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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, June 9, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 113             E-mail us
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Gunmen rule Limón inlet and chase away police
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Armed men appear to have taken over a Caribbean inlet near Limón. They have threatened persons in boats and ordered them to leave the area. They have fired on the coast guard and police officers who beat a hasty retreat and seem to have forgotten about the incident.

That is the report from the owner of a maritime business in Limón.

The confrontations all stem from the theft of the boat, the La María, which was taken while supposedly being watched by Limón port guards. Thieves took the $30,000 boat that was owned by Industrial Maintenance Divers last month. The story appeared HERE!

Company owner Perry Edwards has not given up the possibility of finding the boat. So some of his employees followed a lead and went upriver from Limón Centro when they heard the boat might be stashed in an inlet.

The waterway is called the Río Cieneguita, and it is more like an inlet just south of Limón Centro.

Edwards said the employees reached a point where someone has hung a net across the waterway to prohibit passage. Three armed men strongly suggested that they go no further. That gave the employees a hint that the boat might be hidden nearby, so they returned two weeks later with police and members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacosta.

The police and members of the coast guard departed when they were greeted with automatic weapon fire, said Edwards. They ran like scared children, he said. He is irked because there does not seem to have been any report of this to higher ups in San José and because the police and members of the coast guard do not appear to want to respond to the challenge of someone blocking a major waterway. There was no further action.

Edwards said it is clear that the stolen boat with its two 150-horsepower outboard engines has been or is being used in drug trafficking. He said he reported this to the Servicio Nacional de Guardacosta, but was told all their boats were down for repairs. He also blamed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for inaction.

Edwards said that his employees again approached the area where the boat may be hidden again Wednesday and again were ordered away by heavily armed men.
Limon map
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Map shows waterway where gunmen chased away law officers

The situation has implications for the United States government, too, because today, with much fanfare, U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew will be handing over two boats to the guardacosta in a ceremony in Caldera on the Pacific. The U.S. Embassy said that President Laura Chinchilla would attend.

Edwards, who now lives in Colombia, also is irked that the La María was stolen in the first place.

He said his employees finally with some difficulty obtained security camera footage that showed clearly the theft of the boat by two men. He said that port employees should have been watching the security television screens and responded to the theft.

He said other boats have suffered major thefts while in the Limón port.

Edwards is the man telecommunications firms call when their undersea cables are cut. His diving firm has special boats and equipment to make these types of repairs. He said his firm has been working offshore from Honduras and has received reports that drug gangs are taking over major parts of the coast. He said he fears the same will happen in Costa Rica.

His fears appear to have substance if armed men are protecting a base near Limón and shooing away Costa Rican authorities. Said Edwards: "What are the people to do? I have over 1,500,000 dollars invested in Limón. But it looks like we may be pulling out. It cannot be that we and police received automatic gun fire and nothing is being done about it. I told police forget about the La Maria. What about the fact that law enforcement and navy received gunfire and nothing is being done or investigated ?"

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Dow Jones creates indexes
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Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Dow Jones Indexes, a leading global index provider, LVA Indices, the leading fixed income index and pricing provider in Chile, and Proveedor Integral de Precios, a leading index and pricing provider in Latin America, have announced the launch of four bond indexes for Costa Rica as part of the Dow Jones LATixx index family. These indexes are designed to measure the performance of the Costa Rican government’s debt instruments in local currency and U.S. dollars.

The Dow Jones LATixx Indexes are designed to serve as a basis for investment products such as exchange-traded funds, structured products, futures and options, Dow Jones said.

“As interest in Costa Rica’s growing economy increases, these indexes will offer investors an opportunity to measure the government’s bond market, both in local currency as well as in U.S. dollars,” said Michael A. Petronella, president, Dow Jones Indexes. “These are the first indexes in the series that measures Costa Rica, specifically.”

“These indexes will offer investors from all over the world an opportunity to observe the emerging economy of Costa Rica in a transparent and understandable way,” said Eduardo Rodriguez, CEO of  Proveedor Integral de Precios Centro América.

“The new indexes will provide local investment managers with the ability to benchmark the performance of their portfolios against Costa Rican government bonds, a critical factor in measuring and analyzing results,” said Gregorio Gonzalez, CEO of  LVA Indices.

The new indexes evaluate fixed and variable rate debt instruments issued by the Ministerio de Hacienda and the Banco Central both in colons and U.S. dollars.

For more information is available at, including historical data with a base of Aug. 31, 2009.

Hepatitis patients benefited
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Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Advanced hepatitis C patients with chronic liver disease may benefit from drinking coffee during treatment, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association Institute. Patients who received certain medicines and who drank three or more cups of coffee per day were two times more likely to respond to treatment than non-drinkers.

“Coffee intake has been associated with a lower level of liver enzymes, reduced progression of chronic liver disease and reduced incidence of liver cancer,” said Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute and lead author of this study.

Vehicle with tennis shoes
draws tax evasion claim

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers checked the documents of a motorist in north San José Wednesday and found that the vehicle was carrying 117 boxes of tennis shoes. Each box contained one pair.

Suspicious officers quickly detained the driver and a passenger as suspected import tax evaders.

Find out what the papers
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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, Thursday, June 9, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 113
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Prosecutors follow up on TV report and make Parrita arrests
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors have again acted after a television show revealed possible wrongdoing. This time the arrests were in Parrita.

Agents detained two women and five men Wednesday, including the former mayor of Parrita, Gerardo Acuña Calderón. The bulk of the arrests were made at the Parrita municipal building where many of the suspects work, said the Poder Judicial.

A year ago Telenoticias, the Channel 7 news show, revealed that a number of individuals who supposedly had received Christmas bonuses from the municipality had no knowledge of the payments. Some had worked for the municipality but were no longer employed there.
The television station managed to obtain checks issued to individuals and apparently cashed by a local bank. In interview after interview, Parrita residents said they had no knowledge of the payments.

Prominent in the television show was Acuña. The television station alleged that someone in the municipality had issued the checks and someone managed to exchange them for cash at the local bank.

The women who were detained have the last names of Delgado Barquero and García Sandí. The four other men were identified by the last names of Torres Vargas, Céspedes Durán, Núñez Leiva and Acuña González.
The allegations involve embezzlement of public money, the Poder Judicial said.

That famous highway bridge will be out of service again
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Autopista General Cañas bridge over the Río Virilla is being closed again Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This is another step in the two-year-long effort to repair the bridge. Once again the firm Soares Da Costa will be pouring concrete to cover rebar that has been exposed by heavy traffic.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes is quick to point out that the repairs do not involve sections that were just repaired.

The traffic has crumbled the concrete top layer of the
bridge. This is the famous platina bridge, called that because a plate over an expansion joint became loose. The ministry closed the bridge during Christmas in an effort to repair it.

Engineering sources not connected with the ministry have suggested that there is something fundamentally wrong with the span that causes it to vibrate excessively, thus damaging the roadbed.

The highway is the one that connects San José with Alajuela and Juan Santamaría airport.

The Policía de Tránsito will be on duty Sunday to direct motorists to detours.

Government spends less than budgeted for security
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Contraloría de la República, the nation's budget watchdog, said that the central government has not spent all it has budgeted for security over the last four years.

The agency blamed faulty planning, lack of personnel, the inability to generate purchase orders and other reasons. 
The government spent from 88 to 93 percent of what it had budgeted.

The agency asked the central government to conduct a thorough analysis and make systematic corrections. It noted that citizen security was the No. 1 concern of the citizenry and that many were unsatisfied with the response of the government to rising crime.

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CR home

A fish X-ray reveals detailed anatomical features. These will be available online.
fish x-ray
Scripps Institution of Oceanography photo

Long-overlooked fish archive will be available digitally

By the Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Soon researchers, students and even fishermen will have access to digital files containing details and even X-rays of fish from the eastern Pacific.

In the 1960s and 70s, Richard Rosenblatt, a marine biologist at California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, set out on field expeditions to remote places to study the fish of the Pacific Ocean.

During trips south to Mexican waters, Rosenblatt and other scientists retrieved hundreds of specimens of various species. Most were incorporated into the Scripps Marine Vertebrate Collection, a fish archive used by scientists around the world.

The collections formed the basis of studies on the systematics of marine fish by Rosenblatt and others. But due primarily to a lack of space at Scripps, much of the treasure trove remained unsorted. These and more recent collections of fish now number more than 400 inside containers big and small.

A decade ago, the Marine Vertebrate Collection moved to a new location on the Scripps campus, providing the needed space to process the samples.

"Each of these containers could include a couple of different species, or dozens in some cases, but from a collection or a scientific perspective, we don't know what's in those jars," said marine biologist Phil Hastings, who took over as curator of the fish collection from Rosenblatt in 1999.

"They potentially provide new data on the diversity, distribution and abundance of fish throughout the region, but until they are fully processed they are of limited scientific value."

He'll soon find out what's in those jars.

Thanks to an award from the National Science Foundation, Hastings and colleagues have begun opening the mysterious containers.

"This unique collection from historical and remote locations may hold insights into understanding biodiversity and ecosystem changes in the ocean's pelagic zone," said Anne Maglia, program director in National Science Foundation's Division of Biological Infrastructure, which awarded the grant. A pelagic zone is any water in a sea or lake that is not close to the bottom or near to the shore.

"By rescuing and digitizing these irreplaceable
Scripps director
Scripps Institution of Oceanography photo
Phil Hastings with specimens to be incorporated into the Scripps collection.

specimens," Ms. Maglia said, "the data they hold will become available to researchers around the world studying systematics, biogeography, and environmental change."

Scripps graduate student Grant Galland, for example, will use the specimens to further his research on historical changes in fish communities in the Gulf of California. Galland has conducted field work in many of the same areas as Rosenblatt's historical expeditions, and will compare how today's marine environment has changed over the past 40 years or more.

Also through the award, Scripps staff members will scan and post in the collection's online database catalog records and handwritten field notes made at the time specimens were gathered in the wild.

These often provide information about the habitat, environmental conditions at the time of capture, other species observed in the area, and descriptions of freshly caught fishes.

The award also will allow Hastings to archive more than 27,000 fish specimens from remote areas of the ocean.

The specimens, collected by scientists working across 2,000 locations in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, were recently acquired as orphans from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, part of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

A high-tech X-ray machine will generate digital files of specimens to allow fish scientists from near and far to study detailed anatomical features, such as the number of fin rays and vertebrae and details of bone structure of the specimens.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 9, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 113

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Still no firm answers
over origins of E. coli

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The cause of the E. coli outbreak in Germany remains a mystery.  The outbreak is the deadliest in modern history with at least two-dozens deaths and more than 2,400 people sickened.  Eleven other European nations and the United States also report E. coli cases and say most of the victims had visited Germany.

But some health officials in the United States say it may be just a matter of time before a similar E.coli outbreak happens in the United States.

International medical researchers are racing to find a cause of the world's deadliest E. coli outbreak that began in Germany May 2.  Experts have been unable to pinpoint the source of a rare super toxic strain of E. coli bacteria that has killed dozens and sickened thousands.  At least four people in America who visited Germany became sick.

Dr. Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist at Georgetown Hospital in Washington expects more cases in the U.S. soon.

"There is so much international travel between the U.S. and Europe I think it is completely conceivable that in the next few weeks we could be seeing some outbreaks of this potentially new and more virulent strain of E. coli here in the United States," she said.

E. coli is an abbreviation for Escherichia, which is a large and diverse group of bacteria. Most strains are harmless, others can cause illness. Symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. The major source is cattle, but other animals, foods and liquids may spread contamination to people.

The E. coli outbreak in Germany has left hundreds of people hospitalized with life threatening kidney complications.  It comes as U.S. health officials released data showing an increasing number of people were sickened by rare forms of E. coli bacteria in America last year.

Pat Buck is executive director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention.  She founded the organization in 2006 after her grandson Kevin died from eating food tainted with E. coli bacteria.  Ms. Buck says more can be done to improve U.S. food safety standards.

"Look at the connections between humans and animals and environments and see where these things connect because it is through the zoonotic diseases importantly that we end up with foodborne illness," she said.

Dr. Chutkan says the nasty form of E. coli hitting Europe illustrates the need for testing more foods in the United States for rare strains of the bacteria.

"One of the frightening and rather challenging aspects that this outbreak has illustrated is that foodborne illness can affect many different types of food and we thought of E. coli in the past as something that has been more strongly associated with meat but now we are seeing it in produce:  tomatoes, cucumbers, potentially sprouts and maybe lettuce," she said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has alerted state health departments to the ongoing outbreak and requested information about any people who test positive for the E.coli strain.  The Food and Drug Administration has also stepped up testing of foods imported from affected countries.  There are also new laws in place requiring the Food and Drug Administration to set standards to guard against all kinds of contamination in fresh produce.

Dr. Thomas Tallman, with the Cleveland Clinic Event Medicine, says the E. coli outbreak in Europe should be a wake-up call for people to take extra steps to properly clean fresh vegetables and fruits.

"I buy one of those sprays you can get at the supermarket that you can spray on them and rinse it off right away.  It is not really even a detergent or anything caustic.  But it helps just rinsing them, even just rinsing them with water so you have taken off anything that could be on the fruits and vegetables," he said.

The E.coli outbreak in Europe has led to more pressure from consumer groups for U.S. officials to do more testing for other E. colis in beef.  They also want more stringent regulation over companies that process beef to prevent E. coli contamination at slaughterhouses.

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Monetary fund candidates
on the road seeking backing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Both of the announced candidates to head the International Monetary Fund are visiting key economic powers, seeking support for their rival bids to become the next managing director of the global lender. 

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is in Beijing for a series of meetings with top Chinese financial and political officials.  She arrived Wednesday, after making a similar visit to India, where she did not win a public endorsement of her candidacy.

Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens is planning a visit to India on Friday and Washington on Monday after bringing his campaign to other countries, including Germany and Brazil.  Carstens has said he faces an uphill fight, and he has complained that many European nations backed Ms. Lagarde before all the candidates were announced. Some Latin American nations are backing Carstens.

Emerging nations say their large and growing role in the global economy means it is time to end a tradition of always choosing a European to head the fund.

The top International Monetary Fund job is open because French national Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned last month after being arrested on sexual assault charges.

The International Monetary Fund was established after World War II to lend money to countries in financial trouble.

Seven Costa Rican teams
will enter rafting event

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men's teams, two women's teams and a juvenile team from Costa Rica will compete to win berths in the  world rafting championship 2011 which will be held here in October.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo said that it is expecting participants from 35 countries in October. The ministry also said that 73 percent of the tourists who visit the country by air practice activities that could be considered adventure tourism.

The championship rafting event here will be from Oct. 4 to 11 in Turrialba.

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