Home Blog Page 130

Editorials: A new constitution; and US voting rights

0
them
An unaccountable and opaque state-within-a-state? That, too, is one of the many arguments that are commonly made for a new constitution. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

A new constitution for Panama

There was a lot going on in Panama City on July 27, and one of those things was a gathering of people from 35 community groups to picket the mayor’s office in the Edificio Hatillo. Many were the complaints, all under the general umbrella of “urban chaos.” Rezonings sprung on neighborhoods by surprise, developers flouting existing rules, inspectors and other public officials looking the other way, Supreme Court decisions being ignored — all adding to noise, congestion, pollution, destruction of green areas, deadly hazards (in addition to the maleantes) just to walk the city’s streets and so on. So often in the public officials say that, in the face of flagrant lawbreaking, their hands are tied by the rule of law.

Yes, there is a problem of people with the wrong motives in the wrong places. Yes, there are aspects of Panamanian culture that lead to government dysfunction. Yes, there is inertia in a country that has known little more than oligarchy, dictatorship and demagoguery in its relatively brief history as an independent republic.

People know that we can do better than this. It’s some of the better educated who will say that things have always been this way and must remain so, but generally they know better and just say that to protect their own vested interest or out of sheer laziness about learning or doing anything new. The poorly educated know that something must change, although they might or might not be persuaded by some huckster to vote for the wrong solutions. It’s going to be up to the better educated and less committed to the status quo to lead Panama in the right direction. Part of that direction is a new constitution.

We need elections for a constituent assembly. The argument about an originating versus a parallel assembly is mostly a procedural distraction. The present constitution calls for a parallel assembly but once elected such a body would have broad powers. For the discredited elected officials or courts to interfere with its work would cause an immense crisis, and if the members of that body drafts a new constitution that calls for early new elections and the replacement of the entire Supreme Court there would only be the voters to effectively stop them.

Panama City’s Mayor Blandón has just jumped on the bandwagon for a constituent assembly, on which the Cambio Democratico party and its mafia don Ricardo Martinelli are riding, along with far more reputable folks like the Colegio de Abogados.

It’s important to grab our chance for a new constitution, and while the arguments ought to be mainly about the substance of what needs to be in a new constitution, there are important procedural matters. The procedural question to which we should be paying the most attention at the moment is how a constituent assembly is elected. The citizens should not accept an arrangement that leaves our fragmented and widely despised political parties in charge of the process, rules that allow candidates to buy votes by passing out cash or other valuables, or a television campaign privately financed by the rich. We need a worthy new way of making political decisions en route to a worthy new constitution, and we need a public demand for this.

 

Congressional hearings and voting rights in the USA

Now comes the hue and cry about the Russians hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s emails and leaking their contents so as to affect the US election. It might be a viable GOP campaign issue but for Donald Trump being such an outspoken admirer of Vladimir Putin and old business associate of the Russian mob. And will the Democratic hierarchy, which ought to be absolutely mortified both by the contents of those emails and by the ineffective computer software and expertise that Debbie Wasserman Schultz bought from family and friends, try to twist this into a neocon “the Russians are coming” meme? That would be a foolish move on Hillary Clinton’s part.

But all that said, foreign interference in US elections is something that ought to concern all Americans, whether it’s someone manipulating public discourse by hacks and leaks or foreign corporations and oligarchs using backdoor routes to fund US attack ads. In the scheme of things, this election year and all other presidential elections this century have been affected by far worse abuses than foreign interference. The theft of the 2000 presidential election by a sordid court decision with at least two justices who should have been recused because of family conflicts of interest set the tone. There is the legalized bribery and purchase of elections since the Citizens United court decision. A plethora of vote suppression schemes, “strip and flip” tactics by which voter registration lists are tampered with to eliminate certain groups of people in the former case and electronic voting systems that leave no paper trail are hacked to alter the results in the latter, the revival of racial discrimination in voting and a new wave of discrimination by age or relationship to a university add up to the stuff of which a new Voting Rights Act ought to be fashioned. But to do something about such abuses, there must be congressional hearings to expose and debate the problems.

However, there is a problem with congressional hearings, just as there is a problem with Congress. It turns out that Republican Representative Trey Gowdy tried to influence this year’s elections by running endless Benghazi hearings at which he deliberately presented falsified “evidence.” There are not enough votes among his colleagues for even the mildest reprimand. So far this century, neither the Senate nor the House have conducted any meaningful hearing on the general problem of compromised elections. The political caste just accepts that stuff as ordinary.

The riveting drama of televised hearings has at times served the nation, although if the truth is to be fully told the two most famous of these revolved around a despicable figure who kept carefully out of the limelight. The Army McCarthy hearings had their genesis in J. Edgar Hoover’s entourage going after the US Army for drafting Roy Cohn’s boyfriend. The end result was about World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower slapping down that assault on the Army that he had served, alcoholic fanaticism in his own Republican Party and Hoover’s assertion of power over elected governments. The Watergate scandal was very real, about real abuses that manipulated American democracy, but it was also an FBI coup, wherein high-ranking FBI official Mark Felt leaked damning information that was the product of Hoover’s spying on the Nixon White House. With more complete information than we had back then, the “good old days” don’t look so good.

However, American democracy is under multiple systematic attacks and there does need to be a legislative response. The conditions for such a response can only be met by the expulsion of compromised senators and representatives, most of them Republicans, in what remains of the primary season and in the November elections. The defeat of all politicians who have played the game, or even most of them, will probably not be necessary — just enough to intimidate the others. Then there ought to be hearings to demonstrate why Americans need new voting rights legislation.

 

Bear in mind…

The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.
Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

Any doctrine that will not bear investigation is not a fit tenant for the mind of an honest man.
Robert Ingersoll

 

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.
Josh Billings

 

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote

What Democrats are saying

0

What Democrats are saying

Hillary is tough. Hillary is courageous. She will fight to make our families safer. In the White House, she will stand up to the gun lobby.
Former Representative Gabby Gifords

 

I’m from a small town in South Texas and if you know your history, Texas used to be part of Mexico. Now, I’m ninth generation American. My family never crossed a border, the border crossed us.
actress Eva Longoria

 

Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.
former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

 

The youth has been on the right side of history on every issue.
actress Rosario Dawson

 

Bernie really had a movement out there, and it wasn’t right to treat him that way.
Senator Harry Reid

 

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote

The Panama News blog links, July 28, 2016

0

The Panama News blog links

BBC, Ship hits wall of Panama Canal renewing design concerns

Reuters, Ship hits wall of expanded Panama Canal in 3rd incident in a month

Bloomberg, US shale gas heads to East Asia for the first time

The National Interest, China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative

US Soccer, Panama to host CONCACAF under-17 championship

NORCECA, Nicas lead U-23 Central American volleyball meet in Panama

ANP, Presupuesto de Panamá para 2017 será de $21.670 millones

La Estrella, Caen principales indicadores del sector de la construcción

GTR, Trade dispute with Colombia threaten’s Panama’s Pacific Alliance hopes

ANP, Panamá insiste en el fallo de la OMC

Splash24/7, Court reinstates ban on Odebrecht bids for Petrobras contracts

Ugarteche & Luna, TPP: from multilateralism to neoregionalism

Sundaram, US government report exposes exaggerated TPP growth claims

Video, Argentina’s economic shakeup

Reporters Without Borders, When oligarchs go media shopping

Phys.org, Butterflies use differences in leaf shape to distinguish plants

The New York Times: Meet Luca, the ancestor of all living things

Smithsonian Insider, New scorpionfish discovered in the Caribbean

Mongabay, Rio Olympic organizers fail to meet all environmental goals

WHO, Mobile labs deliver quicker yellow fever test results

CNS, Cayman Islands judge upholds release of GE mosquitoes

Lesser & Kitron, The social geography of Zika

TVN: Natalia Kanem, panameña con más alto rango en la ONU

The Daily Dot, Panama is fighting to save teen lives through sex ed

The Daily Beast, Death on the Serpent River (part 1)

CBS, Wisconsin teen found dead on beach in Panama

Newsroom Panama, Panama gets air ambulance to settle Finmeccanica dispute

BBC, Panama launches investigation into 1989 US invasion

E&N, Colombia alista deportación de cubanos varados en frontera con Panamá

CNS, Cayman Islands shut down company of fugitive who was in Panama

Video, El manejo irresponsable en Panamá

The Intercept, Surveillance Court reined in FBI on use of data from phone calls

Greenwald & Dau, Folha’s journalistic fraud: a smoking gun emerges

CNN, Tiny wall built around Trump’s Hollywood Star

MSNBC, Sanders team responds to leaked DNC emails

Wagner & Austin, The death of World Heritage Sites

Mota & Mariani, Institutionalized sexism in Brazil

Lévy, Trump the traitor

Faljo, ¿Y si gana Trump?

Sierra, El otro (gran) peligro de Trump

Cuba en Miami, Carta de un exiliado cubano sobre Trump

Blades, La Convención Republicana y el discurso del candidato Trump

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote

Spanish PayPal button

para votar

What Republicans are saying

0

What Republicans are saying

 

paranoia is conservative

 

Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.

Fox television show host Bill O’Reilly
about the slaves who built the White House

 

Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead.
NRA board member Charles Cotton
blaming The Reverend and State Senator Clementa Pinckney
and the AME Church’s beliefs about guns in their sanctuaries
for the murders of Pinckney and eight others by a racist

 

You know, you’re not allowed to use hairspray anymore because if affects the ozone. You know that, right?… You know hairspray’s not like it used to be, it used to be real good.
Donald Trump

 

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote

A monument that would have us forget

0
Fufo 1|
Dr. Arnulfo Arias, three-time president of Panama who was thrice overthrown by military coups, and once or twice denied the presidency by electoral fraud. The symbolism of him being larger, calmer and above everyone else is, sadly, more than just a sculptor’s impression.

Lest we forget — as the monument would have us do

photos and captions by Eric Jackson
Fufo 2
Located in Balboa on the site where the feared DENI secret police had headquarters that were destroyed in the 1989 invasion, the Arnulfo Arias monument was erected during the administration of his widow, Mireya Moscoso. That courtship began when Arias was 53 and Moscoso was 15, and when she was elected president in 1999 there were people who thought that they would be getting the talented if controversial Dr. Arias, or someone like him. The nation was disappointed.
Fufo 3
Racism glossed over. Arias traced his political roots to the 1920s Accion Comunal movement, whose members used to dress up in KKK robes and advocated the expulsion of all Panamanians of Afro-Antillean, Asian or Middle Eastern ancestry. On his way to the presidency he served as public health director and in that role advocated the mass sterilization of these populations. Later he was an ambassador to Mussolini’s Italy, struck up a friendship with Adolf Hitler, and soon after becoming president promulgated the 1941 constitution that stripped all Panamanians of non-Hispanic West Indian, Asian, Arabic and Sephardic Jewish ancestry of their citizenship, no matter if they, their parents and their grandparents were born here. The plaque calls it a defense of the Spanish language and the promotion of “our culture and traditions.” In October of 1941, with US aid to the British coming from West Coast ports through the canal and German U-boats waiting just outside the Colon breakwall, Franklin D. Roosevelt instigated a coup that deposed Arias because at that point the United States was not ready to tolerate one of Hitler’s friends running Panama.
Fufo 4
The demagogue is so charming, so witty, so funny when he’s crude. And after memories of hard truths fade come the heroic monuments. So it is in Panama, so it is with sites that extol the virtues of the Confederate rebellion against the United States. Do you wonder why African-Americans tend to be annoyed by those? And does it strike you as a sad infringement of freedom of expression that many countries that suffered under Nazi tyranny make it a crime to deny that the Holocaust ever happened? The battle over history is a battle over the present and future, here and everywhere.

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote

MOVADUP, Terroristas

0
Paris
Cuenta vieja, otra vez.

Terroristas declarados, terroristas disfrazados

por el Movimiento de Adecentamiento de la Universidad de Panamá (MOVADUP)

En cualquiera de sus modalidades, el terrorismo implica la muerte o avasallamiento de inocentes que nada tienen que ver con los motivos de los conflictos que dan origen a este crimen. Pero el análisis no se limita a la clasificación de los “actos terroristas” según una visión convencional que distingue, por ejemplo, el asesinato, el atentado, el secuestro o el asalto. También se refiere a enfoques retorcidos que aparentemente se repelen con respecto a los que son a su vez construidos por los rivales, pero que confluyen en brutal complicidad.

En el mundo occidental, se entiende mucho de las bajas acciones que perpetran los llamados “grupos terroristas”. A ellos corresponde la clasificación convencional de los crímenes que realizan. Suelen reivindicarlos con sus nombres, sustentarlos en posiciones calculadamente fanatizadas de tipo ideológico o religioso y perpetrarlos a través de personas dispuestas a inmolarse. Es un terrorismo de la impotencia y la desesperación que es propagandeado como justicia y martirio por quienes lo llevan a efecto. Valores retorcidos, humanidad perdida…

En cambio, para la opinión pública de las naciones donde suelen estar afincados estos grupos, quienes practican el terrorismo son las potencias occidentales. Estas no solo perpetran las actuaciones de la clasificación clásica, sino que, al contar con ingentes recursos militares, económicos y políticos, van desde el chantaje y asedio económico contra países y pueblos que no comulgan con ellas a la amenaza de guerra y a acciones militares directas. Estas últimas son las más detestables, pues las bombas que lanzan desde barcos o aviones no distinguen entre quien sea “terrorista” y quien no lo sea. A los perjuicios así ocasionados los llaman “daños colaterales” y son maestros del eufemismo para dar nombres digeribles a las mismas acciones perversas: la tortura es “interrogatorio”; los asesinados, “bajas”; al chantaje económico le llaman “sanciones” y al secuestro, “captura”.

Terrorismo hay tanto de grupos irregulares como de gobiernos e incluso, si se practica continuamente por varios de estos en una misma jurisdicción nacional, sin que sus leyes y pueblos logren impedirlo, “de Estado”. Este es el caso de Israel, Francia, Gran Bretaña, Rusia y Estados Unidos y en ello no se diferencian esencialmente de Boko Haram, Al Qaeda o el ISIS. Esta coincidencia no es casual. A ambos enfoques retorcidos les conviene la zozobra internacional en donde la competencia geo-estratégica y económica de las potencias y sus Estados espoliques promueve a los grupos terroristas como instrumentos de su ambición financiados generosamente por ellos, o en elementos cuyos deleznables atentados sirven para infundir el miedo en los países occidentales que justifique acciones como derrocamientos e invasiones por petróleo (Libia, Irak), burdas venganzas con mal disimulada intención imperialista, (bombardeos franceses en Siria) o para tomar a países en conflicto como escaparates de sus armas sofisticadas (como han hecho EU y Rusia).

Se trata de una simbiosis brutal e inhumana. Ante el público proclaman hipócritamente repelerse, pero se necesitan mutuamente. Coinciden en un hecho importante: la manipulación de las mentes deseducadas, propensas a fanatizarse o a convencerse de que son enemigos los que en realidad resultan ser los mejores aliados. Duro es el trabajo para ello, pero la rebelión contra esta inhumanidad debe provenir de los pueblos del mundo entero. Estos no deben dejarse envolver, asustar ni manipular más ni por el fanatismo ni por la propaganda. El sentido crítico de una educación para la libertad debe ser el más formidable instrumento contra quienes manipulan las conciencias de los pueblos. ¡No al terrorismo! ¡Ya no más fanáticos estultos ni Estados rapaces! ¡Recordemos a las víctimas y luchemos por la paz!

~ ~ ~
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web

 

Spanish PayPal button

Tweet

FB esp

para votar

June 26, opening day for the new PanCanal locks

0
PanCanal
June 26, opening day for the new locks. A month later, the Panama Canal Authority said that this is “normal.” For a larger version of this photo click here.
~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote

Melitón Arrocha proposes Internet censorship

0
Arrocha
A would-be new press gag law, but actually in concept a very old proposal to shield corruption.

Online censorship proposed — again

by Eric Jackson
                        
                         We must do something about the Internet.

It’s back. This time, the rabiblancos, politicians and crooks want the “right to be forgotten.” As in Proposed Law 11, which would be a new press gag law. Any natural or juridical person, public officials and political parties not excepted, could complain. There would be no right to a day in court, only a summary finding based on a complaint to the National Public Services Authority (ASEP). No need to claim that the item sought to be erased is false — “imprecise” or “not updated” would suffice, and no proofs would be required. The authority could summarily fine a small website $10,000, that is, shut it down in most cases.

Does The Panama News publish an analysis or opinion piece that states that the Panameñista Party’s founder was a friend of Adolf Hitler’s who stripped Panamanians of Asian, non-Hispanic West Indian and Middle Eastern ancestry of their citizenship? It’s absolutely true but the president’s political party could say that because such an utterance did not contain the party line denying all of that, a website that publishes such a thing could be forced out of business. Does The Panama News publish an article that notes that the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) was founded by a dictatorship that killed or disappeared dozens of its opponents? That’s also true, but the party could shut down this website over it. Does the La Prensa investigative team uncover a bribery and kickback scheme? An anonymously owned company that was absolutely involved in such a thing could move to get the story summarily erased from the Internet.

The law proposes extraterritorial effect, which would be enforced by blocking access from Panama to certain search engines, databases or websites. Like, for example, that bastion of online history and bane of fraud artists, The Wayback Machine Internet Archive .

Introduced nearly four years to the day after Ricardo Martinelli went before an international audience and pleaded for global legislation to erase the criminal record that he was then compiling from the Internet, Panameñista legislator Melitón Arrocha is up to the same thing. The legislators might pass it, but probably won’t. The president might sign it, but his wife is a journalist by trade and he probably won’t. If it is passed and signed, it might be upheld by Panamanian courts — in the past those sorts of questions have sometimes been decided on the basis of bribery, partisan passions or political influence rather than on law — but by treaty any decision would be subject to an appeal to the Inter-American Human Rights Court, which would be unlikely to uphold such a law.

One never knows what the politicians and courts might do here, though, and press organizations are not taking any chances. A joint communique by two corporate press organizations, the Forum de Periodistas and the Consejo Nacional de Periodismo, hits three main points. First, they note the proposal’s vague provision that allow a wide range of censorship without any judicial recourse. Next, point out the law’s purported extraterritorial reach which, among other things, would purport to erase certain infamous facts about Panama from the global record. Finally, they cite the internationally recognized right of a people to their history, their collective memory.

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote

The Central American Percussion Festival, August 19-20

0

 The Danilo Pérez Foundation and friends present…

The 2016 Central American Percussion Festival
August 19 – 20 in Panama City’s Casco Viejo

 

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote

Spanish PayPal button

para votar

Sanders, Next steps for Our Revolution

0

Next steps for Our Revolution

by Bernie Sanders

Our campaign has always been about a grassroots movement of Americans standing up and saying: “Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”

I just finished speaking at the Democratic National Convention, where I addressed the historic nature of our grassroots movement and what’s next for our political revolution.

I hope that I made you proud. I know that Jane and I are very proud of you.

Our work will continue in the form of a new group called Our Revolution. The goal of this organization will be no different from the goal of our campaign: we must transform American politics to make our political and economic systems once again responsive to the needs of working families.

We cannot do this alone. All of us must be a part of Our Revolution.

Join Our Revolution and help continue our critical work to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent — a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice. Add your name here.

When we started this campaign a little more than a year ago, the media and the political establishment considered us to be a “fringe” campaign. Well, we’re not fringe anymore.

Thanks to your tireless work and generous contributions, we won 23 primaries and caucuses with more than 13 million votes, all of which led to the 1900 delegates we have on the floor this week at the Democratic convention.

What we have done together is absolutely unprecedented, but there is so much more to do. It starts with defeating Donald Trump in November, and then continuing to fight for every single one of our issues in order to transform America.

We are going to fight to make sure that the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party becomes law. This means working for a $15 federal minimum wage, fighting for a national fracking ban, and so many more progressive priorities.

The political revolution needs you in order to make all this happen and more.

Add your name to say that you will join Our Revolution and be part of the fight for our progressive vision for America.

Thank you for being a part of the continued political revolution.

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Overseas Vote