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(506) 2223-1327              Published Wednesday, April 7, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 67        E-mail us
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Cable TV cutoff leaves hotel owner in the lurch
By Manuel Avendaño Arce
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The problems still continue because Amnet, the cable television and Internet provider, inexplicably abandoned its franchise in the middle of San José last year.

There are patches of the downtown where cable service simply is not available.

"I haven't had cable for four months, and I am the owner of a hotel in the center of San José," said Alfred Richardson. "I have lost a lot of money."

Richardson's Casa Alfi is on the Calle 3 pedestrian mall opposite the Colegio Superior de las Señoritas. The site is a scant 200 meters from Avenida 2 and the Teatro Nacional.

Richardson has not had cable service in his hotel since December. Amnet pulled some of its lines nearly a year ago and continues to decline to provide service downtown. Most but not all of its customers in the downtown area have been cut off. The company declined to put its cable lines underground as part of the municipality's plan to remove utility poles.

Cable Tica started to pick up some of Amnet's former customers, but Richardson has been unable to have that firm service his hotel.

When the municipality contracted to have the electrical utility lines placed underground, provisions were made for telephone and cable lines. There are separate conduits in many places. The poles are the property of the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, the power company. The municipality and the power company are removing poles in some areas.

Hilda Moreno, sales manager for Cable Tica, said that there simply are no provisions to service certain small sectors of the downtown.

She said that these sectors are not many but did not give an exact number. She said most are 100 or 200 meters square and that the company is focusing on resolving these problems. But she would not talk in detail or about when the service might be available. Most of these areas lack the extra conduit for cable or telephone.

Among those firms that had their Amnet cable television service cut was the downtown
broken television


headquarters of Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the Internet provider. The state company known
as RACSA also had an agreement with Amnet, formally Dodona S.R.L., to use the cable system to provide Internet service. Now Amnet has developed its own Internet service although some customers still are routed to RACSA.

Richardson said that at first Cable Tica workers promised service but now they won't talk to him. A television antenna only brings in the local Spanish-language channels, and Richardson said his predominately North American clientele wants channels in English and the international news and sports stations.

Government officials are not anxious to intervene in this situation. They see it as a commercial competitive dispute.

Richardson said that the alternative of getting SkyTV for his guests is simply too expensive for a small hotel. He said the company wants $400 to install the system and $200 a month. Sky says on its Web page that residential packages range from $32 to $55 a month, but there are many other options. The company installs a small dish on the roof and signals are beamed down from a satellite. Sky TV is a trade name of a Mexican limited liability company.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 67

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

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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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Hearing consultant

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Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía  
y Seguridad Pública photo  
This is homemade weapons confiscated by police

Robbers use homemade gun
to stick up bus stop victim

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two young men, including a 15 year old, are the chief suspects in the daylight robbery of a woman at a bus stop in Brazil de Mora. One of the robbers carried a homemade pistol that was used to threaten the woman, said police.

The two suspects came into police hands after a sweep of the area when the woman reported what happened. The pair are believed to be residents of Piedades de Santa Ana.

The robbers took the woman's cell telephone and beauty items that she was going to sell, police said. This was the latest in a string of crimes in which some of the suspects are in their mid-teens.


ICE chief, wife, employee
are ordered to stand trial


 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The head of the state telecom company will go to trial over his use of a helicopter last September.

The Juzgado Penal de Hacienda in the Segundo Circuito Judicial de San José ordered the case to be elevated to a full trial. That happened at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing, according to the Poder Judicial.

The man involved is Pedro Pablo Quirós, executive president of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, known as ICE. The case is being presented by the Fiscalía Adjunta de Delitos Económicos, Corrupción y Tributarios. Prosecutors claim that Quirós converted public money to his own use when he took advantage of a helicopter ride and went to two private functions.

His wife also faces charges as does an employee of the telecom giant who has the last names of Barboza Zúñiga.

The telecom company rented the helicopter so Quirós could see the damage done by the Jan. 8, 2009, earthquake at the Cariblanco hydro generating site. Then he flew with his wife to an annual meeting of an electrical cooperative in San Carlos. Both are legitimate uses of the rented helicopter. That was March 21, 2009.

The allegations of crime stem from the use of the helicopter the same day to attend a wedding in Zarcero and to visit another company executive in Puriscal.


Country signs trade treaty
with Asian giant Singapore


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica and Singapore have signed a free trade treaty which officials here hope will give the country access to more Asian markets.

The treaty calls for Costa Rica products to enter Singapore free of customs duties and for nearly all of the products from Singapore to enter Costa Rica without duties. The remaining tariffs will be phased out in 10 years.

Costa Rican commercial officials hope that the treaty gives a boost to the country's farmers because the bulk of the anticipated exports will be agricultural.

The agreement needs approval from the Asamblea Legislativa.

The treaty is unlikely to provoke the long-running negative response that the free trade treaty with the United States did.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 67

Wet weather confuses the nation's harbinger of green season
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A wet March has sowed doubt in the Central Valley’s yigüirro population as to the start of the nesting season. As the national bird, the clay-colored thrush is known for “calling the rain” at the end of the dry season.

The last two weeks have had scattered yigüirros singing, somewhat half-heartedly, in any residential area around San José. In 2009, for example, a dry March and April were

thrush
Andrew Kratter/Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
The clay-colored thrush, Turdus grayi
 followed by frantic singing upon the first thundershowers
at the end of April. These thrushes are not particularly territorial except for the immediate vicinity of the nest, but males need to attract a mate to get the breeding season underway. Once that is taken care of, singing is much reduced and the birds become less conspicuous. With an early start, the possibility of a second brood before the end of the season is much greater.

The song is a “long-continued caroling of varied phrases, mostly rich and melodious, containing slurred whistles, warbles, short trills, and now then dry or piercing notes” as described by Alexander Skutch in "Birds of Costa Rica." It can be heard HERE! The final sample (#15) is a good example of Costa Rican birds.

The birds don’t so much “call the rain” as react to the onset of the rainy season so as to have chicks in the nest when the first flush of insects arrives. Adults eat mostly fruit and terrestrial invertebrates, but the young need a high-protein diet to grow. The nest is a substantial cup of twigs and mud hidden in dense vegetation, usually at no great height.

The nest is a cup made of strips of vegetation bound with mud. A clutch is two or three eggs with incubation about 13 days.  Young leave the nest after 13 more days, weighing about 50 grams (less than two ounces), with some spots on the wings and breast but otherwise looking like their parents. Normal adult weights are 65-75 grams (2.3 to 2.6 ounces)

The yigüirro is quite common in open areas throughout the country, having been much favored by human habitat alteration. Its scientific name is Turdus grayi, and it is closely related to Turdus migratorius, the well-known American robin of the U.S. and Canada.


Late afternoon shower brought relief to sweltering city
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A late afternoon shower dumped more than a half inch of water on the capital Monday and brought down the temperature and the humidity.

The same possibilities exist for today.

Between 4 and 6 p.m. 17.1 mm (.67 of an inch) fell in San Jose. Humidity had been about 85 percent. Earlier those downtown could see a storm sweep over the Desamparados hills. The rains vanished in time for the evening rush hour as downtown workers left for home.

Much of the rest of the country did not receive such relief.  Turrialba Centro reported a high of 32 degrees (89.6 F) with 88 percent humidity. Tobias Bolaños airport in Pavas reported a 30.8-degree (87.5 F) high. At Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela the mercury broke 90 F. (32.4 C).

Evening temperatures showed mercy on a sweating population. At La Lucha in Desamparados at 1,963 meters  (6,440 feet) above sea level the temperature at late evening was 14.6 C  (58.3 F) and at the summit of the Turrialba volcano the temperature was 6.9 (44.4 F) but with 89 percent humidity. The volcano station is at 3,343 meters (10,968 feet) above sea level.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that today would be typical of the period of seasonal change from the dry to rainy season with high humidity and the increase of clouds in the afternoon with perhaps more
humidity


showers in the Central Valley and the mountains.

For today 35 degrees (95 F) is predicted for Gofito, Puntarenas Centro, Nicoya and Quepos with a steamy 37 degrees (98.6 F) predicted in Liberia.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 67

Colored squares represent studies of turtle deaths that were compiled into the present study. The Eastern Pacific west of Costa Rica emerged as a trouble spot.
turtle study
Nicholas School of the Environment graphic


Accidental turtle deaths put at 1 million over 20 years

By the Duke University News Service

The number of sea turtles inadvertently snared by commercial fishing gear over the past 20 years may reach into the millions, according to the first peer-reviewed study to compile sea turtle bycatch data from gillnet, trawl and longline fisheries worldwide.

The study, which was published online Tuesday in the journal Conservation Letters, analyzed data compiled from peer-reviewed papers, government reports, technical reports, and symposia proceedings published between 1990 and 2008. All data were based on direct onboard observations or interviews with fishermen. The study did not include data from recreational fishing.

Six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles are currently listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

“Direct onboard observations and interviews with fishermen indicate that about 85,000 turtles were caught between 1990 and 2008. But because these reports cover less than 1 percent of all fleets, with little or no information from small-scale fisheries around the world, we conservatively estimate that the true total is at least two orders of magnitude higher,” said Bryan Wallace, lead author of the new paper.

Wallace is the science advisor for the Sea Turtle Flagship Program at Conservation International and an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Most of his co-authors are researchers at Duke’s Center for Marine Conservation. The university is in Durham, North Carolina.

Their global data review revealed that the highest reported bycatch rates for longline fisheries occurred off Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, the highest rates for gillnet fishing took place in the North Adriatic region of the Mediterranean and the highest rates for trawls occurred off the coast of Uruguay.

When bycatch rates and amounts of observed fishing activity for all three gear types were combined and ranked 
across regions, four regions emerged as the overall most urgent conservation priorities: the East Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Southwest Atlantic, and the Northwest Atlantic.

“Although our numbers are estimates, they highlight clearly the importance of guidelines for fishing equipment and practices to help reduce these losses,” Wallace said.

Effective measures to reduce turtle bycatch include the use of circle hooks and fish bait in longline fisheries, and turtle excluder devices in trawling. Many of the most effective types of gear modifications, Wallace noted, have been developed by fishermen themselves.

Wallace said the Hawaiian longline fishery and the Australian prawn fishery have significantly reduced bycatch through close working relationships between fishermen and government managers, use of onboard observers, mandatory gear modifications and innovative technologies. TurtleWatch, a real-time database that provides daily updates on water temperatures and other conditions indicating where turtles might be found, has guided fishermen to avoid setting their gear in those areas.

Other approaches, such as the creation of marine protected areas and use of catch shares, also reduce bycatch, preserve marine biodiversity and promote healthy fish stocks in some cases, he said.

“Fisheries bycatch is the most acute threat to worldwide sea turtle populations today. Many animals die or are injured as a result of these interactions,” Wallace said. “But our message is that it’s not a lost cause. Managers and fishers have tools they can use to reduce bycatch, preserve marine biodiversity and promote healthy fish stocks, so that everyone wins, including turtles.”

The study stems from work Wallace began in 2005 as a postdoctoral research associate at the Duke University Marine Lab, where he helped develop the first global bycatch database for longline fisheries. That work was part of a three-year initiative called Project GloBAL (Global By-catch Assessment of Long-lived Species).


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 67

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Horse parade is Sunday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San José will be going to the horses again Sunday when the Desfile Internacional de Caballos takes place. The horse parade is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and move from Parque La Sabana along Paseo Colón to the La Merced church where a blessing of the animals will take place.

Some 300 riders are expected to take part, and champions of all the major breeds are expected to be on display.

Municipal officials have said that alcohol will be prohibited at this event. The annual Tope horse parade every Dec. 27 consumes a lot of beer, and San José officials do not want a repetition for the event Sunday either from participants or spectators.


Tourists get traffic law break


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new traffic law does not include a mechanism to get fines from tourists, and rental car agencies will be stuck with the bills, according to the Cámara Nacional de Turismo.

There is no system in place so that tourists who run up big traffic fines are prevented from leaving the country until they pay, the chamber said. An exception is someone who is caught driving with a blood alcohol content of .75 grams per liter or greater. These individuals face a criminal process and usually are jailed. Later a judge can demand that a bail be posted as in any other criminal offense.

The tourism chamber is calling on the legislature to do something to protect rental agencies and to make sure foreigners pay their fines before they leave the country.


Rolando Araya to speak

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Speaker's Forum will be hosting Rolando Araya at its 5 p.m. meeting next Tuesday in Bello Horizonte de Escazú.

Araya, a former presidential candidate, says he wants to create a new civilization based on a new conscience, a new state of the mind.

The meeting will be in the condo of forum organizer Sam Butler, and seating is limited to 25 persons.  More information and directions are available at 2289-6333 or 8821-4708.


Justice bus goes into service

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Poder Judicial has put into service an air conditioned bus that will serve as a prosecutors' office on wheels to reinforce the criminal justice system at critical locations.

The vehicle is designed to be used when there is an emergency, either natural or criminal, somewhere in the country. Officials said that the bus contains the facilities to conduct investigations on drugs, money laundering and similar activities.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 67


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British elections scheduled
for May 6 with debate


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has asked Queen Elizabeth to dissolve Parliament so a general election can be held May 6.  The election looks to be a close fight.

Brown made the long expected announcement standing on the steps of his residence at No. 10 Downing Street, surrounded by his cabinet ministers.

"It will come as no surprise to all of you, and it is probably the least kept secret of recent years that the Queen has kindly agreed to the dissolution of Parliament and a general election will take place on May 6," he said.

Brown said he had one simple message. "Britain is on the road to recovery and nothing we do should put that recovery at risk," said the prime minister.

The Labor Party has been in power for 13 years.  Brown is emphasizing his financial experience, he was the British cabinet minister in charge of finance under former prime minister Tony Blair before he took over from Blair in June 2007.  This election will be Brown's first as prime minister.

"I am asking you the British people for a clear and straightforward mandate to continue the urgent and hard work of securing the recovery, building our industries for the future and creating a million skilled jobs over the next five years," he said.

Brown's main rival, David Cameron, leads the Conservative Party.  He told supporters the voters' concerns are clear. "Let me tell you what I think this election is all about.  It is about the future of our economy. It is about the future of our society.  It is about the future of our country.  It is the most important general election for a generation, and it comes down to this, you do not have to put up with another five years of Gordon Brown," said Cameron. 

Nick Clegg, who heads the third-place Liberal Democrat Party says this will not just be a two-way fight.

He called it a choice between old politics and a new way. "I think this is a huge, huge election," said Clegg.  "I think this is the beginning of the end for Brown.  I think he is directly and personally responsible, for so many of the things that have gone on in the last 13 years."

Personalities are expected to be a big feature in this election.  For the first time in British history, the three main candidates will debate each other live on television.


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