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STRATFOR, France contemplates a reckoning

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After Paris, France contemplates a reckoning

by STRATFOR

Summary

Details are still emerging as to precisely who was responsible for the November 13 Paris attacks. Sorting through the jumble of misinformation and disinformation will be challenging for French authorities, and for outside observers such as Stratfor.

While the Islamic State has claimed credit for the attack, it is still uncertain to what degree the Islamic State core organization was responsible for planning, funding or directing it. It is not clear whether the attackers were grassroots operatives encouraged by the organization like Paris Kosher Deli gunman Ahmed Coulibaly, if the operatives were professional terrorist cadres dispatched by the core group or if the attack was some combination of the two.

Analysis

French President Francois Hollande publicly placed responsibility for the November 13 attack on the Islamic State, declaring it an act of war. This French response to the Paris attacks is markedly different from that of the Spanish Government following the March 2004 Madrid train bombings. Instead of pulling back from the global coalition working against jihadism, it appears that the French will renew and perhaps expand their efforts to pursue revenge for the most recent assault. The precise nature of this response will be determined by who is ultimately found to be the author of the November 13 attack.

To date, there has been something akin to a division of labor in the anti-jihadist effort, with the French heavily focused on the Sahel region of Africa. The French have also supported coalition efforts in Iraq and Syria, stationing six Dassault Rafale jets in the United Arab Emirates and six Mirage jets in Jordan. On November 4, Paris announced it was sending the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to enhance ongoing airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. To date, French aircraft have flown more than 1,285 missions against Islamic State targets in Iraq, and only two sorties in Syria.

France has numerous options for retaliation at its disposal, but its response will be conditioned by who was ultimately responsible. If it is found that the Islamic State core group was indeed behind the November 13 attack, France will likely ramp up its Syrian air operations. The skies over Syria, however, are already congested with coalition and Russian aircraft. With this in mind, the French may choose to retaliate by focusing instead on the Islamic State in Iraq, or perhaps even other Islamic State provinces in places such as Libya. Another option would be to increase French programs to train and support anti-Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, or even to conduct commando strikes against key leadership nodes. France also has the option of deploying an expeditionary force like it did in the Sahel, although that would probably require outside airlift capacity from NATO allies, especially the United States.

European ramifications

The Paris attacks occurred during a Europe-wide political crisis over migrant flows from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. A Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the Paris attackers, prompting a Greek official to say November 14 that the name on the document belonged to a person who passed though Greece in October. This news means that a number of politicians critical of the European Union’s response to the immigrant crisis will amplify their disapproval. In particular, advocates who want to end the Schengen agreement, which eliminated border controls in Europe, will use Paris to support their cause.

This has already begun. Poland became the first country to link the Paris attacks to the uptick in immigration. On November 14, Polish Minister for European Affairs-designate Konrad Szymanski said the Paris attacks make impossible the implementation of an EU plan to distribute asylum seekers across the Continental bloc. As expected, France’s National Front party also demanded the end of the Schengen agreement. In a televised speech, party leader Marine Le Pen said France has to “recapture control of its borders.”

In Germany, Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer said the Paris attack demonstrates that border controls are more necessary than ever. Seehofer has been very critical of the German government’s handling of the refugee crisis, demanding permanent border controls as well as faster repatriation of asylum seekers. The Paris attack will likely strengthen his position and further weaken the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, which was already facing internal dissent because of the migration crisis. In recent weeks Germany has seen an increase in anti-immigrant violence, including arson attacks against refugee shelters. The November 13 attacks may encourage more extremist groups across Europe to attack asylum seekers.

The anti-Schengen camp will feel vindicated by a parallel event that took place in southern Germany last week, when a Montenegrin citizen was arrested while allegedly driving to Paris with several weapons. While German police have not established a direct connection between this incident and the November 13 attacks, they have said that a link cannot be ruled out. The fact that this man was from Montenegro — a country in the Western Balkans — and made it to Germany in his car will strengthen the demands for stricter border controls along the so-called Balkan route of migration, which connects Greece to Northern Europe.

The Paris attacks will therefore improve the popularity of anti-immigration parties in many European countries, and continue to weaken popular support for the Schengen agreement. Several countries, including Germany, Sweden, Slovenia and Hungary had already re-established border controls because of the immigration crisis. Hungary and Slovenia have gone as far as building fences along their borders. After the November 13 attacks, most EU governments will find it hard to justify a policy of open borders.

 

After Paris, France Contemplates a Reckoning is republished with permission of Stratfor.

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December 11 court date for Ricardo Martinelli

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RMB
He can still send out Twitter rants from Miami, but the former president can’t even rent a decent-sized crowd of defenders in Panama anymore. Screen shot of his Twitter feed.

Jerónimo Mejía sets a December 11 court hearing for Ricardo Martinelli

by Eric Jackson

Most probably Ricardo Martinelli will not be in Panama on the morning of December 11, when magistrate Jerónimo Mejía has scheduled a hearing for formal charges of illegal electronic eavesdropping to be filed against Ricardo Martinelli. In an ordinary proceeding — which would not be before the Supreme Court as this case is — the prosecutor would read the charges, defense lawyers would assert their objections to the accusations, the accused would enter a plea and there would be a decision about bail, pretrial detention or travel restrictions and perhaps a trial date would be set. Here magistrate Harry Díaz, acting as prosecutor, will assert the charges, defense lawyers will object in the former president’s absence and if Mejía accepts the charges for further proceedings there will probably be an application to INTERPOL for a “red notice” that serves as an international request for the accused’s arrest and extradition.

If INTERPOL does issue a red notice, then the ball goes into Barack Obama’s court — he could ignore the extradition request, have Martinelli arrested or dawdle to give Panama’s former president time to flee to a third country that would have him. The Obama administration, with or without any formal charges from Panama, has always had the power to expel Ricardo Martinelli from the United States. It is not particularly clear whether President Juan Carlos Varela really wants Martinelli sent back here for trial, but his public position is that he won’t interfere in matters that are up to courts and prosecutors.

If Martinelli comes or is sent back here, it is unlikely that he would stand trial before January. Come January 1, unless the legislature rejects one or more nominees, one-third of the Supreme Court will be new and there will no longer be a majority of Martinelli appointees. The process of appointing new magistrates and suplentes for two high court members who were removed and of replacing a third whose term ends on December 31 is underway.

 

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Panamá se solidariza

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Varela
Condena el extremismo y hace llamado a la unidad contra el terrorismo. Foto por la Presidencia.

Panamá se solidariza

Presidente Varela se pronuncia sobre los atentados en Paris

Viernes, 13 de noviembre de 2015

El Presidente de la República, Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez se pronunció en la noche de este viernes sobre los atentados ocurridos en la ciudad de París que han cobrado la vida de más de 150 personas.

“En nombre del Gobierno de la República de Panamá deseo expresar nuestra solidaridad y condolencias al gobierno del Presidente François Holland, al pueblo francés y a los familiares de las víctimas fatales de los atentados terroristas ocurridos en el día de hoy. Condenamos enérgicamente estos actos cobardes de violencia indiscriminada e injustificada contra la nación francesa que hoy nos llenan de mucho luto y dolor”, expresó.

Varela Rodríguez llamó a la comunidad internacional, a los jefes de Estado del mundo civilizado a que cerrar filas, “a la unión de todos en la lucha contra el terrorismo y el extremismo, que amenazan nuestra humanidad y atentan contra la paz y la seguridad internacional”.

St. Malo
La Vice Presidenta y Ministra de Relaciones Exteriores Isabel De Saint Malo. Foto por MIREX.

Panamá se solidariza con el gobierno y pueblo francés

Viernes, 13 de Noviembre de 2015

El Gobierno de la República de Panamá extiende su solidaridad y profundas condolencias al gobierno y pueblo francés por los atentados que se están registrando su capital, París, en estos momentos.

Panamá rechaza enérgicamente todo acto de violencia y hace un llamado a países civilizados para que en unidad acabemos con la barbarie, e insta al más estricto cumplimiento de los principios y las normas del derecho internacional como el único fundamento de la paz y la seguridad.

Nuestros pensamientos y oraciones están con el pueblo de Francia, especialmente con los familiares de las víctimas de estos lamentables y sorprendentes hechos.

El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores ha activado el Centro de Coordinación de Información (CECODI) para monitorear los hechos, velar por la seguridad de los panameños en el extranjero, y servir de enlace con la Embajada de Panamá en Francia. El teléfono para la atención de este tema es el + (507) 6983-1862 y permanecerá activado hasta que se normalice la situación en París.

 

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Editorials: Mining and industry; and Dealing with Daesh

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huaca
A huaca, in the tradition of pre-Columbian Panamanian goldsmithing. Photo by Brian Gratwicke.

Forget a national economy based upon extracting minerals to export

A long-running gold mine scandal that has left a couple of hundred unemployed and unpaid workers, a big hole in the ground, a toxic pond, tainted streams and a bunch of defrauded stock market players is barely into its legal reckoning phases. The copper mine that was supposed to save Panama limps along due to low global prices, having changed hands several times but with the plan of ultimately employing only a few Panamanians and exporting unprocessed copper and molybdenum pellets to be made into metal things elsewhere continuing on its course. Now the Varela administration says that early next year it will start issuing new mining concessions. That’s a bad idea because the underlying concept is so flawed that it can’t benefit Panama.

Many Panamanian houses have roofs made of zinc sheets. We don’t have appreciable amounts of zinc, those are imported. Some of our buildings, mostly older ones, have copper sheets in their roofing material. We do have copper. While it may well be true that copper is worth more than zinc on world markets, were we to shelter ourselves under copper that we mine, smelt and process into sheets it would be the source of some good and sustainable jobs for Panamanians. But the mining under proper environmental controls of just enough copper to supply our own industries would not maximize profits to allow a huge multinational mining corporation to compete with its rapacious peers. It would also likely be challenged under “free trade” treaties as an improper import substitution scheme and unfair obstacle to would-be foreign owners of Panama.

Gold mining? Its history here hardly starts with the pump-and-dump Petaquilla Gold insider trading stock swindle that Ricardo Martinelli and his accomplices ran. Mostly gold mining here is a succession of frauds and environmental crimes, but it hasn’t always been that way. Long before the arrival on our isthmus of a culture prone to be driven crazy by the metal, gold was panned from streams and dug from exposed veins, then processed into exquisite objects by many generations of indigenous goldsmiths. We could dispense from the monster-scale open pits and cyanide ponds, mining gold on a scale just large enough to sustainably supply new generations of Panamanian goldsmiths. Young people who might otherwise be tempted to rob others for their gold might find useful jobs that enable them to live in comfort and raise families. Local gold creations, both in traditional styles and new designs, would add yet another attraction to our tourism industry. But of course, there is more money for fewer people in environmental rape and securities fraud.

The problem with mining here is with the prevailing model of our entire economy. Everything is oriented toward a zero-sum game with rich winners and everyone else losing. Mining as a part of a development strategy to benefit the Panamanian people is not on the national agenda. And what, other than lies about labor and environmental protections, is the mining agenda actually being considered? It’s foreign companies destroying large areas of the country to dig up ore, contaminating our waters with chemicals separate the metal from the rock, and exporting the metal to elsewhere, with the government getting a small cut of the action. There is so much money involved that the small percentage looks huge, and typically part of the proceeds go toward bribing public officials to let environmental laws go unenforced and let Panama’s share be reduced in an amount much greater than the payoff to certain individuals in positions of public trust. That’s the norm in mineral extraction economies everywhere.

We don’t need the contemplated mining concessions. Panama would be better off without them. Now if the president is going to come back to us with a mining and manufacturing proposal that makes sense for those who live here, we should consider it.

 

ParisWe weep, we fight, we make peace

The Russians are backing as viable an alternative as their is in Syria, the incumbent Assad regime. That government is monstrous and unacceptable to the United States, but the US alternative of a “moderate opposition” is a made-inside-the-Beltway delusion. In any case it’s a matter best settled among the people who live there, but that’s not happening because neighbors with their geopolitical interests and vicious Sunni religious fanatics led first of all by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are interfering and the rival jihadi groups Daesh (the Islamic State) and al Nusra have had the upper hand. But while squabbling with one anoher both the Russians and the Americans have stepped up their interventions and things are not looking good for Sunni bigots.

With Russian help Assad’s forces have pushed back al Nusra and non-jihadi opposition forces in the Damascus area, and lifted the Islamic State’s siege of Kweires airbase near Aleppo to the north. With American help Kurdish and Yazidi forces have taken Sinjar in northern Iraq and in so doing cut one of the main Daesh supply lines into Syria. Moscow complained that US drone strikes were worse than ineffective because there were no spotters on the ground directing fire, and without acknowledging any relationship Washington sent in US special operations forces, and whether or not because of these ground troops acting as spotters an American drone strike killed a bloodthirsty Daesh media star, the British computer programmer and Daesh cutthroat Mohammed Emwazi, more popularly known as Jihadi John. That death in no way disrupts the would-be caliphate’s command and control system but is an embarrassment that goes along with a string of battlefield defeats.

So Daesh is lashing out. On October 31 their affiliate in Egypt, Wilayat Sinai, bombed a Russian passenger jet taking tourists from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 souls aboard. On November 11 they set off two bombs in the predominantly Shiited southern Beirut suburb of Burj al-Barajneh, killing at least 23 people including three residents of Dearborn, Michigan. A three-year-old American boy, Haider Mostapha, has been left as a wounded and traumatized orphan in a Lebanese hospital, crying for his slain parents. On November 12 in Baghdad they attacked the Shia funeral of an Iraqi soldier who had died fighting against Daesh, killing a least 44 people. The next day came the much more heavily publicized (in the West) attacks on Paris, one of which was aimed at an American rock band and its fans.

Daesh needs to be crushed and its survivors treated as war criminals. But after that the people who live in the affected region need to sort things out for themselves, perhaps with Americans and Russians guaranteeing the peace but certainly not dictating the terms of a peace. Whether Syria and Iraq will continue to exist within the borders that the British and French drew for them after World War I really is not and should not be for outsiders to decide. Powerful and not-so-powerful neighbors may object, but Kurdistan’s fate as a nation that runs its own affairs is at stake. How the Syrians and Iraqis rule themselves after the war is to be determined. Perhaps the United States should play an Iranian card, not by any sort of formal alliance but just by distancing itself from Saudi Arabia.

There is much more, and much less, at stake in the peace process that will need to come. An end to religious-based warfare the rule of international law on a generally accepted basis have to be the main goals. Superpower status symbols need to be studiously ignored. In the emerging energy economy, who controls Middle East oil is becoming ever less relevant no matter what politicians and corporations want to make of that point. But we need to make peace. Endless war is not a viable option for the Americans, the Russians, the French or those who live in the Middle East.

 

Bear in mind…

If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.
Winston Churchill

 

The only thing worse than a man you can’t control is a man you can.
Margo Kaufman

 

To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
Sun Tzu

 

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The Panama News blog links, November 13, 2015

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The Panama News blog links, November 13, 2015

gCaptain, Ships waiting up to 11 days at the Panama Canal

Splash 24/7, ACP moves to cut ship delays

Sohns, Does climate change threaten the future of the Panama Canal?

Hellenic Shipping News, The melting Arctic is like “discovering a new Africa”

JOC, Panama transshipment boom from expanded canal unlikely

The Maritime Executive, Operators queueing up for Panama’s Corozal port

E&N, San Francisco quiere ser la puerta de Panamá a Asia

Berkshire Hathaway, Fitch has a negative outlook on Tocumen SA bonds

Solar Industry, Urban Green Energy embarks on Panama expansion

EFE, La FAO quiere fortalecer su sede en Panamá

ANDES, Concesiones mineras en Panamá se empezarán a otorgar en el 2016

FAO, Caribbean billfish conservation meeting in Panama

Mongabay, Peru creates “Yellowstone of the Amazon”

STRI, How much did indigenous peoples alter the Amazon forest?

Archaeology, Genetic study finds traces of original Caribbean population

BBC, Study says no woman is “totally straight”

Brin, Peering upward and outward

Time, These four states and a terror group rule the social media

The Intercept, Edward Snowden on how to reclaim your privacy

CNN, Hackers breach FBI

Winter, How law enforcement can use Google timeline to track you

AFP, Detienen por corrupción a funcionarios judiciales en Panamá

The Tico Times, Cuban migrants trapped on Panama – Costa Rica border

AFP, Lío diplomático entre Panamá y Venezuela

Video, La violencia en Changuinola cinco años después

BBC, Peru-Chile land border spat

Human Rights Watch, Ecuador’s crackdown on protesters

Carlsen, US military aid and the Tlatlaya Massacre

Caribbean News Now!, Nephews of Venezuela’s first lady arrested in Haiti

Salazar & Araujo, The sexual violence legacy of Colombia’s civil conflict

Lyderson & Cardona-Maguigad: Part 1, The many faces of gold mining in Colombia

Lyderson & Cardona-Maguigad: Part 2, The many faces of gold mining in Colombia

Stiglitz & Guzman, A step forward for sovereign debt

Ben-Ami, Internet or Intifada?

Video, Laura Carlsen on marijuana legalization

Avnery, The cats of Ariel

Pérez Esquivel, En Argentina hay que votar y no hacerse el oso

Jamaica Gleaner, Reggae Boyz face tough Panama test

Boxing Scene, Guillermo Jones return pushed back to November 20

Boxing Scene, Nica Concepción vs. Giovanni Segura on December 17

Amérca Economía, Panamá es el octavo peor país para manejar en el mundo

Variety, Abner Benaim is doing a Rubén Blades bio documentary

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Panama Jazz Festival concerts schedule

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PJF 2016Click here to enlarge this chart.

Randy Weston headlines at the 2016 Panama Jazz Festival

 

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Harrington, Limites del crecimiento

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gatun lake
Lago Gatún. Foto por Roger W.

Limites del crecimiento

por Kevin Harrington-Shelton

 

¿Como no recordar así el mensaje tan elocuente que nos llega de las Sagradas Escrituras, del agua como símbolo de purificación y vida?
La recuperación de tal dimensión espiritual asegura y presupone un ENFOQUE APROPIADO a los problemas éticos, políticos y económicos que tocan sobre el complicado manejo del agua por todos los interesados, sea en las esferas nacionales e internacionales.
Benedicto XVI

 

Aún cuando entre las maravillas del mundo actual se destaca la proliferación de medios electrónicos por informarnos, con frecuencia los periodistas a cargo de las distribución masiva de información simplemente no lo logran hacerlo de manera que incentivar el pensamiento (y no sólo repetirla cual papagayos). Y no sólo en Panamá. La concertación de la población contra la prolongada sequía en California brinda un ejemplo de su subutilización para democratizar el conocimiento, en términos que pueda entender la mayor parte de población posible.

En su presentación ante las Naciones Unidas, el Papa Francisco tendió puentes sobre el cambio climático en su orientación hacia el cuidado de la casa-común de la humanidad. Nuestra mayordomía de la Creación nunca ha sido más claramente expuesta. California muestra el resultado de no querer reconocer que el crecimiento tiene límites –e ilustra como no enfocar el desarrollo en el Tercer Mundo. Es el tercer estado más extenso de USA y (si fuera un país) sus 40 millones de habitantes habrían construido la novena economía más poderosa del mundo. Su centenaria atracción de inmigrantes laboriosos y talentosos ha super-impuesto una moderna y sofisticada economía sobre un marco inicial básicamente agrícola, en valles extraordinariamente productivos en razón de su soleado clima. Hoy, sólo un 2% de su economía origina del sector minero y agrícola. Esfuerzos realmente titánicos habían logrado mitigar el problema de escasez de agua, construyendo embalses en las montañas de su Interior, así como mega-acueductos para transportarla hacia una costa del Pacífico característicamente árida.

Pero desde 2010 California es presa de una sequía más larga de las acostumbradas. En enero 2015 su gobernador ordenó medidas de conservación cada vez más severas. Los medios de comunicación han cumplido con divulgarlas, tal cual, sin contribuir con su sana crítica. Ejemplo. Medidas urbanas, tales como evitar largas duchas, frecuentes lavados de ropa, abuso de servicios sanitarios, jardinería, golf, etc., podrían ahorrar anualmente unas 750 millones de hectáreas-pies de agua. (En contraste, para comenzar a entender este mega-guarismo, nuestro propio Lago Gatún podría embalsar 2 millones de hectáreas pies, que es el promedio de lo que anualmente produce la cuenca del río Chagres. Pero, a diferencia de California, en Panamá sólo se pueden usar solo algunas pulgadas en la superficie para los esclusajes –porque las naves deben poder navegar sobre el resto de lo embalsado. Si se desfoga demasiada agua, no podrían transitar tantas barcos a la vez.)

Pero allá estas enormes cantidades sólo representan una mínima fracción del agua requerida en la agro-industria de California. Ejemplo. El agua requerida para ún sólo rubro componente de su ganadería intensiva (la alfalfa) asciende a 2,500 millones de hectáreas-pies anuales. E ilustra cómo toda sociedad ha de imponer prioridades en su crecimiento, conforme a sus respectivos recursos.

En democracia, los periodistas deben contribuir a la comprensión de esta realidad, presentando hechos en forma que sean fácilmente comprensible a la población. Esto no ha sido del caso en Panamá. Un incesto entre los intereses tras los concesionarios de medios masivos con virtualmente todo el resto de nuestra economía los impide cumplir con esa obligación.

Ejemplo. Y coincidentalmente sobre este mismo punto del agua. Los concesionarios de “nuestros” medios han encubierto la realidad, que con sus actuales estructuras hídricas el Canal no podrá llegar a optimizar la inversión en la Ampliación dentro del calendario previsto. Esto se sabía desde ANTES del Referéndum de 2006. Pero intereses anti-patriotas manipularon esta información (que se sabía desde 2 años antes, cuando se cercenó la Cuenca Occidental de lo que se presentaría al electorado panameño para su aprobación, aunque el proyecto inicialmente concebido la incluia), ya que su derrota era previsible, si entonces se le hubieran opuesto los grupos rurales a ser afectados en dicha Cuenca ampliada. En una desleal estrategia de “Divide y conquistarás” de todo nuestro estamento político, próximamente se les impondrán a estos campesinos embalses adicionales, ante el hecho-cumplido de que el agua del Lago Gatún simplemente no alcanzará para la Ampliación próxima a completarse.

Quienes comemos tres veces al día tenemos una obligación para con quienes no comen, y la mejor forma de cumplirla es perseverando en una vocación profética en promoción de un Estado de derecho que funcione como debe –sin manipulación de la información.

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¿Wappin? Thursday morning music not found on the radio here

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bjork
Björk. Photo by Mick O.

¿Wappin? Thursday morning music that’s not on the radio

Lightnin’ Hopkins – Long Gone
https://youtu.be/bKDhRGxighg

The Corrs – Little Wing
https://youtu.be/QLeuRTwTL6s

Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci & Brian Blade – Live @ Blue Note Milano
https://youtu.be/ZA-Xt_MXPig

Miles Davis & Charlie Parker – A Night In Tunisia
https://youtu.be/KxibMBV3nFo

Carmen Souza – Verdade
https://youtu.be/6os21T2ukqY

Yomira John – Solita
https://youtu.be/9B4G7wppIuY

Mongo Santamaria – Sofrito
https://youtu.be/n__CQt-Xykc

Santana & Eric Clapton- Ji Go Lo Ba
https://youtu.be/4n2d1_OIHZ4

Michael Shrieve – Communique “Approach Spiral”
https://youtu.be/8khsPjZWYS8

Lizz Wright – Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly
https://youtu.be/LBV0K68ZO60

Hello Seahorse! – La Flotadera
https://youtu.be/GMoFiHHEL3o

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
https://youtu.be/IXdNnw99-Ic

Tangerine Dream – Betrayal
https://youtu.be/XOkfBbVZEGo

Björk – Lionsong
https://youtu.be/MWHpoJT3qK4

Luther Allison – Low Down and Dirty
https://youtu.be/2vFqHF8dAWE

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MOVADUP, Por la salida anticipada del rector

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MOVADUP
En “exilio”, celebrando el aniversario de la fundación de la Universidad de Panamá. Foto por MOVADUP.

Por la salida anticipada del rector

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

El pasado 29 de octubre de 2015, el rector de la Universidad de Panamá, Gustavo García de Paredes, dio el discurso central en el Acto Anual de Rendición de Cuentas, ocasión que aprovechó para anunciar que no se postularía, en el próximo proceso electoral, al cargo que hoy ostenta, para el periodo 2016-2021.

Más que una decisión autónoma y generosa en pro del relevo generacional, consideramos que fue producto de la presión de una opinión pública adversa, consciente de la concentración excesiva de poder que se vive a lo interno de la Casa de Méndez Pereira y que está alerta frente a las múltiples denuncias de irregularidades y actos de corrupción que hoy son investigados por la Contraloría General y la Procuraduría General de la Nación.

En este sentido, el MOVADUP reivindica el desistimiento de Gustavo García de Paredes a aspirar a la rectoría como una victoria del pueblo panameño y se alegra de ser uno de los vehículos de la voluntad de este con respecto a su universidad.

El apego desmedido al poder, por parte de su máxima figura, se manifiesta en la forma cómo se ha mantenido administrando la Casa de Méndez Pereira a lo largo de 5 periodos de gobierno: interpretaciones acomodaticias o cambios en la ley universitaria frente a la cláusula de no reelección, sistema de ponderación que favorece la manipulación política, clientelismo político exacerbado y persecución feroz contra las voces críticas a su gestión.

Cuando hizo alusión en su discurso a que, con su retiro, la UP concluía su fase “octaviana” y que “podía salir con la corona puesta”, el actual rector no fue nada modesto, a pesar de haberse autocalificado como “espartano”. Su egolatría y arrogancia excesiva lo hizo compararse nada menos que con César Augusto (Cayo Octavio Turino), emperador romano con el reinado más prolongado de la historia, pero también autócrata que reinó gracias al clientelismo, el control militar y los poderes perpetuos conferidos por el Senado. El “apoyo” recibido que reivindica el rector fue sobre la base de la manipulación, el terror o el acarreo obligado de los universitarios, los cuales no lo van a “divinizar” como a César Augusto, una vez concluya su periodo, sino que sacarán a flote toda la verdad oculta de lo que realmente ha acontecido en estos 19 años.

Aunque en el 2012 promovió una reforma estatutaria con una edad de retiro de la docencia (75 años) que no se aplicaba a las autoridades sujetas a elección popular, pues estas podían concluir su periodo aunque hubiesen sobrepasado dicha edad, tal modificación a la reglamentación universitaria constituye, hoy por hoy, una soga al cuello para sus aspiraciones a una eventual postulación, pues la edad del profesor (menos de 75 años) es un prerrequisito para la candidatura a cargo de autoridad, incluyendo el de rector.

En el discurso que comentamos, García de Paredes justificó la persecución política instrumentada a través de procesos disciplinarios amañados, así como defendió su no acatamiento de los mandatos judiciales correspondientes, cuando reprochó a la Corte Suprema de Justicia sus acciones “políticas” de ordenar reintegro a funcionarios que “no actuaron dentro de los parámetros y estatus establecidos”. En este punto fue incluso más allá y, con insensata temeridad, vaticinó que ello acarrearía que “la gente se tomara la venganza en sus manos.”

Asimismo, la utilización de términos despectivos (“la oposición es mala; no aporta, solo critica; eso no sirve; es basura”) para calificar a quienes se contraponen a su administración, deja mucho que desear de una máxima figura de una casa de estudios superiores, quien debería destacar por su trato humano y respetuoso hacia todos los universitarios indistintamente de su origen, condición o creencias. Además de dar muestras con estas expresiones, de una nula existencia de garantías de un proceso electoral imparcial para el próximo año.

El discurso de “Rendición de Cuentas” nada dijo sobre el uso del presupuesto universitario, sobre todo para el nombramiento de “a dedo” de personal docente y administrativo, el mantenimiento de “botellas” clientelares, la triangulación innecesaria de fondos a través de la Fundación UP, las ventas truculentas del patrimonio universitario y las contrataciones públicas con sobrecostos (casos: los CIDETES, la restauración del edificio de Secretaría General, el sistema de seguridad, etc.). Más bien se destacó por su carácter prepotente, intimidatorio y reclamante de poderes omnímodos (interpretación autócrata de la autonomía universitaria) frente a la Contraloría y el Órgano Judicial y su incomodidad frente al ojo avizor de los medios de comunicación social.

Por lo anterior, el MOVADUP declara que el poder de las autoridades universitarias no debe ser ilimitado o absoluto, pues da pie al avasallamiento de los derechos de estudiantes, profesores y administrativos, quienes se convierten en objetos y no sujetos de derechos. Por tanto, luchará por la salida anticipada de Gustavo García de Paredes de la Rectoría, ya que su permanencia en el puesto implicará mayor persecución, burla a las decisiones judiciales y nula imparcialidad en los procesos electorales.

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Anderson, The Golden Years Gap

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Just 100 CEOs have as much saved up for retirement as 50 million American families combined. Photo by American Advisors Group.

The Golden Years Gap

by Sarah Anderson — OtherWords

Flo, the Progressive insurance pitch woman in the white uniform and headband, is relentlessly perky. She won’t be when she learns about the double standard that lets her CEO sock away millions more for retirement than she can.

Whereas the Flos of the working world face strict limits on how much they can set aside tax-free for their golden years, many of their bosses don’t.

Flo’s boss, Progressive CEO Glenn Renwick, dropped $26,170,569 last year into his deferred compensation account — that’s $26,152,569 more than Flo would’ve been allowed to invest in a 401(k).

Ordinary workers under 50 (like Flo) can contribute no more than $18,000 per year to a 401(k). But most big companies offer special accounts that allow their top brass to set aside unlimited amounts of their pay tax-free until they retire.

Renwick’s stockpiled more than $150 million in such an account during his more than two decades at the company. That’s enough to generate an $850,000 check every month for the rest of his life.

This double standard is just one reason the CEO-worker retirement gap is now even wider than the income divide.

A new report I co-authored for the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government finds that the company retirement assets of just 100 CEOs equals the combined golden years savings of 50 million American families — or 41 percent of us.

On top of their special tax-deferred accounts, more than half of Fortune 500 chief executives get traditional pensions that guarantee a stable monthly payment after retirement. That kind of security has gone the way of the typewriter for most American workers.

To cut costs, most companies have shifted to riskier and less generous 401(k)-type plans — or eliminated retirement benefits altogether. As a result, more and more seniors have to rely on Social Security to avoid falling into poverty.

They’ll be hit hard by the government’s recent decision to provide no cost of living increase in Social Security in 2016.

In response, Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill that would offer a one-year, 3.9 percent bump in Social Security benefits. How would the Massachusetts Democrat pay for it? By eliminating a tax loophole that currently subsidizes excessive CEO pay.

There are many other ways to narrow the retirement divide so that all Americans can look forward to living in dignity in their later years. For one thing, corporate executives should be subject to the same rules that govern the retirement assets of the people they employ.

If Flo the perky pitch woman can’t put more than $18,000 per year in a tax-deferred account at Progressive, her boss shouldn’t either.

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is a co-author of the report A Tale of Two Retirements.

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