jueves, 28 de febrero de 2013

Irán y la Corpo

Leemos en la cadena iraní PressTV (http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/02/27/291135/bhs-forced-to-take-irans-alalam-off-air):

The European satellite provider Eutelsat has forced another satellite provider to pull the plug on Iran’s Arabic-language al-Alam news network as part of its war on the freedom of speech.

Eutelsat has ordered satellite provider, BHS, to take Iran’s Arabic channel off the air from platform AB7 on Wednesday at 20:00 GMT.

The BHS satellite provider has said it is against the decision, but has no way of opposing it.

This comes only a few days after Eutelsat ordered the Satellite Telecommunications Network (STN) to terminate the broadcasting of al-Alam or face consequences.

In recent months, Eutelsat’s Israeli-French CEO Michel De Rosen has stepped up his restrictive campaign by appealing to major satellite providers in Europe and Asia to silence Iranian media.

The campaign has revealed the true face of the West, which preaches respect for human rights and free speech but practices the opposite. 

On February 20, the Arab satellite provider Gulfsat banned Iranian channels iFilm and Al-Kawthar under direct pressure from Eutelsat. 

The encroachment upon freedom of speech targeting movie channel, iFilm, and Iran's Arabic-language Al-Kawthar came one day after Eutelsat asked Nilesat to pull Iran's English-language news channel Press TV off the air.

martes, 26 de febrero de 2013

Los Mauricios que vendrán

Leemos en el blog Cassandra’s Legacy, un artículo del químico italiano Ugo Bardi (http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com), muy a propósito de los eventos en Italia. Una mirada distinta teniendo en cuenta un contexto más global.

Título: Elections in Italy: the rise of networked politics

Texto: The recent Italian elections have seen the rise of the "five star" movement founded and led by Mr Beppe Grillo (shown in the picture above). The movement is a "non party" completely structured around Internet networking. We may call it "networked politics" and it is surely a revolutionary innovation. But will it make a difference?

The Italian national elections of this week have seen a clear winner: the "five star movement," founded by Mr. Beppe Grillo, former actor now turned politician. The movement didn't gain a majority, but it managed a stunning feat by gathering almost one quarter of the valid votes in its first appearance in a nation-wide election, nearly matching the results of the main traditional parties in Italy. More than that, Grillo and his colleagues were able to make the other parties look old, useless, and worn out in their desperate attempts of gathering votes by making promises that they knew they could never maintain.

This success is all the more surprising if we consider that the national political program of the movement is contained in just fifteen pages of generic proposals. The movement is a "non party" without a hierarchy and where elected members are seen just as spokespersons for the others. Most of the movement's candidates had little or no previous political experience and none of them is a known figure in politics or culture. The movement didn't do traditional media advertising and Mr. Grillo never even appeared on a TV debate. So, most voters seem to have chosen the movement as a reaction against the old parties, perceived as staffed with thieves, sex maniacs, and all sort of criminals. At least, this is the general interpretation of the results of the recent Italian elections. But, probably, the explanation goes somewhat deeper.

When we discuss "politics" we are discussing about ways to control the government. The term "control" may sound nasty, but it is what every voter does when choosing a party or a candidate: it is a way to steer government policies along lines that one finds desirable. But a whole country is an enormously complex system and history has shown that the control of complex systems requires complex control systems. At the level of entire societies, these control systems are mainly what we call "bureaucracy," which is the main factor that makes societies resilient - that is resisting to change. However, the increasing complexity of these control systems originates those "diminishing returns to complexity" that Joseph Tainter describes as the main cause of the collapse of civilizations.

Collapse is the rapid reduction in complexity of all the structures of a society. By collapsing, a society gets rid of its complex control structures that have become a burden and are no more a benefit. It is what happened when the Roman Empire fell: it was the disappearance of the expensive Imperial Court, with its even more expensive Imperial Bureaucracy. The result was the much less expensive set of local control structures that define the period we call "Middle Ages."

However, the collapse of a society doesn't occur all of a sudden: it starts with the weakest links which may collapse without necessarily generating the cascade of events that brings down everything. So, in modern Western society, political parties may have been among the first structures affected by a rapid reduction in complexity.

Think of the communist parties of a few decades ago in Western Europe: they had militants, cadres, leaders, and intellectuals; all focused around a set of ideas written in the ponderous tome called "Das Kapital". But this kind of parties is gone. They collapsed and disappeared because of the diminishing returns of complexity. The standard political party, today, is a simple structure that specializes in vote gathering by controlling the media. It has no strong leaders, rather it has good actors. It has no well defined ideas, except a vague slant on ill-defined concepts such as "left" and "right". Basically, all what it does is transferring money from lobbies into PR firms. No wonder that voters are disaffected with these parties but, so far, they had no choice.

Now, there come Beppe Grillo and his Web adviser Pierandrea Casaleggio, who have this idea of a completely Web-structured political party. It is all built using the "MeetUp" internet platform that is used as the vehicle for information exchange and for the decisional process based on on-line voting. The result is a peer-to-peer, purely horizontal network. The five star movement is the organizational opposite of the standard political parties as they are today. The movement has a base without a leadership, traditional parties have a leadership without a base.

The great advantage of the five star movement over its competitors is its low cost. Controlling the media is extremely expensive, especially in politics; consider that the cost of the last US presidential election ran into several billion dollars, mostly spent in advertising. Mr. Grillo and Mr. Casaleggio, instead, managed this nearly unbelievable feat of almost winning the national elections in a major country without spending a single dollar in traditional media advertising. All the advertising was done by the militants in their peer-to-peer network. It is the awesome power of the Web.

The structure that Mr. Grillo and Mr. Casaleggio built may be called "networked politics" and it may be the start of a new generation of political movements that will largely replace traditional ones. But is this a revolution that will solve our problems of energy, pollution, social unrest, impending collapse and the like? Well, this is a different question.

We known that the Western society is undergoing a profound transformation driven by the reduced availability of natural resources, by the wreckage of the ecosystem, and by the increasing burden of complexity. If traditional political parties have largely collapsed, governments are still resisting change by increasing in complexity, adding layer after layer of bureaucracy. Eventually, the whole thing will crash down but, as Tainter notes, there are no mechanisms in complex societies that can be used to reduce complexity, only mechanisms to increase it.

Facing these problems, what can be done by networked politics? In the commercial sector, networks are known to be sometimes effective, but normally only on a small scale and they are usually short lived. Purely horizontal networks may be subjected to instabilities such as those described as "self organized criticality" and may undergo rapid and uncontrollable changes. These horizontal networks are themselves extremely difficult to manage. So, in politics we would require one of them to manage the gigantic, ponderous, and resilient entity that we call "government" (to say nothing of the powerful financial lobbies that lurk behind it). Not easy, to say the least.

But, who knows? In the great transition that we are living, anything can happen.

Media hora

Falta una media horita para que abra Wall Street. Sí, Asia abrió mal, Europa ni te cuento, pero lo que importa es NY. CNN Money puso para el desayuno estas pantallas. ¿Se la ven venir? ¿Están induciendo un posible comportamiento? ¿Le querrán echar la culpa a Berlusconi? ¿Estamos ante un "Black Swan event"?

Ay, Fernando. Si hubieras ganado por dos o tres puntitos más hoy las bolsas estarían pum para arriba. Por dos o tres meses más, claro. En fin, habrá que ver. 


lunes, 25 de febrero de 2013

Gana Fernando

Notable triunfo de la Alianza en las elecciones italianas de ayer. Según encuestas de boca de urna, Fernando de la Rúa (Pier Luigi Barsani, PD-SEL) se impone en ambas cámaras con alrededor del 35% de los votos. Daniel Scioli (Silvio Berlusconi, PD-Liga) mantiene un digno 30%, apoyado mayormente por el Véneto y otras regiones del Norte. Mauricio Macri (Beppe Grillo, MSS) araña el 20% para Senadores. La alianza Hermes Binner– López Murphi (Mario Monti, UDC) cae barranca abajo con menos del 10%. Lilita Carrió (Antonio Ingroia, Rivoluzione Civile) se estanca definitivamente en el 3% de los votos. Finalmente, no hay datos para Pino Solanas (Fermare il Declino), aunque se supone que no llega al 1%.

Los mercados, chochos. El spread italiano a 10 años cae 30 puntos y la bolsa sube un 3.5%. No tenemos declaraciones de Barsani todavía, pero sabemos que va a hablar de honestidad, crecimiento, transparencia y tiempos duros. Estimamos que el episodio de la Banelco queda para el año que viene. Barsani, calco del petiso Hollande, entra en escena. Lo van a rajar a patadas en el traste, pero todavía no lo sabe.

Hasta la próxima.

Actualización (3:48 PM hora argentina): Gran remontada de Mauricio, que está alcanzando un 25,5% para diputados y casi el 24% en senadores. Fernando sigue primero aunque con un puntaje menor al de los boca de urna (31,60 y 32,27%, respectivamente). Daniel sonríe (28 y 30%, respectivamente), respirándole en la nuca a Fernando. Fíjense que entre Daniel y Mauricio hay más del 50% de los votos. No se reportan votos a Clemente ni fetas de salame en los sobres.

Actualización (16:40 hora argentina). Final de bandera verde. Fernando sigue primero, pero en el promedio nacional. Según los resultados regionales, Daniel mantiene la mayoría en el Senado. Podría haber nuevas elecciones. 
Titulares de La Repubblica:  “Proiezioni: Bersani avanti d'un soffio”. “Boom di Grillo”. “Berlusconi-Lega al 30%”. “Il Senato ingovernabile”. "Grillo ok". “Ceccarelli: "Caos Italia" – 
Titulares del Corriere della Sera: “Senato senza maggioranza”. “Boom di Grillo”.  “Sorpresa Berlusconi”. “Alfano esulta: successo straordinario”.

Actualización (18:40 hora argentina). Qué lo tiró. Daniel y Mauricio, ganadores morales. Fernando va a tener que sudar, pese al triunfo. No hay nada claro. Caos. 

Titulares del Corriere della Sera: “È caos al Senato” -  “Boom di Grillo: «E ora scappellotti» - “Il Pdl esulta” -  “Il Pd: rischio nuovo voto”.

Titulares de La Repubblica: “Italia ingovernabile” – “Senato senza maggioranza” - “Boom Grillo” – “Pd-Sel sotto le attese” – “Pdl-Lega al 30%” – “Enrico Letta: "Adesso responsabilità, no ritorno al voto" -   “Ezio Mauro: "Pd si è seduto sugli allori delle primarie" – “Analisi Governo, legge elettorale, Quirinale: un labirinto”.

Mañana el spread italiano va a subir (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-02-25/hung-parliament-btp-sell-jpm-says-expect-40-100-bps-rise-italian-bond-yields) y las bolsas europeas van a caer (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-02-25/market-plunges-european-crisis-back).  

domingo, 24 de febrero de 2013

Primavera seca

Una nota del New York Times de hoy da cuenta de las pobres perspectivas de humedad para el medio-oeste estadounidense en la primavera boreal que se aproxima. Ya hemos hablado de esto en ocasiones anteriores; esta nota confirma la tendencia que veníamos anticipando. Multitud de modelos climáticos basados en datos objetivos del calentamiento global coincidían en un aumento de la frecuencia de sequías en esta parte de América.

Título: Thin Snowpack in West Signals Summer of Drought
por Matthew Staver

DENVER — After enduring last summer’s destructive drought, farmers, ranchers and officials across the parched Western states had hoped that plentiful winter snows would replenish the ground and refill their rivers, breaking the grip of one of the worst dry spells in American history. No such luck.

Lakes are half full and mountain snows are thin, omens of another summer of drought and wildfire. Complicating matters, many of the worst-hit states have even less water on hand than a year ago, raising the specter of shortages and rationing that could inflict another year of losses on struggling farms.

Reservoir levels have fallen sharply in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The soil is drier than normal. And while a few recent snowstorms have cheered skiers, the snowpack is so thin in parts of Colorado that the government has declared an “extreme drought” around the ski havens of Vail and Aspen.
“We’re worse off than we were a year ago,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center.

This week’s blizzard brought a measure of relief to the Plains when it dumped more than a foot of snow. But it did not change the basic calculus for forecasters and officials in the drought-scarred West. Ranchers are straining to find hay — it is scarce and expensive — to feed cattle. And farmers are fretting about whether they will have enough water to irrigate their fields.

“It’s approaching a critical situation,” said Mike Hungenberg, who grows carrots and cabbage on a 3,000-acre farm in Northern Colorado. There is so little water available this year, he said, that he may scale back his planting by a third, and sow less thirsty crops, like beans.

“A year ago we went into the spring season with most of the reservoirs full,” Mr. Hungenberg said. “This year, you’re going in with basically everything empty.”

National and state forecasters — some of whom now end phone calls by saying, “Pray for snow” — do have some hope. An especially wet springtime could still spare the Western plains and mountains and prime the soil for planting. But forecasts are murky: They predict warmer weather and less precipitation across the West over the next three months but say the Midwest could see more rain than usual.
Water experts get more nervous with each passing day.

“We’re running out of time,” said Andy Pineda of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “We only have a month or two, and we are so far behind it’s going to take storms of epic amounts just to get us back to what we would think of as normal.”

Parts of Montana, the Pacific Northwest and Utah have benefited from a snowy winter. But across Colorado, the snowpack was just 72 percent of average as of Feb. 1, which means less water to dampen hillsides and mountains vulnerable to fire, less water for farms to use on early season crops, and less to fill lakes and reservoirs that ultimately trickle down into millions of toilets, taps and swimming pools across the state.

Heavy rains and snow have recently brought some hope to the parched states of Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, where the drought is easing. But 55.8 percent of the United States remains locked in drought, according to the government’s latest assessments. And states like Nebraska and Oklahoma are facing precipitation deficits of as much as 16 inches.

Without damp soil, many wheat crops will have trouble growing come March and April when they should be in full bloom, and corn and soybeans could be stunted after they are planted this spring. In a year when farmers are planning another record planting, some might be forced to sow fewer seeds because there is not enough soil moisture to go around.

In southwestern Kansas, Gary Millershaski said the wheat on his 3,000 acres was as dry as it had ever been after two years of drought. But as snow fell around him, he was smiling, a guarded optimist for this year’s planting. “If we get above average rainfall from here on, we’re going to raise a wheat crop,” he said. “But what are the odds of that?”

Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, put it this way: “Mother Nature is testing us.”
But Washington is also posing a challenge.

Mr. Udall, Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and other members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation are seeking $20 million in emergency funds to help restore watersheds in Colorado ravaged by last year’s wildfires. So far, there has been little action on the measure. Western politicians are also urging the Forest Service to move more quickly to modernize the shrinking and aging fleet of tanker planes it uses to douse wildfires.

If Congress does not head off the looming across-the-board budget cuts set to take effect March 1, financing for the Forest Service’s Wildland Fire Management program will be cut by $134 million. As many as 200,000 acres — an area about the size of Kansas City, Mo. — would not be treated to remove dry brush, dead wood and other tinder for wildfires.

In dry states like Colorado, officials are already preparing for the worst. Wildfires did $538 million in damage last year, burning hundreds of homes and driving away summer tourists. As late as December, when the high country should be blanketed by snow, a 4,000-acre fire continued to burn in Rocky Mountain National Park. To some officials, it was a harbinger of longer, fiercer fire seasons that may come with climate change. “It’s just so dry here,” said Tom Grady, the emergency manager in Aspen and the surrounding county, which is already meeting to fine-tune its fire plans for the summer.

Denver Water, which serves 1.3 million people, depleted many of its reservoirs after last year’s dry winter and an unrelenting spree of 90- and 100-degree summer days. Those basins never fully recovered, and are now an average of 63 percent full. The agency has already idled one water treatment plant to conserve its reservoir supplies, and officials say they are likely to declare a Stage 2 drought, limiting when people can water their lawns.

In Northern Colorado, a combination of drought and wildfire is shutting off the spigot for scores of farmers. Cities are worried about ash and sediment flowing from the burn areas into the rivers that supply their water, so they are holding onto every drop possible this year and not selling any water to local farmers.

In 2011, the Northern Colorado city of Greeley alone leased enough water to irrigate 13,000 acres of farmland — representing millions of dollars in wages for farmhands, seed money, fertilizer sales and profits for farmers. Every year, just after midnight on Jan. 1, farmers start calling the city to sign up to lease the surplus water. This year, Greeley had to call them all back to say there was none to be had.

Eldon Ackerman, who grows sugar beets, pinto beans and alfalfa on his farm in Wellington, said he had water supplies for only about one-third of his fields. He was praying the spring snow and rains would come to save him. If they do not, he said he might have to let 1,000 acres lie fallow this year.

“There isn’t any more water to get,” Mr. Ackerman said.

sábado, 23 de febrero de 2013

Mientras tanto, en Siria

La situación en Siria ha dejado ya de lado todo tipo de sutilezas, si es que alguna vez las hubo. Los partes diarios que envían varios sitios web hablan de cientos, si no de miles, de muertos en cada avanzada de las fuerzas armadas de ese país. Hay noticias de enfrentamientos armados entre los propios grupos islámicos. Esta semana una bomba con más de mil kilogramos de explosivos explotó en Damasco, con un saldo de cien muertos y centenares de heridos. Ayer un par de misiles Scud destruyeron parte de un barrio de Alepo: cincuenta muertos por lo menos. En la foto, un anciano muerto en plena calle, abatido por un francotirador perteneciente a algún "grupo opositor", como los llama el diario El País. Iba en bicicleta y llevaba una garrafa de gas en la canasta de atrás. Se lo ve sangrando por la boca; la sangre cae resbalando por la mejilla, el ojo izquierdo y luego corre en forma de hilos hacia el piso, lo que sugiere que estuvo un rato en esa posición antes de morir. El hombre no parece ser un miembro de las fuerzas armadas o de seguridad sirias. Simplemente pasaba por ahí. Estaba a tiro. Estaba fácil. 

viernes, 22 de febrero de 2013


Está fenómeno escandalizar, mandar todo (y a todos) al diablo, etcétera. Los vatileaks, la pederastia, los negociados de algunos cardenales, ponen al rojo vivo las discusiones en la web y los cafés. Pero no nos equivoquemos: lo que se juega por detrás es otra cosa. Veamos lo que dice algún chabón más sutil.

Esta semana el Vatican Insider publica una entrevista al padre Miguel de Salis, profesor de eclesiología. Título: “Se acabó la Iglesia post-conciliar y eurocéntrica” (http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/es/reportajes-y-entrevistas/dettagliospain/articolo/benedetto-xvi-benedict-xvi-benedicto-xvi-22476/). Acá va:

La renuncia del Papa Benedicto XVI no es una «derrota ante el mundo», sino una manera para invitar a la Iglesia y recordar que ella está al servicio «de la vida cristiana y, en definitiva, de Dios», y no es solo una «estructura» humana. Está convencido de ello el padre Miguel De Salis, docente de eclesiología en la Pontificia Universidad de la Santa Cruz. En entrevista con Vatican Insider, el profesor y sacerdote invita a no ver la renuncia del Papa Ratzinger con «una mirada demasiado humana», como una «redimensión» del papado que le haría «perder mucho de su significado sobrenatural».

Claro, la renucnia llegó de repente y generó «tristeza» en la Iglesia: «la renuncia de Benedicto XVI hace que nos sintamos huérfanos», admite el padre Salis, «en algunos lugares en los que las noticias sobre el Papa y sus fuerzas no llegan con mucha frecuencia, su renuncia fue interpretada de diferentes maneras y los sentimientos suscitaron interpretaciones confusas... Pero –añade– no hay que olvidar lo que el Papa repitió en diferentes ocasiones: nuestra fe es en Dios, no en los Papas, ni en los obispos, ni en los teólogos o en el predicador carismático del momento».

P: Entonces, ¿los Papas son relativos? 

R: Creo que más bien los Papas no son autoreferenciales. Los Papas, como todos los ministros ordenados, tienen algo de la paternidad de Dios.

P: ¿Nos puede dar una clave para interpretar la decisión de Benedicto XVI? 

R: Más de una; creo que el Pontificado de Benedicto XVI se puede resumir en tres personajes que indican tres prioridades.

P: ¿O sea?

R: La primera es la Santa Hildegarda von Bingen, el segundo es San Juan de Ávila y el tercero es el beato John-Henry Newman. Los dos primeros fueron declarados doctores de la Iglesia el año pasado y el último fue declarado beato por el Papa en persona, contradiciendo una regla que él mismo había querido retomar cuando comenzó su Pontificado.

P: ¿Por qué indican las prioridades del Pontificado del Papa Ratzinger?

R: Santa Hildegarda, que describió en sus visiones una Iglesia con manchas que desfiguraban su rostro, representa el deseo de reforma interior de la Iglesia y la conversión de todos los cristianos. San Juan de Ávila refleja el interés del Papa por la formación sacerdotal, tanto la de los seminaristas como la formación continua de los que ya son sacerdotes. El beato John-Henry Newman, en cambio, nos indica el desafío de la vida cristiana que se debe abrir camino en el mundo moderno, caracterizado por el liberalismo.

P: ¿Nos encontramos al final de una época?

R: Creo que sí.

P: ¿De qué forma?

R: De dos formas diferentes. La primera es el declive del postconcilio que hemos vivido. A partir de ahora, el Vaticano II será un Concilio que se inscribe seriamente en la historia de la Iglesia y de los Concilios. En práctica, será mucho más nítida la diferencia entre la autoridad del Vaticano II y su historia. Los Papas que lo vivieron nos heredaron un gran don que dará frutos duraderos y serenos. La segunda es que estamos viviendo los últimos momentos de una Iglesia de matriz cultural europea, que nos llevará a un terreno que no es tan conocido, pero en el que Dios está presente –y actúa– desde hace mucho tiempo.

Veremos. Hasta la próxima.

jueves, 21 de febrero de 2013

miércoles, 20 de febrero de 2013

La Internacional Torturadora

En rojo, los países que participaron del programa estadounidense de captura (“extraordinary rendition”) y detenciones de supuestos terroristas, de acuerdo con el informe de la Open Society (2013). El mapa fue confeccionado por  Max Fisher, del Washington Post.

Hoy venimos posteando seguido. No se acostumbren porque no va a ser así todo el tiempo. Ocurre que no pudimos sustraernos a una nota de Greg Grandin posteada por el sitio web Tomdispatch bajo el título: “The Latin American Exception: How a Washington Global Torture Gulag Was Turned Into the Only Gulag-Free Zone on Earth” (http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175650/tomgram%3A_greg_grandin,_why_latin_ america_didn%27t_j oin_washington%27s_ counterterrorism_posse/) . Los millones de lectores de Astroboy recordarán que hace unas semanas escribimos sobre esto en la nota “Los Vuelos” (http://astroboy-en-multiverso.blogspot.com.ar/2013/02/los-vuelos.html). Bien, parece que ya son varios los se dieron cuenta y se empiezan a preguntar por qué América Latina no se prendió en esta movida de la Internacional Torturadora. Acá va una posible repuesta.

The Latin American Exception. How a Washington Global Torture Gulag Was Turned Into the Only Gulag-Free Zone on Earth

"The map tells the story. To illustrate a damning new report, “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detentions and Extraordinary Rendition,” recently published by the Open Society Institute, the Washington Post put together an equally damning graphic: it’s soaked in red, as if with blood, showing that in the years after 9/11, the CIA turned just about the whole world into a gulag archipelago.

Back in the early twentieth century, a similar red-hued map was used to indicate the global reach of the British Empire, on which, it was said, the sun never set. It seems that, between 9/11 and the day George W. Bush left the White House, CIA-brokered torture never saw a sunset either.

All told, of the 190-odd countries on this planet, a staggering 54 participated in various ways in this American torture system, hosting CIA “black site” prisons, allowing their airspace and airports to be used for secret flights, providing intelligence, kidnapping foreign nationals or their own citizens and handing them over to U.S. agents to be “rendered” to third-party countries like Egypt and Syria. The hallmark of this network, Open Society writes, has been torture. Its report documents the names of 136 individuals swept up in what it says is an ongoing operation, though its authors make clear that the total number, implicitly far higher, “will remain unknown” because of the “extraordinary level of government secrecy associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition.”

No region escapes the stain. Not North America, home to the global gulag’s command center. Not Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia. Not even social-democratic Scandinavia. Sweden turned over at least two people to the CIA, who were then rendered to Egypt, where they were subject to electric shocks, among other abuses. No region, that is, except Latin America.

What’s most striking about the Post’s map is that no part of its wine-dark horror touches Latin America; that is, not one country in what used to be called Washington’s “backyard” participated in rendition or Washington-directed or supported torture and abuse of “terror suspects.” Not even Colombia, which throughout the last two decades was as close to a U.S.-client state as existed in the area. It’s true that a fleck of red should show up on Cuba, but that would only underscore the point: Teddy Roosevelt took Guantánamo Bay Naval Base for the U.S. in 1903 “in perpetuity.”

Two, Three, Many CIAs
How did Latin America come to be territorio libre in this new dystopian world of black sites and midnight flights, the Zion of this militarist matrix (as fans of the Wachowskis' movies might put it)? After all, it was in Latin America that an earlier generation of U.S. and U.S.-backed counterinsurgents put into place a prototype of Washington’s twenty-first century Global War on Terror.

Even before the 1959 Cuban Revolution, before Che Guevara urged revolutionaries to create “two, three, many Vietnams,” Washington had already set about establishing two, three, many centralized intelligence agencies in Latin America. As Michael McClintock shows in his indispensable bookInstruments of Statecraft, in late 1954, a few months after the CIA’s infamous coup in Guatemala that overthrew a democratically elected government, the National Security Council first recommended strengthening “the internal security forces of friendly foreign countries."

In the region, this meant three things. First, CIA agents and other U.S. officials set to work “professionalizing” the security forces of individual countries like Guatemala, Colombia, and Uruguay; that is, turning brutal but often clumsy and corrupt local intelligence apparatuses into efficient, “centralized,” still brutal agencies, capable of gathering information, analyzing it, and storing it. Most importantly, they were to coordinate different branches of each country’s security forces—the police, military, and paramilitary squads—to act on that information, often lethally and always ruthlessly.

Second, the U.S. greatly expanded the writ of these far more efficient and effective agencies, making it clear that their portfolio included not just national defense but international offense. They were to be the vanguard of a global war for “freedom” and of an anticommunist reign of terror in the hemisphere. Third, our men in Montevideo, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Asunción, La Paz, Lima, Quito, San Salvador, Guatemala City, and Managua were to help synchronize the workings of individual national security forces.

The result was state terror on a nearly continent-wide scale. In the 1970s and 1980s, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s Operation Condor, which linked together the intelligence services of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile, was the most infamous of Latin America’s transnational terror consortiums, reaching out to commit mayhem as far away as Washington D.C.,Paris, and Rome. The U.S. had earlier helped put in place similar operations elsewhere in the Southern hemisphere, especially in Central America in the 1960s.

By the time the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans had been tortured, killed, disappeared, or imprisoned without trial, thanks in significant part to U.S. organizational skills and support. Latin America was, by then, Washington’s backyard gulag. Three of the region’s current presidents—Uruguay’s José Mujica, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega—were victims of this reign of terror. When the Cold War ended, human rights groups began the herculean task of dismantling the deeply embedded, continent-wide network of intelligence operatives, secret prisons, and torture techniques—and of pushing militaries throughout the region out of governments and back into their barracks. In the 1990s, Washington not only didn’t stand in the way of this process, but actually lent a hand in depoliticizing Latin America’s armed forces. Many believed that, with the Soviet Union dispatched, Washington could now project its power in its own “backyard” through softer means like international trade agreements and other forms of economic leverage. Then 9/11 happened.

“Oh My Goodness”
In late November 2002, just as the basic outlines of the CIA’s secret detention and extraordinary rendition programs were coming into shape elsewhere in the world, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld flew 5,000 miles to Santiago, Chile, to attend a hemispheric meeting of defense ministers. "Needless to say,” Rumsfeld nonetheless said, “I would not be going all this distance if I did not think this was extremely important." Indeed.

This was after the invasion of Afghanistan but before the invasion of Iraq and Rumsfeld was riding high, as well as dropping the phrase “September 11th” every chance he got. Maybe he didn’t know of the special significance that date had in Latin America, but 29 years earlier on the first 9/11, a CIA-backed coup by General Pinochet and his military led to the death of Chile’s democratically elected president Salvador Allende. Or did he, in fact, know just what it meant and was that the point? After all, a new global fight for freedom, a proclaimed Global War on Terror, was underway and Rumsfeld had arrived to round up recruits.

There, in Santiago, the city out of which Pinochet had run Operation Condor, Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials tried to sell what they were now terming the “integration” of “various specialized capabilities into larger regional capabilities”—an insipid way of describing the kidnapping, torturing, and death-dealing already underway elsewhere. “Events around the world before and after September 11th suggest the advantages,” Rumsfeld said, of nations working together to confront the terror threat.

“Oh my goodness,” Rumsfeld told a Chilean reporter, “the kinds of threats we face are global.” Latin America was at peace, he admitted, but he had a warning for its leaders: they shouldn’t lull themselves into believing that the continent was safe from the clouds gathering elsewhere. Dangers exist, “old threats, such as drugs, organized crime, illegal arms trafficking, hostage taking, piracy, and money laundering; new threats, such as cyber-crime; and unknown threats, which can emerge without warning.”

“These new threats,” he added ominously, “must be countered with new capabilities.” Thanks to the Open Society report, we can see exactly what Rumsfeld meant by those “new capabilities.”
A few weeks prior to Rumsfeld’s arrival in Santiago, for example, the U.S., acting on false information supplied by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, detained Maher Arar, who holds dual Syrian and Canadian citizenship, at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport and then handed him over to a “Special Removal Unit.” He was flown first to Jordan, where he was beaten, and then to Syria, a country in a time zone five hours ahead of Chile, where he was turned over to local torturers. On November 18th, when Rumsfeld was giving his noon speech in Santiago, it was five in the afternoon in Arar’s “grave-like” cell in a Syrian prison, where he would spend the next year being abused.

Ghairat Baheer was captured in Pakistan about three weeks before Rumsfeld’s Chile trip, and thrown into a CIA-run prison in Afghanistan called the Salt Pit. As the secretary of defense praised Latin America’s return to the rule of law after the dark days of the Cold War, Baheer may well have been in the middle of one of his torture sessions, “hung naked for hours on end.”

Taken a month before Rumsfeld’s visit to Santiago, the Saudi national Abd al Rahim al Nashiri was transported to the Salt Pit, after which he was transferred “to another black site in Bangkok, Thailand, where he was waterboarded.” After that, he was passed on to Poland, Morocco, Guantánamo, Romania, and back to Guantánamo, where he remains. Along the way, he was subjected to a “mock execution with a power drill as he stood naked and hooded,” had U.S. interrogators rack a “semi-automatic handgun close to his head as he sat shackled before them.” His interrogators also “threatened to bring in his mother and sexually abuse her in front of him.”

Likewise a month before the Santiago meeting, the Yemini Bashi Nasir Ali Al Marwalah was flown to Camp X-Ray in Cuba, where he remains to this day.

Less than two weeks after Rumsfeld swore that the U.S. and Latin America shared “common values,” Mullah Habibullah, an Afghan national, died “after severe mistreatment” in CIA custody at something called the “Bagram Collection Point.” A U.S. military investigation “concluded that the use of stress positions and sleep deprivation combined with other mistreatment... caused, or were direct contributing factors in, his death.”

Two days after the secretary’s Santiago speech, a CIA case officer in the Salt Pit had Gul Rahma stripped naked and chained to a concrete floor without blankets. Rahma froze to death.
And so the Open Society report goes... on and on and on.

Territorio Libre
Rumsfeld left Santiago without firm commitments. Some of the region’s militaries were tempted by the supposed opportunities offered by the secretary’s vision of fusing crime fighting into an ideological campaign against radical Islam, a unified war in which all was to be subordinated to U.S. command. As political scientist Brian Loveman has noted, around the time of Rumsfeld’s Santiago visit, the head of the Argentine army picked up Washington’s latest set of themes, insisting that “defense must be treated as an integral matter,” without a false divide separating internal and external security.

But history was not on Rumsfeld’s side. His trip to Santiago coincided with Argentina’s epic financial meltdown, among the worst in recorded history. It signaled a broader collapse of the economic model—think of it as Reaganism on steroids—that Washington had been promoting in Latin America since the late Cold War years. Soon, a new generation of leftists would be in power across much of the continent, committed to the idea of national sovereignty and limiting Washington’s influence in the region in a way that their predecessors hadn’t been.

Hugo Chávez was already president of Venezuela. Just a month before Rumsfeld’s Santiago trip, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidency of Brazil. A few months later, in early 2003, Argentines elected Néstor Kirchner, who shortly thereafter ended his country’s joint military exercises with the U.S. In the years that followed, the U.S. experienced one setback after another. In 2008, for instance, Ecuador evicted the U.S. military from Manta Air Base.

In that same period, the Bush administration’s rush to invade Iraq, an act most Latin American countries opposed, helped squander whatever was left of the post-9/11 goodwill the U.S. had in the region. Iraq seemed to confirm the worst suspicions of the continent’s new leaders: that what Rumsfeld was trying to peddle as an international “peacekeeping” force would be little more than a bid to use Latin American soldiers as Gurkhas in a revived unilateral imperial war.

Brazil’s “Smokescreen”
Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks show the degree to which Brazil rebuffed efforts to paint the region red on Washington’s new global gulag map.

A May 2005 U.S. State Department cable, for instance, reveals that Lula’s government refused “multiple requests” by Washington to take in released Guantánamo prisoners, particularly a group of about 15 Uighurs the U.S. had been holding since 2002, who could not be sent back to China.
“[Brazil’s] position regarding this issue has not changed since 2003 and will likely not change in the foreseeable future,” the cable said. It went on to report that Lula’s government considered the whole system Washington had set up at Guantánamo (and around the world) to be a mockery of international law. “All attempts to discuss this issue” with Brazilian officials, the cable concluded, “were flatly refused or accepted begrudgingly.”

In addition, Brazil refused to cooperate with the Bush administration’s efforts to create a Western Hemisphere-wide version of the Patriot Act. It stonewalled, for example, about agreeing to revise its legal code in a way that would lower the standard of evidence needed to prove conspiracy, while widening the definition of what criminal conspiracy entailed.

Lula stalled for years on the initiative, but it seems that the State Department didn’t realize he was doing so until April 2008, when one of its diplomats wrote a memo calling Brazil’s supposed interest in reforming its legal code to suit Washington a “smokescreen.” The Brazilian government, another Wikileaked cable complained, was afraid that a more expansive definition of terrorism would be used to target “members of what they consider to be legitimate social movements fighting for a more just society.” Apparently, there was no way to “write an anti-terrorism legislation that excludes the actions” of Lula’s left-wing social base.

One U.S. diplomat complained that this “mindset”—that is, a mindset that actually valued civil liberties—“presents serious challenges to our efforts to enhance counterterrorism cooperation or promote passage of anti-terrorism legislation.” In addition, the Brazilian government worried that the legislation would be used to go after Arab-Brazilians, of which there are many. One can imagine that if Brazil and the rest of Latin America had signed up to participate in Washington’s rendition program, Open Society would have a lot more Middle Eastern-sounding names to add to its list.

Finally, cable after Wikileaked cable revealed that Brazil repeatedly brushed off efforts by Washington to isolate Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, which would have been a necessary step if the U.S. was going to marshal South America into its counterterrorism posse.

In February 2008, for example, U.S. ambassador to Brazil Clifford Sobell met with Lula’s Minister of Defense Nelson Jobin to complain about Chávez. Jobim told Sobell that Brazil shared his “concern about the possibility of Venezuela exporting instability.” But instead of “isolating Venezuela,” which might only “lead to further posturing,” Jobim instead indicated that his government “supports [the] creation of a ‘South American Defense Council’ to bring Chavez into the mainstream.”

There was only one catch here: that South American Defense Council was Chávez’s idea in the first place! It was part of his effort, in partnership with Lula, to create independent institutions parallel to those controlled by Washington. The memo concluded with the U.S. ambassador noting how curious it was that Brazil would use Chavez’s “idea for defense cooperation” as part of a “supposed containment strategy” of Chávez.

Monkey-Wrenching the Perfect Machine of Perpetual War
Unable to put in place its post-9/11 counterterrorism framework in all of Latin America, the Bush administration retrenched. It attempted instead to build a “perfect machine of perpetual war” in a corridor running from Colombia through Central America to Mexico. The process of militarizing that more limited region, often under the guise of fighting “the drug wars,” has, if anything, escalated in the Obama years. Central America has, in fact, become the only place Southcom—the Pentagon command that covers Central and South America—can operate more or less at will. A look at this other map, put together by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, makes the region look like one big landing strip for U.S. drones and drug-interdiction flights.

Washington does continue to push and probe further south, trying yet again to establish a firmer military foothold in the region and rope it into what is now a less ideological and more technocratic crusade, but one still global in its aspirations. U.S. military strategists, for instance, would very much like to have an airstrip in French Guyana or the part of Brazil that bulges out into the Atlantic. The Pentagon would use it as a stepping stone to its increasing presence in Africa, coordinating the work of Southcom with the newest global command, Africom.

But for now, South America has thrown a monkey wrench into the machine. Returning to that Washington Post map, it’s worth memorializing the simple fact that, in one part of the world, in this century at least, the sun never rose on US-choreographed torture."

La Media Luna

Leemos en el Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/baghdad-okays-syria-iran-natural-gas-pipeline) la siguiente noticia: 

"Baghdad okays Syria-Iran natural gas pipeline: 1,500 kilometer project will traverse Iraq, supply fuel to the Assad regime" 
"BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq has approved the construction of a natural gas pipeline across its territory that will connect Iran to key ally Syria. The move likely to strengthen Tehran’s influence over its neighbors.

The Iraqi Cabinet said in a statement Tuesday evening that it has instructed the country’s oil minister to sign a framework agreement for the $10 billion project, allowing the pipeline to move ahead.

The project is designed to supply gas from the giant South Pars field to Syria as well as other export markets.

Iran signed a preliminary deal to build the 1,500-kilometer (750-mile) pipeline in July 2011 as Syrian rebels were stepping up their fight to topple President Bashar Assad. Work on the project started in November.

After Russia, Iran has the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves."

La Media Luna Chiíta, que le dicen.