Monday Reads: We are still Tribal and Fascinated by Fire

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I seem hard wired to avoid the caves and to wander the plains and mountains.  For this, I believe I have my mother to thank.  I imagine lurking some where in my family are Irish ‘traveller’ genes but who knows. I do not understand people who find one location and surround themselves with sameness. The lily white Midwestern suburbans filled with snotty WASPS were a prison to me.  My mother’s insistence we travel frequently was the only thing that saved me, we used to stay at Marriott hotels all the time. It showed me there was more to people and life than a backyard prison.

Later, as a young mother, I unfortunately discovered way too late–because of promises of other things–that I basically married a potted plant who wanted nothing more than to drag to and from work day in and day out. The sofa was the center of life. I got some pleasure in taking my summers off and taking baby Doctor Daughter on the road.  That worked until my parents moved back to the prison and I was surrounded by boring sameness day in and day out.  It felt like being entombed in a cavern surrounded by slugs, potted plants, and narrowness in a world ruled without color or the discovery of abstract art and erotica.  This came home as an astounding lesson with my inoperable cancer diagnosis at 34 and a six month old baby.  I was not going to let my children suffer the same fate. They needed more back yard to play about and I would give them that for as long as I could live.

The word that best describes the circumstances of my youth is people attached to “homophilly”.  It literally means the “love of the same.” It is the tendency of people with similar characteristics to congregate.  That pretty much describes the WASP enclave that ensconced me.  Same boring stuff day in and day out. My mother drove us to Pow Wows. She stuck us in station wagons and campers to search the far corners of the American West.  We eventually landed in Europe. These were all places where I would dream I would have the courage to run away into so I would never EVER have to go back.  My cousin who moved to NYC to do Broadway was my siren. She led me to believe that one day I would escape. History taught the progress of human kind was to leave caves and tribes to build cities.  American History taught the American spirit is to get out there to discover and explore and build something new.  None of this included the iconography of firmly planted sofas.

But, firmly planted sofas in limited areas show us that our tribal roots are still lurking. These lead to dark times, genocides, war, and oppression.  I was looking at the various news items I’ve collected for today trying to find some theme.  You’re probably wondering at this point too.  I think therefore, I babble. Unfortunately, it all seems to be an expression of our primal fear of other and the desire of so many to huddle into a tribe based on iron age mythologies, the social constructs of race, sexuality and gender roles, and the dark side of homophilly. If we only love the same, do we also have to adapt the hate of the different?

I have two items of interest on the construct of separating humanity by race.  First, is this new classification system for Black people living in the USA.  How do you elect to be “just black”? From NPR: “2020 Census Will Ask Black People About Their Exact Origins”.  Why is this necessary? Furthermore, a lot of us either came or were drug over way back and don’t know, a lot of us are a blend of all kinds of things, and why should  the government be focused on which part of what continent spawned our ancestors?

For the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau is changing how it will ask black people to designate their race. Under the check box for “Black or African American,” the bureau is adding a new space on the census questionnaire for participants to write in their non-Hispanic origins, according to a recent memo from the head of the 2020 census. “African American,” “Jamaican” and “Nigerian” are listed as examples of origins on a questionnaire the bureau is testing for 2020.

The change means many black people in the U.S. may have to take a closer look at their family trees to answer what can be a thorny question: Where are you really from? While many black immigrants can cite ties to a specific country, that question is difficult, if not impossible, for many U.S.-born African-Americans to answer.

The bureau has not responded to NPR’s questions about why it is making this change to both the “Black” category and the “White” category,” which will also include a new write-in area for origins.

But researchers at the bureau have said they have been trying to respond to requests for “more detailed, disaggregated data for our diverse American experiences as German, Mexican, Korean, Jamaican, and myriad other identities.” (The bureau was considering an overhaul to all racial categories that would have added check boxes for the largest ethnic groups and a write-in area for smaller groups. But it would require the Trump administration’s approval of an Obama-era proposal to change the federal standards on race and ethnicity data, which census experts say the White House’s Office of Management and Budget is not likely to move forward.)

My WASPY family has our family tree detailed out to when the first of whatever line came from where ever but only because my mother got obsessed with researching it decades ago as a hobby.  And, this details one important distinction.  Every one of my ancestors arrived here of their own volition. None of them were kidnapped and enslaved.  None of them were here already where they were frequently murdered and driven from their lands.  How does this information do anything positive?

Sebastian Junger wrote a book called “Tribe” that was published in 2016.  He argued that on some level having wars and enemies is something humans enjoy because it gives us a sense of belonging.  I can’t imagine needing that enough to be violent and oppressive to others.  But, I see it in Trump’s White Nationalist cult and realize it has a draw.

During John Ford’s celebrated western film The Searchers, John Wayne’s character spends years hunting for his niece Debbie, kidnapped as a child by Comanche Indians.

When he finally finds her, she initially wants to stay with her Comanche husband rather than return home.

Although shocking in the film, it’s historically accurate. White people captured by American Indians (author Sebastian Junger’s preferred name for Native Americans) commonly chose to stay with their captors – and the book cites a case of a captive woman who hid from her would-be rescuers.

Even more astonishingly, from the earliest days of Europeans in America, settlers of both sexes ran away to join Indian tribes. This wasn’t just a few people, it was hundreds and hundreds. The practice was so rife that in the early 1600s settler leaders made it an offence with harsh punishments, but over the following centuries people still ran off in huge numbers.

And it hardly ever happened the other way. Indians didn’t want to join white society.

The attraction, argues Junger, was the sense of community, the importance of the tribe, evident in other primates and in primitive human societies. The superficial attractions of American Indian life were obvious: sexual mores were more relaxed, clothing was more comfortable, religion less harsh.

But mostly it was the structure of Indian society that appealed. It was less hierarchical, essentially classless and egalitarian. As the people were nomadic, personal property hardly mattered, since it was limited to what you or your horses could carry.

What changed this natural way of living for humans was first agriculture, then industry. Accumulation of personal property led to people doing what they thought best for themselves, rather than for the common good. But, suggests Junger, we’re not happy like this. We’re wired to the lifestyle of the tribe.

So tribal connectedness really doesn’t need the social construct of race, and yet it frequently and murderously oppressively does. From CBS: “Why 60 Minutes aired photos of lynchings in report by Oprah. The reason behind the broadcast’s decision to show graphic photographs of lynchings in this week’s report by contributor Oprah Winfrey”.

This week on 60 Minutes, Oprah Winfrey gets an early look at the memorial, which will open to the public on April 26. The memorial contains 805 steel markers, one for each county where lynchings occurred for more than 70 years following the Civil War. The markers are suspended in air to evoke the horror of being hanged.

To tell that story on 60 Minutes, Winfrey and a team of producers felt it was important to show historical photos of lynchings, images that are likely to disturb many viewers. In an interview with 60 Minutes Overtime, Denise Schrier Cetta, the producer of the story, and Jeff Fager, the executive producer of the broadcast, explain their decision to air such upsetting photographs.

“I don’t think the story exists without those photos,” Fager says. News executives have a tendency to self-censor too much, he says, out of concern that viewers will be turned off. For him, the decision to show the photos was about reporting important facts about a little-known but important chapter of history.

“That’s reality; that’s what happened,” he tells 60 Minutes Overtime’s Ann Silvio in the video above. “Our story is about a part of history, really almost 80 years of American history, that isn’t in the history books. We don’t see these pictures. We don’t talk about it.”

One photograph that surprises Fager the most is an image of a crowd that showed up in Waco, Texas to watch the lynching of a man named Jesse Washington. The hanging tree stands in the center of the photograph, Washington’s tortured body lies beneath it, and hundreds of well-dressed white people look on.

“I really thought most lynchings were in the cover of night and Klan outfits, and not that it was a part of life to that degree—that the town would turn out to watch it happen in broad daylight,” says Fager, who feels that many viewers will learn a lot from the story.

The Guardian previews a book written on the idea of how tribe of masculine warps young boys. The author of The Shepard’s Hut is an Australian Surfer.  “About the boys: Tim Winton on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny. In an excerpt from a speech about his new book The Shepherd’s Hut, the author says it is men who need to step up and liberate boys from the race, the game, the fight.”

There are a lot more girls in the water these days, and hallellujah for that; I can’t tell you how heartening this is. But I want to focus on the boys for a moment. For what a mystery a boy is. Even to a grown man. Perhaps especially to a grown man. And how easy it is to forget what beautiful creatures they are. There’s so much about them and in them that’s lovely. Graceful. Dreamy. Vulnerable. Qualities we either don’t notice, or simply blind ourselves to. You see, there’s great native tenderness in children. In boys, as much as in girls. But so often I see boys having the tenderness shamed out of them.

Boys and young men are so routinely expected to betray their better natures, to smother their consciences, to renounce the best of themselves and submit to something low and mean. As if there’s only one way of being a bloke, one valid interpretation of the part, the role, if you like. There’s a constant pressure to enlist, to pull on the uniform of misogyny and join the Shithead Army that enforces and polices sexism. And it grieves me to say it’s not just men pressing those kids into service.

These boys in the surf. The things they say to me! The stuff I hear them saying to their mates! Some of it makes you want to hug them. Some of it makes you want to cry. Some of it makes you ashamed to be a male. Especially the stuff they feel entitled or obliged to say about girls and women.

What I’ve come to notice is that all these kids are rehearsing and projecting. Trying it on. Rehearsing their masculinity. Projecting their experimental versions of it. And wordlessly looking for cues the whole time. Not just from each other, but from older people around them, especially the men. Which can be heartbreaking to witness, to tell you the truth. Because the feedback they get is so damn unhelpful. If it’s well-meant it’s often feeble and half-hearted. Because good men don’t always stick their necks out and make an effort.

So what really got me thinking about all of this and finding thread was this late news and the news of IDF snipers targeting children (male) and journalists in an attack on Gaza during protests near the wall.  This is from The BBC about some of the oldest tribes defined by religion still left: “Syria conflict: Israel blamed for attack on airfield”.  People of the Jewish faith have been targets of tribal hostilities for so many thousands of years it’s hard to believe. And yet, they are still capable of these things.  At first, we thought the US was attacking Syria based on the chemical attacks.  Instead, it was a rogue(?) Israel.

Monday’s attack hit the Tiyas airbase, known as T4, near the city of Homs. Observers say 14 people were killed.

Israel, which has previously hit Syrian targets, has not commented. Syria initially blamed the US for the strike.

The incident comes amid international alarm over an alleged chemical attack on a Syrian rebel-held town. The US and France had threatened to respond.

Reportedly, there were Russians and Iranians there. From The Israeli Times a few months back: IDF accuses Iran of setting up air base outside Syrian city of Palmyra.

The Israeli military on Saturday accused Iran of controlling an airbase outside the Syrian city of Palmyra, from which the army said the Iranian drone that was shot down over northern Israel earlier in the day was launched.

“Iran and the [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ special unit] Quds Force for some time have been operating the T-4 Air Base in Syria next to Palmyra, with support from the Syrian military and with permission from the Syrian regime,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Saturday night.

So, it likely was an attack based on a response to that. It’s just hard to know these days.

This comes on the back of two items posted to Facebook feeds from two separate Jewish Friends.  It’s quite odd, but within in my WASPY cocoon it was quite acceptable for me to have many Jewish friends as long as I didn’t try to have a Jewish boyfriends. My mother actually got a call from an angry grandmother matriarch telling her that I needed to leave them to Jewish girls once in high school.  In my neck of WASPishness dating Catholics was much more suspect.  Especially, if they came from Eastern European or Southern European roots.  I wasn’t even allowed to pierce my ears because I’d look like some immigrant baby. See, the rules of tribalism can be very fickle as well as stupid.

From WAPO: “He was wearing a vest marked ‘PRESS.’ He was shot dead covering a protest in Gaza.”

Yaser Murtaja had often filmed from the sky, but he never lived to fulfill his dream of flying on an airplane through the clouds.

The young journalist shot drone images and video for Ain Media, a small Gaza-based news agency he started five years ago. Just two weeks ago, he posted an aerial photo of Gaza City’s port on Facebook. “I wish that the day would come to take this shot when I’m in the air and not on the ground,” he wrote. “My name is Yaser Murtaja. I’m 30 years old. I live in Gaza City. I’ve never traveled!”

It was one of his last posts.

Murtaja, who was married and had a 2-year-old son, died Saturday after being shot the day before while covering protests at the edge of the Gaza Strip.

His work had appeared on networks such as Al Jazeera, and in 2016 he worked as a cameraman for Ai Weiwei’s documentary, “Human Flow,” which covered the global refu­gee crisis, including Palestinians in Gaza. The Chinese visual artist posted photos of Murtaja on his Instagram account on Saturday.

And there as this: “Israeli Citizens Watch As Their Military Attacks Unarmed Palestinians”.

As violence continues to rage along the Israel-Gaza border, an Israeli reporter shared a photo that could only be described as inhumane.

“Best show in town. Residents of Nahal Oz in the stands,” read the caption for the image that showed a group of young Israeli spectators sitting on an observation tower near the Israel-Gaza border line, watching and waving as unarmed Palestinians got brutally murdered and wounded at the hands of Israeli troops.

The images were later shared by Reuters as well.

From Haaretz: “The Cold Calculation Behind the Israeli Army’s Sniper Fire on the Gaza Border. The politicians instructed the military to prevent a breach of the fence, but it’s doubtful that they held detailed discussions about the means to achieve this.”

Testimonies of correspondents on the Israeli side about the rate of firing and Palestinian reports of 800 people wounded attest to quite permissive orders given to the snipers. Even when the area is divided into sectors, commanded by senior officers, an area commander has no close control over the sharpshooters’ every shot. This situation leaves a lot to the discretion of relatively young soldiers, even though they were reinforced by more veteran police and Border Police snipers. The number of casualties was in accordance with these circumstances.

The number of fatalities yet again underscores Israel’s long-standing failure – commented on by the State Comptroller in 2003 and 2017 – to develop nonlethal measures which would be effective in dispersing demonstrations and marches from a relatively large distance.

There seems to be a huge human cost to feeling that sense of belonging you get from a Tribe. And don’t even get my started about the many other gangs and such I’ve written about in the past.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

46 Comments on “Monday Reads: We are still Tribal and Fascinated by Fire”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. Enheduanna says:

    Lots of food for thought here. I look forward to reading The Shepard’s Hut. Thank you for the link and for the Hanine clip. How beautiful (and new to me!).

    • dakinikat says:

      Yeah. Took my longer to work through than I thought it would. Probably the results of a cold, gray, rainy day with lots of just weird news.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    This is a wonderful post, Dak. Thank you. I didn’t see the 60 Minutes interview, but I just want to point out that many black women were lynched. I noticed Quixote pointed out that black women are killed by police today, despite the focus on black men. Misogyny leads to the erasure of women’s history in so many areas.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Politico: Trump vs Putin? Time to Be ‘Scared.’ Global Politico talks Russia, Russia, Russia with journalist Julia Ioffe.

    “I’m very scared,” Ioffe tells me of the brewing confrontation between the two blustery leaders. “The reason I’m scared is because… in the Cold War there were kind of protocols and rules developed and lines of communication, and there were just—the way things were done. … Now … you have two guys, Trump and Putin, who are both painted into a corner, strategically, both at home and geopolitically, who are very prideful. Both very kind of emotional knee-jerk decision makers, to an extent. And I worry that they’re both going to start clawing their way out of their respective corners and that that’s going to lead to a lot of collateral damage.”

    In a confrontation, she argues, Putin may well prove a smarter actor on the world stage than the American president who had started out hoping to be friends. “You know, this isn’t his first rodeo, and this is not his first U.S. president, whereas Trump is still kind of getting his sea legs,” Ioffe says. “And this is kind of the built-in advantage of an autocratic system, where Putin already knows how to do all this, and he’s kind of a better tactician, and kind of a better strategist. And I worry that in this showdown Putin’s going to outmaneuver Trump and the U.S.”

    • NW Luna says:

      Oh yeah. Plus Trump’s got to be beholden to Putin for hacking the election to put him into office. Putins going to be really pissed at Trump chest-thumping at him.

    • quixote says:

      If it’s between Putin and Trump, Putin wins hands down. So many hands down, in fact, he’ll look like a centipede.

      But it’s not just the two dictators. Putin has his little circle of bootlickers and that’s all he’s got.

      The Dump, even though he’s doing his best to get rid of everybody, lives in the US. There are smart experienced people scattered throughout the military, diplomatic service, intelligence agencies.

      Plus there are people in other countries who still care about what the US once stood for and are willing to help. Russia hasn’t stood for anything except kleptocracy in decades. Russia has to buy people to get any cooperation, and that kind of person is always very much “what have you done for me lately.” They don’t stay bought.

      We just have to see whether Dump’s stupidity and the misgyny and racism of his base is enough to outweigh all the good people on the other side.

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. NW Luna says:

    Hell to the No! Just when most Bernedbrainers had figured out they were fooled, we get another left-rightwing nutcase. Go home and knit, Dennis! You lost!

    The Vindication of Dennis Kucinich

    “Kucinich was ahead of his time in terms of having that progressive politics before it’s popular, before it’s cool,” says Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution, the national progressive advocacy group born out of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. (Our Revolution has endorsed Kucinich in the governor’s race, though Sanders himself has not taken a position.)

    But Kucinich didn’t just anticipate where the left was headed. He previewed elements of where the right was going, too. “I have multitudes of humanity within me,” Kucinich has said, paraphrasing Walt Whitman, and those multitudes reflect both the rainbow utopianism of Sanders and the working-class populism of President Trump’s campaign (if not always his administration). Kucinich — who spent some of his time away from elected office serving as a Fox News contributor — is a rare politician who is now occupying that sweet spot where Sandersism meets elements of Trumpism. He is not the only sentinel posted at this curious crossroads, but he may be the most prominent one currently running for office.

    • NW Luna says:

      “Sweet spot.” Journalist mis-typed “vile spot.”

      • quixote says:

        I find myself reaching for my tin foil hat all the time these days.

        1) We know Putin keeps trying to divide and infosmog the left and center.

        2) When Bernout is finally getting played out, whoosh!, suddenly Kucinich reappears from whatever crypt he lives in.

        In Britain, their Bernie-analog is Corbyn, who ootched himself into leadership over a more qualified woman, who was quietly pro-Brexit which is Putin’s priority, and now is making a pig’s breakfast of antisemitism which is dividing the hell out of the opposition.

        I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the Ministry of Infosmog is dropping strategic nuggets of toxin on these and other issues that cause division.

        If Twitter and Facebook weren’t so busy monetizing outrage, they could be flagging shitstirring accounts in real time. Then at least we’d *know* when someone was trying to manipulate us in time for it to be useful.

  8. Enheduanna says:

    US Attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York raids Michael Cohen’s office:

    Grab the popcorn….

  9. bostonboomer says:

    I was just about to zone out when I heard about the Michael Cohen raid.

    Wa Po: FBI seizes records related to Stormy Daniels in raid of Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s office.

    His home was also raided by FBI “They took everything.”

  10. Fannie says:

    The Iceman has arrived for Trump’s number one lawyer! Did you see Trump’s syphilitic face, hear his snorting, and watch him with folded hands, saying this is an attack on America? I keep hearing the sounds of Russian Money too.

    • dakinikat says:

      • Fannie says:

        Yeah, sweating bullets he was.

      • dakinikat says:

        • NW Luna says:

          In the WaPo comments about Trump’s tirade is this gem:

          Just out of curiosity, I ran Trump’s tirade on an online reading level analyzer. Here are the results:

          Based on 8 readability formulas, we have scored your text:
          Grade Level: 6
          Reading Level: fairly easy to read.
          Reader’s Age: 10-11 yrs. olds (Fifth and Sixth graders)

          There’s more info:

          Total # of words with single syllables: 750 (out of 1012 words)
          Percent of single syllables in text: 74%

          Total # of words with double syllables: 169
          Percent of double syllables in text: 17%

          The average reader in the US is 7th-8th grade, 12-14 years old.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

  12. bostonboomer says:

    During the campaign!

  13. dakinikat says:

  14. Mary Brown says:

    During the entire 60 Minutes piece, I kept wondering if anyone would mention the elephant in the room: we’re not talking about “white people” looking on and executing lynchings – we’re talking about white MEN. In all those photos I dare anyone to find a woman in the crowd of watchers or murderers. Maybe one? There was a photo of a woman who was lynched. It was so obvious, I couldn’t figure why it wasn’t mentioned.

    • quixote says:

      Yes. Funny, by which I mean gruesome, how that works.

      Total refusal to name the problem. Problem persists. Big surprise.


    • NW Luna says:

      Because misogyny is so prevalent it’s taken as the norm and as such seems invisible.

    • dakinikat says:

      White and black women were lynched. White women were lynched for being too friendly to black me and black women were lynched for all kinds of things too .

      Document 7: “The Anti-Lynching Crusaders: The Lynching of Women,” [1922], NAACP Papers, Part 7: The Anti-Lynching Campaign, 1912-1955, Series B: Anti-Lynching Legislative and Publicity Files, 1916-1955, Library of Congress (Microfilm, Reel 3, Frames 570-73).

      In this and the following four documents, the organizers of the Anti-Lynching Crusaders articulated their objectives and imagined the form their organization would take. The horror of lynching and the prevalence of this crime had moved these women to action. While undated, this document and documents 8 and 9 were likely written in June or July of 1922 as the Crusaders took shape.

      In this document the Crusaders spelled out their position on lynching and sought to dispel prevalent myths about lynch victims. Typically lynch victims were black men, but in this document, like several others reproduced in this project, the Crusaders emphasized the incidence of lynchings where women — black and white — were the victims. They asked: “how many people realize that since 1889 eighty-three women are known to have been lynched?” and included graphic descriptions of selected lynchings alongside statistics revealing the numbers of black and white women who had been lynched. The authors also sought to undermine the belief that lynching was typically a punishment doled out to rapists or attempted rapists. In only 16.6 per cent of lynchings, they argued, were lynch victims accused of rape. Moreover, the narratives they provided pointed to the prevalence of white men’s sexual abuse of African-American women and its connection to mob violence against blacks.

      BB got me intrigued about this.

  15. NW Luna says:

  16. NW Luna says:

    Interesting about the wanting to stay in one place being viewed as a “backyard prison.” I think it depends on the place and the person. For me, I love staying in place. I don’t want to live anywhere other than where I am now, which is where I was born, grew up, went to college and have my work. When I say in the same place, I mean in the general region rather than the city I’m in now (which has changed dramatically, and not always for the better, over the last several decades).

    I grew up in an extremely rural area a couple of hours from where I live now. I spent most of my free times either reading or running around in the woods around our house, learning about plants and animals and birds and rocks. Both my parents went mountaineering and hiking, and took us kids out camping and hiking. I find Nature fascinating, and I love the mountain terrain here, and exploring its different regions. Sameness? Maybe. Boring? No.

    I’ve visited other places, and find some of them enjoyable. I like learning about other areas and cultures, their history and arts, and I have places in this and other countries I want to visit. But I am of the evergreen tribe. The trees and flowers, trails and mountains here are in my blood.

  17. NW Luna says:

    MAGA = My Attorney Got Arrested.

    h/t: someone on Twitter.

    • quixote says:

      ZOMG! Everybody forgot about that! The entire DOJ, Mueller’s office, NY AGs, FBI, they’re all going, “Oooops.”

      (The problem with the Dump dumping talking points to his base is that the rest of us have to notice this drivel. I understand Facebook has very sophisticated targeting they can use. Maybe he could just broadcast on their dogwhistle channel?)

    • NW Luna says:

      Ergh. I left out the quote I was going to excerpt from that linked article, and now that I’m a bit more awake I think I put in the wrong article URL anyhow.

  18. NW Luna says:

    Hmmm, something something about an emoluments clause is in the back of my mind. If Obama had done this the Rs would have already impeached him. The corruption stinks.

    Lawyers representing President Trump’s company last month wrote directly to the president of Panama, asking him to intervene in a legal fight over the Trump International Hotel in the capital — and warning that the case could have “repercussions” for Panama’s reputation.

    The law firm, Panama-based Britton and Iglesias, wrote in Spanish to President Juan Carlos Varela on March 22 to “urgently request your influence in relation to a commercial dispute regarding the Trump hotel.”

    At the time, the majority owner of the Trump hotel — Cypriot-born investor Orestes Fintiklis — had kicked out the Trump Organization as the hotel’s manager, after a ruling from a low-level Panamanian judge. The president’s company was seeking to retake control.

    The request was extraordinary: The U.S. president’s company was asking the leader of a U.S. ally to intercede on its behalf, disregarding Panama’s separation of powers.