Pope reaffirms Church's position on immigration

As we've noted, the Catholic Church has been a strong ally for comprehensive immigration reform. So when Pope Benedict XVI affirmed his position on immigration, it wasn't too much of a shock. From the NY Times:

Even as he was flying to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of protecting immigrant families, not dividing them.

He raised the issue again in a meeting on Wednesday with President Bush, and later that day spoke in Spanish to the church's "many immigrant children." And when he ends his visit to New York on Sunday, he will be sent off by a throng of the faithful, showing off the ethnic diversity of American Catholicism.

The choreography underscores the importance to the church here of its growing diversity - especially its increasing Hispanic membership.

Of the nation's 65 million Roman Catholics, 18 million are Latino, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and they account for more than two-thirds of the new Catholics in the country since 1960.

It should be noted that while the pope met with President Bush to discuss a humane solution that protects immigrants and their families, more than 300 immigrants were arrested by federal agents in raids. To learn more about our work in fixing our broken immigration system, visit our website.

If they have no bread/rice/corn...

Today’s lead story in the New York Times focuses on the global pandemic of rising food prices. The article, “Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger,” discusses the political implications of the spike in global food prices.

Haiti’s hunger, that burn in the belly that so many here feel, has become fiercer than ever in recent days as global food prices spiral out of reach, spiking as much as 45 percent since the end of 2006 and turning Haitian staples like beans, corn and rice into closely guarded treasures.

“It’s the worst crisis of its kind in more than 30 years,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs,
the economist and special adviser to the United Nations secretary general, Ban
Ki-moon. “It’s a big deal and it’s obviously threatening a lot of governments.
There are a number of governments on the ropes, and I think there’s more
political fallout to come.”

Indeed, as it roils developing nations, the spike in commodity prices — the
biggest since the Nixon administration — has pitted the globe’s poorer south
against the relatively wealthy north, adding to demands for reform of rich
nations’ farm and environmental policies. But experts say there are few quick
fixes to a crisis tied to so many factors, from strong demand for food from
emerging economies like China’s to rising oil prices to the diversion of food
resources to make biofuels.

The crisis, which has lead to the ouster of Haiti’s Prime Minister, has the potential for dramatic political and social ramifications. Malaysia’s Prime Minister looks to be in political jeopardy, and leaders from Asia to Africa to Latin America are struggling both with how to feed their people and subdue the anger – in the form of riots and protests – directed toward them.

Just as many in the developing world were being lifted out of poverty and changing their diets for the better – no small development in the fight against poverty and disease – rising food prices have beat back much of that progress and driven others into far worse situations. The broad policy adjustments that will be needed to solve this problem will not be politically easy. Coupled with fuel price increases, which are having more of an effect in the developed world than food prices, there is no more important time than now for political leaders to create an adequate policy response to globalization.

Understanding the CleanTech Investment Opportunity

NDN's Green Project was in New York on Wednesday, with a very successful panel on investing in clean technology. Green Project Director Michael Moynihan told listeners that, "With oil at $115 a barrel and climate change unsolved, clean technology may be most important components of the 21st Century economy." Peter C. Fusaro, Chairman and Founder of Global Change Associates, best selling author of What Went Wrong at Enron, and perhaps the world’s leading expert on clean technology funds, offered that "the government has to create a stable policy environment for industry." Finally, well known analyst, David Kurzman, Senior Vice President of the Clean Technology Research Group at Panel Intelligence, LLC, said that the key to successfully investing in clean technology is to "follow the smart money."

Take a look at the excellent and informative video (complete with PowerPoints) from the event:

For more information on the Green Project, check out Michael's blogging on these important issues.


On return from the World Economic Forum, Latin America

I got back late last night from a two-day trip to the World Economic Forum in Cancun, and a chance to speak in a session with emerging leaders from throughout the Americas. The event itself was tremendous, featuring business, governmental and non-profit leaders from all across Latin America. Several heads of state and many other important governmental ministers participated in robust and interesting discussions on just about every issue from poverty reduction to sustainable growth, health reform, climate change, the rise of China, the disruptive power of new media, the challenge of rising food and commodity prices, the future of Latin America and the importance of Hugo Chavez to regional security concerns.

And I guess that is where I will begin with my first post of my impressions from the trip. The discussions were far-ranging, pragmatic and serious about the many challenges facing civil societies throughout the region. The talks and speeches by the heads of state and other governmental leaders showed a fluency in global economics and the upsides and downsides of globalization, and the need for strategic investment in infrastructure and human capital one rarely hears in the U.S. debate, and certainly we've seldom heard in this Presidential campaign. While there were disagreements, you can sense a true global consensus emerging about the need to maintain open trade, competitive democracies, domestic growth and flowing capital markets, reduce poverty and significantly increase investment in human capital and regional infrastructure projects and tackle climate change, all while coming to a much greater understanding that in this age of globalization and relative global peace, we are truly all in this together now; the region and the world are both growing more interdependent while at the same time offering nations many new tools to become independent and set their own course.

While the "Washington Consensus" and "neo-liberalism" were occassionally derided, it is clear that this vision of global development, effectively imagined and championed originally by the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, has become the governing consensus of much of the Americas.

What I guess is most striking from my trip is that this powerful vision, which has helped usher in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity in the region, seems to be in the process of being abandoned by many leaders here at home this year. Reading the reports of the non-debate on ABC last night when I got home just reinforced how hard it is for America to talk honestly right now about the challenges we face, and what role we intend to play on the global stage in the era after Bush. Over at Daily Kos DHinMI has more triviality last night's debate.

Congratulations to the World Economic Forum for putting on an excellent and provocative conference about our common future.

NYT: Fuel Choices, Food Crises and Finger-Pointing

An article from today's New York Times by Andrew Martin discusses the impact of ethanol and other biofuels on drastically rising food prices:

The idea of turning farms into fuel plants seemed, for a time, like one of the answers to high global oil prices and supply worries. That strategy seemed to reach a high point last year when Congress mandated a fivefold increase in the use of biofuels.

But now a reaction is building against policies in the United States and Europe to promote ethanol and similar fuels, with political leaders from poor countries contending that these fuels are driving up food prices and starving poor people. Biofuels are fast becoming a new flash point in global diplomacy, putting pressure on Western politicians to reconsider their policies, even as they argue that biofuels are only one factor in the seemingly inexorable rise in food prices.

In some countries, the higher prices are leading to riots, political instability and growing worries about feeding the poorest people. Food riots contributed to the dismissal of Haiti's prime minister last week, and leaders in some other countries are nervously trying to calm anxious consumers.

At a weekend conference in Washington, finance ministers and central bankers of seven leading industrial nations called for urgent action to deal with the price spikes, and several of them demanded a reconsideration of biofuel policies adopted recently in the West.

Many specialists in food policy consider government mandates for biofuels to be ill advised, agreeing that the diversion of crops like corn into fuel production has contributed to the higher prices. But other factors have played big roles, including droughts that have limited output and rapid global economic growth that has created higher demand for food.

That growth, much faster over the last four years than the historical norm, is lifting millions of people out of destitution and giving them access to better diets. But farmers are having trouble keeping up with the surge in demand.

C. Ford Runge, an economist at the University of Minnesota, said it is “extremely difficult to disentangle” the effect of biofuels on food costs. Nevertheless, he said there was little that could be done to mitigate the effect of droughts and the growing appetite for protein in developing countries.

“Ethanol is the one thing we can do something about,” he said. “It’s about the only lever we have to pull, but none of the politicians have the courage to pull the lever.”

But August Schumacher, a former under secretary of agriculture who is a consultant for the Kellogg Foundation, said the criticism of biofuels might be misdirected. Development agencies like the World Bank and many governments did little to support agricultural development in the last two decades, he said.

He noted that many of the upheavals over food prices abroad have concerned rice and wheat, neither of which is used as a biofuel. For both those crops, global demand has soared at the same time that droughts suppressed the output from farms.

The full article is worth reading, as it also covers the domestic American politics and the tough choices that policy makers will have to make on this issue. Green Project Director Michael Moynihan recently blogged on some technologies that have the potential to be game changers and touched on biofuels, writing:

In the area of portable fuels, biofuels made from switchgrass and other inedible plants grown on scrubland, holds promise. At a time when food prices are soaring and many countries are hoarding rice, wheat and corn, it makes no sense to devote America's heartland loam-some of the richest land in the world-to the production of corn-based ethanol. However, technologies to convert hard-to-break-down grasses grown on scrubland to fuel do make sense.

This is an issue that NDN's Globalization Initiative and Green Project have been watching and will continue to follow closely as the debate over American energy and climate policies unfolds in the coming months.

REMINDER: NDN's Green Project in NYC tomorrow - 12 p.m.

NDN has been talking about the great transformation underway in the United States and across the globe. One new challenge that poses great risks but also great opportunity is climate change. How the United States and the world adapt to this challenge may well define the Century. Indeed, with oil trading at over $110 per barrel, the clean technologies and policies implemented to create the post carbon economy may well represent the greatest business opportunity of the coming Century.

In Europe, a cap and trade system for carbon emissions has already created a multi billion dollar market in carbon credits. That market may soon expand to include the United States. On the technology front, the next generation of electric cars and other technologies such as carbon capture, solar power, wind power and bio fuels may prove transformative. Venture Capitalist John Doerr has called green technology the biggest investment opportunity of his lifetime, bigger even than the Internet. Al Gore says it’s vital to saving the planet. But is all the hype justified? Or is clean technology potentially another bubble?

Learn the answer to these important questions on Wednesday, April 16 in New York City, when NDN Green Project Director Michael Moynihan, hosts a panel with leading clean technology experts entitled “Understanding the Cleantech Investment Opportunity.” It will feature Peter C. Fusaro, Chairman and Founder of Global Change Associates, best selling author of What Went Wrong at Enron and perhaps the world’s leading expert on clean technology funds and well known analyst, David Kurzman, Senior Vice President of the Clean Technology Research Group at Panel Intelligence, LLC. The panel will get to the heart of the green technology issue from an investment perspective and discuss what policy approaches to climate change including cap and trade, a carbon tax, the solar tax credit, and other investment incentives.

NDN’s Green Project is working to answer these and other questions and develop a legislative, regulatory and advocacy framework to address climate change, move toward energy independence, and accelerate the development of new technologies to promote economic growth.

For background reading, check out Michael's original NDN paper on public investment in infrastructure and his recent blogging on green issues.

Event Details:
Wednesday, April 16th
Regency Hotel, Regency Room
540 Park Avenue
New York, NY
Click here to RSVP

Sarukhan sets the stage for Cancún

The World Economic Forum on Latin America takes place today and tomorrow in Cancún, Mexico. The event, which Simon is attending, will "bring together over 500 top global leaders from business, politics, government, academia, civil society and the media from 46 countries." The theme of the meeting, which the Government of Mexico is co-hosting, is "Securing a Place in an Uncertain Economic Landscape." Since most of us will not be able to attend, I figured I'd post a video of Arturo Sarukhan, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, who recently spoke at NDN's forum on U.S.-Mexican relations.

The event was the first in the Latin American Policy Initiative, a series that will give policy makers and stakeholders an opportunity to discuss relations between the U.S. and the various countries in Latin America. The Ambassador was joined by Senator Bob Menendez in discussing the current relations and priorities between the United States and Mexico. Check out his remarks below:

Rob Shapiro on the globalization of capital

In this short video, Dr. Rob Shapiro, Chair of NDN's Globalization Initiative, says that in order to understand what is going on with the American economy, we must first understand the role of globalization, particularly the globalization of the capital pool.

Take a look:

For more of Rob's far-reaching work on the economy and globalization, check out:

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