links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

californiatexashawaii
floridaalaskalouisianaillinois
idahotennesseewest virginia New Hampshire

 
The US States:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

How You Can Go Solar Without Even Owning a Single Panel

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch

20 April 15

We know that solar power in the U.S. is growing at leaps and bounds and is only getting cheaper. Still, there are limitations. Not everyone has the ability to harness the sun’s power, especially if you’re not a property owner, don’t have the proper rooftop or can’t afford the costly solar panel installation process.

Enter Yeloha, a new Boston-based peer-to-peer solar startup that allows anyone to go solar. Yes, even if you live in a rented apartment, have a roof blocked by a particularly shady tree or don’t have the funds for panels.

Customers can sign up for the service as a “sun host” or a “sun partner.” Sun hosts are for homeowners who have a suitable roof for solar but can’t afford panels. Yeloha will install the panels for free in exchange for access to the solar power the panels create. Sun hosts will also get about a third of the electricity created by the panels, all for free. This translates to lower monthly power bills for the homeowner.

The remaining power goes to the sun partners, who are customers that want to go solar but don’t have a proper roof or don’t own their home. Sun partners can buy as many solar credits as they’d like from Yehola at a price that’s less than what they’d normally pay to their utility.

Sun hosts can also assign their electricity to specific partners, and sun partners can choose who hosts their power. The savings work out to about 10 percent less than the utility’s prices for a year’s worth of energy which admittedly isn’t a lot. But as Amit Rosner, Yeloha co-founder and CEO, told Inc., switching to solar is also about fighting climate change. “While [customers] save money,” he said, “they also save the world.”

The service is currently offered invite-only for residents in Massachusetts (a state that’s particularly friendly towards solar), and has plans for expansion across the country. The company recently raised $3.5 million in funding, which means Yeloha might come to a residential area near you soon.

In this growing sharing economy, people are already renting out their homes, cars and even their clothes. Yehola is simply asking, why not share the sun’s power for all?

“Our mission is to create and accelerate the confluence of the sharing economy and solar energy,” Rosner said. “We’ve seen the extraordinary impact of collaborative connections in many industries—from transportation to travel. Now, the power of sharing comes to solar power.”

——————-

COMMENTS:

# JJS 2015-04-20 16:01
It is wonderful that there are so many innovative ideas and new ways of generating and sharing power. Meeting the needs of the community will take more than just getting those solar panels and wind turbines up and spinning. There is an infrastructure of wires, transformers and other equipment connecting the community to the power grid. I’m sure that Yeloha and the Sun Hosts utilize the grid’s infrastructure to transport the energy it is generating and collecting and distributing. But who is paying to maintain the infrastructure?
 www.scientificamerican.com/articl…

This is an important issue that will bite us in the butt if not taken into consideration and worked through. We need some comprehensive planning for switching to the new paradigm of small electrical generating units that use and share their energy.

# Billy Bob 2015-04-20 16:16
Great idea! I also like the fact that all of our streets, sidewalks, and parking lots could be solar panels now.

Now, the only thing left, is to get the oil industry and their Washington whores out of the way.

We already KNOW that we could go completely 100% solar and wind, without ANY need for filthy fuels, ever again, but the entrenched, TAX-PAYER FUNDED, greedy lunatics are in the way.

# kevenwood 2015-04-20 22:57
And let us not forget that a lot of areas allow you to choose your electricity provider. And choose the plan, some of which are 100% wind and solar plans. So you can go wind or solar without even having to get solar panels installed.

The rate is not a lot higher — we could see a boost in wind in solar if more of us opt for the wind and solar plans.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ELI NATHANAEL’S BLOG stepped in to highlight the plight of citizens that invested in photo-voltaics and produce excess of electricity for which the local utility, that is part of the larger grid, claims it is losing income if it were to buy this electricity. Obviously the larger National interest is in the increase of reliance on electricity from solar energy – the environment, politics, independence of foreign sources, outflow of funds – all point at clear need of government intervention on the side of the wise and entrepreneurial home owners.


Solar Power Battle Puts Hawaii at Forefront of Worldwide Changes

By DIANE CARDWELL, for The New York Times – Sunday, April 19, 2015

As homemade electricity gains popularity, it puts new pressures on old infrastructure and cuts into electric company revenue, pitting solar companies against utilities.


Utility vs. Homeowners Over Solar Power.

In Hawaii, where 12 percent of the homes have solar panels, handling the surplus power is putting pressure on the state’s biggest utility, which is fighting to reduce what it pays for the energy.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Welcome to Foreign Policy Editors’ Picks for April 14 2015, FP’s round-up of the day’s best articles of the day.

Today, we look at Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power struggle, the aftermath of the Garissa attack in Kenya, and why the United States and Nigeria failed to bring the Chibok girls back.

KILL>CAPTURE: The Obama administration’s explicit policy is to capture suspected terrorists, not kill them. So why is the opposite taking place? FP’s Micah Zenko explores what’s behind the president’s affinity for drones:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/kil…

Outmuscling the kingdom: The War in Yemen has exposed a naked struggle for influence between Riyadh and Tehran in the Middle East — and the Islamic Republic is coming out on top:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/yem…

BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE MOGADISHU: In the wake of the Garissa University attack, Somali expats in a Nairobi neighborhood are caught between an increasingly indiscriminate al Shabab and a heavy handed police force:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/ken…

THE OTHER KIND OF GRIDLOCK: Despite the White House’s objections, Democrats sided with Republicans to unanimously approve a bill that could scuttle a final nuclear deal with Iran. FP’s John Hudson reports: Read more at: THE OTHER KIND OF GRIDLOCK: Despite the White House’s objections, Democrats sided with Republicans to unanimously approve a bill that could scuttle a final nuclear deal with Iran. FP’s John Hudson reports:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/cor…

STILL NOT BACK: One year ago, the Chibok girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram. FP’s David Francis reports on how the United States and Nigeria failed to rescue the 219 abducted girls:
Read more at foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/14/why…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Juan Cole | US History of Coup-Making Overshadows Obama’s Outreach to Iran, Latin American Left
Cuban president Fidel Castro and then vice-president Richard Nixon at a press reception in Washington in 1956. (photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

from RSN – Reader Supported News | 12 April 2015

Juan Cole, Informed Comment
Cole writes: “Some observers count 51 US military or covert interventions in Latin America since 1890. Quite apart from the Cold War covert ops, the US intervened militarily in Cuba no less than four times in the late 19th and first third of the twentieth century.”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

Cornel West on Growing Resistance: “They’re Marching and They Will Not Stop”
Michael Cabanatuan, SF Gate
Cabanatuan writes: “‘You live in a society where black lives have such a low priority that people think you can just shoot them like a dog, go home and drink tea,’ West said. ‘White supremacy is alive in the U.S. and we have to hit it head on.’”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/news-sect…

Another Day Another Unarmed Black Man Shot, Killed by American Police
Tom McCarthy, Guardian UK
McCarthy writes: “Police in Oklahoma said they do not intend to further investigate an incident in which a volunteer, undercover 73-year-old ‘reserve deputy’ mistook his gun for a Taser and shot and killed a suspect who was wrestling on the ground with a sheriff’s deputy.”
READ MORE - readersupportednews.org/news-sect…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 12th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CHORNOBYL SONGS PROJECT
SPECIAL CD RELEASE CONCERT
Saturday, April 25, 7:00PM

from: Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) –  traditions at ctmd.org via ctmd.ccsend

In partnership with the Ukrainian Museum and Yara Arts Group, we are excited to present a special concert of the Chonobyl Songs Project, performed by Ensemble Hilka.

Back in 2011, CTMD worked with ethnomusicologist/singer Maria Sonevytsky (Bard College) to bring renowned vocalist/ethnomusicologist Yefim Yefremov to New York for a series of workshops and concerts with a group of leading local singers (Hilka) that focused on the polyphonic village singing styles of Ukraine’s Chornobyl region which were extant before the nuclear disaster of 1986. The Chornobyl Songs Project CD is now being released on Smithsonian Folkways.

This concert will take place at the beautiful Ukrainian Museum, 222 East Sixth Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues) in Manhattan’s East Village.

A reception in the museum concourse featuring music by the Veveritse Brass Band will follow the concert. Admission is $15/$10 members and seniors/$5 students.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The transformation to fair and sustainable regional economies requires place-based, citizen-driven tools. The principles behind these tools are universal, but their effective application will be shaped by the landscape, the people, the history, and the culture of each particular region.

On September 14, 2015 Schumacher College for New Economists will welcome its first class of students to the Berkshires for the first two months of a nine month program. The program will be unprecedented, involving over twenty partner organizations at multiple locations across the US and UK. The list of partners is still growing, and currently includes:

The initiative grows from a common recognition: every local economy will need its own community economists – part visionary theorists, part activists – imagining what can be achieved and organizing to achieve it. Schumacher College was formed to train these new economists.

Program graduates may not have all the answers – but they will have the resources and connections to know where to look. They will know, and be known by, their community, and be committed to sharing and applying what they have learned.

They will find allies in the Maker Community who value the hand-crafted over the mono-culture products of an anonymous global economy, in the new agrarians cultivating small lots to produce for a regional food system, in community bankers who still make loan decisions based on face to face interviews, in environmentalists who understand the carbon cost of transporting goods over long distance, and in all those who love the “sidewalk dance” of a vibrant local economy.

They will engage a community process to explore the financing structures, the land tenure structures, the community supported industry structures, and the ownership structures needed to sustain and grow locally-owned businesses that pay a living wage.

They will need community engagement and support for their training. See below for more information on how to send a student from your community.

To get further details on Schumacher sustainability and the education for a new economy – please go to:
  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, European Union, Green is Possible, Massachusetts, United Kingdom

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For Boehner, Visit to Israel Isn’t the Time to Speak Out – but the timing was in anticipation of the statements from Geneva relating to he West, Russia and China with the nuclear-seeking Iran.

By JODI RUDOREN, The New York Times, Wednesday, APRIL 1, 2015

Speaker John A. Boehner and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in Jerusalem on the April 1, Wednesday.

JERUSALEM — If the speaker of the House visits Israel and does not say anything substantive, does it have any effect on the troubled relations between Washington and Jerusalem?

Much ado was made in both capitals when it was discovered that Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, would lead a congressional delegation to Israel this week. It was Mr. Boehner, after all, who had invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to speak before Congress, against White House wishes, about the emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

The Israel visit, coming two weeks after an election that handed Mr. Netanyahu a fourth term and coinciding with a deadline in the Iran negotiations, was derided as an unseemly victory lap. Critics said it could only deepen accusations of mutual meddling in domestic politics, especially amid the postelection furor in the Obama administration about Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign statements ruling out a Palestinian state and appearing to denigrate Arab citizens.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

“I don’t believe I’m poking anyone in the eye,” Speaker John A. Boehner told reporters on Wednesday after announcing his invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
Boehner Invites Another Response to State of Union, From Israel’s Premier JAN. 21, 2015
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel celebrated with supporters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
Netanyahu Soundly Defeats Chief Rival in Israeli ElectionsMARCH 17, 2015

But after the original deadline for the Iran talks came and went without an announcement from negotiators in Lausanne, Switzerland, Mr. Boehner came and went without making news.

The prime minister and the speaker were originally scheduled to make statements for the cameras at noon. (Print reporters were not allowed to attend.) Instead, Mr. Netanyahu appeared alone to issue his latest attack on the nuclear negotiations, using the word “unconscionable” as he said, “Now is the time for the international community to insist on a better deal.”

“Yesterday, an Iranian general brazenly declared, and I quote, ‘Israel’s destruction is nonnegotiable,’ but evidently, giving Iran’s murderous regime a clear path to the bomb is negotiable,” Mr. Netanyahu declared. “Iran must stop its aggression in the region, stop its terrorism throughout the world, and stop its threats to annihilate Israel. That should be nonnegotiable, and that’s the deal that the world powers must insist upon.”

Returning to the podium a bit later with Mr. Boehner by his side, Mr. Netanyahu did not utter the word “Iran,” speaking only generally about “anti-Western, anti-democratic and anti-American extremism.” He thanked the speaker and his colleagues “from both sides of the aisle for the warm welcome” at last month’s speech before Congress, and spoke of “the enduring bond that unites our two nations.”

Mr. Boehner, for his part, said hardly anything at all — not about the Iran talks, and not about the divisions the two leaders have engendered with the White House. He had led a group of eight Republican House members to Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and in Israel he visited a military base near the Gaza Strip where he toured a tunnel dug by Palestinian militants. The group is scheduled to depart Thursday morning.

“The bonds between the United States and Israel are as strong as ever,” Mr. Boehner offered. “While we may have political disagreements from time to time, the bonds between our two nations are strong, and they’re going to continue to be strong.”

Then Mr. Netanyahu said he would like to serve the group lunch. Mr. Boehner said he was hungry, and they left.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Arctic – North Pole camps planned for Russian paratroopers, scientists.

Trude Pettersen, Barents Observer
March 27, 2015

There will be two Russian North Pole bases of operation this summer — one a set of floating camps to be used by scientists, and the other a site for Russian soldiers to train on ice.
 www.adn.com/article/20150327/nort…

—————————————————————–


Arctic – Kremlin supports Lukoil’s Arctic ambitions

Trude Pettersen, Barents Observer.
March 30, 2015

Putin’s government, dissatisfied with the pace of work performed by state-owned Rosneft and Gazprom, is considering changing policy to open up the Arctic shelf to private companies. If that happens, Lukoil — Russia’s top private oil producer — would benefit.
 www.adn.com/article/20150330/krem…

——————————————————————-

Arctic Committee forms to tackle Arctic waterways safety.

Carey RestinoThe Arctic Sounder
March 28, 2015

The Arctic Waterways Safety Committee, formed to develop the best practices for managing Arctic waterways, held its first formal meeting this month in Juneau, electing officers and meeting with the governor and Alaska’s state committee on the Arctic.
 www.adn.com/article/20150328/comm…

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

February 17, 2015

Tesla’s Disruptive New Plan to Power Your Home
by Dr. Kent Moors

From a surprising source – Dr. Kent Moors’ Oil & Energy Investor’s site we picked up the following:

February 17, 2015 – but we picked this up only February 25th because Google deemed the posting a “Promotion rather then “Primar
 oilandenergyinvestor.com/2015/02/…

TESLA’s DISRUPTIVE NEW PLAN TO POWER YOUR HOME.
by Dr. Kent Moors

Dear Oil & Energy Investor,

Two eye-opening announcements prove that renewable energy is no longer at the mercy of the price of oil.


Both involve solar power, which I find increasingly attractive in today’s markets.

The first is a major test of a joint project between Tesla Motors Inc. (NasdaqGS: TSLA) and SolarCity Corp. (NasdaqGS: SCTY) involving 500 California homes.

Sources have told me they expect this test to be the final “proof of concept,” followed by wider applications in both residential and commercial uses.

The lynchpin between the two is a family connection.

Tesla’s CEO is Elon Musk, one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of our time, while his cousin Lyndon Rive is the CEO of SolarCity. Musk is also SolarCity’s biggest shareholder.

Now the two are coming together in hopes of solving the industry’s biggest roadblock…

———————————

This was followed by:

Solar Power Comes of Age

Tesla, of course, needs very little introduction. The California-based company has a very visible position in cutting-edge electric cars.

SolarCity, on the other hand, is the market leader in residential solar power installations. In the third quarter of 2014, SolarCity led the pack in this portion of the business by grabbing 39% of the market. Meanwhile, SolarCity’s next-closest competitor came in at 16%.

The two market leaders are now combining some of their operations in a very serious attempt to bring solar power into more consumer areas. In short, SolarCity is working with Tesla to make rooftop panels that are fitted with Tesla batteries.

Now a major test is underway in California that may usher in a new age of residential solar battery use.

The California test will utilize a solar battery with the ability to power a home for two days in the event of a blackout. In everyday use, the unit is expected to allow homeowners to store solar-generated power for use during high-cost periods, giving them the flexibility to use the conventional grid for cheaper, off-peak electricity.

Storing generated power for use at other times – in short, perfecting a new line of cost-effective batteries – has been the industry’s single biggest hurdle.

So the California residential test may well usher in a whole new ballgame. Considering the batteries from the Tesla-SolarCity venture (involving more than the California test) utilize a new generation of silicon batteries, rather than relying on rare earth metals or lithium, is also a plus. This type of approach is already well advanced, and is based on considerable familiarity and history.

It also doesn’t hurt that Tesla is building the biggest battery factory on the planet right now. Dubbed the “Gigafactory,” the plant is expected to have a dramatic effect on the energy storage market, helping to bring battery costs down by as much as half by 2020.

So while the initial price of these installations may come in high, as with any generation-changing new technology, the cost will eventually come down. What’s more, there may be some credits and other inducements provided by the companies to stimulate usage.

This development, combined with the recent decisions by Apple Inc. (NasdaqGS: AAPL) to power its new Pentagon-like headquarters via solar and Google Inc. (NasdaqGS: GOOG) opting for wind power for its San Francisco Bay Area base, show that renewables are now moving into all aspects of electricity end use here in the States.

and the SECOND BIG NEWS OF THE INTRODUCTORY PIECE:

India Breaks Ground on the World’s Largest Solar Plant

The second major development for renewables is unfolding halfway around the world.

India has announced a major push to provide 15% of its electricity needs from renewables with an initial push into solar power, which is unfolding right now. It’s the first high-profile effort to provide concrete plans for a major Asian advance into solar power distribution.

The Times of India reported yesterday that the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant has begun in the central Indian Rewa district, within the state of Madhya Pradesh. The plant, a joint venture between state-run PSU Urja Vikas Nigam and the Solar Energy Corp. of India, will provide 750 megawatt of electricity. Once online, the plant will be 36% bigger than the largest plant currently in operation.

The current world leader is the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, which just opened in California’s Mojave Desert. Situated on 3,800 acres near Joshua Tree National Park, the plant produces enough energy to power 160,000 homes.

But the Indian push into solar power hardly ends there. The government has plans for two dozen solar farms strategically placed throughout the country.

In all, the State Bank of India has committed resources for the development of 15 gigawatt of solar power by 2020. The objective is to provide a full 15% of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources within five years.

To be sure, there are some doubts that New Delhi can pull this off. For one thing, the price tag is very debatable. For another, the national electricity distribution grid is in a sorry state, and would require significant, pricey, and (at the moment) an unspecified amount of investment to be able to shoulder the anticipated new power load.

Still, with the Chinese committed to a similar 15 gigawatt goal from solar by 2020, Germany’s decision to end its reliance on nuclear power, and the continued growth pattern in the U.S., one conclusion is already abundantly clear.

The future of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewables is longer dependent on the price of crude.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As received from Lady Rabbi Judith Hauptman of the Ohel Ayalah community on New York City.

subject: Purim of levity or gravity?

Dear Ohel Ayalah community,

P U R I M P A R T Y for 20s/30s
Join us on Tues Mar 3, the night before Purim, at P E O P L E Lounge, 163 Allen St., 6:30 to 8:30 pm. First drink FREE for filling out a one-page survey. Special guest: Sarah Rosen, author of Kosher Porn, will sign and sell copies of her hilarious new “graphic” book. Want to know what kosher porn is? Show up and find out. The book costs $14, cash or check only. Directions: Take the F train to Second Ave, get out at the front of the train, and walk south on Allen St. for 2 mins.

P U R I M, in a serious vein: The Scroll of Esther (the Megillah) will be read in synagogues on Wed night, March 4. One suggested (fun) venue is: JTS, 3080 Broadway, at 122 St. Time: 7 pm.

Purim is the one Jewish holiday of pure levity. The message of the Megillah, however, is both light-hearted and serious. In today’s world, we are still dealing with some who would like Jews to disappear. To keep you looking at the bright side of Purim, seeing the Megillah partly as a domestic farce, I am copying below comments by Adele Berlin, the highly regarded Bible scholar (also a friend of mine!), author of the JPS commentary on the Scroll of Esther.


After Vashti refuses to show her beauty to the visiting dignitaries, the courtiers say to the king, “For the queen’s behavior will make all wives scorn their husbands, as they reflect that King Ahasuerus himself ordered Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come (Esther 1:17, JPS translation [slightly emended]).”


Berlin writes: The advisors are not worried that Vashti’s examples will provoke other Persian subjects to disobey the king; they are afraid that all the Persian women will scorn their husbands. . . . The advisors are trying to ward off a sexual strike by Persian women (a theme found in Greek literature of the Persian period, in Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata). They are as concerned about themselves as they are about the king (p13).

The danger that Memucan (one of the advisors) sees in Vashti’s refusal is preposterous. How will it provoke a rebellion by all the wives in the empire against their husbands? The burlesque of the great Persian empire, drowning in luxury, wine, courtiers, and incompetent management, reaches one of its high points here, with a touch of male sexual anxiety added for good measure (p17).

So read the rest of the Megillah in a communal setting on Wed night, Mar 4, or by yourself. Laugh but also cry. Here is a link to an online version of Megillat Esther: www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3301….. You will need to click to get from one chapter to the next.

Please note: Passover is around the corner. Will be sending more information in a few weeks. Seder reservations open on Sunday, March 15. First night seder for all Ages, Fri April 3; Second night seder for 20s/30s, Saturday night, April 4.

Questions or comments? Write to me at  Judith at ohelayalah.org.

Happy Purim,
Judith Hauptman

Rabbi and Founder, Ohel Ayalah

  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, Austria, Canada, Denmark, European Union, France, Iran, Israel, New York, Reporting from Washington DC

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Fracking Puts Jerry Brown, Environmentalists at Odds.

By Juliet Williams, Associated Press

06 February 2015

In the 1970s, the environmental movement had no bigger political hero than California Gov. Jerry Brown. He cracked down on polluters, ended tax breaks for oil companies and promoted solar energy.

Forty years later, in his second go-around as governor, conservationists are among his harshest critics.

Climate change is one of Brown’s key issues, and he said in his inaugural address last month that his goal is to have California get half its energy from renewable sources within 15 years.

But because he has refused to ban hydraulic fracturing for oil, protesters, or “fracktivists,” have dogged Brown for more than a year, even interrupting his speech at the Democratic Party convention last spring.

“Climate leaders don’t frack,” said Kassie Siegal of the Center for Biological Diversity, a group that praises Brown’s programs to boost renewable energy. “The oil and gas boom threatens to undercut all the other progress that our state may make on climate.”

Fracking opponents have planned their largest protest so far, a rally Saturday in Brown’s hometown of Oakland that they hope will attract thousands. More than 100 environmental and community groups have signed on, and protesters are being bused in from around the state.

These days, Brown rarely engages with his critics. He barely campaigned for re-election last year and holds few public events.

The exception is appearances promoting the use of solar energy or other environmental initiatives. Still, Brown has noted that Californians love their freeways and gas-guzzling vehicles.

“The reason why I have some sympathy for oil drilling in California is because 98 percent of the people are using oil that is imported, and until we get them in electric cars or walking or riding their bikes, we need oil. But we’ve got to get off it,” he said last year.

When protesters interrupted a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents last year, he asked rhetorically whether they cycled or walked to the meeting in Sacramento.

California is the No. 3 oil producer in the nation and has added an average of 300 wells each month for the past decade, about half of them using hydraulic fracturing, which involves forcing fluid, sand and chemicals underground to break rock formations and extract oil and gas. A fifth of the state’s oil production comes through fracking.

Through a spokesman, Brown declined to comment on the protest, referring questions to the California Department of Conservation. In a prepared statement, chief deputy director Jason Marshall avoided using the term fracking, instead calling it “well stimulation.”

“We have no direct evidence that any harm has been caused by the practice in California,” he said. “We believe the regulations we’ve created, atop existing well construction standards, will protect the environment.”

California regulators have also authorized oil companies to inject production fluids and waste into federally protected aquifers more than 2,500 times, risking contamination of underground water supplies, an Associated Press review found.

State officials are conducting a series of fracking reviews as California sets up its first comprehensive regulatory framework, after Brown signed a bill imposing new rules.

Oil producers say they will be the toughest regulations in the nation; environmentalists say they were watered down after legislators caved in to oil companies.

Brown is also seeking to ramp up targets set in the 2006 global warming law signed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Last year he persuaded lawmakers to devote revenue from fees charged to polluters to help fund the proposed $68 billion bullet train, which Brown touts as an environmentally friendly approach to transportation.

Environmentalists want Brown to follow the lead of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat who banned fracking last year. But reports by the California Council on Science and Technology contend the kind of fracking done in California is less risky, with little horizontal drilling to expose large areas underground to potential contamination.

“I don’t agree with the notion that Jerry Brown is in the pocket of big oil. Some people think that, I don’t,” said Ross Bates, who headed a successful campaign last November to ban fracking in San Benito County. “When you try to take a middle road, people on either side have a problem with it.”

Still, environmentalists were hoping for a more aggressive approach from Brown when he returned to office in 2010. Brown’s ballot measure committee last year accepted more than $600,000 from oil companies and energy interests that also gave nearly $200,000 to his re-election campaign.

“In general we expected more of him because we as a state expect more, period,” said Marta Stoepker, a spokeswoman for the Sierra Club in California, one of the groups taking part in Saturday’s protest.

————————————————

Some of the Comments:

+17 # Agricanto 2015-02-06 23:28
The natural gas industry has convinced a huge number of Dems in CA that natural gas is some kind of bridge to sustainability. So they approved legislation that would only require the chemicals pumped into the ground to be listed.

The bill reduced the whole problem of fracking to knowing what toxic shit they are pumping into the ground. No mention of water resources used in fracking, waste water (toxic soup of chemicals) disposal, methane releases, etc.

The fracking industry can’t show their technology is benign. Water is worth a whole lot more than gas. Now MidewestTom will weigh in on the wonders of natural gas and “energy independence”.

+21 # FDRva 2015-02-06 23:57
Fracking is by all accounts a major waste of water–which is a more precious resource than oil.

+11 # uncbros 2015-02-07 00:17
Jerry there is no excuse for Fracking in California. What are you thinking MR Moonbeam does not help those who would destroy all that is good out of sheer greed? You and the State you represent are the pillars of Green. A process that needs thousands if not millions of gallons of water, causes Earth quacks, pollutes the air, water, and ground and poisons the citizens at the same time. From a State prone to earth quacks that has no water and feeds a nation this is insanity on your part. Not the legacy I would want to leave my children or the children of the world. Just do the right thing. I don’t have to tell what that is.

+11 # Pancho 2015-02-07 00:38
I have to agree that the enormous amount of water used to extract oil and gas reflects an “externalized cost” of recovery. California has been in a state of severe drought for over five years. No one seems to be responsible for that water waste.

Also, injection wells used to dispose of produced brine and fracking wastes, have been found to be the cause of induced seismicity.

Oklahoma, with its otherwise stable geology and, prior to 2008, very rare earthquakes, is now exceeding California in the number of quakes with the intensities of thousands of those tremors exceeding 3.0 and some in the 5.0-5.7 range.

0 # Street Level 2015-02-07 21:35
Sympathy? Sympathy for oil drilling in California? My Ass! How about the cities that have run out of water or the fact the state is sinking? What about the dumping of fracking waste that his regulators allow?
That contaminated water is now “gone forever, Jerry. Get it? Gone forever”. Eight thousand marched in Oakland today. I hope they all ended up on the Governors front lawn, that sellout.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Today In the U.S. – Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report.

By CARL HULSE, The New York Times, February 4, 2015

Following up on last week’s news:
Moussaoui Calls Saudi Princes Patrons of Al Qaeda – February 3, 2015
Pre-9/11 Ties Haunt Saudis as New Accusations Surface – February. 4, 2015
the US is now all ears – will they get to know the true facts by being allowed to read the inquiry results?


President George W. Bush has ordered classified – that is top secrecy – on the behavior of the Saudi Monarchy and its Princes in the US – and even sprinted them out of reach at a time the airports were closed for everybody else. Is this not suspicious even more when we think how the House of Bush was involved in oil-business ties with the House of Saud?

WASHINGTON — A still-classified section of the investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has taken on an almost mythic quality over the past 13 years — 28 pages that examine crucial support given the hijackers and that by all accounts implicate prominent Saudis in financing terrorism.

Now new claims by Zacarias Moussaoui, a convicted former member of Al Qaeda, that he had high-level contact with officials of the Saudi Arabian government in the prelude to Sept. 11 have brought renewed attention to the inquiry’s withheld findings, which lawmakers and relatives of those killed in the attacks have tried unsuccessfully to declassify.

“I think it is the right thing to do,” said Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts and an author of a bipartisan resolution encouraging President Obama to declassify the section. “Let’s put it out there.”


White House officials say the administration has undertaken a review on whether to release the pages but has no timetable for when they might be made public.


Mr. Lynch and his allies have been joined by former Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was a leader of the inquiry. He has called for the release of the report’s Part 4, which dealt with Saudi Arabia, since President George W. Bush ordered it classified when the rest of the report was released in December 2002.

Mr. Graham has repeatedly said it shows that Saudi Arabia was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks. “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” Mr. Graham said last month as he pressed for the pages to be made public.

Relatives of those killed on Sept. 11 as well as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Saudi Arabia have also demanded that the pages be made public, seeing them as the vital link that they believe connects an important ally of the United States to the deadly attacks. They say the pages, Part 4 of the report, could also help in determining the source of current funding for terrorist activities.

“If we stop funding of terrorism and hold those people accountable, wouldn’t it make a dent in the financing of terrorism today?” asked William Doyle, whose son, Joseph, was killed in the World Trade Center. Mr. Doyle said that President Obama personally assured him after the death of Osama bin Laden that he would declassify that section of the report.

Proponents of releasing Part 4, titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain National Security Matters,” have suggested that the Bush and Obama administrations have held it back for fear of alienating an influential military and economic partner rather than for any national security consideration.


Others familiar with that section of the report say that while it might implicate Saudi Arabia, the suspicions, investigatory leads and other findings it contains did not withstand deeper scrutiny. Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director of the national commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks after the congressional panels, said the commission followed up on the allegations, using some of the same personnel who wrote them initially, but reached a different conclusion.

“Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of Al Qaeda funding, but we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” the commission said in its July 2004 report. It did note, however, the “likelihood that charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to Al Qaeda.”

Mr. Zelikow pointed to the more thorough investigation undertaken by the commission.

“Those involved in the preparation of the famous 28 pages joined the staff of the 9/11 Commission and participated in the follow-up investigation of all the leads that had been developed earlier,” he said Wednesday. “In doing so, they were aided by a larger team with more members, more powers and for the first time actually conducted interviews of relevant people both in this country and in Saudi Arabia.”

“And what we found is reflected in the commission report,” he said.

Demands for the release of the 28 pages began soon after the intelligence committees finished their work. In 2003, more than 40 senators called on Mr. Bush to order the material’s disclosure. He refused, saying “we won’t reveal sources and methods that will compromise our efforts to succeed” in fighting terrorism.

The Saudi government has also said it favored making the 28 pages public because that would make it easier to refute what it said were unfounded allegations. The embassy said Wednesday that it stood by that position

Representative Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican pushing for the release of Part 4, said the Moussaoui claims might give momentum to the declassification effort. He said he was approached Wednesday on the House floor by lawmakers inquiring how to view the 28 pages.

But there seemed to be little appetite for declassification among the Republican leaders of the intelligence panels. Senator Richard M. Burr, the North Carolina Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was skeptical of the value of releasing the pages, calling them more of a historical document in a fight against terrorism that has shifted substantially since 2002.

“There may have been a level of participation by some Muslim country that is not commensurate with today,” he said.

Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said “the authority to declassify this document lies with President Obama.”

Advocates of releasing the document have been frustrated by Mr. Obama, noting that Democrats were much more aggressive in pushing for its disclosure when Mr. Bush was president.

Mr. Doyle and Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed on Sept. 11 in the World Trade Center, say the president assured them during separate meetings with families of the victims of the attack that he saw no reason the document should be withheld.

Mr. Doyle said he encouraged Mr. Obama at a meeting in May 2011 with surviving family members to follow through on a pledge he made two years earlier to Ms. Breitweiser. “He said: ‘Bill, I know about the pages. I promise I am going to get them released,’ ” Mr. Doyle recounted.

The White House said it was responding to the calls to consider releasing the material.

“This administration, in response to a congressional request, last year asked the intelligence community to conduct a classification review of this material,” said Edward C. Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “We did so in keeping with the standard procedure for determining whether classified information can be publicly released without jeopardizing national security. That process is ongoing.”

Saudi Princes’ Deep Ties to the West:

Three of the Saudi princes accused by the Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui have strong diplomatic and business ties to the United States.

— Prince Bandar bin Sultan
was known as “the toast of Washington” who had an “aura of charming roguishness” when he served as Saudi ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. He is a nephew of King Salman and King Abdullah, who died last month. Prince Bandar, 65, had been close to President George Bush and his son, President George W. Bush, and helped deliver Saudi support for America’s crucial Middle East initiatives during three wars and the fight against terrorism.

He was the head of Saudi intelligence from 2012 until last April, and had been the architect of Riyadh’s plan to remove President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and lobbied against an interim nuclear accord with Iran.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, 69, is another of the king’s nephews. He replaced Prince Bandar as the Saudi ambassador in Washington in 2005 and served in that post for two years. He was the head of Saudi intelligence from 1977 until Aug. 31, 2001, and managed Riyadh’s relations with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban.

In an interview in 2005, he said the accusation contained in a lawsuit, later dismissed, that he provided support to Al Qaeda “was kind of a slap in the face.”

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, at 59 is a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz, and is chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company and the wealthiest member of the royal family. (The rapper Busta Rhymes namechecks Prince Alwaleed in the 2008 song “Arab Money.”) He owns Rotana, the Arab world’s largest entertainment company, and holds significant investments in Citigroup, TimeWarner, Twitter and Apple, among other companies. He had a large stake in News Corporation until Tuesday, when his company sold $188 million worth of its shares, according to Financial Times.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Prince Alwaleed offered Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani $10 million for the Twin Towers Fund, but Mr. Giuliani rejected it after the prince criticized American policy in the Middle East.

————————————————————————–

Some of the Comments:
BOS 7 minutes ago

Tangential it may be, judging from the comments written about this thus far the former First Lady Barbara Bush is right when she said the…

Wessexmom
12 minutes ago

President Obama should release these classified documents. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will guarantee that no Bush will ever…

Ellen
13 minutes ago

Didn’t Saudis fly out of the country one day after 9/11 when all planes were grounded, and yet no outcries.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sustainable Energy Revolution Grows, Says Bloomberg Report

Despite strong resistance on the part of the fossil-fuel sector and some policymakers, a new way of thinking about energy is taking hold.

by ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, Wednesday, 04 February 2015.

Article reprinted by Truthout from EcoWatch of Bloomberg

The third annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook released today documents the continuing dramatic changes in how the U.S. produces, delivers and consumes energy, and makes some projections and predictions about the direction of the energy sector in the future. The report was researched and produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by The Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

“To single out just a few tell-tale headlines from the hundreds of statistics presented in this report: over the 2007-2014 period, U.S. carbon emissions from the energy sector dropped 9 percent, U.S. natural gas production rose 25 percent and total U.S. investment in clean energy (renewables and advanced grid, storage and electrified transport technologies) totaled $386 billion,” the report said.

The report backs up what other studies have been showing—that despite strong resistance on the part of the fossil-fuel sector and some policymakers, a new way of thinking about energy is taking hold. The factbook points to four significant trends:

– the advance in infrastructure projects and technology to accommodate new forms of energy;
– more capital flowing to projects aimed at sustainable energy development with the U.S. attracting the second highest
number of dollars after China;
– companies with high energy-related costs gravitating to the U.S.; and
– government policies that favor the development of clean energy sources.


In regard to government policies, it specifically cites President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan, announced in June, to retire coal-fired plants and the historic agreement struck between the U.S. and China in November in which the U.S. pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 while China would reach peak emissions by 2030.


“The 2015 Factbook clearly shows that America is on the path to a more sustainable energy sector,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “Our energy productivity is rising along with economic growth, while energy-intensive industries are onshoring production to the United States to take advantage of low energy costs. All of this is happening as investment in clean energy continues to grow and as new natural gas infrastructure continues to come online. These are strong positive signs for America’s economy and environment.”

The U.S. is becoming more “energy productive” with its economic growth decoupled from the growth in demand for electricity, according to the report. “Between 1950 and 1990, electricity demand grew at an annual rate of just below 6%,” it says. “Between 1990 and 2007, it grew at an annual of 1.9%. Between 2007 and 2014, annualized electricity demand growth has been … zero.”

The trend toward decarbonization continues with renewable energy’s share of the total energy mix rising from 7 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2014. Since 2000, 93 percent of new U.S. power capacity has been natural gas, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal or other renewable projects. Investment in the clean energy sector has grown hand in hand with that, adding up to $386 billion since 2007 and increasing by 7 percent in 2014 over 2013’s level.

“Against the backdrop of a surging economy and crumbling oil prices, major trends around decarbonization and improving energy productivity continued in the United States,” said Michel Di Capua, head of Americas research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Low-carbon energy technologies stand to benefit from key policies proposed in 2014, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation for the power sector and an innovative new vision for the electricity market in New York State.”


The report finds that gasoline consumption in the transportation sector is down by 8 percent, due to a combination of factors including more energy-efficient vehicles, the public’s preference for those vehicles and a decline in driving, as well as the still small but growing adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles. Yet conversely the factbook says, thanks largely to fracking, U.S. oil production has grown by 41 percent since 2007 and “has returned to levels not seen since the 1980s.”


It also points to some retrenchment in clean energy growth. In what will seem like mixed news to many renewable energy advocates, the contribution of natural gas to U.S. electricity generation has declined somewhat since 2013, and thanks to a drop in energy prices, that has allowed coal to become more competitive and regain a small piece of its market share, ticking up to 39 percent in 2013 and 2014, after dropping to 37 percent in 2012 from 49 percent in 2007. But longer-term trends, especially the closing of coal-fired power plants, will probably not sustain such growth in the future. Carbon emissions have increased as well, although that trend too is likely to reverse as coal-fired plants are shut down.

The final area of backtracking the factbook points to is the uncertainty over the very government policies the report says have fueled growth in the sustainable energy sector. Regarding President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan and the U.S.-China agreement, it says, “Neither policy will come easy. Legal challenges to the EPA’s proposal are underway, and achievement of the 2025 pledge will require new policy action.”

The enactment of policies at the state level that encouraged investment in and growth of wind and solar power has not just slowed down but shows signs of reversing. In 2014, Ohio froze its renewable energy standards, which has reduced job growth and investments in solar and wind projects, while Arizona is considering a tax on rooftop solar installations, and other states are discussing such backward moves, including the Hoosier state.


“Policy actions taken by the U.S. in 2014 have set the stage for a potentially momentous global climate summit at Paris in December 2015,” says the report. “The U.S.-China pact was the most notable achievement in the global climate negotiations process in 2014. Such public pledges from China and the U.S. (the world’s first and second biggest emitters, respectively) have the potential to challenge other nations to do more as well. The summit to be held in Paris at the end of 2015 will be the most significant multilateral climate negotiations since the discussions in Copenhagen in 2009. The growth of sustainable energy is a critical part of achieving any targets that might be struck under diplomatic deals on greenhouse gas emissions.”

—————————————

Some Comments on Truthout:

bobaka • 5 hours ago

You exclude the most important point your ideological blinders prevent you from seeing. The basic problem with power is that it is a source of private greed. All power must be a public utility and the 1% will no longer be able to bankroll their goons into office on a flood of profits–huge profits off the mass market that individual power users are forced into. Get the elitist beasts off our backs and we would all have solar.

SinglePayer2017 • 7 hours ago

Great. Next, we need a Green Economic Revolution to repair the devastation caused by the income-inequality fossil fuel economy over the last 40 years. Restorative justice requires the wealthy to voluntarily adopt a Maximum Income to repay their debts to society.
Here’s The Plan:
Maximum Income Tax + Guaranteed Income = Reparations, Economic Justice
This formula represents a Green New Deal to tackle structural income inequality. The Maximum Income is the only way to keep the rich from going crazy and jumping into the abyss…again. The Guaranteed Income is the only humane way to deal with the despair and homelessness caused by a militarized economy that values one lousy, outdated plane more than the lives of its own citizens.
Human Rights need to be integrated into the accounting equation. Next to the Stockholders’ Equity account, we need a Workers’ Equity account, so working people can enjoy the same dividends as the rich do now. The poorest should have a Guaranteed Income, so poverty will still have dignity, and the rich need to learn that all things have limits, including wealth.
Or, you can ignore this advice, and hope for a better deal from the angry mobs…I hear them talking about guillotines an awful lot these days.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Conference: “CLIMATE CHANGE – AMERICA’S STANCE BEFORE THE PARIS SUMMIT.”
February 18. 2015 – at the FRENCH CONSULATE IN NEW YORK

A Conversation with Justin Gillis – Reporter for The New York Times
and
Jeff Nesbit – Executive Director of Climate Nexus,

The conversation will be moderated by Michael Shank – Director of Media Strategy for Climate Nexus

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Consulate General of France
934 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10021 (btw. 74th and 75th Streets)
Check-in will begin at 6:15 pm, and the conference will start at 6:45 pm sharp.


Please RSVP to:   Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in France, Future Events, New York

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


THE RALPH BUNCHE INSTITUTE FOR POLITICAL STUDIES – CUNY Graduate School.

The European Union Studies Center at The City University of New York – Graduate Center – 365 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City.

This coming Wednesday, February 11 2015, at 6pm, we will co-sponsor a panel discussion featuring contributors to a new volume on EU-African relations:

The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europe

Panelists:

Ade Adebajo
Executive Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, South Africa

Rob de Vos
Consul General of the Netherlands in New York

Patrizia Nobbe
Assistant Director, European Union Studies Center, CUNY Graduate Center

The event will take place at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, in Room 9207. A flyer is attached. Please RSVP by emailing  RBInstitute at gc.cuny.edu

We hope to welcome you to this very interesting event!
Best regards,

Patrizia Nobbe

***

Patrizia Nobbe, Ph.D.
Assistant Director
European Union Studies Center
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016-4309
Tel: 212-817-2053
Email:  pnobbe at gc.cuny.edu
  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Africa, Archives, European Union, Future Events, New York

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Progressive Policies Are Popular – So Why Should Democrats Be Afraid of Them?

Saturday, 31 January 2015 13:27
By Keane Bhatt, FAIR | Op-Ed – re-posted by Truthout.

CNN’s post-speech discussion of Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included anchor Wolf Blitzer’s reaction to colleague Jake Tapper’s view that the president had outlined a liberal economic agenda. Blitzer’s analysis illustrates the logic behind corporate media’s longstanding efforts to dissuade politicians from advocating for progressive policies:

TAPPER: Of course, most of the speech, the body of the speech, was a very progressive, very liberal economic message about trying to help the middle class…. [It] was about new tax cuts, about the $3,000 per child per year, paid sick leave or paid maternity leave, raising the minimum wage, lowering the cost of community college to zero.

BLITZER: I think it’s fair to say, had he put forward all these new initiatives before the midterm elections – was afraid to do so, because he feared it could hurt Democrats who were up in a tough reelection or election season. As a result, he didn’t do any of those things before the midterms, but now after the midterms, [with] two years to go, he feels emboldened, almost liberated, ready to move on with these new very progressive or very liberal initiatives.

According to Blitzer, policy proposals such as paid sick leave and maternity leave, an increased minimum wage and free community college are all liabilities to pragmatic Democrats concerned with winning elections – which explains Obama’s reticence prior to November’s midterm elections. However, public opinion polls show widespread support for those measures, including, in many cases, from Republican voters.


A CNN poll (6/9/14) found 71 percent of the public supporting an increase in the minimum wage, including a majority of Republicans and conservatives. In November, voters in the Republican-leaning states of Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Alaska passed ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage by large margins (Huffington Post, 11/4/14).

A HuffPost/YouGov poll (6/20/13) found that 74 percent of the US public supports requiring companies to offer paid sick leave to their employees; paid maternity leave garnered 61 percent approval. In a number of recent polls, the idea of free community college received majority support (The Hill, 1/20/15)–one poll found that more Republicans favored the measure than opposed it, rather remarkable given that the idea was only recently popularized by President Obama himself.

So it’s not voters’ preferences that, in Blitzer’s words, “could hurt Democrats” facing elections. A likelier reason is election funding. Political scientists Walter Dean Burnham and Thomas Ferguson observed that politicians largely depended on financing from economic elites (AlterNet, 12/18/14) in what were probably the most expensive midterms in history (Washington Post, 10/22/14)

The President and the Democratic Party are almost as dependent on big money–defined, for example, in terms of the percentage of contributions (over $500 or $1,000) from the 1 percent–as the Republicans. To expect top-down, money-driven political parties to make strong economic appeals to voters is idle.

In the context of low-turnout elections largely financed by economic elites, policies such as minimum wage increases and paid sick leave, which force financial concessions from the wealthy, do indeed “hurt Democrats.” It is in part this conflict that explains high-profile Democrats’ lack of advocacy on those measures. As The Atlantic reported (6/18/14), “Hillary Clinton isn’t against federally mandated family leave–she just doesn’t think it’s politically feasible”:

“I think, eventually, it should be [implemented],” Clinton said at CNN’s town-hall meeting Tuesday to promote her new book, Hard Choices. But she immediately qualified her position: “I don’t think, politically, we could get it now.”…

A bipartisan poll conducted on behalf of the National Partnership for Women and Families, a pro-leave group, just after the 2012 election, found that 86 percent of Americans supported leave–including 96 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans. The poll inspired new hope that President Obama might take up leave in his second term.

Instead–vindicating Clinton’s opinion that leave is politically impossible right now–the issue has all but disappeared.
Although congressional Democrats had crafted the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which provided employees with 12 weeks of paid leave, President Obama did not endorse the bill (The Week, 6/27/14). The Washington Post (6/23/14) found that “five and a half years after taking office, Obama has no proposal on the table for paid family leave.”


Now that Barack Obama faces Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, Blitzer characterizes the president as “liberated” and “emboldened” to stake out a policy agenda that is now safely off the table. Policies that promote economic justice, which are broadly popular, are considered divisive within the corporate media until they’re rendered impossible. Then media pundits can wink at one other about how politicians are shrewdly courting voters with agendas they cannot possibly fulfill.

And what does it look like when politicians heed the corporate media’s call for bipartisanship? Obama’s full-throated advocacy for the Trans-Pacific Partnership in his State of the Union is one example. The highly secretive, pro-corporate trade agreement threatens to exacerbate the very inequality that the president sought to highlight in his speech, and is opposed by leading economists and many top legislators of own party (Huffington Post, 1/20/15, 1/21/15).

In an article headlined “Poll Finds Agenda Gap Between Leaders, American People,” the Wall Street Journal (1/21/15) noted President Obama’s priority of signing the trade deal was met by a public “virtually yawning at the prospect.” Only 20 percent considered it an “urgent priority,” the paper noted.

Thomas Ferguson offered a simple commentary on this agenda gap (Real News Network, 12/27/14): “You’ve been running these sort of big money-driven elections for quite some time, and it’s policy disappointment that’s driving down the voter turnout.” A far better strategy, he suggested, would be “to do something for the population instead of the 1 percent.”

If politicians were to ignore corporate pundits and instead energized otherwise-apathetic voters with an actual commitment to popular policies, they would offer a solution to voters’ yawns.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 31st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Most of Public and About Half in GOP Back Climate Action

By Coral Davenport and Marjorie Connelly, The New York Times, 30 January 2015


An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group (“Natural Resources for Industry” Oriented – this is our editor’s addition) “Resources for the Future”.

In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science that determined that humans caused global warming.

Among Republicans, 48 percent said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called “the most powerful finding” in the poll. Many Republican candidates either question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.> “It recruits more Tea Partyers than it repels,” Mr. Krosnick said.

READ MORE AT:  www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/pol…


Some of the Comments:

+3 # Dust 2015-01-30 16:44
The question becomes one primarily of world view. Interestingly enough, nobody wants to be considered “unscientific”, so they begin with an a-prior view and look for evidence that that can classify as “science” to support it. (Most people do this, regardless of viewpoint, but people who are truly interested in science refer to science and change their views accordingly).

The parallels to the “creation science / intelligent design” paradigm are fairly clear. Nobody wants to outright dismiss science, so they define the only valid sources of scientific research in increasingly limited and constrained ways. CS/ID people produce NO science of their own; the only thing they do is use their modified version of science to produce what appear to be legitimate questions or holes in the field of evolutionary biology. (FWIW – they also confuse the fields of evolutionary biology and physics). They then assert that ANY lack of perfect understanding in evolutionary theory is clearly grounds to dismiss the entire thing.

A similar parallel can be found in the field of encryption and cryptanalysis. Folks read a standard reference like Applied Cryptography in C and set out to write their own encryption algorithm. Now – THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS!! But when their lack of understanding comes to the fore and their work is not taken seriously by cryptanalysts, the intelligent thing to do is learn more about the field, not scream that there is a conspiracy against you.

+2 # Ken Halt 2015-01-30 16:45
Interesting to read some of the uninformed comments in the article. The MSM and Koch affiliates have been very effective with their propaganda

Refresh comments list
RSS feed for comments to this post

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.
You Are Not Logged In

Forgot Username?
RSNRSN

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Sellouts: The Senate & the Keystone XL Pipeline

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
30 January 2015


Well, the Senate is now set to double-dog dare the president to veto a bill mandating the construction of our old friend the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel designed to bring the world’s dirtiest fossil-fuel down from the environmental hellspout of northern Alberta, through this country’s most valuable farmland, and down to the refineries on the coast, and thence to the world.

Instead of discussing (again) what a dreadful idea the pipeline is, let’s mention the nine (!) Democratic senators who voted to submarine the White House in favor of this catastrophe waiting to happen.

Nine Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus to support the bill: Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

OK, Heidi Heitkamp is about one head-scarf short of being an oil sheikh at this point, and Joe Manchin is hopeless on any issue involving the extraction industries because of coal. But what the hell is up with Tom Carper? What’s Delaware’s dog in this fight? Shipping, I guess, and the same thing could be said for Bob Casey, Jr., who is following the family tradition of bailing on his party when it suits him. (The residents of Pennsylvania, with their land fracked half to death and their water capable of being used as lighter fluid, should be alerted to the fact that their junior senator voted with the industries that have done the damage.) Donnelly of Indiana voted for it so nobody would call him a tree-hugger on the radio, and I suspect Mark Warner wanted to burnish his “centrist” credentials as well. These are all very lame excuses, but Claire McCaskill has none. Of the nine poltroons, her state is closest to the proposed route of the death funnel, and it will be most affected by whatever happens when the pipeline breaks, because it will, because it is a pipeline and they break. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t tried to cobble one together.

“It’s going to be either moved by train, or it’s going to be moved by barge, or it’s going to be moved by pipeline. The safest way for it to be moved is by pipeline. It also has the benefit of more jobs,” said McCaskill when asked about her vote for a pipeline bill offered by Senate Democrats within weeks of losing their majority in last November’s mid-term elections.

Let it be moved in all those ways, but let Canadian oil be moved through Canada, which is a harder sell, because they take their environmental regulations — and their treaties with their indigenous peoples — a lot more serious than we do. So we serve as North America’s Louisiana, with our own Cancer Corridor. Which reminds me:

The vote is a big win for Louisiana lawmakers. Before December’s Senate runoff in that state, the two candidates, incumbent Democratic senator Mary Landrieu and her challenger, GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, both pushed bills to approve the pipeline. The House approved Cassidy’s bill, but the Senate defeated Landrieu’s and he went on to take her Senate seat in the election.


And some of the comments:

+32 # fredboy 2015-01-30 15:46
If Warner doesn’t understand clean water, he shouldn’t be representing the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Disgraceful.

For some time now, here in Colorado, I’ve been passing on my logo for a Dem. governor, Hickenlooper:

HICKNLOOPER IS A POOPER, FOR PROMOTING FRACKING

And now, since his vote in the egregious and gonna be so damaging and health destroying Keystone Pipeline, I’ve got a similar logo for Dem. Sen. Michael Bennet:

GET BENNET OUT OF THE SENATE,
FOR HIS VOTING FOR THE KEYSTONE WAR

Yep, a political war it now is – bi-partisan effort to impeach this POTUS, Obama, should he not veto, as he said he would, this Keystone Pipeline, and a Dem. vote out of any and all obviously bought off Dem. Senators who are listed above, and who are very likely to vote to overcome a veto, should Pres. Obama keep his word and veto, as he’s said he would, the deadly Keystone Pipeline.

+32 # Luckyenough 2015-01-30 15:57
As a Pennsylvania resident, I am at a loss as to how in the name of heaven Casey could have supported this filthy oil traveling anywhere through the US. I wonder if the route had been through PA if he would have been so ready to suck up to the moneyed interests. My fingers are ready on the keyboard to send a letter telling him he is not representing MY interests, and I am one of a minority of dems in my rural very red county!

+30 # Blackjack 2015-01-30 16:05
What they all understand perfectly well is their political futures, which they think is tied to sucking up to the oil/gas industries. What they don’t give a fig about is the best interests of those of us who don’t benefit from oil/gas extraction in our back yards–you know those of us who actually voted for them so they could vote against us. And is anyone else sick of the lame-brained excuse that it will bring “jobs?” That’s the excuse that has been given forever by polluters of all stripes and what it has given us instead is ecological nightmares which we, the indentured servants, i.e., citizens, have had to pay for. . . sometimes after getting sick, and even dying, from whatever brand of poison they foisted upon us.

+3 # BillW72 2015-01-30 16:14
Does nine Democrat senators mean that Obama’s veto can be easily overridden?

+15 # Carol R 2015-01-30 16:16
“Donnelly of Indiana voted for it so nobody would call him a tree-hugger on the radio…”

BP Oil in NW Indiana (Whiting, IN) is already processing Tar Sands oil. Our air was 16th most polluted in the US, according to the American Lung Association. BP Oil puts 2 million tons of pet coke into our air every year.

Just who was Donnelly voting to help? Hoosiers or BP Oil?

AND # skylinefirepest 2015-01-30 16:39
Pipeline is the safest method of transportation for almost any product. Do you drive a car? Wear clothes? Eat food every day? If so, people, then oil put it there for you. We cannot survive without oil. Get over yourselves.

AND +25 # Blackjack 2015-01-30 17:05
It’s you who should get over yourself! You can make excuses all you want for the polluting excesses that make for part of the greed that has been a part of our country for far too many years. You can have some oil/gas for a time without being excessive and you can also look for greener alternatives and support them or you can be satisfied with excess and greed!

+13 # REDPILLED 2015-01-30 17:34
People once thought that way about whale oil. See this: James Hansen slams Keystone XL Canada-U.S. Pipeline: “Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate

 thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/06…

-45 # brycenuc 2015-01-30 17:08
Skylinefirepest is absolutely right. Besides, oil cannot produce the erroneously maligned carbon dioxide until it is refined and burned. It will produce the same amount of harmless carbon dioxide in the atmosphere where ever it is refined and burned. Once that oil is produced, it will be refined and burned.

Of all the stupid things to blame for global warming pipelines are at the top of the list.

+19 # X Dane 2015-01-30 17:19
skylinefirepest.
I wonder if you live close to a pipeline or processing plant?? if you did you would not be so flip, for it is the dirtiest most polluting oil on the planet. And it will ONLY bring destruction…. and disaster, when it breaks,

We are producing plenty of oil in our own country, we do not need Canada’s filthy crap. YOU need to inform yourself before you try to lecture us. You probably do not understand that it is also the most expensive to refine.

+16 # Cassandra2012 2015-01-30 17:49
Skyline PEST
Keystone will only benefit the Koch Bros. and Trans-Canada Oil. It will produce only 35 permanent jobs and threaten the Oglala aquifer and the farmland of eight states.

Filthy dangerous tar sands oil is NO answer to our energy needs. Time to actually develop green solutions as IS BEING DONE IN PLACES LIKE ICELAND and Scotland. We are rapidly becoming a third world country as we succumb to the machinations of the Koch/ALEC oligarchs.
Wise up!

+19 # Barbara K 2015-01-30 17:46
Not only is this crap coming from Canada, but it is not for us. It is going to the Gulf to be shipped to China. We are taking all the risks and getting none of the benefits. A foreign company is taking over farmland by eminent domain that belongs to American citizens. This should not be allowed. No foreign entity should be able to take away an American’s land. That is in the constitution. On top of all that, it is the Koch roaches who stand to gain $500Billion dollars on the deal. It is always, always, all about the money.

+6 # Laird999 2015-01-30 18:22
If this tar sands oil gets used it is GAME OVER – the climate will be ruined for humans – so for the Senator to say “this oil will be transported anyway” is idiotic. Anybody who says its ok to develop tar sands oil is essentially a traitor, a Benedict Arnold. Spills are bad, but spills are nothing compared to Game Over and Climate Ruin. The pipeline will speed up societal suicide. We used up our carbon budget, now we must make a stand and leave the vast majority of the carbon in the ground, or else we guarantee Climate Ruin.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WORK IN PROGRESS


With the US President out-of the country – courting the Saudis in Riyadh – the US East Coast experienced January 27 2015 winter storm Juno that while sparing New York City was nevertheless the most expensive storm in US history thanks in part to the anticipatory moves taken by the region’s mayors and Governors and the fact that it did bury Boston under a heavy layer of snow.

At the UN that date was bracketed in between two very important event. The one on Monday January 26th that was held as scheduled – right before the shut-down of the UN for Juno’s Tuesday the 27. The other event was supposed to be held on Tuesday the 27 Which was the Holocaust Memorial Day HMD, but was postponed for Wednesday the 28th – the day the UN gates were opened again.

We present here the two reports by Irith Jawetz who participated at the two events at the UN.


“Staying together – Dialogue in the Face of Extremism”

This event was the last one before the United Nations shut down because of the approaching of what was described as the “Blizzard of the Century” in New York City. When we left the building at 3 p.m. we were led out through the basement, since the main entrance and exit doors were already shut down. The UN expects to reopen again on Wednesday, January 28th. The Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, originally scheduled for Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 was postponed for Wednesday, January 28th due to the inclement weather.

It was a High-level Panel on “Staying Together – Dialogue in the Face of Violent Extremism” and took place on Monday 26 January 2015, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm at the Trusteeship Council, UN Headquarters

The event was co sponsored by The Permanent Missions of Sweden and Indonesia to the United Nations.
It was chaired and moderates by Ghida Fakhry who did an outstanding job. Ms. Fakhri is a Lebanese broadcast journalist who has been one of the primary broadcasters for the news Al Jazeera English since its launch, and is currently based at the channel’s main broadcast center in Doha, Qatar.

Opening Remarks were given by H.E. Ms. Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden who welcomes everybody and thanked us all for attending the event in spite of the weather. She started by quoting Mahatma Gandhi who said ” There is no way to Peace – Peace is the way” . Sweden has had its problems since it has taken in refugees from Iraq, and now Syria, but she believes that dialogue between ethnic groups and religious leaders is the right way to combat those problems. Sweden encourages dialogue between leaders of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders.

The panel included:

H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations;
H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;
H.E. Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO;
H.E. Mr. Iyad Amin Madani, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC);
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations (UNAoC);
Dr. Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, representative of the Indonesian civil society;
Paul Berman the New York essayist;

Closing Remarks were given by H.E. Mr. Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative, Indonesia

Mr. Jan Eliasson stressed that we have to stay cool and find the root causes to the problem of extremism. It is important to stop recruitment of new extremists, we have to isolate extremists and the job should be done by everybody who has some power, i.e. political leaders, religious leaders, parents, Grandparents, teachers, community leaders, whoever comes in touch with the public. It should be a wake up call.

Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, who told us that she was marching on that march in Paris, stressed the importance of educating your children and young adults about Cultural diversity and global citizenship. She stressed that the most influential people would be the religious leaders. Their roles are important.


H.R.H. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed the idea that violence and extremism are consequence of circumstances. Those people believe that their actions are justified because the circumstances created them. Torture and killing are wrong but necessary. Just like spying is wrong but necessary. What bothers him that there are no real protests in the Arab world against extremists.

Mr. Paul Berman introduced a new word: Islamism. By Islamism he does not mean Islam, or Islamists, but Islamism which is just like Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism. People who practice Islamism believe in conspiracy theory, the western world is against them, Zionism is against them, and he also stressed that those elements must be fought by all means.

The Consensus of the speakers was that recent acts of violent extremism around the world remind us that dialogue is more important than ever. We must stay together, united against those divisive forces which challenge the diversity and core values of our societies. A multifaceted and comprehensive approach is key. The counter-narrative to polarisation is inclusive participation.

This high-level event aims to give new impetus to the promotion of a culture of peace, dignity and respect for human rights, drawing on existing initiatives of the United Nations. Here, the UN Alliance of Civilizations and UNESCO’s “Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures” afford examples of intercultural confidence-building in practice. How can we together step up efforts to strengthen the voices of moderation? Can we, jointly, find new ways to co-operate in order to counter violent extremism whilst safeguarding a culture of dialogue?

The event was informative, and one can only hope that the ideas expressed will not stay only on paper and measures will be implemented.

—————————————————————————————


2015 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is marked every year on January 27th, the date on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945 by Soviet troops. This year’s observance, on the theme ‘Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors,’ coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end and the founding of the UN.

This year the event took place on January 28, 2015 at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York. It was originally set for Tuesday, January 27th, the correct date, but because of the snow storm on Monday on the East Coast of the United States it was postponed for Wednesday.

The Hall was crowded and the first rows were reserved for holocaust survivors.

Ther motto of the event was “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust survivors.”


Opening remarks were delivered by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He started his speech by greeting the new elected Israeli President H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin, and all the holocaust survivors present.

“Anti-Semitism remains a violent reality; Jews continue to be killed solely because they are Jews. Extremism and dehumanization are present across the world, exploited through social media and abetted by sensationalist press coverage. The targets are as diverse as humankind itself,” the Secretary-General said.

“In Europe and elsewhere, Muslims are under attack, the victims of bigotry at the hands of political opportunists and ultra-nationalists. Vulnerable populations everywhere bury their dead and live in fear of further violence.”

“I take heart from counter-demonstrations, rallies and interfaith dialogue. We must all remain on our guard. We must uphold human rights, democratic freedoms and our responsibility to protect people at risk. And we must respond to terrorism and provocation in ways that resolve – instead of multiply – the problem,” he underscored.

“As we remember what was lost in the past, and as we recognize the perils of the present, we know what we must do – and we know we must do it together,” said Mr. Ban .

H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin started his speech in English and continued in Hebrew. He explained that the Hebrew language is the language of his parents, his people, and it is befitting that this talk should be delivered in that language.

In his address, Reuven Rivlin recalled the “brutal,” “perverted” extermination of Jews during the Holocaust “in the most horrifying crime ever committed in the history of the human race.” The United Nations rose on the ruins of the Second World War, he said, stressing that the International Day was not just a gesture because the pledge ‘Never again’ was “the very essence of the UN,” and the principle and primary reason for its existence.

However, since the UN was founded, more nations and communities had been slaughtered. “We must ask ourselves honestly: is our struggle – the struggle of the General Assembly against genocide – effective enough?” he said. “Are we shedding too many tears and taking too little action?”

Mr. Rivlin noted that the Convention on Genocide was now 64 years-old but remained a merely “symbolic document” that had not realized its objectives. The international community had a duty to lay down the red lines defining genocide and to make clear that crossing those lines must mean intervention. Humanitarian and moral considerations had to take precedence over economic, political or other interests in the fight against genocide.


“Nations cannot be saved and must not be saved as an afterthought or from considerations of cost-benefit,” Mr. Rivlin said. “Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lessons of the Holocaust will never be learned.”

The General Assembly must act as a determined and unified international community or else risk leaving the ‘Never again’ oath hollow and defiled.

“We must remain silent no longer. We must rise up and take action,” he said.

In his remarks, General Assembly Vice-President Denis Antoine also underscored the importance of drawing lessons from the tragedy of the Holocaust and the need to “pass them on to the present and future generations,” particularly as the world continued to confront instances of violent intolerance and brutal prejudice.

A very remarkable speaker was Youth Advisor Ms. Charlotte Cohen. In September 2013 British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the establishment of a national holocaust Commission in order to ensure that Britain has a permanent and fitting memorial to the holocaust and educational resourced for generations to come. Ms. Cohen won an essay contest on the subject “Why is it so important that we remember the Holocaust and how can we make sure future generations never forget”. Charlotte came to the United Nations to speak on that important day and t stress the need to “never forget”.

Two emotional speeches came from two Holocaust survivors. The first was Mrs. Jona Laks who was nine years old and living with her family in Lodz, Poland, when Hitler invaded Poland. Together with her family she was forced to live under inhuman conditions in the Lodz Ghetto, and in 1944 was transferred to Auschwitz. She and her twin sister were subject to the experiments undertaken by SS Dr. Josef Mengele. She described the horrors she had to endure and there was not one dry eye in the audience. She managed to survive the Death March and ended up in Israel, the sole survivor of her family.

The second survivor was Soviet Army Veteran Mr. Boris Feldman who spoke in Russian. He was born in 1920 in Vinnitskaya Oblast, Ukraine, and was taken by the Nazis to the “Chernevetsloe” ghetto where he remained until March 1944 when the ghetto was liberated by the Soviet Army. Later he joined the Soviet Army and fought as an infantryman in Eastern Europe against the German Army. He was decorated with several military medals.

For the “musical” part of the ceremony we listened to Israeli Grammy Award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari who co-founded the Gedenk Movement. She explained that the word “Gedenk” means “Remember” in Yiddish. She helped create the non profit organization in 2006 to expand young people’s awareness about the holocaust and antisemitism and its negative consequences in today’s world.

Cantor Shimmy Miller from Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, New Jersey recited El Maleh Racahamim and Ani Ma’amin. He was accompanied by Mr. Daniel Gildar on the Keyboard.

A moving ceremony befitting its motto: “Liberty, Life and the legacy of the Holocaust survivors”.

————————————–

Irith Jawetz worked 1972-2010 – for 38 years – as part of the Austrian Government Foreign Service – with Austrian Holocaust survivors that restarted their lives in the United States.

###