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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 69                            Email us
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A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela
Produce under the protection of Jesus Christ and an angel await distribution.
Produce donation is new tradition for Semana Santa
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a new Semana Santa tradition in Costa Rica in which vendors of food products donate a symbolic amount to the Roman Catholic Church. Then the produce is distributed to homes for children.

Many of the public markets in the Central Valley have religious paintings of statues, and there are frequent services among those who rent stalls there. The Mercado Central, the Mercado Borbón and the Mercado Coca Cola were all represented at Parque Central Wednesday. The park is just west of the Catedral Metropolitana. 

Archbishop Hugo Barrantes was there to bestow his blessings on the vendors and the products they brought.

This was just one of the activities for Semana Santa. This is a big week for the faithful and priests.

There are three Masses at the cathedral today, at 8:15 a.m., at 9 a.m. and at 6 p.m. Then at 7:30 p.m. begins the first of several processions commemorating the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

The procession tonight is called  Jesús atado a la columna or “Jesus Tied to the Column.” This is based on the biblical account of Christ being whipped by soldiers before his trial the following day. The procession is through the downtown area from the cathedral to the Iglesia El Carmen.

Friday the first procession begins at 10 a.m. marking the story of Christ being forced to carry his cross to the hill where he was executed. It is called
rooster
A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela
There'll be no reprieve for this rooster.

in Spanish Jesús Nazareno cargando la cruz camino al Calvario.

Then at 5 p.m. the procession representing the funeral of Christ begins at the cathedral at 5:30 p.m. where marchers are joined by a column from the Iglesia La Soledad. There are hundreds of persons involved.

There is another procession Saturday at 4 p.m. from La Soledad on Calle 9 to the cathedral with Mass at 7 p.m.

The Easter procession is at 10 a.m. Sunday from the Iglesia La Merced at the west end of Avenida 2 to the cathedral for a Mass of Resurrection at 10:30 a.m.

Each of these processions are highly photogenic, and well attended by not only the faithful but tourists. Similar events will take place all over the country.


A.M. Costa Rica will not publish Friday

A.M. Costa Rica will not be published tomorrow, Friday. This is one of the two weekdays in the year that the publication will not appear. Today and tomorrow are legal holidays in Costa Rica, and the newspaper office is closed. But the news staff is keeping an eye on developments and will update readers in the case of major developments.


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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 69
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Costa Rica Expertise



Sportsmen's Lodge

Professional Directory
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.


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6822-5/8/12
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fake bill
Counterfeiters are making copies of this bill.

Fake 20,000-colon notes
showing up in Guanacaste

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police say that bogus 20,000-colon notes are showing up in Guanacaste.

Agents said that individuals purchased goods in Playa Hermosa and Huacas. The bill is the one that was issued in 2010 bearing the image of writer-politician Carmen Lyra.

This also is the bill that many merchants have declined to take because they are not used to them and that they are hard to pass on. They would be equivalent to a U.S. $40 note.

The Judicial Investigating Organization gave some tips on how to spot the bad bills. One test is to see if the hair of Carmen Lyra has a different texture than the rest of the bill. Also, the image of one of the rabbits contains the legend Pura Vida.

Most banks have graphics showing how the genuine bills can be distinguished from photocopied fakes. One purpose by the Banco Central in issuing the bill was to make counterfeiting harder.


Our reader's opinion
Praises of caffeine benefits
were slanted and biased


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As a long time yoga teacher and therapist, and occasional coffee enjoyer I might add, I find it rather incredible with all the research pointing to stress as a leading indicator in nearly all of the most widespread deadly diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, and the proven fact that caffeine is a major cause of stress, that you are so blatantly ignoring this fact in your glowingly slanted praises of coffee/caffeine.

I find this rather sad and surprising, in that in most cases I find your reporting to be pretty balanced.

Yet anyone afflicted with stress related diseases, or those who have gone through caffeine detox, must be scratching their heads at this shameless barrage of ridiculously slanted, biased reporting of the wonders of large scale coffee, and caffeine consumption.

Most folks these days know this, yet you seem intent on bucking the tide, with your misleading assumptions and conclusions based on portions of on-going research.

Hopefully most folks look upon your newspaper for the entertainment that it provides in such absurdities as your coffee espousement, than actual journalism.

Hari Singh Khalsa
Cóbano

 
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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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 69
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Happiness report seeks to promote sustainability over GNP
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The World Happiness Report is an ambitious effort by academics to, as they say, recast the environmental debate by changing fundamental objectives from economic growth to building and sustaining the quality of lives.

The report issued this month became well-known because it figured in a United Nations seminar on happiness Monday sponsored by the Government of Butan. That nation has, since 1972, used a gross national happiness index to assist with national policy.

The best known author of the report is Jeffrey Sachs, the director of The Earth Institute at New York's Columbia University. He also was Director of the U.N. Millennium Project from 2002 to 2006 and special adviser to U. N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. The Millennium Development Goals are the international agreement to reduce extreme poverty, disease, and hunger by the year 2015.

Other principal authors are John F. Helliwell, professor emeritus of economics, University of British Columbia,  and Richard Layard, director, Well-being Programme, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics.

The report has no new data. Instead it uses existing surveys and tries to integrate some of them to assess the happiness of the nations of the world. The report notes that happiness is subjective.

One of the most universal measures is the Gallup World Poll in which the internationally known survey company sought responses from about 1,000 persons in more than 150 countries. Respondents were asked to assess their happiness in several ways on a 10-point scale with 10 being the best possible happiness. The authors put together poll results from 2005 to 2011.

Costa Rica has received high rankings on a number of happiness reports, but some of the studies were highly ideological, such as the 2009 Happy Planet Index.

The Laura Chinchilla administration also promotes sustainability at the expense of economic growth. The central government has outlawed all but small-scale gold mining and is trying to keep a company that has a concession from drilling test wells for petroleum in the northern zone.

Ms. Chinchilla participated in the session in New York Monday.

According to the summary of the Gallup World Polls, Costa Rica ranks 12th in happiness just after the United States. The country was not included in some of the other polling data that the authors used.

The top 10 countries, led by Denmark, are all First World nations. Canada ranked fifth. Curiously, Venezuela came in 19th.

Costa Rica ranked first on a summary of Gallup Polls from 2007 to 2011 on life satisfaction followed by Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia and the United States.

But the authors are not happy with the domination of First World countries on both lists. They said:

“. . . the lifestyles of the rich imperil the survival of the poor. Human-induced climate change is already hitting the poorest regions and claiming lives and livelihoods. It is telling that in much of the rich world, affluent populations are so separated from those they are imperiling that there is little recognition,
Happiness report cover
World Happiness Report cover

Report's list of happy countries*
1. Denmark
2. Finland
3, Norway
4, Netherlands
5, Canada
6. Switzerland
7. Sweden
8. New Zealand

9. Australia
10. Ireland
11. United States
12. Costa Rica
13. Austria
14. Israel
15. Belgium
16. Luxembourg

*Based on six years of Gallup World Poll data

practical or moral, of the adverse spillovers (or “externalities”) from their own behavior.”

The report suggests that happiness measurements can be used by governments as an aid to setting policies instead of devotion to gross national product, the sum of goods and services, expressed as GNP.

But the authors promote their own opinion: “Should the world pursue GNP to the point of environmental ruin, even when incremental gains in GNP are not increasing much (or at all) the happiness of affluent societies? Should we crave higher personal incomes at the cost of community and social trust? Should our governments spend even a tiny fraction of the $500 billion or so spent on advertising each year to help individuals and families to understand better their own motivations, wants, and needs as consumers?”

In summary, the report suggests that the way to increase happiness is for people to work for a common cause:

“The assumption that individuals are only interested in their own material standards of life has made the possibilities for preserving the environment seem unrealistic to many observers. But such pessimism is misplaced. On the contrary people gain in happiness by working together for a higher purpose. There can be no higher purpose than promoting the Earth’s environmental balance, the well-being of future generations, and the survival and thriving of other species as well.”

The report will get more consideration at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development that will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20 to 22. The meeting is called  Rio+20.
The report is available HERE!


Some in U.S. want to increase the power of the military
The possibility of peace and neighborly friendship in the foreseeable future seems dim when one hears citizens of the most powerful and militarized country in the world say they want to discontinue foreign aid (which is 1 percent of the national budget) and increase the money for the military, which is currently greater than most of the other countries combined. 

They would seemingly prefer that the rest of the world fear, rather than like them.  These are the people in the United States who may be electing the next president, and he may be a man who sees the world in terms of friends or foes, friends, being those who agree with him and foes those who do not.  In short, if you are not behind our idea of what is right, you are against us. This is a fundamentalist view of the world and relationships, whether taken by a religion or by a government.

North Korea leads the world in impoverishing its citizens to maintain a military presence, but unless care is taken, the United States will be heading in the same direction.

Although other countries will join President Laura Chinchilla, this trend in the States will not make the U.S. an eager partner in what President Chinchilla is hoping will be a paradigm change from measuring a country’s success by financial wealth and consumption to one that measure success in terms of the happiness and well being of its citizens, less consumption of energy and stuff, and social and environmental sustainability.  She even wants to question the wisdom of the criminalization of drug use.

The mindset of some would-be leaders in the U.S. who consider themselves Christians (although the only politician I have heard quoting Jesus is President Obama), the others know the Old Testament well and believe that God created the world so that man could have dominion over the rest of nature.  So cross off concern for the environment.

In the U.S. people are told that although they make up only 5% of the world’s population they use 25% of the world’s petroleum.  In fact, the U. S military is the largest consumer of refined petroleum, using more gas than any other country or organization in the world.  And it has increased over the
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

years.  Three weeks of military presence in Iraq used as much gas as the entire Allied armies in four years of World War II.  It is ironic that often one reason for going to war has been to protect our source of energy, mainly oil.  So not much support for Ms. Chinchilla’s hope to lower consumption of energy.

As to President Chinchilla’s idea of social well being, she could be taking some ideas from the preamble to our Constitution, and putting them into practice: . . . “establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, . . . and “promote the general welfare.”. . . .  In between these phrases is “provide for the common defense.” War, as we all know is bad for the environment, can cause the killing and maiming of humans and other animals, and is very expensive.  But it is also profitable to those in the business of war and it leads to power of the few over the many who concede their liberty to be safe, and consider it necessary for their welfare and peace of mind.

Unfortunately, since someone came up with the brilliant idea of two endless and limitless wars:  the war on terror and the war on drugs, tranquillity has been replaced with more fear and welfare has come to mean lazy freeloaders who are taking money from more necessary endeavors like defense.

In contrast, Costa Rica has long protected itself from invasion.  This has been because of its size and refusal to aggress, through diplomacy, arbitration, a sense of humor, and its potholes.  From reports of my friends who have visited the States recently, the U.S. is with President Chinchilla when it comes to that last deterrent.

Meanwhile, I wish a peaceful and tranquil Easter week to all of our readers.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
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Some coral shows a resistence to higher water temperatures
By the University of New South Wales news staff

Coral reefs are among the ecosystems most severely threatened by global warming, but hopeful new evidence has emerged that some coral species may be able to adapt to warmer oceans.

In a study published in the journal PLoS One, an international team of researchers reports that coral populations which unexpectedly survived a massive bleaching event in 2010 in Southeast Asian waters had previously experienced severe bleaching during an event in 1998.

The team analyzed what happened at three sites during the 2010 event and found that in Indonesia, corals responded to higher sea temperatures in a typical way, with fast-growing branching species - such as staghorn corals – suffering severe die-offs. But at sites monitored in Singapore and Malaysia, the usual trend was reversed: normally susceptible colonies of fast-growing Acropora corals appeared healthy and fully pigmented, while most colonies of massive coral were severely bleached.

“Mass coral-bleaching events, caused by a breakdown in the relationship between the coral animals and their symbiotic algae, are strongly correlated with unusually high sea temperatures and have led to widespread reef degradation in recent decades,” notes lead author James Guest.  He is a joint research fellow at the University of South Wales Centre for Marine Bio-innovation and the Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

“The severity of these events varies considerably but until now we’ve seen one consistent trend: certain types of coral tend to be more resistant to bleaching than others. This has led to the prediction that hardier, slow-growing massive
coral
Acropora coral

species will replace less hardy, fast-growing branching species on reefs in the future.

“But during the 2010 event the normal hierarchy of species susceptibility was reversed in some places. Corals at our Indonesian study site in Pulau Weh, Sumatra, followed the usual pattern, with around 90 percent of colonies of fast-growing species dying. But the pattern was the opposite at study sites in Singapore and Malaysia, even though sea-temperature data showed that the magnitude of thermal stress was similar at all sites.

“This suggests that the thermal history of these sites may have played an important role in determining the bleaching severity in 2010.

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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Another cartel suspect sent
to U.S. for judicial action


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexico has extradited an alleged drug kingpin to the United States, where he is wanted for trafficking billions of dollars of cocaine.

Mexican authorities said Wednesday that they turned over Jesus Zambada to U.S. authorities, who put him on a plane to New York.

American officials allege Zambada and his powerful Sinaloa drug cartel are responsible for smuggling about 120 tons of cocaine into the United States. The drugs have an estimated street value of $10 billion. Mexican police arrested him in 2008.

The Sinaola cartel is fighting it out with other drug gangs for control of drug trafficking routes in northern Mexico, near the U.S. border.

The drug wars have killed more than 50,000 people since 2006 when President Felipe Calderón sent the Mexican army to rein in the cartels. Calderón is demanding the United States do more to curb the demand for drugs and stop assault weapons from crossing the border.


New international treaty gets
initial OK to track tobacco


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

More than 130 nations have agreed on a treaty to fight a booming trade in illicit tobacco products that cost governments up to $50 billion a year in tax revenues.

A provisional agreement reached Wednesday in Geneva requires manufacturers to be licensed and tobacco packaging to bear markings so that illicit goods can be tracked through the supply chain.

Ian Walton-George, chairman of the International Negotiating Body, which supervised the drafting of the text, says huge profits gained from tobacco smuggling is often used to finance crime, and trafficking of drugs, humans, weapons and worse.

The protocol is to be taken up at a World Health Organization meeting in November in Seoul. If the pact is adopted, it will take up to five years to establish the illicit tobacco tracking system.

Tobacco companies were excluded from the negotiations because of concerns they might try to influence the talks.


Anniversary of King murder
marked in various ways


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Wednesday marked 44 years since U.S. civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed.  

Americans honored the anniversary with a range of events.

At the recently-completed Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, the Coalition on Political Assassinations organized a vigil Wednesday morning to call for the release of classified government records on the life and death of the slain activist.

Meanwhile, the southern city of Memphis, Tennessee, where King was assassinated, marked the day by naming a street after him.

During the 1950s and 1960s, King led a campaign of non-violent demonstrations aimed at ending discrimination against African Americans. His push for equal rights won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. That same year, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial segregation in public places.   

King died in Memphis on the night of April 4, 1968, after being shot on a motel balcony. He was just 39 years old at the time and had been in the city to lead a march for workers' rights.

King is best remembered for his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, which united millions of people in the United States and around the world to work for racial justice.


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Latin America news
marijauna in the Talamanca
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Two officers move in on plants taller than they are.

Police spend week chopping
marijuana in the Talamancas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some Fuerza Pública officers may think that they became agriculturists instead. Officers have chopped down and destroyed nearly a quarter million marijuana plants in the last three months.

The latest count was 190,000 plants at Río Madre de Dios,  San Rafael de Borbón, Alta Mira de Bocuare, Alto Bley and Bajo Bley.

Officers from the Policía de Control de Drogas, the Unidad de Intervención Policial, the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea and the Fuerza Pública of the Valle de la Estrella worked from March 23 to 30 chopping the plants.

Some of the plants grow wild, but in the latest effort police officers found indications that the plants were cultivated. There were some in pots for later transport, and officers also located also a bag with 1.3 kilos of marijuana seed.


Crooks use creative means
to locate vulnerable homes


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A resident can never tell who is ringing the doorbell these days. During vacation time, crooks sometimes cruise neighborhoods to find out who is at home and who is not. If no one answers the doorbell, they put the home on a list of potential burglaries.

Vacations are a big time for thieves because empty homes are vulnerable.

Police said Wednesday that crooks actually are distributing flyers to see who removes them from the front gate and who does not. If the flyer is still there after 24 hours, the home is another potential target.

Sometimes there is a more direct approach.

Judicial police reported yet another home invasion. This one was in La Uruca shortly after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Armed and masked men jumped the security wall of a home and confronted two youngsters inside. The young victims were tied up, and the intruders sacked the home. They took four computers and a flat-screen television, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.











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