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(506) 223-1327        Published Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 163       E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Scrap from gun

President Óscar Arias Sánchez beams after cutting up an assault rifle at a special gathering of his cabinet in Parque Nacional Wednesday.  Some 20 weapons were destroyed, and these represent 3,521 weapons destroyed by the government since Aug. 4 under the auspices of the United Nations.

Our story is

RACSA e-mails being blocked by blacklist
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the Internet provider, has been blacklisted for weeks by an international anti-spam organization. So e-mails from the company's servers to elsewhere frequently are rejected by the destination Internet server.

The company, a government agency, has not responded to e-mails pointing out the problem.

The organization maintaining the listing is DNS Providers Blacklist (DNS-bl). Many Internet providers use the organization's services to identify and reject unwanted messages from spam e-mailers.

Those who send an e-mail from a RACSA address sometimes receive a message that the e-mail was rejected due to the listing: "Diagnostic code: smtp;550 found in"

According to DNS Providers, the RACSA domain with the number has been banned for spamming corporate mail hubs. That firm is in Toronto, Canada.

The RACSA domain has been added "for the sole reason that has been spamming easyDNS customers."

The blacklist organization adds: "Addition to the zone with this value is done purely at the discretion of easyDNS and is not open to appeal. Domains that wind up here deserve it and it is pretty safe to filter these values at your mail hubs (you will probably eliminate a lot of spam by doing so)."
In the past, RACSA has been criticized for providing service to known spammers and for maintaining equipment in such a way that spammers elsewhere can sneak into the server and dump millions of unwanted messages that then appear to have come from a RACSA customer.

A check of the spam list at another organization,, makes the situation more complex. The domain numbers attributed to RASCA are supposed to be internal routes that are not supposed to be used for sending messages to other servers.

Spamhaus also lists additional RACSA numbers,, that were added to a block list June 4 for forwarding messages from a U.S. spammer.

It appears that workers at RACSA prevailed on Spamhaus to remove the Internet addresses from the blacklist but then the same problems continued, the Web site said.

RACSA customers should not rush out to contract services with the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. That company, RACSA parent firm and competitor, has three listings on Spamhaus since March for being a spam source and for its servers being compromised by spammers.

This means that e-mailers here have no certainty that their messages are being delivered. One solution may be to send all e-mails through Web-based services like Yahoo, G-mail or Hotmail, although sometimes servers can identify that the message originated from a RACSA or ICE account and block even these.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 163

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Sportsbook promises
to pay workers by today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

BetonSports employees will get their severance pay, the company has promised.

A spokesman for the Ministerio de Trabajo said that inspectors visited the offices of the online sportsbook Friday and were told by a manager that an agreement was reached with employees that they would be paid no later than Thursday.

As many as 2,000 persons lost jobs when the company bowed to a U.S. court order and shut down its gambling operations. These were not only persons who took bets over the telephone or on the computer but maintenance individuals and guards.

Weather turns rainy
and front due Friday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Emergency commission staffers are keeping an eye on the Caribbean coast where weather experts say a tropical front will pass probably Friday.

There have been two days of rain along the Caribbean coast, and the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that winds from the north are dying down and typical rainy season weather is about to return for the weekend with heavy downpours and thunderstorms in the mountains.

Rain will be seen on the Pacific as well as the Central Valley.

The weather bureau warned of flooding, rivers running out of their banks and landslides.

The  Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias stopped short of issuing an alert but said that it was making arrangements for possible shelters considering the expectation of heavy rains.

Costa Rica advances in tourney

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's powerhouse women's volleyball squad defeated Panamá Wednesday night three sets to zero in the second day of the XIV Copa Centroamericana.

Costa Rica won 25-10, 25-9 and 25-10 to share the tournament lead with Guatemala.

Our reader's opinion

Quintile statistics give
false snapshot of nation

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Thanks for helping us keep abreast with tax changes in Costa Rica

Due to the polarized politic in the class wars quintile income statistics are often misused or simply misinterpreted. What they include, do not include, the difference between a static graph and trending, upward and downward movement and why, etc. This from your article is minor but telling.
“An introduction says that in the last 16 years the income of the lower 20 percent of the population increased only 6.8 percent while the income of the richest 20 percent increased 96 percent. That means the richest fifth earns 20 times the average of the poorest fifth, it said”.
Why the 16 year start date? Scary to ask, but just to see the vagaries of this sort of time comparison choose any Mutual fund. Test its performance simply with Yahoo against, say, the S&P and Dow. Then vary the start year and watch how different each graph is. Which if any say something accurate about fund performance, or in our case rich and poor income performance.
Quintile economic measurement always has a grand problem. When people do well, the Socialist side points and says see the poor are not being helped. That is because as incomes rise (we want that, right?), people tend to move upwards from quintile to quintile. While there is no exit at the top quintile, an abundance of jobs causes inflow of former non-workers, older workers, part-time workers, and new workers into usually the bottom quintile.

When this occurs, the bottom and top income quintile expand. (Your example does not show the income division of all earners, just increases from a start date.).

This expansion of the top and bottom quintile is known as the “dumb bell”  effect. It occurs in expanding economies. Socialists use this as an illustration of the expanding poor, or disappearing middle class, but it is not accurate. Simply using a snapshot statistic does not illustrate the truth. As an aside, beware of snapshot stats on health care costs.
Studies do show (Don’t you love that phrase) in the U.S.A.  that people are not static and tend to move up and down over a lifetime. Very few spend their entire lives either rich (top) or poor (bottom.
Lastly, the paragraph you quote says the “richest fifth earns 20 times the average of the poorest fifth. Not true, it does not indicate that at all. It says the increase experienced by the top fifth over the lower fifth was 20 times greater. Which clearly shows the top fifth as under-rewarded in this economy.

Simply put, the top fifth increased its production way more than 20 times the wealth creation increase at the bottom  fifth. Bottom quintile workers produce very, very little, while the top produces (in the private sector anyway) more and more to stay even with competition. The increases in the Costa Rica economy do not reflect the top earners value as producers.
Now I will not even begin to note the underground economy, or social welfare and free education and tax benefits that add to the bottom 20 percent's income.

I won’t touch fair, or justice, or common good, or other such non-definable terms people love to trot out. Nor will I point out that taxing people with more has never resulted in a rise in the income of the bottom quintile, just a brain drain for those countries that use it and a change of the top into less productive less taxing behavior.

However i would like to ask, since just about all of us fall victim to the jerry rigging of stats to support our chosen view, why we do not choose to learn more about quantitative measurement so that we could actually have a common language about wealth creation and a real debate.

Sadly that would sink the aspirations of those folks that want to “tax the rich,”  add services for the people, and support the culture with higher prices and trade walls .... so it ain’t gonna happen.
George Chapogas
Playas del Coco  

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 163

JonBenét case left one strong lesson on management
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

A relevant dimension of the JonBenét Ramsey murder case is the way the Boulder, Colorado, Police Department was unprepared for a major crime.

The so-called People's Republic of Boulder is known for its laid-back attitude and progressive thought. This is not a place where they want policemen to play Colombo or, worse still, Dirty Harry.

An analysis on the news

So when the call came in from Patsy Ramsey that day after Christmas in 1996, policemen began making errors, perhaps intimidated by the high social status of the family. John Ramsey, the father, was a prominent electronics manufacturer.

The Ramsey home, a crime scene, became a gathering place for friends and neighbors. No thorough search took place. Potential evidence was compromised. John Ramsey and a friend were those who found the dead girl in a basement storeroom.

For lack of a better target, the police zeroed in on the parents as the prime suspects.

I generated a flurry of criticism and protests six weeks later when I said in a Boulder Camera news article that the investigators' handling of information was "arrogant" and that citizens must hold them accountable. I continued:
"Who, indeed, is ultimately responsible for solving the murder? Not the detectives, not the police chief, not the mayor, not the city council. It is the people of Boulder. They voted. They picked these people ... People get the government they deserve." Boulderites were outraged.

By that time from my observation post in a nearby college I could tell that the investigators did not know how to proceed.  Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby was someone who could not stand criticism. He had shown that to me earlier on an unrelated matter.
Within a year, the department experienced something like a meltdown as individuals resigned, law suits were filed and, as they would say in Boulder, bad karma filled the air.

The case entered the news again Wednesday when a former teacher was arrested in Thailand to face a charge of murdering the photogenic 6-year-old. Certainly he will be subjected to a DNA test. The Boulder investigators waiting seven years before they sent crime scene DNA to the U.S. FBI for testing.

My criticism of the Boulder police was based, in part, on detailed information from Brian Morgan, one of Colorado's best defense lawyers and the man hired by John Ramsey. Morgan appeared before one of my college classes and surprisingly pulled no punches as he outlined the clues missed and the mistakes made by the Boulder police.

He spoke of the unidentified footprint in the Ramsey home. He countered the police argument that no intruder had left footprints in the snow by pointing out that there was no snow around the Ramsey home.

Morgan's opinions were backed up later by an extensive investigation by retired detective Lou Smits, who concluded that an intruder killed the girl, not one of the three family members within the home.

Still, for two more years, investigators kept the Ramseys in their sights and even brought the case before a grand jury.

Not until 2003 did a new Boulder County district attorney conclude that the intruder theory carried more weight than the idea that Patsy Ramsey killed her own daughter.

Boulder is a long way from Costa Rica, but dysfunctional institutions exist here, too. The training and philosophies of government entities are only apparent when there is a crisis. Then, the citizens ultimately are responsible for how the institutions perform. Many citizens are unaware of this fact, and this may be the best lesson that can be drawn from the sad tale of JonBenét Ramsey.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
A fake Óscar Arias pretends to smash valued national institutions like the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad in this skit put on for the benefit of the national press  Wednesday. The protest near Parque Nacional attracted newspeople while the real Arias spoke. The Movimiento de Acción Popular took credit for the show. The group wants a national development plan instead of a free trade treaty with the United States

Arias marks 100 days with arms destruction and tree
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

To mark his 100 days in office President Óscar Arias Sánchez held a ceremony to destroy unwanted weapons and to help to young gunshot victims to plan a tree.

Arias also turned the event in the Parque Nacional into a religious one with prayers and invited religious leaders, including a Muslim, to attend.

Also invited were foreign ambassadors and the resident United Nations official.

The event began with a march of students, including those from the Escuela Buena Ventua Corrales and the Colegio de Señoritas and ended with a song from the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil.

Later Arias released a list of his accomplishments to newspeople and then went on television to deliver a speech about his accomplishments.

The weapons destroyed also served to underline the program of Arias for an international treaty on arms sales.

Arias told the crowd that the current weapons law in Costa Rica is lax and ought to be revised.

He also said that he was rectifying an historical error by removing the Costa Rican Embassy in Israel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv —  where most embassies are located. And he reaffirmed Israel's right to exist without the criminal menace of terrorism.

The location of the embassy was controversial, and Arias said he was following international law and U.N. resolutions that seek to define the status of Jerusalem.

The tree-planting was symbolic of Arias' idea of sowing peace.

A group of about 50 persons that included representatives of unions and political organizations like Movimiento de Acción Popular Urbana and the Movimiento de la Reforma Agraria as well as university students tried to interrupt both Arias and Fernando Berrocal, the security minister.

A handout said that the first 100 days of the Arias administration did not inspire confidence. The protesters seemed to be against the free trade treaty with the United States, which is due for a vote in several months in the Asamblea Legislativa.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Óscar Arias observes while schoolboy helps plant tree.

Police and presidential security agents try to calm down the euphoria and the noise of the protesters. They continued with whistles and shouting phrases like  "hypocrite" and "selling the country" to try to attract the attention of the president. He kept talking, but newspeople and cameramen rushed to the protest.

A lot of the accomplishments for which Arias is taking credit actually are processes continuing from the prior administration, like the start of rail service to Heredia or marking lines on the Circumvalación highway. Others are proposals his administration has made but are not firm yet, like bills presented to the legislature.

The 100-day marker stems from Franklin Roosevelt's first 100 days in office when a compliant Congress passed all of the New Deal legislation the president offered. The country was at the depths of the Great Depression, and Roosevelt inspired confidence.

Carlos David Salazar Valverde of Colegio Josefita Jurado and Steven Adrian Gómez Brenes of Colegio Ricardo Jimenez in Tejar del Guarco planted the symbolic roble sabana tree. Both youngsters were victims of stray bullets and were hospitalized.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 163

Much-sought drug lord captured by U.S. Coast Guard
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. authorities have arrested Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, leader of one of Mexico's most notorious drug cartels.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said Wednesday that the U.S. Coast Guard captured the Mexican drug lord Monday when it intercepted a U.S. registered sport fishing vessel in the Pacific Ocean.

McNulty said eight adults and three children on board the vessel were detained.  He said all are being transported by the Coast Guard to California.

U.S. authorities say the Arellano-Felix family gang ran a large drug smuggling operation in Tijuana, Mexico.  Family members were indicted in the United States in 2003 for racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana.

The United States had offered a reward of up to five million dollars for information on Arellano-Felix and others in his group.
In a press conference McNulty said that the Arellano Felix organization negotiated directly with Colombian cocaine trafficking organizations, including the left-wing rebels, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, for the purchase of multi-ton shipments of cocaine and received those shipments by sea and air in Mexico, and then arranged for smuggling of the cocaine into the United States.

The indictment also alleges that the Arellano Felix organization recruited, trained and armed groups of bodyguards and assassins responsible for protecting the leaders of the organization, and for conducting assassinations of rival drug traffickers, suspected cooperators and Mexican law enforcement and military personnel; along with members of the news media.

The charges specifically allege 20 murders in the United States and Mexico that were carried out by the Arellano Felix organization.

The Coast Guard stopped the boat about 15 miles west of La Paz, Mexico in international waters. Officials had a tip that Arellano-Felix would be on the boat.

Colombian police cracking down on right-wing paramilitary organization
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Colombian police have begun arresting leaders of a paramilitary group for failing to cooperate with authorities under a peace deal.

Officials say at least five leaders of the United Self Defense Forces were taken into custody Wednesday. This is the same group that send representatives two weeks ago to ask Costa Rican President Óscar Arias Sánchez to help them negotiate.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has criticized the paramilitary leaders for failing to agree to questioning by officials about alleged atrocities committed during decades of fighting leftist rebels.
He also has threatened to revoke parts of a 2004 peace plan, such as a ban on extraditing paramilitary leaders to the United States on drug charges.

Some paramilitary leaders have said they may abandon the deal because it does not offer enough protections.

More than 30,000 paramilitaries have turned in weapons under the peace plan aimed at ending Colombia's four-decade conflict.

The rightist paramilitary groups were created to help fight leftist rebels, but later became heavily involved in drug trafficking. They had important contacts in the nation's police and military.

Long-time dictator of Paraguay, Alfredo Stroessner, dies in exile in Brazil
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Paraguayan dictator Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, 93, who ruled the South American nation for 35 years, has died.

Officials at a Brazilian hospital announced the death Wednesday, days after Stroessner was placed in intensive care following a hernia operation. The longtime dictator lived in Brazil since 1989, when he was toppled by a military coup and fled his country.
In recent years, Paraguay's government had sought to question Stroessner about alleged human rights violations under his rule, including the disappearance of hundreds of political opponents.

Critics accused his administration of corruption and of cooperating with other Latin American governments in "Operation Condor" to repress leftist groups.

Stroessner took power in a 1954 coup and became one of the longest serving leaders in the 20th century.

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Jo Stuart
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