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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 155                          Email us
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Mar Vista

new money
These are the reverse sides of the new bill that will enter into circulation soon.
Three more new bills about ready to hit the streets
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Banco Central will be coming out with three more new bills, the final trio in a set of six. Three, 1,000 colons, 2,000 colons and 20,000 colons already are in circulation.

The new bills are a yellow 5,000-colon note that bears the face of Alfredo González Flores, who was president from 1914 to 1917. The Heredia native was deposed in a coup before completing his term.

The new green 10,000-colon note bears the image of José Figueres Ferrer, who led a coup or civil war sparked by election fraud in 1948 against the government of Rafael Calderón Guardia. 

Figueres is best known for abolishing the Costa Rican army and walking a fine line between East and West in his three presidential terms.

Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno is on the blue 50,000-colon bill. He, too, was president three times and held a number of other public posts in the first
half of the 20th century, including court president.

The rear of the 50,000-colon note is a cloud forest with a blue morpho butterfly, mushrooms and a type of orchid.

The 10,000-colons note features a rainforest with a three-toed sloth, orchids and mushrooms.

The reverse of the 5,000 note is a mangrove with a crab and a white-faced monkey.

Public acceptance of the new 20,000-colon note was limited because it represents about $40 U.S.  The 50,000-colon note will be worth about $100. Until the 20,000-colon note appeared, the largest denomination was 10,000 colons, which created a stack of bills when someone had to carry the equivalent of $2,000 or $3,000 in cash.

The current bills will be honored through the end of the year. All of the new bills are made of cotton-fiber paper. The new 1,000-colon note, which is made of plastic has generated some criticisms.

Lawyer in heavy weapons case explains reasons
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The lawyer who successfully argued against police carrying more powerful weapons said that he was opposed to allowing local police chiefs determine when such weapons could be used, particularly when the police are confronting a peaceful public protest.

The lawyer is Luis Roberto Zamora Bolaños, who also challenged Abel Pacheco when the former president listed Costa Rica among those countries supporting the United States in its invasion of Iraq, the lawyer said. That was in 2003.

Zamora said that Costa Rican law requires the president to authorize the use of heavier weapons but only in times of invasion or riot.
The Sala IV said that police could not use any weapons other than .22-caliber, 38-caliber or 9-millimeter. But then Thursday the court issued a clarification that said certain units, mainly tactical outfits, could use heavier weapons.

Typically most police officers carry 9-mm. pistols, but some officers, such as those at the border crossings, carry long guns.

Zamora said that he first challenged the directive by then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez permitting discretion on the types of weapons in 2011.

The Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo agreed, but then the Procuraduría General de la República appealed the decision, he said.

Exporters question bond issue promise of lower rates
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The exporters chamber has questioned the main selling point that the central government cites to support the issuance of some $4 billion in bonds.

The government has said repeatedly that the bond issues will benefit Costa Ricans by lowering interest rates. But the chamber, the Camara de Exportadores de Costa Rica, cites a statement by Rodrigo Bolaños, president of the Banco Central, who was not as certain.

Bolaños said, in a statement cited by the chamber, that he could not discount the possibility of a decline in interest rates, but he does not think the effect will be very big. At least rates will not increase, he said.

The central government hopes to float $1 billion a year for the next four years. Unclear is how the debt will be repaid. Some of the money will go to refinancing existing foreign debt at a lower interest rate, officials have said.
The exporters chamber is worried that an inflow of so many dollars will reduce the value of the dollar against the colon, the exchange rate.

Exporters, of course, receive most of their income in foreign currency.

The bond issue already has been passed by the Asamblea Legislativa. Another vote is needed.

Luis E. Loría, director general of the chamber, said that the legislature should reject the bond proposal and that the government should get its house in order by eliminating 100 percent of the unnecessary public expenses and improve the quality and efficiency of spending.

He also called for a profound reform of the state to eliminate duplicate agencies and those agencies that have lost their reason for being.

He also said that reform was needed in public employment and pensions.

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NASA/A.M. Costa Rica
  'Curiosity' team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
  California show their feelings as the first photos come  in.

Long-distance magic brings
another U.S. rover to Mars

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

This is not just a news story about a rover the size of an automobile being landed successfully on the surface of Mars. This is a story about how the United States can still do miracles.

The rover, 'Curiosity,' landed about 11:30 p.m. Costa Rican time Sunday night. The first photos of the Martian landscape followed quickly.

At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's control center there was jubilation. The whole event was televised live all over the world, and one could not fail to remember those Vangard rockets in 1957 and 1958 exploding just off the pad at Cape Canaveral. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had made a gutty decision.

There is no way this should have worked.  The rover traveled 560 million kilometers (about 350 million miles) to reach a point just a few kilometers from the planned spot. The spacecraft slowed from  21,240 kph (about 13,150 mph) and began an entry that not only was so complex but it resembled a Rube Goldberg cartoon.

The descent device popped out of the interplanetary shell and a parachute deployed, slowing the rover and its rocket platform until the rover automatically jettisoned the parachute. Then the rocket platform ignited to slow the descent even further. As the craft and platform neared the surface, cables lowered the rover to the surface. Two seconds after touching the surface, the rocket platform cut loose and vanished.

This complex landing is why the team in the control room were more than anxious. They cheered as each step took place. Then when the rover signaled it had landed, the room erupted in hugs and handshakes. A large U.S. Flag hung on the wall, evoking memories of Apollo 11, its successful moon landing 43 years ago and a similar control room scene.

The $2.5 billion 'Curiosity' has 17 cameras, a robotic arm, a laser and a drill. It is designed to study the Martian geology.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
Pacifico Radio
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 155
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Estimate track of Ernesto has the tropical storm brushing the coast of Honduras and moving over Mexico's Yucatan

Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Tropical Storm Ernesto
U.S. National Hurricane Center graphic

Ernesto takes a turn for the north away from Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The good news is that Tropical Storm Ernesto continues to veer to the north, and the threat to Costa Rica is diminishing by the hour.

The bad news is that the Pacific coast and Guanacaste probably will not receive the precipitation that they need from this storm.

Ernesto was located late Sunday about 235 miles or 375 kilometers east of Gracias a Dios cape on the Nicaraguan-Honduran border.
The Instituto Meteorologico Nacional said that the storm continues to be disorganized with winds at 85 kph or about 50 mph. The winds extend some 125 miles or 205 kilometers from the center.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that a tropical storm watch was in effect for the Grand Caymans and the coast of Honduras to Punta Castilla. A storm warning is in effect for Jamaica.
The storm was passing south of the Grand Caymans Sunday
night and earlier today with a movement north to Honduras late Monday and Monday night.

Forecasters here feared that had the storm not moved to the north the indirect effects might be serious for Costa Rica, which just endured heavy rains from a low pressure system along the Caribbean coast, the Turrialba area and the northern zone. Emergency workers still are assessing the damage from that.

Because of the winds around such storms and hurricanes, the Pacific coast frequently experiences more rain than other parts of the country. That probably will not be the case this time.

Another tropical storm in the mid-Atlantic that appears to have the potential to grow into a hurricane is Florence, but forecasters said that it's estimated track will take it well away from Costa Rica. It is predicted to move north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It may have some effect on air transport routes.

Today's forecast calls for more dry and hot. The weather institute said there would be few clouds this morning with rising temperatures. The afternoon will see an increase in cloud cover mainly in the mountains with the possibility of downpours and electrical storms in the Central and south Pacific.

Despite recent rains, country still in grip of El Niño and drought
By Kayla Pearson
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite devastating rains a week ago and the approach of a tropical storm, Costa Rica and all of Central America continues to experience drought conditions. The reason is El Niño conditions in the Pacific that can result in the destruction of crops, less electricity and more fires, according to meteorologists at the Instituto Meteorológico National.

“I think we will have problems with agriculture and the generation of hydroelectricity because we don't have water.  Also, I think we will have a lot of fires in February or March of next year.  All these effects are related to El Niño,” said Werner Stolz España, the chief forecaster.

The El Niño condition warms the ocean temperature and brings higher air surface pressures, which causes less rains in Central America.

“We will have an El Niño phenomenon this year.  When we have this phenomenon, the important thing to notice is the precipitation. When you have El Niño, you don't have rain.  This is typical, and the effects are very, very strong, not just here in Costa Rica but in all Central America. It's very,very dry conditions in Central America,” said Stolz in an interview.

As of July 27, San José had 12 days without rain.  This lack of rain has been typical across Central America with regions experiencing a surplus of dry days.  The Caribbean has had the most rain, with Limón having 15 percent of the total amount of rain in the country at that time, the institute said.

“This July is a record of drought.  We have in San José this moment about 30 millimeters of rain.  That's about 10 percent of the normal value for this month.  We have a very strong deficit of rain not only in the Central Valley but Guanacaste too.  In Liberia we had 22 dry days.  This is a characteristic of all Central America.  In the last five weeks, El Salvador has had 30 dry days,” said Stolz.

He was speaking before a low pressure system drenched the Caribbean, Turrialba and the northern zone.

Despite the heavy downpours in the Caribbean mountains, the Central Valley, the Pacific coast and farmers in Guanacaste could have used more rain.

The cantons to the south of the province of Puntarenas, Golfito and Corredores, are the only places without rain less than the average. The average general deficit was 30 percent for the country.  In the Central Valley the deficit increased from 7 percent in May to 30 percent in June, according to institute statistics.

As the days get drier, the temperature is increasing and the wind patterns are changing, the forecaster said..

“Another thing that is very significant is the temperature.  We have two or three more degrees than the average.  That's very, very hot days.  We have an abnormal wind.  Very strong winds all day.  When we have strong winds, we don't have rain in
Central and Pacific parts of the country,” said Stolz.

El Niño started in June and is predicted to last seven or eight months.

The weather institute has a technical group called the El Niño commission.  This group talks about the behavior of weather and implements mitigation plans to help the country deal with El Niño.  The commission has already set a plan up for this year.

All the data is compiled into a monthly report by the meteorologist at the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. 

On a daily basis, this group handles the weather forecast for both the continental and maritime parts of the country.

The team of six persons run the weather data through three model forecast systems.  They are the Global Forecast System and Weather Research and Forecast System from the United States and the ETA model, based on the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, from Brazil.

Next, the team receives three satellite images that gives members pictures of the clouds all over the country.   Automatic meteorological stations give them a readout for the wind, relative humidity, temperature, atmospheric pressure, rain and solar radiation.

With the data, the team conducts weather briefings to create the forecast for the current and next day.  Despite changing conditions in Costa Rica and the unstableness of the tropics, the weather report is usually 75 percent accurate, the forecaster said.

“We have a global view of the atmosphere of the country and around Central America.  With this picture we can defect hurricanes in real time.  We receive images each 30 minutes.  We can see in advance hurricanes, tropical waves, tropical storms, heavy rains, cold fronts from the North American countries.  We see these images and compare with maps generated with the General Forecast System,” said Stolz.

A radiosonde is sent up everyday at 6 a.m. from Alajuela to predict thunderstorms.

“We launch a radiosonde to do predictions of thunderstorms.  We can see with this graphic if the atmosphere is stable or unstable.  It's a good product because we have real data of our atmosphere, but it's very expensive.  It costs about $200 a day to run.”

Meteorologists at the institute are trained at the Universidad de Costa Rica.  The university offers a bachelor's degree, licenciatura, master's degree and post-doctorate degrees in atmosphere science.

In the event of a national disaster, the country has the national emergency commission to provide aid.

“They are similar to Fema in the United States,” said Stoltz, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  “They attend to all the floods, earthquakes and so on.”

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Jo Stuart
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 155
Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart

youthful lineup
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa
Fuerza Pública officers zeroed in on nightspots frequented by youths who were then searched and questioned.
Police question nearly 2,000 persons in weekend efforts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Weekend sweeps by police resulted in 30 arrests in Alajuelita, Hatillo, Desamparados, Pavas and Tibás. These are areas of high crime.

Many of those detained were the subjects of warrants for various crimes, including robbery and failing to pay child support.

Fuerza Pública officers were joined by traffic policemen, who issued 148 tickets, confiscated 19 license plates from motorcycles and 28 plates from cars.

Police questioned a total of 1,971 persons in their sweeps and
checked 746 vehicles and 239 motorcycles, they said. Much of the work was done by the Grupo de Apoyo Operacional, a tactical force.

Several persons were found to be carrying firearms illegally. Officers also confiscated cocaine, crack and marijuana, they said.

Many motorists were surprised by the turnout of police along Avenida Central Thursday and Friday in Barrio California and Los Yoses. There appeared to be two Fuerza Pública officers in each block. Officers there would just say that they were participating in some form of operation, but there did not appear to be any arrests, and they were not accompanied by  traffic officers.

Fixing crater on the General Cañas highway will cost $3 million
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The transport ministry says it will take five months and $3 million to fix the washout under the General Cañas highway.

This is the so-called crater that developed after a heavy rain in the westbound lanes. The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad installed twin bailey bridges to span the damaged area, and workmen have been underneath the bridges evaluating the situation.

Friday the Minister de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that it would build what they called a false tunnel under the roadway.

The job will be done with nine concrete arches, each 6.4
meters high (21 feet) and 7.5 meters wide (nearly 25 feet).The false tunnel will be 52 meters long, some 171 feet.

The Consejo will be closing the highway's westbound lane from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day to complete the work, it said. Eventually 18 arches will be installed because plans are to put the tunnel under the eastbound lanes, too. Each of the 18 prefabricated arches will weigh about 20 tons, said the Consejo.

Putting the arches under the eastbound lanes will require moving the bailey bridges from the current location in the westbound lanes. The tunnel is designed to carry water runoff under the highway. It was water and a tree trunk that collapsed the former culvert. Workers also will have to build a retaining wall.

Local, U.S. students to present musical love story in Monteverde
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A musical theatre company will perform the Tony Award-nominated musical, “Once on This Island,” from Friday through Sunday in the Costa Rican premiere of the version translated in Spanish.

The productions will be in Santa Elena near Monteverde.

In the spirit of collaboration, students from three local schools and some students from the United States will make up the entire cast of the musical, a key objective of Far Corners Community Musical Theatre.

“Far Corners Community Musical Theatre was founded to provide opportunities for youth groups in communities around the world through the committed participation in the performing arts,” said a press release announcing the musical.

Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, the company has established three theaters in China, Mozambique and Costa Rica, with the intention of providing arts education to students in remote areas of the world that may not have such classes.

Since it was founded in Costa Rica in 2005, the company has performed bilingual versions of “Oliver!,” “The Little Shop of Horrors” and “Urinetown! The Musical.”

In addition, the company has offered workshops, theatre camps and internships to local and international students, ages 12-18, over the years.

Often compared to “The Little Mermaid,” “Once on This Island” is set in the Caribbean and tells the love story of a young peasant woman, Ti Muone, and the young rich man, Daniel, she rescues after a shipwreck. The love-struck couple must overcome issues of class and race in order to be together.

Aware that these themes and settings are present in the community, the company picked this musical in order to make the young international cast comfortable dealing with these issues in their own life, the release said.

“Monteverde, beautiful and serene as it is, is not immune to these themes, and we feel it is vitally important that our students feel open to discuss them in a safe space and within the context of this production,” said Far Corners on its Web site.

The musical will run for one weekend only at the Sala de Teatro in Centro Commercial Plaza Monteverde in Santa Elena at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are 800 colons for children and 1,500 for adults, and can be purchased at the Cámara de Turismo, Souvenir Woods and Café Common Cup in Santa Elena, Heladería Sabores in Cerro Plano, and the Cooperativa de Mujeres Artesanas de Santa Elena.

Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 155
Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Our reader's opinion
Attack on Catholic Church
badly timed, unwarranted

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I want to respond to the article by Jo Stuart that appeared this past Friday after a major religious event here in Costa Rica.

First, the timing of publishing this article (the day after the pilgrimage) by A.M. Costa Rica, was seriously flawed!  This annual pilgrimage to the Basilica in Cartago is a sacred event for many thousands of people, a landmark event in Costa Rica and is much more than "exercise and comraderie" for the participants! The president of the Republic chose to walk alongside fellow Ticos in this procession, and to pray in the Basilica in Cartago - in what other country would this happen? 

By posting your full throttle attack against the Catholic Church, and making light of the pilgrimage faithful walking to Cartago, you have dishonored and offended those who made the pilgrimage!  Additionally, you have offended the multitude of faithful, including yours truly, who did not participate, but read your attack in A.M. Costa Rica!

Next, the Catholic Church, despite all of her flaws, has an unmatched history of providing social services (yes, "humans acting in the name of religion"!) to those in need, homeless, hungry and orphaned!  The Church is recognized around the world, to this day, for it's social services, and for weaving "the social fabric" of human kindness and compassion!  I know this first hand, from many years of volunteer services, under the auspices of the Catholic Church, helping displaced families in San Diego, serving meals to homeless men in a Catholic shelter in Seattle, and working in a Catholic orphanage in Tecate, Mexico.

Your article has many cutting barbs in it, barbs that are offensive and in poor taste!  Shame on you for this! And shame on A.M. Costa Rica for publishing them on the heels of a major national religious event, an event that I felt honored and humbled to witness for the first time.  And lest we forget, we are visitors in a country that is constitutionally Catholic!  We have an obligation to be respectful of the Costa Rican culture and the faith of the majority of the people!
Michael Connolly
Santa Cecilia de Heredia

Religion was not the cause
of 20th century casualties

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It is sad that Jo chose the most devout procession outside of Holy Week to attack religion and the Catholic Church.  I always find it mystifying when people move to a predominantly Catholic country and then complain about the Church, which is something I see very often on English-language Web sites from places like Costa Rica.

I'll see articles telling newly arrived expatriates that they are now living in a country that doesn't do things like they're used to and new expats are urged to patiently accept the new culture they've arrived in  - except, of course, if religion is involved.  A letter to the editor is too limited a space to explain the Church's teaching on sexuality, abortion, IVF, and marriage, so I would encourage people to buy the Catechism of the Catholic Church (or find a free copy online) and read the teachings themselves. 

These teachings help us treat each other with respect and dignity (including the new life inside the womb).  The state rightly-so must deal with civil issues, but the Church is well within her right to deal with issues of faith and morals.  It is the state that is interfering with the Church's role in society and not vice-versa.  To then call it a theocracy when the Church is performing their God-given duty is incredibly biased and inaccurate.  In fact, it is precisely because of the state's interference (and manipulation) of religion that has been any of the so-called religious wars you mention in your op-ed.

I therefore reject the inaccurate claim of Jo and others that religion has caused so many wars and destruction.  In just the 20th century, communism (an atheist ideology) was responsible for roughly 100 million deaths (that we know of).  Hitler killed 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews in the death camps, all based on their race.  Additionally, World War II resulted in nearly 100 million deaths (and countless wounded).  World War 1,  based on nationalism and political alliances, caused over 65 million casualties.  These 276 million casualties are from just a few non-religious conflicts of the 20th Century. If Jo still insists that this is nothing compared to the death and destruction in the name of religion, then she has a major and irrational bias against religion because her views are clearly not based on reality.

The Church teaches that chastity is the key to every state in our lives. If we're not married, we should abstain from sex, and if we are married, we should engage in sex only with our spouse. This is how you end the spread of sexual transmitted diseases and the occurrences of unplanned pregnancies of single teenage mothers.  The problem isn't a lack of sex education. The problem is that people aren't living their faith or being taught the faith correctly, and that's the fault of the parents and, sadly, the Church.  And instead of calling for the further collapse of morals in civil society, the Baby Boomers who gave us legalized contraception, abortion-on-demand, the sexual revolution, no-fault divorce, swinging, and God only knows how much more sexual deviancy and diseases, need to just retire in peace and allow this future generation to clean up the mess they've created.
Jason Edwards
South Bound Brook, New Jersey

A person's real identity
is their true religion

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Charlie Rose on TV last night was talking with Jim Holt who has written a book called "Why do We Exist?"  Charlie quoted from the book:  "Philosophy is a road to nowhere that leads to nothing."

Jim Holt also says:  "If God exists, then maybe God also asks himself the same question we ask ourselves:  'Why do I exist?'"

Well, I must say all these questions about God and religion are truly fascinating. But Holt admits that this kind of thinking might lead some to insanity.  And I must say Jim Holt himself looks rather sad and melancholy when all is said and done.

My definition of religion is:  Meaning of human existence.  It's a rather broad definition.  But why not?  So, if the meaning of my life is making lots of money then that is my religion.  When the stock market collapsed in 1929, some desperate people threw themselves out of tall buildings because they lost faith in the money god. Their god had failed them.  They had lost their money and they had therefore lost their identity.  Without an identity their life had no meaning.

I may make my work or my profession the meaning of my life and so my work becomes my religion and I become identified with my work.

For Don Juan and Casanova the meaning of human existence was the conquest of women, so the conquest of women was their religion. Tree-huggers and environmentalists worship nature, so nature-worship is their religion.  Humanitarians love humanity so humanitarianism is their religion, never mind that humanity is an abstraction and doesn't really exist.

Then there are all the addicts of one kind and another who make a religion out of cocaine, porn, marijuana, TV, sport (and football - some say football is the opium of the Costa Ricans).  And so there are as many religions as there are people with different meanings to their lives.

Thus there are many more religions than just the evangelicals, the Lutherans, the Catholics, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Islamists and so on.  But there is no denying that the history of the Old Testament is a history of wars.  And if we look at the New Testament, from the time from Christ onwards, until the present day, so that too has been a history of wars without end.

It is all a question of identity.  We identify with our religion, and when someone challenges our religion, we fight back tooth and nail.  We fight back to defend our identity.  Find out what a person's real identity is and you will find his true religion, the true meaning of his life.  Where a man's heart is, there will his treasure be also - and his religion!

What if there is no God?  Then man is god, because man is the next highest intelligence in the universe after God, so man is god or god-becoming -  after he has conquered all the mysteries of the universe, conquered the last enemy death, conquered time and space, conquered the mystery of birth, the mystery of eternity, the mystery of life. After all, some do say that science will conquer all.  What they are saying in fact is that the meaning of history is the attempt of man to see himself as god, after he has conquered all the mysteries of the universe.  Well, isn't that what modern man is attempting to do?   Medical science, for example, is seeking to conquer all the diseases and eventually death itself.  NASA is attempting to conquer space.  All the other scientists are dedicated to penetrating all the mysteries of the universe.  Is this not religion?  The meaning of their lives is to penetrate all these mysteries.

Why does no one ever talk about this religion of the man-god that might also be behind so many insurrections, revolutions, and wars before we finally arrive at a New World Order, a Promised Land flowing with milk and honey, paradise, the kingdom of heaven on earth, Erewhon, Utopia or whatever?  The world is full of messianic political leaders full of promises or a glorious future for mankind.

"Eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge," says the serpent in Genesis, "and ye surely shall not die, but become as God."

Could it be that modern, enlightened, 21st century man, is still being inspired by ancient Biblical myths?  That the meaning of history is the attempt of man to see himself as god?  Although Lord Byron had another idea:  "Those who know the most, must mourn the deepest truth, Alas, the Tree of Knowledge is not the Tree of Life."  Yes, indeed, religion and death appear to be intertwined.

Desmond McReynolds
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 155
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Big earthquakes happen
randomly, study says

By the Seismological Society of America

The past decade has been plagued with what seems to be a cluster of large earthquakes, with massive quakes striking Sumatra, Chile, Haiti and Japan since 2004.

Some researchers have suggested that this cluster has occurred because the earthquakes may be communicating across large distances, possibly triggering each other. But a new analysis by Tom Parsons and Eric Geist concludes that the cluster could just as well be the result of random chance.

Each of the devastating quakes in the 2000s drew huge media coverage and required extensive rebuilding and economic restoration. The intense interest in the earthquakes has led some to wonder if this is an age of great quakes, similar to a global cluster of quakes in the 1960s.

It’s important to know whether these clusters occur because big earthquakes trigger others across the world, Parsons and Geist say, in order to predict whether more severely destructive quakes might be on the way.

To determine if the quake clusters in the 1960s and 2000s could be attributed to random chance, the researchers looked at the timing between the world’s largest earthquakes, magnitude 8.3 and above, at one-year intervals during the past 100 years. They compared simulated lists of large quakes and the list of real quakes during this time with the between-quake intervals expected from a random process.

The intervals between the real-life large quakes are similar to what would be expected from a random process, they found. In other words, the global hazard of large earthquakes is constant in time. Except in the case of local aftershocks, the probability of a new large quake occurring isn’t related to past global quakes.

This could be disappointing news for researchers who thought global communication between quakes might offer a way to predict the most severe seismic activity. But there also may be some good news after a decade of destruction. If global great earthquakes are occurring at random, the authors say, then a specific number of quakes that cluster together within a short time is unlikely to be repeated in a similar way over a 100-year span.

Three quakes near Quepos.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A flurry of three earthquakes took place in the Quepos area Saturday.

The first was at 6:06 a.m. and had a magnitude of 2.9. The epicenter was estimated by the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica to be just one shore near Pal Seco.

Two other quakes were both estimated at 3.2 magnitude. They were at 8:38 a.m. and at 4:10 p.m. Both epicenters were estimated to be off shore from Quepos and Manuel Antonio in the Pacific.

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