sábado, 31 de outubro de 2009
You can't stop either. Why that's good.
Published Oct 31, 2009
"I think this would be a good time for a beer," Franklin D. Roosevelt said upon signing a bill that made 3.2 percent lager legal, ahead of the full repeal of Prohibition. I hope Barack Obama will come up with some comparably witty remarks as he presides over the dismantling of our contemporary forms of prohibition—laws that prevent gay marriage, restrict cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, and ban travel to Cuba. "You may now kiss the groom," perhaps, or a version of the comment he once made about smoking pot: "I inhaled—that was the point." (Click here to follow Jacob Weisberg)
Prohibition now is different from Prohibition then. When the 18th Amendment went into effect in 1920, it was a radical social experiment challenging a custom as old as civilization. A predictable failure—the insult to individual rights, the impossibility of enforcement, the spawning of organized crime—it came to an end in 1933. Today it is a byword for futile attempts to legislate morality and remake human nature.
Our forms of prohibition are more sins of omission than commission. Rather than trying to take away longstanding rights, they're instances of conservative laws failing to keep pace with a liberalizing society. But like Prohibition in the '20s, these restrictions have become indefensible as well as impractical, and as a result are fading fast. Within 10 years, it seems a reasonable guess that Americans will travel freely to Cuba, that all states will recognize gay unions, and that few will retain criminal penalties for marijuana use by individuals. These reforms are inevitable—not because politics has changed, but because society has.
A few reference points: in April, Obama lifted restrictions on travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans. Last month the Justice Department announced that it would no longer prosecute cases involving medical marijuana. Same-sex marriages are recognized in six states and counting. In a larger frame, loosening restrictions and lax enforcement reflect evolving social norms. Gay unions have been celebrated on the New York Times weddings page since 2002. Since George W. Bush left office, American tourists no longer worry about being prosecuted for visiting Havana without a Treasury license. In L.A., you need only tell an on-site doctor at a walk-in pot emporium that you feel anxious to walk out with a legal bag of Captain Kush.
The chief reason these prohibitions are falling away is the evolving definition of the pursuit of happiness. What's driving the legalization of gay marriage is not so much the moral argument, but the pressures from couples who want to sanctify their relationships, obtain legal benefits, and raise children in a stable environment. What's advancing the decriminalization of marijuana is not just the demand for pot as medicine but the number of adults—more than 23 million in the past year, according to the most recent government survey—who use it and don't believe they should face legal jeopardy. What's bringing the change on Cuba is not the epic failure of the 49-year-old U.S. embargo, but the demand on the part of Americans who want to go there—whether to visit relatives, prospect for post-Castro business opportunities, or sip rum drinks on the beach.
For similar reasons, there isn't likely to be any retreat on the right to have an abortion or own a gun. Popular demand for an individual right is simply too powerful to overcome. The Internet has been a crucial amplifier of all such claims. With pornography and gambling, the Web itself became an irrepressible distribution tool. When it comes to gay marriage, it has accelerated the recognition of a new civil right by serving as an organizing tool and information clearinghouse. More broadly, the freest communications medium the world has ever known has raised expectations of personal liberty. In a world where everyone has his own printing press, restrictions on personal behavior become increasingly untenable.
Politicians will continue to lag, rather than lead, these changes. Republicans face a risk in resisting the new realities. If the GOP remains the party of prohibition, it will increasingly alienate libertarian leaners and the young. Democrats face a different danger in embracing cultural transformations too eagerly. Nearly four decades after George McGovern became known as the candidate of amnesty, abortion, and acid, cultural issues are still treacherous territory for them. Why get in front of change when you can follow from a safe distance and end up with the same result?
Jacob Weisberg is also the author of The Bush Tragedy and In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington .
sexta-feira, 30 de outubro de 2009
«FACE OCULTA» Maior esquema de corrupção envolvendo empresas com participação do Estado deverá ainda fazer mais arguidos
Vara e Penedos são os primeiros. Vêm aí
mais arguidos, diz PJOs indícios colhidos não excluem que venham a ser
implicadas mais pessoas no alegado esquema de favorecimento das
empresas do grupo O2, do empresário Manuel Godinho. Armando Vara
e José Penedos, dois antigos governantes da equipa de Guterres,
foram envolvidos num processo cujas ramificações
estão a ser investigadas há um ano. (...)
O empresário Manuel Godinho, detido preventivamente e que
amanhã será ouvido por um juiz, é acusado de ter
criado contactos em cerca de dez empresas, graças aos quais
conhecia antecipadamente pormenores de concursos públicos. (...)
Vara e Penedos são os primeiros. Vêm aí mais arguidos, diz PJ
in Jornal i online
Armando Vara: o polémico banqueiro acidental
in Público | 30de Outubro de 2009
Coelho, Edite Estrela, Laurentino Dias. Notícias não
negadas têm-no dado como estando ligado à maçonaria
do Grande Oriente Lusitano. (...)
O curriculum académico é feito no princípio da
década, com a licenciatura em 2005 em Relações
Internacionais na Universidade Independente, a mesma onde
Sócrates se diplomou. (...)
Em 2005 o PS de José Sócrates ganha as legislativas. Tem
51 anos, quando é nomeado administrador da CGD. Vara toma posse
no meio de grande controvérsia: um Job para um boy? (...)
A transição da CGD para o BCP deixa rasto, quando se
apura terem sido dados créditos em larga escala a accionistas do
BCP, para que estes entrassem na disputa pelo controlo do banco. Em
troca, a CGD recebeu acções cotadas. (...)
domingo, 25 de outubro de 2009
Climate correspondent, BBC News
This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.
But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.
And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.
So what on Earth is going on?
Climate change sceptics, who passionately and consistently argue that man's influence on our climate is overstated, say they saw it coming.
They argue that there are natural cycles, over which we have no control, that dictate how warm the planet is. But what is the evidence for this?
During the last few decades of the 20th Century, our planet did warm quickly.
Recent research has ruled out solar influences on temperature increases
Sceptics argue that the warming we observed was down to the energy from the Sun increasing. After all 98% of the Earth's warmth comes from the Sun.
But research conducted two years ago, and published by the Royal Society, seemed to rule out solar influences.
The scientists' main approach was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature.
And the results were clear. "Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But one solar scientist Piers Corbyn from Weatheraction, a company specialising in long range weather forecasting, disagrees.
He claims that solar charged particles impact us far more than is currently accepted, so much so he says that they are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures.
He is so excited by what he has discovered that he plans to tell the international scientific community at a conference in London at the end of the month.
If proved correct, this could revolutionise the whole subject.
What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth's great heat stores.
In the last few years [the Pacific Ocean] has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down
According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.
The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).
For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.
But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.
These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.
So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.
Professor Easterbrook says: "The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling."
So what does it all mean? Climate change sceptics argue that this is evidence that they have been right all along.
They say there are so many other natural causes for warming and cooling, that even if man is warming the planet, it is a small part compared with nature.
But those scientists who are equally passionate about man's influence on global warming argue that their science is solid.
The UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, responsible for future climate predictions, says it incorporates solar variation and ocean cycles into its climate models, and that they are nothing new.
In fact, the centre says they are just two of the whole host of known factors that influence global temperatures - all of which are accounted for by its models.
In addition, say Met Office scientists, temperatures have never increased in a straight line, and there will always be periods of slower warming, or even temporary cooling.
What is crucial, they say, is the long-term trend in global temperatures. And that, according to the Met office data, is clearly up.
To confuse the issue even further, last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.
Professor Latif is based at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany and is one of the world's top climate modellers.
But he makes it clear that he has not become a sceptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself.
So what can we expect in the next few years?
Both sides have very different forecasts. The Met Office says that warming is set to resume quickly and strongly.
It predicts that from 2010 to 2015 at least half the years will be hotter than the current hottest year on record (1998).
Sceptics disagree. They insist it is unlikely that temperatures will reach the dizzy heights of 1998 until 2030 at the earliest. It is possible, they say, that because of ocean and solar cycles a period of global cooling is more likely.
One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say it is hotting up.Update - 1300, Tuesday 13 October 2009: Paul Hudson has written a blog entry about his article here: Paul Hudson's blog
In The Beginning
Was the Word …
Now Come the
For the better part of the Christian era in Western civilization, illustrating scenes from the Bible was not a job for artists. It was the job. As late as the Renaissance, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and their wannabes spent their days illustrating ceilings and altarpieces, painting frescoes, and chiseling images of Moses, David, and Madonna and child out of every scrap of available marble. But as the church lost some of its hold on the Western imagination, artists felt free to look elsewhere for inspiration. Now and then an artist would undertake a religious theme (Chagall, Rouault), but excepting the English painter Stanley Spencer or outsider artist Howard Finster, it's hard to think of a major modern artist who's spent much time on holy ground. It's even harder to think of an artist who could significantly alter our perceptions of the events, previously illustrated or not, in the Bible. But then, who could have foreseen that R. Crumb would tackle the Book of Genesis?
The artist credited with almost singlehandedly launching the underground-comics scene in '60s San Francisco, the cartoonist who gave us the X-rated adventures of Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural, a professed atheist, a man who fantasizes about getting piggyback rides from big-legged women (and then draws and publishes these fantasies), and, last but surely most horrifying to the people whose nightmares Crumb haunts, an American who emigrates to France and likes it—this is the man a publisher has entrusted with the task of illustrating the first book of the Bible.
Unlikely as it might seem, this was trust well repaid. Without a trace of irony, and certainly no mockery, Crumb delivers a literal—one might even say traditional—rendition of the events in the Judeo-Christian account of Creation and its aftermath. Frame by frame, comic-book fashion, The Book of Genesis shows a white-bearded, patriarchal God creating the heavens and the earth and all that walk upon it. We see Adam and Eve exiled from the Garden of Eden. We observe the first murder, as Cain kills his brother, and then Noah and the Flood, the travails of Abraham—every verse of every chapter carefully rendered, right through to the story of Joseph and the Israelite migration to Egypt.
What distinguishes this version is its meticulous realism. The beginning is a little spongy—through no fault of Crumb's: there are, after all, two overlapping and not entirely synchronous Creation myths in the opening pages—but as soon as the story reaches solid ground, that is, as soon as Adam and Eve are banished from the garden, the narrative finds its footing. We see the story as we read it, and what we see are camels and grizzled, hairy-legged herdsmen, watering troughs and tents delineated right down to every flap and peg, women laboring through childbirth, bowls and stoppered jugs, dusty towns and the towering palace of the pharaoh. Abraham and his descendants move through a sun-baked, unforgiving landscape, earning their crust through the sweat of their brows, and the visual precision with which their struggles are rendered endows them with a nobility only hinted at in the text. God may not be in the details, but his chosen people surely are.
It is one thing, for example, to read that Abraham and Sarah were old and childless. It is altogether different to watch them age and to witness the sadness in their faces at the thought of childlessness. As drawn by Crumb, Abraham and his descendants are not just figures in a story. First and last, they are fully human and full of frailty. When God orders Abraham to slaughter his son, Isaac, we see a horrified—and angry?—old man and a helpless, tearful boy, and suddenly what has always been an unsettling tale becomes truly horrific. This has always been a story about faith being tested, but there is nothing abstract about Crumb's version. Instead, his realism restores the mystery at the heart of the tale: how could a man believe in something so strongly that he would kill the child he wanted more than anything else?
Even the most famously tedious passages—those genealogical lists familiarly known as "the begots"—become fascinating when Crumb supplies thumbnail sketches of every man listed, instilling a vivid sense of humanity in what is, on the page, merely a list of names. It is one more instance of the artist's ability to make us see that, however shrouded by time, these were people before they were part of an oft-told tale. This version of Genesis works so well because it is not reverential. The artist always honors the story, never dodging or minimizing the occasions when God or one of his emissaries enters the action, but by keeping everything as grittily real as possible, Crumb achieves a miracle all his own: he makes one of the world's oldest stories new again.
sábado, 24 de outubro de 2009
sexta-feira, 23 de outubro de 2009
quinta-feira, 22 de outubro de 2009
terça-feira, 20 de outubro de 2009
JOSÉ SARAMAGO : "No Catolicismo os pecados são castigados com o inferno eterno. Isto é completamente idiota!"
O fax é altamente confidencial. Foi escrito a 17 de Dezembro de 2001, um dia depois das eleições que levaram à demissão de António Guterres e consequente queda do Governo do Partido Socialista.
Keith Payne é quem escreve a carta a dois dos homens fortes do Freeport em Londres: Ric Dattani e Gary Dawson. Payne é o inglês que, em Portugal, mantém informados os dois administradores do Freeport.
No fax, a que a TVI teve acesso, Keith Payne fala da mudança política em Portugal e da preocupação de José Sócrates já não ser Ministro do Ambiente: «Os efeitos dos acontecimentos do fim-de-semana, com os revezes sofridos pelo PS, nomeadamente nas eleições autárquicas, incluindo Lisboa, e a demissão do Governo de Guterres significam que Sócrates deixou de ser Ministro do Ambiente e que vai haver um compasso de espera de quatro ou cinco meses até que for eleito um novo Governo e nomeado um novo Ministro».
Rick Datani, o receptor do fax, reenvia-o logo de seguida para Jonathan Rawnsley, um administrador acima dele na hierarquia da empresa e acrescenta ao documento anotações escritas pelo seu próprio punho.
No final da carta é explicitamente referida a existência de subornos, concretamente dois milhões de libras em luvas. À época, qualquer coisa como três milhões e duzentos mil euros.
«Jonathan, este é o fulano que me telefonou e sabe do suborno de dois milhões de libras. Sublinhei alguns pontos interessantes a partir do ponto 4. Se o Parlamento é dissolvido até às eleições, o secretário de Estado não pode aprovar nem rejeitar nada?»
Vamos, então, ver o ponto 4, para o qual Rick Datani chama a atenção do seu superior hierárquico. A frase sublinhada é esta: «Sócrates deixou de ser Ministro do Ambiente».
Para além do sublinhado no ponto 4, Rick Datani acrescenta ainda uma outra frase onde reafirma a existência de subornos. Sem acrescentos, a frase inicial era esta: «Se estamos face a uma possível rejeição (chumbo) do estudo de impacto ambiental, é pouco provável ser possível inverter uma tal decisão seja em que circunstância for, a dois dias da sua rejeição (chumbo) formal por parte do Ministro do Ambiente».
Datani acrescenta, novamente pela sua própria mão, a frase: «Antes do suborno».
O que fica, portanto, claro é que administradores do Freeport não só sabiam da existência de subornos, como estavam dispostos a pagá-los. Dois milhões de libras é o que parece estar em causa no licenciamento do outlet de Alcochete.
Este fax é um documento a que a polícia inglesa deu muita importância, a ponto de interrogar várias pessoas sobre o mesmo, mais especificamente sobre a nota de rodapé escrita à mão. Os ingleses queriam saber a quem se destinava os dois milhões de libras de subornos.
Charles Smith admitiu apenas uma anterior tentativa de suborno, não consumada, feita por um escritório de advogados. Quanto a Keith Payne, confirmou à polícia ter ouvido falar de pagamentos corruptos através de Charles Smith. A polícia inglesa não conseguiu, até ao momento, ouvir Rick Datani, o homem que escreveu precisamente a nota de rodapé e onde fala explicitamente de «bribe», ou seja, luvas ou suborno.
A TVI procurou obter uma reacção de Pedro Silva Pereira, secretário de Estado do Ordenamento do Território à altura, bem como de Rui Gonçalves, secretário de Estado do Ambiente nessa época.
Também procurou obter uma reacção de José Sócrates, à altura Ministro do Ambiente. Foram, por isso, endereçadas estas três perguntas , que não obtiveram resposta.
quarta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2009
terça-feira, 13 de outubro de 2009
By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News
Remarkable slow-motion footage has been taken of two lizards that seem to do the impossible - walk on water.
A high-definition film, shot at 2,000 frames per second, shows a brown basilisk lizard running across the surface of a pond in Belize.
More footage shows how a species of gecko is so tiny that it can walk across a puddle without breaking the water's surface tension.
These amazing feats are captured for the BBC natural history series Life.
The group of animals known as basilisk lizards commonly lives along the edge of rivers running through rainforests, eating small insects among the foliage.
Because they run so fast they create a bubble as their feet hit the water and then they push off from this bubble before it bursts
Life assistant producer Simon Blakeney
The lizards need to bask in the sun to warm up each day, which leaves them vulnerable to being caught by predators, such as large birds of prey hunting from the air, or carnivores such as cats living on the jungle floor.
So the lizards have evolved an extraordinary escape mechanism.
They drop into the water and then run across it, earning the lizards their nickname, the "Jesus" or "Jesus Christ" lizard.
Exactly how they do so is revealed by the slow-motion, high-definition footage taken at 2,000 frames per second.
"Because they run so fast they create a bubble as their feet hit the water and then they push off from this bubble before it bursts," says Simon Blakeney, a producer on the Life series who helped direct and film the footage of both reptiles.
"They can only run at that speed. If they were going any slower, for example, they wouldn't stay upright, they would slip into the water and would have to swim."
segunda-feira, 12 de outubro de 2009
Epad: «Jean Sarkozy est en 2e année de droit, c’est un élément fort...»
«Beaucoup, pour un aussi jeune homme»
Invité du Grand Jury RTL-Le Figaro-LCI, Ségolène Royal s’adresse d’abord au père pour lui faire une petite leçon de République: «La République, c’est quoi ? C’est la reconnaissance des places de chacun en fonction de ses mérites propres, pas en fonction du nom qu’il porte». Façon de dire qu’on n’est quelque peu sorti de la définition: Si Jean Sarkozy «ne portait pas le nom qu’il porte, est-ce qu’il serait à la place à laquelle il est aujourd’hui ?» L’ex-rivale de Sarkozy à la présidentielle fait aussi allusion aux «enjeux», selon elle, de cette nomination: «ça peut toujours servir avant une prochaine élection présidentielle, si vous voyez ce que je veux dire, de détenir ainsi des clefs et de brasser des milliards d’euros.» Et de faire mine de s’inquiéter pour les épaules du fils: «C’est beaucoup, beaucoup, pour un aussi jeune homme, mais peut-être fera-t-il ses preuves comme son papa l'attend de lui ?»
October 12, 2009
Antioxidants - Diabetes Connection
In a study in the journal Cell Metabolism, some mice given antioxidants were more likely to become diabetic, because free radicals help muscle cells respond to insulin. Karen Hopkin reports.
Free radicals can damage vital cell components, and our bodies produce them naturally as we metabolize food. So, it stands to reason if we eat lots and lots of food, we’ll make tons of radicals. And put ourselves at risk of becoming seriously obese, and developing diabetes. All of which is bad.
But it’s actually not that simple. You see, in addition to being potentially harmful, free radicals are also necessary for cells to communicate. In particular, they help muscle cells respond to insulin. So, mice that can’t get rid of their free radicals actually do well on a high-fat diet, and it’s only when they’re given antioxidants that they get diabetes. If all that makes your head hurt, go for a nice walk. Because exercise is still good for you.
domingo, 11 de outubro de 2009
quinta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2009
By Henry Samuel in Paris
The revelations in his 2005 autobiography “The Bad Life” have come back to haunt Mr Mitterrand after he emerged as one of the most vociferous defenders of Roman Polanski, the film director currently detained in Switzerland in connection with an outstanding conviction for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in the US in 1977.
In his book, Mr Mitterrand, the nephew of the late Socialist president François Mitterrand, wrote: “I got into the habit of paying for boys...All these rituals of the market for youths, the slave market excite me enormously.
“One could judge this abominable spectacle from a moral standpoint but it pleases me beyond the reasonable.”
Curiously, there was little outcry when the book was published in 2005. However, Mr Mitterrand’s tastes were brought to the fore on Monday by Marine Le Pen, daughter of the far-right National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, on a political chat show.
Miss Le Pen read out a passage in which Mr Mitterrand wrote: “The profusion of very attractive and immediately available young boys puts me in a state of desire that I no longer need to hinder nor hide...as I know that I will not be refused.”
Her call for his resignation has become an internet hit.
On Tuesday, the opposition Socialists joined the chorus of outrage. Benoît Hamon, the party spokesman, said: “As a minister of culture he has drawn attention to himself by defending a film maker and he has written a book where he said he took advantage of sexual tourism. To say the least, I find it shocking.”
Mr Mitterrand responded on Tuesday by saying he was “flabbergasted”.
“If the National Front drag me through the mud then it is an honour for me.
“If a leftist politician drags me through the mud then it is a humiliation for him,” he added.
Xavier Bertrand, the head of Mr Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party, defended Mr Mitterrand. “The Socialists are now on the same ground as the extreme right, it’s incredible. One is not obliged to use private life for political ends,” he said.
Mr Mitterrand, who joined the cabinet in June, was considered a great catch for Mr Sarkozy and proof of his “open” style of government; the minister comes from a grand Socialist family and is admired by many in the Left-wing cultural establishment. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the first lady, was said to have had a hand in his nomination.
Politicians from across the spectrum criticised his vitriolic attack on the arrest of Mr Polanski, a French citizen who US authorities wish to extradite over his 1977 conviction. Mr Mitterrand initially described the pursuit of the director as “callous” and “absolutely horrifying”, but then toned down his criticism.