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(506) 2223-1327         Published Tuesday, March 22, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 57          E-mail us
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One Easter season food can spice up scrambled eggs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If it's the Easter season, the time has come to cut some flor de itabo flowers for a slightly bitter addition to the daily diet.

In anticipation of the approaching rainy season, trees are abloom. The red llama de la selva and the pink blossoms of the roble de sabana tree can be seen all over the Central Valley. But it is the white flowers of the flor de Itabo (Yucca elephantipes) that country-born Costa Ricans seek.

The one problem is that the trees frequently are 30 feet high. Someone, probably not a chubby, has to reach the top and chop off the flower, perhaps with a handsaw. The trees are highly valued because they grow quickly and frequently are used as a perimeter fence. Those not comfortable scaling an ill-supported extension ladder can find the flowers at the various weekend ferias.

The petals are separated from the stems, washed and drained. There is a multitude of uses. Two men harvesting flowers in San Pedro Monday noted that the flowers make a good addition to scrambled eggs, despite a slight bitterness. But they also planned to use the petals with onions, peppers and other chopped vegetables in tortillas.

Eating flowers is not always a good idea. The blossoms of the reina de la noche can put someone to sleep forever. The flor de itabo is so unique and easily identified that there really is no danger. Columnist Jo Stuart reported that she tried the flower once but found it to be too bitter. Here is the editor's recipe for flor de itabo a la Johnny.


   One cluster of flor de itabo blossoms
   half liter Johnny Walker red label
   half liter of water
   two medium glasses


Put the flor de itabo blossom in the glass with the water. Admire it. Pour the Johnny Walker into the other glass and drink it.
For de itabo cutting
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Two men in pursuit of the flor de itabo flower pay little concern to the law of gravity.

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Our readers' opinions
Tomayko case reveals
a larger problem here

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

A.M. Costa Rica’s article titled “Tomayko manipulated media” describes how Ms. Tomayko, Ms. Del Vecchio and the Costa Rican government thumbed their collective noses at international law and the laws of another sovereign nation which was the court of competent jurisdiction in Tomayko’s legal matter.

The article ends with the statement, “However, there have been no obvious consequences.”  The operative word is obvious because indeed there are and continue to be consequences.

When the population of Costa Rica was under a 500,000 people, the quaint legal system based on the old Royal Spanish court system seemed to work.  The uneducated peons were ruled by the agricultural aristocracy.  Read that as coffee barons and the United Fruit Company.

The old Spanish system, like other European legal systems, was known historically to be highly prejudicial, unnecessarily complicated, convoluted and outcomes were dependent upon to whom one was connected.

It was not based on the rule of law. The rule of law means that no one is above the law (equality under the law) and no one can be penalized by the state unless it is has been proven the person had violated the law.

Now that Costa Rica is a nation of 4 million and it has important international influence including a thriving tourism and expat sector, the inadequacies of the failure to abide by the rule of law are causing the system to crumble.  In other words, for an elite segment of the populace, it is not against the law to violate the law.

The issue of Tomayko and the governments’ unilateral decision to disregard of international treaties and the laws of another nation with which Costa Rica agreed to comply is tangential to the core issues which is the lack of a systemic-legal integrity, consistency and reliability.

The issue is that Costa Rica will never reach first world status in large part due to its failure to put the rule of law first.  While that is a not necessarily an obvious outcome, it is never the less a significant outcome.
P. H. Anders
U.S. research program
blamed for climate change

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The first day of Spring

Alongside a small portion of the globalists' agenda, namely ripping people and nations off for trillions of USD and tangible assets on behalf of a universal carbon tax/emission trade to be managed by the U.N., specifically our most recent visitor Mr. Al Gore, the Northern Hemisphere celebrated the beginning of spring yesterday. Greenland experienced a beautiful sunny day with the coldest temperatures of -47 C during the day and -59 C at night (Saturday it was -61C) with only 1959 having been slightly colder at -65.9 C.

Contrary to the mainstream media's (et al) relentless attacks on global-warming-on-behalf-of-CO2 deniers, CO2 certainly has nothing to do with earth's temperatures, and people are warned to believe those misanthropist quacks who tell them differently on behalf of the flow of big funding, jobs, grants and personal profiling. Greenland's 2-kilometer firm ice sheet attests to its own early history of warm summer days and wonderfully cool evenings in the midst of lush pine forests teeming with butterflies and beetles and shows that our planet's climate has not been, is not and will not be affected by the activities of man on earth.

The only method causing or contributing to man-made climate change is Tesla's HAARP technology owned and operated by the U.S. military and advocated by Cheney et al. as a tool for the U.S. "full spectrum dominance."

Happily or blissfully ignorant (pseudo-) scientists (often with a Ph.Ds) may revolve under their warm blankets when finally learning about the cloak-and-dagger ways global politics work. Perhaps Gore's visit and the meteorological slime oozing out from him and the collaborating La Nación "newspaper" did raise an eyebrow with them too, although I assume their efforts at cognitive dissonance reduction are plugging away strongly...?!

Axel Marquardt
Hamburg, Germany,
San Jose, Costa Rica

EDITOR'S NOTE: HAAAP is the U.S. High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program which has been blamed for causing illness and also for floods worldwide.

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, March 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 57 
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Long horse
Comité Bandera Azul Ecológica de San Miguel de Santo Domingo photos
Like a scene from some fairy tale a lone white horse awaits rescue alongside the Río Tibás.
They expected plastic bottles and trash but not a horse
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is no telling what volunteers might find when they do a river cleanup. Volunteers last weekend found an injured white horse trapped by rocks, the Río Tibás and trees. The animal appeared to have had several days without decent food and only the heavily polluted river water to drink.

The volunteers were from the Comité Bandera Azul Ecológica de San Miguel de Santo Domingo, which is conducting a continual cleanup of the river. This time they gathered 10 sacks of plastic and other trash in a stretch from Poza de Tururun to Los Angeles.

The horse was a surprise. Volunteers said they managed to help the animal across the river, and the animal went off to pastures in Los Angeles de Santo Domingo. However, the volunteers urged owners to keep track of their animals.

The horse was not the only surprise. Volunteers said they found a pump that they had reported to authorities a year ago. The pump appears to be used in agriculture, bringing  the heavily polluted river water to a nearby field for use on vegetables. The volunteers said the river is so polluted the water is not even fit for this use and to pump pollution on human foods is a health risk. They said they would urge municipal officials to take greater interest in their complaint.
lone horse two
Volunteer offers the horse some food.

New stadium will be a smoke-free zone, ministry says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The world is closing in on smokers.

The Ministerio de Salud said Monday that smoking would be prohibited in the new national stadium in La Sabana.

Private companies are also trying to accommodate non-smokers. Budget Car Rental has developed a new policy of providing cars that are smoke free. Hotels have been doing the same for years.

The health ministry also applied an environmental touch to the announcement and reported that to produce 300 cigarettes requires cutting a tree and that nine million acres of forest are used each year for cigarettes.

The stadium is expected to go into use next week with a soccer game between the Costa Rican national team and that of Argentina.

The announcement of the smoking ban came from María Luisa Ávila, the health minister. The ban was accepted by
 the Instituto Costarricense del Deporte y la Recreación, said an announcement.

The ministry coupled its announcement with a recitation of all the ills that come from tobacco.

There was no mention if the ban also would cover snuff.

Budget said in an announcement that its policy of providing cars that had not been used by smokers was part of a larger carbon offset program.

Budget is asking each driver who rents a car to contribute $1 to offset the impact of carbon dioxide emissions. The company said it would be the first car rental agency in Costa Rica to finance a reforestation project as part of the mitigation of carbon dioxide.

The company said its customers use more than 225,000 gallons of fuel each year and a non-profit organization has calculated the carbon dioxide emissions. The company is supporting a reforestation project in El Carmen de Parrita where there are nearly 40,000 protected trees.

Lawmakers dump traffic law in favor of their own text
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After six months of studying the existing traffic law and after hearing from a multitude of interested parties, lawmakers on a special committee set up for that purpose have decided to do a complete rewrite.

The proposal would reduce some of the penalties, including those for drunk driving.

The committee's decision is not supported by the central government.
The new proposal stresses highway education, and also addresses the point system, although the full text is not available.

Motorists have been expecting some changes in the traffic law, including an opening up of the system of vehicle inspection.

Retive SyC now has a de facto monopoly for that process.

Lawmakers will continue to study their own text and may continue to make changes.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 57 

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First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, President Sebastián Piñera of Chile and his wife, Cecilia Morel, wave during the welcoming ceremony at La Moneda Palace in Santiago, Chile Monday.
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Obama proposes a new partnership for Latin America

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama has challenged the people of Latin America to work with the United States to build a future marked by equal partnership, shared responsibility for economic progress, and support for democracy and human rights.  The president spoke Monday in Santiago, Chile, the second stop of a three-nation Latin America tour.

Obama spoke in a country he says has become a regional and global leader, and which, during the last 13 months, experienced a devastating earthquake and tsunami, a major political transition, and the triumphant rescue of 33 trapped copper miners.

Obama is the first U.S. president in nearly 20 years to make a bilateral visit to Chile.  His speech drew comparisons to one he delivered in Cairo in 2009 in which he proposed a new relationship with the Muslim world.

President Obama spoke at Santiago's Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Center with Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, three former Chilean presidents and diplomats from the region looking on.

Chile, he said, is but one example of how democracy has flourished in virtually all of Latin America.

"Across the region, we see vibrant democracies - from Mexico to Chile to Costa Rica," said President Obama. "We’ve seen historic peaceful transfers of power - from El Salvador to Uruguay to Paraguay.  The work of perfecting our democracies, of course, is never truly done.  But this is the outstanding progress that has been made here in the Americas."

"From Guadalajara to Santiago to Sao Paulo," Obama said, Latin American countries have lifted millions from poverty, while making tough but needed reforms, creating a new and more demanding middle class and contributing to global prosperity and security.

Calling Latin America more important than ever to the prosperity and security of the United States, the president spoke of a new vision for the Americas.

"Security for our citizens," said Obama. "Trade and development that creates jobs, prosperity and a clean energy future.  Standing up for democracy and human rights.  These are the partnerships that we can forge together here in the Americas and around the world."
Despite progress, Obama also spoke about what he called enduring stark inequalities and other realities that leaders in the region need to face.

"Political and economic power that is too often concentrated in the hands of the few, instead of serving the many," he said. "In the corruption that stifles economic growth, development, innovation and entrepreneurship.  And in leaders who cling to bankrupt ideologies to justify
their own power and who seek to silence their opponents because they have the audacity to demand their universal rights."

In a joint news conference, Obama and Pinera detailed new partnerships and agreements in areas ranging from renewable energy to expanded educational and student exchanges.

Obama praised Chilean leadership in the Americas, including in Haiti, and globally, including its participation in the Nuclear Security Summit hosted in Washington last year, and in a developing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade zone.

Responding to a reporter's question, Obama said the United States stands ready to consider Chilean requests for information needed to investigate past wounds from the era of dictatorships.

"I think it’s very important for all of us to know our history," said Obama. "And obviously, the history of relations between the United States and Latin America have at times been extremely rocky and have at times been difficult.  I think it’s important, though, for us, even as we understand our history and gain clarity about our history, that we’re not trapped by our history."

The president stressed that human rights and democracy need to be defended within countries and across the hemisphere, and said the Cuban government needs to respond to calls to improve its record.

"Going forward, we will continue to seek ways to increase the independence of the Cuban people, who I believe are entitled to the same freedom and liberty as everyone else in this hemisphere," he said. "I will make this effort to try to break out of this history that has now lasted for longer than I have been alive.  But Cuban authorities must take some meaningful actions to respect the basic rights of their own people — not because the United States insists on it, but because the people of Cuba deserve it."

Obama also spoke of an event in Chile that held the attention of the world last year — the successful rescue of 33 miners. That global moment, he said, represented the capacity of people to meet challenges.  And he connected it with the determination of people in the Americas to achieve their goals.

"When countries across Latin America come together and focus on a common goal, when the United States and others in the world do our part, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together," said Obama. "This is our vision of the Americas.  This is the progress we can achieve together.  And this is the spirit of partnership and equality to which the United States of America is committed."

Obama departs Chile Tuesday morning for El Salvador — the final stop on his five day Latin America tour.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 57 

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Senior U.S. agency lawyer
sentenced in corruption case

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A senior attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was sentenced this morning to 212 months in federal prison for taking nearly one-half million dollars in bribes from immigrants who were promised benefits that would allow them to remain in the United States.

Constantine Peter Kallas, 40, of Alta Loma, received the 17⅔-year sentence from United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. He was the agency's assistant chief counsel.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hatter ordered Kallas to pay $296,865 in restitution after fraudulently receiving worker’s compensation benefits.

“Mr. Kallas has received one of the longest sentences ever seen in a public corruption case,” said U. S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. “Mr. Kallas took in hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes – money he obtained by exploiting his knowledge of the immigration system. The lengthy sentence reflects the seriousness of the crimes, which were a wholesale violation of the public trust.”

Following a three-week trial, a federal jury in April 2010 convicted Kallas of three dozen felony counts – conspiracy, six counts of bribery, two counts of obstruction of justice, seven counts of fraud and misuse of entry documents, three counts of aggravated identity theft, nine counts of making false statements to the Department of Labor, four counts of making false statements to obtain federal employee compensation, and four counts of tax evasion.

Kallas has been in a federal jail since August 2008, about two months after he was arrested by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, California. Kallas was arrested after he took a $20,000 bribe from an immigrant during an incident that was captured on casino surveillance cameras and shown to the jury.

Judiciary planning fair
to show services offered

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Poder Judicial plans to display its services in an exposition Wednesday and Thursday. Six stands are planned to show the 11 basic services the agency provides. Many of the services are now available on the Internet, and that will be pointed out, too, the agency said.

The stands will be in one of the judicial buildings in the Poder Judicial complex downtown.

One document that is frequently sought is the hoja de delincuencia, which can now be ordered over the Internet. Despite the name, this is basically a police clearance letter that lists criminal charges or the absence of them. The document frequently is required by employers or for immigration uses.

Haitians urged to await
vote results with restraint

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Nations is urging the Haitian people to show patience and restraint as they await the results of Sunday's presidential runoff election, in which former first lady Mirlande Manigat faced off against popular singer Michel Martelly.

The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti issued a statement Monday saying the future of the Caribbean nation is at stake.  Officials said despite some logistical and administrative problems and isolated acts of violence, the second round concluded in considerably better condition than the initial round last November. 

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also has reaffirmed the U.N.'s commitment to helping Haiti build a prosperous future.  Additionally, the European Union praised the way in which the election was conducted.

Opinion polls indicated Martelly was favored to win.  The official results are expected at the end of the month.

Martelly was initially excluded from the runoff until international observers reviewed the first round results and recommended he advance to the second round instead of the ruling party candidate, Jude Celestin.  The observers cited fraud and irregularities in the first round of balloting.

Sunday's election took place two days after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti from South Africa, where he had been living in exile.   Aristide, who was driven from office by armed rebels in 2004, returned to the Caribbean nation despite U.S. concerns that his presence could destabilize the vote.
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Water school ceremony
planned in La Unión today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A part of commemoration of the World Water Day today, U.S. officials will be in the Municipalidad de la Unión today to lay the cornerstone on the Escuela del Agua y el Ambiente, an initiative by Julio Rojas Astorga, the local mayor.

La Unión calls itself the Cantón del Agua, and the idea is to create an educational facility along the Tiribi. The Fulbright Association of Costa Rica is contributing $25,000 to the effort. Attending today will be U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew and various politicians.

The municipality also is creating what it calls the Ruta Ecoturistica del Agua in cooperation with the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. This is a walking tour that seeks to show the importance of water. But it also includes historical points like the Tres Ríos train station. The canton is the location of a number of natural water sources that eventually join to be the Río Tiribi.

The water school is being developed in conjunction with the Universidad Estatal a Distancia.

Juilliard jazz artists
will perform at midday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The midday musical program at the Teatro Nacional today will be the Juilliard Jazz Artist Diploma Ensemble from New York City. This is part of the Teatro al Mediodía. It begins at 12:10 p.m.

The concert forms part of the Promising Artists of the XXI Century of the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano. The group will present works by John Coltrane, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, the theater said.

Art museum will offer
yoga and meditation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Museo de Arte Costarricense is offering an afternoon of art and meditation Saturday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the museum in Parque la Sabana.

The program involves a tour of the museum at 3:30 p.m. followed by yoga at 4:30 p.m. Meditation will be accompanied by live music, the museum said. Instructors are Nango Murray and Vanessa Cavallini.

The entry fee is an unusual one. The museum requests that those attending bring and donate a 13-watt low-consumption light bulb, the spiral type.

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