Editorials: Space is the place; and Ditch the Saudis

A new twist on a former colonial relationship: India launches two British satellites into space. Photo by the Satish Dhawan Space Center.

Space is the place – for Pamama

Once upon a time, the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union were the only gateways to space, and they were hideously expensive. But technology marched on, the Soviet Union in part collapsed because it could not handle the changes and the official US and Russian space agencies have more or less priced themselves out of the market with the rise of all manner of private participants and a bunch of new state competitors. Earlier this year India launched 100 satellites in one rocket. With more powerful microprocessing chips, smaller and cheaper satellites are doing things previously not thought practical

And will Panama look to the gringos to meet all of our needs, or now to the chinos? Will any adaptation to new realities require us to give the illustrious families and venal political hacks so many cuts of the action so that there is nothing left?

Our needs? What is it if a couple of Dutchwomen die in one of our national parks because there is no cell phone connection? What is it if kids in our indigenous comarcas and other remote areas have their educations hindered by lack of Internet access? What is it if Panama’s maritime security needs are subordinated to the failed US “War on Drugs” when we need to take our own law enforcement looks at what is going on in our waters? And what do we do to advance our own culture and make our own selections of other nations’ work when the US cultural imports to which Panama has become accustomed have degenerated to “reality” trash like Donald Trump, Kanye West and the Kardashians? In a word, it’s about “underdevelopment.” We pay dearly for such underdevelopment. There are space-based routes around that stuff in the direction of more complete national independence.

Panama, probably on some matters in cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean neighbors, should deploy its own fleet of satellites. Moreover, because the Earth’s faster spin there means that launches from the Equator need less fuel to get spacecraft into higher orbits and companies have thus been experimenting with sea launches from Pacific international waters west of the Galapagos, isn’t Panama in a better position to be a support base for those than Long Beach, California, which now plays that role? At least, we would be in a better position were we to expand and adapt the airport at Howard and the nearby seaport at Vacamonte for that purpose.


The late journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo by The Project on Middle East Democracy.

Cut off the Saudi jihad

Now the House of ibn Saud has tortured a journalist to death. Jamal Khashoggi was a US resident and wrote for The Washington Post. Donald Trump outdid himself in condoning the crime by inventing a truly weird conspiracy theory at odds with all semblance of reality.

The truth is that the crown prince who has visited war crimes upon Syria and Yemen didn’t like what Mr. Khashoggi was writing, so lured him to a Saudi consulate in Turkey to pick up a copy of a divorce document, and there took him into custody and tortured him to death. Much of it was captured by the dead man’s Apple watch and preserved as proof on the Internet cloud.

Donald Trump and a number of other rich Americans are in hock to the Saudis. The arms industry does a brisk business selling tools for the Sunni Islamic jihad, which they, the present government of Israel and the usual vicious hawks for whom any war will do are hoping will now be expanded to a war with Iran.

Are many Americans upset about Russian meddling in US affairs? Reasonable enough under the circumstances, but Vladimir Putin isn’t the only player in that. Saudi Arabia and its close ally the United Arab Emirates have been big customers for US politicians and power brokers eager to sell access and influence.

The American people have nothing to gain from this relationship. The Republicans sell this rhetoric about “originalism,” but staying out of foreign wars, particularly foreign holy wars, was bedrock principle for the founders of the American republic. American tradition and common sense tell us to let the Saudis swim or sink alone, toward a fate unlinked to ours.



Bear in mind…


The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white, male citizens. As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers — a great pity, on both counts. It is not too late to complete the work they left undone. Today, here, we should start to do so.
Shirley Chisholm


The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.
Thomas Jefferson


It is not enough to profess faith in the democratic process; we must do something about it.
Ella T. Grasso


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