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(506) 2223-1327           Published Friday, July 8, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 134           E-mail us
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Talk about redemption!

A Nissan all-terrain vehicle seized as part of the goods of a drug operation has been reborn as a fire vehicle. The Cuerpo de Bomberos will receive the vehicle formally today from the  Comisionado Nacional Antidrogas. The vehicle will be based at the Sarchí fire station. Firemen have received other confiscated goods, but none as flashy as this.
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Increasingly Ticos are getting hooked up to Web
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Although President Laura Chinchilla has embarked on a bold plan to put Internet access and computers to use it all over the country, the government's service provide reported Thursday that 56 percent of the population use the Web and that 370,000 homes have connections.

The estimates are the results of a survey by CID Gallup commissioned by Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the government Internet provider. The survey estimated Internet users at 2.4 million.

The results are consisted with what President Chinchilla said, that four out of 10 persons do not have Internet access. But Radiográfica, known as RACSA, said that individuals in 130,000 homes expressed the intention of purchasing a computer in the next six months. Even now, the country has the highest Internet penetration of nations in Central America, said RACSA, citing another source.

All homes with computers are not connected to the Internet, the survey confirmed. Some 53 percent of Costa Rican homes have computers but about 61,000 have no Internet connection.

The percentage of Internet users has climbed slowly from the 20 percent in 2004, the company said. When A.M. Costa Rica was founded 10 years ago, Internet penetration here was very low. But the company prospered because the percentage of expats with computers was very high.

The RACSA study concluded that  a million   persons access the Internet from their homes. The average time of use is about three hours, the company said. Getting the highest use is email, chats, academic research, music and videos. Facebook is the No. 1 place Costa Ricans go, according to Alexa, the Amazon company that tracks Web use. About 19 per cent of the population, some 500,000, are on the social networks, and about 185,000 visit their favorites each day, said the survey.

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Our readers' opinions
Caja hospital experience
was superior to private

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Mr. Richardson's experience is sad and tragic, but happens all too often in the expensive private hospitals, as well.

I foolishly took a very strong antibiotic pill at bedtime, without water, and a few days later suffered severe pain in my pancreas. (My fault).

A friend rushed me to a nearby shiny, new hospital where I described the pain and the location. The ER doctor insisted it was a heart attack and called a heart specialist. I was admitted. The next morning he returned to my room with the declaration I had sugar diabetes.  They were guessing. I again explained exactly where the pain was, but since it was eased, they released me on the condition I return for an $800-plus stress treadmill exam.

I went home and in due course, ate. A day later the same pain returned. This time I went to an older private hospital where the medical test showed stage four pancreatis.

Having had bad experiences with private hospitals, I used my Caja insurance to go to San Juan de Dios, where the facilites were admittedly not as up to date, but the medical and nursing care was first-class.

My point is that malpractice and incompetence can be anywhere  private or Caja. But my experience with Caja services was far superior to the expensive private sector.

Carl Robbins
David, Panama and Atlanta, Georgia

Reader prefers bonus
in coverage of the news

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My husband and I have started our day with a cup of hot coffee and A.M. Costa Rica for about five years now (even when we are not in Costa Rica).  That will always continue since we find the coverage of the news thorough and thought-provoking.  To include articles of interest from others parts of the world is an added bonus as it piques our interest to look further (by Googling) if necessary.  We are not TV news addicts and rely on A.M. Costa Rica for our daily dose of news of Costa Rica (though I sometimes read the online version of La Nación by automatically translating the newspaper to English).  Thank you for the daily fix of news AND for the crossword puzzle which gets the brain in motion!
Ann Boyd
Canoas de Alajuela

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, Friday, July 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 134

Prisma Dental

Special Olympics
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Athletes wearing their medals and trainers pose with the president
Special Olympics athletes get the presidential treatment
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The most upbeat story of the week is the return of 67 Special Olympics athletes from an international competition. Where else but in Athens, Greece.

The youngsters were met with bands and cheering parents and supporters when they arrived at Juan Santamaría airport. Many were decked out in multiple gold, silver and bronze medals.
The athletes and their 18 trainers were guests at Casa Presidencial Thursday where President Laura Chinchilla praised them for their efforts. They were applauded by Casa Presidencial staffers.

Some 7,000 athletes from 180 countries attended the games that ran from June 25 to last Monday. The results of the Costa Rican efforts are posted on the Web site of the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Some Costa Rican participants competed in a dozen or more events.

Here's a column you can really get your teeth into
 First, an update on last week’s column.   Hank, knowledgeable on the subject, wrote me that the little blue and grey birds on my balcony are not finches, but tanagers.  Of course, he is right. I am not the urban naturalist my friend Sandy called me.

Cutie Pie, my gecko friend living behind my bedroom bookcase, disappeared after last week’s column.  Obviously he’s publicity shy. He returned one night and the next night, when I had a small invasion of winged ants, I stunned one (ants can recover from lethal blows) and dropped it behind my bookcase, should he return.  Then I heard Cutie Pie chirping good night from the living room.

Doing a little research on ants, I discovered that there are slave-making ants.  I entertain myself with developing theories about life and animal behavior.  One recent theory, inspired by worldwide concern about present-day slave trade, is that along with our other drives, humans have a need/desire to own slaves to do their bidding, and like the other drives, for food, sex, experiencing another reality ordering chaos, is susceptible to corruption and greed.  Even ants steal the pupae of other ants and raise them to be slaves! Some religions, but mainly democracy, helps keep our drives under control, at least from harming others.

But we must be careful about striving for a too perfect world. My daughter has just returned to New Mexico after visiting the Greek island of Serifos.  She was thrilled with the island, especially the freshness of island-grown vegetables and fruits.  Recently some newly arrived expats were extolling the same discovery in Costa Rica, especially at the ferias. I had to smile because that was my first reaction years ago after my first lunch at Tin Jo’s and those expertly cooked day-fresh asparagus.

But, of course, it is always the tomatoes that are mentioned.  They were like the tomatoes of my childhood. Beefsteak tomatoes with a little mayonnaise were a better treat than an ice cream cone.

Now I am dismayed at the deterioration of the quality of tomatoes at the ferias. So many seem to be cultivated to withstand travel with hard white cores. 

I am waiting for some company to develop the genetically modified but perfect and uniform thick skinned cube tomato that will pack easily.

Lots of things were different in so many ways.  Life was healthier back then, but it was not perfect – especially our teeth.  Unless you could afford braces, you were stuck
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

with the way your teeth grew. Dentists probably did more extractions than anything else, and you had to adjust to spaces in your mouth if it happened to be a permanent tooth or live with false teeth.  As a kid, I thought two sets of teeth were not enough, three would be perfect.  Now we have that third set and it is perfect.  It is called dental implants, and business is booming in Costa Rica because the dentists are good and the price is right.

I decided to check out what dental implants could do for me. I wanted, along with a couple of molars, two front teeth replaced because of chips and rough edges.  I carefully explained (I thought) that I wanted the same teeth, only without the signs of aging.  Of course, doctors, along with fathers always know best, and I was, through the process of what felt like trying to put on a cement lined wetsuit over all of my upper teeth, presented with my new look.  They not only replaced my two front teeth but others that didn’t fit with the new look. They were perfect, exactly like those of the other people I had seen.  No different, really, than false teeth without the nuisance.  I no longer was me. Part of me was perfect.

I had invited my friend Doug, along, so he could give his opinion.  “They’re perfect,” he said.  "They look artificial, and they are not you.” Later he said, “The problem of being perfect is there is no individuality.”  He was right.  I thought of all of the breast implanted bosoms and facelifts I have seen.  Most of them were perfect – and eventually, boring. 

This is a plea to some brilliant lab technician who makes teeth.  Please figure out how to improve our bites without removing our identities.

And dear readers, I hope you could follow this circuitous journey I just traveled.

We lost our dog!
A Rhodesian Ridgeback, 7-month-old female, she has been chipped! La Garita, near Turrucares.
Anybody have seen her? Reward offered!
Cel: 8876-9882

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 134

CR Home

San Ramón begins push to become the Clean Cantón

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San Ramón volunteers will be planting 2,000 trees Sunday as part of the community's carbon neutral initiative. The trees have been donated by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad via the local agricultural ministry office. A  landowner is permitting the trees to be planted on his land. The trees will go near a place called Quinto Cerro where there are a number of springs and water sources.

The carbon neutral project has been created by the Cámara de Comercio y Industria de San Ramón and has the support of the Community Action Alliance in that city.
Additional objectives of the campaign include education, economic development, and branding: we aspire to position San Ramón as the Clean Canton by attracting direct foreign investment either involved in the production of sustainable products or committed to sustainable business practices, said Mike Styles of the  Community Action Alliance.

The central government has outlined the goal to make Costa Rica carbon neutral by 2021, so the Proyecto San Ramón Camino a Carbon Neutro, meaning on the road to carbon neutrality, is consistent with that government goal. Styles said the group is highly educated, realistic, and action oriented.

New hotel designed with energy- and water-saving features

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new hotel Holiday Inn San José-Escazú is what is being called a techno-sustainable facility. The $20 million structure adjacent to Hospital CIMA on the Autopista del Sol/Próspero Fernández highway boasts a host of energy-saving and water-saving systems.

The Grupo Agrisal project is supposed to be able to reduce by 40 percent the water consumption of a similar traditional hotel. The elevators in the facility are designed to reuse the energy that they produce, said the company.

Grupo Agrisal is a Salvadoran company, and this is the firm's first investment in Costa Rica. Roberto Murray, company president, praised Costa Rica for its stability. The hotel is the first of a series of planned investments, said the firm.
new hotel
The new hotel is not far from Hospital CIMA in Escazú

Suspect in Heredia armed robbery arrested in Louisiana

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Marshals Service has arrested a man in Louisiana who is sought as a suspect in the armed robbery of a taxi driver here June 2, 2010, the service said.

The man is Major Adam Benoit, 37, who was arrested at a Lake Charles casino early Saturday morning.

Major is his first name and not a military rank. The arrest was made by the Violent Offender Task Force  and the  Louisiana State Police, the Marshals Service said. The case stems from a robbery with a knife in Heredia, said the service. The 220-pound Benoit is the subject of an arrest warrant from Costa Rica. Two men were involved in the robbery, marshals said.

U.S. Marshals task forces throughout the United States arrested more than 82,000 state and local fugitives and over 36,000 federal fugitives, it said.
Major Benoit
Major Adam Benoit

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 134

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Cuba's high court getting
case of jailed U.S. visitor

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuba's top court will consider an appeal from the American contractor imprisoned for crimes against the Communist state.

Cuban state media Thursday announced the country's Supreme Court will consider Alan Gross's appeal July 22. The report said U.S. officials and Gross's lawyers had been notified of the court date.

Gross is serving a 15-year sentence. He was arrested in December 2009 for bringing communications equipment into Cuba. The contractor has said he was just trying to improve Internet access for the island's small Jewish community.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with Gross in March and called on authorities there to release him. Gross's mother and daughter are both suffering from cancer, and there have also been requests to release the contractor on humanitarian grounds.

The United States and Cuba do not have formal diplomatic relations, only interests sections that are technically part of the Swiss embassies in each other's capitals.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects
Mexican national's appeal

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected calls from around the world — and from the U.S. president — to delay the execution of a Mexican man convicted of a brutal 1994 rape and murder.

Justices Thursday voted 5 to 4 against delaying the execution, which was carried out just hours later in Texas.

International diplomats and Mexican authorities had asked for a stay so the case could be reviewed. U.S. President Barack Obama's top lawyer intervened as well, asking the Supreme Court to delay the sentence for six months.

At issue was whether the defendant, Humberto Leal, had access to services from the Mexican consulate — a requirement under an international treaty called the Vienna Convention. A U.S. congressman has also proposed a law similar to the Vienna Convention provision requiring U.S. courts to give foreign nationals access to consular services and to review any convictions to ensure a lack of consular help did not affect the outcome.

Leal's lawyer has said that with legal assistance from the consulate, Leal might not have been convicted, let alone given a death sentence.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verilli said Leal's execution could set a dangerous precedent for U.S. citizens accused of crimes in other countries. He asked the court to grant more time for the proposal to be debated.

But the Supreme Court said it could not rule based on the possibility of a new law. The court said it must rule based on existing law.

Prosecutors noted that similar laws have failed to pass in Congress at least twice before. And they said there was convincing evidence of Leal's guilt.

A similar appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected in 2008, when Texas was set to execute a different Mexican national.

Haiti's Martelly selects
prime minister nominee

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Haitian President Michel Martelly has chosen a lawyer and former justice minister to be the country's next prime minister, making a second attempt to fill that key government post.

President Martelly Wednesday picked Bernard Gousse for the job.  Some lawmakers say Gousse will not win the backing of legislators because he is a bad choice.

Other lawmakers say Gousse was responsible for the arrests of high-profile supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide after the ex-president was ousted in 2004.   Aristide returned to Haiti earlier this year after seven years in exile.

Last month, Haitian lawmakers rejected President Martelly's first choice for prime minister, Daniel-Gerard Rouzier. Some accused him of tax evasion, a charge he has denied. Others raised questions about his business dealings and citizenship.

Without a prime minister, Martelly, who took office in May, has not been able to form a government to begin to address the extensive challenges facing the country. 

Haiti was crippled by a January 2010 earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people and left one million others homeless. Many 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 former president Rene Preval's opposition party.

Additionally, a cholera outbreak that started last October has been responsible for the deaths of about 5,500 people.  Haiti is the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 134

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Nosara area residents seek
to raise funds for ailing child

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Nosara area residents are trying to raise money for the treatment of the son of a popular local couple.

The boy, Jacob Cameron, is the son of  David and Angie Cameron of Nosara. He is being treated at the Children's Hospital in Denver, Colorado, because he has a tumor on his brain stem and may have only a year to live.

Costly radiation treatments offers the possibility of shrinking the tumor, giving the child more years to live, as well as a better quality of life. The parents are now living in Broomfield. Colorado, to be with their son.

July 16, a week from tomorrow, from noon to 3:30 p.m., local businesses Marlin Bill's, the Gilded Iguana, L'Acqua Viva, La Luna, and Rancho Tico are headlining a poker run fundraiser followed by a silent auction and raffle held at Marlin Bill's. Participants may pick up an entry form at any of the above locations. In addition, the Frog Pad will be selling raffle tickets and will have entry forms for pickup.
The rules for the Poker Run are simple. Participants are required to go to each of the participating establishments to pick up a card. All participants must return with their cards to Marlin Bill's by 3:30 p.m. where the top three hands will win prizes. This will be followed by the raffle and silent auction.

`Locals know David Cameron as an electrician. His wife, Angie, is a Costa Rican who teaches at the Del Mar Academy.
More information about the Poker Run available at Marlin Bill's at 2682-0458. Organizers also are seeking donations for the silent auction.

Woman, 67, gunned down
by visitor to her home

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 67-year-old woman with the last name of Cavajal died early Thursday when someone came to her home on a pretext and then shot her. That was in Las Gavetas in Hatillo 5. She died a short time later at Hospital San Juan de Dios.

The woman operated a money-lending business, and the visitor, who came at 2 a.m., pretended to be paying back a loan, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

In an unrelated case, a 16-year old died in  El Roble, Alajuela, from blows to the head, said investigators. She lived near the scene and was found in a park.

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