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These articles were published Thursday, June 20, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 121
Jo Stuart
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NASA photo
Shuttle Endeavour rolling to a stop Wednesday with chute deployed
Chang and Endeavour back on earth
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — After adverse weather forced waveoffs of landing attempts for two consecutive days at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Commander Ken Cockrell guided the Space Shuttle Endeavour to a smooth landing on Runway 22 here in California's Mojave Desert Wednesday. 

The landing marked the completion of a successful construction, resupply and crew exchange mission to the International Space Station. Onboard was Costa Rican-born Frank Chang Diaz, who was one of two crewmen who did much of the construction in space outside the international station.

After logging 5.8 million miles during 217 orbits, Endeavour's main landing gear touched down just before 11:58 a.m. Costa Rican time. 

The crew members left Endeavour about an hour after landing and Chang and three other  crew members, Cockrell, pilot Paul Lockhart and mission specialist Philippe Perrin of the 


French Space Agency, performed the 
traditional walk-around inspection. 
The astronauts are scheduled to return to the Johnson Space Center at Houston, Texas, today.

Space station Expedition Four crewmen, Col. Yury Onufrienko, Capt. Dan Bursch and  Col. Carl Walz, walked off the shuttle and will be subject to a battery of medical tests after their more than six-month stay in orbit. 

Wednesday's landing was the 49th to conclude at Edwards, while another 59 shuttle missions have landed in Florida, and one in New Mexico.

Endeavour's primary mission was to deliver and install a mobile base system for the station's robotic arm and transport the Expedition Five crew to the space station, and return the Expedition Four crew to Earth. 

In addition, Chang and Perrin replaced a faulty joint on the station's robotic arm, and the shuttle delivered some 5,600 pounds of equipment and supplies to the space station.

U.S. team surprises all and gears for Friday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The world is pretty much turned upside down, at least as far as Costa Rican soccer fans are concerned. 

The celebrated "Sele" or Costa Rican Selection, has returned home and the U.S. national team is just three victories away from the World Cup.

And this from a country where football means a forward pass.

The U.S. team tackles three-time world champion Germany in Ulsan, Korea, in a quarterfinal match Friday night at 8:30 p.m. local time. That’s 5:30 a.m. Costa Rican time.

Most Costa Ricans are not jealous over the U.S. team success. Many were astounded and delighted that the Americans beat Mexico 2-0. They were more interested in seeing the Mexicans defeated and eliminated from World Cup action. 

That the Americans won is pretty much of an accident, some Costa Ricans said. Nearly all are aware that soccer ranks lower than bowling in the U.S. sports hierarchy.

Costa Rica never made the quarterfinals. In fact, it was not even one of the 16 teams that battled for quarterfinal slots.

Germany's soccer team has an impressive record in the World Cup, with 15 straight appearances, second only to Brazil. The squad won three championships representing West Germany in 1954, 1974, and 1990..

But the team struggled to get to Korea. Germany needed to beat Ukraine in a playoff just to make it to this year's World Cup finals. The Germans were in Group E with Saudi Arabia, Cameroon and Ireland. While the team has a lot of critics, international football commentator Derek Rae says they are putting too much emphasis on the team's 5-1 home qualifying loss to England. 

"So many people are writing off the Germans, and it is always a foolish thing to do. People who should know better are saying this is a dreadful German team," he says. " I've heard it all before. Certainly this is not the German team of old, but some young players are starting to come through the system." 

German coach Rudi Voller will be missing key players because of injuries. 

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Roger Crouse will go to trial in August, lawyer says
by Saray Ramírez Vindas
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Roger Crouse will get more justice than he wanted.

His lawyer confirmed Wednesday that the Playas del Coco bar owner will have a full-scale criminal trial Aug. 8 or thereabouts.

Crouse has been jailed since last Aug. 19 because he shot a man who came at him with a knife in the bar. 

After a hearing May 23, Judge Margarita Miranda ordered Crouse held over for trial. He had hoped that the judge would find that he acted in self defense.

Now he is facing a possible conviction of premeditated murder which carries a sentence of  from 12 to 18 years in prison.

Defense lawyer Marilyn Jiménez said that the trial will be handled in the Liberia courts because the Santa Cruz courts that have jurisdiction have a full schedule. She said she felt very positive about the trial and that she has found much support for Crouse even among the police in Playas del Coco. 

Crouse never has been a problem in that community, she said, adding that she could not say the same thing about the man Crouse shot.

Aimed Caravaca, the fiscal or prosecutor in the case, has decided not to speak with reporters and now 

refers all questions to public relations personnel in the court system.

The dead man was identified as Miguel Antonio Villegas Salguero, in his 30s. He had created a disturbance in the bar earlier in the evening. Police came and took him away and placed him in custody.

For some reason still not made clear, police let the man go about two hours later, and he returned immediately to the bar. 

Crouse has been in preventative detention since, and he frequently calls reporters to discuss his case. He said last week that he was pretty much out of money after battling the charge for nearly a year.

He went through a handful of lawyers until he found Ms. Jiménez. 

Crouse also is facing a six-figure action by the family of the man he killed. They seek unspecified damages. At one point, prosecutors said they would free him on bail if he could come up with $60,000, but he said he did not have the money.

The main witness in the case is the waitress at Crouse’s bar. She is expected to testify.

Crouse’s lawyer complained at a May 23 hearing that the case had not been investigated sufficiently.  Later Crouse reported that investigators had visited the bar, which by this time had been ravaged by vandals and thieves. He has been in remarkably good humor.

Defensor warns government to change course
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The defensor de los habitantes asked the government Wednesday to change the country’s political and social course and reform the way public investments are made for social purposes.

"The county attacks poverty, but it doesn’t win," said the defensor, José Manuel Echandi Meza.

He and his assistant, Max Alberto Esquivel Faerron, 
warned that unless the government acts, the country will face paralysis. They urged the government to reform the Constitution so that a minimum of 20 percent of the country’s gross national product is directed toward health, 
housing, social assistance and other anti-poverty programs.

The country spent about 17 percent of its total amount of goods and 

services in the most recent accounting. Over the last decade, the investment has been around 20 percent.

At the same time, the two defensors said that mechanisms must be set up to evaluate internally and externally the country’s social agencies. They suggested that universities could set up the external evaluations.

The constitutional reform would seem to be needed because the Sala IV constitutional court last month rejected the laws that dedicate allocations from the budget to specific uses. The court said the chief 

executive should be in charge of allocating money from the national budget, not lawmakers.

The public statement by the defensors said that a public agency must be set up and strengthened to evaluate the social programs on a continuing basis. This job would seem to be broader to what the Defensor de los Habitantes does now. The agency is an ombudsman that handles individual cases.

Some 851 billion colons (about $2.8 billion at the existing rate of exchange) were invested in social services in 2000, the public statement said, yet 150,000 families still cannot cover their basic living needs.

The statement called the lack of adequate housing one of the principal factors that contribute to the continuation of poverty. They also called for more investment in all levels of education and also in the nation’s drinking water supply. They said the existing water rates were adequate to maintain service but that government must make more investments to expand the infrastructure.

The two men spoke of a lack of public confidence in public institutions and a reduction in institutional credibility. They said the government agencies practice an unnecessary rigidity and did not have a clear understanding of the difference between the means and the ends of social initiatives. That was a nice way of saying the agencies are wrapped up in details instead of doing their main job.

They also said that the current national pension program could not be sustained and that the program would take money from social programs.
The Defensor de los Habitantes is a free-standing government office, and the defensor is selected by the national assembly. Echandi is the third person to hold the office in its present form.

Man shot on street
dies in hospital

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man shot while walking on Calle 12 near the downtown June 11 has died in the hospital.

The man, Marvin Blanco Montero, was one of two persons injured when two men on a motorcycle started shooting, investigators said at the time. The second peson, a women, Silvia Madríz Muñoz, suffered only minor wounds.

Blanco, described as indigent, died Wednesday night in Hospital Calderón Guardia. The shooting happened between Avenidas 3 and 5.

Police rescue kids
in abduction case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police managed to rescue three children, 3, 7 and 10, believed kidnapped after a family dispute by their father.

The drama took place Monday on a finca in San Fernando de Cutrís, said investigators. A man came to a dwelling where the youngsters were and threatened them with death if they did not go with him.

Police mobilized and found the youngsters in Las Tiricias on the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border. The man involved fled over the border, said agents, and the investigation determined that the suspect was the children’s father.

25 win permission
to live in States

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

At least 25 Costa Ricans have been offered immigrant visas to the United States as the result of a lottery set up for the purpose.

They were among the 50,000 winners of the contest that attracted 6.2 million entries, according to the U.S. State Department.

Some 2.5 million entries were disqualified for technical reasons or because they arrived before or after the entry period, which was the month of October 2001.

The United States runs the random lottery for countires that are underrepresented in U.S. immigration. A separate agreement designates 5,000 visas for residents of Nicaragua and Central America during the multi-year course of the program. This year the bulk of the visas went to Cuba with 529, according to a State Department release.

The entry period this year will be noon, Monday, Oct. 7, until noon, Wednesday, Nov. 6.

Bush targets AIDS
for major initiative

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President George W. Bush has announced a major program for African and Caribbean countries hard hit by AIDS to reduce the transmission of the disease from infected mothers to their babies. The $500 million effort is targeted at more than a dozen of the most severely affected nations. 

The president said action is crucial. He said young lives are at stake and something must and will be done. "Worldwide, close to 2,000 babies are infected with HIV every day during pregnancy, birth or through breast feeding. Most of those infected will die before their fifth birthday," Bush said. 

He said new advances in treatment provide the ability to dramatically reduce the transmission rate. Bush said the key is to get these new drugs to the women and infants who need them. "Today, I announce that my administration plans to make $500 million available to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This new effort, which will be funded during the next 16 months will allow us to treat one million women annually and reduce mother-to-child transmission by forty percent within five years or less in target countries," Bush said.

Much of the $500 million will cover the cost of anti-AIDS medications that are administered before or shortly after birth. The remainder will be used largely to boost healthcare delivery systems, primarily through training and recruitment of personnel. 

In its initial phase, the program will target 12 African countries - eight immediately with another four added late next year. Guyana and Haiti in the Caribbean will also get help, as will regional efforts through the Caribbean Epidemiological Center. 

U.S. wants exemption
for Peacekeepers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The United States is asking the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution exempting U.S. citizens serving in U.N. operations from prosecution by the new International Criminal Court.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Williamson said Wednesday that the United States wants the issue addressed before a vote on the mandate of the U.N. mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is due to expire June 21, and especially before the international court treaty goes into effect July 1.

The United States decided not to accept jurisdiction of the International Court, and it does not want its servicemen brought under its jurisdiction because of service in U.S.-controlled areas.

Fox will open up
secret Mexican files

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MEXICO CITY, México —President Vicente Fox has announced the opening of millions of top-secret files that could unmask government corruption and human rights abuses.

Speaking Tuesday at the National Archives here, Fox said he was fulfilling a campaign promise to create a more open society, not seeking political vengeance against his predecessors. 

The records are believed to contain information on hundreds of political dissidents who disappeared in a so-called "dirty war" against leftist rebels. It is thought that government-backed security forces secretly tortured and killed many of the victims. Critics fear damaging information may have already been removed.

Tuesday's announcement came a week after President Fox signed a freedom of information law requiring government agencies to provide copies of public documents to citizens on request. Fox won the presidency in July 2000, after 71 years of single-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party. His campaign included a promise to expose human rights abuses in Mexico's past.

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Protocols on children
target war, sex abuse

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate approved ratification of two optional protocols aimed at keeping children from being forced into combat and from being forced into prostitution.

Both measures were approved by the Senate unanimously, and now go the White House for President Bush's signature on the instrument of ratification. 

The first protocol, contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, prohibits the use of child soldiers by requiring that nations take "all feasible measures" to ensure that children under age 18 do not participate in armed hostilities, said Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat. It bans involuntary recruitment into the armed forces of children under the age of 18, but also raises the minimum age for voluntary recruitment from age 15 to age 16 or higher, she said.

Sen. Boxer said "an estimated 300,000 children under the age of 18 are currently fighting in more than 30 conflicts around the world. In places like Sierra Leone, children have been kidnapped by rebel groups, given drugs, and forced to commit atrocities."

The second protoco is contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. It requires nations to crack down on child pornography, child prostitution and child slavery, Sen. Boxer said.

"The abuse of children is a global problem. Millions of boys and girls under the age of 18 are bought and sold each year," Boxer said. "Girls are particularly vulnerable. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, girls appear to be forced into the sex industry at increasingly younger ages, partly as a result of the mistaken belief that younger girls are unlikely to be infected with HIV or AIDS."

Boxer said that the Child Soldiers Protocol entered into force Feb. 12 after receiving ratification from 10 nations, and the Sale of Children Protocol entered into force on Jan. 18.

Joseph Bidden, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and a Democrat from Delaware, said "The two treaties on their own will not end those awful practices, but they will establish new international standards that, over the long run, will provide greater protection for children around the world."

The treaty was adopted at the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, but the two optional protocols were not adopted until May 23, 2000, and signed on July 5, 2000.

Foreign airlines
told to fix doors

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Transportation Department has imposed a new security requirement on foreign airlines serving the United States.

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced that foreign airlines must install stronger cockpit doors on aircraft that serve the United States by April 9, 2003, said a Federal Aviation Administration news release. In the transitional period airlines must install temporary locking devices on aircraft doors, the FAA said.

The FAA published in January new standards for cockpit doors to protect flight crews from intrusion and attacks but the rules have not applied to foreign airlines. Now FAA will require foreign airlines to conform to the same standards.

Peruvian minister
resigns in dispute

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Peru — Peru's Interior Minister has resigned amid controversy surrounding the government's decision to sell off two state-owned utility companies. 

Fernando Rospigliosi announced his decision late Wednesday. He declared his resignation "irrevocable." Rospigliosi is believed to have opposed the way Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo is handling citizens' opposition to the sale. 

Earlier Wednesday, Vice President Raul Diez Canseco announced the transaction would be suspended while a judge considered its legality. The sale has triggered several days of anti-government street protests in the south of the country, where the two companies are located. Residents fear the sale will lead to job losses and higher utility bills. 

In response, President Toledo has declared a month-long state of emergency and cancelled a trip to the United States. He says the privatizations are necessary to encourage foreign investment and raise badly-needed cash. 

There was no immediate comment from the Belgian-owned Tractebel firm, which bought the Egasa and Egesur power companies last week for $167 million.

Uribe meets Powell
for discussion on war

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Colombian President-elect Alvaro Uribe met Secretary of State Colin Powell Wednesday as he continued a Washington visit in advance of his inauguration Aug. 7. U.S. officials have said he is promising to commit more of the Colombian government's own resources in its U.S.-supported battle against insurgents and narco-traffickers. 

Uribe won a landslide victory in Colombia's election last month with campaign pledges to get tough in the government's long-running conflict with leftist insurgents and drug gangs. And he is conveying the same message in Washington, where the Bush Administration is asking Congress for more money to help the Bogota government. 

Speaking briefly after meeting Secretary Powell, Uribe said they reviewed the problem of violence in Colombia and the efforts his incoming government will make to protect its citizens. 

Otto Reich, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, who appeared with him, said there was no need for the U.S. side to have to ask for a bigger Colombian contribution, because that commitment was volunteered by Uribe and his team.

"They realize Colombia has to provide more of its own resources. And we're fully in agreement. Just as we're increasing our assistance, it's very important for the Colombian people to show, and the Colombian government [to show], that they're fully aware of the fact that they need more resources to combat the very well-financed narco-terrorist network they're fighting," Reich said. 

Intel to terminate 
its Internet service

                  Special to A.M. Costa Rica 

SANTA CLARA, Calif.— Intel Corp. announced Tuesday that it plans to end its Intel Online Services Web hosting business and take a pre-tax charge of approximately $100 million. The company said it will continue providing services to existing customers over the next 12 months and will immediately begin working with those customers to ensure a smooth transition. 

The firm has two manufacturing plants in Costa Rica.

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