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(506) 223-1327        Published Tuesday, March 14, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 52          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Some cops took swim in his pool, he said
Ayre counterattacks and seeks probe of raid

By Saray Ramírez Vindas
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Calvin Ayre, the wealthy gambling operator whose home police raided Friday, says he may go to the Sala IV constitutional court to find out all the facts about the law enforcement action. And he said the government of Costa Rica should launch an investigation into the violation of his constitutional rights as well as the theft, damage, loss of filming assets and damage to his reputation internationally and here in Costa Rica.

The warrant for the raid seeking illegal gambling was based on fundamental inaccuracies coming from newspaper articles, the Internet and mistranslations of press releases, he said. The investigation was of the wrong person, the wrong location and the wrong act, he said.

In addition, the 60 to 100 police and immigration officers helped themselves to a buffet of food, and three police officers stripped and took a swim in his pool, he said.

But all is not lost. Ayre said the raid might become the exciting conclusion of the poker championship reality show that triggered the police action. “It could make a nice and exciting ending to a show watched by millions of people around the world.” Ayre said in a Monday night press release.  “After all it is reality television.” The first segment airs April 15.

Police, judicial agents and immigration officials raided the swank Santa Ana Bodog Compound and arrived during a gathering celebrating completion of the last of “Calvin Ayre Wildcard Poker” being produced for Fox Sports. The celebration was being filmed because much of the six-part reality show features Ayre's lifestyle.

Ayre, a 44-year-old Canadian, denies he violated any Costa Rican gambling laws because there was no cost to the participants to enter the $500,000 poker challenge that was taped, he said. In addition, Bodog.com of which he is CEO and founder, had disclosed earlier Monday that the actual poker games that are part of the show were filmed at the Channel 7 television studio in Sabana Oeste.

Said the earlier release: "Calvin Ayre is not involved with Channel 7. All aspects of production were handled and hired by Fox Sports, and Fox Sports rented a studio in Channel 7. The relationship between Fox and Channel 7 was strictly the rental of the studio."

That's why Ayre maintains officials raided the wrong place.  Channel 7 would not comment to a reporter Monday.

Ayre said the raid is causing his company to reevaluate its commitment of millions of dollars to future television productions in Costa Rica. "The government of Costa Rica will need to decide if it is willing to choose to
receive lawful foreign investment or if it will continue to allow overzealous bureaucrats, police, and officials to harass companies who are investing money into the Costa Rican economy and creating jobs for the Costa Rican people," he said.

Bodog.com employs hundreds of Costa Ricans

Calvin Ayre
in its head office in San José and is a pure exporter of services, the release said.  100 percent of the money Bodog.com spends in Costa Rica is generated internationally, thus benefiting Costa Rica’s economic position in the world, it said.

The Ayre release said the search warrant was based on a sworn statement by
Prosecutor Victor Julio Vargas and signed by Judge Adrian Molina of the San José first judicial circuit. Police confiscated two computers, and, Ayre said, a licensed pistol.

"It appears the sole basis of the warrant granted to search Ayre’s residence came from inaccurate tabloid articles in a local Costa Rican paper and on the Internet, plus inaccurate translations of the TV series press releases and other international articles such as Ayre’s recent cover article on Forbes Magazine out of New York," said the release. Forbes last week named Ayre as one of the world's billionaires.

He said that six actors playing the roles of bodyguards in the filming were detained by immigration agents. He suggested that these individuals were not actually working for money. “Many up-and-coming actors are willing to play roles in productions such as this without compensation in exchange for the experience. We cannot continue to risk our actors being thrown in jail unjustly” said Ayre. Four of the men have been invited to leave Costa Rica by immigration officials.

Aside from the unfortunate incident, the wrap-up party was a success, Ayre had said earlier in the day.  "The party was eventually moved from the Bodog Compound to the Intercontinental Hotel where I spent the evening partying with models, celebrities and poker pros."

Bodog is an international online gambling operation with estimated income of $7 billion in 2005. It has spun off a number of associated entities, including Bodog Entertainment and The Calvin Ayre Foundation.

The daily Al Día was the publication that brought official notice last week to Ayre and  the Ayre residence in the upscale Valle del Sol subdivision. The newspaper sought comments from Rodrigo Arias, the future minister of the Presidencia in the Óscar Arias government, and also from current security officials.

Ayre has a date to talk with prosecutors Wednesday.

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Dogs find location
of murder victim's grave

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The canine unit found the buried body of a man near Las Rocas in Bajo Los Rodríguez, San Ramón, and gave police the evidence they needed to hold three men Monday.

Fuerza Pública officers said they received a confidential notification that three men were involved in the death of a fourth. They managed to arrest a 39-year-old man with the last names of Mendoza Sosa.  But they had no body or the two other suspects.

Police said they spotted the two other individuals in La Tigra de San Carlos while the pair were enroute to their native Nicaragua. Arrested were a 16-year-old and a 52-year-old man with the last names of Arauz Cruz.

Officers called in the dogs Rex, Dana and Chaogún to search for the victim, and before noon they located the body of Freddy Manzanares Angulo some seven kilometers from their starting point, police said. Officers had a general idea of the location of the grave but no specifics, they said.

Experts convene to study
aspects of flash flooding

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 100 experts from some 80 countries are attending the first international workshop to address the threat of flash floods. The event runs through Friday in San José.

"Realizing Flash Flood and Disaster Resilience through New Partnerships and Technologies" is being organized by the World Meteorological Organization and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to the organizers the key objectives of the workshop are to provide an overview of flash flood prediction capabilities available for application in flood-prone regions; identify weak links in establishing flash flood warning systems; showcase best practices and case-studies and share tools, science and system integration in flash flood risk reduction; present project briefs for establishing or improving flash flood forecasting services and open dialogue with donor and finance organizations.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional de Costa Rica also is a sponsor.

Child's crying leads to arrest

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Neighbors in Cariari de Pococí heard a child crying loudly and alerted police who came and found that one of the two adults in the home was sought on another case.

Arrested was Marín Rodríguez, who was sought on various robbery counts. The 5-year-old appeared to have been give a beating.

Police reported they arrived at the house but were told by a woman, presumably the mother of the child, that all was in order. But when they searched the house, they found Rodríguez hiding, they said.

Liquid gas going down

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo is seeking a 3.8 percent reduction in the price of liquid petroleum gas. The request will be heard by the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos, which will make the final decision.

Online betting site sold

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nine.com, an online betting operation in San José, has been sold to Leisure and Gaming Plc, a firm traded on the London Stock Exchange. In addition, Nine.com president Robert Evans announced Monday that he would be leaving the firm at the end of the week.

Trailer had 45 illegals inside

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers stopped a tractor-trailer Monday and found 45 illegal immigrants from Nicaragua in the trailer, they said.

The incident took place in Santa Elena in Santa Cecilia, La Cruz, Guanacaste. Arrested was a Costa Rican driver with the last names of Rojas Loría.

Canadian prime minister
makes trip to Afghanistan

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has arrived in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for an unannounced visit to Canadian troops stationed there.

Harper arrived at Kandahar air base Sunday in a Canadian military aircraft. Journalists traveling with him had to agree not to break news of the trip until his visit was underway.

He said the trip is a way to show the Canadian troops their government and their country is behind them. Mr. Harper said Canada's mission in Afghanistan is its most significant international undertaking in decades.
He was to spend Monday visiting troops on the base and eating with them in the dining facilities.

Canada has about 2,300 members of its military in Afghanistan. Ten Canadian soldiers and a diplomat have died there since early 2002.

Party of former rebels
leads in El Salvador voting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Early returns from El Salvador's congressional elections give a narrow lead to a leftist party of former rebels.

With around 20 percent of votes counted from Sunday's elections, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, is slightly ahead of President Tony Saca's conservative ARENA party.

An exit poll released on national television suggests the FMLN will secure 34 seats in El Salvador's 84-member Congress. The same poll puts the ruling ARENA party one seat behind with 33. The FMLN was a guerrilla group during El Salvador's civil war, and became a political party under a 1992 peace deal.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 14, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 52


A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
A request
for Arias

Part of being president-elect is the fact that people seek help.

This man approached Óscar Arias Monday to seek help for a son who needs treatment for drug use. The man said he worked on the Arias campaign.

No promises were made, and Arias will find that many youngsters on the street are in need of the same treatment.

First step taken in process to change the government
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The first step in the change of government took place Monday when Vice President Lineth Saborío met with Rodrigo Arias at Casa Presidencial.

In addition to her role as vice president, Ms. Saborío also serves as minister of the Presidencia. Rodrigo Arias will hold the same post when his brother, Óscar Arias Sánchez takes office May 8. The meeting was private, but a statement later said that they met in an atmosphere of cordiality.

Later, Rodrigo Arias confirmed that the ceremony putting the sash of office on his brother would take place at the Estadio Nacional in Sabana Oeste. President Abel Pacheco took his oath of office at the Teatro Melico Salazar, which was crowded with diplomats and other officials. The stadium will have plenty of room for the average citizen.

The Casa Presidencial statement only mentioned briefly that the two discussed the executive branch's agenda of proposed actions that have been sent to the Asamblea Legislativa. During the last two months that the 2002-2006 legislature meets, only the executive branch can initiate legislation.
Certainly part of the discussion was the status of the
free trade treaty with the United States. Óscar Arias strongly supports the treaty, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the legislature that takes office May 1. Arias' Partido Liberación Nacional does not have enough votes to carry the treaty, and the next biggest group of lawmakers is from Partido Acción Ciudadana, which opposed the treaty.

The treaty probably needs a two-thirds vote to go into force. So a quick vote is favored by those who back the treaty.

Meanwhile, Honduras said Monday that it was prepared to put the treaty into effect. El Salvador already has done so.

The other pressing legislative issue is the proposed fiscal plan that will increase taxes.  The measure is being reviewed by the Sala IV constitutional court, but passage is necessary if Arias is to have funds with which to implement programs.

One of the realities of the Pacheco presidency was shortage of funds. Both Liberación and Acción Ciudadana appear to support the new tax plan, so the new legislature might easily approve this measure.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 14, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 52

U.S. citizenship program seeks to speed process
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Bush administration says it is working to process applications for U.S. citizenship with greater speed - in a matter of months rather than years.

The director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Emilio Gonzalez, admits his agency has a problem: a long backlog of people who have submitted applications to become American citizens, and that this problem causes frustration for all concerned.

"A lot of times, depending on the office you go into, you find that the wait is fairly significant — it is unacceptably significant," he said. "And that is why we instituted a backlog elimination program where over the last three years we have been putting manpower, resources and money into those offices that have backlogs, with an end of having everyone adjudicated within six months from the time of application."

Gonzalez was speaking at a news conference in Washington. He said the six-month processing goal assumes that all paperwork is filed correctly from the start, and that background checks reveal nothing of concern.
But even under the best of circumstances, he said his agency faces a monumental task. Gonzalez noted that the United States receives more citizenship and immigration applications than any other nation, and processing them takes time.

"We run 135,000 name checks a day, 35 million a year," he said. "That is huge."

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formally known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Director Gonzalez says, while speed in processing applications is important, he would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to screening people.

But if the agency's current duties are overwhelming, yet another responsibility may lie ahead. Gonzalez said his employees are preparing to handle applications related to a possible guestworker program President Geroge Bush has proposed that would allow millions of illegal aliens to remain in the United States as authorized temporary workers. Most analysts say it is doubtful Congress will enact such a program in the immediate future.

Case of mad cow disease found in animal in Alabama
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A beef cow in the United States has tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

No parts of the cow entered the human or animal food chain, said John Clifford, chief veterinarian of the department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

As the investigation goes on, "we will continue to be very transparent in sharing information with the public and with our trading partners around the world," Clifford said.

He said the department does not expect U.S. beef exports to be affected.

An inconclusive result of a March 10 routine test on a 10-year-old, nonambulatory cow in the state of Alabama indicated the presence of the disease. That result then was confirmed by the department's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa.

The inspection service is doing a third type of test, known as immunohistochemistry, and plans to release those results within days, Clifford said.
The agency is investigating the origin of the cow and of the herds with which it was raised. After a veterinarian took tissue samples from the ailing cow, the animal was killed and buried on the farm where it had lived for less than a year. The cow was born before 1997 — prior to the U.S. ban on feed containing bovine-derived material. That ban was designed to limit the spread of mad cow disease in cattle.

All animals determined to have come into contact with the infected cow will be tested, Clifford said. However, worldwide experience has shown that it is highly unusual to find the disease in more than one animal in a herd or in an infected animal’s offspring, he added.

This is the third case of mad cow found in the United States since an enhanced surveillance program was put into place in mid-1994.

The surveillance program involves a system of interlocking safeguards intended to ensure that any cases of BSE are identified and contained quickly and accurately.

Since the surveillance program began, approximately 650,000 cows have been tested for the disease, officials said.

Uribe's coalition wins a majority in Colombian legislative elections
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Election results show the ruling coalition of President Alvaro Uribe has won a strong majority in the country's Congress.

With most of the ballots counted from Sunday's vote, parties loyal to Uribe are projected to win more than 60 Senate seats in the 102-member upper house. Colombian voters also selected 166 members of the lower house of Congress.

Uribe's coalition fared much better than pollsters had
expected, and the results could give a boost to his campaign for re-election in May.

Uribe is seeking a second four-year term as president to continue the struggle against the leftist guerilla group FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). He called on the FARC to abandon its four-decade old insurgency and resume the stalled peace process.

Sunday's congressional elections were largely peaceful, and polling stations were protected by a large security force of 200,000 troops.

Jo Stuart
About us

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