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dimarts, 24 d’abril de 2018

La exposición a microplásticos en peces e invertebrados acuáticos tiene pocos impactos negativos




Una síntesis de los efectos ecológicos de los microplásticos revela que: 1. La mayoría de los efectos son neutrales. 2. Los grandes efectos negativos se informan en estudios con tamaños de muestra pequeños. 3. Que tenemos un problema de sesgo de publicación 

Microplastics are present in aquatic ecosystems the world over and may influence the feeding, growth, reproduction, and survival of freshwater and marine biota; however, the extent and magnitude of potential effects of microplastics on aquatic organisms is poorly understood. In the current study, we conducted a meta-analysis of published literature to examine impacts of exposure to microplastics on consumption (and feeding), growth, reproduction, and survival of fish and aquatic invertebrates. While we did observe within-taxa negative effects for all four categories of responses, many of the effects summarized in our study were neutral, indicating that the effects of exposure to microplastics are highly variable across taxa. The most consistent effect was a reduction in consumption of natural prey when microplastics were present. For some taxa, negative effects on growth, reproduction and even survival were also evident. Organisms that serve as prey to larger predators, e.g., zooplankton, may be particularly susceptible to negative impacts of exposure to microplastic pollution, with potential for ramifications throughout the food web. Future work should focus on whether microplastics may be affecting aquatic organisms more subtly, e.g., by influencing exposure to contaminants and pathogens, or by acting at a molecular level. | SCIENCEDIRECT


dilluns, 23 d’abril de 2018

Acosan a un chico por quitar lazos amarillos en el día de Sant Jordi




Denuncia de la fiscalía a nueve profesores por humillar a hijos de guardias civiles




El ISIS declara la guerra a las elecciones iraquíes: 'Los colegios electorales y quienquiera que esté en ellos son objetivo'


El califa Abubaker al Bagdadi ha declarado la guerra a las elecciones parlamentarias en Iraq, previstas para el próximo 12 de mayo. “Los colegios electorales y quienquiera que esté en ellos son un objetivo para nosotros, así que manteneos apartados de los mismos”.




MIDDLE EAST EYE.- Islamic State said it would attack polling stations in Iraq during parliamentary election next month and that anyone who participated in the vote would be considered an infidel.

In an audio message released late on Sunday, the militant group's spokesman accused Iraq's government of being a proxy of Iran and warned that anyone who runs or votes in the 12 May election would be targeted.

"We warn you Sunnis of Iraq of these people [Shia] taking power. Polling stations, and whomever is inside them, are a target for us, so stay away from them," said Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer.

Muhajer calls on IS members to target "every pillar of security, military, economy, media" for the Iraqi government, "every rotten and apostate tribal chief", "every fighting village", plus Sunni clerics who oppose the group, and teachers

The statement comes weeks after IS affirmed loyalty to their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is believed to have survived defeats in Syria and Iraq and the loss of his self-declared "caliphate".

Muhajer called for the United States to retreat "beyond the seas", and refused to concede his group had been defeated in war.

"What victory are you claiming, America? The mujahideen are still in a position of power, glory, strength, resolve, foresight, unity - a better position than when you had left Iraq defeated years ago."

Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, declared victory in December over IS, which seized a third of Iraq in 2014, but IS has reverted to insurgency tactics.

Iraqi officials have said polling stations will be well protected.


dissabte, 21 d’abril de 2018

C's alcanza el 30% de la estimación de voto mientras el PP se hunde (19%) a tercera posición por detrás del PSOE (20,22%)


Última encuesta electoral de Simple Lógica
Toda la información, aquí



Ciudadanos se mantiene como la formación con mayor respaldo electoral con un porcentaje de voto estimado del 29,9%, lo que supone un incremento de unas décimas con respecto al mes de marzo, manteniendo la trayectoria ascendente que ya se observa desde los últimos meses del pasado año.

En el caso del PSOE se aprecia que el porcentaje de voto estimado (20,2%) se inscribe en la trayectoria descendente de sus expectativas en los últimos meses, siendo el descenso registrado con respecto al mes de marzo de algo menos de un punto.

Para el Partido Popular, en la tercera posición de los principales partidos de ámbito estatal, se registra la pérdida de un punto con respecto al mes de marzo, situándose el porcentaje de voto estimado para este partido en el 19,0%. Este dato, por otra parte, consolida también la tendencia descendente en la estimación de intención de voto que ya se observaba en los últimos meses del año pasado.

A propósito de Unidos Podemos, el porcentaje de voto estimado experimenta un leve incremento de sólo tres décimas con respecto al mes de febrero (17,6%), lo que puede suponer un indicio de que la tendencia descendente de meses anteriores se haya podido detener.


Aprobación de los líderes políticos



D. Albert Rivera sigue siendo el político para el que se registra un más alto porcentaje de aprobación al valorar su actuación política (39,1%), pero con respecto al mes de marzo ese porcentaje es ahora más de tres puntos inferior al que se registraba entonces.

A considerable distancia en la valoración se sitúa D. Alberto Garzón con una aprobación del 23,7%, pero también con un descenso de más de dos puntos con respecto a hace un mes.

En tercera posición y con porcentajes de aprobación muy similares se sitúan D. Mariano Rajoy (21,3%) y D. Pedro Sánchez (21,2%). En ambos casos el descenso de sus respectivos porcentajes con respecto al mes de marzo es superior a los tres puntos.

D. Pablo Iglesias con un porcentaje de aprobación del 16,4% sigue ocupando la última posición, aunque el descenso casi irrelevante con respecto al mes anterior haya sido de sólo medio punto.




La crisis de irreproducibilidad de la ciencia moderna




The battle against the present scourge of irreproducibility in science is not entirely new. Science has always imposed constraints on human nature in the service of truth. Empiricism, the obligation to gather data, forces scientists to submit their preconceptions to experimental proof. Rigorous precision, including the use of statistical methods, serves to check laziness and carelessness. Science’s struggle for empiricisim and precision has always been fought against the all-toohuman incentives to pursue predetermined conclusions, professional advancement—or both at once.

So the shortcomings of modern statistics-based research should not surprise us too much. Yet they have done great harm, and they undermine faith in the power and promise of science itself. We need new incentives, new institutional mechanisms, and a new awareness of all the ways in which science can go wrong.

The challenges daunt, but they should also exhilarate. We sometimes hear that professionals have thoroughly institutionalized science, and that its increasing sophistication means that it has become the province of credentialed technicians. The crisis of reproducibility shows that this is not so. The pursuit of scientific truth requires the public to scrutinize and critique the activity of scientific professionals, and to join with them to reform the practice of modern science.



Vía NAS






divendres, 20 d’abril de 2018

Lo que hace ETA en su comunicado es perdonarse a sí misma




De las dos cosas que ETA podía decir en su comunicado -que nunca debieron asesinar a inocentes o que la muerte de los mismos era inevitable- han optado por la segunda. Por la equivocada. La que no sirve. Porque ¿de qué va a servir que pidan perdón y digan que lo 'sienten de veras' si se consideran a sí mismos irresponsables de sus crímenes? ¿De que sirven sus excusas si a renglón seguido los justifican afirmando que los cometieron "obligados por las necesidades de todo tipo de la lucha armada"? Atención al participio. Obligados. No podían hacer otra cosa. Los pobrecillos estaban determinados por la historia. Por el bombardeo de Guernika.

Vergonzoso y humillante.

La oposición democrática a la dictadura franquista también vivió los horrores de la guerra civil, de la represión, de la tortura y de las condenas injustas. Pero no por ello decidió enfrentarse a la dictadura con las armas, los atentados o el tiro en la nuca. No existe el determinismo histórico, aunque a veces la historia pese como una losa de plomo. Nada nos obliga a elegir el camino equivocado, aunque a veces sea difícil distinguirlo. La oposición democrática renunció a usar las armas para luchar contra la dictadura porque de haberlo hecho se habría descalificado a sí misma y a sus valores. El primero de los cuales que el fin nunca justifica los medios.

Al pedir perdón, ETA lo que pretende es exhibir una supuesta superioridad moral desde la que exigir a sus víctimas que se equiparen a sus verdugos. No se engañen. Lo que hace ETA en su comunicado es solo perdonarse a sí misma.


Texto íntegro del comunicado de ETA pidiendo perdón



"ETA, organización socialista revolucionaria vasca de liberación nacional, quiere reconocer mediante esta declaración el daño que ha causado en el transcurso de su trayectoria armada, así como mostrar su compromiso con la superación definitiva de las consecuencias del conflicto y con la no repetición.

En estas décadas se ha padecido mucho en nuestro pueblo: muertos, heridos, torturados, secuestrados o personas que se han visto obligadas a huir al extranjero. Un sufrimiento desmedido. ETA reconoce la responsabilidad directa que ha adquirido en ese dolor, y desea manifestar que nada de todo ello debió producirse jamás o que no debió prolongarse tanto en el tiempo, pues hace ya mucho que este conflicto político e histórico debía contar con una solución democrática justa. De hecho, el sufrimiento imperaba antes de que naciera ETA, y ha continuado después de que ETA haya abandonado la lucha armada. Las generaciones posteriores al bombardeo de Gernika heredamos aquella violencia y aquel lamento, y nos corresponde a nosotros y nosotras que las generaciones venideras recojan otro futuro.

Somos conscientes de que en este largo periodo de lucha armada hemos provocado mucho dolor, incluidos muchos daños que no tienen solución. Queremos mostrar respeto a los muertos, los heridos y las víctimas que han causado las acciones de ETA, en la medida que han resultado damnificados por el conflicto. Lo sentimos de veras.

A consecuencia de errores o de decisiones erróneas, ETA ha provocado también víctimas que no tenían una participación directa en el conflicto, tanto en Euskal Herria como fuera de ella. Sabemos que, obligados por las necesidades de todo tipo de la lucha armada, nuestra actuación ha perjudicado a ciudadanos y ciudadanas sin responsabilidad alguna. También hemos provocado graves daños que no tienen vuelta atrás. A estas personas y a sus familiares les pedimos perdón. Estas palabras no solucionarán lo sucedido, ni mitigarán tanto dolor. Lo decimos con respeto, sin querer provocar de nuevo aflicción alguna.

Entendemos que muchos consideren y expresen que nuestra actuación ha sido inaceptable e injusta, y lo respetamos, pues a nadie se le puede forzar a decir lo que no piensa o siente. Para otros muchos también han sido totalmente injustas, pese a utilizar el disfraz de la ley, las acciones de las fuerzas del Estado y de las fuerzas autonomistas que han actuado conjuntamente, y tampoco esos ciudadanos y ciudadanas merecen ser humillados. De lo contrario, deberíamos interpretar que ha existido un daño justo que merece aplauso. ETA, en cambio, tiene otra posición: ojalá nada de eso hubiese ocurrido, ojalá la libertad y la paz hubiesen echado raíces en Euskal Herria hace mucho tiempo.

Nadie puede cambiar el pasado, pero una de las cosas más perjudiciales que se podría hacer ahora sería intentar desfigurarlo o ocultar determinados episodios. Reconozcamos todos la responsabilidad contraída y el daño causado. Pese a no tener ni el mismo punto de vista ni los mismos sentimientos, todos deberíamos reconocer, con respeto, el sufrimiento padecido por los demás. Eso es lo que quiere expresar ETA.

Precisamente de cara al futuro, la reconciliación es una de las tareas a llevar a cabo en Euskal Herria, algo que en su medida se está produciendo con honestidad entre la ciudadanía. Es un ejercicio necesario para conocer la verdad de modo constructivo, cerrar heridas y construir garantías para que ese sufrimiento no vuelva a suceder. Dando una solución democrática al conflicto político se podrá construir la paz y lograr la libertad en Euskal Herria. Para apagar definitivamente las llamas de Gernika.

Euskal Herria, 8 de abril de 2018"




Las 15 páginas filtradas de las notas del ex director del FBI James Comey sobre Trump: chismosas e irrelevantes




WASHINGTON (AP) — In a series of startlingly candid conversations, President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment of a top adviser, asked about the possibility of jailing journalists and described a boast from Vladimir Putin about Russian prostitutes, according to Comey’s notes of the talks obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday night.

The 15 pages of documents contain new details about a series of interactions with Trump that Comey found so unnerving that he chose to document them in writing. Those seven encounters in the weeks and months before Comey’s May 2017 firing include a Trump Tower discussion about allegations involving Trump and prostitutes in Moscow; a White House dinner at which Comey says Trump asked him for his loyalty; and a private Oval Office discussion where the ex-FBI head says the president asked him to end an investigation into Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser.

The documents had been eagerly anticipated since their existence was first revealed last year, especially since Comey’s interactions with Trump are a critical part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice. Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted that the memos “show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION.”

The president also accused Comey of leaking classified information. The memos obtained by the AP were unclassified, though some portions were blacked out as classified. Details from Comey’s memos reported in news stories last year appear to come from the unclassified portions.

In explaining the purpose of creating the memos, which have been provided to Mueller, Comey has said he “knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened” to defend not only himself but the FBI as well.

The memos cover the first three months of the Trump administration, a period of upheaval marked by staff turnover, a cascade of damaging headlines and revelations of an FBI investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The documents reflect Trump’s uneasiness about that investigation, though not always in ways that Comey seemed to anticipate.
Leer notícia completa, aquí






La agricultura orgánica consume mucha más tierra al ser menos eficiente




En cualquier escenario, la eliminación de fertilizantes sintéticos requeriría una expansión masiva de las tierras de cultivo. Incluso con los escenarios más optimistas para mejorar la fijación de nitrógeno y el reciclaje de nutrientes, las tierras de cultivo necesitarían ampliarse radicalmente para reemplazar por completo a los fertilizantes sintéticos. Estas mejoras podrían proporcionar no más del 90% del nitrógeno actualmente proporcionado a los cultivos. 47 Suponiendo una caída proporcional de la producción, se necesitaría al menos un 12% más de tierras de cultivo (casi 500 millones de acres) para mantener la producción. 48

Además, debido a la brecha de rendimiento de la agricultura orgánica, se necesitaría un adicional de 25 a 33% más de tierra. 49 Pero para compensar tanto la brecha de rendimiento como la huella de sombra, necesitaríamos al menos una cantidad adicional de tierra del tamaño de Australia, entre 40% y 100% más de tierra agrícola que la cantidad que usamos hoy. 50

Los costos ambientales completos de tal expansión son difíciles de comprender. Los bosques serían registrados. Hábitats perdidos. Carbono liberado de los árboles y el suelo. Ciertamente podemos objetar el tamaño exacto de la huella de sombra y cómo calcularla. Quizás la brecha de rendimiento está más cerca del 15%, tal vez el 25%. Tal vez el 15% de la tierra es adecuada para cultivos de fertilizantes, tal vez el 5%. Pero la conclusión fundamental sigue siendo: un sistema alimentario sin fertilizantes significaría convertir una enorme cantidad de tierra en agricultura: al menos mil millones de acres.

Y esta es una estimación de límite inferior. Al usar suposiciones de rango medio, parece más probable que se necesiten cerca de 3 o 4 mil millones de acres de tierras de cultivo adicionales para satisfacer la demanda actual de alimentos sin fertilizantes sintéticos. 51 Dadas las numerosas barreras económicas, técnicas y biológicas, la cantidad de nitrógeno no sintético que el mundo podría generar de manera realista es probablemente mucho menor.
Leer el artículo completo, aquí (en inglés)


dijous, 19 d’abril de 2018

La promiscuidad se está volviendo más común para las mujeres, pero menos común para los hombres




Multivariate analysis reveals that the happiness gap between Promiscuous America and their less sexually adventurous peers can be partly explained by marital status. Recall that promiscuous survey respondents are less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced. Regular readers of this blog are well aware of the fact that marriage and happiness are correlated, and this association might account for why some promiscuous adults are less happy. But there are likely other reasons, some of which might be anterior to both unhappiness and promiscuity. For instance, childhood sexual abuse increases the later-life chances of both promiscuity and unhappiness. In other words, there is no way of knowing if promiscuity is directly causing people to be unhappy.

The happiness story changes when promiscuous Americans get married. These respondents are not more or less happy in their relationships than their non-promiscuous peers. Some may have relegated their infidelities to their first marriages. A small number may be in polyamorous or other forms of open relationships, although it’s impossible to know with these data.

Contrary to public perception, typical sexual behavior hasn’t changed much in recent decades. But there will always be outliers, Americans who have a multitude of sex partners. This behavior is becoming more common for women, but less common for men. Perhaps these women are experiencing the last stages of the Sexual Revolution, stages that came earlier to men. It’s evidence for this proposition that there is no male equivalent to the term “slut shaming.”

Promiscuous America is urban, secular, and politically progressive, as well as smart and well educated. On average, educated people with high IQs are more likely to get married and stay married. But averages don’t reveal human behavior at the margins, and a narrow sliver of intelligent and highly-educated Americans are departing from sexual norms. The reasons why are among the most intriguing questions raised by this research brief. The answers require in-depth interviews and psychometric data.

The appeal of promiscuity is the excitement of diverse sexual experiences. Some people may be more suited to sexual sybaritism than monogamy. For others, the downside is less happiness over the long haul, and for these people, promiscuity may be more a reaction than a conscious choice. | INSTITUTE FOR FAMILY STUDIES
Leer el artículo completo, aquí




Cuatro preguntas sobre el cambio climático




Garth Partridge

An essay on the state of climate change science.

(1) Is the science of climate change ‘settled’?

The scientific uncertainties associated with climate prediction are the basis of most of the arguments about the significance of climate change(25), and as well are the basis of much of the polarized public opinion on the political aspects of the matter. Perhaps the most fundamental of the uncertainties can be illustrated by reference to a simple ‘thought experiment’ as follows.

Imagine a plume of smoke rising from a cigarette into some sort of flue. The stream of smoke is smooth enough for a start, but suddenly breaks into random turbulent eddies whose behaviour is inherently unpredictable.

We can in principle make closely spaced measurements all over the turbulent plume at some particular initial time, and then at regular steps forward in time into the future. We can in principle predict things into the future with a numerical model which uses the initial measurements as a starting point and then makes predictions of the conditions at the end of each time step at all of the so-called ‘grid points’ corresponding to the positions of the measurements.

After the first time step, the model uses as its starting point the conditions predicted for the end of the previous step. The predictions may match the observations for a while, but very soon random fluctuations smaller than the distance between the measurements (they are called ‘sub-grid-scale eddies’ in the vernacular of numerical modellers) grow in size and — as far as the model is concerned — appear out of nowhere and swamp the eddies we thought we knew something about. While we can probably say that the overall column of smoke will continue to rise, we can make that rather limited statement only because the eddies are restricted or ‘contained’ by a boundary (the flue), and cannot grow to a size any bigger than the limit set by the boundary.

Predicting the actual value of the average rate of rise of the overall plume is still difficult. Depending on the shape of the flue, it may require the use of one or more ‘tuneable parameters’ in the forecasting process. A tuneable parameter is a piece of input information whose actual value is chosen on no basis other than to ensure that theoretical simulation matches observation. Normally it would be used to define something about the average state of the turbulent medium between the grid points of the forecasting model.

The climate system is much like the smoke but is vastly more complicated. The atmosphere and the ocean are two interacting turbulent media with turbulent processes going on inside them, and there are all sorts and shapes of physical boundary (of the ocean in particular) that ‘contain’ the eddies in a way that may or may not allow prediction of average conditions over areas less than the size of the earth. In principle at least we may be able to make a reasonable forecast of such things as the future global-average temperature and global-average rainfall by using a numerical model and a number of tuneable parameters obtained from observations of present conditions. (The ‘in principle’ here is based on the fact that the overall size of the earth sets an upper limit on the scale of possible eddies). Forecasting smaller-scale averages becomes more and more problematic as the scale decreases. As a first guess based on the smoke plume analogy, one might be able to forecast averages over areas the size of ocean basins (imagine them as ‘containers’ limiting the maximum possible eddy size) but one cannot really expect to make skilful prediction for areas much smaller than that.

This qualitative conclusion is borne out by the 100-year forecasts of global and regional rainfall produced by the various numerical climate models from around the world(1). While the predicted global averages are reasonably consistent (not necessarily correct, but at least to some degree consistent with each other), the predictions for continental Australia for instance, where the overall average of measured rainfall is currently about 450 mm per year, range from less than 200 mm per year to greater than 1000 mm per year. From which it would seem that long-term predictions of regional rainfall are probably little better than guesswork.

The World Meteorological Organization of the United Nations took its first steps towards establishing the World Climate Program in the early nineteen-seventies. Among other things it held an international workshop in Stockholm to define the main scientific problems to be solved before reliable climate forecasting could be possible(2). The workshop defined quite a number, but focused on the two that it regarded as the most important and fundamental.

The first concerned an inability to simulate the amount and character of clouds in the atmosphere. Clouds are important because they govern the balance between solar heating and infrared cooling of the planet, and thereby are a major control of Earth’s temperature. The second concerned an inability to forecast the behaviour of oceans. Oceans are important because they are the main reservoirs of heat in the climate system. They have internal, more-or-less random, fluctuations on all sorts of time-scales ranging from years through to centuries. These fluctuations cause changes in ocean surface temperature that in turn affect Earth’s overall climate.

Many of the problems of simulating the behaviour of clouds and oceans are still there (along with lots of other problems of lesser moment) and for many of the same reasons as were appreciated at the time(26,27). Perhaps the most significant is that climate models do their calculations at each point of an imaginary grid of points spread evenly around the world at various heights in the atmosphere and depths in the ocean. The calculations are done every hour or so of model time as the model steps forward into its theoretical future. Problems arise because practical constraints on the size of computers ensure that the horizontal distance between model grid-points may be as much as a degree or two of latitude or longitude — that is to say, a distance of many tens of kilometres.

That sort of distance is much larger than the size of a typical piece of cloud. As a consequence, simulation of clouds requires a fair amount of inspired guesswork (for which read ‘parameterization’ as mentioned above with regard to the smoke plume analogy) as to what might be a suitable average of whatever is going on between the grid-points of the model. Even if experimental observations suggest that the models get the averages roughly right for a short-term forecast, there is no guarantee they will get them right for atmospheric conditions several decades into the future. Among other reasons, small errors in the numerical modelling of complex processes have a nasty habit of accumulating with time.

Apropos of which, NCAR/UCAR has recently assembled a data base of 30 individual simulations of North American climate for the period 1963 to 2012 using what is known as the Community Earth System Model. Each simulation was subject to an identical scenario of historical ‘radiative forcing’ (effectively an identical scenario of atmospheric carbon dioxide increase over the period) but each was started from a very slightly different atmospheric state — that is, with an almost infinitesimal difference in the initial value of global temperature. According to the NCAR/UCAR press release on the subject, the variations in warming and cooling in the 30 simulations illustrate the far-reaching effects of natural variability superimposed on human-induced climate change. The work was discussed(3) by Dr Kip Hansen, who made the point that the results illustrate well the original finding by Edward Lorenz in the 1960s using a weather model on an early computer : “Two states differing by imperceptible amounts may eventually evolve into two considerably different states.……….if, then, there is any error whatever in observing the present state……..an acceptable prediction of an instantaneous state in the distant future may well be impossible……….(the possibility of) precise very-long-range forecasting would seem to be non-existent”.

Again because of the grid-point business, oceanic fluctuations and turbulent eddies smaller than the distance between the grid-points of a model are unknown to that model. This would not be a problem except for the point made earlier that eddies in turbulent fluids can grow larger and larger. A small random eddy in the real ocean can grow and appear out of nowhere as far as a forecasting model is concerned, and make something of a dog’s breakfast of the forecast from that time on.

All of the above is background to one of the great mysteries of the climate change issue. Virtually all the scientists directly involved in climate prediction are aware of the enormous problems and uncertainties still associated with their product. It is therefore difficult to see how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) can maintain there is a 95 per cent probability that human emissions of carbon dioxide have caused most of the global warming that has occurred over the last several decades(4).

Bear in mind that the representation of clouds in climate models (and of the water vapour which is intimately involved with cloud formation) is such as to amplify the forecast global warming from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide — on average over most of the models — by a factor of about three(5). In other words, two-thirds of the forecast rise in global average temperature derives from this particular model characteristic. Despite what the models are telling us — and perhaps because it is models that are telling us — very few scientists close to the problem, when asked the specific question, would say that they are 95 per cent sure that the effect of clouds is to amplify rather than to reduce the warming effect of increasing carbon dioxide. If they are not sure that clouds amplify global warming, they cannot be sure that most of that warming is a result of increasing carbon dioxide. (Climate scientists talk in terms of ‘feedback’. Positive feedbacks amplify the warming effect, and negative feedbacks reduce it. The various climate models have cloud feedbacks ranging from slightly negative to significantly positive(5), and there is no guarantee that cloud feedback in the real world lies within even that quite large range.)

Bear in mind too that very few scientists close to the problem, when asked the specific question, would say there is only a very small possibility (for example, less than 5 per cent) that internal ocean behaviour could be a major cause of the warming over the past half-century(27). They would be particularly careful not to make such a statement now that there has been only a small global warming over the most recent twenty-or-so years. In the scurry to find reasons for this ‘pause’ (it was first acknowledged as a problem in 2009 or thereabouts(33)), and to find reasons for an obvious failure of the models to predict it, about three or four years ago we began to hear from scientists that (among other theories(6, 7)) perhaps the heat of global warming was being hidden in the deep ocean. In other words we were being told that some natural internal oceanic fluctuation may have reduced the upward trend in global temperature. It is therefore a little strange that we were not being told by the IPCC, or at any rate we were not being told very loudly, that some natural internal fluctuation of the ocean (rather than warming by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide) may have given rise to much of the earlier upward trend of temperature.

In 2015, a group of scientists within NOAA re-examined the world’s long-term measured surface temperature data and found reasons to adjust (to correct?) the data in such a way as to remove the so-called ‘pause’ from the observational record(8). There has been much argument about the validity of the adjustments(9). It has given a considerable impetus to the suggestion that cherry picking of data may be a problem in climate change science.

In light of all this, we have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem — or, what is much the same thing, of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem. If true, it is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it would risk destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty that is the basis of society’s respect for scientific endeavour. It would seem sensible for the climate-science community to back away from any tacit support for the proposition that ‘the science is settled’.

(2) What is the effect on climate science of public advocacy for the message of disastrous anthropogenic global warming (AGW)?

The part of the scientific community that has an interest in climate change is highly polarized on the matter.

On one hand there are those within what might be called the climate research establishment. They control or reap the benefit of the vast amount of money that has poured into climate research over the past two or three decades. They are funded almost entirely by government, and they support — at least in public — the thesis of disastrous anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Some of them have become fierce advocates for the proposition that society must drastically limit its use of fossil fuels so as to limit emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

On the other hand there are the ‘climate sceptics’ who for one reason or another are doubtful that global warming will be a serious problem for the future. Mainly they are from other disciplines related in some way or other to climate science, or from the various ranks of interested amateur scientists(29). However they include also a fair number of independent climate scientists — ‘independent’ here usually (but certainly not always) implying that they are retired. Most climate sceptics do not dispute the actual existence of human-induced global warming. They do suggest that it may be so small as to be insignificant; that if it is significant then it may well be a net benefit to society; or that if it is not a net benefit then the natural processes of human adaption will probably take care of the matter. They are greatly outnumbered by those in the climate establishment, particularly if one considers only those who have actually published their findings and opinions in mainstream media(28).

The problem for the scientific community as a whole is that this polarization, despite its imbalance towards the establishment, is seriously threatening the public’s perception of the professionalism of scientists in general.

Setting aside the issue of who is right in the debate, some of the more vocal of the establishment climate researchers have fallen into a mode of open denigration of climate sceptics (‘deniers’ is the offensive popular terminology of the day). They insist that only researchers directly within the climate-change community are capable of giving authoritative advice. They insist that one can find true and reputable science only in peer-reviewed climate literature(10,11,33). But most significantly, they seem to have evolved a policy of deliberately excluding sceptics from climate-change forums of one sort or another, and indeed of refusing to take part in any forum where sceptics may share the podium.

The situation is reminiscent in many ways of medieval religion. The priests of that time opposed translation of the written scriptures from Latin into the local languages. They believed that only people fully trained in the theology of the time were capable of interpreting the scriptures correctly. They believed it would be highly dangerous to allow non-trained people to have direct access to the word of God because the chances were high that they would get it wrong. They were not backward in applying their peculiarly nasty forms of denigration on those who thought otherwise about the matter.

The equivalent modern denigration includes quite deliberate and serious calls for the jailing of climate sceptics who dare to question the truths of AGW(12,13). Despite the strength of the position of medieval priests, they ultimately lost both the battle and much of their public support. The modern equivalent with regard to AGW is that, despite the claim that 95% or more of climate scientists support the AGW establishment position, support for the position among the general public (of the western nations anyway) is only of the order of 50%(14). The reputation of climate science, and as a consequence the reputation of science in general, seems to have lost a good deal of its public gloss.

Since the climate establishment is the most organized and sophisticated of the polarized sides in the debate — it has by an enormous margin the lion’s share of research resources — then it is reasonable to expect the climate establishment would try to organize some sort of bridging of the gap between the sides. In many ways it has much to gain. For instance, it is perhaps more of a rule than an exception that really new ideas in any particular area of research come from outside that area, and many sceptics come from other disciplines. For instance again, some weblog sceptics have access to a quite remarkable store of unpaid and enthusiastic scientific labor. Even within the climate establishment, there are undoubtedly many researchers who worry that their scientific endeavours are guided more by political requirements than by scientific necessity.

(3) What are the barriers to public dissemination of results casting doubt on the theory of disastrous anthropogenic global warming (AGW)?

Scientists — most scientists anyway — may be a bit naïve, but they are not generally wicked, idiotic, or easily suborned either by money or by the politically correct. So whatever might be the enjoyment factor associated with supporting officially accepted wisdom, and whatever might be the constraints applied by the scientific powers-that-be, it is still surprising that the latest IPCC report has been tabled with almost no murmur of discontent from the lower levels of the research establishment. What has happened to the scepticism that is supposedly the lifeblood of scientific enquiry?

The answer probably gets back to the uncertainty of it all. The chances of proving — ‘proving’ in the hard scientific sense of requiring both observational support and replication — that the projected change of climate over the next century will be large enough to be disastrous are virtually nil. The same uncertainty ensures that the chances of a climate sceptic, or anyone else for that matter, proving the disaster theory to be oversold are also virtually nil. To that extent there is a level playing field for the two sides of the argument. The problem is that climate research necessarily involves enormous resources, and is an activity for institutions and organizations. Scepticism is an occupation for individuals. Things being as they are in the climate change arena, scepticism by an individual within the system can be fairly career limiting (see later in this section). In any event, most individual scientists have a conscience, and are reluctant to put their head above the public parapet in order to propound a view of things that is highly uncertain and may indeed be inherently unprovable.

There is a broader context to this issue of uncertainty.

To the extent that there is such a thing as normal science, it relies upon accurate observations to verify its theories. Climate research has to rely on spectacularly inaccurate data for information on Earth’s climate of more than a century or two ago. That is, it has to rely on proxy information from tree rings and ice cores and corals and so on, and abstracting a coherent story from it all is something of a statistical nightmare. Even for the most recent century, the huge data sets of directly measured surface temperatures have their problems, and the stories that these data tell are revised in one way or another as new ideas about the correct method of analyzing the data appear on the scene. Such revisions make for tremendous arguments and competing claims about whether cherry picking of data has been used to support the predictions of the AGW theoretical models(15,16).

Climate science is an example of what Canadian educator Sue McGregor calls ‘post-normal science’ in which “the facts are uncertain, values are in dispute, stakes are high and decisions are urgent”. In such circumstances it is virtually impossible to avoid sub-conscious cherry picking of data to suit the popular theory of the time. Even Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were not immune from the problem(17). In their case they were of sufficient genius (and were sufficiently lucky!) for their theories ultimately to trump the inaccuracy of the observations they had selected. Other scientists are rarely so prescient or so lucky. In the modern era of concern about climate, the problem is compounded by the existence of the vastly complex computer forecasting models that can be tuned, again more-or-less subconsciously, to yield a desired result. From theory to observation and back again — if we are not very careful, the cherry picking can go round and round in an endless misleading loop.

But the real worry with climate research is that it is on the very edge of what is called post-modern (as opposed to post-normal) science. Post-modern science is a counterpart of the relativist world of post-modern art and design. It is a much more dangerous beast where results are valid only in the context of society’s beliefs, and where the very existence of scientific truth can be denied(18). Post-modern science envisages a sort of political nirvana in which scientific theory and results can be consciously and legitimately manipulated to suit either the dictates of political correctness or the policies of the government of the day.

At a more mundane level, there is little doubt that some players in the climate research establishment — not a lot, but enough to have severely damaged the reputation of climate scientists in general — have stepped across the boundary of what is generally regarded as acceptable scientific behaviour. The Climategate scandal(19) of 2009 for instance, wherein thousands of e-mails were leaked (or perhaps hacked) from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, revealed quite a number of such cases. Formal enquiries of one sort or another subsequently cleared the scientists involved of any legal misdemeanours(34). However the emails(33) showed that some senior members of the climate research community were, for example, quite happy to discuss ways and means of controlling the research journals so as to deny publication of any material that went against the establishment view of things. The ways and means included the removal of recalcitrant editors who allowed such publication.

For whatever reason, it is indeed vastly more difficult to publish results in climate research journals if they run against the tide of politically correct opinion. Which is why most of the sceptic literature on the subject has been forced onto the web, and particularly onto web-logs devoted to the sceptic view of things. Which in turn is probably why many of the most vocal believers in disastrous anthropogenic global warming subscribe to the view that only peer-reviewed literature should be accepted as an indication of the real state of affairs(10). They argue that the sceptic web-logs should never be taken seriously by ‘real’ scientists, and certainly should never be quoted.

This is a pity. Some of the sceptics are extremely productive as far as critical analysis of climate science is concerned. Names like Judith Curry (Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology), Steve McIntyre (a Canadian geologist-statistician) and blogger Willis Eschenbach come to mind. These three in particular provide a balance and maturity in public discussion that puts many players in the global warming movement to shame, and as a consequence their out-reach to the scientifically-inclined general public is highly effective. Their output, together with that of other sceptics on the web, is well on the way to becoming a practical and stringent substitute for peer review.

Before his retirement Professor Lennart Bengtsson was the director of the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasting, a large numerical modelling facility based in the UK which is perhaps the world’s premier institution concerned with global meteorological forecasts up to one year ahead. Modelling on this time scale involves much the same techniques as in the longer-term climate forecasting. In 2014, only three weeks after his appointment as a member of the Advisory Board to the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), he was forced to resign(20). The GWPF is a significant organization known for its support of sceptical views concerning climate change. The reasons for his resignation are clear from the following abstracts from his resignation letter to the GWPF. “I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that it has become almost unbearable to me. If this is to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety……….I had not expected such an enormous world wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc………It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy.”

In 2015 the University of Western Australia (UWA) entered into a contract with Dr Bjorn Lomborg for the formation of the Australia Consensus Centre, a policy ‘think tank’ similar in principle to one set up by Dr Lomborg in Copenhagen. The Australian federal government committed $4 million to the proposed new Centre. It seems that Dr Lomborg in the past had attracted controversy for suggesting that the dangers of climate change are overstated, and that modern society faces other more pressing challenges such as global poverty. As a consequence, an enormous negative reaction emerged very publically from the academic staff within the UWA (and indeed from the staff of other Australian Universities) — so much so that the University Vice Chancellor was forced to cancel the contract and return the $4 million to the government(21). Subsequently other Australian universities were approached to host the Centre, but none of them could be persuaded to take the political risk of upsetting a vocal coterie of their own staff.

Research scientists these days are fully aware that the ‘publish or perish’ mantra is the dominant, and indeed almost the only, factor determining promotion in the profession — particularly in the early years of a scientific career. And climate research scientists are fully aware that it is difficult to publish results that do not support the thesis of disastrous AGW. Certainly it is extremely difficult to publish them in the more widely quoted journals favoured by (and some would say, controlled by) the climate-change establishment. The pressure to publish innocuous rather than controversial results is enormous. Risk aversion in the face of such pressure is even more of an issue at the present time now that multiple authorship of research papers has become the norm rather than the exception.

There are many examples where the transition from paid employment in climate research to retirement has been accompanied by a significant change of heart away from acknowledging the seriousness of global warming. It seems that scientists too are conscious of the need to eat, and like everyone else must consider the consequences of public dissent from the views of the powers-that-be. One example was Dr Brian Tucker. He was the Director of the Australian Numerical Meteorology Research Centre, and subsequently became Chief of the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research. He was heavily involved in the development of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. During his time with CSIRO he was quite naturally the ‘go to’ man for journalists and radio programmers seeking stories on matters to do with climate change. On retirement he became a writer and speaker for the Institute of Public Affairs, and greatly surprised his former colleagues with his very public change to an openly sceptical view on the subject.

Once upon a time we were led to believe that the road to fame and fortune within science was to produce new ideas that challenged accepted belief. Preferably, those new ideas would lead to tangible benefits for society. But irrespective of the benefit side of things, the practical basis of all research was to be openly sceptical about everything — particularly about one’s own theories, and particularly about any new theory that had some vague connection to politically correct ideas of the day. Conscious, deliberate and obvious scepticism was regarded as essential to maintaining some sort of immunity from the human failing of seeing what one wants to see rather than what is real. Good scientific practice demanded at the very least that one should present the evidence against a new theory at the same time as the evidence for it.

It seems that in those parts of science that bear upon the politically correct, sceptics are frowned upon, given nasty names, and ultimately can have their reputations burned at the stake. Certainly in the field of climate change, one could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that “advocacy for the cause” trumps the need for scepticism on any day of the week(22). This is no small problem in the grand scheme of things, because the whole issue of climate change has lots to be sceptical about.

(4) What are the implications for climate science of public acceptance of the idea that there is a ‘consensus among scientists’ on anthropogenic global warming (AGW)?

A statement to the effect that there is a ‘consensus among scientists’ on AGW is more-or-less equivalent to saying that ‘the science is settled’. While there is certainly a consensus among scientists that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase the average surface temperature of the world above what it would have been otherwise, there is far from a consensus that the rise in temperature will be large enough to be significant. (Bear in mind also that “what the temperature would have been otherwise” is also subject to natural variability and is therefore very uncertain). There is even less of a consensus among scientists, environmentalists and economists that any rise of temperature would necessarily be detrimental.

Thus both phrases are highly misleading if they are taken at face value without caveats. It is perhaps no accident that they are most often quoted in the context of outright advocacy for the idea of disastrous anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

In any event, if politicians and the general public are finally persuaded to the view that scientists are certain about the on-set of disastrous AGW, it is almost certain that climate research will suffer badly.

A prime example was the decision by CSIRO in Australia earlier this year (2016) to reduce its current very extensive climate research activity so as to focus more on research relevant to industry. The decision was formally justified on the basis of the ‘science is settled’ argument(30), and as a consequence the international climate establishment reacted savagely(31). Within days of the CSIRO decision, thousands of protesting letters were sent to the Chairman of CSIRO from all over the globe. It was an interesting exercise from an outsider’s point of view. It was perhaps the very first time that the climate science community itself actively protested loudly in public that the science of AGW is very far from settled(32). Up to that time, it had let the activists within the environmental movement and within the general public run free with the settled science proposition.

It should be emphasized that solving (the solvable) problems of climate prediction (or, just as important, making a realistic assessment of the ultimate limits to climate prediction set by the inherent uncertainties within the system) requires the deployment and long-term maintenance of massively expensive observational satellite and oceanographic programs. ‘Long term’, since we are concerned here with climate time scales, means many decades.

It is doubtful if the maintenance of such programs will continue in a political environment where it is believed that the science is settled. Already there are signs that major oceanographic research efforts — such as NOAA’s Tropical Ocean Atmosphere Array (TOAA) for instance — are being downgraded in priority because of maintenance costs(23). TOAA involves the use of large numbers of specially instrumented ocean buoys, satellite observations and so on, and is concerned with attempts to predict the onset of El Nino and La Nina events in the Pacific ocean. These events are perhaps the most obvious examples (to date anyway) of semi-regular natural oceanic fluctuations that can produce significant medium-term changes in global temperature. TOAA is also relevant to reducing the large errors associated with numerical calculation in climate models of the transfer of heat and moisture between ocean and atmosphere.

It is conceivable in circumstances of reduced funding that overall climate research will revert to a situation where the focus is entirely on the easy option of developing more and bigger numerical models. This would be a sterile activity indeed without the input of experimental observation to guide the development of theoretical prediction methods and to keep the relevant numerical models ‘honest’. It would fall foul of a fundamental tenet of scientific endeavour — namely, that a theory without experimental support is little better than guesswork(24). It could stop climate research dead.

Maintenance of their funding and livelihood requires climate scientists to tread a fine line between emphasizing the uncertainties in climate science and selling the idea of disastrous anthropogenic global warming.



References (1) Lim W.H. and Michael L. Roderick, 2009: An Atlas of the Global Water Cycle, ANU E Press, Australian National University, 293pp. Downloadable at: http://press.anu.edu.au/publications/atlas-global-water-cycle

(2) JOC,1975: The Physical Basis of Climate and Climate Modelling, GARP Publication Series 16, Secretariat of the WMO, Geneva, 265pp

(3) https://judithcurry.com/2016/10/05/lorenz-validated/#more-22215

(4) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/sep/27/global-warming-ipcc-report-humans

(5) http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI3819.1

(6) https://fabiusmaximus.com/2014/01/17/climate-change-global-warming-62141/

(7) https://judithcurry.com/2014/01/20/the-case-of-the-missing-heat/

(8) http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2015/06/03/science.aaa5632

(9) https://judithcurry.com/2015/11/05/jc-op-ed-the-politics-surrounding-global-temperature-data/

(10) https://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science/understanding-climate-change/finding-reliable-information

(11) http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2016/10/PeerReview.pdf

(12) http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/03/10/us-attorney-general-we-may-prosecute-climate-change-deniers/

(13) http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/04/12/dem-ags-mounting-big-tobacco-style-probe-oil-companies-industry-fights-back.html

(14) http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/18/what-the-world-thinks-about-climate-change-in-7-charts/

(15) http://www.factcheck.org/2015/11/smith-misfires-on-climate-science/

(16) https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/11/environmentalist-air-pollution/

(17) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-brooks/scientists-behaving-badly_b_1448729.html

(18) http://www.thegwpf.com/hubris-the-troubling-science-economics-and-politics-of-climate-change/

(19) https://wattsupwiththat.com/climategate/

(20) http://www.thegwpf.org/lennart-bengtsson-resigns-gwpf-voices-shock-and-concern-at-the-extent-of-intolerance-within-the-climate-science-community/

(21) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-08/bjorn-lomborg-uwa-consensus-centre-contract-cancelled/6456708

(22) http://www.thegwpf.org/donna-laframboise-science-is-in-trouble/

(23) http://www.nature.com/news/el-ni%C3%B1o-monitoring-system-in-failure-mode-1.14582

(24) http://scienceandreason.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/theory-vs-observation.html

(25) http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/Ch02-ClimatePolicy.pdf

(26) http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~jnorris/presentations/climate_model_clouds.pdf

(27) http://globalchange.mit.edu/files/document/MITJPSPGC_Rpt106.pdf

(28) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_main-stream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming (Note the histogram on page 1)

(29) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_main-stream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming

(30) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/australia-cuts-110-climate-scientist-jobs/

(31) https://cpsu-csiro.org.au/2016/03/07/unprecedented-support-for-csiro-workforce/

(32) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-05/quinn-csiro-cuts-why-we-need-climate-modelling/7143584

(33) http://www.lavoisier.com.au/articles/greenhouse-science/climate-change/climategate-emails.pdf

(34) https://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-CRU-emails-hacked.htm
Post publicado por Judith Curry en su blog Climate ETC





dimecres, 18 d’abril de 2018

La dictadura cubana tendrá un nuevo líder a partir de este jueves y su apellido no será Castro




EL NUEVO HERALD.- Cuba tendrá un nuevo líder a partir de este jueves y su apellido no será Castro. El primer vicepresidente Miguel Díaz-Canel fue propuesto como el único candidato a la presidencia de Cuba en la sesión de la Asamblea Nacional de este miércoles.

Con ello se acaba la incertidumbre sobre quién sustituirá al actual gobernante Raúl Castro, cuyo último día al frente del gobierno será este miércoles.

Ni Castro ni ningún miembro de su familia formará parte del nuevo Consejo de Estado.

Como primer vicepresidente fue propuesto Salvador Valdés Mesa, actual vicepresidente y ex líder del único sindicato legal en Cuba, la Central de Trabajadores de Cuba. También se propusieron otros cinco vicepresidentes: el comandante Ramiro Valdés, el actual Ministro de Salud Pública Roberto Tomás Morales Ojeda y tres mujeres: la actual vicepresidenta y contralora general Gladys María Bejerano, Inés María Chapman, Presidenta del Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidráulicos, y Beatriz Johnson Urrutia, presidenta del gobierno en la provincia de Santiago de Cuba.

Valdés, de 85 años, es el único miembro de la generación de líderes históricos que se mantiene como vicepresidente, mientras se confirma el retiro de Jose Ramón Machado Ventura.

El canciller cubano Bruno Rodríguez se mantiene en el Consejo de Estado. Una ausencia significativa es Marino Murillo, exministro de Economía y vicepresidente que estaba a cargo de la implementación de la política partidista para "actualizar el modelo económico cubano".
Seguir leyendo...




Quién es Miguel Díaz-Canel, el sucesor de la dictadura de los Castro en Cuba

INFOBAE.- Díaz-Canel, de 57 años, sería la primera persona en tomar la máxima dirección que no se apellide Castro desde que triunfó la revolución en 1959 y deberá enfrentarse a una economía estancada, una infraestructura en decadencia, la hostilidad de los Estados Unidos que no levantó el embargo, ni las sanciones contra la isla y las críticas a un modelo de control estatal con salarios bajos en el marco de un congelamiento de la iniciativa privada.

Muchos cubanos a lo largo y ancho de la isla apenas lo conocen. Los últimos años de su ascenso político han transcurrido lento pero sin pausa, escalón por escalón, y asumió un perfil tan bajo que pasaban meses sin que se supiera de sus actividades.

Apenas saltó a la mirada internacional el año pasado cuando fue protagonista de un video filtrado en el cual abogaba por cerrar medios de prensa independientes y etiquetaba a embajadas europeas como una avanzada de la subversión contra la revolución.

Sin embargo, esa imagen ortodoxa contrasta con la percepción de hombre sencillo, tolerante, afable pero exigente que tienen muchos de sus conciudadanos de la provincia de Villa Clara, en la cual pasó su infancia, su juventud y de la que fue primer secretario del Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC) durante nueve años, un cargo que en la práctica es más importante que el de jefe de gobierno local.
Leer el artículo completo, aquí



Bélgica envió ilegalmente a Siria 96 toneladas de precursor de gas nervioso Sarin


BELLINGCAT.-Knack and Syrian Archive reveal today that Belgian companies have violated EU sanctions against Syria, according to the summons of an upcoming lawsuit.

Based on information found through the UN Comtrade database, freedom of information requests, and confirmed by the Belgian Customs, we can reveal that a criminal case regarding exports of chemicals to Syria has been opened in Antwerp Criminal Court. This case is brought by the Belgian Customs against three Flemish companies, one managing director and one manager, according to court press judge Roland Cassiers citing the summons.

Since EU sanctions from September 2013 made export licences compulsory for the export of isopropanol to Syria in concentrations of 95% or higher, Syrian Archive and Knack can report that Belgian companies exported 96 tonnes of isopropanol, a sarin precursor, to Syria between 2014 and 2016.

Sarin is the nerve gas used by the Syrian government in the Khan Shaykhun attack that killed 74-100 people in April of last year, as attributed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Belgian toxicologist Jan Tytgat (KU Leuven), victims of sarin die a painful death. “Diarrhea, urinary flare, narrowed pupils, spasms that give you the feeling of suffocation, vomiting, lacrimation and saliva production: the victim quickly becomes paralyzed, suffocates and dies. The lethal dose of sarin for adults is estimated to be less than 1 milligram.”

The Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), that oversees compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, examined samples from and around the impact crater in Khan Shaykhun, finding in laboratory tests that isopropanol was used in the production of sarin used in the attack.

Isopropanol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is considered a “dual use” product, much like chlorine, which has ordinary industrial uses (such as in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals or acetate, where it is favoured due to its low toxicity and small amount of residue). It can also be used in the synthesis process when manufacturing chemical agents such as the nerve agent sarin. Like all chemical weapons, the use of sarin has been banned since the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

The question is: where did Syria get its isopropanol from? In October 2013, Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. “It was then necessary to destroy its stocks of isopropanol,” says Jean-Pascal Zanders from consultancy firm The Trench, a Belgian expert on chemical weapons.

According to the OPCW, Syria liquidated a stock of 133 tonnes of isopropanol. However, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs found evidence that since 2014, the Syrian regime has tried to acquire “dozens of tonnes of isopropanol.”

Data found by Syrian Archive staff in the UN Comtrade database shows that since 2014, an estimated 1.28 million kilograms of propanol and isopropanol (both propanol and isopropanol are registered under the same code) were exported by various countries to Syria, the largest majority coming from United Arab Emirates and Lebanon with a combined 674,880 kilograms since EU sanctions were introduced. See below:

Source: UN Comtrade. Reported exports of isopropanol and propanol to Syria in kilograms (2013-2017). See the data here.

The UN Comtrade statistics show that Belgium was the only EU member state that continued to export (iso)propanol to Syria since EU sanctions were imposed in 2013. After this discovery, we contacted the Belgian Customs for a reaction.

According to Francis Adyns, spokesperson of the Belgian Federal Public Service Finance (the government department to which the Customs belong), “appropriate permits were not submitted to the Belgian Customs (…) The established facts were the subject of a criminal investigation. The prosecution was initiated at the Criminal Court of Antwerp at the end of March.”

Through information from the Antwerp Criminal Court, we now know that ‘The customs authorities summon three Flemish companies, one managing director and one manager,’ says press judge Roland Cassiers, citing the summons. “The companies are AAE Chemie Trading from Kalmthout, a wholesaler of chemical products for industrial use; Anex Customs from Hoevenen, a business office that provided administrative services until it went bankrupt i
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Sólo micrófonos de medios catalanes y Reuters en la rueda de prensa de Torrent en Suiza tras reunirse con la ONU



E-NOTCÍES.- El presidente del Parlament, Roger Torrent, ha viajado a Ginebra donde se ha reunido con miembros de la ONU para "trasladar nuestra preocupación por la vulneración de los derechos fundamentales de los catalanes, y buscar la complicidad de las organizaciones y entidades para resolver el conflicto político".

La presencia de Torrent, sin embargo, no parece haber levantado demasiada expectación: el presidente de la cámara catalana ha improvisado una rueda de prensa en medio de la calle, frente a la sede de la ONU en la ciudad. Durante la misma, sólo se han visto cuatro micrófonos que captaban sus impresiones. De estos, tres eran catalanes, dos de los cuales públicos -TV3 y ACN-, uno privado -RAC1-, mientras que el único medio internacional presente era la agencia Reuters.

TV3 ha ofrecido en directo la rueda de prensa, pero ha cortado la conexión cuando Torrent iba a dar paso al "turno de preguntas". Tampoco se ha publicado ninguna fotografía de la reunión ni se ha concretado con qué persona de la ONU se ha encontrado el dirigente catalán.
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dimarts, 17 d’abril de 2018

El Supremo ratifica la existencia de indicios de delito de rebelión en la actuación de los dirigentes del ‘procés’ y rebate los argumentos del tribunal alemán




La Sala cree que no es razonable equiparar lo ocurrido en Cataluña con las protestas contra la ampliación de un aeropuerto en Frankfurt

La Sala Segunda del Tribunal Supremo ha dictado un auto en el que ratifica la existencia de indicios de delito de rebelión en las personas que dirigieron el ‘procés’ secesionista de Cataluña entre los años 2015 y 2017 y rebate los argumentos del tribunal alemán de Schleswig-Holstein que está estudiando la euroorden dictada contra el expresidente de la Generalitat Carles Puigdemont, al estimar que no es razonable, como ha hecho, comparar el proceso secesionista dentro de un país de la Unión Europea con las protestas organizadas contra la ampliación del aeropuerto de Frankfurt.

“En nuestro caso no se trataba de ampliar o no una de las pistas del aeropuerto de El Prat de Llobregat, y que ello generara la protesta de miles de manifestantes para impedirlo. Lo que aquí realmente sucedía era que después de más de dos años dedicados a laminar el ordenamiento jurídico estatal y autonómico, y de oponerse frontalmente al cumplimiento de sentencias básicas del Tribunal Constitucional, se culminaba el proceso secesionista dentro de un país de la Unión Europea, con una democracia asentada, poniendo las masas en la calle para que votaran en un referéndum inconstitucional oponiéndose a la fuerza legítima del Estado que protegía unos supuestos colegios electorales”, señala el auto.

La resolución ha sido dictada por la Sala de Apelaciones, formada por los magistrados Miguel Colmenero, Francisco Monterde y Alberto Jorge Barreiro, y desestima el recurso planteado por Jordi Sànchez contra la decisión del juez Pablo Llarena, del pasado 9 de marzo, de denegar la libertad de dicho investigado en la causa así como la concesión de un permiso extraordinario para asistir al primer pleno de investidura, el pasado 12 de marzo, para la que fue propuesto en el Parlamento catalán.

Rebelión por quienes ostentaban el poder autonómico

La Sala analiza en el auto la naturaleza del delito de rebelión, que está regulado en los Delitos contra la Constitución, y afirma que “en este caso parece que, cuando menos indiciariamente, se ha atacado la soberanía nacional y la unidad territorial de la Nación española (artículos 1 y 2 de Constitución)”.

En concreto, especifica que no se trata de una “rebelión de una muchedumbre de personas, más o menos organizada contra el Estado español para tomar sus centros de poder”, sino que las personas que llevaron la iniciativa en la ejecución de los presuntos hechos delictivos eran “sujetos que ocupaban oficial y legítimamente los poderes constitucional y legalmente establecidos en una comunidad autónoma”.

Por ello, según la Sala, en lugar de valerse de la violencia para tomar el poder central del Estado trataban de desconectar o desgajar del Estado español las instituciones autonómicas cuyos poderes ejercían. Para ello contaban con los medios jurídicos que les habían proporcionado la Constitución y el Estatuto de autonomía a través de unas elecciones legítimas, “instrumental jurídico que acabaron utilizando con fines totalmente contrarios a los dispuestos por las normas que legitimaban su función”.

“En un contexto de esa índole, es claro que la violencia física pasaba a un segundo lugar, pues sólo era preciso utilizarla en algún cruce o tránsito puntual de la línea de ruta que se habían marcado. Especialmente para realizar el referéndum de independencia, ya que se trataba de un peldaño imprescindible en su andadura para el objetivo de la secesión, y al tenerlo que materializar masivamente y en centros públicos se iban a encontrar con la oposición de la fuera legítima del Estado”, explica el auto.

Violencia previsible al lanzar a dos millones de personas a una votación ilegal

Los magistrados destacan al respecto del 1-O que el Gobierno español desplazó a Cataluña a unos 6.000 agentes que tenían la obligación de que se cumplimentaran las sentencias y resoluciones del Tribunal Constitucional, prohibiendo la celebración de un referéndum declarado inconstitucional.

Sin embargo, pese a todas las advertencias de los tribunales y de las autoridades gubernativas, “los protagonistas del procés prosiguieron con su hoja de ruta e indujeron a unos dos millones de personas a que salieran a la calle para votar ilegalmente”. El resultado fue que, como era “totalmente previsible e inevitable”, hubo violencia y más de cien enfrentamientos físicos entre personas que fueron a votar y la Policía.

El auto analiza a continuación la intensidad de la violencia ocurrida y la valoración de ese aspecto que realiza el tribunal alemán que conoce de la euroorden de Puigdemont, ya que estimó que dicho grado de violencia no fue suficiente para que el Gobierno español se hubiese visto obligado a rendirse a las demandas de los insurgentes al no resultar bastante para doblegar la voluntad del Estado.

El Supremo destaca al respecto que los 6.000 agentes que se utilizaron para impedir el referéndum resultaron ostensiblemente superados por los dos millones de votantes, y prueba de ello es que la consulta –aunque nunca tuvo las mínimas garantías- acabó realizándose, y que los procesados siguieron con su hoja de ruta secesionista y acabaron declarando la independencia de Cataluña. Añade que “si hubieran intervenido un número bastante mayor de policías es muy probable que todo acabara en una masacre y entonces sí sería muy factible que el resultado de la euroorden fuera muy distinto”.

El tribunal alemán hace una comparación no razonable

Además, el Supremo destaca que no es razonable que el tribunal alemán homologue lo ocurrido en el proceso separatista de una comunidad autónoma de más de siete millones de habitantes como Cataluña con unas revueltas organizadas por la ampliación del aeropuerto de Frankfurt, al tratarse de dos supuestos fácticos que nada tienen que ver el uno con el otro.

A la Sala lo que más le llama la atención de la argumentación del tribunal alemán es que empieza con un ejemplo hipotético muy adecuado al caso de Cataluña, como es preguntarse qué sucedería en Alemania si el presidente de un Land incurriera en una conducta como la perpetrada en Cataluña, “pero a las pocas líneas abandona ese discurso sin profundizar en él y se desliza repentinamente hacia el supuesto fáctico de la pista del aeropuerto, huyendo así del pantanoso ejemplo comparativo que tan adecuado y pertinente resultaba”.

“El supuesto hipotético del presidente del Land daba mucho de sí, pero muy probablemente en el caso de que se siguieran en su análisis argumental las reglas propias del discurso de la racionalidad comunicativa, su desenlace acabaría en la concesión de la euroorden”, dice el auto.

Si los hechos hubieran ocurrido en Alemania, no habría una sentencia simbólica

Así, destaca que “si los hechos que se han venido cometiendo en España se hubieran perpetrado en un Land de Alemania con los mismos factores de evolución, tiempo y resultado, no parece muy factible que todo ello se saldara con una sentencia condenatoria meramente simbólica como se dice en la resolución del tribunal regional superior de Schleswig-Holstein”, explica.

En cualquier caso, la Sala recoge además en su resolución que la Fiscalía dejó abierta la puerta en su escrito de querella para que, en el supuesto de que no se constatara suficientemente el elemento de la violencia en el caso concreto, se subsumiera la conducta de los sujetos investigados en el tipo penal de la sedición.







Auto del Tribunal Supremo que rebate los argumentos del tribunal alemán




El final del catalanismo político


Hasta aquí llegaron. Violentaron las reglas del Parlament, las leyes, el Estatut y la Constitución para proclamar su República Catalana independiente


Lo que se ha dado en llamar en Cataluña el 'procés' hacia la independencia está teniendo un final caótico. Y no puede ser de otra manera, porque los derrotados por la legalidad constitucional española están perdidos. Tienen votos, pueden formar gobierno, pueden presidir la Generalidad, pero están perdidos.

El catalanismo político ha jugado en los límites de la legalidad mucho tiempo, ignorándola cuando algunas sentencia judiciales no les daban la razón. Un equilibrio que se sustentaba en la inacción del poder central y que han roto por una apuesta mayor que pensaban tampoco tendría coste. Y lo ha tenido, muy grave. Pero lo peor no es el control de la Generalidad por el Estado, ni los presos en las cárceles, reos de duras condenas.
Lo peor es que la aplicación del artículo 155 de la Constitución supone el final de etapa de una generación que ha jugado con fuego, construyendo con palabras un 'procés' de cartón piedra, que por el material incautado por las fuerzas de seguridad, ni los protagonistas creían en él, ni sabían como concretarlo.

El catalanismo político ha terminado porque la administración catalana está quebrada. Miquel Iceta en las pasadas elecciones dijo - y fue el único- que si le elegían presidente haría recortes en el gasto público porque hacía tiempo que vivíamos por encima de nuestras posibilidades. ¿Un gobierno nacionalista haciendo recortes? ¿Que programa económico van a ofrecer a las empresas que han huido y a los ciudadanos que no pueden huir? No hay dinero y hay deudas, y no es tema de debate público.


El catalanismo político ha terminado porqué ahora no hay relato posible. ¿Que programa va a hacer suyo un nuevo gobierno?: ¿la independencia, la desobediencia, la hacienda catalana, "tenemos prisa", "no nos rendiremos"?


Esto ha terminado, veremos gente en la calle manifestándose, votos en las urnas y mucho ruido. Pero en unos años el griterío no se va a distinguir de los Sanfermines de Pamplona, de la Feria de Abril de Sevilla o de las Fallas de Valencia.| J.B.




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'Remenar les cireres'
[Cortar el bacalao]

Que Francisco Vergés fuera alcalde de Sant Pere de Torelló entre 1956 y 1965, no convierte a su nieta, Marta Rovira, en franquista. Al igual que tampoco es franquista Pere Aragonés, aunque su abuelo fuera nombrado alcalde de Pineda de Mar en 1963. Ni es una entidad franquista Òmnium Cultural, por mucho que uno de sus fundadores, José María Coll, fuera alcalde de Sant Celoni entre 1959 y 1966, y otro, Felix Millet Maristany, presidente del Banco Popular y conocido cono "el Generalísimo", tuviera una estrecha relación con la Falange.

Quiere decir, sencillamente, que son los que siempre han cortado el bacalao, los que han mandado en este país de toda la vida. Así lo demuestran trayectorias familiares como las de Lluís Llach, con un bisabuelo que fue jefe carlista de la provincia de Girona, un abuelo miembro del somatén de Sant Martí Vell y un padre que formaba parte del requeté antes de que lo nombraran alcalde de Verges.

Pero el mundo ha cambiado y el bacalao cuesta más de cortar. De vez en cuando alguien les para los pies. Reaccionan como adolescentes malcriados ante las negativas y no entienden el por qué no pueden hacer y deshacer sin dar razones, como hacían sus padres y sus abuelos.

Este es el motor de la extraña revolución que vive Cataluña. Hacer que manden los de siempre. Como en el Gattopardo, que todo cambie para que todo siga igual. El gran drama es que, como en esta magnífica novela de Tomaso di Lampedusa, al final los cambios suelen imponerse, y aquellos que intentan poner puertas al campo para mantener las manos en el cesto de las cerezas acaban inmersos en la irrelevancia casi sin darse cuenta, pero creando por el camino un sufrimiento que padecen los demás. | JAUME MORENO

Artículo original en catalán, aquí



dilluns, 16 d’abril de 2018

La realidad violenta de Suecia está deshaciendo su autoimagen pacífica




ESTOCOLMO - Suecia puede ser conocida por su música popular, IKEA y un generoso estado de bienestar. También se asocia cada vez más con un número creciente de reclutas, bombardeos y ataques con granadas de mano del Estado Islámico.

En un período de dos semanas a principios de este año, se produjeron cinco explosiones en el país. No es raro en estos días: los suecos se han acostumbrado a los titulares de crímenes violentos, intimidación de testigos y ejecuciones de pandillas. En un país reconocido durante mucho tiempo por su seguridad, los votantes citan la "ley y el orden" como el tema más importante antes de las elecciones generales de septiembre.

El tema de la delincuencia es sensible, sin embargo, y el debate sobre el tema en la sociedad escandinava orientada al consenso está restringido por tabúes.

Para entender el crimen en Suecia , es importante notar que Suecia se ha beneficiado del amplio declive de la violencia letal en Occidente, particularmente cuando se trata de violencia espontánea y asesinatos relacionados con el alcohol. Sin embargo, la caída general de los homicidios ha sido mucho menor en Suecia que en los países vecinos.

Los tiroteos en el país se han vuelto tan comunes que ya no son noticia de primera plana, a menos que sean espectaculares o lleven a víctimas mortales.

Los asesinatos de armas relacionados con pandillas, que ahora son principalmente un fenómeno entre hombres con antecedentes de inmigrantes en las sociedades paralelas del país, aumentaron de 4 por año a principios de la década de 1990 a alrededor de 40 el año pasado . Debido a esto, Suecia pasó de ser un país con un bajo índice de criminalidad a tener tasas de homicidios significativamente más altas que el promedio de Europa occidental. La inquietud social, con el estallido de automóviles, ataques a los primeros en responder e incluso disturbios, es un fenómeno recurrente.

Los tiroteos en el país se han vuelto tan comunes que ya no son noticia de primera plana, a menos que sean espectaculares o lleven a víctimas mortales. Las noticias sobre los ataques se reemplazan rápidamente con titulares sobre eventos deportivos y celebridades, ya que los lectores se han vuelto insensibles a la violencia. Hace una generación, los bombardeos contra la policía y los disturbios fueron eventos extremadamente raros. Hoy, leer acerca de tales incidentes se considera parte de la vida cotidiana.

Los crecientes niveles de violencia no han pasado desapercibidos para los vecinos escandinavos de Suecia. Los noruegos comúnmente usan la frase "condiciones suecas" para describir el crimen y la agitación social. La opinión de Dinamarca quedó en claro cuando el ex presidente de la OTAN y primer ministro danés, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, dijo en una entrevista en la televisión sueca: "A menudo uso Suecia como un ejemplo de disuasión".

En respuesta, el gobierno sueco ha lanzado una campaña internacional para "la imagen de Suecia" minimizando el aumento del crimen, tanto en su estrategia de medios como a través de campañas de relaciones públicas financiadas con impuestos. Durante una visita a la Casa Blanca en marzo, el primer ministro sueco, Stefan Löfven, admitió que su país tiene problemas con el crimen y específicamente con los disparos, pero negó la existencia de zonas prohibidas. El ministro de educación de Suecia, Gustav Fridolin, viajó a Hungría la semana pasada con el mismo mensaje.

Pero la realidad es diferente para los que están en el terreno: el jefe del sindicato de paramédicos Ambulansförbundet, Gordon Grattidge, y su predecesor Henrik Johansson me dijeron recientemente en una entrevista que algunos barrios definitivamente no tienen que ir por los conductores de ambulancia, al menos sin policía proteccion. (...)


Leer aquí  (en inglés) el artículo completo publicado en POLITICO.






diumenge, 15 d’abril de 2018

Con apenas 100.000 manifestantes el independentismo no logra algutinar a una mayoría por la libertad de los presos




Las diferentes familias del independentismo catalán han vuelto a sacar hoy a la calle a los apenas 100.000 fervorosos manifestantes de casi siempre. Es la primera gran manifestación que logran orquestar desde la fuga de Puigdemont, tras el paripé de una declaración de independencia 'coitus interruptus' que un día será estudiada con asombro en las Universidades del mundo entero.

El independentismo ha vuelto, pues, a la calle, a lucir músculo y marcar paquete. Como en los grandes desfiles anteriores de los 11 de septiembre, las cifras que manejan son astronómicas: 750.000. Cifra absolutamente falsa ya que en la superficie que va desde la Plaza de España hasta las Tres Chimeneas por la Avenida del Paralelo solo caben 312.000 manifestantes, a 4 personas por m2,  sin descontar los espacios no ocupables (árboles, mobiliario urbano...).

Por esa evidencia, la Guardia Urbana de Barcelona ha cifrado la asistencia en 315.000 personas, lo que le ha valido que los independentistas la acusen de 'fascista'. En realidad, tendrían que estarles agradecidos, ya que les siguen triplicando el número de manifestantes.

Comprobarlo no es difícil. Tenemos el mapa y las vídeos aéreos para calibrar la densidad.

En el mapa situado en la parte superior de esta entrada se ha marcado la superficie total del recorrido de la manifestación, desde el lugar de la concentración hasta las Tres Chimeneas y espacios en calles adyacentes. El área total delimitada es de 79.531,57 metros cuadrados y la longitud de 5,7 km.

Si toda esa superficie hubiese sido ocupada en su integridad -incluyendo los espacios no ocupables de árboles o mobiliario urbano-, desde Plaza España hasta las Tres Chimeneas, las cifras de asistentes serían las siguientes:

Máximo: 80.000 m2 x 4 personas m2 = 320.000
Alto: 80.000 m2 x 3 personas m2 = 240.000
Medio: 80.000 m2 x 2 personas m2 = 160.000
Bajo: 80.000 m2 x 1 persona m2 =80.000

La Guardia Urbana, pues, se ha limitado ha ofrecer la cifra máxima posible.

Sin embargo, si observan los dos vídeos siguientes, emitidos por Tv3, comprobaran que dicha superficie ha sido ocupada sólo muy parcialmente.






Una estimación aproximada de la densidad correspondría a una tercera parte de la superficie total, lo que reduciría la asistencia real a unas 100.000 personas.

Con esta cifra -importante pero insuficiente, a pesar de la participación de CCOO, UGT y de los comunes- el independentismo ha pinchado en su intento de aglutinar a otros sectores de la sociedad catalana en favor de una causa más transversal.