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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Making the SDGs Relevant.

From Emily Benson  emily.benson at greeneconomycoalition.or…

From Sustainable Development Announcement List of IISD.
London, UK, October 13, 2014

Dear friends,

With less than a year to go until the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are agreed, the big question now is implementation. Specifically, how do we make the SDGs relevant to businesses as well as national and local level decision makers?

As part of the Measure What Matters initiative, we are bringing together statisticians from corporate reporting with national and international statistical bodies to explore how we align data frameworks at different scales (global, national, corporate, local).

Our first consultation is focused on WATER: How might global Goal(s) on water sustainability be operationalised at local, corporate and national levels? How do we ensure that the data frameworks are aligned?

If you are involved in water – then we want to hear from you! We need your expertise.

We will feed the results of this consultation directly into the implementation working groups for the SDGs, discussions at the national level on alternative GDP measurements, and consultations for strengthening corporate reporting.

The dialogue is available here. Please also see our one-page guidance note on taking part.

Measure What Matters is an initiative aiming to generate dialogue amongst diverse stakeholder groups on the case for operationalising global sustainability goals at the national and corporate levels. Please do see our website for more information. The initiative is led by the Green Economy Coalition in partnership with the Global Reporting Initiative, Accounting for Sustainability, the Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Environment and Development, and Stakeholder Forum.

Do contact us for more information or help:  emily.benson at greeneconomycoalition.or….
Emily Benson
Programme Manager
Green Economy Coalition

E:  emily.benson at greeneconomycoalition.or…

T: +44 (0)203 463 7399

M: +44 (0) 7771 915 591

Come join the debate: www.greeneconomycoalition.org

IIED is a company limited by a guarantee and incorporated in England. Reg. No 2188452. Registered office: 80-86 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8NH, UK. VAT Reg. No. GB 440 4948 50. Charity No. 800066. OSCR No 039864 www.iied.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Humanity at Crossroad : How to Shape a New Sustainable Development Trajectory.

On US Columbus Day, The Women’s International Forum at the United Nations in New York – WIF – took advantage of the slower ongoings at the UN and convened a meeting with the two Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG SDG) who toiled for a full year to produce an aspirational text that eventually was accepted by all UN Member States, and which now has to be fleshed out so there is also a financing agreement by the end of this General Assembly year – ready to go to the Paris Summit of November 30 to December 11, 2015.

The wife of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ms. Ban Soon-taek is the Patron of WIF and the wife of the Ambassador from Thailand, Ms. Nareumon Sinhaseni is the current President of the Executive Board of WIF.

Today’s presentations by the two co-chairs was the best lay-out of the issues which encompass no less then the future of Humankind on earth. The presenters were:

H.E. Csaba Korosi – Ambassador of Hungary and H.E. Macharia Kamau – Ambassador of Kenya

The two Co-chairs of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG SDG).

Ambassador Korosi spoke first and with the help of power-points provided an in-depth analysis of how the Working Group spent their time. Then Ambassador Kamau boiled the future we aspire to down to Three Words – AMBITIOUS, TRANSFORMATIVE and UNIVERSAL.
I will proceed by reporting this vision first, and pick up the mechanics later.

The targets and goals boil down to us an image of a world without poverty, without hunger everywhere, where diseases are under control, a truly inclusive society, equality for genders, businesses are responsible in their production methods and where animals are not seen as means for us but part of the ecosystem – and countries are equal as well.

Then he said he wants to imagine the standard in Manhattan as the norm for the SDGs. He challenged us to think of the conditions in the year 1960 and contemplate on how the world changed since then in travel, phones, medicines, how we moved away from the danger of a nuclear war. Then he suggested to flip this and ask why not continue this progress for the next 40 years as well, and spread the gains worldwide. That was the AMBITION part.

Now to TRANSFORMATIVE – this when we realize that after 3,000 years of civilization we still talk of gender equality. We need
a major change in the economic, social, and political structure of our lives.

It must be UNIVERSAL because those that progress was denied to them will come to claim their part. We do not talk anymore of charity towards the poor – that got us nowhere.

We must be held with our feet to the fire of accountability. This is not just about money. It is rather about holding ourselves accountable – he said. After what we achieved in preparing goals and targets we now have the span of time – January – September 2015, to come up with an AGENDA THAT IS ACCOUNTABLE. We have to overcome the people that do not see this – and bring them on board. He knows for a fact that we will succeed, and that collective effort will lead us to the future we all want.

Ambassador Korosi opened by telling us that we have now 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 Targets – all accepted by all of the UN body after a year of hard work that spread over 13 sessions. All this is ACTION ORIENTED AND ASPIRATIONAL IN NATURE. Let us round this up to 170 TARGETS.

Now we use the resources of 1.5 Earths – but we have only one. This year the Earth Overshoot Day was August 19. That was the day we started to borrow this year resources from the future generations. This date of the “Overshoot” moves back year-by-year so it shows our consumption of resources accelerates us with increasing speed towards the climate disaster. If we do not change our ways by 2030 we need then 50% more food and 35% more freshwater while nnually we loose agricultural land equal to half a Hungary or the size of a Belgium.

Since 1900 the world population tripled and available water per capita decreased from 12.000 m3 to 5.000. Urbanization that is now at 52% of the 7.5 Bn people today will reach 75% of the 8.5-9 Bn by 2050. Looking at the MDGs that were not achieved yet we find that 2.5 Bn people today still need electricity.

SD was defined in 1987 as Development to meet the present needs but that does not compromise the future. Now SD is seen as a bridge between the past, present, and future – all right – but it is between humans and nature, between politics and economics, between governments, civil society, and business, between the rich and poor, and between the North and South, and South and South. Sustainability is thus a hub of bridges and the SDGs are there to motivate the construction of these bridges.

We were presented the 17 SDGs and told that the 169 targets, global in nature as well, result from looking at local, national, regional needed actions. We attach the list of the 17 SDGs further down.

The concept is to turn the global aspirations into opportunities. We will need methods for data collection in order to build a supporting system for achieving the SDGs. We tried working on single goals and developed indicators for that purpose – but it did not work because all goals are interconnected. To support this, Amb. Korosi showed us a slide how the three Dimension of SD in the SDGs – the environmental, social, and economic, cut across all 17 SDGs and from goal to goal.

Among the lessons we learned from the work with MDGs is the need for a global Paradigm Change. The SD is a joint commitment to change in global trends – not limited to assistance to address some challenges in a group of countries – we are really all in the muck – together.

Implementation will be on national / regional / local levels with political commitment, national responsibility, supporting international cooperation – resulting in 193 different ways of implementation that result from the fact that there are now 193 Member States at the UN – but also involving the cooperation of stake-holders – a term that allows windows for Civil Society, business, and we assume also factors that have only outside relationship to the UN like the indigenous peoples’ Nations, or countries that are not Members of the UN. Cities and urbanization, as well as communities and sub-national States, come under the Local level while regional includes neighboring Nations.

Here we get to the issue of money and the speaker said that the global savings stand at 22 trillion with the value of assets reaching 230 trillion – so – in honesty – the 2-5 trillion needed as investment in the SDGs ought not to be a problem considering the vast amount of good these investments will provide. The problem is thus not money but accountability.


The home stretch of the follow up to the agreed-upon text, what the speaker called THE WAY AHEAD, includes the following steps:

- A Synthesis Report by the Secretary-General to be ready December 2014 followed by Intergovernmental negotiations – January to September 2015.

- The all important Summit on Financing SD to be held in Addis Abeba, July 2015

- The Summit on post-2015 agenda that is timed with the General Assembly 2015 meeting in September 2015 at UN New York Hqtrs.

- The target meeting in Paris, December 2015 of the make or brake Climate Summit 2015.

The speaker pointed out that a failure in any one of these steps is simply unaffordable.

————————

The presenters were introduced to the members of WIF:

“Elected by acclamation by members of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goal (OWG SDG) as Co-Chairs of the OWG on SDGs on the first day of the first session of the OWG on SDGs on 14 March 2013, Ambassador Csaba Korosi, PR of Hungary, and Ambassador Macharia Kamau, PR of Kenya, had, in fact, been highly involved in the issue of Sustainable Development since they were the co facilitators for the preparations of the first session of the OWG.

Upon their election, PGA Vuk Jeremic remarked that “process of formulating the SDGs will undoubtedly be a complicated one, requiring great diplomatic skills”.

Thirteen sessions of OWG from March 2013 to July 2014, 17 goals and 169 targets adopted by the OWG by acclamation, as well as the adoption of the Report of the OWG by UNGA 68, are clear evidence of the diplomatic skills of the Co-chairs. Proposing SDGs that are action oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and applicable to all countries. All the while ensuring that the intergovernmental process is transparent and inclusive to all stakeholders.

The two Co-chairs presented to WIF the process and results of their more than a year of hard work.
WIF members heard that of the 17 goals agreed upon, goal Five is devoted to “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls” If this particular goal and its targets are faithfully integrated into the Post 2015 Development Agenda, it will be a real “game changer” towards the effective protection of women’s rights throughout the world.”

—————-
THE SDGs:

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat
desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build
effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

—————

Much further information was provided in the lively follow up discussion with the WIF ladies.

We know about the relationship between Global Warming and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere already since 1896 from the studies by Svante Arrhenius of Sweden who also thought of human induced increase of the gas concentration in air. It took 60 years to think of the need of an international agreement, and now 120 years since Arhenius we are still on the wrong trajectory.

So knowledge is not enough. Governments did not act because their interest is in the yearly budget, or the time period of their rule – so long term projects that we must be facing now had no chance until the problem became larger.

On a question from Peru if the number of SDGs was not too large – after all – “END POVERTY” would have been enough – the answer came that 250 SDGs were proposed and it was a long discussion that brought them down to 17.

The question of youth came up and the Ambassador from Kenya answered that actually we have only one SDG and that is for a Sustainable World that we can hand down to our children – so it is really not necessary to mention the youth because it is about ONE WORLD.

—————

Please Note:

While the 2014 COP20 (2014) conference of the UNFCCC at Lima, Peru, is the next in the annual series, Ban Ki-moon has directed more attention toward the COP21, 2015 conference in Paris. A statement made by Ban Ki-moon called for the climate change summit he held on September 22, 2014 in New York, to lead to the Paris conference, but made no reference to the 2014 conference in Lima.

According to the organizing committee, the objective of the 2015 conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. This is part of the
package that includes the fulfillment of the MDGs and the establishing of the new SDGs

I found interesting that Ms. Ban was taking notes at the meeting of the WIF – I wonder if this was followed up by a direct report at the dinner table?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The key to nuclear’s future or an element of doubt?

Date: 14-Oct-14
REUTERS – PLANET ARK – October 13, 2014
Author: Geert De Clercq

The key to nuclear’s future or an element of doubt?

Work at the Cadarache CEA (Atomic Energy Authority) site near Saint-Paul-les-Durance, south eastern France, September 26, 2014.


For sodium, the sixth-most abundant element on the planet, is being held up as the key to one of several new types of nuclear reactor being developed as governments grapple with the problem of making atomic energy more environmentally friendly, safe and financially viable.

The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan effectively brought a global nuclear boom to a halt, but a decade-old research program into new reactors has regained relevance of late.

Quite apart from Germany’s decision to phase out a large slice of its nuclear capacity in the wake of Fukushima, Britain and Belgium have recently switched off several aging reactors over safety concerns while a number of U.S. plants have closed because they can no longer compete with cheap shale gas.

Launched by the United States in 2000, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) has 13 member countries including China, Russia, France, Japan and Britain, which have whittled down nearly 100 proffered concepts to focus research on six nuclear reactor models.

By far the most advanced of the six is the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), developed by France, Russia and China from a concept pioneered in the United States in the 1950s.

The SFR’s main advantage is that it can burn spent uranium and plutonium. These unwanted byproducts from water-cooled reactors have been piling up for years and the World Nuclear Association estimates stocks at about 1.5 million tonnes.

“We could produce power for several thousands of years with that without getting new natural uranium,” said Christophe Behar, the vice-chairman of GIF.

Behar, also head of research at French nuclear agency CEA, points out that SFRs can also burn up uranium’s most long-lived radioactive waste products, reducing the need for deep storage.

EXPLOSIVE DRAWBACK

Liquid sodium is better than water at evacuating heat from the reactor core and its high boiling point of about 900 degrees Celsius allows SFRs to operate close to atmospheric pressure, negating the need for the thick, steel containment vessels at pressurized water reactors.

But sodium has significant disadvantages, too. On contact with air, it burns; plunged into water, it explodes.

Early SFRs built by France, Russia and Japan have suffered corrosion and sodium leaks. But these were not built to GIF standards and the CEA research facility amid the pine trees in Cadarache, southeast France, is working on how to tame sodium as the agency seeks to convince lawmakers to allow construction of its new Astrid reactor, a 600 megawatt SFR.

The Astrid project was granted a 652 million euro ($823 million) budget in 2010 and a decision on construction is expected around 2019.

The use of sodium, which occurs naturally only as a compound in other minerals, presents huge challenges, however.

Nitrogen-driven turbines are being designed to prevent sodium from mixing with water, while purpose-built electromagnetic pumps are seen as the solution to moving the superheated metal within reactors. Then there’s the headache of not being able to see through the liquid metal should something go wrong in a reactor core.

The other five concepts – including lead and helium-cooled fast neutron reactors and three very-high-temperature reactors – are less mature than the SFR and face similar technological hurdles.

But technology is not the only obstacle. Cost is key, as ever, and abundant U.S. shale gas and a renewables energy boom in Europe have undermined the viability of the nuclear industry, leading some GIF member states, including Japan, Canada and Switzerland, to scale back funding.

SCIENCE FRICTION

Regardless of which, if any, of the new concepts eventually holds sway, the inevitable political wrangling over commercial projects will almost inevitably bring further delays, as with Britain’s 16 billion pound ($26 billion) Hinkley Point C plant to be operated by French utility EDF.

“Between the ambition in the beginning and today’s status, the Generation IV research is not exactly on track,” the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s Thierry Dujardin said.

GIF’s target of having the first prototypes in operation around 2020 has been pushed back to 2030, with the first commercial plants not expected before 2040-2050, but such are the timescales in the nuclear industry.

The group does have some wriggle room, as many of the second-generation reactors built in 1970s and 1980s are expected to run for another decade, while third-generation plants built today by firms such as Areva and Westinghouse are designed to operate for up to 60 years.

Critics of GIF say that France and other nations have been too quick to focus research on the SFR and should have made a more audacious bet on newer technologies, such as the pebble-bed high-temperature reactor or the molten-salt reactor.

“There is not a single really new idea among the 4G models,” said Bernard Laponche, a retired CEA nuclear engineer.

Given sodium’s explosive potential, Laponche argues that the molten-salt reactor, the least developed technology, is the safest of the six models.

“It’s not a windmill, but it’s better than the others,” he said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Reducing Carbon Emissions Would Fuel Global Economy.

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch

11 October 14

Evidence is amassing to discredit those middle-ground politicians who say they think climate change is real but don’t think we should address it because of the steep economic costs.

Two reports issued today by the Climate Policy Institute add to the growing pile of studies showing that moving to clean-energy, low-carbon policies that help mitigate the effects of climate change could actually provide fuel for the economy.

They found that moving to such policies could save the global economy trillions of dollars in the next two decades to invest in economic growth. The reports were commissioned by the New Climate Economy project as part of the research conducted for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

“For policymakers around the world wondering whether the transition to a low-carbon economy will help or hurt their countries’ ability to invest for growth, our analysis clearly demonstrates that, for many, the low-carbon transition is a no-brainer,” said Climate Policy Initiative’s executive director Tom Heller. “It not only reduces climate risks, its benefits are clear and significant.”

“Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Financial Impact of the Low-Carbon Transition” juxtaposes the costs of low-carbon electricity and low-carbon transportation system with the costs of the current system. “Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Impact of Different Policy Pathways on Fossil Fuel Asset Values” looks at the risk and extent of existing fossil fuel assets’ loss of value (aka asset-stranding), which would limit governments and businesses’ ability to borrow against them to finance growth and investment, including investment in a clean energy technologies.

The reports came to a number of conclusions about the positive economic impacts of shifting to policies that favor clean, renewable energy. They found that since governments worldwide and not private companies control 50-70 percent of oil, gas and coal resources, they also have the power to shape policies that can lead to savings or to asset-stranding. They also concluded that the savings in operational costs from renewable energy as opposed to fossil-fuel energy far outweighs the value of the stranded assets. And they assert that transitioning away from coal would provide the greatest benefits in emissions reductions with the least loss in value.

They also urge reducing the cost of financing renewable energy plants to lower the cost of transition worldwide, implementing a planning approach that includes taxes and innovation, and using gas as a bridge fuel in some regions—particularly China and India—until 2030 but saying gas use would have to decrease after that.

“Our analysis reveals that with the right policy choices, over the next twenty years governments can achieve the emissions reductions necessary for a safer, more stable climate and free up trillions for investment in other parts of the economy,” said Climate Policy Initiative’s senior director David Nelson. “This is even before taking into account the environmental and health benefits of reducing emissions.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


EU regional projects see ‘encouraging’ shift in focus.

10.10.14 By Honor Mahony – The Euobserver

BRUSSELS – As he finishes up his mandate as EU regional affairs commissioner, Johannes Hahn says his “legacy” is getting member states to spend money on the real economy rather than hulking infrastructure projects.

Romania’s Corina Cretu (Partidul Social Democrat) is due to take over as EU regional affairs commissioner in November

Under his watch, rules governing how regional aid money – running to €325 billion between 2014-2020 – is spent were given a shake-up to encourage projects in line with the EU’s long-term economic goals.

Adopted at the end of December, the new rules have already resulted in a big decrease in spending on traditional infrastructure – such as roads – and a leap in spending on green and ICT projects.

“We see a clear shift from investment in infrastructure towards stimulation of the “real” economy,” Hahn told this website, adding that this is “encouraging”.

“I like to think [of this] as a legacy of my time as commissioner for this policy.”

Analysis by late September of the plans of various regions have showed that there was a 22 percent rise in spending (to €125bn) on projects dedicated to research & development, innovation, ICT, small businesses, and low-carbon economy compared to the last budget cycle (2007-2013).

Spending on transport and other major infrastructure has sunk by 21 pecent, to €60bn, while member states such as Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Portugal, and the UK have made helping small companies a priority.

On energy security and green projects specifically, the chunk of aid money has more than doubled to €38 billion.
Red tape – also in the member states

Hahn notes that while the more stringent rules mean that getting spending programmes agreed is more time-consuming, the “insistence” on focussing on what results will be achieved rather than just whether money will be spent is “very valuable”.

“Member states will have to spell out what they want to achieve and by when, and be monitored whether those results are there,” he says.

And while he admits that the rules are still complicated – or not simplified “as much as we might have wished” – leading to grumbling by some local authorities, he says member states themselves are just as much to blame.

“Many layers of red tape come from member states themselves – what we call ‘gold-plating’ and it is too easy to blame this on the so-called ‘Brussels bureaucracy ‘.”

On tying funds to good economic governance – a controversial innovation to the rules – Hahn said stopping EU aid because a member state is fiscally misbehaving would be a “last resort”, but underlines that “investments will deliver more in the context of budgetary discipline”.

“We are not talking about punishment but rather about an incentive to maintain financial and budgetary discipline so that funds can deliver for citizens.”

The Austrian politician, who is due to take over the European neighbourhood policy dossier from November, declines to give advice to his successor candidate, Romania’s Corina Cretu.

But he does suggest that, in future, GDP – or how rich a region is – should not be the only criteria for determining whether it should qualify for EU money.

“Other measures such as innovation performance could be taken into account,” he says, indicating that being a forward-looking region with clever ideas should be enough for a shot at EU aid.
 euobserver.com/regions/125754

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From The Washington Post
The Switch/Innovations
It’s all about what’s next • Sat., Oct. 11, 2014

5 insights from Vint Cerf on bitcoin, net neutrality and more
When Vint Cerf, often called the “father of the Internet,” is speaking, it’s wise to listen. Earlier this week Cerf, who holds the title of chief Internet evangelist at Google, spoke at a Startup Grind event at Google’s office in Washington, D.C. Here are some of his thoughts, drawn from his remarks to the group and an […]


Why it matters that Microsoft is channeling the Star Trek holodeck

Instead of measuring innovation in terms of new products or services, maybe it’s time to start measuring innovation in terms of how companies change our perceptions of reality. Before virtual reality and augmented reality, there was simulated reality, immersive virtual reality, mixed reality and artificial reality. All of these iterations of “reality” represented new ways […]


Jeff Pulver opens up on Silicon Valley’s scorn for old entrepreneurs, and why every start-up needs a lead singer

Entrepreneur Jeff Pulver, best known for his role in a series of Internet communications companies including Vonage, spoke at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. When discussing his involvement in the Israel tech scene he recounted a personal story about ageism in Silicon Valley: What I like about Israel — in many cases […]


America can’t lead the world in innovation if the FAA keeps dragging its feet on drone rules

As the latest revolutionary digital technology takes off, entrepreneurs are finding themselves battling federal regulators for permission just to experiment with new applications. This time, it’s not the FCC (smartphone apps), the FTC (the Internet of Things), the FDA (genetic testing), the Department of Transportation (driverless cars), the Federal Reserve (bitcoin), state and local utility […]


Why the mobile payments space is the most exciting space in tech right now

It seems as if every big player in the tech sector is developing a mobile payment solution. It’s not just Apple Pay, which was announced with much fanfare at the big Apple launch event in early September, and reportedly could go live as early as Oct. 20. There are now rumors that Facebook is working on […]


The glaring gender dilemma Silicon Valley venture capitalists are hiding from

The dominoes are falling in Silicon Valley: technology companies releasing their diversity data, apologizing for the sins of the past, and promising to do better. I know from my meetings with executives of Google and Facebook that they are dead serious; that this isn’t just a marketing campaign. They are looking into the sources of […]
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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Jenan Moussa is a reporter for the Arabic language TV network Akhbar AlAan out of Dubai.

For the past 48 hours she has been witnessing the battle raging in the Kurdish town of Kobane, just south of Turkey’s border with Syria.

At 07:00 EST she tweeted, “ISIS did not manage to enter Kobane yet, Kurdish activist Mustafa Bali just told me over phone.
He is still in Kobane. @Akhbar”

An hour later, she was the first to report: “I can confirm. I just saw an ISIS flag. It is flying on eastern edge of Kobane. Will try to tweet a pic in a sec.”

As fighting raged, news came of the desperate situation of the Kurds.

One female fighter reportedly charged the advancing ISIS jihadists, hurling grenades at them and then blew herself up in their midst. Another reportedly shot herself rather than be captured by ISIS when she ran out of ammunition.

Moussa’s tweets from one of her Kurdish contacts from inside Kobane conveyed the sense of betrayal the Kurds felt because of the lack of American help. She tweeted: “Kurdish guy from#Kobane tells me: We hoped American planes will help us. Instead American tanks in hands of ISIS are killing us.”

———————————————————————

The US betrayal of the Turks is evident for decades – as the US is busy courting Muslim Arabia and no US President to-date has helped the only Muslim Nationality that is trying to emerge from this regressive Arab World that is advancing back into the dark ages in human development. This only Nationality are the Kurds -whose lands were carved up by the British and given to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The fate of the Kurds is worse then that of the Armenians – and an ongoing example of what the Israeli Jews could expect from their Middle East neighbors as well.

———-

THE NEW YORK TIMES – The Opinion Pages | Editorial

Mr. Erdogan’s Dangerous Game: Turkey’s Refusal to Fight ISIS Hurts the Kurds.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD October 8, 2014

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once aspired to lead the Muslim world. At this time of regional crisis, he has been anything but a leader. Turkish troops and tanks have been standing passively behind a chicken-wire border fence while a mile away in Syria, Islamic extremists are besieging the town of Kobani and its Kurdish population.

This is an indictment of Mr. Erdogan and his cynical political calculations. By keeping his forces on the sidelines and refusing to help in other ways — like allowing Kurdish fighters to pass through Turkey — he seeks not only to weaken the Kurds, but also, in a test of will with President Obama, to force the United States to help him oust President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom he detests.

It is also evidence of the confusion and internal tensions that affect Mr. Obama’s work-in-progress strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim extremist group also called ISIS or ISIL. Kurdish fighters in Kobani have been struggling for weeks to repel the Islamic State. To help, the Americans stepped up airstrikes that began to push the ISIS fighters back, although gun battles and explosions continued on Wednesday.

But all sides — the Americans, Mr. Erdogan and the Kurds — agree that ground forces are necessary to capitalize on the air power. No dice, says Mr. Erdogan, unless the United States provides more support to rebels trying to overthrow Mr. Assad and creates a no-fly zone to deter the Syrian Air Force as well as a buffer zone along the Turkish border to shelter thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the fighting.

No one can deny Mr. Assad’s brutality in the civil war, but Mr. Obama has rightly resisted involvement in that war and has insisted that the focus should be on degrading ISIS, not going after the Syrian leader. The biggest risk in his decision to attack ISIS in Syria from the air is that it could put America on a slippery slope to a war that he has otherwise sought to avoid.

Mr. Erdogan’s behavior is hardly worthy of a NATO ally. He was so eager to oust Mr. Assad that he enabled ISIS and other militants by allowing fighters, weapons and revenues to flow through Turkey. If Mr. Erdogan refuses to defend Kobani and seriously join the fight against the Islamic State, he will further enable a savage terrorist group and ensure a poisonous long-term instability on his border.

He has also complicated his standing at home. His hesitation in helping the Syrian Kurds has enraged Turkey’s Kurdish minority, which staged protests against the Turkish government on Wednesday that reportedly led to the deaths of 21 people. Mr. Erdogan fears that defending Kobani would strengthen the Syrian Kurds, who have won de facto control of many border areas as they seek autonomy much like their Kurdish brethren in Iraq. But if Kobani falls, Kurdish fury will undoubtedly grow.

The Americans have been trying hard to resolve differences with Mr. Erdogan in recent days, but these large gaps are deeply threatening to the 50-plus-nation coalition that the United States has assembled. One has to wonder why such a profound dispute was not worked out before Mr. Obama took action in Syria.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Looking Forward: The UH Secretary-General and UN General Assembly President Address U.N.’s Ambitious “Post-2015 Development Agenda.”

as reported by United Nations Correspondent George Baumgarten

The very name seems to have a grandiosity about it, an air of “Planning the Next Decade for the Whole World”. Yet it carries the baggage of the U.N.’s past plans and projects, and all the promise of its hopes for the future: “The Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

In what was dubbed a “Stocktaking Event”, in the very waning hours of the General Assembly’s 68th Session, the U.N. met to review the progress of its development agenda, and to plan its next, successor phase.

The antecedent of all this reviewing and planning is what the U.N. called its “Millennium Development Goals”, so named because of its passage in the year 2000, on the cusp of the new millennium. That list contained eight such objectives, including ones related to poverty, education, maternal health and others. These goals were to be attained by 31 December 2015, so there is just a bit over a year to accomplish the objectives.

While it seems that some of the goals will be accomplished, it is obvious that others will not, Therefore, an entire “successor agenda” had to be developed and crafted, to re-emphasize the importance of the objectives not accomplished, and make a new, successor plan for their completion and achievement. Hence, the “Stocktaking Event”, for review and planning purposes, was developed and scheduled. Chaired by Ambassador Collin Beck, of the Southwest Pacific’s Solomon Islands, it featured major addresses by both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the outgoing President of the General Assembly’s 68th Session, John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda.

Ban’s address identified three priorities:

1) Make a “final push” to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – “MDG”s, by the end of next year.

2) Launch a new Sustainable Development Agenda, based on “SDG” goals.

3) Members must agree on a “meaningful, universal climate change agreement, by the end of 2015.

After presenting these three priorities, the Secretary-General lauded the “Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals”, noting that Member States clearly “want to be in the driver’s seat”, in the crafting of the New Development Agenda. He also mentioned the various “thematic debates,” which had been forums for the expression of both opinions and concerns. He also mentioned the coming “Third International Conference on Financing for Development”, to be held next July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Other bodies who have been (to use the U.N.’s expression) “seized of the matter” have included the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the U.N. Environment Assembly – MY World and Global Youth Call.

Secretary General Ban is expecting to produce a “Global Synthesis Report” which will, he hopes, do credit to the “key elements and the high level of ambition” on this issue. As he said, “we have an intense and important year ahead”. This is a goal that he sees as “simple but daunting”. He presents that goal as “prosperity and dignity for all, in a world where humankind lives in harmony with nature”.

Ban’s speech was followed by that of the General Assembly President, John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda. In possibly his last major address before handing over the Assembly’s Presidency to his African colleague, Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa of Uganda, Ashe charged members to take up the challenge of the Secretary-General’s “synthesis report”. He asked them to think “…what could constitute a truly participatory , inclusive, people-centered post-2015 Development Agenda that has the eradication of extreme poverty as its overarching objective…”. He spoke also of including those who have hitherto felt disenfranchised or otherwise neglected by their governments or societies: women, the young, Indigenous People, older persons and those with disabilities.

The outgrowth of this thinking and planning, said Ashe, would be a “…new development paradigm emerging that is people-centered and based on inclusiveness, equality and equity”. But the responsibility that nations would then have is that “…achieving sustainable development means that societies must truly transform”. Those previously disenfranchised must become empowered. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are an absolute priority.

Ashe emphasizes, however, that this agenda must be “…focused and action-oriented”. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) must build on the original Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), which they replace. They add to those original goals, by including such elements as energy, economic growth, inequality, cities and others.

Ashe sees four elements, as part of a new “toolkit” for the implementation of these goals:

First, we must have an integrated approach, taking into account the interrelationships between various goals and objectives.

Second, people and civil society organizations but have an opportunity to present their “input”, in all these projects and efforts.

Third, there must be the full cooperation of governments, and that cooperation and participation must be transparent.

Fourth, there must be a global partnership for development, and other partnerships at all levels.

Finally—in addition to these four elements—there must be a robust accountability framework, with full use of oversight functions.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda, says Ashe, must mobilize resources and use them effectively. It must also “promote the development, transfer and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies. This is especially critical in developing countries. At the end of his one-year presidency, Ashe seems particularly proud of his accomplishments on this vital future agenda.

________________
© Copyright 2014 George Alan Baumgarten

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Organizing for Action – OFA

Pincas –

Google just did something pretty cool: Along with other tech companies like Facebook, last week, they decided to drop their support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-backed group that promotes right-wing legislation at the state and national level. That’s because, as one executive put it, “they’re just literally lying” about the realities of climate change.

Several companies have now taken action, after hundreds of thousands of Americans called on them to end their affiliation with ALEC.

This is the type of change that happens when ordinary Americans raise their voices. It’s why OFA is collecting signatures to submit to the EPA in support of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

More than 250,000 people have added their names — join in and tell the EPA where you stand.

Climate change deniers like ALEC are exactly the reason why this EPA comment collection period is so important.

The polluters and special interest groups have an outsized voice in shaping public policy. And you can believe they’re doing all they can right now to fight back against the President’s plan, which The New York Times called the “strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change.”

We want as many OFA supporters as possible to stand up in support before we cut off submissions.

You haven’t added your name yet — will you take a quick minute to fix that right now?
 my.barackobama.com/Support-Carbon…

Thanks,

Ivan

Ivan Frishberg
Climate Change Senior Advisor
Organizing for Action

—————————-++++++++++++++++++++++++———————-

We add to this from:  www.ora.tv/offthegrid/top-3-clima…
that is a Governor Jesse Ventura TV program -

that Climate deniers John Boehner (R-OH), Joe Barton (R-TX), and Steve Stockman (R-TX)
are top deniers in US Congress and they will stand up for re-election this November. A better Congress would not miss them !!!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dr.Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, Founding Director of the MIT Energy Initiative and Director of the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, a former Undersecretary of DOE in charge of disposing of nuclear materials including those of Russia, he came to Head DOE in May 2013 after Nobel Laureate Steven Chu decided to return to academia.

Prof. Steven Chu was a vocal advocate for more research into renewable energy and nuclear power, arguing that a shift away from fossil fuels is essential to combating climate change. For example, he has conceived of a global “glucose economy”, a form of a low-carbon economy, in which glucose from tropical plants is shipped around like oil is today. On February 1, 2013, he announced he would not serve for the President’s second term and resigned on April 22, 2013. The position then fell to Prof. Moniz who seems to be more in tune with the President’s “All of the above” energy concept.

Secretary Moniz appeared today, October 6, 2014, before the New York Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in a conversation with Matthew A. Winkler, Editor in Chief, Bloomberg News. This was a very active day that started at NYU - energy.gov/epsa/agenda-energy-inf… -

Agenda: Energy Infrastructure Finance. A Public Meeting on the Quadrennial Energy Review, Hosted by the United States Department of Energy and with Opening Remarks by

The Honorable Ernest Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy and
The Honorable Carolyn Maloney, Member from New York of the United States House of Representatives

The event dealt with: ATTRACTING AND MAINTAINING CAPITAL FOR ENERGY TRANSMISSION, STORAGE, AND DISTRIBUTION (TS&D); BANKABILITY OF ELECTRICITY TS&D INFRASTRUCTURE; OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR NATURAL GAS AND LIQUID FUELS TS&D INFRASTRUCTURE.

The CFR meeting was titled “A Conversation With Ernest Moniz” and after a short lunch was followed at CFR by a Panel “The Battle of Interests Over the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals” where Ms. Gail Fosler, formerly President of the Conference Board and now provider of advisory service for global business leaders and public policymakers, presided over discussants: Carol Adelman, Director, Center for Global Prosperity, Hudson Institute; Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations; and Fred Krupp. President, Environmental Defense Fund.

CFR showed interest also in the Arctic region emergence as a source of oil and gas as per: www.cfr.org/polar-regions/emergin…

In our posting we cover only the Ernest Moniz presentation before the CFR, as we feel this presentation introduced the Administration’s thinking without distraction from the conflicting interests of the 2014 various protagonists.

Asked what are the three main tasks of his Department, Professor Moniz opened by saying that a main task of his work is Energy Security, and going back to Jim Schlesinger who when the Department was established said this has to be considered in a collective context with the US allies, Moniz now mentioned the EU and specifically also the G7 and the immediacy of the need to assure heating gas for this winter for the Ukraine. In parallel he said he must devise a long-term plan on which he works with Canadian and UK experts even if the Russians do supply for now gas to Ukraine – the problem of energy security remains.

A second Question was if “All of the Above” is capable of handling the CO2 issue? The answer was that everything they do is geared to carbon reduction. Carbon sequestration is pushed with projects in this area involving enhanced oil recovery and oil production. Then there is the increased energy use efficiency in vehicles. Reduced dependence on oil is promoted and a new large bio-refinery will soon be opened in Kansas. So – it is nuclear, renewables, efficiency for the long-term and the use of gas in the mid-term. In the electricity production, wind use was increased by 45% and solar by 6%. LED is a great economic success. The stress is on aiming in 2015 to set goals of reduction in CO2 emissions by 17% in general with a reduction of 30% in the electricity sector. Most of this via sector by sector energy efficiency.

From here the discussion moved to the UN and the obvious that global challenges cannot be met without the Chinese and the European’s cooperation. “we saw at the UN strong statements by China, India, and he expects from these introductory statements a Paris outcome that has in it declarations of goals that are different by the different States. Asked directly if the target of 2 degrees Centigrade is realistic – the answer came in one word – “Challenging.” Then he enlarged by saying – “I would focus first on coal.” He feels bullish on solar – costs are coming down. 2000-2009 the US had no photovoltaic production now we have 9 plants and 12 under construction. He expects Europe to show leadership in the run-up to the 2015 meeting in Paris. “We will continue to encourage China, India, Brazil. and we will be a lot on airplanes.”

So far there was nothing new in what we heard except the emphasis on interdependence. Then came questions about exports from the US and about natural gas. His answers started by saying that the international market looks very different from 1975 when the laws forbidding exports of oil and gas from the US were passed. That is when we established DOE and the Petroleum Reserve etc. Ultimately exports are an issue for the Department of Commerce and not for DOE. There are also changes in production methods and at the petroleum refinery to be considered. He also pointed out that crude oil changed into products was not under those laws.

On the Keystone Pipeline he said that it was under the Secretary of State responsibility. On gas he predicted that exports cannot start before the end of 2015 – “so it is not an answer to Ukraine.”
Further, on a question about Eastern Mediterranean gas he said that this is also no answer for Europe’s needs. We consider these answers as newsworthy replies by the Secretary.

An added topic I was able to talk about with the Secretary after his presentation relates to the US position on supplies of oil and gas from the Arctic. He remarked that at the end of 2015 the Arctic Circle Council moves to the US for two years and he sees rather the subject from an environmental angle. To my great satisfaction I heard from him the old Sheik Yammani adage that the Age of Oil will end not because of a lack of oil. He also pointed at Shell Oil’s problems with their attempt at drilling for Arctic oil. With this attitude by the US I am now even more curious then ever of what will be the underlying spirit at the end of this moth’s meeting in Reykjavik of the 2014 Arctic Circle Assembly.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

What Washington Does not Want to See Even in September 2014 was known to those with sight already in 2001 – The USA Has No Arab Friends or Even True Arab Allies in the Middle East. President Obama does see this, but seemingly tries also to ignore reality in order to avoid a consistently open oil trap.

It does not amuse us to find 2001 references that point to a total lack of understanding in Washington of events in the Middle East – on the meaning of the entanglement of the Saudi Royal family and Wahhabi Islam. It gets worse when we find direct 2001 references to Iraq and Syria under their 2001 ruling despots, as the beginning of the process that leads to what the present revolutionary force calls the Islamic State. Let us just say kindly that the US helped the Saudi Wahhabis fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, but then the US just allowed the Taliban to take over and open the land to Bin Ladin whose shadow continues the fight he initiated by bringing it back closer to the Arabian Peninsula. Washington 2014 seems not to realize the meaning of these forces that it discovered only in New York in 2001.

“TWO QUESTIONS have been raised about Osama bin Laden. First, if bin Laden opposes the Saudi regime, why has he never struck Saudi targets? Second, if he threatens Saudi Arabia, why has the Saudi government taken the lead in recognizing and funding the Taliban government of Afghanistan, which is entwined with bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization? The answer is: The bin Laden problem is deeply embedded both in Saudi religious and dynastic politics and in an effort by Iraq and Syria to shift the balance of power in the Middle East.”

The Above is from:
“The Saudi Connection: Osama bin Laden’s a lot closer to the Saudi royal family than you think.”
Oct 29, 2001, YJE WEEKLY STANDARD, Vol. 7, No. 07 • By DAVID WURMSER

The 2001 articles talk of -

“The Saudi Connection – Osama bin Laden’s a lot closer to the Saudi royal family than you think.”
Oct 29, 2001, The Weekly Standard, Vol. 7, No. 07 • By DAVID WURMSER

TWO QUESTIONS have been raised about Osama bin Laden. First, if bin Laden opposes the Saudi regime, why has he never struck Saudi targets? Second, if he threatens Saudi Arabia, why has the Saudi government taken the lead in recognizing and funding the Taliban government of Afghanistan, which is entwined with bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization? The answer is: The bin Laden problem is deeply embedded both in Saudi religious and dynastic politics and in an effort by Iraq and Syria to shift the balance of power in the Middle East.

To begin to unravel this murky business, it is necessary to go back to the mid 1990s, when a succession struggle was beginning in Saudi Arabia. This struggle pits the octogenarian king, Fahd bin Abdel-Aziz, and his full brothers in the Sudairi branch of the family (especially the defense minister, Prince Sultan) against their half-brother, Crown Prince Abdallah. King Fahd and the Sudairis favor close ties to the United States, while Crown Prince Abdallah prefers Syria and is generally more enamored of pan-Islamic and pan-Arab ideas. All of these contenders are old. Whoever succeeds in securing the crown after Fahd will anoint the next generation of royal heirs and determine Saudi Arabia’s future course–either toward the West or toward Syria, Iraq, and others who challenge the position of the United States in the region.

Abdallah is closely allied with the puritanical Wahhabi religious establishment that has underpinned the Saudi government for over a century. The Wahhabis are strident and hostile to a continued American presence in the Middle East. They made this explicit in 1990 in a pronouncement known as the Muzkara an-Nasiha, originated by Osama bin Laden and signed by virtually every sheikh in the Wahhabi establishment. It condemned Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow U.S. troops into the kingdom for the purpose of resisting Saddam.

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

Saudi Friends, Saudi Foes – Is our Arab ally part of the problem?
Oct 8, 2001, THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Vol. 7, No. 04 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ

THE EXTRAORDINARY ACT of destruction seen on September 11 had a noteworthy harbinger in Islamic history. In 1925, Ibn Saud, founder of the present Saudi Arabian dynasty, ordered the wholesale destruction of the sacred tombs, graveyards, and mosques in Mecca and Medina. These are, of course, the two holy cities of Islam, whose sanctity the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and other Islamist extremists ostensibly seek to protect from the defiling presence of U.S. troops on Saudi soil.

Saud’s armed supporters, in a frenzy of iconoclasm, first leveled Jannat al-Baqi, the “heavenly orchard” in Medina, where one of the original associates of Muhammad was buried under the prophet’s supervision. Other relatives and thousands of early companions of the prophet were also interred at the site, as were the imams Hassan and Hussein, venerated by Sunni and Shia Muslims. All these graves were wrecked by Saud’s minions, who then looted the treasure at the prophet’s shrine.

The Saud party went on to demolish the cemetery in Mecca where the prophet’s mother, grandfather, and first wife, Khadijah, were buried; then to smash many more honored sites, devastating the architectural achievements of Arabia, including mosques and even Muhammad’s house. Only the tomb of the prophet was spared, after an outcry from traditional Muslims.

This spree of vandalism was accompanied by wholesale massacres of Muslims suspected of rejecting Wahhabism, a fanatical strain of Islam that emerged in Arabia in the eighteenth century and has periodically disturbed the Muslim world. In the nineteenth century, it fueled the Arab nationalist challenge to the tolerant and easygoing Ottoman Empire; and it became, and remains today, the state-sanctioned doctrine of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, founded in 1932.

These events of 75 years ago aid in understanding the violence of bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists, who (since the waning of atheist leftism as a motivating ideology) are all Wahhabis. A direct line extends from the demolition of the holy places in Medina and Mecca through the slaughter of 58 tourists in Egypt in 1997, the orgy of killing in Algeria in this decade, and the bombardment of the Buddhist statues at Bamyan by the Taliban only months ago to the assault on the World Trade Center, symbol of Western wealth and power. In all these cases, unrestrained destruction and bloodshed were justified by Wahhabi doctrine.

Wahhabis, who regard the veneration of the prophet and of saints as a polytheistic corruption of Islam, are offended by the honoring of tombs and shrines, along with many other traditional Muslim practices. Observance of the prophet’s birthday, for example, is illegal in Saudi Arabia, although lately Prince Abdullah has introduced a novel concession: Observances in private homes will no longer be subject to suppression by the religious police.

Wahhabism’s bloodstained record explains why so many Muslims around the world fear and hate Islamic fundamentalism—and why certain marginal types are drawn to it. As an acquaintance of mine put it, in Muslim Morocco, the footloose young sons of the lower middle class and proletariat can take one of three paths. They may adopt Western ways, drink and acquire girlfriends, and be envied. They may take up the life of an ordinary observant Muslim and be respected. Or they may join the Wahhabis—funded by the Saudis and organized by such as bin Laden—and be feared.

This is the most important point for Western leaders to understand right now: The West has multitudes of potential Muslim allies in the anti-terror war. They are the ordinary, sane inhabitants of every Muslim nation, who detest the fundamentalist violence from which they have suffered and which is symbolized, now and forever, by the mass murder in New York.

There is another historical lesson to be drawn. Wahhabism—whose quintessence is war on America—seeks to impel Islam centuries back in time, to the faith’s beginnings, yet it is neither ancient nor traditional. Indeed, it achieved its culmination, the establishment of the Saudi kingdom, only in the 1930s, in parallel with fascism and Stalinism.

Although it appears to be a rejection of modernity, Wahhabism can usefully be thought of as a variant of the nihilistic revolutionary ideologies that spilled oceans of blood in the twentieth century but finally collapsed—truly, the discredited lies consigned to history’s graveyard of which President Bush spoke.

This analysis continues for two more pages starting -
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Posted in Arab Asia, Archives, Real World's News, Reporting from Washington DC, Saudi Arabia

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Oil falls on generous supplies, stronger dollar.
MENAFN – AFP – 03/10/2014

(MENAFN – AFP) Global oil prices fell Friday, with the US contract hitting a 17-month low amid ample supplies on the market and the dollar strengthening following a positive US jobs report.

The US benchmark futures contract, West Texas Intermediate for November delivery, closed at 89.74 a barrel, down 1.27 from Thursday. It was the first time WTI closed below 90 since April 2013.

Brent North Sea crude for November, the main European contract, slumped 1.11 to $92.31 a barrel, its lowest close since June 2012.

The positive US jobs report, generally considered a sign of health in the world’s largest crude-oil consumer, was not powerful enough to lift the market.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the US economy added 248,000 jobs in September and revised higher job gains in previous months, pushing the unemployment rate down to a six-year low of 5.9 percent.

The unemployment number was “very strong,” said Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinion, “but for now, the big picture for the oil prices is the situation of supply, of oversupply, not in the US but everywhere else in the world.”

Oil production in the United States is booming, thanks to oil shale extraction, and exports are on the upswing in Russia, Libya and Kurdistan. Key exporter Saudi Arabia also cut oil prices for the fourth straight month this week to defend its market share.

In the third quarter of 2014, both Brent and New York oil prices have shed approximately 15 percent of their value on generous supplies and slowing consumption growth.

Oil prices have also been under pressure from a rising dollar, which hit a fresh four-year high against the euro on Friday helped by the jobs report.

The dollar firmed to 1.2501 against the euro, a level last seen in late August 2012, and remained close to a six-year high against the yen.


A stronger greenback makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for buyers using weaker
currencies, which tends to dent demand and push prices lower.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

VIENNA CONFERENCE ON THE HUMANITARIAN IMPACT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. 8-9 December 2014

Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Logo HINW

Vienna Hofburg Palace, 8 – 9 December 2014

Conference Information:
 www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-forei…

Draft Program
Registration
UNDP Sponsorship Program
Conference Venue
Tourist Information
Exhibition space


A world without nuclear weapons is a goal shared by all humanity. Yet, so far, it has remained elusive. An estimated 16.300 nuclear weapons still exist nearly 25 years after the end of the cold war. Today, nine states are believed to possess nuclear weapons, but as nuclear technology is becoming more available, more states, and even non-state actors, may strive to develop nuclear weapons in the future.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of their use by design, miscalculation or madness, technical or human error, remains real. Nuclear weapons, therefore, continue to bear an unacceptable risk to humanity and to all life on earth. Any use of nuclear weapons could cause gravest humanitarian emergencies and have catastrophic global consequences on the environment, climate, health, social order, human development and the economy.

A single detonation of a modern nuclear weapon would cause destruction and human suffering on a scale far exceeding the devastation seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No State or international body would be able to provide adequate assistance. Nuclear weapons continue to pose an existential threat to all humankind. These risks are not abstract. They are real, more serious than previously known and can never be eliminated completely.

In the past few years, a growing number of states and many civil society actors focussed on the humanitarian consequences and risks associated with nuclear weapons through different national, regional and international events and activities. Two international conferences were devoted specifically to this issue; in Oslo, Norway, in March 2013 and Nayarit, Mexico, in February 2014.

This increased focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons is an important development and has a positive and uniting effect on international discussions about nuclear weapons. The more the international community discusses and understands the scale of these consequences and of the risks involved, the clearer the case and the stronger the sense of urgency become for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The government of Austria is proud to host the 3rd international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons which will take place on 8 and 9 December 2014 at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. With this conference, Austria wishes to strengthen the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and to contribute to the growing momentum to firmly anchor the humanitarian imperative in all global efforts dealing with nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament.

The Vienna Conference will

- be open to all interested parties. All states will receive official invitations and will be invited to nominate experts and/or senior officials. International organizations and civil society representatives with relevant expertise will also be welcome;

- will feature facts based discussions and expert presentations and aims to allow for an interactive debate among participants;

- Will also provide delegations an opportunity for statements of a more general nature;

A limited sponsorship program for LDC participants is forseen.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Eastern countries (of the EU) oppose EU climate goals.

The EUObserver, By Peter Teffer, .October 2, 2014

Brussels – With only three weeks to go before the European Council is to make a final decision on new climate goals for 2030, six Central and Eastern European countries have declared their opposition to the proposed targets.

In an effort to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the European Commission proposed in January 2014 several targets for 2030.

Greenhouse gas emissions should be 40 percent lower; the market share of renewable energy should be 27 percent and energy efficiency should be improved by 30 percent.

In March and June, the European Council failed to agree on the commission’s proposal. When the EU government leaders meet again on 23 and 24 October in Brussels, they hope to reach a “final decision on the new climate and energy policy framework”.

However, the ministers and deputy ministers for environment of six Central and Eastern European countries, declared on Tuesday (September 30) their opposition to binding targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The six countries are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.

The six ask for a framework that “reflects different regional needs and circumstances”. The energy mix differs greatly among member states and reaching the targets will be easier for some than others.

The EU share of renewable energy consumption was 14.1 percent in 2012, according to Eurostat, but that average conceals regional differences.

Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic are below that average, with shares between 9.6 and 11.2 percent. Most of the six rely heavily on coal, which is one of the energy sources that emits the most carbon dioxide.

The question then is, which targets will be binding for the whole of EU, and which for each individual member state.

A group of 13 mostly western and northern European states, called the Green Growth Group, is in favour of a binding greenhouse gas target of 40 percent for member states.

But in March it said the “Council should agree on a binding EU renewables energy target which should not be translated into binding national targets by the EU, leaving greater flexibility for Member States to develop their own renewable energy strategies.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

(MENAFN – QNA – October 2, 2014) Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) – according to Qatar News Agency – will remain closed from Sunday, October 5th to Thursday October 9th to observe Eid Al Adha, a bourse notification said Thursday.

The bourse cited Qatar Central Bank and Qatar Financial Markets Authority circular which said, “It’s decided the QSE holidays for Eid Al-Adha will be five working days”.

QSE management wished Eid Mubarak to investors, citizens and residents.

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

But then see also:

from The Huffington Post / By Charity R. Carney
July 3, 2014 (and this had 500 comments!)

I Worked at Hobby Lobby and Saw the Troubling World of Corporate Christianity
Can Americans tell the difference between religion and consumption?

 www.alternet.org/economy/i-worked…

(A Hobby Lobby store is Pantation, Florida is shown seen on June 30, 2014 in Plantation, Florida)

It was the most difficult job I’ve ever had. I’ve been a history professor for years, toiled as a graduate assistant before that, and even did a stint as an IT technician. But the three months I worked at Hobby Lobby stocking googly eyes and framing baseball cards takes the cake. I wanted a break from academia but it ended up not being a break at all. I found myself deconstructing and analyzing all aspects of my job — from the Bible in the break room to the prayers before employee meetings and the strange refusal of the company to use bar codes in its stores. (The rumor amongst employees was that bar codes were the Mark of the Beast, but that rumor remains unsubstantiated.)

Three months was enough to convince me that there is something larger at work and the SCOTUS decision only confirms my belief that corporate Christianity (and Christianity that is corporate) has made it difficult for Americans to discern religion from consumption.

As a scholar of religious history, I observe the way that faith intersects with culture. I study and publish on megachurches and my interpretation of this week’s events is informed not only by my experiences as an employee at Hobby Lobby but also my knowledge of recent religious trends. My biggest question after hearing the decision was not about the particular opinions or practical repercussions (which are significant and have far-reaching and dangerous consequences). Instead, my first thought was: “What is it about our cultural fabric that enables us to attribute religious rights to a corporate entity?” In the United States we have increasingly associated Christianity with capitalism and the consequences affect both corporations and churches. It’s a comfortable relationship and seemingly natural since so much of our history is built on those two forces. But it’s also scary.

Hobby Lobby is a for-profit craft chain, not a church. I’m stating the obvious just in case there was any confusion because — let’s face it — it’s confusing. It’s as confusing as those googly eyes (do you really need three different sizes, Hobby Lobby, really?). Today, we see giant churches that operate like corporations and now corporations have some of the same rights as churches. Many megachurches adopt “seeker-sensitive” approaches to attract members, relying on entertainment and conspicuous consumption to promote their services. After a while, the spiritual and secular lines start to blur and the Christian and corporate blend. Ed Young, Jr.’s Fellowship Church, for instance, started a “90-Day Challenge” for members. The church asks congregants to pledge 10 percent of their income and promises “that if you tithe for 90 days and God doesn’t hold true to his promise of blessings, we will refund 100 percent of your tithe.”

Megachurches advertise on television, billboards, the Internet. They have coffee shops and gift stores. Some feature go-cart tracks, game centers, even oil changes. Many are run by pastors that also serve as CEOs. So when Hobby Lobby seeks similar religious rights as these very corporate churches, we have to reconsider our definition of religious organizations and maybe even say “why not?” We have normalized corporate Christianity to the point that the Supreme Court deems it natural for businesses to hold “sincere” religious beliefs. The religious landscape in the United States, including our familiarity with megachurches and celebrity pastors, certainly contributes to the acceptance of the church/company conundrum.

The “why not” can be answered, however, with the real costs of the decision. Women’s reproductive rights are compromised. The religious freedom of employees for these corporations is compromised. The sanctity of our religious institutions is also compromised. To protect religious pluralism and freedom of the individual we need clear demarcations between what is spiritual and what is economical. Otherwise, we sacrifice the soul of American religion and all that makes it good and why I study it on the altar of industry. I can’t get those three months at Hobby Lobby back (or the praise muzak out of my head) but I can see more clearly the dangers of allowing corporate Christianity to become the norm. Without clear boundaries, we risk distorting the very idea of religious freedom and the rich, diverse religious culture that makes us who we are. And that’s tragic — maybe not as tragic as praise muzak, but tragic nonetheless.

Carney is a historian of religion, gender, and the South.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Wednesday October 1, 2014, after all those UN Member States’ Heads have left New York, the UN was still closed to the NGOs – supposedly for security reasons – the guards say this will hold on until next week – so it will be three weeks without “Civil Society” at the UN except for the handful handpicked by the UN itself. So much if you had any illusion that the UNSG hullabaloo about the enlargement of his entourage to include Civil Society in his deliberations was intended to lead to the new post-2015 world. Oh yes – we posted the harmless poem that was touted as the Civil Society contribution to the deliberations by that handful of participants.

Now we find that Grist publishes the analyses of the pure fact that the UN can in effect not aim at true results, and that it can only at best paint fake blue onto a heavy clouded sky – so please just know that you are being had and understand the reasons why. But also do not give up to despair – this because you are right in what you are fighting for and can rxpect that the truth will break through because it does make even economic sense. If allowed in some countries it will lead to alliances of States so it spreads eventually outside the UN that at best could then be used to bless the results.

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Grist Daily posed 2014,today, October 14 2014, the question – “Is there any hope for international climate talks?”

A binding international treaty with firm emission limits just isn’t happening. Now attention is turning to a bottom-up, “pledge and review” strategy. Can it work?

By David Roberts

I don’t write very often about international climate talks because it’s super-depressing and nothing ever changes. Which I guess characterizes most things I write about, but something about climate talks in particular really drains the spirit. Nonetheless! Let’s take a fresh look at the landscape.

The original idea behind the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks was simple. Climate change is a classic tragedy of the commons. When emitting greenhouse gases, a country gets all the economic benefit but only a tiny fraction of the harm; conversely, when mitigating emissions, a country pays all the cost but receives only a tiny fraction of the benefit. I wrote about this in a recent post and Harvard’s Robert Stavins sums it up nicely in a recent op-ed:

“Greenhouse gases mix globally in the atmosphere, and so damages are spread around the world, regardless of where the gases were emitted. Thus, any country taking action incurs the costs, but the benefits are distributed globally. This presents a classic free-rider problem: It is in the economic self-interest of virtually no country to take unilateral action, and each can reap the benefits of any countries that do act. This is why international cooperation is essential.”

This has always been the logic of UNFCCC talks: burden sharing. Determine the proper way to distribute the load, and then sign a binding treaty to insure that all countries do their appointed part.

The same logic that yields the need for international cooperation, however, has made it virtually impossible to achieve in practice. Turns out national governments don’t like burdens! So the dispute over how to properly divide the burden between developed and developing countries has been as endless as it has been intractable. Early on in the UNFCCC process, developing countries like China and India were effectively exempted from the obligation to reduce emissions. What the U.S. and Europe have wanted ever since is to ditch the (arguably outmoded) developed vs. developing dichotomy, acknowledge that China et al. are going to be major sources of emissions growth this century, and sign a treaty in which all countries, including China, commit to binding targets. China disagrees, as do India and all the other countries that have so far escaped targets.

The result has been stalemate. And despite feverish hopes in the run-up to each new meeting (“last chance!”), nothing has happened to dislodge that dynamic. Yet the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris are supposed to be all about a “binding treaty.” What to do?

In many quarters, a comprehensive, binding treaty with national and global carbon targets is the holy grail. But its pursuit has led to nothing but a cycle of high hopes and crushing disappointment. There is very little hope of such a treaty in Paris, or maybe ever. What’s more, the focus on burden sharing has made the meetings a defensive, angst-ridden affair, everyone blaming everyone else while trying to minimize their own responsibility.

Most of the world’s major emitters agree that collective action on climate change is badly needed. Yet the meetings meant to facilitate such action produced little of it.
Something had to change.

The idea that’s gained traction since the 2009 talks in Copenhagen is that it’s time to abandon the “burden sharing” frame altogether, give up on a binding treaty, and shift to a regime known as “pledge and review,” in which countries pledge specific policies and reductions and agree to have those policies and reductions internationally verified. Rather than being forced to accept a target, every country is simply asked to put on record what it is willing to contribute. Peer pressure and economic competition are supposed to do the rest. This is more or less what came out of Copenhagen, and Durban in 2011, and what will likely come out of Paris in 2015.

Those pledges are unlikely to add up to what’s needed to avoid 2 degrees C of warming, the stated international goal, any time soon. An outfit called Climate Interactive is tracking the pledges and adding them up; so far, they leave us on a path to exceed 4 degrees, which would be a disaster. But as John Podesta told Jeff Goodell (in the latter’s must-read story on China and climate), “If we wait until we have a binding international agreement that actually puts us on track for 2 C, we’ll hit 2 C before we get an agreement. But we have to get started if we hope to get to the destination.” Fred Pearce has a nice rundown of this general line of thinking here. It also finds clear expression in a recent op-ed from retired senators Tim Wirth and Tom Daschle.

Wirth has been working in and around international climate talks for as long as they’ve been going on. When I talked to him about pledge-and-review, he grew most animated when discussing the sheer torpor of the UNFCCC talks. “Everybody’s so depressed by the whole thing,” he said. “It’s a problem, it really is. They need a shot of energy! They need some enthusiasm! They need a new framework! Any time you run into a political dead end, you gotta change the rules. This is a way of changing the rules.”

Wirth says pledge-and-review has a chance of working because the economics have shifted and clean energy investment is increasingly in countries’ self-interest. He cites the recent New Climate Economy research project led by Nicholas Stern. Nations competing to outdo each other in these vast new markets could spark a “race to the top,” a sense of energy and progress that has been sorely missing. “We’re not saying we’re in the best of all possible worlds, by any means,” Wirth said, “but if we do it relatively soon, it’s going to end up being in everyone’s best interests.”

Wirth has a close eye on this November’s APEC meetings, where Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are likely to discuss climate change (among other things). A substantial bilateral agreement on climate would bring momentum into Paris, giving, Wirth laughed, “the U.S. a chance to hide behind China’s skirts and China a chance to hide behind the U.S.’s skirts. That’s important politically.” The U.S. and China being the world’s two largest markets, other countries would be pulled along. “The U.S./China relationship is so much more important than anything else in the world,” Wirth said.

Whatever the prospects of a race to the top, there remains the question of climate justice — what to do about those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, who did little to cause the problem. Wirth points to the Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to transfer money from the developed to the developing world. But the nature of those funds is in hot dispute. In their piece, Wirth and Daschle write:

Finance is the final key to a global deal. At Copenhagen in 2009, the United States memorably pledged that developed countries would mobilize $100 billion a year in climate change assistance for the rest of the world by 2020. At a time of fiscal retrenchment in the West, the chance of that pledge being met in the form of additional development assistance is approximately zero. The pledge is eminently achievable, however, in the context of global energy investment, which has an annual flow a dozen times as large as the amount pledged in Copenhagen.

And when I talked to Wirth, that’s what he emphasized: opportunities to channel private investment money to developing countries. It appears that the climate fund is primarily going to consist in such investments.

But where does this leave the world’s poorest countries and low-lying islands? There’s a lot of adaptation to be done in those areas and not all of it is going to be a profit opportunity. Will the fund end up being just another instance of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism,” wherein wealthy westerners descend on countries reeling from misfortune and treat them as business opportunities to exploit?

The reason climate-justice advocates have always relied on the UNFCCC framework is that it’s the only venue in which the claims of vulnerable nations are guaranteed a hearing. If the meetings become nothing more than a forum for mutually advantageous bilateral and multilateral dealmaking, where is the pressure to do right by the vulnerable, much less any kind of guarantee?

I’ve never heard a good answer to that question. I sure don’t have one. But we return again to an ineluctable fact: The chances of the U.S. Senate ratifying a binding climate treaty are nil. The chances of it ratifying one that is also supported unanimously by all 195 or so countries of the UNFCCC are even niller. So what else is there to do?

“The building blocks approach, bottom up, is the only way to go,” says Wirth. “We’re not going to get a top-down agreement. So you gotta go the other direction.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The 23 September UN Climate Summit was a multi-dimensional event which brought together more than 120 Heads of State and Government, along with leaders from civil society and business, to catalyze ambitious action to address climate change. During July and August, UN-NGLS led an open, transparent nomination process to identify civil society speakers and attendees for the Summit. Ultimately 50 candidates were invited to attend, 18 of whom were provided with travel funding.


Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a 26-year old poet from the Marshall Islands – who is also a teacher, a journalist, a founder of an environmental NGO and a mother – was selected to speak during the opening ceremony of the Summit. She has since been widely commended for delivering the most memorable presentation of the day: a short statement followed by a stirring poem addressed to her daughter, titled “Dear Matafele Peinam.” She brought many to tears and received a long standing ovation in the General Assembly Hall.
A video that accompanied her performance, and the full text of the poem, can be found on her blog: jkijiner.wordpress.com/

Videos of her statement and poem are circling the globe, with more than 350,000 views combined in the last week. Watch her full presentation here:
Statement and poem by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Climate Summit 2014 – Opening Ceremony

More than 120 articles have been written worldwide already about the messages she brought to the Summit, including by several major international media outlets. A tracking document can be viewed here: bit.ly/KJKarticlesClimateSummit

Currently, more than 60 articles convey perspectives and recommendations from many of the 49 additional civil society participants selected through the UN-NGLS process. The tracking document for these articles is available here:
 bit.ly/NGLS-CSO_Climate_Summit_Pr…

The global resonance of the messages brought to the Summit by this diverse array of civil society representatives illustrates the importance and value of civil society participation in UN processes. UN-NGLS expresses its highest respect and appreciation to all of the civil society representatives who brought their hopes and expertise to UN Headquarters for the Summit – several of whom had never left their countries before. UN-NGLS thanks the Climate Change Support Team in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General for supporting this civil society engagement.

For more information about outcomes of the UN Climate Summit, please visit:
 www.un-ngls.org
Email:  info at un-ngls.org

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

THE POEM:

dear matafele peinam,

you are a seven month old sunrise of gummy smiles

you are bald as an egg and bald as the buddha

you are thunder thighs and lightning shrieks

so excited for bananas, hugs and

our morning walks past the lagoon

dear matafele peinam,

i want to tell you about that lagoon

that lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against the sunrise

some men say that one day

that lagoon will devour you

they say it will gnaw at the shoreline

chew at the roots of your breadfruit trees

gulp down rows of your seawalls

and crunch your island’s shattered bones

they say you, your daughter

and your granddaughter, too

will wander rootless

with only a passport to call home

dear matafele peinam,

don’t cry

mommy promises you

no one

will come and devour you

no greedy whale of a company sharking through

political seas

no backwater bullying of businesses with broken morals no blindfolded

bureaucracies gonna push

this mother ocean over

the edge

no one’s drowning, baby

no one’s moving

no one’s losing

their homeland

no one’s gonna become

a climate change refugee

or should i say

no one else

to the carteret islanders of papua new guinea

and to the taro islanders of fiji

i take this moment

to apologize to you

we are drawing the line here

because baby we are going to fight

your mommy daddy

bubu jimma your country and president too

we will all fight

and even though there are those

hidden behind platinum titles

who like to pretend

that we don’t exist

that the marshall islands

tuvalu

kiribati

maldives

and typhoon haiyan in the philippines

and floods of pakistan, algeria, and colombia

and all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and tidalwaves

didn’t exist

still

there are those

who see us

hands reaching out

fists raising up

banners unfurling

megaphones booming

and we are

canoes blocking coal ships

we are

the radiance of solar villages

we are

the rich clean soil of the farmer’s past

we are

petitions blooming from teenage fingertips

we are

families biking, recycling, reusing,

engineers dreaming, designing, building,

artists painting, dancing, writing

we are spreading the word

and there are thousands out on the street

marching with signs

hand in hand

chanting for change NOW

they’re marching for you, baby

they’re marching for us

because we deserve to do more than just

survive

we deserve

to thrive

dear matafele peinam,

you are eyes heavy

with drowsy weight

so just close those eyes, baby

and sleep in peace

because we won’t let you down

you’ll see

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Our original posting date was September 25, 2011, and we do this re-posting because we were just reminded of the article by a comment I received from India from seemingly a non-political person. We wonder ourselves if that article is still relevant after this week’s events at the UN, and on the eve of a new meeting today in Washington between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

—————————————————————————————–

THE LINK IS HERE AND YOU CAN READ IT BUT NOT COPY IT:
 www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.as…

of September 25, 2011.

MENAFN – stands for Middle East North Africa – read ARAB  Financial Network – it is   a Delaware-based corporation with a wholly owned subsidiary in Amman, Jordan.

So, it must be an American Oil Industry enterprise, probably close to the Republican party,  with a Jordanian address as well.

The site [www.menafn.com] offers regional and global business content in both Arabic and English. It attracts over 340,000 highly targeted visitors on a regular basis.

It has a weekly e-Newsletter that reaches 55,000 subscribers. It summarizes major business news and events, market data and research for the Middle East region and the globe.

We hope that our readers in the Arab world see this posting of ours on www.SustainabiliTank.info so they understand the depth of the hole their leaders have dug for the Arab world. There is no way to bitch about Israel – if you are not ready to acknowledge the Israelis that try to find a way to peace. You will not have peace if you do not recognize Israel.
If some business interest thinks they can profit from the state of war the time has come that the Arab World distances itself from them.

——————————-

BUT THE ARTICLE IS AS FOLLOWS – AND WE GOT IT FROM URI AVNERY HIMSELF.

WHY DID MENAFN NOT POST THAT ARTICLE AS ORIGINALLY POSTED?  - THEY TOOK IT VERBATIM FROM AVNERY AND DID NOT MENTION HIM –  NEITHER DID THEY SAY  THAT AVNERY, – OR AT LEAST “THE WRITER” –  IS AN ISRAELI.  THIS SHORTCOMING POSES BIG QUESTION ON THE CREDIBILITY OF THIS MENA – MIDDLE EAST NORTH AFRICA – READ ARAB – FINANCIAL REPORT.

THIS REMINDS US OF THE ARAB SPRING, TAHRIR SQUARE,  LEADER WHOM I ASKED IN VIENNA, BEFORE AN AUDIENCE  - IF AN ISRAELI LIKE URI AVNERY APPROACHES YOU WOULD YOU OUTSTRETCH YOUR HAND IN PEACE?  SHE ANSWERED FLATLY – “NO! HE IS A ZIONIST.”

THIS IS THE REAL DOWNFALL OF THE ARAB WORLD – AND IN NO WAY CAN I HAVE SYMPATHY FOR SUCH HYPOCRASY.

WHY DID NOT THIS MENAFN ACKNOWLEDGE URI AVNERY? WHY DID THEY NOT HAVE THE GUTS TO SAY – WELCOME ABOARD – HERE YOU ARE THE ISRAELI WE WANT TO TALK TO.  IN THE LIGHT OF THIS LACK OF HONESTY AND LACK OF COURAGE  -  I THINJK NOW THAT URI AVNERY HAS INDEED GOOD REASON TO RETHINK HIS NOBLE VIEWS.

————————–

Uri Avnery

September 24, 2011

Abu Mazen’s Gamble

A WONDERFUL SPEECH. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that’s politics, OK?

IT MAY be superfluous – almost insulting to the reader – to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength – Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis – only they – who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

No Occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. No Naqba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It’s the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple – the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

THE TRAGIC hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas “a plucked chicken”.

Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the center of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.

Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a nonentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of “free officers” that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: “Sit, Anwar!”

To the utter amazement of the experts – and especially the Israeli ones – this “nonentity” took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas’ status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat’s under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: “my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, “a well-tailored idiot.”). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

BUT WAS it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: Yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Scores of international statesmen and -women, including the leader of the world’s only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: “So what did they gain from it?” But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas’ move provided it, at least for the time being.

BARACK OBAMA’s miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America’s status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libyans against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for reelection.

IT WAS also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn’t. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The State of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him – will be remembered. The “plucked chicken” is soaring into the sky.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We do not assume for a moment that we know the facts – this like when most patriotic Americans were stuck with the Joe McCarthy hearings. Most important – What were the convictions mentioned here? Not all convictions in the USA are born equal – who knows? Some might be badges of honor!! It would be interesting to find out!


Politics: Armed contractor with criminal record was on elevator with Obama in Atlanta.

By Carol D. Leonnig September 30, 2014 – THE WASHINGTON POST.


There were some heated moments Tuesday when Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about two security breaches at the White House, one in 2011 and one less than two weeks ago. (The Washington Post)

A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident.

The incident occurred as Obama appeared at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis.

The contractor did not comply when Secret Service agents asked him to stop using a phone camera to videotape the president in the elevator, according to the people familiar with the incident.

Agents questioned him, and used a database check to learn of his criminal history.

When a supervisor from the private security firm approached and learned of the agents’ concern, the contractor was fired on the spot and agreed to turn over his gun — surprising agents, who had not realized he was armed during his encounter with Obama.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he was appalled when whistleblowers came forward to him with this account. The Washington Post confirmed details of the event with other people familiar with the review.

“You have a convicted felon within arms reach of the president and they never did a background check,” Chaffetz said. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the President and his family. “

Elements of the breach were first reported Tuesday afternoon by the Washington Examiner.



Chaffetz added: “His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”

It is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Secret Service, whose director, Pierson, drew criticism Tuesday from lawmakers in both parties during a combative hearing that focused on her agency’s security lapses. The hearing focused on a man who was able to foil Secret Service officers by jumping the White House fence Sept. 19 and also a 2011 shooting at the residence that the Secret Service failed to identify and properly investigate.

The elevator incident exposed another serious breakdown in the Secret Service’s safety protocols: this one meant to keep the president safe from strangers when he travels to events outside the White House. In close quarters or small events, when the president is on the road, all of the people who could have access to him must be checked in advance for weapons and any criminal history.

In response to a question at the hearing Tuesday, Pierson said she briefs the president “100 percent of the time” when his personal security has been breached. However, she said Tuesday that has only happened one time this year: Soon after Omar Gonzalez jumped over the White House fence Sept. 19 and was able to burst into the mansion.

A Secret Service spokesman said the agency would provide a response soon.

Some elements of the Atlanta incident were first reported Tuesday afternoon on the Washington Examiner’s Web site.

Under a security program called the Arm’s Reach Program, Secret Service advance staff run potential staff, contractors, hotel employees, invited guests and volunteers through several databases, including a national criminal information registry, and records kept by the CIA, NSA and Department of Defense, among others. Anyone who is found to have a criminal history, mental illness, or other indications of risk is barred from entry.

Local police and federal officers are not checked in the same way under the Arm’s Reach Program, with the Secret Service presuming they meet the safety standards because of their employment. But private security contractors would be checked, two former agents who worked on advance planning for presidential trips said.

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

REALLY?

Politics | News Analysis
Showing Concern for the President, Even While Criticizing Him

By PETER BAKER SEPT. 30, 2014

WASHINGTON — President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.

“The American people want to know: Is the president safe?” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the Republican committee chairman who has made it his mission to investigate all sorts of Obama administration missteps, solemnly intoned as he opened a hearing into the lapses on Tuesday.
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Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy. Although the target of the legislative scrutiny is the Secret Service, not the president, the furor over security has left the White House on the defensive. At Tuesday’s Capitol Hill hearing and at the daily White House news briefing, the questions fueled an air of scandal: Who knew what when, and was there a cover-up?

Democrats joined in the grilling, and some were as tough as or tougher than any Republican on the Secret Service director, Julia Pierson. . But privately, some Democratic officeholders and strategists have complained that the episode contributes to a broader impression that the Obama administration’s competence has come under fire on a variety of fronts, including last year’s botched rollout of Mr. Obama’s health care program, the breakdown of services at the Veterans Affairs Department and the handling of a series of international crises.

Coming just weeks before midterm elections, they said, the intense focus on the matter might further undercut confidence in the government Mr. Obama runs even though it was hardly his fault an intruder with a knife made it into the White House.

“This is an opportunity to make it seem like nobody’s in charge in the Obama administration, even though it’s almost certainly not the case that political appointees could have done anything to change the facts in this situation,” said Matt Bennett, a White House aide under President Bill Clinton and now vice president of Third Way, a political group. “I’m not surprised that they’re doing this.”

Like other Democrats, Mr. Bennett said Congress had a duty to exercise oversight over the Secret Service and investigate what went wrong, and he said serious questions had been raised in recent days. At the same time, Democrats said, if it happened to damage the perception of the president in the process, Republicans would not object.

“I do think for a lot of Republican congressmen, this is a twofer,” said Erik Smith, a former House Democratic aide and a campaign adviser to Mr. Obama. “The Secret Service may be in the line of fire, but they’re not the only target.”

Not every Democrat sees it that way. Paul Begala, no stranger to partisan warfare as a longtime adviser to Mr. Clinton, said Republican lawmakers were asking the right questions out of genuine concern. “This is totally on the level,” he said. “They’re acting like real human beings and patriotic Americans.”
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Other Democrats said Republicans had good reason to preserve that impression. “So far there is bipartisan outrage and concern,” said Margie Omero, a strategist for Democratic candidates for nearly 20 years who has studied midterm voters in swing Senate races this year. “But at this time of year, candidates will try just about anything to find an opening. It could definitely backfire if Republicans look like they’re making political hay out of a threat to the president’s life.”

Republicans rejected the notion that their inquiry had any political implications. “This is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of a subcommittee looking into the episode. “This is an American issue. I don’t want it to be the political football, but we in the United States of America are self-critical. It’s one of the beauties of our nation is we do hold ourselves accountable.”

And they were aided by the tough statements voiced at Tuesday’s hearing by several of the committee’s Democrats, who told Ms. Pierson that they did not have faith in her leadership and accused her of caring more about protecting her reputation than the president’s life.

While the director of the Secret Service is appointed by the president, the White House under either party typically defers to the agency on how to handle the president’s security. Even when a president is angry at missteps — as reports suggest Mr. Obama was after a 2011 shooting at the White House when one of his daughters was home — he rarely expresses that publicly. For one, it might come across as impolitic. For another, it might offend the very people a president depends on most.

So even though Mr. Obama had nothing to do with the various problems involving his security beyond appointing Ms. Pierson last year, his White House now finds itself in the position of defending the Secret Service to a degree.

At his daily briefing on Tuesday, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, was buffeted with sharp questions about when the president found out about the intruder and whether the Secret Service had been candid in describing that incident and others. While acknowledging concerns over the incident, Mr. Earnest gave Ms. Pierson an endorsement at a time when some critics are calling for her resignation.

“What we saw was a willingness that she demonstrated in testifying before Congress under oath on live television today, a commitment to leading an agency with a very difficult mission,” he told reporters. “She is somebody who took responsibility for the incident that occurred about 10 days ago. She also took responsibility for ensuring that the necessary reforms were implemented to ensure it never happens again. That is a sign of leadership.”

And that is a conclusion that Republicans can disagree with, all with Mr. Obama’s interests at heart.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We knew Hank as a friend and tennis partner of Ernie Schneider who was the editor of the writings of Mr. Herman Kahn of the Hudson Institute (the Herman on the Hudson). We met Hank at the house of Suzy and Ernie Schneider. Suzy who was a daughter to a honored Austrian family was a colleague of my wife at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City and the Schneiders and Laventhols lived in Croton on the Hudson.

Hank liked to talk politics but professionally was rather a relaxed painter who liked classic music and jazz. We praised his work, and for disclosure I must say that we are proud of one of his piano/Chopin prints that hangs in our Vienna living room next to a New Orleans Jazz scene done by our son Gil.

When I first wrote the review I wanted to make reference to Hank’s whole range of work and realized that some of the reviews of his work were under a wrong spelling of his name that used the letter “a” instead of the “o” in Laventhol. I did not think that he should suffer from that seemingly widespread mistake and mentioned this other spelling as well. It turns out that Ms. Laventhol is upset with this alternate spelling – so I am taking it of my posting but have no power over all those other articles one finds on the internet.

Also, and this is more substantial, I was not careful in giving credits to the source of the material I quoted in that first posting. Now let me add here that probably all the photos of the paintings by Hank Laventhol were taken by his wife – Josay Laventhol. Probably much of the data about him was also taken from biography written by his wife, though I am sure I peppered it with material from some of the other reviews as well. Sorry if all of this has hurt feelings of the family.


THE FOLLOWING IS PART OF OUR ORIGINAL REVIEW OF DECEMBER 26, 2011.

HANK  LAVENTHOL  

Birth name     Henry Lee Laventhol

Born               21 December 1927

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Died               21 February 2001

Somers, New York

Field              painting, graphics, sculpture,

photography

Movement     neosurrealism

Laventhol’s mysteriously romantic  landscapes and  multiple  images evoke dream states and double meanings.” Pictures on Exhibit. N.Y.C.

shell wars, oil on linen, 20”X26”        Image 1

Hank Laventhol, an American painter,   made his early career in Europe. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Laventhol graduated Yale University with a B.A. in Fine Arts and did post graduate studies at Columbia University. At age 32 he left his business life in New York City for Europe to pursue his early vocation and life long interest in art. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy and eventually spent ten years in Europe, making his home in Mallorca, Spain. He had four solo shows in London and exhibited in  major cities in Western Europe.  He returned to the United States for good in 1970, settling in Westchester County, New York, with his  Dutch born wife.

Trained as a sculptor he  worked in many other media, including painting, print making, drawing and photography.  He said “ they all mesh for me.” Laventhol painted on wooden panels prepared with gesso using the ancient egg tempera technique until he towed an American couple  in a failing rental car to a garage outside Madrid.  In gratitude, they sent him a roll of Belgian linen which started him painting on canvas using oil and acrylics.

He was a master printer,  specializing in multi plate color etchings and aquatints, a demanding and precise process that provided him with a variety of color and texture, unrivaled by any other etching technique. He owned two Wright presses and pulled his own limited edition  prints. Publishers include Associated American Artists,  New York Graphic Society, Original Print Collectors Group Ltd., Georges Visat, Paris, and Pierre Chave, Vence, France.  Laventhol was a guest lecturer at Pratt Graphic Center, New York City and wrote articles about print making,   specializing in how to achieve perfect register in multiple color aquatint.

In the United States, his work was seen at four solo shows in New York City as well as  one man and group  shows across America.

Laventhol’s work is in corporate and private collections, museums and libraries, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Yale University Museum, the New York Public Library Print Collection, the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Bibliotèque Nationale,  Paris, France.  Laventhol has been listed in Benezit, the definitive international  Directory of Artists.

Published illustrated portfolios include: “Le Miroir Aux Alouettes” by Georges Visat, Paris, with six color aquatint etchings and a poem by Andre Serini. Later porfolios include “Les Crises” and “Eyedeas.”

Eggs, eyes, roses, and flying torsos were recurring themes. Some critics considered him a surrealist. Laventhol, however, preferred to think of his work as dealing with fantasy realism.

* * *

Hank Laventhol, a gregarious,  kind man with a fine, broad mind  enjoyed life to the fullest. Besides being a disciplined, hard worker he had a wide array of interests and hobbies. His art was his passion, but he rarely started a day without an early game of tennis. He was an eclectic music lover and an opera and chamber music buff.  It was hilarious to hear him sing along with all the voices while listening to an opera as he worked. He was well versed in American folk music and loved playing  his classical  guitar  -  not well,  he admitted. During the 1960s he sought out small locales all over Europe to tape indigenous music – Flamenco in Spain, Fado in Portugal, Stornelli in Italy and jazz in Northern Europe – using a huge reel to reel recorder.  Mexican and South American indigenous music  was another interest added to his music  collection .

He spoke fluent Spanish and Italian and said he knew enough French,  Dutch and German  to defend himself. Whatever the topic, he communicated. His sense of humor got him past being embarrassed. An adventurous traveler with an infallible sense of direction, Laventhol met his Dutch born wife over a chessboard in Mallorca, Spain, and was kind enough to let her win a few times during the ensuing 40 years. An imaginative chef, he made up his own multi cultural recipes. Stuffed trout was served with the head on. Asian wok-cooked food was a treat. Dill, unavailable in Mallorca, was imported from the U.S. to pickle a fresh crop of cucumbers in large clay pots placed around his Mallorca rental house.  When  they started fizzing,  it was time to serve them to his  “expat” friends, together with his amazingly good  baked beans. He used a wood chip smoker to prepare  fish and fowl and made his own gravlax and seviche. He said eating Dutch New Herring in the Netherlands was a life altering experience.

Frugal artistic life never held his ingenious imagination back. Any potential problem or road block was dealt with and solutions found. The Mallorcan car mechanic built an hibachi that was carried from his tiny fishing boat, which he called,  a “one lunger”, to friends’ houses. The same mechanic fabricated a roof rack for a convertible VW beetle  to carry paintings to art shows. Laventhol’s talents  converted what he saw as poetry into striking atmospheric work with a touch of the mystical.

* * *

1991                                                                       1992 – self portrait
hand /eye wind mill

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