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These stories were published Tuesday, July 29, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 148
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Legals changes sought to cut slaughter on roads
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Transit officials, the country’s top judge and lawmakers outlined Monday a series of proposals designed to cut down on the traffic toll that results in what officials estimate is about one death per day.

The proposals would take out of the overworked judicial system an estimated 400,000 traffic-related court cases a year.

The proposals also would hike routine traffic fines from 2,000 to 5,000 colons ($5 to $12.50) to 20,000 ($50). Officials also want to stress the use of seatbelts and also pull the licenses of repeat or drunk offenders.

Javier Chávez, minister of Obras Pública y Transporte, gave the estimate that an average of one person dies each day on Costa Rica’s highways. He said that officials propose that the Asamblea Nacional improve the conduct of drivers through persuasion, such as publicity campaigns that stress the use of seatbelts.

"We believe that this campaign can reduce the 

highway deaths more than 25 percent, which is equivalent to saying that deaths would decrease by 100 persons a year," said Chávez.

Luis Paulino Mora, president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, said that the Poder Judicial has been trying for years to modify the transit laws to move certain violations outside of the tribunals of justice. It was he who estimated that the 1 million cases the courts see each year might be reduced by 40 percent with changes in the law. A lot of the cases that get into the courts are parking violations, he said.

Mario Redondo, president of the congress, said that some of the ideas have been presented in the past. He said that the two proposals for law presented Monday would be discussed by deputies in August. He left the door open to a call to hold a special session on the topic.

The measures seemed to have support that cut across party lines.  However, Deputy Edwin Patterson said that a proposal to encourage drivers to keep to the right on multi-laned highways sometimes would not be appropriate because of the bad state of some highways.

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Highway renovations planned nearby in Panamá
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A 92-kilometer stretch of a key highway linking Panamá and Central America to Mexico will be rehabilitated and upgraded with a loan provided by the Inter-American Development Bank.

The overall plan also includes rebuilding a section of highway just south of the Costa Rican border.

The development bank announced Friday that its $37 million loan to Panamá will be used to bring the Pacific corridor of the Pan American Highway up to standards agreed upon by the eight countries in Plan Puebla Panamá. The plan is a regional economic development program that aims, among its other purposes, to improve infrastructure links in the region. Plan Puebla Panama as a controversial initiative created by Mexican President Vicente Fox and the Central American countries to work together to further economic development in the region.

The development bank said a 39-km. stretch (24 miles) of road between the Panamanian towns of Divisa and Santiago will be expanded by two additional lanes, with three new bridges built and 12 elevated crossings for pedestrians. In a severely deteriorated 53-km. stretch (33 miles) of road between Santiago and the 

community of El Pajal, highway slabs will be replaced and technical specifications improved regarding drainage and road shoulders. The loan will complement funding by Panamá to rehabilitate another stretch of highway from Divisa to Paso Canoas, on the Costa Rican border.

The development bank said an environmental and social evaluation of the program concluded that the project would "neither affect protected areas nor involve the resettlement of people." 

The project is expected to help cut transportation costs by reducing travel time, vehicle wear and tear, and accident rates, said the development bank release.

The 3,159-km. (1,959-mile) Pacific corridor of the Pan American Highway, which is a system of roads linking the nations of the Western Hemisphere, connects Panamá City with the Mexican city of Puebla, while the 1,745-km (1,082-mile) Atlantic corridor of the highway runs from the southeastern Mexican port town of Coatzacoalcos to the port of Cutuco in El Salvador. 

The Pan American Highway system was conceived at the Fifth International Conference of American States in 1923 and supported and financed by the United States during the 1940s and 1950s.

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Law enforcement school vote might come today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Legislators expect a vote perhaps as early as today on the proposed international police academy that the United States wants to set up in Costa Rica.

The Partido Acción Ciudadana said Monday that it feared, among other concerns, that by placing the academy here Costa Rica would become a target of terrorism, far from its supposed objective to avoid that.

The statement by the eight lawmakers is part of a campaign by several groups against the International law enforcement academy, and the voting in the Asamblea Nacional will prove to be a good warmup for an eventual vote on a free trade treaty with the United States.

The administration of President Abel Pacheco already has agreed to locate the police facility here. But the agreement needs legislative approval.

Opponents equate the school to the School of the Americas that the United States operated during the Cold War to teach Latin military officials counterinsurgency. Graduates of the school were frequently named as human rights abusers.

One lawmaker, Epsy Cambell of Partido Acción Ciudadana, is miffed that the United States will not support an International Court of Human Rights. 

The U.S. officials say they do not want military peacekeepers judged by an international court.

In addition to terrorism concerns, the statement by the Partido Acción Ciudadana lawmakers objected to the cost of the school. Costa Rica would have to pay 80 million colons each year, some $200,000.

President Pacheco belongs to the Partido Unidad Cristiana, which also controls the legislature.

The United States says that the school will have a multinational staff of experts as teachers and will present sophisticated, high-level police techniques. Similar schools exist elsewhere.

Opponents of the school have been active with Internet discussion lists and are expected to organize a protest for today at the Asamblea Nacional.

The United States has said that if Costa Rica does not approve the school, Guatemala will accept it. The school would serve students from all over the hemisphere with short, specific technical courses.

However, the United States has been strictly low-key in supporting the school. Rogelio Ramos, minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública, has been the principal spokesman for the administration in favor of the school in multiple appearances at the congress.


 
Death of U.S. tourist
prompts autopsy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators are seeking the cause of death of  a U.S. citizen who died Friday in a downtown hotel.

The case is getting more scrutiny than normal because the man showed signs of having been in a fight. However, natural causes have not been ruled out.

A judicial spokesman identified the man as Robert Cox, 57, and said he was a tourist here. A spokesman for the Hotel Presidente said that the man had checked in Thursday night. He was what the hotel trade calls a "walk-in" and not part of any organized tour group.

Paramedics and police came Friday morning to the hotel, and access was restricted for a time while agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization conducted a probe.

The judicial spokesman said that an autopsy had been ordered, and the investigation is awaiting the results of that medical study.

A hotel spokesman expressed condolences on the death, but noted that any fight or attack involving the man was believed to have taken place outside the hotel property.

Caribe culture here
for preview Friday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Afro-Caribe culture will be celebrated in San José Friday as the V Festival de la Cultura Negra Limón 2003 is kicked off.

The festivities Friday will be at the Centro Nacional de Cultura, the old liquor factory just east of Parque España in  Barrio Amon.

Planned are a number of presentations including gospel choirs, dance groups, calypso and poetry reading. For the rest of the month activities will be in Limón.

The festival ends Aug. 31, which has been designated since 1980 as the Día del Negro Costarricense. A big dance is planned that day in Parque Vargas in Limón.

The event Friday begins at 9 a.m., and is a way to publicize the Limón festival to residents of the Central Valley.

The Caribbean coast has a unique culture, and many residents there trace their lineage to Africa. Their ancestors came to build railroads or work in the plantations. English is a second language.
 

Former president
seeking asylum

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

QUITO, Ecuador — Former President Gustavo Noboa has asked for political asylum in the Dominican Republic as authorities here investigate him for corruption. His whereabouts were unknown Monday. 

However, Noboa said in a recorded message that he has made one of the bitterest decisions of his life. Noboa also said by seeking asylum he is trying to avoid political persecution and the hatred of one man. 

Noboa was referring to a political rival, former President Leon Febres Cordero, who governed the country in the 1980s. Now a conservative lawmaker, Cordero accuses Noboa of corruption related to the renegotiation of Ecuador's foreign debt.

Cordero says Mr. Noboa's mismanagement of the negotiations cost the country $9 billion. Noboa says he has done nothing wrong. 

Noboa was elevated to the presidency in January 2000 after a short-lived coup ousted then-President Jamil Mahuad. Noboa left office in January of this year when President Lucio Gutiérrez assumed power. 

Noboa has been ordered to stay in the country pending the outcome of the investigation. Sunday, airport officials in Quito refused to allow him to board a Miami-bound flight leaving the capital. 
 

Smoke evicts guests

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A kitchen fire sent smoke through parts of the Aurola Holiday Inn Sunday night and caused an evacuation of guests. Several were treated but no one was hospitalized.

Firemen blamed the fire at the downtown hotel on grease that ignited.
 

Visa clerks sentenced
for taking bribes

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

LAREDO, Texas — Five individuals, including four former employees of the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, have been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Laredo, Texas for conspiracy to commit visa fraud. 

Miguel Partida, an American citizen and former visa adjudicator at the Consulate, received a prison sentence of 18 months. 

Four Mexican citizens were also sentenced: Sergio Genaro Ochoa-Alarcon, a former visa clerk, received a prison sentence of 12 months. Benjamin Antonio Ayala-Morales, a former visa clerk, received a prison sentence of eight months. Ramon Alberto Torres-Galvan, also a former visa clerk, received a prison sentence of eight months. Margarita Martinez Ramirez, a visa broker, received probation. 

The sentencing of these defendants is the culmination of a seven-month investigation by the Diplomatic Security Service into allegations that consulate employees were involved in a visas-for-bribes scheme, where persons obtained visas without demonstrating their eligibility to receive a visa under U.S. immigration law. 
 
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Ruling Mexican party struggles as defendant
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MEXICO CITY, México — The ruling political party is preparing a defense against charges of campaign funding violations from the 2000 presidential race that resulted in the election of President Vicente Fox. The ruling against the National Action Party, or PAN, is widely seen as an advance for Mexico's democratic system.

Wednesday PAN leaders will have the opportunity to present their defense in a last-chance move to avoid a fine set by the independent Electoral Institute at over 300,000 pesos, some $28,670.  But the damage to the image of the ruling party has already been done, and the PAN is likely to lose its case.

Mexican commentators said democracy and the rule of law have been bolstered by the investigation of campaign finance violations and the ruling last Thursday by the Electoral Institute against the PAN and the Green Party, which had been in alliance with the PAN in the 2000 election. The victory of Fox in that election brought an end to 71 years of one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and ushered in the kind of openness and transparency in government that the Electoral Institute's action represents.

The Federal Electoral Institute gained autonomy from the government in 1996, and has acted as a guarantor of elections and an enforcer of election law ever since. 

Earlier this year the IFE, as it is called using its Spanish initials, also fined the PRI for using funds in the 2000 campaign that had been diverted from the state-owned oil company. The PRI fine of one billion pesos (nearly $100 million) was the highest such fine ever imposed against a party in Mexico.

One of the main charges against the PAN involved funds that came from a foreign source. Foreign funding of election campaigns is prohibited under Mexican law. 

The IFE cited two such payments in its report, one for $100,000 and another for $160,000. The IFE report did not name the alleged donors.

The ruling against the PAN is a further setback for the party following the mid-term election earlier this month that resulted in the PAN losing seats in the Congress, and the PRI gaining seats. Since Mexican presidents are limited to one six-year term, the IFE ruling against the PAN will have no effect on President Fox, who has said he was unaware of any campaign finance violations.

U.S. illegal logging initiative only has token funding
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of State Colin Powell formally launched a new U.S. government initiative Monday aimed at combating the global problem of illegal logging. The U.S. program will focus initially on the Congo and Amazon basins and tropical forests in Southeast Asia. 

The Initiative Against Illegal Logging is starting with only modest funding, about $15 million. 

But the Bush administration says it will seek more money from Congress as pilot projects prove their worth. And it is looking for support from conservation and industry groups to help tackle a problem it says costs developing countries $10 to $15 billion a year in lost revenue and environmental degradation. 

At a kick-off event at the State Department, Secretary Powell said the initial program will include U.S. law enforcement aid to African, Latin American and Southeast Asian countries to help them enforce their own regulations against illegal logging. 

He said it will also involve the transfer of technology including remote-sensing equipment to help countries monitor stands of big-leaf mahogany and other trees prized by forest thieves. 

Powell said lucrative trade in illegal forest products has weakened fledging democracies in 

the developing world by fueling corruption, and has also financed regional conflicts, citing the current example of Liberia. 

"Liberia's Charles Taylor has used revenues from the timber industry, which is now under U.N. sanctions, to buy arms and fuel violence throughout the region," said Powell.  "In the process. Liberia's logging industry is depleting its hardwood tropical forests on behalf of a corrupt elite and destroying an important source of the natural wealth the people of Liberia need for their own development, and will need desperately once we are able to put a cease-fire in place, and . . . peacekeepers supported by the United States are able to put a political transformation process in place as well." 

The administration initiative drew the endorsement of major conservation groups including the World Wildlife Fund. But some environmentalists say it doesn't go far enough. 

One activist group, The Washington-based Environmental Investigation Agency, faulted the program for not directly addressing the importation to the United States of illegally-cut foreign timber. 

The group said much illegal timber is shipped to the United States via Singapore, and it called on the two governments to set up a task force to combat the problem as part of the new free trade accord with Singapore approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

We are counting on some funny stories
It's time to tickle that funnybone if you have one
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is a land of contradictions, and contradiction is one of the chief concepts of humor.

So now is a time to gently explore our foibles in the mid-winter humor contest sponsored by A.M. Costa Rica marking the second birthday of our Internet daily newspaper.  (Yes, it is "winter’ in Costa Rica.)

Send your humorous writings for publication to:

editor@amcostarica.com

Make your fellow readers laugh and win great prizes, such as:

• water skiing at Lake Poas.

• annual subscriptions to A.M. Costa Rica

• sunbathing expeditions to the sand dunes of Quepos

• Whale-watching expeditions at the patio of the Gran Hotel Costa Rica

• A night of guaro excess with the A.M. Costa Rica editor (your treat).

Any money prizes will be paid in post-dated checks.

We expect to have some famous judges. At least we will have judges.

 

Consider the possibilities:

• The Escazú Witch Project
• Fear and Loathing in Santa Ana
• Waiting for Enrique
• How Would You like to be President for a Day?
• The Attack of the 100-foot-tall ICE
• The Return of the Arias.
• The Taxista Always Rings Twice
• Mr. Smith Goes to Arbitration

But you can do better than that. The important thing is to be funny. You can use satire or straight humor. But you must write about Costa Rica. (George Bush is out. We can’t make this too easy.)

Your stories can be true, but exaggeration is a tool of humor. We will publish the good ones as fiction.

Some people say our readers cannot possibly top what really has been happening in Costa Rica. But we have faith.

Our second birthday is Aug. 15, and that’s the deadline.

Now some folks will be upset with us, thinking that we are picking on them. These are the folks who are humorously challenged. Why should we take the credit for them being so funny? Nevertheless, if you wish to send us hate mail or death threats, please do not clog up the editor’s mailbox like before. Send your hate mail or death threats to:

threats@amcostaric.com

Let the contest begin.


 
The White House replies to an investor's plea
WHITE HOUSE INTERAGENCY PRIORITY MEMORANDUM

DATE: July 28, 2003

TO: Aggrieved U. S. Citizen

FROM: The Honorable E. Fudd, special assistant to the special assistant to the assistant to the President for two-bit, third-world problems

SUBJECT: Outrages in Costa Rica

Dear Aggrieved Citizen:

The President has asked me to personally contact you at once regarding your heartfelt plea which he read this morning in A.M. Costa Rica (the only non-Fox news he reads) and after being shown a map of where Costa Rica actually was.

Although the President would like to contact you directly, as you can appreciate he is quite busy with other matters. What with the WMD not being found and George, Condie, and Colin not being able to keep their stories straight, and Rummy and the Wolf-man planning to invade Syria and Iran. Well, you can imagine what a madhouse it's been around here.

In any event, the President is concerned about the

plight that you find yourself in, and has asked me to help in any way that I can. As you know this President respects the right of property and firmly believes that rich people should not be bothered by having to pay taxes, especially to a two-bit-third-world country. 

Unfortunately though, I must inform you that President Bush has removed the option of a military invasion of Costa Rica off of the table at this time. Although it would only take a dozen or so Marines to take over the whole place, no one in the national security apparatus can figure out what we would do with it after we actually took over.

If you have any ideas along those lines we'd love to hear from you, because frankly, we're stumped. If we could figure out something we might revisit the issue of an invasion but, at this time, all we see is the massive humanitarian problem of having to provide tens of thousands of blankets and pillows to teachers and ICE workers for their daily shift nap. 

I have also forwarded your letter to the Treasury Department after Secretary Snow commented: 

"Hell, 36 percent sounds damn good to me. We could balance the budget in no time with that type of money." 

Bob Hope: 70 years of American humor and history
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One of the world's true superstars of entertainment is dead. Bob Hope, the internationally known comedian, died Sunday at the age of 100.

"Thanks for the Memory" was sung by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross in the motion picture titled "The Big Broadcast of 1938." It became Bob Hope's theme song, played — at least in part — almost every time he made one of his numerous guest appearances on television, on stages throughout the world, or on radio broadcasts.

But that music was only an introduction to what would follow almost immediately: laughter, laughs from the belly and from the heart at Bob Hope's rapid-fire comedy technique and his encyclopedic memory for jokes. 

Bob Hope was born May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England, the fifth of six sons of a stonemason. His parents named him Leslie Townes Hope. It wasn't until 25 years later that he began to call himself Bob Hope.

His father brought the family to Cleveland, Ohio, when Bob was 4 years old, and it was there that he received his education. His mother, a former concert singer, gave him voice lessons. Although young Bob had a good soprano voice as a child, he always said he never wanted to be anything but a comedian. 

He began collecting jokes and filing them away to use during performances. Later, after he had become famous, he put the jokes in what he called his "joke vault" at his beautiful home in Palm Springs, Calif. It was, literally, a fireproof, waterproof vault with a heavy, sealed door and a combination lock. This box held his jokes, meticulously filed and labeled by date and subject — the humor from four decades and three wars. 

In 1941, when the United States entered World War II, Bob Hope attempted to enlist in this country's armed services. He was told he could serve better as an entertainer to build morale. So he took his entire radio show troupe to military bases around the country to perform his weekly broadcasts. These shows were patriotic and very popular with audiences.

"Then the sponsor came in and saw how [successfully] commercial it was, and he said, 'Hey, I'll pay for anywhere you want to go.' And we went for five years," he said. "We went to a different base every week doing our radio show. And then we started going overseas. We [thoroughly enjoyed it], the excitement, the dramatics and the whole thing."

Bob Hope and his troupe of singers, dancers, and other entertainers performed for millions of American service men and women during World War II in the 1940s; Korea in the '50s; Vietnam in the '70s; Beirut in the '80s; and Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s. In 1994, though frail, the 91-year old Bob Hope traveled to the Normandy beaches for the anniversary of D-Day. 

Often, the shows were performed during the Christmas holiday season. On his 81st birthday in 1984, Bob Hope explained why his Christmas shows had been so important to him and why he had taken his show to Vietnam for Christmas of 1972, when the war was all but over for the American troops. "The kids needed that show more then than ever because they had a peace coming on and they didn't know when, they didn't know what was going to happen," he said.

 "You have to go and see that and be there to realize what it means to those kids to see ... all the Miss Worlds and the dancers, you know, and when you take it into those jungles for those kids, they really get a belt out of it, and it's a helluva moment of morale," he said.

Bob Hope made dozens of movies. His close friend and most frequent co-star was singer Bing Crosby. Together they made seven "Road" pictures — on the road to Zanzibar, to Morocco, to Utopia...

Few show business personalities in history have known so much fame, fortune, and popularity as Bob Hope. He had been a friend of every U.S. president from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton. Colleges and universities conferred honorary degrees upon him. He was in demand as a speaker for both Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions. Every U.S. military 

Bob
Hope

service awarded him citations. He wrote several best-selling books and a daily newspaper column. He sponsored a yearly professional golf tournament. And he won four honorary academy awards, including the "achievement in humanity" award in recognition of the great number of benefit performances he gave. 

In 1988, a monument to his outstanding contributions was presented in the form of the Bob Hope Cultural Center. "Just to have all my friends here, and the ones that got together and got the money together to build this are all my buddies, you know. It's a nice thing coming from them," he said.

A constellation of Hollywood stars and Washington politicians attended the January opening of the cultural center in Palm Springs, California. The highlight of the evening came when President Ronald Reagan paid tribute to the entertainer and presented him with the special "Hope Award." "It's my pleasure now to present this award to the man whose name is a description of his life," he said at the time. "And where there is life, there is hope."

Bob Hope has been honored by Congress four times, the most recent being in 1997 making him an "honorary veteran," the first individual so honored in the history of the United States. Hope said, "to be numbered among the men and women I admire the most is the greatest honor I have ever received." 

Always proud of his British origins, Bob Hope was made an honorary knight by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 in recognition of his contribution to film and song and his service in entertaining allied forces during World War II. 

But, of course, to most people, the surprising thing about Bob Hope was that he continued to perform, continued to make people laugh, continued to travel the world and do his comedy act into his 90s, when most people are retired. But not Bob. He said all his activities kept him going. 

"I think that you've got to just get out and enjoy. I think [the real enjoyment] is that I'd rather do what we're doing now — play dates, where you're with a great audience that laughs — and [if] I happen to have a routine that they're laughing at. And then play golf all day and meet all your friends, and I think that's the secret of it. I don't think there's anything else. I think excitement is what life is all about — excitement; keep that adrenalin punching, you know, all the way." 

Bob Hope's most recent tribute is now a permanent exhibition at the Library of Congress. On May 9, 2000, the library opened its "Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment," including Hope's legendary "joke file" of more than 88,000 pages of jokes. Library curator Sam Brylawski says "we feel strongly that Bob Hope is one of the premier entertainers of the 20th century. And thinking about how his career lasted 70 years and represented American humor, if not America to an awful lot of people, we thought it belonged here at the Library of Congress." 

At the exhibition opening, Bob Hope's wife of 66 years, Dolores Hope said Bob Hope's career was representative of the best of the century's entertainment." I really think he's the star of the 20th century," she said. "That's my personal opinion, and I think a few other people too."


 
50 years of Korean armistice and it is still not over
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fifty years ago Sunday, negotiators from China, North Korea and the United States, representing the 22-nation United Nations Command, signed an armistice to end the three-year Korean War. The anniversary was marked with a solemn ceremony and the unveiling of a new postage stamp to honor all American soldiers. 

Sunday's ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington included the performance of a traditional Korean dance aimed at comforting fallen souls.

Officials also unveiled a new U.S. postage stamp which carried the bleak image of American soldiers trudging through the snow of a Korean winter.

The armistice agreement signed 50 years ago ended the fighting in Korea, but technically didn't end the war. Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said this limbo has not hurt South Korea's development.

"Because we took a determined stand, because our men and women fought and sacrificed, the people of South Korea have had half a century of peace. Fifty years to build a dynamic democracy and a thriving economy, that is no stalemate," Wolfowitz said. 

He said in contrast, North Korea is a land of comparative darkness, where a tyrant spends the country's meager resources on nuclear weapons while the people starve.

But he added that there is one issue on which Washington and Pyongyang are cooperating, identifying and recovering remains of U.S. soldiers 

 

in Korea. "We recently concluded negotiations that will result in two joint recovery operations this year. In November, we will meet with them to form plans for recovery operations in 2004. This is vital, because the Korean War will not really end for us until every American is brought home or accounted for," he said. 

Five decades after the end of the conflict, the United States and North Korea are once again engaged in a dispute, this time over whether Pyongyang should be developing nuclear weapons.

State-run North Korean media said the country needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against what it sees as an imminent attack from the United States, which has labeled the country part of an "axis of evil." Pyongyang points to recent U.S. military offensives in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Washington's decision to re-configure its troop deployment in South Korea, as evidence of its argument.

On the ABC television program This Week, the commander of U.S. troops in South Korea, Gen. Leon LaPorte, called North Korea a credible conventional military threat. But he countered that American troops are ready, if necessary. "From a military standpoint, there's the capability, always, to attack targets and to destroy targets. The challenge in North Korea is that many of their facilities are underground," LaPorte said.

LaPorte dismissed reports that reassigning the 37,000 American troops in South Korea indicated either a weakening of U.S. military commitment there or an imminent attack on North Korea.

Instead, he said, the redeployment is simply meant to take advantage of changing technologies and new capabilities.

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