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The Panama News blog links, October 29, 2015

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The Panama News blog links, October 29, 2015

Hellenic Shipping News, Northern routes and PanCanal to be major LNG lanes

CatholicPhilly, Church concerned about Nicaragua canal impact

AFP, Nicaragua: proyecto del canal es fuente de tensión social creciente

Sputnik, Russia ready to join Nicaragua canal construction

Democracy Now!, Thousands rally against Nicaragua canal

ESPN FC, Copa America soccer qualifiers here in January

BBC, Brazilian FIFA official to be extradited to the USA

Sporting News, New York indictments for Panama-based online gambling

Cuba News, Cuba and Panama want to expand economic ties

TeleSur, Panama’s teachers march

The Independent, UK paying millions in aid money to fund overseas tax havens

Street Report, Will Bancolombia slide continue?

MoneyMarketUK, BBVA fined for helping US tax cheats

Telemetro, Extienden periodo de plan de reorganización del Banco Universal

Business Standard, Finmeccanica bribery fugitive in Dubai

El Economista, Burbujas inmobiliarias amenazan al mundo

Slate, Vampire bats on a treadmill

Huffington Post, More bat species on endangered list

CBS Baltimore, Maryland zoo works to save Panama’s golden frogs

Fang, TV network lobbyists are working for Hillary Clinton

Truthdig, EU votes to offer Snowden protection

Video, Chomsky & Martin: Electing the president of an empire

Ryan, TI: Mideast and North African military corruption “critical”

BBC, Colombia offers FARC a bilateral truce

Gandásegui, Cuba le ganó a EEUU 191 a 2 en la ONU

Caribbean News Now!, UN votes 191-2 against the Cuba embargo

EFE: Venezuela, Ecuador y Panamá elegidos miembros del Consejo de DDHH

LaSusa, Giuliani in Rio

Paterson, Occupying the bridge between El Paso and Juarez

La Jornada, Sudamericanos en crisis

Mitchell, Prospects for Argentina’s runoff election

InSightCrime, Rising concerns over Panama’s new island prison

AP, Ally of Panama’s ex-president jailed

 

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Harrington, Patrioterismo

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Flag Day, long ago
Las Fiestas Patrias son para pensar en qué Panamá queremos para nuestros nietos. Foto archivo por Eric Jackson.

PATRIOTERISMO

por Kevin Harrington-Shelton
Ya se oyen los claros clarines, ¡Ya viene! ¡Ya viene!
La Marcha Triunfal (Rubén Darío)

 

Durante la primera semana de noviembre, demasiados medios de comunicación compiten para anegarnos con patrioterismo –en vez de forjar Patria.

Fuera de banalidades que contrastan las más abundantes decoraciones de Halloween con los preparativos patrios propiamente dichos (y luego rasgarán vestiduras con la clásica muletilla de criticar banderas mal colocadas, que compite con su tradicional relleno sobre el aumento de precios durante Semana Santa). Pocos cultivan el conocimiento de nuestra realidad, para que la juventud analice qué tenemos hoy y qué les esperará a ellos mañana –a la hora de pagar los platos rotos. Ese catalizador periodístico sería su contraprestación por una libertad de expresión que presupone de un debate informado –en un ambiente donde históricamente el tráfico de influencias es atávico.

En 1903 nuestro (olvidado) héroe-nacional Phillippe Bunau Varilla logró convencer a Washington que, apoyando la secesión de tan solo la franja canalera –la que había sido su intención– no se garantizaría la tranquilidad requerida para culminar su proyecto canalero. Porque era claramente previsible una revancha colombiana en el Interior. Resurgimos así como una democracia oligárquica (donde aún hay fueros, privilegios y justicia selectiva), con los mismos linderos concedidos en 1537 por Real Cédula española a Colombia.

Hoy esta posición geográfica sigue siendo codiciada, según el siguiente vistazo al estado de nuestro derecho que nuestros periodistas simplemente prefieren no ver.

Una vez revertida la Zona del Canal norteamericana (hoy multinacional), cedimos por pedacitos algunas otras soberanías. Ejemplo(s): Washington retiene el control-efectivo sobre “nuestras” instituciones: SENAN, SENAFRONT, Punta Coco, relaciones internacionales, aduanas, migración, Concejo de Seguridad y pinchazos telefónicos via la fibra óptica que toca nuestras riberas — además del espacio político de designar al Director-General de una Policía Nacional (que su Hydra de muchas cabezas considera “un ejército en todo salvo en nombre”  –vea también http://historicaltextarchive.com/sections.php?action=read&artid=234). Entre tales concesiones intangibles hay banqueros y comerciantes para todos los efectos impunes ante la ley: los culpables apelan las multas impuestas por no reportar sus transacciones PEP a la UAF y quien sea el agente local de la alemana SAP (confesa de sobornos a funcionarios panameños para vender sistemas de computación) siguen todos invisibilizados por la falta de seguimiento por medios distraídos en linchar a todo opositor del régimen de turno en base a información-privilegiada. También ampara a los dos grupos bancarios colombianos que actualmente ejercen control sobre casi la mitad de los activos del Centro Bancario y que echan kerosene al fuego de nuestras relaciones con Colombia. Así como a los tenedores extranjeros de derechos de autor que cabildearon draconianos castigos que empeoran el hacinamiento de nuestras cárceles con reincidentes en el pirateo de CDs –y que periódicamente financian la persecución local por ese “crimen”.

Pero la cesión física más visible –después del “estado dentro de otro estado”– es “Panamá-Pacífico”, antigua base aérea norteamericana hoy concesionada a uno de los hombres más ricos de Colombia (embozalado como “empresa británica”). La Zona Libre de Colón –una idea cuyo tiempo pasó– en su pataleo de ahogado pide ahora una equiparación tributaria con este complejo multi-modal en Howard — con quien materialmente no podría competir. Porque, contrario al panorama mundial cuando se ideó la ZLC (1946), el comercio entrepot ya no es marítimo, sino aéreo y cibernético. Howard se concibió en la revolución logística y robótica –no en términos de puestos de trabajo como en Colón– sino en ganancias generadas con más inversión y menos mano de obra. En los dividendos del conocimiento, más que en la posición geográfica en sí.

En su orden sigueuna red de puertos (pacíficos y atlánticos, con ferrocarril interpuesto) heredados de ún tío rico –y entregados a otros también extranjeros. Apuntalados todos por contratos virtualmente inexpugnables (tipo servicios públicos, electricidad, celulares, televisión, cable, Odebrecht) que les otorgan derechos “como si fueran soberanos” y que son justiciables internacionalmente (Van Dam, terminal de buses en Colón). Además hay 70-buff otras concesiones territoriales, so pretexto de áreas de transformación, centros de logística, recintos aduaneros y petroleros, y el resto del pasto de tráfico de influencias para abogados.

El aeropuerto internacional Tocúmen es una variante de este tráfico de influencias que aprovecha nuestro dividendo-geográfico, sin priorizar el bien común. Hasta un ciego ve como se invierten fondos públicos panameños para el beneficio a una línea aérea “nacional” y que hoy favorecen mayormente a accionistas extranjeros; en vez de haberse abierto la expansión de su base accionaria a inversionistas locales, COPA favoreció a la Bolsa de Nueva York para compartir su concesión tan privilegiada. Ello sin que se conozca de estudio de costo/beneficio alguno, que justifique sacrificar necesidades mucho más apremiantes, aquí en el istmo.

Ausente ante este panorama está aquel debate cívico, suficientemente informado, que es clave para predecir cuáles países pequeños serán exitosos, y cuáles no.

Porque, igual que su antecesor Ricardo Martinelli, el presidente Juan Carlos Varela teme decirnos (toda) la Verdad, por carecer ambos de la capacidad de convencer sin una propaganda masiva. Varela en particular opta por la política de avestruz, rehusando responder preguntas sobre los problemas nacionales. Tampoco toca los que le obliga la Ley, como la Ampliación. Y por demás ha sido consistente en su intolerancia a ideas contrarias a las suyas, problema que mejor manejaba Martinelli. Ejemplo(s): No tuvo para con las opiniones del intelectual Julio Yao en el Cementerio Amador (2 de noviembre 2009) el mismo respeto que ahora exige en casi todo encuentro con el pueblo llano. Y, apenas calentada la silla presidencial en 2014, se clausuró el programa del Dr. Miguel Antonio Bernal –quien sí ha sido consecuente con la Constitución– al que otorgó (al menos) con su silencio. Tampoco se escapó de esta táctica de retirar estratégicamente de la escena otro polifacético e influyente periodista independiente, don Julio Miller. Ambos caracterizados por críticas firmes, pero respetuosas y fácticas. Más recientemente llevó a la hoguera de su peculiar auto-da-fe a su copartidario HD Juan Moya, simplemente por intentar definir qué es el periodismo ético –llegando inclusive al pecado de intervenir él en otro Órgano del Estado, para que ni se tocara el tema. Pese a que “democracia es debate”.

Y la corrupción comienza a levantar su cabeza, en nuestra región fronteriza de Paso Canoa…

Resulta fácil entender las chambonadas del gobierno Panameñista actual en términos de politiquería criolla. El pasado 3 de noviembre, al mandatario se le ocurrió abanderar a su chef de la Presidencia –sin duda un ciudadano sin mácula– para luego aparecer nuestro Señor Presidente pasando revista al desfile, con unas cuantos kilos de más… ¡Perfecta imagen visual, de una Presidencia imperial! Este año los desfiles patrios pasarán frente al Palacio de las Tortugas más tarde de lo tradicional, porque nuestro Luis XIV duerme hasta medio día.

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Checks revive the Navarro as Trojan Horse argument

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Martínez Acha
Javier Martínez Acha, through whom the money trail from the Martinelli scandals leads, and who has had nothing specfic to say about it for public consumption. Martínez Acha was undersecretary general of the PRD and a key operative in Juan Carlos Navarro’s failed presidential campaign. Photo from Martínez Acha’s Facebook page.

Navarro’s denials don’t match the allegations

by Eric Jackson

The PRD candidate in the 2014 election cycle, Juan Carlos Navarro, is charging long-time intra-party rivals Mitchell Doens and Francisco Sánchez Cárdenas, with criminal defamation, known as calumni e injuria here. So what, specifically, is the lie that Navarro said that they told about him in La Prensa? “Their recent reckless accusations, which appeared on Saturday, October 24 in La Prensa, ARE TOTALLY FALSE.” Specifically how? Navarro doesn’t say. But at an October 26 press conference, the erstwhile PRD leader responded to that story by stating that “none of Mr. Virzi’s companies, the accounts that were mentioned, Hidalgo & Hidalgo — from none of these were funds obtained in a fraudulent operation.” He also denied that Javier Martínez Acha had been his campaign treasurer.

What La Prensa specifically reported, based on leaks from the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, was that former Vice President Felipe “Pipo” Virzi — who had served in that office from 1994 to 1999 in a PRD administration but was a central character in Ricardo Martinelli’s inner circle — had received some $5 million from Hidalgo & Hidalgo, the highly-paid contractor for a Tonosi irrigation project that was never built, and that later Virzi cut checks for more than $1 million to a company owned by then PRD undersecretary general Javier Martínez Acha and his brother Valentín Martínez Vásquez, and that another company linked to Valentín Martínez Vásquez received both that million dollars and another similar amount from Virzi. Valentín Martínez Vásquez, by Navarro’s admission, was a donor to his campaign — but to what extent we don’t know, thanks to Panama’s designed-for-corruption campaign contribution secrecy laws. (That information should be on file with the Electoral Tribunal, but by law is not available to the public. Navarro would also have those records.)

The lead paragraph of the story in La Prensa that has so annoyed Navarro was a conclusion attributed to Doens and Sánchez Cárdenas:

The existence of a Trojan Horse in the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) campaign in 2013 would be demonstrated in the management of accounts and money of one of its directors, Javier Martínez Acha, and suggests that the then president, Ricardo Martinelli, would have penetrated the party.

Suggests, perhaps, but does not fully prove. This is the stuff from which money laundering investigations are started rather than properly summed up.

That Navarro and his Blue Wave campaign that marginalized party old-timers including Doens and Sánchez Cárdenas were Martinelli plants is not a new allegation. The most noteworthy fact proffered for this conclusion was an August 2013 meeting between Navarro and Martinelli in the office dining room of businessman Mayor Alfredo Alemán. Alemán had been treasurer of Ernesto Pérez Balladares’s successful 1994 presidential campaign. Both Navarro and Alemán have acknowledged that the meeting took place but have dismissed it as a happenstance encounter at the office of a Navarro’s and Martinelli’s mutual friend. It has also been alleged that present at the meeting were Martinelli’s personal secretary, Chichi De Obarrio, and Pipo Virzi. De Obarrio is now a fugitive who is wanted in connection with several Martinelli administration scandals. Prosecutors here have requested an INTERPOL “red alert” bulletin for his arrest in and extradition from wherever he  may have run. Virzi is under house arrest and the records of his Banco Universal — in many ways a financial clearing house for Martinelli era corruption — have produced paper trails into many different public corruption scandals and provided links to the Financial Pacific brokerage firm, itself a hub for a lot of different criminal activities, some of them associated with Ricardo Martinelli and his close collaborators.

So Navarro is apparently now so annoyed with the continued allegations and insinuations that he’s bringing charges against Doens and Sánchez Cárdenas — but not La Prensa. And which lawyers has Navarro sent into the fray? Rosendo Rivera and Gabriel Carreira Pitti. Rivera was Martinelli’s lawyer, but they had some sort of falling out and it was later revealed that Rivera was one of the targets of Martinelli’s illegal electronic surveillance operations. Much of that electronic spying was carried out with Israeli equipment bought through a company called NUNVAV. Gabriel Carreira Pitti was the lawyer who organized NUNVAV’s Panamanian subsidiary.

One of the hallmarks of paranoiac ideation is the unwarranted presumption that lines of connection are lines of causation. Panama’s inbred rabiblanco aristocracy and treacherous political caste create may opportunities for this. Want to find further interesting PRD ties with Virzi? See the board of directors of Banco Universal before intervenors from the Banking Superintendency took it over, and see PRD notable and former diplomat Eloy Alfaro (who now denies that he was the board’s spokesman, although corporate filings listed him as such.) See Dora Pérez Balladares Boyd, the daughter of the former president. And if there is anything to the widespread but unspecific allegations that Panama’s securities industry corruption goes way beyond Financial Pacific, we can start with a who’s who in the nation’s securities broker business. It’s a small country and there are many overlapping and intertwined lines of connection, but what they all mean is another set of questions.

Now that Navarro has taken recourse to the criminal defamation laws, it perhaps gives the defense a golden opportunity to uncover strings and figure out who pulled them. That Navarro directly denied things that had not been directly alleged, and got vehemently specific about the rather inconsequential detail of what title Javier Martínez Acha held when working for the Navarro campaign, perhaps raises certain warning flags.

Navarro is a spent political force — as are Doens and Sánchez Cárdenas — and one wonders what, beyond egos, anyone in this argument has to defend. Within the PRD, however, and most probably among the influential people at La Prensa, there are some real interests to be affected. Within the corporate mainstream media, for example, consider that Navarro is married to the daughter of the founder of Panama’s ad agency cartel, and she’s still a player on that scene.

More important than that, consider that along with Navarro, in the internal PRD warfare that resulted in the Blue Wave victory over the party’s older guard, came Benicio Robinson as party president. With Navarro’s hasty exit after his defeat, Robinson emerged as the big boss man of the PRD and many party members, coming from many different directions, don’t like that at all. Robinson put off internal party elections until July of 2016 and has been busy packing the bodies that will run those elections with his own loyal supporters to the exclusion of other party tendencies. But Robinson was unsuccessful this summer when he formed an alliance with Ricardo Martinelli to take over the National Assembly, end all investigations against Martinelli and his people, install Martinelli’s notorious henchman Sergio Gálvez as president of the legislature’s Credentials Committee and start impeachment proceedings against President Juan Carlos Varela. Robinson failed because he couldn’t secure the votes of about one-quarter of his caucus and Martinelli lost he votes of about half of his party’s deputies.

The Coordinadora Pro Rescate Torrijista, an alliance of seven PRD factions opposed to Robinson, complained in an October 22 pronouncement of the current party in crowd’s “cold, calculated perfidy.” Surely they see the money trail reported by La Prensa as but one more proof of this. But did any of these anti-Robinson factions have anything to do with the leaks that formed a part of La Prensa’s story? If one wants to get into the “who had a motive to do this?” mode of thinking, the possibilities go well beyond the fractious world of PRD politics and into the spheres of business, the legal system and personalities. The possibility of an expanding scandal that shatters Panamanian politics well beyond Mr. Martinelli and his supporters should not be rejected out of hand. But neither should people discount the instincts of individuals or institutions to put a lid on all of this and limit the damage that the hue and cry over the systematic corruption of recent years might do to interests, careers and reputations.

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Congreso Continental de Teología: la religión y la teología en alza

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Boff
Congreso de Amerindia: para Leonardo Boff la religión y la teología están ‘en alza’ en el mundo de hoy. Foto por ADITAL.

II Congreso Continental de Teología

por Cristina Fontenele — ADITAL

Con el tema “El factor religioso en el contexto de la conflictividad”, Leonardo Boff dio inicio al II Congreso Continental de Teología, que se realiza del 26 al 30 de octubre en Belo Horizonte (Estado de Minas Gerais – Brasil), para debatir cuestiones sobre la espiritualidad, el fundamentalismo y el terrorismo. El teólogo puntualizó que la religión y la teología están “en alza” actualmente y son temas modernos, que movilizan a miles de personas.

El fundamentalismo, de acuerdo con Boff, consiste en la interpretación y la imposición de una determinada doctrina como la única verdad posible, postura que, en general, se encamina hacia la falta de comprensión y la violencia.

Para Boff, la religión y la política caminan juntas, como por ejemplo, lo que ocurre en el Islam, donde la religión es una fuerza central que mantiene la identidad de las personas, sobre todo en los momentos de crisis. “Pero todo lo que ocurre, sólo puede enfermar”, señaló el teólogo, recordando los grandes conflictos existentes en medio Oriente.

Boff afirmó también que, además de la religión, existen otras formas de fundamentalismo y ejemplificó citando la “macroeconomía capitalista”, que ha impuesto un único modo de producción y consumo para la sociedad actual. El teólogo señala que este fundamentalismo es el responsable de la crisis griega y de los escenarios desestabilizadores de países latinos como Brasil y Argentina, que “obligan” a los gobiernos a obedecer a una única lógica económica.

Citando el lema del Pentágono (Estados Unidos) “un mundo, un imperio”, Boff comparó la versión estadounidense con la orientación papal: “un mundo, una casa”. Destaca que son comprensiones directamente opuestas de lo que sería vivir en comunidad. Según el teólogo, desde que Washington (Estados Unidos) dijo “América está en guerra”, el mundo ha vivido bajo la perspectiva de los conflictos modernos, como lo que sucede con los actuales refugiados europeos, que serían el resultado de guerras emprendidas por Occidente.

Defendiendo una postura más autocrítica, Boff recordó también el fundamentalismo individual, que se practica a veces de manera inconsciente. En todo momento, este comportamiento llama a la reflexión a partir del proceso de globalización, que permite a las personas interactuar con diferentes seres humanos de distintas partes del Globo.

Así como el fundamentalismo, el teólogo enfatizó que es preciso abordar también el tema del terrorismo, práctica que, para él, tiene como objetivo instalar el miedo generalizado en la mente de las personas. Para producir eso, el terrorismo presenta algunas características como la necesidad de que los actos sean espectaculares y la imagen de que los atentados fueron minuciosamente preparados.

Sobre la espiritualidad, Boff defendió la necesidad de rescatar la conexión con la tierra, pues “vivimos la cultura del cansancio”. Para él, el futuro puede ser decidido bajo dos perspectivas. La ótica de que el mundo vive una tragedia anunciada en la cual no es posible reparar los estragos ya realizados por el hombre, y la idea de una crisis de civilización, ante la cual es posible retomar el camino del equilibrio, que es la visión defendida por Boff.

Para el teólogo, el próximo paso de la humanidad es, entonces, descubrir qué es lo que él denomina “capital espiritual” del ser humano. Qué significa migrar de la cabeza al corazón y sentir a Dios a partir de ahí. Un camino que ofrece un potencial ilimitado, en función de la vida y no de la acumulación.

Paradójicamente, “no siempre la religión alimenta”, concluyó Boff, relatando una conversación que tuvo con el Dalai Lama, en la cual el teólogo cuestionó al budista cuál sería la mejor religión. Sorprendido, Boff dijo que según el Dalai Lama, la mejor religión es aquella que hace mejor al individuo, más humano, misericordioso y más sensible.

El Congreso

Decenas de teólogos y teólogas latinoamericanos están reunidos en el II Congreso Internacional de Teología para debatir la “Iglesia que camina con espíritu y desde los pobres”. Promovido por Amerindia Continental y con la presencia de referentes de la Teología de la Liberación, como Leonardo Boff y Gustavo Gutiérrez, el encuentro apunta a profundizar el ser cristiano en comunidad, ante los nuevos desafíos de un mundo plural y conflictivo.

En la ceremonia de apertura, este lunes 26, se hizo un homenaje a la Madre Tierra (Pachamama), con la oferta de elementos simbólicos, como agua, tierra y frutos, además de la representación de la basura a partir de la naturaleza muerta y de bolsas plásticas. Los participantes entonaron cánticos y leyeron una oración pidiendo perdón por el consumo irresponsable de los hombres, lo que ha llevado a la casi extinción de los bienes de la naturaleza.

En las palabras iniciales del Congreso, la mexicana Socorro Martínez, coordinadora continental de Amerindia, dijo que la elección del Papa Francisco en 2013 para dirigir al Vaticano produjo logros significativos para el contexto eclesial, dado que el pontífice es un “legado” de América Latina, y el primer Papa que, de hecho, optó por los pobres. Según la teóloga, Francisco invita a una nueva forma de ser y actuar, más allá del asistencialismo, más cercana de una sociedad que debe promover la dignidad de todos.

También con el mensaje de bienvenida, Pablo Bonavía, coordinador del Observatorio Eclesial de Uruguay, destacó que la reforma de la Iglesia debe distanciarse del narcisismo y promover un proceso civilizador alternativo, para vivir con alteridad cuidando de la “Casa Común” [expresión acuñada por el Papa en la encíclica ecológica Laudato si’]. El sacerdote recordó también que asumir un cambio radical y profundo no implica improvisación, y destacó las jornadas de trabajo emprendidas para discutir el contexto eclesial en diversos países, como Bogotá [Colombia], Montevideo [Uruguay], Chile, Bolivia y Buenos Aires [Argentina], entre otros.

La programación del Congreso incluye reuniones para compartir las diferentes experiencias de América Latina sobre ecología, migrantes, tráfico de personas, pueblos indígenas y el papel de la mujer en la comunidad eclesial. Entre las disertaciones, los invitados van a debatir la coyuntura y la relevancia de la Iglesia en el mundo, la autoridad de los mártires y de los pobres. El I Congreso Continental de Teología fue realizado en 2012, en la Universidad Vale do Río dos Sinos (Unisinos), en São Leopoldo (Río Grande do Sul). Después de tres años, el actual encuentro da seguimiento a la reflexión teológica en el contexto latinoamericano pos Concilio Vaticano II.

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World Health Organization on the bombing of a hospital in Yemen

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MSF Hospital in Yemen
The hospital in Saada province in northern Yemen. Photo by Doctors Without Borders.

WHO condemns attack on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Yemen

The World Health Organization (WHO) condemns the bombing of the hospital in Saada province in northern Yemen that was supported by Medécins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders in English). MSF estimates that this will leave 200,000 people with no access to life-saving medical care.

The attack violates international humanitarian law. It is the second attack on an MSF-run health facility in a month. On October 3, 30 people were killed when the MSF-supported medical clinic in Kunduz, Afghanistan was bombed. Twenty-seven MSF staff were injured.

The bombing represents a serious setback for both MSF and the affected community and an additional challenge to humanitarian work in Yemen.

WHO once again urges all parties in the conflict to respect the safety and neutrality of health workers and health facilities. Tragedies like this can and should be avoided, by warring parties consistently observing international humanitarian law and taking all necessary precautionary measures.

WHO is increasingly concerned by the continuous threats to health workers, facilities and transport, particularly in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. WHO is working together with partners to protect patients, health workers, health infrastructure and supplies from violence and thus minimize disruptions to desperately needed health care.

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Benjamin, Hillary Clinton hasn’t learned a thing from Iraq

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HRC
The former secretary of state could shatter the glass ceiling for women, but she’d leave the old boys’ military-industrial complex intact. State Department photo.

Hillary Clinton hasn’t learned a thing from Iraq

by Medea Benjamin — OtherWords

As the first Democratic presidential debate drew to a close, moderator Anderson Cooper posed a question to Hillary Clinton: How might her presidency differ from Barack Obama’s?

Clinton smiled. “Well, I think it’s pretty obvious,” she replied to rapturous applause. “Being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had.”

Indeed, a Hillary Clinton presidency would shatter the glass ceiling for women in the United States. But it would also leave intact the old boys’ military-industrial complex that’s kept our nation in a perpetual state of war for decades.

Clinton, it seems, failed to learn anything after supporting the disastrous Iraq War, which plunged a huge swath of the Middle East into chaos and cost her the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Instead of embracing diplomacy, she continued to champion ill-conceived military interventions as secretary of state.

In 2011, when the Arab Spring came to Libya, Clinton was the Obama administration’s most forceful advocate for intervening to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. She even out-hawked Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief first appointed by George W. Bush who was less than enthusiastic about going to war in Libya.

Ironically, the political grief Clinton has suffered over the subsequent attack on a US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, might never have occurred if Clinton had opted against intervening in Libya’s civil war.

While House Republicans recently spent 11 hours relentlessly drilling Clinton about Benghazi and her personal email account, the larger disaster by far is the postwar chaos that’s left Libya without a functioning government, overrun by feuding warlords and extremist militants.

Clinton favors greater military intervention in Syria’s civil war, too. In her presidential bid, she’s joined hawkish Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham in supporting the creation of a no-fly zone over the country.

That puts her at odds not only with President Barack Obama, but also with her Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders, who warned that it could “get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending US entanglement in that region.”

Clinton did end up supporting the administration’s Iran nuclear deal, but her support came with a history of bellicose baggage.

Back in 2008, for example, she warned that Washington could “totally obliterate” Iran. During that presidential campaign, she chided Obama as “naïve” and “irresponsible” for wanting to engage the country diplomatically.

Even after the nuclear agreement was sealed, she struck a bullying tone: “I don’t believe Iran is our partner in this agreement,” Clinton insisted. “Iran is the subject of the agreement.” She added that she “won’t hesitate to take military action” if it falls through.

Contrast Clinton with the more moderate Secretary of State John Kerry. It’s no wonder Obama’s two signature foreign policy achievements — the Iran deal and the groundbreaking opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba — came after Clinton left.

There was a very telling moment about Clinton’s attitude during the debate when Cooper asked, “Which enemy are you most proud of?”

Alongside the NRA, Republicans, and health insurance companies, Clinton listed “the Iranians” — which could mean either the Iranian government or the nation’s 78 million people. In either case, it wasn’t a very diplomatic thing to say while her successor and former colleagues are trying to chart a new, more cooperative relationship with Iran.

When it comes to war and peace, it might not matter too much if a Republican or Hillary Clinton wins the White House. In either case, the winner will be the military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about.

Medea Benjamin, the founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange, is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

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¿Wappin? A Sunday service for those whose faith is more in this world

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Jane's Addiction.
Jane’s Addiction.

¿Wappin? A Sunday service for those whose faith is more in this world

GoodLuck & Lisa Kekaula – What Would We Be
https://youtu.be/km2j7sWnQzE

Paul Kantner & Grace Slick – Sunrise
https://youtu.be/sa5yFYyZuSg

Mighty Diamonds – Right Time
https://youtu.be/Ieb_TP7-aqE

Maná – La Prisión
https://youtu.be/LDmktJorbSU

The Clash – I Fought the Law
https://youtu.be/AL8chWFuM-s

The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
https://youtu.be/8kl6q_9qZOs

Marshall Crenshaw – Cynical Girl
https://youtu.be/a93gTsNiW4k

Paty Cantú – Valiente
https://youtu.be/RpH4TYzmueU

Exene Cervenka & los Straitjackets – I’ll Go Down Swinging
https://youtu.be/cvMVpUWO0JM

Jane’s Addiction – Irresistible Force
https://youtu.be/rVOi5Hdbd7Q

Cage9 – A Million Miles Below the Earth
https://youtu.be/MeyCYT-q8OE

Imagine Dragons – Roots
https://youtu.be/PscXGpsF3dY

Olga Tañón – Basta Ya
https://youtu.be/tKXMB4HGPGw

Playing for Change – Redemption Song
https://youtu.be/55s3T7VRQSc

Martha Reeves & Friends – Legends In Concert
https://youtu.be/-d2mZ40CaHo

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The Panama News blog links, October 24, 2015

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The Panama News blog links, October 24, 2015

gCaptain, Huge backlog of ships waiting to pass through the Panama Canal

ANP, Gobierno y ACP trabajan para dearrollar a la área canalera

Slate, Waiting for Nicaragua’s canal

ANP, Aeropuerto de Panamá ya piensa en tercera ampliación

GCR, China Construction breaks ground for Arraijan residential and university project

La Estrella, Golpes y gas pimienta en feria de empleo

Irish Examiner, Cable & Wireless Panama may be bought by Liberty Global

Gandásegui, Desigualdad y distribución de la riqueza

Prensa Latina, Banco Mundial señaló agudos contrastes en Panamá

Xinhua, Banco Mundial expecta crecimiento de 6% parar economía panameña

Gallagher, The World Bank’s second chance in South America

AP, IMF says China slowdown likely to put Latin America into recession

Eyes on Trade, 75+ US groups say USTR must end TTIP/TAFTA secrecy

Dichter & Neira, Encuesta de Panamá en octubre (PDF)

Go Dan River, American pedophile suspect flees through here to Thailand

Prensa Latina, Possible money laundering in Panama dam projects

Loving Retirement in Panama: Yea, it kinda is your fault

Video: “Stephen,” Rick Wiles and their Panama “relocation” scheme

Wiles, “Project X”

STRI, Will there be a drought in Panama next year?

Bay News 9, New wheelchair brings wounded warrior back to the beach

Infection Control Today, Pilot implementation of malaria vaccine recommended

Yahoo News, Thomas Jefferson’s chemistry lab

WBTV, Catawba students learn about snakes in El Cope

AP, New secretary at Smithsonian Institution

Rome Reports, Pope’s concluding remarks at the family synod

Statesman, Texas kicks Planned Parenthood out of Medicad

Daily Beast, Cops beat man then charge him for blood on their uniforms

Dayen, Clinton attacking big banks but not BlackRock

Merlan, Angry old men calling a meeting to yell at a woman: a spectacular failure

Naiman, Anderson Cooper: opposing illegal CIA wars is “unelectable”

CBC, Trudeau pledges “real change” as Liberals win majority

TeleSur, Could a Liberal victory in Canada be a bonus for Latin America?

World Association for Public Opinion Research, Poll interviewers lynched in Mexico

BBC, Cuban artist jailed for mocking Castros is released

WOLA, Fighting corruption and impunity in Honduras

Colombia Informa, 1500 presos políticos en huelga de hambre

BBC, Venezuela Central Bank sues US-based DolarToday website

Dolph, Structural challenges underlie Argentina’s general elections

Johnston, Port-au-Prince murders a bad omen for Haiti’s election

Caribbean News Now!, St. Kitts minister: US arrest of Antiguan diplomat a warning

El Tiempo, María del Pilar Hurtado quiere que Panamá la indemnice

Focus Taiwan, Panama’s first lady

[Editor’s note: There are a couple of stories out there that might be expected in a summary like this, but which I decided to omit for now. Did the Venezuelan prosecutor say that Leopoldo López was framed and flee for his life? How reliable was that statement, how complete and what were the motives? The media that are running with that ball have a long record of bad reporting about Venezuela, so let’s wait and see how this one plays out. And then the ACP, not to date having definitively announced its opinion on the GUPC’s diagnosis of or solution for the leaking locks sill problem, is sending out invitations for an April 2016 opening. But quite frankly, not only is it a prospective statement but the ACP has been neither the most transparent nor the most reliable source. Again, let’s wait and see.]

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Parking follies

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parking
Cars parked in front of the Casa de Gobernacion in Penonome, blocking other cars in. Photo by Eric Jackson.

Silly season in the National Assembly
isn’t just about metro area parking

by Eric Jackson

We could get into some interesting, and perhaps insulting, comparative political culture analyses of what gets declared a human right. Here in Panama, it doesn’t include carrying a fully loaded and fully automatic assault rifle into a hospital emergency room. But back in September our National Assembly did pass a law declaring that drivers have a right to a parking space. That is, for example, that people with business to do at Punta Pacifica’s gleaming palaces that were built without anything close to sufficient parking get to park for free at the ample lots built for the MultiPlaza mall, which is expanding and hopes to eventually need all of that space.

It’s not just a Panama City issue, though. On a stroll through downtown Penonome, a driver honked to get me off the sidewalk next to the Catholic Church. His intention was to park on the sidewalk in front of the gate by which people and their cars get in and out of the church parking lot.

Then around the corner was the scene shown above, in which cars parked in front of the Cocle provincial Casa de Gobernacion block in other cars parked in the designated spaces.

President Varela vetoed the bit about a right to a parking space, with the support of the Chamber of Commerce arguing that it violates the property rights of those who own the lots on which people would park. But the legislators, not wanting to be known as evil oppressors who keep their constituents from parking their cars in convenient places, overrode the veto.

Is it political suicide to suggest that Panama’s urban areas have too many cars, that dealing with the problem — or not dealing with it — carries costs and that it’s drivers who ought to bear that cost? Maybe not. Most Panamanians ride the buses, and in October, after his lost argument with the National Assembly, polls suggested that Varela’s popularity jumped several points. The metro area public in general expresses annoyance with all the congestion, more than half of those interviewed by the Dichter & Neira polling firm opining that the Transito Police are not doing much to solve the problem.

The legislative session ends on October 31, at which time the docket gets erased, to be started over in the next session, which begins next March. Thus we see all manner of demagoguery, most of which will be neither debated nor passed. Most Panamanians are not fooled by the game.

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George Scribner: new paintings, a calendar and upcoming events

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Gorgona beach
Waiting for the tide in Gorgona.

New work by George Scribner

George Scribner, a senior artist with Disney, hails from the old Canal Zone and still maintains close ties to Panama. This is some of his more recent and upcoming work.

 

"Henry and Debbie" -- the wife and grandson walking.
“Henry and Debbie” — the wife and grandson walking.

 

new locks gate
“Agaralo bien” — work on the Panama Canal expansion.

 

Paris
Paris in February.

 

surveyor
“The Surveyor” — another take on the PanCanal expansion.

 

calendar
The 2016 George Scribner Calendar, a benefit for his grandsons’ college fund. You can order them via georgescribnerart.com.

 

steps
Upcoming events: Scribner will be doing a one day Painting the Figure in a Landscape workshop at the Buenaventura Art association in Ventura in March 2016. He will also be doing an intermediate to advanced painting workshop at BMAI in Montrose in January 2016. If you have any interest in any of these just contact him by email.
 
Next summer Scribner is an invited speaker at the Canal Zone Reunion in Orlando.
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