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(506) 2223-1327               Published Thursday, April 8, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 68        E-mail us
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154 years later, Rivas will be remembered Sunday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sunday, April 11, is a big day in Alajuela when citizens will mark the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Rivas, Nicaragua. This is the battle in which Juan Santamaría earned his place as the country's best known war hero.

More than 23 student bands will be performing at the event, which begins at 10 a.m., appropriately with the national anthem. Among the speakers will be Joyce Zürcher, the municipal mayor, and President Óscar Arias Sánchez. After the speeches, a parade will begin.

More than 150 police officers have been assigned, and there will be street closings. The celebration goes into the night with a dance where the Banda Nacional de Alajuela will provide the music.

An irony in Costa Rica is that the country without an army reserves its highest praise for battles and war heroes. The Battle of Rivas did not even take place inside Costa Rica, although the smaller and earlier Battle of Santa Rosa did.

Juan Rafael Mora, the president at the time, rallied Costa Ricans and led an army to confront William Walker, the U.S. adventurer who had made himself president of Nicaragua. The troops were led by Mora's brother and José María Cañas Escamilla, his brother-in-law.

Santamaría became a hero when he threw a torch on the thatch roof of a building being used as a strong point by the enemy. He died in the process. But Walker's troops were routed and fled.

Although victorious, the battle had an extraordinary cost for Costa Rica. Cholera broke out in Rivas, and the Costa Rican troops brought the disease back with them when they returned home. Estimates say that a tenth of the population died.

Mora received a lot of blame for the resulting economic situation, and he had to flee. In 1860 when he returned to seek power, he and Cañas were captured and shot.

What is not stressed in Costa Rica is that the Nicaraguan war pitted two U.S. industrial giants because Rivas was a key transportation center
Juan Santamaría
Wikimedia Foundation photo
Juan Santamaría memorial in Alajuela

before the Panamá Canal was constructed. Boats
would come from the Caribbean through the Río San Juan to Lake Nicaragua and to Rivas where they would be unloaded and the goods taken a short distance to the Pacific.

Historians say that Cornelius Vanderbilt lost his shipping operation to a rival firm backed by Walker. That was the incentive to finance much of the Costa Rican military expedition.

Walker also had opposition in the United States because he had plans to bring Nicaragua into the Union as a slave state, thereby disrupting the delicate balance that dominated U.S. national politics until the Civil War.

Juan Alfaro Ruiz was another Costa Rican soldier in the campaign. A canton in the province of Alajuela is named after him.  Lawmakers are seeking to change the name to Zarcero, the principal city in the canton. However, the Partido Acción Ciudadana is objecting strongly because the party's lawmakers do not think that the citizens have had sufficient input.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 8, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 68

Costa Rica Expertise
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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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Big New York gaming sweep
cites links to Web sites here


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Queens, New York, district attorney is continuing the crackdown on offshore gambling, and the office announced Wednesday the arrest of 38 individuals.

Costa Rica is cited as the location for what officials called computerized wire rooms through which the New York operation conducted much of its business.

The District Attorney's Office specified www.crownsports.com, www,jazzsports.com, www.5dimes.com, www.bigonsports.com and www.betcris.com.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that law enforcement crackdowns on traditional wire rooms have led to an increased use by illegal gambling rings of offshore gambling Web sites where action is available around the clock. Betters wins and losses are maintained by the Web sites, which then charge Stateside bookmakers for the service, he said.

Some of the operations identified by the district attorney are long-time sportsbooks, like jazzsports.com, which has been operated since 1999 by DPT Sports Group, which identifies itself as a management company based in San José. DPT Sports Group operates Jazz Casino & SportsBook, ABC Islands Casino & SportsBook, and Loose Lines Casino & Sportsbook. The company also owns and operates five casinos in Playa Conchal, Playa Flamingo, Jaco, Tamarindo and Escazu, it says on its Web site.

Bigonsports.com is located in Sabana Sur at BMX Entertainment S.A. So is betcris.com, which is registered to Town View Trading S.A., also located in Edificio La Colmena, according to the domain registration.

However, crownsports.com is registered to Hichina Zhicheng Technology Ltd., a Chinese manufacturer of sports equipment.

All but one of those mentioned in the multi-state sweep were in the United States. The District Attorney's Office identified one person said to be living in Costa Rica. He is Michael Flynn, formerly of Washington, Pennsylvania, who sometimes uses the name of Mickey Richardson, said the office. He is 39.

The defendants are accused of being involved in two nationwide gambling rings that booked nearly $178 million over 32 months on professional and college basketball and football, said Brown. The sportsbooks were available online and via an 800 telephone number which allowed the defendants to manage many gambling accounts.

Taking wagers from U.S. citizens is illegal, and that type of activity destroyed BetOnSports, the country's largest sportsbook when indictments were handed down in July 2006. David Carruthers, 49, and Gary Kaplan both were indicted for their roles in that firm. Carruthers, a British citizen, was arrested as he passed through the United States as an air traveler. The cases were in federal court.

Taking individual bets is one thing, but the Queens prosecutor alleges that the sportsbooks here actively worked with U.S. bookmakers and provided what amounts to accounting services.

In similar New York City area action, a series of bookmakers with Costa Rican ties also were linked to the Sicilian Mafia.


Proposed laws on taxis
pulled by executive branch


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Presidencial said Wednesday that the executive branch was withdrawing temporarily two proposed laws that cover taxis and the porteador contract drivers.

Both proposals have generated much unhappiness among both groups. The decision to pull the bills came after a meeting at Casa Presidencial.

The current legislature leaves office May 1, and Francisco Jiménez, minister of Obras Públicas y Transportes, said that the delay would give time to make changes and to hold further discussions.

He will be meeting with taxi drivers today.

Both taxi drivers and the porteadores have staged highway blockcades and slowdowns that have disrupted traffic. The porteadores carry passengers on contract, but the licensed taxi drivers see them as simply pirate drivers.

Among other things, the executive branch wants to hand out more taxi licenses and incorporate the porteadores into the formal fleet.


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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.

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 8, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 68


Here's 57 ways to save thc country a lot of money
By the A.M. Costa Rica humor staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez wants Uruguay to eliminate its military, a request that was not accepted very well there. But Arias has missed the boat when he said that dumping the military could generate lots more money for development.

He should have gone further. Costa Rica could save tons of money by eliminating the legislature. There already are too many laws, most of which are ignored anyway. The 57 members of the legislature suck up lots of money, get free cars and gas, make foreign trips and approve laws that have unintended consequences.

Consider the record of the legislature that will be completing its four-year term May 1:

• They passed the new traffic law and then decided to make significant changes because the fines were too high, the alcohol threshold for drunk drivers was too low and a point system could cost a motorist his or her license. They are still at it. Meanwhile, traffic officers are happily ticketing nearly everything that moves.

• They passed a tax on luxury homes that no one understands. They mandated a valuation approach that is perfect for evaluating cathedrals but not houses. And then they stipulated excessive penalties that few, except expats, will pay.

• They passed an immigration bill that really has not gone into effect and may contain textual flaws that will require further changes.

* The free trade treaty with the United States took four years to move through the legislature, and the final bill still is pending.

With lawmakers abolished, Castillo Azul and the rest of the sprawling legislative complex could be turned over to low-income houses, a favorite of President Arias.

Not only that, the need to construct a new high-rise office building for legislators would evaporate. And all the political wannabes who serve on the various legislative staffs (and draw up faulty bills) would go away, too.
legislator


The legislature also is a strong source of hot air that may lead to climate change. Anyone who watches the daily blah, blah, blah on television knows that making lawmakers attend the afternoon sessions is cruel and inhumane punishment. Fortunately, some duck these sessions.

If the situation demanded a new law, the sitting president has the power to make decrees, and many of the regulations that affect expats in their daily lives come from decrees and not legislative laws.

Being forbidden to drive a car through the downtown one day a week is a regulation established by decree.

The presidential brothers, Óscar and Rodrigo Arias, have been calling for change in streamlining the country's administration. This idea may be it!



Former Escazú scam artist gets 86 months in federal prison
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A former Escazú scamster who fleeced gullible U.S. citizens with bogus business opportunities got an 86-month federal prison sentence Wednesday.

He is Stephen Schultz, who was extradited from Costa Rica last Dec. 3 and pleaded guilty Jan. 21 to 12 counts, including one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, eight counts of mail fraud, and three counts of wire fraud.

Wednesday U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck in Miami sentenced Schultz. The scamster could have 10 years on the conspiracy count and 25 years each on the mail and wire fraud counts, said the U.S. Department of Justice. He also has five years of supervised release and must make restitution, said the Justice Department.

The Justice Department said that up to 250 U.S. citizens, many of them old and retirees, lost from $2.5  to $7 million in the business opportunity scams that started in 2005. The U.S. Justice Department gave this account:

Schultz was arrested Dec. 12, 2008, in Costa Rica following his indictment by a federal grand jury in Miami on Nov. 20, 2008. According to the charges, Schultz and a co-conspirator, Jeffrey Pearson, purported to sell beverage and greeting card business opportunities, including assistance in establishing, maintaining, and operating such businesses. Following his arrest in Costa Rica, Schultz was extradited to the United States. Dilraj Mathauda, an associate also from Escazú, entered a guilty plea Jan. 13 in the same court to one count of an indictment pending against him, charging conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  Mathauda is a British citizen.

Schultz worked for USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc. and Cards-R-Us Inc. Beginning in
2005, USA Beverages sold business opportunities to own and operate coffee beverage display racks. USA Beverages rented office space in Las Cruces, N.M., and otherwise made it appear to potential purchasers that USA Beverages’ operations were fully within the United States, the government said. However, USA Beverages actually operated from Costa Rica and used voice-over-Internet protocol to make their telephone calls appear to come from the United States.

After USA Beverages, Schultz worked for Twin Peaks, which was a Florida and Colorado corporation. Twin Peaks sold business opportunities to own and operate coffee beverage sale display racks. Twin Peaks had a mail service in Fort Collins, Colorado, to make it appear to potential purchasers that its operations were fully within the United States. In truth, Twin Peaks also operated from Costa Rica.

Schultz next worked for Cards-R-Us, which was a Nevada corporation that sold business opportunities to own and operate greeting card sale display racks. Cards-R-Us rented office space in Reno, Nevada, to make it appear to potential purchasers that Cards-R-Us’ operations were fully within the United States. Like USA Beverages and Twin Peaks, Cards-R-Us actually operated out of Costa Rica and were all part of the same overall operation.

Schultz and his co-conspirators made, and caused others to make, numerous false statements to fraudulently induce the purchase of business opportunities, said the government. Potential purchasers were falsely told that the companies were established years earlier, had a significant number of distributors across the country, and had a track record of success, the indictment said. Potential purchasers were referred to references who told false tales of their success as business opportunity owners, it added. Through these and other misrepresentations, purchasers of the business opportunities were led to believe that they would likely earn substantial profits, said the government.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 8, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 68

Escazú Christian Fellowship
xx
Guoadalupe Missionary Baptist Church

This is the photo of the Fuerza Pública cell in Sixaola. Prisoners are not supposed to spend more than 24 hours in such cells.
Sixaola
Defensoría de los Habitantes photos


Jail cells do not get very high marks from Defensoría

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Going to jail is not a great experience, and going to a deteriorating cell is even worse. There are plenty such cells in Costa Rica, although the Defensoría de los Habitantes and the security ministry clashed Wednesday over the actual conditions.

The Defensoría had the first shot and issued a press release saying that some Fuerza Pública cells in the country were in deplorable condition. The statement contained photos of some cells, like the one in Sixaola and one in Puntarenas Centro. The agency had done an extensive inspection.

The Defensoría had a number of recommendations. At least the cells should have a concrete bed so someone who has been arrested can sit or lie down, the statement said.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública came out with a statement of its own in which it listed many of the cells in the country. It also said that the Óscar Arias administration was investing large sums of money in refurbishing police stations. In 10 months the government has invested 1.5 billion colons (nearly $3 million).
Puntarenas cell
The lockup in Puntarenas Centro


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 8, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 68

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Geologist's study links
earth orbit and climate


By the University of California news service

In an analysis of the past 1.2 million years, geologist Lorraine Lisiecki discovered a pattern that connects the regular changes of the earth's orbital cycle to changes in the earth's climate. The finding is reported in this week's issue of the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

Ms. Lisiecki performed her analysis of climate by examining ocean sediment cores. These cores come from 57 locations around the world. By analyzing sediments, scientists are able to chart the earth's climate for millions of years in the past. Ms. Lisiecki's contribution is the linking of the climate record to the history of the earth's orbit.

It is known that the earth's orbit around the sun changes shape every 100,000 years. The orbit becomes either more round or more elliptical at these intervals. The shape of the orbit is known as its eccentricity. A related aspect is the 41,000-year cycle in the tilt of the earth's axis.

Glaciation of the earth also occurs every 100,000 years. Ms. Lisiecki found that the timing of changes in climate and eccentricity coincided. "The clear correlation between the timing of the change in orbit and the change in the earth's climate is strong evidence of a link between the two," said Ms. Lisiecki. "It is unlikely that these events would not be related to one another."

Besides finding a link between change in the shape of the orbit and the onset of glaciation, Ms. Lisiecki found a surprising correlation. She discovered that the largest glacial cycles occurred during the weakest changes in the eccentricity of earth's orbit –– and vice versa. She found that the stronger changes in the earth's orbit correlated to weaker changes in climate. "This may mean that the earth's climate has internal instability in addition to sensitivity to changes in the orbit," said Ms. Lisiecki. She is on the faculty at the  University of California in Santa Barbara.

She concludes that the pattern of climate change over the past million years likely involves complicated interactions between different parts of the climate system, as well as three different orbital systems. The first two orbital systems are the orbit's eccentricity, and tilt. The third is precession or a change in the orientation of the rotation axis.


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Guanacaste park blaze
prompts emergency alert


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission has declared a cautionary alert because fires continue to burn at Parque Nacional Palo Verde in Guanacaste.

Park officials said they believe the blazes were started by illegal hunters. The fire has spawned other hotspots, and the areas are hard to reach by firefighters.

Some of the park is forest, but much is lowlands of fields and some mangroves.

Santa Ana school plans
annual dance show tonight


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United World College in Santa Ana will be performing it's anniversary Mosaic of Dance show tonight at 7:30 o'clock.  Students at United World College,  ages 16 to 20, represent 67 different countries. 

The costumes and choreography are an added treat. Tickets are available at La Cocina de Robin or at the school.    Reserved seats are 12,000 colons and regular seats at 6,000 colons. The show will be in the Amphitheater of the United World College, which is 400 meters north of the Catholic church

The Santa Ana school has many activities relating to world peace, environmentalism and cultural diversity throughout the year.   More information about the show is HERE 

Brazil continues to endure
flooding, landslides and rain

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Authorities in Brazil say at least 102 people have died in landslides and floods, set off by the heaviest rains in decades in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Heavy rains began Monday and have continued into Wednesday. Officials say a record-breaking 28.8 centimeters (more than 11 inches) of rain fell in the city of Rio de Janeiro in a 24-hour period.

Officials say mudslides swept away many buildings in the city's hillside slums.

Schools were closed for a second straight day Wednesday.  Rio state Gov. Sergio Cabral has called for three days of mourning for the victims.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters the situation improved Wednesday, but he continued to urge people to stay home and off the streets.  The forecast calls for the rains to continue until Friday.

Flights into and out of Rio were canceled or delayed and many streets are under water, stranding some motorists and leaving cars submerged.

Officials say potential mudslides threaten at least 10,000 homes.




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