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Volume 18, Number 2
March 5, 2012

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Also in this section:
Editorials: There really is such a thing as libel; and An offer that she must refuse
Asamblea Ciudadana, Toward the constitutional rule of law
Reporters Without Borders, El Universo verdict sets back freedom of expression
Bernal, About a dams referendum
Fisher, Panama's critical juncture
Tsenliki, Protecting oceans: It's not rocket science
Nauman, Native wisdom guides movement to close Keystone Pipeline route
Estevez, Diary of an arms trade lobbyist
Hightower, The Chief Twinkie goes Ding Dong
McCabe, Unexpected heroes
Thurston, The truth hurts sometimes
Gandásegui, The Ngabe treasure and the Tabasara River
Boff, From internationalized enterprise to biocentric society
Mercy Sisters join Panama justice campaign
Mijares, Ocean front
Worley, The smell test --- passed
Chomsky, "Losing" the World
Harrington, Ngabe awakening
Evans, A different kind of Europe
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, A new Falklands/Malvinas war unlikely
Hidalgo, A democratic crisis close to home
Letters to the editor

A stuffed mailbox

Thanks, and you're welcome

Editor's 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.



Facebook

Hola Eric,

Any 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 stand 'em

'sta luego,

Al

Editor's note: There are four main reasons why I use Facebook as an extension of The Panama News:

  1. The 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 problems.

  4. 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.

I 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.

About reality shows: any and all rumors that Snooki is coming to Panama to work for The Panama News are greatly exaggerated.



Amigos de Animales is an SPCAI Shelter of the Week

Fundacion 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.

Fundacion Amigos de Animales
Boquete


Tribute to 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.

Eduardo Eurnekian
Chairman

Baruch Tenembaum
Founder
www.raoulwallenberg.net


Says Werner Erhard was misquoted

Dear Mr. Jackson,

In 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 humanity.

There 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.

Please 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.

Please let me know your intentions within the next seven days,

Terry Giles

Click here to read the attached Los Angeles Times article


Editor's 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.



Can you help?

I see that you are a reporter (or editor?) for the Panama News.

I 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.

Is 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.

details about this credit union
and who wrote the letter withheld

Editor's 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?

Panama 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 impunity.



Fan mail

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.

Mark


Santorum, 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 secular religion.

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 message.

Paul Kokoski
Hamilton, Ontario
Canada


Salo & Rubencito

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 goon.

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?

CJF


Theresa, 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!

Hendrik
School Of the Americas Watch


Ah, water, what would we do without it...

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.

Will

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.



Open 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 Ambassador.

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 caused.

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.

Nick Clark


Royalton Playa Blanca

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.

Chris

Editor's 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.



An Alaskan model?

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 misdeeds.

It was a resonable agreement for a positive settlement, with the assistance of many educated Alaska Natives....

Del Allison


I got these valentines...

Editor's 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.







    

Also in this section:
Editorials: There really is such a thing as libel; and An offer that she must refuse
Asamblea Ciudadana, Toward the constitutional rule of law
Reporters Without Borders, El Universo verdict sets back freedom of expression
Bernal, About a dams referendum
Fisher, Panama's critical juncture
Tsenliki, Protecting oceans: It's not rocket science
Nauman, Native wisdom guides movement to close Keystone Pipeline route
Estevez, Diary of an arms trade lobbyist
Hightower, The Chief Twinkie goes Ding Dong
McCabe, Unexpected heroes
Thurston, The truth hurts sometimes
Gandásegui, The Ngabe treasure and the Tabasara River
Boff, From internationalized enterprise to biocentric society
Mercy Sisters join Panama justice campaign
Mijares, Ocean front
Worley, The smell test --- passed
Chomsky, "Losing" the World
Harrington, Ngabe awakening
Evans, A different kind of Europe
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, A new Falklands/Malvinas war unlikely
Hidalgo, A democratic crisis close to home
Letters to the editor


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© 2012 by Eric Jackson
All Rights Reserved - Todos Derechos Reservados
Individual contributors retain the rights to their articles or photos

email: editor@thepanamanews.com or

e_l_jackson_malo@yahoo.com or

thepanamanews@gmail.com

phone: (507) 6-632-6343

Mailing address:

Eric Jackson
att'n The Panama News
Apartado 0831-00927 Estafeta Paitilla
Panamá, República de Panamá

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thepanamanews