sorts of letters, from all over, in the box this time
Don't miss your chance to
The annual Bid4Boquete fundraiser
is Saturday and Sunday,
February 11 and 12. If you haven't marked your calendars and made plans
to attend, please do so now. Yo (heart) Boquete 2012, is a
February 11 kicks the weekend off
with an art show of
multi-media offerings, including designer jewelry, by artists from
throughout Panama. The art show is open to the public at the BCP Event
Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The wine tasting and live auction
Saturday night is sold out.
Sunday's events begin at 1 p.m.:
Silent auction, closes at 5 p.m.;
Plant sale featuring heliconias,
orchids and bromeliads, as
well as more familiar garden and house plants;
Craft and used book sale;
Children's games and activities
(so the adults can shop and
Food court including a full bar;
Raffles. Raffle tickets are $3
each or two for $5. The lucky
winners will take home a basket of wine and liquors from Canavaggio's
worth more than $240, a refrigerator, or share 50/50 in a cash pot with
Bid4Boquete. You do not have to be present to win a raffle --- but you
do need to buy your tickets. Raffle tickets are available at the
Tuesday morning market in Boquete.
Last year's event raised more
than $60,000 and was divided
among several organizations serving the needs of Boquete and
Potrerillos. More than 100 volunteers have been working for months now
to collect donations and organize the activities, and we have already
received more than $73,000 in donated goods and services and almost
$15,000 in cash donations. More than $6,000 of donated items have
already been purchased online.
Our largest corporate sponsors,
Banco General, Banco Nacional
and Boquete Quality Properties, have pledged a total of $10,000. Be
sure and thank them next time you are in town.
Visit our Auction Item page to
see the amazing list of goods
and services that more than 300 donors have offered this year: Trips,
resort packages, airline tickets, wine, legal services, tours, fishing
trips, accounting help, fertilizer ... the items range from the
practical to the luxurious and there is, really, something for
everyone. You can bid online now to secure something you just must
have. Go to the website and enter your bid for the full value and the
item is yours. Or, start the bidding now, online, and you might just
get a bargain.
What we need now is for you to
attend. Help Bid4Boquete meet
its goal of raising $75,000 this year to benefit those in need. One
hundred percent of proceeds from the sale go to beneficiaries. Come out
to see the art work and jewelry for sale on Saturday. Plan to bring the
family and spend Sunday afternoon enjoying the fun and excitement of
this annual event. Kick off on Sunday is at 1 p.m. at the BCP Event
Center and across the bridge at the Boquete Feria. See you there!
Video by stringers for TeleSur
You should put this on your page.
Nature photography course in
I, Jerry Bauer, will be back in
Panama in September doing a
nature photography course in cooperation with ANCON and the Mesoamerica
Society for Biology and Conservation. The society will hold its annual
congress at Hotel Panama September 17 to 21, and the photo course will
be held September 15 to 16. The course will be held in Spanish. We have
done this course for three years and it is very successful.
The course is open to everyone
and our objective is to teach
photography as a tool for conservation. All of my efforts and those of
my team are donated and all fees for the course go to the Mesoamerica
Society for Biology and Conservation.
In addition to the photo course
we will also be sponsoring a
photo contest for society members and a photo festival, "Mesoamerica...
es," with a one-hour photo presentation from a different professional
photographer each day of the congress about conservation and nature in
Central America. We have been doing the photo contest for about 10
years and the photo festival for three years.
I am still taking a lot of
photos. Last year I was recognized
by the North American Nature Photography Association for using
photography to support conservation efforts in Central America. They
awarded me the "NANPA Mission Award," which recognizes outstanding
accomplishments in using photography to support conservation and
nature. Now I am working a lot in the Dominican Republic with
ecotourism and doing a lot of marketing and promotion for small
community ecotourism activities.
Another video request
Please pass this on.
Religious liberty 9, President
I commend the US Supreme Court
for unanimously ruling that religious bodies can and should set their
own standards for hiring ministers, free from government interference.
The decision effectively shoots down President Obama's latest attempt
to control and suppress religious freedom in America.
The separation of church and
state prevents government bureaucrats from deciding who will preach and
teach any religious faith. Had the government won the case, not even
the Pope would have been safe from Big Brother!
The strength of a nation is not
found in the Democratic view, which is to increase dependence on
government, but in the view that champions limited government,
religious freedom and personal responsibility.
The task of the state is not to
consolidate and exercise power, but merely to regulate human life in
society, creating a balance of freedom and good things that allows each
individual to lead a life worthy of man. Its role is to safeguard the
rights of each individual and the welfare of all. Failing to limit
itself thusly, it posits itself as something absolute.
James Madison recognized
religious freedom as a fundamental right that precedes the state and
which cannot be severely curtailed or denied by it. Put more broadly,
and as Pope John Paul II put it, religious freedom is the "first
freedom." It is "the premise and guarantee of all freedoms that ensure
the common good."
President Obama built his
election campaign around "the audacity of hope." "Hope" is a virtue,
not an emotional crutch or a political slogan. Real hope is not found
in the kind of optimism that demands blind servility to the government,
but rather in the compassion of hearts and enterprising spirit of
Is this erotic? A wmv from El
Chombo de Panama. Click here.
Peace of mind
War is too commonplace a scene
around the world. Some of us have been spared, even though the mass
media reduces this remoteness, which hurts those who live there, but
images on a full stomach are always painless.
As often happens, for good and
for bad, a minority will push a majority. The passions moving a few
will lead many others to take up arms and devastate everything in their
way, without distinguishing between fighters or simple citizens. Women
and children get the worst of it in wars, wars whose underlying reasons
they never get to understand clearly, and that seem to have no end.
And when peace arrives, if at
all, not everything is over yet. As spectators, it may seem to us that
peace simply arrives when there is no more warfare news on TV, when the
demonstrations of a people harassed by cold, famine, and the militia's
submachine guns stop hitting the headlines; but peace needs time to
settle down in daily life. Just like with a catastrophe, the worst may
be about to happen.
I remember a painting by Van
Gogh, in which a crouching father waits with open arms for the first
steps of a small child being held by its mother, his wife. The
background is half a family garden and half an orchard. It is a true
symbol of that peace we all long for, and which seems so hard to find,
not only around the world, but also within our own families, or the
inner peace of the inhabitants of a world which keeps chasing after who
Peace requires coming back home,
rebuilding houses and, above all, mending hearts. Peace is not only a
fireplace burning under a roof; it is also enjoying peace of mind, not
feeling hatred for others, forgetting grudges against your neighbor,
and seeing a hopeful future. That peace of heart requires patience and
support. Such peace is likely to be achieved only by children, since it
will not be easy for adults to forget how much they have suffered, to
forget those who have lost their lives along the way, those who cannot
come back anymore.
For us, our ancestors have
already gone through all of this, and it seemed as if the children we
were then had actually found the necessary peace. Certainly our
parents, active players in suffering, knew how to go on, leaving
grudges on their way.
But, as usual, a few want to move
many to rekindle hatred and resentment, to open old, healed wounds.
Life as an expat in Panama
I'm curious what is life like for
Americans interested in relocating to the Republic of Panama?
note: There are all sorts of different kinds of Americans, with all
sorts of different preferences and needs.
Myself, I was
born here to American parents, so it was different for me to come back
than for somebody who is not a Panamanian citizen to move here.
If you come
here without illusions and do prudent things, there will be annoyances
but this is a great place to live. If you come here with too many
illusions, you will be disillusioned.
A lot does
depend on your age, your economic needs, your ability with Spanish and
your adaptability to different things. If you want to live in an
air-conditioned English-only social bubble, that's possible but
expensive and boring.
A superlative film that
exposes (winning) campaign tactics
Lee Atwater begat Karl Rove began
the third generation of Republican campaign operatives in the current
election cycle. If you haven't seen this PBS Frontline show, DO. It is
a masterful documentary! Winner of the national Edward R. Murrow Award,
the Polk Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the International
Documentary Association's Donnet Award, Boogie Man has been called one
of the best political documentaries ever made.
You can download it from several
file-sharing sites on the Internet or purchase it at the PBS site, or
used copies are available at a discounted price from Amazon. IMHO any
and all people working on a presidential campaign should watch this
video, no matter what political persuasion. This is now the norm
... and the more dollars at play, the more the "craft" --- as
deplorable as it may be --- is honed and deployed.
The documentary is downloadable
from many sites, including at Daily Booth, Kat.ph and The Pirate Bay.
And a bonus for my South Carolina
friends ... What's the matter with South Carolina? (Hey, it used to be
"What's the matter with Kansas?)
Take a walk to beat
crippling disease ALS
I wanted to fill you in on some
of the background of Walk to Defeat ALS, a two-mile walk for charity
We in Florida will walk under our
old banner of the Panama Canal Museum again this year. You may ask why
the Panama Canal Museum Team. Well, I was born in the Panama Canal
Zone, I was the third generation to arrive in the Hummer family. My
grandfather was one of the first American employees to take part in the
construction of this engineering marvel and his service went from 1904
to 1938, one of only 41 Americans to remain throughout the ten-year
construction period. My father and I spent most of our careers working
in and around the Panama Canal. My son, also born in Panama, started
his career with the Panama Canal Company, making him the fourth
generation to work on this engineering marvel.
We could see the end of the
American era of Panama's history in 1999 and three of us who worked for
the canal founded a museum to preserve that history. We did so in 1998
and, as we founders are reaching advanced age, we decided to search for
a suitable way to insure the rather extensive collection would be
preserved and available in the future. We found an enthusiastic
successor with the University of Florida, where our collection will be
integrated into three major departments. This process will be completed
June. Many of my museum colleagues have walked with me since 2005, but
this will be our last team walk under the museum's banner. I'm hoping
we can also have our colleagues from the University of Florida join us
from now on.
As many of you know I was
diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2004. I'm
one of the few lucky ones beating the average life span of two to five
years from diagnosis. The disease is relentless in slowly robbing
bodily functions. I can no long walk or stand, speak or eat without the
gifts of technology. There is no known cause, there are still no
effective therapies and a cure seems as elusive today as it was when
Lou Gehrig gave his name to the disease. Research is closing in on some
definitive diagnostic tests, the cause or causes and some therapies to
slow the progression. Unfortunately, most of us will not be alive to
see these long-overdue advances. But research is crucial to developing
these tests, therapies and technologies. Your donations are essential
for driving this research and supporting the patient services provided
by the Florida Chapter of the ALS Association, which we need to live a
reasonable quality of life.
These walks are the primary
source of funds for our chapter. The chapter serves the entire state
with patient care coordinators dispersed around the state. Of the 1,200
estimated ALS patients in Florida, the chapter serves close to 700. As
the chapter's services become better known to the public, the patient
load can only be expected to grow. The care coordinators now have
caseloads of more than 100 patients and more resources are needed to
expand the care services to meet patients' needs. These needs can be
almost overwhelming as the disease progresses to total paralysis, with
life dependent on invasive respiratory care (vent and tracheotomy),
feeding tubes and nearly round-the-clock care. One baffling aspect of
ALS is that military service more than doubles the incidence of the
So, Sandy and I ask you to join
us in the walk by donating or, if you are in the Tampa Bay area,
walking with us as I tool around in my electric power chair. There are
only 41 days left before the walk, so please don't put off making a
donation, for which we will be grateful. A small token donation is much
better than none, but of course the bigger the better.
You can do this online or by
mailing a check to me at Chuck Hummer, 4480 Mainlands Blvd. W.,
Pinellas Park, FL 33782.
If I can answer any questions you
may have, please e-mail me.
Referring to articles I have read
on your Internet site, please advise whether you have any further news
about Mark Boswell and his activities.
Editor's note: There have been several, and that's what a Dogpile or
Google search is for. Don't forget to include his alias, "Rex Freeman."
A look through the world's
eyes at the US 'freak show'
We Americans know who we are:
The world's most formidable
military power (we lost in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, and Iraq; we "won"
against tiny Grenada and Panama …); we are being held hostage in
Afghanistan. A stalemate will prove worse than defeat.
The guarantor of democracy (we
rank 20th after Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and
The beacon of spiritual
impartiality (we abet the incestuous tryst between the body politic and
the dinosaurs of the religious right).
The paradigm of puritan chastity
(we wallow in staggering promiscuity and vice).
The model of equity (we denounce
abortion but cheer when a condemned man is hanged, roasted or injected
with a lethal cocktail of drugs).
The guardian of a free press (a
faint-hearted mainstream media that won't challenge the evisceration of
civil liberties; the enfeeblement of the middle class; the
consolidation of wealth into ever-narrower circles of power;
unemployment; racism; the offensive against labor; the soaring price of
food and medicines; the predatory healthcare system).
In short, we're a nation of
superlatives. We're obsessed with bigness: Big cars, huge SUVs, giant
trucks, enormous TVs, gigantic abodes, gargantuan pizzas. We want more
and, darn it, we'll elect people who promise to deliver.
But how do others see us?
In politics, posture is
everything --- to hell with character or substance. Nothing illustrates
our fondness for histrionics and dazzling displays of dirt-flinging as
well as that the baloney Republican presidential contenders have been
regurgitating before crowds of salivating supporters. Seen by the
foreign press, the circus to which we've been treated may add yet
another dimension to the national character: a taste for the surreal.
Marc Pitzke, of Germany's Der
Spiegel, called the Republican presidential joust a "freak show."
Candidates compete to spew the most outrageous hard-right positions,
denying evolution while endorsing torture and joking about
electrocuting illegal immigrants. "How did a major party in the world's
only superpower," Pitzke asks, "become a club of liars, debtors,
betrayers, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses?"
"These know-nothings," the
Spiegel article argues, "are enabled by media outlets neutered by the
demands of political correctness. They don't have the guts to say the
obvious: 'These people are daft!' Newt Gingrich is considered an
intellectual because he can create sentences with multiple clauses.
Scarcely one has even the most basic grasp of foreign policy. One said
Africa is a country, another that the Taliban rules in Libya.
Collectively, they expose a political, economic, geographic, and
historical ignorance that makes George W. Bush look like a scholar."
"That's the scariest part," said
Lorraine Millot in the French daily, Liberation. "The only GOP
candidate who knows a thing about diplomacy, Jon Huntsman, is
considered too 'intellectual'."
Millot is right. The others
careen to extreme positions that include starting new wars and
abandoning old allies. And that's when they even have a position.
Herman Cain, now thankfully out of the race, was the front-runner even
though he couldn't find a single coherent word to say about President
Obama's policy on Libya. He even boasted of knowing little about
foreign countries. And yet it was his adultery, not his astounding
witlessness that brought him down.
"There's a simple explanation for
this bizarre phenomenon," wrote Max Hastings in London's Daily Mail.
"In the lunatic, gun-toting badlands of America's Tea Party hick towns,
it's considered suspiciously elitist to show any interest in modern
science or the world beyond America's borders. Say what you like about
British politics, no Member of Parliament of any party would dare to
offer themselves as town dog-catcher while knowing as little about the
world as the Republican presidential candidates. We in Britain, and
everyone else around the world, will suffer if one of the lunatics
vying for nomination makes it to the White House."
The American political system has
seldom, if ever, looked as dysfunctional as it does when glimpsed from
"The fact that Gingrich, Paul and
Huntsman pose an on-and-off threat to Mitt Romney," wrote Matthew
Norman in London's Independent, "just confirms how inevitable Romney's
Norman may be right. The
thrice-married, ethically challenged Gingrich is unlikable in the
extreme. Paul is buffoonish. Santorum is smug, Perry is incoherent and
Huntsman oozes anti-populist refinement. That leaves Romney, the
slimiest, phoniest opportunist to run for president since ...
So sit back and enjoy the charade
passing for a presidential election. It can't possibly end in a GOP
victory. Can it?
A runner's query
I came across an article or two
of yours in my search for an organized running race across Panama. In
your sports coverage, you seem to report on the local runs as well as
the big canoe race in the Canal Zone. Do you know of a run that goes
ocean to ocean?
Editor's note: Although in the past there have been ocean-to-ocean
runs, this year the biggest running event on the schedule is the Panama
City Half Marathon. Click here for information on the 2012 running
events in Panama.
Unsustainable politics of
exclusion in Jerusalem
While the history of the world is
moving decisively toward a culture of inclusion, diversity and
pluralism, Israeli politics seem to challenge history by moving in the
opposite direction of exclusion and unilateral self-righteous monopoly
of geography, demography, history, archaeology and culture, especially
in Jerusalem, where Israelis are desperately trying to establish a
"Jewish" capital for Israel and "the Jewish people" worldwide,
excluding centuries-old presence of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and
Christian deep-rooted existence and heritage, thus sowing the seeds of
imminent conflict and foreseeable war by strangling a city that has
historically been of diversified and pluralistic character and a
flashpoint for human misery whenever exclusion becomes the rule of the
Israeli politics is not moving
against history only, but is challenging world politics as well.
Although the first Knesset of the newly born "state of Israel" voted on
December 13, 1949, to move the seat of government from Tel Aviv to
Jerusalem, and despite Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem on June
27, 1967, which the UN Security Council declared "null and void," both
unilateral declarations have never been accepted and recognized by the
international community, not even by the US, Israel's strategic
More recently, while millions of
Christians were celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, on
the southern outskirts of Jerusalem, and the birth of Christianity in
Jerusalem, the scene of Jesus's resurrection following his death by
crucifixion, which is the cornerstone of Christian faith, the Knesset
was, on Christmas day, scheduled to consider a draft law that would
declare Jerusalem "the capital of the Jewish people" and the capital of
Israel at the same time.
The fact that the ruling elite in
Tel Aviv has made a prior recognition of Israel as a "Jewish" state a
precondition for making peace implicitly and consequently applies to
Christians as well, otherwise how could any observer interpret the
still-simmering crisis with the Vatican over the holy places in
Jerusalem? The "Fundamental Agreement" signed by both sides on December
30, 1993, as well as an agreement on the recognition of the civil
effects of ecclesiastical legal personality, signed on November 10,
1997, have yet to be ratified by Israel's Knesset. Some in the Israeli
media have been recently accusing the Vatican of seeking to hold
control of "Jewish holy sites" in Jerusalem.
The Vatican in the past supported
making Jerusalem a corpus separatum, an international city in
accordance with the UN Resolution 181 of 1947; Israel's non-compliance
delayed the Vatican's formal recognition of Israel until 1993.
More recently, the Vatican
renewed calls for an internal agreement to protect the holy places in
Jerusalem. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Vatican's Council
for Inter-religious Dialogue, and Vatican's former foreign minister,
declared, "There will not be peace if the question of the holy sites is
not adequately resolved. The part of Jerusalem within the walls ---
with the holy sites of the three religions --- is humanity's heritage.
The sacred and unique character of the area must be safeguarded and it
can only be done with a special, internationally-guaranteed statute."
The only perceived threat to the
holy places against which the Vatican is seeking protection comes from
the Israeli politics of exclusion. Rabbi David Rosen, member of the
Israeli delegation to the negotiations with the Vatican told the
Israeli daily Haaretz on January 17, 2010, that Israel "has not been
faithful to the pacts of 1993."
The precondition of recognizing
Israel as a "Jewish state" is rejected by the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO), Israel's partner in peace accords, and its
self-ruled Palestinian Authority, the 22-member League of Arab States
and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In a statement he
issued on December 26, 2011, the Secretary-General of the 57-member
states of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, condemned the Israeli draft
law that declares Jerusalem "the capital of Israel and the Jewish
people" as "a direct assault on the Palestinian people and their
inalienable and clear rights" and "a flagrant violation of
international law and international legitimacy resolutions," which
affirm that Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territories occupied
by Israel in 1967. PLO representatives considered the Israeli draft law
a "declaration of war" and a recipe for igniting a religious conflict.
The Islamic-Christian Commission in Support of Jerusalem, in a
statement, said if the Israeli draft law was passed it would make
Jerusalem "for Judaism and Jews only, which means there would be no
freedom of worship in the land of worship."
Israeli attorney and founder of
Terrestrial Jerusalem, a Jerusalem-based NGO, Daniel Seidemann, wrote
on November 30, 2011, "Cumulatively, Israeli policies in East Jerusalem
today threaten to transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a
bitter national conflict that can be resolved by means of territorial
compromise, into the potential for a bloody, unsolvable religious war.
This threat derives from Israel's dogged pursuit of the settlers'
vision of an exclusionary Jewish Jerusalem.
"… Today, Israel must choose
between two visions of Jerusalem. On the one hand, it can continue
pursuing an exclusive, largely fictitious rule over an already divided,
bi-national city --- exposing Israel to virtually universal censure and
imperiling the two-state solution. On the other hand, it can pursue
policies that can make Israeli Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, a thriving
national capital, recognized by all, existing side-by-side with but
politically divided from the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, al Quds.
To those who cherish Israel and understand what is truly at stake, the
choice is clear," Seidemann concluded.
What is much more important than
excluding "a conflict that can be resolved by means of territorial
compromise," is that the Israeli politics of exclusion in Jerusalem,
which could be summarized by Judaization of the holy city, is a roadmap
to de-Arabizing, de-Islamizing, de-Christianizing, de-historizing and
de-humanizing Jerusalem, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the
world, and this could not be anything but a roadmap to hell.
Absolutely this is unsustainable
Eric, you consistently have
great viewpoints and are on the ball.
The world needs more respectable and intelligent men like you.
Keep up the good work!
On February 5 in the early morning hours the
narco-dictatorship that oppresses the Panamanians, led by the fascist
Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, began a repression against indigenous
Ngabe-Bugle groups, who keep the Inter-American Highway closed to
against the approval of the law that allows mining and the construction
of dams in the indigenous territory. These same groups were victims in
July 2010 of another slaughter for the same reasons and by the same
government. At the time of writing this article, two natives were known
dead and hundreds were injured. The information is incomplete because
the tyranny cut all communications with the provinces, such that we are
only receiving fragmented news in the capital city. There are
indigenous leaders who speak of eleven dead.
For several months I've been reporting the Martinelli
administration's dictatorial nature. Panama is a country of 3.5
million people. According to recent figures, foreign debt
increased by three billion dollars, so that the much vaunted economic
growth is nothing more than a mortgage on future generations as I have
pointed out on another occasion. The cost of basic food items rises
every day and with it, poverty rates. Crime and public insecurity
are at the highest levels in our history. Insecurity is promoted by the
government itself to justify hiring more soldiers with the
The illicit gain of the president, his ministers, legislators
and heads of decentralized entities is not just evident, but
vulgar. They are strangling the people with excessive
cynicism. The Attorney General files away and decides not to
investigate corruption cases in which the President is involved in
harmony with other governments, such as the case of radar donations by
the Italian government then presided by Silvio Berlusconi. He refuses
to investigate the death of over a hundred patients for KPC bacteria,
although claims have been filed against the director general of the
Social Security Fund for negligent manslaughter. He has
not even been separated from the job. Moreover, Martinelli prepares his
re-election by creating a new chamber in the Supreme Court of Justice
either endorse it or extend his presidency for five more years.
The Ngabe and Bugle people were repressed by the revived
Forces, who battered Panamanians during the 21 years of military
dictatorship. These soldiers are the ones who "protect" the
Colombian border from the drug trade. We know they are the ones in
charge of allowing and guarding cocaine shipments from the south.
So the remilitarization of the country to combat drug trafficking was
shown to be a story, as those are the same soldiers who are repressing
the aboriginal groups.
Meanwhile, the government refuses to sit down and talk.
Security Minister José Raúl Mulino, has started attacking priests of
the Catholic Church, ready to serve as mediators. The tone of the
government in handling this crisis is the same that he has developed
during his administration: lying and lying. He thought that by
cutting off communications people would not find out about the
slaughter, but some media and independent groups took the task of
describing the facts.
There is widespread outrage. More than 80 percent of the
population rejects the government. Other sectors are already
mobilizing and we all see a confrontation of predictable consequences
between the Defense Forces and the Panamanians. Martinelli has added
Noriega-era soldiers to his military government. I make a new
solidarity appeal to the international community. Panamanians have
traditionally been a peaceful people, but the current president, due to
his excessive ambition for money and his psychiatric disorders, wants
to see the blood of his countrymen.