Climate change is here to stay, what are you doing to ensure that we live in a more prepared, better-adapted world?
Climate change is a global issue that requires smart action. According to a recent article in the Guardian, global carbon dioxide levels are set to pass the 400ppm milestone over the next few days, setting an unprecedented level of carbon in the atmosphere.
Other recent news headlines re-enforce the extent to which climate change is affecting current systems. From the USGS-NOAA’s Climate Change Impacts to U.S. Coasts Threaten Public Health, Safety and Economy to the IPCC urging Obama to raise awareness of science behind climate change. From Pacific Islands looking for new and innovative models to UK tourist attractions at risk of surface water flooding and early indicators that climate change could bring malaria to Europe. The evidence is there. What’s needed is action.
The Global Climate Adaptation Partnership (GCAP), working with the University of Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, is excited to offer the 2013 Adaptation Academy Foundation Course:Creating Climate Adaptation Leaders aiming to support decision making in a changing environment.
Now in our fourth year, the Adaptation Academy is a leading climate adaptation training programme, supporting participants in developing technical and leadership skills in climate adaptation through actual project work and practical case studies. We constantly refine and shape the course based on the learning and feedback from previous years, ensuring that we remain a global leader in climate adaptation training.
Climate adaptation requires champions, leaders and agents of change. Join us next August and immerse yourself in the Foundation Course. Emerge transformed. Be prepared to find adaptation solutions for some of the most profound challenges ever to face the world and build a strong foundation for integrating climate adaptation into your work. Join world-renowned alumni and the leading global network of climate adaptation.
From the halls of an Oxford college, explore your role, make new and binding friendships with future leaders, raise the bar on your own thinking and potential by rubbing shoulders with an internationally renowned academic community, learn first-hand from expert practitioners and be inspired by leading intellectuals pioneering revolutionary interventions.
The Foundation Course integrates four central learning themes:
Participants’ role as change makers
Causal chains of climate science
Adaptation as a process
Building on these four central themes, we have developed a range of different modules and exercises to bridge knowledge and application, theory and practice. The content of the 2013 Foundation Course will be:
Concepts of climate change, risk, vulnerability and adaptation
Analysing climate data for change and variability – trends and extreme events
Using climate change scenarios – uncertainty, probability, climate envelopes
Theory of change, leadership skills and communicating climate risks
Assessing vulnerability and impacts
Mapping socio-institutional networks, information flows and needs
National, sectoral, urban and local strategies and measures
Disaster risk reduction
Economics of adaptation and adaptation finance
Screening adaptation options to develop sound projects
Monitoring, evaluation and learning in adaptation pathways
Project development and practical skills development
Places are filling up and only a few remain! Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to revolutionise your thinking and take steps towards becoming an effective change maker.
The 2013 Adaptation Academy Foundation Course runs from the 12-30 August 2013, Oxford UK.
“THE TWO-STATE solution is dead!” This mantra has been repeated so often lately, by so many authoritative commentators, that it must be true.
Well, it ain‘t.
It reminds one of Mark Twain’s oft quoted words: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
BY NOW this has become an intellectual fad. To advocate the two-state solution means that you are ancient, old-fashioned, stale, stodgy, a fossil from a bygone era. Hoisting the flag of the “one-state solution” means that you are young, forward-looking, “cool”.
Actually, this only shows how ideas move in circles. When we declared in early 1949, just after the end of the first Israeli-Arab war, that the only answer to the new situation was the establishment of a Palestinian state side by side with Israel, the “one-state solution” was already old.
The idea of a “bi-national state” was in vogue in the 1930s. Its main advocates were well-meaning intellectuals, many of them luminaries of the new Hebrew University, like Judah Leon Magnes and Martin Buber. They were reinforced by the Hashomer Hatza’ir kibbutz movement, which later became the Mapam party.
It never gained any traction. The Arabs believed that it was a Jewish trick. Bi-nationalism was built on the principle of parity between the two populations in Palestine – 50% Jews, 50% Arabs. Since the Jews at that time were much less than half the population, Arab suspicions were reasonable.
On the Jewish side, the idea looked ridiculous. The very essence of Zionism was to have a state where Jews would be masters of their fate, preferably in all of Palestine.
At the time, no one called it the “one-state solution” because there was already one state – the State of Palestine, ruled by the British. The “solution” was called “the bi-national state” and died, unmourned, in the war of 1948.
WHAT HAS caused the miraculous resurrection of this idea?
Not the birth of a new love between the two peoples. Such a phenomenon would have been wonderful, even miraculous. If Israelis and Palestinians had discovered their common values, the common roots of their history and languages, their common love for this country – why, wouldn’t that have been absolutely splendid?
But, alas, the renewed “one-state solution” was not born of another immaculate conception. Its father is the occupation, its mother despair.
The occupation has already created a de facto One State – an evil state of oppression and brutality, in which half the population (or slightly less than half) deprives the other half of almost all rights – human rights, economic rights and political rights. The Jewish settlements proliferate, and every day brings new stories of woe.
Good people on both sides have lost hope. But hopelessness does not stir to action. It fosters resignation.
LET’S GO back to the starting point. “The two-state solution is dead”. How come? Who says? In accordance with what scientific criteria has death been certified?
Generally, the spread of the settlements is cited as the sign of death. In the 1980s the respected Israeli historian Meron Benvenisti pronounced that the situation had now become “irreversible”. At the time, there were hardly 100 thousand settlers in the occupied territories (apart from East Jerusalem, which by common consent is a separate issue). Now they claim to be 300 thousand, but who is counting? How many settlers mean irreversibility? 100, 300, 500, 800 thousand?
History is a hothouse of reversibility. Empires grow and collapse. Cultures flourish and wither. So do social and economic patterns. Only death is irreversible.
I can think of a dozen different ways to solve the settlement problem, from forcible removal to exchange of territories to Palestinian citizenship. Who believed that the settlements in North Sinai would be removed so easily? That the evacuation of the Gaza Strip settlements would become a national farce?
In the end, there will probably be a mixture of several ways, according to circumstances.
All the Herculean problems of the conflict can be resolved – if there is a will. It’s the will that is the real problem.
THE ONE-STATERS like to base themselves on the South African experience. For them, Israel is an apartheid state, like the former South Africa, and therefore the solution must be South African-like.
The situation in the occupied territories, and to some extent in Israel proper, does indeed strongly resemble the apartheid regime. The apartheid example may be justly cited in political debate. But in reality, there is very little deeper resemblance – if any – between the two countries.
David Ben-Gurion once gave the South African leaders a piece of advice: partition. Concentrate the white population in the south, in the Cape region, and cede the other parts of the country to the blacks. Both sides in South Africa rejected this idea furiously, because both sides believed in a single, united country.
They largely spoke the same languages, adhered to the same religion, were integrated in the same economy. The fight was about the master-slave relationship, with a small minority lording it over a massive majority.
Nothing of this is true in our country. Here we have two different nations, two populations of nearly equal size, two languages, two (or rather, three) religions, two cultures, two totally different economies.
A false proposition leads to false conclusions. One of them is that Israel, like Apartheid South Africa, can be brought to its knees by an international boycott. About South Africa, this is a patronizing imperialist illusion. The boycott, moral and important as it was, did not do the job. It was the Africans themselves, aided by some local white idealists, who did it by their courageous strikes and uprisings.
I am an optimist, and I do hope that eventually Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs will become sister nations, living side by side in harmony. But to come to that point, there must be a period of living peacefully in two adjoining states, hopefully with open borders.
THE PEOPLE who speak now of the “one-state solution” are idealists. But they do a lot of harm. And not only because they remove themselves and others from the struggle for the only solution that is realistic.
If we are going to live together in one state, it makes no sense to fight against the settlements. If Haifa and Ramallah will be in the same state, what is the difference between a settlement near Haifa and one near Ramallah? But the fight against the settlements is absolutely essential, it is the main battlefield in the struggle for peace.
Indeed, the one-state solution is the common aim of the extreme Zionist right and the extreme anti-Zionist left. And since the right is incomparably stronger, it is the left that is aiding the right, and not the other way round.
In theory, that is as it should be. Because the one-staters believe that the rightists are only preparing the ground for their future paradise. The right is uniting the country and putting an end to the possibility of creating an independent State of Palestine. They will subject the Palestinians to all the horrors of apartheid and much more, since the South African racists did not aim at displacing and replacing the blacks. But in due course – perhaps in a mere few decades, or half a century – the world will compel Greater Israel to grant the Palestinians full rights, and Israel will become Palestine.
According to this ultra-leftist theory, the right, which is now creating the racist one state, is in reality the Donkey of the Messiah, the legendary animal on which the Messiah will ride to triumph.
It’s a beautiful theory, but what is the assurance that this will actually happen? And before the final stage arrives, what will happen to the Palestinian people? Who will compel the rulers of Greater Israel to accept the diktat of world public opinion?
If Israel now refuses to bow to world opinion and enable the Palestinians to have their own state in 28% of historical Palestine, why would they bow to world opinion in the future and dismantle Israel altogether?
Speaking about a process that will surely last 50 years and more, who knows what will happen? What changes will take place in the world in the meantime? What wars and other catastrophes will take the world’s mind off the “Palestinian issue”?
Would one really gamble the fate of one’s nation on a far-fetched theory like this?
ASSUMING FOR a moment that the one-state solution would really come about, how would it function?
Will Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs serve in the same army, pay the same taxes, obey the same laws, work together in the same political parties? Will there be social intercourse between them? Or will the state sink into an interminable civil war?
Other peoples have found it impossible to live together in one state.Take the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia. Serbia. Czechoslovakia. Cyprus. Sudan. The Scots want to secede from the United Kingdom. So do the Basques and the Catalans from Spain. The French in Canada and the Flemish in Belgium are uneasy. As far as I know, nowhere in the entire world have two different peoples agreed to form a joint state for decades.
NO, THE two-state solution is not dead. It cannot die, because it is the only solution there is.
Despair may be convenient and tempting. But despair is no solution at all.
And from the Editor of Tikkun Magazine – Rabbi Michael Lerner who says that threatening with a One State Solution will scare Israelis in opting for a Two States Solution. we would like to repeat our belief that for the sake of expediency, and judging from the fact that Hamas is there to stay, we suggest a Three State Solution.
Editor’s Note: Uri Avnery, chair of Israel’s peace movement Gush Shalom in Tel Aviv, challenges those lefties and righties who repeat the mantra that “the 2 state soluiton is dead.” If only the “One State” solution is on the agenda, he points out, then all those Israelis who have been demonstrating against new settlements have no case whatsoever, since in a one state solution both Israelis and Palesitnians should be able to buld anyplace they want within that state and settlement construciton should be viewed as a step in that direction! He seems to be saying to peace people: you can’t have it both ways–if you want one state then you have no good grounds to oppose Jews building wherever they want in that supposedly emerging one state. I have one disagreement with Avnery’s piece below: I think if Palestinians and peaceniks around the world were to embrace one state and switch their demands to a simple one: “One person one vote throughout Israel/Palestine” this prospect might seem so overwhelmingly scary to Israelis that it would create the political pressure inside Israel to seriously negotiate a two state solution. It might be that asking for one state is the only way Palesitnians will get a two state solution. Just a possibility to consider.
Our website has proposed that geopolitics are headed to a new structure were it is needed to have a billion people in order to be considered a World Power. As such we proposed that besides China and India, the other World powers will be -
- an Anglo-American Block led by the US and that will include also the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and as well Mexico and Japan;
- a European Block led out of Brussels by a more united and reorganized EU and that will include Russia but not the UK;
- an Islamic Block led by Turkey or Indonesia that will stretch from Mauritania to Indonesia;
- and a block “Of the Rest” that will be led by Brazil and include, with a few exceptions based on the US led Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP) , Latin America, Africa, the SIDS, parts of Asia.
It is this last Block that will become the new Third World – that is the Sixth World of those outside the China, India, US, EU, and Islamic Blocks.
We see the recent news of Brazil defeating Mexico for the leadership of the WTO as an important step in above direction.
Brazil Wins Leadership of the World Trade Organization
Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo has been chosen over Mexican candidate Herminio Blanco as the newest director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 7. El Palenque, AnimalPolitico’s debate forum for experts, discusses the effects this win will have on Mexican diplomacy, Brazil’s role in trade liberalization, and the prominence of the BRICS on the world stage. Azevêdo will be the first Latin American to head the WTO.
But there is still a question to be answered: Who won? The man or the country?
Between Azevêdo and Blanco, there may not be much to choose. Both have impressive credentials. Azevêdo, a career diplomat in one of the world’s most polished diplomatic services, has been Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO since 2008. He knows the organisation inside out. Blanco is a businessman steeped in trade, a trade consultant who was formerly Mexico’s trade minister and its chief negotiator during preparation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
If the race was between two technocrats, it must have been a photo finish.
But what if the WTO members voted for the country, not the man? Then, it was a matter of chalk and cheese. Disgruntled Mexicans – whose pride will have taken a severe knock – will call this a victory of protectionism over free trade.
It will also be a victory of the developing world over the developed one.
Mexico, which has free trade agreements with 44 different countries, is the new poster child of developed world policies at work in the developing world. Brazil has free trade agreements with nobody, and has shown a tendency to renegotiate what agreements it does have as soon as they become inconvenient – not least its auto agreement with Mexico. Many developing countries – in Africa and Asia as well as in Latin America – will have felt the Brazilian was much more likely to protect their fledgling manufacturers and farmers than was the Mexican. Many of those countries, especially in Africa, already have closer ties with Brazil than they do with Mexico.
“I, as candidate and as director of the WTO will not be representing Brazil,” Azevedo told Reuters in a phone interview on Tuesday.
“I made it to the final round in the election with those complaints on the table, and that doesn’t change things. It means there is an understanding between WTO members that the candidate must be independent from his country and be evaluated according to his skills.”
Asked if he considered Brazil was protectionist, he declined to comment.
To those who say that, under Azevêdo, the WTO will lose sight of its mission to promote free trade, others will reply that it never had one in the first place.
But Tuesday’s decision will make a big difference. No matter how pure a technocrat he is, Azevêdo will find it hard to fend off the influence of Brasília. It was the Brazilian that won, and not the Mexican.
SO, WE WILL SAY – THE FT AGREE WITH OUR POINT OF VIEW THAT THE US CANDIDATE – MEXICO – LOST TO THE CANDIDATE OF THE THIRD WORLD – THAT IS OUR TRUE SIXTH WORLD – WHO WILL STAND UP TO THE BIGGER BOYS OF THE OTHER FIVE WORLDS – SPECIFICALLY THE US – WHO BLATANTLY USE THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD – EXCLUSIVELY!!!
FURTHER NEWS OF RELEVANCE TO THE NEW WORLD IN THE MAKING:
Clinton Global Initiative to Launch Latin America Program in Rio
Former President Bill Clinton announced on May 6 that the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) would be expanding to Latin America in December 2013, with its first meeting set to launch in Rio de Janeiro. He was joined by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes in making the announcement at the mid-year meeting for his annual conference.
Brazil Starts Small Business Ministry
President Dilma Rousseff announced the start of a small business ministry on May 6, saying that government banks will provide up to $7,500 to small businesses in 2013 and will reduce the public loan interest rate from 8 percent to 5 percent beginning on May 31. “The question of small business is indispensable for the country’s future and present,” said Rousseff. Brazil’s estimated 6 million micro and small businesses accounted for 40 percent of the country’s 15 million new jobs from 2001 to 2011.
Cuba to Send 6,000 Doctors to Brazil
Brazil plans to hire approximately 6,000 Cuban doctors to work in the country’s rural areas, said Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota on May 6. The Federal Medical Council–a Brazilian doctor’s organization–questioned the island nation’s medical qualifications, but Patriota called Cuba “very proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.” President Dilma Rousseff began the talks in January 2012, and both countries are currently consulting with the Pan American Health Organization to move forward.
A Bright Outlook for Latin American Economies?
The International Monetary Fund’s May 2013 Regional Economic Outlook predicts Latin America’s growth to increase approximately 3.5 percent by the end of the year. But, in an article for The Huffington Post, Director for the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department Alejandro Werner questions whether countries in the region will be able to “adjust policies to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability” after the near-future external benefits, such as easy external financing and high commodity prices, begin to decline.
Volcanoes and Geysers Could Fuel Chilean Energy
Chile will partner with New Zealand to develop its deep exploration drilling and to develop its geothermal energy production. Chile is home to 20 percent of the world’s active volcanoes, which can be harnessed for geothermal energy. However, only 5 percent of the country’s electrical power is attributed to renewable energy resources, reports IPS News.
The Pacific Alliance Creates a Legislative Committee
Heads of Congress from Pacific Alliance members Chile, Colombia, México, and Perú signed an accord to form a Pacific Alliance Inter-Parliamentary Committee on May 6, reportsLa República. The committee would serve as the legislative arm of the Alliance by developing a framework to approve free trade agreements and distribution of goods, services, and capital under the Alliance. The committee will be officially presented to the Alliance at a legislative session in Chile in June.
Washington to Host Chilean and Peruvian Presidents
Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera and Peru’s President Ollanta Humala will visit Washington D.C. in June to discuss economic relations with President Obama. Piñera’s visit will take place on June 4, and Humala will visit one week later on June 11. The agenda will likely touch on negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as all three countries hope to develop closer economic ties to Asian markets.
Obstacles to Sustainability at Centre of High-level discussions at UN Economic and Social Council Monday, 13 May from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDTECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters
Concerned that implementation of sustainable development is seriously lagging, world leaders at Rio+20 committed to fostering and implementing sustainable development at all levels. To this end, the Economic and Social Council is taking action to fulfill its integration mandate.
The Council is gathering a wide range of senior officials and civil society representatives to examine how science, technology and innovation can contribute to the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development for triple-win solutions in the energy and agriculture sectors at the upcoming ECOSOC Integration Meeting on 13 May. The theme is: Achieving sustainable development: Integrating the social, economic and environmental dimensions. The dialogue aims to identify triple-win solutions that can emerge from a sustainable development approach, as well as measures to strengthen the science-policy interface. The dialogue will also help identify steps needed for the Council and its subsidiary bodies to effectively promote the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The outcome of the discussion will be considered by ministers when they meet for the Annual Ministerial Review in Geneva in July. The event is open to the press.But will it be open to the truly interested press? Those affiliated with the topic of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT that for years were excluded from what the UN defined as accredited media? We can hope only that the present leader of the DPI will establish a new policy to help the evolving efforts to turn the up to now useless ECOSOC into the intended Commission or Council for Sustainability – or what the Sustainable Development Commission was intended for but never became. More information: For a full list of speakers, visit: www.un.org/en/ecosoc/we/pdf/programme.pdf For more background information, visit: www.un.org/en/ecosoc/we/pdf/concept_note_2013.pdf Media contact: Daniel Shepard, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 212-963-9495 – UN Department of Public Information Paul Simon, email@example.com, +1 917-367-5027 – UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
2013 Economic and Social Council
Integration MeetingAchieving sustainable development: Integrating the
social, economic and environmental dimensions
Ø H.E. Ambassador Néstor Osorio, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council Ø Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations Ø Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Session 1: Policy convergence for sustainable development
0:25 a.m. – 01:00 p.m.
Moderator: Mr. Adnan Z. Amin, Director General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Keynote speech: Ø Mr. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (via video link) Panellists: Ø H.E. Mr. Michael Anderson, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for UN Development Goals, United Kingdom Ø H.E. Ms. Sus Ulbæk, Ambassador, Global Challenges, Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), Denmark (via video link) Ø Ms. Gisela Alonso, President, the Cuban Agency of Environment, Cuba (tbc) Ø Mr. Ian Noble, Lead Scientist, Global Adaptation Institute, Washington D.C. Ø Mr. José Antonio Ocampo, Chairperson, United Nations Committee for Development Policy Discussant: Ø Ms. Jan McAlpine, Director, United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Discussion questions: · What are the potential short-term policy choices and longer-term gains inherent in an approach that balances and integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development? · What are necessary elements for achieving policy coherence for the balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development?
Session 2: Scaling up for sustainable development
03:00 p.m. – 05:50 p.m.
Moderator: Ø Mr. Robert C. Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, United Nations Keynote speech: Ø Mr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General, UNIDO (via video link) Panellists: Ø H.E. Mr. Kenred Dorsett, Minister of Environment and Housing, The Bahamas (TBC) Ø Ms. Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capitalism Ø Mr. Gary Lawrence, Corporate Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, AECOM Ø Mr. Philip Dobie, Senior Fellow, World Agroforestry Centre Discussant: Ø Mr. Felix Dodds, Former Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future Discussion questions: · How do science, technology and innovation (STI) intersect with sustainable development and be better used to promote triple-win solutions? · What kind of institutional framework and governance arrangements are needed for the successful integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development at the regional and country levels? · What specific steps are needed for ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies to effectively promote a balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development? Closing plenary
05:50 p.m. – 06:00 p.m.
Closing remarks: Ø Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Ø H.E. Ambassador Néstor Osorio, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council
This website argued for years that Turkey could have enhanced its world position by allowing enough slack to its own Kurds establishing itself as a bi-National State – Turkish-Kurdish and absorb the Kurdish areas of Iraq, Iran, Syria, as well. They did not – and now Erdogan tries to go for what he thinks is within his reach.
PKK Challenges Barzani
In Iraqi Kurdistan.
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters talk to each other as they stand guard at the Kandil mountains near the Iraq-Turkish border in Sulaimaniya, 330 km (205 miles) northeast of Baghdad March 24, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Azad Lashkari)
While Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) pursues the cease-fire plan with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the PKK is also involved in a subtle power struggle across Turkey’s borders. This struggle is being played out by the PKK’s efforts to check the influence of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, over leadership of the Kurds. By engaging in the Kurdistan Region’s messy pre-election politics and supporting the opposition Change Movement (Goran), the PKK is attempting to stifle a third mandate for Barzani, while stirring local criticism of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). These PKK interventions are unlikely to alter the status quo in the region — at least for the forthcoming elections — however; they are fueling political fragmentation and creating additional challenges to regional stability.
Indeed, rivalries between the PKK and Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are nothing new. During the Iraqi Kurdish civil war of the 1990s, the PKK and KDP engaged in armed conflict against each other, as well as the KDP against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The Ocalan-Barzani competition re-emerged after the Syrian civil war broke out, and as different Syrian Kurdish groups backed by the PKK and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) vied for power with the KDP-supported Kurdish National Council. This rivalry continues with Barzani tied to Turkey and attempting to court Syrian Kurdish youth groups and independents away from PYD influence.
Still, Barzani and Ocalan reached a tacit agreement after Ocalan’s imprisonment in 1999, which allowed the PKK to relocate in the Kandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The KRG also tolerates the presence of thousands of PKK supporters in the Makhmour Camp, where they have been residing since 1994 as political refugees. Moreover, despite the rapprochement between Erbil and Ankara, Barzani has affirmed that “the period of Kurds killing Kurds is over” and that the KRG Peshmerga would not engage militarily against the PKK or any other Kurdish group. These efforts have led to a mutually peaceful coexistence between the KDP and PKK, despite the distinctly different ideologies and regional relationships each has developed, particularly with Ankara.
The last six months, however, have seen a shift in PKK tactics inside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Whereas the PKK leader in Kandil, Murat Karaliyan, had previously indicated his willingness to work with Barzani in 2009, he now opposes electing him to a third term as president. The PKK is using its networks and social media to incite local opposition against Barzani and the Iraqi Kurdish parties. For instance, it is encouraging local populations in the Iraqi Kurdish-Iranian border town of Halabja to criticize the KRG and Barzani for lack of services. One of the PKK websites has inflammatory photos and remarks about Barzani’s leadership, as well as other KRG political party leaders.
This shift reflects a reaction to Barzani’s growing power — including his close ties to Erdogan — and his claims or ambitions to become a leader of all the Kurds, expressed in Kurdish as “president of Kurdistan,” which the PKK rejects.
More specifically, the PKK shift coincides with the illness of Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq and leader of the PUK, which has further weakened the PUK and limited any serious competition for the KDP and Barzani’s power. In fact, the rump of the PUK — known as the “Gang of Four” — may have called for a separate list in the planned September elections to reflect its differences and attempts to challenge the KDP. Yet the PUK leadership continues to support and depend upon Barzani as president, particularly as a financial patron.
This is why the PKK is now calling for a “Kurdistan supported by Goran.” Goran remains the only secular Kurdish nationalist party that seeks to remove Barzani from office while pressing for a parliamentary and not presidential system for the region. Goran also has indicated its support for the PKK and affirmed the PYD as the representative of the Kurds in Syria, posing another direct challenge to Barzani and the KDP. The PKK-Goran alliance also is based on shared concerns about Turkey’s regional power and the need to check Erdogan’s influence over Iraqi Kurds and in Syria.
It is unlikely that the PKK will weaken the deeply rooted patronage networks inside the Kurdistan Region that will assure Barzani power and KDP and PUK influence for years to come. Many people, particularly the youth, may support the PKK as true Kurdish nationalists and back Goran; however, they also have been co-opted by the increasingly generous handouts and comfortable lifestyles made available to them by the KRG in recent years. Many others are disinterested in politics altogether or unwilling to pay the consequences of being linked to the opposition.
Still, PKK engagement in Iraqi Kurdish politics matters because it reveals the growing complexity of the trans-border Kurdish problem and the PKK’s political agenda to change the status quo. This challenge will not only be about advancing Kurdish nationalist rights in different states, but clarifying who will represent Kurdish interests and what form these nationalist interests should take. Whatever the outcome, these struggles will likely create a wide opening for more deal-making between Kurdish groups and regional states, keeping the Kurdish nationalist movement fragmented from within and across borders.
Denise Natali holds the Minerva Chair at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University where she specializes in Iraq, regional energy issues and the Kurdish problem. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the US government.
Some look at the upheaval in Syria through a religious lens. The Sunni and Shia factions, battling for supremacy in the Middle East, have locked horns in the heart of the Levant, where the Shia-affiliated Alawite sect has ruled a majority Sunni nation for decades.
Some see it through a social prism. As they did in Tunis with Muhammad Bouazizi — an honest man who couldn’t make an honest living in this corruption-ridden part of the world — the social protests that sparked the war in Syria started in the poor and disenfranchised parts of the country.
Others look at the eroding boundaries of state in Syria and other parts of the Middle East as a direct result of the sins of Western hubris and Colonialism.
Professor Arnon Sofer has no qualms with any of these claims and interpretations. But the upheaval in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, he says, cannot be fully understood without also taking two environmental truths into account: soaring birthrates and dwindling water supply.
Over the past 60 years, the population in the Middle East has twice doubled itself, said Sofer, the head of the Chaikin geo-strategy group and a longtime lecturer at the IDF’s top defense college, where today he heads the National Defense College Research Center. “There is no example of this anywhere else on earth,” he said of the population increase. Couple that with Syria’s water scarcity, he said, “and as a geographer it was clear to me that a conflict would erupt.”
The Pentagon cautiously agrees with this thesis. In February the Department of Defense released a “climate-change adaptation roadmap.” While the effects of climate change alone do not cause conflict, the report states, “they may act as accelerants of instability or conflict in parts of the world.” Predominantly the paper is concerned with the effects of rising seas and melting arctic permafrost on US military installations. The Middle East is not mentioned by name.
But Sofer and Anton Berkovsky, who together compiled the research work of students at the National Defense College and released a geo-strategic paper on Syria earlier in the year, believe that water scarcity played a significant role in the onset of the Syrian civil war and the Arab Spring, and that it may help re-shape the strategic bonds and interests of the region as regimes teeter and borders blur. Sofer also believes that a “Pax Climactica” is within reach if regional leaders would only, for a short while, forsake their natural inclinations to wake up in the morning and seek to do harm.
Syria is 85 percent desert or semi-arid country. But it has several significant waterways. The Euphrates runs in a south-easterly direction through the center of the country to Iraq. The Tigris runs southeast, tracing a short part along Syria’s border with Turkey before flowing into Iraq. And, aside from several lesser rivers that flow southwest through Lebanon to the Mediterranean, Syria has an estimated four to five billion cubic meters of water in its underground aquifers.
From 2007-2008, over 160 villages in Syria were abandoned and some 250,000 farmers relocated to Damascus, Aleppo and other cities. The capital, like many of its peer cities in the Middle East, was unable to handle that influx of people. Residents dug 25,000 illegal wells in and around Damascus, pushing the water table ever lower and the salinity of the water ever higher.
For these reasons the heart of the country was once an oasis. For 5,000 years, Damascus was famous for its agriculture and its dried fruit. Since 1950, however, the population has increased sevenfold in Syria, to 22 million, and Turkey, in an age of scarcity, has seized much of the water that once flowed south into Syria.
“They’ve been choking them,” Sofer said, noting that Turkey annually takes half of the available 30 billion cubic meters of water in the Euphrates. This limits Syria’s water supply and hinders its ability to generate hydroelectricity.
In 2007, after years of population growth and institutional economic stagnation, several dry years descended on Syria. Farmers began to leave their villages and head toward the capital. From 2007-2008, Sofer said, over 160 villages in Syria were abandoned and some 250,000 farmers – Sofer calls them “climate refugees” – relocated to Damascus, Aleppo and other cities.
The capital, like many of its peer cities in the Middle East, was unable to handle that influx of people. Residents dug 25,000 illegal wells in and around Damascus, pushing the water table ever lower and the salinity of the water ever higher.
This, along with over one million refugees from the Iraq war and, among other challenges, borders that contain a dizzying array of religions and ethnicities, set the stage for the civil war.
Tellingly, it broke out in the regions most parched — “in Daraa [in the south] and in Kamishli in the northeast,” Sofer said. “Those are two of the driest places in the country.”
Professor Eyal Zisser, one of Israel’s top scholars of Syria, agreed that the drought played a significant role in the onset of the war. “Without doubt it is part of the issue,” he said. Zisser did not believe that water was the central issue that inflamed Syria but rather “the match that set the field of thorns on fire.”
Rebel troops transporting two women to safety along the Orontes River, which has shrunk in recent years and grown increasingly saline (Photo credit: CC BY FreedomHouse)
Since that fire began to rage in March 2011, the course of the battles has been partially dictated by a different sort of logic, not environmental in nature. “Assad is butchering his way west,” Sofer said. He believes the president will eventually have to retreat from the capital and therefore has focused his efforts on Homs and other cities and towns that lie between Damascus and the Alawite regions near the coast, cutting himself an escape route.
Sofer and Berkovsky envision several scenarios for Syria. Among them: Assad puts down the rebellion and remains in power; Assad abdicates and a Sunni majority seizes control; Assad abdicates and no central power is able to assert control. The most likely scenario, Sofer said, was that the Syrian dictator would eventually flee to Tehran. But he preferred to avoid that sort of micro-conjecture and to focus on the regional effects of population growth and water scarcity and the manner in which that ominous mix might shape the future of the region.
Writing in the New York Times from Yemen on Thursday, Thomas Friedman embraced a similar thesis, noting that the heart of the al-Qaeda activity in the region corresponded with the areas most stricken by drought. Sofer published a paper in July where he laid out the grim environmental reality of the region and argued that, as in Syria, the conflicts bedeviling the region were not about climate issues but were deeply influenced by them.
Egypt, Sofer wrote, faces severe repercussions from climate change. Even a slight rise in the level of the sea – just half a meter – would salinize the Nile Delta aquifers and force three million people out of the city of Alexandria. In the more distant future, as the North Sea melts, the Suez Canal could decline in importance. More immediately, and of greater significance to Israel, he wrote that Egypt, faced with a water shortage, would likely grow more militant over the coming years. But he felt the militancy would be directed south, toward South Sudan and Ethiopia and other nations competing for the waters of the Nile, and not north toward the Levant.
The Nile River, the lifeblood of Egypt’s 82 million people (Photo credit: CC BY Simona Scolari, Flickr)
As proof that this pivot has already begun, Sofer pointed to Abu-Simbel, near the border with Sudan. There the state has converted a civilian airport into a military one. “The conclusion to be drawn from this is simple and unequivocal,” he wrote. “Egypt today represents a military threat to the southern nations of the Nile and not the Zionist state to the east.”
The Sinai Peninsula, already quite lawless, will only get worse, perhaps to the point of secession, he and Berkovsky wrote. Local Bedouin will have difficulty raising animals in the region and will turn, to an even greater degree, to smuggling material and people along a route established in the Bronze Age, through Sinai to Asia and Europe.
Syria, even if the war were swiftly resolved, is “on the cusp of catastrophe.” Jordan, too, is in dire need of water. And Gaza, like Syria, has been battered by unchecked drilling. The day after Israel left under the Oslo Accords, he said, the Palestinian Authority and other actors began digging 500 wells along the coastal aquifer even though Israel had warned them of the dangers. “Today there are around 4,000 of them and no more ground water. It’s over. There’s no fooling around with this stuff,” he said.
Only the two most stable states in the region – Israel and Turkey – have ample water.
Turkey is the sole Middle Eastern nation blessed with plentiful water sources. Ankara’s control of the Tigris and the Euphrates, among other rivers, means that Iraq and Syria, both downriver, are to a large extent dependent on Turkey for food, water and electricity. That strategic advantage, along with Turkey’s position as the bridge between the Middle East and Europe, “further serves its neo-Ottoman agenda,” Sofer said.
He envisioned an increased role for Turkey both in the Levant and, eventually, in central Asia and along the oil crossroads of the Persian Gulf, pitting it against Iran. Climate change, he conceded, has only a minor role in that future struggle for power but it is “an accelerant.”
Israel no longer suffers from drought. Desalination, conservation and sewage treatment have alleviated much of the natural scarcity. In February, the head of the Israel Water Authority, Alexander Kushnir, told the Times of Israel that the country’s water crisis has come to an end. Half of Israel’s two billion cubic meters of annual water use is generated artificially, he said, through desalination and sewage purification.
For Sofer, this self-sufficiency is an immense regional advantage. Israel could pump water east to Jenin in the West Bank and farther along to Jordan and north to Syria. International organizations could follow Israel’s example and fund regional desalination plants, which, he noted, cost less than a single day of modern full-scale war.
Instead, rather than an increase in cooperation, he feared, the region would likely witness ever more desperate competition. Sofer said his friends see him as a sort of Jeremiah. But the Middle East, he cautioned, is a region where “leaders wake up every morning and ask what can I do today to make matters worse.”
Arnon Sofer, a longtime professor at the IDF’s National Defense College, sees a link between the war in Syria and the water shortages there (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/ Flash 90)
Norway, Canada, the United States, and the Tar Sands.
9 May 2013
by James Hansen
Today 36 Norwegian organizations sent an open letter to Prime Minister Stoltenberg expressing opposition to development of Canadian tar sands by Statoil (the Norwegian state is majority shareholder of Statoil). Signatories include not only environmental organizations, but a broad public spectrum, including, appropriately, many youth
It is encouraging that Norwegian youth press their government to stop supporting tar sands development, given
the fact that Norway saves much of its oil earnings for future generations and given the fact that Norway is not
likely among the nations that will suffer most from climate change.
I wonder if the Norway government response will be better than their response in 2010.
The gap between public preference and government policy is not unique to Norway. Similar situations were found in other nations, as described in “Storms of My Grandchildren.”
Governments talk green while doing black, supporting or even subsidizing the fossil fuel industry while
doing little to solve fossil fuel addiction.
The Canadian public is also impressive. Most messages that I receive from Canadians are ones of encouragement, apologetic that some government ministers speak out of both sides of their mouth at the same time. On one hand,
they say that tar sands will make Canada the Saudi Arabia of oil. On the other hand, they say that the amount of carbon in tar sands is negligible.
The truth is that the tar sands gook contains more than twice the carbon from all the oil burned in human history.
If infrastructure, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, is built to transport tar sands gook, ways will be developed to extract more and more. When full accounting is done of emissions from tar sands oil, its use is equivalent to burning coal to power your automobile.
This is on top of the grotesque regional tar sands destruction.
There is a basis for optimism that the Keystone pipeline can be stopped and tar sands exploitation phased down before it becomes the monstrosity that oil companies are aiming for.
Tar sands make no economic sense if fossil fuels pay their true costs to society via a gradually rising fee collected from fossil companies in proportion to the amount of carbon in the fuel. Conservatives in the United States are beginning to recognize the merits of a carbon fee, which would be a non-tax, 100% of collected funds distributed to the public on per capita basis.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article endorsing this approach by George Shultz and Gary Becker, a Nobel prize winning economist. Such a fee levels the playing field among alternative energies and energy efficiency, providing a spur for development of clean energies. After 10 years a carbon fee rising $10 per ton of CO2 per year would reduce United States carbon emissions by 10 – 11 times more than the carbon carried by the Keystone pipeline.
The funds distributed to the public, 60 percent of the people getting more than they pay in increased prices, would spur the economy. The energy revolution would create millions of jobs.
So don’t despair re the tar sands.
There are sensible alternatives.
The common presumption that President Obama is going to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is wrong, in my opinion.
The State Department must provide an assessment to President Obama. Secretary of State John Kerry is expert on the climate issue and has long been one of the most thoughtful members of our government. I cannot believe that Secretary Kerry would let his and President Obama’s legacies go down the tar sands drain.
APEP’s car sharing program first to recieve Scion IQ EVs
New Scion iQ electric vehicles at Irvine train station, ready for free ride sharing by campus and business commuters.
In March, thirty 2013 Scion IQ electric vehicles were added to APEP’s Zero Emission Vehicle-Network Enabled Transport (ZEV-NET) fleet, thanks to our long history of partnership with Toyota. ZEV-NET provides battery-powered vehicles to commuters who are making that last trip from the Irvine Transportation Center to their place of work. Of the only 100 vehicles being manufactured, ninety of them will be used in U.S. car-sharing demonstration projects. APEP was the first to receive these vehicles in the U.S. With the additional electric vehicles, APEP and the city of Irvine agreed to expand the ZEV-NET fleet with additional parking spaces to install next-generation battery chargers at the transportation center.
Since 2002, ZEV-NET has been providing vehicles that reduce road congestion and harmful “start-up” emissions through its car-sharing concept. With 10 first-generation RAV4 electric vehicles still in the ZEV-NET fleet, APEP is pleased to have more vehicles on hand while proudly serving customers like Oakley, Thales, and Kofax in the Irvine district.
Elementary and middle school students learn about clean energy while visiting APEP
As part of its ongoing education and outreach efforts, APEP recently hosted two visits from middle school students for a day of clean energy educational activities. Students from Our Lady of Peace School in North Hills and Tarbut V’Torah Middle School in Irvine visited APEP during the winter quarter to learn about sustainable energy and the real life application of alternative energy systems.
Students from both schools spent time learning the fundamentals of clean energy and the process for how a fuel cell works, as well as touring APEP’s research facilities and meeting graduate research students. During the tour, students were able to view operating stationary fuel cells, a live flame combustion demonstration, and a fleet of alternative fuel vehicles including fuel cell vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Fourth graders from Our Lady of Peace were able to get hands on learning experience during a fuel cell game in which they acted as the principal components of a fuel cell to create the most energy possible (or the clicks of a flashlight turning on and off). The twelfth graders were able to understand how an electric motor works by building a device with batteries, magnets, paperclips, and wire. The activities used to educate these students were an example of APEP’s ongoing development of K-12 curricula devoted towards clean energy in general and fuel cells in particular.
ICEPAG clean energy conference is a success for its thirteenth year in a row
The Advanced Power and Energy Program, in collaboration from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Pacific Rim Consortium on Energy, Combustion, and the Environment, hosted its 13th annual International Colloquium for Environmentally Preferred Advanced Power Generation (ICEPAG) April 23-25th. This three-day annual colloquium focuses on advanced central plant and distributed generation technologies for sustainable power generation and as well as the grid ramifications of integrating those technologies into our energy system.
Utility, industry, government, and educational leaders came together to exchange ideas and information related to the latest power generation strategies being studied or deployed around the world today. Some of the conference highlights included presentations by Deputy Executive Officer of South Coast Air Quality Management District, Matt Miyasato, greenhouse gas expert and UC Irvine Professor Dr. Steven Davis, and Vice President of FuelCell Energy, Tony Leo. ICEPAG attendees were invited to a reception at APEP’s facilities, which included a tour of the engineering labs and briefings by graduate students on their current research projects. After APEP’s 13th successful ICEPAG, we are already gearing up for next year’s colloquium and are looking forward to seeing you there.
APEP scientist publishes definitive book on combined cycle systems for electric power generation
APEP’s Dr. Ashok Rao, along with an international team of contributors, released the book Combined cycle systems for near-zero emission power generation through Woodhead Publishing. The book provides a comprehensive review of the combined cycle power plant and advanced gas turbine design, engineering and operational issues of a range of the main types of combined cycle systems. Also included is a discussion of the technology, efficiency and emissions performance of natural gas-fired combined cycle (NGCC) systems and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) systems, along with humid air cycle systems and oxy-combustion turbine cycle systems. The final chapter reviews techno-economic analysis of combined cycle systems.
Prior to his current role of Chief Scientist at APEP, Dr. Rao was a director of process engineering and a senior fellow at Fluor. He has worked extensively in the design and development of gas-fired power plants, and gasification and synthetic fuels plants. Dr. Rao is the recipient of several patent awards in the area of energy conversion, including a patent for the Humid Air Turbine (HAT) cycle, an advanced gas turbine based cycle.
Two Major Customers to Use Fuel Cells for Clean Energy
Both ClearEdge Power and FuelCell Energy reached major milestones in the month of May 2013 through partnerships that mark a significant step forward for the stationary fuel cell industry. FuelCell Energy is partnering with one of the country’s largest utilities and ClearEdge Power with Verizon, in two of the largest deals to take place in the U.S. stationary fuel cell market to-date.
(Left) At 14.9 MW, FuelCell Energy’s installation at Bridgeport is the largest fuel cell project in North America today. (Right) Verizon will be installing ClearEdge Power’s PureCell Model 400 Fuel Cell at 10 of its facilities throughout the U.S.
May 3rd, 2013 marked the groundbreaking for the largest North American fuel cell power project in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Officials from the national’s largest energy company, Dominion, and FuelCell Energy, Inc. came together for the start of the project that will produce 14.9 megawatts of clean energy, enough to power about 15,000 homes. The Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell will contribute to the state’s goal in increasing renewable and clean energy projects by 150 megawatts. FuelCell Energy is contracted to build, operate, and maintain the project with the installation of five Direct Fuel Cell stationary fuel cell power plants and an organic rankine turbine that will turn the waste heat into electricity. Projected completion and operation of the project will be in late 2013.
The deal announced between ClearEdge Power and Verizon to install ClearEdge Power’s PureCell Model 400 stationary fuel cell, at 10 of Verizon’s corporate offices, call centers, data centers, and central offices in California, New Jersey, and New York is part of a $100 million investment by Verizon in a broadly reaching energy project, which includes solar power as well as stationary fuel cells. When completed, the fuel cells and solar installations will produce a combined 70 million kilowatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering more than 6,000 single-family homes a year, while eliminating 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Installing ClearEdge Power’s stationary fuel cell systems alone will generate more than 60 million kilowatts hours of electricity and reduce 6,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The solar installation by SunPower Corp. will produce 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity alone and reduce Verizon’s carbon emissions by 5,000 metric tons. With the implementation of ClearEdge Power fuel cells, this installation will help Verizon achieve its goal of cutting carbon emission in half my 2020.
First ever Microgrid World Forum co-hosted by APEP
The Advanced Power and Energy Program co-hosted, along with the Smart Grid Observer, the first ever Microgrid World Forum March 12 – 14th in Irvine, CA. The conference mainly addressed the demand for microgrids as a strategy for ensuring grid reliability and energy independence — not only for military applications, but also for campus environments in the commercial, government, health care, education, industrial, and remote sectors. Conference attendees were able to visit UC Irvine and view firsthand the unique UCI Field Laboratory microgrid in a campus environment as well as the Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration project.
As a result of previous and ongoing investments in multiple photovoltaic installations and energy research initiatives, the UCI Field Laboratory provides a unique combination of renewable, distributed energy, and smart demand response resources for the study of photovoltaic deployment and integration into the electric grid. The Field Laboratory also enables the investigation of controlled metrics in the context of the emerging smart grid paradigm.
As reported by Matthew Russell Lee from the UN, it seems that there is a Russian-American agreement to let Assad of Syria continue to fight his opposition as it seems that the Qatar, Arab Sunni proposal,leads to an Al-Qaeda domination in a post-Syria configuration. This might be what some Arab States want to happen, but it is totally unacceptable to the US and other States. Syria is doomed one way or another, and the new reality is that the US will not waste more energy on playing along Arab lines.
UNITED NATIONS, May 9 — On the pending Syria UN General Assembly resolution drafted by Qatar, Russia’s Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin has now written to all member states, opposing the resolution on procedure, substance and on the May 7 announcement by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Kerry.
Please see Lavrov’s letter and realize that Syria is being moved to the backburners – even though it is clear that people will continue to be killed ordriven into exile. No solution in Syria is now also clear reason for not pushing a Palestinian resolution either – all what we expect now is lot of empty noise.
The two arms that crushed Nazism were the Anglo-Americans that came from the West and South and the Soviets that came from the East. As well there were several national armies of liberation, underground groups and plain individual heroes that resisted the madness. Those that fought in the armies of the madman were no heroes – the best of them were just misguided individuals. There is really very little else an honest individual could say about the 1938-1945 years in Austrian history. It is just plain dishonest to forget that Otto Adolf Eichmann was not just a tinny bureaucrat, and that most of Austria were his accomplices and not just soldiers obeying orders. Hitler himself was an Austrian. Having been killed while being part of a madman’s army does not make one a National hero. There were, and still are, those in Austria that find it difficult to level with above truth.
The fall of Nazism allowed for the hope of a new Austria and indeed today – after 68 years – finally – an Austrian government was brave enough to say so.
We regard this as a plain Austrian internal matter and we were proud standing up on our feet for the two hours of last night’s concert.
The Faymann & Spindelegger government of Austria will mainly be remembered by history for having participated willingly at last night’s event that was initiated by the organization that keeps up the memory of the Mauthausen Concentration and extermination camp on Austrian land.
The Heldenplatz is part of the Inner City where Austria as a whole pledged its allegiance to the “Anschluss” to NAZI Germany and at the outside – the Inner City Gate (Burgtor) contains a Crypt where relics related to those that gave their life to fulfill orders of the armies of the Monarchie, the Wehrmacht, and the Waffen-SS. Honoring the place as is – means honoring the Nazis as well – and that was what leaders of the FPOE – The Freedom Party that in the past was led by George Haider – people like Heinz Christian Strache in 2004 (he is now the Party head – in contention now to become Chancellor), Lutz Weininger in 2007, and Wolfgang Jung in 2011 and 2012 did. Their May 8th ceremonies were remembrances to the fallen Nazi soldiers (how can you argue to have been a conquered land and hero to the Nazis at the same time?), and led usually to brawls with those that just could not take it. What is needed now is a weeding out of that crypt – the removal of the undesired relics and their replacement with relics related to the true heroes of Austria – those that preferred life rather then those others who acted as angels of death. Those in the crypt now belong to a factual museum and not to a memorial of honor. This year the name of Dr. Karl Lueger Ring – the Anti-Semite Mayor of Vienna – was removed from the segment of the Ring Streets that is in front of the University and replaced with the much better choice of the University name. Austria is finally catching up to the reality that it is a Nation that was freed from itself thanks to outside justice and an inside opposition.
What also is highly of significance – on Wednesday IT WAS DECIDED TO BUILD, STILL THIS YEAR, under this Parliament and Government,
A MONUMENT TO THE DESERTERS FROM THE WEHRMACHT – much truer National heroes that say they just followed orders.
Skeptics say that if the choice of a design, and the actual execution, are not done by this September, the whole thing might be left to next legislature and put on hold on ice by next Parliament.
THE CELEBRATION OF JOY with families with children picnicking in the background, rings of police at the outskirts of the place, a huge bubble for stage and a seating area in case of rain – for an event that was scheduled for 7:30 PM – that was all crowded already an hour ahead of time.
The weather turned out most favorable and when we arrived like half an hour before starting time, we just found standing room behind the first row behind the last row of chairs. Eventually the estimate was that there were 10,000 people at the concert.
“The Joy was moderated” – that is how it translates for what is meant that the excellent Master of Ceremony was the actress Katherina Stemberger and the Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra was Bertrand de Billy.
The first speaker was Willi Mernyl the Head of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial Committee, followed by Kaethe Sasso – who wrote about her youth in the resistance – setting the stage that this is the combined celebration of the new life of the survivors while honoring the memory of the victims. This is totally different from the memory of the dead of the armies of perpetrators – as it was celebrated just a year ago.
Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindellegger spoke followed by Chancellor Werner Faymann.
City Councilman for Culture Mr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny of the Socialist Party represented Mayor Haeupl, followed by Deputy Mayor Maria Vassilakou of the Green Party.
To free form the summary of these introductions – what was said was that while in other European Cities it is self evident to be happy that democracy and freedom are part of our life – that was not the case in Vienna where brotherhoods were still in mourning for the fall of the old regime – we have a reason to be happy and want to pass this on to those that until now used the day as a day of mourning.
OUR HEROES ARE THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY. WE WANT TO LEAVE THIS FOR THE FUTURE FROM NOW ON. May 8, 1945 was the start of the new Europe.
A solidarity for a new United Europe does not happen by itself – and for us this starts right here today – now.
Talking about the solidarity of a new Europe has many implications these days of an EU in financial difficulties with the States called to bundle together and build a closer EU. All of this was hinted at by the speakers and is on the order of the day.
The Concert that followed was obviously great – that is something that Austria excels in naturally and we will leave it to the professionals. We will just note that it was the Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony N. 7 A-Dur op 92 for a starter – followed by several full joy Johann Strauss and Jaques Ofenbach and some more. The Soprano Julia Novikova was an added crowd pleaser and reason for encores.
It all ended as a thanks to the great weather with the unbeatable “Thunder and light-bolts” – the Unter Donner und Blitz Polka by Johann Strauss.
After this great event – rather then going directly home – I went to the Red Bar (ROTE BAR) at the venerable VOLKSTHEATER, where at 10:15 there was the KREISLER-KABARETT.
I had a premonition that I might find there something that will be germane to the day. And I found gold.
In 1996 – let me repeat 1996 – Gerhard Kreisler writes to the Austrian Government that he saved himself to the US after his citizenship was to be changed in 1938 from Austrian to German – and he escaped to save himself.
No, he was not NAZI, and his citizenship was not returned automatically to him, as it was to those that became Germans in 1938, after having been Austrians.
For him, he was told he has to apply in order to get back his Austrian citizenship – something he refused to do. So he applies to the Austrian Government now to be granted back an Austrian citizenship that was thus taken away from him for not having become a NAZI.
Was this not the great corollary to the 68 year late readjusting of the Austrian spine?
1.5 Million Jews Fought in Allied Armies in World War II – Daniel Estrin (AP) Every year on “Victory in Europe” Day, which falls on Thursday this year, Jewish World War II veterans in Israel from the former Soviet Union parade in uniform to celebrate Nazi Germany’s surrender. About 1.5 million Jews fought in Allied armies, including 550,000 in the American army, 500,000 in the Red Army, 100,000 in the Polish army and 30,000 in the British army, according to Israel’s Holocaust museum Yad Vashem. About 200,000 Soviet Jewish soldiers fell on the battlefield or into German captivity. About 7,000 Jews who served in the Soviet Red Army are still alive today and living in Israel.
There is a big buzz in Cape Town this week. And it is not from tourists taken aback by the beauty of Table Mountain.
Thought leaders throughout the global business world are convened at the World Economic Forum on Africa, and they have come to a consensus that the African growth story is real and sustained, making Africa the “next big thing” in international business circles.
We are very proud to let you know that Africa.com is bringing you exclusive, real time video and text coverage of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, today and tomorrow in partnership with ABN Digital.
This gathering includes heads of state, CEOs from major African and global corporations, and the heads of leading foundations and philanthropic organizations.
The theme this year is Delivering on Africa’s Promise.
We invite you to watch our exclusive interviews of the leaders convened in Cape Town this week, and to gain unique insights on why global business leaders are excited about Africa today.
Vehicles drive toward the Allenby Bridge Crossing July 9, 2009. The Israeli-controlled terminal leading to the Allenby Bridge across the Jordan River is the West Bank’s only land link to the Arab world. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad )
A recent visitor to Amman reports some senior Jordanians declaring openly that “there never was a place called Palestine. There is no such thing as Palestine, only Jordan.” Such sentiments, while still a minority view, mark a sea change in the long-standing Jordanian deference to the PLO on developments west of the Jordan River. According to one Palestinian, such views are being encouraged by some voices in Fatah, who fear Hamas’ baton more than Amman’s reluctant embrace, and who no doubt believe, as many veterans in Fatah do, that all it will take to turn Jordan into Palestine is a Palestinian decision to do so.
“Jordan is Palestine” is the mirror image of “Palestine is Jordan.” Jordanians identified with the latter are not contemplating a confederal agreement between respective Jordanian and and Palestinian states, but rather the restoration of Jordan’s uncontested place in Jerusalem and the West Bank on the eve of the June 1967 war.
The ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is not to be envied. History and geography have played a cruel trick on the leader of this unlikely country. He is squeezed between more powerful and often warring parties, presiding over a population of subjects thrown together by war and circumstance.To its credit, Jordan has succeeded more often than it has failed to construct a popular and workable, if fragile sense of national identity shared by disparate Palestinian and Transjordanian communities during the last nine decades. However, the self-immolation of Syria, Fatah’s failure to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the uncertain promise of the Arab Spring are posing new and unprecedented challenges for King Abdullah II, whose head lies ever uneasy on the royal throne.
The feasting on the corpse that was once Syria poses the most immediate challenge to Jordan, and it was at the heart of recent discussions during the King’s recent visit to Washington in the last week of April. But Jordan’s cascading problem managing the fallout from Syria complements the more essential challenge that has always been uppermost in the mind of Jordan’s political elite as well as its growing Islamic opposition. This challenge, of course, relates to the Palestinian dimension of Jordan’s national identity, and the King’s ability to manage this without his Hashemite or Transjordanian identity suffering as a consequence.
It is against Jordan’s basic nature to make precipitous moves in any direction, yet a dynamic trend favoring a “New Look” in Jordan’s Palestine policy — one that is viewed sympathetically in both Jerusalem and Washington — is hard to ignore.
For many years now Jordan has been confronting a most unwelcome strategic environment to its west, across the Jordan River. Fatah has failed to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the growing power of Hamas as a political factor has proceeded in tandem. Fatah is no friend of Jordan, where memories of Black September remain etched in the consciousness of the Jordanian elite. But Jordan long ago was forced by its own failures and by circumstances beyond its control to make its peace with the PLO, not only as the recognized representative of the Palestinian people — at least those residing east of the Jordan River —- but also as a strategic buffer against Israeli, American and Islamic/Arab claims against Amman. The PLO, notably after King Hussein’s 1988 disengagement from the West Bank, became Jordan’s insurance policy against the imposition of a solution at Jordan’s expense to Palestine’s problems in West Bank and Gaza Strip.
To Jordan’s dismay, it is being forced to realize that Fatah and the PLO it embodies cannot perform this task. This conclusion has been debated from time to time in recent years. The barometer of these discussions is Amman’s on-again, off-again dance with Khaled Meshaal and Hamas, most notably the 2009 thaw in relations engineered by Gen. Mohammad Dhahabi, who was at the time head of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department. If Fatah cannot be a Palestinian shield protecting Jordanian interests in a quiescent West Bank, it is argued, then perhaps Hamas should be given a go.
The other option, and the one today at the center of Jordan’s agenda, suggests a fundamental rethinking of Jordan’s exit from the West Bank that began with King Hussein’s failure in 1972 to reach an agreement on Israeli withdrawal with Moshe Dayan and that gained momentum with the Arab League decision to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. Like Jordan’s unenthusiastic turn in Hamas’ direction, this option reflects Jordan’s despair at Fatah’s failure and is a hedge against Fatah’s capitulation to Israel in a deal that would endanger Jordan’s interest in preventing an influx of Palestinians eastward across the Jordan River.
One example of this trend is the “historic,” if precipitous, agreement between King Abdullah and PLO head Mahmoud Abbas in March confirming the Jordanian king’s stewardship of the holy places in Jerusalem.
“In this historic agreement, Abbas reiterated that the king is the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and that he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa mosque,” the palace said in a statement. Abbas said that the agreement confirmed “Jordan’s role since the era of the late King Hussein” and that it consolidated agreements established decades ago.
Abbas’ signature marks the first formal Palestinian recognition of Jordan’s central role in Jerusalem and it complements the understanding detailed in Jordan’s treaty with Israel in 1994. The treaty notes that “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”
Abbas’ interest in formalizing Jordan’s role is a function of Palestinian weakness and stands in ironic contrast to the nominal, and apparently symbolic boost for sovereignty won at the UN last November.
The understanding on Jerusalem reflects the PLO’s interest in Amman as a diplomatic safe harbor, protecting against both Hamas and Israel, and Amman’s readiness to reaffirm its interest in Jerusalem at the PLO’s (and Hamas’) expense.
These interests are not inconsistent with the evolving diplomatic strategy being pursued by US Secretary of State John Kerry. For more than a year, Amman has been a key way station of Washington’s diplomacy, much to the dismay of some in Egypt who preside over long-stalled reconciliation efforts. But unlike President Mohammad Morsi, King Abdullah is interested in being identified with any American effort. Even if opposed to the ideas Kerry is now circulating, Jordan has rarely viewed itself as in a position to reject US efforts.
“Palestine is Jordan” has long been the rallying cry of Israel’s right wing. It is now finding an uncertain echo in Jordan.
Geoffrey Aronson has long been active in Track II diplomatic efforts on various Middle East issues. He writes widely on regional affairs.
Jordan hails US-Russia plans for Syria peace conference
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, meeting with US Secretary of state John Kerry in Rome Thursday, threw his support behind the US-Russian call for a Syria peace conference later this month. With over 500,000 Syrian refugees and 2,000 more coming every day, Jordan’s envoy said it’s imperative that a transition get underway to a political resolution that preserves Syria’s multi-ethnic society and borders.
“We are extremely encouraged by the results of the Secretary’s meetings in Moscow with the President and with the Foreign Minister and salute your achievements in that regard by identifying a path forward,” Judeh said at a meeting with Kerry at the US ambassador’s residence in Rome Thursday.
Jordan’s position, Judeh said, is that there “has to be a transitional period that results in a political solution that includes all the segments of Syrian society, no exclusion whatsoever…preserves Syria’s territorial integrity and unity, and…guarantees… pluralism and opportunity for everybody.”
Judeh said he was heading to Moscow Thursday for further discussions. On Tuesday, Judeh issued a joint call with Iran’s visiting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi for both sides in Syria’s civil war to enter talks on a transition government.
Kerry, on the final leg of a trip to Moscow and Rome, said Thursday that he had sent US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford on to Istanbul to meet with the Syrian opposition and begin work to persuade them to come to the peace conference. They have expressed misgivings because it would get underway before any agreement on the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although US officials insist US policy hasn’t changed and that they do not see any possibility where Assad could remain the leader of Syria.
“The specific work of this next conference will be to bring representatives of the government and the opposition together to determine how we can fully implement the means of the [Geneva] communique, understanding that the communique’s language specifically says that the Government of Syria and the opposition have to put together, by mutual consent, the parties that will then become the transitional government itself,” Kerry said at a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday.
Washington and Moscow actually have common ground on Syria, except for the issue of the sequencing of the transition, Russian foreign affairs analyst Fyodor Lukyanov wrote for Al-Monitor Thursday.
“We can say that Russia and the US differ today on only one issue: the sequence of actions,” Lukyanov wrote. “First Assad leaves, then the process of establishing a new political regime in Syria begins, or the other way around. Moscow supports the second version, and Washington the first. As strange as it seems, they are in agreement on everything else: After Assad, there is a risk that Syria will become ungovernable, and the goal of outside forces… is to prevent power from falling into the hands of Islamic extremists.”
How the Arab League Can Help
Israel, Palestine Negotiate
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani as they meet with members of the Arab League at Blair House in Washington April 29, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Jason Reed)
The April 29 meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and an Arab League ministerial delegation of the Arab Peace Initiative (API) follow-up committee carried a double message.
The first was the United States’ willingness to seriously explore the possibility of resuming negotiations with the aim of ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after visits to the region by President Barack Obama and the secretary of state.
Skeptics worry that a division of labor decided by the US president, whereby he focuses on Asia while leaving the Arab-Israeli conflict to his secretary of state, is not very promising, despite the commitment and personality of the latter.
The second message is that Arabs have been waiting for a willingness to dust off the API, as I have previously argued here, and put it on their agenda with the United States. They are showing a readiness to invest in the Palestinian issue at this critical moment in Syria. The meeting should be the beginning of a process that would also involve intensive US-Israeli contacts and other concerned parties in serious negotiations. Such negotiations should be conducted on a basis different from those that have failed to produce results for two decades.
Yet the Arab willingness to accept the principle of territorial swaps — limited as well as symmetrical in terms of area and quality — was seen by others in the United States and Israel conversely: something to precede the negotiations, or to be addressed separately from the basic issue, which is Israel’s acceptance of the June 1967 borders in conformity with UN Security Council Resolution 242.
Indeed, this resolution should be the basis for a settlement of the conflict and of a resolution of the occupation. The Palestinians have indicated many times their acceptance of minor adjustments to the borders of 1967 — adjustments that will be considered only in the context of negotiations for the two-state solution, not before.
Israel must formally accept the 1967 borders instead of engaging continuously in diplomatic acrobatics over the version of the Resolution 242 in which there is an omission of the word “the” before “territories.” Israel’s aim is to suggest that it does not have to withdraw from all the occupied territories and to legitimize its occupation of the territories it wants to annex. Yet the preamble of the resolution clearly states the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition by means of war, thus invalidating the Israeli argument. Minor, symmetrical adjustments are an integrated part and facilitator of that deal, well defined according to Resolution 242. This does not allow for an unknown offer to be made by Israel.
It is equally important that Israel cease all settlement activity, which Obama mildly criticized during his visit as detrimental to the process. Indeed, they represent a real danger to a peaceful resolution because they systematically destroy any possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.
Also, suggesting Arab normalization with Israel as an encouraging gesture toward Israel, a free gift, further complicates matters. The focus must be on the United States and other third parties committed to peace in the Middle East and aware of the dangers of inaction to spell out the guidelines for reaching peace.
These guidelines are found in relevant UN resolutions and earlier agreements. These third parties should stand firmly by these guidelines. This is how the United States, a third party, could make the serious resumption of negotiations on the basis of a clear timetable and not mere discussion. The aim is to reach a comprehensive peace that includes normalization, as is clearly stated in the API, without amendment, despite what some have insinuated.
It is worth noting that amending the API necessitates a resolution by an Arab Summit, a matter that is neither on the collective Arab agenda nor on the agenda of the delegation. It is needless to revive once more, under different names, interim solutions that will take us nowhere but to further crisis and result in more conflicts.
Ambassador Nassif Hitti is a senior Arab League official and the former head of the Arab League Mission in Paris. He is a former representative to UNESCO and a member of the Al-Monitor board of directors. The views he presents here are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.
from NYU School of Continuing & Professinal Studies – Global Affairs Division: firstname.lastname@example.org
that years ago made it possible for us to introduce Sustainable Development to the Achademe.
LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS
Our faculty are practitioners and experts in their field.
They bring their real-world experience to life for their students.
Join them this summer!
World Politics: Confrontation or Cooperatiion? (GLOB1-CE9284)
Multiple sections, 8 weeks, begins May 14 Ralph Buultjens is a historian, author, and the former Nehru Professor and Professorial Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He was awarded the Toynbee Prize for Social Sciences in 1984. He is a well known media commentator featured on major networks such as the BBC, CNN, and ABC. He has also served as a consultant to the United Nations and major international organizations. At the Carnegie Council, Professor Buultjens served as trustee from 1978 to1984 and was Senior Fellow for several years. His numerous publications include: Conceptualizing Global History (with Bruce Mazlish, 2004) The Destiny of freedom: Political Legacies of the Twentieth Century (Louis Nizer lecture on public policy, 1999) Politics and History: Lessons for Today (1986), and The Secret Life of Karl Marx (1985).
Superstorm Sandy, NYC, and Climate Change (GLOB1-CE9023) Saturday, June 15, 9am-5pm Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus is a former climate change advisor to Palau Mission to the UN. While at the Mission, he worked closely with Ambassador Stewart Beck to draft, advocate for, and pass the first United Nations General Assembly Resolution to recognize climate change as an issue of international peace and security. He is currently pursuing his J.D. at NYU School of Law where he served as the Staff Editor for the Environmental Law Journal in 2012-13 and currently serves as the Journal’s Submissions Editor. He received the Guarini Center on Environmental and Land Use Law Summer Internship for 2013. As a legal intern for the Environmental Defense Fund, Cameron-Glickenhaus researched and drafted memos and an amicus brief related to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proceedings.
Howard Wachtel is a Franklin Fellow in the Political Section (Sanctions Unit) of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he focuses on the al Qaeda/Taliban, Cote d‘Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Iraq sanctions regimes. During the course of the year, Howard will be monitoring each of these regimes, attending Security Council sanctions committee meetings, and contributing to the negotiation and drafting of Security Council resolutions related to each regime. He comes to the U.S. Department of State from Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP, where he is a litigation associate. Mr. Wachtel is primarily responsible for USUN’s interaction with the Security Council on issues related to al-Qaeda/Taliban sanctions (the “1267 regime“). He is responsible for providing guidance and recommendations regarding the strategic direction of the 1267 regime, including new measures to address recent litigation challenging the regime and to ensure that the regime adapts to the evolving nature of the terrorist threat.
Brad Heckman is the founding Chief Executive Officer of New York Peace Institute, one of the nation’s largest community dispute resolution and mediator credentialing agencies. Previously, he served as Vice President of Safe Horizon, New York’s leading victims services and violence prevention agency. In that capacity, he oversaw the agency‘s Mediation, Families of Homicide Victims, Legal Services, Anti-Trafficking, Batterers Intervention, and Anti-Stalking Programs. Mr. Heckman served as International Director of Partners for Democratic Change, for which he developed community peacebuilding centers throughout Eastern Europe, the Balkans, South Caucasus, Latin America, and the former Soviet Union. He received NYU-SCPS’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012, and serves on the boards of the National Association for Community Mediation, the New York City Peace Museum, and the New York State Dispute Resolution Association.
TODAY – LAST EVENT OF THE SEMESTER!
In Print with James F. Hoge, Jr.
Featuring Michael Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change
The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future
Mahmoud Abbas was here in Vienna and visited some other European Heads of State – then he took the long flight to China. All of this is to explain his position and look for new interlocutors. Abbas does not need a door opener like Arafat did and The Austria of Messrs. Fisher, Fayman and Spindelegger, is not the Austria of “Old Chancellor” Kreisky. On the other hand China is something of a new a power in regard to West Asia – it has no previous involvement in the Middle East – except as customers for oil. Something that was facilitated to them by the US wars in Iraq.
Israeli Prime Minister views tech innovations during his visit to China. Photo: Israel GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrapped up the first day of a five-day visit to China by meeting with dozens of Israeli businesspeople who represent companies that operate in Shanghai. The Israeli company representatives expressed great appreciation for the Prime Minister’s efforts to increase trade with China and noted the great importance of government support to doing business in China.
“We must make the national effort to enter Chinese markets and to create partnerships. In addition to your private initiatives, we need to create a government track with the Chinese,” Netanyahu told the Israeli reps.
Following the meeting Netanyahu met with Israeli and Chinese businesspeople and stressed the importance of strengthening the two countries’ economic relationship.
“The future belongs to those who lead in innovation and technology,” he said, adding that Israel manufactures “more intellectual property than any other country in the world in relation to its size. If we create a partnership between Israel’s inventive capability and China’s manufacturing capability, we will have a winning combination.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is also in China on an official visit. Xinhua quoted him as saying: “It is very good that Netanyahu will visit China too because it is a good opportunity that the Chinese listen to both of us.”
Netanyahu will fly to Beijing later in the week. He is expected to sign a number of trade deals and discuss the Iranian nuclear issue before departing Friday.
Gov. Hickenlooper admits his absolutist positions in support of fracking are not rooted in science.(photo: Getty Images)
How a Big Fracking Setback Got Overlooked
By David Sirota, Salon
07 May 13
potential 2016 contender softens his pro-fracking stance, citing unsettled science. So why is it being ignored?
As an oft-rumored 2016 presidential candidate, a regular subject of obsequious profiles in the local and national press (including in this week’s New Yorker), and the chief executive of one of the biggest fossil fuel states in America, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s declarations about environmental issues carry weight. And so his stunning admission late last week is, indeed, big news in how it so definitively proves that political money buys hostility toward environmental science.
At a forum on energy issues last week, Hickenlooper simultaneously defended his assertion that fracking is perfectly safe and yet according to the Associated Press, he also “said the science on the impact of fracking is far from settled.”
In other words, the chief executive of a major fossil fuel state is now on record at once claiming fracking is totally safe but admitting he believes we don’t have enough science to know that his reassuring assertions are true.
When a governor admits his absolutist positions in support of fracking are not rooted in science, it should generate headlines – especially when that same governor has amassed a record like Hickenlooper. He is, after all, one of the fossil fuel industry’s chief political spokespeople; indeed, he actually moonlights as one of the industry’s official spokesmen in its paid political advertisements. Additionally, Hickenlooper is one of the industry’s best political friends: He is not only right now fighting his own party’s legislation to punish polluters, he has also publicly denied that global climate change is even happening; appointed one of his fossil fuel industry donors to a key regulatory position; fought state legislative initiatives that would have empowered municipalities to better regulate oil and gas operations in their midst; threatened to sue cities that regulate drilling; and reduced regulatory enforcement in the face of drilling-related spills.
Yet, despite this industry loyalist admitting his public policy positions are not supported by science, and despite the media’s obsession with the Colorado governor, Hickenlooper’s statements have garnered little attention. Why?
First and foremost, the Hickenlooper fans in the national press corps typically drop into Denver for a few days and produce long essays about the governor’s charisma and charm – that is, about everything other than his actual record.
The resulting hagiography subsequently credits him for much of the state’s high-profile progressive successes despite the fact that most of those successes have come from the Legislature and ballot initiatives in spite, rather than because of, the governor. The one thing you don’t hear much about in this kind of puffery is arguably the single most important responsibility of any Colorado governor: the responsibility to regulate our state’s most financially powerful and environmentally rapacious industry. The result is that you hear more about how goofy and fun-loving and swell ol’ Hick is than you do about the fact the Hickenlooper Era has coincided with a frightening rise in drilling-related spills, a precipitous decline in environmental enforcement and parts of Colorado becoming toxichazardzones.
But obsequiousness is only part of the explanation for the media blackout. The other part is about an undying devotion to The Narrative – that is, the meme that projects all political stories through a red-versus-blue prism, and that therefore casts hostility to science as only a Republican phenomenon rather than what it really is: a transpartisan side effect of political money.
Yes, it’s true; whether pretending climate change is a hoax or casting aspersions at the notion of independent peer-reviewed research, Republican politicians tend to reject scientific data more often than Democratic politicians. Because of that, a press corps that seems only able to portray issues as partisan showdowns tends to portray the so-called War on Science as an exclusively Republican onslaught. That same press corps, though, simply cannot process or comprehend the notion of a Democrat helping his donors wage a war on science (especially one like Hickenlooper who touts his geology degree) because that kind of politician contradicts the preconceived story line.
This Narrative, of course, is only further exacerbated by what I’ve previously called the “No Money” rule. Simply put, reporters don’t like to acknowledge the role that campaign cash plays in politicians’ positions because in elite political circles, acknowledging rank corruption is considered impolite and uncouth.
Thanks to these dynamics, a revealing and incredibly newsworthy admission by a bankrolled Democratic governor is, thus, wholly ignored – as is the science that should be driving our energy policy.
And so Inner City Press set up shop at a Cafe Austria table in front of Conference Room E. The electronic blue sign which usually announces what’s taking place in a UN meeting room — the Law of the Sea, or even sometimes, “Questions about Information” — was blank.
There was a paper sign on the door itself, DPI-NGO, but that event (which Inner City Press also covered, in the context of an internship with an NGO inside the UN being auctioned off for $26,000) was over.
A UN Security medical officer arrived, to unfold and man a wheelchair, along with two bodyguards. Two of the three looked skeptically at Inner City Press. But it is an open area.
After several false alarms, the moment came. Henry Kissinger came out of Conference Room E. But he said, even before he was out, “no pictures of me in a wheelchair.”
On May 6, Inner City Press asked the chief of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, did the UNISFA mission under this command provide notification of its travel, in which at least one peacekeeper and paramount chief Kuol Deng Kuol were killed?
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the death of the peacekeeper in Abyei. I had sent you some questions, but I need to ask them [here]. One, did UNISFA [United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei] give notification of its travel? Two, how large was the protection element? There have been some complaints now by South Sudan that it wasn’t large enough. And what were the casualties to the UN’s knowledge on the Misseriya side?
Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, we’ve already answered that question, Matthew…
Inner City Press: How?
Spokesperson: The last part: that we are not aware of the casualties suffered amongst the assailants, those who attacked that particular group. I don’t have anything further beyond what we have already given to you both in this room and subsequently by e-mail. If that changes, I will certainly update you.
Inner City Press: It seems like the permission question…
Spokesperson: I said if I have anything further, I will certainly update. Do you have some other question, Matthew?
Well, yes. Here’s more: A, B and C:
In firefight it’s reported in Sudan that 17 Misseriya were killed and 12 injured.
a) What were the numbers and weapons used on each side?
b) What happened afterward with the remaining Misseriya? Did the UNISFA take prisoners, or disarm the remainder of the group? Did they get identities of the ambushers?
c) Did they find out who leaked the route of the convoy?
we went to the 2nd “Day of Diversity (Vierfalt)” of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce (KPO) Monday May 6, 2013 at the KPO headquarters at Operngasse 17-21, 6th floor, 1040 Vienna, and were guided by Mr. Arber Marku who is in charge of the Chamber’s Department of Economy-Policy (Wirtschaftspolitik).
This second year of direct involvement of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce in Integration into the economy of the immigrants and all “Diverse” human elements such as the handicapped, the homosexuals, the young, the old – you name it – is being backed by the Austrian Ministry of Integration led by the youngest Secretary of State (this is in German language the equivalent of a Minister) Mr. Sebastian Kurz – a 27 year young bright star in the Austrian Government and former students’ leader phenomenon who is one of the most favored politicians these days.
To be honest – we followed up with thoughts in mind – “here something Mayor Bloomberg could have promoted as well and the Obama Administration needs in its effort to lessen the immigration faults – the tens of millions of illegals that are part of the cause of the fraying US economy while they could have become true assets of a booming economy.
Austria as part of the EU can not close its borders to people migrating to it from other EU States – including those that come from former communist States of East Europe, Central Europe, and the Balkan States – many of whom have no skills easily adaptable to the Western democracies and knowledge of the local language. They already own an EU pass and are free to try to establish themselves in a new home.
The Monday full day event had two parts that went on in parallel.
One part was a series of lectures explaining in German – to would be entrepreneurs – the art of being independent and building a new business in Austria.
The topics of the main series included: Promotions and Finances; Successful Marketing; On-line Marketing; Financial supervision by the Authorities – matters of taxation and transparency; A Business Plan; Navigating your business towards a goal; The Potential of Cooperating with others; and a set of Best Practices as example. Clearly this was an exercise in Small Business promotion – an important aspect of the Chamber of Commerce.
The parallel series of meetings was in foreign languages – the language of origin of many of these migrants. These included Spanish, Turkish, Polish, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian,Chinese, Bulgarian, and Slovakian.
The topics were not exactly the same in all of these meetings – seemingly they were adapted to the needs expressed by the participants.
The topics ranged from Financial Aspects of running a company – the interaction with banks and other institutions, subsidies and Departments of Finance; Customer Orientation and Marketing; or Practical Handling the Taxation Laws.
At the day’s end there was a plenary moderated by Werner Sejka and a panel made up of Minister Sebastian Kurz, the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Vienna – Commissioner Brigitte Jank – a feisty woman that did not allow accusations pass by without pointing out that there may be objective issues like lack of skills that must be remembered as well, Mr. Dino Sose who runs the Bum media of the Migrants to Austria and publishes the “Wienner Vielfalt” or the “Vienna Diversity,” www.bumzeitung.com/ that explains the city to others in three languages, and Mr. Franz Wolf Mayer the CEO of OIF – The Austrian Integration Fund and Member of the Ministry of Interior.
Now, this day was actually part of a whole INTEGRATION WEEK - “2. Wiener Integrationswoche im Zeichen des Zusammenlebens – Über 140 Veranstaltungen von 40 KooperationspartnerInnen in ganz Wien.” – an effort to stress the life together of all these Diversities – and during the week between May 2nd and May 9th 140 events were planned. Some of these events were reflected in what Minister Kurz reported to the panel.
The following day, today, at a presentation by Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Mr. Michael Spindelegger, I met a previous migrant from Poland, Alexandra Izdebska, who came to Austria in her in her young years, and now owns with her husband a computer company that employs some 200 more recent immigrants – this because of languages – but told me that she makes special effort to employ as well the handicapped and specially women. She knew all about last night’s event and is one of the people now backing the government and Chamber of Commerce activism.
Further, Mr. Sose said last night that he came with values and Austria allowed him to develop – so now he wants to push to help others. Ms. Izdebska said today that she came with her parents from a Poland under communist dictatorship and was allowed to think for herself already as a young girl in an Austrian school – she saw the difference already then – and the Vice Chancellor said that he was proud of people like her – achievers in the Austrian economy that came from abroad and grew up in Austria. Minister Kurz told last night that when he visited as part of this week’s activities the known Felber Bakery, and asked Mrs. Felber if there were any problems – he was surprised when she told him they had even knife fights. Then she explained these were flight between two sides in a Balkan war – but not between the migrants and old Austrians – there was reasonable harmony she said. She said that she had a black American employee in one of her outlets who sports a curly Afro, and though initially there was criticism – there are no problems now. That is what we want Kurz said.
The moderator spoke of a democratic change and we cannot over-intellectualize what we do. The Society must evaluate the living together in a city where it starts without knowing each other.
Day 4 of the climate talks in Bonn, Germany. Photo credit: adopt a negotiator, Flickr
A slight breath of fresh air entered the UNFCCC climate negotiations this week in Bonn, Germany. Held in the old German parliament—which was designed to demonstrate transparency and light—the meeting took on a more open feel than the past several COPs and intersessionals.
Instead of arguing over the agenda, negotiators got down to work, discussing ways to ramp up countries’ emissions-reduction commitments now and move toward a 2015 international climate action agreement.
Reaching these two goals is imperative. It was encouraging to hear delegates make progress across three key issues involved in achieving them:
1) “Spectrum of Commitments”
This idea—put forward by the United States—is that every country should determine its own national “contribution” to curbing global climate change and present it to the international community. A “spectrum” of various commitments would thus emerge, which could be included in some sort of formal agreement.
The idea opened up a much-needed conversation about the concept itself and how it would work in practice. Beyond the issues of ambition and equity noted below, the first question was whether there would be any guidance or templates for how countries put forward such commitments, or would it be a more “wild west” atmosphere. The second question was if and how the contributions would be reviewed, if at all.
The United States proposed a review up-front, but did not state whether that review would result in any change in the initial offer. Other questions included what kind of mechanism could be used to ratchet up ambition, and how developing countries could put forward contributions without knowing what kind of financial support might be provided. Clearly one key question is how to ensure that nationally offered commitments add up to a level of action that keeps global average temperature increase below 2 degrees C.
While the talks yielded more questions than answers, discussing new ideas like the spectrum of commitments represented good progress in the negotiating process.
Delegates struggled to think through ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to prevent climate change’s worst impacts. They heard from cities, farmers, and business people about what they’re currently doing to shift to a low-carbon economy. But how does that all add up? And how does one create the benefits for countries to go faster and deeper in reducing emissions?
In the context of a spectrum of commitments, the key question asked was how to ensure that collective actions would get the world anywhere close to staying below 2 degrees C of temperature rise. Many noted that the current ambition gap exists because of the bottom-up pledge and a failed review system. Why would this situation be any different if we pursue a spectrum approach? The word “ratchet mechanism” was often heard, with delegates searching for new ideas and incentives to catalyze more action. This “ratchet up” process, which enables countries to increase their emissions-reduction pledges over time, may be combined with a periodic review and a robust set of accounting, measurement, reporting, and verification rules.
The issues of equity and climate justice blew through many of the sessions and dominated informal dinner table debates. Although the “e” word is not mentioned specifically in the Durban Platform, it is now abundantly clear that figuring out how to make the 2015 international climate agreement equitable is going to be one of the keys to its formation.Some asked whether an “equity reference framework” approach could work. A number of experts have been analyzing the different indicators that could help assess whether a national climate action plan is equitable. While negotiating this set of indicators within the UNFCCC process would likely prolong the negotiations, delegates acknowledged that there is value in finding evidence-based, pragmatic ways to integrate equity into the decision-making process.
It was an encouraging debate: After this intersessional, all subsequent UNFCCC discussions of equity will inevitably be taken more seriously.
These stories and the open feeling of the meeting were clearly needed to inspire delegates to roll up their sleeves and think hard about how to address ambition, equity, and other issues.
Negotiators made some progress and started asking the right questions. Now it’s time to start answering these questions to ensure that the 2015 agreement not only provides transparency, but drives a game change in the level of climate action that the world has seen to date.
A group of Muslim, Jewish and Christian chefs from Chefs for Peace, along with American celebrity chef Art Smith, gathered on April 28 in Jerusalem to cook vegetarian dishes for a group of 60 guests, including US diplomats and alumni and students from various universities in the United States.
The ceremony took place in one of the best-known restaurants in Jerusalem, Eucalyptus, owned by award-winning chef Moshe Bassam, who is known for including ingredients mentioned in the Bible in his dishes and for his love of the history behind foods. “Moshe is a living treasure of Israel,” said Smith. “We went to the countryside to pick up wild thyme, asparagus and wild mushrooms [before the event].”
Bassam is not the only person who takes pride in using homegrown herbs and vegetables. “I brought grapes from the [US] South to use in my dish during the weekend,” said Smith.
Each of the five chefs — four from Chefs for Peace plus Smith — prepared their dishes in front their guests. Smith’s dish, not surprisingly, was made of wild mushrooms, grapes and local herbs. Johnny Goric, another chef and the organizer of the event, made a Mediterranean lentil salad.
Smith and the group have one important goal: to create healthy and peaceful dishes. Chefs for Peace consists of 13 chefs, including founder Kevork Alemian, who cook all over the world, adhering to a few strict rules. First, every event must include at least one Muslim, one Christian and one Jewish chef. Second, there is no alcohol in any of the dishes. Third, everything is both kosher and halal.
“[The] kitchen can be a dangerous place,” said Alemian. “There are all kinds of sharp knives or smoke, and flames are everywhere, but we do not stab each other!”
The idea for Chefs for Peace first occurred to Alemian while at the Slow Food Festival in Italy about 12 years ago. He observed three chefs — a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim — working together to create different dishes for the festival.
Upon his return to Jerusalem in 2001, he gathered his chef friends to explain his idea for a nonprofit, non-political organization called Chefs for Peace. “[I] said, ‘Hey guys, listen, I have this crazy idea that is coming from a crazy Armenian chef,’” he explained. “Everything looked like a joke at the beginning.”
They launched their organization that year and have since traveled to numerous countries to cook for diverse groups of people. They understand the power of food as a bond between different peoples and religions, and they see peace as a delicious possibility.
One recent activity for Chefs for Peace was to cook for six days for a municipal council in the West Bank. The group had a commitment to travel to Nablus and then to Netanya in Israel to meet with different municipalities on both sides.
“These people couldn’t meet in the same place at the same time because the wall separated Israel from Palestine,” Goric explained. Chefs for Peace organized a special menu and gala dinner at an ancient chapel in Jerusalem. “You would feel all the holiness in the place,” Goric said.
According to Johnny Goric, executive chef of the Legacy Boutique Hotel in Jerusalem, Jewish, Christian and Muslim chefs have to work peacefully together in Jerusalem. “You would end up working under stress created by the intensity of your job,” Goric said. “There are flames around you, sharp knives everywhere, and you work for 12 to 14 hours straight without even have a fight about anything.”
Goric believes the kind of work these chefs do in Jerusalem kitchens should be a positive example for all Israelis and Palestinians. He asked, “Why can’t we bring this kind of work to the streets of Israel and Palestine, for the sake of peace for both people and both nations?”
In a region rife with conflict, uprisings and revolutions, peace is a perpetual question. On its website, Chefs for Peace indicates that its essential ingredients are bread and salt. Salt, in Middle Eastern cultures, symbolizes a bond of brotherhood.
“We do not waste our time in kitchens to talk about politics,” he said before pausing for a moment. “You know what we talk about? We talk about sex, life and enjoyment.”
Saideh Jamshidi is an American-Iranian journalist, filmmaker and editor covering Middle East news and Muslim women for the Global Press Institute and Chicagoistheworld.com. Saideh worked in major newspapers in Iran before settling in the United States as a foreign correspondent. On Twitter: @yazirum