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(506) 2223-1327               Published Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 12        E-mail us
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Rival cell phone services possible by September
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Mobile telephone customers might see new players in the industry by September, if the plans of the regulating agency work out.

George Miley, president of the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, made that prediction Monday as he spoke to about 200 persons who have an interest in bidding for the concessions. The Superintendencia plans a public competition to award segments of the radio spectrum that will be used for mobile telephones.

Three companies will have the bandwidth to offer cell telephone service, Miley said. These will be in addition to the existing service offered by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. So far the new arrivals that have expressed an interest in offering service are Telefónica, Cable & Wireless. Tigo Millicom, Digicel and América Móvil, said the Superintendencia.

The regulating agency plans to evaluate the technical and economic capacities of the company before awarding concessions.  Each company can win just one concession, Miley said. Each will be for 15 years with the possibility of extending the use of the frequencies for 10 more years.

The Superintendencia plans to get the technical
specification offers by Feb. 9 and the economic specification offers by March 19. The requirements are technical and include promises of coverage.

Each concession will have two pairs of frequency allocations that total 60 megahertz.

The concession offers will be the end of a long road that began in 1995 when the U.S.-based Millicom was forced to end cellular telephone service. The Sala IV determined that the new innovation infringed on the monopoly that was guaranteed to the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. Millicom had been offering the cell service here since 1989. Naturally it took the government monopoly more than a year to resume the cell service.

Once before the government tried to open up the telephone industry to private companies. Riots ensued and the idea was abandoned. The current opening is due to the free trade treaty with the United States. Having lost its monopoly service, the government-owned Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad fears a loss of income. The fears are well grounded because local telephone service, including cell service, is offered at less than cost.

The government telecom company has been dogged by complaints of poor coverage, overloaded systems and other flaws, not to mention less than stellar customer service.


Train operator ordered to reduce noise from horns
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman in Heredia has won a ruling from the constitutional court that orders the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles to reduce the noise of its train horns.

The ruling said that the noise should be reduced without jeopardizing vehicle traffic.

The horns have been very noticeable on the new Heredia-San José route because the institute has not installed crossing gates and other devices to protect vehicles.

The noise had been so loud that the owner of the Hotel Amistad has employed two crossing guards near the Barrio Otoya facility to keep train noise down. The two men stop morning traffic when a
train approaches to avoid the need for the train to announce its presence and wake hotel guests.

The woman who filed the case with the Sala IV lives in Santa Rosa de Santo Domingo de Heredia. She claimed she was having health problems due to the noise. She said she was having headaches and hearing problems. The train service begins at 5 a.m. weekdays.

The court ruled that the institute has to reduce the noise to reasonable levels and to do so without putting vehicles at risk. For a time, the new train service was wrinkling car fenders and doors at a rate of more than one a week.

The Poder Judicial, in an interpretation of the ruling, suggested that the institute might have to install crossing gates, as did the woman.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 12

Costa Rica Expertise
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Our readers' opinions
Calculated cost of living
favors being in Costa Rica

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I often read in A.M. Costa Rica how many people feel Costa Rica has become an expensive place to live. And that may well be so, depending on where in the world one is drawing a comparison.

My wife and I happen to provide a perfect real-time laboratory of an expense comparison. Every year we split our time almost exactly 50/50 between two very beautiful parts of the world; our house about an hour outside San Francisco, California, and our house on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. In California our 1,500-square foot house sits on a 1/3 acre lot nestled in the redwoods. We have two cars in California, both more than 10 years old. In Costa Rica our 2,700-square foot house sits on a 5-acre lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We also have two older vehicles in Costa Rica, both 4WD of necessity.

I just analyzed our living expenses in selected categories going back over five years. Of the total in each expense category I computed the percentage spent in California vs. the percentage spent in Costa Rica. The table below lists the results:

Hmm. Maybe things are not quite so bad here after all.

Robert Irwin
Costa Rica and California
costa of living

Traditional bull baiting
brings call for boycott


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 

I am leaving Costa Rica this afternoon with a sad heart. I am traveling with a group of 18 tourist that have been here for a week. We were taken to the festival in Palmares for our last day in Costa Rica. We attended what we thought was a rodeo Costa Rican style! We were appalled to see the horrible treatment of the animals in the name of "rodeo".
 
The bulls were kicked, spit on, hit with bottles, prodded by electric prods when they became tired of chasing drunken idiots around the ring. They had their heads tied to the fence as they were tortured with no way of escape. This type of behavior by humans on animals is disgraceful and unacceptable. The people of Costa Rica should be ashamed to allow this to happen. It is an indication of the mind set of the people of Costa Rica and as long as they allow things like this to happen to defenseless animals, they will continue to be a third or fourth world country.
 
We urge President Arias to lead the way to prevent this type of torture as he did when he championed the peace accord and human rights.
 
One of our fellow travelers is an executive of Coca Cola in Atlanta and he was surprised that Coke would allow their company to be associated with the sponsorship of such a horrific exhibition of animal cruelty!!. We have sent videos of these events to Coke so that they can see their name associated with this event. We are calling on all animal lovers worldwide to boycott Coca Cola, Bank Costa Rica, Imperial Beer and their associated brands.
 
Videos have been posted on U Tube calling for an international boycott of Costa Rica by tourists until this inhumane treatment ceases. We will not stop making this effort until we have assurance that the Costa Rican government does something about this terrible act!!
 
We leave Costa Rica with a heavy heart and thoughts of those poor animals. Shame on you Costa Rica
Otton Garcia
Miami, Florida

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Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 12

   
Check out the printed version of the Top Story news feed and see what  you  missed.
Enjoy Incredible Beach Sunsets and  Sunrises. With the Pacific Ocean and the awesome mountain behind.
Elegantly built to your specifications. Delivered and set up at your home in Costa Rica.

Tico rescuers are told not to venture into Haiti's streets
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica rescue workers along with 43 missions from other countries were ordered to stay in their quarters Monday because of the growing unrest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Some residents of the stricken capital city are adopting mob rule as they sack food trucks and loot. Security officers, some of them United Nations peacekeepers, had to use riot sticks and shields as well as tear gas to control the crowd.

The chaos is said to be growing.

The Costa Rica team managed to recover 10 bodies from the wreckage caused by Tuesday's earthquake before being called off the streets, said the national emergency commission here that is in radio contact. The rescue brigade first worked over the weekend at the collapsed telecommunications center in Haiti. Haitians said they heard voices coming from the structure at night but the Costa Rican team was not able to locate any survivors.

Sunday the team went into a residential neighborhood along with workers from Puerto Rico, the emergency commission said. During the morning and until 3 p.m. the team was able to survey 176 structures and recover 10 bodies from the wreckage, the commission said.

The Costa Rican team has its own security, but it also was protected by U.N. peacekeepers, the commission said. The Costa Rican Brigada de Rescate contains police, firemen and other professionals with special training in this type of work. They left for Haiti Friday afternoon.

Over the weekend, too, communication was re-established by a team from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad who put up a satellite dish for telephone, Internet and videoconferencing. This is one way the Costa Ricans on the ground are keeping in touch with their headquarters here.

Among other uses, Repretel, Channels 6 and 11, are using the dish to provide coverage from the Haitian capital. The telecom workers who installed the dish are Harry Ruiz Hernández, Jorge Corrales González, Luis Montoya Ramírez and Warren Jara Abarca, the institute said.

World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild the capital, after the 7.0 magnitude quake. Estimates now are that there are 200,000 dead.

Survivors have been living in makeshift camps on streets
Dish in Haiti
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo
Telecom worker finishes installation of a satellite dish at the Port-au-Prince airport.

that are strewn with debris and decomposing bodies.  Concerns about security have grown as hundreds of looters break into shops to take whatever they can find and fight among themselves.

The U.S. Army's commander on the ground, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, says the city is seeing less violence than before last week's earthquake.  The United States has taken over the airport in Port-au-Prince and is deploying thousands of troops to provide security to emergency workers and maintain transportation routes.

U. N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who traveled to Haiti Sunday, has asked the Security Council to send 3,500 extra troops and police to Haiti.

The quake affected some three million people, about a third of Haiti's population, according to estimates.

Separately, Haitians complain that President René Preval has been largely absent since the quake flattened nearly the entire capital last week.

The presidential palace collapsed in the quake.  Preval and members of his government have been meeting in a police station outside the city.  Critics say he has spent more time talking to international media than to his own people.  The president has yet to make a national address on the crisis.
Tens of thousands of bodies have been buried in mass graves.


Juvenile killer gets a symbolic 32-year prison sentence
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A juvenile court sentenced a 17-year-old murder defendant to 32 years in prison Monday for the murder of a judicial investigator. However, the law automatically reduces the term to 15 years because the accused is a minor.

The youth, whose name was not released, is one of the Jamaicans who were involved in a shootout with agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization Nov. 3 in San Antonio de Escazú. Killed was Randall López Garita.

The accused got 15 years for the López killing and eight
years each for the wounding of another investigator and a bystander in the same firefight. The court added another year for aggravated resistance.

The juvenile was not charged in the murder of Milena María Madriz Muñoz, 20, a Universidad de Costa Rica microbiology student. She was an innocent passerby who walked into a crossfire the week before in Los Yoses.

López and other agents were investigating that killing when they encountered the juvenile and other men in a car. The judicial agent died from a bullet fired by an AK-47 rifle. Adults have been detained in the same case.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 12


The Volcan Turrialba eruption Jan. 5 is caught in the waning light of day to provide this colorful photo.

The mountain still is perking.

Volcan Turrialba
Red Sismológica Nacional photo


Experts to check again emissions from Volcán Turrialba

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Volcano experts plan to be above Volcán Turrialba again today to sample the gases being emitted by the mountain. They also want to determine the concentration.

The volcano continues to put out ashes and gas, but nothing like the eruption Jan. 5.

Only two residents remain in shelters. Others have been settled in other homes in Santa Cruz de Turrialba. These are families who lived on the slopes of the volcano.

The Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social has provided stipends for those who wanted to rent homes. Household appliances as well as canisters of cooking gas have been provided to those still in the shelter, said the national emergency commission.

The experts flying over the volcano today will be from the
Universidad de Costa Rica's Red Sismológica Nacional. They made a flight Saturday, too, and discarded the idea that an avalanche might collapse one of the walls of the active crater, said the commission. This was a concern of some residents.

Rolando Mora, director of the Escuela Centroamericana de Geología at the university, said that experts also will try to sample the gas by hiking in on foot. The two sampling results will be compared.

Experts hope to learn the origins of the gas and ash and in that way make an educated guess on the future of the volcano.

Meanwhile, the emergency commission has prohibited entry to the Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba on the advice of geological experts. There is a yellow alert still in force for Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa de Oreamuno and Capellades and Pacayas de Alvarado, said the commission.



Leader of Qatar embarks on journey to include Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The leader of Qatar is coming to Costa Rica, but the exact dates still have not been announced. The Venezuelan ambassador to the emirate, Juan Antonio Hernández, said Monday that the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, will be visiting Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica as well as Venezuela. He was quoted in The Peninsula, the Arabian Gulf state's English online newspaper.

The emir has run the small country since 1995 when he deposed his father while the elder leader was traveling in Switzerland. The emir left Sunday on the first leg of his trip.
The emir, while crown prince, attended the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, according to the country's diplomatic service. He entered his country's military as a lieutenant colonel and quickly became a major general.

He is considered a seasoned diplomat and a promoter of amateur sports in his country.

Costa Rican President Óscar Arias Sánchez has made overtures to the Middle Eastern Arab states after he moved the country's embassy in Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

Sheikh Hamad met with former president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echerverría at the United Nations in 2000.



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 12

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Internet's language impact
sparks academic debate


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Since the first Web browser appeared on computer screens in 1994, the Internet has radically changed global communication.  With instant access to messaging and e-mail, the ability to circulate commentary and opinion has revolutionized the way people communicate.  This has had an affect on language and writing, but people still debate the scope of these changes, and whether or not they're for the better.

Eleanor Johnson is a professor in the English and Comparative Literature Department at Columbia University who attributes a growing misuse of language to the explosion of electronic communication.

"I think that text messaging has made students believe that it's far more acceptable than it actually is to just make screamingly atrocious spelling and grammatical errors," she said.

Ms. Johnson says that her students, over the past several years, have increasingly used a more informal English vocabulary in formal assignments.  University-level research papers, she says, are now being peppered with casual phrases like "you know" and words like "guy," informal usages that were absent almost a decade ago.  She attributes the change to instant and casual communication.  She's also seen an increase in incorrect word use, with students reaching for a word that sounds correct, whose proper meaning is just a bit off from what they intend to say. 

David Crystal is a British linguist and author of over 100 books, including 2001's "Language and the Internet."  Crystal says the dynamic nature of the Internet makes it difficult for comprehensive analysis of its effects to stay up-to-date.  He had to revise the book in 2006 to keep up with the changing technology.  But Crystal believes that the impact of the worldwide Web on language remains minimal.  "When we look at the specific effect of the Internet on language, languages asking the question, has English become a different language as a result of the Internet, the answer has to be no," he said.

Crystal says linguistic changes caused by the Internet run parallel to changes in the existing lexicon.  What we are not seeing is an alteration, but additions to the language, he said.

Erin Jansen, founder of Netlingo, an online dictionary of Internet and text messaging terms, also says the new technology has not fundamentally changed existing language but added immensely to the vocabulary.  Jansen has worked in the Internet industry since 1994 and agrees with Crystal that what we're seeing is more ways to use language to communicate.

"Basically it's a freedom of expression," she said.

Ms. Jansen says that while she has heard from frustrated educators about the new kinds of mistakes in spelling and grammar in student work, the expanding means of expression brings benefits to the classroom as well.

Both Crystal and Ms. Jansen point to e-mail as an example of people misunderstanding the Internet's overall effect.  They say that electronic mail is often informal, and so many people do not use proper spelling or grammar.  But they say this is more a reflection on the nature of the message then the writer's ability to use language correctly.

While Eleanor Johnson believes there is a strong connection between widespread mistakes in writing and Internet usage, she concedes that the scientific evidence might not exist yet to confirm her suspicions.  As an educator, however, Ms. Johnson says that there is no other widespread cultural innovation to explain the radical shift in language usage she's seen over the past few years.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 12


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New Sixaola bridge plan
expected by next April


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The sagging, one-lane bridge over the Río Sixaola between Costa Rica and Panamá might be replaced as part of an agreement of cooperation between the two countries.

The Comisión Binacional Permanente set up by the agreement met Monday and quickly addressed the Sixaola situation. The commission said that in either March or April a preliminary plan will be presented on the river. Included will be a proposal for Costa Rica to pay 65 percent of the cost and Panamá 35 percent for a new bridge.

The metal bridge has seen better days, and even those who walk over the bridge express concerns. Nevertheless, the structure is used by tractor-trailers.

The commission also considered the Parque Internacional La Amidstad, which is in both countries, and the concerns about immigration and security.

Costa Rica will be sharing electricity with its neighbor of the south under terms of an anillo de la amistad, a ring of friendship. Costa Rica constructed power plants at Moín and Cahuita for exportable power. All that remains is a transmission line.

Exit polls are permitted

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones said Monday that exit polls will be permitted for the Feb. 7 election as long as the results are not published or aired while the election still is taking place. Pollsters also have to respect voters who want to keep their choice secret.

Pollsters also have to stay outside the polling place.

The tribunal, following the dictates of the new election code, has imposed another restriction on free expression. News media are not allowed to divulge the results of polling for three days prior to the election.

For your international reading pleasure:

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