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¿Wappin? A Cultural Friday in July / Un viernes cultural en julio

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flo
Florence Welch. Photo by Jason Persse.

A Cultural Friday in July / Un viernes cultural en julio

Santana – Toussaint L’Ouverture
https://youtu.be/72RuN1QS9Ms

Romeo Santos & Juan Luis Guerra – Carmín
https://youtu.be/gBjyTf8sVrg

Rosie & The Originals – Angel Baby
https://youtu.be/6LjxfNxbZM4

Ray Charles – Let’s Go Get Stoned
https://youtu.be/gFwhCLYO_-M

Mad Professor – Gringo Dread
https://youtu.be/dwy2t55gnSA

The Chi-Lites – Oh Girl
https://youtu.be/oM7QN5OkUMA

Lenny Kravitz – Low
https://youtu.be/BilaShsQphM

Ariana Grande – God is a woman
https://youtu.be/kHLHSlExFis

Florence + The Machine – Big God
https://youtu.be/_kIrRooQwuk

Los Cafres – Si el amor se cae
https://youtu.be/hkY9XcCnFzo

Percy Sledge – When a man loves a woman
https://youtu.be/jHS8LAqHyHs

Weezer – Africa
https://youtu.be/BmRovgZsvAQ

Playing for Change – La Tierra del Olvido
https://youtu.be/6exx0sB_iOA

Kafu Banton – Despierta y Anda
https://youtu.be/b3tLwkooY-o

The Rolling Stones Glastonbury Festival 2013
https://youtu.be/V9NaxP7VCCc

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Kermit’s birds: homeless / Las aves de Kermit: damnificadas

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Kermit 1
A way of life ending for Via Argentina’s free birds.

Urban habitat destruction
Destrucción del hábitat urbano

© by / por Kermit Nourse

Downed Palm Trees on Via Argentina. These trees have been the home of countless parakeets and I wonder what will happen to them now? I have always enjoyed their noisy spectacle at dusk when they come home to roost.

Palmas caidas en Via Argentina. Estos árboles han sido el hogar de innumerables pericos y me pregunto qué les sucederá ahora. Siempre he disfrutado de su ruidoso espectáculo al atardecer cuando vuelven a casa para dormir.

 

 Kermit 2

 

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Hightower, The New York Times Bernie-bashing

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AOC
America’s paper of record said a Bernie Sanders-inspired grassroots group was “failing” — just one day before its candidates rocked the Democratic establishment. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic nominee for Congress in New York’s 14th District. Photo by her campaign.

The New York Times still gets the Bernie Movement wrong

by Jim Hightower — OtherWords

Before major news organizations pronounce someone dead, they ought to check the person’s pulse.

Take, for example, a recent New York Times screed prematurely pronouncing the Our Revolution political organization — launched only two years ago by veterans of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign — a moribund failure. “The group has repeatedly picked fights with the Democratic establishment in primary elections, losing nearly every time,” the paper barked.

But, lo and behold, the very next day, Our Revolution’s endorsed candidate for governor in the Maryland primary, Ben Jealous, handily defeated the party establishment’s favorite. And in New York, a 28-year-old Our Revolution activist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, shocked the national party’s corporate hierarchy with her resounding grassroots victory over Representative Joe Crowley, the fourth highest ranking Democrat in the US House.

These big scores followed the group’s earlier outsider victories over moneyed insiders in the Georgia and Texas gubernatorial primaries.

In fact, the insurgent group, which the Times ridiculed as “failing,” has been winning dozens of upset victories in down-ballot primary elections from coast to coast, electing 45 percent of its candidates. That’s a huge number in grassroots politics.

Just as significant, these Sanders-inspired progressive rebels have now defined the Democratic Party’s agenda. They’ve enlivened both its supporters and many of its previously lethargic office holders by backing such populist (and popular) proposals as Medicare For All and debt-free higher education.

Apparently, it’s hard to see America’s grassroots reality through the dusty and distant office windows of the New York Times. So before the editors and writers do another hit piece on the people and candidates of Our Revolution, maybe they could come out of their journalistic cubicles.

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Gremios de docentes declaran paro en contra de alza de luz

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shut 'em down
Educadores protestan en Chiriquí. Foto por AEVe.

Docentes convocan paro en contra
del aumento de la tarifa eléctrica

No debe pagar por la irresponsabilidad de este gobierno y de todos los gobiernos que no fueron capaces de prevenir este desastres social y económico.
Humberto Montero
Asociación de Profesores de la República de Panamá

 

Llamamos a todos los educadores y a todos los ciudadanos para que acudan, a las dos de la tarde, a los predios de la Asamblea Nacional, donde vamos a manifestarnos y a exigirles a los diputados que no pasen esa ley.
Edy Pinto
Coordinador de la UNEP

 

 

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High court plenum retains jurisdiction in Martinelli case

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In a terse and by some measures rude Twitter tweet, a divided nine-member Supreme Court panel announced its rejection of Martinelli’s motion to strip the court of jurisdiction over his case.

Martinelli loses on a key motion

by Eric Jackson

Whether he was malingering again or actually had symptoms that needed to be looked at in a hospital, Ricardo Martinelli was in Santo Tomas Hospital rather than at the courthouse to put on his show. The nine magistrates and suplentes who made up the panel didn’t go before television cameras to make their announcements, nor did they immediately publish their various supporting or dissenting opinions. It was just a tweet on the courts’ seldom-used Twitter feed. They didn’t refer to the defendant / appellant by name — just as “the PARLACEN deputy,” the denial of which status was the crux of former president Martinelli’s claim. They didn’t say who voted which way and why — just “by majority,” which means not unanimously. They didn’t specify WHICH petition to vindicate constitutional guarantees — everybody who has been watching and knows the basics of Panamanian law knows which one.

Ricardo Martinelli resigned his seat in the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), the possession of which put his case before the Supreme Court instead of the ordinary courts in the first place, after his trial was underway. It was a letter crudely and unacceptably written (as far as PARLACEN was concerned) in his jail cell in Miami when he was fighting extradition, then submitted like an ace pulled out of a sleeve once he was back in Panama and proceedings were underway.

Magistrate Jerónimo Mejía, acting as judge in that case, rejected the ploy. “You can’t let the will of one person distort the system,” Mejía said. “From this point there are substantial limits on this attempt, such as due process, reasonably timely justice and the rights of the victim, which deter the court from losing jurisdiction.” Martinelli’s phalanx of lawyers appealed and on Wednesday, July 11 a nine-judge panel denied his motion to vindicate claimed constitutional guarantees.

This case, the one about illegal eavesdropping and theft of the use of the equipment with which that was done and of the equipment itself, is not over. There are a number of other criminal cases pending against Martinelli, some of which have progressed in pretrial stages in the Supreme Court, some of which are not that far. Very likely those are to be devolved to the ordinary courts and prosecutors. In the current case at hand, the nine-judge panel looks today (Thursday, July 12) at two more Martinelli motions. One is an appeal of Judge Mejía’s refusal to recuse himself from the case and the other is a claim that since the National Assemby received complaints about Martinelli’s eavesdropping back in 2011 but dismissed them without any investigation or hearing it’s double jeopardy for him to be tried on these charges now.

It’s never quite possible to accurately predict what the Panamanian Supreme Court will do next, but today’s motions are frivolous and unlikely to prosper.

Is the argument that Mejía won’t do what Ricky Martinelli tells him to do and since the world revolves around Ricky that’s an aberration that must be removed to set the world back in proper motion? Pardon the diminutive, but here we have the spectacle of a former president acting like a toddler.

Is it a more mathematical calculation, that Mejia is one of two magistrates who were appointed by Martín Torrijos, whose terms should have ended this past New Year’s Eve but didn’t because President Varela’s nominees could not get confirmed? Eliminate two Torrijos appointees, don’t add two Varela replacements, that theoretically gives Martinelli appointees a bigger edge among the entire court membership and the former president might think enhances his possibilities of acquittal. Shall we talk about the quality of purchased loyalties? Shall we talk of judges taking account of political winds? Shall we talk about ordinary and well nigh universal standards of judicial ethics? Without getting into any of that disrespectful talk, the constitutions says that magistrates remain in office until their replacements are confirmed.

The plenum might let Martinelli walk on today’s motions, or the panel of magistrates serving as the jury might acquit Martinelli on the charges at hand. If they don’t, the magistrate acting as prosecutor, Martinelli appointee Harry Díaz, is asking for a 21-year prison sentence. Presuming conviction, that might seem a bit extreme — or maybe not, considering that some of the people whose privacy Martinelli invaded were judges — and they might hand down a lesser sentence.

It does appear, however, that the rejection of Martinelli’s motion on jurisdiction cooks his legal goose. The fact that this setback did not bring a crowd of Martinelistas onto the streets to protest probably also means that the ex-president’s political relevance has passed.

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Giacometti: Art for dark times

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Giacometti
Invisible Object, from the US National Gallery.

An artist for dark times: Giacometti at the Guggenheim Museum

by Sam Ben-Meir

From the beginning, Donald Trump’s administration has been marred by corruption and outright contempt for the rule of law — with the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey “because of the whole Russia thing” and persistent efforts to undermine Robert Mueller’s Russia probe; with his refusal to divest himself of private businesses, his attacks on judges who rule against him, and much else besides. Trump’s shameless claim to unbounded executive power manifested itself recently in repeated calls to deprive unauthorized immigrants of their due process rights. The conditions in migrant detention centers are horrifying, and photos from one facility in McAllen, Texas showed children being held in cages. According to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook report, this border facility is an enormous warehouse “filled with cages. Cages for men. Cages for women. Cages for mamas with babies. Cages for girls. Cages for boys.”

Such an unconscionable state of affairs makes the current exhibition of Alberto Giacometti at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City all the more electrifying. The show features more than one hundred and seventy-five sculptures, paintings, and drawings, spanning more than forty years and across all the various media with which he worked.

The show is a major retrospective of one of the twentieth century’s most significant artists: a painter and sculptor who sought the core of life — the alienation, and isolation, the terror of living, of walking through modernity, its cities, and city squares, its lonely crowds, its stricken men and women. The exhibition reveals an obsessive artist, one who returned again and again to the same motifs, including cages and bars; wiry, naked human figures, with outsized feet, sometimes in movement, sometimes utterly still and erect — but ultimately they are homeless, living in a “no-man’s land… lost in infinite nothingness.”

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) was born in the Swiss village of Borgonovo, the eldest son of Giovanni Giacometti, a recognized post-impressionist painter. In 1922 he moved to Paris and quickly joined the Parisian avant-garde movement. He would remain in Paris for the majority of his life. His early work experimented with cubism; and in 1930, under the influence of André Breton, he would join the surrealists.

The embrace of surrealism was announced with Giacometti’s unveiling of Suspended Ball (1930-31), a sculptural composition which proved to be a turning point in the artist’s career. The work displays a notched plaster ball hanging from a string in a metal cage; while just below the gouged out slit is a crescent-shaped object, with distinctly phallic overtones. Salvador Dali observed that, “The beholder instinctively feels the urge to slide the ball over this edge…” — and it was on the basis of this sculpture that he developed the concept of the “symbolically functioning object.”

Woman with Her Throat Cut (1932) is a nightmarish composition in bronze: the female, more animal than human, lies splayed on the ground, her throat rendered as an exposed windpipe with the carotid slashed. It is a profoundly disquieting work, unsettling in the suggestion of rape and murder, and the insect-like morphology of the figure. While it resonates with themes that run throughout the show, it is also quite unlike anything else we find.

Hands Holding the Void or Invisible Object (1934), a large-scale depiction of an entire female figure, is one of Giacometti’s masterpieces, and the last he composed while still a member of the surrealists. The figure’s stance and positioning of her arms has echoes of Mesoamerican cultic statuary; the odd rectangular base, however, reveals itself to be some form of incarceration, so that once again we have an evocation of violence and subjugation. It is an extraordinary and mysterious work, with a hauntingly strange beauty.

By 1935, Giacometti had turned away from surrealism and a decade of low productivity followed. However, in the mid-1940s, with the end of World War II, the artist enjoyed a new burst of creativity. It is the work beginning from this period that established Giacometti as the artist of modern alienation par excellence. His figures are bereft of all social connection; they are utterly and irretrievably alone even when surrounded by others. As the artist once observed: “A man who suffers from solitude can suffer alone, but he can also suffer in the midst of other people.” A man might feel isolated even in a crowded space. “The sublime, the mystery,” he would say, “lies precisely in the faces of these lone individuals…”

The Nose (1949) displays a shrieking head hanging in a cage, with a grotesquely long nose protruding beyond the bars. It is a terrifying sculpture, and one that speaks, or screams rather, across the decades. Indeed, like so much of what Giacometti does, there is a timeless quality to the work: it is an expression of the postwar era, and the anxieties of that period; while at the same time a universal statement of existential dread, transcending the historical moment from which it arose.

One of the standout paintings from this period is Two Standing Women and Figurine in a Cage (1950). An oil painting on wood panels that were once part of the walls of Giacometti’s studio in Stampa, Switzerland, the work is yet another example of the cage as a recurring motif throughout the artist’s career. Giacometti’s portraits tend to be dark, making use of a gray palette — almost monochrome save for the use of dramatic highlights — and present their subjects as fundamentally ungraspable: the other cannot be known, and always remains essentially outside our reach.

His work is not about creating beautiful or enjoyable objects, it is not about producing pleasurable experiences or delighting the viewer. Indeed, in some cases his work seems designed to do quite the opposite: to cause us discomfort, to make us uneasy, to make us feel the anguish and the burden of existence. Giacometti’s art is essentially a tragic one: there is little relief, even less humor — his is an art that returns compulsively to the beginning, seeking simply to start, to commence truthfully. Sartre was certainly right when he said that there was no progress in art for Giacometti. All of art was there at the beginning; and, not surprisingly, in Giacometti we find a fascination with primitive styles — including African, Oceanic, and Cycladic.

The exhibition comes to a close with The Dog (1961), the sole sculpture of an animal to be included — and one that was apparently a kind of self-portrait: “One day I saw myself in the street just like that. I was the dog.” It is an immediately appealing work: a scraggly canine with a long snout pointing to the ground, large floppy ears and a generous tail. Like so many of his human individuals, this is a creature that knows what it is to be alone and dejected, and it is a fitting end to a thoroughly mesmerizing show. It is the final proof — if any were needed — that here is an artist who sought “To bite into reality… to see better, to understand better the things around me… to be more free… to discover new worlds…”

To cure the ills of society is too much to ask of any art or artist. But when a body of work — because it comes from a place of truth and universality — is able to reflect the horrors of the moment in which we live, then it is incumbent upon us to give it serious attention.

Whatever else we might say, Giacometti’s oeuvre offers an important corrective to the Trumpian conviction that we can safely know and essentialize the other, which the president consistently demonstrates both in his dehumanizing speech (referring to people as “animals”) and actions (throwing them into cages). In short, we cannot afford to overlook a body of work as timely as this.

 

Sam Ben-Meir is a professor of philosophy and world religions at Mercy College in New York City.

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Growing street protests

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Street protest advisory

by Eric Jackson, photos taken from Twitter

Monumental events can spiral out of trivial incidents. In Panamanian relations with the United States one of these happened in 1856, when there were heavy economic and political issues associated with the California Gold Rush, armed American militias in the region and the economic impact of the Panama Railroad on the minds of many people here. Then a drunken American named Jack Oliver introduced a pistol into an argument over the price of a piece of watermelon. Some 60 people, most of them US citizens, were killed. Washington sent in the US Marine Corps over the incident. So you never know. Don’t be an idiot, whatever your nationality.

Note some scenes from what went on yesterday, and some calls for action today. And take a hint.

 

a
Run through such a barrier…

 

bb
…and you may have an argument with such persons.

  https://twitter.com/i/status/1016775599698956288
The traffic jam from a Panama City street blockade may affect you on another street.

 

zzz
To put a partisan slant on it….

 

comrades
This was the first call for today’s protest at ASEP on Via España. Panama’s two main labor federations, CONATO and CONUSI, are led by rival leftist factions but both say they will be protesting at ASEP, the utilities regulation authority, today.
lifestyles of the decadent and bourgeois
The Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are also not amused. The rate hikes fall directly on businesses and upper end consumers, and even though they get passed on to customers the wave of inflation is unappreciated.

 

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Editorial, Socialism again?

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FZ
Frank Zeidler, the socialist mayor of Milwaukee from 1948 to 1960. Photo by Shimon and Lindemann.

Socialism again?

So a California-educated scientist, the daughter of two scientists, won her election and is about to become Mexico City’s first Jewish mayor. From the predictable conspiratorialist know-nothings to the north, Claudia Sheinbaum is just a yes-woman for the leftist president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who in turn is just a puppet for the government of Venezuela and “we all know what happened there.” Just a matter of crazy Mexicans doing something crazy, perhaps a mess that Uncle Sam will have to clean up, the right-wing ideologues of the USA might say.

Say WHAT? Dr. Sheinbaum shared, with other member of a scientific group, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution toward knowledge of climate change. She served as the municipal environmental director, and as head of one of the more humble Mexico City neighborhood governments. As a local activist she has for years been studying, explaining and advocating with respect to the many serious problems of the city whose voters just chose her. She takes on the daunting task of being mayor of arguably the world’s biggest city, a job that Mexico’s president-elect AMLO used to have.

So a 28-year-old community organizer and proud democratic socialist crushed a 10-term incumbent who was on track toward being speaker of the US House of Representatives in the Democratic primary for the 14th congressional district of New York. Nancy Pelosi, 50 years the senior of the next congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, chalked it up to an odd district, and perhaps a miscalculation of ethnic identity politics, rather than welcoming a newcomer into the fold that has to include a lot more people to make a Democrat the next speaker and curtail an ongoing national disaster.

Ms. Ocasio, not surprisingly for somebody who took on an incumbent in a Democratic primary, says that it does matter which sort of Democrat a person is. The global leadership of Democrats Abroad, an organization which went 2-1 for the 2016 presidential primary candidate whom Ocasio supported, Bernie Sanders, is dominated by Hillary Clinton’s corporate way of thinking. On the global level Democrats Abroad has pretty much avoided mentioning Ocasio’s name. To them, too, which sort of Democrat matters.

But Tom Perez, who supported Hillary and heads the Democratic National Committee, hailed Ocasio as “the future of our party.” So is the DNC chair a turncoat? Has he gone out of his mind? Is it some sort of pan-Hispanic thing?

Ocasio worked her way through college in jobs that millionaires’ and billionaires’ kids don’t have to take. As a university student she was an aide to the dying Senator Ted Kennedy. She knows climate politics both from an academic and activist perspective, and as somebody whose grandfather died in Puerto Rico in the devastation of Hurricane Maria. She is of a generation swindled by “free market” ideologues, sold cant about the great future that globalization on corporate terms has in store if they only wait. Too often they have been told that their salvation is in dynastic politics, in voting for some scion of a privileged family who is roughly their age. Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee may figure that those identity buttons ought to work, but the millennials don’t want to hear it. In any given race where the Democratic candidate offers a patched-up version of 1990s politics in the general election, the incidence of young voters staying home or casting protest votes will rise.

Must be rich? Or must have gone to an Ivy League school? Or must be the child of a politician? Or must be committed to failed policies like the War on Drugs? The sorts of imperatives that Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC have been trying to impose on the Democratic Party this year are recipes for dull, uninspiring conformists at a time when the country needs something and somebody way different.

Tom Perez well knows that under the big tent of the Democratic Party he needs to make comfortable spaces for different factions. He also well knows that the septuagenarian generation and the global economic order many of them sold a few decades ago have to change or get out of the way. Plus, he listens to his kids and he can tell where the enthusiasm is.

There is more to it than just that, in the USA and everywhere. The neoliberal experiment in global economics has failed most people in most places. In few places is it a viable political program. Socialists in many countries who resigned themselves to its inevitability have been run out of office. Those conservatives who were partners with socialists in the failed old consensus now have their own woes. New ideas, new faces, new balances of power, new calculations to revise things that have gone wrong — these are the agendas of emerging leaders who matter. It’s not just the socialists.

Those who can’t deal with a new paradigm are unqualified to lead in today’s world. It’s a world in which socialism has an honored place among other contending philosophies. Those socialists who know the failures that the movement has encountered along the way and can think of better approaches are the ones likely to thrive. Those liberals and neoconservatives whose minds are stuck in Cold War stereotypes are going to have a hard time dealing with socialists in the Democratic Party and are also going to have a hard time getting elected to public office. The world has changed. Economies have changed. Political paradigms have changed. Even if human nature is not much different from Biblical times, adjustments must be made.

Looked at that way, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo is something akin to the New York City mayors who led the community past the crooked days of Tammany Hall machine politics and into more upright and pragmatic urban policies. Looked at that way, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is something of a throwback to a generation of socialist-influenced labor Democrats who came into Congress in the mid-1930s and passed the New Deal.

“Socialist” is an honorable label and an increasingly attractive one for young people in the USA. In Panama, however, the local affiliate of the Socialist International is the PRD. That aging child of the dictatorship may win the 2019 elections but under its current leadership has few positive things to offer Panamanians of any age.

Neither the Mexican, US nor Panamanian prospects for socialism are all that unique in the world, even if each country is different. Smart voters will look at the broad forces and alliances inherent in party and ideological labels to make well informed judgments on who is best set to govern them. But the wiser ones will look beyond the labels at the policies, histories and characters of candidates, especially in primary elections.

 

Bear in mind

 

We’ve overexploited the aquifer, and as a result, the city is sinking.
Mexico City mayor-elect Claudia Sheinbaum

 

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Acts 10:34-35

 

We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy, but this time green energy.
Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

 

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Political triple-boiler heats up over the weekend

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them
Old partners in crime, soon to be back on the gravy train? On the left in this archive photo, then presiding Supreme Court magistrate Alejandro Moncada Luna, who, having been impeached and imprisoned for corruption, is out on parole now and practicing law again. In the middle is then president Ricardo Martinelli, who is in jail and has made a public spectacle that would end most political careers but wants to be the next mayor of Panama City. On the right is legislator Sergio Gálvez, the self-proclaimed “Sexual Buffalo.” He is now head of the legislature’s Credentials Committee, which could start impeachment proceedings against President Varela or any member of the Supreme Court. Photo from the Supreme Court’s archives.

Three political cauldrons boiling at once

by Eric Jackson

To blow off legal proceedings for violating the Transparency Law, the National Assembly’s presiding deputy Yanibel ‘Abrego promised that the information that she was withholding, the legislature’s Planilla 80 with all of the data about who is on the individual legislators’ government payrolls for how much, would be published online on Friday, July 6. Come the 6th it was not posted. Instead the nation was told that the information would be edited and then submitted to the Ministry of Economy and Finance — NOT the auditors from the Comptroller General’s office, let alone the Panamanian people. So now the apparent intention is not only to withhold, but to destroy, evidence of criminal conduct. That is not stopping all the calls from the anti-corruption activists and civic groups to publish the payroll, but it does mean that the legislature is thumbing its collective nose at these.

So might the ordinary prosecutors step in? As to employees on that payroll, real or no-show, they might. As to the legislators themselves, only the Supreme Court has jurisdiction.

But at about the same time we learned that Yanibel Ábrego had lied to us about publishing the payroll, we learned the identities of the new legislative committee chairs. It’s a true rogues gallery, worse than can be published under Panama’s criminal defamation laws but tawdry enough in terms of stuff published and for that matter flaunted over the years. Most notably, the notorious Sergio Gálvez is head of the Credentials Committee, which could impeach any high court magistrate who rules against a no-show “botella” employee on the legislature’s payroll, or any magistrate who votes to convict Gálvez’s fellow party member, Ricardo Martinelli. If President Varela doesn’t go along with any deal, impeachment proceedings against him would start in the Sexual Buffalo’s committee.

Might the legislature and president avoid nuclear options with a deal? That’s likely. He’s up against the legal spending limit and asking the legislature to go $300 million over it in the run-up to next May’s elections, and if the price is right — public funds to buy re-election votes — that deal would happen notwithstanding the law. After all, Ricardo Martinelli’s man, Eduardo Peñaloza, is the Electoral Prosecutor and he’s notorious for looking the other way.

~ ~ ~

Meanwhile, there is a split on the Supreme Court — with new legislative pressures being brought to bear — about whether to decline jurisdiction over Ricardo Martinelli in mid-trial. If that happens there are various scenarios but what it likely means is that he walks out of jail and all charges for the crime wave he visited upon Panama for five years are dropped. On Monday we shall see how the vote goes.

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On Sunday, July 8, there begins a series of protests about an 8.3 percent hike in electricity rates for most businesses and for high residential users. From 8 to 9 p.m. people will turn off the lights in their homes or businesses to show their discontent. Further protests are scheduled for later in the week.

If it seems like a rich people’s concern, the rate hike to small businesses will quickly be transferred in price increases to the poor and middle class. There are folks ranging from communist labor leaders to wealthy business owners crying foul.

It’s not just the rate hike. It’s because that increase was imposed with the stated justification that it’s mostly because of cost overruns on construction of Line 3 of the state-owned ETESA power grid. That’s a project contracted out to the notorious Brazilian company Odebrecht. The original contract put the price at $273 million, including financing. The project is unfinished, the projected cost is now at $345 million and on top of that the power grid has had to pay an extra $135 million for the expenses entailed in not having the line installed when it was supposed to be. Odebrecht has a well known modus operandi, so the general presumption is that tens of millions in bribes have been paid in this transaction.

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Libertad Ciudadana, Deja atrás esta oscura noche de corrupción

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Il Duce

lc

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