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The Panama News blog links, September 10, 2016

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The Panama News blog links

Splash 24/7, PanCanal says it won’t be drawn into a price war with Suez

GCaptain, World’s largest ro-ro ship transits the expanded canal

Washington Post, That pricey Arctic cruise was just the beginning

MarineLink, Cruise ship transits the Northeast Passage

Bloomberg, Arctic shipping still a dream

Splash 24/7, Hanjin Shipping edges closer to oblivion

Metro Libre, Taekwondistas panameños sacaron su casta en Costa Rica

SoundersFC.com, CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament schedule

BBC, Brazilian police want to question IOC head

La Estrella, Comercio en la Zona Libre se desploma 36% en cuatro años

BBC, Denmark to buy leaked Panama Papers data

Blades, ¿Ahora se puede comprar lo hurtado impunemente?

Reuters, Spanish ex-minister linked to Panama Papers renounces World Bank job

ANP, El objetivo del préstamo por $300M que el Banco Mundial otorgó a Panamá

Página 12, El FMI vuelve con pedidos de ajuste

Barrios, La geopolítica del crimen organizado y la economía del crimen

Eyes on Trade, TPP is unfortunately not dead

The Intercept, Obama promises lame duck TPP push

Bloomberg: Clinton’s Drug proposals ‘very negative,’ Pfizer CEO says

CSO, Ransomware prevalent in cloud-based malware

Espinosa & Molina, The climate’s low-hanging fruit

Slate, Giraffes are four species rather than the one previously thought

Australian National University, New material to revolutionize water proofing

Mashable, Ticos go two months without burning fossil fuels for electricity

Mongabay, Dam foes say Ecuador criminalizes them

La Estrella: Barro Blanco, un conflicto extendido por todo el país

TVN, Piden bajar niveles de intolerancia por discusión de la educación sexual

InSight Crime, Arrest of Panama drug boss shows gangs’ international ambitions

Ukraine Today, Ukrainian ex-official detained by Panama court for 40 days

El Tiempo, Mizrachi intentó evitar su recaptura

The Independent, What Donald Trump has really been up to in Latin America

EFE, 72% de colombianos votará “sí” en plebiscito sobre paz

CEPR, Have US-funded CARSI programs reduced crime in Central America?

WOLA, Private prisons: a questionable model across the Americas

E&N, Nicaragua otorga asilo al expresidente Mauricio Funes

Real Clear Politics, Latest US polls

McCann, Malheur Part I: Sovereign Feelings

McCann, Malheur part II: Ours But Not Ours

Russell, Two wars for the American West

The Economist, Post-truth politics

Wallace-Wells, The facts and falsehoods of the Clinton Foundation

Taibbi, The unconquerable Trump

Valenti, Schlafly won some battles but lost the war

Green, Dilma’s impeachment and Brazil’s future

Burges, Temer’s presidential dilemma in Brazil

Blades, Brasil y el desgaste de la politiqueria

Fortune, Why Facebook removing a Vietnam War photo is so important

Tegría, Indigenous peoples demand protection of sacred sites

Caribbean News Now!, Black Uhuru’s Duckie Simpson

 

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Gandásegui, La muralla de la paz (versión Trump)

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Trump WallLa muralla de la paz

por Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo

Hay murallas que se construyen para la paz.

Esa es la muralla de Nicolás Guillén (1902-1989), poeta cubano, quien cantó para que todas las manos se juntaran y evitaran la guerra. Su plegaria pretendía unir a los pueblos del mundo. La muralla ha sido grabada por el grupo chileno Quilapayún, así como los españoles Ana Belén y Víctor Manuel. Son muchas las murallas que por mala fortuna han sido levantadas para la guerra. Así es la muralla que pretende construir Trump para separar los pueblos que viven a orillas del río Grande, entre México y EEUU.

Según Trump la muralla que se construiría entre EEUU y Mexico tendría una extensión de 1.600 kilómetros y un costo de 8.000 millones de dólares. El especulador norteamericano asegura que esa cantidad es una “cantidad muy pequeña comparada con el dinero que EEUU pierde con México”.

Trump asegura que México pagará la construcción de la muralla si gana las elecciones en noviembre. Según un diario de la capital mexicana, “como es habitual en las promesas electorales del candidato a la Casa Blanca, los números no encajan y a veces son mentiras”. A pesar de las amenazas de Trump contra los empresarios norteamericanos que inviertan en México, muchos no le hacen caso a su proyecto de muralla. La segunda empresa de automóviles de EEUU, la Ford Co., anunció que va a invertir 1.600 millones de dólares en una nueva fábrica en la localidad mexicana de San Luis Potosí, que dará empleo a 2,800 personas, casi todas mexicanas.

Como es habitual en las promesas electorales del candidato a la Casa Blanca, los números no encajan, y algunos de ellos son mentiras. Las grandes multinacionales de EEUU no le están haciendo mucho caso.

El gobierno mexicano pagaría la muralla, según Trump, en tres pasos. El “primer día” en la Casa Blanca, el magnate exigirá que los “extranjeros” que residan en EEUU presenten pruebas de su residencia legal para realizar transferencias de dinero fuera del país.

El “segundo día” de su presidencia, asegura Trump, México elevaría una protesta diplomática por la medida anunciada. “En el tercer día” de su presidencia, Trump exigirá al Gobierno mexicano que pague una cantidad indeterminada de miles de millones de dólares para construir el muro. Si no lo hace, Trump le prohibiría a los mexicanos indocumentados transferir fondos a sus familias. Los asesores de Trump dicen que los mexicanos en EEUU envían a su país 24.000 millones de dólares anuales en remesas. El monto “actúa como una red de protección social en México”.

De antemano, Trump anuncia la guerra. Hay una masa electoral en EEUU que apoya la guerra. Por esta razón hay mucho miedo en el mundo.

Los pueblos latinoamericanos luchan por la paz. El pueblo norteamericano también. Pero hay ‘alacranes y ciempiés’ que quieren tomarse el poder político (entre ellos candidatos como Donald Trump o golpistas más al sur) para separar los pueblos y hacer la guerra.

A diferencia de los guerreristas como Trump, los latinoamericanos sabrán abrirle la muralla ‘al corazón del amigo’. También hay ‘rosas y claveles’ a las cuales la muralla les abrirá paso.

Lean más abajo La muralla de Nicolás Guillén, adaptada a Trump:

Para hacer esta muralla / tráiganme todas las manos / Los negros, sus manos negras,
los blancos, sus blancas manos.
Ay,
una muralla que vaya… desde la playa hasta el monte / desde el monte hasta la playa, bien / allá sobre el horizonte.

¡Tun, tun! / ¿Quién es? / Una rosa y un clavel… / ¡Abre la muralla!
¡Tun, tun! / ¿Quién es? / El sable de Trump… ¡Cierra la muralla!
¡Tun, tun! / ¿Quién es? / La paloma y el laurel… ¡Abre la muralla!
¡Tun, tun! / ¿Quién es? / El alacrán y el ciempiés
de Trump…/ ¡Cierra la muralla!

Al corazón del amigo, abre la muralla / al veneno y puñal de Trump, cierra la muralla;
Al mirto y yerbabuena, abre la muralla / a la serpiente
de Trump, cierra la muralla;
Al ruiseñor en la flor, abre la muralla…

Alcemos una muralla, juntando todas las manos; los negros, sus manos negras,
Los blancos, sus blancas manos.
Una muralla que vaya/ desde la playa hasta el monte /desde el monte hasta la playa, bien / allá sobre el horizonte…

 

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Editorials: Trump v Clinton; and Police purge

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costs of empire
The expenses of empire, both in what is paid out and in opportunities that are cut off, add up to perhaps the most important issue facing the American people. Do not expect that it will be the subject of serious debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The US presidential race

Americans go to the polls on or before November 8 and whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump who is proclaimed the winner on the evening of the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the 11th month largely depends on how many Americans show up at the polls and who they are. Predictions are less than a dime a dozen, the pollsters and pundits have been wrong all through the primary season, there are wild cards of ethnic passions out there and there will be hundreds of thousands of people improperly disenfranchised by vote suppression tactics ranging from discriminatory state laws to outright fraud. Americans living abroad have a right to vote, generally by absentee ballot in the place where they last lived in the USA, and would be wise to exercise this right. In many countries consequences ranging from changes in consular services to anti-American riots may ultimately flow from how we decide.

The polls have Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton within the margin of error of one another, Libertarian Gary Johnson at a bit more than eight percent and the Greens’ Jill Stein with about three percent. It’s going to be Clinton or Trump, but the third party protest votes may matter a great deal. A total Johnson collapse could put Trump in the White House. So could intra-Democratic faction fighting that drives some of the party’s left half to stay home or cast protest votes for Stein.

It has been and will be an ugly negative campaign. The candidate who between now and November rises above identity politics and hot button hatreds to offer the nation a compelling vision of where it should go these next four years ought to win. Or should we say, the viable candidate who does that may find the key to victory, even to greatness. There is precedent for this. In 1932 the aristocratic Franklin D. Roosevelt rode into office on a wave of revulsion and desperation after the Roaring 20s financial swindles collapsed and threw millions of innocent people into penury. The campaign visionaries were on the fringes. Roosevelt played it safe and then stole much of the Socialist Party platform and enacted it into law as part of the New Deal. Trump could do something like that, stealing Gary Johnson’s platform or David Duke’s. Once in office Hillary Clinton might pay attention to the neoconservatives, to the democratic socialists who were nearly half of this year’s Democratic primary electorate or to some of Jill Stein’s ideas.

Look for a huge gender gap in favor of Clinton, not only because she’s a woman but because Trump’s a creep. Look for the true enormity of irrationalism and white supremacy to assert itself in the Trump column. And listen for the voices of Latino communities that have always been a part of the US political landscape having their say, perhaps decisively this time.

The next phase in Panamanian law enforcement

Five police officers, mostly of higher ranks and including a commissioner and a subcommissioner, are under arrest. We had a weekend of police checkpoints along the roads, in which cops were not checking driver driver’s licenses or auto registrations but looking for other cops to arrest. By various accounts at least three more top law enforcement officials who have not been arrested are under investigation. The prison sentence for weapons offenses of former police chief and national security director Gustavo Pérez — who threatened a police coup against Ricardo Martinelli in the event of civilian review of police actions — has been upheld. With a generous raise in retirement benefits thrown in as a sweetener the bloated top ranks of the nation’s law enforcement apparatus are being substantially thinned. Martinelli had moved to put those whom he figured were loyal in key police positions, and now Juan Carlos Varela is clearing the way for a new generation of law enforcement leadership.

Mentioned in the rhetoric and lurking in the background of every part of this story is gangland infiltration of Panama, its police forces, its politics, its business sectors and its population. The War on Drugs is lost, but even once we recognize that and move on to more humane and effective ways to fight addiction, the gangsterism that all sides of it brought to our society will remain a problem. Let’s end the big money temptations that the drug underworld can wave in the faces of our police officers, prosecutors, judges and elected officials. Let’s get rid of the bad cops and promote the good ones, whatever the momentary opportunity for corruption. And let’s be honest and forthright people who deserve honest and forthright policing.

Bear in mind…

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.

Abraham Lincoln

From time to time, there have reappeared certain indications of racism directed against specific groups in Panamanian society, due to ethnic or racial considerations. Fortunately there has always existed a group of Panamanians who have been ready to take a categorical stand in opposition to every form of racial discrimination and to demonstrate their tireless and constant decision to eliminate these plagues that attempt to deny certain people their human rights.

George Westerman

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

 

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Martinelli retreats but isn’t much pursued

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RMB tweets
These days he’s tweeting more to promote his faltering media empire than his even more endangered political career.

Moves to bring Martinelli to trial almost
at a standstill, as is his comeback bid

by Eric Jackson

Last December the Supreme Court issued an order for Ricardo Martinelli’s arrest on illegal wiretapping charges. Between the high court and the foreign ministry, that warrant has bounced around in the Panamanian government and has never been passed on to INTERPOL, nor to authorities in the United States to whence Martinelli fled. The revelations of Edward Snowden and the 1904 US-Panamanian extradition treaty make an extradition on that charge politically and legally problematic but most of the other more than a dozen pending charges against the former president are for more garden variety graft and peculation. But proceedings on those charges are at a standstill in the Supreme Court and now that body’s presiding magistrate, Martinelli appointee José Ayú Prado, says that he wants to investigate the court investigators’ poor performance. That, of course, would cause further delays.

Panamanian law is in many ways designed to promote political corruption, and one of these ways is with primitive to nonexistent tolling statutes. Somebody with the money to hire armies of lawyers can interpose motion after motion and delay after delay in hopes of running out the calendar on the statute of limitations. Better yet, she or he could rely on cooperative judges or prosecutors to do a lot of that work. There is no law that says that while someone who has fled is out of the country, the clock stops as far as statutes of limitations go. For the most part the time taken up by delays caused by the accused is similarly not subtracted from the time limit to bring and finish a case.

Already, most of the cases of vote buying with public funds by Martinelli-backed candidates for the National Assembly in the 2014 elections are on the verge of being extinguished by the calendar. That the Martinelli-appointed Electoral Prosecutor Eduardo Peñaloza has from the day he took office taken dives on enforcing the law against his boss’s minion — and that seems to be fine with Attorney General Kenia Porcell. But a prosecutor’s bad faith refusal to uphold the law does not toll the statute of limitations. There have been convictions for perhaps the most egregious of the vote buyers, Heriberto “Yunito” Vega and his running mate in a campaign for a seat in the legislature from the province of Herrera. That his opponent was President Varela’s brother (to whom he lost) was apparently less of a factor than the crude, in-everyone’s-face fashion in which public funds were transferred from the national government through local governments, then through Vega’s maid and ultimately into gifts for the voters. This case, which got the two candidates three-year prison sentences, was the exception.

Ricardo Martinelli, who is harbored by the US government, can probably wait out any legal consequences for what he did in comfortable Miami self-exile. Panama is too obscure to most Americans for the matter to become a US campaign issue. But also stalled is Martinelli’s bid for a political comeback.

Sixteen of the Cambio Democratico party’s 25 deputies now refuse to take Martinelli’s orders. He designated former labor minister Alma Cortés as acting president and gave her orders to purge the 16 rebels. But she has been busy with other things, like defending herself from criminal charges that she somehow obtained about $3.5 million while in public office and which she can’t explain as coming from a legitimate source. After some time in preventive detention she was granted $300,000 bail, but could not immediately raise it. As in, the very wealthy Ricardo Martinelli has not been nearly so loyal to his dwindling band of followers as he expects members of his party to be to him. Cortés is out now but does not appear to be functioning in the role that she held before she went to jail. CD secretary general Rómulo Roux is now the party leadership’s public face and he says that the party’s legislative caucus is 25 members rather than nine.

Cambio Democratico announced in July that it would start to gather petition signatures to call for a new constitutional convention. Others are also talking about that. The CD petition drive is just talk, and no longer much of that lately. The hard reality is that by themselves the party couldn’t come close to mobilizing the people needed to collect the needed more than a half-million petition signatures.

And Martinelli’s next campaign? He says he wants to run for mayor of Panama City in 2019. It’s early yet, but there are no indications of any popular demand for that.

In his absence from Panama Martinelli’s public statements have been less about any big political plans and more about promoting the media empire that he acquired while president, largely financing those purchases via lucrative government advertising. That gravy train stopped running when Martinelli’s term in office ended. The shrunken page size of El Panama America and far thinner La Critica attest to the Martinelli brand’s woes. For the past year or so the former president has been warning that Varela wants to shut down the EPASA newspapers, NexTV, KW Continente radio and so on, but it seems that the market is what’s moving in that direction. The Martinelli family’s billboard business also seems to be a major bust if one considers who owns most of those signs that now just say that they are for rent.

Does the bipolar politician who ran for president on the platform of “Los Locos Somos Más” have the reputation of a manic raver? We may now be seeing the other end of the pole, a political and business career sputtering out in a depressive haze.

 

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Financial Transparency Coalition, Breaking out of perpetual scandal mode

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theft

UK furthers transparency of multinational corporations

by the Financial Transparency Coalition

On Monday, the UK government agreed to an amendment to the Finance Bill that would enable the UK tax authority, HMRC, to publish country by country financial reports of UK-headquartered multinational corporations. Country by country reports show basic information about a multinational’s operations, including taxes paid, number of employees, revenue generated, and profits on a country-level. These reports can give light to abuse of tax laws and aggressive tax avoidance.

Porter McConnell, Director of the Financial Transparency Coalition, issued the following statement:

This step by the UK is certainly welcome, but it’s important that the government actually uses the power it now has by releasing country by country reports of UK multinationals to the public as quickly as possible. Last week, we saw outrage regarding Apple’s tax scheme in Ireland. Before that, there was outrage around secret tax deals arranged between Luxembourg and hundreds of corporations from around the globe. It’s time to break out of perpetual scandal mode and make some changes to business as usual. A financial system that relies on plausible deniability and shifting responsibility is inherently shaky, and it’s simply not sustainable.

But UK-headquartered corporations only represent a small portion of the global economy. This move should be a catalyst for other governments, a number of whom supported the idea of public country by country reporting in May’s Anti-Corruption Summit held in London. Members of the European Union will debate making country by country reports public in the coming months. To put the world economy back on sounder footing, more countries will need to join the UK and take up this common sense public reporting.

 

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Cosas para hacer ~ Things to do

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foo-BALL

Cosas para hacer ~ Things to do

 

InfoArte

 

Improv

 

"Danilo

 

TGA2

 

futsal

 

black tea

 

Baru Climb

 

Romulo

 

Ikebana

 

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The Panama News blog links, Labor Day 2016

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Usually we play Panamanian music on these pages, but this time these international musicians — well known and appreciated in Panama — treat us to a universal theme on this US Labor Day.

The Panama News blog links

The Guardian, Hanjin bankruptcy causes turmoil in the shipping world

Fosters.com, Melting Arctic opens new frontier

CBC, Nunavut port seeks Chinese investors

Eco-Business, China’s trans-Amazon railway stokes forest fears

World Highways, Dragados in running for Panama bridge deal

Video, Luis Concepción vs Kohei Kono

Video, Panamá 2 – Jamaica 0

FIFA.com, Two tickets left in CONCACAF scrap

ANP, AIG licita la Red Nacional Internet 2.0

Bloomberg, Spain proposes Panama leaks minister Soria for World Bank job

ALAI, El poder de las farmaceúticas y el derecho a los medicamentos

Smithsonian Insider, Health risks of eating turtle eggs could help species

Mongabay, How humans create as well as destroy species

IDG, OpenOffice coders debate retiring the project

The Motor Report, Mercedes to market “personal assistant” cars

BBC, Lucy probably died in a fall from a tree

El Siglo, Cae comisionado por caso sicariato

TVN, Confirman condena de Gustavo Pérez

Telemetro, Balacera en discoteca en Vía Argentina

La Estrella, Los casos de Martinelli agudizan la crisis en la Corte Suprema

TVN, Adames prometo amplio debate sobre educación sexual

International Cry, Panama’s police assault indigenous dam protesters

Video, Protesta en la Universidad de Panamá

The Costa Rica Star, Tico police meet US ambassador on Panama border

Página 12, Golpe consumado

Americas Program, Honduran human rights groups oppose US aid

BBC, Hundreds of thousands in rival Caracas demonstrations

The Atlantic, Which Republicans oppose Trump?

Reuters, FBI detects breaches against two state voter systems

Christian Science Monitor, Does electronic voting put the US election at risk?

Rolling Stone, The GOP’s stealth war against voters

Washington Post, High court blocks use of NC vote suppression law

Boff, Cómo hacer frente al fundamentalismo

Fischer, Europe’s last chance

Focus Taiwan, Panama City and Kaohsiung to be sister cities

La Estrella, Joseph Archbold: chef campeón

 

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¿Wappin? Afterlife-saving soul implant surgery

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Neville & Ronstadt

Seguro Social and Medicare won’t pay for
a soul implant — get one here for free

Booker T & the MGs – Green Onions
https://youtu.be/_bpS-cOBK6Q

Otis Redding – I Got Dreams To Remember
https://youtu.be/Ooqqj6q1MeU

Percy Sledge – When a Man Loves a Woman
https://youtu.be/jHS8LAqHyHs

Little Richard – Good Golly Miss Molly
https://youtu.be/TqHQqb5ot74

Tina Turner – River Deep, Mountain High
https://youtu.be/ULw1RHHPv5g

The Chiffons – One Fine Day
https://youtu.be/aKe0XKfAnv8

The Ronettes – Be My Baby
https://youtu.be/jrVbawRPO7I

Little Eva – Loco-motion
https://youtu.be/eKpVQm41f8Y

Mary Wells – My Guy
https://youtu.be/r1M5eEJeT38

The Supremes – Where Did Our Love Go?
https://youtu.be/izzKUoxL11E

Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia
https://youtu.be/IdfZnWsps34

The Temptations – Just My Imagination
https://youtu.be/M5Z9-QCmZyw

The Four Tops – Are You Man Enough?
https://youtu.be/faaxsHyyIzY

The Impressions – People Get Ready
https://youtu.be/l04yM7-BWbg

Aaron Neville & Linda Ronstadt — 1996 Concert at the White House
https://youtu.be/whc35X1R5k4

 

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US Consulate lends a hand to absentee voters

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envelope
This election year it’s free to mail your voter registration, application for a ballot or absentee ballot to the USA. To do that you go to the American Consulate (which is part of the embassy complex in Clayton) in the mornings — they close at noon — and go to window 14. You won’t need a prior appointment. This mailing privilege is for voting materials only. Global postal treaties will not allow you to get free postage if you drop it into a Panamanian post office box. When you give your voting envelope to the consulate, it goes into the diplomatic pouch to the USA, then goes into the US mail from there.

US diplomats won’t tell you for whom to vote, but they will help to get your vote counted

by Eric Jackson

Are you an American who takes US citizenship seriously? Deadlines to exercise your rights and fulfill your duty rapidly approach. Consular officer Rolando Diaz, a Texas political activist before he came to the US State Department, explained it to several dozen Americans — expatriates, naturalized citizens, people who were born dual citizens in Panama as the children of US citizens — at an August 31 meeting at the US Consulate. It was one of several presentations by the embassy and consular staff to bring the community up to date about this cycle’s procedures for voting from abroad.

Diaz referred to federal laws about voting from abroad — for example, government-subsidized free postage for voting materials mailed through US diplomatic missions — but emphasized that each state has its own rules about voter qualifications and deadlines to register and get ballots back to local election officials in the United States. How complicated can it get? “Texas has one election law for the entire state,” he noted, “but many local officials with their own interpretations of what that means.” So how to sort it out? Diaz recommends one of the several online sites to help US citizens vote from abroad, the Federal Voter Assistance Project. State by state, this service that was primarily established for US military personnel and dependents overseas but now also serves all Americans living overseas, makes it easy for you to register to vote, request an absentee ballot or check the status of your ballot.

First, you need to determine where to vote. Generally this will be by absentee ballot to the last place where you resided in the USA. But there are special considerations for American citizens who never lived in the United States. There are 37 states that allow a US citizen who hasn’t lived in the USA to vote in that state if one of his or her parents resided or was domiciled there. How “residency” and “domicile” are defined are matters of state law, but by federal law a person who only votes for federal offices — President of the United States, US Senator or US Representative — can’t be declared a resident of the state in which she or he casts those votes for purposes of state income tax liability.

A few states allow you to vote by email or fax. Many more states allow you to register to vote and order your ballot electronically and some of these will email your ballot to you. With most states you have to mail a printed and filled out ballot back to local voting officials by snail mail. Deadlines to register and request your ballots start coming in early October. In most US jurisdictions a ballot needs to be at the local clerk’s office by election day — November 8 this year — to be counted. Some want the ballots back earlier than that, some will count a ballot that comes in late but was mailed on or before election day. A few states have same-day voter registration and for overseas voters will accept a registration, ballot request and filled-out ballot in a single mailing.

What is the usual bottleneck for Panama, especially for those of us who live in the Interior? By federal law there is the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Those who have registered to vote and requested their ballots from the states and who have not received their ballots can fill out and send in one of these ballots. As a matter of law they are perfectly valid, although there will surely be some local election officials who will toss them in a provisional ballot box, the contents of which they will not count. In a contested close election, these votes preliminarily cast aside are likely to be examined and argued over by lawyers for the rival campaigns. In this era of widespread and sometimes flagrantly unlawful vote suppression, the FWAB of someone who was not sent a ballot because some committee using bogus information convinced some clerk that a properly eligible voter should be disqualified may become a court case. If that happens one of the drawbacks to casting a write-in ballot on the federal form is that the right to a secret ballot is waived by using that procedure.

There is also a standard federal form, the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), to register to vote and request a ballot. But look up the information for the state where you will be voting first, because you may be able to submit this or some equivalent state form online and save the time and effort entailed in mailing in the FPCA form.

State voting laws are an ever moving set of targets. The day that Diaz gave his presentation at the consulate, an evenly divided US Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s racially motivated vote suppression laws. Not long before that the governor of Virginia, having been struck down by the state courts on a blanket move to end the ban on voting by convicted felons who have served their time, individually commuted sentences to restore the voting rights of some 13,000 Virginians who had been convicted of crimes — and on the day of Diaz’s presentation Republicans in Virginia’s legislature moved to hold the Democratic governor in contempt.

One of the most common vote suppression tactics is the voter ID law. Since the last presidential election 17 states have passed versions of these, two of these states have had those laws struck down and most of the other state laws of this sort are being challenged in court. One typical requirement is that only a state driver’s license will suffice. In Alabama they did that, and then closed all of the offices where licenses can be obtained or renewed in counties with black majorities. Some states have refused to accept Veterans Administration IDs from disabled vets who are physically unable to drive. It can be expected that some states, or some local officials, will demand expensive to obtain ID from overseas voters. The cost of renewing a US passport, or of travel to the USA to get or renew a driver’s license, could reasonably be argued to be an unconstitutional poll tax if it is made a requirement for voting. Perhaps your challenged FWAB will be the case that decides this. But in the event that an election official in the USA demands a valid passport as voting ID, the US Consulate here will consider that an “emergency” on a par with a death in the family back in the States, so as to allow you to obtain or renew a US passport on an expedited basis.

You can go to window 14 of the US consulate to mail your registration, ballot request or filled-out ballot right now. They close at noon, however, so you have to go in the morning. For security reasons it has been decided not to have a mailbox in front of the consulate. (Jihadis, Aryan resistance fighters et al will have to deposit their letter bombs elsewhere.)

Diaz recommended that voters get their ballots to the consulate by October 28 to be reasonably sure that election officials in the various states will receive them by election day.

 

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