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(506) 223-1327                Published Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 168         E-mail us   
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Two Canadians held in killing of sportsbook worker
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two Canadians have been detained as suspects in the shootout that killed a man nearly a year ago in Desamparados. The motive for the murder was that the dead man had somehow cheated the suspects out of some $25,000, said investigators.

Agents allege that the two Canadians along with a Costa Rican bodyguard set up a meeting with the victim on the pretext of purchasing a car. When the victim, identified as 27-year-old Luis Muñoz Vargas arrived for the meeting in Desamparados centro, he was greeted with bullets. He died later in a hospital.

Detained Thursday was Francisco Palermo, 40, in Escazú and Alli Mohammed Eltaib, 38, in La Uruca. The bodyguard, identified as Carlos Flores Altamirano, 27, was detained at his home in Cuarto Reinas de Tibás.

The two Canadians are believed to be operators of a sports betting book, Platinum, in Plaza Heredia in
that community. They also are believed to have an interest in a night club in Jacó.

Eltaib is believed to be an Iranian naturalized as a Canadian. All three have been jailed.

The victim, Muñoz, was an employee at the sportsbooks, according to investigators. The shooting took place last Sept. 7. The nature of the scam was not revealed by investigators but it was believed to have been conducted via the Internet.

There is no evidence given by investigators that Muñoz actually did participate in a scam that defrauded his employers, but agents said that the sportsbooks owners believed that he was guilty of doing so.

The immigration status of the two Canadians could not be determined immediately.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that two pistols were confiscated at the Flores home. Being that he is a bodyguard, this is not unusual.


Fallen asphalt

Rain Wednesday undercut the road from Ciudad Colón to the University for Peace and left residents of El Rodeo stranded — unless they wanted to walk like Kerri Nolan here.

A private contractor is supposed to build a bypass around the damaged 100 meters (about 328 feet), but there is no guarantee that more rain will not cause more problems.

More weather HERE!
cracked road
Photo by Steve Katz



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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 168

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storm victim
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Transport ministry vehicle got caught in the afternoon storm on the Circunvalación and contributed to slowing traffic.

Late afternoon downpours
cause some flooding in city

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thursday was San Jose's turn to feel the rain. Most of the country had little precipitation Thursday, but the skies opened up around 4 p.m. in San José, flooded streets and some homes and caused minor problems.

Some 37.5 mms. (1.5 inches) fell in San José mostly between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.  Juan Santamaría airport received about 10.7 mms. (.42 inches) between 2 and 3 p.m.

The rest of the country received very little precipitation, according to reports from the country's automatic weather stations. However, informal reports said that there was heavy rainfall in the southern part of the country near the border with Panamá.

The storm was intense and brought lightning and thunder. The Circunvalación in Zapote was covered with about 8 inches or more of water, and traffic on the four-lane bypass route was reduced to a crawl. Flooding took place in Los Yoses and on the roadways around Mall San Pedro.

It was in Los Yoses that homes received some flood water and mud when storm drains could not handle the load. Some cars were covered high enough so that the water ran into the passenger compartments.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that a weather front passed over the country Thursday and left instability in its path. The weather bureau forecast said that heavy downpours might take place again in the Central Valley and in the Pacific, the northern zone and the Caribbean slope.

Two men on Caribbean coast
killed by home invaders


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men in a car rode up and killed a man in his own home and a friend Wednesday as they were watching the Costa Rica-Perú soccer match on television. Police detained three suspects.

The shooting took place in Puerto Viejo de Limón just as the game was winding up about 9:30 p.m., said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Dead was the resident of the house, identified by the last name of Arroyo. He was 46, agents said. Also killed was a man identified by the last name of Monestel. He was 41.

Two other persons were in the home when a car containing four men drove up. Some of the vehicle occupants entered the home and started shooting. One or both of the victims appear to have returned fire.

The Fuerza Pública later detained one man when he showed up at the Clinica de Hone Creek with a bullet wound to the stomach. Two other men were stopped at a roadblock in Cuba Creek. Investigators still are seeking a fourth suspect. No weapons have been encountered.


Our reader's opinion
Panamá resident responds that
Chinese do not control canal


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your quote that “A Hong Kong firm appears to control the entrance to both sides of the canal” is blatantly untrue.  These allegations were made by the likes of Jesse Helms when he and other arch conservatives were protesting the return of the Canal to the people of Panamá. 

The entrances, as with the entire canal, are controlled by the Panama Canal Authority, a semi-autonomous agency.  There are several different companies that have port operations (nothing to do with canal control) on both the Pacific and Caribbean terminus.  Two of these are Chinese and the others are not.  Additionally as part of the canal expansion recently approved by the people of Panamá there will be a minimum of two additional companies with port operations.  Port operations are principally container facilities.
 
Bill Schroff
Panama City, Panamá

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 168

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Despite inconsistencies, a new bird book is user-friendly
The Birds of Costa Rica, A Field Guide
By Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean
Zona Tropical/Cornell $29.95

A new field guide promises to advance amateur birdwatching in Costa Rica. The user-friendly format should be accessible to novice and casual birders, as well as more serious observers.

"The Birds of Costa Rica" by Richard Garrigues with illustrations by Robert Dean takes a different approach to
Cover of bird book
presentation with maps and text on pages opposite the plates to facilitate quick reference. The reduced space limits written detail to field marks, habitats, and status.

This is in contrast to "A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica" by Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch, to which the new book will inevitably be compared. Stiles and Skutch has all the plates at the center of the book, with only limited information on facing
pages. It makes up for that shortcoming with extremely detailed text. Nonetheless, a birder needs to be familiar with the species in question to extract much from the extensive information on habits, diet, nesting, etc. found in Stiles and Skutch. The weight of the book is also a serious impediment to use in the field.

Garrigues and Dean include maps on the facing pages, which is helpful due to the need to quickly reduce the number of possibilities when making an identification. It is useful, for example, to know a species is found only on the Caribbean side of the country and not in Guanacaste where you are birding.

Detail on the small maps is barely adequate for that purpose, and more customization would help. It is evident that the master map had elevational lines and these were used to demarcate species occurring above/below the elevation in
question. When a species uses a particular habitat which might be very localized at one end of the elevational range or the other, these can be deceiving.

The most egregious example is a number of waterbirds and waders, many of which indeed occurred regularly in vanished wetlands of the Central Valley up to 1,500 meters. On the maps, they dutifully visit the entire country below 1,500 meters. Other books use shading on maps to show secondary distributions of this sort. Then solid color can distinguish the main range, mostly on the coasts in this case.

Dean’s painting style is accessible, with considerable inconsistency. A user can become familiar with how he portrays common species and apply that to less familiar ones. Postures are good, a serious weakness with the Dana Gardner plates in Stiles and Skutch. In general plates are uncrowded, allowing considerable freedom to present the bird. Changes in scale between plates could cause confusion. The small tyrant flycatchers on Page 197 are presented almost life size while larger species of the same family a few pages later are by necessity scaled down. The plate of flying raptors at the end of the book shows all species the same size despite large differences between birds, some of which are important to identification.

Some species are shown with substantial texture and feather edging even when there is no pattern on the plumage. This looks good on a shaggy species like groove-billed ani or slaty spinetail, but is a distraction on one like North American dipper which presents a sleek look in the field. Other species show the conventional field guide uniformity. Garrigues indicated that the plates are washed out and pale due to problems with printing quality.

Despite its inconsistencies, this book can only help develop more interest in bird study by reaching more interested amateurs. Presently biologists and tourism professionals make up most Costa Rican birdwatchers. More recreational birders would be a welcome addition. A Spanish translation is underway, which should interest the general public even more.
— Dennis Rogers


The continuing battle with the subjective memories
Ah, sweet memories of…of…oh, dear.

I have learned first hand of the dangers of cherry picking information.  My friend Ruth informed me that we are not descendents of Cain after all. The biblical Cain, along with his children all drowned in the Great Flood.  So our ancestors are Noah, and his offspring, and, of course, Adam and Eve, who lived well into their hundreds and so probably had more children besides Cain and Abel. 

How many we don’t know, but there were no computer games or even TV programs back then so they had nothing much to distract them.  I remember the words of a young African woman at a conference on AIDS.  She spoke up and said, “They try to teach us abstinence, and don’t seem to understand.  We have sex because it is fun, and there is nothing else to do.” 

Let that be a lesson to the people who are responsible for eliminating music, sports, and other extracurricular activities, as well as after-school activities.  When I was in high school, we had a recreation hall that was open every weekend night (maybe every night, but now I forget).  We danced and met friends and danced and flirted and danced.  It kept most of us from being bored enough to experiment with sex.   Instead, we all got married before we were 20 to find out what it was all about.

But all of that is beside the point.  The reason I didn’t look into the Noah story is that I simply forgot all about him.  I seem to be forgetting a lot lately, and I seem to be getting a lot of jokes through the Internet about forgetting.  I don’t remember when I was younger, that the older generation made so many jokes about their forgetting.  That could be either because 1.) forgetting was not as prevalent, or 2.) I’ve forgotten.  Or maybe even 3.) there was no Internet and who was going to take the time to write down all of the jokes (assuming they could remember them) and send them along to 50 other people?

In Greek mythology Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, was the mother of the Nine Muses. The Nine Muses inspire creativity, and, of course, history.  Without memory there would be no history.   We all seem to remember our early history better than what happened to us last week.  This is not surprising.  We’ve had longer to think about our early days, and, besides, when we were young, we were more apt to have new experiences.  A
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com



totally new experience has a better chance of sticking in our minds.  Remembering to buy milk just doesn’t cut it.
In his memoir, "WORDSTRUCK," Robert MacNeil tells how he learned to memorize what he read by the simple system of reading one sentence and being able to say it without looking at it, when he could do that, he went on to the second sentence.  Maybe we are just trying to remember too much at one time.

I recall that rehearsals at the Little Theatre Group of Costa Rica changed when a new director started rehearsing small snippets of a play until the actors knew it perfectly.  It was very successful, and I think they have been doing that ever since.  Perhaps the person who introduced that system went to the same grade schools in Canada as Mr. MacNeil. 

One culture’s history may be seen as myth by another culture.  I recently read something on the Internet from some journal (I forget how or where I found it) that said clearly and simply something I have been trying to say simply and clearly to back up my belief that history, as well our memories of childhood are “myth.”  The statement was. “The past shapes the present and is shaped by present perceptions.”  I used to say, we remember those parts of our childhood that explain who we are today.

Thus we cherry pick.  Perhaps I forgot about Noah because my perception right now is that much of the world is in dire straits and can be better explained by the story of Cain and Abel than Noah gathering two of every species onto an ark.  Or maybe I should have just remembered more recent history. 


Jo’s book, “Butterfly in the City: A Good Life in Costa Rica,” is available at the 7th Street Book Store, Lehmann’s and Liberia Internacional.  Or contact Jostuart@amcostarica.com


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 168


Attention now turning to handling methane gas worldwide
 Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Methane is a greenhouse gas. It is also the main component of natural gas, and countries around the world are working together to put methane emissions to work as a clean energy source.

The nations are working as part of the Methane to Markets Partnership, launched in 2004 by the United States and 13 other countries. Today, its 20 member nations — with a pending membership for the European Commission — and nearly 600 participating public and private organizations work together on nearly 100 projects and activities around the world.

An array of ongoing and potential projects will be shown at the Methane to Markets Exposition in Beijing, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and China's National Development and Reform Commission will co-host the expo with key Chinese ministries and corporations.

“The expo is a huge event for the partnership,” said Paul Gunning, branch chief in the Climate Change Division at the Environmental Protection Agency. “We’ve enjoyed a really successful collaboration with the government of China to put it all together.”

Organizing sponsors include the Asian Development Bank; the Australian government; the United Kingdom's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Environment Canada; the International Energy Agency;
and the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe.

Over 200 years, methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled, largely because of human activity. Methane is 23 times better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than is carbon dioxide.

Methane accounts for 16 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and about 60 percent of methane emissions come from people-generated sources. The rest come from natural sources like wetlands, gas hydrates (crystalline solids that store large amounts of gases like methane), permafrost and termite digestion.

About 25 percent of methane emissions and 43 percent of people-generated emissions come from four sources that Methane to Markets targets — agriculture (animal waste management), coal mining, landfills and natural oil and gas systems.

In the agriculture sector, for example, the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank provided a $7 million, five-year grant to reduce environmental and health impacts from increasingly concentrated livestock production in China, Thailand and Vietnam. The grant supports a demonstration of cost-effective livestock waste management techniques at selected farms in the countries.

With the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe, EPA initiated a three-year project to address financial barriers to developing, promoting and selling coal mine methane recovery and use projects in Eastern Europe.


Lawmakers in Bolivia engage in fistfights over decision to bring judicial charges
 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Opposition lawmakers in the Bolivian congress have exchanged blows with pro-government legislators in an ongoing dispute over control of the nation's judicial branch.

Fistfights broke out as opposition lawmakers tried to stop their rivals from bringing charges against the nation's highest court for suspending four of President Evo Morales's judicial appointees.

Lawmakers from Morales's party later voted to approve the charges.
Separately, an assembly rewriting Bolivia's constitution has suspended its work indefinitely due to violent protests in the southern city of Sucre over a proposal to move the seat of government there from La Paz.

Critics say moving the capital to Sucre would cost the impoverished country billions of dollars and divide the nation.

Sucre was Bolivia's capital during the 19th century but lost the executive and legislative branches of government to La Paz following a brief civil war in the late 1890s. Sucre, however, is still home to Bolivia's highest courts.


Cuban diplomat shares a positive word on the condition of ailing Fidel Castro
 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuba's foreign minister says President Fidel Castro is doing very well and recovering from last year's intestinal surgery, which forced him to provisionally hand power to his brother.

Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque made the comment Thursday, telling reporters that the Cuban leader is very disciplined in his recovery process. Pérez Roque spoke to the news media in Brazil, where he is attending a meeting of Latin American and East Asian officials.
Cuban officials have refused to release details of President Castro's condition, saying the health of the 81-year-old leader is a state secret.

Castro temporarily transferred power to his brother, Raúl Castro, following the surgery in July of last year.

Fidel Castro, however, has appeared on video meeting with international officials, and editorials in his name have appeared in state-run media. His articles have dealt with a variety of issues, including biofuels and what he considers to be American imperialism.


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