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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Monday, May 21, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 100                           Email us
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Terror report seems to be linked to nuclear meeting
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Reports of a possible Hezbollah terror attack in Latin America seem to have their origin in a news story Thursday in the influential Italian newspaper,  Corriere della Sera.

The report comes a few days before Iranian diplomats meet with representatives of six world powers to discuss Tehran's nuclear aims. The Italian newspaper story said that the likely targets of such an attack would be Brazil, Colombia or Bolivia.

The report is being distributed widely by organizations linked to Israel, which would be the prime target of any Iranian nuclear missile.

The report generated some reaction here when Mauricio Borashi, the Costa Rican national security adviser, confirmed that the report had been noted here that some form of alert had been issued to law enforcement.

Costa Rica's wide open borders and its limited intelligence capability makes the country a prime location for all sorts of illegal activities.

There are confirmed Hezbollah organizations to the north in Nicaragua, to the south in Venezuela and, of course, in Communist Cuba. There also are reports of the terror group's infiltration in Mexico.

None of this should be new to Costa Ricans. Hezbollah and Iranian operatives have been blamed for attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and on a Jewish center in the early 1990s.

The organization seems to have found support in the tri-border area of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil with its substantial Middle Eastern population.

More recently, Iranian officials have made inroads with the current Venezuelan administration. They have instituted direct air flights and also made deals on petroleum.

Officials in Venezuela, Iran, Nicaragua and Cuba all have one desire in common, that of causing trouble for the United States.

Testimony before the U.S. Congress has outlined U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration claims that radical Islamic groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are profiting from the cocaine trade to finance terrorist acts.  That was reported HERE a year ago. Costa Rica is a well-known transit country for such drugs.

There also has been some interest shown by Iranian
diplomats in a Nicaraguan transcontinental canal. Venezuela also has shown interest in the project.

Until now, Nicaraguan activity at the mouth of the Río San Juan has been interpreted as an effort to open up the silted river for tourism purposes. However, an alternate possibility is that the Nicaraguan military invasion and repeated occupations by Nicaraguan Sandinista youth in the Isla Calero vicinity represent efforts to control the river for some subsequent canal project.

Venezuela has contributed at least one dredge for this project.

The illness of Venezuela President Hugo Chávez may have delayed this project, as well as the $25 billion estimated cost.

Costa Rica has carried its complaints against the Nicaraguan activities to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

U.S. strategists have expressed concern at the possibility that such a canal might actually be constructed.

The La Estrella newspaper in Panamá said six months ago that the land dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica was an indication of the ambitious plan by the three countries to build a canal to rival the existing Panamá Canal. The newspaper attributed some of its information to the Israeli newspaper  Haaretz, and to El Universal in Caracas, Venezuela.

These projects pale when compared to the current Iranian nuclear threat. The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said in a speech Friday that the United States has plans in place to attack Iran, if necessary, to keep that country from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Iran was expected to deceive and delay in the talks scheduled in Baghdad starting Wednesday.

If war does come to the Middle East, Tehran is expected to activate the cells it has installed in Western nations to to carry out internal attacks.

That would include attacks on U.S. and Israeli embassies, perhaps even those in Latin countries.

Hezbollah will not need Costa Rica as a base for such attacks. U.S. Border Patrol agents a year ago found a book celebrating suicide bombers in the Arizona deserts, presumably dropped by one of the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross into the United States from México.


Rainfall was and probably will be highly variable
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
   
The rainy season is settling in to be more of the same. Afternoon thunderstorms are predicted today all along the Pacific coast.

The Central Valley might get a break with variable showers. And the Caribbean and the northern zone will see just isolated showers.

That is according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional, which points out that the distribution and intensity of storms will be irregular. The rain was variable Sunday after a wet Saturday in most parts of
 the country. Most of the rain in the Central Valley came after 2 p.m. Some areas like La Garita did not get any rain, according to the institute's automatic weather station there.

Earth University in Guácimo reported an unusual 101 millimeters (nearly 4 inches) since 7 a.m. Sunday. Santa Rosa in the north Pacific coast reported 44.6 millimeters (1.75 inches).

But Liberia, also in Guanacaste reported just 15 millimeters (.6 of an inch). The weather office in Barrio Aranjuez in San José reported just 3 millimeters, a bit more than .1 of an inch.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 21, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 100
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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.


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Foreign ministry defends
judiciary in Watson case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican foreign ministry has come to the defense of the judiciary and said that Paul Watson took justice into his own hands when he confronted a Costa Rican fishing boat in Guatemalan waters in 2002.

The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto came out with the statement Friday and defended the country's image and its commitment to preserve biodiversity. It also emphasized the  country is one of laws.

Watson is to be released from a German prison today on bail. He was detained at the request of Costa Rica, which seeks to extradite him to answer an allegation that he put a fishing boat in risk of sinking in 2002.

“No person, Costa Rican or foreigner can violate the legal framework that exists in our country to defend the causes that he considers just nor usurp the authority of the state,” said the foreign ministry after a litany defending Costa Rica's environmental record.

The ministry said that the Costa Rican courts have the most absolute respect to the principles of due process and judicial independence and that they act with total independence of the executive branch. “Costa Rica is a country that offers sufficient guarantees of due process with no political meddling,” the ministry said. “The trial of Mr. Watson will not be an exception.”

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Watson's organization, has said that the Costa Rica courts are being manipulated by what they called the shark finning mafia. The organization said he risked death if he were to be returned to Costa Rica.

That likely will be the theme when Watson meets the international press today at Preungesheim Prison in Frankfurt. Watson is expected to be released after eight days in jail.

The organization is calling for protests at German embassies around the world Wednesday. Some Costa Ricans protested Friday outside the foreign ministry.

President Laura Chinchilla is visiting Europe, and she is likely to be met with protests. The supporters of Watson want the German justice ministry to decline to extradite the conservationist and they would like Ms. Chinchilla to issue a pardon.

 
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
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 21, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 100
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Wild bird, fish and roosters get help from law enforcement
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law enforcement was out protecting tropical birds, fish and chickens over the weekend. The biggest haul was the capture of a murder suspect and 56 other wanted individuals when the Fuerza Pública broke up a chicken fight on Calle Fallas in Desamparados. There were an estimated 243 persons there watching the roosters kill each other.

Up in the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro, officers were out protecting the tropical gar, a fish sometimes called a living fossil because it has not changed in 150 million years.

Friday, judicial agents raided properties in Pérez Zeledón where endangered species of birds were being kept in cages.

Sunday also saw a march for the defense of animals through downtown San José.

The raid in Desamparados involved what is known as a gallera, a ring for the purpose of pitting one rooster against another. Some 20 minors were among the crowd.

Fans of chicken fighting have launched a campaign to have the matches made legal. But they still were illegal as of Sunday.

Raúl Rivera, the Fuerza Pública director in San José, said that there were 150 birds there in various states of health. Some even were dead. Others were badly hurt.

Police confiscated three firearms and 287 spurs that fight fans attach to the legs of the birds to make them more deadly.

Among the persons in the crowd was a man with a warrant for murder, said police.

Ministerio de Salud workers were there, too, and said that the sales of food and alcohol were substandard. Spectators paid between 1,000 to 2,000 colons to attend, said police. That's from $2 to $4

Also participating in the early afternoon raid were representatives from the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal.

Chicken fighting has a long tradition in the Latin culture. The Asociatión Nacional de Criadores de Gallos embarked on a campaign last week to legalize the events. The fights are held in many locations in the country, mostly Sunday afternoons. One of the attractions is betting.

The gar fish (Atractosteus tropicus) are a major tourism attraction at Caño Negro near the Nicaraguan border. The fish breed in the shallow waters and are easily captured by
confiscated birds
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
These are some of the birds confiscated in Pérez Zeldón

illegal fishermen. The meat is a delicacy and sells for about 4,000 colons a kilo or about $8.

Fuerza Pública officers detained four men and a woman who were in a boat and had 21 fish in their possession.

The reserve is near Los Chiles in the northern zone and it is famous for the many species of birds, mammals and fish there. Among these are crocodiles, which are hunted illegally for their skin.

Police swept the eight lagoons that make up the swampy area Sunday morning. They said they were responding to reports that dozens of persons were attempting to capture and carry off the fish. The tropical gar is the only species in Costa Rica. It has a broader mouth then similar fish in the United States and has been called pejelagarto or crocodile fish. It has very visible rows of tiny teeth. A gar can grow to  nearly two meters, more than six feet. Its principal diet is smaller fish.

The fish spawn in the lagoons, which are part of the Río Frio system. The reserve is about 10,000 hectares or some 24,700 acres.

Because the water is so shallow, the fish can be seen from above, making them vulnerable to spears and other methods of capture.

Police spent much of the day dismantling nets and freeing fish that had become trapped in them.

The Friday morning raids that netted the captured tropical birds were in San Francisco de Rivas,  Guadalupe and Chimerol de Rivas, all Pérez Zeledón. Judicial agents said that they confiscated 22 wild birds.

Some of the San José downtown marchers brought with them animals that had been mistreated to the point of having lost limbs or the ability to walk well. The marchers were backing a bill in the legislature that would criminalize mistreatment of animals. The measure is due to be discussed today.


Turrialba volcano appears to be having some internal changes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Volcano experts have increased the alert for Volcán Turrialba because they have detected internal changes in the mountain.

One change has been the increase in minor quakes that seem to suggest the movement of magma and gases below the surface of the crater.

The Red Sismológica Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica also said that temperatures are up at the vents where gas has been pouring out for months. Some of the temperatures have registered around 800 C. or nearly 1500 F. There also is a rain of ash.

The experts at the Red also expressed concern about the strength of the crater walls. They might be vulnerable to a major eruption, the scientists said.

There also is an increase in the emission of sulphur dioxide, the Red said.
The volcano is about 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) northwest of the town of the same name. The last major eruption in 1866 covered much of the country with ash and some fell more than 400 kilometers into Nicaragua.

As a point of comparison, the temperature of the vents usually hovers around 100 C., about 212 F.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias noted over the weekend that there are restrictions on tourists who seek to visit the Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba. It also said that some residents of the area have moved away.

The commission also has been seeking highway work in the area in case residents have to flee.

Readers can keep track of the volcano with the monitoring camera provided by the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica at the Universidad Nacional in Heredia.  HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 21, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 100
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Reseachers find correlation between coffee and longer life
By the National Cancer Institute Office of Media Relations

Older adults who drank coffee — caffeinated or decaffeinated — had a lower risk of death overall than others who did not drink coffee, according to a study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, and the American Association of Retired Persons.

Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, although the association was not seen for cancer. These results from a large study of older adults were observed after adjustment for the effects of other risk factors on mortality, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Researchers caution, however, that they can't be sure whether these associations mean that drinking coffee actually makes people live longer. The results of the study were published in the Thursday edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Neal Freedman, division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the institute and his colleagues examined the association between coffee drinking and risk of death in 400,000 U.S. men and women ages 50 to 71 who participated in a diet and health study. Information about coffee intake was collected once by questionnaire at study entry in 1995 to 1996. The participants were followed until the date they died or Dec. 31, 2008, whichever came first.

The researchers found that the association between coffee and reduction in risk of death increased with the amount of coffee consumed. Relative to men and women who did not drink coffee, those who consumed three or more cups of coffee per
day had approximately a 10 percent lower risk of death. Coffee drinking was not associated with cancer mortality among women, but there was a slight and only marginally statistically significant association of heavier coffee intake with increased risk of cancer death among men.

"Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in America, but the association between coffee consumption and risk of death has been unclear. We found coffee consumption to be associated with lower risk of death overall, and of death from a number of different causes," said Freedman, adding:

 "Although we cannot infer a causal relationship between coffee drinking and lower risk of death, we believe these results do provide some reassurance that coffee drinking does not adversely affect health."

The investigators caution that coffee intake was assessed by self-report at a single time point and therefore might not reflect long-term patterns of intake. Also, information was not available on how the coffee was prepared (espresso, boiled, filtered, etc.). The researchers said they consider it possible that preparation methods may affect the levels of any protective components in coffee.

"The mechanism by which coffee protects against risk of death — if indeed the finding reflects a causal relationship — is not clear, because coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds that might potentially affect health," said Freedman. "The most studied compound is caffeine, although our findings were similar in those who reported the majority of their coffee intake to be caffeinated or decaffeinated."

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 21, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 100
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Engine irregularity halts
liftoff of private rocket


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A SpaceX Falcon 9 aborted its launch Saturday moments after its engines ignited when computers detected higher pressure readings than allowed. The center engine pressure built above limits and a shutdown occurred one-half second before liftoff, SpaceX officials said.

The next launch attempt could come as early as Tuesday, but that determination won't be made until the engine itself is inspected, said Gwynne Shotwell, president of Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, Calif., known as SpaceX. There also is an opportunity Wednesday.

"We had a nominal ignition for all nine," Shotwell said of the engines. "Engine 5 started fine and started trending high."

She said the high pressure could be the result of high temperatures possibly from too little fuel flowing into the engine, though it is too early to know for sure. "We're going to have to spend more time looking at the data."

The rocket was poised on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Saturday morning for the attempt. Its hangar is next to the launch pad. Shotwell said the company is prepared to take the engine out of the rocket if it needs to and put in an engine already at the Cape.

The goal of the mission is to launch a SpaceX Dragon capsule to the International Space Station to demonstrate cargo delivery using privately built spacecraft. It will be a landmark accomplishment because no privately constructed spacecraft has docked with the orbiting laboratory.

NASA is working closely with SpaceX under the provisions of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services contract.

"We're ready to support when SpaceX is ready to go," said Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA's manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program.


Chávez gives a report
of his condition to TV


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has broken a week-long silence following his recent cancer therapy treatment.

Chávez told state TV by phone Friday that he is working eight hours daily, following his diet and resting.

The Socialist leader returned from his latest radiation treatment in Cuba eight days ago, but he has yet to disclose details about his condition.
 
Chávez began treatments in March following operations in February and last June to remove tumors from his pelvic area.

He has previously said his condition will not keep him from campaigning for re-election ahead of the October 7 presidential election.


U.N. expert promoting
Internet governance

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

As a powerful global information resource, the Internet must be accessible to everyone and measures to ensure this must be taken, a United Nations independent expert said Friday.

“Since the Internet is essentially a global resource, it is crucial that appropriate Internet governance supports the right of everyone to have access to and use information and communication technologies in self-determined and empowering ways,” said the U.N. special rapporteur on cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, adding that a “human-rights based approach to the issue should always be adopted.”

Ms. Shaheed emphasized the importance of governance on this issue since the Internet has become a powerful medium through which individuals can exercise a wide range of human rights.

“The Internet has become a key element for the enjoyment and the promotion of human rights such as the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds regardless of frontiers; the right to share and enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications; the right to participate in cultural life and engage with others through inter-cultural dialogue; as well as the right to development,” she said.

Ms. Shaheed noted that the Internet can also play an important role promoting democratic participations, accountability, transparency and economic development, and this highlights the need to “maintain it as a global source for all to enjoy.”

In particular, she underscored that the Internet should not be divided into national spheres and it should be guarded against any monopolistic appropriation which could reduce the public spaces where social actors interact as equals.



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Latin America news
Curridabat is location
for new 260-seat theater


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Culture is moving from the center city. A new 260-seat, state-of-the-art theater has opened in the Centro Comercial Momentum in Pinares de Curridabat.

The theater is designed for live plays, music and dance events as well as corporate seminars, training and meetings, said a spokesperson. The venue has high-speed, wireless internet, video conferencing equipment and three screens with specialized lighting, sound equipment and projectors.

The facility is on the second floor and it is called Teatro Espressivo Pinares. The group Terruno Espressivo is presenting now a play by the French playwright known as Molière in Spanish. It is called La escuela de la mujer, known in Engish as “The School for Wives.” That production runs until mid-June, said the spokesperson.

The theater operators see it as multiple use with plays, educational events and corporate gatherings.


Home invasion victim
dies of wound in hospital


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 70-year-old San Sebastián man has died in Hospital Calderón Guardia, the victim of a home invasion.

This is the man who was shot by intruders Wednesday. The Judicial Investigating Organization attributed the death to the bullet wound even though the man, who had the last name of Sánchez, made it to the hospital of his own accord.


U.S. brothers given
more detention time


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Preventative detention has been extended three more months for two brothers, U.S. citizens, with the last name of  Ziegler.

They were detained in December in San Luis del Ceibo de Pérez Zeledón at the site of a marijuana hydroponics operation. Investigators said there were two locations with a total of 140 marijuana plants on a five-hectare farm. The men are 30 and 40.

The case is in the Juzgado Penal de Pérez Zeledón.


Cocaine found in container

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police located 195 kilos of cocaine inside a shipping container that came to Costa Rica from Colombia. The listed contents was bananas, but officers managed to locate briefcases inside the container that contained drugs, said police.






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