A Poem on the Fiscal Cliff

Oh, our feisty Fiscal Cliff,
that bastard child of polarized States.

America, what shall we see upon the new year's "Dawn's early light",
Whose broad stripes and bright stars see us through a perilous fight.

Weeper of the House,
America does not want you to cry,
don't leave us Dry!

It is America's resolution to solve the Budget impasse,
Negotiating the return of higher tax-rates,
Is that such a difficult accommodation?

Remember, the U.S. Constitution with its numerous Amendments and Rights was the only truly Great Compromise. 

So, let us put down our muskets,
Besides, there will always be something new to fight,
How about the Debt Ceiling with all your might?

                                                                             - Dominic Lombardo

A Little Slice Of Heaven: Race, Class, and the Making of the "Best Place"

Bloomburg Businessweek has rated Signal Mountain as the best place in Tennessee to raise kids. The Chattanooga Times Free Press, reporting on the "Best in Small Towns" designation, noted that the median family income on Signal Mountain is $100,726 - more than double the national average - and that "All three of Signal Mountain's public schools -- Nolan and Thrasher elementary schools and Signal Mountain Middle/High School -- got all A's in the state school report card for math, reading, social studies and science test results". The schools have help, and a lot of it. They are amply funded thanks in large part to the Mountain Education Foundation, which is explicitly devoted to raising private donations that are then used to ensure that teachers and students have all the resources they need in the pursuit of a balanced liberal arts education.

But for all its wealth and beauty, Signal Mountain did fall short in one particular area of concern for the "Best in Small Towns" designation - diversity. The Chattanooga Times Free Press mentions, tacked on to the end of the article as an almost begrudging aside, that "In the 2010 census, 97.5 percent of the residents on Signal Mountain were white -- the second highest of any city of more than 5,000 people in all of Tennessee."

This should lead us to ask, if Signal Mountain is the "best small town in Tennessee", then WHO exactly is it best for?

Well, Bryon de la  Beckwith for one. After two failed attempts by all-white juries in Mississippi to return a conviction, Beckwith was finally found guilty in 1994 of the cold-blooded assassination of Civil Rights activist and Missisippi field secretary for the NAACP, Medgar Evers. From his perch in the bushes, Beckwith shot Evers in the back with a high powered rifle as Evers was walking from the driveway to his front door on June 12, 1963.

Known as "DEE-lay" to his KKK friends, Beckwith was a brazen white supremacist. Journalists from around the country all reported that Beckwith loved nothing more than to spew vicious racial tirades against Black folks and Jews within minutes of meeting anyone who was white and willing to lend him an ear. Beckwith was also notorious for openly bragging about having killed Medgar Evers, a tendency that would come back to haunt him in his 1994 trial.

In interviews with the media, Beckwith famously described Signal Mountain as "paradise" and a "little slice of heaven", because of how thoroughly segregated the community was - thanks in part to the past activities of white supremacist organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens' Council, and the ongoing activities of institutions like banks, which have historically refused to lend money to People of Color.

During his third and final trial, business owners, politicians and citizens of Signal Mountain tried to publicly distance themselves from Beckwith and the very explicit variation of white supremacy that he represented, making him out to be an anachronistic oddity. And to some degree he probably was. The KKK, with their penchant for violence and murder, had long since gone out of vogue on the national stage and in elite circles. That does not mean that the Klan ceased to exist, it has existed all throughout the 20th century and continues to exist even now, occasionally in a very public way. Take for example when, in the 1950s, Chattanooga was publicly shamed in Time Magazine for allowing a local softball team to be sponsored by the white terrorist organization.

Photo from Time Magazine featuring  the KKK sponsored local softball team.
More recently, in 1980, a local chapter of the Klan grabbed international media attention when four Black women walking on Martin Luther King Boulevard were blasted with shotgun shells by three Klansmen after they had just burned a cross in Alton Park. Two of the Klansmen were acquitted and one was given a slap-on-the-wrist assault charge by an all white Chattanooga jury.

Photo of shooting victims taken from the April, 1980 Chattanooga Times. All of the women survived the shooting.
In the 1950s, the Klan was supplanted with the more public-relations friendly White Citizens' Council, which was still an explicit white supremacist organization, but sought its ends through more publicly acceptable means, like supporting segregationist Governor George Wallace for President - as they did locally in a packed-out rally held in the Memorial Auditorium in 1963.

The Chattanooga Citizens Council, formed locally for the purpose of keeping schools segregated and supporting the continued criminalization of "race mixing," had a heavy influence in Chattanooga for a time and, like the Klan before it, counted many of Chattanooga's most powerful and prestigious luminaries among its ranks. In fact, in 1966 the national convening of the White Citizens' Council was held at the Read House in downtown Chattanooga and was attended by delegates from twenty states. Dr. Revilo Oliver was the keynote speaker, delivering a message that desegregation was "unfair to children of both races" because Black children, "due to their innate intellectual inferiority," could never learn in the same manner and to the same degree as white children. Dr. Olvier was introduced to the podium, bearing the "States Rights, Racial Integrity" motto with cross-staffed Confederate and Union flags, by Dr. James Park McCallie, founder of McCallie School - one of the "best" places for children in Chattanooga to get an education.

Eventually, even the White Citizens' Councils became socially unacceptable among elite circles. But that does not mean that racism and classism did.

Take for example:

  • Urban renewal destroyed hundreds of local Black businesses and homes, robbing Chattanooga's Black community of generations of accumulated wealth while providing a windfall to developers, construction firms, and white labor unions. 
  • In 1990 a federal court ruled that the City of Chattanooga's form of government was inherently racist and had to be re-structured.
  • In the last few years, our local governments have promised to pony-up $200 million in subsidies for Volkswagon in return for jobs, while dramatically cutting funding for our social welfare agencies and refusing to finance public transportation for low-income people (and anyone without a car) so they could apply for those very jobs. 
  • With a foundation to rival that of Signal Mountain, Normal Park Magnet Museum School is lauded as one of the "best" schools in the nation, but absolutely refuses to allow the multi-racial working-class neighborhood of Hill City back into the zone for its community school, forcing families that live within a stone's throw of Normal Park, and that often are without or have limited access to their own vehicle, to bus their children to Red Bank, which has no public bus system.
In instance after instance, what is "best" - the places to live, the schools to attend, major public policy decisions - comes at an implicit cost to others who don't seem to count, because they are Black and/or poor. Thankfully, the passage of time makes the events of the past seem shockingly obvious - a Klan sponsored softball team, Dr. James McCallie introducing the keynote speaker at the national convening of the White Citizens' Council in Chattanooga, an all white jury acquitting Klansmen who admit to blasting innocent women in a drive-by shooting after burning a cross in a Black neighbhorhood, a form of local government that largely excludes and disenfranchises minorities, Byron de la Beckwith living on Signal Mountain and openly bragging about murdering a Civil Rights leader.

But, at the time of all these events, they were often not seen by a large number of the white public as really being a problem - or, at least, as being in any way their problem. This is how insidious racism and classism works. It's a reminder that things are not always what they seem, and what we take for granted as daily life can and should be challenged, by all of us.

History is there for us to learn from. To grow into the people we can and should be, we must begin asking ourselves very difficult questions and then look to our history for possible answers in the present. Like the question I asked at the beginning of this post, but slightly re-worded: how is it that Signal Mountain, the "best small town in Tennessee" is such a great place to live for so many people, like Byron de la Beckwith, but not People of Color? Byron de la Beckwith lauded Signal Mountain for being one of the most segregated towns in Tennessee - could it be that he was just more honest than the people living there about the consequences of decades of decisions made in the name of what was seen, at the time, as "best"?

European Commission and Germany contribute €10 million to UNDP to help countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Click here for this in full @ : http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2012/12/european-commission-and-germany-contribute-e10-million-to-undp-to-help-countries-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

Listen / Download
Greenhouse gases
25 developing countries around the world are to get help in reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The help comes from the European Commission and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) that have each announced a €5 million contribution to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The joint Low Emission Capacity Building Programme – which now has a budget of more than €32 million – was launched in 11 countries in 2011 with contributions from the European Commission and BMU. Its' been since expanded to a further 14 countries in 2012 as a result of additional funding from the European Commission and the Government of Australia's Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and AusAID.
The Programme supports participating countries by helping them develop low-emission development strategies and nationally appropriate actions to reduce or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It also helps these countries design systems for better measuring, reporting and verification of results.
Administrator of the UN Development Programme, Helen Clark said "There is an urgent need to act now to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change", adding that "This is a global challenge and requires global solutions" .
Donn Bobb, United Nations.
Duration: 1’13″

UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator, Mr Frode Mauring visits project sites in Gaza

UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator, Mr Frode Mauring accompanied by the Representatives of India, Brazil and South Africa, visit the project site of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) Hospital in Gaza. 

The project, funded by the governments of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), through UNDP/PAPP, consists of the rehabilitation of nine partially or totally destroyed floors and aims at enhancing access to public health and social services for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. 

During the site visit, Dr. Khalil Abu Fuul, the Director of the Crisis Management Unit at PRCS, briefed the delegation on the ongoing status of work and highlighted that 65% of the project components has been completed. 

Furthermore, Mr Mauring, together with the Representative of Brazil, Mr Paulo Franca, visited the Sekka Bridge to check the damages caused as a result of the recent Israeli military offensive on Gaza. The “Construction of Al-Sekka Bridge” project was completed in October 2012, implemented by UNDP/PAPP and funded by the Government of Brazil.

UN Justice: The former Italian UN intern begins hunger strike for justice


#UN intern on 1th day of #hungerstrike for #justice @UN unjustice.org/news122.htm @innercitypress @undpwatch @columlynch @lou_reuters @irinnews


20 December 2012
Dr di Giacomo, the Italian former UN intern, has announced in a letter to Ms. Axenidou, the Organization's Director of the General Legal Division, that beginning tonight, Rome time, he will go on hunger strike in protest against the continued delays in upholding the UN Legal Counsel’s undertaking to resolve his claim against Ms. Grant, a senior UN lawyer who was accused of defamation and calumny in a complaint to Office of the Attorney-General of Italy. 

The Organization has inexplicably ignored every request to negotiate a settlement of this dispute. The former UN intern has resorted to the hunger strike after over four years of less drastic attempts to persuade the UN Office of Legal Affairs to respect the UN Legal Counsel’s promise.

In Spain 1 in 3 young people is unemployed - but former Socialist Minister "bribes" her way into United Nations with spanish taxpayers money

The Spanish government stops paying the international fund

Click here for this story in full @ Periodista Digital: http://www.periodistadigital.com/economia/instituciones/2012/10/29/rajoy-corta-grifo-onu-mujeres-organismo-ficho-ministra-bibiana-aido.shtml

Bibiana Aído.

El Gobierno español deja de pagar al fondo internacional

Rajoy corta el grifo a ONU-Mujeres, el organismo que fichó a Bibiana Aído

En total, desde 2006 España le ha donado 178 millones de euros

Geolocalización de la noticia
Periodista Digital, 29 de octubre de 2012 a las 17:42
El Gobierno de Mariano Rajoy cierra el grifo de forma definitiva a ONU Mujeres. El organismo en el que Bibiana Aído trabaja como asesora desde 2011 dejará de recibir las cantidades de dinero que recibía con Rodríguez Zapatero.
En total, desde 2006 España donó 178 millones de euros. Una ayuda que el actual ejecutivo no considera 'prioritaria' ya que España ya ha sido 'especialmente generoso en este aspecto'.

Según informa ABC, las aportaciones a este programa comenzaron en 2006. Las primeras se hicieron al antiguo fondo par la Mujer, Unifem, que alcanzaron los 8,16 millones de euros.

En los años siguientes la cuantía de la ayuda fue en ascenso. Así en 2007 el Estado español entregó 10,6 millones de euros, 74,07 en 2008, 32,11 en 2009, 33 en 2010 y 20 en 2011.

Click here for this story in full @ Periodista Digital: http://www.periodistadigital.com/economia/instituciones/2012/10/29/rajoy-corta-grifo-onu-mujeres-organismo-ficho-ministra-bibiana-aido.shtml

UNDP SCANDAL: Former Spanish Socialist Minister - gives 200 Million to UN-Women two months before leaving her job - than becomes the number #2 at the same United Nations Fund ...


Click here to read this in full @ El Confidencial : http://www.elconfidencial.com/espana/2012/10/17/el-gobierno-de-zapatero-dono-200-millones-a-onu-mujeres-antes-del-fichaje-de-bibiana-aido-107164/

Un país comprometido con la mujer y la igualdad de género. España abandera el ránking de los países que más dinero destinan a combatir la violencia y la desigualdad de género entre hombres y mujeres. Un liderazgo mantenido en el tiempo durante los años en los que José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero ocupó la Moncloa. Desde 2006 hasta este año, el Gobierno ha donado más de 200 millones de euros al proyecto estadounidense de ONU Mujeres que fichó a Bibiana Aído, exministra de Igualdad, como asesora "especial" de la directora ejecutiva de ONU-Mujeres, el organismo que preside Michelle Bachelet. 

En 2006, dos años antes de crear el ministerio de Igualdad que dirigiría Bibiana Aído hasta su extinción, el por entonces presidente del Gobierno José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero dedicó de los fondos públicos 8,8 millones de euros para Unifem, el Fondo de Naciones Unidas para la Mujer. Una cantidad que se elevó hasta los 16,8 millones de euros en el siguiente ejercicio. Las aportaciones son mínimas si se compara con el chorreo de dinero que el Gobierno destinaba al mismo fondo a partir de 2008, cuando Zapatero es reelegido presidente del Gobierno y Bibiana Aído sube al Ejecutivo como ministra de Igualdad.

España inyectó más de 76 millones de euros a la ONU entre 2008 y 2009, convirtiéndose en el país que más dinero abonaba a la causa (una cuarta parte del montante global que aportaban todos los países del mundo) y coincidiendo en el tiempo con la aparición de los primeros brotes de la crisis que todavía asola al país. Ser la nación que más dinero invertía a la causa sirvió como razón de peso para que la organización compensase a España colocando en abril de ese mismo año a Inés Alberdi, esposa del exgobernador del Banco de España, Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, al frente de la dirección ejecutiva del Fondo de Desarrollo de Naciones Unidas para la Mujer (Unifem).
Ya con la hermana de la exministra Cristina Alberdi involucrada de lleno en el proyecto desde Estados Unidos, el Gobierno socialista se volcó de lleno en la organización. Pronto llegó la creación de ONU-Mujeres, una nueva agencia que englobaría Unifem y otros tres fondos y organismos que en Naciones Unidas se dedicaban a asuntos relacionados con la promoción de las mujeres, y con la que España contribuyó en 2010 ofreciéndoles otros 35,18 millones de euros, una cantidad que duplica la aportación hecha por Noruega, el segundo país que más dinero invertía en el proyecto (17,2 millones de euros anuales).

En 2011, el último año en el que Zapatero se mantuvo en el poder, España siguió imbatible en el Top One de los países más comprometidos con los proyectos de igualdad de género de la ONU. Esta vez, con la crisis ya de lleno azotando a los españoles, la aportación del Ejecutivo central superó los 20 millones de euros, once millones más que la cantidad que abonó Reino Unido y Noruega.
Lluvia de millones mientras la crisis se agudizaba

Con el ministerio de Igualdad desaparecido del organigrama oficial del Ejecutivo desde octubre de 2010, Bibiana Aído dejó su cargo como secretaria de Estado en junio de 2011 para trabajar codo con codo con la expresidenta de Chile. Muchos relacionan este ‘fichaje’ como medida compensatoria a la abultada cantidad de subvenciones que el Gobierno socialista entregó durante seis años consecutivos al proyecto estadounidense y que ahora solventaría colocando a la gaditana en un puesto bien remunerado (unos cien mil euros anuales) en Nueva York.

Tras la caída del PSOE del Ejecutivo central tras las elecciones del 20-N, los presupuestos del 2012 guardaron 9,2 millones de euros más para el proyecto que trabaja Bibiana Aído en Nueva York. Por ahora, el Ejecutivo de Mariano Rajoy todavía no ha abonado ni un solo euro de lo prometido.

Click here to read this in full @ El Confidencial : http://www.elconfidencial.com/espana/2012/10/17/el-gobierno-de-zapatero-dono-200-millones-a-onu-mujeres-antes-del-fichaje-de-bibiana-aido-107164/

Market Indicators turn decidedly Bearish

Sentiment Indicators and Technical Indicators turn Bearish:

Both sets of Indicators turned Bearish, indicating markets are not accurately pricing-in risk. Technical Indicators reached the lowest levels since early 2011. Sentiment Indicators have been Bearish for months though we have seen worse levels (see chart).  However, the combination of both Sentiment and Technical Indicators turning Bearish is what motivated us to publish this warning.

We believe now is a good time to take profits and adjust portfolio tax losses against capital gains. There is a high probability for the market to rise between now and January due to seasonal factors. For example, tax-loss selling usually ends by mid-December (maybe earlier this year as investors worry over changes to tax rates) and employees typically add to 401K/IRAs in January.
However, our charts are measures of risk and we believe risk is high, despite what the markets decide to do. Risk is high, not only for Equities but other investments/vehicles including commodities (oil, etc.) and High Yield corporate bonds.  The combination of a near-record high level of bond issuance, record-low bond yields and use of covenant-light structures give us further pause.


Markets are not pricing-in fundamentals.  We believe that markets are efficient most of the time, but not all. Presently, markets are not pricing in the U.S. Fiscal Cliff (deadline: 12/31/12). Nor is it pricing in a resurgence of the Euro-Crisis. While we agree that certain countries (Ireland) and the European Central Bank ("ECB") have made efforts to contain the Crisis, the fact is that the large "core" Euro-Zone countries (e.g., France, Germany) are only now witnessing slowing economic growth. We believe risks will shift from the periphery to the core Euro-Zone countries as the ECB continues to aggressively support banks through cheap loans (i.e, more debt!) and sovereign bond purchases. A more recent, but not executed proposal would be to create a Fiscal union in the Euro-zone, which of course would be steered by the French and Germans. We are not so sure the Italians would like that!

Sentiment Chart:  It became moderately Bearish when the index declined below 5 earlier this year.  (Note: Refer to Background Information (below) to determine how we read the indicators.)

Technical Chart is below.  It became Bearish recently, as of 12/21/12.  We consider Bearish readings those that are below -2%.

As a long-term investor, I believe the time for Socially Responsible Investing is now…right NOW.  Long-term investors are not concerned over the current level of the stock market and whether the Market’s going to rise or fall the next day.

I propose investors be “fully invested” in equities most of the time.  Being “fully-invested” is different for different people depending on age, risk tolerance, etc.  As a Heuristic, I suggest being 75% long equities as a “base-case” level.  The remainder would be invested in bonds, real-estate, hard assets, and alternative/exotic investments (e.g., natural gas, platinum, rare-earth anyone?).

With that being said, there are certain times that are better to invest in the market.  Rather than choosing tops and bottoms based on certain fundamental criteria (e.g. price to earnings ratio), I have developed two Market Timing Indicators.  These indicators help me maintain objectivity with regards to my investment positions, as I have no influence on them.  They were designed during late 1992 and have been updated weekly since.

The two major indicators are:

1.    Sentiment:  based on human behavior, and supported by theories backed by Behavioral Finance. 

2.    Technical:  which measures market breadth, or underlying strength in the broad market.

These indicators are used to obtain my Portfolio's Investment Position.  Note, they do not know, or represent market levels.  They are measures of perceived risk, especially the Sentiment Indicators.  I have often taken mental notes of how everyone seems to clamor to buy things when their expected rate of returns are minimal compared to their inherent risks. 

This website will include three simple colored (traffic) signals.  Green for “Buy” (i.e, low-risk levels) which means allocate your portfolio to a fully-invested equity position.  For me, that’s about 75-80% invested, but it could be lower for a more-risk adverse, or retired individual.  Yellow, means caution, risk levels rising.  Red means “High-Risk”; investors should reduce their investment positions to conservative levels perhaps 30-40% equity.  The remainder could be in treasuries, gold, high-grade corporate bonds, etc.

Pakistan government is not capable to manage foreign aid projects - allows UNDP/UNOPS to charge 16.5% for every $$ as a fee

Click here to read this in full @ UNDP Pakistan: http://undp.org.pk/a-memorandum-of-understanding-signed-by-the-federal-judicial-academy-and-the-united-nations-development-programme-undp-un-office-for-project-services-unops-by-the-legal-empowerment-of-the-poor-programme.html

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today between the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) organized by the Legal Empowerment of the Poor (LEP) programme. The Honorable Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Mr. Justice Nasir ul Mulk was the chief guest. The event was attended by senior judges from the superior courts, UN officials and media.
Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk , Honorable Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan; Pervaiz Chawla, Director General of Federal Judicial Academy; Jean-Luc Stalon, Country Director (a.i.) UNDP; Mikko Laienjoki, Country Director UNOPS
The event is a landmark achievement for UNDP and the Federal Judicial Academy since it is for the first time that the FJA signed the MoU with a development agency. This agreement between the two parties would formally shape the partnership in areas of policy engagement, infrastructure and IT support, capacity building and research and advocacy. For UNDP, this agreement represents a complete plan of action for modernizing the judicial academies and transforming them into centers of excellence.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Jean Luc Stalon, Country Director (a.i.) UNDP said, “We see this as an investment in the future of the entire justice system in Pakistan. It reflects our faith in the ability of this system to meet the expectations of the poor and vulnerable citizens of this country. It reflects our trust in the Federal Judicial Academy to lead the way toward this vision.”

In his Keynote Address, Mr. Pervaiz Chawla, Director General of FJA said, “The goals sought by the LEP Programme are in complete alignment with the vision of the Federal Judicial Academy. LEP seeks to improve access to justice for the poor and vulnerable which is our very raison d’être.”

The LEP programme was initiated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and implemented by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), to support the ongoing efforts of the justice sector service delivery. LEP is part of UNDP Pakistan’s broader agenda for the Rule of Law and Access to Justice and intends to work in 37 districts across all provinces for improving justice sector service delivery for the poor and vulnerable, working closely with the judiciary, bar councils, prosecution, ombudsmen offices and prisons. The programme aims to secure the delivery of legal rights and services by key institutions to the vulnerable segments of society, in parallel to creating demand and awareness amongst the right holders. .

Click here to read this in full @ UNDP Pakistan: http://undp.org.pk/a-memorandum-of-understanding-signed-by-the-federal-judicial-academy-and-the-united-nations-development-programme-undp-un-office-for-project-services-unops-by-the-legal-empowerment-of-the-poor-programme.html

New UN climate ploy: Institutionalize payments for still-unspecified 'loss and damage'

by George Russell,

Click here to read this is full @ Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/12/19/new-un-climate-ploy-institutionalize-payments-for-still-unspecified-loss-and/#ixzz2FelKtec2

The United Nations is pushing for a novel way to get billions of extra dollars from Western nations by imposing a retroactive penalty for still-unspecified losses and damages that can be laid at the doorstep of rich countries for their longstanding production of greenhouse gases.

The notion was vigorously opposed by the U.S. at the talks, which concluded in Doha on Dec. 8 -- even though the U.S. has never ratified the Protocol. But that did not stop the assembly of more than 195 nations from rolling the idea forward to their next meeting, in Warsaw next December.

In the meantime, the Kyoto parties are calling for more research “to further the understanding of and expertise on loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.”

In other words, the Protocol nations do not yet even know how exactly to define the loss and damage concept, especially the sort associated with “slow-onset” change associated with rising seas and desertification. Yet in their final resolution on the topic they underlined that “the lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as reason for postponing action.”


UNDP throws more $$CASH$$ into voter registration in Yemen - if anything goes wrong - please don't blame UNDP (as usual)

Click here to read this in full @ Reliefweb: http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/united-nations-development-programme-reconfirms-its-strong-commitment-and-support

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reconfirms its strong commitment and support to the transitional process through its continued support to Yemen’s update to the Voter Registry, Constitutional Referendum and post-Referendum elections by the signing of an agreement in the amount of 27 million SEK (approximately US $4 million) with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for the implementation of the Support to the Elections during the Transitional Period (SETP) project in Yemen. The agreements were exchanged on Monday, December 17, 2012 by the Ambassador of Sweden, Senior Country Director of UNDP, the Vice-Chairman of the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referenda (SCER), and the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation at the latter’s office.

The SETP project aims to support the planning and administration of voter registration, the constitutional referendum, and remaining elections of the transitional period; to support inclusive electoral legal framework reform and to increase participation of civil society, political parties, women, youth and persons with disabilities in electoral processes.

“Sweden is now the first contributor for the preparation of voter registration efforts and the coming referendum" said Gustavo Gonzalez, UNDP Yemen Senior Country Director, who led the UNDP delegation. Stressing on the importance of the electoral reforms for fair and impartial elections, “If the National Dialogue is at the heart of the transitional process, elections are what sustains its beat. Elections bring political legitimacy and inclusiveness. Sustainable development in Yemen is unthinkable without a strong democracy. This is why UNDP is strongly investing in elections.”

Joe Torsella of USUN admits failure: "United Nations is at 8.6% overbudget"

By next December the budget achievement of last year could disappear & we'll have returned to business as usual. A net 8.6% increase. 

Breaking News: UNDP is studying the possibility of offering post-disaster assistance to Rockaways County in New York


Click here for this story in full (video) : http://vimeo.com/55647072

For One Day on Earth 12.12.12 Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, toured the Rockaways in New York City to see first hand the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. She visited homes that have been made unlivable due to the onset of mould and that are being rebuilt by Respond and Rebuild a small volunteer group working in the area.

Face of the Day (Helen Clark)

Courtesy of Whale Oil Beef Hooked: http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/tag/helen-clark/

Secretary-General returns to $2.9 Million dollar "eco-friendly" office.

Click here for this in full at UN DPI: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43790&Cr=secretary-general&Cr1=#.UNE5v4XK49A



Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right), accompanied by Chef de Cabinet Susana Malcorra, returning to his usual office at the completion of renovation. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Leaked UN/IPCC Report Predicts ‘Irreversible’ Climate Change

Click here to read this in full @ ENS News Service: http://ens-newswire.com/2012/12/17/leaked-un-report-predicts-irreversible-climate-change/

WASHINGTON, DC, December 17, 2012 (ENS) – A leaked early draft of the UN’s latest climate change study shows human activities to be responsible for climate warming that will take centuries to reverse, even if greenhouse gas emissions were to stop right now.

“Many aspects of climate change will persist for centuries even if concentrations of greenhouse gases are stabilised. This represents a substantial multi-century commitment created by human activities today,” states the draft report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Blogger Alec Rawls leaked the draft on his website: www.stopgreensuicide.com.

Environment News Service (http://s.tt/1xdq0)

While America is mourning the Newtown's tragedy: Ban Ki-moon gets an armored vehicle made-in Korea

Click here to read this in full @ Motor Authority: http://www.motorauthority.com/image/100413217_un-secretary-general-ban-ki-moon-checks-out-his-armored-hyundai-equus--image-hyundai

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon checks out his armored Hyundai Equus - image: Hyundai


UN Gateway (another one) to UN's work on climate change

(Doha, 8 December 2012) At the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar (COP18/CMP8), governments have taken the next essential step in the global response to climate change. Countries have successfully launched a new commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, agreed a firm timetable to adopt a universal climate agreement by 2015 and agreed a path to raise necessary ambition to respond to climate change. They also endorsed the completion of new institutions and agreed ways and means to deliver scaled-up climate finance and technology to developing countries.
“Doha has opened up a new gateway to bigger ambition and to greater action – the Doha Climate Gateway.  Qatar is proud to have been able to bring governments here to achieve this historic task. I thank all governments and ministers for their work to achieve this success. Now governments must move quickly through the Doha Climate Gateway to push forward with the solutions to climate change,” said COP President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah.

Click here for full access @ :  http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/climatechange/pages/gateway/the-negotiations/template/news_item.jsp?cid=37700

NyTimes: Doha: Weirdly Tame and Dispirited

Click here for this in full @ NyTimes: http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/doha-weirdly-tame-and-dispirited/

The annual United Nations climate change negotiations this year in Doha, which wrapped up on Dec. 8, seemed weirdly tame and dispirited. There was minimal press coverage and, as Jennifer Haverkamp of the Environmental Defense Fund observed, there were “no people in polar bear suits, no passionate youth doing skits, no melting ice sculptures—no real infusion of energy.”  There was also no solid agreement on how to confront the threat of global warming by slowing the seemingly inexorable rise of heat-trapping emissions or by helping poor nations mitigate the inevitable damage or, preferably, both. That was not weird. These conferences have not produced a binding document since the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which was itself flawed because it asked nothing of big developing nations, and, partly for that reason, was never ratified by the United States Congress.

Nicholas Stern comments on outcome of United Nations climate change summit in Doha

Click here for this in full @: http://www2.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/Media/Releases/2012/MR071212-nicholas-stern-climate-change-summit-doha-outcome.aspx

Saturday 7 December 2012
Commenting on the outcome today (7 December) of the United Nations climate change summit at Doha, Qatar, Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“The Doha Gateway Package represents modest but important progress from last year’s summit in Durban, which set out the principles of an international agreement in 2015 for action by both rich and developing countries to tackle climate change. Doha has laid out a work programme through which countries can reach agreement in 2015. The decisions taken in Durban and Doha both take into account that although rich countries, with 1 billion people, have been responsible for the bulk of historical emissions of greenhouse gases, developing countries, with 6 billion people, now emit about half the annual total, based on either consumption or production. It is vital that all countries reduce emissions and that rich countries take a lead in both creating low-carbon growth for themselves and in supporting developing countries to find a new and sustainable approach to growth, development and poverty reduction.

Joint Press Conference with Helen Clark in Iraq

Kaarina Immonen of Finland Deputy Special Representative for Central African Republic

Secretary-General Appoints Kaarina Immonen of Finland Deputy Special

Representative for Central African Republic

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Kaarina Immonen of Finland as his Deputy Special Representative in the Central African Republic.  Ms. Immonen will also serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator.

She succeeds Bo Schack of Denmark, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his long and continuing service to the Organization, and his commitment to peace consolidation and stability in the Central African Republic.  The Secretary-General would also like to extend his gratitude to Modibo Touré for his contribution to United Nations efforts in his capacity as Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. in that country.

Ms. Immonen brings more than 16 years of experience in conflict prevention and recovery, development and field operations management to her new position.  Prior to her latest appointment, she served in various capacities at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), including United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Republic of Moldova, from 2007 to 2012.

She was UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in the Russian Federation and held a similar position in Georgia.  Having started her career as a Junior Professional Officer in the Congo, she went on to other UNDP assignments in Viet Nam, Rwanda, Kenya and Cambodia.

Ms. Immonen holds a master’s degree in political science and international relations from the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

Green Activists Close To Despair After UN Climate Confab

Click here for this in full @: http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/home/10808-green-activists-close-to-despair-after-un-climate-confab

Doha Climate Summit Ends In Disgrace 

At the end of another lavishly-funded U.N. conference that yielded no progress on curbing greenhouse emissions, many of those most concerned about climate change are close to despair. --Barbara Lewis and Alister Doyle, Reuters, 9 December 2012

The United Nations climate talks in Doha went a full extra 24 hours and ended without increased cuts in fossil fuel emissions and without financial commitments between 2013 and 2015. However, this is a "historic" agreement, insisted Qatar's Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the COP18 president. --Inter Press Service, 10 December 2012

Climate negotiators at the most recent conference on global warming were unable to reduce expectations fast enough to match the collapse of their agenda. The only real winners here were the bureaucrats in the diplomacy industry for whom endless rounds of carbon spewing conferences with no agreement year after year mean jobs, jobs, jobs. The inexorable decline of the climate movement from its Pickett’s Charge at the Copenhagen summit continues. The global green lobby is more flummoxed than ever. These people and these methods couldn’t make a ham sandwich, much less save Planet Earth. –Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest, 9 December 2012

UN chief errs again on climate change

Click here for this in full @: http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/12/14/un-chief-errs-again-on-climate-change

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon often makes serious climate science mistakes. However, his December 5th statements at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar set a new low even for the UN chief.

“The climate change phenomenon has been caused by the industrialization of the developed world,” said Ban. “It’s only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility.” “Climate change is happening much, much faster than one would understand,” he added. “The science has plainly made it clear: it is the human beings’ behaviour which caused climate change, therefore the solution must come from us.” Ban is wrong on all counts.

The United Kingdom’s Met Office announced recently that there has been no overall warming, or cooling, of the planet for 16 years. As the November 29th open letter to the Secretary General from 134 experts “qualified in climate-related matters” explained, “Whether, when and how atmospheric warming will resume is unknown. The science is unclear. Some scientists point out that near-term natural cooling, linked to variations in solar output, is also a distinct possibility.”

Stanford talk by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

By Sarah L. Bhatia

Click here for this in full @:  http://aparc.stanford.edu/news/un/

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will present a free public talk at Stanford on Thursday, Jan. 17.

Ban, who is the eighth secretary-general of the UN, will speak about the UN's role in creating opportunities out of the challenges posed by today's rapidly transitioning world.
"Times of transition are times of profound opportunity," he recently said during his acceptance speech for the Seoul Peace Prize. "The decisions we make in this period will have an impact for generations to come.”

Ban's initiatives as UN secretary-general have focused on promoting sustainable development; empowering women; supporting countries in crisis or instability; generating new momentum on disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation; and strengthening the UN. Among his many activities as secretary-general, he has successfully raised major pledges and financing packages for aid and crisis response, established the agency UN Women, and introduced new measures to promote UN transparency and efficiency.

Ban Ki-moon is pro Lesbian and Gay Community, makes it clear in a twitter

UNDP Senegal: post 2015 Development Framework

UNDP: Statement by the United Nations Development Programme, on post-2015 development framework to take shape in Senegal

Click here for this in full @: http://www.polity.org.za/article/undp-statement-by-the-united-nations-development-programme-on-post-2015-development-framework-to-take-shape-in-senegal-11122012-2012-12-11

Representatives from government, regional and international bodies, the private sector and civil society from across Africa are gathering today in Dakar to discuss top priorities to be included in the global development framework beyond 2015, which will be debated at the UN General Assembly in September 2013.

While efforts continue across Africa to achieve the time-bound Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), this two-day forum is part of unprecedented consultations to build a collective vision, to be endorsed by African Ministers and ratified by Heads of State at the African Union’s May 2013 Summit.

Christmas Trees: What Would Jesus Do?

- by Maryann Khinda

Is sacrificing trees for decoration rather than consumption ethically and morally responsible?  Is this act frivolous and wasteful?  Would Jesus approve?  Or are there hidden merits to cutting down Christmas trees?  In light of our socially responsible efforts, we would like to explore the pros and cons of purchasing a real vs. artificial Christmas tree this holiday season to see where the pine needles lead us.

 There are many views and thoughts on having a “real” Christmas tree. Besides the beautiful décor and terrific nostalgic smell, freshly cut Christmas trees provide additional oxygen and consume carbon dioxide in the immediate air of their surroundings.  As per Green America, Tree farms typically use barren un-farmable or rocky land to raise their Christmas trees and grow two trees to every one tree cut.  This is a sustainable method of using the land and a true benefit to having a “real” tree.

Ah, but the cons outweigh the pros.  Why do any trees need to be cut?  We are killing trees, living specimens, for a tradition...?  Here lies nothing but selfish human gain in the act of cutting down trees.  We bring these trees into our homes for a few weeks, decorate them and then use additional electricity to light them.  This is absolutely wasteful!  And not socially responsible?  After the holidays are over, the trees typically wind-up in landfills.  Most Christmas trees are brought from these mass tree farms that use pesticides.  These pesticides are in the air in your home.  If your pet drinks from the tree’s bowl, it could get sick.  Trees even breed mold, which is unhealthy to breathe and creates allergies.

We are not asking you to give up your tradition.  There are alternatives: the United Kingdom has found a unique method which we approve and give two thumbs up for as 100% sustainable – renting potted Christmas trees.  During the holiday season, customers can rent a potted freshly pruned and trimmed Christmas tree.  When the season is over, the tree will be returned and replanted until the next season.  Brilliant!  No waste!

There are also SERFs, Socially and Environmentally Responsible Farms, which raise organic Christmas trees.  Organic trees are free of harmful pesticides.  At this time SERFs are only common in the Northwest.  Please see their sitefor further details.
 If you must have a “real” Christmas tree this season, we strongly urge you to adhere to the many recycling efforts available.  Most local governments and municipalities participate in tree curbside pickups for compost and mulching.  If this is not available, there are other great ideas that are sustainable. Using your tree for firewood has mixed reviews – please make sure you do this correctly as you could ruin your chimney (see this page for details on the dangers).  There is always the easy option of throwing the tree into your backyard for your own composting.  This will, in time, improve your own garden.  Mother Earth News gives a few great suggestions:  in the winter, you can use the tree branches to protect your delicate garden and use the trunk as a post or bench.  You could also throw the tree in your lake or pond – the wildlife will thrive.

The other option is buying an “artificial” or plastic Christmas tree.  Artificial trees can be reused year after year, without waste as a whole, but these trees cannot be recycled further due to their iron and plastic structure (though there are other materials used, e.g., aluminum).  Also they contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and the production process may use a small amount of lead.  While the risk of lead poisoning is low, it increases as trees age. Though recent regulations have made trees safer.

In conclusion, we find freshly cut Christmas trees not to be as socially responsible as some of the alternatives, such as renting or purchasing potted or artificial Christmas trees.   As we like to present other opinions, Justmeans, a Sustainability website, did a write-up (Sustainability and Christmas Trees: Let's Get Real) not too long ago stating real trees are the way to go.  If you must have a freshly cut tree, please utilize one of the recycling methods above to retain some sustainability.  Happy Holidays!

SRI, Socially Responsible trees, sustainability, Green Christmas trees. 

Immediate Research Assistant Opening - Human Rights Work

Professor Haynes seeks a Research Assistant (volunteer or work study eligible) immediately to conduct human rights research on Bosnia, to be completed by January 5.   Interested applicants should send a short email to Professor Haynes at dhaynes@nesl.edu by Saturday, December 16, 2012.

Ban Ki-moon needs translation...when uncle Helen speaks at Doha

Scotland will give $$$ to Malawi thru UNDP to provide "Energy for All"

Electric Light & Power
People in Malawi and other developing countries will have better access to clean energy thanks to action by Scotland and the United Nations. Scotland's Sustainable Energy for All partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) will deliver ...

Leadership Academy for Muslim Women

Leadership Academy for Muslim Women
The Nation
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Social Development and Human Security Ministry will officially launch the innovative new programme at 2pm, with a joint partnership signing. Of the roughly 7,000 political positions in villages and ...

UNDP to give $144 Million for rural Burma

UNDP confirms 3-year plan for rural Burma
Mizzima News
UNDP-logo The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is to implement a three-year new program in Burma providing US $144 million for various projects, many of which are scheduled to be initiated in rural and border areas, state-run media reported ...

State of denial: the UN and the protection of its whistleblowers

Click here to read this @ UN Justice: http://unjustice.org/news121.htm

7 December 2012

UNJustice has learned with grave concern and sense of shock that the UN Secretary-General, through the UN Legal Counsel, H.E. Ms. Patricia O’Brien, has just lodged a cross-appeal to the United Nations Appeal Tribunal (UNAT) seeking to have 16 paragraphs (numbers 60-76) of a United Nations Dispute Tribunal (UNDT) ruling redacted. On 12 July 2012, a landmark UNDT ruling suggested that former UN staffer Ms. Vesna Dzuverovic suffered retaliation and “RECOMMEND[ed her case] to the Secretary-General for sympathetic review with a view to bringing substantive justice and closure to it” [para. 74 UNDT/2012/105, original emphasis].
The UNDT also tried to send a very important message to the Secretary-General about the importance of effectively upholding the UN whistleblowing policy, noting that, exceptionally in this case:
“This recommendation is made bearing in mind the special measures that have been put in place with regards to the protection of whistleblowers who risk their jobs, professional lives and livelihoods by courageously seeking to expose wrong-doings within the Organization.
The United Nations, being the foremost international Organization for setting standards for governments and other organizations, needs to review the case of this Applicant as this will serve not only the ends of justice but also to reassure whistleblowers that they are indeed protected” [paras. 75 and 76 UNDT/2012/105].
Following these findings, on 7 September 2012, Ms. Dzuverovic wrote to the Secretary-General pleading for the UNDT recommendation to be accepted and to be provided with a remedy. However, her letter received no reply and she had no option but to reiterate her request through a formal appeal to the UNAT.
The position of the Secretary-General is incomprehensible. The UN whistleblowing policy is a major element of the UN reform agenda and a first step in preventing retaliation is its recognition.
Last year, on 14 October 2011, following a film screening of "The Whistleblower" at the U.N. Headquarters, the Secretary-General declared that “[the film] underscores how important it is to speak out against abuse or injustice... Those who do so, in good faith, must not be punished ... We need to promote a culture in which people feel free and obliged to raise their voices in the face of wrongdoing and abuse."
Surprisingly, the cross-appeal now lodged by the Secretary-General constitutes an alarming backtracking of the UN whistleblowing policy which goes exactly in the opposite direction of the UNDT recommendation, sending the wrong message that protection of UN whistleblowers should not exist and impunity should be offered to all those who may choose to victimise or retaliate against fellow UN colleagues who have made credible allegations of misconduct.