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These stories were published Tuesday, May 28, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 104
Jo Stuart
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Protestors against vehicle inspections wave banners near Sabana Park
Vehicle inspection foes carry case to president
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Leaders of a demonstration against a new motor vehicle inspection said they managed to get about 1,500 people to a rally at the Casa Presidential Monday.

Among the group were at least 400 farmers who oppose the measure. Some news reports said "hundreds and hundreds."

The organizers said that similar protests took place in Limón on the Caribbean, San Carlos and Peréz Zeledón. They also expressed unhappiness that President Abel Pacheco did not greet them for discussions at the end of their journey.

Instead, Lineth Saborío, first vice president, talked with some of the organizers, one said. Pacheco was quoted in a newspaper article Monday morning saying that the protest, the first of his presidential career, was not necessary.

The protestors were united under a slogan that says they prefer inspections by a Costa Rican 

company. That is a slap at Riteve S y C, a joint 
Spanish-Costa Rica company that is almost always referred to as "Spanish" by protestors and the local media. The firm has an approved contract with the government and has invested up to $22 million in its efforts here.

Many Costa Ricans, including those protesting Monday, fear that a stiff vehicle inspection will disqualify their cars for use. The inspection firm has come up with an 80-point check for passenger vehicles, and many Costa Ricans own vehicles that are not well maintained due to the expense involved.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte already has delayed the start of the inspection program. It was to start this week. Now July seems to be when the firm will open its doors for real.

Protesters Monday grew from a small band of 40 near La Sabana Park about 10 a.m. They had a lot of support from passing motorists as they waved their banners. Later taxi drivers and others joined the procession to the Casa Presidential in Zapote.

E-mail perfume warning finds receptive ears
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An e-mail message says that two men are stalking women and tricking their victims into smelling debilitating fumes under the guise that the scent is a new type of perfume.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that it has had no complaints about this practice, but it suggested that such events could be happening. 

A.M. Costa Rica received a similar warning though a route that took the e-mail from Costa Rica to the United States and back. 

The e-mail, written in Spanish, was forwarded unsigned but is attributed to a friend of a relative. Reporters were unable to locate the original source of the message Monday night.
However, investigators said that they were 

giving an alert to residents in case the perfume scam is a new method of operation by thieves.

According to the multiple e-mails the pair approach women at bus stops, parks or commercial centers. They tell the victim that they have a new perfume scent to demonstrate. But when the person takes a whiff, she is incapacitated and the crooks take their belongings. The e-mail attributes the knockout effect to ether.

However, investigators said they checked with their laboratory experts who said that ether does not function that way. Both ether and chloroform require a physical presence against a subject’s nose and mouth for several minutes to induce disorientation of grogginess, they said.

However, some other chemical might be used.

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RACSA published rule against Internet junk mail
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográphica Costarricense S.A., the Internet provider, has published a two-strikes-and-you’re-out policy for junk e-mailers.

The policy came to light in the Diario Oficial La Gaceta March 14, but the Internet monopoly just posted the long legal document to its Web site sometime this month, according to an incomplete date on the page.

The action came as it appeared that RACSA itself was getting in the junk mail business. A news story Saturday in La Nación said that RACSA was changing its role and getting more into content. An example cited was as a contractor to send news headlines to every cell telephone in the country.

RACSA has been blocked by a number of Internet providers in the United States and elsewhere because it has permitted junk e-mailers to freely send high volumes of e-mail advertising messages through its Internet servers. The messages ranged from invitations to gambling sites to porno. The sender might be anywhere, but the distribution is routed through RACSA servers. So the messages show in their header information from where they were distributed.

Even the campaign for the presidential candidate for the Partido Liberation Nacional, Rolando Araya, sent a bulk political message on his behalf to RACSA account holders.

RACSA, a monopoly, always has said that it did not have the right under Costa Rican law to pull the plug on junk e-mailers. But then earlier this year it began to do so after many account holders complained that their e-mails were being blocked by servers elsewhere.

The Internet administrators worldwide have an extensive network that keeps track of abuses.

The regulation published by RACSA has five 

chapters and addresses many types of Internet access from telephone dialup service to cable modem to dedicated hookups.

The Internet provider also published two electronic abuse hotlines, including one in English: mailabuse@racsa.co.cr

RACSA’s rule does not obligate the company to initiate a probe of unwanted e-mails, although its internet servers certainly track such information. Instead RACSA asks those who feel they have received unwanted junk e-mails to transmit them along with the header information to the hotline.

If, after investigation, RACSA finds that the allegation is correct, the first penalty is to disconnect the sender temporarily, under the published rule. The offending party then must visit a RACSA office and sign a statement agreeing not to send such e-mails again. For the second offense for most types of services, the company will terminate the account and eliminate the username of the bulk mailer, thereby preventing use of the Internet, said the rule.

In the case of the 900 number dialup service, RACSA will take action against the offending telephone number, the rule said.

The publication was in the name of Ing. Miguel A. Montero Corredera, director of servicio al cliente.

RACSA already had in its service contract a clause forbidding the sending of bulk mail messages. However, there was not as clear a set of penalties. Some Internet administrators have claimed RACSA or employees there actually work with bulk mailers, although RACSA has not said that is true.

At odd times, such as at1 a.m. Sunday nights RACSA Internet service sometimes degrades significantly suggesting that bulk mailers are dumping hundreds of thousands of messages into the system. However, RACSA has been less than candid in responding to users complaints. An A.M. Costa Rica message to the abuse hotline a month ago never was answered.

Roger Crouse awaits
big decision by judge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Roger Crouse, the Canadian bar owner from Playas del Coco in jail since August for shooting a man, is awaiting a judge’s decision today.

Crouse was in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing that may lead to a full trial. It was before Judge Margarita Miranda. The judge has until today to make certain rulings on the case.

Meanwhile, Crouse’s lawyer, Marilyn Jimenez, complained in court and later to a reporter that sufficient evidence exists that Crouse fired a gun in self defense but that the judge has not accepted the bulk of that evidence.

If Crouse is found guilty he could spend from 12 to 18 years in jail. He is still in surprisingly good humor and frequently calls reporters from his Liberia jail cell.

Crouse, 50, shot and killed the man in his Gaby's Bar the evening of Aug. 19. The man came at him with a knife, Crouse told investigators. The man had been in the bar earlier creating a disturbance, and police took him away only to free him and let him return to the bar two hours later.

Crouse has been in jail since, and his bar has suffered many burglaries. Monday he said that he just received word that the brothers of the man he killed have filed a civil suit for $300,000. That is in addition to a $60,000 civil suit filed by the mother of the man.

Reflection marks
Memorial holiday

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Parades, public tributes and private moments of reflection marked the Memorial Day holiday in the United States Monday as Americans remembered those who gave their lives in service to the country. 

In Washington, thousands of aging veterans paid silent tribute to their fallen comrades at Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This year's tributes have added significance because they come just eight and a half months after the deadly terror attack of Sept. 11. 

In New York City, thousands gathered at a World War II Navy vessel that now serves as a sea, air and space museum. Parades honoring veterans also drew large crowds. 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg used a Memorial Day address to pay special tribute to the thousands of people who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. "We will not forget those that we lost, and we will not let their deaths be in vain," he said. 

Vietnam veteran Karl Rohde, who traveled to New York for the event, said the holiday gives Americans a chance to honor those who gave their lives for their country. "It's a chance for us to remember our friends and comrades who were not fortunate enough to return like I was," he said. 

Across the country, in a show of national unity, millions of Americans paused at mid-afternoon for a moment of silence to reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women of the country's armed forces. 

Meanwhile, in France U.S. President George W. Bush was paying tribute to America's war dead. When the day dawned in the United States, Bush was in northwestern France, visiting the graves of American soldiers killed in the 1944 D-Day invasion that changed the course of World War II.

The president stood uncovered in the rain, looking out at endless rows of graves, all facing west toward America. "From a distance, surveying row after row of markers, we see the scale and heroism and sacrifice of the young," said Bush. "We think of units sustaining massive casualties, men cut down crossing a beach, or taking a hill, or securing a bridge."

More than 9,300 Americans are buried on the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach, where the first waves of soldiers came ashore at dawn on D-Day. It was the largest amphibious landing in history and ultimately led to the liberation of France and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Bush told the stories of some of the fallen and of those they left behind. He said words can not capture the grief and sense of loss felt by the families of all who served and died, then and now. 

"For some military families in America and in Europe, the grief is recent, with the losses we have suffered in Afghanistan," noted the American president. "They can know, however, that the cause is just and, like other generations, these sacrifices have spared many others from tyranny and sorrow."

His tone was somber. Earlier, Bush attended a church service in the first French town to be liberated on D-Day. 

The presidents of the United States and France were among the worshippers in the gray stone church in Sainte-Mere-Eglise. After the service, they went to a small white stage to address the crowd that had formed in the churchyard. President Jacques Chirac said the French people will never forget those who died in the D-Day invasion, calling Normandy a "land of memory and emotion." 

Top French player
injured in thigh

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

With the opening of football's World Cup in South Korea and Japan just four days away, it appears that defending champion France will begin the tournament without its biggest star. 

Claude Simonet, the president of the French Football Federation, said Monday that Zinedine Zidane is expected to miss the team's first two matches because of a thigh injury. Zidane was injured in France's 3-2 friendly match victory against tournament co-host South Korea Sunday. 

Zidane left the field during the first half and sat out the rest of the game with an ice pack on his thigh. The 1998 World Cup hero underwent tests on Monday, and though the results have not been released, Simonet said the consensus was that Zidane should sit out France's first two matches. That means he would miss Friday's tournament opener against Senegal and France's match against Uruguay on June 6. But he will probably be ready to play against Denmark June 11. 

New Colombian leader
will seek more U.S. aid

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — One day after his stunning election victory, President-elect Alvaro Uribe Vélez met with international reporters to discuss his plan to end the violence that plagues his country. 

Uribe is looking to the United States for more help in defeating Colombia's leftist guerrillas.

In his first news conference since winning the Colombian presidential election, Uribe said his main priority is to establish the rule of law throughout the country. He said the murders and kidnappings carried out by the leftist guerrillas and the right-wing paramilitary groups have terrorized the populace and scared away foreign investors.

The Colombian president-elect, who once studied at Harvard University in the United States, said he will continue his nation's close relationship with Washington and seek more U.S. help in the fight against what he described as terrorism.

"Colombia has been a partner in the battle of the United States against terrorism. The violence we are suffering is terrorism. Therefore, we need the reciprocity," he said. "We need the help of the United States in order to preserve our democracy and to preserve our democracy, we can no longer suffer terrorism."

Uribe said he would likely visit Washington sometime after taking office Aug. 7 and that he hopes to meet with President Bush as well as State Department officials. He said he does not seek direct U.S. involvement in Colombia, but he would like more material assistance and training.

"We will do what we have to do with our soldiers, with our men and with our women, but we need technological assistance, helicopters, et cetera," he said.

Uribe said he has already begun to seek a meeting with United Nations representatives to see what role the world body might play in helping to resolve Colombia's 38-year conflict peacefully. He said that, as president, he would seek the help of all friendly nations in fostering a peaceful resolution of the war. He also said that if the conflict is allowed to continue, it could easily spread into neighboring countries and affect all of Latin America.

The 49-year-old former state governor won the presidential election with 53 percent of the vote Sunday. It was the first time a candidate had ever won the presidency without having to go into a second round of voting. Uribe campaigned on a get-tough approach to the insurgents in his country, where each year at least 3,500 people die as a result of war-related violence. Colombia also ranks as the worst country in the world for kidnappings, and Uribe's own father was killed in a kidnapping attempt in 1983. 

But the man who, in less than three months, will lead Colombia says he wants his nation to be known for more than its violence. After his news conference ended, Uribe approached the foreign reporters present and thanked them for coming to Colombia in spite of its dangers.

"Welcome to Colombia. I hope you have gotten a good impression of this country and that you transmit good ideas, good news from this country," he said. "Thank you very much."

Uribe says he will spend the next few weeks putting together his cabinet and discussing the possibility of international mediation to end the war in his country. He says he is willing to engage in peace talks, possibly under United Nations supervision, but only if the rebels agree to an immediate cease-fire and an end to kidnappings and other attacks against civilians.

Chaves says Carmona
can leave Venezuela

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez Frias has guaranteed a leading political opponent safe passage out of the country. The politician, Pedro Carmona, briefly overthrew Chavez in a coup that ultimately failed. 

President Chavez said Monday the decision by Colombia's government to grant asylum to Carmona was a sovereign decision which Venezuela must respect. 

He said he will sign orders Monday allowing him to leave but added that he considers Carmona a political fugitive. 

In a related development, Venezuelan television says former admiral Carlos Moina Tamayo has sought refuge in the Salvadoran Embassy and asked for asylum in El Salvador. Tamayo also took part in last month's coup attempt against President Chavez. 

A vocal critic of President Chavez, Carmona helped organize a general strike and march leading up to the failed coup. Carmona was installed as president April 12. Chavez regained power on April 14, and Carmona was arrested. 

The 61-year-old Carmona had been under house arrest in Caracas, but late Thursday, Venezuelan officials said he eluded police posted outside his apartment and fled to the Colombian Embassy. Three days laster, the Colombian Foreign Ministry announced it would grant him political asylum. 

Woman, 32, dies
in knife attack

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A former boyfriend is facing investigation in the murder of a woman within 200 meters of her house Sunday.

The murder took place opposite the Liceo de Lomas del Río in Pavas, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents identified the dead woman as Marlene Aguilar Molina, 32.

The woman was walking with another man when a former boyfriend of a year past pulled a knife, came from behind and wounded her fatally, agents said. He was arrested later.

Gas station held up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men on two motorcycles held up a gasoline station in Hatillo opposite the Rancho Guanacaste restaurant and events center. They took about 4 million colons ($11,260) at gunpoint, according to police.

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