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(506) 2223-1327               San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 13, 2010,  Vol. 10, No. 136        E-mail us
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Future of social networking still up in the air
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

The future of so-called social media still is uncertain. Will instant access to others continue to be valued highly or will social media collapse like the citizen band radio craze of the early 1970s.

The jury still is out, but there is strong evidence that the investment of time needed in sites such as Hi5, Facebook and Twitter will result in some die-off.

Previous A.M. Costa Rica news stories said that social networking has replaced pornography as the No. 1 use of the Internet. But now comes a report that nearly one in five teens with a Facebook profile had decreased or discontinued their use of the site as of April 2010. In addition, 9 percent of teen Internet users said they had a Facebook profile but had completely abandoned it.

"This turnover does not approach the level of MySpace, where 22 percent of teens had completely stopped using a profile. YouTube and Twitter both sported relatively high 15 percent abandonment rates," said the same studies.

These reports suggest that social networking itself is facing die-off. One reason, of course, is the investment in time that social media require. Simply staying in touch with hundreds of contacts eats up a lot of time. And advertisers may not want those who have so much time on their hands that they can spend hours on the social sites. Teen and senior citizen audiences are only good for some marketing efforts.

Americans now consume three times as much information each day as they did in 1960, and surveys show that students in the U.S. spend at least six hours a day using electronic devices.  Many of these students use several types of media at once. For example, listening to an iPod and working on the computer, while a television plays in the background.

Listening to music certainly is more passive and requires less of a personal investment than maintaining social media contacts.

Still, Costa Rican government agencies are placing heavy emphasis on social media. President Laura Chinchilla used social media in her campaign and continues to do so as president. She has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and posts photos to Flickr.

One posting last week on Facebook concerned the president meeting with Dom Sagolla, the co-creator of Twitter. So far the presidential Facebook page has attracted 3,983 fans, it says. Twitter allows users to broadcast messages of 140 characters or less, a form of instant e-mail.

The security ministry also has a Facebook page, as do some other government agencies. Each 
Twitter founder
Casa Presidencial photo
Dom Sagolla and Laura Chinchilla discuss, perhaps, social networking last week.

requires staff time and a proportional expenditure of public funds. However, they serve as a direct link from government officials to citizens. So far, however, the pages are highly self-promotional.

Communication researchers are wondering if the proliferation of social networking might be dumbing down those who use them.  In other words, are new media making people less attentive, less studious, or more gullible?  Most experts say no, according to Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center.

"This isn't a technology question, this is a human question," says Rainie.  "The Internet makes people more of what they already are.  So if you're dumb, if you're prone to shortcuts, if you don't have a good detector in your head, the Internet will give you lots of information, lots of ways to divert yourself, lots of ways to make you more lazy than you already are.  By the same token, if you're an information omnivore, if you really want to gain expertise in a subject, if you really want to study something in depth, you've never had a better environment than the online environment."

Citizen band radio continues to be used extensively by those who gain a social or economic advantage from the service. Truckers can't live without it. A small fraction of citizens monitor the air waves in their community giving out traffic and travel advice. But the numbers are far lower than during the 1973 oil crisis in the United States.  Many of the needs filled by CB radio are now addressed by cell telephones and other electronic devices.

So the future of social networking remains very much up in the air, and perhaps the CB radio is not a good parallel.

Examples of a social networking site that provide real value to users are the several interactive Internet discussion lists for expats here in Costa Rica and for those who may want to move here. Some of the information dispensed is incorrect, but the many users provide a fact-checking and validating process. It may be that other types of social networking will prosper by offering very narrow areas of interest similar to these long-operating Internet lists.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 136

Costa Rica Expertise
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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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The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the  General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is not an authorization  to operate. The supervision of SUGEF refers to compliance with the capital legitimization requirements of Law No. 8204. SUGEF does not supervise the
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Tropical storm Alex
NASA/JPL-Caltech photo 
  Tropical Storm Alex in the Gulf of Mexico June 29 later
  intensified into a Category Two hurricane before making
  landfall in northeast Mexico.


Major effort ready to begin
to study tropical cyclones

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Three NASA aircraft will begin flights to study tropical cyclones Aug. 15 during the agency's first major U.S.-based hurricane field campaign since 2001. The Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes mission, or GRIP, will study the creation and rapid intensification of hurricanes. Advanced instruments from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., will be aboard two of the aircraft.

One of the major challenges in tropical cyclone forecasting is knowing when a tropical cyclone is going to form. Scientists will use the data from this six-week field mission to better understand how tropical storms form and develop into major hurricanes. Mission scientists will also be looking at how storms strengthen, weaken and die.

"This is really going to be a game-changing hurricane experiment," said Ramesh Kakar, program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "For the first time, scientists will be able to study these storms and the conditions that produce them for up to 20 hours straight. GRIP will provide a sustained, continuous look at hurricane behavior at critical times during their formation and evolution."

GRIP is led by Kakar and three project scientists: Scott Braun and Gerry Heymsfield of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and Edward Zipser of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Three NASA satellites will play a key role in supplying data about tropical cyclones during the field mission. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission managed by both NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will provide rainfall estimates and help pinpoint the locations of hot towers or powerhouse thunderstorms in tropical cyclones.

The CloudSat spacecraft, developed and managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will provide cloud profiles of storms, which include altitude, temperatures and rainfall intensity. Several instruments onboard NASA's Aqua satellite, including Jet Propulsion's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, will provide infrared, visible and microwave data that reveal such factors as temperature, air pressure, precipitation, cloud ice content, convection and sea surface temperatures.

The three NASA aircraft taking part in the mission are a DC-8, WB-57 and a remotely piloted Global Hawk. The DC-8 will fly out of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida. The WB-57 will be based at the NASA Johnson Space Center's Ellington Field in Houston. The Global Hawk will be piloted and based from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, in Palmdale, Calif., while flying for up to 20 hours in the vicinity of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

The aircraft will carry a total of 15 instruments, ranging from an advanced microwave sounder to dropsondes that take measurements as they fall through the atmosphere to the ocean surface. In order to determine how a tropical cyclone will behave, the instruments will analyze many factors including: cloud droplet and aerosol concentrations, air temperature, wind speed and direction in storms and on the ocean's surface, air pressure, humidity, lightning, aerosols, and water vapor. The data also will validate the observations from space.

The Jet Propulsion instruments include the High-Altitude Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Sounding Radiometer, flying aboard the Global Hawk; and the Airborne Precipitation Radar aboard the DC-8. The radiometer is a microwave atmospheric sounder that will be used to infer the 3-D distribution of temperature, water vapor and cloud liquid water in the atmosphere. It operates even in the presence of clouds.

The Precipitation Radar is a dual-frequency weather radar that will take 3-D images of the precipitation beneath the DC-8 to measure its characteristics. These data will be used to infer rainfall rates, the location of ice and the speed of air updrafts, all of which are part of the atmospheric processes that provide a hurricane's energy.

"It was a lot of hard work to assemble the science team and the payload for the three aircraft for GRIP," Kakar said. "But now that the start of the field experiment is almost here, we can hardly contain our excitement."

In addition to Jet Propulsion, several other NASA field centers are involved in the mission.

Mission planning is being coordinated with two separate hurricane airborne research campaigns that will be in the field at the same time. The National Science Foundation is sponsoring the PRE-Depression Investigation of Cloud-systems in the Tropics mission. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is conducting the Intensity Forecast Experiment 2010. These flights will be based in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands and Tampa, Florida..

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A.M. Costa Rica guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching
The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages
A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds
Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

For your international reading pleasure:

News of Nicaragua
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News of Cuba
News of Venezuela
News of Colombia
News of El Salvador

News of Honduras
News of the Dominican Republic
News of Panamá
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 136

Rapid Respose
Rock n roll

This is part of the section between Kilometer 20 and Kilometer 30 north of San José where motorists pray the hillside stays intact.
Ruta 32
Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo

Officials again will close key highway for study of hillside
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Transport officials are closing Ruta 32, the San José-Guápiles-Limón highway from 6:30 a.m. today to 12:30 p.m. for what they call monitoring the unstable sections of the highway.

The stretch also will be closed at the same time Thursday, officials said. The 18-kilometer stretch through Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo continues to threaten motorists who use the shelf road. This is the major highway to the Caribbean. An alternative route through Turrialba is
narrow and mostly inadequate for truck and bus traffic.

Spanish experts and experts for the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad have been studying the threatening hillside for weeks and ask that the road be closed so that traffic does not disrupt their instruments.

The sliding hillside has become a political embarrassment, but any effort to eliminate the danger would be very costly. Coincidentally, the new Autopista del Sol from San José to Caldera has the same problem between Atenas and Orotina. Officials are struggling to keep that route safe.


Symbolic gun destruction honors murdered school director
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Security officials are urging citizens to disarm themselves in the wake of the murder of a school director by a student.

Security officials held a symbolic event Monday in which a revolver surrendered by a family in Tibás was chopped into pieces.

The .22-caliber revolver was registered and legally owned by Leda Rodríguez Fuentes, who decided to destroy it because she had youngsters at home and because she wanted to avoid the kind of tragedy that happened to Nancy Chaverri Jiménez, 49, the school director who died Sunday and was buried Monday, officials said.

A friend of the family, identified as Gerardo Leadro Lobo, used a chop saw to destroy the gun under the direction of officers from the Dirección de Armamento of the Minsterio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Officials called such weapons enemies in the house. The 17-year-old murder suspect, a student at the director's institution in Mercedes Sur de Heredia, is suspected of taking his father's weapon to school to commit the attack.

Many Costa Ricans have legal and illegal weapons in the home. The father of the suspect said that he kept the weapon under lock.

Pablo Bertozzi, subdirector of the Fuerza Pública, said at
gun cutting
Minsterio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Gerardo Leadro Lobo chops up the revolvoer (inset).

the destruction event that parents should keep a weapon in a place where children cannot get at it. Officials also called on parents to reflect on whether they really needed a weapon in the home at all. Those who want to destroy one can call the armament department at 2229-1486.

José María Tijerino, the security minister, was not at the ceremony. He attended the funeral for the school director, as did many other public officials.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 136


President's husband may be out of hospital in just three days

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

His physician said Monday that José María Rico, the husband of President Laura Chinchilla, should be out of Hospital CIMA in about three days.

The 75-year-old Rico underwent emergency surgery Monday to repair a broken hip. He fell at a friend's home in Punto Isleta Sunday night, and a private helicopter airlifted him to the Escazú hospital Monday.

The physician is Jaime Ulloa Gil, who said the idea is to
have Rico on his feet again as soon as possible. He inserted screws in the fractured hip, he said. Both the physician and Ms. Chinchilla spoke at length about the mishap. Rico slipped at the home after watching the World Cup soccer match.

Most high elected officials and their kin choose to receive care at either Hospital CIMA or Hospital Clinica Biblica, both private institutions. The exception is Abel Pacheco. He was hospitalized twice during his presidency at Hospital Calderón Guardia, an institution run by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.



Anti-mine marchers begin their hike to Crucita project

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A predominantly student crowd began their march Monday from Casa Presidencial with the goal of having the president overturn a decree that facilitates the operation of an open pit gold mine in northern Costa Rica.

The marchers will end up at the mine in Cutris de San Carlos June 18, according to their schedule. They planned to reach Alajuela late Monday afternoon. The march had been announced.

The initial contingent, estimated at about 100, sported signs protesting the operation of the mine and the use of cyanide to leach gold from crushed rock.

The march is designed to counter what the participants said
was the expensive media campaign conducted by Industrias Infinito Ltda., the Costa Rican subsidiary of a Canadian firm.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez signed the controversial decree that said the Crucitas mining project was in the public interest. The decree allowed the company to begin cutting some trees on the mine site. But legal actions quickly began and the mining development still is frozen.

The mine has been in development for more than eight years.  All permits have been given, although Ms. Chinchilla has said she wants to change the country's mining code to prevent similar operations.

Such a bill will be presented to the Asamblea Legislativa soon, the president and lawmakers agreed Saturday.



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 136

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Rebuilding Haiti progresses
but with some problems


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Six months after Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, leading U.N. aid agencies report progress is being made in caring for the basic needs of survivors.  But, the agencies say long-term recovery and reconstruction will take seven to 10 years. 

The Haitian government estimates more than 220,000 people were killed and 300,000 injured by the quake.  More than two million people were displaced from their homes. 

The United Nations reports six months after the disaster struck, about 1.5 million remain homeless and continue to live in overcrowded squalid camps.  More than half of the inhabitants are children.

The U.N. Children's Fund says it has immunized more than 275,000 children against preventable killer diseases, is providing special nutritional food to more than one-half million children under 5 and lactating women and some 2,000 children with severe acute malnutrition are receiving life-saving therapeutic feeding and care. 

Fund spokesman Jeremy Hartley says children continue to face extreme threats, but the massive humanitarian operation in Haiti has averted even greater catastrophe.

"Children continue to face threats to their safety and survival, but there has not been the malnutrition crisis that we had expected and there was no massive population movement into the Dominican Republic," said Hartley.

The World Health Organization reports health services are available to 90 percent of the internally displaced people in and around the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

It says this constitutes a major shift from before the earthquake struck when only 56 percent of the Haitian population had access to health care.  The World Health Organization says it has succeeded in staving off major outbreaks of communicable diseases.

Despite these and other successes, huge problems exist.  The U.N. Environment Program Haiti manager, Andrew Morton, says the situation in the country was problematic before the earthquake struck and now it is worse.

"We have large-scale garbage problems in the streets, sewage is going to the rivers, the reconstruction and temporary shelters are causing a great deal of accelerated deforestation and the large number of rural displaced, people displaced into the countryside, are also placing pressure on the farms and the resources there," said Morton. "The charcoal economy is, for example, rebounding."

Now that the emergency phase of the operation is over, aid agencies are focusing on long-term reconstruction and recovery.  But, before those efforts get into full swing, the agencies say they are preparing to help Haitians who might suffer damage and losses during the hurricane season.

For example, the World Food Program reports it is placing food in strategic locations around the country.

The United Nations has received 60 percent of the $1.6 billion appeal it launched earlier this year.  In addition, governments have pledged $5 billion in aid.  But, aid agencies say most of those pledges have not yet been met.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 136


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Fidel Castro is interviewed
on Cuban television show


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, was interviewed Monday on Cuban television, making one of his few public appearances since becoming ill four years ago and ceding power to his brother, Raúl.

Castro appeared relaxed, talkative and cogent as he answered questions from a host on the Cuban television current affairs program Mesa Redonda or "Round Table."  During the interview, he spoke about international issues, including those involving the Middle East, Iran and North Korea

This was Castro's second public appearance in less than a week. Saturday, photos were released of the 83-year-old Castro smiling and talking with visitors at a Havana scientific center.  They were reportedly taken last Wednesday.

Since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in 2006, Castro has been seen only in occasional photographs and videos.  Details of his health are considered a state secret. 

The former leader, who came to power in 1959 in the Cuban revolution, remains head of the country's Communist party.  The state-run media continues to publish opinion columns attributed to him.

Electronic recycling
becoming a business


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

With consumers rushing to buy the latest gadgets, the problem of what to do with discarded electronic products is becoming a growing environmental concern.  Although electronic recycling is not yet as popular as paper and plastic recycling, two American college students are betting it can be just as lucrative. 

YouRenew.com buys used electronic gadgets for recycling and, in some cases, for resale. The company was started two and a half years ago by two university students who saw electronic recycling as an environmentally friendly way of making money.

"Today, electronic recycling and reuse rates according to the EPA are still hovering around 10 percent, while it's upwards of 50 percent for papers, plastics, things of that nature," said Bob Casey. "Hopefully, we see those recycling rates really creep up, and I hope that we are on the leading edge of that," said co-founder Bob Casey. He was speaking of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Analysts say the market for electronic recycling is expanding in the United States.  Just two years old, YouRenew.com says business has grown over 200 percent.

As an incentive, the company offers cash for cell phones, smart phones and older laptops. Those that are no longer working go directly to the recycling bin. Others are stripped of data, reprogrammed and sold for a small profit.

Responding to consumer complaints, even Apple has decided to get into the recycling business, offering gift cards or discounts to customers who bring in select used electronics for recycling.





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