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(506) 2223-1327          Published Monday, Aug. 30, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 170         E-mail us
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Even Chávez has a presence at Feria del Libro
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Feria de Libros each year brings together an impressive display of Costa Rican literary works. And it is a good way for local authors to present their accomplishments to thousands of visitors.

Such was the case with two Costa Rican authors who had works on display Sunday. One was folklore expert Orlando Sandí Peña, who goes by the pen name of Sandy. He has a shelf full of his literary works, but most are unknown to English speakers because the works are all in Spanish.

Sunday he showed a book that might get him some notice.  It is "El Transporte en Costa Rica" with 220 old photos. The photos are certain to appeal to the train fans in the United States and elsewhere even if they cannot read the fine details.

Michael Sims Holliday, who refers to herself as the art department for the European School in Heredia, was at the fair promoting her coffee table bilingual history of the Costa Rican oxcarts. It is "La Carreta Pintada." The book has been out for awhile, and has been declared of cultural interest by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

In one way the two authors face the same problem of trying to reach the North American market. In the case of Ms. Sims, the problem is not the language. It's transportation. The shipping cost of the book is about $10 to the United States.

The 15th Feria Internacional del Libro en Costa Rica was in the La Aduana, the former customs house on Calle 23 that underwent a $6.3 million transformation. There is room for several soccer fields inside the brick structure, and much of it was filled with small and large publishing houses and booksellers. All the universities had displays. Some were elaborate.

Even Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, was there, at least in spirit. The Venezuelan Embassy was promoting the literature of the country under smiling posters of the president. 
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Booth with Venezuelan literature did a steady business at book fair Sunday.

This was the  only booth that raised a lrge national flag. Shoppers could purchase a biography of Simón Bolívar with a summary on the back cover by who else but Hugo Chávez. The Venezuelan president has adopted the Liberator as his role model, mentor and spiritual guide.

Of course there also is a history of the raid by Colombia's military on a rebel camp across the river in Ecuador.

Cuba did not have a flag hung high. But the country was the invited guest of honor. That country, too, has a steady production of revolutionary literature.

The fair is true to books. There was little in electronic media, except for some CDs and DVDs for learning a language. The rapid change in the world's reading habits was not evident.

The fair runs through Sunday.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 170

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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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Rain predicted to back off
for first part of the week

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weather experts say that rain will diminish today through the middle of the week when it will pick up again. The weekend was tough on some Costa Ricans as homes fell into rivers and flooding was abundant.

The rivers that have their sources in the Caribbean mountains were reported rising Sunday. They were the ríos Telire, Coen, Sixaola and Pacuare. The Río Reventazón already was out of its banks.

There were weather-related deaths.  A trucker died in a landslide on the Interamericana at Barranca, Puntarenas, Friday. The road was closed while highway officials blasted overhanging rocks on the slope.

A man in his 70s slipped and fell into a culvert and was carried away by the water in  Siquirres Friday. A child, 10, died from a lightning strike nearby in San Mateo. A woman died and a passenger suffered major injuries early Sunday in Escazú. Witnesses said the driver lost control perhaps due to wet weather and smashed into a large, concrete culvert. A man died Sunday when he fell or jumped into a river in Desamparados.

In Tirrases de Curridabat seven or eight makeshift homes were destroyed or heavily damaged when land slipped Saturday. The families were rebuilding nearby.

Emergency officials will be taking a survey of the damage today. Several bridges suffered damage.  The new connection between Hatillo and Escazú remains closed due to at least seven slides that have dumped mud and rock on the roads. The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad has closed the road and is seeking a contractor to plane the slopes to avoid more slides.

Such weather is typical of the season, said the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional

Rebates ordered for insurance
covering employees here


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The regulating agency has ordered a reduction about an average of 1.18 percent for private employers in the riesgo de trabajo or workman's compensation insurance.  The premium for public employees was reduced more than 9 percent, the regulator, the Superintendencia de Seguros, said.

In a related action, the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado said that the  Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo will resolve a dispute in which the chamber challenged the 2008 increase in this type of insurance. The Instituto National de Seguros put in a 10 percent rate hike, but the chamber said that the new insurance law already was on the books and that the former insurance monopoly had to have regulator approval.

Riesgo de trabajo insurance in Costa Rica is based on the occupation. There is a long list of rates, ranging from less than 1 percent of an office worker's salary to more than 34 percent for a crop duster pilot. A list is on the Web site of the Superintendencia.

Jail or bail Quepos mayor
told by criminal tribunal


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors said that the mayor of Quepos is not following the rules that a criminal court outlined for him.
The mayor, Óscar Monge, is facing an allegation that he converted the proceeds of a sale of six digital cameras owned by the municipality to his own use.

The Poder Judicial said Friday that the Fiscalía de Aguirre y Parrita sought preventative detention for the mayor and that the  Juzgado Pena de Hacienda agreed and specified three months detention or the payment of a 5 million-colon security bond, nearly $10,000.

The tribunal ordered the mayor separated from his job and forbade him from entering the municipal building in Quepos. That was Wednesday. The prosectors said the mayor did not follow the order.

Sustainable development
will be focus of new unit


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

DCL Property Developers has launched a new unit called Sustainable Developers to promote financially viable sustainable development projects and strategies in the private sector of Costa Rica, the company said.

"As Costa Ricans and business people, we look toward the future with enthusiasm and hope as our philosophy of making environmental protection and the use of sustainable development strategies are recognized as attractive elements and profitable activities in any investment project," the company said on a Facebook page.  "Our approach will, in the future, become a widespread business practice in the country."

Former Tico midshipman
to tell of  U.S. Naval Academy


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Claudio Pacheco, the former director of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas will be the speaker when American Legion Post Costa Rica 10 in Escazú meets Wednesday at the  Bello Horizonte Country Club at noon.

Pacheco will talk about his days as a Costa Rican midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, said the Legion. All U.S. military veterans are invited to attend, said the legion. A map showing directions to the Country Club is available at the organization's Web site

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A.M. Costa Rica guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching
The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

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A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds
Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

For your international reading pleasure:

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 170

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Overseas call centers being bashed in U.S. outsourcing flap
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

With the United States living through the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, politicians are making headlines by promoting protectionism and opposing outsourcing to foreign call centers.

Costa Rica already suffered some economic damage when Ohio State University asked a subcontractor to stop using a call center here, according to the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch last week.

The university's decision follows an Aug. 6 announcement that the Ohio governor has barred spending state funds for overseas services. That decision involved a contract of some $357,300 that was being handled by a call center in El Salvador. The contract was part of the state's $11 million appliance rebate program.

The governor, Ted Strickland, said public funds should not be spent on services provided offshore.

"Outsourcing jobs does not reflect Ohio values," Strickland said in a prepared release. "Ohioans have been among the hardest hit by more than a decade of unfair trade agreements and the trickle-down economic policies that promoted offshoring jobs at the expense of Ohioans who work for a living. We must do everything within our power to prevent outsourcing jobs because it undermines our economic development objectives, slows our recovery and deprives Ohioans and other Americans of employment opportunities."

The university may or may not be covered by the governor's edict, but officials there contacted a St. Louis, Missouri, firm last week and asked it to stop using Costa Rican labor. The company has been sending some telephoned payroll questions from university employees to Costa Rica since 2000, The Dispatch said.
Ohio's appliance rebate program has stimulated manufacturing activity with Ohio companies such as Whirlpool, which has increased shifts and moved to a six day schedule to satisfy demand generated by the program, said the governor's office. Nearly $10.5 of the $11 million in total program funding was awarded directly to Ohio consumers for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances. Parago, the Texas call center firm, was awarded $357,300, or 3.2 percent, of the total funding, for providing services, it said.

"This program was successful in stimulating economic activity for Ohio appliance manufacturers and retailers," Strickland said in the release. "But contracting with a domestic service provider that ultimately outsourced jobs could and should have been prevented. This order will ensure that this never happens again."

In June 2008, Strickland signed an executive order that put in force Think Ohio First practices, which promotes economic development by maximizing the use of Ohio businesses when agencies conduct purchases. The order outlined procurement reform efforts and directed all state agencies to work together for cost savings and efficiencies when purchasing supplies and services.

In addition, it directed the Department of Administrative Services to hire a chief procurement officer to oversee agency purchasing functions.

The governor's ruling might run afoul of the Central American Free Trade Agreement that both Costa Rica and El Salvador have approved with the United States. The treaty calls for equal treatment of service providers from all countries, but the cases so far are probably too minor to litigate.

Costa Rica has thousands of multilingual employees working in call centers.


Chiquita puts a biodigester into service at Guápiles facility
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Chiquita Brands International, Inc., has dedicated its innovative Biodigester system at its Mundimar S.A. facility in Guápiles in a ceremony attended by President Laura Chinchilla.

Biodigester systems convert organic material into electrical and heat energy as well as produce byproducts such as nutrient rich fertilizers. Specifically, Chiquita's Biodigester utilizes excess fruit material and processing water from its operations to produce energy that is used by its Guápiles facility and fertilizer for use by local palm producers and farmers. The unique gravity utilizing design of the Biodigester system allows for the circulation of processing water without using electricity, thereby creating a carbon neutral circulation process, the company said.

When commissioning the project, Chiquita said it insisted that the latest sustainable technologies be incorporated to ensure an optimal environmental impact was achieved. The 
biodigester was designed by BioSinergia, a company led by two graduates of EARTH University who devote their professional practice to the construction of environmentally sustainable systems.

Mundimar S.A. in Guápiles, Costa Rica, is a fully owned subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International, Inc. and a leading global fruit ingredients processor. The company said the subsidiary processes more than 320 million pounds of bananas, pineapples, papayas, passion fruits and mangos used as ingredients by customers in more than 40 countries for the production and commercialization of fruit juices, smoothies, baby food, yogurts, bakery and other food items requiring the incorporation of natural tropical fruit ingredients.

Chiquita Brands International, Inc., markets its products under the Chiquita and Fresh Express premium brands and other related trademarks. With annual revenues of $3.5 billion, Chiquita employs approximately 21,000 people and has operations in nearly 80 countries worldwide.


U.S. Embassy seeks energy ideas for environmental grants
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Department of State’s Regional Environmental Hub for Central America and the Caribbean, based at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, is inviting applications for two renewable energy projects, one in San José and one in Guanacaste. The embassy is prepared to give away $160,000.

The embassy also seeks to give $195,000 for what it describes as capacity building to promote regional energy integration in Central America, foster harmonized regulatory and legislative frameworks and to advance clean energy development across the region.
Deadline on both grant applications is Friday.

The renewable energy projects require grant recipients to develop pilot projects demonstrating the viability of smart grid technologies in conjunction with small-scale renewable energy systems.

The goal of the project is to encourage policy makers in Costa Rica and elsewhere in the region to strengthen the environment for greater investments in smart grids and small-scale renewable energy development, the embassy said. Smart grid is a system of sensors and controls that work in parallel with the electrical grid to increase efficiency.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 170

confiscated boats
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photos

The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas has two new boats to patrol the Caribbean coast.  The first, now named 'Penshurt III'  after where it was confiscated in a drug case. It carries three 200-horsepower outboards. The board, which can travel on the high seas, is based
in Limón. The second is a craft that has been put into service after 13 years of disuse. It will patrol the canals and can float in a foot of water, said the Guardacostas. It now carries one outboard of 200 horsepower taken from a suspected drug boat.



New type of El Niño becoming more common, study says

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A relatively new type of El Niño, which has its warmest waters in the central-equatorial Pacific Ocean, rather than in the eastern-equatorial Pacific, is becoming more common and progressively stronger, according to a new study. The research may improve the understanding of the relationship between El Niños and climate change and has potentially significant implications for long-term weather forecasting.

The study is by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, known as NASA.

Lead author Tong Lee of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Michael McPhaden of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, Washngton, measured changes in El Niño intensity since 1982. They analyzed satellite observations of sea surface temperature, checked against and blended with directly-measured ocean temperature data. The strength of each El Niño was gauged by how much its sea surface temperatures deviated from the average. They found the intensity of El Niños in the central Pacific has nearly doubled, with the most intense event occurring in 2009-10.

The scientists say the stronger El Niños help explain a steady rise in central Pacific sea surface temperatures observed over the past few decades in previous studies — a trend attributed by some to the effects of global warming. While Lee and McPhaden observed a rise in sea surface temperatures during El Niño years, no significant temperature increases were seen in years when ocean conditions were neutral, or when El Niño's cool water counterpart, La Niña, was present.

"Our study concludes the long-term warming trend seen in the central Pacific is primarily due to more intense El Niños, rather than a general rise of background temperatures," said Lee.

"These results suggest climate change may already be affecting El Niño by shifting the center of action from the eastern to the central Pacific," said McPhaden. "El Niño's impact on global weather patterns is different if ocean warming occurs primarily in the central Pacific, instead of the eastern Pacific.

"If the trend we observe continues," McPhaden added, "it could throw a monkey wrench into long-range weather forecasting, which is largely based on our understanding of El Niños from the latter half of the 20th century."

El Niño, a Spanish reference to the Christ child, is the oceanic component of a climate pattern called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which appears in the tropical Pacific Ocean on average every three to five years. The most dominant year-to-year fluctuating pattern in Earth's climate system, El Niños have a powerful impact on the ocean and atmosphere, as well as important
sea suface temperature change
National Aeronautics and Space Adminissstration/Jet
Propulsion Laboratory — National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration  graphic  


socioeconomic consequences. They can influence global weather patterns and the occurrence and frequency of hurricanes, droughts and floods and can even raise or lower global temperatures by as much as 0.2 degrees Celsius (0.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

During a classic El Niño episode, the normally strong easterly trade winds in the tropical eastern Pacific weaken. That weakening suppresses the normal upward movement of cold subsurface waters and allows warm surface water from the central Pacific to shift toward the Americas. In these situations, unusually warm surface water occupies much of the tropical Pacific, with the maximum ocean warming remaining in the eastern-equatorial Pacific.

Since the early 1990s, however, scientists have noted a new type of El Niño that has been occurring with greater frequency. Known variously as "central-Pacific El Niño," "warm-pool El Niño," "dateline El Niño" or "El Niño Modoki" (Japanese for "similar but different"), the maximum ocean warming from such El Niños is found in the central-equatorial, rather than eastern, Pacific. Such central Pacific El Niño events were observed in 1991-92, 1994-95, 2002-03, 2004-05 and 2009-10. A recent study found many climate models predict such events will become much more frequent under projected global warming scenarios.

Lee said further research is needed to evaluate the impacts of these increasingly intense El Niños and determine why these changes are occurring. "It is important to know if the increasing intensity and frequency of these central Pacific El Niños are due to natural variations in climate or to climate change caused by human-produced greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Results of the study were published recently in Geophysical Research Letters.



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For your international reading pleasure:

News of Nicaragua
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News of Cuba      News of Venezuela
News of Colombia    
News of Panamá
News of El Salvador

News of Honduras
News of the Dominican Republic
News of Bolivia     News of Ecuador
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 170

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

More bodies discovered
linked to Mexican gangs

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican authorities say at least 14 bodies have been found in the Pacific beach resort city Acapulco. 

Officials say several of the bound and blindfolded victims had drug gang messages left near their bodies Friday.

Elsewhere in Mexico, two car bombs exploded in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where officials are investigating the massacre of 72 migrants.

An explosion outside the studios of the Televisa station temporarily knocked out its signal Friday, but no injuries were reported.  Authorities say the second blast happened in front of the offices of the traffic police. 

The blasts happened three days after the remains of the migrants, believed to be from Central and South America, were discovered on a farm in the state. 

Authorities say Roberto Jaime Suarez, the prosecutor investigating the massacre of the migrants in Tamaulipas, has been missing since Wednesday. 

Tamaulipas borders the southwestern U.S. state of Texas, and has been the scene of deadly violence among drug cartels fighting for control of the area.

In a related development, the U.S. State Department is telling diplomats in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey to remove their children from the area.  Authorities cited a shooting Monday in front of an American school in Monterrey and the growing threats of kidnapping.  Officials say that beginning Sept. 10, the consulate general in Monterrey will become a partially unaccompanied post with no minor dependents of U.S. government employees.

The Monterrey area increasingly has been plagued by violence arising from clashes among rival drug gangs.  Monterrey is the capital of the state of Nuevo León, which also has seen an increase in drug-related violence.

More than 28,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug war since President Felipe Calderón took office in late 2006 and began cracking down on the cartels.


Players sought for football
by team in new league here


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Steel Raiders, a new team in the Costa Rican American Football league, is looking for a few bad man.

The team styles itself as los Bad Boys del Futbol Americano en Costa Rica, similar, perhaps, to the reputation of the Oakland, California, Raiders in the U.S. National Football League.

A spokesperson for the team said that the players have been invited to participate in upcoming tournaments and that they are becoming part of the Federación Costarricense de Futbol Americano, which is based in Escazú

"We don´t play for money, but for passion," said the spokesperson.

The team has a Web site and a Facebook page.

The league now has five teams, and has suffered some growing pains. For example the 2010 all star game was canceled because, the federation said, telephone text messages to various players never were delivered by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 170


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NASA fitness experts flying
to Chile to help miners


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A top official at NASA says the U.S. space agency will send a team of experts to Chile today to help advise how to keep 33 miners trapped deep underground physically and mentally fit until they are rescued. 

Michael Duncan, NASA's deputy chief medical officer, says the space agency will tell Chilean officials what it does to help keep astronauts in the tight quarters of the international space station healthy. "NASA has had a long experience in dealing with isolated environments, in particular currently on the space station.  We train and plan contingencies for emergencies," he said.

The miners have been trapped in a gold and copper mine in Chile's remote north since a cave-in on Aug. 5.  But it was not until a week ago that they were found alive.

There are concerns that some of the miners might already be struggling with depression as they deal with the challenge of being trapped 700 meters underground.

Sunday, the miners were able to talk with their loved ones after a communications line was established.  Until now, contact between the trapped men and their families has been through notes and officials.

NASA's Duncan said Chilean authorities and the miners already have done a lot to help the men prepare for what lies ahead. "The Chileans are very well organized.  They have a lot of resources at their disposal.  They have done a lot for the miners and, in fact, the miners have done a lot for themselves underground to show the will to survive and to organize themselves to be able to survive this long.  So our plan is to go down and provide the advice that the Chileans have requested in the areas of nutritional support and behavioral health support," he said.

Chilean officials are also seeking help from the country's submarine service for advice on survival in extreme, confined conditions.

Rescuers have drilled three narrow holes to where the men are trapped.  The holes are being used to communicate with the men and pump in oxygen as well as to provide them with food, water and other supplies, including antidepressants.

Efforts to free them could take as long as four months.  Although, mining experts say an alternate rescue tunnel might be completed in two months under ideal conditions.

Frontier to service Liberia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Frontier Airlines said today that it would fly once a week non-stop from Denver, Colorado, its hub, to LIberia. The line already flies into Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela. The Liberia service will start Feb. 13, the airline said.

Frontier continues to be the only carrier to provide nonstop service between Denver and San José, Costa Rica, where it first launched service in November 2007, and Frontier is now the only carrier to provide nonstop service between Denver and Liberia, the company said.

The Liberia service will leave Denver at 8:25 a.m. and arrive in Liberia at 2:35 p.m.  The return flight to Denver will leave at 3:25 p.m. to arrive in Denver at 8:10 p.m.. the company said








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