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Editorials: Now that the voting is over; and What Bernie says

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asshole
Tweeting about politics while hosted in asylum at a diplomatic mission? That violates international law. Even if the mayor-elect he’s wooing is the son of his brother-in-law. From Ricky Martinelli’s Twitter / X feed.

With new caretakers about to come in…

Yes, Martinelli’s stand-in got elected to the presidency with just over one-third of the vote. His political party got 12 seats in the 70-member legislature, as did the PRD.

There are appeals, and reviews of some “funny stuff,” so the precise legislative results are not yet set in stone.

The PRD has 35 seats in its outgoing legislative caucus, and has taken an unprecedented and catastrophic loss. Its presidential candidate, and its incumbent mayor of Panama City, each got only single-digit percentages of the vote.

The Panameñistas, whose presidential bet was to play second fiddle to Rómulo Roux, will remain steady at eight deputies but that’s not stopping a big post-election faction fight. The Partido Popular, which got shut out in the last election, will actually pick up a couple of seats. MOLIRENA lost four of its five seats.

Against that, the newcomer party Otro Camino, whose presidential standard-bearer ran second, gets about four seats in the next legislature and there will be at least 21 independents, although a few of these will be ringers very unlike the Vamos and Otro Camino reformer types.

On the local tickets, the incumbent PRD was swept out of the mayors’ offices in Panama City, San Miguelito, Colon, Arraijan, La Chorrera and Santiago. The new mayors, most of them young, will mostly deal with fragmented city councils. However, from their ranks it should be expected that there will be a new crop of national political figures whom the new president and the new legislature would be well advised to take into account.

Same old, same old? Hardly. If you read the international reports, they are about how Panama has elected the henchman of an awful thug, a fugitive who stole more than $70 million from us. Who then laundered his loot to buy a newspaper chain, the inattentive global news organizations don’t usually add.

Even before the July 1 changing of the guard, there is business to take care of.

The court has ordered that Ricky Martinelli does not get to keep what he stole, that the EPASA newspaper chain is public property. Nito was a fool to allow Martnelli to use it as a propaganda arm during the recent campaign. He should have seized it when the court order was handed down. He needs to nationalize it now, reorganize it and pass it off to new owners before Ricky’s nominee comes in. It would be best to hand control to a consortium of the nation’s universities, as far as The Panama News is concerned.

Mulino will have the power to commute Martinelli’s sentence – which will set off a political firestorm if and when he does it – but he doesn’t have the right or the power to ratify theft.

How will we get past all the fragmentation and gridlock? In the short term, compromises will have to be made. But we know the sort that the old school politicians like to make – the non-aggression pacts where neither side gets prosecuted for anything. Let’s have none of that.

The way out is to have a constitutional convention. We should be aware of all the pitfalls. The organization of it? Via the political party bosses, using the cockamamie legislative election scheme, with the Electoral Tribunal intervening as it wishes? Let’s not have that. With demagoguery that in the name of populism – “fewer politicians” – puts the wealthiest Panamanian and foreign interests in control of our government? With sleazy operatives going around looking for sleazy citizens willing to sell their country for bags of groceries in the elections for convention delegates? Let’s steer clear of those things, too.

We still have many of the same old problems, presided over by many of the same old people. But now we have, inside of and outside of the legislature, a new crowd of talented young opposition leaders. The struggle continues.

  

What Bernie says…

“There is an increasing tendency in the media and some of my colleagues in the Senate to use the word or phrase pro-Palestinian to suggest that means that those who are Pro-Palestinian means that they are (anti-semitic)… in my mind that is unacceptable and factually inaccurate!”

 

  

Martina
Martina Navratilova in 1999. Photo by John Matthew Smith.

The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.

Martina Navratilova

Bear in mind…

When tyranny becomes law, rebellion is a right.

Simón Bolívar

Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death.

Harold Wilson

People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.

Helen Keller

 

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Parra Rizo, Adultos mayores en la época del Internet

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raaaawk!
Foto por Karolina Grabowska.

Cómo conectar a las personas mayores a la era digital

por María Antonia Parra Rizo, Universidad Miguel Hernández

En la actualidad, la población mundial está envejeciendo a pasos agigantados. Según datos de la Organizacion Mundial de la Salud (2022), el porcentaje de mayores de 65 años en el mundo pasará del 10 % al 16 % en 2050. Sus estimaciones indican que, para entonces, el número de personas en esa franja de edad será casi equivalente al número de niños menores de 12 años. En la Unión Europea, la proporción de octogenarios prácticamente se ha duplicado en lo que llevamos de siglo (del 3,4 % al 6 %).

Esto presenta desafíos importantes para incluir y cuidar mejor a los miembros de este sector de la población, que pueden sentirse desconectados del tiempo que les ha tocado vivir.

Excluidos de la vida en línea

Aunque los avances tecnológicos nos han traído ventajas, como la posibilidad de estar más conectados e informados y compartir más cosas, también ha creado problemas para las personas mayores. Muchos individuos de avanzada edad se sienten excluidos, un sentimiento a menudo potenciado por la falta de habilidades tecnológicas necesarias para usar tabletas, teléfonos móviles, aplicaciones, altavoces inteligentes o asistentes de voz.

Según un informe de la Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (2024), la exclusión digital aumenta la soledad y marginación, ya que estas personas no pueden acceder a muchos servicios que ahora se ofrecen solo en línea. Y esto puede afectar a su salud mental y emocional de manera negativa.

No deja de ser una paradoja, porque como indica la investigadora Elisabeth Grey y sus colegas, la tecnología puede ayudar a que la gente de más edad se comunique y se sienta acompañada. Para ello es crucial diseñar dispositivos e interfaces que les resulten más fáciles de usar.

Investigaciones en curso

Actualmente, muchos estudios están abordando este problema no solo para entender mejor las dificultades específicas que enfrentan las personas mayores al adoptar la tecnología digital, sino para que esas herramientas ayuden a combatir efectivamente su soledad y aislamiento.

Otros investigadores también exploran cómo la facilidad de uso y la utilidad percibida influyen en la adopción de aplicaciones y plataformas en línea por parte de este sector demográfico.

Y por último, se están evaluando los potenciales efectos de la digitalización en su calidad de vida, bienestar emocional y conexión social.

Un ejemplo es el uso de chatbots o bots conversacionales, sistemas de comunicación que se adaptan a las preferencias y necesidades emocionales de los usuarios. Estos programas de inteligencia artificial pueden ser empáticos e identificar las mejores formas de utilizar la tecnología para incluir a las personas mayores y reducir su vulnerabilidad social.

Estrategias para cerrar la brecha digital

Para abordar este problema, es importante enseñar a las personas mayores a sacar partido de la tecnología y facilitarles que se aprovechen de sus beneficios. He aquí algunas líneas de actuación:

1. Alfabetización digital:

  • Aprender a utilizar dispositivos como tabletas y teléfonos inteligentes.

  • Navegar de forma segura por internet.

  • Usar redes sociales de manera segura, como configurar perfiles y ajustar la privacidad.

  • Realizar videollamadas.

  • Reconocer y evitar estafas en línea, como fraudes o premios falsos.

  • Descargar y usar aplicaciones.

  • Utilizar pestañas en el navegador web.

  • Familiarizarse con los servicios bancarios online y aprender a usarlos de forma segura.

  • Aplicar medidas básicas de seguridad cibernética, como crear contraseñas fuertes.

  • Identificar correos electrónicos maliciosos de phishing y enlaces sospechosos, solicitudes de información personal o mensajes poco claros.

  • Conocer las ofertas de entretenimiento en línea.

2. Uso de las redes sociales y las plataformas en línea:

  • Conectar con personas que comparten intereses y aficiones a través de redes sociales.

  • Acceder a actividades como escuchar música, leer noticias o participar en sesiones de yoga, pilates o mindfulness a distancia.

  • Participar en actividades virtuales que promuevan el intercambio de ideas y experiencias entre diferentes generaciones.

  • Unirse a clases virtuales sobre diversos temas.

  • Apuntarse a desafíos como escribir relatos cortos, compartir recuerdos históricos o participar en concursos de fotografía.

  • Utilizar plataformas como TikTok para compartir tradiciones familiares y conectar con personas de diferentes edades.

3. Desarrollo de aplicaciones amigables:

  • Los expertos deben crear interfaces simples y bien organizadas.

  • Usar colores y contrastes que faciliten la lectura de los usuarios mayores.

  • Incorporar una navegación clara para que puedan moverse por la aplicación fácilmente.

  • Incluir funciones de búsqueda que les permitan encontrar lo que necesitan de manera rápida y sencilla.

4. Servicios de teleasistencia y telemedicina:

  • Los mayores deben contar con líneas de teleasistencia disponibles las 24 horas del día, los 7 días de la semana.

  • Acceder a consultas médicas virtuales a través de plataformas especializadas en internet.

  • Disponer de dispositivos que puedan alertar y monitorear la salud de manera remota.

Estas herramientas prácticas pueden ayudar a cerrar la brecha digital entre las personas mayores y el resto de la sociedad. El objetivo será promover un envejecimiento más activo, informado, saludable y, cómo no, conectado a la era digital.The Conversation

María Antonia Parra Rizo, Doctora en Psicología de la Salud, Universidad Miguel Hernández

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

 

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As we go to the polls, let’s ask about dollars, cents and our values

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sign
So does this put Anton on the map? Will people stop and shop, dine at our restaurants, and attend local fairs and festivals now that drivers on the Pan-American Highway can see this?

At THIS price…

photos, captions and comments by Eric Jackson

We’ve been through an historic epidemic, worldwide inflation, a crime wave across Panama and the economy has still not picked up for a great many Panamanians. So do citizens go the the polls, and their resident foreigner neighbors watch what they do, thinking about bread and butter? Or beautification? Or what things cost? Or whether we end up in July with a stormtrooper thug government that’s to be squeezed by US sanctions, Just ‘Cuz? Or do we dodge that bullet, but still have to figure out what do do about this record debt?

Those who have been in power will ask for a bit of understanding. Those who have been out of power will thunder condemnation and scorn. The voters, for good reasons or bad, will have to decide, and without all of the information that would be nice to have. But still, we can look around.

2
EVERYTHING has a price tag.

  

3
Like teenage taggers using spray paint, the politicians might have affixed their names or nicknames, or declared that THEIR gang rules. They spared us that bad taste.

  

4
To THIS weird old hippie’s bureaucratic urban policy eyes, a first reaction of “That’s nice” gets quickly followed by questions about ease and cost of maintenance.
 

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¿Wappin? A Friday on the cusp of something / Un viernes a punto de algo

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Dartmouth
The cops move in on protesters at Dartmouth.
La policía ataca a los manifestantes en Dartmouth.

Canciones para tiempos interesantes
Songs for interesting times

Jenni Rivera – Basta Ya
https://youtu.be/IlIOIQE_0Ig?si=cwz7a9IYNOBhVKk6

Holly Near – No More Genocide
https://youtu.be/-oeKfLxb_fM?si=5cWAyzxUAXEdMZBL

Alice Cooper – Elected
https://youtu.be/ZQAkjdrgo7M?si=Tj-5R6kpvPiOIWh4

David Gilmour — The Piper’s Call
https://youtu.be/gMr5GpCpKyA?si=b8vwfUqlgCDn9801

Taylor Swift – Anti-Hero
https://youtu.be/MRVrb1vBei8?si=uql0AwPADu61nHSb

Eric Burdon & The Animals – Sky Pilot
https://youtu.be/1jpgyo4mb1s?si=p4peZSqR5DYxL_tp

Cyndi Lauper – True Colors
https://youtu.be/yZgah5suEyc?si=xHelPSpmmAZsTl2Z

Shakira – Cómo, Dónde y Cuando
https://youtu.be/CeksyqxVHRQ?si=68plr4-FprTgfNUx

Mike & The Mechanics – Silent Running
https://youtu.be/tixWhkcpBZ4?si=jZX8ShO9QSeQ6SSV

Mon Laferte – Democracia
https://youtu.be/HoF3QCFVFhg?si=1Qz6pktVfO9JZ2JL

Eivør – Running Up That Hill
https://youtu.be/fA74UHgWblA?si=YYMsisu4KCMsj2I2

Rubén Blades – País Portatíl
https://youtu.be/EX_M7MOKaO8?si=_aGb_6LpeOTfnT-z

Jefferson Airplane – Wooden Ships
https://youtu.be/ROBaoiJK0wc?si=9ibuTuLa8V6OUIQ7

 

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endurance

Corte Suprema, Mulino en la papeleta

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so they say

 

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Jackson, The unruly defendant I revered and Trump

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Abbie
The late great Abbie Hoffman, painting from a photo of the period when he was disrespectfully on trial before Julius Hoffman, by Thomas Altfather Good.

One, two, Screw Magoo!…

by Eric Jackson

I look at Donald Trump’s insolence at and about his hush money trial in New York. He may beat the rap. Innocent unless and until proven guilty as always, and even in the event of a conviction on those charges there’s no telling what the Federalist Society goons with whom the Republicans have packed the nation’s highest court might do.

The other legal jeopardy, at nine counts, more demanded by the prosecutor and a summation after the trial, is on contempt charges that will likely be resolved after the jury has left the room to deliberate. More of a slam-dunk there, and probably a greater chance of The Donald going to jail before the election.

Hey, I know those sorts of disrespect and trial disruption politics, from when I was a teenager. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were heroes of my youth. I only spoke to Abbie in the flesh once, and saw him in the flesh mostly at events where he appeared. Jerry I knew a bit better, as at the Yippie House in Ypsilanti and at a Yippie gathering in Madison the former reporter for the Cincinnati Star sat down with me and gave me, a high school dropout working in the underground press at the time, pointers about my writing.

Abbie was totally outrageous, a manic depressive like me, a guy who when on the up pole could be legendarily creative and pretty obnoxious as well. The down pole took Abbie from us, by suicide at a time he was hurt from a car crash, alone in his love life, in a financial low spot and severely depressed. It was a horrible example that, along with other events, led me to take stock, quit a lawyer job I had come to hate and move back to Panama where Seasonal Affective Disorder hardly applies.

A veteran political organizer from the days of the Freedom Riders, Abbie was the main brain behind the disruption of the interstate conspiracy to riot trial arising from the protests and police brutality at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention. THOSE charges were a set-up, but then the campaign about the trial and The Day After were the real thing.

Judge Julius Hoffman, who bore a useful resemblance to the cartoon character Mr. Magoo, played right into it. And when he asked the defendants to state their names, one Abbott Howard Hoffman said that his name is Abbie, that he lost his last name. When asked to name his state of residence in court, Abbie said the “state of mind of my brothers and sisters.”

It’s the beginning of the difference. Donald Trump nods out in court, or fakes it. Abbie and Jerry read comic books in court while the judge or prosecutors were speaking.

Back in those times, Abbie was walking down a New York street with a copy of a Yippie film in his possession and was arrested just because of who he was. At the station the cops wanted to know what the film was, and he told them it was about a woman and an ostrich – then wrote about the mad scramble around the police station to find a projector. (Some of the Yippie feminists of the time took exception to the sexist joke, but I would imagine that the survivors of that crowd are much more offended by Trump’s misogyny.)

Trump’s contemptuous out-of-court social media comments are angry, mean-spirited, often libelous, ad hominen and shrill. Bits of anger sometimes came from Abbie Hoffman, but he was far more likely to affect the style of a Borscht Belt stand-up comedian.

It was a time of rising resistance to genocidal wars – more than a million Vietnamese were killed – and a government based on lies. That gave the Chicago conspiracy defendants a huge following to address and those charged had their individual politics, temperaments and followings to give the overall defense strong support in several sectors of the movement. At the trial Abbie was the ringmaster, organizer and provocateur.

After the trial by a judge who wore his partiality on his robes came to its inevitable guilty verdict but before the inevitable reversal on appeal, college campuses and cities around the country exploded on The Day After. For an adolescent male, the rioting was a testosterone rush. Those disturbances wrought another set of riot conspiracy charges, which gave prominence to defendant activist, later rabbi, Michael Lerner and many others. Those cases ended when prosecutors, police and Nixon administration official preferred not to give defense lawyers the records of their own misconduct.

“One, two Screw Magoo! Three, four Stop the War….” Popular anger, off of which Nixon image-handlers spun a 1972 re-election with the help of Democratic divisions. The Nixon Democrats begat the Reagan Democrats begat the MAGAs. By which time Abbie and Jerry, the latter hit by a car while crossing a busy Los Angeles street, were no longer with us.

Well, Trump has shown us that he can disrespect a judge too – but never so well as when Abbie told Julius that the latter was a “shande fur de goyim” (Hebrew for disgrace before the Gentiles.) Abbie got a contempt citation for that, too, but never were his insults to crude as Trump’s tweets.

And Trump can gin up a riot, too. But I’m expecting a few violent fanatics to act out when he goes to jail, but never anything like TDA. More like Joe McCarthy pleading “point of order, point of order!” when his gig with the Senate committee was up.

Donald Trump, you’re no Abbie Hoffman.

 

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Dimanche & McClinchey, Rebounding cruise industry faces tough decisions

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two cruisers
Two cruisers — not nearly the biggest these days — docked at Panama’s new terminal. Panama Tourism Authority photo.

Rough seas or smooth sailing? The cruise industry
is booming despite environmental concerns

by Frédéric Dimanche, Toronto Metropolitan University and Kelley A. McClinchey, Wilfrid Laurier University

Cruise ship season is officially underway in British Columbia. The season kicked off with the arrival of Norwegian Bliss on April 3 — the first of 318 ships that are scheduled to dock in Victoria this year. Victoria saw a record 970,000 passengers arrive in 2023, with more expected in 2024.

The cruise industry was badly hit by the suspension of cruise operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Fueled by heavy consumer demand and industry innovation, cruising has made a comeback. It is now one of the fastest-growing sectors, rebounding even faster than international tourism.

While many predicted a difficult recovery, a recent industry report shows a remarkable post-pandemic rebound. Two million more people went on cruises in 2023 versus 2019, with demand predicted to top 35 million in 2024.

But environmental issues plague the sector’s revival. Are they an indication of rough seas ahead? Or will a responsive industry mean smooth sailing?

Cruising has long been criticized for being Janus-faced: on the surface, cruises are convenient, exciting holidays with reputed economic benefits. But lurking underneath are its negative environmental and social impacts.

Unprecedented growth

Newly constructed mega-ships are part of the industry’s unprecedented growth. Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world, with 18 decks, 5,600 passengers and 2,350 crew.

MSC World Europa with 6,700 passengers and 2,100 crew, P&O Arvia with 5,200 passengers and 1,800 crew, and Costa Smeralda with 6,600 passengers and 1,500 crew also claim mega-ship status.

Those sailing to and from Alaska via Victoria will be some of the estimated 700,000 passengers departing Seattle on massive ships three sport fields in length.

Baby boomers represent less than 25 per cent of cruise clientele. Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z have more interest than ever in cruising, with these younger markets being targeted as the future of cruise passengers.

The Cruise Lines International Association asserts that 82 per cent of those who have cruised will cruise again. To entice first-timers and meet the needs of repeat cruisers, companies are offering new itineraries and onboard activities, from simulated skydiving and bumper cars to pickleball and lawn bowling.

Solo cruise travel is also on the rise, and multi-generational family cruise travel is flourishing, explaining the extensive variety of cabin classes, activities and restaurants available on newly constructed and retrofitted ships.

However, only a few cruise ports are large enough to dock mega ships. Cruise lines are responding by offering off-beat experiences and catering more to the distinct desires of travelers.

In doing so, there is a move towards smaller vessels and luxury liners, river cruises and expedition cruising. Leveraging lesser-known ports that can only be accessed via compact luxury ships offers more mission-driven, catered experiences for the eco-minded traveler.

Cruising and environmental costs

Cruise ship visitors are known to negatively impact Marine World Heritage sites. While most sites regulate ballast water and wastewater discharge, there are concerns about ship air emissions and wildlife interactions.

Cruise ship journeys along Canada’s west coast, for example, are leaving behind a trail of toxic waste. A study by environmental organization Friends of the Earth concluded that a cruise tourist generates eight times more carbon emissions per day than a land tourist in Seattle.

Also, a rise in expedition cruising means more negative impacts (long-haul flights to farther ports, less destination management in fragile ecosystems, last chance tourism) and a rise in carbon dioxide emissions.

Toxic air pollutants from cruise ships around ports are higher than pre-pandemic levels, leaving Europe’s port cities “choking on air pollution.” Last year, Europe’s 218 cruise ships emitted as much sulphur oxides as one billion cars — a high number, considering the introduction of the International Maritime Organization’s sulphur cap in 2020.

Rough seas ahead or smooth sailing?

Royal Caribbean said its Icon of the Seas is designed to operate 24 per cent more efficiently than the international standard for new ships. International Maritime Organization regulations must be 30 per cent more energy-efficient than those built in 2014.

But despite the industry using liquefied natural gas instead of heavy fuel oil and electric shore power to turn off diesel engines when docking, industry critics still claim the cruise sector is greenwashing. As a result, some cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona and Venice are limiting or banning cruise ships.

Environmental critiques remain strong, especially for polar expeditions. The industry must respond and increase sustainability efforts, but their measures remain reactive (i.e., merely meeting international regulations) rather than proactive. In addition, by sailing their ships under flags of convenience, cruise companies evade taxes and demonstrate an unwillingness to abide by a nation’s environmental, health and labor regulations.

In any case, environmental concerns are escalating along with the industry. Travel agents and industry figures are aware of these impacts and should help promote cruise lines that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices.

Local residents need to expect more from port authorities and local governments in order to cope with cruise tourism. Cruise consumers should recognize the environmental costs of cruising, and demand accountability and transparency from cruise lines.The Conversation

Frédéric Dimanche, Professor and Director, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Toronto Metropolitan University and Kelley A. McClinchey, Teaching Faculty, Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

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

 

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Cummings, Will the politicians make the digital divide worse?

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the divide
Unless lawmakers act, over 23 million US households could soon lose access to free or low-cost Internet. That would be a disaster for rural communities and communities of color. Graphic by Lisa — iStock.

Don’t let Congress widen the digital divide

by Claude Cummings Jr. — OtherWords

Nearly a third of Americans who don’t have broadband say the reason is because it costs too much — and unfortunately, Congress is prepared to let that figure rise dramatically.

Lawmakers have yet to renew funding for the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program, or ACP, which is being rolled back as of today and will fully come to an end in coming weeks unless Congress takes action. Through the ACP, more than 23 million households have received either reduced bills or effectively free internet service.

The shutdown of the ACP will hurt communities of color the most, with over 30 percent of Black families lacking home internet, and rural communities as well.

Affordable internet access isn’t just about surfing the web or scrolling social media. High-speed broadband is a gateway to education, job opportunities, health care, and so much more. By taking this important program away from low-income families, Congress is not only driving up costs for an already vulnerable population, but potentially taking away their educational, employment, and economic opportunities as well.

If Congress is serious about both closing the digital divide and achieving racial equity, it will have to act now to keep the ACP up and running.

Launched in 2021 as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the ACP has been a resounding success, not only for helping families across the country afford reliable connectivity, but in incentivizing internet service providers to build it.

Too often, low-income and rural communities are overlooked by providers when they determine where to upgrade and expand high-speed service because they are viewed as a customer base who cannot afford it. Thanks to the ACP, these communities have become empowered customers — and internet service providers are now building strong, long-lasting connections to previously unserved and underserved areas.

My union, the Communications Workers of America, represents tens of thousands of broadband workers who are building and maintaining this nationwide network. They’re speaking with families and community members every day, hearing stories about unaffordable internet services and bad connectivity. And they’ve seen the direct benefits of the ACP in our cities, suburbs, and rural areas.

Like when the federal government built electricity to everyone, ACP is an investment in critical services and jobs that’s brought millions of Americans who were previously being left behind into the 21st Century. It’s a critical part of supporting Black, brown, and rural families and addressing economic inequality.

Losing the ACP wouldn’t only cut off these families — it would undercut the financial viability of networks being planned under the Infrastructure Act’s broadband deployment funding, causing providers to build less and leave more people behind. Affordable connectivity is truly one of the most important and most overlooked racial and economic justice issues of our time.

Discontinuing the ACP is an attack on the ability of communities of color and rural communities to access health care, online education, and better job opportunities, and would be a huge step backwards for our country. Hundreds of thousands of Americans could lose access to the life-saving services they need, from telehealth to remote work and online education.

Despite the success of the ACP, its bipartisan appeal, and the widespread need for affordable connectivity, Congress has not been able to move forward on funding for the program. We need our lawmakers to treat the internet as the essential resource that it is, and use our public dollars to help bridge the racial and economic gaps that may keep people offline.

 

Claude Cummings Jr. is president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union.

 

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Pearson, Polkinghome & Tahir, Sorting out shipwrecked cultural artifacts

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underwater research
Dr. Holly Jones-Amin (Grimwade Centre), Nia Naelul Hasanah Ridwan, Adria Yuky Kristiana, Sutenti (Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries), and Alqiz Lukman (National Research and Innovation Agency) examine an ‘orphaned object’. Photo by Martin Polkinghorne.

Underwater cultural heritage: why we’re studying ‘orphaned objects’ to work out which shipwrecks they came from

by Natali Pearson, University of Sydney; Martin Polkinghorne, Flinders University;
Nia Naelul Hasanah Ridwan, Flinders University, and Zainab Tahir, Flinders University

A lot of the recent talk about maritime issues in Southeast Asia has focused on issues such as security, the Blue Economy, law enforcement and climate change. But there’s one maritime challenge that’s gone underdiscussed: underwater heritage.

We are co-investigators on a research project called Reuniting Cargoes: Underwater Cultural Heritage of the Maritime Silk Route.

Since the 1960s, Southeast Asia has seen a big rise in both commercial and illicit salvage of underwater cultural heritage. These items are often taken from unprotected sites and sold through middlemen and auction houses to collectors and museums. In this process, the connection to their original locations is lost or obscured, diminishing their cultural and historical significance.

This project aims to address that challenge by working out which object came from what shipwreck, and how it came to be out of the water and in collections.

To do this, we need to figure out where an item originally came from by applying the latest methods of archaeological science. Talking with local communities and authorities is another important way of gathering information about which shipwreck a particular object might have come from.

Learning more about and reconnecting items like this can change how communities relate to them. It can enhance everyone’s understanding of these artefacts beyond their commercial value.

What we are doing

We are studying two ceramic collections.

The first is in Australia, consisting of about 2,300 objects purchased from antique markets across Indonesia by a private collector over many decades.

The second is in Indonesia, consisting of about 230,000 objects. This collection was amassed by the Indonesian government and is now at a shipwreck artefact warehouse in Jakarta.

Our goal is to work out which shipwrecks the items came from.

Why?

Ancient shipwrecks, sunken cargoes and the submerged past are underwater cultural heritage.

A 2001 UNESCO convention prioritizes protection and preservation of these sites, and international cooperation to achieve those goals. The central idea is that cultural heritage (including the kind found underwater) can help foster local, national and regional identity.

We see taking these “orphaned objects” languishing in private or institutional collections and reconnecting them with their original countries and communities as an important part of that broader goal.

Shipwrecks and their cargo can be sites of conflict

From South America to the South China Sea, state and non-state actors (such as curious tourists or people seeking to profit from shipwrecks) are making various claims on ancient shipwrecks. Some are motivated by nationalism, others by money.

It’s also important to remember local communities engage with heritage in unique ways. What makes sense to policy makers, scientists or communities in one place won’t always make sense to those in another place.

Our project seeks to reconnect “orphaned” objects – cultural objects that have been recovered unethically, illegally or in some other problematic way. One example is underwater sites that have been commercially salvaged (meaning items that were recovered and then sold for profit) rather than scientifically excavated.

Identifying the original find-spots for these orphaned objects won’t be without its scientific, political and legal challenges.

But challenges can also represent opportunities. This project requires collaboration between Indonesian and Australian project partners. That builds capacity on both sides. Along the way, we’re helping develop mechanisms that could guide the return of other heritage items more broadly to their places of origin.

Trade ceramics in storage at the KKP Cileungsi warehouses, West Java. Image courtesy:These ceramics are among the ‘orphaned objects’ we are researching.Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia

Maritime heritage tourism and sustainable development

Shipwrecks are fascinating scientifically and historically. But they can also reveal local, national and international tensions.

Take, for example, the 9th century shipwreck discovered in 1998 in waters near Belitung Island, Indonesia. Indonesian laws at the time clearly allowed commercial operators to salvage shipwrecks in its territorial waters, even if this went against international standards established by UNESCO.

Then there’s the 18th century Spanish ship, the San José, which lies in the waters of the Caribbean and is the subject of a multi-country legal fight over who should get the treasure it carried.

On the other hand, shipwrecks have political value. They can bring people together around shared goals or identities. They can be better integrated into sustainable development strategies, including through community-based marine tourism.

Marine heritage tourism initiatives will enable local communities to benefit financially from heritage. Adopting environmentally sustainable practices can also help protect marine ecosystems and ensure the long-term viability of underwater cultural heritage.

This will help to grow local economies by offering different kinds of jobs, not just fishing, while also minimizing underwater cultural heritage looting and illicit trafficking.

Successful initiatives along these lines are already underway in Indonesia, in places such as Karawang, Abang Island and Tidore.

Dr. Muja Hiduddin and Fatimah Rahman lead a ceremony at the Southeast Asian Ceramic Archaeology Laboratory at Flinders University.Ancient shipwrecks, sunken cargoes and the submerged past are underwater cultural heritage.Priyambudi Sulistiyanto

Reconnecting orphaned objects

Orphaned objects have not received the attention they deserve.

Such objects are generally anathema to scholars, because of concerns that to study them is to legitimize them.

We agree there are important ethical considerations at play. But we also recognize these orphaned objects are a crucial part of broader geopolitical and maritime security debates.

To exclude them from scholarly study, as has largely been the case to date, is to risk missing an essential piece of the maritime puzzle. The Conversation

Natali Pearson, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, University of Sydney; Martin Polkinghorne, Associate Professor in Archaeology, Flinders University; Nia Naelul Hasanah Ridwan, Maritime-Underwater Archaeologist and PhD Candidate on Archaeology (Humanities), Flinders University, and Zainab Tahir, Marine Heritage Analyst and PhD Candidate, Flinders University

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

 

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Schilke, The shady side of loyalty

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A little trust can be a dangerous thing. Bribery, a graphic by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Pix4free.

Trust in the shadows: How loyalty fuels illicit economic transactions

by Oliver Schilke – University of Arizona

When you think about economic activities that society tends to frown on – like offering bribes, paying for the services of a sex worker or even selling human organs – “trust” and “loyalty” might not be the first things that come to mind. But these seemingly positive characteristics play a key role in letting people disguise illicit transactions as something more socially acceptable, my colleague Gabriel Rossman and I recently found in a series of experiments.

As a professor of management who leads the University of Arizona’s Center for Trust Studies, I’ve long been interested in how people conceal illicit economic activity. One important way is through what scholars call “obfuscation” – hiding the true nature of an exchange to avoid social judgment or legal scrutiny. For example, a person who wants to hire a sex worker may disguise their payment as a more socially acceptable “gift,” while someone who wants to bribe a politician may instead make a “campaign contribution.”

Through our experiments, we investigated the strategies people use to mask morally questionable transactions – what researchers call “obfuscated disreputable exchanges.” We found that people decide to engage in these shady activities based on how much they trust the other person they’re working with.

In our experiments, we put 1,276 participants in the shoes of a real estate developer whose building permit application needs an exception to the zoning ordinance. Participants were then told that the city building inspector’s pickup truck had broken down, and that if they bought him a new one, he might be more inclined to grease the wheels for their application.

We found that participants were more likely to choose this option – an obfuscated exchange – instead of inaction or outright bribery when they believed they could trust their counterpart. We also found that the type of trust matters: When trust is based on belief in the other person’s loyalty, people are more willing to proceed with the gift. However, when trust stems from a belief in the other’s ethical standards, they hesitate, fearing the moral implications of their actions.

Why it matters

In the shadows of the legitimate market, a different kind of economy thrives – one dominated by the transfer of goods and services that society considers morally wrong. Our study probes this hidden economy, examining how individuals navigate transactions that are cloaked in moral ambiguity. In addition to helping us understand the mechanisms of these illicit exchanges, our work offers fundamental insights into human behavior and social norms.

Our findings point to a basic fact: People want to pursue their own self-interest while also being liked by others. When those two goals conflict, there’s a strong temptation to put up a false appearance of respectability. And trust plays a key role in making that happen.

One important implication of our research is that trust has a dark side. This runs contrary to the positive view of trust that many researchers have, thanks to its role in encouraging cooperation and reducing transaction costs. Our investigation shows that trust can also have effects that are less socially desirable – such as enabling bribery.

Trust can play conflicting roles because it has two fundamental dimensions: loyalty and ethics. Loyalty refers to someone’s goodwill and their desire to help, while ethics has to do with acceptable principles – notably rectitude and truthfulness – that a person subscribes to. Both play an important role in shaping whether people are viewed as trustworthy.

People often believe that loyalty and ethics go hand in hand. This makes some sense: If someone acts ethically toward their community, it’s reasonable to assume they would honor their commitments to an individual, too. However, this connection breaks down during disreputable exchanges. Our work shows that people are more willing to engage in shady business with those who demonstrate loyalty-based trustworthiness and less likely with those whose trustworthiness is grounded in a sense of ethics.

Another intriguing facet of our findings is that loyalty-based trustworthiness – as opposed to trustworthiness rooted in ethics – reduces moral discomfort, or the negative feelings associated with morally inappropriate action. Each party adjusts their sense of what it means to be good if they trust that the other won’t judge them for a bit of wickedness.

What still isn’t known

Our investigation opens up new avenues of inquiry about how trust works in morally gray markets. It raises questions about the fragility of trust in these contexts, the impact of changing social norms on what people consider morally acceptable, and the broader implications for our understanding of trust and morality in society.

As researchers continue to uncover the layers of trust that underpin the shadow economy, these questions invite us to reflect on how people negotiate the tension between personal gain and community moral standards – a dynamic that shapes not just hidden economies but the very fabric of society.

 

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