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Dupuis-Déri, The intersectionality of hate

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them
A gathering of far-right protesters in the USA. Copy Commons photo by Ted Eytan.

The intersectionality of hate helps us understand
the ideology of Donald Trump and the far right

by Francis Dupuis-Déri, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

A new conceptual tool is required to fully understand the most recent rhetorical strategies of far-right activists and politicians, including former US President Donald Trump. This is precisely what the concept of “intersectionality of hate” aims to do.

Analysts and academics have been talking about the intersectionality of hate for several years now. In doing so, they draw on the notion of intersectionality developed by African-American law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to designate a reality shaped by sexism, racism, classism and other categories (there are some 30 in all).

Crenshaw points out that African-American women have always been aware of this complex reality. Mary Church Terrell, a Black suffragist, declared around 1920 that “a white woman has only one handicap to overcome, that of sex. I have two: sex and race.”

While researching anti-feminism and discourses of men’s victimhood related to a so-called crisis of masculinity, I became aware of how the new concept of intersectionality of hate makes it possible to understand the interweaving of hateful discourses. The French historian Christine Bard, with whom I have the good fortune to collaborate, rightly points out that “anti-feminism practises intersectionality, but it’s the intersectionality of hate,” which brings together sexism, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and homophobia.

This interweaving of hate speech can also be viewed from different points of view, for example, from the racist and xenophobic or “anti-gender” and transphobic movements.

Conceptual innovation

The popularity of the concept of intersectionality no doubt explains the synchronous appearance of the intersectionality of hate on both sides of the Atlantic.

The article “How Trump Made Hate Intersectional” appeared in New York magazine on November 9, 2016, the day after Trump’s election. It was signed by the African-American intellectual Rembert Browne, who explained how the Republican candidate federated voters. “Trump won the presidency by making hate intersectional. He encouraged sexists to also be racists and homophobes, while saying disgusting things about immigrants in public and Jews online.”

Hatred is mixed here with the fear of being robbed of one’s country, institutions and personal achievements, and with anger at not having what one thinks one is entitled to simply by virtue of being a heterosexual white male. This attitude is reminiscent of that of the “Angry White Men” that was much talked about just a few years ago: it is no longer limited to blaming a single group for real or imagined personal problems but blames all minority groups. That means there is no longer a single scapegoat, but a whole herd.

At the same time, in France, Bard, who has shown that anti-feminism and lesbophobia are intertwined and mutually reinforcing, analyzed 1,367 articles dealing with women, gender and sexuality published in the far-right weekly Minute.

She found that “the intersectionality of hate is practised, associating feminism, homosexualism, Islamism and immigrationism.” She notes that political and media figures are targeted with particular intensity if they are women, and also if they are Jewish, Muslim or of African origin. The historian concludes that this intersectionality of hate runs counter to any egalitarian or inclusive perspective.

Attacks on progressives

Shortly afterwards, the journal Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture, and Social Justice devoted a short special report to the intersectionality of hate, associating it with the far right, which attacks progressives and accuses them of imposing their values and defending “minorities.”

In addition to racist and sexist attacks, there are also virulent accusations against “cultural Marxists” (or “wokes”) who allegedly control the State in order to develop “positive discrimination” programs and influence the education system to be able to indoctrinate young people with “political correctness.”

Each attack is an opportunity to point out that the essence of the United States is European, Anglo-Saxon, Christian, heterosexual, capitalist and meritocratic. The attacks also serve to distract attention from the elite that really dominates the country, which is made up of multi-billionaires in the White House, as well as heads of big business and media.

The intersectionality of hate is disseminated by influential traditional (Fox News) and web (Daily Stormer and Daily Wire) media, think tanks like the National Policy Institute and polemicists like Christopher Rufo and Ben Shapiro.

Terrorism

The notion of intersectionality of hate is taken up again in the analysis of hate speech and those associated with terrorist attacks. For example, a study in Europe, Intersectional Hate Speech Online, concludes that “Women remain the group of people most often targeted by intersectional hate speech […], for example Muslim women, Roma women or Women of Color. […] Another target group for intersectional hate speech is women in public positions.”

Europol also mentions the intersectionality of hate in its 2020 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report. The agency presents a list of attacks motivated by anti-feminism, racism and xenophobia. It gives the example of the one perpetrated in 2011 in Norway by the Nazi Anders Breivik, who claimed in his manifesto to be defending Christian European civilization, and who massacred 76 young socialists.

Brevik
Brevik, taken from a forged ID found during the investigation of his crime.

Europol also mentions Elliot Rodger, who committed one of the first mass murders associated with involuntary celibates in California in 2014, and who also expressed sexist and racist hatred in his manifesto.

“I was anti-everything,” answered a former French gendarme when the court asked him if he was homophobic, during a trial for having planned attacks on several targets. The defendant had also written a neo-Nazi manifesto celebrating Breivik.

Other Islamophobic attackers had planned to attack feminists. The one who targeted the Québec mosque in 2017 was interested in feminist groups at Laval University, and the one who decimated a Muslim family in Ontario, in 2021, had scouted abortion clinics.

Finally, British journalist Helen Lewis points out in her article “The Intersectionality of Hate,” published in The Atlantic, on a mass killer who targeted Buffalo’s African-American community in 2022, that his manifesto included antisemitic cartoons.

Victim rhetoric

So, the intersectionality of hate works by superimposing similar analytical frameworks that systematically deduce the same dynamics from reality, and always lead to the same conclusion: the white heterosexual male is a victim of “minorities” he must resist.

This rhetoric helps to legitimize even the most obvious abuses, such as voting for the would-be dictator for a day Trump, or imposing one’s vision of things through terrorist violence.

The intersectionality of hate also targets progressives and reflects the refusal to recognize that the “majority” of white heterosexual men is, in reality, a minority whose claim to superiority, or even supremacy, is well and truly contested in the name of social justice.The Conversation

Francis Dupuis-Déri, Professeur, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Beluche, Prólogo al libro Geopsiquis de una nación

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book

“Geopsiquis de una nación. Ensayos sobre una
forma terrestre” de Ariadna García Rodríguez

prólogo de Olmedo Beluche
Es grato presentar a continuación esta excelente trilogía ensayística de la escritora e investigadora Ariadna García Rodríguez titulada Geopsiquis de una nación, no solo por la calidad literaria que ella ha alcanzado, y que le ha sido reconocida también en campos como la poesía y el microcuento, sino también porque creemos que estos escritos constituyen un aporte trascendental para la comprensión del hecho nacional panameño.
 
El libro Geopsiquis de una nación, neologismo creado por la autora, y producto de investigaciones previas ya publicadas, poco conocidas o no conocidas en el país, contiene los ensayos titulados: “Vasco Núñez de Balboa y la geopsiquis de una nación” (2001, 2013), “De inauguraciones y traiciones: Travesía por la Mar del Sur” (2005) y “Por una poética de lo transitorio: Panamá, paso y frontera” (2006).
 
Dichos ensayos deben ser estudiados tanto por quienes se dedican a la literatura o la docencia literaria como por quienes pretendan incursionar en un estudio acerca del Istmo de Panamá desde la historia, la geografía, la filosofía y la sociología. Estos ensayos trascienden los límites disciplinares de la crítica literaria para situarnos en una reflexión profunda, más abarcadora, acerca de lo que es la nación panameña, o de lo que se ha querido que sea y sobre cómo se ha construido su imaginario, incluso más allá de las fronteras nacionales.
 
Aunque los ensayos han sido publicados en momentos diferentes, para públicos distintos, forman parte de una misma unidad temática y su lectura debe ser tratada como piezas de un todo. En este sentido son una reflexión crítica que no se limita al análisis de una novela, como es el caso de “Vasco Núñez de Balboa. El tesoro del Dabaibe” de Octavio Méndez Pereira, sino que se extiende a los íconos en torno a los cuales se ha cimentado el imaginario ístmico global a través del tiempo, por ejemplo en un poema de John Keats y un cuento de Carlos Fuentes. Entre todos los abordajes de la intelectualidad panameña sobre el “problema” nacional, estos escritos destacan por su originalidad.
 
El primero de estos tres ensayos fue presentado en 1999 en el Primer Congreso Internacional de Literatura Panameña y publicado en la Revista Iberoamericana en 2001. Posteriormente, fue incluido en una antología de la Academia Panameña de la Lengua, en una edición conmemorativa titulada Núñez de Balboa” de Octavio Méndez Pereira, con motivo de los 500 años del “descubrimiento” del Mar del Sur en 2013.
 
Este trabajo ha sido citado por escritores e investigadores como Luis Pulido Ritter, en su conocido libro titulado Filosofía de la nación romántica. (Seis ensayos críticos sobre el pensamiento intelectual y filosófico en Panamá, 1930 – 1960), al igual que Rafael Ruiloba, Carlos Fitzgerald, Danae Brugiati, entre otros. No obstante, a pesar del largo recorrido de dicho artículo el mismo sigue sin alcanzar un público más amplio en el país, y los otros dos no son conocidos, con lo cual la presente publicación busca solventar dicha ausencia en las letras del istmo.
 
Ariadna García Rodríguez manifiesta que se interesa por la obra de Octavio Méndez Pereira porque “la misma se convierte en la ‘biografía novelada’ de la nación al incorporar lo geográfico como razón de ser y justificación de lo nacional”. Mediante esta novela, publicada en 1934, el conquistador adquiere la nacionalidad panameña a la vez que se constituye en su fundador, nos dice la autora.
 
Ella establece muy bien la relación de esta novela y el momento histórico que atravesaba la república de Panamá, habiendo nacido de una separación de Colombia motivada y tutelada por Estados Unidos, partida en dos por un canal, convirtiéndola en una zona que funcionaba como la “quinta frontera”. Respecto de esa novela, Pulido Ritter dice que la nación necesitaba un héroe que encontrara su realización en la muerte. La obra de Méndez Pereira fabricó ese héroe.
 
En su conocido libro sobre “Comunidades imaginadas”, Benedict Anderson afirma que dos de los instrumentos decisivos en la edificación de las naciones modernas, han sido el periódico y la novela, en especial a partir de su masificación en el siglo XVIII.  La novela en particular, género nacido con la modernidad, influye en la forma de entender el mundo por parte de las personas. La novela contribuyó a la construcción de las mentalidades modernas.
 
La novela crea “comunidades imaginadas” de lectores, como apunta Anderson; mundos geográficamente localizados, con personajes ficticios que viven realidades con las que se puede identificar su público lector, para quienes los héroes y heroínas se pueden sentir como propios. Las novelas históricas, que exaltan pasados descritos épicamente, que en la mente del lector se visualizan como “hechos” reales, han tenido un papel central en la construcción de las las naciones en el sentido moderno de la palabra.
 
García Rodríguez disecciona al héroe, a la novela y a la identidad nacional panameña, obligándonos a repensarla. Como ella misma afirma en “Por una poética de lo transitorio: Panamá, Paso y Frontera”, el tercero de sus escritos, en donde podemos leer:

Y justo cuando la encrucijada de las rutas se trasluce en la movediza transición del enunciado, Panamá se inventa y re-inventa mucho antes del canal bien como estrecho de tierra, como camino de cruces, como comunidad hanseática, como estado federal, como Istmo, como Caribe, como aldea global e incluso como puente del mundo o corazón del universo, de acuerdo al dictado bolivariano y lema popular para referirse al país. Este adjunto, este anexo, esta pieza movible del rompecabezas que suele brillar por su ausencia, este enunciado de lo accidental, el “and Panama” o el “step on the way” parece invitarnos a recorrer, a re-pensar, re-pasar, como también a detenernos —justo en esa acepción o sentido académico-disciplinario del vocablo frontera— en una travesía de paso por lo transitorio.

Somos de la convicción de que estos ensayos de Ariadna García Rodríguez se convertirán en un referente obligado para quienes estudien la historiografía literaria panameña y para quienes estudien la historia de nuestra nación. Es así porque la pluma de García Rodríguez hace parte de un conjunto de ensayistas nacionales que, en pleno siglo XXI, una vez liberado el país del enclave colonial de la Zona del Canal, habiendo alcanzado el país su madurez estatal y nacional, pueden mirar de frente nuestro pasado para desnudar los mitos, bajar a los próceres de sus estatuas y acercarnos a la verdad histórica.
 

 

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Mikhalchan, ¿Son reciclables los nanotubos de carbono?

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nanotube yarn
Nanotubos de carbono hilados para formar un hilo. Imagen Wikimedia por CISRO.

Antes de salvar el mundo con nanotubos de carbono, ¿sabemos si son reciclables?

por Anastasiia Mikhalchan

Pueden reemplazar materiales intensivos en CO², como el cobre, el acero y el aluminio en las industrias de construcción, aeroespacial, automotriz y otras. Son la apuesta global para una transición energética en marcha.

Los nanotubos de carbono, filamentos 2 000 veces más finos que un cabello, ya se utilizan en las baterías adecuadas para dispositivos electrónicos portátiles, y cada vez en más compuestos estructurales, cables eléctricos y sensores en textiles inteligentes y tecnología ponible. Pero ¿pueden reciclarse? ¿Y si llenamos el mundo de nanotubos de carbono y acaban siendo el gran problema del nuevo siglo?

Actualmente, la capacidad mundial de producción de nanotubos de carbono (CNT) está en el orden de los 10 kt/año, una tasa que aumenta aproximadamente un 30% anualmente. Y esto podría acelerarse a escala de megatoneladas si los esfuerzos de iniciativas como Carbon Hub tienen éxito y los nanocarbonos comienzan a estar disponibles como coproductos del hidrógeno turquesa. Incluso se espera de ellos que sirvan para desplazar a los metales.

Sin embargo, hasta donde sabemos, no ha habido ningún intento de explotar el reciclaje de materiales de nanotubos de carbono (CNT) a macroescala a partir de sus compuestos. ¿Son útiles después de su uso? ¿Merece la pena empezar ya a investigar el proceso de reutilización de los nanotubos de carbono?

¿Reciclables?

Desde el Instituto IMDEA Materiales acabamos de publicar en la revista Carbon un trabajo innovador que demuestra, por primera vez, la capacidad de reciclar láminas de nanotubos de carbono (CNT) de alto rendimiento preservando su forma, alineación estructural, propiedades mecánicas y eléctricas y su flexibilidad intrínseca.

Los macromateriales del futuro son un sustituto novedoso de los polvos comúnmente conocidos como CNT individuales. En IMDEA Materiales desarrollamos fibras, hilos y tejidos únicos hechos de miles de millones de CNT interconectados que forman redes a nanoescala. Son flexibles, ligeros, resistentes y conductores de electricidad y calor, y pueden utilizarse en muchas aplicaciones de ingeniería.

Estas fibras y láminas de CNT poseen una alta resistencia estructural y flexibilidad, así como propiedades mecánicas, eléctricas y térmicas elevadas. Esto permite su uso en el refuerzo estructural en laminados compuestos, así como en sensores de deformación/estrés imprimibles, conductores eléctricos y ánodos de baterías flexibles, entre otras aplicaciones. Estas propiedades son las que los hacen tan versátiles.

Nuestro objetivo era comprobar hasta qué punto sus propiedades se mantienen intactas después de someterlas a un proceso de reciclado.

Tratamiento térmico

Sometimos láminas de distinta densidad (incluidas las comerciales) a un proceso de tratamiento térmico de dos pasos.

Las láminas de CNT recicladas demostraron una retención casi total de las propiedades mecánicas y eléctricas. Esto demuestra que los materiales de alto rendimiento hechos de nanotubos de carbono son reciclables y pueden ser reutilizados en la misma aplicación como refuerzo estructural o conductores eléctricos y ánodos de baterías flexibles, entre otras aplicaciones.

Como un Lego®

Las láminas recicladas podrían volver a su estado inicial, como bloques de construcción. Los CNT pueden disolverse y convertirse en soluciones cristalinas líquidas, que luego podrían ser rehilados en una nueva fibra de alta calidad.

Sería como descomponer un modelo Lego en sus ladrillos individuales, y luego reconstruir el modelo original con la misma forma, robustez y calidad.

Esto no es posible con las fibras de carbono convencionales porque su estructura está formada por cristalitos que se fusionan, por lo que no pueden ser descompuestas en cristalitos individuales y volver a grafitizarse en un filamento de fibra continuo.

En cambio, los nanotubos de carbono son capaces de disolverse y pueden ser rehilados en una fibra, algo que ya se hace a escala comercial.

Reutilizar los nuevos materiales permitirá que no volvamos a cometer los mismos errores del pasado. ¿Empezamos?The Conversation

Anastasiia Mikhalchan, Investigadora Asociada Senior de Compuestos nanoestructurados, IMDEA MATERIALES

Este artículo fue publicado originalmente en The Conversation. Lea el original.

 

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Clarence Thomas defends “gun rights” in domestic violence cases

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Trump and Thomas
“The Thomas dissent is only further proof that he is simply a threat to America,” said the father of a mass shooting victim. Trump and Thomas at the October 2020 swearing-in of Justice Barrett. White House photo by Tia Dufour.

‘Truly evil’ Clarence Thomas defends guns for domestic abusers

by Jessica Corbett – Common Dreams

“Thank goodness. Also, Clarence Thomas is truly evil.”

That’s how one progressive pollster responded Friday to the US Supreme Court’s 8-1 ruling in United States v. Rahimi, which upheld a law prohibiting individuals subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a firearm.

Critics across the political spectrum called Thomas’ lone dissent in the case “insane” and blasted the right-wing justice as “fucking awful,” a “corrupt lunatic,” and a “contemptible POS” who “continues to undermine the safety of women and disgrace the court.”

Some pointed out that after Thomas was nominated to the court in 1991 by then-President George H. W. Bush, during the Senate confirmation process, Anita Hill accused the future justice of sexually harassing her. More recently, Thomas has faced demands for his recusal or even resignation because he took gifts from right-wing billionaires and declined to report them.

Journalist Matt Fuller highlighted a portion of Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion that describes various instances of Zackey Rahimi behaving violently with a weapon, including a December 2019 interaction with C.M., the mother of his child.

“C. M. attempted to leave, but Rahimi grabbed her by the wrist, dragged her back to his car, and shoved her in, causing her to strike her head against the dashboard,” Roberts wrote. “When he realized that a bystander was watching the altercation, Rahimi paused to retrieve a gun from under the passenger seat. C. M. took advantage of the opportunity to escape. Rahimi fired as she fled, although it is unclear whether he was aiming at C. M. or the witness.”

Amid expressions of relief that the court’s other members joined Roberts’ majority opinion—with several also writing concurring opinions—Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts said that “the Rahimi case should never have been taken up by SCOTUS. To even question whether domestic abusers should have access to guns shows just how extreme this court has become.”

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was murdered in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, said that he was “glad to see the Supreme Court got it right” in Rahimi, compared with the 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

“This case only existed because of the horrible Bruen ruling, a decision written by Justice Thomas who was the lone dissent here,” Guttenberg noted. “I am hoping that they cleaned up some of the Bruen issues with this case. The Thomas dissent is only further proof that he is simply a threat to America.”

Bruen struck down New York state’s restrictions on the concealed carry of firearms in public but had a broader effect on various gun control laws—which legal experts said could be further disrupted by the new decision. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explained Friday that while “both the majority and several concurrences are attempting to narrow and refine Bruen,” Thomas “says everybody else misunderstood his opinion” in the 2022 case.

Thomas wrote Friday that after Bruen, “this court’s directive was clear: A firearm regulation that falls within the Second Amendment’s plain text is unconstitutional unless it is consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Not a single historical regulation justifies the statute at issue.”

However, given the majority, Stern predicted that “A LOT of lower court decisions that interpreted Bruen as a maximalist cudgel against virtually all modern gun safety measures—and struck down a bunch of laws accordingly—are about to get vacated and remanded by the Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of Rahimi.”

This is a win for the gun safety movement and another loss for the gun lobby hellbent on putting lives in danger.

Gun control advocates cheered Friday’s ruling—which overturned a decision from the far-right US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit—and what it could mean for future court battles.

“Today, we’re celebrating that the Supreme Court ensured that the lives and safety of millions across the country will be protected over the desires of gun rights extremists. This is a win for the gun safety movement and another loss for the gun lobby hellbent on putting lives in danger,” declared Moms Demand Action executive director Angela Ferrell-Zabala.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who has worked on gun violence prevention since surviving a 2011 shooting, said that “this is a win for women, children, and anyone who has experienced domestic abuse,” and it “would not have been possible without the work of gun safety and domestic violence advocates across the country.”

People for the American Way President Svante Myrick called out the “extreme, ultraconservative 5th Circuit” and stressed that while “we’re glad” the justices “made a reasonable ruling” in Rahimi, “we can’t lose sight of the fact that far-right majorities on the Supreme Court and a lower court set the stage for what could have been a disaster.”

“In fact, the majority of the court made clear that they may well invalidate other gun safety rules under Bruen even after today’s decision,” he warned. “That’s why we have to keep courts in mind when we go to the polls in November.”

In the November election, Democratic President Joe Biden is set to face former Republican President Donald Trump. While Trump’s three appointees to the high court sided with Roberts in Rahimi, they were also part of the majorities in Bruen and Garland v. Cargill, a ruling from last week that struck down the Trump administration’s bump stock ban.

Vice President Kamala Harris said Friday that “while President Biden and I stand up to the gun lobby, Donald Trump bows down. Trump has made clear he believes Americans should ‘get over’ gun violence, and we cannot allow him to roll back commonsense protections or appoint the next generation of Supreme Court justices.”

“This case is yet another reminder that some want to take our country back to a time when women were not treated as equal to men and were not allowed to vote—and husbands could subject their wives to physical violence without it being considered a crime,” Harris added. “Trump is a threat to our freedoms and our safety, and we must defeat him in November.”

The US National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), by texting “START” to 88788, or through chat at thehotline.org. It offers 24/7, free, and confidential support. DomesticShelters.org has a list of global and national resources.

 

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¿Wappin? Panama’s also a Caribbean country / Panamá también es un país caribeño

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Cobra

También quienes somos
Also who we are

Bob Marley and the Wailers – No Woman, No Cry
https://youtu.be/55_eCsTAo5Q?si=vbV8j7s1KiSXS2_1

Grupo Kathia Thomas — Desfile de la Junta Comunal de Rio Abajo
https://web.facebook.com/thepanamanews/posts/pfbid02qHk42shxT87eBsN8QC8KhjWmugAxmjKZAbVmLNYJ6vE2wZyzHW3MKBXvtv2P41pVl

John Francis Jacobs & Milagros Blades — ¡AWA!
https://youtu.be/Zawd0c9ZntI?si=VSUdnFxe6X5qa-Xc

Mad Professor – Melt Down Dub
https://youtu.be/_sbqdZP1Xxs?si=6ka_MZNmuFvLwtAF

Panama 3 Anthology
https://youtu.be/M_w3YaSgmkM?si=L4Z17ATSvkJGEQln

Oscar De León – Lloraras
https://youtu.be/Obv4rk5Xs3s?si=X9-iemTAUI_HqV55

Aisha Davis – Only In My Head
https://youtu.be/3fENiXyaW14?si=5wUofWAgV3QeY7aK

Yomira John – Madre Tierra
https://youtu.be/tuwAnf2pop0?si=ZweMHAReWOsItGLK

Wynton Marsalis & Rubén Blades – Pedro Navaja
https://youtu.be/UibAE_x6NM8?si=FErEoJFmxPcydXcP

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endurance

Into the city and back – a day-long adventure, mostly by public transportation

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sunrise on the bus
Sunrise just past Rio Hato no traffic delays at that moment, the pavement dry, the air conditioning on the bus turned way up. The clock reads six in the morning and the bus is headed east, into the sun.

12 hours of getting around the way the editor does

photos and story by Eric Jackson

I fed and watered the dogs and cats, made sure that things were locked and nothing that somebody would want to steal was within reach of the windows, then I was out the door, locking the door and gate behind me. It was four dark thirty and I had a doctor’s appointment in the city, on a day when SUNTRACS said they’d be out protesting in the streets. Gotta start early, so I stationed myself under the street light closest to my bus stop. Khaki pants, yellow and black striped shirt, my bag with things that will reflect.

The first bus was one of the little ones that I didn’t recognize as a bus until it almost got to me, so I didn’t motion and the driver didn’t stop. The second bus was not yet in service and its driver gestured that to me as he passed. Then came a Penonome bus, which after the entrada would be headed in a different direction from how I wanted to go. But good enough to pay my 40 cents and get off and go into the Van y Ven at the entrada. There I went in and got me one of those Monster Zero ginseng energy drinks to power me on my way, then went across the road to the caseta on the eastbound lane of the Pan-American Highway. Soon enough a David to Panama bus stopped and I got on.

It wasn’t an express bus, or it probably would not have stopped for me. The norm here is that there are true express buses, which make no stops between from whence they set out and their final destination, and then there are the express buses that will stop where someone wants to get off, and take boarding passengers at that point, but won’t stop at any caseta along the way where people are waiting. There are variations on the theme. I had timed things to make it to my appointment on time even if it was one of those agonizing stop-everywhere-along-the-way things. This one made stops but was not quite that extreme.

Chorrera
The longest delay getting into the city was at La Chorrera around 7 a.m., where this and another largely empty Panama bus had the same idea — add more passengers from the local buses arriving at La Espiga. We had this dueling pavos competition before we were more fully loaded an on our way. The Torrijos and Martinelli administrations largely eliminated the painted diablo rojo buses in the Panama City and San Miguelito metro area to make way for the Metro buses, but the art of bus painting survives in many other places in Panama, including La Chorrera.

I arrived at the terminal around 8:30, later than might have been in an epoch with no mega construction on the monorail in Panama Oeste. SUNTRACS had called a one-day strike to protest the denial of banking services to the union and several of its leaders — which Nito’s banking superintendent admits is about politics, in particular the bankers’ support for the wildly unpopular and flagrantly unconstitutional copper mine project. Let word about that get out and abroad in the world and see what the practice of politically motivated account closures does to Panama’s status as an international banking center. But leave it for Mulino to face that sort of fallout.

I grabbed a pastelitos de queso, baked chicken and chicha de limon breakfast in one of the food courts, then off by taxi to the clinica in Punta Pacifica.

The way to the clinic was circuitous. The union brothers were blocking Avenida Balboa, as was to be expected. It was not, however, a mass of angry labor militants making a do-or-die stand on a main drag. It was a roadblock here, then move on, a roadblock down the street, other roadblocks across town, little pockets of protesters showing up suddenly and dispersing suddenly, with police trying to keep up and direct drivers around the disruptions. Surely the companies with the contract to sell tear gas and rubber bullets to the Public Ministry must have been disappointed.

I got to the dermatologist’s office before he did, and soon enough heard that it’s not skin cancer. When The Reaper comes for me, it probably won’t be that.

Then, into another cab. Getting me around the protests all the way to the terminal was asking a lot, but it was less trouble getting me to the Metro subway station near Via Argentina.

The Metro trains continue to revolutionize the transportation calculations in Panama City, especially for those of us who are not enslaved to automobiles.

Up from the underground at Albrook, and all around I saw the work on expanding the train station. As in, adding a monorail line that will cross the canal and go all the way out to La Espiga in La Chorrera. Perhaps it’s also expanding for a contemplated Panama to David train. Across the bridge, from which I took some pictures, and into the bus terminal, and on my way home.

The day of protest was still ongoing, leading to the bus taking the other than legally prescribed route to the Bridge of the Americas through Balboa but instead taking the more direct way past the Electoral Tribunal on Avenida Ascanio Arosemena.

Out front of the Electoral Tribunal a small band of protesters were blocking the street, and a little beyond them, police were routing traffic around them. Going back to my teenage militant day, I could think of ways that SUNTRACS might have done battle to thwart what they were doing. But this, after all, was just a WARNING strike day. And the outgoing director of the National Police? Face it – he dealt with some serious disruptions, including a national strike supported by the great majority of Panamanians, a national uprising, really, with aside from some minor and isolated blunders by cops and strikers alike, avoided severe violence and the downfall of the elected government. The bodies on the pavement in Chame? Forget the MAGA gringo hero worship: he was born Panamanian, a long-time mafia lawyer with old PRD insider ties and whose daughter is married to Vice President Gaby Carrizo’s daughter. Might as well call it an isolated incident provoked by an irate PRD guy, for which he has been sentenced to 48 years in prison with hardly a peep of protest.

Back to the piquera in Antona little before four in the afternoon, with dinner to buy for the animals, a few cleaning supplies, some late dim sum and some pan moña con queso blanco at my usual haunts next door. As I was carrying a lot going into the city, it was the more expensive but also more convenient choice to take a cab back to Barrio El Bajito. I got everything unpacked and put away before I ventured to survey the dogs’ trashing in my absence. It was about four thirty by then. Long day, even before giving the livestock their dinner.

construction
From the pedestrian bridge between the Albrook Metro station and the national bus terminal. More train station construction underway. Panama is deeply indebted, yet it’s standard Keynesian economics to keep an economy in danger of collapse working via public works contracts. Seen Ancon Hill in the background, which has its own attractive development possibilities if one discards “just like Disney World” thinking and considers what this national park has in it, and in the Cold War bomb shelter tunnels underneath it. 
 

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Editorials: To govern ourselves and keep the peace; and the USA not for sale

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SUNTRACS
A week and a half before a change of governments, the SUNTRACS construction workers’ union will take to the streets and cause a few traffic problems to protest the outgoing administration’s moves to deny the union – and some of its leaders personally – access to banking services. It’s just making the labor militants go to other countries or take other roundabout ways to get financial services. This routine about “preventing terrorist financing” will not wash internationally, given who has shot whom in labor disputes here. But if the PRD – an affiliate of the Socialist International – has mutated into such an anti-labor outfit, Mulino and Ricardo Martinelli have long stood for the de facto prohibition of labor unions. We shall see, but it seems that SUNTRACS is warning, not calling for a nationwide shutdown at the moment.

Fragmemtation, governability and Panamanians’ will to live together

Difficult negotiations are underway about how and by whom a divided National Assembly will be run. There are social unrest warnings about Panama’s relationship with First Quantum and the copper mine it ran, and who sacrifices what to stop the Social Security Fund from bleeding out. The suggestion of an amnesty law to benefit some or all of the politicians and operatives who “stole but got things done” isn’t going over well. Nor is the suggestion that Mulino will pardon Martinelli and the latter will walk out of the Nicaraguan Embassy to run Panama through proxies.

The most charitable reading of May 5th’s voting is that on the whole Panamanians despise the entire political caste. The trial balloon of Martinelli’s top lieutenant as president of the National Assembly never got off the ground. Now they suggest a guy with no personal experience in public office who ran his family’s reputation – which does not bear any sort of close scrutiny.

There are all these challenges to the elections of legislators, and appeals of rejected challenges. A few are based on credible-sounding allegations of the use of public funds to buy votes. Most are just frivolous ploys to keep legitimately elected men and women from taking their seats and casting their votes on July 1, when the officers and committee compositions of the next legislature are to be determined.

There are a lot of things over which Panamanians can fight. There were before we voted and there still are after inconclusive elections.

Mulino can tread lightly or pick a fight. His opponents can tread lightly or pick a fight.

Better for Panama if we all step back, take stock of the situation, limit our demands and find whatever narrow consensus we can as a basis for all of us to live peacefully among one another as we try to sort out more difficult problems.

There is no snap of fingers quick exit from our predicament. One way out is a process to get a new constitution but there are all sorts of problems there, too. Simplistic demagoguery that leaves us with a new document but all the usual families in power and all the usual games in play would soon enough lead to breaches of the peace. It’s time for serious and honest reflection by the entire nation.

 

haifa
Jews in Israel don’t all support what the Netanyahu regime is doing. Yet in a racially mixed New York congressional district with a large Jewish minority that reliably votes blue, a Puerto Rican Democratic member of Congress from a nearby district, who takes tons of money from AIPAC and cryptocurrency hustlers, insists that an African-American colleague is an anti-Semite for opposing the massacre that’s ongoing in Gaza and US funding for it. Unattributed photo that was in Haaretz, of a protest march on May 4, 2024 in Haifa.

Among Democrats

Democrats notoriously fight about the burning issues of modern times within the party. Republicans, much less so. Usually, with country club in-crowd manners, the GOP gets in line.

These are unusual times. Donald Trump says that if he gets back into the White House there will be a dictatorship. Fascism is on the ballot this November, even if a lot of Republicans oppose this. About Israel? There are a few actual nazis in the GOP, but by and large Republicans really like the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank and advocate the arrest, expulsion from universities and firing from jobs of Americans who voice objections to this ethnic cleansing.

Democrats are divided between hawks and doves, corporate and progressive factions, and sometimes competing grouplets who put their identities before their principles. Then there are those who understand that freedom and democracy are sometimes at odds with one another, that warring nations might actually each have valid motives for their opposing stands, that a legitimate political party has more than a division of spoils at stake in an election.

Dark money, unlimited campaign spending, foreign interests buying stakes in US politics – these are Republican innovations, most notoriously a GOP-dominated Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But there are factions of Democrats who buy right into that stuff. Within the party, they often add sleaze and bullying to the discourse.

Republican rhetoric these days sounds as if from another universe, but the worst Democrats also divorce themselves from reality. The operative who defamed Anita Hill to put Clarence Thomas on the high court now bills himself and his operations as “progressive.” A Gentile, Ritchie Torres, lectures Jews in a nearby district about the political requirements of being Jewish, and taunts critics who are not on the AIPAC payroll like he is as “losers.” This is the stuff of next week’s New York Democratic primary.

The move is on by more or less that same crew of operatives who engineered the stupidest presidential campaign of modern times, when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016, to take down The Squad of progressives in this year’s Democratic primary races. AIPAC, conservative Democrats indicted for bribery, the “Blockchain Caucus” and the insufferable DNC operatives who were outed by Russian leaks back in 2016 may win a few contests. But despite all the money in play, those Democrats who stand on principle will usually hold on in the face of all those attack ads.

Whichever bad ones may slip through the primaries, in the Democratic Party the tide is with the righteous, not with the cynical hustlers. After that phase, all but the most foolish Democrats understand just what the Republicans offer as an alternative in November.

 

Vonnegut
Vonnegut portrait by Giovanni Scifo – Deviant Art.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Bear in mind…

We don’t need bigger cars or fancier clothes. We need self-respect, identity, community, love, variety, beauty, challenge and a purpose in living that is greater than material accumulation.

Donella Meadows

Never knock on Death’s door: ring the bell and run away! Death really hates that!

Matt Frewer

Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think.

Hannah Arendt

 

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Maybe not so fast on the coin recall…

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martinellis

On second thought…

Photo and note by Eric Jackson

It was one of those stunning — for some, at first blush – transition period announcements. The one balboa (B/.1 or $1) coins, dubbed “the martinelli” after the presidential administration during which they were introduced, would be retired from circulation.

Uncertainty, shading in some cases into panic, ensued among coin collectors, bankers, shopkeepers and ordinary citizens who hoard coins in cookie cans until the need arises to change them into the folding stuff. Who would be left holding worthless money, honestly obtained, when it’s withdrawn from circulation?

It seems that there was more counterfeiting of the martinellis than of other coins – but how much, really?

The martinellis, because of the way that they are made, break more easily than other coins – but how prevalent has that problem been?

So, still in the lame duck presidency of Nito Cortizo, came another announcement from the Banco Nacional. Broken or bent martinellis, and certainly counterfeit ones, will be taken out of circulation. However, the plan now is not to discontinue their use.

There are costs to coining new money, or to replacing coins with US currency. If the problems with the martinelli are so dire and prevalent as suggested, there would also be damage to the reputation of the Canadian Mint, which produced the things. There would be a quantifiable in monetary terms loss to that institution if the problems are widespread.

Thus a walk back on the announced policy. There will likely be further studies, by new people. Leave it to the incoming Mulino administration and the next legislature to make some decisions about Panama’s physical money supply, without any obvious incentive on the next president’s part to impugn the record in office of one Ricardo Martnelli Berrocal.

 

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Zogby, Xenophobes

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CBP heavy
Exclusionary bigotry never did anything to lift this country up. Immigrants, on the other hand, have shown us what true greatness and perseverance look like. A US Border Patrol agent on the Rio Grande near McAllen, Texas. US Department of Homeland Security photo by Donna Burton.

Beware the xenophobes: immigrants
have always made this nation great

by James Zogby — Common Dreams

June is National Immigration Month in the United States—an appropriate time to reflect on the special role immigrants have played and continue to play in enriching this country.

Far from being a threat to the vitality of America, immigration has been a life-giving force that in every generation has helped the country grow. This fact is on display in communities across the United States as new immigrants and refugees come not only with their hopes and dreams for a better life, but also with their energy and determination to prosper and provide for their families. They also have brought their unique cultural characteristics that contribute to making America the country it is today.

All of this is too often forgotten in times of economic stress or political polarization, as xenophobic bigots rise up demanding that America’s doors be closed. Immigrants are presented as a threat to the economic well-being of citizens. They argue that there is an “American culture” that the immigrants do not share. They raise slogans like “you will not replace us” or “immigrants don’t share our values or culture” or they’ll “pollute the blood of the country.”

Not only will they become American, but also America itself will be transformed by them and their contributions.

What these anti-immigrant bigots forget is that their own ancestors were often greeted by the same fears and exclusionary slogans when they first came to America. And they forget that that there is no uniquely American culture without the contributions of immigrants who made our culture what it is today. What would American culture be without the Scots-Irish and African Americans who brought their music and dance, or the Italians, Chinese, Mexicans, Greeks, and Arabs who contributed their food, or the Eastern European Jewry who gave us their arts and humor, not to speak of the countless others whose contributions to science, medicine, art, and business have made us the country we are today.

It’s important to understand that these two competing visions of the country have come in successive waves. And it’s particularly sad to see the descendants of the earlier waves of immigrants who were reviled a century ago, now becoming the xenophobes of this era. But thankfully, the bigots of every period, after doing short-term damage, have always lost as the more inclusive spirit of America has triumphed. And when inclusion wins, America wins.

I saw this on display during a recent visit to my hometown of Utica, NY. For most of its more than two centuries of existence, Utica has been a community of immigrants. First came the Germans, Welsh, and then the Irish—to dig the canals and work in the city’s factories. Then, beginning with the turn of the last century, came a massive influx of immigrants from Italy, Eastern and Central Europe, and Lebanon. By mid-century Utica had a population of over 100,000. They lived in ethnic neighborhoods, worked in the factories of East and West Utica, where their wages put them squarely in that period’s middle class.

The neighborhood in which I lived was largely Italian, with pockets of Poles and remnants of Utica’s dwindling population of German descent. When the factories closed in the second half of the century, moving their production to the non-unionized south or overseas, the city began a slow steady decline. The population was halved, homes were abandoned, neighborhoods left in ruin, and businesses closed.

It was at that point that Utica did something very American. They opened a refugee center beckoning immigrants and refugees from far and wide. They welcomed newcomers, helped them resettle and find employment, and provided them services needed to speed up their acculturation into their new environment. The success of this endeavor is evident.

After decades of decline, Utica’s population grew back to 64,000. Thousands of Bosnians, Burmese, Russians, Vietnamese, Africans, Latin Americans, and Arabs (from Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) have settled in Utica.

My sister provided me a look at the rich cultural diversity that now makes up her street with families from Sudan, Burma, Poland, and Bosnia, and African American and Latino families, all living next door to one another. Businesses that had been boarded up have reopened, homes and neighborhoods that one might have thought unsalvageable have been restored to their original beauty. Gardens are growing everywhere, and children are playing in the streets and parks. The city has come back to life.

The last census shows that almost one in five Uticans are foreign born, and there are 40 different languages are spoken in the city. Within less than a generation, all of these diverse groups will become American. They’ll become Democrats or Republicans. They’ll follow their favorite baseball or football teams. Their kids will listen to popular music. Not only will they become American, but also America itself will be transformed by them and their contributions. A friend of mine, Mike Baroody, a Lebanese American who served in the Reagan administration, calls this the wonderful alchemy of becoming American—immigrants become American and America changes as a result of their addition to our cultural fabric.

A final word to the xenophobes: It is this absorptive and transformative quality that has made America great, not your exclusionary bigotry.

 

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A visit to John Douglas’s Lazy Man’s Farm II

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Douglas farm
So THAT’S what a dragon fruit looks like! This and other photos on this page by Eric Jackson.

The easier and healthier way
to grow your living

by Eric Jackson

John Douglas has been a private sector agronomist for some time now. When, as a subcontractor he worked to set up a park in Panama City? A few years back, and he was never paid. He taught organic permaculture for Uncle Sam as a Peace Corps volunteer and otherwise, but now he holds forth in his second farm near Penonome, smaller and a bit closer to town than the previous one, with the back of his property on the Zarate River. There are various aspects to the business, but subsistence agriculture and the teaching of sustainable farming without all the chemicals are the main things. As a side gig for some of the neighbors, he gives some English lessons. He’s not set up to do it as a main business, but you might be able to get a plant, a cutting or some seeds to start growing your own stuff.

These days John’s truck has died, he’s an octogenarian and he generally gets around by public transportation. People find their ways to his farm out on Via Sonadora north / northeast of the Penonome town center, across from the Catholic Church in the corregimiento of Pajonal. It’s along the back roads that meander from Penonome to El Valle, a little ways up from the historic battlefield where Victoriano Lorenzo’s Liberal guerrillas defeated the Conservatives in a trench warfare episode of the Thousand Days War, setting the stage for Lorenzo to take Penonome and Aguadulce. Sonadora’s a somewhat sparsely populated, prosperous neighborhood these days. It’s part of a scenic drive from El Valle to Penonome or vice versa.

map

 

At one point the government was into “agricultural tourism,” which was one of the premises for the first Lazy Man’s Farm, but in recent times “tourism promotion” is about subsidies to ad agencies and tax incentives to build redundant hotels. And agricultural promotion? The people who import and sell agro-chemicals, not the organic farmers, are the ones with the political influence. Still, healthy farming has its many fans and practitioners here.

1
In the background, the Catholic church in Sonadora provides the across-the-road landmark to find The Lazy Man’s Farm.

 

3
John and his assistant have been celebrating a new success in composting papaya trees.

 

4
Mother and son drop by for an English lesson.

 

5
Flowers and medicinal plants, too…

 

6
There is an ethic that goes along with this. You wouldn’t want a perfectly good planter go into a landfill just because it no longer serves its original intended use.

 

7
TEACHING — that’s the ticket.

 

8
Every well-appointed organic permaculture farm should have a wonder dog.

 

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Physicians sound a fraud alarm about Medicare Advantage

0
hmmmmm
“The time has come to declare MA a failed experiment,” write the authors of a new paper. Stock photo.

A $600 billion swindle: study makes the
case to ‘abolish’ Medicare Advantage

by Jake Johnson — Common Dreams

A new academic analysis published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine details the enormous sums that privatized Medicare Advantage plans have cost US taxpayers in recent years and calls for the abolition of the program, which has been massively profitable for the insurance giants that dominate it.

Citing the nonpartisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the paper notes that Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have overcharged the federal government to the tune of $612 billion since 2007—and $82 billion last year alone.

MA plans—now used by more than half of the eligible Medicare population—utilize a range of tactics to reap larger payments from the federal government, which provides insurers a lump sum for each Medicare Advantage patient. The size of the payment depends on the enrollee’s health, which MA plans are notorious for portraying as worse than it is in order to receive heftier government payments.

“Paradoxically, despite those overpayments, MA plans spend 9% less on medical services than [fee-for-service] Medicare spends for comparable enrollees,” reads the new study. “If MA plans pay for less care, where do the overpayments go? Some pay for supplementary benefits, although plans do not disclose how much they spend on them, and MA enrollees do not get significantly more dental care or incur lower out-of-pocket dental costs than those in FFS Medicare. Instead, overhead and profit eats up the lion’s share.”

The study’s authors estimate that MA plans’ overhead from 2007 to 2024 was $592 billion, which is “equivalent to 97% of taxpayers’ $612 billion overpayments to them during that period.”

Medicare Advantage plans have, in effect, stolen hundreds of billions from taxpayers

Dr. Adam Gaffney, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the new study, said in a statement that “Medicare Advantage is a bad deal for taxpayers.”

“Money that could be used to eliminate all copayments or shore up Medicare’s Trust Fund is instead lining insurers’ pockets,” said Gaffney. “And the private insurers keep Medicare Advantage enrollees from getting needed care by erecting bureaucratic hurdles like prior authorizations and payment denials.”

Gaffney and study co-authors Drs. Stephanie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein—co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program (PHNP)—argue based on their examination of Medicare Advantage’s decadeslong history that “the time has come to declare MA a failed experiment and abolish it.”

“Medicare Advantage plans have, in effect, stolen hundreds of billions from taxpayers,” says David Himmelstein, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and a research associate at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. “And the private plans’ schemes also raise seniors’ Part B Medicare premiums. Even seniors who don’t choose to enroll in Medicare Advantage are subsidizing the private plans’ profits.”

The study’s authors observe that the elimination of Medicare Advantage would allow the federal government to use the roughly $88 billion in estimated MA overpayments for the coming year to instead “upgrade benefits for all Medicare beneficiaries.” Traditional Medicare typically does not cover dental, vision, or hearing services, which often leads people to choose MA plans.

“A smarter, thriftier way to expand benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs is possible for all Medicare beneficiaries, but first, we must eliminate MA and double down on traditional Medicare, covering all enrollees in an expanded and improved Medicare program,” the analysis concludes. “That would be a good deal for patients and taxpayers.”

Wendell Potter, a former insurance executive who has become a trenchant critic of Medicare Advantage, told Common Dreams that he agrees with the study’s authors that MA “should be eliminated.”

“Not only has it never saved taxpayers a dime since it was created during the George W. Bush administration, but it has cost us $592 billion over the last 17 years because of the high administrative costs inherent in the program and the way insurers have rigged the system to get paid excessively every year,” said Potter, president of the Center for Health and Democracy.

“The program is so entrenched, and the companies have so much political influence over Democrats as well as Republicans through campaign contributions and lobbying, that eliminating the program will be a heavy lift, at least in the near term,” Potter added. “That means that proposals to reform MA that address overpayments and abuses like prior authorization are essential and important for reform advocates to support.”

 

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