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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Monday, June 25, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 125                          Email us
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Mar Vista

Skateboarders
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson 
The hop, the ollie, is one of the basics to skateboarding.
Skateboarders have their day with official activity
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thousands of skateboarders descended on San José Sunday for a procession through the heart of the city for the fifth annual Wild in the Streets celebration of skateboarding.

A truck provided by Red Bull blared music and led the procession down the official, six-kilometer route from Polideportivo Aranjuez, over to Parque Morazán, through downtown and finally ending in Parque de la Paz, where event sponsors set up numerous obstacles for skateboarders to show off their tricks.

Despite the official route, hundreds of young men and women in small groups took their own ways to Parque de la Paz, making skateboarders a common sight across the city Sunday.

“It’s really just to support the skaters so this sport can get bigger and bigger every year,” said Carolina Molina, a marketing manager for the Costa Rican apparel company Arenas Skate and Surf.

The first Wild in the Streets took place in Detroit, Michigan, in 2004 and was organized by Emerica, a skateboard shoe company based in the United States. The event has since spread to other cities internationally, including San José in 2008.
While the main event took place Thursday in Detroit, Emerica worked with other sponsors including Arenas, Red Bull and the Municipalidad de San Jose.

“This year Arenas is one of the principal sponsors,” said Ms. Molina. “So we brought the mini-ramp, and we’re going to have the teams skate there and then let the kids skate on the ramp.”

Skateboarders flocked to Barrio Aranjuez from across the city, some skating alongside runners in the Clasica Internacional San Juan half-marathon which also passed through downtown Sunday morning.

Meeting at the Aranjuez sports center at 9 a.m., thousands of primarily young men practiced in their tricks for 20 minutes until the group gradually began migrating to Parque de la Paz, where the skateboarders resumed showing off their skills and watching professionals on the half-pipe.

By 11 a.m., Ms. Molina estimated that somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 skaters had arrived at the
 
Skateboard tricks are best
left to experts like Nacho

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As the crowd grew, a young skateboarder with four years of experience named Nacho agreed to teach me how to do a few tricks.

“Primero, el ollie,” he said, demonstrating how to
Mr. Knapp
Author ready to hop
hop with the skateboard.

We then traded the skateboard back and forth, me failing to perform the trick and giving it back to him so I could watch his footwork again as he did the trick, all while his friends snickered behind me.

We then moved on to the shove it, a trick which entails hopping off the board, spinning it 180 degrees and landing back on the board, which proved more difficult and more dangerous for people
around me. Each time I attempted the trick, I sent the board spinning uncontrollably in a random direction to the uproarious laughs of Nacho and his friends, who gradually warmed up to me and began shouting advice.

Despite all of the tips and advice, I decided to just let Nacho show me his tricks, which included the flip (flipping the skateboard while he airborne) and then a combination of the flip and shove-it (spinning and flipping the skateboard at the same time).
— Aaron Knapp


basketball courts at the southern end of the park.

While hundreds of skaters determinedly attempted trick after trick throughout the morning and afternoon, many stopped to watch Arenas’ professional skateboarding team give a demo on the half-pipe before opening it up to public use.


Fake cop extortion not an isolated case, reports show
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A scammer who has been extorting visitors out of their money has done so at least four times, according to the judicial Investigating Organization.

The crook pretends to be an undercover anti-drug agents and entraps tourists and threatens them with jail. Then he suggests a bribe for him to forget the whole event.

A.M. Costa Rica outlined one case Thursday.
Judicial workers have classified the crime as extortion and said that four persons showed up to the office where complaints are taken to describe their experiences. Since many persons do not report such crimes, the number of victims probably is much higher.

The tourist who recounted the crime for Thursday's story said that he encountered the man at the Mercado Central. A check with the municipal-run facility over the weekend established that the market does not have cameras to monitor shoppers.

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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car with boxes
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía 
y Seguridad Pública photo 
 Upon inspection police found that the vehicle was crammed
 with boxes of alcohol.

Car search yielded boxes
full of bottles of alcohol


By the A.M. Cost Rica staff

Anyone planning to smuggle cases of alcohol better make sure they do not tick off neighbors.

That's what happened Sunday in Golfito. Someone called police to report that a vehicle was driving through a subdivision at high speed. Also when police arrived and got a chance to look inside the car did they find out that the operator managed to cram 25 cases of alcohol into the vehicle. There were boxes on the back set, on the floor and in the trunk. In all, there were 288 bottles, said the Fuerza Pública.

The car had polarized windows, so the operator figured no one would see into the back seat.

Police are working on the assumption that the alcohol came from nearby Panamá and that the appropriate tax was not paid. Officers said they confiscated the alcohol and also the car. The case is in the hands of the local prosecutor.

 
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, Monday, June 25, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 125
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Environmental enforcement agency gets a big budget increase
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The  Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo will get 14 new employees in 2013 because the budget has been tripled

The Tribunal is the environmental police known for its sweeps on coastal areas and for brining legal cases against developers and also for cracking down on pineapple growers.

The head of the Tribunal,  José Lino Chaves, said that 12 of the positions are new and two vacant and frozen positions are being freed up because of the increased budget.
Lino Chaves has just been named the oceans environmental czar, so he will be moving to a different section of the Ministerio de Ambient y Energía.

The Tribunal's budget for 2013 will be 2 billion colons, about $4 million, up from 769 million, about $1.3 million.

Lino Chaves said that high on the list is the hiring of more lawyers because of the high number of pending cases.

The Tribunal says that there are about 1,700 separate files that must be handled by the current staff of 20.


Wildlife campaign targets children to bring the message home
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The  Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación is embarking on a campaign to reach youngsters to enlist them to help protect the country's wildlife.

The goal is to point out the illegality of keeping wold animals in the home as pets.  These include wild birds, including parrots, and monkeys.

Rafael Gutiérrez, executive director of the agency, said that there are networks of illegal commerce in species in Costa Rica.
The concern extends to wild plants like orchids, as well as snakes, iguanas and even deer. To take these animals and plants from their habitat is to kill them little by little, said  Gutiérrez. He said that the campaign targets the youngsters in the home to reach the adults.

The campaign begins just before the start of mid-year vacation for pubic school children. Each vacation police and wildlife agents find persons returning to the Central Valley for the mountains or beaches with wildlife or plants.

The system of conservation areas is an agency of the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía.






Bridge work at the Río Pital in Salitral de Aserrí was complicated by a home located hard by the work site. Contractors have to make special efforts to protect the structure.

bridge
Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias photo

Two agencies making progress fixing and refurbishing bridges
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even as the rainy season gets under way, road and emergency officials are finishing up projects made necessary by weather destruction last year.

One such project has been completed at the  Río Pital in Salitral de Aserrí. There the  Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias spent nearly $500,000 to rebuild a bridge that was destroyed by the swollen river.

The commission is putting nearly twice that amount into Aserrí to correct storm damage. Other projects are in  Los Mangos de Vuelta de Jorco and in  Monterrey over the Río Caraigres. Correcting storm damage is the domain of the emergency commission.
Meanwhile, the  Consejo Nacional de Vialidad is working to rebuild bridges in the southern part of the country. The money comes from several loans, including one from the Japanese Agency for International Cooperation.

One job is rebuilding a 50-year-old span over the  Río Puerto Nuevo between Palma Norte and Paso Real.

The bridge is on Ruta 2, the Interamericana Sur. Another job is on the same highway at a bridge over Río Nuevo. This job is further south in  Corredores. Both projects are scheduled to be finished in August.

There are six other bridges being fixed up as part of the same financial set up. Four of them are related to the widening of the Interamericana Norte.

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New study takes a longer look at potential for rise in sea level
By the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research news staff and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sea levels around the world can be expected to rise by several meters in coming centuries, if global warming carries on, according to a new report. Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees C, global-mean sea level could continue to rise, reaching between 1.5 and 4 meters (4.9 to 13 feet) above present-day levels by the year 2300, with the best estimate being at 2.7 meters (about 8.9 feet), according to the study just published in Nature Climate Change. However, emissions reductions that allow warming to drop below 1.5 degrees Celsius could limit the rise strongly, the report said.

The study is the first to give a comprehensive projection for this long perspective, based on observed sea-level rise over the past millennium, as well as on scenarios for future greenhouse-gas emissions.

Meanwhile, A team based at the  University of Cologne, Germany, came out with a report Friday on several million years of Arctic temperatures using undisturbed sediment in a Russian lake. That study estimated that the Arctic was ice-free  400,000 years ago and 1.1 million years ago.

The scientists suggested that deep ocean currents might have been responsible.

Sea level has risen about 200 feet since the end of the last ice age.

“Sea-level rise is a hard to quantify, yet critical risk of climate change,” says Michiel Schaeffer of Climate Analytics and Wageningen University, lead author of the sea level study. “Due to the long time it takes for the world’s ice and water masses to react to global warming, our emissions today determine sea levels for centuries to come.”

While the findings suggest that even at relatively low levels of global warming the world will have to face significant sea-level rise, the study also demonstrates the benefits of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius and subsequent temperature
reductions could halve sea-level rise by 2300, compared to a 2-degree scenario. If temperatures are allowed to rise by 3 degrees, the expected sea-level rise could range between 2 and 5 meters (6.6 to 16 feet) with the best estimate being at 3.5 meters (11.5 feet).

The potential impacts are significant. “As an example, for New York City it has been shown that one meter of sea level rise could raise the frequency of severe flooding from once per century to once every three years,” says Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, co-author of the study. Also, low lying deltaic countries like Bangladesh and many small island states are likely to be severely affected.

The scientists further assessed the rate of sea-level rise. The warmer the climate gets, the faster the sea level climbs. “Coastal communities have less time to adapt if sea-levels rise faster,” Rahmstorf says

“In our projections, a constant level of 2-degree warming will sustain rates of sea-level rise twice as high as observed today, until well after 2300,” adds Schaeffer, “but much deeper emission reductions seem able to achieve a strong slow-down, or even a stabilization of sea level over that time frame.”

Previous multi-century projections of sea-level rise reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were limited to the rise caused by thermal expansion of the ocean water as it heats up, which the panel found could reach up to a meter by 2300. However, this estimate did not include the potentially larger effect of melting ice, and research exploring this effect has considerably advanced in the last few years. The new study is using a complementary approach, called semi-empirical, that is based on using the connection between observed temperature and sea level during past centuries in order to estimate sea-level rise for scenarios of future global warming.

“Of course it remains open how far the close link between temperature and global sea level found for the past will carry on into the future,” says Rahmstorf. “Despite the uncertainty we still have about future sea level, from a risk perspective our approach provides at least plausible, and relevant, estimates.”


Documentary recounts  experiences of trafficked woman
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Virginia Isaias was forced to marry at 15 in her native Mexico. Later she was kidnapped with her 6-year-old daughter and forced into prostitution.  Her story is told in a documentary now being produced, called “Sands of Silence.”
 
Ms. Isaias herself is now an anti-trafficking activist who talks about the cost of human trafficking to groups mainly in  California.

 "They take your baby and give it to another woman and they give another woman's baby to you. So a mother is less likely to flee.  They also threaten you and have people watching over you," said Ms. Isaias.

Ms. IsaIas escaped and paid a ransom for her child.  Her story is all too common, says filmmaker Chelo Alvarez-Stehle.

"Because of globalization, or migration, that pushes people to move from one country to another and they become vulnerable to traffickers," said Ms. Alvarez-Stehle.

Ms. Alvarez-Stehle has also created an online game to educate young people on the problem.

United Nations figures show that victims of trafficking are mostly young, and 80 percent are subject to sexual exploitation.  20 percent are subject to forced labor, and one in five victims is a child.

Officials in Los Angeles recently announced an educational program to alert drivers and bus riders to the problem of sexual trafficking of young people.  L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca says they are victims, not criminals.

"There are hundreds and hundreds and perhaps thousands of young women, young girls under the age of 18, who are engaged in prostitution for pay, and the man that's handling this prostitution of bondage is someone that we're really
Seeds of silence
Photo by www.sandsofsilence.org
Virginia Isaias is an activist now against trafficking.

going after, the pimps," said Baca.

A measure on the November election ballot in California would increase penalties for traffickers, provide help for trafficking victims and require convicted sex offenders to disclose their Internet identities.  Chris Kelly, the man behind the drive, is a former executive with the Internet site Facebook.

"We want to make sure that the worst of the worst, the convicted sex offenders, that Facebook and other online sites - Craigslist and Backpage and whoever else - have the means to track them and basically say, 'You're not going to be able to ply your trade in this online environment,'" said Kelly.

Virginia Isaias says trafficking survivors must reclaim their dignity.

"It doesn't matter what happened or what you are living through, what matters are your values and your strength. No one can take that away from you because you were born free," said Ms. Isaias.

Ms. Isaias wants others to know there is hope for trafficking victims.

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WikiLeaks founder optimistic
on Ecuadorian asylum


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ecuador says it is giving serious consideration to giving Julian Assange political asylum, after the founder of the WikiLeaks Web site made the request at the country's embassy in London. British authorities say they will arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy.

Assange walked into the Ecuadorian Embassy Tuesday and has been staying there ever since. He spoke to a radio station in his native Australia from the embassy.

"Ecuador back in 2010 suggested that perhaps I should come to Ecuador and be given residency, so they are sympathetic over a long period of time so we hope that the asylum application will be viewed favorably," he said.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said his government was considering the asylum application.

"We'll take the time that is necessary because we're dealing with a very serious topic that we take on with absolute responsibility. However, in the meantime, Mr. Assange is in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and under the protection of the Ecuadorian state," he said.
​​
Assange founded the whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks, which published confidential files on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and thousands of U.S. cables sent between overseas diplomats and Washington.

Two WikiLeaks volunteers in Sweden claim he attacked them in 2010. No charges have been filed.  Assange claims the sex was consensual.

Last week Britain's supreme court dismissed his attempt to reopen his extradition appeal. Assange claims the allegations are politically motivated and fears being extradited to the U.S. His supporters have followed him throughout his legal battles and have now set up camp outside the embassy.

His move to request asylum appears to have caused some surprise. Among his supporters is Ben Griffin, a former soldier in the British army.

"We found out that Julian was seeking asylum here at the Ecuadorian Embassy and we are supporting him through that process," he said. "We understand, we acknowledge, we know that he has some very powerful enemies so we are supporting him in this action."

British police say Assange has breached his bail conditions by staying at the embassy. If his bid for asylum fails, he faces arrest and some of his high profile friends who put up bail money could face big losses.

If Ecuador does give asylum to Assange, analysts say it is likely to cause a serious rift in diplomatic relations between Britain and Ecuador.


Ousted president in Paraguay
denounces what he calls coup


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Paraguay's Fernando Lugo has denounced his ouster as president as a parliamentary coup.  Lugo, however, urged his supporters Sunday to remain peaceful and not participate in any violent demonstrations.

Paraguay’s new president, Federico Franco, said Saturday he intends to ask his impeached predecessor for help in stemming the regional outcry surrounding Lugo’s swift removal from office.

Brazil and Argentina have withdrawn their top diplomats from Paraguay, while Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba have said they would not recognize the new administration. 

Lawmakers in Paraguay voted to impeach President Lugo, after a botched eviction earlier this month of peasant squatters that left several dead.

Critics of the impeachment complained that Lugo’s lawyers had only a few hours to defend him in the Senate, which voted 39 to 4 in favor of his removal.

Immediately following his impeachment trial Friday, Lugo said he accepted the Congress' decision, but he said Paraguay's democracy had been deeply wounded.

The lower house of Congress voted in favor of impeachment Thursday. Lugo's political rivals control both houses of the Paraguayan Congress.

In line with Paraguay's constitution, Lugo was replaced by Vice President Franco, who had been a strong opponent of the president.

The impeached president is a former Roman Catholic bishop who was elected in 2008 on promises to help the poor and distribute land fairly.


Tropical storm stalls in gulf
just short of U.S. mainland


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Tropical Storm Debby appears to be stalled in the Gulf of México not far from the Florida Panhandle.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that the cyclone was hit with a dose of dry air that eroded its strength and that a ridge of  air is building along the southern United States that will keep the storm at bay, probably for two days.

Readers in western Florida reported tornadoes Sunday.

This is the first time four tropical storms have formed before July 1 during the Atlantic hurricane season since record keeping began in 1851, said the center.

Debby forced the suspension of eight percent of the region's oil and gas production.

Officials said nine production platforms and one drilling rig were evacuated.  The reduced production is not expected to impact oil prices unless the storm strengthens and forces more production platforms to close.

The storm still packs 60-mph winds, and there is a possibility that they may reach 70 mph in the next two days if conditions are right, said the center.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, June 25, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 125
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Latin America news
Strong reaction expected
against Panama's president


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A newspaper editor in Panamá is predicting public disorders there in response to a petition filed by President  Ricardo Martinelli. The president has asked the supreme court to remove the members of the nation's electoral tribunal.

The editor, Eric Jackson, said that this would allow Martinelli to appoint all the replacements and control the elections in such a way as his party, which has about 15 percent public support in the wake of repeated scandals --- including one in which he has been identified by Italian prosecutors as having taken bribes --- can steal the next elections.

Public response is likely to be impatient, angry and disruptive, said Jackson, editor of The Panamá News.

“There may be road blockages,” he said in a special email message over the weekend. “There may be violent demonstrations. There may be labor strikes. There may be shortages in stores. There may be utility cutoffs. There may be police roundups of opposition figures. There may be a coup d'etat. It is not certain that any of these things will happen, but you should be prepared for them.”

“The reactions to the president's move against the electoral tribunal may be immediate, or may take days or weeks to percolate,” he said. “But a storm of public disturbances is gathering and may start at any moment.”


Press expresses satisfaction
with press law in México

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter American Press Association has expressed satisfaction at the signing into law Friday by Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón of a measure that will serve to protect journalists and human rights defenders. At the same time, the press advocacy organization urged the government to speed up actions to put into effect a constitutional amendment that brings crimes against members of the press under federal jurisdiction.

Calderón enacted the Law for the Protection of Persons Defending Human Rights and Journalists. It consists of 67 articles and establishes, among other protective measures, the evacuation, temporary relocation, assignment of bodyguards and armored cars for victims of violence, and the provision of technological equipment and bullet-proof vests.

The legislation also authorizes the application of punishment of public officials who deliberately put at risk or cause harm to human rights activists and journalists.

The organization also expressed concern at the disappearance a month ago in various cities around the country of news photographers Federico Manuel García Contreras and Zane Plemmons. García Contreras, with the Mexico City newspaper El Punto Crítico, went missing on May 14 in the town of Tanquián de Escobedo in the state of San Luis Potosí , where he had traveled to take photos and show his professional portfolio.

Plemmons, a Mexican-American freelance photographer from Texas, had arrived in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, a month ago. His family, who live in the U.S. city of San Antonio, Texas, reported his disappearance Thursday night to local news media.









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