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Wednesday, July 30 2014 @ 09:17 PM EDT

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Juan Carlos Navarro Says Balbina Won't "Betray" Him

Politics By Carlos Estrada Aguilar for La Critica - Panama City Mayor and presidential candidate Juan Carlos Navarro ratified his alliance last night with Panama's Housing Minister Balbina Herrera and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos leading up to elections for the National Executive Committee (CEN) of the ruling Partido Revoluctionario Democratico (PRD). Navarro downplayed rumors that he says originate with members of the political opposition to try to pit him against "La Chola" (Balbina Herrera) under the premise that she will decide to run as a candidate for President of the Republic in the May 2009 elections, and not for the position of the Mayor of Panama City. (more) (Photo: Jorge Silot / EPASA)
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New Bond movie has officially signed in Bollywood star

Entertainment Fashion & Film Updates - THE upcoming James Bond movie will see a Bollywood actress as one of its cast. According to Mi6 News, Shilpa Shetty has been signed to tackle a yet-unannounced role in ‘Quantum of Solace’. Last August, the 32 years old Bollywood star was rumoured to be the prime candidate to be a Bond girl. As of at the moment, it wasn’t known what character Shetty will be playing. However, Mi6 News noted down that her character will be a minor one. The actress might get a cameo appearance, like Madonna in ‘Die Another Day’ or Christina Cole, who depicted Ocean Club Receptionist in ‘Casino Royale’. Shetty struck success in the UK after she became the winner of United Kingdom reality television “Celebrity Big Brother”. The actress who is also known for her work as a model earlier made headlines after she was kissed on the cheek several times by actor Richard Gere during an AIDS-awareness event.
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Petaquilla Copper optimistic study will show copper project in Panama as viable

Gold & MiningLONDON (Thomson Financial) - Petaquilla Copper Ltd said it remains optimistic that the final front end engineering and design study (FEED) study will show that the Petaquilla copper project in Panama remains viable, and said it sees an opportunity to provide power and port facilities to the project, which would substantially reduce capital costs. The company had said on Feb 8 that a report estimated the capital cost to develop the project at 3.5 bln usd. The company said Petaquilla Infrastructure Ltd, a company created for power, port and related infrastructure development for the Molejon gold mine of Petaquilla Minerals Ltd, will also be able to make these facilities available for the Petaquilla project. The company said Petaquilla Infrastructure is in advanced talks with a global power producer for the construction of a 360 MW thermal power plant on the Caribbean coast 16 kilometres north of the project. It added that the proposed power plant will have a larger capacity than that required for the Molejon gold mine and the Petaquilla copper project. The company said the power plant will be run as a separate cash flow business by Petaquilla Infrastructure, which will sell to a greater market over and above providing "over the fence" power to the Petaquilla project. TFN.newsdesk@thomson.com ans/rfw
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Panamerican Chorale Performs Bach's Magnificat

Bands & MusicThe Panamerican Chorale and Orchestra Conjunto Barroco de Panama will perform Bach's Magnificat at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 19. The combined group will be under the direction of Simon Green. The concert will last about an hour and will include several short pieces in addition to the Bach masterpiece. The concert will be held at St. Luke's Episcopal Cathedral (Igesia San Luca) in Ancon. There will be no charge for this concert but contributions will be gladly accepted. Most of the contributed money will be donated to the re roofing project for the cathedral. For additional information on the concert or on joining either the chorale or orchestra please contact David Lortie at davidlortie @ hotmail.com or call 6684-0776.
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Panama Canal Bidding Fraud Case Involves Nephew of Supreme Court Judge

Canal Daily OperationBy Santiago Fascetto for La Prensa - The Panama Canal Authority filed a complaint before the Public Ministry denouncing a supposed fraud of more than $700,000 dollars. The primary suspect is Igor Tello Spadafora, an ACP employee and nephew of Supreme Court Magistrate Winston Spadafora. Tello Spadafora won, through the company TPM Suppliers S.A., 261 licitations thanks to key information he handled as part of his position within the ACP. But the case, headed by the Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Yolanda Austin and the judge of the 15th Criminal court Georgina Tuñón could be diluted. The lawyers of the implied one presented a criminal complaint against both the prosecutor and judge. The lawyers accuse the prosecutor and judge of violating private correspondence of their client after a search of the TPM Suppliers company offices. In addition, they filed a request to protect the due process in favor of their client with the First Superior Court, saying that as Spadafora's nephew they are acting quickly against him.
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True or False: Trees

Teak & Reforestation(CNN) -- True or False: More carbon dioxide is good news for trees as it will boost growth levels. The answer is: FALSE Trees evidently need carbon dioxide (CO2) to survive, and in some cases plant life can benefit from increased CO2, but over time more CO2 does not necessarily mean more life. Some experiments have found that exposing plants or trees to enhanced levels of CO2 have resulted in higher growth levels, but according to the New Scientist, these bursts in growth "have tended to level off within a few years" because of other factors, often related to water or nitrogen levels - and notably, temperature. Higher CO2 levels will bring climate changes to different regions which will have a direct impact on plant growth, to the extent that in some cases, any advantages increased CO2 levels may have on plant life could be counteracted by the impact of increased CO2 levels on the weather. This has been shown in the tropics, for example, where the majority of the world's rainforests lie. A study of rainforest plots in Panama and Malaysia found that an increase in temperature of 1 degree Centigrade actually reduced tree growth by as much as 50 percent.
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Video Clip from "Quantum of Solace" Filming Launch

Entertainment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Below is a video recorded in Panama from the launch of the filming of the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace. Filming started last week on Thursday and will continue until 21 February 2008.

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Seniors can live cheaper in Panama

Panama NewsBy DAVID MYERS for freep.com - A growing number of Americans -- especially older people who are selling their home for a handsome profit -- are moving to Panama to enjoy its low home prices, tax breaks and discounts. Dear David: My wife and I are about to retire. We were thinking about using the profits from the sale of our house to move to Mexico because it's cheaper to live there, but we hear that Panama is an even better place for retirees. What makes that nation so attractive? Also, how is the medical care there? Dear reader: Panama is attracting a growing number of retirees, thanks largely to its relatively low home prices, close proximity to the United States, a good health system -- and lots of tax breaks. The nation of 3.4 million people is less than a three-hour plane ride from Miami, which makes it easy for most ex-pats to visit relatives in the States, and vice versa. Its medical system is also seen as top-notch, and pharmaceuticals and surgery are generally much cheaper than they are in the United States. Equally important, "Panama offers what is probably the best package of benefits for seniors on the planet," says a recent report by Smart Money Magazine, which is published by the Wall Street Journal. Among the perks: no property taxes on real estate purchases for up to 15 years, no duty taxes on imported cars or on household goods, and no income taxes on foreign-generated income. Seniors also get 50% off on virtually all entertainment, as well as a 30% discount to use public transportation and 25% off restaurant and utility bills. Several Internet sites can give you more information. Try www.Panama-Guide.com, EscapeArtist.com and InternationalLiving.com; they are among the best.
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Panama 'shaken, not stirred' by shooting of latest James Bond flick

EntertainmentAgence France-Presse PANAMA CITY - Filming of the latest James Bond saga began Friday in the Panamanian capital where the suave British spymaster tries to thwart an attack by a group of narcotraffickers. Historic buildings and other locales in the city's Casco Viejo district, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, are to serve as shooting locations for "Quantum of Solace" and the series' perennial Agent 007. British actor Daniel Craig is reprising his role as 007, following his 2006 debut in "Casino Royale". Producers are expecting Craig, Ukrainian model-actress and new Bond girl Olga Kurlylenko, and some 400 Panamanian extras to descend on the city. (more)
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Slow Day for News

Panama News

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - It's easy to tell when there's not much happening in Panama. The news outlets have to go looking for something to talk about. And, they go to the usual sources - car crashes and the "blood and guts" parade at the entrance to the Santo Tomas hospital. A lot of people take their vacations during this time of the year, and most of the government apparently shut down until at least Monday. There's some pre-primary political maneuvering going on, and today is the procession in Atalaya. But other than that, nada. Slow day for news.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panama: Union Leaders Mistrust Wage Talks

Protests & DemonstrationsPanama, Feb 10 (Prensa Latina) Two main Panamanian unions termed unfruitful and doomed the government-mediated negotiations between workers and managements to define a new general salary law. On Friday, the so-called three-party committee started talks, which immediately came to a halt when management representatives demanded flexibility from labor as a precondition to discuss a wage hike. Negotiations are expected to resume on Monday under the auspices of the Labor Ministry, which has made clear the lack of any government project to modify the country's current Labor Code. The National Independent United Trade Union Confederation (CONUSI) and the General Confederation of Workers of Panama (CGTP) agreed that the objective of a general increase in wages will be achieved through street struggle. CONUSI is demanding a 20-percent salary increase to make up for the high cost of living and inflationary trend prevailing in the country.
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4.8 Earthquake Last Night South of Panama

Earthquakes

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - At about 10:00 pm last night we felt a solid "bump" in the apartment. It wasn't much of an earthquake but there was no doubt that something had gone off and everyone felt it - the whole building moved. I went to the USGS Earthquake sites and there was nothing. I even filed one of those "did you feel it" reports. Then, last night at 2:36 in the morning there was this 4.8 earthquake South of Panama near Colombia. Again, the little ones are the good ones, that allow for stress and built up energy to be released in little bursts, and hopefully that means we're avoiding the "big one." I've been in a lot of earthquakes, and I simply don't like them, big or small.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Quantum Of Solace - Taking a Sunday Off from Filming

Entertainment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Today the crews filming the new James Bond film "Quantum Of Solace" in Panama took a day off. Filming started in Panama on Thursday and will continue in Panama through 21 February. And again, I remain impressed by the tenacity of the British paparazzi. They've spent the last couple of days doing their thing - working to grab stills and video from perches near the filming sets and in some cases have been giving the local police fits. I heard police officers "detained" one of the guys for more than six hours. They actually took him against his will to the police station and made him stay there all day. He was eventually hauled before a judge and fined for something, and I can't wait to find out for what (because he was not breaking any laws, he just went to change some tapes.) But here's the real kicker - when the police returned his camera and video cassettes he discovered they had used his camera to record over and effectively erase the tapes. Can anyone explain that to me? The Panamanian National Police are now working to protect the sanctity of the production set? What the hell? (more)

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SSDD in Bocas del Toro

Real Estate

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Cirilo McSween Sr., the man who carried Martin Luther King's coffin and who practically raised Panamanian President Martin Torrijos in Chicago, told me yesterday that he has "no idea" of any problems or involvement of his family with regards to irregular real estate deals on the island of Cayo de Agua in Bocas del Toro. I contacted Mr. McSween yesterday and we spoke on the phone for about thirty minutes. I explained to Mr. McSween that my investigation is uncovering a network of unscrupulous lawyers, real estate agents, and corrupt local government officials are working together to effectively steal land from poor, indigenous Indians on the islands who are acting in the name of rich, powerful, and connected people, and that the actions of these people are damaging his family's credibility. (more)

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Authorities Searching for Suspect in Costa Rica Murders

Crime & Punishment By Gloria Leiva Gaitán for El Siglo - Panama's Anti-Drug Prosecutor in Chiriquí is on the trail of a Panamanian citizen suspected to be responsible for the execution of five Panamanians near Neily City in Costa Rica. According to judicial information the suspect frequently crosses the border between Panama and Costa Rica making it difficult for authorities to find him. The suspect was identified with the cooperation of Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Organism (OIJ), which has conducted several operations as part of their investigation, to include taking statements from protected witnesses. Investigations being conducted in both countries have not ruled out the possibility that these executions might be related to the recent dismantling of a drug smuggling organization several weeks ago in Chiriquí. It is also possible that these drug runners were related to the Mexican "Sinaloa Drug Cartel." Last Wednesday afternoon five bodies were discovered near Neily City, Costa Rica, a few kilometers from the Panamanian border. Killed were Eliécer Estribí Guerra, Agner Darío Moreno, José Manuel Pinzón Bazán, Carlos Javier Espino and Víctor Navarro Otero.
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PRD Politically Meddling in CEN Delegate Primaries

Politics By Eric Montenegro for La Critica - PRD delegates in the districts of Capira, Chame and San Carlos were upset yesterday in Capira due to the decision to suspect the election new delegates for that region. About 66 delegates expected to choose between Amado Cerrud and Franz Wever, the the PRD leadership decided to suspend the vote until Thursday, which will now be held at the PRD headquarters in Panama City. PRD member Alvaro Aguilar described the decision as "madrugonazo" and said he will not attend any delegate meeting in the capital.
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Shootout in Curundú

Crime & Punishment Panama America - Members from two rival gangs, "The Puerquitos" and the "The Blessed," participated in an exchange of gunfire among the multi-family buildings in the Santa Cruz section of Curundú. After the fact, police officers searched apartments and captured two minors with handguns. Although no one was injured by the gunfire a car that was parked in the area was damaged and had several bullet holes. Police continue to search the area trying to find more guns and identify the people involved.
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Immigration Has Deported 263 in Just 40 Days

Immigration IssuesLa Prensa - So far in 2008, a total of 263 foreigners foreigners have been returned to their country of origin for having overstayed their welcome in Panama, according to the Director of Immigration Clovis Sinistierra. He said that most of those who have been deported were foreigners who entered Panama as tourists and then dedicated themselves to other activities. He did not expound on the details. Upon being discovered the foreigners paid the fine but that payment "does not justify failure to comply with the law," said Sinistierra.
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Gangsters Rob Bond Crew

Crime & Punishment By Neil Chandler for the Daily Star - JAMES Bond has a new enemy – Panamanian gangsters who are terrifying the makers of his next film Quantum Of Solace. 007 bosses have started filming in Panama City for the Casino Royale follow-up starring Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton. But an advance party of crew members were left shaken and stirred when they were robbed by locals. The film-makers then asked a local gang for help, a move which only enraged a rival mob who themselves vowed to target the movie team. So Bond chiefs also tried to make peace with the second gang – although muggings and theft of equipment has continued. They have also put local police on the case, who have their very own licence to kill because they have vowed to shoot on sight anyone hassling film-makers. Our source said: “They’re very worried that the cops will actually kill someone. It’s getting very tense.” (more)
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Fuel Prices Increase in Panama

Cars & TransportationPanama, Feb 8 (Prensa Latina) The combustibles most used by the Panamanian population - gasoline, diesel and propane went up in price again Friday, as per the government's Hydrocarbon General Office that periodically revises prices, but "does not mandate" them for distributors. The previous readjustment was made before Carnival on February 1, when gasoline price was reduced 19 cents allowing more than 40,000 cars to make trips from the capital to the interior of the country. However today Shell Oil communicated a problem with the arrival of a tanker, and instead of lowering, there is now a sudden artificial shortage and prices went up more than expected.
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Petaquilla costs double, mine seen "not slam dunk"

Gold & MiningBy Jonathan Spicer TORONTO (Reuters) - Development cost estimates at the Petaquilla copper project in Panama have more than doubled in the past year to $3.5 billion, its stakeholders said on Friday, putting the future of the project in jeopardy. In a statement, stakeholders Inmet Mining , Petaquilla Copper , and Teck Cominco Ltd said they believe the project "still has potential," while Inmet Chief Executive Jochen Tilk acknowledged the three companies had debated about whether to go ahead with the project. "When you look at the capital costs and operating costs, it's not a slam dunk," he said in an interview. "But, going forward, we think this is a very consistent pattern in the industry. It's very hard to believe there is another project of the quality of Petaquilla that could be developed at any lower development cost." (more)
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Soaring costs threaten Teck's Panama venture

Gold & MiningBy ANDY HOFFMAN From Saturday's Globe and Mail - Still reeling from its decision to shelve the Galore Creek project in British Columbia after construction costs more than doubled, Teck Cominco Ltd. is now facing massive inflation at another planned copper mine in Panama where costs have also doubled, throwing the viability of the entire project in doubt. Teck of Vancouver and its partners Inmet Mining Corp. of Toronto and Vancouver-based Petaquilla Copper Ltd. said an interim engineering report estimates capital costs to build the Petaquilla copper project have surged to $3.5-billion (U.S.) from an original estimate of $1.7-billion published last year. (more)
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It's that time of year again...

Money MattersAs exPats start getting their year-end brokerage statements and 1099s and K-1s they are reminded that it is tax filing time again.

For exPats in Panamá they may also have Panamanian taxes to file as well: individual returns are due 15 March, corporations (SAs) are due 31 March. A recent study of international taxes by the World Bank ranked Panamá among the worst in the Western hemisphere for ease of filing and clarity of the tax rules.

We’ve summarized some of the more important pieces to the complex rules for Panama returns -- which were changed by Resolution 201-2969 on 7 August 2007 for 2007 and beyond returns – and the filing deadlines for various USA taxes too. Go to www.panusatsvc.com and click on the FAQ button on the left hand side of the home page for more details.

Automatic extensions of 60-days for Panama returns and six months for USA taxes can be requested and are the best choice but only delay the filing of the returns, not the payment of any taxes due.

There is some good news about US taxes.

The best news for USA taxpayers who may have been dreading a 1099 from the bank if they let a property go for less than the balance on the mortgage, is the passage of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007. HR 3648 became Public Law 110-142 after President Bush signed it on 20 December. It amends the IRC to exclude from gross income amounts attributable to a discharge, prior to 1 January 2010, of indebtedness incurred to acquire a principal residence. Previously any debt forgiveness was treated as ordinary income. Under the new law it reduces the basis of the residence ‘sold’.

The Alternative Minimum Tax, which has been derided as a good idea badly executed for many years, was also amended but in late December. The effect of the changes has been overstated by the politicians, but some help is better than letting the exclusions revert to the 2001 levels which is what would have happened. There are some problems with the late effort. The IRS won’t have the related forms adapted until mid February. Even the tax preparers guides printed in late 2007 don’t have the revised numbers yet. Taxpayers who might be subject to the AMT should simply plan on filing a 6-month extension to wait for the tax rules and regulations and related forms to get sorted out.

. . . . .

Tom Rowley is a US CPA and Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor who consults with PanUS Accounting & Tax Services here in Panamá. He can be contacted at tom@panamaquickbooks.com
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Volcán Barú: Eruptive History and Volcano-Hazards Assessment

Earthquakes By David R. Sherrod, James W. Vallance, Arkin Tapia Espinoza, and John P. McGeehin for the U.S. Geological Survey - Volcán Barú is a potentially active volcano in western Panamá, about 35 km east of the Costa Rican border. The volcano has had four eruptive episodes during the past 1,600 years, including its most recent eruption about 400–500 years ago. Several other eruptions occurred in the prior 10,000 years. Several seismic swarms in the 20th century and a recent swarm in 2006 serve as reminders of a restless tectonic terrane. Given this history, Volcán Barú likely will erupt again in the near or distant future, following some premonitory period of seismic activity and subtle ground deformation that may last for days or months. Future eruptions will likely be similar to past eruptions—explosive and dangerous to those living on the volcano’s flanks. Outlying towns and cities could endure several years of disruption in the wake of renewed volcanic activity. Described in this open-file report are reconnaissance mapping and stratigraphic studies, radiocarbon dating, lahar-inundation modeling, and hazard-analysis maps. Existing data have been compiled and included to make this report as comprehensive as possible. The report is prepared in coooperation with National Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT) of the Republic of Panamá and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (more)
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George Jackson Renan - Making Threats from Bocas del Toro

What is PG?

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Last week someone called my office and threatened to kill me and my family, making a specific reference to my one year-old baby daughter, if I did not stop reporting on issues of land fraud in Bocas del Toro. I reported that threat, and it came at about the same time that a disturbed person with a user name "gjr867" left some threatening comments on my website. I simply deleted the comments and banned the user, but he came back today under a new alias and made some new threats. Unfortunately for him I take these things very, very seriously. I now know exactly who the person is who is making the threats - a guy named George Jackson Renan who lives in Bocas del Toro part time. All of the following information will be reported to the DIJ (what used to be the PTJ) before 10:00 am today. (more)

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The Original "Diablo Rojo"

History & Reference SF Gate.com Isthmus greetings: A whip-snapping devil oppresses Congos, or African slaves, in the Congos y Diablo carnival ritual in Nombre de Dios, Panama. The devil represents Spanish conquerors in the rite, which dates to colonial times. (Photo: AP/Arnulfo Franco)
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President Renews Veto Threat at Schafer Ceremony

Money Matters By Andy Eubank for Hoosier Ag Today - Yesterday the ceremonial swearing in of the 29th Secretary of Agriculture was conducted. President Bush said he and Ed Schafer are clear on the USDA’s priorities. “We will work to make our strong agricultural sector even stronger. Ed understands what I know, it makes a lot of sense to make sure we can grow our own food. It’s in our national security interest that we’re self sufficient in food. Farm income, farm equity and farm exports have reached all time records. The best way to keep the ag economy growing is to open up new markets for America’s crops and farm products around the world. Ed is going to join with other members of my administration to work to pass free trade agreements with Columbia, and Panama, and South Korea. Ed and I are going to work tirelessly to open up the foreign markets for US beef. We recognize that farmers also have the potential to help solve one of the greatest challenges, and that is our dependence on foreign oil. We will continue to work for renewable fuels, including a new generation of ethanol and biodiesel.” (more)
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Mechanical failure caused Panama spill

Panama News Sustainable Shipping.com - Decal Panama says this month’s bunker fuel leak from a storage tank on Taboguilla Island was caused by a “mechanical failure”. Spill was retained by floating boom. The accident happened on Friday near the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. “The spill happened as a consequence of a mechanical failure in a storage tank where a vessel was proceeding to discharge cargo,” said a statement from the company. “Almost all the product was contained in the retention bund designed for this kind of event although a small amount of product was released into the sea.” It said the sea spillage was retained by a boom and that clean-up work began immediately. The company, which specialises in storing marine fuels, said that by Tuesday two cubic metres of oil had been recovered. The statement added that teams from the company Ocean Pollution Control and Decal had also been cleaning oil from some 800 metres of shore line. It said clean-up operations were now complete. The leak triggered an "environmental alert" by the Panamanian authorities.
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Four Lizards New to Science Discovered in The Highlands of Panama

Animals & Pets Wildlife Extra.com - The first live endemic anoles ever discovered in this region were found in a single day during a biological research expedition at 6000 feet in the Serranía de Tabasara of the Panamian Highlands. As recently described in Herpetologia by Dr. Gunther Köhler and his research colleagues, all of the anoles found in the cloud forest of the Serrania de Tabasara mountain chain top at 6000 feet above sea level are almost certainly endemic to this area, considering their isolated geographical habitat. This makes them the first endemic reptiles ever discovered in the Serrania de Tabasara, which is a very poorly explored region, biologically speaking. (more)
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Quantum Of Solace - Daniel Craig Arriving in Panama

Entertainment MI6 News - Quantum Of Solace - 07-02-08 Daniel Craig expected in Panama today, shooting for `Quantum of Solace` starts in the country - Daniel Craig will arrive today in Panama to shoot scenes for the 22nd James Bond film "Quantum of Solace" - reports ANSA. Craig is expected tomorrow at hotel resort of Playa Bonita, a former American military base, 15 kilometers from the capital. Employees of the hotel are reportedly already hosting the crew. Only the major cast members are expected. Thanks to `Lipservice` for the alert.
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