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Tue Nov 12th, 2013 at 05:06:11 AM EST
The European Green Party is organizing a primary for the two posts of leaders of the cross-Europe campaign for the European Parliament elections next year. (Twitter hashtag #GreenPrimary).
Greens select four candidates to run in primaries ahead of 2014 elections | EurActiv
Four Green MEPs [in fact 3 MEPs and one ex-MEP - note by afew] are entering the race for two top positions in the EU elections campaign ahead of the vote in May 2014.
On Thursday (7 November), the European Green Party (EGP) announced the four contenders who will take part in the primaries: French MEP and syndicalist José Bové; Italian MEP and co-chair of the European Green Party Monica Frassoni; German MEP and co-chair of the political group in the European Parliament Rebecca Harms; and German MEP Ska Keller.
Bové is arguably the most well-known among the contenders, but all contenders have a strong support in their home countries, party sources said. Ska Keller carries the nomination of the Federation of Young European Greens and has a profile that appeals to young participants in the online vote.
The candidates had to seek a nomination from a member organisation of the European Greens, as well as support of at least four member parties, to participate in the upcoming online vote. Frassoni got the support of five member parties, Harms and Keller from seven and José Bové secured the highest support with eight endorsements. [For lists of supporting parties, go here - afew].
The EGP requires the two candidates to come from different national member parties. This rules out having Rebecca Harms and Ska Keller runing as a tandem. Although the Greens traditionally have a man and a woman sharing lead positions, this is not a requirement, and the duo to lead the campaign could very well be two women.
What's this about?
|Harms, Bové, Frassoni, Keller|
The Greens ran the first cross-EU campaign for the EP elections in 2009, and will do so again, with the added attraction of this primary open to all sympathisers. This is also a step towards designating their candidate for Commission President. On this point see:
EUobserver.com / Political Affairs / EU Greens launch US-style primary elections
European parties hope to reverse this trend with trans-national campaigns and lead candidates who run for the top post at the European Commission, a novelty introduced by the Lisbon treaty.
But EU leaders recently poured cold water on hopes that the top candidate of the most popular party will automatically land the commission job.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she "sees no automaticity" between the election results and the post.
For his part, EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy warned against parties raising "false expectations."
Don't forget, the only "automaticity" is that Germany decides.
Should that make you want to go crazy and vote in this primary, the place to go is GreenPrimary. There's a FAQ here. You'll need to give an e-mail address and a mobile phone number, and check a box that says you sympathise with the values of the Greens.
by madeleine kando
Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 07:41:49 PM EST
In an article in the Guardian of June 5th, Jonathan Haidt gives an alternative answer to the question 'Why Do Working Class People Vote Conservative?'. According to Haidt, the generally accepted `duping hypothesis', which says that the Republican party has duped working class people into voting for them by putting the focus on cultural and moral issues rather than on economic issues, is not the real reason.
He points out that voting on a national level is more about a moral vision than about specific policies. That is true, but out of that moral vision flow the policies that a country adopts, so the usefulness of that statement is a bit doubtful.
Haidt goes on to say that most Americans don't want to live in a nation based primarily on caring. That's what families are for. Really? How can a family care for its children if the society doesn't provide specific policies that allow it to do so? If you cannot afford health insurance, you are pretty much up shit creek, no matter how much you care about your children.
Politics on a national level 'Is more about a moral vision that unifies a nation and calls it to greatness than it is about self-interest or specific policies. In most countries, the right tends to see that more clearly than the left.' That's it? No explanation, no facts to back up the statement? What about all those (left leaning) countries in Europe that have created the European Union? Is that not the ultimate vision of unification, not just for one nation, but many?
Haidt, in this article and elsewhere, compares the moral mind as being like the tongue, an organ that is sensitive to a variety of moral flavors. He identifies six moral flavors: care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation.
The first three, care, fairness and liberty are equally important to both conservatives and democrats. But on loyalty, authority and sanctity, Conservatives have a hands up, says Haidt. The immediate question that comes to mind is: loyalty to whom? As societies become more enlightened, the group to which loyalty is given expands. We are moving away from the tribal. Loyalty to a clan is no longer required or desirable. And is loyalty truly a basic ingredient of the moral cuisine, or is it more like an artificial flavor?
On the subject of authority, I would think that placing exceptional value in authority is not always a good thing. In fact, I might want to replace that ingredient on the moral palette with `freedom of thought' or `critical thinking'.
Sanctity/degradation: I agree that certain things are sacred, but they have acquired their sanctity status because they were considered true. So I would replace the sanctity flavor with the 'truth' flavor. Truth is far more morally valuable than sanctity, and much less prone to subjective interpretation. Sanctity is so intertwined with culture, whereas truth has the advantage of being cross-cultural.
Morality's ultimate purpose, if it's the right kind of morality, is to increase human well-being. If in-group loyalty, respect for authority and purity/sanctity fulfills that purpose, then they are legitimate candidates for the moral palette. If they don't, they should fall by the wayside.
Besides, who says that Haidt's analysis is correct? It is possible that fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity are simply facets of a more general concern for harm/care (See Richard Harris' article 'A Response to Jonathan Haidt'). In that sense, if a conservative finds it very important to not blaspheme, is it truly because he finds it immoral or because he doesn't want to go to hell and be harmed?
In conclusion, if the working class is not duped by the Conservatives into voting against their own interest, then they are voting against it because of a misguided sense of morality. When a society moves away from allowing the majority of its citizens to fulfill their `capabilities', as Martha Nussbaum calls it, by removing social safety nets and allowing extreme inequality between rich and poor, then the morality of that society is misguided and should be revisited. I disagree with Haidt and believe that Democrats have a stronger sense of morality. That is why I am a Democrat.
by Crazy Horse
Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 03:27:23 PM EST
Is it possible for today's busy humans to grok the catastrophe they're creating. I don't mean the fact that we barely have democratic governments any more, much less trustworthy or even visionary leaders. I don't mean neo-feudalism at the hands of global banks. I mean the real problems.
This March, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of the United States Pacific Command, told security and foreign policy specialists in Cambridge, Mass., that global climate change was the greatest threat the United States faced -- more dangerous than terrorism, Chinese hackers and North Korean nuclear missiles. Upheaval from increased temperatures, rising seas and radical destabilization "is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen..." he said, "that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.''
Locklear's not alone. Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, said much the same thing in April, speaking to an audience at Columbia's new Center on Global Energy Policy. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate in March that "Extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, and vandalism."
Sat Nov 9th, 2013 at 04:24:59 AM EST
For unlimited snooping on Internet communication, the Dutch governement have ordered Israeli systems as reported today. With the intent to start in 2014, this would be illegal today, so lawmakers are urged to make minor changes to the law. An investigative journalist of De Volkskrant joined technical website Tweakers to file this report. I am taking the article at face value.
Data Hunger: Dutch Intelligence Wants to Know All
The project called Argo II is intended to 'process data communication to intelligence' in 2014 in a note written by Interior Minister Plasterk this summer to the House of Parliament . The new equipment will be used by both domestic and military security service AIVD and MIVD. A description of the Department of Defense that Argo II is primarily intended to cover 'the world of the Internet' - where the services can not reach in present day.
The system will probably be built by the Israeli Nice Systems, specializing in surveillance and interception software. This company, which according to U.S. intelligence expert James Bamford has its roots in the Mossad, was one of two companies who enrolled in a public tender. The other candidate, Accenture, has told weekly Vrij Nederland it did not get the contract. The Ministry of Defence does not provide information about the tender.
The technology website Tweakers describes some systems of Nice Systems, such as Nice Track Mass Detection Center and Nice Track Pattern Analyzer, which is able to intercept data on a national level, monitor, analyze and store it with an automatic alert you for suspicious patterns.
Continued below the fold ...
Fri Nov 8th, 2013 at 01:36:13 PM EST
[Update] See comment below - No Nuclear Deal As France Self Interest Prevails.
○ France24: No deal after France objected to a proposed agreement
○ RT: France stalls deal on Iran nuclear program, talks to resume shortly
○ YnetNews: Is France touting Netanyahu's tough stance of no enrichment?
Cracking the toughest of issues, the foreign ministers of the 5+1 nations are converging on Geneva for a possible break-through in the Iranian nuclear talks. Secretary Kerry abruptly broke-off his Mid-East tour and is on the plane towards Geneva. Same for France's Fabius, UK's Hague, Germany's Westerwelle, EU's Ashton and Russia's Lavrov. In Jerusalem, dark clouds and thunder from the Prime Minister's Office predicting doom and perdition if a nuclear deal is reached.
Mounting Temsions: Netanyahu rejects nuclear deal with Iran
(Ynet News) - Tensions reach boiling point: PM briefly meets Kerry before latter heads to Geneva; says Israel 'not obliged' to agreement between Tehran world powers, adds 'Iranians got everything and paid nothing.
Israel utterly rejects a mooted world powers deal with Iran aimed at ending a long-running row over its nuclear ambitions and will not be bound by such an accord, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday. Speaking as headed into a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu told reporters that Iran had got "the deal of the century".
"Israel utterly rejects it and what I am saying is shared by many in the region, whether or not they express that publicly. Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people."
Netanyahu was meeting Kerry for the third time in barely 48 hours. The US secretary of state was due to fly immediately afterwards to Geneva where Iran and six world powers are holding negotiations.
Below the fold, a working relationship between Kerry and Lavrov.
by Crazy Horse
Mon Nov 4th, 2013 at 12:32:46 PM EST
We're seeing a new propaganda push from the nuclear advocates worldwide. Fitting nicely with both the strong attack against renewables, and the push for austerity. Almost pathetic in the professionalism of triviality, even laughable, except of course it's working.
But of course there's also this issue about Fukushima itself: how can anyone be promoting nuclear power when we've got that plant leaking radiation all over the place? Well, as I've pointed out not entirely seriously here the radiation leakage from Fukushima is of the order of the amount of radiation that humans get from eating bananas. We don't get very excited about the risks of eating bananas so we probably shouldn't get all that excited about the risks from Fukushima. Absolutely certainly there's no risk to anyone at all outside the plant itself: all these stories of the Pacific Ocean turning into a radioactive wasteland that will kill us all are just that, stories. And remarkably ill informed ones as well.
Wed Nov 6th, 2013 at 02:11:40 PM EST
Article here by Neil Clark looks at Viktor Orban's approach to nationalisation and public ownership.
In this country, the government has imposed a cut of over 20% in energy bills - a 10% reduction came into force in January, a further 11.1% cut will be implemented in November. It is also drafting a bill that would ban utility companies from paying dividends to shareholders. The aim of the government is to return natural monopolies to the public sector, to operate on a non-profit basis. "We must once and for all bring an end to the era where energy providers can ride roughshod over people," the country's leader declared.
Fidesz contends that there were 15 price increases in gas bills during the period 2002-10, when they were in opposition, and that urgent action was essential to ensure cheaper energy bills for households and businesses. Hungarian politicians have sneered at Orbán's populist stance on energy, but the government's policies have brought relief to ordinary people and made everyday life more bearable in a country where around 20% of the household budget was going on gas bills.
There is also the recent renationalisation of Dunaferr, a steel plant in the industrial city of Dunaujvaros and the renationalisation of the river freight company.
So what does all this mean?
Firstly, it should emphasise that Fidesz have identified the actual centre of politics in Hungary - that most people are responsive to forms of social democracy - and that Fidesz needs at least some of the working class to turn out for them next year.
Secondly, it would be wrong to equate nationalisation with socialisation: if Fidesz are going for 100% state capture, we'd expect them to nationalise more things. Creating a not-for-profit company doesn't mean that certain favoured individuals won't stand to gain in the form of large salaries and sinecures.
Thirdly, and this is perhaps harder to stomach, by doing this, Fidesz are strategically encircling and outmaneuvering the mainstream left in what is, frankly, a bit of a genius move. When combined with their increasingly invasive use of public media, Fidesz are obviously aiming for the jugular.
Interested what people think.
Fri Nov 1st, 2013 at 05:21:59 AM EST
This week eurogreen started a thread about spaceflight and the discussion quickly took an interestellar turn. Naturally, relativistic spaceflight made an appearance along with the usual misconceptions and misunderstood heuristics. Special relativity is obviously unintuitive, and unfortunately there is no substitute for a little linear algebra if one wants a reality check for one's heuristics.
Here I will describe the main features of the simple-minded interstellar flight strategy of accelerating at the rate \(1g\) of Earth's gravity for the first half of the trip and decelerating for the second half.
No, this is not a picture of a relativistic spacecraft with a van-Allen-like cosmic ray shield
Thu Oct 31st, 2013 at 03:47:41 PM EST
Here are my rough notes (slightly polished) from three recent events I attended at Tufts, MIT, and online. My comments are within [brackets].
Energizing Sustainable Cities: Findings from the Global Energy Assessment
with Arnulf Grubler, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and Yale University
Thursday, October 24, 2013
(a light lunch will be served - no RSVP, first-come first-served)
[university lectures are often a violation of the second law of thermodynamics, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" or TANSTAAFL by offering free lunches]
Tufts, Cabot 703, The Fletcher School, 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA
Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy
Book of the same title as the talk, Energizing Sustainable Cities
New report includes a chapter on urban energy assessments, chapter 18 (http://www.globalenergyassessment.org). No business as usual scenario.
3/4 of all final energy is urban
World rural population likely to peak at 3.5 billion and decline after 2020
Cities are 0.2- 2.7% of world landmass
96% Internet routers are urban
Small cities, less than 100,000 population, are where most people live and are not studied enough [neighborhood and village scale]
City dwellers have lower energy and carbon footprints
Lack urban energy and carbon accounting for embodied energy, import/export balance
Annex 1 [industrialized] cities are generally lower than average per capita energy use but cities in Annex 2 countries approach Annex 1 levels of consumption while paying a higher relative price.
Most of the urban energy flow is in embodied energy, goods and services
City density enables demand/supply management and calls for low waste/zero impact systems - density demands zero emissions or zero impact - high levels of pollution happening in high population density areas is not good
Vienna which has had municipal utilities and services for a hundred years. In first law analysis, it is 50% efficient and with second law analysis it is 83% exegetic, has the ability to do useful work. You can increase energy efficiency by a factor of five without violating physical laws. [Raiffeisen Bank building in Vienna, 21 stories, 20,000-square-metre building or 65,000 sq ft, PassivHaus standard]
Vast improvement possibilities but they require integration and management of the urban form and systemic change
The largest leverage from systemic change but requires overcoming fragmentation (zero emissions as an approachable goal, statistical quality control)
Focus on the midpoints: efficiency of end use in buildings, processes, vehicles, appliances; land use; urban form (transportation, housing)
Syncity simulations work on these midpoints [Synthetic city simulations scaling up to world (peace) games as MOOs]
Q: Cambridge is planning on becoming a zero net emissions city. Any suggestions?
Partner with similar scale cities in becoming a zero emissions city to discover useful commonalities
1 Bryant Place in NYC claims to be the most efficient building of 51 stories [http://www.durst.org/properties/one-bryant-park]
Biggest district heating grid in the world is ConEd in Manhattan
Zero emissions at point of consumption - electricity and hydrogen. Hydrogen introduced on the model of town gas or natural gas infrastructure [natural gas/methane is not going away]
Exergy as optionality, the higher the exergy the more possibilities
Switzerland as a model of microgrids based on civil defense CT's microgrid program:
In developing world, concentrate first on squatter settlements bare minimum to bare maximum, solar swadeshi:
by Ted Welch
Tue Oct 29th, 2013 at 03:59:59 PM EST
I became interested in chess again when, over a year ago, I came across current chess prodigy, Magnus Carlsen. As with my diary about climbing it was chance on the internet which led me back to chess. I thought it sad that, despite watching lots of news, and given his incredible talent, I hadn't heard of him before. Here was a young guy, described by some as "the Mozart of chess", who'd been displaying amazing talent for years, and I'd seen nothing about him. Now, at only 22, he's about to try for the World Championship:
Mon Oct 28th, 2013 at 01:09:51 AM EST
The UK at the heart of a renewed globalisation
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England gave a speech linked above at an event to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Financial Times, London, 24 October 2013. Perry Mehrling posted that speech and a Bloomberg article (see below) about the Federal Reserve's proposal on his Money and Banking discussion forum, asking for discussion. My response is below:
It seems like both the Fed and the BoE are planing to significantly increase capital reserves well ahead of current Basel III deadlines. This will put pressure on the EMU banks and on European national central banks that have been resisting such increases, as they are far below even the current US and UK reserve requirements. Paris and Berlin will likely complain, with some justification, that they have different systems and should not be held to the same requirements. What will Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and Ireland do and how can they comply? The periphery has trouble complying with the current requirements and the ECB is hamstrung by Germany when it comes to helping them and is not a true central bank to begin with. Nor is there a real EMU wide fiscal authority.
Mark Carney of the BoE made by far the most significant and revealing claims. In effect, he proposes to make the BoE the dealer of last resort for banks and market makers operating in the UK, very much like what Perry Mehrling has proposed and described, in this case with unlimited support in British pounds and significant standing swap agreements with other foreign central banks for other major currencies, including soon the Chinese Renminbi. To me the clear implication is that such backstop would be provided to UK domiciled branches of foreign banks, perhaps via the BoE discount window, but it is hard enough to parse Fed statements, let alone BoE statements.
To me the revealing part consisted of the following:
"And in times of actual or prospective stressed conditions we stand ready to provide cheap, plentiful money through more frequent auctions."
"Cheap, plentiful money" seems a large step beyond Bagehot's "Lend freely at a high rate against good collateral." It sounds like in times of stress there will be QE for the world. Of course the current overnight rate from the BoE is 0.5%, so the "cheap" money commitment seems more like forward guidance. To me this indicates that the BoE are still flummoxed at their inability to increase economic activity through the monetary policies available to the central bank, and, of course, they are saddled with the gratuitous 'austerity' program of the current Tory/LibDem Coalition. Given the dependence of the British economy on the financial sector the prospect of the global economy slipping into deflation must surely terrify the BoE, if not George Osborne. David Cameron might not know enough to be terrified.
It will be interesting to see how the proposed policy for resolving failed international banks will develop. That has to be the most difficult part of all. The other shoe to drop will be how the implicit extension of regulation by the BoE to non-Bank market makers unfolds. Will this require action by Parliament and will such action be forthcoming?
Criticisms and additional thoughts are appreciated.
Sun Oct 27th, 2013 at 07:04:03 PM EST
This caught my eye and immediately made me want to run it by the resident ET BS-busters for a comb-through.
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Oct 25th, 2013 at 12:57:35 PM EST
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair has long been a source of a national embarrassment in Ireland. On the one hand it is one of the few truly successful Irish owned corporates which have succeeded in growing global in scope. On the other hand, it's corporate ethos, anti-union attitudes, and poor customer service and public relations have been... well embarrassing is perhaps too kind a word.
Recently the controversial Chief Executive, Michael O'Leary, has apparently had a blinding revelation on the road to Damascus. He has come to realize what many of us have known and been saying for years: his persona and the corporate culture that has grown from it have become a threat to Ryanair's ongoing growth and development. What was once a successful business model for a brash small start-up taking on the staid and expensive national flag carriers and aiming mostly for the young back-packer market - is now not helping Ryanair to continue to expand market share from its current position as the largest airline in Europe.
Many travelers now refuse to fly with Ryanair almost on principle; some because of its anti-union attitudes, some because of some bad experience with rude staff, some because the Ryanair website has become extremely awkward and irritating to navigate, and some because they do not wish to be herded like cattle and have to endure uncomfortable seats. This has meant that Ryanair passenger numbers have been rising more slowly than its major rival, Easyjet, despite the fact that Easyjet generally charges higher fares on its routes. Whilst trying to portray Ryanair's often low fares as a virtue, in reality, they have become a necessity if Ryanair is to attract passengers from other airlines - even when others are considerably more expensive.
Thu Oct 24th, 2013 at 04:44:54 PM EST
The second largest utility in Germany, RWE, says, "...we will position ourselves as a project enabler and operator, and system integrator of renewables."
RWE is based in Essen, Germany and provides 50,000 MW of electricity generated from coal, oil, and gas-fired plants to 24 million customers throughout Europe.
"The guiding principle is `from volume to value' with technologies ranging from large-scale offshore wind and hydro to onshore wind or photovoltaic. But we will no longer pursue volume- or percentage- targets in renewables (x TWh/y % in 2025). We will rather leverage our skills set by taking a `capital light' approach. Based on funds sourced largely from third parties, we will position ourselves as a project enabler, operator and system integrator of renewables."
They are also one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in Europe.
Thu Oct 24th, 2013 at 08:21:20 AM EST
USA - Down in Jungleland
Recovery? What recovery? For the growing number of professionals and college graduates being tipped into working poverty, claims the United States is climbing out of the economic abyss is an outrageous lie. Consider the plight of the former TV anchor or the former Wall St trader now both working in a bar for a little over two bucks an hour plus tips. And with many from the middle class now toiling in poor paying jobs with little or no benefits, what happens to the people who used to do that work. From the Jersey Shore to the California coast are we witnessing the future of work in the USA?
Luckily we here in Australia are not there ...yet...not that I know...but with conservatives in power and so called "two speed economy" where not only that mining economy is slowing but outside mining economy (rest of it) not being able to move an inch in right direction let alone to pick up for mining slowing I am seriously scared for the future...of my children and grandchildren. I wouldn't like Australia EVER to become anything resembling USA (in any way shape or form) ...but I am afraid.
So called middle class is slowly losing ground here too, with less well-paid jobs, less benefits from the state (school kids bonus and low income superannuation benefits to be scraped soon together with mining tax that should provide money for them)...and it is just a beginning...After election parliament did not start to work yet and this has been prepared as an "entree/appetizer"...
What exactly you can see around you in your respective cities/countries. Your friends, your neighbours, your relatives...how do they cope?
I'll tell more about my surroundings later...
Wed Oct 23rd, 2013 at 07:49:58 AM EST
In hindsight one of the best diaries that predicted the Neocon foreign policy, continued under Obama and Ms Clinton, to "democraticize" Syria and bring freedom to the Syrian people. A regional catastrophy in the making. Please let no one write the Obama administration isn't culpable for the human suffering inside Syria and the six million displaced persons and refugees. Neocon Stephen Hadley had a position within USIP and making US foreign policy under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ms Clinton used her "knowledge" of Serbia and Kosovo and challenged the world community in Syria by-passing international law. What a quagmire in the new Middle-East. The year 2005 was marked by renewed upheaval in Lebanon, the assassination of Rafic Hariri while under occupation and rule by Syria. The European Union and the US were in talks with Bashar al-Assad for government reforms. New economic agreements and transformation were agreed upon and Israel held secret meetings to settle the Golan Heights issue.
Hadley asked Italy/Turkey/France for Regime Change in Syria (2005)
NSC Chief Hadley asked Italy for a Bashar Replacement and @EuroTrib by susanhu on Oct. 23, 2005
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley asked the Italians to help with regime change in Syria:
I have it on good authority that Steven Hadley, the director of the US National Security Council, called the President of the Italian senate to asked if he had a candidate to replace Bashar al-Asad as President of Syria. The Italians were horrified. Italy is one of Syria's biggest trading partners so it seemed a reasonable place to ask! This is what Washington has been up to.
Heading for Damascus and the military option (Reuters)
The new United Nations Mehlis report linking top Syrian officials, including Assad family members, [Is now known to be false - Oui] to the killing of Lebanon's leading reformer eight months ago has sparked a "transformation" in how the world is willing to deal with Damascus, which Washington wants to cultivate, said a senior U.S. policymaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity because diplomacy is ongoing - Joshua Landis.
"Out of tragedy comes an extraordinary strategic opportunity," the official said. "This murder changed everything." Former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed Feb. 14, 2005.
The long-term U.S. goal is to break the 35-year hold of the Assad family and allow Syrians to freely pick a new government. But in the short term, the administration is somewhat reluctantly opting to let the U.N. investigation and the subsequent judicial process, combined with punitive U.N. sanctions, erode Assad's power -- and see if he then changes Syrian practices in the region, U.S. officials said. -- Joshua Landis
Let's take this in. Hadley is calling the Italians, asking for a name as a replacement figurehead? Stunning.
Continued below the fold ...
Mon Oct 21st, 2013 at 07:13:02 PM EST
I publish a weekly listing of Energy (and Other) Events at the colleges, universities, and in the community around Cambridge, MA (http://hubevents.blogspot.com) and have been doing it consistently since the end of January, 2010 (http://hubevents.blogspot.com/2010/01/events-january-25-2010.html). This is the second iteration of the idea as I published a similar listings service plus reviews and articles from February, 1995 to February, 1998, "A List of Environmental and Telecommunications Events and Issues" or "AList...." for short (http://world.std.com/~gmoke/AList.html) [The issues from April 1997 to February 1998 are available at http://world.std.com/~gmoke/AList.index.html but you have to click on the weekly issue heading first before you can read any of the articles.]
My original idea was to have a searchable calendar of all the public lecture information at all the colleges and universities around the Boston area, something like 70 of them, so that anyone could take the opportunity to gather in all the free learning they want. Imagine the resource for anyone from high school kids to retired people. I'd been availing myself of the privilege for a number of years already, meeting in small seminar rooms with distinguished experts and famous names that normally you'd only see on TV. And I even got to ask them questions. What a gift! As an experienced autodidact, I took notes at the events I went to, when something of actual note occurred, and thought that the next step would be to invite others to contribute their notes from the events they went to that I couldn't attend so that all that wealth of information could be captured, a community commonplace book.
by Crazy Horse
Mon Oct 21st, 2013 at 03:22:20 PM EST
Over the past months on ET, we've been treated to many authoritative discussions about the Ganz Genau-ness of empirically tested models of the global economy, and the completely exact science of of carbon and methane in the atmosphere and oceans. Not to mention that EPR reactors will operate until 2400 AD, should one ever get built on time, much less fired up, or down, as the case may be.
Diluvially, we've stimulated almost zero discussion on the ability of oarfish to predict large movements of the earth. Luckily, a British science journal, The Telegraph (noted for predicting the Fukushima melt), opens the door for pataphysical discombobulations.
Fri Oct 18th, 2013 at 03:42:13 PM EST
Stakes at the table of international diplomacy are set higher as Saudi Arabia is extremely angered by US rebukes on a Syria intervention. Kerry and Lavrov have joined to find a diplomatic solution to the civil/sectarian war in Syria where the Assad regime will be still in place as talks begin. President Obama and Iranian president Rouhani are on a path to resolve the nuclear crisis in order to lift crushing UN sanctions. On domestic troubles, Obama has gained a few months breathing space as the government shutdown is ended and debt ceiling raised.
Saudi King Abdullah's warning on interference
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Gulf News) - Leader stresses mutual respect as basis for international diplomacy - Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has warned that the Islamic nation would not allow anyone, regardless of their status, to interfere in its affairs or undermine its security.
"We want to tell the world that we are extending our hand in respect of all divine religions and in an initiative that shuns hatred and violence and indicates that Islam is a religion of purity and moderation. If this be our case with non-Muslims, then our duty towards Muslims is to reject differences and rivalries between them."
Dialogue between Islamic sects is the proper way to understand one another.
"We praise God for everything that we agree upon, but our disagreements should not be used as a way to destroy the unity of the Islamic nation."
King Abdullah said that the Islamic nation never compromised on its religion, morals or values.
"We do not allow anyone regardless of who he is to undermine the sovereignty of our countries or interfere in our domestic or foreign affairs," King Abdullah who assumed power in 2005 said.
"Let the whole world be aware that we respect them and appreciate their contributions to humanity throughout history. However, there is no option for anyone trying to fret, according to his narrow or interests. We are a nation keen on the safety and integrity of its religion and countries and on dealing with others on a peer-to-peer basis."
Saudi rejection stuns UN Security Council
Continued below the fold ...
Wed Oct 16th, 2013 at 06:04:03 AM EST
As the US pivots its military presence towards the Far East, China is quietly moving into prominence in the Middle-East and Gulf states.
Turkey missile deal shows China's growing Mideast clout
(YnetNews/Reuters) - Expected sale of Chinese FD-2000 missile defense system to Ankara 'a wake up call,' former US official says. Survey shows China viewed more positively than US in every Mideast state except Israel.
China's likely sale of sophisticated missiles to Turkey over the objections of its NATO allies might have angered Washington and other capitals, but it should not have been a surprise. Even as the US has spent billions of dollars and lost hundreds of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, Beijing has been quietly upping its presence in the Middle East.
Militarily, the US - which maintains a permanent aircraft carrier presence near the Gulf as well as dozens of other warships and major bases in Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - is by far the dominant regional power.
Beijing's economic, political and diplomatic clout, however, is growing fast. China's Ministry of Commerce said last month China-Arab nation trade now reaches $222 billion a year, 12 times its 2002 level. That would outstrip US-Mideast trade, valued at $193 billion in 2011.
China plays vital role in promoting peace
Turkey's choice of a $3.4 billion deal to acquire the Chinese FD-2000 missile defense system rather than rival US or European systems may be a sign of things to come.
"It is a wake-up call," said Christina Lin, a former US official and now fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies who last year briefed the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs on the issue. "China is looking to get a lot more involved in the Middle East and is being increasingly accepted there."
The firm that makes the missile system, China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) is under US sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
Mixing commerce and geopolitics, experts say, is at the heart of Beijing's approach. Chinese officials have become regular visitors to most Mideast states while a range of regional leaders including Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah have all visited China.
China's soaring energy needs are seen as a major motivator, coming just as the US gets closer to energy independence and budget constraints and public reluctance hit its military presence.
The International Energy Agency expects China's Mideast oil imports to grow from 2.9 million barrels per day in 2011 to 6.7 million in 2035, a projected 54% of total Chinese oil imports. Already, Chinese national oil companies are amongst the biggest players in Iraq and Iran and Beijing is both Saudi Arabia's largest trading partner and the biggest single purchaser of Iran's crude.
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