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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Monday, Aug. 20, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 165                          Email us
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Romney pledge of active Latin role draws criticism
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Mitt Romney campaign is promising a more active policy in Latin America if he is elected president.

“Under a Romney administration, the United States will pursue an active role in Latin America by supporting democratic allies and market-based economic relationships, containing destabilizing internal forces such as criminal gangs and terrorists, and opposing destabilizing outside influences such as Iran,” says a white paper produced by Mitt Romney for President, Inc.

Latin America occupies only a small portion of the foreign policy outline, which is titled “An American Century: A Strategy to Secure America's Enduring Interests and Ideals.”

The policy statement about Latin America quickly generated criticisms.  Veronica Salas, a research associate at the left-wing Council on Hemispheric Affairs, characterized it this way and quoted segments of the candidate's speeches:

“By stressing the inherent superiority of the United States in his speeches, Romney has fed the distaste for domineering foreign influences in Latin America. His imagery only strokes discord, as it situates the United States on the moral high ground bearing the 'eternal torch of decency,' a 'lantern of liberty,' while the rest of the world presumably stoops in boorish decay.

According to the white paper, Latin America figured in eight actions that Romney would take during the first 100 days in office. The white paper said he would launch a campaign for economic opportunity in Latin America.

The campaign would capitalize on the benefits arising from the ratification of the Colombian and Panamanian free trade agreements to launch a robust public diplomacy and trade promotion campaign in Latin America that contrasts the benefits of democracy, free trade, and economic opportunity with the ills caused by the authoritarian model of Venezuela and Cuba.

The policy outline is certainly combative: “Decades of remarkable progress in Latin America toward security, democracy, and increased economic ties with America are currently under threat. Venezuela and Cuba are leading a virulently anti-American 'Bolivarian' movement across Latin America that seeks to undermine institutions of democratic governance and economic opportunity. The Bolivarian movement threatens U.S. allies such as Colombia, has interfered with regional cooperation on key issues such as illicit drugs and counterterrorism, has provided safe haven for drug traffickers, has encouraged regional terrorist organizations, and has even invited Iran and foreign terrorist organizations like Hezbollah into the region.”

Naturally the white paper said that President Barack Obama “has done little to reverse these disturbing trends and has to some degree exacerbated them. He has neglected our democratic allies in the region while reaching out to those nations that are working against our interests and values.”

The Romney policy statement also promises to build on an existing anti-drug framework to create a unified hemispheric task force on crime and terrorism.

The policy statement also calls for more military training, cooperating and sharing of intelligence to combat narcoterrorists.


elections

Got something to say?

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Have an opinion on the U.S. presidential elections?  A.M. Costa Rica welcomes your views, but with the conditions specified earlier in the year.

One letter on the topic is permitted per reader until the Oct. 15 deadline.

Letters should address the campaign and not attack the comments of other readers.

Send your letters to editor@amcostarica.com.


The statement also said that “Romney will use the full powers of the presidency to complete an impermeable border fence protecting our southern frontier from infiltration by illegal migrants, trans-national criminal networks, and terrorists.”

Although the Romney white paper came out last October, it gained new currency with the candidate's speech July 24 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars where he spoke of links between Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Hezbollah.

Ms. Salas dismisses the policy statement as mostly rhetoric: “Certainly, a look at Romney’s proposals reveals mere talking points cemented with slogans over substance. For as much as he has attempted to portray Obama’s stances as competing with his own while distancing himself from George W. Bush, Romney may actually be too similar to his would-be predecessors for Latin America’s well being.”

“If he had his way after the campaign season, Romney would no doubt draw Latin America back to the days of the Monroe Doctrine, in which the United States alone could decide which powers meddled in the Americas.” she said.

Obama suffered a public relations disaster in Cartagena, Colombia, at the Summit of the Americas when the media spotlight focused on Secret Service agents and other U.S. employees cavorting with local prostitutes. Other countries also were critical of the administration's Cuban policies and the continual U.S. war on drugs.

Obama has replaced his Latin American adviser, Dan Restrepo.

The Romney policy statement, some 43 pages, addresses China and the candidate's hope to involve the country in some form of trade agreement to limit the current predatory policies. However, the document fails to address the expansion of Chinese influence in Latin America as well as in Costa Rica. Of course, the Obama administration has been concentrating on the war against cocaine smuggling and has given Costa Rica patrol boats and backing to build highway check points. China gave a soccer stadium.


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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Our reader's opinion
U.S. expats can vote
even if they live here


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am writing to share some important information concerning how U.S. expats living in Costa Rica can vote in the 2012 state and federal elections.

I grew up in a political family where the idea of not voting in an election, whether it was to choose the next dog catcher or president, was not only unthinkable, it was downright sinful! And the fact that I am now a legal resident of another country has not stopped me from wanting to exercise my right to participate in the political process. Even as an expat living in Costa Rica, I still vote in U.S. elections.

Surprised? In fact, United States’ citizens residing outside the U. S. are entitled to vote in federal elections.  Yet many do not, either because they are unaware of this fact or do not know how the process works.  So, I thought I would share information about how to participate in Election 2012.

For U.S. citizens, age 18 years or older, residing outside the U.S., here is how it works:

1.You can vote to elect federal offices, namely president, vice-president, and members of Congress (U.S. House and Senate). Note that a few states allow voting in state and local elections, but you will need to check your state’s requirements to be sure.

2.Your “legal state of residence” for voting purposes is the U.S. state or territory where you last resided immediately before leaving the United States. This is so, even if you didn’t own property there and/or never intend to return.

3.If your state holds a federal primary election, you can vote in that as well as the general election.  (As of this writing, most states have already held their 2012 primaries. Check with your local elections authority to find out whether you can still receive a ballot for that election.)

4.Starting with the 2010 election, anyone wishing to vote must submit a federal post card application (FPCA). Even if you’ve been voting since Earth was molten rock and never missed an election, it is strongly recommended that you submit a new application after Jan. 1 of each election year in order to avoid having your ballot challenged by your local elections authority.

5. Although staff at any U.S. embassy or consulate can assist with filling out your voter registration form or ballot request, these facilities do not serve as polling stations. All voting is through absentee ballot.

Once your local (U.S.) election authority receives your FPCA, they will confirm your eligibility and place you on their list to receive your blank absentee ballot. Your ballot will arrive via regular mail as well as electronically. You must then complete your ballot and return it by the receipt deadline.

Worried that your friendly Costa Rican mail carrier cannot find your casa located 50 meters just past the purple dumpster? No problem. Should you fail to receive a ballot, you will still have a chance to vote using a federal write-in absentee ballot. All the forms and instructions you need are available at www.VoteFromAbroad.org. If you have difficulty accessing either the Web site or the forms, feel free to contact me for assistance.
Sally Finney Timm
Atenas
Democrats Abroad of Costa Rica


How about the chickens
and the treatment here


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

On Friday we were touched by the story of Buddy the turtle/beach dog, and how a private group is trying to help him.   Apart from the Jacó group, there are others, including the P.A.W.S. people in Quepos. Started by expat women, P.A.W.S. has made strides in addressing the local unwanted pet problem, and nurtured significant community support and awareness.   Costa Rica needs individuals for this role all the more because there is no government support for humane societies, or for that matter laws and regulations regarding animal cruelty or welfare.

But after reading about Buddy, the next article was Jo Stuart’s chatty defense of eggs – cholesterol-laden yokes included. How delicious, but she wasn’t at all talking about where these eggs come from, or the possible conditions of the laying hens. I can guarantee her that these hens do not get the few extra cage inches that a bitter battle has won them in some U.S.A. jurisdictions, and would go so far to speculate that their general treatment is nothing short of shocking.  Come on Jo, as the progressive voice at A.M. Costa Rica, I challenge you to investigate industrial chicken operations in Costa Rica.

I doubt if they would let any visitor in to see, but it would be interesting to try. Let’s see if your defense of eggs can include the innocent creatures that produce this gastronomic bounty
R. Martin
Quepos/Toronto

 
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
 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 165
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Study shows that price of cement has not risen significantly
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio has released the results of a study demonstrating that the price of cement has not changed significantly since one company abandoned Costa Rica and left the industry again in the hands of just two firms.

The departing company, Cementos David, purchased full-page advertisements in numerous Spanish-language newspapers May 1 to publicly announce its opinion that Costa Rica is a bad climate for investment and that it was moving operations to Panamá.

A week later, the ministry was touring stores and collecting data on Portland cement to determine if the price was rising now that only two competitors remained in the industry.  Cementos David had called the firms a duopoly.

The study showed that prices, although higher than in the United States, were not going up dramatically, and the ministry would not have to step in and regulate.

“It did not produce a distortion,” said ministry press officer Evelyn Arroyo Santamaría when asked how the departure affected cement prices.

Expats who build their homes here are big users of cement because many homes have poured walls and floors.

Cementos David started up in Costa Rica in 2007. The company negotiated almost unceasingly with various government ministries and courts for the right to operate the business.

The company sold bags of cement at a slightly cheaper price than its more established competitors, Cemex and Holcim. As of May it claimed to have sold 4 million bags in the 18 months it operated.

However, the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo voided Cementos David's permits and ordered it shut down, prompting the company to dramatically announce its departure from Costa Rica through newspaper advertisements.

A week later, the ministry began a two part survey on the price of cement, checking prices in 47 stores in early May and rechecking 44 of them in early July. These stores were located in seven Costa Rican cities.

The goal of the study was to look specifically for changes in price of 46 kilogram sacks of type-one Portland cement, the key ingredient in making concrete that hardens when it is combined with sand and water. The sacks in question are pure Portland cement that must be mixed with water and sand or gravel to make concrete, unlike some pre-mixed products where one must only add water.

While Cemex and Holcim do large projects using concrete batch mixing trucks that are common in the United States, cement is usually sold and transported differently in Latin America, according to Henrick Van Oss, a U. S. Geological Survey mineral commodity specialist who focuses on cement.

 “You may instead have a market for bag cement,” said Van Oss.

Although Van Oss mostly looks at the U.S. cement industry, he said that it is common in many Latin American countries, and Puerto Rico which falls within his area of study, for people to build houses, businesses and other smaller-scale projects by buying the cement in bags and mixing it with the other components on-site rather than using a mixing truck. For many consumers of cement, this means that the price per sack is more informative than the price per ton.

The survey found that the price of cement has not changed in the three months since Cementos David announced its departure, making it unnecessary for the ministry to intervene in the market to stabilize the price.

The ministry has the power to regulate prices,” said Ms. Arroya.

The survey concluded that the average price of a 46-kilogram (101-pound) bag of Holcim cement was 5,362 colons, and a bag of Cemex cement of the same size was 5,334 colons. Both are about $10.65, with a price difference of less than $.06 between the two.

Since Cementos David left, the survey found that the price of
cement
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Bags of cement on a pallet ready for delivery

a Holcim bag had gone up .9 percent and the price of a Cemex bag had gone down .54 percent, about half a percent

According to the ministry, Cementos David sold 46-kilogram bag for 5,172 colons.

Despite Cemento David's price being only about 40 U.S. cents cheaper than its competitors, the company still takes pride in lowering the price of cement for a while, said José Araya, the company's press representative.

“Most important is price, the cost for the consumer,” said Araya.

According to the prices on the Web site of Lowe’s, a U.S. home improvement store chain, bags of type-one Portland cement in the United States can vary as much as $3. A store in Austin, Texas sells a 94-pound bag of Quikrete Portland cement for $7.47, while the same bag costs $9.98 at a store in Brooklyn, New York.

Despite discrepancies in price based on location, Van Oss estimates that cement in Costa Rica is about 30 percent more expensive than it is in the United States, but he said that the prices are determined more by the Costa Rican industry’s circumstances than price-setting on the part of Cemex and Holcim.

“That doesn’t sound like an alarming price to me,” he said. “There’s nothing nefarious. It’s just the economics of what’s going.”

Van Oss listed a variety of factors that could contribute to the higher prices, which include taxes, number of competitors, and the size, age, equipment, energy efficiency and capacity of the factories producing the cement.

Additionally, Van Oss pointed out that a market that consists primarily of bagged cement will be pricier because of the cost of the bags themselves and the transportation of those bags.

The price of a metric ton (about 2,200 pounds) of cement in Costa Rica is much higher.

Although most companies do not give out prices of cement by the ton to anyone other than clients, one of Costa Rica’s producers charges 95,000 colons per metric ton (approximately $190) plus a 13 percent tax. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average price of a metric ton of cement in the United States is $91.

Van Oss also explained that these estimates do not take into account transportation costs, which drives the actual price higher.
However, even with a price that is more than 100 percent higher in the States, buying a metric ton of cement in bulk is slightly cheaper than buying a ton in bags. The price for a metric ton of cement in 50-kilogram sacks comes out to be approximately $213.

Although Van Oss said the price of cement could be a little lower if there were more companies producing it, the price is naturally going to be more expensive in small, developing countries like Costa Rica than in the United States.

“You can’t just wish there were more cement companies, because there has to be a market,” he said.

Even so, the study indicated that cement prices had been on the decline from approximately 5,700 colons in January 2011, when Cementos David closed down. During that period, Cementos David’s prices had gone down 9.68 percent, while the prices of Holcim and Cemex had declined 7.39 and 6.33 percent respectively.

The full results of the study are available on the ministry’s Web site.


Crews get bridges done
in time for today's rush hour


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If the Óscar Arias administration was known as the time of the faulty bridges, the Laura Chinchilla administration is being defined by highway problems. There is another collapsed section on the General Cañas highway west of San José. Expats tell of taking long journeys through Heredia and even to La Garita because the eastbound lanes were closed since Friday.

The original collapse took place in the westbound lanes. Officials installed two bailey bridges there to carry traffic over the subsided section. They said they need months to repair the faulty drain line that caused the problem. The problem now is in a site under the adjacent lanes, and two more bailey bridges were installed over the weekend.

Originally road officials said the highway's eastbound lanes would be out of service until Tuesday, but it appears that workmen have installed the bailey bridges faster than anticipated.
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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 165
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Jo Stuart

New invasive species found moving from Pacific to Caribbean
By the Natural History Museum
of Los Angeles County news staff

Coral Reefs, the Journal of the International Society for Reef Studies, has published online a study about an invasive species of brittle star, Ophiothela mirabilis. The species was previously restricted to Pacific waters, but surprisingly, growing populations have established themselves at distant points in the Atlantic. Its presence near Brazilian and Caribbean ports indicates that O. mirabilis could have been spread by shipping.  Gordon Hendler of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County was one of the study authors.

The marine animal is colorful and six-rayed. It clings in multitudes to corals and sponges and reproduces asexually, by splitting in two and regenerating severed body structures. The ability of one star to clone vast numbers of identical twins enormously increases the species capacity to proliferate and disperse.

The impact of the ophiothela brittle star remains to be seen. Like most marine invertebrates (except for commercially important species) scientists know little about its biology, so it is difficult to envision how it will affect the ecology of its new ocean. But further expansion of the range of Ophiothela could alter the appearance and the ecology of Atlantic coral reef habitats because ophiothelas, in multitudes, densely colonize gorgonians, known as sea fans, and sponges on central Pacific and on tropical eastern Pacific reefs.

"I imagine that when my grandchildren learn to scuba dive," Hendler says, "Caribbean reefs will look very different than they do today, in part because many corals and sponges may be covered with a network of invasive yellow brittle stars."

Invasive species have a massive impact on the economy and the environment, causing over $100 billion in damage in the U.S. alone, every year. Invasive echinoderm species like brittle stars are exceptional. Invasive plants and insects are
Brittle Star
Natural History Museum of 
Los Angeles County/ Alvaro Migotto
The marine animal O. mirabilis is colorful and six-rayed.

much more numerous. Probably the best known is the Japanese sea star (Asterias amurensis) that was native to the north Pacific and now damages fisheries in Tasmania and southern Australia. Notably, it is among the species that recently washed ashore in Oregon on Japanese Tsunami debris.

Echinoderms are sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars, feather stars, and related animals. For many millions of years, they have been among the most conspicuous and abundant oceanic organisms. People around the world have recognized their beauty and importance since ancient times.

Sea urchins and sea cucumbers valued as culinary delicacies are heavily fished, and sometimes seriously overfished. Quite the reverse, predatory sea stars with insatiable appetites can be impossible to control. Once described as "...a noble group designed to puzzle the biologist," echinoderms -- and the scientists who study them -- continue to unlock the mysteries of molecular genetics, genomics, evolution, and ecology.


Controlling water quality called key to protecting coral
By the University of Southampton news staff

Research from the University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, has found that an imbalance of nutrients in reef waters can increase the bleaching susceptibility of reef corals.

Corals are made up of many polyps that jointly form a layer of living tissue covering the calcareous skeletons. They depend on single-celled algae called zooxanthellae, which live within the coral polyps.

The coral animal and the associated zooxanthellae depend on each other for survival in a symbiotic relationship, where the coral supplies the algae with nutrients and a place to live. In turn, the algae offer the coral some products of their photosynthesis, providing them with an important energy source.

High water temperatures can block photosynthetic reactions in the algal cells causing a build-up of toxic oxygen compounds, which threaten the coral and can result in a loss of the zooxanthellae.

Without the algae, corals appear white, a state which is often referred to as bleached. Bleaching often leads to coral death and mass coral bleaching has had already devastating effects on coral reef ecosystems.

The study of University of Southampton, published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, has found that nutrient enrichment of the water can increase the probability of corals to suffer from heat-induced bleaching.

Within the coral, the growth of zooxanthellae is restricted by the limited supply of nutrients. This allows the algae to transfer a substantial amount of their photosynthetically fixed carbon to the coral, which is crucial for the symbiotic relationship.

Algal growth becomes unbalanced when the availability of a specific nutrient decreases compared to the cellular demand, a condition called nutrient starvation.

Researchers from the University of Southampton based at the Coral Reef Laboratory in the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, found that an increased supply of dissolved nitrogen compounds in combination with a restricted 
bleached coral
University of Southampton file photo
Coral that has been totally bleached.

availability of phosphate results in phosphate starvation of the algae. This condition is associated with a reduction in photosynthetic efficiency and increases the susceptibility of corals to temperature and light-induced bleaching.

Jörg Wiedenmann, senior lecturer of biological oceanography at the University of Southampton and head of the Coral ReefLaboratory, who led the study, says: "Our findings suggest that the most severe impact on coral health might actually not arise from the over-enrichment with one group of nutrients, for example, nitrogen, but from the resulting relative depletion of other types such as phosphate that is caused by the increased demand of the growing zooxanthellae populations."

Dr. Wiedenmann adds: "Our results have strong implications for coastal management. The findings suggest that a balanced reduction of the nutrient input in coastal waters could help to mitigate the effects of increasing seawater temperatures on coral reefs. However, such measures will be effective only for a short period of time, so it is important to stop the warming of the oceans, which will otherwise destroy most of the reefs in their present form in the near future.”

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 165
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Assange addresses crowd
from balcony at embassy


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WikiLeaks founder and wanted fugitive Julian Assange made a defiant statement from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London Sunday, railing against the United States and other countries he says are persecuting people who exercise their right to free speech. But he did not give any indication of his own plans, as he can not leave the embassy or British police will arrest him.

Assange stood in the doorway of a small balcony to address dozens of supporters and many more reporters and police officers outside. He thanked the supporters, and the government of Ecuador, which has granted him political asylum and refuge in its embassy.

He made no mention of the sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden, for which Britain has agreed to extradite him to face prosecutors' questions. That decision two months ago prompted him to flee into the embassy.

But Assange indicated that he believes his legal problems are related to his work as the founder of WikiLeaks, a Web site which has published thousands of secret U.S. government documents. And he used the spotlight of media attention to make a series of demands.

“The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks," he said. "The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.”

He described the WikiLeaks staff as journalists who are “shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.” He also called for the release of U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning, who is charged with leaking secret documents to WikiLeaks.

Leaking the documents is a crime, but the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of freedom of the press protects journalists and publishers from prosecution.

Assange appeared in a blue shirt and red tie, with his trademark shock of white hair closely trimmed. The tone and content of his statement surprised some observers because under the terms of his asylum in Ecuador he is not allowed to make political statements.

Earlier, his new legal adviser, controversial former Spanish judge Baltazar Garzon, emerged from the embassy and told reporters Assange has ordered his lawyer to take action to protect his rights. But Garzon did not provide specifics. He described Assange as being in a fighting spirit.

Assange says he is innocent of the sexual allegations in Sweden, and has offered to be questioned by the Swedish prosecutor here in Britain. But Assange and his supporters are concerned that he could be extradited from Sweden to the United States more easily than from Britain. Still, under European law, he could not be sent from Sweden to the United States without British approval.

Assange has not been charged with any crime in the United States and there is no request to extradite him.

He continues to be essentially stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy. If he leaves the protected diplomatic space, British police will arrest him. Britain has threatened to send police inside if the embassy engages in activity that violates its diplomatic status. But officials have indicated that no imminent move is planned.  Still, the threat has caused an uproar, and Latin American countries are rallying to Ecuador's defense with a foreign ministers' meeting set for this week.


Dallas sprays heavily
to fight West Nile carrier


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Officials in Dallas, Texas, and the surrounding county of the same name are continuing to spray by land and air in an effort to suppress mosquitoes that spread the West Nile virus. Health officials have reported more than 200 cases of fever caused by the virus in the Texas city, several times more than have been reported anywhere else in the country.  The illness has also caused 10 deaths.

Many people in Dallas continue to work and play outdoors, but they are heeding warnings from health officials to protect themselves.

15-year-old Macias says he has followed the news reports of West Nile cases here. “Yeah, I am concerned because if it comes to us, there is a chance you could die," she said.

Maria Salgado knows about the illness first hand, having come down with it in her native Mexico some years ago. “It gave me a high fever, pain in the bones, and I felt dizzy and did not want to get up," she said.

Ms. Salgado says she is taking precautions now especially with her children.

Both the county and city of Dallas have declared emergencies and have started spraying the entire area with chemicals that target the mosquitoes that spread West Nile fever.

The aerial effort has been disrupted at times by storm systems moving through the area.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who directs the program, says the recent rains may explain why this urban area has so many more West Nile cases than any other place in the country. “Because we have had drought throughout and a little less drought in our area than the rest of the state and now we are having wet and it is hot, that may have something to do with making the conditions so ripe," he said.

Residents for the most part support the spraying efforts. “As long as there are mosquitoes with West Nile and as long as it is a health hazard, I think it is better to spray," said one man.


Facebook shares continue
to seek the lower depths


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Facebook stock has fallen below $20 per share — nearly half the stock's initial selling price after its much-hyped public debut in May.  The sell-off came Thursday after the expiration of a 90-day ban that prevented early investors from selling shares of Facebook for quick profit. Despite the stock's poor performance so far, some say it's too early to give up on Facebook.

It was easily the most anticipated, most watched public offering of 2012, but just three months later, early investors couldn't get rid of their shares fast enough.

"They just threw it out there. The stock was down, six, seven percent, which says to me that the people that know the most about the company don't want to be anywhere near the shares," said Jeff Mackey, host of Yahoo Finance.

More than 270 million shares became available Thursday after selling restrictions were lifted, sending Facebook stock to a new low, and shaving about $50 billion off its market value.

But at nearly half it's $38 selling price in May, equity analyst Scott Kessler at Standard and Poor's sees a bargain.

"Ultimately we think these are going to provide a nice buying opportunity for investors because we don't necessarily see a lot of selling by insiders," Kessler said.

Others urge casual investors to be wary.  Facebook reported losses in July due to higher costs and slowing revenue. And there are new concerns about the company's leadership and its ability to attract advertising.

Yahoo's Mackey says he's taking his cue from the big investors.

"I don't want to buy what Goldman Sachs doesn't want to own cause I think they're pretty smart guys.  I want to be buying alongside them, so you know, this Facebook thing: it's time to take a pass," Mackey said.
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Latin America news
sidewalk bombas
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Residents put the finishing touches on a piece of sidewalk literature.

Nicoya sidewalks carry
local messages of culture

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Be careful where you walk on the sidewalks of the community of Nicoya. Some 90 residents are putting poems, bombas, thoughts and refrains there.

The project is backed by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as well as Universidad Nacional.

There are about 50 short literary works that have been painted onto the sidewalks. Writers used a plastic paint that is expected to last awhile.

The stretch is from the Hospital de la Anexión to the local campus of Universidad Nacional. Adults, high schoolers and university students are involved.

The overall idea is to interject culture into the average stroll.

Bombas are those unique Guanacaste sayings that usually are humorous. They are a form of locally developed epigram, although they usually have three or four lines and end with a surprise. They always are preceded by the word Bomba!

Nicoya is the 10th city in the world to take up this U.N. project, organizers said.


Elderly man died in fire

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 72-year-old man died early Saturday when fire broke out in his San Jerónimo de Naranjo home. The man was identified by the last name of Alpizar. Fire fighters said that when they arrived after the 1:42 a.m. alarm, the home was ablaze. The Judicial Investigating Organization is in charge of the case.














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