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Punishment enforces cooperation in the fig-wasp mutualism

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ficus
A fig leaf for wasps, cheating or otherwise. Ficus graphic by Unsplash.

In this case, the exception proves the rule

by STRI

Removal of an offender’s hand, tongue or ear: punishments described in Babylon’s Hammurabi Code, depended on the nature of the crime. Published in 1771 B.C., the code set the first formal standards for business interactions. But scientists disagree about whether punishment is necessary to maintain mutually-beneficial interactions between animals and plants in nature. In a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama and the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden in China discovered the exception that clearly demonstrates that sanctions enforce cooperation in the fig-wasp mutualism.

The finely-tuned relationship between many different species of fig trees and their wasps took shape between 70 and 90 million years ago: a female wasp squeezes through a hole in the end of a fig losing her wings in the process. Once inside this sphere full of flowers, she places pollen and eggs on some of the flowers, and as she does, she may also deposit a drop of fluid that causes the developing flower to form gall tissue to feed wasp larvae. Wasps mate inside the fig, males chew exit holes and then females crawl out, carrying pollen as they fly off to repeat this drama in the next fig.

“The currency is unambiguous,” said Allen Herre, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. “One flower can either become one seed, which is good for the future of the tree species or one wasp, which is good for the future of the wasp species, and also is good for the tree—if the wasp carries its pollen to the next flower.”

But what would happen if figs were not pollinated? No fig seeds would develop, and eventually, there would be no more figs trees. That would be a disaster for tropical forests where a huge number of animals, from birds, monkeys and bats in the treetops to wild pigs and even fish, depend on fig fruits to survive.

Botanists in China’s Yunnan province discovered a fig species, Ficus microcarpa, is visited by two different, related wasp species. The first, Eupristina verticillata, is an active pollinator, has combs on its legs to harvest pollen, and pollen pockets. The second, another Eupristina species that has not yet been named, lacks combs and pockets. It lays its eggs in fig fruits and its larvae eat gall tissue, but it doesn’t pollinate the fig.

“Once you have a mutualism established, because everybody benefits, you might not expect to lose it,” Herre said. “We know of relatively few cases where this has clearly happened.”

In previous studies of 16 fig species, fig trees appear to reward wasps that actually pollinate them and provide severe disincentives to wasps that do not. Trees drop figs containing large numbers of unpollinated flowers on the ground where they rot before the young wasps can develop and leave the fig. This punishment, or sanction, for non-pollinators should get rid of wasp species that don’t pollinate.

“If only the wasps that actually pollinate figs preferentially survive, the mutualism between figs and wasps is maintained,” said Charlotte Jander, who studied many different fig species in Panama. “In 16 studies of actively pollinated figs, Ficus microcarpa is the first that does not seem to eliminate non-pollinating wasps by aborting its own fruit.”

“This is the first case ever reported in which a fig species seems to be ambivalent in the face of a non-helpful wasp,” Herre said. “The ancestral pollinators in this case produced an ‘evil twin’ that stopped benefitting the fig by pollinating it. The fig-wasp mutualism is stable when you enforce good behavior. When you do not enforce good behavior, it seems that you may get burned.”

Taking advantage of this special case, in Yunnan’s Ficus microcarpa, researchers set up experiments in which they knew which wasp, a cheater or a pollinator, had entered a given fig. The non-pollinating wasps produced more female offspring than the pollinating wasps, perhaps because they did not waste time and energy pollinating. Figs containing only non-pollinating wasps formed more gall tissue.

The researchers call the non-pollinator a cheater, or a parasite, because it eats seeds but does not pollinate, as opposed to the mutualists that eat in return for pollinating. Because, in this case, the cheaters are better at reproducing than the pollinators, one would expect that they would replace the pollinators altogether, and the mutualistic relationship between figs and wasps would fall apart.

“We found that not only is there is a cheater, but, in every way, it does better than the pollinator,” Herre said. “How can that happen?”

It turns out that the wind seems to play a role in maintaining the mutualism. Research conducted at STRI showed that pollinator wasps easily travel up to 30 kilometers or so. Researchers in China noticed a repeating seasonal pattern in the abundance of each species: During the non-monsoon season, non-pollinating wasps were more abundant, but during the monsoon seasons when the wind blows from the west, pollinators were more abundant.

“We are seeing a system that is not in equilibrium,” Herre said. “In this species of host and these two wasp species, different proportions of incoming wasps from the two species result in different outcomes. But the take home is that sanctions prevent cheating and make for better, more mutually beneficial relationships.”

Reference:

The evolution of parasitism from mutualism in wasps pollinating the fig, Ficus microcarpa, in Yunnan Province, China, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021).

 

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US Justice Departmemt orders Treasury to give Trump tax returns to Congress

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Trump’s crowd shows its stuff on January 6. Photo by Blink O’fanaye.

“About damn time:” DOJ says Treasury must give Trump’s tax returns to Congress

by Jake Johnson — Common Dreams

The US Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said Friday that the Treasury Department is obligated by law to hand former President Donald Trump’s tax returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee, opening the door for Congress to finally obtain the documents after more than two years of legal battles and stonewalling by his administration.

“It is about damn time,” Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, said in a statement. “Our committee first sought Donald Trump’s tax returns on April 3, 2019 — 849 days ago. Our request was made in full accordance with the law and pursuant to Congress’ constitutional oversight powers. And for 849 days, our request has been illegally blocked by a tag-team of the Trump Justice Department and a Trump-appointed judge.”

Pascrell went on to applaud Attorney General Merrick Garland for “doing the right thing and no longer using the government to shield a corrupt private citizen.”

“This case is now bigger even than Donald Trump’s crimes and impacts whether the Article I branch can conduct effective oversight to impose accountability on the Article II branch,” said Pascrell, referring to the legislative and executive branches of government. “Neither the courts, nor the machinery of our government, exist to bodyguard a corrupt private citizen from transparency.”

In a 39-page memo sent to the Treasury Department, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) said that “when one of the congressional tax committees requests tax information pursuant to section 6103(f)(1), and has invoked facially valid reasons for its request, the executive branch should conclude that the request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose only in exceptional circumstances.”

“The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information,” the memo reads. “Under section 6103(f)(1), Treasury must furnish the information to the committee.”

In 2019, Trump’s Treasury Department refused to comply with House Ways and Means Committee chair Representative Richard Neal’s (D-MA) subpoena for the former president’s personal and business tax returns. The committee went on to sue the Treasury Department — then headed by former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin — over its obstruction, prompting Trump to file suit against the congressional panel in his capacity as a private citizen.

Last September, the New York Times — which obtained Trump tax-return data spanning more than two decades —published a major investigative story detailing how he paid just “$750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency.”

“In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750,” the Times reported. “He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.”

Under a Trump-appointed federal judge’s order, the Treasury Department is required to give Trump’s lawyers 72 hours’ notice before providing the former president’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, giving Trump a potential opportunity to stop the release of the documents. But that order is set to expire on August 3.

In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the OLC memo “a victory for the rule of law, as it respects the public interest by complying with Chairman Neal’s request for Donald Trump’s tax returns.”

“The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president,” Pelosi said.

 

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SPOG, La vaina de MINSA

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SPOG 2
 

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Caribbean asphyxiation

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Desperate brittlestars, suffocating corals and resilient microbes: the first characterization of an acute marine hypoxic event and its historical context.

Lack of oxygen isn’t just an issue for COVID patients – it also threatens coral reefs

by Elisabeth KingSTRI

No one knows what triggers the sudden onset of hypoxia, a quickly-spreading drop in ocean oxygen. Like a wildfire, hypoxia kills everything that can’t walk or swim out of harm’s way. For the first time ever, a team at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama documented a hypoxic event in progress on a Caribbean coral reef. A second team applied a new approach to look for signs of hypoxic events as people colonized the coast during the last 2000 years. Their complementary results are published in the journals Nature Communications and Ecography.

The first to spot the rise of this turbid monster from the depths of Almirante Bay near Panama’s border with Costa Rica were Maggie Johnson, a post-doctoral fellow on a MarineGEO long-term monitoring project, and STRI Intern, Lucia Rodriguez:

“It was a gorgeous, tropical day in late September, and we were feeling so lucky to be in such an amazing place, Maggie said. “The water was particularly flat, and suddenly, as we were snorkeling, we saw this murky layer of water below the boat. Fish were shoaling just above it and brittle stars and snails were piling on top of each other, trying to escape. It was like a bomb had gone off. Coming back to the surface, we were hit by a horrible smell, like a bucket of rotting seafood.”

The two returned to STRI’s Bocas del Toro Research Station (BRS) where they excitedly convinced post-docs on other projects to help document what was unfolding.

Noelle Lucey was working in Bocas on the impact of low oxygen on tropical reef creatures.

“We were already monitoring hypoxia in the bay on a weekly basis,” Noelle said. But this sudden event made us realize we needed to put more probes in the bay to measure oxygen constantly at different places and depths. In a large group effort, we recorded the physical conditions in the water at all depths in 83 different sites in one day, only six days after Maggie and Lucia first observed the event. We got a good picture of the oxygen throughout the bay with help from everyone at the station.”

Noelle created maps showing how oxygen levels varied between the still waters within the bay and areas closer to the open ocean where wave action mixes and reoxygenates the water. Deep within Almirante Bay the water is almost completely without oxygen, there’s little circulation and all the nutrients from sewage and fertilizer runoff from banana plantations accumulate.

Noelle is curious about how marine invertebrates cope with low oxygen. “During the event, I was shocked to see some reef creatures trying to escape from the hypoxic waters below where others were already dead,” Noelle said. “What I found particularly interesting were the brittle stars. You could see them gasping for oxygen, with wide-open mouths– yet they were still alive. The big question for me is identifying differences between the length of these hypoxic events and how long the reef animals can survive without much oxygen.”

Microbes

Post-docs Jarrod Scott and Matthieu Leray collected seawater samples and used molecular techniques to find out how the microbial community changed during the event. They found that, whereas corals may take years to recover, the microbes in the water recovered within a month, suggesting the recovery of microorganisms was decoupled from the fate of larger organisms in the community.

“This was an opportunity for us to put the microbiology in a broader ecological context,” Jarrod said. “I was most surprised that the microbial community rebounded quickly and completely,” he said. “I expected it to recover eventually, but not to go back to basically the same state it was in before the hypoxic event.”

The team analyzed the genomes of microbes that thrived under hypoxic conditions and found numerous genes that indicated an adaptation to low-oxygen conditions. Yet many of the microorganisms Jarrod and Matt detected in the hypoxic water samples were completely absent from fully oxygenated water. So, if these microbes are not present under normal oxygen conditions, where do they come from?

By comparing two of the dominant hypoxic microbes to publicly available data, they found that these microbes were closely related to organisms found in marine sediments, mollusks, wastewater treatment plants, and feedlots—environments typified by low oxygen. Yet at this point the researchers cannot say for certain where these microbes normally live.

“We only looked at microbes in seawater samples,” Jarrod said. “But what about the microbes closely associated with corals or other marine invertebrates? Or with sediments? Could these environments be the source for the hypoxic microbes? We also saw a decrease in the number of viruses during the hypoxic event. We know viruses may be important for metabolism in many organisms, including microbes and algae, but we are not sure how the dynamics of the viral community is related to hypoxia. There is still a lot to learn about the microbial communities that flourish under acute hypoxic conditions,” he said.

Corals

The original focus of Maggie’s post-doc was to monitor the effects of temperature and ocean acidification on coral reefs, working closely with Andrew Altieri, former STRI scientist, now at the University of Florida. During the event Maggie set up surveys and collected corals at two sites. About 30% of the reef area was covered by living corals before the event, 15% just after the event and 20% a year later.

“It is mind-blowing to think that some of these coral communities had been there for 100 years or more and suddenly, they were decimated in a week.”

“We thought that coral communities in shallow coastal waters don’t usually experience hypoxia,” Maggie said. “But the hypoxic water came up close to the surface. Most of the corals below seven meters (21 feet) died, but corals in 3 meters (9 feet) of water survived. You can say 50% of the corals in shallow waters died, or you can say 50% survived and wonder how they did it.”

Samples of Agaricia tenuifolia, a coral species common across the Caribbean, lost most of their symbionts. When Maggie saw that hypoxia can cause the same sort of bleaching previously blamed on high temperatures, she shifted her research focus.

Now Maggie has a post-doc at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and is doing experiments at the Smithsonian Marine Station at Ft. Pierce, Florida. It looks like some corals can endure hypoxic conditions for several weeks, so they must have tools for coping with low oxygen. As corals photosynthesize during the day, they release oxygen, which might help to reduce the amount of hypoxia they experience, especially in shallow water.

Long view

Could Bocas del Toro be a place to find out if controlling run-off could stop or limit hypoxic events?

“We don’t know how much of the hypoxia is caused by nutrient runoff from banana plantations and sewage, or if hypoxia is a natural phenomenon that has always taken place,” said Rachel Collin, Bocas Research Station director.

STRI post-doc, Blanca Figuerola, teamed up with STRI paleontologist, Aaron O’Dea to see if they could use fossil gastropods and isotopes from their shells to ask if hypoxic events have occurred in the past and if they are primarily caused by human influence or if they have been a natural process for millennia.

To see how the reef has changed during the last 2000 years, their team extracted four reef cores by driving metal tubes into shallow reefs, one which experiences hypoxia today, and another which does not — according to data collected by Noelle — and two additional cores from the deeper part of the hypoxia-exposed reef through a matrix of dead branching corals in the genus, Porites.

The six cores were sectioned into 69 samples. The age of coral fragments in each sample was used to create a timeline. For each sample, Blanca classified each gastropod (almost 15,000 specimens in total) by the role it plays in the ecosystem (eg. herbivore, carnivore or parasite) and observed an historical increase of the proportion of herbivores and a decrease in carbon isotope values at greater depth, suggesting that hypoxic waters shoaled onto the reef and shut it down approximately 1500 years ago.

“We found similar signs in the shallow part of the hypoxic reef during the last decades that suggests hypoxia may be expanding to shallower depths,” said Blanca.

The team found that the timing of the deep reef shutdown coincides with no known major climatic changes but it does coincide with an expansion of human populations in the region (as observed in archeological middens), suggesting that land clearing may have promoted an increase in hypoxic waters by fueling nutrient runoff in to the bays.

“These historical data offer a stark warning,” Aaron said. “Whole reefs have succumbed to these hypoxic events in the past. They turned to rubble and slime and never recovered. If pollution isn’t controlled the shallow, relatively healthier reefs could see the same fate.”

“It was exciting to find that microgastropods may be a powerful record of past hypoxic conditions and can provide warning signs of future changes on reefs,” said Blanca, who is hoping to be able to repeat the same kind of study on other reefs using a variety of geochemical and biological proxies.

Perfect storm

“This really was a perfect storm,” Maggie said. “We were extremely fortunate to catch an acute hypoxic event in progress and to work with other post-docs at the station who study the many aspects of coral reefs and provide long-term perspective. Dissolved oxygen is not something that most people monitor on reefs. We want to raise awareness of the importance of hypoxia worldwide.”

References:

Johnson, M.D., Scott, J.J., Leray, M., Lucey, N., Rodriguez Bravo, L.M., Weid, W.L. and Altieri, A.H. 2021. Rapid ecosystem-scale consequences of acute deoxygenation on a Caribbean coral reef. Nature Communications. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24777-3

Figuerola, B, Grossman, E.L., Lucey, N., Leonard, N.D., O’Dea, A. 2021. Millenial-scale change on a Caribbean reef system that experiences hypoxia. Ecography (in press). DOI: 10.1111/ecog.05606 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/action/showAbstract

 

This map of Bahia Almirante in Panama’s Bocas del Toro Province near the Costa Rican border shows dissolved oxygen concentrations at the sea floor, 6 days after researchers first detected an acute hypoxic event. Sampling sites are indicated by black dots. (Noelle Lucey, Adapted from Nature Communications)

 

Post-doctoral fellow Noelle Lucey worked to find out the effects of low oxygen on marine invertebrates. Photo by Maycol Madrid — STRI.

 

Maggie Johnson, MarineGEO post-doctoral fellow, studies the effects of temperature, ocean acidification and now hypoxia on corals. During the hypoxic event, she took lettuce corals, Agaricia tenuifolia, collected from the same depths at different sites, back to the lab, where she determined coral health. Photo by Sean Mattson — STRI.

 

STRI intern Lucía Rodríguez worked with Maggie Johnson to discover the hypoxic event. Photo by Sean Mattson — STRI.

 

After driving a steel tube into a reef, Jorge Morales, Blanca Figuerola and Aaron O’Dea are ready to extract a core from the reef — a timeline of the reef’s history. Photo by Sean Mattson — STRI.

 

Blanca Figuerola, STRI post-doc, categorizes microgastropods.
Photo by Jorge Morales — STRI.

 

Paleontologists excavate fossil reefs, like this one in the Dominican Republic, to discover how ancient reefs were different from reefs today. Some gastropods (mollusks and snails) hunt reef animals, others simply graze on plants and algae, so the types of fossil gastropods found on a reef tell the story of what kind of habitat dominated during a certain period of history. Photo by Sean Mattson — STRI.

 

Acropora corals during the hypoxic event. Photo by Will Wied — STRI.

 

Two years after the hypoxic event, Acropora corals had not recovered. Photo by Maggie Johnson — STRI.

 

 

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¿Wappin? The Cycle / El Ciclo

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cycle
The cycle of life and death / El ciclo de vida y muerte. Somkritya.

Buried alive, sent up there, we’re all still people

Enterrados vivos, enviados allí, todavía somos personas

Paul McCartney & Wings – Band On The Run
https://youtu.be/K_Ti8b5JRPw

Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang
https://youtu.be/cMOKamtpUA8

P!nk – All I Know So Far
https://youtu.be/iFF9LGQfNQw

The Robins — Riot In Cell Block #9
https://youtu.be/_0qN6EBrhPU

Shangri-Las — I Can Never Go Home Anymore
https://youtu.be/dDPPc6MAdh4

Leslie George & Grupo Amistad – Back to Back
https://youtu.be/C-dSBX_7oYg

Boza – En La Luna
https://youtu.be/5QsefOEppDE

Gil Scott-Heron – Whitey on the Moon
https://youtu.be/goh2x_G0ct4

Elton John – Rocket Man
https://youtu.be/f3cto1dEnuQ

Alexa Melo – Space Oddity
https://youtu.be/AqhCn130Nqo

Natalia Lafourcade – Hasta La Raíz
https://youtu.be/6e6mmDWdoOU

Dionne Warwick – Don’t Make Me Over
https://youtu.be/dDblF-J6qvY

Alfa Mist ‘Bring Backs’ Live at Metropolis
https://youtu.be/15Nqbic6HZs

 

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

 

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.

Para defendernos de los piratas informáticos, los trolls organizados y otros actos de vandalismo en línea, la función de comentarios de nuestro sitio web está desactivada. En cambio, ven a nuestra página de Facebook para unirte a la discusión.
 

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Editorials: Nito’s big problem is the PRD; and Trump’s trials get underway

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I want it to be clear that, in my administration, wiretaps without court orders have not been and will not be done.
President Cortizo

Take the president at his word, but…

Panamanians are jaded. We have every right to be. However, “they all do it” is actually not true with respect to many annoying things that politicians do. When advanced as an excuse by someone who appears to have been caught, that’s especially annoying.

So Ricardo Martinelli tried to minimize the offenses against people’s privacy during his years in the presidency with that sort of excuse, and Laurentino Cortizo bluntly denied it. Take how bad our judiciary can be, and find reason for discomfort in the president’s word, if you wish. A politicized judiciary might issue a warrant for anything. However, there is no special reason to believe that Nito lied to us about his administration’s policy on this matter.

So, why don’t people believe him?

Some of us do. But some of us see what goes on with his party’s caucus in the National Assembly, or in local governments, and take the president’s silence to be approval of things that ought to be disapproved. It leads to questions about motives and conspiracy theories about ideas and policies that have certain merit. It reinforces the “everybody in politics is a crook” stereotype.

Take legislator Raúl Pineda’s example. He wants to eliminate that part of the Penal Code that allows for the suspension of somebody’s political rights — to hold office, or even to vote — as part of a sentence after conviction for a crime. He also wants to end public access to the criminal records of individuals.

In a situation with lots of discrimination and one-sided repression, citizens’ right to elect somebody who lives in a prison cell can be one of the deepest possible political statements. The election of IRA prisoner and hunger striker Bobby Sands to the British Parliament not only thwarted one of Maggie Thatcher’s worst abuses, it set in motion a process that ended a war in Northern Ireland. There are a number of jurisdictions that allow prisoners to vote and run for office, and these aren’t particularly more corrupt than other places that prohibit this. Pineda’s idea reeks of an open door for Martinelli to be president again, but the better solution to that possibility is for voters to just reject the “he stole but he got things done” narrative.

There is a lot of discrimination against the formerly incarcerated, and that costs society some of its productivity. It also protects a lot of people and institutions from being looted by the sticky-fingered. The closure of criminal records is an idea that has been debated before, and perhaps the discussion ought to be taken up again.

But then  it turns out that some foundation that Pineda created and controlled received four cars that had been seized in drug raids. Among these rides are a Lexus with a double bottom and a Mercedes Benz.

So how are we to take Pineda and what he proposes at face value — even if he proffers a reasonable explanation for the cars?

Multiply that many times in the legislature, and in local governments and national institutions throughout the land, and you begin to understand the president’s credibility problem.

 

Donald Trump Jr. speaking to right-wing students last year. Photo by Gage Skimore.

Drip, drip, drip…

Now the US Attorney for the District of Columbia is investigating Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump about alleged misappropriation of 2017 inaugural funds, said to have been diverted to one or more Trump companies. Meanwhile in New York, the state’s prosecutors have turned the heat on The Trump Organization’s long-time treasurer, under suspicion of tax fraud. One of Donald Trump’s personal attorneys long since turned state’s evidence, and a more recent one, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, has had his law license suspended. There are other legal battles, civil or criminal, looming for Donald Trump and his entourage on several fronts.

Yes, we will hear more complaints about haters who are persecuting the former US president, his family, his friends and his current or former employees. 

Then there are the cases against the January 6 Capitol rioters, plus the congressional hearings that just started. So many lies have been told about that, and the attempt to shut down Congress to stop the certification of the 2020 election, that it’s important to put all the evidence out in front of the American people and the world.

Democrats should not overdo it, though. Donald Trump will not be on the ballot in 2022, even if a lot of his more deranged acolytes will be. What to do about a US economy that has been eroding for decades, an ongoing epidemic or if the world is lucky its aftermath, a changed climate that will change yet more and the resurgence of all sorts of bigotry will be key substantive issues. The ability to have a credible election is and will be front and center, and not because the result of the 2020 election was in any way falsified.

The trials and scandals of the past administration will be in the background and are likely to affect elections over the next few years. They should not be allowed to distract too much from the issues of peace, prosperity and social justice as affect the lives of the not rich and not famous. 

 

     You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.

Cesar Chavez

     

Bear in mind…

Genius, like humanity, rusts for want of use.

William Hazlitt

I went to collect the few personal belongings which, at that time, I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.

Colette

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Marthe Troly-Curtin

 

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Bernal, Down to the basics for the fresh start Panama needs

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MAB
Miguel Antonio Bernal. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

Minimum common denominator

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

The constitution imposed by the military dictatorship in 1972, amended four times, continues in effect. Thanks to this, we are a society with a deep institutional vacuum and a government that lives far from the real world.

After the invasion, the rulers chose to rescue the militaristic constitution from history’s wastebasket, and rule with it and with those who had sponsored that system at the time. It was an irreparable error of which, except for Guillerno Endara, none of the rulers – to date — has repented.

Currently, three strains of thinking about constitutional matters prevail in the public discourse:

1. Supporters of the status quo: those who, under different pretexts, demonstrate in favor of maintaining the imposed constitution. In this those currently favored and supporters of the dictatorship intermingle, with those who since 1983 feel satisfied with the reformed militarist constitution and with those who, out of ignorance, fear changes.

2. The advocates of cosmetic “changes” via their “parallel” process: those who wish to maintain the militarist constitution, but making slight and superficial changes, which make possible a “fifty-fifty” with the present power brokers. It is the school of “change so that nothing changes,”, that seeks to collect signatures so that the Electoral Tribunal can convene a parallel assembly for them, which is NOT really a constitutional convention.

3. Those of us who advocate for a totally new constitution: that is, citizens who demand real, effective and positive solutions that benefit the whole of society, in which constitutional values, principles and truths go hand-in-hand, through a fully participatory and democratic constituent process.

Our country and its people won’t be able to get out of the very serious crisis that besets us today without the structural changes that the Panamanian government requires. To continue denying them is nonsense, hence the urgency to find a lowest common denominator that will lead us to a successful agreement about constitutional matters and to the democratization of political power.

If we join forces, we set aside obtuse sectarianisms and, for once, democratic solutions are considered, let us all demand the convocation, by law, by December of this year, of a national referendum in which the citizens from whom all sovereignty flows are consulted, to choose one of three options:

1. That the constitution of 72 be maintained:

2. That it will only be reformed;

3. That a constituent process be convened, for a new constitution.

 

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A censorship “request” from the extended Varela family

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Google notes
None of this is to say that the man actually did it. “Innocent unless proven guilty” is, after all, a presumption that exists in Panamanian law. It’s respected by The Panama News now, and was back in 2017 in the article that an “agent” wants censored.

This censorhip request:

And the editor quotes:

Dear PANAMA NEWS Team:

A pleasure to greet you,

With the utmost respect we formulate this request where until today personal information has been published on its website, where my image, my name, etc. are displayed.

In the following URL of your property / administration and / or edition:

https://www.thepanamanews.com/2017/02/is-panama-insulated-from-odebrechts-implosion/

This information threatens my privacy and intimacy, in addition to seriously damaging my honor, my company and my family. Today, it is not acceptable that my full name to continue to be associated with this URL, as I have not given my consent. In addition, it prevents me from a decent life and the possibility of expanding my business on the internet.


Here are the reasons that contribute to corroborate the request:

– The articles in question are seriously damaging the personal and professional scope of Mr. Niño, due to the permanence and easy access of said information on the web.
– The information shared in question is not supported by any decision of a judge declaring the veracity of the facts referring to Mr. Niño.
– Mr. Niño is not the protagonist of the information and his name and surname do not add more to the information presented and nevertheless it harms him.

REQUEST:

For this reason, I require based on the recent Law 81 of March 26, 2019, was published in Official Gazette 28743-A of March 29, 2019, and that according to art. 15.3 and 17 allow me to exercise the right of cancellation, requesting the person in charge of the web page where my personal data is published so negative its cancellation or limitation of treatment (which is, in short, that they are not displayed directly in international search engines such as Google or Yahoo ). Likewise, this new law justifies that, at the request of those affected, those responsible for the web pages must adopt technological measures, such as the use of robots.txt codes or no index instructions, etc. so that the URL in which my obsolete and seriously harmful information appears cannot be indexed by internet search engines and consequently,

That the cancellation of the personal data on which the right is exercised is agreed to within a period of ten days, as established in art. 16 of said Law starting from the collection of this request, and that I am notified in writing of the result of the cancellation practiced, or another respectful solution with the personal data of the injured party such as the cancellation of the link or the replacement of the name and surnames by initials or a technological dissociation or anonymization procedure.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information of the Government of Panama, on the following website: (http://www.antai.gob.pa/)

Please accept this request and please do not hesitate to contact if you need any supplementary or complementary documentation or information,

At your service,

Amelia Bianchi

Gestor

Everything in this e-mail and any attachments to it is confidential, legally privileged and protected by relevant laws. The person or persons addressed in this e-mail are the sole authorized recipient. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and delete it from your system. You are notified that disclosing, copying, forwarding, distributing and taking any action in reliance on the contents of this message and its attachments is strictly prohibited. Please note that Internet communication cannot be guaranteed to be secure, timely, error- or virus- free. The sender therefore does not accept liability for any errors or omissions in the contents of this message and its attachments which arise as a result of e-mail transmission.

~ ~

This probably offends me more as a Panamanian and as a history major than as a journalist, although I would expect that most of the world’s press freedom organizations would also be concerned about what is being attempted here. It’s about the retroactive twisting of a 2019 privacy law to go back into history and censor the record of where Panama has been.

The extended families of former presidents, via scantily disclosed agents like Amelia Bianchi, get to bowdlerize the history of Panama? Wasn’t another avenue by which they did such things the now repealed law wherein criminal defamation cases could be brought allegedly on behalf of dead people, an infamous rule against which journalists for both big and small fought long and hard?

From time to time I get these requests to delete old stories. If there is an error I will run a correction or make a deletion. But failing the showing of probable error, I don’t delete things to please the high and mighty, nor those who perceive themselves to be, nor agents of such.

Eric Jackson
the editor

 

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¿Wappin? Endurance music / Música de resistencia

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virgil

Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance.

Virgil

Songs by which to hold out in hard times
Canciones con las que aguantar en tiempos difíciles

Natalia Lafourcade & Jorge Drexler — Para Qué Sufrir
https://youtu.be/-WxT4uByG8A

Los Mozambiques – El Niño y el Perro
https://youtu.be/C5DjpTtGSX0

Tracy Chapman – Baby Can I Hold You
https://youtu.be/Y9944f3jbwY

Townes Van Zandt – Pancho and Lefty
https://youtu.be/0vyBY_6SUDI

Churupaca — Luna Nueva
https://youtu.be/mdCxpVDwuhw

Kinky Friedman — Ride ‘Em Jewboy
https://youtu.be/iamk3cZI1ec

Miley Cyrus — Fade Into You
https://youtu.be/-5y9J7TqbKQ

Peter Tosh – Lessons in My Life
https://youtu.be/i167f85hSuk

Bad Bunny – Yonaguni
https://youtu.be/doLMt10ytHY

Yomira John – Mala Paga
https://youtu.be/oLLoAicSnSI

Baby Huey — Hard Times
https://youtu.be/zMIzTh0Lafg

Erykah Badu — Didn’t Cha Know
https://youtu.be/Np21rH7Ldto

The Intruders — I’ll Always Love My Mama
https://youtu.be/gAUeWTkbpkg

Sabrina Claudio – Frozen
https://youtu.be/IezlWijcdQk

Tedeschi Trucks Band — Whipping Post
https://youtu.be/UtNIdyzdJ9Y

Joan Osborne – What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
https://youtu.be/kC24fdGFpfI

Daniel Castro — I’ll Play The Blues For You
https://youtu.be/ioOzsi9aHQQ

 

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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.

Para defendernos de los piratas informáticos, los trolls organizados y otros actos de vandalismo en línea, la función de comentarios de nuestro sitio web está desactivada. En cambio, ven a nuestra página de Facebook para unirte a la discusión.  

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These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information. Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web.
 

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Dinero

COVID leads to dramatic drop in US life expectancy

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Brazil
The United States typically has its vital statistics in better order than most of the rest of the Americas. However, like in Latin America lies and concealment by various government officials, and in some jurisdictions as official policies, leave figures imprecise. The imprecision gets to be the stuff of which conspiracy theories are spread, particularly by far right types who also deny that the Nazi Holocaust ever happened. Overall vital statistics, and scenes like bodies left in the streets of Guayaquil and overflowed cemeteries in Brazil, give the lie to politicians in denial. This is a scene from a cemetery in Brazil as deaths spiked there. Unidentified photographer, distributed via the European Press Agency. It can be dangerous to admit taking politically inconvenient pictures in places like Brazil.

Pandemic fuels steepest decline
in US life expectancy since WWII

by Jake Johnson — Common Dreams

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data out Wednesday shows that life expectancy in the USA fell by one and a half years in 2020, a decline fueled in large part by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

“US life expectancy at birth for 2020, based on nearly final data, was 77.3 years, the lowest it has been since 2003,” reads a new report (pdf) from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “Mortality due to Covid-19 had, by far, the single greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020, overall.”

The new CDC figures indicate that 2020 saw the steepest single-year decline in life expectancy in the United States — from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 last year — since World War II.

“I myself had never seen a change this big except in the history books,” Elizabeth Arias, a CDC demographer and lead author of the new report, told the Wall Street Journal.

2

Given that they are more likely to work jobs with a high risk of coronavirus exposure and lack adequate health care, Black and Hispanic people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the resulting fall in life expectancy.

“Between 2019 and 2020, life expectancy decreased by 3 years for the Hispanic population (81.8 to 78.8),” the CDC found. “It decreased by 2.9 years for the non-Hispanic black population (74.7 to 71.8) and by 1.2 years for the non-Hispanic white population (78.8 to 77.6).”

Other factors contributing to the decline in life expectancy last year, according to the CDC, were drug overdoses, homicide, diabetes, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.

“It’s horrific,” Anne Case, a professor emeritus of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, told the Washington Post. “It’s not entirely unexpected given what we have already seen about mortality rates as the year went on, but that still doesn’t stop it from being just horrific, especially for non-Hispanic Blacks and for Hispanics.”

 

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