Domingo, 5 de marzo de 2017

Discúlpame, pero no voy a perder espacio en comedimientos biográficos sobre Paul Léautaud. Te bastará con su lápida «Escritor francés (1872-1956)» y lo que consta en una placa a la entrada de su casa de Fontenay-aux-Roses: «Escritor francés, extraño a toda fe e inquietud filosófica». Más detalles los encontrarás en la nota que publicó Juan Bonilla, a propósito de la edición castellana de la antología del Journal littéraire que preparó Pascal Pia en 1968. La ha publicado Fuentetaja y llena 920 páginas. Como le dijo Josep Pla a Sílvia a propósito de la posibilidad de hacer un volumen con sus diarios: «Si le cayera en la cabeza, señorita, le haría daño».…  Seguir leyendo »

El comunismo ya no es el enemigo principal de la democracia liberal —de la libertad— sino el populismo. Aquel dejó de serlo cuando desapareció la URSS, por su incapacidad para resolver los problemas económicos y sociales más elementales, y cuando (por los mismos motivos) China Popular se transformó en un régimen capitalista autoritario. Los países comunistas que sobreviven —Cuba, Corea del Norte, Venezuela— se hallan en un estado tan calamitoso que difícilmente podrían ser un modelo, como pareció serlo la URSS en su momento, para sacar de la pobreza y el subdesarrollo a una sociedad. El comunismo es ahora una ideología residual y sus seguidores, grupos y grupúsculos, están en los márgenes de la vida política de las naciones.…  Seguir leyendo »

El mejor inversor de la historia, el americano Warren Buffett, creó el sábado 25 de febrero una enorme conmoción entre los inversores con su reciente carta a los accionistas de su empresa (Berkshire Hathaway). En ella acusa a los más sofisticados inversores de incautos.

La carta es una diatriba contra los altos costes de los fondos de inversión. Buffett recuerda que hace ya casi 10 años propuso una apuesta que está a punto de resolverse: él apostaba a que nadie podría encontrar cinco fondos de inversión sofisticados (hedge funds) cuyo rendimiento medio superara, tras 10 años, el de un fondo low cost que se limitara a imitar pasivamente el índice bursátil americano.…  Seguir leyendo »

Recently, on a miserably cold morning in Berlin, I visited the headquarters of the Young Socialists, the youth movement of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). With so much attention now homing in on Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament who returned to Germany to run against Chancellor Angela Merkel, it was time to find out what was making him so popular, so quickly.

Just one month into his new job, support for the Social Democrats has soared. One poll shows Schulz’s party at 31 percent, pulling to within 2 percent of its rival. Other polls show the parties neck-and-neck, at 32 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »

As headlines in Israel reflect the imminent danger of a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and violence in the West Bank due to the absence of any political settlement with the Palestinians, my mind has gone back to an audience I had with the late King Hussein on Sept. 28, 1997. That’s when I successfully negotiated a breakthrough that enabled Jordan and Israel to step back from the brink of a suspension of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty. The trigger was a botched Mossad attempt to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashal.

The crisis resolution required a game changer, an unimaginable volte-face.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lápida anónima en un cementerio en Roma: «Aquí yace uno cuyo nombre fue escrito sobre el agua». El paseante puede saber o no que ese «joven poeta» ha querido hacer en su tumba eco a un griego lejano. Y que en tal ironía halló el consuelo a una vida que amuralló en la paradoja: esa sola excelencia del que escribe.

La escritura existe en la aporía, en lo insoluble, en el retorno, dice Platón, de lo igual a través de lo distinto. Su lógica circular la da una venerable fábula griega. Al navegante que arribó a la ciudad, su primer interlocutor local le advierte: «En esta isla mentimos todos.…  Seguir leyendo »

One emerged from a crisis conclave, the other was elected after the strangest campaign in recent American history. Both have upended traditions and reached outside the usual channels to speak to the concerns of ordinary people. Donald J. Trump and Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the president and the pope, are the world’s most famous populists. But they are in conflict.

To grasp why Pope Francis has become the flag-bearer of the global anti-Trump resistance, consider his Feb. 17 appearance at a university campus in Rome, where one of the students who asked him a question was a Syrian woman, Nour Essa. The pope knew her well.…  Seguir leyendo »

(Otro espectro republicano visita a Cospedal)

¡Ay, Cordera! No te me asustes por verme así, irrumpiendo en medio de tus sueños con esta garrota y dirigiéndome a ti con este gemido. Perdona por haberme tropezado con el bastón, que te he tirado los peluches, el pintauñas y el quitaesmalte de la mesilla. Ando algo torpón pero no soy uno de esos zoquetes de La Charanga del Tío Honorio que, por lo que me cuentan, tuvieron tanto éxito en la España machista del tardofranquismo cuando tú eras una tierna corderita.

Reconozco que lo de la garrota ya llamaba la atención en mi época.…  Seguir leyendo »

The year before he retired from the Soviet equivalent of a mayoral post in a small Russian town, my grandfather went to Turkmenistan to visit his old friend Redzhep, a comrade from his Red Army artillery unit during World War II. Redzhep, like my grandfather, had made good of his postwar career, becoming an agronomist. As my grandfather packed for his rail journey back to Russia, Redzhep came to him in a fit of Central Asian generosity: Ivan, he said, I will give you a freight car of melons to take home.

My grandfather immediately said yes, thinking vitamins from a sun-drenched Turkmenistan plantation would be welcomed by the working families in Donskoy, the town in the Tula region, south of Moscow, that he had headed for more than 15 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

«He estado al borde de la tuberculosis, al borde de la cárcel, al borde de la amistad, al borde del arte, al borde del suicidio, al borde de la misericordia, al borde de la envidia, al borde de la fama, al borde del amor, al borde de la playa, y, poco a poco, me fue dando sueño, y aquí estoy durmiendo al borde, al borde de despertar». Gloria Fuertes nació hace 100 años. Murió en 1998. A los que fuimos niños cuando la poeta se paseaba por una tele que tenía solo dos canales, nos dejó el recuerdo de una voz mitad de cazalla, mitad de bruja buena.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two excited crowds gathered in Bethlehem yesterday afternoon, one outside Banksy’s new hotel by the barrier wall, hoping for a glimpse of the internationally famous artist’s latest venture. The much larger, louder group was waiting beside the Church of the Nativity, to welcome a returning local hero, winner of the regional talent competition Arab Idol.

Hundreds of mostly young men and women roared when 23-year-old Yaqoub Shaheen was carried on to the stage in Manger Square. “He’s a Palestinian who shows we have talent regardless of the pressure on us,” said Yasmin el-Ramahi, a classmate of Shaheen’s, from primary school to graduation, and thrilled at seeing him again.…  Seguir leyendo »

Every one of the United Nations’ 193 member states has a legislature — and each has a plenary hall for its meetings. How does the architecture of these assembly spaces structure the way that legislature makes decisions?

To answer that question, we spent six years collecting the architectural layout for each one of those buildings. We’ve published our findings in our book “Parliament.” By comparing these plans in detail, we wanted to understand how a political culture is both shaped by and expressed through architecture. Organized as a lexicon, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the book for the first time allows a comparison of all national parliaments in the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump blames China’s trade policy for hurting U.S. exports — and U.S. jobs. But there’s another important piece to the China trade story: how its growing economic power may also influence the labor and environmental practices of its trade partners.

Just how much do trading relationships shape domestic politics? Starting with the debates on regulatory races to the bottom and the pollution haven hypothesis, political scientists have been investigating this question for more than 30 years. There was much debate in the 1990s when the North American Free Trade Agreement came into force and when China later joined the World Trade Organization.…  Seguir leyendo »

The dead babies scandal in Ireland has taken a new turn, as investigators have confirmed that significant quantities of human remains in two underground structures, one a decommissioned septic tank. A sampling of the remains suggested that they were from human infants, ranging from foetuses at approximately 35 weeks of development to children 3 years old. These remains seem to date from the 1925 to 1961 period when a Catholic order of nuns, the Bon Secour sisters, ran a home for unmarried mothers on the premises.

Early reports suggested a mass grave for 800 babies

When this scandal first broke in 2014, much reportage, including two stories published by The Washington Post claimed that the bodies of 800 babies had been discovered in a disused septic tank.…  Seguir leyendo »