Jueves, 29 de noviembre de 2012

The ongoing debt crisis in the eurozone has given rise to a predictable genre of tasteless humor directed at the ailing nations on its periphery. A typical example would go like this: An Italian, a Portuguese and a Greek go into a bar and have a round of drinks. Who pays? The German.

Although it is unfortunate that the crisis fosters ill-advised national stereotypes, such jokes do raise the serious question of why nations in the eurozone’s Mediterranean area seem unable to deal with their fiscal problems. At some level, their problems are simple — they boil down to basic math.…  Seguir leyendo »

Croatia’s national independence finally has been secured. This is the real meaning of the recent ruling by the U.N.war crimes court in The Hague to overturn the conviction of Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina. Last year, the U.N. court convicted Gen. Gotovina, along with junior Croatian Gen. Mladen Markac, of responsibility for war crimes in the 1995 military operation that led to the recapture of territory seized by rebel ethnic Serbs. The tribunal’s appeal judges, however, in a 3-2 decision last week ruled that both men are innocent. The court’s chief justice called it the “final verdict.” Croatia has rightly cheered the decision.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the ebb and flow of major clashes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square since the Arab Spring began nearly two years ago, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details of who’s doing what to whom on any given day. Americans must take a step above the fray and look at Egypt and beyond from a broader, strategic level.

What we’re seeing unfold in Egypt — similar to what took place in Libya, Tunisia and Yemen with leaders toppled by the “Arab Street” — represents the most significant geopolitical shake-up since the Russian Revolution of 1917 ushered in the Soviet Union and Iran’s Revolution of 1979 gave us the Islamic Republic of Iran.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, a heavily armed rebel militia, M23, took control of the eastern Congolese city of Goma, the economic center and capital of the country’s North Kivu province. Unfortunately, to those of us who work in eastern Congo, the only surprise in this turn of events was how little attention it received.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote in The Post about the bloodiest war since World War II and its continued toll on the Congolese people. From 1998 to 2003, eight African nations fought on Congolese soil, killing millions, forcing tens of thousands of children to become soldiers and, in some areas of Congo, subjecting as many as two of every three women to rape and other forms of sexual violence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mexico’s outgoing president, Felipe Calderón, was never much loved. His election in 2006 was overshadowed by claims of fraud by a leftist challenger. He then struggled with a deep recession brought on by the global financial crisis. And throughout his term he sponsored an army-led “war on drugs,” which has left a death toll variously estimated at between 65,000 and 100,000. Little wonder that most Mexicans are eager to see him leave office on Saturday.

But there also isn’t much enthusiasm about what comes next. The incoming president, Enrique Peña Nieto, a former state governor with a pretty-boy image, represents a restoration of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled the country between 1929 and 2000 through a mixture of repression, corruption, co-option and vote-fixing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cities seized by rebels. Civilians fleeing from their homes. Murders, abductions, rapes, looting. Foreign forces backing insurgents and denying they are doing so. Rumors of other regional powers sending in military support. It sounds like a drama we have watched before.

Sadly, we have, over and over. Since 1994, when Rwandan Hutu refugees fled there, the provinces of North and South Kivu of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been in an uninterrupted state of armed conflict.

From 1998 to 2003, this enormous country was the scene of Africa’s first world war, with the armies of at least half a dozen countries blasting away at each other while their commanders filled their pockets.…  Seguir leyendo »

This year has seen a lot of concern about the confrontation between China and Japan over a group of islets in the East China Sea.

Less attention, though, is being paid to what may be a more destabilizing development: next year Japan plans to bring its long-delayed Rokkasho reprocessing plant online, which could extract as much as eight tons of weapons-usable plutonium from spent reactor fuel a year, enough for nearly 1,000 warheads. That would add to Japan’s existing stockpile of 44 tons, 9 of which are stored in domestic facilities.

Japan has repeatedly vowed never to develop nuclear weapons, and there’s no reason to doubt that now.…  Seguir leyendo »

When watching the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, many have held on to a profoundly mistaken idea. I heard it again just recently from an otherwise well-informed observer. The conflict, this acquaintance confidently declared, will not be resolved until Israel lifts the blockade of Gaza.

The trouble with this line of thinking is that it ignores everything Hamas itself has stated about its goals, beliefs and strategy.

To understand the dispute it is not necessary to listen to a single word Israel says. A good starting point is Hamas’ charter, easily found in many places online, including this one from Yale University at avalon.law.yale.edu/ 20th_century/hamas.asp.…  Seguir leyendo »

More than 5,600 dissidents, journalists and human-rights activists have been arrested or detained in Cuba between January and the end of October of this year, a leading human rights group reports.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation recorded 520 detentions in October alone. For the year, the group says it has documented 5,625 cases, which is “consistent with the high level of political repression in Cuba over recent years.”

The Hablemos Press Information Center reported that 4,542 people had been either arrested or detained during the same period. However, the group’s records do not include all of Cuba.…  Seguir leyendo »

I recently bumped into a cousin in Switzerland. I hadn’t known she even existed – she and I never moved in the same family circles when I visited relatives in Athens. But since the start of the crisis, Greeks abroad have become more aware of their family trees. My relative completed a degree in Germany 25 years ago and returned to Greece to get a job in the food industry. Two years ago she was made redundant. For 18 months she tried to find work, then gave up and begged her mother to call her contacts in Germany – such as my father, her cousin once removed, who helped her move to Germany, and from thereon to Switzerland.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I argued a case challenging Ireland’s ban on abortion before the European Court of Human Rights in 2009, I told the story of my client, “Ms. C,” who had been battling cancer when she became pregnant. Ms. C’s doctors in Ireland, where abortion is illegal and lifesaving abortion is largely unavailable, refused to provide her with even basic information about the risk that continuation of pregnancy posed to her life, and so she had no option but to travel to England to obtain an abortion.

The human rights court found this to be a clear violation of my client’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and in 2010 demanded that Ireland reform its abortion laws.…  Seguir leyendo »

It may turn out that the editors of the English-language edition of the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily, were only kidding when they ran a 55-image slide show based on “Kim Jong Un Named The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.”

But if it turns out that they weren’t, the explanation for how such an article ended up in China’s most important tribunal isn’t so hard to parse. In three distinct ways, The Onion’s satire was perfectly engineered to appeal to editorial biases — some might call them blind spots — at the English edition of People’s Daily.

The first bias is for extended photo essays depicting Kim Jong Un in official, often heroic poses.…  Seguir leyendo »

Asquerosa e intrigante, la efigie te mira con ojos fijos y muertos desde el interior oscuro de su ataúd de caoba. Estás en un claustro, pero no se trata de las reliquias de un santo, como Dios quiere, sino una especie de santo secular y ateo. Te hallas, a fin de cuentas, ante la momia de Jeremy Bentham, el filósofo anticlerical del siglo XIX. El lugar consagrado a su memoria, y el paradero de su restos mortales, es el University College, en Londres, la universidad que Bentham fundó en 1830 para liberar a los estudiantes de la vigilancia y la supuesta tiranía de la iglesia.…  Seguir leyendo »

La palabra ilustración resume el siglo XVIII y la palabra revolución caracteriza el XIX. El siglo XX cabe en la palabra guerra y en estos momentos nadie duda que el XXI será recordado con la palabra crisis.La crisis del sistema capitalista y de su Estado del bienestar, en todos sus extremos: político, económico y moral. El mundo sigue partido en dos mitades, como siempre, a un lado los ricos y al otro todos los demás, en un arco que va desde la clase media, hoy en vías de extinción, hasta los pobres; pero la distancia entre ellas es cada vez más grande y los puentes que las comunicaban se han ido destruyendo hasta construir una sociedad sin esperanza, en donde la otra orilla vuelva a ser lo contrario del río.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los economistas reiteran hasta la saciedad que la imposición merkeliana de austeridad es un error, pero siguen sin entender que se trata de una truculenta estrategia del Gobierno y la banca alemana para desvalijar al sur de Europa con el fin de tapar el enorme agujero financiero alemán. Este expolio es posible debido a una desregulación jurídica que desde 2000 ha desplazado el capitalismo productivo por un “mercado casino” sin supervisión administrativa, en el que ha quedado suprimido el delito de información privilegiada y que funciona mediante apuestas en las que no hay que identificarse. Esta bolsa privada y sin transparencia, localizada en Nueva York y Londres, está en manos de un cartel compuesto por seis megabancos norteamericanos y seis europeos, todos quebrados y rescatados por sus Gobiernos, es decir, por los contribuyentes.…  Seguir leyendo »

El PSOE ha introducido con fuerza en la vida política española la necesidad de avanzar hacia un modelo federal de Estado. Sin embargo, el partido fundado por Pablo Iglesias no ha hecho público todavía cuál es el modelo federal que propone. De momento, no hay mucho más que la invocación del principio federal como respuesta al envite soberanista catalán.

El punto dista de ser menor, pues no hay un tipo ideal de federalismo, sino experiencias federales varias, La historia de Alemania, Canadá, Suiza o Estados Unidos —por citar algunos ejemplos— nos muestra que el significado del concepto “federalismo” no es unívoco.…  Seguir leyendo »

En los últimos tiempos «ser olvidado» se ha planteado como una necesidad básica en Internet. Las razones para ello son muchas y variadas. El internauta comienza a entender que lo que imprudentemente reveló no sólo permanece sino que adquiere vida propia y se multiplica. La configuración tecnológica del medio junto a la tentación humana al cotilleo contribuye lo suyo. Un perfil abierto en una red social, un comentario en un foro indexado, una foto en un muro al que acceden centenares de personas es garantía de una indefinida permanencia en internet. Y no sólo porque los buscadores indexen, bastará con que interese a alguien que primero «baje» y después suba esa información, la renvíe, la «retuitee» o la «whatsapee».…  Seguir leyendo »

La mayoría de los arquitectos están «parados». Hemos sembrado muchos proyectos a lo largo de estos últimos tres años que, a la ingenua e insensata espera de su fructificación en un deseable futuro, impiden el cierre de nuestros «estudios».

El caso es que algunos dedicamos esta indesmayable actitud, en el creciente tiempo libre, a dibujar «al carbón» como lo hacíamos en aquella época lejana del ingreso en la Escuela Superior.

He vuelto a disfrutar retratando a mis gentes, mayoritariamente jóvenes, y amigos. Reducidas las facultades y con herramientas y materiales inferiores a los de entonces, me he probado a gusto, recuperado impresiones que estaban, en el ayer cercano, adormecidas y reparado en otras que parecen sugerentes.…  Seguir leyendo »

No es ninguna sorpresa que el presidente Morsi se haya otorgado amplios poderes e inmunidad frente a una supervisión de tipo legal.

Desde su victoria en las elecciones presidenciales de junio –cuando fue acogido jubilosamente por decenas de miles de egipcios que celebraban el acontecimiento en el lugar emblemático de las revueltas de la primavera árabe, la plaza Tahrir–, Morsi ha alcanzado escasos logros a la hora de aliviar las penalidades económicas del país o de fomentar la democracia en ciernes de Egipto. Por el contrario, se ha dedicado a moldear el panorama político y constitucional egipcio mediante la concentración del poder y la autoridad en sus manos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Recientemente salió a la luz un déficit de €10 mil millones ($13 mil millones de dólares) en el presupuesto de la Unión Europea de este año. Como resultado de dicho déficit, la UE no puede reembolsar a los Estados miembros por los recientes gastos inesperados, que incluyen gastos de emergencia como la ayuda a las víctimas del terremoto ocurrido en Italia y el gasto destinado a impulsar el crecimiento económico y el empleo, ejemplo de este último es la absorción acelerada de Fondos Estructurales y de Cohesión no utilizados. Los Estados miembros han rechazado la solicitud de la Comisión Europea que les pedía contribuciones adicionales para cubrir el déficit, dicho rechazó condujo a conversaciones sobre el colapso del presupuesto del próximo año

Mientras tanto, las negociaciones sobre el Marco financiero Plurianual 2014-2020 (MFF, por su denominación en inglés) (2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF),) el instrumento central de planificación para el uso de fondos de la UE, se han venido abajo, debido a desacuerdos sobre asuntos clave, incluyendo el tamaño del presupuesto y la composición del gasto.…  Seguir leyendo »