A stuffed mailbox
and you're welcome
note: This issue is taking forever to produce because I spent the
better part of a week posting constant updates on the Facebook page that is an extension of The Panama News and in the Panama Forum. In
this effort I was assisted by a number of people who sent me reports
of things happening in their parts of the country. (And yes,
particularly in Panama Forum, there were the usual obnoxious
hecklers.) A bunch of readers thanked me for that work. And I thank
everyone who lent a hand in covering this story. I'm the full-time
guy, but this is a ragtag community newspaper that is as good as the
people who contribute to it. Thanks. And this is what I do --- even
though there is hardly any money in it and often little respect, if I
didn't want to do it I would do something else. You're welcome.
way to convince you to drop this Facebook alliance and come back to
reality? Kinda miss your perspectives on things in general --- and
usually in agreement. But like big cities and trouble, I generally
try and avoid Facebook --- it's like watching reality shows --- can't
note: There are four main reasons why I use Facebook as an extension
of The Panama News:
Panama News website and email boxes are frequent targets of
electronic attacks and Panama now has a government that's into the
most obnoxious sort of online behavior. The Facebook tie makes it
harder for enemies to shut down The Panama News.
Facebook has interactive features that an html
website does not, and if these sorts of features are added into a
website, that also creates other avenues for people to insert
malware into the website. Thus Facebook safely adds a reader
participation feature that I like, in some ways like having an email
discussion group attached to The Panama News but far more versatile
than one of those.
I used to have a radio show, the Wappin Radio Show,
and incorporating that into The Panama News website turned out to be
not a very practical idea. However, via Facebook and with the rise
of YouTube, the musical element is back into the mix with far fewer
I have competition that essentially takes mainstream
Panamanian press articles and republishes them, in translation, in
machine translation or otherwise. Usually I don't translate, but on
the Facebook page that is an extension of The Panama News there is
now the best "clipping service" around for those who want
to follow what's going on in Panama.
would like to extend the presence of The Panama News on social media,
for example by sending out Twitter notices of new articles. But I
already spend too much time on Facebook and would need one or more
volunteers to pitch in as social media coordinators.
reality shows: any and all rumors that Snooki is coming to Panama to
work for The Panama News are greatly exaggerated.
de Animales is an SPCAI Shelter of the Week
Amigos de Animales Boquete was named Shelter of the Week
by SPCA International, an organization dedicated to supporting the
safety and well-being of animals worldwide. This grant was given in
recognition of the outstanding work that our organization is
accomplishing and to support our continued efforts in improving the
lives of animals in our community. The award included a financial
grant to FADAB and recognition of our work on their website.
Amigos de Animales
Tina Strobos, Savior of the Holocaust
The International Raoul
Wallenberg Foundation mourns the death of Mrs. Tina Strobos, (91) in
New York. Mrs. Strobos hid more than 100 Jews in a gabled attic in
Nazi-occupied Amsterdam just a few blocks from the place where Anne
Frank was captured.
Tina Strobos was twenty
years old and in medical school in Amsterdam when the Nazi s invaded
Holland in May of 1940. Along with her mother, Marie Schotte, offered
support to hide Jews and other "undesirables" from the
Nazis. Her grandmother, Maria Abrahams, who had helped individuals
during World War I, offered her house as well.
In her home, a carpenter
from the underground built a compartment in the attic big enough for
two or three people to hide in. The home also had an alarm bell to
warn those above if the home was raided. She also transported people
to safe hiding places, and visited many of them regularly by bicycle
to provide them with food, books, radios, weapons, and other things
they needed to survive in hiding.
Mrs. Strobos's legacy
remains as a shining beacon for current and future generation; the
living example that just one single person can make a difference.
Werner Erhard was misquoted
the oline Theater Review section of the Panama News, dated November
22nd, 2011, written by Eric Jackson, Mr. Jackson seriously damaged my
client, Werner Erhard's reputation. He stated: " How do I know I
am not the reincarnation of Jesus Christ," as a direct quote of
Mr. Erhard's. (This follows a statement : " I am not a crook,"
by Richard Nixon.) My client never made the statement attributed to
him and there is no credible evidence anywhere to suggest otherwise.
The statement being attributed to my client, in the context of
outrageous statements made by infamous people in the 1970s, casts Mr.
Erhard in a false light. Mr. Erhard was the recipient of the Mahatma
Gandhi award for his contribution to ending death by starvation,
cited by Fortune Magazine as the single most important contributor to
having empowerment be part of American management thinking in the
1980's, among many other numerous awards and contributions to
was a well documented effort to destroy my client's reputation by
reprinting allegations in the media that were in fact planted and
untrue. It is possible that your writer read one of these articles
and assumed that what was written was valid. However, reprinting
libel is still libel and still damages my client and casts him in a
false light. I have enclosed an LA Times expose on the efforts of the
Church of Scientology to plant untrue media stories about my client.
remove this statement from your archives and your on line version of
this article or please send me your evidence that Mr. Erhard made the
statement alleged by your writer.
let me know your intentions within the next seven days,
here to read the attached Los Angeles Times article
note: A Mr. Bill Thaw claimed to have heard Werner Erhard say that,
and the quote --- or misquote, if that is what it was --- was given
widespread publicity by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace. That
Erhard supporters can't produce a libel judgment against any of those
three men does not prove that the quote was accurate, and I was not
there to have personal knowledge. Nor does an LA Times article
alleging a vendetta by the notoriously litigious Church of
Scientology prove that Erhard was misquoted, even if after all these
years it's still on the newspaper's website: the article does not
mention that quote, the man who attributed it to Erhard or the people
who circulated it. But Mr. Erhard's objections are duly noted:
through a spokesperson, he says that he never said it.
see that you are a reporter (or editor?) for the Panama News.
am an American who has discovered that several Panamanian credit
unions claim to pay in the 8% interest range, on deposits. This is
FAR above what most financial institutions pay, and I'm wondering
whether these credit unions are for real, or some kind of scam.
there a financial reporter who might have information? If this is a
scam, it would certainly be newsworthy. If not, then I know a number
of people who would gladly transfer their money to Panamanian
financial institutions to get better interest rates.
about this credit union
wrote the letter withheld
note: Does it sound too good to be true? It probably is. Are higher
returns offered? That generally means higher risk. Do you just have
to trust the guy, because he's an American like you? Have you
considered the possibility that there are Americans who came here one
step ahead of the law, due to the scams they pulled back there?
has some reliable credit unions, and over the years some that have
gone bust due to high-risk management policies. We have seen a few
banks die that way too. If you can afford to lose your money
gambling, then maybe you may want to go for the highest offered rate
of return. It's a better idea to go to a long-established and
reputable institution and trade a higher return for safety. That
said, the banks here operate on a different paradigm that uses other
incentives than good interest rates to attract deposits, and there
are credit unions that do pay more and are quite legitimate. But
those who offer eight percent belong in the high risk category, and
one of the various business risks you find down here is fraud with
Thank you for your outstanding reporting on so many
important issues in Panama.
I have done business in Panama in the airline industry
for years and have found Panama to be a wonderful country with a
colorful history. At the same time, I have also come to many
political dead ends while working on worthy projects such as training
Panamanians to fly for airlines such as Copa. Though I am a gringo, I
lived in Brazil where I went to business school in Sao Paulo, so I
know a little about how money flows below the table in Latin America.
However, when doing business in Panama, I must say, it always seemed
like there was a particularly strong under current controlling how
business decisions are made. As a part of doing business in Panama, I
heard names of families who were said to have an invisible hand in
the decision processes, but until I read your website on a regular
basis, I never understood how much influence they have.
I wish both your news organization and Panama well in
your fight against corruption.
Obama and the Bible
Rick Santorum was right to attack President Obama's
Christianity and agenda as being based on "some phony theology.
Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology." The
radical anti-life, anti-family agenda Obama promotes ---
contraception, sterilization, abortion, homosexuality, embryonic stem
cell research --- is not Christianity; it is another religion --- a
President Obama, like many others today, wants to
measure the truth of the faith by modern society's standards. They
mistakenly believe that divine Revelation must adapt itself to the
current mentality in order to be credible, instead of the current
mentality converting in the light that comes to us from on high. The
result is a stripping of the Redeemer of man of his radical
uniqueness, and classifying Him as someone who can be managed and
domesticated. In the final analysis you end up with a renunciation of
the Gospel and this is really what is at the heart of Obama and his
Against my better judgement I set out last night in
hopes of seeing Rubén
Blades perform at your friend Salo's carnaval celebration. I always
enjoy a little frottage of a Tuesday evening. (By the way, your
assertion that this is an element of Colombian 'culture' conveniently
overlooks the very Panamanian Mr. Saik and his Choque, Choque song
and its accompanying dance.)
I arrived at 8 or so for the 9 o'clock show knowing that
I would either have plenty of time or not nearly enough time
depending on the amount of idiocy at work. It turned out to be not
nearly enough time. There were three lines ostensibly formed to offer
entry. They extended about ten city blocks back to the hospital. I
would estimate that at best the poor fool at the end of each line was
looking at a four hour wait, maybe more. Curiously no one at the end
of the lines seemed to be all that surprised or perturbed. I
immediately made my way to the head of the lines to see what was
happening. There was a little elevated parking area that afforded a
fine view of the proceedings. One of the lines did in fact lead to an
entrance where people occasionally were being granted entrance after
a perfunctory search. There were two other points of entrance, one
surrounded by an agitated mob and apparently closed (I later found
out that this entrance was specifically for people who could produce
passports as forms of ID. Outstanding! It's like a Panamanian version
of Let's Make a Deal! Say! Does anyone have aaaaaaaaaaaaaa..........
Buffalo Nickel?! Hey! Whaddaya know! Come on in, sir!) The third
entry point lacked any sort of a sign but if it had one it would have
read Free Police Abuse.
Everyone who passed through this entrance (and there
were precious few who did) was frisked fully and roughly by some goon
and then literally shoved away to get frisked again by some other
The whole spectacle was fascinating. I stood there and
watched for twenty minutes. I spent a decent amount of time in the
Soviet Union in the 80s and I have to say, the more time I spend here
the more I see that reminds me of the stupefyingly boneheaded things
I would see there, just random examples of complete liberation from
common sense of any kind.
I mean, I understand not wanting people to carry arms
into the festival, I really do. But how about instead of one
functioning entry point let's have, I don't know, 50?
our prisoner of conscience
Our friend Theresa Cusimano is serving a six month
prison sentence in an Alabama county jail, for crossing the line onto
Fort Benning, Georgia, to speak out against unjust U.S. foreign
policy and the continued existence of the School of the Americas
(SOA/ WHINSEC). Would you be able to send her a letter, to let her
know that she is not alone, and that we are keeping up the resistance
on the outside while she is incarcerated? Thank you! Theresa needs to
feel our support right now.
Her address is:
Theresa Cusimano, #49903
Lee County Sheriff's Jail - Section D-3
1900 Frederick Road
Opelika, AL 36801-7212
Hope to see you in the streets of Washington, DC during
the Days of Action from April 14-17, 2012!
water, what would we do without it...
Of the Americas Watch
If you are interested in the 'idea' of 'clean' water
being piped into your home have a read of "The Big Thirst"
by Charles Fishman.
Editor's note: Also appended to this email was a CNN
article about water problems in the United States. Water is an
issue in most places, the situation is generally getting worse rather
than better, and it's something over which wars have been fought.
letter to the goverment about Playa Blanca
I met today with both Ambassador Sylvia Cesaratto and
Ms. Bethany Wickens, Counsel of our Canadian Embassy in Panama. We
discussed the issues regarding the systemic problems caused by both
the lack of infrastructure planning and the attitude of indifference
by Zoom Development. Specifically we addressed the construction
deficiencies we have endured at Playa Blanca. Our investment of
$600,000 is rather insignificant in the grand scheme of mega
developments being undertaken in Panama but we are not alone, and our
concerns were echoed by others in the same discussion with the
With tourism and the new Airport being built at Rio
Hato; this development at the beach should be a show case of
excellence and the promise of the best Panama has to offer. Plus,
representative of the type of development that foreigners can invest
into with confidence and trust.
The Embassy offered to explore the issue and with the
help their office if we can not bring our problem to a natural and
logical conclusion then foreign a travel advisory notices needs to be
circulated with the intent of warning and protecting future investors
from the business dealings by developers the likes of Zoom. Needless
to say, there is a growing importance between the people of our two
countries, specifically with the Free Trade Agreement on the horizon
and with an estimated 100,000 tourist visits to Panama estimated over
the year ahead. With this in mind, it is hoped that developers who
knowingly are under delivering against their contracts and not
correcting deficiencies; will be forced to abide by defined
construction standards, proper inspection protocols and in turn
improve their reputation by simply fixing problems that they have
We invested in Panama because we believe in the future
vision of a strong future economy and plan on using our early
footprint to capitalize, under the FTA on the growing tourist market.
But, it is discouraging to have to fight with an unscrupulous
developer, who has attempted to manipulate us into accepting less
then we paid for.
We are a small group of investors who were silly enough
to purchase condos at Playa Blanca and Royalton. We have not closed
and are looking to get out deposits returned and warn future buyers
about the perils of dealing with this developer. We have been lied to
for almost five years by the people at Destiny Real Estate.
I admire your vigilence and honesty and would appreciate
any information and advice you might have for someone beginning an
internet campaign. I understand Panama has strict slander legislation
and that you have considerable experience in this department.
note: Panama's criminal defamation law --- calumnia e injuria --- is
actually two laws. Truth is always a defense to calumnia, but not
necessarily to injuria (harming someone's reputation). More
importantly, these laws are often abused and the rule of law in
Panama is often just theoretical. My advice is to be strictly
truthful, avoid crude personal attacks, and keep your server outside
of Panama. But what has happened to those at the project that was
sold as a Nikki Beach franchise and is no longer that is fairly
notorious and those with the courage to stand up to this sort of
abuse do a service to all consumers here, upscale and downscale,
foreigners and Panamanians alike. My won/lost record in calumnia e
injuria cases is 3-0 because I try awfully hard to be truthful and
also because I have been lucky. Other journalists have been convicted
of crimes for scrupulously truthful and absolutely fair stories.
One simple solution to Panama's native problem, could be
settled by following the 1976 Alaska Native Claims Act. (I'm sure it
won't be simple.) This settlement provided for all the rights and
ownership of land and minerals, with financial settlement for
It was a resonable agreement for a positive settlement,
with the assistance of many educated Alaska Natives....
got these valentines...
note: I received a bunch of valentines on February 14 and I thank
people for sending them along. But of course, being hardcore single
and the somewhat touched son of a mad doctor, I spent much of that
day watching gangster movies online. In Robin
and the Seven Hoods, of course, those who worked for Robbo's gang
got St. Valentine's Day off as a paid holiday.