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Sunday, March 29 2015 @ 02:05 AM EDT

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Venezuela's Chavez to Travel to Panama to Broaden Energy Ties

Money Matters June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will travel to Panama on June 22 to broaden energy ties between the two Latin American countries. Talks will center on possible sales of crude and petroleum products to Panama, Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Rondon said in an interview with the state Bolivarian news agency. Chavez and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos also may discuss building an oil refinery in Panama as well, as the extension of a planned natural-gas pipeline between Venezuela and Colombia to the Central American country, Rondon said. Panama isn't in Venezuela's PetroCaribe initiative, which offers its 13 members petroleum products on preferential terms, cutting out third parties. Countries also are allowed to pay for oil in goods and are offered special financing.
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Influent's Colon, Panama Contact Center Honored

Internet & Technology DUBLIN, Ohio, June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has selected Influent's Colon, Panama contact center as an exemplary "best in class" facility. Each year, the DMA's Teleservices Council Programming Advisory Committee identifies outstanding facilities which embody industry best practices and demonstrate leadership in teleservices performance. The Colon contact center was featured in a virtual tour presentation to a packed audience at the 22nd Annual DMA Teleservices Conference held earlier this week in Newport Beach, CA. Influent, a leading provider of outsourced customer contact solutions with offices in the U.S., Philippines and Panama, created a truly unique conference experience that allowed teleservices executives from around the world to experience Influent's best practices without leaving their seats. A virtual tour DVD described how Influent has developed the facility, including every aspect from the original vision to construction, hiring, and employee development. The center is established at the former Ft. Davis Army base previously occupied by the American military as part of its management of the Panama Canal.
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AIDS Authority Warns Central America

Healthcare Panama, Jun 9 (Prensa Latina) Elizabeth Rodriguez, HIV/AIDS coordinator for Central America, alerted Friday of the dramatic regional situation of the mortal virus and outlined a series of measures to fight it. Rodriguez, official of the Social Central American Integration Office, told Prensa Latina that the problem has taken on great importance because most of the transmissions of the disease are between heterosexual people. She said there are many still incomplete studies to determine bisexuality, which makes the matter more complicated. AIDS is affecting women and young people in increasing numbers. In Central America, Honduras and Belize have the highest rate of affected people. “The disease has spread quickly in Central America because of migrations, so this makes it much more complex to control,” she said. Integral attention in the region, general care of basic services, especially to those with the disease, and access to public health services in some countries are some of the things that must be done, in opinion of the specialist. High vulnerability studies are being made in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, including studies of prostitutes and men who have sexual relations with them. She said her office is in charge of the important project of exchanging information and experience.
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"We Are Overdue and Under-Prepared" HHS Secy. Michael O. Leavitt in Panama

Healthcare Last week the Secretary of Health and Human Services of the United States, Michael O. Leavitt, visited Panama and addressed a meeting of the Health Ministers of Central America (COMISCA) at the Caesar's Park Hotel. His remarks and visit were centered around the threat of avian or pandemic influenza, and he announced more than $775,000 in funding for the Gorgas Institute to establish a key monitoring and detection facility for Latin America. Dr. Jorge Motta is now the Director of the Gorgas Institute, and this additional funding will help all of the nations of Central America prepare for the inevitable arrival of the avian influenza virus in this region. Panama's Minister of Health Dr. Camilo Allenye, in his speech before the assembly of his regional counterparts, outlined a plan through which the nations of Central America can work together and pool their resources to obtain advantages of scale with regards to procurement of drugs and equipment. This is the first time a sitting Secretary of Health has visited Central America. Secretary Leavitt's remarks follow below.



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Amphibian Crisis in Panama - It's Not Easy Being Green

Animals & Pets By Joseph R. Mendelson III and Ronald W. Gagliardo: Amphibians are undergoing a mass extinction event on a scale unprecedented in human history. Habitat loss, human exploitation, and environmental contamination are among the main causes of this threat of extinction. A deadly new threat has emerged recently. An infectious fungal disease called amphibian chytridiomycosis is having catastrophic effects on amphibians all over the globe. This disease may well be the result of global climate change. Recent events in Panama illustrate perfectly a pattern of amphibian decline clearly associated with this disease and the power of scientific data to that allows scientist to launch pro-active conservation responses. Recently, Dr. Karen Lips of Southern Illinois University and colleagues offered a model of a wave-like spread of the fungus across Costa Rica and Panama. This model predicted that in 2006 the rich amphibian fauna in the vicinity of El Valle de Antón in central Panama, would suffer a catastrophic decline because of chytrid fungus.
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CAFTA-DR Could Open New markets for Florida

Money Matters By JAMES THORNER: Out by the railroad tracks on Tampa’s Adamo Drive, Calvin Reed’s factory hisses and hums with steelworkers making girders and storage tanks. Heavy industry like steel is supposed to be dying domestically, the victim of cheap foreign labor. Don’t tell that to Reed and his 150 employees. More than a quarter of Reed’s market for petroleum storage tanks is in Latin America. The region is being courted by Florida as the United States pushes for passage of the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which would create a largely tariff-free trading bloc from Hudson Bay to the Panama Canal. Reed’s $50-million company, Tampa Tank Inc., was active in two recent trade missions — to Panama and Guatemala. One notable sale was a $4-million fuel tank to serve ships on the Panama Canal. If CAFTA-DR succeeds, expect the tropics to be on Reed’s itinerary more often. “I was impressed with the Panama trade mission. It was business. There was no tennis, golf or nightlife fooling around. We were in meetings the two days we were there,’’ said Reed, who’s conversant in Spanish from a boyhood spent partly in Argentina.
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Volleyball Men in Quarterfinals

Sports Section The Canadian Men's Volleyball Team have advanced to the quarterfinals of the inaugural Men’s 2006 Pan American Cup in Mexico. They beat Trinidad & Tobago in three straight sets. Scores were 25-17, 25-9, 25-19. Team Canada will now advance to the quarterfinals tomorrow where they will take on 37th-ranked Panama. A win over Panama would see Canada face the USA in the semi-finals on Saturday. http://www.cjob.com/news/index.aspx?src=loc&mc=sports&rem=40022
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Panama's Chief Proves Nimble on High Wire

Politics By Chris Kraul: PANAMA CITY — Not many leaders have the political dexterity to bear-hug Fidel Castro and male-bond with former President H.W. Bush soon after. But it's a balancing act that Panamanian President Martin Torrijos seems to be carrying off with aplomb. Torrijos, the 42-year-old son of the late strongman Omar Torrijos, knows a thing or two about the high wire: He has distanced himself from his father's authoritarianism without rejecting his legacy of winning control of the Panama Canal and reaching out to the country's poor. And he says that accommodating leaders on the left and the right in the region, as well as within Panama's fragmented political scene, is less a matter of personal predilection than of dealing with "geographical and economic reality." "We respect the different views in the region, the different stands of the countries, and we try to get along," Torrijos said, sitting in his ornate Spanish Colonial office in this capital's historic Old City.
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Bellhaven Ventures Reports High Grade Gold Values From its Los Hatillos Concession, Panama

Money Matters PANAMA CITY, PANAMA--(CCNMatthews - June 8, 2006) - Bellhaven Ventures Inc. (TSX VENTURE:BHV - News) is pleased to report on the results of continuing fieldwork on its Los Hatillos concession in the Veraguas Gold Belt of western Panama. The concession is located near two former gold producers: the Santa Rosa open pit mine (105,000 ounces) and the Remance underground deposit (89,000 ounces). Carl Nelson, president of Bellhaven, commented as follows, "Our field crews have confirmed the presence of high-grade gold mineralization at Los Hatillos. The next step will be an aggressive drill program to test 8 kilometers of established vein strike length for epithermal, base and precious metal, bonanza vein deposits." Surface samples collected by Bellhaven from steeply dipping, epithermal quartz veins at Aguacatal (Los Hatillos concession) returned up to 52.5 g/t gold. Sixty-one of 241 samples returned values in excess of 1 g/t gold; fourteen of those samples returned values in excess of 10 g/t gold. Analyses were performed by ACME Labs using standard assay procedures (30 gram sample, fire assay preparation, ICP-MS finish). Michael Druecker, Ph.D., is the Independent Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101 responsible for ensuring that the geological information in this release is accurate..
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Panama as an Incentive Destination

Travel & Tourism By A.E. Smith: Last October, Penny Wing and Ashle Trucano of Incentive Travel Inc. found themselves in a situation planners dread: They were six months deep in designing a Super Bowl-weekend trip for 170 guests to the Fairmont Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, when Hurricane Wilma effectively wiped their destination off the map. The trip was an annual event rewarding CBS Television's top football-season advertisers, and the attendees were well-traveled and hard to impress. But with only six weeks' preparation, the team was able to pull together an itinerary that wowed the client with singular events, stunning scenery, gourmet dining and excellent value. They went to Panama. If all the word Panama conjures are impressions of white linen suits, a canal built despite malarial plagues, Noriegan dictatorship and a mid-80s song by Van Halen, you're not alone; but if you haven't considered Panama as an incentive destination, you should. "Panama to me has everything you always wanted Central America to offer, but never could quite find," says Randolph Snapp, president of DMS Incentives, a Clearwater, Fla.–based DMC that has seen a steady uptick in demand this year.
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Panama Boxing Beat!

Sports Section Christian Giudice: This weekend, Panama will celebrate Saturday's big boxing extravaganza with "Alto Voltage" (High Voltage) an 8-bout card promoted by Promociones y Eventos de Isthmo. Highlighting the ATLAPA card will be Colon's Miguelito Callist (21-5-1, 16 KOs) facing Darien's Juan Mosquera (22-3-1, 14 KOs) over 10 rounds of light-welterweight action in one of the more competitive bouts in Panama City this year. Along with Callist vs. Mosquera (both WBA-ranked), in a do-or-die career match and possibly the most intriguing bout of the evening, William "La Esperanza Blanca" Gonzalez (18-2-1, 5 KOs) faces Wilmer Gomez (20-4, 6 KOs) in a 10-rounder for the WBA Fedecentro Super Lightweight crown. Flyweights Juan Piero Perez (9-1, 7 KOs) and Ronald Ramos (12-5-1, 6 KOs) also battle in a 10-rounder. In light-heavyweight action, Tito Mendoza (32-7, 25 KOs) takes on Ecuador's Washington Grueso (0-1-0) in a 10-rounder. Those fans who recall Mendoza as a 140-pounder, and later middleweight prospect can now see the power in his punch at 175+ pounds. The bout is the aftermath for Friday's much anticipated World Cup matches between Costa Rica and Germany, then Ecuador and Poland. After making the third defense of his WBA Light Flyweight title with a decision win over Venezuela's Noel "El Verdugo" Arambulet, Panama's Roberto "Arana" Vasquez has ended his reign and officially relinquished the light flyweight belt. Noting that his body has grown out of the division, Vasquez will move up in search of more prominent challengers and bigger paydays. http://www.fightnews.com/fightnews_2/headlines//EEuAZAVpklACKkNtPJ.html
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Samsung books $1.5 billion in ship orders

Money Matters SEOUL, South Korea (UPI) -- Samsung Heavy Industries has booked orders from Naviera Daniela of Panama and Danaos of Greece for 14 container ships worth a total of $1.5 billion. The vessels being ordered consist of eight Post Panamax class ships and six Panamax class ships, scheduled to be delivered at the end of 2009, Marinelog.com reported Thursday. The ships will operate between Europe and Asia.

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CWP Fined Heavily for Blocking Competition

Panama News In the last three days, the telephone company Cable & Wireless Panama (CWP) has been fined six times by the National Authority of Public Services (ANSP) and, in some cases, with severity. It was disclosed yesterday that CWP is being fined $10,000 a day until the company complies with a requirement to interconnect with a competitor, Telecarrier. But CWP has accumulated several other sanctions, among them a fine of $100,000 for altering documents related to long distance services. ANSP also imposed a fine of $30,000 dollars for obstruction of their competition. CWP also will have to face two fines of $1,000 each for blocking three-digit numbers on public telephones required to access competitor's services, and for noncompliance with a regulation stating how the telephone book should be formatted. The company was assessed one more a fine – of $5,000 – for breach of the norms of interconnection of its competitors. A CWP spokesmen said they would not comment on regulatory decisions while the processes are still being decided.
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Tourist forum on Veracruz

Travel & Tourism Next Tuesday 13 of June, the Panamanian Hotel Association and the Panamanian Association of Company Executives will hold a seminar called "The Potential of Tourist and Hotel Development in the Veracruz Sector." The purpose of the seminar will be to explore the benefits Panama would receive by developing Veracruz as a tourist zone and increasing tourism on the Pacific coast.
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Only 44% of Panamanian Students Attend Middle School

Panama News In Panama only 44% of the student population has access to middle school, which means that 56,421 students will not be educated above the primary level. The problem is accentuated in rural and indigenous areas where schools do not exist to allow students to continue secondary (high school) education. Although middle school education occupies the second line of importance within the budget of the Ministry of Education with $127 million dollars assigned, greater attention is requred from the State. Minister of Education Miguel Ángel Cañizales said extending the coverage of middle school education it is the main educational challenge facing the country. Greater funding is requred to address the problem, and the education budget for 2006 is $504 million dollars. The objective (with regards to middle school education) is to obtain the 55.3% of coverage reached in pre-school education, and the 100% of coverage reached in primary education. Juan Carlos Planells, director of the National Institute of Professional Formation Training for Human Development, said the problem is one of poor distribution of resources and identification of the problems and priorities in education. Nivia Rossana Castrellón, president of the National Union of Private Schools, said that only 10% of education resources go to help the poor and that too much is spent on the university level. State-owned universities have a budget of $160.4 million dollars, almost equal to the $165.92 million spent on primary education.
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More Beachfront Properties Linked to Rayo Montaño

Panama News Another 20 properties linked to Colombian narcotics trafficker Pablo Rayo Montaño have been discovered in Panama, specifically in the western sector, according to sources familiar with the investigation. They said two residences were located in the beachfront areas of Punta Barco and Las Uvas in San Carlos. Properties belonging to people associated with Rayo Montaño are being investigated in Gorgona, Chame, Santa Clara and Capira. The properties are in the name of figureheads of Rayo Montaño, with their respective titles enrolled in the Public Registry of Panama. So far the Drug Office of the public prosecutor has seized about 25 properties belonging to the organization that was dismantled through operation "Twin Oceans". Referring to this case, last Monday lawyers for Colombian soccer player Freddy Rincon filed for a writ of hábeas corpus before the Supreme Court of Justice after having been indicated as one of the presumed figureheads of Rayo Montaño. The request is in the hands of Winston Spadafora.
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Public Prosecutor Inspects SMN Offices

Corruption The Third Public Prosecutor for Anti-Corruption, Yolanda Austin, inspected the Direction of Human Resources of the National Marine Service yesterday to obtain the list of civil employees who worked in that organization in January of 2005, when sailor Natanael Chiari died. During the inspection it was learned that the SMN has not established regulations or norms to manage physical training of its members, and that they customarily use Defense Force standards.
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AMP Employees Investigated for Misuse of State Property

Crime & PunishmentThe Electoral Office of the public prosecutor ordered the investigation of two civil employees of the Panama Maritime Administration (AMP), among them Domingo Espino who is the chief of the AMP at the port of Mensabé in Los Santos. The measureme comes after an investigation into the reported use of state resources to promote an event on the expansion of the Panama Canal. Espino, who is the secretary of the Popular Party (PP) in Los Santos, and his sobordinate Isolda Saavedra, who is the coordinator of personnel in that port, used an AMP computer to produce invitations with the PP logo for the canal expansion event.
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Chinese National Busted With 1.7 tons of Pot

Crime & Punishment Agents of the Judicial Technical Police (PTJ) seized today more than 1.7 tons of marijuana from a Chinese national in a residential zone of the Panamanian capital. During the operation, executed in the sector of San Francisco, agents of the PTJ seized 757 packages of the drug, according to a PTJ news release. The total weight of marijuana seized was 3,785 pounds (1,720 kilos). Most of the haul, 627 packages, was seized in an automobile that the suspect was driving, and another 130 packages were found in a house where he was storing the drugs. Police did not release the name of the suspect, but said he has been referred to the Drug Office of the First Public Prosecutor of the Panamanian Public Ministry.
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Ricardo Garibaldo Will be Tried for Murder

Law & Lawyers Ricardo Garibaldo attended trial yesterday for the disappearance of popular opposition leader Heliodoro Portugal in May of 1970. The retired lieutenant colonel, who was accompanied by other ex-military officers such as Rubén Darío Paredes, pleaded innocent to the charges. The prosecutor asked a jail sentence for Garibaldo, who is the first military leader sent to trial for crimes committed during the years of the military dictatorship. "In March, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Second Superior Tribunal by ruling that the prosecution of members of the former National Guard in the death of leftist leader Heliodoro Portugal was not barred by the statute of limitations. Heliodoro Portugal disappeared in 1970. In 2000, his family identified his remains by DNA as those found in an unmarked grave on the grounds of a former military base in Panama City. At year's end, the Second Superior Court ordered the detention of Ricardo Garibaldo for his involvement in the disappearance and death of Portugal and the 2002 petition before the IACHR regarding the Portugal case remained pending." http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rsd/rsddocview.html?tbl=RSDCOI&id=4226d99520

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Carlos Jones Taken to Make Statement

Law & LawyersLast weekend an influential lawyer, Carlos Jones, was involved in a fatal accident at 3:00 am which resulted in the death of Nicolasa Vásquez de Díaz y Toribio Díaz. According to Jones he was hit from behind by another vehicle that caused him to lose control, cross the median, and hit the victims. When the accident occurred the police took Jones into custody and took him to the Santo Tomas hospital for a blood alcohol test. Jones basically slipped out the back door, disappeared for 24 hours, and then checked himself in to the Hospital Nacional where he was until this afternoon. There have been all kinds of uproar in the media over this case and pressure is growing on the government. This afternoon Jones finally left the Nacional Hospital, accompanied by this wife, the Second Superior Prosecutor and his children.
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How Kingston grabbed world's largest ship liner from Panama

Money Matters Noel Hylton: When the Danish shipping line Maersk made Kingston its regional centre in November, the decision involved pulling the hub that the world's largest container shipping firm had established in Panama, one of Jamaica's fiercest competitors in the transshipment market this side of the globe. The impact of the move is already being felt at Kingston's fast-growing transshipment port - where capacity is now being built to handle the 600,000 20-foot (equivalent) containers per year that Maersk is expected to bring to the port this year alone. The Port Authority of Jamaica, which owns the transshipment facility expects the number of 20-foot (equivalent) containers handled by Maersk each year, to jump to one million within the next five years, and is now building the infrastructure to handle the growth. "They (Maersk) will move up to about one million. It will mean that we have to create more space," Noel Hylton, executive chairman of the PAJ told the Business Observer yesterday.
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FIBA: PAN - Vecchio unveiled as Panama coach

Sports Section PANAMA CITY (FIBA World Championship) - Guillermo Vecchio has been unveiled as the new coach of the Panamanian national team. The first goal for the Argentinian, who comes from coaching in the domestic BSN league, will be to win the gold medal in the Centrobasket tournament, which Panama will host between July 4-8. “I came to Panama because I like challenges and this is one of them,” Vecchio said. However, the Centrobasket championship is not the only aim. He also wants to win the Central American and Caribbean Sport Games in Cartagena, Colombia (July 15-30) and have a good performance in the upcoming FIBA World Championship. Vecchio, who has previously managed the national teams of Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela, revealed he had a three-pronged vision. He said: “Stage A is to win Centrobasket, stage B is to claim the gold medal in Cartagena, while stage C is to raise the national team up to 10th spot in the world rankings.” Vecchio admitted it would not be easy but is happy to have inherited a squad of players who want to do well. "To taste glory motivates everyone,” he added. Panama were drawn in Group B of the World Championship, alongside New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Spain and Angola. http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=185598&src=0
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Central America talks energy ambitions

Money Matters MIAMI, FL, United States (UPI) -- Central American nations are making ambitious plans to improve the region`s energy sector, though experts are expressing doubts whether any, or even one of them, can come to fruition. At a weekend meeting in the Dominican Republic -- drawing representatives from 10 nations -- lofty goals discussed included a liquefied natural gas plant and a hydroelectric dam. But perhaps the most ambitious project of all -- and perhaps the least attainable -- is a $6.5 billion refinery that would pump an estimated 360,000 barrels a day. Both Panama and Guatemala are reportedly being considered by private, and yet unnamed investors, to host the facility. The plant would, in theory, be able to produce refined oil at $8 less a barrel than the going world market rate, said Mexican energy officials at the summit drawing representatives from Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama.
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Further to my Phishing Article

Internet & TechnologyBy Scott Granneman, SecurityFocus. Why phishing catches punters Take Arnold Rothstein, for instance. One of the kingpins of organised crime in New York City during Prohibition and before. The "Great Brain", as he was termed, was more than likely behind the infamous Black Sox scandal, in which the 1919 World Series was fixed in favour of the Cincinnati Reds. He is also widely credited with inventing the floating crap game immortalised in Guys and Dolls. Like some character out of a Damon Runyon story, Rothstein's "office" was outside of Lindy's Restaurant, at Broadway and 49th Street, and he associated with gangsters whose names still trip off the tongue three-quarters of a century later: Meyer Lansky, Legs Diamond, Lucky Luciano, Dutch Schultz. When it comes to colorful, clever criminals, Rothstein is at the top of the heap.
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Website Traffic - Another Record Broken

What is PG? I think that's a new record - there were 54 people reading Panama Guide at the same time this morning.
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This Week at the Expat Center

Groups & OrganizationsNext events at the Panama Expat Center (El Cangrejo): Today (Tuesday): Legal Seminar. Learn more about Visas, How to Buy Property, Estate Planning in Panama, Forming a Corporation, etc. Free Seminar thanks to Expat Sponsors Panama Relocation Attorneys, Aerocasillas, Clinica Dental Vallarino, Western Union, Coronado Golf & Beach Resorts, Dr. Ricardo Bullen. 7PM tonight. Call Gladys at 263-4356 for details. Tomorrow (Wednesday): The Rainforest Tour. A one day tour to the heart of the Panamanian Rainforest. Embera Drua Village, a 45 minute cayuco ride up the Chagres River. Call Gladys at 263-4356 for details.



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To Stem Widespread Extinction, Scientists Airlift Frogs in Carry-On Bags

Panama News By BRENDA GOODMAN: ATLANTA, June 5 — Of all the things airport security screeners have discovered as they rifle through travelers' luggage, the suitcases full of frogs were a first. In a race to save amphibians threatened by an encroaching, lethal fungus, two conservationists from Atlanta recently packed their carry-ons with frogs rescued from a Central American rain forest — squeezing some 150 to a suitcase — and requested permission from airlines to travel with them in the cabin of the plane. The frogs, snuggly swaddled in damp moss in vented plastic deli containers big enough for a small fruit salad, were perhaps the last of their kind, collected from a pristine national park that fills the bowl of El Valle, an inactive volcano in Panama. In many parts of the world, habitat loss is thought to be the biggest driver of amphibian extinctions, but the frogs in El Valle are facing a more insidious threat. A waterborne form of chytrid fungus is marching down the spine of the mountain range where they live. Scientists aren't exactly sure how the fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, kills, but it seems to break down a protein in the skin called keratin that may be important for respiration. The skin of infected animals sloughs off in layers, and within two weeks, they die.
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Flooding in Rio Quebro (Veraguas)

Weather A total of 84 people and 25 houses have been affected by flooding at the mouth of the Rio Quebro in the district of Mariato in the Veraguas province. According to the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC) 22 houses have been flooded in the community of Loma de Quebro and three in the region of Higuerenoso. The news release added that a weather system will continue to produce rains for the rest of the afternoon, and will affect the rest of the country this evening. (Editor's Comment: I spoke to Tom Giles of the Rio Negro Sport Fishing Lodge who lives up that way, and he told be it has been raining for more than 24 hours straight. He added that it's "no big deal" because the Rio Quebro floods every year. Cheap beach-front, maybe?)
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Investors to decide refinery location

Panama News The Mezo-American nations agreed on Sunday to leave the decision to investors on the site of the region's biggest proposed refinery, which would probably be in either Guatemala or Panama. According to reports reaching here, the agreement was part of a 35-page statement published Sunday after a three-day meeting of the Mezo-American Energy Integration Program (PIEM), which ended on Saturday in La Romana, close to Dominican capital Santo Domingo. Presidents and foreign ministers of the PIEM nations -- Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic -- agreed to begin a bidding for the planned 6 billion U.S. dollar refinery, which Guatemala, Honduras and Panama had offered to host. The PIEM, which first met in December last year, aims to complete four tasks: to build a massive oil refinery in a Central American nation, to create a "spine" of electricity links between the PIEM nations, to harmonize energy regulation across the region and to promote the use of sustainable and renewable energy.
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