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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the pen of Prof.Robert Reich:

I Urge You to Boycott United Airlines

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Facebook Page
11 April 17

The night before last, United overbooked its plane traveling from Chicago to Louisville. It offered $400 and a hotel for passengers to voluntarily give up their seats. When it had no takers it upped the offer to $800, but still no one volunteered. So United randomly selected four passengers to be removed. Three obliged, but the fourth said he was a doctor and had to be at a hospital in morning and refused to deplane. As a result, the company forcibly dragged the man off the flight (see video, below it says – but we do not post videos).

Yesterday, United issued a statement via Twitter apologizing “for having to reaccommodate” its customers. Reaccommodate? This doesn’t look like any reaccommodation I’ve ever seen.

There are now only 4 major carriers left, including United. Nonetheless, if you have any choice at all, I urge you to boycott this disreputable and irresponsible airline.

What do you think?

———————————————-

We post this because we sympathize with that passenger. As it turned out those seats were needed for airline personnel and we remember how years ago we were inconvenienced on an EL AL flight by that airline believing, as State owned, their personnel have over-riding priority.
We avoid EL AL since then.

we believe these are symptoms of a police state; An atmosphere of might makes right.

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

ALSO YESTERDAY:

Sean Spicer apologized Tuesday after saying Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II.

The White House press secretary had made the comment earlier Tuesday in an effort to shame Russia’s alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his use of chemical weapons.

“I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week, using chemical weapons and gas. Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison,” Spicer said. “And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”

Spicer, who said he was “aware” that gas chambers were used during the Holocaust, later said he should have “stayed focused” on Assad and asked people to forgive him.

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

With people getting in more information and having time to contemplate the Washington disasters -here some further notes:

DELTA AIRLINES broadcast – We beat the competition – not the customers.

The CHINESE MEDIA noted the bleeding doctor that was beaten up and dragged on the floor screaming was Asian – so you our people see how we are treated by Americans in their land.
Oh well we outside China may think that China is doing things even worse to protesters – but
who is to tell them so, if that is what they saw is democracy?

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sehr geehrte Solarstammtischbesucherinnen und Solarstammtischbesucher!

“Batterien für die Energiewende” lautet das Thema unseres Solarstammtisches von EUROSOLAR AUSTRIA am 20.04.2017 ab 18:30 Uhr.

Uhrzeit: ab 18:30 Uhr

Tagesthema: Batteriespeicher für die Energiewende

Referent: Simon Noringbauer, Technischer Berater im Außendienst für OÖ/NÖ/W und Bgl., Fronius International GmbH

Moderation: Solarstammtisch-Koordinator

Ort: A-1060 Wien, Wallgasse 32, Restaurant “Zum Hagenthaler”; www.hagenthaler.at

Erreichbarkeit: www.wienerlinien.at, Westbahnhof U-Bahn U3, U6, Straßenbahn 6, 18 (Station “Mariahilfer Gürtel” vis a vis Westbahnhof 5 Minuten zu Fuß vom Westbahnhof)

TITEL UND REFERENTENVORSCHLÄGE FÜR ZUKÜNFTIGE SOLARSTAMMTISCHE BITTE SENDEN AN:  info at eurosolar.at

BITTE NICHT VERGESSEN, BITTE POTENZIELLE KANDIDATEN INFORMIEREN:

Verleihung der EUROPÄISCHEN SOLARPREISE findet in Wien statt. Einreichungen möglich unter: www.eurosolar.de/de/index.php/sol…
Verleihung der ÖSTERREICHISCHEN SOLARPREISE am 30.09.2017 in Krumpendorf am Wörthersee. Einreichung unter: www.eurosolar.at/index.php/de/akt…

TERMINE UNTER bzw. EINGEBEN:

 www.oekonews.at/?mdoc_id=1112124

EUROSOLAR AUSTRIA auf Facebook: www.facebook.com/eurosolaraustri…

FALTER: Artikel über die OMV, sehr zu empfehlen

Sonnige Grüße und frohe Ostern wünscht

René Bolz

Solarstammtisch-Koordinator EUROSOLAR AUSTRIA

www.eurosolar.at

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Einfach NEIN senden, wenn Sie keine Einladungen mehr wünschen.

Click here to Reply, Reply to all, or Forward

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Jacom Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research

The 6th International Conference on Deserts, Drylands & Desertification

November 6-9, 2017 — Sede Boqer Campus, Israel

Dear colleagues and friends,

Following the success of the previous five international biennial conferences (2006-2014) on Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification, the organization of the 2017 DDD conference is now in full gear and the conference is scheduled to take place at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus, between November 6-9, 2017.

The central theme of the 2017 conference is “Combating desertification and dryland management-theory and practice” with particular emphasis on the natural sciences, but without neglecting planning and policy issues.

In particular, sessions with the following themes are already confirmed to be held during the conference*:

• Afforestation in Drylands • Ecology of Drylands • Carbon Footprint
• Deserts and Drylands in Archeology • Dryland Agriculture
• Irrigation • Mathematical Aspects, Modeling and Analysis for Dryland Research
• Ecohydrology of Dryland Landscapes
• Geological Aspects of Deserts and Desertification • GIS Applications for Dryland
Studies • Hydrology in Drylands • NGO Perspectives on Dryland Development
• Nutritional and Food Security • On-site Waste Collection and Treatment • Remote
Sensing Applications for Drylands
• Soil and Land Restoration • Green Roofs and Urban Forestry
• Women and Economic Change in Rural-Arid Lands

* Additional specialized themes will be announced in the near future. Some themes may be merged with others, or canceled, depending on the number of presentations

Topics for additional sessions and/or specialized workshops should be submitted before April 1st, 2017. Abstracts for oral presentations should be submitted by May 15th, 2017.
Visit our website www.desertification.bgu.ac.il for updates

We look forward to seeing you in Israel in November 2017! Early Bird Registration will open in May 2017.

Prof. Pedro Berliner and Prof. Arnon Karnieli, Chairs of the Organizing Committee Ms. Dorit Korine, Conference Coordinator and the Conference Team

For more information and registration:
www.desertification.mgu.ac.il
??desertification@mgu.ac.il

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from Gelvin Stevenson
6:24 PM (2 minutes ago)

Perryman Thermal Battery—with a Molten Nickle/Iron Core.
Is this the Future of Thermal Storage?


Date: Friday, April 14, 2017
Time: 8:00am – 10:00am
Organizer: Gelvin Stevenson, PhD
Host: Sidley Austin LLP
Location: 787 Seventh Ave. (AXA Equitable Building, between 51st and 52nd Streets), 23rd Floor

Thermal Energy Storage gets not the respect it deserves. But thermal storage has been used for over a century and works extremely well. It has the lowest cost per kilowatt, the smallest volume per kilowatt—or, conversely, the highest energy density—of any energy storage technology.


Perryman Thermal Battery is poised to earn that respect.

Chemical Engineer Virgil Perryman has spent over six years developing and testing his technology. He has been granted two patents and applied for another one. The British Ministry of Defense tried considered his technology in its early years to be used by the British forces in Afghanistan, including a half scaled 13-ton unit that can powered command control for a forward base, a front line surgical unit and radar. They tested it for several years using heat generated by both solar thermal arrays as well as charging from AC or DC sources. The storage unit was then used to generate both heat and electricity as needed.

Mr. Perryman originally build an 30 ton initial prototype in 2010 which stored up to 10 MW of thermal energy and subsequently improved the technology so the same containment could store 29.9 MW of thermal energy and could produce 10 MW hours of electricity and 18 MW hours of thermal energy, idea for situations where heat and power are needed. Currently, a European group (which cannot be named) is testing Perryman Thermal Batteries as back-up generators for wind and other intermittent energy generation sources. After 16 months of testing one system where energy must be stored for over 180 days, the units are preforming flawlessly.

The company plans to start installing its thermal batteries later this year. Mr. Perryman has developed one model about the size of a large home hot water unit; another is about half that size and is targeted for homes in the United Kingdom. The first commercial installation is set for a new green residential development England where construction is about to start.

It’s no surprise that the technology works; it is, after all, based on a technology that’s been around way longer than humans. The battery stores energy the same way the Earth stores energy—making it rather like your ultimate bio-mimicry technology. The earth has a molten metal core that’s over 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about as hot as the sun! But the surface of the earth is about 60 degrees F. Why? Because of the multiple layers of refractory material between the core and the surface.

The company uses off-the-shelf magnetic induction to melt the nickel-iron core, which is surrounded by a special shield, which is surrounded by an alumina layer and layer of material very similar to the tiles used on the Space Shuttle tiles, a very efficient ceramic refractory which literally holds the heat in. Then there are more layers of ceramics of different density, all designed to trap the thermal energy, and finally a layer similar to the insulation you would find on your kitchen oven. The outside enclosure can be customized to various applications and for inside or outdoor use. Finally, the unit’s outside layer is warm to the touch (about 90 degrees F) but not hot; rather like the cooling fins on the back of a refrigerator. It is controlled by a touch pad with a remote-control option.

This is a proven technology, going back at least for 100 years. It has been used in the UK and throughout Europe. The Storage units can be safely transported by road, rail or sea, either un-charged or fully charged with 100 tons of molten steel and 29 MW of thermal energy.

It is a global battery, with the core from Austria, thermal transfer system from Germany, the controls from several suppliers including the USA, UK and Japan, and, finally, the closed loop steam generator from suppliers worldwide to allow local servicing and maintenance since it’s the only component with moving parts. While the supply chain may be complicated, the technology is simple.

———————————————————————————–

Register at the GIF Eventbrite page: Greentech Investors Forum
Or contact Gelvin at  gelvin.stevenson at gmail.com.
———————————————————————————–

Perryman Energy Storage Batteries compare very favorably with other battery technologies. They store roughly 10 times as much energy as Elon Musk’s Powerwall lithium-ion batteries (that have roughly a 10kWh storage capacity) and will cost half as much. Moreover, Perryman will offer a 10 year warranty. The company believes, however, that the battery will run 100 years and the steam turbines will last 30 years or more with proper maintenance. The company claims that the core, which is “solid state”, won’t run out; only the control system may need updating with the will the thermostat may have to be replaced periodically. The steam turbine—depending on the brand selected from country to country—can last a half of century without replacement.

In addition, the Perryman Battery bests Lithium Ion batteries because they last longer, are not poisonous, do not start fires and do not pollute.

—————————————————————————–
GIF thanks Investors Circle for its generous support, Geoff Miles, Chino Maduagwu, and Gary Kier for developing and operating GIF’s video, social media and design capabilities, Tonia Popke for her financial expertise, and Jesse Goldstein, PhD, for his continued support.
—————————————————————————–

The original cost will be about $13,500 each. They expect that to fall to about $6,000 each when they get to an annual production level of 10,000 units per year. This cost is way lower than competitors. Perryman Batteries cost $80/kW compared to $600/kW for molten salt, $250/kW for lithium ion, $320/kW for lead acid batteries and $500/kW for flow batteries.

——————————————————————————
Disclaimer: The Greentech Investors Forum (GIF) is not soliciting funds for the presenting companies, nor is it encouraging parties to invest in them. We try to find good companies — not necessarily good investments. They have been advised on what is acceptable in terms of predicted results, but GIF takes no responsibility for what they actually do, say, or how they perform in the future. Gelvin Stevenson works with AgriPower, Inc.
——————————————————————————-

The company is currently working on a plan to offer the DC Metro (the Capitol’s subway system which consumer a huge amount of electricity) a solution that may reduce operating cost to a sustainable level. They are proposing to store cheap electricity during the off-peak periods and resupply during peak periods as well as provide thermal energy for Winter’s heating and drive absorption chiller for air conditioning in the Summers, all while cutting costs by 60%.
——————————————————————————–

Agenda: 8:00 to 8:30 – Networking & light breakfast
8:30 to 9:10 – Virgil Perryman, CEO, on the phone
9:10 to 9:30 – Larry Austin, Esq.
9:30 to 10:00 – Discussion

Security: Security is tight, so please register early. If there is a problem at the Security Desk, please contact Gelvin Stevenson at 917-599-6089.

Fees: $50, payable ahead of time or at the door. Cash or checks and credit cards accepted.

$25 for call-in. Registered call-ins will be emailed the call-in numbers and, if available, the slides to be presented.
$20 for students and faculty

To register, visit Greentech Investors Forum, the Eventbrite site above, or send your contact information to Gelvin Stevenson at  gelvin.stevenson at gmail.com or 917-599-6089. Please contact Gelvin If you have questions or need more information.

Bios

Virgil Perryman is the founder and inventor of Perryman Technologies. Virgil has had an extensive career that has culminated in the development of key patents in the areas of collection, storage, and application of thermal energy. These patents protect the technology used in the Perryman Troughs, Dishes, Perryman Micro Panels, Perryman Battery™, Non-Combustion Gas Turbines and the many globally important applications of these technologies.

Virgil’s technical specialty is the science of how elements behave and interact at very high temperatures. This has led to the ultimate energy storage system; the Perryman Battery™, which uses metal with high heat capacity in its molten state and can store in the larger batteries billions of joules of energy. Further, it can store this energy for months if not years until required. Virgil has also developed a reflective film that captures energy from both visible light and thermal from the infrared spectrum that can heat the metal in the battery to around 1650oC. Virgil’s full spectrum collectors can operate economically in nearly all locations globally, and certainly in many areas of the planet where conventional solar thermal and PV just does not work. This technology can be used to provide clean, renewable, low-cost energy for electricity, heating, cooling, water management, transportation, food and material production and many other applications which will have a positive impact on nearly every aspect of human life.

Sector Expert Larry Austin has an extensive history of corporate financings as well as merger and acquisition activity, both in the US and abroad. He has worked extensively in China, and has conducted due diligence on dozens of portfolios of distressed bank loans and other assets in China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Indonesia.

He has been instrumental in the development of several new financing structures, from credit enhancement work in the New York capital markets, to zero-coupon loan facilities in London and New York. He has worked extensively as a corporate lawyer, consultant and lecturer in the fields of technology start-ups (robotics, telecommunications, materials applications and AI) and commercialization of low-earth orbit activities, and served on the Commercial Advisory Subcommittees for NASA.

One of the most experienced lawyers in the field of Section 17 Corporate charters issued by the US Government to Native American Tribal Governments which enable such bodies to engage in commercial activities worldwide in a non-taxable vehicle, Mr. Austin also has experience in trademarks and copyright protection disputes. In this regard, he represented US based group of International Association of Motion Pictures Exporters, Porsche and other companies.

Larry Austin received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


NRG, a Power Company Leaning Green, Faces Activist Challenge.

By DIANE CARDWELL and ALEXANDRA STEVENSON – The New York Times – April 7, 2017.

Barry Smitherman in 2013, when he was chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, which largely regulates the oil and gas industry. Now on the board of the energy giant NRG, he has called global warming a hoax.


Over the years, NRG, a leading independent power producer whose fleet once depended heavily on coal, has made big bets on low-carbon energy technologies and publicized its embrace of sustainability as essential to its future.


It pursued developing renewable energy for customers large and small and set aggressive goals to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide — 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050.

But now, the company finds its strategy challenged from within.

Activist hedge-fund investors, intent on extracting value from NRG assets, have installed two directors on the board who, in one potential approach, would push to sell off some of the company’s renewable-power projects, raising questions about how it would meet its clean-energy goals.

It is but the latest skirmish in NRG’s long struggle to make several kinds of energy products — conventional and renewable, large-scale and decentralized — profitable under one corporate umbrella.

———————————————
RELATED STORIES OF THE PAST:

How Producing Clean Power Turned Out to Be a Messy Business AUG. 13, 2016

NRG Shifts Focus Away From Empowering Consumers JUNE 3, 2016

Elliott Management Appoints Jonathan Pollock as Co-Chief Executive NOV. 23, 2015
THE TEXAS TRIBUNE
Seeking Favor Among Those You Regulate APRIL 10, 2014
———————————————

Raising further questions, one of the directors installed by the activists, Barry T. Smitherman, a lawyer and former energy industry regulator from Texas, has publicly questioned accepted climate science and called global warming a hoax. “Don’t be fooled — not everyone believes in global warming,” he said on Twitter from a presentation called “The Myth of Carbon Pollution” at a conference of regulators in 2013.

——————————————–

And that has drawn the attention of New York City’s comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, who oversees the city’s pension funds that are shareholders in NRG. On Friday, he filed a letter with the Securities and Exchange Commission urging shareholders to oust Mr. Smitherman at their annual meeting on April 27, 2016:

“In light of Mr. Smitherman’s stated views on climate change, which are incompatible with NRG’s disclosed business strategy and risks, we question his ability to act in the best interests of NRG and its shareholders,” Mr. Stringer wrote in the letter. “Additionally, we believe his role on the board sends a demoralizing message to the many NRG employees responsible for implementing the company’s existing business strategy and managing its risks.”

Mr. Smitherman did not return an email or phone call seeking comment about his views and how the board shake-up might affect NRG’s long-term strategies and goals.

The conflict has its roots in efforts led by Elliott Management, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund run by Paul E. Singer, and Bluescape Energy Partners, run by C. John Wilder, a former executive at the Texas utility TXU who has been credited with its turnaround.

Under Mr. Singer, an early titan of the hedge-fund industry who has also made a name for himself as a top Republican donor, Elliott has been known for its no-holds-barred approach to taking on companies and governments over its investments around the world.

As an activist investor, Elliott quietly builds up equity stakes in companies until it has a big enough position to start rattling the cages of a company’s management. In South Korea, Elliott became the first investor to publicly spar with Samsung, a conglomerate run by one of the country’s most powerful corporate dynasties. In Argentina, Elliott was pilloried in the local press as a “vulture” investor for waging a decade-long battle with the government over its defaulted debt.

In its investment in NRG, Elliott has so far remained largely behind the scenes. But in an emailed statement on Thursday, Elliott said that if a buyer in the market were willing to pay a premium for some of NRG’s renewables businesses, “it may be a good decision for NRG and its shareholders to crystallize that value.”

Most of the company’s power plants run on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, but it has extensive wind and solar farms, including several unfinished projects it bought last year from SunEdison, which had gone bankrupt. Earlier this year, the company reported a loss of $891 million for 2016, largely because of low natural gas prices, down from a $6.4 billion loss the year before.

As for investor concerns about the appointment of Mr. Smitherman, Elliott pointed to the fact that Mr. Smitherman had extensive knowledge of the Texas regulatory landscape. NRG is one of the largest energy suppliers in Texas, and some of its assets in the state could be considered for sale, requiring extensive knowledge of the regulatory hurdles.

Photo: Mauricio Guiterrez, chief executive of NRG, at its headquarters in Princeton, N.J. The building, opened last year, is described by the company as an “ultra-green” building emphasizing renewable energy technology. Credit Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
“Having someone with Mr. Smitherman’s strong Texas-centric utility regulatory background is crucial to helping NRG navigate this process,” said Michael O’Looney, an Elliott spokesman.

“At NRG, the debate is not over clean versus conventional generation,” Mr. O’Looney said. “The debate is simply over who is the best long-term owner of individual assets and fleets of assets that currently reside inside the broader NRG portfolio.”

Mr. Smitherman and Mr. Wilder are two of three independent board members on a five-member committee formed as part of the agreement with Elliott and Bluescape to make recommendations about cost savings, asset sales and other potential actions, according to Mr. Stringer’s letter. The company’s full board has 13 directors, according to its website.

Mr. Smitherman, an ally of Rick Perry, the energy secretary and former Texas governor, was chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, where he helped usher in the high-voltage transmission lines that spurred the development of a robust wind industry. He then ran the state Railroad Commission, which largely regulates the oil and gas industries.

It was not until around 2013, when he announced his candidacy for state attorney general, that Mr. Smitherman began publicly questioning climate science and global warming, according to energy experts in Texas. He appears to still support the development of renewable energy, writing in The Dallas Morning News in December about how beneficial Texas wind power development had been to the state.

NRG has reeled in recent years as it has sought to transform itself from a conventional-energy giant into a leader in the clean-energy economy.

“NRG is caught between what we consider the next generation of power supply and the status quo,” said Travis Miller, an energy and utilities analyst at Morningstar. “The move toward renewable energy and gas generation is a trend that won’t stop anytime soon so every power generator is trying to develop a strategy where they can benefit from the transition period.”

David Crane, a former chief executive, had tried to do that by transforming the company into the Google of green energy, investing in big renewable-energy projects and buying small start-ups to help capture emerging markets like rooftop solar, electric-vehicle charging and home automation. But the company pulled back from those ambitions as a combination of low oil and gas prices and the threat of rising interest rates led to turbulence in the energy markets and skittishness among renewable-energy investors and the company’s stock tumbled. Despite an elaborate reorganization aimed at cutting costs, reducing debt and better aligning the businesses with investors, Mr. Crane was pushed out in 2015, and replaced by Mauricio Gutierrez, the executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Mr. Gutierrez has continued to pursue the company’s sustainability and carbon reduction efforts, but in a more restrained way, focusing more on large-scale renewable projects and less on the emerging markets.


Marijke Shugrue, an NRG spokeswoman, said: “These are not altruistic, sustainability-only goals. We are firm believers in climate change and that CO2 emissions are a leading factor.”

The company, for instance, recently re-signed the Business Backs Low Carbon pledge organized by Ceres, an advocacy group.

But corporate aims may end up in the hands of directors with a different agenda.

In January, Elliott and Bluescape announced that they had each bought a large stake in NRG and were teaming up to put pressure on the company to make changes to its business. NRG was “deeply undervalued” and could be worth more if its management undertook “operational and financial improvements” as well as “strategic initiatives,” Elliott said at the time in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Elliott said that Mr. Wilder and his team had “directly relevant experience in effectuating such improvements,” adding that they were in a dialogue with the board.

By February, NRG announced that it had struck an agreement with Elliott, which owned 6.9 percent of the company’s stock, and Bluescape, which had 2.5 percent, to replace two outgoing directors and appoint Mr. Wilder and Mr. Smitherman.

NRG also agreed to undertake a business review of the different parts of the company, including examining “potential portfolio and/or asset de-consolidations.”

The company’s renewables business is likely to be among the assets spun off. Some analysts have argued that those businesses are undervalued because they are housed within NRG’s legacy business, which involves burning natural gas, coal and oil.

——————————————
A version of this article appears in print on April 8, 2017, on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: On Climate, NRG Faces a Challenge From Within.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

April 6, 2017

Niklas Höhne –  n.hoehne at newclimate.org


Whose international climate proposal is more ambitious?

Blog: newclimate.org/2017/04/06/whose-…

When countries put forward their climate proposals for the Paris Agreement, they were asked also to explain why these are ambitious. Countries found many ways to make their case: For example, the USA stated that its new proposal requires faster reduction than their earlier one. The EU declared that it wants to decrease emissions until 2030 by at least 40% since 1990, more than most other countries. China wants to peak its emissions before 2030 at a lower level (per capita) than for example the USA. If countries use different ways to describe their ambition, how do we know if one is more ambitious than the other? Only a comprehensive approach that covers all perspectives can be used to assess ambition of national climate policy – argues the new scientific article “Assessing the ambition of post-2020 climate targets: a comprehensive framework” by NewClimate Institute and and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency PBL.


The adoption and entry into force of the Paris Agreement is a big step forward in international climate policy. Nearly 190 countries submitted their proposals on how, and by how much, they are willing to reduce their GHG emissions after 2020; these are the so-called ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ (INDCs). Upon ratification of or accession to the Paris Agreement, a country’s ‘intended nationally determined contribution, INDC’ turns into a ‘nationally determined contribution, NDC’.

Unfortunately, the total ambition level of all national contributions is not yet sufficient to achieve the global goals of the Paris Agreement, i.e. to limit the increase of global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

Consequently, all countries are asked to revise their contributions and to increase the level of ambition over time. To guide this process, the NDCs of countries will have to be assessed on their relative ambition level. In fact, raising ambition is more likely if all countries agree that they are all at around the same ambition level that is appropriate for their national circumstances.

But how to assess the ambition level of climate policy?

If countries use different ways to describe their ambition, how do we know if one is more ambitious than the other? Countries found many ways to make their case:

USA promised to reduce their emissions in 2025 by 26% to 28% below 2005 level and state that its new proposal requires faster reduction than their earlier one.

The EU promised to decrease emissions until 2030 by at least 40% since 1990, arguing that this is more than most other countries.

China wants to peak its emissions before 2030. They claim that this is a peak at a lower level (per capita) than others before them.

In this new paper, we applied all different principles and arguments to assess ambition that we were aware of to the different country proposals, illustratively here for China, EU and the USA. If a country scores well on all of them, it can definitely be classified as ambitious. If it doesn’t score well on any of them it is definitely not ambitious. And if the different approaches give mixed signals, this highlights where improvements may be possible.

The following principles used by countries to assess ambition are considered in the paper:

A country’s reduction of emissions since 1990: the standard perspective for developed countries since 1992, also used in the Kyoto Protocol – a preferred metric by the EU.
Change in recent trend in emissions: a country would do more than before – the main argument in the proposal by the USA.
Time and level of peaking emissions per capita: countries go through different levels of development with first rising, then peaking and then declining emissions – the metric chosen by China.
Comparison to equity-based effort-sharing calculations: There is a long history of scientific studies that calculate “fair” emission targets of countries ‘effort-sharing’ principles. The principles include responsibility (e.g. those who emitted more in the past now have to reduce more) or capability (e.g. those with higher per capita income levels should do more), equality (i.e. equal emission rights per capita), cost-effectiveness (total abatement cost per GDP), as well as combinations.
Comparison to benchmarks of decarbonization indicators: A number of indicators can be used to describe countries’ circumstances and developments, e.g. on the national level emissions per capita, energy use per capita or the energy mix. On the sectoral level it could be emissions per kilometre travelled or per tonne of cement or steel produced. Indicators can measure activity (e.g. vehicle kilometres travelled) or intensity (emissions per vehicle kilometre) (see also the data portal of the Climate Action Tracker).
In line with globally cost-effective model pathways: Modelling exercises can identify required reductions by countries on the principle of minimising the aggregated global costs of emission reductions. As a result, reductions are required in those sectors and countries where they are least cost from a global perspective.
Comparison to best practice policy package or policy menu: One can compare the extent to which a country implemented supporting policies, addresses barriers, or has counterproductive policies in place. A contribution can be regarded as ambitious if it includes many policies that are considered good practice, while it would be less ambitious if the country were not to implement the policies that most of its peers have already successfully implemented (see also climate policy database).
What are the results?

As expected, example countries used in the analysis score very differently across the approaches. However, the collective results show certain tendencies. For example, the EU scores highest among the three on many approaches (in many cases together with China and/ or the US). Only when using the principle of “changes in recent trends” (the metric that the USA chose to explain its ambition) is the US clearly ahead of the EU.

The comparison of China and the US is, in essence, determined by how far the different development levels should be taken into account: China is consistently ahead of the US when considering decarbonization indicators and level and timing of peaking emissions. Owing to a lower development level, its emission intensity and activity levels are lower than in the US. The US, on the other hand, has a more comprehensive policy package and proposes more change from the current policy scenarios.

The overview evaluation highlights the shortcomings of each proposal and therefore provides insights into where improvements could take place. Although the EU scores well on many aspects, our framework shows that the current NDC means only limited progression from current trends. For the US, even with a step change in policy, our comparison of approaches shows that activity and energy intensity levels are still much higher than in other countries. Regarding China, although its activity and energy intensity indicators are still low and it is undertaking significant policy efforts in some areas, the analysis reveals that many policy areas remain unaddressed.

So what have we learned?

Firstly, a comprehensive assessment of ambition of climate proposals can only be undertaken using a large variety of evaluation approaches. Each single approach has its pros and cons, starts from a very particular perspective, and no single approach is truly comprehensive. The different nature of the evaluation approaches leads to different outcomes; only if all of them are applied, does it become evident if a country is broadly ambitious, or only under very selective perspectives. Such a comprehensive approach could therefore be usefully applied when considering ways to raise ambition. The Paris Agreement suggests that this should happen at the “facilitative dialogue” in 2018, and the “global stocktake” that is to take place every five years starting from 2023.

Secondly, we put forward a comprehensive framework of evaluation approaches that covers, to our knowledge, the broadest possible range of approaches. The framework evaluates countries using all eight approaches shown here, rank countries relative to each other where possible, and present the results alongside each other (without aggregating into one overall rating).

Finally, we find that the illustrative application of this framework provides useful insights even if the ambition level of China, the EU, and the US varies, depending on the perspective taken. The EU ranks consistently first or second across many of the approaches. Only when considering “changes in recent trends” is the US clearly ahead of the EU. The comparison of China and the US is, in essence, determined by how far the different development levels should be taken into account.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


CLIMATE CHANGE CORPORATIONS – CLIMATE DENIERS

Exxon Knew Everything There Was to Know About Climate Change by the Mid-1980s—and Denied It
And thanks to their willingness to sucker the world, the world is now a chaotic mess.
By Bill McKibben Twitter and THE NATION Magazine – OCTOBER 20, 2015

eading Photo – Oil and gas industry executives testify on Capitol Hill in Washington
Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO and Chairman. (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

A few weeks before the last great international climate conference—2009, in Copenhagen—the e-mail accounts of a few climate scientists were hacked and reviewed for incriminating evidence suggesting that global warming was a charade. Eight separate investigations later concluded that there was literally nothing to “Climategate,” save a few sentences taken completely out of context—but by that time, endless, breathless media accounts about the “scandal” had damaged the prospects for any progress at the conference.

Now, on the eve of the next global gathering in Paris this December, there’s a new scandal. But this one doesn’t come from an anonymous hacker taking a few sentences out of context. This one comes from months of careful reporting by two separate teams, one at the Pulitzer Prize–winning website Inside Climate News, and the other at the Los Angeles Times (with an assist from the Columbia Journalism School). Following separate lines of evidence and document trails, they’ve reached the same bombshell conclusion: ExxonMobil, the world’s largest and most powerful oil company, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the mid-1980s, and then spent the next few decades systematically funding climate denial and lying about the state of the science.

This scandal—traveling under the hashtag #exxonknew—is just beginning to build. The Inside Climate News series of six pieces is set to conclude this week and be published as a book, but the LA Times apparently has far more reporting waiting to be released. Already members of Congress—Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier of California—and presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have called on the Department of Justice to investigate, comparing it to the predations of the tobacco industry.

Should the DOJ muster its courage to go after this most profitable and connected of companies, the roadmap is already well laid out by the two investigations.

ICN has demonstrated that as early as the late 1970s, Exxon scientists were briefing top executives that climate change was real, dangerous, and caused by their product. By the early 1980s, their own climate models were predicting—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since.

Exxon’s own climate models predicted—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since.

The LA Times reporting is at least as important. It demonstrated that Exxon clearly believed their own climate models and used them to guide their efforts in the newly melting Arctic, where as their senior researcher said “warming will clearly affect sea ice, icebergs, permafrost and sea levels.” (Indeed, he added, climate change “can only help lower exploration and development costs,” thus making their bids for Arctic lease rights more profitable).

But though we know now that behind the scenes Exxon understood precisely what was going on, in public they feigned ignorance or worse. CEO Lee Raymond described global warming as “projections are based on completely unproven climate models, or, more often, on sheer speculation,” and insisted—in a key presentation to China’s leading officials in 1997—that the globe was probably cooling.

This scandal will not go away easily. The insider Washington Monthly came out with language as strong as you’re likely to hear:

A fossil fuel company intentionally and knowingly obfuscating research into climate change constitutes criminal negligence and malicious intent at best, and a crime against humanity at worst. The Department of Justice has a moral obligation to prosecute Exxon and its co-conspirators accordingly.


DEMAND A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION OF EXXON’S CLIMATE CHANGE DECEPTION

And on Sunday the investigation truly came home, when the The Dallas Morning News—read across the oil patch and hometown paper for Exxon—put the ICN investigation on its front page. The whole business angered me so much that I sat down in front of a Mobil gas pump near my home, shutting it down for the few minutes before I was arrested in an effort to draw more attention to the story. (It’s possible that this is the first time anyone’s gone to jail to encourage newspaper readership.)

A few observers, especially on the professionally jaded left, have treated the story as old news—as something that even if we didn’t know, we knew. “Of course they lied,” someone told me. That cynicism, however, serves as the most effective kind of cover for Exxon (right alongside the tired argument that it’s “not the fault of the companies—they’re just meeting demand from all of us”). What’s beginning to sink in is the horrible impact of their lies: Exxon, had its leaders merely stated directly what they knew to be true, could have ended the pretend debate over climate change as early as the 1980s. When scientists like NASA’s Jim Hansen first raised public awareness of climate change, think of what would have happened if Exxon’s CEO had gone to Congress, too, and said that their internal scientific efforts show precisely the same thing. Instead, they funded every climate-denial outfit that asked for cash and worked with veterans of the tobacco wars to help raise the same kind of doubt about climate science.

RELATED ARTICLE

THE GOVERNMENT MAY ALREADY HAVE THE LAW IT NEEDS TO BEAT BIG OIL

Zoë Carpenter
When Hansen testified before a Congressional committee in 1988, the atmospheric level of CO2 was just passing 350 parts per million. Now we’ve gone beyond 400 ppm, we’ve seen the rapid melt of the Arctic, the acidification of the planet’s oceans, and the rapid rise in extreme weather events. (Just lately: “thousand-year-rainfalls” in South Carolina and Southern California so far this month, and now a typhoon dropping a meter or more of rain on the Philippines.) Thanks to Exxon’s willingness to sucker the world, that world is now a chaotic mess. We’ve finally begun to see the rise of a movement large enough to challenge the power of the oil companies, and that means that Paris will come out better than Copenhagen, but the quarter-century wasted will never be made up.

And count on the fossil-fuel industry to continue trying to delay progress and obfuscate reality. Exxon is clearly flustered (its PR guy called the LA Times story “complete bullshit”) but unrepentant. They continue to demand favors from government, most recently a lifting of the longstanding ban on exporting American crude (“The sooner this happens, the better for us,” said Kenneth P. Cohen, Exxon Mobil’s vice president for public and governmental affairs informed The New York Times.) It remains to be seen if the world’s media will overcome their tendency to truckle and give this true scandal anything like the oxygen it poured on those few hapless e-mails.

If they do, then more rapid progress on climate will be possible. The evidence of Exxon’s bad faith is so overpowering that this debacle will only deepen on further investigation; think about what a prosecutor with deposition power could accomplish. If the media and the authorities don’t shirk their jobs, then someday, when the world thinks back on this greatest of crises, those climate scientists whose e-mails were hacked will be remembered as heroes, and Exxon will be the great object lesson for the damage unfettered greed can do.

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BILL MCKIBBEN TWITTER Bill McKibben is the author of 15 books, most recently Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he is the co-founder of 350.org, the largest global grassroots organizing campaign on climate change.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Michael Melchior is an internationally renowned Jewish leader, thinker and activist. He is a former Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs, a former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and a former member of Knesset for Meimad.

Born: January 31, 1954 in Copenhagen and was ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi at Yeshivat Hakotel of Jerusalem in 1980. His father was Rabbi Brent Melchior, Chief Rabbi of Denmark.

what that omits is: He is the Rabbi of a vibrant community in Talpiyot, Jerusalem (Beit Boyer). In 1986, he immigrated to Israel and settled down with his family in Jerusalem, while still holding the title of Chief Rabbi of Norway.

He descends from a line of seven generations of rabbis in Denmark, Melchior was born in Copenhagen, Denmark

In Israel, Michael Melchior entered politics with the religious Meimad party in 1995. When rabbi Yehuda Amital was appointed minister without portfolio after the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in November, 1995, Melchior served as Amital’s assistant. Melchior was selected chairman of the managing committee of the Meimad party in early 1996.

In the 1999 elections, Meimad ran as part of the One Israel alliance with the Labor Party and Gesher. Melchior won a seat, and was appointed Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs on 5 August 1999, a post he held until Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister in 2001. Melchior was re-elected to the Knesset as a member of the joint list in 2003 and 2006 as Meimad continued its alliance with the Labor Party.

In 2008 Meimad broke away from the alliance and ran in partnership with the Green Movement in the 2009 elections, but failed to win a seat. On December 14 2012, on his Facebook page he said that he will quit Knesset elections.

It is this last paragraph from his biography that caused our interest in Rabbi Michael Melchior. The full story is that Peer Visner, a deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv, was running the Green Party. Visner strongly opposed a 2006 resolution by the United States Green Party calling for divestment from Israel. Visner wrote, “We are very disappointed that our sister party in the US did not consult with the Israel Green Party before passing this resolution.
We hope that this breach in trust between our entities will be remedied with an apology and appropriate action by the US Greens. Visner was no scientist, nor an ethicist – he was just a businessman that saw the advantage of Green business. That showed to be his weakness in
eyes of attackers that thought of dreams of ethics – both on the science end and surprisingly
for the Israeli tough – hands on – politics. Michael Melchior brought from overseas a few million dollars with which he helped a few scientists from the University in Beer Sheba and they formed a second Green Party – this is the one his biography alludes to.

To make things even worse – a third green party came into existence – the Green Leaf Party Marijuana – that basically was a Marijuana advocacy and people were snowed by all this green.

In short – it was the Melchior money, and the start of a personal court case, that sank Visner and the broken Greens. In fairness, I must confess that I spoke at the time with the professors to ask them to close te gap with Visner so they have a joint list. To no avail.
So they lost he 3-4 mandates they were entitled to when you add up the split votes.
That was the margin that would have kept Netanyahu out in the cold.

Melchior did not really give up from his ethics campaign. We find other pearls on his cape:

Some of these: “in September 2012, Melchior claimed that extremist Islamic leaders including the leaders of Hamas are ready for peaceful co-existence with Israel, and he added that he has “yet to meet with somebody who is not willing to make peace” with the Jewish state of Israel, placing the onus for lack of peace with extremist Islamic movements on Israel.

A Center for Conflict Resolution by Agreement which Rabbi Melchior serves as its Chairman. The center serves as a professional address for establishing understandings and agreements between individuals, organizations, groups and communities. The center believes in every person’s abilities to resolve conflicts and to operate in cooperation with the aid of tools from the realm of mediation. Mosaica supports the activities of 33 mediation and dialogue centers across the country with the aim of making the activities accessible to an array of communities in Israel. Thus individuals, groups and communities can contribute to a cohesive and respectful Israeli society.

Another initiative of Rabbi Melchior is Kulanu that seeks to strengthen the Jewish character of the State of Israel, enhance democracy and foster unity through its diverse projects. Kulanu is best known for its Chagim BaKehilla (literally: holidays in the community) program, which provides religious services for secular Jews for many of the Jewish holidays. Kulanu worked with Teva Ivri to launch the Shmita Yisraelit program. Programs: • Chagim BaKehilla • Shmita Yisraeli (in coordination with Teva Ivri) • Meitarim: Inclusive Jewish Educational Network • Yom Kippur Shel Kulanu • B’Yachad: For a Shared Jewish Democratic Society

In 2010, Melchior involved himself in economic issues. he co-founded the Israel Civic Action Forum which promotes higher taxation on income from the extraction of natural resources, and the use of the tax income for higher government spending to increase government spending on welfare, education and health.

Surely – none of those are bad ideas. We could have honored Rabbi Melchior more had he shown up in his hometown when the whole Green World was there in 2009 at the COPENHAGEN Conference of the Parties dealing with CLIMATE CHANGE. To us this was a sign that all that attack on the Greens of Israel was just a paid for destruction move – or call it what you want. is success was then beyond his hopes. If he wanted attention – he surely got it.

Today, April 7, 2017 – with the Middle East upheaval, and Israel alking elections, Rabbi Melchior was listed to speak on – “Did we really Came Out From Egypt?” I am sure he has
prepared again cutting words. But for what purpose? I could not find out because at the
Brodt Jewish Culture Center at 22 Zeitlin Street, Tel Aviv, Ms. Aygneska Kapuchinska refused to honor my Journalism ID and asked me to provide my credit card in order buy a ticket
for 50 Shekel. I preferred to write this up without the benefit of his pearls.
He may think I am an agnostic – to which I will answer – yes butareal Green one.

Having been in Israel for 5 weeks – I do indeed predict rain and also that shortly many creatures will show up after these 10 years of leadership drought.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Times of Israel – – Israel & the Region


Former chief rabbi: What’s happening in Syria is a holocaust. A Holocaust survivor himself, Yisrael Meir Lau calls for emergency Knesset session; Yad Vashem expresses ‘deep concern’ over ‘carnage’
BY JACOB MAGID April 6, 2017, 3:41 pm 17

[Rabbi Lau s now hief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and on the Board of Yad Vaschem – the Jerusalem Institution that memorializes the European Holocaust against the Jews – but then it also looks at other insults to humanity.]

Iran conservatives hold primary in hunt for candidate. Yad Vashem head calls for end to Syrian war and its ‘atrocities’. French presidential candidate Fillon doused in flour at campaign eventSoccer hooligans don niqabs to sidestep ban on masksPressure builds on Syria’s Assad after chemical attack.

Syrian activists: Islamic State slits throats of 33 young men For Trump, the weight of world’s problems sinks in Russian police arrest 3 suspected of links to subway bombingTurkey: Syria autopsies show chemical weapons used in attack

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel and the current chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, told Army Radio Thursday that “what is happening in Syria is [also] a holocaust.”


“Not [just] from today, for six years a holocaust has fallen on them,” said Lau, who himself survived the Nazi slaughter of Europe’s Jews as a child and was liberated from Buchenwald death camp.


Lau said Israel and the rest of the world should put aside political considerations that may be keeping them from intervening in the civil war, joining others in Israel who have called for action in the wake of the deadly attack.


The comments came after 86 people were killed, among them at least 20 children, in a Tuesday chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun widely believed to have been carried out by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Victims of the attack showed signs of nerve gas exposure, the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders said, including suffocation, foaming at the mouth, convulsions, constricted pupils and involuntary defecation. Paramedics were using fire hoses to wash the chemicals from the bodies of victims.

Medical teams also reported smelling bleach on survivors of the attack, suggesting chlorine gas was also used, Doctors Without Borders said.

The magnitude of the attack was reflected in the images of the dead — children piled in heaps for burial, a father carrying his lifeless young twins.

Syrian children receive treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, April 4, 2017. (AFP/Mohamed al-Bakour)
Syrian children receive treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, April 4, 2017. (AFP/Mohamed al-Bakour)

The attack refocused world attention on Syria after over six years of war that has left some 500,000 people dead by some estimates, and drew widespread condemnation and accusations of war crimes by the Syrian regime.

In Israel, leaders, politicians and others expressed outrage and called for action, with President Reuven Rivlin indirectly invoking the Holocaust in his Tuesday statement.

“We, as a people who survived the greatest of atrocities and rose from the ashes to be a strong and secure nation, we will do all we can to continue to aid the survivors of the horrors in Syria,” the president said in a statement. “We know all too well how dangerous silence can be, and we cannot remain mute.”

Avner Shalev, head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum, expressed “deep concern over the appalling evidence of renewed carnage in Syria.”

“Following World War II, the global community enacted universal principles and instituted international organizations with the express purpose of averting future crimes against humanity,” he said.

Shalev called upon “world leaders and the global community to act now in order to place to put a stop to the atrocities and avert further suffering,” repeating comments made late last year.

Pressed on whether the international community’s responses to genocide have changed since the one he endured as a child, Lau replied that “the only thing we’ve learned from history is that we haven’t learned anything from it.”

Lau proposed that the Knesset convene an emergency session “at the height of the Passover recess…to give voice to the cries of the Syrian children…and all of the other innocent civilians.”

“If we don’t [do this], who will?” he asked.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CNN Politics: Nightcap
March 28, 2017 | by Eric Bradner and Daniella Diaz

Trump puts business ahead of climate in new order

President Donald Trump signed an executive order today that CNN’s Dan Merica writes is an unambiguous move to halt the United States government’s attempts to curb carbon dioxide emissions with the goal of encouraging American business. It directs EPA to review Obama’s Clean Power Plan and rescind the moratorium on coal mining on US federal lands.

But the executive order, while sweeping, does not do everything the Trump administration thinks. It is unlikely to bring a restoration of the coal industry, is certain to be caught up in court for years, and on its own, doesn’t pull the US out of the Paris climate accords.

The big picture: The New York Times’ Nadja Popovich writes: “Trump has rolled back key Obama-era greenhouse gas regulations. Without these rules in place, the United States is set to fall far short of its 2015 Paris Agreement pledge: to lower emissions by at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025.”

STRAIGHT UP
“Chairman Nunes was not a White House fence jumper — he was invited in.”

— Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, blasting White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s claim that no one in the White House knew about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ much-scrutinized visit. Calls are growing for Nunes to step aside in the panel’s Russia probe.

BAR TALK
DNC asks for staff resignations as Perez’s overhaul begins
Democratic National Committee staffers have all been asked to submit letters of resignation by April 15 as newly installed chairman Tom Perez begins his overhaul of the party organization.

What happened: Leah Daughtry, an adviser to former interim chairwoman Donna Brazile and the chief executive officer of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, sent a letter asking every party staffer to submit letters of resignation dated April 15 immediately after Perez won the DNC chairman race a month ago. NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald first reported the request.

What the DNC is saying: “This is longstanding precedent at the DNC and has happened during multiple chair transitions,” DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said. “The process was started before the election of the new chair. From the beginning, Tom has been adamant that we structure the DNC for future campaigns. Current and future DNC staff will be integral to that effort.”

BUZZING
President Donald Trump spent much of today revisiting the 2016 presidential campaign and attacking Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

At 7:16 a.m. ET:

And at 6:41 p.m. ET:

LAST CALL
4 things you may have missed today
Mar-a-Lago scrutiny: In a letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Government Accountability Office said it would begin the inquiry into President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago visits “shortly,” after Cummings and Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse and Tom Udall requested the probe. More from CNN’s Dan Merica.

Sanders to headline progressive summit: Nearly a year after the final contest in the Democratic primaries kicked off his “political revolution,” Sen. Bernie Sanders will headline the second annual People’s Summit, a three-day gathering of progressive activists and organizations beginning on June 9 in Chicago. More from CNN’s Gregory Krieg.

White House looks at stepping up military role in Yemen: The proposal calls for stepping up military assistance to support Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in their fight against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who have toppled the central government there. More from CNN’s Barbara Starr.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Tesla’s market value overtakes Ford
BBC – 3 April 2017

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk launches the Model X

Tesla’s market value has overtaken that of Ford after shares in the electric car maker added more than 7%.

At the close of trading Tesla had a market value of $49bn (£38bn), compared with Ford’s value of $46bn.

Tesla’s shares rose on Monday after the company announced record vehicle deliveries in the first three months of the year.

The firm delivered more than 25,000 cars in the first quarter, up 70% on the same quarter last year.

While Tesla’s sales are growing fast they are still a fraction of Ford’s, which sold almost 6.7 million vehicles in 2016.

Tesla delivered 76,000 electric cars last year.

“Magic dust”

However, investors are excited about the growth potential of Tesla.
This year it plans to start selling a cheaper car in the US, the Model 3, which it hopes will have mass market appeal.

“Five years ago no one knew what a Tesla was. Now people want a Tesla. It has usurped BMW as an aspirational car,” said Ben Kallo, energy technology analyst at Robert W Baird.

Mr Kallo said that the charisma, or what he described as the “magic dust” surrounding Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk, allows it to attract talented staff as well as investors.

“Tesla has more going on in those four walls than we know about,” he said.
Inside Tesla’s gigantic Gigafactory

Elon Musk: Who dares wins

Tesla reports record car deliveries

Meanwhile, Tesla has made a huge investment in battery production, building a $5bn factory in Nevada that when fully developed will be the biggest building in the world.
Mr Musk, hopes that by operating at that kind of scale his company can innovate faster and cut the cost of batteries by 30%.

As well as supplying batteries for cars, the plant makes batteries for homes and businesses.
In what was seen as a vote on confidence in the firm, last month China’s Tencent spent $1.78bn on buying a 5% stake in Tesla.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Israel never developed its natural energy sources and chose to be dependent on imports of fossil fuels – a business area that is known to breed corruption. Not to mince words – Israeli politicians – a great majority of them – have unseemly court cases hanging around their necks anyway. To add to this – being a country under the magnifying glass of Western humanitarian liberalism adds much pressing weight in economic terms.

Franco’s Spain, and The Apartheid South Africa, were rich in indigenous resources and with the
help of imported technologies could demonstrate that they can survive any sanctions imposed.
But this was not the case of Israel in spite of rich technologies developed by Israelis, those technologies were not used at home, but exported with daughter companies abroad, even doing
business in Arab States. We can be thankful that Israel chose to reject Nuclear Power, but we will never understand the reasoning not to go big for available solar and wind technologies.
Even now, having suddenly become an “oil” State – thanks to the gas found on its door steps,
the business interests will not allow disengagement from coal imports.

With this introduction – let us look what we learned at the Herzliya meeting which we followed
up later by reading from a November 2016 Conference in Eilat.

THE SMART MOBILITY SOLUTIONS meeting at IDC/Herzliya included the Remarks
“FUELING INNOVATION FOR SMARTER MOBILITY” by Dr. Anat Lea Bonshtien now Acting Chairman of
FUEL CHOICES INITIATIVES in the PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE – AND Director of Administration of that Initiative.

To be more exact – Dr. Bohnstien who is a graduate in biochemistry from Tel-Aviv University (TAU). She handles in the PM’S office ALTERNATIVE FUELS and SMART MOBILITY.
To be even more exact: Together with the Ministry of National Energy, she is coordinating the inter-ministerial team that accompanies companies through their demonstration process of alternative fuels and alternative mobility technologies. She is also heading the academic relations under the Initiative.

At the IDC meeting I attended – she was all High-Tech Mobility, but in conversation with her
she told me she handles also Renewable Energy. As we are interested in both aspects – I will obviously delve in both directions.

This present posting is in effect a sequel to:
“Israel is the First Post-Industrial Society, that is why they sell $13.8 Billion technology in a deal. We start to look into what this means.” We posted this on March 30, 2017, and the sequel was somewhat delayed as I was hoping to interview Dr. Bohnshtien, but this did not come to be.

First let us touch upon the remarks Dr. Bonshtein made at the IDC meeting:

She told us about that Intel-Mobil-Eye 13.6 billion deal and the fact that serious players – Bosch, GM, Daimler-Mercedes-Benz, BMW,Volkswagen, Samsung, Harmon, nVidia, and more, established labs or at least offices in Israel – this because Israel is in front and has become a “Must” on topics like Automated Driving, Electric Mobility, Autonomous Mobility,
Smart Mobility – then there is an-eye-for-the-car – intelligent communication.

She said Israel got into this because of the economy’s loses of 15 billion Shekel/year in accidents and 4.5 billion Shekel/year in air pollution.

The family car is the second largest expense a family has in Israel – surpassed only by the cost of housingOn January 22, 2017 250 million Shekel were given to a program to innovate
and deploy in Smart Mobility Technologies. Those include resolution mapping.

She coordinates 10 Ministries involved in the Program and works with China and Singapore
that have large programs from which Israel can learn as well.

She talks of an ACCELERATOR for these programs – to be reviewed on May 18, 2017 and then followed by a large conference October 3, 2017

At IDC she was seconded by Roy Melzer a Patent Attorney at the private firm of Ehrlich & Fenster who pointed out that the Mobility Patents are owned mainly by US, Japan, Germany and Korea – in that order – and some others with Israel not high on the list. This is clear because those for countries are the main motor-vehicle producers. They discover technology
talents and buy them. But he says – WE WANT MORE THEN INCREMENTAL INNOVATION – WE AIM AT DESTRUCTIVE INNOVATION – when you see real change to new entities. The traditional players will still hold a lot of power but there will be new players that come in with the
destructive details.

Now we talk of sensors for the car – to understand what is in front, inventive software +
general computer. Some of these are hard to patent. But better visibility and transfer of information can still be patented.

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On the second arm of Dr. Bonshtien’s charge – the one not dealing with Mobility
but rather with Fuels and sources of energy – preferably of the Renewable Energy kind
– with known technologies and novel technologies – we tried to get an appointment with
her but it did not happen.

So, without her help – we went to the internet to look at the:

EILAT-EILOT RENEWABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY
7th International Conference & Exhibition
November 27-29, 2016 Dan Eilat, Israel


Conference topics include:

Eilat Eilot as a Smart Solar Region
Solar Energy & Off-Grid as Catalyst for Energy Security
Science Fiction or Reality Demands – The Secret behind Micro Grids
PV in Israel – Stepping into a Massive Era
Energy Efficiency – Innovation and Implementation
Integration of Renewable Energy into the Grid
Smart Transportation as part of Smart City
Energy Storage – Will li-ion Batteries be the New PV?
The Efficiency of Pump Storage
Off-Grid as a Solution for Infrastructure in the Developing World
Sun Industry – Marine Agriculture and Algae

PROGRAM

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2016
08:00-20:00
Professional Tour in Renewable Energy Facilities
Pick-up from Arlozorov central bus station in Tel Aviv

The trip from Tel Aviv to Eilat and viewing on the way of:

The Ashalim Thermo-Solar Power Station: Megalim and Negev Energy
Brenmiller Energy Demo Site – Autonomous Storage-based Generation System + Light Lunch
Eilat-Eilot Off-Grid Demonstration Village
Robotic Cleaning of Solar Panels

Cocktail reception at the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Research Center

Transfers to Dan Eilat Hotel

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2016
08:30
Refreshments and Registration
Projects Presentation, SUSTAINERGY 4, International Youth Competition for Renewable Energy
Lobby, Dan Eilat Hotel

10:00-11:30
Opening Session
Chair: Dorit Banet & Noam Ilan
Greetings
Presenting Awards to the Winners of the Sustainergy International Youth Competition
Big Blue Hall

Dorit Banet
Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative

Noam Ilan
Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative

Dr. Yuval Steinitz
Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources

MK Yael Cohen Paran
Knesset Israel

Danny Atar
KKL-JNF

Yiftah Ron-Tal
Israel Electric Corporation

Meir Yitzhak Halevi
Mayor of Eilat

Hanan Ginat
Mayor of Eilot Regional Council

Peretz Vazan
Ministry of Science, Technology and Space

Yisrael Dancziger
Ministry of Environmental Protection
11:30-11:50
The New Energy Era in Israel

Shaul Meridor
The Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources
11:50-12:50
Energy Independence in Cities – from Fiction to Science
Chair: Elad Topel
Big Blue Hall

Elad Topel
Environmental Unit Eilat-Eilot, Eilat City

Eli Lankri
Deputy Mayor of Eilat

Eliad Peretz
Cornell University; NASA; NSF

Hadas Rozen
SolarEdge

Noam Segal
The Israeli Energy Forum

Avi Brenmiller
Brenmiller Energy

Yaron Liv
IEC – Israel Electric Corporation

13:00-14:00
Lunch & Visit the Exhibition
Hotel Restaurant & Foyer

14:00-15:15
The Vision of 100% Renewable Energy
Chair: Yuval Zohar
Big Blue Hall

Dr. Griffin M. Thompson
U.S. Department of State

Emily Rochon
Greenpeace International

Tobias Kempermann
EWE

Nurit Gal
Public Utility Authority (PUA)
Panel – The Next Big Thing for Cleantech Innovation
Chair: Avi Feldman
Big Blue Hall

Avi Feldman
Capital Nature

Ross Bruton
Frost & Sullivan

Mike Freeman
Israel – Colorado Innovation Fund; Innosphere

Dr. Bracha Halaf
The Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources

Mickey Steiner
innogy Israel

Gil Golan
General Motors
15:15-16:30
Renewable Energy CEO’s Forum – an Open Discussion: Barriers, Growth and Forecasts
Chair: Eitan Parnass
Big Blue Hall

Eitan Parnass
Green Energy Association of Israel (GEA-IL); Global Solar Council

Nurit Gal
Public Utility Authority (PUA)

Gilad Yavetz
EnLight Renewable Energy

Yaron Szilas
Shikun & Binui Renewable Energy

Shai Porat
Inbar Solar Energy

Amnon Epstein
Epstein Rosenblum Maoz (ERM)

Nadav Barkan
EDF EN Israel

Shahar Ben Moyal
Arava Meshakim & Partners
Panel – Sustainable Mobility & Energy Efficiency
Chair: Zviya Baron & Limor Nakar Vincent
Tarshish Hall

Zviya Baron
PetroQuantum B.V.

Limor Nakar-Vincent
BIRD Foundation

Assaf Tamir
BEDEK Aviation Group

Ariella Grinberg-Felder
General Motors Israel

Dr. Alexis Abramson
Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Saul Reichman
Renault Innovation Lab Israel

Lana Elner
Busnet & Trucknet Drive

16:30-17:30
Global RE Opportunities for Israeli Business
Chair: Adv. Orit Marom
Big Blue Hall

Adv. Orit Marom
Shibolet & Co.

Adv. Jack Jacobs
Cleantech Law Partners

Stefan Acsinte
European Investment Bank

Yosef Abramowitz
CEO, Energiya Global; Co-founder, Arava Power

Karl Fickenscher
Power Africa

Hon. Dr. Dhieu Mathok Ding
Minister of Energy and Dams, Republic of South Sudan

Mr. Ilan Goldstein
Gigawatt Global Wind
The Scaling Up Challenge
Chair: Gil Shaki
Big Blue Hall

Gil Shaki
Office of the Chief Scientist, Ministry of Economy

Casper Van der Tak
CVDT Consulting

Zvika Klier
TIGI

Jonathan Shrier
U.S. Embassy

Dr. Harold Wiener
Terra Venture Partners

Eran Levy
Enel Innovation Hub

15:45-17:00 – Entrepreneurs, Economic and Environmental Aspects in Algae Rearing and Mariculture
Chair: Noam Mozes & Dr. Adi Levi
Coral Hall

Noam Mozes
Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Dr. Adi Levi
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Maya Yakobs
Zalul

Hagai Stadler
Algatech

Shaul Zaban
Zenovar

Lior Kaufman
BIOALGAE

The above list, besides having given a podium to many Ministers – it also focused on


Off-Grid as a Solution for Infrastructure in the Developing World via
Sun Industries – Marine Agriculture and Algae.

But these are technologies Israelis from private enterprise presented many years ago,
and effected in foreign countries but really did not have much of an an impact in Israel proper. Will the new effort effect also Israel or it will be mainly a tool for export?

Among the participating delegations I focused on the Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, UAE, based
IRENA – International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will be attending this year’s Eilat-Eilot Renewable and Clean Energy Conference. The delegation will participate in the event as part of the Agency’s mission to create a strategic plan for the Israeli government to help facilitate the deployment and proliferation of renewable energy in Israel. IRENA, based in Abu Dhabi, is the largest intergovernmental organization to promote the widespread adoption of renewable energy. The arrival of the globally recognized green powerhouse to the conference is a major boost for the Israeli clean energy sector.

Delegation
Dolf Gielen
Director IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre
Germany

Susan Pond

LONDON: Business can and must be at the forefront of technical and policy innovation to tackle climate change, says Dolf Gielen, Head of Innovation, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), in an exclusive Climate TV interview during IRENA’s Innovation Week in Bonn earlier this month.

Innovative technology already exists today to help companies meet their 100% renewable electricity goals, according to the Head of Innovation. “There are companies that are more in the service sector, like supermarkets, where it’s clear that rooftop solar photovoltaic can have a very important role,” he underlines, “especially if combined with energy efficiency and perhaps even some forms of energy storage – for example also cold storage, because there’s a lot of refrigeration demand.”

“A different story is the energy-intensive companies, like cement production, iron, steel, petrochemical. These are sectors where renewable electricity can play a role, but you also need to find a solution for the thermal energy demand, and we think that bioenergy there and bio-refinery concept can play a more important role.”

Following the plan drawn up in the historic Paris Agreement, business must act now to reach net zero emissions over the next half century. The role of technical innovation in this scenario is crucial, says Dolf Gielen, since the energy markets are going through a significant period of change – which can create huge business opportunities.

“The most prominent example is the electricity market”, he says. “You see that electricity prices have changed dramatically. There are now more and more periods of excess of renewable electricity available, where electricity is available for free, or people are even paid to use that electricity. That’s of course a great business opportunity.

“But the challenge is to find that specific application where you get most value out of that surplus of electricity. And on the other hand, there is now periods of electricity scarcity, when prices go up. So, if you have some kind of storage solution, or some type of demand-response capacity to deal with that scarcity, that’s a great business opportunity.”

GOING 100% RENEWABLE

Forward-thinking businesses are already reaping the benefits of the transition toward a low carbon economy. RE100, convened by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, is an ambitious global initiative to engage, support and showcase influential companies committed to using 100% renewable power.

“The cliché is that industry can’t do anything because they need cheap energy and you should just leave it to the market,” says Dolf Gielen. “But industry is also the largest consumer of energy, and therefore it has a great opportunity to influence how that sector develops. And in that sense RE100 is really key.

“It’s the companies that everybody knows, the big companies, showing that it is possible to move to 100% renewables, and that has of course a great function as an example for all the others. If these companies can do it, then why not everyone?”

Business and government must collaborate to unlock the trillions of dollars of investment needed for the transition to a net zero emissions economy. Policy support for this shift is key, and innovative solutions can accelerate progress.

The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance has played a vital role in shaping the Paris Agreement, showcasing the importance of sub-national governments in driving bold climate action that makes sense for both businesses and citizens.

ROLE OF INNOVATION

“What is clear from the discussion so far is that we see very rapid technological innovation, but we can almost take that for granted,” says Dolf Gielen, commenting the first day of IRENA’s Innovation Week. “While on the side of the market design, policy design, and business models – that’s probably where a stronger push would be warranted and that’s also where the great progress can be achieved and where the business opportunities are.

“The second outcome is that it’s clear that the power sector is the one where we will see more change in the coming years, and it’s going to be very interesting how that will evolve in different markets – probably we are going to see a diversity of solutions and pathways , and that will create fantastic new business opportunities.”

Leading businesses, investors and policymakers will convene at the end of the month in London for the Business & Climate Summit – the first big event post-Paris to implement what was agreed last December – and work together to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.

This year must be the turning point to implement the strategies that will help keep global temperature rise under the 2 degrees Celsius threshold – a pathway that is good for business, good for growth and good for the environment.

The Business & Climate Summit, on June 28-29, 2016 in London, will be critical to build the partnerships needed to scale up and accelerate this inevitable transition toward a more prosperous world.

Dennis Volk,Programme Officer
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

and Susan Pond

Dennis Volk advises IRENA member states and their governance decision makers in the design and implementation of enabling environments for the development and integration of renewable resources into power systems. His main focus areas are institutional design choices and techno-economic governance frameworks which ensure the reliable, affordable and sustainable development and operations of power systems at the interface between existing infrastructures, technology innovation and deployment. His advisory work, strategically summarised under the umbrella of the IRENA Regulatory Empowerment Project, responds to needs expressed by IRENA member states and cuts across several regional programmes in Africa, America and South-East Asia. Dennis’ advisory work builds upon his 10 years of experience in national and international power system governance, including for market liberalisation and renewables development and integration. As a former electricity analyst with the German federal energy regulator (‘Bundesnetzagentur’) he understands the various practical challenges of framework design and implementation in all relevant detail, a set of experience which he combines with global knowledge on energy markets and power systems through his work for the International Energy Agency (IEA). He is contributor to various decision making processes and author of various targeted papers.

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Also – as the conference was held at Eilat and a special emphasis was in place for marine technologies – the following has to be specially noted – this because we are familiar with the algae work we helped some 25 years ago to open a second plant in Brazil based on the Eilat plant that was built with Japanese investment according to studies performed at Bat Galim near Haifa:

Meeting of Investors and Entrepreneur in Marine Biotechnolgy Mariculture
15:30- 15:45 Registration

Introduction session:

Entrepreneurs, economic and environmental aspects in algae rearing and mariculture

Chairmans: Noam Mozes, Ami Ben Amotz

15:45-15:55 Establishing Algae production in the Desert, with a future perspective

Hagai Stadler, Alga-technologies

15:55-16:05 Recirculating Aquaculture Systems – the future of fish farming in large commercial operations

Yoav Dagan, Aqua-Maof

16:05-16:15 Remarks on conservation vs. development in the Gulf of Eilat

Maya Yakobs, Zalol

16:15-16:25 Environmental aspects in development of environmental friendly mariculture park in Southern Arava

Noam Mozes, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

16:25-16:45 Innovation on alae companies:

Univerve – Raanan Hertzog

Bioalgae – Lior Kaupman

Nori-Blue – Belya Potash

TransAlgae – Doron Izenshtat

16:45-17:00 Economic aspects of producing fuel from micro and macro algae

Ruslana Rachel Palatnik, University of Haifa

Entrepreneur Investors’ Meeting

Chairmans: Yaron Himhi

17:00 – Opening greetings

17:00-17:10 Meir Yitzhak Halevi – Mayor of Eilat
17:10-17:20 Hannan Ginat – Mayor of Eilot Council
17:20-17:30 Eli Lankri – Deputy Mayor of Eilat
17:30-18:00 Coffee break

18:00-18:15 The development of a biotechnology and mariculture park in Southern Eilat-EilotNoam Mozes,

Shaul Zaban, Dror Nachmias, Uri Harel

18:15-18:30 MBE foundation

Yaron Kimhi

18:30-18:45 Optional R&D infrastructure and facilities

Rafi Fridman

18:45-19:00 Mariculture – present and future challenges

Hanna Rosenfeld, National Center for Mariculture, IOLR

19:00-20:00

Expert panel answering questions from the audience on the requirements, possibilities and limitations of entrepreneurs in the development phase of the mariculture park Eilat-Eilot

Moderator: Yaron Gunda

Panel experts:

Ely Lankri, Noam Mozes. Hanna Rosenfeld, Amos Tandler, Sheldon Pink – Director of Industry area in Aqaba.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

EUobserver NEWS – ENERGY

EU-Israeli gas pipeline to compete with Russia.

By ANDREW RETTMAN

BRUSSELS, April 4, 2017 – 09:14

The EU and three member states have backed a plan for Israel to reduce Europe’s gas dependence on Russia – The European Commission and ministers from Cyprus, Greece, and Italy signed up to build a new gas pipeline from Israel to Europe at a meeting in Tel Aviv on Monday (3 April).


Israeli gas considered safer than Russia’s, which has been used for political blackmail


The 2,200-km East-Med pipeline would connect Israeli and Cypriot offshore gas fields to Greece and Italy.

It is designed to come online in 2025 with a capacity of up to 16 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year.

It would be the longest and deepest ever built, but an EU co-financed feasibility study by Italian firm IGI Poseidon said the project should go ahead.

Speaking in Tel Aviv on Monday, EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete took a swipe at a competing Russian project, Nord Stream 2.


“North Stream is a pipeline [that] adds nothing to the [EU’s] security of supply,” he said.

He said the commission’s strategy was “to diversify sources, routes, and suppliers” and hinted that Israel was a safer partner than Russia, which has used gas to blackmail neighbouring countries.


“Cyprus and Israel are very reliable suppliers,” he said.

With Nord Stream 2 disliked by Baltic, central European, and Nordic states, Canete added that the Israeli project “is a pipe that unites and will have the full support of all the members of the European Union”.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, said US investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, got excited about the €6 billion project when they learned that the commission was on board.

“When they heard that the European energy commissioner was behind it [and] ready to give some assistance, that was very helpful,” he said.

He said the amount of gas discovered for export so far, up to 500 bcm, was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

Carlo Calenda, Italy’s economic development minister, said Rome would seek the backing of the G7 club of wealthy nations, which includes Canada, Japan, and the US, for the pipeline at a summit in Sicily in May.

The Cypriot energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said the project would “showcase” the region’s potential as an alternative EU supplier.

The much bigger Nord Stream 2 pipeline is designed to pump 55 bcm of gas a year to Germany from 2020, concentrating EU supplies in Russia and Germany’s hands.

It faces open questions on whether EU laws would apply to its offshore section, as well as complaints from the Polish energy regulator, but Russia has already started buying pipe segments.


Political risk


The East-Med pipeline is to run through Cypriot waters to avoid disputed maritime zones with Turkey and Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus.

But EU-Israeli cooperation carries other political risks.

According to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, the EU’s envoy to Israel delivered a stinging rebuke on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians last week.

He said Israeli evictions in the West Bank constituted “forced transfers” in violation of Israel’s “obligations” under the Geneva Convention as an “occupying power”.

The ambassador, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, read out the EU note, which had been approved by all 28 member states in the bloc’s Political and Security Committee, at a meeting with Israel’s top foreign ministry official.

The EU foreign service had planned to hold a summit with Israel in February to upgrade relations, but plans were put on hold after a surge in Israeli settlement expansion.

——————————————
That means the major political risk as seen by the EU is thus the treatment by Israel of the Palestinians – but here at SustainabiliTank we are now confident that Trump is working on this so possible realignments are on the political horizon as well.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Global Trade Causes More Than 20 Percent of Air-Pollution Deaths
By Nikhil Swaminathan, Grist
03 April 2017


Global trade causes more than 20 percent of air-pollution deaths.


A new study in the journal Nature investigated what triggers the nearly 3.5 million annual deaths worldwide stemming from airborne particulate matter. It attributed more than 750,000 of them to goods being made in one part of the world and consumed in another.


The grim statistics center on Asia, home of cheap exports and lax environmental protections. Nearly 500,000 people succumb to smog-related illness each year on the continent, including more than 200,000 in China and more than 100,000 in India. The incidence of heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke are ratcheted up by breathing filthy air.


The main culprits behind this tragic phenomenon are buyers in the West.

The study links consumption in Western Europe to almost 175,000 yearly deaths abroad and consumption in the U.S. to more than 100,000.

“It’s not a local issue anymore,” says study coauthor Dabo Guan, a professor of climate change economics at the University of East Anglia.


Asian health could benefit if the Trump administration is successful in reviving American manufacturing. Some of that health burden could shift to the U.S., which has higher air-quality standards that should result in fewer smog-related fatalities.

Then again, if Trump has his way with environmental rules, all bets are off.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


AMERICAS In The TIME OF TRUMP.

MUCH OF THE CORN MEXICO CONSUMES COMES FROM THE US. MEXICO’S SECURITY WILL BE BETTER SERVED
BY CUTTING THIS DEPENDENCE ON US AGRICULTURE EXPORTS (FOOD – AND SEEDS) AND REDEVELOP ITS OWN
PRODUCTION.

FOR ADDED QUANTITIES THEY WILL BE WELL ADVISED TO HELP THE AGRICULTURE OF THE LATIN COUNTRIES TO ITS SOUTH.


Mexico Ready to Play the Corn Card in Trade Talks.


After Calling Nafta ‘Worst Trade Deal,’ Trump Appears to Soften Stance MARCH 30, 2017

By KIRK SEMPLE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 2, 2017

Much of the corn that Mexico consumes comes from the United States.

MEXICO CITY — From the hundreds of millions of tortillas consumed every year to the countless tons of corn-enriched feed that fattens livestock and poultry, corn is perhaps Mexico’s most important agricultural commodity, one at the center of its life and culture.

Now corn has taken on a new role — as a powerful lever for Mexican officials in the run-up to talks over Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The reason: Much of the corn that Mexico consumes comes from the United States, making it America’s top agricultural export to its southern neighbor. And even though President Trump appears to be pulling back from his vows to completely overhaul Nafta, Mexico has taken his threats to heart and has begun flexing its own muscle.

The Mexican government is exploring buying its corn elsewhere — including Argentina or Brazil — as well as increasing domestic production. In a fit of political pique, a Mexican senator even submitted a bill to eliminate corn purchases from the United States within three years.

American corn shipments to Mexico totaled nearly $2.6 billion last year and are part of an elaborate agricultural trade relationship between the two nations that has helped to interlace their economies. But though the corn business is a tiny fraction of the overall $525 billion in annual trade between the two countries, it has gained outsize importance and become something of a symbol for the nations’ economic codependence.

{OUR COMMENT: CHEAP US CORN HAS RUINED THE AGRICULTURE OF MEXICO AND IMPOVERISHED ITS COUNTRY-SIDE, LIKE IT DID IN MANY UNDERDEVELOPED COUNTRIES – SPECIALLY IN AFRICA.
CUTTING OFF TRADE DEALS LIKE NAFTA COULD EFFECTIVELY EMPOWER POORER COUNTRIES. WE THINK
THUS THAT TRUMP THREW HIS IDEAS IN HISTORY’S HOPPER AND MAY INDEED FORCE COUNTRIES TO DO
WHAT IS GOOD FOR THEM. GROW YOUR OWN – FROM YOUR SEEDS}

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The prospect that the United States could lose its largest foreign market for corn and other key products has shaken farming communities throughout the American Midwest, where corn production is a vital part of the economy. The threat is particularly unsettling for many residents of the Corn Belt because much of the region voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump in the presidential election.

“If we lose Mexico as a customer, it will be absolutely devastating to the ag economy,” said Philip Gordon, 68, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat on a farm in Saline, Mich., that has been in his family for 140 years.

Mr. Gordon said he planned to call Mr. Trump at the White House “and remind him we need trade.”

“He’s a businessman,” Mr. Gordon said. “He understands how much support for him came from the agricultural community.”

A Trump administration document that circulated on Capitol Hill last week appeared to present a more moderate approach to Nafta negotiations, seeking to preserve much of the existing agreement and recognizing the interconnectedness of the two nations’ economies, cultures and histories.

Still, people involved in agricultural trade on both sides of the border said they were not about to rest easy on the basis of the document, which even the White House seemed to disavow.

“It’s really hard to track with this president,” said Todd Hultman, a grains analyst at DTN, an agriculture news and data service based in Omaha. “The campaign rhetoric has been really over the top. But what actions are really going to come from the White House is still a mystery.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly asserted that Mexico has been the big winner under Nafta, and the United States the loser. But many leaders in the agricultural and food industries in the United States — not just in the corn market — hope Mr. Trump does not disrupt the agreement too much.

“When you mix politics with economics, you hope that economics influences your political decisions and not vice versa,” said Luis A. Ribera, associate professor of agricultural economics and director of the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University.

Many leaders in the American agriculture industry say Nafta has been a boon for farmers in the United States, particularly because it opened up new foreign markets and helped to expand agricultural exports more than fourfold since the agreement was signed.

In 2016, the United States exported nearly $18 billion of agricultural products to Mexico, the third-largest market for these American exports, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Mexico is not only the leading destination of American corn, but it also imports more dairy products, poultry and wheat from the United States than any other nation, and is one of the top importers of American pork, soybeans and beef, the department says.

——————————–

Varieties of Mexican corn displayed in Oaxaca. The government is considering an increase in domestic production. Credit Omar Torres/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mexico imported about 13.8 million tons of American corn last year, according to the Mexican government. Nearly all — about 12.7 million tons — was yellow corn, which is largely used for livestock feed, supplementing about 3.5 million tons of homegrown yellow corn.

The remainder of corn imports were of the white variety, which is used mostly for human consumption and is a key ingredient in tortillas. Mexico is essentially self-sufficient in white corn. The country produced 22.2 million tons last year and imported about 1.1 million tons of American white corn to make up for lucrative white corn exports to South Africa and other countries, according to the Mexican government.

And just as international supply chains in automobiles, aerospace and other industries crisscross the border, the same is true of agricultural products. Mexican calves — possibly fed American corn — are exported to the United States, where they are further fattened and then butchered for meat that may be exported for sale abroad, including to Mexico.

———————————————-

Farmers and agricultural industry representatives say that American farmers are already reeling from higher production costs and declining commodity prices, and that Mr. Trump’s threats on trade and immigration have injected more uncertainty.

“There’s a lot of volatility in agricultural markets to begin with,” said Barbara Patterson, government relations director of the National Farmers Union, “and shutting off our borders or losing access to trading partners has farmers concerned.”

The loss of Mexico as a market for agricultural products, farmers say, could presage job losses and bankruptcies.

“We’d like to see careful consideration and a cautious approach,” Ms. Patterson said.

———————————

Formal talks to renegotiate Nafta are still at least several months away. Still, corn producers, as well as their counterparts elsewhere in American agriculture, have begun to lobby elected officials and the administration.

“Soup to nuts: corn, dairy, meat, specialty products, fruit — they’re all pretty much gathered together,” said Tom Sleight, president and chief executive of the U.S. Grains Council. Producers, he said, are seeking to remind the administration of the importance of trade and Mexico to agriculture’s bottom line.

The administration’s threats have already begun to sour longstanding business arrangements between American sellers and Mexican buyers.

“Relationships are getting frosty with our customers right now,” Mr. Sleight said. “Usually it’s been a very symbiotic relationship, but recently it’s gotten a little more difficult. Mexicans are saying, ‘Why are you doing this to us? We’ve been your best customers.’”

The Mexican government has not delayed in exploring other markets in which to purchase corn.
A top agricultural official from Argentina visited Mexico City last month to discuss the possibility of increasing sales of Argentine yellow corn to Mexico. Officials from Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry are planning a trip to Argentina and Brazil this month to discuss increasing corn purchases from those countries.

Last month, Mexico’s deputy economy minister told The Financial Times that Mexico was exploring the possibility of allowing duty-free access to Argentine and Brazilian corn imports.

Developing new import arrangements with South America will not be easy, officials said. New relationships would have to be brokered, and costs to import may also be higher, officials say, in part because there are fewer established transportation routes between Mexico and the Mercosur countries of South America.

Mexican officials say, however, that an increase in trade between the regions might lead to more competition, which could increase efficiency and lower costs.

——————–

The showdown on Nafta has also inspired Mexican agricultural officials and producers to step up programs that would increase domestic corn production and revive a sector undercut by the agreement, said Alejandro Vázquez Salido, director of Aserca, a Mexican government agency that supports farmers and promotes the marketing of Mexican agricultural products.

Some economists blame Nafta for causing widespread unemployment in the Mexican agricultural sector by opening the floodgates to heavily subsidized American agricultural products, especially corn. A 2014 study estimated that 1.9 million agricultural jobs were wiped out, mainly those of small family farmers, helping to drive more illegal immigration into the United States.

Mr. Vázquez said that even before Mr. Trump began to attack Nafta and Mexico, the Mexican authorities had begun to discuss plans to substitute imports with national production. “But these new challenges, these new policies that we’re facing, are having us move in that direction faster than we were,” he said.

Mr. Trump has knocked Mexicans “out of our comfort zone,” forcing agriculture officials to find ways for Mexico to be less dependent on American imports, Mr. Vázquez continued. “We’re starting to move where we should’ve moved a long time ago: trying to produce internally what we’re importing.”

Meredith Hoffman contributed reporting from San Antonio.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

HAARETZ – Israel News

Trump Asked Alan Dershowitz to Tell Netanyahu Peace With Palestinians Possible Today.

At a chance meeting in Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. president told the jurist, a friend of the Israeli premier, that he ‘loves Israel and likes Netanyahu’ and ‘the time is ripe for a deal.’

read more: www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.prem…

U.S. President Donald Trump has conveyed to Benjamin Netanyahu his determination to reach an Israeli-Palestinian deal through the prominent Jewish-American jurist Alan Dershowitz.

An Israeli source who asked not to be named said that in a phone call to the prime minister last week, Dershowitz delivered Trump’s message that he is eager for a peace agreement and believes such a deal is possible today.
Dershowitz met the president by chance on March 18 while dining at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in southern Florida. The lawyer was there with Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of the conservative website Newsmax and a personal friend of Trump’s. While they were eating, Trump came to their table and chatted with them briefly. Later that evening, Trump spoke with Dershowitz for over 20 minutes.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

AS REPORTED BY IRITH JAWETZ WHO WATCHED THE PROGRAM IN VIENNA.

This week, the Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. But does America actually need a 9/11 Commission-style independent, bipartisan investigation into these matters?

Fareed spoke with Tom Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey and the chair of the 9/11 Commission.

Mr. Keane says that we definitely need to investigate the Russian problem, however, we also need to be able to negotiate with Russia and therefore we need a bipartisan investigation in Congress, only one, and not three investigations has to take place. The American people need to be confident that the investigation is open, bipartisan and that since there is a lot of smoke, we need to find out whether there is also fire.The President should definitely go along with a bipartisan investigation.

It will also be helpful if such an investigation would shed light on general cyber war, since we do not know enough about it yet.

———————————————-

Next on the show: General Electric is one of the biggest companies in the world. Fareed speaks with its long-time Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who was a job czar for President Obama and is now part of a jobs initiative for President Trump.

What does he make of the state of the U.S. economy right now? And of the Trump administration’s travel ban? And what will happen to U.S. jobs in an increasingly automated world?

Mr. Immelt said that in general he agrees with Trump’s ideas, however he disagrees with him on two subjects: Muslim ban and Climate change. We have many people from Muslin countries, many people travel to Muslim countries and it is unfair to execute a ban against them. He understands that National Security is at stake, but this is not the right way to handle the problem of security.

As for Climate Change, we have a come a long way, and it would be irresponsible to turn back now.
For 12 years we have been champions of Climate Change and changing the policy would be a grave mistake.

As for jobs, companies become more and more digital and workers will have to get much smarter.

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On his segment “What in the World” Fareed tackled the subject of Populism in the Western World.

The good news are that, while the World was seeing a rise in Populism in 2016 after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, the trend now, in Europe and around the world is to return to the Center.

Brexit and Trump were the peak, and now we are going back to the center. The UKIP in the UK has lost voters and is very unpopular, In the Netherlands the Right wing candidate Wilders only managed 13%, and in France it looks like Marine Le Pen will not gain enough votes and Macron will prevail. In Germany the Far Right party has only about 7% and it’s a neck to neck race between Merkel and Schultz.

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The last segment was a very emotional interview with Oscar-nominated documentary maker Evgeny Afineevsky and Kholoud Helmi, an underground journalist in Aleppo, about the HBO film “Cries from Syria” and six years of civil war in the country.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CNN/Washington Post Opinions by Fareed Zakaria

Trump was right about health care for most of his life.


{Butthen came the interests and he was not able to put a program on the table}

By Fareed Zakaria, WP Opinion writer, March 30, 2017 and presented on TV April 2, 2017.


The recent Republican debacle on health care could prove to be an opportunity. It highlighted, yet again, the complexity of the U.S. system, which continues to be by far the most expensive and inefficient in the advanced world. But President Trump could actually use the legislative collapse to fix health care if he went back to basics and to his core convictions on the topic, which are surprisingly intelligent and consistent.

There is an understandable impulse on the right to assume that health care would work more efficiently if it were a free market, or a freer market. This is true for most goods and services. But in 1963, economist Kenneth Arrow, who later won a Nobel Prize, offered an explanation as to why markets would not work well in this area. He argued that there was a huge mismatch of power and information between the buyer and the seller. If a salesman tells you to buy a particular television, you can easily choose another or just walk away. If a doctor insists that you need a medication or a procedure, you are far less likely to reject the advice. And, Arrow pointed out, people think they don’t need health care until they get sick, and then they need lots of it.

Every advanced economy in the world has implicitly acknowledged his argument because they have all adopted some version of a state-directed system for health care. Consider the 16 countries that rank higher than the United States on the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. All except Singapore (which has a unique state-driven approach) have universal health-care systems that can be described as single-payer (Medicare for all), government-run (the British model) or Obamacare-plus (private insurance with a real mandate that everyone opt in). Hong Kong, often considered the most unregulated market in the world, has a British-style government-run system. Switzerland, one of the most business-friendly countries, had a private insurance system just like the United States’ but found that, to make it work, it had to introduce a mandate.

While producing a CNN documentary, writes Fareed, on health-care systems around the globe, I was particularly struck by the experience of Taiwan, another free-market haven. In 1995, 41 percent of its population was uninsured and the country had very poor health outcomes. The government decided to canvass the world for the best ideas before instituting a new framework. It chose Medicare for all, a single government payer, with multiple private providers. The results are astonishing. Taiwan has achieved some of the best outcomes in the world while paying only 7 percent of its gross domestic product on health care (compared with 18 percent in the United States). I asked William Hsiao, an economist who helped devise the country’s model, what lessons they took, if any, from the United States. “You can learn what not to do from the United States rather than learn what to do,” he replied.

Americans often assume that despite its costs, American health care provides better services than others. We often hear about the waiting time for care in other countries. But according to the Commonwealth Fund, among industrialized countries the United States is in the middle of the pack for wait times, behind even Britain . Moreover, one of the world’s leading experts, Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton, has found that Americans use less care than the average for developed countries when it comes to things such as seeing a doctor and spending time in the hospital. The problem with the free market is that there is little profit in prevention and lots in crisis care.

Trump has now taken up the call to repeal Obamacare. But until recently, health care was actually one of the rare issues on which he had spoken out, before his campaign, with remarkable consistency. In his 2000 book “The America We Deserve,” he wrote:

“I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by healthcare expenses. .?.?. We must have universal healthcare. .?.?. The Canadian plan .?.?. helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. There are fewer medical lawsuits, less loss of labor to sickness, and lower costs to companies paying for the medical care of their employees. .?.?. We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.”

Trump was right on this issue for much of his life. He has now caved to special interests and an ideology unmoored by facts. He could simply return to his convictions, reach out to Democrats and help the United States solve its health-care crisis.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Jerusalem Post Opinion Piece of this Weekend.

BY ILAN EVYATAR MARCH 30, 2017 20:50


EARS TO THE GROUND: In approaching Middle East peace, Trump should focus on the attainable, not the improbable.

The Annual Arab League Summit took place in Amman this week with US President Donald Trump’s international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, in attendance as part of his Middle East “listening tour.” Greenblatt told Arab foreign ministers in the Jordanian capital that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible and reaffirmed Trump’s desire to pull off a deal.

Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah will all be in DC over the next month and peace talks will be high on the agenda at all of those meetings.

Reports have suggested that Trump is looking into the possibility of hosting a Middle East summit with Abbas, Netanyahu and Arab leaders, including from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

“The time has come to make a deal,” Greenblatt said before heading to Amman. Arab foreign ministers expressed their support for a two-state solution in the summit’s closing statement. Abbas, too, told Greenblatt a deal is possible, while Netanyahu also said he is committed to working with Trump “to advance peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors.”

Reports have suggested that Trump is looking into the possibility of hosting a Middle East summit with Abbas, Netanyahu and Arab leaders, including from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

“The time has come to make a deal,” Greenblatt said before heading to Amman. Arab foreign ministers expressed their support for a two-state solution in the summit’s closing statement. Abbas, too, told Greenblatt a deal is possible, while Netanyahu also said he is committed to working with Trump “to advance peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors.”

The ball is rolling and diplomatic crunch-time is approaching. All sides will have to decide how to turn their words into actions and what positions they will bring to the table.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has said that he is in discussions with the US administration over ground rules for settlement construction in the West Bank. Yesterday he hinted that he was about to approve a new settlement, the first in 25 years, for the 40 families evicted from Amona – perhaps a hint that some kind of understanding has been reached on the matter.

But if the Trump administration is serious about convening a Middle East summit, then there will be greater issues for Netanyahu to decide upon.

Is Trump really serious? Or is he just going through the motions? If he does convene a summit, will he make do with a photo-op that gets Israel and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states on the same stage for the first time or does he really think he can clinch the “ultimate deal”? Does he really believe he can succeed where all other presidents have failed?

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WE WROTE YESTERDAY THAT WE THINK TRUMP IS VERY SERIOUS ON THE MIDDLE EAST – THIS IS ACTUALLY THE ONLY AREA HE COULD PULL OFF A SUCCESS THESE DAYS.

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For all the talk about a convergence of interests between Israel and the moderate Sunni states that are all threatened by Iran, it is highly unlikely that the Middle East’s strange bedfellows will go public with their relationship without Israel’s prior agreement to conditions it cannot accept.

Furthermore, relations with Israel are hardly a priority for Saudi Arabia, as senior Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi wrote a few months back. Its priorities, he says, are economic reforms and the security threats posed by Iran and the collapse of neighboring countries – issues in which Israel cannot take a direct role. And when it comes to Iran, the worst thing Saudi Arabia could do, he said, is to be publicly aligned with Israel against Tehran.

While tacitly acknowledging existing ties in certain fields, he notes, “Whatever the kingdom needs is accessible without his help. If we presume that we need to buy an advanced Israeli device to accomplish a strategic Saudi project, there are a thousand third parties that are ready to buy the device and re-export it to us.”

As for the Palestinians and Israelis, Trump is hardly likely to have too much luck on that front either. It remains true that the maximum Israel is willing to give the Palestinians is less than the minimum the Palestinians are willing to accept and vice versa, and the fact that Trump prides himself on being a man who knows how to cut a deal will not change that.

If Greenblatt has been listening to his interlocutors on his tour he should report back to the president that conditions are not ripe for the ultimate deal, but that common interests do exist.

While a regional peace deal would obviously be desirable, rather than risk almost certain failure – that could well result in a new round of violence in a bid for an all-embracing final status agreement – Trump should concentrate on interim solutions; those that increase Palestinian autonomy, build up the Palestinian economy and institutions of state, increase freedom of movement, rein in settlement construction to the blocs and develop ties between Israel and the moderate Sunni states where common interests exist.

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WE BELIEVE THE TIME FOR SMALL MOVES IS OVER – THEY LED NOWHERE AND THIS WAS FOR ALL TO SEE.
TRUMP WILL HAVE TO DO IN BUSINESS WAYS ARM-TWISTING AND DISH OUT LOTS OF CANDY TO BUILD ON EXISTING PLANS AND HAVE THEM SUGAR COATED. THE TRUTH IS THAT BY NOW ALL MAIN ACTORS OUGHT TO BE INTERESTED IN THE TRUMP DEAL. TRUMP – JUST GO FOR THE GOLD AND LET NOBODY HOLD YOU BACK.
YOU STARTED WELL BY NOT GOING TO AIPAC.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Jerusalem Post Israel News

DEFEAT FOR CHIEF RABBI YOSEF IN HIGH COURT RULING ON ‘AGUNAH FROM SAFED’

BYJEREMY SHARON MARCH 30, 2017 13:59

In 2014, the Safed Rabbinical Court issued an innovative ruling in Jewish law issuing a bill of divorce to a woman whose husband was in a permanent vegetative state, on behalf of the husband.


In a defeat for Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, the High Court of Justice gave its final decision on the “Aguna from Safed” case.

Thursday’s ruling, that the Supreme Rabbinical Court may not hear a third party appeal to a lower court divorce ruling, is a blow to Yosef, who fiercely opposed the precedent set in the case. The decision is a victory for the woman herself and the “Mavoi Satum” organization, which represented her and which claimed that severe damage would be done to the finality of all rabbinical court rulings if third party appeals were heard by the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

The Aguna from Safed is the case of a 34-year-old woman whose husband sustained severe injuries in a motorcycle accident nine years ago, after which he fell into a coma and has never recovered.

Jewish law stipulates that a man must freely give his wife a bill of divorce, a get, for the marriage to be formally terminated.

But since an unconscious person is unable to do so this situation leaves his wife “chained” to the marriage.


In the summer of 2014, three rabbinical judges of the Safed Rabbinical Court, in consultation with the man’s doctors, ruled there was no serious likelihood that he would ever wake from his coma.

They then used an innovative interpretation of Jewish law concluding that they could issue a “get zikui” – a bill of divorce that is granted on the husband’s behalf – which he would agree and desire to give if he could.

According to the interpretation used by the rabbinical judges, it is a positive Torah commandment to end a marriage if the husband is no longer able to fulfill his marital obligations, and he would therefore want to issue the divorce if this was the case, allowing the rabbinical judges to enact this wish.

The Safed ruling was issued by court president Rabbi Uriel Lavi, Rabbi Yosef Yagoda and Rabbi Haim Bazak, who noted in the ruling that they had based their decision on the halachic opinions and writings of two of the most authoritative rabbis of the last century: Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, known as the Hazon Ish, and Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank.

But the ruling caused outrage among senior haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbis, including Yosef, who publicly denounced it, and an uninvolved third party subsequently appealed the decision to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

Such an appeal was itself unprecedented and Mavoi Satum appealed to the High Court claiming the Supreme Rabbinical Court had no authority to hear such an appeal.

On Thursday, the High Court upheld that claim and ruled in favor of the woman, and the panel of three judges, including deputy president of the court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, ordered the Supreme Rabbinical Court to refrain from holding such a hearing, as it had planned.

Rubinstein wrote that the woman had suffered greatly, first after her husband was injured in the accident that totally incapacitated him, then the long struggle of approximately seven years to get a divorce, and then the uncertainty of the divorce by having it challenged by Yosef, the Supreme Rabbinical Court president.

“The time has come to end this saga. The petitioner will go in peace and rebuild her life,” wrote Rubinstein.

The judges also wrote that hearing the appeal would violate the rabbinical court’s own regulations, and that reversing the decision and returning the woman to her aguna status would do injury to the Basic Law for human dignity and freedom.

In addition, they agreed with Mavoi Satum that allowing a third party appeal would injure the finality of rabbinical court decisions, and, in particular, would cast a shadow of doubt over all divorces ever issued, since ostensibly anyone even without standing could appeal it.

Rubinstein acknowledged the differences of opinion in Jewish law over the issue, but said allowing a third party appeal was not the way to address such issues.

“It being the eve of the Festival of Freedom [Passover] it is fitting that we ensure that the dignity and freedom of the petitioner be respected, and through this absolute order, the journey of her tribulations will end,” wrote Justice Hanan Meltzer at the end of the ruling.

Mavoi Satum director Batya Kehana Dror warmly welcomed the ruling, saying it would not only resolve the situation of the woman in question but also encourage other rabbinical courts and judges to take responsibility for the lives of those coming before them for judgment.

“We need to find new solutions to this problem within Judaism and Jewish law,” Kehana Dror said. “That is what these rabbinical judges did, and we need to let them forge new paths and not stymie this process.”

She added that Safed court president Lavi himself stated in the original ruling that if a judge finds a new solution he should not desist in applying it.

“The decision of the High Court in recognizing that the status of aguna as an injury to the dignity and freedom of chained women, even if it is ostensibly in the name of Jewish law, is a precedent that is likely to encourage important solutions within Jewish law for the sake of repairing the world and for the rights of Jewish women,” Kehana Dror added.

She acknowledged however that the strong stance taken by Yosef and the rabbinic establishment against the get zikui would have a chilling effect on other rabbinical judges who might consider issuing a groundbreaking ruling of their own.

AND YOSEF”S REVENGE:

The fact that Lavi was prevented by Yosef from even being nominated to the Supreme Rabbinical Court in the most recent round of appointments would further discourage such rulings.

Neither Yosef or the Rabbinical Courts Administration issued a response by press time.

But we want to bring attention to this case. We think Israel will not be able to lead again
humanity if it does not rid itself of the ultra-religious who insist in meddling in other peoples business – as if they have the direct line to God.

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