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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


IPCC chair election: 5 candidates, 8 weeks to go

By Megan Darby of ” title=”http://www.rtcc.org” target=”_blank”>www.rtcc.org/2015/08/14/ipcc-chai…

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SustainabiliTank supports Naki (Nebosja Nakicenovic) because of his years long personal involvement in energy matters and his understanding of the importance of energy in the economy, on the environment and in development matters. Further, we think his Vienna base at the former East-West IIASA institution – is a tremendous plus – and as well – practically all UN and international energy active centers are based in Vienna be it UN affiliates like IAEA and OPEC and then the new SE4All which ought to be a major locus for post-Paris-2015.

Also, we think it as a plus, the fact that Naki was not part of the outgoing IPCC management – we found years ago that the influence of oil interests reached into the minds and actions of that outgoing management.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 14th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: UNITAR E-LEARNING TEAM

Environmental Governance Programme

United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)

Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel: +41 22 917 8776

 delphine.clement at unitar.orgwww.unitar.org

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) wishes to inform you of the launch of an e-learning training session on Green Economy (in French) which will begin next September.
 www.unitar.org/sites/default/file…

For further information on the course methodology, structure, registration and fellowship opportunities, please consult the course announcement below.
Do not hesitate to disseminate this information around you.

The “Environmental Governance” team of UNITAR remains at your disposal should you need any additional information,

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

Breaking Latest forecast suggests ‘Godzilla El Niño’ may be coming to California
By Rong-Gong Lin II

The strengthening El Niño in the Pacific Ocean has the potential to become one of the most powerful on record, as warming ocean waters surge toward the Americas, setting up a pattern that could bring once-in-a-generation storms this winter to drought-parched California.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday that all computer models are now predicting a strong El Niño to peak in the late fall or early winter. A host of observations have led scientists to conclude that “collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic features reflect a significant and strengthening El Niño.”

At the moment, this year’s El Niño is stronger than it was at this time of year in 1997. Areas in red and white represent the warmest sea-surface temperatures above the average. (Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at La Cañada Flintridge – their climatologist Bill Patzert)

To see the graphs – please go to Los Angeles Times or Rolling Stones – our source at:
 www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me…


Patzert said El Niño’s signal in the ocean “right now is stronger than it was in 1997,” the summer in which the most powerful El Niño on record developed.


“Everything now is going to the right way for El Niño,” Patzert said. “If this lives up to its potential, this thing can bring a lot of floods, mudslides and mayhem.”

After the strongest El Niño on record muscled up through the summer of 1997, the following winter gave Southern California double its annual rainfall and dumped double the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, an essential source of precipitation for the state’s water supply, Patzert said.

A strong El Niño can shift a subtropical jet stream that normally pours rain over the jungles of southern Mexico and Central America toward California and the southern United States.

But so much rain all at once has proved devastating to California in the past. In early 1998, storms brought widespread flooding and mudslides, causing 17 deaths and more than half a billion dollars in damage in California. Downtown L.A. got nearly a year’s worth of rain in February 1998.

The effects of this muscular El Niño – nicknamed “Bruce Lee” by one blogger for the National Weather Service – are already being felt worldwide. While a strong El Niño can bring heavy winter rains to California and the southern United States, it can also bring dry weather elsewhere in the world.

Already, El Niño is being blamed for drought conditions in parts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia, as occurred in 1997-98.

Drought is also persistent in Central America. Water levels are now so low in the waterways that make up the Panama Canal that officials recently announced limits on traffic through the passageway that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

El Niño also influenced the heavy rainstorms that effectively ended drought conditions in Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma.

There are a couple reasons why scientists say El Niño is gaining strength.

First, ocean temperatures west of Peru are continuing to climb. The temperatures in a benchmark location of the Pacific Ocean were 3.4 degrees above the average as of Aug. 5. That’s slightly higher than it was on Aug. 6, 1997, when it was 3.2 degrees above normal.

The mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is also bigger and deeper than it was at this point in 1997, Patzert said.

Second, the so-called trade winds that normally keep the ocean waters west of Peru cool — by pushing warm water further west toward Indonesia — are weakening.

That’s allowing warm water to flow eastward toward the Americas, giving El Niño more strength.

For this year’s El Niño to truly rival its 1997 counterpart, there still needs to be “a major collapse in trade winds from August to November as we saw in 1997,” Patzert said.

“We’re waiting for the big trade wind collapse,” Patzert said. “If it does, it could be stronger than 1997.”

There is a small chance such a collapse may not happen.

“There’s always a possibility these trade winds could surprise us and come back,” Patzert said.

Overall, the Climate Prediction Center forecast a greater-than-90% chance that El Niño will continue through this winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and about an 85% chance it will last into the early spring.

In California, officials have cautioned the public against imagining that El Niño will suddenly end the state’s chronic water challenges. A forecast is never a sure thing, they say.

And they also want to remind the public that California has been dry for much of the last 15 years. Even if California gets a wet winter this year, it could be followed by another severe multi-year drought.

“We certainly wouldn’t want people to think that, ‘Gee, because it’s an El Niño this year, it’s going to be wet and therefore we can stop conserving water,” Jeanine Jones, the California Department of Water Resources’ deputy drought manager, said in July.

Another problem is that the Pacific Ocean west of California is substantially warmer than it was in 1997. That could mean that though El Niño-enhanced precipitation fell as snow in early 1998, storms hitting the north could cause warm rain to fall this winter. Such a situation would not be good news “for long-term water storage in the snowpack,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at Stanford University.

Drought officials prefer snow in the mountains in the winter because it slowly melts during the spring and summer and can trickle at a gentle speed into the state’s largest reservoirs in Northern California. Too much rain all at once in the mountains in the winter can force officials to flush excess water to the ocean to keep dams from overflowing.

Swain said it’s important to keep in mind that all El Niño events are different, and just because the current El Niño has the potential to be the strongest on record “doesn’t necessarily mean that the effects in California will be the same.”

Interested in the stories shaping California? Sign up for the free Essential California newsletter >>

“A strong El Niño is very likely at this point, namely because we’ve essentially reached the threshold already, but a wet winter is never a guarantee in California,” Swain said in an email.

“I think a good way to think about it is this: There is essentially no other piece of information that is more useful in predicting California winter precipitation several months in advance than the existence of a strong El Niño event,” Swain said. “But it’s still just one piece of the puzzle. So while the likelihood of a wet winter is increasing, we still can’t rule out other outcomes.”

Updated Aug. 13, 8:10 a.m.: In another sign that El Niño is gaining strength, sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean have risen to their highest level so far this year.

That temperature increase — 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the average — was recorded Aug. 5 by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center at a benchmark location in the Pacific. That is slightly higher than it was on Aug. 6, 1997, when it was 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

———————————————————-

Updated Aug. 13, 9:29 a.m.: “This could be among the strongest El Niños in the historical record dating back to 1950,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

ALSO:

California will soon have toughest shower head requirements in nation

Another El Niño sign: Ocean temps hit highest level of the year

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Climate Plans in the Lead-up to Paris: Where Do We Stand?
by Taryn Fransen, Mengpin Ge, Kelly Levin, Eliza Northrop and Heather McGray – August 04, 2015 of the Washington DC “World Resources Institute (WRI).

Halfway through the year in which the world is slated to adopt a new international climate agreement, countries responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions have now released their post-2020 climate action plans. The rest of the world’s nations are expected to submit their own plans, or “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) between now and December, with many expected before October 1st.

So the big questions are: How do these INDCs stack up, and what impact will they have in reining in climate change?

We’ve been tracking INDCs as they come in, attempting to understand what they mean for the Paris negotiations, and evaluating whether they are transparent enough to allow us to gauge global progress on climate action. Here’s a comprehensive look at progress so far on mitigation, equity and transparency. A separate blog post takes stock of progress on adaptation.

For the full article and the imgraphics – please go to:
 www.wri.org/blog/2015/08/climate-…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Phasing out fossil fuel would show true EU leadership

Front page photo – “Coal plant: Countries like Poland fear additional regulations.”

By Charlotte Flechet
Quebec, 1 August 10, 2015

For about 20 years, the EU has been a constructive leader in climate negotiations: benefitting from a growing economy, and support from public opinion. However, in the last few years, the EU’s leadership has been declining due to a series of internal and external factors.

On the one hand, the Union’s eastern enlargement has increased internal divisions among member states. Countries like Poland, which heavily rely on coal for their energy supply, fear additional regulations, and traditional leaders, such as Germany, are taking a step back in the context of an ongoing economic crisis.

On the other hand, China and the US have become more proactive in negotiations and are also in the lead for wind energy production and investments in renewable energy.

The EU has largely lost its ability to lead by example. The 2030 framework for climate and energy policies agreed last October, was criticised by NGOs for its lack of ambition.

Although the 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 was generally welcomed, the non-binding targets for energy efficiency and the shy 7 percent increase in share of renewables over 10 years was considered too weak.

Simultaneously, concerns about the influence of fossil fuel and other industrial lobbies on EU decision-making processes raise questions about the EU’s willingness to lead.

Among the latest victims are the Fuel Quality Directive whose ambitions were reduced in the context of the ‘CETA/TTIP’ negotiations with North American countries, and the 2030 European renewable energy targets that were weakened following intensive lobbying by oil and gas giant, Shell.

Calendar records show that some European Commissioners have dedicated a considerable amount of their time to business lobbyists.

Around 83 percent of the meetings of climate commissioner Miguel Canete, and 70 Canete of Maros Sefcovic’s, commission vice-president for the Energy Union, were with businesses, mostly representing heavy industry and fossil fuels.

Knowing that, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, the EU is collectively allowing $330 billion in subsidies to fossil fuels annually, one could question the EU’s ability to lead a climate transition.

If it wants to come out of the climate crisis with a prosperous, socially, and ecologically sound society, the EU must speed up the pace of its transition and review its priorities.
Immoral

Defending fossil fuels is immoral and goes against the human rights so dear to Europeans’ hearts. The EU cannot be a genuine leader in climate negotiations while at the same time supporting destructive practices that will affect billions of lives.

This is why the EU needs a new climate narrative.

Europe could win big by reinvesting in its ability to lead by example. Given the austere economic context, it is unlikely that it will be able to lead by using carrots and sticks as it used to do in the past.

Instead, a less costly option would be to reaffirm its role as a normative power. Endorsing fossil fuel divestment and taking measures in that direction could help it achieve this objective.

The demands of the fossil fuel divestment movement are rooted in scientific evidence.

A recent article published in Nature, claims that 80 percent of coal, 50 percent of gas and one third of all oil reserves must remain in the ground if we are to stay within the 2°C maximum temperature rise.

Given the current rate of emissions, this “carbon budget” will be exhausted within 25 years.

Phasing out of fossil fuels is a necessity. By publicly endorsing fossil fuel divestment and reorienting its incentives and subsidies the EU could gain the trust of other nations, particularly the most vulnerable ones. This could ultimately contribute to the enhancement of the Union’s bargaining power in climate negotiations.


This is not just idealism.

In 2013, Connie Hedegaard, then EU climate commissioner, pleaded for the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to lead the way in eliminating public finance support for fossil fuels.

Numerous world leaders and organisations including the UN’s Ban Ki Moon, South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, and French president Francois Hollande have publicly supported divestment.
Economic rationale

There is also a strong economic rationale for this.

Fossil fuel companies are currently overrated as their value on financial markets does not appropriately account for the risks of their assets being stranded.

Future climate regulations are likely to impact on the financial value of these companies, which will in turn affect all those who have invested money in them.

A study by the European Green Party found that European pension funds, insurance companies and banks have invested more than €1 trillion in fossil fuels.

In a low carbon breakthrough scenario, these institutions are likely to lose between €350 billion and €400 billion.

A much higher figure is expected if action is further delayed. In June, Shell’s former chairman said that moving money away from fossil fuel companies is a rational response to slow progress on climate change.

Besides, low-carbon energy products are amongst the most dynamic growth sectors. Reorienting subsidies to support transition towards low carbon technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy is a reasonable option.

Leading by example has worked in the past.


ETS – Emissions Trading System:

The 2005 Emissions Trading System is probably one of the best examples of successful spill over. It has also been argued that the EU’s leading role in climate action was crucial in creating momentum for other countries to act elsewhere.

In the current context of austerity, with an almost unconditional focus on growth and competitiveness, the EU is missing a major opportunity.

The EU should phase out fossil energy. It is of course only part of a solution that requires much broader changes.

This might sound too idealistic, but aren’t youngsters allowed to dream?

Charlotte Flechet is an environment policies worker and an activist for the Global Call for Climate Action campaign

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


The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here

By Eric Holthaus, Rolling Stone

09 August 15

The worst predicted impacts of climate change are starting to happen — and much faster than climate scientists expected

istorians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. In Washington state’s Olympic National Park, the rainforest caught fire for the first time in living memory. London reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest July day ever recorded in the U.K.; The Guardian briefly had to pause its live blog of the heat wave because its computer servers overheated. In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains. Puerto Rico is under its strictest water rationing in history as a monster El Niño forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifting weather patterns worldwide.

On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren’t cut, “We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.”

Eric Rignot, a climate scientist at NASA and the University of California-Irvine and a co-author on Hansen’s study, said their new research doesn’t necessarily change the worst-case scenario on sea-level rise, it just makes it much more pressing to think about and discuss, especially among world leaders. In particular, says Rignot, the new research shows a two-degree Celsius rise in global temperature — the previously agreed upon “safe” level of climate change — “would be a catastrophe for sea-level rise.”

Hansen’s new study also shows how complicated and unpredictable climate change can be. Even as global ocean temperatures rise to their highest levels in recorded history, some parts of the ocean, near where ice is melting exceptionally fast, are actually cooling, slowing ocean circulation currents and sending weather patterns into a frenzy. Sure enough, a persistently cold patch of ocean is starting to show up just south of Greenland, exactly where previous experimental predictions of a sudden surge of freshwater from melting ice expected it to be. Michael Mann, another prominent climate scientist, recently said of the unexpectedly sudden Atlantic slowdown, “This is yet another example of where observations suggest that climate model predictions may be too conservative when it comes to the pace at which certain aspects of climate change are proceeding.”

Since storm systems and jet streams in the United States and Europe partially draw their energy from the difference in ocean temperatures, the implication of one patch of ocean cooling while the rest of the ocean warms is profound. Storms will get stronger, and sea-level rise will accelerate. Scientists like Hansen only expect extreme weather to get worse in the years to come, though Mann said it was still “unclear” whether recent severe winters on the East Coast are connected to the phenomenon.

And yet, these aren’t even the most disturbing changes happening to the Earth’s biosphere that climate scientists are discovering this year. For that, you have to look not at the rising sea levels but to what is actually happening within the oceans themselves.

Water temperatures this year in the North Pacific have never been this high for this long over such a large area — and it is already having a profound effect on marine life.

Eighty-year-old Roger Thomas runs whale-watching trips out of San Francisco. On an excursion earlier this year, Thomas spotted 25 humpbacks and three blue whales. During a survey on July 4th, federal officials spotted 115 whales in a single hour near the Farallon Islands — enough to issue a boating warning. Humpbacks are occasionally seen offshore in California, but rarely so close to the coast or in such numbers. Why are they coming so close to shore? Exceptionally warm water has concentrated the krill and anchovies they feed on into a narrow band of relatively cool coastal water. The whales are having a heyday. “It’s unbelievable,” Thomas told a local paper. “Whales are all over
the place.”

Last fall, in northern Alaska, in the same part of the Arctic where Shell is planning to drill for oil, federal scientists discovered 35,000 walruses congregating on a single beach. It was the largest-ever documented “haul out” of walruses, and a sign that sea ice, their favored habitat, is becoming harder and harder to find.

Marine life is moving north, adapting in real time to the warming ocean. Great white sharks have been sighted breeding near Monterey Bay, California, the farthest north that’s ever been known to occur. A blue marlin was caught last summer near Catalina Island — 1,000 miles north of its typical range. Across California, there have been sightings of non-native animals moving north, such as Mexican red crabs.

No species may be as uniquely endangered as the one most associated with the Pacific Northwest, the salmon. Every two weeks, Bill Peterson, an oceanographer and senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Oregon, takes to the sea to collect data he uses to forecast the return of salmon. What he’s been seeing this year is deeply troubling.

Salmon are crucial to their coastal ecosystem like perhaps few other species on the planet. A significant portion of the nitrogen in West Coast forests has been traced back to salmon, which can travel hundreds of miles upstream to lay their eggs. The largest trees on Earth simply wouldn’t exist without salmon.

But their situation is precarious. This year, officials in California are bringing salmon downstream in convoys of trucks, because river levels are too low and the temperatures too warm for them to have a reasonable chance of surviving. One species, the winter-run Chinook salmon, is at a particularly increased risk of decline in the next few years, should the warm water persist offshore.

“You talk to fishermen, and they all say: ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before,’?” says Peterson. “So when you have no experience with something like this, it gets like, ‘What the hell’s going on?’?”

Atmospheric scientists increasingly believe that the exceptionally warm waters over the past months are the early indications of a phase shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a cyclical warming of the North Pacific that happens a few times each century. Positive phases of the PDO have been known to last for 15 to 20 years, during which global warming can increase at double the rate as during negative phases of the PDO. It also makes big El Niños, like this year’s, more likely. The nature of PDO phase shifts is unpredictable — climate scientists simply haven’t yet figured out precisely what’s behind them and why they happen when they do. It’s not a permanent change — the ocean’s temperature will likely drop from these record highs, at least temporarily, some time over the next few years — but the impact on marine species will be lasting, and scientists have pointed to the PDO as a global-warming preview.

“The climate [change] models predict this gentle, slow increase in temperature,” says Peterson, “but the main problem we’ve had for the last few years is the variability is so high. As scientists, we can’t keep up with it, and neither can the animals.” Peterson likens it to a boxer getting pummeled round after round: “At some point, you knock them down, and the fight is over.”

Attendant with this weird wildlife behavior is a stunning drop in the number of plankton — the basis of the ocean’s food chain. In July, another major study concluded that acidifying oceans are likely to have a “quite traumatic” impact on plankton diversity, with some species dying out while others flourish. As the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it’s converted into carbonic acid — and the pH of seawater declines. According to lead author Stephanie Dutkiewicz of MIT, that trend means “the whole food chain is going to be different.”

The Hansen study may have gotten more attention, but the Dutkiewicz study, and others like it, could have even more dire implications for our future. The rapid changes Dutkiewicz and her colleagues are observing have shocked some of their fellow scientists into thinking that yes, actually, we’re heading toward the worst-case scenario. Unlike a prediction of massive sea-level rise just decades away, the warming and acidifying oceans represent a problem that seems to have kick-started a mass extinction on the same time scale.

Jacquelyn Gill is a paleoecologist at the University of Maine. She knows a lot about extinction, and her work is more relevant than ever. Essentially, she’s trying to save the species that are alive right now by learning more about what killed off the ones that aren’t. The ancient data she studies shows “really compelling evidence that there can be events of abrupt climate change that can happen well within human life spans. We’re talking less than a decade.”

For the past year or two, a persistent change in winds over the North Pacific has given rise to what meteorologists and oceanographers are calling “the blob” — a highly anomalous patch of warm water between Hawaii, Alaska and Baja California that’s thrown the marine ecosystem into a tailspin. Amid warmer temperatures, plankton numbers have plummeted, and the myriad species that depend on them have migrated or seen their own numbers dwindle.

Significant northward surges of warm water have happened before, even frequently. El Niño, for example, does this on a predictable basis. But what’s happening this year appears to be something new. Some climate scientists think that the wind shift is linked to the rapid decline in Arctic sea ice over the past few years, which separate research has shown makes weather patterns more likely to get stuck.

A similar shift in the behavior of the jet stream has also contributed to the California drought and severe polar vortex winters in the Northeast over the past two years. An amplified jet-stream pattern has produced an unusual doldrum off the West Coast that’s persisted for most of the past 18 months. Daniel Swain, a Stanford University meteorologist, has called it the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” — weather patterns just aren’t supposed to last this long.

What’s increasingly uncontroversial among scientists is that in many ecosystems, the impacts of the current off-the-charts temperatures in the North Pacific will linger for years, or longer. The largest ocean on Earth, the Pacific is exhibiting cyclical variability to greater extremes than other ocean basins. While the North Pacific is currently the most dramatic area of change in the world’s oceans, it’s not alone: Globally, 2014 was a record-setting year for ocean temperatures, and 2015 is on pace to beat it soundly, boosted by the El Niño in the Pacific. Six percent of the world’s reefs could disappear before the end of the decade, perhaps permanently, thanks to warming waters.

Since warmer oceans expand in volume, it’s also leading to a surge in sea-level rise. One recent study showed a slowdown in Atlantic Ocean currents, perhaps linked to glacial melt from Greenland, that caused a four-inch rise in sea levels along the Northeast coast in just two years, from 2009 to 2010. To be sure, it seems like this sudden and unpredicted surge was only temporary, but scientists who studied the surge estimated it to be a 1-in-850-year event, and it’s been blamed on accelerated beach erosion “almost as significant as some hurricane events.”

Possibly worse than rising ocean temperatures is the acidification of the waters. Acidification has a direct effect on mollusks and other marine animals with hard outer bodies: A striking study last year showed that, along the West Coast, the shells of tiny snails are already dissolving, with as-yet-unknown consequences on the ecosystem. One of the study’s authors, Nina Bednaršek, told Science magazine that the snails’ shells, pitted by the acidifying ocean, resembled “cauliflower” or “sandpaper.” A similarly striking study by more than a dozen of the world’s top ocean scientists this July said that the current pace of increasing carbon emissions would force an “effectively irreversible” change on ocean ecosystems during this century. In as little as a decade, the study suggested, chemical changes will rise significantly above background levels in nearly half of the world’s oceans.

“I used to think it was kind of hard to make things in the ocean go extinct,” James Barry of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California told the Seattle Times in 2013. “But this change we’re seeing is happening so fast it’s almost instantaneous.”

Thanks to the pressure we’re putting on the planet’s ecosystem — warming, acidification and good old-fashioned pollution — the oceans are set up for several decades of rapid change. Here’s what could happen next.

The combination of excessive nutrients from agricultural runoff, abnormal wind patterns and the warming oceans is already creating seasonal dead zones in coastal regions when algae blooms suck up most of the available oxygen. The appearance of low-oxygen regions has doubled in frequency every 10 years since 1960 and should continue to grow over the coming decades at an even greater rate.

So far, dead zones have remained mostly close to the coasts, but in the 21st century, deep-ocean dead zones could become common. These low-oxygen regions could gradually expand in size — potentially thousands of miles across — which would force fish, whales, pretty much everything upward. If this were to occur, large sections of the temperate deep oceans would suffer should the oxygen-free layer grow so pronounced that it stratifies, pushing surface ocean warming into overdrive and hindering upwelling of cooler, nutrient-rich deeper water.

Enhanced evaporation from the warmer oceans will create heavier downpours, perhaps destabilizing the root systems of forests, and accelerated runoff will pour more excess nutrients into coastal areas, further enhancing dead zones. In the past year, downpours have broken records in Long Island, Phoenix, Detroit, Baltimore, Houston and Pensacola, Florida.

Evidence for the above scenario comes in large part from our best understanding of what happened 250 million years ago, during the “Great Dying,” when more than 90 percent of all oceanic species perished after a pulse of carbon dioxide and methane from land-based sources began a period of profound climate change. The conditions that triggered “Great Dying” took hundreds of thousands of years to develop. But humans have been emitting carbon dioxide at a much quicker rate, so the current mass extinction only took 100 years or so to kick-start.

With all these stressors working against it, a hypoxic feedback loop could wind up destroying some of the oceans’ most species-rich ecosystems within our lifetime. A recent study by Sarah Moffitt of the University of California-Davis said it could take the ocean thousands of years to recover. “Looking forward for my kid, people in the future are not going to have the same ocean that I have today,” Moffitt said.

As you might expect, having tickets to the front row of a global environmental catastrophe is taking an increasingly emotional toll on scientists, and in some cases pushing them toward advocacy. Of the two dozen or so scientists I interviewed for this piece, virtually all drifted into apocalyptic language at some point.

For Simone Alin, an oceanographer focusing on ocean acidification at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, the changes she’s seeing hit close to home. The Puget Sound is a natural laboratory for the coming decades of rapid change because its waters are naturally more acidified than most of the world’s marine ecosystems.

The local oyster industry here is already seeing serious impacts from acidifying waters and is going to great lengths to avoid a total collapse. Alin calls oysters, which are non-native, the canary in the coal mine for the Puget Sound: “A canary is also not native to a coal mine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good indicator of change.”

Though she works on fundamental oceanic changes every day, the Dutkiewicz study on the impending large-scale changes to plankton caught her off-guard: “This was alarming to me because if the basis of the food web changes, then?.?.?.?everything could change, right?”

Alin’s frank discussion of the looming oceanic apocalypse is perhaps a product of studying unfathomable change every day. But four years ago, the birth of her twins “heightened the whole issue,” she says. “I was worried enough about these problems before having kids that I maybe wondered whether it was a good idea. Now, it just makes me feel crushed.”

Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian, moved from Canada to Texas with her husband, a pastor, precisely because of its vulnerability to climate change. There, she engages with the evangelical community on science — almost as a missionary would. But she’s already planning her exit strategy: “If we continue on our current pathway, Canada will be home for us long term. But the majority of people don’t have an exit strategy.?.?.?.?So that’s who I’m here trying to help.”

James Hansen, the dean of climate scientists, retired from NASA in 2013 to become a climate activist. But for all the gloom of the report he just put his name to, Hansen is actually somewhat hopeful. That’s because he knows that climate change has a straightforward solution: End fossil-fuel use as quickly as possible. If tomorrow, the leaders of the United States and China would agree to a sufficiently strong, coordinated carbon tax that’s also applied to imports, the rest of the world would have no choice but to sign up. This idea has already been pitched to Congress several times, with tepid bipartisan support. Even though a carbon tax is probably a long shot, for Hansen, even the slim possibility that bold action like this might happen is enough for him to devote the rest of his life to working to achieve it. On a conference call with reporters in July, Hansen said a potential joint U.S.-China carbon tax is more important than whatever happens at the United Nations climate talks in Paris.

One group Hansen is helping is Our Children’s Trust, a legal advocacy organization that’s filed a number of novel challenges on behalf of minors under the idea that climate change is a violation of intergenerational equity — children, the group argues, are lawfully entitled to inherit a healthy planet.

A separate challenge to U.S. law is being brought by a former EPA scientist arguing that carbon dioxide isn’t just a pollutant (which, under the Clean Air Act, can dissipate on its own), it’s also a toxic substance. In general, these substances have exceptionally long life spans in the environment, cause an unreasonable risk, and therefore require remediation. In this case, remediation may involve planting vast numbers of trees or restoring wetlands to bury excess carbon underground.

Even if these novel challenges succeed, it will take years before a bend in the curve is noticeable. But maybe that’s enough. When all feels lost, saving a few species will feel like a triumph.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 9th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Democrats are also looking forward to Thursday’s debate among the Republican presidential candidates — and making demands.

The Democratic governor of California – Edmund G. Brown – released a two-page letter Wednesday in advance of last Thursday’s planned GOP debate in Cleveland. He says California is hotter and drier than it’s ever been, making wildfires more severe and extending the fire season.

The Governor was asking the GOP candidates what they plan to do about climate change.

“Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here — and here to stay,” Brown said in his letter. “This is the new normal. The climate is changing. Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

In general, the Republicans have criticized President Obama’s climate change plans as government overreach that will cut jobs in the energy sector and increase utility bills for middle class Americans.

But the Fox team under the leadership of Ms. Megin Kelly did not ask the candidates a single question in that direction.
So what is the candidates stand on these issues? Would they rather give up California then take a stand? Or the silence at that debate was imposed by the Republican National Committee.

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

Vua RSN (Readers Supported News) we know that:

Reader Supported News | 08 August 15 AM

Defense Contractors Spend Millions to Overturn Limits on Military Spending

By Alexander Cohen, Center for Public Integrity

08 August 15

The Pentagon’s top contractors sent an army of more than 400 lobbyists to Capitol Hill this spring to press their case for increasing the nation’s spending on military hardware, in a massive effort costing tens of millions of dollars of their own funds from April to June alone, according to an analysis of public lobbying data by the Center for Public Integrity.

The contractors are upset in part because most military spending has been capped for the past few years under budget controls meant to rein in government debt. So far, the caps have forced a decline in main defense budgets from about $528.2 billion in fiscal 2011 to $496.1 billion in fiscal 2015, instead of a previously projected increase to roughly $598 billion. Mounting frustration with the caps was evident in the administration’s submission this year of a military budget that exceeded the limits by about $38 billion, followed by moves by both branches of Congress to add even more billions.


The caps remain the law of the land, however, and they won’t go away until Congress votes to lift them. The issue has so far been tangled up in a dispute between the parties over whether to also increase spending on social welfare programs. But several lobbyists said in interviews that they were optimistic that this could finally be the year that lawmakers agree to let defense contractors return to their historic pattern of ever-higher revenue from the federal treasury.

This could explain in part why total lobbying expenditures by the 53 top defense contractors that reported paying for such work in the second quarter of 2015 were more than 25 percent higher than the amount they spent in the same quarter of 2014 — $58.5 million instead of $45.7 million. But not all of the lobbying was related solely to military spending.

Boeing, a $100 billion corporation that makes military aircraft and other lethal hardware, as well as civilian aerospace goods, reported to the clerk of the House and the secretary of the Senate that it spent almost $13.2 million on lobbying in the first two quarters of this year. Its filing said some of this expenditure was related to expanding its “Commercial Aircraft Sales/Services” and supporting the Export-Import Bank, among other issues. The aerospace contractor’s commercial aircraft division receives billions in financing from the bank, and so it has a large stake in this year’s continuing congressional skirmish over renewing the bank’s charter.

Gayla Keller, a Boeing communications director, declined to comment specifically on their lobbying activities in an emailed response to questions.

Parsing the lobbying reports to sort out just the defense-related expenditures for these contractors is not easy, because the lobbying reporting requirements have some ambiguity baked into them. Lobbying expenses are only reported on an overall basis for an organization, and aren’t tied to specific issues or associated with the agencies that lobbyists target. And for some of the top defense contractors, the Pentagon is only one of many customers, albeit an outsized one.

Still, 40 of the 53 top contractors that lobbied during the last quarter reported that one target of their efforts was the National Defense Authorization Act, the main legislation authorizing defense spending each year. Some of these firms — including Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon — said that their efforts were aimed at budget controls.

General Electric — which makes washing machines and light bulbs and has a major healthcare division — lobbied on the Export-Import Bank, Medicare, passenger and freight train safety and natural gas production, according to its latest disclosure. It also lobbied on several defense weapons programs, including the B-1 Bomber, the CH-53K Super Stallion helicopter, the F-18 Fighter and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

General Electric responded to the Center’s requests for comment with an emailed statement that its “[e]mployees educate officials on our Company’s operations, emerging technologies and markets, as well as on our views on public policy issues.”

Boeing and General Electric had the largest increases in lobbying spending compared with the same period in 2014, among the 15 defense contractors that spent $1 million or more to lobby in the quarter. General Electric almost tripled its lobbying spending compared with the earlier period, from $2.8 million to almost $8.5 million. Boeing more than doubled its spending for the quarter, from almost $4.2 million in the second quarter of 2014 to $9.3 million in the most recent quarter of this year.

Industry experts the Center spoke with said that while there were probably multiple reasons for the heightened lobbying, lifting the budget caps has been the industry’s central ambition. “People are concerned about the sequester,” said retired Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, the chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association, the country’s main defense industry association. “For the industry as a whole, that may be the top issue,” said a veteran defense lobbyist, who asked not to be named.

Of the total 655 lobbyists employed by the contractors, 423 of them specifically lobbied on defense, in some cases along with other issues, according to the lobbying reports.

General Dynamics paid for 74 lobbyists, more than any other contractor, for example, and 70 of these lobbied on defense, part of its $2.7 million lobbying tab. Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, spent $3.5 million and enlisted 64 lobbyists to press government officials, including 56 who lobbied on defense as well as other issues.

“The defense budget is capped at a level that neither the industry nor the Pentagon wants,” said Gordon Adams, a fellow at the Stimson Center and a senior White House budget official for national security during the Clinton administration. “The industry has been active on that, company by company, and by the industry as a whole,” Adams said. Companies “either want to raise the caps or get rid of them all together.”

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

Atlanta (CNN) — August 8, 2015 — Donald Trump’s latest controversial comment was so alarming that he’s been disinvited from a conservative gathering Saturday in Atlanta.

At issue: Trump’s comments on “CNN Tonight” about Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, who moderated a GOP presidential candidate debate Thursday night. During the debate, she pressed Trump about misogynistic, sexist comments he made in the past.

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon on Friday night. “Blood coming out of her wherever.”

That remark crossed the line, said RedState.com editor Erick Erickson. He disinvited Trump from the RedState Gathering, a conservative event featuring presidential hopefuls this weekend in Atlanta.

I have tried to give a great deal of latitude to Donald Trump in his run for the presidency,” Erickson wrote.

“He is not a professional politician and is known for being a blunt talker. He connects with so much of the anger in the Republican base and is not afraid to be outspoken on a lot of issues. But there are even lines blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross. Decency is one of those lines.”

Erickson said while he likes Trump personally, “I just don’t want someone on stage who gets a hostile question from a lady and his first inclination is to imply it was hormonal. It just was wrong.”

But the Trump campaign fired back, saying “this is just another example of weakness through being politically correct.”

“For all of the people who were looking forward to Mr. Trump coming, we will miss you,” his campaign said. “Blame Erick Erickson, your weak and pathetic leader. We’ll now be doing another campaign stop at another location.”


The RedState Gathering will go on without Trump. This year, the annual event features fellow GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker.

As for newly vacant spot at the RedState Gathering, Erickson has invited Kelly to replace Trump.

———————-

Having invited Carly Fiorina, the inclusion of Fox’s Megyn Kelly increases at the RedStates.com gathering number of women in their “Ten” to two. They also bring up Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry. Left out besides Trump and Carson are also Paul and – most significantly – Kasich.

Was Dr. Carson left out because of his statement: “his patients’ brains, not their skin color, are what ‘makes them who they are?’”

———————

The New York Times front article today – August 8, 2015 – has it:

After Senator Marco Rubio of Florida insisted at the Republican presidential debate that rape and incest victims should carry pregnancies to term, aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton could barely contain their delight at his unyielding stance, rushing to tell reporters at her headquarters that those remarks would hurt Mr. Rubio with female voters.

When Donald J. Trump chose on Friday to stand by his slights against women during the debate, saying the Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly “behaved very badly” as a moderator —
and then promoting a Twitter message calling her a “bimbo” — feminists were not the only ones outraged: the chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party accused Mr. Trump of chauvinism.

And in response to multiple male candidates saying they would shut down the federal government over financing for Planned Parenthood, the Democratic National Committee emailed talking points to allies within an hour saying that among the losers at the debate were “American women, who were attacked at every turn.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Republican Party of the USA is the guardian of Corporate America in effect it is owned by the corporations and we heard this from last night’s stage at the Cleveland Ohio Arena – the future home of the Republican National Convention that will be called to nominate the party’s candidate for the 2016 Presidential elections. We heard this from Donald Trump who said in the open that he gives money to any candidate just for the asking – he gave also to some of the others on that stage. He even gave to the foundation of the Clintons – that is how he owns them. Hillary came to his wedding – she had to – she got his money.

All the Senators on the stage are corporate owned he established. That explains many things. He thinks he would be the best President to save the country from this oppression from banks and Wall Street because he is one of those that know the system from the inside and he knew how to work with them to his advantage which he demonstrated in his corporations that went through four bankruptcies without himself ever have gone bankrupt.

The real problem with the US is this tremendous debt – in major part owed to China. He feels he is qualified to handle this issue more then any of those Corporate owned other competitors – he even is not promising to back any of them if they if they are nominated – he is savvy. Ever heard such a rebellion and ever figured that he is on solid ground in this rebellion?
n
Now about FOX NEWS – their owner and management are sworn Republicans and them running last night’s show turned it into a family affair rather then an event open to the Nation. Into this milieu intruded Donald Trump and rather then seeing in him the revolutionary they saw the sensation aspect but fought him in order to please the right-wing party base. They sat up a moderator team centered around a good looking monumental blonde and asked only questions on social issues that please that “base.”

THERE WERE NO REAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ECONOMY, ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, THE COMING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DISASTERS OR ANY OTHER REAL QUESTION ABOUT MATTERS OF GLOBAL CONCERNS. Instead we heard a question about if the candidate is getting his orders from God and innumerable attacks on Obamacare and the agreement with Iran.

My wife wrote me from Vienna that it is good Fox News cannot be seen live on local TV – so the locals do not see the US in all its political backwardness.

But, what is worse, seemingly no effort was made to open up the show to the non-initiated even here in the US. For example, in Manhattan NY it is known that Channel 5 is Fox News – but they did not show there – they moved it instead to one of their side channels 43 or 44. This while on Channel five they announced that they will give a summary of the first debate at 6 PM – and they did not do even that. I attest to it that mind-numbbing programs went on at least till 8:30 PM. Even I lost because of this the first debate before I found their whereabouts.

But, despite this Republican Leadership clear positioning as roadblock to American Progress, this show was NOT a total loss.
Starting already in the 5 PM “HAPPY HOUR or DRIVING time slot for what was presented as the second tier panel, there was an unprogrammed breakout by Carly Fiorina who was listed originally as 14th. She showed she could content-wise measure up to Mr. Trump, but could also be a leader something that he did not develop. Right there – like in the physical tests for military officer school – she got from among the contestants some that were ready to accept her leadership – this from no less then former Governor of Texas – Mr. Perry – whose starting ranking was 11th. So clearly the rankings will change and we expect Ms. Fiorina to be part of the upper tier at next meeting that will be handled by true outsiders from CNN.

The only other true discovery on those two panels was Dr. Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr. (born September 18, 1951) he is an American author, political pundit, and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon. On May 4, 2015, Carson announced he was running for the Republican nomination in the 2016 Presidential election at a rally in Detroit, his hometown.

Carson was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

After delivering a widely publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he became a popular conservative figure in political media for his views on social and political issues.

He was the one true intellectual on the panels and on the main panel the only non-lily-white person. In effect he is black and the right-wing counterpart to President Obama. He speaks slowly and each word is a thought out pearl. He was fifth on the ingoing list.

At some point he showed impatience and noted to the moderators that they do not direct questions to him. When he got a chance he said that color of skin is not the man and as a neurosurgeon he worked with the real man. Finally, his parting sentences noted that he is the only one on the panel who knows to separate Siamese twins and to remove half brain – but seemingly in Washington he was beaten to it.

I believe that whoever becomes next President – Democrat or Republican – ought to bring in Dr. Carson as a Consultant.

Our own evaluation of the results:

THERE WERE WINNERS: FIORINA, TRUMP, KASICH, CARSON, RUBIO, CHRISTIE
AND CLEAR LOSERS – BUSH, WALKER, PAUL, AND HOLD OUTS – HACKABEE, CRUZ.

THE QUESTION IS WHO WILL DROP OUT TO MAKE PLACE FOR FIORINA. IT SHOULD NOT BE KASICH OR CHRISTIE – SO IT MUST BE PAUL.

CNN SAID EARLIER THAT THEY WERE AIMING AT TWO GROUPS OF EIGHT. A PROBLEM AS BESIDES PAUL TWO MORE HAVE TO BE TAKEN OUT ??

We believe that THE ONE TO WIN IN CLEVELAND NEXT TIME – the real decision making event – WILL NOT BE TRUMP, BUSH, OR WALKER -
THE FIELD IS NOW WIDE OPEN FOR THE REMAINING EIGHT FROM THE ABOVE ELEVEN.

For further evaluation – please read what we mainly got from CNN – the true MEDIA winner from evaluating last nights panels.

CNN ARTICLE FRIDAY, August 7, 2015 – that is built on the FOX NEWS HELD REPUBLICAN DEBATE that THE FOX was not able to review by themselves.

SO, WHO WON THE REPUBLICAN DEBATE?
By Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst
 www.cnn.com/2015/08/07/opinions/o…

(CNN)CNN Opinion asked a range of contributors to give their take on the first Republican Party debate of the 2016 presidential campaign, and to pick their biggest winners and losers from the night. The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely their own.


David Gergen: Trump, a gift to the GOP

Donald Trump may ultimately wind up damaging Republican chances next November but yesterday he gave the GOP presidential candidates a huge gift: his presence generated the biggest, most attentive opening day audience in American politics. Each of the 17 candidates had a chance to audition before a massive number of voters, not to mention donors and journalists. (The debate had a record 24 million viewers, according to Nielsen.)

As a group, the candidates generally rose to the occasion. Yes, there was still too much ideological rigidity, too many canned answers and too little attention to ways that technology and globalization are reshaping the United States. But with nine sitting or former governors and five sitting or former Senators among the candidates, the GOP could showcase plenty of talent.

For my money, there were two candidates who helped themselves the most. One was Governor John Kasich of Ohio: while sticking to conservative principles, he gave voice to common sense Midwestern values as well as a moral commitment to Americans living in the shadows. In effect, he tapped into some of the same anger that Trump has understood but turned it in a warm, positive direction.

The other big winner was Carly Fiorina whose performance in the afternoon debate was universally acclaimed in the press and social media. The GOP ought to hope that she moves up the polls so that women can see at least one representative on center stage — and in her case, one who is articulate, sophisticated and strong.

As for Trump himself, the old rules would say he hurt himself last night, especially with opening answers that came across as narcissistic and boorish. But with so much free floating anger and frustration in today’s politics, the old rules aren’t as powerful as they once were. Who knows? He could deliver yet another big audience when CNN hosts a second round of debates in September.

David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been a White House adviser to four presidents. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at The Harvard Kennedy School. Follow him on Twitter: @david_gergen. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

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Dan Pfeiffer: The debate was Trumped

This was the Donald’s debate. He dominated the discussion, he was the focus of the moderators, social media traffic spiked every time he opened his mouth. Other than Rand Paul (who is apparently still running for President), all of his fellow candidates went out of their way to avoid stoking his ire. Two years after the RNC’s post-election autopsy declared that the only path to victory is a more inclusive tone, Trump has pushed the party further to the right on immigration than it has ever been before. Smart professionals in the Republican Party cringed at every mention of illegals, deportations and walls being built.

Trump may have hurt himself or helped himself, no one really knows because he defies all the traditional rules of politics (he probably hurt himself a lot). But his effect on the field is clear. This is Donald Trump’s party and all the other candidates just seem glad to be invited.

Winner: Marco Rubio. On a night of very uneven performances, Rubio showed flashes of why Democrats fear him most. He has had a tough few months, losing a lot of altitude and momentum, and basically disappearing from the discussion, but he gave Republicans a reason to remember his name tonight.

Loser: Jeb Bush. After several bad weeks, Jeb Bush could really have used a good night. He didn’t have it. Bush, like Huntsman in ’12 and Dukakis in ’88, seems to shrink under the klieg lights. He was nervous, halting, and just painfully uninspiring. Politics in our polarized age is about motivation and Bush gave no indication that he could motivate anyone to get out of bed and vote on a rainy day in November.

No one outshines Donald Trump at GOP debate

Dan Pfeiffer is a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and served in the White House in a variety of roles, including communications director.

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Tara Setmayer: It’s all about relatability

Clear, concise, and a command of the issues. No, I’m not talking about the Donald or Jeb Bush (who terribly underperformed by the way). I’m referring to Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Although he was the youngest contender on the debate stage, he certainly came across as the adult in the room. On a night filled with plenty of zingers and testy exchanges, Rubio was able to rise above the bickering and overly produced bravado. He was prepared, comfortable and most importantly, relatable.

The spats on stage between Trump and Bush, Chris Christie and Rand Paul may have made for an entertaining spectacle, but none of that is worth a grain of political salt if voters cannot relate to you. The relatability factor sunk Romney in 2012 and is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest vulnerabilities heading into 2016. In contrast, Senator Rubio’s own authentic life story as the son of Cuban immigrant parents, one a bartender, the other a maid, rising up from nothing to become a senator and stand on stage as the possible next President of the United States, represents the very essence of the American dream for anyone who believes in the limitless opportunities this country provides.

In one of Rubio’s strongest and most memorable lines of the night, he said: “Who is Hillary Clinton to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck … who is Hillary Clinton to lecture me about repaying students loans?” Exactly.

If Rubio ends up the nominee, imagine the contrast on the debate stage a year from now between Clinton and Rubio. One represents the future, the other a relic of yesteryear. That’s a matchup the Clinton camp surely hopes to avoid and justifiably so.

Bush on the other hand had a disappointing performance. He came across as unsure, defensive and aloof. If Jeb comes across like that again in the upcoming CNN debate in September, watch for supporters on the fence between Bush and Rubio begin to move toward the junior senator from Florida.

Thursday’s winner: Marco Rubio

The loser: Jeb Bush

Breakout performance: Carly Fiorina

Tara Setmayer is former communication’s director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, and a CNN political commentator.

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Opinion: Donald Trump was terrible

Mel Robbins: Trump won.

The first GOP debate is over and Trump is still winning. He dominated the polls leading into the debate. He dominated the pre-debate commentary. He was the only candidate the press greeted when he arrived in Ohio. And most importantly, the rest of the field wasn’t that memorable. Yes Trump’s shtick works best when he’s on the campaign trail, not the debate stage but Trump didn’t do too much damage. At least not enough to knock him from his lead. Plus, Fox pounded him with “gotcha’ questions – like – “when did you become a Republican” yet Trump stood firm. He won the night because even despite ridiculous assertions like ” building a big beautiful door” in the wall he’d build fencing off Mexico, he managed to hold his lead among nine other GOP candidates.

Keep in mind, timing is essential in a campaign. And, at this stage in the race, the public is not yet focused on the election. We’re focused on paying bills, the end of summer, the start of school, basically – everything but the election. So Trump grabbed our attention early and even though Rubio, Christie and Kasich had a good night, Trump still was more memorable; which means at this stage in the race he won; for now.

Loser: Women

Fox pushed an anti-choice agenda over and over and over – and the candidates took the baton and ran with it. From Scott Walker and the imaginary fetus he kept cradling as he talked about his anti-choice views, to Jeb Bush bragging about creating a pro-life culture in Florida despite his state’s record on rising births to unwed mothers to Huckabee pushing for a personhood amendment. Women, women’s health and a woman’s ability to make decisions about her body without men and the government interfering – were under attack.

When men control women’s bodies and our health decisions, every woman loses. And women lost tonight as these 10 men lectured America about what they’d do to limit our control over our bodies if they were president. When Carly Fiorina was asked about Jeb Bush’s quote (which he’s repudiated) that he was “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” she said it was a “foolish” thing to say. Actually, it’s not foolish, it’s downright scary.

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards.

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Donald Trump slams Megyn Kelly

William Howell: Debaters run from race issue

For two hours, the top 10 Republican candidates held forth on the Fourth Amendment rights of unborn children, the imperatives of regulatory reform, the various manifestations of weakness shown by the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of the past six years, the need for a stronger military and simpler tax code, and the merits of a wall (or is it a fence?) along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Hardly a mention was made of race. Ben Carson brought it up only to dismiss its significance. No one confronted the violence, poverty, and incarceration rates that plague black and Hispanic communities. With the exception of Rand Paul’s last-minute shout out to Ferguson and Detroit, the candidates turned away from the bubbling cauldron of anger and alienation—expressed intermittently in resistance and deviance—that has captured national headlines for the last year.

At the 92nd minute, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about the Black Lives Matter movement. He responded with some abbreviated thoughts on the importance of police training. And there, the issue dropped flat, and the station cut to commercial.

Repeatedly, the panel of moderators needled candidates for their perceived weaknesses in an expected showdown with Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Newsflash: For a party that has failed to win a majority of the popular vote in 5 of the past 6 presidential elections, in a country where whites’ share of the electorate is shrinking, Republicans had better find a way to talk about race.

Winner: Marco Rubio. Cool, level-headed and sharp.

Loser: Donald Trump. Unable to command the stage, held in check by debate protocols and vacuous, this one blustered to audience boos

William Howell is the Sydney Stein professor in American politics at the University of Chicago.

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Donna Brazile: Not a real debate, but an audition

With Donald Trump occupying center stage at the first presidential primary debate, the other nine contenders had to look for ways to interject their own ideas or to try to avoid taking a direct hit from the front runner. The task wasn’t easy.

From calling for a big wall to solve our broken immigration system to repealing Obamacare without an alternative, some of the candidates took up a lot of unnecessary room on that debate stage, especially when you consider how much they overlap, at least policy-wise. While they offered muted versions of conservative policies, Donald Trump, though, was the one who was saying those things right out loud.

It’s a bunch of guys saying the exact same thing, and trying to impress people with how well they say it. This wasn’t a debate, it was an audition to remain viable until the next debate or forum.

Biggest losers: Rand Paul and Chris Christie for their bitter clash over NSA surveillance and terrorism. They offered testosterone with a bit of Tabasco.

Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation for the Democratic National Committee. A nationally syndicated columnist, she is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of “Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in America.”

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Buck Sexton: Paul showed up ready to fight

There was no clear standout in the big 10 GOP debate Thursday night, but several candidates turned in strong performances. Marco Rubio showed the polish and policy knowledge you would expect. Same for Ted Cruz, whose biggest obstacle may be over-eloquence, if there is such a thing. Chris Christie hit his stride on entitlements, and showed some glimmers of the swagger that made him a household name.

The biggest surprise of the night came from Rand Paul, who showed up ready to fight. The usually laid-back libertarian came out fiery, getting into squabbles with Donald Trump and Christie (winning the latter exchange). If nothing else, Senator Paul reminded America that he’s still in this thing in a meaningful way.

The rest of the candidates weren’t strong enough to move the needle in their favor. Scott Walker was just OK. Ben Carson came off as he is — an entirely likable, accomplished professional, but he still didn’t get much airtime. John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush were not memorable — and Bush in particular affirmed his politics as usual persona.

Trump is in his own category here. If you didn’t like Trump as a candidate before Thursday night, he did nothing to change your mind. Refusing to pledge his support for the GOP set the tone — and then he admitted on national television that he is an avowed crony capitalist. Of course, none of this will faze Trump’s most ardent supporters, but tonight solidified that he has no chance of winning over the rest of the GOP.

So, the winners tonight? Rubio, Cruz, Paul and Christie

The losers: Bush, Trump, Huckabee and Carson

Buck Sexton is a political commentator for CNN and host of “The Buck Sexton Show” on the Blaze. He was previously a CIA counterterrorism analyst.

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Dean Obeidallah: Race now wide open

On Thursday, we were treated to not one, but two episodes of the summer’s newest reality show. Some will blame Donald Trump for transforming the race into a reality show. And those people would be right. But Fox News also did a great deal to add the reality show feel. First off, they only picked the top 10 contestants, I mean candidates, for the big show. Nothing says you are in the loser debate like staring out at 20,000 empty seat, as the seven other candidates were left to do. And before the debate Fox News’ Chris Wallace even promised someone would hand Trump a “fat juicy ball” of a question with which to attack Jeb Bush to see if the former Florida governor could take it. Fox News should just have gone full reality with celebrity judges and a gong.

So, who were the big winners and losers from the two debates? In terms of not meeting or fulfilling expectations, it would have been Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Trump especially so in that he didn’t offer details on policies, he lashed out, and seemed uncomfortable with the audience turning against him. The winner, at least in terms of might see their poll numbers improve, are likely to be Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Carly Fiorina.

But the bottom line is that the race now seems more wide open than ever.

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” He is a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean’s Report. He’s also the co-director of the documentary “The Muslims Are Coming!” Follow him @TheDeansreport.

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Maria Cardona: Bluster, bravado, no specifics

First things first: She may not have been part of the 10-man “main event” GOP debate, but make no mistake: It was Carly Fiorina, hands down, who shone most Thursday, during the earlier, so-called “happy hour” debate. The second-tier debate, held at 5 p.m. Thursday, proved to be more substantive and let lesser-known candidates like Ms. Fiorina stand out.

The prime time debate, on the other hand, brought us more of the same from every candidate: bluster, bravado, and no specifics from Donald Trump; Chris Christie and Rand Paul yelling at each other over the Patriot Ac;, attacks on Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood all around (is Planned Parenthood running for president?), and criticisms of everything President Obama has done on foreign policy with scant suggestion from any of them about how they would do anything differently.

Donald Trump did not look like a serious candidate, compared with others on stage. But he has struck a chord with Republicans, so likely did no harm to his front runner status and in fact may have satisfied GOP voters for continuing to be a thorn in the side of the Republican establishment. John Kasich may have done himself some good too, taking advantage of his home court advantage and underscoring his accomplishments in Ohio. Scott Walker? Flat, as was Jeb Bush. But Marco Rubio showed flashes of passion, especially on the issue of abortion.

Tonight’s debate likely did not do much to change the standing of these candidates among Republican voters. However, the group underscored to women, minorities, young people, and middle class families why GOP policies would take the country back to a time when women were told what to do with their bodies, where walls, language and different cultures cut people off from the promise of America, and where your future was more determined by how rich you were and not how hard you were determined to work.

Winners: Carly Fiorina, John Kasich — and Hillary Clinton for all of the fodder the candidates gave her for the general election campaign.

Loser: Jeb Bush

Maria Cardona is a political commentator for CNN, a Democratic strategist and principal at the Dewey Square Group. She is a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and was communications director for the Democratic National Committee. She also is a former communications director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

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Julian Zelizer: This is no way to pick a candidate

Welcome to the world of reality political television. While it is a good thing that an unusually large number of people seemed excited to gather Around their television sets and computer screens to watch Thursday night’s Republican debate, and the earlier “happy hour” debate, the importance of these contests is not a good sign for American democracy.

For sure, we were able to see whether candidates had the capacity to throw a good punch and deliver a catchy a quip. In the early debate, Carly Fiorina delivered some good lines about Donald Trump (“I didn’t get a call from Bill Clinton”) as well as Jeb Bush (“it is foolish to say that women’s health isn’t a priority”). And later, the top 10 candidates rose to the occasion as well, with lines that are sure to make the rounds on YouTube. Donald Trump delivered one about Rosie O’Donnell and political correctness that generated some excitement, while Jeb Bush demonstrated his wonkish qualities, though he certainly didn’t do enough to excite worried supporters. Rand Paul and Chris Christie had a heated interaction about government surveillance that showed both still have things to say.

Simply by taking up so much time, Donald Trump comes out of this debate continuing to be the center of attention, and all of the other candidates trying to take on Bush will feel frustrated in that they will probably have to continue to deal with Trump for more time to come.

But does all this tell us much about how any of these candidates would do as president? Ultimately, this is what voters need to know. At best, though, we get to judge how they will perform in the already stilted atmosphere of general election debates. That’s about it.

The debates have already skewed the decision process by creating two tiers of candidates based on national polls. And the format of the debate itself offered no time for substantive answers. The incentives in the debates are all for body language and making punchy statements. To be sure, there were some useful moments as the candidates talked about immigration, surveillance and other big issues of the day. But the benefits are limited.

Unfortunately, these debates have become the way we measure the people who are running — opinions are formed, buzz is generated, predictions are made, all on the basis of a stilted event that resembles prime time talent shows like “American Idol.” In fact, we are only a step away from having people call into a national number to vote off the candidate they like least. It’s no wonder than Donald Trump, the former star of The Apprentice, looked so comfortable on the stage and drew much of the attention.

Who was the biggest loser? American democracy. This is no way to pick who will run for president. Democracy deserves a more serious conversation.

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow. He is the author of “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society” and co-editor of a new book, “Medicare and Medicaid at 50: America’s Entitlement Programs in the Age of Affordable Care.”

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Tom Rogan: Fiorina Thursday’s star

Carly Fiorina won the first debate. Easily. Implicitly criticizing Donald Trump and explicitly criticizing Hillary Clinton, Fiorina pressed GOP voters to give her their consideration. Fiorina will see a significant poll bounce in response — she even received applause when one of her comments was replayed during the primetime debate! Fiorina’s closest competitor in that debate was Rick Perry.

In terms of the major candidates in the second debate, Marco Rubio will win favor for his statements on abortion and American exceptionalism. Jeb Bush was strongest when defending education reforms in pursuit of social mobility, but largely played it safe. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed spark by challenging Rand Paul on national security and Mike Huckabee on entitlements. Ted Cruz was quiet, but recovered with a powerful concluding statement. Ohio Gov. John Kasich was confident — thriving off his supporters in the hall. Donald Trump, meanwhile, doubled down on his populist disdain, but struggled when pushed. And Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also struggled to find his voice.

The winner? I’d say Scott Walker, with Rubio and Kasich close behind. Walker received a tough question on Wisconsin’s economy but responded confidently. He was also impressive on foreign policy — an area where he’s previously been considered weak.

Thursday’s winner: Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker

The night’s loser? Rand Paul

Carly Fiorina shines in first GOP debate

Tom Rogan writes for National Review and is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group. He tweets @TomRtweets. His homepage is www.tomroganthinks.com.

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Raul A. Reyes: Too much left unsaid

Watching the GOP debate tonight was something of a surreal experience because it offered a window into the mindset of the Republican base. This was a debate in which Donald Trump asserted that “no one was talking about immigration.” This was a debate in which 10 men, all of whom purport to be against big government, confidently discussed how they would regulate women’s bodies. This was a debate in which Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio denounced Obamacare — even though they both signed their families up for coverage.

But what was notable about this debate was what went unsaid. There was no discussion of the Voting Rights Act on its 50th anniversary. There was no discussion of U.S.-Cuba policy, Nor of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Most glaringly, for all the talk about illegal immigration, there was no discussion about what to do with the 11 million undocumented people who are already here.

One of the most potent social movements today, “Black Lives Matter,” merited exactly one question — to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The entire discussion lasted less than a minute. Ironically, a movie trailer for the upcoming “Straight Outta Compton” film addressed police brutality in communities of color more than tonight’s debate did.

The Fox hosts certainly showed no hesitation to challenge Trump. Yet, despite his thin-as-paper responses, their continued focus on him may have served to elevate his stature. Trump was his usual blustery self and did not serve up any huge drama — which might have the effect of extending the life of his candidacy.

Ultimately, the big winner of the night was John Kasich. He introduced himself to the nation as rational, reasonable and able to hold his ground in a competitive field.

The big loser was Scott Walker. As someone in the top tier of candidates, he did not seize the moment to advance his candidacy. Indeed, his statements seemed canned and he rarely exceeded his allotted time.

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and member of the USA Today board of contributors. Follow him @RaulAReyes.

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Karlyn Bowman: Debate not a plus for GOP

There was much talent on the stage tonight, but we didn’t get to hear much of it. Perhaps it was impossible with 10 candidates on the stage, perhaps it was the circus like atmosphere of the first hour, perhaps it was Donald Trump the showman, perhaps it was the Fox hosts’ desire to play gotcha journalism. Regardless, this debate was not a plus for the GOP and the party needs to rethink these cattle calls. Trump and Jeb Bush may be the front runners in the polls, but Marco Rubio and Scott Walker did well.

Most of the candidates had at least one good line or an engaging back and forth with another candidate. Ben Carson had a terrific closing statement. I doubt this debate changed much. Trump is still a wild card, but I doubt the other candidates’ standing in the polls will change much.

Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute where she studies public opinion.

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(CNN)Every time we land in a presidential election year, there is always a big prize the candidates try to lure: women.

also by Gloria Borger

It’s always fun to be courted as part of the gender gap. That’s when the pols start to talk about family, health care, education and security. We hear about so-called women’s issues nonstop. We see candidates’ wives tell us their husbands are really human, loving and fab dads. Translation: If we love them, you can too.

Why all the fuss? Because at some point in the last few decades, campaigns figured out that women vote in higher numbers — and not necessarily like the men in their lives. Sometimes, yes. But not always, not by any means. In fact, the influence can often go the other way. What’s more, women are no monolith: Mitt Romney won with married women in 2012 by 7 points, for instance. Yet Barack Obama won with women overall by 11 points. In order to win this time, a GOP candidate has to do better.

Enter Donald Trump. He just loves women. At least that’s what he tells us. And women, of course, just love him. Not quite sure what the evidence is there, except for Trump’s involvement with Miss Universe or his declaration in one of his books that “I love women.”

Well, not so much with debate moderator Megyn Kelly, it seems, after she asked Trump about his assorted rants against women he clearly doesn’t love as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” His answer was an effort to cleverly deflect with some rhetoric about how neither he nor the country has time to be “politically correct.” Even if that’s true, how does the ever-so-busy Trump have the time to constantly tweet his insults? Seems like he has a lot of time to be politically incorrect.

In a final coup de grace, Trump went after Kelly, allowing as to how he had been “nice to” her (for which she should be grateful, I presume?), but then theorized that maybe he ought not to be. Whoa. An untweeted threat? The real, live audience booed. He tried to back off from the bluster, but there it was.

Oh, and by the way, no candidate stepped up debate night to agree that Trump’s insults about women were offensive. Maybe it was the rules that kept them silent? Or maybe it was that Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the GOP field, had been offstage, relegated to the first (I-didn’t-have-enough-support-to-make-it into-the-big-boy) debate?

By Friday morning, Trump’s official account retweeted a tweet that referred to Kelly — an accomplished anchor, lawyer and mother — as a “bimbo.” Awfully presidential, wouldn’t you say?

So here’s where we are: Clearly, Republicans know they need more women to vote for them if they are going to win the presidency. Second obvious point: With Hillary Clinton running for president, the gender gap could turn into a gender wave. And not just because Clinton is a woman — women don’t automatically vote for women (see: Hillary Clinton, circa 2008 campaign) — but because Republicans, at least so far, have made a mess of it.

It’s not that it’s a premeditated “war on women” as the Democratic Party apparatus likes to dub it; it’s more of a head-scratching, did-you-just-say-that process of flubs that slowly seeps into the ether. Jeb Bush stepped in it when he said, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” Or that, while most Republicans oppose same-sex marriage, 58% of women support it. And in the last campaign, for instance, Republicans found themselves debating the issue of birth control, on the defensive after Senate candidate Todd Aiken spoke of “legitimate rape” and cringed in pain when Romney bragged he had “binders full of women” to choose from for potential statehouse jobs.

After 2012, Republicans even decided to hold seminars for GOP candidates about how to talk to women. Guess they left Trump off the list.

Generally, authenticity in politics is a great thing. We don’t see enough of it, to be sure. But that doesn’t mean that when you see it, you automatically have to like it. And in Trump’s case, count women as skeptical. A recent CBS News poll of registered voters shows that 62% of women have an unfavorable view of Trump. Among Republican women, he does somewhat better, but he’s still underwater: 42% have an unfavorable view of him; 38% like him.

In Trump’s book “The Art of the Comeback,” he waxes on about les girls: “There’s nothing I love more than women, but they are really a lot different than portrayed. They are far worse than men, far more aggressive, and boy, can they be smart. Let’s give credit where credit is due, and let’s salute women for their tremendous power, which most men are afraid to admit they have.”

If Trump says it, then it must be true.

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Carly Fiorina shines in first GOP debate

By Mark Preston, CNN

Updated 12:50 AM ET, Fri August 7, 2015
| Video Source: CNN

(CNN)Carly Fiorina was one of the biggest winners Thursday night without even stepping on the prime-time stage.

The California businesswoman didn’t meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the marque event, but her strong performance at the 5 p.m. debate for second-tier candidates lingered throughout the evening.

She did make an appearance at the later forum — she was featured in back-to-back video clips about Iran that helped set up a question in the debate.

The first of them showed a moment from the earlier event in which one of her opponents, Rick Perry, turned to her while seeking to explain his position on the nuclear deal.

“I will tell you one thing,” Perry said, “I would a whole lot rather (have) had Carly Fiorina over there doing our negotiation than John Kerry. Maybe we would’ve gotten a deal where we didn’t give everything away.”

READ: Donald Trump roils GOP presidential debate

The compliment from the former Texas governor came about 50 minutes into the first Republican debate of the 2016 election — an acknowledgment from at least one of Fiorina’s rivals that she is a sharp, skilled negotiator.

When the final question was asked and answered in this first debate, it was clear that Fiorina stood out. Social media users and many commentators emphatically declared her the winner.

At this moment in the campaign, seven GOP candidates are fighting for relevancy, respect and their political futures. The “Republican Seven,” of which Fiorina is one, failed to make the cut for the main debate — the event that will feature Donald Trump at center stage.

For the seven lower-tier Republicans, there was no prime-time television exposure, no opportunities to compare and contrast themselves with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and no audience in the arena to watch them make the case as to why they should be the next commander-in-chief.

One of these seven Republicans needed a homerun to differentiate themselves from the other six and show why they deserve to be in the top 10 at the next debate at the Reagan Library in California.

The former Hewlett Packard CEO, who is sitting at between 1% to 2% in the national polls, did just that by demonstrating a sharp knowledge of the issues as she stood shoulder to shoulder on a stage of former and current U.S. senators and governors.
Carly Fiorina the superstar of first GOP debate?

Fiorina has an interesting story to tell and she let the viewers know that she did not begin her business career in a large corner office.

“I started as a secretary and became ultimately the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world, almost $90 billion in over 150 countries,” she said. “I know personally how extraordinary and unique this nation is.”

Does it sound familiar? A certain brash New Yorker has been dominating the political headlines of late by talking up his business acumen and how it has prepared him to be president. When asked by the moderator to explain why Trump is getting all of the attention, Fiorina was able to deliver a jab at the real estate mogul over his ties to the Clintons.

After acknowledging that Trump has hit a vein of anger in the American electorate, she pivoted and made a play for Republican primary voters. “I would just ask, what are the principles by which he will govern?” she said.

It is a question many Republicans, especially establishment Republicans, are wondering.

And for all of her talk, Fiorina is a political insider. Yet she does not carry the inside-the-Beltway stigma. On Thursday night, she deftly discussed her business accomplishments and governing philosophy while emphasizing her worldly connections and steely approach to pressing issues.

“On Day One in the Oval Office, I would make two phone calls,” she said. “The first one would be to my good friend, Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him we will stand with the State of Israel.

READ: CNN fact checks the 2016 Republican debates

“The second will be to the supreme leader of Iran. He might not take my phone call, but he would get the message, and the message is this: Until you open every nuclear and every military facility to full, open, anytime, anywhere, for real inspections, we are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.”

Fiorina ended the night by playing again to Republican primary voters looking for a candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016.

“We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring,” she said.

Clearly, Fiorina did not stumble, but it remains to be seen if her performance has caused enough GOP primary voters to reconsider her current standing in the race.

Even if they do, any budding Fiorina boomlet would have to overcome some stark realities. She needs to increase her name recognition, but she doesn’t appear to have the cash to do so. Her campaign has raised very little hard money — only $1.4 million — and her super PAC has had minimal success catching high-dollar donors.

And by flirting with invisibility in the polls, Fiorina hasn’t incurred the wrath of opposition research or had her resume thoroughly vetted. But that could soon change.

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and from the left – from the Campaign for America’s Future - www.OURFUTURE.org

AUGUST 7, 2015
RICHARD ESKOW

The GOP Debate is What Oligarchy Looks Like.
Recently five Republican presidential candidates paraded themselves before a group of mega-donors convened by the Koch brothers. Thursday’s debate was an extension of the Kochs’ beauty pageant.

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And From Senator Bernie Sanders:


He appeals to the Democrats to have a discussion on all those thigs that the Republicans left out.

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###

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


Breakthrough FFD3 outcome sets positive tone for global change

UN DESA WRITES AUGUST 3, 2015: The world marked a momentous event in international development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month, as Governments adopted a new global framework for financing sustainable development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3), held on 13-16 July in the Ethiopian capital. It establishes a strong foundation to support the implementation of future development efforts.

The Addis Ababa Conference was the first in a series of landmark events leading up to the adoption of a new development agenda and a universal agreement on climate change by the end of this year.


Turning needs into investment opportunities

“Financing needs for sustainable development are high, but the challenges are surmountable,” said UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the Conference. “The Addis Ababa Action agenda will help to turn these needs into investment opportunities.”

Addis_FFD3closing2At FFD3, governments agreed on a package of over 100 concrete measures that draw upon all sources of finance, technology, innovation, trade and data and that will support the implementation of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at a UN Summit in New York in September.

“This framework is a basis both for financing sustainable development and for developing sustainable finance,” said Mr Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and Conference Secretary-General.


Collaborating on the formation of breakthrough commitments

Through plenary meetings, round tables, bilateral meetings and almost 200 side events, the various stakeholders in international development – Governments, financial and trade institutions, civil society and business sector entities – got the opportunity to collaborate on the formation of breakthrough commitments and goals across the development spectrum.

As part of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, countries committed to a new social compact to provide social protection and essential public services for all; a global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap; an ‘LDC package’ to support the poorest countries; a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to advance to the SDGs; enhanced international tax cooperation to assist in raising resources domestically; and mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development.

“The more funding we leverage — the more strategically we invest each dollar — means more children we will educate, more patients we will treat, and more vital services we will provide,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.


Measures to lift millions out of poverty

FFD3_outcomeThroughout the week, stakeholders from developed and developing countries alike weighed in on the measures that Member States could and should take to lift millions out of poverty, ensure a sustainable future for our planet and make sure that nobody is left behind.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn acknowledged the relative success that the Millennium Development Goals — that were adopted in 2000 and will expire this year — has had within the African region.

“We are in a very different world to the one by which the MDGs were drawn up,” Desalegn said. “Much has been achieved; now, we need to build on that success. And we will need to make radical breakthroughs, too – because a business as usual approach will not take us anywhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was one of those historical breakthroughs, an agreement by stakeholders across the board setting the world on a renewed pathway to sustainability and prosperity for all.

Making Addis a turning point for development

“The target date for the realization of the SDGs may seem far and yet close, depending the perspective,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, in her address during the plenary meeting. ”What is certain is that the world has the resources and capacity to achieve every goal, We have an opportunity to make Addis Ababa a turning point in the scope and character of global framework for development cooperation. Indeed many of the measures incorporated […] are long sought after goals.”

Addis_Ethiopian_village – The weeklong gathering was attended by 24 Heads of State and Government and Deputies, and more than one hundred Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation and Deputies, as well as other high ranking Government officials from 174 countries.

Many heads of UN agencies and senior representatives of international organizations attended as well. In addition, more than 600 civil society organizations and networks and more than 400 business representatives took part in the Conference.

“This has been a historic Conference and a historic success – held on African soil, and delivering an outcome document that meets the high expectations of people around the world,” said Mr. Wu.

As the world sets sail onward to the two other events that will shape 2015 into a year of global change – the adoption of the Post 2015 development agenda in New York in September, and the United Nations Conference on climate change in Paris, in December – the international community can look back on the FFD3 Conference and the signing of the outcome document, as a first milestone to realize a sustainable future for all.


For more information:
Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Storify on FFD3
World population projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050

The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to the “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision”, launched on 29 July. “Understanding the demographic changes […], as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General.

Most of the projected increase in the world’s population can be attributed to a short list of high-fertility countries, mainly in Africa, or countries with already large populations.

During 2015-2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America (USA), Indonesia and Uganda, listed according to the size of their contribution to the total growth.
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“India expected to become the largest country in population size, surpassing China around 2022, while Nigeria could surpass the United States by 2050?


World Population Prospects 2015

Shifts in the current population rankings

China and India remain the two largest countries in the world, each with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 % of the world’s population, respectively. But by 2022, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China.

Currently, among the largest countries in the world, one is in Africa (Nigeria), five are in Asia (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan), two are in Latin America (Brazil and Mexico), one is in Northern America (USA), and one is in Europe (Russian Federation).

Of these, Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing the most rapidly. Consequently, the population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States by about 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. By 2050, six countries are expected to exceed 300 million: China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the USA.

Growing population in Africa

With the highest rate of population growth, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050.

During this period, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double, and by 2100, ten African countries are projected to have increased by at least a factor of five: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

“The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents its own set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrolment and health systems, all of which are crucial to the success of the new sustainable development agenda,” said John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division.

We believe says UN DESA – While there is always some degree of uncertainty surrounding any projection, the large number of young people in Africa, who will reach adulthood in the coming years and start having children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades.

“Understanding the demographic changes that are likely to unfold over the coming years, as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda”

Wu Hongbo
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General


Slower world population growth due to lower fertility rates

Future population growth is highly dependent on the path that future fertility will take, as relatively small changes in fertility behaviour, when projected over decades, can generate large differences in total population.

In recent years, fertility has declined in virtually all areas of the world, even in Africa where fertility levels remain the highest of any major area.


Ageing population growing rapidly

The slowdown in population growth, due to the overall reduction in fertility, causes the proportion of older persons to increase over time. Globally the number of persons aged 60 or above is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100.

A significant ageing of the population in the next several decades is projected for most regions of the world, starting with Europe where 34 % of the population is projected to be over 60 years old by 2050.
In Latin America and the Caribbean and in Asia, the population will be transformed from having 11% to 12% of people over 60 years old today to more than 25% by 2050.

Africa has the youngest age distribution of any major area, but it is also projected to age rapidly, with the population aged 60 years or over rising from 5% today to 9% by 2050.

Higher life expectancy and the contribution of the MDGs

Life expectancy at birth has increased significantly in the least developed countries in recent years. The six-year average gain in life expectancy among the poorest countries, from 56 years in 2000-2005 to 62 years in 2010-2015, is roughly double the increase recorded for the rest of the world.

While significant differences in life expectancy across major areas and income groups are projected to continue, they are expected to diminish significantly by 2045-2050.

Reducing under-five mortality, one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, has been very significant and wide-reaching in recent years.

Between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015, under-five mortality fell by more than 30% in 86 countries, of which 13 countries saw a decline of more than 50%. In the same time period, the rate decreased by more than 20% in 156 countries.

Young population creates opportunity to capture demographic dividend

Populations in many regions are still young. In Africa, children under age 15 account for 41% of the population in 2015 and young persons aged 15 to 24 account for a further 19%.

Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia, which have seen greater declines in fertility, have smaller percentages of children (26 and 24 %, respectively) and similar percentages of youth (17 and 16%, respectively). In total, these three regions are home to 1.7 billion children and 1.1 billion young persons in 2015.

These children and young people are future workers and parents, who can help to build a brighter future for their countries. Providing them with health care, education and employment opportunities, particularly in the poorest countries and groups, will be a critical focus of the new sustainable development agenda.

The 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects is the 24th round of official UN population estimates and projections that have been prepared by UN DESA’s Population Division. For more information: World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision


Youth day puts civic engagement front and center

Feature2_highres_web

Youth civic engagement, a main goal of the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth, seeks to promote young people’s effective inclusive participation at all levels in society. There has been recent increasing attention and policy and programming focus on this issue by governments, UN entities, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, youth and researchers. This is also why the International Youth Day (IYD) celebrations will put this theme center stage this year.

Since the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, young people have been progressively vocal and demonstrative of their demand and need for change. Youth-led protests and demonstrations have been largely driven by young people demanding a greater say in governance structures, employment and economic life, and societies more generally.


At the same time, with staggering youth unemployment figures, young people are being faced with the reality of leading a life with few job opportunities, increased vulnerability to poverty, and an education that does not adequately equip them for the ever changing demands of today’s labour market. Studies also show that youth participation remains limited in formal political processes and public institutions, with lower voter turnout among 18-25-year-olds.


“They [youth] are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change”

Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General

Youth participation critical for achieving new development agenda

By 2030, the target date for the new proposed sustainable development goals, the number of youth is projected to have grown by about 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.

“The world now has the largest generation of young people in history,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he addressed a high-level event on the demographic dividend and youth employment earlier this summer.

“I place great hopes in their power to shape our future. They are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” he said, also underscoring the necessity for the active involvement of youth in the global efforts to achieve sustainable development.


YouthDay campaign

UN DESA, through the Focal Point on Youth, and the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, promotes a multi-dimensional approach to addressing the challenges young people face to have a full and effective participation in their social life and in decision-making while promoting social inclusion to enable all young people to achieve their aspirations and goals.

useyourcameraThe Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the co-chairs UN DESA and UNDP, is running an online campaign in the lead up to International Youth Day on 12 August. With the overarching aim of promoting youth participation at the political and public levels, leading to young people being able to fulfill their aspirations in life and contribute to society, the campaign provides a space for youth to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities.

Throughout the campaign, young people have been asked to submit photos and/or messages illustrating how they can get involved in their societies. Selected entries will be participating in the #YouthDay competition on the UN4Youth Facebook account. The winning photo will be the entry with the most Facebook “likes” and it will be showcased at the International Youth Day event at UN headquarters. It may also be used for the World Youth Report 2015 on Youth Civic Engagement.


Celebrating International Youth Day at UN Headquarters

Taking place in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters from 10 am to 1 pm on 12 August, the IYD event is being organized by the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development and is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Portugal and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic. It will bring together young people, youth organizations, Member State representatives, civil society, and UN entities to discuss the issue of youth civic engagement in particular looking at new and emerging issues and approaches to social and political engagement in different parts of the world.

Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and high-level representatives, the event will highlight both traditional and emerging forms of civic engagement in the form of panel discussions. The first panel will bring new insights into the participation of young people in local and national political process and in the second panel, panelists will discuss the power of youth as global citizens.

The event will also highlight the upcoming 2015 World Youth Report, which will be focusing on the issue of economic, political and social participation of youth, responding to the increased concern and policy focus placed on the issue in recent years. In providing such an analysis, a strong link to youth engagement in the shaping and future implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) at both the national and global levels will be highlighted.


If you do not hold a UN grounds pass and wish to join the event, please RSVP to UN DESA.


Call for worldwide commemoration

Running until August 12, the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development #YouthDay campaign is still encouraging young people to organize events to celebrate International Youth Day.

The IYD toolkit gives some ideas on what to do to commemorate the Day. Young people and UN entities are also encouraged to send their plans to  youth at un.org, so they can be mapped on the IYD Map of Events. Efforts are needed to raise awareness about the benefits of youth civic engagement to the individual as well as to society.

For more information:

International Youth Day 2015 Send inquiries to  youth at un.org

System-Wide Action Plan on Youth Engage in the #YouthDay campaign via social media:

 www.twitter.com/UN4Youth
 www.twitter.com/UNDP4Youth
 www.facebook.com/UN4Youth

 www.Instagram.com/UN4Youth

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

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Dispatch from Iraq: the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear

by Jonathan Spyer, PJ Media
July 31, 2015
 www.meforum.org/5412/iraq-iranian…

Originally published under the title, “On the Ground in Iraq, the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear.”
Projecting the article there is shown A Shi’a militia billboard in Baghdad.

Spyer writes: In late June, I traveled to Iraq with the purpose of investigating the role being played by the Iranian-supported Shia militias in that country.

Close observation of the militias, their activities, and their links to Tehran is invaluable in understanding what is likely to happen in the Middle East following the conclusion of the nuclear agreement between the P5 + 1 powers and Tehran.

An Iranian stealth takeover of Iraq is currently under way. Tehran’s actions in Iraq lay bare the nature of Iranian regional strategy. They show that Iran has no peers at present in the promotion of a very 21st century way of war, which combines the recruitment and manipulation of sectarian loyalties; the establishment and patient sponsoring of political and paramilitary front groups; and the engagement of these groups in irregular and clandestine warfare, all in tune with an Iran-led agenda.

Power in Baghdad today is effectively held by a gathering of Shia militias.

With the conclusion of the nuclear deal, and thanks to the cash about to flow into Iranian coffers, the stage is now set for an exponential increase in the scale and effect of these activities across the region.

So what is going on in Iraq, and what may be learned from it?

Shia militias are essentially the sole force standing between ISIS and Baghdad.

Power in Baghdad today is effectively held by a gathering of Shia militias known as the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization). This initiative brings together tens of armed groups, including some very small and newly formed ones. However, its main components ought to be familiar to Americans who remember the Iraqi Shia insurgency against the U.S. in the middle of the last decade. They are: the Badr Organization, the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Kataeb Hizballah, and the Sarayat al-Salam (which is the new name for the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr).


All of these are militias of long-standing. All of them are openly pro-Iranian in nature. All of them have their own well-documented links to the Iranian government and to the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Shia militiamen are becoming a fixture of daily life in the Iraqi capital.

The Hashed al-Shaabi was founded on June 15, 2014, following a fatwa by venerated Iraqi Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani a day earlier. Sistani called for a limited jihad at a time when the forces of ISIS were juggernauting toward Baghdad. The militias came together, under the auspices of Quds Force kingpin Qassem Suleimani and his Iraqi right-hand man Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Because of the parlous performance of the Iraqi Army, the Shia militias have become in effect the sole force standing between ISIS and the Iraqi capital.

Therein lies the source of their strength. Political power grows, as another master strategist of irregular warfare taught, from the barrel of a gun. In the case of Iraq, no instrument exists in the hands of the elected government to oppose the will of the militias. The militias, meanwhile, in their political iteration, are also part of the government.

In the course of my visit, I travelled deep into Anbar Province with fighters of the Kataeb Hizballah, reaching just eight miles from Ramadi City. I also went to Baiji, the key front to the capital’s north, accompanying fighters from the Badr Corps.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq fighters operating in Baiji in June

In all areas, I observed close cooperation between the militias, the army, and the federal police. The latter are essentially under the control of the militias. Mohammed Ghabban, of Badr, is the interior minister. The Interior Ministry controls the police. Badr’s leader, Hadi al-Ameri, serves as the transport minister.

In theory, the Hashd al-Shaabi committee answers to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi. In practice, no one views the committee as playing anything other than a liaison role. The real decision-making structure for the militias’ alliance goes through Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Hadi al-Ameri, to Qassem Suleimani, and directly on to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

No one in Iraq imagines that any of these men are taking orders from Abadi, who has no armed force of his own, whose political party (Dawa) remains dominated by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his associates, and whose government is dependent on the military protection of the Shia militias and their political support. When I interviewed al-Muhandis in Baiji, he was quite open regarding the source of the militias’ strength: “We rely on capacity and capabilities provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

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

PRESS RELEASE by the UN office of “2015 TIME FOR GLOBAL ACTION FOR PEOPLE AND PLANET.”

Consensus Reached on New Sustainable Development Agenda to be adopted by World Leaders in September.

Ambitious new agenda would end poverty by 2030 and universally promote economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection

2 August, New York—The 193 Member States of the United Nations reached agreement today on the draft outcome document that will constitute the new sustainable development agenda that will be adopted this September by world leaders at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York.

Concluding a negotiating process that has spanned more than two years and has featured the unprecedented participation of civil society, countries agreed to an ambitious agenda that features 17 new sustainable development goals that aim to end poverty, promote prosperity and people’s well-being while protecting the environment by 2030.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement, saying it “encompasses a universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds an historic turning point for our world.”

“This is the People’s Agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind. It seeks to ensure peace and prosperity, and forge partnerships with people and planet at the core. The integrated, interlinked and indivisible 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the people’s goals and demonstrate the scale, universality and ambition of this new Agenda.”

Mr. Ban said the September Summit, where the new agenda will be adopted, “will chart a new era of Sustainable Development in which poverty will be eradicated, prosperity shared and the core drivers of climate change tackled.”

He added that the UN System stands ready to support the implementation of the new agenda, which builds on the successful outcome of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, and which, he said, will also contribute to achieve a meaningful agreement in the COP21 in Paris in December.

More than 150 world leaders are expected to attend the Sustainable Development Summit at the UN headquarters in New York between 25 to 27 September to formally adopt the outcome document of the new sustainable agenda.

The new sustainable development agenda builds on the success of the Millennium Development Goals, which helped more than 700 million people escape poverty. The eight Millennium Development Goals, adopted in 2000, aimed at an array of issues that included slashing poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, and access to water and sanitation by 2015.

The new sustainable development goals, and the broader sustainability agenda, go much further, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people.

The preamble of the 29-page text, “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” states, “We are resolved to free the human race within this generation from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet for the present and for future generations.” It continues, “We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.”


Rio+20 and the intergovernmental process

At the Rio+20 Conference of 2012, Member States agreed to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals, which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals have proven that goal-setting can lift millions out of poverty, improve well-being and provide vast new opportunities for better lives. It was agreed that the new goals would be global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.

The negotiations were co-facilitated by the UN Permanent Representative of Ireland, Ambassador David Donohue, and the UN Permanent Representative of Kenya, Ambassador Macharia Kamau, over two years. The inclusive and transparent consultations by Member States, with the strong engagement of civil society and other stakeholders, have served as a basis for the conclusion of the intergovernmental negotiations on the emerging universal and people-centred agenda



Core elements of the draft outcome document

The outcome document highlights poverty eradication as the overarching goal of the new development agenda and has at its core the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The emerging development agenda is unique in that it calls for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income. Member States pledge that as they embark on this collective journey, no one will be left behind. The ‘five Ps’—people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership — capture the broad scope of the agenda.

The 17 sustainable goals and 169 targets aim at tackling key systemic barriers to sustainable development such as inequality, unsustainable consumption and production patterns, inadequate infrastructure and lack of decent jobs. The environmental dimension of sustainable development is covered in the goals on oceans and marine resources and on ecosystems and biodiversity, bringing core issues into the goal and target framework.

The means of implementation outlined in the outcome document match its ambitious goals and focus on finance, technology and capacity development. In addition to a stand-alone goal on the means of implementation for the new agenda, specific means are tailored to each of the sustainable development goals.

Member States stressed that the desired transformations will require a departure from “business as usual” and that intensified international cooperation on many fronts will be required. The agenda calls for a revitalized, global partnership for sustainable development, including for multi-stakeholder partnerships. The agenda also calls for increased capacity-building and better data and statistics to measure sustainable development.

An effective follow-up and review architecture – a core element of the outcome document – will be critical to support the implementation of the new agenda. The High Level Political Forum on sustainable development, set up after the Rio+20 Conference, will serve as the apex forum for follow up and review and will thus play a central role. The General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and specialized agencies will also be engaged in reviewing progress in specific areas.

Based on the outcome document, the agenda will include a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to support the new goals, based on multi-stakeholder collaboration between Member States, civil society, business, the scientific community, and the UN system of agencies. The Mechanism, which was agreed at the Addis Conference in July, will have an inter-agency task team, a forum on science, technology and innovation, and an on-line platform for collaboration.

The successful outcome of the Addis Conference gave important positive momentum to the last stretch of negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. It is expected that the consensus reached on the outcome document will provide momentum for the negotiations on a new binding climate change treaty to culminate at the Climate Change Conference in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015.

The draft agreement can be found at sustainabledevelopment.un.org/po…

For further information, please contact Sharon Birch, UN Department of Public Information.
1 212 963-0564, e:  birchs at un.org and Francyne Harrigan, 1 917 367-5414 e:  harriganf at un.org

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We must remark that the logo of the announcement mentions 2015 in largest letters then TIME FOR ACTION in medium size letters and two of the 5 “P”s – People and Planet in barely visible small letters. Sensibly the other three “P”s that joined these negotiations – Prosperity, Peace, Partnership were left out from this logo so it does not make it obvious that this lowest common denominator is not just wishful thinking.

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

Saturday Aug. 1′st 2015

EUOBSERVER Analysis

Google has own idea of what ‘right to be forgotten’ means

By Peter Teffer The EUObserver, Brussels.

Since a landmark ruling on the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ by the Court of Justice of the European Union, Google has received requests to remove over a million website links from its search results in Europe.

Of those 1,057,561 uniform resource locators (URLs), it deleted 370,112, or 41.3 percent, Google says.

The court had ruled in May 2014 that if an internet search into an EU citizen’s name yielded results which were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”, that citizen may request the search engine to have those removed from the list of results.

For example, Google complied with a request from a Belgian whose conviction of a crime was quashed on appeal to remove an article about them. It also removed an article about a rape victim in Germany.

However, it did so only for the European versions of its search engine. That means the articles can still be found by those using google.com. This has come to the attention of the French data protection authority.

It sent Google a formal notice in June, saying “delisting must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine”.

On Thursday, the US company asked the French data watchdog to withdraw the notice. It interprets the court ruling as obliging Google only to apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ on its European versions of Google Search.

“While the ‘right to be forgotten’ may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally”, Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blog post.

However, in its ruling the EU court did not differentiate between the worldwide and national versions of the search engine.

Google, in its blogpost, also noted that the French order “is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users—currently around 97%—access a European version of Google’s search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google”.

But this statement is misleading at best. Many people don’t use a national variant of Google instead of the global one, but in addition to it.

Google.fr is indeed the most visited web domain in France, according to internet traffic pollster Alexa. But Google.com is ranked third, between Facebook.com and Youtube.com.

According estimates, Facebook has about 26 million users, and Youtube around 22 million, in France.

While calculation methods may vary, this means that Google.com is used by, roughly, between 22 and 26 million French internet users – or along the lines of between 40 and 47 percent.

The picture is similar all over Europe, where the national version of Google is the most popular website, and the international version ranks as high as number two in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, number three in Poland.

Google did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Free speech

Fleischer also argued that if the French data protection authority CNIL had its way, this would affect internet users in the rest of the world.

“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place,” he wrote.

Google warned of a risk of “serious chilling effects on the web”, noting examples of content that is illegal in one country but which is legal in others.

“Thailand criminalises some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalises some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda.””, he wrote.

But Fleischer is overstating the effect a national – or in the EU case regional – court order has on the wider development of the Internet.

In 2002, there were similar fears after a ruling in an Australian libel case against American company Dow Jones over the publication of an online article from its business magazine Barron’s. The highest Australian court decided that because the article was available in Australia, the subject could sue for defamation there.

Following the decision, the New York Times wrote in an editorial the case “could strike a devastating blow to free speech online”.

But the conclusion of authors Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu in their 2006 book “Who controls the Internet?, Illusions of a Borderless World”, that the predicted devastation has been held off, is still valid today.

Moreover, they criticised the US-centrism that is present among Internet freedom activists as much as in the rhetoric of American companies like Google.

Goldsmith and Wu wrote that “the First Amendment does not reflect universal values … and they are certainly not written into the Internet’s architecture”.

However, some of the most used websites worldwide are American, and they inherently carry some of those American values, which slightly differ from European values, where privacy is generally regarded as much more important.

Google said it disagreed with the French data protection authority “as a matter of principle”.
Principle or also profit?

But it could well be that part of the company’s motivation comes from the costs that would be involved with extending the right to be forgotten to its other domain names.

Technically, it is not impossible for Google to do it. But it may reduce the public company’s profit margin.

As Goldberg and Wu noted, “national Internet laws are no more burdensome than the scores of conflicting national laws that multinational firms typically face”. In return, companies gain access to an enormous market.

Having to adhere to different laws when providing services around the world, is part of the deal for running a global company. Even online.

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

Coming Clean – The blog of Executive Director Michael Brune, The Sierra Club.
July 23, 2015


Obama’s Arctic Error: A Bad Call on Shell


The Obama administration inched a little closer to disaster yesterday when it issued almost-but-not-quite final approval to Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer. Because Shell’s capping stack (a critical piece of emergency response equipment) is currently on its way to Portland, Oregon, aboard a damaged icebreaker that requires repairs, the oil company is allowed to drill only part way into the seafloor — stopping short of where the oil is. If and when the capping stack gets to the proposed drilling site, Shell could then reapply for permission to resume drilling the rest of the way.


Last week, I wrote about why letting Shell into the Arctic makes no sense. It’s a case of taking huge risks to get something we don’t need. In fact, not only do we not need that oil and gas — we can’t even afford to use it if we want to meet the urgent imperative to limit climate disruption.

So why has the administration allowed things to go this far? If this were a wedding with a reluctant bridegroom, we’d be listening to the minister clear his throat and gaze out over the congregation. I don’t know. Maybe, even though they know this is a bad idea, they just don’t have the guts to call it off.

But you know what? That’s the wrong analogy. What’s about to happen in the Chukchi Sea is more like a blind date than a shotgun wedding. Even if Shell manages to get its act together with its exploratory drilling this summer, it will still need approval for commercial drilling, and it will be even harder to make a case that such drilling can be done safely. Shell would also need to install hundreds of miles of pipeline, both on the seafloor and dry land. The process could take a decade or more, and every step along the way, we have opportunities to make the case that clean energy is better for our country and our planet. And the longer this drags on, the more obvious it will be that drilling in Arctic waters is an unnecessary invitation to disaster.


When Shell’s damaged ship arrives in Portland, we’ll be there. When Shell cuts corners or takes dangerous risks, we’ll be there. When this or any other administration flirts with selling more oil leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, we’ll be there, in the courts and on the streets. We’re in this for the long haul, along with the hundreds of thousands of Americans who’ve already joined the growing #ShellNo! movement. We’re in it for the Arctic, for the wildlife, for the Native Alaskans, and for the climate. And we’re in it to win.

We will not rest until President Obama cancels all drilling and future leases and protects the Arctic Ocean.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

70 years after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Are we smarter? Are we more human? That was the question!
As reported by Ms.Irith Jawetz, July 27, 2015.

An unusual event took place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at the OIIP (Austrian Institute for International Politics. In spite of the unusual high temperatures and a very feeble AC, the room was almost full. I will try to present the essence of that event.

The panel included:

- Ms.Judith Brandner, Since 1984 radio journalist and radio producer for Ö1, but also on DRS2, D-RADIO and SWR2.
- Ambassador Alexander Kmentt; Austria’s Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament. Ambassador Kmentt has received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the “2014 Arms Control Person of the Year.” Nine other worthy candidates were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their significant achievements and contributions to reducing the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons in the past year.

Ambassador Kmentt, who started his career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in 1994 and has been a leading disarmament diplomat for many years, was recognized for organizing the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Dec. 8-9, 2014 in Vienna, which drew delegations representing 158 states, the United Nations, and civil society.

- Prof. Heinz Gärtner OIIP, Professor at the University of Vienna, His research priorities include international and European security; US foreign and security policy; Theories of international politics; Developments in world politics; Arms control.

- Hakan Akbulut, Research Assistant at OIIP, Areas of Research: Nuclear proliferation,Turkish foreign and security policy .

The moderator was Fabio Polly, who has been with the Austrian Radio ORF for more than 30 years. He was head of the ORF young journalists training in 1996. Since then, in the radio’s external policy, with temporary interruptions as moderator of various information programs (among others Ö1-journals).

He spent a total of four years as a correspondent in Germany and in the US. Focus of Reporting: international security, disarmament, nuclear weapons and the Middle East; Travel to Afghanistan (Kabul) to Iraq (Baghdad), to South Africa (Johannesburg).

The main concern of all the panelists was that 70 years after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the problem of nuclear weapons has not been solved. Even the reasons for that terrible event have not been completely clear until now, and may never be fully known. Those two cities were totally destroyed, ten thousands of people killed, and the aftermath was immense. Those events emphasized how dangerous those weapons are.

In the arsenal of 9 countries there are now approximately 16,300 nuclear war-heads. Those weapons are part of a deterrent policy, which was developed during the Cold War. The objection to a notion of a world without nuclear power is strong, however there is a second notion now, which stems from a humanitarian point of view that maybe the world is better off without those weapons.

Ms. Brandner talked about her personal experience visiting universities in Japan and interviewing people who have relatives who still remember the Hiroshima & Nagasaki events and still have psychological scars from that day. One student talked about her Grandfather who lived through this nightmare and for years after could not talk about it. He then came to be interviewed, opened up and talked for two hours non stops about the horrors of that day. He spoke about the slow deaths of the people, the stifling heat and the stench, the burning corpses lying on the streets for days. The Grandfather lived to be 88 years old but carried this trauma with him all his life.

One of the topics of the debate was the notion that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. Does it really work? Is it really a deterrent? Can one rely on the fact that the leaders of those countries who possess those weapons will really only refer to them as a deterrent factor and not use them?

Ambassador Kmentt stressed the fact that human error can be the most dangerous factor in having nuclear weapons. He compared it to a pilot in a plane who, if he makes a mistake and pushes the wrong button, the plane goes down and all passengers and crew will die. If a wrong button is pushed or any button is pushed for some reason on a nuclear weapon the consequences are unimaginable. The system has too many risks.

Prof. Gärtner believes a deterrent is only effective if it is believable by both sides that the weapons would be used.
He gave a bit of an historical view on Hiroshima & Nagasaki and said that the United States always contained that it was needed to end the war. Too many U.S. soldiers have died in World War II and it looked as if the Japanese were not ready to surrender. The questions remains, would they have surrendered had they known of the existence of the nuclear bomb? That’s where the deterrent part comes in. Another version for the necessity of ending the war this way was the fear of the U.S. that Russia would march into Japan and take over. Was that reason enough to use the Atom bomb?

Touching on the Iran deal which was signed in Vienna only a few days earlier the speakers agreed that Iran should be given a chance to prove itself worthy of the confidence that the Allies have put into that deal. The Iran deal will define what is for peace and what is for war. On a questions from the audience how can one be certain that technically the weapons are not to be used for war, the answer was that one cannot be 100% sure of it, but one has to trust the Iranians to some extent.

I would like to elaborate a bit on one aspect which was mentioned a few times during the conversation. It was the fact that nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons. in total. Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), Russia and the United States have reduced their inventories but still account for more than 93% of all operational nuclear warheads. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.

A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.

In contrast to those countries, New Zealand is one small country which in 1984 barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since remained a part of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

The debate went on for a long time with no clear answer to the topic question: 70 years after: Are we smarter, are we more human? Nuclear weapons are basically only safe if used as a deterrent, but they are extremely dangerous if actually used.

Being a deterrent when two opposing sides are both nuclear armed – the certainty of a second strike becomes in effect an insurance of peace. That was the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) that lowered animosity between the two sides in the Cold War. The destruction caused in the two events in Japan – big as they were are nevertheless small compared to what, relatively, the new arms could do. The question is indeed, watching today’s ideological enemies, are they mellow enough to take the M.A.D. idea seriously? Will it always be a Head of State that has the nuclear button, or could it be that a device ends up with a group of insurgents?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

She also will propose: “Other areas of focus will be improving the efficiency of buildings and ensuring that fossil fuel production is ‘safe and responsible,’ and protecting financial markets from climate-related risks.” Will this satisfy the Stop Climate Change advocates?


Hillary Clinton Unveils Far-Reaching Climate Change Plan

Hillary Rodham Clinton at a campaign event at Iowa State University in Ames on Sunday July 26, 2015 as reported by the NYT.

DES MOINES, July 26, 2015 — Promising more than a half-billion solar panels by the end of a first term and an ambitious target of clean energy for every home in America in a decade, Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled goals on Sunday evening to reduce the threat of climate change.

She said she would continue President Obama’s sweeping plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants, and announced targets that even push beyond current goal’s for greenhouse gases.

Mr. Obama’s proposed regulations are expected to be finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in August, and the real work of making the changes — shutting down coal plans and increasing the number of renewable electricity sources — would fall to the next administration.

The Clinton campaign said the goals, set out on its website in a video, were the first of a six-plank plan to address climate change that Mrs. Clinton would continue to unveil in coming weeks and months.

Other areas of focus will be improving the efficiency of buildings, ensuring that fossil fuel production is “safe and responsible,’’ and protecting financial markets from climate-related risks.

In the video and at an earlier event, Mrs. Clinton said that critics of taking strong action, who include most of the Republican presidential candidates, were ignoring the seriousness of the threat.

“Those people on the other side, they will answer any question about climate change by saying, ‘I’m not a scientist,’’’ Mrs. Clinton said in Ames, Iowa on Sunday. “Well I’m not a scientist either. I’m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain.’’

Mrs. Clinton also promised to help any workers who lose their jobs as coal plants respond to Mr. Obama’s plan to limit carbon emissions. Appalachia, once a bastion of Democratic support, has been hostile to Mr. Obama for what officials like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, call a “war on coal.”


“I will be very clear, I want to do more to help in coal country,’’ Mrs. Clinton said at the event. She expressed gratitude to men “who mined the coal that created industrial revolution that turned on the lights that fueled the factories, who lost their lives, who were grievously injured, who developed black lung disease.’’

Mrs. Clinton’s pledge to produce “enough renewable energy to power every American home within 10 years of taking office’’ — that is, by 2027 — is even more ambitious than Mr. Obama’s plan.

The president has pledged to get the United States to produce 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 — essentially tripling renewable power from today.

Mrs. Clinton’s plan would arrive at 33 percent, said Heather Zichal, who served as Mr. Obama’s senior climate change adviser until last year.

“I think this initial statement from her is a strong signal that she’s committed to a thoughtful policy that pushes the envelope,’’ she said.

Mrs. Clinton’s rollout of a climate plan, the latest in a series of policy agendas, was in part intended to counter the threat on her left from Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who draws thunderous cheers at rallies when he calls for the immediate action on the warming climate. And unlike Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Clinton has not clearly stated whether she opposes building the Keystone XL pipeline, which has become the leading rallying cry of grass-roots environmentalists.


On Friday, Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist, said that in order to receive his backing and financial support, a candidate would have to pledge to enact an energy policy that would lead to the generation of half the nation’s electricity from renewable or zero-carbon sources by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, has already put forth such a plan.

In a statment, Mr. Steyer praised Mrs. Clinton’s proposal without offering explicit financial support. “Today, Hillary Clinton emerged as a strong leader in solving the climate crisis and ensuring our country’s economic security,” he said.

Also:
On the other side – “Strong showing for Donald Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire.”
The other contenders in the lead are Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and GW Bush’s brother Jeff Bush. No climate related proposals from any of them yet. Moving up fast is Ohio Governor John Kasich who in just 10 days moved in New Hampshire from unknown to 7%.

On the Democrats side Mrs. Clinton leads Senator Bernie Sanders in Iowa by 55 to 26; in New Hampshire by 47 to 34.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


In the Shadow of the Storm

By Rebecca Solnit, Harper’s Magazine

26 July 2015


Ten years ago this month, on the day Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, I was at Camp Casey, an informal encampment outside George W. Bush’s Crawford ranch, listening to a group of veterans talk about their opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By chance, it was also the day my first feature for Harper’s Magazine went to press, an essay about how people react in the wake of major urban disasters. It wasn’t until the following Easter that I went to New Orleans for the first of at least two dozen post-storm visits. The water had receded by then, and the houses had been searched by teams who left what became a familiar mark throughout the city: a big spray-painted x with data written in each of its four quadrants about who and what had been found inside, when they’d been found, and whether they were found alive or dead. On one boxy white two-story house on Deslonde Street, the word baghdad was also painted.


When I first visited that house, the city around it felt dead. Whether New Orleans would ever come back to life was one question. What kind of life might come back was another. Some people had fled before the hurricane hit, thinking they were only leaving for a few days. Others rode out the storm and then departed for what they knew would be an open-ended exile. Michael White, a jazz clarinetist and a professor at Xavier University, was among the former. After a few months in Houston, he came back to the wrecked, largely abandoned city that his family had called home for generations. As he told me recently, he returned to a profound loss of the past and deep uncertainty about the future. His home, near the breach of the London Avenue Canal, was almost completely submerged. The flooding destroyed a collection of musical material so rich and complex it took him several minutes to describe it: 5,000 CD recordings, 1,000 vinyl records, 4,000 books, 50 clarinets, historic photographs, sheet music, a Louis Armstrong film library, and a trove of artifacts related to early jazz greats such as Sidney Bechet.


Growing up in New Orleans, White, who is now sixty, went to school with Fats Domino’s children. Both a distinguished musician and a historian of New Orleans, he was befriended by and played with musicians born between 1890 and 1910, from whom he gathered the stories and sounds of the birth of jazz. In Houston he feared that the cultural continuity of his native city might be shattered, that New Orleans might never come back. His collection never would. And his octogenarian mother, devastated and strained by the destruction, died in exile.

People like White’s mother, of whom there were many, are not counted as part of Katrina’s death toll, but perhaps they should be. “Katrina” is less the name of a storm than it is a shorthand for a series of largely man-made catastrophes: the lack of an evacuation plan for the poorest and most vulnerable people in the city; the regularly predicted failure of the levees maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the inadequate emergency management of city, state, and federal government; and the corruption and bureaucratic delays that hindered the rebuilding process. The “Baghdad” graffiti was a reminder that the two places were devastated by the same regime — and a suggestion, perhaps, that in the wake of the storm poor black New Orleanians were often treated like enemies.

Katrina and its aftermath can seem impossibly remote. The Bush Administration was then at the height of its powers; political dissent was largely silenced in the name of patriotism while those who thought we could win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were still loud and confident. But disasters often undermine the credibility of people in power, and Katrina did a fine job of revealing the callousness and cluelessness of the administration, from the president to Michael Brown, the cheerfully unqualified head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Today, Brown is nearly as distant a memory as the image of George W. Bush as a competent centrist.

In another way, however, that time remains uncomfortably close, because it was the beginning of a series of spectacularly public episodes of American racism. As they were in Baltimore, in Ferguson, in Sanford, Florida, and in many other places recently, unarmed black people were shot by police and vigilantes in storm-soaked New Orleans. A vast population of mostly African-American New Orleanians was trapped on the rooftops and elevated freeways of a sweltering city that was 80 percent underwater and bereft of electricity and nearly all commerce and services. They were portrayed by the government and the media as too savage and dangerous to rescue or to allow to leave the city. New Orleans became a prison. The media fell back on the usual disaster tropes of looting, raping, and marauding hordes, and proved eager to demonize black people rather than see them as vulnerable victims of a catastrophe. They made news out of rumors, many of which turned out to be entirely baseless, about people shooting at helicopters from rooftops and corpses from imaginary bloodbaths piling up in the Superdome.

When I returned in February 2007, the Baghdad house looked unchanged. Its windows and doors were still missing, and there were weeds and wreckage all around. But I saw a man on a ladder working on the place. In June of that year, I found that the house had been painted a crisp white. It had a neat lawn and new windows, and the doors and staircase had been repaired. On the wall hung a banner for Common Ground Relief, an organization founded after Katrina by former Black Panther Malik Rahim and other activists. Common Ground was an improvisational organization of the sort that disasters often beget, a group that was able to respond to changing needs and local particulars better than the top-down organizations that arrived from outside. It began as a supply center in the Lower Ninth Ward, the mostly black neighborhood where the Baghdad house stands, but soon added a clinic providing medical care where none was available. It eventually expanded its mandate to gutting and rebuilding houses, coordinating and housing armies of young, radical volunteers, and providing job training.


The storm lifted up some lives and tossed others around and smashed them. Some people picked up where they left off, particularly those in the older, more affluent “sliver by the river” above the flood levels. Some found their lives taking another direction. Five years after the storm, the black population of New Orleans had fallen by more than one hundred thousand. Some who fled found good lives elsewhere; others did not but couldn’t afford to come home. There is no clear or easy story about Katrina’s consequences for New Orleans. It traumatized many of those who survived; it caused the death of nearly 2,000 people directly and many others indirectly. It also shocked a stagnant, corrupt city that was suffering a slow economic and demographic decline into reforming itself.

Naomi Klein coined the term “disaster capitalism” to describe the opportunistic way that free-market evangelists use crises to push their agenda. There was certainly some of that happening in New Orleans, where a conservative elite took advantage of the storm to convert the entire public school system to charter schools and fire all the unionized teachers, to shut down the city’s vast housing projects, and to close one of the country’s oldest public hospitals. (Neither the hospital nor the housing projects were seriously damaged by Katrina.) But Klein’s term doesn’t capture the full picture of what happens after a disaster, which is less a conquest than a conflict over who will determine the future.


The elites don’t always win. New Orleans has seen a number of progressive victories over the past decade. Exposure of the murderous corruption of the New Orleans police force resulted in a federal overhaul of the department. Alternative institutions like Common Ground still serve the needy. Katrina energized New Orleanians not just to reclaim their city but to rethink it.

The civic engagement of old-timers and newcomers alike has given the city an unprecedented dynamism, a practical democracy that’s rare elsewhere in the country. People in New Orleans always did show up: for parties and parades, for christenings and funerals, and for neighbors’ barbecues. A great many people have a deep sense of place and local history. They talk convivially with strangers and cultivate a wide set of acquaintances in the city. Now they show up in force when policy is being made and the city’s future is being charted.

Prisca Weems, an environmental scientist who has the confounding title of stormwater manager for the city, is trying to figure out how to build resilient water-diversion systems for the next century. That means engaging with climate change, coastal erosion, rising oceans, and the ways that the city’s storm water and groundwater have been mismanaged since the late 1800s
.

For more than a century, New Orleans had been at war with the water that surrounds it. The groundwater that remained in its marshy center was pumped out, deepening a below-sea-level basin that rainstorms and breached canals filled all too easily. At the same time, the city had pulled water in to ease shipping — notably through the Industrial Canal, which cut the Lower Ninth Ward off from the rest of the city and flooded that neighborhood during Katrina, and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, nicknamed the Hurricane Highway, which gave cargo ships and storm surges from the Gulf a shortcut to the city. The outlet also allowed salt water to reach the swamp cypresses that had served as surge buffers; their skeletal white stumps still stand on the far side of the levees at the north end of the Lower Ninth Ward. The Hurricane Highway was shut down in 2007, and a system of barriers has been built to replace it. Just as China built walls to keep out human invaders, so New Orleans now has its own great wall to keep out the water, what Weems calls a “one-hundred-thirty-three-mile perimeter-defense system, with levees, flood walls, pump stations, and gated structures.”

Weems told me that New Orleans is now hoping to take advantage of water in the city instead of being forever at war with it. Large numbers of New Orleanians routinely talk about subjects like hydrological management and study maps of potential transformation. It’s the rare urban area in which many citizens have become avid urbanists. Weems praised the city’s populist approach to recovery. “We had the downside of taking longer to recover,” she said, “but the upside was citizen engagement in planning processes, in discussing the future not only in the city but in specific neighborhoods. The government is accountable to the citizens of this city in a way it wasn’t before. We have worked hard to shape the future.” Post-Katrina New Orleans, she added, “was like a viral laboratory.

I’m not sure when the new houses started going up around the Baghdad house. In 2008, the place stood alone. By June 2010, a bright-pink house on stilts stood next door. It, too, had a Common Ground banner on its balcony. Lately, dozens of colorful new houses have gone up nearby. (They’re known locally as Brad Pitt houses, after the founder of the Make It Right foundation, the nonprofit that built them.) These houses are architecturally adventurous and ecologically sound, with solar panels above and stilts below that are built to ride out the next flood. There is a new energy in the city, albeit one that leaves some people out — it has raised housing prices, hurting those who’ve been left behind in the new economy. The Make It Right houses were subsidized for returning residents of the Lower Ninth; many others displaced by the storm could not find their way through the bureaucracy that was supposed to help pay for rebuilding or find funds to reclaim their homes. The neighborhood now includes a hundred pink, orange, green, blue, and yellow Make It Right homes, as well as a lot of green space where houses used to be tightly packed. It’s become a de facto wildlife refuge, thanks to the unpopulated landscape and its position near the bayous on the edge of town.

In 2007, I interviewed an older woman from the Holy Cross neighborhood in the Lower Ninth. She was one of the losers in Katrina’s reshuffle. Her house was swamped in several feet of water, her family was scattered, and her job as a high-school teacher had been eliminated. At the time, she was fiercely determined to rebuild her home and to reclaim her life, but wading through the bureaucracy and living in a ruined neighborhood had worn on her. She still lives in her house, but when I asked her recently about the past eight years, she said, “Oh, honey, I don’t want to talk about all that, about the devastation. I want all that behind me.”

After Michael White came back, he oversaw the gutting, cleaning, and restoring of his house, but he found he could not live there. He had nightmares about water, and about friends who’d drowned nearby. “Some people are back to where they were before, or better,” he told me. “Some are not quite back yet. I bought a house four years ago, but I’m not quite back yet, and I’m trying like hell to get back. In the next year or two I’ll be able to get to a state of normalcy, though I realize things will never be the same.” New Orleans is in transition, he said, and it is still impossible to know how the changes will affect the social clubs, brass bands, jazz funerals, and second lines of the city. White is still teaching and playing music in New Orleans and on the road, and he is still a conduit between the old world of the early twentieth century and the present. But he lost something.

Disasters begin suddenly; they never exactly end. You might be cured of your cancer, but you can never again be the person who never had cancer. New Orleans on August 28, 2005, was a city in many kinds of trouble. The fallout from the storm prompted soul-searching, transformation, and reform. Many things have been gained in the years since, but only after so much was lost. And so many. The city is in the process of becoming another place, and the answer to whether that’s a good or a bad thing will always be — both. There’s a garden across the street from the Baghdad house; it’s green and Edenic, but it’s also where several people had homes before they got swept away.

for comments go to:  readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 26th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Turkey Uses ISIS as Excuse to Attack Kurds

by Uzay Bulut • July 26, 2015


It appears as if the Turkish government is using ISIS as a pretext to attack the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

Turkey just announced that its air base at Incirlik will soon be open to coalition forces, presumably to fight ISIS. But the moment Turkey started bombing, it targeted Kurdish positions in Iraq, in addition to targeting ISIS positions in Syria.

In Turkey, millions of indigenous Kurds are continually terrorized and murdered, but ISIS terrorists can freely travel and use official border crossings to go to Syria and return to Turkey; they are even treated at Turkish hospitals.

If this is how the states that rule over Kurds treat them, why is there even any question as to whether the Kurds should have their own self-government?

Turkey’s government seems to be waging a new war against the Kurds, now struggling to get an internationally recognized political status in Syrian Kurdistan.

On July 24, Turkish media sources reported that Turkish jet fighters bombed Kurdish PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) bases in Qandil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

Turkey is evidently unsettled by the rapprochement the PKK seems to be establishing with the U.S. and Europe. Possibly alarmed by the PKK’s victories against ISIS, as well as its strengthening international standing, Ankara, in addition to targeting ISIS positions in Syria, has been bombing the PKK positions in the Qandil mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the PKK headquarters are located.

There is no ISIS in Qandil.

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


How China Can Help Lead a Global Transition to Clean Energy

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank focused on international governance. CIGI’s research programs focus on: global economy, global security & politics and international law. Founded in 2001, CIGI collaborates with several research affiliates and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of funding partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

CIGI IS BASED AT — 67 Erb Street West, Waterloo, ON Canada N2L 6C2
TEL: 1.519.885.2444 | FAX: 1.519.885.5450

The following ideas are from their release in:
Fixing Climate Governance Policy Brief No. 6
Series: Fixing Climate Governance Series
by: Alvin Lin, Luan Dong, and Yang Fuqiang
Published: July 22, 2015

China’s coal consumption fell marginally in 2014, the first such drop this century, in large part as a result of its policies to address its severe air pollution, develop renewable and alternative energy, and transition its economy away from heavy industry. China should take advantage of its current circumstances to adopt an aggressive national coal consumption cap target and policy to peak its coal consumption as soon as possible, no later than its next Five Year Plan (2016–2020), so that it can then peak its CO2 emissions by 2025. It can achieve this target by building upon its existing achievements in developing clean energy such as wind and solar power, where it leads the world in manufacturing and installation, and focusing on improving integration of renewable energy and scaling technologies such as energy storage, electric vehicles and smart grids. China should also prioritize renewable energy development over coal in its western expansion in order to avoid making large investments in stranded assets, and should price carbon high enough to direct investment toward clean energy. By doing so, China can help lead a transition to clean energy that will contribute greatly to global efforts to keep warming to no more than 2°C, and can serve as a model for other developing countries.

Building upon domestic actions, China should work with other key players, including the Group of Twenty (G20), to advance the international climate agenda. China should also ensure that the newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) prioritizes clean energy development for developing countries and does not fund coal mining or coal power projects, so that other countries can leapfrog the environmental pollution that China is now seeking to remedy.

This timely new Policy Brief, titled How China Can Help Lead a Global Transition to Clean Energy by Alvin Lin, Luan Dong and Yang Fuqiang has been published by the project Fixing Climate Governance, based at the CIGI.

China’s coal consumption in 2014 fell by 2.9 percent, the first such drop this century, in large part as a result of its policies to address its severe air pollution, develop renewable and alternative energy, and transition its economy away from heavy industry.

The key points of this new report are:

· China should take advantage of its current circumstances to adopt an aggressive national coal consumption cap target and policy to peak its coal consumption as soon as possible, no later than its next Five Year Plan (2016–2020), so that it can then peak its CO2 emissions by 2025.

· The country can achieve this target by building upon its existing achievements in developing clean energy, such as wind and solar power, and focusing on improving integration of renewable energy and scaling technologies such as energy storage, electric vehicles and smart grids.

· It should also prioritize renewable energy development over coal in its western expansion in order to avoid making large investments in stranded assets, and should price carbon high enough to direct investment toward clean energy. By doing so, China can help lead a transition to clean energy that will contribute greatly to global efforts to keep warming to no more than 2°C, and can serve as a model for other developing countries.

· China should work with other key players, including the G20, to advance the international climate agenda. It should push for agreements to phase down fossil fuel subsidies and consumption of super-greenhouse gas (GHG) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in refrigeration, air conditioning and industry.

· It should phase down its own fossil fuel subsidies, including by increasing the pricing of coal to reflect its true environmental costs, and support a phasedown of HFCs domestically, in conjunction with the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund.

· The country should also ensure that the newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) prioritizes clean energy development for developing countries and does not fund coal mining or coal power projects, so that other countries can leapfrog the environmental pollution that China is now seeking to remedy.

For the Brief click at –  www.cigionline.org/publications/…

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