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(506) 2223-1327                      Published Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 97                           Email us
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Mar Vista

Legendary Honduran lost city discovered by air survey
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The mystery is not gone from Central America.

Honduran authorities said Tuesday that a high tech laser survey disclosed a lost city deep in the eastern jungles.

This is believed to be the legendary Ciudad Blanca or Ciudad Perdida.  The location is in the  Mosquitia or Moskitia zone in the eastern part of the country.

The announcement came from Áfrico Madrid, minister of Interior y Población. There has been no on-the-ground searches of the site, but the ruins, if they are pre-Columbian, could be Mayan or from an earlier population.

The air search device is called Lidar for Light Detection and Ranging. Honduras spent $1.5 million for the project.

Many of the famous Mayan cites, like Copan, are in the western part of the county not far from Guatemala. The Moskitia has been called the Central American Amazon because of its jungles and lack of modern conveniences. The area runs south and continues into Nicaragua.

Steve Helkins, a U.S. archaeologist, is involved in the project. He gave a briefing Monday.

The popular impression is that great archaeological discoveries are things of the past in Central America. Long gone are the days when John Lloyd Stephens and draftsman Frederick Catherwood could wander through the jungle and discover and catalogue new sites. That was in the middle of the 19th century. Now luxury hotels operate in sight of many ignored Mayan ruins on the Mexican Riviera.

In Cholula, México, tantalizing worked stone walls stick out from hillsides being used as trash dumps. The general public has been cautioned to stay away and leave excavation work to the experts.

The sentiment against so-called pot hunters works both ways. Archaeological sites are preserved, but the paid experts have little time for general surveys. Their interests are narrow.

Amateur archaeologists have made great discoveries, including that of the ancient city of Troy. Many of the holdings of the Museo de Jade in San José come from private researchers.

There probably are many great archaeological sites awaiting discovery, even in Costa Rica, but the public generally is cautioned against seeking them out. Costa Rican law weights against private searches, not to mention the bugs, snakes and other surprises lurking in a place like the Moskitia.

Costa Rica has had its share of air surveys for archaeology. Long-hidden native foot trails were made known by NASA overflights in 1984. They were estimated to be as old as 2,500 years. But the native populations left no stone monuments or lost cities.

Tourists and even residents can share in the
archaeological presentation
Honduran Ministerio de Interior
y Población photo
Steve Helkins describes the find

Stela D at Copan
Frederick Catherwood sketch
 Maybe the new lost city will hold finds such as the
 famous Stela D from Copan that was sketched in
 the middle of the 19th century.

excitement of discovery by going to the
much-underrated Monumento Nacional Guayabo near Cartago. There is a lost city visitors can drive to and avoid the bugs and snakes. The impressive
drainage systems and stone works are open to the public, but there are many acres that have not been excavated. The problem boils down to money.

That also is true for educating the next generation of those who would be Indiana Jones.

A fund drive to fix up a mobile museum centered on Guayabo has fallen short.

Bob Oldham, executive director of the Fundacion Tayutic, said that only 10 percent of the needed $10,000 has been collected. However, he promised the project would continue. The idea is to have a bus filled with artifacts and interactive presentations about the past to bring to school children.

Oldham, a volunteer, has had museum experience. However, the fund drive ended at midnight. The results are HERE!

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Our reader's opinion
Chicken fighters should
fight it out themselves

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Those who favor chicken fighting make a valid point when they assert that their "sport" is one of long-standing tradition in many parts of the world.

The same can be said, however, of bear baiting, bull fighting, dog fighting, bare knuckle boxing, gladiatorial fights, Siamese fighting fish fighting, cobra-mongoose fighting, and loosing lions on Christians. And over the years evolved societies have all come to realize the inhumanity of all those "sports" and more. The attitude of the chicken fighters fails to account for the suffering of the animals involved, but there's a fix for that.

Chickens are fully sentient beings. They feel anxiety and pain just as humans do. They suffer just like us. To fully understand this "sport" from the chicken's point of view, those who advocate legalizing this sport need to experience what the chicken goes through on a visceral level, so let's (briefly) legalize fights to the death between humans. The metal spurs the chickens wear could be replaced with knives, and the two could have it out. Let two humans (chicken fighting advocates, of course) fight it out to the death a few times and then maybe the supporters' attitudes would change.
David C. Murray
Grecia, Alajuela

Climate poll statement
said to be incorrect

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In an article May 14 regarding the idea that global warming is doubted by some, this was mentioned in the article;  "Americans who do not trust climate science were especially aware of and influenced by recent shifts in world temperature, and 2011 was tied for the coolest of the last 11 years."

First, that is not true, and the big picture is the climate is getting considerably warmer in the past decade and over the past centuries as well.

The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000. The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record (2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C). This underscores the emphasis scientists put on the long-term trend of global temperature rise. Because of the large natural variability of climate, scientists do not expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year. However, they do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades.

2011 marks the 35th consecutive year, since 1976, that the yearly global temperature was above average. The warmest years on record were 2010 and 2005, which were 0.64°C (1.15°F) above average.

Separately, the 2011 global average land surface temperature was the eighth warmest on record. The 2011 global average ocean temperature was 0.40°C (0.72°F) above the 20th century average of 16.1°C (60.9°F) and ranked as the 11th warmest on record.

Henry Kantrowitz
Punta Leona

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.
Click a story for the summary

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on archived pages.

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Dumping U.S. citizenship is a numbers game for some
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who is set to earn billions when the social networking giant goes public on the U.S. stock market Friday, has drawn criticism for renouncing his U.S. citizenship in a move that could save him millions in taxes. The Singapore resident still will end up paying fees, but experts say the benefits of expatriation for Saverin, and many others, may outweigh the costs.

Saverin’s stake in the company is estimated at nearly $4 billion. As a U.S. citizen, he would have been subject to a capital gains tax of about 15 percent, or $600 million.

By giving up his U.S. passport, he’ll avoid that fee, but that doesn’t mean he won’t pay any taxes in what will be the biggest initial public offering of an Internet company in history.

Saverin, and every other income earner who renounces U.S. citizenship, is subject to an exit tax on all of the assets he owned before expatriating. Just how much he’ll pay is up for debate, according to Michael Graetz, a tax professor at Columbia University in New York.

“The question is when his renunciation of citizenship is effective, and what was the value of that stock at that time. He renounced his citizenship in September, and so he’ll claim that the value was significantly less than the value of the stock on the open market because he had such a large block of stock that he couldn’t have sold it privately,” Graetz explained.

Saverin likely will battle out the valuation of his stock with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. That court battle apparently is worth it to Saverin in the long-run. His spokesman, Tom Goodman, says the billionaire has found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore, which doesn’t have a capital gains tax.

Goodman said the move to Singapore was not to avoid taxes.

“He has invested in Asian, U.S. and European companies. He also plans to invest in Brazilian and global companies that have strong interests in entering the Asian markets.  Accordingly, it made the most sense for him to use Singapore as a home base,” he said in a press statement.

The countries where those companies are based could charge some withholding taxes, but Saverin is not obligated to pay taxes to Singapore for income earned overseas. The Brazilian-born businessman won’t be paying taxes in his home country, either. The United States is the only major economy that taxes its citizens, wherever they are in the world, not just its residents — a practice that began to raise money during the American Civil War of the 19th century.

Saverin’s story, now made infamous by the Oscar-winning film “The Social Network,” is the stuff of American dreams. The son of a wealthy Brazilian businessman, he moved to the United States as a child to escape the threat of being kidnapped for ransom. Saverin became a U.S. citizen, and attended Harvard University, where he and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg hammered out plans for what would become the most popular social networking site in the world.

A falling out with Zuckerberg led to his removal from Facebook in 2005, which sparked a major legal battle that
Eduardo Savarin on Facebook
Eduardo Savarin on Facebook

resulted in him owning about 4 percent of the company.

His decision to leave the United States has stirred ire from critics like tech blogger David Gewirtz, who slammed Saverin for how he played the system.

“Going so far as to renounce the incredible gift of citizenship we gave to this man, and by doing so, saved him from kidnap gangs in his native country, that’s below reprehensible,” he wrote on his blog, ZDNet Government. “Justice would be to take away his stock benefits if he renounces his citizenship. Justice would be to block him from raking in all that cash if he’s not willing to pay his fair share.”

Saverin’s move is not against the law. He is committing tax avoidance, not tax evasion, according to Reuven Avi-Yonah, the director of the University of Michigan’s International Tax Program.

“It’s clearly legal. Congress passed this law in 2008, that said that if you are a U.S. citizen living overseas, you are permitted to relinquish your citizenship and pay an exit tax,” he said.
Before there was an exit tax, Avi-Yonah says expatriates had a prolonged financial commitment to the U.S.

“You had to continue to pay taxes if you were a U.S. citizen for 10 years, unless you could prove to the United States that the reason you expatriated was not because of taxes. And low and behold, everybody was able to prove that they expatriated not because of taxes but for some other reason,” he said.

Avi-Yonah says before the law was passed, people felt it was unpatriotic to renounce, but now it’s just a matter of calculating the price.

“Congress put a price on it, and if the price is good enough, then you pay the price,” he said.

Saverin is among 1,780 people who renounced their U.S. citizenship in 2011, a massive jump from the 235 who expatriated in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury. Whether that number climbs, Avi-Yonah says, is not just a matter of money. Living in the U.S. is pretty desirable, he says, and even those who want to live outside the country still value a U.S. passport.

It’s a connection you can’t get online.

Slide blocks highway in first hour of unofficial rainy season
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What would the unofficial start of the rainy season be without an initial landslide?

The slide was about two miles south of the Río Sucio bridge on Ruta 32, the Braulio Carrillo highway north of San José.

No one was hurt but the highway was blocked. A truck loaded with bananas was caught in the slide, but it remained upright. The mishap took place just about an hour into Tuesday.

Highway officials said they feared other slides. Traffic was backed up for hours awaiting the highway to be cleared when the skies opened up for an afternoon rain. The  Consejo Nacional de Vialidad closed the highway overnight.

The highway is a continual trouble spot when rains come. Officials recommended the use of Ruta 10 that goes through Turrialba instead of the mountain road.

Heavy rains lashed the metro area in the evening causing more concerns on the mountain highway. San José saw 38.3 millimeters (about 1.5 inches), mostly between 7 and 10 p.m. At Chirripó in the Talamancas, there was 22.9 millimeters (.98
of an inch) in the early afternoon. Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia got 8.9 millimeters (.35 of an inch) mostly between 4 and 6 p.m. The automatic weather station on Cerro Buenavista
in Pérez Zeledón, registered 45.8 millimeters (1.8 inches) since 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Highway officials have said they believed that the construction of Ruta 32 through the Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo was faulty, and studies are underway to correct the problems.

That is going to require moving millions of yards of material or, as has been proposed, building protective tunnels at the danger spots.

Work crews may get a break today. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said some storms are predicted for the afternoon in the Central Valley, the Pacific coast with isolated showers predicted for the mountains of the northern zone and the Caribbean. But the extent of the storms predicted was far less than what took place Tuesday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said that there is a large area of disturbed air off the Costa Rican Pacific coast. That is in addition to Tropical Storm Aletta, which is well west in the Pacific.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 16, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 97
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Satellite study taps the secrets of the giant ocean manta ray
By the Wildlife Conservation Society news service

Using the latest satellite tracking technology, conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Exeter, and the government of Mexico have completed a ground-breaking study on a mysterious ocean giant: the manta ray.

The research team has produced the first published study on the use of satellite telemetry to track the open-ocean journeys of the world’s largest ray, which can grow up to 25 feet in width. Researchers say the manta ray — listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — has become increasingly threatened by fishing and accidental capture and now needs more protection.

The study was published in the online journal PLoS One.

“Almost nothing is known about the movements and ecological needs of the manta ray, one of the ocean’s largest and least-known species,” said Rachel Graham, lead author on the study and director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Gulf and Caribbean Sharks and Rays Program. “Our real-time data illuminate the previously unseen world of this mythic fish and will help to shape management and conservation strategies for this species.”

The research team attached satellite transmitters to manta rays off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula over a 13-day period. The tracking devices were attached to the backs of six individuals — four females, one male, and one juvenile.

“The satellite tag data revealed that some of the rays traveled more than 1,100 kilometers (nearly 700 miles) during the study period,” said Matthew Witt of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute. “The rays spent most of their time traversing coastal areas plentiful in zooplankton and fish eggs from spawning events.”

Like baleen whales and whale sharks, manta rays are filter feeders that swim through clouds of plankton with mouths agape.
manta ray
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Manta rays are filter feeders that swim through clouds of plankton with mouths agape.

The research team also found that the manta rays spent nearly all their time within Mexico’s territorial waters (within 200 miles of the coastline), but only 11.5 percent of the locations gathered from the tagged rays occurred within marine protected areas. And the majority of ray locations were recorded in major shipping routes in the region; manta rays could be vulnerable to ship collisions.

“Studies such as this one are critical in developing effective management of manta rays, which appear to be declining worldwide,” said Howard Rosenbaum, Director of society’s Ocean Giant Program.

In spite of its malevolent, bat-like appearance, the manta ray — sometimes referred to as the devilfish — is harmless to humans and lacks the stinger of the better-known stingray. The manta ray possesses the highest brain to body ratio of all sharks and rays and gives birth to live young, usually one or two pups every one or two years. Manta rays are apparently declining in the Caribbean and in other tropical regions of the world’s oceans, in part because they are captured for shark bait and a demand for gill rakers (small, finger-like structures that filter out the ray’s minute zooplankton prey) in the traditional Chinese medicinal trade.

Police capture trio after home is invaded in Paso Ancho
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers captured three home invasion suspects Monday night after bandits invaded a home in Paso Ancho.

The Fuerza Pública said the home invasion began about 7 p.m., according to the home owner, identified by the last name of  Aguirre. He told police that three bandits took televisions, a portable computer and other articles worth in the neighborhood of 1.5 million colons or about $3,000.

The robbery took place in Jardines de Cascajal de Paso Ancho, which is the same spot where an armed pedestrian shot it out with street robbers Saturday night. His female companion was injured and is recovering. One of the robbery suspects was hospitalized and two of them are in preventative detention, according to the Poder Judicial.
Monday night police in the Grupo de Apoyo Operativo stopped a car without plates nearby to detain the suspects.

An hour an a half after the Paso Ancho invasion, three men threatened a woman at a rooming house in Barrio México in north San José. The men, one of them armed, entered living quarters and took cash and other items, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Shortly after midnight, a man tried to stick up a small restaurant in the vicinity of the Puntarenas bus station in San José. Fuerza Pública officers said the woman proprietor suffered a superficial cut on her arm from the bandit's knife. But she managed to dump hot oil on the crook.

Police officers escorted a suspect to Hospital San Juan de Dios for treatment of burns. They also confiscated a knife, they said.

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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Mexico's election may hinge
on public desire for peace

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

The discovery of 49 decapitated and handless corpses on a highway near the city of Monterrey, in Mexico's northern Nuevo Leon state Sunday, has drawn attention once again to the brutal drug war that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in that nation during the past six years.  Shortly before the discovery in Monterrey, dozens of bodies were found in the border city of Nuevo Laredo and in the central city of Guadalajara.

In Nuevo León, authorities are investigating the brutal slaughter of 43 men and six women, whose identities are difficult to establish, according to state public security spokesman Jorge Domene.

None of them has a head, he explained, and the bodies are so mutilated that forensic experts might not be able to establish who they were.

Domene said signs left near the bodies indicate that credit for the mass killing is being claimed by Los Zetas, a paramilitary group that started out a decade ago as part of the Gulf cartel in northeastern Mexico, and then went into drug smuggling on its own.

“In the past, the cartels were largely concerned about doing business," says George Grayson of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, a leading expert on Mexico, who has been following the drug wars closely. "They would kill if they had to, but they were looking at the bottom line. Now comes a group like Los Zetas who seem to relish executing people in the most sadistic, brutal and fiendish fashion.”

For the past few years, the once relatively prosperous and peaceful city of Monterrey has become a war zone between Los Zetas and the powerful Sinaloa cartel, which is run by fugitive Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman.

Analyst George Grayson says people in Monterrey want the return of law and order.  Although northern Mexico has often favored the ruling Partido Acción Nacional or PAN, Grayson says public opinion surveys show voters there and in many other parts of Mexico might now look to the Partido Revoluciaria Institucional or PRI, to stop the violence.

“People really feel that they are involved in a crisis situation and that is the number one factor that respondents report as to why they will vote for the PRI on July 1,” said Grayson.

The PRI held uninterrupted power in México for more than 70 years until 2000, when PAN candidate Vicente Fox was elected president. He was followed by the PAN's Felipe Calderón, the country's current president.  Calderón began his six-year term in December, 2006 by declaring war on organized crime, sending military units to capture or kill major drug cartel figures, something George Grayson says led to more violence.

“Every time you decapitate a cartel, the kingpin's lieutenants engage in a power struggle for dominance," he said. "Moreover, rival criminal organizations then move into the turf of the displaced leader and, finally, the extremely violent gangs begin to act up.”

Grayson notes it will be difficult to curb the violence, no matter who wins the presidential election. He says the new president will have to rely more on developing intelligence and police investigative skills and less on deploying troops around the country.

“I think it is going to be using a more scalpel-like approach and, perhaps, laying aside the broad sword, although he will still need to have the military in place because México does not have an honest police force,” added Grayson.

The corrupting power of illicit drug trade profits has undermined many efforts to professionalize Mexican police forces. The original members of Los Zetas, for example, were from an elite military unit. Experts on Mexico's drug trafficking note that in past years, gangs usually disposed of bodies in clandestine graves, whereas they now hang them from bridges or dump them at busy intersections.  They say these gruesome public displays are warnings to rivals and demonstrations that the killers have little fear of being caught and held accountable for their crimes.

Obama ready to approve
export bank extension

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to sign a bill to renew the charter of the 80-year-old Export-Import Bank over conservative opposition.

The Senate passed the measure Tuesday, a week after approval by the House of Representatives.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says the measure is absolutely necessary to ensure American exports can keep growing.

The bank provides loans and credits to help U.S. exporters promote and sell goods overseas.

The bank's supporters say it lets the United States compete with other major world exporters who also get government support.

Some conservatives in Congress want to shut down the bank, saying it promotes unfair trade.

Social critic Carlos Fuentes
dies in México at 83

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Award-winning Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, regarded as the father of modern Latin American literature, died Tuesday in Mexico City at age 83.

The Panamanian-born Fuentes focused mainly on contemporary México and what he saw as its political failures.

He published his first novel, “The Air is Clear” when he was 29. This was followed by such acclaimed works as “The Death of Artemio Cruz,” “Old Gringo” and “Aura.”

Fuentes also was a college professor and served as Mexican ambassador to France.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón said he deeply regrets the death of what he called the country's beloved and admired writer.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 16, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 97
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Latin America news
New social network users
can leap language barrier

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Costa Rican engineer has launched a social network that allows users to converse with persons who speak another language.

Rather than being just another translator device, the network  My Babilon allows users to sign up and create a profile. Their text can be translated into the native language of whomever reads it.

The investor is Diego Garro, who presented the effort to President Laura Chinchilla Miranda Tuesday. She signed up and created a profile.

The president and others expressed their pleasure that this system was created by a Costa Rica. The home page is HERE!

Tankers drivers reach accord
on five safety requirements

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Drivers of fuel tanker trucks staged a protest Tuesday and many parked their vehicles near the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo plants.

There were fears that the availability of gasoline would dry up at retail outlets, but that did not happen.

Truck drivers finally reached an accord with the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones by early evening.

The protest revolved around five technical requirements for delivering fuel. According to the agreement, truckers have through July to meet five requirements. Refinadora will be allowed to conduct tests to show there are no leaks in the tankers.

Truckers wanted the test to be done with petroleum products instead of water elsewhere.

As soon as the one-page agreement was signed, government officials distributed it.

Pet adoption fair is Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asociacion Animales de Asis will hold a pet adoption fair for cats and dogs Saturday at the Moravia Automercado. The time is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. The organization seeks a donation of 10,000 colons, about $20, for dogs and 6,000 colons, about $12, for cats.

Football in  Pérez Zeledón

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

American football is moving to Pérez Zeledón. The Bulldogs football club will meet the Panamá Saints Saturday for a 5 p.m. kickoff time. Admission is free, said an announcement.

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details