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University of Panama to vote on June 29 – English story with Spanish videos

Si puede soportarlo, este canal de YouTube tiene entrevistas con los seis candidatos a rector, cada una un poco menos de una hora de duración. ~ If you can stand it, this YouTube channel has interviews with all six candidates for rector of the University of Panama, each of them just under an hour long.

A scandal-tainted University
of Panama votes on June 29

by Eric Jackson

On June 29 the University of Panama — including all of its branches — goes to the polls to elect a new rector, deans and vice deans in each department and the heads of the regional university centers. The outgoing rector and some of his entourage are the subjects of at least six different criminal investigations by the prosecutors of the Public Ministry, with other complaints winding their ways through the Comptroller General’s office. These include probes of large and valuable tracts of university land essentially given away to people with political connections, at least $3.5 million missing from the university’s treasury without explanation over the past few years, a “private foundation” into which university funds were poured for years without accountability, “innovation centers” (CIDETEs) whose purchases the administration refuses to explain, an employee on leave of absence after police arrested him for allegedly smuggling drugs using a university vehicle, people getting degrees without having done the class time and work to earn them — and the audits have only gone back three or four years of rector Gustavo García de Paredes’s 24-year reign at the university.

Although he is not a candidate, the self-proclaimed “Rector Magnifico” has been handing out raises and bonuses as if trying to buy votes. For which, if any, of the six candidates for rector García de Paredes would like to tip the scales is not a matter of public knowledge. It may be presumed that physics professor and former Sciences Faculty dean Eduardo Flores, who ran for rector five years ago, would not be favored by the man who beat him. But an open endorsement of a favored successor would be something like the kiss of death.

The last time Flores clobbered García de Paredes in the student vote, did better than expected among the faculty and was trounced by the non-academic employees who owe their jobs to the rector. That added up to a Flores win in total raw votes, but when the heavier weight to faculty and staff choices was calculated, a rout in favor of García de Paredes.

The student body is almost entirely different from five years ago, but the body of university employees is by and large the product of a political patronage machine that has been in power for a generation. However, if such employees might be expected to be obsequious yes-people, maybe not when prosecutors and auditors are nosing around and asking questions. Can the fix be in under such conditions?

In a way it already is. Many of the faculty and staff have received extra pay for consulting or other services — often of questionable value to the university — and have become reliant on that income. None of the six candidates for rector — Flores, Argentina Yin, Justo Medrano, Dorindo Cortez, Nicolás Jerome and Gilberto Boutin — are talking about eliminating sinecures. They are all talking about various Rs: reform, renewal, rehabilitation or renovation (but not revolution). Flores is promising that nobody will lose his or her job. No candidate is mentioning the CIDETEs or any moves to set aside the land transactions. Inflated salaries are a taboo subject. Accountability for what has gone on is off the agenda. Everything is in prospective terms, as if a generation of scandal had never happened. The result is petty bickering about things like who would have a right to retire and then double dip atop a pension with an administrator’s salary. As law professor Miguel Antonio Bernal put it, “the current UP campaign is like this: prudish, hypocritical, vulgar, anarchic, dirty and biased. Out of it will come a new rector and new or re-elected deans and regional center directors.” Flores, playing to people who voted decisively against him five years ago, is content to make the argument that the university must make mostly unspecified changes if it is to survive as an institution. It’s as if there is a general consensus that things can’t go on as they have, but that everyone who believes it thinks that his or her particular gravy train can and must keep running on time.

Is García de Paredes whispering to people about the covert anointment of a successor? It could be. But some of his recent ploys would seem to have undermined the credibility of such a thing. Yes, he did send out a tiny band of student sycophants to block the street and do battle with the riot squad in order to demonstrate displeasure with the investigations. All it showed was that he doesn’t have actual campus radicals on his bandwagon like he once did, and that, old apparatchik of the dictatorship that he is, his ties with the forces of repression aren’t so good anymore. He offered the law school’s most internationally famous graduate, entertainer and former Tourism Minister Rubén Blades, an honorary doctorate — and Blades turned him down, at least pending a less scandalous new university administration taking office.

Is García de Paredes’s patronage machine like Gorbachev’s Communists, or the last Aztecs? Perhaps. They don’t want to go, but they probably can’t stay under the same terms. An era does seem to be ending, albeit with an apologetic whimper.


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Sotomayor: police searches and The New Jim Crow

Madame Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Photo by the WEOC.

Dissent in Utah v. Strieff

by Sonia Sotomayor

For generations, black and brown parents have given their children “the talk” — instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger — all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them.

[Editor’s note: The following is the full text of a dissenting opinion by US Supreme Court decision Sonia Sotomayor, on what would seem to be a minor evidentiary matter. Are you one of those US citizens in Panama who supposes that the US Constitution and the exclusionary rule implied from it apply here? Wise up. We have an entirely different jurisprudence here in Panama, of the Civil Code rather than the Common Law family of legal systems. But with that caveat, this dissent, issued on the losing side of a 5-3 vote, is of enormous importance to US politics and law in this election year. One of the presumed major party candidates, the one who has the backing of most of the nation’s white supremacists, is openly running on a platform advocating racial and religious profiling of individuals by US law enforcement agencies. He would make what is notoriously de facto into something de jure, and he would have to power to nominate US Supreme Court justices who would enforce that program. (One of the first categories of people whom we can infer from that candidates statements is to be screened out of any rights would be those with names like Sonia Sotomayor — something that ought to be a matter of concern to any Panamanian thinking about travel to or through the United States.) Theoretically the law is supposed to be blind to partisan concerns as well as to race and nationality, but to put too much faith in that would be particularly naive in the USA in this election year. There are choices to be made and Madame Justice Sotomayor put her finger on one of the principal ones.]


No. 14–1373



[June 20, 2016]

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG joins as to Parts I, II, and III, dissenting.

The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants — even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant. Because the Fourth Amendment should prohibit, not permit, such misconduct, I dissent.


Minutes after Edward Strieff walked out of a South Salt Lake City home, an officer stopped him, questioned him, and took his identification to run it through a police database. The officer did not suspect that Strieff had done anything wrong. Strieff just happened to be the first person to leave a house that the officer thought might contain “drug activity.” App. 16–19. As the State of Utah concedes, this stop was illegal. App. 24. The Fourth Amendment protects people from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” An officer breaches that protection when he detains a pedestrian to check his license without any evidence that the person is engaged in a crime. Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 663 (1979); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21 (1968). The officer deepens the breach when he prolongs the detention just to fish further for evidence of wrongdoing. Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. ___, ___–___ (2015) (slip op., at 6–7). In his search for lawbreaking, the officer in this case himself broke the law.

The officer learned that Strieff had a “small traffic warrant.” App. 19. Pursuant to that warrant, he arrested Strieff and conducting a search incident to the arrest, discovered methamphetamine in Strieff’s pockets.

Utah charged Strieff with illegal drug possession. Before trial, Strieff argued that admitting the drugs into evidence would condone the officer’s misbehavior. The methamphetamine, he reasoned, was the product of the officer’s illegal stop. Admitting it would tell officers that unlawfully discovering even a “small traffic warrant” would give them license to search for evidence of unrelated offenses. The Utah Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Strieff. A majority of this Court now reverses.


It is tempting in a case like this, where illegal conduct by an officer uncovers illegal conduct by a civilian, to forgive the officer. After all, his instincts, although unconstitutional, were correct. But a basic principle lies at the heart of the Fourth Amendment: Two wrongs don’t make a right. See Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, 392 (1914). When “lawless police conduct” uncovers evidence of lawless civilian conduct, this Court has long required later criminal trials to exclude the illegally obtained evidence. Terry, 392 U.S., at 12; Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 655 (1961). For example, if an officer breaks into a home and finds a forged check lying around, that check may not be used to prosecute the homeowner for bank fraud. We would describe the check as “‘fruit of the poisonous tree.'” Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 488 (1963). Fruit that must be cast aside includes not only evidence directly found by an illegal search but also evidence “come at by exploitation of that illegality.” Ibid.

This “exclusionary rule” removes an incentive for officers to search us without proper justification. Terry, 392 U.S., at 12. It also keeps courts from being “made party to lawless invasions of the constitutional rights of citizens by permitting unhindered governmental use of the fruits of such invasions.” Id., at 13. When courts admit only lawfully obtained evidence, they encourage “those who formulate law enforcement polices, and the officers who implement them, to incorporate Fourth Amendment ideals into their value system.” Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 492 (1976). But when courts admit illegally obtained evidence as well, they reward “manifest neglect if not an open defiance of the prohibitions of the Constitution.” Weeks, 232 U.S., at 394.

Applying the exclusionary rule, the Utah Supreme Court correctly decided that Strieff’s drugs must be excluded because the officer exploited his illegal stop to discover them. The officer found the drugs only after learning of Strieff’s traffic violation; and he learned of Strieff’s traffic violation only because he unlawfully stopped Strieff to check his driver’s license.

The court also correctly rejected the State’s argument that the officer’s discovery of a traffic warrant unspoiled the poisonous fruit. The State analogizes finding the warrant to one of our earlier decisions, Wong Sun v. United States. There, an officer illegally arrested a person who, days later, voluntarily returned to the station to confess to committing a crime. 371 U.S., at 491. Even though the person would not have confessed “but for the illegal actions of the police,” id., at 488, we noted that the police did not exploit their illegal arrest to obtain the confession, id., at 491. Because the confession was obtained by “means sufficiently distinguishable” from the constitutional violation, we held that it could be admitted into evidence. Id., at 488, 491. The State contends that the search incident to the warrant-arrest here is similarly distinguishable from the illegal stop.

But Wong Sun explains why Strieff’s drugs must be excluded. We reasoned that a Fourth Amendment violation may not color every investigation that follows but it certainly stains the actions of officers who exploit the infraction. We distinguished evidence obtained by innocuous means from evidence obtained by exploiting misconduct after considering a variety of factors: whether a long time passed, whether there were “intervening circumstances,” and whether the purpose or flagrancy of the misconduct was “calculated” to procure the evidence. Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590, 603–604 (1975).

These factors confirm that the officer in this case discovered Strieff’s drugs by exploiting his own illegal conduct.The officer did not ask Strieff to volunteer his name only to find out, days later, that Strieff had a warrant against him. The officer illegally stopped Strieff and immediately ran a warrant check. The officer’s discovery of a warrant was not some intervening surprise that he could not have anticipated. Utah lists over 180,000 misdemeanor warrants in its database, and at the time of the arrest, Salt Lake County had a “backlog of outstanding warrants” so large that it faced the “potential for civil liability.” See Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2014 (2015) (Systems Survey) (Table 5a), online at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/249799.pdf (all Internet materials as last visited June 16, 2016); Inst. for Law and Policy Planning, Salt Lake County Criminal Justice System Assessment 6.7 (2004), online at http://www.slco.org/cjac/resources/SaltLakeCJSAfinal.pdf. The officer’s violation was also calculated to procure evidence. His sole reason for stopping Strieff, he acknowledged, was investigative — he wanted to discover whether drug activity was going on in the house Strieff had just exited. App. 17.

The warrant check, in other words, was not an “intervening circumstance” separating the stop from the search for drugs. It was part and parcel of the officer’s illegal “expedition for evidence in the hope that something might turn up.” Brown, 422 U.S., at 605. Under our precedents, because the officer found Strieff’s drugs by exploiting his own constitutional violation, the drugs should be excluded.



The Court sees things differently. To the Court, the fact that a warrant gives an officer cause to arrest a person severs the connection between illegal policing and the resulting discovery of evidence. Ante, at 7. This is a remarkable proposition: The mere existence of a warrant not only gives an officer legal cause to arrest and search a person, it also forgives an officer who, with no knowledge of the warrant at all, unlawfully stops that person on a whim or hunch.

To explain its reasoning, the Court relies on Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796 (1984). There, federal agents applied for a warrant to search an apartment but illegally entered the apartment to secure it before the judge issued the warrant. Id., at 800–801. After receiving the warrant,the agents then searched the apartment for drugs. Id., at 801. The question before us was what to do with the evidence the agents then discovered. We declined to suppress it because “[t]he illegal entry into petitioners’ apartment did not contribute in any way to discovery of the evidence seized under the warrant.” Id., at 815.

According to the majority, Segura involves facts “similar” to this case and “suggest[s]” that a valid warrant will clean up whatever illegal conduct uncovered it. Ante, at 6–7. It is difficult to understand this interpretation. In Segura, the agents’ illegal conduct in entering the apartment had nothing to do with their procurement of a search warrant. Here, the officer’s illegal conduct in stopping Strieff was essential to his discovery of an arrest warrant. Segura would be similar only if the agents used information they illegally obtained from the apartment to procure a search warrant or discover an arrest warrant. Precisely because that was not the case, the Court admitted the untainted evidence. 468 U.S., at 814.

The majority likewise misses the point when it calls the warrant check here a “‘negligibly burdensome precautio[n]'” taken for the officer’s “safety.” Ante, at 8 (quoting Rodriguez, 575 U.S., at ___ (slip op., at 7)). Remember, the officer stopped Strieff without suspecting him of committing any crime. By his own account, the officer did not fear Strieff. Moreover, the safety rationale we discussed in Rodriguez, an opinion about highway patrols, is conspicuously absent here. A warrant check on a highway “ensur[es] that vehicles on the road are operated safely and responsibly.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 6). We allow such checks during legal traffic stops because the legitimacy of a person’s driver’s license has a “close connection to roadway safety.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 7). A warrant check of a pedestrian on a sidewalk, “by contrast, is a measure aimed at ‘detect[ing] evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.'” Ibid. (quoting Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 40–41 (2000)). Surely we would not allow officers to warrant-check random joggers, dog walkers, and lemonade vendors just to ensure they pose no threat to anyone else.

The majority also posits that the officer could not have exploited his illegal conduct because he did not violate the Fourth Amendment on purpose. Rather, he made “good faith mistakes.” Ante, at 8. Never mind that the officer’s sole purpose was to fish for evidence. The majority casts his unconstitutional actions as “negligent” and therefore incapable of being deterred by the exclusionary rule. Ibid.

But the Fourth Amendment does not tolerate an officer’s unreasonable searches and seizures just because he did not know any better. Even officers prone to negligence can learn from courts that exclude illegally obtained evidence. Stone, 428 U.S., at 492. Indeed, they are perhaps the most in need of the education, whether by the judge’s opinion, the prosecutor’s future guidance, or an updated manual on criminal procedure. If the officers are in doubt about what the law requires, exclusion gives them an “incentive to err on the side of constitutional behavior.” United States v. Johnson, 457 U.S. 537, 561 (1982).


Most striking about the Court’s opinion is its insistence that the event here was “isolated,” with “no indication that this unlawful stop was part of any systemic or recurrent police misconduct.” Ante, at 8–9. Respectfully, nothing about this case is isolated. Outstanding warrants are surprisingly common. When a person with a traffic ticket misses a fine payment or court appearance, a court will issue a warrant. See, e.g.,Brennan Center for Justice, Criminal Justice Debt 23 (2010), online at https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/Fees%20and%20Fines%20FINAL.pdf. When a person on probation drinks alcohol or breaks curfew, a court will issue a warrant. See, e.g., Human Rights Watch, Profiting from Probation 1, 51 (2014), online at https: //www.hrw.org/report/2014/02/05 /profiting-probation/ americas-offender-funded-probation-industry. The States and Federal Government maintain databases with over 7.8 million outstanding warrants, the vast majority of which appear to be for minor offenses. See Systems Survey (Table 5a). Even these sources may not track the “staggering” numbers of warrants, “‘drawers and drawers'” full, that many cities issue for traffic violations and ordinance infractions. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Div., Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department 47, 55(2015) (Ferguson Report), online at https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/ferguson_ police_department_report.pdf. The county in this case has had a “backlog” of such warrants. See supra, at 4. The Department of Justice recently reported that in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, with a population of 21,000, 16,000 people had outstanding warrants against them. Ferguson Report, at 6, 55.

Justice Department investigations across the country have illustrated how these astounding numbers of warrants can be used by police to stop people without cause.In a single year in New Orleans, officers “made nearly 60,000 arrests, of which about 20,000 were of people with outstanding traffic or misdemeanor warrants from neighboring parishes for such infractions as unpaid tickets.” Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Div., Investigation of the New Orleans Police Department 29 (2011), online at https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2011/ 03/17/nopd_report.pdf. In the St. Louis metropolitan area, officers “routinely” stop people — on the street, at bus stops, or even in court — for no reason other than “an officer’s desire to check whether the subject had a municipal arrest warrant pending.” Ferguson Report, at 49, 57. In Newark, New Jersey, officers stopped 52,235 pedestrians within a 4-year period and ran warrant checks on 39,308 of them. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Div., Investigation of the Newark Police Department 8, 19, n. 15 (2014), online at https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2014/07/22/newark_findings_7-22-14.pdf. The Justice Department analyzed these warrant-checked stops and reported that “approximately 93% of the stops would have been considered unsupported by articulated reasonable suspicion.” Id., at 9, n. 7.

I do not doubt that most officers act in “good faith” and do not set out to break the law. That does not mean these stops are “isolated instance[s] of negligence,” however. Ante, at 8. Many are the product of institutionalized training procedures. The New York City Police Department long trained officers to, in the words of a District Judge, “stop and question first, develop reasonable suspicion later.” Ligon v. New York, 925 F. Supp. 2d 478, 537–538 (SDNY), stay granted on other grounds, 736 F. 3d 118 (CA2 2013). The Utah Supreme Court described as “‘routine procedure’ or ‘common practice'” the decision of Salt Lake City police officers to run warrant checks on pedestrians they detained without reasonable suspicion. State v. Topanotes, 2003 UT 30, ¶2, 76 P. 3d 1159, 1160. In the related context of traffic stops, one widely followed police manual instructs officers looking for drugs to “run at least a warrants check on all drivers you stop. Statistically, narcotics offenders are . . . more likely to fail to appear on simple citations, such as traffic or trespass violations, leading to the issuance of bench warrants. Discovery of an outstanding warrant gives you cause for an immediate custodial arrest and search of the suspect.” C. Remsberg, Tactics for Criminal Patrol 205–206 (1995); C. Epp et al., Pulled Over 23, 33–36 (2014).

The majority does not suggest what makes this case “isolated” from these and countless other examples. Nor does it offer guidance for how a defendant can prove that his arrest was the result of “widespread” misconduct. Surely it should not take a federal investigation of Salt Lake County before the Court would protect someone in Strieff’s position.


Writing only for myself, and drawing on my professional experiences, I would add that unlawful “stops” have severe consequences much greater than the inconvenience suggested by the name. This Court has given officers an array of instruments to probe and examine you. When we condone officers’ use of these devices without adequate cause, we give them reason to target pedestrians in an arbitrary manner. We also risk treating members of our communities as second-class citizens.

Although many Americans have been stopped for speeding or jaywalking, few may realize how degrading a stop can be when the officer is looking for more. This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants — so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact. Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 813 (1996). That justification must provide specific reasons why the officer suspected you were breaking the law, Terry, 392 U.S., at 21, but it may factor in your ethnicity, United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 886–887 (1975), where you live, Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 147 (1972), what you were wearing, United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 4–5 (1989), and how you behaved, Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 124–125 (2000). The officer does not even need to know which law you might have broken so long as he can later point to any possible infraction — even one that is minor, unrelated, or ambiguous. Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 154–155 (2004); Heien v. North Carolina, 574 U.S. ___ (2014).

The indignity of the stop is not limited to an officer telling you that you look like a criminal. See Epp, Pulled Over, at 5. The officer may next ask for your “consent” to inspect your bag or purse without telling you that you can decline. See Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 438 (1991). Regardless of your answer, he may order you to stand “helpless, perhaps facing a wall with [your] hands raised.” Terry, 392 U.S., at 17. If the officer thinks you might be dangerous, he may then “frisk” you for weapons. This involves more than just a pat down. As onlookers pass by, the officer may “‘feel with sensitive fingers every portion of [your] body. A thorough search [may] be made of [your] arms and armpits, waistline and back, the groin and area about the testicles, and entire surface of the legs down to the feet.'” Id., at 17, n. 13.

The officer’s control over you does not end with the stop. If the officer chooses, he may handcuff you and take you to jail for doing nothing more than speeding, jaywalking, or “driving [your] pickup truck . . . with [your] 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter . . . without [your] seat belt fastened.” Atwater v. Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318, 323–324 (2001). At the jail, he can fingerprint you, swab DNA from the inside of your mouth, and force you to “shower with a delousing agent” while you “lift [your] tongue, hold out [your] arms, turn around, and lift [your] genitals.” Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, 566 U.S. ___, ___–___ (2012) (slip op., at 2–3); Maryland v. King, 569 U.S. ___, ___ (2013) (slip op., at 28). Even if you are innocent, you will now join the 65 million Americans with an arrest record and experience the “civil death” of discrimination by employers, landlords, and whoever else conducts a background check. Chin, The New Civil Death, 160 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1789, 1805 (2012); see J. Jacobs, The Eternal Criminal Record 33–51 (2015); Young & Petersilia, Keeping Track, 129 Harv. L. Rev.1318, 1341–1357 (2016). And, of course, if you fail to pay bail or appear for court, a judge will issue a warrant to render you “arrestable on sight” in the future. A. Goffman, On the Run 196 (2014).

This case involves a suspicionless stop, one in which the officer initiated this chain of events without justification.As the Justice Department notes, supra, at 8, many innocent people are subjected to the humiliations of these unconstitutional searches. The white defendant in this case shows that anyone’s dignity can be violated in this manner. See M. Gottschalk, Caught 119–138 (2015). But it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny. See M. Alexander, The New Jim Crow 95–136 (2010). For generations, black and brown parents have given their children “the talk” — instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger — all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them. See, e.g., W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903); J. Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963); T. Coates, Between the World and Me (2015).

By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.

We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. See L. Guinier & G. Torres, The Miner’s Canary 274–283 (2002). They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.

* * *

I dissent.


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The Panama News blog links, June 20, 2016


The Panama News blog links

Marketplace, Panama Canal expands as trade falls flat

Container Management, Alianz questions the use of tugs in the new locks

La Estrella, ACP admite a la Fiscalía que GUPC presentó montos inflados

BBC, How to inspire a new generation of female engineers

Tanker Shipping & Trade, Tankers locked out of expanded PanCanal benefits

NPR, Russia launches biggest and most powerful icebreaker

Navy Times, US Navy and Coast Guard need more icebreakers now

MarineLink, Demolition: spring cleaning for the fleet?

Telemetro, Gabriel Torres deja el fútbol de Venezuela para jugar en Suiza

Scout, SF Giants sign Rubén Tejada to a minor league contract

Luxemberger Wort, Mossack Fonseca demands prosecution of arrested employee

Fair Observer, Panama Papers point to shifting regulatory landscape for banks

Lexology, Panama and the corporate failure to prevent tax evasion

ANP, ATP tomará acciones contra Airbnb

Gordon, El Bloqueo: the continuing US embargo against Cuba

The Guardian, Rio de Janeiro state declares financial calamity

CBC, How Canada got into bed with tax havens

Video, Bases del CD exigen renuncias de Martinelli y Cortés

Chiriquí Natural, Actualización Río Tabasará y situación Barro Blanco

TVN, Corte Suprema revive el voto plancha en las elecciones generales

The Tico Times, Nicaragua expels three US officials

Reuters, Six killed in clash between Mexican teachers and cops

La Jornada, Asesinan a balazos a reportero en Juchitán

Newsroom Panama, All night lines for flu shots

Saludiario, Alerta en Panamá por presencia del virus de influenza AH1N1

WHO, Yellow Fever situation report

Video, Red-eyed tree frog embryos hatch to escape snake

Science Alert, Why there are no monkeys native to North America

Video, Tres jaguares nacen en zoo de México

Mongabay, How well have “conservation fads” worked in Latin America?

NASA, The new X-57 hybrid electric research plane

El Comercio, Holanda se despide del petróleo

Autoevolution, Germany may ban registration of non-electric cars

Nature, The physicist who studies ISIS online communities

Ars Technica: Smile, you’re in the FBI face-recognition database

Blades, Sobre el Honoris Causa de la Universidad de Panamá

Keillor, The punk who would be president

The Smoking Gun, DNC hacker releases Trump opposition report

Parry, The State Department’s collective madness

Targ, Planning a 21st Century New World Order

Morozov, They made him a moron

Greenwald, Why is the killer of British MP Jo Cox not being called a “terrorist”?

El Confidencial: ‘Los diarios de Turner’, que pudo inspirar el asesinato de Jo Cox

Cohen, Argentina expels TeleSur and RT

NPR, Egypt finalizes death sentence for Al Jazeera journalists

The Atlantic, The singular experience of the queer Latin nightclub


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¿Wappin? Set The Wayback Machine for…

Andre Williams: “Seventeen and a half is STILL jailbait….”

Many stops tonight on The Wayback Machine

Shangri-Las – Leader of the Pack

Chiffons – One Fine Day

Gene Vincent – Be Bop A Lula

The Edsels – Rama Lama Ding Dong

Sam and Dave – Don’t Pull Your Love

Frank Zappa – Later That Night

Martha and the Vandellas – Heatwave

The Robins – Riot in Cell Block #9

Andre Williams – Jailbait

Wendy O. Williams – Reform School Girls

James White – The Devil Made Me Do It

George Clinton – Atomic Dog

Prince – Unplugged Musicology

Wendy and Lisa live at Baden Baden 1989


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Spay day in San Carlos — dogs, cats, vets, retirees, kids and people who care

spay 1
Who stuck out whose tongue first — the dog or the doctor?

San Carlos to have fewer and healthier dogs and cats

story and photos by Eric Jackson

New Jersey native Lil Miller, now a resident of Altos del Maria, does not flaunt trappings of authority. She just manages a Spay the Strays Panama show that works on a shoestring budget and lots of donated labor of many sorts, and if nobody had pointed her out it would take some long and careful observation to discern her role. It’s not as if there is no organization — there are specialized roles, some more skilled than others. From the registration table to the veterinarians and assistants to the pre-op and post-op tables, to those who taxi animals among these places, to the tick pickers to the kids who pat the recovering kitties, people have their jobs and go about them. Some clean the surgical instruments, some clean the tables between operations, some make the coffee, snacks and lunch. Then there is a community of volunteers who bring in their own pets to be neutered, those of friends and neighbors as a favor, and homeless animals who will be released where they were found if they can’t be placed for adoption. Yes, there are dramatic moments like a cat that puts up fierce resistance to an injection — leaving a veterinarian bleeding — to a woman who comes in late without a reservation and won’t take no for an answer to her demand to bump someone who has been waiting in line so that she can be served. But everything runs smoothly, with neither insignia of rank nor proclamations of authority. As in well managed.

Spay the Strays is one of the several local organizations that sprang up in the wake of the Spay Panama project that Pat Chan started. Call it a “spinoff” if you must, but this group, which serves the beaches and mountain communities of Panama Oeste’s Chame and San Carlos districts, began in 2007 in partnership with two groups, Spay Panama and the McKee Foundation. It now has a life of its own. In its nine years it has neutered about 3,000 animals. Along with its independent existence Spay the Strays also has needs of its own. Most of all it needs funds to buy medicines and surgical supplies.

The needs that received priority on their June 18 spay day at the San Carlos Casa Comunal were about 75 dogs and cats — nobody brought in a rabbit or goat or boa constrictor to be neutered this time. Except from that one lady, the only complaints that this reporter noticed were from dogs and cats who objected to being stuck with needles.


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A ferocious attack cat, doing hard time in maximum security. Or is it just a dislike of needles?


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At the sign-in table.


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A doggie adventure.


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A beautiful and gentle retired working dog, looking for a permanent new home.


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The needle and the damage done — here the damage was to the doctor, who was clawed by a cat who objected to being stuck with a needle.


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Cleaning the surgical tools. Spay the Strays uses chemicals to sterilize them, instead of an autoclave that uses steam.


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The “taxis” do the light and heavy lifting, carrying the anaesthesized animals to and from the various stations in the surgical process.


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Cutting away further parental concerns, and part of the future dog population of San Carlos.


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Filling the syringes for the post-op phase.


A big guy on the post-op table.
A big guy on the post-op table.


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From post-op they go to the recovery area.


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Coming to….


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While they are recovering, dogs get cleaned up, including some major tick picking here.


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The cats have their own recovery area, where special care is taken to protect their sensitive eyes from the light.


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Retirees form the core of the volunteer force, but there are also a lot of kids.


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Fiesta de Música 2016 — gracias Punto Bohemio


Music fest


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MOVADUP, Carta abierta a los docentes


MOVADUPCarta abierta a los docentes de la Universidad de Panamá

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

Respetados profesores de la Universidad de Panamá:

El próximo 29 de junio de 2016 se efectuarán las elecciones en la Universidad de Panamá (UP) para elegir rector, decanos y directores de centros regionales. Con ellas debiera resultar el cambio por desalojo de autoridades y funcionarios que por los últimos 20 años han sepultado la visión de Méndez Pereira y han convertido a la UP en botín politiquero y antro de corrupción al mayor nivel, sumiéndola en el más atroz atraso académico.

Gustavo García de Paredes no solo debe irse él, sino todo lo que ha significado. Por lo tanto, tenemos que expulsar de la actividad directiva a todo lo que le haya estado relacionado. Solamente así podrán iniciarse las transformaciones que, debemos reconocer, no son posibles de alcanzar en los próximos cinco años, pero sí iniciarlas. Por eso debes sopesar tus posibilidades.

Apelamos a ti, docente de la UP, por ser a quien le corresponde la mayor responsabilidad, ya sea para el cambio o para que continúe lo que la UP sufre.

Lamentablemente, entre vosotros está la lacra de los juega vivo y los oportunistas que venden su conciencia por hasta una mínima extra salarial en concepto de botellas, ya sea con cargos ficticios en funciones de coordinador o bien de investigador.

Pero tú que no entras en ello eres también responsable y más por la apatía, por el no querer sacudirte de lo que bien sabes conoces o estás al tanto. A ti, sobre todo, apelamos.

Ha llegado la oportunidad en que te empoderes y pongas fin a la intimidación y coacción a la que te has visto sometido por el rector, vicerrectores, decanos, directores de centros regionales; a que sigas siendo amenazado con la asignación de horas de clase y horario; a que tengas sobre ti la amenaza de la expulsión y otras sanciones para que ni siquiera te expreses; a que te obliguen a asistir a actos de apoyo al Rector u otras autoridades; a que te traten como mercancía comprándote a través de ofertas improcedentes de aumentos.

Recapacita, analiza tus condiciones de trabajo y posibilidades de desarrollo académico, y con toda seguridad reconocerás que BASTA YA y les dirás ¡NO MÁS, FUERA! Entonces cantarás con Antonio Machado:

      Caminante, son tus huellas/el camino y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,/se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,/y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca/se ha de volver a pisar.



Comité de Coordinación Nacional


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Editorials, Fun with numbers; and Responding to Orlando

PISA shame
Comparative 2010 PISA test scores. Numbers by the UN, graphic by Erick Simpson Aguilera.

Fun with numbers for a nation that flunks math

Panama’s education system is world-class horrible, intentionally so because an inbred ruling elite sees everything as a zero-sum competition and has rigged things in the hope that their kids get a special advantage over everyone else their age. But it’s no way to run a society or its economy.

It’s worse yet when the government and the corporate mainstream media play to the widespread ignorance.

For example, when the lead story in La Prensa is that Panama’s public debt is up to $21.415 billlion, which is $7.749 billion more than it was four years ago. With most of Panama’s economic sectors slowing down and the regional economy across Latin America and the Caribbean a mess, it ought to be cause for concern.

But not to worry, says the Ministry of Economy and Finance. On the ministry’s composite of ratings issued by bond rating agencies — mostly before the Panama Papers revelations and the Waked bust — across the region only Chile has a lower perception of risk than does Panama. Gee, numbers based on the hunches of the companies that didn’t see the 2008 financial melt-down coming — OBVIOUSLY those kind of statistics can’t lie. Or at least it should be obvious to anyone who learned what the powers that be wanted him or her to learn in Panama’s public schools.


Orlando: better the jab to the nose than
the roundhouse that hits someone else

“We should keep the pressure on ramping up the air campaign, accelerating support for our friends fighting to take and hold ground and pushing our partners in the region to do even more,” [Clinton] said.

“We have generals that feel we can win this thing so fast and so strong, but we have to be furious for a short period of time, and we’re not doing it!” Trump complained.

A mean, abusive security guard in a dead end job with a multinational corporation went into a downward spiral and shot more than 100 people on his way down. He was allowed to purchase a weapon that should not be readily available in society. He pledged allegiance to the world’s most obnoxious organization in the course of his death mission, on which he alone sent himself.

There is no doubt that the Islamic State is doing its utmost to incite life’s hateful losers to do such stuff. It is properly part of the world’s indictment. More serious counts are genocide and slavery, crimes against all humanity for which any nation may try and punish any perpetrator. The world did not need the Orlando massacre to justify war against the Islamic State.

But do we lash out in rage, carpet bombing towns that the jihadis control to kill innocent people who already have to endure the fanatics’ rule? Do we arm “our” jihadi fanatics to fight against “those” jihadi fanatics? Do we restore Western colonialism and issue orders from Washington about which people will hold which ground and follow which policies there?

Before the shooting started in Orlando there was ample reason to give any significant Islamic State leader the same status as Nazi war criminals had. The nightclub attack does not change that. These people must be politically, religiously and militarily defeated and hunted to the ends of the Earth and to the ends of their lives as the most dangerous of criminals. But lashing out in blind rage is never a good way to fight.

It seems that neither of the presumptive presidential nominees of the two major US political parties have much to say about discrediting the ideas that are at the core of the jihadis’ appeal, about marginalizing their movement within the cultures of Islam. It seems that neither of them convey a sense of restraint that keeps Americans from trying to fix that which it is not up to Americans to fix, that keeps Washington from trying to govern that which Washington can’t govern.

Does President Obama have the balance right? Probably not, but that he is trying to strike balances among contending powers in Syria and Iraq while limiting direct US participation does at least indicate a basic sense of reality. That’s something that’s lacking in the discourse of those whose first and only response is to bomb somebody else whenever a maniac with some real or claimed international tie explodes into a violent rage in the USA.


Bear in mind…


Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
Margaret Atwood


It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.
Arthur C. Clarke


Before a war, military science seems a real science, like astronomy. After a war it seems more like astrology.
Rebecca West


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Prudence and a bit of panic in the face of the flu


Seguro Social would do well to put English and Chinese subtitles on such videos, but with the graphics this message should be understandable to many people who do not understand Spanish.

The flu: prudence and a bit of panic

by Eric Jackson

From whence this reporter usually writes, looking through the window in the morning’s first light, not long after the roosters have announced their presence to the world, there begins this procession of people walking up the muddy footpath from the hollow. First it’s mostly men, including SUNTRACS members getting the early bus to construction sites mainly in the beach communities, some as far away as the capital. The neighborhood’s working women tend to have jobs closer to home, so they follow a bit later to catch buses to jobs in Penonome, or in Anton or beyond. Then come the school kids, the youngest with mothers escorting them, heading to the local elementary school while the high school kids head for the bus stop en route to schools in Anton or Penonome.

This past week, however, the traffic has altered. Hardly any kids have been going to school. The ministries of health and education may be telling us that the flu outbreak that took off with the belated advent of rainy season is a concern but not such a big one, that schools are open as usual and above all, don’t panic. But at the government health care facilities people have been showing up at droves to get flu shots, at public and private schools attendance is way down and the official death toll of confirmed flu deaths is up to 22.

The problem is that we don’t know precisely what we are dealing with here. It seems like the A(H1N1) strain of influenza, but what doctors are seeing are on the whole more severe symptoms than had been previously reported from that and La Prensa has reported that most of the flu patients tested have come up negative for that particular strain. Samples have been sent to the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for evaluation and advice. The combination of deaths and the unknown is a sure formula for fear. One with a bit of scientific and historical knowledge will understand that influenza strains tend to mutate as they spread — sometimes becoming more dangerous, sometimes more benign — and surmise that we are probably seeing a recent variation here. That would likely mean that the vaccines, which are not formulated to precisely what ails Panama, would be a bit less effective but would still be better than nothing, offering immunity to most and less severe symptoms to many of those who get sick anyway. But doctors are not gods and most government officials and journalists are not doctors, and the rumor mill is not known for its subtlety. Both reasonably and beyond reason, many people are afraid.

Leave it to the government to panic.

The administration’s woes are partly unrelated. As the flu outbreak spread, the first lady was to go to New York for a UN General Assembly session on HIV and AIDS along with Health Minister Javier Terrientes. But Terrientes, begging off about another commitment, sent the vice minister, Miguel Mayo, instead. That other commitment was a trip to Chicago to see the Panama versus Argentina soccer game, in the company of another government employee, the minister’s female companion. When President Varela found out about it he was not amused, called Terrientes onto the carpet about it, at which point the minister resigned. That came during the course of a cabinet shuffle that was ongoing anyway, but at a terrible time in the Ministry of Health. The replacements were orderly: Dr. Mayo moving up to the minister’s spot, the ministry’s secretary general Dr. Erick Ulloa moving up to the vice minister job.

Meanwhile, during that transition the Gorgas Institute’s Dr. Néstor Sosa held a press conference to announce to the selected rabiblanco mainstream media reporters that unspecified “false information” about the flu situation is circulating in the social media and that a criminal law against economic sabotage by way of unfounded and damaging rumors would be invoked. He claimed dibs for the government as the only source of proper information about influenza. “Let us remember that the Penal Code provides for prison sentences for those who spread false news or rumors for the purpose of affecting national or economic security,” Sosa warned, as if the parents ignoring his advice and keeping their kids out of school — or anyone else — has that specific intent.

As people moved offices in the health ministry and word from Atlanta was pending, the public health care system pretty much ran out of vaccine. But fresh supplies were coming from France and elsewhere and flu shots will again be available at most public health facilities on Saturday.

[Editor’s note: Wash your hands with soap and water more often than you usually do. Avoid crowds to the extent that you can. If you have any flu or cold symptoms, don’t leave home unless they are so bad that you need to seek medical attention. Don’t share eating or drinking utensils. Show more reserve than is the friendly Panamanian norm, by avoiding handshakes, kisses and embraces for the moment. Know that the flu shots are safe and probably helpful. It is quite possible, you see, to be reasonably prudent without having all of the information that you would like to have at your disposal.]


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Miranda, Corre fría la sangre de mis venas


Río TabasaráCorre fría la sangre de mis venas

por Ricardo Miranda G.

Corre fría la sangre de mis venas, cada paso que doy es una tortura,

Palpita silencioso mi corazón.

Observo como agonizas…

Me traiciona mis sentimientos y me dan ganas de llorar y me pregunto que mas me falta hacer para no verte en estas condiciones?

Que mas puedo hacer?

Mas tu silencio me deja con un nudo en la garganta…

Ya no eres aquel que deja escuchar tu rugir.

Rugir que pregona la libertad, la libertad de mi alma.

La reivindicación de mis huesos, herencia de mis ancestros.

Mi amado bien cuyo valor no existe…

Solo dejas sentir el olor de la muerte que te rodea… Espero un poco mas…hay un silencio total.

Ya no me respondes… no me dices nada.

Me duele el corazón… mas decirte quiero que esos cantos tan bellos recodaré por el resto de mi vida y también tu dulzura que poco a poco se pierde en la lejanía…

Tengo tus recuerdos que hace que me ahogue el sentimiento…

En cada paso que doy lo único que me quedan son las esperanzas.

Es agobiante mi tristeza, se aguan mis ojos…

Mis enemigos me observan, nuestros enemigos se ríen.

Están seguros de que van a ganar…

No se cuanto mas puedas soportar.

En este momento cuando te veo a punto de sangrarte completamente.

Decirte quiero que desde lo mas infinito de mi corazón gritare con voz de trompeta Tabasara LIBRE.


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