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(506) 2223-1327               Published Tuesday, March 30, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 62        E-mail us
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The trick is handling the flood of Internet data
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An article Monday noted that the Costa Rican tax officials will now accept scanned documents and other electronic formats instead of just paper. This is a trend, and savvy business people have scanning equipment to store electronically the documents that come across their desks.

This is not new. U.S. banks and government offices have been using microfilm for years.

The Costa Rican decision, however, points to a growing trend to favor the Internet over printing on paper. Nevertheless there are growing dangers in this trend.

The ease of entry into the Internet has brought us the phenomenon of spam, all those unwanted messages that can be delivered cheaply. Many, of course are fraudulent.

The Internet also allows the quick creation of channels of information. Laura Chinchilla, the president-elect, used all the social media in her campaign. We have Facebook, Twitter and a host of rivals. There are a number of political discussion lists in Spanish related to Costa Rica. There is a startup that seeks to keep close track of Costa Rican police activities.

There also are a number of Internet publications that cater to other individual tastes and preferences.

The overall effect is a multitude of voices competing for an individual's time. One could spend a full day at a computer just answering e-mails and participating on the many online discussion lists and groups. A lot of people do just that, including many in Costa Rica who can easily find English spoken on the Web. Others reject the Web and manage their lives with very limited information about their surroundings.

This is the era of very free speech. Some individuals in Playas del Coco are using the Web to warn their friends about local crooks. A former La Nación staffer is using a Web page as a way to expose sharp business practices here. If you don't like someone, put up an unflattering Web page. For almost no money except the cost of computer rental, someone can launch their detailed opinions to the world.

The Internet elevates a 14-year-old to the same level as the president of the United States.

Of course, there is a lot of incorrect and deliberately misleading information on the Web. So computer users have to be cautious. There have been some recent stories and photos that incorrectly characterized Costa Rica. But the
information flood

danger is far deeper than a flood of false
information. Truth eventually can be found.

For democracy, the problem is the fragmentation of the public mind. Being a good citizen takes effort, and passively living in an electronic world does not provide the basic information that an individual needs to make informed decisions.

Cutting through the flood is the job of A.M. Costa Rica and similar publications. These news outlets scan the worldwide flood and bring focus to what may be important trends. Just 20 minutes scanning and reading key Internet publications can bring a person up to date over the world's developments for the last 24 hours. This is the same role that newspapers traditionally have played. The difference is that the public today has access to the raw data.

The public even has access to the news feeds of The Associated Press and many other agencies.

There is another class of people who wish to reach the public. These are in the business world. They couple their commercial messages, their news, with print or electronic periodicals. The nice ones who do not use spam have a hard time reaching their intended market. Hence paid advertising.

For many individuals advertising is as important as any front page news story. Commercial messages tell the reader that those offering services are spending money to transmit their information. There also is the likelihood that the publication has exercised some control over the advertising content. That elevates these commercial messages far above the simple spam that has not faced such review.

So Internet publications appear to have moved from discoverers of the truth to packagers of the truth. That is a significant difference than when public access to information was more or less restricted to the commercial media. Now all the information is out there challenging an individual to locate all of it and make sense of it.

The old newspaper slogan still applies: The goal is to give the public what they need to be informed citizens.


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Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575


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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.


Real estate agents and services

MARGARET SOHN
with Great Estates of Costa Rica

20 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce

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Burke Fiduciary, S.A.
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Thomas A. Burke, LL.M, Glenda Burke, LL.M
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We offer real estate law, due diligence and escrow services,residency status, business corporations, estate planning. English, Spanish, German and French spoken.
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info@burkecr.com

The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the
General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is not an authorization to operate. The supervision of SUGEF refers to compliance with the capital legitimization requirements of Law No. 8204. SUGEF does not supervise the
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Persons contracting its services do so for their own account and at their own risk.
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e-mail: info@conjuridica.com 
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• Immigration Law.
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Appraisers

BEFORE YOU BUY and OVERPAY
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ask Angela Jiménez
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Residency experts

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Accountants

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Web page with vital U.S. tax info HERE!
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Hearing consultant

English-speaking hearing consultant
We can professionally evaluate your hearing problem at Clinica Dinamarca off Paseo Colón or at Hospital CIMA.
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5950-4/15/10

Alert issued for high tides
along the Pacific coast


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Bathers and boat operators in the Pacific will be facing high seas through Friday, said the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional, which has issued an alert.

The highest seas will be today and Wednesday, the weather institute said. A caution covers small boats up to 21 feet in length, the institute said.

For bathers, the alert runs until Friday. Seas of at least three meters, about 10 feet, are expected in the Puntarenas Centro area. The last time high seas came there, parts of the community were flooded.

The first period of high tide was today at 1:45 a.m. A second high is at 2:09 p.m. today and at 2:35 a.m. and 2:57 p.m. Wednesday, said the institute.

Peak tides Thursday will be at 3:22 a.m. and 3:43 p.m., the institute said. Thursday the high tides are at 4:09 a.m.  and 4:27 p.m.  Friday the high tide is at 4:54 a.m. and at 5:12 p.m.

Communities north and south of Puntarenas Centro will have high tides at slightly different times.


Forest protection cited
as key carbon strategy


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A new study involving scientists from 13 different organizations, universities and research institutions states that forest protection offers one of the most effective, practical, and immediate strategies to combat climate change. The study, “Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas, and Slowing Climate Change,” was published in PLoS Biology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and makes specific recommendations for incorporating protected areas into overall strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses from deforestation and degradation.

“Deforestation leads to about 15 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the cars, trucks, trains, ships, and planes on earth.  If we fail to reduce it, we’ll fail to stabilize our climate,” said Taylor Ricketts, director of World Wildlife Fund’s science program and lead author of the study.  “Our paper emphasizes that creating and strengthening indigenous lands and other protected areas can offer an effective means to cut emissions while garnering numerous additional benefits for local people and wildlife.”

The authors highlight analyses showing that since 2002, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been seven to 11 times lower inside of tribal lands and other protected areas than elsewhere. Simulation models suggest that protected areas established between 2003 and 2007 could prevent an estimated area of 100,000 square miles of deforestation through 2050.  That is roughly the size of the state of Colorado, representing enough carbon to equal a third of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions.  Within these efforts, location matters, said the authors, adding that protected areas in regions that face deforestation pressures would be most effective at truly reducing emissions.

International policies for compensating forest nations for this strategy are under negotiation.  To access the resulting funds, developing countries will need to develop programs and institutions to reduce forest emissions, said the World Wildlife Fund.

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A.M. Costa Rica guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching
The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages
A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds
Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 62


Jacó developer seeks to arbitrate its dispute with bankers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The developer of a troubled Jacó condo and hotel project is suing its lenders and seeks to force them into arbitration. The developer is Desarrollos Naturales de Costa Rica S.A., which named Banco Centroamericano de Integracion Economica and Banco Improsa S.A. in a Business News press release.

The company said it wants $120 million because of banking actions that has caused the successful project to collapse.

The company was developing the Sonesta Jaco Resort and ran into trouble at the same time other builders did when banks tightened rules in the face of the worldwide economic crisis.

Sonesta
A photo of the project from company Web page.
The developer said that Improsa was the trustee for the Central American development bank. The company alleges in its legal filing that in "January 2009, as the project prepared to commence closings, start up the hotel and commence repayment of construction loans, arbitrary actions of the lenders and trustee violated the terms of the contracts, blocking sales, imposing abusive conditions and not fulfilling their commitments.

"The complaint alleges the lenders incurred in breach of contract, breach of good faith, improper control, negligence, refusal to set a release price, disregard of customer rights, and breach of fiduciary duty by the counterparties that has caused the successful project to collapse."

The press release also says that Desarrollos filed for binding arbitration as agreed in its loan documents and seeks to have a final ruling in 155 working days.

The company said that its project is 84 percent complete and 75 percent sold. It also said that it has filed a civil suit in Costa Rica to project the rights of the buyers and that a judge has issued a freeze.

Neither the developers nor the banks could be reached for additional comment Monday night.

The apparent problems facing Desarrollos is similar to problems other developers had about the same time when banks pulled their promises of financing and continuing to provide money for construction. In some cases, banks are now seeking to foreclose on the loans


Judge frees two men despite concern for life of victim
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators were in Talamanca Monday and detained two persons accused of breaking a woman's arm in order to force her to surrender her land for planting marijuana. A judge freed the pair after an oral audience although agents said they believe the lives of the woman and those of witnesses are in danger.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said it confiscated 84,000 marijuana plants and a bag of marijuana ready to market.

The marijuana was in Guayabal de Alto Telire.
Investigators said the woman received a compound fracture of the forearm when she was hit by one of the men. Agents said that they were accompanied by a judge and a prosecutor and that they held the first oral audience even in Alto Telire.

The judge freed the two men, but agents said that the woman victim and witnesses are under police protection because they consider that their lives are in danger.

The Talamanca mountains is noted for its many small marijuana plantations. Police and agents periodically conduct raids there, but the region is vast. Marijuana is the most profitable cash crop and can be transported easily.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 62



Judicial police director wants to keep his monopoly

By Manuel Avendaño Arce
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The head of the judicial police took steps Monday to protect his agency's monopoly on investigating crimes and illegal activities.

The man, Jorge Rojas, is director of the Judicial Investigating Organization. He talked to reporters to criticize two sections of the new immigration law that give the Policía de Migración authority to investigate activities in their domain.

But Rojas said that this conflicts with other laws and that immigration policemen just are not trained to do investigations.

He mentioned trafficking in persons cases, sexual crimes and murders of foreigners.

Rojas got agreement from Milagro Redondo, the chief of the Policía de Migración, who said that her officers were willing to prevent and keep a lookout for crimes, as prescribed by the Asamblea Legislativa for policemen. Rojas has been down this road before. He clashed with the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública,
which was operating a special sex crimes task force. The sex crimes unit was successful and had captured a number of fugitives. However, Rojas got support from the Poder Judicial and the nation's chief prosecutor, and the special sex crimes unit was dismantled in 2005.

Costa Rica operates on the French model. Investigators are officers of the courts and not police. They work closely with prosecutors and judges. Almost always when a big arrest or a raid is taking place, a judge will be at the scene as well as prosecutors.

Rojas said that for 35 years investigations have been the job of his agency. For this reason he is asking that the specific section of the new immigration law, Articles 15 and 18, be eliminated. He said he asked this of the Asamblea Legislativa with copies to the Ministerio de la Presidencia and the president of the Poder Judicial.

Rojas said these changes were critical in maintaining the professionalism of judicial police.

The work of investigating here is far more complex than elsewhere because of the great detail that eventually will be reviewed by trial judges. Investigating efforts are supervised by a judge of the first level.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 62

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Arrests made in killings
as Méxican violence flares


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In Mexico, soldiers have arrested a suspect in the shooting deaths of a U.S. consulate worker and her husband in the border city of Juárez March 13.  But, authorities are being kept busy as the drug violence continues in Mexico.

Authorities in the Mexican state of Chihuahua say soldiers arrested the suspect on Friday and that he is a member of the Barrio Azteca gang, a cross-border criminal organization that has worked with the Gulf drug cartel.  Although authorities did not identify the man, Mexican press reports say the suspect is 45-year-old Ricardo Valles de la Rosa.

Several gunmen took part in two separate attacks March 13 that killed two U.S. citizens, one of whom worked at the U.S. consulate in Juárez, and a Mexican man whose wife worked at the consulate.  There is no word from Mexican investigators on what role the arrested suspect might have played in the killings.

The Barrio Azteca gang was formed in U.S. prisons and later took hold in El Paso, Texas, just across the Rio Grande River boundary from Juárez, where Mexican members of the gang operate with the Gulf cartel, which is at war with the Sinaloa cartel over drug smuggling routes.

Mexican Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont blames the cartels for another massacre that took place Sunday in the central state of Durango.

He says criminals murdered 10 people ranging from 8 to 21 as they traveled in a pickup truck along a rural highway.

Gomez Mont says the Mexican government condemns the violence and will continue to employ the army around the country to fight the gangs who perpetrate such acts.

The victims of the Durango attack were on their way to collect federal financial aid for students when their vehicle was hit with bullets and grenades.

In the border town of Nuevo Laredo, just across the river from Laredo, Texas, soldiers battled with gunmen at a crowded public park on Sunday, killing three men.  On the same day, in another area town, soldiers killed three men and two women in an armed clash at a motel.

The violence in Mexico has taken a toll on the country's tourism sector.  Once commercially active border towns have far fewer visitors than they once had and many businesses have had to close.  Even in beach resorts far from the border, tourist bookings have dropped because the U.S. and Canadian governments have issued warnings to their citizens about traveling in Mexico.

In years past, thousands of college students from the north would descend on Mexican border towns and beaches for spring break.  But very few are going there this year.

Nearly 18,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón began his war against the illegal drug cartels shortly after his inauguration in December 2006.  Mexican officials have complained that the cartels gain much of their wealth from drugs smuggled across the border and sold in the United States, and that guns smuggled from the United States are used in many of the shootings in Mexico.

U.S. officials have accepted responsibility on both issues and have stepped up efforts to prevent gun smuggling into Mexico.  And President Calderón admits that Mexico now has its own drug consumption problem.

But many analysts note that the proliferation of weapons in Mexico cannot be explained entirely by guns purchased legally in the United States and then taken illegally across the border.  They note that fully automatic weapons and grenades, such as those used in Sunday's massacre in Durango, are not legally available in the United States, but are sold on the international black market or by Mexican military deserters.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 62



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First decade is warmest,
U.S. agency reports

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The first decade of the new millennium was the warmest on record, the United Nations weather monitoring agency has announced.

“The decade of the 2000s was warmer than the decade of the 1990s, which in turn was warmer than the 1980s,” said Omar Baddour, chief of the Data Management Application Divisions at the World Meteorological Organization

The new findings are part of the organization's Statement on the Status of the Global Climate, an annual survey by the agency about the weather and climate change.

The decade between 2000 and 2009 included one of the warmest years on record, last year, which was the fifth hottest year since records began.

“The current nominal ranking of 2009 places it as the fifth-warmest year since the beginning of instrumental climate records [in 1850],” Baddour said.

Last year also brought extreme weather, ranging from devastating droughts to severe floods, extreme heat waves and cold waves, in many parts of the world, according to the newly released status report.

The Southern Hemisphere was particularly warmer than the long-term average, while the Northern Hemisphere cooled at the end of 2009 with heavy snowfall in Europe, North America and northern Asia.

The information is based on climate date from a network of data collected from some 10,000 land stations, 3,000 aircraft, 1,000 upper-air stations and 1,000 ships and nearly 70 satellites.

The statement’s release coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization.


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