A.M. Costa Rica

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(506) 223-1327        Pubished Friday, Aug. 4, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 154       E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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A.M. Costa Rica file photo/Eric Gundersen
and the National Security News Service
crash site

A.M. Costa Rica published this photo acquired from a Washington, D.C., newsman Sept. 12, 2001. The damage is where Flight 77 hit the East Wing of the Pentagon, according to official accounts.

Some think that the rounded hole suggests a missile, although the opening is big enough for the space shuttle and booster.

Sept. 11 conspiracies become talk topic here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In 1941 there were no Internet hookups. If the world had been connected as it is now, Franklin Roosevelt might have been run out of office for aiding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In 1964, there was no Internet hookups to tell the world that the Catholic John Kennedy was assassinated by Nelson A. Rockefeller because a plan to make Asia Catholic failed. 

Today there is the Internet and anyone with $9 for a domain name and a Web page can bring forth a theory. And there is no shortage of theories about Roosevelt and Kennedy.

But the big conspiracy today is about what happened Sept. 11, 2001. Web pages would have readers believe that controlled demolition charges demolished three buildings, including the two towers, and that a missile and not an aircraft smashed into the Pentagon.

In fact, a recent Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll found that more more than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East. That is about the same percentage of the public that believes the government is hiding information about contacts with space aliens.

Expats in Costa Rica are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories because they are isolated from many sources of information. In addition, there is a much higher tendency among Democrats to believe that the Republican Bush administration was involved in the Sept. 11 tragedy, according to the poll. There are a lot of Democrats here.

Part of the reason for suspicion was that President George Bush did not act decisively and that there are many other questions.

Now the views of a leading conspiracy theorist are coming to Costa Rica. As part of the Speakers' Forum Aug. 15 Sam Butler, the local organizer, will show a video reflecting the views of David Ray Griffin. Griffin, 65,  a recognized philosopher and theologian, wrote "The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11."

Vanity Fair calls Griffin's book "the leading book on 9/11 conspiracy theories selling more than 100,000 copies and popularizing among 9/11 Truth activists the expressions 'MIHOP' and 'LIHOP' — for the government 'made it happen on purpose' or 'let it happen on purpose.'"

Despite the popularity of the book, the Internet is where conspiracies blossom, Vanity
Fair also said that "Loose Change," a pastiche of television broadcasts about the Sept. 11 attacks has become extraordinarily popular. The Internet movie was made by three young men in Oneonta, New York, for $2,000 and claims that the show proves government complicity.

One of the key points of most Sept. 11 conspiracy theories is that U.S. Air Force jets should have been able to intercept the hijacked jets before they crashed into buildings. Griffin, in a 2004 radio interview, said that F-15s can fly 1,875 miles an hour and should have been able to catch the hijacked passenger jets closing in on New York.

By coincidence Vanity Fair also has just come out with an article summarizing the tapes of the North American Defense Command in Rome, New York, that was involved in the scrambling of fighters.

The tapes, which have oral time stamps, show that two fighters sat on the runway as the first passenger jet plowed into the World Trade Center. The story by Michael Bronner and the radio clips are an exclusive and the result of a freedom of information request.

"What I have done is summarize and organize the evidence that a vast number of previous researchers have come up with, and this shows that the official story breaks down when confronted with readily available evidence in almost every fact and aspect," said Griffin in his interview.

As to American Flight 77 which was supposed to be the plane that struck the Pentagon, Griffin has no knowledge of where that aircraft might be if a missile struck the building instead.

However the military has released two videos that are supposed to show the plane a second before it struck the Pentagon. The videos are HERE! (halfway down the page on the left). Plus there are human witnesses not connected with the government.

As to the idea of conspiracies in high places, Julius Caesar did not die a natural death. Neither did Lincoln. And what was that at the Watergate? And in the Gulf of Tonkin?

As to Nelson Rockefeller being involved in the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963, along with Lyndon Johnson, the era did generate the off-Broadway show "McBird," a modern "Macbeth" with Johnson in the lead role. So the idea is not new. And Web sites are not expensive.

The discussion of the Sept. 11 events Aug. 15 will be at 6:45 p.m. in Bello Horizonte, Escazú, and further information about the forum is available at 289-6333, 821-4708 or 289-6087.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 4, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 154

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Aliens and UFOs on tap
for conference Aug. 19-20

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A controversial U.S. citizen who claims to have confronted a space alien in a forest in the Cascade Mountains will be among the speakers for the first international congress of UFOs and extraterrestrial life in Alajuela Aug. 19 and 20.

The controversial man is Dr. Jonathan Reed. He joins at least five other investigators of flying saucers and aliens from México, Perú, Argentina and Costa Rica.

The weekend is being organized by the Enigma-tico.com and the Asociación Cultural Alfa y Omega. One highlight is a presentation on UFOs in Costa Rica by local investigator Richard Sandí. Some of the speakers say they have had contact with aliens and one says he has  been transported to another planet.

Reed said that he and his dog stumbled upon an alien in the Pacific Northwest in October 1996. When the alien attacked his dog, Reed says he struck the alien with a tree limb and appeared to kill it. He said he took it home as evidence, but at some point the alien came back to life and fled.

Reed maintains a Web site  where he sells a book. But another Web site said that he is not really the Seattle psychologist he claims to be but a man named Jonathan Bradley Rutter. The man claims to have been followed by strange individuals and even shot one time.

Daniel Muñoz, another speaker, is a Mexican newsperson who has also written about crop circles in England.

Gasoline, fuel prices
will have another hike

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The regulatory authority has approved the eighth increase in gasoline prices this year. The increase is about 4 percent for super gasoline. The price goes from 575 colons to 597 colons per liter. regular goes up 23 colons or 3.2 percent from 550 colons to 573. There are 515 colons to the U.S. dollar at the current rate.

Diesel is going up just 3 colons a liter, from 380 to 383, said the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos.

Jet fuel, aviation gasoline, kerosene and liquid petroleum gas are going up, too.

The increases are based on a formula that takes into account the costs for production and distribution for the  Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, the national monopoly.

Sewer and water chief
pushes for OK of loan

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The head of the sewer and water company was back at it Thursday trying to convince a legislative committee that they should let his organization accept a $127 million low-interest loan from Japan.

The man, Ricardo Sancho, executive president of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillado, has been trying to get legislative approval for months. Japan already extended once the deadline for Costa Rica to agree to accept the money.

Sancho was a bit more graphic in his presentation before the Comisión Especial de Ambiente as he referred to the populated area of the central Valley as a big septic tank. He said that half the sewage of San José and the neighboring cantons is discharged into the streets, gutters and right into the cities.

There is no treatment for sewage here, and the pipes eventually end in a stream that carries the aguas negras, as it is called in Spanish into the Río Tarcoles and then the Gulf of Nicoya.

He said new sewers and a treatment facility would be a boon to the environment and human health.

The government has to put up $100 million of the amount needed, and legislative deputies have been foot-dragging.  The loan approval has been placed on the special agenda that the executive branch provides lawmakers during this period when the president controls what may be discussed. The Japanese are expected to lose their patience by Aug. 31.

Sancho said the project has been 20 years in the planning and that by 2013 some 65 percent of the population would be on the new sewers. By 2025 some 85 percent would be covered.

The loan terms are for an interest rate of 1.2 percent with seven years grace on starting repayment. The loan term is 25 years.

Terrorism laws two-edged
Corte Suprema chief says

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia told lawmakers Thursday that terrorism requires a reform of the country's laws but that the changes should be made with the guaranteed rights of defendants in mind.

The court president, Luis Paulino Mora, said that he has a certain reticence to special legislation addressing terrorism, narcotrafficking, money laundering, human trafficking and domestic violence.

He said Costa Rica should learn from the experiences of other countries.

In a clear reference to the United States and its terrorism prisoners in Guantanamo, Cuba, Mora said that he did not want the high court to have to point out to a sitting president of the country that a certain group of prisoners did not have the advantage of all their rights in a judicial process.

Mora said that in the 1980s the penal code was changed to give law enforcement better ways to attack the problem. But such laws are a double-edged sword, he said. The new methods can overshadow the rights of the accused. He was appearing before the Comisión de Narcotráfico.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 4, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 154

Go home HERE!      Go to Page 2 HERE!
Go to Page 4 HERE! 

Perhaps happiness is linked to number of holidays
As weeks go, this has been a pretty good one.  An impromptu gathering at my apartment ended with a book signing of “Butterfly in the City,” (my book) and one of the guests, Dr. Lenny, brought me 10 beautiful, newly laid, very fresh eggs.  Sometimes it pays to complain.  I had one the next morning, and cracking it into the frying pan, all I could say was “Wow!” 

The big round yolk sat on a nice mound of white.  And it was delicious. Wow.  For those who were not at my gathering, if you are interested in buying my book, just click the ad in A.M. Costa Rica or write to me at the e-mail address in this column.  It is still too new to be in bookstores throughout the world — and may never be.

I realize, watching the terrible news about the killing and destruction in the Middle East that I neglected to include war as a universal last week, and that, sadly, almost no country in the world either outlaws it or considers it a sin or a vice.  I say almost because Switzerland and Costa Rica are two countries that I immediately think of that have decided that war is not acceptable for settling differences.  Neither of those countries has been involved in a war in over 50 years. Costa Rica is the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its military. 

Perhaps that is one of the reasons Costa Rica recently ranked as the happiest country in Latin America and 13th in a field of 178 countries of the world according to a study done by British researchers. Denmark ranked No. 1.  The researchers concluded that those countries with access to education,  good and life-long health care, and financial well being had the happiest people.  There must have been more in the criteria because the United States ranked only 23rd and Great Britain 41st.  In the Western Hemisphere, Canada and Iceland ranked among the first 10.

Another study tabulating “subjective” sense of happiness ranked Puerto Rico as the happiest country in the world with Mexico and El Salvador among the top five.  Since Puerto Rico is not a country, and Costa Rica is not mentioned at all among the 192 countries included, I question this study and their criteria.  El Salvador?                  -
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

I wonder if the number of holidays a country observes figures into the happiness quotient.  If it does, Costa Rica has to rank among the most joyful .  We have just come off a three-day weekend because of a new holiday on Monday, and Wednesday was another one, meaning that all government offices are closed. 

I noticed Tuesday that there were fewer cars than usual parked on my street.  They are the overflow of cars of people who work at the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.  Obviously, many figured that it was hardly worth going to work for one day.

Nor was climate mentioned in connection with happiness.  And again, had it been, Costa Rica would be in the top five.  With the U.S. and Europe sweltering, we in the Central Mesa are enjoying mid-70 temperatures. 

I went downtown Tuesday to mail some books and buy an umbrella to replace the one I left in a taxi, and I saw her again.  I don’t know her name, but I have seen her from time to time walking in San Jose.  She is about two feet tall because her legs are twisted little appendages angled up her back. 

She walks on her hands, which are shoed in thongs that my daughter, at age 2, called “flickies.”  She is always nicely dressed and made up. My heart fills with both admiration and pity when I see her. 

But this day I had to smile. She made her way to the bus stop, took off her shoes and put them in her purse, then rummaged around in that purse with her remarkable multipurpose hands for what looked like a roll of mints.  And she was whistling throughout all of this! 

If this little lady could whistle while she walked in San José, then this certainly must be one of the happiest countries in the world.

Murders and instability increase along Panama's border with Colombia
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United Nations refugee agency has said that increasing numbers of families are fleeing unrest near Colombia’s border with Panamá.

Citing the example of one victim of stepped up violence in northern Colombia, the agency profiled “Maria,” a 22-year-old who fled her home village with her three children after her husband was killed by members of an irregular armed group.

They had been living in Arquía Limón, a tiny community right on the jungle-covered border with Panamá. Like other border regions in Colombia, Chocó is unstable. Irregular armed groups vie for control of territory and the jungle's rich natural resources, the U.N. agency said. Communities living on rivers cutting through the jungle are subject to frequent blockades, threats, forced recruitment and killings, sometimes targeted and sometimes indiscriminate.

No one knows why Maria’s husband and the three other men died in Arquía Limón last month, but the U.N. refugee agency said the impact of the killings was immediate: within hours, the community's 23 families had fled. In all, the agency estimates that more than 500 people have arrived in Unguía since late July from Arquía Limón and surrounding communities.

Further south on the Atrato River, the small town of
Ríosucio has also seen a growing number of families arrive in recent weeks after fleeing stepped up violence further up the river. Local authorities tell U.N. staff members that many families are so terrified they will not even come to register as displaced because they do not want their names to appear on a list.

Those who do speak say that up to 14 plantation workers were killed by members of an irregular armed group in Taparali in late July, according to the agency, which reported that their surviving colleagues are too scared to go back to work. As well as displacement, the violence is causing serious economic problems for people who are among the poorest in the country.

Many of those displaced in Ríosucio are of Afro-Colombian origin and the U.N. agency said there is growing concern about the fate of indigenous communities along the river. Throughout Colombia, ethnic minorities are suffering disproportionately from the conflict and are forced to leave their homes.

There are an estimated 2.5 million internally displaced people in Colombia — the largest population of concern to the relief agency in any country in the world. The refugee agency has been working on behalf of displaced people in Colombia since the late 1990s to find durable solutions for those already displaced, guarantee the protection of the rights of displaced people and avoid new forced displacement.

Arias meeting with representatives of Colombia's right-wing militia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez has an appointment today with members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, the right-wing militia that has been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries.

Casa Presidencial said Arias was supposed to meet with the group Thursday but that the appointment was rescheduled. The organization, called in Spanish las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, are believed to
generate much of their income from smuggling drugs.
 The militia was designed to protect landowners and others from the  two groups of leftist revolutionary guerrillas operating in the country.

No agenda was announced for the meeting, but Arias is going to Colombia for the inauguration of Alvaro Uribe as president of the country for the second time.

The militia has been engaged in an effort to lay down arms and rejoin Colombia society. It is likely that the visitors will ask Arias to negotiate some aspect of the organizations relationship with the Colombian government.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 4, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 154

MTV, turning 25, reflects on decades of trendsetting
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Twenty-five years ago this week, MTV — short for music television — premiered on cable television in the United States.  It began by broadcasting music videos from popular artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson, but has since branched into talk shows, documentaries, and reality-based programming. In those 25 years,  MTV has influenced the music business, television, and the culture at large.

MTV aired its first program 25 years ago this week. Since then it has added more than 50 channels in 28 languages and 168 countries, becoming a global communications phenomenon.

"I can attest to that,” says Ray McDonald, a reporter who covers the music industry. “My wife is from India and I have been back there seven times. And MTV not only broadcasts on an Indian channel, it has also spawned imitators." McDonald says MTV’s cultural influence over the past 25 years has been extraordinary.

"MTV has become the look of modern American pop culture. It has affected our buying patterns. It has affected the clothes we buy. It has affected youth culture, top to bottom. And that is MTV's greatest strength, its brand integrity."

MTV started off just playing music videos, but today it devotes more airtime to other types of programming, including news and drama. Many credit MTV with starting the reality television craze, a form
of programming much in demand among younger viewers. That move reflects MTV's understanding that many in its audience today were not even born when it first went on the air in 1981.

"MTV is number one among 12 to 24-year-old viewers.  These are people for whom Madonna and Michael Jackson are ancient history," said McDonald.

Those nostalgic for MTV as it once was will undoubtedly remember famous live performances such as one from 1984, by a then new-to-the-scene Madonna. Its Video Music Awards have provided the backdrop for some of modern music's most iconic moments. But MTV's stronghold on the music video audience is now facing serious challenges.

"MTV faces 21st century competition such as youtube, which is an Internet site that carries videos of all kinds. And as a matter of fact, Viacom — MTV's parent company — their stock has dropped about 20 percent this year on perceived fears that these competitors are cutting into MTV's advertising," said McDonald.

Comedian Kathy Griffith has been a regular on MTV over the years. She thinks its influence on music and television will remain strong.  "MTV is still the cool place. It's what the kids are watching. Many, many artists want to be on MTV for almost no cost because you want to get that demographic."

MTV has been low-key about its birthday this week — preferring to focus on a youth audience, the demographic that has always defined its most fanatic followers.

México's losing candidate rallies supporters to block stock market access
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hundreds of people have surrounded Mexico's stock market building as part of a series of protests over alleged fraud in recent presidential elections.

Supporters of leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador marched to the building in México City Thursday, blocking some employees from entering. Officials said exchange operations were unaffected.

The march started hours after López Obrador said no new protests were planned for two or three days. Thousands of his supporters have been camped out 
on México City's La Reforma since Sunday, causing major traffic blockages.

Lépez Obrador has said the street protest will continue until all ballots from the July 2 vote are recounted.

Lépez Obrador narrowly lost to conservative candidate Felipe Calderon.

The nation's top electoral court is hearing complaints about the vote. It has until Sept. 6 to rule on López Obrador's challenge and officially announce the winner of the election.

Castro's sister in Miami says her brother is seriously ill in Cuba
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As Cuban exiles in Miami continue to debate about the condition of Cuban President Fidel Castro, his sister, Juanita Castro, who fled her brother's regime more than four decades ago, said Castro is very sick.

Juanita Castro told reporters Thursday Fidel is quite ill, but besides that, she knows very little else about the condition of her older brother.

"He's very sick. That's it, I don't have other information, unfortunately no. It's not in my communication right now with the regime," she said. Ms. Castro spoke outside a small pharmacy she runs in Miami.

She fled the island amid political differences with her brother. Despite that, she said, they are still family:
"We are separated for political reason, ideological reason, but that's it. The blood is strong. The relation between brother and sister and father and mother is very strong.

"Nobody can condemn me because I take this determination to publicly speak out what I feel," she said.

President Castro transfered power to his younger brother, Defense Minister Raúl Castro, Monday after he underwent surgery for intestinal bleeding. But both Fidel and Raúl have not been seen in public since the announcement.

If Raul was to permanently take power, she says, she wishes for God to illuminate him, and for him to have a clear mind to be the way to achieve a real democracy in Cuba.

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