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(506) 2223-1327      Published Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 29       E-mail us
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Environmental judges set their targets for 2009
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
 
The nation's environmental tribunal will turn its attention to the many pineapple fields in the
Caribbean and northern zone in its first sweep of the year.

This is the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo which has frozen dozens of construction sites on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts during 2008 for ravages of the landscape or invasions of waterways.

Water pollution will be the main focus in March when the tribunal again takes to the field, said José Lino
environmental studies
Chaves, president of the agency. The tribunal has received many complaints about pollution of streams and rivers from agricultural chemicals of the type used in pineapple production.

In June the tribunal will turn its attention to the rivers and streams in the greater metro area. These waterways are correctly considered open sewers which carry the sewage of the cities to the Río Grande de Tarcoles and then the Gulf of Nicoya. Plans are afoot to build a Central Valley treatment plant, but that will not happen for several years.
The tribunal will be looking for specific sources of pollution that can be stopped.

Developers, however, will not be off the hook completely. In 2009 the tribunal plans three sweeps in the Pacific and one in the Caribbean.

In April, tribunal judges, investigators and experts will be on the Nicoya Peninsula, according to a Tuesday announcement.

In August the sweep will be in the vicinity of Filadelfia and Carrillo in Guanacaste. The October target is the Provincia de Limón and the Caribbean coast.

December will find the tribunal at the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay and the Golfo Dulce, it said.

The tribunal has the power to halt construction and bar access to construction sites and existing structures. Violators are subjected to fines, the creation and execution of a mitigation plan and sometimes demolition of their projects.

This year an addition judge has joined the tribunal. He is José Luis Vargas, an engineer who most recently served as human environment director at the Ministerio de Salud.

The tribunal is an agency of the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones.


On-again, off-again airport deal reported as on again
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Houston Airport System Development Corp. still wants to take over operations at Juan Santamaría airport, and the management firm is prepared to invest $30 million without waiting to secure third-party financing, the transport ministry said Tuesday.

The Houston firm had reached an accord with Alterra Partners, the current airport operator, but the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos in November modified tariffs, and the company predicted cash-flow problems.

Karla González, the minister of Obras Públicas y 
Transportes, said that Houston Airport System was able to redraft a budget to accommodate the reduced income.

The Consejo de Aviación Civil has approved the budget, and it will go to the Contraloría General for final approval tomorrow, Ms. González said. The Contraloría gave the parties in the agreement 60 days to reach an accord after Houston Airport System expressed concern about the tariffs.

Houston Airport System is expected to pick up where Alterra left off in completing the infrastructure work at the airport. Pending approval by the Contraloría, work is expected to resume in May, Ms. González said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 29

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Natural compound found
to be better bug chaser


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those expats who want to be as green as the Jolly Green Giant yet still keep mosquitoes away may soon have an option.

A new report said that a natural compound called isolongifolenone is more effective than DEET in repelling insects.

The findings are outlined in an article by Aijun Zhang and others in the Journal of Medical Entomology, according to the Entomological Society of America, the journal's publisher.  Isolongifolenone is found in the tauroniro tree (Humiria balsamifera) of South America, and also repels ticks, which can carry disease.

Derivatives of isolongifolenone have been widely and safely used as fragrances in cosmetics, perfumes, deodorants, and paper products, and new processing methods may make it as cheap to produce as DEET, the society said.

The authors found that isolongifolenone deters the biting of the Aedes aegypti and Anopheles stephensi Liston mosquitoes more effectively than the widely used synthetic chemical repellent N,N-diethyl-3-methyl benzamide (DEET) in laboratory bioassays, said the society. These are the mosquitoes linked to malaria, yellow fever and dengue, all serious diseases of the tropics.

Since “isolongifolenone is easily synthesized from inexpensive turpentine oil feedstock,” the authors wrote, “we are therefore confident that the compound has significant potential as an inexpensive and safe repellent for protection of large human populations against blood-feeding arthropods.”


Girl wins right to wear
skirt to her school class


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The family of a Tres Rios secondary student had to fight up to the Sala IV constitutional court to affirm the girl's right to wear a skirt.

In a decision announced Tuesday, the magistrates ordered the school officials to permit the girl to attend classes in a skirt. The girl's father, identified by the last names of Salazar Campos, protested the school's December 2007 decision to require all the female students to wear pants.

He said his family was not Catholic and their religion prohibited women from wearing pants, according to the decision. The family's beliefs were not explained further.

When he was denied his request by the school officials, he sought relief in the courts. He brought the case against the school, the Colegio Ing. Alejandro Quesada Ramírez, and the  Ministerio de Educación Pública.


Our readers' opinions

His mother beat cancer
with wheat grass and diet


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I’ve been reading with interest what I perceive as the closed mind of Dr. John Cocker in the debate of alternative medicine vs. the allopathic approach. Permit me to relate a simple case of lymph cancer that my mother had. Back in the mid 1970s, my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma. Her doctor wanted her to undergo an immediate treatment of chemotherapy and radiation.

My mom, always an independent thinker, had read widely about all health matters. She decided that she would rather undergo an alternative approach and chose a regime of wheat grass and a whole food diet as advocated by Ann Whigmore in Boston.

When she related this to her doctor, he flat out told her she would be dead in six months if she chose that treatment. Never to be intimidated by doctors, she told him that she would be dead in six months if she did undergo his treatment. As a result of this the doctor sent her a registered letter divorcing himself as her physician. Perhaps he was afraid of a future lawsuit, or perhaps he was simply a horse’s ass.

To make a long story short, within six months, after following a very strict regime of alternative treatment, she went back to another physician for a checkup. The doctor could find absolutely no trace of lymphoma in her body and she lived a cancer free life for another 7 years.

Warren Kinsman
San José

People fearful in Grenada
because of U.S. invasion


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have often considered airing an opinion in your paper, but it wasn't until I read the article by Mr. Bruce Simpson of Miami, Florida, that I felt absolutely compelled to respond.

In the "opinion" article published in the Tuesday, Feb. 10th's online paper, he identified himself as a "mercenary" who took part in the invasion of Grenada in the 1970's. He states that the people were ". . . full of fear because the existing regime was...suppressing all rights."  I would posit that the people were indeed full of fear, but rather that their fear was the result of their peace being invaded by an army of gun-waving special forces trained in the art of killing. 

Mr. Simpson further writes that he was in Panamá, several days after that "invasion", and that  ". . . the people were happy to see change coming to their country,"  although he doesn't state in what capacity he was involved in that invasion. Was he involved in the arrests and detentions of politicians and labor leaders?  I'm sure they were very happy with being unjustly incarcerated for over 18 months. Or, was he involved in something more sinister, such as the cold-blooded execution of an estimated 4,000 Panamanians? 

Was he walking the streets of the poor people whose neighborhoods were purposefully torched and burned to the ground?  I'm sure he would have found a lot of happy, welcoming faces there.

Yes, I couldn't resist airing a reply to Mr. Simpson's opinion because he is so obviously either at best, a misguided agent of disinformation, more commonly called a liar...or at worst, an agent of the empire's "intelligence" community.

Steven Mudd
Alajuela


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 29


Housing minister expresses her lunch regrets to lawmakers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislativa hosted a confession of sorts Tuesday when Clara Zomer, minister of Vivienda and a former lawmaker herself, came to plead her case and explain her role in a luxury lunch at an upscale Escazú restaurant.

The $1,100 lunch already cost one official his job, and the man, Ennio Rodríguez, said it was Ms. Zomer who ordered the champagne and other alcohol at the Nov. 11 lunch.

Rodríguez was general manager of the Banco Hipotecario de la Vivienda. The meeting of government housing officials was billed as a work session where the topic was how to eliminate slums.  The restaurant was Cerutti in San Rafael de Escazú, and the bill in colons was 627,000.

In her appearance Tuesday afternoon before the full legislature, Ms. Zomer said she had admitted her error
publicly and that she never should have permitted a work session of this type. She said she was humbly asking forgiveness from legislators and the people of Costa Rica.

Observers said that she did not add new facts to the scandal and did not say if she was the person ordering the alcohol.

Originally the lunch bill was paid with government funds, but Rodríguez reimbursed his agency before he quit last week.

Ms. Zomer attended the lunch because she is by virtue of her office on the board of the Banco Hipotecario de la Vivienda. She said that none of the directors knew what was planned before they showed up at the restaurant.

Although the minister received hard questions, she also found defenders among her former colleagues, and some simply said that the legislature has more important work. She served in the legislature until August when President Óscar Arias Sánchez named her housing minister.


Emergency commission finally will build dike in Matina
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Every time there is a heavy rain, residents in the Cantón de Matina near Limón centro are flooded. The culprit is the Río Chirripó.

The national emergency commission said Tuesday that it would invest a billion colons in building a dike to protect these frequently flooded areas. The amount is about $1.8 million.

Daniel Gallardo, president of the national emergency commission, was in the Provincia de Limón Tuesday supervising the work of assessing the damages from the cold front that passed over Costa Rica and prompted seven days of downpours and flooding. He said that the dike would protect Corina, Bristol, Baltimore and B Line.

In addition, emergency commission crews were at work Tuesday repairing a dike at Placeres and fixing roads in the vicinity of the Río Sixaola in hard-hit Talamanca so that banana producers could get their crop transported.

The work was in Las Brisas and Las Vegas and in the
districts of Bratsi and Telire. These are areas with heavy native populations.

More than 496 persons remained in government shelters Tuesday. More than 1,000 refugees have returned home. Two shelters were open in the Cantón de Siquirres, at the public school in Peje and in the guest house of the Compañía Bananera.

The bulk of the flooding refugees were in the Cantón de Talamanca, including the Iglesia Evangélica de Celia with 110 persons, the school at Catarina with 200 persons, the school at BriBri with 110 persons and the Catholic church in BriBri with 19 persons, said the commission.

There still are communities isolated in Talamanca, the commission said, and work continued to repair damage to Ruta 36 that connects Sixaola with BriBri.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that strong wind gusts still are to be expected today. Pavas registered one of 50 kph (30 mph) Tuesday. Higher temperatures also were expected and rains are expected to be restricted to the mountains, the institute said.


Six construction workers found traveling to job site with forged cédulas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Six Nicaraguan construction workers headed to a hotel job in Matapalo did not get very far Tuesday. They were detained in Santa Elena because police determined that they were traveling with false permanent residency documents.

One of the men told officers that he had paid 40,000 colons (about $72) to obtain the document in Managua, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. However, the men thought that the documents, called
cédulas, were originals. Police were able to check to determine that they were not.

The six were traveling together in a vehicle.

The men had reason to believe the documents were originals.  There is a steady trade in stolen Costa Rican passports and residency documents.

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería has invested in computerized devices that are not easily forged.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 29


ICE chief Quiros doubts need for power blackouts this year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The head of the country's former electrical monopoly said Tuesday that he doubts that electricity will have to be rationed this year. The company has used rolling blackouts to handle the electrical needs beyond the company's production capacity. This happens mainly in the dry season when reservoirs feeding hydro plants have low water levels.

The executive president of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, Pedro Pablo Quirós, made the statements at the company's La Sabana headquarters where officials were promoting a $500 million loan being sought for the electrical and telecommunication company from the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo.

The legislature has to approve the deal, and officials hope this is done by May.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, known as ICE, has purchased petroleum-fired generators as backups to avoid the blackouts experienced two years ago.
Quirós said that electrical demand was increasing at a rate of from 5 to 6 percent a year.

Some of the money will go towards the construction of generating facilities. The Toro 23 and Pirrís plants are expected to go on line in 2011. These will be followed by the Reventazón in 2014, El Diquís in 2016, Pacuare in 2019 and the Savegre in 2020. Each of these is a hydro project that requires the construction of a dam, and many are controversial.

The company's Cariblanco plant is out of service for a year or more after sustaining heavy damage during the Jan. 8 earthquake and afterwards. The company also is pursuing thermal and wind power projects.
 
Also Tuesday the legislative Comisión Permanente Ordinaria de Asuntos Agropecuarios was putting the finishing touches on a bill that would detail the awarding of concessions for the generation of hydro power. The measure is designed to fill in some blanks in the nation's laws regarding hydro concessions, lawmakers said.


Fewer journalists killed in 2008, but intimidation continued
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new report from a leading media watchdog group says the number of reporters killed and jailed worldwide is down for the first time since 2001, but that journalists continue to be the target of violence and intimidation intended to suppress the truth. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, reports in its annual "Attacks on the Press " that 41 journalists were killed in 2008 — down from 63 the previous year.

"The number of journalists killed in the line of duty last year actually fell significantly for the first time in a while, mostly because of the reduced deaths in Iraq," said Paul Steiger, CPJ chairman. "Journalists are still being killed in huge numbers, more than 40 last year, more than 100 in the last two years combined, and of those deaths roughly 70 percent were deliberate murder."

The study's authors note that the drop in deaths is mostly attributable to improved security conditions in Iraq, where 11 Iraqi reporters were killed in 2008. That's down significantly from the previous years, but the report finds that Iraq is still a very dangerous place for journalists.

The study also found that 125 reporters around the world were jailed last year. More than 45 percent of them were Internet journalists — bloggers, web-based reporters or online editors.

American journalist Carl Bernstein wrote the introduction
to the CPJ study. At the Tuesday United Nations press conference that launched the report, Bernstein said the authors found that press freedoms in many countries have been jeopardized by intimidation and violence intended to encourage self-censorship and suppression of the truth.

"Now the most depraved acts against journalists have become more and more routine, because it is the one effective way of stopping the press under the most horrible circumstances — including kidnappings of reporters' families, targeting journalists for execution — to impose self-censorship," said Bernstein, who is known for his reporting role in the U.S. Watergate scandal.

Among the countries singled out for their hostile press environments were Russia, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, Zimbabwe and Cuba.

According to the study, reporters and bloggers in these countries have been murdered and jailed, some targeted by their governments, others by militants or criminal gangs.

Others have seen their relatives kidnapped or have been the victims of torture.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on President Barack Obama to reaffirm U.S. support for press rights. Noting that 14 journalists have been held without due process for long periods in Iraq, Afghanistan and at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the CPJ says it has tarnished the U.S. reputation as a beacon for press freedom throughout the world.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 29


A.M. Costa Rica
users guide


This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

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 week day.

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.

Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Statistics

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.


Motorcycle competitor dies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Jeremy Lusk, the 23-year-old freestyle motorcyclist champion, died early Tuesday in Hospital Calderón Guardia.

The California man was competing in the X-Knights event at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Saturday night before 22,000 persons when he jumped from one ramp to another on his machine and suffered a bad landing.

Lusk never regained consciousness. Physicians performed a surgery late Saturday in order to drain the fluid that accumulated between Lusk’s brain and skull.  


Hondurans come for game

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police at the nation's northern frontier are being reinforced to handle the expected entry of from 800 to 1,000 Honduran soccer fans who hope to see their team play Costa Rica's national team tonight in Tibás.

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería also has sent 25 additional employees to the border.  More than 200 fans entered the country Tuesday.

The game is one of the qualifying rounds for the World Cup in 2010. The game begins at 8:30 p.m.

Meanwhile more than 350 private security officers have been hired to handle the crowd at the game. They join an unspecified number of Fuerza Pública officers who will be on patrol inside and outside the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.


Cops say car held coke

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three men and a woman were detained Tuesday in Desamparados after police found what they said was 2.7 kilos of cocaine (more than six pounds) in their vehicle and a firearm.

Two men were from Panamá, and one of them was not legally in Costa Rica, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

A Costa Rican man and a woman from the Dominican Republic also were apprehended.  The Fuerza Pública said that the woman was the subject of a warrant to appear in a central Pacific court.

Coincidentally, the arrests took place in San Rafael Arriba de Desamparados adjacent to the women's prison, the  Centro Penitenciario Buen Pastor.


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