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Thursday, October 30 2014 @ 11:53 AM EDT

Welcome to Panama-Guide.com

Panama Guide is the #1 English Language web site about the Republic of Panama. There are currently 24,100 articles in our ever-expanding database and we update daily so check back often. More than 7,000 people visit Panama-Guide.com every day to follow current events and to use the other resources available. We provide fresh English language Panama news daily, as well as information about all of the other things you need to know if you plan to visit or live here. We focus on those topics and issues which are of greatest importance to the English speaking expatriate community. And if you can't find what you need to know, we take requests. Welcome aboard, and tell your friends.

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Manuel Noriega case against Call of Duty is dismissed

Panama NewsA judge has dismissed a legal action brought by Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, against the publisher of the Call of Duty video games.

The ex-military ruler had tried to sue Activision after a character based on him featured in the title Black Ops II.

Noriega had sought damages.

But the judge at Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that the inclusion of the character was protected under free speech laws.

"This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we're gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn't win," said Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, who had defended Activision in the case.

"This is not just a win for the makers of Call of Duty, but is a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world."

Noriega is currently serving a jail sentence in Panama for crimes committed during his time in power, including the murder of critics.

Manuel Noriega objected to the use of his image in fictional sequences In the video game, the character based on him initially helps the CIA capture a Nicaraguan terrorist, but later turns on the Americans and is hunted himself in fictional scenes.

In reality, Noriega did work as a CIA informant before the agency broke ties with him. After the US became concerned about his violent rule, President George Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989, which resulted in his capture.

Call of Duty games have featured other real-life characters including Fidel Castro, ex-CIA director David Petraeus and President John F Kennedy, among others.

Activision had warned that had the legal action been permitted to proceed, it could have encouraged other political figures to object to the use of their appearance in films, television programmes and books in addition to video games.

"Today's ruling is a victory for... global audiences who enjoy historical fiction across all works of art," said Bobby Kotick, chief executive of Activision's parent company, Activision Blizzard.

Editor's Comment: I object because the video game depicts Noriega on the field of combat, holding a weapon. In fact he was nothing more than a punk-assed bitch, who ran away while allowing his troops and civilians to die for him. Then he tried to hide behind the Catholic church once he was cornered. The video game assigns too much courage to him. But bad-guy characters who curl up in a ball in the fetal position, wet their pants, and cry for their mommies don't sell very well. Whatever. Case dismissed...

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Ban On Importation Of Firearms Expires Today

Safety & SecurityDuring the administration of the former Minister of Security Jose Raul Mulino, a budget was implemented which introduced a ban on the importation of firearms, a situation which remains in troublesome to businessmen who engaged in this activity, due to the economic loss it has caused them. (more)

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Moncada Luna Flailing - Filing Requests and Documents Outside Of Panama (He's Toast)

CorruptionThe Panamanian Supreme Court judge Secundino Mendieta thinks the Guarantees Subcommittee of the National Assembly was not able to place Supreme Court judge Alejandro Moncada Luna under house arrest, who is being investigated for unfair enrichment, corruption, forgery and money laundering. (more)

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Protesting Squatters Blocked The Road In Arraiján This Morning

Protests & DemonstrationsStarting during the early morning hours on Tuesday (today), squatters from the sector of La Gran Bendición in the District of Arraiján, closed the Pan American highway in both directions in the center of Arraiján Centro and Bique, causing a massive traffic jam. (more)

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Panama Canal Authority Baptizes New Tug Boats

Canal Daily OperationThe Canal Authority of Panama (ACP) held a naming ceremony yesterday for the last five tugboats, of a total of 14, bought from Astilleros Armon, Spain. (more)

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Civil Aviation Authority Might Take Legal Action Against Martinelli

CorruptionFormer president Ricardo Martinelli might end up facing legal action, after be barged into restricted areas of the Marcos Gelabert Airport in Albrook. (more) Have you created a User Account on the website? Please click on this link to create a new User Account: http://www.panama-guide.com/users.php?mode=new I will approve your account, and you will receive a password via email. Thanks again for subscribing, and my apologies for the delay in getting you set up.
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FBI Stalking Wanted Terrorist Assassin Pedro Miguel Gonzalez in Panama

Panama NewsArlene La Porte, the mother of Zak Hernandez, a Puerto Rican US Army Sergeant which the US Government says was murdered by the National Assembly Deputy Pedro Miguel Gonzalez in 1992, has broken her silence after years of absolute pain. (more)

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Panama's Labor Ministry Seizes Petaquilla's Assets

Gold & MiningThe Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) of Panama seized the office assets of two companies - Minera Petaquilla Gold and Panamá Desarrollo de Infraestructura - belonging to the Petaquilla Minerals Group, to ensure the payment of the company's workers at the gold mine located in the Donoso district. (more)

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New Ferry Service Begins Operating Between Panama, Cartagena, and Bocas del Toro

Boats and SailingFor the first time, the Ferry Express, which can accommodate 1,300 passengers, arrived in the province of Bocas del Toro with about 400 people on board from different parts of the country as well as foreigners. (more)

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Citizen Complaints Of A Child Prostitution Ring in Pacora

Crime & PunishmentThe members of a community are the main witnesses of what is happening in their environment. (more)

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Heavy Rains Flood Dozens Of Houses Near Puerto Armuelles

WeatherThe overflow of the Colorado River after the heavy rains yesterday morning, recorded Sunday, in the district of Baru, left about 50 homes damaged and flooded. (more)

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Moncada Luna Looking For Help Outside of Panama

CorruptionThe defense attorney representing the Panamanian Supreme Court judge Alejandro Moncada Luna will submit a "petition for precautionary measures" in favor of his client before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) via email this morning. (more)

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Martinelli Violates Security Protocols At Albrook

Safety & SecurityThe former president of the Republic Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, with his personal bodyguard, burst into the control tower at the Marcos A. Gelabert Airport in Albrook on Saturday afternoon, jeopardizing the operations and safety of this terminal. (more)

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Vista man accused of killing girlfriend in Panama appears in court

Expat Tales By Marcella Lee, Anchor/Reporter SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A federal court hearing for a Vista man accused of murder took place Wednesday in downtown San Diego.

Investigators say Brian Brimager dismembered his girlfriend Yvonne Baldelli's body in Panama, where they were living in 2011, then concocted an elaborate scheme to cover up her death.

Brimager was in court to discuss the health of a key witness in the case – Yvonne's sister Michelle Valenzuela.

"My mom has been such a champion for Yvonne, she loved her little sister so much," daughter Lauren Beyer said.

Beyer's mother Michelle is battling stage IV breast cancer, which has spread to her bones, so prosecutors are requesting to depose her.

"We want her deposition taken so no matter what happens, she is able to tell her testimony whenever the trial begins," Beyer said.

Prosecutors allege Brimager sent emails to Yvonne's family members, posing as Yvonne, so they would believe she was still alive.

"She was one of the main people that he was in contact with when he was pretending to be my aunt Yvonne, and so it's very important that my mom is able to tell both the communications and his behavior towards her and the family during that whole time when we were looking for her," Beyer said.

Yvonne's family traveled to Panama to find her, after sensing something just wasn't right. Then in 2013, investigators in Panama discovered skeletal remains in a military style duffel bag that matched Yvonne's DNA. Brimager was arrested on obstruction of justice charges, and faces murder charges in Panama.

"We're ready, we're ready for this chapter in our lives to end. We're ready for him to go to prison to do his time, and to leave us alone with our grief and our memories. We want this over," Beyer said.

At Wednesday's court hearing, Judge Barry Moskowitz cleared the courtroom to protect the confidentially of the breast cancer patient, whose health record would be discussed. The rest of the hearing took place in closed session, so no one knows at this point, what was decided, or if prosecutors will be allowed to take the deposition.

CBS News 8 did see Brimager's new wife at the hearing Wednesday, who had no comment.

You can watch more about Yvonne Baldelli's disappearance on a new episode of "48 Hours" on Saturday, November 15 at 10 p. m. here on CBS 8.

Editor's Comment: I just want to express my continued support for each and every member of Yvonne's family, as well as all of her friends, with a special acknowledgement and recognition of her sister's strength - as she fights several battles simultaneously.

It's going to take a very long time for these legal battles to work their way through the court system - but the evidence against Brian Brimager is overwhelming. But there's one element of this whole thing that I simply cannot understand. Why is the father of Brimager's new wife - the woman he married after he murdered Yvonne Baldelli and returned to the United States - paying the bills for his legal defense? Doesn't he understand this man murdered another man's daughter? As a father myself, there's no way in hell I would ever put myself in a position of "solidarity" with a murderer. Rather, I would reach out to and support Yvonne's father, and help him in any way I could. Daddy's little girl getting what she wants? Even if it's a legal team for a guy who murdered and butchered another man's daughter? Until the day I die, I will never (ever) understand this one...

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Supreme Court Judge Moncada Luna Removed From Office, Placed Under House Arrest

CorruptionAlejandro Moncada Luna, who was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court in 2010 by then President Ricardo Martinelli, has been suspended from office and placed under house arrest while he is being investigated for alleged offenses of unjust enrichment, money laundering, the forgery of public documents, and corruption of public officials. (more)

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One Of The Moscoso Shooters Captured At Tocumen - Attempting To Flee Panama

Crime & PunishmentSecurity minister Rodolfo Aguilera spoke this morning through a phone interview about the event which occurred last night at the residence of the former president Mireya Moscoso. (more)

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Exchange Of Gunfire At Moscoso's House Leaves Two Injured

Crime & PunishmentThere was a confrontation between members of the Institutional Protection Service (SPI) guarding the residence of former president Mireya Moscoso on Thursday afternoon. (more)

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Supreme Court Decides Against Moncada Luna

CorruptionLast night the full body of Panama's Supreme Court unanimously rejected two actions taken by lawyers defending Supreme Court judge Judge Alejandro Moncada Luna, who is being processed by the National Assembly for unjustified enrichment. (more)

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Former La Prensa Officials Named As Panama's Ambassadors

Panama NewsThe independence of Panama's "free daily" (newspaper) has remained entrenched in the government of Juan Carlos Varela. (more)

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Panama's Public Debt Rises To $18.39 Billion

Money MattersPanama's public debt was $18.39 billion at the close of September 2014, an increase of 15.8% compared to $15.88 billion from the same time last year. (more)

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Panama Can Now Test Patients For Ebola

HealthcareNestor Sosa, the Director of the Gorgas Memorial Institute, announced they have received the necessary reactive agents and tools required in order to perform the rigorous tests to determine if a person presenting symptoms is infected with the Ebola virus. (more)

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Lawmaker Falls Dead Of A Stroke - While Questioning Witnesses in Moncada Luna Trial

CorruptionThe hearings being held on the floor of the National Assembly into the charges against Supreme Court judge Moncada Luna have claimed their first fatality. (more)

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Cuban Immigrants Flooding Into Panama - On Their Way To The US

Panama NewsThe uncontrolled entry of Cubans who are coming into Panama from Colombia has prompted the border authorities in the province of the Darien to request prompt action by the National Government, through the Panamanian Foreign Ministry. (more)

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Panama Guide Will Appear on CBS 48 Hours (Again)

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - CBS 48 Hours will air their program on the murder of a American woman in Bocas del Toro, Panama on Saturday night, October 25th 2014. Mark your calendars.

(Update: I was recently informed that CBS has decided to move the program air date back to Saturday, 15 November. This will be "sweeps week" for them, statistics of viewership used to determine advertising pricing for the program. So, if this program rates well, then CBS can charge their customers more to advertise during 48 Hours programming. Anyway, change your calendar to 15 November.)

The former marine Brian Brimager killed his girlfriend Yvonne Baldelli in late 2011. The ongoing investigation has revealed he dismembered her body, stuffed it into his "military style" backpack, and threw it into the jungle on Isla Carenero in Bocas del Toro, Panama - where they were living - and then began to attempt to enact an elaborate scheme to cover up his crime. Yvonne's body was not discovered until almost two years after the murder.

As you probably know, I've been involved in the investigation since I was first contacted by her family members in February 2012. Baldelli went missing in late 2011, and shortly thereafter her friends and family started looking for clues in Panama.

Initially there was some hesitation between the family members, because they were told by the US Embassy in Panama "whatever you do, don't contact Don Winner from Panama Guide." And why in the name of hell would they say something like that to the family of a missing person in Panama? Because I had made them look bad on several previous cases. The FBI in Panama quite simply failed to do their jobs - and once I got involved then the ball got rolling - and quickly. Wild Bill, his partner in crime Laura Michelle Reese, Javier Martin - three serial killers who are now in prison and who would have probably gotten away with their crimes had I not gotten involved. Not blowing my own horn, just facts.

One of Yvonne Baldelli's sisters said "screw it - if this guy can make things happen, I'm calling him." After awhile the rest of the family members came around. They figured there was nothing to lose. I promised them I would not publish a word until the primary suspect - Yvonne Baldelli's boyfriend Brian Brimager - was behind bars.

Truthfully, I didn't do much to help push this case forward. I do know that after I got involved then all of a sudden the FBI deployed search divers to Bocas del Toro in Panama to scour the ocean floor near the building where Yvonne Baldelli was murdered, looking for evidence. The US government and prosecutors in San Diego got more active in their efforts to investigate and prosecute the case. Maybe I played a very small role in somehow pushing that ball a little, to get it rolling all that much faster.

But whatever - the bad guy is now behind bars and he will be there for a long time. Nothing can bring Yvonne back, but at the very least her family will see justice done. This upcoming CBS 48 Hours program will document the events of the past two years, as only they can. Don't miss it when it airs at 10:00 pm EST.

Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com

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Panama Threatens Colombia With Retaliation

Panama NewsThe Government of Panama gave the government of Colombia seven days to remove them from a list of "tax havens" and to start a dialog on the issue on an "equal footing." (more)

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Prosecutor Locks Down Controversial Moncada Luna Properties

CorruptionThe PRD National Assembly Deputy Pedro Miguel Gonzalez - who is acting as the prosecutor in the proceedings against Supreme Court judge Alejandro Moncada Luna - has issued an order to the Public Registry to place a "provisional seizure" on the two properties worth more than $1.7 million dollars in Panama City, involved in a corruption scandal and investigation. (more)

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National Assembly Names Prosecutor and Judges To Go After Supreme Court Judge Moncada Luna

CorruptionThe situation for Supreme Court judge Alejandro Moncada Luna for alleged unjust enrichment was clarified yesterday: The Credentials Committee of the National Assembly admitted the complaint filed against him, appointed judges to hear the case, and later in the afternoon they appointed a prosecutor. (more)

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DGI Investigating Supreme Court Judge For Unjustified Enrichment And Failure To Pay Income Taxes

CorruptionThe future of Judge Alejandro Moncada Luna gets more complicated every day. (more)

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US State Department's John Feeley Visting Panama

Panama NewsThe Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs John Feeley begins a two-day visit to Panama today, where he will sign a security agreement and meet with the country's president, Juan Carlos Varela. (more)

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Corrupt Supreme Court Judge Moncada Luna Also Bought A Million Dollar Beach House in Buenaventura

CorruptionThe scandal surrounding Supreme Court judge Alejandro Moncada Luna may reach new heights, after his colleague Harry Diaz said he also purchased a beach house in Buenaventura, an exclusive development along Panama's Pacific coast. (more)

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