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(506) 223-1327       Pubished Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 173       E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Sexual harassment case becomes major scandal
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The sexual harassment case at the legislative assembly exploded into a full-fledged scandal

Federico Tinoco
Wednesday when a lawmaker admitted he was the one involved in the case and denied any improper action.

In response the supposed victim who has not been identified said via an intermediary that she was upset by the legislator's statements made at a press conference and that
she was going ahead and filing a complaint.

Gloria Valerín, a former lawmaker, presented herself to the legislature shortly before 10 p.m. with a formal complaint. She said she was acting on behalf of the woman. But no one was authorized to accept the document. She said she would file it with the assembly today.

Meanwhile the leadership of the Asamblea Legislativa was facing accusations of arranging a coverup. The victim confirmed that she had accepted a deal, according to Ms. Valerín, The former legislator is identified with women's issues.

The lawmaker is Federico Tinoco Carmona of the Partido Liberación Nacional, the ruling party. He gave a well-attended press conference earlier in the day in which he categorically denied allegations of having committed sexual harassment. He said he had been misunderstood.

The harassment alleged involved grabbing a female aide, hugging her and kissing her against her will. The woman involved is married with four children. She also is a lawyer. Her husband accompanied Ms. Valerín.

This is what greeted male lawmakers  Wednesday morning under the headline 'Which one of these deputies is the sexual harasser?'

The written complaint says the woman was called "The last temptation" and "office doll," among other names.

The alleged harassment took place when the legislator and his aides traveled to the Caribbean coast Aug. 11. On the return trip a witness has said the legislator dropped the woman off in a thunderstorm in an unlighted part of the city, declined to drive her home and fired her the following Monday,

The day got off to a bad start for lawmakers when El Diario Extra, the newspaper that first reported the case, published a photo of every male member of the assembly with the headline "Which one of these deputies is the sexual harasser?"

Later in the day Tinoco made his denials.  He is a physician and divorced.

Meanwhile, assembly President Francisco Pacheco Fernández denied any allegations of a coverup.

113 information calls will be billed by the minute of use
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The telephone company has been told to charge by the minute for information calls to 113. The service is expected to be cheaper for users, according to the regulating agency.

The service has been free because the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad failed to produce a telephone book for 2005. But the company, known as ICE, is being allowed to start charging again on Sept. 1 now that new books
are being distributed and telephone users
have the option of looking in the book or calling information. The current rate is only temporary because the company is going to present additional evidence about the cost of operators and seek an adjustment.

The previous rate was 28.8 colons no mater how long. Now the rate will be 4.1 colons per minute during peak hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 2 colons per minute from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

A colon is about two-tenths of one U.S. cent.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 173

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DHL will help embassy
deliver U.S. visas to Ticos

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy has made a deal with DHL, the express and package company, to handle return of passports to Costa Ricans who have received a visa to enter the United States.

The embassy staff announced the program Wednesday and said that starting Sept. 1, those who receive U.S. visas at the embassy will not have to return to pick up the passport with the visa stamped inside.

For 1,500 colons, a bit less than $3, per passport DHL will deliver the document to one of its 10 offices in the country.

Four offices are in the Central Valley, but others are in Jacó, Liberia. Tamarindo, Limón, Quepos and Pérez Zeledón.

A DHL worker will be in the embassy to arrange the delivery at the time a Costa Rican visits and is informed that he or she has been approved for a visa.

The embassy noted that this program eliminates the need for a Costa Rican to return to the embassy in Pavas to pick up the passport. In addition, DHL offices are open until 6 p.m. and a half day on Saturday.

Shooting in San Pedro
leave four wounded

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man started shooting at patrons in a San Pedro bar shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday, and four persons, including a 15-year-old, were wounded.

A 22-year-old suspect was quickly arrested. He was identified by the last names of Lindo Jardín by the Poder Judicial. The Fuerza Pública said that a revolver was recovered nearby.

No motive has been given but three of the persons were seated at an outdoor table. A 22-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man also suffered wounds as did a security guard. The 15-year-old suffered three bullets in the chest. The guard suffered a bullet in the neck, officials said.

Costa Rica won't accept
designated negotiator

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is not about to fall in behind the Nicaraguan foreign minister in any plan to negotiate a trade agreement with the European Union.

The Central American nations are preparing to negotiate such a treaty, but Bruno Stagno, the Costa Rican foreign minister, said Wednesday that his Nicaraguan counterpart, Norman Caldera, seems to have been selected in a meeting to which Costa Rica was not invited.

Stagno said Costa Rican officials have had knowledge of some kind of accord for several weeks, but that his country has not entered into any such agreement. He pointed out that Costa Rica now does 60 percent of the trade that comes from Central America to Europe.

Stagno praised the system used to negotiate a free trade treaty with the United States in which each country fielded a team that could address specific differences relating to their home country.

Elections in Nicaragua Nov. 5 could result in a change of government there, too, he noted.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Passerby signs a peace petition while others read it

Signatures for peace
sought in downtown

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An organization that promotes unconditional peace in the Middle East and the world was taking signatures in downtown San José Wednesday. The organization is Amisrael, which plans to present the signatures it has gathered in many countries to the United Nations in New York Sept. 11.

The group had a tent set up near the Plaza de la Cultura and said a similar effort would take place today in San Pedro in the central park there.

By signing, an individual has the opportunity to express a request for world peace in a joint chorus with persons of every race, creed, level of schooling and social status, said the group. The group hopes to gather millions of signatures and  present them as a memorial for those who died in the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York five years ago.

Waiting game pays off

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug agents detained two 20 year olds in Valle de Estrella on the Caribbean coast Wednesday. Police had a tip that they were smuggling marijuana to the Central Valley. But the men had only a small amount on them.

So agents let them go and grabbed them several hours later when they confiscated 10 kilos of marijuana in total, they said.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 173

Employees of the Horseshoe Casino line up to report to work Wednesday still uncertain of their job status. They were sent home early, but their boss vows to have the casino functioning normally today.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

Casino operator opens doors despite closure order
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Horseshoe Casino reopened Wednesday when operators decided to ignore what they consider an

Jaime Ligator
illegal closure by the Municipalidad de San José.
Jaime Ligator, president of the casino corporation, Favitro S.A., said he fully expected the Policia Municipal to close the place up again. But they did not.

He is counting on an appeal for relief that the corporation's lawyers filed for Wednesday with the Sala IV constitutional court. They seek a high court interpretation of a section of
the municipal code. While the Sala IV appeal is in progress, municipal officials cannot close the place again, he noted.
Ligator said the closings started Friday. He was closed down again Saturday and again Tuesday, all for different reasons, he said.

Municipal officials pasted notices of closure across the front entrance door.

The case is a complex one and involves patentes or business licenses going back to the 1980s.

The corporation has two licenses. One allows it to serve alcohol as a night club and another as a casino. Ligator displayed paperwork Wednesday that showed the licenses existed.

Ligator expressed concern for his 150 employees, which he sent home about 4 p.m. Wednesday. He said he was paying about $10,000 a day in expenses. But he said he planned to open up as a casino again today.

The casino is on the southwest corner of Avenida 1 and Calle 9.

Two detained here to face justice in the United States
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law officers detained a 51-year-old U.S. citizen in Barrio El Rodeo in Ciudad Colón Wednesday and said he was to face charges in  western North Carolina of fraud by telephone.

The arrest of the foreigner was the second in as many days. A 70-year-old man came into police hands Tuesday in Palí, Cartago. He is wanted in California to face allegations of sexually abusing his grandchildren.

The man arrested in Ciudad Colón was identified as Michael Forchemer. He had lived in Costa Rica for several years.

Both arrests were made by the Fuerza Pública working in conjunction with the International Police Agency, INTERPOL.

Forchemer is accused of making fraudulent calls to
U.S. citizens in which he claimed they had won some type of money prize. Many of these calls were made from Costa Rica. However it could not be determined if he was involved with a group of suspects who were arrested a month ago on similar allegations.

San José has become a capital of sorts for advanced fee scams where "winners" must put up money in order to claim their prize, which never comes. Scammers use modern telephone systems to make it appear as if the calls originate in the United States.

The man facing the abuse charges was identified by the last names of Mayorga Lacayo. He is a Nicaraguan who took U.S. citizenship. The case was transferred to Cartago because of where the man lives, said the Poder Judicial Wednesday.

The girls involved were 5 and 6 years old when the crimes were said to be committed in 1993, officials said.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez swears in an estimated 110 'presidential delegates' from all over the country. They were in training Wednesday in San José and will be the eyes and ears of the government in their home areas to provide informaiton over the problems that face their neighbors, said Casa Presidencial.

Casa Presidential photo

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 173

Playa Tamarindo residents sod their refurbished soccer field. This is the same land that the Asociación Pro Mejoras de Playa Tamarindo prevented a private investor from building a strip mall because the zoning is for park land, not commercial use.

Asociación Pro Mejoras de Playa Tamarindo/Wálter Howel

Chávez stresses united front against U.S. imperialism
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez has begun a three-day visit to Syria by announcing that the two countries are united against what he called "U.S. imperialism."

Chávez and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad met Wednesday in Damascus to discuss cooperation.

Al-Assad stressed that the two countries have very close positions on international issues.
Support for Chávez in the Arab world has soared since Venezuela withdrew its ambassador to Israel at the start of the Israeli military offensive in Lebanon.

The Venezuelan president called Israel's attacks against Hezbollah "genocide." In response, Israel recalled its own ambassador from Venezuela.

Chávez has accused Washington of plotting against him and his government, something U.S. officials deny. And he has made an effort to visit those countries that are on the outs with Washington.

Study will see if you can drink your apple a day
By the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences
Research Council of the UK

The saying goes that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but now scientists are looking into whether a pint of cider could have the same effect. Researchers have discovered that cider apples have high levels of phenolics — antioxidants linked to protection against stroke, heart disease and cancer — and are working with volunteers to see whether these health benefits could be passed onto cider drinkers.

In the next few weeks 12 volunteers will each drink a pint of cider, while avoiding all other dietary sources of antioxidants, to give the research team a unique insight into how phenolics are absorbed and metabolised by humans. The research is part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the National Association of Cider Makers.

Serena Marks, who is leading the study, explains: “Previous research suggests there may be an association between phenolics and protection against some serious diseases, so we are trying to find out how we get phenolics from our diet. We know that apples are high in phenolics, and our research shows that cider apples have a higher phenolic content than dessert apples.”

The English cider industry has long been interested in phenolics, because these compounds play an
important role in the taste and color of cider, but Ms. Marks of the University of Glasgow hopes her research will show that phenolic levels also have a beneficial health role.

So far Ms. Marks and her colleagues have looked at the phenolic levels of 19 varieties of English cider apple, 35 varieties of cider and one variety of dessert apple to analyse how and why levels differ and to understand the effects that the cider making process has on the final phenolic content of cider.

They have found that some varieties of apple and some types of cider have higher levels of phenolics than others. Factors that may affect phenolic concentration include the age of the fruit, light exposure, growing region and storage conditions.

Now the scientists have a better understanding of the phenolic content of different apples and cider, the next stage of the research is to analyse how humans absorb these phenolics.

To do this, 12 volunteers will drink a 500 mililiter dose of cider in a controlled environment, and samples of their blood and urine will be taken to measure the quantity of phenolics absorbed.

Ms. Marks hopes that findings from her work may allow the production methods of cider to be adapted so that the phenolic levels remain high, even after fermentation.

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