Arquivo mensal: maio 2014

Tipping the scale: how a political economist could save the world’s forests (Mongabay)

By: Wendee Nicole Special Reporting Initiative Fellow

May 29, 2014

Can Elinor Ostrom’s revolutionary ideas halt climate change, improve people’s livelihoods, and save the world’s forests?

“[T]here’s a five-letter word I’d like to repeat and repeat and repeat: Trust.”

Thus spoke Elinor Ostrom in her 2009 Stockholm lecture, when at age 77 she became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics. A professor of political science at Indiana University-Bloomington until her death in 2012, she’d spent a lifetime traveling the world and observing everyday citizens cooperating against all odds.

Ostrom's famous smile.  Photo courtesy of the International Land Coalition under a Creative Commons license from’s famous smile. Photo courtesy of the International Land Coalition under a Creative Commons license from

Ostrom frequently encountered groups of people managing commonly shared resources, creating systems based on trust, such as peasant farmers in Nepal cooperatively managing simple irrigation systems, and people working to solve human-wildlife conflict with forest elephants in Kenya. Why, she wondered, were these people sacrificing their own time and energy to collectively solve social and environmental problems, creating local institutions that lasted many generations? Such collective behavior flew in the face of the longstanding theory of the day, which said that people will selfishly take whatever they can, ultimately causing a “tragedy of the commons” – depleting fish stocks, destroying forests and pastures, usurping groundwater, and otherwise destroying the planet and ultimately, their own livelihoods. People, so the theory went, were too stupid or selfish to solve their own problems and needed regulation by market forces or a top-down government, or the planet was toast.

Yet through trial and error and much research, Ostrom had found the secret. “When people have trust that others are going to reciprocate and be trustworthy, including their officials, they will be highly cooperative,” Ostrom said in an interview with journalists after the Nobel Committee announced her prize. “When there’s no trust, no matter how much force is threatened, people won’t cooperate unless immediately facing a gun.” When people don’t trust others, they “cheat” – breaking rules and seeking their own self-interest.

In her 1990 book Governing the Commons – which the Nobel Committee called her most important contribution – Ostrom proposed eight “design principles” (see Sidebar) that she found were consistently present in sustainable, cooperatively managed commons (any resource shared by multiple people). Drawn from several decades of research, Ostrom’s insights stemmed from personally witnessing examples in the real world, but she named the specific principles by statistically analyzing thousands of published studies in many fields.

Ostrom found environmentally and socially sustainable ‘common pool resources’ had several of these principles in place.

Ostrom found environmentally and socially sustainable ‘common pool resources’ had several of these principles in place.

Ostrom devoted the last decades of her life to figuring out how to have sustainable communities and healthy ecosystems (particularly forests) – rather than humans and nature being at odds. She believed in the power and intelligenfce of ordinary people to collectively solve their own problems so long as higher-level governments did not interfere. Her alma mater, UCLA, called her “an ardent champion of the idea that people will learn to share and thrive if given the opportunity.”

“If given the opportunity” is key. Ostrom’s research did not find that people always cooperate. “There are settings in which they will grab like mad,” she explained in a video interview with “Humans are neither all angels or all devils. It is the context in which they find themselves that enables them to have more willingness to use reciprocity, to trust one another.”

“The resources in good condition around the world have users with long-term interest who invest in monitoring and building [trust]. I really want that to be a big lesson,” she said in the final moments of her Nobel lecture. “Unfortunately, many policy analysts and public officials haven’t absorbed the lesson yet, and that’s a problem.”

Ostrom’s work lives on at Indiana University’s Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, and in the many scholars and colleagues who continue to study, refine, and apply her theories in the real world. However, her untimely death from pancreatic cancer three years after receiving the highest honor in her field deprived her work of a folksy, outspoken, kind-hearted champion of the common man and woman.

“She had incredible energy and determination, and an easy way of communicating with ordinary people,” says her colleague Mike McGinnis, IU political science professor and Workshop member.

“VincentVincent and Elinor Ostrom Founded The Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis in the 1970s, where Lin co-directed it until her death in 2012. It is housed in an old house on the Indiana University-Bloomington campus, and Workshop members (professors, graduate students, postdocs, and visiting scholars) have offices in this as well as two neighboring buildings. Photo (c) copyright 2014 Wendee Nicole.

The Nobel brought Ostrom’s already robust theories greater acclaim, and the theories remain super-hot in academic circles, yet her lessons have yet to be fully absorbed into global policy. While many countries have now embraced some forms of decentralization – giving more power to regional and local authorities – these policies do not always mean local people are given more influene. And among the general public there remains a general lack of awareness of Ostrom’s revolutionary ideas; say “polycentricity” or “commons” to a friend, and watch their eyes glaze over.

Yet Ostrom’s theories cut across political party lines and offer deep, meaningful insights about how to manage forests, fisheries, and communities – all of which are in flux as global climate change may reach crisis proportions in the coming decades. In her latter years, Ostrom grew deeply concerned that the United Nations REDD+ [reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation] mechanism would lead to more, not less, deforestation if indigenous and local people are not given rights and land tenure, and she openly discussed the applicability of her research to global climate negotiations. Even though REDD+ policies are designed to benefit locals, without land tenure, those policies could lead to evictions of forest users when people with more power and wealth engage in a “carbon grab,” as a recently publishedreport called it.

“If local users and Indigenous peoples in the developing world are not recognized and assigned clear rights, REDD could lead to more deforestation,” Ostrom said at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen. Neglecting her work could be suicidal in times such as these.

Real Life vs. Theory

“AA portrait of Ostrom at the conference with the laureates of the memorial prize in economic sciences in 2009. Photo courtesy of Holger Motzkau 2010, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Understanding how cooperation and trust help people create sustainable social-ecological systems began to gel for Ostrom in the 1980s, during her travels around the world. “I came back from a particularly vivid occasion in Nepal … where someone had dug into an irrigation channel and several [people] went running down the hill yelling and screaming [at the perpetrator] and others started patching it immediately,” she says in the interview. “I mean, the energy they put in! There was no rational calculation about this. They just did it. The game theory prediction was they wouldn’t.”

She knew the theory must be wrong, because the real world was staring her in the face.

Game theory came into the public consciousness with the 2001 biopic A Beautiful Mind, about the life of Economics Nobel Laureate John Forbes Nash. The movie simplified his theory this way: most guys go for the best-looking girl (“the blonde”), resulting in a lot of losers since only one gets the girl. In a similar vein, biologist Garrett Hardin theorized in his famous 1968 Science article, “Tragedy of the Commons,” that people adding cows to a commonly used pasture would act selfishly, ignoring the collective good.

“Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit—in a world that is limited,” Hardin wrote, adding dramatically, “Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”

With daily news reporting razed tropical forests, biological extinctions, eroded and desertified land and an atmosphere rapidly accumulating CO2, it seems that these theories match reality. Why then, did Ostrom keep finding real-world situations that defied the predictions?

“ABatwa men and women in Uganda’s Makongoro village process reeds from the forest to weave baskets which they sell to make money for their families and communities. Now conservation refugees evicted from their traditional forest home, now they must receive permits from the Ugandan government to harvest forest products, but most are not educated and need assistance to fill out forms and paperwork. In contrast with Ostrom’s design principles, the government did not actively consult the Batwa when evicting them from the forest but chased them out with guns, giving no land or resources to establish new lives. Photo (c) copyright 2014 Wendee Nicole.

Taking Hardin, Nash and similar theorists to heart, policymakers opted for two opposite solutions to protecting the commons: privatize natural resources (leading to “payment for ecosystem services” type projects), or have governments lock natural areas up in preserves. The latter usually meant stripping rights from locals who had long used these commons for subsistence fishing or hunting, or in the case of forests, gathering firewood, medicinal plants, and other forest products. Many governments (supported by large conservation organizations) evicted indigenous peoples from their homeland in the belief they damaged ecosystems. Ostrom’s research found that such policies are sometimes counterproductive. Many of the evicted people receive little or no government assistance and end up as “conservation refugees,” adrift with nowhere to go and no means to support themselves.

In Uganda, indigenous Batwa forest pygmies lived within the Echuya Forest Reserve, acting as forest monitors for non-indigenous locals who could only access the forest once per week. Compared to four other community-managed forests where Batwa did not live, the Echuya forest experienced the least illegal firewood harvest and other non-sanctioned activities. Yet in 1992, Uganda evicted Batwa from all government forests in order to create national parks for tourism. Regaining rights to harvest forest products has been a slow, uneven process and these indigenous people now suffer some of the worst poverty in all of Uganda. As Ostrom’s theories would predict, evidence suggests that poaching and illegal access of the forest have increased since the Batwa were evicted.

Three young Batwa children run and play in their land adjacent to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Batwa were evicted by the government in 1991 and now live as conservation refugees outside the park, often in extreme poverty. Research by Workshop scholar Abwoli Banana (who runs the Uganda IFRI Center) showed that forests in which Batwa lived before their eviction had less, not more, forest degradation, than other community-managed forests, which matches Ostrom’s theories. Photo (c) copyright 2014 Wendee Nicole.

“There are environments, especially in some of the developing world, where [locals’] own institutions that had evolved over long periods of time were taken away from them. They’ve lived under top-down regimes and some of the trust and capability of working together have been destroyed,” Ostrom said in a documentary created about the 2009 Economics Nobel Laureates, herself and Oliver Williamson. “It’s very hard to re-establish [trust] once you’ve taken it away.” Ostroms found that taking rights away from locals and indigenous can lead to more, not less, forest degradation.

Lin the Connector

Described by The Economist as “a little like Agatha Christie’s detective, Jane Marple, apparently a bit sweet and scatty, in reality sharp as a paper cut,” Ostrom was remarkably far-sighted in her long, illustrious career.

“I’ve never met anyone like her in my life. She was a ball of energy,” says Burnell Fischer, her IU colleague and current co-director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, which Ostrom directed until she died in June 2012. (Her husband, Vincent Ostrom, died within weeks of Lin’s passing).

“She was connected to all kinds of people around the world, says Fischer.”

Ostrom not only knew people in varied fields the world over, she connected them – and their ideas. She was what Malcolm Gladwell would call a Connector, one of the rare few whose “ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, and energy” – the type of person who can spark a fire, tip the scales, and change the world. “By having a foot in so many different worlds,” writes Gladwell in The Tipping Point, “[connectors] have the effect of bringing them all together.”

“Stories of Ostrom’s collaborative genius are legion: suggesting just the right article or idea to jump-start a dissertation; making a contact that launches a recently minted Ph.D.’s career,” wrote Jeremy Shere in IU’s SPEA (School of Public and Environmental Affairs) magazine.

Born Elinor Awan, her life – and her interest in cooperation – began under less than ideal circumstances. Raised mainly by a single mom in Los Angeles during the Depression, she first saw people cooperating during the war, planting victory gardens and voluntarily limiting the use of their resources. Whatever passions drove her, Ostrom overcame obstacles throughout her life with a surprising degree of self-confidence. Peers taunted her over her father’s Jewish heritage, even though she attended her mother’s Protestant church, and setbacks she experienced as a woman in academia gave her much empathy for those who experience discrimination. Setbacks only seemed to push her forward.

Photo taken January 1992 of Vincent Ostrom, Tej Kumari Mahat (chair person of the FMIS in Sera-baguwa bandh irrigation system, Tharpu, Tanahu) and Elinor Ostrom in Tharpu village, Tanahu. Photo under the Digital Library of the Commons.

In an article about her life, Ostrom explains that because she stuttered in high school, a teacher told her to join Speech Club. When she recited poetry in the club, others called poetry a “sissy” thing, so she enrolled in debate instead. She loved debate so much that upon enrolling at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), she asked her undergraduate advisor if she could major in debating. He recommended education, ‘the best major for a girl.’ Her parents, neither of whom had attained a university degree, considered college a wasted investment, so she worked to pay her way. Her freshman year, she took a political science class and made it her major, despite the advisor’s advice. After graduating, she became the first woman with a job higher than secretary at a firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she helped her first husband through Harvard Law School. The first question asked in her interview was, “Do you know shorthand?”

After her divorce in the early 1960s, she returned to L.A. and was easily accepted in a political science Masters program at UCLA, but applying for a doctorate proved challenging. She wanted a Ph.D. in Economics, but did not have enough mathematics because her undergraduate advisors had dissuaded her from those classes. But soon she became one of four women – the first in 40 years — accepted into the political science Ph.D. program after the department faculty argued vehemently over whether to admit any women.

Lin – as everyone called her – met her second husband Vincent Ostrom in a seminar in which each student picked a groundwater basin in southern California to study. They soon fell in love, and married in 1963. She continued studying irrigation systems for her graduate research, and when Hardin published his famous “Tragedy of the Commons” article, she was immediately skeptical – and stayed so, eventually showing that his theory was wrong in many situations.

Lin followed Vincent to Indiana University, where he got a job as a tenure-track professor and she was hired only as a lecturer. As the Vietnam War escalated, the political science department asked her to serve as graduate advisor to some 90 students, at which point she negotiated to have IU hire her as a full-time faculty member.

During the 1970s, she and Vincent, who made furniture as a hobby, created the “Workshop in Political Theory”, modeled after an artisan-style woodworkers’ workshop, where people from varied disciplines could collaborate, brainstorm, and hammer out ideas. The workshop and the offices the Ostroms filled with their larger-than-life personalities are located in a large old house on the IU-Bloomington campus.

Design for the Commons

People in many academic fields and nations had studied the use of “common pool resources” or commons (any resource that is used in common with others), but since disciplinary and regional “silos” rarely communicate, nobody had synthesized the information to develop a unified understanding. “Historians, anthropologists, economists, political scientists – a vast array of people had written sometimes long histories or descriptions,” Ostrom said in her Nobel talk, “but they wrote about a particular sector or a particular region of the world.”

In the mid-1980s, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences gathered researchers from varied fields together, including Ostrom, to compile data on the management of common pool resources around the world. The NAS work resulted in the Common Pool Resource Database, still online, and Ostrom’s book, Governing the Commons. As she tested what made people cooperate and self-organize and worked on her book while on a sabbatical in Germany, she became exasperated.

“I tried like mad to see statistically, aha, the market always works, or hierarchy always works, or entry limitation [barriers to the number of people allowed in a system] always works,” she said in the Nobel documentary. “I really struggled.”

Photo taken March 1993 of elephant embankment platform in Ghadgain, (L to R) Indra Sharan K.C., Douglas Vermillion, Elinor Ostrom and Rabi Poudel during the final day of Workshop outing to the RCNP. Photo under the <a href=>Digital Library of the Commons</a>.
Photo taken March 1993 of elephant embankment platform in Ghadgain, (L to R) Indra Sharan K.C., Douglas Vermillion, Elinor Ostrom and Rabi Poudel during the final day of Workshop outing to the RCNP. Photo under the Digital Library of the Commons.

“I tried to move up a level – [to ask] what were the generalities across the systems,” she explained in the interview. “Maybe we could call it best practices.” These became her eight design principles present in successful “institutions” and missing from unsuccessful ones.

The design principles include allowing the people most invested in the resource to both make and modify the rules of use; having clear, agreed-upon rules that outside authorities respect and that do not conflict with other levels of governance; allowing the users of a resource to monitor its use; having a system of graduated sanctions; and cheap, accessible means of conflict resolution. In the words of Tore Ellingsen of the Economics Nobel Committee, “successful groups are relatively democratic.”

“When rules are created and enforced by outside authorities, groups often fail to utilize resources efficiently,” added Ellingsen. “In part, such outside interventions fail because the interventions pay inadequate attention to local conditions.”

As Ostrom teased out her design principles from thousands of studies, including her own, she wanted to test what she saw in a simplified lab setting. “I was very fortunate that [IU Economics professor] Jimmy Walker came to Bloomington just as I was getting hungry for [asking], how would we ever put these things in a carefully developed laboratory experiment?,” she said in a 2009 interview with the Annual Review of Political Science. “It’s enabled us to take things that I observed in the field, then … go to the lab and test [it]. Was this just an unusual set of things that I saw in the field, or would you find it repeated under situations that were very carefully designed?”

Not Just Cheap Talk

As it turns out, Ostrom’s real-world observations matched what she and her colleagues found in their social science lab experiments beginning in the 1980s: communication completely changed the classic game theory predictions that the optimal behavior was to act selfishly or “cheat” rather than cooperate. In each experiment, eight people sat at computers and had the ability to “invest” either in a commonly shared resource, or in a private fund. The commons paid better – up to a point – just like a pasture that is vulnerable to overcrowding, or a forest that can be used sustainably or overharvested.

“When subjects … couldn’t communicate, the theory was right. They overharvested even worse than predicted,” Ostrom describes in her Nobel lecture. “However, when they could communicate face to face, theory was wrong.” Trust could be achieved through simple communication. It was a radical breakthrough: the commons need not be a tragedy.

Unlike a prisoners’ dilemma (as John Nash’s theory was often modeled), where people are, well, in prison, they often hold the power to change their circumstances in the real world. Ostrom boldly challenged the longstanding theories depicting people as always trapped or “rationally” self-interested – and with sarcasm to boot. “[T]hose attempting to use these models as a basis for policy prescription frequently have achieved little more than a metaphorical use of the models,” she writes in Governing the Commons. She calls such models “dangerous” when used as a foundation for policy because they assume “all users of natural resources are similarly incapable of changing their constraints.”

With characteristic optimism Ostrom concludes, “I would rather address the question of how to enhance the capabilities of those involved to change the constraining rules of the game to lead to outcomes other than remorseless tragedies.”

And who better to change the rules of the game than the people most invested in a resource? “Here we had this notion that rational individuals were ‘trapped’,” said Ostrom in her Nobel lecture. “Us theorists were supposed to come up with the optimal solution, give it to a public official and they’d impose it. And there were only two solutions: government or private ownership.”

Why did experts and authorities have solutions but ordinary citizens didn’t? It defied what she’d seen around the world. Even Hardin himself later admitted his theory of tragedy only applied to “Unmanaged Commons.”

Design for a Sustainable World

Methodist Primary School building. Elinor Ostrom standing in a school room with one teacher and one student posing in front of the blackboard. Photo under the Digital Library of the Commons.

As Ostrom became more involved in ecology and forestry research in the 1990s, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) came to her, wanting systematic information on global forests and the people depending on them. She founded the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) research network, still the only interdisciplinary, long-term research program focusing on both forests and social-ecological conditions. Researchers in the 15 centers around the world – including Tanzania, Uganda, Bolivia, Nepal, and India – use a common set of research protocols to facilitate global research.

In the last decade of her life, Ostrom became increasingly vocal about how her findings applied to climate negotiations, particularly REDD+ policies, which many indigenous groups oppose. REDD is a “market” mechanism, which compensates landowners either to maintain existing forest or plant new trees, but indigenous and locals relying on forests fear it may concentrate wealth in the hands of a few and cause conflict among neighbors. Also, many indigenous and local forest dwellers do not have formal tenure rights to the land they live on and use, which REDD requires; international markets are unable to compensate people who do not have secure land ownership, which offers no guarantee forests will remain intact.

Having seen how powerful governments and, environmental groups have at times trampled the rights of locals and indigenous groups, Ostrom was concerned. “I hope in our negotiations that … we are very, very careful to be sure that the rights of indigenous people and local owners that have not been recognized in the past are recognized, protected, and that they’re given a chance to get technical advice,” she said at COP15.

At the time, REDD policies were still being negotiated, and since the Warsaw framework for REDD+ was passed in November 2013, such projects have started around the world. But Ostrom’s research suggests that if REDD+ policies are merely designed by top-level authorities, without involvement of the local people who use the forests, the policies will fail to create the trust necessary for sustainable community-managed forests, and could instead lead to forest degradation and loss.

Ostrom had strong views on REDD, but according to her colleagues she was not anti-market, despite what some detractors have claimed. Neither is she anti-state, although her work has been both praised and criticized by people of varying political bents.

“Lin’s work has been misunderstood and misrepresented by advocates on both the left and the right,” explains McGinnis. “I vividly recall one day shortly after she received the Nobel when she came down from her office really frustrated because she had just completed two phone interviews. In one the reporter asked her why she was so vehemently anti-market, and in the very next interview she was asked why she was so vehemently anti-state. Her findings never fit neatly within the dominant left-right political discourse in the U.S., and she was very comfortable with that lack of fit.”

The Test of Time

Framed pencil drawing of Elinor Ostrom that hang at the University of Mande Bukari. Photo under the Digital Library of the Commons.

Since they were first published in 1990, Ostrom’s design principles have stood the test of time. “Pretty much all [the design principles] have some degree of support,” says IU Anthropology professor Catherine Tucker, and also a Workshop member. “Some are harder to examine because they’re harder to find in the modern world, such as the lack of state intervention. The freedom to design institutions without interference from the state – that’s one that’s problematic [to test].”

Too often, though, top-down governments interfere with the solutions locals have crafted, as happens when governments evict indigenous people from their homelands, or government corruption wreaks havoc on local projects. Local projects can succeed even if higher governments are not supporting them, so long as they do not interfere.

One design principle with very strong empirical support is having locals monitor the use of a resource. “In sustainable forests around the world, the users are the active monitors of the level of harvest occurring in the forests,” Ostrom explained in her Nobel lecture. But the effectiveness of the monitoring depends on who does it. “Users monitoring forests is more [effective] than when government does it.” Also, as Ostrom saw in Nepal, resource users sanction others, but in a graduated way for repeat offenses. Draconian punishment for first-time infractions ends up causing mistrust and resentment, leading to less willingness to cooperate, she found.

Having outlined her big-picture design principles, Ostrom also identified the factors influencing whether people will cooperate and trust. “Field and lab experiments found that communication among participants, the reputation of participants being known, high marginal return, a longer time horizon so if [people] cooperate [they] really have a chance of gaining the benefits over time, [and] an agreed upon sanctioning mechanism,” as well as entry and exit capability (the ability of resource users to begin or end their participation), “are the factors that we repeatedly find have a strong impact on levels of cooperation.”

Eye to the Future

“A lot of people are now waiting for international negotiations to solve [the climate crisis],” she said, responding to a journalist’s question about the implications of her work in a recorded interview after the Nobel announcement. “That’s again this presumption that there are public officials who are genius and the rest of us are not. It is going to be important that there is an international agreement, but we can be taking steps at family level, community level, regional level, provincial, state, national, and there are many steps that have already been taken that are not going to solve it themselves but cumulatively can make a big difference.”

Indiana University-Blooomington Professors Mike McGinnis and Burnell Fischer near the Ostrom Room inside the The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis on campus.
Indiana University-Blooomington Professors Mike McGinnis and Burnell Fischer near the Ostrom Room inside the The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis on campus. Photo (c) copyright 2014 Wendee Nicole.

For example, even without federal emissions-reductions targets, at least 30 U.S. states have developed climate action plans and more than 1,000 cities have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Individuals, communities, and groups can also take action.

Ostrom’s stance hails from her discovery that “polycentric” governance is the most effective way to govern – a concept first developed by Vincent in the 1960s. Polycentricity refers to having multiple levels of governance in place; for example, local people solve dilemmas while interacting in a cooperative manner with laws and regulations at regional, national and sometimes international levels. In an article written in the days leading up to the 2012 UN Rio 20+ Summit and published on the date of her death, Ostrom wrote, “Inaction in Rio would be disastrous, but a single international agreement would be a grave mistake… Decades of research demonstrate that a variety of overlapping policies at city, subnational, national, and international levels is more likely to succeed than are single, overarching binding agreements.”

Academics continue Ostrom’s research, but whether her findings get incorporated into policy in time to solve some of the world’s pressing issues remains to be seen. The morning Ostrom died, IU President Michael A. McRobbie called her “an irreplaceable and magnificent treasure,” and George Mason University professor of Economics and Philosophy Pete Boettke posted a fitting tribute to her legacy for the scholars who have studied under her, alongside her, and who continue the research she began. “Lin leaves behind a tremendous intellectual legacy,” Boettke wrote. “We have much work to do, and we will honor her by getting on with that task…Think about how much can be accomplished when the very best of us exhibit such traits and set the example for all the rest of us to strive to emulate.”

Elinor and Vincent Ostrom at Yuan Ming Yuan Gardens. Photo under the <a href=>Digital Library of the Commons</a>.
Elinor and Vincent Ostrom at Yuan Ming Yuan Gardens. Photo under the Digital Library of the Commons.

Rio Grapples With Violence Against Police Officers as World Cup Nears (New York Times)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Alda Rafael Castilho dreamed of being a psychologist, and joined the police force to pay for her studies. Her dream ended at age 27 when gunmen stormed the outpost where she was on duty in Complexo do Alemão, a sprawling patchwork of slums. A bullet pierced her abdomen, and she bled to death.

“They left her there to squirm on the ground like some sort of animal,” said her mother, Maria Rosalina Rafael Castilho, 59, a maid who lives in the gritty outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. “The politicians talk about the pride of hosting the World Cup, but that is an insult,” she said. “They can’t even protect their own police, much less the visitors to Rio.”

With the start of the global soccer tournament in Brazil less than two weeks away, a crime wave is setting nerves on edge across Rio de Janeiro, which is expecting nearly 900,000 visitors. A security overhaul was supposed to showcase a safer Rio on the global stage, but muggings are surging, homicides are climbing, and there has been a spike in shootings of police officers.

Maria Rosalina Rafael Castilho holding a picture of her daughter Alda Rafael Castilho, a police officer who was shot and killed in Rio de Janeiro in February.CreditAna Carolina Fernandes for The New York Times

At least 110 officers have been shot in Rio so far this year, an increase of nearly 40 percent from the same period last year, according to figures compiled independently by the Brazilian journalist Roberta Trindade with the help of police officers. Most of the episodes involved on-duty officers, but in some cases, off-duty officers were shot in assaults when they were identified as police.

In one bloody 16-day stretch in May, Ms. Trindade recorded 14 shootings of police officers, including two who were killed. Altogether, at least 30 on-duty and off-duty police officers have been shot dead this year, she said, including Ms. Castilho, the aspiring psychologist.

The security forces have been trying to reclaim territory in the city from the control of heavily armed drug gangs, and until recently, the deployment of special teams called Pacifying Police Units in dozens of favelas was viewed as a major achievement. But the officers have come under increasing attack in these “pacified” favelas, and the security gains are eroding.

Effectively acknowledging that Rio’s stretched police force cannot guarantee security for the World Cup, state officials have turned to the national government for help, asking for 5,300 troops from the armed forces to help patrol city streets, the way troops did for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.

Officials contend that Rio is still safer than it used to be, despite the setbacks and the request for troops, and they point out that other Latin American cities like Caracas, Venezuela, or Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and even some Brazilian cities like Salvador, have higher homicide rates. In Rio, the rate was 20.5 per 100,000 residents last year, well below the rate of 37.8 per 100,000 recorded in 2007 before the security push into the favelas. During that time, the number of police officers in the city and the surrounding state rose to 47,710 from 37,950.

“We’re still distant from the earlier levels of criminality,” said Roberto Sá, a senior security official of the state government. “There are areas where an actual war had to be waged just for the police to enter. Now the police can do so without so many personnel because drug traffickers are losing their territorial bases.”

Contending that the new crime wave is an anomaly, Mr. Sá pointed to the state’s measure of armed attacks on the police, which is limited to officers killed on duty: seven so far this year. While that figure was regrettable, he said, the killings often get little notice in the Brazilian news media, while in many other countries, “the people who die become heroes.”

“I know it is undesirable, but we live in this kind of culture in Latin America, one of violence and criminality,” he said. “We have to understand that this is the reality.”

The challenge facing the police here was thrown into sharp relief in February when the commander of Rio’s “pacification” police forces, Col. Frederico Caldas, was caught in a gun battle in Rocinha, one of Rio’s largest slums. He dove to the ground to avoid a spray of bullets, and wound up having to undergo surgery to remove fragments of rock and plastic from one of his eyes.

Homicides rose 17 percent last year in Rio de Janeiro State, the first increase since 2010. The state recorded 4,761 homicides, with 1,323 of them in the city; by contrast, New York City, with a larger population than Rio, recorded 333 homicides in the same period.

A Pacifying Police Unit officer in Rio de Janeiro. At least 110 officers have been shot so far this year, an increase of nearly 40 percent from the same period last year. CreditMario Tama/Getty Images

A surge in street crime is also jolting residents. Street robberies and vehicle thefts increased sharply this year to levels higher than when the favela pacification program began in 2008, according to official figures. There were 20,252 reported muggings of pedestrians in the first quarter this year, up 46.5 percent from a year earlier.

On Rio’s streets, on television and across social media in Brazil, the crime wave is playing out in ways that are at once surreal and horrific.

A crew from the television network Globo recently interviewed a woman near Rio’s old center on the subject of crime, and in the middle of the interview, an assailant tried to rip a necklace from her neck.

In another episode that tested some residents’ faith in the Rio police, a driver recorded video footage on his smartphone showing the body of a woman hanging out of a police vehicle and being dragged along the pavement through traffic.

The police officers in the vehicle claimed they were taking the woman, a 38-year-old favela resident from the northern part of the city, to a hospital after she suffered gunshot wounds. They said they had not noticed that her body was dangling from the rear of their vehicle. However, an investigation concluded that the woman had been shot and killed by two of the officers, though not intentionally.

Military police officers stood during a presentation of troops that are responsible for security ahead of the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.CreditPilar Olivares/Reuters

“The legitimacy of the police is at a disturbingly low point,” said Luiz Eduardo Soares, a former top security official in Rio. “The pacification process simply shifted crime to other parts of Rio’s metropolitan area. Now we’re seeing the police coming under attack even in the favelas, which they are calling pacified.”

Security experts attribute some of the animosity toward the police to the resilience of drug gangs like Comando Vermelho, which originated in a Rio prison in the 1970s, and the growth of smaller criminal groups like Terceiro Comando Puro, formed after a split from Comando Vermelho in the 1980s.

Police officers say their jobs are made harder by inadequate training and low pay. But at the same time, the persistence of brutal police tactics, involving the abduction and torture of some residents, contributes to the anger against the police in some communities.

In Rocinha, the hillside favela overlooking some of Rio’s most exclusive residential districts, the disappearance last year of Amarildo de Souza, a 42-year-old construction worker, set off street protests. Investigators found that he was given electric shocks and asphyxiated with a plastic bag after police officers detained him in during a sweep of drug-trafficking suspects.

To the further outrage of many here, investigators said Maj. Edson Santos, the police commander in Rocinha at the time, bribed two witnesses in the case to say that drug traffickers were to blame for what happened to Mr. de Souza.

“This honeymoon within a large part of Rio’s population and the media was deeply shaken,” said Julita Lemgruber, a former director of Rio’s penitentiary system, referring to the hopes raised by security gains in recent years. “The case of Amarildo was a turning point.”

Brazil’s World Cup Is An Expensive, Exploitative Nightmare (The Daily Beast)

Andre Penner/AP


Brazilians angry at their government and FIFA could turn this giant soccer tournament into a tipping point. Are these corrupt, elitist spectacles worth it?

The world’s “beautiful game” is about to stage its biggest tournament in the country that is its spiritual home. The realities on the ground in Brazil, however, are far different from how its ringmasters had envisioned. Stadiums haven’t been completed; roads and airports not built. Ten thousand visiting journalists may find themselves unable to make deadlines due to poor Internet and mobile service.

More ominously, there is a rising tide of discontent that threatens to turn the streets into war zones. History may well record the World Cup in Brazil as the tipping point where the costs meant the party just wasn’t worth it anymore.Nao Vai Ter Copa has become a national rallying cry. There Will Be No World Cup. People want bread, not circuses. It’s OK to love the game, but hate the event. The governing body of the game, FIFA, is not amused.

* *

Events like World Cup and the Olympics have become obscenely expensive, with few trickle-down rewards to the citizens who bear the brunt of the costs for the benefit of the few. The people of South America’s largest country were promised the dawn of a new age of prosperity that these mega-events heralded. In a country where corruption is insidious, all-encompassing, and a virus that suffocates all semblance of progress, it is bricks, steel, and mortar that the people see, not new hospitals, schools, or public transport. Even then, Itaquerao stadium, as an example, won’t be ready in time for the opening kickoff in São Paulo on June 12. “Is this what we get for $11 billion?” the people are asking. It is a fair question.

A new type of democracy has sprung up as a result; a unity of thought and expression that is uniquely Brazilian. Citizen collectives with names like Direitos Urbanos (Urban Rights) and the Landless Workers Movement (MTST) were formed to create avenues of options for people who have had to make way forordem e progressothe national motto of Brazil inscribed on the flag. Order and Progress.

U.S. journalist Dave Zirin, in his recent book Brazils Dance With the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics and Brazils Fight for Democracy, says the three Ds—displacement, debt, and defense—are at the heart of the other Ds—such as discontent and disgust.

“The calls for protest aim to highlight the pain as well as show the world who is behind the curtain, pulling the strings,” he said. “There is a highly sophisticated plan that just as the government’s World Cup plans for Brazil are designed for international consumption, there is also an unprecedented global spotlight. The great journalist Eduardo Galeano once wrote, ‘There are visible and invisible dictators. The power structure of world football is monarchical. It’s the most secret kingdom in the world. Protesters aim to drag FIFA from the shadows and into the light. If they are successful, it will leave a legacy that will last longer than the spectacle itself.’”

During a congressional hearing by Brazil’s tourism and sports commission this year, former FIFA World Player of the Year and 1994 World Cup winner Romario, now a popular politician and member of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, was quoted as saying, “We can’t expect anything from FIFA, where we have a blackmailer called [General Secretary Jerome] Valcke and a corrupt thief and son-of-a-bitch called [President Sepp] Blatter.”

* *

Yan Boechat writes for the top news magazine in Brazil, Revista Istoe. Among his previous assignments were stints in war zones like Afghanistan and the Congo. He will be covering the action on the streets during the World Cup.

“A lot of money was spent on construction of things we don’t really need,” Boechat said. “There’s a big stadium in Manaus, a place without a football culture and not even a team in the first or second division. The government removed hundreds of thousands of poor people from their houses to make space for stadiums, roads to lead to them, and other construction projects. Most of these people were sent to places far away from the city centers.”

Photojournalist Ana Lira is from the northeastern city of Recife and a founding member of Urban Rights. She has meticulously documented the bulldozing and burning of poor neighborhoods and the infamous favelas, the shantytowns that dot the hills of Rio and streets of São Paulo.

“So far 27 people have died in the protests, with more than 300 wounded since last year,” she said. “In this number, there are two professional photographers and a journalist who was blinded after being hit in the eye deliberately by the police. They used rubber bullets. Some other professionals were hit or arrested in areas near the protests just because the police wanted someone to pay for the protests.”

“If Brazil does well on the field, then perhaps people will be happy and not protest as much. But if Brazil fails, they will be much larger. There will be violence.”

“We are now seeing a new wave of protesters coming to the streets,” Boechat added. “Teachers, street cleaners, police officers, unions, a movement for affordable housing—all those people are going to be on the streets during the World Cup. They see this as the right moment to fight for their interests. Those groups do not traditionally mix with the anarchists and anti-capitalists.”

This week that number included about 3,000 indigenous peoples in tribal dress, gathering in front of the new stadium in the nation’s capital, Brasilia.

“For whom does our government work?” one of the indigenous leaders, Lindomar Terena, asked the crowd. “Instead of the government standing for the federal constitution and finally ending the demarcation of indigenous lands, it is investing billions in an event that lasts for a month, prioritizing big businesses over ancestral peoples’ rights.”

* *

A new anti-terror law has been rushed through the Brazilian congress to deal with the protesters. It has been nicknamed Bill A1-5, a takeoff on the 1968 AI-5 Act, which gave extraordinary powers to the military junta and suspended key civil and constitutional guarantees for more than 20 years. The implementation of such a law opened old wounds. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was a member of a Marxist revolutionary group after the 1964 military coup d’état in Brazil. She was captured, imprisoned for two years, and reportedly tortured. It is a very important narrative for Brazilians. Her complicity in allowing the World Cup to proceed at the expense of the Brazilian poor is seen as a sellout of the poor to the rich.

* *

At the vanguard of the protests has been the galvanizing effect of social media. Websites like Portal Popular da Copa e das Olympiadas, and by citizen-journalist movements like Midia Ninja,  a Portuguese acronym for “independent narratives, journalism and action,” created to spark disparate movements across the country.

“We’ll be on the streets, covering all political and cultural movements, the passion for football and this new moment of political unrest,” says Rafael Vilela, a founder of the Midia Ninja collective. Their hub is an aggregate of photographs and eyewitness reports taken by hundreds of collectives. The portal will have a system of simultaneous translation in three languages including English.

Midia Ninja and Fora do Eixo (Outside the Axis), a music and cultural collective, have created a community called Cinelandia in downtown Rio, where people can come in, play music, debate, write their blogs, and edit cellphone videos and post them online. There are edit suites mounted on shopping carts, and portable generators to power them. The protests can be seen live on the Internet via Twittercast.

“We’ve managed to do a lot with very few resources except our creativity and collaboration,” says Felipe Altenfelder, a founder of the FDE collective. “Never before has our generation been more prepared in terms of social technology and social knowledge. What we are doing is totally new in Latin America. The various collectives across Brazil have a structure of sharing food, money, even clothes, so even the poorest people can work within our groups and not just survive—but participate in actions against social injustices 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Director Spike Lee has been in Brazil working on a documentary, Go Brazil Go, in which Felipe, Rafael and other members of Midia Ninja figure prominently.

* *

There are 170,000 or more security troops assigned to the World Cup—not to protect the thousands of tourists who will be coming to Brazil to watch the matches, but to quell dissent. Among them are a group of 40 FBI agents, part of an “anti-terror” unit. In January, French riot police were brought in to train their Brazilian counterparts. There are several Israeli drones, the ones used to chase down suspects in the West Bank, as well as 50 robotic bomb-disposal units most recently used by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. There are also facial-recognition goggles that police can use to spot 400 faces a second and match them against a database of 13 million. But there won’t be that many tourists, so exactly whom, people want to know, are the police checking? At a cost of nearly $1 billion, the international composition of the security measures is not only a contentious issue among Brazilians, but a cruel irony given FIFA’s mandate of bringing the world together through football.

* *

“If Brazil does well on the field, then perhaps people will be happy and not protest as much,” said Boechat. “But if Brazil loses, there will be big problems and civil unrest. I think the way we play the World Cup will define a lot of things that will happen outside the stadia. We’re going to have protests; that’s for sure. But if Brazil fails, they will be much larger. There will be violence.”

As the Roman emperors knew during the staging of the gladiator games at the Coliseum, so FIFA knows now: The mob must be appeased. Remember when South Korea beat Italy in the 2002 World Cup and the Ecuadorian referee later admitted taking money from South Korean officials? Or the most dubious of all: Argentina’s win over Peru by six goals in the 1978 World Cup, the exact margin required to proceed in the tournament. The chiefs of the military junta had gathered in Buenos Aires to watch and a Peruvian goalkeeper of Argentinian extraction duly had a nightmare evening. Corrupt to the core.

FIFA wants a show, not protests. They know Brazil has to win to keep people quiet. President Rousseff knows that with an election coming up later in the year, her chances of winning would be a lot better with a sixth Brazilian World Cup win.

In the end, there is always the financial aspect of the biggest show on earth. Goldman Sachs strategist Peter Oppenheimer said the company’s analysts have found that, according to past history, the winning country’s equity markets outperform global stocks by 3.5 percent on average in the first month after winning, “although the outperformance fades significantly after three months.”

Brazil will beat Argentina 3-1 in the final after they see off Germany and Spain in their respective semifinals, Goldman analysts including Jan Hatzius and Sven Jari Stehn said in a report. The host nation has a 48.5 percent probability of winning the FIFA tournament, followed by Argentina at 14.1 percent and Germany at 11.4 percent.

These are bankers, not bookies.

A report like this can lead the mind to extreme cynicism about how and why games are determined.

* *

Unlike in the U.S., where soccer is a game of the middle classes, the roots offootball are firmly entrenched in the working-class neighborhoods and slums of places like Buenos Aires, Lagos, Rio, and, at its birth, in the towns and cities of Industrial Revolution-era Britain. The qualities of energy, zest, improvisation and enterprise needed to survive in such environments created a cauldron of bubbling passion for the game. It’s only soccer, but it is also about liberation. Former Manchester United star Eric Cantona was in Rio filming his seventh documentary, which will be screened at the first-ever Amnesty Football Film Festival in the U.K. In an interview with Amnesty in Paris, the always-outspoken Frenchman lamented the possibility of Brazilian football losing its greatest legacy of all.

“I have been in Maracanã [in Rio, site of the final] before, and I loved Maracanã. But now it is just a stadium like the Emirates Stadium [in London] or Stade de France. And they say, ‘It’s a revolution for us, we have to educate the people to sit.’ But they don’t want to sit, they just want to stand up and sing and dance.” Those who want to sing and dance can’t afford to go anymore, he says. But it is a shame because it’s these kinds of fans who created football and it’s these kind of fans who have a child who will play football,” said Cantona. “Because most of the people, most of the players come from poor areas. To be a footballer, you need to train every day when you are a kid, you need to go in the street and play in the street every day.”

So as the clock winds down to the opening kickoff on June 12 when Brazil will play Croatia, there is a profound melancholy that permeates the emotions of soccer fans. We love the game. We love the World Cup. We love the way it was.

I love its drama,” wrote the great Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby, “its smooth playing skills, its carelessly laid rhythms, and the added flavor of contrasting styles. Its great occasions are, for me at any rate, unequalled in the world of sport. I feel a sense of romance, wonder, and mystery, a sense of beauty and a sense of poetry. On such occasions, the game has the timeless, magical qualities of legend.”

Some of my greatest life memories come from the World Cup, but there also comes a time when the massive show, fueled by corporate might, is overshadowed by the engine of social and political change. Brazil was under a military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985. Democracy is relatively new. What is beginning to emerge is Brazil at an adolescent stage as part of a national rite of passage. The World Cup may yet precipitate the maturing of a nation. In spite of FIFA’s best efforts to act as a shadow government.

Extinção de espécies está dez mil vezes mais veloz do que se imaginava, alerta pesquisa (O Globo)

JC e-mail 4963, de 30 de maio de 2014

Ação humana sobre a natureza é tão destruidora quanto o fenômeno que causou o fim dos dinossauros

A ação humana acelerou em mil vezes a extinção de espécies, de acordo com um estudo publicado esta semana na revista “Science”. Novas tecnologias para mapear o desmatamento e a destruição de habitats permitiram uma revisão dos números que serviam como base para encontros internacionais, como a Convenção sobre Diversidade Biológica (CBD).

Se não houver ações urgentes, o impacto provocado pelo homem no meio ambiente causaria a sexta maior extinção em massa da História do planeta – uma das anteriores foi o desaparecimento dos dinossauros.

Não é simples estimar quantas espécies foram extintas desde o início do século XX, já que, segundo estimativas, apenas 3,6% delas são conhecidas pelos cientistas. Para calcular a velocidade das extinções, os cientistas criaram um modelo matemático levando em conta o percentual de desaparição das espécies conhecidas em relação a sua população total e extrapolaram os resultados.

O estudo defende que a Lista Vermelha de Espécies Ameaçadas seja radicalmente ampliada – a publicação abrigaria 160 mil espécies que correm o risco de extinção, em vez de 70 mil, como ocorre hoje. Esta atualização da listagem pode levar à criação de novas políticas de conservação ambiental.

– Hoje temos novas tecnologias para detectar o desmatamento e analisar o deslocamento de cada espécie – avalia Clinton Jones, coautor do estudo e pesquisador do Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas do Brasil (Ipê). – A maioria vive fora das áreas protegidas, por isso a compreensão da mudança de seus ecossistemas é vital. É uma oportunidade para atualizar mapas sobre os impactos e as ameaças a cada área.

Coautor do levantamento, Stuart Limm, professor de Ecologia de Conservação da Universidade de Duke (EUA), ressalta que ainda existe uma “cratera” entre o que os pesquisadores sabem e o que ignoram sobre a biodiversidade do planeta. A tecnologia, no entanto, está preenchendo este espaço, além de estender o acesso a dados científicos para amadores. Bancos de dados on-line e até aplicativos de smartphones facilitam a identificação de espécies.

– Quando combinamos informações sobre o uso da terra com as observações de milhões de cientistas amadores, conseguimos acompanhar melhor a biodiversidade e suas ameaças – assinala. – No entanto, precisamos desenvolver tecnologias ainda mais sofisticadas para sabermos qual é a taxa de extinção das espécies.

Espaço restrito
O homem eliminou os principais predadores e outras grandes espécies. As savanas africanas, por exemplo, já cobriram 13,5 milhões de km². Agora, os leões dispõem de somente 1 milhão de km². Trata-se de um exemplo de como a restrição do espaço colabora para as extinções.

– Sabemos que muitas espécies terrestres ocupam pequenas áreas, algumas menores do que o Estado do Rio. – alerta Jones. – Espécies distribuídas em pequenas regiões estão mais vulneráveis à extinção. Precisamos concentrar nossos projetos de conservação nestes locais.

Um dos pontos mais críticos é a Mata Atlântica, uma das 34 regiões do planeta onde há maior número de espécies exclusivas – ou seja, aquelas que só ocorrem naquele local – enfrentando risco de extinção.

– A floresta remanescente está degradada e há muitas espécies exclusivas em todos os seus ambientes, do solo às montanhas – destaca Jones. – Sua preservação deve ser uma prioridade mundial.

Os oceanos são ainda menos preservados. Somente 2% de suas espécies seriam conhecidas.

(Renato Grandelle / O Globo)

Outra matéria sobre o assunto:

Folha de São Paulo
Homem acelerou ritmo de extinções em mil vezes

Domestication of Dogs May Explain Mammoth Kill Sites and the Success of Early Modern Humans (The Pennsylvania State University)

Pat Shipman and Barbara K. Kennedy

May 30, 2014

a dog's skullA fragment of a large bone, probably from a mammoth, Pat Shipman reports, was placed in this dog’s mouth shortly after death. This finding suggests the animal was according special mortuary treatment, perhaps acknowledging its role in mammoth hunting. The fossil comes from the site of Predmosti, in the Czech republic, and is about 27,000 years B.P. old. This object is one of three canid skulls from Predmosti that were identified as dogs based on analysis of their morphology. Photo credit: Anthropos Museum, Brno, the Czech Republic, courtesy of Mietje Germonpre.

29 May 2014 — A new analysis of European archaeological sites containing large numbers of dead mammoths and dwellings built with mammoth bones has led Penn State Professor Emerita Pat Shipman to formulate a new interpretation of how these sites were formed. She suggests that their abrupt appearance may have been due to early modern humans working with the earliest domestic dogs to kill the now-extinct mammoth — a now-extinct animal distantly related to the modern-day elephant. Shipman’s analysis also provides a way to test the predictions of her new hypothesis. Advance publication of her article “How do you kill 86 mammoths?” is available online throughQuaternary International.

Spectacular archaeological sites yielding stone tools and extraordinary numbers of dead mammoths — some containing the remains of hundreds of individuals — suddenly became common in central and eastern Eurasia between about 45,000 and 15,000 years ago, although mammoths previously had been hunted by humans and their extinct relatives and ancestors for at least a million years. Some of these mysterious sites have huts built of mammoth bones in complex, geometric patterns as well as piles of butchered mammoth bones.

“One of the greatest puzzles about these sites is how such large numbers of mammoths could have been killed with the weapons available during that time,” Shipman said. Many earlier studies of the age distribution of the mammoths at these sites found similarities with modern elephants killed by hunting or natural disasters, but Shipman’s new analysis of the earlier studies found that they lacked the statistical evaluations necessary for concluding with any certainty how these animals were killed.

Surprisingly, Shipman said, she found that “few of the mortality patterns from these mammoth deaths matched either those from natural deaths among modern elephants killed by droughts or by culling operations with modern weapons that kill entire family herds of modern elephants at once.” This discovery suggested to Shipman that a successful new technique for killing such large animals had been developed and its repeated use over time could explain the mysterious, massive collections of mammoth bones in Europe.

hand-drawn mapThese maps show the locations of collections of mammoth bones at the archaeological sites that Pat Shipman analyzed in her paper that will be published in the journal Quaternary International. Credit: Jeffrey Mathison. 

The key to Shipman’s new hypothesis is recent work by a team led by Mietje Germonpré of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, which has uncovered evidence that some of the large carnivores at these sites were early domesticated dogs, not wolves as generally had been assumed. Then, with this evidence as a clue, Shipman used information about how humans hunt with dogs to formulate a series of testable predictions about these mammoth sites.

“Dogs help hunters find prey faster and more often, and dogs also can surround a large animal and hold it in place by growling and charging while hunters move in. Both of these effects would increase hunting success,” Shipman said. “Furthermore, large dogs like those identified by Germonpré either can help carry the prey home or, by guarding the carcass from other carnivores, can make it possible for the hunters to camp at the kill sites.” Shipman said that these predictions already have been confirmed by other analyses. In addition, she said, “if hunters working with dogs catch more prey, have a higher intake of protein and fat, and have a lower expenditure of energy, their reproductive rate is likely to rise.”

Another unusual feature of these large mammoth kill sites is the presence of extraordinary numbers of other predators, particularly wolves and foxes. “Both dogs and wolves are very alert to the presence of other related carnivores — the canids — and they defend their territories and food fiercely,” Shipman explained. “If humans were working and living with domesticated dogs or even semi-domesticated wolves at these archaeological sites, we would expect to find the new focus on killing the wild wolves that we see there.”

bonesThe photo shows part of the very-high-density concentration of mammoth bones at the Krakow-Spadzista Street archaeological site. Credit line Piotr Wojtal.

Two other types of studies have yielded data that support Shipman’s hypothesis. Hervé Bocherens and Dorothée Drucker of the University of Tubingen in Germany, carried out an isotopic analysis of the ones of wolves and purported dogs from the Czech site of Predmostí. They found that the individuals identified as dogs had different diets from those identified as wolves, possibly indicating feeding by humans. Also, analysis of mitochondrial DNA by Olaf Thalmann of the University of Turku in Finland, and others, showed that the individuals identified as dogs have a distinctive genetic signature that is not known from any other canid. “Since mitochondrial DNA is carried only by females, this finding may indicate that these odd canids did not give rise to modern domesticated dogs and were simply a peculiar, extinct group of wolves,” Shipman said. “Alternatively, it may indicate that early humans did domesticate wolves into dogs or a doglike group, but the female canids interbred with wild wolf males and so the distinctive female mitochondrial DNA lineage was lost.”

As more information is gathered on fossil canids dated to between 45,000 and 15,000 years ago, Shipman’s hunting-dog hypothesis will be supported “if more of these distinctive doglike canids are found at large, long-term sites with unusually high numbers of dead mammoths and wolves; if the canids are consistently large, strong individuals; and if their diets differ from those of wolves,” Shipman said. “Dogs may indeed be man’s best friend.”

Polícia de São Paulo cogita prender manifestantes antes da Copa (OESP)

Jogo entre Brasil e Croácia preocupa a Secretaria de Segurança Pública

29 de maio de 2014 | 17h 00

Brian WInter – Reuters

SÃO PAULO – A polícia de São Paulo está tentando prender manifestantes de uma facção violenta antes do início da Copa do Mundo, em duas semanas, usando escutas telefônicas e outros mecanismos de vigilância para evitar confrontos que prejudiquem o torneio.

Manifestações preocupam governo e Fifa - Sergio Castro/Estadão

Sergio Castro/Estadão. Manifestações preocupam governo e Fifa

O secretário de Segurança Pública de São Paulo, Fernando Grella, disse à Reuters que a polícia está preparando possíveis acusações criminais contra um pequeno número de líderes dos manifestantes, que, segundo ele, estão conspirando para “cometer atos de violência, quebrar, depredar, agredir pessoas”.

O trabalho de inteligência ainda não está finalizado, por isso não está claro se os promotores irão concordar em fazer acusações que resultariam em prisões preventivas, declarou Grella.

A probabilidade de manifestações violentas é uma das maiores preocupações do governo brasileiro e da Fifa à medida que se aproxima o dia 12 de junho, início do Mundial.

Brasileiros revoltados com o gasto de dinheiro público no torneio, entre outras queixas, vêm organizando protestos periódicos há um ano. Embora a maioria dos manifestantes sejam pacíficos, vários protestos resultaram em embates com a polícia e vandalismo, que as autoridades atribuem a um pequeno número de estudantes e outros jovens.

A “intensa operação de inteligência” descrita por Grella é uma das mais abrangentes das forças de segurança do país, mas as agências federais também estão reunindo informações sobre os manifestantes.

Grella afirmou que a polícia usou imagens de câmeras de vigilância e registros internos para identificar os manifestantes mais violentos e, em alguns casos, grampearam seus telefones e monitoraram suas mídias sociais e e-mails.

O objetivo, ele disse, é identificar casos de violência premeditada e organizada que constituiriam “associação criminosa” – acusação semelhante à de conspiração mais comumente utilizada no Brasil contras facções do crime organizado.

Se os promotores concordarem em fazer as acusações, alguns líderes dos manifestantes poderiam ser detidos imediatamente e presos por um período de alguns dias ou mais, afirmou Grella.

“É um policiamento preventivo que garante o direito de manifestação e a liberdade de expressão, ao mesmo tempo em que procura organizar esses movimentos de forma que eles perturbem o menos possível a vida do cidadão e evidentemente evitar os atos de violência”, disse o secretário.

Ele disse que preparar um processo contra os manifestantes é “difícil, mas não impossível”.

“Quero crer com a sua conclusão talvez nas próximas semanas possamos ter eventualmente alguns pedidos de prisão”, acrescentou.

Duas fontes de alto escalão do Ministério Público, que teria que aprovar as acusações criminais contra os manifestantes, declararam estar céticos quanto à legitimidade das acusações de conspiração.

A professora universitária Esther Solano, que estudou os protestos ao longo do ano passado, disse que, de forma geral, eles não têm uma liderança e uma organização, tornando difícil para a polícia identificar arruaceiros em potencial.

“O que (a polícia) está tentando fazer parece excessivo”, disse ela. “Isso mostra a pressão que a polícia e os políticos estão sofrendo para evitar uma grande bagunça durante a Copa do Mundo”.

O Ministério da Justiça, que supervisiona a polícia em todo o país, não respondeu de imediato a pedidos de comentário.

Indagado se as manifestações podem ser maiores do que aquelas que atraíram centenas de milhares de pessoas às ruas em junho passado, durante a Copa das Confederações, espécie de aquecimento da Copa do Mundo, Grella declarou: “É difícil dizer”.

Ele declarou, entretanto, que o dia 12 de junho, quando a seleção brasileira estreia contra a Croácia na Arena Corinthians, em São Paulo, “é o que mais nos preocupa” em termos de manifestações.

Grella disse não ter recebido indicações de uma ameaça em particular de terroristas internacionais ou facções do crime organizado do Brasil.


Projeto avalia impacto da ocupação humana em florestas tropicais (Fapesp)

Mais de 40 pesquisadores brasileiros e britânicos se unem em força-tarefa para estudar áreas alteradas pelo homem na Mata Atlântica e na Amazônia (foto: Wikipedia)

Por Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP – Entender como a crescente ocupação da floresta tropical pelo homem poderá impactar a biodiversidade, os serviços ecossistêmicos e o clima local e global é o principal objetivo do Projeto Temático “ECOFOR: Biodiversidade e funcionamento de ecossistemas em áreas alteradas pelo homem nas Florestas Amazônica e Atlântica”, que reúne mais de 40 pesquisadores brasileiros e britânicos.

A pesquisa é realizada no âmbito do programa de pesquisa colaborativa “Human Modified Tropical Forests (Florestas Tropicais Modificadas pelo Homem)”, lançado em 2012 pela FAPESP e pelo Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), um dos Conselhos de Pesquisa do Reino Unido (RCUK, na sigla em inglês).

A equipe, formada por 16 pesquisadores sêniores, seis pós-doutorandos, 12 colaboradores e nove estudantes, esteve reunida pela primeira vez entre os dias 26 e 29 de março na cidade de São Luiz do Paraitinga, no Vale do Paraíba (SP).

“Nessa primeira reunião, definimos detalhadamente os protocolos de trabalho. A ideia é que todos os dados sejam gerados com a mesma metodologia, de forma que seja possível integrá-los em um modelo do impacto da fragmentação sobre a biodiversidade e os serviços ecossistêmicos. Foi o grande pontapé inicial do projeto”, contou Carlos Alfredo Joly, professor da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) e coordenador do Programa de Pesquisas em Caracterização, Conservação, Restauração e Uso Sustentável da Biodiversidade (BIOTA-FAPESP).

De acordo com Joly, toda a coleta de dados será realizada no Brasil. A equipe brasileira estará concentrada principalmente em regiões de Mata Atlântica situadas na Serra do Mar e na Serra da Mantiqueira, enquanto a equipe britânica centrará seu foco na Floresta Amazônica. Já a análise e a interpretação dos dados serão feitas de forma compartilhada tanto no Brasil como no Reino Unido.

“A ideia é ampliar significativamente a participação de estudantes brasileiros na pesquisa, que abre um leque de opções para trabalhos de mestrado e doutorado com alta possibilidade de realização de estágios no Reino Unido”, avaliou.

Segundo Jos Barlow, pesquisador da Lancaster University (Reino Unido) e coordenador do projeto ao lado de Joly, alguns estudantes britânicos também planejam fazer pós-doutorado em instituições paulistas.

“Os alunos e pós-doutorandos do Reino Unido vão precisar passar bastante tempo no Brasil, onde será feita toda a coleta de dados. Ou então focar seu trabalho na análise de dados de sensoriamento remoto e sistemas de informações geográficas (SIG). E, claro, os resultados serão publicados em conjunto, com a liderança vinda de ambos os países”, disse.


O trabalho de investigação na Floresta Amazônica e na Mata Atlântica correrá em paralelo a outro projeto financiado pelo NERC desde 2009 em Bornéu, na Malásia. Nesse caso, o objetivo é estudar e comparar áreas de floresta primária (bem conservadas), áreas com exploração seletiva de madeira e regiões que sofreram profunda fragmentação.

“Dentro do possível, os dados gerados aqui no Brasil deverão ser comparáveis aos dados gerados na Malásia. Para assegurar essa integração foi estabelecido um comitê que reúne pesquisadores dos dois projetos”, contou Joly.

“Não seguiremos exatamente o mesmo desenho da pesquisa desenvolvida na Malásia, pois aqui temos situações diferentes. Mas os dois projetos visam estudar como as mudanças no uso da terra, que inclui extração de madeira, queimadas e fragmentação do habitat, alteram o funcionamento da floresta tropical, principalmente no que se refere à ciclagem de matéria orgânica e de nutrientes. Também queremos avaliar como essas alterações estão relacionadas com os processos biofísicos, a biodiversidade e o clima”, explicou Simone Aparecida Vieira, pesquisadora do Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisas Ambientais (Nepam) da Unicamp.

De acordo com Vieira, a equipe brasileira adotou o Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar como uma espécie de “área controle” da pesquisa e os dados lá coletados pelo Projeto Temático Biota Gradiente Funcional serão comparados com as informações oriundas dos fragmentos e das florestas secundárias existentes na região que vai de São Luiz do Paraitinga até a cidade de Extrema, em Minas Gerais.

“Na Amazônia, temos um grande conjunto de áreas em estudo. Um dos focos é a região de Paragominas, que tem um histórico de extração madeireira. E inclui também Santarém, onde vem avançando a agricultura, principalmente a soja”, contou Vieira.

Os pesquisadores farão inventários florestais, coletando dados como quantidade de biomassa viva acima do solo, densidade da madeira, diâmetro e altura das árvores, quantidade de serapilheira (camada formada por matéria orgânica morta em diferentes estágios de decomposição) e diversidade de espécies vegetais e animais.

“Um dos objetivos é investigar o estoque de carbono nessas áreas e de que forma ele é alterado com os diferentes usos. Depois vamos relacionar esse dado com a mudança em relação à diversidade de espécies que ocorrem nessas áreas, trabalhando principalmente com um levantamento de espécies de árvores e de aves”, explicou Vieira.

A coleta de dados deve seguir pelos próximos quatro anos. Na avaliação de Vieira, está sendo criada uma estrutura que poderá ser mantida após o término do projeto, se houver novo financiamento. “O ideal é acompanhar os processos de mudança no longo prazo para entender de fato como essas áreas estão se comportando diante das pressões humanas e das mudanças climáticas”, disse.

Joly concorda. “O projeto vai estabelecer uma rede intensiva de monitoramento de áreas que vão desde florestas intactas até florestas altamente fragmentadas e alteradas pelo homem. Isso permitirá avaliar as correlações entre biodiversidade e funcionamento de ecossistemas, tanto na escala local como regional e global – quando estiverem integrados os dados da Mata Atlântica, da Floresta Amazônica e da Malásia”, disse.

Os resultados obtidos, acrescentou Joly, permitirão também o aperfeiçoamento de políticas públicas para promover o pagamento de serviços ambientais, como os de proteção a recursos hídricos e de estoques de carbono.

Entre as instituições envolvidas na pesquisa estão Lancaster University, University of Oxford, University of Leeds, Imperial College London, University of Edinburgh, Unicamp, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC), Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa), Universidade de Taubaté e a Fundação Florestal da Secretaria do Meio Ambiente do Estado de São Paulo.

‘Free choice’ in primates altered through brain stimulation (Science Daily)

Date: May 29, 2014

Source: KU Leuven

Summary: When electrical pulses are applied to the ventral tegmental area of their brain, macaques presented with two images change their preference from one image to the other. The study is the first to confirm a causal link between activity in the ventral tegmental area and choice behavior in primates.

The study is the first to show a causal link between activity in ventral tegmental area and choice behaviour.. Credit: Image courtesy of KU Leuven

When electrical pulses are applied to the ventral tegmental area of their brain, macaques presented with two images change their preference from one image to the other. The study by researchers Wim Vanduffel and John Arsenault (KU Leuven and Massachusetts General Hospital) is the first to confirm a causal link between activity in the ventral tegmental area and choice behaviour in primates.

The ventral tegmental area is located in the midbrain and helps regulate learning and reinforcement in the brain’s reward system. It produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in positive feelings, such as receiving a reward. “In this way, this small area of the brain provides learning signals,” explains Professor Vanduffel. “If a reward is larger or smaller than expected, behavior is reinforced or discouraged accordingly.”

Causal link

This effect can be artificially induced: “In one experiment, we allowed macaques to choose multiple times between two images — a star or a ball, for example. This told us which of the two visual stimuli they tended to naturally prefer. In a second experiment, we stimulated the ventral tegmental area with mild electrical currents whenever they chose the initially nonpreferred image. This quickly changed their preference. We were also able to manipulate their altered preference back to the original favorite.”

The study, which will be published online in the journal Current Biology on 16 June, is the first to confirm a causal link between activity in the ventral tegmental area and choice behaviour in primates. “In scans we found that electrically stimulating this tiny brain area activated the brain’s entire reward system, just as it does spontaneously when a reward is received. This has important implications for research into disorders relating to the brain’s reward network, such as addiction or learning disabilities.”

Could this method be used in the future to manipulate our choices? “Theoretically, yes. But the ventral tegmental area is very deep in the brain. At this point, stimulating it can only be done invasively, by surgically placing electrodes — just as is currently done for deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s or depression. Once non-invasive methods — light or ultrasound, for example — can be applied with a sufficiently high level of precision, they could potentially be used for correcting defects in the reward system, such as addiction and learning disabilities.”

 Journal Reference:
  1. John T. Arsenault, Samy Rima, Heiko Stemmann, Wim Vanduffel. Role of the Primate Ventral Tegmental Area in Reinforcement and MotivationCurrent Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.044

Tres imágenes que ilustran la tensión en Brasil antes del Mundial (BBC Mundo)

Gerardo Lissardy

BBC Mundo, Brasil

30 Mayo 2014


Las imágenes de esta semana difieren radicalmente del mensaje oficial respecto del Mundial.

Tres imágenes de Brasil esta semana parecieron convertir en un abismo la distancia que separa la realidad de algunos mensajes oficiales sobre el Mundial que comienza en 13 días.

Una de ellas mostró a un grupo de profesores en huelga rodeando el autobús de la selección brasileña en Río de Janeiro el lunes, reclamando por los costos astronómicos de la Copa. Otra imagen salió de Brasilia cuando policías a caballo lanzaron gas lacrimógeno a activistas anti-Mundial e indígenas con arcos y flechas cerca del moderno estadio mundialista.

La tercera apareció en las redes sociales: un texto compartido por la directora ejecutiva del Comité Organizador Local (COL) de la Copa diciendo que “lo que había de ser gastado, robado, ya fue”.

¿Qué dicen estas imágenes acerca del Mundial que llega a Brasil?

1. Falla de seguridad

Profesores en huelga protestan frente al bus de la selección de Brasil

El cerco de manifestantes al bus de la selección brasileña fue considerado una falla de seguridad

De pronto, decenas de manifestantes rodearon el vehículo, lo tapizaron de adhesivos con reclamos gremiales y algunos llegaron a golpearlo. La situación demoró varios minutos el avance del bus.

La protesta buscó mostrar “el tamaño de la crisis que existe en Brasil en relación a la educación”, declaró allí Vera Nepomuceno, miembro del sindicato de profesores de Río. Uno de los gritos de los manifestantes decía que “un educador vale más que Neymar”.

Pero la escena también expuso fallas en el operativo de seguridad montado para proteger a las estrellas verde-amarelas, que fue fácilmente vulnerado por los docentes.

“El sistema de seguridad no esperaba semejante osadía por parte de los manifestantes”, dijo Paulo Storani, experto en seguridad pública y exdirector del Batallón de Operaciones Especiales (BOPE) de Río, a BBC Mundo.

Este hecho llevó al gobierno de Dilma Rousseff a pedir al Ejército que asuma la seguridad de aeropuertos, hoteles y calles donde pasarán las 32 selecciones del Mundial, informó el jueves el diario O Globo.

Los ministros de Rousseff insisten en que los extranjeros que vengan a la Copa estarán seguros.

Pero Storiani sostuvo que la imagen de esta semana fue preocupante. “Si hubiera alguna manifestación que pueda llegar a algo próximo o peor de lo que ocurrió el lunes, hay posibilidades de crear una crisis en la Copa, porque es lógico que cualquier delegación extranjera va a exigir un mínimo de seguridad”, indicó.

2. Gases, arcos y flechas

Indígena apunta su arco y flecha en una protesta en Brasilia

Una imagen impensable a días del Mundial en Brasil

Cuando Brasil fue elegido en 2007 como sede del Mundial de este año, sus autoridades esperaban que el evento proyectase al planeta la imagen de un país pujante y en desarrollo.

Pero la foto que salió el martes de Brasilia, con policías montados lanzando gases lacrimógenos a activistas anti-Copa e indígenas apuntando con arcos y flechas a los uniformados, muestra otra cosa.

Fue una de las tantas protestas de grupos sociales en Brasil por los US$11.000 millones que costó organizar el Mundial. Y los indígenas, que estaban en la capital para oponerse a un proyecto que cambia las reglas de demarcación de sus tierras, se unieron en el momento a la marcha.

La confrontación ocurrió cuando más de 1.000 manifestantes intentaron acercarse al Estadio Nacional de Brasilia y la policía lo impidió con gases lacrimógenos.

En medio de la confusión, algunos indígenas llegaron a lanzar flechas, una de las cuales hirió levemente a un policía.

Los incidentes obligaron a cancelar la exhibición de la Copa del Mundo en el estadio, el cual tendrá un costo cercano a US$850 millones, cerca del triple de lo proyectado inicialmente.

“Brasil fue muy ingenuo con el Mundial: se creía que sólo iba a ganar”, dijo Renzo Taddei, un antropólogo de la Universidad Federal de São Paulo especializado en conflictos sociales.

Pero agregó que imágenes como las del martes en Brasilia muestran otra cosa y, respecto a los indígenas, exponen un viejo conflicto acerca de sus derechos “que nunca se resolvió”.

3. Copa y corrupción

El mensaje en Instagram

Este mensaje en Instagram desató un debate.

Esta imagen de un texto contra las protestas en el Mundial apareció en la red social Instagram y rápidamente se volvió viral y polémica.

Quien la publicó en su cuenta personal el martes fue Joana Havelange, directora ejecutiva del COL del Mundial, nieta del expresidente de la FIFA Joao Havelange e hija del expresidente de la Confederación Brasileña de Fútbol (CBF), Ricardo Teixeira.

“Lo que había de ser gastado, robado, ya fue. Si era para protestar, tenía que haberse hecho antes”, se lee en un pasaje del texto.

La controversia por la referencia a robos llevó a un diputado estatal de Río, Marcelo Freixo, a solicitar al Ministerio Público que exija explicaciones a Havelange.

El COL indicó luego que la autoría de la carta no habría sido de su directora y ésta negó vía internet que haya prestado atención a la frase sobre los robos, que negó compartir y retiró del texto.

Pero la imagen del texto inicial rozó un nervio sensible en un país donde muchos creen que el Mundial fue aprovechado por corruptos y descreen del discurso oficial sobre el “legado” del evento.

“Cualquiera que haya acompañado la Copa sabe que la probabilidad de tener mucho robo de recursos públicos en esas obras de infraestructura y demás es muy alta”, dijo Claudio Abramo, director ejecutivo de Transparencia Brasil.

Abramo señaló que el COL no manejó dinero público para el Mundial, pero dijo que “por la posición que ocupa tal vez (Havelange) sepa cosas que sería bueno que explicase”.

Contenido relacionado

Formigas são mais eficientes em busca do que o Google, diz pesquisa (O Globo)

JC e-mail 4960, de 27 de maio de 2014

O estudo mostrou que insetos desenvolvem complexos sistemas de informação para encontrar alimentos

Todos aprendemos desde pequenos que as formigas são prudentes, e que enquanto a cigarra canta e toca violão no verão, esses pequenos insetos trabalham para coletar alimento suficiente para todo o inverno. No entanto, segundo estudo publicado na revista Procedimentos da Academina Nacional de Ciências, elas não só são precavidas, mas também “muito mais eficientes que o próprio Google”.

Para chegar a essa inusitada conclusão, cientistas chineses e alemães utilizaram algorítimos matemáticos que tentam enxergar ordem em um aparente cenário caótico ao criar complexas redes de informação. Em fórmulas e equações, descobriu-se que as formigas desenvolvem caminhos engenhosos para procurar alimentos, dividindo-se em grupos de “exploradoras” e “agregadoras”.

Aquela formiga encontrada solitária que você encontra andando pela casa em um movimento aparentemente aleatório é, na verdade, a exploradora, que libera feromônios pelo caminho para que as agregadoras sigam o trajeto posteriormente com um maior contigente. Com base no primeiro trajeto, novas rotas mais curtas e eficientes são refinadas. Se o esforço for repetido persistentemente, a distância entre os insetos e a comida é drasticamente reduzida.

– Enquanto formigas solitárias parecem andar em movimento caótico, elas rapidamente se tornam uma linha de formigas cruzando o chão em busca de alimento – explicou ao The Independent o co-autor do estudo, professor Jurgen Kurths.

Por isso, segundo Kurths, o processo de busca de um alimento realizado pelos insetos é “muito mais eficiente” do que a ferramenta de pesquisa do Google.

Os modelos matemáticos do estudo podem ser igualmente aplicados a outros movimentos coletivos de animais, inclusive em humanos. A ferramenta pode ser útil, por exemplo, para entender o comportamento das pessoas em redes sociais e até em ambientes de transporte público lotado.

(O Globo com Agências)

Índios e policiais se enfrentam em estádio da Copa em Brasília (AFP)

Por Por Yana MARULL | AFP – 27 mai 2014

27 de maio – Brasília, Brasil – Os manifestantes fizeram um ato em frente à rodoviária e, em seguida, decidiram seguir em direção ao estádio com uma taça alternativa da Copa do Mundo para substituir o troféu original, que está em exibição em Brasília, na área externa da arena.

A polícia dispersou com bombas de gás lacrimogênio um protesto pacífico contra a Copa de indígenas e movimentos sociais, nesta terça-feira, em frente ao estádio Mané Garrincha, que vai ser o palco de vários jogos do Mundial em Brasília, constatou a AFP.

A apenas 16 dias do início da competição, policiais da tropa de choque lançaram gases contra cerca de mil manifestantes, inclusive idosos e crianças, para impedir que se aproximassem do estádio.

Alguns manifestantes responderam atirando pedras contra os cerca de 500 agentes que cercavam o estádio.

Pouco antes, cerca de quinhentos chefes indígenas de cem etnias de todo o Brasil – inclusive o cacique Raoni, de 84 anos, um ícone da defesa da Amazônia – subiram no teto do Congresso para reivindicar políticas para seus povos.

“Subir no Congresso foi um ato de coragem, demonstração de que somos guerreiros e defendemos nossos direitos”, disse à AFP Tamalui Kuikuru, da região do Xingu, no Mato Grosso (centro-oeste).

Os índios, que estavam pintados, usando plumas, arcos e flechas tradicionais, desceram pacificamente do teto do Congresso logo depois, percorreram a Esplanada dos Ministérios e, em seguida, juntaram-se às centenas de manifestantes contrários à Copa e ao movimento dos sem-teto que marchavam na direção do estádio.

Duzentos policiais acompanham o protesto e o mesmo número resguarda o estádio Mané Garrincha, onde está o troféu da Copa, em exibição para o público nas cidades sede antes do torneio.

“A Copa é para quem? Não é para nós!”, clamava um manifestante com um alto-falante. “Não quero a Copa, quero esse dinheiro para a saúde e a educação”, gritava.

O protesto acontece em um contexto de protestos contra a Copa do Mundo e greves em vários setores às vésperas do Mundial, que se estenderá entre 12 de junho e 13 de julho.

Uma greve de motoristas de ônibus paralisou nesta terça Salvador (nordeste), uma das 12 cidades-sede da Copa, e o policiamento foi reforçado para garantir a segurança das unidades em circulação.

– “Espantar o mal” –

Em Brasília, os indígenas iniciaram seu protesto com orações tradicionais, ao ritmo de chocalhos, na Praça dos Três Poderes, cercada pelo Palácio do Planalto – sede da Presidência -, pelo Congresso e pelo Supremo Tribunal Federal.

Alguns mais velhos usavam fumaça para “espantar o mal”, explicaram à AFP.

“Antes de fazer a Copa do Mundo, o Brasil devia pensar melhor na saúde, na educação, na moradia. Vemos manifestações dos povos: não se gastam tantos milhões para um evento que não traz benefícios”, disse o indígena Neguinho Truká, da etnia Truká de Pernambuco (nordeste), com um cocar tradicional de plumas azuis e vermelhas na cabeça.

Os indígenas multiplicaram seus protestos na capital durante o governo da presidente Dilma Rousseff, a quem acusam de deter a demarcação de suas terras ancestrais e de favorecer os grandes agricultores.


– Onda de greves –

O Brasil foi sacudido por uma onda de protestos em junho do ano passado, durante a Copa das Confederações, contra os elevados gastos públicos nos estádios.

Os protestos, que continuaram durante meses, embora com menos intensidade, têm sido mais vinculados nas últimas semanas a movimentos sociais organizados, de sindicatos a partidos radicais de esquerda, ONGs críticas ao Mundial, o Movimento de Camponeses Sem-terra ou os Sem-teto.

Vários setores, de policiais a professores, passando pelos motoristas de ônibus de várias cidades como Rio, São Paulo, Salvador e São Luís do Maranhão, têm aproveitado a proximidade da Copa para pedir aumentos salariais e fazer greves.

Os trabalhadores do metrô de São Paulo, que transporta diariamente 4,5 milhões de pessoas, devem votar nesta terça-feira se entram em greve. “O mais provável é que aprovemos a greve. Só teríamos que definir a data”, declarou à AFP um porta-voz do sindicato.

Os motoristas de ônibus de São Paulo fizeram uma greve de dois dias na semana passada, que afetou mais de um milhão de pessoas e provocou engarrafamentos gigantescos.

Os professores da rede de ensino público do município e do estado do Rio também estão em greve e na segunda-feira, 200 deles bloquearam rapidamente a saída do ônibus que transportava a seleção brasileira até a concentração, em Teresópolis. “Não vai ter Copa; vai ter greve”, diziam alguns cartazes.

Trabalhadores dos setores de transporte e saúde do Rio de Janeiro também estudavam entrar em greve. Os vigilantes bancários do Rio estão paralisados há quase um mês.

World Bank Revamping Is Rattling Employees (New York Times)


MAY 27, 2014

WASHINGTON — The World Bank, a famously bureaucratic institution, is undergoing its first restructuring in nearly two decades. The overhaul is intended to keep it relevant at a time when even the poorest countries can easily tap the global capital markets, but with just weeks to go, the process has turned into what several staff members described as a nightmare, stalling their work and sapping morale.

In an interview, Jim Yong Kim, the American doctor and former president of Dartmouth College who took over leadership of the bank two years ago, strongly defended his plan. The overarching goal is to break down the bank’s regional “silos,” he explained, which discourage, for instance, experts who are working on mobile banking in sub-Saharan Africa from sharing best practices with experts handling the same issue in Central America.

To tackle that problem, Dr. Kim has created more than a dozen new global practices — on subjects like trade, health and infrastructure. Technical staff based in Washington will be organized into those practice groups as of July 1. “We had to make this change in order to really force the information to flow,” Dr. Kim said.

“We had to make this change in order to really force the information to flow,” said Jim Yong Kim. Credit Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Along with that restructuring of 15,000 bank employees, Dr. Kim has also undertaken a sweeping financial review, to squeeze out inefficiencies and cut $400 million from the bank’s operating budget.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to say: Here’s where the revenue’s coming from” and where the spending is going, Dr. Kim said. “For the first time, we’re going to be able to compare expenditures.”

Current and former staff members said they agreed that change needed to come to the World Bank. “The bank is losing its relevance in middle-income countries,” said Uri Dadush, the director of the international economics program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, referring to countries like India, China and Brazil.

“These countries don’t need a $1 billion or $2 billion loan from the bank,” Mr. Dadush said. “And many of the countries now have a lot of indigenous capacity to analyze and make technical decisions” without assistance from World Bank experts, he added.

Dr. Kim pointed out that the bank had recently doubled its lending capacity for middle-income countries.

The complaints from the bank’s core staff in Washington, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation, started piling up almost as soon as Dr. Kim initiated the reorganization. And over time, more and more of those complaints have been directed at Dr. Kim personally.

“This is not the way you run a change program,” said Paul Cadario, who worked at the bank for more than three decades. “No vision. No communications mechanism. No indication when it’s all going to be over.”

That turmoil has created what some people inside the World Bank described as a toxic environment. In not-for-attribution interviews, midlevel officials voiced concerns about such moves as restrictions on travel expenses even as hordes of highly paid McKinsey and Booz Allen consultants roamed the halls — and Dr. Kim was accused of hypocrisy for his own expenditures.

“The staff are clearly unhappy,” said Nancy Birdsall, the president of the Center for Global Development, a Washington-based research group. “There’s been a loss of confidence, not necessarily in the idea of the reorganization, but in the process.”

Yet even some World Bank staff members said that employees’ own sense of entitlement, and the fact that the bank had not undergone such a major internal review in nearly two decades, also explained some of the negative reaction.

In part, employees said they were concerned about personnel decisions. Four dozen executives have had to apply for new jobs. Last year, three highly regarded female executives were also unceremoniously pushed from their positions, which angered many other women at the bank.

Others said they were unimpressed with the executives named to lead the global-practices teams. “They’re good people, they might be great people,” said one bank official. “But they’re not top-quality people. These aren’t big names.”

Moreover, the global-practices leaders did not include any people from Africa or East Asia, arguably the bank’s two most important client regions. When African governors of the bank objected, Dr. Kim sent a letter to reply, if not to apologize.

“Thank you for our meeting yesterday,” it said. “I apologize for having had to leave so quickly; I had a meeting scheduled immediately after our session. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate to you my personal commitment to diversity and specifically the inclusion of Africans among all ranks of staff at the World Bank Group.”

Another central concern is that the restructuring has taken up too much time, distracting the bank’s workers, rattling relations with clients and leading to risk aversion. “People are desperately trying to justify themselves and veering away from projects that might raise questions,” a staff member said.

But Dr. Kim pointed out that the bank was on track to do more business this year than it did last year; during earlier restructurings, parts of the bank’s business shrank. High-level bank employees also stressed that Dr. Kim had instituted regular review processes that would reduce the need for such stark reorganizations in the future.

Pettier concerns have abounded, too. As part of the $400 million cost-cutting exercise, the bank issued new guidelines on travel, limiting business-class flights and even adjusting breakfast allowances. “Leadership needs to reflect: Are ‘breakfast savings’ worth the ‘expense’ of staff morale?” said one letter in a popular alumni newsletter.

Perhaps no change caused more outrage than the elimination of parking subsidies for the crowded and expensive downtown garages where many officials park. Yet “to subsidize parking is a little weird for an organization like us,” countered Bertrand Badré, the bank’s chief financial officer, pointing out that the bank is committed to combating climate change.

Many complaints, serious and frivolous, have also questioned Dr. Kim’s management — especially concerns about his lack of communication with rank-and-file employees and perceptions of his overspending when asking the rest of the bank to cut back.

A much-discussed Financial Times editorial rebuked him for his use of private planes. One other popular rumor had Dr. Kim purchasing a tuxedo and charging the World Bank for it.

A press officer responded that Dr. Kim had taken chartered planes only to otherwise inaccessible destinations, and that he had used them less frequently than past presidents. (More than 90 percent of his travel is commercial, the spokesman said.) And the tuxedo story is just a story, he said: Dr. Kim had purchased white-tie wear for a Nobel Prize event, but he paid for the clothes himself.

Dr. Kim said that he did think he could have communicated about the restructuring process more clearly, and sooner. “I’ve been told this a million times by people who have gone through this,” he said. “It’s this notion that you can never communicate enough.” He added: “If I were to give anyone else advice, it would be to overcommunicate from the beginning.”

For all the complaints, many others involved with the bank and its lending policies said they supported the reorganization. “Let’s keep the mission of the bank in mind,” said Ian Solomon, a former World Bank executive director. “This is not about whether people in Washington are comfortable, or whether the process is simple. Development is hard. There’s a lot more we don’t know about getting it right than we do know.”

He added: “I applaud Jim for taking this one on.”

The Obama administration, which effectively named Dr. Kim to his post, also threw its weight behind the reorganization. “The United States is confident that the World Bank’s restructuring addresses the changing development challenges of the 21st century and will better equip the bank to meet its global mission,” said Marisa Lago, the assistant Treasury secretary for international markets and development. “Implementation and execution are key to this process.”

And Dr. Kim himself said that he believed the bank’s staff would see dividends after July 1. “I think it’s going better than I could have imagined two years ago,” he said.

Quase um terço dos britânicos admite ter preconceito racial (EFE)

Londres, 28 mai (EFE).- Quase um terço dos britânicos admitiu ter algum preconceito racial, segundo um estudo divulgado nesta quarta-feira pelo Centro Nacional de Investigação Social do Reino Unido.

Esse instituto britânico independente dedicado à pesquisa social ressaltou que a proporção de ingleses que confessou ter algum preconceito de tintura racial aumentou desde o começo do século XXI, retornando ao nível existente há 30 anos.

Entre os mais de 20 mil britânicos ouvidos, um terço admitiu ter ‘muito’ ou ‘pouco’ preconceito. O número é mais que os 25% que admitiram ter preconceito na pesquisa realizada em 2001.

A conselheira do Centro, Penny Young, considerou o resultado “inquietante”.

O estudo encontrou também diferenças na atitude das pessoas questionadas dependendo da parte do país. Em Londres, 16% dos entrevistados admitiu ter preconceito racial. Na região de West Middlands, no oeste da Inglaterra, este número é mais do que o dobro, 35%.

Embora os homens mais velhos que tem trabalhos braçais sejam os que tem o maior percentual de rejeição, o grupo que registrou o maior aumento na pesquisa foi o de homens com escolaridade.

Os níveis de preconceito aumentam com a idade, segundo o estudo. É de 25% entre pessoas entre 17 e 34 anos, e 36% entre os com mais de 55 anos.

“Os níveis de preconceitos raciais diminuíram na década de 90, mas voltaram a aumentar de novo durante a primeira década deste século”, assinalou Young, e acrescentou que esses dados “vão contra a tendência de um Reino Unido socialmente mais liberal e tolerante”.

“Nossos líderes nacionais têm que compreender e responder aos níveis de preconceitos raciais crescentes se querem construir comunidades locais sólidas”, advertiu.

Além disso, mais de 90% dos indagados que confessou ter algum preconceito confirmou o desejo de que o número de imigrantes ao Reino Unido diminua, opinião compartilhada por 73% das pessoas que indicaram não ter preconceito. EFE

Brazilian artist’s image of starving child kicks up a World Cup storm (LA Times)

Paulo Ito’s artwork in São Paulo has been shared thousands of times online.

BY VINCENT BEVINS May 27, 2014, 10:30 a.m.

A work of graffiti here has become an overnight global symbol, subverting official representations of Brazil and placing street artist Paulo Ito unexpectedly in the middle of the battle to define the country’s image during next month’s World Cup.

In the untitled work on the fence of a local elementary school, a black child sits down to eat, only to be presented with a soccer ball on a plate. It went around the world quickly, Ito thinks, because it “brought together what a lot of people are thinking.”

From just two Facebook posts, the spray paint and latex image was shared more than 96,000 times, even before being subsequently reported on in numerous countries.

The simple message was obvious, even if it is metaphorical. Brazil’s poorest already receive monthly stipends for basic goods, and few of the thousands of World Cup protesters who have been on the streets ever mention food, instead focusing on cost overruns at stadiums and a shortage of quality education, healthcare and housing.

But like much else during the turbulent time before the games start, Ito’s image has taken on a different scale abroad than it has at home. Here it has even been used by those whose politics Ito considers unscrupulous, underlining the difficulty of nailing down a clear aesthetic message for the world’s cameras, which will arrive all too soon.

“Everything tends to be taken as from one side or the other, which doesn’t make sense. Right now, even the protesters don’t know what their actions will lead to, since the situation is so complex,” says Ito, 36, who’s been active in the street art scene here for 14 years. “I want the World Cup to be a failure for FIFA but a victory for the Brazilian people.”

The clash of ideas and representation over the World Cup is complex as about half the country currently thinks it will be bad overall for Brazil. At the moment, some insist that “there will be no World Cup,” saying a corrupted event should be disrupted in the name of other progressive social causes. Others have extensive complaints but are worried about linking them to the World Cup and how Brazil could look if things go the wrong way.

Still others, those in the right-leaning political opposition, may generally want to present a strong Brazil to the world but know that a poorly executed competition boosts their electoral chances in October. In the protest movement, literal fights have broken out over flags and images raised in the streets.

Then there is FIFA, soccer’s governing body, which last week presented the official World Cup video, featuring Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez and shot in Miami, alongside a gaggle of old-school Brazil Carnaval stereotypes that were widely condemned here.

Artistically, Ito’s work is firmly grounded in the tradition of São Paulo street art, which is as well-known here as it is underappreciated abroad. Its colors and fine features remind the viewer of Os Gemeos, a São Paulo graffiti duo who have garnered some international success and have worked with Ito.

But Ito says his main inspiration is pixação, the black latex paint spelling out tag names aggressively and illegally across the city in an extraterrestrial-meets-Druidic-runes script.

“People think they are representing Brazil because they do something very tropical, with some Indians. … but that’s not what we are,” says Ito. In fact, São Paulo, South America’s largest city and host of the opening match on June 12, “is chaos in concrete.”

But the viral image may already be more famous abroad than it is here. It took on a life of its own largely because a right-wing Brazilian Facebook page called TV Revolta used it to highlight its message.

“They think that everything that happens in the country is the fault of [Worker’s Party President] Dilma Rousseff. I find that type of thinking stupid,” says Ito, who says it’s important to praise the real advances made in the country while also pointing out misplaced priorities. “But we’re still very far from perfection … let’s show the world what we are, and not what some want to show or what others wish we looked like.”

Stronger Brains, Weaker Bodies (New York Times)

Why does the metabolism of a sloth differ from that of a human? Brains are a big reason, say researchers who recently carried out a detailed comparison of metabolism in humans and other mammals. CreditFelipe Dana/Associated Press

All animals do the same thing to the food they eat — they break it down to extract fuel and building blocks for growing new tissue. But the metabolism of one species may be profoundly different from another’s. A sloth will generate just enough energy to hang from a tree, for example, while some birds can convert their food into a flight from Alaska to New Zealand.

For decades, scientists have wondered how our metabolism compares to that of other species. It’s been a hard question to tackle, because metabolism is complicated — something that anyone who’s stared at a textbook diagram knows all too well. As we break down our food, we produce thousands of small molecules, some of which we flush out of our bodies and some of which we depend on for our survival.

An international team of researchers has now carried out a detailed comparison of metabolism in humans and other mammals. As they report in the journal PLOS Biology, both our brains and our muscles turn out to be unusual, metabolically speaking. And it’s possible that their odd metabolism was part of what made us uniquely human.

When scientists first began to study metabolism, they could measure it only in simple ways. They might estimate how many calories an animal burned in a day, for example. If they were feeling particularly ambitious, they might try to estimate how many calories each organ in the animal’s body burned.

Those tactics were enough to reveal some striking things about metabolism. Compared with other animals, we humans have ravenous brains. Twenty percent of the calories we take in each day are consumed by our neurons as they send signals to one another.

Ten years ago, Philipp Khaitovich of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology and his colleagues began to study human metabolism in a more detailed way. They started making a catalog of the many molecules produced as we break down food.

“We wanted to get as much data as possible, just to see what happened,” said Dr. Khaitovich.

To do so, the scientists obtained brain, muscle and kidney tissues from organ donors. They then extracted metabolic compounds like glucose from the samples and measured their concentrations. All told, they measured the levels of over 10,000 different molecules.

The scientists found that each tissue had a different metabolic fingerprint, with high levels of some molecules and low levels of others.

These distinctive fingerprints came as little surprise, since each tissue has a different job to carry out. Muscles need to burn energy to generate mechanical forces, for example, while kidney cells need to pull waste out of the bloodstream.

The scientists then carried out the same experiment on chimpanzees, monkeys and mice. They found that the metabolic fingerprint for a given tissue was usually very similar in closely related species. The same tissues in more distantly related species had fingerprints with less in common.

But the scientists found two exceptions to this pattern.

The first exception turned up in the front of the brain. This region, called the prefrontal cortex, is important for figuring out how to reach long-term goals. Dr. Khaitovich’s team found that the way the human prefrontal cortex uses energy is quite distinct from other species; other tissues had comparable metabolic fingerprints across species, and even in other regions of the brain, the scientists didn’t find such a drastic difference.

This result fit in nicely with findings by other scientists that the human prefrontal cortex expanded greatly over the past six million years of our evolution. Its expansion accounts for much of the extra demand our brains make for calories.

The evolution of our enormous prefrontal cortex also had a profound effect on our species. We use it for many of the tasks that only humans can perform, such as reflecting on ourselves, thinking about what others are thinking and planning for the future.

But the prefrontal cortex was not the only part of the human body that has experienced a great deal of metabolic evolution. Dr. Khaitovich and his colleagues found that the metabolic fingerprint of muscle is even more distinct in humans.

“Muscle was really off the charts,” Dr. Khaitovich said. “We didn’t expect to see that at all.”

It was possible that the peculiar metabolism in human muscle was just the result of our modern lifestyle — not an evolutionary shift in our species. Our high-calorie diet might change the way muscle cells generated energy. It was also possible that a sedentary lifestyle made muscles weaker, creating a smaller metabolic demand.

To test that possibility, Dr. Khaitovich compared the strength of humans to that of our closest relatives. They found that chimpanzees and monkeys are far stronger, for their weight, than even university basketball players or professional climbers.

The scientists also tested their findings by putting monkeys on a couch-potato regime for a month to see if their muscles acquired a human metabolic fingerprint.

They barely changed.

Dr. Khaitovich suspects that the metabolic fingerprint of our muscles represents a genuine evolutionary change in our species.

Karen Isler and Carel van Schaik of the University of Zurich have argued that the gradual changes in human brains and muscles were intimately linked. To fuel a big brain, our ancestors had to sacrifice other tissues, including muscles.

Dr. Isler said that the new research fit their hypothesis nicely. “It looks quite convincing,” she said.

Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, said he found Dr. Khaitovich’s study “very cool,” but didn’t think the results meant that brain growth came at the cost of strength. Instead, he suggested, our ancestors evolved muscles adapted for a new activity: long-distance walking and running.

“We have traded strength for endurance,” he said. And that endurance allowed our ancestors to gather more food, which could then fuel bigger brains.

“It may be that the human brain is bigger not in spite of brawn but rather because of brawn, albeit a very different kind,” he said.

Setor privado é essencial para adaptação às mudanças climáticas (Fapesp)

Para Laura Canevari, da Acclimatise, engajar empresas em discussões sobre o tema significa criar uma economia resiliente, assegurar empregos e desenvolvimento. Para isso, no entanto, cientistas devem traduzir conceitos em experiências reais (foto:Rogério Lima)


Por Karina Toledo, de Fortaleza

Agência FAPESP – As mudanças climáticas são uma realidade cada vez mais difícil de ser ignorada e à humanidade resta adaptar-se para reduzir seu grau de vulnerabilidade. Diante dessa necessidade premente, cientistas têm se esforçado para engajar os formuladores de políticas públicas nas discussões sobre o tema. No entanto, pouca atenção é dada a um importante ator da sociedade: o setor privado.

A análise foi feita pela colombiana Laura Canevari, consultora em adaptação às mudanças climáticas, durante a conferência internacional Adaptation Futures 2014, ocorrida entre 12 e 16 de maio em Fortaleza. Formada em Ciências Marinhas, com mestrado em Manejo de Mudanças Climáticas pela University of Oxford, no Reino Unido, Canevari já atuou como militante, defendendo a necessidade de adaptação das zonas costeiras contra a elevação do nível do mar.

Atualmente, trabalha para a Acclimatise, empresa britânica que presta assistência técnica a instituições governamentais e empresas privadas no entendimento de riscos relacionados às mudanças climáticas e ajuda a identificar soluções de adaptação viáveis.

Na avaliação de Canevari, o setor público tem o importante papel de regulamentar e criar um ambiente adequado para que ações de adaptação aconteçam, mas é o setor privado que vai colocá-las em prática. A fim de engajar as empresas na empreitada, porém, os cientistas terão de adaptar sua linguagem e traduzir os conceitos científicos em experiências reais do cotidiano.

Leia abaixo trechos da entrevista concedida por ela à Agência FAPESP.

Agência FAPESP – Qual é a sua formação e área de atuação na Acclimatise? 
Laura Canevari – Sou formada em Ciências Marinhas e fiz mestrado em Manejo de Mudanças Climáticas na University of Oxford, no Reino Unido. Antes de começar a trabalhar na Acclimatise eu era uma grande defensora da necessidade de adaptação da zona costeira contra a elevação do nível do mar.

Agência FAPESP – Vocês trabalham mais com o setor público ou o privado?
Canevari – Inicialmente nosso foco era o setor privado, mas temos nos voltado mais ao setor público, pois as negociações internacionais estão mais focadas em adaptação e os governos estão mais preocupados com as mudanças climáticas. Recentemente, ajudamos a elaborar o Plano Nacional de Adaptação do Quênia, por exemplo. Ajudamos a desenvolver a estratégia de adaptação das cidades de Londres e Leeds [ambas no Reino Unido], Moscou e outras cinco na Rússia. Muitas vezes, o que fazemos para os governos é fomentar a capacidade institucional, ajudar a identificar lacunas e necessidades em nível institucional. Se um país quer começar a pensar em mudanças climáticas, quais são as coisas que as instituições têm de ser capazes de lidar, como coordenar informação entre diferentes ministérios, como coletar e armazenar informações, como usar serviços meteorológicos para obter dados precisos sobre mudanças climáticas. Atuamos em diferentes setores, como energia, transporte, varejo e cadeias de abastecimento.

Agência FAPESP – Em sua palestra você afirmou que a academia, no que se refere às discussões sobre adaptação às mudanças climáticas, está muito focada no setor público e deveria prestar mais atenção ao setor privado. Por que pensa assim? 
Canevari – Não penso que devemos parar de investir tempo e energia no setor público. Ele é importante, pois permite regular as ações de adaptação às mudanças climáticas necessárias e criar o suporte e o ambiente favorável para que elas aconteçam. Mas não deveríamos olhar para o setor público como o implementador dessas medidas. Quem realmente vai colocar em prática as soluções de adaptação é o setor privado. O setor público deve permitir às empresas investir mais seguramente nesse tipo de tópico. Não é a primeira vez que falo da necessidade de os acadêmicos mudarem sua mentalidade sobre quais são os mais importantes setores da sociedade com quem temos de dialogar. Mas nós, cientistas, tendemos a ficar em nossas zonas de conforto, onde falamos todos a mesma linguagem e lidamos com os problemas da mesma forma. E dialogar com o setor privado requer uma mudança no discurso sobre as questões climáticas. Falamos do ponto de vista de políticas públicas e com uma mentalidade acadêmica e isso não vai funcionar. Precisamos mudar a forma como concebemos os problemas e as soluções.

Agência FAPESP – Como os cientistas conseguirão o engajamento do setor privado? 
Canevari – Primeiro, precisamos reconhecer que esse é um importante ator, pois isso nos fará ter curiosidade sobre como ele pensa. Os acadêmicos costumam ficar muito fechados na academia, mas viram rapidamente a necessidade de disseminar a informação para os governos. Fizeram, então, o esforço de compreender o que ressoa com a governança para discutir questões que vêm da ciência e transformá-las em políticas públicas. Mas os acadêmicos precisam entender que o setor privado tem diferentes formas de conceber riscos e lidar com eles. Para um homem de negócios, lidar com riscos significa a continuidade de sua produção. Então falar sobre a continuidade do negócio é uma forma de abordar questões de adaptação sem usar esse termo. É preciso traduzir a linguagem. Falamos muito aqui sobre o cenário de “4 graus Celsius” [de elevação da temperatura terrestre até 2100] e parece que todos entendemos o que isso significa sob um ponto de vista ambiental. Mas o que os 4 graus Celsius significam para uma empresa? Nós fizemos uma análise de risco para um porto na Colômbia na qual olhamos o impacto do aumento das temperaturas na performance do maquinário que retira a carga dos barcos e leva para o estoque. Essas máquinas são sensíveis ao estresse térmico e não trabalham tão bem com muito calor. Em vez de ir para o setor privado e dizer: “Há uma ameaça de subir 4 graus Celsius”, devemos dizer que os maquinários vão começar a trabalhar de forma mais lenta e não serão tão eficientes em realizar o trabalho e isso vai afetar os lucros. No fim das contas, é preciso abordar a questão do lucro e de como a mudança climática vai afetar a performance empresarial. Outro ponto de muito apelo para as empresas é: como conseguirão manter sua licença social e ambiental para operar. Se a força de trabalho atua ao ar livre e há uma alta incidência de estresse térmico, há um risco de segurança ocupacional. A empresa pode perder a habilidade de operar em uma determinada área se não se preocupar em avaliar como o estresse térmico provocado pela elevação de temperatura afetará seus empregados. É um trabalho de transformar conceitos em experiências reais do cotidiano.

Agência FAPESP – Se é tudo uma questão de lucros, por que é importante estimular o setor privado a se adaptar? 
Canevari – Porque se trata de construir uma economia resiliente. Precisamos parar de ignorar o setor privado, pois ele é parte importante das comunidades e oferece empregos, bens e serviços. Quando pensamos nos fatores que determinam o bem-estar das sociedades, temos as políticas públicas que criam regulamentações, códigos de conduta para as pessoas interagirem umas com as outras de formas não agressivas, garantem liberdade de expressão, democracia, etc. Esses são componentes importantes, mas os produtos e serviços que as pessoas desejam adquirir também são. As pessoas também desejam estar empregadas, pois é uma forma de conseguir reconhecimento na sociedade. Não é apenas pelo dinheiro em si, mas porque você assume um papel social quando tem um emprego. Por outro lado, o setor privado tem o dinheiro e o potencial de investir em atividades que podem ter implicações que vão além da própria organização.

Agência FAPESP – Já é possível perceber ações de adaptação no setor privado?
Canevari – Há dois tipos de empresas que estão liderando ações de adaptação. No primeiro, estão as empresas que fizeram grandes investimentos em estruturas de longa duração, como petrolíferas, empresas de energia e portos. São companhias que esperam que aquelas instalações durem 30 ou 40 anos. Nesse tipo de empresa também costuma haver muita pressão dos stakeholders e da sociedade, que espera padrões elevados em termos ambientais e sociais. Do segundo tipo fazem parte as empresas que estão se adaptando e que são as sensíveis a fatores climáticos, como as que produzem ou comercializam bens agrícolas e empresas que dependem fortemente de água. São empresas que já sentem fortemente os impactos das mudanças no clima e respondem a eles como forma de sobreviver, pois, se não melhorarem seus padrões de eficiência no uso de energia e água, poderão ter conflitos com a comunidade em que estão inseridas e com a mídia. Mas não há muita coisa sendo feita na América Latina, o que é uma pena, pois há grandes oportunidades em países como o Brasil, onde é possível começar da maneira correta. Muitos novos investimentos em infraestrutura podem ser feitos à prova do clima. É muito mais barato do que fazer a adaptação depois que já estiver pronto. Temos uma oportunidade que os países desenvolvidos já perderam, que é começar na direção certa. Temos experiências e aprendizados de outros países, sabemos o que vale a pena fazer, então é só colocar em prática.

Agência FAPESP – Há quem diga que foi o próprio setor privado o responsável pelas mudanças climáticas.
Canevari – Podemos dizer que o setor privado é responsável pela maior parte das emissões de gases-estufa e a mudança climática é basicamente causada por eles. Mas estamos falando de apenas cerca de 20 grandes empresas, responsáveis por mais de 80% das emissões. A maioria é da área de óleo e gás, mineração e agricultura. Então, estamos falamos de um pequeno número de empresas em oposição a uma enorme gama de outras companhias que compõem o setor privado. Há uma enorme diversidade. Por que também não estamos culpando os governos por não criarem as regulamentações apropriadas para essas empresas? Muitos governos reduzem a rigidez de sua regulamentação para atrair essas empresas poluidoras. Penso que os governos também são responsáveis por permitir que essas empresas atuem como bem entendem. A empresa age de acordo com os seus interesses. Cabe ao governo regular essas atividades e garantir que estejam dentro de limites aceitáveis.

El Subcomandante Marcos anuncia su desaparición (Desinformémonos!)

El Subcomandante Marcos anuncia su desaparición

Posted By fabbia On mayo 25, 2014 @ 5:58 In Geografía,México,Reportajes,Reportajes México

A las 2:08 de la madrugada de hoy, el Subcomandante Marcos anunció que a partir de ese momento deja de existir. Ante los asistentes al homenaje a Galeano, el zapatista asesinado en la comunidad zapatista de La Realidad, el jefe militar del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), indicó: “si me permiten definir a Marcos, el personaje, entonces les diría sin titubear, que fue una botarga”.

Luego de más de 20 años al frente de la organización político-militar que se levantó en armas el primero de enero de 1994, Marcos anunció su relevo. Indicó que después de los cursos de la Escuelita Zapatista del año pasado y principios de este, “nos dimos cuenta que ya había una generación que podía mirarnos de frente, que podía escucharnos y hablarnos sin esperar guía o liderazgo, ni pretender sumisión o seguimiento”. Entonces, dijo, “Marcos, el personaje, ya no era necesario. La nueva etapa en la lucha zapatista estaba lista”.

En la comunidad emblemática de La Realidad, la misma en la que el pasado 2 de mayo un grupo de paramilitares de la Central Independiente de Obreros Agrícolas y Campesinos Histórica (CIOAC-H), asesinó al base de apoyo zapatista Galeano, el subcomandante Marcos apareció de madrugada, acompañado de seis comandantes y comandantas del Comité Clandestino Revolucionario Indígena y del Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, a quién en diciembre pasado anunció como su relevo al mando.

“Es nuestra convicción y nuestra práctica que para revelarse y luchar no son necesarios ni líderes ni caudillos, ni mesías ni salvadores; para luchar sólo se necesita un poco de vergüenza, un tanto de dignidad y mucha organización, lo demás o sirve al colectivo o no sirve”, dijo Marcos.

Con un parche negro con el dibujo de una calavera de pirata cubriendo su ojo derecho, el hasta ahora vocero zapatista rememoró la madrugada del primero de enero 1994, cuando “un ejército de gigantes, es decir, de indígenas rebeldes, bajó a las ciudades para con su paso sacudir el mundo. Apenas unos días después, con la sangre de nuestros caídos aún fresca en las calles, nos dimos cuenta que los de afuera no nos veían. Acostumbrados a mirar desde arriba a los indígenas, no alzaban la mirada para mirarnos; acostumbrados a vernos humillados, su corazón no comprendía nuestra digna rebeldía. Su mirada se había detenido en el único mestizo que vieron con pasamontañas, es decir, que no miraron. Nuestros jefes y jefas dijeron entonces: ‘sólo ven lo pequeño que son, hagamos a alguien tan pequeño como ellos, que a él lo vean y que por él nos vean’”.

Ese fue el nacimiento de Marcos, fruto de “una compleja maniobra de distracción, un truco de magia terrible y maravilloso, una maliciosa jugada del corazón indígena que somos; la sabiduría indígena desafiaba a la modernidad en uno de sus bastiones: los medios de comunicación”.

La nota de la conferencia, firmada por “medios libres, alternativos, autónomos o como se digan”, dada a conocer en diversos portales de comunicación alternativa como Radio Pozol, Promedios y Reporting on Resistances, recrea un ambiente de aplausos y vivas al EZLN luego del anuncio de la Comandancia.

La figura del subcomandante Marcos le dio la vuelta al mundo desde las primeras horas del primero de enero de 1994. La imagen de un hombre armado con carrilleras rojas y un R-15, y ataviado con un uniforme café y negro cubierto por un chuj de lana de Los Altos de Chiapas, cubierto el rostro con un pasamontañas y fumando pipa, fue la primera plana de los periódicos más influyentes del planeta. En los días y semanas posteriores trascendieron sus comunicados cargados de ironía y humor, desafiantes e irreverentes. Unas hojas blancas escritas a máquina de escribir que eran literalmente arrebatadas por la prensa nacional e internacional. Veinte años y más de cuatro meses después, Marcos anuncia el fin de esta etapa.

“Difícil creer que veinte años después aquel ´nada para nosotros´ resultara que no era una consigna, una frase buena para carteles y canciones, sino una realidad, La Realidad”, dijo Marcos. Y añadió: “si ser consecuente es un fracaso, entonces la incongruencia es el camino del éxito, la ruta del poder. Pero nosotros no queremos ir para allá, no nos interesa. En estos parámetros, preferimos fracasar que triunfar.”

“Pensamos”, dijo, “que es necesario que uno de nosotros muera para que Galeano Viva. Así que hemos decidido que Marcos debe de morir hoy”.

“A la 2:10 el Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos bajó para siempre del templete, se apagaron las luces y a continuación se escuchó una oleada de aplausos de las y los adherentes a La Sexta, seguida de una oleada más grande de aplausos de las bases de apoyo zapatistas, milicianos e insurgentes”, reportaron desde La Realidad.

Fiel a su estilo irónico y a sus tradicionales posdatas, el personaje de Marcos remató: P.D. 1 Game Over. 2.- Jaque Mate. 3.- Touché. 4.- Mhhh, ¿así es el infierno? 5.- ¿O sea que sin la botarga ya puedo andar desnudo? 6.- Está muy oscuro acá, necesito una lucesita…”

A continuación, la carta íntegra del Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos en su despedida.




En La Realidad, Planeta Tierra.

Mayo del 2014.

Compañera, compañeroa, compañero:

Buenas noches, tardes, días en cualesquiera que sea su geografía, su tiempo y su modo.

Buenas madrugadas.

Quisiera pedirles a las compañeras, compañeros y compañeroas de la Sexta que vienen de otras partes, especialmente a los medios libres compañeros, su paciencia, tolerancia y comprensión para lo que voy a decir, porque éstas serán mis últimas palabras en público antes de dejar de existir.

Me dirijo a ustedes y a quienes a través de ustedes nos escuchan y miran.

Tal vez al inicio, o en el transcurso de estas palabras vaya creciendo en su corazón la sensación de que algo está fuera de lugar, de que algo no cuadra, como si estuvieran faltando una o varias piezas para darle sentido al rompecabezas que se les va mostrando. Como que de por sí falta lo que falta.

Tal vez después, días, semanas, meses, años, décadas después se entienda lo que ahora decimos.

Mis compañeras y compañeros del EZLN en todos sus niveles no me preocupan, porque de por sí es nuestro modo acá: caminar, luchar, sabiendo siempre que siempre falta lo que falta.

Además de que, que no se ofenda nadie, la inteligencia de l@s compas zapatistas está muy por arriba del promedio.

Por lo demás, nos satisface y enorgullece que sea ante compañeras, compañeros y compañeroas, tanto del EZLN como de la Sexta, que se da a conocer esta decisión colectiva.

Y qué bueno que será por lo medios libres, alternativos, independientes, que este archipiélago de dolores, rabias y digna lucha que nos llamamos “la Sexta” tendrá conocimiento de esto que les diré, donde quiera que se encuentren.

Si a alguien más le interesa saber qué pasó este día tendrá que acudir a los medios libres para enterarse.

Va pues. Bienvenidas y bienvenidos a la realidad zapatista.

I.- Una decisión difícil.

Cuando irrumpimos e interrumpimos en 1994 con sangre y fuego, no iniciaba la guerra para nosotras, nosotros los zapatistas.

La guerra de arriba, con la muerte y la destrucción, el despojo y la humillación, la explotación y el silencio impuestos al vencido, ya la veníamos padeciendo desde siglos antes.

Lo que para nosotros inicia en 1994 es uno de los muchos momentos de la guerra de los de abajo contra los de arriba, contra su mundo.

Esa guerra de resistencia que día a día se bate en las calles de cualquier rincón de los cinco continentes, en sus campos y en sus montañas.

Era y es la nuestra, como la de muchos y muchas de abajo, una guerra por la humanidad y contra el neoliberalismo.

Contra la muerte, nosotros demandamos vida.
Contra el silencio, exigimos la palabra y el respeto.
Contra el olvido, la memoria.
Contra la humillación y el desprecio, la dignidad.
Contra la opresión, la rebeldía.
Contra la esclavitud, la libertad.
Contra la imposición, la democracia.
Contra el crimen, la justicia.

¿Quién con un poco de humanidad en las venas podría o puede cuestionar esas demandas?

Y en ese entonces muchos escucharon.

La guerra que levantamos nos dio el privilegio de llegar a oídos y corazones atentos y generosos en geografías cercanas y alejadas.

Faltaba lo que faltaba, y falta lo que falta, pero conseguimos entonces la mirada del otro, su oído, su corazón.

Entonces nos vimos en la necesidad de responder a una pregunta decisiva:

“¿Qué sigue?”

En las tétricas cuentas de la víspera no entraba la posibilidad de plantearnos pregunta alguna. Así que esa pregunta nos llevó a otras:

¿Preparar a los que siguen en la ruta de la muerte?

¿Formar más y mejores soldados?

¿Invertir empeños en mejorar nuestra maltrecha maquinaria de guerra?

¿Simular diálogos y disposición para la paz, pero seguir preparando nuevos golpes?

¿Matar o morir como único destino?

¿O debíamos reconstruir el camino de la vida, ése que habían roto y siguen rompiendo desde arriba?

El camino no sólo de los pueblos originarios, también de trabajadores, estudiantes, maestros, jóvenes, campesinos, además de todas las diferencias que se celebran arriba, y abajo se persiguen y se castigan.

¿Debíamos inscribir nuestra sangre en el camino que otros dirigen hacia el Poder o debíamos voltear el corazón y la mirada a los que somos y a los que son lo que somos, es decir los pueblos originarios, guardianes de la tierra y la memoria?

Nadie lo escuchó entonces, pero en los primeros balbuceos que fueron nuestras palabras advertimos que nuestro dilema no estaba entre negociar o combatir, sino entre morir o vivir.

Quien hubiera advertido entonces que ese temprano dilema no era individual, tal vez hubiera entendido mejor lo que ha ocurrido en la realidad zapatista los últimos 20 años.

Pero les decía yo que nos topamos con esa pregunta y ese dilema.

Y elegimos.

Y en lugar de dedicarnos a formar guerrilleros, soldados y escuadrones, preparamos promotores de educación, de salud, y se fueron levantando las bases de la autonomía que hoy maravilla al mundo.

En lugar de construir cuarteles, mejorar nuestro armamento, levantar muros y trincheras, se levantaron escuelas, se construyeron hospitales y centros de salud, mejoramos nuestras condiciones de vida.

En lugar de luchar por ocupar un lugar en el Partenón de las muertes individualizadas de abajo, elegimos construir la vida.

Esto en medio de una guerra que no por sorda era menos letal.

Porque, compas, una cosa es gritar “no están solos” y otra enfrentar sólo con el cuerpo una columna blindada de tropas federales, como ocurrió en la zona de Los Altos de Chiapas, y a ver si hay suerte y alguien se entera, y a ver si hay un poco más de suerte y el que se entera se indigna, y otro poco más de suerte y el que se indigna hace algo.

En el entretanto, las tanquetas son frenadas por las mujeres zapatistas, y a falta de parque fue con mentadas de madre y piedras que la serpiente de acero tuvo que echarse para atrás.

Y en la zona norte de Chiapas, padecer el nacimiento y desarrollo de las guardias blancas, recicladas entonces como paramilitares; y en la zona Tzotz Choj las agresiones continuas de organizaciones campesinas que de “independientes” a veces ni el nombre tienen; y en la zona de la Selva Tzeltal la combinación de paramilitares y contras.

Y una cosa es gritar “todos somos marcos” o “no todos somos marcos”, según el caso o cosa, y otra la persecución con toda la maquinaria de guerra, la invasión de poblados, el “peinado” de montañas, el uso de perros adiestrados, las aspas de los helicópteros artillados alborotando los copetes de las ceibas, el “vivo o muerto” que nació en los primeros días de enero de 1994 y alcanzó su nivel más histérico en 1995 y el resto del sexenio del ahora empleado de una trasnacional, y que esta zona de Selva Fronteriza padeció desde 1995 y a la que se suma después la misma secuencia de agresiones de organizaciones campesinas, uso de paramilitares, militarización, hostigamiento.

Si hay algún mito en todo esto no es el pasamontañas, sino la mentira que repiten desde esos días, incluso retomada por personas con altos estudios, de que la guerra contra los zapatistas sólo duró 12 días.

No haré un recuento detallado. Alguien con un poco de espíritu crítico y seriedad puede reconstruir la historia, y sumar y restar para sacar la cuenta, y decir si fueron y son más los reporteros que los policías y soldados; si fueron más los halagos que las amenazas e insultos, si el precio que se ponía era para ver el pasamontañas o para capturarlo “vivo o muerto”.

En esas condiciones, algunas veces sólo con nuestras fuerzas y otras con el apoyo generoso e incondicional de gente buena de todo el mundo, se fue avanzando en la construcción aún inacabada, es cierto, pero ya definida de lo que somos.

No es entonces una frase, afortunada o desafortunada, según se le vea desde arriba o desde abajo, la de “aquí estamos los muertos de siempre, muriendo de nuevo, pero ahora para vivir”. Es la realidad.

Y casi 20 años después…

El 21 de diciembre del 2012, cuando la política y el esoterismo coincidían, como otras veces, en predicar catástrofes que siempre son para los de siempre, los de abajo, repetimos el golpe de mano del 1 de enero del 94 y, sin disparar ni un solo tiro, sin armas, con nuestro solo silencio, postramos de nuevo la soberbia de las ciudades cuna y nido del racismo y el desprecio.

Si el primero de enero de 1994, miles de hombres y mujeres sin rostro atacaron y rindieron las guarniciones que protegían las ciudades, el 21 de diciembre del 2012 fueron decenas de miles que tomaron sin palabras los edificios desde donde se celebraba nuestra desaparición.

El sólo hecho inapelable de que el EZLN no sólo no se había debilitado, mucho menos desaparecido, sino que había crecido cuantitativa y cualitativamente hubiera bastado para que cualquier mente medianamente inteligente se diera cuenta de que, en esos 20 años, algo había cambiado al interior del EZLN y de las comunidades.

Tal vez más de alguno piense que nos equivocamos al elegir, que un ejército no puede ni debe empeñarse en la paz.

Por muchas razones, cierto, pero la principal era y es porque de esa forma terminaríamos por desaparecer.

Tal vez es cierto. Tal vez nos equivocamos al elegir cultivar la vida en lugar de adorar a la muerte.

Pero nosotros elegimos no escuchando a los de afuera. No a quienes siempre demandan y exigen la lucha a muerte, mientras los muertos los pongan otros.

Elegimos mirándonos y escuchándonos, siendo el Votán colectivo que somos.

Elegimos la rebeldía, es decir, la vida.

Eso no quiere decir que no supiéramos que la guerra de arriba trataría y trata de imponer de nuevo su dominio sobre nosotros.

Supimos y sabemos que una y otra vez habremos de defender lo que somos y como somos.

Supimos y sabemos que seguirá habiendo muerte para que haya vida.

Supimos y sabemos que para vivir, morimos.

II.- ¿Un fracaso?

Dicen por ahí que no hemos logrado nada para nosotros.

No deja de sorprender que se maneje con tanto desparpajo esta posición.

Piensan que los hijos e hijas de los comandantes y comandantas deberían disfrutar de viajes al extranjero, de estudios en escuelas privadas y luego de altos puestos en la empresa o la política. Que en lugar de trabajar la tierra para arrancarle con sudor y empeño el alimento, deberían lucirse en las redes sociales divirtiéndose en los antros, exhibiendo lujos.

Tal vez los subcomandantes deberían procrear y heredar a sus descendientes los cargos, las prebendas, los templetes, como hacen los políticos de todo el espectro.

Tal vez deberíamos, como los dirigentes de la CIOAC-H y de otras organizaciones campesinas, recibir privilegios y paga en proyectos y apoyos, quedarnos con la mayor parte y dejar a las bases sólo unas migajas, a cambio de que cumplan las órdenes criminales que vienen de más arriba.

Pero es cierto, no hemos logrado nada de eso para nosotros.

Difícil de creer que, 20 años después de aquel “nada para nosotros”, resultara que no era una consigna, una frase buena para carteles y canciones, sino una realidad, la realidad.

Si el ser consecuentes es un fracaso, entonces la incongruencia es el camino del éxito, la ruta al Poder.

Pero nosotros no queremos ir para allá.

No nos interesa.

En esos parámetros preferimos fracasar que triunfar.

III.- El relevo.

En estos 20 años ha habido un relevo múltiple y complejo en el EZLN.

Algunos han advertido sólo el evidente: el generacional.

Ahora están haciendo la lucha y dirigiendo la resistencia quienes eran pequeños o no habían nacido al inicio del alzamiento.

Pero algunos estudiosos no se han percatado de otros relevos:

El de clase: del origen clase mediero ilustrado, al indígena campesino.

El de raza: de la dirección mestiza a la dirección netamente indígena.

Y el más importante: el relevo de pensamiento: del vanguardismo revolucionario al mandar obedeciendo; de la toma del Poder de Arriba a la creación del poder de abajo; de la política profesional a la política cotidiana; de los líderes, a los pueblos; de la marginación de género, a la participación directa de las mujeres; de la burla a lo otro, a la celebración de la diferencia.

No me extenderé más sobre esto, porque ha sido precisamente el curso “La Libertad según l@s zapatistas” la oportunidad de constatar si en territorio organizado vale más el personaje que la comunidad.

En lo personal no entiendo por qué gente pensante que afirma que la historia la hacen los pueblos, se espante tanto ante la existencia de un gobierno del pueblo donde no aparecen los “especialistas” en ser gobierno.

¿Por qué les da terror el que sean los pueblos los que manden, los que dirijan sus pasos propios?

¿Por qué mueven la cabeza con desaprobación frente al mandar obedeciendo?

El culto al individualismo encuentra en el culto al vanguardismo su extremo más fanático.

Y ha sido eso precisamente, el que los indígenas manden y que ahora un indígena sea el vocero y jefe, lo que los aterra, los aleja, y finalmente se van para seguir buscando alguien que precise de vanguardias, caudillos y líderes. Porque también hay racismo en la izquierda, sobre todo en la que se pretende revolucionaria.

El ezetaelene no es de ésos. Por eso no cualquiera puede ser zapatista.

IV.- Un holograma cambiante y a modo. Lo que no será.

Antes del amanecer de 1994, pasé 10 años en estas montañas. Conocí y traté personalmente a algunos en cuya muerte morimos un mucho. Conozco y trato desde entonces con otros y otras más que hoy están aquí como nosotros.

Muchas madrugadas me encontré a mí mismo tratando de digerir las historias que me contaban, los mundos que dibujaban con silencios, manos y miradas, su insistencia en señalar algo más allá.

¿Era un sueño el mundo ése, tan otro, tan lejano, tan ajeno?

A veces pensé que se habían adelantado, que las palabras que nos guiaron y guían venían de tiempos para los que no habían aún calendarios, perdidos como estaban en geografías imprecisas: siempre el sur digno omnipresente en todos los puntos cardinales.

Luego supe que no me hablaban de un mundo inexacto y, por lo tanto, improbable.

Ese mundo ya andaba con su paso.

Ustedes, ¿no lo vieron? ¿No lo ven?

No hemos engañado a nadie de abajo. No escondemos que somos un ejército, con su estructura piramidal, su centro de mando, sus decisiones de arriba hacia abajo. No por congraciarnos con libertarios o por moda negamos lo que somos.

Pero cualquiera puede ver ahora si el nuestro es un ejército que suplante o impone.

Y debo decir esto, que ya he pedido la autorización del compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés para hacerlo:

Nada de lo que hemos hecho, para bien o para mal, hubiera sido posible si un ejército armado, el zapatista de liberación nacional, no se hubiera alzado contra el mal gobierno ejerciendo el derecho a la violencia legítima. La violencia del de abajo frente a la violencia del de arriba.

Somos guerreros y como tales sabemos cuál es nuestro papel y nuestro momento.

En la madrugada del día primero del primer mes del año de 1994, un ejército de gigantes, es decir, de indígenas rebeldes, bajó a las ciudades para con su paso sacudir el mundo.

Apenas unos días después, con la sangre de nuestros caídos aún fresca en las calles citadinas, nos dimos cuenta de que los de afuera no nos veían.

Acostumbrados a mirar desde arriba a los indígenas, no alzaban la mirada para mirarnos.

Acostumbrados a vernos humillados, su corazón no comprendía nuestra digna rebeldía.

Su mirada se había detenido en el único mestizo que vieron con pasamontañas, es decir, que no miraron.

Nuestros jefes y jefas dijeron entonces:

“Sólo lo ven lo pequeño que son, hagamos a alguien tan pequeño como ellos, que a él lo vean y por él nos vean”

Empezó así una compleja maniobra de distracción, un truco de magia terrible y maravillosa, una maliciosa jugada del corazón indígena que somos, la sabiduría indígena desafiaba a la modernidad en uno de sus bastiones: los medios de comunicación.

Empezó entonces la construcción del personaje llamado “Marcos”.

Les pido que me sigan en este razonamiento:

Supongamos que es posible otra forma de neutralizar a un criminal. Por ejemplo, creándole su arma homicida, hacerle creer que es efectiva, conminarlo a construir, en base a esa efectividad, todo su plan, para, en el momento en que se prepara para disparar, el “arma” vuelva a ser lo que siempre fue: una ilusión.

El sistema entero, pero sobre todo sus medios de comunicación, juegan a construir famas para luego destruirlas si no se pliegan a sus designios.

Su poder residía (ya no, han sido desplazados en eso por las redes sociales) en decidir qué y quién existía en el momento en que elegían qué nombraban y qué callaban.

En fin, no me hagan mucho caso, como se ha demostrado en estos 20 años, yo no sé nada de medios masivos de comunicación.

El caso es que el SupMarcos pasó de ser un vocero a ser un distractor.

Si el camino de la guerra, es decir, de la muerte, nos había tomado 10 años; el de la vida tomó más tiempo y requirió más esfuerzo, por no hablar de sangre.

Porque, aunque no lo crean, es más fácil morir que vivir.

Necesitábamos tiempo para ser y para encontrar a quien supiera vernos como lo que somos.

Necesitábamos tiempo para encontrar a quien nos viera no hacia arriba, no hacia abajo, que de frente nos viera, que nos viera con mirada compañera.

Les decía que empezó entonces la construcción del personaje.

Marcos un día tenía los ojos azules, otro día los tenía verdes, o cafés, o miel, o negros, todo dependiendo de quién hiciera la entrevista y tomara la foto. Así fue reserva en equipos de futbol profesional, empleado en tiendas departamentales, chofer, filósofo, cineasta, y los etcéteras que pueden encontrar en los medios de paga de esos calendarios y en diversas geografías. Había un Marcos para cada ocasión, es decir, para cada entrevista. Y no fue fácil, créanme, no había entonces wikipedia y si venían del Estado Español tenía que investigar si el corte inglés, por ejemplo, era un corte de traje típico de Inglaterra, una tienda de abarrotes, o una tienda departamental.

Si me permiten definir a Marcos el personaje entonces diría sin titubear que fue una botarga.

Digamos que, para que me entiendan, Marcos era un Medio No Libre (ojo: que no es lo mismo que ser un medio de paga).

En la construcción y mantenimiento del personaje tuvimos algunos errores.

“Es de humanos el herrar”, dijo el herrero.

Durante el primer año agotamos, como quien dice, el repertorio de “Marcos” posibles. Así que para inicios de 1995 estábamos en apuros y el proceso de los pueblos estaba en sus primeros pasos.

Así que en 1995 ya no sabíamos cómo hacerle. Pero entonces es cuando Zedillo, con el PAN de la mano, “descubre” a Marcos con el mismo método científico con que encuentra osamentas, es decir, por delación esotérica.

La historia del tampiqueño nos dio aire, aunque el fraude posterior de la Paca de Lozano nos hizo temer que la prensa de paga cuestionara también el “desenmascaramiento” de Marcos y descubriera que era un fraude más. Afortunadamente no fue así. Como ésa, los medios siguieron tragando otras ruedas de molino semejantes.

Un tiempo después el tampiqueño llegó a estas tierras. Junto con el Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, hablamos con él. Le ofrecimos entonces dar una conferencia conjunta, así podría él librarse de la persecución puesto que sería evidente que no eran Marcos y él la misma persona. No quiso. Vino a vivir acá. Salió algunas veces y su rostro puede encontrarse en las fotografías de los velorios de sus padres. Si quieren pueden entrevistarlo. Ahora vive en una comunidad, en…. Ah, no quiere que sepan dónde mero vive. No diremos nada más para que él, si así lo desea algún día, pueda contar la historia que vivió desde el 9 de febrero de 1995. Por nuestra parte sólo nos queda agradecerle que nos haya pasado datos que cada tanto usamos para alimentar la “certeza” de que el SupMarcos no es lo que es en realidad, es decir, una botarga o un holograma, sino un profesor universitario, originario del ahora doloroso Tamaulipas.

En el entretanto seguíamos buscando, buscándolas, buscándolos a ustedes, a quienes ahora están aquí y a quienes no están aquí pero están.

Lanzamos una y otra iniciativas para encontrar al otro, a la otra, a lo otro compañero. Diferentes iniciativas, tratando de encontrar la mirada y el oído que necesitamos y merecemos.

En el entretanto, seguía el avance de los pueblos y el relevo del que se ha hablado mucho o poco, pero que se puede constatar directamente, sin intermediarios.

En la búsqueda de lo otro, una y otra vez fracasamos.

A quien encontrábamos o nos quería dirigir o quería que lo dirigiéramos.

Había quienes se acercaban y lo hacían con el afán de usarnos, o para mirar hacia atrás, sea con la nostalgia antropológica, sea con la nostalgia militante.

Así para unos éramos comunistas, para otros trotskistas, para otros anarquistas, para otros maoístas, para otros milenaristas, y ahí les dejo varios “istas” para que pongan lo que sea de su conocimiento.

Así fue hasta la Sexta Declaración de la Selva Lacandona, la más audaz y la más zapatista de las iniciativas que hemos lanzado hasta ahora.

Con la Sexta al fin hemos encontrado quien nos mira de frente y nos saluda y abraza, y así se saluda y abraza.

Con la Sexta al fin los encontramos a ustedes.

Por fin, alguien que entendía que no buscábamos ni pastores que nos guiaran, ni rebaños a los cuales conducir a la tierra prometida. Ni amos ni esclavos. Ni caudillos ni masas sin cabeza.

Pero faltaba ver si era posible que miraran y escucharan lo que siendo somos.

Al interior, el avance de los pueblos había sido impresionante.

Entonces vino el curso “La Libertad según l@s zapatistas”.

En 3 vueltas, nos dimos cuenta de que ya había una generación que podía mirarnos de frente, que podía escucharnos y hablarnos sin esperar guía o liderazgo, ni pretender sumisión ni seguimiento.

Marcos, el personaje, ya no era necesario.

La nueva etapa en la lucha zapatista estaba lista.

Pasó entonces lo que pasó y muchas y muchos de ustedes, compañeras y compañeros de la Sexta, lo conocen de manera directa.

Podrán decir luego que lo del personaje fue ocioso. Pero una revisión honesta de esos días dirá de cuántas y cuántos voltearon a mirarnos, con agrado o desagrado, por los desfiguros de una botarga.

Así que el relevo de mando no se da por enfermedad o muerte, ni por desplazamiento interno, purga o depuración.

Se da lógicamente de acuerdo a los cambios internos que ha tenido y tiene el EZLN.

Sé que eso no cuadra con los esquemas cuadrados que en los distintos arriba hay, pero eso la verdad nos tiene sin cuidado.

Y si esto arruina la perezosa y pobre elaboración de los rumorólogos y zapatólogos de Jovel, pues ni modos.

Ni estoy ni he estado enfermo, ni estoy ni he estado muerto.

O sí, aunque tantas veces me mataron, tantas veces me morí, y de nuevo estoy aquí.

Si alentamos esos rumores fue porque así convenía.

El último gran truco del holograma fue simular enfermedad terminal, e incluso todas las muertes que ha padecido.

Por cierto, lo de “si su salud lo permite”, que el Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés usó en el comunicado anunciando la compartición con el CNI, era un equivalente a “si el pueblo lo pide” o “si las encuestas me favorecen” o “si dios me da licencia” u otros lugares comunes que han sido la muletilla en la clase política en los últimos tiempos.

Si me permiten un consejo: deberían cultivar un poco el sentido del humor, no sólo por salud mental y física, también porque sin sentido del humor no van a entender al zapatismo. Y el que no entiende, juzga; y el que juzga, condena.

En realidad ésa ha sido la parte más sencilla del personaje. Para alimentar el rumor sólo fue necesario decirle a algunas personas en específico: “te voy a decir un secreto pero prométeme que no se lo vas a contar nadie”.

Por supuesto que lo contaron.

Los principales colaboradores involuntarios del rumor de enfermedad y muerte han sido los “expertos en zapatología” que en la soberbia Jovel y en la caótica Ciudad de México presumen su cercanía con el zapatismo y el profundo conocimiento que de él tienen, además, claro, de los policías que también cobran como periodistas, de los periodistas que cobran como policías, y de l@s periodistas que sólo cobran, y mal, como periodistas.

Gracias a todas y todos ellos y ellas. Gracias por su discreción. Hicieron exactamente como suponíamos que iban a hacer. Lo único malo de todo esto, es que dudo que ahora alguien les confíe ningún secreto.

Es nuestra convicción y nuestra práctica que para rebelarse y luchar no son necesarios ni líderes ni caudillos ni mesías ni salvadores. Para luchar sólo se necesitan un poco de vergüenza, un tanto de dignidad y mucha organización.

Lo demás, o sirve al colectivo o no sirve.

Ha sido particularmente cómico lo que el culto al individuo ha provocado en los politólogos y analistas de arriba. Ayer dijeron que el futuro de este pueblo mexicano dependía de la alianza de 2 personalidades. Antier dijeron que Peña Nieto se independizaba de Salinas de Gortari, sin darse cuenta de que, entonces, si criticaban a Peña Nieto, se ponían del lado de Salinas de Gortari; y que si criticaban a éste último, apoyaban a Peña Nieto. Ahora dicen que hay que optar por un bando en la lucha de arriba por el control de las telecomunicaciones, así que o estás con Slim o estás con Azcárraga-Salinas. Y más arriba, o con Obama o con Putin.

Quienes hacia arriba suspiran y miran pueden seguir buscando su líder; pueden seguir pensando que ahora sí se van a respetar los resultados electorales; que ahora sí Slim va a apoyar la opción electoral de izquierda; que ahora sí en Game of Thrones van a aparecer los dragones y las batallas; que ahora sí en la serie televisiva The Walking Dead, Kirkman se va a apegar al comic; que ahora sí las herramientas hechas en china no se van a quebrar a la primera vuelta; que ahora sí el futbol va a ser deporte y no negocio.

Y sí, puede que en algunos de los casos sí le atinen, pero no hay que olvidar que en todos ellos son meros espectadores, es decir, consumidores pasivos.

Quienes amaron y odiaron al SupMarcos ahora saben que han odiado y amado a un holograma. Sus amores y odios han sido, pues, inútiles, estériles, vacíos, huecos.

No habrá entonces casa-museo o placas de metal en donde nací y crecí. Ni habrá quien viva de haber sido el subcomandante Marcos. Ni se heredará su nombre ni su cargo. No habrán viajes todo pagado para dar pláticas en el extranjero. No habrá traslado ni atención en hospitales de lujo. No habrán viudas ni hereder@s. No habrán funerales, ni honores, ni estatuas, ni museos, ni premios, ni nada de lo que el sistema hace para promover el culto al individuo y para menospreciar al colectivo.

El personaje fue creado y ahora sus creadores, los zapatistas y las zapatistas, lo destruimos.

Si alguien entiende esta lección que dan nuestras compañeras y compañeros, habrá entendido uno de los fundamentos del zapatismo.

Así que en los últimos años ha pasado lo que ha pasado.

Entonces vimos que la botarga, el personaje, el holograma pues, ya no era necesario.

Una y otra vez planeamos, y una y otra vez esperamos el momento indicado: el calendario y la geografía precisas para mostrar lo que en verdad somos a quienes son en verdad.

Entonces llegó Galeano con su muerte a marcarnos la geografía y el calendario: “aquí, en La Realidad; ahora: en el dolor y la rabia

V.- El dolor y la Rabia. Susurros y gritos.

Cuando llegamos al caracol aquí en La Realidad, sin que nadie nos lo dijera empezamos a hablar en susurros.

Quedo hablaba nuestro dolor, quedito nuestra rabia.

Como si tratáramos de evitar que al Galeano lo ahuyentaran los ruidos, los sonidos que le eran ajenos.

Como si nuestras voces y pasos lo llamaran.

Espera compa”, decía nuestro silencio.

No te vayas”, susurraban las palabras.

Pero hay otros dolores y otras rabias.

Ahora mismo, en otros rincones de México y del mundo, un hombre, una mujer, unoa otroa, un niño, una niña, un anciano, una anciana, una memoria, es golpeada a mansalva, rodeada por el sistema hecho crimen voraz, es garroteada, macheteada, baleada, rematada, arrastrada entre burlas, abandonada, recuperado y velado su cuerpo, enterrada su vida.

Sólo algunos nombres:

Alexis Benhumea, asesinado en el Estado de México.
Francisco Javier Cortés, asesinado en el Estado de México.
Juan Vázquez Guzmán, asesinado en Chiapas.
Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, asesinado en Chiapas.
El compa Kuy, asesinado en el DF.
Carlo Giuliani, asesinado en Italia.
Aléxis Grigoropoulos, asesinado en Grecia.
Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, asesinado en un Campo de refugiados en la ciudad cisjordana de Ramala. 14 años, asesinado de un tiro en la espalda desde un puesto de observación del ejército israelí, no había marchas, ni protestas ni nada en la calle.
Matías Valentín Catrileo Quezada, mapuche asesinado en Chile.
Teodulfo Torres Soriano, compa de la Sexta desaparecido en la Ciudad de México.
Guadalupe Jerónimo y Urbano Macías, comuneros de Cherán, asesinados en Michoacán.
Francisco de Asís Manuel, desaparecido en Santa María Ostula
Javier Martínes Robles, desaparecido en Santa María Ostula
Gerardo Vera Orcino, desaparecido en Santa María Ostula
Enrique Domínguez Macías, desaparecido en Santa María Ostula
Martín Santos Luna, desaparecido en Santa María Ostula
Pedro Leyva Domínguez, asesinado en Santa María Ostula.
Diego Ramírez Domínguez, asesinado en Santa María Ostula.
Trinidad de la Cruz Crisóstomo, asesinado en Santa María Ostula.
Crisóforo Sánchez Reyes, asesinado en Santa María Ostula.
Teódulo Santos Girón, desparecido en Santa María Ostula.
Longino Vicente Morales, desaparecido en Guerrero.
Víctor Ayala Tapia, desaparecido en Guerrero.
Jacinto López Díaz “El Jazi”, asesinado en Puebla.
Bernardo Vázquez Sánchez, asesinado en Oaxaca
Jorge Alexis Herrera, asesinado en Guerrero.
Gabriel Echeverría, asesinado en Guerrero.
Edmundo Reyes Amaya, desaparecido en Oaxaca.
Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez, desaparecido en Oaxaca.
Juan Francisco Sicilia Ortega, asesinado en Morelos.
Ernesto Méndez Salinas, asesinado en Morelos.
Alejandro Chao Barona, asesinado en Morelos.
Sara Robledo, asesinada en Morelos.
Juventina Villa Mojica, asesinada en Guerrero.
Reynaldo Santana Villa, asesinado en Guerrero.
Catarino Torres Pereda, asesinado en Oaxaca.
Bety Cariño, asesinada en Oaxaca.
Jyri Jaakkola, asesinado en Oaxaca.
Sandra Luz Hernández, asesinada en Sinaloa.
Marisela Escobedo Ortíz, asesinada en Chihuahua.
Celedonio Monroy Prudencio, desaparecido en Jalisco.
Nepomuceno Moreno Nuñez, asesinado en Sonora.

Los y las migrantes desparecidas forzosamente y probablemente asesinadas en cualquier rincón del territorio mexicano.

Los presos a quienes se quiere matar en vida: Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, los Mapuche, Mario González, Juan Carlos Flores.

El continuo entierro de voces que vida fueron, silenciadas por el caer de la tierra y el cerrarse de las rejas.

Y la burla mayor es que, en cada paletada de tierra que arroja el esbirro en turno, el sistema va diciendo: “no vales, no importas, nadie te llora, a nadie le da rabia tu muerte, nadie sigue tu paso, nadie levanta tu vida

Y con la última paletada sentencia: “aunque agarren y castiguen a los que te matamos, siempre encontraré otro, otra, otros, que de nuevo te embosquen y repitan la danza macabra que acabó con tu vida

Y dice “Tu justicia pequeña, enana, fabricada para que los medios de paga simulen y obtengan un poco de calma para frenar el caos que se les viene encima, no me espanta, no me daña, no me castiga

¿Qué le decimos a ese cadáver al que, en cualquier rincón del mundo de abajo, se le entierra en el olvido?

¿Que sólo nuestros dolor y rabia cuentan?

¿Que sólo nuestro coraje importa?

¿Que mientras susurramos nuestra historia, no escuchamos su grito, su alarido?

Tiene tantos nombres la injusticia y son tantos los gritos que provoca.

Pero nuestro dolor y nuestra rabia no nos impiden escuchar.

Y nuestros susurros no son sólo para lamentar la caída de nuestros muertos injustamente.

Son para así poder escuchar a otros dolores, hacer nuestras otras rabias y seguir así en el complicado, largo y tortuoso camino de hacer de todo eso un alarido que se transforme en lucha libertadora.

Y no olvidar que, mientras alguien susurra, alguien grita.

Y sólo el oído atento puede escuchar

Mientras hablamos y escuchamos ahora, alguien grita de dolor, de rabia.

Y así como hay que aprender a dirigir la mirada, la escucha debe encontrar el rumbo que la haga fértil.

Porque mientras alguien descansa, hay quien sigue cuesta arriba.

Para mirar ese empeño, basta bajar la mirada y elevar el corazón.



La justicia pequeña se parece tanto a la venganza. La justicia pequeña es la que reparte impunidad, pues al castigar a uno, absuelve a otros.

La que queremos nosotros, por la que luchamos, no se agota en encontrar a los asesinos del compa Galeano y ver que reciban su castigo (que así será, que nadie se llame a engaño).

La búsqueda paciente y porfiada busca la verdad, no el alivio de la resignación.

La justicia grande tiene qué ver con el compañero Galeano enterrado.

Porque nosotros nos preguntamos no qué hacemos con su muerte, sino qué debemos hacer con su vida.

Disculpen si entro en el pantanoso terreno de los lugares comunes, pero ese compañero no merecía morir, no así.

Todo su empeño, su sacrificio cotidiano, puntual, invisible para quien no fuera nosotros, fue por la vida.

Y sí les puedo decir que fue un ser extraordinario y además, y esto es lo que maravilla, hay miles de compañeras y compañeros como él en las comunidades indígenas zapatistas, con el mismo empeño, idéntico compromiso, igual claridad y un único destino: la libertad.

Y haciendo cuentas macabras: si alguien merece la muerte es quien no existe ni ha existido, como no sea en la fugacidad de los medios de comunicación de paga.

Ya nos ha dicho nuestro compañero jefe y vocero del EZLN, el Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, que al asesinar a Galeano, o a cualquiera de los zapatistas, los de arriba querían asesinar al EZLN.

No como ejército, sino como rebelde necio que construye y levanta vida donde ellos, los de arriba, desean el páramo de las industrias mineras, petroleras, turísticas, la muerte de la tierra y de quienes la habitan y trabajan.

Y ha dicho que hemos venido, como Comandancia General del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, a desenterrar a Galeano.

Pensamos que es necesario que uno de nosotros muera para que Galeano viva.

Y para que esa impertinente que es la muerte quede satisfecha, en su lugar de Galeano ponemos otro nombre para que Galeano viva y la muerte se lleve no una vida, sino un nombre solamente, unas letras vaciadas de todo sentido, sin historia propia, sin vida.

Así que hemos decidido que Marcos deje de existir hoy.

Lo llevarán de la mano sombra el guerrero y lucecita para que no se pierda en el camino, Don Durito se irá con él, lo mismo que el Viejo Antonio.

No lo extrañarán las niñas y niños que antes se juntaban para escuchar sus cuentos, pues ya son grandes, ya tienen juicio, ya luchan como el que más por la libertad, la democracia y la justicia, que son la tarea de cualquier zapatista.

El gato-perro, y no un cisne, entonará ahora el canto de despedida.

Y al final, quienes entiendan, sabrán que no se va quien nunca estuvo, ni muere quien no ha vivido.

Y la muerte se irá engañada por un indígena con el nombre de Galeano en la lucha, y en esas piedras que han colocado en su tumba volverá a andar y a enseñar, a quien se deje, lo básico del zapatismo, es decir, no venderse, no rendirse, no claudicar.

¡Ah la muerte! Como si no fuera evidente que a los de arriba los libera de toda corresponsabilidad, más allá de la oración fúnebre, el homenaje gris, la estatua estéril, el museo controlador.

¿A nosotros? Bueno, pues a nosotros la muerte nos compromete por lo que tiene de vida.

Así que aquí estamos, burlando a la muerte en la realidad.


Dicho todo lo anterior, siendo las 0208 del 25 de mayo del 2014 en el frente de combate suroriental del EZLN, declaro que deja de existir el conocido como Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, el autodenominado “subcomandante de acero inoxidable”.

Eso es.

Por mi voz ya no hablará la voz del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional.

Vale. Salud y hasta nunca… o hasta siempre, quien entendió sabrá que eso ya no importa, que nunca ha importado.

Desde la realidad zapatista.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
México, 24 de mayo del 2014.

P.D.1.- ¿“Game is over”?
P.D.2.- ¿Jaque Mate?
P.D.3.- ¿Touché?
P.D. 4.- Ahí se ven, raza, y manden tabaco.
P.D. 5.- Mmh… así que esto es el infierno… ¡Ése Piporro, Pedro, José Alfredo! ¿Cómo? ¿Por machistas? Nah, no lo creo, si yo nunca…
P.D.-6.- O sea que como quien dice, sin la botarga, ¿ya puedo andar desnudo?
P.D. 7.- Oigan, está muy oscuro acá, necesito una lucecita.


(se escucha una voz en off)

Buenas madrugadas tengan compañeras y compañeros. Mi nombre es Galeano, Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.

¿Alguien más se llama Galeano?

(se escuchan voces y gritos)

Ah, tras que por eso me dijeron que cuando volviera a nacer, lo haría en colectivo.

Sea pues.

Buen viaje. Cuídense, cuídenos.

Desde las montañas del Sureste Mexicano.

Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.

México, mayo del 2014.

Escucha el discurso del Subcomandante Marcos al anunciar su desaparición[1]

Descarga aquí [1]

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“Os pássaros são tão capazes quanto nós” (Fapesp)

Premiado cientista na área de Psicologia Biológica, Onur Güntürkün afirma que o cérebro das aves pode ter design mais eficiente que o dos mamíferos (foto: Heiner Bayer)


Por Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP – Durante muito tempo predominou entre os neurocientistas a ideia de que o cérebro havia evoluído de forma linear. De acordo com a teoria proposta em meados do século 19 pelo neurologista alemão Ludwig Edinger (1855-1918), os peixes seriam os animais com o cérebro mais primitivo. Em seguida viriam os anfíbios, as aves e, finalmente, os mamíferos.

O cérebro dos mamíferos, segundo a teoria de Edinger, não apenas continha todas as estruturas existentes nos cérebros precedentes na escala evolutiva como também apresentava uma novidade que lhe proporcionava uma capacidade cognitiva superior e inédita: o neocórtex.

Mais desenvolvido nos primatas, o neocórtex é uma espécie de capa que recobre a parte externa do cérebro. Nos seres humanos, ele é dividido em seis camadas e apresenta uma grande quantidade de sulcos repletos de neurônios que comandam funções complexas como percepção sensorial, coordenação motora, raciocínio espacial e linguagem.

Para Edinger, como os pássaros não são dotados de neocórtex, jamais poderiam ser treinados como cachorros e gatos nem desenvolver habilidades cognitivas complexas, como usar ferramentas. Mas, no início do século 21, um grupo de cientistas demonstrou que essa teoria estava errada em artigo publicado no The Journal of Comparative Neurology.

Entre os autores estava Onur Güntürkün, professor da Ruhr-Universität Bochum, na Alemanha. Em outrapesquisa divulgada na revista PLoS Biology, Güntürkün mostrou que as gralhas são capazes de se reconhecer no espelho – algo que a maioria dos mamíferos não consegue fazer e que requer um certo grau de autoconsciência.

Por seu pioneirismo na área de Psicologia Biológica, Güntürkün, nascido na Turquia, recebeu em 2013 o Prêmio Gottfried Wilheim Leibniz, considerado o Nobel alemão. Em 2014, foi o ganhador doCommunicator Award, oferecido anualmente pela Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) e pela Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft a cientistas com boa habilidade de comunicar os resultados de sua pesquisa para um público amplo, fora da esfera científica.

No dia 20 de maio, Güntürkün esteve na sede da FAPESP para apresentar a palestra “Cognition without Cortex: The convergent evolution of avian and mammalian forebrains”, na qual contou que, a partir de seus experimentos com as gralhas, foi possível concluir que as aves teriam uma estrutura cerebral comparável ao neocórtex dos mamíferos.

“As aves possuem uma estrutura cerebral com as mesmas especificidades do neocórtex, a mesma bioquímica e o mesmo padrão de comunicação. A diferença é que não é dividida em camadas”, disse.

Segundo Güntürkün, é como se a natureza tivesse criado duas soluções diferentes para o mesmo problema (capacidade cognitiva avançada), em eventos distintos e independentes da história evolutiva.

“É possível que o design do cérebro das aves seja até mais eficiente do que o dos mamíferos, pois permite habilidades cognitivas complexas mesmo com um volume muito menor. No entanto, o cérebro das aves é pequeno demais para competir com o nosso”, avaliou.

Em entrevista concedida à Agência FAPESP, Güntürkün contou mais detalhes sobre suas pesquisas voltadas a entender as origens e a evolução do pensamento. Falou ainda sobre a importância da comunicação científica e sobre seus estudos relacionados às diferenças de gênero no cérebro.

Agência FAPESP – Qual é o motivo de sua visita ao Brasil?
Onur Güntürkün – Vim a convite da DFG para apresentar a “Palestra Leibniz” [formato desenvolvido para titulares do prêmio com o intuito de estimular o diálogo tanto com as comunidades científicas no exterior quanto com a sociedade em geral] e conversar com colegas cientistas do Brasil. O Brasil é um país muito importante, não apenas em termos de economia e política, mas também em termos de ciência. A Alemanha tem uma longa tradição em ciência, mas precisa planejar seu futuro de forma apropriada e, para isso, precisa pensar quais serão as grandes nações na área da ciência no futuro e como fomentar o relacionamento entre cientistas alemães e internacionais. Penso que o conceito da DFG é muito sábio: não são os diretores ou ministros que devem ser os embaixadores da ciência, mas os próprios cientistas. A única forma de isso ocorrer é possibilitando a interação entre eles, para que descubram interesses em comum. Dessa forma, é possível descobrir que, do outro lado do Atlântico, há uma ótima pessoa interessada nos mesmos assuntos que você e com quem você pode cooperar. Essa é a ideia.

Agência FAPESP – Como surgiu seu interesse pela evolução do cérebro e do pensamento?
Güntürkün – Só conseguimos entender alguma coisa quando conhecemos sua história. Só posso entender a mim mesmo quando sei algo sobre meu passado. O mesmo vale para o cérebro e a cognição. Se entendermos em quais condições evolutivas surgiram a cognição e o pensamento, podemos entender por que pensamos o que pensamos. Esta é a razão básica. Não me recordo de um momento de minha vida em que não estava interessado nesse assunto, então não há um ponto zero. Quando eu era criança já fazia ciência, realizava experimentos. Claro que eram simples e errados, sem conhecimento da literatura. Mas era ciência e foi um momento decisivo da minha existência. Muito do que faço hoje também deve estar errado e eu ainda não tenho consciência disso.

Agência FAPESP – Como forma e função estão relacionadas no cérebro? Até que ponto a estrutura cerebral define a capacidade de cognição?
Güntürkün – Se a arquitetura de nosso cérebro fosse diferente, nossa cognição seria diferente? A resposta é sim e não. Se perdêssemos um pedaço de nosso cérebro e nossa arquitetura fosse alterada, nossa cognição mudaria de forma radical. Há, no entanto, diferentes tipos de cérebros, com arquiteturas completamente diferentes, possivelmente capazes de criar o mesmo tipo de cognição. É como se você estivesse dirigindo um carro e perdesse uma parte do motor e ele deixasse de funcionar. Mas há outros tipos de motores que podem impulsionar um carro. Há diferentes soluções para o mesmo problema. Por isso, quando me perguntam se a estrutura define a cognição, minha resposta é sim e não. Sim – há diferentes soluções – e não – dentro de uma solução específica, todos os componentes precisam estar lá para o sistema funcionar. Essa é uma questão profunda de neurociência cognitiva. Podemos entender a evolução da cognição usando esse conhecimento como pano de fundo. Há diferentes organismos e diferentes tipos de cérebro. Eles pensam como nós ou possuem formas completamente diferentes de pensar que ainda não conhecemos? Isso é material suficiente para uma vida inteira de pesquisa.

Agência FAPESP – Em sua palestra, o senhor disse que as aves têm capacidades cognitivas comparáveis às dos mamíferos, embora não possuam o neocórtex. Isso ocorre com todas as aves ou apenas um grupo especial? E como isso é possível? 
Güntürkün – Acredito que nem todas as aves conseguem fazer isso, apenas algumas, como as gralhas e os corvos. E não sabemos por que as outras não têm essa habilidade. Mas o mesmo ocorre com os mamíferos. Os cachorros não se reconhecem no espelho, nem os gatos e nem mesmo os macacos rhesus. Apenas alguns mamíferos e alguns pássaros são capazes disso e ainda não sabemos ao certo a razão. O que há de especial no cérebro da gralha que o difere do cérebro do pombo? O que há de especial no cérebro do chimpanzé que lhe dá a capacidade de se reconhecer no espelho que o rhesus não tem? Não sabemos ainda. É uma questão profunda, pois, se o autorreconhecimento é uma pista para a consciência, poderemos entender melhor a consciência se formos capazes de entender como essas diferenças entre os animais aparecem.

Agência FAPESP – Teriam as aves uma espécie de neocórtex primitivo? 
Güntürkün – Não é primitivo. É como se a natureza tivesse inventado a roda duas vezes, de forma independente uma da outra. No cérebro das aves há uma estrutura interior virtualmente idêntica ao córtex pré-frontal humano. No entanto, ela não é dividida em camadas como o nosso córtex. Me parece que, em duas situações distintas na evolução, um grupo de animais precisou desenvolver altas capacidades cognitivas e terminou com o mesmo tipo de solução básica para esse problema. Mas um grupo desenvolveu o neocórtex e, o outro, um tipo diferente de estrutura cerebral. As invenções, porém, são absolutamente idênticas. É como ir a Marte e descobrir espécies completamente diferentes, com uma origem completamente diferente, mas, ao analisar profundamente, descobrir que alguns aspectos do cérebro dessas criaturas são virtualmente idênticos ao seu. É uma grande descoberta, pois sugere que não há duas soluções para um grande problema. Sempre se acaba inventando o mesmo tipo de roda quando se deseja criar um carro.

Agência FAPESP – O senhor sugeriu que o design do cérebro das aves talvez seja até mais eficiente que o dos mamíferos. Por quê? 
Güntürkün – É possível. De outra forma seria difícil entender como pequenos cérebros conseguem ser tão poderosos em termos cognitivos como o cérebro grande dos mamíferos. No entanto, o cérebro das aves nunca conseguiu ficar tão grande como o nosso. Não existe um único pássaro ou réptil que tenha sido capaz de desenvolver um cérebro de vários quilos. Não há nem sequer um réptil cujo cérebro pese mais do que 100 gramas. Não sabemos o porquê. Desde há mais de 300 milhões de anos, répteis e aves tiveram a chance de desenvolver um cérebro grande e nunca conseguiram. O argentinossauro, descoberto na Argentina, foi provavelmente o maior ser vivo que já habitou o planeta. Era enorme e tinha o cérebro do mesmo tamanho que o de um pássaro. O cérebro desses animais é restrito em termos de tamanho absoluto, enquanto nosso cérebro com a arquitetura cortical pode ficar grande. Essa foi a vantagem evolutiva que tivemos. De outra forma, estaríamos na gaiola e seríamos os animais de estimação das aves.

Agência FAPESP – O fato de o neocórtex corresponder a 76% do volume cerebral humano pode ser a explicação para sermos os animais mais inteligentes?
Güntürkün – Sim. É possível que tenhamos apenas um cérebro de primata muito grande. Simplesmente possuímos maior número de neurônios no neocórtex que qualquer outro animal do planeta. Há animais com cérebros maiores, como algumas baleias, elefantes, mas eles têm número menor de neurônios. Possivelmente nossa superioridade tenha razões quantitativas. É como os computadores. Colocamos mais memória, melhoramos outras especificações e, de repente, a máquina fica mais rápida, mais poderosa e capaz de calcular mais coisas.

Agência FAPESP – Somos, então, apenas primatas com um cérebro grande?
Güntürkün – Sim. Sou orgulhoso por ser um primata.

Agência FAPESP – O que já se conhece sobre o neocórtex e suas funções?
Güntürkün – Sabemos muito sobre o neocórtex, é uma das neuroestruturas mais bem estudadas. Por outro lado, entendemos muito pouco o cérebro dos pássaros. Obviamente, como somos mamíferos, acreditamos por centenas de anos que apenas com o neocórtex seria possível ter capacidades cognitivas avançadas, então havia um grande interesse em estudar o neocórtex. Agora que descobrimos que pássaros são tão capazes quanto nós, temos que trabalhar fortemente para preencher essa falta de conhecimento sobre as estruturas cerebrais das aves.

Agência FAPESP – Estudar o cérebro é sempre um grande desafio, pois não se pode simplesmente tirar um pedaço de tecido e analisar sob o microscópio sem grande consequências. Quais metodologias o senhor usa? 
Güntürkün – Claro que em humanos não podemos fazer experimentos invasivos, mas podemos gravar um eletroencefalograma, colocar nossos voluntários em uma máquina de ressonância magnética funcional e avaliar a atividade cerebral. Quando os pacientes têm má sorte ou genes ruins que resultam em uma alteração da estrutura cerebral, há sempre uma alteração correspondente nas habilidades cognitivas que podemos estudar. E, obviamente, fazemos experimentos comportamentais e coisas desse tipo. Nos animais, como os pombos que tenho usado muito no meu laboratório, podemos, mediante autorização, fazer experimentos invasivos, como implantar pequenos eletrodos no cérebro para gravar a atividade.

Agência FAPESP – O senhor tem estudos relacionados ao beijo e à tendência de os casais virarem a cabeça para a direita quando estão se beijando. Por que estudou esse tema? 
Güntürkün – É preciso deixar claro que não estudei o beijo para entender o beijo e sim para compreender a assimetria do cérebro humano. Tudo começou com a descoberta de que as aves têm um cérebro assimetricamente organizado. Essa assimetria aparece mesmo antes de saírem do ovo, quando viram a cabeça para o lado direito. Isso proporciona maior estimulação de luz no olho direito do embrião, que fica voltado para a casca do ovo. Então descobri, pela literatura, que humanos também viram a cabeça, desde antes de nascer, na maioria das vezes para o lado direito. E continuamos apresentando essa tendência por vários meses após o parto. Tenho uma teoria maluca de que isso, de alguma forma, modula nossos circuitos cerebrais. Se sou um recém-nascido, olho quase sempre para a direita, vejo minha mão direita e começo a fazer alguma atividade com a mão direita. E faço menos atividades com a mão esquerda. Então o fato de ser destro poderia ter sido influenciado por minha tendência de olhar para a direita.

Agência FAPESP – O senhor conseguiu comprovar essa teoria? 
Güntürkün – Formulei essa teoria e meus colegas me disseram que era bobagem, pois os bebês param de olhar para a direita por volta de 3 ou 4 meses de idade. E a destreza manual se manifesta muitos anos depois. Há um intervalo de tempo entre os dois eventos. Mas eu não acreditava nisso e pensei que talvez o padrão de movimentação dos bebês seja apenas muito complexo para que vejamos com clareza a tendência de virar a cabeça para a direita. Se essa tendência realmente nunca desaparece, nós, adultos, também devemos manifestá-la de alguma forma. Certo dia, eu estava sentado no sofá de minha casa e, de repente, me ocorreu: o beijo. Durante o ato de beijar não posso ficar com a cabeça reta, é preciso virá-la para um dos lados. Decidi observar casais em aeroportos enquanto eles estão esperando seus amados. O experimento foi feito em grandes aeroportos internacionais, de três diferentes continentes, para reduzir a possibilidade de qualquer viés cultural. Descobri que humanos têm a tendência de virar a cabeça para a direita em proporção absolutamente idêntica entre adultos e recém-nascidos: dois terços. Essa tendência não muda durante toda a vida e possivelmente ela modula a destreza manual nos humanos.

Agência FAPESP – No caso das aves, de certa forma, há uma relação com a estimulação do olho direito pela luz. E com os humanos? 
Güntürkün – Isso não acontece porque nossa visão é frontal. Minha teoria é que viramos a cabeça na tentativa de visualizar os próprios membros. Mas ainda não descobrimos o que mais é afetado por esse padrão de virar a cabeça além da destreza manual. É apenas um dos aspectos da assimetria cerebral que estamos estudando atualmente em meu laboratório.

Agência FAPESP – É verdade que há um lado do cérebro que controla emoções e habilidades com a música e outro lado responsável por atividades mais relacionadas com a razão?
Güntürkün – Isso é folclore existente na área de Psicologia e Neurociência. Precisamos de todo o cérebro para tocar uma música ou para raciocinar. Há algumas especializações relevantes. Para a música, por exemplo, nossa habilidade de compreender o ritmo é mais dominante no hemisfério direito. Então há um aspecto da música mais relacionado ao lado direito do cérebro. Depois que o famoso compositor [Maurice] Ravel teve um derrame no hemisfério direito, embora ainda fosse capaz de ouvir música, ele não conseguia mais compreendê-la, pois perdeu a habilidade de computar o ritmo. O raciocínio, porém, é algo que requer todo o cérebro. Muitos desses folclores possuem algum fundo de verdade, mas nem todos os fatos envolvidos são verdadeiros.

Agência FAPESP – Também é folclore que os homens têm mais neurônios do que as mulheres? 
Güntürkün – Isso é verdade. Os homens têm entre 10% e 15% mais neurônios, mesmo se o cálculo for proporcional ao tamanho do corpo. Mas a diferença na prática, francamente, ainda não sabemos. A inteligência de homens e mulheres é possivelmente idêntica. Há alguns cientistas que defendem que o QI [coeficiente de inteligência] é um pouco mais elevado nos homens. Se isso for verdade, no entanto, o efeito prático seria pequeno. Há outros estudos que não foram capazes de mostrar qualquer diferença. Minha teoria é que homens e mulheres são idênticos em termos de inteligência. Assumo essa premissa porque a maior parte da literatura mostra que, se há uma diferença, ela é muito pequena e não é importante. No entanto, é possível que exista diferença em termos de conhecimento. Homens aparentemente podem guardar um número de fatos cerca de 10% a 15% maior. Pode ser que o córtex seja um grande armazém e, se você tem um armazém maior, pode guardar mais itens dentro dele. Esta é minha teoria preferida e estamos elaborando estudos para analisá-la.

Agência FAPESP – Mas por que os homens precisariam de um armazém maior?
Güntürkün – Não tenho ideia. Não faz sentido em termos evolutivos. A pressão evolutiva de seleção, no que se refere ao conhecimento, atua sobre homens e mulheres de maneira igual. Por que os homens precisariam ter mais neurônios? Realmente não sei. Vamos morrer com muitas questões a serem respondidas. Mas, pelo menos, eu gostaria de descobrir se, de fato, existe uma relação entre ter mais neurônios e conseguir armazenar mais conhecimento. Aí uma questão ainda mais profunda apareceria: por quê? Fico ansioso de pensar que nunca vou saber.

Agência FAPESP – O senhor ganhou o Communicator Award de 2014, o que demonstra seu interesse em comunicar os resultados de sua pesquisa também a um público leigo. Por que acredita que a comunicação científica é importante?
Güntürkün – Estou muito honrado por ter sido escolhido. De acordo com o júri, sou capaz de me comunicar muito bem com a mídia e com o público em geral. Penso que isso é algo que todos nós, cientistas, temos de fazer. Precisamos falar sobre nossas pesquisas com a mídia, o público leigo e com outros cientistas e estudantes. E temos de fazer isso de forma que todos possam entender. É algo que considero meu dever, pois sou financiado pelos impostos dos contribuintes. Esses impostos garantem o melhor emprego do planeta a um número muito pequeno de pessoas: os cientistas. Trabalhamos naquilo que nos interessa, com quem desejamos e com as técnicas que escolhemos. Somos livres e podemos brincar com nossas ideias e isso é algo absolutamente fantástico. Ao mesmo tempo, somos rodeados por alunos brilhantes e muitas pessoas interessantes de todas as partes do mundo. Em troca, os contribuintes têm o direito de saber o que você está fazendo. E quando falo com esses trabalhadores não devo usar palavras que dificultem o entendimento. É meu dever.

Agência FAPESP – De forma geral, os cientistas cumprem bem esse dever? Como melhorar? 
Güntürkün – Acredito que, de maneira geral, os cientistas estão cientes desse dever e fazem um bom trabalho. Mas há algumas limitações. Há um imenso interesse em ciência por parte do público. Na televisão, não há apenas esportes e telenovelas, mas também programas sobre novas descobertas, animais e muitos outros aspectos relacionados à ciência. Jornalistas me procuram com frequência e a muitos de meus colegas. Fazem isso, obviamente, porque o jornalismo científico desperta interesse nas pessoas. Mas há uma responsabilidade dupla. Aos cientistas cabe não ter vergonha de falar com a mídia e ser claro. E a mídia tem a responsabilidade de divulgar a ciência da forma como ela é realmente, e não divulgar apenas escândalos, invenções fantásticas e coisas desse tipo.

Agência FAPESP – O senhor já teve problemas com a mídia? 
Güntürkün – Eu aprendi muito sobre a interação com a mídia ao longo de minha vida e tive algumas experiências difíceis. A maioria das pessoas da mídia realmente tenta fazer um bom trabalho. Mas, às vezes, os mecanismos internos da imprensa fazem com que as mensagens sejam muito simplificadas. Acho que esse é um problema que tanto cientistas quanto jornalistas precisam tentar solucionar de alguma forma.

Fans in Spain Reveal Their Prejudices, and Social Media Fuels the Hostilities (New York Times)

Someone threw a banana at Dani Alves, who plays soccer for Barcelona, during a recent game.C reditAlejandro Garcia/European Pressphoto Agency

MADRID — Spain’s sports fans have given Europe a version of the Donald Sterling racism scandal roiling America.

While prejudice in sports is nothing new in Spain, a spate of racist and anti-Semitic abuses has set off a round of chagrin and soul-searching — and even a government clampdown — that has raised broad questions about why such behavior seems so hard to combat.

The latest example occurred this week when almost 18,000 people posted comments on Twitter with a profane and anti-Semitic hashtag after Real Madrid’s loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final of Europe’s main basketball tournament on Sunday.

The tide of comments prompted Jewish organizations to file a lawsuit in a Barcelona court on Tuesday that is expected to be handed to the office of Spain’s attorney general. On Wednesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv said that while it had dealt with a handful of disrespectful pro-Palestinian activists while playing in Spain in the past, “nothing like this has ever been experienced.”

The postings were condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, the New York-based advocacy group that last week released its first global survey on anti-Semitism, which showed that 29 percent of Spanish adults harbor prejudicial stereotypes about Jews. “The sheer number and intensity of anti-Semitic hatred unleashed via Twitter in Spain is alarming and outrageous,” Abraham H. Foxman, the organization’s national director, said Thursday.

The anti-Semitic outbursts came the same week the Barcelona soccer club dismissed an employee of its museum after she was caught on video making monkey gestures toward an African player during a game between Llagostera and Racing Santander on Sunday. Llagostera said the police would investigate the matter and banned the woman from its stadium. That episode followed one last month in which someone threw a banana at Dani Alves, a Brazilian member of the Barcelona soccer team, during a match against Villarreal.

Taken together, the outbursts lay bare an undercurrent of prejudice in Europe that has persisted through generations. Social media appears to have fueled the hostilities, while also serving to counter them.

Esteban Ibarra, the president of the Movement Against Intolerance, a Spanish advocacy group, said it had identified 1,500 websites, pages or blogs in Spain that promote racism or anti-Semitism, compared with 300 to 400 five years ago. He attributed the rise, in part, to the growing political success of extremists in countries like Hungary and Greece.

“The fact that Spain doesn’t have an extreme-right party with an institutional presence doesn’t mean that we don’t have extremists who have been encouraged and coordinate with others in Europe and make their presence most felt in sports,” Mr. Ibarra said. “What we’re seeing in cases like Maccabi and Dani Alves is that the groups of ultra sports fans are themselves infiltrated by neo-Nazis.”

After Mr. Alves responded to the taunt by eating the banana in front of Villareal fans, he inspired a wave of videos and messages from athletes and politicians who posed with peeled bananas or ate them in solidarity.

The anti-racism response inspired by Mr. Alves was widely repeated outside Spain, even in countries like Italy that have also witnessed significant racism in sports. Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, shared a banana in front of the cameras with Cesare Prandelli, the coach of Italy’s national soccer team.

Despite Mr. Renzi’s banana episode, however, the Italian police intervened on Wednesday at the training camp in Florence of the national team to stop racist chants against the striker Mario Balotelli. Mr. Balotelli was born to Ghanaian immigrants and was raised by an Italian foster family.

He has faced racist abuse in Italy, in England and during a 2012 match in the Portuguese city of Porto, for which the club there was fined 20,000 euros, more than $27,000.

In January this year, A. C. Milan abandoned a soccer match after one of its black players, Kevin-Prince Boateng, led a walkout because of racist abuses by opposing fans.

Xavier Torrens, a sociologist and professor of political science at the University of Barcelona, said anti-Semitism in Spain had been underestimated by sports officials, who see it as a collection of isolated, anecdotal episodes. By contrast, the National Basketball Association in the United States reacted firmly last month by imposing a lifetime ban on Mr. Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, for making racist comments.

“In Spain, club directors — whether in soccer or any other sport — are not black, Gypsy, Jewish or Arab,” Mr. Torrens said, “so they don’t belong to any group that could feel some empathy for minorities.” Racism or anti-Semitism, he added, is “never a problem in their daily life, so that explains why such officials don’t take adequate measures and are so far from what was done in the N.B.A.”

The old-boy network that dominates English sports also drew criticism this week when the chief executive of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, escaped dismissal Monday despite having sent emails with sexual innuendos about women.

Pledges by governments and sports authorities to combat the problem appear to have done little, despite specific episodes resulting in fines or bans. FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, has promised zero tolerance toward racism at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which begins June 12, without detailing how it would penalize unacceptable behavior.

Steps against anti-Semitism have been even more tepid in Spain. “Anti-Semitism exists here,” Mr. Torrens, the sociologist, said, “but the problem is that Spanish society is much less aware of its anti-Semitism than in almost any other Western country.”

Even if such problems have become more prevalent in Spanish sports, he continued, it would be wrong to accuse Spanish society as a whole of racism and anti-Semitism. In the decade before 2008 and the bursting of Spain’s construction bubble, the country successfully integrated about five million migrants — more than 10 percent of its population. Even the subsequent economic crisis and the sharp increase in joblessness did not set off a wave of xenophobia.

But most surveys in Spain show that “21st-century prejudices are the same as those in medieval times,” said Mr. Torrens, adding that the prejudices were most often directed at Gypsies, Arabs and Jews. “That must say something about how little the authorities have done to respond to the problem,” he added.

After the recent basketball game that drew anti-Semitic comments on Twitter, the Spanish interior minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, warned that those who posted offensive messages could face arrest. The police must help “eradicate from the web all the comments that incite hatred and xenophobia,” he said.

Maria Royo, a spokeswoman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, said she could not recall an outburst of anti-Semitism like the one that came after Maccabi’s victory, but that the episode showed “the venom is here and comes out when you least expect it.”

The Israeli club’s general manager, Danny Federman, said in a statement, “It is very disappointing to see the rush of anti-Semitism following a well-fought competition.”

Several of the online comments included profanities about Jews, while others related to the Holocaust. One message, sent from the account of Guillermo de Alcázar, said, “Now I understand Hitler and his hatred for the Jews.”

In their court filing, the Jewish associations supplied a picture of Mr. de Alcázar and identified him among those who are suspected of violating a Spanish law that forbids the incitement of hatred. The associations said they had centered their inquiry on a profane hashtag that became a trending topic on Twitter after the basketball final and that was used by almost 18,000 people — most of them anonymous.

Hacker Helped Disrupt 300 Web Attacks, Prosecutors Say (New York Times)

A prominent hacker set to be sentenced in federal court this week for breaking into numerous computer systems worldwide has provided a trove of information to the authorities, allowing them to disrupt at least 300 cyberattacks on targets that included the United States military, Congress, the federal courts, NASA and private companies, according to a newly filed government court document.

The hacker, Hector Xavier Monsegur, also helped the authorities dismantle a particularly aggressive cell of the hacking collective Anonymous, leading to the arrest of eight of its members in Europe and the United States, including Jeremy Hammond, who the Federal Bureau of Investigation said was its top “cybercriminal target,” the document said. Mr. Hammond is serving a 10-year prison term.

The court document was prepared by prosecutors who are asking a judge, Loretta A. Preska, for leniency for Mr. Monsegur because of his “extraordinary cooperation.” He is set to be sentenced on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan on hacking conspiracy and other charges that could result in a long prison term.

Hector Xavier Monsegur cooperated with the authorities.


It has been known since 2012 that Mr. Monsegur, who was arrested in 2011, was acting as a government mole in the shadowy world of computer hacking, but the memorandum submitted to Judge Preska late on Friday reveals for the first time the extent of his assistance and what the government perceives of its value. It also offers the government’s first explanation of Mr. Monsegur’s involvement in a series of coordinated attacks on foreign websites in early 2012, though his precise role is in dispute.

The whereabouts of Mr. Monsegur have been shrouded in mystery. Since his cooperation with the authorities became known, he has been vilified online by supporters of Anonymous, of which he was a member. The memo, meanwhile, said the government became so concerned about his safety that it relocated him and some members of his family.

“Monsegur repeatedly was approached on the street and threatened or menaced about his cooperation once it became publicly known,” said the memo, which was filed by the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan.

Born in 1983, Mr. Monsegur moved to the Jacob Riis housing project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at a young age, where he lived with his grandmother after his father and aunt were arrested for selling heroin. He became involved with hacking groups in the late 1990s, drawn, he has indicated, to the groups’ anti-government philosophies.

Mr. Monsegur’s role emerged in March 2012 when the authorities announced charges against Mr. Hammond and others. A few months later, Mr. Monsegur’s bail was revoked after he made “unauthorized online postings,” the document said without elaboration. He was jailed for about seven months, then released on bail in December 2012, and has made no further postings, it said.

The memo said that when Mr. Monsegur (who used the Internet alias Sabu) was first approached by F.B.I. agents in June 2011 and questioned about his online activities, he admitted to criminal conduct and immediately agreed to cooperate with law enforcement.

That night, he reviewed his computer files with the agents, and throughout the summer, he daily “provided, in real time, information” that allowed the government to disrupt attacks and identify “vulnerabilities in significant computer systems,” the memo said.

“Working sometimes literally around the clock,” it added, “at the direction of law enforcement, Monsegur engaged his co-conspirators in online chats that were critical to confirming their identities and whereabouts.”

His primary assistance was his cooperation against Anonymous and its splinter groups Internet Feds and LulzSec.

“He provided detailed historical information about the activities of Anonymous, contributing greatly to law enforcement’s understanding of how Anonymous operates,” the memo said.

Jeremy Hammond is serving a 10-year prison term. CreditCook County Sheriff’s Department, via Associated Press


Neither Mr. Bharara’s office nor a lawyer for Mr. Monsegur would comment about the memo.

Mr. Monsegur provided an extraordinary window on the activities of LulzSec, which he and five other members of Anonymous had created. The memo describes LulzSec as a “tightly knit group of hackers” who worked as a team with “complementary, specialized skills that enabled them to gain unauthorized access to computer systems, damage and exploit those systems, and publicize their hacking activities.”

The memo said that LulzSec had developed an “action plan to destroy evidence and disband if the group determined that any of its members had been arrested, or were out of touch,” and it credits Mr. Monsegur for agreeing so quickly to cooperate after being confronted by the bureau. Had he delayed his decision and remained offline for an extended period, the document said, “it is likely that much of the evidence regarding LulzSec’s activities would have been destroyed.”

After his arrest, Mr. Monsegur provided information that helped repair a hack of PBS’s website in which he had been a “direct participant,” and helped patch a vulnerability in the Senate’s website. He also provided information about “vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, including at a water utility for an American city, and a foreign energy company,” the document said.

The coordinated attacks on foreign government websites in 2012 exploited a vulnerability in a popular web hosting software. The targets included Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Brazil, according to court documents in Mr. Hammond’s case. The memo said that “at law enforcement direction,” Mr. Monsegur tried to obtain details about the software vulnerability but was unsuccessful.

“At the same time, Monsegur was able to learn of many hacks, including hacks of foreign government computer servers, committed by these targets and other hackers, enabling the government to notify the victims, wherever feasible,” the memo said.

The memo does not specify which of the foreign governments the United States alerted about the vulnerabilities.

But according to a recent prison interview with Mr. Hammond as well as logs of Internet chats between him and Mr. Monsegur, which were submitted to the court in Mr. Hammond’s case, Mr. Monsegur seemed to have played a more active role in directing some of the attacks. In the chat logs, Mr. Monsegur directed Mr. Hammond to hack numerous foreign websites, and closely monitored whether Mr. Hammond had success in gaining access to the sites.

Sarah Kunstler, a lawyer for Mr. Hammond, said on Saturday: “The government’s characterization of Sabu’s role is false. Far from protecting foreign governments, Sabu identified targets and actively facilitated the hacks of their computer systems.”

At his sentencing in November, Mr. Hammond was prohibited by Judge Preska from naming the foreign governments that Mr. Monsegur had asked him to hack. But, according to an uncensored version of a court statement by Mr. Hammond that appeared online that day, the target list included more than 2,000 Internet domains in numerous countries.

Mr. Hammond’s sentencing statement also said that Mr. Monsegur encouraged other hackers to give him data from Syrian government websites, including those of banks and ministries associated with the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Immigrant Advantage (New York Times)

IF you want to die a successful American, especially in the heartland, it helps to be born abroad.

Statistics show that if you are born elsewhere and later acquire American citizenship, you will, on average, earn more than us native-borns, study further, marry at higher rates and divorce at lower rates, fall out of the work force less frequently and more easily dodge poverty.

What’s curious is where this immigrant advantage is most pronounced. In left-leaning, coastal, cosmopolitan America, native-borns seem well groomed by their families, schools and communities to keep up with foreign-borns. It’s in the right-leaning “Walmart America” where foreigners have the greatest advantage.

From Mississippi to West Virginia to Oklahoma, native-borns are struggling to flourish on a par with foreign-born Americans. In the 10 poorest states (just one on the East or West Coast: South Carolina), the median household of native-borns earns 84 cents for every $1 earned by a household of naturalized citizens, compared with 97 cents for native-borns in the richest (and mostly coastal) states, according to Census Bureau data. In the poorest states, foreign-borns are 24 percent less likely than native-borns to report themselves as divorced or separated, but just 3 percent less likely in the richest states. In the poorest states, foreign-borns are 36 percent less likely than native-borns to live in poverty; the disparity collapses to about half that in wealthier states like New Jersey and Connecticut.

This phenomenon came vividly to life for me while I was reporting a book about the brutal collision of a striving immigrant and a hurting native. One was Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh, working in a Dallas minimart in 2001 to save for a wedding and an education; the other, Mark Stroman, shot him in a twisted post-9/11 revenge attack, blinding him in one eye, during a rampage that killed two other immigrant clerks. Mr. Bhuiyan eventually learned more about Mr. Stroman and the world that formed him. What he found astonished him, then inspired him to forgive his attacker and battle to rescue him from death row.

Mr. Bhuiyan realized that he was among the lucky Americans. Even after the attack, he was able to pick up and remake himself, climbing from that minimart to waiting tables at an Olive Garden to six-figure I.T. jobs. But Mr. Bhuiyan also saw the America that created Mr. Stroman, in which a battered working class was suffering from a dearth of work, community and hope, with many people failing to form strong bonds and filling the void with escapist chemicals, looping endlessly between prison and freedom.

Eventually, Mr. Bhuiyan petitioned a Texas court to spare his attacker’s life because he had lacked his victim’s advantages: a loving and sober family, pressure to strive and virtuous habits. The naturalized citizen claimed the native Texan hadn’t had the same shot at the American dream as the “foreigner” he’d tried to kill.

At a time when even the American middle class is struggling, a difficult question arises: Are you better off being born in some of the poorest parts of the world and moving here than being raised in the poorer parts of the United States?

There’s no easy answer. But let’s first acknowledge the obvious: Most naturalized citizens — nearly half of America’s roughly 40 million immigrants — arrived by choice, found employer sponsors, navigated visas and green cards. (We’re not talking here of immigrants who never reach citizenship and generally have harder lives than American citizens, native- or foreign-born.) It’s no accident that our freshest citizens have pluck and wits that favor them later.

BUT I also think there’s something more complicated going on: In those places where mobility’s engine is groaning and the social fabric is fraying, many immigrants may have an added edge because of their ability to straddle the seemingly contradictory values of their birthplaces and their adopted land, to balance individualism with community-mindedness and self-reliance with usage of the system.

American scholars have long warned of declining “social capital”: simply put, people lacking the support of others. In Texas, I encountered the wasteland described by writers from Robert D. Putnam on the left to Charles Murray on the right. In mostly white, exurban communities that often see themselves as above the woes of inner cities, I found household after household where country music songs about family and church play but country-music values have fled: places where a rising generation is often being reared by grandparents because parents are addicted, imprisoned, broke or all three.

In places bedeviled by anomie, immigrants from more family-centered and collectivist societies — Mexico, India, Colombia, Vietnam, Haiti, China — often arrive with an advantageous blend of individualist and communitarian traits.

I say a blend, because while they come from communal societies, they were deserters. They may have been raised with family-first values, but often they were the ones to leave aging parents. It can be a powerful cocktail: a self-willed drive for success and, leavening it somewhat, a sacrificial devotion to family and tribe. Many, even as their lives grow more independent, serve their family oceans away by sending remittances.

Mr. Bhuiyan seemed to embody this dualism. By back-home standards, he was a rugged individualist. But in America it was his takes-a-village embeddedness that enabled his revival: Immigrant friends gave him medicine, sofas to sleep on, free I.T. training and job referrals.

Working at Olive Garden, Mr. Bhuiyan couldn’t believe how his colleagues lacked for support. Young women walked home alone, sometimes in 100-plus degree heat on highways, having no one to give them rides. Many colleagues lacked cars not because they couldn’t afford the lease but because nobody would cosign it. “I feel that, how come they have no one in their family — their dad, their uncle?” he said. They told stories of chaotic childhoods that made them seek refuge in drugs and gangs.

Mr. Bhuiyan concluded that the autonomy for which he’d come to America, while serving him well, failed others who had lacked his support since birth. His republic of self-making was their republic of self-destruction. “Here we think freedom means whatever I wanna do, whatever I wanna say — that is freedom,” he said. “But that’s the wrong definition.”

A second dimension of this in-between-ness involves the role of government. In this era of gridlock and austerity, many immigrants have the advantage of coming from places where bankrupt, do-nothing governments are no surprise. They often find themselves among Americans who are opposite-minded: leaning on the state for economic survival but socially lonesome, without community backup when that state fails.

All this has nothing to do with the superiority of values. If distrust of government made for the most successful societies, Nigeria and Argentina would be leaders of the pack. What’s interesting about so many of America’s immigrants is how they manage to plug instincts cultivated in other places into the system here. Many are trained in their homelands to behave as though the state will do nothing for them, and in America they reap the advantages of being self-starters.

But they also benefit from the systems and support that America does offer, which are inadequate as substitutes for initiative but are useful complements to it.

Like many immigrants, Mr. Bhuiyan operated from the start like an economic loner, never expecting to get much from the government. He was willing to work at a gas station to save money. Recovering in his boss’s home, he ordered I.T. textbooks online to improve his employability. Plunged into debt, he negotiated with doctors and hospitals to trim his bills.

But the system also worked for him. Robust laws prevented employers from exploiting a wide-eyed newcomer. He sued the Texas governor, in pursuit of leniency for his attacker, and was heard. Through a fund for crime victims, Texas eventually paid his medical bills.

In an age of inequality and shaky faith in the American promise of mobility through merit, we can learn from these experiences. Forget the overused idea popularized in self-help guides that native-borns must “think like an immigrant” to prosper, an exhortation that ignores much history. Rather, the success of immigrants in the nation’s hurting places reminds us that the American dream can still work, but it helps to have people to lean on. Many immigrants get that, because where they come from, people are all you have. They recognize that solitude is an extravagance.

American poverty is darkened by loneliness; poverty in so many poor countries I’ve visited is brightened only by community. Helping people gain other people to lean on — not just offering cheaper health care and food stamps, tax cuts and charter schools — seems essential to making this American dream work as well for its perennial flowers as its freshest seeds.

Eduardo Galeano Disavows His Book ‘The Open Veins’ (New York Times)

For more than 40 years, Eduardo Galeano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America” has been the canonical anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist and anti-American text in that region. Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s populist president, even put a copy of the book, which he had called “a monument in our Latin American history,” in President Obama’s hands the first time they met. But now Mr. Galeano, a 73-year-old Uruguayan writer, has disavowed the book, saying that he was not qualified to tackle the subject and that it was badly written. Predictably, his remarks have set off a vigorous regional debate, with the right doing some “we told you so” gloating, and the left clinging to a dogged defensiveness.

“ ‘Open Veins’ tried to be a book of political economy, but I didn’t yet have the necessary training or preparation,” Mr. Galeano said last month while answering questions at a book fair in Brazil, where he was being honored on the 43rd anniversary of the book’s publication. He added: “I wouldn’t be capable of reading this book again; I’d keel over. For me, this prose of the traditional left is extremely leaden, and my physique can’t tolerate it.”

Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, handing President Obama a copy of Eduardo Galeano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America” in 2009. CreditMatthew Cavanaugh/European Pressphoto Agency


“The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent” was written at the dawn of the 1970s, a decade when much of Latin America was governed by repressive right-wing military dictatorships supported by the United States. In this 300-page cri de coeur, Mr. Galeano argued that the riches that first attracted European colonizers, like gold and sugar, gave rise to a system of exploitation that led inexorably to “the contemporary structure of plunder” that he held responsible for Latin America’s chronic poverty and underdevelopment.

Mr. Galeano, whose work includes soccer commentary, poetry, cartoons and histories like “Memory of Fire,” wrote in “Open Veins”: “I know I can be accused of sacrilege in writing about political economy in the style of a novel about love or pirates. But I confess I get a pain from reading valuable works by certain sociologists, political experts, economists and historians who write in code.”

“Open Veins” has been translated into more than a dozen languages and has sold more than a million copies. In its heyday, its influence extended throughout what was then called the third world, including Africa and Asia, until the economic rise of China and India and Brazil seemed to undercut parts of its thesis.

In the United States, “Open Veins” has been widely taught on university campuses since the 1970s, in courses ranging from history and anthropology to economics and geography. But Mr. Galeano’s unexpected takedown of his own work has left scholars wondering how to deal with the book in class.

“If I were teaching this in a course,” said Merilee Grindle, president of the Latin American Studies Association and director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard, “I would take his comments, add them in and use them to generate a far more interesting discussion about how we see and interpret events at different points in time.” And that seems to be exactly what many professors plan to do.

Caroline S. Conzelman, a cultural anthropologist who teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said her first thought was that she wouldn’t change how she used the book, “because it still captures the essence of the emotional memory of being colonized.” But now, she said: “I will have them read what he says about it. It’s good for students to see that writers can think critically about their own work and go back and revise what they meant.”

Michael Yates, the editorial director of Monthly Review Press, Mr. Galeano’s American publisher, dismissed the entire discussion as “nothing but a tempest in a teapot.” “Open Veins” is Monthly Review’s best-selling book — it surged, if briefly, into Amazon’s Top 10 list within hours of Mr. Obama’s receiving a copy — and Mr. Yates said he saw no reason to make any changes: “Please! The book is an entity independent of the writer and anything he might think now.”

Precisely why Mr. Galeano chose to renounce his book now is unclear. Through his American agent, Susan Bergholz, he declined to elaborate. She said he had gradually grown “horrified by the prose and the phraseology” of “Open Veins.”

The Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, in 2012. CreditSergio Goya/dpa-Corbis


Mr. Yates said Mr. Galeano might simply be following in the tracks of the novelist John Dos Passos, a radical as a young man “who became a conservative when he got older.” On Spanish- and Portuguese-language websites, others have suggested that Mr. Galeano, who in recent years has had both a heart attack and cancer, might simply be off his game intellectually.

In his remarks in Brazil, Mr. Galeano acknowledged that the left sometimes “commits grave errors” when it is in power, which has been taken in Latin America as a criticism of Cuba under the Castro brothers and of the erratic stewardship of Venezuela under Mr. Chávez, who died last year. But Mr. Galeano described himself as still very much a man of the left, and on other occasions he has praised the experiments in social democracy underway for the last decade in his own country, as well as in Brazil and Chile.

“Reality has changed a lot, and I have changed a lot,” he said in Brazil, adding: “Reality is much more complex precisely because the human condition is diverse. Some political sectors close to me thought such diversity was a heresy. Even today, there are some survivors of this type who think that all diversity is a threat. Fortunately, it is not.”

Still, Mr. Galeano has caught many admirers by surprise, including the Chilean novelist Isabel Allende, who wrote a foreword for the English-language edition of “Open Veins.” In it, she describes how she “devoured” the book as a young woman “with such emotion that I had to read it again a couple more times to absorb all its meaning” and took it into exile after Gen. Augusto Pinochet seized power.

“I had dinner with him less than a year ago, and to me, he was the same man, passionate and talkative and interesting and funny,” she said of Mr. Galeano in a telephone interview from California, where she now lives. “He may have changed, and I didn’t notice it, but I don’t think so.”

In the mid-1990s, three advocates of free-market policies — the Colombian writer and diplomat Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, the exiled Cuban author Carlos Alberto Montaner and the Peruvian journalist and author Álvaro Vargas Llosa — reacted to Mr. Galeano with a polemic of their own, “Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot.” They dismissed “Open Veins” as “the idiot’s bible,” and reduced its thesis to a single sentence: “We’re poor; it’s their fault.”

Mr. Montaner responded to Mr. Galeano’s recent remarks with a blog post titled “Galeano Corrects Himself and the Idiots Lose Their Bible.” In Brazil,Rodrigo Constantino, the author of “The Caviar Left,” took an even harsher tone, blaming Mr. Galeano’s analysis and prescription for many of Latin America’s ills. “He should feel really guilty for the damage he caused,” he wrote on his blog.

But Mr. Galeano continues to have defenders. In a discussion on the website of the Spanish newspaper El País, one participant noted that in a world dominated by Apple, Samsung, Siemens, Panasonic, Sony and Airbus, Mr. Galeano’s lament that “the goddess of technology does not speak Spanish” seems even more prescient than in 1971.

And on his Facebook page, Camilo Egaña, a Cuban émigré who is the host of “Mirador Mundial” on CNN en Español, remembered meeting Mr. Galeano in Havana in the 1980s and hearing him tell a story about a man taking his son to the ocean for the first time. “In the face of that interminable blue, the child said to the man, ‘Daddy, help me to see,’ ” Mr. Egaña recalled.

“That is what Galeano has done with his book, 43 years after it having been published,” Mr. Egaña concluded. “Thank you.”

Ciência busca fármacos em formigas (O Estado de São Paulo)

JC e-mail 4958, de 23 de maio de 2014

Pesquisa apoiada pelo NIH e Fapesp vai estudar bactérias que vivem na carapaça dos insetos e têm capacidade de destruir fungos

A busca por moléculas naturais capazes de combater doenças em seres humanos sempre foi um trabalho “de formiguinha” da ciência, envolvendo a coleta, isolamento e análise de milhares de compostos de plantas, animais e micróbios da natureza, que precisam ser testados, um a um, sobre uma grande variedade de alvos terapêuticos. No caso de um novo projeto de pesquisa anunciado ontem, porém, essa expressão ganha sentido literal.

Cientistas do Brasil e dos Estados Unidos vão, literalmente, enfiar a mão em formigueiros e coletar formigas por todo o País em busca de novas moléculas capazes de destruir fungos, parasitas e, quem sabe, até células cancerígenas. Não nos insetos propriamente ditos, mas nas bactérias que vivem sobre suas carapaças e impedem que suas colônias subterrâneas sejam contaminadas por fungos nocivos à sua sobrevivência.

O projeto foi aprovado “com louvor” num edital conjunto dos Institutos Nacionais de Saúde dos Estados Unidos (NIH) e da Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (Fapesp), cujo resultado foi anunciado ontem pelo presidente do NIH, Francis Collins, em sua primeira visita ao Brasil. O projeto está previsto para durar cinco anos, e o valor de financiamento ainda não foi divulgado oficialmente pelas instituições.

Mônica TallaricoPupo, da Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas da Universidade de São Paulo (USP) em Ribeirão Preto, é a pesquisadora principal do lado brasileiro. Jon Clardy, de Harvard, lidera pelo lado americano.

A meta, segundo Mônica, é isolar cerca de 500 linhagens de bactérias simbiontes de formigas por ano, para serem testadas contra fungos infecciosos (que atacam, principalmente, pacientes com sistema imunológico comprometido), parasitas tropicais (em especial, os da doença de Chagas e leishmaniose) e células tumorais.

“Vamos começar pelas formigas agricultoras”, diz ela, que já desenvolve um projeto semelhante, de menor escala, com formigas saúvas. Agora, serão coletadas amostras de várias espécies, de biomas brasileiros: Amazônia, Cerrado, Mata Atlântica e Caatinga.

Fazendeiras. O termo “agricultoras” refere-se ao fato de essas formigas cultivarem “plantações” de fungos dentro de seus formigueiros. Os pedaços de folhas que elas carregam para dentro das colônias não é alimento para elas, mas para os fungos – que, por sua vez, são o verdadeiro alimento das formigas.

Como todo bom agricultor, as formigas não querem que suas plantações sejam contaminadas por pragas – neste caso, fungos oportunistas, que não servem de alimento para elas. E quem evita que elas carreguem esporos desses fungos para dentro dos formigueiros são bactérias que vivem em suas carapaças e destroem rapidamente esses organismos.

A meta dos cientistas é estudar essas bactérias e descobrir as moléculas que elas usam para destruir os fungos. Feito isso, a esperança é que algumas dessas moléculas sirvam como base para o desenvolvimento de novos fármacos.

A vantagem com relação a projetos semelhantes, que buscam moléculas com ação farmacológica na biodiversidade, é que a “triagem inicial de bactérias já foi feita pelas formigas”, aponta Mônica.

Collins falou com entusiasmo do projeto nesta quinta-feira, 22, na Fapesp. “Não é uma ideia incrível?”, disse. “Uma série de compostos completamente novos poderá emergir dessa pesquisa.” O projeto recebeu a melhor nota entre todos que foram submetidos ao NIH no edital.

(O Estado de São Paulo),ciencia-busca-farmacos-em-formigas,1170284,0.htm

Fauna brasileira registra 1.051 espécies em extinção, ante 627 em 2003 (O Estado de São Paulo)

JC e-mail 4958, de 23 de maio de 2014

Coordenador do estudo disse que situação não piorou, pois ‘o universo analisado quintuplicou’; ministra do Meio Ambiente anunciou pacote de medidas para a fauna brasileira

O estudo Avaliação do Risco de Extinção da Fauna Brasileira, desenvolvido por 929 especialistas entre 2010 e 2014, mostra que atualmente 1.051 espécies de animais estão ameaçadas de extinção. Na primeira edição, de 2003, eram 627.

“A situação não piorou. O universo analisado quintuplicou, daí o aumento da lista”, afirmou o diretor de pesquisa, avaliação e monitoramento de biodiversidade do Instituto Chico Mendes, Marcelo Marcelino, responsável pela coordenação do trabalho.

Ao todo, foram avaliadas 7.647 espécies. Do total, 11 foram consideradas extintas, 121 tiveram sua situação agravada. A situação piorou, por exemplo, para o tatu-bola. “Seu habitat, a caatinga, vem sofrendo uma redução. Além disso, a espécie é muito vulnerável à caça”, completou. Para outras 126, a ameaça foi reduzida, mas ainda persiste.

O trabalho mostra que 77 espécies saíram da situação de risco – entre elas, a baleia Jubarte. Em 2012, foram contabilizados 15 mil indivíduos, quantidade significativamente maior do que os 9 mil encontrados em 2008. Duas espécies dos macacos uacaris e o peixe-grama também saíram da situação de perigo.

Os números foram apresentados nesta quinta-feira, 22, pela ministra do Meio Ambiente, Izabella Teixeira. Além do balanço, ela anunciou um pacote de medidas para tentar preservar a fauna brasileira. Entre as ações, está a moratória da pesca e comercialização da piracatinga, por cinco anos.

A regra, que começa a valer a partir de janeiro de 2015, tem como objetivo proteger o boto vermelho e jacarés, que são usados como isca. “Vamos criar um grupo para tentar encontrar alternativas a essa prática”, afirmou Izabella. A pesca acidental e comercialização de tubarão-martelo e lombo-preto também estão proibidas, a partir da agora. As duas medidas foram adotadas em parceria com o Ministério da Pesca e Aquicultura.

Izabella anunciou também a criação de uma força-tarefa de fiscalização, formada pelo Ibama, ICMBio e Polícia Federal para combater a caça de fauna ameaçada, como peixe-boi da Amazônia, boto cor-de-rosa, arara azul de lear, onça pintada, tatu-bola, tubarões, arraias de água doce e a extensão da bolsa verde para comunidades em situação de vulnerabilidade econômica em regiões consideradas relevantes para conservação de espécies ameaçadas de extinção. A bolsa será no valor de R$ 100 mensais.

(O Estado de São Paulo),fauna-brasileira-registra-1051-especies-em-extincao-ante-627-em-2003,1170125,0.htm