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The Panama News blog links

a Panama-centric selection of other people’s work
una selección Panamá-céntrica de las obras de otras personas

Canal, Maritime & Transportation / Canal, Marítima & Transporte

AJOT, Tug and infrastructure problems dog expanded Panama Canal

AJOT, Expanded Panama Canal performance exceeds expectations

Handy Shipping Guide, PanCanal issues new clean fuel regs

Argus, ACP plans 10-day outage of Gatun’s east lane

9 News Denver, Denver regains nonstop air service to and from Panama

AFP, Police block protest against Nicaragua Canal

Sports / Deportes

ESPN, Junior lightweight champ Jezreel Corrales signs with Golden Boy

Baltimore Ravens, Rod Carew got the heart of a former Raven

EFE, Panamá tendrá sus primeros juegos ancestrales indígenas

ESPN FC, Seven held in Amilcar Henríquez slaying

Economy / Economía

La Estrella, Ingresos del gobierno están 10% por debajo de la meta

EIN News: Panama beer market 2017 shares, trends and forecast

TVN, Superintendencia de Bancos ordena liquidación de FPB Bank

CTBR, Enel starts operations of new 42MW solar plant in Panama

InSight Crime, Salvadoran crime boss said to launder money via Panama companies

Eyes on Trade, Trump’s trade flip-flops

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

Smithsonian’s National Zoo, A vanishing species reappears

Telemetro: Descubren en Panamá un nuevo camarón, lo nombran Pink Floyd

BBC, Massive new spider with red fangs found in Mexican caves

Mosaic, Climate change is turning dehydration into a deadly epidemic

Business Insider, What Earth would look like if the ice melted

CSM, Antarctica’s network of meltwater rivers bigger than thought

The Verge, Uber aroused Apple’s ire over iPhone tagging practices

ALAI, Just Net Coalition opposes Encrypted Media Extensions net standards

News / Noticias

Telemetro, Vicepresidenta se muestra a favor de uniones civiles del mismo sexo

La Estrella, Abad alega anomalías en venta de Epasa

Mi Diario, Católicos y evangélicos se enfrentan en procesión

CBS Denver, Peace Corps worker’s family meets with Varela after tragedy

Reuters, Mossack and Fonseca get bail

The Nation, Sharif wounded by Panama Papers verdict but lives to fight on

NL Times, More Dutch connections found in Panama Papers investigation

El País, Expresidente salvadoreño señalado por recibir US$1,5 millones de Odebrecht

AWID, The women behind El Salvador’s historic environmental victory

The Independent, Former MI6 chief says Trump borrowed money from Russia

The Intercept, Bernie’s Russian campaign adviser speaks out

DW, Americans skip Afghanistan-Taliban conference in Moscow

El País, Legisladores republicanos cuestionan la utilidad del muro

The Intercept: Assange strikes back at CIA director, talks Trump, Russia, and Clinton

Opinion / Opiniones

Rather, Trump’s worst week yet

Skidelsky, Trump’s war policy in Syria

Targ: The neocons, the humanitarian interventionists and the new Trump

Beckman, Secretary Clinton and the Honduran Coup

Boff, Globalization or Planetization?

WOLA, Uribe’s “Message to US Authorities” about Colombia’s peace effort

Vidal Payán, ¿Cómo el incremento de 1,5 °C afectaría a Panamá?

Blades, Sobre los recientes sucesos en Venezuela

Culture / Cultura

Taibbi, New Book brutalizes the Clinton campaign

Trinidad Guardian, Panama Canal stories both connect and divide

 

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Ayotzinapa
México: al peso de leyes, faltamos 43. Foto por CIDH.

Entre la ley y el disfrute: desafío de los derechos humanos en América Latina

por FLACSO México

Como parte del ciclo Los derechos humanos en tiempos de odio fueron presentados en la FLACSO México los resultados de una investigación sobre la relación entre la institucionalización de los derechos humanos y su ejercicio efectivo en algunos países de América Latina.

Este trabajo es una continuación del libro Entre el pesimismo y la esperanza: Los derechos humanos en América Latina. Metodología para su estudio y medición, un ambicioso esfuerzo de la FLACSO México para establecer en la región las relaciones entre las diferentes formas en que se ha institucionalizado la protección de los derechos humanos con la economía, la democracia y el efectivo ejercicio de estos derechos.

Este nuevo estudio parte de la hipótesis según la cual entre más institucionalización de los derechos humanos hay un mayor disfrute. La investigación, realizada en Ecuador, Uruguay y México, dio resultados contrarios. Mejor: atípicos, como lo demostraron Luis Daniel Vázquez, Karina Ansolabehere y Francisco Valdés Ugalde, investigadores de la Facultad.

Luis Daniel Vázquez presentó el caso ecuatoriano, en el que hay una alta institucionalización de los derechos humanos pero poco disfrute por la población. Para Vázquez esto puede deberse a que Ecuador ha pasado recientemente por largos procesos de inestabilidad política y una crisis económica muy profunda.

Y es que, explicó el especialista, “sin democratización y sin una economía sana no puede haber un ejercicio sano de los derechos humanos”. Si bien Ecuador es un ejemplo de incorporación de los derechos fundamentales a las leyes e instituciones, ha quedado aletargado en su implementación.

En sentido contrario se presenta el caso de Uruguay, país en el que existe un alto disfrute de los derechos y poca y tardía institucionalización. En ese país los derechos humanos están cimentados en dos pilares: instituciones de bienestar muy fuertes y un sólido Estado de Derecho concebido en sentido tradicional, argumentó la especialista Karina Ansolabehere.

“Uruguay tiene un piso fértil en materia democrática. Cuenta además con un movimiento sindical independiente y de izquierda que ha sido un actor fundamental en la demanda de derechos humanos. En materia económica, ha habido una evolución del salario mínimo y una mejora en el salario medio, además de una baja en los precios de los alimentos”.

Para Ansolabehere, Uruguay es un caso paradigmático, porque ha compatibilizado la tradición de igualdad distributiva con las nuevas demandas para el reconocimiento de la igualdad en otros planos en materia de género, niñez y juventud.

México, “el país donde todo es a medias”

El investigador y director de la FLACSO México, Francisco Valdés Ugalde presentó los hallazgos para el caso mexicano: una institucionalización intermedia y un goce medio de los derechos humanos.

Valdés Ugalde explicó que a partir de los noventa hubo fuertes avances normativos que culminaron con la reforma del 2011 y con movilizaciones sociales, de recursos políticos y de políticas públicas en dirección a una mayor protección de los derechos.

Sin embargo “una cosa es lo que se dice y otra lo que se hace”, puntualizó Valdés. Para él la explicación podría encontrarse en que “la cultura política mexicana está atada a las viejas estructuras funcionales del sistema hegemónico” en la que es típico pugnar por tener una constitución ejemplar pero que no puede llevarse a la práctica.

El especialista en Estado de Derecho y cultura de la legalidad señaló, además, que existe una inercia y resistencia por parte del Estado para liberar al poder judicial, resistencia que nace incluso en el propio poder judicial por estar muy arraigado a viejas tradiciones.

Una baja democratización y una economía poco consolidada, aunado a esta reincidencia generalizada en las malas prácticas hegemónicas son un terreno poco fértil para la institucionalización y el ejercicio de los derechos humanos en México: “es como sembrar maíz en el desierto”, apuntó Valdés.

Los mexicanos, ahondó, no saben a dónde acudir para recibir asesoría judicial de calidad, predomina entre los ciudadanos el “más vale un mal arreglo que un buen pleito” porque acudir al sistema de justicia genera desconfianza y significa que el más débil va a perder.

Para concluir con un ejemplo claro, el director de la FLACSO México presentó una pirámide invertida en la que se observa que en México entre 2006 y 2014 hay 23 mil personas desaparecidas, 291 casos en manos de la justicia y tan sólo seis sentencias emitidas. “Esto nos da cuenta en un caso específico que la falta de acción del Estado mexicano es claramente patente”.

 

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march
The marchers straggled in a leisurely stroll from the BioMuseo to Punta Culebra, where they were met by others. Absent were any signs or chants condemning any person, institution or faction in particular.

What? Your mama never told you? Science is cool…

photos and story by Eric Jackson

On Saturday, April 22 — Earth Day — some 300 or more people gathered first in smaller numbers for a day of activities at Panama City’s iconic BioMuseo and then for a march along the Amador Causeway to Punta Culebra. Such was the Panama version of the worldwide March for Science.

The march began as a movement in the United States, in reaction to the election of an anti-scientific president and congress by and large by people who believe that “alternative facts” convenient to them but which they are unable to prove are as true as those propositions for which there is solid, even in some cases incontrovertible, evidence. Among the powerful but unscientific beliefs the provoking the protest are notions of an inherent racial pecking order of superiority and inferiority, evolution as an elaborate anti-religious hoax, and above all that there is no climate change or if there is human activity has nothing to do with it. Here in Panama the scientific staff of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), formally an autonomous US government entity, is indirectly but nevertheless really vulnerable to those sorts of politics. However, there are Panamanians who work in science and many public controversies here involve science or its negation, so there is a local panoply of issues, which mobilized a mostly Panamanian (even if very international) crowd to the event.

Panama does have physicians, teachers, cartographers, entomologists, vaccine researchers, environmental sleuths, computer scientists, meteorologists, ichthyologists and hydrologists among those who are trying to bring science to bear on public policies. At the moment the hot-button issue here is whether there should be sex education in the schools. But that, like most of the other controversies on the isthmus and in the USA tend to involve the assertions of those who believe that in public policy decisions their personal economic interests or their personal religious beliefs should count more than what can be shown by evidence.

There were a bunch of Smithsonian people present, but there was no formal contingent from the institution. The politics are and always have been dicey for a branch of the US government with an international staff operating in the sovereign Republic of Panama. This particular Panamanian administration was sympathetic enough to the cause to sponsor various Earth Day observances and have the Ministry of Environment, the Gorgas Memorial Institute and SENACYT participating in the March for Science activities. But there is a lot of anti-foreigner agitation by scandal-plagued politicians looking to distract public attention from their own sordid records en route to hoped-for reelection, and it can’t be automatically ruled out that on this date three years from now eminent scientists from all over the world will be denied visas to work at STRI on the theory that those jobs ought to be reserved for Panamanians. Panamanian government workers were there, but there were any Panamanian politicians working the crowd.

There were people from a number of environmental, social or political organizations or movements present, but most in their personal capacities. An exception to this trend was Panama’s chapter of the international Climate Change Lobby, which seeks to slow climate change by imposing fees for carbon emissions that cause people and institutions to change their behavior.

Did it change anybody’s mind? There were no counter-demonstrators, nor hostile reactions from people driving by. A number of drivers did signal their sympathy with their voices or their horns. But Panama is on the whole poorly educated and this makes it a daunting task to deliver the word to the four million or so people who were not there.

 

vac
The viruses and bacteria that cause tropical diseases are mutating and moving around with their vectors and the habitats in which animals that carry them live. And in Panama, there are people testing new vaccines to join the battle against these diseases.

 

Charlotte
Charlotte Elton, who was one of the key advocates of protecting the former Fort Sherman and the Piña firing range across the Chagres River from it from sale to developers, was one of three speakers about Panama’s protected areas. While the good news is that nearly half of Panama’s territory is listed as protected, in almost every case there are missing elements that lessen the protection. Sherman and the Piña Range did become the San Lorenzo protected area, but Elton’s hopes that it would become a national park have not come to pass. Meanwhile the new bridge across the Atlantic Side entrance to the Panama Canal and long-made plans to connect Colon to Bocas del Toro by a road and a power line running along the Caribbean coast suggest that the next step after the new bridge is done will be a roadway crossing the protected area and the Chagres, headed toward points west. A good or a bad idea? Elton says it depends on how it is done. But as she had no plans or proposals to cite to those who came to hear her presentation, the impression left is that there will be an opaque deal driven by construction companies and the public officials who take their bribes, in which the effects on a protected wild area will get little consideration.

 

march begins
A last respite of shade before marching off into the sun.

 

out of the BioMuseo
Waiting for people to come out of the museum before starting the march.

 

CCL
The drivers of cars passing by honked in support. If any of the ships passing on the other side sounded their horns, we didn’t hear them.

 

To certain sorts of people, the only issue related to bats is which exterminator to call. But STRI has been a center of noteworthy research on bats, which are crucial for the existence of tropical forests. The late German scientist Elizabeth Kolko headed such research at STRI and her successors have published some acclaimed new work. But scientists need funding to do well at such pursuits.

 

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bond

The public debt

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

Amidst the daily whirlpool of corruption scandals that characterize our governing ineptocracy, and while the local bribe givers and takers of Odebrecht go unpunished, the public debt grows merrily and unabashedly.

The cosmetic government information nevertheless leaves it known that “the public debt grew $4.296 billion in 33 months.” That is, “during the Juan Carlos Varela administration the foreign debt grew $3.872 billion (29.3 percent) while the internal debt went up $452.3 million (10.3 percent).”

Recall that the public debt is divided into internal and external. The internal debt is the one that the state owes to creditors within the country and the external public debt is the one that must be paid abroad. Running up the public debt has been a permanent practice of the governments that we have had since 1968.

“The public debt is the obligation generated against the state by reason of the acquisition by it of goods or services on credit or of the pre-payments it has received from individuals, foreign governments, suppliers, international banks and multilateral entities: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), the Eximbank and others. “

Panama is, day by day, an ultra-indebted country. In June of 2014 Panama’s foreign debt was $17.668 billion. In March of this year it went up to $21.964 billion. Meanwhile the internal public debt is $4.856 billion. That adds up to a net public debt of $26.820 billion, without counting other financial liabilities.

The Panamanian people shoulder this serious burden as the result of the political irresponsibility of successive governments, which are also responsible for the immense social debt of which we know.

If we do not quickly find mechanisms of citizen control over these debt policies of the political party system and its agents, we will not escape unstoppable social violence.

 

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NannaNanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir of Of Monsters and Men

Free form from an old buzzard not yet dead to newer sounds

Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
https://youtu.be/aMZ4QL0orw0

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
https://youtu.be/EbZYRZpNc64

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
https://youtu.be/Z0cBa4xXXvE

The Heptones – Country Boy
https://youtu.be/lz7KNVaral4

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Hey Joe
https://youtu.be/rXwMrBb2x1Q

Natalia Lafourcade – Tú sí sabes quererme
https://youtu.be/ABLT6hdgEek

Alice Phoebe Lou – Fiery Heart, Fiery Mind
https://youtu.be/KuAXv5qaSbQ

Black Motion w/ Nokwazi – Imali
https://youtu.be/HuslzuKdMGk

Cultura Profética – Música sin tiempo
https://youtu.be/j9cXmu8H5D8

Spirit – Nature’s Way
https://youtu.be/gxchFl39rUE

Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton & Emmylou Harris – After the Gold Rush
https://youtu.be/tHTuxSzUacg

Café Tacvba – FUTURO
https://youtu.be/bRiJtAYMkv4

Nina Simone – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
https://youtu.be/wfesHDG9i78

Hozier – To Be Alone
https://youtu.be/ZcDxk9CSTo8

Peter Tosh – Mystic Man
https://youtu.be/m7xCPgy5VeA

Of Monsters and Men Unplugged
https://youtu.be/5Me3KujRbas

 

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shore bird
An immature heron or egret ~ Una garza o garceta inmadura

A young shore bird ~ Una ave playera juvenil

photo and note by Kermit Nourse ~ foto y nota por Kermit Nourse

Today’s bird from Panama is an immature heron or egret. It is probably a snowy egret. This one crosses a texture of tracks from the many birds before him. In the distance I could see thousands of waterfowl gathered at the shoreline.

La ave de hoy de Panamá es una garza o garceta inmadura. Es probablemente una garceta nívea. Éste cruza una textura de pistas de muchas aves antes de él. En la distancia podría ver miles de la ave acuática juntada en la línea de la costa.

 

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Barro Blanco
European Commission publishes new study on Clean Development Mechanism — the study finds that 73 percent of potential offsets to be issued under the scheme between 2013 and 2020 are worthless. Photo of Barro Blanco — a carbon credit supported project — by CIEL.

New study adds urgency to end
UN carbon offsetting scheme

by Carbon Market Watch

The European Commission has released a new study showing major flaws in carbon offsets from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As countries flesh out the rules to implement the Paris Agreement, Carbon Market Watch calls for an end to the scheme, and a shift away from offsetting as a climate policy approach.

The Commission’s study, carried out by the Öko-Institut, finds that 85 percent of projects covered in the analysis and 73 percent of the potential supply of CDM credits from 2013 to 2020 are unlikely to deliver “real, measurable and additional” emission reductions. If these carbon credits were to be used, this could lead to an increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions of over 3.5 billion tons of CO2 from 2013 to 2020 alone, equivalent to almost two years of emissions in the EU Emissions Trading System.

Flaws in offsetting

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that shows manifold problems with using carbon offsets. The findings follow a similar study from 2015 showing that the Joint Implementation offsetting system, led to increased emissions of approximately 600 million tonnes.

“These new findings are not surprising but they are another reminder that carbon offsetting has not worked as a reliable climate tool.” said Aki Kachi, Carbon Market Watch’s International Policy Director. “The CDM and the emissions shifting concept of offsetting are not fit for the climate challenges ahead — the Paris Agreement’s changed policy landscape calls for a new approach to international climate cooperation.”

Demand from aviation

The most probable buyers of these CDM credits could be the aviation industry through its recently established offset market: the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). The scheme intends to accept CDM and other UN credits that meet additional standards which the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aim to finalize this year.

“It’s baffling to think that the aviation industry could potentially use credits that do nothing to compensate for their rapidly growing climate impact. To avoid greenwashing, aviation’s new offset market has to exclude credits that have not proven to be effective.” Kelsey Perlman, Aviation Policy Officer at Carbon Market Watch.

Negotiations on the role of carbon market mechanisms under the Paris Agreement reconvene next month at the UNFCCC intersessional in Bonn, Germany.

the scheme of things

 

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out, Camilo
They got their wish, sort of. Dr. Camilo Alleyne’s Ministry of Health did not create the poisonous cough syrup. However, it also failed to rise to the ensuing crisis to protect public health. As would have happened anyway with Panama’s five-year political rotation, he did leave the minister’s post. He’s still a figure in PRD politics but the scandal still taints his reputation. 2006 archive photo by Eric Jackson.

More than a decade later, the high court adjusts sentences for a mass poisoning

by Eric Jackson

An erstwhile corporate executive and four former Seguro Social employees will be going to prison, and several other former public employees, including former social security director René Luciani, also received prison terms, but for less than four years and thus with the time behind bars avoidable by $1 per day fines. The company man got five years and four low-level former government workers got 15 years apiece for changing expiration date labels on what turned out to be toxic lab chemicals. Thus spake the Penal Bench of the Supreme Court, which revoked some lower court acquittals and adjusted some sentences. Appeals might be made to the full court or to the Inter-American Human Rights Court, but most probably the result is final. The ruling comes after nearly 11 years of legal and political wrangling, some of it with partisan, racial or class overtones.

At the time, there was all sorts of misinformation and disinformation swirling about and this reporter was not the only one hoodwinked by some of it. But with the passage of time, a lot of good work by various lawyers and reporters and persistent demands for the truth, we know the basic outlines of what happened, if not such details as a precise death count.

In the summer of 2006, with the Torrijos administration and ACP running a full-blast campaign to win a canal expansion referendum, patients started to die mysterious deaths at or shortly after visiting Seguro Social (CSS) and Ministry of Health facilities. News that this was happening was suppressed for many weeks by a government anxious to avoid any distraction from the state-funded “yes” campaign.

As part of that campaign, the president and first lady were helicoptering around the country to remote village in the indigenous comarcas and other boondocks venues, distributing non-prescription medicines at many of their stops.

People were being poisoned by sugar-free cough syrup, generally recommended for diabetics and also for senior citizens and others trying to lose weight or reduce their sugar intake. Some 20,000 flasks of the syrup — so it is estimated — had been mixed at the Seguro Social medicine lab, where deadly toxic diethylene glycol (DEG) that has been mislabeled as glycerin was mistakenly added.

So how did THAT happen? The New York Times reporter Walt Bogdanich followed the trail to China and back and won a Pulitzer Prize for it. In China at the Taixing Glicerin Factory the stuff was labeled “substitute glycerin” — in Chinese. DEG can be used in place of glycerin for certain things, but definitely not for human consumption. It was then marketed as medicinal grade via a Chinese exporter, CNSC Fortune Way. A Spanish wholesaler, Rasfer Internacional, ordered a lot of glycerin and was sent a mix of glycerin and DEG. There is some question about whether labels were changed in China between manufacture and export, but the stuff was sent off and in Spain the labels were changed to say glycerin. Then, in 2003, a Panamanian import company with beneficial ownership still undisclosed pursuant to this country’s corporate secrecy laws, Medicom SA, put in the order to the Spanish wholesaler, thinking to resell to the CSS lab.

In September 2004 the presidency passed from Mireya Moscoso to Martín Torrijos and although it is routinely denied by most players in the Panamanian political system, so did the political patronage pecking order of which companies get government contracts.

Medicom, having again changed the labels to extend the expiration date, sold the mislabeled DEG, in a lot with look-alike containers that actually contained glycerin, to the CSS lab.

Once in the government’s possession, at some point the chemicals were looking older than optimal. Instead of testing them, people at the CSS department of Pharmacy and Drugs switched the labels again to once more falsify the expiration dates.

The DEG was mixed into sugar-free cough syrup and diphenhydramine (the main ingredient in the antihistamine Benadryl and the sleep aid Sominex). Neither the ingredients before mixing nor the medications after mixing were tested, either at the CSS lab or at the University of Panama’s lab that has a statutory mandate to certify all medicines used in the Republic of Panama.

Why no testing? Lawyers have argued back and forth but the record suggests that budget requests for the equipment, reagent chemicals and labor needed to do systematic medicine testing were made and routinely rejected over many years, to the point at which any such request was considered a routine formality that was not to be taken seriously. That then led to triangular finger-pointing among CSS directors, CSS boards and the national government over the funding that never came.

Probably sometime late in 2005 or early in 2006 the DEG started to be mixed into medicines. The first officially noted death from the poison came on August 2 but CSS and Ministry of Health physicians and staff say that the problem was noticed several weeks before that. The medical findings of those affected — no fevers or signs of infection — would have suggested a toxin. But the Torrijos administration suppressed news of the deaths and illnesses as a part of its canal expansion publicity campaign, and people who had not been alerted of any problem continued to get the tainted medicine and die or become ill from it.

People in the CSS and Ministry of Health raised the alarm, at first to limited effect because most of the major media were being paid many millions of dollars by the government both to publish advertising and to slant the news in favor of the “yes” campaign. It wasn’t until late September when word got out in the press, and then there was a big public panic that significantly reduced the numbers of those seeking help from the public health care system. (There is probably a death toll from the panic, of people who should have sought attention but failed to do so due to their fears and died as a result.) The panic, breaking on the eve of the referendum, elicited claims by the government that they did not know, and then a usual show of an underdeveloped country’s helpless posture of calling in the Americans. The US Centers for Disease Control quickly identified the problem.

So how many died? Officially 107, but by any reasonable count in excess of 400. The Torrijos administration delayed the purchase of testing materials until after the positive identification of such cases became possible due to the deterioration of tissue samples and their chemical residues. As a money and political reputation saving ploy, the government then asserted that without a positive test result, a DEG death did not happen.

Deaths out in the comarcas, beyond doctors and where there was no question of any autopsy? Those folks were not counted.

Hell was raised, proofs like medicine flasks with DEG residues were produced and ultimately hundreds of people left ill, some of whom died later but before their actuarial times, were officially accepted to be DEG victims and awarded a measure of special care and compensation.

The question on many minds and lips was “Who is Medicom?” A viral rumor was that its beneficial owner or owners were the offspring of then Housing Minister Balbina Herrera, who went on to be the PRD’s 2009 presidential candidate. When the question was put to her she did not directly answer but berated the reporter for going after he family. We still do not know who owned Medicom. Whether true or false, however, that rumor — and the attitude that it’s acceptable for a political candidate to duck such a question — let to Herrera’s crushing election defeat, from which she has made no significant comeback as a public figure or influential party leader.

The initial finger of blame pointed at lab director Linda Thomas, a black woman, who pleaded that she had no budget to test the chemicals. That went a long way toward breaking up what had been a solid PRD advantage among Afro-Panamanian voters, and later to black public officials elected in 2009 on the PRD ticket switching to Ricardo Martinelli’s Cambio Democratico party. After took over the presidency he engineered some specious partisan assignments of blame, having his subservient prosecutors accuse Moscoso-era Seguro Social directors Juan Jované and Rolando Villalaz. For years the case went up and down the penal court system with defendants being added and subtracted, sometimes being added again.

There was never any attempt to investigate the cover-ups, neither between when the poisonings became known and when the public was informed, nor after the problem was generally known but steps were taken to block evidence of its full extent, nor the Martinelli-era attempts at partisan blame shifts.

In China? The director of the State Food and Drug Administration of China, Zheng Xiaoyu, was not charged with a role in the deaths, but was accused of taking bribes to allow the export of the DEG and other chemicals without proper safeguards. He was tried on May 29, 2007, sentenced to death and executed on July 10 of that same year.

 

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new locks
Padding that’s scraped off from ships hitting the walls in the chambers of the new locks. The ACP is bringing up some employees on disciplinary charges for disseminating photos like this. Although it’s treated as a labor/management matter, it goes to the heart of freedom of the press. Photo from the UCOC Twitter feed.

Six days without a post, but…

an explanation, apology and update from the editor

Holy Week in the Interior.

Was the blow telegraphed by word from someone whom I know and trust that an engineer type was accusing me of spreading baseless rumors from the social media by passing on EFE reports and tales from the Nicaraguan and Honduran press that our exploding transformers in Panama City caused blackouts as far as those countries? Was insight given after the fact by the man from ETESA assigning blame to the company that made the two blown-up transformers that put the Panama City and Colon metro area in the dark? In any case, on Easter Sunday and the five preceding days the power fluctuated quite severely out here in the boonies of Cocle. Was it something local, with branches hitting a line? Was it a matter of “aftershocks” from the blackouts in the city that didn’t turn our lights out at the time? I’m not and engineer but in any case we had nearly a week of brownouts that might as well have been blackouts, which first of all made it hard for me to work my usual long days and moreover made it dangerous to do so. As in, my luck finally taking a bad turn and my main production computer becoming unable to connect to the Internet with one series of fluctuations. This, while the backup computer also remained more or less on the blink. I am going to need to scrape up the bucks to take one or both of the old computers to the shop

Fortunately, I have a new computer to be my super-duper main working tool. Unfortunately, a bunch of passwords that I had forgotten were locked up in the old production machine. Fortune has nothing to do with the amount of labor required to transfer The Panama News production to a new machine — it’s a lot, and I can be lazy and procrastinate. Leave it to the electric company to force me out of my lethargy. But then it was Holy Week, so some of the people and institutions I had to contact were out of touch for a few days, and in any case I was mostly unable to work as the power supply was so low that I was recharging the computer battery through fitful brownouts, working until the charge was exhausted and then resuming work when the off and on power had been on enough for another recharge. It was a great excuse to spend most of Easter sleeping. (The sleep control in my scheme of things is the kung fu attack cat in my life, Grasshopper, who will and did let me know in no uncertain terms that my indolence is an unacceptable reason for him not being fed on time.)

Sorry about that.

But after the new computer was brought online and before the connection to this page was re-established, I was continuing publication on The Panama News Facebook page. You did know that this page is a vast extension, a blog with far more content and all the freewheeling discussion, that also keeps us in publication when hackers get the temporary upper hand, I haven’t raised the money to renew the web hosting (that annual bill will come due in about June), I am working on a new or insecure or other person’s computer or so on. This past week was a “so on,” and if you don’t look at the Facebook page these are some of the stories and photos you missed:

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to The Panama News archive, and…

Panama’s large Vene community and a small group that hates them

¿Wappin? It’s a classical Easter

Editorials: Gay marriage here? and Russia, Odebrecht et al

Some new paintings by George Scribner

A late dry season morning at Balboa Stadium

Avnery, Cui bono?

Bendib, Trump’s new human rights group

Muestra de cine taiwanés

Good Friday morning in the back yard

March for Science

 

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The Panama News blog links

a Panama-centric selection of other people’s work
una selección Panamá-céntrica de las obras de otras personas

Canal, Maritime & Transportation / Canal, Marítima & Transporte

eTurboNews, Copa Airlines launches nonstop Toronto-Panama City service

Tank Storage, Contract to build new Las Minas fuel storage terminal

BBC, South Korean cargo ship Stellar Daisy vanishes in South Atlantic

Sports / Deportes

CREBA, Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race juvenile female results

CREBA, Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race juvenile male results

CREBA, Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race juvenile mixed results

CREBA, Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race open female results

CREBA, Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race open male results

CREBA, Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race open mixed results

CREBA, Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race masters results

Telemetro, Allen Córdoba oficialmente es el panameño 56 en las Grandes Ligas

Economy / Economía

Prensa Latina, 22.1 percent of Panamanians are poor

La Estrella, Aportes del Canal de Panamá cayeron en el 2016

Telemetro, Cancelación de concesión de hidroeléctrica Chan II

ANP, Regulador de Seguros ordena liquidación de reaseguradora Istmo Re

La Estrella, Cepal: Panamá es el que más evade el ITBMS en América Latina

The Hindu, 1,900 Indians under probe for links to Panama firms

Tornos News, Athens asks Panama for data on Greeks in Panama Papers

RFI, France investigating hundreds for tax fraud due to Panama Papers

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

TVN, Panamá inicia obra millonaria para mejor acceso a internet

La Estrella, Gobierno regulará disposición de envases vacíos de plaguicidas

Tech Times, Climate change and world trade may have spread brain parasite

Phys.org, Graphene sieve turns seawater into drinking water

BBC, Miami’s fight against rising seas

Think Progress, Sessions kills National Commission on Forensic Science

The Atlantic, When apps secretly team up to steal your data

News / Noticias

Telemetro, Gobierno de Panamá respalda acciones de Donald Trump en Siria

Broomfield Enterprise, Peace Corps volunteer found dead in Panama

La Estrella, Ejecutivo de Odebrecht revela pagos a Panamá

El Siglo, Nando Boom le dice ladrón a Cumberbatch

Intercontinental Cry, Barro Blanco meeting sows hope and disappointment

La Estrella, Cossú nueva suplente en la Corte Suprema

Copenhagen Post, Danish tourist drowns at Red Frog beach in Panama

PanAm Post, Catholic shelter for Cuban migrants defies Varela’s order to close

EFE, Marcelo Odebrecht revela que pagó $4 millones a Lula da Silva

US News, Brazil court delays ruling in case that could unseat Temer

DW, Chile’s ruling Socialists back an independent to run for president

The Guardian, Ecuador puts president-elect’s big promises to the test

BBC, Venezuela opposition leader Capriles banned from politics

The Telegraph, British troops’ arrival in Estonia a message for NATO and Russia

BBC, Syria chemical attack: what we know

Opinion / Opiniones

Los Angeles Times, A week-long editorial series on Donald Trump

King, How do such men rise? First as a joke

Greenwald, Five uncomfortable truths about the United States and Russia

Varoufakis, Europe’s illiberal establishment

Ramsay, Will Brexit deliver a united Ireland?

Gandásegui, Varela visitará la Casa Blanca

Bernal, Constituyente y quinta papeleta

Culture / Cultura

Variety: Annie Canavaggio preps ‘1977, The Treaty: Son of Tiger and Mule’

La Estrella, El calipso que permanece vivo

 

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