Domingo, 29 de noviembre de 2009

El Grupo Socialista ha presentado en el Congreso de los Diputados una proposición no de ley destinada a desagraviar a los descendientes actuales de los moriscos expulsados de España hace 400 años, en 1609. Los ponentes precisan que no se trata de ofrecer reparaciones económicas a los herederos de aquellas víctimas por los perjuicios de toda índole que padecieron sus antepasados, sino de un gesto simbólico y moral, algo así como una autocrítica pública del Estado español sobre un error histórico cometido hace cuatro siglos. La iniciativa tiene una apariencia bienintencionada y progresista que, en principio, sólo un cavernario retrógrado podría objetar.…  Seguir leyendo »

En un reciente artículo, publicado en las páginas de este mismo diario, el presidente del Congreso de los Diputados hizo una propuesta que, a mi juicio, no puede merecer sino apoyo. Sugiere José Bono abrir un sereno diálogo en el seno de la sociedad civil sobre un tema tan sensible como el del aborto, con una peculiaridad: que los interlocutores no se descalifiquen mutuamente desde el comienzo con etiquetas insultantes, sino que hagan el esfuerzo de pensar que a lo mejor el otro está expresando una convicción razonable, aunque yo no la comparta, y no una opinión irracional, malvada o simplemente interesada.…  Seguir leyendo »

Todo ciudadano tiene el deber de conocer la ley. Sí, la ley obliga. Nadie puede alegar, como eximente, su ignorancia. Ni el conductor que circula por la izquierda en una carretera cualquiera del continente ni el que lo hace por la derecha en el Reino Unido, y ello sea cual sea su nacionalidad. Tampoco sirve, ante el apremio de la Hacienda Pública, aducir que tal o tal retribución no ha sido declarada en el impuesto sobre la renta porque a la empresa responsable del pago se le olvidó recordárselo al perceptor. La responsabilidad, guste o no, es de cada uno, de cada ciudadano.…  Seguir leyendo »

La crisis en que está sumida la economía española ha trastocado los planes de la inmensa mayoría de los hogares, modificando el comportamiento de variables macroeconómicas directamente ligadas con las decisiones domésticas. El consumo y la inversión en vivienda constituyen los ejemplos evidentes. Estos que fueron motores del crecimiento durante la larga etapa expansiva, ahora están registrando unas caídas notables, lo que está desencadenando un pernicioso efecto de retroalimentación entre disminución del gasto, desplome de la actividad y aumento del paro.

La solución que proponen los gestores de la política económica es la reactivación de la demanda; de ahí que se lancen numerosos mensajes animando al consumo.…  Seguir leyendo »

El constituyente de 1978 no definió de manera acabada la estructura del Estado, pero sí de manera inequívoca dos elementos esenciales de dicha estructura:

1. La decisión política constitucionalmente conformadora de dicha estructura, articulada como un compromiso entre el principio de unidad política del Estado y el reconocimiento del derecho a la autonomía de las nacionalidades y regiones que integran España.
2. El contenido del derecho a la autonomía del artículo 151 de la Constitución, reservado en todo caso para el País Vasco, Catalunya y Galicia, aunque no cerrado a los demás territorios.
Estos dos elementos figuran desde el primer proyecto de Constitución, el que se publica en el Boletín Oficial de las Cortes el 5 de enero de 1978, y no desaparecen del iter (camino) constituyente hasta la fijación del texto definitivo que se sometió a referendo el 6 de diciembre de 1978.…  Seguir leyendo »

La alfombra roja con la que el PSOE se rindió homenaje a sí mismo el pasado fin de semana me recordó enseguida el terciopelo del mismo color de la cubierta de la góndola Bucintoro sobre la que el Dogo de Venecia reunía a todos los notables de su ciudad-Estado con tanto más lujo y ostentación cuanto mayor fuera la crisis de la Serenísima República. El razonamiento era muy similar al que impulsaría a Calonne, uno de los últimos ministros de Hacienda de Luis XVI, a descartar cualquier recorte en el gasto que mermara el boato de Versalles o a los hermanos Marx en el Oeste a mostrar todo su alborozo mientras iban convirtiendo en astillas los vagones del tren para alimentar la caldera de la locomotora.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Obama and other world leaders will gather in Copenhagen next week to discuss climate change. Though this is a global issue, it’s also a profoundly local one. For this reason, the Op-Ed editors asked writers from four different continents to report on the climate changes they’ve experienced close to home. Here are their dispatches.

1.- Denmark in the Wind. By Hanne-Vibeke Holst, a novelist.
In Copenhagen, the once moderate-to-fresh winds are now more often storms.

2.- South Africa’s Fire Kingdom. By Zakes Mda, a playwright.
In Cape Town, a rise in unpredictable and more ferocious fires are destroying the ecosystem.…  Seguir leyendo »

My husband wants a wind turbine for Christmas. Just a small one, to be erected alongside our summer cabin at the coast. “We could have it out back!” he said. Good idea, I admit. In Denmark, we get our share of moderate-to-fresh winds, as the weather guys say. More often, it seems, we have storms. In the city we don’t notice them that much, but at the cabin we listen uneasily to the howling of the wind in the vents. We sit on edge at the windows and watch the wind tearing at the fir trees. We’ve cut down the tallest and most imposing tree in our garden so it won’t topple over in a storm and smash the roof to smithereens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Not long ago, in Cape Town, I watched smoke billow from the hills facing the city. The flames were so ferocious that within a half-hour the smoke could be mistaken for rain clouds. Sirens wailed and in no time helicopters were hovering in the sky, dousing the flames with some pink substance.

At Greenmarket Square in the center of the city, an old man exclaimed: “They are very quick to put out the fire when the mountain is burning, but when our shacks burn you never see them. They care about the birds and the tortoises and the antelopes more than they care about human beings.”…  Seguir leyendo »

I had set my umbrella and chair near the water in the early hours of what would soon become a perfect summer day. Like most people, I prefer the beach when it is deserted, and I had the place all to myself, no vendors to be seen, parading their sunglasses and suntan oils; no drinks, sandwiches or sweets offered in singing voices. Above all, no kids kicking balls or sand in my face. I held a book and was intent on doing some serious reading.

But then I spotted a small shape emerging from the water. As it landed, I noticed it was flapping its wings feebly.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s autumn, and the people on the Chuo Line are all bundled up, just as they are in the spring. When I was a student, a friend from Hokkaido, in the north, told me she couldn’t stand the winter cold in Tokyo. Although the temperature is lower in northern Japan, in Tokyo there is no moisture in the winter air; the dry winds bounce off the buildings, picking up speed until they seem to cut into your skin, making the cold intolerable.

When I was in elementary school in the mid-1960s, there were still paddy fields and vegetable patches on the outskirts of Tokyo.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, I hurried through a dark apple orchard to the nearest television in this Himalayan village. My landlord opened his door reluctantly, and then appeared unmoved by the news I had just received by phone. I struggled to explain the enormity of what was happening, the significance of New York, the iconic status of the World Trade Center — to no avail. It was time for his evening prayers; the television could not be turned on.

I did not witness the horrific sights of 9/11 until three days later. Since then, cable television and even broadband Internet have arrived in Mashobra and in my own home.…  Seguir leyendo »

Walking into church 40 years ago on this first Sunday of Advent, many Roman Catholics might have wondered where they were. The priest not only spoke English rather than Latin, but he faced the congregation instead of the tabernacle; laymen took on duties previously reserved for priests; folk music filled the air. The great changes of Vatican II had hit home.

All this was a radical break from the traditional Latin Mass, codified in the 16th century at the Council of Trent. For centuries, that Mass served as a structured sacrifice with directives, called “rubrics,” that were not optional. This is how it is done, said the book.…  Seguir leyendo »

For many Americans, the financial crisis, and the recession it spawned, have been devastating — jobs, homes, savings lost. Understandably, many people are calling for change. Yet change needs to be about creating a system that works better, not just differently. As a nation, our challenge is to design a system of financial oversight that will embody the lessons of the past two years and provide a robust framework for preventing future crises and the economic damage they cause.

These matters are complex, and Congress is still in the midst of considering how best to reform financial regulation. I am concerned, however, that a number of the legislative proposals being circulated would significantly reduce the capacity of the Federal Reserve to perform its core functions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Amid the news about U.S. failures in Afghanistan stands a clear success: a vast expansion of primary health-care services, including a major increase in the number of female health workers to provide prenatal care, attend births and treat female patients. By supporting the capacity of the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health to develop and implement these services, the United States has contributed to a dramatic reduction in deaths of Afghan infants and young children. Yet the approach that fueled this success is in jeopardy of being subordinated to the objective of employing health development resources to support military operations. Such a shift has no proven linkage to enhancing stability in the short term and undermines policies that can contribute to the emergence of a legitimate state.…  Seguir leyendo »