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Plague Days Free Form

Forma libre de los días de la peste

Frank Zappa – What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?
https://youtu.be/N1rwkgCAVsc

The Tubes – Don’t Touch Me There
https://youtu.be/QTd3PrTzSPY

Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
https://youtu.be/VdQY7BusJNU

Rita & Ziggy Marley – One Love/People Get Ready
https://youtu.be/Su2pOkFagAs

The Lumineers – Stubborn Love
https://youtu.be/LBr7bFvD6ZY

Erika Ender – Despacito
https://youtu.be/HnYf6mSx7xo

Peter Tosh – Mystic Man
https://youtu.be/yNPoRSwQdmE

Nattali Rize – Fear & Dread
https://youtu.be/CdqggFN4wBs

David Gilmour – Yes, I Have Ghosts
https://youtu.be/gMioXjmUe5U

Cássia Eller – O segundo sol
https://youtu.be/MLI2QlgjGmA

Thelonious Monk – Ugly Beauty
https://youtu.be/vofbnkQcW_Q

John Prine – Illegal Smile
https://youtu.be/MmjnQjRvPUQ

Melanie Safka – Lay Down
https://youtu.be/hlp3wmE4bbI

Of Monsters and Men – Wild Roses
https://youtu.be/C9LPQmkao8c

Carla Thomas – Gee Whiz
https://youtu.be/vLfOzHK6i9g

Shakira in concert – El Dorado World Tour
https://youtu.be/KtDOsZ9Clq4

 

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Two ex-presidents interrogated and get travel restrictions on one day

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EPASA
Does Ricardo Martinelli go to prison, or a psychiatric ward, over what prosecutors say is his purchase of a media empire with stolen funds while he was president? Or will it do for the government and prosecutors just to strip him of these assets, which are used to publish attacks on people in the legal system like this one and perhaps boost Martinelli’s return to the presidency in 2024. From the El Panama America Twitter feed, promoting yet another dubious legal argument.

Varela and Martinelli before the prosecutors

by Eric Jackson

On July 2, former presidents Juan Carlos Varela and Ricardo Martinelli made their ways to the Avesa Building on Via España to face interrogation by separate prosecutors on separate cases. The two men, once running mates, are bitter political enemies.

Martinelli, who was president between 2009 and 2014, didn’t testify. He asserted his right not to testify in a case in which he is suspected or accused, pursuant to Article 25 of the Panamanian Constitution. The one with questions for him that day was the organized crime prosecutor and the subject matter was “New Business.” As to the former president it’s a money laundering case at the moment.

The affair takes the name of one of a series of shell companies through which it is said that Martinelli, when he was president, diverted state funds to buy himself a media empire, the flagship of which is EPASA, the parent company for the El Panama America and La Critica newspapers. The allegation is of overpriced construction contracts for a legislative office building and the widening of the highway between Arraijan and La Chorrera, the excess skimmed and laundered through 18 companies or foundations, four individuals and a law firm and run through 24 accounts in 13 companies in four countries.

So, what’s Martinelli’s defense to that one? That since he prevailed on lower courts to throw out evidence of illegal eavesdropping and theft sent down to them by the Supreme Court, a principle in the 1904 US-Panama extradition treaty, “specialty,” protects him from being tried for any other crimes. Except that the 1904 treaty was not the only ground for Martinelli’s extradition from the United States and some of the other international agreements, like the Cyber Crimes Convention, don’t include specialty clauses.

In any case, the prosecutor ordered Martinelli not to leave the country and to report every 15 days.

The following day Martinelli had another appointment, for an indagatoria (sworn deposition in a criminal matter before a prosecutor and court reporter) about allegedly taking bribes from the notorious Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht. He didn’t attend. A lawyer submitted a doctor’s note saying he couldn’t handle it.

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A 2017 prosecutor’s chart outlining the alleged New Business scheme.

On the same day former president Juan Carlos Varela, who was president between mid-2015 and mid-2019, appeared for a second indagatoria session. He was questioned for eight hours. In his case it was before the anti-corruption prosecutor, over alleged bribery by Odebrecht.

Much of the evidence against Varela was developed by foreign courts or prosecutors, particularly but not only in Brazil and Spain. Worse in many ways is that the allegations came first and most prominently from Varela’s erstwhile minister without portfolio, Ramón Fonseca Mora. As in the notorious lawyer whose firm’s archives got pilfered and published and known as The Panama Papers. In the wake of that scandal Fonseca was sacked and prosecuted as Varela caved under international pressure. Fonseca responded with his tales of millions in Odebrecht payoffs and there has been corroboration by some of the people allegedly involved, who made plea bargains.

Varela’s defense was that he didn’t take a cent, that it was all a matter of legal corporate contributions to his Panameñista Party.

The prosecutor ordered Varela not to leave the country and to report every 30 days while this case is pending.

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In mid-May the National Assembly’s Credentials Committee referred a number of criminal complaints that were made against Varela while he was president to the regular prosecutors of the Public Ministry. There has been some doubt about the seriousness of any public corruption prosecutions, as former Attorney General Kenia Porcell was forced out for improper communications with Varela and others about politically charged cases, and the new attorney general shifted the chief anti-corruption prosecutor to a new assignment in the Interior. At this point it does appear that the Odebrecht cases are going forward, against both Varela and Martinelli, and a host of others. Some of the “others” have made their deals with prosecutors to turn state’s evidence. Asamblea Nacional photo.
 

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Red Cross leader sounds off about Bolsonaro and Trump

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ICRC
Francesco Rocca, from his Twitter feed. The remarks from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies president Francesco Rocca for lawmakers to heed science came as Trump said the coronavirus is “going to sort of just disappear.”

ICRC chief slams Bolsonaro and Trump
for anti-scientific COVID-19 responses

by Andrea GermanosCommon Dreams

The head of the Red Cross federation on Wednesday expressed grave concern about the continuing spread of the coronavirus in the Americas and criticized Brazilian and US government leaders for their disastrous science-rejecting responses to the pandemic thus far.

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), made the remarks at a virtual press conference in Geneva where he warned that “we haven’t yet reached the peak of this outbreak.”

Rocca said the effects of partisan rhetoric and policies out-of-line with science on the pandemic were clear.

“America as a continent is paying the highest price for this kind of division or not following the advice coming from the scientific community,” he said. President Donald Trump in the United States and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have faced sustained criticism over their handling of the coronavirus. Bolsonaro, who notably dismissed it as a “little flu,” has, like Trump, refused to wear a face mask in public gatherings.

The two countries lead the world in coronavirus cases. As of press time, the Johns Hopkins tracker showed the USA with the highest number of confirmed cases—over 2.6 million. Brazil is a distant second with over 1.4 million confirmed cases. The countries also have the highest number of Covid-19 related deaths; the United States has had over 128,000 such deaths and Brazil over 60,000.

According to Rocca, Bolsonaro “underestimated the consequences of Covid, and his country is living the consequences.”

“If the scientific community is saying that it is important to avoid to shake hands, and to wear masks, I think that the leaders should follow and listen,” Rocca said when asked about Trump’s mask refusal.

Rocca added that other world leaders too “have been irresponsible” in their response to the coronavirus pandemic and said politicians must “start learning to follow the advice coming from the scientific community.”

Rocca’s remarks came the same day Trump said the virus would “disappear.”

“I think we’re gonna be very good with the coronavirus,” Trump told Fox Business. “I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

The United States is on a string of record-setting single-day totals for the coronavirus, hitting a fourth record on Tuesday with over 48,000 new cases and over 50,000 cases on Wednesday.

According to the nation’s top infectious disease expert, the daily figure could go even higher.

Speaking before a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he “would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.”

 

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Kermit’s birds / Las aves de Kermit

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red-crowned woodpecker
Carpintero Coronirrojo ~ Red-crowned Woodpecker ~Melanerpes rubricapillus   Foto © Kermit Nourse

Red-crowned Woodpecker / Carpintero Coronirrojo

A common bird in Panama, except that you won’t find them in the middle of dense old-growth forests, at altitudes over 4,000 feet or on the island of Taboga. They’re fun to watch, except perhaps if you have fruit trees and they decide to supplement their main diet of insects with a bit of your fruit. But they come singly or in couples, so will not do much damage to your fruit harvest. This species ranges from southern Costa Rica to northern Colombia, Venezuela and the Guianas. 

Un pájaro común en Panamá, excepto que no los encontrará en medio de densos bosques antiguos, a altitudes de más de 4,000 pies o en la isla de Taboga. Son divertidos de ver, excepto quizás si tiene árboles frutales y deciden complementar su dieta principal de insectos con un poco de su fruta. Pero vienen solos o en parejas, por lo que no harán mucho daño a su cosecha de frutas. Esta especie abarca desde el sur de Costa Rica hasta el norte de Colombia, Venezuela y las Guayanas.

 




 

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

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Galant, A world-scale Green New Deal

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climate emergency
The rules of the global economy got us into this mess. But rules can change. Shutterstock photo.

We need a global Green New Deal

by Michael Galant – OtherWords

The global economy is collapsing. When the pandemic began, experts at the International Monetary Fund predicted that we would see the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. This week, they announced that it will be even worse than they thought.

This disaster comes into a world already facing record inequality, desperate poverty, and a growing climate crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed a precarious world economy over the edge. This moment offers a rare opportunity to rethink the path that led us here and chart a new course out: a Global Green New Deal.

We have a tendency to treat the global economy as something natural — beyond our control.

We may understand that poverty, epidemics, and environmental destruction within the United States are not inevitable. There are certain rules in place that benefit some over others. People are not poor because they fail to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. People are poor because wages are too low, because we don’t invest in public goods, because the wealthy are too powerful.

But when it comes to the world economy, we forget. We forget that there are rules that determine how it all works. We forget that these rules were created not by God but by man. We forget that they can be changed.

The current rules are actually rather new. Born out of the financial crisis of the 1970s, these mirrored on the global level what Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were doing at home — crushing labor unions, slashing environmental protections, and empowering corporations.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund lent recklessly to poor countries, saddling them with debt and imposing deregulation, austerity, and labor suppression. Trade agreements like the infamous NAFTA set corporations free to search the world for profits without added protection for workers or the environment.

Nations were forced into a competitive “race to the bottom” in wages, taxes, and regulations in an attempt to lure desperately needed investment. Multinational corporations began to outsource jobs to countries where wages were lower and environmental regulations lax — and outsource profits to a shadowy network of tax havens.

The suppression of worker power deepened inequality. The decimation of environmental standards fueled the climate crisis. Decades of budget-slashing left us all unprepared to confront a pandemic. The rules that govern the world economy were not inevitable. They were intentional, and they led us to where we are today.

To escape the global recession and build a more resilient world on the other side, we need to rewrite the rules. We need a system of trade that puts workers and the environment before corporate profits. We need enforceable global floors on wages, labor laws, and environmental protections. We need global coordination to end the scourge of tax havens, debt relief for countries in crisis, and massive global redistribution.

In short, we need a Global Green New Deal.

This ambitious agenda will be hard to achieve. But if there was ever a time for big change, it is now. It was after the devastation of World War II that the United Nations was born. It was from the recessions of the 1970’s that the latest world order emerged. It is out of a catastrophe as profound as COVID-19 that a new trail can be forged.

When Margaret Thatcher was setting the world on course to the present crisis, she had a slogan: “There is no alternative.” For too long, we believed it.

Now, there’s reason for the phrase to come back into use: There is no alternative. To rebuild the global economy, to prepare for the next pandemic, to confront the climate crisis, we have no choice: we need a Global Green New Deal.

 

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El informe de Nito a la nación y algunas reacciones

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… y comentarios diversos

 

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Nito makes changes as epidemic toll soars

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Dr. Luis Francisco Sucre, the new health minister. He steps up from the vice minister’s post. He’s the who, given his predecessor’s embarrassing conflict of interest, imposed the fines on the PRD and Jimmy’s restaurant after a controversial meeting of the party’s electoral committee in violation of curfew rules. He’s a Panamanian and Argentine educated physician specializing in occupational health, who has also serves as the director of the SINAPROC disaster relief agency. Sucre is from a family with extensive political ties and a power base in Panama City’s corregimiento of Juan Diaz. His brother Javier is a member of the National Assembly. MINSA photo.

Dark days with rays of hope

by Eric Jackson

Things are in disarray.

For the past week, every day Panama’s pandemic death toll has been in double digits. Lately the number of new infections reported daily has been topping 1,000.

The nation’s intensive care ward capacity is overflowed. The 90-bed obstetrics and newborns ward at Irma de Lourdes Tzanetato Hospital is no longer used for delivering babies, but to treat adult COVID-19 patients. At Seguro Social’s flagship Arnulfo Arias Hospital Complex, they tested patients in the cardiology and hematology wards, and more than half of the patients in those facilities were found to be infected with the coronavirus and had to be transferred to ward dedicated to those who are infected.

From early on, people on the front line have been obviously vulnerable. Doctors, nurses and orderlies at the nation’s health care facilities are known among those who have become infected, even if them government invents one excuse after another to hide the numbers. It’s to the point where we now see street protests by members of the health care workers’ unions.

So should these protests be broken up by police? It turns out that a lot of law enforcement officers – the number also unspecified by the government but very real according to unofficial anecdotes and terse official death notices – have become infected. In at least one case, the cops staffing a checkpoint on the entrance to one upscale expatriate enclave turned out to be themselves sick with the virus they were there to exclude, and spreading it into the community that they were sent to protect.

People who really ought to be hospitalized for conditions that have nothing to do with COVID-19 are being shunted to other facilities or sent home because the hospitals where they would ordinarily go are not entirely dedicated to those infected with the coronavirus. The epidemic’s full death toll will be understated so long as this condition exists because those whose demises are proximately caused by the unavailability of services due to the hospital overflows will not be counted as infection-related.

 

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Late June figures, necessarily imprecise for lack of universal random testing but with Johns Hopkins statisticians taking the deficiencies into account. What we see, in effect, is the collapse of Panama’s early quarantine measures. Numbers from Johns Hopkins, chart taken from JulieAnn Blam’s Facebook page.

 

So, who is to blame and what is to be done?

By some ways of thinking, the thing to do is to shake up the team and assign blame. The first part of which President Cortizo has partially done, the second part of which he has mostly left to others.

The most immediate failure has been widespread disobedience of the president’s health decrees. The most massive concentrations of this phenomenon have been in poor areas where most of the people who work do so informally so long have been ignored by the government – except to periodically drive them out of places – and whose existence is not recognized by the government. These people were excluded from the government’s food relief program, headed by Vice President Carrillo, who came to that post from his job as a banker. One of the few concessions to the economic realities of the poor was at the outset to exclude Colon and San Miguelito from the economic team’s requirement that people’s existence be officially recognized in order to receive such food assistance as they were offering. Originally it was $80 per month per household, since raised to $100.

Those left out of work who had no union contracts, tended to be similarly unrecognized. Those with labor contracts but belonging to organizations with which the PRD has off and on been at war for decades – most notably the SUNTRACS construction workers’ union – frequently found themselves excluded from the program for this or that alleged glitch.

Cortizo and his economic team deliberately made a lot of poor folks go hungry, figuring that the police would handle the problems that it created. Mostly the response was not to riot in the streets or loot little grocery stores – although there has been some of that – but to disobey quarantines and curfews and go out in search of ways to make money and obtain food. A lot of people in places like Arraijan and some of Panama City’s poorer enclaves did that, became infected, and spread the virus in their overcrowded households and densely populated neighborhoods.

Leave the insufferable cultural, educational, social and racial theories about poor people in Panama to haughty rabiblancos and to clueless expats informed mainly by prejudices they brought here with them. However, these notions aren’t just about those who scrape by in ways that they generally can’t imagine. The generally privileged castes also have some odd theories about themselves.

A Jewish wedding in Paitilla, a wealthy Evangelical preacher working the streets of Colon, anti-masker gringos in Coronado, politicians who initially called the epidemic a big hoax and made a point of defying the health measures, a celebrity who worked connections to get a special pass, thousands of mostly upscale people who got “humanitarian” passes for weekend commutes from the city to the beach that unconnected people can’t get – the instances have been variously flaunted or hidden. There has been this aristocratic presumption of immunity. However, members of the political caste and their families have been getting sick. So have people in expensive homes in the beach and mountain communities. It’s not like in the densely populated barrios of the poor, but the contagion is out and about among those who had fancied themselves specially protected.

And then the ruling PRD’s deputies, party president and members of the organization’s elections committee defied restaurant closure decrees and time and place of circulation rules to meet at Jimmy’s, a good restaurant near ATLAPA. The occasion was to choose their slate to lead the National Assembly for the 2020 – 2021 legislative year. Health Minister Rosario Turner, one of the elections committee members, signed the call for that meeting. A journalist from outside the mainstream and some political independents found out about the meeting and showed up outside to protest. Shall we more properly say that the demonstrators were mostly there to point out the hypocrisy and not to defend the health measures that they also were violating?

 

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Health Minister Rosario Turner took the fall after the embarrassment at Jimmy’s. She had been getting vilified as this horrible dictator by many of those expats and Panamanians who had opposed and still oppose the health decrees. Nito Cortizo did not consult with other PRD leaders before dismissing her. Afterward, mostly outside of the president’s party, a number of people rose to Dr. Turner’s defense. Here it is the University of Panama’s rector. Several prominent women saw the president’s cabinet changes as a matter of women losing their jobs for a grim situation that was largely created by errors committed by the men in charge of Panama’s economic response to the pandemic. From the rector’s Twitter feed.

 

The shuffle

On the afternoon of June 24 Nito made his cabinet moves. The economic team, led by Vice President and Minister of the Presidency José Gabriel Carrizo and including Minister of Public Works Rafael Sabonge – the latter much criticized for some overpriced purchases for the new modular hospital in Albrook and irregular procedures and lack of transparency that went with them – remains in place. Gone from the cabinet are three women, replaced by two men and a woman.

By some accounts it was the removal of a faction that questioned the economic team, the pediatrician health minister Dr. Turner and Social Development Minister Markova Concepción, the latter sent to New York to be Panama’s ambassador at the United Nations. By any measure Cortizo turned to influential old PRD families. Turner was replaced by the vice minister, Luis Francisco Sucre, whose family more or less dominates the Panama City corregimiento of Juan Diaz as their fiefdom. The new health minister’s brother Javier is a deputy in the current legislature. His sister Imelda runs the Juan Diaz junta comunal. Javier’s suplente is Omar Castillo, the son of former PRD legislator Elías Castillo and brother of the new Minister of Social Development, now ambassador Conceptción’s replacement María Inés Castillo. Replacing Minister of Housing and Land Management Inés Samudio is former legislator Rogelio Paredes, whose father, the late Rigoberto Paredes, was a key civilian apparatchik for the Torrijos and then Noriega military dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s. Rogelio Paredes was promoted from the vice minister’s post, which he also held in the 1994-1999 Pérez Balladares administration.

The old guard retrenching to carry on with unpopular policies? An unpopular president who was elected by just barely more than a third of the electorate in the first place approaching the end of the first year of his five-year term with the opposition smelling blood in the water and disinclined to lend him a hand?

The cabinet shift, however, was not the only personnel change. A new presidential consultative committee, nominated by Dr. Sucre, was creaated to include former health ministers Jorge Medrano, Francisco Sánchez Cárdenas and Camilo Alleyne; Seguro Social director Enrique Lau, minister without portfolio and presidential health advisor Eyra Ruíz and the dean of the University of Panama medical faculty, Enrique Mendoza. These folks will advise the president on broad strategic matters, including which areas of the country merit special concern at any given moment and the pace of businesses and activities reopening, or closing again after openings that have not gone well.

At the request of physicians both on and off the committee, the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 crisis advisory committee was dissolved in order to be reorganized. Most of all of its members will still advise the ministry, but on smaller bodies dedicated to specific tasks such as tracing the contacts of people who test positive, communicating health information to the public, investigating palliative medicines and possible cures or vaccines, developing unified protocols for patient care, and community attention outside of the hospitals.

A few days later, as the flood of new cases began to overwhelm the nation’s largest hospitals, Sucre and Lau formed the Inter-Hospital Control Center to work out a practical division of labor among the nation’s health care facilities. The word “permanent” was used in the announcement. It may well be that the old divisions between the Social Security Fund’s hospitals and those of the Ministry of Health, and within those institutions, will never reappear as they were. Given the magnitude of the crisis, we also don’t know if the nation’s private hospitals will be drafted into a new scheme.

 

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The conflicts between medical advice and business pressures appear to be ongoing in the Cortizo administration as well as in society as a whole after the cabinet shuffle. From Dr. Nieto’s Twitter feed.

 

Next with the economy?

As the first known COVID-19 cases in Panama came to light this past March, it was easy enough to see that no matter how well or poorly the outbreak was to be controlled, Panama was in for a prolonged economic disruption.

At the center of our economy is the role of transportation and commercial crossroads. Yes, the Panama Canal, but also the seaports that have grown up beside it, and also the regional import/export wholesaling and warehousing businesses in the Colon and Howard free zones. Also the railroad moving containers between the ports and free zones. Also the major air hub of the Americas at Tocumen. Lock these down and the economy locks down.

Keep these running full blast? First of all that could not really happen, given nearly worldwide air travel restrictions and a precipitous decline in global maritime shipping. Moreover, carrying on in the old ways would open our “doors” – bigger, busier and more numerous per capita than those of any of our neighbors – would open us to a free flow of infection to and from the four corners of the Earth. If we were dumb enough to try that, then other countries would have closed their ports to ships coming out of the Panama Canal. We had to slow down, for air travel to nearly shut down. So forget tourism for the duration, and to a great extent also forget commerce.

Also as the quarantine measures were being imposed in March, the Cortizo administration was issuing a third tranche of bonds, part of an aggregate $5.8 billion in borrowing to meet what the president characterized as unpaid and unbudgeted obligations inherited from prior administrations. That first year of Cortizo borrowing bought the public debt up to a record more than $32 billion as the virus got a grip on us.

The estimates of the economic hit that the epidemic will represent to Panama are necessarily speculative and, in the Panamanian mainstream media, generally spun according to the owners’ political allegiances. Cortizo himself alluded in in July 1 report to the legislature and nation of $2 billion in austerity measures, and boasted of a food assistance program that reached about $1.6 million people, which would be just over one-third of the country’s population. At $80 per month per household, now increased to $100.

The government’s food assistance does not reach much of the population that before the quarantines, curfews and travel restrictions eked out their livings in the myriad pursuits of the informal economy. In any case it’s not enough to feed a family. From many social classes and points on the political spectrum comes the observation that Nito’s economic plan to get us through the epidemic is unsustainable.

A counterpoint demand from the left side of Panama’s labor movement is for a guaranteed monthly family income of $500. But look at the debt. How, other than massive confiscations from all of those who have stolen from the government, grabbed lands both public and privately owned by others, raped the environment via illegal logging, strained Panama’s relations with the rest of the world by money laundering activities or so on, could we pay for this? Neither the dictatorship’s constitution that we have nor the policies of international lenders would allow this. The labor proposal is more realistic for working people than Nito’s program, but without other big changes in Panama and the world is also unsustainable.

Overpriced government purchases, overpaid political apparatchiki and corny information control games make the political problem worse. Reliance on riot cops to keep things under control may be misplaced.

There is and will be a period of class warfare. A nearly closed economy will take away labor’s usual threat of crippling strikes. The debt and the PRD’s minority status will detract from the ruling party’s usual ability to smooth things out with political patronage.

The unpopular PRD figiure who first arose as a dictatorship operative on the University of Panama campus and went on to be mayor of San Miguelito, legislator, housing minister and the PRD candidate who was crushed by Ricardo Martinelli in 2009 may have few chances at a personal political comeback, but nevertheless she’s an astute observer of things and, at the risk of jeers from many sectors, some of the media still call on her to comment. Lately she’s talking about the Cortizo administration reinventing itself and reaching a widely accepted national agreement on the shape of a post-epidemic Panama. She suggests, however, that the current economic orientation will need to change to arrive at any such deal.

Nito, for his part, is open about making mistakes and has repeatedly shown a propensity to change policies that don’t go well. Confrontation and then compromise would be the style of both the president and the labor militants, but the gravity of the economic situation might call for radical measures that one or both sides consider unpalatable.

 

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The Presidencia tweets. Click here to watch the video, which is in Spanish.

 

Meanwhile, there is this virus with no political preferences

The second wave of coronavirus cases is much worse than the first in Panama. But aside from a little bit of repetition by a few business leaders of anti-scientific memes borrowed form the United States, the anti-mask and “open everything up” stuff seems to be losing out to the doctors’ advice here. Vice President Carrizo’s political base is crumbling on that score as the hospitals overflow.

But despite the spikes in COVID-19 deaths and infections, the global trend is for a reduced death rate for those who do get sick. That’s because, even if neither a promising vaccine nor a specific total cure appear on the horizon, doctors are getting better at treating symptoms.

There is also promising research about how the virus works on a cellular and molecular basis, which may in turn lead to new ways of inhibiting its course of destruction through the human body. A virus for which there is no cure and no vaccine? HIV is one of those, too, but it’s not quite the death sentence that it once was because ways have been found to slow down the infection and treat its symptoms. Some of the better news comes out of the University of California at San Francisco, where researchers have noticed that COVID-19 attacks cells in similar ways that certain cancers do. This, they say, suggests the suppression of the virus’s progress with some of the same sorts of drugs that are use to slow down cancers’ growth. It’s all very preliminary, but around the world many brilliant people are working on many possible avenues to fight the disease. The lack of a vaccine or a “magic bullet” should not be reason for total despair.

Public confidence? Throughout most of this crisis the former health minister, Rosario Turner, was the most trusted figure in the Cortizo administration. There hasn’t been any polling on how her signature on the call for that illegal meeting at Jimmy’s affected that. The then vice minister, Dr. Sucre, was the one who imposed the fines on the PRD and the restaurant, and perhaps he will be the one to regain a measure of trust. The medical profession is traditionally popular in Panama. His problem will be if he gives sound medical advice which is economically impossible to take.

 

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This campus radical, marching down Avenida Central, makes the vice president the focus of her critique. PAT photo from Miss Behania’s Twitter feed.

 

 

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Cancillería desmiente a medio de Martinelli sobre el caso de Martinelli

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Ricky
El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores responde a un reclamo que Ricardo Martinelli hizo a través de un periódico que posee (El Panamá América) sobre una serie de denuncias penales sobre Ricardo Martinelli. El ex presidente afirma que la doctrina de la especialidad significa que, dado que el tribunal inferior rechazó las pruebas que le envió la Corte Suprema de Justicia en el caso de espionaje ilegal y hurto de computadoras y programas de espionaje, no puede ser juzgado por ningún otro delito.
Sin embargo, esa afirmación no se ha probado en los tribunales aquí, y el ministerio niega que haya dicho lo que Ricky Martinelli dice que dijo. Martinelli ha perdido el control del partido Cambio Democrático que fundó y que una vez fue su dueño, y su regreso político espera en parte descansar en convencer a la gente de ese partido y del electorado general de que sus problemas legales están detrás de él.

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Editorials: Post-collapse; and Precedents or lack thereof

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Colon
A Colon hunger protest: not the best way to go, but to have been expected.

Post-collapse

Panama’s initial effort to defend against the coronavirus with a quarantine collapsed because Nito Cortizo sided with the ultra-rich and adopted policies that made it impossible for a huge part of the population to both obey the rules and feed themselves and their families. It was not the health minister’s failure, it was the economic team’s failure. The overpriced purchases, too many exceptions for the privileged, the police state information controls, the delayed pay for and lack of proper protective gear for health care workers, the non-payment of merchants who sold food to people via the government’s food assistance program – those were just gravy.

The president has changed publicists and made it clear that his rabiblanco economic advice is still public policy.

So, while it’s not the time for self-destructive shows of defiance, people need to pay less attention to the promises of a failing presidency and take our defense into our own hands. Nonviolent hands. Frequently washed hands. Hands that put on masks when going out in public. Hands that help our neighbors when Nito’s administration fails to do so. Hands that are found at home whenever possible.

  

Fla
Wikimedia photo by Cayobo from Key West, The Conch Republic.

Precedented and unprecedented

Is the Kremlin subsidizing the deaths of American and allied soldiers? Didn’t the Soviet Union do that on a grand scale in Vietnam?

The United States training jihadis to kill Russian soldiers? Back when the CIA was backing Osama bin Laden against the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan, wasn’t that exactly what was done?

And there is this Russian-backed faction in Libya, that’s in retreat in its war with a US-backed faction. And there is this US-backed faction in Syria, that’s in retreat in its war with a Russian-backed faction.

If Putin is paying to keep US forces bogged down in Afghanistan, that’s not trivial, but it’s also not the stuff of a winning Democratic fall campaign. It’s something about which a Biden administration should talk to the Russians. It’s not something about which to charge off into a ruinous Cold War II, however much the arms merchants would like that. There is plenty of precedent to put things into proper perspective.

MEANWHILE…

Epidemics? Lots of precedents for those – you can go back to the ancient scriptures to read about them. Botched US responses to epidemics? The influenza that ended World War I is an example of that.

A US president who for a reality-free ideological reason tore down national defenses, leading to tens of thousands of avoidable deaths of Americans? That’s what Donald Trump did when he dismantled the US pandemic response apparatus, and what he continues to do every day with his bizarre campaign against science. THAT’S unprecedented.

It’s something that should never be forgotten. Nor should it go left unmentioned on any given day on the 2020 Democratic campaign trail.

  

Barbara Lee

Bear in mind…


Behind every great fortune there is a crime.

Honore de Balzac


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.

Miss Piggy


Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

James Joyce

 

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Sindicatos de CONUSI retiran de la mesa laboral

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