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(506) 2223-1327         Published Wednesday, April 23, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 80         E-mail us
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Police are in the process of empounding this silver Peugeot hatchback at the end of a chase Tuesday.
end of chase
A.M. Costa Rica photos/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas

Policeman shoots theft suspect at end of city chase
By Elise Sonray
and José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A municipal policeman held on to his pistol and blasted a struggling theft suspect in the chest Tuesday at the climax of a chase, police said.

The event played out after a man stole a camera bag outside a hotel.  The bag's owner, Chris Starkweather, 36, a U.s. tourist, chased down a suspect and threw his body in front of what he believed to be the getaway car.

The incident Tuesday afternoon ended with the one suspect wounded, two escaped thieves and two shaken visitors. 

Starkweather of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Felipe Méndez, 23, of Palm Spring, California, were about to conclude their trip to Costa Rica. The two men both work for the National Park Service in the United States. They had traveled through the country and were planning to stay in San José for the night.

Starkweather said he was unloading the luggage from the rental car at an eastern San José hotel when two women approached him and asked for directions. Starkweather who does not speak much Spanish, asked his friend Méndez to come help out. As this was happening, a man walked by and grabbed Starkweather's camera bag which was on the street

Starkweather said he chased the man he thought to be the thief until the man jumped into a silver Peugeot hatchback. Starkweather put his hands on the hood of the car, stalling its getaway.

Méndez and Starkweather spotted a nearby police car and called for help. The Policia Municipal were on patrol when officers saw what happened and began to chase what they suspected was the thief's vehicle, said an officer.

The chase finally ended about two blocks east of Iglesia Santa Teresita in Barrio Escalante. As a
victis of theft
Starkweather and Méndez discuss the adventure

police officer approached the car, a man inside the vehicle grabbed the officer's hand and tried to wrench the gun away, said one municipal officer.

The police officer shot the man in the chest. Paramedics took the man to Hospital Calderón Guardia. Others believed to have been involved escaped.  Two who escaped were women, said an officer.

Police returned the camera bag to Starkweather. He estimated it contained $800 worth of valuables, including his passport, two cameras and a cell phone. All of the items remained in the bag, said Pedro Mora at the Polícia Municipal central office.

The theft seemed to be very well planned out, according to Méndez and Starkweather. Méndez said it was possible they had been followed. “Maybe they worked that street for all the hotels on it,” said Starkweather.

Méndez and Starkweather seemed shaken after all that had happened but said the incident didn't ruin their trip to Costa Rica. The men were scheduled to leave the country today.

Police were unwilling to release the name of the hospitalized suspect Tuesday so his condition was unavailable as of Tuesday evening.

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Home for unwanted adults
will get new stainless kitchen

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Tom and Norman home will be getting a new stainless steel kitchen from the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social May 9. The institute is the government's anti-poverty agency. The event will be held in the new multi-use building that has been constructed on the home's property in Guápiles. At the same time the home will receive a gift of 66 chairs for the new building from the Little Theatre Group of Costa Rica, a supporter of the home said.

The Tom and Norman Home accepts the unwanted elderly. It has been a favorite charity of expats living in Costa Rica. The home celebrates its 10th year this year.

Beginning with one donated stable, the home has developed into a campus of three new dormitories, plus the multi-use dining room/kitchen building which was recently donated by the Government of Spain.  Through many contributors funds have also been made available for the construction this year of a small non-denominational chapel where the remains of founders Tom and Norman will rest.

Security budget passed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislativa Tuesday passed a supplementary budget of 15 billion colons to bolster the country's security. The money goes to the Poder Judicial, the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública and the Ministerio de Justicia y Gracia. That's about $30.5 million. Plans are to add more than 800 workers in the Poder Judicial, including prosecutors, and judges. That branch of government will get more than 12 billion colons ($20.4 million).

Our readers' opinions
Labor rulings are damaging
the climate for investment

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Yet again, Garland Baker has illuminated another disheartening reality of the Costa Rican court "system." (What an absolutely ugly way to start my Monday morning!)

These latest, preposterous rulings by the infamous labor courts serve only to put a few more tiny nails in the coffin of the Costa Rican economy and prove once again that most contracts signed here aren't worth the paper they're written on when it comes to enforceability. Clearly these "judges" of the labor court are prejudiced against employers in general and foreign employers in particular. They should all be investigated and, where appropriate, fired.

When I first came here to live five years ago, I heard stories of employers firing all of their Tico employees every two and a half months. At the time I thought they were doing this solely to avoid having to pay their workers the benefits (mandated by the labor laws) that kick in after three months of employment. I thought this practice was completely reprehensible. But now that I know how the labor courts operate, it's obvious that many employers do this in order to escape the abuses heaped upon them by the courts in the name of workers' rights.

It's really sad because Ticos are forced to bounce from one low-paying job to the next, thereby losing the opportunity to gain financial stability for themselves and their families, all because the labor courts are out of control and are making rulings that will damage the future of these workers rather than protect them in the long run.

Instead of labor "laws." what we have here is legalized extortion. Employees file fraudulent claims at will, knowing full well that no matter how absurd the claim, their chances of prevailing in the labor courts are excellent. So employers pay them off rather than submit themselves to the whims and prejudices of the judges. (Is it any wonder that employers are attracted to the idea of hiring illegal immigrants who have no rights under the labor laws?)

The only way I can see this changing would be if an employer got up on his/her hind legs and took one of these salacious rulings all the way to the Sala IV. If all of this "kindergarten jurisprudence" was laid out end to end in front of the magistrates of the Supreme Court, and the labor courts/judges were sufficiently humiliated in public, the situation at hand might actually improve a bit for employers.

Foreign investors, whose money is critical to the future of the Costa Rican economy might actually feel that they can expect some protection under the labor laws, and Tico workers might get more gainful, long-term employment. My best guess is that this will never happen, but what can one say other than "Ojala."
Dean Barbour
Manuel Antonio

Government overkill hurts
entire casino industry

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Well let's just say I am surprised at the government's response to the possibility of Storm, Inc., opening a casino in the old Del Bulevar hotel.

If the government doesn't want a Russian business here to operate a casino, just don't issue them the gaming permit. Do not punish the rest of the casino industry by limiting hours and making it all more impossible to operate as a casino.

Sometimes I wonder if the government needs to hire a consulting agency or a public relations firm. Maybe both would go along way to putting forth a clear message and put a stop to the mentality of burn the barn down to kill one bad rat.
Kevin Burdock 
Ciudad Colón

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 23, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 80

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An angry setting sun gives warning that the rainy season is nearly here. At right in the distance can be seen the distinctive silhouette of a church roof in Barrio México.
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Guanacaste tourism reaches new high, chamber stats show
By Helen Thompson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tourism in Guanacaste reached a new high in the first three months of this year, as more than 150,000 people flew into the region via the Liberia airport.

The new figures confirm that Guanacaste has become the principal tourism destination of the country, with many tourists so satisfied with their experience that they keep coming back for more, said Mauricio Céspedes, director of the Camara de Turismo Guanacasteca, at a press conference Tuesday.

The Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Obuder has become very popular since it opened to international flights in 2002 as a way to avoid long car or bus journeys from San José to popular beaches such as Tamarindo. This years statistics represent a 13 percent increase on the number of tourists who flew into the airport during the months of January to March in 2007.

Surveys of tourists flying into the airport have given the Camara detailed profiles of the people who spend their vacations on Guanacaste's beaches.

Unsurprisingly, 74 percent of the tourists were citizens of the United States, while almost all of the remaining tourists were Canadians. A very small percentage — somewhere around 1 to 2 percent — came from other areas such as Europe.

It was also obvious that tourists coming to the area are affluent and often well educated, with most having a university education and earning between $70-300,000 per year. This was reflected in the accommodation chosen, with
70 percent staying in hotels, 23 percent in private residences, and none at all staying in cabinas or bed and breakfasts.

Of Guanacaste's attractions, lounging on the beach was the activity that drew 61 percent of the tourists, and they spent the most time in Papagayo, followed by Tamarindo, Conchal and Flamingo. Playas del Coco, however, snuck into the top three for the beach that tourists most enjoyed during their stay, along with Tamarindo and Papagayo.

Representatives of the Camara de Turismo Guanacasteca were eager to point out that each year, the percentage of tourists who are returning to the area has grown. This year, 48 percent of the tourists had been to Guanacaste before.

“There are not many places in the world that people keep on going back to,” said Céspedes. “They often go once in their whole life. Guanacaste is an exception, and it shows that tourism here is very successful.”

Visitors also make recommendations to their friends after coming to the area, with 46 percent of tourists claiming they heard about Guanacaste through a personal recommendation. Over 96 percent of those leaving the country said they would also recommend the area to a friend as a tourist destination, with less than 1 percent saying definitevely no.

In an average holiday of around seven days, tourists would spend $2,251 excluding flight costs, meaning income of millions of dollars for those working in hotels, vehicle rental companies and small local businesses, said Céspedes.

The first thing on the list of complaints was the quality of the roads, along with signposting and telecommunications.

Another runaway mom is snagged by INTERPOL here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law enforcement officers arrested a woman wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a parental kidnapping charge Tuesday, said a spokesperson from the
Kidnapped girl
Tierra Zion Gehl-Kater
International Police Agency.  The arrest took place in Cañas, Guanacaste. 

The woman, Nicole Elise Kater, 28, was accused of kidnapping her young daughter, Tierra Zion Gehl-Kater, and flying to Costa Rica, just 11 days before a custody hearing in Humboldt County, California. The court had forbidden Ms. Kater to
take her daughter out of the county before the hearing scheduled for Aug. 17, 2005, said agents.

Nonetheless, the hearing took place after Ms. Kater left the country and the Humboldt County Superior Court awarded physical custody of the child to the child's father, according to the FBI.

At one point during her stay in Costa Rica, Ms. Kater had been selling souvenirs in the beach towns around Cobano
and Mal Pais, according to a spokesperson from the International Police Agency (INTERPOL). Investigators
said tracking her was difficult because she never used credit or debit cards, according to the spokesperson.

Ms. Kater gave birth to another child more than a year after she arrived in Costa Rica. The baby is a year-and-a-half old, said the police spokesperson.

The mother later moved with her new boyfriend and two children to Sabalito Tierra Morena de Tilarán in Cañas, Guanacaste, said the police spokesperson. Ms. Kater 
arrested mom
Nicole Elise Kater in custody Tuesday

recently stayed at a hotel in San José and got on a bus to Tilarán, which confirmed her location to investigators, according to the spokesperson. Agents from the International Police Agency arrested Ms. Kater at 12:15 a.m. outside of her house north of Plaza de Sabalito, said the police spokesperson.

Ms. Kater's 7-year-old daughter is a dual citizen of Costa Rica and the United States, according to the FBI.

The Tribunal Penal de San José is currently handling the
case of Ms. Kater. The court will decide whether she will be deported or extradited.

In a similar child kidnapping case, the woman Chere Lyn Tomayko who brought her daughter out of the state of
Texas in 1997 is awaiting the results of her final appeal, according to Andrea Marín a spokeswoman for Poder Judicial. Ms. Tomayko was arrested in September and is still in Buen Pastor woman's prison, said an employee from the prison.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 23, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 80

Investigators say they will continue to check up on guards
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Does the security guard protecting the neighborhood know how to use his gun? Does the watchman at work have a criminal background? Does the man with the gun at the mall have a mental disorder?

Many security guards are not trained to use their firearms, and some even use their weapons to commit robberies on their off time, said an investigator from the Judicial Investigation Organization, in an interview.

In a sweep last week judicial agents confiscated 64 illegal firearms from private security guards.

Over half of the security guards who were investigated in Desamparados, Tibás, Guadalupe and La Uruca carried unregistered weapons, said an investigator from the Judicial Investigation Organization. And five of the guards investigated were illegally in the country, said a judicial spokeswoman.

Anyone who owns a firearm must go through three exams here in Costa Rica, even if they are security guards, said the investigator in the Sección de Delitos Varios.  Individuals must pass a psychological exam, a written exam, and a practical test.

In addition to a license for the user of a firearm, Costa Rica requires each weapon to be registered.

Out of the 105 guards investigated, most had not gone through the tests. Nor is there a required drug test to be a security guard, said the investigator. Some companies may hold additional tests if they wish, but many don't want to spend the money or time on even the most basic of tests, he added.

A security guard is in jail awaiting investigation of a charge of shooting at pedestrians on the street. Two men were hurt and a woman, a police trainee, died. Police arrested Roda  
Marroy, a guard at a building on Avenida 7 and Calle 3 on March 16. The shooting took place on the first floor of the building inside a beauty salon encased in windows.

One witness said he heard more than 12 shots and that when Fuerza Pública officers arrived, the security guard would not come out. More shooting ensued, and finally police were able to bring the guard out of the building, tied up, said the witness. The man is now in preventative detention for six months, said Andrea Marín Mena, a spokeswoman for Poder Judicial.

The guard's gun was not registered and the guard, from Colombia, was soliciting citizenship in Costa Rica when the incident happened, said a homicide investigator in an interview Monday. Agents do not known if the guard was intoxicated or using drugs at the time of the shooting, said the homicide investigator. “We have to wait for the results and that could take a while, depending on how the amount of cases waiting to be tested.” Over a month has passed since the shooting. 

The Sección de Delitos Varios will continue to conduct sweeps to verify firearms like the one last week. “We don't want to create insecurity. We are trying to do just the opposite,” said the investigator from the Sección de Delitos Varios. He said the aim was to prevent accidents and crime. Some guards have committed crimes with their security guns, others have lent them to friends who have used them in robberies later to return them, said the investigator.

Although there are no statistics estimating how many guards carry illegal weapons, the investigator from the various crimes unit said it is a big problem in the country. Although some private security companies closely follow the regulations, he said, others are creating major risks.

The investigator said he did not blame the guards for the situation. “Most security companies pay very little,” he added.  The judicial organization is just trying to make things safer with these sweeps, after all, “guns were made to kill,” he said.

U.S. lawmakers grill Food and Drug chief over foreign lapses
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Members of Congress have sharply criticized the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, saying underfunding and a failure to act aggressively to increase foreign inspections is putting humans at risk from dangerous drug and food imports.

For the fiscal year beginning in October, the Food and Drug Administration requested a $130 million budget increase to improve its capabilities to inspect foreign companies making drugs for the U.S. market.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill question why more has not been done already to correct management, staffing and technological obstacles hampering more effective oversight of drug and food imports.

Among the most controversial problems are inspections in China, where U.S. and European test results identified contamination in ingredients used to manufacture the blood thinning medicine heparin.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress, the Food and Drug Administration has made some progress in increasing inspections, but only 10 to 20 of more than 700 Chinese companies shipping drug products to the U.S. are inspected each year. Lawmakers note that U.S. law contains a requirement for inspections of domestic companies, while there is no law requiring the same for foreign ones.

Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach of the agency said steps are under way to establish offices in China and elsewhere to prevent dangerous products from entering the United States. "The increasing global nature of product development and production requires our continuous and intensive interaction beyond our border. This plan includes the establishment of FDA offices in China, India, Latin America Europe and the Middle East," he said.
While agreeing that the low inspection rate is unacceptable, he asserts that merely increasing the number of inspections would be insufficient.

He was confronted by an angry Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat who noted that the agency budget for all inspections totaled just $11 million, and questioned the Bush administration's commitment to correcting the problem. Said Dingell:

"You are not soliciting the resources that you need to do your job to protect the American people the way the law  says you should, and that you are tolerating an administration which is allowing this kind of situation to obtain because they are too damn tight to see to it that the American people have the funds that are necessary to protect them against wrongdoing in foreign countries."

Eschenbach addressed differences with China over a U.S. finding that problems with the drug heparin were caused by what his agency calls significant deviations from good manufacturing processes by a Chinese company, saying U.S. analysis methods are more accurate.

Where heparin is concerned, he says the Food and Drug Administration has ensured the safety of future supplies. According to U.S. figures, 62 people died from allergic reactions associated with batches of heparin that were recalled.

Eschenbach declined during testimony to make a specific request for funds required to increase foreign inspections, although he agreed with lawmaker's rough estimates of $60 to $70 million.

Chinese government officials this week requested additional samples of heparin from the U.S. for further testing, and asserted that besides the United States and Germany, heparin doses used in 10 other countries had caused no side effects.

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Leaders of North American nations defend NAFTA pact
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President George Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico concluded their two-day summit meeting in New Orleans Tuesday, highlighting the benefits all three nations have gained from the North American Free Trade Agreement President Bush also used the occasion to urge the U.S. Congress to approve a trade deal with Colombia.

With his North American counterparts standing next to him, Bush made a strong appeal to the Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress to reconsider the trade deal his administration negotiated with Colombia.  He cited Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's efforts to fight drug traffickers and terrorists and said the United States should back him.

"If we do not agree to a free trade agreement that we negotiated in good faith with them, it will undermine his efforts, it will destabilize parts of the world, and it would

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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.


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.

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

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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be a big mistake for Congress to turn its back on Colombia," he said.

He singled out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying if she doesn't schedule a vote on the free trade pact with Colombia, she will have killed it.

Bush also criticized calls by both Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.  The president said the trade agreement has been good for all three countries in North America and has created jobs and opportunities for U.S. citizens that outweigh any of its drawbacks.

In this he was joined by the other North American leaders, who cited figures showing benefits to their nations.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón said the agreement has promoted job growth and a rise in income level in his nation.  Speaking through a translator, he warned that any change in the agreement that would reduce the trade benefits would increase the number of Mexican workers who would have to go north of the border seeking employment.

"And another factor I discussed with President Bush yesterday that he reiterated today and I will reiterate now as well would be a sudden loss of economic opportunities that would lead to even greater migratory pressure with the United States," he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his nation would be open to any adjustments that a future U.S. president might seek in the trade agreement, but he said he sees no reason to make any substantive changes.

"I can tell you when I meet business people, not just from our country, but from around the continent, the benefits of our NAFTA relationship are without question," he said.  "What all the focus is in our discussions is how to make it work better, how to make the border thinner, how to make commerce flow more quickly, more freely."

Both Prime Minister Harper and President Calderon also backed President Bush's argument for a trade deal with Colombia, saying that expansion of trade in the Western Hemisphere benefits everyone.  Mexico already has its own trade agreement with Colombia, and Canada is beginning talks aimed at creating an agreement.

Relative of president held
after denial of Tico asylum

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica turned down a request for asylum by a leading Colombian politician who is being investigated for possible ties to paramilitary forces. The man, Mario de Jesús Uribe Escobar, was turned over to Colombian prosecutors Tuesday night.

Uribe Escobar is a second cousin to the nation's president, Álvaro Uribe, and has served as president of his country's senate.

The man showed up Tuesday at the Costa Rican mission in Bogotá and made the request for asylum. In a late afternoon bulletin, the Costa Rican foreign ministry here called the request untimely and said that the institution of asylum should not be weakened.

The key point was that there is an arrest warrant outstanding for Uribe Escobar in Colombia. The paramilitaries are armed groups that originally were formed by landholders to battle the leftist rebels in the country. They have evolved into their own criminal organizations and have been branded terrorists by the United States.

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Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional play third concert with national violinist
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It is the turn of the violin this weekend, as the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional holds its third concert of the season in the Teatro Nacional.

Costa Rican soloist María Lourdes Lobo currently plays violin with the Cuarteto Alma, which is made up of four women and regularly performs in various culture centers around San José.

In this weekend's concert she will be interpreting German composer Max Bruch's popular "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra."

She will also play English composer Frederick Delius' "Preludio a Irmelin," which was premiered 19 years after
the composers death in 1934, and Shostakovich's "Symphony Number 10, according to the alterations made by Jacques Sagot at the event of Stalin's death."

Lourdes Lobo has in the past studied music at the Universidad de Costa Rica, graduating in 1991, and taken part in the Orquesta Sinfonica's own youth program. She twice won the youth soloists competition held by the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional.

The concert will be under the direction of Chosei Komatsu, the orchestra's title director, and starts at 8 p.m. Friday and at 10.30 a.m. Sunday in the Teatro Nacional.

Tickets range in price from 3,000 to 9,000 colons ($6-18). Call 2221 5341 or log on to

Interrogating your oponent with table talk
Table talk is a part of the game, and frankly, it’s the part of the game that I enjoy most.  How players react to questions that you ask can give definitive information as to the strength of their hand.  Even an opponent who says nothing at all might be sending a silent signal.  A mere shrug, an awkward smile, or even a frozen stare can be meaningful. 

To begin your interrogation, make sure that your line of questioning makes sense.  And be prepared to use different approaches because not all opponents will respond in the same manner.

One approach is to try to catch your opponent off guard, hoping to get him to relax and give a genuine reaction.  Try asking a question that is non-confrontational.  Here’s one that I like:  “From the way you’re playing this hand, you must be from Sweden.  Swedish players are nuts and so is this hand!  You didn’t take lessons from Gus Hansen, did you?”

You see, Gus Hansen is known for his wild and aggressive style of play, but more apropos to your question, he’s actually from Denmark, not Sweden.  If your opponent knows this, his reaction may give up some information as to the strength of his hand.  He may answer, “Gus is not Swedish, he’s Danish”, and follow that up with a chuckle.  He might say, “Swedish players are even crazier than Danish players!”

The ease in which he responds, and of course, what he actually says, will help you gauge his comfort level.  The more comfortable he appears, the more likely he’s got a strong hand.  The less comfortable he seems, the more likely he’s bluffing.  It’s really that simple.  The key point is that your questioning doesn’t need to have much to do with poker; it’s just about a guy named Gus who’s from Denmark, not from Sweden. 

You can also recite a short spiel designed to elicit a telling response from your opponent.

For example, after an opponent bets, say something like, “I’m such an idiot.  Why in the world did I bet the flop if I couldn’t call a raise?  Man, I do this so often (while laughing out loud) it’s not even funny.  I must really be a terrible player.”

This kind of table talk takes the focus off your opponent and places it squarely back on you.  Your goal is to get your opponent to lower his guard so you can gauge his reaction to your self-mocking tirade. 

By making it seem as though you aren’t the least bit interested in him, he might relax, loosen his shoulders, or laugh out loud.  But if he’s bluffing, he may not move a muscle.  Remember, every player reacts differently.  It’s your job to figure out the meaning behind his reaction or lack thereof.

You can also try asking a specific question looking for a specific response.  For example, there’s always the classic, “If I fold will you show me your hand?” 

Once you ask this question, concentrate on how your opponent answers.  Does his response indicate that he’s enticing you to fold?  Does he seem completely disinterested in what you do?  Believe me, if he is indeed bluffing, he’ll certainly be interested in what you do.  If he has a monster hand, however, he’ll probably show less interest in whatever decision you make.

These are just a couple of the tricks you’ve seen me use on television.  I’ve got a few more in my repertoire but I can’t give away all my secrets!  Go ahead and create some of your own trickery.

Visit for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, "Hold’em Wisdom for All Players."
© 2008 Card Shark Media.  All rights reserved.


Mini-mall comes to the rescue of the not-rich-but-hungry

food court

For those in the know, there is a clean, affordable, relatively quiet gastronomic surprise off the pedestrian mall in downtown San Jose.  Between Arenas clothing store and the Patio Restaurant, behind a perfume counter and a Pops Ice Cream sits a food court without a McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway or Church's Chicken in sight. 

Tropical Food is a counter selling relatively healthy food.  While their batidos aren't as delicious as the ones found at FrutiLand in Mall San Pedro, the water-or-milk-
blended-with-fruit drink is a refreshing treat to carry during your walk along Avenida Central.  A batido with the fruit of your choice mixed with water costs 650 colons, with milk, 750 colons.  That's from $1.30 to $1.50.

Adding honey or granola takes you up to a still-reasonable 900 colons ($1.80).  The store also peddles fruit salads, ranging from 700 to 1.600 colons ($1.40 to $3.20).

Marisqueria produces delicious looking and smelling seafood dishes.  A customer-friendly hanging chalkboard lists their menu and respective prices.  A small corvina ceviche will set you back 1,950 colons ($3.90).  Get a small rice with shrimp for 2.150 colons ($4.30), 2,800 ($5.60) for a larger serving.  Or try one of the fish filets prepared several different ways, the cheapest being with oil and garlic for 2,600 ($5.20) colons, the priciest fish filet dish is 3,600 colons ($7.20) for relleno with ham and cheese.

Click here to read more

Festive season proves troublesome even for established restaurant

vealBeing a chef in a busy kitchen must be a pretty stressful job, but around Christmas stress is something any successful restaurant should factor in as inevitable.

On a second visit to well-reputed French restaurant Le Chandelier, it soon became obvious that the staff were poorly equipped for the onslaught of Christmas party diners on a Tuesday night, leaving the usually decent food to deteriorate into a procession of almost inedible starters and bland entrees.

Set in an old San Pedro house with brick ceilings and wooden beams that was converted into a restaurant around 15 years ago by Swiss owner Claude Dubuis, Le Chandelier purports to offer French cuisine that has been developed over generations of experience.

Click here to read the full review

A great meal is not all in the presentation

musslesandfondue120407With a vaulted glass ceiling, palm trees lining the pathway and posh lighting, one would not expect Saga restaurant to be settled behind a dull parking lot in Escazú.

Although this restaurant may look out of place, it doesn't deviate much from the norm in Escazú, an area many would classify as suburban sprawl.

The majority of the cuisine at Saga seems to fit with the setting: classy presentation, yet lacking any profound flavors. Although the restaurant boasts itself as an “international food restaurant” on its Web site, much of the inspired cuisine is lacking the depth which would be found in authentic dishes.

Click here to read the full review

Film and Dramatic Arts ...
Costa Rica's cinematic heritage shared with all at public libraries

All over the country, film lovers are being given the chance to learn a bit more about Costa Rica through cinema screenings in public libraries.

Viewers will probably be surprised to find out there are so many Costa Rican films in circulation, and although none is famous, they deal with issues close to the country's history.

Subjects range from the nation's love of guaro and documentaries on influential figures such as Francisco Amighetti and Juan Santamaría, to racial issues, lighter animated films, and even how to fish shrimp responsibly.

Margarita Rojas, director of the Sistema Nacional de Bibliotecas, initiated the project, making copies of the works that she considers essential to Costa Rican cinema to send around the country.

Read more - click here
Festivals ...

Semana U fills campus with cultural events

The campus of the Universidad de Costa Rica is buzzing more than usual this week, as students fill their time with cultural events instead of exams.

Although classes continue, students often choose not to attend, as the attraction of concerts, sports, theater and art overpowers their studious side.

La Semana U is a tradition that has been going on for much longer than most of the current students can remember. Individual faculties work with the Federacion de Estudiantes to organize the participation of a wide variety of acts and to secure enough money from the university to hold the week of fun and games.

“A few years ago, the faculties would sell beer to the students in order to earn some money,” said Mauricio Arayas Santana, an ex-student.

“They would spend it on useful things like more computers. Now they've banned beer because too many students were getting drunk and falling asleep on the lawn.”

Instead, the week focuses around more wholesome activities, but as the events do not charge an entrance fee, the faculties do not earn any money.  The week lasts until Friday.

Read more - click here
Books ...

Land use in Costa Rica documented by Fulbright scholar

Forty years of living in the jungle, moving between secluded forestry stations and research labs, has led Louisiana resident and NASA veteran
Armond Joyce
Armond Joyce
Armond Joyce to write a book about the changing uses of land in Costa Rica.

After winning a presitgious Fulbright scholarship in 1998, he came back to Costa Rica to revisit forest sites that he worked on over three decades earlier as a graduate student. 

Some of the earliest satellite technology available was used in 1966 to take arial photographs of Costa Rica's countryside, and the
book compares these black and white shots with up-to-date images.

Click here to read more

New book dwells on the social aspects of food

Food is not just a selfish pleasure or a way to stifle hunger, but is central to the evolution of art, according to a new book published by Museos del Banco Central.

Artworks by Costa Rican painters are the main content of the hardback book, “Imagenes para Comer,” which follows the representation of food in art since still life painting became popular in the Renaissance.

Full-color pictures of both traditional and modern works are far more common than recipes, as the author Marjorie Ross only provides seven recipes within the book.

All are traditional Costa Rican dishes showing influences from different sections of the community, such as corn fritters, white beans and chorizo and fruit salad.

The book focuses on the meanings that food has within society, and how these are portrayed by art.

Click here to read more

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