Crisis? What Crisis?


« What Crisis? » Says EU Boss Jean-Claude Juncker

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker dismissed calls for a new EU summit on immigration, saying member states should stop dragging their heels and implement existing agreements on the matter.

Juncker’s comments in an opinion piece published in France’s Le Figaro and Germany’s Die Welt on Monday come ahead of a meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande in Berlin to discuss immigration.

Juncker repeated his criticism of European governments failing to take migrants from Italy and Greece where tens of thousands arrived by boat have over the last months to escape poverty and war in their home countries.

“We don’t need a new summit. Member states have to adopt the European measures and apply them to their territory,” he wrote.

Juncker added that the European Union should draw up a uniform list of “safe countries” to which migrants could be returned.

Huh? Did he REALLY say that? What planet does this man live on?

No question. It’s heartwarming to know that this is the man who rules over the EU with a firm hand…

More in The Irish Times

To quote Captain Jack Sparrow:

“The problem is not the problem.
The problem is your attitude about the problem”

The gender gap grasps climate change too


A survey indicates that the gender gap has poured out the climate change debate, with a French report suggesting that men are bigger eco-offenders than women.

Two independent studies carried out by separate teams of European scientists looked at data on the consumption and daily lifestyles of men and women in industrialised countries. One found that a typical French man causes emissions of 39.3 kilograms (kg) of carbon dioxide (CO2), whereas a woman causes 32.3kg.

Author of the French report, Frederic Chomé, said:

Although our calculation method is very approximate, I believe the results are a good indicator of the differences in environmental contamination resulting from the different behaviours of men and women.

The second report, undertaken by scientists from Sweden and Finalnd, found that men consum more meat and processed drinks than women and use cars more often and for longer journeys, thus creating greater CO2 emissions.

It was also found that, apart from differences in eating and transportation habits, it is the consumption of alcohol and tobacco that drives up men’s share of emissions.

Experts from Germany‘s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research noted that the polluting habits attributed to men are largely the result of the role they play in society, commenting that these differences could be balanced in future…

to the extent that equal opportunity allows women to climb the labour ladder, while men take on more household duties.

Indeed, the studies found that the only instance in which women caused greater greenhouse gas emissions was during household tasks like cooking and cleaning.

Men were also found to use more energy in general, with differences in energy use between genders ranging from six per cent in Norway to 39 per cent in Greece.

According to Annika Carlsson-Kanyama and Riita Raty, authors of the second report, these findings suggest that European governments should refocus their emissions-reduction efforts on convincing the male population to modify their transportation and eating habits to increase energy efficiency in related activities and save unnecessary emissions.

24 hours to stand with Paris

Hundreds of thousands will march through the streets of Paris tomorrow to support the beautiful French values of equality, fraternity and liberty – and we can be there with them.


The entire world will be watching what happens as people take to the streets in response to the brutal murders of 17 people on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Counter protests are planned, Europe’s far-right is mobilising throughout France, and two Muslim places of worship have already been attacked. This is just what the gunmen wanted: division and fear.

But tomorrow we can show them that citizens everywhere also support the values the journalists, staff and policeman died for.

On Sunday, marchers will be joined by French President Hollande, Germany’s Angela Merkel, the UK’s David Cameron, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, and many others. But this isn’t just a moment for France or even just Europe. This is one of those moments when those of us who stand for tolerance and freedom of expression everywhere can raise our hands, our pens and our voices. Because the effects of violence like this ripples out, and threaten all of our freedoms.

Many of us found the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo offensive, racist and purposely infammatory. Along with the Prophet Mohammed, they targeted immigrants, nuns, the pope, Jews and more. But free speech is easy to support until we’re asked to stand for the speech we don’t like. We can help define the message this attack sends to the world’s reporters, editors, and publishers. And to those who would like to see them silenced.

We can’t all be in Paris on Sunday. But we can stand in solidarity with those in the streets, joining to them where marches are called: it means an important message of global unity at a time when it is so desperately needed.

What happens after these attacks will affect all of us. The world will be choosing between a crackdown and anger or unity in the face of fear. This is our chance to respond with a clear call for hope and cooperation, for liberty, equality and fraternity.

With sadness, but also so much hope and determination.


The Attack on Charlie Hebdo (The New Yorker)

Charlie Hebdo Editor Killed in Paris (TIME)

People Around the World Are Pouring Into the Streets to Support Charlie Hebdo After the Paris Massacre (Mother Jones)

No, we are NOT all Charlie (and that’s a problem) (openDemocracy)

America is a long game

The problem was always bigger than any one particular case, trial or lack thereof. If Darren Wilson had been indicted, the larger problem would not have been all fixed. And the fact that he wasn’t indicted isn’t going to stop the process of political awakening by which millions of Americans are standing up at last to the institutionalized racism, police brutality, militarization of police forces and incarceration-for-profit that has black men feeling too often at a disadvantage should they wish to … oh, I don’t know…walk down the street.

The President Obama asked protesters of the Ferguson decision to be peaceful and non-violent, which is understandable. But a system that incarcerates on average one out of every three African-American men, keeps 500,000 non-violent drug offenders locked up, and has the largest mass incarceration rate in the world, has a lot of nerve telling those who complain about this to be peaceful and non-violent. The system itself is laced with violence. The polite kind.

The Michael Brown grand jury decision is a shock to all, but should be a surprise to no one. The American criminal justice system gets it right sometimes and gets it wrong sometimes. But when it comes to African American men, the statistical trend towards getting it wrong is wrong in itself. And this must stop.

The American experiment has never been perfect; it’s a process. It is as perfect or as imperfect as the people who foster and protect it in each generation. The US is a country that’s gotten it wrong many times before, but it’s a country that over time does tend to make things right. America, quite simply, is a long game. And now, for the current generation, the challenge is clear. Hope they won’t be the first generation to wimp out on the job of making right in America a thing that’s so clearly wrong.

Darren Wilson will not stand trial, but the American criminal justice system absolutely must. The jury is the American people and the trial has only just begun. May justice be done, in this and all things. And may it be done through us.

Lima Climate Talks should deliver first draft for 2015 climate deal

1922061_700198980057201_8218442381976835140_nUN summit to steer the course for a binding global commitment on carbon emissions in Paris

The meeting of nearly 200 governments in Peru in mid-December this year for a major UN climate change summit must produce the first draft of a global deal to cut emissions.

But one must be aware that slow progress at the last round of talks in Warsaw, Poland, meant significant progress is needed in key areas including climate financing and how to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.

The meeting in Lima in December is a staging point towards a crunch summit in Paris in 2015 when it is hoped world leaders will agree, for the first time, a global deal on cutting emissions that includes both rich and poor countries.

A solid working draft is mandatory

Significant progress would also need to be made in Lima on the Green Climate Fund (a mechanism to transfer money from the developed to the developing world), the issue of “loss and damage” (whether rich countries should pay poor ones for damage caused by climate change) and a UN scheme to tackle emissions caused by forests being cleared.

Not easy to be optimistic but realistic about the meeting since its success would depend on the political will of the heads of state who attended the preceding UN climate summit in New York in September.

The UN secretary general’s idea is precisely that the presidents bring the political will to give the COP the momentum it needs to be sufficiently successful and to count on the political support to make a decision. Would the Lima summit leave a legacy in Peru’s fast-developing and industrialising pace by fixing its sights on green growth with clean technologies and low emissions…

Peru has a lot to lose from climate change. People in the Amazon region, the Andes Mountains and on its arid coast are already feeling the impact, and the country is one of the most biodiverse on Earth.

It has the world’s largest concentration of tropical glaciers, but has already lost 39% of them due to a 0.7C temperature rise in the Andes between 1939 and 2006. Peru has the world’s fourth largest area of rainforest and deforestation accounts for more than 40% of the country’s carbon emissions. Approximately 20% of emissions are generated by ranching and farming, the Peru environment minister Mr Pulgar-Vidal said.

Peru’s climate authorities priority is obviously the forest and they are working out the state of the forest –they are working with the Carnegie Institution for Science to use state-of-the art technology to map the country’s extensive tropical forest and scientifically measure its carbon stocks.

“People must understand that the standing forest has value and rewarding ecosystem services can lead to a change in behaviour, the issues are complex but we have clear strategies to tackle them,” says Mr Manuel Pulgar-Vidal. He pointed out recently of schemes including financial compensation for indigenous communities who conserve the rainforest and attempts to involve the private sector in forest preservation.

But illicit logging and an exponential increase in illegal gold mining in the Amazon since the 2008 global economic crisis present the biggest threats to Peru’s forest cover.

Spotlight on murders of activists as Peru prepares for Lima climate talks

Peru Government is regularly accused of neglecting people defending their land and forests against mining and illegal logging.

Two weeks before Peru hosts a key global climate conference, the country has come under fire for failing to protect activists who were murdered trying to defend the country’s rapidly diminishing rainforest and other ecosystems.

The South American nation has become the fourth most dangerous state in the world for environmental and land defenders, according to the NGO Global Witness, which accused the government of putting a dangerous emphasis on exploitation rather than conservation of natural resources.

Yet another innocent humanitarian beheaded


Seeing yet another picture of an innocent humanitarian beheaded by ISIS, my mind seesaws between hawk and dove. Civil wars statistically last twice as long as they otherwise would when an outside agent intervenes, yet something about this doesn’t feel like simply another civil war. I can’t help wondering what makes ISIS any different than Nazis on the march? Then I think about an all-out war against them… what it would mean, what it would take… and my heart just freezes.

We are seriously in trouble now.

There is so much to say about how this happened, but most of it has been said. We have so much to atone for, and that alone takes you to your knees. But our question still has to be, “So what do we do now?”

I don’t know what we should do now. But no one else does either. No politician knows for sure and no military commander knows for sure. If anything should be obvious by now, it’s that. It isn’t simply bad political decisions or military strategies that got us here. It’s karma that got us here. The US -and other westerners, let us not forget- became a warmongering nation, attacking a country that hadn’t even attacked us … and look what it led to. God forgive us. And God help us now.

I’m going deep into my heart, into my prayerfulness, and into atonement for the arrogance and recklessness of our  bellicose countries. I pray for forgiveness for irresponsibly sending people to die in another country, in a foreign war, for no reason. For there, at that level of Atonement, I know we enter a place where God’s ears are open and miracles do happen. “God shall not be mocked” means that He isn’t. Until America owns up to what it has become and what it has done — allowing war to become a huge business empire, maintained by military contractors and politicians alike to fight wars that should not have been fought for no more reason than money and oil – then Cause and Effect will continue to operate, and the blowback will increase, and a great country will be brought to its knees.

There is an alternative: We can fall to our knees right now…

Who is going to pay for international development?

The world does not require another inventory of financial problems and solutions. It needs a list of priorities

The time is coming for the big ideas in targets such as the sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be enhanced into politically realistic commitments.


There is simply not enough time or resources to do everything so what should the world’s development finance priorities be?

Addis Ababa is hosting a UN financing for development conference in July 2015, and the timing of the talks, before the goals are announced in September, is a strong message from member states that if credible financial commitments are not made, the whole exercise to refresh the millennium development goals (MDGs) would be little more than words on a page.

One thing is clear: the agenda is broad. How should progress be paid for? What is the role of the private sector? Who should keep an eye on sources of finance? Isn’t it now finally time for structural reform in global financial institutions, such as the World Bank? And what proportion of development should be paid for out of domestic as opposed to international resources?

With such a large number of issues defined as «development», it is hard to draft declarations that are useful for overburdened decision-makers who are used to being presented with shopping lists in which all the points are considered equally important to achieving improvements.

But politics is prioritisation. Politicians and bureaucrats love a map of options to choose from, usually collapsing for the path of least resistance. And anyway, there is simply not enough time or resources to do everything.

So when development finance experts arrive in Ethiopia next year, they should remember that the world does not need another list of financial problems and solutions, another meta analysis of the situation. It needs priorities.

First, identify the most important issues. One of the main problems of the MDGs, as noted in incalculable analyses, was their failure to bring the major structural issues to the table. I know of no one who thinks that aid is the most important contribution that wealthier countries can make to development, but the nebulous terms of MDG eight allowed politicians to get away with aid promises (which in some cases they didn’t keep) rather than setting an audacious agenda for transformational change in global financial governance, dealing with illicit financial flows, for example, taking bold steps towards international tax reform, and introducing better mechanisms for working out debt repayments.

Today it is even clearer than 15 years ago that such major structural issues need to be managed if the world is to adopt a sustainable path. Such issues could be unequivocally prioritised in the UN finance for development declaration next year. Aid is not unimportant, but it is less important, and could be lower in the list.

Second, achievability. One of the most depressing conversations I can remember was during a NGO coordination meeting in Barcelona with an adviser from Mali. Reflecting on the way cotton subsidies abroad had all but destroyed Mali’s cotton industry, its one big chance to emerge from aid dependency; I asked why they weren’t campaigning harder on the issue. He replied that it was useless – incentives in subsidising countries were too strong to overcome; better to work on things with a chance of progress.

The same analysis needs to be applied to the prioritisation of goals and commitments in development finance. Some issues remain fairly stubborn – such as subsidies in richer countries – but the international context for progress on other systemic issues is better than ever, as people in rich countries clamour for fairer burden-sharing in times of austerity.

The achievability test is also key to the public vs. private debate. The role of the private sector, both domestic and multinational, is critical to development outcomes. But our ambitions with regard to making it a partner in the SDG process should be proportionate to a sensible analysis of achievability. Rather than focusing on getting commitments from the private sector, which follows a particular set of incentives, it may be more sensible to set out how public actions can encourage – and sometimes force – companies and banks to be as pro-development as possible.

Prioritising some issues doesn’t mean forgetting others – it means allocating time and resources most appropriately after an assessment of importance and achievability, just as has happened for the SDGs.

Changes in the way that development is financed could be treated as goals in themselves, with a 15-year horizon and short-term monitoring mechanisms, just like the SDGs. This is the approach suggested by the in many ways visionary report of the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda. These commitments will, inevitably, fall more on wealthier and more powerful countries, and could be seen as a key part of the «universality» agenda, in which all countries, not just developing countries, have clear and binding targets.

Next year is a chance to write the next page of the development finance book. As well as a reaffirmation of the critical importance of international public action to achieve collectively agreed objectives (of which international public finance is a part), we also need not just a wish-list but a prioritised plan of action with a specific timeframe for changes in global finance.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 448 other followers

%d bloggers like this: