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Transformando la educación científica

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Participantes del taller: guías, funcionarios del gobierno y científicos, maestros apoyados, exploraron el nuevo plan de estudios. Foto por Jorge Alemán/Smithsonian.

Investigando y empoderando para transformar
la educación científica en Panamá y el mundo

por Sonia Tejada — STRI

Inspirado en el llamado universal a la acción de la Alianza Interacadémica (Interacademies Partnership IAP) dentro de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible de la ONU, el Centro de Educación Científica del Smithsonian (SSEC), en conjunto con el Instituto Smithsonian de investigaciones Tropicales (STRI) y otras organizaciones, ha reunido a un equipo global que trabaja para garantizar programas de educación científica, inclusivos y equitativos, basados en la investigación. Trabajando juntos, el equipo ha desarrollado el primero de estos módulos educativos, disponible gratuitamente para el público en general. Este primer módulo promueve de manera efectiva la excelencia dentro de la educación científica al tiempo que fomentan enfoques pioneros para empoderar y unir a los educadores de todo el mundo. Según Krishan Lal, co-directora de ciencias del IAP “Estamos confiados que los beneficios que generan materiales educativos como estos llegaran a muchos niños alrededor de mundo, que viven y aprenden bajo circunstancias diversas”.

El primero de estos módulos, titulado ¡Mosquito! aborda la problemática de las enfermedades transmitidas por estos insectos desde un punto de vista educativo. Está dirigido a menores entre 8 y 18 años y a sus docentes. Gracias al apoyo de la Secretaria Nacional de Ciencias, Tecnología e Innovación (SENACYT) y el Ministerio de Educación (MEDUCA), más el soporte financiero de The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation y Johnson & Johnson, STRI y SSEC lograron reunir a una audiencia de agentes de cambio y más de cincuenta docentes quienes se beneficiaron del valioso contenido de módulo, la interacción con científicos de talla mundial y una innovadora metodología de enseñanza. El objetivo: apoyar a los docentes panameños en su exploración de las 45 áreas que conforman las siete partes de Mosquito! y brindarles recursos gratuitos para uso en su salón de clases y contexto comunitario.

“En el corazón de este trabajo está la idea de que todos los jóvenes, independientemente de su género, geografía o estado socioeconómico, deben comprender los problemas que nos desafían, y que todos debemos desempeñar un papel más activo en despertar el interés en los estudios de a ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM) a través de experiencias educativas que aumentan la comprensión científica en todo el mundo”, comentó la Dra. Carol O’Donnell, Directora del Centro de Educación Científica del Smithsonian.

Hacia futuro, experiencias educativas como esta buscan capacitar a las comunidades de todo el mundo para que trabajen de manera proactiva así logrando que esas comunidades sean lugares más saludables y más sostenibles para vivir. Solo creando experiencias educativas donde los jóvenes trabajen juntos en torno a un problema para desarrollar soluciones para su comunidad local, podemos empezar a tejer estos objetivos de sostenibilidad.

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Katherine Blanchard, gerente del programa en la división de Servicios Profesionales de SSEC, liderando el taller basado en los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible de las Naciones Unidas. Foto por Jorge Alemán/Smithsonian.

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Participantes en el primer taller de sensibilización sobre mosquitos organizado por el Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales en Panamá y coorganizado por el Centro de Educación Científica del Smithsonian y otros. Foto por Jorge Alemán/Smithsonian.

 

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Trece gobiernos latinoamericanos, Declaración sobre Nicaragua

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Tweet by a source aligned with right-wing Miami exiles. Many Nicaraguans
and world media with other perspectives are reporting much the same things.

nica declaracion

 

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Editorials: Americans’ choice; and ETESA follies

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Starting with protocol, an uneven situation. Kremlin photo.

The summits and US midterm elections

Are you with Putin and Trump or are you for America? There are greater divisions among those who are for America than there are between Putin and Trump and within their respective entourages. For US voters there are still primaries in many states and there are some options to weigh in November. However, the basic question is whether the government of the United States will be subservient to a cynical foreign autocrat.

It only gets worse for Donald Trump between now and Election Day — but he might actually win on November 6, in which case America loses big.

On the 2016 campaign trail Donald Trump openly solicited Russian hacking assistance. Long before that, Trump was economically dependent of Russian “oligarchs” — not hereditary rich kids but the mobsters who looted the public assets of the old Soviet Union after its collapse. That caste is Vladimir Putin’s power base, which in effect means that Putin will know just about all that there is to know about Trump’s money laundering services for these people. Trump can be blackmailed about it. The president of the United States is afraid of Putin.

Trump appears to be so intimidated, so sold out, so frantic about truths that have yet to come to light, that he feels compelled to support Putin against the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, US military intelligence, state and federal prosecutors special and ordinary, the Democrats and now a growing number of Republicans.

Trump having declared the European Union to be America’s principal foe, he and Putin held a press conference. Trump abandoned any pretense of defending America. He vouched for Putin’s denials of that which is already well proven. Russia interfered in US elections in unprecedented ways and did so for the short term benefit of Donald Trump.

That happened. Does Donald Trump, and does that one-third of Americans who will follow him anywhere because he’s a white racist, figure that they might benefit from the same sort of Russian assistance again? Do they figure that by vote suppression and fraud they will win regardless of what Putin does? Or is it that they are like little kids who don’t look that far ahead?

Two things coming out of the special prosecutor’s office over the weekend before Trump’s meeting with Putin seemed to have spooked many Republicans who were in lockstep with the president before then.

In the indictment of Russian GRU officers for computer crimes against the United States, there was mention of an unnamed congressional candidate who asked for and received documents stolen by the GRU for his or her 2016 election campaign. Surely it was seen as a shot across the bow to GOP elected officials complicit in the Russian offensive or in covering for other politicians who were.

The day before the Helsinki meeting, a Russian woman allegedly representing Russian interests through the National Rifle Association was arrested as an unregistered foreign agent. Is she about to become state’s evidence in a case against the NRA?

Words of disapproval from many Republicans in the wake of the Trump’s adventures on the other side of the ocean — including from a bunch of Fox News people — have in many cases the sound of panicky retreat, of desertion or mutiny.

Trump will find replacements. There will be Democrats and Republicans on the ballot. In some places those who put America before Putin will be able to find Republicans who agree with them about that. But mostly Putin and Trump must be stopped by expelling Republicans from elected offices.

Tip the Congress to blue and Trump won’t be able to get funds for his betrayal of America. It’s necessary. But it’s not sufficient to solve the nation’s troubles. America needs to cure the maladies that led to the selection of a narcissistic con man as president in the first place.

There are urgent matters of bread and butter, of war and peace, of freedom and democracy to address. Old slogans, concepts and stereotypes won’t do.

The government may be paralyzed for a time as we sort this out.

But move on we must. At the end of the Trump interregnum in American sovereignty and democracy we will only be able to move forward. There will be no return to the past. We need to elect good people with good ideas — including an honest and loyal opposition — to get on with the nation’s life after this unfolding crisis.

 

ETESA doesn’t need privatization, it needs new management

Political appointee Gilberto Ferrari, in his role as manager of the ETESA power grid company, has sparked nearly unanimous national protest with a proposal to pass on the cost overruns from a contract with the Brazilian thugs of Odebrecht to someone else. Now he has another contract to put out on Panama. He’s pushing privatization legislation. If such a thing passes, the norm is that he jumps out with a platinum parachute and a rapacious company takes over and starts to raise rates and cut services.

A discredited legislature gave the guy a hearing. Surely the deputies are most interested if they get a cut of the action.

How to begin solving Panama’s budget mess, which is not just ETESA? First of all, without Gilberto Ferrari, and without paying him a million or more dollars to go.

 

Bear in mind…

I trust no one, not even myself.
Josef Stalin

 

Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.
Winston Churchill

 

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
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¿Wappin? A Cultural Friday in July / Un viernes cultural en julio

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Florence Welch. Photo by Jason Persse.

A Cultural Friday in July / Un viernes cultural en julio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urban habitat destruction
Destrucción del hábitat urbano

© by / por Kermit Nourse

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

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

 

 Kermit 2

 

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Hightower, The New York Times Bernie-bashing

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

The New York Times still gets the Bernie Movement wrong

by Jim Hightower — OtherWords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gremios de docentes declaran paro en contra de alza de luz

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

Docentes convocan paro en contra
del aumento de la tarifa eléctrica

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

 

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

 

 

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High court plenum retains jurisdiction in Martinelli case

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

Martinelli loses on a key motion

by Eric Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Giacometti: Art for dark times

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Giacometti
Invisible Object, from the US National Gallery.

An artist for dark times: Giacometti at the Guggenheim Museum

by Sam Ben-Meir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Growing street protests

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Street protest advisory

by Eric Jackson, photos taken from Twitter

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

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

 

a
Run through such a barrier…

 

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

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

 

zzz
To put a partisan slant on it….

 

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

 

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