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(506) 2223-1327           Published Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 142           Email us
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new moth at 350 pixels
Pensoft Publishers photo
Named after Costa Rica

This is Eucalantica costaricae, a new moth species that bears the country's name. Scientists discovered this and four more species here, according to research that has just been published. They think there are many more unknown species close at hand.

Our story is HERE!

Four students die after car hits group in San Ramón
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday

Four high school students died early Wednesday after a motor vehicle ran into a group of pedestrians in the public right-of-way in the San Rafael section of San Ramón.

Three students died at the scene and one died later in Hospital México,said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The youngsters were in the street participating in what police said was a traditional student serenada or serenade. Two other students were hurt badly, said the Judicial Investigating
Organization. The mishap took place about 4:30 a.m.

The vehicle involved overturned,and the driver fled the scene,said judicial police. The Poder Judicial said that a man identified by the last names of  Chavarría Alvarado surrendered himself later and was hospitalized. Police said he is 25 years old.

Dead at the scene were two young men and a minor girl. They were identified by the last names of Méndez, Solís and Miranda by the judicial police. He was in the  Hospital de San Ramón, and investigators were overseeing a blood test.

no a la huelga
The Caja said on its Web page that 88 percent of its employees said no to the strike.
Unions fail to shut down Caja's public hospitals
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tuesday was a day of protest. In addition to the much publicized strike at the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, other unrelated grievances sparked protests.

Some 80 inmates at the Buen Pastor women's prison in Desamparados protested and burned mattresses because a fellow inmate died, and the unhappy women claimed that the food may have been contaminated. The ill inmate went to Hospital San Juan de Dios Monday and died Tuesday morning. The Ministerio de Salud sent health inspectors to the location.

Rice producers continued protests by blocking the Interamericana Sur and drove at a snail's pace along Ruta 32, effectively blocking traffic for several miles.  Leaders of the Asamblea Nacional de Productores met with Carlos Ricardo Benavides, minister of the Presidencia, during the late afternoon. They promised more protests unless a solution is found to their complains about the price fixed for their product by the economics ministry in February.

A late report said they that had reached agreement with the government to sell their harvest at a slightly better price.

Onion and potato growers in Cartago also were scheduled to stage protests Tuesday.

The headline-grabbing strike was by the unionized employees at the Caja, which runs the hospitals and clinics. Casa Presidencial said that just 11.8 percent of  Caja employees actually went on strike, although there was a march through San Jose's downtown and individuals blocked traffic on the General  Cañas highway. Union leaders disagreed and said participation was much more. They issued
a call for non-Caja unions to join the protest Thursday.

The  Unión Nacional de Empleados de la Caja y la Seguridad Social said support was massive but did not provide any figures.

However, most hospitals appeared to be operating normally. At some, the food service, laundry and pharmacies were out of service. The Caja lamented the fact that many persons with appointments stayed away because of the strike.

The government's argument appeared more persuasive because it was accompanied by a detailed spreadsheet.

The Caja sought to counter the unions' claim that a strike was in defense of the health services agency by saying that working was showing support. That encouragement was followed by an announcement that strikers would lose their pay, something prior government have not enforced.

Ostensibly the strike was about a restructuring of disability pay and other money issues. The unions also demanded that the central government pay the estimated $2 billion it owes as social security payments. However the work stoppage also can be viewed as a preliminary for 2014 general elections by some of the leftist unions and opposition political parties.

Among other developments Monday, the legislature decided to set up a commission to study the causes and those responsible for the condition of the Caja. The agency is deeply in debt and running a huge deficit. However, there are many reports citing mismanagement and excessive spending by the Caja that make clear why the agency is in the financial shape it is. A check of news files shows that the finances of the Caja were a topic 10 years ago.

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Builders express concern
over impact of new taxes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cámara Costarricense de la Construcción said that it estimated that the proposed value-added tax will jack up the price of housing about 11.36 percent. It said this would hurt middle-income families.

The calculations used the proposal for a 14 percent value-added tax and a proposal to double the transfer tax on a home to 3 percent, the chamber said.

Both proposals have been advanced by the Chinchilla administration and are now in the legislature.

The chamber said that the tax proposals contradict directly the stated government housing plan where the goal is to reduce cost and improve the quality and financing for building homes for the lower and middle class.

Chamber President  Ricardo Castro said that construction permits were down 15 percent in May when compared to the same month a year ago.

Home invasion in Heredia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police in Heredia said that bandits were waiting for a family when they arrived at their upscale home Monday night about 11 o'clock. The crooks tied up the family and put them in a small room while they ransacked the home. Then the bandits fled, taking the family's two luxury vehicles with them, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The cars were found abandoned in Alajuela.

Our reader's opinion
He's suspicious of China
and its goals in Costa Rica

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have tried to tell folks that the Chinese are “Communist” for some time.

Arias and Laura are kissing up to the devil’s advocate. When the Chinese get Costa Rica into more massive debt  and when Costa Rica goes into default, they will sue to get their monies, bankrupting Costa Rica thru the world court.

I’m guessing that the Chinese are now looking at another way to get a larger stranglehold on the U.S.A thru Costa Rica’s free trade agreement with the U.S.A. and other countries.

I’m sure as mentioned by Daryl Hardman that their military would have something to do with helping Costa Rica remember its obligation. The U.S.A. is just as stupid when it comes to loans from China. They will and have been destroying the U.S.A.’s shaky economy.

At 70 years old, I’m hoping to be gone when things explode as I think they will. There are just too many strings attached to these two countries. The pied piper will get paid. Just when is my “now” concern. Folks wonder what China could want with a bankrupt U.S.A., maybe raw materials, the oil that the environmentalists are saving for them, coal, iron, farm products and wood. Lots of stuff there for the plucking.

Art Sulenski
San Ramon/Los Angeles Sur

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, Wednesday, July 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 142

Prisma dental

Correos de Costa Rica plans special deliveries for mothers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Mid-July is not too early to be thinking about el Dia de la Madre, a Costa Rican holiday only slightly less in importance than Christmas or Easter.

This year is it on a Monday. It always is Aug.15. The retail outlets, restaurants and flower growers are getting ready.

And now so is the postal service, Correos de Costa Rica. The postal agency has renewed its offer to allow customers to send telegrams to mothers. The service would be in lieu of a greeting card.

Correos has established a 1,000-colon charge for this service, about $2. The blanks can be purchased at postal outlets. There is space for a personalized message.

Correos promises to deliver what they are calling a telegram either the Friday or Saturday before the holiday. The telegrams will be ready for purchase up until Aug.8,  Correos said.

There is, however, one little problem. That is the address. The postal service is seeking when possible a complete address, including the number of the house, the street, the avenue and the postal code. Most Costa Rican addresses are veiled in mystery, and even those living in a home frequently do not know the number, and some even do not know the street.
Mother's day
A reminder from Correos de Costa Rica

So those wanting to send a mother's day telegram will have to do a little research.

The mother occupies the pinnacle of many Costa Rican households, so if she lives nearby, a telegram will be less than adequate. That is why the restaurants, flower shops and retail outlets are getting ready.

Zoo will celebrate 95 years with special events this Sunday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Parque Zoológico Bolívar celebrates its 95th anniversary Sunday, And a lot of events are planned for the facility in Barrio Otoya in north San José.

The Museo de los Niños is participating to provide entertainment, said the Fundación Pro Zoológicos, which has managed the facility for the last 18 years.

In addition to the animals, the park has a number of  plant species with explanatory placards.

The foundation explained that the park had its origins in a biological garden established in the vicinity of the Liceo de Costa Rica near what is now PlazaVíquez.. That was in 1884. There were animals, too, and they made so much
noise that they were moved to the zoo's present location, the foundation said.

It was through an executive decree in 1916 that the zoo got its formal title: Jardín Botánico y Zoológico Nacional Simón Bolíver. The South American freedom fighter was recognized for his efforts to made countries of the Americas independent. July 24, Sunday, is his birthday.

The facility eventually became one of the nation's parks. In addition to being a zoo, the park has an educational and cultural mission and works in conjunction with the Museo Nacional. The foundation also operates the Centro de Conservación in Santa Ana.

The activities start at 9 a.m. Sunday, and there is an admission.

Ministry rescues 300 mostly youngsters stranded in México
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

About 300 Costa Ricans, mostly youngsters, were stranded in México over the weekend when plans for their flight home ran into problems.

The youngsters were from escuelas Nueva Esperanza and Barrio México. They were out of the country to compete in athletic events.

There were two groups. One of about 100 persons was stranded in Cancún. About 200 were in the federal district of México.
The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto here said that the government of México agreed to waive the exit tax, some $70 a person.

The Costa Ricans ran into trouble when they tried to board their charter flight to come home. They found that they had not been issued tickets.

The Costa Rican consulate participated in getting travel arrangements.

One group arrived home early Tuesday. The second group  was supposed to arrive in mid-afternoon, the ministry said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, July 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 142

Costa Rica yields five previously unknown moth species
By Pensoft Publishers

The Eucalantica genus belongs to the relatively primitive micro-moth group, Yponomeutidae. Six new species have been described by Jae-Cheon Sohn from the University of Maryland, College Park, and Kenji Nishida from the Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, and published in the open access taxonomy journal Zookeys.
“Yponomeutid moths are important group in tracing the evolution of plant association in Lepidoptera. In spite of this importance, the family has been neglected by systematists and its biodiversity and phylogeny remain poorly understood” said  Sohn, a doctoral candidate. Previous descriptive works have concentrated on the Holarctic and Australian faunas, the species diversity of yponomeutids from the Neotropics remains significantly underestimated as Eucalantica being a good example, he said.

Eucalantica has been known by only a single Nearctic species. A review of the genus found six new species: E. costaricae, E. ehecatlella, E. icarusella, E. powelli, and E. pumila, all five from Costa Rica and E. vaquero from southern U.S.A. and Mexico. “Our discoveries suggest that a high diversity of Eucalantica occurs in the tropical highlands of Central America and the genus is more diverse and widely distributed than previously thought,” added Nishida.

Moth discovery
Pensoft Publishers photo
This is Eucalantica costaricae, the new species.

The study demonstrates how poor is scientific knowledge on the diversity of life on Earth, said the zoology journal in a release. According to some estimates, less than 20 percent of extant species are known. Thousands of species become extinct every year before they are named,it added. Intensified taxonomic inventories and large-scale conservation measures may improve the situation towards more complete documentation and preservation of the wonderful world of biodiversity, the journal added.

New study rocks boat on treatment of gastric cancer cause
By the University of Michigan news services

Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium known to cause peptic ulcers, is also the primary cause of gastric cancer, which is a leading killer globally, especially in Costa Rica.

A large clinical trial at seven sites across Latin America has now found that a standard three-drug regimen for treating H. pylori is more effective, at least in the population studied, than either of two four-drug regimens that proved superior in studies in Europe and Asia.

“This study turns recent literature a bit on its head,” says study coauthor William D. Chey of the University of Michigan.  “Specifically, virtually all other randomized, controlled trials that have tested the four-drug therapy, either sequentially over 10 days or concomitantly over five days, have found it superior.”

But most of that literature reports on research done in Italy and Taiwan, Chey, a physician, points out.  The new study, published online Tuesday by The Lancet, suggests H. pylori eradication approaches need to be validated locally rather than relying on findings from studies of other populations.  The authors speculate that geographic variations in H. pylori’s resistance to antibiotics might account for part of the discrepancy between populations.

Coordinated by SWOG, one of the National Cancer Institute’s cooperative groups, the study took place at both urban and rural sites in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Researchers randomly assigned 1,463 volunteers infected with H. pylori to one of three treatment regimens, making this the largest trial of its type ever conducted.

One group took a five-day, four-drug regimen, and a second group took these same four drugs but sequentially over a period of 10 days.  A third group took a standard, 14-day course of two antibiotics plus a proton-pump inhibitor.
Six weeks after starting treatment, each participant was tested for H. pylori infection.  

Of those volunteers who took the three-drug, 14-day treatment, 82.2 percent were infection-free.  Only 73.6 percent of the group on the five-day regimen and 76.5 percent of those on the 10-day regimen – the same therapies earlier studies had found superior – had overcome their infection.

The trial was part of an initiative exploring ways to reduce the incidence of gastric cancer.

“The ultimate goal is to advance the discussion about whether we should approach gastric cancer prevention by mass eradication programs for H. pylori,” says lead author E. Robert Greenberg, an epidemiologist with the SWOG Statistical Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.  “There’s lots of thinking that needs to be done and information that needs to be gathered before that decision is made.”

Complicating the gastric cancer prevention picture is a small but controversial body of evidence hinting that H. pylori infection may bring benefits as well as harm, reducing rates of childhood asthma and allergies and lowering rates of esophageal cancer, for example.

No large studies comparing the effectiveness of H. pylori treatment regimens have been conducted in the United States, and a pressing question now is which regimen should be recommended to U.S. doctors treating H. pylori.  “Before this trial I thought I knew the answer to that question,” Chey says.  “Now I’m not so sure.”

Gastric cancer statistics: According to the American Cancer Society, stomach cancer was the fourth most common malignancy in the world in 2008, with an estimated 989,600 new cases and about 738,000 deaths.

Approximately 72 percent of new cases occurred in developing countries.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, July 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 142

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Research gives confirmation
that Allende killed himself

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A scientific investigation in Chile has confirmed that President Salvador Allende committed suicide during the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that brought dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power.

Legal officials made the announcement Tuesday, two months after Allende's body was exhumed in order to settle the lingering question of whether he was killed or took his own life as soldiers stormed the presidential palace.  Experts involved in the probe say Allende shot himself and that there is no evidence anyone else was involved.  Allende's daughter, Sen. Isabel Allende, said the result is a relief because now there is scientific proof to support what the family has always believed.

The exhumation was part of a widespread inquiry into 726 alleged abuses during the rule of Gen. Pinochet, who held power from 1973 until 1990.

Questions arose shortly after the coup about how Allende died.  A physician who was a member of Allende's medical team, Patricio Guijon, said he witnessed the president commit suicide with a rifle given to him by then-Cuban leader Fidel Castro.  Guijon said that by the time Allende killed himself, the palace had been rocked by hours of bombings and machine gunfire.

President Allende was found dead in the palace as soldiers supporting the coup closed in and warplanes bombed the building.  His family was not allowed to see the body, and there was no official investigation at the time of his death.

Pinochet died in 2006 of a heart attack while under investigation for alleged corruption, torture and murder.  His government is blamed for at least 3,000 killings of political opponents, including murders of those who disappeared.

Allende, a Marxist, won a narrow election in 1970, but his ascent to power was not welcomed by conservatives in Chile and the United States who feared that he could lead a pro-Soviet communist government.  Then-U.S. secretary of State Henry Kissinger said the issues of the time were much too important to be left in the hands of Chilean voters, and said he saw no reason that Washington should stand by and let Chile turn Communist.

New Peruvian president
pays Cuban courtesy call

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala has visited Cuba, his last stop on a multi-nation tour ahead of his inauguration July 28.

Humala met Tuesday in Havana with President Raúl Castro and Castro's brother, former president Fidel Castro, for talks on various issues.  The incoming Peruvian leader also spoke by telephone with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who is in Cuba to undergo chemotherapy following surgery there last month to remove a cancerous tumor.

Humala was elected last month in a runoff election.  The leftist former army officer narrowly beat Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori.  Humala has promised to give poor Peruvians a greater share of the Andean nation's considerable mineral wealth and to honor the free market.

Since his election, Humala has traveled to several other countries, including Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico.  He also visited the United States earlier this month, where he met with President Barack Obama.

Humala takes office after two previous unsuccessful attempts.  In 2000, he launched a failed military coup against then-president Fujimori.  In 2006, Humala lost the presidential election to current leader Alan Garcia. 

High country in Chile
digging out after snowfall

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Residents of southern Chile's mountainous Auracania region are digging out after a massive snowstorm dumped about 2 meters of snow in the area, leaving many communities isolated from the rest of the country and without power.  

Emergency crews have been working to clear roadways of snow to allow for transportation in and out of the secluded area.  Some residents also say the situation has left them without cellphone service or radio communication.

Local media reported that the Pino Hachado International pass connecting Araucania to Argentina in the east reopened Tuesday and was the only open connection to that country.  More snow is forecast for the region.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, July 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 142

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Limón dock workers union
takes terminal plan to court

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The  Sindicato de Trabajadores de Japdeva, the dock workers union, has asked a court to order the central government to delay action on plans for a new port facility in Limón.

The union said that it needed the delay while it presents a case before the  Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo. Legal action from the union was expected.

The  Terminal de Contenedores de Moín is the cornerstone of the government's plan to modernize Limón.

The tribunal has the role of reviewing the actions of government agencies. Japdeva is the  Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica, the government agency that runs the ports.

APM Terminals has won a concession and plans to put $1 billion into the area to build a new, modern container facility. The union correctly believes that the new facility will put the old government docks out of business. The union also has turned down a government buyout plan that might have meant six-figure payoffs to some workers, depending on seniority.

The union claims that the terminal firm has not done an environmental impact study and that construction might jeopardize nearby water sources.

Cargo handling in the Moîn docks are generally regarded as some of the world's most inefficient. In addition, the union has a history of going out on strike.

The Cámara Nacional de Bananeros also filed a case against the project because its members fear they will have to pay more to ship containers of bananas.

U.N. wants happiness
added as policy index

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The General Assembly today called on United Nations members to undertake steps that give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Assembly invited countries “to pursue the elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies.”

The resolution said the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal and embodies the spirit of the globally agreed targets known as the Millennium development goals.

Member states also welcomed the offer of Bhutan, which for many years has used gross national happiness rather than gross domestic product as a marker of success, to convene a panel discussion on the theme of happiness and well-being during the Assembly’s next session, which begins in September.

The resolution notes that the gross domestic product indicator “was not designed to and does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people in a country,” and “unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development.”

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