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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Monday Aug. 27, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 170                          Email us
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Dancers from San Jose's Escuela República de Haití keep traditions alive in a presentation at the Feria International del Libro that began Friday at the Antigua Aduana east of the downtown.

See story
Book fair dancers
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson

Sailor aboard 'USNS Sacagawea' hooks up a pallet to 'USS Carr's' SH-60B helicopter during what is called a vertical replenishment.

Helicopter delivery
U.S. Navy photo/Billy Bernal
Air delivery of cargo is routine for U.S. Navy ships
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy said that the guided missile frigate “USS Carr” was waiting offshore for a week with the hope that Costa Rican lawmakers would approve a port visit to unload important marijuana evidence.

When lawmakers for the Partido Acción Ciudadana blocked a vote that would have approved the visit, the “Carr” was forced to leave without unloading the evidence.

At least that is the story from U.S. officials here.

However, that account is contradicted by a photo published on the U.S. Southern Command Web site. The photo shows an SH-60B helicopter from the “Carr” picking up supplies from the “USNS Sacagawea” cargo ship. The Southern Command calls this a vertical replenishment.

Spokespersons at the U.S. Embassy here were unable to say for the record why the “Carr” did not simply dispatch its helicopter to bring the marijuana evidence to Costa Rica or to drop it onto a Costa Rican coast guard boat.

Some Costa Rican law enforcement officials said that the smuggling suspects may go free without the evidence.
The “Carr's” home port is Norfolk, Virginia. The ship is in the Caribbean in support of Operation Martillo, the multinational anti-drug effort.

The Southern Command also disclosed that the ship will be decommissioned next year.

The helicopter crew on the “Carr” spotted the marijuana smugglers some 100 miles northeast of Limón, and eventually three persons were detained by Costa Rican patrol boat crews.

Also in August, the “Carr” received repair parts from a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol P-3 Orion patrol aircraft.  The parts were dropped in a sealed canister, and a  rigid hull inflatable boat went to retrieve it.

While that was taking place, the Southern Command said that the helicopter crew spotted another small boat that was intercepted.

The U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment on the “Carr” boarded the vessel and seized 1,250 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately $17 million, said the Southern Command.
The commanding officer of the “Carr” is Cmdr. Patrick Kulakowski, said the Southern Command on its Web site.

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Isaac heads for U.S. mainland,
but effects are still felt here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with wire service reports

Tropical Storm Isaac is off the coast of Florida now, but local weather forecasters say there still are effects being felt locally.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said in a 7 p.m. bulletin that heavy rains were expected in the central and south Pacific overnight and that in the north Pacific much of the rain would be confined to the mountains. The prediction was for from 10 to 20 millimeters, from about four-tenths of an inch to about eight-tenths of an inch.

The forecasters correctly called the bank of fog that settled on the Central Valley Sunday night. The prediction was for isolated showers with total rain of up to 15 millimeters.

The heaviest rain was predicted for the northern zone with a possible 80 millimeters, about three inches, through 7 p.m. today. Forecasters predicted about 20 millimeters on the Caribbean coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that Isaac was moving west northwest over the eastern gulf of Mexico with no change in strength. Some forecasters said they expected the storm to become a hurricane while over the gulf.

Early today the storm was 110 miles or 175 kilometers west of Key West, Florida and 455 miles or 730 kilometers southeast of the Mississippi River mouth.

The U.S. Republican national convention in Tampa, Florida, was scheduled to begin today but the opening day was put off until Tuesday due to the storm.

In Costa Rica TACA Airlines canceled its Miami flights due to the storm.

Isaac lashed Haiti Saturday with torrential downpours that flooded the already-battered capital, Port au Prince, with at least 30 centimeters of rain.

Early reports said three people were dead, as rescue workers scrambled to aid thousands of residents marooned in tent cities since a massive earthquake devastated the city nearly three years ago.

Republican convention officials say they hope the storm will stay far to the west, enabling them to open their national nominating convention Tuesday.
The convention will build to a climax later in the week when Republicans will formally nominate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate to face President Barack Obama.  They will also nominate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as Romney's vice presidential running mate.  Ryan is scheduled to give his acceptance speech Wednesday.

Romney will have his moment in the spotlight on Thursday when an estimated 30 to 40 million people will be watching on national television.
The storm also has impacted protesters who have been gathering in downtown Tampa.

Anti-Romney protester John Penley said Sunday that turnout has been less than expected.

“I think part of what's going on is that people want to see what's going on with the weather. We expect the majority of people to get here today, and people are waiting to see because why come here and then just have to turn around and leave because of a hurricane or really, really strong winds are going to hit the city.”

Find out what the papers
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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
From the Costa Rican press
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Flor de Tabaco from Guanacaste performs as part of the international book fare. There are similar presentations and seminars each day through Sept. 2.

Guanacaste dancers
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson

Local artist captures cultures for kids with three languages
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After Costa Rican artist Ruth Angulo Cruz had her daughter, she began to search for books they could read together that depicted the country’s culture.  To her surprise it was a hard feat.

“In Costa Rica most books are from Mexico, Spain, and Argentina, but there is nothing about our identity,” she said.

To change this, Ms. Angulo began to write and illustrate her own stories. Using Costa Rican animals, she depicts the countries natural attractions.  Now, 12 years later, she has her own line of six books through Casagarbato.

“My daughter likes to learn different languages.  She knew how to say bear and fox, but these are things we don’t have,” she said.  “Kids can learn about things that are closer to us and our culture and our problems.”

These books are written in English, Spanish and Bribri, so children of all backgrounds can share together.

Ms. Angulo also works to preserve some of the native traditions by narrating tales of creation passed down from the Bribri.  The author’s grandmother was Bribri, but she, herself, grew up without learning a lot of the language and customs.

Throughout time the Bribri language has been mostly oral. It is her mission to make an account of the history while giving children from this background the opportunity to see and learn the written language.  As she researches, it is also her goal to learn more about her identity, she said.

“The children are very happy because they don’t have literature in Bribri language.  With the books they can copy letters and read aloud with teachers,” said Ms. Angulo.

Another unique aspect about the books is they can be read in both picture and word form.  Ms. Angulo began as an artist but added words to make her work richer.

“The texts are small with big drawings.  One can read without the huge weight that comes from a lot of words.  They can also read the images that tell the story in way that is different but complementary,” she said.

Ms. Angulo encourages people to send books to others and also to donate books to Bribri, since many of the people can’t afford them.  More information can be found at

The local artist was one of many showcasing their work at
Ms. Angulo
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Ruth Angulo Cruz and her trilingual books.

the Feria International del Libro which began Friday in the Antigua Aduana.  More than 46 international exhibiters from places such as Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Peru, Spain, Nicaragua and the Caribbean are present to sell books.

Also present is Libreria International.  The bookstore offers best-selling series such as “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “50 shades of Grey” and “Eragon” in Spanish.

The fair opened with a Friday morning presentation to children from schools in the area.  Dance students from the Conservatorio de Castella and the Escuela República de Haití danced.

Guanacaste's group Flor de Tabaco presented a dance in honor of the Tica women and Esmeralda Britton danced a Caribbean dance with her partner Sirvano Valerin.

Admission to the fair is 1,000 colons for adults and 500 colons for students.

Economics ministry pushing bill to give consumers more rights
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The economics ministry is pushing a bill that would give more rights to consumers.

Mayi Antillón, the minister, appeared last week before a legislative committee to outline the reasons for a law to defend consumers, No. 7472. She told lawmakers that the existing law has not been changed for 18 years. The proposed law includes regulations for time payments and for credit card sales.

Among other changes, the bill would include small and medium-enterprises as consumers. The bill also would increase from 60 days to six months the period in which a consumer can file a complaint against a vendor.

The bill also would eliminate a fixed period of 30 days for
guarantees and established periods consistent to the type of project. In addition, consumers would have the right to get back the sales price or to get a replacement for the article.

The bill also establishes a special and quick system for hearing consumer complaints.

Companies that sell on time would be required to file documents outlining their policies and agreements. This also would include sales of tickets for future events. This has been a problem in the past when a popular show is canceled, and those who purchased tickets may or may not get their money back.
The measure is one of several with similar goals in the legislative hopper.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio maintains a consumer protection department.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 27, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 170
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Workmen begin with replacement of the roof of the distinctive tower at the church.

work in Heredia
Comité Bandera Azul Ecológica de San Miguel photo

Effort under way to restore historic church in San Miguel
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Work began last week on the restoration of the Iglesia de Castilla in San Miguel de Santo Domingo, Heredia. This is an adobe structure that may date back to 1827.

The work is being done by the Comité Pro Restauración Templo Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which is made up of residents and architects. The group received 40 million colons, about $80,000 from the culture ministry's Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural.

The Comité Bandera Azul Ecológica de San Miguel, which
announced the effort, said that some 30 million more colons are needed to finish the job. They are seeking donations. Much of the money would go to interior repairs.

The church certainly dates from 1878, but there are some local historians who favor the earlier date. The building is adobe with wooden beams. Workmen are repairing the roof with traditional tiles while others are working on the distinctive tower or steeple.

The committee said that there are a number of adobe structures in the area that should be preserved. The church, itself, already has been declared an historic structure.

U.N. agency sees support for family care shared with state
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Care for children, the disabled, the elderly and the sick should not just be the obligation of families but should be one shared by the family and the government.

This statement is the result of a March study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, a United Nations agency. The organization surveyed 500 opinion makers in Latin America. 

According to the survey, 90 percent of those surveyed believe that women are the ones taking care of dependents, and 95 percent of these same people agree that the government should pitch in to help pay for this care. 

"Most of the region's opinion makers believe that care responsibilities should be shared between men and women, and that the state should be the provider of a wide range of care services,” said Antonio Prado, deputy executive secretary.

"Most of those consulted believe that current policies are not sufficient to meet care requirements, and that new policies are needed,” he said. “Achieving greater economic autonomy and equality in the labour market involves adopting social and economic policy measures needed to make progress in the social appreciation and recognition of the economic value of
unpaid work carried out by women in the domestic and care spheres."

Some believe that it is unjust to leave dependent care in the hands of women, and that the society's mental mindset needs to change to where men and women equally share this responsibility, according to a release on the survey.

"There is a mental association between women and the care of children, the sick and older adults, even in labor legislation. This hampers women's employability. That is why we need public policies that generate better conditions for children and dependents. This is a demand for social justice," said Carolina Schmidt, minister of the Chilean national women's service.

This change in cultural mentality has to begin in the institutions, by eliminating discriminations, the release said.

"The changes needed to achieve equality can only be implemented by changing the prejudices that have dominated our societies for so long," said Sonia Montaño, the Economic Commissions director of the division for gender affairs.

However, two thirds of those surveyed answered that, during the next decade, care policies will tend to expand and that opinion makers are one step ahead in recognizing the need to develop new policies, said Luis Eduardo González of the CIFRA consultancy in Uruguay.

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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Search for new medicine
turns to earth's oceans

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Humans have turned to nature for medicines since ancient times. And modern scientists have searched the world’s rainforests for new medicinal compounds. The earth’s oceans may be an even better source, though, and at least 26 drugs that come from marine organisms are currently on the market or in development. A generation of innovative chemists hopes to boost this number.

Chemist Mandë Holford has an unusual partner in her hunt for new medicines: a fierce marine snail, Conus magus, that eats fish. Her study of the creature, she said, is not entirely scientific.

“I fell in love with snails because their shells are gorgeous,” said Ms. Holford, a professor at York College, The City University of New York.

Their tongue-like proboscides, on the other hand, are deadly. They inject prey with venom that’s made of poisonous chains of amino acids, called peptides.

“I like to say that the snails produce a cluster bomb. Inside venom, you have between 50 to 250 peptides," said Ms. Holford. "All target something major in the nervous system. One thing that they hit is a pain signal. When they silence the pain signal, the prey doesn’t go into fight or flight mode.”

So the fish stays calmer than it naturally would, even as it’s being eaten. Chemists already have had one major success repurposing the snail’s peptides — a drug called Prialt eases pain for HIV and cancer patients.

“On your neurons, you have these gates that allow things to pass from one side to the other. The gate that controls chronic pain, they’ve found a way to shut it down using one of the peptides,” said Ms. Holford.

Ms. Holford may have been drawn to study snails by their beauty. She represents a broader trend, however, toward marine research.

“We’ve found some absolutely fascinating chemistry,” said David Newman, who directs the Natural Products Branch of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. After years of collecting organisms on land, his team now collects only marine life, like sponges or corals. He explains that because these organisms can’t move, they rely on chemical warfare.
“I have been known to say that weapons of mass destruction are alive and well on the coral reef, if you happen to be a fellow sponge who’s trying to encroach, or you’re a starfish that’s trying to eat the sponge. These are extremely toxic agents because of the dilution effect of seawater,” said Newman.

For an organization looking to kill cancerous cells, such potent chemicals are an attractive weapon.

And far below coral reefs, some nine kilometers deep, lies what may be an even more promising source — mud.

“Close to 70 percent of the surface of the earth is really deep ocean mud,” said William Fenical, who directs the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography in California. His team focuses on microorganisms living on the sea floor.

“These muds contain about one billion cells in the volume of a sugar cube,” said Fenical.

For comparison, that’s one million times the organic matter you’re likely to find in a similar amount of soil on land. It’s the sheer diversity of this microbial soup that excites Fenical.

“For the last 50 years, microorganisms that occur on land have been exploited for the production of antibiotics, cancer drugs, and cholesterol lowering drugs. What we believe is that the ocean is a completely new resource for such microbial products,” he said.

Fenical’s team already has two drugs in development. He said he sees no end to prospects for ocean-based medicines.

Fake television reporters
snagged in Nicaragua

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nicaragua says it has arrested 18 people posing as journalists, who were traveling with millions of dollars in cash.

Nicaraguan National Police Chief Aminta Granera said the group carrying $7 million in cash was detained earlier in the week when it attempted to enter the country from Honduras. 

Chief Granera said several of the detainees have been confirmed as Mexican citizens.  She said the group, traveling in six vehicles, had posed as reporters from Mexico's Televisa, but were found to have no link to the media company.

Drug-running cartels have cultivated Central American supply lines as Mexico's government wages a military offensive against drug gangs throughout the country.

There have been more than 50,000 drug related killings in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006.

Gas blast rips through
refinery in Venezuela

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A massive explosion has ripped through Venezuela's largest oil refinery, leaving at least 39 people dead.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramírez says Saturday's blast in northwestern Venezuela was caused by a leak that generated an explosive cloud of gas.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the leak at the Amuay facility, which is part of the Paraguana refining complex.

The explosion sparked fires at the refinery and damaged nearby homes. Vice President Elias Jaua traveled to the site. He said most of those killed were members of the country's National Guard.

Investigators say more than 80 people were injured.

The Paraguana facility is one of the biggest refinery complexes in the world.  Ramirez says he expects production at the site to resume within two days.

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Costa Rica has quakes
in the Pacific Ocean, too

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An earthquake estimated at a 7.3 magnitude took place Sunday at 10:37 p.m. off the coast of El Salvador. The epicenter was well into the Pacific.

The primary quake was followed by a 5.4 shaker an hour later, said the U.S. Geological Survey.

Costa Rican youngsters who were participating in an under-15 basketball tournament in El Salvador were reported to be unharmed. They slept through the quake, said a representative.

Costa Rica has its own quakes off shore. A quake estimated at 2.9 took place in the Pacific off San Pedrillo de Osa Friday at 3:14 p.m. There was a second quake 26 minutes after midnight Saturday. The magnitude was estimated by the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica at 3.1.

Later Saturday at 10:07 p.m. there was a 3.1 magnitude quake in the Pacific.

Then Sunday there were three quakes. One at 2:18 a.m., one at 6:18 and a third at 1:43 p.m. All were from 67 kilometers to 83 kilometers offshore. That's about 42 to 52 miles.

Guard who shot U.S. teen
goes on trial today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A hotel guard who shot a U.S. 16 year old by mistake a year ago goes on trial today in the Tribunal Penal de San Carlos.

He is still being identified by his last name, Guevara. Dead is Justin David Johnston, who was a student at McLouth High School in that Kansas community and a member of the school's Spanish club. 

The shooting took place at La Cangreja Lodge in La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Investigators said that the guard did not have a permit to carry the .22-caliber pistol.

The Poder Judicial said that 12 witnesses are expected to testify.

The shooting took place at the lodge when the guard appears to have mistook Johnston and some friends as thieves. 

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the student group had orders to be in their rooms by 10 p.m., but it appears that Johnston and others decided to visit another group of students and managed to evade security to do so.

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