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Lies of the Beholder: Biden Congratulates Ukraine for “Success” as Prime Minister Resigns Over “Artificially Created” Crisis

Lies of the Beholder: Biden Congratulates Ukraine for “Success” as Prime Minister Resigns Over “Artificially Created” Crisis

Today, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk resigned, accusing the president’s party of plunging the war-scarred and recession-ravaged country into an “artificially created crisis”.

In response, US vice-president Joseph Biden’s office congratulated the Ukrainian government for a job well done.

In a surreal story difficult for even The Onion to make up, please consider Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk Resigns.

Ukraine’s prime minister tendered his resignation late on Sunday afternoon, accusing the president’s party of plunging the war-scarred and recession-ravaged country into an “artificially created” crisis.

“The country’s political crisis was unleashed artificially . . . the desire to change one person blinded politicians and paralysed their will for real change,” Mr Yatseniuk said on Sunday, adding that his formal resignation letter would be submitted to parliament on Tuesday.

In a statement, US vice-president Joseph Biden’s office said that, in a phone conversation with Mr Yatseniuk on Sunday, he: “congratulated the government of Ukraine on its accomplishments over the past two years, in particular on the strides it has made on difficult but necessary economic reforms, the signature of the European Union association agreement, and the work it has done to increase energy independence”.

In a Financial Times interview earlier this year, Mr Yatseniuk complained of being “stabbed in the back” after he faced relentless criticism from presidential MPs over unpopular austerity measures that were parts of a $40bn international lifeline from the International Monetary Fund and other global institutions. Efforts to shift blame for the raising of utility tariffs, for example, on to his political grouping had dented his popularity, fuelled political infighting and derailed the IMF-led programme.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Success Is a Source of Destabilization

Success Is a Source of Destabilization

We tend to assume our system for understanding the cause of failure must be sound, because we’ve experienced Roaring Success for so long.

Rip-Roaring Success is a funny thing: we assume it’s the goal of every person, household, enterprise and nation, but we overlook that rip-roaring success can be as destabilizing as failure.

Rip-Roaring Success can destabilize in a number of ways.

One is the result of human nature. Those who didn’t make it onto the Roaring Success Bus feel the gap widening most keenly. Indeed, psychological studies find we assess our wealth and social position not by the actual material prosperity we have, but by the narrowing or widening of the perceived wealth gap with our peers.

This is precisely the situation in the U.S. and China. Both economies are supposedly expanding smartly, but the gains are concentrated in relatively few hands; the Roaring Success Bus has few seats.

The vast majority perceive themselves as being left behind. That is highly destabilizing.

The second is a function of systems and human nature.

Every extreme eventually tends to revert to the mean, which is another way of saying that extraordinary growth rates of profits, stock market advances, etc. that characterize Rip-Roaring Success eventually return to merely average rates of growth.

This inevitably disappoints all who thought outlier rates of growth were permanent features of the system: Apple iPhone sales, China’s GDP, etc.

This disappointment greatly exceeds the actual decline in the rate of growth, and the oversized reaction tips the system out of stability.

The collapse in the price of oil can be seen as an example: once oil was no longer behaving as expected, i.e. holding to $100/barrel, the reaction was swift and outsized.

The third is a function of organizations and systems.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Everyone is the Mother of Victory

Bella COP illustration 'which way' eyerricksEveryone is the mother of victory; No one is the father of defeat. Do we claim COP21 as a success, and risk watching it being used by fossil fuel failures to carry on burning humanity, and so become complicit in defeat? Do we claim COP21 was a failure, and risk being the naysayers who didn’t recognise the work needed to bring fossil fuels (instead of humanity) to an end? This Loki-esque question about our motives, about our fears for how we might appear, may seem beside the point if the fundamental question is “Was the COP a success or a failure?And there are screeds of excellent articles assessing the outcome of the Paris COP Agreement, the Agreement that is now the world’s governments’ roadmap for addressing climate change.

On the side saying it has been a failure, we have Friends of the EarthClimate Code Red, the New InternationalistKevin Anderson, and a zillion other campaigning groups and scientists:

  • The New Internationalist describes the Paris deal as an ‘Epic fail on a planetary scale’ (see their cartoon history of climate negotiations) and conclude that, although “The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global average temperature rise to ‘well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’” in fact “the emission cuts contained in the agreement are based on voluntary pledges called ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (INDCs) that governments drew up individually before the talks, . . . [and] are going to lead us to 3.7° warming of the planet.”
  • George Monbiot superbly sums up the talks, saying: “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.” He writes that: “A maximum of 1.5C, now an aspirational and unlikely target, was eminently achievable when the first UN climate change conference took place in Berlin in 1995.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fatal Blindness of Unrealistic Expectations

The Fatal Blindness of Unrealistic Expectations

We are damned to fail when we avoid hard truths

My old employer, Yahoo!, has been in the news again of late.

Its latest CEO (and former Googler), Marissa Meyer, is currently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she has just given her first televised interview detailing her strategy for the beleaguered web giant.

I wish her and the current team at Yahoo! well with their plans, I really do. The saga of Yahoo!’s descent over the past decade was heartbreaking to watch and experience from the inside. I’d love to see the company find a way to become a leader again.

But I don’t have faith.

In my opinion, the company can’t be “fixed.” At least not the way the tech pundits and the past parade of Yahoo! CEOs have touted it can.

Why? Because of a congenital failure to define its identity, paired with a chronic refusal to be honest with itself.

I get asked a lot for my opinion regarding Yahoo!’s fall from grace. I believe the seeds of its failure were sown from the beginning, and I’ve come up with the following analogy to make it as intuitive as possible. It all starts at the very formation of the company.

The Importance of Clear Vision

First, look at Google. When the founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page first started collaborating, the Internet had been around for a while and they were insightful enough to realize that the data on the Web was growing exponentially. They reasoned that the company who made it possible to sift through all this data and find the most useful content, when needed, would create immense value.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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