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These stories were published Friday, March 8, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 48
Jo Stuart
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Pastor Richard Steel shows off the plaque that will be installed at dedication of the new church next week.

Baptists to dedicate
church March 17

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The International Baptist church, an English-speaking congregation, will officially dedicate its new church March 17.

The estimated 90-minute ceremony will start about 10 a.m., said Dr. Richard Steel, the pastor. He said other members of the community are welcome to join with the congregation for the event.

The church members are excited because this is the first church owned by the congregation. The members met at Gran Hotel Costa Rica in the downtown for services and have been meeting at the construction site since Easter 2001, said the pastor.

Ron Tucker, president of the board of directors, said that the structure has been called by an administrator of the denomination's largest private university "the most beautiful Protestant church in Costa Rica."

The church with its spire dominates a hilltop just south of the Santa Ana highway just past the turnoff for Multiplaza.

The structure has been under construction since January 1999, said the pastor, who retired here more than two years ago from Bay Town, Texas. He said that when he arrived the planning for the new church had been done. The congregation numbers bout 165 to 170 persons, he said.

Vanilla cultivation is
Saturday fundraiser

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If you ever wondered where those vanilla beans came from, you can find out Saturday.

Thatís when the Angle of Love Foundation is presenting a fundraiser that includes a presentation on growing vanilla, the only edible fruit of the orchid plant and a prehistoric treat in Central America and Mexico.

The 10 a.m. presentation is by Ilse Eichler in her Santa Ana home. Following her talk, Emi Caballero will  present a brief talk on the migration of butterflies. She is an artist who draws butterflies so realistically they seem ready to fly away, according to a foundation spokesman.

The foundation is accepting donations at the event, which will be opposite the El Toro Negro Restaurant in Santa Ana. Parking is free in the restaurant lot. The Angle of Love Foundation supports the Tom and Norman Home in Guápiles where unwanted adults find a home when no one else will care for them.

Following the presentation, those interested can have lunch at El Toro Negro Restaurant, said a spokesman. Additional details are HERE.

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

Combating the Snarls

When some friends, back from a visit to Florida, mentioned that a medium- sized watermelon was $10 in the supermarket, that seemed like a lot to me, and I decided it would be interesting to compare prices. I would, I decided, go to the Saturday feria (farmersí market) and make a note of the prices of fruits and vegetables.

Saturday didnít start out to be a great day. As my mother used to say, I got up on the wrong side of the bed, or I was at sixes and sevens . . everything was in a snarl. There are enough descriptions of how I felt that make me think itís pretty common. I had offered to make the main dish for a charades get-together at noon, and as soon as I awoke I was regretting my offer. 

And although I was up at 6 a.m., my neighbors, who usually give me a lift to the feria, were not at home. I just didnít feel like walking the mile or so. But I had my coffee and set off. My mental outlook did not improve, even with walking. I was simply feeling sorry for myself, and nothing was going to change that. I noticed another woman walking across the street a little ahead of me. She obviously was going to the feria because she was pulling a cart. If I kept her in my sights I couldnít get lost. Sometimes I daydream as I walk and lose my way. 

I was thinking about my friend Jerry, and what he said the other day when he was giving me a lift somewhere. Jerry used to be director of personnel at a university, and I have found people in personnel have an almost knee-jerk response of "How can I help you?" to people who even look like they could use some help. Heís just generally a nice guy. 

We were discussing the ever-increasing traffic and how maddening it was. He said that when he finds himself especially annoyed with other drivers or with traffic in general, he lowers his annoyance by doing three kind acts. He was telling me this as he braked and waved to the car in the next lane to get in front of us. Usually after the third good deed, he said, he had been thanked so much and felt so good about himself he no longer was annoyed.

I was thinking this when I saw a taxi and I hailed it. As I got in, I asked the taxi driver if he would stop down the street for the woman with the cart. I then called to her and asked if she would like to ride. In a moment we were putting her cart in the back seat while she got in the front of the taxi. At the feria, she blessed me enough for three people, and I was beginning to feel a bit better. 

There were a number of stands selling watermelons. They must be in season. And the price varied from 100 to 150 colones a kilo. (Thatís about 15 cents a pound.) Some were halves and they looked delicious, but I wasnít about to carry one home. Instead, I bought four tomatoes, three red peppers, a large cauliflower, a small broccoli, a papaya, a small pineapple, four carrots, a Daikon radish, a box of strawberries and a dozen Cala lilies. All of this came to approximately $4.90.  To be perfectly fair, I should include the cost of two taxis, about $1.30, and admit that in the supermarket watermelons are 170 colones a kilo.

When I got home and was putting everything away, I remembered something else my Florida-visiting friends said: "There we found ourselves eating processed food and a lot more meat, and we realized that we eat so much healthier here." This doesnít mean there are no processed foods here. But it is easier to resist them. Costa Rica also has a lot of "exotic" unfamiliar vegetables and fruits that I never buy simply because they are unfamiliar. 

That made me think of something T.H. White said in "The Once and Future King." When youíre sad, learn something new. Maybe when youíre in a snarl, you should try something new. Next time, I will buy one strange fruit or vegetable. Or is that just throwing a monkey wrench into the situation? 

More Jo Stuart can be found HERE

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1996 Internet copyright treaty enters into force
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An international treaty negotiated in 1996 to protect authors' copyrights on the Internet came into force Wednesday.  Costa Rica was one of the 30 countries that ratified the pact.

The World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty is one of a pair negotiated by 160 countries to protect against Internet piracy. The second pact covers sound recordings and will come into force May 20.

The treaties become law three months after they are ratified by 30 countries. Gabon became the 30th country to join in December. Honduras became the 30th country to join the recording pact Feb. 20, 2002.

Both pacts are designed to bring intellectual property law into the digital age by preventing unauthorized copying or use of work and to ensure the payment of royalties. In a statement, organization Director General Kamil Idris emphasized the importance of the new norms provided for in the two treaties which, he said, "are vital for the further development of the Internet, electronic commerce and thereby the culture and information industries."

The other 29 parties to the Internet treaty are: Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gabon, Georgia, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Lucia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.

The organization provided this background on its Web site, http://www.wipo.org:

Copyright law provides protection for literary and artistic works, giving authors the ability to control the exploitation of their works. The law of related rights provides similar protection for the creative contributions of those involved in presenting works to the public, such as performers, phonogram producers and broadcasters. 

These rights are provided by national laws in individual countries. International treaties serve to forge links among different national laws, ensuring that creators are also protected in another country than their own. The treaties do not overrule national law, but require the countries that join them to grant some specified minimum rights, and to do so on a nondiscriminatory basis.

Adopted in 1996, the two pacts update and improve the international protection which was established prior to the development and widespread use of personal computers and the Internet. The copyright treaty introduces new and far-reaching norms to protect the rights of authors within the digital environment. It protects literary and artistic works, a broad category that includes books, computer programs, music, art, and movies. It updates and supplements the Berne Convention for the 

Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the major international copyright treaty in the world today which was originally adopted in 1886, and most recently revised in 1971. 

The second pact will similarly safeguard the interests of producers of phonograms or sound recordings as well as of the performers whose performances are fixed in phonograms. It updates and supplements the major related rights treaty, the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (adopted in 1961). In this way, the two pacts provide responses to the challenges of the new digital technologies. It is for this reason that they have come to be known as the "Internet treaties."

Both treaties require countries to provide a basic framework of rights, allowing creators to control and/or be compensated for the various ways in which their creations are used and enjoyed by others. The treaties ensure that rightholders will continue to be adequately and effectively protected when their works are disseminated over the Internet. 

They do so, first, by clarifying that the traditional right of reproduction continues to apply in the digital environment, including the storage of material in digital form in an electronic medium; and by confirming the rightholders' right to control the making available of their creations on demand to individual members of the public. 

In order to achieve a balance of interests, the treaties also make clear that countries have flexibility in establishing exceptions or limitations to rights in the digital environment, and may either extend existing exceptions and limitations or adopt new ones, as appropriate in the circumstances. 

The treaties also break new ground by ensuring that rightholders can effectively use technology to protect their rights and to license their works online. 

The "anti-circumvention" provision addresses the problem of "hacking" by requiring countries to provide adequate legal protection and effective remedies against the circumvention of technological measures, such as encryption. Such technologies are used by rightholders to protect their rights when their creations are disseminated on the Internet. 

The treaties also serve to safeguard the reliability and integrity of the online marketplace, by requiring countries to prohibit the deliberate alteration or deletion of electronic "rights management information," that is, information that identifies a work, its author, performer or owner, and the terms and conditions for its use. 

Both treaties also contain provisions on rights of distribution and rental, rights to be remunerated for certain forms of broadcasting or communication to the public, and an obligation for countries to provide adequate and effective enforcement measures. 

Five face investigation
in June kidnapping

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police officials arrested five persons Thursday in a massive operation in which 80 agents, judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers conducted 12 different searches in different areas of Costa Rica.

The five were held for investigation in the abduction and subsequent ransom demand involving businessman Javier Farcia Penón in June.

Kidnappers freed the businessman after a $1 million ransom was paid. Police are believed to have broken the case by tracking excessive spending of the money kidnappers got.

Raids were made in Turrialba, Puntarenas, Tres Rios, San Rafael Arriba de Desamparados, Tibás, Zapote, Barrio Corazón de Jesús, Urbanización Las Margaritas in San Sebastian, Barrio Rio Azul and Desamparados center.

Police think that Penón was held for some days in the place that was raided in Turrialba and later in a mechanics shop in Rio Azul.

Woman faces third
charge of pimping

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Alianza, the child advocate group, said that a woman has been arrested a third time for running a prostitution business. This time the business was in an office building on Paseo Colon, the group said.

The organization identified her as Rocío Umaña Cortez, 31, and said she had been arrested twice before for the same offense involving the operation of a prostitution business with a massage parlor front.

Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica among consenting adults. But pimping is not. 

Cartago man unlikely
Jessica suspect

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Spokesmen for the Judicial Investigating Organization say that a man questioned Wednesday probably is not the kidnapper of 5-year-old Jessica Valverde Pineda. The man, 34, was picked up by Fuerza Publica officers Wednesday in Cartago.

Even then investigators said they doubted the manís involvement. He had the ill fortune to fit the description police developed by talking to witnesses and by using a computer program that generates photos of supposed suspects. 

The photo being circulated by police shows a swarthy man with a dark brown mustache, the description of a high percentage of men in Costa Rica.

The man questioned Wednesday also worked in the Los Guidos de Desamparados area where the girl was taken, although police do not think that he worked there Feb. 20, the day the girl vanished after going a mere 100 yards from her home to a small store.

The man questioned Wednesday was denounced by his neighbors, who thought he looked a lot like the composite photograph developed by police. 0He also is Nicaraguan and did not have papers when police grabbed him.

U.S. envoy states
Argentine concerns

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United States is very concerned about events in Argentina, and the Bush Administration wants Argentines to succeed in their efforts to restore their country's economic health, says the undersecretary of state for political affairs, Marc Grossman.

During a Wednesday interview on a radio program in Buenos Aires, Grossman said President Bush has spoken forcefully about the United States' desire for Argentina to resolve its economic crisis.

"We want Argentina to succeed," said Grossman. Stressing that the United States is prepared to support Argentina in achieving its goals, he added that Argentines "should not feel alone" as they grapple with economic reforms.

And despite the recent political turmoil stemming from economic uncertainties in Argentina, Grossman said that the United States is not worried that democracy in Argentina will fail. "We believe that Argentina ... will stay a democracy and believes in democracy," he affirmed.

Noriega says Haiti
disappoints U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó A key U.S. diplomat involved in Latin American affairs says Haiti must break its political impasse in order to restore democratic order. Roger Noriega, the U.S. representative to the Organization of American States, said Haitian political leaders on all sides have a responsibility to compromise and restore stability.

In an interview Tuesday, Noriega admitted that U.S. officials are disappointed with the current Hatian government's ability to deal with its problems. He urged the leadership of Haiti to find a solution to current political strife in a first step towards helping Hatians rebuild their country.

Ambassador Noriega, who was appointed by President Bush as the OAS representative last year, says the U.S. government will remain engaged in Haiti. But he emphasizes that both U.S. and OAS officials are expecting progress in that country.

Over the last two years, Haiti has been embroiled in political turmoil and election disputes between the ruling Lavalas party and the opposition. Recently, the international community has blocked millions of dollars in aid to Haiti in a push for a resolution.

3,000 Bolivians riot

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LA PAZ, Bolivia ó Bolivian officials say 35 police officers were among 40 people injured Wednesday following clashes with protesting miners in Huanuni, a city south of here.  Authorities say about 3,000 people threw stones, sticks and dynamite as the officers attempted to clear a roadblock set up by the demonstrators. The protesters apparently were demanding the resignation of five local council members who were recently acquitted of embezzlement. 

Rumsfeld wants OK
to arm Colombians

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has joined the chorus of officials who say that Washington should ease restrictions on U.S. military aid to Colombia, which is battling leftist rebels in an increasingly fierce civil war. 

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Army general in charge of the U.S. Southern Command have made similar statements to Congress in the last few days. 

Thursday Rumsfeld said he is confident the White House and Congress will revise the policy that currently restricts military aid to helping Colombia battle narcotics traffickers. Bogota currently receives more than $1 billion in U.S. aid. 

Rumsfeld called the current policy "constraining" in light of Colombian President Andres Pastrana's decision to end peace talks with the rebels and launch a military assault on their stronghold. 

The Bush Administration has repeately expressed strong support for President Pastrana. The White House spokesman said Thursday that Colombian rebels are terrorists because they have hijacked airliners and kidnapped and murdered political opponents. 

Again Thursday Powell pointed out that rebel attacks on Colombian oil pipelines have deprived the United States of an important source of oil. The White House wants congressional approval of a special aid package to train Colombian soldiers to better protect the pipeline. 

In March 6 congressional testimony, Powell said the United States has to take a "hard look at what we're doing, and see if there are not other ways we can help Colombia protect itself, short of the United States' armed forces going in to do it." What exactly should be done, Powell said, is the subject of "intense discussion within the administration now."

Powell's testimony to the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies followed remarks by Rep. Jose Serrano (Democrat of New York) that the United States should avoid military involvement in Colombia. Serrano also cautioned that U.S. involvement in Colombia "could be a long, costly one that may not take us in the direction we want to go."

The hearing came on the same day the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution in support of Colombia and that country's efforts to "counter threats from U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations."

The resolution called on President Bush to send legislation to Congress that would help Colombia protect itself from U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations and "the scourge of illicit narcotics."

Rep. Henry Hyde (Republican of Illinois), who introduced the resolution with Rep. Tom Lantos (Democrat of California), said terrorism in Colombia, as elsewhere, is financed by drug trafficking. Terrorists, he said, are deeply involved in the drug trade.

Colombian President Pastrana expressed appreciation for the resolution, saying his country has become "the theater of operations in which the U.S.-led global campaign against terrorism is being waged."

Pastrana said Colombia's success, or failure, in this campaign has implications for regional and hemispheric stability and peace.

Meanwhile, the Organization of American States (OAS) announced Wednesday that it will send a team of observers to monitor Colombia's May 26 presidential elections.

Also Thursday, negotiators from Colombia's second-largest rebel group and the government began meeting again in Havana for a new round of talks aimed at securing a ceasefire. 

Delegates from the National Liberation Army, the ELN, and the government resumed their discussions Wednesday, less than two months after holding similar talks in the Cuban capital. 

In a related development, Colombia's Roman Catholic Church has described the country as "morally sick." The Reuters news agency says Msgn. Alberto Giraldo told Colombia's Episcopal Conference the country has succombed to a lust for blood since peace talks with the FARC collapsed last month.

Venezuelan troops
are sent to border

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuelas ó  Some 2,000 troops have moved to the border with Colombia to prevent the entry of rebels from that country's civil war. 

The French news agency quotes army commander Gen. Efrain Vasquez Velasco as saying Venezuela recently sent six helicopters, two of them gunships, to border areas. He also said a special operations battalion is headed toward the border. 

Venezuela and other nations bordering Colombia have been on guard since January when peace talks began to falter between the government in Bogota and the country's main rebel group. 

Both sides in the conflict launched all-out offensives after Colombian President Andres Pastrana abandoned the talks in February. The talks broke down after the rebels hijacked a civilian airliner and abducted a senator. 

Venezuela's troop deployment follows expressions of concern by the neighboring nations that the fighting in Colombia could spill over into their countries.

Prince Charles
tours Veracruz

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

VERACRUZ, Mexico ó Britain's Prince Charles has begun a three-day visit to Mexico by participating in ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of this port city.

The heir to the British throne launched the celebrations Wednesday as he arrived in the city on a steam train. He later unveiled a statue of Britain's Sir Wheatman Pearson, who built the railway linking Mexico City to the Gulf of Mexico port. 

The prince is expected to travel Thursday to Puebla state, east of Mexico state, to tour a shelter for street children. 

The prince's visit follows a two-day stop in Brazil, where he met with officials and toured a shantytown revival project. He also demonstrated some samba moves with dancers in Rio de Janeiro.

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