Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 30/08/13

Massenbach-Letter

Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen.

Martina Jung: “Made in America – The Shale Gas Revolution” (download)

Massenbach* New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo Claims *
He Needs More Facts Before Allowing Fracking

August 26, 2013

WASHINGTON – When major policy decisions are driven by science, you would think that when the scientists settle an issue policy-makers take their cues from them and adjust their policies on the basis of their findings. This is the beauty of science. It is about facts. Of course, scientific knowledge evolves. There is no “final truth” about most issues. We know all that.

Science based policies

Still, usually when there is an overwhelming body of evidence leading in one direction, policy follows in that direction. Well, this is not the case when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the technology now used across the United States to extract precious natural gas trapped in shale formations.

Here are some key facts. While fracking is still opposed by die-hard environmentalists, scientists who have looked into this practice have concluded that it is safe, provided that energy companies follow best industry practices in designing and operating their wells. While there have been numerous instances of accidents, there is no evidence that they are due to an inherently dangerous technology. The consensus is that they are due to inexperienced practitioners, just like car accidents occur because of bad drivers and not on account on inherently unsafe vehicles. Indeed, after more than a decade of fracking, no one has come up with conclusive, science-based evidence that properly executed fracking causes damages.

Well, this science-based conclusion has shaped policies across the United States. State authorities, first and foremost the various environmental protection agencies, while eager to keep an eye on the fracking industry under their jurisdictions, have not indicated that they intend to ban it on account of any threat to the environment.

At a national level, President Obama, usually no great friend of fossil fuels, has recognized the immense value of additional natural gas supplies recovered now thanks to fracking. The Federal Government will soon issue guidelines for fracking that will take place on Federal Lands.

This science does not apply in NY State

Well, if this is so, then something really extraordinary must be going on in New York State. You see, Western New York State shares the same geology of Easter Pennsylvania. The large Marcellus Shale cuts across both states. Plenty of recoverable shale gas in PA and probably an equal amount in Western New York. The huge difference is that in PA there is a thriving fracking industry, while in New York State there is nothing, on account to a moratorium imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The reason (read excuse) for the moratorium is that NY State needs more data/information about the possible damage that may be caused by fracking to the environment, to the aquifer, and what not. While one should commend Governor Cuomo for not diving too fast, unless his science/environment advisors know something that the rest of America does not know, it is rather obvious that this is all about politics. For more than ten years Cuomo’s colleagues have endorsed fracking, while he still hesitates, claiming he does not have all the facts. What is it, is there an invisible barrier that prevents knowledge from getting into New York State?

It is all about politics

The hard truth is that Governor Cuomo has to deal with a much more vociferous environmental movement. And he needs their votes. Therefore he will not antagonize these grass-roots organizations vehemently opposed to fossil fuels by allowing fracking, something they are dead against on ideological grounds.

Alright, so the whole thing is about politics. We can understand that. But what is truly disingenuous is for the Governor of a major state to disguise a political problem as ”scientific research”.

Science does not cross state borders?

As a result of this laughable travesty, we are confronted with this rather bizarre picture. The science about fracking that applies in Eastern PA does not apply in Western NY. The science driven policies followed by the State Government in Harrisburg do not apply to the policies shaped in Albany.

Yes, in 21st Century America, believe or not, scientific knowledge does not cross state borders.

http://schirachreport.com/index.php/2013/08/26/new-york-state-governor-andrew-cuomo-claims-he-needs-more-facts-before-allowing-fracking/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SchirachReport+%28Schirach+Report%29

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Policy = res publica

Bärbel Freudenberg-PilsterFreudenberg-Pilster* Interview-Gate:
Warum die „Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung“ ein Gespräch mit Renate Künast nicht ins Blatt hob

Ob „Süddeutsche“, „taz“, „Handelsblatt“, kürzlich die „Welt“ und gerade erst die „Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung“ – wer Gespräche mit Politikern, Managern oder Sportlern führt, mit Menschen, die in der Öffentlichkeit stehen, kommt nicht umhin, sich ab einem gewissen Punkt die Frage zu stellen, wofür gibt es eigentlich noch Wortlaut-Interviews?

Berlin – Wofür eigentlich die ganze Mühe machen, Fragen im Vorfeld erarbeiten, Zeit nehmen, wenn dem Gesprächspartner am Ende doch die im Interview getätigten Formulierungen nicht, dafür die Sätze des eigenen Referenten umso besser gefallen?

Klar ist, Leser freuen sich, wenn es „ihrer“ Zeitung gelingt, auch einmal einen großen Namen aus der Politik für ein Interview zu gewinnen; garniert mit einem Foto, das im Zeitungshaus entstanden ist, bei dem vielleicht noch der Verleger und die Redakteure abgebildet werden, dokumentiert umso mehr, dass die Zeitung ihre Aufgabe im Auftrage des Lesers gut und vernünftig wahrnimmt.

Michael Klein hat auf die Veröffentlichung eines bereits geführten Interviews mit Renate Künast verzichtet: „Da standen plötzlich Sätze drin, die Frau Künast so nie gesagt hatte“. Foto: mittelhessen.de

Alexander Marinos, stellvertretender Chefredakteur des „Bonner General-Anzeigers“, hat für seine Zeitung und für die „Kölnische Rundschau“ den aktuellsten Fall von Autorisierungs-Wahn aufgegriffen.

Die „Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung“ hatte kürzlich die Grünen-Fraktionschefin Renate Künast zu Gast in der Redaktion. Das Gespräch sei munter verlaufen, schildert Marinos, als es aber von der Pressestelle der Fraktion zurückgesandt worden sei, sei es „glattgebügelt“ gewesen. Marinos zitiert WNZ-Nachrichtenchef Michael Klein: „Da standen plötzlich Sätze drin, die Frau Künast so nie gesagt hatte“.

Die Lokalzeitung (erscheint mit weiteren Lokaltiteln in der Zeitungsgruppe Lahn-Dill, größte Tageszeitung Mittelhessens) lehnte die Veröffentlichung des Interviews ab. Dabei zeigte die Redaktion eine klare Haltung, sie verzichtete lieber auf ein Promi-Gespräch im Wahlkampf als ihre eigenen Werte zu verkaufen.

Gegenüber dem „Bonner General-Anzeiger“ mochte die Grünen-Fraktion die Kritik der Lokalzeitung aber nicht verstehen: „Das Interview der WNZ mit Renate Künast enthielt in der Fassung der Redaktion eine ganze Reihe von unzutreffenden Behauptungen und Unterstellungen der Fragesteller, ohne dass diese in Künasts Antworten zurechtgerückt oder eingeordnet wurden“, heißt es in einer Stellungnahme, die Newsroom.de vorliegt.

Warum die Aussagen von Renate Künast so massiv verändert wurden, wird dort so erklärt: “ Umgekehrt ist es ebenso legitim, wenn der Interviewte die Autorisierung nutzt, Antworten zu korrigieren bzw. zu präzisieren, die andernfalls dazu geeignet wären, Missverständnisse zu erzeugen oder gar den Sinn seiner Äußerungen ins Gegenteil zu verkehren. Die Verhinderung solcher Missverständnisse ist gerade der Sinn der Autorisierungspraxis.“

Klein widerspricht. Dem „General-Anzeiger“ sagte der erfahrene Politik-Journalist: „Ein Interview ist keine Pressemitteilung. Der Kern dessen, was gesagt wurde, muss erhalten bleiben.“

Wie es auch anders gehen kann, hat kürzlich mein Kollege Markus Wiegand, Chefredakteur des ebenfalls im Medienfachverlag Oberauer erscheinenden „Schweizer Journalist“, beschrieben. Markus Spillmann, Chefredakteur der „Neuen Zürcher Zeitung“, hatte auf die Autorisierung eines langen Titelinterviews verzichtet. Wiegand: „Ich bin gespannt, ob andere seinem Beispiel folgen. Die Gesprächspartner würden damit in einer Welt risikoloser Blabla-Aussagen ein Risiko eingehen. Das Ergebnis allerdings wäre wahrhaftiger als vieles von dem, was Manager, Politiker, Sportler und Künstler Tag für Tag in der Presse absondern. Es ist nur so: Die absolute Kontrolle ist ihnen allen lieber als ein bisschen mehr Wahrhaftigkeit.“

In der deutschen Bundespolitik werden wir auf diesen Mut wohl noch länger warten müssen.

http://www.newsroom.de/news/detail/%24HVKWISJRLRLP

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Politics: From Vision to Action
Barandat*

US, China Conduct Counter Piracy Exercise

Story Number: NNS130825-01Release Date: 8/25/2013 12:44:00 PM * By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rob Aylward, USS Mason Public Affairs

GULF OF ADEN (NNS) — The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) participated in a counter piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden with elements of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Navy) (PLA(N)), Aug. 24-25.

Mason joined Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) and Chinese auxiliary replenishment oiler Weishanhu (AO 887) to conduct a series of evolutions including combined visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), live-fire proficiency, and aviation operations to enhance bilateral interoperability in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

„The U.S. Navy and People’s Liberation Army (Navy) share a common interest in preserving legitimate mariners‘ access to, and secure use of, the maritime domain by deterring, disrupting and suppressing piracy,“ said Vice Adm. John Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces. „Both regional and global security environments call for practical cooperation between navies, and this exercise demonstrates a cooperative effort by the U.S. and China to address common maritime security challenges.“

The Chinese oiler played the role of a pirated vessel as VBSS teams from both Mason and Harbin performed two boardings as a combined unit. The U.S.-Chinese team successfully completed the VBSS evolutions that included mock medical emergency and hostage scenarios.

„Watching U.S. and Chinese sailors working side by side was amazing,“ said Cmdr. Wilson Marks, Mason’s commanding officer. „We may come from different places and speak different languages, but at the end of the day, we all share a common interest in protecting the maritime domain.“

The ships applied synchronized maneuvering techniques during a live-fire exercise involving an inflatable target. Mason and Harbin successfully engaged the target with the 5-inch MK-45 lightweight gun and 3.9-inch ENG-2 deck gun.

U.S. and PLA(N) helicopters also conducted cross-deck landing qualifications. These were the first ever such exchanges in which the U.S. and Chinese forces practiced interoperability in a major exercise.

The two navies prepared for this event for months. The Commodore of the U.S. task force assigned with the planning and execution expressed how important and beneficial the training was.

„I am truly pleased with what we accomplished during this exercise. Our combined success demonstrated that our two navies can work together to achieve a common goal,“ said Capt. Joseph Naman, commander, Task Force 55. „Our partnership and cooperation are essential to stability in not only this region but globally as well.“

The first bilateral counter piracy exercise ever conducted between the U.S. and Chinese navies occurred near the Horn of Africa with USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) and PLA(N) frigate Yi Yang (FF 548), September 2012.

Mason is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, North Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.


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Suter* WSJ: Richard Vedder: The Real Reason College Costs So Much
The expert on the economics of higher education explains how subsidies fuel rising prices and
why there’s a ‚bubble‘ in student loans and college enrollment.

Another school year beckons, which means it’s time for President Obama to go on another college retreat. „He loves college tours,“ says Ohio University’s Richard Vedder, who directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. „Colleges are an escape from reality. Believe me, I’ve lived in one for half a century. It’s like living in Disneyland. They’re these little isolated enclaves of nonreality.“

Mr. Vedder, age 72, has taught college economics since 1965 and published papers on the likes of Scandinavian migration, racial disparities in unemployment and tax reform. Over the last decade he’s made himself America’s foremost expert on the economics of higher education, which he distilled in his 2004 book „Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much.“ His analysis isn’t the same as President Obama’s.

This week on his back-to-school tour of New York and Pennsylvania colleges, Mr. Obama presented a new plan to make college more affordable. „If the federal government keeps on putting more and more money in the system,“ he noted at the State University of New York at Buffalo on Thursday, and „if the cost is going up by 250%“ and „tax revenues aren’t going up 250%,“ at „some point, the government will run out of money.“

Note that for the record: Mr. Obama has admitted some theoretical limit to how much the federal government can spend.

His solution consists of tieing financial aid to college performance, using government funds as a „catalyst to innovation,“ and making it easier for borrowers to discharge their debts. „In fairness to the president, some of his ideas make some decent, even good sense,“ Mr. Vedder says, such as providing students with more information about college costs and graduation rates. But his plan addresses just „the tip of the iceberg. He’s not dealing with the fundamental problems.“

College costs have continued to explode despite 50 years of ostensibly benevolent government interventions, according to Mr. Vedder, and the president’s new plan could exacerbate the trend. By Mr. Vedder’s lights, the cost conundrum started with the Higher Education Act of 1965, a Great Society program that created federal scholarships and low-interest loans aimed at making college more accessible.

In 1964, federal student aid was a mere $231 million. By 1981, the feds were spending $7 billion on loans alone, an amount that doubled during the 1980s and nearly tripled in each of the following two decades, and is about $105 billion today. Taxpayers now stand behind nearly $1 trillion in student loans.

Meanwhile, grants have increased to $49 billion from $6.4 billion in 1981. By expanding eligibility and boosting the maximum Pell Grant by $500 to $5,350, the 2009 stimulus bill accelerated higher ed’s evolution into a middle-class entitlement. Fewer than 2% of Pell Grant recipients came from families making between $60,000 and $80,000 a year in 2007. Now roughly 18% do.

This growth in subsidies, Mr. Vedder argues, has fueled rising prices: „It gives every incentive and every opportunity for colleges to raise their fees.“

Many colleges, he notes, are using federal largess to finance Hilton-like dorms and Club Med amenities. Stanford offers more classes in yoga than Shakespeare. A warning to parents whose kids sign up for „Core Training“: The course isn’t a rigorous study of the classics, but rather involves rigorous exercise to strengthen the gluts and abs.

Enlarge Image

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Fred Harper

Or consider Princeton, which recently built a resplendent $136 million student residence with leaded glass windows and a cavernous oak dining hall (paid for in part with a $30 million tax-deductible donation by Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman). The dorm’s cost approached $300,000 per bed.

Universities, Mr. Vedder says, „are in the housing business, the entertainment business; they’re in the lodging business; they’re in the food business. Hell, my university runs a travel agency which ordinary people off the street can use.“

Meanwhile, university endowments don’t pay taxes on their income. Harvard’s $31 billion endowment, which has been financed by tax-deductible donations, may be America’s largest tax shelter.

Some college officials are also compensated more handsomely than CEOs. Since 2000, New York University has provided $90 million in loans, many of them zero-interest and forgivable, to administrators and faculty to buy houses and summer homes on Fire Island and the Hamptons.

Former Ohio State President Gordon Gee (who resigned in June after making defamatory remarks about Catholics) earned nearly $2 million in compensation last year while living in a 9,630 square-foot Tudor mansion on a 1.3-acre estate. The Columbus Camelot includes $673,000 in art decor and a $532 shower curtain in a guest bathroom. Ohio State also paid roughly $23,000 per month for Mr. Gee’s soirees and half a million for him to travel the country on a private jet. Such taxpayer-funded extravagance has not made its way into Mr. Obama’s speeches.

Colleges have also used the gusher of taxpayer dollars to hire more administrators to manage their bloated bureaucracies and proliferating multicultural programs. The University of California system employs 2,358 administrative staff in just its president’s office.

„Every college today practically has a secretary of state, a vice provost for international studies, a zillion public relations specialists,“ Mr. Vedder says. „My university has a sustainability coordinator whose main message, as far as I can tell, is to go out and tell people to buy food grown locally. . . . Why? What’s bad about tomatoes from Pennsylvania as opposed to Ohio?“

Mr. Vedder notes that, by contrast, „you don’t have to worry about this at the University of Phoenix. One thing about the for-profits is that they are laser-like devoted to instruction.“ Although for-profits like the University of Phoenix and DeVry spend more money on marketing, they don’t contain as much administrative overhead.

‚The Obama administration has been beating up on [for-profits] pretty hard for the past two to three years,“ Mr. Vedder says. „It’s true that drop-out rates are disproportionately higher at the for-profits, but it’s also true that the for-profits are reaching the exact audience that Obama wants to reach“—low-income minorities, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college.

Today, only about 7% of recent college grads come from the bottom-income quartile compared with 12% in 1970 when federal aid was scarce. All the government subsidies intended to make college more accessible haven’t done much for this population, says Mr. Vedder. They also haven’t much improved student outcomes or graduation rates, which are around 55% at most universities (over six years).

Mr. Vedder is skeptical about the president’s proposal to tie federal aid to graduation rates, among other performance metrics. „I can tell you right now, having taught at universities forever, that universities will do everything they can to get students to graduate,“ he chuckles. „If you think we have grade inflation now, you ought to think what will happen. If you breathe into a mirror and it fogs up, you’ll get an A.“

A better idea, Mr. Vedder suggests, would be to implement a national exam like the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) to measure how much students learn in college. This is not on Mr. Obama’s list.

Nor is the president addressing what Mr. Vedder believes is a fundamental problem: too many kids going to college. „Thirty-percent of the adult population has college degrees,“ he notes. „The Department of Labor tells us that only 20% or so of jobs require college degrees. We have 115,520 janitors in the United States with bachelor’s degrees or more. Why are we encouraging more kids to go to college?“

Mr. Vedder sees similarities between the government’s higher education and housing policies, which created a bubble and precipitated the last financial crisis. „In housing, we had artificially low interest rates. The government encouraged people with low qualifications to buy a house. Today, we have low interest rates on student loans. The government is encouraging kids to go to school who are unqualified just as it encouraged people to buy a home who are unqualified.“

The higher-ed bubble, he says, is „already in the process of bursting,“ which is reflected by all of the „unemployed or underemployed college graduates with big debts.“ The average student loan debt is $26,000, but many graduates, especially those with professional degrees, have six-figure balances.

Mr. Obama wants to help more students discharge their debts by capping their monthly payments at 10% of their discretionary income and forgiving their outstanding balances after 20 years. Grads who take jobs in government or at nonprofits already can discharge their debt after a decade.

„Somehow working for the private sector is bad and working for the public sector is good? I don’t see on what basis one would make that conclusion,“ Mr. Veder says. „If I had to make some judgment, I would do just the opposite.“

He adds that the president’s approach „creates a moral hazard problem. What it signals to current and future loan borrowers is that I don’t have to take these repayment of loans very seriously. . . . I don’t have to worry too much about getting a high-paying job.“ It encourages „sociology and anthropology majors compared with math and engineering majors.“

Can online education, which is being pioneered in some science disciplines, substantially reduce costs? Mr. Vedder says it can, but government won’t do the innovating. „First of all, the Department of Education, to use K-12 as an example, has been littered with demonstration projects, innovation projects, proposals for new ways to do things for decades. And what has come out? Are American students learning any more today than a generation ago? Are they doing so at lower cost than a generation ago? No.“

Innovation, he says, is being driven by entrepreneurs like Stanford computer science Prof. Sebastian Thrun, who founded the for-profit company Udacity that offers „massive open online courses“ (MOOCs). Mr. Thrun began teaching artificial intelligence, first at Stanford and then at Udacity. Mr. Vedder notes that he quickly got „200,000 people to sign up for it. And it’s a great course and people are learning like crazy.“

Where the government can help, Mr. Vedder says, is to get out of the way of progress and encourage slow-moving accreditors to allow innovations to move forward more rapidly. But ultimately, the way to improve college affordability is for the government to disinvest in higher ed and wean students from subsidies.

Mr. Obama is dead set against that. „He wants to maintain that world“ of nonreality in which demand is impervious to cost, Mr. Vedder sighs. „That world has to change.“

Ms. Finley is an editorial writer for the Journal.

A version of this article appeared August 23, 2013, on page A9 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Real Reason College Costs So Much.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324619504579029282438522674.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_h#

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Middle East

„Genauere Belege sind zwingend nötig“
Der Wissenschaftler Peter Rudolf spricht im Interview
über die völkerrechtlichen Schwierigkeiten eines militärischen Eingreifens in Syrien.

Herr Rudolf, die Reaktionen auf die mutmaßlichen Giftgasangriffe in Syrien kulminieren in dem Satz: Wir müssen doch etwas tun! Auf welcher völkerrechtlichen Basis könnten Militärangriffe gegen das Assad-Regime stattfinden?

Völkerrechtlich gedeckt wäre ein solches Eingreifen, wenn der Sicherheitsrat auf der Basis von Artikel 7 der UN-Charta mit einer Resolution alle Maßnahmen, also auch ein militärisches Eingreifen, autorisieren würde. Dagegen aber würden wohl Russland und China ihr Veto einlegen.

Und dann?

Befürworter eines Militäreinsatzes berufen sich auf die sogenannte Schutzverantwortung, die Responsibility to protect. Dabei handelt es sich aber um ein moralisch-politisches Prinzip, nicht um eine feste, völkerrechtliche Norm.

Was heißt das?

Das Schutzprinzip besagt, dass die internationale Gemeinschaft im Falle schwerster Menschenrechtsverletzungen die Verantwortung hat, einzugreifen, weil der Staat, auf dessen Territorium diese Menschenrechtsverletzungen passieren, nicht in der Lage ist, diese zu stoppen oder diese begeht.

Wer entscheidet, ob das zutrifft, oder wo und wann man eingreift?

Dafür gibt es keine festen Kriterien oder eine Entscheidungsinstanz, das kann jeder Staat selbst bestimmen. Aber noch einmal: Ohne ein Mandat des Sicherheitsrates ist die völkerrechtliche Grundlage fragwürdig, und es besteht ein Spannungsverhältnis zwischen dem Schutzprinzip und dem Völkerrecht.

Beinhaltet das Schutzprinzip nur ein militärisches Eingreifen?

Nein, es hat von seinem Ursprung her drei Dimensionen: Es geht erstens darum, Situationen zu verhindern, in denen es zu massenhaften Menschenrechtsverletzungen kommt. Zweitens sollen solche Verbrechen, wenn sie stattfinden, unterbunden werden – notfalls mit militärischen Mitteln, wenn etwa Sanktionen nicht wirken. Drittens erstreckt sich die Verantwortung auch auf den Wiederaufbau nach einem militärischen Eingreifen.

Bei Angriffen sterben Zivilisten. Wie verträgt sich das mit dem Schutz der Bevölkerung vor Menschenrechtsverletzungen?

Bei Anwendung des Prinzips gibt es zwangsläufig moralische Dilemmata. Wer militärisch eingreift, um Menschen vor Gewalt zu schützen, wird anderen, nicht-kämpfenden Zivilisten Gewalt antun. Das ist das Problem, dass man töten muss, um zu retten.

Wann endet die Verantwortung?

Es geht nur um den Schutz der Bevölkerung vor massenhaften Verbrechen. Unklar bleibt, ob der Schutz dauerhaft gewährleistet sein, ob man sich militärisch und politisch engagieren muss.

Also kann man der Meinung sein, dass man nicht dafür verantwortlich ist, was nach einem militärischen Eingreifen mit diesem Land passiert?

Wer Verantwortung übernimmt, der trägt sie auch für die Folgen seines Handelns. Diese Folgen aber sind nicht vorhersehbar. Der Eingreifende muss die Bereitschaft haben, wieder zu intervenieren, wenn in Folge seines Eingreifens erneut massenhaft Menschenrechte verletzt werden. Er müsste also zum Beispiel mit Bodentruppen präsent sein, um Massaker an den Unterlegenen zu verhindern.

Der Einsatz von Bodentruppen wird im Fall Syrien kategorisch ausgeschlossen. Also wird eine Folgeverantwortung gar nicht in Betracht gezogen?

Im Fall Syrien geht es um den Chemiewaffeneinsatz. Mögliche Militärschläge sollen eine strafende Komponente haben und die Glaubwürdigkeit der Drohung bestätigen, dass damit eine Grenze überschritten wurde. Ob Militärschläge zu Veränderungen auf dem Boden führen, welche Konsequenzen sie haben könnten – das kann niemand überschauen.

Es ist aber doch noch gar nicht klar, wer das Gift eingesetzt hat.

Ein Chemiewaffeneinsatz würde ein Eingreifen auf der Grundlage der Schutzverantwortung legitimieren. Aber natürlich wäre es zwingend nötig, genauere Belege zu haben, von welcher Seite sie eingesetzt wurden. Und selbst wenn Beweise vorgelegt werden für eine Schuld des Assad-Regimes, bleibt für die USA die völkerrechtliche Legitimation eines militärischen Eingreifens ein Dilemma.

Das Gespräch führte Martina Doering.

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Schirach Report: America Will Act In Syria – But Do Not Expect Much

August 27, 2013

WASHINGTON – Sadly, the strong words of moral outrage uttered by Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria are destined to remain just that: words. Sure, some (face saving) symbolic military action will be undertaken. But do not expect much more than that. There are essentially two reasons for this.

No money and no will

Number 1: America is broke. And the Pentagon is even more broke as it has to adjust to the fiscal effects of the “sequester” now in place. In simple language, most of the automatic spending cuts that came into force this Spring because no broad agreement on spending and revenue could be reached between Republicans and Democrats have targeted defense spending.

In this unusually constrained environment it is inconceivable that America will engage in another conflict. Totally inconceivable.

Number 2: there is no special feeling for Syria in Washington. US policy-makers are not totally united on this, but the general consensus is that we do not want to help a Syrian opposition that may be strongly influenced by al Qaeda and/or other Islamic radicals. There is certainly no sympathy for Assad and his dictatorship; but there is no interest in expending US blood and treasure in an effort that will replace him with an even more anti-Western regime.

These two factors, lack of money and lack of an identifiable national interest in entering this conflict, conspire to have a minimal, I suspect mostly symbolic, response to the use of chemical weapons by Syria.

Autocrats can breathe easily

Having said that, this scenario has huge implications for America and its role as a superpower. It is now clear that dictators and autocrats around the world can do pretty much whatever they please, without fear of retribution from tired and penniless Washington. And this is only a short while after the intervention in the Libyan conflict was justified on the basis of a brand new international law doctrine whereby the international community can and will intervene when a government behaves badly towards its own people, as in Libya’s case.

Well, forget about all that. That theory apparently applies only in the case of small countries. Syria is a much, much bigger problem: more people, more weapons, more factions and more foreign supporters, including Russia, Iran and Hezbollah from Lebanon.

Who would join America?

I just do not see a strong “coalition of the willing” led by America about to launch an invasion of Syria. Both Paris and London saw first hand the sorry state of their air forces during the engagement in Libya. They have not forgotten that they had run out of ammunitions just days into the air war. I do not believe that they are any better prepared now. And they know that Syria would be a much tougher nut to crack.

Redefinition of the national interest

So, here is the bottom line. Forget about Pax Americana. America’s redefinition of the national interest (a polite way to say retreat) is due to two key factors. In the first place, the stupendosuly expensive and inconclusive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have not broadened support for interventions. Secondly, a country with an unresolved fiscal crisis, now getting ready for another nasty political confrontation on how to raise the ”debt ceiling”, (this “domestic conflict” is about to take place come October), is in no shape and no mood for war.

Sure enough, expect some “action”. But that’s not the same as “decisive action” aimed at changing the course of the conflict in Syria.

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http://schirachreport.com/index.php/2013/08/27/america-will-act-in-syria-but-do-not-expect-much/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SchirachReport+%28Schirach+Report%29
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*Massenbach’sRecommendation*

22 Key Points in Egypt’s New Draft Constitution

Following days of quite debatable leaks, the first draft of the suggested amendments to Egypt’s suspended 2012 Constitution, which was effectively drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists, has finally come to light.

The proposed amendments are the result of the work of a 10-person committee of judicial experts and members of the judiciary, all chosen by the legal and educational entities they represent according to the constitutional declaration governing Egypt following Morsi’s ouster on July 3. These amendments will then be submitted for review to a still-unformed 50-person committee that would theoretically represent Egyptian society as a whole. The final say over what goes into the amendments will be, as things stand, in the hands of the 10-person committee, while the mini-assembly will mainly submit its opinions and demands, which do not appear binding according to the text of the current constitutional charter. Recent rhetoric suggests a potential drive toward further empowering the 50-person assembly to better improve the image of this being the result of a more democratic process.

This draft will be the subject of a back-and-forth race for about two months, as per the transitional charter, and significant changes will likely take place. Mainly, the most interesting dynamic to watch — other than whether or not the Brotherhood will have any official influence on the final draft — would be the relationship between the current administration and the Salafists. In the original constitution, the Salafists had effectively been at the heart of the more controversial religious-based articles, yet still signed off on June 30 and are still fully part of the current political process.

The initial impression of this current draft is that it is a significant and substantial edit of its 2012 original, rather than a monumental and groundbreaking change. It is slightly slimmer (about 40 articles were axed, many of which were of literary rather than legal effect) and brings what could be argued as some subtle improvements from a democratic perspective. Yet it still leaves much to be desired: solidification and expansion of liberties, a welcome and preset electoral system and further decentralization of the Egyptian state. This is essentially a preliminary reading of the draft and not intended to be an exhaustive analysis. The focus is on the most important aspects of what has changed and what hasn’t.

  • Identity of Egypt: While Article 1 adds more emphasis on the indivisibility of Egyptian land (i.e., land cannot be ceded to other states and no administrative region can declare independence), it now just states that Egypt belongs to the “Arab and Islamic Nations,” dropping references to Africa and the “Asian extension,” as well as “positive involvement in human civilization.” The 1971 constitution had only stated that Egypt was a member of the Arab world and was actively working on “full unification” of the Arab world.
  • Article 2 and Sharia: The famous Article 2, mainly stating that the “principles of Islamic Sharia” are the main sources of legislation, remains unchanged, while Article 219 of the 2012 Constitution has been removed. Article 219 was a controversial suggestion by Salafists, which had elaborated on what those “principles” supposedly meant from their perspective, rather than leaving those principles open-ended. While some saw Article 219 as having no actual effect, others worried it had effectively given Article Two a more conservative and legally complicated meaning, one that effectively meant that the “laws” — rather than principles” — of Sharia would be the main source of legislation.
  • Personal status code: Article 3 retains the 2012 stipulation that Egyptian Christians and Jews should refer to their own religious laws on personal status issues. Some welcomed the article at its inception, while others were concerned it might mean further distance from the potential for a secular civil code, at least as an alternative alongside a religious code.
  • Al-Azhar: Article 4 removes the 2012 stipulation that Al-Azhar be consulted on matters pertaining to Sharia and that the state assist Al-Azhar financially. Otherwise, the Al-Azhar article, which initially aimed to establish its independence as an organization, is largely intact, and still remarkably remains at the beginning of the constitution in Article 4. The original article, though essentially formalizing a consultative role that had already been in effect for some time, raised fears that it would herald the move toward a more theocratic approach to legislation, and even the grand imam of Al-Azhar had opposed it.
  • Rights and freedoms: Freedoms and rights remain pretty much within the same framework as in Egyptian constitutional tradition. This means that essentially every right or freedom continues to be subject to regulation by law.
  • Gender equality: The updated text in Article 11 features relatively more direct wording on gender equality, but also qualifies that by an adherence to the principles of Sharia.
  • Religious freedoms: Article 47 appears subtly improved. Freedom of religion remains “protected” rather than “absolute,” as was the case in the 1971 constitution. But it also now simply states that the state “facilitates” the construction of houses of worship for the three “celestial faiths” (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) while not seemingly sealing the door on religious liberties for other religions, as appeared to be the case in 2012. Remarkably, much of this improvement — other than syntax changes — comes from the usage of a comma between the portion on protection of religious practice and that on building houses of worship.
  • Legal punishments: The 2012 version of Article 76 — also a Salafist suggestion — stipulated that a legal punishment could be deduced from both the text of the constitution and the penal code. This article has been brought back in Article 69 to its more traditional form, limiting punishments only to what is specifically mentioned in the penal code. The original text was seen as a backdoor that could allow judges to use traditional Islamic punishments not mentioned in the current penal code, and was criticized by jurists on the grounds that all laws and punishments need to be specifically mentioned in text to avoid judges acting upon personal whims.
  • Religious-based articles: The 2012 Constitution introduced a number of articles that contained conservative and Islamic-oriented statements, though their unclear legal implications were still to be determined through time and practice. Some of these have now been axed, including Article 44 banning any slander of religious “messengers and prophets” and Article 11 stating that the state protects morals. The spirit of the latter article is still evident throughout the rest of the constitution. Others appear to have been reformed, such as Article 10, which was criticized in its first form for potentially paving the way for unofficial popular morality police and committees.
  • Moving away from Jan. 25?: The new Article 15 (Article 64 in the previous constitution) retains the stipulation on honoring the “martyrs” of the January revolution and giving preferential treatment to the injured and the martyrs’ families. It now simply states “revolution” rather than the “Jan. 25 [2011] revolution.” Whether this reflects a move from Jan. 25 toward June 30 [2013] as a new political zeitgeist, or is simply an attempt to be more holistic and incorporate both uprisings into a single text, is still to be determined. The preamble would also clarify much.
  • Composition and form of parliament: The new draft scraps the former stipulation that at least 50% of parliament be composed of workers and farmers. There is enough political room for this once controversial amendment to actually pass right now. Furthermore, the upper house — the much maligned and generally useless Shura council — now no longer exists. The lower house is also back to being called “The People’s Assembly” rather than the 2012 title of “House Of Representatives.” It now must have a minimum membership of a whopping 450 members rather than the previous 350.
  • The next parliamentary elections: The upcoming parliamentary elections, as of now, will be held according to the single-vote, single-candidate system as a transitional method, with no proportional representation or party lists. Even if this stipulation passes, the draft merely speaks of these upcoming elections, and leaves the subsequent and more permanent choice of electoral system up to legislators. This suggestion is creating controversy, arguably in that it could theoretically weaken nascent political parties and party-based democracy in general, possibly even allowing for easier rigging.
  • Formation of political parties and groupings: Article 54 reintroduces stricter language against the formation of political parties upon religious references (among others), but it essentially uses language similar to the 2011 constitutional declaration and the 1971 constitution, under which the Freedom and Justice Party, Al-Nour and a host of Islamist parties had already been established. Thus, unless the legal interpretation is different this time, the syntax change might not actually lead to anything different. The article also bans parties, political groupings and activities that “antagonize the social order” — a very foggy, open-ended limitation that could easily be abused. There is also a ban on political activities of “secret, militaristic or quasi-militaristic” natures.
  • Syndicates: Article 56 retains the controversial stipulation that there be only one syndicate for each profession. This was the cause of much uproar in the 2012 constitution.
  • Division of power: The new draft largely retains, at first glance, the same division of powers between the president, cabinet and (the now unicameral) parliament, creating a hybrid political system in which parliament has more powers than before, is predominantly empowered with control over the cabinet and its formation, and can effectively take over leadership more fully on domestic issues. The term for each parliamentary session is still five years, each presidential term is still four years and a president can only be re-elected once. One interesting and now-removed stipulation from the 2012 Constitution was that if the president called for a referendum on the dissolution of parliament and the referendum failed, he then would have to resign.

Parliament now also has the power to hold the president accountable for any acts seen as violating the constitution. It may go beyond accusing him of grand treason, and the prosecutor general now has to investigate such allegations as well. The president must also obtain approval of the cabinet if he were to decrease the severity or length of a particular legal sentence, and he must obtain parliament’s approval if he wishes to cancel the sentence altogether. And according to Article 132, any calls for referenda by the president now must be “without violation of the rules of the constitution.” Interestingly, the demands by some that a mechanism be put in place for removing a president from office during his term (when legally and constitutionally justified) have not been implemented.

  • Amending the constitution: To amend the constitution, according to Article 188, either the president, at least one third of parliament (previously one fifth — this English translation of the 2012 constitution misreads the Arabic text), 30,000 eligible voters from across 15 governorates with at least 1,000 in each governorate can demand that amendments be considered. Still, parliament must debate and approve any amendments by two thirds.
  • The Constitutional Court: According to Articles 163 and 164, the court now has no maximum number of judges, just a “sufficient” number of members. The 2012 Constitution’s downsizing of the court was seen as an intentional political move to ax judges deemed hostile to the Islamists. The 2012 move toward prior supervision over legislation by the court seems to have been removed in favor of the pre-2012 continuous supervision mechanism. The president now can only pick the head of the court from its three oldest serving judges, and the general assembly of the constitutional court must also approve the decision, rendering the court further independent from executive pressures.
  • More power to the judiciary: The judiciary gets another boost in Article 158. If an official judicial body objects to a draft law regulating its affairs, parliament would either have to amend it and then consult again, or alternatively try to forcefully pass the law by a supermajority of two thirds. This is likely a direct result of the saga featuring the Brotherhood and the draft law it wanted to pass that would have effectively axed 3,500 judges.
  • Military and the defense minister: The military and defense articles remain largely unchanged, including the stipulation that the military budget be entered as a single figure in the national budget. Only the National Defense Council, which also includes the prime minister and the head of parliament, gets to review the budget in detail.

One interesting note: Article 170 now adds upon the 2012 stipulation that the defense minister must be an officer (i.e., not a civilian) by explicitly saying that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces must approve the nominee, further solidifying the army’s independence. Another noteworthy modification is that Article 173 now states that civilians can only be tried in front of military tribunals in “crimes that represent a direct assault on the armed forces.” The original Article 198 stated that the jurisdiction in that case was for “crimes that harm the armed forces.” It’s ostensibly an improvement, though still far from the post-2011 demands to remove military trials for civilians altogether. The specification of crimes that represent such a “direct assault” will also have a strong impact on the final impact.

  • Media: Article 179 establishing the National Council For Media, which is set to become the regulatory authority on media in Egypt and whose composition would be later set by law, introduces some potentially problematic language amendments. While the 2012 text already had, for example, the vague stipulation that the council would protect “the values of society and its constructive traditions,” the 2013 text also includes protecting “national unity and societal peace.” The problem with this vague wording is that, while purely decorative if left alone, it could also open the door for potentially restrictive practices.
  • No Economic and Social Council: This was a new entity mentioned in Article 207 of the previous constitution, tasked with providing advice on “economic, social and environmental policies” and formed predominantly from professional and social syndicates and associations. It is absent in the amended draft.
  • End of Mubarak-era political isolation: The new draft also controversially removes Article 232 of the original, which stipulated the political isolation (i.e., a ban on running for political office) of the leadership of the former National Democratic Party for a period of 10 years.

Bassem Sabry is an Egyptian political writer and commentator. On Twitter: @Bassem_Sabry


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MADE IN AMERICA

Auswirkungen der Schiefergas/Shale Revolution in der U.S. Wirtschaft
von Martina Jung
Vice-President American German Business Club, Berlin
Director Business Development MENA, STEAG, Essen

Hintergründe zum Shale Gas Boom

Während in den USA die Förderrechte beim Landbesitzer des Vorkommens liegen und damit die Erträge, bekommt der Landbesitzer in Deutschland nur eine Entschädigung.Der deutsche Staat ist der Produktionsgewinner. Dies ist präkonstitutionelles, feudales Recht.

In den USA werden die Shale Gas Producer mit erheblichen Steuererleichterungen unterstützt. Die frühzeitige Deregulierung der amerikanischen Erdgasmärkte und eine einfache Umweltregulierung (im Vergleich zu Deutschland) schufen günstige Rahmenbedingungen für die Investitionen zur Shale Gas-Förderung. Die Aussichten auf erhebliche Margen bei den Terminmarktgeschäften bei US Flüssiggas-(LNG)-Importen zu Zeiten des Abschwungs traditioneller Erdgasförderung Anfang 2000 ließen Investoren ins Shale-Geschäft einsteigen. Die Ergebnisse sind ein exponentielles Förderungswachstum.
Durch die enorme Shale Gas-Produktion fiel der Erdgaspreis mit einem Durchschnittspreis im Jahr 2012 auf sein niedrigstes Niveau seit 2003. Es ist ein weiterer Produktionspreisverfall zu erwarten.(to be contd./see att.)

http://www.massenbach-world.de/40830.html

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see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

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Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat

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Edith.Suter JoergBarandat

Made in America-Shale Gas Revolution-Martina Jung-Essen-Berlin.pdf

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