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These stories were published Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 155
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Giving their all for science

Rock Ice is winner
in beer taste test

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rock Ice, the beer aimed at the youthful market, got the top marks in an A.M. Costa Rica taste test of Cervercería Costa Rica products.

Three staff members, with a combined century of experience in drinking beer, took on five brands early Tuesday. They were less than impressed, despite frequent praise by expats of Costa Rican beers.

Imperial, the lager with the highest sales in the country, came off poorly in a comparison with the other beers. "Skunky," "least obnoxious" and "strong aftertaste" were the general comments about the brew. The beer is 4.0 percent alcohol.


Part I of Beer Report
HERE!


Pilsen, the faux German brand, was found to be stronger and more hoppy, but the panel trio said it lacks a clear taste and is less fizzy than Imperial. This brand has 4.5 percent alcohol.

Rock Ice with 4.7 percent alcohol demonstrated a cleaner taste than the other brands. It was sweeter but without a sugar taste. There was no aftertaste of the very smooth brew.

Barvaria Dark with 4.3 percent alcohol was characterized by its deeper, woody taste that coats the tongue, said the panel. It was fizzy but not overpowering. The brown beer is meant to cover that segment of the market.

Heineken, the Dutch brand made here under license, has 4.0 percent alcohol and tastes exactly the same as Heineken elsewhere. It is strong, bitter with a strong aftertaste that reminded two of the panel of the scent of skunk.

The two Barvaria alternatives, gold and light, were not tested, although one of the panel prefers gold in his day-to-day drinking.

Two of the panel members were unequivocal in selecting Rock Ice as the best of all the beers tasted. A third panel member leaned that way but with a certain feeling for Barvaria Dark.

All three agreed that a pint of Carlsbad or Murphy’s stout, both unavailable here, would have walked away with the panel’s approval. One panelist, bred in Milwaukee, Wisc., got a sudden hankering for an MGD.

But they also agreed that after the third beer, nobody cares.

Where 
do they
come from?

You have seen the little bottles. We visited the place where all those little orchids are put in vials.

HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica/
Saray Ramírez Vindas

West Nile virus
death toll reaches 4

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that local and state health agencies across the country have reported 88 cases of West Nile virus in 2002, resulting in four deaths. 

In a press conference Monday, Julie Gerberding, a physician and director of Center for Disease Control, said the human cases this year are concentrated in three states while 34 states have reported the occurrence of the virus in mosquitoes or birds.

The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and can develop into a form of encephalitis — brain inflammation — and can be fatal to the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Ms. Gerberding said only one in five people who become infected will develop any symptoms.

Only one in 150 infected will progress to the most severe symptoms, which include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and, rarely, death.

Ms. Gerberding praised local authorities for their response to the disease outbreak, and their efforts to control it through aggressive mosquito control efforts.

The disease was first identified in the United States in 1999. Nine people died from the virus in 2001, the highest number of any year since first detected. The 88 cases reported so far in 2002 exceed the total for previous years.

"There’s no panic. We’re not in a crisis mode," Ms. Gerberding said in the telephone press conference. "This is certainly not unexpected evolution, based on what we’ve learned in the last three years."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides extensive background and information about the disease and its prevention at the following Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/
westnile/2002spotlight.htm

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Seed pods

Racks of germinated seeds

The long wait is over
The orchids are in bottles for a very serious reason
Have you ever wondered who puts all those orchids in those little bottles?

You have seen the displays around San José, mainly in the tourist stores. Row after row of 4-inch (10-cms.) sealed bottles with a tiny plant waiting to be adopted.

The muscle behind this product are two young men, Mauricio Lemus, 28, production manager. and Alfredo Valerín, 26, general manager of Orquideas del Bosque.

The two partners never imagined that what began as a hobby would become an environmental conservation project for the orchids.  The company does everything legal with goverment permission and even includes a little export permit with each tiny bottle.
 
Photos and text
by Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In addition to the displays of their product and sales in 115 Costa Rican stores, the company experiences a steady, increasing presence on the Internet, mostly to foreign buyers.

The key aspect of the orchids is that the plant stays in the sealed bottle during the early part of its life when it is most vulnerable to fatal plant diseases. Six months to a year later, they can be transplanted to normal orchid life.

Orquideas del Bosque partners say that in comparison to its competitors, it offers 76 different types of orchids, rotated by season, many more than the four or five offered by others.

In their compact but complex nursery in Rorhmoser west of San José, the firm maintains between 450 and 500 species of mother orchids, the great majority of them being donations, gifts or rescued plants, said Lemus.

American orchids live suspended in trees, and 

Glassware gets a flame sterilization

Alfredo Valerín and Mauricio Lemus have surrounded themselves with orchids.

hardly any are able to live in the soil. Suspended they obtain the humidity, temperature and the ideal conditions for their survival.

The partners call their orchid-raising technique "in-vitro," because the controlled space is created with the temperature and environment that the plant needs away from contaminants or conditions that would risk the life of these exotic plants.

The young men combine scientific experiment and investigation with their work.

The process is simple but has taken the partners more than five years to perfect. They are producing now about 500 vials, each with a tiny orchid, every month. Part of the process is sterilization of the glassware to eliminate possible plant diseases.

The company does its own pollination of the orchids, then harvests the seeds from the mature bulbs that are created.

The seeds are germinated within clean bottles in a special nutrient gel. Transplanting takes place in a clean room and the tiny shoots each get their own tiny bottles. The little bottles have all the nutrients the plant will need for six months to a year. A big mistake by some buyers is to remove the plant from the tiny bottle before it is able to fight airborn diseases.

At the end of six months or a year, the maturing shoot is transplanted into coco fibers or other material to be suspended in a permanent location. Then it takes from four to seven years for the plant to bloom.

In nature, only 4 percent of orchid plants live to maturity. With the in-vitro technique, this percentage is raised to 50, according to the firm.

Each plant costs between 3,000 to 4,000 colons ($8.25 to $11) retail in Costa Rica. Mail shipments to the United States are higher.

The firm maintains a Web site at:

 http://www.costaricanorchids.com

Violent protests
quelled in Haiti

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

GONAIVES, Haiti — Authorities say they are re-establishing order here after several days of riots and anti-government demonstrations. 

Police officials say security forces are back patrolling this city north of Port-au-Prince, one day after tear gas failed to break up a violent mob, and riot police were forced to retreat. 

Haiti's most recent bout of unrest began Friday, when a tractor was used to crash through a prison wall. More than 150 inmates escaped, including several street thugs convicted of committing violence against leaders of Haiti's opposition coalition. 

The escapees, including many formerly loyal to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, declared the president a traitor and called for a nationwide uprising against him. For three days, anti-Aristide demonstrators took to the streets of Gonaives, torching buildings, blocking roads with burning tires and firing guns into the air. 

Both the United States and officials of the Organization of American States called on Haiti's government to restore order and apprehend the escaped inmates. Haitian officials described the protesters as nothing more than gangsters. 

A political stalemate has existed in Haiti since May of 2000, when President Aristide's Lavalas Party swept legislative elections that both the opposition and international observers said were beset with irregularities. Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas, has been cut off from most forms of foreign aid for more than three years. 

President Aristide returned to office last year after an election that was boycotted by the opposition. But public opinion polls show he is less popular today than he was during his first administration, which ended in a coup in 1991.
 

Separated twins
under close watch

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — One of the formerly conjoined Guatemalan twins has undergone more surgery at a hospital here to remove a buildup of blood from the top of her brain. 

Maria Teresa Quiej-Alvarez, 1, is now back in intensive care with her twin sister Maria de Jesus. Both are in critical but stable condition. 

Doctors at the University of California at Los Angeles medical center say the twins are doing "extremely well" given the ordeal they've been through. 

They were successfully separated early Tuesday after a more than 20-hour long procedure involving over 50 medical personnel. The twins were born in rural Guatemala with separate brains, but partially shared skulls. 

The Guatemalan government has sent a letter of thanks to the UCLA hospital, which is donating its services. The hospital has also set up a fund to recover expenses. 

The girls were born July 25, 2001, after their mother underwent an eight-day labor near their home in rural Guatemala. Among conjoined twins, only about 2 percent are joined at the head. 

Mexican bus crash
kills 32, injures others

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MÉXICO CITY, México — Police say at least 32 people have been killed and at least 16 more injured when a bus carrying Christian pilgrims crashed into a toll booth in the west central state of Michoacan.

Officials say the bus brakes apparently failed near the town of Zinapecuaro early Tuesday, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of México City. 

The injured are being treated at nearby hospitals. Police are investigating the accident. 

The passengers, all members of the "Light of the World" Christian organization, were traveling between the Pacific Coast state of Guerrero and the city of Guadalajara.

U.S. supports Brazil's
economic policies

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil is following the "right economic policies" said Paul O'Neill, U.S. Treasury secretary, following his meetings here with Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and other senior government officials.

In a press conference Monday, O'Neill said that he reiterated the Bush administration's support for Brazil and its economic initiatives during the meetings with Cardoso, his chief of staff Pedro Parente and leaders of the nation's economic team.

He stressed that Brazil's continued implementation of sound economic policy is important not only for the nation, but "the economic vitality of the entire hemisphere."

O'Neill also said Brazilian officials confirmed reports from the International Monetary Fund that Brazil's talks with the IMF were going "very well." He added that the Bush administration wants "to be supportive through the IMF of providing a response to Brazil that's consistent with the needs of Brazil."

In an announcement Sunday, O'Neill indicated that the $1.5 billion bridge loan the United States extended to Uruguay followed a conclusion by international financial institutions that action needed to be taken. 

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank say they will quickly boost their lending to Uruguay which faced a run on its currency last week. The $1.5 billion U.S. loan to Uruguay will be repaid once the IMF disburses its additional aid to the country. 
 
Good grief, Sharon!

Has it been 37 years?


 

Death threats taint
Uribe’s inauguration

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — President-elect Alvaro Uribe is set to be inaugurated today amid unprecedented security and leftist rebel threats to kill him. 

Twenty thousand soldiers and police will be deployed throughout Bogota, while Colombian Air Force jets and a U.S. surveillance plane patrol the skies. 

Bogota's international airport will be closed during the inauguration ceremony at the parliament building. Authorities fear rebels may try to crash a plane into the building in a Sept. 11-style suicide attack. 

President-elect Uribe has survived several attempts on his life and is openly despised by the rebels fighting in the country's 38-year civil war. On Tuesday, Uribe attended a special mass in his hometown of Medellin, telling Colombians not to expect him to perform miracles. 

Uribe has pledged to get tough with rebels and right-wing paramilitary forces, which have been designated as terrorist groups by the United States. The president-elect has also pledged to crack down on corruption. 

Bolivian president
promises more jobs 

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LA PAZ, Bolivia — The new president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, is promising, in his words, "jobs, jobs and more jobs." That's a welcome promise to one of South America's poorest countries.

The wealthy businessman has held the presidency before, from 1993 to 1997. Then, he helped Bolivia take steps to improve its economy but incurred criticism for privatizing much of the nation's industry.

This time, the 72-year-old mining millionaire wants to market Bolivia's energy-producing natural resources, such as natural gas. By doing so, he hopes to create jobs and fund projects such as road-building and outfitting rural homes with gas, electricity and running water.

But President De Lozada's path may not be easy. The U.S.-educated businessman faces a fragmented Congress with an opposition led by the indigenous Evo Morales, his presidential rival and champion of coca farmers.

De Lozada campaigned on a promise to work with the United States to eradicate Bolivia's coca crops, which form the raw ingredient in the drug cocaine. 

Bush signs bill
for fast track

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President George W. Bush has signed into law the legislation giving him powerful authority to negotiate trade agreements and extending the Andean Trade Preference Act.

In a White House ceremony Tuesday, Bush signed the bill as Vice President Cheney, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and the secretaries of state, agriculture and labor and leading members of Congress from both parties looked on.

Trade promotion authority, otherwise known as fast track, was given final passage by Congress just the previous week, more than a year after Bush requested it. Under the trade promotion authority Congress restricts itself only to approve or reject a negotiated trade agreement, within strict time limits and without amendments.

Since the previous grant expired early in 1994, other attempts to reauthorize trade promotion authority failed over labor and environmental issues. 
 
Professional Directory

A.M. Costa Rica debuts its professional and service directory where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may provide a description of what they do.

If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Dentists


United States Dentist in Costa Rica: Dr. Peter S Aborn, Prosthodontics and general dentistry private practice. 25 years in New York City. 5 years in Costa Rica. Professor and director of postgraduate prosthodontics Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. Former chief of prosthodontics Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City. Education: N.Y.U College of Dentistry; Westchester County Medical Center; Eastman Dental Center; University of Rochester Graduate School of Medicine and Dentistry. Location: 300 meters from the U.S. Embassy. Telephone: 232-9225. Cellular 379-2963. E-mail: jopetar@amnet.co.cr
7/15/02 

Lawyers


American/Costa Rican attorney located in Costa Rica. Specializing in business law, commercial law, real estate sales, immigration law. Lic. Gregory Kearney Lawson. KEARNEY LAWSON & Asoc. Tel/Fax: (506) 221-9462 gkearney_lawson@hotmail.com
7/15/02

Legal and Consulting Specialists
for
Foreign Residents and Business Owners
• Reliable and Responsive •  Excellent References
Stafford, Obregón y Valle
• Consultants • Lawyers • Notaries
Apdo. 11846-1000, San Jose, Costa Rica
Tel: (506) 253-9655   Fax: (506) 280-4576 
Cel: (506) 386-9324
Email: ulimar@costarica.net
7/16/02

Real estate agents

Coldwell Banker Coastal Properties Escazu
www.coldwellbankercostarica.com
Manager Nancy Bruno
nbrdsing@racsa.co.cr
289-5790 office
387-6820 cell
Located in the new Plaza Itskazu, next to the Court Yard Marriott Escazu #203
7/16/02

Web design

Professional Web site design and development in English, Spanish and Italian. Our services include: design and layout of Web site, search engine optimization and submission, Web  site hosting, e-commerce solutions (sell your products on your website by accepting credit cards online), registration of domain names and professional Internet consulting. We have complete 'one price' Web site packages that include design, marketing and hosting at low prices and includes a listing on our Web sites.  Visit www.istarmedia.net or e-mail us at webmaster@istarmedia.net or call at 399-9642
7/16/02


 
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