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Triple threat

Advocates were out in force Sunday to promote a law to give legal protection to animals and to demand the resignation of a lawmaker who says he like cockfights. Some also opposed eating meat altogether, like the man in the pig mask.

animal rights rally
A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela

Bird that calls the rain has a wide repertory of calls
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The arrival of the rainy season brings a phenomenon intimately familiar in Costa Rican folklore, as the national bird “calls the rain.” The clay-colored thrush responds to the change of seasons by starting its breeding cycle with frantic bouts of singing while the matter of establishing a territory and finding a mate is settled.

The yigüirro was named the national bird in a vote of schoolchildren in the 1960s. It sometimes fails to time the first burst of singing with the rains, though this year was more accurate than the Instituto Meteorológical Nacional, which said there wouldn’t be storms until May.

The clay-colored thrush has profited greatly from habitat changes caused by humans and is now abundant in non-forested areas of low- to middle-elevations. Its association with inhabited areas makes it one of the country’s most familiar birds. It will come to feeders with bananas for a closer view. Despite the species’ omnipresence in the Central Valley, few people are much aware of its habits, which include one of the largest vocal repertories of any Costa Rican bird. 

The most important is the territorial song, an extended caroling that makes birds that actually were everywhere but inconspicuous suddenly obvious as the males sing from telephone wires, high in trees, and rooftops. Unlike many resident birds which can keep a territory year-round, the thrush wanders widely in search of food in the non-breeding season, and individuals are even faithful to different areas during their winter, as documented by banding studies in Costa Rica’s Caribbean lowlands. So it is imperative to get nesting underway and profit from the burst of insects associated with the arrival of the rain. Singing often starts well before dawn and lasts all day, until a few weeks into the season when they relax a bit.

The song so beloved by the Ticos can be heard here at the Xeno-canto Web site.

Any of the tracks labeled song from Costa Rica or Panamá are good examples, while those from further north are a different subspecies with a somewhat different territorial song.
popular bird
Photo by Steve Heinl
Clay-colored thrush is a master musician.

Occasionally a bird sings a quiet version of the song, almost whispered. This is mostly heard just before the season starts, perhaps to tune up for the coming bout of action.

Heard year-round is a call “tock-tock-tock” with a varying number of notes. Sometimes this is sped up and prolonged when the effect is rather different. The third xeno-canto track, from Oaxaca, is a good example. Click HERE!

Another common call heard mostly at dawn or when the thrush is concerned about a predator is a meowing churrrup. This can be heard at the end of a song recording from Santa Rosa National Park or also a track from Las Cumbres, Guatemala. Click HERE!

Less likely to be heard by anything but a predator is a squealing distress call when captured. It is, of course, normal for banders to have a bird in hand and it tends to presume the worst about its impending fate. Another track from Oaxaca gives this call. HERE!

Begging juvenals can be seen as the breeding season progresses, as they are still dependent on the parents for food even after they are full-size and have left the nest. The juvenile plumage is characterized by dark spots over the otherwise tan plumage of the adult. The begging call is the fifth track.

Nestling chatter is the first or last on the list, after all, “what came first, the yigüirro or the egg.” The blind and helpless nestlings put their orange mouth linings in the air to be fed when they feel an adult arrive at the nest.

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Our readers' opinion
Prostitution important
and worthy of a shrine

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Is prostitution legal in Costa Rica? The answer is "YES." As has been pointed out in several articles in this publication, voluntary prostitution is legal in Costa Rica. I bring this up because I do not understand what right the Costa Rican authorities along with the Rahab Foundation have to raid the Del Rey and Key Largo to make the young ladies who work there fill out surveys. The fact of the matter is that these young ladies have not broken any laws and are being used by the Costa Rican authorities and the Rahab Foundation to appease the U.S. government. The girls who frequent the Del Rey and Key Largo do so voluntarily. There is no human trafficking.

The reason that the majority of these women are prostitutes is to feed their families. They are having babies at 15 years of age and there is no father or the children have multiple fathers. There is no husband(s), just children out of wedlock. I know a lot of these girls and generally speaking they are pretty nice people. They view their jobs from an economic standpoint. Simply put, they have to put food on their tables. They are not getting child support. They are making a lot of money compared to the average worker in Costa Rica and need every penny to feed their kids. It is a rarity to find a girl who has no children.

If the Rahab Foundation and the Costa Rican government are truly interested in these girls, then they should start with educating these poor families in the use of birth control and that having children out of wedlock means that they will likely be economically doomed. Where are the economic opportunities for these women in Costa Rica?

The Costa Rican government should actually build a shrine to these women as they bring in a lot of money into the country in the form of sex tourism. It has been estimated that about 200,000 people travel to Costa Rica annually as sex tourists. If the average tourist spends $1,500 then they are bringing in revenues to hotels, restaurants, etc, of approximately $30 million annually. Before Laura Chinchilla became president she always took a tough stand against legal prostitution and now that she is president she continues on her crusade along with the U.S. Embassy and the Rahab Foundation.

Besides the money that comes into the country via sex tourists, if legal prostitution was struck down in Costa Rica, downtown San Jose would become a ghost town and all the casino workers, hotel employees, and bartenders would find themselves out of work. Not to mention all the surrounding businesses like restaurants would be hurt badly.
W.J. Reynolds
San José and Miami

Former Women's Lib backer
agrees movement is radical

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As a woman who participated in the original “Women’s Lib” movement, I would like to thank Mr. Baker for his comments.   The movement I joined was about equal opportunity, equal work for equal pay, and respect for individual talents in all areas of life.  That was not the movement I left.

In the early ‘70s, I ran into the established male bias in employment and, after securing a solid position, nearly lost it to that bias.  Nevertheless, I left the movement when I realized that it had become radicalized to the extent that the movement’s leadership had decided to dictate the choices a woman make and still be held in call herself liberated – or even a woman.  Mother and homemaker were no longer possible choices, at least, not acceptable ones, and speaking out about those choices as personal decisions that needed to be respected was unacceptable.

Let me make it clear that I loathe the sex trade, particularly the transporting of unwilling women to be used up and thrown away (worse is the abhorrent sex trade in children), but Mr. Baker’s points about extreme feminist views have some validity. And those views, as expressed in the entertainment industry, are both rampant and misguided.

As to prostitution, it may come down to choices and alternatives.  A child’s hunger can force a choice, a desire for luxuries can prompt a choice. I wish I had answers . . . .
Victoria Torley
Aguacate, Costa Rica

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
 San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 23, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 80
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Every dog has his day, and for some their day was Sunday
By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lola calmly sat for pictures as bystanders stopped in awe at the white, curly haired, three-legged dog. The teacup French poodle rolled in excitement to those who stopped and flashed their cameras and camera phones at her.

The Asociación Defensa Animal rescued Lola after her owner had accidentally run her over with a car and didn't want to deal with the pet care consequences. So the animal rescue organization adopted her and nursed her back to health. Now Lola sits in a wheelchair for dogs that has allowed her to get around with the rest of her doggy pals.

The organization was out in full-force as part of an environment and animal rights rally Sunday morning at the Plaza de la Democracia. They had many of their members come out in their black polo shirts and walk around with one of their rescued pets. There was another white dog who only had three legs. He jumped and played around like any four-legged animal. There was a black dog who lay on the ground on his back to get his belly scratched. His tongue hung out to the side. This particular pet had only his two hind legs, he was missing his front legs. He was born with both front legs really short, almost stuck to his body.

The light rain and dark thunderous clouds didn't stop hundreds of activists showing their support. Many advocates took their pets in the dual themed rally.

One of the bigger issues that the Frente de Resistencia Animal y de la Tierra mentioned was indignation toward a member of the legislature who came out last week in support of cockfights. The organization said it was an embarrassment for the country to have a public figure come out and say such a thing. The frustration is from the fact that Costa Rica prides itself as an environmental- and animal-friendly country. Víctor Danilo Cubero Corrales of Movimiento Libertario said in an interview with La Nación that he was a fan of cockfights and that his family has taken part in the violent sport for several generations.

Members of the the Frente de Resistencia Animal y de la Tierra wore masks that represented an animal that they felt is underrepresented in animal rights rallies. There was a mask that was a full headpiece of a yellow fish and an “x” for the eyes to represent its death. There were other masks such as cows, pigs, cats, and dogs.
dog mssing rear legs
A.M. Costa Rica photos/Shahrazad Encinias Vela
Lola after her accident moves with a doggie wheelchair.

dog missing front legs
Dogs have birth defects, too. But they still like petting

Costa Rica claims to have a love for animals, said one of the advocates on a megaphone. But he said this is false. Animals are equal to humans, and there should be more laws to protect them, he said. The crowd cheered and applauded. The organization supports a proposed law to provide protection to animals.

The rally began to end after really loud thunder scared many of the pets and certain activists. And it finally rained.

Turtle eggs crooks and illegal hunters are environmental targets
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

While police on the Caribbean coast are on the lookout for turtle egg thieves, the environmental ministry is sending teams into the jungle to catch illegal hunters.

A robbery at a turtle nursery highlighted that situation. Investigators have not said yet that they have captured any of the individuals who invaded a private turtle facility in Moín last week and took 1,500 eggs after tying up an employee and foreign volunteers. The Fuerza Pública did report over the weekend that officers in Matina found a taxi with more than 400 turtle eggs in the trunk.

Three men were apprehended to face a flagrancy tribunal that dishes out quick justice to those caught red-handed. The taxi containing the men and the eggs was stopped at a police checkpoint.

The environmental foray into the public land in southern Costa Rica came after young men with the head of a black panther showed up on a social network site. The Ministerio
turtle eggs
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
These are the turtle eggs confiscated in Matina

de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones said the park workers will be patrolling areas that are known as sites where illegal hunting takes place. Also involved are Fuerza Pública officers and agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization.
They will be in the Parque Nacional Tapantí.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 23, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 80
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Three persons, including a grandmother, die in weekend gunplay
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three persons died as a result of gunplay over the weekend. One was a grandmother walking her granddaughter in Pavas.

The second was a man in a car that was fleeing police. And a 17 year old was gunned down by robbers in Coronado.

The judicial police said that the 51-year-old woman with the last name of Murillo was the innocent victim of a confrontation among neighbors in the Metrópolis Dos section of Pavas about 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Murillo woman lived in the area and was walking about 4 p.m. when a heated discussion among neighbors resulted in someone firing a weapon. The bullet hit the woman in the face and she was dead at the scene. The granddaughter was not injured, agents said.

Fuerza Pública officers reported later that they detained a suspect, a man with the last name of Araya.

The shooting that resulted in the death of the vehicle passenger happened about 4:20 p.m. Saturday, according to the Fuerza
Pública. The 30-year-old man was identified by the last name of Mora.

Police said that officers stopped the vehicle at a checkpoint in La Uruca.

Officers had stopped a vehicle that they said was carrying marijuana. While they were investigating the contents of the vehicle, another car, this one containing Mora, drove by and began firing on officers.

Police returned fire and began a chase that resulted in the arrest of two other men in the car and the discovery of the body. Mora was hit in the back of the neck.

Officers said they presume that the men in both cars were working together. Officers said that the dead man and others involved in the case have records for previous arrests.

In another case, a 17-year old youth was walking home with three friends Saturday about 10:30 p.m. when they were confronted by three robbers. The youth resisted and suffered a fatal bullet wound. The killing took place in San Francisco de Coronado.

New 3-D film describes multiple threats that ocean coral face
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

By focusing its lens on coral reefs, “The Last Reef 3D: Cities Beneath the Sea,” turns the ocean’s tiniest creatures into movie stars.

The new film explores how this habitat, which shelters nearly a quarter of Earth’s marine life and provides food for billions of people, is under siege from overfishing, urban and industrial pollution and rising ocean temperatures.

The movie captures the drama of daily life from Palau, French Polynesia to the Bahamas and Mexico. Filmmakers Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas didn’t just want to make a beautiful film; they also wanted to make a responsible one.

“If you want to protect something you have to first appreciate it,” said Cresswell. 

McNicholas added, “What we wanted to do was show the range and breadth and diversity of life and how all these things interconnect and how losing one element will have a domino effect for that whole ecosystem.”
Shooting the film in 3-D using special macro, or close-up lenses, adds a powerful visual impact on the giant screens found in many science museums.

“The Last Reef” also shows that reefs are in serious decline.

Reefs are suffering “from impacts related to climate change, the warming sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification and land-based sources of pollution and overfishing,” according to John Christensen, director of the Coral Reef Conservation program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

These threats have destroyed 20 percent of the world’s reefs and another 20 percent are likely to decline significantly by 2030, he says. “So not only do we see more dead coral in places that are in serious decline, we see a reduction in biodiversity at large.”

McNicholas and Cresswell hope their film both educates audiences and motivates them to get involved in efforts to save the reefs. A recurring theme is the connection between the cities we live in and those under the sea on which we depend.

Music firm started by expat marks 75 years of success
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Juan Bansbach, a German technician for an organ factory, arrived in Costa Rica in 1937. He restored the pipe organ of the Catedral Metropolitana and continued developing a company which distributed musical instruments all over the nation.

The firm, Bansbach, is celebrating 75 years as a musical company, promoting its education and sharing the passion for instruments. It is one of the biggest sources of German pride in Costa Rica because of its success.
Juan Bansbach´s family took charge of the company after his death.

This year, the firm also is celebrating the 103rd birthday of Juan Bansbach´s wife, Hilda.

The San José firm provides high quality instruments, music academies and services, the company noted. Its services now include home audio, installation of sound professional devices and technical support for its products and brands, distributed mainly in Costa Rica but also in Nicaragua.

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U.S. defense secretary heads
south to beef up relations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta heads to South America as part of Washington’s efforts to build partnerships in the region in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.  But the U.S. defense chief will also deal with the backlash of the scandal involving U.S. security personnel and Colombian prostitutes.

It is a region that is often out of U.S. headlines. But now, the worry that drug and human smuggling networks in the area may turn into a terrorist corridor is driving U.S. leaders to point their attention South.

This month, President Barack Obama attended the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, and his secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, is paying visits to Colombia, Brazil, and Chile, nations with which Washington has longstanding partnerships.

“This is a way of making contact and dealing with the region at a time when there’s growing concern over the ability of many countries to be able to handle the threat posed by transnational crime and, specifically, drug trafficking organizations,” said Steve Johnson, a former Pentagon official specializing in Latin America.

One U.S. concern is Venezuela’s military buildup and the country’s partnership with Iran. 

Reports of the deteriorating health of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez and the country’s elections this year have Washington watching for signs of instability. 

Venezuela is not on Panetta’s itinerary, but analysts expect it to be an underlying factor in his meetings.

“The important thing is not to overplay it, to give more importance to it than it really deserves, but at the same time to take it seriously so that when we deal with other countries we might be able to encourage them to keep an eye on it, to cooperate with us in trying to have a better understanding of what is going on,” Johnson said.

The U.S. defense secretary goes to Colombia days after allegations that U.S. military personnel, along with Secret Service agents assigned to guard President Obama, solicited prostitutes they met at a strip club in Cartagena, the site of the summit.

Some in Colombia complain the affair distracted attention from the meeting.

The U.S. military’s top officer, Gen. Martin Dempsey, called it an embarrassment.

“We let the boss down because nobody’s talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident,” Dempsey said.

Panetta hopes to turn attention back to the issues of drug trafficking and anti-terror efforts.

Socialist edges Sarkozy
in first round in France

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande emerged the frontrunner in the first round of presidential voting in France, with initial results giving him 29.3 percent of the vote compared to 26 percent for conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy. The two men face a runoff vote May 6.

There were no major surprises in the first round of presidential elections in France. Polls have consistently placed Sarkozy and Hollande, as the top vote-getters.

In a speech after the initial results were announced, Hollande said his win reflected the failed policy of France's conservative president.

Hollande said he was now a candidate of union, who wanted to assemble voters supporting a hodgepodge of leftist parties during the first round.

In his own speech, Sarkozy said the election expresses French worries during a time of crisis, and that he understands their concerns. Sarkozy called for three debates, on social, economic and international issues, in the coming two weeks before the second round of voting.

A total of 10 candidates ran in the first round. National Front leader Marine le Pen of the far right, and far left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, also scored in the double digits in the first round, although both trailed well behind the frontrunners.

But voter apathy was also present, with about one out of five eligible French voters opting to stay home.

Unemployment and the country's sluggish economy are top voter concerns during this election. Surveys show French are also worried about crime and immigration. Sarkozy has run on his law-and-order image and his experience steering France through its economic downturn and dealing with the larger eurozone crisis.

Hollande argues for stimulating growth, as well as spending cuts, if France is to emerge from its economic doldrums.

The two men are expected to hit the campaign trail again on Monday, trying to woo more voters for the May 6 runoff.

Earth Day in D.C. gets
drenching of welcome rain

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Earth Day events were held around the globe Sunday, including in Washington. Inclement weather kept away all but the most-dedicated environmentalists.

Months of near-drought conditions gave way to steady rain that drenched the nation’s capital and the grassy open mall near the Washington Monument, where small groups of people huddled under tents and umbrellas while bands played on a covered stage.

Advocacy groups and ecologically friendly product vendors manned booths and beckoned passers-by to stop in.

David Dolnick, marketing manager for California-based SolarCity, said of electricity “We are trying to offset energy and try to get people as off the grid as possible.  We cannot get you entirely off the grid, but we would like to take the power of the sun and turn that into energy.”

President Barack Obama has touted green, environmentally-friendly energy production as an industry the United States should foster and promote. 

Earth day began in the United States in the 1970s and has since spread worldwide.
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Another politician faces
sex-related scandal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The scandals keep coming and coming. Friday the man on the hot seat was the mayor of Coronado, Leonardo Herrera Sánchez. He stands accused of embezzlement because he used a municipal car to drive to a motel in San Francisco de Dos Ríos.

In Costa Rica motels are places for sexual encounters.
The Judicial Investigating Organization said that a telephone tip came to its confidential information center at midday Friday. Almost immediately, agents from the Sección de Fraudes were en route to the motel where they detained the 40-year-old politician.

The allegation is using municipal property for private use.

The arrest follows a month of allegations of illegality against government officials.

Ministry said Nazi officer
is being fired for cause

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The police officer who has admitted to Nazi proclivities learned Friday that he was being fired for cause.

Earlier the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said the man was being let go with responsibilidad patronal, meaning that he would receive significant severance pay.

The police officer made news when his photo showed up on a social Website along with a Nazi flag. He also was pictured giving an authoritarian salute.

Officials said he was being fired for having too many absences from work during the last year.

Fiber optic deal reached

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Dutch firm that specializes in domestic fiber optic networks had made a distribution agreement with a Costa Rican company.

The Dutch firm is Genexis B.V. The firm Ticoplaza has agreed to market the company's products here. The companies noted that many nations are making substantial investments in fiber technology, and they are able to supply and provide the latest technology for the fiber termination points in people's houses.

Quake recorded in south

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica at the Universidad de Costa Rica said that a 3.6 earthquake took place Friday at 4:16 a.m. 7.5 kilometers or about 5 miles north northwest of  Ciudad Neily in southern Costa Rica.

At 10:12 p.m. the same day a 3.2 quake was recorded about 5 kilometers (some 3 miles) west of Golfito in the Gulfo Dulce.

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