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These stories were published Friday, Sept. 3, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 175
Jo Stuart
About us
Youngsters all over Costa Rica are practicing for Independence Day marches, including these elementary students from the so-called Escuela Metalica, adjacent to Parque España in San José downtown.
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Independence was a struggle, but not here
By Mitzi Stark
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

It’s hard to imagine how news traveled back in the 1820s without radios, telephones and few newspapers, but the ideas of libertad and independencia were reaching into the remotest areas of the western world.  Costa Rica, with a population of around 55,000, mostly in rural areas, was no exception.

The War of Independence in the United States and the French Revolution in the 1780s were still within memory for many, and in 1800 a slave rebellion in Haiti led to that country’s independence. 

Between 1810 and 1812, Mexico whose territory reached all the way to northern California, fought for its independence and became an independent empire under Gen. Agustin Iturbide.  The next few years saw one South American country after another gain its independence from Spain, and the deeds of Simon Bolivar made news, even if it arrived late.

By 1821 Central America’s six provinces, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Chiappas, known as the Capitania of Guatemala, were all that was left of the Spanish empire on the mainland, and the voices for independence were growing stronger by the day.  Two events that year helped raise talk of independence to a shout.  The first two newspapers in the Capitania began publishing, and both El Editor Constitutional and El Amigo de la Patria favored independence.

Then the province of Chiappas, on its own, broke away from the Capitania and joined the Mexican empire without repercussions. Napoleon’s invasion of Spain left the monarchy weak and disinterested in the far off colony.  Meanwhile unrest and resentment at distant rules and rulers spread. 

Although independence, when it came, was granted peacefully, it followed months of agitation and demonstrations, especially in Guatemala City, seat of the government.  Flyers were printed up and nailed to doors.  Soapbox type speakers excited crowds.  Slogans for independence were written on walls, and royalists were subject to insults and harassment on the streets. 

Public unrest led the governor of the capitania, 

Sept. 15 is a national holiday in Costa Rica, el Día de la Independencia. There will be marches, the lighting of the torch of liberty and a formal governmental ceremony in Cartago. Here's a little background.

Gabino Gainza, to call for an urgent meeting for Sept. l4, 1821.  Leaders from the military, the church and society, 56 in all, met at the governor’s palace. But they couldn’t agree on what to do.  Should they wait for more opinions?  Or should they follow Chiappas and join Mexico?  Some delegates wanted to form a confederation of the five provinces, and a few proposed joining Colombia, the huge country to the south that included Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador.

But there was no reckoning with the public’s demands.  Noisy demonstrations formed in the plaza in front of the meeting place with some people crowding into the hallways and leaning in the windows to listen and to shout down speakers opposed to independence.  Before long the crowd pushed its way into the meeting hall, and then, another one of those strange, seemingly inconsequential incidents happened that forced the hand of history.

Led by a lady, Doña Dolores Bedoya, a band began to play outside.  The music accompanied by the sound of firecrackers led the delegates to think an insurrection had broken out, and they quickly  wrote up a declaration of independence.

This, however, did not settle matters.  The document did not say what form of government would follow or what rights and principals were guaranteed.  Disagreements within the newly liberated territories led to bloody fights, including in Costa Rica where Cartago and Heredia wanted to join the Mexican empire and Alajuela and San José wanted a confederation of the five provinces.  (As a result of being on the winning side, San José won the capitol away from Cartago).  And in Barva, the priest, a Monarchist, refused to give the sacraments to "Republicans."

In the end, the five little countries formed the Confederation of Guatemala, and in 1824 Costa Rica became a fully independent nation.

Historical information from "Los Sucesos de Setiembre 1821" by Rafael Obregón.

Who are you backing this year in the U.S. presidential race?
Who’s your candidate? Bush or Kerry? 

A.M. Costa Rica is open to letters from readers stating political opinions. Because overseas voters have to file early, September is the perfect month to present such views.

Try to hold your praise or condemnation to 350 words. Sign your full name and also include your hometown. Send them HERE!

We will publish them as space is available. BELOW are some today. 


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Molestation suspect
caught teaching kids

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Immigration authorities from the United States have teamed up with the Ecuadorian National Police to capture a fugitive child molestation suspect in Rio Bamba, Ecuador, as part of a U.S. initiative to capture such persons around the world.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said the man, Brandon Eugene Jones, was in custody in Miami, Fla., after being deported from Ecuador. Jones was wanted in the U.S. state of South Carolina on a range of sex charges, the agency said.

Jones was indicted in December 2003 in South Carolina for sexual acts against children, after which he fled to Ecuador, where he began teaching English to young children at a school in Rio Bamba, said the agency.

Ecuadorian authorities located Jones, a U.S. citizen, in Rio Bamba and arrested him for having overstayed his Ecuadorian visa. An immigration judge in Ecuador quickly ordered Jones deported from the country, the agency said.

Jones' arrest is part of the agency's Operation Predator, which was launched in July 2003 to protect children from child sex tourists, Internet child pornographers, child traffickers, criminal alien sex offenders, and other predatory criminals.

Targets of Operation Predator include U.S. citizens suspected of child sex crimes, as well as non-citizens whose child sex crimes render them deportable from the United States. 

Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, more than 3,800 child sex predators have been arrested nationwide. In addition, leads have resulted in foreign law enforcement authorities arresting more than 700 individuals around the world.

Terry Fox Fun Run
Planned for Sunday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Canadian Embassy and the Asociación Lucha Contra el Cáncer Infantil are again staging the Terry Fox Fun Run in Parque La Sabana, San José, starting at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. 

The purpose is to raise funds for the National Children's Hospital and cancer research. Individuals are being asked to make a donation of 2,500 colons (about $5) which will include a commemorative T-shirt of the event, a snack and a participation certificate. 

The late Terry Fox, a Canadian national hero, ran across Canada in 1981 even though he had lost a leg to cancer in order to raise funds for research. Some $300 million has been raised in his name.

Enrollment for the run can be made at the Canadian Embassy in Oficentro La Sabana (242-4452), at the association (255-0231) or at a number of other locations around the valley. All ages have been invited.

Another reader record
established in August

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This newspaper set another record in August when 67,351 unique daily readers signed on for their Costa Rican news.

That’s 2,004 more unique daily readers than the previous record set last May.

The increase in readership suggested strong interest in Costa Rica, particularly from outside the country even though tourism is entering the traditional low season.

The statistics were compiled by an independent program maintained by the owners of the newspaper’s Internet server in Maryland.

Throughout the world, printed newspapers are suffering circulation declines and financial stress induced by the rising cost of newsprint, postage and transportation. Sophisticated advertisers also find they can reach the better-off clientele via on-line marketing because people with money probably are computer-oriented and Web surfers.

Professional Directory
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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Which breakfast delight is the real food bomb?
For more than 30 years, I practiced medicine, mostly cardiology. In the early 80’s I helped create and directed a cardiac catheterization laboratory. By the mid-90’s, we were performing as many as a dozen coronary angiograms, angioplasties and stent insertions a day. To curb the diseases we were battling, I directed a lipid-lowering clinic in the same institution.

We were primarily patient and physician educators. One of our mantras was "Read the labels." Sadly, many of our other specific recommendations were as informed as were the fabled descriptions of the elephant when palpated by blind men: 

The one who felt the tail described the elephant as similar to a twig. To another who touched the leg felt it was like a tree.  A third grasped the moving trunk and described a boa constrictor, etc. They were all technically correct, but hardly accurate about the entire beast. So were we. The absolutist blind men among us forbade partaking of nearly all foods except steamed vegetables and lots of water. 

Recently, our family sat around the breakfast table. We were four generations ranging in age from 2 to 84. All of us had fresh fruit from the platter of watermelon, pineapple, papaya, mango and banana.

The baby ate crackers and drank her "bobble" with a chocolate sandwich cookie. The 5- and 6-year-olds had multicolored sweetened cold cereal and pieces of their mom’s fresh bakery pastry. Mom also had a glazed doughnut. Grandma had fruit and a frozen waffle. Grandpa had bacon and eggs. Great grandma had raisin bran and high fiber toast spread with margarine and jelly. 

Which family member(s) ate the breakfast of champions?

We are all fairly well schooled on the two cholesterols, LDL and HDL. LDL is the evil twin. Elevated levels are associated with heart attack, stroke, vascular disease and premature death. We know that saturated fats from lard or heavy cream raise LDL (bad). Poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats like canola, corn, safflower and olive oil actually lower LDL a little when used in moderation (not bad). 

HDL is the good twin. It helps remove fat from the blood stream and retards fatty deposits in blood vessels (good). 

Indigestible fiber lowers cholesterol a little, decreases the frequency of colon cancer and saves older folk from terminal constipation. Where most of us need a refresher course is in the area of trans fats (very bad). They don’t occur naturally, and the body doesn’t need even trace amounts of them. The have three negative properties: they cause higher LDL (bad), lower HDL (bad) and stickier blood platelets (bad). They may worsen diabetes as well.

Trans fats benefit only producers of fast foods, frozen snacks and meals, instant dry noodle soups, dry cereals, candies, frosting, whipped topping and microwave popcorn to name a few. Many food manufacturers super heat inexpensive vegetable oils and infuse them with hydrogen. Liquid oils thicken or become solid. Texture becomes smoother, shelf life prolonged, flavor enhanced and profits increased. At whose expense? 

Burger, taco and fried chicken emporia fry with trans fats that are less costly and less likely to become rancid. Onion rings, fries and faux ice cream are more hazardous than the greasy burgers. Non-dairy creamers are worse than milk. The best choice for salad dressing at a restaurant is olive oil and vinegar, unless you know that the vinaigrette is made without bottled additions or suspect oils.

The worst part about these harmful transformed fatty acids is that restaurants using them don’t 

Dr. Lenny
on our food

have to warn you and manufacturers don’t include them on food labels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration backed a new law that mandates trans fats content be listed on all labels as of 2006.

In the interim, read the labels for clues. If the product lists total fats and component saturated and unsaturated fats, the sum of the components should equal the total if there are no trans fats. If, e.g. total fats are 7 grams, saturated 2, unsaturated 2, then there are three grams of trans fats. The FDA suggests that you ingest as little as possible, that there is no known safe upper limit. If component fats are not listed, look for the words "hydrogenated," "shortening" or "partially hydrogenated" in the list of ingredients. Those terms mean trans fats are present. Ingredients are listed in descending order by amount. If "hydrogenated" appears early in the list, a large dose of trans fats is present. 

Labels are often intentionally misleading. Cholesterol-free says nothing about saturated fats or trans fats. 2 percent milk does not have 98 percent of the fat removed. It has about half the fat left in. Whole milk has about 4% fat content. Are any of you old enough to remember when Bumble Bee challenged the canned salmon monopoly and introduced its tuna as "guaranteed not to turn pink in the can?"

Two years ago, I took my magnifying glass to my neighborhood market and inspected the labels on all the products that bore the brand Healthy Choice. Every item contained trans fats. Most of the dry cereals were guilty as well. A few were fat-free. Fortunately, fat free is exactly that, no hidden trans fats. 

Back at the table, crackers, cookies, most cereals, frozen waffles, pastries even from bakeries, doughnuts, packaged bread, most margarine and some jelly contain significant amounts of trans fats. Grandpa’s bacon and eggs are appropriate health food only if he is one in four in his age group for whom a low carbohydrate diet is best. Although his choice is trans fat-free, he is eating a lot of saturated fat, a potential problem for the other three out of four of his peers. 

The only issue with great grandma is her present comfort. She is correct to choose lots of fiber, even though everything on her plate contains trans fats.  Long term, Mom and her babies are probably most at risk. The fish sticks, chicken nuggets, pudding cups and chips they eat for lunch are as bad as their breakfast choices. 

So what should you eat for breakfast? Whatever you please. Your choices are likely to be healthier if you remember the science and read labels.  Another option is the Tico choice, fresh fruit and gallo pinto (beans and rice). Plenty of fiber and no trans fats if it is fried in corn oil, not "cholesterol free all vegetable" trans fat laden manteca, shortening. 

Add eggs, sour cream and cheese at your own risk.  For those of you who are absolutists, eat steamed broccoli with three glasses of water. You may not live to be 100, but it will surely feel like it.

Some happy suggestions for eating meals alone
Crowds have been gathering in many places around the world lately. The Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, have brought together thousands. In New York, several thousand people have gathered at Madison Square Garden for the Republican convention, and tens of thousands were in the streets to protest. 

Here, in Costa Rica (where everything is on a smaller scale), strikers have been marching and blocking the streets and highways in protest of what the government is doing, and at a lovely ranch in the country, 150  people attended a picnic to register to vote in the U.S. election.

Some of these activities have been televised, and many of us have watched all of these people from the solitude of our own living rooms, or wherever we have our TVs. I’m talking about those of us who live alone — and we seem to be in the millions. 

Now I want to get away from the madding crowd to talk of one of the aspects of living alone. That is that living alone, one gets to eat alone quite often. Many people find this onerous. Some of my friends find eating alone so unattractive they hardly bother to cook. I have some happy suggestions. 

Cooking for yourself may not be fun, but it is an opportunity to try out new recipes that you will want to serve to company. No? How about, eating alone means you can eat whatever you want wherever you want. Standing at the sink is not recommended, but I confess I eat breakfast standing at my counter. I started doing that when I was working. 

One can get careless with one’s manners. Don’t let that happen to you. Bad habits are much easier to establish than good habits. At least don’t talk to yourself with your mouth full. (Another thing people living alone tend to do.)

But the best thing about eating alone is what you can eat. And here I will quote writer Fay Maschler in her essay "Sole Food," because she has said it better than I can. "What you must do is serve yourself delicious food that takes practically no preparation and is extravagant enough to buy to make you thankful that it needn’t be shared." There you have it — The joy of eating alone.

I happen to love snails, more elegantly known as 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

escargots. Once in a great while I order them in restaurants. I finally left behind my little snail dishes and the prongs with which to eat them. One day I realized I can still eat them without the paraphernalia. A can of twelve snails at the automercado is 1,300 colons ($3). I suggest you serve six at one time, and don’t make the mistake of eating the remaining six the following day. It is just too much richness. 

Which brings me to another cautionary note: Eating alone doesn’t mean stuffing yourself. Recipe for six snails: Wash and drain the snails and cut in half. In a small ovenproof casserole, about an inch deep, melt at least 3 tablespoons of butter with 3 cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and a dash of brandy, salt and pepper. Add the snails, swishing them around to cover with mixture. Bake in 400 degree in your toaster oven until the butter bubbles. Enjoy with some good French bread. You can probably heat that in your microwave.

Another food I love is prosciutto ham. That is really expensive: about 1,800 colons ($4) for just 100 grams cut paper-thin. I can make a meal of melon wrapped prosciutto. Another joy of eating alone. You can do that with no one saying where’s the vegetable? You can eat them at the next meal. 

My other extravagance is imported Fontina cheese. That is available at Saretto’s. I think it costs 18,000 colons a kilo (about $40). I eat it on toast. Top a slice of toast with thinly sliced tomatoes and then slices of Fontina. Put in toaster oven till cheese melts. 

Those are just a few ideas. I am sure others, with different tastes, have good ideas. If you care to share them, send them to me.

Now, you can go back to watching TV. You never turned it off? Oh dear, that is another bad habit living alone nurtures. 

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More readers announce what side they are on
Both are the same

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The choice between Skull or Bones is no choice at all.

Its is the choice between War with Honor or Honor with War. In the end we all loose.

These two nimrods are no different, although Bush is the worst president the U.S.A. has ever had who has bankrupt our country for many years to come, Kerry will be the next president (he has the highest percentage of Royal genes) and will bring on World War IV and the end of our days.

I am voting for Ralph Nader who will bring the troops home, put the Bush Crime family behind bars and return the stolen tax dollars to the people.

Let your voices be heard! NO MORE WAR!


Bob Jones
Tilaran, Costa Rica

Self-loathing Democrats

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The Democrats are remarkable in their self loathing. Its not enough that they think Americans are stupid, hope we lose in Iraq, and pray the economy slumps. 

No, they have to nominate a candidate so inept and outside the mainstream of thought in America that it is sure to re-elect a weak president Like Bush. Yes, its true, a very small percentage of Americans define themselves as "progressive" or more accurately Socialist. Yet they nominate John Kerry. He favors penalizing success, nationalizing health care, submitting America to the UN and world courts. 

The left whoops it up thinking that there is a chance someone that dumb could be elected. I am sure these misguided, unaccomplished Democrats will just love W's second term. Exposing these pseudo-intellectuals and their silly socialist schemes as the weak mental morons they are is pure vida! 

These Democrats actually believe Amercan's will vote to change America into an economic and social basket case like Costa Rica. Dream on! 

George Chapogas 
Eugene Ore.

Beaten by peace activists

Dear AM Costa Rica:

John Kerry is unfit as a candidate. He's creepy. But not because of what he did in the Vietnam War. Maybe he's really a war hero. Who knows? Although, three Purple Hearts in three months without spending a day in the hospital hardly passes the laugh test. 

No, it is his conduct following the war that truly frosts me. If he had participated in, witnessed, or even heard of real atrocities — as he claims — that were committed in war, he had a duty to report this to his commander. Even as a lowly buck sergeant, my commander's door was always open to me. He insisted that he be kept informed because, ultimately, he was responsible for our unit. And we were loyal to our "old man". And you can bet your boots we never let him down. 

Unlike Kerry, we didn't go grabbing the national spotlight in front of a Senate Committee to beef about injustices. And we didn't whip up anti-veteran sentiments for personal political gain. But there is one incident that is "seared" in my memory. I was once confronted, chased, cornered, beaten, and spat upon by a group of "peace" activists in San Francisco. They actually called ME a "baby killer"! I was pummeled till I was black and blue — but I never got a Purple Heart. I was a young medic at the time. And I was just 17 years old. 

I reported back to my base, got bandaged up, and later, I proceeded to assist in the delivery of over 40 healthy babies. As far as I know, they ALL lived. No thanks to John Kerry, whose heroric and self-serving protests helped inflame people to harbor so much hatred towards our more honorable men and women in uniform. So, I say: GO Bush. 

Leo Leonowicz 
Guadalupe, Costa Rica

Even Hitler got elected

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Consider this. An election for public office is held in a country. One candidate is the son of a previous leader, who was formerly the head of the country’s intelligence bureau. In the part of the country with the determining vote, his brother is the leader. 

Many voters of certain ethnic groups are not allowed to vote. The person in charge of counting the votes is a financial backer of that candidate who hopes to become an ambassador. That candidate does NOT win the most votes but he takes the office anyway. 

His assumption into the office of leader is determined by a court, the majority of whose members were selected by his father’s political friends. Nicaragua? Paraguay? Pakistan? Iraq? Russia? Tibet? Afghanistan? Guatemala? None of this should surprise us. Even Hitler got elected. God help democracy.

Connie Lentz 
Amherst, Massachusetts

There’s no exit strategy

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Being a retired Army veteran and a disabled veteran who served with the Mobile Riverine Forces Mekong Delta 1968/69, I'd like to make a few comments regarding a couple controversies surrounding this election. 

First, Kerry put himself in harms way serving in a unit that had a very high casualty rate in Vietnam. George Bush did not. We never requested citations in Vietnam, they were awarded to us. If you don't think we deserved them, or John Kerry, talk to the Pentagon. We didn't set up the qualifications. End of discussion. 

Second, George Bush's administration got us into Iraq under false pretenses. (Weapons of mass distruction have never been found.) Can you think of any other major reason he used to get us involved?

Third, Read your history books! Have we ever been in a war where there were no front lines, enemy soldier's didn't wear uniforms, we were in unfamiliar territory, we didn't have the support of the general public, we installed a "puppet regime," we didn't speak the language, and enemy individuals were willing to strap explosives to their bodies and die to become heroes?

If you make the connection, did we win that one?

Between May 22 and July 1, 2004, 69 Americans were killed in Iraq. Not one of them by an enemy soldier in uniform. 

In the July 1st issue of "The New England Journal of Medicine" a Pentagon study was published stating that 1 in 6 returning Iraq veterans are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrom. George Bush has no concrete exit stragedy from Iraq. It’s time to replace him with someone who will. 

Ray Muschlewski 
USN/USArmy Retired 
Waterford, Wisc. and LaCeiba, Honduras
We overlooked the art

By Jay Brodell 
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

What happens when a poet meets up with an insensitive editor?

Well, the editor treats his work of art like a simple letter and runs all the lines together.

Mr. Porter reminded us Thursday that we had savaged his award winning poem about George Bush. Mr. Porter said that Poetry.Com sent him $400 and published his work.

So without a single action of the editor’s pen, here is Mr. Porter’s work reprinted from Thursday.

The winning poem

By Bret Porter
of Escazú

How can this man-This arrogant man
Continue to broadcast his spiel
His personal war-Destroying Iraq
No care how Americans do feel

He made up his mind to initiate this war
Against the advice of those wiser than he
Hidden weapons were lies to insure the votes
Telling Congress Iraqi's can be free

Many insiders and his party as well
Know most likely his habit to lie
If he would just accept the blame 
Causing nine hundred plus soldiers to die

How can't he possibly know his dangerous move 
Causing millions of Iraqi's to despise him
Terrorists run rampant-Explosive bombs every 
If not death--Injured body and limb

We watch the news every evening with grief
Saddened as reporters relay
Now we've become apathetic
How many body bags sent home today?

Dear God, let November be our saving grace
Send this man back to Texas in seclusion
Let lawmakers decide to unite with UN
Bring this to an end --a peaceful conclusion

Our nation has troubles--Monumental concerns
Let's get our economy on track right away
We need health care for all--man, women and 
Troops back home soon--better today

Our nation so strong once highly regarded 
Is an embarrassment where ere we might roam
Let's get leadership who will direct the force
Solve our problems, insure our freedom, here at 

Bush team floats lies

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My husband and I have followed the election claims and counter claims very carefully. We are appalled at the misinformation the Bush groups are using and the play they get on outright lies and slander in the press. 

One only needs to do some checking to find out what is really the truth, but we find many voters don't want to be bothered about the facts or go any further than listening to the many false accusations in the ads and political rhetoric. 

If you are truly interested in facts check out this site on a regular basis and educate yourself: http://factcheck.org/ It is a well researched and non-partisan site that checks out the various political ads being aired currently. 

After watching both of the conventions we feel that Kerry did discuss the issues thoroughly, was looking to the future, and had a plan to deal with the health, economic, employment and education issues in the U.S.A. He did hit hard on his abilities to lead in the area of the war and foreign areas but that was not his only party plank . . . only one part of the whole but the part that is talked about the most. 

So far all we have seen at the Republican Convention is more misleading statements about Kerry (much of it downright lies — the press is even blatantly labeling the statements as such), a lot of negativity and smoke, no discussion of domestic issues other than "terror", "war", "fear". 

Do you realize we have been fighting in the Middle East longer than it took us to end WWI (that was an eye-opener for me)? I keep looking for a PLAN for anything, for exiting Iraq, for improving our relationships with other countries (a true embarrassment for many of us that travel outside this country), for lowering the cost of health care insurance, for making corporations responsible, for creating jobs to replace those outsourced, for helping our schools (see this site), for decreasing the runaway National debt. 

So many things important to us, but after Cheney's speech last night...not a word about how they plan to do any of it, not even mention of specifically what they have done aside from a war they still continue to mislead us on. We cannot afford four more years of this. 

And we got better coverage of the strikes and dissatisfaction in Costa Rica last week than we get on the demonstrations going on right now in New York City, many of them stretching over three miles long and attended by several hundred thousand people. 

Many of the people have been arrested for no stated reason at all. Is this freedom of speech? There is little reported about what those thousands of people who took their time and money to peacefully exercise their civil rights are even concerned about. 

Bush continually states that the places he goes everyone is favorable to his programs. What isn't stated is that he only goes to events that are well scripted and only attended by screened supporters. Kerry and Edwards invite all to attend, even those who disagree with them. 

They feel that they need to know first hand what things voters like and dislike about the issues they are discussing. Let us not make the same mistake we did last election and not vote. And please vote for the only ticket that does have a plan for the future of America, the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

Jeanita Ives 
Kansas City, Mo.

End the mutilation

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am a Vietnam veteran with two tours of duty in Vietnam as a medic on a Dust-Off (med-evac) helicopter. I find it repugnant that our President, and I use that term loosely, would use smear tactics to discredit someone who had the courage to go to Vietnam, when he himself used his father’s influence to get in the National Guard so he wouldn’t have to serve in a combat area. 

Both President Bush and Dick Cheney have no compunction about sending young men off to die and be mutilated, and yet they would not go when they had the chance. They fly the dead and wounded into the United States in the middle of the night and do not allow news coverage of these events because it would hurt them politically. 

I have seen first hand the mutilation and death that war causes and if people saw the cost to our young soldiers, they would not be so cavalier about sending them off to war. George Bush is our "War President" yet he did not have the courage to go when he had the chance.

Michael Mallon 
Kaneohe, Hawaii 
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