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Hightower, Today’s box of rocks GOP

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playing to the dumb
When not attacking the Muppets, the party’s leading figures have spent the year laying out plans to tax the poor and eliminate Social Security. The eternal question is whether these people are that dumb, or just playing to those who are. Photo of Ted Cruz by Gage Skidmore.

The GOP’s 2022 platform is a grab bag of nuttiness

by Jim Hightower – OtherWords

Let me say one word to you: Nuts.

Now, let me say one name to you: Ted Cruz.

They’ve become synonymous, with the Texas lawmaker perennially topping national lists of goofy, right-wing political goobers. Only, Ted can’t rightly be called a lawmaker, for he’s not a serious participant in that process, instead devoting his senatorship to political stunts and picking silly PR fights with a growing list of enemies.

Running out of people to attack, Ted has found another species for his vitriol: Fictional icons. He’s been padding his right-wing credentials by going after Mr. Potato Head, Mickey and Pluto, and, believe it or not, the Muppets.

This US senator has dedicated the power and public resources of his office to demonizing popular creatures on “Sesame Street,” specifically Big Bird and loveable little Elmo. Ted rants he has proof that Muppets are covert tools of “government propaganda.” So, this ridiculous excuse of a senator is saving America from… Muppets.

But for a whole bag of assorted nuttiness, you can’t beat Senator Rick Scott’s 11-point plan to “Rescue America.” A disgraced former healthcare mogul, Cruz’s mega-millionaire colleague reinvented himself as a wingnut Florida senator, and he now chairs a policy arm of the Republican Party.

In February, Scott set forth a stunning agenda of far-out right-wing extremism that he says his party will push if they retake the Senate this November, including:

  • Implementing new federal taxes on the poorest half of Americans. So — as Scott puts it — they’ll “have skin in the game.”
  • “Stopping socialism” by terminating Social Security and Medicare.
  • Spending unlimited billions to build Donald Trump’s folly of a border wall (and, ironically, naming the scam after The Donald).

Fiddle-faddles like Cruz and Scott have turned the once-proud US Senate into The Little Nut Shoppe on the Hill.

 

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Delitos contra los solicitantes del asilo

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libertad
“Denme sus cansadas, sus pobres, sus masas acurrucadas anhelando respirar libres…” Demócratas no hacen excepciones para venezolanos.

Los gobernadores estadounidenses DeSantis, Abbott y Ducey reeditan una estrategia segregacionista de 1962

por Amy Goodman y Denis Moynihan — Democracy Now

En Estados Unidos, varios gobernadores republicanos han estado reclutando grupos de migrantes y solicitantes de asilo, familias enteras en muchos casos, para enviarlos en autobús y avión a las llamadas ciudades “liberales”, como Nueva York, Chicago y Washington DC. La mayoría —o la totalidad— de estas personas están en el país de manera legal, a la espera de la aprobación de sus trámites migratorios.

Estos desplazamientos internos que algunos estados han impulsado con la intención de avergonzar al Gobierno de Biden y exacerbar el ánimo de los votantes republicanos son de índole racista, repugnantes y potencialmente criminales.

Cerca de 50 solicitantes de asilo venezolanos refugiados en la localidad de San Antonio aceptaron abordar los aviones luego de que el gobernador del estado de Florida, Ron DeSantis, les prometiera falsamente vivienda, empleo y dinero. A muchos de ellos se les dijo que irían a la ciudad de Boston. Sin embargo, tras abordar dos vuelos de avión, estas personas migrantes fueron abandonadas durante la noche en Martha’s Vineyard, una isla situada frente a las costas del estado de Massachusetts, sin ningún aviso previo a las autoridades locales.

DeSantis y los otros gobernadores republicanos, como el gobernador del estado de Texas, Greg Abbott, y el gobernador del estado de Arizona, Doug Ducey, no inventaron esta farsa. En tiempos de la lucha por los derechos civiles, grupos segregacionistas blancos del sur de Estados Unidos lanzaron los llamados “Viajes por la libertad a la inversa”, en los que trasladaban a familias negras del sur hacia el norte del país. Esa campaña racista de hace 60 años fracasó. La actual iniciativa —tan abiertamente racista como esa otra— podría tener éxito si la población estadounidense no toma cartas en el asunto y exige que DeSantis, Abbott, Ducey y los otros eventuales gobernadores que participen en ella rindan cuentas por sus actos.

Los “Viajes por la libertad a la inversa” de 1962 nacieron como respuesta a los llamados “Viajes por la libertad”, en los que grupos de activistas por los derechos civiles viajaban en autobuses al sur profundo de Estados Unidos para protestar contra la segregación racial en los viajes interestatales que aún regía allí.

Muchos de los activistas que participaban en esos viajes por la libertad fueron encarcelados y tuvieron que enfrentar la hostilidad y la violencia de los supremacistas blancos del sur, pero sus esfuerzos lograron concitar una atención significativa y dieron verdaderos frutos. Los “Viajes por la libertad a la inversa” desplazaron a entre 200 y 300 residentes afroestadounidenses, a los que se trasladó en autobuses a ciudades del norte del país, así como a la península de Cape Cod, a donde se los dejó abandonados. En 1962, Betty Williams fue trasladada en autobús hacia el norte de Estados Unidos cuando era una niña. En un documental sobre su experiencia, Williams dijo a GBH, un medio de comunicación público de Boston: “Realmente no teníamos nada. Solo teníamos nuestra ropa”.

Por su parte, Mwalim Peters, profesor de la Universidad de Massachusetts Dartmouth, dijo a Democracy Now!: “Hace 60 años, en 1962, el Consejo de Ciudadanos Blancos era una organización del sur del país que se consideraba más moderada que el Ku Klux Klan, pero básicamente también era una organización defensora de la supremacía blanca”.

Peters es afroestadounidense y miembro de la tribu Mashpee Wampanoag, una nación indígena originaria de Massachusetts y del este del estado de Rhode Island. Peters continuó: “Con el propósito de humillar a los progresistas del norte [de Estados Unidos], particularmente a la familia Kennedy, [la campaña de los “Viajes por la libertad a la inversa”] fue una estrategia en la que se puso a gente pobre —de [los estados] de Arkansas, Misisipi, las Carolinas y Georgia— en autobuses y se la trasladó directamente a la exclusiva calle Main Street de la localidad de Hyannis. Les dijeron que la familia Kennedy estaría allí para darles la bienvenida. Básicamente, idéntico a lo que está sucediendo ahora en Martha’s Vineyard, donde [a las personas migrantes] se les prometió todo tipo de cosas. [En ese entonces], el objetivo era humillar a la familia Kennedy, a la Asociación Nacional para el Progreso de las Personas de Color y a la [organización] Urban League”.

La familia Kennedy tenía (y todavía tiene) un complejo residencial en Hyannis, de ahí que uno de los destinos de aquellos viajes en autobús de 1962 fuera esa pequeña ciudad de Cape Cod. Hoy en día, Martha’s Vineyard —una isla situada frente a la costa de Cape Cod y a la que se accede por un ferri de pasajeros desde Hyannis— es un destino de vacaciones de verano para muchos destacados dirigentes demócratas, entre ellos, los expresidentes Clinton y Obama. El gobernador Ron DeSantis lo sabe bien, ya que asistió a la Universidad de Yale, en el estado de Connecticut, y luego a la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Harvard, en la ciudad de Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Es posible que DeSantis se arrepienta de haberse jactado de organizar el traslado [de los migrantes] desde San Antonio a Martha’s Vineyard. El sheriff del condado de Bexar, Javier Salazar, cuya jurisdicción incluye a San Antonio, ha iniciado una investigación penal sobre dichos vuelos.

En una conferencia de prensa que brindó el lunes, Salazar dijo al respecto: “Tal como lo entendemos, 48 personas migrantes fueron atraídas —usaré la palabra ’atraídas’— con falsas promesas para que se quedaran en un hotel durante un par de días. […][Estas personas] fueron trasladadas a un avión, desde donde fueron llevadas a Florida y luego, finalmente, a Martha’s Vineyard, de nuevo bajo engaño”.

Varios de los solicitantes de asilo que fueron engañados, junto con Alianza Americas, una red de organizaciones dirigidas por migrantes, han presentado una demanda colectiva contra DeSantis. La demanda ofrece impactantes relatos de primera mano sobre el engaño. Varios dirigentes y legisladores demócratas —desde miembros del Congreso hasta el gobernador de California, Gavin Newsom— han pedido al Departamento de Justicia de Estados Unidos que investigue posibles delitos cometidos en estos hechos, que van desde el uso indebido de los fondos de ayuda para la COVID-19 hasta la trata de personas, el secuestro y la asociación delictiva. En declaraciones a medios de prensa, la fiscal federal de Massachusetts, Rachael Rollins, dijo: “Estamos investigando este caso y hablaremos con miembros del Departamento de Justicia”.

Utilizar a personas que huyen de situaciones desesperadas con fines políticos y aumentar su sufrimiento es cruel y deshumanizante. Estuvo mal en 1962 en el caso de los “Viajes por la libertad a la inversa” y está mal ahora. Los gobernadores DeSantis, Abbott y Ducey deben rendir cuentas por lo sucedido y las personas que buscan refugio en Estados Unidos deben ser protegidas.

 

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La nueva defensa de Varela, desde el mundo de Twitter

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bad guys
La sede de la empresa canalla en São Paulo, antes de que cambiaron su nombre. Foto por Jeso Carneiro.
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On an evening stroll through Panama City’s Santa Ana…

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peatonal
You see THIS nocturnal trap on the Peatonal in Santa Ana because the flash in the camera makes it visible. Walking down the street at night you might not. It’s the municipio’s job to keep such holes covered, and the general public’s job to avoid the camouflage effect by refraining from throwing trash in every available hole. Former Mayor Juan Carlos Navarro campaigned against the dangers and evils of such littering. Current Mayor José Luis Fábrega, a civil engineer by education, has other priorities. Photo by Rozano Johnson.

‘But they GET THINGS DONE — there are more PRD
members and relatives on the payroll and such

photos by and injury of Rozano Johnson
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OUCH! Might have been worse, but that’s small comfort.

 

 

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Antiwar group urges end to ‘chicken’ games around Taiwan

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the big bad Americans
The co-chairs of the Committee for a SANE US-China Policy called on American and Chinese leaders to “immediately take unilateral and bilateral steps to reduce the risk of an accidental or unintended clash.” The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) in the Taiwan Strait in November of 2020. Barry was assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the US 7th Fleet’s principal surface force, forward-deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations. US Navy photo by Lieutenant Junior Grade Samuel Hardgrove.

Peace group urges halt to “blatantly provocative”
US and Chinese military maneuvers around Taiwan

by Brett Wilkins — Common Dreams

Writing to US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Committee for a SANE US-China Policy co-chairs Joseph Gerson and Michael Klare warned that “combative” US and Chinese naval and aerial maneuvers “could result in the outbreak of accidental or unintended conflict with unforeseeable and possibly catastrophic consequences.”

The group documented 115 “provocative maneuvers and close encounters” between US and Chinese forces this year, with a dramatic increase following a controversial August visit to Taiwan by a US congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

According to the document, China initiated 93 of the incidents, while the United States triggered 22. They ranged from “modest actions” by one or two ships or planes to “large-scale maneuvers” like a Chinese air force exercise involving 62 warplanes along China’s maritime border with Taiwan.

“Whenever these maneuvers occur, it is common for the opposing side to mobilize its own air and naval forces to guard its territory (or those of its allies) and ward off any intruders,” the letter notes. “This has resulted, on some occasions, in close encounters between the ships and planes of the opposing sides — with only the skillful action of pilots and helmsmen preventing a potentially deadly collision.”

“This good fortune, however, is not likely to last forever,” the group cautioned, “and, with the frequency and scale of these maneuvers increasing by the week, the likelihood of a mishap is increasing exponentially.”

“Given this danger, we call on you to immediately take unilateral and bilateral steps to reduce the risk of an accidental or unintended clash between US and [Chinese] air and naval forces in the West Pacific by discontinuing or scaling back military exercises that could be deemed threatening by others,” the letter continues.

The activists also urged the two countries’ leaders to hold talks “between military officials of the two sides,” plus “other interested parties such as Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines,” to create “‘rules of the road’ for safe, nonthreatening air and naval maneuvers.”

The group’s letter comes amid intense US diplomatic efforts to persuade China to be less supportive of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It is peculiar,” wrote South China Morning Post opinion contributor Dong Lei on Friday, “how Washington expects help from China on Ukraine while maintaining a campaign of hectoring and humiliation, including on China’s refusal to condemn Russia, and on Taiwan.”

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“With the frequency and scale of these maneuvers increasing by the week, the likelihood of a mishap is increasing exponentially.” The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducts long-range live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait in August of 2022. Chinese Ministry of Defense photo.
 

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US citizens living abroad, it’s time to return your ballots (or at least make plans)

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FVAP
The Federal Voting Assistance Program — FVAP — has its roots in the offices to help overseas US military personnel vote. It has evolved to the point that it will help any US citizen who is abroad to exercise voting rights, but its funding and prominence have waned a bit due to Washington gridlock. Contact them here.

Have a US passport? Return your ballot today

Sound advice, and as time ticks by then other options come into play, but with rules that vary state by state.

Basic rule of thumb is that Americans living overseas and otherwise eligible to vote have a right to cast absentee ballots for at least the federal offices, generally where they last lived in the USA, or if they never did where a US citizen parent did. That part is guaranteed by federal law and for those who registered in time the ballots were supposed to have been mailed out, also per federal law. A lot of states will let overseas voters cast ballots for state officers, local officer and ballot proposals.

Deadlines vary from state to state. As do rules about voting for down-ticket non-federal offices, and whether voting for state and local offices makes you a state resident for tax purposes. (By federal law, voting for federal offices can’t be used by states to make you a resident for tax purposes.)

Getting REALLY late with no ballot having arrived, there are the federal write-in ballot forms. And then, some states say the ballot must arrive by Election Day, while others say must be postmarked on or before Election Day, and there are variations on the arrival theme.

Does it sound horribly complex? It really isn’t, although there are sometimes local and state officials who will write “rules” as they go to play partisan games. Every election year a bunch of these have to be challenged in courts.

It’s not horribly complex because Vote From Abroad exists and is online to help you through the particular mazes of the place where you can vote absentee. For questions, assistance or the most up-to-date information, see https://www.votefromabroad.org

“The Lion City” is Singapore, from whence US citizens are now voting.
 

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Hartmann, When the Supreme Court enabled the hustlers

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ct
Because of key decisions by the court equating money with free speech, the US political system is now overrun with grifters, con artists, and career criminals. Clarence Thomas, from the Supreme Court’s archives. Photo by Steve Petteway.

How the US Supreme Court unleashed
a corporate criminal takeover

by Thom Hartmann — Common Dreams

Republicans in the Senate yesterday killed legislation passed through the House that would require “dark money” to be publicly disclosed: not a single Republican voted for it, although every Democrat in attendance did.

Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, we learned Wednesday, is going to spend $42 million on the midterm elections, focusing on flipping evangelical Hispanics toward the GOP.

Leonard Leo, head of The Federalist Society so famous for providing Trump and McConnell with rightwing judges to pack federal courts and the Supreme Court, recently received a $1.6 billion contribution, tax-free.

So much money is sloshing around in our political system — both what we know of and the billions in truly dark money that we know nothing about — that honest politicians are buried and actual criminals are stepping up.

Donald Trump‘s phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was probably the clearest illustration of this recent incarnation of his lifelong criminality. Although it’s rapidly being eclipsed by his theft and probable sale to foreign dictators of classified documents.

Over the last 40 years, career criminals like Trump have increasingly moved out of the business world and the streets and into politics, something for which we can thank the Supreme Court.

There are, among us, a small number of individuals who are career criminals. They have literally spent their entire lives skirting or outright breaking the law, and not only believe the law doesn’t apply to them, but actually delight in getting away with their crimes.

Because all of us have, at one time or another in our lives, broken a law or told lies; we tend to assume that these career criminals are just like us but only got caught in that one unlucky moment, like that time you drove home after a second glass of wine, or made up an excuse to tell your boss.

But they’re not like you and me. There’s something fundamentally different about these people. And the failure to recognize that goes to the core of the crisis within the Republican Party and our overall political system today.

Back when I was in my late teens, I got a job as a manager of a GNC store in a mall in Okemos, Michigan. There was a test that I had to give to all job applicants to determine their “honesty.”

The test asked really weird questions, along the lines of:

“One of your very best employees just came to you to return some money to the till, money that she had borrowed from the till because a few months back she needed it to help pay for an emergency medical procedure for her child. She has saved up to pay the money back, and is now trying to do so. What do you do?”

Or: “Your mother just called and told to you that she’s been shoplifting at the local store when her food stamps run out and your younger sister is really hungry. What do you do?”

The test, from a national testing chain, went on with 20 or 30 similar questions. In almost every case, the only correct answer to the multiple choice test was, “call the police and send them to jail.”

I protested to my district manager, saying that I would’ve flunked the test, or would’ve had to lie to pass it. There’s no way I turn in my mother or call the police on somebody with a sick child.

My manager pointed out to me that the only way to pass the honesty test is to lie on it, and it was actually designed that way. They expect people to say that they will call the police even for the tiniest of crimes. I protested that I thought that was crazy, that we were requiring people to lie to pass an honesty test, and that made no sense at all to me.

What he explained was that there’s no test in the world that can tell if a person really and truly will or will not call the police on anyone. But the test does tell whether a person understands the difference between right and wrong.

“I know it’s hard for you to realize or believe,” he said as I recall, “but there are some people who literally don’t know what is right and what is wrong. And the people who don’t have that basic understanding, or do know but don’t think the rules apply to them, are the ones most likely to steal from us or let their friends come shoplifting.

“The test expects people to lie by representing themselves as being honest, because to lie on the test they would first have to know the difference between right and wrong, so they could lie and say that they would always do the right thing.”

One of the big challenges the American media and our political system have with Donald Trump and a number of his enablers is that, like the people I was testing to filter out from our potential pool of employees, they are actually career criminals with no deep understanding of, or respect for, right and wrong.

They may know the words and concepts, but truly believe they don’t apply to them.

Donald Trump has been scamming, grifting and stealing his entire life, going all the way back to stealing his father’s money from his parents and his siblings. He is a career criminal.

Many of the people he surrounded himself with are, similarly, career criminals even though they appear to have had high profile, high powered positions in government or industry.

Even Forbes magazine called Trump’s commerce secretary, billionaire Wilbur Ross, a professional “grifter” for all the scams he has perpetrated in his career, and now we learn that Clarence Thomas’ wife was allegedly in on trying to overthrow our democracy.

While fundamentally dishonest people has been a problem for our society and business community for centuries, it has particularly become a problem in our political world since 1976 and 1978.

That was when the Supreme Court explicitly ruled that billionaires or corporations giving massive amounts of money to politicians and political parties is no longer considered bribery or corruption but, instead, is “free speech“ protected by the First Amendment.

Never before in all of American history had bribing politicians been considered free-speech, until the Buckley v Valejo and First National Bank v Belotti Supreme Court decisions as I laid out in The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America.

In 2010, conservatives of the Court doubled down on these decisions and even expanded their scope with Citizens United.

The result after these SCOTUS decisions was an ocean of corporate and billionaire money flowing into politics, sweeping Ronald Reagan into the White House on a tsunami of cash from the fossil fuel industry.

In the 40+ years since then, billionaire and corporate bribery of politicians has become the norm, and even institutionalized with national and state-based “policy networks,” PACs and SuperPACs, and dark money groups like the ones affiliated with Mitch McConnell that just poured tens of millions into this year’s elections.

All this money now sloshing around in our political system has produced the result the dissenting Supreme Court justices worried about.

It’s become a giant magnet that draws career criminals and authoritarians into politics, and then helps them become fabulously wealthy as they do the bidding of the corporations and wealthy people who fund their elections and careers.

It’s normalized the “revolving door” where people go into government positions, particularly in regulatory agencies, and make decisions that benefit giant corporations while drawing a modest government paycheck, only then to leave government and pick up multi-million dollar a year jobs in the industries they were regulating.

Trump is a career criminal, and he has surrounded himself with career criminals. Just look at their mob-like meeting just a week or so ago on one of his golf courses: it was right out of The Sopranos.

But he and many of his criminal Republican allies could never have gained power if the Supreme Court, back in the 1970s, hadn’t struck down the “good government” laws that came out of the Nixon bribery scandals and other laws to keep money out of politics, like the Tillman Act that dates back to 1907.

Because of these Supreme Court decisions equating money with free speech, our political system is now overrun with grifters, con artists and career criminals.

Even worse, this dark money spree Republicans are enjoying courtesy of rightwing billionaires and giant corporations is also empowering the recurrent criminal underbelly of the political world itself: authoritarians.

Authoritarians like Mussolini, Hitler, Pinochet, and Trump each came to power through manipulating the political system in ways that, if not overtly in violation of criminal statutes, were certainly so dangerous to democracy that they’re rightly described as “crimes against the nation.”

Job one of the new Congress must be to overturn these corrupt Supreme Court decisions and get big money — and the criminals it draws and empowers — out of American politics.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of “The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream” (2020); “The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America” (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

 

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Martinelli plays youth movement, Italian far right, other cards

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Anton office
The youth movement card — Ricardo Martinelli is pumping up a young woman, Lourdes “Lulu” Castillo, to be the next legislator from Anton. It’s a sprawling municipality and swing circuit, but how valuable is a Marinelli endorsement? Most polls say that the former president is well situated for a 2024 comeback, but court developments suggest that by then he stands a very good chance of being a convicted criminal who’s ineligible to run. This is his latest party’s youth organization office on the Pan-American Highway in Anton. He also has volunteer groups active in the corregimientos. It represents a head start on the others if you don’t count the PRD political patronage machine.
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He’s promising more jobs and more cash, and revenge against everyone who calls him a crook. From his Twitter feed.
Martinelli, a dual Panamanian and Italian citizen, is celebrating a far right victory in Italy (as well as Sweden and other parts) and mostly ignoring the recent trend toward the left in much of Latin America. At the moment it would be a problem for him to go to Italy, as he’s wanted for hiring men to stalk and electronically spy upon a former mistress in Spain, so there would be a warrant in force for all of the Eurpean Union. Plus, after his two sons testified in a US federal district court in Brooklyn that they laundered some $28 million of Odebrecht bribe money for him, Uncle Sam would probably also be looking for him to be extradited and tried there.
Tick, tick, tick, ka-BOOOM!
Tick, tick, tick, ka-BOOOM! What’s a right wing politician without a conspiracy theory these days? Whether literal or figurative, any bombshell that the vice president may have in store for Martinelli is most unlikely to produce a Carrizo or a PRD victory in 2024. Should the derogatory Panamanian Spanglish word be used? It would be surplus. Panamanian voters generally throw the party that holds the presidency out of power in the next elections, and in this summer’s crisis Gaby Carrizo has shown his slickest moves to be incredibly clumsy. And if the ailing President Cortizo is unable to finish his term? By stepping up to that challenge Carrizo would make himself constitutionally ineligible. By declining the top job the VP would perhaps demonstrate even worse characteristics to the voters.

Stay tuned, folks. The editor is no prophet, but think about how unstable Panama could get over the next year and a half. Martinelli ineligible to run, the last Panameñista president convicted of Odebrecht kickbacks, people fed up with the PRD, most people unhappy with the way things are, nobody able to fully capture the public imagination? It might happen that way.

 

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Kosher rules don’t much change, but what observant American Jews eat evolves

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gefilte fish
Gefilte fish balls for Rosh Hashana. Wikimedia photo by Ovedc.

“Traditional” Jewish American foods keep changing: cookbooks and how Jews mark Rosh Hashana

by Deborah Dash Moore, University of Michigan

The end of August inaugurated the Hebrew month of Elul, when Jews all over the world start getting ready for the High Holidays: the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana followed 10 days later by the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.

Rabbis are polishing their sermons for one of the few times they can be confident of a large congregation ready to hear what they have to say. Cantors, who lead congregants in worship, are practicing the special nusach, melodies used during the High Holidays for prayers. Choir leaders meet with their group members to rehearse hymns and other songs. And those who cook are thinking about the meals they will serve.

Although Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, it is preceded by a large dinner and concludes with a meal to break the fast. Rosh Hashana, by contrast, summons up many meals. A large, multicourse feast opens the first evening, to be followed by another full dinner midday on the first day of the holiday and then a third substantial meal for the second day of the holiday. These feasts traditionally include fish, soup, meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, wine and, of course, a sweet dessert.

The wish for a sweet year gets expressed in food. Honey is a key ingredient. So are apples, since they are plentiful in this season.

As a historian of American Jews, I have been fascinated by the changing character of what are considered “Jewish” foods as expressed in cookbooks. These recipes have shaped the foods that American Jews have eaten, guiding what scholars call “vernacular religion,” or religion as it is lived.

Jewish American cookbooks across the 20th century have influenced the shifting tastes of American Jews’ vernacular religion, even as they have often reflected those tastes.

How kosher food changed in America

Judaism possesses an elaborate system that determines what food observant Jews can eat and which ones can be eaten together. Following these guidelines is called “keeping kosher”: either something is kosher and can be eaten or it is not.

In the United States, the growth of industrial food production for profit stimulated a wide array of products that could receive a symbol that labeled them as kosher. These range from the Orthodox Union’s OU symbol to a simple K to symbols that have a male rabbi’s name attached to them indicating his approval of the product. These multiple branding systems mean that Jews encounter a supermarket of Jewish choices, allowing each individual to decide just what products to buy.

Some people buy only products labeled “glatt kosher,” a reference that originally referred to meat and the inspection of an animal’s lungs. In the United States, Jews expanded the definition to emphasize a stringency that labeled only some foods sufficiently kosher to be eaten. Other people adopt a wide range of individual options.

Some reflect the prosperity of American Jews, such as having two sets of dishes, silverware and pots – one for meat and the other for dairy. Other variations register Jewish desires to enjoy “eating out” and tasting tref, or nonkosher, combinations.

Still other versions of kosher stem from industrial food production and the development of labels that allow each consumer to decide just which ones they will follow. The result leads to a kind of personalized form of kosher practice, one potentially with almost infinite variety.

As literary scholar Josh Lambert observed in his essay “One Man’s Kosher is Another Man’s Treif,” “my parents have never tasted swordfish, but adore caviar. In other words, they – like many people – have a kashrut [kosher] standard that makes sense to nobody but themselves.”

Cookbooks and changing tastes

This diversity leaves American Jews, especially women who still do most of the food preparation in Jewish homes, with a complex conundrum. Which foods should they cook? How should they cook this food? Should they turn to recipes handed down by mothers and grandmothers? Or should they try something new and different?

The conundrum is not new. Jews initially came to the United States as immigrants. Many left behind their parents and grandparents. Most possessed a limited knowledge of food preparation. Into this gap stepped women who wrote cookbooks.

Although the earliest Jewish cookbooks date to 1815 in Europe, the first American Jewish cookbook did not appear until 1871. Esther Levy’s “Jewish Cookery Book on Principles of Economy Adapted for Jewish Housekeepers” was published in Philadelphia.

Aunt Babette’s 1889 “Cookbook” soon eclipsed Esther Levy’s. Bertha F. Kramer, who wrote the “Aunt Babette’s Cookbook,” included American foods alongside Jewish ones, promoting integration of two types of foods.

Soon competition flourished as other publishers and writers saw the potential market with increasing numbers of Jewish immigrants arriving on American shores.

These Jewish cookbooks, written in Yiddish and German as well as English, guided women in how to prepare traditional Jewish foods even as they also promoted American food, such as apple pie. In a sense, they stepped into the breach within families caused by immigration, teaching their readers what to do and how to do it. Many also included explanations of the kosher system as well as holiday menus.

Even after Jewish families became intergenerational, and children often had access to traditional Jewish recipes through their grandparents, the popularity of Jewish cookbooks did not diminish. As Joan Nathan wrote in her 2004 “Jewish Holiday Cookbook,” “Like many Jews in America, I have become passionately involved in discovering my roots.” And that passion has led her, as a food writer, to seek “to discover the origin” of Jewish dishes and their ingredients along with the recipe.

Bagels and Jewish history

Wicker basket with bagels in itBagels came to be seen as Jewish food even though they have no particular association with Jews.
Photo by
Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography/Moment via Getty Images

The ongoing interest in Jewish food as expressed in diverse cookbooks prompted Nurith Gertz, an Israeli scholar of Jewish culture, and me to include excerpts – both recipes and the stories often told that accompanied them – from Jewish cookbooks in an anthology for The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization.

We recognized the recipes and the stories told around them as forms of vernacular Judaism – what Jews, especially American Jews, turned to when they wanted to cook Jewish food. Jewish foods as presented in recipes formed part of Jewish culture just as much as poetry and sermons, paintings and memoirs.

One of the recipes we decided to include was one for baking bagels by Matthew Goodman in “Jewish Food: The World at Table.” The round roll with a hole in it arrived in America with Jewish immigrants. Over the course of the 20th century, the hole grew ever smaller and the bagel ever more plump. But the bagel makers’ union kept a pretty tight lock on the two-step process of making bagels – first boiling, then baking – until frozen bagels were introduced.

After frozen bagels came all sorts of other innovations, like blueberry bagels, not to mention bagels that were only baked and so not particularly chewy. As it turns out, Jews began to celebrate bagels as a distinctively “Jewish food” as they became more popular: Bagels were leaving the Jewish fold and starting to be seen as an American food, with no particular associations with Jews.

Although bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon are still popular among American Jews to break the fast at the end of Yom Kippur, many Americans put all kinds of foods on bagels, including lots of nonkosher combinations.

Jewish food on the move

Only some of what American Jews ate for Rosh Hashana a century ago, or even 50 years ago, endures today.

Chicken soup and gefilte fish, which came to the United States with Russian Jews as foods associated with the Friday evening meal at the beginning of the Sabbath, are still part of the Jewish American palate. But brisket and even turkey have retreated before preferences for tastes such as Moroccan or Persian chicken dishes or vegetarian stews drawn from less familiar Jewish cultures.

I particularly miss a sweet dessert called taiglach. The small cubes of baked dough drenched in spiced honey, decorated with nuts and shaped into balls appeared on our table only during the High Holidays. Everyone pulled pieces to eat and licked their fingers. Neither my mother nor my grandmothers nor I ever made it – although my more adventurous sister did. We bought it from Jewish bakeries. But those bakeries are long gone.

The memory remains, as does the wish for a sweet new year that can be tasted.The Conversation

Deborah Dash Moore, Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and Professor of Judaic Studies, University of Michigan

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

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BWAHAHAHAHA! Whit Bissell and his werewolf formula were the crudest of precursors! Now we have SOUL TRANSPLANT TECHNOLOGY!!! Röda Sten Konsthall, Göteborg, 2019. Vivian Caccuri – A Soul Transplant © Hendrik Zeitler. ¿Estás lo suficientemente enfermo como para desear saber cómo se traduce al panameño?

To bind the wounds of broken hearts
Para vendar las heridas de corazones rotos

Patti LaBelle – On My Own
https://youtu.be/KsH63qJlIMM

Los Mozambiques – El Niño y El Perro
https://youtu.be/3CZiavWtv6Y

Jimmy Ruffin – What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
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Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
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Joss Stone – Stoned at Luna Park (2015)
https://youtu.be/10lpglxnM0I

Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia
https://youtu.be/uw_t_o-LluM

Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come
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Johnny Rivers – The Poor Side of Town
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Aretha Franklin – Gospel Concerts in Watts (1972)
https://youtu.be/Ib4YX7bjtUc

Cry to Me – Solomon Burke
https://youtu.be/h1U2GfCGIEs

Chaka Khan – Through the Fire
https://youtu.be/TjWmw-8-OEk

 

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