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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Friday, July 6, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 134                          Email us
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This is Paul Furlong. He may be the reason why armed robberies and home invasions came to a screeching halt 11 months ago in Atenas. And he is on a mission to spread the word

Our story is HERE!
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Jealousy cited as a reason men kill their companions
By Kayla Pearson
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Less than 24 hours after judicial officials tackled the topic of men killing their female companions there was another such murder.

And as frequently happens in such cases, the aggressor tried to kill himself.

The death of the 35-year-old woman with the last name of Hernández took place about 5:20 a.m. in the La Carpio section of La Uruca. She was shot three times. Her companion, identified by the last name of Castillo, called a friend and said he was going to surrender himself in. Instead he shot himself in the face, said the Judicial Investigating Organization..

The woman's death brought to eight the number of women who have died in domestic conflicts this year. Last year there was only 11 such cases, so judicial officials and representative of women's groups are expressing concern.

The judiciary along with the local gender equality and women's empowerment divisions of the United Nations as well as the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres held a workshop Wednesday to find out why the murders take place.

Statistically about half the women who died were
killed because their companion or ex-companion was jealous. And a breakup or impending breakup often is the trigger.

That was the report from Franklin Gonzales Morales, chief of statistics for the Poder Judicial, and Mario Solano Fernández, statistician. They served as key presenters.

Analyzing data from 2002 to 2011, four out of 10 women victims are shot and 30 percent were stabbed, according to the specialists.  A majority of these cases come from San José.

Statistics show that many of these homicides include sexual assault, The statistics said that half of the victims in these cases were sexually assaulted. The murderer in 35 to 42 percent of the cases commits suicide afterwards, the workshop heard.

According to the article 21 of  Ley de Penalización de Violencia, a man who kills his companion, whether legally married or not, will face 20 to 35 years in prison. That was a change in the law that won approval after a string of domestic violence murders.

In these cases that were analyzed, two out of every five women killed had decided to leave their significant other, and one out of 10 had either started a divorce proceeding or had started a life with another person. 

Finally, lawmakers will let U.S. Navy deliver the pot
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The issue seemed to have an obvious solution.

U.S. Navy boats cannot enter Costa Rican waters without approval by the Asamblea Legislativa.

The USS Elrod is offshore with 2,400 kilos of marijuana fished out of the sea and confiscated.

Six crewmen of a fastboat, now in custody, will go free if the marijuana as evidence is not brought to court.

Nevertheless, this issue did not find  a unanimous Asamblea Legislativa. Eventually lawmakers voted  34 to 5 to allow the Elrod to dock in Limón and spend less than a week there.

This is a touchy subject with lawmakers. José María Villalta Florez-Estrada of the leftist Frente Amplio blamed the security ministry for not making a correct application in the past. Lawmakers just approved the transit of Costa Rican waters and the docking of U.S. Coast Guard ships. But the U.S. Navy still is not welcome.

The U.S. forces are in both oceans tracking down drug smugglers. The Elrod has been party to several high-profile confiscations.

The current case was reported Thursday. The Elron chased a fastboat that appears to have been bringing marijuana from Jamaica to Limón. The six-member crew dumped the marijuana into the 
drug boat
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía 
y Seguridad Pública photo 
 Crew of fast boat would go free if the marijuana
 evidence did not come to shore.

sea before the vessel was intercepted by a Costa Rican patrol boat. So the crew and the boat arrived in Limón but without the vital evidence of marijuana smuggling.

In the past, U.S. crews had to offload cocaine to Costa Rican boats to avoid the same problem.

Unidentified anti-American propagandists scored a victory of sorts in 2010. The security ministry sought permission for 46 U.S. warships to enter Costa Rican waters. The Cuban news agency, working on information supplied by individuals in Costa  Rica, turned that into an invasion that included 7,000 Marines.

Uncritical news editors published this around the world. In fact, the security ministry has sought permission for every possible U.S. boat that might find itself in need of resupply off Costa Rica. Still, lawmakers rejected the request.

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Tourism chamber wants
government to back dollar

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tourism industry is seeking government intervention to strengthen the dollar, and officials are seeking a meeting with President Laura Chinchilla Miranda to explain the situation.

As expected, representatives of the industry met Thursday to outline problems that tourism operators are having because the dollar has dropped in value in respect to the colon by about 15 percent when compared to exchange rates two years ago.

In addition, the tourism operators and the Cámara Nacional de Turismo noted that trips here are more expensive for U.S. citizens because of the weaker dollar.

The tourism competitivity index of the World Economic Forum puts Costa Rica in 72nd place in terms of purchasing power, a drop of 20 positions since 2009, said the chamber.

The dollar is traded daily, and the Banco Central only intervenes when the exchange rate moved out of an established range. In the past, the dollar was made slightly stronger each day because the Banco Central simply made the increase without regard to market forces.

The chamber noted that a weaker dollar also means that tourism operators cannot get sufficient credit and profits are down.

Gulf Cartel figure held
here after police raids

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law officers detained eight persons Thursday, and one was a wanted man closely connected to the Mexican Gulf Cartel.

He is  Juan Manuel García Hernández, 37, who was detained in an Avenida Secunda hotel.
 Police in  Matamoros, Tamaulipas, México, identified García Hernåndez as a confidant of  Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, the leader of the Gulf Cartel. García Hernández entered the country in February. He is wanted in the United States, too.

Investigators said that the ring specialized in moving cocaine overland by means of hidden compartments in trucks and trailers.
Involved in the raids were prosecutors of the Ministerio Público, the Judicial Investigating Organization and the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional. Officials said that five nations contributed intelligence for the arrests.

A preliminary report said that 45 kilos of cocaine had been confiscated. In addition to San José, raids took place in Paso Canoas, Pérez Zeledón and Osa.

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
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 6, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 134
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shoting lesson
A.M. Costa Rica/Paul Furlong

Enrique Rodriguez, who operates a pistol club range in La Garita, demonstrates technique to two Costa Rican women. He is a former top official in the national police.

Atenas man is on a mission promoting defensive pistolcraft
By Paul Furlong
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

My first confrontation with a gun was in the early 60s while in the Navy.  Though at sea most of the time, I kept my motorcycles in the back of Sam’s Used Foreign Cars, in Norfolk, Virginia.  Working late one night I heard laughing outside.  I put down my tools and went to investigate. 

Three drunken sailors were peeking in the cars and trying the doors.  I stepped outside and told them to keep moving. 

“Wyncha go f…. yerself!” one of them hollered back.

“Seriously guys,” I said, “leave the cars alone.  Go back to the ship and get some sleep.” 

They gave me one finger salutes and began rocking cars just to show me.  I was doing everything wrong.  Confronting drunks while young and stupid is dangerous.  My next move was even stupider.  I pulled my .25 automatic from my pocket and pointed it at them. 

“I’m serious now… get moving!”  I said low and mean.

“Go ahead!  Shoot me!” shouted the ugliest drunk.  Lessons often come in threes. 

1.)Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.

2.)Never threaten anyone with a gun.

3.)Never use a .25 auto unless you want to make ‘em mad.

 Flat footed at the door, I did the prudent thing and reached inside for Alice, Sam’s junk yard shepherd.  She’d been waiting her turn inside.  Now it was two of us. 

Alice made her prescience known, straining on her leash to get at them. Suddenly the cars stopped rocking.  A horse whisper from handsome over there said, “Let’s go,” and they were gone. 

It was a solemn evening working on my bike.  Ashamed and angry with myself, I gradually absorbed the truth, I had no business with a gun.  My bluff had been called and I’d been found wanting.

Ten years passed without fuss.  In New Jersey now, I’d become a homespun student of history and economics.  It was then I resolved to learn to shoot properly.

It appeared first on my daily planner.  Then I found myself brooding over gun counters in the self conscious way one does in a dirty book store.  I grazed through gun magazines for substance.    “Jeff Cooper on Handguns” leaped out at me.  Cooper was fast becoming the father of modern pistolcraft. and I devoured everything he wrote. 

I joined a club, became a National Rifle Association instructor and began to teach my own classes.  Twenty years leaked by.  One day I found myself leading motorcycle tours in Costa Rica.  Another 14 years passed before taking an interest in firearms again. 

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011, my wife and I had just started a card game in the kitchen.  Suddenly we heard a muffled sound like a door being kicked in next door. 

“Hear that?”

“Yes,” I said, still trying to assign a reason for the noise.  I dialed Eddie’s number.  No answer.  My wife tried, nothing.  I decided to have a look. 

A white SUV faced down Ed’s driveway.  Odd, I thought, a rear door open, too.  I drew my gun and continued toward the stairway.  Looking up, I noticed the wrong door was open and decided not to use the stairs.  I moved through the carport to the living room window. 
Ed was on the floor.  A creep in a mask, who just finished binding his hands, picked up a gun and put it to Ed’s head.  I shot him through the window glass.

Creep” jerked himself up and began a slow walk towards the bedroom.  I cleared the kitchen and living room.  There was movement in Ed’s bedroom. 

“You okay?”  I asked Ed.

“Yeah,” he answered and I knew he was.  Ed is a resourceful human being. 

I moved along the hall and began to fire at figures in the room.  The Creep was dead on the floor.  Fire came back at me.  Splinters from the door frame hit my legs.  I moved to a column on the other side of the door and continued to shoot.  At one point they crashed through a glass to the veranda.  I cleared my gun from a failure to feed and ran into Ed’s office where I could see him. 

During this time, two creeps got up on my own roof looking for a hostage or a way out. 

“Is that you Paul?” my wife asked.  No answer.  She fired her own gun into a dirt bank close to the house.  Footsteps scampered back to Ed’s property again.

Inside, “You have to get yourself loose, Ed”

“Okay.”  Ed cut himself loose somehow and was soon in the office with me.  We waited, not knowing if they were still there.  The police arrived.  I holstered my gun, and we raised our hands and walked out into the light.

It was like the policeman’s ball.  SWAT, OIJ, local police, fiscal and a judge all passed through our kitchen that evening.  Next door, the scene spoke for itself, one dead, another wounded, leaving blood as he escaped with two others.  

There were 19 holes in Ed’s house.  I was declared a hero by the police, the people and folks back home.  It felt good, but I did nothing more than fall back on my training.  I wasn’t afraid, just cool; working out a problem till it was over.  Training allows that.

Two days before our incident, on a bus from Rio Grande, an judicial agent killed an armed robbers and wounded a second. The third thoughtfully raised his hands. Over the previous 20 days, there had been 10 armed robberies in Atenas.  It’s been 11 months now, not one armed robbery since.  This pattern has repeated itself since man stood erect.  If you stand up for yourself, you also stand up for your community.  
Both the judicial agent and I had legal guns and were legal to carry them.  Each shooting was justified.  The fiscal kept my gun but gave it back when the investigation was done.  One thing is clear, you want to be legal.

I’m on a personal mission — not just to arm, but really teach civilians the art of defensive pistolcraft.

“Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician,” said Jeff Cooper.

Enrique Rodriguez, is the owner of the range and CEO of La Garita Pistol Club.  Together we teach safety, mental set, situational awareness and modern methods of handgun manipulation in Spanish and English. 

These four, equally important studies merge into seamless action in the defense of a person and her family.  Yes, many of my students are women, they seem more motivated.  Some are angry.

Our course is designed for people who have never touched a gun and are even a little afraid of them.  Stop being afraid!
 We charge $260 for a three-day course, including range fees.  This is our Web site:

A modest proposal to consider the psychic and social capital
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, feels the United States is in trouble and has asked people to report on what they have done to make things better or for their ideas of how to help.  What he is referring to is the general malaise in the country, not just as the result of the growing gap between rich and poor, but to the fact that many people are demoralized and it is no secret that the U.S. ranks far from the top on many categories that rate the happiness of a country and its people. 

Like some other industrialized countries, the U.S. bases its financial health on the money in its coffers as the result of what people buy and consume.  The problem is that for the past several years many of the people (the consumers) are out of work or underemployed and paid too little and thus are too poor to buy anything but the basics.

One solution: now that corporations are considered people, and people are consumers, then corporations are consumers, too. The country could base its wealth on what corporations consume or what they have.  Corporations have the money so it should not be a burden.  Then the country could find itself in good shape and continue to ignore the plight of those other failed consumers.

That is a facetious suggestion, Mr. Schultz.  In fact, my first suggestion is to divide the United States into at least five different countries.  The Euro zone is faltering, and one reason is the differences in cultures.  The U.S. also is made up of different, often clashing cultures that have become too difficult to lead from a central government.  However, this modest proposal will meet the same fate as that of Jonathan Swift’s.  So I will get serious. 

Not long ago a member of the Cato Institute pointed to Estonia as a good example for the U.S. to follow. Estonia is a country of fewer than two million people with a land mass of under 17,000 square miles.  At the time I scoffed at his choice of comparing apples and oranges.  I take back my scoff.  I would like to suggest that the U.S. be more like Costa Rica, which has a population twice as large as Estonia with a slightly larger land mass. 

And Costa Rica has often been listed among the top 10 of the happiest nations. 

In the United States companies are being just as productive with fewer people.  This is explained by the invention of machinery that can do the work of humans, but it is also because the people who have jobs are overworked and underpaid and fearful of losing their jobs if they complain.  Others are employed part-time or not at all.
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

It is often observed by foreigners in Costa Rica that more people than necessary seem to be working in some commercial establishments.  There is more to a job than a paycheck to buy stuff.  It means a reason to get up and be present. It means achievement and social connections and friendships.  (To this day, I marvel each time I witness a Tico, who upon arriving at work first greets others with a kiss or handshake. And they do that every day.)

There is financial capital and psychic capital, and even social capital, according to economist Kenneth Boulding. Financial capital is concerned with productivity and profit, social capital includes family relationships, cooperation, and personal investment in the community, goodwill, fellowship and mutual sympathy, all of the positive things that family and friends and jobs offer.  Psychic capital is the “accumulation of desirable mental states, and memories of pleasure, success, and recognition.”  Work provides these emotions, too.  People are motivated to add to their psychic capital. They want to feel good.

Just as the accumulation of financial wealth has its dark side of greed, so does psychic capital have a down side. Failure can lead to a depletion of psychic capital.  Losing a job and being unable to support loved ones, feeling belittled or unjustly treated can create angry memories, and negative psychic capital.

Costa Rica, with its strong family and community ties, its stress on peace and cooperation and environmental survival, its recognition that working people are happy people, is rich in shared positive social and psychic capital. The people of the United States have accumulated too much negative psychic capital.  Perhaps corporations could use the money in their coffers to hire more people than they feel are necessary and follow Henry Ford’s example of paying them well and promote the general welfare.

All I am saying, Mr. Schultz, is (with my thanks to Professor Kenneth E. Boulding), that if the U.S. government and people who have the power, would pay more attention to the wealth that is in social and psychic capital, perhaps hope and equilibrium will return to our country.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 6, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 134
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Now Costa Rica has more trees than people, minister reports
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In a campaign to fight deforestation in Costa Rica, government agencies, private organizations and universities have been working to plant more trees. Now the Ministerio  de Ambiente y Energía has celebrated the planting of its 4,615,518th tree.

At the event, René Castro, minister, and Werner Steinvorth together planted an endangered tree called a cristobal (Platymiscium pinnatum), one of 17 trees that an executive order prohibits from being cut down. Steinvorth was honored at the event for his work in developing sustainable forest plantations.

Castro boasted that, along with organizations like the Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal  and the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, supporters have now planted more trees than there are people in Costa Rica and have covered over half of the country with trees.

"The country should complement the 52.4  percent of the territory that already has forest cover with thousands of trees planted as living fences in cattle ranches, or as shade in coffee plantations,” said Castro, according to a press release. “These trees will give us additional wood, fruits and shade."

At the ceremony in INBioparque in Santo Domingo de Heredia, Castro recognized Steinvorth and organizations like the Asociación para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Región Atlántica that have developed and put into practice agroforestry systems and more specifically silvopasture systems that integrate agriculture with forests.

Silvopasture systems integrates crops grown on trees or shrubs with pastures for livestock ranches, making it unnecessary to entirely clear forests in order to accommodate ranches.

The Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal estimates that 795,000 hectares (1,964,488 acres) of forest are on protected land, and 63,000 hectares (155,676 acres) have been reforested.

Additionally earlier this week, the University Estatal a Distancia and the Centro Universitario de San Marcos led a group of 125 volunteers to Cerro de la Cruz in Tarrazú where they planted more than 3,000 trees as part of a national
tree planting
Ministerio de Ambiente, y Energía photo
 Werner Steinvorth shovels the dirt while René Castro
 steadies the protected tree.

reforestation campaign started by the public university in 2008.

The event received additional support from other universities and organizations, such the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, which donates the trees.

Four recent fires have made the ground infertile, according to a press release, and the goal of the campaign is not only reforest the affected area, but also promote reforestation, sustainable agricultural practices and the protection of water resources.

Study says that coral reefs had prolonged collapse centuries ago
By the  Florida Institute of Technology news staff

Coral reefs could be on the verge of a total ecosystem collapse lasting thousands of years, according to a paper published this week in Science. The paper shows how natural climatic shifts stalled reef growth in the eastern Pacific for 2,500 years. The stall-out, which began 4,000 years ago, corresponds to a period of dramatic swings in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation.

“As humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate is once again on the threshold of a new regime, with dire consequences for reef ecosystems unless we get control of climate change,” said coauthor Richard Aronson, a biology professor at Florida Institute of Technology.

Doctoral student Lauren Toth and Aronson, her adviser at Florida Tech, led the study of how past episodes of climate change influenced tropical reefs of the eastern Pacific. Ms. Toth, Aronson and a multi-institutional research team drove 17-foot, small-bore aluminum pipes deep into the dead frameworks of coral reefs along the Pacific coast of Panamá and pulled out cross-sections of the reefs. By analyzing the corals in the cores, they were able to reconstruct the history of the reefs over the past 6,000 years.

“We were shocked to find that 2,500 years of reef growth were missing from the frameworks,” said Ms. Toth. “That gap represents the collapse of reef ecosystems for 40 percent of
their total history.” When Toth and Aronson examined reef records from other studies across the Pacific, they discovered the same gap in reefs as far away as Australia and Japan.

'Ms. Toth linked the coral-reef collapse to changes in Southern Oscillation. This is the climate cycle responsible for the weather conditions every few years known as El Niño and La Niña events. The timing of the stall-out in reef growth corresponds to a period of wild swings in the Southern Oscillation. “Coral reefs are resilient ecosystems,” said Ms. Toth. “For Pacific reefs to have collapsed for such a long time and over such a large geographic scale, they must have experienced a major climatic disturbance.”

Scenarios of climate change for the coming century echo the climate patterns that collapsed reefs in the eastern Pacific 4,000 years ago. The reefs off Panama are on the verge of another collapse.

“Climate change could again destroy coral-reef ecosystems, but this time the root cause would be the human assault on the environment and the collapse could be longer-lasting,” said Aronson. “Local issues like pollution and overfishing are major destructive forces and they need to be stopped, but they are trumped by climate change, which right now is the greatest threat to coral reefs.”

Ms. Toth noted more hopefully that reefs have proven resilient in the past.

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Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 6, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 134
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Obama says U.S. is acting
against Chinese car tariffs

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama says China is creating an unfair playing field by imposing excessive duties on exports of American automobiles.  The president spoke during a campaign visit to a city where many residents work at an automobile factory.
Obama went to Toledo, Ohio, Thursday, hours after his administration requested consultations at the World Trade Organization.  The U.S. is accusing China of unfairly slapping more than $3 billion in duties on American-made vehicles.

“That is why my administration brought trade cases against China at a faster pace than the previous administration, and we won those cases," the president said. "Just this morning, my administration took a new action to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American automakers.”

Several thousand people in the Toledo area work at factories where Jeep trucks are built.

The president’s visit was the first of several campaign stops on a two-day bus tour through the manufacturing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, which many experts believe could be pivotal in the November election.

“Americans and American workers build better products than anybody else," said Obama. "So as long as we are competing on a fair playing field instead of an unfair playing field, we will do just fine.  But we are going to make sure that competition is fair.”

Obama’s likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, has accused the president of being too soft on China on trade practices and other issues.

Republican Tim Pawlenty, former governor of the state of Minnesota, campaigned for Romney in Ohio Thursday.  He said the president has broken his promise to get tough with China on trade.

The president’s press secretary, Jay Carney, said Thursday the Obama administration has been successful in all six previous challenges to Chinese duties on American products, ranging from steel to chicken.

On the campaign trail, Obama is portraying himself as more of an advocate for working-class Americans than Romney, who was a wealthy businessman before entering politics.

Romney says his business experience will help him create jobs as president.

Obama’s bus tour concludes Friday as the U.S. unemployment figures for June are released.

The president said Thursday this year’s election will set the course of the nation’s economy for the next decade and beyond.

FBI will close down
servers for virus victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world could be in for an unwelcome surprise Monday, unless they check their computers now for malware that infected their machines a year ago.

The virus caused by Eastern European computer hackers will make it impossible to access the Internet.

​​Facebook and Google, Web sites used by billions of people every day, are alerting users who they suspect may have infected computers. They also provide information on what people can do to fix the problem.

The hackers used an online advertising scam to take control of nearly 600,000 computers last year, harvesting information about users and directing them to fraudulent Web sites.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation smashed the computer ring and temporarily set up two Internet servers so that users can remain on line.

But that temporary fix will be closed down Monday.

Along with Facebook, Google and some global computer security firms, the FBI can provide information on how to find out if a computer is infected and how it can be fixed.

Head of man in grim video
turns up in Montreal park

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Police in the eastern Canadian city of Montreal say forensic tests have confirmed that a human head found in a park belongs to a Chinese university student who was killed and dismembered in May.

The severed head of Jun Lin, a student at Montreal's Concordia University, was discovered Sunday, more than a month after his severed foot was mailed to the headquarters of Canada's ruling Conservative Party.  Other body parts were mailed to Canadian politicians in the capital, Ottawa, and two schools in Vancouver.

Jun's torso was found by a janitor in a suitcase outside the Montreal apartment of Luke Rocco Magnotta, who has been charged with the murder.  The victim's head was the last missing body part. 

Investigators say Magnotta recorded himself on video dismembering, sexually abusing and eating parts of the body, then posting it on the Internet.  The 29-year-old porn actor traveled to Paris and later to Berlin, where he was arrested last month and extradited back to Canada.  He is also charged with abuse of a corpse, publishing and mailing obscene material, and harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament.

Police say Magnotta, who was dubbed "the Canadian Psycho" by media, also may be responsible for other crimes, including killing kittens and posting the acts online. 

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Teatro Jacó has full slate
of comedy for July

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This month Jacó Beach will be the scene of virtually non-stop comedy with Teatro Jaco's inaugural “JACO Ha Ha 2012,” featuring two weekends of acts from the United States, two weekends of Costa Rican acts and comedy workshops in both English and Spanish.

The first half of the month will be devoted to English acts, which started yesterday with “Faye Lane's Beauty Shop Stories” until the Monday, then the next night comedy troupe, Upright Citizen's Brigade will take over with two nights of workshops followed by five nights of performances.

Breaking for one day, the second half of the month with feature comedy acts in Spanish, starting off with two nights of workshops, followed by three nights of Sergio Masis' “Maldito Murphy,” and concluding with three performances of a sit-com-styled show called “Qué Zambrote!”

“Now everybody's on vacation in Costa Rica. It's nice to have something for people to enjoy and laugh at,” said Ulrike Gutiérrez, production assistant at Teatro Jacó. “It's a good month for that.”

Founded in 2010 by Darren Lee Cole, who also co-owns an off-Broadway theater in New York City called SoHo Playhouse, Teatro Jacó opened at the Oceans Center, last December.

Although Ms. Gutiérrez says that the two shows in English have already been performed at Cole's theater in New York City and were fairly easy to book for Teatro Jacó, but she says this is still a very busy month compared to what they are used to.

“Faye Lane's Beauty Shop Stories” is an autobiographical stand-up performance by Rhonda Faye Gunnels, in which she tells stories of growing up in her mother's beauty salon. She will give four more performances until Monday.

Next up is two evenings of workshops and five performances by Upright Citizens Brigade, an improvisational theater group with performance spaces in New York City and Hollywood, California. Upright Citizens once had its own television show on Comedy Central from 1998 until 2000, and has had members such as Amy Poehler and Horatio Sans over the years.

For the local acts performing in Spanish, Ms. Gutiérrez says that Teatro Jacó had little trouble  recruiting the acts from San José, where most performers are based.

After the cast of “Qué Zambrote!” gives two workshops on the 18th and 19th, one actor and one actress will perform 21 shorts about how Murphy's Law affects all stages of life, in actor, director and playwrightttt Sergio Masis' “Maldito Murphy,” which will run three nights that weekend.

After a three-day pause, “Qué Zambrote!” will return for three performances, from July 26 to 28, in which local comedians Rita Fields and Ricardo Segura will play 14 characters and depict comedic scenes of everyday Costa Rican life.

For the performances in English, general tickets cost $20 for general admission and $30 for VIP seating which includes two drinks. Performances in Spanish are $10 for general admission and $20 for VIP seating. The workshops in English are $20 for one night and $30 for both nights. The workshops in Spanish cost 5,000 colons for one night and 7,500 for both.

All shows start at 8 p.m., and all workshops start at 6 p.m.

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