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A late morning photo stroll around Anton

da boid
What IS that bird? A female, I take it. A tyrant flycatcher? Kind of big for a swallow or a tanager. I was trying to be unobtrusive in getting closer to take her picture while she was on the lamp in the park between the church and city hall when she suddenly jumped to an adjacent tree.

A Tuesday morning with my camera in Anton

by Eric Jackson
Ah! One of the hazards of being a small town bird was following me.

Late on a Tuesday morning with time to kill. School kids on half days — the textbooks that were to be distributed in mid-March are still not done at the printers, it’s the penultimate day of Black Ethnicity Month so some of the kids are in Afro garb but most are in their regular uniforms. Hot and humid again today? Will rain bring us some afternoon relief?

A poinciana tree in bloom, shading both private property and the public right-of-way. Anton is a bit better than some other places around Panama when it comes to urban forestry. These trees are native to Madagascar, but part of Panamanian culture by now.

I’m feeling up to a long walk, as I was not in weeks previous. Part of my stroll is taking mental notes on things that are available, particularly the little private medical clinics. ONE says that it does ultrasound for kidneys — does that mean if I get a kidney stone attack they have a lithotryptor to crush the stone, or just a scanner to confirm or rule out the presence of such an annoyance?

Taking a turn toward the main business street, when I get to the Esquina de Los Aburridos there is a usual assembly of half a dozen or so graying men, but they’re not yet playing dominos or cards. It’s a matter of getting some shade and some quiet socializing.

At the town square, such as it is, there is a lone kid in school uniform pecking at his cell phone in the gazebo, then this bird and cat scene as shown above.

But the representante’s pickup, and the PRD campaign pickup, parked in the church’s lot? Hmmmmm.

On the far side of the town square, the post office. Still a source of government jobs, but the operation needs to be technologically modernized to be very relevant in these modern times. You can still wire and receive money through Correos, though.

Panama still has a weak economy, and did even before COVID hit. I walk by a lot of vacant places, some buildings in ruins, but some empty places that have been more or less preserved and are begging for buyers to come along, renovate and move in. 

Does some hustler tell you about the opportunities to put your money into income properties and become a zillionaire? That person lies. But if provincial town living is your thing, for that there are good prospects in Anton.

THIS fixer-upper bears artwork of the local popular culture, Anton’s odd Toro Guapo tradition.

I take the turn back toward the highway and the place where I get the bus back to the village. No street vendors at the usual spot on this lazy Tuesday morning. I almost bump into a cop — he was texting on his cell phone while walking down the sidewalk, while I was looking about for interesting photos.

The loyal one, standing guard at the bus terminal. However, it’s a slow day and I have no treat to spare.

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Tedros: Significant opportunities but mis- and disinformation

Geneva Assembly
The 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva. WHO photo.

A generational opportunity that we must seize

remarks to close the 2023 World Health Assembly by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Your Excellency Christopher Fearne,

Excellencies Ministers, Heads of Delegation, dear colleagues and friends,

We have come to the end of another long but fruitful World Health Assembly.

I’m sure many of you are tired and are looking forward to going home.

But as you do, spare a thought for delegates at the first World Health Assembly in 1948, which lasted for four weeks. Be grateful.

At the beginning of this Assembly, we took a photo in exactly the same spot that the photo was taken of the first World Health Assembly in 1948. Thank you all for being part of it.

You can be satisfied that you return home having made many significant resolutions, decisions and strategies, on the vast array of issues on which WHO works.

This includes behavioral sciences; best buys for NCDs; diagnostics; disabilities; drowning prevention; emergency, critical and operative care; food micronutrients; indigenous health; infection prevention and control; maternal and child health; medical oxygen; primary health care; refugee and migrant health; rehabilitation; traditional medicine and more.

The approval of the budget for 2024-25, including the 20% increase in assessed contributions, is very encouraging, and the next step in the direction of a stronger and more effective WHO.

We also appreciate your support for the idea of an investment round, and we look forward to working with Member States further to bring that idea to fruition.

Both the increase in assessed contributions and the investment round are historic and a huge milestone. Thank you so much.

Last week’s strategic round tables offered an opportunity to highlight some of the most pressing public health challenges: pandemic preparedness and response; climate change and health; tuberculosis; immunization; the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; and health workforce, which is central to addressing every threat we face.

This week also saw the launch of the final report of the Council on the Economics of Health for All, with several strong recommendations for how we value human and planetary well-being, rather than a crude focus on GDP. I commend the report to you.

The year ahead offers several significant opportunities to make substantial progress on all the issues you have discussed over the past nine days.

In particular, the high-level meetings on universal health coverage, tuberculosis and pandemic preparedness and response at this year’s UN General Assembly are major opportunities to catalyze much-needed political commitment.

Likewise, the continuing negotiations on the pandemic accord and amendments to the International Health Regulations are an unprecedented opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure they are not repeated.

Your challenge as Member States is to negotiate a strong accord for approval just 12 months from now.

This is a generational opportunity that we must seize. We are the generation that lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, so we must be the generation that learns the lessons it taught us, and makes the changes to keep future generations safer.

In particular, we must work hard to counter the mis- and disinformation about the accord that is circulating in many Member States.

We cannot mince words: the idea that this accord will cede authority to WHO is simply fake news. This is an accord by Member States, for Member States, and will be implemented in Member States in accordance with their own laws.


As I said in my remarks at the opening of this Health Assembly nine days ago, the challenges we face are daunting and complex.

They are made harder by the geopolitical context in which we live.

We live in a world of deep divisions, and at times those divisions have been evident at this Health Assembly.

We cannot pretend they don’t exist, but nor can we be paralysed by them.

Where we agree, we must work with full determination and cooperation; and where we disagree, we must continue to work to find common ground.

As we do, we will often find that our disagreements can be overcome and our divisions can be narrowed.

In other words, we will find that health can be a bridge to peace.

I thank Switzerland and Oman for their efforts to put peace on the agenda of this Health Assembly.

The vital connection between health and peace is not a new idea, and nor is it something that lies outside the mandate of WHO.

It has been there since the very beginning, in our Constitution, which says that the health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security, and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.

This is what COVID-19 has taught us: that pathogens have no regard for the lines humans draw on maps, nor for our politics, religions or anything else that we use to divide ourselves from each other.

To pathogens, we are all one, and that’s how we must see ourselves: one people, sharing one planet, working together with one purpose – the highest attainable standard of health for all people.



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Editorials: Democracy, and freedom — perhaps messy but to be defended

on the campaign trail in Curundu
Over the weekend most of the public commentary about Panamanian poliltics centered upon the New Business trial of Ricardo Martinelli. Meanwhile, the Panameñistas were on the campaign trail in Curundu. Photo from Yamy Blandón’s Twitter feed.

Less than a year out, and…

Several of Panama’s parties are engaged in furious primary campaigns, with an eye toward the May 2024 general elections. It’s a political eternity until then, but not so for most of the primary hopefuls.

The vote buyers? They’re urging people to sell out their country, the futures of young people, Panama’s good standing as a sovereign republic in the community of nations.

‘He stole but he got things done?’ Forget the second part. Throw him in jail if he stole.

That still leaves us with some serious questions, discussions, negotiations and balancing acts. Rejecting kleptocracy is a no-brainer but charting a course for a prosperous, dignified and democratic Panama is a more difficult problem.


The show should go on. Photo of Roger Waters by Rodrigo Barquera.

Disgusting Israeli-inspired attack on Roger Waters

The other day in Frankfurt, a gang of racists waving Israeli flags rushed the stage where musician Roger Waters, who rose to fame as a bass player, singer and composer with Pink Floyd, was giving a concert. They did this to support the murder by Israeli soldiers of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the subsequent Israeli police attack on her funeral.

Later, pro-Israel activists filed a bogus criminal complaint against Waters, whose father was killed by the Germans during World War II, accusing him of being a Nazi. It’s part of a concerted campaign, directed at shutting down Waters’s international concert tour. Israeli media threaten to take their ethnic cleanse and cultural silencing to the USA when the tour goes there. In London, one of the more vicious supporters of Labour leader Keir Starmer rose in Parliament to echo claims that Waters is a Nazi, offering zero proof.

Where are the journalists? Where are the musicians and composers? Where are the truly progessive labor and political activists? Roger Waters ought to be defended by both those who agree with his political statements and those who don’t, but especially ought to be defended against racists who advocate the killing of Arabs with impunity.


Dorothy Rothschild Parker, when she was 18.

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

Dorothy Parker

Bear in mind…

We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universes, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.

Charles Darwin

Security is when everything is settled, when nothing can happen to you; security is the denial of life.

Germaine Greer

A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.

Franklin D. Roosevelt


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Garvía Vega, Si Washington incumple con su deuda…

US debt
Foto por Deacons docs/Shutterstock.

El riesgo de impago del gobierno estadounidense atañe a la economía global

por Luis Garvía Vega, Universidad Pontificia Comillas

En Estados Unidos, el Congreso tiene la potestad de fijar la cantidad máxima que el Tesoro estadounidense puede tomar prestado mediante la emisión de deuda pública. Es lo que se conoce como techo de deuda. Actualmente, ese límite es de 31 400 millones de dólares, una cifra que se alcanzó el 19 de enero de 2023. Desde entonces, el Tesoro estadounidense ha recurrido a medidas extraordinarias para continuar cumpliendo sus compromisos financieros sin superar esa cifra.

Janet Yellen, la secretaria del Tesoro estadounidense, ha marcado el 5 de junio como la fecha límite en la que podrán mantenerse estas medidas extraordinarias. Ese día, tendrá que afrontar el vencimiento de 300 000 millones de dólares en letras del Tesoro. Si el congreso y el gobierno estadounidenses no logran alcanzar un acuerdo antes, EEUU no dispondrá de fondos para cumplir con sus obligaciones financieras y, por ende, entrará en situación de impago (default).

¿Qué puede suponer esto?

Los sistemas financieros modernos montan toda su estructura sobre la base del activo libre de riesgo, que no es más que la deuda pública del país en cuestión. Es libre de riesgo porque se considera que el país siempre pagará lo que debe. Si esto no se cumple, todo el sistema queda en entredicho.

Si EEUU no pagase lo que debe, su acceso a la financiación se complicaría, el crédito se contraería, la actividad económica caería y la tasa de paro crecería.

A nivel internacional, si EEUU incumpliera su deuda podríamos estar ante una crisis global similar, o incluso peor, que la de 2008. Los inversores perderían confianza en los bonos del Tesoro de EEUU, provocando inestabilidad en los mercados financieros, y las instituciones financieras que poseen grandes cantidades de deuda estadounidense podrían enfrentar graves problemas de liquidez.

Además, los países que mantienen sus reservas de divisas en dólares estadounidenses verían disminuir el valor de éstas, lo que afectaría a su capacidad para estabilizar su economía. Esta situación podría provocar una crisis de confianza a nivel global, llevando a más aumentos de las tasas de interés, la caída de la inversión y, posiblemente, una recesión mundial. Según Janet Yellen, sería “una catástrofe, una tormenta económica sin precedentes”.

Conferencia de prensa de Janet Yellen del 25 de abril de 2023. Fuente: Bloomberg TV.

Desde un punto de vista general, EEUU lleva emitiendo deuda pública, y pagándola puntualmente, desde su fundación, en 1776, si bien históricamente ha habido algunos momentos de dificultades.

En 1790, algún acreedor se quedó sin cobrar cuando el congreso asumió las deudas de los estados que habían participado en la guerra de la Independencia. 1861, con la Guerra Civil; 1933, durante la Gran Depresión; o la ruptura de los acuerdos de Bretton Woods, durante el gobierno de Nixon, en 1971, son otros ejemplos de estas dificultades.

Breve historia de impagos

Capítulo aparte merecen los denominados defaults técnicos. Un default técnico sucede cuando el gobierno incumple temporalmente algunos pagos debido a problemas técnicos o administrativos. En 1979, el Tesoro estadounidense retrasó el pago de 120 millones de dólares en bonos debido a un problema informático.

Entre 1995 y 1996, bajo el mandato de Bill Clinton, se vivió una situación parecida a la actual. El Tesoro tuvo que recurrir a medidas extraordinarias para evitar el impago hasta que, en marzo de 1996, se consiguió el acuerdo con el Congreso republicano de subir el techo de deuda.

La situación se repitió en 2011, durante la presidencia de Barack Obama. En esta ocasión, la agencia de calificación Standard&Poor’s rebajó, por primera vez en la historia, el rating de EEUU Finalmente, el acuerdo con el congreso se alcanzó el mismo día en que vencía el plazo.

En 2013 se repitió la situación, y el Gobierno federal se vió obligado a cerrar durante 16 días. Durante estos cierres se suspende la prestación de los servicios públicos gestionados por la administración federal, menos aquellos considerados esenciales, lo que provoca la baja de un gran número de empleados públicos que, al no ejercer sus funciones, no son remunerados.

Ahora estamos ante la gestación del quinto default técnico, esta vez bajo el mandato de Joe Biden.

Crítica y crucial

En resumen, la situación es crítica y su resolución es crucial para la economía global. Aunque EEUU ha demostrado una larga historia de compromiso con sus obligaciones financieras, cada vez ocurren desafíos de diferente índole que hacen más necesaria la reforma y la adaptación del sistema financiero. La inminente fecha límite del 5 de junio pone una vez más en perspectiva esta situación.

De no llegar a un acuerdo, las implicaciones no sólo serían graves para la economía estadounidense, sino que también tendrían repercusiones profundas y duraderas en los mercados financieros internacionales. Probablemente por ello, se vuelva a llegar a un acuerdo de último momento. Aun así, no está de más recordar el dicho: “tanto va el cántaro a la fuente que acaba por romperse”.The Conversation

Luis Garvía Vega, Director del Máster Universitario en Gestión de Riesgos Financieros (MUGRF) en ICADE Business School, Universidad Pontificia Comillas

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


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Ioris, Lula’s diplomacy in a changing world

Lula in Japan
Lula in Japan. Is he pursuing divisiveness or diplomatic pragmatism on the world stage? Photo by Ricardo Stuckert — Brazilian Presidency.

Lula’s diplomatic dance is nothing new for Brazil or its leader – what has changed is the world around him

by Rafael R. Ioris, University of Denver

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is a man currently very much in demand in international circles.

In April, the leftist leader was being courted by China during a high-profile visit to Beijing. That was followed a month later with an invite to the G7 summit in Japan, where Lula rubbed shoulders with leaders of the largest economies of the so-called Global North. In recent weeks Brazil’s president has also been busy restoring regional ties in Latin America and pushing a proposed path to peace in Ukraine.

Lula’s diplomatic whirlwind has confounded his critics. He has been accused of “cozying up” with the United States’ enemies or “playing both sides” over Ukraine.

But as a scholar of Brazil and its position in the world, I believe Lula’s actions reflect two main elements: one relating to global geopolitical developments, the other tied to the Brazilian leader’s long-held vision.

The rise of China and the war in Ukraine have underscored that the unipolar reality of the 1990s – under which the U.S. was the predominant power – is being seriously challenged. In its place appears to be emerging a bipolar dynamic in which Beijing and Washington battle for influence – or a multipolar world in which regional powers compete for hegemony.

Anticipating this new world ordering, nations that have historically aligned with the European-U.S. center of power – particularly those in places like Latin America – are repositioning themselves. This seems to be the case for Brazil, the largest nation and economy in South America.

Waning US influence in Latin America

During much of the 20th century, Brazil developed in close economic cooperation with the United States while managing to sustain a largely autonomous foreign policy.

But since 2001, US influence in Brazil has diminished as Washington has pivoted its attentions away from the region to first the Middle East and then Asia. In the same period, China replaced the United States as Brazil’s most important economic partner. Figures from 2021 show China received 31% of Brazilian exports compared with the United States at 11.2%, and supplied 22.8% of its imports, compared with the US 17.7%.

Reviving Lula-ism, strenghening the BRICS

Meanwhile, Lula’s return to the presidency in January 2023 has paved the way for a revival of an ambitious and assertive foreign policy set out by the leader during his first term in office between 2003 and 2010.

During this earlier period, the metalworker-turned-president managed to sustain good relations with both the Bush and Obama administrations while also seeking to diversify Brazil’s economic and geopolitical partners, especially in the Global South.

Two men in suits shake handsLuiz Inacio Lula da Silva with George W. Bush in 2003. Manny Ceneta/AFP via Getty Images

He also played a central role in the creation of the BRICS, a loosely defined multilateral bloc consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The bloc has helped reshape the economic and geopolitical balance of the world over the past two decades.

Since returning to power, Lula sought to strengthen the BRICS bank – a funding agency for developmental projects in the Global South that offers a financial alternative to the World Bank. In a show of intent, Lula pushed for the appointment of ex-Brazilian president – and his former chief of staff – Dilma Rousseff to head the agency.

Much as with his domestic agenda of rebuilding social programs, undermined by his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, in the international arena Lula is looking to restart his project of strengthening Brazil’s ties with a variety of partners. In his first month in office, Lula attended a meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean nations (CELAC) in Argentina, where he outlined a desire to strengthen Brazil’s relations in the region.

Soon after, he visited President Joe Biden in Washington, where both leaders professed their mutual desire to promote democracy and push for a more environmentally sound developmental path, particularly in the Amazon region.

Once that trip was concluded, Lula visited China to deepen trade relations and to try to lead a peace effort for the war in Ukraine. He then went to Europe to meet with traditional allies, like Spain and Portugal.

Divisive or dynamic diplomacy?

All things considered, this “many friends” approach isn’t so different from Lula’s experiences of 20 years ago. Then, Brazil was largely welcomed as a rising diplomatic force in the developing world. President Barack Obama, during a 2009 meeting, made special note of Lula’s “forward-looking leadership … throughout Latin America and throughout the world.”

Two men in coats walk side by side in front of a parade of military men.


Lula inspects an honor guard with Xi. Ken Ishii/Pool/Getty Images

What has changed since are the domestic and global contexts in which Lula now operates. And what was once seen as a progressive pursuit of an autonomous and assertive foreign policy is now being interpreted by many in Brazil and the West as divisive, inappropriate or even a betrayal of Brazil’s traditional alignments.

Such a view, I believe, ignores not only Lula’s earlier international record but also a wider historical perspective. For more than a century, Brazil’s diplomatic efforts have focused on promoting multilateralism and on pushing for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

And while it drew closer to Western allies during World War II and the Cold War, successive governments in Brazil – be they progressive or conservative, democratic or authoritarian – pursued a policy of self-determination. Shaped by those dynamics, Brazil’s foreign policy has served the country well as an instrument of its own development.

The need for a neutral peacemaker

As such, Lula’s overtures to both traditional and new trading partners is not surprising. Nor is his plan to find a solution to the war in Ukraine through the creation of a neutral bloc of mediating countries.

While attending the G7 meeting at Hiroshima, Lula stressed the need for peace talks not only to end the tragedy in itself, but also because it was distracting the global community from focusing on other matters, such as global warming and hunger.

Perhaps some of his statements about the war could have made it clearer that he held Russia primarily responsible for the conflict – something that may have played a role in the falling through of a planned meeting with Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the G7. But it should be remembered the contention that countries perceived as neutral, like Brazil, may have a better chance of bringing Russia to the negotiating table is a valid position.

Not in Brazil’s interest to pick a side

It is unclear at this early stage of his new presidency whether Lula can revive the international balancing act that he pulled off during his first period of governance. The world has changed since then, and economic and geopolitical disputes appear ever more prone to include a military dimension, as the war in Ukraine shows. And although Brazil could indeed play a peacemaking role, neither side in the conflict seems ready to negotiate yet. Similarly, the growing rivalry between the United States and China will be difficult to navigate – and given the historic and current economic ties, Brazil cannot afford to pick a side.

In fact, not picking a side could work to Brazil’s advantage. It was only after Lula’s visit to China that the Biden administration announced an increase by tenfold of its contribution to the Amazon Fund. It is clear thus that in an increasingly divided world, Brazil’s nonaligned position could be the best path.The Conversation

Rafael R. Ioris, Professor of Modern Latin America History, University of Denver

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


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European Union et al: Stop demolishing Palestinian education

A school in Khan al-Ahmar, a small Bedouin village near Jerusalem, is funded by the European Union but coveted by nearby Israeli settlers, who have managed to get it placed on a list of dozens of Palestinian schools slated for demolition as part of West Bank and East Jerusalem ethnic cleansing efforts. Photo by Peter Biro — European Union.

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¿Wappin? It’s Friday / Es viernes

A start on musical taste.
Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

Friday at The Crossroads of The World
Viernes en Las Cruces del Mundo

Rubén Blades & Rodolfo Pereira – Desaparecidos

Of Monsters and Men – The Cabin Sessions

Natalie Merchant – I’m Not The Man

Timbaleros De Puerto Rico – Batalla De Los Palos

Peter Tosh – Mystic Man

Anna Tivel – Tiny Desk Concert

Tracy Chapman – Stand By Me

Roger Waters – This Is Not a Drill Concert Budapest 2023

Taylor Swift & Ice Spice – Karma

Séptima Raíz – TRAMA 2018

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To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

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STRI: Sanjur and the Smithsonian’s fix / Sanjur y la solución del Smithsonian

Seated / sentados, l-r / i-d: Alma Douglas – SITES Affiliations Program Specialist, Shahin Nemaze – Equal Opportunity Specialist OEESD, Caroline Fiertz – Director of Fellowships and Internships NMAH, Michelle Cook – Inclusive Design Specialist, Beth Ziebarth – Director of the Office of Diversity. Standing / de pie, l-r / i-d: Ashley Grady – Access Smithsonian Senior Program Specialist, Meroe Park – Assistant Secretary and Director of Operations, Oris Sanjur – Deputy Director in Charge, Office of Diversity, Melanie Adams – Director, Anacostia Community Museum. Smithsonian photo.

Oris Sanjur assists in the creation of the Smithsonian Diversity Office


Panamanian scientist provides support to establish the new office to work on issues of inclusion and equity for the institute’s internal community globally.

Dr. Oris Sanjur of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) has been named acting deputy director of the new Office of Diversity, officially launched on May 8 at the Washington, DC-based Smithsonian Institution.

Sanjur, who is a graduate of the University of Panama and received her PhD in Molecular Biology from Rutgers University, has been with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1998. Between 2020 and 2021, she served as acting director of STRI, becoming the first Panamanian woman to hold the position.

Now, as interim deputy director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Diversity, working in conjunction with Chief Diversity Officer Beth Ziebarth, Sanjur has the opportunity to collaborate in another part of the institution. This office is intended to work with the internal Smithsonian Institution community to establish policies and guidelines to ensure inclusivity and diversity within the institution.

“The Diversity office is created with the goal of supporting and fostering a culturally inclusive workplace that reflects our external leadership on equity issues,” shares Sanjur. “This office seeks to build a sustainable, staff-owned DEAI program, informed by our collective lived experiences, and driven by the goal of equity of opportunity, inclusion and recognition.”

“I was appointed to support Beth Ziebarth in establishing the office based on the experience we have had at STRI of working in diverse communities,” she adds. “We are looking to enhance the internal culture of diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility throughout the institution, and to raise awareness of the importance of the DEAI program in the various processes and in our communities.”

The Office of Diversity is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s forward-looking strategy and vision to build community and staff engagement across the institution, and transform the way it connects with its audiences nationally and globally.

STRI has a Diversity office, led by Ernesto Cole as Diversity Manager, who since January 2023 has been working with the Director of Diversity at the Smithsonian Institution to develop local strategies to improve equity, inclusion, diversity and accessibility in STRI’s units and in all its processes. Among the first activities promoted by this office, STRI will be participating for the first time in the LGBTIQ+ pride march, World Pride Panama Parade, which will be held on July 1 in Panama City.

“For STRI it is important to attend the pride parade because it is a clear message of support and inclusivity to our employees, affiliates and the community at large,” shared Cole. “It demonstrates our commitment to creating an inclusive work culture, where everyone is accepted and respected, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Our participation demonstrates our dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion as core values. In addition, it is a fun celebratory event that can bring people together and promote unity and a sense of community.”

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute promotes understanding of tropical nature and its importance to the well-being of humanity, trains students to conduct research in the tropics, and fosters conservation by raising public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems.

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Oris Sanjur colabora en la creación de la
Oficina de Diversidad del Instituto Smithsonian

por STRI

La científica panameña brinda apoyo para establecer la nueva oficina destinada a trabajar en temas de inclusión y equidad para la comunidad interna del instituto a nivel global.

La Dra. Oris Sanjur del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI por sus siglas en inglés) ha sido nombrada subdirectora interina de la nueva Oficina de Diversidad, lanzada oficialmente el pasado 8 de mayo, en el Instituto Smithsonian con sede en Washington DC.

Sanjur, quien es egresada de la Universidad de Panamá y obtuvo su Doctorado en Biología Molecular de la Universidad de Rutgers, trabaja con el Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales desde el año 1998. Entre el 2020 y 2021 trabajó como directora interina de STRI, convirtiéndose en la primera mujer y persona panameña en ocupar el puesto.

Ahora, como subdirectora interina de la Oficina de Diversidad del Instituto Smithsonian, trabajando en conjunto con la directora de Diversidad Beth Ziebarth, Sanjur tiene la oportunidad de colaborar en otra parte de la institución. Esta oficina está destinada a trabajar con la comunidad interna del Instituto Smithsonian para establecer políticas y guías que garanticen la inclusividad y diversidad dentro de la institución.

“La oficina de Diversidad se crea con el objetivo de apoyar y fomentar un lugar de trabajo culturalmente inclusivo que refleje nuestro liderazgo externo en asuntos de equidad,” comparte Sanjur. “Esta oficina busca construir un programa DEAI sostenible y propio del personal, informado por nuestras experiencias vividas colectivas, e impulsado por la meta de equidad de oportunidad, inclusión y reconocimiento.”

“Fui designada para apoyar a Beth Ziebarth para establecer la oficina con base en la experiencia que hemos tenido en STRI de trabajar en comunidades diversas,” agrega. “Buscamos mejorar la cultura interna de diversidad, inclusión, equidad y accesibilidad a través de toda la institución, y crear conciencia de la importancia del programa DEAI en los diferentes procesos y en nuestras comunidades.”

La Oficina de Diversidad es parte de la estrategia y visión a futuro del Instituto Smithsonian, para crear comunidad y participación en el personal a través de toda la institución, y transformar la manera en que se conecta con sus audiencias a nivel nacional y global.

STRI cuenta con una oficina de Diversidad, liderada por Ernesto Cole como gerente de Diversidad, quien desde enero de 2023 trabaja en conjunto con la directora de Diversidad en el Instituto Smithsonian en el desarrollo de estrategias locales para mejorar la equidad, inclusión, diversidad y accesibilidad en las unidades de STRI y en todos sus procesos. Entre las primeras actividades impulsadas por esta oficina, STRI estará participando por primera vez en la marcha del orgullo LGBTIQ+, World Pride Panama Parade, la cual se celebrará el 1 de julio en ciudad de Panamá.

“Para STRI es importante asistir a la marcha del orgullo porque es un mensaje claro de apoyo e inclusividad a nuestros empleados, afiliados y la comunidad en general,” compartió Cole. “Demuestra nuestro compromiso de crear una cultura de trabajo inclusiva, donde todos y todas son aceptados y respetados, sin importar su orientación sexual o identidad de género. Nuestra participación demuestra nuestra dedicación a la diversidad, equidad e inclusión como valores fundamentales. Además, es un evento divertido de celebración que puede unir a las personas y promover unidad y un sentido de comunidad.”

El Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales, en ciudad de Panamá, Panamá, es una unidad de la Institución Smithsonian. El Instituto promueve la comprensión de la naturaleza tropical y su importancia para el bienestar de la humanidad, capacita estudiantes para llevar a cabo investigaciones en los trópicos, y fomenta la conservación mediante la concienciación pública sobre la belleza e importancia de los ecosistemas tropicales.

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The shorteye view: US economy is a hostage

Matt Gaetz performs for teenagers in 2019. “A key player in the extreme MAGA House majority now admits what anyone paying attention has suspected all along,” said one watchdog group. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Matt Gaetz openly confirms Republicans
see US economy as ‘our hostage’

by Jake Johnson — Common Dreams

Through their actions in recent months, House Republicans have made clear that they view the debt ceiling standoff as a hostage situation that they can exploit to advance their political agenda—which includes draconian cuts to social programs and massive handouts to the fossil fuel industry.

On Tuesday, just days before the June 1 “X-date,” Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) came right out and admitted it, telling reporters that “my conservative colleagues for the most part support Limit, Save, Grow, and they don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.”

Semafor’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig published audio of Gaetz’s comments on Twitter:

The Limit, Save, Grow Act is legislation that Republicans passed in a party-line vote last month, staking out their position that the debt ceiling shouldn’t be raised unless rich tax cheats are protected and an axe is taken to spending on federal nutrition assistance, Medicaid, affordable housing, childcare, and other key programs.

The House GOP, officially led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) but heavily influenced by the far-right Freedom Caucus, has held to that position, threatening to force a debt default and unleash global economic chaos unless their demands are met.

Gaetz, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, suggested Tuesday that the deal McCarthy struck with his far-right flank to secure the speakership—specifically the rule allowing just one lawmaker to call a vote to unseat the speaker—has kept the Republican leader committed to debt ceiling brinkmanship.

“I believe the one-person motion to vacate has given us the best version of Speaker McCarthy and I think he’s doing a good job,” Gaetz said Tuesday.

Democratic lawmakers and progressive watchdog groups saw Gaetz’s remarks as a frank acknowledgment of what they’ve said since the start of the debt ceiling standoff.

“A key player in the extreme MAGA House majority now admits what anyone paying attention has suspected all along: Congress Republicans consider the US economy and millions of jobs a ‘hostage’ while making unreasonable austerity demands that especially hurt low-income veterans and seniors,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Accountable.US. “Anyone who doubts the looming default crisis and recession is not entirely manufactured by the MAGA majority need only give the fringe Freedom Caucus a call and hear it from the horse’s mouth.”

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, wrote on Twitter that “Matt Gaetz just admitted Republicans are holding the US economy hostage.”

“The pro-default extremists in the GOP are willing to risk economic calamity to force their cruel cuts on American families,” Boyle wrote. “House Democrats will not let that happen.”

Boyle is leading a longshot procedural effort known as a discharge petition to force a vote on a debt ceiling increase as the Republican leadership remains committed to pursuing deep spending cuts that Democrats in the House and Senate have dismissed as nonstarters.

Not a single House Republican has signed the discharge petition, and two Democrats—Representatives Jared Golden of Maine and Ed Case of Hawaii—have yet to sign.

With negotiations between the White House and Republicans at a standstill, a growing number of congressional lawmakers—including prominent progressives such as Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)—are imploring President Joe Biden to use his 14th Amendment authority to unilaterally avert a default, an option the president has thus far resisted.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who has said the 14th Amendment “should be on the table,” pointed to Gaetz’s comments Tuesday as further confirmation that Republicans are not negotiating in good faith.

“I want to be clear about what the Republican Party is taking hostage. It is not Democrats. It is the entire US economy,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN late Tuesday. “It is extreme, and it is not acceptable.”

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) added on Twitter that Gaetz and the GOP “are playing a dangerous game and, like every hostage situation, someone is likely going to be hurt.”

“We have to rescue the American people,” she wrote.


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Editorials: Time for the games to end; and Debate helps Biden and the Dems

Il Duce
All hail Il Duce, or something like that. Archive photo by the Presidencia.

At long last, can we have judgment based on the facts and the law?

“All the authorities, they just stand around and boast
How they blackmailed the sergeant at arms into leaving his post”

Bob Dylan

It’s up to Judge Baloisa Marquínez now, but you never know when a prosecutor might take a dive, or what new delays might be interposed, or what appeals judges might be convinced to decide. Excuse The Panama News, and most of the Panamanian people, and the bulk of world opinion, for the skepticism.

In Panama there is no differentiation between procedural and substantive law, and if there is a clearly erroneous verdict it becomes a crime for a journalist to opine so. AND, in exchange for a bag of groceries, a large minority of Panamanians will accept a politician’s fictions as truths.

But the New Business trial begins tomorrow and the outcome should decide whether or not Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal has standing to run for president next year, and whether is political operation will have at its disposal the daily newspapers El Panama America, La Critica and Dia a Dia. This newspaper chain was allegedly bought with money kicked back from overpriced public construction contracts, then laundered through chains of companies ending with a factoring company called New Business. Martinelli and his 20 co-defendants are not in this matter directly charged with the bribery and graft, but with the laundering of the money used to buy Martinelli control of the newspapers.

The trial is scheduled to last 10 days and it will certainly start with a flurry of motions from some or all of the defendants attacking the procedure, the constitutionality of the law, or the application of the law in face of this or that claim of immunity. It would be something out of another legal system, but well justified, were the judge to summarily impose a contempt citation for any defendant or lawyer who argues that somebody’s illustrious family merits an acquittal.

Any defendant convicted could face a prison term of five to 12 years, and be disqualified from running for public office. One of the games to be played here is a strategy to delay any conviction against Martinelli from going into effect until after the December deadline when the Electoral Tribunal will certify who is and who isn’t on the May 2024 ballot.

Time for the games to end, in such a fashion that they won’t be tried again.


Marianne Williamson has important things to say, even if she has never held public office and is unlikely to be nominated for the presidency. With Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the things HE has to say would give Democrats an important opportunity to reject much of that stuff, to point out that his anti-scientific anti-vaxxer screeds got people killed. The best wisdom is to go with Joe so long as he is able to continue, but to hear all the Democrats who want to be president.

Things are on a knife’s edge, but…

More than 18 months before the next US general elections is an eternity in politics. The politician whom we most admire, or the one we most fear and loathe, may be dead by then. Events now unexpected may force themselves onto center state in the national public discourse.

Still, the trends are more or less set for 2024, and to think about it, the United States has been there before.

In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to keep a Democratic coalition with huge internal contradictions together. He probably would not have succeeded without his wife Eleanor’s advice. He insisted that the southern segregationists be kept in the Democratic column, but Eleanor insisted that there be no racial discrimination in the WPA and other New Deal programs. During one strike wave Franklin expressed his annoyance by declaring “a plague on both of their houses!” but Eleanor, a member of the The Newspaper Guild and close friend of the National Women’s Trade Union League and its leader Rose Schneiderman, was counted as one of labor’s friends since years before her husband was elected president.

Other than the New Deal Democrats embracing and enacting Socialist leader Norman Thomas’s Social Security as a pillar of the American economy, and supporting bipartisan legislation to make it possible for workers to organize unions, what was it that brought the firebrand labor militants into the coalition? The revulsion within the Communist Party USA at Stalin’s purges and then the Hitler-Stalin Pact broke most of its members away and left them in a search for political relevance. The eternal outsider reality of third party politics in the USA might have been tolerable to many Socialists, but at the time the specter of a truly awful far right had emerged on a world scale with the Axis of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo but also within the United States with stormtroopers like the Silver Shirts, bigoted radio demagogues like Father Coughlin and Nazi sympathizers among such captains of American industry as Henry Ford making such politics a threat within the USA as well. So the militants went into the Democratic Party, propelling Roosevelt to unprecedented third and fourth terms as president and went all out for the war effort against the fascist Axis.

History never exactly repeats, but with US Republicans going farther to the right than all previous fringes and tyrants who don’t particularly like the United States consolidating their holds on power in many countries, threats we have known again raise their heads. The GOP has not only staked out a position on the right but it and its following are getting more extreme by the minute.

Democrats need to reach out to include, to gather the forces to stop those who would make book burning a part of US culture. It’s a matter of domestic importance to thwart the foreign sympathizers of the American censorship crowd. Without buying into the neoconservative Cold War II mindset, it’s still important to keep the likes of Vladimir Putin from invading and conquering neighboring countries while meddling in US elections.

It’s time for Democrats to assemble a grand coalition, not to shrink into exclusionary little “in crowd” social circles.


Gestapo cage match against Baron Von Raschke.

A lot of people get in the ring with me – and they get hurt!

Dick The Bruiser

Bear in mind…


I live now on borrowed time, waiting in the anteroom for the summons that will inevitably come. And then – I go on to the next thing, whatever it is. One doesn’t luckily have to bother about that.

Agatha Christie


I am not attacking Lombana. On the contrary, I am trying to alert him by pointing out what many in Panama think but do not express out loud: if the independents do not unite they will not have a real option to win in 2024.

Rubén Blades


On a lazy Saturday morning when you’re lying in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, there is a space where fantasy and reality become one. Are you awake, or are you dreaming? You see people and things; some are familiar; some are strange. You talk, you feel, but you move without walking; you fly without wings. Your mind and your body exist, but on separate planes. Time stands still. For me, this is the feeling I have when ideas come.

Lynn Johnston


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