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(506) 2223-1327                      Pubished Wednesday, July 18, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 142                          Email us
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cats eyes
Costa Rica's six forest cat species are getting recognition and maybe protection

For better or worse, YouTube is the new soapbox
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Never before have individuals enjoyed free speech as they do today.

The phenomenon of YouTube makes everyone a video star if they can muster up a bit of technical expertise. This is the 21st century version of a Hyde Park soapbox where persons express their views without censorship.

The popularity of the 7-year-old video service is not without pitfalls for Costa Rica. From Yatsel Domínguez, known as Yako, singing about cheap marijuana and hookers to expats telling their stories of squatters, viewers get highly personalized versions of life here.

Lately, the arrest of environmentalist Paul Watson in Germany on a Costa Rican warrant generated dozens of YouTube videos. Most favored the anti-whaling captain, but several were critical. As a whole, Costa Rica does not come off very well as a land where justice prevails. YouTuba also holds a version of “Sharkwater,” the movie in which Watson participated.

Bruce Werner, a resident of Hatillo on the central Pacific coast, may be among the first to describe his real estate problems on YouTube. He did so first March 7, 2011, in a sequence titled “Costa Rica corruption.” There was no intent to make a balanced report, and Werner gave a chilling description of his problems in trying to hold on to a choice piece of property.

Werner began with a Web page and then turned to video. He and his wife were the subject of news stories in A.M. Costa Rica after bandits invaded their home and threatened them with death in 2009.

Sheldon Haseltine probably has had the most negative impact on Costa Rican real estate. He is the expat who has been fighting in court for 16 years to hang on to valuable central Pacific land against what he characterizes as a conspiracy at the highest levels of Costa Rican society. His seven-minute video has been played around the world.

For every negative video there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of highly positive video sequences promoting life in Costa Rica.

The staff of Laura Chinchilla appears to have
YouTube stars
A.M. Costa Rica montage
 Clockwise from upper left: Girls featured in a
 Yako video, Bruce Werner, Teletubbies coming
 from the General Cañas crater, President
 Chinchilla and Pope Benedict and Dora the

recognized the value of YouTube because there are dozens of sequences of  the president, including one with her and Pope Benedict during her visit to Rome.

The video was made by most likely with permission.

YiouTube has made deals with a number of producers to put full movies in the data base. There also are thousands of short movie and television segments that YouTube viewers posted for various reasons.

Pilar Cisnero, the editorial voice of Teletica is there, including her famous “Bla Bla Bla” editorial where she said there was nothing concrete in the much-touted Laura Chinchilla security proposals. In one video a news presenter reads a Casa Presidencial rebuttal to another editorial by Ms. Cisneros.

Channel 7 Teletica is well represented on YouTube, including a sequence that gives a look at the humorous aspects of the 2010 presidential campaign.

The collapse of the westbound lanes of the General Cañas highway prompted a series of videos. One received just 585 views.  Despite the currency of the hole in the highway, a video of the cartoon character Dora exploring the strip clubs of San José received nearly nine times the number of views.

And that points out the weakness of YouTube.
Videos will draw few viewers unless they are accompanied by some kind of promotion, perhaps emails.

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Ministry says Nicoya visitors
will see new boulevard

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

July 25 is just a week away, and that is the celebration  of the Anexión del Partido de Nicoya. So public officials will be telling Guanacaste residents what they have done for them lately.

The latest is an announcement by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes that more than a kilometer of roadway in the community of Nicoya has been fixed up.  This is the Boulevar San Martín that now has a center island, thanks to a $740,000 expenditure by the ministry.

Some 50 native trees have been planted in the islands, said the ministry.

Traditionally, the central government extolls its work in various communities depending on the holiday. This year, President Laura Chinchilla will be going to Santa Cruz in Guanacaste for the annual cabinet meeting. Then there will also be a celebration in Nicoya.

The mayor of Nicoya is of a different political party, and he has vowed not to attend the celebration.

In 1824 the political leaders of Guanacaste had to decide if their province would become part of Costa Rica or of Nicaragua. They choose Costa Rica, and the ceremonies next week are to show the country's appreciation.

Independence day ceremonies in September usually are held in Cartago, and railway workers are trying to get the valley line finished to that community in time for Ms. Chinchilla to travel there for another cabinet meeting. Cartago was the capital when independence was declared.

Drugs found in container

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In another confiscation of cocaine, anti-drug police said customs agents found 28 packages of the drug in a shipping container on the docks at Moín. They said the packages totaled 88 kilos. The refrigerated container had traveled from Europe to Puerto Rico to Colombia and then to Costa Rica, they said.

Find out what the papers
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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
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Forest cats are getting a lot of exposure and maybe protection
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The six Costa Rican species of forest cats may not know it, but they are getting a lot of exposure and maybe some protection.

The Museos del Banco Central is presenting a discussion of jaguars in the Pacific and northern Caribbean July 26 at the museums. Presenters are Carolina Sáenz and Victor Montalvo, who are members of the conservation organization  Programa Jaguar.

The discussion fits right in with the museum's temporary exhibit that addresses the forest cats in pre-Columbian archaeology. The native peoples feared and venerated the cats, so a lot of the decorations contain feline symbolisms.

Meanwhile, the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía has entered into a five-year agreement with another environmental organization, Panthera, which is conducting research projects to save the jaguar.

The cat has been known to kill pets and livestock, so the organization will be working to try to reduce these incidents and also reduce hunting of the species.

The five-year agreement requires the ministry and Panthera to together investigate the population of cats in protected areas, consolidate biological corridors, support local organizations and monitor the ecology of protected wild areas and biological corridors.
gold cat
Museos del Banco Central photo
 A gold grinning cat is one of the objects on display at the

Costa Rica hosts six of the 37 forest cat species. In addition to the jaguar and the puma, there is the margay, the ocelot, the oncilla or tiger cat and the jaguarundi.

All of the species were represented in objects created here from 300 to 1500 A.D. In addition to many such objects on display in the Museos del Banco Central, there are many others in the Museo de Jade and the Museo Nacional.

Animal group in Jacó warns of danger of ticks to dogs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dog owners in the area should take tick prevention methods for their animal and seek immediate medical attention for pets that are bitten by the parasite, according to  the Asociación Pro Bienestar Animal in Jacó.

Ticks carry ehrlichiosis, a disease that kills 50 percent of the dogs it infects, according to the association.

There is no vaccine to prevent ehrlichiosis, but tick repellant products such as Frontline and Advantiz, along with tick collars which contain Amitraz are good solutions, the association said.

“It’s much more difficult if the dogs are maintained or spend considerable time on farms or in the woods, due to the higher concentration in these areas. In these cases, the dogs have to, in addition to the regular prevention, be checked for ticks every day. One needs to also be aware that in our country the tick responsible for the transmission of ehrlichia usually lives in environments created by humans, so it’s highly recommended to control and fumigate the areas where both people and animals live,” said Katja Bader of the association.

Ehrlichiosis is treatable with the antibiotic doxicicline, but only if caught at the time of the first symptoms and before it spreads to the dog's organs, said the association.  The drug must be taken twice a day for 28 days .  A deviation from this prescription is likely to cause the dog to continue to carry the disease, the organization said.

The most common signs that a dog is infected are lethargy, weight loss, loss of appetite, and anemia, the association said.  Other symptoms can be hemorrhages under the skin or gums, swollen lymph nodes, muscular or joint soreness, nasal discharges or nosebleeds, severe neck or back pain, blood in the urine and eye irritations, it added.

In the chronic form, the dog may appear normal but once it becomes stressed or its immune system goes down, the
dog tick
U.S. Centers for Disease Control
One of several species of ticks that spread disease

disease becomes deadly, according to the association..

The association said that owners are advised to take their dog to a veterinarian and never self-diagnose the disease because a blood test is necessary.

“We know of many cases when the owner diagnosed the disease by himself, often based on some information read on the Internet or the fact that the dog had ticks. These usually end tragically, as in some cases the dogs actually had kidney problems, which if not treated in time, plus with the effect of the strong antibiotics given to the animal over an extended period of time, usually results in the animal’s death,” said Ms. Bader.

The key to saving a dog's life is to not ignore symptoms and to get the animal help as soon as possible, she said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control points out that a tick bite can casue the same disease in a human.

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round turtle
Drawing by Liz Bradford

Drawing shows what the round turtle may have looked like in life. The shell is seen in place with researcher.

Ancient turtle was as round as modern car tire, researchers say
By the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Colombia’s Cerrejon coal mine continue to yield strange creatures.

A reasearch group led by paleontologist Carlos Jaramillo with colleagues at North Carolina State University and the Florida Museum of Natural History have discovered a new species of fossil turtle that lived 60 million years ago in what is now northwestern South America.

The most peculiar feature of this new turtle, Puentemys
mushaisaensis, is its extremely circular shell, the size and shape of a big car tire. Edwin Cadena, a postdoctoral fellow at North Carolina State University and lead author of a report, says that the width of the shell probably exceeded the size of the mouth of the Titanoboa, the giant snake found at the same site.

Its circular shape increased the body area exposed to the sun, helping the cold-blooded reptile warm to a temperature at which it would be more active.

Growing evidence suggests that following the extinction of dinosaurs, tropical reptiles were bigger than they are now.

Mayans at Tikal had a sophisticated system of collecting water
By the  University of Cincinnati news service

Recent excavations, sediment coring and mapping by a multi-university team led by the University of Cincinnati at the pre-Columbian city of Tikal, a paramount urban center of the ancient Maya, have identified new landscaping and engineering feats, including the largest ancient dam built by the Maya of Central America.

That dam – constructed from cut stone, rubble and earth – stretched more than 260 feet in length, stood about 33 feet high and held about 20 million gallons of water in a man-made reservoir.

These findings on ancient Maya water and land-use systems at Tikal, located in northern Guatemala, are scheduled to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in an article titled “Water and Sustainable Land Use at the Ancient Tropical City of Tikal, Guatemala.” The research sheds new light on how the Maya conserved and used their natural resources to support a populous, highly complex society for over 1,500 years despite environmental challenges, including periodic drought.

Starting in 2009, A Unviersity of Cincinnati  team was the first North American group permitted to work at the Tikal site core in more than 40 years.

According to Vernon  Scarborough, “The overall goal of the
UC research is to better understand how the ancient Maya supported a population at Tikal of perhaps 60,000 to 80,000 inhabitants and an estimated population of five million in the overall Maya lowlands by AD 700.” He is an anthropology professor at the university.

He added, “That is a much higher number than is supported by the current environment. So, they managed to sustain a populous, highly complex society for well over 1,500 years in a tropical ecology. Their resource needs were great, but they used only stone-age tools and technology to develop a sophisticated, long-lasting management system in order to thrive.”

Water collection and storage were critical in the environment where rainfall is seasonal and extended droughts not uncommon. And so, the Maya carefully integrated the built environment – expansive plazas, roadways, buildings and canals – into a water-collection and management system. At Tikal, they collected literally all the water that fell onto these paved and/or plastered surfaces and sluiced it into man-made reservoirs. For instance, the city’s plastered plaza and courtyard surfaces and canals were canted in order to direct and retain rainwater runoff into these tanks.

Another discovery by the research team showed that to help purify water as it sluiced into the reservoir tanks via catchment runoff and canals, the Maya employed deliberately positioned sand boxes that served to filter the water as it entered into the reservoirs.

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Midwest U.S. farmers face
serious drought conditions

By the A.M. Costa rica wire services

Record high temperatures and a lack of rainfall are creating the worst drought conditions for U.S. farmers in a generation.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared more than 1000 counties in 26 states natural disaster areas as crops there deteriorate.

In this year's record setting heat under the hot summer sun, McLean County, Illinois, farmer Matt Hughes' crops are wilting.

Each day without rain clouds brings new disappointment and worry for Hughes.

"The crop I planted right now — I have more invested in this crop than any other crop in my life," said Hughes.

Hughes says that's because with commodity prices at all-time highs, so is the cost of seed and fertilizer.

Now, he's watching his potential profits evaporate.

"This is the one year that can make or break a lot of farmers," added Hughes.

Farmers in Illinois, one of the top corn and soybean producing states in the country, are facing the worst drought conditions in decades.

Part of the corn crop in southern Illinois is already beyond salvage, and the problem is spreading, says the Illinois Farm Bureau president, Philip Nelson.

June was one of the driest months on record in many parts of the country, depriving corn stalks of much needed water during pollination.

U.S. Fed chairman calls
economic recovery slow

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the U.S. economic recovery has slowed and it will take a frustratingly long time to cut the unemployment rate.

The head of the U.S. central bank spoke at a congressional hearing Tuesday after reports showed inflation to be relatively mild, while job growth and retail sales were disappointing.

Bernanke said Europe's economy is under significant stress which is spilling over to the rest of the world, including the United States.

He said the U.S. economy could also be hurt if Congress and the president fail to reach agreements on tax and spending issues before the end of this year.  He again urged Congress to cut spending, but at a slow enough pace to avoid hurting growth while the U.S. economy is in a fragile state.

"The most effective way that the Congress could help to support the economy right now would be to work to address the nation's fiscal challenges in a way that takes into account both the need for long-run sustainability and the fragility of the recovery. Doing so earlier rather than later would help reduce uncertainty and boost household and business confidence," he said.

​​In the meantime, Bernanke said the Fed is ready to take further action to bolster growth if needed.

The Fed has already cut interest rates to nearly zero and used a complex process of bond purchases in another effort to stimulate the economy.

Senators also questioned Bernanke about a scandal over the way a critical global interest rate, called the LIBOR, was set.

Barclays bank recently paid a fine of around $450 million to the U.S. and British governments after the bank gave false information to the British official who sets the rate each day. 

It was an effort to make Barclays look stronger than it was during the financial crisis.

Bernanke said Fed officials in New York became aware of allegations during the financial crisis and reported the matter to British regulatory officials.

Chief of London security firm
faces questions in Parliament

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The head of the private firm in charge of security at the London Olympics has said he is sorry and deeply disappointed that his firm has failed in its commitment to provide full security for the Games. Nick Buckles answered questions put to him by members of parliament Tuesday.

Nick Buckles is chief executive officer of the private security firm G4S. Speaking to a Home Affairs Select Committee made up of British Lawmakers, he said, “I was deeply disappointed. I have also gone on record saying I am very embarrassed about the situation as well.”

One member of the committee asked Buckles if the failure to fulfill the contract was a humiliating shambles. Buckles said he could not disagree.

Buckles' firm G4S was contracted to bring in about 10,000 staff to run security at the London Olympics, which begin later this month.

But last week it emerged that the company had not hired enough staff to fill the contract. Under questioning Tuesday, Buckles said he expects his company will be able to supply around 7,000 staff. The British government has already called in an additional 3,500 troops to fill the gap.
Buckles said it became clear on July 3 that the terms of the contract would not be met. He described the contract, which was signed in December, as complex.

“To get 10,000 people on the ground in a relatively short period of time has been a huge logistical challenge," said Buckles. "We didn't know that the contract was not going to perform until very late on, purely because the whole process is very back-ended in terms of getting everybody ready for the Games.”

He said G4S regretted having signed the contract but now had to get on and deliver it.

Alongside the extra military support brought in by the government, hundreds of police were deployed at Olympic venues across Britain on Monday, reportedly because G4S staff failed to arrive for work.

Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, closed Tuesday’s questioning.

“I have to say I asked the members of the committee to sum up your performance and the performance of the company so far, and they have used these terms: unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish," he said. "Though the committee is most grateful to you for coming in, we feel that those words best express our deep concern about the way in which this matter has been handled.”

Shares in G4S have dived since news of the staff shortfall emerged, losing around $1 billion in market value.
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Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica graphic
Map shows the estimated epicenters of the four quakes.

Four quakes take place
within four hours

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two quakes described as moderate took place at 9:15 p.m. and at 9:48 p.m. Tuesday. Then early today there were two more. All four quakes took place within four hours.

The first quake Tuesday took place about 8.2 kilometers (5 miles) west of  Bahia Ballena in the canton of Osa on the central Pacific, said the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica at the Universidad de Costa Rica. The magnitude was estimated at 3.8.

The second Tuesday quake was located about 5.3 kilometers (3.3 miles) southeast of Solanía at Libano, Tilarán, said the Laboratorio. The magnitude also was estimated at 3.8.

At 32 minutes after midnight today a 3.8 quake took place about 9.2 kilometers (5.7 miles) north northeast of Pavon de Golfito, said the Laboratorio. There were several aftershocks, said the Laboratorio.

At 46 minutes after midnight there was a second quake in the vicinity of Solania de Libano, Tilaran. This one was estimated to be about 7.1 kilometers (4.4 miles) south southeast. The magnitude was estimated at 3.3.

Caja says many patients
 fail to pick up medicines

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's health provider said that patients fail to pickup about 8 percent of the medicines that they have sought. The total is about 72,000 a month, said the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

Patients usually have three working days to pick up the medicine that they have sought. Usually the medicine is free under the nation's health system. However, there frequently are extensive waits.

The Caja notes that staff time is wasted filling the prescriptions that will not be picked up as well as time in putting the medicines back into the inventory.

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