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(506) 2223-1327           Published Tuesday, April 26, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 81             E-mail us
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In Rome or here, this weekend is for John Paul II
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Whether in Rome or in San José, Catholics will get the chance to participate in religious ceremonies marking the ascension to sainthood of  former pope John Paul II.

The fast-track beatification is planned for Sunday in Rome, and the Embassy of Costa Rica is organizing a Roman Catholic Mass the day before for those Ticos and Ticas who may be there.

Meanwhile, in San José the Catholic station Radio Fides plans an 11-hour festival in the national stadium, an event that also will include a Mass.

The Costa Rican foreign ministry announced the events in Rome.  Hugo Barrantes, the archbishop of San José, will celebrate the Mass. He will be participating in the beatification ceremony the next day. The 4 p.m. Mass will be in the Iglesia Nacional de Argentina, according to the ministry.

René Castro, the minister of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, will be going to Rome, and the ministry said he will renew the invitation by President Laura Chinchilla for the current pope, Benedict XVI, to visit Costa Rica.

The long-serving John Paul is held in high regard by Costa Ricans, and many saw him when he visited from March 2 to 4, 1983.  John Paul held two doctorates and spoke Spanish and some 11 other languages fluently. He was the first pope to visit here.

Two verified miracles are required for Roman Catholic sainthood, and the Vatican has accepted the report of a French nun who said she was cured of Parkinson's, and a Polish boy whose kidney cancer went into remission.

The 84-year-old pope died April 2, 2005, and the Roman church usually requires at least five years to pass before even considering someone for
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sainthood. But an exception was made for John Paul.

When he was in Costa Rica, the pope visited the Hospital Nacional de Niños and also handicapped children. So there are many who believe he was instrumental to their recovery. Many also attended an open-air Mass at the now demolished national stadium.

The pope's 1983 Central American tour included Panamá, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and even Haiti, according to a schedule maintained by the Vatican.

The radio station plans to begin its celebration Saturday afternoon and continue until at least 6 a.m. Sunday. The beatification ceremony in Rome will be carried on the new stadium's giant television screens.  Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Van Tot, the Vatican representative in Costa Rica, will say a Mass at 9 a.m. following the transmission of the Mass at the Vatican.

John Paul will join the more than 2,500 saints canonized by the Roman church since about 990. The May 1 date is not an accident. This is the traditional celebration of Communist power in the former Soviet Union and in the pope's native Poland. He was one of the major public figures who led to the downfall of the Soviet regime.

John Paul also will be remembered for the efforts he made to solve differences between the Roman church and other faiths. He also has been recognized for saving Jews from the Nazis during World War II.

When he died, Costa Rica declared a four-day period of mourning and the flags flew at half staff.

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Security minister leaving
after year-long tenure

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Talking about the presence of foreign drug gangs here seems to be a recipe for a quick exit as minister of security.

The latest to be given the door is José María Tijerino, whose ouster was announced Monday.

Tijerino last week attributed the murder of a couple in Puntarenas to the feared México Sinaloa cartel. A few days later the minister was contradicted by higher ups in the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The firing called to mind the ouster of Fernando Berrocal from the same job just three years ago. He said there was infiltration in Costa Rican political circles by drug traffickers. Then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez let him go.

Tijerino also made the mistake of getting involved in the investigation of Rodrigo Arias by judicial prosecutors. He made a telephone call to one of the prosecutors, something he  said he regrets.

Taking his place will be Mario Zamora, the former immigration director who lately was a vice minister under Tijerino.  The job change will take place Sunday.

Both Tijerino and now Zamora talk of lack of resources. The security ministry contains the Fuerza Pública and the anti-drug police. Other investigations are done by judicial agents. And disposition of suspects is by the judiciary.

The 63-year-old Tijerino was considered a hard-liner when he took office a year ago. He is a former fiscal general.

However, the Laura Chinchilla administration has failed to outline a coherent security platform and the bulk of the emphasis has been on hiring more young policemen and putting them on the streets.

Tijerino also grew up in Nicaragua, the son of a citizen of that country and a Costa Rican mother. Some Costa Ricans thought, probably unjustly, that he showed weakness when Nicaraguan soldiers invaded the northern part of Costa Rica in October.

After a year of the Chinchilla administration, efforts are stalled to raise more money through taxation. A plan to improve a quick tax on casinos was withdrawn unexpectedly and without explanation. A so-called security proposal crafted for Ms. Chinchilla by local United Nations representatives was the object of ridicule.

Zamora many not have more success. He said Monday that he plans to implement high tech measures to crack down on crime, but he did not explain from where the money was coming. He spoke of GPS devices and electronic maps. Citizens talk of the absence of police at key locations.

Ms. Chinchilla issued a terse four-paragraph statement on the changeover and never did say why Tijerino was being replaced.

Two still are sought
by rescuers in Pacific

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rescue workers still were seeking two persons who vanished in the Pacific Ocean this weekend.

Álvaro Durán Ribas, 39, still was missing but his surfboard was recovered at Playa Guiones near Nosara on the far Pacific coast. In Playa Hermosa, still sought was Dennis Navarro, 32.

In San Fernando de Cutris searchers found the body of a 10-year-old boy with the last name of Rodríguez Benavidez. He vanished Sunday. He was among the 33 males and six females who died violently over the Easter week.

The Cruz Roja said its workers made 69 successful water rescues.

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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!

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 81
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Family victimized by train noise gets no relief in court
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Living near one of the rail line's grade crossings can be a nightmare.

The Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles has declined to install crossing gates, and every few weeks a train demolished a motor vehicle.

To keep that from happening train engineers are instructed to blow the horn loudly before each crossing. Such was the case in Barrio Otoya where a hotel owner hired crossing guards so that his guests could sleep while the train slide by noiselessly.

The train lines are expanding rapidly, and a San Pedro man went to the Sala IV constitutional court seeking a reduction in the noise he said was harming his 6-month-old daughter.

The man told magistrates that the sounds of the train are damaging the hearing of the infants ears and that there are
periodic sounds of horns from 6 a.m. The older diesel engines make the most noise, which the man said registered 96 decibels in his living room. He said the newer Spanish trains are quieter. The level of 96 decibels is similar to a hard rock band playing in the next room.

The San José-Heredia train or the San José-Curridabat route may cross more than a dozen roadways from start to destination. Each crossing means 30 seconds on the horn and more if traffic is blocking the way.

The man brought his case to the Ministerio de Salud, which declined to do anything because the horns are devices to prevent accidents. So the man brought his case to the constitutional court and sought help in getting the noise rules enforced.

The court declined to do so. It agreed with the health ministry. However, the high court did order the public officials concerned to take any action they can to institute security alternatives for the grade crossing.

Banishing termites becomes a good excuse for a dance
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Leave it to the French to turn a minor disaster into a night of celebration.

When termites invaded the historic structure that houses the main offices of Alliance Française, the cultural organization embarked on major renovations to the 115-year-old wood building in Barrio Amón.

The building is a national heritage site, but that fact was not recognized by the termites. Alliance officials became fully aware of the problem last year and had to replace some of the structure. Most of that replaced was not of the original historic building, they said.

However, in some cases tamarindo wood beams were imported from Nicaragua, said the organization. The work is not done yet. About another month is needed, but the termites are at the point of extermination.

The price tag is about 20 million colons or a bit more than $40,000. Several fundraisers have been held, but  Alliance Française now plans a big ball May 5 in the Antigua Aduana. The organization said it expects 1,000 couples to fill the giant building in east San José.

The event is being called the  Baile del Comején or
inssect dance

Part of the promotional flyer for the dance, but officials prefer that those who come leave their termites at home.

termite ball. Appropriately one of the groups that will provide a litany of Latin music is  Madera Nueva. Also playing will be Son Mayor and Eric Sánchez.

The event is being supported by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud and the Municipalidad de San José, as well as commercial sponsors. Dancing starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets, which are 5,000 colons per person, are available at the Barrio Amón location or at Alliance centers in La Sabana and Heredia.

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Psychiatrist and cattleman Fred Greiner remembered here

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fred Greiner was a man who should have been the subject of a newspaper feature story long before an obituary was needed. His family characterized him as husband, father, grandfather, psychiatrist, financial analyst, cattle rancher, real estate developer, world traveler and friend.

Friends would characterize him as the original expat Renaissance man. He was a physician and psychiatrist who called himself a grass farmer and a grazier. He died April 10. The following information was provided by the family:

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Fred Loranton Greiner, Sr., was born in Toledo, Ohio on March 14, 1937.  His highly-developed intellect and wide-ranging ambitions were shaped early in life by his father, an inventor, university professor, entrepreneur, and scientist who fled pre-war Germany to America.  Greiner excelled academically at an early age, especially at military school, where he says he learned discipline, and how to get more from the system by working with it rather than bucking it.  He graduated high school early, and went on to earn a medical degree at Emory University in 1961.
He then became an intern at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he met his first wife, Janelle.  Rather than beginning a residency program in medicine, Fred chose to first serve his country as an Air Force flight surgeon stationed in Bitburg, Germany.  He flew missions throughout Europe and the Mideast, serving on a rapid response recovery team for the Mercury and Gemini space flights.  He also won commendations and awards for inventing in-flight surgical equipment, and for an emergency medical evacuation of King Idris of Libya.
After military service, Fred returned to Atlanta, entered a residency program in psychiatry, began a successful practice, and raised three children. He became president of the Georgia Psychiatric Association in 1978, and frequently served as a court appointed expert on medicines.

In the 1970’s, Greiner balanced his professional life with a passion for fishing with family and friends, and he set many light-tackle records along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Amelia Island areas.
During this time, Greiner also began developing property, which eventually included apartment buildings, condominiums, and commercial shopping centers.  At this point, Greiner decided that a better understanding of economics would serve him well in his business ventures.  Like everything else that he focused his attention on, Greiner became an expert economist and financial analyst, a skill that not only helped him succeed in property development, but also in stock market investing.
In the early 1980s, Greiner visited Costa Rica, an adventure that was to shape the remainder of his life.  He became an expert grass farmer and cattleman, and built several large cattle ranches in the beautiful tropics.  For the next 30 years, he refined the genetics of his cattle and grasses with skill and accomplishment that industry experts admire.
This tribute is from Loray Greiner, one of the three children:

Most people who knew my father will remember him for the enormous amount of knowledge he had acquired on an enormous number of subjects.  He was the ultimate student.  Where most people might take a casual interest in something, my father would immerse himself in the subject, study the research literature, correspond with experts until he eventually became an expert himself.  It was amazing to watch him in conversation, unless of course, you were trying to win an argument against him!

His love affair with Costa Rica, its people, horses, and cattle, began a little more than 30 years ago, when he visited the country as part of a medical convention.  He quickly setup a residence in La Garita, and became a member of the Asociacion Costarricense de Criadores de Caballos de Pura Raza Espanola.  With the help of his close friend and master trainer, Felix Rodriguez Paniagua, Greiner established stables in La Garita and raised numerous award-winning horses, including at least one Costa Rican Grand Champion.

In his early years here, Greiner took up dry rice farming, and was a quick study.  But then the government fixed the price of rice below his cost, and refused to let him export it.  Rather than give in to the government, he burned the rice and switched to cattle.

Greiner started with Brahman cattle, like everyone else.  But being a perfectionist and having an inquisitive mind, he began to search for ways to improve his cattle operation.  He studied research on grasses in all the tropical regions of the world, imported several species for experimentation and eventually developed highly-productive pastures from a mix of African grasses called Bracharia.
Fred Greiner
Fred Loranton Greiner, Sr.

He also wanted to make a better piece of beef.  So he experimented with various cross breeds, and eventually developed a Brahman-Angus cross that gave the best of both.  Unlike the pure European breeds, his "Brangus" cattle thrived in the hot tropics, had the big chest and tender meat of the Angus, and the big Brahman rump.

Greiner was also an early adopter and proponent of environmentally-friendly practices, back when it was still a novel idea.  He discouraged the use of granular fertilizer, which kills the beneficial micro organisms in the soil.  He steadfastly refused to use hormones on his cattle.  He virtually eliminated the need for parasite medications by studying the life cycle of parasites, and simply making sure that the cattle were moved to another pasture when the parasites hatched out of the manure.  He also imported environmentally friendly (and cost effective) gravity-fed water wheel pumps to deliver water to his cattle.  In short, he understood the importance of the soil and grass, which most cattlemen simply take for granted.  When you asked him to describe what he did, he wouldn't say that he was a cattle rancher.  He said he was a grass farmer and a grazier.

Greiner's biggest hope was to eventually reverse the long, dramatic decline in Costa Rica's national cattle herd and to help the country develop a name for quality beef.  He worked hard to change the monopoly pricing by the slaughter houses, which squeeze cattle producers' margins and refuse to pay a premium for quality beef.  Unfortunately, not much has changed at the slaughter houses, and Greiner's cattle operation sells its beef direct to Auto Mercado, and will soon start exporting to Asia.  But Greiner's achievements are still here as a shining example of a better and more successful path into the future.  Let's hope that his three decades of Costa Rican experiments and learning are not lost.

In the 1990’s, Fred met and fell in love with his wife, Gaylyn.  Together, they travelled extensively and eventually established residence between Hutchison Island, Florida, Costa Rica, and Lugano, Switzerland.
For the past four years, Fred has battled polycystic kidney disease and was to receive a kidney from Gaylyn Turpin Greiner.  Unfortunately, his physical strength failed him before that could happen.  He passed peacefully and comfortably in Gaylyn’s arms with family by his side, exactly as he wanted.

In addition to his wife, Greiner is survived by his children and grandchildren: Loray Greiner and wife, Susanne van Laarhoven, and their children Nicolas and Isabel Greiner, of Bangkok, Thailand; Kathryn Chartrand Greiner Koth and her husband, Jeff, and their children Dalton and Wyatt Koth of Peachtree City, Georgia; and KaiVan Nelson Greiner and his wife, Kelly, and their children Sutherlan and Nelson Greiner of Birmingham, Alabama.
He is also survived by his stepdaughters, their spouses and grandchildren: Christi and Johnny Howell of Helena, Georgia, and Lucinda and Seth Cantrell, and their children, Cari and Luci Cantrell of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
He is also survived by his brother, Albert Greiner, and wife, Jola; two nieces, Amy and Lexie, and nephew, Tony.
The family is planning a celebratory memorial service.  The date will be announced and family and friends will be notified in the near future.
Anyone who wants to make a charitable donation in honor of Fred Greiner, can consider either the Polycystic Kidney Foundation (9221 Ward Parkway, Suite 400, Kansas City, MO 64114-3367) or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, earmarked for research purposes (The MS Life Center, 1117 Perimeter Center West, Suite E101, Atlanta, GA 30338 Phone: 678-672-1000).

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 81

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Investment funds blamed
for soaring petroleum prices

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the price of crude oil rises on world markets, complaints from consumers, industries and politicians are also on the rise. Some blame the Organization of Petroleum Export Countries, the cartel known as OPEC, while others blame unrest in the Middle East and North Africa and still others blame market speculators.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has formed a Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force Working Group to look into possible fraud in energy markets, but the price may be driven more by investment trends.

Energy analysts see some of the usual factors driving oil prices this year, including increased demand in rapidly developing nations like India and China, restrictions on drilling in some areas like the eastern coast of the United States and unrest in oil-producing countries like Libya.  But petroleum has also become a favored asset for investors looking for future profits and their dollars sometimes distort the market.

Most investment money these days, from individual investors as well as from institutions, charitable groups and even governments, is now in various types of managed funds. Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service says the managers of those funds can have a big impact on commodity prices, including the price of oil.

"Probably no one is breaking any rules, but a couple of key strokes by a money manager can move millions and billions of dollars into a market, and affect the price of something which is a life blood for consumers and people on the margins of society all over the world," said Kloza.

He says governments can't eliminate all speculation from the market, but that some kind of regulation is needed, especially outside the United States.

"I think unfettered is unforgivable and oil futures markets, particularly offshore, are largely unfettered," he said.

Speaking at a meeting in Kuwait, OPEC Secretary General Abdalla El-Badri said world oil prices are now being driven more by speculation than supply and demand.  Kloza and other analysts do not believe speculation plays a large role in the price rise, but they are not putting all the blame on OPEC either.

Saudi Arabia, the OPEC member nation with the world's largest reserves, has cut back on some of its production, thereby limiting supply and driving up prices, according to OPEC critics. But Tom Kloza believes OPEC leaders themselves are concerned about high prices.

"I think that many of the moderates, the doves within OPEC, are very uncomfortable with where prices are heading, because if we keep heading at this pace, we will open the door for some alternative technologies that would otherwise need subsidies or some sort of government give outs," said Kloza.

Some non-OPEC countries, particularly China, may be playing a big role in driving up oil prices and not just through their demand, according to Peter Zeihan, vice president of analysis at the global intelligence company Stratfor in Austin, Texas. He agrees with Kloza that investment in oil is the key factor, but he says the increase in money available to invest is also important.

"Back in the year 2000 the investing community as a whole made up about 10 percent of long positions in the oil market and now they are up to 40 percent," said Zeihan. "So you add that many new players and that much new money, but you do not add any more than a 10 percent increase in oil supply and, of course, you are going to have higher prices."

While that investment money comes from all over the world, Zeihan says one of the most significant contributors has been China, which takes in dollars from the United States and other nations that import its products. He says China has put much of that money into oil futures.

But the Stratfor analyst says the fundamental laws of supply and demand always win out eventually and then, as happened in 1998, 2001, and, most recently and dramatically in 2008, the price drops.

"Sooner or later the fundamentals are going to overpower the investor fervor," he said. "It happens every few years. Eventually the fundamentals will overpower any exuberance on the market and you will have a sudden, rapid sustained price drop over the course of a few weeks."

Zeihan is not predicting when that will happen. In the meantime, he sees signs that higher prices are encouraging more conservation and driving sales of fuel-efficient cars, but he does not see the development of an alternative to oil any time soon.

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Haitian government delays
certification of election

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Haitian officials have delayed the certification of results from last month's runoff legislative elections.

Haiti's electoral commission said Monday that it would hold off on publishing the results for 19 legislative races "for the sake of transparency and in the best interests of the nation."

Last week, the government reversed the outcomes of 18 legislative races in final results.  The United Nations and major donor nations to Haiti, including the United States, have questioned whether there was fraud in the final results.  The U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince has said it found no explanation for the reversals and that the incumbent party benefited from those reversals in all but two cases.  

The new results gave Unity, the political party of outgoing President Rene Preval, 46 of 99 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and an absolute majority in the Senate with 17 of 30 seats.

President-elect Michel Martelly has called for an investigation and urged the international community not to recognize the results.  The outcome was met with outbreaks of violence that left at least one person dead.

Martelly's fledging Reypons Peysan party won only three parliamentary seats.  The former entertainer is scheduled to be inaugurated May 14.

Wilileaks releases target
Guantanamo evaluations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks has released another trove of U.S. classified documents, this time dealing with the military’s detention facility for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The first batch of reports, reported by several U.S. and foreign news outlets, deal with information provided by the detainees under interrogation and the future threat that they might pose. The military also singles out links to two allied intelligence agencies as possible terrorist indicators.

Most of the latest published WikiLeaks documents are what might be called detainee personnel files. Labeled "Secret-Noforn" - meaning not to be shared with foreign intelligence agencies - they are primarily evaluations of who might be a future terrorist threat.  But there are also some other supporting documents, including one potentially explosive one regarding terrorist support groups.

One lengthy document, titled "Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants," provides guidance to interrogators and other officials on what signs to look for in a potential terrorist.   A list of organizations labeled "associate forces" of al-Qaida or the Taliban includes Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, the ISI, and Yemen intelligence.  Both have received millions of dollars in U.S. aid to fight terrorism.

The ISI has long been criticized in some quarters for alleged links to the Afghan Taliban, but Pakistan has repeatedly denied the charge.   Parts of Yemen, which has recently been rocked by political instability, have been havens for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of the original group.

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