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(506) 2223-1327               Published Wednesday, June 16, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 117        E-mail us
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Competitivity has two faces: Abstract and concrete

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There were two developments in the area of competitivity Tuesday.

President Laura Chinchilla invited business leaders to discuss with her administration the challenges of competitivity with the goal of making Costa Rica the first developed nation in Latin America.

Meanwhile, in an appeals courtroom judges declined to lift a ban on the open pit gold mine in Cutris de San Carlos because a lower court had not issued a final ruling. The company, Industrias Infinito S.A., cannot continue with the work of developing the mine even though former president Óscar Arias Sánchez declared it to be in the national interest.

At issue are over 100 hectares of trees that would be cut to develop the mine. The Sala IV constitutional court already has ruled on the mine, and magistrates even visited the site. But the Tribunal de Apelaciones del Contencioso Administrativo del Segundo Circuito Judicial ruled in favor of nature.

A Sala IV decision in 2008 gave protection to the almendro amarillo, a tree that is on the mine site. Known in English as the mountain almond tree, it is the preferred home of the great green macaw, which is endangered.

Infinito, the Costa Rican subsidiary of a Canadian company, has spent 10 years in developing the mine, which is controversial. Nevertheless, the company has obtained all the required permits. It also promises to plant 10 trees for every one it has to cut down.

Since beginning the project, the price of gold has

Ms. Chinchilla
Casa Presidencial photo
Ms. Chinchilla at the Am-Cham event
soared, which will mean a windfall for the company and the country if production ever starts.

But Infinito and its Crucitas mine is not a great example for large companies that are thinking of locating here. In addition if environmental activists succeed in derailing the mining project, Costa Rica faces the possibility of being assessed with a gigantic award by an international arbitration panel.

The concept that judges must rule in favor of nature every time represents a threat to just about any development. Taken to extreme a contractor could not destroy grass and trees to build a house or an office complex.

A Japanese biological research team reported Tuesday that more than a dozen animals a month are dying from vehicles on the Costanera Sur near the Parque Nacional Carara. Some of these are ocelots, sloth and animals that are threatened.

The transport ministry would have no option but to close the highway so that animals will not be killed if the concept of always favoring nature were enshrined into law.

Former president Abel Pacheco proposed a constitutional amendment in favor of nature in 2002. The amendment has many aspects, but one said that the proposal would instruct the courts that in an environment case, any doubt must be resolved in favor of nature.

The constitutional reform reached the floor of the Asamblea Legislativa, but was sidetracked by other measures and a change in the committee makeup of the lawmaking body. Now the concept that the law must favor nature applies to the mountain almond tree.

What Infinito is finding out is that there always is another piece of paper to file or another court action and that individual citizens can generate massive court cases on projects they do not like.

Mrs. Chinchilla was speaking to a seminar on competitivity arranged by the Cámara Costarricense- Norteamericana de Comercio, known as Am-Cham.

She said her administration has identified five priority areas: human capital, foreign investment, financing, development of infrastructure, and regulations and the application process.

She spoke specifically about the paperwork necessary to open a business and permits for construction and hiring workers.

She said Costa Rica wanted to be among the first in economic development leadership in productivity, competitivity and innovation.

Ms. Chinchilla also has gone on record in opposition of any new open pit mines.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 117

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Evo Morales
Comité de Campaña Evo Premio Nobel de la Paz 2010 
Evo Morales with a dove on his head

Campaign for Evo Morales
has eyes on Nobel Prize

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Barack Obama got one without even raising a sweat. Now Evo Morales has been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

He's the president of Bolivia, and part of the justification for the award, according to supporters, is that he fought to dignify the original peoples of Bolivia, America and the world. He also defends nature and respects cultural diversity, they said.

This is not the first time that Morales has been put forward for the prize. Supporters nominated him last year, too.

This is part of a trend to make public the campaign that supporters launch for their Peace Prize favorites.

Supporters, including Argentine social activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, are urging an e-mail campaign to the Nobel Prize committee. Pérez Esquivel, himself a 1980 Nobel winner, wrote a letter that is posted on an Argentine Web site promoting Morales.

The campaign committee already has sent out 15 bulletins this year promoting their choice. Considering the uncertain qualifications employed by the Norwegian politicians who choose the Peace Prize recipient, Morales just might make it. Al Gore did for his controversial climate change film.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee has tight rules on who can make a formal nomination. Pérez Esquivel can because he is a former winner. Other so-called qualified nominators are members of national legislatures, international court judges, certain university professors and individuals associated with the Nobel Committee and board members of organizations that have been awarded the prize.

Pérez Esquivel said that the nomination of Morales went to the Nobel committee Jan. 6. But he provides a draft of a letter of support anyone can copy and send.

Costa Rica's Óscar Arias Sánchez received the Peace Prize in 1987 for his role in ending the Central American wars. That honor certainly added stature to the former president and the nation.

This year's winner will be announced in October. Last year there were more than 200 nominations.

The committee notes that Mahatma Gandhi was nominated four times and never won the prize because of his assassination in 1948. Prizes are not awarded posthumously.

Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were nominated, the committee said. Winston Churchill was nominated for the Peace Prize but did not make the cut. He won the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature instead, the committee noted.

Other non-winners of the Peace Prize include Leo Tolstoy, the Russian literary giant, Pablo Casals, the Spanish musician, and Juan and Eva Perón.


Missing dog prompts reward offer

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An Heredia woman said that her Lassie lookalike and best
Lost dog
Missing collie Dos
friend is missing. The dog is called Dos, and she was last seen on the streets close to Hredia Centro.

The owner, Molly Mutt, promises a reward.

She can be contacted at 2483-0034 or 2267-6642 and via e-mail to muttmolly@msn.com


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A.M. Costa Rica guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

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A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

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Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

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Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 117

Krav maga
Rock and Roll

studnet march
A.M. Costa Rica/Manuel Avendaño Arce
Marchers forced motorists to find another route.
U.S. students among those seeking bigger university budgets
By Manuel Avendaño Arce.
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

American university students joined the march Tuesday as perhaps 2,500 persons demonstrated for more money for public higher education.

At least 14 U.S. citizens were in the line of march from the Universidad de Costa Rica to Casa Presidencial.

Mary Jane Doodgley is one. She is an anthropology student from Rhode Island and is studying at the university. She said that the government should give more money to the universities so they can develop research and technology, two areas in which the country scores low in a report by the World Economic Forum.

Bob Scott said he was from South Carolina and is here for six months studying theater and Spanish at the university. "Costa Rica is a beautiful country," he said, "but apart from this it has a good quality of education, which can decline if the universities do not have money."

Yamileth González, rector of the Universidad de Costa Rica, later told a reporter that 34 percent of the students there are foreigners and that the university needs more money to improve the quality of education and get even more foreign students. Foreign students pay more unless
they are permanent residents and have completed three years in secondary school here.

The marchers left the San Pedro university grounds in the company of two more rectors: Sandra León of the Universidad Nacional in Heredia and Eugenio Trejos of the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica in Cartago. They were joined later by union representatives and students from the Universidad Estatal a Distancia.

The marchers did not win many friends on the Circunvalación that was blocked for a time. Some 450 students and professors also blocked the way on Avenida Central near Mall San Pedro as they waited to march.

Leonardo Garnier, minister of Educación Pública, said that the rectors had an unreachable dream. They want more than $1 billion. Right now the public universities get less than half that. The budgetary amount is expressed in a percentage of the gross domestic product. Now the universities get 1.23 percent or about 227 billion colons. They want 2.4 percent or 600 billion colons. The government has offered 1.3 percent or 400 billion colons.

After lunch, President Laura Chinchilla met with the rectors and other representatives. That was less than an hour after the strong morning sun gave way to a downpour that broke up the march.


Acción Ciudadana unhappy with special allocations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An agreement among the major parties that gives them control of the legislature is just a device to hand out money, the Partido Acción Ciudadana said Tuesday night.

The political party was reacting to approval by legislators of Liberación Nacional, Movimiento Liberatrio, Unidad Social Cristiana and Accesibilidad Sin Exclusión of a supplementary budget.

The budget awards 85 million colons to improvements at the Guápiles stadium and 113 million colons to a controversial Boulevar de los Ex-Presidentes in Heredia. 85
million colons is about $158,000.
Gustavo Arias, an Acción Ciudadana lawmakers, said the money should have been used for social purposes. The stadium is being operated by a private entity, the party statement said.

The Boulevar de los Ex-Presidentes in Heredia is generally seen as a tribute to former president Óscar Arias Sánchez, who grew up there.

Juan Carlos Mendoza, chief of the Acción Ciudadana delegation, said that lawmakers should not go around with a briefcase full of money handing cash out to special causes.

Some of the money should have been used to get rid of slums, the lawmakers said.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 117


Scientists report progress in creating malaria vaccine

By The Rockefeller University news service

There is no vaccine for malaria, which sickens almost a quarter of a billion people each year and kills a child every 30 seconds. That could be changing. Researchers at The Rockefeller University have genetically transformed the yellow fever vaccine to prime the immune system to fend off the mosquito borne parasites that cause malaria. The researchers found that the modified vaccine, along with a booster, provided mice with immunity to the deadly disease.

Malaria is one of the most pressing health crises of developing countries: in communities stricken by infection, attendance at work and school drops, and poverty deepens. It has been known since the 1960s that one form of the malaria parasite — called the sporozoite — can wake up the immune system and help to protect against future infection. The only way to gather sporozoites, however, is to pluck them one-by-one from the salivary glands of irradiated, malaria-ridden mosquitoes. To provide immunity, the attenuated parasites must then be injected in high doses — or delivered by the bites of hundreds of mosquitoes — a labor intensive approach not feasible for large-scale use.

“We needed to come up with another way to get the benefits of sporozoite immunization,” said Charles M. Rice, head of the Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease. Along with researchers from Michel C. Nussenzweig’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller and colleagues at New York University, Rice and his team considered that fighting infection with infection might be the key. They began experimenting with the attenuated yellow fever strain used in the yellow fever vaccine, known as YF17D, which has been used to successfully vaccinate more than 400 million people since 1937. Previous work in the Rice laboratory and by others had shown that this vaccine strain could be modified to include short sequences from other pathogens, including malaria.

In experiments published last month in Vaccine, the researchers inserted the nearly complete sequence of a
mosquito
Photo by James Gathany, U.S. Centers for disease Control
 Mosquitoes carry both yellow fever and malaria

malaria gene into the YF17D vaccine and found that the gene could produce its protein in cultured cells. The protein they chose, called CSP, covers the surface of the malaria sporozoite and is thought to be the main reason that this form of the parasite stimulates the immune system so effectively.

Immunization of mice with the YF17D-CSP vaccine led to a measurable jump in immune activity against the malaria protein, but the single shot was not enough to protect the animals from infection with the mouse form of the malaria parasite.

The group therefore added a booster shot to the vaccination regimen. Animals that had been immunized with YF17D-CSP, or with a saline solution control, were given a low dose of irradiated sporozoites. While the saline-sporozoite group was only partially protected from challenge with viable parasites, vaccination with YF17D-CSP plus the sporozoites protected 100 percent of the animals against infection.

“These results are exciting because they show the YF17D-CSP vaccine can prime the immune response against a malaria parasite,” says lead author Cristina Stoyanov. Although the utility of this approach for human immunization is not yet clear, the team hopes that further studies might eventually lead to an effective vaccine.



Coffee gets some good press for preventing diabetes

By the American Chemical Society news service

Scientists are reporting new evidence that drinking coffee may help prevent diabetes and that caffeine may be the ingredient largely responsible for this effect. Their findings, among the first animal studies to demonstrate this apparent link, appear in theAmerican Chemical Society's  bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Coffee and Caffeine Ameliorate Hyperglycemia, Fatty Liver, and Inflammatory Adipocytokine Expression in Spontaneously Diabetic KK-Ay Mice.”

Fumihiko Horio and colleagues note that past studies have suggested that regular coffee drinking may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The disease affects millions in the
 United States and is on the rise worldwide. However, little of that evidence comes from studies on lab animals used to do research that cannot be done in humans.

The scientists fed either water or coffee to a group of laboratory mice commonly used to study diabetes. Coffee consumption prevented the development of high-blood sugar and also improved insulin sensitivity in the mice, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. Coffee also caused other beneficial changes in the fatty liver and inflammatory adipocytokines related to a reduced diabetes risk.

Additional lab studies showed that caffeine may be “one of the most effective anti-diabetic compounds in coffee,” the scientists said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 117

Medical vacations in Costa Rica


violinists
Guillermo Salas and Daniela Arley

Young violinists planning
concert to raise tuition

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two violin students from the National Institute of Music have a chance to attend the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, Vermont.

The problem is money, so the pair will be giving a recital Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Mexican cultural center in Los Yoses to raise money for their tuition.

They are Daniela Arley and Guillermo Salas, described as two talented young Costa Rican violinists. They will perform music by Mendelssohn, Bach, Vivaldi and others, accompanied by members of the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Symphony, said Catherine Hayes, a violin teacher at the institute.

The Green Mountain program begins at the end of the month.

Both pair are university level students at the National Institute of Music and perform with the National Youth Symphony and the Advanced Chamber Orchestra of that institution. Miss Arley was concertmaster of the Central American Youth Orchestra for two years, and Salas was selected to perform for the violinist Midori last June. Both also perform with the Costa Rican Filarmónica and the Heredia Symphony Orchestra.

The recital will be free of charge, but a voluntary contribution is requested and much appreciated, organizers said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 117


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Animal shelter fundraiser
features auction and lunch


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Animal Shelter Costa Rica will hold its Mutt’s Campaign 2010 fundraiser July 3 at Zamora Estates in Santa Ana.

This year’s annual fundraising event is in a new venue for the San Rafael de Heredia Animal Shelter.  The Mutt’s Campaign 2010 fundraiser offers a beautiful setting and includes a gourmet lunch. The event starts at 12:30 p.m. Ticket sales will go towards offsetting the cost of the shelter’s operation and its effective neutering project which travels to remote areas throughout Costa Rica, offering low-cost or free neutering and vaccinations.  

In addition to the luncheon, a live auction will be held offering supporters a chance to bid for prizes. Auctioneer Barry Rein, will help raise more monies for the Animal Shelter. The event has many local sponsors who have donated prizes.

Tickets are available by calling 2267-7158 and 2267-6374 or by e-mail to leighjohn2003@yahoo.com. 

Organizers noted that for several years the shelter benefitted from the efforts of its popular "Rice Table" Asian feast, hosted by board member Penny Santomenno and others.


Four Colombians back
after years with rebels


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Four Colombian men held captive by rebels for nearly 12 years have returned to Bogotá.

The four arrived in the Colombian capital Monday, a day after a military operation in the southeastern province of Guaviare rescued them from the Fuerzas Armadas Revolicionarias de Colombia.

The former police and military hostages got a hero's welcome on their return.

One was found early Monday hiding in the jungle after Sunday's rescue operation scattered the rebels.  Authorities said the operation took six months to plan.

It was one of the highest-profile rescues since military forces freed former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. nationals in 2008.

While most of their funding comes from cocaine trafficking and extortion, the leftist rebels are believed to hold at least 20 police and soldiers, and an unknown number of civilians, for ransom or political leverage.

The rebels have been at war with the Colombian government for more than 45 years. Colombia, the European Union and the United States have designated the rebel group as a terrorist organization.





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