Venezuela’s Sovereignty

The US seems to have launched a coup in Venezuela, the firing pistol has been fired by Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó, the President of the National Assembly who announced himself President in effect seeking to usurp the elected President, Chavista, Nicolás Maduro. The US issued Maduro with an ultimatum to hold new elections within 8 days. This ultimatum has been echoed by the US’s useful idiots in Europe, Germany, France and Spain joined belatedly by the UK.

Maduro’s record on human rights and economic policy management is not good, but then neither is May’s; and we need to review the threshold at which foreign intervention can be authorised. The rule book on this is the UN Charter which forbids aggressive war, we should honour these rules. The UN Human Rights Council condemns the sanctions against Venezuela and the US and Russia are looking at how to get their way in the Security Council.

The BBC reports that

Britain has issued the embattled Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, a stark ultimatum, warning him it would throw its weight behind the country’s self-declared interim leader unless he called an election within the next eight days – as the US government called on the world to “pick a side” in the crisis.

I can’t find the witty riposte that the Venezuela Government has reciprocated by stating that unless May calls a General Election in 8 days, they will recognise Jeremy Corbyn as the Government of the UK.

The Venezuela Solidarity Campaign will be central vehicle for expressing solidarity with the people of Venezuela and they have launched a petition.

We, the undersigned, condemn the open support of the US administration for ‘regime change’ in Venezuela, which is illegal under international law.

Alongside harsh sanctions which have hit the people of Venezuela hard, comments from Trump himself, VP Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo amongst others have included threats of military action, threatened to put Venezuela on the state sponsors of terrorism list and invoked the possibility of a right-wing military coup.

We stand for peace and dialogue, not Trump’s war and ‘regime change’ agenda.

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What is to be done, with Lewisham Council?

Finally I have submitted my thoughts on Lewishams’ Democracy Review. Lewisham Democracy Review by Dave Levy V1_1. My initial thoughts were published in this article on this blog. Three things,

  1. I am shocked at the true legal position, we elect a dictator, with no recall, & no term limits. Executive Mayor’s are not just a first-amongst-equals “Leaders” with a different mandate, it’s an alien form of government, lifted from the US & France and designed to reduce the accountability of the decisions from voters and their political parties. I am equally shocked at the extent to which the Mayor’s power’s are delegated to full time staff.
  2. I have recommended that they abolish the Mayoral system, and in the expectation that this will be rejected,
  3. I recommend a series of reforms to improve the accountability and transparency of the Mayor, Council and senior officials including a recall mechanism, term limits and much improved monitoring of personnel, decisions and programmes.

The deadline is Sunday.

A URL for the document is http://bit.ly/2DA5aho, a SURL for this article is https://wp.me/p9J8FV-1IN …

Risk, bias and planning

Risk, bias and planning

A couple of years ago, I wrote a precis of the McKinsey Quarterly article, “Distortions and deceptions in strategic decisions”. They started with a review of the way human bias can adversely impact strategic investment decisions illustrating it with a story about a mega-merger which failed. They conclude the article with,

Companies can’t afford to ignore the human factor in the making of strategic decisions. They can greatly improve their chances of making good ones by becoming more aware of the way cognitive biases can mislead them, by reviewing their decision-making processes, and by establishing a culture of constructive debate.

The first half of the article examines the propensity to optimism vs. perceptions of loss aversion and argue that portfolio management is a better way to evaluate the risk as lossess can be compensated by other success. I believe though that British management and particularly public sector management is very risk adverse; there is a higher fear of getting things wrong than getting things right although how we end up with Universal Credit, the Boris “vanity lard bus”, his water cannons and his other “erections”, I don’t know.

What made me remember the article was it’s listing of what they call tools to isolate any human bias to me most importantly

Another technique is to request that managers show more of their cards: some companies, for instance, demand that investment recommendations include alternatives, or “next-best” ideas.

I wonder how many of these lessons need to be applied to local authority planning decisions.  Check below/overleaf for more …

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More on the Copyright Directive

I need to thank the Register for publishing this article, “Looming EU copyright rules – tackling Google news article scraping, installing upload filters – under fire from all sides“. It’s written from their seemingly normal editorial line of, how shall we put it, “Copyleft Scepticism”. I am usually on the other side of this debate, but the language in this article is less offensive than usual. Actually it reminded me of a couple of issues which to me have dropped below the horizon, partly because whenever new tech. competes with old media the people who get lost and forgotten are citizens and users. In this article, below/overleaf I write about some of the less obvious side effects of the Link Tax, the cost of Licensing content for small users, question why we permit copyright protection for news, the corollary of weak fair use laws,  the corollary of the economics of upload filters, and the impact of the growing unpopularity of Google. I published my diatribe on the bad economics and moral vacancy of the copyright business in on this blog in a post entitled, “A failure to serve Fans”. This article is meant to be a bit more targeted and a bit off-piste. … …

Berlinische Gallerie

While in Berlin, I visited the Berlinische Gallerie, the modern art gallery, they had a couple of exhibitions and some standing exhibits,the former included Julian Charière’s “As we used to float”, and Freedom by the November Group. I bought some post cards to remind me of the visit.

I looked at the November Gruppe photography exhibits. Some of the propaganda pictures, particularly a magazine front page illustrating two women on the front of the Berlin illustrated times, it could have come from the Soviet Union, showing in my mind the unity of the working class, I dout this was the message hoped for by their authors but there we are.

I have observed before, and I am sure it’s not original that photography changed painting as painting can never meet the realism of photography but the photo exhibits showed the German/Berliner experimentation with photographic techniques as artistic expression, so it moves in a full circle.

In the post war room,they tried to tell the story of a conflict of styles, Abstract vs. Socialist realism; I quite enjoyed the big picture used to illustrate the West’s adoption of abstract, but I couldn’t find a post card; it reminded me of some of Jackson Pollock’s work but with a lot less black. I was underwhelmed by what they chose to illustrate the East’s Socialist Realist art. The picture above, which I don;’t think was exhibited was painted in 1976, and would seem to be an interpretation of Berlin at the time, or at least more like what I expected. (The artist, Karl Horst Hödicke, would seem to have lived and studied in West Berlin.) …  …