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Jackson, Panama’s political caste and wannabes vent against the small press

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Pany
One of the historic abuses — and abuses of history — that has existed in Panamanian law is the notion that it can be a crime punishable by prison to defame a dead person. That specific possibility was written out of the law several years ago, but without an explicit bar on such prosecutions. The former mayor of La Villa de Los Santos, who died this past March, was found listed on the Ministry of the Presidency’s payroll this September. The young and increasingly noticed online journal Foco took notice and published the above — which is true, or was at the time. There could be many an innocent explanation, but there are also historic practices that are not so innocent. Foco did not accuse any individual of a crime. A false allegation that someone committed a crime is the essence of calumnia, half of what is usually referred to as the calumnia e injuria law. The other half, injuria, is making somebody look bad in the public eye. Strictly speaking, truth is not a defense. However, Panama is a party to human rights treaties that would bar a conviction for injuria when the story is both true and a matter of public interest — as in what’s going on in the government. There are other ways to harass journalists, though. The late politician’s son has announced a lawsuit for $30,000 for injuring the reputation of the deceased. Graphic from Foco.

Turbulence and decay in Panama’s politics and media taken out on the small press

by Eric Jackson

It used to be that there was a powerful cartel of about a half-dozen or less ad agencies that wielded tremendous power. They told the TV stations what programs were acceptable, the real estate developers which races of people could or could not appear on their billboards, the newspapers who would or would not get the prized advertising clients.

Then, as a worldwide phenomenon that owes a great deal to Google and Facebook, advertising-supported communication media collapsed as a business model. A few of the giants survived by gobbling up competitors or diversifying into other lines of business. Some of the media were acquired by billionaires to whom profits were not so important as vanity. A lot of news organizations, and many an entertainment medium, went through painful cost-cutting.

(Reality TV? Influencers? Some people get well paid, but these insufferable personas are cheap compared to the costs of the way things were done. The wretched products are noticeably inferior to those who see and care about such things.)

Now, with Panama’s ad agencies largely subsidiaries of US-based companies that are themselves endangered, with Panamanian media increasingly captured by political parties or beholden to foreign interests, the opinion-making biz ain’t what it used to be. What a time for a medical crisis that collapses the Panamanian economy, and a moral crisis that has collapsed the credibility of Panama’s political caste notwithstanding partisan boundaries.

We are in such a time. The state, and now with an attempt by the church to get in on the action, dominate the sources of information like never before. Government announcements, police trophy photos of the latest drug seizure and the archbishop’s declarations of what’s right and what isn’t — this is supposed to be our daily information feed.

What’s a demagogue looking to increase his or her following to do? Set up “call centers” of trolls who spread bile about whatever other side wherever it can be spread. Get some sort of government funding for private propaganda aimed at personal benefit. Build up some low-talent relative as an “influencer” and get his or her endorsement. It’s all pretty vacuous. People sense that and buy fewer newspapers, avoid subscribing to get past the old mainstream papers’ pay walls, turn off the old TV networks, and go surfing online.

It’s hard to sustain a vacuum, though, and into the empty spaces come the social media and a bunch of small and micro news organizations. A bunch of the emerging sources are no longer so new. Some of them are folks from the old paradigms — CBS News may have washed its hands of Dan Rather and MSNBC may have discarded Cenk Uygur but they live on in their own media. As do, on the Panamanian scene, folks like Ebrahim Asvat and Mauricio Valenzuela.

It’s a problem for political dynasties, government agencies, rabiblanco media barons and those who consider that by holy anointment or superior bloodlines their stories are all that matters and all that ought to be told. So the state, and now the church, instead of educating people on how to determine what is fake, instead of going down into the trenches to call out social media falsehoods that can get people killed, run this facile argument that if information is not from them, it’s false.

Yet the piranha school of small media nibble away, much to the discomfort of those in high places, especially those who flaunt bad behavior on the presumption that nobody who is anybody will talk about it.

And seeing how the anointed ones act, there are these social media imitators. You often don’t know the “who” of upstart or breakaway “movements” with no identified leaders and tiny followings, which also try to invoke authority against the small media. You can generally figure out the “what” by looking at the messages they put out.

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Ah, the nationalist ploy, by an anonymous “movement” with 19 followers. Garden variety US-inspired religious right, it appears. Is it one of the same old demagogues’ new additions to its cast of social media trolls? Notice to whom they address their “nationalist” plea.
 

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Hightower & Bendib, COVID-19 and conservatives

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COVID-19 and the reality of “small government” conservatism

by Jim Hightower — OtherWords

With 200,000 dead, Americans are concluding that a more Rooseveltian response was in order.

Amazingly, America has become a nation of socialists, asking in dismay: “Where’s the government?”

These are not born-again Bernie Sanders activists, but everyday people of all political stripes (including previously apolitical multitudes) who are now clamoring for big government intervention in their lives.

Nothing like a coronavirus pandemic to bring home the need that all of us have — both as individuals and as a society — for an adequately funded, fully functioning, competent government capable of serving all.

Instead, in our moment of critical national need, Trump’s government was a rickety medicine show run by a small-minded flimflammer peddling laissez-fairyland snake oil.

“We have it totally under control,” Trump pompously declared after the first U.S. case was confirmed in January. For weeks, as the pandemic spread out of control, he did nothing. An increasingly anxious public found that they couldn’t even get reliable test kits from Trump’s hollowed-out government health agencies.

Still, he shrugged off all concern and responsibility: “By April, you know, in theory,” he said, “when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” Not exactly a can-do Rooseveltian response to a national crisis!

By now, over 200,000 Americans have died from the virus, millions more have been sickened, and the economy remains depressed.

These inconvenient facts have exposed this imposter of a president as incompetent, uncaring, and silly. That complete absence of White House leadership is why a deadly pathogen has now raged practically everywhere across our land, a “closed indefinitely” sign has literally been hung on the American economy, and even our social and civic interactions — the essence of community life — have been halted.

Right-wing politico Grover Norquist once said he wanted a government so small “I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Trump has shown us what such a small-minded government looks like. And what it costs us.

 

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Editorials: The PRD, and Push comes to shove in US elections

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gangster hit
The forensics team works the scene of PRD activist Wendy Del Carmen Rodrírugez’s gangland-style murder. Public Ministry photo.

Nito’s party

President Cortizo is not entirely to blame, maybe not even mostly at fault. But as the government faces a huge debt crisis and a still-deadly epidemic the ruling PRD is falling into faction fighting that appears to shade into gang warfare, almost daily displays of arrogant disrespect for the general public and increasing demands on the public treasury. Such is the setting for next year’s internal party elections.

The man who founded the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), General Omar Torrijos, was a complicated character who put together a broad and at certain glances unlikely coalition to unite Panama for the task of abolishing the old Canal Zone. His big advantage was that the Pentagon wanted to retain certain military ties here, but generally considered the white Zonians as obnoxious and expendable while it saw the West Indian civilian majority of the Canal Zone population as a prime resource for its military recruiters. Once the Panama Canal treaties began to take effect in 1979 the Torrijos coalition and the PRD itself began to fall apart. Within the party the centrifugal forces have been at work ever since.

Next year leftists and neofascists will do battle within the PRD, and will probably be outflanked by yet other factions. There will certainly be turf wars and hit men may come into play. Grasping would-be party elites will be looking to create paid positions for themselves and push out the last of the unpaid patriotic volunteers. There will be promises and pressures to manipulate the legal system to get alleged rapists, drug runners, embezzlers of public funds and garden variety assault and battery guys relieved of all consequences for their actions.

Now’s just the prelude. There is a move in the legislature to create new 41 corregimientos to staff with PRD activists, at a starting cost of some $13 million a year. About 60 low-level local PRD activists have now banded together as “professionals” and are demanding inclusion on the public payroll.

The intra-PRD power struggle has strained the president’s relations with his party caucus in the legislature. If history is any guide, the party won’t be re-elected to power in 2024 and its frantic hacks will be squeezing every last advantage to amass some wealth for a coming five years in the political wilderness.

But this is only a year and a half into this government’s five-year mandate. President Cortizo could be rendered politically helpless during one of the worst crises in Panamanian history. Perhaps, though, he could reach beyond his party and call upon the Panamanian people to surmount this dilemma. The problem with that is that the non-PRD folks who have his ear, mostly business leaders, are also on the whole grasping and short-sighted.

The PRD’s woes aren’t something for Panamanians who are unaffiliated with that party to celebrate. They are but a microcosm of the nation’s woes, replicated in every political party, in the private sectors and in the ways that so many of us deal with one another.

So do we have someone to lead us past this moment?

  

Push comes to shove: in US elections

It’s well beyond political hardball and into criminal activity. Donald Trump threatens to send out goons to intimidate voters where he knows he will lost big. Donald Trump has sabotaged the mail sorting rooms in largely Democratic areas and declares that he’s defying court orders to reinstall the torn-out equipment. Donald Trump has issued orders to slow down mail service by ordering postal workers not to deliver all the mail.

In a number of key jurisdictions Reverend Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign are organizing a voter defense effort. But in the face of organized crime directed at hijacking American democracy, more should be done.

State, county and local governments need to step in so that nobody interferes with the mail and nobody brutalizes or intimidates voters. If the order comes down that election mail is not to be delivered to clerks in time to be counted, one of the responses ought to be that state national guards and postal workers’ unions combine to thwart such crimes and deliver the mail. If Republican mobs block access to voting places like they recently did in one Virginia county, they should be arrested by local or state authorities. People displaying weapons at or within sight of voting places should be taken off to jail.

Cadet Bone Spurs thinks that everyone who might vote against him is a wimp. He’s wrong, and even were he not, voters of all persuasions should be protected from his gangster displays.

 

The estate that Gandhi left behind.

 

Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

  

Bear in mind….

 

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

Surah Al-Baqara, 2:256 (Yusuf Ali version)

 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

Isaiah 61:1 (King James version)

 

If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.

Margaret Atwood

 

 

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Bernal, Hard realities

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MODESCO
The economy is broken and will not go back to what it was. So will people “fish in turbulent waters?” Of course. As if the people who have the president’s ear haven’t! But things were broken way before the virus came to Panama, and whatever the coming economic demands the basic issues won’t be fixed unless we deal with old prejudices and problems. Photo from Twitter.

Reality is ruthless

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

The budget must be balanced, the treasury must be replenished, the public debt must be diminished, the arrogance of public officials must be moderated and controlled, and aid to other countries must be eliminated, so that Rome does not go bankrupt. People must learn anew to work instead of living at the expense of the State.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, 55 BC

Lumpempresidentialism continues to wreak havoc upon our country. Down to a science, it plays upon the patience of a majority of the population who, ignorant of their rights as human beings, has fallen into the clutches of a mediocre and dictatorial government.

The pandemic’s arrival accelerated the crises through which we had been slogging. With it came the manipulation of minds weakened disuse and easily stunned. Today, the fear of freedom is compounded not only by the fear of democracy, but also the fear of education and the fear of culture.

Little analyzed here is the hidden face of presidential power, each day more aristocratic, authoritarian and autocratic. President Cortizo’s “speech” in Coclesito on July 31, with his untouchable vice president beside him, went beyond the symbolism of the environment. It was revealing in the spiteful venting of its content. He contemptuously questioned those who criticize him, spoke of “hidden agendas” and “dark motives,” and threatened: “After the pandemic passes, we will face …”

However, the disenchantment and social discontent do not stop. It may be confined and atomized by an isolation increasingly linked to the prevailing inequality. But more and more sectors of the population are beginning to react to the economic and social crisis as something caused and fueled, not by the pandemic, but by the corruption, impunity and mediocrity of the political parties and their abandonment of education, health and public safety.

No matter how ruthless this imposed reality is, we have to react. Yes, we have to be demanding of ourselves. We have to repudiate those who deceive, subjugate and mistreat us with all their means so that we do not protest, so that we remain silent before their ruthless actions.

It’s also necessary to remind those who come out of the caves of the political parties and the new political upstarts who, without knowing or wanting civil liberties, only aspire to enjoy the privileges that emanate from the administration of the treasury: No matter how much they seek to avoid it, the Constituent Assembly is, despite their desire for a detour around it, the road that people are seeking.

 

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Amnistía Internacional, Derechos Humanos y la protección del medio ambiente

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trash
Foto por la Autoridad de los Recursos Acuáticos de Panamá.

Las ​​​Américas no deben dejar pasar la oportunidad
para liderar la protección del medio ambiente

por Amnistía Internacional

El 26 de septiembre cerró el plazo para que los países firmen el Acuerdo Regional sobre el Acceso a la Información, la Participación Pública y el Acceso a la Justicia en Asuntos Ambientales en América Latina y el Caribe (Acuerdo de Escazú). Para que este tratado entre en vigor, es necesario que al menos once países lo ratifiquen, por lo que solo se requiere uno más para sumarse a los diez países que ya lo han hecho.

“Este acuerdo nació de la necesidad de atender de manera urgente la emergencia climática que enfrentamos. Cuando el tratado se abrió a firmas hace exactamente dos años, también se abrió la esperanza de que América Latina y el Caribe hicieran historia con una normativa innovadora que podría contribuir en la protección al medio ambiente y a quienes lo defienden. Los países de la región no deben dejar pasar esta importante oportunidad”, dijo Erika Guevara Rosas, directora para las Américas de Amnistía Internacional.

Celebramos que 23 países, que representan más de dos tercios del total, se hayan sumado a la firma, y que diez Estados hayan respondido con la urgencia que amerita la crisis ambiental ratificando el acuerdo. Países como Costa Rica o Santa Lucía están a punto de unirse –está en manos del poder legislativo– y de convertirse en la última ratificación que abrirá la posibilidad de implementar políticas necesarias para la protección medioambiental de la región y del planeta.

“Pese a que la entrada en vigor del Acuerdo de Escazú podría ser un avance substancial en la política de los Estados de la región frente a la emergencia climática y la crisis de violencia en contra de personas defensoras del medio ambiente, la lentitud de algunos Estados para ratificarlo demuestra el desinterés que aún existe en varios países en la región de tomar medidas para construir una política ambiental más participativa, accesible y justa.”

Organizaciones de la sociedad civil de toda América Latina y el Caribe han formado coaliciones y trabajado de manera conjunta, en un esfuerzo de coordinación casi inédito con gran participación de personas jóvenes, para exhortar a los Estados de la región a firmar y ratificar el Acuerdo.

El Acuerdo de Escazú es el primer tratado medioambiental regional de América Latina y el Caribe. Su propósito es establecer nuevas normas de protección del medio ambiente y los derechos humanos que garanticen el acceso a la información, la participación ciudadana y el acceso a la justicia en materia ambiental en la región. Además, es el primer tratado internacional que incluye medidas específicas para proteger a las personas defensoras de los derechos ambientales.

“La importancia de ese tipo de normativa para la región es indiscutible. Colombia, Brasil, Guatemala, Honduras y México figuran entre los países más peligrosos del mundo para defender derechos humanos y el medio ambiente. Si bien hay avances en las discusiones sobre el Acuerdo en Colombia y México, en Brasil, Guatemala y Honduras el retraso es tal que más bien parece demostrar una falta de voluntad política”, dijo Erika Guevara Rosas.

“Desde Amnistía Internacional reiteramos la importancia de la implementación de normativas internacionales que fortalezcan la protección del medio ambiente y de las personas que lo defienden. Instamos a que los Estados de la región muestren su liderazgo en construir una política ambiental más participativa, accesible y justa en las Americas, adhiriéndose a la mayor brevedad al Acuerdo de Escazú.”

Representantes de las Naciones Unidas ya señalaron que la pandemia de COVID-19 debe considerarse como una llamada de atención para repensar nuestra relación con el medio ambiente, por lo que esta crisis no debe ser una excusa, si no una motivación más para avanzar en la protección de nuestro planeta.

Información adicional:

De los 23 países que firmaron el Acuerdo, solo diez lo han ratificado: Antigua y Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panamá, San Cristóbal y Nieves, San Vicente y las Granadinas y Uruguay.

Otros 12 países han firmado el acuerdo, pero aún no lo han ratificado: Brasil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Granada, Guatemala, Haití, Jamaica, México, Paraguay, Perú, República Dominicana y Santa Lucia.

En la lista de los países que no lo firmaron ni ratificaron están Chile, El Salvador, Cuba, Honduras, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Surinam, Trinidad y Tobago y Venezuela.

La organización internacional Global Witness, en su último informe “Defender el Mañana”, sitúa a Colombia, Brasil, México, Honduras y Guatemala en el primer, tercer, cuarto, quinto y sexto puesto respectivamente en número de asesinatos a personas defensoras de derechos humanos y del medio ambiente en 2019.

Nota del redactor: Ayer ratificó Argentina. Hay tramites legislativos pendientes en Colombia, Perú, Costa Rica y la República Dominicana para ratificar y salvar el tratado. Pero también ayer, el gobierno de Chile declaró su intención de salir del acuerdo.

 
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Kermit’s birds / Las aves de Kermit

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boid
Squirrel Cuckoo ~ Cuco ardilla común ~ Piaya cayana. Econtrado en Gamboa.

Cuco ardilla común / Squirrel Cuckoo

foto © Kermit Nourse

This species ranges from Mexico to Bolivia, Northern Argentina and Uruguay. It’s a forest bird that comes out to the edges and into cliearings, but it tries not to be seen. One of its moves is to run along tree branches – like a squirrel. It’s widely found around the isthmus, a bit less common at the higher altitudes.

  

Esta especie se extiende desde México hasta Bolivia, el norte de Argentina y Uruguay. Es un pájaro del bosque que sale a los bordes y a claros con algunos arboles, pero trata de no ser visto. Uno de sus movimientos es correr a lo largo de las ramas de los árboles, como una ardilla. Se encuentra ampliamente alrededor del istmo, un poco menos común en las altitudes más altas.

  

 

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Beluche, The Balboa myth

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Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa, discovered on somebody else’s beach.

The Balboa myth

by Olmedo Beluche

As anthropologist Ana Elena Porras would say, the Panamanian ruling class has constructed an “origin myth,” both of Panamanian identity and of itself. It’s the Balboa myth. According to this story, Balboa, upon discovering the South Sea, founds the Panamanian “nation” and endows it with its commercial vocation, an isthmus called to be a transit area for goods and people, a bond that unites the oceans. Vasco Núñez would not be a bloodthirsty conqueror, like others, but a brave and fierce explorer, who knew how to be “a friend of the Indians” and who, moreover, “married” a beautiful “native” with whom he was in love and who, among her charms, would have spoken to him of the “other sea.” So goes the story by Octavio Méndez Pereira, a fictionalized novel that is assumed to be historical truth.

Unlike the Mexican Malinche, who is considered a traitor to her people, here the mythical Anayansi is the intelligent benefactor of the indigenous people who early on understood that the way to “progress” was by subordinating themselves to the European whites. The “cream” of our ruling class identifies itself with Balboa, as they are members of an endogamous oligarchy that takes care of the “whiteness” of the “legitimate” progeny, even if it has sporadic “escapes” with some Anayansis. Mentally, they feel European or, better, North American — in short, foreigners settled on an isthmus from which the transit is used. Whatever contradicts the myth is repudiated because it calls into question not only Balboa, but the essence of the “Panamanian nation,” its supposed transit hub vocation and, therefore, their business interests.

Myths always contain a gram of truth. The event starring Balboa, linked to those of Christopher Columbus, Magellan and others, created a new world intertwined by trade and the beginning of a “universal history,” a common history of all the peoples of the world, as Omar Jaen Suarez recently put it. In this “globalized” world, Panama has had to play its role as a hub through which a good part of international trade flows.

The problem is that, and here the myth ends, the conquest by Vasco Núñez de Balboa, both of the Darien, the Isthmus of Panama, and the South Sea, was a tremendously violent event. It imposed a relationship of domination and political subjugation, as well as one of economic exploitation, in which the northern powers control and plunder the southern countries. Within the scope of the Panamanian state, as Guillermo Castro Herrera would say, those who control the transit zone subordinate in every way the rest of the inhabitants of the isthmus.

It’s logical that those who benefit from the current state of affairs want an idyllic tale about Balboa, in which there is no mention of the killings, the cavalcades, the use of attack dogs, the kidnapping and rape of women, the thousands who succumbed in the gold washes and mines, the fiefdoms that were granted over land and people, and the slavery. To kill the myth of Balboa is to explain the social injustices of the 21st century, the low wages of the cholos and the extreme poverty of the indigenous people.

 

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Florida Republican senator proposes massive vote fraud

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Scott & the Trumps
The Trumps visit with Rick Scott in 2018. White House photo by Andrea Hanks.

With a Trump-crippled postal service, Rick Scott would nullify millions of votes

by Julia Conley — Common Dreams

A new bill proposed by Republican Senator Rick Scott is “entirely unworkable,” Slate reported Thursday evening, but demonstrates the GOP’s intense desire to make sure millions of votes aren’t counted in the general election by severely restricting the time frame during which they can be tallied.

The Orwellian-named “Help America Vote Act of 2020,” which Scott proposed Thursday, would help to codify President Donald Trump’s desire, stated last week, to ensure that the preliminary tally of votes on Election Day will count as the final vote count in the election.

The preliminary count would leave out absentee ballots and a record number of mail-in ballots, which nearly half of voters plan to either send to election officials or place in a drop box before Election Day, according to a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll conducted earlier this month.

The proposal, as Slate’s Jeremy Stahl explains:

would require that mail-in ballots be counted within 24 hours of when voting closes on Election Day. Scott’s proposed legislation would also prevent mail-in ballots received prior to Election Day from being processed and counted until the morning of Nov. 3, contradicting state election statutes across the country including one that he signed when he was governor of Florida. Basically, the bill would move back the date by which votes can start to be counted and move up the date by which the count must end. This would limit the count to a single less-than-48-hour window, shortening the count in some cases by weeks.

“Any conflicting state laws would be preempted,” Chris Hartline, communications director for Scott, told Slate—including rules in the senator’s own home state of Florida, where the counting of votes can legally begin 22 days before Election Day.

Officials would have about 48 hours to tally all the votes, but Scott’s proposal includes no funding that would help states make this possible by hiring more poll workers or providing them with personal protective equipment. The bill would shorten the time during which officials generally have to count votes by several weeks, and would leave out many absentee voters, who made up more than 17% of voters in 2016 and more than 20% in previous years.

Tallying every vote within 24 hours of polls closing would be “impossible” in many states, legal scholar Richard L. Hasen told Slate.

Critics on social media expressed shock at Scott’s blatant attempt to leave millions of American voters out of the democratic process.

It’s just wild that they’re introducing a bill like this in the light of day. https://t.co/V5sKHcZbds

— Jim Newell (@jim_newell) September 25, 2020

rick scott doesn’t want your vote to count. https://t.co/9hzTSHXivd

— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) September 25, 2020

The proposal by Florida’s own Rick Scott isn’t intended to guarantee that all votes will be counted within 24 hours.

It’s actually intended to stop the counting and toss out any ballot not properly tallied within 24 hours.

Sorry Florida. We saw this movie in 2000. Try again.

— Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) September 24, 2020

the primary action underway by the administration, Senate Republicans, and their allied operatives right now is (a) make it harder to count all the votes in a timely way (b) secure five SCOTUS votes to make this election-night cutoff a de facto constitutional requirement https://t.co/PfjHJVW9w9

— Seth D. Michaels (@sethdmichaels) September 25, 2020

“I’m hung up on this stuff not because I necessarily think they’ll succeed—the more people vote, the harder it will be for them to nullify—but because the attempt should be, in itself, completely disqualifying,” tweeted Seth D. Michaels, communications official for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Scott proposed the legislation on the same day that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), in an interview with Fox News, dismissed the notion that Republicans would not allow for a peaceful transition of power, as Trump said this week, by saying he would accept whatever decision the US Supreme Court — not the majority of US voters — reached.

this is insane, Graham just casually shredding any notion that ‘voters’ or ‘the people’ are the relevant body https://t.co/3SwhO42GgT pic.twitter.com/t1D4jEgFpo

— Taniel (@Taniel) September 25, 2020

Lindsey Graham, the Salacious Crumb of the Republican Party, is trial ballooning the Supreme Court overturning the decision of the electorate https://t.co/NIUmunvmT7

— Adam Serwer(@AdamSerwer) September 25, 2020

Such sentiments “betray a lack of confidence in Trump’s ability to win,” tweeted journalist Adam Serwer. “No idea if they are right; but they wouldn’t be saying things like this if they thought he was in good shape.”

While Scott’s bill is a “nonstarter,” as Jeremy Stahl wrote at Slate, because of the Democratic-controlled House, “it shows you exactly where the GOP’s head is at with 40 days left to go before the last votes are cast.”

 

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Nueva especie nombrado por biólogo panameño

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El nuevo nemertino fue hallado durante el programa de capacitación en taxonomía tropical de STRI y representa la primera especie de su género en el Caribe. Maycol Madrid, biólogo panameño y asistente de investigación en el laboratorio de la Dra. Rachel Collin. Foto por Jorge Alemán, STRI.

Una nueva especie descubierta en Bocas del Toro fue nombrada por un biólogo local

por STRI

Mientras Natsumi Hookabe nadaba alrededor del archipiélago de Bocas del Toro en Panamá, se encontró con un inusual gusano acelomado o nemertino: grande y de color oscuro, con numerosas manchas pálidas. Era su primer viaje de campo fuera de Japón, así que se preguntó si sería una especie rara o simplemente una que nunca había visto.

A Natsumi le habían interesado los gusanos desde niña, pero cuando conoció a los nemertinos durante un curso universitario, quedó fascinada.

“Me hipnotizaba el movimiento de sus cuerpos mientras se deslizan, generando hermosas ondas musculares”, recordó. “Esto me llevó a estudiar la biología de los nemertinos para mi licenciatura y maestría”.

Luego se enteró de la Capacitación en Taxonomía Tropical que ofrecía el Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI) en Panamá, y no tuvo que pensarlo mucho antes de volar desde Tokio para sumergirse en las cálidas aguas del Caribe en el archipiélago de Bocas del Toro.

El curso de dos semanas, con el apoyo de la Fundación Nacional de Ciencias de EE. UU., enseña habilidades para la identificación de organismos marinos poco estudiados, incluidos los nemertinos. También ofrece una oportunidad para que los estudiantes establezcan conexiones con otros investigadores de todo el mundo.

“Organizar estos cursos ha sido una manera realmente fantástica, no solo de capacitar a la próxima generación de investigadores en biodiversidad, sino también para que la fauna de Bocas sea cuidadosamente estudiada e identificada por expertos”, comentó Rachel Collin, científica de STRI y directora de la Estación de Investigación en Bocas del Toro. “A lo largo de los años, esto ha llevado al descubrimiento y descripción de muchas especies nuevas en el área. Para algunos grupos de especies, Bocas tiene la mayor cantidad de especies documentadas en el Caribe”.

Durante su estadía en Bocas del Toro, Natsumi conoció a Maycol Madrid, biólogo y asistente en el laboratorio de la Dra. Collin. Rápidamente notó que Maycol tenía profundos conocimientos sobre la cultura japonesa. En su tiempo libre, hablaron sobre manga, anime y juegos japoneses y se enseñaron mutuamente palabras en japonés y español.

Cuando Natsumi recolectó al nemertino de aspecto inusual, supo que quería estudiarlo más a fondo en su laboratorio en Japón, pero esto requería resolver algunos procesos burocráticos. Maycol intercedió y la ayudó a obtener los permisos para recolectar especímenes y transportarlos a Japón, entre otras tareas.

Todos estos esfuerzos rindieron frutos: lo que a primera vista le pareció a Natsumi un gusano raro, resultó ser una nueva especie de nemertino.

“Sin la ayuda de Maycol, mi viaje no habría sido tan exitoso”, expresó Natsumi. “Realmente aprecio su sincera ayuda durante todo el período de mi estadía en Bocas”.

Recientemente describió la nueva especie en la revista Marine Biodiversity, y la llamó Euborlasia maycoli sp. nov. en honor a Maycol Madrid, como muestra de agradecimiento por todo su apoyo. Esta nueva especie panameña se convirtió en la primera representante caribeña del género.

“Para mí fue una gran sorpresa que Natsumi decidiera nombrar la nueva especie de Euborlasia en mi honor”, ​​comentó Maycol. “Me llenó de mucho placer saber que de alguna manera pude ayudar a Natsumi en el descubrimiento de esta nueva especie”.

El Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales, en ciudad de Panamá, Panamá, es una unidad de la Institución Smithsonian. El Instituto promueve la comprensión de la naturaleza tropical y su importancia para el bienestar de la humanidad, capacita estudiantes para llevar a cabo investigaciones en los trópicos, y fomenta la conservación mediante la concienciación pública sobre la belleza e importancia de los ecosistemas tropicales.

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El inusual nemertino que Natsumi encontró mientras practicaba snorkel en Bocas del Toro resultó ser una nueva especie y la primera de su género en el Caribe. Lo llamó Euborlasia maycoli sp. nov., en honor a Maycol Madrid, por toda su ayuda durante el taller de Capacitación en Taxonomía Tropical.
Foto por Natsumi Hookabe.

 

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BREAKING: No Carnival in Panama next year

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Archive photo by Calle Arriba Las Tablas.

2021 Carnival is off, tourism restart delayed

There will not be a carnival,” Health Minister Luis Francisco Sucre said on the Debate Abierto morning television talk show. “Let’s not think about carnival for now. We are focused on everyone’s health and seeing how we reactivate the economy.”

Carnival is, however, a major annual economic event for Panama. Some have criticized President Cortizo for failing to cancel this year’s event, when world news clearly suggested that the COVID-19 epidemic would probably be coming our way.

It’s not just the parades and revelry in Las Tablas and several other places, nor the more low-keyed celebrations in places that don’t much value drunken crowds or lewd public displays. The huge exodus to quiet family outings by the beach or in the mountains may also be downsized. Smaller, family-oriented side events like the Antillean Fair are also likely threatened.

The cancellation is a blow to  the tourism industry, but it may also prevent some petty crimes and traffic mishaps.

 

The bus terminal ought to be a little less crowded. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

  

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Will the Transito cops miss the busy long weekend? Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

 

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We have yet to hear from the Society of Friends of the Afro-Antillean Museum of Panama (SAMAAP), but their annual Carnival Saturday and Sunday Antillean Fair seems endangered as well. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.
 

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