Editorials: National unity government? and Artificial but of doubtful intelligence

Martinelli is a guy who has been convicted of laundering more than $70 million in stolen public funds to buy himself a newspaper chain. Graphic from Mulino’s Twitter / X account.

National unity?

The same families as usual, salted with some of the usual party bosses without the faux aristocratic surnames? The welcome mat out for the business groups and goons at the door to keep out the left and those who don’t dress expensively enough? An arrangement among parties for which voters overwhelmingly expressed their disdain?

At some point President-elect Mulino might do something that unites the nation but right now a “national unity government” is a bad joke. He does, however, need to reach a set of understandings with most sectors of Panamanian society to govern the country. Even more immediately he needs to establish a working relationship with a legislature that his party does not and will not control.

In the old-style Martinelli fashion that would be a matter of bribery and blackmail to get control over a National Assembly designated after an election in which Mulino got a little more than one-third of the vote and his party won something less than one-quarter of the seats in the legislature. But in 2009 Ricky Martinelli became president with an overwhelming majority.

It’s a different situation now. We have a $50 billion national public debt hanging over us. Panamanians will not be united about how to pay this down.

There are various ways to compromise a deadlocked National Assembly situation that might let us move forward. One of them that Mulino seems to offer, a non-aggression pact by which nobody gets investigated or prosecuted for looting public funds in the lame duck or previous governments, ought to be a nonstarter. But giving one faction of the legislature the National Assembly presidency, another the chair of the budget committee, yet another the chair of the credentials committee, and the selection of a comptroller general whom the entire nation can trust? That sort of national unity won’t get us to agree on what should be done about the Seguro Social pension fund but it might let the government go about most of the mundane tasks or running Panama.




Quite the labor issue, but on the other hand it should boost small media. The boost would be greater but surely there will be monopolistic practices to drive off the media that should grow at the degenerated media’s expense.

So WHEN do we get the first libel case arising from foolish captions on a video, wherein the defendant company blames it on a computer?

As to a public figure the company could plead lack of malice, but opposing counsel might counter by alleging reckless disregard for the truth.

But what about a suspected serial killer whose name gets garbled by unedited artificial intelligence, such that on the caption track another, totally unconnected real person gets named? That’s what I noticed this morning. It can just ruin an “OOOII, The Ripper! Sloice! Chop!” reading experience over morning coffee.

Would we hear the defense that to save money and remain competitive the hedge fund that bought the newspaper or television station HAD TO replace editors and translators and transcribers and fact checkers with AI programs, instead of using such software to assist those who were fired instead?

THEN, while writing this petty gripe, the editor noticed how Meta used AI to garble the thing I wrote up top, to change “now use” to “know us.”

Do the tech companies also do this to songwriters and musicians, to inject perversion into closed captions under songs?


Ann Landers
Ann Landers Way in Chicago. Photo by Lorie Shaull.

     Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.

Ann Landers     

Bear in mind…


     None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.

Ferdinand Foch     


     It’s all right letting yourself go as long as you can let yourself back.

Mick Jagger     

     The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.

Elizabeth Taylor     


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