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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, June 23, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 123           E-mail us
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Robin Hood presented as a model for tax policy
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Leaders of the nation's public employee union urged legislators Wednesday to adopt a so-called Robin Hood tax.

Specifically the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados lobbied for a tax on international financial transactions. The organization said that such a tax could raise $400 billion a year if assessed worldwide.

The association said that the proceeds in Costa Rica could be used for social programs and force the banking and financial sector to return some of what it has systematically and abusively extracted from society.

Robin Hood, of course, was the legendary Saxon who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.

The association was joined by the little-known Central Social Juanito Mora Porras in presenting the proposal to  Juan Carlos Mendoza García, president of the Asamblea Legislativa. Although this idea may never get off the ground, the proposal shows that the field is wide open for all sorts of tax ideas as part of fiscal reform that is being pushed by the Chinchilla administration.

The nation's finance minister presented a revised plan on behalf of the government Tuesday. The proposals also are Robin Hoodesque in that the central government makes no apologies for plans that levy disproportionate tax burden on financially successful individuals and corporations.

The general idea of a financial transaction tax was been discussed for years. There have been plans floated in Costa Rica to assess a tax on every bank transaction. The  Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados outlined a proposal that only would apply to international transactions. If passed, income from export sales like bananas and pineapples would be subject to the tax as well as pensions from overseas.

The association attributed the idea to Nobel Prize winning economist James Tobin, although that academic had second thoughts later in life. Tobin had proposed a general financial transaction tax of the type that some European politicians have been proposing.

 
Robin Hood

Sweden had mixed results from such a tax.  Even in the United States some congressmen have proposed a tax on stock transactions. The bill is formally titled  H.R. 4191: Let Wall Street Pay for the Restoration of Main Street Act of 2009.

The association said it made the presentation as part of an international day of global action that is being observed around the world.

The Chinchilla administration plan would collect $1 billion more a year in taxes, mostly from the 20 percent of the population that is engaged in commerce and investments.

That amount represents about 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product of the country. The central government is running an annual deficit of more than twice that at 5.5 percent or about $2.2 billion.
The revised tax reform package was sent to committee where the financial transaction tax might be discussed.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 123

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Our reader's opinion
Study was misrepresented
in global warming note


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Sometimes I think that the cause of the "dumbing of America" and surrounding countries is the Internet. Sure, Fox News takes an active part in disseminating fair and balance lies, but the Internet fills cyberspace with ideological rantings, half truths and outright lies which most people with at least two fingers accept without question and forward to 50 of their mindless friends.

In reading A.M Costa Rica this morning (as I do every morning) I came upon one such example. It seems that a certain Mary Jay who doesn't believe in global warming, and dislikes Al Gore for caring, is willing to accept a new study that she interprets as warning that the next Ice Age is coming. She has fallen prey to the idea that, if you get a sound bite from Fox, hear it from your friend, or read a squib on the Internet or in a local paper, you've got the true story. She even quoted the American Astronomical Society. IMPRESSIVE.

I did what she should have done before publishing her scientific understanding of the story. I called the American Astronomical Society and spoke to the gentleman in charge of education. This was not his first call about the study nor the first misrepresentation thereof. He explained:

1. In their "non major" scientific research they found some evidence of similarities to a weather pattern that took place in Europe in the 17th century. People referred to the incident as the Mini-Ice Age as it lowered the temperature by one-third of a degree Celsius.

2. If many prerequisites are met it is possible that this weather pattern could take place in the near future.

3. If this did take place the effect would only be to minimally mitigate the projected 3 degree celsius rise in the temperature all over the world.

4. The society subscribes to the theories of man-made climate change. He said that Al Gore is aware of the study as they speak about their research.

I can only admonish Ms. Jay that while she is afraid to accept the findings of over 90 percent of the world's scientists, she does not change that in any way by publishing her unsubstantiated opinions.

Arthur G. Nassau
Escazú and Fort Lauderdale, Florida

EDITOR'S NOTE: We give readers a link to a story that suggests ocean currents are the blame for rising temperatures.

Weapons theft suspects
includes police officer

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A police officer is one of two suspects in the theft by trickery of weapons at a Hatillo police station June 15.

Judicial agents detains two men Tuesday and said Wednesday afternoon that they had located the stolen weapons hidden in a vacant lot

The theft took place when a man dressed as a Fuerza Pública officer entered the police station in Hatillo and asked for weapons from the armory there.He received a 9-mm. pitol and an Uzi submachine gun, police said at the time. The man left with the guns with out arousing suspicion.

The suspects were identified by the last names of Concepción Cruz and Fallas Fonseca.  Prosecutors asked a judge to hold the men in preventative detention during an afternoon session Wednesday. Fallas is the police officer.

 
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, Thursday, June 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 123

Prisma Dental

Independence Day organizers post schedule to Web site
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The American Colony Committee has refreshed it Web site with a schedule of Independence Day activities.

The expat committee said that the event would include the traditional Uncle Sam parade and flag ceremony, which will include performances by the University of Costa Rica band and a special appearance by the Western Kentucky University Band.

The committee is trying to reach all U.S. citizens to remind them that the July 4 event this year will be at Avenida Escazú instead of the usual Cervercería Costa Rica recreational area west of San José. Avenida Escazú is a shopping complex south of the Autopista Próspero Fernández and Hospital CIMA. The road also is called by the new name of Autopista del Sol.
Free parking and shuttle bus service to and from the celebration will be available at Ferretería EPA and at the Plaza Itskatzú shopping center, the committee said, noting that a map had been posted.

The event this year begins at 4 p.m. with a magic show for kids. The Coffee Pickin' Square Dancers will be back and perform at 5 p.m. The flag parade with Uncle Sam is at 5:45 p.m., and the traditional flag ceremony by the U.S. Marine Corps is at 6:15 p.m.

U.S. Ambassador Anne Slaughter Andrew is scheduled to speak with other shortly thereafter.

The climax, something that has not been possible before, is a fireworks show at 7:30 p.m.

Previous picnics were held in the morning.


Graphic depicts the critical moment when prisoners using guards as shields are confronted by heavily armed tactical squads.
La Reforma graphic
Judicial Investigating Organization graphic

Bullet that killed guard traced to tactical squad weapons
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have concluded that a La Reforma guard who died during a breakout attempt May 11 received a bullet wound from a tactical squad weapon.

That was the highlight of a report by the Judicial Investigating Organization that has been piecing together what transpired during the critical confrontation between tactical squads and prisons shielded by hostages. The report was released Wednesday.

There were nine prisoners trying to flee the maximum security section of the San Rafael de Alajuela prison. They had 15 hostages. As they made their way to the prison armory, they were trapped by a unit of the Servicio Especial de Respuesta Táctica of the security ministry, a unit of  Unidad Especializada de Intervención of the Ministerio de Presidencia and a group of a half dozen prison guards.

Francis Morales Fallas was the guard who died. He is believed to have been shot by a security ministry weapon.
Jhonny Rodríguez and  Erlyn Hurtado Martínez were the  two prisoners who died, and  Carlos Aguiero Sánchez, another prisoner, was wounded in the confrontation.

Prisoners had two firearms, a 380 automatic and a 9-mm. pistol plus and assortment of knives. They also had fragmentation grenades that were not triggered. Immediately after the shootout, investigators confiscated all the weapons. The subsequent investigation has been elaborate.

Prisoners had surrounded themselves with hostages.

A number of persons inside and outside law enforcement have been critical of the what transpired. Some blame the tactical squads for shooting too quickly. Some say more negotiations should have been attempted.

Agents have another investigation under way as a result of the prison break. One of the ring leaders who survived died a few days later, and evidence suggests that guards subjected him to a brutal beating. Some 10 guards have been suspended.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 123


CR Home


Police check out the document of the supposed facilitators who hang out in front of the driving license test center.

facilitator
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa


Another crackdown nets 21 who aid license applicants

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They was another crackdown Wednesday on facilitators at two driver's license agencies.

Police officers on motorcycles and in vehicles swept down on the individuals who claim to assist those seeking licenses. The arrested netted 21 persons at the licensing agency in Paso Ancho and the one in La Uruca.

Fuerza Pública officers said they found a false license and written driving tests with answers in the possession of some of the individuals.

Depending on the circumstances, license applicants have been known to pay up to 100,000 colons, about $200, for answers to written tests or help with the driving exam.
The licensing divisions have been under heavy pressure. In at least three cases, judicial police detained public employees who work there for irregularities in issuing licenses. In every case, the public employee had some relationship with the individuals outside who solicit purchasers for tests and even passage of the actual driving test.

The facilitators are called  gavilanes in Spanish. They are similar to the persons who hang around the exterior of the immigration offices and many other public buildings.

The agencies are centers of Educación Vial of the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

One man Wednesday was found to have a pickup order in his name on an allegation falsifying documents.



Health strategy of promoting hand washing is paying off

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social is reporting some success in its five-year program to promote hand washing. The incidence of diarrhea has dropped by 15,765 cases this year, from  153,263 in 2010 to  137,498 cases this year. The data is through the 21st week of the year.

In fact, Caja officials are so pleased with the results that they plan a hand-washing fair in the Plaza de la Cultura July 15.

Caja officials said that  diarrhea is the second greatest reason Costa Ricans seek treatment at the local clinics. That data comes from the Sistema de Vigilancia Epidemiológica  that tracks the various diseases and reports the running totals.
Such illnesses appear to be related to the rainy season. That is why the hand-washing campaign is being organized.

The most vulnerable age groups are children under 5 and those from 5 to 9, the Caja said. And  diarrhea can be serious with youngsters.

The Caja has been pushing hand washing, mainly among students for five years. This was a spinoff from the bird flu scare. The message has gone to a million children directly.

To prevent the spread of such illnesses, the Caja continue to push basic hygiene, proper food handling and adequate treatment of drinking water, as well as good sewage practices.

Business executive seeks to rent or buy luxury apartment or condo in the downtown area. Walking distance to Plaza de la Cultura preferred. Contact: apartment@amcostarica.com.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 123

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Major Mexican drug chief
finally captured there


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican President Felipe Calderón says police have arrested the leader of a powerful drug cartel, dealing a major blow to organized crime.

Calderón congratulated police for the arrest of one of Mexico's most wanted criminals on his personal twitter account Tuesday.

A government spokesman identified the gang leader as Jose de Jesús Méndez Vargas, also known as El Chango, or "The Monkey."  He said Méndez had been apprehended without violence in the central state of Aguas Calientes.

The spokesman told reporters Mendez' arrest destroyed the last remnants of the La Familia drug cartel's command structure.

Authorities say Méndez had been running the cult-like La Familia cartel since its founder and leader Nazario Moreno González was killed in a shootout with police in December.

But the gang has splintered into factions since Gonzalez' death, and rival leaders remain at large.

The government had been offering a more than $2 million reward for Mendez' capture.

President Calderón launched an offensive against the cartels in 2006 when he took office.


Argentina's president
again seeks election


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has ended speculation about her political future, announcing Tuesday that she will run for reelection in October.

Although many polls suggest she is likely to win a second term, it had been unclear whether she would run because of recent health problems. President Fernández cancelled a visit to Mexico for medical reasons in April and took a brief medical leave in January.

Argentina has enjoyed continued economic growth under Mrs. Fernández, who succeeded her husband as president in 2007. Former president Nestor Kirchner died in October 2010 of heart failure.


Haitian legislature rejects
Martelly's minister selection


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Lawmakers in Haiti have rejected President Michel Martelly's pick for prime minister – a political blow for the newly sworn-in leader of the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The vote Tuesday was 42-19 against Daniel-Gerard Rouzier, with some accusing him of tax evasion, a charge he has denied. Others raised questions over his business dealings and citizenship.

Martelly, who took power a month ago, must now find a new candidate. And he must manage to win over members of former President Rene Preval's Unity party, which won a parliamentary majority this year in elections widely criticized by international observers.

Without a prime minister, Martelly has been unable to form a government to begin to tackle the extensive challenges facing his country.

Haiti was crippled by a January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and made one million others homeless.  Hundreds of thousands of people still live in tent camps, and millions continue to rely on non-governmental organizations to meet their basic needs.  Martelly also faces the political challenge of working with a legislature controlled by Preval's opposition party.

International donors have pledged billions of dollars in aid to help Haiti rebuild, waiting for the new government to take office before releasing it. 

And even before the quake struck, Haiti was the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, and was plagued by political violence and lawlessness, corruption and natural disasters.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 23, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 123

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Four hotels are removing
sailfish, marlin from menus


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Billfish Foundation entered into an agreement with its conservation partner, the Costa Rica Sport Fishing Federation and four participating Hilton Worldwide hotels in Costa Rica, pledging to stop serving all sailfish and marlin.

Because of a socio-economic study released last year by the foundation showing the huge economic value of sport fishing tourism to Costa Rica, the participating hotels adopted the ban on billfish from their restaurants in part to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the nation.

The four properties include the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Costa Rica in Puntarenas, the DoubleTree Cariari by Hilton San José, the Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort and Spa, and the Hilton Garden Inn Liberia Airport. The decision by the hotels and resorts came after two months of discussions with Enrique Ramirez, execuitive director of the sports fishing federation, the foundation said. 

“TBF is proud of the efforts by Enrique Ramirez who secured the participation of the four participating Hilton Worldwide properties in Costa Rica and explained the conservation and business benefits of the world’s sport fishing tourists, reaffirming Costa Rica’s stature as one of the world’s premier fishing destinations,” noted Russell Nelson, chief scientists of the foundation. “We specially appreciate the foresight of the general managers at the participating Hilton Worldwide hotels in Costa Rica - Ricardo Rodriguez Gil, Laura Castagnini and Rui Dominguez - that supporting sport fishing conservation efforts are good for the oceans and good for business as well.”

Ellen Peel, president of the Billfish Foundation, applauded the agreement as a new standard for voluntary conservation action in the private sector adding, “we’re very pleased to see tourism businesses and government tourism officials responding so positively to the facts and information presented by our socio-economic research conducted with the University of Costa Rica that clearly supports TBF’s message that good conservation can be good economics.”

The foundation has been working with governments such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Panama to protect billfish, mainly from overfishing coastal fisheries by commercial interests, while implementing tag and release programs for sportsmen. Herbert Nanne of San José serves as the foundation's Central American conservation director.

Established 25 years ago, The Billfish Foundation is dedicated to conserving and enhancing billfish populations around the world.







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