Sábado, 12 de diciembre de 2020

Europa o el espejo roto

Escribe el nobel y disidente chino, Gao Xingjian, en su obra La Montaña del Alma que «la verdad no existe más que en la experiencia e incluso sólo en la experiencia personal, y aun en este caso, una vez que ha sido contada, se convierte en historia». La tensión presente entre lo subjetivo y lo colectivo es tan constante como la que ocurre en el balanceo que separa el sentimiento de los hechos, lo percibido de lo auténticamente real; sólo la infancia nos depara la posibilidad de contemplar la vida con nitidez, más tarde, el pacto social nos hace víctimas –o mejor dicho culpables– de ese gran asesinato –el de la inmaculada originalidad humana– que sirve de prolegómeno para la fundación de la sociedad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Restituir la memoria de Pardo Bazán en Meirás

Medio siglo después de su muerte, a principios de los años setenta del siglo XX, la escritora catalana Maria Aurèlia Capmany escribió en sus Cartes Impertinents sobre lo mucho que le sorprendía la lectura de Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921) a una joven iconoclasta como ella. El paso de los años y del franquismo la había convertido en una figura acartonada, conservadora, relegada al papel de novelista regional, domesticada. Ahora, al conocer su obra, a Capmany, le impresionó el buen sentido, la inteligencia, la creatividad y la vasta cultura. Se temía, sin embargo, que su influencia hubiese sido nula: “Nadie se acuerda de sus ideas, de sus denuncias, de sus esperanzas, que fueron, de hecho, todo un programa”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Uno de los principales retos a los que nos enfrentamos en los próximos años es la eficiente ejecución y gestión del Fondo de Recuperación Next Generation. España ha sido uno de los primeros países en presentar el Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia en el que se prevé que 72.000 millones de euros, es decir, aproximadamente la mitad del fondo de recuperación para España, se obtengan en forma de transferencias, y una parte muy relevante de estos se prevén para el ámbito de la vivienda. El foco en este campo se encuentra fijado prácticamente en su totalidad en materia de rehabilitación y eficiencia energética.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hay pocos hechos sociales tan coactivos como la Navidad. Está ahí fuera año tras año, cada vez más extendida en el tiempo. Otrora la lotería del 22 de diciembre marcaba su principio y los Reyes su fin. (Ahora dura más de un mes: “Es Navidad en El Corte Inglés”). Dicho período comprendía dos fechas familiares, dos fiestas de celebración pagana y un día que combinaba todo y era específicamente infantil. La recepción del 25 como fecha donde se practica también “la elegancia social del regalo” ha desteñido la fiesta de los Reyes Magos cuya magia se ha perdido en la sociedad de la información.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Y la República es Azaña», remachó Ramos Oliveira. No había transcurrido un mes desde su proclamación cuando el 11 de mayo, un incidente sin importancia intrínseca ni trascendencia alguna provocó el «hecho repugnante» y el «fetichismo primitivo y criminal», según la nota condenatoria de Ortega, Marañón y Pérez de Ayala, que ha pasado a la historia como «la quema de los conventos». En la mañana anterior se había inaugurado en Madrid un «Círculo monárquico independiente» y con tal motivo, un altavoz, instalado en una ventana, dejó oír desde la calle la «Marcha Real», un «¡viva la República!» de un taxista fue contestado con otro «¡viva el Rey!»,…  Seguir leyendo »

Se percibe una contrariedad en la corriente principal. Últimamente comparten desvelos las multinacionales, los medios, los docentes y los activistas de sofá y cuesco. A todos les preocupa mucho que al acabar la pandemia vuelva el mundo a girar como siempre porque estaríamos matando al planeta. Mientras nos marchitábamos confinados, la pelota azul respiraba tranquila y caían la polución, el ruido y los accidentes de tráfico. Ya te digo.

Pero es del daño infligido por Walt Disney de lo que nunca se recuperará el mundo. Porque una cosa eran las fábulas de Esopo y otra la prosopopeya universal inoculada a todos los niños del mundo urbano.…  Seguir leyendo »

Detenciones extrajudiciales, torturas, escuadrones de la muerte, hambre, colapso generalizado, persecución de la oposición, propaganda hasta la náusea y medios de comunicación silenciados. Venezuela es hoy, a la vista de todos, el retrato descarnado de un Estado totalitario, asfixiado por el terror institucionalizado, devastado por la ruina y liderado por una banda criminal, carente de cualquier otro móvil más complejo que el de evitar la cárcel.

Maduro y sus sicarios han llegado hasta tal extremo en su desesperada huida hacia delante, que han terminado cayendo en la caricatura de su propio modelo de populismo totalitario habanero -valga la redundancia-. Y ello para desgracia de los venezolanos, que han visto asombrados cómo el pajarito piador de Maduro, Hijo del Espíritu Santo chavista, ocupaba más espacio en la prensa internacional que la cárcel de Ramo Verde, la tumba en vida de Leopoldo López.…  Seguir leyendo »

A demonstration in Malaga, Spain, last month in support of Sahrawi rights in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)

On Dec. 10, President Trump upended 45 years of U.S. policy by stating that the United States recognizes Morocco’s claim over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Trump also announced that Morocco will normalize its relations with Israel, a deal that analysts describe as a quid pro quo. Israel reportedly lobbied the U.S. government over the past year to recognize Morocco’s claim.

Trump’s decision is unlikely to shift the long-standing political impasse between Morocco and the Western Saharan independence movement, but it may make it more difficult for the United Nations to help resolve a conflict that has recently seen the collapse of a 29-year-old cease-fire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia head to a refugee camp in Hamdayet, Sudan. (Byron Smith/Getty Images)

I was first in northern Ethiopia in the mid-’80s in the wake of the horrific famine that took the lives of a million people. In the 35 years since then, Ethiopia’s story has been one of remarkable progress. Children in school and jobs created. Roads, railways, factories and power stations built. Addis Ababa became one of the leading African cities; Ethiopia a bulwark of relative stability in the region.

What’s tragic about the current conflict is the danger of all that progress being lost.

As I write, the conflict in and around Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is well into its fifth week, with hundreds of people reportedly killed, tens of thousands displaced and millions enduring day after day without food, water and power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Image fournie par l’AIEA de centrifugeuses sur le site nucléaire de Natanz, le 4 novembre 2019. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/archives AFP

On peut soutenir qu’en dépit de tous ses errements, le président Trump n’a pas commis, sur le plan international, d’erreurs stratégiques équivalentes à celles de George Bush envahissant l’Irak ou Barak Obama renonçant à faire respecter ses lignes rouges en Syrie. La question se pose cependant pour sa gestion du dossier iranien : en mettant à mal l’accord nucléaire de 1995 (dit JCPOA), Trump a peut-être opéré un fait accompli irréversible, dont l’une des conséquences serait de projeter un pays essentiel pour les équilibres au Proche-Orient – l’Iran – dans l’orbite de la Chine.

Quoi qu’il en soit, à la suite de l’élection présidentielle américaine, la question iranienne est désormais entrée dans une phase nouvelle.…  Seguir leyendo »

The professional surfer Maya Gabeira surfed the biggest wave of 2020, measuring 73.5 feet, off the Portuguese coast. Credit José Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

1. Woman surfs the year’s biggest wave off the Portuguese coast

The Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira rode the biggest recorded wave of 2020, becoming the first female surfer with that distinction. The wave, off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal, measured 73.5 feet. Gabeira’s ride was certified by the World Surf League and the Guinness World Records.

2. American officials slap global terrorist label on Russian white supremacist group

In April the Trump administration designated the ultranationalist Russian Imperial Movement as a global terror threat. It was the first time the government applied the label to a white supremacist group.

3. In a first for the luxury industry, Louis Vuitton debuts a face shield

While many fashion houses sold protective face masks in 2020, Louis Vuitton became the first to release a face shield, as part of its 2021 cruise collection.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese president Xi Jinping walks past a guard of honour at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, during the start of an official tour to South Africa in 2015. Photo by KAREL PRINSLOO/AFP via Getty Images.

Africa is experiencing its first continent-wide recession in 25 years due to the impact of the COVID-19, but many southern African states were already in economic distress prior to the pandemic – with Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe partly because of unsustainable debt burdens they owe to China.

The COVID-19 crisis propelled African debt – and repayment and forgiveness – to the top of the international agenda once again, although this time much of the debt is bilateral, non-concessionary, or commercial in origin.

In April, the World Bank’s Development Committee and G20 finance ministers endorsed the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) which includes 40 African Least Developed Countries (LDCs).…  Seguir leyendo »

A staff member and a robot at the 2020 World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai in July. Credit Aly Song/Reuters

Turning Point: The coronavirus pandemic inspired a wave of touchless, contactless interactions — including food delivery and medical care — and the replacement of human workers by computers and other technology.

Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence technologies have been taking over routine tasks for years. The Covid-19 pandemic has rapidly increased that trend, driven by the triple necessities of increased productivity, lower costs and human safety. Suddenly, human contact is both undesirable and more longed for than ever. Delivery companies, plumbers and even some medical providers now boast about their “zero contact” service, but we relish any chance we get to have an in-person meal or a face-to-face meeting.…  Seguir leyendo »

A young grey-headed flying fox in Victoria, Australia. Ancient literature and folklore record a long list of anti-bat beliefs. Some people also blame bats for carrying dangerous pathogens, including, potentially, the precursor of the new coronavirus. Credit Annette Ruzicka

The order of animals known as Chiroptera, the bats, enjoys a mixed reputation among humans. I’m putting this politely: They have been calumniated and abused for centuries.

Some people, mainly from the comfort of distance and ignorance, find bats repellent and spooky. Some people fear them, with or without rational grounds. Bats are sometimes slaughtered in large numbers, defenseless at their collective roosts, when people deem them menacing, inconvenient, noxious or desirable as food.

The idea of bat soup or roasted bat may induce cringes in sensitive Western eaters, but that’s no consolation to the tens of thousands of flying foxes (as the largest of the Old World fruit bats are known) that have been legally hunted for meat and sport in Malaysia in recent years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Garment workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, blocked a highway in April at a protest demanding their wages, which went unpaid during a nationwide coronavirus lockdown that forced most factories to suspend operations. Credit Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

Turning Point: The coronavirus pandemic plunged the $2.5 trillion worldwide fashion industry into a crisis, prompting store closures, layoffs and bankruptcy filings in the West and threatening the livelihoods of millions of garment workers around the world.

This year the world has had to confront two monumental challenges: Covid-19 and the economic catastrophe the disease has caused. Both have taken a heavy toll on economically vulnerable workers, who already had to contend with low wages and few social protections. Their plight has exposed the rampant inequality pervading many corners of the globalized world, including the fashion industry.

The economic pressures created by the pandemic have demonstrated just how dependent fashion is on the exploitation of cheap labor and how devastating this interdependence can be in times of calamity.…  Seguir leyendo »

UN acting envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams speaks at the opening of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum hosted in Gammarth on the outskirts of the Tunisian capital, with the attendance of Tunisian President Kais Saied (C), on 9 November 2020. FETHI BELAID / AFP

Negotiations Run Aground, Threatening Political and Economic Stalemate

A fragile ceasefire signed in October is holding in Libya, and thus far renewed conflict has been averted. But tensions remain high, especially as the year is about to end with no substantial progress in political and economic negotiations that were supposed to pave the way for reunifying a country that has been divided in two, with rival governments and parallel financial and military institutions, since 2014. UN-mediated talks to appoint a unity government are faltering, as delegates have so far failed to agree on how to choose candidates for senior positions. A temporary deal on oil revenues in September enabled the resumption of production and exports and helped de-escalate military tensions in central Libya.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women wearing black participate in a nationwide pro-abortion protest on 3 October 2016 in Warsaw, Poland. The protest, called Black Monday, opposes the tightening of anti-abortion laws by the Polish government. Photo: Getty Images.

Hundreds of thousands of women have been protesting in what has become the largest demonstrations seen in Poland since the fall of communism in 1989.

Sparked by a decision by the constitutional court to remove one of the last remaining grounds for abortion, it has grown into broader opposition against the government, with supporters using the slogan #ThisIsWar. Why has this decision, and the outrage it has caused, been so significant?

Annabelle Chapman: Poland has some of the strictest restrictions on abortion in Europe where abortion is banned except in exceptional circumstances such as when a woman’s life is in danger, in cases of rape or incest or in cases of severe foetal defects.…  Seguir leyendo »