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Enfermeras desean información / Nurses want information

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nurses

Nurses want government information
about their colleagues’ health

Ana Reyes de Serrano, president of the National Association of Nurses of Panama, in a message to all the members through their social networks, asked Ministry of Health authorities for more information about the condition of the nurses who across the nation are working in the country’s hospitals, treating and coming close to patients who are affected by the coronavirus.

Reyes de Serrano said they need to know how many nursing professionals have been infected, how many are in isolation and about those who may be in critical condition. She raised the question because families want to know their conditions, as in some cases they have had no contact and there is almost no information out of the ministry. The association also wants to know the best ways and times to lend their assistance.

 

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¡Quince días de Cuarantena Absoluta! / 15 days of “absolute” quarantine

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q1
For those who don’t read Spanish, between April 1 and 16 nobody is allowed to go onto the streets on Sundays, and the former shopping hours are as they were EXCEPT that there is now a gender restriction. Women can only go out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Men can only go out on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Let’s see what happens with the former dog walking exception.
1
The 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. hours for senior citizens and the disabled remain the same, but the new gender restrictions apply. Except that, if there is a personal assistant, say someone who pushes the wheelchair, then gender rules do not apply to that person.
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Trump accidentally tells the truth

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VFA
On live television the president of the United States admitted he is opposed to laws that would make it easier for Americans to vote because that would hurt Republicans.

Trump: “You’d never have a Republican elected
in this country again” if voting access expanded

by Jon Queally — Common Dreams

President Donald Trump on Monday came right out and admitted his Republican Party would soon be defunct if voting in the United States was easier in a way that allowed more citizens to vote in elections, telling a national television audience it was a good thing that Democratic proposals for increased voting protections and ballot access were left out of last week’s coronavirus relief package.

The comment came during an interview with Fox & Friends, the president’s go-to show for positive coverage.

“The things they had in there were crazy,” Trump said of the voter protection and expansion proposals in the bill. “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Watch:

The remark — as many were quick to point out — is what’s called “saying the quiet part loud.”

“This morning on live television, the president of the United States admitted he is opposed to laws that would make it easier for Americans to vote because that would hurt Republicans,” said Ellen Kurz, founder and board president of iVote, which seeks to expand voting rights for Americans.


As the Washignton Post’s Aaron Blake noted:

Trump didn’t expand on the thought. But he clearly linked high turnout to Republicans losing elections. The most generous reading of his comment is that he was referring to large-scale voter fraud resulting from the easier vote-by-mail options; Trump has in the past baselessly speculated about millions of fraudulent votes helping Democrats in the 2016 election. The more nefarious reading would be that allowing more people to participate in the process legally would hurt his party because there are more Democratic-leaning voters in the country.

That’s apparently true, but you typically don’t see Republicans expressing the sentiment so directly. Generally, they’ll connect tighter voting rules such as Voter ID to protecting the integrity of the process.

After progressive proposals to enhance voter protections and increased access were scrapped from the compromise bill that emerged from U.S. Senate—legislation that was ultimately signed by Trump on Friday—Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, called the shortcomings a major failing of the legislation.

“The coronavirus pandemic is a health and economic crisis,” Waldman said. “The $2 trillion dollar stimulus will help soften its effects on the American people. However, Congress failed to include sufficient, urgently needed funds in the stimulus to help states run elections in a time of pandemic. This could wreak havoc in November.”

“States simply will not have the resources so people can vote safely,” he warned. “Congress must do better when it composes the next stimulus package.”

While state election officials from both parties have made it clear they will need federal assistance in order to “hold a safe, fair, and secure November election under pandemic conditions,” Waldman said failure to provide that support could prove disastrous.

“By our estimate, state and local officials need at least $2 billion to prepare, an amount that would cover the equipment, supplies, staffing, training, and the other costs of adapting our voting processes to withstand the coronavirus,” he said. “That funding is not partisan and it is not a luxury. Time remains of the essence.”

 

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La Fuerza Pública se mueve

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didn't much burn, baby
Viernes a la noche en Santa Ana. Los manifestantes dijeron que tenían hambre y prendieron fuego a la basura. No fue un gran motín sino una llamada de atención.

 

THEM

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Let us pray…

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¿Wappin? Somos granitos en nuestro muro defensivo

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Grains of sand in our defensive wall

Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
https://youtu.be/wy3RdCd9zAM

Churupaca – Luna Nueva
https://youtu.be/mdCxpVDwuhw

Bad Bunny & YHLQMDLG – A Tu Merced
https://youtu.be/ublf6qfpuuo

Pretenders – Creep
https://youtu.be/lML2N4xB9GU

Fito Paez – Concierto de su casa
https://youtu.be/EwGHNXZiTyo

Norah Jones – Patience
https://youtu.be/gcBesdU-Euw

Rosalía – Dolerme
https://youtu.be/VuUa9ZQL28w

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
https://youtu.be/MqDBLZudpVc

Sebastián Yatra & Ricky Martin – Falta Amor
https://youtu.be/dOnjlrgkJY0

Hozier – Together At Home mini gig
https://youtu.be/ryq3WOLtmew

Erika Ender – Mi Panamá
https://youtu.be/ZspwSzidkmQ

The Specials – It Doesn’t Make It Alright
https://youtu.be/QdefsXOQka0

Jessie Reyez – Love in the Dark
https://youtu.be/Xv-MFkCP02s

David Bowie – Heroes
https://youtu.be/JFHC6t13hi0

Rubén Blades, Ceferino Nieto et al – Para Panamá
https://youtu.be/qkkQfY2sBMs

 

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Kermit’s birds / Las aves de Kermit

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da boid
Lesser nighthawk ~ Añapero menor ~ Chordeiles acutipennis, encontrado cerca del Puente del Rey en Panamá Viejo. Foto © Kermit Nourse.

Lesser nighthawk / Añapero menor

The ones we see here breed in the arid lands of the American southwest. The Lesser nighthawk can be found in Panama from July to April, in lowlands on bothsides of the isthmus. It forages at dawn in a low graceful flight snapping up insects with its small beak. This one never flinched the whole time I was there. Overall, these birds range from the southwestern United States to southern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.


Los que vemos aquí se reproducen en las tierras áridas del suroeste de Estados Unidos. El Añapero menor se puede encontrar en Panamá de julio a abril, en tierras bajas a ambos lados del istmo. Se alimenta al amanecer en un vuelo bajo y elegante que atrapa insectos con su pequeño pico. Este nunca parpadeó todo el tiempo que estuve allí. Por lo general estas aves van desde el suroeste de los Estados Unidos hasta el sur de Brasil, Paraguay y Bolivia.

 


 

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THAT was an ephemeral arms deal!

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cancellation
Cancel order on a contract issued earlier in the day.

Tooling up for riots and war during
the pandemic? Police order is off.

by Eric Jackson

Hmmm — all sorts of red flags, reasonable questions and cause for speculation here, and the Cortizo administration’s exclusion of Foco from its press conferences signals a probable unwillingness to answer questions from media that don’t self-censor valid stuff in order to maintain access. Let’s avoid the sins and speculations, but this may be an unfolding story.

Yesterday — Wednesday, March 25 — the Ministry of Security announced that it had awarded a no-bid contract for more that $7 million to buy munitions from a company called INMUNEX SA. As in millions of bullets and shotgun shells, plus tear gas grenades and “pepperballs,” little projectiles that set off pepper gas when the hit a hard surface. Your reporter has a certain amount of experience with such stuff — there is nothing new or shocking in itself that the Panamanian government buys these things.

Tone deafness amidst a deadly crisis in which Panamanians are asked to make unprecedented sacrifices, that might be a surprise. If hearing is the question, it might be a  matter of who has heard whom, and recently or as a matter of accumulated doctrine. Natural calamities do often enough prompt or add to civil disturbances or wars. Pay attention to recent African history if you doubt this.

But the purchase was a dissonant note for an administration reaching out to build solid national unity in the face of the crisis. It was so because this company had a contract tossed out in 2017 over alleged overcharges. It was so because people at least on paper connected to the firm were called as witnesses in the probe of the Martinelli regime’s dealings with Odebrecht. It was so because of the ongoing scandals with legislators of all  main parties. It was so because there are plenty of old-timers whose memories of the 1968-1989 dictatorship are not fond, and who look askance at any arms purchase by any Panamanian government.

An expected take came from law professor Miguel Antonio Bernal, who went out on a limb to declare that “in Panama the real pandemic is government corruption.”

And then there were the eternal would be competitors. Under the heading of the Arms, Munitions and Accessories Distributors Association (ADIDAMA), industry group president Jorge A. Cohen B. complained. Their open letter to the president said that the deal in question was both overpriced and unlikely to be carried out to the letter, given the shipping delays caused by the ongoing global pandemic. The group also does not like the apparent lock on no-bid police weapons and ammunition contracts that INMUNEX has had in this and the previous two administrations.

After business hours, Panama was told to never mind, that the contract was called off. Not necessarily the intention to tool up for a little Armageddon, but this deal in any case.

There is surely more to this story, hidden behind rivalries in the international arms trade, Panamanian corporate secrecy, old friendships and associations among politically connected families and so on. There may be stories to come on one or more of these things.

But another important angle of this story is that the Cortizo administration listened to the complaints and moved rapidly to shut down public controversy. It says something about the president’s current mindset.

 

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The dry decree

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seco
IT IS WRITTEN. In Spanish. Just because you are a foreigner who has not bothered to learn the national language does not excuse you from obedience. This is the dry law part of the national state of emergency decree.

“The distribution, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages are prohibited throughout the national territory while the State of Emergency is in effect”

acknowledgement and comment by Eric Jackson

If we are to be kept at home for a year and a half, this doesn’t work so well. Alcohol prohibition never has.

But if it’s something to be formally relaxed after a little while, or something kept on the books but mostly a dead letter, that could work. Perhaps Panama NEEDS a few days to dry out and adjust attitudes.

Figure on a probable increase in domestic violence cases during the quarantine, and a limit on judges being able to kick the guy out of the house. But if the police respond to a domestic violence call, they need not have her complaint to make an arrest that sticks if there is alcohol on his breath.

Plus, with a bit less drunkenness society tends to get a corresponding bit less violence. That’s the nature of that generally legal in Panama drug, alcohol.

There is the remnant of a bottle of someone else’s booze that was left in my kitchen long ago. If I set aside my aversion to such rotgut and slug a bit of it down, might I be arrested? I suppose I might. However, I don’t expect that the police have the resources to go randomly barging into people’s homes to look for people drinking while the quarantine is in effect.

(And all you hardcore alcoholics — do you really have to post your withdrawal symptoms on Facebook?)

 

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Plague days diary 1

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elj

Computer down blues

Do I get my computer back? It will be not much fun if I don’t anytime soon. A hack aimed at me and my machine? A systemic hack? An old computer going out of whack at an inconvenient time?

It’s the evening of March 24 and  President Cortizo has just declared a near-total national quarantine. NEED to do my own troubleshooting here, and make it work.  I won’t be getting to anywhere where I might get a new computer or be able to take the machine to the shop anytime soon.

The dated MalwareBytes scan has been ongoing for nearly half an hour and is still in the initial “checking for updates” phase – no files yet checked.

So what subversive thing was I doing when the machine went into multiple fail mode?

I was plying myself with coffee, served in a way that I don’t think that anybody ever taught me – sweetened with manjar. Deadly unhealthy, that stuff. The doctor doesn’t recommend it, especially for gordos like me. It’s this sticky goo made of sugar, cornstarch and fresh milk. There is a hint of caramel flavor – it is, after all, slightly caramelized sugar. There is more than a hint of malted milk flavor, and I am one of those weirdos known to put malted milk in my coffee.

(Malted milk powder is a rare treat in my economic station. Most often the coffee is black, or with a spoonful of powdered milk and a bit of sugar or sucralose. If money is not too much of an object, it’s Palo Alto coffee.)

~ ~ ~

I went out early this afternoon, farther than I had wanted. Figured that I would pick up a roll of toilet paper, some kitty crunchies and some starchy staple – brown rice if they had it, otherwise noodles of some sort – but Mónica said they were not selling on this day. (Not at all? Just not to me? What I suspect was that some inspector had read her a riot act and she and her sons were cleaning and installing plastic sheeting sanitary barriers and signs before serving customers again. In any case the village was well nigh deserted.)

Turning away, I had gone only a few steps when I noticed a mini-bus coming and before I saw which one I flagged it down. It was the San Juan de Dios and Penonome bus, so I had to contemplate. Head west to Penonome, a dollar fare to a place where they have registered a verified coronavirus infection, or get out and board another bus headed east to Anton. The latter is slightly cheaper all the way around, involves a lot less walking and besides, I had walked out the door with my computer running, the aging Mama Dog guarding the inside of the house and $14 in my pocket. I had not planned to go into town for a significant shopping but needed to get just a few things.

Without walking away from the highway into town, I had half a dozen grocery stores from which to choose, plus a couple of little fruit and veggie stands. Plus a couple of bakeries. AND the vendor at the deserted main bus stop, hawking the manjar.

Got my toilet paper. No shortage, and the sign suggested that they were not going to let you clean out the store to create one. The meat and veggies looked kind of aged, and I was rationing here. The ramen noodles are a nickel a pack cheaper at this one, but with limited flavors. Grabbed some of those.

But a cat food shortage? Well, not for the flat cans of ground sardines – “atún seco” in the strange and biologically inaccurate local Spanish – but the crunchies were either in a big bag that would cost me most of what I had at the moment. OR, there were much cheaper little bags of puppy chow. Dogs should not eat cat food, especially older ones with vulnerable kidneys. Cats will eat dog food, but will even LIKE puppy chow, which also comes in smaller chunks that are easier for kittles to digest. Most of a dollar gone to get into Anton, $3.50 at the grocery store. The felines would be fed for a few more days. I have a Plan B for running out of toilet paper but would not have to use it just yet.

Then, three stops at micro-businesses. Three little tubs of manjar, a bag of tangerines and a bag of oranges, each a $1 purchase. More than halfway through my walking change, but plenty to stop in at the panaderia to buy two loaves of pan moña de queso for a buck each and board the bus home. But before the mostly empty bus took off toward the village and beyond, I did notice a couple of things. The busiest of the grocery stores has a security guard checking people’s temperatures before letting them in, and around the corner a sink and soap dispenser had been installed at the waiting area for local buses. Plague times, these.

~ ~ ~

Getting off the bus, three teenage girls were congregated at the bus stop with two bicycles by them. This was socializing, not waiting for the bus. And walking toward the caseta up the dirt road I was walking down toward my home in El Bajito, there was one of the usual teenage boys coming to join them.

What is to be done?’

I think a bit of quarantine enforcement, except that the formal declaration of the quarantine would only come later in the day.

These kids have this youthful expectation of immortality and no real concept of death. Them being infected and carrying the disease to others without actually getting sick is a concept that the schools dont teach so well.

Really, these kids need to be scared off.

As in, cops swooping in, leaning them against the paddy wagon or whatever, taking temperatures and swab samples. Putting anyone running a fever in cuffs and taking them off for closer medical examination. Leting the others see that, and telling them to go home and stay home, and warning that at the very least, the next time bicycles would be confiscated.

Something like that. Maybe with a good cop / bad cop routine, the more sympathetic one giving the quick biology lecture for the poorly educated, the hardass telling the one to be taken away that (s)he may not be coming back home right away. Maybe even coming up with a false positive for the show.

 

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