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These stories were published Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 166
Jo Stuart
About us

An earlier ending to rainy season predicted
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weather bureau has some good news and some bad news in its predictions for the remainder of the rainy season.

More rains than normal is expected in the north Pacific and the Central Pacific as well as in the Central Valley. But the Caribbean slope will continue to experience the drier weather that has been seen there since March.

Elsewhere, rains will be about normal.

And it looks like the rains will diminish sooner in the Central Valley where the estimated arrival of the dry season, Costa Rica's "summer," is expected between Nov. 12 and 21.

The estimates by the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional show the arrival of the dry season everywhere slightly earlier than normal.

First, in Guanacaste, the prediction is for sometime between Nov. 2 and Nov. 16. The Pacific Central will get its annual respite from
rain between Dec. 1 and 16, while the south Pacific will have to wait for sometime between Dec. 17 and 31. Based on estimates in previous years, the periods seem about 10 days

earlier. The end of the rainy season is an iffy topic. Rains have a tendency to easy off in November, but rainfall in the Central Valley in December is considered possible. Light rains generally stick around until
Christmas in the Central Valley.

The end of the rainy season is caused by winds coming down from the north that keep moisture-laden air away from Costa Rica. During the rainy season this year water temperatures in the Atlantic suggest that winds from that direction will have less force, the weather institute said.

So rain-bearing winds from the Pacific will have a better chance of dumping their contents on the country, said the weather predictions. 

Two robbers make a really bad choice in selecting a target
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A couple of robbers figured a McDonald's Restaurant would be an easy mark. Who are they going to run into? Ronald McDonald?

Alas, the breakfast customer sipping the coffee also happened to be the No. 2 man at the

Francisco Segura
Judicial Investigating Organization. And what he put in his hand was not a Big Mac.

The drama unfolded Monday morning at the fast food restaurant near the Parque de la Paz in south San José. Two men on a motorcycle drove up and entered. One pulled
a gun on a cashier within sight of diners.

Francisco Segura, sub-director of the nation's criminal investigating agency, was the man eating breakfast nearby.  Segura attacked the assailant and wrestled the gun away from him.  Then, Segura shot him in the back of the leg to keep him from running away, officials said. 

The second man managed to get away on a motorcycle, according to reports. 

McDonalds still is reeling from the robbery of a patron Friday in the Alajuela location. The company said in a release that customer security was a priority. But it also said that it is not responsible for personal items.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 166

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Our readers opinions

Ad hominem attacks
appeal to emotions

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Responding to today's C. J. Benet's letter to the editor, I must ask what was the purpose for writing it, only followed by the question of, why publish it?

Mr. Benet does not understand the difference between reporting news and column writing. The former should be free of opinions and report facts, the later has the privilege to opinionate, interpret and give perspectives of facts.

I must suspect that Jo Stewart's world views are being attacked by C. J. Benet with an age-old ploy: to pick a couple of points to correct publicly in order to proceed and discredit the writer's integrity and all she has said. Benet's letter also contained "ad hominem" formulations, which should have not been passed on by the editors. These kinds of attacks appeal to feelings and reveal prejudices, rather than to the intellect, and they are marked by attacking the character rather than honoring with an answer the contentions made.

Consumption, Mr. Benet, is the amount of what gets consumed, in a village, city, region, nation, hemisphere or world. Demand is the statistical prognosis of what amount will be demanded at a future time. Overall, consumption and demand are all too often used synonymously. You just did not agree with what she said. And if you have turned her off, stopped reading her, how do you know what she said? I believe you might be saying, however, that you have read enough to know that you do not agree with her views, and that you want her to be stopped.

If you need to attack on such a small matter, it would have been more useful to explore the oil shortage further than saying that demand (by the Chinese) is the problem. There have been oil shortages before. U.S. citizens were asked to drive 55 miles for what seemed to be a lengthy period of time. Germany prohibited driving on Sundays. And we found out that the shortages were created artificially through "bad planning" which, of course, was in the interest of the oil cartels.

Huge profits have been documented during those time where the consumption was higher than the production. Oil prices have been often manipulated. It's simply human nature, when business can take advantage of consumers they simply will. Corporate planning goes as far as the bottom line, and fails to understand that only cooperation on a planetary level will bring eventually lasting prosperity and peace for all.

Creating win-win solutions is harder than making a fast buck. But a pending crisis, like the new oil crisis, will make the need for a change of consciousness spread faster. We have an animal-origin nature, which must constantly be overcome by ourselves, and on a societal level be monitored be regulatory agencies with the watchful work of a free press.

I am afraid this time around we have a new keyword to learn: "Peak Oil", which is a term denoting that the projected demand in about five years from now will always be higher than the production. Oil must increasingly be extracted from deeper and deeper layers in the earth, and with the constantly raising demand, it will not be possible to sustain the level of production as dictated by consumption.

Presently, the big evil is for the U.S. government to hold on to the idea that there is sufficient oil for decades to come. Nixon and Kisssinger knew that the Vietnam war was not winnable before they stopped it, and another 15,000 young man were killed during the stopping. Peak Oil must be known by the present U.S. administration because their families are in the oil business, but it is kept as quiet as possible. The Web site of the Department of Energy, for example, still confirms that the Saudis can produce as much oil as the world needs.

Who is benefiting? Of course the oil cartels and their investors. It is in their interest that people do not switch to other or alternative energies. For instance, there is enough natural gas to maintain our driving habits for a very long time. If vehicles were switched to gas carburetors, there would be enough oil to produce all the myriads of products that we have gotten used to. But the Bush administration is not interested in switching yet, as the oil barons have all the statistics to foresee that there will be a severe shortage and that the oil prices will go through the roof so to speak. They have figured out what the threshold is before affluent people consume less, and they will ride it out to the max. Some say they would be stupid not to do so, as this is free enterprise at its best.

We must understand what Peak Oil means to us individually, and we must take steps to prepare ourselves. The government is not going to do it for us. They can only react to crisis. They will regulate as they have done in the past, but they will not alleviate the crisis. Now is the time to look into other and alternative energy. The Internet is full of ideas, conversion plans, small startup companies that already make appropriate products. They will grow when we demand alternatives.

If we fall asleep, we will be faced with a world that we will not want to live in or are able to recognize any longer, as the fight for oil has just barely started. The U.S. is not in Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction or to bring their brand of democracy, or to stop a dictator. They are there for oil, because it has been said that the U.S. living standard is not up for negotiation.

It's time for all users to rethink the oil shortage as it effects us and spend less energy quibbling over definitions, as the crunch is already effecting us and will continue until we change our own dependencies and addictions to its unlimited usage.

Richard M. Hughes
Tilarán, Guanacaste
Read opinions elsewhere

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Who cares if you don't want to read Jo Stuart's column?  I don't read her column for facts — only for amusement and her opinions.  If you have different opinions, go elsewhere.  There are many other sites where you can argue,  "How right YOU are."  Feel free to go there and leave those of us who enjoy her column alone to enjoy it. 

Marjorie Slovachek

Birds smarter than humans?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

hey boss, u know despite our dissagrements i appreciate your openness. however nasty the Jo letter is, it is not about opinion. One of her recent opinions opined (if i may paraphrase) that birds were likely smarter than humans, we just are too dumb to listen or comphrehend them. Opinions are indeed only opinions. However some will have more value than others just due to the basic education of the opinionator. (not every rude ass is incorrect. consider me for example:) There are people with Jo's opinions that are much better informed and educated, and might possibly express a similar opinion with more expertise. Please do consider.

George  Chapogas
Playas del Coco
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Just guess who's out there holding up traffic now
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It's the law of unintended consequences. Major traffic jams took place in the downtown during morning rush hour Monday because police were ticketing drivers who did not obey the new rule about license plates.

The rule, which forbids each private vehicle from entering the downtown one day a week was designed to reduce traffic jams, speed up the flow and reduce the fuel use.

The program has not really worked that way. The last digit of the license plate is the way transit police know if a vehicle should not be in the central area, bounded by Avenida 16 to the south and Avenida 9 to the north. Those who fail to follow the rules are fined
 5,000 colons, although the fines are suspended now while the Sala IV constitutional court studies an appeal against the decree instituting the program.

The first problem with the project took place last week when the Municipalidad de San José decided to tear up a key section of Avenida 1. That caused detours and massive jams. The section has been mostly repaved as of Monday.

But it was Monday when motorists complained that police were impeding the flow of traffic. One driver said that police had pulled over four violators within a three block section. But the cars being ticketed did not get out of the driving lanes and created traffic jams. The motorist said he spent a half hour in a jam because of the police action.

Legislative committee says that parents must spare the rod
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A committee has sent to the full Asamblea Legislativa a proposed law that would forbid physical or emotional punishment of minors. The law not only covers parents but anyone in a position of authority over them.

The committee is the Comisión Permanente de Juventud, Niñez y Adolescencia, and it passed the text of the measure without a negative vote. Any parent who mistreats a youngsters could suffer criminal penalties also the loss of parental rights.
A report from the legislature is not clear on exactly where the committee drew the line on emotional punishment. However a late amendment also gives parents the obligation to educate and discipline their children, although the manner is not specified.

The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the Ministerio de Educación Pública and other unspecified state agencies would look out for violations.

The measure has been in the committee for some time. Now it will eventually go to the full assembly for discussion and a possible vote.

American Airlines planning more flights to Daniel Oduber airport
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In February, American Airlines will have flights to the international airport in Liberia from its Dallas/Fort Worth hub, officials with the airline said.

The airline already has flights to Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela.  The flights to Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia will depart Dallas/Fort Worth at 9 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. twice a week and arrive at 2:15
 p.m. and 9:13 p.m.   The airline plans to fly to Liberia on Wednesdays and Saturdays and fly back on Sundays and Thursdays, officials said.  

The airline will use a Boeing 737-800 aircraft as long as the government approves, officials said.  That plane holds 142 passengers.

American also has U.S. flights to Guanacaste from Miami, officials said.   

If you are frustrated by literally thousands of so called "realtors," insane pricing and confusing Web sites as you endlessly search for the perfect property in Costa Rica . . . . STOP!!
We believe that the area of GRECIA offers far more than almost any other area of the country for retirees and those seeking a beautiful and peaceful home in which to enjoy life while enjoying the beauty and security which Costa Rica has to offer.
WHY?  ..... read on....

Grecia is Central . . . 50 minutes from San Jose, CIMA hospital, the Multiplaza, sports and cultural events. . . . one half hour from Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela . . . and a little over an hour to the Central Pacific beaches!

Real estate properties in Grecia are still reasonably priced . . . prices here are about 10% of what they are in Escazú and about half of what they are in neighboring Atenas. Grecia is affordable.

The mountains of Grecia offer the perfect climate: 68-82 degrees all year round.

Grecia has its own hospital with excellent professional services and great shopping.  Every Saturday the town is host to one of the best open air markets in the country.  Fruits and vegetables galore.

Grecia is known as the "cleanest city in Latin America"

No howler monkeys or sloths here, but the area is home to countless flocks of parrots and literally thousands of species of birds and butterflies.

Coffee bushes

Fantastic views

 Bustling downtown Grecia

Because of its location and agricultural base (coffee and sugar cane) Grecia is green ALL YEAR ROUND.  

Crime is extremely low here.  No one worries about walking around town at night here.  There are still petty thefts, but neighbors here watch out for each other.

Everyone who visits Grecia and the area comments on the simplicity of life here.  Life here does proceed at a different pace and the lifestyle here takes us back to a simpler time that nearly all of us wish for but cannot have.  Family is still valued here, and Sunday is family day when extended families get together without fail. 

The builders, contractors and craftsmen here are old fashioned. They keep their word, they are excellent craftsmen who take pride in their work AND they honor their contracts. Most importantly, the properties we have available are drop dead gorgeous! Views, rivers, waterfalls, coffee, sugar cane, privacy.  We most likely have exactly what you thought you could never find. 

If this sounds like Paradise (or maybe that we are exaggerating . . .) come and see for yourselves before everyone discovers Grecia.

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Massive Asian smuggling ring cracked in United States
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

U.S. law enforcement authorities say 87 individuals have been indicted and 59 arrests have been made on charges related to international conspiracies to smuggle counterfeit currency, weapons and drugs into the United States.

Undercover agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation posed as smugglers, arms traffickers, drug dealers and as associates of organized crime to defeat efforts by Asian criminal enterprises to import an array of illegal items into the United States.

John Richter, acting assistant attorney general, said the arrests were the result of two parallel undercover investigations on the East and West coasts of the United States called Operation Royal Charm and Operation Smoking Dragon.

"This essentially was an organization that was willing to be a one-stop shop for illegal goods," said Richter. "We seized more than $4 million of highly deceptive currency, what some call loosely super-notes. It is the largest seizure of its kind. We did it before it could enter circulation and before it could do any damage to our economy."

Richter says law enforcement authorities seized 36,000 ecstasy pills and other drugs, along with hundreds of millions of counterfeit cigarettes. He says the organized crime group was planning to smuggle large amounts of weapons into the United States. The indictements said that counterfeit Viagra also was involved.

"We charged members of this organization with arms
trafficking, and with conspiring to import more than a million dollars worth of weapons, including silenced pistols, silenced submachine guns, assault rifles and other weapons including rocket launchers," added Richter.

One of the more unusual aspects of this case was the use of a fake wedding to lure suspects from various countries to come to the United States where they were arrested.

U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie of the District of New Jersey says phony invitations were sent out around the world to members of the alleged organized crime group.

"The male and female agents who were in the invitation supposed to be married had been working on the investigation for a lengthy period of time, had represented themselves as being romantically involved to the people they were involved in this operation with," said Christie. "Eventually when it came time to bring this investigation to a conclusion, the idea of staging a wedding in order to bring these people to New Jersey to be able to apprehend them was developed. The people came into Atlantic City, New Jersey, expecting that they were going to a wedding, and instead they were arrested."

Investigators would not name the nationalities of those arrested in the case, saying some are U.S. citizens. The bulk have Chinese names, although some non-Asian names appear in the indictments of persons living in the Illinois area.

The Justice Department says the plants that allegedly manufactured the counterfeit cigarettes are in China.

México joins partnership to catch coyotes at border
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United States and Mexico are stepping up efforts to prosecute human-trafficking organizations that prey on migrants crossing over the Mexican border into the southwestern U.S. states of California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

In a statement, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said the United States and Mexico are forming a new program that fights "the threat that organized crime and human trafficking organizations present to both countries."

The program, called "Operation Against Smugglers (and Traffickers) Initiative on Safety and Security," expands upon previous efforts to identify and prosecute violent human smugglers, according to the branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of U.S. borders.
The program will go into force at ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexican border to prosecute alien smugglers and human traffickers who endanger migrant lives.  The program will adopt guidelines -- established by the U.S. Border Patrol -- that were used on a small scale to help prosecute smugglers, and make those guidelines standard throughout the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Record numbers of heat-related deaths among migrants have been recorded along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2005, and border patrol teams have rescued more than 2,000 people stranded in the desert along the border.

The agency also announced it is launching a radio and television public-service campaign aimed at listeners in the United States and Mexico who are contemplating the use of paid smugglers to illegally transport family members, including minors, into the United States by placing them inside potentially dangerous hidden compartments in vehicles.

Jo Stuart
About us
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