On the campaign trail with Republicans
Hellenic Shipping News, Unions commission safety study of new PanCanal locks
The Maritime Executive, Panama Canal uncertainty continues
Journal of Commerce, PanCanal loyalty incentives to compete with Suez
ESPN FC, Román Torres out for the season
Prensa Latina, Panama’s capital districts remain in state of emergency
Pacific Standard, See an open Northwest Passage from space
Christian Science Monitor, Global fish stocks down by half
Orange County Register, Collecting fossils in Panama
Globe & Mail, Final push for Pacific Rim pact set for end of September
Reuters, China’s US debt holdings fall
Courthouse News Service, Appellate relief for Argentina in bond scrap
Vernengo, From BBB-razil to BB+razil
FronteraNorteSur, Old cartels never really die…
Caribbean News Now, New US charges likely in FIFA case
Ramage, Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn
Gandásegui, Se fue Dimas Lidio
Bloomberg, Martinelli’s new mafia digs
Alligator, UF Library’s Panama Canal Museum grant ends
Desde hace más de un año y, luego de los primeros resultados de las investigaciones realizadas por la Procuraduría General de la Nación, el país ha conocido la magnitud de los actos de corrupción y contra el patrimonio del Estado que se cometieron durante la administración del ex-Presidente Ricardo Martinelli.
En la mayoría de estas investigaciones es mencionado el ex-Presidente, que no puede ser investigado por el Ministerio Público, sino por la Corte Suprema de Justicia, debido a las prerrogativas de las cuales goza por ser miembro del PARLACEN, y debido a la Ley blindaje que lo protege a él y a todos los diputados.
Mientras los otros ex-funcionarios implicados en estos hechos están detenidos con medidas cautelares, o buscados por INTERPOL, el ex -Presidente Ricardo Martinelli continúa sin ser requerido por la justicia panameña, y se encuentra fuera del país en categoría de turista, sin dar explicaciones de todo lo sucedido.
Es por esto que hacemos un llamado a la Corte Suprema de Justicia para que actúe y llame ante los estrados de la justicia al ex-Presidente Ricardo Martinelli. La lentitud por parte de la Corte Suprema de Justicia en atender estas denuncias está generando percepción de impunidad y pone en peligro el derecho que tenemos los ciudadanos de conocer la verdad y que se imparta justicia.
Solicitamos a los Magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia que fallen sobre la inconstitucionalidad de toda la Ley 55 o Ley Blindaje, ya que la misma sigue afectando las investigaciones contra Diputados y miembros del Parlacen.
En ese orden de ideas, hemos solicitado al Presidente de la República, Juan Carlos Varela, que vete la nueva Ley Blindaje, lo que debe obligar a la Asamblea a discutir nuevamente este tema, tomando en consideración que los Diputados deben enfrentar la justicia, como todos los ciudadanos, sin fueros ni privilegios.
Le solicitamos también al señor Presidente que nombre cuanto antes a los dos nuevos magistrados/as que necesita la Corte Suprema, cuyos nombramientos realizados con transparencia y consulta ciudadana, ayuden a mejorar la imagen y el actuar de este Órgano del Estado.
¡Basta ya de impunidades! ¡Basta ya de fueros y privilegios!
En esta coyuntura histórica, necesitamos más que nunca que los Magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia cumplan la misión de impartir justicia objetiva, expedita e independiente o pongan sus cargos a disposición sin más dilación!
Panamá, septiembre 2015
Alianza Ciudadana Pro Justicia
Alianza Estratégica Nacional
Asociación de Comunidades de Áreas del Canal
Asociación de Abogados Litigantes de Panamá
Asociación Conciencia Ciudadana Centro de Estudios y Capacitación Familiar
Centro de la Mujer Panameña
Centro de Estudios Promoción y Acción Social Panameño (CEASPA)
Comisión Nacional Pro Valores Civicos y Morales
Comité Latinoamericano para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (CLADEM)
Comité Salvemos el Río La Villa
Escuela de Ciudadanía de Panamá
Espacio Encuentro de Mujeres
Fundación para la Equidad de Género (FUNDAGENERO)
Fundación Instituto para el Estudio de Las Ciencias Sociales
Frente Herrerano Anticorrupción
Justicia, Paz e Integridad de la Creación Cmf
Juventud Democrática Popular
Mesa de Análisis de Leyes y Políticas Públicas de Discapacidad
Movimiento Ascanio Villalaz Paz
Movimiento de Desarrollo Integral Ngäble Bugle y Campesino (MODICO)
Movimiento Institucionalidad y Justicia
Movimiento Democrático Popular
MOVIN por Panamá
ONG Independientes por Panamá
Unión Nacional de Mujeres Panameñas (UNAMUP)
Luis Enrique – Yo No Sé Mañana
Carole King – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
The Beatles – A Day In The Life
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Refugee
Alannah Myles – Black Velvet
Johnny Cash – Hurt
Bonnie Raitt w/ Crosby, Stills & Nash – Love Has No Pride
Danilo Pérez – Irremediablemente Solo
Stevie Wonder – Superstition
Shakira – Illegal
Hector Lavoe – Triste y Vacia
Jefferson Airplane – Wooden Ships
Peter Tosh – Lessons In My Life
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris – If This Is Goodbye
Santana – Everything’s Coming Our Way
To hear Republican presidential candidates tell it, you’d think the most important issue facing the nation is Hillary Clinton’s old emails.
Not climate change, not the growing gap between the filthy rich and the deserving poor, and not our crumbling roads, declining schools, or tattered justice system — just Hillary’s emails.
As secretary of state, Clinton used her own private email account for government business and personal stuff. Some messages may have contained classified material (whether it was classified before or after she sent it is in question), making the Democratic Party’s presidential frontrunner appear to have improperly routed government secrets through a privately maintained, non-government server.
None of that looks good, of course. At best it’s very sloppy.
The Republicans, however, are trying to make it seem like the greatest act of treason since Benedict Arnold tried to sell out West Point to the British. It’s part of their grand plan to strangle Clinton’s presidential candidacy in its crib.
And maybe it will work. Republicans have a way of hammering on an issue, saying the same things day after day, even when the facts are against them. Eventually people say, “Gee, maybe there’s a fire there behind all that smoke.”
Why did Clinton do it? She says it seemed more convenient. Earlier this year, she claimed it was because she didn’t want to carry two phones around with her everywhere she went.
That’s lame. A secretary of state is constantly surrounded by dozens of minions who can carry an unlimited number of phones for their chief.
Why did she really do it? I have no idea. It’s precisely the kind of slightly off-center move we’ve come to expect of the Clintons. Their transgressions never seem to add up to much, but they leave you wondering if there’s something shifty going on
Now that she’s finally apologized for using a private email server, the Republicans will forgive her and forget about it, right?
Hardly — I misspoke before. The emails aren’t the only thing Republicans talk about. There’s also Benghazi.
Benghazi is a tragic chapter in our recent history. A US ambassador and three of his aides were murdered in a terrorist attack on their compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2012. Clinton led the State Department at the time.
It was by any measure a classic security screw-up, the kind that happens from time to time. Not much is made of it unless Hillary Clinton is secretary of state.
But she was, so the Republicans can’t let go of it. Rumors have been floated of the secretary interfering with the security at the compound, ordering the military to stand down, even running guns out of the facility. All garbage, of course, but an opportunity to slime a potential political opponent is no time to go ethical.
Republican-controlled standing committees in Congress have conducted no fewer than eight investigations into the matter so far, all fallow. Not satisfied, Republicans formed a special committee to investigate the incident.
That was 16 months and $4 million ago. Now they’ve discovered that some of Hillary’s emails mentioned — you guessed it — Benghazi. That means more hearings on the way.
This from a Congress that’s just come off one of its interminable vacations and given itself 12 days to vote on the Iran nuclear deal, pass a complex spending bill, and stage a welcome party for the pope. Then our lawmakers will go on vacation again so they can go back home and tell voters what a bang-up job they’re doing.
Oh, I forgot. There’s Planned Parenthood, too.
A hardy band of Republicans is threatening to refuse to vote for any spending bill that provides federal health care money for Planned Parenthood, which among other things provides abortions for poor women (though not with federal funds).
They say that if their demands aren’t met, they’ll shut down the government.
That’s it, then. Hillary Clinton’s emails, Benghazi and Planned Parenthood. Solve those and all our troubles are over.
With the member of its board of directors who is most in the news lately, construction executive and alleged bribe coordinator and taker Nicolás Corcione, a fugitive from justice whose whereabouts are generally unknown, four top Panama Canal Authority (ACP) executives are out of the country making a series of pitches to potential investors, looking to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bonds. Canal administrator Jorge Luis Quijano, CFO (the description used when the ACP is in the guise of private business corporation rather than a public entity) Francisco Miguez, vice president for engineering and programs Ilya Marotta and treasury and finance manager Eida Gabriela Saiz are visiting London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and New York for a series of investor meetings organized on its behalf by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. According to the announcement sent to would-be investors, “A USD-denominated 144A/Reg S transaction MAY follow, subject to market conditions.” It is widely reported that the ACP is looking to raise $450 million for the Atlantic Side bridge over the canal, a project that is about one-third done and whose price has usually been reported as about $366 million.
Commentator Kevin Harrington-Shelton, whose columns often appear in The Panama News and who among other things he has done in his life was the chief interpreter and translator for the Ministry of Canal Affairs when Ricardo Martinelli was minister, notes that this set of meetings is pursuant to US and British security regulators’ disclosure rules but that notwithstanding the organic law that created the ACP, the authority has never complied with the basic reporting requirement of a semi-annual personal report by the canal administrator to Panama’s National Assembly. He adds that “it is not clear why they ‘forgot’ to include this almost $400 million in the $ 5.2 billion budget shown in 2006 to the people, about what they said the canal expansion would cost. And in this context certain things look a bit incongruous at first blush, even if they might be readily explained.
For starters, why is the ACP raising $450 million to finance a $366 million bridge, a project that’s already well underway and is projected to be done sometime in 2017?
The expected answer from the priesthood of cognoscenti in the Administration Building would be along the lines of “You don’t have your numbers right, Jackson!” But let us see.
On the afternoon of January 8, 2013 — a great information management moment, as January 9, a Wednesday that year, is The Day of the Martyrs, a national holiday and both the crowd heading out to the beach and those already taking a five-day weekend would be paying scant attention to any news — the ACP announced that it had given the go-ahead to the Paris-based multinational Vinci Construction Grands Projets the order to start work on the Atlantic Side bridge project. The cost cited by the ACP at that time was $365.979 million.
Fast-forward two and a half years and the bridge costs $570 million. Might one say that this difference is the cost of the access roads to the bridge itself? At the time Vinci got the order, the ACP was representing that this was included in the price. Now we are told — with no definitive price tag attached — that the project will include at least one more bridge, over the Chagres River to Colon’s Costa Abajo, and road connections at the very least with that western region of Colon Province’s existing road system. So is this all part of the extra $200 million that has been added to the Atlantic Side bridge cost?
The contracts for the second bridge have not been reported as having gone out for bids. The public hearings about the environmental impact of a bridge over the Chagres River and connections with the Costa Abajo road network have not taken place. If location of the western end of the new bridge is any useful suggestion, the road will contiue through where soldiers at the old US Army Jungle Operations Training Center used to play war games in the woods and cross the Chagres onto the old Piña firing range, which is highly contaminated by unexploded ordnance that over the years has killed several people and is still hazardous. Panama’s birders and other environmentalists might also have something to say about a road cutting through that forested area. There are many variables, but at first glance it does not look like an inexpensive job.
But not to worry. We are assured by Fitch, S&P and Moodys that the Panama Canal Authority has an excellent bond rating, a much better one than the Panamanian government has. Might this explain why a road and bridge project that would ordinarily be in the bailiwick of the Ministry of Public Works is being built and financed under the aegis of the ACP instead?
So, if the bond sale road show is going to the United States and Britain, should we presume that the paper will be sold on foreign exchanges? Actually, no. That quintessential rabiblanco institution, Panama’s “newspaper of record” La Prensa, informs us that Panama Bolsa de Valores is ready to handle the bond issue. It quotes Bolsa director Roberto Brenes, who is leaving that job next month amidst a huge Financial Pacific brokerage house scandal that has yet to spread very far beyond Panama’s entire stock and bond regulatory system into other private entities, but begs an awful lot of questions. It quotes former ACP board member Eloy Alfaro, politely failing to mention that until a recent government takeover Alfaro was a director and spokesman for Banco Universal, which played the role of clearinghouse for many of the corrupt financial transactions of the Martinelli administration. (Of course not. To mention that would be gauche, not only in the adopted English sense of bad etiquette, but in the French political sense as well.)
The bottom line is it appears that foreign millionaires and billionaires are being given better access to financial information about a Panamanian public institution than are the Panamanian people.
On 13th July, the democratic elected Greek government of Alexis Tsipras was brought to its knees by the European Union. The “agreement” of 13th of July is in fact a coup d’état. It was obtained by having the European Central Bank close down the Greek banks and threaten never to allow them to open up again, until the Greek government accepted a new version of a failed program. Why? Because official Europe could not stand the idea that a people suffering from its self-defeating austerity program dared elect a government determined to say “No!”
Now, with more austerity, more fire sales of public assets, greater irrationality than ever in the sphere of economic policy, and massive fresh misanthropy in the realm social policy, the new Memorandum of Understanding only serves to worsen Greece’s Great Depression and to loot Greece’s wealth by vested interests, non-Greek and Greek alike.
We must learn from this financial coup. The euro has become the tool of economic and governmental dominance in Europe by a European oligarchy hiding behind the German government, delighted to see Mrs. Merkel doing all the “dirty work” other governments are incapable of undertaking. This Europe only generates violence within nations and between them: mass unemployment, fierce social dumping and insults against the European Periphery that are attributed to Germany’s leadership while parroted by all the “elites,” the Periphery’s not excluded. The European Union has thus become an agent of an extreme right wing ethos and a vehicle for annulling democratic control over production and distribution throughout Europe.
It is a dangerous lie to assert that the euro and the EU serve Europeans and shield them from crisis. It is an illusion to believe that Europe’s interests can be protected within the iron cage of the Eurozone’s governance “rules” and within the current Treaties. President Hollande’s and Prime Minister Renzi’s method of behaving like a “model student,” or in fact a “model prisoner,” is a form of surrender that will not even result in clemency. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said it clearly: “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.” This is the neoliberal adaptation of the “limited sovereignty” doctrine invented by the Soviet leader Brezhnev in 1968. Then, the Soviets crushed the Prague Spring with their tanks. This summer, the EU crushed the Athens Spring with its banks.
We are determined to break with this “Europe.” It is the basic condition needed to rebuild cooperation between our peoples and our countries on a new basis. How can we enact policies of redistribution of wealth and of creation of decent jobs, especially for the young, ecological transition and the rebuilding of democracy within the constraints of this EU? We have to escape the inanity and inhumanity of the current European Treaties and remold them in order to shed the straitjacket of neoliberalism, to repeal the Fiscal Compact, and to oppose the TTIP.
We live in extraordinary times. We are facing an emergency. Member-states need to have policy space that allows their democracies to breathe and to put forward sensible policies at the member-state’s level, free of fear of a clamp down from an authoritarian Eurogroup dominated by the interests of the strongest among them and of big business, or from an ECB that is used as a steamroller that threatens to flatten an “uncooperative country,” as it happened with Cyprus or Greece.
This is our plan A: We shall work in each of our countries, and all together throughout Europe, towards a complete renegotiation of the European Treaties. We commit to engage with the struggle of Europeans everywhere in a campaign of Civil European disobedience toward arbitrary European practices and irrational “rules” until that renegotiation is achieved.
Our first task is to end the unaccountability of the Eurogroup. The second task is to end the pretense that the ECB is “apolitical” and “independent,” when it is highly political (of the most toxic form), fully dependent on bankrupt bankers and their political agents, and ready to end democracy at the touch of a button.
The majority of governments representing Europe’s oligarchy, and hiding behind Berlin and Frankfurt, also have a plan A: Not to yield to the European people’s demand for democracy and to use brutality to end their resistance. We’ve seen this in Greece last July. Why did they manage to strangle Greece’s democratically elected government? Because they also had a plan B: To eject Greece from the Eurozone in the worst conditions possible by destroying its banking system and putting to death its economy.
Facing this blackmail, we also need a plan B of our own to deter the plan B of Europe’s most reactionary and anti-democratic forces. To reinforce our position in the face of their brutal commitment to policies that sacrifice the majority to the interests of a tiny minority. But also to re-assert the simple principle that Europe is about Europeans and that currencies are tools for promoting shared prosperity, not instruments of torture or weapons by which to murder democracy. If the euro cannot be democratized, if they insist on using it to strangle the people, we will rise up, look at them in the eye, and tell them: Do your worst! Your threats don’t scare us. We shall find a way of ensuring that Europeans have a monetary system that works with them, not at their expense.
Our Plan A for a democratic Europe, backed with a Plan B which shows the powers-that-be that they cannot terrorize us into submission, is inclusive and aims at appealing to the majority of Europeans. This demands a high level of preparation. Debate will strengthen its technical elements. Many ideas are already on the table: the introduction of parallel payment systems, parallel currencies, digitization of euro transactions, community based exchange systems, the euro exit and transformation of the euro into a common currency.
No European nation can work towards its liberation in isolation. Our vision is internationalist. In anticipation of what may happen in Spain, Ireland — and potentially again in Greece, depending on how the political situation evolves — and in France in 2017, we need to work together concretely towards a plan B, taking into account the different characteristics of each country.
We therefore propose the convening of an international summit on a plan B for Europe, open to willing citizens, organizations and intellectuals. This conference could take place as early as November 2015. We began the process on Saturday the 12th of September during the Fête de l’Humanité in Paris. Do join us!
Yes, we know that North America’s apple farmers would throw a litigious fit were these tasty fruit, “star apples” in Zonian English, Averrhoa carambola according to its scientific name, called any sort of apple. Moreover the caimito — an unrelated and not very similar fruit we also have in Panama — is also sometimes called a star apple. In North America they get marketed as “star fruit” and around a Panamanian fruit market if you ask for a carambola, estrella or “fruta china” they will figure out what you mean. (Isn’t it so very typical that to Panamanians almost anything exotic is Chinese? These things are thought to be originally from the islands off of South or Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka most frequently mentioned, but their cultivation all across tropical and subtropical Asia is ancient.) They are in fact not apples, but you can actually get a good result adapting an apple pie recipe using these sliced but not peeled and taking into account that they have a bit more liquid than apples.
Nuestra política migratoria también cae dentro de un estilo del presidente Juan Carlos Varela, caracterizado por el impulso impensado, sin contrapeso de los diálogos que tanto predica — a otros…
Ejemplo. El “Crisol de Razas” (ideado para evitar compartir la bonanza de la ampliación, aumentando la oferta con mano de obra importada) ha sido extendido, para favorecer primordialmente a una industria turística ya subsidiada. Ahora, ante su baja ocupación actual, los hoteles prescinden de mano de obra local y retienen la importada — la que no tiene igual acceso a la justicia laboral en un Ministerio de Trabajo que (también) funciona a control remoto.
El renovar permisos a quienes sabían que tenían fechas de cumpleaños, para engrosar las cuentas-discrecionales del presidente Varela (y ya no de la Presidencia Martinelli) es absurdo. Reteniendo una tarifa discriminatoria contra “las razas prohibidas” es un escándalo. Y se copa nuestra capacidad de absorber nuevos inmigrantes que necesitan refugiarse aquí. Pese a esa realidad, el Presidente reacciona casi pavlovianamente a las crisis-chic que sugiere Washington, tanto en Venezuela, como en Siria (aunque no así ante la deportación de haitianos desde la República Dominicana –porque son negros). ¡Vergonzoso además resultó su paso-atrás al voto comprometido en la OEA! A sabiendas que allí la presión pública propiciaría una salida rápida al problema, cosa que será poco probable en el petit-comité de un diálogo cerrado, con una menor cobertura en los medios.
Sepa Dios qué nos traerá don Juan Carlos desde Guantánamo, pero ya nos metió en el lío de los sirios. Haría mejor en mirar hacia el Norte (de Europa…) para entender qué implica ésta “política” –porque una vez que lleguen los expatriados kurdos, su estadía no será (muy) temporal. Porque con la Islamofobia actual, en los Estados Unidos tardan 12-18 meses para procesar a quienes sí admiten allá. Esta vez no será como cuando los Marielitos, que sí tenían patrocinadores en Miami.
Históricamente, Suecia había sido el país más generoso hacia los refugiados. Al extremo que hoy gasta $4 mil millones anuales en subvencionarlos @ $700 mensuales — y que hoy ya casi 16% de sus habitantes son inmigrantes (del Medio Oriente y del Africa, mayormente). Pese a que se le reconoce a este país vikingo estar entre los más egalitarios del mundo, el intentar integrar a una economía industrializada a refugiados sin mayores calificaciones técnicas no es fácil: luego de décadas, 40% siguen desempleados. Pero ello no disuade a sus compatriotas a aventurarse hasta la gélida Escandinavia. El bajón en la economía globalizada no augura para bien para Suecia; no demorará una reacción negativa en una población racialmente homogénea.
No obstante, allá como acá los medios de comunicación optan por invisibilizar los verdaderos problemas –para ver si se resuelvan solos. Y así no pisan los callos de sus anunciantes
El Papa Francisco nos brinda un parámetro, recordándonos el segundo Gran Mandamiento: “Ama a tu prójimo, como a ti mismo” (Mateo 22:39). Su Santidad sugiere que en Europa cada comunidad de personas consagradas reciba a dos familias de refugiados. Sugiriendo así fijar un límite a nuestra propia generosidad.
Alaska Dispatch News, Arctic prepares for possible cruise ship emergencies
Marine Log, Weathernews beefs up polar routing capabilities
Ship & Bunker, AMP and local players differ about bunker fuel sales
InSight Crime, Why Panama remains a money laundering haven
El Confidencial, Pujol Jr. transfirió coimas a una fundación panameña
Prensa Latina, Panama president ends visit to Cuba
SeeNews Renewables, Entropy buys three solar plants in Panama
Blue & Green, S&P: climatic perils are likely to intensify
Outbreak News Today, SENAFRONT agent dies of equine encephalitis
Discovery News, Genetic islands are stranding big animals
CIP Americas, The experts’ Ayotzinapa report
Ishmael, The Guyana-Venezuela border dispute
Eyes on Trade, TPP: What’s to celebrate?
Video, Victor Jara – Manifiesto
Borton & Nguyen, China and the deep blue sea
Simpson, Acerca de los refugiados sirios
Vatican Radio, Pope laments false friendships and fundamentalism
Video, Hero Dogs of 9/11
Greenwald, US human rights jargon