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(506) 2223-1327          Published  Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 169          Email us
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Major Christmas theater production coming to Jacó
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The location may be really, really off Broadway, but Jacó is getting a professional theater and a venue to match.

The site is the new Oceans Center that will host “A Christmas Carol,” the uplifting musical by Michael Sgouros and Brenda Bell Dec. 20 to 30. The group Teatro Jacó said the hour-long performance will feature both the New York City award winning cast as well as approximately 16 Costa Rican musicians and actors who will make their professional stage debut.

The original musical score contains traditional Christmas carols sung in Spanish with a robust percussion ensemble composed of marimba, vibes, tympani, bells and chimes which brings the score to life, said an announcement.

Teatro Jaco  was founded by Darren Lee Cole, co-owner of the SoHo Playhouse in New York City and producer of hundreds of theatrical productions worldwide, said the group.

He also is involved in business in Jacó.

Musical workshops will be conducted Oct. 24 and 25 at local schools by Sgouros, the composer, Ms. Bell, who wrote the book and lyrics, and Cole, the director, to prepare young actors for their auditions, and answer questions about commitment to become part of a professional cast, the announcement said. Auditions will be conducted at Oceans Center in Jacó Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Oct. 27 from  10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Actors should prepare a short song, preferably a favorite Christmas carol to perform, the announcement said..

Rehearsals begin Oct. 28 via live web cam to unite the New York cast with the Jaco cast, it added.
This production is a joint partnership with Teatro Jaco and Patrick Hundley of DayStar Properties whose mission is to “ Bring the world of entertainment to Jaco” while inspiring local talent through funding arts programming and educational workshops for the central Pacific region, said the announcement.

The production is described as a lively musical adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens tale with Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the Christmas ghosts and others. This is typical holiday fare in New York, but what makes the Jacó event possible is DayStar's Ocean Center, a  multipurpose entertainment, corporate meetings and private event facility which includes the 150-seat theater.

Teatro Jacó said it gave its initial show,  “Jamaica Farewell,” at its temporary home, Canciones del Mar. The theater organization said it seeks to accomplish three primary programs: the establishment of local school performing arts classes, the formation of a community theatre group and the creation of special internships matching local students with international artists. And it plans to host top-level theater.

“Our connection to theaters worldwide gives us a unique opportunity to bring internationally renowned artists to the Central Pacific who will create an enriching cultural arts experience for both tourists and Costa Rican audiences,” Teatro Jacó says on its Web page.

Sgouros is an accomplished performer and owner of The Players Theater in New York. Ms. Bell is the co-owner of the Showboat Dinner Theatre in Clearwater, Florida, and has a number of theater writing credits.

DayStar Properties is a major developer of luxury vacation condominiums in the area.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 169

Costa Rica Expertise



Sportsmen's Lodge

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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bad bills
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública

Here are the bills that were fake

Pocket full of fake bills
not enough for an arrest

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S.-bound air passenger was found to be carrying nearly $10,000 in counterfeit $100 bills Wednesday, but he was allowed to leave after police confiscated the funny money.

The incident took place at Juan Santamaría airport. The  Policía Aeroportuaria of the Fuerza Pública said they found 95 fake bills in the pocket of the 34-year-old traveler. He was identified by the last name of Modia. Police officers sought the expertise of workers at a bank at the airport. Some of the bills had the same serial number, police said.

The man is a U.S. citizen originally from Cuba, police said.

Police could not hold the man or his female companion because there is a flaw in Costa Rica's law. So although the pair missed their flight, they were allowed to leave later without the bills. They headed to Miami Thursday.

The $9,500 was below the limit that would have required reporting in an international flight if the bills were authentic.


Another Golfito official jailed
in bribery investigation

 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another municipal official in Golfito has been remanded to jail for six months preventative detention.

The Police Judicial said that the suspect was identified by a bribe victim as the person who arranged an appointment for the delivery of cash to insure the issuance of a property concession in the maritime zone.

The official, a woman, was identified by the last name of  Reyes Morales. She is a regidora, or municipal council member.

The order to jail the woman came after a private hearing in the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda del II Circuito Judicial de San José.

The amount involved was reported to be $150,000. The act took place Aug. 1 when two U.S. citizens worked with investigators. The meeting led to the arrest of the municipal mayor and two other officials then.

The case is being handled by the Fiscalía Adjunta de Probidad, Transparencia y Anticorrupción.

 
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.
Click a story for the summary








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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 169

Prisma dental

In tough economy, many firms opt for surveys, focus groups
Special from Costa Rica Business

As conducting business becomes more complex, some firms are turning to traditional social science methods to get a leg up on competition.

Gone are the times when money flowed through the streets of San José like rainwater. Each colón today has to be earned.

So marketing departments are turning more frequently to the professionals for surveys, focus groups and other techniques to tap the public mind.

Public opinion companies are international now, and many have offices in Costa Rica. UNIMER and CID Gallup are two such firms. Usually such firms have a low profile until election time when their estimates of voter support become top news.

Yet quietly they are conducting all sorts of research, and some results become public. UNIMER, for example, can report that four of every 10 Costa Ricans participate in marketing promotions and that 17 percent of the population is paralyzed by earthquakes.

Says CID Gallup on its Web page: The market changes and the companies to remain competitive should know the variables that affect them, including price and advertising as well as the preference of the consumer.

Such surveys can provide new life to sagging products or they can identify a vacancy in the market for a new product.

The Gallup firm, of course, bears the name of George Gallup, the legendary U.S. pollster who correctly picked the outcome of the 1936 Franklin Roosevelt-Alf Landon presidential elections when others did not. Gallup was a proponent of inferential sampling. His followers usually can assess the public mind with a bit more than 1,000 respondents. By contrast, the Literary Digest predicted that Alf Landon would win the presidency based on more than 2 million postcard respondents. The magazine sought responses from those who owned motor vehicles and those who had telephones, but Gallup tapped the less rich and the poor, the people who re-elected Roosevelt.

Eventually pollsters realized that the bigger market was in advertising and in launching products. Every day various firms conduct telephone surveys in Costa Rica, but many
expats are unaware either because they struggle in Spanish or because their age is outside the parameters of the survey.

The marketplace loves young shoppers.

One of the latest firms to seek professional help with its public image is The Tico Times, which is the subject of a series of focus groups.

Such focus groups are the opposite of surveys where responses from a variety of people are sought. The key to a good focus group is uniformity, whether the 15 or so participants are all mothers with young children or professional sports season ticket holders. The participants are placed in a room where a moderator directs the conversation, sometimes with cues radioed in from the team watching the proceedings through a one-way window.

Something magic happens in a well-managed focus group. The participants begin digging deep and explaining their true feelings. Meanwhile, their words are being taken  down on video or sound recordings for future study.

Costa Rica is not as friendly as Madison Avenue to advanced social science techniques, even though the possibility has been here for a long time. UNIMER started in 1987.

The Instituto Costarricense Turismo does its own variation of a survey at the boarding lounge of the international airports and where cruise ships dock. There are some problems with that effort. Generally travelers are not going to express their real feelings to a smiling young lady who is asking questions about their trip. And those who respond are not selected in a random fashion to allow their answers to be inferred to the entire population of tourists. The institute publishes a lot of its data on its Web site.

An apparent big user of social science techniques is Cervercería Costa Rica, the beer company. The frequent introduction of new brands or variations of existing brands suggests a continuing program of market study.

An ominous aspect of public opinion polling is in the creation of a political candidate. Pollsters know where there are openings in the political landscape. One candidate may be too conservative and another too liberal. Campaign managers, using polling data, will attempt to define their candidate so he or she addresses the desires of as many voters as possible, regardless of the candidate's true opinions and feelings.


Marijauna was there when her body needed it
Some years ago I read an article about the coca plant and its use by the people in the Peruvian Andes. They chewed the coco leaf while they worked, and it was a boon as an antidote to altitude sickness and enabling them to work long hours with little sleep or food.  Thanks to the many ingredients in the leaf, including the B vitamins, it seems the people did not become addicted nor did it have deleterious side effects.

In modern times humans have isolated the chemicals of the coco leaf, removing the vitamins and chemical compounds, and we have some effective pain killers and more or less pure cocaine, both among the most addictive drugs being sold.

This week the Newshour on PBS TV had a segment on the scientific research on the medical uses of marijuana based upon a documentary done by the University of Montana (Check Montana PBS:  “Clearing the Smoke…”)

Humans have been using cannabis for medical, religious and recreational purposes, all legally and socially accepted for nearly 6,000 years.  It was legal in the United States until the mid 1930s when “Reefer Madness” hit the screens. The title of the film tells it all.

It is generally accepted that cannabis is very effective in alleviating nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite associated with treatments for cancer.  It is also effective in treating Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, to name a few maladies.  Some pharmaceutical researchers are trying to isolate the cannabinoid that treats the side effects of chemotherapy and other medications without giving the cancer patient the euphoric feeling associated with pot.  They have synthesized one drug, Marinol, that almost does it, but is not as effective or acceptable to patients as smoking the herbal variety.  The marijuana leaf has sixty-six cannabinoids, many of them, researchers are discovering, have other medicinal properties.  But as with the coco leaf, we just can’t leave nature alone, even when it seems to know best.

In the 1970s I had breast cancer.  It was a time when the disease was still whispered about and never admitted to. Treatments were clumsier and more drastic than they are today.

Following my operation, I went through radiation and chemotherapy. I experienced being drawn on with a black pencil and lying naked on a cold slab in an even colder room to be zapped with radiation and being injected with body punishing chemotherapy.  During this time I smoked marijuana.  Among the side effects of smoking was a lessened anxiety on my part and the ability to be more objective about my hospital visits, to relax, and even laugh.  During this time, I also taught two college courses
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart


at different schools and held down a part-time office job.

After doing some research, I quit chemotherapy in my third or fourth week because studies found it was not very effective for women in my age range.  Why kill all my other healthy cells on those odds, my objective mind told me.

Smoking pot has not been a part of my life for a very long time.  But it was there when I needed it.  What a shame that it has become a subject of so much misinformation, downright lies and ignorance due to politics, religion, greed and the inability to patent it.

I started this column planning to write about food.  There is not much room, left but there is one quick and easy recipe that seems appropriate because it is great if you have the munchies.  

I have long wondered what sauce cockaigne was.  The name sounds suspicious, but I found a recipe in the respectable “Joy of Cooking.”  I have always thought it was associated with New Orleans but here is my own Costa Rican version:

Sauce cockaigne

1 cup dried apricots chopped fine

1 cup water

Cook in a heavy bottomed sauce pan until apricots disintegrate when stirred with a whisk.

Add ½ cup miel de cana (can substitute white or brown sugar) and

1 15-oz. can of crushed pineapple

Bring mixture to boil again.

Cool and store in glass jar in refrigerator.  It lasts a long time and is good with everything from yoghurt or cereal to a topping for ice cream or even something salty.  It is especially good on whatever your version of Bananas Foster is, or alone by the tablespoonful.  I don’t think it works on frozen broccoli.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 169









Hurricane Irene is a major hurricane, and satellite data shows its diameter is now about one-third the length of the U.S. Atlantic coastline. Here it is still over the Bahamas.

Hurricane Irene
National Aeronautics and Space Administration GOES-13 photo

Influence of Hurricane Irene is diminishing in Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

As Hurricane Irene moves north to threaten the United States, the humidity it poured into Costa Rica is diminishing.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said a return to the pattern typical of this season will take place today and into the weekend. That means warm mornings with clouds and rain in the afternoon.

Because of the motion of the hurricane, much of the moisture generated by Irene fell on the Pacific coast. Meanwhile in the Atlantic, Tropical Depression 10 has formed around a low pressure area that is moving West. That will affect the weather here next week.

At midnight, Irene was about 460 miles or 740 kilometers south southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It has sustained winds of 115 mph or 185 kph and was moving due north at 14 mph or 22 kph.

Eastern U.S. states are scrambling to prepare for a possible onslaught from the Category three powerful hurricane.
Forecasters Thursday issued hurricane watches and warnings for much of the eastern coast from North Carolina through New Jersey, where the storm is expected to hit starting on Saturday.  Authorities in some of the affected areas are already evacuating residents and beach visitors.

The governors of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York have declared states of emergency to free
up resources ahead of Hurricane Irene.

In Virginia, the U.S. Navy ordered ships at a major port out to sea where it said they can better weather such storms. Meanwhile, the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, urged residents to prepare to move to higher ground, saying some areas of the city could be ordered to evacuate.

The storm pounded The Bahamas with winds as high as 185 kph, although the National Hurricane center said the storm's effects should begin to diminish there. Irene is currently a Category Three storm on a five-point scale, and the hurricane center has labeled it dangerous.

The head of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, told reporters Thursday that Irene will not just be a coastal storm. He said the storm will have an impact well inland, both from flooding and winds, which can topple trees and cause power outages.

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said even the nation's capital could be directly affected.

Irene is the first hurricane to seriously threaten the United States in three years.

Authorities say Irene could cause flooding in the U.S. mid-Atlantic and New England regions, where soil is saturated from recent heavy rains.

The core of the hurricane will pass well offshore of the east coast of central and northern Florida today.


Court upholds firing of recruiter who touched female applicant
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's highest labor court appears to be holding public officials to a higher standard at least as far as sexual harassment.

The court, the Sala II, upheld the dismissal without employer responsibilities of a man who headed the recruitment section of the Patronato National de la Infancia, the child welfare organization.

The case stems from 2003 and has been under appeal most of that time in the lower labor courts.

The man who has the last name of Quirós was a 20-year employee when he was let go. Had he won his appeal, he sought back pay reinstatement and other benefits.
The firing centers on his caressing the face of an employment applicant, according to the decision released by the Poder Judicial.

The decision also seem to be a big step in the courts recognizing sexual harassment.

The magistrates based much of the decision on the fact that the man was a public employee.

Because of his job, the man was required to comply with the obligations set forth in Costa Rican law.

The allegation was contract to the physical integrity and the dignity of the women who was seeking the job. In addition, the man was in a position of power when compared to the job applicant, said the magistrates.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 169

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Stolen works by Rembrandt
provide fodder for book


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A drawing by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, valued at $250,000, was stolen from a hotel in Southern California this month. It was quickly recovered.

But the whereabouts of three Rembrandts stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum more than 20

Rembrandt as a youth
This 1630 self-portrait of Rembrandt, stolen in Stockholm in 2000, was later recovered in Copenhagen.
years ago, in the largest art heist in American history, remains a mystery.

Now, a security expert and an investigative reporter have teamed up to chronicle the history of Rembrandt heists in a new book, called "Stealing Rembrandts, The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists," and are optimistic the long-time mystery will be solved.

St. Patricks Day in 1990 was festive at first but, late at night, two men dressed as police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Using handcuffs and duct tape to
subdue the guards, they made off with 13 artworks, including three Rembrandts, a Vermeer and a Manet. The booty was worth several hundred million dollars.

About 15 years later, with the works still missing, Anthony Amore, a former Homeland Security official, was tapped to head security at the museum. To solve the crime, he set out to learn about Rembrandt thefts over the last 100 years.

“The first step was to research old police records, talk to federal agencies, look at old archived newspaper articles," says Amore. "Then, reach international organizations, Interpol and the rest. And then, through those, especially for older thefts that happened decades ago, I found that art thieves were willing to speak about what they had done.”

Amore joined forces with Tom Mashberg, an investigative reporter. Together, they made interesting discoveries about art thieves in general.

“These guys were involved in all kinds of theft," says Amore. "They were also familiar with robbing things like banks or pharmacies, armored car robberies, home invasions."

“And we were really shocked to discover that there had been 81 robberies involving Rembrandts in the last 100 years,” Mashberg adds.

Rembrandt is one of the most stolen artists of all time, second only to Picasso. Mashberg says the fame of the Dutch master makes his work a target.

“He left behind at least 1,000 works in the U.S., Europe, Canada and other parts of the world. His name is so familiar even to the most common criminal.”

For example, Rembrandt's 'Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn' has been stolen four times from the Dulwich Gallery in London.

The accessibility of museum art, Mashberg says, is another factor. 

“When you go into a museum, you don’t want to see armed guards everywhere. You don’t want art to be behind Plexiglas and you don’t want to hear alarms go off every time you get within a couple of feet to a famous painting."

Art thefts are frequent, and some end badly.  

“One of the paintings by Rembrandt, a portrait of his wife, was actually burned by the criminals and destroyed forever because they were afraid they would be caught and put in prison,” Mashberg says.

However, in 80 percent of the cases, the work turns up unharmed.

And it's not uncommon for art thieves to make stupid decisions. In the 1972 robbery at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, a gang of thieves stole Rembrandt’s "St. Bartholomew," as well as works by Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin.

“It was amazing for me to learn that, not only did the thieves start boasting about it right away which led to arrests," Amore says, "but that the mastermind of the crime ultimately hid the Rembrandt painting in a barn, on a pig farm about 40 minutes from his home. So, it really struck me to think that this beautiful painting was in such a profane place."

Unlike diamonds or gold, valuable paintings have little street value. They are instantly recognizable and cannot be reintroduced into the marketplace without attracting attention, which makes it difficult for criminals to sell them.

“We have several cases in the book where the thieves just gave up and left the paintings off in a public place, like a train station or a park, and then called the police and said ‘Why don’t you just go pick it up,'" Mashberg says. "'It’s too much trouble.’"

But that hasn't worked for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  According to reports, the FBI recently re-tested DNA from the crime scene to develop new leads.

Mashberg and Amore remain optimistic that the Rembrandts stolen more than 20 years ago will be recovered. Although they won't divulge details about the case, they say, history shows stealing art doesn’t pay.


Mexican casino is the scene
for massacre of patrons


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

At least 20 people have been killed after armed assailants set fire to a casino in northern Mexico. Monterrey Mayor Fernando Larrazabal told reporters Thursday people remain trapped inside the burning building and rescue efforts are ongoing.

Initial accounts reported the gunmen had used grenades, but state officials now say the attackers doused the casino in a flammable liquid and set it ablaze.

Witnesses reported dense smoke around the building.

The motive for the attack is so far unknown. However, drug-related violence is on the rise in Monterrey, on the border with the United States.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 169

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Latin America news
load of cocaine
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Judicial agents intercepted a truck in Liberia that was headed to Nicaragua Wednesday. They said they found these 402 one-kilo packages of cocaine in a compartment in the floor and detained the driver.


Parents held in death of tot
from a series of blows


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two parents were detained as agents investigate the beating death of their 14-day-old child.

The death took place July 1. The baby had the last names of Esquivel Garro. The child lived with his mother, identified by the last name of Garro, in Alajuelita. The woman told investigators that she heard the child crying and saw that he was ill and called 911. The baby died in the Hospital Nacional de Niños.

An autopsy showed that the baby died from multiple blows to the body, especially the head, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The child was characterized as being a victim of battered child syndrome

The father of the child works in a hospital for persons with mental problems, and the mother works with children, agents said.

Escazú and La Carpio
are drug arrest scenes


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man in Bello Horizonte de Escazú was detained Wednesday when the Policía de Control de Drogas found seven marijuana plants in his possession. He was identified by the last names of Bermúdez Chinchilla. Anti-drug agents said they also found chopped up marijuana and fertilizer.

In La Carpio in La Uruca agents detained three individuals who had drugs and money in their possession, agents said. They were identified by the last names and ages of Fuentes Díaz, 32, Vásquez Ayalan 26, and Chávez Narváez, 39, said agents.

Confiscated were 735 doses of crack cocaine and marijuana as well as cash believed to be the proceeds of sales, said agents.

Agents said the trio are accused of selling in the proximity of a school and that the arrests came after telephoned complaints from the area.

Internet provider plans
slowdown this weekend


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Technicians at the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said they will be working on the company's Internet service through Sunday, mostly between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. There many be outages or delays, they said.

Affected will be the 3G network, the metro ethernet for businesses, the Acelera system and wimax.

The company said it was installing new equipment.





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