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Mar 5
“Former NATO Commander Explains Ukraine Crisis

Unidentified armed men patrol around a Ukraine’s infantry base in Perevalne, Ukraine, March 2, 2014.


Russia has invaded the Crimean region of the sovereign nation of Ukraine with a military force, many of whom are not wearing appropriate military insignia, that numbers more than 15,000.

Ukraine is divided between a Ukrainian-speaking majority and a significant minority of Russian speakers. There are deep historical ties between Ukraine and Russia going back centuries, and the linkages are particularly strong in the small peninsula of Crimea, which is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet — one-fourth of the entire Russian Navy. The ships and sailors reside in the area under a long-term lease between Russia and Crimea.

The justification for the invasion, as Russian President Vladimir Putin laid out on Tuesday, is to protect Russian citizens in Crimea, ensure the safety of the Black Sea Fleet, protect the Russian-speaking minority of the country and stabilize the political situation.


Ukrainian officers wait for the results of the talks between their commanding officers and Russian troops at the Belbek air base, outside Sevastopol, Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

Russia also wants a return to the previously negotiated settlement between the current pro-European Union regime in Kiev and the pro-Russian regime of elected President Yanukovich, whose regime was driven from power after firing with snipers on crowds of protestors in Kiev several weeks ago. The new interim, pro-EU regime intends to hold elections in May to legitimize and stabilize the situation in a matter of months (with help from the EU).

The West in general, as well as the United States in particular, has condemned the actions of Russia in invading a sovereign nation without reference to the United Nations. This is a clear violation of international law in the view of most of the world outside of Russia. Even the Chinese, normally staunch allies of Russia in such situations, seem to be distancing themselves from the invasion.

Next steps for the West will include strong political condemnation, perhaps expelling Russia from the G8 group, economic sanctions — probably designed at weakening the Ruble — and, potentially, personal penalties of senior Russian public and political figures. NATO will probably enhance intelligence collection, conduct information sharing and the advising of Ukrainian forces, and potentially provide logistic and other forms of support to them.

Crimea Map

Located in southern Ukraine, the Crimea region is largely made of of Russian-language speakers.

Ukraine has been a strong partner to NATO in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Libya, and on piracy missions off east Africa. NATO may decide to work on contingency plans in case of further aggression on the part of Moscow, especially guarding against the possibility of such a move toward a NATO ally.

During my time as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO from 2009 to 2013, I had the chance to see Ukrainian troops operating alongside NATO troops all over the world. They are tough, dedicated and reasonably capable. While their equipment and general level of training will not stand up to Russian mainstream forces, they are spirited and can be very determined.

Navy Admiral James Stavridis

The author, NATO commander Navy Admiral James Stavridis, left, and Head of Russia’s joint chiefs of staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov, right, are seen during their meeting in Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. During the meeting, Gen. Makarov reiterated Moscow’s concerns over the expansion of NATO’s missile defense system.


It seems unlikely that Russia will withdraw its forces without a very strong reaction from the West. Many observers believe that Putin’s overall strategic objective is to at a minimum set up a sort of “Republic of Crimea” that would be dominated by Russia, much like the enclaves carved out of Georgia in 2008, Abkhasia and Osseita.

The situation is very volatile and dangerous, and the potential for combat between Russian forces and the Ukrainian military is deeply worrisome.

Hopefully the United Nations will be able to broker an agreement that sees Russia stand down and withdraw its troops, with negotiations to follow to protect Russian citizens and property in Ukraine. Until then, the West will probably ratchet up the pressure on Russia as the stand-off continues in the historic Crimean peninsula.


Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) is the dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and served as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO from 2009-2013.


Aug 9





(Source: lovelydisney)






Stephen Colbert dances to Get Lucky by Daft Punk with Hugh Laurie, Jeff Bridges, Jimmy Fallon, Bryan Cranston, Jon Stewart, Henry Kissinger, Nick Cannon, and Matt Damon.

Colbert jams with Kissinger. Context? Not needed.

Feb 6

Feb 2
Fuente: Juan Freire

Fuente: Juan Freire

Nov 22

Cambios disruptivos en el sector bancario mundial —The Great Debate

Fuente: Reuters

Cutting out the banker middleman

Nov 16, 2011 14:57 EST

    By Don Tapscott
    The views expressed are his own.

    In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, we need to rethink and redesign many organizations and institutions that have previously served us well but are now beginning to falter. Fortunately, the Internet lets us do this. It slashes collaboration costs and makes possible completely new models of combining people, skills, knowledge and capital for economic and social development. Around the world, individuals and groups are working together, developing new businesses based on peer-to-peer (P2P) collaborative networks.

    The financial services industry has always been the antithesis of P2P collaboration. Hierarchy is deeply entrenched in this industry, for good reasons such as security, auditing, and regulatory compliance. But we are now seeing the rise of three types of P2P activities in this sector.

    First, financial services companies are moving beyond electronic mail, document management and other primitive technologies to new collaborative software suites like Jive and Moxie Software Spaces, which encourage P2P collaboration within corporate boundaries.

    Second, financial services companies themselves are beginning to act as peers, and are collaborating rather than treating one another as superiors or subordinates in the supply chain. This is good. The industry needs a new modus operandi, where all of the key players (including banks, insurers, investment brokers, rating agencies and regulators) embrace principles of transparency, integrity, collaboration and sharing of information. For example, banks should open up financial modeling and make pertinent assumptions and data transparent to all interested parties. Among other things, such P2P collaborations could enable banks to value the trillions of dollars in toxic assets that are weighing down their balance sheets.

    But the third and most interesting of P2P innovations in financial services is the growing number of lenders and borrowers connecting directly via the Internet and avoiding the cost and frustration of dealing with banks altogether. The goal is to benefit both the lender and the borrower. For example, if one person is now receiving one percent interest on a savings account and another is paying 29% on a credit card, a mutually-agreed 10% rate is a match made in heaven, giving the lender a tenfold increase in return while affording the borrower a chance to begin paying down the principal.  Typical P2P borrowers want to consolidate debts and pay off credit cards.

    Initial attempts at Internet-enabled loans banks were a disaster. From 2005 (when P2P lending launched in the U.S.) till 2009, P2P startups experienced a boom and then went bust, culminating with regulators shutting them all down. Many investors were burned. In the case of one company, Prosper.com, angry investors launched a class-action lawsuit.

    After the initial debacle, two of the main U.S. services, Prosper and LendingClub.com, registered their platforms with the SEC in 2009 and 2008 respectively. Both overhauled their business models, with the stated goal of offering greater protection to the lender. They publish online their detailed financial performance figures, which are monitored by third-party sites such as www.LendStats.com.

    In the past two years the growth of P2P lending companies has been dramatic, with 15 percent month-over-month growth rates, and lenders receiving 8 – 10 percent returns. With these numbers, it’s no surprise that some of the biggest venture capital firms, such as Union Square, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Google Ventures are moving into the industry.

    Both Prosper and LendingClub subject would-be borrowers to rigorous scrutiny. Deadbeats are not welcome. Prosper rejects 80 percent of loan applicants; LendingClub’s rejection rate is 90 percent.

    According to estimates by analysis group Gartner Inc., the value of outstanding loans transacted P2P will grow to $5 billion in 2013.  Although that’s still a paltry amount compared to the Wall Street titans, the P2P model strikes at the core of the banking industry.

    There are already more than 35 social-banking companies in more than 20 countries. Prosper in the U.S., Community Lend in Canada, Smava in Germany and Qifang in China have similar models. Today the U.K. and U.S. social-banking market has outstanding loans of $700 million.

    What these P2P networks do that banks can’t (or won’t) is let people align their investments with individuals or causes that they believe in. Prosper accepts investments of as little as $25 and estimates its returns to be from 6% to 16%. Borrowers can post their personal stories, endorsements from friends, and group affiliations, in an effort to win the hearts, minds and dollars of potential lenders. It’s easy to see why a growing number of consumers feel this is better than putting their money in a bank and watching it being gobbled away in fees.

    Is this the beginning of an outright social movement? P2P lending will certainly not displace the retail lending divisions of the big banks anytime soon. That said, well-regulated social banking clearly offers many advantages, in developed markets as well as rising economies. If some of the early hurdles can be ironed out, the phenomenon has a promising future. The sheer growth of the sector has certainly chipped away at the skepticism surrounding it and reinforced the viability of a more cost-effective way for lending.

    Banks should find ways to embrace these new models rather than fighting them. Experience shows that such industry disrupters can hurt those who ignore or resist them.

    PHOTO: An employee of the Korea Exchange Bank counts money next to stacks of one hundred U.S. dollar banknotes at the bank’s headquarters in Seoul, August 11, 2011. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

    Oct 23

    Sep 22

    Sep 5
    “Education is sharing. Education is about being open.” Openness as Catalyst for an Educational Reformation (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE (via csessums)

    Apr 12

La diferencia entre los artistas y los que no lo son, esta en que unos acaban lo que empiezan…

Artist by Pixel Fantasy


    La diferencia entre los artistas y los que no lo son, esta en que unos acaban lo que empiezan…


    Artist by Pixel Fantasy

    Mar 19

Less is More


    Less is More

    Mar 12

    “Sabemos que [el ebook] todavía puede resultar un poco caro, pero es debido a la presión de los autores, que quieren seguir cobrando.” Santos Palazzi (Planeta), en Público.es: El e-book de las grandes, listo para la Feria del Libro. (via lapomera)

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