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Editorials: #PresidentSanders, and No sport

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#PresidentSanders

President Sanders for the USA
Panama will gain by that too

Donald Trump is the one who invites foreign powers to interfere in his country’s politics. Not us. The USA should run its own affairs without Russian, Ukrainian or other external interference, and Panama should likewise keep its political decisions Panamanian.

By law, only US citizens can vote and only citizens and green card holders can participate in US political campaigns. The Panama News urges dual US and Panamanian citizens to register and exercise their voting rights as Americans, and other Panamanians without that tie to the USA to watch what’s going on up north with the interest of those who are bound to be affected.

The United States is at a critical fork in a road that has taken the country over many years to a bad place.

Constant and ruinously expensive warfare has gotten to the point that a journalist is treated as some sort of traitor to point out just where US forces are at war. No thought is given to what victory looks like, to when would be the time to bring the troops home and do our best to help them readjust to civilian life. The troops at the Pentagon’s disposal can surely kick most other armies’ asses. But after more than 18 years, US forces have not defeated Afghanistan’s Taliban. “Mission accomplished,” W reassured Americans years ago, and this past weekend the US embassy complex in Baghdad was hit by rocket fire. The more likely catastrophic end is not that America provokes a Battle of Armageddon and loses, but that US forces will be camped out in that general area and Uncle Sam won’t be able to pay them.

Forty years of Reaganomics have brought stagnation to most and ruin to many, here and there. First imposed across the USA and then around the world, it has meant that by 2018, just 26 individuals owned as much as the poorest half of humanity – 3.8 billion people. And everywhere the rich are demanding more.

In that scramble at the top for wealth, US industries have been exported. Critical infrastructures, communities and schools have been allowed to crumble. Water supplies have become tainted by fracking for those last drops of oil and gas or by white conservatives going out of their way to show black majority cities like Flint just where they stand. When JP Morgan et al gambled away other people’s money on a fraudulent mortgage scheme, they got a bailout and no prison time but millions lost their homes and jobs.

Around the planet rising seas and growing deserts are driving people from their homes, and that’s causing social problems, wars and mass migrations. When a 17-year-old girl from Sweden pointed out the obvious cause and solution to the moguls at Davos, leave it to a Goldman Sachs guy on loan to the White House to hurl insults at her.

The slight was a bad imitation of Trump, the reality TV fraud artist, who insults and drives away almost everyone within reach of the power. His specialty is wanton abuse of the authority with which he should never have been entrusted. The vital question for the nation and the world is for how much longer.

So what does it all have to do with Democrats’ primary choices? First of all, it means that things are too far gone, too badly damaged, for any harking back to a supposed Golden Age. Let’s be serious, not ridiculous, about the predicament. History has its useful lessons but there is no return to the past. Screen for those who live in today’s world. The nostalgia candidates are unsuitable.

Then do a second screen. Trump has demonstrated the fallacy of the notion that anyone can step in and be as good a president as anyone else. Nobody who has never held public office should be considered for a presidential nomination. (And if we want to step out of the mainstream for a moment and look back to 2016, wasn’t Jill Stein’s naïve photo op with Putin yet another example of this?) Those who have not faced the ethical and practical challenges of public office should not be considered for president, even if a Democratic president might reasonably consider some of them for appointment to this or that important post.

Then filter out the chameleons. The little lizards are charming, as are versatile actors who can play any role. But candor, consistency and demonstrated values trump identities, real or cosmetic, in this election year. This year, look at the contents of the candidates’ characters.

Yes, any Democrat still running would still be an improvement over Donald Trump. But after three basic screens, two good choices remain – Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Either of these two could beat Donald Trump. Neither of them, nor any of the other candidates, would be sure to beat Trump. But Sanders has built a massive grassroots movement embracing people of many sorts but firmly rooted in the working class from which he comes. That with his legion of small donors he has raised a lot more money than his primary opponents who have gone to the billionaires for assistance underlines the power of the movement that Bernie leads.

With Bernie and Elizabeth we are talking about human beings, complete with talents and flaws. But it’s a race for chief executive of the US government, not sainthood. And of the two of them it’s Bernie who has the executive experience, as mayor of the small city of Burlington, Vermont.

Between the two of these good choices, what puts Sanders on top is the Old Testament prophet tendency in him. All along America’s road to decline and disaster, as a citizen activist then as mayor, then starting in 1990 as a US representative and later as a senator, Bernie has been warning us. Sometimes, casting the lone vote. Sometimes, going along to get some complex package passed but with words of caution. Many times, getting the necessary amendment passed to a piece of legislation that had a lacking element that his colleagues did not at first perceive. The opponents’ image spinners may color it grumpy, but it’s astute leadership, grounded in humble wisdom, that sets Bernie Sanders apart.

Whether it’s into a neofascist brave new world with the alt-right or a journey with the progressives into a brighter future, the USA is unavoidably navigating into new territory. Americans should want and demand a leader who has seen clearly where the country was going all along, and that’s Bernie Sanders.

America should have a leader, with however many years upon which to look back, who orients toward the future. To new industries that America never had and the world’s best educated work force to build and run them. To new energy sources and a modern power grid. To new ways of getting around. To new cities rising above the rubble of the old. To country living with new and better connections with the rest of the world. To making new friends at home and abroad, and new trade arrangements with old partners. To a renewed sense of decency in the ways that we relate with one another. Those are the things to which Bernie is headed.

That advice given to American primary voters of the Democratic persuasion, what does it all mean for Panamanians?

A Bernie Sanders administration would free Panama from some debilitating dogmas imposed from without. The “War on Drugs,” neoliberal economics, covert and overt missions through Panama to force other Latin American counties into compliance with Washington’s desires — these would be expenses and embarrassments that Panama could set aside. It would not be due to new orders from the White House, but because of a new era of consultation and friendship rather than demands.

  

That stuff

The smirking thugs walk

Herrera has an amazingly good junior baseball team in this years’ tournament, and Major League Baseball scouts are on the scene. But the fans and the public interest are scarce this year.

A guy who ripped off the baseball federation more or less runs the National Assembly. A former president of the legislature, kicked out by voters, walked away all smiles with other tarnished ex-colleagues after their lawyers got a judge to decide that the investigation of the funds diverted from PANDEPORTES and its various sports federation components is not all that complex and should be over. That outrageous ruling will be appealed, and perhaps reversed. Maybe we will even see a day of accountability for Benicio Robinson’s ultra-expensive baseball bats, the $100 grand for Zulay Rodríguez’s sports organization that never was, and all the other scams by which members of the political caste looted and impoverished our sports scenes.

It may be unfair to talented youngsters, but this publication, like many Panamanian fans, is studiously ignoring Benicio’s FEDEBEIS show. Corruption is not a sport.

 

Many a time freedom has been rolled back — and always for the same sorry reason: fear.

Molly Ivins

Bear in mind…

We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity.

Marie Curie

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:21

Circumstantial evidence is occasionally very convincing, as when you find a trout in the milk.

Henry David Thoreau

 

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Panama’s cashews are dying, and it’s a matter of national security

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marañón
Nearly a year ago, the Panama Institute of Agricultural Research (IDIAP) responded to what a lot of people on the western part of the Pacific Side — from Panama to Chiriqui provinces — had been noticing. Our cashew (marañón in Spanish) trees were sick and dying. At the time they said they thought the culprit was one of two kinds of fungus. But they didn’t identify it, and only in late September of last year did that say that they would be looking for international assistance — from Brazil. Photo by Eric Jackson, of his ailing cashew tree.

Not counting any sinister aspects,
security alarms should sound

by Eric Jackson

Does it take a history major, or someone who has looked at some of the reasons for mass migrations of our times to realize it? A most fundamental aspect of any nation’s security is the availability of food and water for its population.

The desert starts to expand, and first you have people fighting over who controls the scarcer water resources. Next you have people who can’t produce food like they used to leaving for wherever they might find and settle upon greener pastures.

A fishery depletes. Some leave for other countries, some turn to this or that maritime racket to feed themselves and their dependents, and some go to the city to look for a job.

The ancient scriptures are full of tales about great sieges where the attacking armies sought to cut off the food and water supplies. Before there were Arabs or Jews, someone found a place in the Levant with an underground river that with that time’s technology a besieging army could neither block nor poison, and that place became Jerusalem.

Is the axiom that a nation’s ability to feed itself is the cornerstone of its security seen in entirely different ways by those who grow food and those who “know” that food comes from the grocery store?

Panama has a bad economy, but apart from that its food supplies are constantly threatened by the weather, the changing ranges of pests and agricultural diseases old an new.

Two or three years ago, a lot of Panamanians noticed that their cashew trees were getting sickly.

The people with cashew trees? All sorts, really, but those whose livings depend on them are few and mostly marginalized. These trees grow well in relatively poor soil. Roasting the nuts to neutralize the toxic oil is dirty and dangerous. You will get painfully sick if you eat cashew nuts that are not thoroughly cooked. The fruit don’t have much of a shelf life, unless you dry them or make jam with them. The juice has this odd, astringent taste and texture, and will stain your clothes if you get it on you. Balancing that latter risk, jugo de marañón is an effective folk palliative for many kidney complaints and it said to improve mental function in aging heads. It’s usually mixed with other juices, often mango nectar.

Anyway, there isn’t much in the way of industrial production here. To the bankers and tax collectors’ bottom lines cashews are a negligible commodity whose commercialization happens small-scale on the informal market. But if all or part of your living comes from your land….

That might explain the lackadaisical search for which species of plague, and the lack of curiosity in the rabiblanco media. 

To what can we chalk up some of the late notice that this is a problem not only here but in South America and Africa? Or that in 2016 two Tanzanian researchers, Donatha Damian Tibuhwa and Shamte Shomari of the University of Dar es Salaam, identified the problem as Fusarium oxysporum? They had help from a Japanese laboratory with the DNA work and published their findings in the Asian Journal of Plant Pathology.

So are we to conclude “silly IDIAP” or even “racist “IDIAP” and now that we know what it is, look up the cure?

Not nearly so simple. For example, just what IS Fusarium oxysporum?

By many standards, some amazing stuff. These fungi can eat gold.

But taxonomists disagree about precisely what it is. Is it a species with many strains — at least 38 that are known — or a genus with that many or more species? Or a “sub-genus?”

Whatever you want to call it, Fusarium oxysporum is found from tropical rainforests to Arctic tundras, from swamps to deserts. It gets into the soil.

However, as to the cashew blight we have here, the top leaves and branches are the first to be visibly affected, with branches drying out and withering. By all outward appearances the infection works its way down to the roots. At IDIAP they have been looking at how the pathogen — whatever they decide it is — attaches itself to cashew trees and what might be done to prevent that from happening.

Variants of Fusarium oxysporum have devastated multinational agribusinesses — the Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici, in a double whammy with the Tobacco Mosaic Virus, has thwarted large-scale attempts at growing tomatoes for processing into paste here. Yes, there are chemicals that can be put into the soil and onto the tomato plants, but not economically so as yet. Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense causes the Panama disease that may make the vulnerable Cavendish bananas go extinct, like a related strain of it did to the Gros Michel bananas many decades ago.

But couldn’t we just do the DNA analysis and at least know exactly with what we deal?

Actually, Panama’s underdeveloped labs aren’t well set up to defend us from either plant or animal plagues, and that includes human diseases as well.

But then, don’t we usually call in the Americans in such circumstances?

We do have some very good US scientists here. But we also have a US administration that sneers at the US island of Puerto Rico in a crisis and would not be likely to go far out of its way to help Panama. However, it’s worse than just that.

See, Fusarium oxysporum is also the basis for genetically engineered — in the United States — biological warfare agents. Under the original configuration of Plan Colombia, the US government required Colombia to spray a version of this fungus developed in American labs over vast stretches of our neighboring country, as part of the “Agent Green” used to eradicate coca plantations. Surely that stuff passed through Panama until its use was discontinued in 2001. Plant diseases sprayed from airplanes might expect to get into the environment, perhaps take many different routes to spread, perhaps mutate along the way. So is Uncle Sam going to want to do or fund research that might in turn embarrass the United States government for an experiment it ran on a Latin American country?

How serious a biological weapon threat is Fusarium oxysporum? Bad enough that the European Union has declared it an illegal weapon of war.

The thing is, it generally takes about three years for one of these infections to kill a cashew tree. So IDIAP may figure that although we may luck out with the sudden discovery of a cure, more likely Panamanian cashews are a goner in the likely time frame we who grow them face.

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusarium_oxysporum#%22Agent_Green%22_in_Colombia if you want to think germ warfare scenarios. It would be interesting to have full disclosure.

 

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Garden calculations in the dry season

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the tank
Water hasn’t come through the aqueduct for more than a week and it’s down to less than half a tank of the two tanks. Can still make do for more than a week without having to go searching with wheelbarrow and water cans, but enhanced conservation measures are in effect.

Whatcha gonna do when your environment runs dry?

photos and captions by Eric Jackson

Is it all political? Actually, those do play out on the side and may come front and center. Neighborhood politics, like if the water committee is sending liquid through the aqueduct but the usual suspects are diverting it away from me and my neighbors for their agricultural uses. National politics, as in will a committee of plastic people in suits who never have to deal with any of this but pretend to be a stakeholders gets the IDAAN political patronage machine to usurp our local system and then get Nito and the thugs in the legislature to put it up for sale in a privatization auction? World politics, in which there are still oil companies attacking scientists and telling us that climate change and especially their companies’ role in it aren’t real?

Ah, well. The politics give way to agricultural triage, getting down to grunge for a hippie who never was enthusiastically a dirty hippie, making do until the pipes start to gurgle again. And also to keep the dog and cat bowls full. Also to avoid offending neighbors — especially but not only those who give no reason to offend.

Some of the families down in the hollow flee for the city during part of the dry season — but these tend to be families of union members, with enough syndicalist solidarity and often family ties with those left behind to fend off the phenomenon of absent neighbors getting their homes stripped. But were I to do that I would know specifically who some of the looters would be, and perhaps be surprised by some of the others. Caretaking is a big thing in the Interior, especially with racists in the legislature and online spreading the notion that it’s OK to steal from “the other.” But even without that cyclical degeneration of the national culture, finding a good caretaker is a difficult and often costly art.

The thing is to stay, defend as best as can, and ration so that come the rains there will be a thriving house and garden.

spinach
Will the spinach root and survive until rainy season transplant time? I press my luck. And even though it’s not peak insect season, it’s very important to change the water on a regular basis. You can still breed mosquitoes that can make you sick if you don’t.

 

dry season planting
What madness is this? Planting Chinese green beans and ginger in January?

 

peppers
A potted papaya in back, but four varieties of hot peppers on the way.

So what do you do, and not do?

Pee in a jar, not in the toilet, to save flushes and to pour onto the compost pile and various other key places around the garden. That stuff, undiluted, will burn a lot of plants. However, poured in a sort of dispersed circle about directly underneath the outer reaches of the branches, it’s one way to fertilize you trees without burning the roots. (If loads are still dumped in the toilet, use the lid and the bathroom door to limit the stench of doing water-saving multi-load flushes.)

You washed clothing? Throw neither the wash water nor the rinse water away. This goes on the garden, sparingly around the roots of specific plants. But if it’s something you are going to eat soon, do that with rinse water rather than wash water if you want to avoid a gross detergent taste.

peppers
Sweet bush peppers in the shade — will this plant give me another year?

 

It’s been years, but no nuts yet on the dwarf coconut tree. No need for water.

 

naranja
The little orange tree I transplanted from the compost last year? THAT needs water. And the brush piles on either side of it? Those need some dry season machete work, with some red clay soil and manure sprinkled on top to soak up the rains when they come. If it goes as planned, the brush piles will be the making of black dirt terraces and the sloping ditch between them will drain onto the orange. But dry season machete work on brush piles? Beware of snakes, which I try to neither kill nor provoke into biting me.

 

pot
The stuff in the pot is for transplanting into an edible fence line.
 

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Gandásegui, PanCanal management

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canal from Bimuseo
The fundamental problem with the Panama Canal is that it has not been managed in the way that its spokespeople have tried to convince Panamanians that it has. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

The Panama Canal Authority has structural problems as well as a water shortage

by Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has a public relations and broadcast team that is the envy of the other public entities of the Panamanian government. While the various offices that have government responsibility in the tourism sector, for example, fail to take off, the ACP has managed to create a global campaign concerning water and the environment.

The world, especially the maritime world, on which we all depend, wonders when the water will run out in the Panama Canal watershed. For years, the ACP has reported that water is running out in Gatun Lake, where ships of up to 150,000 tons of displacement that cross the isthmus navigate. If you do not imagine what that figure implies, take a walk along the canal to see them pass under the Bridge of the Americas or go to another lookout. You will be surprised and amazed at the same time.

At present, a little more than 14,000 ships per year pass through the canal, an average of 40 ships per day. The largest pay more than a million dollars to make the crossing. Panama recently built a third set of locks for the larger post-Panamax ships to pass.

When the canal expansion was approved, allegedly thorough studies were made of the channel’s watershed and its water production. The proponents of the construction of the third locks said that studies showed that water would not be a limitation for ship traffic. Now they have changed their position. Why the change?

The ACP administration assures us that its concern about the water available for canal operations is due to several reasons. The main ones are, on the one hand, the change in rainfall on the Isthmus of Panama. On the other, the growth of the urban clusters around the canal which also use the precious liquid.

The underlying problem of the Panama Canal is that it has not been managed in the way that its spokesmen have tried to convince Panamanians. On the one hand, the wealth it generates — in 2018 a total of ($3.6 billion) — has not been handled with transparency. On the other hand, the members of the board of directors have turned the ACP into a umbrella under which they conduct private businesses. Moreover, the water problem has now become a hot potato.

Regarding the lack of transparency, we must begin with the arrangement of the shipping companies that transit through the Panama Canal with Citibank in New York. That’s where tolls are deposited. In addition, all or almost all members of the board of directors have projects that do not benefit the ACP. Finally, in the case of water, ACP has proposed several solutions that do not convince much. Several years ago, the ACP announced that it had among its plans to dam Rio Indio to feed water to Gatun Lake in the dry season. This initiative, due to its political implications, has taken a very low profile. Another solution was to limit the water consumption of the population residing in Panama City, which shares the Chagres River basin’s liquid resource with the canal. The proposal that has been considered recently is to bring water from the Bayano River (dammed in the 1970s) to Gatun Lake.

Meanwhile, the ACP will revise the tolls that it charges to ships that are more than 125 feet long that pass through the canal. All ships will pay an additional surcharge of $10,000 for each transit, plus a a variable rate between one and ten percent depending on Gatun Lake’s level at the time they make the transit. If the lake level is high they will pay a lower toll and vice versa.

 

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¿Wappin? Sounds to get you through the rush

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am
…but maybe not if you are the driver…. Photo by Eric Jackson, from the bus.

Música para el tranque

Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On
https://youtu.be/kJIosOAR6DQ

Morat – Enamórate de alguien más
https://youtu.be/yYTqx1XWkMw

Pearl Jam – Dance of the Clairvoyants
https://youtu.be/ss6mIGfyvXM

Of Monsters & Men – Wars
https://youtu.be/10cyoQjBlNQ

Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
https://youtu.be/jjONcBg44mg

Romeo Santos – La Diabla Mi Santa
https://youtu.be/fMsdtsGy00s

Dread Mar I – Decide Tú
https://youtu.be/Y7g6vzBI1-s

Janis Joplin — Ball and Chain
https://youtu.be/Z1LAphWvPwI

Sech & Darell – Otro Trago
https://youtu.be/t_qn-f7XfJo

Zandie Khumalo – Ngiyak’thanda
https://youtu.be/XyZH5rW55FQ

Louis Tomlinson – Walls
https://youtu.be/ASt2TJ48r6k

Elton John – Sacrifice
https://youtu.be/t9MCJpSXPLI

Barbara Wilson y Orquesta de Toby Muñoz – Adios
https://youtu.be/C3h-rauDAE0

David Bowie & Eddie Vedder — Comfortably Numb (a fan edit)
https://youtu.be/Ob2VbWPTVhc

Francisca Valenzuela – Flotando
https://youtu.be/3pvIKTa5GQI

The Beatles – Let It Be
https://youtu.be/2Q5ZuTsrZuk

The Corrs – All Time Best of Their Live Stuff
https://youtu.be/lpYQNwL4HMc

Would you diversify the musical part of The Panama News?

Music is such a huge part of the human experience. Tastes vary by generation, education, inclination, ethnicity and so many other things. The editor is of a certain buzzardly old age and has been influenced in certain ways throughout his life, but on the other hand has no formal education in music and is not really mathematical enough to get into many of its deeper subtleties.

No doubt about it, you WILL be different from that, at least in some ways. What’s in doubt is whether there will be volunteers to add new depth to the musical aspect of The Panama News — new playlists with different sensibilities that likely touch different genres, articles, reviews, demonstration videos, things like that. Do you think that you might have something to add, either as an occasional contributor or as a regular volunteer? If you’d like to pitch in with a bit of your labor to improve our content, send the editor an email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com.

 

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Kermit’s birds / Las aves de Kermit

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do the bird bird bird
Cinnamon Woodpecker – Carpintero Canelo – Celeus loricatus.
Encontrado en Gamboa, provincia de Colón. Foto © Kermit Nourse.

Cinnamon Woodpecker / Carpintero Canelo

This species runs from Nicaragua to southern Ecuador. Both male and female were foraging just above eye level when saw them. This one is a female — the male bears a red mustache. They are found in locales on both sides of the isthmus, but far from uniformly spread. On the Pacific Side they are most common in the eastern part of Panama province and into Darien. In the canal area they are perhaps most frequently seen out along the Pipeline Road.

~ ~

Esta especie se extiende desde Nicaragua hasta el sur de Ecuador. Tanto macho y hembra se alimentaban justo por encima del nivel de los ojos cuando los vieron. Esta es una hembra: el macho tiene un bigote rojo. Se encuentran en lugares a ambas vertientes del istmo, pero lejos de extenderse de manera uniforme. En la vertiente del Pacífico, son más comunes en la parte oriental de la provincia de Panamá y en Darién. En el área del Canal, tal vez se los ve con mayor frecuencia a lo largo del Camino del Oleoducto.

 


 

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A tropical child

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baby prep
A Tuesday market scene at Picasso’s in Coronado. Photo by Eric Jackson.
 

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Al peso que no parece así, una valiente joya

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bird dropping?
El ojo perspicaz de la científica Annette Aiello, observó el intrépido comportamiento de un insecto iridiscente que se asemeja a excremento de ave con semillas azules incrustadas. El escarabajo joya, Amorphosoma penicillatum, haciéndose pasar por un excremento de ave. Foto por Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

NO es popó de pájaro, es una valiente joya

por STRI

La primera vez que observó una mancha azulada sobre una hoja en su jardín en Arraiján, Panamá, Annette Aiello pensó que era excremento de ave, pero su formación como entomóloga la llevó a observar de nuevo. Después de años estudiando mariposas mientras pasan de huevos a orugas, a posteriormente adultos, “fue engañada al pensar que era una oruga”.

Las orugas que comen hojas a menudo imitan los excrementos de pájaros para disgustar a los posibles depredadores. Pero, cuando Annette se preparó para recoger la hoja, la “oruga” rodó al suelo, donde pasó 20 minutos buscándola en vano. Frustrada, siguió buscando en el árbol bajo y espinoso llamado Xylosma chlorantha, para obtener más información.

El nombre científico del árbol proviene de las palabras griegas xylon (madera) y osme (olor), y sus hojas pueden estar produciendo algunos químicos desagradables para evitar que la mayoría de los insectos se lo coman. Los extractos de una planta estrechamente relacionada en la India se usan como antiespasmóticos, narcóticos y sedantes. Otros miembros de la misma familia de plantas (Salicaceae) producen el ingrediente activo en la aspirina, el ácido salicílico.

Días después, la paciencia de Annette fue recompensada. Esta vez estaba lista, atrapando el segundo espécimen en una bolsa de plástico. Para su sorpresa, en lugar de una oruga, la bolsa contenía un escarabajo joya. Los recolectores de insectos aprecian a muchos escarabajos joya (Buprestidae) por sus alas iridiscentes e incluso los convierten en joyas, pero esta especie, Amorphosoma penicillatum, fue el primer escarabajo joya que Annette había visto que parecía un pedazo de excremento.

Y fiel a su forma, cuando tocó al escarabajo, en lugar de volar lejos, que es lo que la mayoría de los otros escarabajos joya harían al primer signo de acercamiento humano, se quedó muy quieto, tan quieto como un excremento de pájaro: un excremento de pájaro intrépido.

Los escarabajos han existido desde el período carbonífero de la historia de la Tierra hace unos 350 millones de años. Y aproximadamente la mitad de todos los escarabajos son herbívoros. Hace mucho tiempo obtuvieron la capacidad de producir enzimas especiales que degradan las paredes celulares de las plantas, la fuente más abundante de carbohidratos en el planeta. Una de las explicaciones del hecho de que hay tantas especies de escarabajos en la Tierra (más de 400,000) es que muchos escarabajos están especialmente adaptados para vivir en una sola especie de planta.

“La actitud de ‘no me importa’ de A. penicillatum es desconcertante”, escribe Annette en el Coleopterists Bulletin, “Sí, es una imitación increíble, que indudablemente ayuda a protegerlo del ataque de las aves. Sin embargo, una vez capturado, ¿por qué este escarabajo no intenta escapar? ¿Tiene una defensa química que no pudimos detectar? ¿Es un objeto tan duro que un ave decide rechazarlo? Hay algunos informes de otros escarabajos joya que parecen excrementos, pero no se describió nada sobre su comportamiento, por lo que no tenemos pistas adicionales para explicar este sorprendente descubrimiento”.

“Posiblemente, el comportamiento intrépido ocurre en otros lugares entre las más de 14,700 especies que componen los Buprestidae en todo el mundo”, comentó Aiello.

it's ALIVE!
El escarabajo joya, Amorphosoma penicillatum, caminando. Foto por Annette Aiello, STRI.

Referencia: Aiello, A. 2019. Amorphosoma penicillatum (Klug, 1827) (Coleoptera: Buprestidae: Agrilinae): A Fearless Jewel Beetle in Panama. The Coleopterists Bulletin, 73(4):1-3 https://doi.org/10.1649/0010-065X-73.4.1102

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The Panama News blog links, January 20, 2020

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The Panama News blog links

a Panama-centric selection of other people’s work
una selección Panamá-céntrica de las obras de otras personas

Canal, Maritime & Transportation / Canal, Marítima & Transporte

La Prensa, Copa no acudirá a otro fabricante a pesar de los problemas de Boeing

GreenBiz, Shipping sails toward decarbonization

Seatrade, SAAM Towage buying 70% stake in Intertug

Maritime Executive, Containers lost due to parametric rolling

Sports / Deportes

Boxing Scene, Triple WBA world title rumble in “KO To Drugs” festival in Panama

La Estrella, Panamá será sede de mundial escolar de ajedrez 2020

La Prensa, Los Panama Sharks: campeones de futbol americano sub-16

Economy / Economía

La Estrella, Hospitales de Panamá: no hay cama pa’ tanta gente

Stiglitz, The truth about the Trump economy

Time, The reason that fossil fuel companies now acknowledge climate change

AFP, Document trove shows how ‘Africa’s richest woman’ stole fortune

Portugal Resident, Former Socialist minister named in €35 million corruption probe

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

Mongabay, Deforestation clips howler monkey calls

Heritage Daily, Human ancestors may have eaten hard plants without tooth damage

El País, Un organismo que explica el origen de toda la vida compleja en la Tierra

News / Noticias

AFP, Panama begins exhuming remains of victims of 1989 US invasion

TVN, Proyecto de ley que crea policía penitenciaria preocupa a expertos

La Estrella, La barbarie que expuso la descomposición en las cárceles

AP, Cult tortures and kills in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca

La Prensa, El líder de la secta que trayó terror a la comarca

WOLA, Honduran government moves to gut anti-corruption efforts

DW, Exministro Luis Arce será candidato a la presidencia de Bolivia

BBC, Brazil’s culture minister fired after echoing Goebbels

Reuters, Political vacuum in Haiti could let president rule by decree

AlterNet, Trump releases 2017 Puerto Rico hurricane relief funds – with strings

Slate, Puerto Rico emergency manager fired over warehouse filled with unused aid

The Intercept, Facebook warrant targets student journalists in Puerto Rico

Common Dreams, MSNBC ‘body language expert’ calls Sanders a liar

The Guardian, Top progressives back Sanders as skirmish with Warren rumbles on

AP, Gun industry gathers amid slumping sales and rising tensions

Opinion / Opiniones

Bildt, Hostages of history

Daily Kos contributor, Taiwan and US progressives

Mystal, Unity requires recognizing that Warren is telling the truth

Powers, Martin Luther King Jr. warned that the poor pay for war with their lives

Boff, La historia de Brasil fue escrita por la mano blanca

Blades, El fin de la Colonia

Bernal, La crisis es de política

Cabral, Entrevista con La Prensa

Sagel, La amenaza de agua

Culture / Cultura

EN24: Blades, Reeves and Coltrane shine at the Panama Jazz Festival

The Washington Post, National Archives exhibit blurs anti-Trump messages

Radio Temblor, Una mirada a la ciudad de Colón

 

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

 

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Beluche, El problema de Seguro Social

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CSS
Foto por Seguro Social.

Sobre la crisis de la Caja de Seguro Social:
verdades, medias verdades y mentiras

por Olmedo Beluche

Una invitación a un foro sobre la Caja de Seguro Social, organizado por la Sociedad Panameña de Ingenieros y Arquitectos (SPIA), en 2018, nos ayudó a establecer los múltiples síntomas de la crisis de la entidad, descartar los falsos diagnósticos y señalar el verdadero “vector” responsable de la enfermedad: la corrupción rampante del sistema capitalista panameño.

La crisis de la Caja de Seguro Social es un tópico sobre cuyos síntomas todos hablan:

• desabastecimiento crónico de medicamentos;
• déficit de camas hospitalarias y de especialistas en el interior;
• infecciones nosocomiales recurrentes con decenas de muertes;
• envenenamiento masivo con dietilenglicol;
• externalización constante de cirugías;
• fallecimiento de 21 neonatos en julio pasado; y
• déficit del programa de IVM.

La primera alerta que debemos tener es que algunos sectores malintencionados sostienen una campaña de denuncias sobre estos problemas, pero su objetivo no es la solución para beneficio de los asegurados, sino promover algunas medidas que conduzcan al desguace de la institución y la privatización de sus servicios, mirando con avidez los fondos del programa de Invalidez, Vejez y Muerte. En este sentido, varios gremios han advertido sobre la manzana envenenada de la propuesta de la Cámara de Comercio de dividir la institución.

También se señalan falsos culpables para recortar los beneficios de la atención de salud.

Uno de los mitos más extendidos es que, supuestamente los dependientes de los cotizantes son demasiados y esa es la causa del colapso del sistema. Falso. En 1998, con la mitad de los actuales cotizantes, los dependientes equivalían al 59,68% del total de los beneficiarios de servicios de la CSS, y esa cifra ha descendido al 50,77% en 2016. O sea, ha habido una disminución de casi el 9% en la proporción de dependientes del sistema.

Otro mito es que hay menos cotizantes. Falso: en 1998 habían 712.512 cotizantes y en 2016 estos alcanzaron la cifra de 1.490.101, es decir, los cotizantes aumentaron en 52,18%.

Además, creció enormemente el monto de las cotizaciones que, en 2007, eran poco más de 976 millones de balboas, y en 2017, alcanzaron los 3.648 millones de balboas, un incremento de las cotizaciones del 73,24%.

Para justificar la reforma de los programas de jubilación, un mito muy extendido en la reforma de 2005, fue alegar la supuesta inversión de la pirámide poblacional, es decir, que el número de viejos ya sería mayor que el de la población joven y en edad productiva, lo que haría inviable el programa “definido” o solidario. Lo cierto es que los datos del INEC muestran que a la fecha esa inversión de la pirámide no se ha producido, ni se producirá de manera inminente. La absoluta mayoría de la población, más del 60%, tiene menos de 40 años de edad.

¿Quiénes son los verdaderos culpables de la crisis de la CSS?

La corrupción y un modelo económico neoliberal que ha permitido situaciones como:

• Una “morosidad”, que en realidad es un robo de las cuotas, por empresas privadas e instituciones públicas de cientos de millones de dólares (B/. 236 millones);
• Un “manoseo contable” (evasión) de B/. 300 millones, entre funcionarios y empresas, aprovechándose de un cambio en el sistema informático de la institución;
• Un sistema de “Panamá Compra” ineficiente que encarece los medicamentos; verdaderas mafias entre proveedores y funcionarios;
• Inversiones inconsultas e innecesarias, como los B/. 500 millones de la “Ciudad Hospitalaria”.

La crisis del sistema del IVM es de la Ley 51

Ahora resurge la amenaza sobre el programa IVM, que la reforma de 2005 partió en dos, separando a los menores de 35 años de edad, que fueron enviados a un sistema “mixto” (un sistema solidario para salarios inferiores a B/. 500 y un sistema de ahorro, como el SIACAP, sobre esa cifra), y dejó sin aportes de las nuevas generaciones al sistema de cuentas “definido” o solidario, que recibimos los que teníamos más de 35 años de edad al momento de la reforma, con lo cual se le conduce al colapso hacia el 2025, al decir de la Dra. Marianela Morales.

La crisis del programa de IVM será usada por los mismos que promovieron la repudiada reforma de 2005 para volver a proponer: un nuevo aumento de la edad de jubilación y las cuotas, y la transferencia de los fondos a entidades privadas como la Administradoras de Fondos de Jubilación y Pensiones (AFJP).

La solución a la crisis del IVM: volver al sistema solidario de antes de 2005

A nuestro juicio las soluciones son de dos ámbitos:

• Volver a un sistema de cuentas definido o solidario, que puede ser sustentado por un crecimiento de cotizantes y cotizaciones en los últimos años.
• Esto también requiere, para que sea sostenible en el tiempo, un modelo económico que no sea neoliberal, es decir, que promueva el empleo juvenil bien remunerado, lo que tiene como precondición el proteccionismo a la agricultura y la industria, reales creadoras de riqueza y empleos.

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