Domingo, 1 de septiembre de 2013

Abuna di Bishemaya: así suena el inicio del Padre Nuestro en arameo, el supuesto idioma de Jesús. Puede escucharse, cantado por voces bellísimas, en Malula, una pequeña población de 5.000 habitantes, situada a unos 50 kilómetros al norte de Damasco. Malula, al borde de un estrecho desfiladero en un paisaje que insinúa el desierto sirio, es uno de los pocos lugares del mundo en los que se conserva, como lengua viva, el arameo. Sus habitantes, la mayoría cristianos pero también musulmanes, se muestran orgullosos de esta circunstancia y del prestigio de su pueblo en la historia religiosa: allí se conserva el sepulcro de la santa Tecla, mártir de los primeros tiempos, y se dice que el mismísimo san Pablo pasó por allí, no sé si camino de Damasco.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Qué significan los partidos y los sindicatos en la vida pública? Todo. ¿Qué podemos esperar ahora de ellos los españoles? Nada.

Es preciso remedar la célebre contraposición del abate Sieyes sobre el Tercer Estado para describir el clima de desmoralización y fatalismo con que los ciudadanos afrontan el que será el séptimo curso desde el inicio de la crisis económica. Mientras la mejora de indicadores como la prima de riesgo o la balanza exterior continúa sin traducirse en financiación para las pymes, creación de empleo y renta disponible para las familias, la vida pública aparece más contaminada que nunca por el agente tóxico de la corrupción.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the developed world, reliable energy is something that can be taken for granted. People pay attention only when something goes wrong, like when the power goes out during the Super Bowl, forcing players and fans to sit uncomfortably in the dark for 34 minutes.

In my country, the West African nation of Liberia, living without power has become a way of life. For the past decade, we’ve been digging out from the aftermath of a 23-year civil war that left our energy infrastructure in shambles. In a country of 4.1 million, only about 1 percent of urban residents — and almost no rural residents — have access to electricity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Potential presidential contender Kalu touts a free-market approach

The media’s attention in Nigeria is focused on its attempt to subdue Boko Haram, an Islamic jihadist militant terrorist organization that operates in that country’s Muslim provinces and that has been responsible for massacring hundreds of Christians and for the burning of schools and churches. However, the contest for Nigeria’s presidency is slowly taking shape. The 2015 election is likely to be dominated by economic issues and persistent poverty as much as concerns over internal security. In the past, capitalism was a dirty word in much of Africa. Today, many African countries are liberalizing, and some outspoken leaders, such as Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Nigeria’s Abia state, are happy to proclaim the virtues of the free market.…  Seguir leyendo »

The U.S. is shying away from China’s stealth aggression

The more assertive Beijing has become, the more reluctant President Obama's administration has been to take sides in Asian territorial disputes, even though they center on China’s efforts to change the territorial status quo with America’s strategic allies or partners. Washington’s feckless Asia policy has helped deepen the security dilemma of several Asian states on how to protect their territorial and economic rights against China’s power grab.

Washington has made it amply clear that despite its “pivot” toward Asia, it will not put American lives at risk to defend its allies’ territorial claims against Beijing or act in ways detrimental to its close engagement with China.…  Seguir leyendo »

A half-hearted strike could do more harm than good

Having decided upon a military response to the latest chemical-weapons attack in Syria, President Obama should take care to calibrate the mission to suit his objective. The first question is: What would be the overall goal of a military strike? Is it to punish the regime, prevent a repeat attack, alter the balance of power in the Syrian civil war, or bring about the end of Bashar Assad’s rule as he called for two years ago? Each option necessitates a different military strategy and would shift the priority list of potential targets inside Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

As show trials go, the drama featuring Bo Xilai, the once-swaggering, media-savvy former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chief of Chongqing, veered anomalously into improvisation. Before the proceedings began, the conventional wisdom was that Bo’s trial had been carefully scripted and rehearsed to portray a forlorn and penitent sinner confessing his crimes and apologizing to the Party.

But the historic five-day trial dispelled any notion that Bo would go quietly to his cell in Beijing’s infamous Qincheng Prison, where China’s fallen top leaders are incarcerated. He challenged the prosecution vigorously, defending himself with a feistiness that surprised nearly all who read the transcripts released by the court in real time on the trial’s first day.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mientras que los fenómenos de la naturaleza tienen una fiel constancia y cada aurora nos trae la luz del sol y cada ocaso la sombra de la noche, las realidades espirituales se mantienen en permanente mutación. Ser hombre es ir ejercitando la libertad, tomar la vida en propia mano, asumir novedades y descartar caducidades. Él es una mezcla de hodiernidad, transitoria y efímera, a la vez que una persistencia indestructible, con raíz de eternidad y con la eternidad como meta.

Asistimos hoy al cambio de quicios y goznes, con nuevos giros en la casa del hombre, que repercuten en su relación consigo mismo, con la naturaleza, la historia y Dios.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nepal may be known for natural beauty and Mount Everest, but there is a dark side to this small, picturesque country. Women and girls are being bought, sold and smuggled across the Nepal-India border. Although reliable data on the scope of the issue is difficult to gather, Unicef reports that as many as 7,000 women and girls are trafficked out of Nepal to India every year, and around 200,000 are now working in Indian brothels.

I traveled to Nepal last spring to document the growing problem of sex trafficking and unsafe migration, spending the majority of time in Katmandu and along the Nepal-India border.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pretty much from the moment I got pregnant, neighbors and friends began urging me to apply for a spot in one of France’s state-run day care centers.

I’d just smile politely. I figured this was another of those foreign habits — like eating horse meat — that I’d observe from a respectful distance. I couldn’t fathom government employees changing my baby’s diapers. And I couldn’t really fathom day care in general. Didn’t it cause attachment issues, or worse? I planned to hire a nanny.

Eventually — propelled by curiosity, a looming book deadline and the fact that everyone else was doing it — I applied for a spot in the “crèche” (rhymes with “mesh”).…  Seguir leyendo »

As temperatures rise, tempers flare. Anyone who has experienced the hostility of a swelteringly hot summer day in the city can attest to that.

But researchers are now quantifying the causal relationship between extreme climate and human conflict. Whether their focus is on small-scale interpersonal aggression or large-scale political instability, low-income or high-income societies, the year 10,000 B.C. or the present day, the overall conclusion is the same: episodes of extreme climate make people more violent toward one another.

In a paper published this month in the journal Science, we assembled 60 of the best studies on this topic from fields as diverse as archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science and psychology.…  Seguir leyendo »