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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, June 30, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 128           E-mail us
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IBM to make $300 million investment here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
IBM said Thursday that it would invest $300 million over the next 10 years and employee 1,000 persons to develop a technology information center.

 IBM now has facilities in Costa Rica that process client relations, provide accounting and operate shared services with clients in the Americas. The company is headquartered here at Global Park Free Zone in La Aurora de Heredia.
The services the company will offer include security, troubleshooting, maintenance and monitoring of systems and software for its clients principally in the United States and Europe, said Casa Presidencial.

The government is calling this the one of the most relevant investment in the country in 13 years, and President Laura Chinchilla is taking credit for maintaining contacts with the computer and technology company during her trips to the United States.

Business survey gives Ms. Chinchilla lower grade
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla fared badly Wednesday when a survey of business leaders scored her administration lower than the first year of the past two presidents.

The survey also shows a decline in confidence and perception of the future.

The survey is a continuing panel study of some 460 business people in diverse sectors of the economy. The opinions are sought every three month by the Unión de Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado.

The business people appeared to have four major complaint. The first was the failure to speed up doing business with the government. In Spanish, the word  trámites is used. This could be applying for permits or any of the other many reasons business people might go to various government agencies. Fully 88 percent of those who responded said that there had been no simplification of permits during the last year. This opinion comes despite central government promises and even laws that are supposed to streamline contacts with officialdom.

The business people also expressed their concern about personal security, the nation's infrastructure and efforts to reduce poverty, according to the survey report.

The perception of security seems to validate the outburst of a television presenter Tuesday as he reported on four unrelated murders. "Crime is out of control," he blurted.

That is a serious criticism of the Chinchilla administration because the president ran on a platform of firmness and having a strong arm against crime. She has proposed new taxes and fees to generate more income for security but has not provided the specifics. She also is seeking a $130 million loan from an international development bank, but the details are sketchy.

One telling point was the 74 percent of the business people could not recall a specific achievement of the government last year. And many of those who could cited the border dispute with Nicaragua over the Isla Calero rather than any specific innovation by the Chinchilla administration.

The legislature fared even worse than the president. She received a 6.3 rating based on a
perception of presidents
Unión de Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones
del Sector Empresarial Privado graphic
Graph shows perception indexes of business leaders for the past three months (orange) and their confidence (blue) in the future three months, measured at the end of the first year of three presidents.

10-point scale with 10 being the best score. The legislature received a 4.5 grade. That compares with a grade of 7 for Oscar Arias Sánchez and a 5.4 for the legislature at the time.

The survey also sought the perception of business people of the first three months of this year when compared to the same period in 2010. It also sought their confidence when estimating what the third three months of the year would bring.

The perception score was 5.3, down from 6.2 for the last three months of 2010. However the current score compared well with the 5.7, the 5.1 and the 5.0 for the first through third periods of 2010.

Confidence in the upcoming quarter of  the year also showed a dip from 6.1 to 5.4

"The drop in indictors of business perception and confidence ought to be a call to attention for the authorities to show positive signals with an agenda in the short term of projects and actions that stimulate the development of productive activities with the end of reactivating confidence in the national business economy," said  Manuel H. Rodríguez, chamber president.

The chamber called for the government to begin work with the Limón Ciudad Puerto, which has been approved for two years. The project is a major overhaul of Limón Centro and surrounding areas.

The chamber noted that the decline in perception coincides with the slowdown in economic activity that has been calculated by the Banco Central for the same period.

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Our readers' opinions
Teacher unions ignore
the interests of society

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I don’t understand why APSE and ANDE would not be satisfied with the results of their march Tuesday as A.M. Costa Rica reported. As usual, they were pretty effective in shutting down my daughter’s school.

The needs of kids and parents are often last to be considered (if at all) in what motivates a teachers' union. This fight is all about union power. The fact is the minister of education might have (and I think does have) a really good plan, but APSE/ANDE will what ever they can so that it never sees the light of day because they are unwilling to give him, the minister, any credit for fear of losing power if they adopt anything suggested by those who hold the purse strings. They may even like the plan themselves.

It is sad that so many unions have degenerated into this self-serving mind set excluding the interests of those in most need in society.  We have a “lost generation” from the 80s just reported on in La Nación. If it were exclusively up to the unions, I guess all generations would be lost.

Pat McCormick
Costa Rica

Over use of resources
is the world's real issue

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to Norman  Paterson's article on his doubts about global warming being a man-made phenomenon, I am willing to accept there may be some truth in his argument.  Indeed, there may be other factors behind the global trend. But, all truths are not equal, and I feel there is a more compelling truth that needs to be recognized. Our willingness to tolerate overpopulation, destroying tropical forests, and extracting the carbon safely sequestered in the Earth's mantle, burning it, and spewing it into the atmosphere is tantamount to suicide for the inhabitants of this planet.

Al Gore, in a long article in Rolling Stone this month puts it well:

The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come. Twenty percent of the global-warming pollution we spew into the sky each day will still be there 20,000 years from now!

We can argue until our dying day about whether burning producing CO2 is the "real" cause of global warming. But, the real issue demanding immediate attention and action is that our overuse of all the resources on this planet, including but not limited to burning petroleum.
Jerry Ward
Vermont and Platanillo 

Skepticism urged of study
that says coffee protects

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In reading the glowing article encouraging us to drink a half gallon or so of coffee a day, one should immediately hear a warning signal.

These types of one-of-a-kind studies that end up with recommended increased usages of a "drug" are often funded by the industry that's touting it. and often are refuted by more scientific, impartial studies at a later date.

Like the 500-word, fine-printed disclaimers beneath the glossily printed picture of a person in glowing health, touting one of big-pharma's latest offerings, study results like these, should be subject to deep consumer scrutiny.
I'm no lab researcher, but as a yoga instructor, and one who enjoys an occasional cup of coffee, I am more prone to believe, that a balanced healthy diet, and regular exercise, are a safer bet to optimum brain health, than to gulping down large quantities of java.

Common sense, and experience should tell one to beware of these types of studies. One need only to have followed the on-going climate debate to see that results based on complicated factors, can be easily refuted.

Anyone who experiences digestive problems, rapid pulse increases, occasional dizziness, or irritability as direct results of coffee consumption, should beware of these types of "initial" studies.

By reading the article closely, one sees words like "seems to" and "likely" which are in no way indicative of solid fact. Common sense tells the reader, and especially anyone who may be sensitive to the detrimental effects of coffee, to treat the recommendation of increasing dosages here with kid gloves.

Hari Singh Khalsa
Playa Carmen

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 30, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 128

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Government launches massive anti-poverty Internet project
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government announced its massive computer social program that will seek to hook up every corner of Costa Rica with wide -band fiber optic Internet cable.

The project also will provide some 40,000 students in rural areas with a computer and also provide one for the teacher in those schools with combined grade levels.

The money for the project come from the millions in concession payments by the two private cell phone companies that are entering into operation in the country. The projects were outlined in the law that established the concession, but the Laura Chinchilla administration is emphasizing the social aspects of the plan. The law stipulated that the funds be used for this purpose and not be placed in the government's general fund. The money will be  handled by the  Fondo Nacional de Telecomunicaciones.

The  Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología is supposed to set up 250 more  Centros Comunitarios Inteligentes to go along with the 250 that now exist. These are like local internet cafes. The first intelligent community centers will be placed in 40 locations that are identified as being low-income, according to the plan.

The project is designed to bridge what is being called the digital divide in that many Costa Rican cannot afford the equipment for connection to the Internet and other computer activities.
By 2014 every school in the country should have wide-band Internet connection, according to the proposal. The Ministerio de Educación Pública also is involved deeply in the project. Service also will be provided for child shelters and even retirement homes and facilities operated by the  Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.

The project also seeks to strengthen the Gobierno Digital, the system that is connecting all the government agencies, banks and similar. Many government services now are available online.

The project envisions an Internet connection that can handle teleconferences, voice over Internet protocol as well as other digital services.

Mrs. Chinchilla in a speech outlining the proposal noted that communities like San Pedro have 20 percent Internet connections while towns like Upala and Los Chiles have less than 1 percent.

Some 40 percent of the population do not have access to the Internet, she said.

She said she sees the Internet as a path to prosperity and development.

Absent from the summary was what agency would be responsible for placing the wires and maintaining the Internet connectivity. The public and private Internet providers were not mentioned in the presentation.

Deep-sea drilling team may have gotten sample they wanted
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The scientific team that drilled into the sea floor off Costa Rica has gone home while the drilling ship, the JOIDES Resolution, is tied up in Curaçao for refitting.

The expedition may have recovered some of the gabbro it sought at  Hole 1256D. However efforts to clean the existing hole took much of the expedition's time.
Said the 21 scientists to the Resolution crew:

"Hole 1256D is the best chance for understanding some of the most fundamental processes operating on our planet; to understand how the great tectonic plates are formed. Expedition 335 has saved and resuscitated Hole 1256D, cleaned the hole of choking cuttings, and preserved it for future expeditions. We will be back!"

The hole reached 1,500 meters (about 4,900 feet) during a 2005 expedition. But when the new expedition arrived some 900 kilometers, about 560 miles, off Costa Rica's Pacific coast, there were many blockages and problems to surmount, according to the weekly reports of the team. The current drilling only reached 1,521 meters below the sea floor, about 4990 feet. However the drilling crew
stabilized the hole with cement in several places to give quick access for a future expedition, the scientists reported.

Scientists recovered one 1.4-kilogram rock that may be the much-sought gabbro. That and other specimens will be analyzed extensively

Before the mission scientists explained that Oceanic crust is formed along mid-ocean ridges by the cooling of magma produced by the partial melting of mantle rocks. If the magma reaches the surface of the ocean floor, it cools rapidly, forming the basalts that make up the vast majority of the upper oceanic crust.  However, if the magma crystallizes more slowly at depth, the rock that is formed is called gabbro. The oceanic crust is therefore made up of a surface layer of basalt underlain by deeper gabbro. And that is what the team sought.

The drilling was into the Cocos tectonic plate, which is one of the causes of earthquakes in Costa Rica when it collides with the Caribbean plate.

The Resolution is special ship that allows deep ocean drilling. Its rig entered and left the hole deep beneath the Pacific some 24 times, according to the crew's report.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 30, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 128

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Economic benefits of shark tourism explored in article

By the University of Miami news service

Shark populations over the last 50 years have decreased dramatically. From habitat degradation to overfishing and finning, human activities have affected their populations and made certain species all but disappear.

A recent article in Current Issues in Tourism by Austin J. Gallagher and Neil Hammerschlag of the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami study the impact of these apex predators on coastal economies and the importance of including conservation efforts in long-term management plans.

The team collected data from a total of 376 shark ecotour operations across 83 locations and eight geographic regions. Oceania, the greater Caribbean and North America ranked at the top for highest proportion of different locations offering shark tour services, and the Bahamas alone contained over 70 percent of all shark ecotourism in the greater Caribbean and generated over $78 million in revenue in 2007. The Maldives saw similar numbers, and in 2010 banned shark fishing due to shark-based ecotourism contributing and estimated 30 percent towards the national income.

“We know that for many countries, sharks are an important piece of the economy — in this study we wanted to examine their value as a recreational resource in a new and refreshing way by taking a global perspective,” said Gallagher.

“It makes total economic sense for us to protect these resources, whether you are in charge of a coral atoll somewhere in Indonesia or working off the coast of New England — if the sharks can remain, the divers will follow, and livelihoods can flourish.”

According to the study, a single reef shark could be valued at $73 a day alive, as opposed to the one-time value of a set of  shark fins used for shark fin soup
Shark tourism
University of Miami/Austin Gallagher
Shark mingles with underwater tourists who pay to be there.

at $50. Over the course of that same shark’s life, it could be worth more than $200,000 using a conservative 15-year life cycle.

The study also documented trends by species, and found that reef sharks and whale sharks are among the most well-represented in the ecotourism industry.

“Our study clearly shows that, economically speaking, sharks are worth more alive than dead; however, sharks are also ecologically important, helping maintain the balance and health of our oceans,” says Hammerschlag.

Sharks reproduce very slowly, so even modest amounts of fishing can negatively impact local populations. But with appropriate conservation policies, sharks can begin their recovery, a road that could be both enjoyable and profitable through ecotourism, they said.

“After the 1975 release of the movie JAWS, the general public felt that ‘the only good shark was a dead shark,’ however in the 30 years that have followed, this mentality has changed. A growing number of people are turning their fear into fascination and want to continue to see sharks in the wild,” said Hammerschlag.

Rebate proposed for gasoline because refinery has surplus

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The agency that sets prices is proposing a cut in super gasoline and diesel of 64 colons a liter and a cut of 63 colons for plus gasoline. That is about 12.5 cents per liter.

The Authoridad Reguladora de Precios de Servicios Público is taking the action because the national petroleum monopoly is running a budget surplus. The price of gasoline is based, in part, on the financial needs of the company, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo.
The budget surplus is 62 billion colons or about $124 million, the agency said.

The agency is planning a public hearing to discuss the rebate. The current price of super is 712 colons a liter. Plus is 691 a liter, and diesel is 653 a liter.
The refinery is expected to protest the proposal.

The prices of other petroleum products also are being considered for rebates, including jet fuel and the liquid petroleum gas that many Costa Rican use for cooking.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 30, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 128

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U.S. law professor urges
cyber counterattack defense

By the University of Illinois news service

With the threats of cybercrime, cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare looming over the hyper-connected world, the best defense for the U.S. might be a good offense, says new research by a University of Illinois expert in technology and legal issues.

Law Professor Jay P. Kesan warns that an active self-defense regime, which he terms mitigative counterstriking, is a necessity in cyberspace, especially to protect critical infrastructure such as banking, utilities and emergency services.

"The threats from cyber attacks are real, and the harm of a potential attack can be far greater than what we can currently combat," Kesan said.

Kesan's analysis, co-written with former law student Carol M. Hayes and published in a forthcoming issue of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, concludes that mitigative counterstriking against attacks instead of simply relying on passive defense options (firewalls, patches and anti-virus software) is legally justifiable as self-defense, although a more exhaustive legal framework needs to be implemented.

"The principles of mitigative counterstriking are legally justifiable under several areas of domestic and international law, and can be made consistent with other areas of law by amending or reinterpreting the law," he said.

Kesan says an active defense regime consists of three distinct elements: detecting intrusions, tracing the attack back to the attacker, and executing a counterstrike.

A counterstrike can be characterized in one of two ways: retributive counterstrikes, which punish the attacker, and mitigative counterstrikes, which minimize the damage to the victims' information-technology infrastructure.

According to the authors' study, there currently is no effective domestic or international legal apparatus to deter cyber attacks. Criminal law enforcement is complicated by the lack of a consistently enforced international law, jurisdictional issues and the difficulty of identifying an attacker in a manner specific enough to justify criminal prosecution. Resorting to civil litigation would likely be slow and impractical.

"Cyber attacks are fundamentally different from crime," Kesan said. "The person may be physically very far away from you, and you may not be able to use traditional legal remedies against that person, since civil and criminal remedies require jurisdiction over a person. In those circumstances, what do you do?"

Kesan suggests that a government-affiliated agency, preferably a public-private partnership, should be responsible for an active defense program, including providing resources for private parties to detect and trace intrusions, and executing counterstrikes.

"We're at a particularly interesting moment in time because the technologies available to do this are getting better," Kesan said. "Trace-route and trace-back technologies – where we pinpoint where certain intrusions are coming from, even if they're going through intermediaries – are getting better. The swiftness of the technologies is getting better, which itself might be a deterrent."

Kesan says the confluence of better technology and inadequate legal protection provides a unique opportunity to think through the issues associated with creating new legal policy.

Travelers in Britain face
civil servant strikes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Britain's airports are warning travelers they could face major delays today when civil servants and teachers plan to take part in a nationwide strike.

BAA, which runs Heathrow, Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports, made the statement Wednesday.

Nearly three quarters of a million teachers and civil servants are planning to walk off the job Thursday due to a dispute over pensions. Four trade unions voted to strike today.

Prime Minister David Cameron made a final plea Tuesday to persuade the workers to abandon the strike.
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Man held in shooting
that killed young motorist

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Agents Wednesday afternoon detained a 23-year-old men for investigation in the case of a fatal shooting early Friday in San Pedro. The Poder Judicial identified the man by the last names of Solís Chacón. Killed was Alejandro Chacón Marchena, 23, the son of a prominent lawyer.

Solís was detained as he drove on a public road in Coronado. His vehicle was picked up by a surveillance camera when the incident happened. Agents said they found a 9-mm. weapon in the man's car.

Informally some agents said the man had prior arrest for aggravated robbery and for carrying a weapon without permit. The killing stemmed from a traffic accident.

Fugitive and wannabe
eye Costa Rica as home

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

These guys are not exactly the type the tourism institute is seeking to visit here.

One is fleeing five felony fraud counts in Wisconsin. He is believed to have fled here. The other is accused of trying to break out of a Pennsylvania jail where he is being held in lieu of $5 million bail and facing 200 charges of sex related crimes, including rape of children.

The fraud suspect is David A. Pierce, 39, according to the in Janesville, Wisconsin. He is accused of not finishing a $5 million project and over-billing a customer, the Janesville Gazette subsidiary said. His lawyer said he had taken off to Costa Rica.

The alleged pedophile is facing 1,000 years in prison, said the Web site. The man, Walter Meyerle, 34, planned to fake an illness and have friends free him at a hospital, said the allegations, according to the Web site. Once free he planned to flee here, it added.

Bulletproof vests vanish
despite being locked up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Judicial Investigating Organization purchased bulletproof vests from Asia, but it turns out they were not bullet proof enough. So the judicial agency stored the vests until they could be returned.

So agents were surprised when a suspect turned up wearing on of the vests. It turns out that nearly 100 of the bulletproof garments vanished from storage. The Poder Judicial quickly sent out a disclaimer saying that no one in the upper ranks of the judiciary had turned over keys to the storage area.

`Principal suspects are workmen who were doing remodeling on the structure where the vests were kept.

Quake hits Pacific coast

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 4.0 earthquake took place Wednesday afternoon 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) southwest of Punta Guiones, said the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica. The location is on the far Pacific coast just south of Nosara. There were no reports of damage. Interplay between the two tectonic plates beneath Costa Rica were blamed for the quake.

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