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GUPC: both sets of locks poorly designed, pins and glue fix suggested

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What nobody at the ACP or in Panama's rabiblanco media want to mention is that Alemán Zubieta's family owns one of the companies in the GUPC consortium that was awarded the locks design and construction contract on a flagrantly lowball bid. Graphic by the ACP.
What neither the ACP nor Panama’s rabiblanco media want to mention is that Alberto Alemán Zubieta’s family owns one of the companies in the GUPC consortium that was awarded the locks design and construction contract by way of a lowball bid. Alemán Zubieta was CEO of that company, Constructora Urbana SA (CUSA), just before he became canal administator. Graphic by the ACP.

La Prensa reports that the GUPC consortium submitted an interim report on the leaking locks on September 25

GUPC says both sets of locks are badly designed, suggests cement and more rebar

by Eric Jackson
Bechtel reps state a consortium cannot even “pour the concrete” for $3.1 billion and hinted even their $4.2 billion price was closer to a lowball bid than a value bid. It is widely expected that during construction, Sacyr will attempt to renegotiate the price with the ACP.
Former US Ambassador Barbara J. Stephenson
July 9, 2009 cable to Washington (via WikiLeaks)

 

They come in with drills to bore holes of a diameter where they can put the steel and a sealant. They’re going to put in vertical bars. In the first design, for reinforcement of one of the Atlantic jambs, they will put in some 60 bars in an area identified as where they should be placed. In addition, diagonal bars will be placed on the same side of the jamb.
ACP Executive Vice President of Engineering and Project Administration
Ilya Espino de Marotta, quoted in La Prensa, September 30, 2015

 

The Panama Canal Authority administration, board of directors and advisory board are notorious men’s clubs, with a few exceptions. So, what to do when on a Friday some bad news and dubious suggested remedies come in from the troubled GUPC consortium? Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano didn’t have anything to say about it — the following Monday he was busy receiving an award from the Real Estate Brokers Association (ACOBIR) for excellence in running a public infrastructure project. Minister of Canal Affairs Roberto Roy also held his tongue — the following Tuesday he took off for Washington to speak to the American Chamber of Commerce. They left it to the sole female near the top of the canal administration, Ilya Espino de Marotta, to break the news softly through the most sympathetic to the ACP of all Panamanian media (because of lots of business, family and political ties between their respective managements), La Prensa.

The news does look bad, and it may be a lot worse than GUPC and the ACP let on. GUPC calls it a design problem with both sets of locks, a problem with not enough rebar. Widely published photos of core samples suggest defective, improperly poured concrete. So will a retrofit with some 18-guage rebar and some sealant make for a construction job that will last the specified 100 years? Or will it not? And if it won’t, will the current ACP management just accept it anyway in order to avoid being too far behind deadline, and leave it for a future set of execs when things start to crumble? Or if it won’t, will the ACP insist that the defective work be torn out and redone? The canal expansion was originally scheduled to be done in August of 2014, and after several delays the open for traffic date has been moved back to April of 2016, but if parts or all of both new sets of locks have to be torn out and redone it will mean another major delay and probably bankrupt one or more of the companies in the GUPC consortium.

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What Obama said at the UN – Lo que dijo Obama en la ONU

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Obama
Barack Obama speaks to the 70th United Nations General Assembly. UN photo.

Obama at the UN ~ Obama en la ONU

videos in English and Spanish ~ videos en inglés y español

Obama in English

Obama en español

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What Latin American leaders are saying at the UN (1)

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President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia talks about his country's peace process. UN photo.
President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia talks about his country’s peace process. UN photo.

What Latin American leaders are saying (1)

videos with English translation from the first two days of the UN General Assembly

Argentina

Brazil


 

Chile


 

Cuba


 

Bolivia


 

Colombia


 

Uruguay


 

Venezuela

 

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Soldier’s US trial for Los Santos slaying delayed as DR rejects such procedures

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Family of 25-year-old law student Vanesa Rodríguez demand justice for her slaying. Photo by Eric Jackson.
Family of 25-year-old law student Vanesa Rodríguez demand justice for her slaying. Photo by Eric Jackson.

As a Fort Bragg court-martial is delayed until next year, the Dominican Republic strikes down their country’s similar Status of Forces Agreement that shields “War on Drugs” soldiers from the jurisdiction of Dominican courts

“Drug Warrior” trial put off

by Eric Jackson

The US military prosecutors’ theory is that Master Sergeant Omar Velez murdered Vanesa Rodríguez but it wasn’t premeditated. Velez’s defense lawyers are arguing that the woman’s death at a Panamanian National Police training site in Los Santos was an accident. If Panamanian prosecutors have a theory about what happened, they aren’t saying: the official position is that this crime is none of their business.

The arguments about what happened and what to call it will happen sometime next year in North Carolina. On September 28 in a military courtroom on Fort Bragg a series of pretrial motions made by the defense were heard. One of the defense requests was to delay the trial until next March and as the prosecutors did not object the military judge, Colonel Christopher T. Fredrikson, granted that postponement.

The motions that ought to be the most politically controversial, but probably won’t be, were attempts to suppress evidence taken in a search of Velez’s Panama apartment and from the taking and testing of blood and urine samples from the soldier. It’s about wheher this “War on Drugs” operative, assigned to the US Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization and sent to Panama to train police officers to be soldiers who carry out US anti-drug policies, was himself under the dangerous influence of steroids at the time. Steroids are and have been a major problem in the US Armed Forces and information about the extent of it is often suppressed by the military itself or by the politicians who give them their orders because it’s embarrissing and could have some far-reaching legal consequences. At Velez’s initial booking steroids did not enter into the story, by a US Army magistrate issued warrant to search Master Sergeant Velez’s quarters in Panama, and because steroids were found, issued a warrant for the drug testing. (At about the same time The Panama News raised the steroids issue, because photos of the soldier suggested that and because friends of the slain woman told this reporter that Velez used steroids.) Velez is charged with second degree murder, aggravated assault, adultery, obstruction of justice, possession of steroids and use of steroids. He could get life in prison. The judge did not rule on the defense motions to suppress the steroids evidence. If he rules in favor of the defense on those points it would remove the steroids charges from the case.

Were the case to have been tried here, there probably would not have an instant decision like that of the US authorities to declare the crime unpremeditated. Certainly a “roid rage” theory of the crime would suggest a murder arising from a sudden emotional outburst. However, Velez was in Los Santos training National Police lince units — the cops on the motorcycles with automatic weapons — and called Rodríguez to come from Panama City, where she lived and studied law at the University of Panama, to visit him in Los Santos. He killed her there, near a National Police training facility on the Guarare River. He was in the process of burying the body when he was detected and arrested by some of the police officers he had been training. That Velez called Rodríguez to the place where he killed her might suggest premeditation.

However, Velez was quickly surrendered to the US Embassy by Panamanian authorities pursuant to a secret Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) made between the Martín Torrijos and George W. Bush administration. This agreement, which is not a treaty that was presented to either the US Senate or the Panamanian National Assembly for ratification, provides that US military personnel sent to Panama on training missions get diplomatic immunity.

On the same day that Velez was in court, in the Dominican Republic that country’s Constitutional Tribunal struck down a SOFA that gave diplomatic immunity not only to US “War on Drugs” military personnel but also to civilian mercenaries such as people from DyncCorp or Blackwater/Xe. That SOFA also gives diplomatic cover for American military and civilian personnel who come to the DR on disaster relief missions.

The Dominican court’s decision was unanimous. All 12 judges agreed that the SOFA is “a violation of national sovereignty and, consequently, the Dominican state.” So far neither the US nor the Dominican administrations have commented on the decision. SOFAs are well nigh ubiquitous wherever American soldiers go. However, they are increasingly controversial in the world, particularly because the US justice system has usually neither sought nor done justice for cases of torture or other serious violations of international law. Although a limited number have since returned for special operations against the Islamic State, US troops were withdrawn from Iraq when the government of that country refused to sign a SOFA providing immunity to US troops.

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The 39 Steps, coming up at the Ancon Theater

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39 Steps-Poster-FinalIt’s NOT a hyped-up variant of a 12-step program for Theatre Guild of Ancon members to stop smoking…

The 39 Steps

The play The 39 Steps is an adaptation of the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie. The play is about a man living a boring life when he meets a mysterious woman who claims to be a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered and he, falsely accused of her death, runs from the law. This initiates an adventure that will take him all across Great Britain to find the true murderers and uncover the secret behind the mysterious 39 steps.

This adaptation requires that all the adventure from the movie be reenacted by a four-person cast interpreting multiple roles. One actor plays the hero, one actress plays the three women with whom he finds himself romantically involved, and two additional actors play all the other role in the play: heroes, villains, men, women, children, and occasionally, inanimate objects. It is a spy comedy that reflects multidimensional talent from its actors, accompanied by an exciting light design. This play will be presented on the 8-10, 15-17 and 22-24 of October at 8:00 p.m. under the direction of Giancarlo Benedetti and Rob Getman.

Author: John Buchan, adapted for screen by Alfred Hitchcock, adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow
Directors and Producers: Giancarlo Benedetti & Rob Getman
Assistant Producers: Stephanie Lezcano & Maria Isabel Vega

Starring:
Jirac Caro
Ana Victoria Esquivel
Ingrid MacCartney
Jose Manuel Lopez

Reserve tickets here: http://anconguild.com/reservations

About The Theatre Guild of Ancon

The Theatre Guild of Ancon is a national treasure in Panama since it is the oldest theatre in continuous operation. It was founded in 1950 by a group of Panamanian and American citizens who were interested in developing English language theatre in Panama. Our productions run the gamut of the theatrical spectrum — from modern dramas to comedies and family entertainment to musicals. Our stage has been the first step for performers such as Robert Loggia and Rubén Blades, successful directors such as Bruce Quinn and John Aniston (Jennifer’s father), and other professionals like Rick Belzer, currently a lighting designer on Broadway, and George Scribner, currently a Walt Disney imagineer. Today, the Theatre Guild is a nonprofit community theatre dedicated to developing the performing arts in Panama.

 

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An unusual birthday…

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"Greetings citizen non grata "10."
“Greetings citizen non grata #10.”

Rumors that the Rector Magnifico tried to send in a provocateur disguised as the Bluebird of Happiness but couldn’t get one to cooperate are most probably exaggerated

Strange birthday

On September 28, 2005 rector Gustavo García de Paredes prevailed upon the University of Panama faculty council do declare Dr. Miguel Antonio Bernal, a constitutional law professor at the law school, who got his doctorate at the University of Bordeaux, “non grata” for among other denigrating things, calling the self-proclaimed “Rector Magnifico” García de Paredes, who bought a supposed doctoral diploma from a Franco-era diploma mill in Spain, “señor” instead of “doctor.” University attempts to fire Bernal and expel him from the campus have met with resistance from his students, public indignation and mixed results in the court. Most recently the high court ruled that it would be disproportionate for the university to fire Bernal for the sort of disrespect that characterized his expressions about the rector.

To mark the tenth anniversary of his being declared non grata, Bernal’s students gave him a birthday cake.

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The Panama News blog links, September 28, 2015

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The Panama News blog links, September 28, 2015

BBC, Panama murder rate drops

Fayetteville Observer, Soldier accused in Panama killing in court

The Barrel, LNG industry doesn’t much care about canal expansion woes

Reuters, ACP sells bonds in a tough market

Port Technology, Delays rock Nicaragua Canal build

AFP, HKND: Canal de Nicaragua pasará por lago Cocibolca

PR, Copa begins daily Panama City-San Francisco flights

Xinhua, Panama to host cycling tour in October

Sounders FC, Torres knee surgery goes well

Caribbean News Now!, Trinidad court postpones Warner extradition decision

Baker, The corporate crime epidemic

Harten, Porterfield & Gallagher, Investment provisions in trade treaties

NASA, Evidence that liquid water flows on today’s Mars

Video, Limpieza de la playa en Palenque

STRI, Panama designates two new marine protected areas

Solar Thermal Magazine: A tidal energy fence for Bristol, UK

news.com.au, An adventure tourism spin on Coiba

Video, Whale watching in Panama

McLaughlin, The big secret that makes the FBI’s anti-encryption campaign a big lie

Soros, Rebuilding the asylum system

Corbyn, The kind of society we want

Daily Kos, The white supremacy chic in today’s GOP

Abdul-Jabbar, Ignorance vs. reason in the War on Education

Reich, The tide is beginning to turn

La Razón, Jimmy Carter exhorta a Chile a dialogar ‘de buena fe’ con Bolivia

La Prensa (Nicaragua), Ortega escondió invasión de tierras a Miskitos

Reuters, Venezuela and Guyana restore ambassadors to calm border dispute

Verdad Abierta, Urabá: escéptica ante los anuncios desde La Habana

Carlsen: Government lies, human bonfires and the search for truth about Ayotzinapa

EFE, Izquierda latinoamericana discutirá en Quito sobre democracias en revolución

Feffer, Whatever happened to Brazil?

TheStreet, Deutsche Bank fears Petrobras will poison US junk bond market

The Gleaner, Jamaican impact noted in Panama Canal Museum

Video, Lord Kitty — Rum

Barbados Today, Migration to Panama ‘captured’ on camera

Beluche, Retienen ilegalmente a 10 estudiantes de secundaria

Video, Panameños piden acelerar investigaciones contra Martinelli

The Mejorana Festival in Guarare

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Festival de la Mejorana

videos by Allan Hawkins V.

 

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En octubre realizarán Festival ICARO Panamá

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ICAROEn octubre realizarán Festival ICARO Panamá

por Roberto Enrique King

El GECU de la Universidad de Panamá y la Fundación pro Artes Escénicas y Audiovisuales (FAE) anuncian que el FESTIVAL DE CINE ICARO PANAMÁ 2015 se realizará en octubre en las dos ciudades que ya son sus anfitrionas habituales, Panamá, del 21 al 28, y David del 26 al 30, en asocio con Casa Comal de Guatemala y Mente Pública, bajo los auspicios de la Dirección General de Cine del MICI y con la colaboración de la Embajada de Guatemala, el Centro Cultural de España, la Alianza Francesa y el Teatro Amador.

Buscando ampliar sus públicos, en esta edición el evento contará en la capital con varias locales de exhibición, siendo ellos el Teatro Amador para la apertura, el Centro Cultural de España y la Alianza Francesa, espacios culturales que se unen como aliados a partir de este año, y el Estudio Multiuso del GECU que es desde sus inicios su sede oficial. Mientras que en la provincia chiricana las proyecciones se realizarán en la Universidad OTEIMA.

La programación del Icaro Panamá incluirá una selección de las películas centroamericanas premiadas en el anterior Festival Internacional de Cine Icaro en Centroamérica, de Guatemala; una selección de películas de otras partes del mundo también galardonadas en dicho certamen y la presentación en exclusiva de las películas panameñas seleccionadas por un jurado local para representar al país en dicha competencia este año en noviembre próximo.

Como actividad complementaria y por segundo año se desarrollará el segmento de Formación y Nuevas Ideas, a cargo de Mente Pública, compuesto por conversatorios y charlas didácticas dirigidas especialmente a jóvenes interesados en hacer cine, además de un nuevo componente, la convocatoria a Uno a Uno – Pitch de proyectos de cortos, que seleccionará un ganador que se hará acreedor a incentivos para la realización de su trabajo.

 

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Thurston, Pope Francis and freedom of religion

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sick callThe pope and religious freedom

by Edward Thurston — The Global Observer

After days of having a monopoly over the USA and global news media, the pope and Catholic Church have once again passed on their guilt tripping, historically warped global manifesto to the masses. What a coup for fundamentalist religions overall, many of which seem to be supportive of this engorged media circus even if it was sourced Catholic.

While I agree with many positions taken by this newly popular Pope Francis and his efforts to humanize his authoritative position to the masses, I am threatened by the reasons or underlying purposes for which these positions are taken. I also am not taken in by efforts to make moderate the historic views of this religion. Many of today’s religions are trying to re-invent themselves to keep their membership happy (and contributing) versus stay true to the fundamentals of their world order and views.

The US Constitution’s First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Modern-day America was built on a strange combination of attributes pertaining to religion. Some of the first immigrants came here escaping the state religion of the crown — both British and Spanish (Protestant AND Catholic). Some groups — many called Pilgrims — came to found their own new fundamentalist religions based on new revelations that were not going over so well in the New World Order of Europe’s Enlightenment. And of course many of the early settlers were poor criminal elements back in Europe and elsewhere who were escaping prison sentences in a new “Free World.”

It should be strongly underlined that these first immigrants to America had little or no respect for the American Indians who inhabited most of the continent. Historical writ is rife with the attitude of early religionists that arrived to the New World toting their Bibles, crosses and guns. If you can’t convert and clothe the savages or keep them from using peyote, put them on reservations or kill them if they won’t submit to our way of life and faith.

When I grew up in the American public school system, we didn’t learn about the Trail of Tears. We didn’t hear about Manifest Destiny until high school (and most kids today have no clue what that means), and even then we were not encouraged to explore the philosophical, legal or rational ramifications of this in American history. It’s as though the killing or subjugation of heathens was God’s will. This is nothing new in the few thousand years of today’s fundamentalist religions and it didn’t start in America.

Now we have a new era of immigrants coming to America. Most of these hordes are NOT white, NOT rich, or NOT Christian. Yet we have an ironic combination of American liberals and the Catholic pope telling us that the USA should be more inclusive of these diverse masses within our borders and our dwindling social resources. Somehow the Statute of Liberty has become the symbol of freedom for every religious zealot from anywhere in the world to come and practice/promote their particular religion in freedom. At the same time, most of these religions enslave the minds of men, women and children (mostly the children) with irrational, patriarchal, mystical philosophies of life based on thousand year old books of questionable origin…and now we have liberals and fundamentalists alike calling for more inclusion of these dividing factions. How absurd.

Unfortunately, the US Constitution has now been bastardized so much by interpretation where its application to a country with the size and diversity of the USA is almost impossible. You have more and more religious divisions taking exception to personal freedoms. You have government and church leaders hand in hand trying to legislate every bit of morality you can imagine. They want to control every aspect of your life. They want to define legal marriage while excluding gays. They want to tell us which organic weeds we can or can’t grow on our back porch. They want to legislate to women what they can/can’t do with their bodies or unborn babies. They want to limit sex to “marriage and procreation” and outlaw the use of contraceptives and abortion, even in the case of rape or endangerment to the mother’s life. They also want their rules and regulations written on every public wall or entrance possible acknowledging their religious origins in this country.

I don’t think I am alone in thinking that this new push for “religious freedom” is blinding the average mind to what this really means. The pope and other religious leaders CLAIM that faith will bind us all together. History has shown the direct opposite. Even in our own families in America, fundamental religion of all types have divided and caused non-acceptance of individualism for centuries now. I am comforted that the fastest growing faith in America is secularism. Secularism in its shortest definition is that one believes in science, reason and the power of humans to advance humanity to a higher consciousness. We do not require holy books, holy men or wasting billions on religious tapestries such as huge cathedrals, golden ornaments, or a Vatican bank that has for decades washed billions of dollars for questionable transactions and sources to give us meaning in life. These religious coffers have come at the cost of the taxpayers in many countries including the USA. Why these religious “kingdom builders” such as we see on TV every day asking for handouts should get tax exempt status is a travesty of the highest order. This is not separation of church and state. This is church and state working together to control our country at many different levels via religion. I, for one, do not want to participate in that or be forced to.

Separation of Church and State should simply be that. There should be no financial support of any government fund to any church institution. The State should tax everyone equally — believers and non-believers alike. And non-taxed money going to political causes? GOODBYE. If churches or religious people want to give to charity and get a write off on taxes, it should be social charities for all, not private religious foundations or political organizations based on promoting mystic leaders or writs, or for political gain.

If religious orders of any kind want to practice some archaic, patriarchal belief systems based on mystic symbols or ancient figureheads who supposedly never died, they should do so in the privacy of their own homes or property. I would limit free speech to that of political or social discourse, not proselytizing pronouncements of hell-fire and damnation in the public square. I would never agree to permit what we see all over Europe of the growing Muslim populations publicly demanding their Sharia law and communities. I should have the freedom to NOT hear these detractors of common sense. Let their good WORKS speak for their beliefs, not tirades among normal citizens.

Oh, and if a child or mother/wife wants to escape a fundamentalist, intolerant male leader in their home or church, they should be allowed and protected by our social order to do so. That should be part of “separation of church and state.” Right now there are millions of “captives” in the USA of various religious orders who do not have the right to live or think freely. Children also should have the right to not participate in fundamental religions, just as we protect them from all other forms of abuse. Mental abuse of children is a huge issue in our society with so many abhorrent sects and cults demanding freedom to exist under special privileges. Keep in mind those who still grow up in systems of child brides and polygamy.

Anyone who wants to be a citizen in a truly free society should not be allowed to duck service to that society. Anyone that cannot agree to our Constitution or Bill of Rights in this country should NOT be allowed citizenship or voting rights. If you will not lift a hand to defend this country and its freedoms, GOODBYE. The immediate inclusion in our country based on birthright or passing a test should not be enough. If you cannot agree to our Constitution and Bill of Rights, you cannot live indefinitely among us. If your religion is more important than these freedoms and rights we are supposed to have in America, then please go elsewhere that respects or agrees with your voodoo religion.

And finally, if you want to come lecture my nation’s leaders and put on a media dog and pony show espousing fundamentalist religious views, you should stand in line or pay for access just like anyone else. We also risk having to allow equal access and time to ALL fundamentalist leaders from the Mohammed clan to the Jewish one. I for one am not interested, and I am appalled by the cost of this pope’s visit which funds COULD have been spent on better things than motorcades, plane fares for thousands, media manipulations and heavy security that was required for this pomp and circumstance. I imagine I am in the minority, but I am sickened by this hypocritical hoopla. This parade could have helped hundreds of thousands of the displaced they were all TALKING about helping!

I am not here saying that our current leaders and systems are working satisfactorily. Obviously they are not. But our future hope does not require MORE tolerance for religion and mysticism. Our hope relies much more on rules and equality under secular laws, technology and scientific advancements that will make life easier and cheaper to live, clean up our environment, and yes, distribute food and sustenance to the poor who have no current ability to move out of the jungles, deserts and flooding river basins they are stuck in under rule of nefarious tyrants of political order. We help the poor because it is the natural, reasonable and HUMANE thing to do, not because a god or the pope demands us to.

 

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