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Jackson, Undecided on whether to run for chair of Democrats Abroad Panama

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Ua

Do Democrats represent a constituency of people who believe in certain things, or sell to a gullible market?

by Eric Jackson

There is less than a week to jump into or drop out of the race for any of the four officer posts or the three at-large board positions with Democrats Abroad Panama. If I do nothing, I am running for a spot as a board member. I MIGHT be moved to do something I really would rather not do, and run for chair — again. The election will be on April 28, with all DA Panama members receiving Google form ballots by email. On a positive side, for the 2018 cycle I was chair, the organization grew, and Democrats won back the US House of Representatives. I did not seek re-election as chair, but ran for vice chair instead. Kim Antonsen, who had been vice chair, became chair. Also on the positive side, In the 2020 cycle the organization grew, and Democrats won back the White House while losing 13 seats in the House, then won the Georgia runoff which gave us half the seats in the US Senate.

Let me spare you, for the moment, the tales of dysfunction and most of the philosophical differences between Kim and her supporters and myself. Not that those are unimportant. Just not now. But late last year my unheeded advice was that both Kim and I should step back from officer roles to board roles, and from those positions give what support and guidance we could to another set of officers.

Kim, ignoring a bunch of our bylaws, taking decisions properly belonging to the board to herself, and ignoring what I had to say, chose to put secrecy into the nominations process and put Joan Stack in charge of the nominations committee. I had my specific objections to Joan and told Kim about those before she made her choice. Kim’s first question to me was with whom I had shared information about Joan. The whole process derailed, which is why we are choosing our new leaders later this month instead of having already made our choices.

Joan is no longer directly involved, but looms over this entire process. Kim has attempted to order me not to talk about Joan, now that she’s supposedly out of the picture.

But Kim is seeking another term as chair, and her judgment about Joan is a critical issue, one that says volumes about Kim’s political common sense.

See the graphic up top? It’s  not a perfectly random sample, but it is fairly representative of the whole. Democrats Abroad. It’s a mostly female chapter and a group overwhelmingly dominated by retirees. Makes me the odd man out for being a man, and a working man, and being much less affluent that just about everyone else in the organization. Had I not been born here I don’t make or have enough money to get a residency visa, and one of the governments over the past more than 26 years I have been running The Panama News would have kicked me out of the country for unflattering journalism.

But while being different, I have the sense to know roughly who the organization is. We are mostly retirees.

So WHY put the former human resources director for the Stanford Financial Group — until the FBI shut them down — in charge of a Democrats Abroad Panama leadership makeover? The Stanford Financial Group was US history’s second-largest ponzi scheme fraud, only surpassed by Bernie Madoff’s operation. The Stanford Financial Group stole some Seven Billion Dollars, much of it from retirees. What led Kim Antonsen to think that putting Joan Stack in charge of our nominations committee would likely be acceptable to our mostly retired base of supporters?

It’s not a matter of innocent until proven guilty, or acceptable unless indicted or convicted or sent to prison. It’s not a criminal case. It’s a matter of political judgment. The lack of this tells me that Kim — who knew of the association — should not be our chair for another term. As far as I am concerned, better if some third person other than Kim or me steps into the race. But if nobody else does, I just might.

I don’t say this as some holy man — I am not — nor to question Joan Stack’s membership in the Democratic Party, nor to take away from the successes of Kim Antonsen’s shift as chair. But our leaders should know better than to bring such questions upon the organization and to present such a vulnerable symbol to our supporters, by appointing Joan Stack to head our leadership selection process. 

So should I run? Or better yet, shouldn’t you?

 

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Martinelli, losing ground in the courts — so it seems — counters on the streets

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Don Ricky
“On the front burner” in a plethora of criminal cases against Ricardo Martinelli (some thrown out by lower courts for reasons specious on their faces only to be reinstated on appeal) is one that goes to the heart of the former president’s hopes of a return to power, the New Business peculation and money laundering charges. That is, that Martinelli bought the EPASA newspapers by way of a skim from overpriced public works contracts, which money was laundered and put into a company called New Business, which bought the media company that publishes El Panama America, La Critica and Dia a Dia. Here we see Martinelli raising the alarm in El Panama America, and this was before Spain revived the money laundering investigation against him. 

Bussing in astroturf supporters
in the face of setbacks in courts

by Eric Jackson

Ricardo Martinelli’s team claimed 2,000 supporters showed up at Plaza Catedral on April 6 and his media covered people being bussed in from Colon, Panama Oeste and Veraguas provinces for the event. This was the start of a previously announced “take it to the streets” campaign in the face of what looks like a grave series of setbacks in the courts here, in Guatemala and in the USA. Between the announcement and the demonstration, more bad news for Martinelli came from a court in Spain.

The immediate case in point is a probable trial in the New Business case, date not yet set. On March 27 prosecutors called on the courts to try Martinelli and 24 others for a scheme that used the illicit proceeds of overpriced government contracts to fund Martinelli’s beneficial acquisition of the EPASA newspaper chain. 

Two days early, the bipolar Martinelli was in celebratory mode as the Electoral Tribunal certified that his Realizando Metas (RM) party had qualified as a registered party for the 2024 elections, in which the former president hopes to come back for another term. But in the days following the prosecutors’ call to bring the ex-president and a couple of dozen of his key supporters to trial, the mood abruptly shifted.

The severance of nine people under investigation in the case when prosecutors called for a trial may have been for various reasons. The Public Ministry did not exactly say that if found them innocent, or had insufficient evidence to say otherwise. The severance of two of Martinelli’s co-defendants, businessmen Riccardo Francolini and Henri Mizrachi, after the call to bring them to trial was unambiguously another matter. These men had flipped to become state’s evidence and Francolini in particular was a central player in the New Business scheme.

Then there were the rumors about Martinelli’s fugitive personal secretary, Adolfo “Chichi” De Obarrio. Mr. De Obarrio faces multiple charges of peculation and money laundering in his own right, to the point that he has an INTERPOL “red note” arrest warrant out in his name. Radio Panama reported that Chichi had been arrested in Italy, which elicited a limited denial from his lawyer here — De Obarrio had not been arrested, it was said. Had he been arrested in Italy, it would likely have been confirmed by various official and unofficial sources. But then the small online publication Diario Panama and others began to tell another version of the story, that De Obarrio had, somewhere in Europe, turned himself in to US authorities, who flew him off to the USA. In a federal district court in Brooklyn, there is a pending case in which Martinelli’s two sons are named for conspiracy and money laundering, and the charge published so far indicates that the father was part of the scheme without specifically naming him as a defendant. The published accusation said that the brothers, ” together with others, did knowingly and intentionally conspire to commit offenses….” The ex-president’s two sons are in a luxury Guatemalan prison for the rich, fighting extradition to the United States. Is De Obarrio one of the “others” alluded to by the US Department of Justice? Did he surrender to the Americans to become a witness against the Martinellis? Lots of conjecture here, but all of a sudden in Panama, Ricardo Martinelli’s social media trolls started to make negative mentions of De Obarrio.

And what about the sons? By some account the younger one, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, 38, had been talking with the feds before he and his 40-yearpld brother Ricardo Alberto fled aboard the family jet, an escape that ended with their arrest in Guatemala. Have one or both flipped on their father, or is pressure being mounted for them to do so?

The US government is now laying claim to the aircraft seized in Guatemala. Ricardo Martinelli’s media here have made the odd argument that the plane was in perfect airworthy condition, so is not “illegal,” so should be returned to the former president.

The law of pre-judgment seizures under Panama’s or any other country’s legal system would be unfathomable to many of Ricardo Martinelli’s more gullible followers. This has not stopped Panamanian prosecutors from seizing shares of the Martinelli media empire. At the moment about 30 percent of the EPASA shares are in the custody of the Panamanian government. His loss of the New Business case would likely mean the loss of Ricardo Martinelli’s media holdings and thus a key lever that would be needed for a comeback in 2024.

The street campaign? Ricardo Martinelli has an established modus operandi. People with little money, perhaps not even round-trip bus fare into the city, are bussed in for demonstrations, fed and given a bit of money, perhaps to go on their separate ways after a free ride to the capital, perhaps bussed back to from whence they came. The result is photo ops for the impressionable but these tactics are no indication of real grass roots support. 

In any case, as people were headed into the city for Martinelli’s show of force, a Spanish appeals court overturned a dismissal in Spain of a case in which Martinelli had been charged with kickbacks and the laundering of such proceeds with respect to the Via Brasil makeover. In that scheme, Martinelli is under investigation for overstating by 100 percent the price of steel for the project, and funneling the difference to himself and persons and entities associated with himself through shell companies or the accounts of complicit businesses, conniving with the multinational construction companies FCC and Odebrecht to do so. The investigation was thrown out by a lower Spanish court by the penal bench of the Audiencia Real has revived it.

So, if you care to listen to the folks in the Martinelli organization, it’s a Spanish tentacle of an overarching conspiracy against their leader.

UPDATE: Just after this story was posted the reputable Milan daily Corriere della Sera reported that Italian authorities have arrested Chichi De Obarrio and are holding him pending extradition hearings. See here.

 

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Hightower, Trickle-down economics on the way out

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Z-man
“I don’t go for these trickle-down economics. I don’t want some rich guy trickling on me.” — Zolton Ferency.

The end of trickle-down economics

by Jim Hightower — OtherWords

The past year proves that a lot of conventional economic wisdom is neither true nor wise. For example:

1) “We don’t have the money.”

The power elites tell us it would be nice to do the big-ticket reforms America needs, but the money just isn’t there. Then a pandemic slammed into America, and suddenly trillions of dollars gushed out of Washington for everything from subsidizing meatpackers to developing vaccines, revealing that the money is there.

2) “We can’t increase the federal debt!”

Yet Trump and the Republican Congress didn’t hesitate to shove the national debt through the roof in 2017 to let a few corporations and billionaires pocket a $2 trillion-dollar tax giveaway. If those drunken spenders can use federal borrowing to make the likes of Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg richer, we can borrow funds for such productive national needs as infrastructure investment and quality education for all.

3) “The rich are the ‘makers’ who contribute the most to society.”

This silly myth quickly melted right in front of us as soon as the coronavirus arrived, making plain that the most valuable people are nurses, grocery clerks, teachers, postal employees, and millions of other mostly low-wage people. So let’s capitalize on the moment to demand policies that reward these grassroots makers instead of Wall Street’s billionaire takers.

4) “Tax cuts drive economic growth for all.”

They always claim that freeing corporations from the “burden” of taxes will encourage CEOs to invest in worker productivity and — voila — wages will miraculously rise. This scam has never worked for anyone but the scammers, and it’s now obvious to the great majority of workers that the best way to increase wages… is to increase wages!

Enact a $15 minimum wage and restore collective bargaining. Workers will pocket more and spend more, and the economy will rise.

Percolate-up economics works. Trickle-down does not.

 

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Joshua Tewksbury liderará STRI

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JT
“El futuro de los trópicos es el futuro de nuestro mundo, y no hay otro instituto que haya hecho más por nuestra comprensión de los ecosistemas tropicales que STRI”, dijo Tewksbury. Foto por STRI.

Tewksbury es nombrado director del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales

por STRI

Joshua Tewksbury, director ejecutivo interino y director del centro global de Future Earth en los Estados Unidos, ha sido nombrado director del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI), cargo que ocupará a partir del 6 de julio del año en curso.

Tewksbury es un ecologista con más de dos décadas de experiencia en investigación sobre conservación ambiental y biodiversidad, y desde hace casi una década ejerce como director ejecutivo en institutos internacionales de investigación. En Future Earth, un programa de investigación global dedicado a la sostenibilidad y a cambios globales, Tewksbury lidera una red de decenas de miles de científicos y gestiona una amplia gama de proyectos, programas y alianzas de estudios enfocados en la conservación.

Con sede en la Ciudad de Panamá, República de Panamá, STRI promueve el incremento y difusión del conocimiento sobre la biodiversidad del trópico, sus culturas y su importancia para el bienestar humano. Como director, Tewksbury supervisará a más de 400 empleados, un presupuesto anual de $ 35 millones y las instalaciones de investigación del instituto en Panamá y sitios de campo en África, Asia y las Américas. Además de sus científicos residentes y personal de apoyo, las instalaciones de STRI son utilizadas anualmente por unos 1.400 científicos visitantes, becarios pre y postdoctorales y estudiantes de todo el mundo.

“La carrera profesional de Tewksbury en ciencias de la conservación ambiental demuestra un compromiso a largo plazo con el trabajo a través de fronteras disciplinarias y geográficas”, dijo Lonnie G. Bunch, secretario del Smithsonian. “Es un líder experimentado y con perspectiva a futuro, con la visión para guiar la impactante investigación sobre biodiversidad que el Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales ha avanzado durante más de un siglo”.

En su cargo actual en Future Earth, Tewksbury supervisa docenas de proyectos de investigación interdisciplinarios, desde la evaluación de factores que amenazan la biodiversidad hasta la comprensión de la relación entre el bienestar humano y del medio ambiente. También ha fundado iniciativas como el Earth Leadership Program (Programa de Liderazgo por la Tierra), que apoya el desarrollo de habilidades para investigadores académicos que estudian los desafíos de la sostenibilidad. Anteriormente, de 2012 a 2015, fue director fundador del Instituto Luc Hoffman, un centro de investigación global dentro de World Wildlife Fund International, especializado en la ciencia de la conservación.

Tewksbury también es cofundador y editor ejecutivo de la revista Anthropocene, una publicación que destaca soluciones para la sostenibilidad. Ocupa cargos docentes en la Universidad de Colorado Boulder en el Estado de Colorado y en el Departamento de Ciencias y Políticas Ambientales de la Universidad George Mason. También fue nombrado académico senior en la Escuela de Sostenibilidad Ambiental Global de la Universidad Estatal de Colorado y es miembro de la Junta de Estudios Ambientales y Toxicología de la Academia Nacional de Ciencias.

“El futuro de los trópicos es el futuro de nuestro mundo, y no hay otro instituto que haya hecho más por nuestra comprensión de los ecosistemas tropicales que STRI”, dijo Tewksbury. “Me siento honrado y emocionado de unirme al Smithsonian y de tener la oportunidad de liderar al principal instituto de investigaciones tropicales del mundo en momentos en que la importancia de los trópicos y sus culturas nunca ha sido mayor”.

A lo largo de su carrera como investigador, Tewksbury ha publicado más de 85 artículos científicos sobre temas de conservación, cambio climático e historia natural, incluyendo las relaciones y la diversidad de plantas, animales y hongos tropicales. Tiene una licenciatura en biología de campo de Prescott College y un doctorado de la Universidad de Montana en biología y ecología de organismos.

Tewksbury será el sucesor de Matthew Larsen, quien se desempeñó como director de STRI desde agosto de 2014 hasta su jubilación en junio de 2020. Oris Sanjur, Directora Asociada de Administración Científica de STRI, se ha desempeñado como directora interina desde entonces, liderando exitosamente a STRI durante los últimos nueve meses.

Los miembros del comité de búsqueda incluyeron a John Davis, director interino, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Lisa Barnett, directora de desarrollo, STRI; Phyllis D. Coley, distinguida profesora de biología de la Universidad de Utah; Gladys Navarro de Gerbaud, presidenta de la Fundación Smithsonian de Panamá; Fernando Santos Granero, antropólogo investigador senior, STRI; Steven Hoch, presidente de la junta asesora de STRI; Steven L. Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director del Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute; y Rachel Page, bióloga investigadora de STRI.

 

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Israeli bid to sabotage US-Iran detente?

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Saviz
The Iranian vessel, Saviz, was targeted by limpet mines in the Red Sea, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported on Tuesday, citing information obtained by its reporter. “The vessel Iran Saviz has been stationed in the Red Sea for the past few years to support Iranian commandos sent on the commercial vessel (anti-piracy) escort missions,” Tasnim reported. ABNA photo.

Warnings of attempt to sabotage diplomacy as Israel reportedly attacks Iranian ship

by Jake Johnson — Common Dreams

Israel reportedly informed US officials that it was behind a Tuesday mine attack on an Iranian vessel stationed in the Red Sea, a dangerous escalation that came on the same day American and Iranian negotiators took part in European-led talks in Vienna on the 2015 nuclear agreement.

The timing of the attack, which Iranian media outlets reported Tuesday without assigning blame, raised suspicions that it was carried out with the express purpose of undermining steps toward a diplomatic solution on the nuclear accord. In 2018, US President Donald Trump violated the agreement, which Israel’s right-wing government has opposed from the beginning.

“Israel appears to be stepping up attacks on Iran to undermine diplomacy,” argued Mohammad Ali Shabani, editor of Amwaj.media. “Same Catch 22 for Tehran as before: respond, and get blamed. Don’t respond, and invite further attacks. One exit: Statements of condemnation from Iran’s counterparts in Vienna.”

Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, tweeted in response to the mine attack that “some US lawmakers advocate for Israel to be in the room for any talks with Iran, presumably so they can blow negotiations up from the inside as well as the outside.”

The New York Times reported that while Israeli officials had yet to publicly comment on the attack as of Tuesday night, “an American official said the Israelis had notified the United States that its forces had struck the [Iranian] vessel at about 7:30 am local time.”

“There was no official Iranian confirmation of the attack as of Tuesday night,” the Times noted, “but several Telegram social media channels operated by members of the Revolutionary Guards blamed Israel for the explosion.”

Spoke w/@DeutscheWelle about Vienna talks & explained how resolving nuclear issue w/#Iran has bipartisan support among Americans. The internat’l community saved the deal despite efforts by Trump admin to dismantle it. But watch as opponents of diplomacy still try to sabotage it pic.twitter.com/v0CdSD67yJ

— Assal Rad (@AssalRad) April 6, 2021

Saeed Khatizadeh, a spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, told reporters Wednesday morning that “no fatalities were caused by the incident, and technical evaluations on how the incident occurred and its origins are underway.”

The reported Israeli attack took place as Biden administration officials joined representatives from Europe, Iran, and other parties to the nuclear accord to discuss a potential US return to the 2015 agreement, which Biden says he supports.

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and lead negotiator in the talks, said Tuesday that the talks are on “the right track” but “it’s too soon to say it has been successful.”

Anti-war groups in the United States are hoping for a diplomatic breakthrough following years of saber-rattling by Trump, whose aggressive rhetoric and actions repeatedly dragged the United States and Iran to the brink of all-out military conflict.

“The American people, and the Iranian-American community in particular, want the Biden administration to resolve our ongoing disputes with Iran through diplomacy,” Abdi said in a statement earlier this week. “Under Trump, the specter of war loomed large and was only narrowly avoided. It is encouraging to see renewed momentum toward a return to the deal under Biden.”

“The US can’t afford to let this window pass without restoring the strong nonproliferation agreement that already navigated the difficult politics of Washington and Tehran,” he added. “It is time to reseal the deal.”

 

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ITF, Solidaridad con los canaleros

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ITF
 

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Bernal, Constitutional hijackers

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Burt and Claudia
In Italian, “Il Gattopardo” means “The Leopard.” But the story an the term have taken on a political meaning in Spanish.

The hijacked constitution

by Miguel Antonio Bernal


The flowering of constituent assemblies has been accomplished with the desire to create, where it never existed, or to consolidate and recover, democratic institutionality …

Simeón Emilio Gonzalez H.

 

Pseudo-constitutionalism, which is nothing more than to make something seem constitutional when it is not, is in full swing in our midst. The fugitives from the movement for a constituent assembly, as well as their determined foes, have joined forces – from their different trenches – with the firm intention of promoting Creole Gatopardism.*

They forget and attempt to make us forget that “The construction of democracy can only be done by convening the whole of society, that is, only by convening a full and participatory founding constituent assembly” (Simeón Emilio González H, 1999).

Deprived by inexcusable ignorance of theoretical, doctrinal and historical knowledge of the meaning, scope and collective advantages of a constituent process for society, they have chosen to take refuge — from their vantage point – in the confused and abusive use of a vocabulary with concepts, terms and words that, to date, have been useful for their political and electoral tasks. They also delve into classic opportunism, befitting chameleons and opossums.

Thus they haven’t hesitated in their desire to hijack the valuable history – of more than 200 years — of constituent power to try to make a sick and distrustful society believe that the escapist contraption of ‘the parallel assembly’ will allow them to achieve a lifestyle, to find a way to continue in the community as they have.

They try to hijack the constituent assembly so that they can continue to make mediocrity reign and make people feel at ease in a pigsty, in a pond devoid of values, principles and truths. From their well of immorality they seek to avoid the necessity of taking citizens’ reaction into account. Hijacking the constituent assembly, they seek to deprive citizens of the democratic, participatory, peaceful, popular instrument most appropriate for democratic and democratizing debate – the means by which to regain control of society, which is already kidnapped.

It is up to us to rescue the hijacked process from the labyrinth and tangle created by the discredited politicians who rule the roost and who are not interested in mitigating the damage caused by their actions. Nor those of their political parties, which have only served to reserve for themselves perks and privileges at the cost of other people’s sacrifices.

 

* This term derives from the Spanish rendition of Il Gattopardo, an Italian 1958 novel and 1963 movie about a decadent 1860s Sicilian prince in a conflict with Garibaldi’s redshirt rebels. The prince uses every trick in the book to make it look like he’s delivering change but all the while ensuring that nothing changes. His victories are hollow and fleeting.

 

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Pandemic, stress, body chemistry and your weight

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WHO
The COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful event. There are, however, known ways to reduce stress. WHO graphic.

Unwanted weight gain or weight loss during the pandemic? Blame your stress hormones

by Lina Begdache, Binghamton University, State University of New York

CC BY-ND

If you have experienced unwanted weight gain or weight loss during the pandemic, you are not alone. According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, 61% of U.S. adults reported undesired weight change since the pandemic began.

The results, released in March 2021, showed that during the pandemic, 42% of respondents gained unwanted weight – 29 pounds on average – and nearly 10% of those people gained more than 50 pounds. On the flip side, nearly 18% of Americans said they experienced unwanted weight loss – on average, a loss of 26 pounds.

Another study, published on March 22, 2021, assessed weight change in 269 people from February to June 2020. The researchers found, on average, that people gained a steady 1.5 pounds per month.

I am a nutritional neuroscientist, and my research investigates the relationship between diet, lifestyle, stress and mental distress such as anxiety and depression.

The common denominator to changes in body weight, especially during a pandemic, is stress. Another poll done by the American Psychological Association in January 2021 found that about 84% of U.S. adults experienced at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress in the prior two weeks.

The findings about unwanted weight changes make sense in a stressful world, especially in the context of the body’s stress response, better known as the fight-or-flight response.

A 3D model of cortisol
Neurotransmitters – like cortisol, seen here – mediate the fight-or-flight response and
can have a huge impact on eating and behavior.
Ben Mills/Wikimedia Commons

Fight, flight and food

The fight-or-flight response is an innate reaction that evolved as a survival mechanism. It empowers humans to react swiftly to acute stress – like a predator – or adapt to chronic stress – like a food shortage. When faced with stress, the body wants to keep the brain alert. It decreases levels of some hormones and brain chemicals in order to turn down behaviors that won’t help in an urgent situation, and it increases other hormones that will.

When under stress, the body lowers levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and melatonin. Serotonin regulates emotions, appetite and digestion. So, low levels of serotonin increase anxiety and can change a person’s eating habits. Dopamine – another feel-good neurotransmitter – regulates goal-oriented motivation. Dwindling levels of dopamine can translate into lower motivation to exercise, maintain a healthy lifestyle or perform daily tasks. When people are under stress, they also produce less of the sleep hormone melatonin, leading to trouble sleeping.

Epinephrine and norepinephrine mediate the physiological changes associated with stress and are elevated in stressful situations. These biochemical changes can cause mood swings, impact a persons’s eating habits, reduce goal-oriented motivation and disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm.

Overall, stress can throw your eating habits and motivation to exercise or eat healthy way out of balance, and this last year has certainly been a stressful one for everyone.

A spoon with chocolate spread
Sugars give an immediate but short-lasting mood boost. MarianVejcik/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Easy calories, low motivation

In both of the studies, people self-reported their weight, and the researchers didn’t collect any information about physical activity. But, one can cautiously assume that most of the weight changes were due to people gaining or losing body fat.

So why did people gain or lose weight this last year? And what explains the dramatic differences?

Many people find comfort in high-calorie food. That is because chocolate and other sweets can make you happy by boosting serotonin levels in the short term.
However, the blood clears the extra sugar very quickly, so the mental boost is extremely short-lived, leading people to eat more. Eating for comfort can be a natural response to stress, but when combined with the lower motivation to exercise and consumption of low-nutrient, calorie-dense food, stress can result in unwanted weight gain.

What about weight loss? In a nutshell, the brain is connected to the gut through a two-way communication system called the vagus nerve. When you are stressed, your body inhibits the signals that travel through the vagus nerve and slows down the digestive process. When this happens, people experience fullness.

The pandemic left many people confined to their homes, bored and with plenty of food and little to distract them. When adding the stress factor to this scenario, you have a perfect situation for unwanted weight changes. Stress will always be a part of life, but there are things you can do – like practicing positive self-talk – that can help ward off the stress response and some of its unwanted consequences.

Lina Begdache, Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Binghamton University, State University of New York

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Editorials: “Crystal generation?” and Is Biden’s package too big, or too small?

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teach
Graphic from a growing alliance of teachers and other school employees who are set to resist classrooms full of unvaccinated people, responding to the archbishop’s epithet.

The archbishop mocks the youth

What a shame that the new generations of technology and those that we have raised, are generations of crystal that are being educated for a prospective life, as if this life were to be permanent on this Earth.

Archbishop Ulloa

Is he going to blow off the younger generations, blow off those who use their educations to take critical views of the world around them and its perils and promises, blow off those housed to his institution’s profit and public expense in SENNIAF facilities? Yeah, well.

All we learned, we knew before. The man tends to side with wealth and power, to put the finances of his institution before the needs of most of the congregation he leads.

None of us are forever, and he isn’t either. Maybe the next generation of Panamanian church leaders will prize transparency, candor and justice more than he does, and be less impressed by those whose embrace of worldly vices has been so very profitable.

Young people should not be expected to quietly sacrifice present-day justice, their futures, their progeny and planet Earth itself for the sake of their elders’ follies.

 

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The unit prices of Sidewinder, AMRAAM, and HARM missiles as per US DoD’s official 2021 Fiscal Year budget document. So you want to consider the multiplier effects, positive and negative? On the positive side, there are folks who make these and they get paid, with the execs and shareholders generally not investing into anything that creates jobs, but employees paying for food, housing, the things they like to buy – and thus creating jobs for those who make or sell those things. On the negative side, they are single-use. BOOOM!!! But that’s not the end of it. That suspected terrorist who was at the wedding party that was rocketed? Maybe they got him and perhaps you want to score that as a gain. The late bride’s 12-year-old nephew who survived with only slight wounds because he was standing a ways back from where the rocket hit? Many may be the costs of the burning desire for revenge, even if the expense of dealing with his PTSD may be “externalized” to “the enemy.” And then there are the propaganda costs of telling the American people that it never happened, imprisoning whistleblowers who demonstrate that it certainly did, and telling that kid and many more like him to get over it. Graphic from Real Air War.

Is it too much? Is it too little?

Three trillion US dollars is an awful lot of money. The amount is comparable to the special tax breaks given to large corporations and the very rich by this past Republican administration.

Compared, however, to the losses over 50 years of US industrial decline, three trillion bucks isn’t very much. Nor is it all that much if you consider the cost of constant US warfare, which include wars in places where, far from being authorized by Congressional declarations of war, the existence and places of the conflicts are often top secrets that most members of Congress are not allowed to know, let alone the American people. It’s less than the US subsidies given to the oil industry, any way you want to count it. It’s three years worth of US coal subsidies.

Out THOSE thing, however, and the companies and owners taking the cut in subsidies and tax breaks are likely to stop giving so much to politicians who have failed to do their bidding. There would be not only smaller campaign coffers, but the costs of makeovers into “man of the people” – or woman of the people – images for those who intend to continue in Congress.

All of which comparisons, however, ought to be beside the main point. Does the US economy need to fix up or replace roads and bridges that already exist but are so deteriorated that soon they may become unusable ruins? Does the USA need a lot of electric vehicle charging stations for the evolving worldwide low-carbon economy? Do Americans need a new cellular power grid to stop wasting power that’s generated and just dissipates in the antiquated power lines? Is there a need for nationwide broadband to bring areas without it into the modern economy? Do US schools need extensive physical renovations?

Those things are needed. They aren’t luxuries. They aren’t boondoggles. Those are remedies for decades of neglect.

And do we need to put Americans back to work at jobs that pay well and enhance the overall economy, and while doing it spend money on a better educated work force? For some senior citizens, not at all! They got theirs, and they finished their educations years ago, and have no need to look at a book again. Will we hear them complain about the dumb help when they get sent to a nursing home to die?

So, looking to the left side of the spectrum, not enough?

Of course not. Can the USA remain competitive in the world if it has no international project to match or better China’s Belt and Road Initiative other than to bully countries like Panama for doing business with the Chinese? Can the Americas feed themselves without restoring and protecting the fisheries of an ocean planet? Can the US agricultural heartlands remain such if water supplies are contaminated by fracking and leaky oil pipelines? Can the red state / blue state divide be healed if there are still vast areas of “flyover country,” so cut off from transportation, economic opportunities and communications that all the young people who can do so leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere?

Joe Biden’s current package barely touches most of those needs, which will also be expensive to meet. (Even more expensive in the long run would be to pretend that these needs don’t exist.) Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz is absolutely right that the current proposal isn’t enough. It’s just an initial payment.

Candor can spur some furious reactions, but only in twisted political times does candor get treated as a punishable offense. AOC told us the truth, which doesn’t mean that she’s leading a charge against Joe Biden’s $3 trillion package.

 

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          Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.

Eleanor Roosevelt          

 

Bear in mind…

The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why and how it is said.

Vaclav Havel

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

Harriet Beecher Stowe

The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come.

Peter Ustinov

 

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Los árboles tropicales más grandes y el cambio climático

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Los científicos piensan que el cambio climático puede tener un mayor impacto en los árboles más grandes de los bosques tropicales, y la muerte de estos gigantes tiene un gran impacto en el bosque, pero debido a que estos árboles monumentales son pocos y distantes entre sí, sus causas de muerte son desconocidas. Este árbol de ceiba gigante (Ceiba pentandra) a lo largo de uno de los senderos naturales en Isla Barro Colorado en Panamá fue durante muchos años el lugar favorito para tomar fotografías. Foto por Jorge Alemán, STRI.

¿Cómo responderán los árboles tropicales más grandes al cambio climático?

por STRI

Los árboles gigantes en los bosques tropicales, testigos de siglos de civilización, pueden quedar atrapados en un circuito de retroalimentación peligroso según un nuevo informe en Nature Plants presentado por investigadores del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI) en Panamá y la Universidad de Birmingham en el Reino Unido. los árboles almacenan la mitad del carbono en los bosques tropicales maduros, pero podrían estar en riesgo de muerte como resultado del cambio climático, liberando cantidades masivas de carbono a la atmósfera.

Evan Gora, becario postdoctoral Tupper de STRI, estudia el papel de los rayos en los bosques tropicales. Adriane Esquivel-Muelbert, profesora en la Universidad de Birmingham, estudia los efectos del cambio climático en la Amazonía. Los dos se unieron para descubrir qué mata a los grandes árboles tropicales. Pero mientras investigaban cientos de artículos, descubrieron que no se sabe casi nada sobre los árboles más grandes y cómo mueren porque son extremadamente raros en los estudios de campo.

“Los árboles grandes son difíciles de medir”, comentó Esquivel-Muelbert. “Son la pesadilla de una gira de campo, porque siempre tenemos que volver con una escalera para subir y buscar un lugar para medir la circunferencia por encima de los contrafuertes. Toma mucho tiempo. Los estudios que se centran en las razones por las que los árboles mueren no tienen suficiente información para los árboles más grandes y, a menudo, terminan excluyéndolos de su análisis”.

“Debido a que generalmente carecemos de los datos necesarios para decirnos qué mata los árboles que tienen más de aproximadamente 50 centímetros de diámetro, eso deja fuera a la mitad de la biomasa forestal en la mayoría de los bosques”, comentó Gora.

Solo alrededor del 1% de los árboles en los bosques tropicales maduros llegan a este tamaño. Otros desde abajo, esperan su turno a la sombra.

La otra cosa que hace que los bosques tropicales sean tan especiales, la alta biodiversidad, también dificulta el estudio de los árboles grandes: hay tantas especies diferentes, y muchas de ellas son extremadamente raras.

“Debido a que solo el 1 al 2% de los árboles grandes en un bosque mueren cada año, los investigadores deben tomar muestras de cientos de individuos de una especie determinada para comprender por qué están muriendo”, comentó Gora. “Eso puede implicar buscar árboles en un área enorme”.

Imagínese un estudio de la presión arterial en personas que han vivido hasta los 103 años. Habría que ubicar y evaluar a personas mayores de ciudades y pueblos de todo el mundo: una propuesta costosa, compleja desde el punto de vista logístico y que requiere mucho tiempo.

Una gran cantidad de evidencia muestra que los árboles están muriendo más rápido en los bosques tropicales. Esto está afectando la capacidad de los bosques para funcionar y, en particular, para capturar y almacenar dióxido de carbono.

“Sabemos que la muerte de los árboles más grandes y más viejos tiene más consecuencias que la muerte de los árboles más pequeños”, comentó Gora. “Los árboles grandes pueden correr un riesgo particular porque los factores que los matan parecen estar aumentando más rápidamente que los factores que parecen ser importantes para la mortalidad de árboles más pequeños”.

En gran parte de los trópicos, el cambio climático está provocando tormentas más severas y sequías más frecuentes e intensas. Debido a que los árboles grandes se elevan por encima del resto, es más probable que sean impactados por un rayo o dañados por el viento. Debido a que tienen que extraer agua subterránea más alto que los otros árboles, es más probable que se vean afectados por la sequía.

Con la esperanza de comprender mejor lo que les está sucediendo a los árboles grandes, Gora y Esquivel-Muelbert identificaron tres lagunas de conocimiento evidentes. Primero, casi no se sabe nada sobre enfermedades, insectos y otras causas biológicas de muerte en árboles grandes. En segundo lugar, debido a que los árboles grandes a menudo quedan fuera de los análisis, la relación entre la causa de muerte y el tamaño no está clara. Y, finalmente, casi todos los estudios detallados de grandes árboles tropicales son de algunos lugares como Manaus en Brasil e Isla Barro Colorado en Panamá.

Para comprender cómo mueren los árboles grandes, existe una compensación entre esforzarse en medir una gran cantidad de árboles y medirlos con la frecuencia suficiente para identificar la causa de la muerte. Gora y Esquivel-Muelbert están de acuerdo en que una combinación de tecnología de drones y vistas satelitales del bosque ayudará a descubrir cómo mueren estos grandes árboles, pero este enfoque solo funcionará si se combina con observaciones intensas, estandarizadas y en el terreno, como las utilizadas por la red internacional de sitios de estudio ForestGEO del Smithsonian.

Esquivel-Muelbert espera que el ímpetu de esta investigación provenga de una apreciación compartida por estos misteriosos monumentos vivientes:

“Creo que son fascinantes para todos”, comentó. “Cuando ves a uno de esos gigantes en el bosque, son tan grandes. Mi colega e investigadora amazónica, Carolina Levis, comentó que son los monumentos que tenemos en la Amazonía donde no tenemos grandes pirámides ni edificios antiguos… Esa es la sensación, que han pasado por tanto. Son fascinantes, no solo en el sentido científico, sino también en otro sentido. Te conmueven de alguna manera”.

 

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La corona de flores del Dipteryx oleifera, uno de los árboles más grandes de Isla Barro Colorado, Panamá, elevándose sobre el bosque. Los árboles grandes pueden estar más expuestos a los efectos del cambio climático: sequías más frecuentes y severas, fuertes vientos y relámpagos de fuertes tormentas. Foto por Evan Gora, STRI.

 

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Cuando cae un árbol grande, parece que se ha disparado una bomba y se crea un gran claro. Si el cambio climático hace que la tasa de muerte de árboles grandes se dispare, la estructura del sotobosque podría cambiar drásticamente. Foto por Jorge Alemán, STRI.

 

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Imagen de dron: los árboles tropicales pueden llegar a medir más de 77 metros (250 pies) de altura. Observe a la persona vestida de rojo en el suelo del bosque. Foto por Evan Gora, STRI

 

El financiamiento para este estudio provino de STRI, la Fundación Nacional de Ciencias de EEUU y el proyecto TreeMort como parte del Programa Marco de Investigación e Innovación de la UE.

Referencia: Gora, E.M. and Esquivel-Muelbert, A. 2021. Implications of size-dependent tree mortality for tropical forest carbon dynamics. Nature Plants. doi: 10.1038/s41477-021-00879-0

 

 

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