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(506) 2223-1327       Published Friday, July 24, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 145       E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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Lawmakers finally give immigration bill initial OK
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislativa passed on first read Thursday afternoon the new immigration law that had been languishing in various committees for three years.

The bill still needs one more vote on a non-consecutive day. That probably will come Monday.  There was no opposition, and 39 lawmakers voted for the bill. The major political parties had agreed not to seek any more amendments.

Although expats are interested in the qualifications for residency, the bill goes much farther and criminalizes trafficking in persons, seeks to make less political the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, creates a commission to oversee the issuance of visas and gives more power to the Policía de Migración.

The measure was pushed by Casa Presidencial to replace a law passed in the final months of the Abel Pacheco administration. President Óscar Arias Sánchez and his staff thought that the Pacheco law was too draconian, and several social organizations, including elements of the Roman Catholic Church, thought that the law criminalized their activities among illegal immigrants.

Officials called together representatives from a number of interest groups and social organizations to consider a new immigration law. For some reason, North American and European expats were not included, and higher financial requirements for pensionados and rentistas got into the initial bill. Expats complained, and now the financial requirements are $1,000 a month for pensionados and $2,500 a month for rentistas, with both amounts covering close family members.

That is an improvement over the Pacheco bill and the new bill when it was introduced.

The current requirements are for pensionados to have a $600-a-month income and for rentistas an income of $1,000 a month.

Initially the Arias administration proposed requiring pensionados to show a $2,000 a month income and rentistas to show they had a $5,000 a month income from sources outside Costa Rica. The original bill also said that existing pensionados and rentistas would have to meet the new financial requirements when they renewed their status. The final version eliminated this ex post facto requirement.

The new law, which if passed in the second vote will take effect six months after publication, also requires all foreign residents to become members of the Caja Costarricence de Seguro Social.  The
administration said that the goal of the bill would be to integrate persons who come here into Costa Rican life. That meant the flood of immigrations from other Latin countries, including Nicaragua.

The bill has had a long legislative history. The measure went through a complete rewrite half way through the committee process. Then it was scheduled for a vote of the full legislature in May but wrangling over some points resulted in the measure being referred to the Sala IV constitutional court for a review. The court found some inconsistencies in the bill when compared to existing legislation, so the bill went back to committee. The committee, the Comisión Permanente de Gobierno y Administración, tweaked some parts of the bill and reported it out to the full legislature in the last days of June.

The immigration bill is part of the citizen security package that the Arias administration sent to lawmakers.

The pending bill provides a prison term of from two to six years for those who help illegal individuals enter the country, evade immigration controls or use falsified documents. That brings Costa Rica into conformity with international agreements on trafficking.

The new law also will require operators of hotels and other places of public lodging to maintain a register of who is staying there.

The law allows expats and other would-be residents to complete the paperwork for their application within Costa Rica instead of having to return to their country of origin.

The newly enhanced immigration police will be Fuerza Pública officers with all the required training, but they will report to the immigration director and not to the minister of security as do other Fuerza Pública officers.

The bill also authorized the nation's president and the immigration director to issue decrees to legalize foreigners who may be in the country illegally. This clause opens the door to a general amnesty for illegal aliens, however the final decision is left up to the president. Costa Rica had an amnesty in the 1990s that allowed a number of foreigners, mostly Nicaraguans, to obtain residency. Some expats took advantage of that policy, too.

The finer points of the immigration law will not be known fully until a certified copy is published in the La Gaceta official newspaper. Lawmakers themselves frequently are confused by conflicting amendments and changes. Arias is certain to sign the measure when it reaches his desk. Then the document goes off to the La Gaceta.

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Ticos lose a heartbreaker
in final shootout with México

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican national soccer team lost a heartbreaker Thursday night in Chicago in a game that came down to penalty kicks. The game was a Gold Cup semi-final.

The Ticos and their opponent, México, battled to a 1-1 draw at the end of regular play. The game was one of endurance. Costa Rica seemed to have more shots on goal, but by 43 minutes into the second half neither team had scored.  Then México's Guillermo Franco, dribbled in a shot after a melee in front of the Costa Rican goal. The crowd of 55,000, mostly supporters of México, went wild.

The mood changed a minute later when Froylan Ledezma outran defenders and put a shot into the Mexican net past  Guillermo Ochoa. A cheer went up all over Costa Rica.

A few minutes later the same Ledezma became the goat instead of the hero when Ochoa blocked his penalty kick. México was successful in putting all five of their kicks into the net during the tie-breaking session.

The United States defeated Honduras 2-0 just two hours earlier on the same field. So the U.S. Team will meet México for the Gold Cup final Sunday in Giant Stadium in New York.

Arias and his cabinet going
on Nicoya annexation trip

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Saturday is the celebration of the Annexation of Nicoya that gave Costa Rica the province of Guanacaste.

The 1824 decision by Nicoya politicians is commemorated every year when the president at the time and his cabinet hold a meeting in the Guanacaste town.

This year, as is traditional, President Óscar Arias Sánchez will be going to Guanacaste. He has plans to inaugurate a rural water line in Maquenco, deliver homes to families in Caimital and inaugurate bridges over the Río Perico and the  Río Grande before the 11a.m. meeting of his cabinet, the Consejo de Gobierno.  This will be the last visit as president by Arias to Nicoya. His term ends in May.

The afternoon will see the inauguration of two more housing projects and a roadway.

The meeting in the Parque de Nicoya is open to the public.

Exports post 14.2% decline
in first six months of 2009

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country has seen a 14.2 percent decline in exports during the first six months of the year compared to 2008, said the Promotora del Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica, known as PROCOMER. That's a decrease of $706 million, the organization said.

Combined exports were $4.3 billion during the first six months, the organization estimated. Banana exports declined 12.1 percent and coffee was down 23.5 percent, the organization reported. Total agricultural exports were $1.1 billion, it said. Pineapple exports suffered less than a 1 percent decline.

The United States market was down $294 million or about 16 percent, said the organization. Exports to the European Union were down 5.3 percent. Central American exports showed an 18.4 percent dip.

Felipe Calderón will make
official visit to Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa will be visiting Costa Rica next Wednesday and Thursday to participate in the XI Cumbre del Mecanismo de Diálogo y Concertación de Tuxtla and then to make an official visit to San José, said Casa Presidencial. Among the topics of his visit are swine flu and more trade, officials said.

The Mecanismo de Tuxtla, created in 1991, is a way of implementing the Plan Puebla-Panama. This year representatives of the government of Colombia have been invited. The governments of the Central American states will be represented, but it is unclear how the organization will handle the political crisis in Honduras where the interim government is unwelcome in most diplomatic circles.

The gathering this year is a Pacific beach resort in Guanacaste. At the end of the session Calderón will travel to San José for a half-day meeting with President Óscar Arias Sánchez and an early afternoon lunch.

The embattled Calderón is fighting a parallel government in his country of violent drug traffickers.

Health ministry confirms
evictions in Manuel Antonio

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The health ministry said that more than 50 vendors' locations and four restaurants have been cleared from the beaches of Manuel Antonio during a sweep that has been planned for months. The evictions and demolitions are based on the maritime zone law that restricts the use of land within 200 meters of the ocean.

The ministry said that a number of inspectors have been working in the area since February and have issued more than 70 sanitary orders, mostly for the handling of waste water and trash and the state of kitchens. Police and officials from the Municipalidad de Aguirre made the evictions July 13.

Four men dressed as police
held after lumber robbery

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four robbers put on police uniforms to stick up a tractor trailer loaded with lumber Wednesday morning some 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of San Isidro de El General at  Cajón de Pérez Zeledón, the Poder Judicial said.

Four suspects were identified by the last names of Beita Quiel, Nuñez Solis, Castro Mejía and Ramirez Monge. A judge ordered them held for six months investigation each.

Our readers' opinions
What about all the trash
thrown all over the beaches?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

For Heaven’s Sake, Pick-up your Trash!

I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing or what, but the amount of trash on roads, on the beach and in the ocean in Costa Rica is incredible.

I live in the south on the ocean and whenever there is a holiday period the town swells with locals who proceed to enjoy the day at the beach and then leave all manner of things behind when they leave . . . and everywhere!

The one road into and out of town is covered with almost one of every inorganic item available to mankind. It’s as though people just don’t care about destroying the natural beauty of a place. As though mountains of trash on the roads and the ocean is the same thing as no mountains of trash on the roads and the ocean. And, I live on a blue flag beach!

I can’t even fathom what a non-blue flag beach is like. I’ve asked local people why they have no respect for public places in regards to refuse, and they usually reply that they pay tax to the government to take care of such things.

In general, it’s the local Gringos in my area who organize beach clean-ups and pick-up trash from the road and try to make a difference, and yet nobody else catches on to the fact that it is nicer to live someplace without trash then a dump?

Now, before there are comments of ‘go home if you don’t like it,’ ‘this isn’t your country so you are not allowed to say anything’ start flowing, I’d like to say that I’m not leaving, I prefer it here, I do things in my local environment to make it better, and I’m making this comment because I actually do care and would like to invite others to try and make a difference.
Javier Sembrano
Southern Pacific

How about the big crimes?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

We are so happy to hear that the Judicial Investigating Organization can find the time to bust small time pot sellers. Guess that helps make up for the cocaine stolen from the courthouse in Golfito. As well as all the unsolved violent crimes committed against individuals.   
M Jackson

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 145

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No more flu breaks planned as school resumes this Monday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The health ministry has declined to order another week of vacation as a flu-fighting measure and reminded the nation Thursday that school resumes Monday.

María Luisa Ávila Agüero, the health minster, said that the decision was made after an evaluation of cases of swine flu among school-aged individuals. She said the number was no more than would be expected. She also said that the seriousness of the infections have been less among youngsters than among other groups. In the last few weeks only 82 persons younger than 19 have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, she said.

In contract, the health ministry announced three more deaths from the flu, bringing the total to 16. One victim was an ailing 75-year-old man. Another was a 28-year-old man with one lung due to earlier problems. Both contracted pneumonia, the health minister said.

The third victim was a 24-year-old drug addict and an undocumented Nicaraguan immigrant, she said.

Health officials prolonged the public school vacation for a week and ordered private schools to do the same. The health minister was empowered by a presidential decree
issued at the start of the flu epidemic.

The minister of Educación Pública, Leonardo Garnier, said he agreed with the decision.

Both ministers urged schools to apply methods of control to reduce the risk of students catching the swine flu. They urged school officials to instruct parents to avoid sending ailing children to class and to make sure their children avoid large gatherings of people.

Dr. Ávila already has suspended the pilgrimage to Cartago that was scheduled for the end of the month and the first two days of August. Usually about 2 million persons participate, but not this year.

The ministers also said that parents should make sure that their children follow the health measures that were adopted before the three-week vacation. That includes hand washing and attention to sneezes and coughs.

The ministers said that school officials should make sure that those who have flu symptoms do not remain in the facility. Local school officials were ordered to disinfect school desks and other equipment with alcohol or water containing three drops per liter of laundry-grade sodium hypochlorite bleach.

It all started with a tiny, dark and musty cell in San Pedro
In August I will have been in Costa Rica 17 years.  I am comfortably settled in a spacious, light-filled apartment, have a circle of friends I love, and a weekly column I love doing.  I have a computer and Internet to keep in touch with my friends and family elsewhere.  I even have a cell phone.  It didn’t start that way.

Before coming to Costa Rica I had made arrangements for Spanish classes and a homestay in San Pedro.  Recently I came across one of my first letters to a friend in the U.S. — a letter in longhand. dated Aug. 22, 1992.  It begins:

I took out my word processor, but after starting, realized I would have to unpack and connect the printer, and it is just not worth it.  Oh, for my little red Italian portable! 

My adventure began when I was eventually picked up at the airport by two men in a very small car. We drove for what seemed hours, up and up to where the houses were so modest as to be shy. We stopped in front of an open garage containing a  tattered Happy 50th Anniversary sign and an elderly couple.   The latter greeted me and led us upstairs to the house. They showed me to my room — a tiny, dark and musty cell.  The one window opened into the living room, which looked like an add-on over the garage. Since I could see into the living room through the drapes, I assumed I could be seen. 

My meals are put on the dining room table where I eat alone while the couple eats in the kitchen. I feel like the family cat. Lenore, the wife, is a terrible cook.  I probably could handle it except for the dirt and the cockroaches.  Roaches are underfoot in the bathroom, in the refrigerator, and in my bedroom. 

My classes are a disappointment, too.  My classmate, a Fullbrighter from Penn State manages to monopolize the class.  Bill is a tall, pale, slender nondescript man with pointed features who could be English.  If he were, he would be classified as a total twit. He takes up all the oxygen in our class of two. (I keep getting transferred to whatever advanced class has a pupil, and we are always learning the subjunctive.  I cannot tell anyone what I did yesterday, but I can say what I wish would happen tomorrow.) I timed our last class. Bill talked two hours and 50 minutes. The professor and I shared the  remaining 40 minutes.

I am secretly looking for an apartment. There is one in Bill’s building, but he keeps putting off giving me the number of his landlady.  He did show me his apartment, and I found it adorable.  He knows how desperate I am,
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

how many hours I have walked and buses I have taken, looking at tiny, dark, inhospitable apartments.

When I finally get the number, the public phone has a line of people, and at the house Claudio, the husband, is on the phone. When he hangs up and I call, the line is busy and then there is no answer. A baby roach is trying to make its way across my bed.  My fantasy as I try to sleep has me losing the apartment by one day and screaming at Bill as I dive for his skinny neck, throw him down and stomp all life out of him.

The next morning in class when the teacher pleasantly asks me, ¿Como amaneció, Josephine?  (How did you awaken? – a typical morning greeting here.)  I reply, “I am so tired of
sleeping with roaches.” And burst into tears.  Copious, awful, embarrassing tears.  I want to put my head down on the table and sob for two days.

Bill, of course, is embarrassed no end.  Marta, our professor, goes to get me a glass of water — to rehydrate me, no doubt. 
As I mop and blow, a truth hits me.  Hombres luchan, mujeres lloran. (Men fight, women cry.) I am really more angry with Bill and the subjunctive than I am with those mindless roaches. 

But the tears bring results.  Marvin, the program director, assures me I will soon be “muy feliz” and drives me to my homestay, helps me put all my barely unpacked suitcases in his car and drives me to another host family.

I am now in San Francisco de dos Rios, in my second floor room, twice as large as the other, with a big window looking at the sky and my own very clean bathroom.  My new landlady is a wonderful cook.  I didn’t get the apartment that will be available Sept. 2, but have put a deposit on one that will be free on the 16th.  Bill has left Costa Rica, and I am still here.

Love, Jo

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 145

Ousted Zelaya says he is headed back to his Honduras
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Once again José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the deposed president of Honduras, has said he will return.

Zelaya took steps in that direction Thursday when he moved his government in exile from Managua, Nicaragua, to the town of Estelí, which is closer to the Honduran border and at least three access points. An aide also said that Zelaya had ordered the use of an airplane and a helicopter.

He tried to return July 5, a week after the military exiled him in his pajamas to Costa Rica June 28, but the interim government had the runways blocked at the main airport in the capital Tegucigalpa.

Zelaya called on the Honduran military to put down their weapons because he was returning unarmed and with an international delegation. He said he would blame the military chief of staff, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, if anything happened to him. In Tegucigalpa, the daily newspaper La Prensa reported that a military spokesman said that Vásquez and other soldiers had no responsibility for Zelaya's safety.

Eden Pastore, the former chief of the southern Nicaraguan contras in his country's civil war and a sometimes politician, was accompanying Zelaya. So were Venezuelan officials and some members of his ousted administration.

In Honduras Thursday, Zelaya supporters blocked traffic. La Prensa said that soldiers were checking each vehicle throughly at the Las Manos border crossing, which is one of the possible land entry points for Zelaya. The newspaper said that Zelaya supports had been turned back when they tried to approach the border.

La Prensa said that schools would be closed in Honduras today in anticipation of social unrest cased by the return of Zelaya. Many of his supporters are said to be moving to the border to welcome him.
Costa Rica figures in the dispute because President Óscar Arias Sánchez was trying to bring both sides of the conflict to an agreement. Arias said his goal was to maintain the peace and prevent bloodshed. One person died in a crowd of Zelaya supporters that had assembled at the airport there July 5.

Wednesday representatives in San José of interim President Roberto Micheletti said they would study the agreement Arias dubbed the San José accord. That statement appeared to be stalling because Micheletti has said he never would let Zelaya return as president. The main goal of the Arias accord is to reinstate Zelaya.

Representatives of Zelaya said that negotiations had failed due to the intransigency of the other side.

The interim government is under intense international pressure to accept a deal that would allow Zelaya to return to power.  The political deadlock has sparked demonstrations on both sides of the divide.

The caretaker administration previously rejected a seven-point Arias proposal that would have allowed Zelaya's return in a unity government. The interim leaders say Zelaya illegally tried to change the constitution to extend his term and has threatened to arrest him if he returns home.

No country has formally recognized the caretaker government, and many nations have been demanding Zelaya's reinstatement.

Presidential elections are scheduled for November in Honduras. Arias wants to move the voting up to sometime in October.

The coup has some support in the United States because Zelaya has established a strong working relationship with Cuba, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega. Some U.S. Officials are torn between supporting democracy and supporting Zelaya's socialist tendencies.

Police agencies make surprise visit to pawn shop district
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police from five agencies homed in on the pawn shop district of San José Thursday, and made some arrests and encountered some drugs. The area is about a block north of Parque La Merced not far from where Paseo Colón becomes Avenida 2.

There is little regulation of the pawn shops as far as merchandise goes, but police officials said they were checking the permits of the stores. There are a half dozen and one that could only be characterized as a pawn shop condo, the El Aguilar building with some 20 shops in its two stories. The third floor is a warehouse for other pawn shops.

This is the area where a crook goes when he or she grabs a cell phone or a tourist's camera. Some pawn shops have
displays of name brand cameras that usually can only be seen outside a major U.S. camera store. Honest citizens who live close to the edge financially also use the pawn shops, which are known for their high fees.

Nevertheless, the merchants are not selling items cheaply. They have paid 5 percent of the value of the item, but to sell it, most want 120 percent.

Involved in the sweep Thursday were the Fuerza Pública, the Policía Municipal, the Judicial Investigating Organization, the Policía de Turismo and the Policía Fiscal, the tax police.

As police entered the sprawling El Aguilar building, a number of merchants began closing up shop so they would not have to talk with them, officers said. Among the stores surveyed were La Cueva and Prestamas.

Hearings begun on proposal to cut the rate for electricity
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The agency that sets utility rates began hearings Thursday on a proposal to decrease the price of electricity.

The Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos proposes cuts of some 10 to 14 percent in the utility rates. They seek to reduce charges by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, the Heredia and Cartago municipal utility services and four cooperatives.

Representatives of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad showed up to oppose the reduction. The Asociatión Costarricense de Grandes Consumidores de Energía was there to support the reduction as was the
Cámera de Industrias. There also were at least 15 private firms and the government's coffee institute in favor of the cuts. All are big energy users.

The regulating authority argues that the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, did not have to burn a lot of petroleum fuel this year for thermal generators and consumers should get a rebate.

Additional hearings are planned for today in Bribri de Limón, San Marcos de Tarrazú and the Liceo de Alfaro Ruíz, at 5 p.m. Speakers from the public are limited to 15 minutes each.

Thursday's hearing was by video conference from other regional offices of the authority.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 145

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U.S. image overseas better
now that Obama is president

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Much of the world has come to see the United States more favorably under President Barack Obama, according to a survey of 24 nations released in Washington. The marked improvement in America's image does not extend to the Muslim world, where negative views of the United States persist.

The poll documents a revival of America's image, according to Andrew Kohut, who heads the Global Attitudes Project of the Pew Research Center.

"In many countries, opinions of the United States are now about as positive as they were at the beginning of the decade before President Bush took office," said Andrew Kohut.

With a total of 26,000 respondents worldwide, the poll found the biggest boost in U.S. favorability ratings in Europe. In France, for instance, 75 percent view the United States favorably compared to 42 percent a year ago. Double-digit gains were also recorded in Mexico, Brazil, India, and China. In fact, of 24 nations polled, only in Israel did views of the United States sour. Israel was also the only nation to see a drop in the percentage of respondents who said the United States will "do the right thing in world affairs."

President Barack Obama gets high marks compared to his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Sime 86 percent of Britons express confidence in Obama, compared to 16 percent last year for Bush. In Canada and Japan, Obama scores 60 percent higher than his predecessor. The difference is 54 percent in Argentina, 51 percent in South Korea, and 33 percent in Nigeria.

The numbers are less impressive for the United States in the Muslim world. Some 27 percent of Egyptians have a favorable view of the United States today, up just five points from a year ago. In Pakistan, 16 percent rate America favorably, a number that has remained relatively constant for the last three years. Among majority-Muslim nations, only in Indonesia have views of the United States improved significantly, likely due to the fact that Obama spent part of his childhood in Jakarta.

Kohut does point to one accomplishment in the Muslim world: "One of the most significant things in terms of Muslim attitudes is that, for the first time, we see more confidence in the American president than in Osama bin Laden," he said.

America's improved global image combined with President Obama's popularity on the world stage will pay dividends for the United States, according to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, co-chairperson of the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

"How to fight terrorism, nuclear proliferation — those kinds of issues that cannot be dealt with by one country alone — having a president who is viewed as somebody who wants to use multilateral tools, wants to reach out, is very important," said Ms. Albright.

But another co-chairman, former Republican senator John Danforth, says President Obama's popularity and America's boosted image have not yielded results in terms of additional NATO troop commitments to Afghanistan or other nations accepting prisoners from the U.S. detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"It is nice to be popular," said Danforth. "You would rather have people cheer you than throw eggs at you. The president is being heard, he is telling people what they want to hear. He is apologizing. He is saying that we will get out of Iraq and close down Guantanamo. But when he does ask for something, I do not see that he gets anything."

The Pew poll was conducted in May and June, and has been done on a yearly basis since 2002.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 145

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U.S. economic situation
gets a positive boost

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The benchmark Dow Jones industrial average of the top U.S. companies broke the 9,000 point mark Thursday on strong earnings reports and an improving housing picture.

Wall Street extended its recent gains Thursday after a new housing report showed sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose at an annual pace of 3.6 percent in June. It was the third straight month of rising home sales.

"The markets are reacting to the news today in the context of other things they've been seeing and reading in recent weeks, and that's that the economy does appear to have hit a bottom," said David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities.

Investors reacted positively to earnings reports from Ford, Ebay, AT&T and higher sales of Apple's new iPhone. Resler said the positive earnings give a much needed confidence boost for the struggling U.S. Economy, adding: "I think that we're near an important turning point in this economic cycle and things are looking up from here."

The Ford Motor Co. posted a $2.3 billion profit in the second quarter and says it expects to break even in 2011. The automaker is doing better than rivals General Motors and Chrysler mainly due to its debt restructuring. Ebay's profit picture also shows consumers may be ready to shop online again.

Shop fire complicates
morning autopista traffic

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A morning fire in a mechanics shop resulted in a massive tie-up for morning commuters Thursday.

The blaze was near the Juan Pablo II bridge in La Uruca. This is near key intersections including a main route from Heredia. Some motorists were trapped in traffic for nearly two hours.

A store of oil in the shop poured out into the Autopista General Cañas highway further complicating the job of firemen and further disrupting traffic. One motorcycle driver skidded and fell off his vehicle because of the slippery substance. Eventually firemen covered the spill with absorptive material and sand.

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