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Gush Shalom, An appeal to world labor about the Gaza War

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An appeal to labor unions – and anyone
who cares about what happens in Gaza

by Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Movement

The United States has a long-standing policy of providing Israel with massive amounts of military aid (which incidentally provides enormous profits to the American armament industries). This was greatly expanded and intensified since the outbreak of the current war in Gaza.

The constant flow of munitions from the United States – and to a lesser degree, from other Western countries – is completely indispensable for Israel to sustain its war. Israel’s own armament industry could in no way provide for a massive bombing campaign, in which Israel in a few months threw far more bombs on a very narrow and overcrowded strip of land than what the US itself did over years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Supplying arms to Israel has been traditionally justified as “helping Israel defend itself” and anyone objecting to it was castigated as “wanting Israelis to be exposed to danger”‘. However, the war which Israel launched – ostensibly as a response to the deadly Hamas attack on Israeli communities and military outposts on October 7, 2023 – was soon revealed to have not the slightest resemblance to any kind of “self defense,” and it was never meant to be such.

Rather, it is a completely unrestrained rampage, an orgy of killing and wanton destruction. Under a constant barrage of enormous one-ton bombs – of which a constant supply is provided to Israel by the boatload – schools, universities, mosques (and some churches), libraries, public buildings of any kind and most of the private houses in the Gaza Strip were destroyed or greatly damaged. The city of Gaza was left in ruins, as were many smaller towns and villages. Thirty thousand Palestinians were killed, including more than ten thousand children, and the death toll continues to rise. A million and half people were driven out of their homes, to live in horrifying conditions under the open sky.

The International Court in the Hague, the highest tribunal set up to deal with violations of International Law, met to hear South Africa’s charge that Israel’s acts in the Gaza Strip may culminate in actual genocide – the most terrible of all crimes. Sixteen out of eighteen judges – prominent jurists of various countries and backgrounds – were united in taking very seriously the danger of genocide in the Gaza Strip. Specifically, The Interantional Court found it plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide and issued six provisional measures: ordering Israel to take all steps within its power to prevent genocidal acts, including preventing and punishing incitement to genocide, ensuring aid and services reach Palestinians under siege in Gaza, and preserving evidence of crimes committed in Gaza.

The response of Israeli civil and military leaders was to make preparations for an all-out assault on the city of Rafah – the very place to which Israel had driven, in earlier stages of the war, a million and half Gazans displaced from their homes. Israeli leaders persist in making preparations for such an assault on Rafah, even though Israel’s own allies warn that this may lead to a terrible carnage and an untold humanitarian disaster. Yet President Biden’s making such dire predictions has not made him stop the constant supply of arms and munitions to Israel.

It was under these terrible circumstances that the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) issued an urgent appeal calling on “trade unions in relevant industries” to refuse to build weapons destined for Israel as well as refusing to transport such weapons. Some unions in various countries did respond to that call. For example, five Belgian transport unions issued a joint statement saying they were refusing to load or unload arms shipments heading to the war zone, and the Barcelona dock workers’ union announced that it “would not permit activity, in our port, of ships containing war materiel,” and called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

We Israeli citizens and activists in political organizations who are shocked and horrified by the acts of the Israeli government and armed forces and who want to see a future of brotherhood between Israelis and Palestinians, regard the above acts by Belgian and Catalan trade unions as an appropriate and praiseworthy response to the terrible carnage in Gaza. We call on all other trade unions worldwide to emulate that example, refuse to build weapons intended for Israel and to load or unload such weapons.

 

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Art In The Park 2024

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1

An artsy afternoon when the sun was too fierce

by Eric Jackson

Did I pick the wrong time to make my way into Penonome? I set out about noon, waited a little while in the shade to catch a bus at the usual stop, got an Anton bus and got off at the entrada, went into the Van y Ven to grab me a cold bottle of red Powerade, then went out to the bus stop on the highway to continue my way into Peonome. Several full buses — Penonome buses — passed me by. I was standing in the sun in front of the bus stop so as to be prominently see to hail a bus.

Then another Anton bus unloaded a crowd, and another. These folks hugged the shade under the caseta. They included a couple of mothers with young children, a predominantly female crowd of 17, with some young men. 

Finally a Penonome bus pulled up in front of me, and there was this rush of young men, one so surly as to try to push me aside. I put out my arm, got on the bus and went to the back. The only ones who got on other than me were the aggressive young men. I think all of the other 17 people, and many in the full busses that passed me by, were headed to another cultural event in Penonome that day, the Sombrero Pintao Festival. In any case, it was a display of a certain aspect of Panamanian culture that’s not beautiful.

Got off at the bank stop, made my way down the town’s main drag, and it had the look of a slow business Saturday.

Come to the park and it was not crowded. The band was not one of the main attractions, but here was a local tipico band, not your renowned professionals but some men keeping the local culture alive, somewhere near the geographical center of Panama. The city had neglected to take down the signs and lanterns from the earlier Chinese New Year party, but that’s also part of the local culture.

Nice art, hungry artists making few sales, not enough customers. I hope that business picked up.

2
Some sculpture, mostly painting. 
the band
Keeping the popular musical traditions popular…
mouse
An insolent cubist dismembers the deity to whom rabiblanco families take their children on pilgrimages to the United States to worship.
pollera
¡Panamá linda! But artists who do excellent work making few sales at the moment.
6
 

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STRI: Un experimento de compostaje

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Francisco raking
Un estudio de 17 años revela el vital intercambio de nutrientes en los bosques tropicales infértil. Francisco Valdez apoyó el estudio moviendo la hojarasca de un lado al otro del bosque durante más de una década. Foto por Emma Sayer, Universidad de Ulm.

Hojas descompuestas: el alimento de los bosques tropicales

por STRI

El zumbido de los sopladores de hojas siempre llega a perturbarnos en los momentos menos oportunos. La tarea de despejar patios, aceras y calzadas de la persistente hojarasca es una práctica común en áreas suburbanas. Aunque para algunos puedan resultar poco atractivas visualmente, las hojas caídas desempeñan un papel esencial en el crecimiento natural de los árboles. En este contexto, un equipo de investigadores del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI) e instituciones aliadas dedicaron 17 años a mover la hojarasca en un bosque de Panamá para entender mejor su rol. Sus hallazgos se publicaron en la revista Journal of Ecology.

manglares
La entonces estudiante de la Universidad de Cambridge, Laura Sutcliffe, tomando medidas de la palmera que camina (Socratea exorrhiza). Foto por Emma Sayer, Universidad de Ulm.

El equipo del Gigante Litter Manipulation Project (GLiMP) decidió abordar esta pregunta trabajando durante casi dos décadas en un bosque tropical de Panamá. A lo largo de 17 años, se dedicaron a retirar las hojas caídas de ciertas áreas del bosque, mientras que en otras zonas aumentaron la cantidad de hojarasca. En otras palabras, algunos árboles recibieron menos hojarasca y otros recibieron más hojarasca de lo habitual durante ese periodo de tiempo.

El experimento era algo que el co-autor Edmund Tanner (Universidad de Cambridge y STRI) llevaba mucho tiempo queriendo hacer, desde que realizó ensayos de fertilización forestal en Jamaica en los años ochenta. El reto era encontrar un lugar adecuado y una organización que apoyara un experimento a largo plazo. A diferencia de los estudios de fertilización, que pueden persistir con sólo una visita anual, el esfuerzo sostenido es esencial para los experimentos de manipulación de hojarasca; en cuanto se deja de retirar la hojarasca, el expmento muere lentamente.

“El mayor reto ha sido mantener el experimento en marcha durante suficiente tiempo para medir los cambios en el crecimiento de los árboles”, dijo la autora principal, Emma Sayer, del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI), la Universidad de Ulm y la Universidad de Lancaster.

En las áreas donde se eliminó la hojarasca, se observó un deterioro en el crecimiento de los árboles a lo largo del tiempo, acompañado de una disminución gradual en la producción de hojarasca. Mientras que en las zonas donde se agregó hojarasca, los árboles presentaron solo un aumento temporal en su crecimiento al inicio del experimento; posteriormente, el exceso de hojarasca solo resultó en más hojas caídas anualmente.

En términos generales, los resultados del experimento revelaron que la caída y descomposición de las hojas en el suelo contribuye a enriquecer el sustrato con nutrientes, impulsando así el crecimiento de árboles en bosques tropicales infértiles.

Es posible que los árboles con menos hojarasca hayan encontrado formas de adaptarse a la reducción de nutrientes con el paso del tiempo. Por ejemplo, cambiaron sus hongos micorrícicos asociados, lo que puede haberles dado acceso a más nutrientes del suelo. Otra forma en que podrían haber respondido fue prolongando la duración de sus hojas existentes o produciendo menos hojas y raíces nuevas.

“El tamaño de las parcelas y la larga duración del experimento lo hacen único, y esto nos ha permitido validar una teoría que llevaba casi 40 años sin comprobarse”, afirmó Sayer. “El apoyo de STRI al experimento ha sido fundamental para lograrlo”.

raked and control
Los árboles de las zonas del bosque en las que se eliminó la hojarasca no crecieron tan bien con el tiempo. Foto por Emma Sayer, Universidad de Ulm.

 

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Fawzi & Franck, Low level blasts and traumatic brain injuries

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A shell shocked soldier in France in World War I. National_Museum_of_Health_and_Medicine photo.
A World War I soldier in France, suffering from a type of traumatic brain injury then commonly referred to as “shell shock.” US National Museum of Health and Medicine photo.

Low-level blasts from heavy weapons can cause traumatic brain injury:
two engineers explain the physics of invisible cell death

by Alice Lux Fawzi, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Christian Franck, University of Wisconsin-Madison

When the force of a blast shoots a round out of a large-caliber rifle, howitzer or M1 Abrams tank gun, the teams of people operating these weapons are exposed to low-level blasts that can cause traumatic brain injuries.

Low-level blasts do not cause visible trauma, such as bleeding from ruptured eardrums, and they don’t cause injury through violent head motion, such as a concussion. Yet, these blasts can cause physical changes in the brain that lead to a host of neuropsychiatric symptoms.

The link between the force of a blast and the resulting changes in the brain is not completely understood. So our team of engineers and scientists in the PANTHER program, funded by the Department of Defense, is using physics to elucidate how blasts cause traumatic brain injury.

What is a blast?

When a weapon like a rifle is fired, the round is initially in its barrel. Pulling the trigger engages a primer that produces a flame, igniting the propellant. This chemical reaction releases stored energy and creates high-pressure, rapidly expanding gas. This is the blast.

The rate and magnitude of gas expansion are often so extreme that they create a shock wave, where high-pressure air molecules travel outward faster than the speed of sound. This invisible pulse of high pressure carries a tremendous amount of energy. It’s the same force that can propel a 24-pound warhead out of the muzzle of a howitzer to hit a target 19 miles (30.6 kilometers) away.

Cross-section of a cartridgeThis cross-section shows: 1. bullet; 2. case; 3. gunpowder; 4. rim; and 5. primer. Glrx/Quadrell via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Linking blast to brain injury

As blast pressure enters the brain, it is initially compressive, meaning it squeezes the tissue equally from all sides. Because brain tissue is largely composed of water molecules, which are difficult to compress, this type of pressure tends to cause little known harm to cells.

An initially compressive wave, or positive pressure wave, that squeezes brain tissue changes when it bounces off the inside of the skull. It is reflected as a tensile wave, or negative pressure wave, which tends to pull brain tissue apart. With low enough pressures, micron-sized bubbles can form in a process called cavitation. These bubbles can grow 10 to 50 times their initial size over the course of less than a tenth of a millisecond, rapidly stretching the adjacent brain tissue.

Experiments from our lab have shown that the deformation caused by cavitation bubbles happens so rapidly – like the speed of a bullet – that cells tend to get torn apart. The extreme speed of stretching and squeezing causes nearby brain cells to die immediately. Afterward, we see only fragments where healthy cells used to be.

Diagram showing blast pressure creating microbubbles in the brain after reflecting off surfaces, stretching and destroying cells in a process called cavitation.This diagram depicts how blast pressure from a gun can result in brain trauma. Alice Lux Fawzi and Manik Bansal, CC BY-NC-ND

Cell death is the physical root cause of brain injury. In the lab, when the cells that make up brain tissue are deformed at a magnitude and rate beyond what they can withstand, they die – either immediately, as in the case of blast-induced cavitation, or slowly over six to 24 hours, as in most brain injuries from blunt impacts such as concussions.

In low-level blast exposure, the cavitation bubbles are very small, and the trauma is contained to the small area around them. However, repeated exposure to blasts can lead to an accumulation of these microtraumas, eventually reaching a volume large enough to cause significant and irreversible neurological symptoms.

Although evidence is mounting, it has yet to be fully proven that cavitation directly causes blast-induced traumatic brain injury. The hypothesis fits with post-mortem analyses of the brains of service members with a history of blast exposure. It also fits with the physics that link blast exposure to injury from tissue deformation.

Understanding the connection between blasts and cellular damage in the brain will help researchers develop better ways to protect against repetitive blast-induced traumatic brain injury.The Conversation

Alice Lux Fawzi, PANTHER Engineering Project Manager and Associate Director of the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Christian Franck, Bjorn Borgen Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

 

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Ashton, How plants sense seasons

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mango flowers
Mango flowers. Wikimedia photo by Sridhar Rao.

Plants flower ever earlier: here’s how they sense the seasons

by Paul Ashton, Edge Hill University

Hedgerows in mid-February might have traditionally appeared white with snow; this year the white was the work of blackthorn blossoms – a harbinger of spring. Although a welcome sign after a wet and gloomy winter, the early flowering brings unease for experienced season watchers. Has this plant always flowered in mid-February, I wondered, or is something changing?

Fortunately, the science of recording and understanding seasonal events, phenology, has a long history in Britain. Robert Marsham, an 18th-century naturalist, kept records of the appearance of the flowers, birds and insects in his Norfolk village as far back as 1736. Marsham’s descendants continued the recording until 1958. The Woodland Trust maintains the tradition with Nature’s Calendar, a scheme in which members of the public are invited to record various seasonal events.

Detailed analysis of almost half a million plant records by scientists in 2022 showed that when all species were considered together the average flowering time in the UK had advanced by a month over the last 40 years. There was variation between species. Hawthorn, the common hedgerow plant, is generally flowering 13 days earlier than it did in the early 1980s while the flowers of the horse chestnut tree appear ten days earlier.

The climate has warmed rapidly since the 1980s. By flowering earlier, plants recognise that winters are becoming shorter and milder. They sense the days getting warmer and alter their spring development in a manner akin to humans feeling warmth on their skin and so stepping out with fewer layers of clothing. The precise mechanisms for detecting these cues differ between plants and animals, but both are responding to the climate as it changes.

Detecting light and heat without eyes and skin

Plants detect the shortening days of autumn with a pigment called phytochrome that is particularly sensitive to wavelengths in the red region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The longer autumn nights alter the quality of this red light. While this subtle shift escapes humans (our eyes are not sensitive to this part of the spectrum) a plant can detect this transition and start to change.

A bench next to a woodland at sunset.
Plants detect subtle changes in red light and instigate dormancy as autumn descends.
Art180/Shutterstock

Just as the autumn can engineer a drop in the level of the hormone serotonin in our blood, a plant that has sensed winter’s approach will increase the production of a hormone called abscisic acid. This has multiple effects. In deciduous trees, twigs stop growing and develop tough winter buds capable of surviving frost and snow and leaves fall off.

Growth in spring is determined by similar triggers of light length and temperature, but temperature typically has the more significant role. If plants only paid attention to light, they’d run the risk of starting growth when fatal frosts are still a threat or of missing good growing time in mild early spring days. Temperature detection determines when spring flowers appear. This is why global heating is evident in the earlier appearance of these flowers.


Do the seasons feel increasingly weird to you? You’re not alone. Climate change is distorting nature’s calendar, causing plants to flower early and animals to emerge at the wrong time.
This article is part of a series, Wild Seasons, on how the seasons are changing – and what they may eventually look like.

It isn’t fully understood how plants detect temperature. Some of it may be due to a growth-stalling hormone in its cells breaking down when the air falls below a certain temperature, which in turn allows a growth hormone to increase.

While humans have nerves in their skin to detect temperature, plants probably rely on pigments, though the mechanism isn’t fully understood. Heat is part of the same electromagnetic spectrum that phytochrome is sensitive to, so possibly this pigment is involved. Whatever mechanisms are responsible for initiating growth, temperature also determines how fast plants grow.

Flowers and pollinators out of sync

Insect pollinators like bees must synchronize their life cycles so that they are on the wing when the blossoms on which they feed emerge. The timing of their emergence from winter is also determined by the effects of temperature and day length and mediated by hormones.

Evolution working on many generations of pollinators has generated a tight link between the emergence of flowers and that of their pollinators. If the appearance of flowers and pollinators isn’t synchronized, the insects have no nectar and the plants aren’t fertilized.

A similar link exists between the emergence of leaves and the insect herbivores that graze on them. The rapidity of climate change and slight differences in how the two groups respond risk breaking this synchrony with serious consequences for both sides.

A large study by German scientists looking at when flowers and their pollinators emerged between 1980 and 2020 found a complex picture. Both responded to climate change with earlier flowering and appearances, but the plants had made a greater shift.

There was variation between insect groups, bees and butterflies had shifted in synchrony with the plants, but this wasn’t observed in hoverflies. There was also variation between species of these insects.

A white butterfly on a purple flower.
Plants and insects co-evolved to emerge at roughly the same time in Spring.
Marek Mierzejewski/Shutterstock

Even when plants and their dependent insects change timings in synchrony, the next stage of the food chain may not be so flexible. Oak leaves are fed upon by the oak moth caterpillar. This, in turn, is the primary food of the chicks of birds such as blue tits and pied flycatchers. Chicks have hatched at roughly the same time, while oak leaves and caterpillars have appeared earlier and so far remain in synchrony. But for how long?

Blackthorn blossoms remain a welcome relief from winter and a sign that spring is on its way. But they are also a sign of climate change: an unfolding experiment on the timing and synchrony of plants and animals – and the intricate food chains of which they are part.The Conversation

Paul Ashton, Head of Biology, Edge Hill University

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

 

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¿Wappin? Getting through a rough spot / Superando una situación difícil

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Tuurber
James Thurber’s The Last Flower – La última flor de James Thurber (1939)

Somehow… / De alguna manera…

Jason Gould – World Gone Crazy
https://youtu.be/y2zgaWLDGSU?si=61cKjEwtGs1CWLBC

Rihanna – Live on the American Music Awards
https://youtu.be/3jcuIdyuX_M?si=LXHTSP3FgnMgSItm

Karla Lamboglia & Billy Herron – Tierra Nueva
https://youtu.be/fPgavDLCI2c?si=Bi6q773c-nTHOcDc

Shakira – Acróstico
https://youtu.be/ETPGTAyc68M?si=6tANBooqtnjic_QX

Rosalía – Alfonsina y El Mar
https://youtu.be/M2IENfMyaWc?si=iBdpLoYLpys_Ekj-

Natalie Merchant & Abena Koomson-Davis – Come On, Aphrodite
https://youtu.be/_roE1N7Urio?si=3D9tPZDaop-DN30F

Aventura & Don Omar – Ella y Yo
https://youtu.be/TAD8zRN3ijs?si=all6qHyCI2cE7SOW

Rómulo Castro y Grupo Tuira — ¡Omar Vive!
https://youtu.be/N_OGGPQKhSk?si=V-DSExy6cheQ5Wh-

Joss Stone – Jools Annual Hootenanny 2023-2024
https://youtu.be/sQaoZC8ZQKI?si=BsqP5FDXVNtzhSOF

Mark Knopfler – Watch Me Gone
https://youtu.be/cRF1w0yOheo?si=41Jr1VvL6l8LiCj7

Jhonathan Chávez y Los Triunfadores – Momentos de magia
https://youtu.be/atM1MTJubIA?si=A1qeRKE1zlwygazt

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GLAAD & some 350 other groups, Justice for Nex Benedict

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Nex
Sixteen-year-old Nex Benedict, whose mother is a tribal citizen of the Choctaw Nation, died on February 8 after an altercation in a girl’s bathroom at an Owasso, Oklahoma high school. Before and after, state and local officials seemed to approve of this sort of crime. Photo from Nex Benedict’s Facebook page. 

Justice for Nex Benedict:
Letter to the Oklahoma Legislature

Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Charles McCall
President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, Greg Treat
Senate Minority Leader, Kay Floyd
House Minority Leader, Cyndi Munson
Senate Education Committee Chair, Adam Pugh
House Education Committee Chair, Rhonda Baker

Oklahoma State Legislature
2300 N Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Subject: Request to Investigate Oklahoma Department of Education and Remove State Superintendent Ryan Walters

Our community has experienced a terrible loss. On February 7, Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old 2STGNC+ (Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender non-conforming+) student of Choctaw descent, was brutally assaulted in the bathroom at Owasso High School and died the next day. Nex’s death comes at a time when politicians from around the country–including Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction–have pushed forward a record number of anti-2SLGBTQI+ (Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) bills and policies which disproportionately target and impact transgender, nonbinary, and gender expansive youth.

The undersigned organizations call on the Oklahoma Legislature to immediately remove Ryan Walters from his position as Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction and to begin an investigation into the Oklahoma Department of Education to determine what actions and policies have led to a culture where rampant harassment of 2SLGBTQI+ students has been allowed to go unchecked.

Superintendent Ryan Walters is responsible for fostering a culture of violence and hate against the 2SLGBTQI+ community in Oklahoma schools. Just a month ago, he passed an emergency rule to prevent an Oklahoma teen who was fearful of being bullied from changing his gender on school files.3 He called for the firing of a principal who performed in drag on weekends, which led to violent threats against the educator.

Walters also empowered other anti-2SLGBTQI+ extremists to have power over Oklahoma schools. In 2022, Chaya Raichik, the creator of the extremist anti-LGBTQ social media account “Libs of TikTok,” targeted a teacher at Nex’s school for their support of 2SLGTBQI+ students; this teacher later resigned. Last year, Raichik posted a video attacking an Oklahoma school librarian who supports 2SLGBTQI+ students, resulting in six days of bomb threats against the school.6 Instead of standing up for the students and educators in Oklahoma, Walters uplifted the post about the librarian and appointed Raichik to the state’s library board, despite her not living in Oklahoma and having no credentials for the position. Superintendent Walters’ reprehensible conduct shows a willful rejection of his duty to protect the health and welfare of the children in Oklahoma’s public schools and instead has created an environment that allows for hostility and harm for youth like Nex.

In the weeks following Nex’s death, numerous youths have come forward to detail the rampant harassment of Oklahoma’s 2SLGBTQI+ students by peers, teachers, and administrators. We are outraged that a climate of hate and bigotry has been not only allowed to thrive, but encouraged by the person who is responsible for education in the state of Oklahoma. State officials must be held accountable for bringing the politics of hate into Oklahoma’s schools and making our most vulnerable youth pay the price.

Nex’s life demands justice. All students, including all Two-Spirit, gender non-conforming, transgender, and non-binary students like Nex, have the right to feel safe and protected while attending school. Indigenous peoples, such as Nex, are subjected to brutal violence of this sort due in part to the continued occupation of their lands, the devaluation of our youth, in addition to being gender and sexual minorities (2SLGBTQI+). This brutality is connected to the missing and murdered Indigenous persons (MMIP) crisis and reflective of the elevated murder rates of Indigenous peoples.

We urge you to protect the students of Oklahoma and immediately correct course by impeaching and removing Superintendent Walters and investigating the impact of Walters’ policies and rhetoric on Oklahoma students and schools. It is imperative that all students in the state are supported.

Sincerely,

National Organizations:

Advocates for Youth
AFT
Agape MCC
American Association of School Librarians
American Atheists
American Humanist Association
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Arab American Institute
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Athlete Ally
Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Center for American Progress
Center for Freethought Equality
CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers
Coalition for Responsible Home Education
COLAGE
Defense of Democracy
EducateUS
Envision:You
Equality Federation
Family Equality
FFRF Action Fund
FORGE, Inc.
Gender Justice League
GLAAD
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality
GLSEN
GSA Network
Health Justice Commons
Human Rights Campaign
I Am Human Foundation
Interfaith Alliance
It Gets Better
Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
Knit the Rainbow, Inc.
Lambda Legal
Matthew Shepard Foundation
MomsRising
Movement Advancement Project
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE)
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Education Association
National Harm Reduction Coalition
National LGBT Cancer Network
National LGBTQ Task Force
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Trans Bar Association
National Women’s Law Center
Our Schools USA
PFLAG National
Plume Health
Positive Women’s Network-USA
Project HEAL
Public Justice
QFPP
Queer Equity Institute
Rainbow Youth Project USA
Sam & Devorah Foundation for Trans Youth
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Shakina Inc.
SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change
State Innovation Exchange (SIX)
The Advocacy Institute
The Center for Constitutional Rights
The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP)
The Sikh Coalition
The Trevor Project
The Unitarian Universalist Association
Trans Formations Project
TransFamiy Support Services
Transgender Law Center
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)
True Colors United
UFCW OUTreach
UltraViolet
Unity Fellowship Church Movement

Organizations based in or serving Oklahoma:

Burning Cedar Sovereign Wellness
Campaign for Southern Equality
Church of the Open Arms & Cathedral of Hope OKC
Community Cares by Trust Women
Cousins
Hammond & Associates, PLLC
Diversity Center of Oklahoma
Diversity Family Health
End HIV Oklahoma
First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City
Foundation for Liberating Minds
Freedom Oklahoma
Hopkins Law and Associates, P.C.
Let’s Fix This
Lumina: Queer Student Alliance
Matriarch
Metriarch®
Mingalar Myanmar Alliance, Inc.
National Lawyers Guild, Oklahoma Chapter
OKC Democratic Socialists of America
OKC DSA Queer
Oklahoma Action Chorus
Oklahoma City Pride
Oklahoma Faith Network
Oklahoma Pride Alliance
Oklahomans for Equality
Open Arm Photography & Art
OUHSC Black Student Association
PFLAG Enid OK
PFLAG Norman
PFLAG OKC
PFLAG Stillwater
PFLAG Tulsa
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes
Rural Oklahoma Pride
SOJOURN: Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender & Sexual Diversity
Stand For the Silent
Starbucks Workers United OKC
TahlEquality
The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Inc.
Trans Advocacy Coalition of Oklahoma
Trust Women Foundation
Tulsa Infectious Disease & AIDS League (TIDAL)

State and local organizations outside of Oklahoma:

Affirmations Community Center
AIM IT; WI
All Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist
All Rainbow and Allied Youth
All Under One Roof LGBTQ ADVOCATES of Southeastern Idaho
Alliance for Full Acceptance
API Equality-LA
APLA Health
Arkansas Black Gay Men’s Forum
Bellingham Queer Collective
Big Sky High School Gender Sexuality Alliance
Black Pride NOLA
Borderland Rainbow Center
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
CAMP Rehoboth, Inc.
Center for Immigrant Protection
Charlotte Trans Health
CoastPride
Communication Madison
Diverse & Resilient
Diversity Alliance of the Puget Sound
Diversity Collective
Diversity Collective Ventura County
Eastern PA Trans Equity Project
Edge New Jersey
El/La Para TransLatinas
Embrace United Church of Christ
EmpowerMT
Equality Arizona
Equality California
Equality Connecticut
Equality Delaware
Equality Nevada
Equality New Mexico
Equality New York
Equality North Carolina
Equality Ohio
Equality South Dakota
Equality Texas
Equality Virginia
Fair Wisconsin
Fairness Campaign
FAIRNY
Faith Commons
Family Voices NJ
First Unitarian Church of Dallas
Flamingo Democrats
Fortaleza Familiar
Four Corners Rainbow Youth Center
Freedom, Inc.
FreeState Justice
Galileo Christian Church
Garden State Equality
Gender Justice (Minnesota and North Dakota)
Gender Justice LA
GenderNexus
Georgia Equality
Georgia Safe Schools Coalition
GLYS Western New York
GMHC
Grand Rapids Trans Foundation
GSAFE
Guilford Green Foundation & LGBTQ Center
GVSU YDSA/SDS
Hawai‘i LGBT Legacy Foundation
He She Ze and We
Henderson Equality Center
Hetrick-Martin Institute
Hudson Pride Center
Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center
Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation
Identity Inc.
Immune Boosters
inclusion tennessee
Inside Out Youth Services
Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition
LGBT Center of Greater Reading
LGBT Center of Raleigh
LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin
LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland
LGBT Community Center of Long Island, Inc.
LGBT Community Network
LGBTQ Center OC
LGBTQ Community Organizer GV
Live Out Loud
Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, Inc. (LIGALY)
Long Island SAGE
Los Angeles Bi+ Task Force
Los Angeles LGBT Center
Louisiana Trans Advocates
Louisville Youth Group
Madison Anarcha Collective
MaineTransNet
Mainline
Makom Shelanu Congregation
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
MassEquality
Mazzoni Center
Middle Tennessee Democratic Socialists of America
Middleton Hills Trans Anarchist Collective
Monterey Peninsula Pride
Montgomery Pride United/ Bayard Rustin Community Center
Mountain Pride
Muncie OUTreach LGBTQ+ Center
Naper Pride
National Council of Jewish Women Texas
New Bern Pride
New Haven Pride Center
North County LGBTQ Resource Center
North Dakota Human Rights Coalition
North Shore Alliance of GLBTQ+ Youth (NAGLY)
Northwest Arkansas Equality, Inc.
NoVA Prism Center
NY LGBT Network
Ogden Pride
One Colorado
One Iowa
one-n-ten
Openhouse
Out Boulder County
Out in the Open
OUT MetroWest
Out On The Lakeshore
Out Professional Engagement Network
OutCenter Southwest Michigan
OutFront Kalamazoo
OutFront Minnesota
OUTMemphis
OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center
Pacific Center for Human Growth
Pacific Pride Foundation
PEAK Parent Center
PFLAG FW
PFLAG Mount Horeb Chapter
Pittsburgh Equality Center
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin
Positive Images
Pride at Work AFL-CIO Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter
Pride Center of Terre Haute Inc.
Pride Community Center, Inc
Pride Foundation
Prism United
PROMO Missouri
Public Advocates
QSpace Bismarck, North Dakota
Queermunity
QUEERSPACE collective
Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance
Rainbow Rose Center
Rainbow Seniors ROC, Inc
Red River Rainbow Seniors
Red River Unitarian Universalist Church – Denison
Resource Center
Ricky’s Pride
Rochester Rainbow Union
Sacramento LGBT Community Center
San Diego Pride
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
San Gabriel Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Seattle’s LGBTQ Center
Shenandoah LGBTQ Center
Shoals Diversity Center
Silver State Equality-Nevada
Sincecombahee Educational Consulting
SMYAL
Social Action Council, First UU Church of Austin
Solano Pride Center
SQSH (St. Louis Queer+ Support & Healing)
St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church
St. Vrain Safe Schools Coalition
Still Bisexual
Stonewall Columbus, Inc
Sussex Pride
Tennessee Equality Project
Texas Freedom Network
Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry
The California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network
The Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity
The Center on Colfax, Denver
The Center Project
The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
The LGBT Center, NYC
The LGBTQ Center (South Bend, IN)
The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert
The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center
The Parents’ Place of MD
The Pride Center at Equality Park
The San Diego LGBT Community Center
The Source LGBT+ Center
Therapy Center of Philadelphia
Trans Advocacy Madison
Trans Maryland
Trans Resistance Action Committee
Transformation Project
Transformation Project Advocacy Network
Transgender Awareness Alliance
Transinclusive Group
TransOhio
TransSOCIAL, Inc.
Triangle Community Center
Tzedek Georgia
U.D.T.J.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Oakcliff
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hidalgo County Texas
University Church
Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance (UGLA)
Veterans and Military Alliance
Washington County Gay Straight Alliance, Inc.
Waves Ahead Corp
We Are Family
Westside Unitarian Universalist Church
William Way LGBT Community Center
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Wisconsin Public Education Network
Wyoming Equality
Youth Outlook
Youth OUTright WNC Inc
Youth Pride, Inc.
YouthSeen

Partial list of notable public figures:

Kristin Chenoweth
Demi Lovato
Cynthia Nixon
k.d. lang
Jonathan Van Ness
Amy Schneider
Peppermint
ALOK
Emma Roberts
Tommy Dorfman

 

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Rosenthal, Michigan Democrats’ message for Biden

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warning to Joe
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed – “The Egyptian Prescription” – is the son of immigrants, was the valedictorian at the University of Michigan, served as Detroit’s public health director and then ran for governor of Michigan but lost in the Democratic primary to Gretchen Whitmer, who went on to become governor. He’s now the director of health for Wayne County and is looked up to as a leader in the state’s large Arab-American community and among progressive Democrats. If Biden loses Michigan, as Hillary Clinton lost it to Trump in 2016, his path to electoral victory becomes exceedingly difficult. But it’s not too late to turn things around. Human lives, and very possibly his reelection, depend on it.

Michigan’s primary must be a wake-up call for Biden on Gaza

by Sam Rosenthal – Common Dreams

Up until Tuesday’s presidential primary in Michigan, President Joe Biden has met little electoral resistance as he rolls towards renomination as the Democrats’ candidate for president. This is partly to do with Biden-friendly changes the Democratic National Committee made in this year’s primary calendar, but also reflects an unwillingness by members of Biden’s own party to attempt to question his renomination, even amidst ominous signs for Biden’s reelection.

That may have changed Tuesday night after a grassroots movement encouraging voters to cast an “uncommitted” ballot in Michigan’s presidential primary startled Biden and his team. The campaign to vote uncommitted, dubbed “Listen to Michigan,” had asked voters to voice their displeasure with Biden’s support for the ongoing carnage in Gaza by voting uncommitted. After months of downplaying the extent of the discontent among rank-and-file Democratic voters over Biden’s obeisance towards Israel’s murderous campaign in Gaza, the president and his team will be hard pressed to ignore this protest vote. And, the stunning erosion of support among constituencies that ardently supported Biden in this critical swing state in 2020 should renew calls for the Democratic Party to take a hard look at the viability of Biden’s candidacy.

With 98.5% of the vote counted, the 100,960 votes cast “uncommitted” in Tuesday’s primary far outstrip the 10,704 votes by which Donald Trump won the state in 2016, and come within striking distance of the total margin that Biden ran up against Trump in 2020. That election saw record-high turnout across the U.S., as progressives, people of color, and young people turned out in droves to unseat Trump. Most prognosticators agree that we are unlikely to see that level of voting this year.

If even a significant percentage of the primary electorate that voted uncommitted in Michigan either does not vote, votes third party, or, God forbid, chooses Trump over Biden in November, then Biden will surely lose the state. If Biden loses Michigan, as Hillary Clinton lost it to Trump in 2016, his path to electoral victory becomes exceedingly difficult. In that scenario, he would probably have to take four of five remaining swing states: Arizona (where he currently trails in polling by about three points); Georgia (he is behind there by an average of seven points); Nevada (Biden trails by seven points there, too); Pennsylvania (where Trump clings to a one-point margin); and Wisconsin (where Biden is behind by two points). This is not to say that the task is impossible — many of these differentials are within the margin of polling error — but, taken together, the calculus for Biden looks incredibly grim.

Simply put, Biden needs to come up with votes, and quickly, at a time when he only seems to be capable of losing them. His administration’s unflinching support for Israel’s scorched earth campaign in Gaza has alienated core constituencies that Biden needed to win in 2020. Despite that, Biden and company appear paralyzed by an inability to abandon Democratic Party orthodoxy around its support for Israel and adopt a more even-handed policy. The administration is incapable of even allowing the UN to pass an overwhelmingly popular ceasefire resolution.

“We cannot win Michigan with status quo policy,” four-term Democrat congressman Ro Khanna said after meeting with students, Arab-Americans, and progressive voters in Michigan last week. “Every day that goes by where we’re seeing the bombing of women and children on social media or cable news is not a good day for our party,” he told the New York Times. A change in policy is needed within “a matter of weeks, not months.” he added.

Filmmaker and Michigan native Michael Moore agreed that Biden’s stance on the ongoing slaughter in Gaza could easily cost him the state, and in turn, the entire election. In a recent interview with CNN’s Abby Phillip, Moore said “I’ve been saying this month that he’s going to cost himself the election. …If Trump has any chance, it’s the decision that [Biden’s] made to embrace slaughter, carpet bombing, babies in incubators dead because they cut off the electricity, on and on and on.”

In vain, Team Biden seems focused on “moderate” voters to shore up his electoral deficiencies. We have seen this playbook before: in 2016, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pursued presumably disaffected Republican voters, assuming that progressive activists inside the Democratic Party would eventually support her in the general election. This led the campaign to ignore Democratic core constituencies like union members, community-based organizations, and college campuses in swing states and instead campaign far afield in states that were not realistically within reach. The Clinton campaign also failed to create a coherent policy message, choosing instead to focus on Trump’s invective as the counterpoint to Clinton’s business-as-usual approach.

Biden clearly intends to use the Trump foil as his major argument for re-election, with a bit of center-leaning policy sprinkled in. Unfortunately for Biden, majorities of voters now trust Trump more on issues that appear near the top of the list of what voters say are most important to them in 2024: immigration and the economy. While Biden works to prove his bona fides as a border hawk, alienating immigration activists, voters already believe Trump is vastly more effective than Biden when it comes to issues of border security. With these efforts unlikely to produce enough votes to help Biden win the requisite swing states, the campaign is still displaying an alarming disregard towards the obvious signs of discontent within the Democratic Party.

After Tuesday’s wake-up call, it appears probable that the Democrats have just two remaining paths to victory in 2024: the Biden administration can make a 180-degree turn, join the rest of the UN in opposing Israel’s assault on Gaza, and try their damnedest to broker a lasting peace there. If the administration is incapable of doing that, the Democrats must look for a different candidate for the top of the ticket. Anything else would be political malpractice, and likely to hand Trump the election in November.

 

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News and Editorial, The first debate

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debate
El debate en español / The debate in Spanish

The first presidential debate – substance and style

If substance is your concern, you may want to go to the official Electoral Tribunal video, and turn off the comment track on the above video. Or then again, you may not. It’s mostly Torrijos call center trolls, with some Roux people jumping in to deny the former president a complete monopoly. The tribunal has problems with directly sharing their YouTube feed with small media, so above we link to the Eco TV version.

You may, however, take social media trolling as a substantive issue, or of several troubling matters of public discourse in our times. Vacuous “influencers” and vicious trolls – matters of style, perhaps, except in the many cases over the years when they have been paid for out of public funds. Whatever the source of funding, one side shouting down the others is unhealthy public discourse. Plus we need to notice that, while The Panama News still continues on its website and social media feeds, we do get subjected to various tech company exclusions and shadow bans, which in turn tend to be urged upon them by SOMEBODY. Far more egregiously, as this campaign started the websites of FOCO Panama, Bayano Digital and Radio Temblor went down. Those with the resources of a government or a large corporation or a major political party might have been able to do that. Few others would. And then, the present PRD government and a united local banking industry have joined forces to freeze the funds of the militant SUNTRACS construction workers’ union, in effect limiting their participation in the discussions leading up to the May 5 election.

Powerful forces would shift discussion about what is or is not free about this election season’s discourse – neither Ricardo Martinelli nor his chosen running mate were there. Except that on TVN and Telemetro they were, through paid ads. Does it strike you as terribly unfair that the incarcerated bosses of criminal gangs that prowl the streets of Curundu a few blocks away didn’t get into the Fine Arts Campus dome for the debate? Or maybe you think that a fugitive from a long prison sentence, now holed up in the Nicaraguan Embassy, is owed more slack than a more plebeian crime lord? We can get into a genuine philosophical, hard-nosed political and constitutional law argument about whether it’s proper to disqualify a candidate for a criminal conviction. Perhaps the Northern Irish Troubles would still be an ongoing shooting war were IRA prisoner Bobby Sands, doing 14 years in Long Kesh on an illegal weapons charge, had not been elected to the British Parliament. Save that for another time, if we get to hammering out the details of a new constitution. Martinelli is out, even if several iterations of Martinelismo are on the ballot. It’s just the way it is.

Maribel Gordón, the economics professor, studies from her notes before the debate. Nobody can legitimately call her unprepared, but one insolent caricaturist styled her as a sloth, doing the suggestive body shame and making fun of her slow-spoken style of presentation. From a photo by @Edescarriada, taken from Twitter / X.

Styles

This was a televised event in which style counts for more than substance in many a vidiotic mind. Cartoonists are busy.

You want a fast-talking corporate lawyer, quick with the sharp and twisting barbs, who compared Martín Torrijos’s post-presidential life outside of the limelight to that of a high school dropout who neither works nor studies? That’s Rómulo Roux for you.

You want the screechy demagogue, stuck in that mode for so long that her voice was hoarse during the debate? That was Zulay Rodríquez.

Melitón Arrocha is a minor candidate with an ear for the ironic, who heard the humor when the guy with the goofy smile, Gaby Carrizo, compared the state of public safety in Panama with the situations in France and Canada and made light of it. It probably boosted his low single-digit standing.

Ricardo Lombana came across as a man who is angry about the way things are. In many times, places and political cultures, the flash of anger is a disqualifier with many voters. Those who like or at least accept the status quo will consider it a dangerous mindset. But this was a day after three people were slain in an attempted robbery of a government lottery agency, with the vice president making absurd comparisons about our crime situation here. This is an election campaign in the shadow of a public uprising in part sparked by an extortion threat of retirees not getting their pensions if an unconstitutional mining colony contract did not get upheld. It may just be that Panama is in an angry mood and that Lombana fits in with that.

Calm, slow-talking, well thought out, getting to the roots of things with conclusions that will be alarming to those with certain vested interests? That’s Maribel Gordón, the radical professor for president.

lawyer puncture
A fellow lawyer’s response to Gaby Carrizo’s debate performance.

Substance

The largest of the elephants in the room is perhaps for another debate. Panama is deeply in debt and the resources to make good on whatever major campaign promise are unlikely to be there unless something else is to be sacrificed, ultimately at somebody’s expense. View the recycled old promises in that light. The corporate mainstream media may tend to cast that genre of campaign talk in “We’ve heard THAT before” incredulity, but they tend not to bring up the matter of the national public debt. Wouldn’t want to shock the shareholders with data that leads to a conclusion that they might actually have to pay some more taxes.

Also in the invisible elephant herd is a public disconnection with old road maps, agreements, reports or sets of data. People are not ready to believe. Explain the essence and some might be convinced, but make the point by reference and it goes in one ear and out the other. The “I know something that you don’t know” pitch has long ago lost its mystique.

On the first specific issue of the night, public safety? GENERALLY the candidates were talking more cops on the street, more people in prison, more distractions for bored adolescent boys who would otherwise be getting into trouble. With funds from where they mostly didn’t say.

There were some salient deviations, though:

  • Independent Melitón Arrocha called attention to abominable prison conditions, which tend to be ignored by people who have been indoctrinated with this “lock them up and throw away the key” thinking.
  • Martín Torrijos mentioned that white collar criminals also need to be suppressed – which may not sit well with Zulay Rodríguez, who is resigning from her seat in the National Assembly so as to prolong the process of a criminal investigation against her for supposedly stealing from one of her law practice clients.
  • Gaby Carrizo mentioned domestic violence, but put it entirely in the context of being a “women’s issue” rather than a mostly male disorder that gets passed down from generation to generation of learned behavior.
  • Maribel Gordón called out the miserable unreality of all the old proffered solutions: “The solution is not to turn Panama into a prison. We are the third country with the largest population in prisons in Latin America as a percentage of the population. We double the number of police officers per person compared to developed countries.” The economist added that “communities were abandoned because public safety was turned into a business. We propose to build peace through prevention.”

On the subject of sustainable development, most of the candidates promised this or that water project, some of them paid homage to the trees and wetlands in general and Carrizo made reference to the dump at Cerro Patacon, a problem that the administration in which he serves has not really addressed. It was left to Gordón to raise the subject of the copper mine, of which she was an outspoken opponent.

When the subject of the Social Security Fund came up, Lombana brought up the ill fated mining colony proposal: “You don’t need a mine to guarantee decent retirement pensions.” Which put him at odds with stands taken during last year’s strike by vice president and mining exec’s son Gaby Carrizo. Martín Torrijos boasted of his experience with the changes to the fund during his administration. He should have shut up about that. Melitón Arrocha was even worse, claiming that the fund’s problems can’t be solved. Gordón, Lombana and Rodríguez all called for a return to some sort of solidary system rather that one of individual accounts.

Education? Another junior elephant wandering the room, out of sight, was the 2022 teachers’ strike over many of their members being months behind in being paid, and after that strike was sort of settled, the problem returned and the teachers walked out again last year. It looms worse for Carrizo, as his daughter’s father-in-law was the terrorist who gunned down a teachers’ union activist and a teacher’s husband on the highway in Chame.

There were all the usual promises and analyses, one point made by Zulay being that we really ought to have longer school days. (Just because she gamed the system to get a government subsidy for her daughter’s college education in the USA doesn’t make her wrong about everything educational.) Roux referred to old documents and new plans of his, which surely flew over many people’s heads. “30 years of dialogue and we are worse,” Lombana complained, blaming much of the problem on political patronage within the Ministry of Education. Gordón complained that notwithstanding any talks, education is for markets rather than improving the knowledge and skills of all who study here. Going after Gaby Carrizo and the PRD in general, she said that “Your government crashed the star of education.”

And so it went, from the banal to the profound. There will be more such events. Imperfect as they may be, better than selling votes for bags of groceries.

Panamanians have choices in these difficult times. Let’s hope for informed and wise ones.

 

The Way
Lao Tzu (Laozi) statue in Quanzhou. Photo by kattebelletje.

To have little is to possess.
To have plenty is to be perplexed.

Lao Tzu

Bear in mind…

The farther behind I leave the past, the closer I am to forging my own character.

Isabelle Eberhardt

Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

James Joyce

I give myself, sometimes, admirable advice, but I am incapable of taking it.

Mary Montagu

 

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Did you know Carlos Fields? Are you related?

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Carlos Fields
This is not a paid legal notice. It’s a favor to friends and family of a Panamanian fashion designer who died in New York a couple of years ago, and whose estate has been frozen in a New York court pending notification of his family, much of which is in Panama. He last visited here about six years ago. You may want to contact the Surrogate Court in New York City if you have questions about the estate or this case.
 

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