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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Friday, July 27, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 149                          Email us
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Mr. Knapp in bite suit
Photos by Latigo K9
Our reporters will do anything for a story, including donning the bite suit and challenging big dogs with big teeth. But it is all for the training of protection dogs, the product of one
of the country's successful small businesses based in the Pacific beach community of Nosara. Aaron Knapp's story is


Film festival stressing peace opens today in San José
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud and the Centro Costarricense de Produción Cinematográfica present 80 films from around the world during the 2012 international film festival beginning today.

The theme “Paz con la Tierra” invites participants to view audiovisual, cinematographic and video works with story lines that encourage respect for diversity and peaceful coexistence among human beings, plants and animals.

“This festival wishes to reaffirm the human dignity, promoting respect for life and contributing to the formation of a critical spirit that strengthens the collective consciousness. In that regard, the festival poses a challenge to those works of film and video that promote violence as mass entertainment in its various forms, including abuse of nature and the disrespect to all forms of life,” said organizers.

The film festival had been going on for 18 years.  It was usually held in November, but the ministry decided this year to change the date in the effort to bridge together the Costa Rican festival with other Latin American film festivals such as the International Film Festival in Guadalajara, México, the Icarus Film Festival in Central America, Guatemala, as well as the Festival International of the new Latin American cinema, Havana, Cuba, and the International Film Festival of Panamá.
Mexico will be honored during the festival for being the starting point of Latin American movies more than 100 years ago.

“Our guest of honor is Mexico, whose film has been starting point and reference for the creation and evolution of the Latin American and world cinema over more than one century. A sample of films in that country, proposed as a whole by the International Film Festival of Guadalajara, the Mexican Institute of cinematography will be scheduled as a tribute to this cinematographic heritage,” said the ministry.

Costa Rica has 22 different documentaries, video clips and short fiction firms.  The first will be the animation “Inalcanzable.”  The United States has eight different films that include Harry Belafonte's “Sing Your Song,” “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey” and “Restrepo,” a story about men in Afghanistan.

This festival runs to Aug. 4 at the refurbished old customs house, the Antigua Aduana in east San José.  Other showings will be at the Magaly and Variedades movie theaters, teatros National and Melico Salazar, National Auditorium and the Mercado Central of San José.

There will also be performing arts and music workshops, visual arts exhibitions, talks, forums and conferences to promote active participation and artistic and intellectual exchange, organizers said.

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Sea Shepherd confirms
Japanese want Watson, too

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says that Paul Watson's lawyers in Germany have confirmed that Japan also has filed an extradition request with the foreign office there.

That request was made July 19, the organization said, and followed a request from Costa Rica, where prosecutors want to bring him to trial on a 2002 incident.

“The Japanese Government is again stopping at nothing in their quest to bring an end to Captain Paul Watson’s efforts to cease their illegal whaling activities,” said Sea Shepherd. Watson and his associates harass the Japanese whaling fleet and have caused the crews to shorten their seasons in the Southern Ocean.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had concerns that Watson's life would be in danger or he would be extradited to Japan, the organization said in a release. The organization quoted Watson's lead German lawyer:

“I received confirmation today from Germany’s general public prosecutor that Japan filed an extradition request against Paul Watson on July 19th,” said Oliver Wallasch, the lawyer. “Germany was proceeding with Captain Watson’s extradition to Costa Rica and, once there, there is no doubt he would have been delivered into Japanese custody,” said Susan Hartland, administrative director for Sea Shepherd.  “Upon being extradited to Japan, he would not have received a fair trial and would never have seen the outside of a prison again,” she added.

Watson had been detained in Germany for 70 days before he fled the country. Sea Shepherd orchestrated a worldwide campaign to encourage the German officials to ignore the Costa Rican request.

Watson is facing trial here over the claims by shark fishermen that their boat, the  “Varadero I,” suffered damages and crew members suffered injuries in a 2002 run-in with Watson and the much larger “Ocean Warrior.”

The seagoing encounter with the  “Varadero I”  was filmed and became part of the movie “Sharkwater,” The video appears to contradict the claims of the crew that the vessel suffered damage and crew members were injured. The encounter happened in Guatemalan waters, and Watson said his crew was trying to bring illegal shark finners into custody in that country.


Our reader's opinion
Paul Watson is afraid
to stand up for his cause


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Once again the most notorious pirate of our times has jumped bail! Paul Watson fearing that if extradited by Germany to Costa Rica, he might then have Costa Rica petitioned by Japan to be extradited there. He has made a career by harassing the whaling fleets of Japan and selling the tapes of these exploits to TV channels worldwide. This is a classic example of the ends not justifying the means.

I deplore Japan's whaling industry and practice, however,  Mr. Watson and his band of merry men and women are breaking International laws in their efforts to stop whale hunting. Now he has become a fugitive from Germany skipping bail. He is a coward. If you believe in your cause more than your bank account, Mr. Watson, appear in Costa Rica. A trial would give you a platform to spew your beliefs.

But I think you are afraid of going to prison more than you are dedicated to your cause. Reporters constantly go to jail to protect their sources. Man up, Paul Watson. Come back to Costa Rica and face up to the charges. You will receive a tremendous amount of worldwide press coverage which will help your cause. I think you are afraid.
Patrick Mach
St Augustine Florida / La Uruca, Costa Rica

 
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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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Brandon Richardson charges up a ramp with 4-month-old Tigre, who is experiencing something new in his young life. Richardson believes in early training.

obstacle course
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp

Breeding and training are meant for that moment of danger
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sweating profusely, I waddled across a field in the afternoon sun. Weighed down by an extremely thick set of Kevlar-like pants and jacket made me almost impervious to any type of sharp object.

About 10 yards away was a small, young but fully-grown Dutch shepherd, a type of working dog similar to a German shepherd. She barked at me but obeyed the restraints of her handler.

I took a position with my knees bent and feet spread apart. My right arm was covered by a massive glove. My arm was bent at the elbow as if it were holding a shield with which I could deflect the dog.

“Come on!” I shouted at the dog, Chili, in the most aggressive and threatening voice I could muster.

The handler let go of the leash, and she bounded towards me. She crossed the distance in seconds that seemed pass in slow motion.

Chili leaped up at the last second with her jaws open and firmly closed them on my arm, where I felt an uncomfortable pressure despite the protective clothing.

She kept her jaws firmly clenched on my arm, even as I
reporter in bite suit
Author in bite suit
swung her back and forth with my arm as I lifted her off the ground and even attempted to pry her off with my other arm. All the while my jacket was beginning to come undone.

Although nervous that I might fall and expose my uncovered face and neck or that the coat would fall off, I smiled as I struggled with Chili, enjoying the flood of adrenaline.

After about 30 seconds, the handlers pulled Chili off to give me a short break before the next round.

“This will work better if you stop smiling,” said Brandon
Richardson, who was photographing my bout with the dog.

Richardson, who proposed that I try the bite suit, owns a company called Latigo K9, which breeds, trains and sells personal protection dogs  in Nosara, Guanacaste.

Richardson insisted that wearing the bite suit is essential to understanding dog training, and he described how his first experience in a bite suit was what made him decide to stop training dogs as a hobby and start doing it as a profession.

“Once I did that, I just fell in love with it. It's the funnest thing ever,” he said. “One, it's a great adrenaline rush, and two, you're interacting with a dog and an animal in a way that you never have before.”

Founded by Richardson four years ago, Latigo K9 trains Belgian Malinois and Dutch shepherds to become personal protection dogs for families and individuals.

The training process harnesses three parts of the genetic disposition of dogs that were bred for shepherding and housework over hundreds of years, according to Richardson: a strong sense of loyalty to an owner, a drive to perform some sort of active task and a need for praise from an owner after a job well-done.

The process starts when a puppy is two months old and can last up to two years.  Fully trained, the dogs are sold for an average price of about $10,000, but Richardson says that the final product is very different and of a much higher quality than similar dogs in the United States. In the north such fully trained dogs often sell for much more.

“The difference is that most of what goes on in the United States is sport training,” he said, describing a sport called Schutzhund.

Richardson said people living in Germany have been breeding and training dogs for thousands of years to work and fight as far back as when Rome was trying to conquer Germanic tribes. The practice was perfected in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 40s, he said.

Schutzund, or “protection dog,” was the name of the tests that the German military put dogs through in order to determine if they had reached the highest level of training and performance.

“Unfortunately, it was the Nazis who had the time, the motivation and the opportunity to really perfect it,” he said.

However, Richardson says the method has become watered down over the years into a breeding and training process elsewhere that only prepares dogs to attack a gloved person in a field under specific, controlled circumstances.

Many of these dogs are sold for high prices for a variety of uses such as protecting individuals or homes, guarding private businesses, finding drugs on police raids or acting as combatants with military personnel.

“The top Schutzhund dogs are very well trained, but they're very well trained to do a very specific job,” said Richardson. “The problem is that they then try to use those Schutzhund dogs and titles as proof that that dog is a worthy police dog or military dog. The reality is that it's apples and oranges.”

“Our philosophy is more train how you fight or train how you live,” he added.

Dogs accompanying soldiers on combat missions and police on raids have very different roles than dogs walking with their civilian owners to the grocery store, and private protection dogs must be able to remain calm and composed until there is an actual threat, he said.

If an owner were to lose control of one of these dogs, the consequences could range from scaring friends and neighbors, incurring lawsuits or injuring innocent bystanders and children.

“The dogs also need to be able to tolerate children and other people and other dogs and cats and everything that the world throws at them,” said Richardon. “We're trying to take a very intelligent animal and train it to do a very difficult job, which is essentially telling the difference between a good guy and a bad guy.”

For Richardson, the trick is to develop a command given by the owner that flips a switch in the dog to turn on aggression.

“When it's off, the dog is taking direction from the handler and moving through the world with that handler,” he said. “When it's turned on, it needs to be very, very fast and very, very effective.”

Although training the dog is the longest part of the process, an equally important part is training the owner how to communicate with the dog, he said, adding that the owner should only have the dog attack the person when his life is in danger.

“There’s no doubt that it’s a danger if you use it the wrong way,” said a customer named Andrew, who only gave his first name. “Deploying is something you would only do if your life was in danger to give you time to get away.”

The dog’s breeding and training are meant for that moment of danger, when the dog will put its own life in danger to save its owner without hesitation, they agreed.

“All of your stuff can be replaced. Your dog can be replaced. You cannot,” said Richardson. “That’s how we operate.”

The process leading up to that point begins with breeding.

In order to harness certain characteristics that are genetically carried on through shepherding dogs, a breeder must know the genealogy or bloodline of every dog through many generations, Richardson said.

He explained that many of these types of dogs sold by companies in the United States are marketed to the U.S. customers as “European imports” and sold at a higher price 
swimming
Latigo K9 photo
Even going for a swim is all part of the training

walk the plank
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Tigre seems a bit uncertain as he is led up a narrow ramp.

under the assumption that European dogs are better. But he said that these dogs are mixed with other breeds and have lost many of the genetic qualities necessary in shepherding dogs.

“The reality is unless you control the breeding and you know the bloodlines, where the breeding comes from, then every dog in every litter is a surprise,” said Richardson. “This dog isn't just his mother and father; he's every mother and father down the bloodline behind him.”

The next step is training.

For puppies at Latigo K9, this process begins about two months after they are born, which runs contrary to a major school of thought that dogs should not start protection training until they are a year old, especially not bite training.

“That's like saying don't start raising your kid until they're 16 or 18," said Richardson. “The dogs from the day they're born, like us, are learning . . .  so if you wait until they're a year old to begin their training, you're setting yourself up for failure.”

He gave this outline:

From day one of training, Latigo K9 makes sure that each dog is exposed to different types of stress, not only to make the dog familiar to certain situations, but more importantly to make the dog able to operate in the same way under the any kind of stress.

These stresses in training can take many forms, such as climbing on playground equipment as a puppy, having to swim across a lagoon or having to keep calm and focused in the presence of fire, gunshots and explosions.

“If you can train the dogs to operate and receive direction under stress, it doesn't matter what that stress is, they will perform,” he said.

During that process, Richardson and his staff train the dogs only to perform tasks for praise, giving them compliments when they do something well. In contrast when the dogs do not perform a task correctly, they stop the dogs and reinstruct them. They never punish the dogs, he said.

“Our philosophy is based on 'we don’t use toys or treats or anything like that to bribe the dog,'” said Richardson. “All the dog works for is praise from the owner.”

When it comes time to put the dog with a customer, pairing that person with a dog and training that person how to handle and communicate with that dog is just as important as training the dog, Richardson said.

Richardson said he sits down with each potential customer to discuss whether that person’s lifestyle, whether that person has a family, where they live and what they want the dog for in order to find the best dog for those particular tasks.

On rare occasion, Richardson has had to be strict and be more selective in to whom he can sell dogs because some potential customers do not realize that the customer needs to train and bond with the dog over time.

“For a client buying a dog there’s a significant time investment. There’s a significant work investment as far as learning how to use the dog properly for it to be effective,” said Richardson. “We are as concerned about our dogs’ well being as our clients’ well being.”

“The idea is that to train better dogs, we have to be better humans,” said Richardson. “If you can't be patient with your wife or your child, you're never going to be patient with your dog and vice-versa. So the dogs are a reflection of ourselves, and that can be very hard for people to take.”

In order to train the owner and see how the dog and owner bond together, Richardson very strongly encourages customers to attend a two-day training session where he and his staff give a thorough tutorial on how to handle and communicate with the dog.  However, Richardson says that most people end up coming back for more training willingly and begin to take training into their own hands.

One customer at such a training session, who preferred to be simply called Elliot, said that he bought his first dog after his home in San José was burglarized and now he has purchased two and brings them both to training sessions.

“I sleep better at night. And now I got into the sport, I bought the bite suit,” he said, also adding that he trains his dogs, Mambo and Becky, in agility.

Andrew started out afraid of dogs ever since he was bitten by one when he was a child. During his first training session he stood on top of a car in order to observe the dogs from a safe place, he said.  Now he also owns two dogs, which he also brought for extra training.

“As you get more and more used to being around the dogs, you feel more and more comfortable with them, and it just clicks even better,” said Andrew.

This form of intimacy grows quickly and naturally between most customers and their dogs, bringing the customers back for more training and more dogs and also getting them involved in training with their dogs by themselves, according to Richardson.

“In this day and age with technology and Facebook and how removed we are from nature and real life, the dogs provide an opportunity to engage with something that forces us to be honest with ourselves, and it's very natural and real,” said Richardson. “The dogs will give back to you 100 percent all the time.”

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica
Escazú Christian
A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 27, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 149
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New group seeks to forbid sale of squatters rights to property
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents and investors fed up with costly litigation over squatters on prime properties are forming an organization called Justice in Costa Rica and plan to push for legislation to prevent the transfer of squatters rights to third parties.

Among those involved is the expat Sheldon Haseltine who has battled for 14 years to regain full title and possession for tracts his corporation owns in the central Pacific.

The organization announced its plans in a lengthy email message Thursday night.

Haseltine is going to court next month for the third time to defend himself against a criminal charge of forgery brought by those who are seeking to acquire his property. Haseltine and his lawyer have twice been acquitted of the charge, which even the local prosecutor says is bogus. However, twice the acquittal has been nullified for technical reasons on appeal.

The expat and his fellow investors see the situation as a conspiracy directed at the highest levels of Costa Rican society. In the email, the fledgling association claims that those seeking the central Pacific land are related to the managers of major news outlets in Costa Rica. They ask why there has been no news stories about this case.

The organization said it is made up of expats and Costa Ricans, mainly those who have had to fight a long and costly battle to keep their land. The email correctly notes that there are
thousands of such cases in the legal system now.

The proposed law would prevent the purchase of squatters rights by third parties.

The email notes that that man who squatted on Haseltine's land received  336 million colons, now about $672,000 from politically connected individuals for whatever rights he may have to the property. So now Haseltine and his partners are in court against monied interests who want the property on the strength of the squatter's occupation.

Haseltine has embarked on a public relations campaign including YouTube videos to make the public aware of his case. In the video he notes that the squatter laws were set up years ago to help poor individuals obtain land that rich people were not using.

La Nación did publish news stories about the theft of properties from legitimate owners. The news story pointed out that an elderly politician who once served as the Costa Rica ambassador to the United Nations found that a large farm that he owned no longer was in his name. Crooks in anticipation of the politician's death had forged documents showing that the land had been sold. Then they would come forward and claim ownership on the strength of the fake papers.

However, La Nación has not addressed this issue for several years even though this is a serious barrier to foreign investment here. Of course, some well known politicians have been involved in cases trying to wrest land from legitimate owners.


Navel orange prompts yearnings for the good, old days
I want to go back to the old normal.  The other day I decided to eat the navel orange that was bought at the AutoMercado.  It obviously was imported, like many products and foods that we eat today.  We can get them all year round from both hemispheres.  I used to love navel oranges. Oranges and eggs were all I wanted to eat when I was pregnant with my daughter, Lesley.

I haven’t eaten a California navel in perhaps 20 years.  If they are now like the one I tried almost in vain to peel and section, I hope never to have another.  Instead of the peel coming off easily, half of it stuck to the orange.  It was impossible to pull apart the sections (which are practically the definition of a navel) and it was almost tasteless except for the vague sourness of it.  But, we can get them all year round, can’t we?  And they travel better if they are picked before they are ripe.

When TV anchors ask some economist or someone in government in the U.S. if we are going to have to find a ‘new normal,’ the responder shies from the question, or denies it vehemently.  “No, No, it will just take time to get to where we were.” (meaning just before the recession.)  Well, I don’t want to go there, I want a new normal that is more like it used to be when a California navel orange was easy to peel, and one could eat the neat sections one at a time, when just picked corn on the cob was so delicious it brought tears to your eyes, appreciated all the more because it was only available during corn season.  It was the same with those wonderful beefsteak tomatoes that with a little salt and mayonnaise were ambrosia.

Perhaps people began to eat more in search of something that would satisfy their taste buds.  There just might be less obesity if people could savor every bite, instead of eating genetically altered food that grows in abundance and travels well across waters but not from the mouth to the stomach.  

People had gardens and orchards (We had the most delicious green apple tree).  Nothing was better than a rhubarb just pulled out of the earth.  I had a habit of chewing on stones, and our local doctor told my mother, “She’ll outgrow it.”  Most kids were expected to get chicken pox and/or measles and recover.  Asthma was almost unknown. Scarlet fever and polio, however, were threats.

You didn’t have to belong to a gym.  Every school had a gym and playing fields for softball or football. Schools had gym and music, bands and chorus, and typing and home economics and shop and even theater. Those were the subjects and activities that kept us in school. 

On the downside, home economics was for girls and shop for boys.  And you seldom saw a mixture of races in the schools. 
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

navel organges

But there is no reason to go back to the stupid stuff.

As for TV and cell phones and the Internet, well, we didn’t miss them because we didn’t even know they could exist.  We were playing outside with our friends, not texting them.  And we had radio and our imaginations. Now we don’t need to use that creative part of our minds because we can see it all on TV coming from (and controlled by) the creative mind of someone else.  Often, with many of the mysteries and police thrillers today, we see enough graphic gory killings in one evening that would suffice for a lifetime. 
 
We could go back to buying locally grown food and enjoy it mightily when it is in season.  To not programming our children’s activities, let them play outside and make up their own games (now it would have to be with supervision) and get a little dirty.  Doctors are beginning to tell parents that maybe antiseptic surroundings are not an especially good way to raise healthy kids.

Fortunately, Costa Rica has a head start on this old new normal.  So much grows here locally, one can be happy with home grown food.  Children still play outside safely, and family and friends still gather in person to enjoy each other’s company.  Those who live here take pride in taking good care of their part of the earth.  Cell phones are, to my mind, a growing menace, I must admit.

Actually, I think these ideas are taking hold in many countries.  But it not going to be easy . . . it is back to small is beautiful, not the bigger the better.

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Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 27, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 149
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Pilgrims have good weather
at least through Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Pilgrims who take advantage of the weekend to pay a call on the Virgen de los Ángeles in Cartago probably will have decent weather through Saturday.

Today's forecast is for more wind in the Central Valley. The wind keeps the rain at bay. But the day is predicted to be hot, similar to much of July.

Still there was thunderstrom activity early today in the central Pacific and in the southern part of the country.

There also may be some rain in the late afternoon on the Pacific coast both Friday and Saturday. The story for Sunday is still uncertain, although the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that some unstable weather might be moving in.

More and more pilgrims are en route to the basilica in Cartago where the image of the Virgen de los Ángeles can be found. She is the patroness of the nation, and more than 2 million persons are expected to walk there by early Thursday. That day is a national holiday.

Port agency in Colombia
gets a $3 million loan


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter-American Investment Corp. has approved a loan of up to $3 million to port operator Grupo Portuario S.A. to expand the wharf at the Buenaventura Marine Terminal on Colombia’s Pacific coast, boosting its operating capacity by 35 percent.

Grupo Portuario will use the long-term loan in U.S. dollars to dredge the approach channel and expand the wharf, creating a new berth. The wharf already handles 11 percent of Buenaventura’s cargo volume and is used for loading, offloading, and moving minerals, bulk freight, loose cargo, vehicles, and containers.

“Expanding the port’s infrastructure will strengthen economic ties with the export sector, given the Port of Buenaventura’s proximity to Cali, Bogotá, and Medellín, the country’s major cities,” noted Olga Lucía De Narváez,  investment officer in charge of the operation.


Mississippi water level drop
puts crimp into barge traffic


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Mississippi River is the longest and most economically important waterway in the United States. But a lack of rainfall is reducing the depth of the river.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is surveying the river in an effort to keep it navigable during one of the worst droughts in U.S. history.

On board the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers survey ship, the “MV Pathfinder,” Capt. Terry Bequette is watching the river level drop.

"You see probably 15 or 20 foot more bank than we had at this time last year.  The sand bars behind you were not exposed last year at this time," explained Bequette.

Last year, heavy rains flooded the banks along parts of the Mississippi.  This year, the level is so low, shipwrecks normally hidden under water are plainly in view.

"It's low and it's bad, but it's not the end-of-the-world bad," added Bequette.  "The industry just lightens their load and hopes for the best."

That industry ships corn, soybeans, and wheat from farms in the Midwest to destinations around the globe. Roughly 60 percent of all grain exported from the United States travels on barges along this waterway.   Any disruption has a ripple effect.

"There's a lot of money at stake for these farmers, and there's other commodities that are coming down the river as well, so it's not just grain but it's also chemicals are coming down the river, coal is coming down the river, various things like that," noted Jasen Brown, a hydraulic engineer with the Army Corps.

Brown notes that ships need a channel nearly three meters deep and 91 meters wide to safely navigate. 

"We are at a low enough stage with the anticipated forecast going lower, that we're starting to initiate some communication between the navigation industry, the Coast Guard, and the Corps, so that we are accounting for all the things we need to account for as the water levels drop," he said.

Part of that accounting begins with Bequette and his crew who locate the shallow spots that could endanger traffic.

"We run a dredge survey, and then they decide whether it needs dredging or if we can buoy it," Bequette explained.  If we can buoy it, certainly that is the quickest solution.  Obviously the further it drops the more dredging sites are going to pop up."

Companies that load their barges will have to lighten their loads as water levels drop. However, according to Russell Errett with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River is still the most efficient way to ship commodities, as long as it stays open to traffic.
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Herradura murderer gets
130-year symbolic penalty


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The  Tribunal Penal de Puntarenas issued a symbolic sentence of 130 years in prison against the 26-year-old man who set fire to a shipping container and killed the four persons sleeping inside in Herradura June 10, 2011.

The man is Ólger Vásquez Sibaja, and prosecutors said that the motive was revenge against one of two women who were sleeping inside the shipping container.  Vásquez chained up the doors to the container so that those inside could not leave before he used accelerants to torch the place.

The dead were  brothers Meykel Andrés Villalobos Miranda and Jonathan Alberto Villalobos Miranda, María Félix Sánchez Mairena and a girl, Camila Vanesa Delgado Morales. Ms. Sánchez was identified as the former companion of the accused.
 
Under Costa Rican law, the penalties assessed by the trial panel are reduced to a maximum of 50 years imprisonment.

The man also was convicted of theft because he took some of the belongings of the persons he killed. That proved to be his undoing because they were found on his person when he was arrested two weeks later in Venecia de San Carlos.

The fire happened on a farm some distance from neighbors. Metal shipping containers frequently are used for storage and living quarters with some modifications.


More searches conducted
in growing kiddie porn case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents conducted more searches Thursday seeking more evidence in a growing kiddie porn case. This time the searches were in Santa Bárbara de Heredia and in Belén de Heredia.

This is the case in which information came from London, England, and Bellorussia that credit cards from Costa Rica were used to access an Internet child pornography site. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that credit cards were confiscated as evidence during searches Thursday.

Judicial agents here detained a man in  Ciudad Quesada San Carlos Tuesday morning because his credit card number showed up in the European investigations. Agents also conducted searches in  Liberia, Puntarenas, San Carlos, Cartago and Pavas that day.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the European ring had a system of images connected to a Web page where those interested in viewing child porn could pay money and access the site.









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