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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 172                          Email us
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Uncritical columnists and reporters as well as creative editors promoted approval for port calls by U.S. ships into a conspiracy, an invasion or occuption.

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Invasion hoax recalled as U.S. port calls again sought
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

As hoaxes go, the invasion of Costa Rica by 7,000 marines does not rank very high.

One must look to Orson Wells and the 1938 Halloween invasion from the planet Mars or perhaps the 19th century Cardiff Giant as truly classic hoaxes.

Wells and his Mercury Theater has the advantage of the newfangled radio to spread his remake of the famous science fiction story.

The psychology behind the Wells saga has been discussed and studied at length, starting with his contemporary Hadley Cantril.

Another report is HERE!

Not much has been written in academics about the Costa Rican invasion, although it should have gotten some notice because it is a jewel of propaganda and gullibility being fanned by the Internet.

The situation that generated the fake information is in the news as lawmakers may again be asked to approve the docking of U.S. warships.

Fabio Molina Rojas, the legislative chief of the Partido Liberación Nacional, said Tuesday that the Asamblea Legislativa must allow the entry of U.S. ships into Costa Rican ports for the exchange of drug evidence and because the country is a signatory to an agreement to fight narcotics smuggling.

The lawmakers said he would present a motion to allow the entry of 24 ships at the rate of eight a week. Such approval is required by the Costa Rican Constitution.

The last fuzz over U.S. ships docking in Costa Rican ports was last week when the “USS Carr” could not bring marijuana seized as evidence ashore because lawmakers did not act.

The motion also would allow the boats to enter for resupply, which will be music to bar owners in the various ports.
The great Marine invasion hoax appears to have had its origins in late July 2012 with Prensa Latina, the Cuban news service. The Cubans certainly were fed the information by persons in Costa Rica who wanted to embarrass the United States and/or the government of Laura Chinchilla Miranda. The Cuban news service report of the arrival of dozens of U.S. boats and 7,000 Marines was picked up uncritically here and elsewhere by even respected publications. One liberal U.S. outlet said “Obama invades, sends 46 warships and 7,000 Marines to Costa Rica.

The bar owners still are waiting. In fact, it appears that what the U.S. Embassy staff did was request port privileges of just about any boat that might happen to be passing by Costa Rica over the span of a year. The list was passed on to lawmakers by the Costa Rican security ministry.

The invasion of Costa Rica by thousands of U.S Marines makes good news copy, and columnists and reporters ate up the rumors, repackaged them and presented them as fact. The phrase generally is “Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.”

Nearly none of the writers was in Costa Rica, and most of the information came from distorted news stories and the Cuban propaganda.

The U.S. Embassy, of course, has now replied with a bit of propaganda of its own. The story is that three marijuana smugglers are going free because Costa Rican lawmakers declined to approve the entry of the “USS Carr” to a Caribbean port to unload the evidence.

A.M. Costa Rica has reported that there were other options to bring the drug evidence ashore, but the current situation characterizes several Partido Acción Ciudadana lawmakers who opposed the idea as individuals soft on drugs.

Embassy officials are hopeful that the new measure put forth by Molina will sail through the legislature. So do the bar owners and the hundreds of Marines, members of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy personnel who would like a few cold brews in their hands and dry land under their feet.




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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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National Aeronautics and Space Administration/ 
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 This is a photo of Hurricane Isaac taken Tuesday about 10:30
 p.m. Costa Rican time. It shows the storm about 100 miles
 south of the Mississippi River mouth.

Hurricane Isaac is testing
New Orleans flood control

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Isaac came ashore late Tuesday, bringing sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour.  Forecasters also warned of dangerous storm surges along the northern U.S. Gulf Coast.

A storm surge of 11 feet was reported at a National Ocean Service tide gauge at Shell Beach, Louisiana, said the Hurricane Center, adding that a storm surge of 6.9 feet was observed at a National Ocean Service tide gauge in Waveland, Mississippi.

Earlier Tuesday, President Barack Obama urged residents to get out of the way, if they can.

"We are dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area. Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings," said Obama.

Earlier, forecasters reported flooding along low-lying areas along the coast. 

New Orleans Louisiana Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been preparing his city for a possible direct hit.

''We have dodged a bullet in the sense that this is not a category three storm but a category one; at this strength from 85 to 100 mph winds with 125 mph gusts is plenty big enough to put a big hurt on you if you fall into complacency," said Landrieu.

The president has declared states of emergency for Louisiana and Mississippi. That declaration opens the door for federal funding, almost seven years to the day that Hurricane Katrina slammed into the region, causing massive damage.

New Orleans officials are telling residents to be prepared to live without regular water or power supplies for several days.  But not everyone is ready to leave.

Jennifer Landix in the city's Lower 9th Ward is one of those staying put.

"We'll probably get some street flooding from the rain, but you know, heavy winds and stuff, the lights may go out, but we're prepared for all of that. I'm not really in the mood for leaving, let's just put it that way," said Ms. Landix.

Experts say the storm could test New Orleans' upgraded flood control and levee systems, which were put in place after Hurricane Katrina left 1,800 people dead in 2005. 

Isaac battered eastern Cuba Saturday, after killing at least 19 people in Haiti, which is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake. Two people were killed in the Dominican Republic.  There were no reports of fatalities in Cuba.

 
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
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German couple in Playa Grande win $4 million in arbitration
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The International Centre for Settlement of Disputes has ruled that Costa Rica must pay a German couple, Marion and Reinhard Unglaube, $4,065,900.33. 

This settlement comes after Ms. Unglaube brought the  government to arbitration for denying her a permit to develop a residential property project in Playa Grande.  The property was going to be for eco-tourism.

According to the case, Ms. Unglaube bought the land, but it was later designated as part of a national park for turtles. The site is said to be one of the places leatherback turtles nest.

Despite plans for the new residential area to be turtle friendly,
 officials blocked the project in 2003. 

Ms. Unglaube had all necessary documents to go forward.

The investor registered a request for arbitration on Jan. 25, 2008, on the grounds that the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investment Treaty between Germany and Costa Rica had been violated.  This treaty is also referred to as BIT.

The umbrella clause in this treaty allows investors to file claims with the investment treaty tribunal for breach of contract.

The courts released a ruling May 16 that said that the treaty had been breeched and Costa Rica is required to pay $3.1 million plus interest to the date of the award in the amount of $965.900.33.


Emergency officials express satisfaction with tsunami alert setup
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials in the national emergency commission are expressing satisfaction with the way the country's tsunami alert system worked Sunday.

The commission convened a session Tuesday of experts on earthquakes and the coast to discuss what happened Sunday night. That was when a 7.3-magnitude earthquake took place off the shore of El Salvador. A tsunami alert followed quickly.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center alerted Costa Rican officials as well as officials in Guatemala, México, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Panamá. Workers at the Comisión
Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias quickly notified local emergency commission staffers along the Pacific coast about the possibility of a tsunami, the commission reported Tuesday.

The commission also turned to social networks and the mass media to alert coastal residents, but the warning was canceled quickly. There was a small wave detected in southern El Salvador.

The persons who attended the meeting agreed that some strengthening of the alert system was needed and that official reports should be sent out to counter false reports that were seen on some of the social networks.


Country prepared to dress itself in patriotic colors for September
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

September is considered the patriotic month because the Día de la Independencia falls on Sept. 15. This year that is a Saturday. Many Costa Ricans will have a long weekend because the day will be marked on the previous Friday.

Traditionally, public and private buildings put on patriotic colors this month. Bunting with the national colors will be draped on structures in the judicial complex, and even many homes will sport at least a Costa Rican flag.

The Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, S.A. said Tuesday that workers soon would begin hanging flags on utility polls on the Autopista General Cañas.

This is the nation's 191st independence day.

The workers will be on the highway with trucks and a crane to do the work, so the electric company urges caution by drivers.
For U.S. citizens Monday is Labor Day, the traditional end of summer. This also causes a three-day weekend in the United States. The U.S. Embassy here will be closed Monday and Sept. 14. The Día de la Independencia is a legal holiday in Costa Rica.

For tourism operators, Labor Day in the United States has another meaning. It is the time that residents there begin looking for a warm place to wait out the northern snows, ice and cold winds. For tourism the high season already has started, or at least the high season in making reservations and collecting deposits.

There has been some effort by historians to change the date that Costa Ricans celebrate their independence. Since 1838, the day has been Sept. 15. But that was the date that independence was declared from the Spanish crown in Guatemala. There was a time lapse before the news reached the backwater of Costa Rica.

Some are suggesting Oct. 29, the date Costa Rican lawmakers ratified the independence in 1821.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 172
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Ocean study contrasts prehistoric extinctions with situation now
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ocean scientists in Panamá and elsewhere are comparing today's situation with those of the largest extinctions in prehistory.

Aaron O’Dea, a staff scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panamá, along with researchers from the United States, Australia, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom, compared conditions that created massive extinctions of sea life in the past to events occurring in the oceans today, the institute said.

Three of five of the largest extinctions during the last 500 million years were associated with global warming and ocean acidification — both of which threaten marine life today, the
institute noted. In the Great Death at the end of the Permian period 250 million years ago, an estimated 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification and loss of oxygen, it said.

"We see clear evidence from both the past and the present that sea life can bounce back, if given a chance to do so," said John Pandolfi, professor at the University of Queensland and former Smithsonian Institute post-doctoral fellow.

"That means a combined effort that implements and enforces reserves where marine life has a refuge and also tackles the global drivers of warming and acidification," added O'Dea.
Their academic article, “Extinctions in ancient and modern seas,” was published online in “Trends in Ecology and Evolution.”


Scientists suggest that evolution has environmental limits
By the University of California
at Los Angeles news service


There are more than 400,000 species of beetles and only two species of the tuatara, a reptile cousin of snakes and lizards that lives in New Zealand. Crocodiles and alligators, while nearly 250 million years old, have diversified into only 23 species. Why evolution has produced winners — including mammals and many species of birds and fish — and losers is a major question in evolutionary biology.
 
Scientists have often posited that because some animal and plant lineages are much older than others, they have had more time to produce new species (the dearth of crocodiles notwithstanding). This idea — that time is an important predictor of species number — underlies many theoretical models used by biologists. However, it fails to explain species numbers across all multi-cellular life on the planet, a team of life scientists reports Aug. 28 in the online journal PLoS Biology, a publication of the Public Library of Science.
 
"We found no evidence of that," said Michael Alfaro, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior author of the new study. "When we look across the tree of life, the age of the group tells us almost nothing about how many species we would expect to find. In most groups, it tells us nothing."
 
Another idea, that some groups are innately better or worse at producing species, similarly fails to explain differences in species number among all of the major living lineages of plants
 and animals, the life scientists found.
 
"We know that some groups, like flowering plants or cichlid fishes, have been exceptionally good at producing species during certain periods of their evolutionary history," Alfaro said. "However, when we look at the ages of all of the major groups of plants and animals, these differences in speciation rate are not sufficient to explain the differences in species number that exist in extant groups."
 
Alfaro and his colleagues studied 1,397 major groups of multi-cellular eukaryotes — including animals, plants and fungi — that account for 1.2 million species. Working as evolutionary detectives, they were able to see whether the groups that split the earliest tended to have the most species.

They assigned a species richness score to these 1,397 groups, using novel statistical and computational methods they developed.
 
If age does not explain species diversity, an alternative idea is that a lineage will produce species up until the point that it fills an adaptive zone that allows a maximum number of species, Alfaro said. In other words, a lineage of bats, whales or penguins has a maximum capacity that is determined by habitat requirements and competitors.
 
"Most of the groups that we studied have hit their limits," he said. "Ecological limits can explain the data we see. What's really driving things is how many times lineages evolve new innovations that move them into new adaptive zones.

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Role of genetics appearing
in person's political beliefs


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the Republican National Convention gets under way in Florida with Mitt Romney formally accepting his party's presidential nomination, a new study suggests genes may play a role in people's political views. Researchers say genetic influences seem to be especially strong as related to social issues.

For years, political scientists assumed that people's political views were determined by their environments, such as what their parents and friends believed and the communities in which they lived.

But a new study suggests that environmental factors are not the only determinant and that genetics influence roughly half of a person's political beliefs.

Rose McDermott, a professor of political science at Brown University in Rhode Island, co-authored the latest study. She said societal factors, such as family and friends, can shape people's political affiliations but that biology seems to influence their views in general.

“The underlying liberal to conservative tendency seems to be the piece that’s informed by these genetic factors,” said Ms. McDermott.

The research is based on analysis of data from dozens of twin studies in the United States and Australia. Identical twins have the same DNA and, Ms. McDermott says, are 60 percent more likely to hold similar political beliefs, suggesting a strong genetic role in political traits. Non-identical, or fraternal twins, who are genetically different, are more likely to have differing political beliefs, suggesting a stronger environmental role in political preferences.

Because of the newness of the research, experts have only identified a few genes that may influence behavior such as voter turnout and political violence.

But genetically-inherited political beliefs, according to Ms. McDermott, seem to play out most strongly in forming opinions on social issues.

“We had to take care of our children for many, many, many generations. And so in a modern day context, that could play as attitudes toward abortion, gay marriage and those sort of things,” said McDermott.

Ms. McDermott and her colleagues hope their findings may lead to deeper insights about political ideology, and its impact on public policy.

An article on genetic influences on political views appears in the journal Trends in Genetics.


New movie focuses on job
of New York bike messenger

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In “Premium Rush,” a routine delivery for a New York bicycle courier turns into a race against the clock when a mysterious stranger tries to hijack the package.

On any business day, crossing the street in Manhattan is likely to mean a close encounter with a bicycle courier. They speed from one end of the city to the other with rush deliveries.

Wilee is one of the fastest among the hundreds of two-wheeled messengers. But after he picks up a premium rush package, he discovers someone will stop at nothing to keep him from making the delivery.

“Premium Rush” is written and directed by David Koepp, whose action films range from “Jurassic Park” to “Spider-Man.”  He calls it a fresh take on an old Hollywood standby: the chase.

"We've all seen car chases a million times," notes Koepp,  "but the consequences for car chases are dented fenders or smashed windshields and in movies it's certainly been explored fully. The thing about a bike is the slightest contact can kill you. So you feel it when you're watching the movie that the risk is much higher."

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee. He's no stranger to action films like “Inception” and the current hit “The Dark Knight Rises.” He was intrigued by this character's embrace of that risk.

"He is a guy that lives very much in the present, and there is a really strong upside to that," the actor says,  "especially because maybe nowadays more than ever we're a culture that is sort of obsessed with the future, making plans and 'what am I going to be?' 'what's going to happen not just next week, but five years from now?' All that stuff …and Wilee is a character who has very much turned his back on that way of thinking."

Dania Ramirez co-stars as Vanessa, a fellow bike messenger. She says making the film was physically demanding because they really were in Manhattan traffic.

"Most of the movie we were riding bikes, doing all the dialogue while riding bikes," she explains.  "A lot of the training — we trained for six weeks prior to going to New York City — was just a lot of endurance because you couldn't run out of breath. You had to get your scene across and still be going really fast in the midst of New York City."

Keeping the pace brisk, “Premium Rush” plays out in real time. Most of the action takes place within its 90-minute length. Michael Shannon co-stars as the villain chasing the valuable package. And dozens of real New York City bike messengers join the actors on screen.


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Latin America news
Political advertising rules
announced by newspaper


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A.M. Costa Rica will accept political ads relating to the U.S. elections or for Costa Rican elections. But such ads must be paid in advance at established rates.

The newspaper does not want to be involved in subsidizing political speech. Each ad also must contain the name of the individual or organization placing it.

The newspaper staff also will review ads for their tone. Political advertising should avoid personal attacks.

The deadline for publishing such advertising is Oct. 15 because U.S. citizens in Costa Rica need additional time to submit their absentee ballots.


Ministry hosting conference
on aid to trafficking victims


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The foreign ministry here is hosting a regional meeting on trafficking in persons.

The sessions are in conjunction with the International Organization for Immigration and foreign ministry staffers from central America and México.

The sessions are part of a program to provide consular assistance to victims of human trafficking.


Police detain two groups
of illegal immigrants

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Públicas officers detained a man Tuesday who is a suspect of helping illegal immigrants enter the country. The man, identified by the last names of Mora Villalobos, was the driver of a vehicle police stopped near Dominical. With him were two individuals who subsequently turned out to be from Nepal. One was 24 and the other was 35, police determined.

On the other side of the country near the Panamá border Fuerza Pública officers detained four men, later identified as being from Bangladesh, who crossed the Río Sixaola in a boat and headed north in Costa Rica. They were detained on a public bus.





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