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(506) 2223-1327         Publshed Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011,  in Vol. 11, No. 32           E-mail us
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Sometimes the electrical system can be exciting
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Visiting electricians frequently are in awe of the creative methods used here to bring power into homes.

The electric company, mostly the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz in the Central Valley, specifies where the meter goes. Anything beyond that is the domain of the homeowner and those who are hired.

Costa Rica does not have an effective certification program for electricians, so anyone with a pair of pliers can work inside the home.

Typically the ground wire is green, the neutral wire is white and the hot wire is red or black, that is if there is any red or black wire left. Sometimes all the wires are black. Or red. Or green. Or maybe bell wire is used instead of electrical cable.

Sometimes there are no wires. In one installation for A.M. Costa Rica some faux electricians installed a green wire as a ground because the new circuit was to be connected to computers. But they forgot a neutral wire to return current to the circuit breakers. So they hooked the neutral posts on the electrical outlets to the ground wire. That created a continual hot line from the circuit box, down the wall, out the window and down to the copper ground stake in the lawn where children played.

They reacted with surprise when the suggestion was made that a white wire should be installed to provide a continuous circuit that could be
fire cause
Cuerpo de Bomberos photo
Firemen blamed the blaze Monday on heating from wire wrapped around this nail.

turned off. They are now working as automobile brake mechanics.

The lack of oversight in electrical installations can be dangerous. Homeowners installing television antennas sometimes die when they accidentally touch a hot wire dangling too close to the roof.

Then there is the fire hazard. A high percentage of home fires are blamed on short circuits.

The incidence is higher in low-income homes where wires are not placed in conduits and the occupant or a buddy does the job.

That was the case Monday when fire tore through four homes in Loma Linda de Desamparados. Three were destroyed, and 11 adults and six children had to find new homes.

The fire call came in about 11:28 p.m., and firemen managed to save more square footage than the fire consumed. When the blaze was out they found a toasted electrical wire wrapped around a nail, the work of some less than master electrician.



Water rates are certain to go up, regulator says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A consumer group has lost a Sala IV constitutional court case against higher water rates, and the price is going up.

The appeal came from the Asociación de Consumidores, which said that the rate-setting agency, the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, made an error when he readjusted water rates last October. That was when the agency was
attempting to make up for an error in computation when it set the rate in 2009.

The water provider is the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados. The agency suspended the new rates during the time the case was before the constitutional court. Now, it said, it will make an adjustment to allow the water company to recover the money it lost. Estimates are that domestic water rates will go up when the new rates are issued.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 32

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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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Our readers' opinions
Capital punishment should
be considered for some

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
To expand on Robert Nahrgang's great suggestion to use corporal punishment as a crime deterrent; I would add capital punishment. Should the recent rapist of a 3-year-old girl be merely incarcerated for a dozen years? I have had extensive experience working in jails, prisons, juvenile detention centers, and as the head of the ten-member San Luis Obispo Youth Guidance Council, etc. My largely successful approach was to use the convicting and convincing power of the Bible, the Word of God.
 
To make any type of punishment viable; it MUST BE RAPIDLY METED OUT! Solomon wrote; "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Ecc. 8:11
John W. Erb
 Tuis de Turrialba

Separation of church, state
is key to successful nation


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

To all Egyptians living in Costa Rica and all others who see their “people power” revolution as a new beginning for democracy and freedom.

Take it from a very experienced man who is 71, lived in nine countries and spent time in 21 more including three years in Turkey.

The number one fundamental and basic foundation of a SUCCESSFUL nation is: Separation of church and state.

In the 20s Mustafa Kemal, later known as Attaturk, turned Turkey from east to west and from religious dominance to secular democracy. His legacy endures today. The U.S. Constitution enshrines that crucial separation and is the bedrock of our freedom — freedom from religious dogma, repression and suppression.

Northern European nations which are mostly secular enjoy democracy, peace and prosperity. The lesson is clear and obvious: Religion’s agenda is not democratic and does not belong in government.

If Egypt can accomplish that, in the next few years it will shine brightly and light the path for other nations longing to be free from the tyranny of ignorance created by insular and powerful religious institutions.
Duggo Hix
Tampa Florida

Taxes are misplaced
and prices reflect greed


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
Costa Rica has the highest taxes of any country that I have been in (11) and the highest prices because of the taxes and greed. Case in point. I recently bought a new refrigerator. I could have bought it in the U.S. for $720. Here I paid $1,400, and it was priced at $1,700 in one store. And now it seems that all the politicians can think of is more taxes on almost everything that everyone needs or has to have.
 
But no one has to have cigarettes or alcohol. Cigarettes in the U.S. are around $4 a pack. In Canada over $10 a pack but only $1.50 here. Why don’t they add tax on these items and leave things people need alone like their electric bills, medical bills, food bills, etc. Power here is over three times what I pay in Missouri. Food is from one to as much as four times as much: i.e. potatoes, $11 to $12 for 6.6 lbs. In Missouri, $3 for 10 lbs.
 
Robert Woodrow
Curridabat

Country did not keep up
with trends to violence


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I've been reading with much interest the letters of resident's suggestions to reduce crime.  All are very good, although there are some draconian offerings that are very telling of the frustration expats have.

Through the 1960s, Costa Rica was a place of low crime and folk-sacred societal values.  As Costa Rica caught up with the rest of the world, the laws remained from a less violent time.  If there is to be any hope, it is with the people who are living in country to demand a change from their leaders.  Also, this could be helped by reporting each and every crime and having what was called block-watch community groups here in the U.S.A.  The more pressure applied on elected officials to grasp the fact that Costa Rica is not all Pura Vida, the better, in my estimation.

Our dream of retirement there is turning into nightmarish scenarios of loss of property, life and limb, and overall peace.  It is obvious to anyone with a realistic view that the rose colored glasses should be tossed in the trash, and only a concerted effort will bring about change.  The country needs to act as one.  Not native born and expat being two separate groups.  All have a vested interest in a secure life and a prosperous country.  May Costa Rica enjoy again the once carefree days of Pura Vida.
Al Loria
New York

 
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
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary




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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 32
Latigo K-9

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Security plan calls for balanced, humane intervention
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Integrated security plan outlined Monday by President Laura Chinchilla calls for a balanced intervention for prevention, attention and protection, control, reparation and reintegration in accordance with human development and democratic values of Costa Rica.

The responsibility for fighting crime will be shared among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the government. Representatives signed an agreement to that effect Monday. Specifically named are the Comisión de Seguridad Ciudadana of the executive branch, the Comision Especial Legislativa de Seguridad Ciudadana of the Asamblea Legislativa and the Comisión de Asuntos Penales of the Poder Judicial.

The document also calls for extensive analysis of the results within the various institutions. The plan is supposed to last 10 years. The president and lawmakers will be out of office in three years, so the plan appears to bind their successors.

The agreement was signed at a session in the Museo de los Niños Monday by the president, Luis Gerardo Villanueva Monge, president of the legislature, and Luis Paulino Mora Mora, president of the Poder Judicial.

This is the long-awaited security plan. The president presented the proposal in conjunction with the Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo, which conducted months of extensive interviews and meetings with many types of citizen groups. The contribution of the local office of the United Nations was not immediately obvious.

The proposal is called the Política Integral y Sostenible de Seguridad Ciudadana y Promoción de la Paz Social, which translated to an integrated and sustainable policy of citizen security and promotion of the social peace.

In her speech introducing the plan, Ms. Chinchilla called for a crusade, the most important that the country should take on. "A crusade for the most fundamental rights as the respect for life and physical integrity and the peace. A crusade that permits us to reconquer our so special form of life and celebrate with peace and security from now until 10 years the bicentennial of the independence of our nation."
 
An outline, according to Casa Presidencial, would be the urgent professionalization of the Fuerza Pública, involvement of local governments in stopping crime and violence, mechanisms for control of corruption, effective intervention against violence toward women as well as immediate actions to return youngsters permanently to the educational system. There also was mention of a program to cure drug addiction.

Ms. Chinchilla said she was forming a working group to determine the actions suggested by the plan, which would endure long after her administration ends.

Ms. Chinchilla also said that many of the suggestions of the proposal already are underway and included in the national development plan. These include putting 1,000 new police officers on the streets, identification of 32 hectares for a new police academy, the dismemberment of 120 criminal drug organizations and the creation of a
sigining agreement
Casa Presidencial photo
Laura Chinchilla signs an agreement among the three powers while Luis Paulino Mora Mora, president of the Poder Judicial, watches. Hidden is Luis Gerardo Villanueva Monge, president of the legislature.

frontier police which will be ready in March.

The Poder Judicial later characterized the plan as a public policy directed to orienting the actions of the state in matters of citizen security.

The plan itself is set out around six goals, according to Casa Presidencial:

1. The development of actions to overcome the conditions of vulnerability in the face of crime and violence.

2. The creation of spaces and conditions to strengthen a culture of social peace and human development;
 
3. The creation of capacities in state institutions to consider the levels of optimal efficiency for guaranteeing citizen security;

4. The development of actions to eliminate the most outstanding forms of violence and victimization.

5. Effective attention to rehabilitating victims of violence and crime;

6. The breaking up of criminal drug networks and other forms of organized criminality

Luiza Carvalho, local representative of the United Nations, said that her agency received 4,600 written statements from 16 different community workshops. The agency received 73 formal documents from institutions and organizations and conducted 12 topical sessions with interest groups, she said. There were more than 1,000 telephone calls, e-mails and other contacts.

The various committees will study these documents as well as the overall plan that resulted from them.

In another security development Monday, agents of the Policia Nacional de Colombia were in the country and promised to provide technical cooperation with the security ministry. As part of the agreement Fuerza Pública officers might go to Colombia for training, according to the ministry.


Initial response from readers is limited skepticism of plan
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Chinchilla administration security proposal was greeted with some skepticism Monday by those who read an early afternoon update.

"She's forming another committee," said a Costa Rican woman who lives in the United States.

Others said they were surprised that there were no concrete proposals. There was a brief mention of more prisons, but
none of the types of suggestions that A.M. Costa Rica readers have been putting forth for a week.

The full details of the proposals have not been made known, but the general outlines suggest more social work than crime fighting. For example, Ms. Chinchilla proposed reducing the number of school dropouts.

Dropouts frequently turn to crime, but the link is indirect. She also proposed treatment for addiction. Readers appeared to be looking for a more direct action.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 32


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Tax collectors release list of 100 who did not pay luxury tax

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Dirección General de Tributación, the tax collecting agency, has published a list of 100 entities that did not pay the luxury home tax this year even though they paid last year.

The list is mainly corporations, although some individuals are named. The accompanying cédulas show that all those named are Costa Rican.

There are several thousand entities, individuals and corporations, that have not paid the tax. Tributación seems to be using the first 100 names as a threat. The list was as of Jan. 31, the agency said. The names represent 106.1 million colons of uncollected taxes, the agency said. That is about $212,200. 
This is the tax on dwellings worth more than 100 million colons.

And this is the second year that the taxes have been collected. Tributación workers speculated that some individuals may have thought that the tax was a one-time event.

Tributación has moved slowly to find and extract taxes from luxury homeowners. A complicating factor is that with the devaluation of the U.S. dollar some homeowners who had to pay tax last year might not have to pay the special tax this year because their home dipped under 100 million colons.

Below is a list of the 100 individuals and corporations that paid last year but not this year.


Tributación list of those owing luxury tax this year

The number below the name is the cédula.

ACTIVOS INMOBILIARIOS UNO Q A S.A.
3101238737

AGRICOLA GANADERA JABUEY S A
3101077670

AKYRA SA
3101019792

ALEJANDRA FLORES ARROYO
108670152

ALVARADO ROJAS OLMAN GERARDO
105860941

AMNEZIA S A
3101274622

ARMANDO CAJAS SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101370042

AUTILLO ALTOS DOSCIENTOS CINCUENTA Y SIETE SA
3101270170

BALCHETA SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101274527

BRENCAL S A
3101217167

BRISA VISTA MAR UNO S.A.
3101262400

CARDAN C J D B SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101225521

CARIARI ESTE OESTE PUNTO CAR SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101303585

CARLOS LUIS SANCHO JUAREZ
601220519

CARRYSE S A
3101088142

CASA DEL SOL SETENTA Y SEIS DE SANTA ANA SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101399611

CECILIANO CONSULTORES SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101023612

CEL CONSORCIO ESTRATEGICO LEGAL S A
3101187595

CERROS DE CASTELMARE S A
3101120116

COLINAS DEL TEMPISQUE S.A.
3101259878

CONSTRUCTORA MAFE SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101086269

CORPORACION B L CIENTO SESENTA Y NUEVE DE SANTA ANA SA
3101187850

CORPORACION B L CINCUENTA Y SIETE DE SANTA ANA SA
3101146258

CORPORACION B L SESENTA Y SEIS DE SANTA ANA SA
3101147005

CORPORACION B L TREINTA Y SEIS S A
3101128815

COSTA DEL AZAHAR S A
3101320029

COSTA MONTAÑA ESTATES ORQUIDEA CERO CERO OCHO S.A.
3101449097

CUDILLERO MST SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101280818

DENIS CRISTOBAL KABISTAN FLORES
800650852

DESARROLLOS PUERTOCITO OCHO S A
3101198423

DISENOS DE ARQUITECTURA Y MOBILIARIO CHACO SA
3101059584

DISTRIBUIDORA CONSUELO SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101216199

DISTRIBUIDORA DE HUE VOS Y PAN S S SA
3101180100

DISTRIBUIDORA J A BRENES Y BRENES S A
3101248373

EDIFICADORA CONTEMPORANEA ADJ SOCIE
3101308492

EL MONASTERIO CUASIA S.A.
3101264188

EL MONASTERIO DE CRONOS S.A.
3101264273

ELET ALTOS TRESCIENT OS TREINTA Y UNO SA
3101226408

EMPRESA IMPORTADORA FORTIS S A
3101127426

ENDLESS ADVENTURES COMPAÑY S A
3101262343

FEDERVA SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101371640

FILIAL CONDOMINIO DANZA DEL RIO COBALTO LUGAR VEINTIOCHO SA
3101349817

FILIAL CONDOMINIO DANZA DEL RIO YAMA MENDELEVIO ONCE SA
3101349640

GALIBERIA S A
3101166599

GANADERA GUACHIPELIN DEL SUR S A
3101026858

GERENXIA INTERNACIONAL CONSULTORES S A
3101309902

GET TWO COSTA RICA INTERNATIONAL TRAVELS SA
3101374264

GIOVANNA VIETO RUDIN
107330147

GIPIERES ALTOS DOSCIENTOS NUEVE S.A.
3101226159
GLOBAL ONE CONSTRUCTION SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101358972

GRUPO EBENEZER SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101069305

GUSTAVO ADOLFO TORRES ROJAS
106680105

HACIENDA LINDORA HL CASA VEINTE SOCIEDA
3101347042

HACIENDA LINDORA HL VEINTIUNO SA
3101336134

HAZEL MAYELA COTO SOLERA
106440244

HECTOR FILANDER ARGUEDAS RODRIGUEZ
701280319

HEIDY PATRICIA LIZANO SANCHEZ
106990757

HORIZONTES DE ALAJUELA S A
3101163511

I A CUARENTA Y UNO S A
3101162108

INMOBILIARIA MASICAWI SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101372477

INSTITUTO INTERNACIONAL DE FORMACION ESTETICA S.A.
3101278503

INVERSIONES DALEXA DE COSTA RICA S A
3101065028

INVERSIONES DATARI SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101063456

INVERSIONES DE LEON S A
3101014201

INVERSIONES GUILLERCA S A
3101209262

JORGE ENRIQUE TAYLOR VANEGAS
104120469

JUAN CARLOS PACHECO BOLAÑOS
204210993

JULIETA FLAMINGO SOCIEDAD ANONIMA
3101129924

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 32

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Jazz king George Shearing
dies in New York at 91

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Famed jazz pianist and composer George Shearing, 91, died Monday of heart failure in New York City. Shearing was born in England but settled in the United States in 1947. His recording career lasted more than six decades and included albums with some of the top names in jazz.  Despite being blind, George Shearing became one of the world's most popular performers.

George Shearing appeared on the American jazz scene in the early 1940s with a series of successful recordings that featured a fine-tuned rhythm section of guitar, bass, drums and vibraphone.  He was already quite famous in England, but after the release of his hit song "September In the Rain," his quintet rose to new heights.

Shearing was born blind in London Aug. 13, 1919.  He began playing piano at age 3 and soon fell in love with the music of Earl Hines, Fats Waller, and Art Tatum.  At 19, he performed jazz accordion in Claude Bampton's all-blind band and got his first real taste of show business.

"One night, we were all ready to go.  15 blind musicians taught to play instruments from being chair caners and basket makers and so on," Shearing said.  "Now, we're all ready to go in the theatre and the stage manager says 'Ok fellas.'  And someone's glass eye had fallen out, rolled across the stage, 15 blind guys down on the floor looking for this eye.  They found it and gave it to him, and he put it in and the show got underway."

Shearing won over American audiences with his own style of boogie-woogie, blues and jazz swing which later became known as "The Shearing Sound."  One of his best-known compositions is the jazz standard “Lullaby of Broadway,” co-written with lyricist George David Weiss.

Critics were enamored of his heartfelt melodies often described as "romantic" and "whimsical."  Shearing once said the birth of rock 'n' roll gave a new dimension to his repertoire.

"We have benefited from the embryonic stages of rock and roll which started probably in the early '50's, and are now the glad recipients, most of the time, of a healthy integration between jazz, folk and rock," he said.

Over the years, Shearing's ever-changing personnel included singers Mel Torme, Carmen McRae and Peggy Lee, as well as Joe Pass, Cal Tjader and Hank Jones.  His 1962 album "Nat 'King Cole' Sings, George Shearing Plays" features one of the most famous piano introductions of all time on the selection "Let There Be Love."  In 1976, he collaborated with the great French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli for the critically-acclaimed album "Reunion."  In 2003, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BBC Jazz Awards.  

Shearing avoided the trappings of jazz fusion, synthesizers and electronics that arrived late in his career.  He believed that more volume didn't necessarily mean better music. 

"I know that there is quite a bit of talent around, and it's too loud," Shearing said.  "And it's a shame."          

At the peak of his career, George Shearing was immortalized in Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel “On The Road.”  Upon seeing Shearing in a Chicago nightclub, Kerouac wrote, "as always he leaned his blind head on his pale hand, all ears opened like the ears of an elephant, listening to the American sounds and mastering them for his own English summer-night's use." 

Colombian rebels free
just one of promised three


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Colombian officials say rebels who had announced plans to release three hostages Sunday have released only one so far.

Authorities say the Fuerza Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC, released police officer Carlos Ocampo, who was kidnapped in December.

However, the other two hostages, police Maj. Guillermo Solorzano and Army Cprl. Salin Sanmiguel, remain in captivity.

Colombia says the rebels provided false coordinates for the location of the hostages, placing them in Tolima state when the men were instead in Cauca state.

Eduardo Pizarro, the government representative in the hostage negotiations, said providing the wrong information was "scandalous."

However, there is some indication bad weather may have interfered with the transfer plans.

Solorzano was captured in June 2007, while Sanmiguel was kidnapped in May 2008.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 32

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Home invading crooks
met well-armed surprise


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central Pacific coast from Parrita to Mata Palo has been plagued by a band of robbers who, among other crimes, would smash their way into homes and tie up the occupants. This has been going on since September.

Judicial agents got a tip that the next home invasion would be Monday night. And they were told where. Agents quickly hustled the homeowners from the dwelling and filled the place in Loma de Parrita with a tactical squad.

When the crooks broke through the front door they found heavily armed police instead of the occupants they were expecting. One tried to flee through a window.

Agents detained a 38-year-old man, two twins, 21, and a pirate taxi driver.

Police said the gang carried 12-gauge shotguns and were unselective in their targets. They raided stores as well as homes. During home invasions the gang would usually steal a vehicle to carry away the loot, mostly household goods. The gang targeted homeowners who appeared to have money, agents said. Agents attributed at least 20 such crimes to the suspects.

The three suspects have been detained in the past but were freed without preventative detention, agents said. One suspect actually is in jail but has permission to leave his cell several times a week, agents said. More suspects may be sought, agents said.

Fuel prices going up
when new rates published

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motor fuel is going up again. The Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos said that super gasoline will go to 621 colons ($1.24) per liter, an increase of 13 colons. Plus gasoline is going to 605 colons ($1.21), an increase of 15 colons. Diesel goes up 17 colons to 544 colons ($1.09), the agency said.

The new rates will go into effect when the edict from the agency is published in the La Gaceta official newspaper. That is expected to be Monday.

The rates will bring the price of fuel in Costa Rica to $4.70 for a U.S. gallon of super, $4.58 for plus and $4.12 for diesel.

Down home Indiana food
trade mission centerpiece


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. food producers will be promoting wines, meats, cheeses and other foods at a public event Thursday in the Hotel Real Intercontinental in Escazú from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., said a U.S. Embassy release. The idea is to get the public and commercial outlets here to learn about the U.S. products.
 
Chefs David and Kristen Tallent of Bloomington, Indiana, are in charge of preparing the foodstuffs and selecting the appropriate wines, the embassy said. They have a restaurant in their hometown, called Restaurant Tallen. The restaurant specializes in local southern Indiana dishes, according to its Web page.

By no coincidence, U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew is from Indiana. However, the wine is coming from California.

Animal adoptions planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The organization Animales de Asis plans an adoption fair Saturday in Escazú from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Automercado. Puppies, dogs, kittens and cats will be available. The organization requests a donation of 10,000 colons for dogs and 6,000 colons for cats to cover part of the cost of castrating, vaccinating and deworming.




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