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(506) 2223-1327         San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 37          E-mail us
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This new fueling and storage facility is expected to be ready early next year at Juan Santamaría airport. Up to 11 passenger jets will be able to refuel at the same time, said Refinadora
Costarricense de Petróleo, which is building the $21.7 million center. The government petroleum monopoly also has other projects under way.
See story HERE!

Vehicle inspection monopoly might be opened up
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The transport minister told lawmakers Monday that RTV SyC would lose its monopoly in July 2012, and that other firms could participate in providing vehicle inspections.

But the local garage probably will not be involved. Transport officials appear to be about to give RTV SyC a de facto monopoly because they want inspection stations to have the same facilities as the comprehensive centers that the Spanish firm constructed.

They are talking about a building 1,000 meters square, some 10,764 square feet, each with an investment of 400 million colons or about $800,000.

Francisco Jiménez Reyes, minister of Obras Públicas y Transportes, outlined the future for the special committee that is supposed to be revising
the new traffic law. He said he wanted the highest standards for vehicle inspection. He said it was clear that this is not an activity that can be done anywhere or by anyone.

In the early 2000s local garages did annual inspections, but there were many complaints. They took over from the ministry that use to do inspections, too.

RTV SyC has generated many objections since it obtained the vehicle inspection monopoly. But the criticisms seem to have diminished over the years.

Alfredo Espinoza of the Asociación de Talleres Integrales Costarricenses had a different opinion when he spoke before the committee. He said the state ought to provide many inspection stations for vehicle owners. He represents many vehicle shops. He said previous systems failed because the state did not provide oversight. 

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 37

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Our readers' opinions
Scientists risk job loss
if they dare speak truth

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Thank you for daring to publish counter points to unfounded claims regarding global warming (Feb. 21). In this reader's opinion, global warming issues have been greatly overstated. Is it some grand conspiracy? Only in that politicians, scientists, and the media act in their own self interest, promoting public fears to gain votes, research dollars, and more viewers.

Thankfully, scientists with integrity still exist and are willing to risk censure and job security to speak the truth. An excellent book on this subject is "Climate of Extremes" by Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling Jr. In addition to expanding on the topics that Mr. Dukes mentions in his A.M. Costa Rica article, Michaels and Balling include many graphs showing how the "cherry picking" of historical data can dramatically alter the appearance of so-called "facts."

One example from the book showing how altered data exaggerates and misleads can be found at the following link. The altered data was used in the prominent and widely cited "Third Assessment Report" on climate change published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001, and has since become a poster child for global warming enthusiasts. A link to the report is also included on this page:

Michaels and Balling do not deny global warming. They completely agree this is happening. They just say it is neither unusual nor alarming. So what’s the solution? Michaels and Balling recommend opening the scientific peer review process. If the major journals posted all submitted articles and peer reviews to the Internet, along with all of the author’s names, it would go a long way toward preventing exaggerated claims.

It occurs to me that this is only one part of the solution, and the rest is up to each of us. There still remain the problems of news media and politicians who abuse science to inflate and conflate issues, and public willingness to accept misleading information disguised as fact.

The truth was so inconvenient for Al Gore that he ignored it completely. For this he received a Nobel Prize and an Oscar. Why do we continue to let him and others get away with this?

In the Internet age, it's up to each of us to discriminate between fact and fiction. If we, at the community and national levels, refuse to support politicians that use negative campaign tactics and stick to this, within two or three election cycles things would begin to change. In addition, if we stopped supporting publications and television stations that misrepresent the facts, eventually they would change their tune. Until we can begin to do this consistently, we will continue to be subjected to the whims of manipulators.
Chris Cobb
Hills of Portalón

Debate on climate change
ended long ago

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The recent letter by Mr. Dukes proves that in every field of scientific endeavor there is always a heretic or two.  The evidence for anthropogenic climate change is so strong and abundant that valid debate ended long ago, leaving a few laughable remaining deniers, but none more so than those who should know better.  
The following statement by Mr. Dukes "So a complete Arctic ice melt will lower sea levels not raise them"  is a dandy, and therefore he must be given credit for brazen originality, if not plain foolishness!  The ice cube analogy would be hilarious, if it didn't point to someone whose science was seriously flawed.

And this one: "Most of these scientists are agenda-driven and/or being sponsored by special interests, First World governments, or the United Nations. The rationale for their scholarly conclusions is easily understood."
Tell us, Mr. Dukes, just what are the scientists' agenda-driven' motives . . . or their rationale? Will they all be given Nobel Prizes for their collective deception or stupidity? Or will their grandkids inundated waterfront homes in Florida increase in value?

Mr. Dukes should either present solid facts, [or sources], for his wild statements, or present his hypothesis to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the International Panel on Climate Change, et al, for peer review.

Finally, Mr. Axel Marquardt, a fellow denier, is scarcely worthy of comment since he obviously belongs to that paranoid fraternity of conspiracy buffs.  His entire op-ed piece is rife with quasi hysterical, unscientific conjecture and hackneyed pap for the uninformed. 
As a real estate salesman his emotional input was  a clearly resounding "No Sale."
H. Franz
Santa Ana and Las Vegas, Nevada

Hundreds of scientists
question the human factor

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
The authors of your Feb 21 articles questioning the human factor in global warming join a very large group of highly regarded scientists that are of a similar mind. Attached is a link of self-proclaimed skeptics, and if you follow the link you will find summaries of their impressive credentials and their arguments on the global warming debate.
The tide is indeed turning and very soon Al Gore and his colleagues will be seen by the public as the perpetrators of perhaps the biggest scam in history.
Norman Paterson
La Alfombra, Perez Zeledon

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.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 37
Latigo K-9

Rowdy young soccer fans sometimes cross line to crime
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
A.M. Costa Rica associate editor

Sports are supposed to be good for youngsters, but gangs of fútbol fans frequently mean trouble.

Such was the case in Desamparados two weeks ago when unruly Saprissa fans took over a public bus. They were official or unofficial members of the La Ultra Morada, the sports club's 15-year-old fan organization.

Business people in downtown San José know about the Ultra. They gather in large groups in advance of Saprissa soccer games. The police know, too, because they bring their mobile command post and extra officers to Parque Morazán where fans await their buses.

A reader wrote in January about being confronted by young soccer fans there:

"No matter how many we took out, within a few more seconds, we would be on the ground, taking sissy kicks and who knows what else from dozens of over-revved teens en route to a soccer match at 8 p.m.  Like the intoxicated fans who tip over police cars after a bowl game victory, the mob converted into its own little team of spastic warriors."

The reader, Richard Sims, was very pleased by the prompt police response. On my bus there were no police officers.

I boarded the bus in Desamparados Centro shortly after a shopping trip and after a soccer match between Saprissa and Brujas ended. Once again, the young fans, most of them minors, were in high spirits. More than a dozen crowded in to the back of the bus laughing and joking.
Then a young woman pulled a butcher knife and began making threats. The other young soccer fans, most of them minors, starting directing insults at the driver and the rest of the passengers. They were egged on by a man who appeared to be in his late 20s. They all seemed to be going in the direction of Aserrí. Robbery seemed to be in the wind.

Passengers began to beg the driver to stop. Eventually he did, and all but the young fútbol fans got off at the unscheduled stop. The driver closed the door.

The story does not really have an ending because none of the former passengers knows what happened next. Later some policemen said they had responded, but there were no arrests.

Other soccer teams have their own fan groups. Saprissa's big rival, the Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, is supported by La 12. Generally these fan clubs are called barras, and these are the fans that make a mess in the stadium and sometimes engage in fights, shoot rockets and start fires.

Costa Rican sports hooligans are strictly small time when compared to those in Europe. This is not a new phenomenon. Fan violence goes back to the 19th century in Europe and to at least the 1950s in Latin America.

The difference is that Costa Rica's young population provides numerous candidates for football gangs.

Although the Fuerza Pública keeps close track of the football gangs and even hold meetings with leaders, the agency concentrates on street violence outside stadiums. Maybe they should consider riding on a bus.

Police still do not know why Limón gangs fought
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The shootout in Limón Sunday morning is still a mystery.

The Poder Judicial said Monday that a man with the last names of Ruiz Vargas has been jailed for six months preventative detention.

This is the man who was hospitalized because he came out second best in the confrontation.

The Poder Judicial said Ruiz faces an attempted murder charge because he went looking for a man with the last names of Davis Fajardo in Barrio Los Cocos.  The Poder Judicial said that Fajardo fired in self defense.
This was the event that generated a strong police response because others were involved and fled. Police used aircraft and boats to patrol for those running from the scene.

Police also thought that crooks were hiding in a home and sealed off the neighborhood until they learned otherwise.

Police still characterize the incident as a confrontation between rival gangs.

The Fuerza Pública said that Ruiz suffered a bullet wound to the nose, chin and arm in the 8 a.m. incident.

Police officers ended up confiscating six firearms and two vehicles.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 37

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Garabito fuel delivery
Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo photo

Tankers of the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo line up to take on loads of fuel oil to run the new electrical generating plant at Garabito. The fuel, like all
petroleum-based products here, was imported. The 'Ocean Breeze' on the left came from Columbia with 90,000 barrels of oil.

State refining company has millions in projects in the works

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government's petroleum refiner has a number of projects about to be completed that will give it more capacity for the country's unquenchable appetite for fuel.

One project, the dredging of the Moín port, finished Friday. This was a $13.8 million job done by Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors BV of Holland.  Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo said that the dredging opened the way for larger tankers with less frequency.

The dredge opened up two underseas strips, one alongside the docks about 50 meters (164 feet) wide and another 200 meters (656 feet) wide to give the tankers room to maneuver. The depth is from 12.5 to 14.5 meters, about 41 to 47.5 feet.

Officials estimate that the dredge removed 1.2 million cubic meters of sediment. That's about 1,569,541 cubic yards.

When the tankers arrive, they will be able to unload their cargo into the largest tank ever built in Costa Rica. The Refinadora Costarricense is completing a 200,000 barrel tank at Moín and two smaller, 25,000-barrel tanks. The larger tank is a $12.7 million job being done by Isiven C.A. It is expected to be finished in April. The smaller tanks are expected to be finished in May. The job by the Consorcio Grupo Saret has a contract price of $4.8 million.

At Juan Santamaría airport, the refining company is constructing a new storage and supply center. It is 32 percent complete, the firm reported this month. This is a $21.7 million job to create a facility where 11 passenger jets can take on fuel at the same time. The facility is expected to be in service early next year. The job is being done by a consortium of EDICA-Hatch Mott Mac Donald-Safe
Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo photo
This is the dredge that did the work in Moín

Fuelling Equipment. Included are pipelines and a self-contained fire control system, said Refinadora Costarricense.

The current fuel servicing facility will be dismantled to make way for more boarding ramps at the Alajuela airport.

In Caldera, Puntarenas, Refinadora Costarricense had a major transportation job on its hands this month. Its tankers were moving bunker oil from ships to the new electrical generating plant operated by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad in Garabito. The company moved 71,101 barrels of fuel from the docks to the generating plant in December.

With the arrival of the "Ocean Current" from Colombia the company's tankers and crews had to move 90,000 barrels of fuel for the generating plant earlier this month.

Biggest fuel tank
Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo photo
This is the 200,000-barrel storage tank that is nearly completed in Moín

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 37

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

U.N. says cholera program
jeopardized by lack of cash

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Nations is holding a special meeting with donor countries to drum up support for its cholera treatment and control operations in Haiti. It says it has received less than half of the $175 million it needs to carry out its life-saving programs in the country.

The United Nations reports cholera cases throughout Haiti are slowly declining. But says the emergency is far from over, as the death rate in remote rural areas remains very high.

Latest figures from the Haitian government cite more than 231,000 reported cases and more than 4,500 cholera deaths since the epidemic began in October.

Health agencies say this is the first outbreak of cholera in Haiti in at least 100 years. But the agencies warn now that it is present in the country, cholera will continue to be a problem for months and years to come.

Elizabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said it is critical to strengthen treatment programs. She says the shortage of non-governmental agencies to treat the sick in difficult-to-reach mountain villages is very worrisome.

“There are two aspects of this problem,” Ms. Byrs said. “Some NGOs are working in emergency relief assistance. And, these NGOs have finished their job and now they leave. But some of them need funding, they have not even enough funding to implement their projects. That is why we urgently need the money for our appeal, which is $175 million.”  NGOs are non-government organizations.

The World Health Organization says it is trying to keep the anti-cholera efforts from collapsing. The U.N. says it has received about $80 million, less than half of its appeal.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib says her agency is working with the Haitian ministry of health to replace priavte organizations that were running cholera centers. She says these vital projects are increasingly being integrated in the country’s overall health-management programs.

“There is an exit strategy put in place by World Health as the lead health organization with the ministry of health that the cholera centers can be run by the local health authorities ... at the beginning, it was a new disease for the country,” Ms. Chaib said. “So, they needed really to learn how to manage it. Now, it is done. Many people know how to not get infected by cholera.” 

When cholera first erupted, mortality rates were as high as 9 percent. National mortality rates are now down to 2 percent. And, spokeswoman Chaib says the World Health Organization is working to bring that rate to less than 1  percent.

Public viewing in Texas
for agent killed in México

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mourners in Brownsville, Texas are paying their respects to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot dead last week in Mexico.

The mourners attended a public viewing Monday ahead of a religious service later in the evening for Jaime Zapata.  He was killed and another agent wounded while driving between Mexico City and the northern city of Monterrey.

Zapata's funeral takes place Tuesday.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder are scheduled to deliver remarks at the service, along with ICE Director John Morton.

Ms. Napolitano and Holder have formed a joint task force to assist Mexico in investigating the shooting.  The Department of Homeland Security has said the full resources of the U.S. government are at the disposal of its Mexican partners in the investigation.

Zapata and Special Agent Victor Avila, Jr. were shot when they stopped at what appeared to be a military checkpoint, possibly set up by drug traffickers.  The Mexican military said it had no checkpoints in that area.

Attacks on U.S. law enforcement personnel in Mexico are rare, despite increasing U.S. contributions to Mexico's fight against drug trafficking.  The last high-profile attack there was in 1985, when a Drug Enforcement Administration officer was captured, tortured and killed while on an assignment.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 37

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Court decision expected
Friday on public dock rule

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A final decision is expected Friday from a judge in Puntarenas over the use of private docks to unload shark products in Costa Rica.  This is the court that temporarily froze an agreement that only public docks should be used so that officials can keep an eye on the catch.

The case is in the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, which addresses conflicts with government authorities. The judge, Rosa Cortés Morales, issued a temporary restraint against the rule after finishing firms complained the public docks were not adequate for their use.

The firms in the case are Mariscos Wang S.A. and Porta Portense S.A., according to the environmental group Programa de Restaraución de Tortugas Marinas.
The Minsiterio de Obras Públicas y Transportes had reached an agreement with the Instituto Costarricense de Pescas y Acuacultura that as of Dec. 1 only public docks could be used.

The fisheries institute and the fishing companies presented their arguments last week.

The case relates to shark finning, the practice of cutting the fins off sharks and then dumping the rest of the fish into the sea to die. Costa Rican law requires that the shark be landed with its fins, although that cannot be enforced at private docks where there is no access.

Phone company reports
Internet and cell outages

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The 3G telephone and Internet system operated by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad failed Monday. The company said the outage was 50 minutes.

The outage began at 10:20 a.m., the company said.

Affected were a number of major businesses and banks.

The company issued a short press release in which it spoke of inconsistencies between routers. That may mean that technicians were changing Internet protocol numbers again. That was a source of frequent Internet outages several years ago when the Acelera program was new.

The company said its technicians would inform the  Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones. Thousands were affected.

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. and Amnet, two major Internet providers, did not seem to be affected, although the Internet has been behaving sluggishly with these companies for a week.

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