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(506) 2223-1327               San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 14, 2010,  Vol. 10, No. 94         E-mail us
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Taxi drivers told they must have child seats for kids
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Taxi drivers must provide booster seats for children, the Sala IV constitutional court has ruled.

The Poder Judicial released the decision Thursday, and taxi drivers and owners of transportation companies are still trying to figure out what they have to do.

The court said that the taxi drivers have to comply with a provision in the new traffic law that says children up to age 12 have to use a seat that is appropriate for their age and size.

This means that taxi drivers will have to provide a selection of seats.

The decision came in a case in which a father, identified by the last names of Rojas López, brought an action against the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. The father said that he wanted to bring his two daughters, 6 and 3, to the Hospital Nacional de Niños but that taxi drivers refused to carry the children because of the law.

The man said the law infringed on his rights and the rights of his daughters. The court did not agree and did not rule for the father. But it did order the authorities to enforce the law.

The law would seem to apply equally to the
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porteadores, who make trips on contract despite not having a taxi license.

The traffic law that went into effect March 1 calls for a 293,400-colon fine for those who do not keep youngsters in a special chair. That's $574 at today's exchange rate. The fine is the same for persons riding without seatbelts fastened.

The Poder Judicial noted that youngsters less than one year and less than 10 kilos, some 22 pounds, must ride in a security seat that requires that they travel backwards.


Anti-crime volunteer becomes a victim himself
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Dominical-area man is in critical condition in Hospital CIMA after being attacked by two or three men.

Attendants at Hospital CIMA in Escazú gave the condition report Thursday afternoon. The man was identified as Ben Vaughn. An e-mail message from a friend said he was serving as a volunteer on a community watch program when attacked.
Felíx Araya, the Cruz Roja driver who took Vaughn to the Cortez Hospital, said that he had major injuries to the body and head. Police agencies in the southern zone and in San José had no additional information available on the attack.

The hospital attendant said that Vaughn was accompanied in his stay there by a family member.

The attack is believed to have happened Tuesday in Escalares, a community near Dominical.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 14, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 94

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

Quintas del Toro
Spotsmens
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Real estate agents and services

MARGARET SOHN
with Great Estates of Costa Rica

20 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce

samargo@racsa.co.cr
info@realtorcostarica.com
www.realtorcostarica.com
(506)  2220-3729 &  (506)
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(506)  2232-5016 (phone/fax)
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Collection services

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Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorneys at Law and real estate brokers
Relocation services, Wedding Planning
Greg Kearney
*Investments  *Corporations
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Phone/Fax: 2290-8117, 8841-0007
New location on Rohrmoser Blvd.
 Phone: (506) 2232-1014


Burke Fiduciary, S.A.
Registered Escrow and Legal Services
Glenda Burke
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Thomas Burke, LL.M

Core services: real estate due diligence, real estate escrow services, residency status, business corporations, estate planning. English, Spanish, German and French spoken.

More about us at www.burkecr.com
Ph. 011 506 2267-6645
info@burkecr.com 

The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the  General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is not an authorization  to operate. The supervision of SUGEF refers to compliance with the capital legitimization requirements of Law No. 8204. SUGEF does not supervise the
business carried out by this company, nor its security, stability or solvency.
Persons contracting its services do so for their own account and at their own risk.
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Appraisers

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ask Angela Jiménez
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• certified appraisals
  
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Residency experts

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Tel: (323) 255-6116
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Accountants

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Hearing consultant

English-speaking hearing consultant
We can professionally evaluate your hearing problem at Clinica Dinamarca off Paseo Colón or at Hospital CIMA.
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• American hearing consultant from D.C. & Atlanta
• Nine clinics including Hospital CIMA
• Authorized provider  to the U.S. veterans
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We service the U.S. veterans/Foreign Medical Program. Please contact me, Allan, at allan9000@gmail.com or at 8891-8989.
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Dentistry

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Dental Implants $500, Crowns $250

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6094-xxxxx
New organic food market
plans its initial opening


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two organizations say they are starting a Saturday farmer's market on San Jose's north side.

The market opens for the first day Saturday at 9 a.m., the groups said. Sales will run until 2 p.m., they added.

The location is in Barrio Aranjuez some 400 meters west of Colegio México or 300 meters north of Hospital Calderón Guardia. The organizations are Grupo Armonía and the Asociación Amantes de lo Orgánico. They are promising agricultural products on sale, crafts sales, prepared foods, a small movie theater, a playground, training workshops and secure parking.

The organization said that those who sell must keep on display a certification of the organic production of their fruits and vegetables. There also are penalties for sellers who use incorrect scales or try to pass off organic products that are not certified.
The organizations have created a Web page.

Another farmer's market is Saturdays in Plaza Víquez south of the downtown.

Obama names pollster
for USAID Latin post


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

President Barack Obama has announced his intention to nominate Mark Feierstein as assistant administrator for Latin American and the Caribbean for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Feierstein is a principal and vice president at the international polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, the White House said, adding that he has overseen public opinion research in more than 30 countries.

Feierstein served as director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s global elections office. He also worked in the State Department as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.  Prior to that, he was director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, overseeing programs to strengthen democratic institutions in developing countries.  Feierstein is fluent in Spanish, the White House said.

He received his bachelor's magna cum laude from Tufts University and his master's from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, according to his official biography.

Siquirres municipal offices
are targets of judicial raids


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors and judicial agents raided three offices connected to the Municipalidad de Siquirres Thursday evening, but no one was detained.

The Poder Judicial said that the raids were part of an investigation into a possible case of illegal enrichment, in other words bribery or skimming from public funds.

More details on the case are expected today.

Ballestero plane case shelved
but prosecutors notified


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones has filed without further action the case of Maureen Ballestero Vargas, the legislative deputy who took a ride to Liberia on a security ministry plane. She attended a political event while there.

The woman no longer is a legislative deputy because her four-year term has expired. Tribunal officials noted that she prolonged the case by filing appeals to the Sala IV constitutional court.

The woman was a member of the ruling Partido Liberación Nacional while in the legislature. The tribunal in a prepared release said it was turning over the case to prosecutors.

Ms. Ballestero flew to Liberia because she said she needed to retrieve her passport to leave for an official international trip the next day. But she also dropped in on a local convention of her party, which brought complaints from minority parties in the legislature and resulted in the investigation.

Train services extended

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expat motorists east of Universidad Latina better have their eyes open early today because passenger train service is being extended into Curridabat to the Indoor Club.

However, there are few road markings to remind drivers that the trackage is now in use. Test runs resulted in some near misses between trains and cars.

Like the Universidad Latina schedule, Curridabat trains will just run in peak hours of the morning and evening.

Passengers can ride from Curridabat to Pavas via the Estación al Pacifico.

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A.M. Costa Rica guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching
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.

Newspages
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.

Classifieds
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.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

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

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.


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Earthquake sensor network
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica/Universidad Nacional graphic      
Yellow dots represent stations already in service. Red dots are proposed locations
Earthquake tracking is going digital and with GPS coverage
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Enthusiasm is obvious among Costa Rica’s top earthquake experts for the new equipment to expand and modernize the country’s seismic sensor network. Once it’s finished, the system will be “if not the best in Latin America, one of the best,” according to Juan Segura, head of the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica.

Analog equipment is being replaced with digital sensors, geographical coverage is expanding and satellite technology brings an extra element to tracking earth movements.

The network under construction will have 32 stations around the country, all with seismographs and real-time data transmission. Each station is on a solid base reaching bedrock and powered by solar cells. Communication with computers in Heredia is by internet where feasible, with radio connections for the more remote sites. The older system used radio communication with limited range.

Since the precise location of a seismic event is determined by triangulation, the more sensors available the better. The present system is biased towards the central volcanic range near the metropolitan areas, while new stations will fill in gaps.

Despite its inaccessibility from the Costa Rican side, one sensor will be at the tip of the Burica peninsula at the southernmost point in the country for coverage of offshore areas.

Some of the older system components dating back as far as 1984 detect a low range of tremor frequencies, as little as 1-5 Hz, said Ronnie Quintero, head of the seismology department. The new accelerometers can measure from 50 Hz to .1 Hz. This wide range is useful for the study of small tremblers that have to do with plate movement and volcanic activity, not just those with destructive potential.

Another type of sensor uses GPS satellite signals to measure horizontal surface movement, and discerns displacement in millimeters, tracking the buildup of stress that can lead to a seismic event. Rudolfo van der Laat, specialist in earth movements, said that as a very precise reference point the
Old style sensor
A.M. Costa Rica photos/Dennis Rogers
This 1970s era seismograph was used to measure  earthquake aftershocks.

Modern sensor
This satellite sensor can measure ground movements to the millimeter.

sensors also can be used as a benchmark for regular surveying of land boundaries. The institute also has a
surveying transit which can be installed on fixed bases to measure changes between distant targets.

These $20,000 sensors use not only the United States military GPS system but also the Russian system that has just been completed.


Police detain 14 persons at San Pedro student rampage
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

High school students in San Pedro, upset over dress regulations, engaged police in a two-hour confrontation Thursday.

Some 12 juveniles and two adults were detained. The Poder Judicial said that the 12 minors were set free later Thursday.

All are students at the Colegio José Joaquín Vargas Calvo.

The two adults are being handled by a local prosecutor.

The students came prepared to demonstrate Thursday, and the gathering quickly degenerated into lawlessness. The students are unhappy that the administration has prohibited body piercings, miniskirts and certain types of pants. Like most public school students, those at the institution wear uniforms, but the prohibited garments were modifications of the standard uniform.
Students hurled rocks and homemade bombs at police and buildings adjacent to the entry to the school. Not all students participated in the confrontation.

Police used mob control tactics and shields to eventually breakup the demonstration and detain the 14 persons.

Several persons, including a student onlooker, were injured. A television vehicle had its windshield destroyed. The school is not far from the Universidad de Costa Rica.

In an unrelated case, the juvenile prosecutors were processing two students from the Liceo de Costa Rica who are suspected of throwing rocks at a rival school.

Jo Stuart is on vacation

Columnist Jo Stuart is on vacation this week. Her column will resume next week.




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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 14, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 94

Escazú Christian Fellowship
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Guoadalupe Missionary Baptist Church


Paseo Colon work continues
burying electrical cables

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz said that the sidewalks on Paseo Colon are being ripped up to put the power cables underground.

This is a continuation of the work that has been going on in San José for four years to bury the utility lines. Much of the center city now has underground power cables. However, many telephone and cable lines are still on the old utility poles. The power company said that daytime work is restricted to sidewalks. Any time the lines have to cross the streets the work is reserved for evening hours when there is less traffic.

The long effort has generated friction between the power company and Amnet, the cable television and Internet provider. In an astounding decision, Amnet cut off its cable customers downtown and abandoned the business to its competition Cable Tica, which quickly began putting cables underground.
Paseo Colon work
Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz photo
Steel conduits are being installed under sidewalks



Researchers demonstrate that seaweed species can kill coral

By the Georgia Institute of Technology news service

Field studies have shown for the first time that several common species of seaweeds in both the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans can kill corals upon contact using chemical means.

While competition between seaweed and coral is just one of many factors affecting the decline of coral reefs worldwide, this chemical threat may provide a serious setback to efforts aimed at repopulating damaged reefs.  Seaweeds are normally kept in check by herbivorous fish, but in many areas overfishing has reduced the populations of these plant-consumers, allowing seaweeds to overpopulate coral reefs.

A study documenting the chemical effects of seaweeds on corals was published Monday in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Teasely Endowments at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Between 40 and 70 percent of the seaweeds we studied killed corals,” said Mark Hay, a professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech.  “We don’t know how significant this is compared to other problems affecting coral, but we know this is a growing problem.  For reefs that have been battered by human use or overfishing, the presence of seaweeds may prevent natural recovery from happening at all.”

Coral reefs are declining worldwide, and scientists studying the problem had suspected that proliferation of seaweed was part of the cause, perhaps by crowding out the coral or by damaging it physically.

Using racks of coral being transplanted as part of re-population efforts, Hay and graduate student Douglas Rasher compared the fate of corals from two different species when they were placed next to different types of seaweed common around Fijian reefs in the Pacific and Panamanian reefs in the Caribbean.  They planted the seaweeds next to coral being transplanted and also placed plastic plants next to some of the coral to simulate the effects of shading and mechanical damage.  Other coral in the racks had neither seaweeds nor plastic plants near them.
killer seaweed
The green seaweed Chlorodesmis fastigiati is shown growing on a reef. This seaweed damages the coral it contacts, as shown by the absence of corals immediately adjacent to it.

The researchers revisited the coral two days, 10 days and 20 days later.  In as little as two days, corals in contact with some seaweed species bleached and died in areas of direct contact.  In other cases, the effects took a full 20 days to appear. For some seaweed species, no damaging effects were noted during the 20-day period. 

Ultimately, as much as 70 percent of the seaweed species studied turned out to have harmful effects, but only when they were in direct contact with the coral.

To confirm that chemical factors were responsible, Hay and Rasher extracted chemicals from the seaweeds and from only the surfaces of the seaweeds.  They then applied both types of chemicals to corals.

The effects confirmed that chemicals from both the surface of certain seaweeds and extracts from those entire plants killed corals.

In the Caribbean, five of the seven seaweeds studied caused bleaching of the coral, while in the Pacific, three of eight species studied caused the effect.



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Medical vacations in Costa Rica


Nicaraguan wind generators
sold to large power firm


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Arctas Capital Group, L.P., said Thursday that it has sold its 47.5 percent joint controlling interest in the Amayo I and Amayo II wind projects in Nicaragua to AEI, one of the largest emerging markets power and gas companies.

AEI, together with its partner Centrans, a regional energy and shipping company based in Guatemala, have increased their joint holdings in Amayo to 95 percent with local partners owning the remaining 5 percent of each project. The amount of the transaction is undisclosed, but the two-phase Amayo project represents an investment of approximately $150 million, among the largest privately developed energy investments in Central America.

David Haug, managing director of the Houston, Texas,-based Arctas, said the sale is significant because even in a challenging region in the midst of a global financial slowdown, Arctas was able to achieve its objective of attracting a world class owner of emerging market power projects, enabling the firm to continue to deploy capital in new development efforts.

"Nicaragua may surprise people with the strong investment fundamentals compared to other emerging markets in addition to the fantastic wind resource and government enthusiasm for renewables," he said.

Amayo is the largest wind plant in operation in Central America and the only one to be completed outside of Costa Rica. It will provide approximately 8 percent of the total power consumed in Nicaragua.

The country now joins Denmark, Portugal and Spain as one of the top five countries that generate power from wind. Arctas and Centrans brought on-line the first 40 megawatt phase of Amayo in early 2009 and the second 23 megawatt in April.

Located on the shores of Lake Nicaragua south of Rivas and 11 kilometers north of the Costa Rican border, Amayo enjoys one of the best wind resources in the North American continent, the firm said. Amayo will displace more than 400,000 barrels of imported fuel oil per year and reduce around 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, Arctas estimated.

Despite the difficult financial markets and the cancellation of many projects in the United States and Europe during 2008 and 2009, the second 23 megawatt phase was completed in 14 months from start of permitting to full commercial operation, thought to be a record for a wind project anywhere, the company said.

Nicaragua suffers from high electricity prices due to the high cost of imported fuel oil used to produce most of the country's electric power. The Amayo project has helped lower electricity prices for the country in addition to providing environmental benefits, Arctas said. Unlike wind projects in the United States and Europe, Amayo does not receive government price subsidies, yet is currently selling power at a price more than 40 percent lower than the average wholesale spot price over the past four years.


For your international reading pleasure:

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 14, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 94


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strike ends with accord


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The La Gaceta official government newspaper is supposed to be published today after central government officials and labor leaders ended a strike at the Imprenta Nacional.

Workers at the government printing facility had been on strike for a week over payoffs when they leave or retire. The workers are represented by the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos, and its secretary general, Albino Vargas, was at the bargaining table.

The government was represented by the new vice minister of Gobernación, Mario Zamora, and Jorge Vargas, director general of the printing facility.

The government wanted to give those who leave a maximum of one month's pay for up to eight years worked. The current rule is a month's pay for 20 years. The union agreed to accept a gradual reduction in that number to 12 months for 12 years. The payoff, called cesantía, is entrenched in the nation's labor law, but most private firms do not pay more than five years.

The government agreed not to take reprisals against strikers  It also agreed to make the printing facility more competitive. Employees agreed to make up the time lost.  About 150 persons work there.

In addition to the La Gaceta, the facility prints the election ballots and a host of other official documents. Laws and decrees are not official until they are published in La Gaceta.

The government took steps earlier in the week to publish the Gaceta on the Internet and did so with facilities out of the reach of strikers. There are legal questions if the Internet-only publication meets the requirements of Costa Rican law.


Police find marijauna crop
in same place as last year

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The marijuana harvest will be a little short this year in the southern zone. Fuerza Pública officers chopped down and destroyed nearly 8,000 marijuana plants in La Danta de Coquito, Changuena de Buenos Aires de Puntarenas.

This is the same tract where 24,000 marijuana plants were uprooted last year. Police said the area where the marijuana was planted is hard to find and hard to reach.





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