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The Panama News blog links, April 9, 2020

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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

TVN, IATA pide medidas para mantener a flote la industria aérea

gCaptain, Port of Los Angeles volumes plunge 30% in March

Ugarteche & de León, Electric vehicles in Latin America

Economy / Economía

La Prensa, Las estafas en tiempos del nuevo coronavirus

TVN, Pasa proyecto moratoria de prestamos bancarios

La Estrella, Baja precipitada de ingresos del gobierno 

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

BBC, Crops were cultivated in Amazonia 10,000 years ago

Fineberg, Ten weeks to crush the curve

BBC, Coronavirus: Vets stress that pets are no risk to people

News / Noticias

Prensa Latina, Cortizo: After COVID-19 a more humane Panama will emerge

Telemetro, El Banco de Alimentos Panamá pide aportes y voluntarios

Relief Web, UN depot in Panama pivotal in dealing with COVID-19 in the region

La Estrella, Ochenta policías en observación para virus

France 24, Panama transgender community worried over virus gender rules

Telemetro, Policía acaba de fiesta en una techa de Santa Ana

Al Jazeera, Venezuelans head home amid coronavirus pandemic

CBS, NZ PM Ardern: Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are essential workers

USA Today, Trump removes Pentagon inspector general

Raw Story, Alarm over Trump plan to purge inspectors general

CNN, Pence bars Fauci and Birx from appearing on CNN

The Intercept, Under cover of COVID-19, Trump ramps up his war on truth-tellers

Opinion / Opiniones

WOLA, US “counter-drug’ operations in the Caribbean

Mining Watch Canada, Mining companies putting workers and communities at risk

Fischer, The EU politics of the pandemic

Richardson, Efficiency vs. Resilience

Svampa, ¿Hacia dónde van los movimientos por la justicia climática?

Gandásegui, ¡Qué falta hacen los Comités de Salud de J. Renán Esquivel!

Cerceño Burbano, Globalización y salud: los cambios que se avecinan

Blades, Diario de la peste

Guevara, Panama’s coronavirus response must not affect constitutional order

Sagel, A costa de una reelección

Culture / Cultura

E&N: Rubén Blades, Ricky Martin y Carlos Vives en: Panamá Solidario, El Concierto 

NPR, Bill Withers’s legacy beyond the hits we remember

 

Contact us by email at / Contáctanos por correo electrónico a fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

Para defendernos de los piratas informáticos, los trolls organizados y otros actos de vandalismo en línea, la función de comentarios de nuestro sitio web está desactivada. En cambio, ven a nuestra página de Facebook para unirte a la discusión.  

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Kermit’s birds / Las aves de Kermit

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Snowy Egret / Garceta Nivea / Egretta thula. Near the Punte del Rey in Panama Viejo / Cerca del Puente del Rey en Panamá La Vieja. Foto © Kermit Nourse.

Snowy Egret / Garceta Nivea

You find these along all of Panama’s Pacific and Caribbean shorelines, more so in the winter when migrants from the north reinforce the permanent local population. To a lesser extent they are found around freshwater lakes, rivers and marshes. There are only a few known nesting areas, on islands or in wetlands on the Pacific side with little or no human presence to disturb the birds.


Los encuentra a lo largo de todas las costas del Pacífico y el Caribe de Panamá, más aún en el invierno cuando los migrantes del norte refuerzan la población local permanente. En menor medida se encuentran alrededor de lagos de agua dulce, ríos y pantanos. Solo hay unas pocas áreas de anidación conocidas, en islas o en humedales en el lado del Pacífico con poca o ninguna presencia humana para molestar a las aves.

 


 

Contact us by email at / Contáctanos por correo electrónico a fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

Para defendernos de los piratas informáticos, los trolls organizados y otros actos de vandalismo en línea, la función de comentarios de nuestro sitio web está desactivada. En cambio, ven a nuestra página de Facebook para unirte a la discusión.  

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Los delfines de Bocas del Toro y la cuarentena

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mama and baby dolphin
Un estudio del comportamiento de los delfines en presencia de embarcaciones turísticas informa los esfuerzos de conservación. Un delfín nariz de botella hembra y su cría. Foto por Betzi Perez.

Los delfines de Bocas del Toro pueden ser más sociables mientras los humanos estamos en cuarentena

por STRI

Los animales salvajes están cambiando su comportamiento a medida que el coronavirus mantiene al mundo encerrado: los pumas pasean por las calles de Boulder, Colorado y los delfines se divierten a lo largo de las playas de Lima, Perú, en reemplazo de la multitud habitual de surfistas. En la Estación de Investigación de Bocas del Toro del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales en Panamá, los investigadores están compartiendo nuevos resultados sobre el comportamiento de los delfines con y sin embarcaciones turísticas, lo que nos da algunas pistas sobre cómo los delfines pueden estar experimentando el mundo a medida que los humanos mantienen cuarentena.

En Bocas del Toro, en la costa del Caribe occidental de Panamá, la observación de delfines es una de las principales atracciones turísticas. Si bien la mayoría de los delfines nariz de botella no están en peligro de extinción, el grupo de unos 37 animales en Dolphin Bay es genéticamente distinto de otros grupos de la región.

“La observación de delfines, cuando se hace correctamente, puede ser una herramienta poderosa para educar al público y también es económicamente gratificante”, comentó Laura May Collado, investigadora asociada en el Smithsonian y profesora de la Universidad de Vermont. “Nuestro objetivo es proporcionar información confiable sobre sus impactos a corto y largo plazo en estos animales”.

May-Collado y su equipo han estado trabajando en Bocas durante casi 17 años, observando directamente a los animales, estudiando sus relaciones y genética además de utilizar el monitoreo acústico para comprender cómo cambian sus comunicaciones submarinas cuando están presentes las embarcaciones turísticas. También han compartido sus resultados con todos, desde escuelas hasta agencias de turismo.

En este estudio, registraron el tiempo que los delfines pasaban buscando comida, descansando, socializando y viajando con y sin turistas. En presencia de embarcaciones turísticas, el tiempo que los delfines pasaron socializando disminuyó significativamente. Los animales individuales pasaron menos tiempo buscando comida y más tiempo viajando. También les tomó más tiempo recuperarse, volver a buscar comida, después de haber sido interrumpidos por las embarcaciones turísticas que cuando fueron interrumpidos por eventos naturales.

“En el 2014 tuvimos una reunión con diferentes sectores de la comunidad de Bocas. En ese momento había 12 compañías de turismo, 165 embarcaciones y 179 capitanes que participaron en el turismo de delfines. La mayoría de las compañías ofrecen tours todos los días a la misma hora del día”.

Como resultado del taller, la comunidad generó una propuesta al Instituto de Turismo de Panamá (ATP) para construir un centro de delfines como plataforma para la educación, la ciencia ciudadana y la regulación. Las pautas de observación de delfines recientemente actualizadas de Panamá estipulan el número máximo de botes que pueden observar a los animales a la vez, el tiempo máximo de interacción y cómo acercarse y salir del área.

Pero a May-Collado todavía le preocupa que la alta rotación de capitanes de embarcaciones involucrados les dificulte asegurarse de que estén al tanto de las investigaciones sobre cómo la forma en que se acercan a los delfines puede afectar su comportamiento.

“En algunos países, los conservacionistas han trabajado para establecer un sistema de licencias para empresas que ofrecen observación de delfines con un sistema de renovación que requiere evidencia de capacitación y cumplimiento”, comentó May-Collado. “Otros países establecen un sistema de guardaparques para monitorear el número de visitantes y su comportamiento. El gobierno de Panamá está analizando la posibilidad de establecer un área protegida en Dolphin Bay. Eso sería un cambio de juego para estos delfines y para las comunidades que dependen económicamente en su salud y bienestar”.


Referencia:
Kassamali-Fox, A., Christiansen,F., May-Collado, L.J., Ramos, E.A. and Kaplan, B. 2020 Tour boats affect the activity patterns of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Bocas del Toro, Panama. PeerJ

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Plague days diary 2

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elj

Plague days diary 2

April 8

This morning I learned the limits of The Decree as interpreted by Carlos Slim. NO, the ban in Internet shutoffs does not apply if the way you get on la carretera informática is by a Huawei wireless modem with a Claro SIM chip that must be recharged. Ordinarily that would entail a disconnect of a couple of hours. OR, were I on poverty rations at that moment, I might lug my laptop to one of the places with free WiFi and at least tell the Facebook following that there would be a bit of mostly down time.

However, these are Plague Days. Men are not supposed to go out of their houses on Wednesdays. I have the money to recharge the chip. Tomorrow I will have a two-hour window time – two of them if allowed to play by the book and cheat – to to that chore. There are tight movement restrictions in place and as a citizen and a journalist I support them. Pain in the ass as they might be.

How much of a pain in the ass? My preference would ordinarily be to take a bit more time and go to Coronado to do this. But I get around by bus and buses are generally not running across provincial lines. (I live in Cocle province and Coronado is in Panama Oeste.) Ever were the unheralded restrictions on buses between these provinces not in place, it would be difficult to get to Coronado, recharge my chip and be back home – four bus rides – in the two hours reserved for the old and buzzardly, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Still three to four bus rides, but to Penonome.

So, an outage of more than 24 hours, but with word by phone to give a head’s up about my absence from the Facebook controls. I’m sure if some alt-right jerk decides to play patent medicine shill or Trump publicist there will be suitably derisive comments.

Time to catch up on my offline writing, and my science fiction reading.

~ ~

An Internet outage is also an apt time for some garden chores.

I’m old and fat and my bones creak, but carrying water to critical plants that need it for survival in this prolonged dry season is easy enough for me and surely I need the exercise. But the chopping away at some palms that I’m doing to alter the sun conditions for part of my front gardens is limited by the softness of my hands. I try to stop the machete work just before any blistering starts. Put a new pair of work gloves on the shopping list.

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The stay home order doesn’t entirely remove me from shopping on the days when men are obliged to stay home – Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – and the hours when THIS man is not supposed to go out. Trucks come by selling various things. Got fish yesterday – this humongous sierra, which I cooked for the animals, the white flesh and gray skin for their dinner, the rest of the fish into the pressure cooker for soup. El Campeón, the big dog who is shared with the neighbors, is ailing and was not eating much. HOPE I am giving him the right medicine, but fish soup he likes and the warm liquid with chunks of stuff surely has is medicinal as well as nutritional value.

I could have bought fish today. The bread truck passed by while I was cleaning the bathroom – if I could have flagged the bakery guys down in time I would have looked for some pan mpña de queso, but settled for something lesser if they didn’t have any of the cheese bread I love. One of the two fish trucks was selling sundry other stuff and for $2.50 I got a bag of 10 mangos and a small bottle of honey.

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Animal feeding time, as five o’clock approaches. Meals are prepared for the usual dogs and cats – and here comes a very welcome fourth dog, Fulita. She’s usually with her other family – a loving young woman and an inseparable friend, this beautiful little gray and brown brindle dog with the wonderfully expressive perra criolla ears and a frisky little puppy with even more exaggerated ears.

Across Panama a lot of people are going hungry and a lot of them are abandoning their dogs and cats, or at least putting them on short rations. Leave it to gringos who never miss a meal to make a criminal issue of it, but leave it to the Environmental Police unit to rescue dogs that are being left unfed. PROBABLY it would be better in most circumstances for that part of the force to deliver bags of dog food that to remove dogs.

Fulita has over the years sometimes been mistreated at her other home – driven off after her last litter of puppies was taken away, some years afterward tied up in cruel and scarring fashion. These days she bears no recent physical or behavioral marks of maltreatment. However, she’s kind of skinny, like she was in her last dinnertime visit a week ago. A fourth bowl of dog food and balogna slices is prepared. She digs out the meat, eats about half of the dried dog food, and is ready to eat and run. But I detain her for a bit. I’m frying some chicken legs, and if she wants to get back to her other family before they are completely done, some skin was ready and she bolted that down before she left.

The Mama Dog, largely indoor old lady that she is, stuck around and got a better deal. Bones, a little bit of meat and fat, dibs on licking the skillet. The two outdoor dogs, El Campeón and The Little Dog, came running from the neighbors’ yard for their shares of the bones.

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April 9

So what about this solitude by presidential decree?

On a certain level, it’s familiar enough. I am used to the absence of human company. It’s who I have always been.

But then, some of the guys whom I see violating the curfew – they are the same ones I suspect of several break-ins where cameras and computers were stolen. Probably in these curfew times people like that have no fences to turn any stolen things around. Was one of those I have in mind the person who vandalized my front garden trellis? Perhaps. Can’t prove a thing.

If I got a cheap video camera I think I’d know for sure – and then it would be a matter of politics whether I’d have any recourse. Perhaps better luck popularizing any such image in the neighborhood than taking it to the authorities.

The arrests for curfew violations are now in the thousands across Panama, but they haven’t gotten out to Juan Diaz de Anton yet. Our local jerks have a different set of calculations here. By my estimate, remove about five guys from the streets of El Bajito and the neighborhood can breathe easier in its isolation.

When I say “remove” I mean neither gringo mass incarceration nor Latin American death squad notions The grasped concept of certain and unpleasant consequences for being caught out on the streets would suffice. Fines? Incarceration? Meh. Perhaps most effective of all would be public shame.

I find myself thinking and writing this, but where might it lead? Where, in fact, HAS it led? This pandemic has given us something of a police state. Like wars generally tend to do to societies.

With reporters mostly shut in our homes, information about Panama tends to come directly or indirectly from the police. The politicians? Mainly they are a pathetic lot. A few are very busy trying to associate themselves with populist-sounding measures that don’t address the needs of many people and don’t much offend the dominant elites. Some want to get their pictures taken distributing goodies, but have a hard time getting anyone to take or distribute such images.

Then there’s Nito, the president, who with his line item veto might approve or reject anything silly that the legislators might do, who with his powers to issue emergency decree can and does make the National Assembly’s games look pointless.

He came to office with a little more than one-third of the vote, riding in on a multiple split vote with an annoying political patronage machine. His first months were a fiasco of trying to push a cosmetic constitutional reform package rooted in a discredited oligarchy and get it past a collection of demagogues and thugs in the legislature. It provoked protests that were popular enough for him to take the process of the legislature’s hands and punt. Then, against the backdrop of a severe drouht that hampered both Panama Canal operations and agricultural production, came an ominous stream of news about the national debt. And in our peripheral vision there was this disease outbreak in Wuhan.

Nito’s administration stumbled in the first days of the crisis, but then hit its stride quickly enough. Blame assignments, boasts and self-promotion are not his things. The constitution won’t let him run for re-election and Panamanian political habits would have his party thrown into the opposition the next time the voters have the chance to do that. This crisis is “the legacy thing.” No doubt there will be a Panama afterward, but the shapes our social relations are sure to be altered.

Notwithstanding our grim situation, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen looks pretty good so far. Not perfect, but he’s willing to hear about and correct errors. He has been working from day one without the equipment that was needed, asking the men and women on the front lines to take risks to do their duty, and exuding calm resolve. We shall see how it turns out, but looking through all the inevitable spins to come, most people will probably conclude that his strict measures saved a lot of lives, even as they ruined the economy and infringed upon liberties people took for granted.

Nito Cortizo is an old man and we don’t know how long this pandemic will have Panama locked down. It’s a reasonable projection that whatever happens to him, going into the next elections the main bone of contention will be about the country’s recovery from this crisis. We won’t be able to go back to what was before even if that were desirable. Conflicting voices will be screaming dibs on the same things. It will be a time of bankruptcies and bailout demands, and a crushing national debt.

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I’m a US and Panamanian dual citizen by birth in Panama to American parents. There are Panamanians out to strip me and people like me our our Panamanian citizenship, and Americans out to strip me and people like me of our US citizenship.

The American Embassy here is short-staffed and has been without an ambassador since the one we had – married to a Puerto Rican woman, also a diplomat – resigned over Donald Trump’s racism. Our second chargé d’affaires since then, provided with few resources, sort of urges Americans to leave. However, the resources to do that are hardly there and in any case there would be the prospect of a return to chaotic plague scenes worse that the ones were are holding out against in Panama. Some Americans got out, others will flee forever at next opportunity, but this place has a gringo community that was first established here during the California Gold Rush. With us came the Chinese and the West Indians. The demographics have waxed and waned and will continue to do so. In Panamanian Spanish we aren’t hyphenated but we are long-standing parts of this place, each ethnic community with its particular diversities.

As an American I am appalled by the reigning nonsense in Washington. Also by some of the gringo community here, and by some of the more vociferous elements of the various Panamanian and Zonian diasporas in the USA.

But you know what? Despite the hustlers and religious fanatics and sovereign citizens and preening millionaires whose main purpose in life is conspicuous consumption, I’m actually proud of our gringo community here. The creepy ones are subdued, because there is great social pressure from everyone else to keep their nonsense to themselves. There’s not much we can actually do, but this country’s Americans are crossing partisan, religious, racial, generational and economic lines in our will to help. It’s part of American culture to draw together and volunteer in the face of an emergency – even if it’s just expressed online via “Quit your complaining about the bars being closed and obey the quarantine decrees” responses to the unenlightened among us. So many of those on the upper end continue to pay maids and gardeners who are not allowed to come to work. Acts of generosity among Americans who can’t meet face-to-face somehow continue. From expressions emanating from the gated-off enclaves it seems that a real interest in how this society operates almost entirely eclipses the dread of dark-skinned and unintelligible “others.”

Uncle Sam has not come to Panama’s rescue. He hasn’t even come to the rescue of the gringo community here. To tell the truth, Donald Trump has let down the defenses of Americans in the USA, with deadly results. There will be reckonings for that. But in Panama it’s different now. Different from when I was a kid, when there was this generally if not entirely hostile US colonial enclave called the Canal Zone and a lot of people on both sides of the street acted accordingly. Different from the devastation of the 1989 invasion, when this gringo saw no justice at all in what was done to ordinary Panamanians who were just caught in the way. As annoying as the present US government is to me, I feel good about being an American in Panama in these trying times. Is that the Panamanian side of my perceptions? Hard to say.

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No longer dry season winds blowing steady out of the north, a few clouds in the partly cloudy skies look like they hold a bit of moisture, but NO RAIN. It’s a devastating to Panama Canal operations and national agriculture drought, overshadowed by this virus.

It could be worse. I have a half a tank of water, but with some particles of whatever in suspension. Many a dry season there would be no water at this point.

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Oh no! Went to get my Claro Internet stick chip recharged and all the Claro offices are closed. Can and did buy some Claro cards and recharge the chip in a phone, but that way the things don’t last a month for $15 plus taxes. FAR more expensive.

So much for this government promise of no Internet cutoffs or rate increases. But I am sure that at Carlos Slim’s company they will allege that it’s just that I am  the doofus.

 

 

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Editorial, Panama’s defense

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defense
The foreign ministry defends its headquarters in the Palacio Bolivar. Photo by MIRE.

Panama’s national defense

Amidst the most profound national crisis in most Americans’ memory, it appears that Donald Trump is ginning up a naval blockade – an act of war – against Venezuela? Will US forces be running air support operations for this out of Howard and Albrook? Has the Panamanian government’s permission been asked? Has Nito given it? Find out the answers to these questions and it’s likely that the Trump administration would be calling on the US Department of Justice to file espionage charges.

But that’s the political leadership of the USA, from whence a few corporations dominate so much of the information that Panama gets. Panama is a different country with different interests, one of which is not a war with Venezuela. Let Donald Trump worry about whether he should first move against Iran, or first move against Venezuela, when many weeks ago he should have been moving to boost US production of the paraphernalia needed to fight the coronavirus plague. He has failed in his basic duty to defend the United States of America.

If the Americans have an anti-scientific con man for a commander in chief, who has an entourage of grifters and religious fanatics as acolytes, that’s a serious problem for the United States. It should not be such a serious problem for Panama, except that it is because we have, for Panamanian national security, been a dependency of the United States. But now our health care people and emergency first responders only have the masks that protect other people from their coughs and sneezes and not themselves. The Americans aren’t sending out the right masks at this point. As we see the contagion spreading, anyone in Panama with any sense and information sees the need for more respirators in the hospitals, but Uncle Sam isn’t sending those to us, either.

Let’s not spend time on blame and recrimination, but let’s take stock of the situation.

Is Panama so tiny and defenseless and its ways of thinking so servile that in light of the current situation we must look for another patron to serve? Maybe Brazil, as our politicians made out like the bandits they are taking kickbacks from the state-sponsored corporate criminals of Odebrecht? Or maybe China, the up-and-coming world power?

Brazil’s Mr. Bolsonaro is every bit as deranged and corrupt as Donald Trump. China’s Mr. Xi, in different form than Trump – not compulsively, but because he has to – lies like a rug. A huge natural disaster has beset Xi, the champion of Confucian values, and in that tradition natural disasters are signs that the government has lost the Mandate of Heaven. This pandemic will not stop China’s rise back to its ordinary historic place as a major world power, but political instability is probably indicated in The Middle Kingdom.

Little Panama is The Crossroads of The World, and we should maintain cordial relations and accept aid from and trade with anyone if it suits our needs. But we really need to grow up and prepare our own defenses.

That means ditching the US “War on Drugs” and Southern Command “regime change” adventures as imperatives of our defense.

That means closer relations and survival networking with our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors.

That means granaries to feed a nation that might for a time be left unable to work.

That means stores of medical, firefighting, flood control and biochemical decontamination equipment – both for ourselves and to share with neighbors when the call goes out.

That means a more modern constitution. Instead of a dead letter about everyone having to bear arms in case of war, Panama needs a practiced mandate of universal preparedness and service. Everyone should be trained in one or more emergency response skills, regularly retrained and updated, and called into service in an instant in the event of a national emergency.

Panama put its national security in Washington’s hands, and saw it frittered away. That reliance left us nearly undefended, frantic and for the most part left to our own devices.

Never again. Being on our own, that we should presume. From now on we should prepare for that.

 

him irie

Women with babies, the blind, and those too aged and infirm to carry a spear are excused.

Rastafari’s wartime mobilization order

 

Bear in mind…

 

As you can imagine, at this time, of course, they’re going to be potentially quite busy at home with their family, as well, and their own bunnies. And so, I say to the children of New Zealand, if the Easter Bunny doesn’t make it to your household, then we have to understand that it’s a bit difficult at the moment for the bunny to perhaps get everywhere.

Jacinda Adern

 

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology.

Rebecca West

 

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¿Wappin? Isolation / Aislamiento

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Some 40 years later, as president of Uruguay, Pepe Mujica visited the prison where as a political prisoner he was kept in isolation in an underground cell for more than 12 years.
Unos 40 años después, como presidente de Uruguay, Pepe Mujica visitó la prisión donde, como preso político, estuvo recluido en una celda subterránea durante más de 12 años.

Music to get us through another day of quarantine
Música para llevarnos a otro día de cuarentena

John Lennon – Isolation
https://youtu.be/3GBDN3G0QoU

Annie Lennox – Don’t Let It Bring You Down
https://youtu.be/6cIRzBPN_J0

Virtual Choir – Hallelujah
https://youtu.be/ovwbHsKS6gA

Cultura Profética – Ten Valor
https://youtu.be/cOUoNBf-1zk

Alicia Keys – Underdog
https://youtu.be/vzeK53VV1To

Mon Laferte — Por Qué Me Fui A Enamorar De Ti
https://youtu.be/qvvCOIcV7Ok

The Black Crowes – NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
https://youtu.be/d0GoWhQgxyQ

Luba Mason – Fever
https://youtu.be/6VU7J5Gt9rU

Joss Stone – Piece of My Heart
https://youtu.be/iU7QOg6mqc0

Samantha Fish – Kill or Be Kind
https://youtu.be/XEDgMsI7fd8

Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
https://youtu.be/IZBlqcbpmxY

Prince – Little Red Corvette
https://youtu.be/v0KpfrJE4zw

Residente – Apocalíptico
https://youtu.be/3fJGAuHhlsw

Of Monsters and Men – Wars
https://youtu.be/10cyoQjBlNQ

Enya – Only Time
https://youtu.be/frvbNkfio04

Boney M. – Rivers of Babylon
https://youtu.be/l3QxT-w3WMo

Kurt Elling & Danilo Pérez – Beloved
https://youtu.be/yaqGLzW99B4

Ellis Marsalis Trio – the whole album
https://youtu.be/pmZ1ka7DcmI

 

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Para defendernos de los piratas informáticos, los trolls organizados y otros actos de vandalismo en línea, la función de comentarios de nuestro sitio web está desactivada. En cambio, ven a nuestra página de Facebook para unirte a la discusión.  

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What Republicans are saying

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Editorials: Chinese numbers, and Stay at home

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The United States has vast satellite imaging and communications intercept abilities, and people adept at analyzing data that are picked up. However, also a pathological liar as a commander in chief. US Department of Defense image.

China’s numbers, and everyone else’s

Public health statistics are not an exact science in the best of situations. A missed diagnosis, someone who never sought treatment, incompletely filled forms or other clerical errors – these things do happen. Then there is an almost universal temptation for politicians and institutions to play down, even suppress or lie about, unpleasant news.

Countries without free and independent news reporting amplify these problems. The absence of pluralism in places where there is only one legal party and it controls all legal media is the classic malady, but multi-headed business oligarchies and rival political factions with their own media can also enforce orthodoxies that are at odds with the truth. People in Panama, or in the USA, should understand about China’s strict information controls but hesitate to trumpet the superiority of the systems by which we get our news. If the Trump administration denounces the Xi administration for politically distorting facts, on a specific point the former might be factually correct, but Donald Trump and those whom he employs are notoriously unreliable sources.

By several indications, from various sources independent of one another, China’s official story of the coronavirus death count in Wuhan is way understated, likely by an order of magnitude. They say fewer than four thousand deaths in all of China, when crematoria data from Wuhan alone suggest more than ten times that.

Such discrepancies matter more about some things than they do about others. Whatever the numbers, the quarantines imposed by China appear to have gone a long way toward limiting the disease’s spread. But if other places design their responses based upon understated numbers, they may deploy insufficient resources to deal with the problem.

Panama’s pandemic response is Panama’s. We need to be aware of the experiences of other places. We need to be up to date with the state of the science, which is developing in many places. While not going into unreasonable denial, we need to look skeptically at information that comes in.

This is a matter of lives and deaths in Panama. It’s not an exercise in blame assignment. It’s not the construction a pecking order that deems some civilizations superior and others inferior. We can neither afford to be deceived, nor to shut our eyes out of fear of being deceived.

Here at The Crossroads of the World, we do have some sophistication about the ways of the many nations that trade or pass through here. A bit of worldly caution will save lives in our current crisis.

  

Stay at home

Panama’s various police forces are among the first responders to the current health crisis. One of their top officers, a subcommissioner, has died of the coronavirus. A bunch of their fellow cops, along with a lot of health care workers, have become sick. If you notice from their poster, these folks have masks to protect other people, but nothing like the protective gear that someone at high risk of exposure needs for self protection.

Do not put your desires ahead  of their health or that of your neighbors. The cops don’t want to hear that. They will arrest you for violating quarantine and curfew rules.

Don’t be a jerk. Stay home.

 

CG

                               Power without a nation’s confidence is nothing.

Catherine the Great                                

Bear in mind…

A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.

Victor Hugo

Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.

Dr. Joyce Brothers

Of course the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you — if you don’t play, you can’t win.

Robert Heinlein

 

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COHA: The coronavirus, ethics and the Americas

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It has been going around. Graphic by the Pan-American Health Organization.

COVID-19 pandemic spotlights ethical dimension of hemispheric affairs

by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs editorial board

The defense of human life in the Americas, in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, has become an ethical imperative for progressive forces throughout the region and beyond. The manner in which each government is now responding to the crisis reveals a great deal about their respective social and economic priorities. Equally important, the response of civil society, not always in tune with constituted power, and even in some cases at odds with it, reflects something about the moral fabric of our peoples in this moment of crisis.

Some governments, such as the United States and Brazil, have hesitated to aggressively combat the pandemic, weighing the impact of timely social distancing and national quarantine, which China had demonstrated can save thousands if not millions of lives, against the “health” of markets. This is a false dichotomy. The health of an economy ought to be measured by the degree to which it meets human needs, not how much it puts in the pockets of ruling elites or buttresses the stock market. Moreover, empirical evidence demonstrates that nations which hesitate to effectively respond to the pandemic at an early stage are lost; their rates of infection and mortality become unconscionably steep, leading in any case to an economic downturn.

CODIV-19, a moral matter for governments

It is moments such as this that a clear moral compass for guiding public policy is essential. As the Argentine-Mexican philosopher, Enrique Dussel points out, an ethics of liberation advances human life in community by means of democratic procedures and opts for what is feasible under the given circumstances. If we translate these integral principles into public health policy, responsible governance requires measures be adopted with constituent input and implemented in a timely fashion against the spread of COVID-19. It also requires that healthcare providers be equipped with the tools necessary for the treatment of all those who have fallen ill as a result of infection. Any actions which hinder such measures and practices would violate these ethical principles.

It does not go unnoticed on the world stage, even in Europe, that it is the so called “authoritarian” governments — China, Cuba, and Russia — have come to the aid of some of the hardest hit countries. It is remarkable, but in keeping with Cuba’s international health mission, that this Caribbean island, despite the economic hardship imposed by six decades of US embargo, has deployed thousands of health professionals in a growing number of countries, regardless of ideological differences.

Sanctions constitute a crime against humanity

COHA urges that this is no time to draw hard partisan lines that compromise international cooperation; we are in this together. It is time for the US to end the embargo and cooperate with Cuba. Even the extreme right wing government of President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, which had expelled Cuban health professionals, has asked them to return.

The US response to the pandemic is also remarkable, but for less than honorable reasons. Washington has continued to impose crippling economic sanctions against Venezuela, despite pleas from the European Union and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to suspend the sanctions in order to save lives.

These sanctions against Venezuela, which have already killed thousands, arguably constitute a crime against humanity. They shock the conscience even more in the context of the pandemic.

What is most outrageous, is that at the very time Venezuelans are united against the pandemic and dialogue between the government and opposition is making progress, the US has issued unsubstantiated charges of drug trafficking against top Venezuelan government officials. The charges appear to be politically motivated, as the US maintains close alliances with Colombia, from which most of the illicit drug trafficking originates, as well as Honduras, where its government, led by the de facto president Juan Orlando Hernández, is the subject of accusations of illegal drug-dealing and complicity with national and international cartels. Washington, it appears, has taken collective punishment against Venezuelans to an extreme that only the most servile governments and the Secretary General of the OAS are willing to endorse.

The rates of infection and mortality due to the pandemic in the region is highly volatile and could change any minute. The data indicates that prompt intervention by the state in partnership with civil society to put in place appropriate public health measures and quickly mobilize medical personnel and resources can flatten the rate of infection and save lives. [1]
Where there are deficiencies in a nation’s public healthcare system, international solidarity is critical to helping fill those gaps.

It is time the US and OAS become benevolent forces in the region

This is a time for a unified fight against COVID-19 in the Americas, yet the OAS continues to sow discord. COHA has taken an editorial position denouncing the reelection of Luis Almagro as Secretary General of this multilateral organization. This critique is consistent with the concerns expressed by our late founder and director, Larry Birns, who was very critical of the extreme partisanship with which Almagro had been leading the OAS. As a full partner of the Trump administration, Almagro has targeted Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba for regime change. He was also instrumental in perpetrating the coup in Bolivia in October 2019 and endorsing the 2017 electoral fraud in Honduras. His selective indignation over human rights abuses resulted in the OAS looking the other way during crackdowns against legitimate dissent in Chile and Ecuador, and has put him squarely on the side of the governments of Colombia and Honduras where human rights abuses are rampant. He is the wrong person to lead the OAS, especially at a time when hemispheric unity ought to transcend partisanship.

Larry Birns never gave up hope that someday the United States would become a benevolent force in the Americas, and assume a posture of mutual respect among sovereign nations instead of pursuing a coercive Monroeism. Only in this way can we ever hope to build a world “in which many worlds can fit” (to use a Zapatista expression). Yet that will only happen when we get our own house in order: establish a universal health care system and deal effectively with the CODIV-19 pandemic; end the persecution of immigrants; reform the racist criminal justice system; get big money out of politics; address growing economic and social inequality; and overcome the multiple hierarchies of domination which informs domestic and foreign policy.

* See also https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

 

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