Sunday, June 28, 2009

President Obama - Your Turn: Join the National Online Discussion on Health Care Reform

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President Obama - Your Turn: Join the National Online Discussion on Health Care Reform

Foreclosure Prevention Fair on June 27 in Annandale, Fairfax, Virginia

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CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AT ITS BEST


Chairwoman Sharon Bulova of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors delivering Keynote Speech and outlined progressive foreclosure prevention programs from the government.

Annandale, VA, June 27th, 2009.
Voice of Vietnamese Americans and many other Vietnamese American Organizations in the Metropolitan area such as The Vietnamese Community of Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association (MVMA), Ket Doan Association, The Vietnamese Medical Society of Northeast America, Skill Source, ..., collaborated with the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) in organizing the "Foreclosure Prevention Fair" for the Asian Americans and the public at large in Northern Virginia, on June 27th, 2009.


Genie Giao Nguyen (Founding Chair of VVA, Board Member of AREAA Metro Chapter) - Chairwoman Sharon Bulova of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors - Song Hutchins (Founding Chair of AREAA, Metro-DC Chapter)

With over 30 Asian community partners, Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) DC Metro Chapter hosted its first free foreclosure prevention fair to offer all community members an opportunity to have one-on-one counseling sections with their lenders or non-profit HUD-approved counselors to resolve issues of their home ownership. The event was conducted in English with on site translation availability through Asian volunteers.

A successful event:




A full waiting area



Long line waiting to enter




One-on-one counseling


Very busy registration desk

The event was a huge success with about 200 families received one-on-one counseling with their lenders and being promised to have mortgages mitigated to affordable ones to preserve their home ownerships, the core value of American Dreams.

Many attendees asked for the next event and said they would highly recommend this service to their relatives, friends, neighbors, and contacts.

Asian Americans heightened Volunteerism on June 27, 2009


Volunteers meeting


Volunteers meeting

There were almost 100 volunteers from many different Asian American non-profit organizations came from Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, to this event to help. Our heartfelt thanks to all volunteers. You have made a big difference in many families and have touched many hearts.


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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Climate Change in Asia and The Pacific: UN Secretary-General's Message for High-Level Dialogue.

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Manila, Philippines, 16 June 2009 - Secretary-General's Video Message for High-Level Dialogue: Climate Change in Asia and The Pacific

Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda, President of the Asian Development Bank, Dr. R. K. Pachauri, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the year of climate change. In December, government negotiators will meet to seal a deal in Copenhagen. Your contribution is essential.

We understand as never before the scale and pace of climate change. We are also seeing its effects.

Asia's shrinking glaciers threaten water supplies and food security for hundreds of millions of people.

Rising sea levels could inundate many of the region's islands and cities. Other areas face desertification and land degradation.

A deal in Copenhagen must address these issues. Many countries need help to adapt to inevitable changes.

A deal in Copenhagen must also address the causes of climate change. Global greenhouse gas emissions must decline.

This region is home to half the world's population. Your economies are growing fast. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising. We must find a way to de-link the two.

This is why I am calling for a Global Green New Deal to spread clean energy technologies. It can also create jobs and help us reverse this economic downturn.

We must also reverse environmental degradation. I am particularly looking to Copenhagen to help us to protect tropical forests. Left standing, they can absorb significant amounts of carbon. Allowed to fall, they become part of the climate problem.

As we look forward to Copenhagen, I have a simple message for the countries of Asia and the Pacific. You must be part of the long-term solution.

You must help us seal a deal that addresses mitigation, adaptation, financing and governance. A deal that is ambitious, comprehensive and fair.

I am heartened by the positive signals I am receiving from the region.

I trust this meeting will help to take us closer to our goals in Copenhagen, and I wish you every success.

http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=3925
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Global Philanthrophy Awards Dinner: Ban Ki Moon

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http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid13706306001?bclid=1343248661&bctid=27466280001

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon accepted the Foreign Policy Association Global Humanitarian Award for outstanding contributions to responsible internationalism.

Historic Climate Change Legislation Passed by the US House of Representatives

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On Friday June 26, 2009, the US House of Representatives passed comprehensive climate change legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The vote was close: 219 for and 212 against. Eight Republicans voted yes and 44 Democrats voted no.

The Democratic House Leadership and the White House have spent the last several days lobbying wavering Representatives and making compromises. In joint campaigns with environmental groups and unions, Care2 members have sent hundreds of thousands of messages to their legislators calling for them to pass strong climate change legislation. This is a great victory.

One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, said it is "the most important energy and environmental legislation in the history of our country. It sets a new course for our country, one that steers us away from foreign oil and towards a path of clean American energy."

The fight is not over. The Senate will now take up climate change legislation, and the battle there may be even tougher.

What difference do you think this legislation will make in your life? In your children's lives?

News Roundup

Statements from Al Gore and Maggie L. Fox of the Alliance for Climate Protection
Defenders of Wildlife heralds passage of historic energy and climate legislation by House of Representatives
Sierra Club Cheers House, Looks Ahead to Senate Action
Statement by Kevin Knobloch, Union of Concerned Scientists
Statement from Bill Meadows, President of The Wilderness Society
Statement of EDF President Fred Krupp on House Passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act
Read more: global warming


http://www.care2.com/causes/global-warming/blog/climate-change-legislation-passed-by-the-us-house-of-representatives/

Thursday, June 25, 2009

[VA c3] Call to Action on Climate! TAKE ACTION TOMORROW ON CAPITOL HILL!

**FORWARD WIDELY****
[VA c3] Call to Action on Climate!
TAKE ACTION TOMORROW ON CAPITOL HILL!
We Need More—Pass a STRONG Climate Bill!


This is it - tomorrow Congress will vote on the American Clean & Security Act, a piece of legislation that we have been working to strengthen for the past few months. We can't let up now, we need to make sure our voices are heard loud and clear in this debate.

Tomorrow we'll rally outside of the Capitol to demand a strong climate bill. We'll show up with giant green hard hats, wind turbines, host a rally and march around to make sure we are visible.

At 1:00 PM, we'll converge at the South East corner of the Capitol grounds across from the Cannon House Office Building (1st St. SE and Independence Ave SE, near Capitol South Metro Stop)

Can you stick around for more? Starting at 2:00 PM, we'll flood the House Office Buildings and the chambers in which they'll vote. It's important that the members see us and hear our message before they go to vote.

We need the boldest possible support for clean energy and we need you to join with us tomorrow so this message is heard loud and clear. If you have to take off work to be there, we urge you to do so. Come out for the whole day if you can, or meet us at 1 PM for the convergence.

Current co-sponsors: CCAN, Energy Action Coalition, Campus Progress, and members of the Avaaz Action Factory

Wear green!

~lauren glickman~
virginia state campaign coordinator
chesapeake climate action network
lauren@chesapeakeclimate.org
office: 804-335-0915

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Voice of Vietnamese Americans Collaborates with AREAA in "Foreclosure Prevention Fair" on June 27 at NVCC, Annandale, Virginia

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CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AT ITS BEST

Voice of Vietnamese Americans and many other Vietnamese American Organizations in the Metropolitan area such as The Vietnamese Community of Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association (MVMA), Ket Doan Association, The Vietnamese Medical Society of Northeast America, Skill Source, ..., are collaborating with the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) in organizing the "Foreclosure Prevention Fair" for the Asian Americans and the public at large in Northern Virginia, on June 27th, 2009.

With over 30 Asian community partners, Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) DC Metro Chapter hosts its first free foreclosure prevention fair to offer all community members an opportunity to have one-on-one counseling sections with their lenders or non-profit HUD-approved counselors to resolve issues of their home ownership. The event is conducted in English with on site translation availability through Asian volunteers.

What: Free foreclosure fair to offer struggling homeowners one-on-one opportunities with HUD-approved counselors
When: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, June 27, 2009
Where: Northern Virginia Community College
Ernst Community Cultural Center
8333 Little River Turnpike,
Annandale, VA 22003-3796

Confirmed speakers:
Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA, 11th district)
Sharon Bulova, Chairman of Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors

Participating Lenders/Organizations: Chase/WAMU/EMC, Wells Fargo, Bank of America/Countrywide, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Objective:

 Provide struggling homeowners an opportunity to meet their lenders or non-profit, HUD approved counselors to discuss their mortgage refinancing and loan modification needs
 Contribute to housing market stabilization and economy recovery through AREAA's network of (remove in) lenders, non-profit counseling organizations, and homeownership preservation advocates

Expected attendees: 1,000

Invited Partners (More details in the enclosed marketing strategy document)
 Lenders: Chase, Bank of America/Countrywide, Wells Fargo, Capital One/Chevy Chase Bank, Suntrust
 Non-profit Counseling Partner: Neighbor Works America (NCHEC)
 Legislators: Congressman Gerry Connolly, Congressman Frank Wolf, Fairfax County Supervisors
 Media: Asian and mainstream media will be contacted for partnership and editorial coverage
 Community Organizations: AREAA will partner with local grass root community organizations to outreach and consumers for this event

Event Program/Flow:
1. Consumers are asked to bring full documentation (iW-2, recent pay stubs, bank statements, tax return, monthly expense documentation and signed third-party authorizations (if applicable), and hardship letter) for one on one meeting with their lenders.
2. Consumers without matching lenders at the event can get help from non-profit, HUD approved counselors.
3. A general information session will run at the top of each session for people who don’t have full documentation prepared or do not feel comfortable with discussing individual situations in public.
4. Public speaking opportunities are available immediately before the general info sessions.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans have many volunteers offering time and expertise to help our people in this event. Thank you our volunteers.

Please circulate this news to all who are able to come and use this special service.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A very special Fathers Day of the Amerasians at the Vietnam War Memorial Wall

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It was the first time in 34 years that the Vietnamese Amerasians performed this special event to honor their heroic fathers and uncles who deceased during the Vietnam War. This special event was also to observe the unique origin and place of the Amerasian communities in the United States.

The Amerasians were the children, now adults, fathered by American personnel with Vietnamese nationals during the Vietnam War. Following the fall of the Republic of South Vietnam and the departure of American forces in 1975, the American people and its government did not forget those left behind, including its combat allies of South Vietnam, who became political prisoners under the Communists, and the children fathered by American personnel, who became known with contempt as “dirt, children of the enemies” by the oppressive Communist government. In 1987, the US Congress, spurred by the courageous leadership of Senator John McCain, joined by eight other Senators, passed with an overwhelming majority, historical legislation to provide for the resettlement of the Amerasians and their families in the United States.

Since the passage of the Amerasian Homecoming Act, over 25,000 Amerasians along with 75,000 family members have resettled throughout the United States. Once integrated into American society, the Amerasians began to realize the true nature of their fathers, not the lies about America and its forces they heard constantly as children victimized by Communist propaganda. Some Amerasians never knew their individual fathers, but through the resettlement program of the country whose flag their fathers fought under, the Amerasians came to know them as the heroes they were and will forever remain.

The Amerasians and their families paid tribute to the fathers they never knew in the flesh but will forever honor in spirit for the ideals of courage and sacrifice they exemplified through their service in Vietnam. Everyone has a father, and some knew theirs better than others, but everyone has the legacy their father bequeathed to them.

Though the turmoil and tragedy of war denied the Amerasians a family life with their fathers, the generosity and remembrance of the United States government brought them to the country of their fathers.

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[VA c3 Board] Fwd: [Statevoices] FW: News and Links for Friday June 19th

MESSAGE:

-Energy: New Report (with state-by-state statistics) Shows That Waxman-Markey Will Create $1.7 Million Clean Energy Jobs

-Health Care:
Obstructionist GOP Senators "Just Saying No" To Health Care Reform That Will Lower Costs and Increase Choice for Hard-Working Americans

-Health Care: The GOP "Alternative" Plan Unravels The Employer-Based System and Keeps Insurance and Drug Companies In Charge

NEWS:

HEALTH CARE
ENERGY
ECONOMY AND RECOVERY
SOTOMAYOR
POLLING
OPPOSITION WATCH
WHAT TO WATCH

MESSAGE 1 (ENERGY):


YESTERDAY, THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS AND POLITICAL ECONOMY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (PERI) AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AT AMHERST RELEASED A REPORT SHOWING THAT CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY INITIATIVES WILL CREATE $150 BILLION IN INVESTMENT AND ADD 1.7 MILLION JOBS TO THE US ECONOMY.
http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/18/more-studies-extoll-virtues-of-green-jobs/#more-13057

* Link to PERI report:
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/06/clean_energy.html

* See the executive summary:
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/06/pdf/peri_report_execsumm.pdf

* See the PERI report's state-by-state fact sheets showing how investment in clean energy will create jobs and spur investment in all fifty states.
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/06/clean_energy_factsheets.htmlver

* ThinkProgress: http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/06/18/clean-energy-jobs-report/

MATERIALS ARE ALL ATTACHED HERE AS WELL

MESSAGE 2 (HEALTH CARE):


Republicans Want To Keep Insurance Companies In Charge.

• The Coburn/Burr “alternative plan” would keep insurance companies in charge by failing to provide sufficient protections against abusive insurance company practices – like denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

• The Coburn/Burr plan would also unravel the employer based system, and replace it with an insufficient tax credit that doesn’t even cover half of the average family’s medical costs.


HEALTH CARE


WaPo: REFORM BEING BLOCKED BY OBSTRUCTIONISTS IN CONGRESS "President Obama's hopes for quick action on comprehensive health-care reform ran headlong this week into the realities of Congress, as lawmakers searching for the money to pay for a broad expansion of coverage discovered that it wasn't easy to find and descended into partisan -- and intraparty -- bickering. A set of unexpectedly high cost estimates -- arcane data that nevertheless carry enormous import in the legislative process -- sent shockwaves along Pennsylvania Avenue and forced one key committee to delay action on its bill, probably until after the July 4 recess."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/18/AR2009061804109.html

HOUSE RELEASES TRI-COMMITTEE HEALTH CARE PLAN -- PELOSI: THERE WILL BE A PUBLIC OPTION "Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed snags in Senate health care reform negotiations and insisted Thursday the House will pass a bill that includes a government run health care option to compete with private insurers."
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/18/pelosi-there-will-be-public-option-in-house-health-care-bill/

**VIDEO: "Uninsured Again" from TIME**
"Denise Prosser has battled health problems and cancer, with and without insurance. Now her husband has been laid off, and she's once again uninsured."
* Watch here: http://www.time.com/time/video/?bcpid=1485842900&bctid=16675428001

TIME HIGHLIGHTS COMPARATIVE EFFECTIVENESS RESEARCH "Now a noted oncologist turned White House health adviser, [Ezekial] Emanuel has spent much of his career battling the that's-what-we-do-here mentality of American medicine. "It drives me nuts — the ignorance is overwhelming," he says. "I'm a data-driven guy. I want to see evidence." It turns out that Emanuel's boss, budget director Peter Orszag, is also a data-driven guy, as is Orszag's boss, the President of the United States. They've already stuffed $1.1 billion into the stimulus bill to jump-start "comparative effectiveness research" into which treatments work best in which situations. Now they're pushing to overhaul the entire health-care sector by year's end, and they're determined to replace ignorance with evidence, to create a data-driven system, to shift one-sixth of the economy from "that's what we do here" to "that's what works.'"
http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1905340,00.html

OBAMA NOW POISED TO PASS HEALTH CARE LEGISLATION "In their heart of hearts, few in the Obama administration would have predicted late last year that they would be this well positioned by June to achieve a major victory on health care. As the economy faltered, and attention focused on Wall Street and Detroit, it seemed unthinkable that Congress would be ready to devote the summer of 2009 to the costly proposition of providing health coverage for all, a goal that has eluded presidents since Theodore Roosevelt."
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/us/politics/19reform.html?ref=todayspaper

FINANCE COMMITTEE HEALTH REFORM OUTLINE
Ezra Klein: "A Senate source just passed me the latest outline of the Senate Finance Committee's health reform proposal. This is the post-CBO revision. Apparently, after the committee staff received the scores, they dug deep and quickly developed this proposal to circulate among members and then send back to CBO. It was presented earlier today at a closed-door meeting."
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/06/exclusive_the_finance_committe.html?hpid=topnews

BIPARTISAN GROUP OF 7 SENATORS ON HEALTH CARE "Seven senators have formed a bipartisan group to find consensus on health-care reform legislation, a sign of fresh momentum after a week of setbacks." It's Baucus, Grassley, Conrad, Hatch, Snowe, and Enzi so far, by the way.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/health-care-reform/2009/06/bipartisan_group_forms_to_tack.html

SEN. GRASSLEY "ON THE FENCE" ON HEALTH CARE REFORM "As the senators filed out of the Oval Office after a meeting on health-care legislation last week, President Obama pulled aside Sen. Charles E. Grassley for a brief one-on-one. He didn't mention the Twitter message the Iowa Republican had fired off the previous Sunday morning, railing against Obama's pre-recorded radio address that was delivered while the president enjoyed a night out overseas: "Pres Obama while u sightseeing in Paris u said 'time to delivr on healthcare,' " the senator wrote from the living room of his Iowa grain farm. ". . . When you are a 'hammer' u think evrything is NAIL I'm no NAIL.'"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/18/AR2009061803782.html

PRIVATE INSURERS VOCAL IN HEALTH CARE REFORM "Don't expect the private insurance industry to go away under any kind of health-care reform initiative. That's because most key health-reform measures gaining momentum in Washington not only leave private health plans intact but also may give them a greater role."
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-tc-biz-healthcare-0618-0619-jun19,0,3512484.story

DASCHLE: BIPARTISAN HEALTH REFORM POSSIBLE "To understand the profound political difficulties inherent in reforming our health care system, one need only turn to recent headlines in POLITICO: “Dems vs. Dems on Health Bill”; “A Moderate Bloc on Health Care?”; “Health Plans Abound for GOP.” Clearly, reaching consensus on health care reform is a significant challenge, but we can no longer afford to wait. "
http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=F68A21C8-18FE-70B2-A8B903C242892345

ENERGY

WINNING OVER THE FARM BELT ON WAXMAN-MARKEY "House Democrats are on the verge of a deal with rebelling Farm Belt legislators on a climate-change bill, a move that could pave the way for a full House vote on legislation as soon as next week. Dozens of Democrats -- mostly from Midwest agricultural states -- are concerned that the bill, which aims to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, could disproportionately raise energy prices for residents and businesses in their states. Lawmakers and industry officials close to the negotiations said the two sides could reach an agreement within days, under which rural utilities could receive a small share of free emission credits -- less than 1% of the total that would be handed out. The credits allow the holder to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gases."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124537051280829707.html#

PELOSI "PAVING THE WAY" FOR WAXMAN-MARKEY "A flurry of meetings in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office has led to a near-deal on the climate change bill, perhaps paving the way for the bill to be brought to the floor by the July 4 recess.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is close to an agreement with Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who at the beginning of the week was warning of a rural Democrat “revolt” over the legislation if not changed…Rep. Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), the only Republican to support the legislation in the Energy and Commerce Committee, described the concerns of those Republicans as being about “Jobs. Jobs, jobs jobs, and the cost to their constituents.” “I don’t think anyone’s a hard ‘no,’” Bono Mack said."
http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/pelosi-courts-both-sides-to-thaw-frozen-climate-bill-2009-06-18.html

YALE 360 ENVIRON GETS QUOTES FROM 11 ENVIRO LEADERS ON WAXMAN-MARKEY "As carbon cap-and-trade legislation works it way through Congress, the environmental community is intensely debating whether the Waxman-Markey bill is the best possible compromise or a fatally flawed initiative. Yale Environment 360 asked 11 prominent people in the environmental and energy fields for their views on this controversial legislation."
http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2163

COAL FIGHTS WAXMAN
"The coal industry is pushing back against a climate change bill that would likely curb coal use by circulating a map that shows which states would see their electric bills increase the most under the legislation. But supporters of the bill say the industry’s figures are off the mark and don’t factor in ways the bill will offset rising energy costs or the jobs that it will create. Lobbying has intensified with Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) pressing for a floor vote next week. Waxman reported progress on Thursday in talks with Democrats from rural states who have criticized the bill for not doing enough to protect consumers from higher energy costs."
http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/coal-lobby-fights-back-on-climate-bill-2009-06-18.html

DUPONT CRITICIZES, MISREPRESENTS WAXMAN-MARKEY IN WSJ OPEN "Two months ago this column offered an analysis of the Waxman-Markey global warming bill, its enormous cost and its practical impossibilities. Sometime in the next few weeks Congress will begin consideration of the bill, one of the priorities of the Obama administration and the Al Gore enthusiasts who think that Earth will die unless the governments of the world regulate our electricity, energy, autos, economies and backyards. They do not seem to believe that energy is of any significance to our economy or our people. But the truth is it matters to all of us--to those who drive, heat our houses and run businesses, cities, towns, hospitals and schools. So they have put together the "cap and trade" bill, the goal of which is to control the annual amount of CO2 emissions that will be permitted. First comes setting the "cap," the amount a business is permitted to emit, and then "trade," allowing them to buy permits to emit more CO2 or sell permits if their emissions are lower. It will be the largest and widest intervention by government into the lives of Americans since the 1940s."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124529064317626263.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#printMode

GAZPROM AND DOW: ALLIES ON EMISSIONS
"Gazprom, the energy company, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Dow Chemical Company to expand trading in carbon dioxide emission credits intended to slow climate change, a business that is a growing sideline for the Russian company.
Best known for its sales of natural gas and crude oil, which produce heat-trapping carbon dioxide, Gazprom is an emerging player in the market for credits that companies can buy or trade to comply with national or international rules on greenhouse gas emissions. Under the memorandum, Gazprom and Dow agreed to look at opportunities where Dow technologies could be used to reduce carbon emissions, thus generating the emission credits. The companies agreed to look at opportunities worldwide."
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/business/energy-environment/19ruble.html?ref=energy-environment&pagewanted=print

US TECH HELPS CLEAN ENERGY WORLDWIDE
"Finding an economical way to capture carbon dioxide from existing coal burning power plants is key to getting China to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as well as for U.S. efforts to combat global warming, says a study being released Friday.
The report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concludes that the United States cannot meet its targets for stabilizing greenhouse gases unless it finds a way to economically capture carbon dioxide emissions coming from existing coal-burning power plants. Coal plants generate about half of the country's electricity and 80 percent of the nearly 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide released annually into the atmosphere from power production. China also relies heavily on coal for electricity production and in the last five years has been on a rush to build new coal plants - none of them designed to capture carbon dioxide."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/19/AR2009061900342.html

CASH FOR CLUNKERS PASSES IN SENATE
"The Senate approved a $1 billion program yesterday to give vouchers to consumers who trade in their gas-guzzling clunkers for more fuel-efficient models -- a move that dealers hope will revive slumping auto sales. Congressional leaders attached the legislation to a $106 billion spending bill to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The spending bill passed by a 91 to 5 vote but not before some Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully sought to strip the measure from the bill. "Let's not add a billion dollars of unnecessary debt," said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) during the Senate floor debate. Dealers, unions, trade groups and automakers have been lobbying for months for the legislation in hopes that it would stop the streak of dismal U.S. auto sales."The simple fact is that we need to get Americans into car showrooms, and this is the bill that will do it," Rep. Candice S. Miller (R-Mich.), a co-sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/18/AR2009061804060_pf.html

ECONOMY AND RECOVERY

COVERAGE OF FINANCIAL REFORM PACKAGE
* WP: "The Federal Reserve, which has been at the center of the government rescue of the financial system, is now on the hot seat, with a debate on Capitol Hill emerging over its responsibility for the crisis and its proper role in preventing such events in the future. Lawmakers are simultaneously annoyed that the Fed did not do more to rein in the bad lending and other financial excesses that led to the financial crisis and recession, and wary of the Fed's aggressive steps over the past two years to combat them. The criticism of the Fed is increasingly loud, bipartisan and from both chambers of Congress"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/18/AR2009061804110.html

* WSJ: "President Obama’s plan to overhaul the regulatory structure of the nation’s financial system faces formidable obstacles on Capitol Hill, if the reception accorded Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, on Thursday was any indication. Mr. Geithner went before the Senate banking committee and urged the lawmakers to act quickly on the president’s plan. “Every financial crisis of the last generation has sparked some effort at reform,” Mr. Geithner said. “But past efforts have begun too late, after the will to act has subsided.”"
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/business/19treasury.html?ref=todayspaper
** See also WSJ's "Corporate Lenders Get Hit" on effect of Obama reform legislation on major corporate lenders: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124536885417929459.html#mod=todays_us_page_one

SOTOMAYOR

REPUBLICANS QUESTION WHETHER SOTOMAYOR WILL REPRESENT "ALL OF US"
It's Cornyn: "A GOP senator said Thursday he will use hearings on Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court to ask whether she intends to be a justice "for all of us, or just for some of us."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090619/ap_on_go_co/us_sotomayor_supreme_court

SOTOMAYOR FOCUSED ON POOR IN NY WHILE ON BOARD OF NY MORTGAGE AGENCY "Time and again, Sonia Sotomayor challenged her fellow board members at the State of New York Mortgage Agency, asking pointed questions about its work: What of the poor? As we help build new neighborhoods upon the rubble of the old, are we abandoning those with the lowest incomes?"
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/us/19mortgage.html?ref=global-home

SOTOMAYOR'S COURTESY CALLS PREVIEW HER RESPONSES FOR CONFIRMATION HEASR "In visits with 71 senators during the past two weeks, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has essentially begun the first round of the confirmation process by previewing her answers to some of the questions senators are likely to ask."
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/2009-06-18-sotomayor-senate_N.htm

POLLING

POLLING SAYS...AMERICANS HAVE ALWAYS WORRIED ABOUT DEFICITS "The government ran budget deficits in the 1980s, during the Reagan Administration, and Americans worried about them then too. In Gallup Polls conducted in the 1980s, just over eight in 10 Americans said the deficit was a serious problem, including about six in 10 who called it very serious. A few years later, in 1990, a CBS News/New York Times Poll found that 76 percent said the deficit was a serious problem that needed immediate action. Just 16 percent said it was serious but didn't need to be solved immediately, and only three percent rated it not serious.

In more recent polls, the public has shown similar levels of concern about the deficit. In February 2005, fully 90 percent of the public said the deficit was a serious problem in the country, including 52 percent who called it very serious."
http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/06/18/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5095949.shtml

CBS/NYT: OBAMA POPULARITY INTACT
From earlier this week, "Republican criticism of Barack Obama's handling of the economy and other issues does not appear to be having much effect on the president's popularity, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds. Mr. Obama's overall approval rating now stands at 63 percent, unchanged from last month. Just one in four Americans says they disapprove of the president. "
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/17/politics/main5094528.shtml

CBS/NYT: US PESSIMISTIC ABOUT ECONOMY
"More than eight in ten Americans now describe the economy in negative terms. Forty-eight percent characterize it as "fairly bad," while another 36 percent call it "very bad.'"
http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/06/17/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5094230.shtml

CBS/NYT: SOTOMAYOR WHO?
"Half cannot say whether or not the Senate should confirm Sotomayor, though nearly four times as many favor her confirmation than oppose it. Confirmation hearings for Sotomayor are expected to begin next month. At this point, 34 percent say the Senate should vote to confirm Sotomayor, compared with 9 percent who say it should vote against her. The poll, conducted June 12 - 16, found more than half of Americans cannot say one way or the other."
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/17/opinion/polls/main5094591.shtml

CBS/NYT: CLOSE GUANTANAMO
"Forty-eight percent of Americans want the facilities closed, while slightly fewer – 40 percent – believe they should be kept open. In April, by contrast, more Americans supported keeping the prison open (47 percent) than supported closing it (40 percent)."
http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/06/17/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5094530.shtml

CBS/NYT: SUPPORT FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DECLINES SLIGHTLY "Most Americans support some legal recognition of a same-sex couple’s relationship. The poll found 33 percent favor marriage for same-sex couples, down somewhat from a high of 42 percent in April, and another 30 percent support civil unions. A third of Americans think there should be no legal recognition of a same-sex couple’s relationship. Views in this poll are similar to those found back in March of this year."
http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/06/17/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5094597.shtml

OPPOSITION WATCH


MORE ENSIGN TROUBLES -- LINKS TO FIRM WHERE HAMPTONS WORKED "Earlier today, we reported that both Hampton and his son, Brandon, landed jobs with Allegiant Air, whose CEO, Maurice Gallagher, is a major Ensign financial backer. The fact that Ensign has close links to both of the companies that have reportedly employed Doug Hampton since he left Ensign's office last year suggests that the Nevada senator may have been made a special push to find employment for Hampton, perhaps in an effort to prevent the affair from becoming public."
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/06/ensign_has_close_ties_to_second_firm_that_employed.php?ref=fpa

COBURN JOINS POSEY ON BIRTH CERTIFICATE ABSURDITY
"WND has reported on a federal plan in the U.S. House by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., that would require documentation of eligibility from presidential candidates, and Coburn confirmed he would view that positively."
http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=101492

GOP REPACKAGES COAL COMPANY DOCUMENT AS OWN
"Two employees of Peabody Energy are listed in the metadata of the map document: Chairman and CEO Greg Boyce and Communications Manager Chris Taylor. The congressmen opposing climate change legislation — Reps. Lucas, Graves, and Hastings — are simply copying-and-pasting information that has been directly fed to them by Peabody Energy."
http://thinkprogress.org/2009/06/18/peabody-gop/

KAPTUR OVER TO GOP

"Roll Call, Kaptur "has been passing out maps contending that most states would lose out under the cap-and-trade bill crafted by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.)." It is unclear whether the maps Kaptur is handing out are Peabody's maps."
http://www.rollcall.com/news/36021-1.html

BOEHNER ADMITS STIMULUS EFFECTIVE
"BOENHER: I'm pleased that federal officials stepped in to order Ohio to use all of its construction dollars for shovel-ready projects that will create much-needed jobs."
http://mediamattersaction.org/blog/200906180003

CNBC CLAIMS THOSE PREYED ON BY PREDATORY LENDERS WERE "STUPID," "NAIVE," OR "SUCKERS"
"A host of CNBC talking heads — from Dennis Kneale and Joe Watkins to Larry Kudlow — said that the new agency is actually meant to advance an insidious liberal plot to force banks into making loans to poor people that can’t pay them back. And anyway, the very notion of consumer protection is unnecessary because only “stupid,” “naive,” “suckers” and “idiots” wound up with a subprime mortgage or unfair credit card contract. Watch a compilation:
http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/06/18/cnbc-on-cpa/

WHAT TO WATCH


CRITICISM: TREASURY DEPARTMENT UNDER SCRUTINY W/R/T BAILOUT, AIG PROBE "A Treasury Department challenge to the authority of government bailout watchdog Neil M. Barofsky came just as he had begun a sensitive investigation of the department's role in approving bonuses to executives of insurance giant AIG, sources said Thursday. Department lawyers had sent a message to Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, suggesting that lawyer-client privilege could restrict some of his inquiries. Within a day, Barofsky was assured there would be no impediment to his audits, and all requested documents were provided to his office."
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-tarp-inspector19-2009jun19,0,1860431.story

CRITICISM: FORECLOSURES CONTINUE DESPITE OBAMA PLAN
"The Obama administration's $75 billion program to reduce foreclosures has been beset by backlogs and delays, leading many overstretched homeowners to complain about unreturned phone calls and inaccurate information from lenders, while others say they were denied help for reasons that weren't clear. Details of the plan were unveiled in early March. The goal is to prevent up to 4 million foreclosures by having banks modify loans into more affordable monthly payments. Since its debut, the plan has led to offers of more than 190,000 mortgage modifications with lower monthly payments, according to the Treasury Department."
http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2009-06-18-obama-plan-mortgages_N.htm

CRITICISM: WSJ's "CEOs of Bailed-Out Banks Flew to Resorts on Firms' Jets"
"Some executives at banks propped up by government aid have retained a coveted perk: personal use of the company jet. Flight records show numerous occasions when banks receiving federal money have flown their planes to destinations near resorts or executives' vacation homes, including spots in Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, south Florida and Aspen, Colo. The Wall Street Journal identified 14 federally aided banks that register planes under their own names. It reviewed Federal Aviation Administration flight records for these planes from October, when the bank aid program began, through mid-March, the latest information the Journal was able to examine."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124536271699529031.html#mod=todays_us_page_one

CLAIM: SOLAR POWER PLANT DEVELOPERS IN CA CLAIM THEY'RE BEING PRESSURED TO USE UNION LABOR "As California moves to license dozens of huge solar power plants to meet the state’s renewable energy goals, some developers contend they are being pressured to sign agreements pledging to use union labor. If they refuse, they say, they can count on the union group to demand costly environmental studies and deliver hostile testimony at public hearings. If they commit at the outset to use union labor, they say, the environmental objections never materialize. Union leaders acknowledge that they make aggressive use of the environmental laws, but say they do it out of genuine concern for the sustainability of California’s power industry, not just as a negotiating tactic."
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/business/energy-environment/19unions.html?ref=todayspaper

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Save I-81 Rail - Steel Interstate - Study

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703 Concord Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22903-5208
(434) 984-4655 • (434) 984-2803 fax
www.virginia-organizing.org


Dear Friend,
We are sending this important message on behalf of RAIL Solution.

BULLETIN:

We are mobilizing a broad campaign (see "ACTION" immediately below) to urge Governor Tim Kaine to overrule his Secretary of Transportation. VDOT Secretary Pierce Homer is thwarting the will of the people of western and southwest Virginia and east Tennessee, where over 46 local government and regional planning body resolutions calling for a federal "Steel Interstate" rail pilot project along the I-81 corridor have been presented to members of Congress.

In April, RAIL Solution worked with Congressman Rick Boucher (VA-9) to draft a federal Steel Interstate study project for the I-81 corridor at Congressman Boucher's initiative. Unfortunately, last month the Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Pierce Homer, refused to allow VDOT to accept a federal grant for the study even if Congress were to authorize one. Because VDOT refuses to support the project, Representatives Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) and Frank Wolf (VA-10) are now also withholding their own support. (New earmark transparency specifications for the omnibus Federal transportation reauthorization require support from state departments of transportation for rail transportation projects.)

ACTION needed:

Please contact Governor Kaine by telephone (804) 786-2211 or email him from his website:
www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor

Ask Governor Kaine to give the I-81 Corridor due opportunity:

· Honor his commitment to RAIL Solution, made in the Governor's office with RAIL Solution leaders August 30, 2006, and to overrule his Secretary of Transportation, who is openly defying the Governor's policy decision to maximize the potential for rail in the I-81 Corridor.

· Order Secretary Homer to notify Representatives Boucher, Goodlatte, and Wolf and Senators Webb and Warner, that VDOT will gladly accept responsibility for coordinating a federal grant to study the Steel Interstate in the I-81 Corridor as a pilot project for the National Steel Interstate System of railroads to speedily move passengers and freight using green energy instead of precious oil.

· Respect the good sense of 46 local governments and regional planning bodies which have voted support for this Congressional initiative since late January 2009. Rail is a cleaner, greener, faster, cheaper solution to our transportation problems while improving economic productivity. The entire country deserves the opportunity to see such a system in action.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

IFEX: CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF VIETNAMESE LAWYER LE CONG DINH

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INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION EXCHANGE:CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF VIETNAMESE LAWYER LE CONG DINH



Le Cong Dinh, who has defended pro-democracy activists and bloggers, is now facing a 20-year jail sentence for spreading propaganda


SEAPA(SOUTHEAST ASIAN PRESS ALLIANCE)CAMPAIGNS FOR THE RELEASE OF LE CONG DINH - We believe these charges are flimsy and are simply meant to still critical voices in Vietnamese society. Dinh's arrest simultaneously sends a chilling messsage to both writers and advocates on the one hand, and to lawyers who, fully working within the system and respecting Vietnam's laws, represent them on the other. SEAPA's statement on Dinh's arrest can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/m9lcvj

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Amnesty International: Viet Nam: Prisoner of conscience, Le Cong Dinh

Viet Nam: Prisoner of conscience, Le Cong Dinh

Viet Nam: Prisoner of conscience, Le Cong Dinh (m)
Download: HTMLPDFIndex Number: ASA 41/002/2009
Date Published: 17 June 2009


Human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh was arrested at his office in Ho Chi Minh City on 13 June by Public Security police. He has been charged with "conducting propaganda" against the state, under Article 88 of the Penal Code. If convicted, he faces a three- to 20-year prison sentence. He is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

PUBLIC
AI Index: ASA 41/002/2009
17 June 2009
UA 155/09 Prisoner of conscience
VIET NAM Le Cong Dinh (m), human rights lawyer

Human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh was arrested at his office in Ho Chi Minh City on 13 June by Public Security police. He has been charged with "conducting propaganda" against the state, under Article 88 of the Penal Code. If convicted, he faces a three- to 20-year prison sentence. He is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

The Investigation Agency of the Ministry of Public Security told a press conference the day he was arrested that Le Cong Dinh had "connived with overseas subversives to publish documents distorting the socioeconomic policies" of the government.

Officials also accused him of communicating with international media, including the BBC and Radio Free Asia, and of conveying "distorted" information about the rule of law in Viet Nam in the course of his work as a defence lawyer.

Le Cong Dinh is a prominent lawyer and former deputy president of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association. He runs a private law firm in Ho Chi Minh City. In November 2007 he represented human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, two other prominent prisoners of conscience, at the appeal court hearing against their sentences. At the hearing he and other lawyers argued that Article 88, under which the two were charged, is unconstitutional and contravenes international human rights treaties that Viet Nam has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and should therefore be reviewed.

He also represented Nguyen Hoang Hai, a blogger known as Dieu Cay, who was tried in September 2008 on politically motivated criminal charges for writing critical articles and calling for human rights.

Le Cong Dinh has also been an outspoken critic of recent bauxite-extraction in the Central Highlands, as well as calling for political reform in Viet Nam.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Vietnamese authorities have sentenced at least 30 dissidents, including a number of lawyers, to long prison terms since 2006 in an attempt to stifle freedom of expression and association. Most are supporters of an internet-based pro-democracy movement, Bloc 8406, or other unauthorized groups calling for democracy and human rights. The majority have been sentenced to imprisonment under the national security section of the 1999 Penal Code, with additional sentences of up to five years of house arrest on release from prison. An unknown number of dissidents are in custody awaiting trial.

Articles of the Penal Code used to criminalize peaceful political dissent include Article 80 (Spying), 87 (Undermining the unity policy), and 88 (Conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam).

In May 2009, the UN Human Rights Council considered Viet Nam under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Viet Nam rejected the recommendations of other states to allow greater freedom of expression and to reform national security laws which limit freedom of expression, among others.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Vietnamese, French or your own language:

- expressing concern that lawyer and human rights advocate Le Cong Dinh has been arrested under Article 88 of the Penal Code solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, and is therefore a prisoner of conscience;

- calling on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, and drop the charges against him;

- calling on them to ensure that he is allowed immediate access to a lawyer of his choosing and his family, and that he is provided with any medical attention he may require;

- calling on the authorities to either repeal or amend provisions in the 1999 Penal Code which criminalize peaceful political dissent;

- calling on the authorities to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and association, in line with human rights treaties Viet Nam has ratified.

APPEALS TO:
Le Hong Anh
Minister of Public Security

Ministry of Public Security
44 Yet Kieu Street
Ha Noi
VIET NAM
Fax: +8443 942 0223
Salutation: Dear Minister


Pham Gia Khiem
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1 Ton That Dam Street
Ba Dinh District
Ha Noi
VIET NAM
Fax: +8443 823 1872
Email: bc.mfa@mofa.gov.vn
Salutation: Dear Minister


COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of Viet Nam accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 29 July 2009.

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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Vietnam: Free Prominent Rights Lawyer Le Cong Dinh

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH:Vietnam: Free Prominent Rights Lawyer Le Cong Dinh.
Rights Defenders Face Ongoing Harassment and Arrest
June 16, 2009



This arrest makes a mockery of the president’s lofty words. It tells other lawyers and human rights defenders just what they can expect if they dare to speak out. Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director (New York) - The Vietnamese government should immediately free respected human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh and repeal national security laws that criminalize peaceful expression and association, Human Rights Watch said today.

On June 13, 2009, police from the Ministry of Public Security's Investigation Security Agency arrested Dinh on national security charges and raided his Ho Chi Minh City law office. Police charged him under article 88 of Vietnam's criminal code, "conducting propaganda against the government," which carries a sentence of up to 20 years. The arrest came just days after President Nguyen Minh Triet addressed the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, on June 6, 2009 at their annual congress in Hanoi. In his speech, Triet affirmed Vietnam's respect and support for progressive lawyers and vowed to criticize those who "trample democracy and human rights."

"This arrest makes a mockery of the president's lofty words," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "It tells other lawyers and human rights defenders just what they can expect if they dare to speak out."

Government authorities accuse Dinh of using his work as a defense lawyer for high-profile democracy and religious freedom activists to "propagandize against the regime and distort Vietnam's constitution and laws," as reported in Nhan Dan (The People), the Vietnamese Communist Party's official daily newspaper.

Dinh, 41, is the former vice president of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association and a managing partner of DC Law, a prominent private law firm in Ho Chi Minh City. Clients listed on the firm's webpage include Yahoo!, Sun Wah International, Nestlé, and Toyota. After studying law at Hanoi Law School and Saigon University, Dinh received a Fulbright scholarship to study at Tulane University in the United States, where he received a master of law degree in 2000.

Dinh is best known for his defense of Vietnamese bloggers, human rights defenders, and democracy and labor rights activists such as Nguyen Van Dai, Le Chi Cong Nhan, and Nguyen Hong Hai (known as Dieu Cay). During his defense of democracy activists Dai and Nhan at their appeals court trial in 2007, Dinh said: "Talking about democracy and human rights cannot be seen as anti-government unless the government itself is against democracy."

The outspoken lawyer is also known for his public criticism of controversial bauxite mines in Vietnam's Central Highlands and of China's claims to disputed offshore islands in the South China Sea. In interviews with the BBC and Radio Free Asia, Dinh has called for political pluralism to accompany economic pluralism in Vietnam, currently a one-party state controlled by the Vietnamese Communist Party.

In articles in the Vietnamese state media, authorities accuse Dinh of providing "distorted information" about Vietnam's government and its leaders to international press agencies and websites, "colluding" with domestic and foreign "reactionaries" to sabotage the government, and calling for multi-party reforms in published documents, articles posted on the internet, and interviews with foreign media.

Most political and religious prisoners in Vietnam do not have access to independent legal counsel during their trials.

Other lawyers seeking to defend Vietnamese human rights defenders and religious freedom activists have faced threats and harassment. They include Bui Kim Thanh, who was involuntarily committed to a mental institution in 2008 and 2006 because of her defense of farmers seeking redress for confiscation of their land, and Le Tran Luat, who is defending Catholic parishioners from Thai Ha parish in Hanoi calling for return of government-confiscated church properties.

During 2009, police have raided Luat's law office in Ho Chi Minh City several times, confiscating computers, documents and files. Authorities also prevented him from traveling to Hanoi in March to meet with his clients, detained and interrogated him on several occasions, and pressured him to drop the Thai Ha case. In addition, the state-controlled press has run articles accusing Luat of fraud, and his local bar association in Ninh Thuan has opened an investigation into his activities.

"Le Cong Dinh's arrest is part of an ongoing pattern of harassment by the Vietnamese government of human rights and democracy activists - and lawyers seeking to defend their rights to free speech," said Pearson. "Lawyers - like all citizens - have the right to exercise free speech and peacefully express their views."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

US Spokesman: We urge the Government of Vietnam to release Mr. Dinh immediately and unconditionally

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Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > Press Releases: 2009 > Press Releases: June 2009

Vietnam: Arrest of Lawyer Le Cong Dinh

Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman
Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC

June 15, 2009


The United States is deeply concerned by the arrest by Vietnamese authorities of lawyer Le Cong Dinh on June 13 on charges of “distributing propaganda against the state.” Vietnamese officials have stated that Dinh was arrested because of his defense of pro-democracy activists and his use of the Internet to express his views.

Mr. Dinh is a well-respected member of the Vietnamese and international legal communities, and a former Fulbright scholar. No individual should be arrested for expressing the right to free speech, and no lawyer should be punished because of the individuals they choose to counsel.

Vietnam’s arrest of Mr. Dinh contradicts the government’s own commitment to internationally-accepted standards of human rights and to the rule of law. We urge the Government of Vietnam to release Mr. Dinh immediately and unconditionally, as well as all other prisoners in detention for peacefully expressing their views.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Social Capital and Civil Society - Francis Fukuyama

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Social Capital and Civil Society

Francis Fukuyama
The Institute of Public Policy
George Mason University

October 1, 1999
Prepared for delivery at the IMF Conference on Second Generation Reforms

Contents

What is Social Capital?
What Functions Does Social Capital Play in a Free-Market Liberal Democracy?
How Do We Measure Social Capital?
Where Does Social Capital Come From?
How Can We Increase the Stock of Social Capital?

Figure
Figure I. Networks of Trust


Social capital is important to the efficient functioning of modern economies, and is the sine qua non of stable liberal democracy. It constitutes the cultural component of modern societies, which in other respects have been organized since the Enlightenment on the basis of formal institutions, the rule of law, and rationality. Building social capital has typically been seen as a task for "second generation" economic reform; but unlike economic policies or even economic institutions, social capital cannot be so easily created or shaped by public policy. This paper will define social capital, explore its economic and political functions, as well as its origins, and make some suggestions for how it can be cultivated.

I. What is Social Capital?

While social capital has been given a number of different definitions, many of them refer to manifestations of social capital rather than to social capital itself. The definition I will use in this paper is: social capital is an instantiated informal norm that promotes cooperation between two or more individuals. The norms that constitute social capital can range from a norm of reciprocity between two friends, all the way up to complex and elaborately articulated doctrines like Christianity or Confucianism. They must be instantiated in an actual human relationship: the norm of reciprocity exists in potentia in my dealings with all people, but is actualized only in my dealings with my friends. By this definition, trust, networks, civil society, and the like which have been associated with social capital are all epiphenominal, arising as a result of social capital but not constituting social capital itself.

Not just any set of instantiated norms constitutes social capital; they must lead to cooperation in groups and therefore are related to traditional virtues like honesty, the keeping of commitments, reliable performance of duties, reciprocity, and the like. A norm like the one described by Edward Banfield as characterizing southern Italy, which enjoins individuals to trust members of their immediate nuclear family but to take advantage of everyone else, is clearly not the basis of social capital outside the family. [1]

James Coleman, who was responsible for bringing the term social capital into wider use in recent years, once argued that it was a public good and therefore would be underproduced by private agents interacting in markets[2]. This is clearly wrong: since cooperation is necessary to virtually all individuals as a means of achieving their selfish ends, it stands to reason that they will produce it as a private good (see Section IV below). In Partha Dasgupta's phrase, social capital is a private good that is nonetheless pervaded by externalities, both positive and negative.[3]

An example of a positive externality is Puritanism's injunction, described by Max Weber, to treat all people morally, and not just members of the sib or family [4].The potential for cooperation thus spreads beyond the immediate group of people sharing Puritan norms. Negative externalities abound, as well. Many groups achieve internal cohesion at the expense of outsiders, who can be treated with suspicion, hostility, or outright hatred. Both the Ku Klux Klan and the Mafia achieve cooperative ends on the basis of shared norms, and therefore have social capital, but they also produce abundant negative externalities for the larger society in which they are embedded.

It is sometimes argued that social capital differs from other forms of capital because it leads to bad results like hate groups or inbred bureaucracies. This does not disqualify it as a form of capital; physical capital can take the form of assault rifles or tasteless entertainment, while human capital can be used to devise new ways of torturing people. Since societies have laws to prevent the production of many social "bads," we can presume that most legal forms of social capital are no less "goods" than the other forms of capital insofar as they help people achieve their aims.

Perhaps the reason that that social capital seems less obviously a social good than physical or human capital is because it tends to produce more in the way of negative externalities than either of the other two forms. This is because group solidarity in human communities is often purchased at the price of hostility towards out-group members. There appears to be a natural human proclivity for dividing the world into friends and enemies that is the basis of all politics.[5] It is thus very important when measuring social capital to consider its true utility net of its externalities.

Another way of approaching this question is through the concept of the "radius of trust."[6] All groups embodying social capital have a certain radius of trust, that is, the circle of people among whom cooperative norms are operative. If a group's social capital produces positive externalities, the radius of trust can be larger than the group itself. It is also possible for the radius of trust to be smaller than the membership of the group, as in large organiza-tions that foster cooperative norms only among the group's leadership or permanent staff. A modern society may be thought of as a series of concentric and overlapping radii of trust (see Figure 1). These can range from friends and cliques up through NGOs and religious groups.

Virtually all forms of traditional culture-social groups like tribes, clans, village associations, religious sects, etc.-are based on shared norms and use these norms to achieve cooperative ends. The literature on development has not, as a general rule, found social capital in this form to be an asset; it is much more typically regarded as a liability. Economic modernization was seen as antithetical to traditional culture and social organizations, and would either wipe them away or else be itself blocked by forces of traditionalism. Why should this be so, if social capital is genuinely a form of capital?

The reason, in my view, has to do with the fact that such groups have a narrow radius of trust. In-group solidarity reduces the ability of group members to cooperate with outsiders, and often imposes negative externalities on the latter. For example, in the Chinese parts of East Asia and much of Latin America, social capital resides largely in families and a rather narrow circle of personal friends.[7] It is difficult for people to trust those outside of these narrow circles. Strangers fall into a different category than kin; a lower standard of moral behavior applies when one becomes, for example, a public officials. This provides cultural reinforcement for corruption: in such societies, one feels entitled to steal on behalf of one's family.

Traditional social groups are also afflicted with an absence of what Mark Granovetter calls "weak ties," [8] that is, heterodox individuals at the periphery of the society's various social networks who are able to move between groups and thereby become bearers of new ideas and information. Traditional societies are often segmentary, that is, they are composed of a large number of identical, self-contained social units like villages or tribes. Modern societies, by contrast, consist of a large number of overlapping social groups that permit multiple memberships and identities. Traditional societies have fewer opportunities for weak ties among the segments that make it up, and therefore pass on information, innovation, and human resources less easily.

II. What Functions Does Social Capital Play in a Free-Market Liberal Democracy?

The economic function of social capital is to reduce the transaction costs associated with formal coordination mechanisms like contracts, hierarchies, bureaucratic rules, and the like. It is of course possible to achieve coordinated action among a group of people possessing no social capital, but this would presumably entail additional transaction costs of monitoring, negotiating, litigating, and enforcing formal agreements. No contract can possibly specify every contingency that may arise between the parties; most presuppose a certain amount of goodwill that prevents the parties from taking advantage of unforeseen loopholes. Contracts that do seek to try to specify all contingencies-like the job-control labor pacts negotiated in the auto industry that were as thick as telephone books-end up being very inflexible and costly to enforce.

There was a period when social scientists assumed that modernization necessarily entailed the progressive replacement of informal coordination mechanisms with formal ones. There was presumably a period in human history in which formal law and organizations scarcely existed, and in which social capital was the only means of achieving coordinated action; Max Weber argued that, by contrast, rational bureaucracy constituted the essence of modernity.

The fact of the matter is that coordination based on informal norms remains an important part of modern economies, and arguably becomes more important as the nature of economic activity becomes more complex and technologically sophisticated. [9] Many complex services are very costly to monitor and are better controlled through internalized professional standards than through formal monitoring mechanisms. A highly educated software engineer often knows much more about his or her own productivity than his or her supervisor; procurement is often more efficient when left to the judgment of an experienced procurement officer, rather than being done "by the book" as in the case of a good deal of government procurement. A number of empirical studies suggest that high-tech R&D is often dependent on the informal exchange of intellectual property rights, simply because formal exchange would entail excessive transaction costs and slow down the speed of interchange. [10]

Even in non-hi-tech environments, social capital often leads to greater efficiency than purely formal coordination techniques. Classical Taylorism, which organized workplaces in a highly centralized, bureaucratized manner, created many inefficiencies as decisions were delayed and information distorted while moving up and down hierarchical chains of command. In many manufacturing facilities, Taylorism has been replaced by much flatter management structures which in effect push responsibility down to the factory floor itself. Workers who are much closer to the sources of local knowledge are authorized to make decisions on their own, rather than referring them up a managerial hierarchy. This often leads to great gains in efficiency, [11] but is totally dependent on the social capital of the workforce. If there is distrust between workers and managers, or widespread opportunism, then the delegation of authority required in a typical "lean" manufacturing system will lead to instant paralysis. This is in effect what happened to General Motors during the strikes of 1996 and 1998, when a single dissident local (angry, in the first instance, over the outsourcing of brake parts) was able to shut down the company's entire North American operations.[12]

The political function of social capital in a modern democracy was best elucidated by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America, who used the phrase the "art of association" to describe Americans' propensity for civil association. According to Tocqueville, a modern democracy tends to wipe away most forms of social class or inherited status that bind people together in aristocratic societies. Men are left equally free, but weak in their equality since they are born with no conventional attachments. The vice of modern democracy is to promote excessive individualism, that is, a preoccupation with one's private life and family, and an unwillingness to engage in public affairs. Americans combated this tendency towards excessive individualism by their propensity for voluntary association, which led them to form groups both trivial and important for all aspects of their lives. This stood in sharp contrast to his native France, which was beset by a much more thoroughgoing individualism than the United States. As Tocqueville explained in The Old Regime and the French Revolution, on the eve of the Revolution "there were not ten Frenchmen who could come together for a common cause." It was only by coming together in civil associations that weak individuals became strong; the associations they formed could either participate directly in political life (as in the case of a political party or interest group) or could serve as "schools of citizenship" where individuals learned the habits of cooperation that would eventually carry over into public life.

An abundant stock of social capital is presumably what produces a dense civil society, which in turn has been almost universally seen as a necessary condition for modern liberal democracy (in Ernest Gellner's phrase, "no civil society, no democracy") [13]. If a democracy is in fact liberal, it maintains a protected sphere of individual liberty where the state is constrained from interfering. If such a political system is not to degenerate into anarchy, the society that subsists in that protected sphere must be capable of organizing itself. Civil society serves to balance the power of the state and to protect individuals from the state's power.

In the absence of civil society, the state often needs to step in to organize individuals who are incapable of organizing themselves. The result of excessive individualism is therefore not freedom, but rather the tyranny of what Tocqueville saw as a large and benevolent state that hovered over society and, like a father, saw to all of its needs. Low levels of social capital lead to a number of political dysfunctions, which have been extensively documented. Following Tocqueville's analysis of France, many observers have noted how administrative centralization has led to an excessively rigid and unresponsive political system, one that can be changed only through anti-systemic upsurges such as the évenements of 1968.[14] Low levels of social capital have been linked to inefficient local government in southern Italy, as well as to the region's pervasive corruption [15].In many Latin American societies, a narrow radius of trust produces a two-tier moral system, with good behavior reserved for family and personal friends, and a decidedly lower standard of behavior in the public sphere. This serves as a cultural foundation for corruption, which is often regarded as a legitimate way of looking after one's family.

It is of course also possible to have too much of a good thing. One person's civic engagement is another's rent-seeking; much of what constitutes civil society can be described as interest groups trying to divert public resources to their favored causes, whether sugar-beet farming, women's health care, or the protection of biodiversity. The public choice literature has analyzed the baleful consequences of rent-seeking for modern democracies at great length; Mancur Olson has argued that Britain's long-term economic decline was due to the long-term buildup of entrenched interest groups there [16]. There is no guarantee that self-styled public interest NGOs actually represent real public interests. It is entirely possible that too active an NGO sector may represent an excessive politicization of public life, which can either distort public policy or lead to deadlock [17].

Despite the possibility that a society has have too much social capital, it is doubtless worse to have too little. For in addition to being a source of spontaneously-organized groups, social capital is vital to the proper functioning of formal public institutions. It is sometimes argued that it is more useful to compare societies in institutional rather than cultural terms. Chalmers Johnson, for example, argues that differences in Japanese and American economic policy is not culturally based, but simply the result of the fact that Japan had MITI and the United States did not [18].The implication is that were the US to create an equivalent of MITI in Washington, it would have similar consequences. But there are any number of reasons for thinking that different societies have different cultural capacities for institution-building. Japan's deployment of an economic planning agency with enormous power over credit allocation did not lead to the same levels of rent-seeking and outright corruption that comparable agencies have brought about in Latin America or Africa (or indeed the US, were it to follow Japan's example). This is testimony to a number of Japanese cultural characteristics: the respect given bureaucrats, their high level of training and professionalism, the general deference to authority in Japanese society, etc., and it suggests that some institutions cannot be readily transferred to other societies lacking social capital.

III. How Do We Measure Social Capital?

One of the greatest weaknesses of the social capital concept is the absence of consensus on how to measure it. At least two broad approaches have been taken: the first, to conduct a census of groups and group memberships in a given society, and the second, to use survey data on levels of trust and civic engagement. At the end of this section, I will suggest a third metric that may point to a measure of social capital within private firms. Robert Putnam has tried to measure social capital by counting groups in civil society, using a number n to track size of memberships in sports clubs, bowling leagues, literary societies, political clubs, and the like as they vary over time and across different geographical regions. There are, in fact, a large number of n's in any given society, n1..t. Hence the first measure for the total social capital (SC) in a society is the sum of the membership of all groups,

(1) SC = n1..t.

Both n and t are important measures of civil society. A small value for n may limit the kinds of ends a group can achieve; families, for example, are good at socializing children and running family restaurants, but not very good at exerting political influence or manufacturing semiconductors. The variable t itself constitutes a separate of measure of civil society; unfortunately, limitations in the data prohibit our knowing what t is for a given society, or how many missing or undercounted data elements there are between n1 and nt. A number of attempts have been made to produce censuses of groups and associations in the United States. One was done by the US Department of Commerce in 1949, which estimated that there were 201,000 nonprofit voluntary trade and business organizations, women's groups, labor unions, civic service groups, luncheon clubs, and professional groups at all levels of American society.[19] Lester Salamon estimates that by 1989 there were 1.14 million nonprofits in the US, indicating an overall rate of growth much higher than that of the population as a whole [20]. The near-impossibility of producing a complete census that catalogues the whole range of informal networks and cliques in a modern society is suggested by the Yankee City study, which counted some 22,000 different groups in a community of 17,000 people [21]. Changing technology changes forms of association: how do we account for the proliferation of on-line discussion groups, chat rooms, and e-mail conversations that have exploded with the spread of personal computers in the 1990s? [22]

N and t may also be inversely correlated (that is, the larger the average size of groups, the fewer there are); on the other hand, because individuals can hold overlapping memberships in multiple groups, they need not be.
It is clear that each of these n1..t groups is characterized by a different level of internal cohesion and therefore collective action. Bowling leagues are not capable of storming beaches or lobbying Congress, so some qualitative coefficient must be added to provide some measure of cohesion. Let us call this coefficient c. Unfortunately, there is no accepted method for measuring the internal cohesiveness of groups; each one of the c coefficients would have to be determined subjectively by an outside observer who would note the types of activities the group could undertake and their difficulty, its cohesion under stressful circumstances, and other factors. Despite the subjective nature of its derivation, it is clear that c varies across groups and is a critical qualitative measure of social capital. Hence a society's total stock of social capital would be expressed as

(2) SC = (cn)1..t.

As noted above, social capital is more heavily pervaded by externalities than other forms of capital, so measurement of a nation's stock of social capital must take these externalities into account. The radius of trust can be thought of as a type of positive externality (which we will therefore designate as rp) because it is a benefit that accrues to the group independently of the collective action that the group formally seeks to achieve. For example, a sect that encourages its members to be honest and reliable will foster better business relationships when they deal with each other economically, in addition to the sect's religious objectives.

For many groups, the radius of trust would extend to the whole group; this is true of most families, for example. The rp coefficient in this case is 1, and the total amount of social capital in the society would therefore be expressed as

(3) SC = (rpcn)1..t.

Certain groups, particularly larger ones, are characterized by internal hierarchy, a division of labor, status and functional distinctions, etc. While the group may be united around some common interest or passion, the degree to which individual members are capable of collective action on the basis of mutual trust depends on their relative position within the organization. Putnam rightly distinguishes between what he calls a "membership organization" like the American Association of Retired People (AARP), which, at more than 33 million members, is second only to the Catholic Church in size. Such a group has a very large n-value, but most of its members simply contribute yearly dues, receive a newsletter, and would have little reason for cooperating with one another on any issue not related to pensions or health benefits. For such an organization, the rp coefficient may be very small, limited to (for example) those people who work full-time in its national headquarters (though even there, there are presumably many employees who are simply wage-earners and not part of the trust network).

On the other hand, it is possible for a group to have an rp coefficient larger than 1. To take the earlier example of the religious sect that encourages honesty and reliability, if these traits are demanded of its members in their dealings not just with other members of the sect but generally in their dealings with other people, then there will be a positive spillover effect into the larger society. Again, Weber argued in effect that sectarian Puritans had an rp value greater than 1.

The final factor affecting a society's supply of social capital concerns not the internal cohesiveness of groups, but rather the way in which they relate to outsiders. Strong moral bonds within a group in some cases may actually serve to decrease the degree to which members of that group are able to trust outsiders and work effectively with them. A highly disciplined, well-organized group sharing strong common values may be capable of highly coordinated collective action, and yet may nonetheless be a social liability. I earlier noted the fact that strongly familistic societies like China and central-southern Italy were characterized by an absence of a broader, generalized social trust outside the family. At best, this prevents the group from receiving beneficial influences from the outside environment; at worst, it may actively breed distrust, intolerance, or even hatred for and violence toward outsiders. Certain groups may be actively harmful to other parts of society-criminal organizations like the Mafia or the Crips and Bloods come to mind. A society made up of the Ku Klux Klan, the Nation of Islam, the Michigan Militia, and various self-regarding ethnic and racial organizations may score very high in terms of last three of the four variables given in expression (3), and each group may have an rp of 1, and yet overall it would be hard to say that such a society had a large stock of social capital.

Group affiliation can therefore produce a negative externality which we can think of as the radius of distrust, or rn. The larger the rn value, the greater the liability that group represents to the surrounding society; hence the measure for a single group's social capital, rpcn, needs to be multiplied by the reciprocal of rn. (All rn values, we assume, must be 1 or greater.) The final value for a society's total stock of social capital would then be:

(1.4) SC = ((1/rn)rpcn)1..t.

To some extent, we could expect that c and rn might be positively correlated with one another. That is, internal cohesiveness is often based on strongly shared norms and values within a group: both the Marines and the Mormon Church are examples. But the very strength of those internal bonds creates something of a gulf between members of the group and those on the outside. Latitudinarian organizations like most contemporary mainline Protestant denominations in the United States, by contrast, easily coexist with other groups in the society, and yet are capable of a much lower level of collective action. Ideally, one would like to maximize the c and and minimize the rn values: such would be the case, for example, in a professional organization that socializes its members into the values of its particular profession, while not at the same time breeding distrust of other professions or being closed to influences from them.

As this exercise indicates, producing anything like a believable census of a society's stock of social capital is a nearly impossible task, since it involves multiplying numbers that are either subjectively estimated or simply nonexistent. This leads us to the other source of data that has been used as a proxy for social capital, survey data on trust and civic engagement. There are a number of data sources that are useful here, such as the National Opinion Research Council's General Social Survey (for the US) and the University of Michigan's World Values Survey (for international data). Each of these surveys asks a series of question concerning trust in various political and social institutions, as well as others probing the respondents' level of participation in voluntary organizations. There are manifold problems with survey data, of course, beginning with the fact that responses will vary according to the way the question is phrased and who is asking it, to the absence of consistent data for many countries and many time periods. A general question such as "Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?" (asked on both the General Social Survey and World Values Survey) won't give you very much precise information about the radius of trust among the respondents, or their relative propensities to cooperate with family, co-ethnics, co-religionists, complete strangers, and the like.

A third possible way of measuring social capital in specific organizations may be to look at changes in market valuations of a company before and after takeover offers. The market capitalization of any company represents the sum of both tangible and intangible assets; among the latter is, presumably, the social capital embodied in the firm's workers and management. There is no accepted methodology for separating out the social capital component of the intangible assets, which include other things like brand names, good will, expectations of future market conditions, and the like. Firms being taken over by other firms, however, are usually bought at a premium to their pre-takeover price. In such a situation, we can assume that part of the premium being offered is a measure of the degree to which the new owners believe that they can manage the new firm better than the old owners, with all other factors like tangible assets, expectations about market conditions, etc. being held constant. In many cases, part of the premium being offered represents the cost savings that the new owners expect to achieve through realization of economies of scale and scope; one would have to deduct this from the actual premium to get a measure of the net value of the new management alone. This management premium is not a pure measure of social capital; it may consist partly of human capital rather than social capital. But social capital must constitute a significant part of the residual, since effective management is, after all, nothing more than efficient coordination of the firm's activities. [23]

IV. Where Does Social Capital Come From?

If we define social capital as instantiated, informal norms that produce cooperation, economists have a straightforward explanation of where it comes from: social capital arises spontaneously as a product of iterated Prisoners Dilemma (PD) games. A one-shot PD game does not lead to a cooperative outcome because defection constitutes a Nash equilibrium for both players; if the game is iterated, however, a simple strategy like tit-for-tat (playing cooperation for cooperation and defection for defection) leads both players to a cooperative outcome. In non-game theoretic turns, if individuals interact with each other repeatedly over time, they develop a stake in a reputation for honesty and reliability. Market interactions in a commercial society leads, as Adam Smith observed, to the development of bourgeois social virtues like honesty, industriousness, and prudence [24]. A society composed entirely of Kant's "rational devils" will develop social capital over time, simply as a matter of the devils' long-term self-interest.

Social capital is clearly spontaneously generated all the time through the playing of iterated PD games. Both Robert Ellickson [25] and Elinor Ostrom [26] have catalogued many empirical cases of cooperative norms arising as a result of repeated community interaction. The latter's database of instances in which communities have successfully dealt with common pool resource problems is particularly interesting because this class of problems constitutes an n-sided PD game which should theoretically be much harder to solve through iteration than a two-player game.

The economists' approach to understanding how social capital is generated is ultimately very limited, however. The problem is that social capital more often than not is produced by hierarchical sources of authority, which lay down norms and expect obedience to them for totally a-rational reasons. The world's major religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam, or large cultural systems like Confucianism, are examples. Not only do norms from such sources not come about through decentralized bargaining; they are transmitted from one generation to the next through a process of socialization that involves much more habit than reason. Path dependence-another word for tradition-means that norms that are clearly socially suboptimal can persist for very long periods of time.

It is, of course, possible to try to give economic or rational explanations for religious and cultural phenomena, and thus to try to fit them into some larger theory of social behavior based on rational choice. There was for some time a school of "functionalist" sociology and anthropology that tried to find rational utilitarian reasons for the most bizarre social rules. The Hindu ban on eating cows was ascribed, for example, to the fact that cows were resources that had to be protected for other uses like plowing and dairy-farming. Similarly, one could try to explain the Protestant Reformation in terms of the economic conditions prevailing in central Europe in the sixteenth century that led people to respond to religious reformers like Luther, Calvin, and Melanchthon. But ultimately, these accounts prove to be unsatisfying because they are too reductionist; all such historical developments usually incorporate a substantial measure of chance, genius, accident, or creativity that cannot be explained in terms of prior conditions. Max Weber stood Marx on his head by arguing that the cultural "superstructure" actually produced the economic "substructure": it was the moral values inculcated by Puritanism, and particularly the fact that virtues like honesty and reciprocity now had to be practiced beyond the family, that made the modern capitalist world possible in the first place. In Weber's account, culture was the uncaused cause, the product of "charisma."

Religion continues to be a factor in economic development. One of the most important and underrated cultural revolutions going on in the world today is the conversion of Catholics to Protestantism by (largely) American evangelicals and Mormons. This process, which has now been under empirical observation for nearly two generations, has produced social effects in the poor communities where it has occurred not unlike those ascribed to Puritanism by Weber: converts to Protestantism find their incomes, education levels, hygiene, and social networks expanding. [27]

Apart from religion, shared historical experience can shape informal norms and produce social capital. Both Germany and Japan experienced considerable labor unrest and conflict between workers, managers, and the state in the 1920s and 30s. The Nazis and Japan's military rulers ultimately suppressed independent labor unions and replaced them with "yellow" ones. After their defeat in World War II, the democratic successor regimes opted for a much more consensual approach to management-labor relations that produced Germany's postwar Sozialmarktwirtschaft and Japan's lifetime employment system. Whatever their current dysfunctions, these institutions played a critical role in allowing the two societies to return to growth after the war, and constituted a form of social capital.

V. How Can We Increase the Stock of Social Capital?

The discussion of where social capital comes from should be informative to policymakers who want to increase the stock of social capital in a given country. States can both do some positive things to create social capital, and forebear from doing others that deplete a society's stock. We can make four observations.

First, states do not have many obvious levers for creating many forms of social capital. Social capital is frequently a byproduct of religion, tradition, shared historical experience, and other factors that lie outside the control of any government. Public policy can be aware of already existing forms of social capital-for example, the social networks used to develop information for microlending-but it cannot duplicate the effect of religion as a source of shared values. Policymakers also need to be aware that social capital, particularly when associated with groups that have a narrow radius of trust-can produce negative externalities and be detrimental to the larger society.

Second, the area where governments probably have the greatest direct ability to generate social capital is education. Educational institutions do not simply transmit human capital, they also pass on social capital in the form of social rules and norms. This is true not just in primary and secondary education, but in higher and professional education as well. Doctors learn not just medicine but the Hippocratic oath; one of the greatest safeguards against corruption is to give senior bureaucrats high-quality professional training and to create an esprit de corps among this elite.

Third, states indirectly foster the creation of social capital by efficiently providing necessary public goods, particularly property rights and public safety. Diego Gambetta has shown that the Sicilian Mafia can be understood as a private protector of property rights in a part of Italy where the state has historically failed to perform this function. [28] Something similar to this has sprung up in Russia during the 1990s. Private property rights protection is very inferior to the state-supplied version, since there is nothing to prevent these private providers from getting into a host of other illegal activities as well. There are also economies of scale in the deployment of coercive force used to enforce property rights. People cannot associate, volunteer, vote, or take care of one another if they have to fear for their lives when walking down the street. Given a stable and safe environment for public interaction and property rights, it is more likely that trust will arise spontaneously as a result of iterated interactions of rational individuals.

Fourth, states can have a serious negative impact on social capital when they start to undertake activities that are better left to the private sector or to civil society. The ability to cooperate is based on habit and practice; if the state gets into the business of organizing everything, people will become dependent on it and lose their spontaneous ability to work with one another. France had a rich civil society at the end of the Middle Ages, but horizontal trust between individuals weakened as a result of a centralizing state that set Frenchmen at each other through a system of petty privileges and status distinctions. The same thing occurred in the former Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution, where the Communist Party consciously sought to undermine all forms of horizontal association in favor of vertical ties between Party-State and individual. This has left post-Soviet society bereft of both trust and a durable civil society. There are, of course, good reasons why countries should restrict the size of their state sectors for economic reasons. On top of this, one can add a cultural motive of preserving a sphere for individual action and initiative in building civil associations.

If we look beyond the role of the state, there remain at least two additional sources of social capital. The first is religion. General social science theories about the inevitability of secularization appear to apply primarily to Western Europe; there is little evidence that religion is losing its grip elsewhere, including the United States [29]. Religiously-inspired cultural change remains a live option in many parts of the world; the Islamic world and Latin America have both seen the growth of new forms of religiosity in recent decades. Obviously, not all forms of religion are positive from the standpoint of social capital; sectarianism can breed intolerance, hatred, and violence. But religion has also historically been one of the most important sources of culture, and is likely to remain so in the future.

The second source of social capital in developing countries is globalization. Globalization has been the bearer not just of capital but of ideas and culture as well. Everyone is well aware of the ways in which globalization injures indigenous cultures and threatens longstanding traditions. But it also leaves new ideas, habits, and practices in its wake, from accounting standards to management practices to NGO activities. It is not just investment bankers who can take advantage of the global communications and information revolution; activists of all sorts from environmentalists to labor organizers can now operate transnationally to a much greater extent than before. [30] The issue, for most societies, is whether they are net losers or gainers from this process, that is, whether globalization breaks down traditional cultural communities without leaving anything positive in its wake, or rather, is an external shock that breaks apart dysfunctional traditionals and social groups and becomes the entering wedge for modernity.


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[1] Edward Banfield, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1958).
[2] James S. Coleman, "Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital," American Journal of Sociology Supplement 94 (1988): S95-S120.
[3] Partha Dasgupta, "Economic Development and the Idea of Social Capital," unpublished paper, March 1997.
[4] According to Weber, "The great achievement of ethical religions, above all of the ethical and asceticist sects of Protestantism, was to shatter the fetters of the sib." The Religion of China (New York: Free Press, 1951), p. 237.
[5] See Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (New York: Free Press, 1995), chapter 9.
[6] To my knowledge, the first person to use this term was Lawrence Harrison in Underdevelopment is a State of Mind: The Latin American Case (New York: Madison Books, 1985), pp. 7-8.
[7] Fukuyama (1999).
[8] Mark S. Granovetter, "The Strength of Weak Ties," American Journal of Sociology 78 (1973): 1360-80.
[9] For a fuller treatment of this issue, see Francis Fukuyama, The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order (New York: Free Press, 1999), chapter 12.
[10] See, for example, Annalee Saxenian, Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994), which gives numerous examples of informal intellectual property exchange in Silicon Valley.
[11] See James P. Womack and D. Jones, The Machine that Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production (New York: Harper Perennial, 1991).
[12] Fukuyama (1999), chapter 13.
[13] Ernest Gellner in Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and Its Rivals (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1994).
[14] See, for example, Michel Crozier, The Bureaucratic Phenomenon (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1964); Stanley Hoffmann, Decline or Renewal? France since the 1930s (New York: Viking Press, 1974); Stanley Hoffmann and Charles Kindleberger, In Search of France (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963).
[15] Edward Banfield in The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1958); Robert D. Putnam, Making Democracy Work : Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993).
[16] Mancur Olson, The Rise and Decline of Nations (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982).
[17] Larry Diamond, "Rethinking Civil Society," Journal of Democracy 5 (1994): 5-17.
[18] Johnson, Chalmers, MITI and the Japanese Miracle (Stanford, Ca.: Stanford University Press, 1982).
[19] Calvert J. Judkins, National Associations of the United States (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Commerce, 1949). I am very grateful to Marcella Rey for this and other references concerning measures of group memberships.
[20] Lester M. Salamon, America's Nonprofit Sector (New York: The Foundation Center, 1992).
[21] W. Lloyd Warner, J. O. Low, Paul S. Lunt, and Leo Srole, Yankee City (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1963).
[22] Apart from the difficulty in counting the number of such groups, there are a number of complex issues in assessing the quality of the relationships engendered by them. Ladd contests Putnam's dismissal of many new advocacy groups as mere "membership groups." He shows that not only have memberships in large environmental organizations like the Nature Conservancy or the World Wildlife Fund grown substantially, but the quality of the relationships formed among these groups' members goes well beyond writing a yearly dues check. He points to one study that shows how a single local chapter of a single environmental organization sponsored countless hikes, bike trips, backpacking classes, and the like, all of which presumably fostered personal relationships and had spillover effects on social capital.
[23] The case could probably be made that social capital is the most intangible of all intangible assets, and tends to be consistently undervalued by markets because it is so difficult to measure. Many mergers and acquisitions have involved radical downsizing of company work forces. This achieved cost savings in terms of current wages, but undermined trust and therefore social capital among the firm's remaining workers-a process popularly known as "dumbsizing." Wall Street is obviously better able to measure the immediate labor cost savings than the longer-term impacts of such actions on the firm's social capital.
[24] Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Classics, 1982), Part One, I.4.7; Part Seven, IV.25
[25] Robert C. Ellickson, Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1991).
[26] Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
[27] David Martin, Tongues of Fire. The Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990); David Stoll, Is Latin America Turning Protestant? The Politics of Evangelical Growth (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990).
[28] Diego Gambetta, The Sicilian Mafia: the business of private protection (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993).
[29] David Martin, A General Theory of Secularization (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978); Peter L. Berger, "Secularism in Retreat," National Interest no. 46 (1996): 3-12.
[30] Jessica Matthews, "Power Shift," Foreign Affairs 76 (1997): 50-66.

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