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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 174                          Email us
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Mar Vista


cantinas of San José
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Graffiti on the exterior of Bar La Flota and the interior of the now-upscale El Morazán.
City's unique bistros are subject of historical tour
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Architect-historian Andrés Fernández will take 10 persons on a microbus tour of some of the oldest and most unique cantinas in San José Thursday evening.

The tour will start with three bars in Barrio Amón near the headquarters of sponsor Alliance Française and make a semi-circle around the west side of central San José and conclude with beer and hors d'oeuvres at La Bohemia at Calle 5 and 12th Avenue.

According to Mathilde Vanmansart, director of Alliance, the objective is to give a glimpse into San Jose's past – a past that still lives in these cantinas.

“There are few places like that that people are still visiting,” said Ms. Vanmansart. “Few places still work like that.”

Alliance sponsors a tour every two months, each time guiding participants through San José's history.

Fernández has been running these tours for two years, and each time he uses a different theme to  demonstrate how the city has changed over time, sometimes through specific kinds of buildings like houses, mansions or churches and sometimes through specific barrios.
According to a press release from Alliance, Fernandez hand picked these bars as representations of the city's past. The cantinas are Bar La Flota on Avenida Central east of the legislative complex, El Morazán east of the downtown park of the same name, El Limón at Calle 1 on Avenida 7, El Ballestero at Avenida 9 and Calle Central, La Paola on Calle 3 between avenidas 5 and 7 and La Bohemia.

Ms. Vanmansart said that some of these bars are very small, and therefore the organization needed to limit how many people could go, which is why this tour is only open to Alliance members. Most tours are not restricted only to members. “Because of this limitation, we cannot organize it for more than 10 people,” she said.

However, there are still spots open on the tour and anyone can become a member of Alliance then sign up for the tour. Or they could just visit the cantinas on their own.

Additionally, Ms. Vanmansart said that Fernández and Alliance would be willing to arrange more tours in the future if enough people request this.

The cost for the tour is 35,000 colons and the tour starts with an introduction by Fernández at Alliance's facility in Barrio Amón at 5 p.m. Thursday.


Pre-Hispanic jaguar god featured in university show
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's distance-learning university presents music, dance, theater, chorus and art Sunday night at the Teatro Popular Melico Salizar on Avenida 2 in the downtown.

The show is called “Tierra jaguar,” seven scenes that have an environmental emphasis. The students come from university centers in Alajuela, Pérez Zeledón, Heredia, Nicoya, Puntarenas, Turrialba, Desamparados, San José and Cartago, among others. The Universidad Estatal a Distancia is one of the country's major public universities. Admission is modest, from 3,500 to 1,000 colons.

The presentations weave native culture with the likes of Mozart. The jaguar, considered a god by ancient Costa Ricans is an overall theme. The jaguar had many roles in pre-hispanic culture, including one as the guardian of the door the afterlife, the organizers noted.

The messages from pre-Columbian Costa Rica combine with calls to protect the environment, said a release.
jaguar
Universidad Estatal a Distancia graphic
Jaguar theme unites the seven scenes.

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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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Our readers opinions
Article about improvements
mostly draws agreement

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to your lead article titled “Country seems to have made great strides,” I basically agree. There have been many improvements over the past 10 years, and as one who has been here for more years than that, I can certainly relate to most of the points made in the article.

So, are we living in paradise now? Almost.

We still don't have street addresses. Granted, those of us who have lived here for any length of time have gotten used to it. I see GPS devices for sale in the stores and for the life of me can't understand how they could be of much use.

Also in today's issue of A.M. Costa Rica, you report a failure of cell and Internet services. Between cell service, Internet, electricity, water, regular telephone service and cable TV, I jokingly tell my family in the United States that it seems impossible to have all six working at the same time.

Major purchases, such as cars, home electronics, large appliances, computers, and smart phones are still a lot more expensive than what they should be. I recently purchased a new TV and it was at least 50 percent higher than prices I found on the Internet. I needed a pet carrier for my cat and paid $70 for the same thing found on Amazon for $25.

Your article mentions Walmart. Sorry, Walmart Latin America just doesn't cut it for me. Have you seen the quality of the household items they stock? Walmart is one step up from Pequeno Mundo.

In addition to the good progress you mention in the article, you left out Amnet, now Tigo. Amnet/Tigo has had a lot of bashing from readers of A.M. Costa Rica, but I have been a satisfied customer for a long time. I have 5 MBs Internet service, and it is not only reliable, but it's actual speed comes pretty close to it's advertised speed (according to tests I make from time to time). And the cost is half of what it was a few years ago (from $99 a month down to $49). They even offer 10 MBs service now. I also subscribe to their cable TV service, and they just doubled the number of HD channels with no fanfare and no increase in cost. Ironically, while writing this letter to the editor, I was going to check on exactly how many new HD channels were added. Guess what. Their Web site www.tigo.cr is down. I refer you to my comment about services not working.

Good article, A.M Costa Rica. I'd like to see more like this!

Tony Waddell
Curridabat

Many new residents
are planning to come here


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I read with delight your current article on the subject and agree with the writer 100 percent. I have had a home and owned property in Costa Rica for over 15 years and, yes, Costa Rica  has made great progress in roads, services, language, religion, technology, conservation and so many more areas too numerous to mention. Give the writer of this article a handshake
and pat on the back from this American who has been over the entire world several time and can make meaningful comparisons without prejudice and with an open mind.

Please keep up the good work, and I personally know hundreds of American who are coming to Costa Rica, and many will make their homes here for many quality and worthy reasons.

Joe Buice
Lake Arenal

Quake rattles metro area

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
posted at 1:10 p.m.

A 3.3 magnitude quake took place at 12:53 p.m. today, Friday, and shook buildings in the metro area.

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico said the epicenter was west of San José in Río Viejo de Puriscal. Due to soil conditions, even modest quakes in Puriscal resonate in the metro area.

Earlier in the day, at 8:14 a.m. A quake estimated at 3.8  magnitude took place a kilometer northeast of Salitral de Aguirre, Puntarenas. The epicenter was estimated to be inland along the central Pacific coast.

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 174
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Lawmakers give initial approval to maritime moratorium
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature approved on first reading Thursday a bill that imposes a moratorium on evicting individuals and businesses from the nation's maritime zone.

The measure, initiated by President Laura Chinchilla Miranda, provides for a 24-month breathing space for those living in the restricted maritime zone. The measure is not iron-clad. Individual situations that already are in a judicial process will not be halted by the measure, if it becomes law.

In addition, the law does not prohibit other judicial actions or actions in the event of environmental problems.

Some 400,000 persons live in these zones, mainly on the Caribbean coast of Limón province and on the Pacific  coasts of Puntarenas and Guanacaste.

The maritime zone is the first 200 meters above mean high tide. The first 50 meters is supposed to be public land with
 very few exceptions. The remaining 150 meters can be leased in concessions to homeowners, businesses and other commercial developers. The approval process is lengthy and involves applications to the local municipality and to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

Some suspicious citizens see evictions from coastal areas as a way to free the land for commercial development by international tourism companies.

There also may be legal action to void the moratorium bill. In addition, there does not seem to be any plans by the central government to address the coastal issue when and if the moratorium expires.

Lawmakers have taken steps to modify the boundaries of the  Refugio de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo to reduce the number of illegal dwellings there.

The measure needs one more favorable vote to send it to the president for her signature.


Officials move to end crush of those seeking fingerprinting
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry is trying to counter the results of the law of unintended consequences.

When the Dirección General de Migración set up an amnesty for foreigners living here, those affected, mostly Nicaraguans, flooded their own embassy. There were persons sleeping on the street for several days in order to obtain the paperwork they needed to comply with the Costa Rican rules.

What was lesser known is that the security ministry also was flooded. The ministry is where foreigners go to have their fingerprints taken for residency applications. This is also where applicants for firearm permits have to go. The prints are eventually compared to international data bases to week out criminals.

Crowds of Nicaraguans seeking residency swamped the ministry facilities in Barrio Córdoba. Eventually the ministry began issuing tickets for fingerprint appointments. And prints would be taken from about 300 persons a day.

Considering that several hundred thousand Nicaraguans were seeking residency, officials quickly decided that other ways must be found.
New rules were issued Thursday. Tickets that already have been issued will be valid only through Wednesday.

Thursday and afterwards fingerprint applicants will have to make an appointment by telephone. But the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública also is allowing prints to be taken at regional offices. Print experts are being sent there.

Two numbers have been set up:  2586-4147 and 2586-4600. They can be called from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., the ministry said.

The crush of those seeking prints also affected expats who also may be applying for certain forms of residency. Pensionado, rentista and other applications require fingerprints, too.

Those seeking prints for firearms permits will be allowed to show up without an appointment, the ministry said.

Some expats also may be trying to renew expired residency, something that is allowed by the amnesty. They, too, will need fingerprint appointments.

The ministry said that those applying must have a valid passport even if their Costa Rican visa is expired. Each person also needs a passport-size photo.


More evidence in defense of the ubiquitous egg and its yoke
A sentence I read in a book I came across in the stacks of the library at San Jose State University has stuck with me and seemed to apply to the search for knowledge.  I meant to read the book eventually, but then forgot the title.

I never forgot the sentence:  “Information is everywhere, it takes a goal-seeking organism to turn it into knowledge.”  Of course! How else can we organize and make deductions from random information, I thought.  But recently scholars and researchers have challenged that thought.  It seems that not long after man created the axe he had an axe to grind.  Researchers are talking about “motivated cognition,” or, as explained by Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School: “the unconscious tendency of individuals to fit their processing of information to conclusions that suit some end or goal.”   That is pretty much what the sentence I quoted refers to, but this one implies that we tend to look for information that confirms what we already think.

Any ideologues or anyone trying to prove a point, whether political, religious, scientific or even medical, are prone to this type of reasoning.  As a matter of fact, we all are.  Infatuation with someone or something really blinds us to negative information.

In this case, I am back to the mighty, ubiquitous egg.  Desmond sent me an article by a Dr. Mercola responding to the study done by David Spencer warning about egg yolks. Dr. Mercola adds that the data for the Spencer study relied upon the memories of stroke victims about their diets during their lives.  And the research was funded by heart and stroke foundations that in turn were funded in large part by drug companies making statins to lower cholesterol. 

Now the yolk researchers are saying that it is just an hypothesis but the media ran away with it. That is probably true.  Dr. Mercola confirmed what I mentioned – that the researchers did not include other elements of the subjects’ lives, like exercise, one of the most important factors in keeping a healthy heart.

However, if the researchers were motivated by their goal, in full disclosure, I should admit that I probably have a goal,
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart


which is  my infatuation with eggs, their complexity and versatility.  Others seem interested, too. One reader wrote that the reason they do not refrigerate eggs in Costa Rica is that they do not wash them first and thus they retain a bloom that maintains their freshness for a longer period.  Others wrote about the terrible unsanitary situation of egg farms contradicting the above, and others said that egg farms were as sanitary as possible.  I don’t think I would like to keep chickens just to have their free-range eggs.  According to Frans, chickens are very sociable and not very discriminating about where they eat (or lay) and where they poop.  All I can attest to is that I love Italian meringue (made with raw egg whites) and have never gotten sick in Costa Rica from it or from eggs prepared any way. 

And finally, Alexis reminded me that I told her that you can tell how fresh an egg is before you break it by putting it in a pan of cold water.  If it lies on the bottom, it is very fresh.  If it floats on the top, don’t crack it.  There is no greater turnoff than a rotten egg.  I came upon one only once in my life over 40 years ago in Majorca, and since then I always crack an egg into a little cup before adding it to any mixture.  That is aversion therapy that changes behavior at its best.

Meanwhile, there are readers like Jeanita, who is still investigating the egg business in Costa Rica, and there is one last hint I will give you for cooking eggs.  If you like fried eggs but want the white on the yolk cooked but don’t want to flip the egg, simply put a half teaspoon of water in the pan and cover it for a minute.  My big sister Annetta and I have known this secret since we were kids.  I am not sure if my little sister, Donnetta, knows that secret, but today is her birthday. I wish her a happy one, and hope she has many more and that I am around to note them.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 174
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Two programs seek to integrate immigrants to local society
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Five years ago the situation in El Salvador caused Dorys Gómez and her family to flee her home country and come to Costa Rica to seek a better life.   Now she works with volunteer program Red de Jóvenes Lazos Sin Fronteras to help those like her find acceptance.

“Sometimes people come here because they don't have a choice.  Costa Rica for me is like a second chance.  I want people to understand this,” she said.

Red de Jóvenes Lazos Sin Fronteras is a network of young
 
subdirector general
Freddy Montero Mora
volunteers, migrants and refugees who come together to achieve social integration of youth in their environments.  The non-profit is one of the many civil society organizations working with the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería to help assimilate immigrants into Costa Rican culture.

A new immigration law, Ley 8764, mandates in several articles that the office promote, regulate, guide, and sort the dynamics of immigration and emigration, in a way that contributes to national development through economic, social and
cultural enrichment of Costa Rican society.

For this reason the office has two new initiatives, Rutas de Integración and Entre Vecinos.

Rutas de Integración is a program designed to ensure that migrant and refugee populations have better access to information on public facilities in Costa Rica.  They are issued a caja de herramientas, which essentially is a box with recreational and educational tools.  These materials are based on four fundamental themes, education, health, migration and work, explained Freddy Montero Mora, subdirector general in the office.

According to Millaray Villalobos Rojas who heads the integration and development project, 9 percent of the Costa Rican population was born in another country.  Of that percentage, 75 percent are Nicaraguan.
This program is important because it permits these immigrants to obtain true and important information in a way that they can understand.  Many of the Nicaraguan immigrants can't read, so they are given guides with photos in their tool box so they can understand and remember information, she said.

Staff members were trained under this program so they are able to transmit knowledge to the communities under their jurisdiction. With all of this, migrants can make steps to fill prerequisites, obtain services and begin to work.

Ms. Gómez said her organization goes out in teams and works with large groups, trying to give the youth who are working fresh, new ideas.

Between February and August there were eight sessions of trainers workshops in Upala, San Carlos, Siquirres, Jacó and San José with a total participation of 170 people. In the workshops there was representation of many state institutions, Montero said.

The second program, Entre Vecinos, is a strategy for the promotion for integration in migrant neighborhoods.

It works within a framework of respect and fulfillment of human rights and aimed at growth in values of service, justice and transparency, said officials. Leaders of the program are responsible for encouraging, guiding, coordinating and evaluating the process of organization of communities, involving the active and conscious developing of economic, social aspects and culture, and encouraging efforts of population participation, both migrant and refugee.

The main topics are coordinated implementations of interventions in education, health, public safety, care and protection of children and the elderly, employment, production, culture, sport, infrastructure, housing and public transport.

Despite all the efforts, the process is still hard because of money and the fact that some people don't want the immigrants here.  However, the program's slogan says that hand in hand participants can build a better country works to combat this xenophobia.

“It's hard because older people don't understand that people coming from other countries can be positive.  They think their country is the best and don't want immigrants here.  But we still work together,” Ms. Gómez said.


Weather and high seas present threats to the Pacific beaches
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Storms on the Pacific coast Wednesday night and early Thursday caused damage.

Officials said the rains were a product of a large weather system in the Caribbean that generated problems in the cantons of Golfito, Buenos Aires, Aguirre and Puriscal.

There were blocked runoff channels, and trees were down, weather officials said.

The Instituto Metorológico Nacional said that there would be more rain late Thursday and overnight but that there would be a gradual clearing later today. The change is being generated
by a higher pressure in the Caribbean, the institute said.

The national emergency commission also noted Thursday that high seas again are predicted for the Pacific coasts.

An alert has been declared for the weekend. The commission said that the following beaches were most vulnerable:

Pavones, Isla Damas, Palo Seco, Playa Bejuco, Playa Hermosa near Jacó, Playa Azul, Corralillo de Tárcoles and Caldera.

Wave height should be similar to what took place a week ago when many homes in Caldera were flooded. Families had to be relocated. The commission also issued a warning for swimmers, surfers and small boat owners.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 174
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

U.S. decline in real wages
tied to less union influence

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Labor Day in the United States is a time to honor the contribution of workers.  Recently, workers in the U.S. have fallen on tough times.  Unemployment is high, while wages and benefits continue to decline — along with the ranks of organized labor.  With the presidential campaign in full swing, both candidates are claiming they can do what's best for the American worker.

Tom Lee is a former president of the American Federation of Musicians, the largest musicians' union in the world. He began his career with the U.S. Marine Corps Band and played many performances at the White House.

Although unions have lost stature in the U.S. in recent decades, Lee believes they still have an important role to play.

“I do believe that unions have helped the American people. Even those who have not been in unions make great strides in terms of wages, in terms of benefits,” Lee said.

But union membership has declined by about 50 per cent over the past 40 years. And last year, the state of Wisconsin stripped most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

Many economists think the decline in membership is an important factor in the drop in wages, adjusted for inflation. 

Lawrence Mishel is president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute.

“And this is because we have had excessive unemployment for many years recently, but over the last 30 years, we have had globalization where American workers have been pitted with workers with much lower wages.  We have had erosion of unionization,” Mishel said.

According to Mishel's own report, the productivity of U.S. workers has risen by 80 percent over the past three decades.  But hourly wages have only risen 11 percent.

Conservative economists disagree.  Andrew Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“We have had significant differences in the way employee compensation is paid out.  More goes to health care today than in the past.  Less goes to wages and benefits. That is not a function of exploitation.  That is a function of rising health care costs and those have to be borne out somewhere,” Biggs said.

Biggs argues that bringing down health care costs and increasing productivity will lead to higher wages. 

Mishel does not believe that's true.

“...  because we see wages have gone down for segments of the population that don’t even get health insurance,” Mishel said.

Meanwhile, union leader Tom Lee says he believes wages will continue to decline unless workers organize and press for policies that focus on economic security for all.


Child exploitation cited
in Guatemala by U.N. expert


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

In spite of protection measures by the Guatemalan Government, many children are still victims of sexual exploitation and forced labor, a United Nations independent expert warned today. 

“Many children are still victims of sexual exploitation and forced labour in Guatemala despite the laudable efforts carried out to prevent and combat the sale of children for illegal adoption,” said the special rapporteur on child trafficking, prostitution and child pornography, Najay Maalla M’jid, at the end of a 10-day visit to the country.

“The phenomenon of sexually exploited girls in prostitution is very worrying, as well as the large number of young mothers that have been sexually abused by relatives and the absence of sexual education that does not inform children of the inherent risks of sexual relations and early pregnancies,” she added in a news release from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ms. Maalla M’jid underlined that it is still difficult to determine the extent of the trafficking and exploitation of children due to the lack of systematic denunciations, as people fear stigmatization and retaliation.  

She also noted a lack of access to mechanisms that guarantee rapid protection and security for victims outside the capital, Guatemala City, pointing out that there is a transnational dimension to the issue which translates into using minors for sexual tourism, online pornography and organized crime. 


New Orleans only sustained
minor damage from Isaac


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tropical storm Isaac moved away from New Orleans Thursday, causing only minor damage, but flooded areas outside the city triggered evacuations and rescue operations as waters quickly rose.

North and south of New Orleans the storm left hundreds of homes under water.  Fears of an imminent failure of a dam in Mississippi prompted authorities to order the immediate evacuation of 60,000 residents in nearby communities in both Louisiana and Mississippi.

Thousands of people have moved into shelters.  Along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, officials sent scores of buses and dozens of high-water vehicles to help evacuate about 3,000 people.

New Orleans itself seemed to escape the brunt of the storm.  Residents are back out on the street. Crews are cleaning up debris, and where there is power, businesses are beginning to reopen.

The multi-billion-dollar improvement to the city's levee system that failed during Hurricane Katrina seven years ago passed its first major test, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The levees held in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, where in 2005 a levee was breached and caused significant flooding.  The damage this time was relatively minor, with fallen trees and downed power lines.

The Ninth Ward also is the area where actor Brad Pitt and the Make It Right Foundation built a number of hurricane-proof homes for local residents.

“This time I thank God for Brad Pitt,” said  Ninth Ward resident Gloria Guy.  After Hurricane Katrina flooded her neighborhood in 2005, she waited nine hours on the roof of her house to be rescued.  She said the foundation convinced her that the reinforced windows, the foundation and the raised elevation of the house would provide shelter from most storms.

More than one million residents in the region were without power due to the storm, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Isaac continues to move slowly northwestward.

Meanwhile, the Miami-based hurricane center says Hurricane Kirk formed Thursday over the open Atlantic Ocean, about 1,700 kilometers northeast of the Caribbean's northern Leeward Islands.

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Earthquake experts facing
reassessment of their craft


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Some high profile researchers in the earth sciences are questioning several long-standing assumptions about predicting earthquakes. They contend it is time for a major reassessment on the methods used to forecast where and when killer earthquakes will strike.

Three recent major earthquakes, in Sichuan, China in 2008, in the Caribbean nation of Haiti in 2010 and in northeastern Japan last year, have led to what some scientists acknowledge is an embarrassing failure.

They did not foresee such intense tremors would cause widespread destruction and casualties in those specific locations.

Even in Japan, with state-of-the-art seismological and tsunami research and sophisticated hazard mapping, the size of the March 11 quake and the resulting tsunami were vastly underestimated.

Earth sciences professor Seth Stein at Northwestern University in Chicago says that was a sobering day for his field.

"One, our ability to assess earthquake hazards isn't very good," noted Stein. "And, second, the policies that we make to mitigate earthquake hazards sometimes aren't very well thought out in terms of whatever tens or a hundred billion dollars were spent on those tsunami defenses were largely wasted."

Tokyo University seismologist Robert Geller is among co-authors, with Stein, of a new article intent on debunking some standard assumptions in their field, such as earthquakes occur in cycles.

"Many earth scientists still continue out of intellectual inertia to use terms like 'seismic cycle' or 'characteristic earthquake' or 'earthquake cycle" or things like that. So we've become prisoners to some extent of terms we use," explained Geller. "It's time for the field of seismology and earthquake science to rethink some of the basic precepts."

Geller says his colleagues around the world need to re-learn to expect the unexpected when it comes to earthquakes.

"Unfortunately we don't, at the present time, have the scientific ability to make specific predictions in their immediate advance, or, let's say, years in advance," he said. "All of those various kinds of predictions have, in fact, been made, but they usually don't work out."

Geller has a closet filled with publications, produced by scientists and charlatans alike, proclaiming earthquake forecasting methods, all of which he has made an effort over the years to debunk.

At Northwestern University's Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Stein says, in hindsight, it was probably a mistake to rush with such enthusiasm into earthquake hazards mapping without noting the limitations.

"Now we've got these maps out there. Every country has a government agency that makes these maps and engineers look at them," Stein noted. "There's some good sense in them, but there's a lot of problems with them too and the uncertainties in there are a lot bigger than we use to think they were."

Geller sees some of those hazard maps as a hazard, themselves.

"They're based on one assumption piled on top of another. If you treat them as being something you can literally rely on as extremely accurate then you're in trouble," he said.

"We're playing a game against nature. It's a very high stakes game," Stein said. "We don't really understand all the rules very well. We need to very carefully try to formulate the best strategies we can, given the limits of our knowledge."













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