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(506) 2223-1327           Published Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 21     Email us
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Another one of those blustery January days predicted
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The winds hit 64.7 kph at Daniel Oduber airport Sunday. That is 40.2 mph.  Not only Guanacaste faced strong winds. They also were felt in the rest of the country. San José registered a high wind of 39.3 kph (24.4 mph). On the north Pacific Coast, the winds were clocked at 58.4 kph in Santa Cruz, some 36.3 mph, according to the automatic weather stations maintained by the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

Winds are typical of the season, but the strength of Sunday's breezes prompted the weather institute to put out a midday warning. The warning said that the wind gusts may reach 80 kph in the mountains. That's nearly 50 mph.

The weather institute said that high pressure over the Caribbean was generating the strong winds as they blew west.

However, the winds were mainly in dry air, so the only rain that fell was in the Limón area. Just 9.2 millimeters (about .35 of an inch) was measured at the Limón airport where the highest winds were a moderate 20.7 kph or about 12.9 mph.

The weather institute warned of possible falling
windy daybranches and trees as well as possible damage to electrical lines and the chance that pieces of metal roofing might fly off.

The institute also warned of turbulence for small aircraft and also rough seas in both the Caribbean and the Pacific northwest.

The Caribbean winds were expected to bring more humidity and some rain into the the province of Limón and the northern zone today. But the Pacific should be clear with sunshine while the Central Valley has partly cloudy skies.


Traffic police list 80 schools as risky for students
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Traffic police have designated 80 educational centers for special handling as public schools opens Feb. 8.

These are schools where there is high risk for students due to the traffic that passes nearby.

Among the centers getting special treatment are Escuela República Dominicana in San Francisco de Dos Ríos, Escuela Juan Flores in Alto de Guadalupe,  Escuela Villalobos in Heredia and Escuela Guatemala, in Alajuela.

In Guanacaste traffic police said there are 19 schools that will be subject to the special attention. In Limón the effort is focused on those schools that face the
heavily traveled Ruta 32. That holds true elsewhere, they said and includes the Interamericana highway and Ruta 4.
The  Policía de Tránsito will have 180 officers in two shifts assigned to these schools. Others will be patrolling schools that are not tapped for special attention, said César Quirós, police director.

The traffic police also urged parents to show a good example to their children by sticking to the rules and not crossing highways at dangerous points. Officers said that many parents who are in a rush to get to work themselves cut safety corners when taking children to school.

In addition to putting police at priority schools, traffic officers will be checking the permissions of those vehicles that carry children. Every year drivers are caught without the appropriate permissions, which require a lot of paperwork.

Officers also are under orders to check taxis for excessive numbers of passengers.


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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Fatal fire in Guadalupe
results in investigation


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire investigators and judicial agents are seeking the cause of a blaze in Guadalupe, Goicoechea, that resulted in the death of a 53-year-old man early Sunday.

The dead man was Rolando Leitón Soto, said a report from the Cuerpo de Bomberos. The blaze was in an auto repair shop where the victim has been sleeping. It was near his home.

The fire agency report said there did not appear to be a reason for the fire to start accidentally, so investigators are continuing to seek the cause along with judicial agents.


Hospitalized youngsters
introduced to stamps


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hospitalized youngsters are getting the chance to become stamp collectors.

The Hospital Nacional de Niños, the Museo de Arte Costarricense, Correos de Costa Rica and Expo Filatelia Nacional 2012 announced a series of workshops where ill youngsters will have a chance to learn about the world via stamp collecting.

The hospital considers stamp collecting therapeutic, said a release.

Expo Filatelia Nacional 2012 is open through Saturday at the museum. The postal service is providing stamps that have the theme of no violence for youngsters from all over the world.

There also is a series of guided tours for hospital patients to the Museo de Arte Costarricense. Also visiting will be youngsters who are in shelters of the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.


Quake reported offshore
in Gulf of Papagayo


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An afternoon quake in the Gulf of Papagayo Sunday rattled homes and other buildings on shore, but there was no reported damage. The quake appears to have been felt just in the Guanacaste area.

The quake took place at 4:11 p.m. about 27.4 kilometers (about 17 miles) below the surface of the Pacific. The quake was 25.8 kilometers (about 16 miles) northwest of Playa Potrero in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, said the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica at the Universidad de Costa Rica. The laboratory estimated the magnitude at 3.4.


Consular staff to train

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The consular section of the U.S. Embassy will be closed today while staff members there undergo unspecified training.

The section will reopen again at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, said an embassy announcement.  The embassy staff still will field telephone calls from U.S. citizens who are facing an emergency, the announcement said.

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 21
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Caja urges basic health care to avoid the current wave of flu
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health workers have confirmed an increase in serious cases of respiratory infection caused by the influenza viruses. They said that there were confirmed cases in San Miguel de Desamparados, Aserrí, Curridabat, Goicoechea, Pavas, Paraíso and Orosí de Cartago and Los Santos.

The increase is not unusual during this time of year, said the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. However, the Caja's  Unidad de Salud Colectiva urged that individuals take basic precautions to avoid infection, such as hand-washing.

The viruses are the H1N1 and the H3N2.

The Caja announcement noted that children and persons with
chronic illnesses are the most vulnerable to the viruses.

Three persons, including one with a chronic illness, have died in the last few days due to the viruses, said the Caja. Four more persons are in intensive care, according to the report released Friday.

The Caja urged persons with a temperature of 38 degrees C (about 100.4 F) or more and with difficulty breathing to go to the nearest clinic.

Also vulnerable are persons with asthma, diabetes, heart problems and children under 2 as well as pregnant women, obese individuals and seniors, said the Caja.

The Caja said it had enough medicine for the current flu wave.


Turrialba volcano neighbors spend four hours with experts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An active volcano can really bring together a community. That is what happened Friday when experts met with residents around the Volcán Turrialba.

The national emergency commission set up the meeting, which lasted four hours. The commission said that residents got a complete explanation of what was happening in the volcano. Still unanswered is how long this activity will continue. Residents were told a few days, a few months, perhaps a year.

The meeting was in the community of La Pastora which is on the skirt of the volcano. Experts from Sismológica Nacional of the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico at the Universidad Nacional and the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias attended, as did María Elena Montoya, the Turrialba mayor, and other politicians.

One suggestion that seemed to find favor with those attending was the need to construct bunkers near the volcano summit so that tourists can take refuge if caught by a sudden eruption.

Residents also pushed for better roads, both for tourism and evacuation.

The Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba continues to remain closed due to the recent activity, which included the creation of a new aperture in the third crater of the mountain. Officials said the park would remain closed until the safety of visitors could be assured.

The emergency commission said that the meeting addressed many rumors that have been in circulation about the volcano. The experts also visited the communities of La Picada and La Silva where they saw first-hand the effects of acid rain on the vegetation.
Turrialba flame
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico/ Javier Pacheco Alvarado
The flame is the result of spontaneous combustion as superheated gases from the volcano reach the oxygen in the air. The photo was made Jan. 18 about 5:30 p.m.

Several community leaders already have brought the various communities together to plan evacuation routes and also locations where refugees could be housed if the volcano increased its activity.

Emergency commission members reminded the residents that the volcano is being monitored continually and that any changes will be noticed immediately.

The crater that is showing activity is the one furthest to the west.  Experts were on the mountain a week ago to witness a red flame shooting from the newly formed aperture in the crater. The observatory said that the flame is the result of spontaneous combustion when the gases from the volcano come in contact with oxygen in the air. The temperature was estimated at 700 C or about 1300 F.  The gases are hydrogen, sulfurs among other emissions, the observatory said.

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New research questions time the American continents joined
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

New research challenges the idea that Panamå uplifted to join the Americas just 3.5 million years ago. Work on the new canal lane there suggests that much of the land was above sea level from 37 to 21 million years ago, according to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

However, there is additional conflicting evidence.

The lead author of the latest research paper is Camilo Montes of the institute with eight other academics.

The time when the isthmus joined North and South America has seemed to be settled science at about 3 million years, and a number of research efforts accept these dates as fact. The Smithsonian said that the joining radically altered the world’s climate and set the scene for a great interchange of plants and animals from north to and from south.

Genetic studies of marine organisms separated by the formation of the Isthmus are all based on research by the Panama Paleontology Project that sets the date for the connection at about 3 million years ago, the institute noted.

The new research is controversial and suggests a much earlier uplift of most of the isthmus. The paper finally has been published online by the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America in its Jan. 13 issue. This is the second paper on the topic, and a third and final effort is due soon. This completes a series of articles that outline a new model for the evolution of Panamá, said the institute.

The new research uses reports from 2,000 fields stations and some 70 analyses, including some for the search for petroleum. “This data set suggests that the isthmus was an uninterrupted chain above sea level from late Eocene until at
Panama ujplift
NASA photo
This is the point where the continents join

least late Miocene times,” said an abstract prepared by the Geological Society of America.

On the other hand, another Smithsonian Institute researcher has found a 2.3 meter marlin fossil in the Panamá Caribbean tidal zone. Such fish are typical of the open ocean and the deep seas, the institute said. The researcher, Carlos De Gracia,  inadvertently thrust himself into the debate over the uplift of the Isthmus of Panama and suggests that six million years ago, marlin were common in a deep ocean environment at the Caribbean entrance of the current canal, said the institute. The fossil claims a Central American record for the most-complete marine vertebrate fossil yet discovered, said the Smithsonian.

Serious researchers do not doubt that the isthmus was lifted above sea level by tectonic activity, that is the movement of the plates on which the continents ride. The open question now is did the isthmus close 3 million years ago at the start of the current ice age or much earlier.


Woman, 18, dies in Escazú drive-by shooting early Sunday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A drive-by shooting in San Antonio de Escazú Sunday morning killed an 18-year-old woman and injured the 15-year-old boy she was with.

Investigators have not established a tentative motive.

The two victims were standing on a corner early Sunday when a vehicle drove by and someone inside fired multiple times at them, said investigators.
The woman was identified by the last names of Castro Solano. The boy was identified by the last name of Chavarría, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The boy was reported in serious condition in Hospital San Juan de Dios with a wound to the back.

San Antonio is several kilometers south and up the mountain from Escazú Centro. This type of criminal activity is unusual in the community.

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Chávez sees better days
with Obama again at helm


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez says that he hopes for a better relationship with the United States if U.S. President Barack Obama is reelected.

During a news conference at the presidential palace in Caracas late Friday, Chávez said he hoped that if Obama is re-elected, the two leaders could shake hands and have a great relationship.

The Venezuelan president also referred to an interview Mr. Obama gave to to the Spanish language television network Univision this week.

"Obama said he would give more importance to Latin America. He has not done this. I think it is one of the big mistakes he has committed," Chávez said. "He speaks about mistakes in his interview. One of the big mistakes that government has committed is to not communicate with Latin America and to delegate that communication to non-diplomatic entities like the U.S. Southern Command. The roles that should be assumed by him or by his secretary of State are filled by war mongers, by the CIA."

Chávez also denied reports published in a Spanish newspaper that said he was dying. He told reporters he was as strong as ever, and the Spanish media simply wishes he would die.

Like Obama, Chávez is running for re-election this year, in his case, to a third term. Relations between the U.S. and Venezuela have been tense since Chávez was elected in 1998.


Former Guatemalan leader
faces genocide charge


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A judge in Guatemala has ruled that there is sufficient evidence to try former dictator Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide during his time in power from 1982 to 1983.

The judge ruled Thursday in Guatemala City that Montt should answer to charges of responsibility for mass killings of thousands of indigenous people in their villages. The killings were part of a counterinsurgency effort aimed at leftist rebels in Guatemala's 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.

Montt has been placed under house arrest until further proceedings.

Montt lost his seat in Congress last year, and with it, the immunity from prosecution granted public officials.


Death toll in Brazil rises
to 17 in building collapse


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The death toll from the collapse of three buildings in Brazil has risen to at least 17 people.

Officials say rescue workers pulled more bodies from the rubble Saturday, three days after the office buildings collapsed in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

At least seven people remain missing. Authorities say they do not expect to find more survivors.

The three buildings that fell were between four and 20 stories high. Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said the collapse appeared to be caused by structural problems and not a gas leak as first suspected.

Witnesses said they heard what sounded like an explosion Wednesday evening, and then, with a rumble, the top floors of the buildings began collapsing, covering nearby vehicles with a thick dust.

Officials say the buildings were for commercial, not residential, use.

The incident comes as Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and two years later, the Summer Olympics.


Police and protesters clash
in Oakland invasion try


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police in Oakland, California, arrested some 200 anti-Wall Street protesters who attempted to occupy a vacant building.

The clashes began Saturday when activists torched an American flag in front of City Hall before breaking into the historic building and damaging art exhibits inside. The protesters later marched to an empty convention center they wanted to convert into a social center and tore down fencing. 

Police say the protesters threw rocks, bottles and other objects at officers who responded by firing tear gas and bean bag rounds (less lethal shotgun ammunition). Officials say three police officers and one protester were injured. 

During a press conference Saturday, Mayor Jean Quan called on Occupy protesters to stop using Oakland as its playground.  She blamed the destruction on a violent splinter group within the Occupy Oakland demonstration.

An estimated 1,000 people attended Saturday's march.

The national Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York in September. It says it represents the "99 percent" - those outside the top 1 percent of wealth holders.

Meanwhile, authorities in Washington, D.C., are planning to evict Occupy protesters from two parks where they have been camping since October.

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U.S. motorist dies in crash
of pickup in Carrillo


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U. S. citizen traveling on the Nicoya peninsula died in a hospital after his truck flipped on the roadway.

According to Judicial Investigating Organization agents the accident occurred Thursday, and the driver died at 5:30 a.m. the following day in Hospital CIMA in Escazú. The man who died was the driver of the vehicle and was identified as, John Darran Cochram, 46.

He was traveling with four other passengers, all foreigners, who survived the crash and were only treated for minor injuries at a hospital in Liberia, said police. The vehicle was a Toyota pick-up, and the accident occurred around midday in Playa Carrillo in Guanacaste. The cause of the accident had not yet been determined by authorities Sunday.

A spokesperson from the Judicial Investigating Organization presumed the group in the vehicle were tourists vacationing in Costa Rica.


Internet firm planning
more business services


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the struggling subsidiary of the country's telecom giant, has agreed to let Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia and COOPELESCA, a cooperative in the northern zone, to use its fiber optic network. The companies will offer their own services via the cable, said the public Internet provider known as RACSA.

RACSA's parent firm, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, is firmly in the Internet business, too.  The announcement came Thursday night at a meeting that RACSA officials said was designed to relaunch its services for large and medium businesses.

The company said it is offering cloud computer, voice over Internet, Web television, highway controls for public agencies and wireless services, among others.

RACSA is making a $5 million investment in a fiber optic cable. Some 200 kilometers already has been installed of a proposed 1,000 kilometers, the firm said.  The company is continuing to negotiate with Grupo ICE for joint use of the cable, it said.


Football season begins
Saturday in Desamparados


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Most U.S. professional football players are getting ready for a little sports fishing or trips with the family. Only the teams that will meet Sunday in the Superbowl, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, still have a game date.

In Costa Rica, the football season is just beginning. The first game is Saturday at 2 p.m. when the Rhynos meet the Bulldogs. The second game is the same day at 7 p.m. with the Toros meeting the Dragones. All games are at the Cuty Monge Stadium in Desamparados.

There are two games every Saturday leading up to the semifinals April 21 and the championship game April 28.

Also Saturday this week is a final match for flag football players. That is at 5 p.m.










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