Como um Nobel da Paz toca os tambores de guerra

Recomendo a leitura completa do artigo no New York Times, mas aqui ficam alguns excertos:

The White House’s goal is to persuade Congress to authorize a limited military strike against Syria to punish it for a deadly chemical weapons attack. But after a frenetic week of wall-to-wall intelligence briefings, dozens of phone calls and hours of hearings with senior members of Mr. Obama’s war council, more and more lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, are lining up to vote against the president. (…)

To improve its odds, the White House is enlisting virtually every senior official from the president on down. In addition to members of Congress, it is reaching out to Jewish groups, Arab-Americans, left-leaning think tanks and even officials from the George W. Bush administration, some of whom are acting as surrogates. (…)

The next phase of the campaign will be more individualized, and more from Mr. Obama himself. Democrats who are balking are being asked at least to vote against Republican procedural moves meant to delay or derail an up-or-down vote. After all the arguments are exhausted, aides said, it will come down to a personal pitch: the president needs you to save him from a debilitating public defeat. (…)

The White House is also putting officials, including the president, before audiences and television cameras. Mr. Obama will tape interviews on Monday with ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and CNN. Mr. McDonough will appear on all five Sunday news programs, and on Monday the national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, will address the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institute.

The last time the White House lobbied this intensively on a single issue was the 2009 health care law.

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“Let me tell you a story”

Elephant (Roger Ebert)

The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

(via BoingBoing)

Welfare trap 101

«¿Un empleo? Gracias, pero prefiero seguir cobrando la ayuda»

«Buenos días, le llamamos de Lanbide para comunicarle que, como perceptor de la Renta de Garantía de Ingresos, ha sido seleccionado para optar a uno de los 212 puestos de trabajo que ofrecemos en Bilbao». Respuesta: «Gracias, pero no me interesa. Prefiero seguir cobrando la ayuda». Conversaciones como ésta forman parte de un estudio del servicio Vasco de Empleo, Lanbide, para conocer la empleabilidad de los perceptores de la Renta de Garantía de Ingresos (prestación económica para personas sin ingresos) en Bilbao. El resultado de la experiencia desveló fraudes y prácticas poco correctas entre algunos de los perceptores de esta prestación. Casi la mitad de las cerca de 2.000 personas con las que se intentó contactar para ofrecerles un empleo o no estaban disponibles -no contestaban al teléfono- o no les interesaba trabajar. Incluso, cerca de un centenar aseguró estar ya trabajando a pesar de cobrar supuestamente la RGI. (…)

En concreto, se ofertaron 212 puestos de trabajo reales destinados a perceptores de esta prestación en Bilbao. El área de servicio del Ayuntamiento de la capital vizcaína facilitó a Lanbide los datos y teléfonos de 1.875 perceptores para que Lanbide se pusiera en contacto con ellos. La primera dificultad que encontraron los técnicos de Lanbide fue dar con estas personas. Según el balance de esta experiencia, fue imposible contactar con 498 de estos perceptores. A 335 se les telefoneó un mínimo de cuatro veces en distintos días (a algunos se les llamó hasta ocho veces). Otros 163, en cambio, tenían un número erróneo o restringido.

Con los que se consiguió contactar también hubo sorpresas. De hecho, 279 personas a las que se les ofreció la oportunidad de un puesto de trabajo dijeron directamente que no estaban interesados. De ellos, 74 aseguraron que se encontraban trabajando y otros tres confesaron que vivían fuera de Euskadi, algo incompatible para cobrar esta prestación. Además, otros perceptores argumentaron que se encontraban al cuidado de menores o mayores, que estaban estudiando o que se hallaban enfermos. (…) Finalmente, se consiguió concertar la entrevista con 939 de los 1.875 perceptores, aunque de ellos 57 no acudieron a la cita. De los entrevistados, 213 llevaban más de seis años en el desempleo y 109 aseguraron no haber trabajado nunca.

Reino Unido: o medo de viver

Quando me mudei para as ilhas britânicas, uma das primeiras coisas que me chamou à atenção foi a forma como os britânicos pareciam viver permanentemente num filme de terror. Embora existam variações regionais relativamente fortes, é bastante evidente que, até nas localidades onde o crime violento é virtualmente inexistente, determinadas normas culturais diferem muito pouco. A minha primeira surpresa – especialmente porque as câmaras de vigilância nas ruas já não constituem nenhuma novidade para quem segue a imprensa local – foi verificar que até os mini-mercados exibiam vários cartazes com frases do género “Tem menos de 25? Esteja preparado para mostrar uma forma de identificação”. Os avisos referem-se a quem pretenda comprar qualquer bebida alcoólica, cuja venda é proibida a menores de 18. Várias lojas adoptaram este esquema para evitar a compra por parte de menores com um aspecto mais velho – ou seja, quem, neste caso, aparente ter menos de 25, arrisca-se a ter de provar que tem, na verdade, pelo menos 18. Como seria de esperar, estes esquemas, que começaram com um limite de 21, já estão a chegar aos 30 em retalhistas de grande relevo [Tesco, Asda]. O tema é uma espécie de tabu perante estrangeiros porque, tal como a prática do recolher obrigatório que menciono mais abaixo, a intenção não parece sequer ser a de “proteger” os menores do consumo, mas sim de “proteger” a sociedade dos menores que consomem. Continuar a ler

The Curse of Machinery

A propósito das recentes declarações de Barack Obama sobre os supostos efeitos negativos da tecnologia na taxa de emprego, parece-me indicado recomendar a leitura de um pequeno texto de Henry Hazlitt, publicado em 1946 no seu Economics in One Lesson, o qual começa da seguinte forma:

Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance cre­ate unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever. Whenever there is long-con­tinued mass unemployment, ma­chines get the blame anew. This fallacy is still the basis of many labor union practices. The public tolerates these practices because it either believes at bottom that the unions are right, or is too con­fused to see just why they are wrong.

The belief that machines cause unemployment, when held with any logical consistency, leads to preposterous conclusions. Not only must we be causing unemployment with every technological improve­ment we make today, but primitive man must have started causing it with the first efforts he made to save himself from needless toil and sweat.

Como cortar um défice orçamental

Expect More Bailouts, de Veronique de Rugy

Short of declaring bankruptcy, Greece should cut its spending and mainly reform its entitlement programs. Using a large data set covering over 20 O.E.C.D. countries and spanning nearly four decades, the economists Andrew Biggs, Kevin Hassett and Matt Jensen identify more than 100 instances in which countries addressed their budget gaps. They find that “the typical unsuccessful fiscal consolidation consisted of 53 percent tax increases and 47 percent spending cuts. By contrast, the typical successful fiscal consolidation consisted of 85 percent spending cuts.” Their findings are consistent with the work of Harvard’s Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna.

They also found that successful consolidations involve important reductions in social transfers and that “cuts to government wage expenditures, meaning the size and pay of the public sector work force, and cuts to subsidies are typical in both successful and unsuccessful consolidations.” Unfortunately, only a minority of countries chose to cut spending. Most relied on revenue increases, which were unsuccessful in reducing the debt ratio.

‘You do not exist,’ said O’Brien

“Once again the sense of helplessness assailed [Winston]. He knew, or he could imagine, the arguments which proved his own nonexistence; but they were nonsense, they were only a play on words. Did not the statement, ‘You do not exist’, contain a logical absurdity? But what use was it to say so? His mind shrivelled as he thought of the unanswerable, mad arguments with which O’Brien would demolish him. (…)

‘The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body but, above all, over the mind. Power over matter — external reality, as you would call it — is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute.’ (…)

‘But how can you control matter?’ [Winston] burst out. ‘You don’t even control the climate or the law of gravity. And there are disease, pain, death –’. O’Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. ‘We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation — anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.’”

“Não há indício de plano do PM para controlar a imprensa”

Confrontado com o teor das escutas telefónicas divulgadas pelo semanário Sol, o PGR contrapôs que estas “valem o que valem” (…)

O PGR notou ainda que, uma vez declaradas “nulas e de nenhum valor” as escutas na parte respeitante ao primeiro-ministro, a “partir daí não existem”. “Não existem. São irrelevantes. Quanto ao resto, não é da competência do PGR”, conclui Pinto Monteiro.

Steven Weinberg cancela visita ao Imperial College

US laureate calls off UK visit

Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979, was planning to visit Imperial College London in July to speak in honour of Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam and to give a talk at a conference on particle physics.

Letter to Michael Duff, Abdus Salam chair of theoretical physics at Imperial College London

I am writing to let you know that I will not be coming to the Abdus Salam commemoration or the Pascos conference [the 13th international symposium on particles, strings and cosmology at Imperial College] this July. For some time, I have had mixed feelings about visits to Britain, due to my perception of a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current of British opinion, especially in the intellectual establishment. When I heard of the boycott of Israeli academics by (the lecturers’ union) Natfhe in 2006, I cancelled a visit I had planned to a conference at Durham University. Continuar a ler

Não faz mal, o que conta é a intenção

Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops (New York Times, via Slashdot)

The students at Liverpool High have used their school-issued laptops to exchange answers on tests, download pornography and hack into local businesses. When the school tightened its network security, a 10th grader not only found a way around it but also posted step-by-step instructions on the Web for others to follow (which they did).

Scores of the leased laptops break down each month, and every other morning, when the entire school has study hall, the network inevitably freezes because of the sheer number of students roaming the Internet instead of getting help from teachers.

So the Liverpool Central School District, just outside Syracuse, has decided to phase out laptops starting this fall, joining a handful of other schools around the country that adopted one-to-one computing programs and are now abandoning them as educationally empty and worse. Many of these districts had sought to prepare their students for a technology-driven world and close the so-called digital divide between students who had computers at home and those who did not.

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement – none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands. “The teachers were telling us when there’s a one-to-one relationship between the student and the laptop, the box gets in the way. It’s a distraction to the educational process.” Continuar a ler

All your base (pairs) are belong to us

Governo avança com proposta de lei para criar base de dados de ADN

Foi hoje [24 de Maio] aprovada em Conselho de Ministros uma proposta de lei para a criação de uma base de dados de perfis de ADN com fins de identificação civil e criminal. A iniciativa tinha já levantado bastante polémica e avança agora para a Assembleia da República, salientando o Governo os “visíveis benefícios da identificação genética para fins criminais e civis”, embora um parecer da Comissão Nacional de Protecção de Dados levante reservas em relação a vários aspectos.

A base de dados de perfis de ADN, nas suas duas vertentes, está sob a responsabilidade do Conselho de Fiscalização, que assume poderes de autoridade e responde apenas perante a Assembleia da República, diz o documento.

A proposta de lei agora aprovada contempla dois tipos de ficheiros diferentes, um para identificação civil e criminal, com regras de inserção de dados diversas. No caso da base de dados de identificação civil o fornecimento de informação é voluntário e deverá ser feito segundo a prestação de consentimento livre, informado e escrito, podendo este ser revogável.

Por enquanto, se a proposta avançar, apesar da Comissão de Dados a ter chumbado, a listagem numa base de dados civil terá apenas carácter voluntário. Falta somente saber quanto tempo levará o governo a tentar forçar o registo de todos os portugueses obrigatório na prática, por exemplo, exigindo-o para ter acesso a determinados serviços. Para quem já não se recordar, ou admitir excessiva esta conclusão, recomenda-se a leitura de uma das notícias, originalmente de 2005, em que António Costa explicava qual era a intenção do governo.

O que leva dentro dessa mochila? Essa barba parece suspeita

More stop and quiz terror powers

Proposed new anti-terror laws could give police greater powers to stop and question anyone in the UK. The proposal, allowing police to ask people about their identity and movement, is among measures being considered by Home Secretary John Reid. The new legislation would be similar to that already used in Northern Ireland.

Police are still likely to need a “reasonable suspicion” a crime may be committed. Anyone refusing to co-operate could be fined up to £5,000. At present, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, officers already have the power to stop and search people or vehicles in an area seen as being at risk from terrorism even if they are not suspected of any breach of the law. A Home Office spokeswoman said that the new proposals would give officers an automatic right to stop and question anyone in the UK about suspected terrorism.

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that

Humans! is a 60 second global awareness PSA sensationalizing the excessive, all-consuming nature of the human being. This cute and naïve Earth stands no chance against such an insatiable parasite. Witness its utter demise in a fun and sickening kind of way:

Para além do facto de ser bastante representativo de grande parte da cultura popular existente em torno deste assunto, fará lembrar algo mais? Continuar a ler

Deixem o pobre homem em paz

Está um político sério a tentar adquirir uma imagem de credibilidade durante toda a carreira académica profissional para os ingratos dos jornalistas tentarem destruir de imediato a sua imagem de homem idóneo e honroso assim que se dá um dos momentos de maior sinceridade política jamais presenciados. Haja decoro, o sr. primeiro-ministro é o primeiro-ministro de Portugal.

Ministry of Truth

Learn How to Deliver the Truth

«You’ve seen An Inconvenient Truth. You’ve made changes in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. Looking for something else to do to help solve the climate crisis? How about learning how to give the presentation that is at the heart of An Inconvenient Truth?

Starting this Fall, Al Gore and a team of renowned climate change scientists and educators will train more than 1,000 individuals to give a version of his presentation on the effects of – and solutions for – global warming, to community groups throughout the U.S. (…)

The two-day program is designed to familiarize trainees with the climate change science, equip them with new presentation skills, and develop a new dynamic online learning community for ongoing activities.»

É curiosa a forma como evoluiu a linguagem usada pela equipa de Al Gore. De uma Verdade inconveniente (aquilo que os agentes infiltrados das forças do Mal não querem que se saiba) passou-se à descoberta da Verdade (o processo de aceitação e compreensão da natureza divina) e agora à entrega da Verdade (é necessário difundir a mensagem que permita a redenção de outros pecadores ecológicos). Não fosse o filme uma homenagem à climatologia e a preocupação totalmente desinteressada de Al Gore tão evidente, os mais incautos poderiam até correr o risco de sugerir que estaríamos perante uma espécie de panteísmo reciclado de forma a adaptar-se às crenças dos tempos modernos e aos assuntos políticos do presente.

Importante relembrar

Base de Dados Genéticos

Por Despacho de Sua Excelência o Ministro da Justiça, de 19 de Janeiro de 2006 (publicado no D.R., II Série, de 2 de Fevereiro), foi criada uma Comissão com a incumbência de proceder à elaboração de uma proposta de constituição e funcionamento de uma base de dados genéticos para fins de identificação civil e de investigação criminal. (…)

De entre a metodologia de trabalho proposta, salienta-se um levantamento das legislações de países onde a análise e tratamento de informação genética em bases de dados automatizadas já é efectuada, bem como uma avaliação do respectivo funcionamento, taxa de sucesso, etc., prevendo-se a realização de inúmeros debates públicos sobre esta matéria.

Com a criação de bases de dados genéticos visa-se a obtenção de uma maior eficácia na investigação criminal e identificação civil internas, bem como uma mais estreita e activa cooperação no campo da investigação multilateral, indo assim ao encontro às inúmeras recomendações de diversas instâncias internacionais, nomeadamente às da União Europeia.

A fonte desta informação é a própria página do Ministério da Justiça, a partir da qual é também possível enviar directamente um comentário ao MdJ e responder ao inquérito disponibilizado. Quem não se sentir muito afeiçoado à iniciativa pode (e deve) enviar a sua opinião uma vez que se prevê que o assunto seja discutido no parlamento ainda este ano.

“Let the science argument win out”

Caution urged on climate ‘risks’

Two leading UK climate researchers have criticised those among their peers who they say are “overplaying” the global warming message. Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier, both Royal Meteorological Society figures, are voicing their concern at a conference in Oxford. They say some researchers make claims about possible future impacts that cannot be justified by the science. The pair believe this damages the credibility of all climate scientists. They think catastrophism and the “Hollywoodisation” of weather and climate only work to create confusion in the public mind.

They argue for a more sober and reasoned explanation of the uncertainties about possible future changes in the Earth’s climate. As an example, they point to a recent statement from one of the foremost US science bodies – the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The association released a strongly worded statement at its last annual meeting in San Francisco in February which said: “As expected, intensification of droughts, heatwaves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies. These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible.”

According to Professors Hardaker and Collier, this may well turn out to be true, but convincing evidence to back the claims has not yet emerged. “It’s certainly a very strong statement,” Professor Collier told BBC News. “I suspect it refers to evidence that hurricanes have increased as a result of global warming; but to make the blanket assumption that all extreme events are increasing is a bit too early yet.” (…) Continuar a ler

Prejuízo garantido a curto prazo

Relatório da Navegação Aérea de Portugal “chumba” Ota

O futuro aeroporto da Ota terá uma validade de 13 anos, muito abaixo dos 50 previstos pelo governo, segundo um relatório da Navegação Aérea de Portugal (NAV), revela hoje o semanário “Sol”. O documento, a que o jornal teve acesso, dá conta que o aeroporto da Ota atingirá a capacidade máxima em 2030, ou seja, estará saturado em apenas 13 anos, já que a inauguração está prevista para 2017.

Segundo o estudo da NAV, cuja mais recente versão data de Janeiro, não será possível efectuar aterragens e descolagens em simultâneo, ainda que o aeroporto tenha duas pistas, e o máximo permitido é de 70 aviões por hora, contra os 80 desejados pelo governo.

Aliens cause solve global warming

marcel_debris1.jpgUFO science key to halting climate change: former Canadian defense minister

A former Canadian defense minister is demanding governments worldwide disclose and use secret alien technologies obtained in alleged UFO crashes to stem climate change, a local paper said Wednesday.

“I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation … that could be a way to save our planet,” Paul Hellyer, 83, told the Ottawa Citizen. Alien spacecrafts would have traveled vast distances to reach Earth, and so must be equipped with advanced propulsion systems or used exceptional fuels, he told the newspaper. Such alien technologies could offer humanity alternatives to fossil fuels, he said, pointing to the enigmatic 1947 incident in Roswell, New Mexico — which has become a shrine for UFO believers — as an example of alien contact.

“We need to persuade governments to come clean on what they know. Some of us suspect they know quite a lot, and it might be enough to save our planet if applied quickly enough,” he said.

Real ID Act

Na Wired, National ID Card Rules Unveiled:

Homeland Security officials released long-delayed guidelines that turn state-issued identification cards into de facto internal passports Thursday, estimating the changes will cost states and individuals $23 billion over 10 years. The move prompted a new round of protest from civil libertarians and security experts, who called on Congress to repeal the 2005 law known as the Real ID Act that mandates the changes. (…)

However, many difficult questions, such as how state databases will be linked or how homeless people can get identity documents, were left unanswered by the proposed rules. Citizens of states that don’t abide by the guidelines will not be able to enter federal courthouses or use their identity cards to board a commercial flight.

Sophia Cope, a staff attorney at the centrist Center for Democracy and Technology, says the rules only mention privacy once. “The Real ID Act does not include language that lets DHS prescribe privacy requirements, so there are no privacy regulations related to exchange of personal information between the states, none about skimming of the data on the magnetic stripe, and no limits on use of information by the feds,” Cope said.

The Real ID Act, slipped into an emergency federal funding bill without hearings, originally required states to begin issuing the ID documents by May 2008. The proposed rules allow states to ask for an extension until Jan. 1, 2010. (…) Maine has already declared it will not follow the rules, and other states are close to joining that rebellion. In Congress, a bipartisan coalition is forming around bills that would repeal portions of the Real ID Act, but it is unclear if today’s rules will slow or accelerate these efforts.

Nota: mais detalhes no artigo do CNET, Homeland Security offers details on Real ID

Put the funds where the pocket is

É consensual e ninguém minimamente sério (i.e., tipos cuja prima da vizinha do sobrinho do cunhado tenha acções da Exxon não têm direito a opinar, a menos que concordem) o pode negar mas, pelo sim pelo não, é melhor continuar a confirmar repetidamente as coisas acerca das quais já temos certeza absoluta, não vá o diabo tecê-las – que é como quem diz, não vá o pessoal ficar com a sensação de que há um grau de incerteza tão reduzido que isto deixe de parecer uma coisa respeitável e passe a ser visto como um excelente negócio de troca entre o que o político quer ouvir e o que cientista deseja receber.

À atenção dos defensores dos direitos das mulheres

Father killed family for being too western

A father killed his wife and four daughters in their sleep because he could not bear them adopting a more westernised lifestyle, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mohammed Riaz, 49, found it abhorrent that his eldest daughter wanted to be a fashion designer, and that she and her sisters were likely to reject the Muslim tradition of arranged marriages. (…) Riaz, who had spent all but the last 17 years of his life in the North West Frontier region of Pakistan, met his Anglo-Pakistani wife when her father sent her to the sub-continent to find a husband. (…)

After Mrs Riaz’s father died she “suddenly felt less beholden to Mohammed”, a friend said. “She started to develop her own circle of friends and allowed the girls to express themselves in a more western way.” She began to work with women who felt suppressed by Asian culture and many saw her as a role model for young Asian women.

Female Pakistani minister shot dead for ‘breaking Islamic dress code’

Zilla Huma Usman, the minister for social welfare in Punjab province and an ally of President Pervez Musharraf, was killed as she was about to deliver a speech to dozens of party activists, by a “fanatic”, who believed that she was dressed inappropriately and that women should not be involved in politics, officials said. Mrs Usman, 35, was wearing the shalwar kameez worn by many professional women in Pakistan, but did not cover her head.

The attack happened in Gujranwala, 120 miles southeast of Islamabad, where the minister’s office is based. As Ms Usman, 35, stepped out of her car – where she was greeted by her co-workers throwing rose petals – the attacker pulled out a pistol and fired a single shot at close range, hitting her in the head. She was airlifted to hospital in the provincial capital Lahore, but died soon afterwards. (…)

Mr Sarwar appeared relaxed and calm when he told a television channel that he had carried out God’s order to kill women who sinned. “I have no regrets. I just obeyed Allah’s commandment,” he said, adding that Islam did not allow women to hold positions of leadership. “I will kill all those women who do not follow the right path, if I am freed again,” he said.

Outros caminhos para a Índia

Para além do conselho do António Amaral, outra leitura importante para evitar alguns “espantos” de Cavaco Silva na Índia teria sido este capítulo do Index of Economic Freedom, publicado há um ano atrás:

Grassroots Capitalism Thrives in India de Barun S. Mitra [pdf]

Ingenuity, a spirit of enterprise and innovation, has helped most Indians, particularly those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, survive strangulating economic policies. Being a pluralistic democracy has actually helped to moderate some of these economic policies, allowing people to bend oppressive regulations. Reinforcing the pluralist democracy is a free press. Notwithstanding the ideological fervor of the intelligentsia and the rhetoric of the political class, there is a point beyond which the government cannot impose rigid economic regulations. Where such regulations are indeed laid down, there is a point beyond which enforcement agencies cannot implement the laws on the ground. That is the way it has always been. While the dominant political party adopted the doctrine of a “socialistic pattern of development” in the mid-1950s and sought to implement Soviet-style five-year plans, a large part of the Indian economy continued to function virtually outside the scope of the law. Today, 15 years after economic liberalization, experts estimate that 30 percent–40 percent of the Indian economy continues to be in the informal sector. This informal economy reflects India’s true economic potential. (…)

This brief survey provides a glimpse of the culture of entrepreneurship that prevails in India. If these grassroots capitalist entrepreneurs were freed from the shackles of bureaucratic economic regulations, they could well take India to the top of the development ladder. It would not be too farfetched to suggest that there is hardly any country in the world today where informal-sector economic activity is as diverse and as widespread as it is in India. This activity is an unrealized potential just waiting to be harnessed.

Há diferenças entre o mediático e o científico (2)

E a prova disso é que mesmo entre os que são da opinião de que existe um aquecimento global fortemente influenciado pela actividade humana se encontram investigadores que são suficientemente realistas para conseguir distinguir algumas questões importantes. [Leitura complementar: Novo relatório aponta para menor impacto humano no aquecimento global]

Chaotic world of climate truth by Mike Hulme, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Climate change is a reality, and science confirms that human activities are heavily implicated in this change. But over the last few years a new environmental phenomenon has been constructed in this country – the phenomenon of “catastrophic” climate change. It seems that mere “climate change” was not going to be bad enough, and so now it must be “catastrophic” to be worthy of attention.

The increasing use of this pejorative term – and its bedfellow qualifiers “chaotic”, “irreversible”, “rapid” – has altered the public discourse around climate change. This discourse is now characterised by phrases such as “climate change is worse than we thought”, that we are approaching “irreversible tipping in the Earth’s climate”, and that we are “at the point of no return”.

I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric. It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the (catastrophe) sceptics. How the wheel turns. (…) Continuar a ler

Há diferenças entre o mediático e o científico

Climate of Fear by Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT [o artigo é de Abril de 2006]

There have been repeated claims that this past year’s [2005] hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science–whether for AIDS, or space, or climate–where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis. Continuar a ler

Interferências

Puro veneno

A opinião geral na Europa está sempre muito direccionada para dar especial atenção a todos os crimes chocantes e merecedores de indignação que são cometidos nos EUA, especialmente porque existe a ideia subjacente de que a defesa pessoal com o uso de uma arma de fogo é, de alguma forma, moralmente ilegítima – esta deve ser proporcionada única e exclusivamente pelo Estado – e que a não observação desta regra de ouro conduz inevitavelmente a um desastre social. Paralelamente, junta-se o preconceito de que nos EUA os pobres são uma espécie de excluídos da sociedade aos quais não é proporcionada (repare-se na indelével marca estatista do verbo na voz passiva) qualquer qualidade de vida em comparação com o paraíso idílico que estes encontram em solo europeu ou em qualquer outro local onde se esteja a “construir” uma sociedade “a sério”.

Assim, quando há um homicídio (ou múltiplos homicídios) numa escola secundária americana onde um maníaco desata aos tiros com uma arma qualquer, a culpa é inexoravelmente da segunda emenda da constituição americana, que não postula os princípios de uma sociedade civilizada mas antes a de uns cowboys do velho oeste, do lóbi da National Rifle Association e, em simultâneo, da desumanização da sociedade consumista americana, do desespero total de quem não tem forma de sobrevivência e por aí adiante.

Continuar a ler

Isto dava mais uma lei da blogosfera (2)

É praticamente garantido que quem critica alguém por implícita ou secretamente defender tendências anarquistas, perfilhar uma ideologia anti-Estado ou ter um pensamento irredutivelmente determinista e absoluto acabará, mais tarde ou mais cedo, por criticar a mesma pessoa por implícita ou secretamente defender um ditador ou estadista autoritário, dar importância à circunstância histórica, fazer comparações políticas e opinar com base na incerteza sobre as alternativas possíveis, alternando com a crítica original quando der novamente jeito.