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letters

Letters about the controversial and the mundane this time

Radio stations

Reading your newspaper, I noticed a request for interesting online radios stations.

Our provincial (Alberta, Canada) community radio, CKUA, (www.ckua.com) is Canada's oldest (since 1926) public broadcaster. It features eclectic music, including Canada's oldest blues program (circa 1968), jazz, world music, folk, etc. The music is not played-listed, each announcer chooses their own programming (for better or for worse), but with an incredibled library to choose from, the results are often good.

My favorite programmer is currently Lionel Rault whose program runs 0900 to 1200 Mon-Fri, plus Saturday evening 1900 to 2100 (MDT which I think is GMT-6) if you are thinking of sampling. Also, there are two blues programs of note, Friday night 2100-2400, and Saturday 1500-1700.

This a community-supported radio station, but has had to allow some minimal advertising since all government funding ceased some ten years back.

If you are looking for a great jazz-only station, you can't beat KCSM (San Mateo) for 24/7 great jazz programming.

Eric Gilliland

2-Ten bypass

I noted with interest your comment about your 2-Ten button link and deactivation. Naturally curious and still possessing my childhood response to being told "no," I tried the link button. It told me of the problem exactly as you had reported and further suggested to me that my US internet address appeared to be outside of the UK.

When 2-Ten proceeded to offer to bypass my apparent address if I submitted a corrected "proper UK postal code address," I could not possibly resist such an urge. Staines Middlesex, just outside London, at Postal Code TW18 4UP, works well.

On another matter entirely, I enjoy reading the Panama News very much although I cannot really comprehend the extent of your reported Panamian political machinations. In fact, they are rather troubling to me. Much more so than our own home grown varieties. I say troubling because we are having an apartment built there and we intend to live in Panama at least a few months per year. I've always maintained a decent level of political and social awareness but Panamanian, perhaps simply Latin American, potitics seems to be in a league of its own. I guess that I will find out the comparisons soon enough.

There was a time years ago, while living in Texas that I remember US Representative Henry B. Gonzales literally slugging it out on the entrance steps to the venerable Washington DC instuitution. Maybe the US with its plethora of corporate crooks, Tom DeLays and public fisticuffs is just another garden variety of Panamanian unqualified judges, selectively released public information, etc. that you face.

Anyway, keep up your good work.

Tom Tyler

Editor's note: I have for the time being replaced 2-Ten with a station from Dublin, Ireland, but I am still looking for good Internet radio stations and may, if I get enough worthy suggestions, add another row of buttons to the bottom of the front page. I look at the over-40 demographic profile that fits most of the readers of this website and take it into consideration in this selection process, but really, I want to have things that appeal to other age groups as well. Are there lines to be drawn? Of course there are --- somewhere this side of Rush Limbaugh and elevator muzak.

Is that a flying ultra Panamax?

Thank you for your interesting article "Panama Canal expansion project selectively hyped."

Potentially, is that a flying ultra Panamax at the following website:
http://www.chairforce.com/news-files/stories/2005/oct/CHAFE-1008.htm?

Let's hope that the canal is properly expanded, by not over expanding and increasing the financial and business risk involved.

Name withheld

Questions, comments about last issue's letters

Editor's note: Much to my embarrassment, the racist letter that provoked so much comment was a hoax perpetrated by some sick individual, and by falling for it I became a party to defaming the person whose false signature was affixed to it. For that I am deeply sorry. It was, however, one example of the hate mail that's constantly directed at me and The Panama News. Whether such things should be published, and how any letter's real connection to its purported author can be verified are things that need to be reviewed.

Endangered species in a can?

It's common knowledge that we are running out of oil. What's not so well known is that we are also running out of big fish.

The harsh realization that catches of big fish‹marlin, sharks, swordfish and tuna are declining rapidly is beginning to sink in. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization considers about 75 percent of all fish fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted.

The crisis can be seen most extremely across the Pacific, the world's largest source of tuna, where catches are shrinking along with the average size of the fish. Today a 70-pound swordfish which is too young to have even reproduced is considered "a good sized fish" and can be legally landed in the United States. Just a few short decades ago the same fish averaged 300-400 pounds and could be caught close to shore with a harpoon.

In the past two years, the Pacific has seen quotas, restrictions on catches, freezes on effort and even moratoriums. The US longline fleet had to shut down for the second half of 2005 in the Eastern Pacific. Japan and China were not far behind.

Just last December, the new international body with the unwieldy name Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission imposed a freeze on further efforts to catch bigeye and albacore. Throughout the Pacific, it is widely documented that these two species have recently joined the lucrative southern bluefin tuna on the overfished list. In fact, southern bluefin already has a step up on its cousins and is considered an endangered species by the World Conservation Union. Shameful shark finning has also caused numerous shark species to plummet as well and a few sharks such as the great white to be considered vulnerable to extinction.

All told, recent scientific reports document that the biomass of these large fish have declined by about 90 percent in the Pacific since 1950 --- about the time that new technologies allowed us to fish further from shore for longer and catch more fish. Since then, technology has eviscerated those last areas of the ocean safe from us only because we were unable to reach them and stay there.

The recent announcement last month by the US government that yellowfin tuna is also being overfished in Pacific will undoubtedly send a shockwave throughout the United States and the Pacific region.

We are now faced with incontrovertible evidence that the lions and tigers of the sea --- the ones we feed our children for lunch --- are disappearing fast.

Imagine the day when cans of tuna, a staple food source for millions of Americans, can no longer be found. According to the warning signs that day may already be here.

That's bad news for the dozens of impoverished Pacific island nations that have leased their national waters for pennies on the dollar to foreign industrial longline vessels to catch and export their fish primarily to the United States, Japan and the European Union. For some of these nations, these meager licensing fees contribute as much as 70 percent of their GDP. When greed and waste finally leads to collapse of these fish, millions of people throughout the Pacific will sink even further into poverty. Canneries are already cutting their hours or even shutting down for want of fish. Stories of crews mutinying or being abandoned in foreign countries by captains who couldn't pay them abound.

The days of three cans of tuna for a $1, a vivid memory from my childhood, are long gone.

The way out of this crisis is to catch less and pay more while staying out of critical areas of the ocean. It only seems fair that the countries with the resources should receive a far larger share of their $2 billion a year resource and still have some of the big fish around to attract far more lucrative game fishing tourism. The US has taken the right step by restricting longline fishing for tuna in the Eastern Pacific and banning it on the West Coast. Now it's time to put the pressure on other countries to do the same.

Otherwise we may start having to add these fish to the endangered species list.

Robert Ovetz, PhD

The author is the Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator with the US-based Sea Turtle Restoration Project. He can be reached at robert@seaturtles.org

Blasphemy and other comments

The Christian world has just celebrated Easter, the greatest event in the Catholic Church. Through God's crucifixion, dying on the cross and his subsequent resurrection on Easter Sunday proved without a doubt that there is salvation for all mankind. God's love is so great for all of us that he permitted his son Jesus to endure the ultimate sacrifice of crucifixion on the cross. He didn't do it for only one group of people but for all races, creeds and religious groups.

Jesus did it all for love! John 15:13 tells us that "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." So I say why waste our time with frivolous commentary... for life is too short! Even if one lives to be a hundred years old that would only equate to barely one second in eternity. (I have this from a very reliable source.)

Now the greatest blasphemy will be put upon us by Hollywood at a theater nearest you with the release next month of the movie the Da Vinci code. It is all a fabrication and the ultimate lie that Christians around the world are being subjected to in modern times. Who says that the persecution of the Catholic Church throughout the world is dead? It is still alive and the movie the Da Vinci Code proves that men still sell their souls for thirty pieces of silver.

I just wonder if this irresponsible and offensive movie will be shown in Panama.

Now in your position as editor you may want to separate fact from fiction so I direct you to the below web site on cracking the Da Vinci Code:
http://www.catholic.com/library/cracking_da_vinci_code.asp<http://www.catholic.com/library/cracking_da_vinci_code.asp.

To paraphrase one of the greatest liars in world history: "... Lie often enough and loud enough and some people will begin to believe the lie." --- Adolph Hitler

Not that I admire Adolph Hitler but as that great ancient warrior in his "Art of War" Sun Tzu stated: "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."

So, I say stay alert for we do not know the hour when we will be called from this life.

Final Thoughts:

John chapter 3 "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life."

John 3:16-18 also shows that Christ is the only begotten of the Father: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

Life is very short... eternity isn't. --- God

God bless you and yours,

Louis J. Barbier
Largo, Florida

PS: Hope you had a most enjoyable Easter Sunday.

Editor's note: While so many of my neighbors headed for the beach over the long Easter weekend, I stayed in the city and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Alas, one of my reasons for staying in Panama City was to get up early on Sunday and catch the beautiful Easter Sunrise Service at the Museo Afroantillano, both as a reporter for the community section and because I like the music and spirit of Panama's West Indian churches --- but I overslept and missed it.

Looking for lost relatives

I hope you can help me. Can you PLEASE tell me how to find an obituary or any information on a STELLA NEWBOLD FRAMPTON. We are not exact about the last name but she was a relative and we think she passed away in the 1980s. ANY IDEAS?? I do find her name from Balboa High School, class of 1926. We are trying to find possible family.

We appreciate ANY help you can give me!

Mary & Gary Newbold
7015 Biscayne Ave.
White Lake, Michigan 48383
USA
GMNewbold@comcast.net

Maid

I need some help can you please tell me where I can find out the rules for a maid, what I am talking about is like vacation, time off for sick leave and other things. I am sorry to bother you with this but I have tried everything I know. Thank you for your help.

Freddie J. Kimball
Retired US Military
David Panama  

 Editor's note: These things are found in Panama's Labor Code, which I don't believe is published in English translation but can be found in many bookstores in Spanish. (Maybe at or near the UNACHI campus in David there will be copies for sale to students who need to study these things.)

Although I practiced law in the USA for a number of years, I am not a lawyer in Panama and my layman's observations about the law here are not to be taken as a substitute for proper legal counsel.

Basically if your maid works full-time she will acquire certain rights after 90 days on the job. In Panama a worker who falls ill or is injured has a right to his or her job back when he or she gets better. You may not fire a worker for taking maternity leave. Here you generally pay your regular workers 13 months of wages for 11 months of work, with the "13th month" salary that's paid in three installments throughout the year and the paid vacation time. Part-timers, agricultural workers and domestic employees don't have all of the legal protections that many other workers have.

Especially in the Interior, there are really two competing employment systems, the traditional semi-feudal padron and servant relationship and the modern arrangement according to the Labor Code. Understand that there are certain benefits for the employees in each. A padron worthy of the name makes sure that the servant's kids have their school textbooks provided, that the employee's family has a ham or a turkey or equivalent for Christmas and in general acts as a protector and benefactor of the servant and the servant's family. These things are not provided for in the Labor Code. A very easy way for a foreigner to get a bad reputation in the community in which he or she settles is to "cherry pick" the advantages of each system, to the disadvantage of the employee. If the expatriate thinks it's OK to unduly interfere in the maid's personal life but can't be bothered with her personal and familial needs, and neither pays minimum wage nor Seguro Social nor undertakes any of the obligations of a padron, word will get around and it will make life here less pleasant and more difficult.

Another more usual reality, however, is that most Americans tend to be better tippers and possessed of a more generous sense of ethics in labor relations than is the case with most Panamanians of comparable means. There are horror stories from both parties' perspectives about gringos and their maids, but those are a minority of cases. The truth is that a lot of Panamanians would prefer to work for Americans because they tend to be treated better.

In any case, I'm the sort of guy who is accustomed to doing my own laundry, cooking and dishwashing, such that I have limited personal experience hiring maids and maintaining that sort of labor-management relationship. Some of you readers out there would surely have more knowledge and more detailed advice for Mr. Kimball than I have offered, or may disagree with what I have written. Further discussion of this aspect of life in Panama is welcome in the letters section.

 

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