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These stories were published Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 168
Jo Stuart
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More studies reaffirm rapid rise in sea levels
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Arctic may become ice free during summers far sooner than anyone expected. This prediction by international researchers suggests a significant impact on coastal areas of Central America and the world.

The researchers say the full melting of the Arctic ice may take place in just 100 years, almost within the life span of youngsters living today.

This means that builders putting up homes on both Costa Rica coasts and along coastal rivers and inlets today must take rising sea levels into consideration.

Previous predictions said ocean levels might increase as much as a full meter within 100 years. The research announced this week suggested the increase in the water level might be sooner than later and be underestimated and be subject to seasonal fluctuations.

“What really makes the Arctic different from the rest of the non-polar world is the permanent ice in the ground, in the ocean and on land,” said  University of Arizona geoscientist Jonathan T. Overpeck. “We see all of that ice melting already, and we envision that it will melt back much more dramatically in the future as we move towards this more permanent ice-free state.”

Overpeck is the lead author of a report published in Tuesday's edition of Eos, the weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union.

Since 1979 the summer polar ice cap in the arctic has shrunk by 20 percent, according to calculations by scientists with the U.S. National Aeronautic and Space Administration.

A British study similar to that of Overpeck's report said in February that the Antarctic polar cap on the other end of the earth was

They planned ahead!

melting much faster than had been predicted.

Those scientists, for the  British Antarctic Survey, reported that the rise in the world's sea level may have been underestimated. They said that melting of Antarctic sea ice was permitting glaciers there to dump their ice into the sea up to six times faster.

Three major Antarctic ice shelves, some 15,000 square kilometers, have broken off between 1998 and 2002. However, most calculations of the rise in sea level have not figured in activities in Antarctica. By not counting runoff contributions from Antarctica, scientists may have underestimated the sea level increase by at least 15 percent.

Average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world, and Arctic ice is getting thinner, melting and rupturing, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The past climates in the Arctic include glacial periods, where sea ice coverage expanded and ice sheets extended into Northern America and Europe, and warmer interglacial periods during which the ice retreats, as it has during the past 10,000 years. By studying natural data loggers such as ice cores and marine sediments, scientists have a good idea what the “natural envelope” for Arctic climate variations has been for the past million years,  Overpeck said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 168

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Formal murder charges
filed in Garnier case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Charges were formally filed Tuesday by the Ministerio Público in a San José court against the four men suspected of kidnapping and killing José Fabio Garnier Fernández.

The suspects, identified by the last names Babonni Benassi, González Herrera, Zeledón Leal and Castillo Moreales, were charged with kidnapping to extort money resulting in death.  All except Castillo Moreales were also charged with aggravated robbery.  Police said assailants stole Garnier's cell phone and used it in the ransom calls.

Garnier, the son of a well-known soccer figure, was kidnapped the evening of Jan. 10, 2002, as he left his job at Hertz rental cars on Paseo Colón.  Kidnappers called demanding ransom.  Then the calls stopped.  In May of 2003, officials arrested Castillo then, in November of 2004, officials arrested the other three suspects.  Soon after, they were able to locate Garnier's body in a grave in Ciudad Colón. 
Trio held in fake check scam

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial Investigating Organization agents arrested three men in Puriscal when one tried to cash a check for 3.5 million colons ($7,238) at a bank there.  Investigators said the check was false.

His companions were waiting in a car outside the bank, but fled when the officers detained the man inside, officers said.  Police were able to arrest the other two suspects soon after, officers said.

According to officers, the three men, identified by the last names Ruiz Bermúdez, Buzo Fonseca and Bustos Hidalgo, have police records dating back to 1999 from crimes committed throughout the country, including robbery and assaults as well as other frauds.  
Young drug dealers caught

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police officers arrested two teenage crack dealers, one in Cañas and one in San Carlos, officials said.

Fuerza Pública officers said they arrested a 14-year-old crack dealer in Aguas Zarcas de San Carlos after they noticed him loitering around the bus station.   When police arrested the teenager, he had four doses of marijuana and eight packages of crack, police said.  They suspect he was a drug runner for a larger dealer.  His mother has been investigated in the past for selling drugs, police said. 

Officers with the Judicial Investigating Organization in Cañas arrested a 16-year-old last weekend for selling crack cocaine and marijuana, officers said. They had been investigating him for three months, officers said.   The youth was placed in pre-trial prison for two months, police said.

CNN plans show on diversity

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

CNN Español is planning to air a program Monday reporting that various studies that say that diversity in the Latin American workplace can provide businesses with an edge over competitors. 

The show will explore the benefits of Latin American companies that have diversified by hiring women and minorities.  The corporate world here is still mostly filled with men. 

The 30-minute program called "Fortune: Diversidad" will be a special edition of Economía y Finanzas.  It will be hosted by Alberto Padilla, the business anchorman of CNN Español.  The program is scheduled to air at 9:30 p.m. 
Hijacked pickup found with suspect

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers arrested a man, identified by the last names Morega Ulate, who they suspected car-jacked a pick-up in Pavas, officers said.

According to the victim, the suspect shoved a 9-millimeter pistol in his face and ordered him out of the truck he was driving near the local soccer field.  The victim said he chased the truck for a few meters but it quickly moved out of sight. 

Officers began a search and found Moraga driving the truck near the Juan Pablo II rotunda where they arrested him, they said.  The truck was still in perfect condition, they said.     
Our readers opinions

No double standard permitted

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

So-called Christian Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is dismissed as the views of a "private citizen."  What's the difference between his very public actions and those of an Islamic cleric calling for the assassination of President Bush?  Let's hold Mr. Robertson to account for his appalling statement, with no double standards.

Ruth Dixon
We didn't condemn Robertson

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Golly gee, I wonder how Hugo Chávez could think that the U.S. might be behind trying to assassinate him. It’s not like we have ever interfered in Latin America! Wonder who Salvador Allende thought bumped him off? I was really shocked that in your “article” (or was it an editorial?) on socialism being a threat, you didn’t condemn Pat Robertson, who last time I checked was masquerading as a Christian, for advocating assassination as a way of dealing with people we don’t agree with.

I am tired of living in a country where we seem to think that killing people we disagree with is the way to solve our problems. And I am tired of hearing that socialism is the enemy of freedom. Everyone said when I worked to end the war in Vietnam that I was a traitor and was helping communism. Now, 30 years later, I see that the bogeyman Communist Chinese are the ones helping to finance our incredibly stupid war in Iraq. We are in debt to them up to our eyeballs, and all I can find in America today are goods made in China. Wake up! It’s Halliburton and big oil and big industry who call the shots. All your other ideas about freedom and democracy are just empty rhetoric. Go out and grab yourself a copy of Orwell’s 1984.

Leslee McCarty
Hillsboro, W. Va.
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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An analysis of the news
Polls and surveys are fun but also harbor big flaws
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country is awash in polling figures: Free trade treaty, presidential elections, the topics are many and polls and surveys will increase in number as the Feb. 5 national elections draw near.

But frequently such polls are a persuasion technique and not a valid attempt to determine the public mind.

The free trade treaty is an example. Hardly anyone has read it. Those who have can barely understand it. A committee set up by President Abel Pacheco is taking a month to study it. Yet opinions on the free trade treaty are the topics of some polls. The polls seem to be reported by news media who support the pact.

Small differences in question wording can affect poll results dramatically, The Associated Press points out in its survey guidelines for newspeople. So the opinions of those who contract for the poll is important to know.

When a survey firm here questions Costa Ricans about their opinions of the free trade treaty, the results measure something other than the respondent's reasoned evaluation of the text of the document. The actual factor being measured may be political allegiance or union membership.

With presidential polls at this early point in the campaign, the results really measure name
 recognition. The candidates have not set out a program in detail. And there are 14 national parties. Óscar Arias Sánchez leads every presidential poll because he is the best known candidate. He also had the advantage of strong early advertising.

The free trade treaty will never come to a public vote, so the opinions of citizens is not relevant. The opinions that count are those of the members of the
Asamblea Nacional, which may have a chance to vote on the document. Presumably the legislators will study the document and summaries of it and act in a way that will best benefit Costa Rica and not the way their friends say they should vote.

When polls are published with flashy graphics and with multiple stories exploring various demographic sectors, the reader can easily be misled into thinking that the results are important.

At best they are transitory, and one mathematical certainty is that a certain number of poll results are guaranteed to be incorrect. That is what a probability of 95 percent means. Only 95 percent of the time will the poll be on the money.

Nevertheless, polls and surveys make good news stories, particularly in slow news periods. As the campaign warms up and voters become more aware of their choices, some polls may mean something.

But even then the careful reader takes them all with a grain of salt.

Minister says nation will take over international airport if necessary
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is getting ready to take over operations at Juan Santamaría airport if that becomes necessary, according to Randall Quirós. He is the minister of Obras Públicas y Transportes and it is in his ministry where airport matters are decided.

Quirós appeared at a press conference Wednesday to respond to allegations that he had pressured members of the Consejo Técnico de Aviación Civil. Four members of that council quit last week and said they had been pressured to approve a revised contract with Alterra Partners, the private firm that has a concession to manage the airport.

The consejo and Alterra had been conducting secret negotiations. The resignations caught the attention of
 legislators who have asked Quirós to visit next week and explain what happened. The minister showed a stack of papers lawmakers had asked him to fill out in answer to their specific questions.

Alterra says that it is entitled to millions in reimbursements for expenses. The government and the fiscal watchdog, the Contraloría General de la República, says the amount is much less.

Because of the dispute and lack of money, Alterra has frozen work on a number of projects at the Alajuela-based airport west of San José. It now appears that much of the work will not be done as the country enters high tourist season in December.

Quirós said he is hopeful that an accord can be reached.

A report from CR-Home Realty
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.

CR-HOME REALTY     www.cr-home.com     011-506-444-1695   randy@cr-home.com

OAS says violence against women is rights issue
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Cooperation is needed among the countries of the Americas to end violence against women, which the Organization of American States calls a human rights problem.

The hemispheric organization is hosting a three-day meeting this week in which experts are working to put into force a 1994 convention that offers strategies to prevent violence against women.

Albert Ramdin, the organization's assistant secretary general, said in a speech at the meeting that violence against women is a scourge that "impedes social development and restricts the ability of women in all walks of life from attaining their full potential."

Ramdin said the alarming and sobering magnitude of the problem of violence against women "reflects the need for regional cooperation to achieve the purposes" of the 1994 convention.  He said the issue is far too important to be ignored, because it transcends politics.
The Organization of American States, said Ramdin, has played an important role in addressing the issue through its Inter-American Commission of Women. 

The commission acts to carry out the 1994 convention, whose full title is the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Sanction and Eradicate Violence Against Women. 

The convention is described as the first inter-American agreement to address the problem.

Ramdin, citing the organization's work to combat violence against women, said: "The OAS has demonstrated once again the critical position that it occupies and the attention that it can bring to bear on issues of such hemispheric and global importance in order to effectuate change."

He added: "Whether educated or unschooled, wealthy or poor, living in developed or developing countries, urban or rural areas, women often confront violent threats to their wellbeing, their livelihoods and their lives."

Top U.S. lawman visits Colombia for discussions
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

BOGOTA, Colombia — The United States and Colombia have forged increasingly close ties over the last few years, a fact U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales affirmed as he traveled to Bogota  for a two-day visit to strengthen communication and cooperation between the two nations.

Gonzalez met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and other senior Colombian officials during his visit this week and applauded the productive partnership the United States and Colombia have forged.

“I believe that Colombia and the United States have never been closer, and we have never accomplished more together in such a relatively short time,” he said.

The attorney general lauded Colombia as “a beacon to the world” for its efforts to combat corruption and terrorism and its initiatives to build a better justice system for the Colombian people.
“We have seen your progress and we admire all that you have done,” Gonzales said.

The U.S. official added that the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to standing with the Uribe administration and helping in any way it can.  Gonzales said his meetings in Colombia provided an opportunity to openly discuss concerns and differences as well as confront challenges.

As part of this process, Gonzales noted that extradition is a critical tool in addressing criminality in both countries. “The extradition partnership the United States has with Colombia is the best we have in the world,” he said.  “This important relationship enables both countries to deal effectively and forcefully with serious criminal organizations and individuals.”

Within the context of this relationship, the attorney general stated that the United States intends to honor its obligations and commitments.

Venezuela's Chávez offers to give cheap gasoline to the U.S. poor
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez has offered to provide cheap gasoline to low income Americans faced with rising gas prices.

Chávez made the offer Tuesday as he was departing Cuba following a meeting with Cuban President Fidel Castro. The Venezuelan leader said his country could
supply cheap gasoline — with Washington's approval — directly to poor Americans if intermediaries who "speculated and exploited consumers" were cut out.

Venezuela is the world's fifth largest oil producer and enjoys some of the world's lowest gas prices.

The Bush administration has called Chávez a destabilizing influence in Latin America.

Jo Stuart
About us
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