Home Blog Page 2

Editorials: Rude questions; and Fake news

0
assholes
White men in suits demonstrating their disregard for health protection measures. When called to account many deaths from now, which of them will plead insanity? White House photo, via Wikimedia.

Rude questions

Is this or that prominent and elderly politician deranged, or suffering from dementia? It’s a totally rude sort of question. Over the years when it has been posed it has been both a malpracticing amateur diagnosis of a patient not examined and a below-the-belt political punch. The presumption that one who has a different opinion must be stupid or crazy is one of the most banal and juvenile political errors.

Yet, in a time of a pandemic that creates particularly high health risks for senior citizens, it’s not just bad decisions or policies determined by greedy little interests instead of the public interest that ought to concern us. In the United States, the coronavirus infection has roamed the halls of Congress and affected the immediate families of senators and representatives. The president is talking delusional stuff and doing unreasonably risky things in light of the pandemic. On other side of the political aisle some appear to thrive in the new era of shut-in online politics, while the mental acuity of others appears to deteriorate.

Voters and party leaders need to be asking rude questions about very prominent politicians. It’s not a mere excercise in ordinary lowbrow public discourse. It’s a serious set of questions.

 

Is this video about contagion a play on people’s fears? It will fly over the heads of those most woefully uninformed, but it’s based on senses of fear and of neighborly compassion among those with some appreciation of the danger. Do we want to let politicians not particularly known for their commitment to the public interest suppress this?

The politicians’ expressed “fake news” concern is mostly fear of the truth

A couple of weeks ago legislator Crispiano Adames and Health Minister Rosario Turner said that they wanted to use the criminal law against “fake news.” They stated the problem as false information that generates fear.

With media people now mostly staying at home and the least healthy legislators working on, it’s hard to say just what has been done, but it appears that no such measures have passed. However, given the propensity, worse in other places than in Panama, for “mind over matter” political ideologues to brand any data they don’t welcome as “fake news,” let’s look at Panama as a case study with probable wider applications.

First of all, let’s notice what Adames and Turner were NOT talking about. No sanctions were or are suggested for the suppression of information that puts people’s lives at risk. Like when the health authorities suppressed news of the coronavirus outbreak at Colegio Beckman and left that school open for days after what was known to them should have led them to close the place.

And where are the main dangers of false information being published?

* Quack cures are bad enough, but worse are the ones that are toxic. As in, for example, Donald Trump touting a chemical used to clean fish tanks and in low doses as an anti-malarial drug as a cure for the coronavirus. It isn’t. A foolish Arizona couple took a hint, twisted it, ingested the substance and rather immediately became ill. He died. She remains in critical condition. Of course Trump will deny any relationship to that act of medical foolishness that his bizarre political propaganda suggested.

* Denial and dismissal that implicitly suggests or overtly urges disobedience to health quarantine decrees need not be factually untrue to be dangerous to the community. Like, for example, telling teenagers that they personally are unlikely to get very sick if they go out and congregate, and if that means them passing on an illness deadly to their grandparents, it’s the old folks’ concern and not theirs.

Generally, however, is the generation of fear such a horrible thing? People SHOULD be afraid of this pandemic, afraid enough to stay home and put up with many inconveniences.

Unreasonable fears, tinged with unconscionable hatreds, are in fact out and about in the land. The blaming of members of Panama’s long-established Chinese community for the pandemic, or of members of the more recent Venezuelan immigrant community for panic buying, have not elicited rebukes from the politicians, some of whom maintain their positions by playing on such phobias. That sort of false information is dangerous, but that seems not to be the danger that Adames and Turner contemplated as targets of their wrath.

Was it Rosario Turner’s intention to say that giving notice that there was a problem at Colegio Beckman three or four days before the government admitted it was her concern? The story was in the online rumor mill, but The Panama News hesitated to pass it on because there wasn’t confirmation. But it wasn’t fake news. It was the truth.

And what if dangerous nonsense does get expressed online? The defense to that is to publish the truth. The truth is the not-so-secret weapon that ministries and public officials ought to brandish as they monitor and refute the false rumors. It doesn’t tend to work, however, if for those people and institutions the truth is only a part-time cause.

 

nnu

National Nurses United urges Congress to quickly pass new legislation to address the inadequacies in the Trump Administration’s response to the pandemic. Specifically, we urge Congress to mandate that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration promulgate an Emergency Temporary Standard on COVID-19 protections for health care workers. An OSHA emergency temporary standard is a critical step in ensuring that all nurses on the frontlines of the coronavirus response are given the proper respirators and personal protective equipment to safely care for patients with confirmed or potential COVID-19 infection.

RNs and NNU co-presidents Deborah Burger, Zenei Cortez, and Jean Ross             

Bear in mind…



flo

I attribute my success to this — I never gave or took any excuse.

Florence Nightingale                       

 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

 

These links are interactive — click on the boxes

 

VOTE

 

donate

 

NNPP

 

FB_2

 

Tweet

Sanders wins Democrats Abroad global primary, Biden wins in Panama

0
gorgona
Voting in Gorgona. Photo by Eric Jackson.

Bernie wins Democrats Abroad primary, Joe wins in Panama

from Democrats Abroad data

By an overall global count of 23,139 votes for Senator Bernie Sanders to 9,069 votes for former Vice President Joe Biden the two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination split the Democrats Abroad 13 pledged delegates to the national convention with 9 for Sanders and 4 for Biden.

The remainder of 39,984 votes cast in 180 countries was split among nine other candidates, Falling just short of the 15% needed to win a delegate was Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The voting took place between March 3 and 10, but the counting was delayed because there were mail-in votes, some from remote areas of the world. Generally Democrats Abroad gets votes from nearly every country, plus areas like Antarctica that are not organized as nations.

Democrats Abroad is the official Democratic Party organization for US citizens of that political persuasion living outside of the United States or its possessions. It is represented by delegates at the national convention and members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Who those convention delegates and national committee members will be was set to be decided at a global meeting in Toronto, Canada in May. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic the organization has applied to the DNC for permission to hold that meeting online instead.

Joe Biden won in Panama, with 73 votes to Bernie Sanders’s 56 and Elizabeth Warren’s 27. Nobody else got more than four votes There were in-person voting centers in Boquete, Nueva Gorgona and Balboa, with Biden taking the most votes in Chiriqui and the beaches area and Sanders winning the metro area. The total Democratic vote from Panama this year, 164, surpassed the 2016 total of 150. Globally, participation was up some 15% from what it was in 2016.

 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

 

These links are interactive — click on the boxes

 

VOTE

 

donate

 

NNPP

 

FB_2

 

Tweet

Editorials: STAY HOME!, and Bad people take advantage

0
rp
Let’s put it another way. Even if you have loyalties greater than that to Panama, staying home is how you protect your family, your friends, your neighbors and yourself. Ignore the curfews and travel restrictions and you’re signing up for an enemy virus’s army.

Stay home as much as possible

Do we want to get into comparative blundering? As in Panama may stumble, but look at Spain, or Italy, or Donald Trump?

That would be foolishness in the face of a life and death health crisis.

Even worse would be to point at the problems in Panama’s responses to the virus and demand the removal of those in key positions and making some mistakes along with making the necessary and proper measures.

Tell the unvarnished truth, suggest better ways to deal with things, and help rather than obstruct the Cortizo administration in this crisis. You may not have voted for him, might not even be a citizen who could vote for him, but he’s the only president we have. He and his team are making their honest best effort.

Even if the restrictions they decree are inconvenient, given your accustomed lifestyle. It will be weeks and months of social distancing, economic dislocations, travel restriction and difficulties obtaining the mood-altering substances you prefer. Your personal comfort is at the moment a lesser priority than the survival of this society and the members of it.

 

enemy
This person — or the better word is persona — is new to the progressive Facebook group. He / she / it professes intense Bernie Sanders loyalty, without any evidence of activity for that cause. The message that she / he / it is spreading? DON’T VOTE IN NOVEMBER. Boris and Natasha message from snowy Russia? Good old boy message from a klavern deep in the heart of Texas? Brought to you by a Trump boiler room? The Internet is again flooded with such stuff and it’s a sleazy Trump re-election campaign, to be blamed on “Bernie Bros.”

The enemy

In Panama, the enemy includes that majority of the National Assembly who used the coronavirus crisis to pass pro-corruption legislation like the free pass to convicted criminal corporation Odebrecht — which has bribed leading members of all of Panamas main political parties — to remain eligible for bidding on public contracts.

In the United States, the enemy includes those members of Congress, Republican or Democrat, who got intelligence briefings on how badly the coronavirus epidemic would disrupt the US economy and then with this insider information went out and dumped stocks. One of the Republicans who did this did so along with her husband, and he’s president of the New York Stock Exchange.

We have calls for investigations by the senators who handled the Trump impeachment case, or for prolonged criminal investigations. But both parties ought to know that this sort of thing is politically and socially unacceptable, as much or more as the behavior that led Democrats to force the retirements of members of their congressional caucuses for sexual harassment, without the need for any prior court judgment.

The enemy is all who consider themselves so privileged that the health measures imposed in this crisis don’t apply to them.

The enemy is the rural maleante who figures that now is the time to strip the weekend cottages of people trapped in the city.

Soon enough the enemy will be boredom and depression and family fights and suicides as the health lockdowns become tedious. The enemy will often be inside of you or me.

Hold on. Persist. Go into the virtual world to talk up virtue and denigrate vice. Don’t fall for online con games, whether they originate in Nigeria or in the White House. The terms of our existence are changed for the moment, and in certain respects probably forever. Our basic humanity, though, is expressed through timeless values. Hold onto not only existence, but decency.

 

Ida

The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.

Ida B. Wells                        

                   

Bear in mind…

 

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

Mark Twain

 

You must come to terms with your wholeself. the wholeness which exceeds all our virtue and all our vice.

Ursula Le Guin

 

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

Kurt Vonnegut

 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

 

These links are interactive — click on the boxes

 

VOTE

 

donate

 

NNPP

 

FB_2

 

Tweet

Presidencia, Decreto amplio de cierre

0
bugs

Nito cierra la mayoría de las empresas

v1

v2

v3

~ ~ ~

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

 

Dinero

 

Tweet

 

Tweet

 

FB esp

 

FB CCL

¿Wappin? Música para aguantar

0
Blitz
Waiting out the Nazi Blitz in a London subway tunnel. This time it’s a much different enemy, which we must resist in the isolation of our homes.
Esperando a los bombardeos nazis en un túnel del metro de Londres. Esta vez es un enemigo muy diferente, que debemos resistir en el aislamiento de nuestros hogares.

Concerts to help you persist
Conciertos para ayudarte a persistir

Mon Laferte – Concierto Sin Miedo
https://youtu.be/9B1CQSVUs1s

Of Monsters and Men Studio Session
https://youtu.be/ojsDT6CRZp0

Don Omar – Festival de Viña del Mar 2016
https://youtu.be/sc0M5nVLyiU

Alfonso, Spalding & Aldana – International Jazz Day Cuba
https://youtu.be/LfTh9Rp6YlA

Bruce Springsteen – Live in Hyde Park 2009
https://youtu.be/8RxT5CBHsJA

Adele – Live Lounge Special
https://youtu.be/1-wv8rrzZro

Jorge Drexler – Concierto sin público
https://youtu.be/XnynXdDXmEI

Chris Martin – Together at Home
https://youtu.be/YMBK9OfsKO4

Sech – YouTube and Chill
https://youtu.be/N7suQ-IgKOg

John Legend – Together at Home
https://youtu.be/I2NTcBmQkjw

Alejandro Sanz y Juanes – LaGiraSeQuedaEnCasa
https://youtu.be/LlWWT-eKOwU

 

Contact us by email at / Contáctanos por correo electrónico a fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

Para defendernos de los piratas informáticos, los trolls organizados y otros actos de vandalismo en línea, la función de comentarios de nuestro sitio web está desactivada. En cambio, ven a nuestra página de Facebook para unirte a la discusión.  

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

VOTE

 

npp

 

FB CCL

 

FB_2

 

Tweet

 

$$

 

vote final

 

Hightower, The opposite of progressive

0
AOC
Polls show broad support for progressive ideas. So why aren’t more progressives voting for them? The very progressive US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz (D-NY) and several members of the Sunrise Movement. Shutterstock photo.

The opposite of progressivism? Pessimism.

by Jim Hightower — OtherWords

There’s a short-circuit in the political convictions of some progressive-minded voters these days.

While big majorities are making clear that they need and want bold, transformative changes in today’s rigged system, many of them are not voting that way in this year’s Democratic presidential primary elections.

After 30 years of being knocked down and held down, nearly a majority of Americans now say our corporate-controlled economy needs “a complete overhaul” — yet “Go-Slow-Joe” Biden, who supports only small, incremental tinkering with the corporate system, is getting many of their votes.

Why? One factor is the constant drumbeat by the mass media and the Democratic Party establishment that the progressive agenda is too radical, too hot… too democratic!

They claim that while you might want strong progressive change, most do not, so Trump will win if you vote your true beliefs. This is just establishment fear mongering, pitting you against neighbors who may actually agree with you. But it spreads a crisis of confidence in one’s own convictions.

A second big factor is the subliminal pall of political pessimism that 30-plus-years of elitism, inequality, and unfairness has cast over our democracy.

There’s a widespread sense, especially among young people, that transformative political change can’t happen. After all, folks constantly see big money, corporate lobbyists, right-wing Republicans, and weak-kneed Democrats combine to stiff the people’s will.

Whoever people vote for, the great challenge for the long-term progressive movement is not to convince a majority of people that our ideas are right for them. They already agree with that.

Rather, the need is to defeat the debilitating force of cynicism by educating, organizing, and mobilizing around the myriad of everyday examples of grassroots people battling — and winning.

 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

 

These links are interactive — click on the boxes

 

VOTE

 

donate

 

NNPP

 

FB_2

 

Tweet

AHMNP, La coronavirus

0
pride
AHMNP
 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

 

These links are interactive — click on the boxes

 

VOTE

 

donate

 

NNPP

 

FB_2

 

Tweet

What Democrats are saying

0
DA

Dem voices







538: Who Won The Biden-Sanders Debate?

Democracy Now!: Something is wrong in America

Bernie Sanders, Last night’s debate

 



 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

 

These links are interactive — click on the boxes

 

VOTE

 

donate

 

NNPP

 

FB_2

 

Tweet

Heinberg, Our connections with one another in this trying time

0
community
A barn raising in Lansing (now North York City Centre), Toronto, Canada, circa 1900-1919. Photo by Alexander Galbraith, City of Toronto Archives / Wikimedia.

Coronavirus, economic networks and our delicate social fabric

by Richard Heinbert — Common Dreams / Resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic offers intriguing insights into how networked our modern world has become, and how we’ve traded resilience for economic efficiency. Case in point: someone gets sick in China in December of 2019, and by March of 2020 the US shale oil industry is teetering on the brink.

What’s the chain of connection?

  • January 2020: The coronavirus epidemic explodes, forcing China to institute a massive quarantine.
  • Chinese oil demand craters as a result of hundreds of millions staying home and untold numbers of businesses going offline.
  • March 7: Saudi Arabia asks its OPEC partners and Russia to cut oil output to keep prices from crashing.
  • March 9: Russia refuses, so the Saudis decide to provoke a price war by producing even more oil and selling it at a discount.
  • As a result, world oil prices fall from $50 (Feb. 17) to $33 (March 9).
  • Meanwhile, it is arguably the United States, not Russia, that will be hurt most by the price war. As the world’s largest oil producer, the USA has seen nearly all of its spectacular production growth in recent years coming from light, tight oil produced by fracking. But fracking is expensive; even when prices were higher, the fracking industry struggled to turn a profit on this unconventional petroleum source.
  • With an oil price heading toward $30 or possibly even lower, not even the most efficient fracking companies with the very best acreage can make investors happy. So, dozens of domestic US oil producers are set to go bust (unless the Trump administration bails them out).

What set off this unraveling? It was China’s deliberate — and arguably necessary — pull-back from economic connectivity. This tells us something useful about networked systems: unless there is a lot of redundancy built into them, any one node in the network can affect others. If it’s an important node (China has become the center of world manufacturing), it can disrupt the entire system. What would redundancy actually mean? If we made more of our products locally, we wouldn’t have to depend so much on China. If we produced more of our energy locally, then our energy system would probably include more redundancy (by way of more types of energy sources), and the world energy economy would be more resilient as a result. Problems would still arise, but they would be less likely to affect the whole system.

So, redundancy is important. However, redundancy is the enemy of economic efficiency. Over the past few decades, economic engineers have created just-in-time supply chains in order to minimize warehousing costs, and have lengthened supply chains in order to access the cheapest labor and materials. Fine — everybody got cheaper products, and China has grown its economy at a blistering pace. But what happens when everybody suddenly needs an N95 facemask while international supply lines are down? Officials can’t just call up the local facemask factory and order a new batch; that factory likely closed years ago.

That’s just one of the ways in which the coronavirus pandemic presents a daunting challenge to our globally networked economy — while our networked economy also complicates efforts to slow the spread of the virus. When you start to take more networks into account, the picture becomes daunting indeed. What happens to the tourism industry if millions are quarantined and nobody wants to be in close quarters with lots of strangers? How about the airlines? The restaurant and hotel chains? Even a few weeks of dramatically reduced business could be critical to their survival.

Hence government leaders and the masters of the financial universe — the central bankers — are huddling daily to try to figure out how to keep what is currently (in the USA) merely a stock market blowout from turning into a serious economic depression. Unfortunately, the tools at their disposal may not be up to the job. That’s because the core problem (the pandemic) is not financial in nature. Around 70 percent of the US economy is driven directly by consumer spending. But putting money into people’s pockets through lower interest rates or government spending won’t make them suddenly decide to go on a cruise, book a flight, or even go out on Friday night to dinner and a movie.

But that’s not what concerns me most these days. Instead, it’s the social dimension of the coronavirus epidemic. Financial crises are inevitable in an economy that prioritizes the rapid growth of shareholder value and the profits of the investment class. Even more they are inevitable in an economy based on a fundamentally flawed understanding of reality — the implicit assumption that growth in resource extraction, manufacturing, and waste dumping can continue indefinitely on a finite planet. Many ecological thinkers have been making that point for years. But the response to this intrinsic vulnerability that makes the most sense, and the one my colleagues and I have been recommending, is to strengthen community resilience. That means supporting local farmers, manufacturers, merchants, arts groups, and civic organizations of all kinds. Trust is the currency that will enable us to weather the storms ahead, and trust is built largely through face-to-face interaction within communities.

However, the necessary response to the novel coronavirus is social distancing — i.e., reducing face-to-face human connectivity. As people voluntarily retreat from public gatherings, or are forced to do so by regional quarantines, severe impacts are bound to be felt by faith communities and local arts organizations, as well as local restaurants, farmers markets, and merchants. Sporting events and concerts are being canceled, and the public’s direct engagement with local and national politics is suffering as well. Public transit systems are emptying.

We need to be thinking of ways to keep civic connections alive for the next while. The pandemic will not last indefinitely: the virus itself may be here for good, but one way or another it and humanity will negotiate some sort of biological accommodation. Most likely, humans will achieve herd immunity, perhaps aided by vaccines. Our urgent task is to keep our communities healthy and resilient in the interim.

Of course, we still have the internet and social media. We should make the most of them, even though in “normal” times these often distract us from face-to-face interaction or reduce our social skills. For the time being, we can use these tools to keep up not just with the news, but with all the people we care about. I’ve even heard of innovative communitarians setting up Zoom conferences with their neighbors so they can stay in “touch.” Unfortunately, there’s no app yet that can show up at a farmers market, admire the produce, talk about the weather, and bring home a basket of fresh veggies.

Humor can help with emotionally processing difficult information (though its use can be tricky, as many people’s emotions are raw these days). There’s a lot to process — and not just fears of getting COVID-19 or of seeing a 401k disappear. Will we have to cancel our vacation? Should I go to my yoga class or stay home? How can I make ends meet if I can’t work for the next few weeks due to quarantines? How much should we disrupt our routines? Should my company be doing more to protect employees and customers? These questions and more are stoking interpersonal tensions between spouses, between parents and children, between co-workers, and between employers and employees. Normalcy bias and denial can lead to complacency when action is needed, while panic can lead to poor choices and the dismissal of one’s genuine concerns by friends and colleagues. One solution is to engage friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family in conversations about the virus, actively listen to their concerns, and gently steer those conversations in a prosocial direction that takes into account the seriousness of the situation and our need to change behavior. Ironically, the most pro-social behavior at the moment is to stay home. Meanwhile, make commonsense preparations: stock up on enough supplies to get you through a month without going out, and think about what you’ll do.

Remember: humanity has survived epidemics much worse than this one. My wife Janet just passed along this historical tidbit: it seems that early in William Shakespeare’s career as an actor and writer, London theaters were closed by order of the Privy Council (June 23, 1592), which was concerned about a plague outbreak and the possibility of civil unrest. But the theaters reopened in June 1594 and Shakespeare went on to write his most famous plays. Like Will, we’ll get through this.

Connections will be strained in the coming weeks — some of them interpersonal and local, some economic and global. It’s up to us to nourish the connections that are most essential, while finding backups for those that can no longer be relied on. What do we need and value most? How can we support one another? These are the sorts of questions we might ask ourselves in the days ahead—and we may have plenty of time on our hands at home to contemplate them.

Richard Heinberg is a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and the author of thirteen books, including his most recent: Our Renewable Future. Previous books include: Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels, Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future; The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies; Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines; and The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality.

 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

 

These links are interactive — click on the boxes

 

VOTE

 

donate

 

NNPP

 

FB_2

 

Tweet

MINSA, Anuncios sobre la pandemia

0
1
2
3
4