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(506) 2223-1327          Publsihed Tuesday, May 17, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 96             E-mail us
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English and computers are a good mix at expo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anyone with doubts that Costa Rican public education can deliver high-level programs should visit the Antigua Aduana today.

There they will find the second day of demonstrations mostly by more than 300 youngsters in primary and secondary school from all over the country.

From extracting DNA from butterflies to robotics, students are involved in unexpectedly complex projects. Other groups are promoting the legal use of free software like Libreoffice productivity suite and Audacity, the free computer voice recording system.

The event, which ends today at 5 p.m. is called Expo Educación 360@. There is a strong emphasis on computer learning of English. The Ministerio de Educación Pública, for example, supports a radio service that delivers English lessons to those small rural schools with a single teacher. There are some commercial booths, too, like Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., HP, Intel and Sykes.

The youngsters at the expo are quick to use their English with a Gringo-looking individual. Those who are shy get a prompting from teachers nearby. The youngsters are there to explain their presentation.

The Centro Nacional de Recursos para la Educación Inclusiva, a dependency of the education ministery, maintained a booth showing how music and math students who have vision problems can use the computer to produce braille documents. The music can be printed out or played on a computer program geared to braille. The math program graphs functions and geometric shapes by embossing the paper. Some also provide the same information in ink for those who have no vision disabilities.

The ministry and the Fundación Omar Dengo put the exposition together with the help of commercial sponsors.

The expo opens again today at 8 a.m. At 1 p.m. there is a conference for educators by Ricardo 
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Rafael Vargas removes sawdust as a computerized wood milling machine follows a program. He is from the Colegio Tecnico Profesional Jesus Ocaña Rojas in Alajuela.

Olarte, director of public and private alliances for  Latin America by Microsoft. The event closes with a cultural presentation at 4:30 p.m.

The Antigua Aduana is the former customs house that has been remodeled on Calle 23 just north of Avenida Central in northeast San José.

The expo was the forum Monday for Luis Liberman, acting president in the absence of Laura Chinchilla who is in the United States, to promise more help for education. He said the government would double technical programs by creating 90 new services of diversified instruction in lesser developed areas. He also said the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje would graduate 60,000 more technicians.

In addition, the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje would help provide more access to bilingual education and train 25,000 persons in English and other languages. These are not new programs but a recounting of continuing government policy.

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Killer of student receives
98 years of confinement

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A court has sentenced a Jamaican man to 98 years in prison for the murder of a judicial agent in San Antonio de Escazú and the death of a 20-year-old student in a Los Yoses crossfire.

He is Lionel Perkins. The student, Milena Madriz, died Oct. 29, 2009, as she was walking down a sidewalk in Avenida Central. Perkins had a dispute with another man which erupted into a firefight.

Killed the following Nov. 3 in San Antonio de Escazú was Randall López Garita, the judicial agent.  There was a fire fight as agents tried to capture Perkins and a juvenile who subsequently also was convicted of murder.

Despite the sentence, the law only provides for sentences of 50 years. The case was in the Tribunal de Juicio de Goicoechea.

Four convicted in robberies
and kidnapping of exec

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men and two women have been convicted in the kidnapping of a business executive and for holding two youngsters for the purpose of taking money from automatic tellers. The case was in the Tribunal Penal de San José and involved events at the end of 2009.

A woman with the last names of Luna Orozco and a man with the last names of Araya Quirós received a total of 63 years in prison on charges of aggravated robbery and kidnapping. A woman with the last names of Arthur Arias and a man with the last names of Guevara Pereira got a total of 48 years for the same crimes.

The kidnapping took place Dec. 22, 2009, when crooks intercepted a man in the La Sabana area and forced him to take money from an automatic teller machine. They took the man to Cartago and kept him confined while they sought a ransom from his family. The victim was associated with an automobile sales company.

In the other cases, the women were said to meet victims in upscale bars and take them to places where they would fall into the hands of the other criminals for the purpose of emptying their bank accounts with the automatic tellers.

Two men are convicted
in case of double murder

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men were convicted but a third was absolved in a double murder case that was decided Monday in the Tribunal de Juicio de Goicoechea.

Convicted were men who had the last names of Meza Picado and Madrigal Guerrero. They received a total of 70 years in prison.

The crime was the planned execution of two men that took place Oct. 4, 2005, near the entrance to the Motel El Edén in north San José. The victims, Cristian Mora Cruz, 47, and Enrique Pemberton Zarpes, 51, were invited to a meeting there purportedly for the exchange of money, said the Poder Judicial. Instead they were killed by multiple bullets.

Mora received 20 bullet wounds and his companion received 11.

Absolved was a man with the last names of Evans Romero.

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!

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 17, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 96
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Hanging sculpures at Teatro Nacional mimic conversation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The secret retreat for those in the know in the center of San José is the café of the Teatro Nacional.  The business is not seen easily from the street, and the imposing theater dissuades average passersby.

Inside the marble tables and imposing bar remind diners that the theater is the project of coffee barons before the turn of the 20th century.

Costa Rican artist Andrés Cañas is capitalizing on the intimate nature of the café. He has created hanging sculptures that are designed to capture and resemble the random phrases uttered by diners as they sip their coffee and eat their quiche.
There are 12 such figures hanging over the tables in the café and in a nearby gallery. They are made of expanded aluminum and acrylic, according to the theater. They include helices that gain life with the movement of the air. The show will be in the café until July 22 in the café.
The café is on the left side of the vestibule of the theater.
Example of sculpture
Teatro Nacional photo
This is one of the hanging sculptures by Andrés Cañas.

It also is well known to theater goers who arrive early and enjoy a coffee and snack or a glass of wine at the intermission of some productions.

Little corner of foreign ministry honors Rafael Mora Porras
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country dedicated a small section of the foreign ministry grounds Monday to place a plaque honoring  Rafael Mora Porras, who was declared liberator and national hero by the Asamblea Legislativa Sept. 16.

The honoring of Mora is supposed to enhance the cultural identity, and schools have been instructed to include the former president in the academic curriculum.

Luis Liberman, acting president while Laura Chinchilla is in the United States, and René Castro, the foreign minister, unveiled the plaque.

Mora is best known for being president when the country went to war against the filibusters led by William Walker in Nicaragua in 1856. This was the so-called national campaign.

Authors of textbooks will have several problems, including the fact that Mora was an autocrat who stripped many Costa Ricans of the right to vote by changing the constitution of the time. He also was ousted in a coup, fled and later returned to regain his office only to be
Mora plaque
Casa Presidencial photo
René Castro and Luis Liberman unveil the memorial

executed by firing squad in Puntarenas in 1860. The police complex that houses the security ministry already bears Mora's name.

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Defensoría backs law that mandates gender parity

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Defensoría de los Habitantes has filed a brief in support of law 8901 that mandates equal representation of men and women on the board of directors of associations and labor unions and employee organizations.

The law is being challenged in the Sala IV constitutional court. Costa Rica already operates under election rules that require political parties to offer election slates that are balanced between men and women. The execution of that law has been criticized recently because many women end up being deputy mayor with few official functions.
The new law 8901 has had unintended consequences. The Dirección Nacional de Desarrollo de la Comunidad had declined to enroll 29 associations that are involved with the Centro de Educación y Nutrición and the Centro Infantiles de Atención Integral. These are like Head Start programs that help children from poorer families. They also provide food. For a brief period these centers could not operate.

The appeals of the law to the constitutional chamber cite liberty of association in that the law limited the autonomy of private groups. The Defensoría contends in its filing that the goal of eliminating discrimination against women is a human rights goal above the Costa Rican Constitution.

Snakes have a tricky way of delivering their venom

By the Technische Universitaet Muenchen news staff

Snakes inject venom into their victims bodies using hollow poison fangs – or so most people believe. However, fact is that most snakes and many other poisonous reptiles have no hollow fangs. Physicists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen in Germany have now uncovered the tricks these animals use to force their venom under the skin of their victims.

For years Leo von Hemmen, a biophysicist at the university, and Bruce Young, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, have been researching the sense of hearing in snakes. While discussing the toxicity of their snakes, it dawned on them that only few snakes inject their venom into their victims’ bodies using hollow poison fangs. Yet, even though the vast majority of poisonous reptiles lack hollow fangs, they are effective predators.

Only around one seventh of all poisonous snakes, like the rattlesnake, rely on the trick with the hollow poison fang. The vast majority has developed another system. A typical representative of this class is the mangrove pit viper, Boiga dendrophila. Using its twin fangs, it punches holes into the skin of its victims. The venom flows into the wound between the teeth and the tissue. But there is an even easier way: many poison fangs simply have a groove the venom flows along to enter the wound.

The researchers asked themselves how this simple method could be so successful from an evolutionary perspective, considering that bird feathers, for example, should be able to easily brush away any venom flowing along an open groove. To get to the bottom of this mystery, they investigated the surface tension and viscosity of various snake venoms. The measurements showed that snake venom is amazingly viscous.

The surface tension is high, about the same as that of water. As a result, the surface energy pulls the drops into the fang grooves, where they then spread out. In the course of evolution, snakes have adapted to their respective preferred prey using a combination of optimal fang groove geometry and venom viscosity. Snakes that prey on birds developed deeper grooves to keep the viscous venom from being brushed away by bird feathers.

The researchers also found an answer to the question of how snakes manage to ferry the venom well under the skin of their prey. After all, only there can it unfold its deadly effect. Here too, snakes developed a trick in the course of evolution: When a snake attacks, the fang 
snake fang
Technische Universitaet Muenchen photo
Channel in the tooth of banded snake (Bothryum leutiginosum)

grooves and the surrounding tissue form a canal. Just like blotting paper, the tissue sucks the venom through this canal. And snake venom has a very special property to facilitate this effect: Just like ketchup, which becomes significantly more fluid upon shaking, the sheer forces that arise from the suction cause the venom to become less viscous, allowing it to flow through the canal quickly as a result of the surface tension.

Scientists refer to substances with these characteristics as non-Newtonian fluids. These have a very practical consequence for snakes: As long as there is no prey in sight, the venom in the groove remains viscous and sticky. When the snake strikes, the poisonous “tears” flow along the groove – just like wine along a glass – and into the wound, where the venom takes its lethal effect.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 17, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 96

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Jacó murder victim left
millions in defaulted loans

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Jacques Cloutier, the former Florida home builder who was found shot to death in the front seat of a car in Jacó early Saturday defaulted on more than $100 million in loans when the economy went sour.

At the time of his death he was involved in a Sala I court action here seeking to collect $18 million as a result of a court judgement in Florida.

Cloutier, 59, was identified here as a cattlemen, but in Florida he was known as the builder of quality homes.

Found with him was Luis Antonio Angulo Díaz, 70, a long-time employee from La Cruz in Guanacaste.

Both men appear to have been shot by someone sitting in the back seat.  Angulo was shot in the back of the neck, and Cloutier sustained a bullet to the temple. Residents of the area in the outskirts of Jacó where the vehicle was found, Quebrada Amarilla, said that Cloutier was unknown in the area.

Cloutier was believed to be a French Canadian who came to Florida years ago. Associates said he still spoke English with an accent, according to a detailed report in the Sarasota, Florida, Herald-Tribune. That newspaper has reported extensively on Cloutier money troubles.

The newspaper said associates reported that Cloutier guarded his private life.

Cloutier had been coming to Costa Rica for years and was believed to have had a cattle operation in the Cantón de Osa. The reason for his trip last week was supposedly to buy cattle and brand some animals. That is why he enlisted the aid of his retired employee.

Initially the case was believed to be a robbery-murder, but the evidence suggests someone ordered the men to drive to the rural area for their execution. Angulo was at the wheel.

Ban on face veil said
to be going smoothly

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Just over a month after France enacted a controversial face-veil ban, the government says it has detained several dozen women wearing the veils, but that enforcing the legislation appears to be going smoothly.

Since the ban against face veils or niqabs was enacted in France last month, the government says police have stopped nearly 50 women who have worn them in public. Of that number, about 27 have been given the option of a fine or taking a course on French citizenship.

One woman, Marie, was among those stopped.

Marie told France's RTL radio that police waved her down as she was driving her car wearing the niqab. She was given the option of paying a roughly $71 fine or taking the class. She opted for the fine, she says, because she did not want to be seen in public without her niqab. She says she's facing more hostility on the streets, but she hasn't removed her face veil.

In a recent interview on French radio, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said concerns about enforcing the veil ban have proved unfounded.

Gueant said people said the legislation couldn't be applied, but so far there hasn't been a problem. He said among those detained by police for wearing the veil included an American woman at the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris.

Before the ban went into effect, the French government estimated only about 2,000 women wore the face veil here. But it argued the legislation was important to ensure conservative Muslims abided by the country's staunch separation of church and state, as well as for security reasons and to defend women's rights.

Neighboring Belgium has also moved a step further in enacting a similar ban, with the lower house of parliament approving legislation in late April.

But the ban remains controversial — and particularly divisive for the estimated 5 to 6 million Muslims living here.

Wire services report that the ban has also sparked calls on militant Muslim Internet sites for armed retaliation against France. Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US special forces this month, also warned France against banning the face veil.
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Suspect faced unlucky
13th arrest for theft

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública reported that it captured a man Monday to face a theft charge and that this case is the 13th that the man has been a suspect.

The man was caught on Avenida 2 at Calle 6 and identified by police with the last names of Pineda Cedeño. Police said he was arrested for theft eight times in 2002, once in 2006, once in 2008, once in 2009 and twice in 2010.

10 caught in Coco

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police said that a weekend sweep in Playas del Coco netted 10 persons for various crimes after checking on 366 persons.

Police said they detained 67 persons from January to May for various property crimes in Guanacaste. They attributed the 27.4 percent decrease in home burglaries to these arrests, they said. There also was a 20 percent reduction in theft from vehicles, they said.

Shuttle liftoff is seamless

By the A.M. Costa rica wire services

Six astronauts and the youngest shuttle in NASA's fleet, Endeavour, blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, bound for the International Space Station on its 25th and final mission Monday.

Astronaut Mark Kelly is commanding Endeavour's final mission.   He shared a few words with mission control about 10 minutes before launch.

"As Americans, we endeavor to build a better life than the generation before, and we endeavor to be a united nation," said Kelly. "In these efforts, we are often tested. This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment and exploration. It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore.  We must not stop."

Ad rates are going up

Consultantes Río Colorado S.A., the parent company of A.M. Costa Rica, announces that it will be increasing advertising rates as of June 1. The increases, between 0 and 9 percent, will affect display as well as some classified rates.

Sales executives will provide existing clients full details. They also will point out that the company will stand behind advertising agreements made between now and June 1 at the current rates for a period of up to one year.

The company last raised rates in 2007 and held the line for the benefit of clients during the recent recession.

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