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(506) 223-1327        Published Thursday, June 15, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 118        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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A.M. Costa Rica photo
The rain stimulates what is called locally the reina de la noche.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Locals take the daily downpours in stride, expecially when the umbrella is near.

Plants are drinking up the daily downpours
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The rain continues to fall, but the upside is a burst of colors as vegetation responds to the attention from the sky.

Woe to those who forget their umbrella, especially in the afternoon. The weather has settled into a pattern of starting to dump water about 1 p.m. in the Central Valley. The rains usually last for four or five hours. For the last few days, the total has been about a half-inch per day.

The sometimes heavy downpours clean streets rapidly.

The reina de la noche, the local name for angel's trumpet, a small tree of the family  Solanaceae, puts forth its cascades of evening
flowers when properly watered. The flowers are intoxicating — not only to evening strollers but for creative youngsters.

The plant's leaves contain atropine, which can cause hallucinations. So when a half-dozen boys became sick and convulsive at a local shelter last month, officials knew exactly what to seek: tea brewed from la reina de la noche leaves.

Such activity is not recommended because the amount of drug in each plant can vary greatly. The boys recovered, and likely will move on to other plants.

Meanwhile, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional, which is not prone to hallucinations or delirium, warns again that continuing rain can bring more flooding and landslides.

World Cup will have to wait for another day
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Posted at 9:45 a.m.)
Ecuador trounced Costa Rica today, 3-0, in World Cup action.

The defeat left winless Costa Rica with just one more game — against equally unsuccessful Poland Tuesday. Both are 0-2.

Ecuador and Germany face off the same day, and both will move up a level in the competition regardless of outcome. Both
teams are now 2-0. Ecuador has never advanced this far in the World Cup in the past.

Just like with Germany Friday, Costa Rica seemed to lack a coherent attack strategy. The team played as individuals.

Ecuador put in one goal in the first half and put in two more in the second half.

Costa Rica failed to capitalize on what appeared to scoring opportunities.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 15, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 118

Costa Rica Expertise
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A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
 Carlos Monge Jimenez, a greenhouse technician, checks
 out one of the trees that will be donated.

5,000 trees being given out

By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The private association that looks after the roads and their beauty is donating 5,000 small trees to a number of different institutions.

This is traditional in marking the day of the tree.

The organization is the Asociacion de Seguridad y Embellecimiento de Carreteras Nacionales, a non-profit group that has worked for 30 years to keep highways clean and planted with vegetation.

A ceremony took place at the association's greenhouse facilities in Pavas Wednesday. Some 40 institutions, ranging from schools, high schools, and government centers will benefit by the gift of trees.

Marco Antonio Tioli , association president, said that the values of conservation and biodiversity stem from the realization of the benefits that plants produce.

Minimum salary goes
up 6 percent July 1

By the A.M. Costas Rica staff

The Costa Rican minimum wages will go up 6 percent as of July 1.

That was the decision of the  Consejo Nacional de Salarios which sets the salaries after hearing proposals from labor unions and an organization of employers.

Costa Rica does not have a single minimum wage.  Instead, each job category has its salario minimo.

The current minimum salaries are posted by the Ministerio de Trabajo here.

A  warehouse worker has a minimum salary of 144,825 colons per month. That's $283. A receptionist earns 155,588 colons or $304. A university graduate must be paid at least 253,018 colons or $494. Each will get a 6 percent raise.

Some wages are set by the day. These, too, will go up.

Although Costa Ricans may be paid more than the minimum, the bulk of employees work for what the law stipulates.

Because the colon declines in value each day, the wage increase is merely an adjustment for inflation. Union officials say 6 percent is not enough. Wages went up about the same percent Jan. 1.

Trash collection scheduled

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials in Desamparados will collect non-traditional trash for two days later this month to help eliminate the breeding spots for mosquitos that carry dengue in critical areas.

Of particular interest are junk tires that can fill with rain and host hundreds of mosquito larvae. The areas are Fátima and Los Guidos.

The collections will be June 24 and 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the municipality said.

Our reader's opinion

It's their anti-militarism

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As always my morning starts with a cup of Costa Rica coffee and a persusal of A.M. Costa Rica. Your article today about the difficulties of  U.S. or other foreign military vessels landing in national waters or airfields was interesting.

I need to take issue, however, with the statement that the procedural issues which effectively prohibit these vessels from R&R stops in Costa Rica may "....stem(s) from disagreement with the war on drugs or simply anti-Americanism..."

In over 30 years of visiting Costa Rica I've not experienced any more anti-Americanism in Costa Rica than other parts of the world, including many North American cities. I believe the procedural difficulties can be traced to a national sentiment of anti-militarism rather than anti-Americanism, and that is clearly the right of the Costa Rica people.

Jeff Blume
Ventura, California
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 15, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 118

They have
a team, too

The Dutch citizens here want you to know they have a World Cup team, too.

They cheered their team to a 1-0 victory over Serbia Montenegro early Sunday.

Others of the orange persuasion may gather with their countrymen Friday at 10 a.m. when Holland plays the Ivory Coast and Wednesday at 1 p.m. when it faces Argentina. The location is the Jazz Café in San Pedro.

Photo courtesy of the Embassy of the Netherlands

Prison system is going to market its products
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The situation would warm the heart of any entrepreneur: a big workforce and a guaranteed market.

Except that the workers are prisoners and the market is government agencies.

The concept is the idea of the Ministerio de Justicia y Gracia, and it was explained Wednesday to government officials at the weekly Consejo de Gobierno.

Fernando Ferraro, the acting minister, explained the project “Alianzas para una mejor gestión institucional” or alliance for a better institutional management. He
said that government agencies would be urged to acquire products made in the prison centers of the country, according to a summary by Casa Presidencial.

He said an advantage for the project is that the prices would be less than that offered on the open market. In addition, the program would create sources of work and provide technical information to prisoners who could then improve their chances of success in society when they left the institution.

He said that products under the program include concrete fabrication for construction, agriculture, including the growing of annual and perennial crops, and production of eggs. He also named the production and finishing of cows, pigs, birds and even tilapia.

Canadians planning a bake-off for nation's birthday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What could be more Canadian than apple pie? Perhaps a mountie in full uniform sans horse?

Both the pie and the mountie will be featured when the Canadian Club of Costa Rica holds its annual celebration of Canada's birthday. That will be July 1 at the Florida Bebidas picnic area in Alajuela east of the Juan Santamaría international airport and west of Cariari Mall, said the club. The event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The entrance fee is 2,500 colons ($4.90) for adults and 1,000 colons  for children.  All money raised goes
to support the club's outreach program for the underprivileged in Costa Rica.  Money is raised through raffles, and  prizes are presented as well as entertainment for children and adults, the club said.

The apple pie is the center of attention at a bake-off seeking the best apple pie with money prizes to be awarded.  To register for the contest, bakers should contact treasurer@canadianclubcr.com 

The mountie, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, will be present in full regalia, said the club. This is the epitome of ‘Canadiana,’ and participants are encouraged to have their photos taken with the mountie, the club said.

Stolen at gunpoint in
Desamparados Saturday aternoon
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Plate No. 571158
Color blue

Last seen traveling Sunday from Guadalupe to Hatillo
If seen, call 911. Do not approach.

¢100,000-colon reward for information
leading to recovery.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 15, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 118

New tidal power generator has few moving parts
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

What happens if you run an electric motor backwards?

That is exactly what researchers Steve Turnock and Suleiman Abu-Sharkh from the University of Southampton asked themselves after they had successfully built an electric motor for tethered underwater vehicles.

The well-known answer to this question is that it stops being a motor and becomes a generator. Instead of using electricity to turn a propeller and drive the vehicle along, the flow of water turns the propeller, generating electricity. What’s new about the Southampton design is its simplicity.

“This is a compact design that does away with many of the moving parts found in current marine turbines. It’s a new take on tidal energy generation,” said Turnock.

The concept would seem to have many applications in Costa Rica where coastlines, rivers and streams are abundant.

Most current tidal stream generators are essentially wind turbines turned upside down and made to work underwater. They often include complex gearboxes and move the entire assembly to face the flow of the water. For example, they turn a half a circle as the tidal current reverses direction.

Gears and moving parts require expensive maintenance, especially when they are used underwater. This pushes up the cost of running the turbines, a cost that is passed on to the consumers of the generated electricity. The Southampton design does not need to turn around because the design of its turbine blades means that they turn equally well, regardless of which way the water flows past them. The blades are also placed in a specially shaped housing that helps channel the water smoothly through the turbine.

Another beauty of the Southampton design is that everything is wrapped in a single package that can be prefabricated so there will be few on-site construction costs. “Just drop it into flowing water and it will start generating electricity. It will work best in fast flowing, shallow water,” says Turnock,

Engineering and Physical Sciences
Research Council photos

This is the prototype on which tests were run

The few components of the electric generator.

who foresees rows of these devices secured to sea floors and riverbeds.

The present prototype is just 25 centimetres (about 9 inches) across, and the research team now plans to design a larger model with improved propeller blades that will further increase the efficiency of generating electricity. The team envisage the generator becoming commercially available within five years.

The researchers used funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the United Kingdom's government funding agency.

U.N. committee calls for vote by Puerto Ricans on the island's future
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The special committee of the United Nations General Assembly that deals with decolonization issues has adopted a text calling for an expedited process in Puerto Rico to determine what kind of relationship the territory’s population would prefer to have with the United States. The action came Tuesday.

The unanimously adopted resolution, sponsored by Cuba, will be submitted to the full assembly in its next session and would also have that body support an investigation into the Sept. 23 assassination of pro-independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios and violent acts against others.

If the text is adopted by the full assembly, it would also call on the United States to respect fundamental human rights in Puerto Rico, pay for the clean-up and
 decontamination of areas of the island affected by
U. S. military activities, and address the ensuing serious environmental and health consequences. 

As in previous years, the special committee’s text called on the president of the United States to release Puerto Rican political prisoners serving prison sentences for more than 25 years for cases relating to the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico and the demilitarization of Vieques Island, which had been used for combat exercises by the U.S. military. 

Many petitioners speaking over two days, including representatives of Puerto Rico’s main political parties, supported the text, saying that the island’s current relationship with the United States was deeply flawed and had stunted its socio-economic development and allowed the exploitation of its natural resources by American companies and the U. S. Navy. 

Jo Stuart
About us

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