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Posted on on February 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



Vietnam plans to build Hoi An as its first eco-city this year


Published  Tuesday, February 11, 2014 by Travel and Tour World.


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The Vietnam  central city of Hoi An will promote the use of bicycles this year as part of a plan to build the city into the first eco-city in Vietnam, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

The  Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee of Truong Van Bay told Vietnam News that the city has launched a series of programmes on environmental protection to be used as tourism attractions. Further, the bicycle has been selected as the favourite vehicle for tourists visiting destinations in the city, suburbs and beaches.



“We encourage local people to use more environmentally friendly vehicles, such as bicycles and battery-powered bicycles, and to walk as they carry out their daily activities in order to keep the city clean and healthy. The city has gradually limited the use of motorbikes in old quarters, prior to banning motorbikes in these areas,” Bay said, adding that motorbikes are only permitted for use at lunch time.



“Since 2002, the city has successfully operated a pedestrian street in the old quarter and hosted Nature Day for the past four years,” he says.  According to Nguyen Van Hien, head of the city’s natural resources and environment office, bicycles are now used by most women and children in the city. Most foreign tourists use bicycles while touring the city, beaches and villages during their visits to Hoi An city.



The People’s Committee plans to promote bicycle use among public agencies on Car Free Day in March before boosting their use among local residents.  ”Changing a habit of using motorbikes needs time. The city will target using 100,000 bicycles among local people,” Vice Chairman Bay said.  The ancient city has been the first city in Vietnam hosting a Car Free Day, in an effort to make the environment cleaner in the tourism hub.It has also launched an action programme to stop using plastic bags and the 3-R (reduce, reuse and recycle) programme.



Last year, this Unesco-recognised world heritage city introduced its solar power public lighting system along the city’s Hoai River Square.  Also, Hoi An has been chosen for the 2013 Townscape Award by the UN-Habitat Regional Office in Asia.


Posted on on November 12th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Philippines Negotiator Ties Massive Typhoon to Global Warming




12 November 2013




iplomats, negotiators and civil society representatives from around the world held their breath this afternoon at the United Nations Climate Talks in Warsaw, Poland, this afternoon as Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator for the Philippines, began to address the opening of the conference.


More than 10,000 people are feared dead in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the Philippines this weekend, causing apocalyptic devastation across a number of islands.


While scientists are careful not to connect any single weather event to climate change, it’s clear that global warming is loading the dice for devastating events like Typhoon Haiyan. Rising seas, warmer waters and a warmer and wetter atmosphere, all contribute to supercharge storms like Haiyan and Hurricane Sandy. Scientists have warned that extreme weather events will only increase in intensity and frequency if climate change is left unchecked.


Addressing the UN Climate Talks on behalf of the Philippines, Sano didn’t hesitate to connect Typhoon Haiyan to climate change and the fossil fuel industry’s role in fueling the crisis.


He began by thanking the global community, and especially young people, for the support and solidarity that they have shown the people of the Philippines.


“I thank the youth present here and the billions of young people around the world who stand steadfast behind my delegation and who are watching us shape their future,” said Sano. “I thank civil society, both who are working on the ground as we race against time in the hardest hit areas, and those who are here in Warsaw prodding us to have a sense of urgency and ambition.


“We are deeply moved by this manifestation of human solidarity,” Sano continued. “This outpouring of support proves to us that as a human race, we can unite; that as a species, we care.”


Sano spoke of the terrifying devastation that Typhoon Haiyan has wrecked upon the Philippines, before connecting the dots directly to the climate crisis.


“To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair,” he said. “I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce.”


“Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America,” Sano continued. “And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now. What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness.”


Sano said that he identified with the young people and activists around the world who are standing up to the fossil fuel industry, protesting in the streets and committing civil disobedience. He shared their frustration and appreciated their courageous action. The same sort of leadership was necessary here in Warsaw, he said.


“We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons are a way of life,” said Sano. “Because we refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan become a fact of life. We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life. We simply refuse to.”


Sano then went off the prepared script of his remarks that were released to the media to announce that he would be commencing a voluntary fast.


“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”


Meaningful action, he explained would involve real commitments around climate finance.


“We call on this COP to pursue work until the most meaningful outcome is in sight,” Sano said further. “Until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund. Until the promise of the establishment of a loss and damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation; until concrete pathways for reaching the committed 100 billion dollars have been made; until we see real ambition on stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations. We must put the money where our mouths are.”


“Let Poland, let Warsaw, be remembered as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness,” Sano concluded. “Can humanity rise to this occasion? Mr. President, I still believe we can.”


At the end of his speech, the entire room here at the negotiations rose to their feet in a standing ovation. As the applause continued for minute after minute, a chant started up up in the back of the room, “We stand with you! We stand with you!”


The Philippines, and Yeb Sano have become a voice for the billions of people around the world who are already feeling the impacts of climate change.and are worried about their and their children’s future. Let’s hope that not only the public, but our politicians, can find the courage to stand with him and all of those pushing for action here at the talks in Warsaw.




+4 # Fishmonkey11 2013-11-12 07:36

I Stand With You!





Posted on on March 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


We would like to invite those based in Washington DC to “Mekong Days” –  CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, IUCN, and the Goethe Institute have jointly organized during 22-27 March, 2013.
The week includes a number of panel discussions and talks with a focus on the recently released movie “Mekong” produced and directed by Douglas Varchol with funding support from CPWF, IUCN and Sida. To learn more about the film go to
Please see attached a flyer describing this exciting program of activities.
I would be really grateful if you could share this with your colleagues or those whom you think might be interested to attend.

“Mekong” examines the issues of hydropower development and its impact on Mekong citizens’ lives. Filmed in four countries, and produced in five languages, it includes footage of China’s Mekong [Lancang] dams, as well as on-site footage of the controversial Xayaburi dam in Laos.

The Mekong Region is a massive ecosystem that is the lifeline for more than 60 million people across six countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

For the people in the Lower Mekong Basin, it provides more fish to more people than any other river in the world. With an estimated commercial value exceeding US$2 billion per year, it is the world’s most valuable inland fishery. At the same time, more than 140 dams are currently planned, under construction or commissioned for different rivers in the basin. If constructed, this will radically alter the basin’s hydrology, its ecology and, consequently, the lives of millions who depend upon it.

How can two seemingly opposite demands be met – sustainable development of a region and the rising demands for energy and economic growth?

The purpose of this project is to open up the debate on hydropower development in the region through the use of innovative communication tools.

The film examines the issues of hydropower development and its impact on Mekong citizens’ lives. It features stories of Mekong citizens up and down the river, from fishers on the Tonle Sap, activists still fighting at the Pak Mun dam in Thailand, to a vice minister from Laos convinced he can build the region’s most “river-transparent” dam. Filmed in four countries, and four languages, it includes footage of China’s Mekong [Lancang] dams, as well as on-site footage of the controversial Xayaburi dam in Laos.

This independent film was produced and directed by Douglas Varchol and funded by CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, IUCN’s Mekong Water Dialogues, and Sida.

Michael Victor Communication Coordinator

CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food
Mobile International :  +94 773 950 713 (Sri Lanka)    M (Laos): +856-20-5552-6693
E :  S : michaelpenvictor
P.O. Box 2075, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Mekong Days March 22 – 26, 2013 in Washington DC:

Friday, March 22, 5:30 pm | Goethe-Institut, 812 7th St. NW

Opening ceremony for Mekong Days

Art works by Phan Thao Ngyuen (Vietnam), Lim Sokchanlina (Cambodia), Piyaporn Wongruang (Thailand). The US premiere of Mekong (director: Douglas Varchol) captures footage of China’s Mekong (Lancang) dams, as well as the controversial Xayaburi Dam in Laos. Followed by a reception hosted by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Devel- opment, and a screening of Mekong, the Mother (director: Peter Degen) Tickets: $7

Sunday, March 24, 2 – 5 pm | Goethe-Institut

artists Give a Voice to Nature

Sound installation by Phan Thao Ngyuen (Vietnam).
Southeast Asian Student Documentary Film Award presentation with films by Panida Sanatem, Maiphone Phommachan (Laos), Narong Srisopap (Thailand), Chum Sophea (Cambodia) and more.
Followed by a discussion of the role of the arts in the perception of social and environ- mental issues.
rSVP:  rsvp at

Monday, March 25, 2 – 3:30 pm | Woodrow Wilson center, 1300 Pennsylvania ave. NW, 5th floor

Balancing act on the Mekong: Building Linkages for More

Sustainable hydropower Development

Film clips and panel discussion hosted by Jennifer L. Turner, Woodrow Wilson Center Panelists: Douglas Varchol, film director, Mekong
Robert Mather, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Michael Victor, CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food

rSVP:  cef at

Monday, March 25, 6:30 pm | Goethe-Institut
Whose river, Whose choice? hydropower, Governance and environment in the Mekong

Screening of the film Mekong, followed by a discussion.
Participants: Asterio Takesy, Ambassador from Micronesia; Felix Leinemann EU Delega- tion; Erik Stokstad, AAAS; Robert Mather, IUCN; Michael Victor.
rSVP:  rsvp at

Tuesday, March 26, 6:30 pm | goethe-Institut

Up the Yangtze

Screening of this film from China conveying the human dimension of the wrenching changes facing the world at large. Tickets: $7

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Posted on on November 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

President Obama’s First Stop in Asia Is in Thailand
The first nation on the itinerary for President Obama’s Asia trip is Thailand — America’s oldest friend on the continent, with diplomatic ties stretching back nearly 180 years.

President Obama arrives in Rangoon and becomes the first sitting president ever to visit Burma.

Today’s Schedule
All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

12:35 AM: The President meets with Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairman and General Secretary of the National League of Democracy

1:05 AM: The President and Aung San Suu Kyi deliver remarks

1:35 AM: The President meets and greets with United States Embassy personnel

2:45 AM: The President delivers remarks at the University of Yangon

3:50 AM: The President departs Rangoon, Burma en route Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5:40 AM: The President arrives Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5:45 AM: The President is welcomed by Prime Minister Han Sen of Cambodia

6:05 AM: The President meets with Prime Minister Han Sen of Cambodia

6:35 AM: The President is welcomed to the US-ASEAN leaders meeting

6:40 AM: The President attends the ASEAN-U.S. leaders meeting

8:30 AM: The President arrives at Diamond Island Convention Center and is welcomed to the East Asia Summit Dinner

8:35 AM: The President participates in the East Asia Summit Dinner

1:00 PM: Dr. Jill Biden joins Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the Pentagon to announce the naming of the Navy’s newest submarine

2:30 PM: The First Lady hosts the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

5:00 PM: The Vice President and Dr. Biden host their annual Early Thanksgiving Dinner for Wounded Warriors and their families

9:00 PM: The President participates in the Trans-Pacific Partnership meeting

10:45 PM: The President meets with Prime Minister Noda of Japan on the margins of the East Asia Summit

11:45 PM: The President meets with Premier Wen Jiabao of China on the margins of the East Asia Summit


Posted on on October 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

From ReadersSupportedNews: combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam with twenty-two years of service as a Republican member of the U.S. House and Senate, I endorse President Barack Obama for a second term as our Commander-in-Chief.”

Pressler was born in Humboldt, South Dakota. He was raised on his family’s farm. He is a graduate of the University of South Dakota, Oxford University (attending St. Edmund Hall as a Rhodes Scholar), the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Harvard Law School. He became a lawyer, and then served in the Vietnam War in the United States Army from 1966 until 1968.

After serving for several years in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer he was elected as a REpublican to the House of Representatives from 1975 to 1979. He was a Republican Senator from South Dakota from 1979 to 1997. Pressler held such notable positions as the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Science and Transportation Committee, Foreign Relations Committee and European and Asian Subcommittees. He briefly sought the Republican Presidential Nomination in 1980.

Pressler authored and won overwhelming congressional and presidential approval of a sweeping reform of telecommunications legislations through the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Pressler negotiated the compromises that gained the support of diverse industry groups in telecom, broadcasting, and cable TV, as well as of the Bill Clinton White House, state utility commissions, and public morality advocates. Ironically, though the law was touted as a ‘rare legislative achievement in terms of bipartisan reform’, it led to Pressler’s defeat in his re-election bid for a fourth Senate term, losing to Tim Johnson, a Democrat, in 1996. Johnson argued that instead of promoting the economy of his home state of South Dakota, Pressler was promoting out-of-state business and high-tech industries and was in turn supported by them. Pressler was the only incumbent Republican senator to lose reelection that year.

Senator Pressler has remained active in the political arena. In 2000, he was a member of Republican Presidential Candidate George W. Bush’s Information Technology Steering Committee, and also served on the Bush Presidential Transition Team in 2001.

In 1998, Mr. Pressler toyed with the idea to run as a Republican for Mayor of Washington DC on basis of school vouchers to improve the city’s schools. Could eventually a former Conservative Republican, originally from a rural area in South Dakota, help revive the missing honest part of the  party – the former Liberal Republican wing?

Since, Pressler taught Telecommunications and Internet Policy at Baruch College, City University of New York. and was awarded a Senior Fulbright lectureship at the University of Bologna Italy for spring semester 2009. He has been a frequent visitor to Vietnam and was a lecturer at Dalat University Business School. Additionally, he currently serves on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center Advisory Council. He has worked on helping normalize the relations with Vietnam.

Former Senator Larry Pressler, Republican of South Dakota. (photo: Jim Luce)
Former Senator Larry Pressler, Republican of South Dakota. (photo: Jim Luce)

Why I, a Former GOP Senator, Will Vote for Obama

By Larry Pressler, Reader Supported News

09 October 12

s a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam with twenty-two years of service as a Republican member of the U.S. House and Senate, I endorse President Barack Obama for a second term as our Commander-in-Chief. Candidates publicly praise our service members, veterans and their families, but President Obama supports them in word and deed, anywhere and every time.

As a Vietnam vet, one of the reasons I support President Obama is because he has consistently shown he understands that our commitment to our servicemen and women may begin when they put on their uniform, but that it must never end.

This decision is not easy for any lifelong Republican. In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama, the first time I ever voted for a Democrat, because the Republican Party was drifting toward a dangerous path that put extreme party ideology above national interest. Mitt Romney heads a party remaining on that dangerous path, proving the emptiness of their praise as they abandon our service members, veterans and military families along the way.

What really set me off was Romney’s reference to 47% of Americans to be written off – including any veteran collecting disability like myself, as a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) veteran.

Behind closed doors with his donors, Romney made clear he’d write off half of America – including service members and veterans – because, as he said “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility for their lives.” But there’s no greater personal responsibility than to wear your country’s uniform and defend the rights we all enjoy as Americans. We don’t sow division between “us” versus “them.” The Commander-in-Chief sets the bar for all to follow and fight for the entire country. Mitt Romney fails that test. As a veteran I feel written off.

Just as revealing is what Romney actually says publicly. As a former Foreign Service Officer, I find it offensive that Romney, Congressman Paul Ryan and their Republican Party are politicizing the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans who lost their lives in Libya. Being Commander-in-Chief requires a resolve and steadiness that’s immune to politics and fear mongering. Mitt Romney fails that test.

And along with high-profile Republican surrogates, Romney and Ryan are pandering to election-year politics rather than focusing on pending cuts to military spending. Strategy should drive our military priorities, not party purity.

We are a nation at war – the longest war in our nation’s history – and we must remember the sacrifice that so many have given for the protection of our country and our values. That’s why it’s so surprising that Republican nominee Mitt Romney has given five speeches on foreign policy – and will be giving another one today – and has yet to outline any plan to end the war in Afghanistan or bring our troops home. That’s unacceptable for anyone running to be Commander-in-Chief.

President Obama ended one war, is ending another and meeting our national security needs with support of our military leaders. He’s laid out a clear plan that would reduce the deficit and prevent the mandatory military spending cuts that no one wants. But today’s Republican Party, including Ryan who voted for the deal that would trigger the cuts, is willing to bring our country’s defenses to the fiscal cliff – just so a multimillionaire doesn’t have to pay a single extra penny in taxes. And the real lack of leadership? Failing to own up to your role in racking up a record debt from two unpaid wars and two massive unpaid for tax cuts. Mitt Romney leads the party that fails this leadership test.

And as former member of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the then Commerce Committee, I came to know the federal budget in detail. I’m disappointed that just as our troops are returning home after a decade of war, Romney and Ryan might gut by up to 20 percent investments in the Department of Veterans Affairs – and even suggest privatizing the veterans’ health care. Again, they would short change our national security and the education, health care and employment benefits our veterans have earned and deserve just to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

Let’s be clear, Romney and Ryan would be disastrous for America’s service members, veterans and military families. Public praise rings hollow when you fail to mention an ongoing war in accepting your party’s nomination to be president, or veterans in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a so-called jobs plan or in a budget that should be a blue print of our nation’s values.

Meanwhile President Obama recognizes our sacred trust with those who serve starts when they take their oath and never ends. He’s enacted tax credits to spur businesses to hire unemployed veterans and wounded warriors. He implemented and improved the post-9/11 GI Bill, the largest investment in veterans education since the original GI Bill over sixty years ago. He’s proposing a Veterans Jobs Corps that would put returning service members to work as police officers, firefighters and first responders. As part of his achievable plan to keep moving our country forward, the President would use half the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to help pay down our debt and invest in nation building here at home, putting Americans back to work – including our veterans – fixing our roadways and runways, bridges and schools.

And something that hits close to home, President Obama also secured the largest increase in VA investments in decades so our veterans get the care and benefits they earned, like treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. As someone with service-related PTSD, I meet with younger veterans weekly to help them through the treatment and transition to a productive civilian life. It makes a difference for them knowing their President has their back.

That’s the difference in this election. In word and deed anywhere and every time, President Obama never forgets that standing by those who serve is the heart, soul and core value of this country. As a life-long Republican, I stand by him as he stands by all of us, putting national allegiance ahead of party affiliation. I endorse President Obama for reelection in 2012.



-5 # Barkingcarpet 2012-10-09 20:02

Perhaps the best thing that could happen to America, short of awakening now and choosing to create and leave a livable planet, would be for Mittens to be elected, women’s rights be gutted, and Nature be further assaulted for $ profits.

Perhaps than Folks would wake up and put an end to the nonsense and our corrupt system of profiteering, endless wars, obfuscation of real facts or actual fairness/justice? The Legitimate Rape of our banking and agricultural systems is leaving us environmentally and economically bankrupt. Nuclear power and weapons are causing much misery and illness.

Perhaps if it gets bad enough, people will change?

The time is NOW to choose love, and to demand change for a sane future. The alternative is a race to the bottom and allowing thugs to govern.

+15 # George Kennedy 2012-10-09 20:23

Senator Pressley, Thank you for your service both in and out of uniform. Thank you for your integrity and the courage to express conviction without partisanship and blind ideological fealty.
+13 # doneasley 2012-10-09 21:07

Senator Pressler is right. The CHICKENHAWKS talk a good game while sending other people’s children off to war, but the proof is in the pudding: When veteran benefits are on the line, they QUIETLY vote against them every damn time. And what does Mitt Romney know about military duty? How to avoid it, that’s what! Even the grsndson’s of the Queen of England have to perform some military duty, but Mitt’s sons? Oh, they’ve probably watched “The Longest Day”, “Pearl Harbor”, or “Midway” on TV. But that’s as close as they’ll get to any military action – true chips off the old block.
+6 # Douglas Jack 2012-10-09 21:07

Thank you Larry for this call for government & leadership responsibility. However we must go further when our NATO governments are through CIA, CSIS & other supposed ‘intelligence’ agencies; pushing arms, munitions & assassination budgets to dissidents in order to destabilize the governments of 80 countries worldwide. NATO governments do not deliberate publicly or formally declare war anymore & all wars fought in the past 60 years have been illegal wars of aggression against foreign shores. Worse is the media-military-industrial-complex making a killing off of war & death as our NATO nation’s # 1 business. Wars are for fearful, inarticulate cowards afraid to stand up with their perceived opponents in equal-time recorded, published & distributed dialogues for the court of public opinion & a world of resource to respond to. ‘Dialectics’ (‘both-sided’) rights to ‘debate’ (French ‘de’ = ‘undo’ + ‘bate’ = ‘the fight’) are denied by cowards as are human rights to safety & security wherever we live. The cowards are not only ‘chicken-hawk’ politicians, but as well citizen-consumers who finance these wars & the universal soldiers who fight them.  
+12 # KrazyFromPolitics 2012-10-09 21:22

A former Republican congressman and senator voting for Obama for the second time. I long for the days when party opposites barked at each other, but essentially got down to the business of governing, however imperfect. I wonder what the probability of this story making it into the mainstream corporate news is.
+9 # tahoevalleylines 2012-10-09 21:53

It is apparent even by casual observation Mr. Romney is a living breathing example of the “Peter Principle”. Comments about adding unsolicited large capital ships/submarines seem to be for show rather than result of any sort of study or rational strategy.

If Romney is thinking about going toe-to-toe for resource hegemony with China, another gaping hole then must be his lack of knowledge about needed domestic infrastructure and transport policy innovations allowing for less call on imported resources…

Instead of Naval Tonnage, why does Romney not verbalize water resource engineering to recharge aquifers as described in the massive NAWAPA projects?

Facing Peak Oil and upward oil price trajectory, transport shortcomings in the United States stem from overzealous removal of railway connections and branch feeder lines. These rail closures were hurriedly effected as the US Freeway system came into service through the Nixon and Reagan administrations , Alaskan oil helping justify the process of railway line extinction.

Please Mssrs. Obama & Romney, be sure to include generic railway savvy people in your circle as you formulate ways and means of assuring ability to step back from Muslim oil and being hostage to the World oil market price/supply squeeze.

+10 # ghostperson 2012-10-09 22:07

I simply do not understand how Romney has the audacity to speak to war issues and propose actions that will adversely affect those who fight for their country when he preferred to a vacation in France while his peers were being killed in Viet Nam–a war he protested for.

Romney was on a religious mission? Is that what one calls draft dodging if one’s cult is big enough? What was 5-deferrment Cheney’s excuse?

We are in a perpetual state of war because neocon’s, too good to fight to their country, see lowering taxes while bleeding off money for wars in order to run up huge budget deficits as a way to to downsize a government they hate.

We always have money to throw at greedy wastrels and for foreign wars but never enought to spend on those who pay the freight and those maimed in the service of their country. It is difficult to accept that half the population is swayed by policies that have ruined us and will continue to do so while vulture capitalists destroy education, offshore jobs, conceal tax returns, hide profits in the Cayman Islands and let our vaunted infrastructure crumble.

Since when did economic treason and tyranny become the American way simply because greedy swine wrap themselves in a flag they are too good to fight for?

+6 # JSRaleigh 2012-10-10 04:10


Since when did economic treason and tyranny become the American way simply because greedy swine wrap themselves in a flag they are too good to fight for?

Seems to have started around 1981, but really got rolling in 2001.

+8 # Jorge 2012-10-09 22:21

Mr. Pressler, thank you for expressing your thoughts about the veterans and these endless wars. Romney is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. (perhaps the Cayman Islands instead).
Now we need you to make these same statements all over the Corporate-Controlled Media and show up at campaigns for Progressives (have some real impact, do something).
+10 # Majikman 2012-10-09 22:37

Now there’s a relic from the past… a Republican with integrity.
+10 # MindDoc 2012-10-09 23:09

Hard to disagree with the Senator! Well stated and brave:


Let’s be clear, Romney and Ryan would be disastrous for America’s service members, veterans and military families.

…Not to mention the non-military, non-millionaire citizenry who would also be edged into non-existence via the promised cuts, de-funding, and deregulation central to the Ryan-Romeny-Rove-Rand (4R) party , should it win the auction and acquire the U.S.

We could wake up with Mitt the Flip ‘severely’ in charge, playing President – learning RL on the job. (Repealing Obama Care on Day 1?) Maybe he’d remind England that they don’t know how to organize an Olympics, hold a press conference from a “clean coal” mine, praise farmers & Monsanto corn and then call his friend Netanyahu to say the deal is on: “I like firing at people”. Back to Poland to remind Lech Walesa that unions are the root of all evil, then home to Caymans to feed the dog and rotate the cars & cash. Then a UN appearance to explain things.

Can we interrupt this nightmare and throw some cold water on the face of those who have not paid attention long enough to notice the nonstop lies & self-contradictions of the Mittster? Hypocrite-in-chief. Positions by etch-a-sketch, uninformed by any notions of public service to THE PEOPLE. He knows the profit$ of war- but will cut support for veterans. “Severely”

+9 # X Dane 2012-10-10 00:02

How refreshing to see a republican, who values another person for his integrity and caring…..and not for the party he belongs to.
What totally disgusted me about Bush, was how he always used the military as a backdrop, when he was making speeches to the nation, and while mouthing that he appreciated their service…he was cutting funding, for their care when they returned from war damaged in body and soul.

When they could no longer serve, they were dispensable, and an inconvenience.

Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden are working hard to help Military families. Obama is doing much to improve their conditions. Frankly I think he would like to end the Afghan nightmare now, but you KNOW that the republicans would scream bloody murder, if he did.

I hate war, but IF you wage war, you MUST care for the men and women you send to fight it

+4 # seeuingoa 2012-10-10 00:34

OK, Mister Pressler.

There is no difference between the two
candidates as regards

Kill list/drones
Tar Sand pipeline
Indefinite detention
Arctic drilling
violation of 1st Amendment
licking the asses of big corporations

Make this election an election about
moral and ethical issues and vote
Jill Stein/Green Party and look
your grandchildren in the eyes.

+9 # Ralph Averill 2012-10-10 01:50

Good job, Congressman/Senator/Soldier. One hopes John Boehner and Mitch McConnell read copies of this statement.
+6 # cordleycoit 2012-10-10 02:03

Romney commitied suppku with me blaming me for the failure of the banking system. Not the Russian Mafia that sank the Bank of New York not the stupid greed is good push by the press barons who were bankrupting their industry. I the individual is guilty of allowing the contradiction of capitalism to occur. This while Bain was dabbling in laundering billions for the cartels an on going trait.

Why instead of running for the highest office in the land is Romney not running from the Justice Department? I will say he and his accomplices have certainly not returned the money they stole.Our vets watched as Romney’s party lied and have killed off thousands of Americans so Iraq can have a civil war and the Afghan can kill off as many as they can creep up on.Senator help end the war.

+7 # corallady 2012-10-10 02:50

With more clear-thinking Republicans like Larry Pressler, who puts the country above an ideology that can only hurt the country, the Republicans might be able to get back to being a respectable party instead of a group of increasingly right-wing extremists acting like petulant schoolchildren who only want their way regardless of how it would hurt the rest of us. It’s time for them to say “To hell with Grover Norquist and his oath never to raise taxes; our oath is to the Constitution and our duty is to ‘form a more perfect union’ and ‘promote the general welfare.'” We need some adults in Congress who will look with clear eyes at both sides of the equation that will bring us out of the mess created by Bush and Company–it will take spending control but also more revenue. Both sides have to give. Compromise is not a dirty word; it is the way things get done in the political world. President Obama has accomplished an incredible amount while being blocked constantly by the ideologues of the Right; we are moving in the correct direction; think what we could do with some cooperation and a genuine desire to “promote the general welfare” of all of us.
+8 # colpow 2012-10-10 02:52

Yesssss!!!! Well said, Senator Pressler.
+6 # Gamagaeru 2012-10-10 03:00

Well said! Obama understands and is aiming to help the people. Romney is not bad, but his world is the top 10%.
+8 # HooverBush 2012-10-10 03:19

I’ll be dog-gone!!!

There really is ONE intelligent Republican!!!!

+8 # dick 2012-10-10 03:28

Courageous. Honorable. Truly patriotic. Thank you so very much.
+6 # JSRaleigh 2012-10-10 04:09

What really angers me the most about the whole “47%” controversy is how quickly Democrats accepted the lie that those who receive government pensions, Veterans benefits or Social Security don’t pay taxes. Instead of confronting the liar and challenging the lie, they just started making excuses.


Posted on on May 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

South China Sea: Maritime Lanes and Territorial Claims.

An area known by three different names — South China Sea, East Sea and West Philippine Sea — the waters surrounding the Spratly and Paracel Islands are some of the most contested in the world owing largely to the energy reserves believed to lie beneath them.

China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Brunei all have claims to this area.

While China has called the area a “core interest” of sovereignty, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton also explained that, “The United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation open access to Asia’s maritime domain.”

Competing claims over territory and energy have become a source of international tension and threaten peaceful passage through this waterway.

For the parties involved, there is little alternative but to arrive at a negotiate settlement, yet therein lies the challenge — China prefers bilateral negotiations while the other economies of Southeast Asia prefer multilateral discussions through ASEAN.

Will resolution be found and how will this conflict unfold in light of the U.S. “strategic pivot” to the region?

Please join:

Patrick Cronin, Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS),

Huang Jing, Professor and Director of Center on Asia and Globalization (CAG) at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), and

Hung Nguyen, Associate Professor of Government and International Politics at the George Mason University Center for Southeast Asian Studies, for a discussion on the tense territorial disputes and maritime conflicts in the South China Sea.

The program will be moderated by Amanda Drury, co-anchor of CNBC’s Street Signs.

4 June 2012
6:30pm – 9:00pm

725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York, NY

This program is sponsored by HBO.

Can’t make it to this program? Tune into at 6:30 pm ET for a free live video webcast. Online viewers are encouraged to submit questions during the webcast.


Posted on on June 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

This article was posted by us first nearly a year ago – July 27, 2010. I totally forgot about it and it came to my attention because of our website’s “stats” – somebody bothered reading it last night. Curious I checked for it and decided to re-post it as I think it deserves attention – specially as I posted the delightful article by Dr. Mai Yamani who though daughter of famous Former Saudi Oil Minister Sheik Yamani counts among her vast lists of knowledge of languages also Hebrew and Persian. Her father, Sheik Yamani himself, is also sort of a hero of ours. He is the person  that said that the Oil Age Will not End Because of Lack of Oil – Like the Stone Age Did Not End Because of Lack of Stones – how true that great people come in genetic successions. Let us remember this father/daughter team while going this week to the VIENNA ENERGY FORUM.


As we are in the habit of reading everything that was put in print or posted on the web, we are hit from time to time also with delicious stories of real lives – not just your pedestrian oil blowouts.

This Saturday I saw first the story of the Chinese woman that became Jewish to find out that whatever she does – she will always be Chinese – viewed as such and honestly proud of it just as well.

Then, fell in my hands the July 22-29, 2010, City Week of OUR TOWN of Manhattan that included a note about a Saturday afternoon “Identity Crisis” at The Midtown International Theatre Festival that seemed to me to be in the same genre of a real life story that involves Asians living in the United States and ending up, in spite of their efforts to fit in, being recognized rather for what they really are and getting to the heights of their achievements only after having made peace with themselves.

Dear reader, I hope you will not be surprised to find out that the propulsion that sent me off that afternoon to the Strelsin Theater was a thought to see if I can throw some light on the best potential for achieving an energy & climate bill for President Obama – if he were only to stand up and represent his real inner self. Will he decide to do this after November 2010, when it will become clear that there is no way for a future that mimics the present of the majority that surrounds him?


Asian Belle

VENUE:  Dorothy Strelsin Theatre

Location:        322 West 36th Street, South side of West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Directions:   Closest subway, A, C, E to 34th Street. Walk north to West 36th Street, then west to the theatre.

OPENED – July 15, 2010

Remaining Performance: Sunday – August 1, 2010, at 4:00 pm

CLOSES –  August 1, 2010

5 PERFORMANCES: Jul 15 at 6pm, Jul 17 at 3pm, Jul 23 at 8pm, Jul 24 at 5pm, Aug 1 at 4pm

TICKETS:  $12.00 – $18.00

Order tickets online


Christine Renee Miller

Written and Performed by Michelle Glick

This show is part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival. Here’s the official blurb: The daughter of a Vietnamese war bride spends her youth aspiring to be a Southern Belle….a funny, touching and true solo show.


Before the show started I happened to chat with another delightful lady, Annie Guetti – a mother to a daughter about 10 years old. Annie has a  show in the Short Subjects Series of this festival – this one about motherhood – “ONCE UPON A MAMA” – at the nearby Jewel Box Theater – that same evening at 8:30 pm – and was carrying with her a suitcase – I guess with the wardrobe.  About her –

From Annie Guetti I learned that she and Michelle Glick participated in the same class that Matt Hoverman is giving for Playwriting and acting – he is a prominent coach for New York City Theatre in that he develops solo programs that encourage actor/playwrights in bringing out what is best in themselves and eventually birthing good theater.

Annie thought very highly of Michelle and said while Michelle came to the class thinking about writing on all sort of issues, it was this wonderful coach that led her in bringing out what is really part of herself – because that is her truth. Now, if dear reader, you are still with me – right there I got convinced that Matt Hoverman should get an invitation – in public or in secret – to the White House private quarters!


Michelle Glick is  a Vietnam war product – American serviceman and Vietnamese mother. She grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and was friendly there with the local belles and black guys – she thought of herself as part of the environment until she was offered in a school play the role of an Oriental Chauffeur. But she did not want to wear yellow clothes she wanted the white clothes like the other girls. She was lucky to have a feisty mother who trooped to school to tell that much to the astonished teacher – she also wanted to make it clear that her younger son’s name was Kal – a honored name for five generations in her family, and not Carl as the school was calling him. Michelle got the role of a maid.

The mother was fully adjusted to America – eventually, years later she became independent after her children grew up and she moved to California.

Michelle Glick is a terrific actress capable to switch around three or four accents. She is tall gaunt like a model and from her Vietnamese genes she got terific Cheek bones – moving around her long hands, standing on her long legs, she at times invoked the impression of a praying mantid completely adjusted to get what she wants – even when the issue is just to get her belongings monogramed – because this is the way Southern Bells have to have it. At this stage she was the perfect Asian Belle in her own image.

When she eventually moves to New York at 25, and got her first roommate right there at the baggage claim at Greyhounds, she liked to hang around Chinatown – because there she saw people with black hair like hers. There one Chinese old store owner told her that instead of copying Chinese she should go and visit Vietnam and get in contact with her own roots.

Michelle convinced her Vietnamese uncle Harry, who after release from Communist jail came to live with them in Alabama, to go back and show her around.  She saw how people can be happy with simple things in life – like holding a cup of tea with both their hands and smile to her – even there was no good verbal communication.

She sat orientally with both her legs crossed on top of the chair and said she felt her Asian background and pronounced Aloha – Hawaii – here I come. She seemed to get her way in any environment she chose to do so!

To, Michelle Glick said that she wants an international career spending part of the year in Asia, working “I am thinking about paving the way doing that.” In the meantime she intends to explore producing and writing.

Now, did I make myself clear about Obama?



By Debbie Burton, we saw this in the Jewish Sentinel, but it comes from an blog.

February 22, 2010…

Because it is clear from my appearance that I am ethnically Chinese, total strangers will tell me all about their various Asian acquaintances. I think these people are trying to prove that they do not harbor racial prejudices. Frankly, I consider these experiences to be mildly annoying. But I can’t change my face, so I’ve accepted that this kind of experience is just something I will always have to deal with.

Debbie Burton at Chinese New Year

Debbie Burton is wearing her late maternal grandmother’s Chinese jacket on a visit to her cousins for Chinese New Year, January 2009. She is looking at a book of photos of the school in rural China her family established in her grandmother’s memory. She sent the photo with the note: “I feel that my Chinese family’s values of social justice and education mean that those same Jewish values particularly resonate for me.”

I also stand out in a synagogue because I do not “look Jewish”. My husband however is half Ashkenazi and thus does look more typically Jewish. So people have often taken one look at the two of us and assumed that we were intermarried. For the first 22 years of our marriage, they were right. But since I finally converted to Judaism, it is no longer the case, and I even have a real Jewish ketubah to prove that we now have a legitimate “Jewish marriage.”

But I’m still Chinese, so I still don’t look Jewish even though I am now. And people still sometimes react strangely because of my appearance, although I should point out that the strange or rude reactions are not typical, just memorable. In fact, if many Jews think it is surprising to see someone Chinese at synagogue, they are too polite to mention it. A few people have even assumed that I am a Jew by birth.

A student at a university Hillel Kabbalat Shabbat service told me very earnestly that he had read about and was excited to meet a Kaifeng Jew–meaning me. (A small Jewish community has existed in Kaifeng, China for hundreds of years.) I was sorry to disappoint him and explained that most Chinese Jews that he would meet in this country would be converts. These days I would add that they might also be adoptees, such as the two Chinese girls from the Orthodox congregation that meets in the same building as my congregation.

Before I converted, when people treated me differently because I was Chinese, I didn’t like it, but felt like maybe I “deserved” it because by marrying me my husband had violated the strong Jewish prohibition on intermarriage. I felt guilty that for some people, meeting me would only reinforce the idea that an Asian person in a synagogue was likely to be a non-Jewish spouse. I felt that it would make it that much harder for Jews who were Asian, but were born or raised their whole lives as Jews, like the adopted girls mentioned above, the three Korean adoptees in my congregation, or even my own children who were converted when they were young and are half-Chinese.

But just as my formal conversion signified my own acceptance of who I am religiously and spiritually, I’m coming to see that maybe it is not such a bad thing that my Chinese appearance means that I can’t so easily leave behind the fact that I was previously intermarried. A recent interaction that stemmed from my being Chinese even ended up being a positive experience.

My minyan meets in a Reform synagogue that is the simultaneous home for congregations from each of the three major movements (which are unaffiliated with each other, unlike minyanim at a university Hillel). I am a member of the lay-led egalitarian Conservative congregation that meets there, but one Shabbat a man from the Orthodox minyan started to talk to me as we left the building at the same time. He asked me about my ethnic background. When I replied “Chinese,” he went on to ask “And you’re Jewish?” Although I told him no, which was the technically correct answer, I added, “But I’ve been going to shul for 24 years.” I didn’t tell him that I was also studying with a rabbi for the purpose of conversion.

Some weeks later, this same man accosted me in the coat room after services and asked me why I had not converted if I had been attending synagogue for so long. I was embarrassed to be asked such a personal question with other people from both congregations around. I told him simply that the main reason was that I was afraid that my parents would take my conversion as a rejection of them. I assumed his questions stemmed from mere curiosity.

Then many months later, I saw him again and told him that I had formally converted to Judaism since we had last spoken. He seemed genuinely delighted by my news, but showed real sensitivity in telling me carefully that he was happy for me because it was something that I had clearly chosen for myself and that I was happy about it. Then he mentioned that his wife is Japanese. I thought to myself that of course she probably converted before they got married. But I had scarcely formulated the above thought when he totally surprised me by adding that his wife is not Jewish.

This news gave me a very different perspective on his questions. It sounded like his own wife was not interested in Judaism, at least for herself, and I think he wanted to understand what it was that caused me, another Asian non-Jew, to feel so drawn to Judaism. We didn’t talk for very long, but I think that he felt better to learn about another intermarriage in which the Jewish spouse was active in and committed to Judaism. And I was glad to learn about someone who self-identifies as Orthodox who is intermarried. I know from my own experience that intermarriage does not have to reflect a failure in a person’s Jewish identity, but it is such a prevalent assumption and it causes many Jews to automatically react negatively to intermarried couples.

So my looking Chinese had enabled that connection to be made because that man would never have approached me if I looked European. The experience also reminded me I don’t have to be ashamed of having been intermarried. Being Chinese makes my ethnicity more visible while obscuring my religious identity, which oddly enough pushes me to accept myself for both who I am now and who I was.


Posted on on December 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Japan Times on line, Monday, Dec. 27, 2010


Fear of studying abroad

Data disclosed by the education ministry on Wednesday confirms that fewer and fewer Japanese students are studying abroad. After the number of students studying overseas hit a peak of 82,945 in 2004, it declined for four straight years. In 2008 it dropped a staggering 11 percent from 2007 to 66,833. Of these, 29,264 were in the United States (down 13.9 percent from 2007), 16,733 in China (down 10.2 percent) and 4,465 in Britain (down 21.7 percent).

In this age of globalization, it is imperative that Japanese develop abilities to compete and cooperate with people from other countries through the experience of living and studying abroad. The government, educators and enterprises must take necessary steps to encourage and help students to study abroad.

While the number of Japanese students studying abroad has been falling, the number of foreign students studying in Japan as of May 1 stood at a record 141,774 — a rise of 6.8 percent from a year before, according to the Japan Student Services Organization, an independent administrative corporation. Chinese made up the biggest group with 86,173 (up 9 percent), followed by South Koreans with 20,202 (up 3 percent), Taiwanese with 5,297 (down 0.7 percent), Vietnamese with 3,597 (up 12.4 percent) and Malaysians with 2,465 (up 2.9 percent).

A likely reason for the fall in the number of students studying abroad is a fear among students that if they study abroad, they may lose a chance to find employment when they come back to Japan from their studies. This is because many enterprises stop accepting applications before students reach the fourth year of college. Students have to start visiting enterprises to find job opportunities quite early.

Enterprises can rectify the situation by changing their recruitment practice. Universities could lighten the burden of returning students by setting up a semester specially timed for their return. The government should financially help students who want to study overseas. Both the government and private sectors should realize that a decline in the number of students studying abroad could have a devastating effect on the future of Japan.


Posted on on September 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Overcoming rural poverty depends on a healthy environment, where local people can find sustainable solutions to their challenges. The Equator Initiative was launched in 2002 by UNDP’s Jim McNeil in order to help the search for sustainability by safeguarding biodiversity resources.

Every two years, the Equator Initiative partnership awards prizes to the 25 outstanding community efforts each of which receives $5,000 with five selected for special recognition and an additional $15,000 each. The recipients come from three groups:


The announcement was “After an extensive process of evaluation, the Equator Initiative’s Technical Advisory Committee has selected an exceptional subset of 25 winning initiatives, from a total pool of nearly 300 nominations from 66 different countries.”


Asia & the Pacific:

Latin America & the Caribbean:

Obviously, we have no problem with the choices, nor with the fact that the large countries of Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico got two prizes each, nor that the two Mega-States got next to nothing – China nothing and India one – but we do wonder how it is that the Independent Pacific Island States, and the Independent Caribbean Island States, coincidentally both groups, got absolutely nothing. Does this mean that the rebelious SIDS and AOSIS, as groups, are in UN disfavor? They happen to be in the Tropics and quite a few are biodiversity very rich!


The judges were:
Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan
Robert Edward “ted” Turner III, The father of it all and benefactor of The UN Foundation
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Third World Tebtebba Foundation
M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the MSSRF Resarch Foundation
Steven J.McCormick, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Dr. Gro Brubdtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and mother of it all
Professor Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate.
The two specially honored NGO individuals:
Philippe Cousteau, third generation to the famous family,
Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of IUCN.
The three specially honored communities:
Mavis Hatlane for Makuleke Community of Pafuri Camp, South Africa,
Maria Alejandra Velasco for Consejo Regional Tsimane’ Mosetene of Pilon Lajas, Bolivia,
Diep Thi My Hanh for Bambu Village of Phu An, Viet Nam.
To increase our “puzzlement” – here the announcement how the UN General Assembly intends to treat this year the Small Island States in their deliberations – this was the only time we found a notion for their special problems:
Saturday, 25 September:
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Round table 2 — Enhancing international support for small island developing States.


Posted on on September 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

9/11 of 2001 caused nearly 3,000 death and plunged America into three wars, but we have a proposition that 9/15 – the day two years ago – when the House of Lehman Brothers collapsed – will prove being a much greater turning point in global history.

Indeed, 9/11 ended the US euphoria with the end of the Cold War against the now defunct Soviet Empire, but even though no Great Depression resulted from the Lehman Brothers collapse the suggestion is that the event pointed out that it is not military power, but economic power, that eventually gets the upper hand. This observation results from the simple truth that though the US is still the only military superpower, it is being constraint nevertheless by the lack of financing capacity of the military. If nothing else, the retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan comes because of the large expense of these wars. The US must make defense cuts if it is to avoid other financial cuts that might undercut much more seriously its preferred status among nations.

The US economy was once based on manufacturing and industry but now it was left to consumerism – and if nothing else – the US does not get anywhere close to the consumers numbers of a China, an India, and perhaps if that of the Islamic World at large.

With the large hole in its foreign trade, caused in large part by the outflow of money for imports of oil, the US is now aware of the power of China’s monetary reserves that have been called to help pay for the US financial excesses – be those from imports or wars.

What is worse, the world has learned to do well without a US order-making role, and the formerly budding South-South connections have bloomed into a real China-India-Brazil  trading pattern that might even lead to the displacement of the US dollar in this new international trade.

A Chinese hegemony in the Pacific is just a question of time, even though it is possible still to believe that for the time being there is a US-Chinese symbiotic relationship. But with the growth of further emerging economic powers – at first Brazil and India – then South Africa, Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, Turkey and others, eventually the US might find its role changing from the one Super-power to one of two, three, four, or five large powers.

The truth seems that the bloated figure of a Bin Laden has come and mostly gone. The idea that an extremist Caliphate is in the making is being undone now by the evidence that countries like Indonesia, Turkey, now even Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim population of India, the bloc of Central Asia countries, and in many ways even the changing Iraq and Afghanistan, are much less inclined to line up behind centralized Islamic militancy, even if propelled by nationalistic feelings, may point to the fact that much of the post-9/11 activities have been misplaced, and could have been handled much better had the US taken the path of disengaging itself from the dependence on the addiction to oil.

Clearly 9/15 was not the date of the start of the financial reduction of the stature of the US, but if a single date is needed by history to point at as the moment the changes in the global structure became evident, it will be 9/15 2008 rather then 9/11 2011.

In context of what we said above, I would like to point out an April 2010 published volume of which we heard from Dr. Amelia Santos-Paulino at a presentation at the UNU in New York. The book is titled – “Southern Engines of Global Growth.”

The book is a result of a UN University – WIDER research project and was published by the Oxford University Press and edited by Amelia U. Santos-Paulino and Guanghua Wan, and it deals with the spectacular performance of the Asian Giants – China and India and the further contributions of Brazil and South Africa under a CIBS hat.

In her presentation, and in the Q&A part, we also heard of other countries lined up to join this new emerging South, and the book and presentation will be subject of a further posting of ours. In this posting, all what I was trying to say is that these changes in the US and Global Economy, with all due respect to the people that died on 9/11 – their families and the whole grieving world – it is these changes in the economy following the emergence of China as the second Superpower, and further large economic powers from among the emerging South, this was rather the defining moment of real global change.


Regarding the spread of the economic crisis – We learned that one of the UAE’s leading businessmen, Khalaf Al Habtoor, has said he doesn’t think the collapse of US financial services giant Lehman Brothers marked a turning point in the Gulf’s financial fortunes. Instead Al Habtoor, founder and chairman of the UAE-based conglomerate Al Habtoor Group, said the region was let down by poor management in the wake of years of unprecedented growth.

“I don’t think Lehman Brothers affected the Gulf,” he told Arabian Business in an interview. “Unfortunately several organisations in the GCC and the Arab world were not well structured – we were fragile already,” he continued.

We find these comments not to be in any contradiction to what we said above – they suggest rather that the Gulf State, and others,  effectively committed the same transgressions of going over-board, as the US and Lehman Brothers.


Posted on on August 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


New buildings tower above boats on the Saigon vier in Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnamese city says its economy grew by 8% last year.
AFP/Getty Images
New buildings tower above boats on the Saigon vier in Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnamese city says its economy grew by 8% last year.

Vietnam’s economy lures some who left in the 1970s.

By Kathy Chu, USA TODAY, August 18, 2010.
HO CHI MINH CITY {who many call again Saigon}, Vietnam — At age 9, Johnny Tri Nguyen fled by fishing boat from this war-torn land of re-education camps and rationed food. He and his family were captured twice — and jailed — before finally escaping and establishing a life for themselves in California.

Despite the harrowing experience, he holds little bitterness, just hope, for his homeland. After 17 years in the USA, he returned to Vietnam to make a movie based loosely on his grandfather’s life.

“Much has changed, and the whole reason we left in the first place is no longer there,” says Nguyen, a Vietnamese actor and filmmaker known for his role in The Rebel, along with his stunt work in movies such as Spider-Man. “I find it very comfortable to live here now.”

When the Vietnam War ended 35 years ago, millions of Vietnamese fled a communist country whose growth had been stymied by war, oppression and uncertainty, seeking a better life for themselves and their children in the USA, Canada and Europe.

Today, some of those who left years ago now look at Vietnam as a land of opportunity. At least 500,000 Viet Kieu, as they are known, return every year to this nation of 86 million, some to stay.

“Vietnam’s economic reforms and growth as well as the recent economic downturn in America may be part of the reason” why a growing number of Viet Kieu are returning to the country, says Nguyen Manh Hung, a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “There is a sentimental reason, too: the feeling of being at home in a familiar culture with a familiar way of life,” he says.

The return here of some Vietnamese-Americans comes as the Communist Party that runs Vietnam continues to loosen state controls on the economy in an attempt to boost the standard of living here.

The fall of South Vietnam to the communist North in 1975 left the country bound by a totalitarian regime that stripped many people of their land and businesses. The legacy of the war and the party’s clampdown on free markets was rampant poverty. Change came in the mid-1980s, when Vietnam instituted reforms called doi moi that opened up the economy to foreign investment and introduced some forms of capitalism.

Today, Vietnam’s economy is the one of the fastest-growing in Asia. It may eventually claim the mantle of the fastest-growing emerging economy, based on its growth between 2007 and 2050, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the financial advisory firm.

‘The best of both worlds’

Some of those returning are people who risked their lives to leave.

Dang Tuyet Mai, who once was married to a former South Vietnamese prime minister, Nguyen Cao Ky, escaped by plane two days before the war ended. After three decades in the USA, Dang ventured back to her homeland to open a noodle shop.

“It’s a mixed feeling being here,” admits Dang, whose former husband was a prominent figure in South Vietnam’s fight against communism. “But when you are Vietnamese, you always think of going back to the country where you were born.”

During lunch time at her restaurant, Pho Ta, in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, the tables teem with Vietnamese businessmen and women. Steaming bowls of noodles are placed before them along with heaping mounds of fresh vegetables to dunk into the anise-scented broth.

In a country where a bowl of pho can be found as easily as a hamburger in the States, Dang says hers stands out because of the homemade noodles, low fat content and a broth simmered over a low flame for 12 hours. “Even the Prime Minister of Vietnam (Nguyen Tan Dung) has eaten at my store,” says Dang, whose beauty first captivated the country in the 1960s when she was an Air Vietnam stewardess. Even today, some customers are drawn to Pho Ta to catch a glimpse of her. Dang is hoping the next celebrity to grace the restaurant will be Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “I really admire her, and I want to shake her hand,” Dang says.

Clinton came to Hanoi in July for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations but didn’t end up stopping by Ho Chi Minh City. Another local establishment, Pho 2000, gained followers and a new slogan, “Pho for the President,” after then-president Bill Clinton sampled a bowl there 10 years ago.

Like many new returnees, Dang hasn’t committed to living full-time in Vietnam but spends a quarter of the year in Southern California with her daughter and granddaughters.

Her ability to live in two countries — and to juggle dual cultures — isn’t suitable for the travel weary or the weak of heart. But for Viet Kieus such as Trung Dung, the founder of electronic payments company Mobivi, this freedom is a blessing.

“I have the best of both worlds,” says Dung, 43, who spends up to 80% of his time in Vietnam and the rest in California, where his son and sisters live.

The main draw of Vietnam, he says, is that it feels like home. But entrepreneurs like him also are captivated by the business opportunities stemming from a third-world country transitioning into one of the region’s most promising economic powerhouses. Dung is betting that as the country booms, its largely cash society will transition to electronic payments, benefiting companies such as Mobivi.

“I was very fortunate in witnessing the Internet revolution (in the USA), and it was an incredible time to be in the Silicon Valley,” says Dung, who became a billionaire in his 30s after selling his software company, OnDisplay, to Austin-based Vignette Corp. “The same thing is happening in Vietnam. We’re at the very early phase of creating things that will be here for a long time.”

‘The culture is so rich’

As Viet Kieu flock to Vietnam, the government is encouraging them to start up businesses and buy real estate to power the economy. It’s also stepping up efforts to attract foreign companies. U.S. companies including Intel and General Electric have already established a presence here, and others are exploring the possibility, attracted partly by Vietnam’s highly educated, skilled and young population (a quarter of residents are under 15).

Thuy Vo Dang, a visiting scholar at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center, believes the success of the government’s efforts to woo Viet Kieu will depend partly on its ability “to overcome the tension that still exists between the overseas community and the country.”

“It’s one thing to welcome visitors,” she notes, but the government needs to address corruption, which is widespread and entrenched in Vietnam.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index of 2009, based on surveys of international businesspeople, considers Vietnam one of the world’s most corrupt countries, with a ranking of 120 out of 180 countries.

Property, construction and government contracts are reportedly riddled with bribery, according to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. The regulatory environment is not transparent and Vietnam’s legal system is not independent and hindered by corruption, it said.

Oppression and lack of religious and political freedoms are also causing concern among some of the Viet Kieu. Some people interviewed said they felt constrained about discussing injustices for fear of offending the government and inviting actions against them or their businesses. The U.S. State Department has criticized Vietnam for its jailing of political opponents and especially Catholic priests and bloggers who speak out in favor of the kinds of basic freedoms the Viet Kieu have enjoyed in the West. The Viet Kieu, because they have citizenship elsewhere, generally enjoy more freedoms than Vietnam’s citizens.

“The progress made on the economic front has not transferred in any way to human rights,” says Phil Robertson, deputy director for Human Rights Watch‘s Asia division. “There are still significant restrictions on freedom of association and independent trade unions, and the government uses very broad national security legislation to go after dissidents.”

As a growing number of Viet Kieu invest in Vietnam, it’s creating jobs and fueling the country’s economy. But the investment may also be seen as “condoning the government’s lack of freedoms for the country,” Vo Dang warns. “Blind investment in the homeland could, in fact, create more problems than it solves.”

Yet the lure of their homeland is so powerful that for some Viet Kieu, it trumps memories, beliefs and politics.

Nguyen, the actor, remembers his family being so poor after the Vietnam War that he had to make his own toys from clay he dug up from nearby ponds.

But what struck Nguyen when he first returned to Vietnam was not the vestiges of war lingering in every city’s memorials to the departed, but the connection he felt to the country and its beautiful scenery. “This culture is so rich in cinematic” promise, he says.

On a sweltering July day, amid the ancient rock formations of Ninh Binh province in northern Vietnam, Nguyen’s brother-in-law, filmmaker Jimmy Nghiem Pham, seeks to capitalize on this cinematic promise.

Between scenes of a new movie he’s helping produce —Khat Vong Thang Long, a film that commemorates the 1,000-year anniversary of the nation’s capital moving to Hanoi and is being made in cooperation with the government — Pham describes how Vietnam has become a “land of opportunity” for independent filmmakers.

“If you don’t have a lot of money, Vietnam is the best place to make a movie,” says Pham, whose budgets have ranged from $15,000 to $1.6 million.

A graduate of the film school at Cal State Long Beach, Pham lived in Southern California — home to one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the USA — for more than a decade before returning to Vietnam. He feels strong ties to both countries, but says matter-of-factly that “if my movie career is better, then I will stay here.”

For Henry Hoang Nguyen, his ties to Vietnam are becoming more compelling than those to the USA.

In the spring of 2001, Hoang Nguyen, 37, landed a New York-based consulting job for McKinsey & Associates that was to begin in the fall. But the start date was delayed by six months because of the economic hangover from the Internet bust. This gave him time to explore opportunities in Vietnam’s emerging telecom sector.

Nine years and a few business opportunities later, Hoang Nguyen is now managing general partner of IDG Ventures, a $100 million venture capital fund focused on technology, media and telecom investments in Vietnam. He has married a Vietnamese woman who has no intention of leaving the country. And the former “all-American” kid is proudly rediscovering his extended family and his heritage.

Being a generation removed from the war has given him an unvarnished appreciation for Vietnam — free from painful memories still in the minds of previous generations. “I don’t carry any burdens or feelings of negativity,” says Hoang Nguyen, whose parents left Saigon, the name locals still use to refer to Ho Chi Minh City, long before he was old enough to remember life there. “I just feel a real strong attachment and patriotism for Vietnam.”

Such feelings are also felt by Viet Kieu David Thai, an entrepreneur who once dreamed about being a basketball player or snowboarder.

Thai grew up in Seattle but came back to the country he left as a toddler to study Vietnamese civilization. Business opportunities conspired to keep him here, including the launch of a Starbucks-like chain, Highlands Coffee, and of American icon Hard Rock Cafe in Vietnam.

Coming from Seattle, “I missed good coffee,” he says. But the overarching business goal, adds Thai, is “to build a national brand, to make Vietnam known for investment and business.”

Yet for every tale of business success in Vietnam, there’s another tale of failure in a market laden with government restrictions. And for those who choose to live and work in this country, there are compromises to be made.

Nguyen Qui Duc, who moved to Hanoi and started Tadioto bar and art gallery, doesn’t enjoy the same creative freedoms in Vietnam — a country where state censorship is widespread — that he had as a journalist and as an artist in the United States. Duc, who once hosted a radio show on Asian affairs in the United States, says he has learned to work within the system in Vietnam.

“I can’t change the system, but I work with artists to express themselves,” he says. “Freedom of expression is getting better in Vietnam.”

Despite the challenges, Nguyen Qui Duc says he’s glad he moved back because it has allowed him to rediscover the simplicity of life.

“I’m 50 years old, and I’m riding a motorcycle,” he says. “In the States, I was tired of living a life where I never talked to my neighbors. I prefer life here where you can walk down the street and talk to people.”


Posted on on August 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

While Author Says Ban Is 3rd “Giant of Asia,” Ban Denies Making Commitment.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 12 — Two days after author Tom Plate repeatedly said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would be the subject of the third book in his “Giants of Asia” series, Ban’s spokesman on Thursday told Inner City Press Ban has not made any commitment to Plate or anyone else. Video here, from Minute 15:33.

Plate’s comments were made at a book party for the first in the series, about Singapore’s founder Lee Kuan Yew. Plate said that the second would be about Mahathir of Malaysia and the third would be about “someone who is in the room, who is Secretary General, whose name I will not mention.”

Also during his opening presentation, Plate said that “Ban Ki-moon confirms that Singapore’s candidate [for UN Secretary General in 2006] withdrew, opening the field even more” for Ban.

While Plate is or was a journalist, strangely requests were made just before the book party that no Press be present. It was too late, invitations had been made.

The entire event was witnessed, hence the follow up question Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky after Thursday’s backtracking. From the UN’s transcript of its August 12 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: yesterday, I’d asked you about this Giants of Asia series and the Secretary-General being the third subject of it. You said, “I’ll look into it.” Have you? And is he going to do it? And how much time will it take? And what’s the benefit to the UN organization?

Spokesperson: What I can tell you is that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. [Tom] Plate, or indeed to anyone else, with regard to a book.

Question: Mr. Plate said on Monday that he had, and I’ve talked to some other senior UN officials who have said he is the third one in the series, so I guess is there some… has there been some change?

Spokesperson: Well, I can tell you that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. Plate or indeed to anyone else.

Question: Okay, when was the last time he saw Mr. Plate?

Spokesperson: What’s that got to do with it?

Question: Because I, well…

Spokesperson: That’s got nothing to do with it, Matthew. I can tell you that the Secretary-General has made no commitment to Mr. Plate or indeed anyone else. Okay.

When is a commitment a commitment?


UN’s Ban To Be 3rd “Giant of Asia” by Tom Plate, Lee Kuan Yew’s Confidante on Sri Lankan “Ethnic Cleansing.”

By Matthew Russell Lee –

UNITED NATIONS, ICP, August 11, 2010  — Starting with a 200 page book of “Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew,” the get-things-done founder of modern Singapore, American author Tom Plate is engaged in a Giants of Asia trilogy. The next in the series is Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia.

The third Giant of Asia, Plate said at a VIP book party on August 10, will be UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Plate told an audience including the Permanent Representatives to the UN of Vietnam, Costa Rica, The Netherlands and of course Singapore, which hosted the event, that in his experience Asian leaders are more concerned about community rights than individual or human rights.

He asked rhetorically, do you want to solve the problem of drug gangs in Los Angeles? Give Lee Kuan Yew $10 billion, and look away for 18 months. Come back and it will be solved.

Some in the audience wondered what might happen during those 18 months, from the leader who instituted caning for the mis disposal or even chewing of gum. A professor in the audience asked about the balance between development and human rights.

Plate responded that while to the “Western” mind, publicly punishing the wrong person in order to send a message to others might violate due process, to Lee Kuan Yew and presumably the other Giants of Asia, the calculus is not so simple.

If the mis-punishment helps the community at large, it might on balance be a good thing, Plate said.

Inner City Press, invited without conditions to the event but then asked to not mention at least one of the attendees, asked Plate if he would consider interviewing some of the some openly authoritarian strong men of Asia, including Than Shwe of Myanmar and Kim Jong-Il of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Plate replied that if asked to go to Pyongyang and given access to Kim Jong-Il, he would be on the next plane. He said that he doubted Than Shwe, at 76, could endure the type of multi-day interview process which he engaged in with Lee Kuan Yew.

One wonders, then, how a sitting Secretary General, embroiled in a management scandal triggered most recently by the damning End of Assignment Report of outgoing lead UN investigator Inga Britt Ahlenius, will have time to sit for this Giants of Asia profile.

Without attributing the concerns, there seem to have been a belated request not to publicize the identity of Plate’s third Giant of Asia until after Mr. Ban’s second term is more secure.

But, one cynical in the audience asked, is the problem the publicity or the vanity book project itself?

UN’s Ban Depicted in Sri Lanka: Giant of Asia?

Inner City Press first heard of Plate’s book when a section about Sri Lanka was circulated, largely by the Tamil diaspora. Lee Kwan Yew is quoted on page 55 saying the –

example is Sri Lanka. It is not a happy, united country. Yes, they [the majority Sinhalese government] have beaten the Tamil Tigers this time, but the Sinhalese who are less capable are putting down a minority of Jaffna Tamils who are more capable. They were squeezing them out. That’s why the Tamils rebelled. But I do not see them ethnic cleansing all two million plus Jaffna Tamils. The Jaffna Tamils have been in Sri Lanka as long as the Sinhalese…[referring to Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa] ‘I’ve read his speeches and I knew he was a Sinhalese extremist. I cannot change his mind.’”

Plate was asked about this section of the book, and said that it was difficult to keep it in. Afterward, Inner City Press asked Plate to explain: how had wanted the section to come out? Of all that he said Tuesday night, this was the only time that Plate asked to go off the record. We will respect that, just as we’ll respect the request to omit the presence of at least one individual and entourage.

Singapore’s Mission to the UN, its Permanent Representative Vanu Gopala Menon, his Deputy, wife and staff are to be commended for hosting such an eclectic crowd, and serving afterward such good food, including the Indian paratha break renamed roti — and tinged with coconut — when it arrived in Lee Kuan Yew’s giant laboratory in one of the smallest nation states.

There was Tamil advocates among the attendees, including the son of the plaintiff in a recent free speech case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Some wondered at the irony of Ban Ki-moon, who long delayed naming, and still has not begun, a panel about accountability for civilian deaths in Sri Lanka in 2009, choosing as his conversational biographer the writer who coaxed the above quoted analysis of ethnic cleansing and Sinhalese extremism in Sri Lanka, to the level of the president.

We will have more on this and on the rest of Plate’s illuminating talk, including his and Lee Kuan Yew’s views of the UN and the ways in which its Secretary General are elected and, at times, re-elected. The interplay of Ban’s drive for re-election and his participation at Plate’s third “Giant of Asia” will also be explored.

* * *

At UN, Ban’s Travails Trigger Candidacy Tales, De Mistura, Zeid, Kubis, Kerim or even Bachelet or Bill Clinton, Game On

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 — Alternate candidates to Ban Ki-moon are emerging before the next UN Secretary General term begins on January 1, 2012. Tellingly, even people given UN posts by Ban Ki-moon are among reported candidates.

Ban named Staffan de Mistura as his representative in Afghanistan, after de Mistura hired Ban’s son in law Siddarth Chatterjee as his chief of staff with the UN in Iraq. (Ban’s son in law has since been hired by Jan Mattsson as a high official of the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen).

But, people recruited to work for the UN in Afghanistan tell Inner City Press, de Mistura harbors the dream of swooping in as a dark horse candidate to replace Ban in late 2011.

There is “blood in the water,” these sources say, particularly following the damning End of Assignment report of Inga Britt Ahlenius. Ban’s “melt down” then retraction on August 9 about job promises made in the course of replacing Ahlenius won’t help either.

The problem for de Mistura and other non-Asian contenders is that the S-G position is said to belong to a regional group for at least 10 years.

When the U.S. vetoed Egypt’s Boutros Boutros Ghali in 2005, the post next went to another African. So it would be with Ban, the assumption goes, with China demanding equal treatment for Asia.

But, as Inner City Press reported some time ago, even Team Ban has a theory that the U.S. might trade its de facto ownership of the top World Bank post to China in exchange for the right to replace Ban with a S-G of its choice.

De Mistura, having served as U.S. ground cover and fig leaf in Iraq and then Afghanistan, feels he would have U.S. support. A long shot candidate mentioned is Bill Clinton. Others point to Jose Ramos Horta of Timor Leste, in the Asian group like another candidate, Zeid Bin Ra’ad of Jordan.

UN’s Ban and de Mistura: one bleary eyed with lack of sleep, the other looking long

Lula of Brazil would appear to have lost U.S. support, given his country’s vote against the recent sanctions on Iran. Shashi Tharoor appears to have shot himself in the foot with Cricket-gate.

More savvy, some say, is Michelle Bachelet. She is understood to have not leaped at the offer of the top UN Women post. Does this mean that, like with the UNICEF post given to Tony Lake, she is shooting higher?
From those heights, at UNDP, Helen Clark is often mentioned.

There are other plotters. Some point to the alliance between Ms. Ahlenius and Alicia Barcena, who left the top UN Management post when Ban came in and went to ECLAC in Santiago, Chile. She was in New York and dined with Ahlenius shortly before Ahlenius leaked her memo. Also involved, sources say, was Barcena’s Management predecessor Christopher Burnham.

Next in line, they argue, are the Eastern European states. From 2006, there is Vaira Vike-Freiberga. Jan Kubis is mentioned (Ban gave him a temporary post during the violence in Kyrgyzstan), along with former General Assembly president Srgjan Kerim, to whom Ban gave a Special Envoy on Climate Change UN post. Do you see a pattern here?

There are candidates galore, and there is blood in the water,” as one source puts it. Let the games begin.

This all comes, as Inner City Press first reported, against the backdrop of ad hoc meetings to “revitalize the General Assembly” which are discussing requiring Ban Ki-moon to come before the GA to seek his second term, and not only the Security Council.

Specifically, under the heading “Selection of the Secretary General,” the draft “takes note of the views expressed at the Ad Hoc Working Group at the 64th session and bearing in mind the provisions of Article 97 of the Charter, emphasizes the need for the process of selection of the Secretary General to be inclusive of all Member States and to be made more transparent.. including through presentation of candidates for the position of the Secretary General in an informal plenary of the General Assembly.”

Interestingly, the marked up draft of this pending paragraph reads as follows:

10. Affirms its commitment to continuing its consideration of the revitalization of the General Assembly’s role in the selection and appointment of the Secretary General, including through (encouraging (Algeria / NAM: delete and add ‘the’) Russian Federation: retain) presentation of candidates for the position of Secretary General in an informal plenary of the General Assembly before the Security Council considers the matter (Russian Federation); Russian Federation: bracket entire para.”

10 Alt. Also encourages formal presentation of candidatures for the position of the Secretary General in a manner than allows sufficient time for interaction with member states, and requests candidates to present their views to all Member States of the General Assembly (Belgium / EU, US & Russia) (Algeria / NAM supports Islamic Republic of Iran proposal of retaining as OP 10 bis).”

In the Security Council, placating or giving patronage to the five Permanent Members would be enough to gain the second term. But if the GA and regional grouping get involved, Ban’s snubs like that of Africa for the deputy post in the UN Development Program, and the devaluation of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, could come back to haunt Ban, along with his more recent appointment of Alvaro Uribe to his Gaza flotilla panel, over the objections of Venezuela which wil head the Group of 77 and China.

* * *

At UN, As Ban Denies Deals with Israel and for OIOS Posts, Doubts Raised About Both, What was US Told?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10 — Just as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated on August 9 that he made no “agreement behind the scenes” that Israeli Defense Forces will not be interviewed by his Panel of Inquiry, he now maintains that no commitment of posts in the Office of Internal Oversight Services was made to gain support for his replacement candidate to head OIOS, Carman Lapoint-Young.

But questions arose on August 10 about discrepancies between the transcript of Ban’s August 9 remarks and the UN’s subsequent denial. Ban said

he was one of the finalists, the South African whom you are talking about. If he [had been] willing to take the job, then I was okay [for him] to fill that post. There are certain cases when someone was applying for a certain post, and where she or he was not successful for that post, and because of the excellent quality of the candidate – we really wanted to keep certain candidates in our system – we offered a lower rank.”

But shortly after he said this — even the transcript is inaccurate — Ban’s Office said

The Secretary-General wants to make it absolutely clear that the recruitment process for the Director of the Investigations Division will start only after the new Under-Secretary-General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services has taken up her post. This selection will be conducted strictly in accordance with the established rules and procedures. The assertion that a South African was offered the job is completely unfounded.”

Inner City Press on August 10 asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky had Ban had meant by “we offered a lower rank.” Nesirky resplied that Ban “was confused by what the question was,” and claimed that the comment was a “general statement of principle not related to OIOS.” Video here, from Minute 31:26.

It is not a general statement of principle to say ““he was one of the finalists, the South African.. we offered a lower rank.” It is a statement about a particular individual being made an offer.

Likewise, Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu insisted on August 10 that despite Ban’s August 9 denials, Ban has made a “discrete” agreement that the panel would not interview IDF personnel. Ban had said he made no “agreement behind the scenes.”

At the end of his August 9 press conference, Ban urged journalists to focus on the “big issues” and not personnel (or “personal”) disputes. But if an answer about offering OIOS post(s) in order to gain support for a candidate for OIOS does not have credibility, how does an answer about a “discrete” agreement about the mandate of the UN Gaza flotilla panel?

UN’s Ban and Barak, discrete agreement not shown

A Security Council diplomat on August 10 approached Inner City Press with another connection between the August 9 OIOS questions and Ban’s panels on Gaza and Sri Lanka. If Ban was so rattled and pushed by a single journalist — even the “overgrown schoolboy” –imagine, the diplomat mused, what happens between Ban and Israel, or Sri Lanka.

As for the outgrown schoolboy, he points out: wasn’t it a schoolboy who said “the Emperor has no clothes”?  Indeed…

Footnote: further to US Ambassador Susan Rice’s statement that the UN’s Gaza flotilla panel is “not a substitute” for national proceedings, Inner City Press is that during the Security Council consultations on the press statement by which Council welcomed Ban’s panel, the U.S. opposed linking the panel to the Council’s own May 31 – April 1 President Statement calling for an investigation.

So what did Ban tell Susan Rice and the US about the panel and its scope? Or about post promises made to get Ms. Lapoint confirmed as head of OIOS?

* * *

At UN, Ban “Melts Down, Admits” Dealing An OIOS Post to a South African, Calls Ethics Questions Small, 2d Term in Play

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9, updated — “I always do the right thing,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday, faced with long pending questions about mis-management and undermining the independence of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services.

But Ban appeared to admit violating a founding principle of OIOS, that the Secretary General not intrude and give out top OIOS jobs on a political basis.

He was asked repeatedly to confirm or deny that he promised the second level OIOS post to a South African, to gain support for his appointment of a Canadian, Ms. Lapointe Young, to replace outgoing Inga Britt Ahlenius. (Inner City Press was the first to report this deal, here.)

At first Ban suggested these questions be dealt with in a separate session. Then he portrayed them as “small” questions. Many reporters were unclear if they were being directed to not get into “personal” or “personnel” questions.

The latter seems difficult, since Ban ultimately said he had personally taken the personnel decision to give the second OIOS post, even before the ostensibly independent new director comes in, to a South African candidate.

Many correspondents were frustrated at how the press conference was run, with no questions taken on Sudan — which is threatening to throw the UN out, while starving the residents of the Kalma Camp — or the Rwanda election or the Ban administrations flip-flip on Kashmir.

But even those most focused on UN management and Ms. Ahlenius’ damning End of Assignment Report were dissatisfied by Ban’s answer that any questioning of his administration’s ethics is unfair. There are a range of questions, including about Ban’s most senior advisers. These, they say, will be coming out as a second term for Ban is considered.

UN’s Ban pre melt down, post deals not shown

Ban was asked about his Gaza flotilla panel — he said no side agreement was made with Israel not to interview its soldiers — but not about his stalled and even most constrained panel on Sri Lanka war crimes.

He was asked about appointing Alvaro Uribe to the Gaza panel, despite Venezuela’s recent complaints. Ban said he has known Uribe as Secretary General for a long time, and that Uribe has his “full confidence.” What will Venezuela, the next head of the Group of 77 and China, say?

As one snarky correspondent said after what he called Ban’s “melt down,” this politically is the time when alternate candidates to become Secretary General in 2012 will begin to appear, even before the upcoming General Debate in mid September. Watch this site.

Footnote: even on the ostensible topic of Ban’s first press conference since the Ahlenius memo, the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, lack of candor became apparent. When, after his loss of power in Australia, Kevin Rudd flew to New York and met with Ban, Inner City Press attended the photo op, and noted that Ban’s climate advisor Janos Pasztor was in attendance, and that the meeting lasted a full 50 minutes.

Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson if the meeting involved the offering of a UN position of any kind. It was just a courtesy call, Inner City Press was repeatedly told — even after Rudd, back in Australia, bragged through his spokesman about the offer of a post.

At the end of Ban’s press conference, Inner City Press asked Pasztor if in the meeting with Rudd, the supposed courtesy call, this post was discussed. Yes, Pasztor said. Some courtesy call. The same snarky reporter laughed at the inclusion of US Ambassador Susan Rice on the panel, calling it a craven attempt to nail down US support for a second term as Secretary General. We’ll see.

Update of 12:41 pm: after publication of the above, UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply sent this:

Subject: UN Spokesperson’s clarification regarding the Office of Internal Oversight Services
Date: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 12:34 PM

The Secretary-General wants to make it absolutely clear that the recruitment process for the Director of the Investigations Division will start only after the new Under-Secretary-General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services has taken up her post. This selection will be conducted strictly in accordance with the established rules and procedures. The assertion that a South African was offered the job is completely unfounded.

If you say so.” Compare to video, here. And, there are two D-2 posts in OIOS…


Posted on on June 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune was down in the Gulf again this week. He said that if we all saw what he saw — pelicans struggling to fly under the weight of globs of oil, dolphins swimming through oil slicks — we’d be storming Washington D.C. calling for leadership and action.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to do — we’re launching a bold new campaign to move our nation Beyond Oil.

Watching the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history unfold has been infuriating — it’s clear that there is no quick fix to clean up this mess. We need to make sure this type of disaster never happens again.

Are you fed up? Sickened by what you’re seeing in the Gulf? This is the time to join together and help break our nation free from Big Oil’s stranglehold.

The Sierra Club will be holding rallies and events, running ads, and engaging people all across the country to generate a movement to move Beyond Oil. We have never needed President Obama’s visionary leadership more than we do right now — it’s time to stop letting the oil industry call the shots, and to start embracing clean energy, he said.

But nay, this is not the attitude of everyone, not even from among those most afflicted by the disaster.

We just saw on CNN the lady President of Lafourche Parish of Louisiana defending the drilling for oil because 60% of the people there are employed by the oil industry and 60 years there was no major problem she said.

The Nation must understand that we need to continue drilling she said. If you put on a hold on drilling the rigs may move to West Africa and never come back here. This will only cause more foreign oil that will be coming here.

That also echoes what I heard the other night from a US Department of State official. State is actively out after a list of over ten countries that are being encouraged to look for oil and start develop their resources. This is not a matter of foreign aid – but of security he said, though I wondered if we speak the same language – if we both understand the same thing when uttering security.

The countries mentioned are: Papua New Guinea, Timor L’Este, Uganda, Suriname, Guiana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Vietnam.

I remarked that except for Vietnam all of theses countries are countries in conflict and thought to myself that an influx of oil money will surely re-inflame civil strife and government suppression. That is what you get for having oil!

This seems the sequel to our posting –

(Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre” of gluttonous Breughelland, explains the Louisiana suffering and Washington’s long standing lack of care. Amazing indeed!)


Posted on on March 23rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The SEE Forum is an Asia-Pacific academic, scientific and technological network that brings forward the dialogue on global issues of common concern.

The overall goal of the SEE Forum is to promote “New Energy Initiatives” and to seek academic, scientific and technological cooperation that will contribute to the global climate and energy security issues.

In this context, the Joint International Conference on “Innovations for Renewable Energy: How Science can help” (IRE) that combines “Innovations for Environmental Actions” Symposium and “7th SEE Forum” Meeting will be held at Hanoi University of Science (HUS), Vietnam during 20th – 23rd September 2010.

This Joint International Conference will bring a sound effect towards the entire framework of the SEE Forum (

Please send your abstract as an extended abstract containing about 2,000 characters. For further obligatory details see web pages:

Important dates

15th June 2010: Deadline for submission of abstract

30th June 2010:   Acceptance of abstract

31st July 2010:   Deadline for submission of full papers

15th August 2010: Early Bird Registration

20th -23rd September 2010: IRE 2010 Conference

International Advisory Board

Prof. Nguyen Hoang Luong, HUS, VNU Hanoi, Vietnam

Prof. Susumu Yoshikawa, Kyoto University, Japan

Prof. Bundit Fungtammasan, JGSEE, KMUTT, Thailand

Prof. Takeshi Yao, Kyoto University, Japan

Prof. H. P. Garg, BLS Group of Institutions, India

Prof. Sudharto P. Hadi, Diponegoro University, Indonesia

Prof. Luu Duc Hai, HUS, VNU Hanoi, Vietnam

Please find in the attachment our first circular call for papers.

N. Agya Utama, PhD

Programme Coordinator

Japan Science and Technology (JST)

Graduate School Energy Science

Kyoto University

Yoshida-honmachi, Sakyo-ku

Kyoto 606-8501


o. +81-75-753-4750

m. +81-80-6103-5071




Posted on on February 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


That was the title of a lunch event at The Korea Society Forum on Wedneday, January 27, 2010, and the speaker was Mr. Marcus Noland, Deputy Director at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC, and  Senior Fellow at the East-West Institute.He has held academic positions at Yale, Johns Hopkins, USC, Tokyo U, Saitama U, The U. of Ghana, and the Korea Development Institute. He was also a senior economist at the Council of Economic Advisers to the President of the USA.

The event was chaired by Mr. Evans Revere, President and CEO of the Korea Society. Both of them also old hands of the US Department of State – former Ambassadors with deep knowledge of Korea.

The paper that was presented was co-authored by Mr. Noland with Stephan Haggard with whom he also co-authored a book titled:  “Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform.” Other books he wrote are “Pacific Basin Developing Countries: Prospects for the Future and Korea after Kim Jong-il,” and he edited “Economic Integration of the Korean Peninsula.” His book “Avoiding the Apocalypse: the future of the Two Koreas,” won the Ohira Memorial prize.

The reason for having this meeting was the North Korea’s recent currency reform of November 30, 2009, that literally threw North Korea back to Stalinistic Days of unbelievable economy these days of the 21st century.

North Korea also declared a ban on the use of foreign currencies on top of having declared useless their own National currency account. The net result was a clear blow o the market – so there is literally no market – thus no real economy – only a barter system.

History: In the last 15-20 years there was a bottom up marketization of the North Korean economy. It started with households and local government offices. It somehow evolved in the 1990s into a highly distorted market economy and the State was not comfortable with this because of the private origin of this up-swell – it was outside the State Control. There was also some intrusion of foreign companies – such as an Egyptian Telecoms that provided for individuals and businesses a cellphone network. The recent currency reform is simply the outcome – a clamp down on private initiative – and as there are no civil society institutions there is also no way to channel the peoples unhappiness. What we have now said Noland – is a revival of the Stalinist economy of the 1950s.

There have been conventional currency reforms in many countries – Turkey, Romania, Ghana … usually you cut off three zeros from the currency and you get it exchanged – but not in North Korea. Here, on November 30, 2009, North Korea announced a reform to replace all currency in circulation with new bills and coins. You had to declare all what you have and you could only exchange a small part of what you had – so the rest became useless paper. It was thus a confiscatory measure. Businesses operated in cash – so this destroyed the financial basis of the economy that operated outside the government controlled system. Call it the return to State socialism for those that tried to make a living for themselves. The Chinese never entered this North Korean world – they just do not operate in this sort of environment anymore.

The inflation was spiralling out of control before this sort of reform, now people did not even know how to price their products – it did not make sense to obtain this new currency – so how do you run a market under these conditions?

Things even sound worse when you realize that most North Koreans are government employees. – People join the government system so they can participate in the corruption cycle. If you ask in North Korea someone -Have you ever been detained? Most likely the answer will be yes. Even in this case – the currency exchange law – it was several days before it happened and you felt there was a dollarization of the system. Many knew it is coming and did buy dollars for their soon to be devalued money.

Some information became available when mid January a North Korean defected from the Embassy in Ethiopia.

Look at the difference between North Korea and Vietnam. Both were hit by withdrawal of Soviet assistance in the 1980s. While Vietnam changed and took off – North Korea stagnated and rolled back.

China started its reforms in the 1970s – Vietnam in the 1980s – both started from a high agriculture society. They had parades of improvement and everybody participated and took advantage of the changes. THey did freeze State Planning and people improved. Now North Korea did the opposite – they froze the market and demonetized the economy and the society. There is no lending – there is no banking – nothing. NORTH KOREA IS A FAILED STATE! What about the nukes? {as we shall see this was only the last question and came from a Japanese Government official.}

Before November 30, 2009, if you had some drive – you did push yourself up, or you left for China. What now? If there is no market you cannot sell even if you make something.

It amounts to a militarized workers party regime. Being a conscript in the lower ranks of the army is no big deal – but then the further down the ladder you go in North Korea – the more sensible the people are! The closer you are to Pyongyang – the more ideological and worse people get.

Interesting – the word nuclear was not uttered by the speaker or by people asking questions – this until the last question that came from a Japanese Consulate person. Mr. Noland pointed out that he was already hoping, against his expectations, that nobody will touch upon this. Then he stressed that development assistance is important – but you must make sure that like food assistance, it goes for good purpose to the right people. Such efforts are fungible and might produce no results if you are not careful.


At the end of the Forum, I stayed around to discuss issues with some of the people present – it was a roomful – maybe 40 people. My cklear question was about reunification of the Koreas and I got quite a few skeptical answers. It is obvious they thought that a united Korea will be nuclear and the Japanese official just had no interest in this. Others just did not trust the North Korean leadership of being ready to give up the reins for an unsafe future – that is as if today their future is safe.

What about the real huge internal market that would open up by reunification? Why not do it in such a way that some leadership position is left in the hands of the present leaders of the North, in the hope that an Angela Merkel type will emerge from among them also? It will be no big thing to award penssions and guarantee the condition of those that will have to give up power? No tribunals please – just future well behavior can be the link. Part of this generation will be non-productive, but the young people from the North will show talents that can help all of Korea.


Posted on on January 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


U.S. Secretary of State Clinton urges China to probe Google case.
U.S. Secretary of State calls for consequences and condemnation of those who carry out cyberattacks.

Robert Burns, Washington — The Associated Press, Published on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010 in Globe and Mail of Canada.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday urged China to investigate cyber intrusions that led Google Inc. GOOG-Q to threaten to pull out of that country – and challenged Beijing to openly publish its findings.

“Countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century,” she said, adding that the U.S. and China “have different views on this issue, and we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently.”

She cited China as among a number of countries where there has been “a spike in threats to the free flow of information” over the past year. She also named Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Egypt and Vietnam.

Ms. Clinton made her remarks in a wide-ranging speech about Internet freedom and its place in U.S. foreign policy.

“Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks,” she said.

“They have expunged words, names and phrases from search engine results,” Ms. Clinton said. “They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in nonviolent political speech.”

State Department officials have said they intend soon to lodge a formal complaint with Chinese officials over the Google matter, which a senior Chinese government official said Thursday should not affect U.S.-China relations.

Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei said in Beijing, “The Google case should not be linked with relations between the two governments and countries; otherwise, it’s an over-interpretation,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The Xinhua report did not mention censorship, instead referring to Google’s “disagreements with government policies.”

In a passage of her speech before she explicitly mentioned the Google matter, Ms. Clinton spoke broadly about the connection between information freedom and international business.

“Countries that censor news and information must recognize that, from an economic standpoint, there is no distinction between censoring political speech and commercial speech,” she said. “If businesses in your nation are denied access to either type of information, it will inevitably reduce growth.”

“Increasingly, U.S. companies are making the issue of information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions,” she added. “I hope that their competitors and foreign governments will pay close attention to this trend.”

She then raised the Google case.

“We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make its announcement,” she said, referring to Google’s recent statement that it is reconsidering its business operations in China. “We also look for that investigation and its results to be transparent.”


Further – Ms. Clinton wants to see INTERNET FREEDOM AS A PLANK OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY – she says that an attack on one Nation’s computer network should be seen, what it really is, an attack on all!

Censorship should not be accepted by any company, and American companies must take a principled stand she further said.

The US will place a “demarche” with China – a diplomatic move of protest showing its displeasure with the way China treated Google. The US is not ready to accept that this is a mere business squabble. We follow this logic and think the US should also express its displeasure the way certain well placed UN Department of Public Information officials use their positions to intefere with the dissemination of news at the UN. One outside the UN New York Times investigative reporter had looked into this three years ago, but her worldwide distributed article had no impact on the UN, neither did we see the US making a “demarche” to Mr. Ban Ki-moon. Could the State Department under the Hillary Clinton baton have a look there too?


Posted on on January 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change Study:
The Global Report

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
3:00 – 4:30 PM
World Bank “J” Building, Washington D.C.
(entrance on 18th Street between G and H)
Room B1-080


The ongoing World Bank study – the Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change  – has tried to further the understanding on two key issues: what will it cost developing countries to adapt to climate change and how can countries make their development plans more climate-resilient?

This event will provide highlights of the groundbreaking Global Report and draw lessons from it to explain: (i) the what, how, and why of adaptation; (ii) whether adaptation is simply development (or not); and, (iii) how different estimates of global costs of adaptation fit together.

An overview will also be provided of the “Country Case Studies” track of the study, currently underway in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Samoa and Vietnam, and implications of adaptation for country-specific development paths.

Warren Evans, Director,Environment Department, World Bank

Sergio Margulis, Study Team Leader and Lead Environmental Economist, World Bank
Urvashi Narain, Senior Environmental Economist, World Bank

Otaviano Canuto, Vice President,Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network, World Bank

The study is made possible through the generous support of the UK Department for International Development (DfID), The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

RSVP to Ms. Hawanty Page:  hpage at by Friday January 8, 2010


Posted on on November 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Close to the departure of President Obama on his all-important trip to Asia with stops in Tokyo November 12th, Singapore November 13-15, Shanghai November 15th, Beijing November 16-18, and Seoul November 18-19, the Japan Society has planned co-incidentally the event we are reporting about here.

Japan is the only original OECD member in Asia, as such Japan clearly feels justifiably it is a US prime partner in Asia. It also was clearly instrumental in nailing down the 1987 Kyoto Protocol to The Framework Convention on Climate Change, and hopes that this material will continue to be the base for future climate negotiations. That was the basis for having co-organized and hosted  the following meeting – November 10th.


Copenhagen & Beyond: A Multilateral Debate about Climate Change Policy.
Green Japan Series
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Japan Society, New York.

The positions and participation of Japan, China and the United States in any successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol will help determine its success or failure. In a Tuesday November 10, 2009 panel, at the Japan Society, New York, Masayoshi Arai, Director, JETRO New York, Special Advisor, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); The Honorable Zhenmin Liu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations; Elliot Diringer, Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Takao Shibata, chair of the working group that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, debated the direction of international climate change policy.

It was Moderated by Jim Efstathiou, Correspondent, Bloomberg News, and co-organized by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs


Takao Shibata, who is now a Chancellor Lecturer at the University of Kansas and Japan Consul General in Kansas City,mentioed that Japan is ready to commit to a 2020 reduction of 25% in emissions provided that there is FAIR and EFFECTIVE agreement with a VIGUROUS COMPLIANCE agreement as part of it. He stressed that the problem with Kyoto was that there was no compliance paragraph in the Protocol. All it said was that we postpone decision.

The OBJECTIVE must be: THE STABILIZATION OF CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE rather then fighting over figures of temperature increase or concentrations in parts per milion numbers. We have already a Framework he said – the Copenhagen process should be about STABILIZATION. Later he added that we must at least agree to a 2050 position.

Mr. Masayoshi Arai, who is in New York since June 2009, with The Japaese External Trade Organization (JETRO), after having held 16 positions within Japan Government, includingthe Prime Minister’s task force that created the Japan Consumer Protection Agency, and with The Fair Trade Commission and Agency for Natural Resouces and Energy and its Research Institute, Supervised manufacturing industries in their CO2 emissions reduction, and has also an MBA from Wharton, probably because of his present government trade position, was rather careful in what he said. He said that we ned something “meaningful”  for global warming  and left the Japanese point of view to Professor Shibata.


Eliot Diringer whose organization, the Washington based Pew Center, is a link between Environmentalism, industry and government made it clear that what is lacking is a legal architecture in place to deal with the problems created by climate change to which now Professor Shibata answered on the spot that the history is such that already in Berlin, later in Kyoto, the US was against a legal concept – that is a clear 15 year old problem. In Kyoto, the US Vice President came to seal the Protocol in full knowledge that it is unratifiable in Washington. Shibata does not want a repeat of this with a US that is in no position to ratify an agreement.

Diringer came back with the suggestion that he can see that Developing countries will accept self prescribed domestic reductions and will request an agreement that makes this possible for them to do so. That means a new FRAMEWORK that is more flexible then the original.


Ambassador Zhenmin Liu, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN in New York since 2006, in charge of China’s participation on the Second Committee at the UN, with prior experience at the UN in Geneva and as Director-General of the Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in Climate Change negotiations for China. He was actually the only member of the panel entitled to express a national negotiating position, and he did indeed come through.

Ambassador Liu said that he cannot have now a document to replace Kyoto – this lines him up with what might be a Japanese interest, but clearly is no answer to the problems that were pointed out at why Kyoto was a failure.

But then he also said that you need a GLOBAL CAP for the GHG emissions that must then take into account, when talking about individual nations, their level of industrialization.

A certain raport evolved between him and Washingtonian Diringer.

It was agreed that there is the need for Technology Innovation, Technology Cooperation, and Technology Transfer.

Diringer said that China is very well positioning itself for the green technology economy. People in the US start to understand that the US will lose the competition for future technology and there must be a start for support in US Congress for energy action right now.

These exchanges gave me an opening to ask mty question about what goes on right now – the days that President Obama plans for his trip to Asia with a long stopover in China.

I started my question to ambassador Liu by saying that on the internet there is a lot of talk about a G-2 US-China agreement needed to jump start the Copenhagen negotiations, and I saw visually the Ambassador cringe.  to this idea of a G-2. I continued by asking that what can we expect as an outcome from the meetings in Beijing if there is anything he could tell us as we believe that some concluding material was negotiated prior to the deision for this trip considering tha this is in effect the second meeting between the leaders?

I was honored with a long answer that included several main points.

The first point is that the US has accepted Kyoto and I guess China does not want to renegotiate Kyoto.

Then, China has 20% of the world population the US only 5%, but China has only a fraction of the GDP per capita then the US, so there is no G-2 situation here. That must have been the reason for the cringing – China does not want to lose its place as leader of the underdeveloped nations.

Secondly – this is not a US – China negotiation but a negotiation for all groups.

Thirdly, there is place for clean energy cooperation, bilateral programs and projects – to jointly use clean technology.


Professor Shibata added that we talk of the atmosphere where there are no national boundaries. We talk of sovereign areas only on the surface of the earth – and we must realize that the effects turn up in the air and we have no national control of the air.

Further, he said that in the west when something bad happens, the first thing we do is we sue the polluter – ask him to pay. He continued saying “I would encourage everyone to think about that.”

Mr. Diringer added that the CDM was introduced to harness market forces to get reduction of CO2 emissions at lowes cost.


To summarize – it was nice for Japan to try to host a US-China debate before moves that will inevitably have to bring the US and China closer together. To follow up – let us look at President Obama’s itinerary to get further in depth to what a reorientation of the US towards Asia could mean.

Japan, South Korea, and China are trying to form an East Asia Trilateral grouping with a Free Trade Agreement among the three countries. Obviously, this will open the Chinese market to Japan and Korea and there is no way for the US, with its own effective NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico. Japan wants thus perhaps more then just be a pivot in US – Chiba negotiations, it rather has also to make sure that it can hold on to its own agreements with both main countries. President Obama has thus quite a few non-climate topics to talk about in his Yokyo and Seoul stops.

The second big stop is in Singapore where he will meet the 21 members of APEC: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (part of China), Indonesia, Japan,  Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, The United States, and Viet Nam. This will be the reintroduction of the US to the Pacific region in general – an area that the locals contend was totally neglected by the US in the eight years of the Bush administration. A main point in this meeting will be to help redirect the participating economies from export to the US to supply to their local populations – this so that they help both areas – their own and the US economy as well.

Will they also consult on whom to back for the job of UN Secretary-General in 2010? That is about the time to start this sort of negotiations, and Singapore seems to be the right place to look for the best viable candidate.

Eventually, the Third leg of the trip – the stops  in China – will have to be the clear main target of the trip – as said here by Ambassador Liu, the business deals in clean energy that can underpin both economies  (US and China) so they become an example for cooperation on climate change that presents direct benefits to economies looking for sustainable growth, that is a match to the needs of the people and the climate as well –  this is what we call Sustainable Development that is mutual – for the newly industrializing nation and for the phasing out of the old polluting industries of the past.


for information from President Obama’s Asian trip we recommend:


Posted on on August 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following are the top 28 finalists in the Official 2009 New 7 Wonders of Nature competition – nominated from among hundreds of sites around the world that have been proposed.

see please: and you can vote – for up to 7 of the 28 list – at that link.

you can vote for your choice of 7 on line, by phone, or text message. It is expected that one billion people will vote and the winner will be announced in 2011.

A similar effort two years ago elected seven manmade wonders generated considerable publicity. We backed at that time Machu Picchu, Peru

These selections are being organized by a Swiss filmmaker and entrepreneur, Bernard Weber, and the committee that chose the 28 finalists included Federico Mayor, former chief of UNESCO, and Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Like everything else that has a UN connection, obviously such selections will be politicized beyond the simple angle of national pride – just see the country called Chinese Taipei for what most call Taiwan.

In this year of climate change we thing the Amazon will get the world’s nod, but watching in Vietnam (it is Halong Bay) how a whole country can get beyond a particular location we would have said that China could muster the vote, but will they do it for Taipei?

From among the many places on the list that we have been to – I am voting as Numero Uno for the Iguazu Falls.






























From the competition on the 7 Man-made wonders – a stamp collection from Gibraltar:

For all media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Tia B. Viering, Head of Communications
Mobile: +41 79-762-2784
Phone: +49 89 489 033 58 (Munich office)
Email at


Posted on on October 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (