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File 20180716 44094 6yes58.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1Residents of tourism hotspots are fighting back. Shutterstock

Overtourism: a growing global problem

by Claudio Milano, Ostelea – School of Tourism and Hospitality;
Joseph M. Cheer
, Monash University, and Marina Novelli, University of Brighton

The summer holidays are in full swing — and protests against overtourism have begun (yet again) in a number of popular European cities. Overtourism is not a new problem.

Barcelona, in particular, is at the center of these mounting concerns about the rapid growth of tourism in cities, especially during peak holiday periods. In fact, Destination Barcelona estimates that there were 30 million overnight visitors in 2017, compared to a resident population of 1,625,137.

But across southern Europe protests and social movements are growing in number. This has led to the formation of organizations such as the Assembly of Neighborhoods for Sustainable Tourism (ABTS) and the Network of Southern European Cities against tourism (SET). They are at the forefront of the fight against overtourism and the impact it has on local residents.

While many tourists want to “live like a local” and have an authentic and immersive experience during their visit, the residents of many tourism-dependent destinations are seeing the unique sense of place that characterized their home towns vanish beneath a wave of souvenir shops, crowds, tour buses and rowdy bars. They are also suffering as local amenities and infrastructure are put under enormous strain.

It is a truly global issue. Other destinations where overtourism has reached disruptive proportions include Palma de Mallorca, Paris, Dubrovnik, Kyoto, Berlin, Bali and Reykjavik. Recently, Thai authorities were forced to act when the number of tourists visiting Maya Bay, the beach made famous by Danny Boyle’s film The Beach, led to shocking environmental damage.

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists — perhaps too many. Shutterstock.

What does overtourism look like?

We define overtourism “as the excessive growth of visitors leading to overcrowding in areas where residents suffer the consequences of temporary and seasonal tourism peaks, which have enforced permanent changes to their lifestyles, access to amenities and general well-being.” The claim is that overtourism is harming the landscape, damaging beaches, putting infrastructure under enormous strain, and pricing residents out of the property market. It is a hugely complex issue that is often oversimplified.

It can have an impact in multiple ways. The international cruise industry, for example, delivers thousands of passengers daily to destination ports. While comparatively little is returned to communities, cruise activity creates physical and visual pollution.

City residents also bear the cost of tourism growth. As cities transform to cater for tourists, the global travel supply chain prospers. This coincides with increasing property speculation and rising costs of living for local communities. AirBnB, for example, has been accused of reducing housing affordability and displacing residents.

Graffiti in Barcelona. © Claudio Milano, Author provided. 


Amsterdam wants to take direct action to prevent this by banning short-term rentals and directing cruise passengers away from the city center. AirBnB is also making efforts to address the problems they are accused of creating.

Things are made worse by the fact that key destinations are mostly unprepared to deal with overtourism. According to the Italian sociologist Marco d’Eramo, in 1950 just 15 destinations were visited by 98% of international tourists, while in 2007 this had decreased to 57%. This indicates the rapid expansion of global tourism beyond established destinations.

Overcrowding and the establishment of typical tourism-focused businesses, such as clubs, bars and souvenir shops, overwhelm local businesses — and rowdy and unmanageable tourist behavior is common. This diminishes the unique ambience of destinations and leads to crowd and waste management pressures.

Kyoto: beautiful view, shame about the crowds. Shutterstock


Clearly, tourism brings jobs, investment and economic benefits to destinations. But overtourism occurs when tourism expansion fails to acknowledge that there are limits. Local government and planning authorities have so far been powerless to deal with the overwhelming influence of the global tourism supply chain. This has led to widespread “tourist-phobia” –- first described by Manuel Delgado more than a decade ago as a mixture of repudiation, mistrust and contempt for tourists.

Dealing with overtourism

Dealing with overtourism must now be a priority. But despite the mounting howls of protest, tourism promotion endures –- and unsustainable hordes of tourists continue to descend on cities, beaches and other natural wonders.

Managing the flow of tourists seems an improbable and unwelcome task. But some cities have taken drastic measures to limit the effects of overtourism, including the introduction of new or revised taxation arrangements, fines linked to new local laws, and “demarketing,” whereby destinations focus on attracting fewer, high-spending and low impact tourists, rather than large groups.

But it’s a fine line to tread. If tourist arrivals to a destination decline suddenly and dramatically it would likely have considerable economic repercussions for those who rely on them.

‘I just want to get home.’ Shutterstock


Overtourism is a shared responsibility. City administrators and destination managers must acknowledge that there are definite limits to growth. Prioritizing the welfare of local residents above the needs of the global tourism supply chain is vital. Prime consideration must be given to ensuring that the level of visitation fits within a destination’s capacity.

The global tourism supply chain also bears a major responsibility. It must ensure that product development achieves a balance between the optimal tourist experience and a commensurate local benefit. Tourists must also play their part by making travel choices that are sensitive to the places they visit and those who live in and around them.

Tourism should be part of the wider destination management system, which must also consider transport and mobility, the preservation of public spaces, the local economy and housing, among other aspects of daily life. Research, planning and a close and ongoing dialogue between city administrators, the tourism industry, civil society groups and local residents are essential.

Perhaps overtourism is a symptom of the present era of unprecedented affluence and hyper mobility, a consequence of late capitalism. We need to urgently rethink the way cities are evolving to uphold the rights of their residents.


Claudio Milano, Researcher, Lecturer and Consultant in Tourism, Ostelea – School of Tourism and Hospitality; Joseph M. Cheer, Lecturer, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures & Linguistics, Monash University, and Marina Novelli, Professor of Tourism and International Development, University of Brighton

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


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Martinelli trial, CD meltdown proceed

Ricky retweets
Martinelli’s vulgarity passed on via the sex-and-death tabloid that he bought with stolen public funds, which he then passes on by Twitter. It sets an ugly tone. From his Twitter feed.

Going down ugly

Who knows? Perhaps this time next year there will be a Cambio Democratico president and Ricardo Martinelli will be double dipping as a legislator and mayor of Panama City. At the moment, however, indications look bad.

The former president’s trial before the Supreme Court is now underway and into its main phases, with delaying tactics interposed by the defense now being quickly brushed off. Did a spelling error in one of the private prosecutor’s documents mean that the whole case should be thrown out? Both to that alleged victim’s claim and to the case as a whole, the error was insignificant, magistrate and acting judge Jerónimo Mejía ruled. Did the defense need time to read a 48-page document that was served on them? Mejía gave them a day. Should all of the private prosecutions be dismissed? Mejía severed one lawyer who had been fired by one of the private plaintiffs from the case, but let the private prosecutions continue.

Mejía denied a defense motion to reveal the identity of a protected witness or turn over seven notebooks which it is said would make it possible to identify this person or entity. Is it an individual who could face retaliation, either personally or via his or her family? Is it a foreign government or one of its agents, the exposure of which would cause political complications for Panama? Those details are not revealed.

The formal charges made and read, some of the private plaintiffs are making their demands for monetary damages. PRD activist Balbina Herrera, whom Martinelli beat in a landslide in 2009, is asking for $30 million. Another PRD stalwart, Mitchell Doens, wants $20 million. A couple of others make demands adding up to about another $6 million. However, most of those who have hired private prosecutors say that they will seek any money damages in separate civil cases.

The state’s prosecutor, magistrate Harry Díaz? He’s asking for a 21-year prison sentence: four years for illegal eavesdropping, four years for stalking people without a warrant, three years for misappropriating the use of government spy equipment for private use and 10 years for stealing the equipment and programs. The hardware was last seen in his Super 99 offices in Paitilla.

Between prison authorities and court guards, Martinelli’s antics have been reduced. We get the book waving poses on the entries of a man who does not read books but he does not get to stop the proceedings by malingering anymore.

There have been altercations between private complainants and their lawers on the one side and Martinelli lawyers on the other. This brought in court security officers to prevent fisticuffs and a closed door meeting with Mejía the resulted in a reported non-aggression agreement.

Meanwhile, Martinelli’s Cambio Democratico party is choosing its slate of candidates. The former president himself says that he wants to run for mayor of Panama City, but the party has set aside that nomination to be negotiated in a possible alliance with one or more other parties. Martinelli did file to run for a seat in the legislature. That puts him in a crowd of CD criminal defendants who will be expected to assert immunity from prosecution as candidates for public office.

There are major defections. Mimito Arias, the party’s 2014 presidential candidate and also a criminal defendant, has left for a new splinter party and wants to run for president next year as its nominee. Reverend Cumberbatch, the CD mayor of San Miguelito, says he’s going to seek re-election as an independent.

Then there are ever unfolding scandals. The comptroller general has referred charges against legislator Marilyn Vallarino for diverting public funds to a foundation she controls, with her defense in lieu of denial consisting of a protest that it’s HER company. Now CD presidential front runner Rómulo Roux is being called in to answer questions about an Odebrecht contract he signed.

The one thing that Cambio Democratico may have going for it is the sorry state of all other political parties. However, there are some independents waiting in the wings who might, with rabiblanco financial backing, upset all of the calculations of the legislators and Electoral Tribunal. Or there might be an even more radical voter revolt than that.

But most likely, color Ricardo Martinelli and his political project in pastels — fading fast.


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Most newborns not breastfed in first hour as advised

Breastfeeding within an hour after birth is critical for saving newborn lives. Photo by UNICEF.

Three in five babies not breastfed in the first hour of life

by the World Health Organization

An estimated 78 million babies – or three in five – are not breastfed within the first hour of life, putting them at higher risk of death and disease and making them less likely to continue breastfeeding, say UNICEF and WHO in a new report. Most of these babies are born in low- and middle-income countries.

The report notes that newborns who breastfeed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive. Even a delay of a few hours after birth could pose life-threatening consequences. Skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast stimulate the mother’s production of breast milk, including colostrum, also called the baby’s ‘first vaccine,’ which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.

“When it comes to the start of breastfeeding, timing is everything. In many countries, it can even be a matter of life or death,” says Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Yet each year, millions of newborns miss out on the benefits of early breastfeeding and the reasons – all too often – are things we can change. Mothers simply don’t receive enough support to breastfeed within those crucial minutes after birth, even from medical personnel at health facilities.”

Breastfeeding rates within the first hour after birth are highest in Eastern and Southern Africa (65%) and lowest in East Asia and the Pacific (32%), the report says. Nearly 9 in 10 babies born in Burundi, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu are breastfed within the first hour. By contrast, only two in 10 babies born in Azerbaijan, Chad and Montenegro do so.*

“Breastfeeding gives children the best possible start in life,” says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We must urgently scale up support to mothers – be it from family members, health care workers, employers and governments, so they can give their children the start they deserve.”

Capture the Moment, which analyzes data from 76 countries, finds that despite the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding, too many newborns are left waiting too long for different reasons, including:

• Feeding newborns food or drinks, including formula: Common practices, such as discarding colostrum, an elder feeding the baby honey or health professionals giving the newborn a specific liquid, such as sugar water or infant formula, delay a newborn’s first critical contact with his or her mother.

• The rise in elective C-sections: In Egypt, cesarean section rates more than doubled between 2005 and 2014, increasing from 20% to 52%. During the same period, rates of early initiation of breastfeeding decreased from 40% to 27%. A study across 51 countries notes that early initiation rates are significantly lower among newborns delivered by caesarean section. In Egypt, only 19% of babies born by C-section were breastfed in the first hour after birth, compared to 39% of babies born by natural delivery.

• Gaps in the quality of care provided to mothers and newborns: The presence of a skilled birth attendant does not seem to affect rates of early breastfeeding, according to the report. Across 58 countries between 2005 and 2017, deliveries at health institutions grew by 18 percentage points, while early initiation rates increased by 6 percentage points. In many cases, babies are separated from their mothers immediately after birth and guidance from health workers is limited. In Serbia, the rates increased by 43 percentage points from 2010 to 2014 due to efforts to improve the care mothers received at birth.

Earlier studies, cited in the report, show that newborns who began breastfeeding between two and 23 hours after birth had a 33% greater risk of dying compared with those who began breastfeeding within one hour of birth. Among newborns who started breastfeeding a day or more after birth, the risk was more than twice as high.

The report urges governments, donors and other decision-makers to adopt strong legal measures to restrict the marketing of infant formula and other breast milk substitutes.

The WHO and UNICEF-led Global Breastfeeding Collective also released the 2018 Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, which tracks progress for breastfeeding policies and programs. In it, they encourage countries to advance policies and programs that help all mothers to start breastfeeding in the first hour of their child’s life and to continue as long as they want.


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El sendero del manglar en Galeta

El sendero, ecológicamente responsable, fue elaborado con plastimadera, un sustituto ecológico para la madera natural que contiene un componente de plástico reciclado. Foto por STRI.

El Smithsonian en Panamá inaugura su sendero del manglar

por Sonia Tejada — STRI

El pasado 26 de julio, en celebración al Día Internacional de los Manglares, el Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales inauguró el sendero del manglar, localizado en el Laboratorio Marino de Punta Galeta, Provincia de Colón, en compañía de los donantes Pat y David Jernigan, de Virginia, Martha Locke, de Boston, Antonio Gonçalves, representante del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), y Nilda Quijano de Manzanillo International Terminal, además de invitados, directivos y personal del Smithsonian en Panamá.

El Dr. Matthew Larsen, director del Smithsonian en Panamá dio las gracias a los asistentes por su apoyo a este proyecto. Expresó “Este sendero nos ayuda en la educación ambiental al público”.

Oris Sanjur, directora asociada para la administración de la ciencia en el Smithsonian en Panamá, dio las palabras de bienvenida y explicó a los invitados y asistentes la importancia de los manglares y de cómo esta iniciativa mejorará la calidad de enseñanza de las ciencias naturales a los cientos de estudiantes que visitan Punta Galeta.

El sendero del manglar tiene 203 metros de largo y atraviesa un cinturón de mangle negro, otro de mangle blanco y al final una arboleda de mangle rojo. Este sendero, ecológicamente responsable, fue elaborado con plastimadera, un sustituto ecológico para la madera natural que contiene un componente de plástico reciclado, resistente a los insectos, a los hongos, al calor, es anti resbalante y ha demostrado ser resistente para este tipo de proyectos. La obra estuvo a cargo de Efraín Sanson, supervisada por la Oficina de Ingeniería y Construcción del Smithsonian en Panamá.

Los manglares crecen en zonas costeras y actúan como una barrera protectora entre el mar y tierra firme. Nos protegen especialmente durante eventos climáticos extremos. Tienen una gran capacidad para capturar dióxido de carbono de la atmósfera. Son mucho más eficientes y rápidos en absorber carbono que los bosques terrestres.


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FB esp



An electronic attack? The Panama News page on Facebook is partly disabled.

this stuff
We have weathered many electronic attacks over many years, but we are not entirely sure whether that is what this is.

¿¿¿ ???

Facebook is going through some turmoil, the alt-right is in full inflammatory fake news scream on the social media (replete with bots to fictitiously drive up readership / viewership) and it’s a big pain for The Panama News to find itself sometime last night and through the day partly disabled on Facebook.

No FB messages can be received or sent. (Send us an email at thepanamanews@gmail.com for that, including messages with news tips or those links or graphics that you would ordinarily send to us by Facebook message.)

We have no access to our Facebook settings, nor to the help desk. Facebook infamously lacks reasonable alternatives to complain about problems. The editor could tell you of electronic war stories — but this may or may not fit into that pigeonhole.

We can’t paste links or graphics in the normal ways. What you are reading is an experiment in getting around such things, but even if it works it will be still be unwieldy.

We can’t see or respond to most of the comments coming into our Facebook page, only to the stories on top. We can’t see our archive. We can’t open our notifications listings. Are there troll invasions going on in the stories below where we can see? If so let us know about that.

Can other people post to our page? Ususally Facebook friends can, but if you are one of those and you can’t it’s a problem, and if unfriendly folks are posting hate stuff, lies and so on that you can see but the editor can’t see it that’s a BIG problem. You may want to complain to Facebook if you see such vandalism, about the item and about the person or persona who posts it.

Lend a hand if you can. This, too, shall pass.

Eric Jackson

email: thepanamanews@gmail.com

our Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/ThePanamaNews

our hobbled at the moment Facebook timeline: https://www.facebook.com/thepanamanews


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Editorials: Rudy’s law school dunce cap; and Baseball!


Damning evidence about intent. A piece of a puzzle, others of which we have also seen.

“Collusion is not a crime”

The American president’s most prominent lawyer — for now at least — declared on the presidents main television propaganda channel that “Collusion is not a crime… The hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack.”

We might go back into history and talk about Rudy Giuliani the prosecutor, a “War on Drugs” ground breaker in who was the top federal drug prosecutor in New York in 1973. Since his days serving the Nixon administration the verdict in that war is still not reversed. Giuliani may have sent a lot of people to prison but his side lost that war. Along the way, however, he surely learned something about US conspiracy laws, the invocation of which was how he made his living.

In 1975 Giuliani was moved off of the drug beat and gained some public prominence in the bribery prosecution of US Representative Bert Podell. The bribery charge did not stick but Podell was cornered into pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and violation of the federal conflict of interest law. It seems that the Democrat from Brooklyn agreed to a payoff but it could not be proven that such payment actually happened. But the federal conspiracy law casts a wide net:

18 USC §371. Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

18 USC §1030. Fraud and related activity in connection with computers
(a) Whoever-
(6) knowingly and with intent to defraud traffics (as defined in section 1029) in any password or similar information through which a computer may be accessed without authorization, if-
(A) such trafficking affects interstate or foreign commerce …
shall be punished as provided in subsection (c) of this section.

There is no heading of “collusion” in US federal criminal law. But one who acts in concert with another person who hacks into somebody’s computer and traffics in the proceeds of that invasion, for the purpose of winning a public office that among other things includes the power to appoint the US Secretary of Commerce, or as Vladimir Putin more specifically wanted, to ease sanctions on Russia? That person has conspired to commit a computer crime.

Rudy Giuliani knows this. He is making law student flunkout arguments, much akin to the guy behind bars for felony murder who protests that he didn’t shoot the convenience store clerk in that robbery, he just drove the getaway car.

Giuliani, of course, has a backup position. In any case, he argues, there wasn’t any collusion. There is already a lot of evidence on the public record to suggest that there was. Mr. Mueller has alleged much more in indictments bringing charges that may some day have to be proven in court. Some of those who were participants in parts of this scheme have already pleaded guilty.

The ground is being prepared for the President of the United States to defend the untenable in expectation of damning new information to come. That’s what Giuliani’s lame argument is all about.


LLWS team
The boys from Vacamonte, national heroes of the day! Photo by FEDEBEIS.

Our boys in Williamsport!

Panama is again the Little League champion of Latin America!

We could discuss the state of Panamanian baseball at length, but now is not the time. We should all be cheering right now.


Bear in mind…

To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.


If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.
Emily Dickinson


In the long course of history, having people who understand your thought is much greater security than another submarine.
J. William Fulbright


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Presidenciables perredistas en Twitter / PRD presidential candidates on Twitter

Omar and his party
The PRD was founded by General Omar Torrijos, a Veraguas native and son of a Colombian school administrator father and a mother from a not very rich branch of an old Panamanian family. The party is a member of the Socialist International but for many years its top leaders have accepted economic globalization on the terms set by multinational corporations and embodied in the old “Washington Consensus.”
El PRD fue fundado por el General Omar Torrijos, veraguense e hijo de un padre colombiano, un administrador de escuelas, y una madre de una rama no muy rica de una vieja familia panameña. El partido es miembro de la Internacional Socialista, pero durante muchos años sus dirigentes principales han aceptado la globalización económica en los términos establecidos por las corporaciones multinacionales y encarnada en el viejo “Consenso de Washington”.

The main PRD presidential primary candidates
Presidenciables principales del PRD

There are 18 people running for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). Prophecy is not one of the editor’s gifts, but the best estimate is that one of these people will win the nomination. Who should be the next president, that is another set of questions, one that will come into focus early next year when we know who will be on the ballot.

Hay 18 personas candidatas a la nominación presidencial del Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD). La profecía no es uno de los regalos del redactor, pero la mejor estimación es que una de estas personas ganará la nominación. Quién debería ser el próximo presidente, esa es otra serie de preguntas, una que se enfocará a principios del próximo año cuando sepamos quién estará en la papeleta.


Zulay Rodríguez

Zulay Rodríguez Lu
Diputada de la República Panamá por el Circuito 8-6 San Miguelito. Presidenta del Frente Femenino del PRD.

Self-describes on Twitter as: “Legislator for the Republic of Panama from Circuit 8-6 in San Miguelito. President of the PRD Women’s Front.”


Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo

Padre de dos súper hijos. Político, empresario de la construcción y ganadería. Expresidente de la Asamblea Nacional. Ministro de Agricultura (2004-06). ¡Amo mi país!

Self-describes on Twitter as: “Father of two super children. Politician, businessman in construction and ranching. Former president of the National Assembly. Minister of Agriculture (2004-06). I love my country!”


Juan Carlos Navarro

Juan Carlos Navarro
Político, empresario y ambientalista panameño, fiel creyente en la energía renovable.

Self-describes on Twitter as: “Panamanian politician, businessman and environmentalist, faithful believer in renewable energy.”


Ernesto “Toro” Pérez Balladares

Pérez Balladares
Presidente Constitucional de la República de Panamá 1994-1999. Casado. 3 hijas y 8 nietos. Boqueteño

Self-describes on Twitter as: “Constitutional President of the Republic of Panama 1994-1999. Married. Three children and eight grandchildren. From Boquete.”


Guillermo Solís

Gerardo Solís
Esposo. Papá y Abuelo. Abogado. Magistrado Presidente del TE 2010-12. Presidente Colegio Nacional de Abogados 1995-97. Orgulloso PRD

Self-describes on Twitter as: “Husband. Father and grandfather. Lawyer. Presiding magistrate of the Electoral Tribunal 2010-12. President of the National College of Lawyers [Panama’s principal bar association] 1995-97. Proudly PRD.”

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Avnery, Adolf and Amin

bad guys
Mein Gott! Der Führer war genetisch minderwertig!

Adolf and Amin

by Uri Avnery — Gush Shalom

Binyamin Netanyahu is a perfect diplomat, a clever politician, a talented leader of the army.

Lately, another jewel has been added to his crown: he is also a gifted story-teller.

He has provided an answer to a question that has perplexed historians for a long time: When and how did Adolf Hitler decide to exterminate the Jews?

There was no agreed-upon answer. There were those who thought that it happened already in his youth in Vienna, others guessed that it happened after World War I in Munich, or when he wrote his book Mein Kampf in Landsberg prison in 1924.

Now Bibi has uncovered the circumstances, the exact place and time.

It happened in Berlin, when Adolf Hitler met the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, on November 28, 1941.

Netanyahu has not condescended to tell us how he arrived at this revolutionary discovery. There is no indication in the official protocol of the Hitler-Husseini meeting which was prepared by the Germans, in their famous exactitude. Nor is it mentioned in the entry of the Mufti himself in his private diary, which was captured by Western intelligence. The two documents are almost identical.

So what did Netanyahu discover?

According to his story, until the meeting Hitler did not even think about exterminating the Jews, but only about their expulsion from Europe, preferably to Madagascar, then a French colony. But then came the Mufti and told him something like “if you expel them they will come to Palestine. Better kill them all in Europe.”

“What a wonderful idea!” Hitler must have answered, “Why did I not think of that myself?”

A thrilling story. The trouble is that it contains not one word of truth. In the jargon of these Trumpian days, it is “alternative truth.” Or, simply put, a complete lie.

Worse, it could not have happened.

Anyone who has a minimal knowledge of the period, of the “spirit of the time” and of the personalities involved, must know that this is an imagined event.

Let’s start with the main hero: Adolf Hitler.

Hitler had a solid “Weltanschauung” (world view). He acquired it in his youth — it is not clear exactly when and where. It was called “anti-Semitism.”

Note: “anti-Semitism,” not “anti-Judaism.”

The difference is significant. Anti-Semitism was part of the Race Theory, which claimed to be an exact science and was at the time at the height of its world-wide popularity.

This was not just an ideological fad, an invention of demagogues. It was a branch of science that was assumed to be as objective as, say, mathematics or geography. The basic assumption was that every race of human being, like every breed of horses or dogs, has specific characteristics, good and bad.

This “science” was taught at universities, respected professors conducted experiments, measured skulls and analyzed body-build, It was all very serious. Quite a number of Jews were devotees. Such as, for example, Arthur Ruppin, who later became a leading figure in the Zionist settlement organization in Palestine.

According to the German race theory, there is a master race, the Aryan, which originated in India and from which the Germans are descended, and there are inferior races, the “Semites” and “Slavs” for example. According to the race theorists, this is not a matter of opinion. It is solid scientific fact, a fact that cannot be changed.

Hitler believed in all this nonsense, as a pious Jew believes in the scriptures. The Mufti was a Semite. Not one of those upright princes of the desert described in the stories of the No. 1 German author of children’s books, Karl May (who mainly wrote about American Indian chieftains), but a wily, shifty politician, who was not very prepossessing.

Hitler did not like him at all. He did not want to receive him, but his propaganda people insisted. In the end, he received him, talked with him for an hour and a half, had a picture taken and never agreed to meet him again.

It was definitely not the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

At the meeting, two translators were present. The Mufti spoke French — a language he had learned as a boy, when for a time he was a pupil of the French-Jewish “Alliance” school. The Mufti had also been a student at Cairo’s al-Azhar, the famous religious university, but never finished his studies there.

The Husseini clan is the most distinguished in Jerusalem. Nowadays, it numbers about 5000 members. One of my best friends was Faisal al-Husseini, a wonderful person with whom I organized several demonstrations against the occupation and for peace.

For many generations, scions of the family held the position of Mufti — the highest religious authority in the city, the third holiest in Islam. Before him, both his father and half-brother had been Mufti. Amin himself made the pilgrimage to Mecca already as a boy. Hence the title Haj.

Haj Amin was a natural leader. From an early age he was famous as an Arab nationalist and political activist. During World War I he was an officer in the Ottoman army, but saw no combat and deserted. Then he was active in the Arab rebellion of the Sherif of Mecca (with “Lawrence of Arabia”), and agitated for a united state of Syria, Palestine and Iraq.

Very early on he saw the danger of the Zionist settlement in Palestine and called for resistance. After Palestine became British, the Mufti organized the armed clashes of 1921, which can well be considered as the mother of the war that is still going on.

On the Jewish side of that event, the outstanding personality was Vladimir (Zeev) Jabotinsky, the spiritual father of today’s Likud, who prophesied that Arab resistance to the Zionist project would never end: no indigenous people has ever peacefully accepted a colonialist enterprise. (His answer was to build a Zionist “Iron Wall”).

Yielding to local pressure, the first British High Commissioner of Palestine, the Jew Herbert Samuel, appointed the rebellious young leader as the Mufti of Jerusalem, hoping to quieten him down. He was to be disappointed. After organizing several rounds of “disturbances,” the Mufti called for the “Great Rebellion” of 1936 against the British and the Zionists, which developed into a major campaign with many casualties.

The Mufti had to flee, first to Lebanon, then to Iraq. When the British were preparing to enter Baghdad, he fled to Italy, met Benito Mussolini and broadcast to the Arab world. He was asked to come to Germany and help a propaganda campaign to win over the Arab world. It was then that he met Hitler.

The Mufti had prepared in advance a statement that he hoped Hitler would sign. It was an ambitious plan for a United Republic of Palestine[,] Syria and Iraq under German protection, and the appointment of the Mufti as leader of the Arab world.

Hitler glanced at the paper and put it aside. He refused to consider it. First of all, Vichy France was a German ally, and Hitler would not hint that the French colonies would be taken from France. He also did not like the mufti.

All he promised was that after the German army reached the South Caucasus, he would make such an announcement. At the time, the Wehrmacht was at the northern gates of the Caucasus, a long way from the south. It never got there.

In the conversation, the Jews did not come up at all, except for a mention by the Mufti of “the British, Jews and Bolsheviks” as the enemy, and a vague remark from Hitler that the “Jewish question” must be solved “step by step.”

The meeting was photographed, as was a later meeting of the Mufti with Muslim volunteers of the Waffen-SS. All in all, the Mufti played a minor role in the German propaganda effort aimed at the Arab world.

All the rest is the fruit of the vivid imagination of Binyamin Netanyahu — who was born eight years after the event.


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¿Wappin? Promised Land / Tierra Comprometida

Esperanza Spalding. Photo by Penello.

The Promised Land
La Tierra Comprometida

Bruce Springsteen – The Promised Land

Romeo Santos – Centavito

Esperanza Spalding – I Adore You

Berlin – Take My Breath Away

Shakira & Maluma – Trap

Bob Marley – Them Belly Full

Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time

Fito Paez – Mariposa Tecknicolor

Leadbelly – Midnight Special

Ruben Blades – Chica Plastica

Jessie Reyez – Figures

Carly Simon – You’re So Vain

Kamasi Washington – Clair de Lune

Melissa Aldana – Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most

Norah Jones Live Amsterdam 2007


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Protesting farmers win a concession — perhaps

Farmers marching on the Cinta Costera toward the Presidencia. Unattributed photo circulated on Twitter.

Farmers win one — or do they?

by Eric Jackson

Juan Carlos Varela is a scion of one of Panama’s most successful businesses, Hermanos Varela SA, which in turn is a big-time farming enterprise. Yes, the family business is about the production of rum and seco. To do this and be less at the mercy of market forces, they grow vast tracts of sugar cane to supply their raw material needs. So would that make the president more sensitive to agricultural issues?

Perhaps it does, and perhaps the traditional Panameñista Party bastions in Panama’s central provinces make sensitivity to the demands of farmers well nigh imperative. But it also seems that the Varelas, whose business is one of the relative few Panamanian enterprises that exports goods rather than services, have this conservative imperative when it comes to international trade. Honduran hustlers might have filed bogus documents to get a dam concession that Panama does not need and the rule of law would have struck down, but Varela would not mess with the European banks behind the Barro Blanco project. He can say what he will now but the political fact of that is that his party has more or less blown the usual main swing vote, the indigenous comarcas. That’s the probable result of upholding foreign trade interests above those who were run out of their homes and had their water supply and fishery confiscated by force of arms.

The policy backdrop to the farm dispute is “free trade.” The farmers’ contrary insistence is “food security,” that is, maintaining Panama’s farmers’, ranchers’ and fishers’ ability to feed the country.

Food security is the contemporary slogan of an international mostly small farmers’ movement, but it’s a very ancient concept. A nation needs to be self-sufficient in the most basic and vital supplies, or else an enemy, human or natural, might lay it low notwithstanding how strong an army it may have. That’s why, for example, Jerusalem is where it is. They have an underground river to which an ancient well was sunk, a river so deeply underground that an enemy can’t dam it upstream or dump poison into the water to make the pre-Arab, pre-Jewish and perhaps pre-Canaanite city surrender due to thirst.

In the name of “food security” Panama created the Panamanian Food Security Authority (Autoridad Panameña de Seguridad de Alimentos or AUPSA). In name only. The authority, created during the Martín Torrijos administration in 2006 and charged with regulating food imports so that Panamanian farmers would not get put out of business, was “reformed” in 2010 by the administration of Ricardo Martinelli, one of Panama’s biggest food importers. It became one more example of the global phenomenon of “alphabet soup agencies” being captured by the interests that they are supposed to regulate. Local farmers complain, for example, that just when their harvests are coming in AUPSA likes to approve massive and cheap exports, so as to drive down the prices that farmers can command.

The abolition of AUPSA was one of the key demands of the July 26 farmers’ protest, which marched to the Presidencia and was followed by talks between the protest leaders and President Varela and key members of his cabinet. That evening the government announced that it had agreed to replace AUPSA.

But with what? Varela said that would be determined by talks among farmers, importers, business groups, “civil society” and government officials. But some of the main farm organizations, particularly the cattle ranchers’ ANAGAN, reject that formula. They say that they have been deceived in those sorts of expanded talks games before and will not participate in a supposed negotiating process in which the numbers are stacked against them from the start.

Stay tuned to see what happens to AUPSA.

Farmers and Varela
President Varela and his team meet with farm leaders. Varela committed to replacing AUPSA, but an end to the authority’s practices of which the farm groups complain may be more elusive. Photo by the Presidencia.


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