Friday, November 28, 2008
Even Jupiter appears now to have quite large rocky core, surrounded by an also thick layer of varied ices (water, methane, etc.) This structure seems similar to that of Saturn and not really different from that of Uranus or Neptune, just that these two have a much narrower atmosphere.
These conclusions are the result of a systematic modelling by scientists of the University of California and appears to be in very tight agreement with the measures taken by the Gallileo probe.
The European Comission is initiating legal action against pharmaceutical companies because they are abusing the patent system, hindering and delaying the adoption of much cheaper generics by health care systems in EU.
I much fear this is another "Microsoft" case, where legal anti-trust action is not going anywhere. I think that those companies should be immediately nationalized and the whole patent/copyright system erased for good. Economy is for the people, not the other way around - but those whimpy little EU comissioners will never understand it. We need to turn things upside down and we need to do it now.
Yah, I am in quite an intransigent mood these days... and proud of it. Whatever the case the Capitalist system is dead, so let's bury it fast before it starts stinking.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
And certainly, after reading the news on his case, I also sympathize with him. I never liked police anyhow and the guy, who stabbed to death six cops in a Shanghai police station, claims to have done it as revenge for tortures.
Personally, I think that, if everybody would act like that, getting revenge even at the expense of one's life, there would be much less injustice in the world, as it would be just way too costly to abuse others. As Gandhi put it: opressors can only opress because of the passivity of the opressed.
So here here there go my sympathies for the brave Yang Jia, lone fighter for justice in the world, who was executed yesterday. It may appear as a lost cause but it's obvious that his rage has opened the debate on police abuse and tortures in China. It's sometimes incredible what a single brave person can do, maybe not change the world in a day but certainly give such change a big push is possible.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Greenlanders are voting today on an extended autonomy that opens the gates for full independence in the near future. The North American island, with a majority native Inuit population, has belonged to Denmark for centuries (earlier to Norway) but already abandoned EU in 1985 and is gradually heading to full sovereignity. The new statute will allow Greenland to have some greater say in the foreign policies of the largest island of the World. Another overseas Danish province, the Faeroe islands, will also be voting in expanded self-rule in 2010.
The International Comission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas decided not to take any meaningful action to preserve bluefinn tuna stocks in the Mediterranean Sea. This against the scientific advice, that called for a quota reduction and, very specially, for a catch bane in the Spring spwaning season. The approved quotas (never actually respected) are 50% above what sicentists advise and the spawning season will remain pen for tuna fishing.
Apparently EU comissioners blackmailed and bribed less well off nations using trade deals so there was no effective action and the tuna catching fleet could persist with its criminal activities impunely. Ironically, Japan (main market) and Spain (a major catcher) had called for a total closure of the fishery but it seems other countries (I don't know but I can imagine the dark hand of France, always in favor of extremely industrialized and unsustainable fishing methods, in all this mess) have more of a say in what EU does and gets other to vote for.
Greenpeace and other enviromental groups criticised the decision as "mockery of science". The East Atlantic bluefinn tuna (known as "red tuna" in Spanish for the color of its flesh, very demanded in Japan specially) is severely threatened by overfishing, specially of immature animals that are then fattened in ad-hoc fisheries and could well enter soon the list of critically endangered species if this massacre is not stopped.
As European citizen, you can imagine that I am terribly ashamed and angry about such decissions. The fishing policy of EU is nothing but a criminal act of biocide, allowing bottom-trawling and all other those hyper-industrialized practices that drive our oceanic species to extinction, not just in European waters but also around the world. I wonder if democratic controls in the EU form of government (that so far are merely testimonial) could change things because at the moment the most powerful states (France specially) have too much influence in such self-destructive policies.
Source: BBC news: EU condemned on 'tuna mockery'.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Yes, no surprise, at least not for me but the list of big corporations and also countries negotiating deals to avoid technical bankrupticy gorws and grows: as expected even before the financial crisis unfolded, Citigroup is being saved from total disaster by state intervention (and Citi is a widely known economical actor) and the something smilar is happening with an increased number of European states: not just Serbia and Ukraine but also EU members like Hungary and Latvia, which are negotiating with the FMI to avoid simple but brutal bankrupticy.
And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. Sorry to be a doomsayer but the situation is dire: the limits of Capitalist expansion are clashing with our very noses and it hurts. And in a hyper-globalized world it's virtually impossible to ride the storm in separate "national" vessels, yet there are no consistent alternative, much less global, projects to save the situation. Many people has not yet realized, has not have the time nor the vital experience to do it, how catastrophic is the current situation. Forget about the happy forecasts that claim that it will be all solved for 2010... we can be decades like that, specially if we do not adress the real issues, if we do not dare to go to the very root of the problem. We might even just go extinct.
The real problem is that Capitalism only consider valuable that which is not naturally aboundant, that which is not for free. So it tends to destroy free (not accountable) resources, such as Nature, and replace them for those that can be capitalized, accumulated, exploited. The unvaluable tropical jungle, for example, is only worth money once felled and planted with soy or palm oil, the essential ocean wildlife is only valued in the context of Capitalism when it's canned or transformed in expensve sushi. The more scarce, the better for Capital. That is the real problem.
Other aspect of the same roblem is consumerism. Again it is Capitalism "who" needs people consuming more and more, often totally useless stuff. The more people demand, the higher the benefits... for shareholders and CEOs. This creates really weird demand of enarly anything from nearly anywhere around the planet and extremely high ecological costs. The Chilean shrimps may be cheap in monetary terms... but the hidden costs go to Nature.
The Ecological limits are the external limits of Capitalism. But it also has internal limits (classical Marxist limits). This is the mainly the fact that, while Capitalism needs ever-increasing demand, it also needs ever-diminishing costs, and most of those costs are salaries. When salaries are reduced, demand suffers and therefore the benefits. As Capitalist companies do not act (could not) act together, as they always look only for their own short-sighted needs and benefits, thay are always loking for more demand and at the same time restricting it in form of lower real salaries. This is hapening right now: it's the classical structural crisis of Capital. In the past it was solved by even greater expansion, by making Nature, and often also subservient peoples, to pay the costs for it. But right now that is not viable anymore... Nature is just saying "enough!" loud and clear - and colonialism is largely over anyhow. There's nowhere else to expand on Earth and there's nowhere to go either outside Earth.
We are right now being faced with our expansion limits and have to face them. It won't be easy, specially used to the mentality of sort of perpeual "growth", at the expense of Nature and exploited peoples. We may not even make it at all (I'm not very optimistic really: you look around and see no or very few and limited projects of hope right now, a painful inertia dominates the scenary at the moment) but we can't but try.
And that try must be now something really different. A whole era is over but the new one is yet to be invented.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Maybe difficult to explain to non-Basques but the historical name of the Basque Country is Euskal Herria (same meaning, literally). In the late 18th century, the founder of the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV), Sabino Arana, a very enthusiastic and catholic man with poor knowledge of the Basque language, invented a whole array of neologisms, most of which have been discarded but a few have taken some root or even become common Basque words. One of them was the word Euzkadi (sic) that he meant to mean also Basque Country, and that has been corrected by the Academy of the Basque Language to Euskadi (Arana had the weird idea that ethnonyms Euskara and its derivate root Euskal- derived from E(g)uzki: the Sun - what is very patently wrong). Whatever the case, Euskadi (sometimes still spelled by PNV nostalgics as Euzkadi) became a common word and roughly a synonym for the much more traditional Euskal Herria, but with a more political meaning: it means more like the polity of the Basques, be it sovereign state or autonomous region, while Euskal Herria means the country, the nation as such.
In the last decades the often corrupt and always compromising policies of EAJ-PNV (the major party in the Western Basque Country but a tiny force in Navarre and the North) have lead them to concieve Euskadi as only the autonomous Basque Country (the three western provinces, the area that holds officially that name in Spain), while more consequent nationalist parties, as well as ethno-realistic internationalist forces rather prefer the concept Euskal Herria normally and the idea of the Basque Country as a totality of 7 historical lands both sides of the border. In fact it's surely the most popular concept of Basque identity, maybe because it's flexible and describes am ethno-historical reality, rather than just a political project.
Now going to the grain, the case is that the Basque Football (soccer) Selection had decided last year by widespread consensus to use the term Euskal Herria. But now the PNV has decided to impose the name Euskadi instead. Players basically have been given the choice to either accept that imposition or not to play under Basque colors (there's a match against Iran this month) but the discontent is clear.
Additionally other political forces, the Nationalist Left Bloc, Eusko Alkartasuna (social-democrat nationalists) and United Left (Spanish republican and federalists) oppose the move.
The main orchestrator of this coup has been Iñigo Urkullu (yes, he uses the Spanish spelling for his name), president of EAJ-PNV, who wrote on his blog that:
As nationalist of the PNV, Euskadi is our political project. Another thing is Euskal Herria, a socio-cultural concept of the Basque People itself. But our political project for the country - for the nation that is supposed to be represented by a selection that, in this case, is born from a Basque federation of three lands with vocation of allowing players from other lands - is Euskadi.
More clear... water: the so-called Basque "Nationalist" Party is against the Basque Country and wants to create a pseudo-nation, actually just an autonomous region within Spain with the currently autonomous Western region. They don't care about Navarre nor the North: they prefer to divide the country and this is just the last epysode of a surrendering strategy. Already in he 80s, that party broke up (that's the origin of Eusko Alkartasuna) because they pacted with the post-fascists, allowing them to rule Pamplona in exchange for support in Bilbao. Since then all the policy of the PNV has been to sow corruption (and rip the benefits) and to behave as a pathetic regionalist party that would be the shame of Arana himself.
Source: article (in Spanish) at Gara.
Friday, November 14, 2008
New skeletal finds at Gona, in northern Ethiopia, show that H. erectus females had already very wide hips, needed to deliver big brained childs. The find is dated to some 1.4 million years ago.
From left to right: top view of the pelvises of Lucy (an Austraolpithecus), the new Gona H. erectus find and modern human.
Source: BBC: Human ancestros born big brained.
Monday, November 10, 2008
These last weeks, going into months soon, I have not been paying much attention to this blog. Actually I have not been paying almost any attention to anything I used to: blogs, news, papers... I am evading myself like crazy and will probably continue for the next weeks or so.
Eventually I'll come back (sure) but right now I'm in the mood of "fuck reality!", as much as I can. And the blog is certainly something I do not have to do for survival (like paying the bills or buying food, which have obvious priority even over the best of evasions).
I really needed this reality break and I think I will still take some more time ignoring the world and the blogosphere largely too.
A good way to get to know when I'm posting again without effort (I assume that my readers are somehow interested in what I write) is to become a blog follower. Scroll down to the bottom and click in "follow this blog" link (you need a blogger account).
If someone explains me what is RSS (yah, there are so many things I do not know), I think I can also add a link of those to the blog for your convenience. [Update: already done, thanks to Buber].
Enjoy, life is short.