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(506) 2223-1327           San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 112             E-mail us
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Emergency commission to monitor slide dangers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission has identified eight slopes that are in danger of becoming landslides in the Central Valley.

Two are in Santa Ana, one is in Escazú and one is in Mora near Ciudad Colón. Others are in Alajuelita, Desamparados, Acosta and Aserrí.

None comes as a surprise because they have been trouble spots in the past. The commission said that about 100 families are in danger because of these potential landslides.

The largest is in Acosta at the Ortiga-Porterillos slope where 122 hectares (about 300 acres) are unstable, according to the commission.

The commission held a meeting Tuesday with municipal officials and others to set up a monitoring system for the mountains that may cause slides.

In addition to identifying families at risk, the commission will provide air surveillance of the locations and place instruments on the slopes to detect movement. An alert system also will be put in place.

Last November, heavy rains spawned by then-Tropical Storm Tomas caused part of Pico Blanco above Escazú to slide. The death toll was 23 at Calle Lajas in San Antonio de Escazú where houses were buried. The central government has since ordered the evacuation of the remaining homes below the slope.

The municipalities Tuesday agreed to take some preventative measures such as cleaning waterways, removing sediment, cutting trees that might interfere with the water flow and making contact with families in high-risk areas.

Those involved in the session will be visiting the Tablazo slide site in Desamparados today. Thursday they will be at the Burío site in Aserrí. In addition to Tablazo, Burío and Pico Blanco, officials also have their eye on Tapezco, Pacacua
Aserri damage
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
This was some of the damage in Aserrí last November when a slide caused heavy losses.

and La Cascabela as potential slides.

Much of the land area is unstable and is easily moved by heavy penetration of rain water.

Both Tapezco and Chitaría peaks are in Santa Ana in the district of Salitral, which also suffered heavy damage last year. Pacacua is in the Cantón de Mora and is less than a hectare in area. Also small is the La Cascabela site in Alajuelita in San Felipe.

Caribbean hurricanes and tropical storms dump feet of water on Costa Rica and provoke land movement. Typically roads are blocked, and vulnerable towns are flooded.

There have been slides in the past that have caused multiple fatalities. The Atlantic hurricane season started June 1.

The eastern Pacific has its first tropical storm of the season, Tropical Storm Adrian. It is west of southern México.

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Plan for new Limón dock
going ahead despite trial


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite the prospect of a trial, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes says that it will continue with the process of preparing a concession for APM Terminals to build a modern cargo handling facility at Moín.

The ministry made the explanation Tuesday as it noted that a judge in the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo did not order any delays in the process. The tribunal is designed to handle complaints against government agencies.

The ministry noted that a judge had elevated the case to a full trial but that the complaint will be handled in an expedited way.

An organization of banana growers challenged the awarding of the concession because the group said they would be paying more for loading their harvest unless they continued to use the out-dated public docks. Challenges were expected from the union representing dock workers but not from banana growers who have been plagued with wildcat strikes and blockades at the public docks.

Union officials did enter a challenge, but it has been dismissed by the Contraloría de la República. More challenges are expected.

The Dutch firm APM manages docks all over the world. It agreed to invest nearly $1 billion to construct a modern facility in three stages. The new docks are expected to cut by two-thirds the time required to load ships with pineapples, bananas and other Costa Rican exports.

The investment in the docks is considered a key element in the government's plan to bring economic prosperity to Limón province.

Television show using
county as video venue

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The television show TeleHit is filming at 40 locations in Costa Rica to create six programs, each 26 minutes.

TeleHit is the Mexican cable show that presents mainly music videos.

Some 30 employees of the show are in the country, said the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. The shows are expected to air in July and August in as many as 50 countries.

The tourism institute said that the locations are likely to be those sites that are emblematic of Costa Rica, like the Arenal volcano and beach communities.

All that we need now
is that speedy Roadrunner


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Centro de Conservación de Santa Ana has placed a 2-year-old coyote on display. The center is affiliated with the Simón Bolívar zoo in San José.

The center said that environmental agents confiscated the coyote when it was just a 3-month-old pup that someone had at the Mercado Central in San José. Zoo workers raised the animal.

Coyotes are generally found in Guanacaste, although they are clever creatures that seem to prosper even in the presence of humans. In the wilds they hunt small animals. The one in Santa Ana is eating fruit, eggs, meat and dog food, the center said.

 
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.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 112
Latigo K-9

Bacterial outbreak as conspiracy resonates with some expats
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with wire service reports

Some who come to Costa Rica as expats do so to escape Big Government, Big Business and a host of other modern limitations that the refugees see as limitations on their freedom.

So when an unknown super bacteria, a version of E. coli, breaks out in Germany, some expats tend to see a conspiracy. The conspiracy flames are fanned as European Union ministers meet to quell the controversy, and scientists say it is possible that they may never know the exact source of this E. coli outbreak.

There is no surprise that readers reacted to the news from Germany with suggestions that "it was clear from the beginning that foul play was behind the outbreak." That was the view of Axel Marquardt, a Costa Rican resident who happens to be in Hamburg, Germany, now.

A La Garita reader suggested that editors read a Natural News article by editor Mike Adams, who characterized the deadly bacteria as something deliberately bioengineered.

Meanwhile, as European agriculture ministers hold the emergency meeting about the continent's spiraling E. coli outbreak, Spain is demanding full compensation to its farmers, after Spanish cucumbers were incorrectly identified as the bacteria's source. 

Even as scientists still scramble to diagnose the origin, experts say this outbreak's legacy could be the huge furor over mistaken claims and compensation from the European Union. A top World Heath Organization official says the source of Germany's deadly E. coli outbreak may never be known. Dr. Guenael Rodier, the organization's director of communicable diseases, said that investigators must find the culprit within a week.  He says after that, it would become difficult to link patients with what they ate.  Rodier says the contaminated vegetables have probably already disappeared from the market.

First it was cucumbers from Spain, then bean sprouts from Germany that fell under suspicion. But European Union officials acknowledge they still do not know the precise source that has killed at least 23 people, mostly in Germany.

The European agriculture commission has proposed a $220-million (150-million euro) aid package for farmers across Europe. That figure, if approved, would cover
barely half of Spain's losses so far.  European officials are trying to calm hysteria over further danger from E. coli. 

The hysteria dovetails nicely with the mindset of many expats who already have made their position known on such innovations as genetically modified food and the so-called  Codex Alimentarius, the World Trade Organization regulations concerning food.

Opponents see the Codex as an attack against natural foods, organic vegetables and self-medication with herbs and less than mainstream chemicals.

Marquardt is well known for being less than diplomatic when giving his views. He said in his email:

"They are targeting natural food stores and organic food producers. The agenda of the criminal elite requires all that is beneficial to people's health be radiated as they are doing in California now with fruits and nuts. What finally you are observing is the implementation of 'Codex Alimentarius' effective since Jan. 1, 2010, and signed by practically every nation on earth without any of the puppet politicians knowing - as always - what they were doing (well, I guess, some were...). The EU has outlawed natural medicine and healing already and in the U.S. they have just raided a company SWAT style for claiming health benefits of their elderberries which are a super-food containing most antioxidants of all fruits on the planet."

Expats need not travel far to find educated support for  that point of view.

The Natural Solutions Foundation is in Chiriquí Province, Panamá, and is directed by a U.S.-trained medical doctor and a retired U.S. major general. The physician, Rima E. Laibow. is a foe of World Trade Organization control of food regulations and is a frequent speaker on the topic. She maintains this Web site.

The foundation's mission is to discover, develop, document, demonstrate and disseminate natural solutions to the issues which threaten our health, food and freedom, achieving and maintaining a healthy self, community and world.

With weekend ferias of fresh produce and the year-round opportunity for gardening, expats here are perhaps closer to food issues than others elsewhere. But then there is a whole other segment of residents here who discard the notion of world dominance via food and see the German outbreak simply as international terrorism rather than an agricultural mishap. They have not sent any emails.


President prefers gas over oil as U.S. firm seeks OK
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. oil exploration company has survived 10 years of legal challenges against its concession, and now the government wants to become its partner.

The firm, Mallon Oil Co., received rights to drill for oil and gas in 2000, but environmentalists immediately challenged the projects in Costa Rica's northern zone.

A constitutional court decision seems to have opened the way for the private company to seek a signed agreement with the government. But President Laura Chinchilla seems to be balking.

Casa Presidencial said Tuesday that the president had reaffirmed her pledge to push for renewable energy. Mallon won the right to explore through a bidding process under the existing general law for petroleum in March 2000.

Casa Presidencial said that the contract was being reviewed with an eye toward eventually signing it.

Casa Presidencial said that the review had as its object the evaluating of the legal aspects as well as the satisfaction of the public interest and to guarantee respect for the protection of the environment.

The review, Casa Presidencial said, will study the option of limiting the process only for the exploration and eventual exploitation of natural gas instead of petroleum and will analyze the possibility of a public-private alliance with
state institutions such as the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad and the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, S.A.

Neither state institution has shown any inclination to search for petroleum in the past even though Costa Rica may be sitting on large reserves.

Efforts by another U.S. firm to do exploratory drilling off the Caribbean coast were halted by environmental protests lead by the organization Oil Watch.

Now the country imports all its petroleum via Refinadora Costarricense. Shortly plus gasoline will be selling for $5.45 a gallon and super for $5.55, based on increases that were announced Friday.

The political party with a single representative in the legislature, Frente Amplio, said in a release that Costa Rica ought to be a country free of petroleum exploration and exploitation. It called on allied organizations also to protest the measure. The representative, José María Villalta, said that the legislature should speed up approval of a measure to bar exploration in Costa Rica.

He correctly noted that the 20-year agreement would cover tracts in San Carlos, Sarapiquí y Pococí.

The Partido Acción Ciudadana also has announced its opposition. Both parties opposed the free trade treaty with the United States and efforts by a Canadian firm to install an open pit gold mine in northern Costa Rica.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 112


CR home

volcano plume
NASA Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team photo
Eruption of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano was captured by the Terra satellite Monday.

Volcano plume from Chile spans the entire continent

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Chile's Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano has spewed an ash plume across South America into the South Atlantic.

U.S. satellites have tracked the plume from space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, through its Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, released a series of photos Tuesday.

The agency said that the Terra satellite flew over the volcano Monday at 10:25 a.m. EDT. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument captured a visible image of the eruption that showed the large ash plume blowing northeast, then to the southeast and over
the Atlantic Ocean. The ash plume went at least as high as six miles Saturday when the mountain erupted, according to reports from the scene.

Some 3,500 people were evacuated.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, called GOES-13 and GOES-11, also captured images of the volcano from a different vantage point in space that revealed the plume was visible from even farther away, said the agency.

The plume changes directions because prevailing winds are different at different altitudes. The plume is disrupting some aircraft travel in southern South America.



Canadian firm plans live poker tournament for U.S. players

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

HeadsUp Entertainment International Inc., operators of the Canadian Poker Tour, Canadian Poker Player Magazine and the Canadian Poker Player Television Network and World Poker Showdown, has announced two major events for the upcoming winter travel season in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

"The poker tourism segment is one of the most profitable of our operations," said Kelly B. Kellner, president and CEO of HeadsUp Entertainment International Inc., a  Calgary, Canada, firm. "These events are designed to capture players from the U.S. market looking for a viable poker outlet given the recent shutdown of several major online sites."

Kellner said revenues from these events would come from
 tournament fees, rake from cash games and pit play as well as sponsorship.

"The events will be televised," said Kellner. "We are currently in negotiations with several television networks and media outlets and anticipate announcing a deal very soon."

He also said the properties we have secured are without peer and make for a great destination for even the non-poker players in the family.

According to Kellner, since the filing of indictments against three of the world's largest online poker sites nine weeks ago, HeadsUp has seen its live poker tournament attendance up over 35 percent across the board and the demand for international events growing even greater. Some of the sites were run from Costa Rica.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 112

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Today is Internet test day
for advanced protocol


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Today Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and other major Internet companies will participate in what is being called IPv6 or Internet Protocol Version 6 Test Day. The 24-hour trial run is being held to test a new communication system for the Internet, which computer experts say is needed as more and more devices go online and the Web is quickly running out of addresses.

It’s likely that users may not even notice it, but across the globe today, the Internet will be taking a test flight to try out a new system that will eventually lead to a dramatic increase in the number of addresses on the World Wide Web.

“We now have a tremendous number of users on the internet. And the Internet protocol or think of it as the Internet telephone number that exists for everybody on the Internet is kind of running out,” said David Gewirtz, an Internet expert at the U.S. Strategic Perspectives Institute.

“When this stuff came into play 30 some odd years ago, people never expected that everybody on a cell phone would have an Internet address, everybody with a video game console would have an Internet address and so and so forth.  And so now as the Internet becomes the wiring that connects everybody in the world, there’s not enough Internet phone numbers or IP addresses for all of those devices.”

The Internet Society, a non-profit organization based in Reston, Virginia that focuses on Internet standards, policy and education is promoting the trial run.

Leslie Daigle, is the group’s chief Internet Technology Officer. “Once it escaped the research lab and started becoming an important component of everyday life,  it was pretty clear that IPv4, which only has four billion addresses, would not be enough to serve the needs of the world. I mean, do the math. There are fewer IPv4 addresses than there are people on the face of the earth.”

In a blog posting this week, Google called the test run an important milestone, adding that the deployment of IPv6 is crucial to the continued growth of the Internet.

Organizers hope Wednesday’s event will boost awareness and promote what has so far been a slow shift to the new system.

Daigle says it would be valuable if the new system accounted for 20 percent of the Internet’s traffic by next year.

“In terms of actual numbers, we still see an almost vanishingly small amount of IPv6 traffic on the Internet. It’s on the order of one and a half to 3 percent of the traffic that comes over IPv6 depending on whose measurements you use,” Daigle said.

Daigle says more than 400 organizations from across the globe are participating in the IPv6 Test Day. Internet service providers and government's including the European Commission and U.S. government Web sites will join in the test.

China has been aggressively positioning itself to make the transition to IPv6.  During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China showcased the IPv6 infrastructure.

China has set up a Web site to mark IPv6 Test Day, which includes a list of more than 100 sites that it says are running on the next generation system.

Gewirtz says China’s aggressive approach highlights its desire to promote technological development and the reality that it has a huge population.

“They have 1.2 billion people, which is pretty much the number of IPv4 addresses total. So for China to be fully on the Internet, in it’s full glory moving into the 21st century it needs more phone numbers or essentially more Internet addresses,” Gewirtz said.

According to statistics in China, the country already has more than 450 million Internet users and 66 percent of Chinese access the Internet using cell phones.

During today's test, Google says most users will be unaffected, but that it will place a prominent notice on Google Search's main page for those who may not be able to connect and direct them to a test page to see if the connection is working.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 112

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Haiti is again socked
by heavy rains, flooding


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Heavy rains, mudslides and flooding in Haiti have killed at least 23 people, just days into the six-month-long Atlantic hurricane season.

Haiti's civil protection agency said Tuesday most of the deaths occurred in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where a week's worth of torrential downpours has turned streets into rivers and forced people to flee to their rooftops.  

But the rains have also inundated the crowded slums and tent camps where thousands of people remain after losing their homes during Haiti's devastating earthquake last year.

Aid agencies are warning the flooding could aggravate the cholera outbreak that has killed thousands since October.

Haiti's new president, Michel Martelly, is urging residents to keep calm as the storm passes over the battered nation, the Western Hemisphere's poorest. 

The storm is sweeping across other countries in the Caribbean, and forecasters are warning of possible flash floods in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, as well as Cuba and Jamaica.  In the Dominican Republic, more than 8,000 people have been evacuated.

Disasters in 2010 displaced
42 million, monitor reports


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

More than 42 million people around the world were displaced by sudden natural disasters in 2010. That’s according to a new study from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

The Geneva-based center has been monitoring conflict and internal displacement since 1998. In 2008, it joined the U.N. in trying to determine a global estimate of people displaced by sudden onset natural disasters.

“The study we just released today is a follow-up to that...looking at global estimates of people displaced…in the world in 2009 and 2010,” said Kate Halff, head of the center.

She added, “If we look at the findings, we found that in 2010 over 42 million people had been estimated displaced as a result of sudden onset disasters, of which 90 percent, or corresponding to 38 million, have been displaced by climate-related disasters.”

Topping the list of climate-related sudden onset disasters are floods and storms.





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