Archive for April, 2010

Eco Protesters Flood Downtown Sofia over Court Ruling

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Some 100 environmentalists gathered spontaneously in the downtown of the Bulgarian capital Sofia after the Supreme Administrative Court revoked a ban on new ski tracks in the Vitosha Mountain.

The eco-activists gathered around the Monument of Patriarch Evtimiy in the very downtown blockading briefly the traffic on the Partiarch Evtimuy Blvd, Vasil Levski Blvd, and Graf Ignatiev Str.

The representatives of environmental NGOs and the “For the Nature” coalition protested against the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court announced Friday night to revoke the decision of Environment Minister, Nona Karadzhova, related to the project to build a new ski zone in the Vitosha Mountain near Sofia.

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White House suspends new oil drilling

Friday, April 30th, 2010

The White House said no new oil drilling would be permitted in the US until authorities have investigated the BP rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil has now reached the Mississippi Delta

Anand, Topalov Draw 5th World Chess Title Game in Sofia

Friday, April 30th, 2010

World champion Viswanathan Anand has remained in the lead of the World Chess Title Match in Sofia after he and his Bulgarian opponent Veselin Topalov drew the fifth game.

The two chess masters repeated the variation of the Slav Defense that occurred in the third game, with Topalov failing to gain a decisive advantage with the white pieces. The game ended on the 44th move.

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Bulgaria Plagued by Staggering Youth Unemployment

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Almost 50% of the Bulgarians between 15 and 34 years of age are unemployed, and most of them do not even seek jobs, according to the National Statistical Institute.

About 1 028 000 Bulgarians aged between 15 and 34 are economically active, which is 54.5% of the total number of the above-mentioned age group in the country.

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‘Euro Father’ Mundell: Greek Issues Won’t Hurt Bulgaria’s Bid for Eurozone

Friday, April 30th, 2010

The financial problems in Greece will not interfere with Bulgaria’s accession to the Eurozone, according to “the father of the euro”, Professor Robert Mundell.

Mundell, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics winner and professor at Columbia University, made the first move of the fifth game of the World Chess Title Match between Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov and Indian world champion Viswanathan Anand in Sofia on Friday.

The economics professor declared he saw no way the economic crisis would shatter the Eurozone, or would hinder Bulgaria’s admission into it.

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Brown ‘to dig deeper’ before poll

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are facing questions over holes in their tax and spending plans after the last live TV debate.

Snap polls suggested viewers felt the Tory leader was the winner – as a new report warns taxes will have to rise sharply to cut the deficit.

The parties have all spelt out savings which are smaller than the UK deficit.

Campaigning continues, with Tony Blair out for Labour later, Mr Cameron visiting schools and Mr Clegg in Derby.

The questions on the economy come as think tank the National Institute of Economic and Social Research warns taxes will have to rise by the equivalent of 6p in the pound on the basic rate of income tax over the next decade.

Tax rises

The three biggest parties have been accused of not spelling out the scale of cuts or tax rises needed to meet their commitments on reducing the deficit.

Asked if there was a hole in the election debate on the issue Business Secretary Lord Mandelson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "I refute that."

He said Labour had spelt out its deficit reduction plan, including making "significant reductions in due course on public spending" and he said the chancellor believed Labour would "not have to go beyond" the tax rises already outlined.

He said they had made it "absolutely clear" there would be "tough choices" – and they would have to find £38bn of spending reductions.

"I don’t think it’s fair to say we have left the public in any doubt about the size and scale of the turnaround and what’s involved."

Pressed on how he could make £38bn cuts – without affecting frontline services – he said it was Labour’s "determination to do so" and criticised the Conservatives for promising "irresponsible" tax breaks.

Meanwhile shadow foreign secretary William Hague repeated the Conservative argument that they have "no plans" to raise VAT and said the party’s economic plans were more detailed than any opposition party’s had been in any previous election.

‘Foolish’

Asked if he thought the Conservatives would have a mandate to raise VAT if it found it needed to once in office, Mr Hague said: "We are not asking to raise VAT. We have set out our plans and they don’t involve raising VAT.

"We have said we have to get the debt and the deficit under control and we will have to do what’s necessary to do that, but none of our plans involve raising VAT."

For the Lib Dems, Vince Cable said Mr Cameron had been "foolish" to rule out joining the Euro forever but said the Lib Dems were not proposing to do so in the next Parliament.

"We said circumstances might arise when this is in the British national interest and it will then be decided on the necessary referendum and whether the economic conditions are right, which effectively means a competitive exchange rate, and we’re nowhere near that position, we’re not pursuing this issue."

And he defended his party leader’s claim during the TV debate that 80% of immigration into Britain was from the EU, something Mr Clegg said showed a Tory policy to cap non-EU immigration was "complete nonsense".

Senior Conservative Michael Gove accused Mr Clegg of using "bogus statistics" – he said a third of immigrants came from the EU. But Mr Cable told the BBC the 80% figure – taken from an election briefing in The Economist – was referring to workers, not overall immigration. He said Mr Cameron’s own policy was referring to workers.

Party leaders discussed subjects including economic policy, immigration, housing, political reform, education, tax, banking reform and spending cuts during the 90-minute debate hosted by the BBC’s David Dimbleby in Birmingham.

Mr Brown made a plea to voters not to risk change as he sought to salvage Labour’s election campaign in the final TV debate before polling day.

He was under pressure to get Labour’s campaign back on track after he had to apologise on Wednesday to a pensioner he was unwittingly recorded calling "bigoted" after she raised concerns over immigration with him.

Full transcript (pdf)

Speaking to the BBC’s Radio WM in Birmingham on Friday, Mr Cameron said he was "very focused" on the next week and the Tories had to fight for every vote and persuade people he offered "real change". But he said the election was "still far from won".

Mr Brown told supporters after the debate: "From now until next Thursday we have got to campaign like we have never campaigned before." He will campaign in the West Midlands on Friday – as his predecessor, Mr Blair, joins the Labour campaign trail.

BBC polling expert David Cowling said two instant reaction polls, for ComRes and YouGov, showed exactly the same movement – no change for Mr Clegg over the second debate, an increase of 5% for Mr Cameron and a drop of 4% for Mr Brown.

Giving his reaction to the encounter, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said: "I don’t think there was any clear winner. Gordon Brown was certainly the loser – just in terms of his demeanour through the debate." The SNP failed in its legal action to try to block the broadcast in Scotland unless it featured Mr Salmond.

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "What I didn’t hear tonight was any of them recognising the special problems that we have particularly here in Wales."

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Heads ‘under pressure’ over Sats

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Head teachers planning to boycott national primary school tests in England say they could face disciplinary action.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Putin Calls for Merger of Russia’s Gazprom, Ukraine’s Naftogaz

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proposed the merging of Gazprom and Ukraine’s state gas monopoly Naftogaz.

“We talked about integration in nuclear energy, and we can do the same thing with gas. I propose unifying Gazprom and Naftogaz,” Putin stated Friday after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Mykola Azarov, in Sochi, southern Russia, as cited by Bloomberg.

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Bulgaria Chess Master Topalov Hopes to Crush Anand’s Defense

Friday, April 30th, 2010

The team of the Bulgarian chess master Veselin Topalov hopes to have finally managed to figure out how to beat the defenses of world champion Anand in the remaining games of the World Chess Title Match in Sofia.

This has been stated before the start of the fifth game of the 12-game match by Silvio Danailov, the personal manager of Veselin Topalov. The Indian world champion Viswanathan is in the lead 2….

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In Linchpin Art + Profession = Rewards For All

Friday, April 30th, 2010

While attending the fifth annual Small Business Summit in New York this year, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Seth Godin speak.  Even better, attendees received a copy of his latest “Linchpin”.  Moved by his presentation, I wanted to read his book to gain more insight to a man whose blog is often retweeted.  I was not disappointed.

Be Original by Adding Art to Your Profession

Godin starts bold…

“We are surrounded by Bureaucrats, Note Takers, Literalists, Manual Readers, TGIF Laborers, Map Followers, and Fearful Employees.  The problem is that the Bureaucrats, Note Takers, Literalists, Manual Readers, TGIF Laborers, Map Followers, and Fearful Employees are in pain, they’re in pain because they’re overlooked, underpaid, laid off, and stressed out.”

And then he focuses on how the ritual of work came to be.  He gives historical perspective of how work became tedious labor and the signs that a cookie cutter worker is widely supported. He quotes from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, for example, as well as states how even education trains employees to be compliant and follow rote example.

Godin continues to today’s work environment, where obedience should be considered outdated.  Passion, the core of one’s work, is “a desire, insistence, and willingness to give a gift”.  To Godin, passion framed by artistic nature to learn and apply one’s craft breaks the monotony and drudgery of the past industrial complex.

“Your work is to create art that changes things, to expose your insight and humanity in such a way that you are truly indispensable….Your job is about following instructions; the work is about making a difference.”

Now, he is not saying go make a statue. He is saying to infuse a sense of artistry. It is not only personally rewarding, but is the true source of a Linchpin’s value. For example, Godin explains how in the “Hierarchy of Value” process creating value is a Linchpin endeavor, barely inferring entrepreneurship as the most valuable status.

“Lots of people can lift. That’s not paying off anymore. A few people can sell. Almost no one puts in the effort to create.”

I say barely because he writes like he speaks, his standard No-BS-Here way.  And his way gives buoyancy to a key point, that the extension of creativity is to build-to-ship.  To be creative means to issue that to which your passion gives birth. It is also the path to proving that you are a Linchpin, a valuable contributor:

“The only way to prove (as opposed to assert) that you are an indispensable Linchpin – someone worth recruiting, moving to the top of the pile, and hiring – is to show, not tell.  Projects are the new resumes.”

Godin makes a good argument. His concepts support the tools and abilities available to create value-added projects and services that can promise opportunity. He leaves the choice of art up to you.

Balancing Art Against Profession

I value where Godin is saying.  Linchpin is a great compliment to books like Scott Belsky’s Making Things Happen (see Anita Campbell’s review), a book about putting ideas in action and that also has an artist perspective.

There is some criticism of business that I am not in full agreement with, however.  For example, Godin mentions how MBAs “often have trouble pigeonholing artists. Artists can’t be easily instructed….and that’s precisely what you are taught to do in business school.” Graduate business study is not automatically juxtaposed against artistry.  Businesses have to manage the risk inherent in creative endeavors that require some level of engineering or project management.

However, Godin is not against all organizations.  His main “work”, to carry his theme, is to challenge bureaucratic always-been-this-way systems.  His writing is more cerebral than Rework, but still efficient, engaging, and makes for a terrific read.

Resistance Is Not Futile

All the while Godin extends thesis explained in his past books.  For example, he refers to an earlier book, The Dip, when he touches upon “The Lizard Brain”, his metaphor for one’s natural tendency to resist change and growth that results from great artistry.  He uses the resistance constructively, through recommending how to best identify it and power forward to results:

“In The Dip I talk about how hard it is to quit a project (a job, a career, a relationship), even if the project is absolutely going nowhere….There is not a lot to fear when you’re stuck in the dip….”

Godin links the defeat of the lizard brain to your choice of art.  Your art should promote growth, a by-product of value, and be worthwhile:

“If you pick something beneath you, then the resistance will win.  After all what‘s the point of overcoming pain the lizard brain inflicts if all you’re doing is something that doesn’t matter anyway?… Overcoming excuses and social challenges isn’t easy, and it won’t happen if the end result isn’t worth it. Trivial art isn’t worth the trouble it takes to produce it.”

The analogies truly inspire.  Though nothing is steeply rooted in behavioral science, you do not get the feeling that the words are hollow, either.  Godin does offer interesting anecdotes, like how Pennsylvania small town banker Bill O’Brien creates a great business relationship with the local Amish, issuing home loans with a solid no foreclosure record as a result.

What Will Readers Gain

Godin’s energy comes across in Linchpin, and his mantra to infuse work with creativity and passion is light years beyond catchy.  He writes for the times, the shift of how work is being completed.  It is great complement to anyone who wants to contribute meaningfully to an organization without being the cog.

If you have to do one derivative thing, do what a lot people should do — Buy this book.  Even better, let it inspire to connect with your customers and organizations to the highest achievements imaginable.

From Small Business Trends

In Linchpin Art + Profession = Rewards For All

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