, and that she became known as an idealistic but politically naïve professor.
“We’re underdogs, we know that, but we’re serious underdogs,” she said at a house party near her apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Ms. Teachout and her running mate for lieutenant governor, Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, talked about winning over the small number of Democrats who actually vote in primaries.
They hope to tap into disillusionment or even anger with Mr. Cuomo among teachers, public employees and upstate residents opposed to hydraulic fracturing.
“In the face of Andrew Cuomo’s silence, I am being loud,” she said in Fort Greene.
Mr. Cuomo has not publicly mentioned Ms. Teachout by name, and his campaign has declined to comment on her candidacy.
Still, avid Democrats are getting to know her. A Vermont native, Ms. Teachout, 42, worked as a death penalty lawyer in North Carolina and co-founded an organization intent on breaking up Wall Street banks. The author of a coming book on political corruption, she is on track for tenure at Fordham early next year.
Her most formative political experience came in 2003, when she became the director of online organizing for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.
“She was terrific; she was hard-working,” Mr. Dean said during a 10th-anniversary celebration that Ms. Teachout attended for Democracy for New York City, a Dean-inspired group.
She often mentions two United States senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — as role models. She also raves about State Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx and Letitia James, the New York City public advocate.
She even buys into the anti-“crony capitalism” message, if not the prescription, of Dave Brat, the Virginia professor and Tea Party upstart who defeated Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader, in the Republican primary in June.
Like Mr. Brat, Ms. Teachout has little money. But contributions have increased so much since Mr. Cuomo unsuccessfully tried to kick her off the ballot that a highly targeted online advertising campaign is planned. She has a paid staff of about 10, and shares a cramped office in Midtown Manhattan with lawyers, real estate brokers and a casting company.
On the trail, she often asks people what they want in a governor. She has also honed a stump speech, talking about her unusual name (yes, that is her first name, and her last name is Dutch), then touching on public schools, small businesses, transportation and infrastructure.
“In my vision we can have an economy and a democracy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” she said at a street fair outside the Bronx Zoo a week ago, eliciting a few “that’s right” replies.
To get around, Ms. Teachout usually takes public transportation or relies on rides from volunteers, especially when she travels to Ithaca, Binghamton and other areas to fire up “fractivists.” One afternoon she spent $65 to take five people, including an aide and an independent filmmaker, from the Bronx to Queens by livery cab.
Things do not always go according to plan.
At the Chatpati Mela celebration in Jackson Heights, for example, she could not distribute any campaign literature (black-and-white photocopies) or speak onstage — it was a strictly nonpartisan affair.
Unfazed, she talked excitedly with vendors until she stumbled upon some Bangladeshis selling saris. After hearing about the travails of establishing small businesses, she bought an orange one for $20, and tried it on.
“Should I wear this to my debate with Governor Cuomo?” she joked.
A version of this article appears in print on August 25, 2014, on page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.
FROM COHA – The Washington DC based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
Photo Source: AP.
NOW IT IS THE TIME FOR A WASHINGTON—CARACAS DIALOG, NOT SANCTIONS.
By: Larry Birns, Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs; Frederick B. Mills, Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and Professor of Philosophy at Bowie State University.
February 28, 2014
At a time when Washington ought to seize upon overtures from Caracas for the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations and direct talks, the champions of the antiquated embargo against Cuba in the Senate are calling for sanctions against Venezuela. Such an approach to diplomacy with Venezuela would be detrimental to the development of a more constructive and mutually respectful US policy towards the region. Now is the time for a Washington—Caracas dialog, not sanctions.
Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez and Republican Senator Marco Rubio have introduced a proposed resolution in the Senate that would call on the Obama administration to study sanctions against Venezuela. The sanctions would be aimed at punishing “the violent repression suffered by pacific protesters” by targeting individual Venezuelan government officials. Of course, any state actors responsible for the repression of pacific demonstrations ought to be held accountable not only in Venezuela, but anywhere in the world. Indeed, the Venezuelan government is already taking steps to address this. The problem with the resolution is that it reflects a very myopic view of political violence in that nation. It also reflects an unproductive approach to diplomacy towards Venezuela as well as the region.
Not all demonstrations have been pacific. A significant amount of the violent demonstrations are ostensively anti- government. The “exit” strategy being sought after by the ultra-right in Venezuela has generated violent anti-government demonstrations that have called for regime change through extra constitutional means. In other words, through a coup or by creating the escalating violence on the ground that might provoke a coup or an international intervention.
No doubt opposition demonstrators are not a homogeneous group and many prescribe to non-violent means of protesting. Yet it is indisputable that elements of anti-government protests, using the slogans of “exit,” have deployed incendiary bombs, rocks, guns, barricades, wire, and other instruments of violence against government and public property as well as people, resulting in injuries and death. But those who have resorted to violence are most often portrayed in the press as responding to repression, as if the government has no legitimate recourse in response to violent attacks on persons and property. To be sure, violence is generally condemned by the State Department, but accountability is selectively applied predominantly to government actors.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs has been calling for a change of course in US policy towards Venezuela and the rest of the region based on mutual respect and dialog, not imperial intervention and subordination.
It was Caracas that instigated the tit for tat after the expulsion of consular officials, and COHA called the expulsion of US consular officials into question at the time. But now President Maduro has proposed a new ambassador to the US and direct talks with the Obama administration. The State Department has also, on occasion, expressed an openness to rapprochement, so now is the time to seize the moment, not wait to see which way the political winds will blow in Venezuela.
There is obviously a great ideological divide between nations that prescribe to some version of neoliberalism and those engaging in various experiments in 21st century socialism. Yet such differences need not translate into either hard or soft wars. At the January CELAC meeting in Cuba, the member states, despite their political differences, figured out a way to declare all of Latin America a region of peace and mutual respect. Meanwhile, there is a national peace conference underway in Caracas, called by the government, that commenced two days ago and includes an increasingly broad spectrum of opinion in the opposition, and seeks to overcome the boycott of the MUD. This will take a pull back against war and for political competition through the ballot box.
Surely, in this context, there is room for Washington-Caracas diplomacy. Rather than impose sanctions on Venezuela, Washington ought to accept the proposed Venezuelan ambassador and enter into a dialog with Caracas based on mutual respect and the common goal of regional peace and human development.
Please accept this article as a free contribution from COHA, but if re-posting, please afford authorial and institutional attribution.
THE FOLLOWING SHOWS THAT UNDER UK LEADERSHIP, AND US BACKING, THE UN TURNS TO ITS MEMBER STATES’ LEGISLATORS IN ORDER TO FIND A WAY TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE. IT SEEMS THAT FINALLY THE UN HAS LANDED ON SOMETHING – AND WE GIVE A LOT OF CREDIT FOR THIS TO Dr. ROBERT ORR – a US citizen - UN Assistant Secretary General in the UN Secretary-General’s office.
We are told that In 2013 there was substantive legislative progress in 8 countries (passage of “flagship legislation”) and positive advances in a further 19 countries:
– Americas: Bolivia passed its Framework Law on Mother Earth and Integral Development to Live Well; El Salvador adopted its National Climate Change Strategy; In Ecuador, Decree 1815 established the Intersectoral National Strategy for Climate Change; and in Costa Rica a draft General Law on Climate Change has been introduced and is expected to pass in 2014.
– Asia-Pacific: China published its National Adaptation Plan and made progress in drafting its national climate change law; Indonesia extended its forest moratorium; Kazakhstan introduced a pilot emissions trading scheme; Micronesia passed its Climate Change Act in late 2013.
– Europe: Poland adopted its National Strategy for Adaptation and Switzerland overhauled its CO2 Act to increase ambition. – Middle East and North Africa: Jordan passed its National Climate Change Policy; and the United Arab Emirates launched a mandatory Energy Efficiency Standardization and Labelling Scheme. – Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya adopted 2013-2017 Climate Change Action Plan; Mozambique adopted 2013-2025 National Strategy for Climate Change;Tanzania passed its National Strategy on REDD+; Nigeria’s Legislative Council approved the adoption of a National Climate Change Policy and Response Strategy.
BUT WHEN THINGS MOVE UP THEY MAY ALSO COME DOWN – SO - * Two countries began processes to reverse legislation: – Following an election, the new Australian government has proposed to repeal aspects of the Clean Energy Act in 2014. – Japan announced a lowering of its ambition on climate change in response to its reduced reliance on nuclear energy after the tsunami and resulting accident at Fukushima. Key information on the GLOBE Partnership for Climate Legislation (supported by the UN and the World Bank Group):
* The Partnership For Climate Legislation will support national legislators in 66 countries to share best practice and to develop and oversee the implementation of legislation on climate change, natural capital accounting and forests/REDD+. The Partnership directly responds to the demand from legislators for technical, policy and analytical capacity.
* Specific aims: i. To share best legislative practice through the annual GLOBE Climate Legislation Study, national case studies and the convening of GLOBE Climate Legislation Summits. ii. To provide a dedicated international process that supports legislators – on a demand-led basis – to develop and implement climate change legislation. iii. To explore how commitments made in national legislation can be recognised within the architecture of an international climate change agreement. iv. To develop a Climate Legislation Resolution to be agreed at the World Summit of Legislators and to be taken by legislators to their respective national parliaments. v. To support legislators to obtain, use and exchange relevant climate data. * Climate-related legislation and policies (including mitigation, adaptation and forests/REDD), once implemented, carry the potential to bring additional benefits including disaster risk reduction and resilience, new sources of income/livelihoods, sustainable energy access and positive effects on public health.
* Recognizing that developing and passing laws is not sufficient in itself, the Partnership will support legislators to ensure they are equipped to effectively oversee the implementation of the law by national governments, including ensuring national budgets are consistent with climate goals, as well as assessing the impact of climate-related laws on the national economy and key sectors of society.
About the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE): * GLOBE was established in 1989 by cross party legislators from the EU, Japan, Russia and the USA. Today GLOBE International is the world’s largest organisation of legislators dedicated to advancing laws on climate change, forests/REDD+ and natural capital accounting . * Legislators from 86 countries have participated in GLOBE’s dedicated policy initiatives and legislators from 40 countries work through formal national and regional chapters of the organization. * With headquarters in Great Britain, offices in 8 countries and over 25 locally-recruited policy advisors across a global network, GLOBE is uniquely placed to support national legislators to develop and implement laws.
FURTHER – A PRESS RELEASE – THAT WAS EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 UK/GMT 27 FEBRUARY 2014
STUDY REVEALS RAPID ADVANCE OF NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE LAWS CREATING BASIS FOR NEW INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE AGREEMENT
UN and World Bank support partnership with the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) to encourage development of national climate change laws. ********
Thursday 27th February, US Senate, Washington DC, 115 senior national legislators from 50 countries along with the heads of key United Nations Institutions, United Nations Climate Negotiations and the World Bank Group receive the results of the most comprehensive analysis to date of the reach and depth of national climate changes laws in 66 of the world’s countries. The Summit will be hosted in the US Senate Kennedy Caucus Room by Senator Edward Markey.
The Study covering countries responsible for 88% of global carbon emissions was co-authored by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE). The Study sets out a series of politically significant findings that will have a direct bearing on success of the international negotiations. Legislators will also consider how national laws can be recognised within a 2015 international climate change agreement.
Responding to the Study, the Global Legislators Organisation is launching a major new international initiative, The Partnership for Climate Legislation, supported by the United Nations and the World Bank Group. The Partnership will help national legislators to develop and implement climate change laws. It will work across the 66 nations covered by the Study by sharing best legislative practice, provide detailed policy, analytical and legal capacity to cross party groups of legislators as they develop their own laws.
The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study findings show: * Almost 500 national climate laws have been passed in the 66 countries covered by the Study. The 66 countries account for 88% of global emissions. * 64 of 66 countries have progressed or are progressing significant climate and/or energy-related legislation. * Much of the substantive progress on legislative activity on climate change in 2013 took place in emerging economies, including China and Mexico, which will provide the motor of global economic growth in coming decades. * Whilst the legislative approach often differs (whether directly inspired by climate change, energy efficiency, energy security or competitiveness), national legislation is achieving similar results — improved energy security, greater resource-efficiency and cleaner, lower carbon economic growth. * While current national legislation does not yet add up to what needs to be done to avoid dangerous climate change, it is putting in place the mechanisms to measure, report and verify emissions, a pre-requisite for a credible global climate treaty. * There is an urgent need for those countries that have not yet passed climate legislation to do so
US Senator Edward Markey, said: “Climate action is happening in legislatures around the globe because climate change is harming countries and their people around the globe. We need an international movement to pass climate legislation, and nowhere is that movement needed more than here in the United States. The GLOBE study show legislators around the world are taking actives steps to develop significant national legislation and I urge colleagues here in the United States to acknowledge the movement and take action”.
President of the Global Legislators Organisation, Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, said: “The message from the 4th GLOBE Climate Legislation Study is clear – more countries than ever before are passing credible and significant national climate change laws. This is changing the dynamics of the international response to climate change and poses a serious question to the international community about how we can recognise credible commitments made by governments within their national legislature. It is by implementing national legislation and regulations that the political conditions for a global agreement in 2015 will be created.”
“Understanding this message from the Study and embracing it in how major international processes and institutions work between now and Paris 2015 will be critical. We must see more countries develop their own national climate change laws so that when governments sit down in 2015 they will do so in very different political conditions to when they did in Copenhagen. The Partnership for Climate Legislation will support legislators across party political lines to advance climate change-related legislation. The Partnership will provide a combination of political, analytical and administrative capacity. It will also serve as a platform where legislators from across the world can meet, discuss common barriers, issues and successes and share information about best legislative practice”.
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres said: “It is no exaggeration to say that theclean revolution we need is being carried forward by legislation. Domestic legislation is critical because it is the linchpin between action on the ground and the international agreement. At the national level, it is clear that when countries enact clean energy policies, investment follows. At the international level, it is equally clear that domestic legislation opens the political space for international agreements and facilitates overall ambition”.
World Bank Group Vice-President and Special Envoy Rachel Kyte said: “2014 is the year we need to step up climate action. Legislators have a critical role to play in raising political ambition and ensuring that effective laws and regulations support low carbon and resilient development. For this reason, we’re pleased to support the new Partnership for Climate Legislation”.
The President of the Mexican Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes said: “With the support of GLOBE, Mexico has passed ambitious climate legislation. We are here today in the US Senate to share our experience, to build a global coalition of parliamentarians against the damaging effects of climate change and to challenge inaction.”
UK Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon William Hague said: “A global and legally binding deal on emissions reductions in the UNFCC in 2015 is imperative. As we work towards that agreement, it is clear that domestic legislation has a key role to play in building consensus and cementing ambition, which is why GLOBE’s work is so important. The launch of GLOBE’s Partnership forClimate Legislation, with the backing of the UN and World Bank, is an important step towards sustaining this work for long term, which the UK Government wholeheartedly supports”.
Confirmed Keynote Speakers included:
Representing the United Nations Secretary General’s Office: * UN Assistant Secretary-General, Dr Robert Orr Representing the World Bank: * World Bank Group President, Dr Jim Yong Kim * World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, Rachel Kyte
Representing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: * UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres
Representing the United Nations Environment Programmes: * UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner
Representing the Congress of Mexico: * President of Congress, Hon. Ricardo Anaya Cortes
————————————————— For further information, please contact:
UNITED NATIONS, February 25 — When Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera spoke to the media on February 25, he was setting the stage for the Group of 77 and China summit set for Santa Cruz in June.
Inner City Press asked him if at the Summit G77 will adopt a position on what should be in the Sustainable Development Goals, and for his response to comments about Bolivia by the International Monetary Fund which Inner City Press reported back on February 10.
He replied that Bolivia doesn’t much care what the IMF says, that if they criticize the country for being too pro-poor, that’s a matter of pride, they are going to do more of it. [Tweeted photo here; higher resolution photos by Free UN Coalition for Access member Luiz Rampelotto, to follow.]
Back on February 10, the IMF had just released its Article IV review of Bolivia, in which it criticized the country’s new Financial Services Law, specifically that
“the law’s general thrust is to subordinate financial sector activities to social objectives with instruments that could create risks to financial stability. Main features of the law include: (i) provisions to regulate lending rates and set minimum lending quotas for the productive sector and social housing; (ii) discretion to set floors on deposit rates; and (iii) mechanisms to enhance consumer protection and financial access in rural areas.”
The IMF Article IV staff report says they met with “Minister of Economy and Public Finances Arce, Central Bank President Zabalaga, Minister of Planning Caro, other senior public officials, and representatives of the private sector. Mr. Tamez and Ms. Kroytor (LEG) provided inputs on the new Financial Services Law at headquarters.”
The IMF staff report also says that “the instruments chosen (interest rate caps and minimum credit quotas) could reduce the profitability and lending funds of financial institutions, over-leverage target beneficiaries, and complicate the conduct of monetary policy.”
Ms. Corbacho of the IMF, on the February 10 embargoed press conference call, largely in Spanish, on which only three media asked questions, replied that Bolivia for example capping interest rates might impact financial institution’s profitability and thus “financial stability.”
She said the government responded that financial inclusion has not progressed fast enough and so they are taking these steps. She the Article IV discussion, which are held with each IMF member, were “very open and frank” with Bolivia, and thus positive.
To Inner City Press, the IMF’s willingness to criticize consumer protection in Bolivia stands in contrast to the IMF’s deference to the US on the how to manage and communicate the Federal Reserve’s tapering, the debt ceiling — anything, essentially.
On February 25, Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera,with his UN Permanent Representative Sacha Llorenti translating, described this is a key time for sustainable development, and that the G77 and China will play a key role, since it has 133 members (2/3 of the UN membership) and represents 70% of the world’s population.
Given that, it was noteworthy that the pro-Western “United Nations Correspondents Association” did not send a single one of their 15 Executive Committee members to the briefing by Bolivia’s vice president about the Group of 77 and China. Tellingly, UNCA last July used the big third floor room the UN gives them to host Saudi-supported Syria rebel leader Ahmad al Jarba for a faux “UN briefing.”
In the same room, also tellingly, the outgoing UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky will hold his farewell on March 7. His deputy Eduardo del Buey held his farewell, more appropriately, in the UN Spokesperson’s office. But this UN is going more and more Gulf and Western, with its spokesperson’s job now passing to France.
We’ll have more on this — for now, we will link to Bolivia’s Vice President’s comments on G77, and on the IMF.
SustainabiliTank actually expected the Bolivian VP to touch also upon the meetings of the SIDS, but seemingly there wee no questions to him on this topic.
Ahead of the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20) to be held this year in Lima, Americas Society/Council of the Americas hosted UNFCCC Executive Secretary ChristianaFigueres, the principal voice on the international climate change negotiations, onTuesday, January 14, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
At the November 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, governments took a step toward a new, universal climate change agreement said Ms. Figueres in her presentation at AS/COA, Ms. Figueres addressed the concrete steps that must be taken in 2014, which will pave the way for the 2015 conference in Paris, where a new global climate agreement for the post-2020 period is to be adopted.
With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties and its ultimate objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
ChristianaFigueres was appointed executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 and was reappointed for a second three year term in July 2013. Ms. Figueres has been involved in climate change negotiations since 1995.
Americas Society (AS) is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship,” it says.
Council of the Americas (COA) is the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The following day – January 15, 2014, Ms. Christiana Figueres, participated at the UN Headquarters at the
Investor Summit on Climate Risk at UN Headquarters – 15 January 2014 – co-hosted by the UN Foundation, UN Office for Partnerships,and Ceres.
Complete agenda can be found at: www.ceres.org/press/press-releases/500-global-investors-to-gather-at-united-nations-summit-on-climate-change
In that room were insurance company and re-insurance companies and other investors – and I was told that about $13 Trillion were represented there. The talk was that $1 Trillion will be invested in clean energy – this is an economics must.
Christiana Figueres – on a panel that included the relentless Timothy Worth who as maverick Senator was part of the US “B” (the Senate) delegation to the Rio 1992 Conference and now heads the UN Foundation that was created with a one Billion US Dollars by Ted Turner, and Mr. Orr representing the UN Secretariat. The agreed conclusion was that INVESTORS OUGHT TO MOVE OUT OF HIGH-CARBON ASSETS.
Why this enhanced interest of Latin America in Climate Change? Is this only because of Brazil that over-extended itself in these topics?
Brazil was host of the Rio 1992 Conference that introduced Environment and Development into the routine lingo of the UN as a double helix of Sustainable Development. They were hosts to creation of the high-level product AGENDA 21 and the three conventions – on Biodiversity, Desertification, and Climate Change. But the majority of the Developing Countries were not ready for it yet – they just wanted DEVELOPMENT – read INDUSTRIALIZATION – and professed not to be the address for Global Sustainability.
The Developed/Industrialized States on the other hand thought that the whole concept was just a give-away to the poorer Nations – something that the established ethics thought to take care of with simple hand-outs of Foreign aid – not an issue of rights.Sustainable Development just did not work in practice.
Then we had the stale-birth of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and the answer five years later – the Millennium Development Goals.
After another 10 years, at the Rio 2012 meeting, Brazil stepped into the breach again, and with excellent diplomacy, and got rid of the Sustainable Development Commission establishing a new debating platform that will channel its activities to a new Agenda – the post 2015 Global Agenda built on a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Part of this process is anchored in Paris at a COP21 meeting of the UNFCCC.
To get there we have the Lima, Peru, meeting of 2014 – and that is the last chance for Latin America to have an impact.
So, here we get to the Latin Year of which Costa Rican Chrstiana Figueres wants to take advantage of, and she is lucky in many respects. The UN stars seem to line up in her direction.
The idea was to have the 2014 UNFCCC meeting in Latin America and at first it was Venezuela that wanted to host the event. In parallel they also wanted to be at the UN – the G77 leaders this year. Bolivia decided to contest both posts. Bolivia won the G77 position – but with the strong opposition from the US to both original candidates – it was Peru that got to be the location of the COP with Venezuela hosting – as a consolation prize – the last preparatory meeting. That is how this year’s Latin UN stars are Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela.
Costs to the economy – The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through global financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. The costs to human and environmental health that is another matter. But luckily – fossil fuel consumption is already in decline — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. But do not count on it – the financial moghuls will not step aside easily. – See more at:
Considering the central place of Bolivia in all of this – them speaking for the ALBA group – the micro-finance answer to the mega-finance of the UN makes sense as well and the Latin Year might turn out to be an ALBA year to be followed by a Developed & Already Emerged Economic States at the Paris Summit with the real power to lead.
Questions for the European Left by Pilar Rahola in The Guardian.
brought to our attention by a Canadian cousin who is very proud of Canada’s position on the Middle East – as expressed by its Prime Minister Harper’s recent visit to Jerusalem.
Dr. Pilar Rahola i Martínez is a Spanish journalist, writer (writes also for the Guardian – the paper we honor most) a former politician and Member of Parliament.
Rahola studied Spanish and Catalan Philology at the Universitad de Barcelona. A Spanish Catholic leftist that denounces the anti Israel wave for its antisemitism – which is not socially acceptable correct diplomacy anymore, but says anti Israel is the same – but seemingly the more accepted course to go.
Quite a lady. What she writes is more impressive because she is NOT Jewish. Her articles are published in Spain and in some of the most important newspapers in Latin America. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilar_Rahola
Questions for the European Left by Pilar Rahola
Why don’t we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris , Barcelona ?
Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship?
Why aren’t there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection?
Why aren’t there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs where there is conflict with Islam?
Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan ?
Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel ?
Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism?
Why don’t they defend Israel’s right to exist?
Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism?
And finally, the million dollar question: Why is the left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the left doesn’t care.
And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro-Palestinian European forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: “We want freedom for the people!”
Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria or Yemen or Iran or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never preoccupied when Hamas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press.
The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don’t inform, they propagandize.
When reporting about Israel, the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written about Israel that there aren’t any accusations left to level against her.
At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel, the indoctrination of children, and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain.
And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from the expulsion document: “Our friends are the people of Iran, Libya and Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel .”
In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka Day, which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing contempt for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Or in my native city of Barcelona, the city council decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, by having a Week of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Thus, they invited Leila Khaled, a noted terrorist from the 70′s and current leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization so described by the European Union, which promotes the use of bombs against Israel .
This politically correct way of thinking has even polluted the speeches of President Zapatero. His foreign policy falls within the lunatic left, and onissues of the Middle East, he is unequivocally pro-Arab. I can assure you that in private, Zapatero places on Israel the blame for the conflict in the Middle East , and the policies of Foreign Minister Moratinos reflect this. The fact that Zapatero chose to wear a kafiah in the midst of the Lebanon conflict is no coincidence; it’s a symbol.
Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they
Kill us with cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages. And yet the Spanish left is the most anti-Israeli in the world.
And then it says it is anti-Israeli because of solidarity. This is the madness I want to denounce in this conference.
I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not anti-Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the Historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel .
To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews.
As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles. Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say, that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too. The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn’t want to accept it, is the struggle of the world.
Bolivia’s Evo Morales: Critical of “The Empire” But Proud of How Far his Nation’s Has Come.
by George Baumgarten, Accredited United Nations Correspondent
His face and native garb have grown more familiar now: the colorfully-trimmed jacket, and the wide, warm smile. Some have been critical, calling him a clone of the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. But Evo Morales Ayma, Bolivia’s now 54-year old President for the last eight years, is nobody’s clone.
Left wing he most surely is—both Socialist and anti-American. But Morales is an original. His greatest pride and priority is his leadership and defense of Bolivia’s native peoples, of whom he most certainly is one. And he can now point with pride to what are said to be significant accomplishments on their behalf.
Juan Evo Morales Ayma was born on 26 October 1959, in the small village of Isallawi, near Orinoca in western Bolivia’s Oruro Department, south of the capital city of La Paz and just west of Lake Poopo. As a youngster he worked as a farmer in Bolivia and northern Argentina, and first learned to speak the native Aymara language. He would go on journeys of several weeks with his father, to trade salt and potatoes for maize and coca (Coca, the raw material of cocaine, is also made into tea, which visitors are advised to drink to combat possible altitude sickness on Bolivia’s (and Peru’s)high plains. It is a major cash crop, and an important part of their culture.). He also attended university in Oruro, and completed all but his final year. After university, Morales spent mandatory time in the army (1977-78), and even once served as a military guard at La Paz’s Palacio Quemado (Presidential Palace). These were tumultuous years in Bolivia, with five presidents and two military coups, in the short space of just two years.
Bolivia shares with Paraguay the distinction of being one of only two land-locked countries on the American continents. It sits on a plain at high altitude, over which tower the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, most notably the volcano of Cotopaxi, overlooking La Paz. The city itself sits at an altitude of some 12,300 feet in a valley, with the airport, known as El Alto (“The High One”) International, overlooking it from a plateau one thousand feet higher. Coming into the capital at night has been described as descending from the airport into a “bowl of stars”.
Returning from his army service, Morales moved with his family to the city of El Chapare, near Cochabamba in the eastern lowlands. There they had a farm which grew rice, oranges, grapefruit, papayas bananas and coca. El Chapare was a town of 40,000 in 1981, which grew in the next seven years into a city of 215,000 people. Morales became active in the union of cocaleros (coca growers), which was his initiation into local politics. He was one of a group of cocaleros who refused a payment to eradicate his coca crop, as urged by the United States. To the farmers, this was an issue of Bolivian national sovereignty.
After serving as General Secretary of the cocalero union, Morales was involved in huge protests against the price of water, and then was finally elected President in late 2005. He was widely regarded as the first democratically-elected indigenous President in Latin America. He quickly let it be known that the improvement of the lot and standard of living of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples would be his first and highest priority. At that time, 16% of Bolivians were said to have been illiterate, and within just a few years, he declared illiteracy to have been eradicated in the country. He also is said to have brought rural electrification to almost all of the country.
Morales came to speak to the U.N. press corps, in his capacity as the newly-installed Chairman of the “Group of 77 [and China]”- a non-aligned (and somewhat anti-western) group within the United Nations General Assembly (not to be confused with the “Non-Aligned Movement”, or N.A.M.).
Bolivia had “inherited” the leadership of the G-77 from Fiji. I asked the President what he thought the Group of 77 could be doing—or should be doing, or what influence they hoped to have—given the current tumultuous world situation, with various wars on several continents. He told me that the “Empire” (as he calls the United States), can neither now stage coup d’etats, or win elections. Sometimes they send in the Blue Helmets (i.e., U.N. Peacekeeping Forces) or N.A.T.O. They “intervene, in order to seize the natural resources” (as in Iraq). Who, he asked, now controls the Libyan oil?
He said that he would ask former Presidents of the G-77 for their advice. He noted that there had been a controversy over Bolivia’s doctors only working for 3-4 hours a day, and that there were those advocating a “blue helmet intervention” – Therefore, he would ask his predecessors as to how to deal with conflicts that are “created and financed” by the “Empire”.
Morales also met with the President of the General Assembly, Antigua’s John W. Ashe, and informed him that he was calling for a conference this coming June in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the G-77. President Ashe thanked Morales for his invitation to participate, and the two leaders agreed on the importance of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the successor phase to the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. Thus was begun this new phase in the career of one of the world’s unique leaders.
Evo Morales may have some contempt for the U.S., and for the West in General. But he is a true leader of his people, and has dedicated himself to the redress of their long-held grievances. And he is genuinely beloved by those whom he serves.
What India does in its own country is India’s business, and ethical people all over the world are entitled to express an opinion about how India handles its social system – BUT when India comes to an outside country – they must submit to the laws of that country where they are mere guests. When they go to a State where there is even more discrimination then in their home country – the Indians ought then to behave among themselves at a minimum according to their own mores – this we include for the sake of Indian homes in Arab States.
Above ought to be rock substance for a US paper of the New York Times stature. Any pussifooting around on this just reminds us of worse days for this paper – the days of its refusal to look at the Holocaust for fear of alienating some perceived American interests.
The Indian diplomat charged with visa fraud and mistreating her domestic worker is back in Mumbai, and tensions between India and the United States have eased. But her case and the issues it raised are not resolved, and the damage to India-America relations is unlikely to dissipate soon. This unfortunate episode is a reminder that while both nations are democracies, neither can avoid the hard work necessary to make the relationship work.
The envoy, Devyani Khobragade, was arrested last monthon a criminal complaint charging that she had paid her maid, Sangeeta Richard, $1.42 an hour or less despite promising on her visa application to pay the minimum wage of $9.75 an hour. Prosecutors said that Ms. Richard was not only underpaid but overworked. Last Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Ms. Khobragade on similar charges and accused her of trying to intimidate the victim.
India, its passions fanned by election-year politics, pushed back hard at what many Indians said was American arrogance. Authorities removed security barriers at the American Embassy in New Delhi, canceled the embassy’s food and alcohol import privileges and engaged in other fits of pique. The State Department, at India’s request, granted Ms. Khobragade diplomatic immunity. But after negotiations with prosecutors on a plea bargain failed, she was asked to leave the United States and, in exchange, an American diplomat was withdrawn from India.
Ms. Khobragade has been hailed at home as a symbol of Indian pride. Her father, a retired bureaucrat and her chief defender, is talking of running for public office with a campaign focused on his daughter’s case. Indians have been overwhelming sympathetic to Ms. Khobragade and shockingly indifferent to Ms. Richard, one of untold numbers of powerless domestic workers lured to America by the promise of a job gone bad.
Even so, the case might have been handled better.The United States cannot ignore laws that mandate how workers should be paid and that they be treated fairly. But federal prosecutors have wide discretion, and the State Department, before the criminal investigation, could have urged India to reassign Ms. Khobragade to New Delhi and required her to make restitution.
The United States has to make sure that foreign diplomats understand American laws, although the indictment says that this defendant knew exactly what she was doing. America should also re-examine its own demands for special privileges for its diplomats overseas. More broadly, the case has exposed differences between the two countries over such basic concepts as fairness and equality, while revealing a troubling level of Indian animosity toward the United States. The two governments are trying to turn the page by resuming high-level meetings. But it will take more than that to achieve the “global strategic partnership” with India that President Obama has boasted about.
This year, a bespectacled, 29-year-old US intelligence contractor in a hotel room in Hong Kong showed what happens when the line is crossed.
Edward Snowden’s leaks, which began to come out in British and US newspapers in June, quickly dwarfed the Wikileaks scandal of 2010.
They did not come out of nowhere.
The level of concern on Big Brother snooping was already on show in January. When EUobserver reported that an obscure US law, called Fisa, lets it snatch EU citizens’ data from US-based clouds, it got big attention in chat forums.But few could have suspected what US and EU countries’ spooks are doing in the name of the war on terror.
The Snowden leaks include revelations that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) introduced bugs into online security protocols which protect international commerce; that it has “unfettered” access to data held by firms such as Google and Facebook; and that the British agency, GCHQ, is tapping undersea cables which carry phone and internet traffic. GCHQ hoovers up 21 petabytes of data a day.
To put it in perspective, it would take one person 13 years to watch one petabyte of movies.
US officials said NSA snooping saved lives on both sides of the Atlantic.
But when Snowden revealed it is also bugging EU offices in Brussels, New York and Washington, the “war on terror”
began to look more like economic espionage.
Some EU officials and MEPs voiced outrage.
But no EU leaders spoke out, even in Germany, home to Europe’s most privacy-conscious society.
Perhaps they kept quiet because Dutch, French, German and Swedish intelligence agencies were also working
with the NSA.
It took news that the NSA had bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone before she said anything: “Spying among friends is never acceptable.”
The Snowden affair prompted calls for the EU to halt US free trade talks, to review the EU-US “Safe Harbour” accord on EU citizens’ data and to copper-plate a new EU law on data privacy.
But the free trade talks went on.
The European Commission looked at Safe Harbour, found a few loopholes and asked the US to plug them. It also started, but quickly stopped, a probe into alleged US hacking of an international wire transfer system called Swift.
The data privacy law will be agreed next year.
But EU countries have said it cannot be used to curb espionage because “national security” issues are a prerogative of member states.
Meanwhile, Snowden worked out of Hong Kong because no EU country agreed to shield him from US extradition.
He later got asylum in Russia.
But the extent to which EU countries serve US interests was made clear one day in August.
When Bolivia’s leader, Evo Morales, tried to fly home from a meeting in Moscow, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal closed their airspace, forcing him to land in Vienna, where Austrian security searched his plane because they thought he was hiding Snowden.
“Europe broke all the rules of the game,” Venezuela’s leader noted at the time. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry … Mother of God. What a world,” Argentina’s President said. euobserver.com/news/122161
This article was printed in EUobserver’s yearly magazine Europe in review 2013.
The print edition looks back at the most important stories of the year.
To obtain a copy of the magazine – Price per copy €4.75 + postage, excl. vat. Discounts on larger purchases.
Published by The New York Times: December 18, 2013
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — In a disappointment for Boeing, Brazilian defense officials said on Wednesday that they had picked the aircraft maker Saab for a $4.5 billion contract to build 36 fighter jets over the next 10 years.
The Brazilian defense minister, Celso Amorim, told reporters at a news conference in Brasilia that Saab was selected over Boeing because it had agreed to share more technology with contractors and because many parts for the new jet, the Gripen NG, would be made in Brazil.
The decision “took into account performance, the effective transfer of technology and costs, not only of acquisition, but also of maintenance,” Mr. Amorim said in a statement. He was accompanied by Gen. Juniti Saito, the Brazilian air force’s chief of staff. “The decision was based on these three factors.”
The announcement comes at a time of heightened tension between the United States and Brazil. In September, the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, canceled a state visit to the United States after revelations that the National Security Agency was spying on foreign heads of state, including her.
In a speech at the United Nations that month, Ms. Rousseff gave a blistering attack on the United States for its “illegal interception of information and data.”
In a response to the outcry over the spying, a panel of advisers for President Obama on Wednesday recommended limiting the wide-ranging collection of personal data and restricting operations to spy on foreign leaders.
When asked at the news conference if the spying had anything to do with the decision to award the contract to Saab, Mr. Amorim did not answer directly, instead repeating reasons of cost and technology sharing.
Analysts said Brazil had many financial and practical reasons to award the contract to Saab.
Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group in Fairfax, Va., said that while Brazil’s disenchantment over the N.S.A.’s spying could have played a role in the decision, costs were probably a bigger factor.
“You’re talking about a military service that doesn’t need a heavyweight front-line fighter and has suffered a budget squeeze and hasn’t been able to fly the planes that it owns,” he said.
He added that a basic version of the Saab jet might cost about $45 million, compared with $55 million for Boeing’s basic F/A-18 Super Hornet.
And the Gripen’s fuel costs would be half of that for the Boeing plane. Both jets use the same engine, but the Super Hornet has two engines and the Gripen one.
A study by the military publisher IHS Jane’s said that the Gripen costs about $4,700 an hour to fly — the lowest among modern fighter jets — compared with the $11,000 for the Super Hornet.
Boeing said that the decision was “disappointing” and that it would talk to the Brazilian air force to better understand it. The company, based in Chicago, said it would still look for chances to expand its partnerships in Brazil.
The loss was also difficult for Boeing because there are only a few fighter competitions going on around the world and the United States Navy plans to stop buying the F/A-18’s.
While most countries that want high-tech fighters are buying Lockheed Martin’s more advanced F-35, many other countries cannot afford even top older models like the F/A-18. So far, Australia is Boeing’s only export customer for the jet.
By contrast, Saab’s more workaday Gripen models are flown by several other countries.
Brazil originally began its quest for new fighters to replace its aging Mirages more than a decade ago. Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, wanted to buy Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets in 2009 instead of the F/A-18.
But a change in administration in Brazil, and the country’s deteriorating financial condition, helped alter the equation. A Brazilian news report on Saturday said that Dassault had already been eliminated from the competition even though the French president, François Hollande, backed the jet on a visit to Brazil last week.
Terms of the deal must still be negotiated over the next year, but delivery of the first batch of Gripen NG jets is expected in 2018.
Also on Wednesday, Boeing announced the promotion of Dennis A. Muilenburg, the head of its military business, to vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of the company.
Analysts said that move made Mr. Muilenburg, 49, the heir apparent to Boeing’s chief executive, W. James McNerney Jr., who is 64.
Ray Conner, the chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, was also named a Boeing vice chairman while keeping his current responsibilities. Christopher M. Chadwick, 53, will succeed Mr. Muilenburg as chief executive of Boeing’s military unit.
Dan Horch reported from São Paulo, Brazil, and Christopher Drew from New York.
Killing Them Softly: Pope Francis Condemns Income Inequality, Sanctions Gender Inequality
Exclusion of the poor from full participation in society is rightly portrayed as an evil, while exclusion of women from full participation in the church is defended as necessary.
December 6, 2013 | The following story first appeared on RH Reality Check.
Not long after the white puffs of smoke blew through St. Peter’s Square in March to announce his election as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis set many a progressive heart aflutter, especially with regard to his oft-stated concern for the poor of the world.
The release on Tuesday of Evangelii Gaudium, the pope’s manifesto for the renewal of the church, has set off a pandemic of swooning among liberals, particularly because of the pope’s welcome critique of so-called “free market” ideology and the gaping income inequality it creates. Overlooked is the internal inconsistency of the document, in which exclusion of the poor from full participation in society is rightly portrayed as an evil, while exclusion of women from full participation in the church is defended as necessary.
When it comes to inequality of the sexes, Pope Francis enthusiastically embraces Rome’s status quo, using his great treatise on his dream of a kinder, gentler church to sanction the exclusion of women not just from leadership, but from performing the most holy of its rites: celebration of the Mass.
“The reservation of the priesthood to males … is not a question open to discussion,” Francis writes.
While, in the same document, the pope also reiterates the church’s rejection of abortion as a moral choice and implicitly condones the marginalization of LGBTQ people, it is his blessing of a male-only priesthood that is arguably the most damaging, for it renders the church as a model justification for the view of women as subhuman—a view that lends cover to the rapist, the pimp, the bigot, and the chauvinist whose works the pope decries, even as he advances stereotypes about the “feminine genius” that women have to offer in acts of compassion and intuition.
As Sister Maureen Fiedler observes, Pope Francis “seems to think of women as a different species of human.” And it is from this “othering” of women from rest of humanity, I believe, that the church’s cruel and sometimes murderous denial of women’s reproductive prerogatives stems.
For Catholics, the Mass is a mystical, not just a representational, rite. The priest is believed to be the conduit, a channel of God’s grace, for the transformation of bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. That’s an awesome power to have—rather god-like, in fact.
The church’s denial of priestly ordination to women is based on a trumped-up piece of theology known as the “natural resemblance” rationale. Simply put, since Jesus was a man, then only men can be priests. Fiedler, explaining and rejecting this theory, suggests that “to say that only males may image Jesus sacralizes masculinity.”
Despite its tortured logic with regard to the rights and role of women, both as human beings and as members of the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelii Gaudium (“Joy of the Gospel”) is a papal tour de force, both as a piece of literature, and for the institution Pope Francis puts forth as the church of his dreams.
The most radical changes called for by the pope in his exhortation have little to do with the critique of capitalism that has grabbed the headlines, but rather a proposed shift in the power dynamic of the existing hierarchy—he envisions a less centralized power structure—and a purge of corruption (described as “spiritual worldliness”) in the Vatican bureaucracy. But it is the change he seeks in the church’s image, which he has already set about by famously refusing to live in the sumptuous setting occupied by his predecessors, that has dazzled journalists and commentators.
In Evangelii Gaudium, the pope’s language is vernacular and, in its English translation, at least, pleasing in cadence. It is quite a departure from the prose that ordinarily fills official Vatican documents. In it, Francis speaks of himself in the first person, and admits certain faults of the church. In confirming the church’s opposition to abortion, for instance, Francis states:
Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?
Such an admission of the church’s shortcomings in tending to the needs of the desperate pregnant woman would have been unthinkable by this pope’s recent predecessors; in doing so, Francis casts himself in a more favorable light while doing nothing to change the doctrine that robs women of their full agency, and hence, their full humanity. It is also a doctrine that can rob a woman of her life.
The entire document, in fact, advances little change in the substance of church teaching, and more a change in style and tone. It is, at its essence, a blueprint for winning converts to the faith, and reeling in disaffected Catholics back to the church. It is a survival playbook for a church abandoned by its European flock, and losing substantial numbers among its North American constituency. In Latin America, the church faces steep competition with evangelical Protestant sects, and in Africa, it’s competing with those sects and with Islam. The stern and condescending Father-knows-best condemnations of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI—who launched a holy war against Latin America’s native liberation theology movement—proved to be deeply alienating.
A nice pope who seems to be of the people, who writes in an accessible style, who appears to understand the difficulties faced by those wriggling under the boot of global capitalism can only help the church’s predicament. And so Francis recasts the church’s social teaching on ministering to the poor in the language of progressive economists and the Occupy movement, and challenges unnamed Catholic politicians and business leaders (Rep. Paul Ryan [R-WI], House Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential candidate, comes to mind) to abandon “trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.”
Such theories, Francis writes, pointedly, have “never been confirmed by the facts.”
Yet, in his defense of the faceless poor, Francis seems to miss the fact that women are more likely than men to be in poverty, and that is because of the very kind of structural inequality that his church models for the world as an image of holiness.
Doing Well by Doing (Some) Good?
I do not mean to suggest that the pope is insincere in his call to defend the poor. I believe that he is. And his pronouncement certainly does put those Catholics who advance the cause of Ayn Rand and the fortunes of the Koch brothers in an uncomfortable position. If that helps to save the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, from the chopping block, that’s all to the good. If the bishops put more of their diocesan budgets into bringing real services and comfort to the poor, that would be outstanding. But it would be naive not to note that Francis’ call to serve the poor also serves the pope’s obvious effort to re-brand the church, still suffering the moral bankruptcy of its child-abuse scandal, as a force for good.
So, too, does the pope’s admonishment, apparently aimed at members of the Curia (the Vatican bureaucracy), to avoid going on “witch hunts” of those deemed doctrinally impure. Although again, the pope declines to provide examples, it’s hard not to think of the Vatican’s 2012 attack on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for facilitating the spread of “radical feminist ideas,” when reading those lines. The bishops and the Vatican lost big in the court of public opinion on that one, when it was revealed that American Catholics like their nuns much better than they do their prelates.
Francis cites the withholding of the sacrament of Communion from the impure—as has been done to punish pro-choice Catholic politicians—as not particularly helpful. He urges priests to stress the joy of the Gospel in their homilies, and advises them not to deliver sermons that comprise lists of obligations.
In an interview given earlier this year to the Jesuit journalist, Rev. Antonio Spadaro, Francis suggested that church officials stop harping on church teaching that opposes abortion and condemns homosexuality. He didn’t suggest that any change was warranted to those doctrines; just that it was not really helping the church to keep emphasizing them. (Interestingly, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker [R], who is Roman Catholic, recently told a press gathering organized by the Christian Science Monitor that while he is anti-choice and personally opposed to marriage equality, he preferred to talk about fiscal issues.)
“Exclusion, Mistreatment and Violence”
In the section of Evangelii Gaudium titled “The Inclusion of the Poor in Society,” Pope Francis throws this bone, without irony, to women in poverty:
Doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights.
All women, of course, “endure situations of exclusion” from the leadership of the church, and that very exclusion sows the seeds of their mistreatment both within the church and in the greater society. A powerful message, marginalizing women as creatures unworthy of respect and incapable of authority, is inherent in the very image of the church’s leadership.
Women are to content themselves with whatever grace trickles down to them via the transformative powers invoked by the male priest.
The Roman Catholic Church, with its own nation-state, temporal power around the world, and command of media attention, is arguably the most visible religious institution in the world. Any entity that treated any other class of people as the church treats women would rightly, in the 21st century, be a pariah institution. But since it’s women we’re talking about, it’s all right. And the sad thing is, I don’t think the pope even sees the internal contradiction in his words.
Surely you can give the pope some props for his comments on the evils of free-market economics, one liberal male friend said to me, when I expressed my disgust at the kudos raining upon the pope with the publication of his magnum opus. Wow, said another, you’re really going to lay into him for not making changes yet on the position of women in the church?
So here are my props on the economics section of the pope’s treatise. This from Evangelii Gaudium is just terrific:
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.
But by that same logic, an honest person must then say “thou shalt not” to a theology of gender exclusion and inequality.
In 1992, the Catholic Church officially apologized for persecuting 17th-century astronomer Galileo, who dared to assert that the Earth revolved around the sun. In 2008, the Vatican even considered putting up a statue of him.
Could a certain 19th-century atheist philosopher be next?
It is true that in 2009, a Vatican newspaper article put a positive spin on one Karl Marx. The author, German historian Georg Sans, praised Marx for his criticism of the alienation and injustice faced by working people in a world where the privileged few own the capital. Sans suggested that Marx’s view was relevant today: “We have to ask ourselves, with Marx, whether the forms of alienation of which he spoke have their origin in the capitalist system….” Indeed.
Pope Benedict XVI certainly sang a different tune, denouncing Marxism as one of the great scourges of the modern age (of course we must always distinguish the “ism” from the man). But Francis is a pope of a different feather. His recent comments on capitalism suggest that he is a man who understands something about economics — specifically the link between unbridled capitalism and inequality.
In an 84-page document released Tuesday, Pope Francis launched a tirade against a brutally unjust economic system that Marx himself would have cheered:
“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills….As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”
Whoa! Where did that come from? To understand the answer, you need to know something about liberation theology, a movement that originated in Pope Francis’s home region of Latin America. Liberation theology, a Catholic phenomenon centered on actively fighting economic and social oppression, is the fascinating place where Karl Marx and the Catholic Church meet.
Though Marx was certainly an atheist, Catholics who support liberation theology understand that his attitude toward religion was nuanced. He saw it as a coin with two sides: a conservative force that could block positive changes as well as a reservoir of energy that could resist and challenge injustice. In the United States, religious movements such as the Social Gospel movement, seen today in the Reverend William Barber’s Moral Monday crusade against right-wing oppression of the poor in North Carolina, express the protest potential of Christianity.
Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian Catholic priest who grew up in abject poverty, used Marx’s ideas about ideology, class and capitalism to develop a perspective on how Christianity could be used to help the poor while they were on here on Earth rather than simply offer them solace in heaven. As Latin America saw the rise of military dictatorships in the 1960s and ‘70s, Gutiérrez called on Catholics to love their neighbor and to transform society for the better. Followers of the new liberation theology insisted on active engagement in social and economic change. They talked about alternative structures and creative, usually non-violent ways to free the poor from all forms of abuse.
The official Church hierarchy has had a tense relationship with liberation theology, but some Francis watchers detect that a new chapter in that history is opening. In early September, the new Pope had a private meeting with Gutiérrez. Reacting to the event, the Vatican newspaper published an essay arguing that with a Latin American pope guiding the Church, liberation theology could no longer “remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe.”
The Catholic world has now snapped to attention as the faithful pore over the Pope Francis’s recent communication, which calls upon politicians to guarantee “dignified work, education and healthcare” and blasts the “idolatry of money.” The flock is on notice: Francis will be talking a great deal about economic inequality and defending the poor. Unfortunately, his opposition to women as priests indicates that he is not yet ready to embrace equal treatment for women, something that would greatly enhance progress on both of those issues, but Francis did take a step forward in saying that women should have more influence in the Church.
While the Vatican has become a cesspool for some of the most shady financiers and corrupt bankers on the planet (see: “ God’s Racket”), Pope Francis has made clear his abhorrence of greed, eschewing the Apostolic Palace for a modest guest house and recently suspending a bishop who blew $41 million on renovations and improvements to his residence, including a $20,000 bathtub.
Catholics, particularly in the United States and Europe, are not sure what to make of all this solidarity with the poor and anti-capitalist rhetoric. For a long time now, many have considered Marx and his critique of capitalism over and done with. But others have watched deregulation, globalization and redistribution toward the rich unleash a particularly nasty and aggressive form of capitalism that seems increasingly at odds with Christian values. Instead of becoming more fair and moderate, capitalism has become more brutal and extreme. Marx, who predicted that capitalism would engender massive inequalities, is looking rather prescient just about now.
Pope Francis may prove himself open to considering Marx’s ideas in order to think about a more human-centered economic system. The American press is already buzzing nervously with the idea: “It would make for some pretty amazing headlines if Pope Francis turned out to be a Marxist,” wrote Helen Horn of the Atlantic, before quickly concluding that, no, “happily for church leaders,” such a thing couldn’t be true.
Maybe not. What is true is that, like his fascinating predecessor, Pope Leo XIII (who presided from 1848-1903), Francis has specifically denounced the complete rule of the market over human beings — the cornerstone of the kind of neoclassical economic theory embraced by Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan and much of the American political establishment. He wrote:
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”
That’s a pretty good start. We’ll take it.
Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project.
The friend was a political liberal and lifelong Democrat, accustomed to being on the wrong side of his church’s teaching on issues like abortion, bioethics and same-sex marriage.
Now, he cheerfully suggested, right-leaning Catholics like me would get a taste of the same experience, from a pope who seemed intent on skirting the culture war and stressing the church’s mission to the poor instead.
After Francis’s latest headline-making exhortation, which roves across the entire life of the church but includes a sharp critique of consumer capitalism and financial laissez-faire, politically conservative Catholics have reached for several explanations for why my friend is wrong, and why they aren’t the new “cafeteria Catholics.”
First, they have pointed out that there’s nothing truly novel here, apart from a lazy media narrative that pits Good Pope Francis against his bad reactionary predecessors. (Many of the new pope’s comments track with what Benedict XVI said in his own economic encyclical, and with past papal criticisms of commercial capitalism’s discontents.)
Second, they have sought to depoliticize the pope’s comments, recasting them as a general brief against avarice and consumerism rather than a call for specific government interventions.
And finally, they have insisted on the difference between church teaching on faith and morals, and papal pronouncements on economic issues, noting that there’s nothing that obliges Catholics to believe the pontiff is infallible on questions of public policy.
All three responses have their merits, but they still seem insufficient to the Francis era’s challenge to Catholics on the limited-government, free-market right.
It’s true that there is far more continuity between Francis and Benedict than media accounts suggest. But the new pope clearly intends to foreground the church’s social teaching in new ways, and probably seeks roughly the press coverage he’s getting.
It’s also true that Francis’s framework is pastoral rather than political. But his plain language tilts leftward in ways that no serious reader can deny.
Finally, it’s true that there is no Catholic position on, say, the correct marginal tax rate, and that Catholics are not obliged to heed the pope when he suggests that global inequality is increasing when the statistical evidence suggests otherwise.
But the church’s social teaching is no less an official teaching for allowing room for disagreement on its policy implications. And for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them — on us — to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions.
That explanation rests, I think, on three ideas. First, that when it comes to lifting the poor out of poverty, global capitalism, faults and all, has a better track record by far than any other system or approach.
Second, that Catholic social teaching, properly understood, emphasizes both solidarity and subsidiarity — that is, a small-c conservative preference for local efforts over national ones, voluntarism over bureaucracy.
This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.
And this is where Francis’s vision should matter to American Catholics who usually cast ballots for Republican politicians. The pope’s words shouldn’t inspire them to convert en masse to liberalism, or to worry that the throne of Peter has been seized by a Marxist anti-pope. But they should encourage a much greater integration of Catholic and conservative ideas than we’ve seen since “compassionate conservatism” collapsed, and inspire Catholics to ask more — often much more — of the Republican Party, on a range of policy issues.
Here my journalist friend’s “loyal opposition” line oversimplified the options for Catholic political engagement. His Catholic liberalism didn’t go into eclipse because it failed to let the Vatican dictate every jot and tittle of its social agenda. Rather, it lost influence because it failed to articulate any kind of clear Catholic difference, within the bigger liberal tent, on issues like abortion, sex and marriage.
Now the challenge for conservative Catholics is to do somewhat better in our turn, and to spend the Francis era not in opposition but seeking integration — meaning an economic vision that remains conservative, but in the details reminds the world that our Catholic faith comes first.
So, still hanging on to the Copenhagen COP15 of 2009 as last meeting that had substance – that is when newly elected President Obama went to Beijing and brought to the meeting the first signs that China is joining the World that tries to be serious about Climate Change – our website expects that finally at Paris, in 2015, there will be something new to report. We intend to be there!
The upcoming two weeks will see all usual traveling itinerants gather upon Warsaw. We will not go but recommend unfccc.int/2860.php as the information link for these two weeks – November 11-23, 2013.
Thanks to Mairi Dupar of the UK we learn the following – “Climate finance negotiations at COP19 in Warsaw” to be matter of substance:
This new Guide provides negotiators with a synopsis of the key climate finance discussions undertaken during 2013 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Guide aims to inform negotiators and stakeholders who are interested in the different climate finance agenda items and deliverables at the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) to be held in Warsaw. It assesses possible outcomes in Warsaw that can prepare the way – together with decisions at COP20 in 2014 – for the new global agreement on climate change, which will be agreed at the COP in Paris in 2015.
So, after the UN as a whole is compelled to enter the post 2015 stage, whatever becomes available at the UN in 2015 becomes norm that is basis for new UNFCCC agreements and it would be ridiculous to expect anything before that. This is why we will introduce in 2015 in our website the new category COP21 of the UNFCCC to follow on our present COP15 category. Sorry – but this is realism. We expect that by that time SE4All will be fully functional and have taken over the goals that once were part of the Commission for Sustainable Development that was eradicated and declared non-functioning at the RIO + 20 ei2 meeting.
In November the next UN Conference of Parties on climate change (COP19) will meet in Warsaw. There is an enormous amount of work to do in Poland and subsequently if we are going to get a global, legally binding agreement on carbon emissions that we committed to achieve at COP21 in Paris in 2015.
In particular we need to set the political parameters around which a deal can be built.
The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, published in September, reinforced the need for a more urgent and effective response to climate change. The 2015 deal remains the most effective way of putting us back on track to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees or less.
I was delighted to see the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría showing leadership on this issue with a major climate change speech last week at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change in London. My old boss Lord Stern chaired the event in which the Secretary-General denounced the lack of progress towards achieving climate security.
The framing of the speech was essentially that we have a much clearer understanding of climate risk than before, yet have done far too little to tackle it, and – unlike the financial sector – do not have a bailout option. The Secretary-General said policies need to be significantly more ambitious (e.g. on achieving a carbon price), coherent (with wider economic policies and goals) and consistent (with government providing better long-term policy certainty).
I was pleased to hear him pledge to make carbon pricing and other environmental policies key elements of the OECD Economic Surveys that assess countries’ comparative economic performance, and promise that the OECD would be closely monitoring countries’ performance in these areas up to 2015 and beyond. Those are significant steps.
The IEA put out complementary analysis in its ‘Redrawing the Energy Map’ in June, including accelerating the phasing-out of subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption, and better systems of protection against energy poverty which do not entrench a reliance on emissions-intensive consumption. And for many years the IEA World Energy Outlook’s Alternative Policy Scenarios have shown we are off-track from achieving sustainable energy policies.
It seems to me that the OECD and IEA’s strong environmental policy messages are even more powerful coming as they do from primarily economic and energy organisations. It helps to reinforce the message that action on climate can be good for the economy and good for energy security.
Both institutions know that, like national governments, they must continue do more to strengthen their message and get their own house in order. The OECD must align its economic, environmental and social policy advice to be consistent and mutually reinforcing. We should be able to move away from talking about ‘green’ policy to simply ‘good’ policy.
I know the IEA is also working hard to ensure it tackles energy and climate security as two sides of the same coin.
After all, following the Secretary-General’s speech in London, Lord Stern, author of the seminal Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, reiterated that we had no choice but to act on all these fronts. And that a focus on innovative solutions could usher in decades of prosperity: “this is a growth story, not a costs story”.
For its part, the UK will continue to meet its own ambitious and legally-binding emissions targets and carbon budgets, reform the energy sector to achieve energy and climate security, and play a leading role in an ambitious EU programme of economic and environmental transformation.
Meanwhile we will continue to be vocal supporters of the OECD and IEA on these issues as they work together to present the most compelling analysis and pragmatic policy solutions to governments. There is very little time ahead of the big 2015 meeting in Paris.
(Warsaw, 11 November 2013) – The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw
began today with calls for governments to harness the strong groundswell of
action on climate change across all levels of government, business and
society and make real progress here towards a successful, global climate
change agreement in 2015.
The President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19/CMP 9), is
H. E. Mr. Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Environment Minister. He said in his
opening address that climate change is a global problem that must be turned
further into a global opportunity. “It’s a problem if we can’t coordinate our actions. It becomes opportunity where we can act together. One country or even a group cannot make a difference. But acting together, united as we are here, we can do it.”
In her opening speech at the Warsaw National Stadium, the venue of COP 19, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called on delegates to “win the Warsaw opportunity” in order to safeguard present and future generations.
“We must stay focused, exert maximum effort for the full time and produce a positive result, because what happens in this stadium is not a game. There are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners and losers, we all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves.”
Ms. Figueres pointed to the sobering realities of climate change and the rise in extreme events that climate science has long predicted, including the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that just hit the Philippines, one of the most powerful typhoons ever to make landfall.
Ms. Figueres highlighted the key areas in which COP 19 can make progress:
“We must clarify finance that enables the entire world to move towards low-carbon development. We must launch the construction of a mechanism that helps vulnerable populations to respond to the unanticipated effects of climate change. We must deliver an effective path to pre-2020 ambition, and develop further clarity for elements of the new agreement that will shape the post-2020 global climate, economic and development agendas”.
In addition, the meeting in Warsaw will focus on decisions that will make fully operational the new institutional support under the UNFCCC for developing nations in finance, adaptation and technology. These are the Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Committee, all agreed in Cancun in 2010.
Ms. Figueres stressed the fact that the meeting in Warsaw is taking place against the background of growing awareness that climate change is real and accelerating, and the growing willingness of people, businesses and governments to take climate action, at all levels of society and policy.
“There is a groundswell of climate action. Not only for environmental reasons, but also for security, energy, economic and governance reasons. Political will and public support favour action now. A new universal climate agreement is within our reach. Agencies, development banks, investors and subnational governments are on board. The science from the IPCC is clear. Parties can lead the momentum for change and move together towards success in 2015.“
Visualize o cenário nos bastidores do dia de abertura da Assembleia-Geral das Nações Unidas, ontem. Enquanto Dilma e Obama aguardavam juntos para fazer seus discursos, será que Obama indicou estar aberto ao chamado dela de reconhecer o direito à privacidade como direito humano, civil, e soberano?
Terá Dilma desejado sorte a Obama na busca de apoio por uma resolução sobre a Síria? Duvido. As divergências deles em relação a questões importantes de governança global e segurança internacional parecem pronunciadas, novamente.
Longe das câmeras, porém, quem sabe eles tenham se cumprimentado até calorosamente, com um suspiro de alívio –felizes, por motivos diferentes, por terem “adiado” a visita de Estado e o jantar oficial.
Dilma não precisa mais se preocupar com a inevitável e superficial crítica da imprensa ao seu vestido de baile. Mais seriamente, não precisa sentir-se frustrada pelo fato de a agenda bilateral, mesmo antes do escândalo da NSA, não possuir a ambição substantiva à qual faria jus um evento tão carregado de simbolismo. E Obama, conhecido por sua aversão às exigências sociais da Presidência, talvez se alegre com a perspectiva de passar uma noite tranquila com Michelle e suas filhas ou cuidando de questões mais importantes para seu legado.
O escândalo da NSA, a resposta da Casa Branca e a decisão de Dilma de cancelar a visita revelaram a fraqueza do relacionamento EUA-Brasil. Tirando grandes empresas, nem Dilma nem Obama têm bases eleitorais que estejam pedindo o fortalecimento dos laços. Com notáveis exceções, a linguagem corporal das burocracias de Washington e Brasília agora corre o risco de reverter para a de uma era anterior, marcada pelo ceticismo mútuo.
Terá Brasília novamente concluído que Washington se opõe fortemente à ascensão do Brasil? Terá Washington voltado a supor que o Brasil prefira exercer o papel de alternativa à hegemonia americana –quer seja em relação à governança da internet, na América Latina ou em uma série de questões globais? Espero que não, mas a percepção corre o risco de virar realidade.
Uma análise retrospectiva do “adiamento” da visita impõe o reconhecimento de verdades difíceis: Obama não pediu desculpas ao povo ou às empresas americanas pela espionagem da NSA. Ele demorou a reconhecer os excessos e violações de privacidade cometidos e de maneira alguma obrigou a NSA a suspender a espionagem. É difícil imaginar o Brasil recebendo resposta melhor que a que a população americana recebeu até agora.
Em vista do legado de espionagem de Estado no Brasil –cometida por um regime militar apoiado pelos EUA–, será que autoridades americanas esperavam que os brasileiros se orgulhassem da espionagem da NSA, enxergando-a como sinal da importância que Washington atribui ao Brasil no sistema global?
Com relação à vigilância da NSA, Washington tem uma divergência política séria com o Brasil e várias outras democracias importantes. A diplomacia não poderia resolver essa diferença. Mas, em vista da importância do Brasil como centro de passagem de cabos transatlânticos de fibra ótica, Dilma e Obama realmente têm o que discutir.
Julia Sweig é diretora do programa de América Latina e do Programa Brasil do Council on Foreign Relations, centro de estudos da política internacional dos EUA. Escreve às quartas-feiras, a cada duas semanas na versão impressa do caderno de ‘Mundo’.
Author: Julia E. Sweig, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin America Studies September 25, 2013 Folha de Sao Paulo
Originally published in Portuguese on Folha de Sao Paulo:
Picture the scene back stage at the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. As Dilma and Obama waited together to give their speeches, did Obama indicate an open mind to Dilma’s call the right to privacy as a civil, human, and sovereign right? Did Dilma wish Obama well in rallying support for a Syria resolution? I doubt it. These days their differences over major issues in global governance and international security again appear pronounced.
Away from the cameras, however, who knows if they greeted one another even warmly, with a knowing sigh of relief, happy, for different reasons, to have “postponed” the State visit and dinner. Dilma doesn’t have to worry about the inevitable, superficial press criticism of her ball gown. More seriously, she doesn’t have to feel frustrated that the bilateral agenda, even before the NSA scandal, lacked the substantive ambition to match such a symbolic event. Obama too, known for his distaste for the social demands of the presidency, might look forward to a quiet evening with Michelle and their daughters, or tend to issues of more legacy-defining consequence.
The NSA scandal, the White House’s response to it, and Dilma’s decision to cancel the state visit, have revealed the weakness of the US-Brazil relationship. Other than big business, neither Dilma nor Obama have constituents clamoring for stronger ties. With notable exceptions, the body language of bureaucracies in Washington and Brasilia now risks reverting to that of another era, when mutual skepticism prevailed.
Has Brasilia again concluded that Washington is dead set against Brazil’s rise? Has Washington reverted to the assumption that Brazil prefers to play the role of an alternative to American hegemony—whether on internet governance, in Latin America, or on a slew of global issues? I hope not, but perception, the cliché suggests, risks becoming reality.
A post mortem of the State visit’s “postponement” requires hard truths: President Obama hasn’t apologized to the American people or American companies for NSA spying. He has been slow to acknowledge the overreach and violations of privacy, and certainly has not compelled the NSA to stop its surveillance. It is hard to imagine Brazil achieving a better response than the American people have to date.
Given the legacy of state surveillance in Brazil—by a U.S.-supported military régime—did U.S. officials expect Brazilians to take pride in the NSA spying as a sign of just how important Washington regards Brazil’s place in the global system?
On NSA surveillance, Washington has a serious policy difference with Brazil and a number of other major democracies. Diplomacy couldn’t bridge the divide. But given Brazil’s importance as a hub for transatlantic fiber optic cables, Dilma and Obama really do have something to talk about.
Ten Young People of 18 to 30 years of age can get Climate Action Fellowships to Participate at the Warsaw Cop 19 of the UNFCCC (from November 8th to November 24th, 2013) if they know their Governments’ Climate Policy and are ready to be active in influencing their Governments to take more active positions.
This Fellowship is a volunteer opportunity. However, support for participation in the Warsaw Climate Change Conference (transportation, accommodation and per diems) as well as continuous support and capacity building is provided by the Global Call for Climate Action.
Here are some of the qualities we are looking for:
* You understand the landscape. Our Fellows should not only understand climate change, they are also familiar with their country’s national and international climate politics; preferably with the UNFCCC itself – its history, its inner workings, and its roles in addressing climate change.
* You are an excellent communicator. Our Fellows can quickly translate the complex and hard to communicate developments that happen during climate negotiations and other key moments into compelling, accessible, creative, actionable communications across multiple channels and mediums. Our primary tool is blogging – Fellows must be skilled bloggers – but the ability to leverage other communications tools and channels with strategic and/or large audiences via new and traditional media is also key to their success.
* You have informed empathy. Our Fellows seek out a deep understanding of how climate change affects people in different situations, in different ways, all over the world – security, health, livelihood, values, politics, business, etc – and can tap into that understanding to help them connect with with various audiences (including their negotiators).
* You are brave. In a short amount of time, each Fellow has to build relationships with experts in our partner network, members of the media, their country’s negotiators and other decision makers. Fellows need to quickly absorb and synthesize new information; take public stands on complicated issues; get their ideas and opinions out to fellow activists and media in their home country in meaningful ways.
* You are fast. Our Fellows are able to rapidly respond to events and opportunities inside climate negotiations and out.
* You are dedicated. Our Fellows understand the stakes involved in responding to climate change, and are dedicated to helping push for progress in spite of the many setbacks, challenges and complications we face along the way. While we expect to count on our Fellows’ full-time participation during the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, they also actively participate in the project throughout their Fellowship’s duration.
Are you looking for an incredible experience on the front lines of an essential fight in the effort to address climate change? Do you think you can excel in the Fellowship role? If so, we want to meet you. Apply here:
LEARN MORE & APPLY FOR TO BECOME AN ADOPT A NEGOTIATOR 2013/2014 FELLOW.
*** The Opportunity ***
The Global Campaign for Climate Action is awarding Adopt a Negotiator (AaN) Fellowships to exceptional young people that we think possess the ability to effectively push their countries toward unlocking climate solutions nationally and internationally. AaN Fellows will have an opportunity to help shape their government’s role in solving climate change. They’ll join a team of passionate, dedicated and talented activists from around the world; participating in moments that will shape if and how the governments respond adequately to the climate challenge. Their efforts will build on a proud legacy of past ‘Negotiator Trackers,’ and make important contributions to the climate movement in a creative, challenging and exciting role.
Applicants must be 18 to 30 years of age; available to attend the Warsaw Climate Change Conference in Poland (from November 8th to November 24th, 2013); and able to actively contribute to the Adopt a Negotiator project as an activist and blogger from mid-September of this year through May of 2014.
LEARN MORE & APPLY FOR TO BECOME AN ADOPT A NEGOTIATOR 2013/2014 FELLOW
Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden was right to flee.
The man who leaked the Pentagon Papers says the NSA leaker could not speak out if he had stayed.
That was then – and now is now!!!
Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S.
By Daniel Ellsberg, In The Washington Post of July 8, 2013.
Daniel Ellsberg is the author of “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.” He was charged in 1971 under the Espionage Act as well as for theft and conspiracy for copying the Pentagon Papers. The trial was dismissed in 1973 after evidence of government misconduct, including illegal wiretapping, was introduced in court.
Many people compare Edward Snowden to me unfavorably for leaving the country and seeking asylum, rather than facing trial as I did. I don’t agree. The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago.
After the New York Times had been enjoined from publishing the Pentagon Papers — on June 15, 1971, the first prior restraint on a newspaper in U.S. history — and I had given another copy to The Post (which would also be enjoined), I went underground with my wife, Patricia, for 13 days. My purpose (quite like Snowden’s in flying to Hong Kong) was to elude surveillance while I was arranging — with the crucial help of a number of others, still unknown to the FBI — to distribute the Pentagon Papers sequentially to 17 other newspapers, in the face of two more injunctions. The last three days of that period was in defiance of an arrest order: I was, like Snowden now, a “fugitive from justice.”
Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind.
There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”).
I hope Snowden’s revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado.
He would almost certainly be confined in total isolation, even longer than the more than eight months Manning suffered during his three years of imprisonment before his trial began recently. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture described Manning’s conditions as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” (That realistic prospect, by itself, is grounds for most countries granting Snowden asylum, if they could withstand bullying and bribery from the United States.)
Snowden believes that he has done nothing wrong. I agree wholeheartedly. More than 40 years after my unauthorized disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, such leaks remain the lifeblood of a free press and our republic. One lesson of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden’s leaks is simple: secrecy corrupts, just as power corrupts.
In my case, my authorized access in the Pentagon and the Rand Corp. to top-secret documents — which became known as the Pentagon Papers after I disclosed them — taught me that Congress and the American people had been lied to by successive presidentsand dragged into a hopelessly stalemated war that was illegitimate from the start.
Snowden’s dismay came through access to even more highly classified documents — some of which he has now selected to make public — originating in the National Security Agency (NSA). He found that he was working for a surveillance organization whose all-consuming intent, he told the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, was “on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them.”
It was, in effect, a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist “German Democratic Republic,” whose goal was “to know everything.” But the cellphones, fiber-optic cables, personal computers and Internet traffic the NSA accesses did not exist in the Stasi’s heyday.
As Snowden told the Guardian, “This country is worth dying for.” And, if necessary, going to prison for — for life.
But Snowden’s contribution to the noble cause of restoring the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution is in his documents. It depends in no way on his reputation or estimates of his character or motives — still less, on his presence in a courtroom arguing the current charges, or his living the rest of his life in prison. Nothing worthwhile would be served, in my opinion, by Snowden voluntarily surrendering to U.S. authorities given the current state of the law.
I hope that he finds a haven, as safe as possible from kidnapping or assassination by U.S. Special Operations forces, preferably where he can speak freely.
What he has given us is our best chance — if we respond to his information and his challenge — to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.
Read more on this topic —- Eugene Robinson: We can handle the truth on NSA spying.
THAT WAS OUR ORIGINAL JULY 4th posting:
The British Guardian – an American Media — on the run-up to July 4-th, 2013.
By Dan Gillmore
How Did American Become So Fearful and Timid That We’ve Given Away Essential Liberties? Some Are Even Afraid to Speak up
America’s founders would be horrified at this United States of Surveillance
July 2, 2013
I’m a longtime subscriber to an Internet mail list that features items from smart, thoughtful people. The list editor forwards items he personally finds interesting, often related to technology and/or civil liberties. Not long after the Guardian and Washington Post first started publishing the leaks describing the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance-dragnet, an item appeared about a White House petition urging President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden. The post brought this reply, among others:
“Once upon a time I would have signed a White House petition to this administration with no qualms. Now, however, a chilling thought occurs: what ‘watch lists’ will signing a petition like this put me on? NSA? IRS? It’s not a paranoid question anymore, in the United States of Surveillance.” As we Americans watch our parades and fire up our grills this 4 July, the 237th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – the seminal document of the United States – we should take the time to ask ourselves some related questions: how did we come to this state of mind and behavior? How did we become so fearful and timid that we’ve given away essential liberties? Do we realize what we’re giving up? What would the nation’s founders think of us?
No one with common sense believes Obama is planning to become a dictator. But the mail list question was indeed not paranoid – because Obama, building on the initiatives of his immediate predecessors, has helped create the foundation for a future police state. This has happened with bipartisan support from patriotic but short-sighted members of Congress and, sad to say, the general public.
The American media have played an essential role. For decades, newspaper editors and television programmers, especially local ones, have chased readers and ratings by spewing panic-inducing “journalism” and entertainment that helped foster support for anti-liberty policies. Ignorance, sometimes willful, has long been part of the media equation. Journalists have consistently highlighted the sensational. They’ve ignored statistical realities to hype anecdotal – and extremely rare – events that invite us to worry about vanishingly tiny risks and while shrugging off vastly more likely ones. And then, confronted with evidence of a war on journalism by the people running our government, powerful journalists suggest that their peers – no, their betters – who had the guts to expose government crimes are criminals. Do they have a clue why the First Amendment is all about? Do they fathom the meaning of liberty?
The founders, for all their dramatic flaws, knew what liberty meant. They created a system of power-sharing and competition, knowing that investing too much authority in any institution was an invitation to despotism. Above all, they knew that liberty doesn’t just imply taking risks; it absolutely requires taking risks. Among other protections, the Bill of Rights enshrined an unruly but vital free press and guaranteed that some criminals would escape punishment in order to protect the rest of us from too much government power. How many of those first 10 amendments would be approved by Congress and the states today? Depressingly few, one suspects. We’re afraid.
America has gone through spasms of liberty-crushing policies before, almost always amid real or perceived national emergencies. We’ve come out of them, to one degree or another, with the recognition that we had a Constitution worth protecting and defending, to paraphrase the oath federal office holders take but have so casually ignored in recent years.
What’s different this time is the surveillance infrastructure, plus the countless crimes our lawmakers have invented in federal and state codes. As many people have noted, we can all be charged with something if government wants to find something – the Justice Department under Bush and Obama has insisted that simply violating an online terms of service is a felony, for example. And now that our communications are being recorded and stored (you should take that for granted, despite weaselly government denials), those somethings will be available to people looking for them if they decide you are a nuisance. That is the foundation for tyranny, maybe not in the immediate future but, unless we find a way to turn back, someday soon enough.
You may believe there’s no possibility of America turning into a thugocracy, that the amassed information – conversations, business dealings, personal health and financial data, media consumption, gun records and so much more – will never be systematically misused that way. But even if you do, ask yourself this: if a young employee of one of the countless private companies administering the surveillance state could get access to so much for idealistic reasons, how vulnerable is this material to people with baser motives? Do you suppose corporate spies or foreign security services might be able to tempt some of the holders of this information with money, or find others who are vulnerable to blackmail? We’re creating the ultimate treasure chest of information, and it’s value is nearly limitless.
America’s founders would be horrified at what we’ve done, and what we’ve become. They would have denounced our secret laws, Kafka-esque “no fly lists” and so many other recent creations of power-grabbing presidents emboldened by feeble lawmakers and compliant courts. While they wouldn’t have understood the modern concept of privacy – though they’ve have wanted to protect it once they did understand – they would have engineered checks and balances to prevent today’s wholesale abuses, made so much worse by active corporate participation, reluctant or not, in the digital dragnets.
I live in California. My senior US senator, Dianne Feinstein, is a former prosecutor and acts like it. In her no doubt sincere desire to protect Americans from harm, she has been a consistent Democratic enabler of untrammeled presidential and law-enforcement powers. She calls Edward Snowden, a whistleblower who unquestionably broke the law, a traitor. But he pulled back the curtain on an increasingly lawless surveillance state. She has helped shred the Bill of Rights. Who, in the end, will have done more to “preserve and protect the Constitution”? For me, that’s an easy call.
Will we confront what’s happening and move now to change our trajectory? There are glimmerings of rationality amid the fear-mongering, including the public’s growing understanding – despite politicans’ foot-dragging and the media’s longstanding refusal to do its job on this issue, like so many others – that the war on (some) drugs has been an international catastrophe and, at home, a useful tool for those who’d curb liberty.
Obama says he wants to have a “conversation” about surveillance, even though his administration works mightily to keep so much of its workings – on these and other matters – secret from the American public, Congress and the judiciary other than opaque, rubber-stamp courts. What we really need is a larger conversation about state power and the actual risks we face, with context and clarity. In the process we need to confront the people who amass power and profits by fueling the ever-expanding, increasingly militarized surveillance state, and insist that they explain and justify what they’re doing. Their “trust us” nostrums are hollow.
I don’t know what the American public will conclude if we ever have that conversation. I would do whatever I could to help everyone understand that a surveillance society is profoundly un-American. I implore journalists to be part of the truth-telling, to take a stand for the Bill of Rights by doing their jobs as the founders intended. If we’re to preserve the risk-filled but noble American experiment of trusting people with liberty, we’d all best get started.
I’m proudly American, in large part because we’ve so often faced hard facts and ultimately, if belatedly, done what’s right. I have faith that the American people want the unadorned truth and will think through what’s at stake this time – and that they’ll take to heart Benjamin Franklin’s eternally wise admonition: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
New Rumor of Snowden Flight Raises Tensions.
By RICK GLADSTONE and WILLIAM NEUMAN
Published by The New York Tines: July 2, 2013
It began as a seemingly offhand remark by the president of Bolivia, who suggested during a visit to Moscow that he might be happy to host Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former security contractor who is desperate to find asylum. It escalated into a major diplomatic scramble in which the Bolivian president’s plane was rerouted on Tuesday, apparently because of suspicions that Mr. Snowden was aboard.
Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, was attending an energy conference in Moscow when he was asked in an interview if he would consider giving asylum to Edward J. Snowden.
Snowden Is Said to Claim U.S. Is Blocking Asylum Bids (July 2, 2013)
Outrage in Europe Grows Over Spying Disclosures (July 2, 2013)
India Ink: India Denies Asylum to Snowden (July 2, 2013)
By day’s end, outraged Bolivian officials, insisting that Mr. Snowden was not on the plane, were accusing France and Portugal of acting under American pressure to rescind permission for President Evo Morales’s plane to traverse their airspace on the way back to Bolivia. Low on fuel, the plane’s crew won permission to land in Vienna.
“They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane,” the Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, told reporters after the plane touched down in Vienna, where Mr. Morales was spending the night.
“We don’t know who invented this big lie,” the foreign minister said at a news conference in La Paz, Bolivia. “We want to express our displeasure because this has put the president’s life at risk.”
Rubén Saavedra, the defense minister, who was on the plane with Mr. Morales, accused the Obama administration of being behind the action by France and Portugal, calling it “an attitude of sabotage and a plot by the government of the United States.”
There was no immediate response by officials in Paris, Lisbon or Washington.
“We were in flight; it was completely unexpected,” Mr. Saavedra said on the Telesur cable network. “The president was very angry.”
Speaking by phone with Telesur, Mr. Saavedra said that Mr. Snowden was not on the plane. Later, Reuters cited an unidentified Austrian Foreign Ministry official as saying the same thing.
Bolivian officials said they were working on a new flight plan to allow Mr. Morales to fly home. But in a possible sign of further suspicion about the passenger manifest, Mr. Saavedra said that Italy had also refused to give permission for the plane to fly over its airspace. Later he said that France and Portugal had reversed course and offered to allow the plane to fly through their airspace after all.
On Monday, Mr. Morales, who was attending an energy conference in Moscow, was asked in an interview on the Russia Today television network if he would consider giving asylum to Mr. Snowden, 30, who has been holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for more than a week, his passport revoked by the United States.
“Yes, why not?” Mr. Morales responded. “Of course, Bolivia is ready to take in people who denounce — I don’t know if this is espionage or monitoring. We are here.”
He said, though, that Bolivia had not received a request from Mr. Snowden, despite news reports to the contrary.
It was already clear by then that the Moscow conference had been overshadowed by the drama of Mr. Snowden and his disclosures about American intelligence programs, which have deeply embarrassed the Obama administration.
President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who was also at the conference, had suggested he might offer Mr. Snowden asylum but did not plan to fly him to Venezuela.
But Mr. Morales’s remarks appeared to open the door. At least that was the way they were interpreted.
The problems began even before Mr. Morales left Moscow, Mr. Choquehuanca said. On Monday, Portugal, without explanation, had withdrawn permission for Mr. Morales’s plane to stop in Lisbon to refuel, the foreign minister said. That required Bolivian officials to get permission from Spain to refuel in the Canary Islands.
The next day, after taking off from Moscow, Mr. Morales’s plane was just minutes from entering French airspace, according to Mr. Saavedra, when the French authorities informed the pilot that the plane could not fly over France.
There was also plenty of confusion in Moscow over how Mr. Snowden could possibly have left undetected on a government aircraft.
Government planes carrying foreign officials to diplomatic meetings in Moscow typically arrive and depart from Vnukovo Airport, which is also the main airfield used by the Russian government, rather than from Sheremetyevo, where Mr. Snowden arrived from Hong Kong on June 23 hours after American officials had sought his extradition there.
The speculation that Mr. Snowden would hitch a ride on a government jet was discounted by the fact that the plane would have to first make a quick flight from one Moscow airport to the other.
In an interview with the television station Russia Today, Mr. Maduro said he would consider any request by Mr. Snowden. Then, ending the interview with a dash of humor, he said, “It’s time for me to go; Snowden is waiting for me.”
Rick Gladstone reported from New York, and William Neuman from Caracas, Venezuela. David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew Roth contributed reporting from Moscow, and Monica Machicao from La Paz, Bolivia.