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Volume 14, Number 13
July 14, 2008

front page

Production of the next issue is underway: click here to see what's up
An interview with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
Dolphin capture scheme collapses

Photo taken on Avenida Central pedestrian mall by Jose F. Ponce

Life goes on in Panama

So it is with a boy and his birds, and with everyone else who inhabits our isthmus. These days it's costing more, too, and that's a special cause of discontent for most people. You can cut a few corners by cooking your own desserts, growing a garden or catching your dinner from the sea, but the costs of doing all of those things are up, too.

You can go out less, take time to appreciate the flowers, and content yourself with some of life's cheaper pleasures, bearing in mind that even the most determined flower cutters are limited in what they can do.

You could do what you can to get an opposition candidate elected --- but if you are not a Panamanian citizen the law has been changed so that you now can't contribute money to this country's political campaigns.

You could get angry, walk off the job and take your grievance to the streets. But then you'd want to consult with your fellow workers and citizens to coordinate your strike with everyone else's. Easier said than done --- there are a lot of egos, ideologies and organizational ambitions that can get in the way. Plus, the government is remilitarizing, and there's a ugly history about that down here. Moreover, it may not be the government who's stopping you at a roadblock and checking your name against a blacklist of people whose movements are to be extra-legally controlled.

The economic situation is also getting tight for big business, the government and the Panama Canal Authority. Leave it to the dynamics of election time smash and grab imperatives, however: now they're talking about a $100 million tunnel extension of the Cinta Costera under the Casco Viejo, and we are just now hearing the first faint cries of protest that are going to become a deafening roar as people who live or do business near the project begin to realize the full implications of the government's intention to make the neighbors pay for this boondoggle via a special assessment on their properties.

So life goes on, and its complications may force most of us to live a bit more simply. Of course, those of you who know poverty first-hand will realize that getting by while being poor requires a lot of extra work and creativity.

*     *     *

Life goes on, but in a precarious state, for John Carlson. He's a prominent figure in Panama's English-speaking community, having played major roles in such important community institutions of ours as the Panama Historical Society and the Theatre Guild of Ancon. John suffered a household fall and suffered a serious head injury. As these words were written he was in intensive care at Paitilla Hospital and had a whole community concerned about him. We're all pulling for your speedy and complete recovery, John.

*     *     *

This website's makeover is taking agonizingly long, so we are still stuck with sections that have annoying links to stories that aren't yet done. If you go to a story that isn't there, go elsewhere on the website and come back later.

This issue marks another combination of sections. What used to be our outdoors and science, health & technology sections are now part of the combined nature section.

The Panama News is also getting into embedded videos and will eventually be putting up some exclusive and original things from Panama. In this issue's news we have the Colombian Army's video of the recent hostage rescue. As in the past few issues, our Cool Internet sites feature includes a Panamanian music video, this time a cumbia jam by Las Plumas Negras. We also have another "underground" Panamanian music video, Kafu Banton's tribute to Al Iromi Smith and lament about Colon, "Vivo en el Ghetto."

*     *     *

As these words were written, the Supreme Court has yet to publish its decision by which Mireya Moscoso's pardons of 183 people, myself included, were nullified.

Recall that I was accused of criminal defamation by San Cristobal Land Development SA, a Bocas del Toro teak and noni plantation scam whose proprietor Tom McMurrain just had a change of residence --- the US Bureau of Prisons just moved him from Atlanta Federal Penitentiary to Talladega Federal Correctional Institute. As I understood it the case was about to be dismissed when Mireya pardoned me, and as I understand it all of the cases in which the pardons have been revoked --- including those of dozens of journalists --- will have to be reviewed on their separate merits.

My attorney, friend, mayoral candidate and regular contributor to The Panama News Miguel Antonio Bernal told me that he thinks that besides humoring Havana by technically reversing the pardons of Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, a major reason for the ruling was to block a few people from running for office by reviving criminal convictions for this or that offense. (While there are people, theoretically including the Panamanian government, pressing for Posada's extradition to Panama, it's unlikely that the Bush administration would ever do such a thing.)

I am annoyed with the high court's ruling and tempted to file some motions that might make some prosecutors and judges do some extra work and some of Mr. McMurrain's accomplices --- not only in swindles against third persons here, but also in an extortion attempt against me, wherein McMurrain and his cohorts attempted to use the charges against me to force me to sell The Panama News to him. Also understand that McMurrain, a white racists from Georgia, had his own little private militia called the Angel Patrol in Bocas, and that in this pathetic William Walker-like pretension he had the support of a number of local and national government officials.

*     *     *

Mark August 20 on your calendar. That's the date of my court hearing to fend off a fresher criminal defamation charge, this one brought by Mark Boswell alias Rex Freeman --- the guy who made the stunning revelation that it wasn't Tim McVeigh but Bill Clinton who blew up the Oklahoma City federal Building, who is now down here promoting an illegal unregistered investment fund that he claims yields a 26 percent per month return on investment.

(It MUST be true --- Don Winner and Roger Gallo vouch for this guy's financial expertise. If people like that say that a guy who served time for fraud in Colorado and has a Costa Rican warrant out for his arrest and you believe them, then maybe it might do you some good to climb up to the top of that great pyramid and find out for yourself that it's of the Aztec persuasion --- one of those where they cut your heart out with a sharp stone knife.)

*     *     *

A timely reminder to all the American citizens living in Panama. It's months before November, but if you intend to exercise your rights and vote in the November election, you should be getting your ballot applications in now. Each state has different rules, and both the US and Panamanian mail systems are slow, so act early to ensure your franchise.


Eric Jackson
the editor

PS: People who are on The Panama News email list are notified as new articles are uploaded onto this website, as the production cycle bears an ever more tenuous relationship to the stated dates of any particular issue. Send me an email asking to subscribe if you want to get on the email list.

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