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(506) 223-1327             Published Tuesday, April 10, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 70            E-mail us    
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RACSA's new spam e-mail filter not exactly precise
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the Internet provider, instituted a new spam filter shortly before Semana Santa.

The company known as RACSA said it invested $745,000 to protect its customers from unwanted e-mails and Internet viruses.

The company claims the new system will filter up to 95 percent of the unwanted e-mail messages known as spam.

E-mails that the new filter system determines to be spam are put in a special folder that clients can access via the RACSA Webmail page.

It customers don't like it, there is not much they can do. The filter system is obligatory, RACSA said.

Although RACSA said the new system is sophisticated and uses a 100-point scale to determine if a message is spam, the filter seems to trash anything that is mailed to multiple recipients.

Monday night the anti-spam trap snagged a series of messages from Casa Presidencial written by Pablo Gueren, a press aide there, about the legislative vote on violence toward women. The messages were sent to an A.M. Costa Rica e-mail address at RACSA.

Also trashed over the last several days were a message from Asociación Preservacionista de Flora y Fauna Silvestre about the protection of whales, one from the Council On Hemispheric Affairs about murders in Guatemala and one from the online periodical Democracia Digital. Also identified as spam were a series of messages from the Interamerican Press Association.

In a Kafkaesque twist, the spam filer also
e-mail trap

identified as spam and diverted a message from Mario Zaragoza, the RACSA public relations chief, who sent a bulk e-mail to reporters and editors March 28 explaining about the new filter system.

Of 161 messages filtered at this e-mail address, some 10 were legitimate e-mails. This does not mean the messages were lost, but e-mail users will have to scan their spam folders from now on to make sure they are not losing valid messages.

Once they identify one, like the e-mail message from Casa Presidencial, future spam filter actions can be avoided by putting the name and return e-mail address in the user's contact list, said RACSA.

RACSA, on its Web page, said that the new system, made by Barracuda Networks  of Mountain View, California, also can identify e-mail messages optically, suggesting that the filter can divert visual spam. The firm that sold the system to RACSA is AEC Electrónica S.A., Zaragoza said.

According to the Barracuda Networks's Web site, the filter system also has the capacity restrict Skype Internet telephone usage.

ICE says its cell phone Internet system is ready for regular service
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Once again cell users will be able to get the Internet on their phones. But now they will have to pay for it.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the phone company, said it started commercial service Monday. The company angered users who participated in its pilot program when it summarily cut them off before Semana Santa with no notice.

The company known as ICE said it can accommodate 82,000 persons with cell telephone Internet access. The service allows a user to view a
 Web page, read e-mail messages and receive RSS feeds.

The service will not be speedy. A company spokesperson said that information will be received at from 16 to 42 kbps. A cable hookup with a computer delivers download speeds around 400 kbps.

Adrian Víquez of the ICE press office said that the service is only available for the GSM technology telephones with Web capabilities. The monthly fee is 3,500 colons or about $6.75 additional. Although it is possible to sign up for the service with a telephone call to 115, Ms.  Víquez suggested that those interested should visit an ICE office.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 10, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 70

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Queen's Birthday Party set
for April 21 in Los Laureles

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Queen's Birthday Party, the charity bash put on by the British community, will be April 21 this year from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The theme this year is "The Jungle Book," based the Rudyard Kipling work and subsequent movies.

Those who come are being encouraged to wear costumes reflecting the theme. A best of show prize will be awarded for the best costume, and children are being encouraged to enter, too.

The event, as usual, will be at the British embassy residence in Los Laureles, Escazú.

Said an announcement: "All are welcome to enjoy a fun-filled family day out with games, stage performances, live music, imported English beers and that quintessential summer drink, Pimms No. 1 to help digest the ‘bangers and mash,’ curries, afternoon teas and strawberries and cream plus other ‘true-Brit’ delicacies for sale."

Games are set up for children, and adults can participate in the silent auction, raffles and visit the displays of products that are a traditional feature of the day. Raffle prizes include air tickets to England or a weekend at a Guanacaste luxury hotel, organizers said.

Other attractions, according to organizers, include the British products stall with goodies specially brought in for those craving mint sauce and baked beans, home-made jams and chutneys, zebras (disguised as ponies) to ride, coconut shy, lucky dip and tombola, Scottish dancing and bagpipes, a sideshows and plenty of  surprises.

Tickets at the gate are 2,000 colons for an adult and 1.000 for a child. Those under 5 are free. Organizers promise ample, guarded parking nearby.

Money raised by the event goes to the  Schools In Need program supervised by the British Embassy QBP Charity Committee. This is the sixth year for the event.

School students protest
at San Sebastián site

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The first day back from vacation did not go as planned at the Colegio Ricardo Fernández Guardia in San Sebastián.

Student there want the director dumped by the Ministerio de Educación Pública, and they demonstrated for several hours Monday. There was a brief confrontation with police.

The school joins the list of other colegios that have protested against the adult leadership. In Desamparados a month ago, student there damaged the director's car during their protest.

Students said they have been nursing grievances with the director, Zayda Murillo, for two months. Some teachers seemed to support the students. The ministry will be investigating.

Bus driver becomes star
after just five cans of beer

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bus driver who is believed to have been drunk was the star on two evening news shows on Costa Rican television Monday.

Television camera crews showed up in response to a traffic police alert to stop a Autotransportes Zapote bus Monday morning. Passengers told police that the driver pounded down five cans of beer in less than a hour.

Police stopped the bus, and the driver, identified by the last name of Cubero,  became argumentative. He tried to attack a television cameraman but fell down instead. Then he shouted vulgarities and wrestled with police. The cameras kept running and the stations aired the footage.

This is the fourth or fifth time in two months that passengers have turned in a driver for drinking on the job. But none were so photogenic as the man Monday.

Regular gasoline going up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Regular gasoline is going up 16 colons per liter. The  Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos said the price would go from 493 colons to 509 after the decision was published in the La Gaceta official newspaper Friday. Super and aviation gasoline went up a week ago.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 10, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 70

Law designed to protect women receives its first approval
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislativa Monday approved on first reading a law to punish violence against women.

The controversial measure passed 43-7.

Casa Presidencial quickly lauded the action. Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, the minister of the Presidencia, said the vote was a key and concrete step in the fight to prevent, punish and eradicate a malady that sadly has jolted each time more the Costa Rican society, ending the live of dozens of women in the last few years. Rodrigo Arias pointed out earlier that 30 women died as a result of domestic violence in 2006.

The bill was one that had been placed on the agenda of the executive branch and recently moved into first place for discussion at the assembly. During the week before Semana Santa five women lost their lives in domestic violence situations., This provided the stimulus for legislative action.
In addition to physical violence, the measure seeks to punish sexual and psychological violence against adult women. Some fear the concepts are not defined clearly.

The measure was one that received backing from all parties in the legislature except the Movimiento Libertario whose members found technical flaws in the proposal.

The bill must receive a second favorable vote before it can be sent to President Óscar Arias Sánchez. That action must come on a non-consecutive day under legislative rules. A vote is likely Thursday.

The measure has been criticized because it creates special rules for crimes against women. The assumption is that women always are at a disadvantage in a domestic violence situation.

After some of the murders of women, the man who did the killing took his own life. thereby avoiding any penalties.

Two policemen held after another cache of guns is found
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two policemen have been arrested, and law enforcement agents have confiscated 52 guns and more than 28,000 rounds of ammunition. The policemen are active members of the Fuerza Pública. They were detained Wednesday night while still in uniform.

The guns were found in Santa Eulalia de Atenas. Fernando Berrocal, security minister, credited a call from suspicious neighbors for information leading to the arrests.

Also detailed was a Colombian and a Costa Rican, officials said. The policemen were identified by the last names of  Acosta and Rojas.  Acosta has five years working with the Fuerza Pública, and Rojas has worked for 16 years, officials said.
When law officers raided the house where they found the guns they reported that the weapons were greased up for protection from the elements.

They said they suspected that the weapons would either be buried or shipped out, perhaps used in exchange.

Among the weapons were two submachineguns.

Berrocal said that an internal investigation at the Ministerio de Gobierno, Policía y Seguridad Pública was under way. He did not discount the possibility that others might be arrested.

The individuals involved have been jailed for six months preventative detention while the investigation continues, officials said.

Long-time Villalobos associate says the brothers ran separate businesses
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Javier Calderón Granados, a friend and business associate of Oswaldo Villalobos, was the only witness Monday at the Villalobos trial.

Calderón, who was testifying for the defense, said that he had known the defendant for 15 years.

The key point of his testimony was that once Oswaldo and his brother Luis Enrique Villalobos were in the money
exchange business together but that the pair ended their joint venture when the operation moved to Mall San Pedro.
The prosecution is trying to link Oswaldo to the business operated by his brother to prove allegations of fraud, money laundering and illegal banking.

Oswaldo Villalobos ran the Ofinter S.A. money exchange house, which had several branchs in addition to the Mall San Pedro location. Luis Enrique Villalobos offered investors up to 3 percent a month in an adjacent office. The allegations relate to that business.

Calderón said that Oswaldo Villalobos used to borrow money from him for buisness purposes. And sometimes he borrowed money from Oswaldo Villalobos, he said. 

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 10, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 70

Rich Venezuelans seek security outside their native land
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The number of Venezuelans settling in the United States is growing. Experts say the reelection in December of leftist President Hugo Chávez has triggered a wave of migration from the oil-rich South American country. Many of those leaving are wealthy and fear the government's socialist policies.

Up the highway from Miami, Florida, is the upscale Fort Lauderdale suburb of Weston. It is known locally as "Little Caracas." Venezuelans gather at the Don Pan bakery. one of a chain of Venezuelan-owned cafes.

Among those who come here for a taste of home is Oscar Franco, a Venezuelan lawyer and a director of the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce. "Venezuelans will come here, we have our arepas, our traditional food, and you feel like you're at home," he explains. "And that's only natural. It's a very rewarding experience."

Franco, who came to Florida six years ago after accepting a job at a law firm, is one of thousands of Venezuelans now living in the United States.

The 2000 census put the number of Venezuelans in the United States at 126,000.  But a more recent study by the Miami-based El Venezolano newspaper suggests there may be as many as 180,000 Venezuelans living in Florida alone.

Many vehemently oppose the socialist policies of Chávez, whom they accuse of wanting to turn their country into a Cuban-style Communist dictatorship.

Miami's Cuban exile community has welcomed the Venezuelan immigrants and found common cause in denouncing the Chávez government's support for Fidel Castro.

Unlike some of their Cuban counterparts, most Venezuelans in the United States are wealthy.  Professor Eduardo
 Gamarra of Florida International University said many came to the United States because they were worried about losing their money.

"The future in Venezuela, in the views of many of the migrants that are here, is reserved primarily for lower class people who have been in some measure excluded from the political and economic spoils of the system over the last 40, 50, 100 years," says Gamarra.

President Chávez won reelection last year with a promise to push forward with what he calls a "socialist revolution" in Venezuela. His victory with more than 60 percent of the vote came with massive support from Venezuela's poor and working class.

Oscar Levin, a leading U.S. immigration attorney, believes rich Venezuelans are looking for both economic and political security, "because they're being threatened or put in jail, they have their properties taken away, they have their families threatened, they have their opportunities to continue to live in a peaceful manner being threatened."

But for the rich in Venezuela, leaving their privileged lifestyle behind to move to the United States is not always an attractive option.

Business leader Franco says some Venezuelan immigrants go through a grieving process. "You grieve for your language, you grieve for the scenery, you grieve for your family, you grieve for your friends, you grieve for your social status, financial status," he explains." You grieve because you have lost all of that, and it's a very, very difficult thing to adjust to."

But life in Venezuela, according to some, has become so difficult that people line up outside embassies to apply to live abroad.

Venezuelan immigration to U.S. cities like Miami and New York has risen steadily, and experts believe the trend will continue until Venezuela sees political change.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 10, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 70

For David Cup competitors, the reason is the flag not money
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

For most professional tennis players, each season is filled with the individual pursuits of winning tournament titles and prize money. But a handful of players often find their most satisfying moments by playing for no money while representing their nations on the tennis courts.

Each year, the Davis Cup tournament is played to determine the best men's national team. Countries competing often have at least one highly ranked player on the court. Four singles matches and one doubles match make up each best-of-five series known as a "tie."

This year, the United States team has two top-10 players: No. 3 Andy Roddick and ninth-ranked James Blake. Brothers Mike and Bob Bryan are the top ranked doubles tandem in the world.

For Blake, Davis Cup tennis has a special feeling.

"This team feels like a family. We do everything together. And when we win, we have a great time celebrating together. When we lose, we have a quiet dinner and we talk about it . And we talk about getting the next time," he said.

Roddick likes the fact that both the players and fans are enjoying the sport with some extra meaning.
"I think it brings out a new level of passion from the fans. They are not rooting for a guy. You can get behind the flag (support your country). And I think the players feed off of that as well," said Roddick.  "It is probably no small part to the rest of my team. They are some of my best friends. And so I know I am playing for them too."

For Blake, the Davis Cup tournament is providing a new opportunity he has not experienced before in competitive tennis.

"It is a great thing because I have the feeling of competing as a team. And I have never reached the pinnacle of any team accomplishment," said Blake. "I was thinking about it just a few months ago about the fact I never won an NCAA  championship as a team. I never won a high school championship as a team. I never won inter-sectionals, I never won any of that stuff. So, now to have the chance to do it at the top level would mean the world to me."

Blake and his teammates need to get past Sweden in the upcoming semifinals in September to have a chance to win the title in December. The United States holds a record 31 Davis Cup titles, but none since 1995.

The Davis Cup began in 1900 as a competition between the United States and the British Isles. It now includes 120 nations.

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