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Once you’ve decided to retire down here…

Public health studies have for many years consistently shown that your lifespan after you retire from your formal relationship with the labor market depends a great deal on what you then do with your life. Given that Panama is rightfully touted --- though unfortunately too often oversold to ridiculous lengths --- as a good place to retire, people who are thinking in those terms need to think not only about the warm climate and cheaper cost of living, but about what to do when they stop working.

So what does the above photograph have to do with the above paragraph?

Well, two things, actually. First, the kitten shown above reflects the retirement lifestyle of Pat Chan, the retired former chief financial planner for the Panama Canal. She’s busy running Spay/Panama now, doing what she had long wanted to do. It’s the lead story in our community section. Second, various medical studies over the years indicate that having a pet in your household will on the average help you live longer. So bringing this little calico kitty or someone like her into your life just might be the key to both your happiness and your longevity.

(There can be, of course, an offset in the other direction if your retirement is marred by getting ripped off by one of the real estate hustlers lurking in wait of unsuspecting victims, or putting out lures with hidden hooks on the Internet. Recently I was accused of unfair competition in the real estate business by a British fraud artist who was making some outlandish misrepresentations about things like the proximity of the Panamanian real estate developments that he’s promoting to major hospitals. Ha! I have never owned real estate and am not now nor have I ever been in that business. But I am in the business of informing the public and I do have this pet peeve about having my intelligence insulted. My advice to those persons abroad who are thinking about retiring here is to come to Panama, look around, ask around and if buying property deal with a reputable lawyer who’s independent of the one representing the seller. Coming here with your eyes wide open and without illusions is the best way to avoid being disillusioned with Panama.)

This issue’s travel section shows the lay of the land in one of Panama’s favorite retirement places, El Valle, and the outdoors pages take us to a beautiful spot along the way, Cerro Campana National Park.

World leaders have just concluded the largest gathering of heads of state ever held, the 2005 United Nations Summit that addressed some crucial reform issues. In our opinion section we include the things that Panamanian President Martín Torrijos and US President George W. Bush had to say on the occasion.

The big news in Panama this time, as is usually the case, is economic. The price of gasoline is at an all-time high and it’s the cause of a certain amount of the social unrest that can occasionally be encountered when driving merrily on one’s way about Panama. The government and Panama Ports, the latter a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, have settled their dispute, essentially by rolling back the windfall that Mireya Moscoso gave the company.

From reading the international papers, one might think that Panama is preoccupied with the fate of yesteryear’s dictator, one Manuel Antonio Noriega. The US Bureau of Prisons has given him a September 2007 parole date, but he has been tried in absentia and has Panamanian prison terms yet hanging over his head. People in the government really don’t want to talk about it. My own opinion is that while General Noriega more or less did what US prosecutors said that he did, and certainly was a brutal kleptocrat when he ran this country, his trial in the United States was outrageous because it was marred by the wholesale bribery of witnesses by the prosecution. (Yes, I know --- most but not all federal circuit appeals courts have held that if a prosecutor buys a witness it’s by definition not bribery.) The man has spent a lot of years behind bars for his crimes and I think it would be best for Panama if he does not return here --- not as a prisoner, and certainly not as a free man --- if and when he leaves his current American residence. Panama has taken in more than its share of former tyrants and the rest of the world ought to return the favor in this instance.

Anyway, understand that this is not the main thing on most people’s minds down here. We are far more interested in where this country’s young people will find jobs, whether mosquitoes breeding in the trash people throw around our neighborhoods will make us sick and how much it will cost us to get from point A to point B. Plus, October is approaching and it’s very much in the air whether we will see Mariano Rivera pitching in post-season play.

We will know whether the Yankees can come from behind and take their division from the Red Sox, or get a wild card ticket to the playoffs, by the time that the next issue appears. That’s because there are five Fridays in September, which means that that there will be a three-week interval before the next edition of this twice per month publication is uploaded.

Finally, I want to point out a few new regular features that have been added to The Panama News this time.

At the bottom of our sports pages, we have new buttons for the country’s American football website and that of ANAPROF, the nation’s professional soccer league. Time and resources have kept The Panama News from covering the sports scene nearly as well as I’d like, but now you can at least find out who’s playing when and where in these two popular spectator sports.

At the bottom of the news pages there are now buttons for two more of this country’s English-language publications, The Bocas Breeze and Boquete’s Bajareque Times. These papers cover the western end of the country where The Panama News doesn’t go nearly as much as it ought to.

And just as soon as you are done reading these words, look below. I have added links to 15 online radio stations. I have tried to offer a good selection of musical genres so that if you have a broadband connection you will want to listen to the music while you read The Panama News. I am open to suggestions for different Internet radio links.

Enjoy.

Eric Jackson
the editor

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Build a home in Las Cumbres with Villa Concordia --- http://www.thepanamanews.com/pn/site/pages/concordia.html
Make the Executive Hotel your headquarters in Panama City --- http://www.executivehotel-panama.com
Find the boat of your dreams through Evermarine --- http://www.evermarine.com