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These stories were published Thursday, April 8, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 70
Jo Stuart
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Happy Easter
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Remember that the next edition
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The battle between broccoli and chocolate
Now we are in the peaceful time of Semana Santa, and the quiet makes me believe I could be in Venice. The traffic has gone to the beaches. I love Easter and Christmas because everyone takes a week off and goes to the beach. Almost everyone. Some men are painting my building, and right now one of them is in my pila (open-air laundry room) just outside my kitchen, removing the flaking paint and painting the walls a bright yellow. 

I am cooking in the kitchen. I keep buying broccoli at the feria because I know it is good for me, but I have lost my taste for this member of the cabbage family. Since it is low in calories and high in vitamins, especially A (and there is more A in the leaf, so we should eat them, too) I want to eat more. Now I have invented a recipe that enables me to eat a half head of broccoli at one sitting. It is simple and fast. 

Break the flowerets into bite size, peal stems, steam or boil to your taste of doneness. Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan and lift the broccoli out of water into it (this is to remove the water); when the broccoli is dry, add a bit of butter and olive oil and a generous teaspoon or more of roasted garlic, salt and pepper. Toss and eat. 

Speaking of cabbage, this vegetable, which is very popular in Costa Rica, is native to the Mediterranean and has been cultivated for about 2,500 years. The Roman Cato said that if you plan to eat a lot at a banquet, then beforehand you should eat as much cabbage as you want with a sprinkling of vinegar. Then after dinner eat a few more leaves and you will feel like you haven’t eaten at all, AND you can drink as much as you like. Costa Ricans seem to serve grated cabbage on everything, even hot dogs!

In case you haven’t roasted garlic before, simply take three or four bulbs; slice the tops off so the buds are revealed, sprinkle with olive oil and bake in foil at 350 degrees for about an hour, the last 15 minutes out of the foil. Then I cut the bottoms and squeeze the roasted garlic into a jar, cover with olive oil. It lasts for weeks in the fridge. I can buy four bulbs of garlic for 100 colons at the feria. A small head of broccoli costs the same. That’s less than 25 U.S. cents.

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

These recipes do not answer the suggestion from Rafael, a Costa Rican living in the States, that I give some typical Costa Rican foods. 

The one he mentioned is chiverre, and I defer to the recipe that Saray Ramírez Vindas put here Wednesday. Another Easter offering is the flor de Itabo. Looking at it at the feria you would think it is simply a branch of white flowers hanging upside down in some stalls. I took some home and according to instructions from another friend, boiled the flowers briefly and then scrambled them with eggs. They tend to be a bit bitter. I liked the idea more than the experience.

After finishing my lunch of mainly broccoli under the eyes of the painter, I decided to enjoy downtown. I went to my favorite store — The Cleveland — on Sixth Avenue, near the Church Merced. It is a Ropa Americana store. You can still find blouses and shirts with pockets. 

Have you noticed the interesting phenomenon that the clothes you wear all the time tend to grow with you, (up to a point) but when you try on the same size in a store it is way too small. This was happening with everything I was trying on at the Cleveland. I came home with nothing new and so will share my last bit of cooking news. 

I have been experimenting with making chocolate candies. I make chocolate sauce for ice cream, but some people, I figure, sometimes want chocolate without having to put it on something. I have decided to stop this new enterprise. It is not that it is not good, it is simply that my ability to sample the chocolate sauce is limited once it is in the jars, but with candy I find I am eating two-thirds of every recipe, piece by piece. That is why those clothes weren’t fitting. Five cups of shredded cabbage has 24 calories, and a pound of broccoli has 32 calories. My future is clear. 

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Special church services
planned for Sunday

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Two religious organizations with a high percentage of English speakers as members will be holding special services on Easter Sunday.

The International Baptist Church will be having a special Easter service on Sunday, beginning with an Easter "Sonrise" service on the church lawn, which will begin at 7:30 a.m., followed at 8:45 a.m. by a pancake breakfast that will be cooked up by the men of the church and served in the fellowship hall. 

The Easter Celebration Service will follow at 10 a.m. Pastor Paul Dreessen says, "There is no need to bring anything for the breakfast. Just come and celebrate the Resurrection of Christ with IBC this Easter Sunday. Everyone is welcome." 

All services are in English. Although many of the members of the congregation are from the U.S.A., Canada, and Europe, there are also many for whom English is a second language, including Costa Ricans and other Latin Americans. Currently there are at least 20 nationalities represented in the congregation. 

International Baptist Church is located in Escazú, on the hillside west of Multiplaza on the north side of the Santa Ana highway. Take the Guachipelín exit, turn at first right at 25 meters onto a gravel road, then turn at first left at 100 meters. For more information call the church at 215-2117. 

Unity Costa Rica, too, has invited residents and visitors to its Easter service that is both bilingual and interdenominational. Unity celebrates the resurrection as a celebration of eternal life, said Juan Enrique Toro, minister

The service Sunday is at 10 a.m. 

The service will include an inspiring message with a beautiful ritual and an abundance of music led by Alba Molina, said an announcement. The service will be held in the Wisdom Garden at Unity headquarters in Piedades de Santa Ana, 350 meters south of the Shang Hai restaurant in Piedades. Telephone: 203-411 office and 381-5147 cellular

Lunch will be a special Caribbean meal (1,500 colons each for all you can eat plate), said the announcement.

Two quakes rattle
parts of country

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two earthquakes rocked parts of Costa Rica Wednesday.

The first, 3.5 in magnitude, took place about 7:30 a.m. and was pinpointed near Siquirres in the Province of Limón.

The second, at a magnitude of 4.9, took place at 2:23 p.m. Officials said this was located about 35 miles south of Quepos in the Pacific Ocean. No injuries or damage has been reported.

The large quake was attributed to the continued abrasion of the Coco and Caribe plates along the fault line just off shore. This quake was felt in San José.

The earlier quake was blamed on a local fault.

Israeli citizen held
in drug investigation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 54-year-old Israeli citizen is facing a drug trafficking charge after agents raided his apartment Monday near the Palí supermarket in Pavas.

Investigators said they found a suitcase in the man’s apartment that had a hidden compartment containing eight kilos (17.6 pounds) of cocaine.

The man’s name was not immediately available, however, agents claimed that he was responsible for sending drug mules to Europe and elsewhere using false-bottomed luggage. Several arrests involving such devices have been made this year at Juan Santamaría Airport.

Agents also said the man was responsible for trying to ship drugs inside surfboards.

The drugs that were confiscated were on their way to Canada, then Holland and then the final destination of Israel, agents said.

Possible traffic death

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The body of a presumed hit-and-run victim, Julio Barquero Barrantes, was found early Wednesday in La Virgin de Sarapiquí. The 68-year-old man suffered injuries consistent with being hit by a car, investigators said. If so, he would be the holiday’s fourth traffic victim. The case is under investigation.

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More letters on the services of U.S. Embassy here
Here are some more letters from readers who are commenting on the service provided by the U.S. Embassy in San José. This series started March 16.

Says some citizens
are arrogant, stupid

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Let's get a few things straight, everyone that lives in this hemisphere is an "American". I would say you are a U.S citizen, and like many of my fellow countrymen at times I'm very embarrassed to admit I'm from the U.S. 

All one has to do is stand around the waiting room in the consul section of the embassy  and listen to  the rude, arrogant, stupid fools who demand everything or listen to how they lost their passports in downtown San Jose at 3 in the morning looking for that all night McDonalds. 

The staff is there to help U.S. citizens, et al, not be their slaves or servants.   I have had many visits to the embassy and all have been very favorable from obtaining a new passport to even yes the unheard thing of a friend giving up a green card. The folks at the Social Security window have been most helpful. 

Walk into any Costa Rican government and put on a display of rudeness and arrogance and see how long it takes before you're escorted out the door. The longer I live in Costa Rica the more I realize how a smile and warm greeting will get more accomplished than all the rudeness and arrogance will ever get. 

Dick Tanker 
Says unsigned letters
from tax dodgers

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Come on, you know why those people won’t sign there names. They most likely owe U.S. income taxes, or worse. Reading some of the articles confirms my belief that the many U.S.- born people living here are losers. 

They had no life in the States and do not have one here. If you ever get the chance, please ask these people what are they doing to make the lives of the Costa rican better. Giving them a job does not count. 

Al Almeida 
Nuevo Arenal
Keep being watchdog,
this reader urges

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I don’t imagine that the main concern of American Citizens living abroad in Costa Rica is the facility with which Ticos can obtain a visa to enter the United States, as suggested in your editorial.  I am more inclined to believe that we, as a group, are predominately interested in the facility and efficiency with which we receive service from our government, as was the topic of so many letters sent to AM Costa Rica.  These services are aptly referred to as "American Citizen Services."

The following excerpt is taken from the U.S. Embassy Web site page

"The United States government has no higher responsibility than to serve and protect its citizens, including those who reside or are temporarily abroad. To this end, the American Citizen Services unit in Costa Rica provides prompt, courteous, and efficient services to United States Citizens and other clients, consistent with U.S. laws and regulations." 

I hope that you and your online newspaper will continue to provide watchdog service and make public the disappointing effort that our consulate exerts with regard to fulfilling their mission statement.

Perhaps we’ll
make a difference

Dear A.M. Costa Rica: 

GOOD FOR YOU!  Petty bureaucrats are the same everywhere.  In the US the free press and people like you help to keep the Government less petty and arrogant than in many other countries.  You are doing a fine job upholding our country's traditions and being a role model for Ticos and other Latin Americans.  Keep on truckin'!  Maybe you'll even make a difference.

Janice Boyd 
A frequent visitor to Costa Rica


EDITOR'S NOTE: So far we have not been contacted by anyone from the U.S. Embassy who might want to follow up on some of the complaints voiced in the last week by readers. 

Family provides information on the late Ed White
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A number of readers have expressed sympathy to the family of Ed White, a well-known resident of the English speaking community who died of cancer in Mexico.
His brother, Mitch White of Georgia, has provided the following information in addition to what has been published Tuesday and Wednesday:

Ed White, Born Edward Gilbert White, Born 17 March 1947, Bell Air, Maryland, U.S.A. died March  5, 2004, 

Ed White
Tijuana, Mexico.  Ed was born an artist, when he was 10 he was sent by his parents to a "special" art school. After six months at the school the teacher reported that he knew more about art and was a better artist than she was. She was not being coy; she was sincere. He got a degree in engineering design and Technical drawing and worked a few years in New York where in 1969 he helped design factory machines. It drove him nuts.

In the 1970’s he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he opened a night club called the Red Dog Saloon and from then on was known in Nashville as "Red Dog". He owned, The Red Dog saloon, The Kozmic Ball Room, The Last Chance saloon, and finally a club called Mississippi Whiskers. In 1972 he made the national papers when he lost the Kozmic Ball Room, one of the hottest clubs in Nashville in a pool game to a songwriter.

It was a pity when the IRS seized the club a week later. But as Ed said, well there you go. In the 80s he owned art galleries and Jewelry shops in Nashville, Jackson Mississippi, Oklahoma City and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 He also appeared in several movies and commercials such as:

1."Noi siamo angeli" (1997) (mini) TV series (as Edward White)  ... a/k/a "We Are Angels" (1997) (mini) 

2. "Natural Born Killers" (1994) Pinball Cowboy 

3. "Hey Vern, It's My Family Album" (1983) (V) as giant boyfriend

In the 80s he gave up saloons and became an apprentice jeweler in Nashville to a man name Friedman. He spent the rest of his life making and selling Jewelry. 

He went to Costa Rica, several years ago, was going to stay a couple of weeks and never returned.

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U.S. prepared to crack down on tax dodgers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bush administration and Congress are vowing to crack down on corporate tax fraud and avoidance by seeking regulatory and legislative changes and stepping up enforcement and prosecution efforts.

The Justice Department has intensified actions to identify, investigate and punish tax dodgers, including corporations, according to a news release from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. taxing authority.

"People who engage in, facilitate or promote tax fraud are increasingly likely to be on the receiving end not only of civil enforcement actions but also of criminal prosecution," Eileen O'Connor, assistant attorney general for the tax division said.

Tax evasion by wealthy individuals and large companies has become a recurring election-year political issue. According to the Treasury Department, in 2003 corporate tax receipts as a share of the overall economy, or gross domestic product, fell to the lowest level since 1937, with the exception of 1983.

The General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, found that more than 60 percent of U.S. firms and about 70 percent of 

foreign-owned companies operating in the United States did not pay any U.S. federal taxes between 1996 and 2000. The report released last week also said that those foreign firms that pay some U.S. taxes report a much smaller average tax liability on their U.S. earnings than do U.S. firms.

"Too many corporations are finagling ways to dodge paying Uncle Sam, despite the benefits they receive from this country," Sen. Carl Levin, Democrat from Michigan, said. Levin requested the study along with Sen. Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota.

Dorgan blamed corporate tax avoidance on "gaping loopholes" in the U.S. tax code, its administration and enforcement, and he said the loopholes enable foreign-based companies to move billions of dollars in profits earned in the United States overseas without paying taxes.

In March, Treasury Secretary John Snow said that his department is clamping down on abusive tax shelters, including those involving foreign government-owned infrastructure, used by corporations and individuals to escape their tax obligations. He said the IRS has increased audits of tax-shelter promoters and their clients and, along with other Treasury offices, has taken steps to shut down certain tax shelters through increased disclosure requirements. 

Rights abuses in Haiti deplored by Amnesty International
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A leading human rights group says it is concerned about ongoing human rights abuses in Haiti, and warned that revenge killings, looting and other attacks are pushing the country towards a massive humanitarian crisis. 

In a report released Wednesday, Amnesty International said the potential humanitarian crisis could cause people to flee to neighboring countries. 

The report follows a 16-day fact-finding mission in Haiti. Amnesty International says the delegation found the country still suffers from a lack of security and from ongoing rights abuses by rebel forces, the national police and armed militias loyal 

to ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide. 

On Tuesday, Aristide's former interior minister, Jocelerme Privert, was arrested on charges of orchestrating the killing of political opponents. He is one of the highest ranking former government officials to be detained since Aristide's departure from Haiti Feb. 29. 

Privert is wanted in connection to the killing of dozens of people in the town of Saint Marc during the bloody revolt that led to Aristide's ouster. 

Haiti's new interim government has arrested dozens of Aristide supporters, and former top officials are wanted on allegations of plundering the nation's finances and other charges. Many former Haitian officials have fled the country. 

Jo Stuart
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