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Part of a home in Sámara hangs in space because the soil beneath has slipped away due to the earthquake.

Samara house
Servicios Periodísticos Globales S. A. photo

Residents in Sámara endure the nearby quake
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wednesday morning's quake largely spared the community closest to the epicenter, the Pacific beach town of Sámara.

The 7.6 magnitude earthquake occurred at 8:42 a.m. and its epicenter was 6.3 kilometers (almost four miles) south southwest of Playa Sámara, according to the Universidad de Costa Rica's Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica.

Despite the town being so close, José Ángel Gómez Sámara, the top police official there, reported that only two houses were destroyed.   He added that 10 occupants were injured but not seriously.

Locals and tourists alike evacuated the town soon after the quake in fear of a tsunami, but most business owners never reopened and, instead, took stock of their damages.

“All businesses are closed,” said Gómez. “There's not much activity now.”

According to the reports of various government agencies, the rest of the country was also largely spared from major damage in comparison to the damage caused by similar earthquakes in the past. Residents in most regions only faced  power outages and road closures.

Another story, photos

More than 230 smaller earthquakes of 2.0 magnitude or greater shook the entire area throughout the rest of the day and night. One was  a 4.7 quake between the towns of Nosara and Sámara. There was some disagreement as to the location of the major quake's epicenter. The seismic engineering laboratory placed the epicenter near Såmara, while the United States Geological Survey placed it about 22 kilometers (14 miles) southeast of Nicoya further inland on the Nicoya Peninsula. The national emergency commission said 20 kilometers to the south of Sámara.

Sámara residents reported very strong quakes that knocked objects off of tables and shelves and destroyed windows.

“Televisions, microwaves and glasses fell, windows broke,” said Victor Manuel Zuñiga Zuñiga, who works at the Sámara Treehouse Inn. “It was very, very strong.” He estimates that the quake's damage will cost the hotel between two and three million colons, perhaps as much as $6,000.

Other establishments had far less damages, including the Hideaway Hotel, according to employee Rosie Rios, who was outside during the quake.

“When I got back to the hotel, there was some cosmetic damage, but overall it was fine,” she said. “Overall, I think we did pretty well.”

Ms. Rios attributes the minimal damage to the high-quality construction of the building, and a separate generator had prevented problems from the temporary power outage. She still lamented at losing some glasses and flower vases, but said that one must put those losses in perspective.

“In the scope of things, you pick it up with a dust  pan, and you're just happy that everything is okay,” she said.
Nosara grocrey
Photo by Carl Wells
 Bottles at the Super Nosara grocery liter the floor
 after the big quake.

Workers at Skynet Tours in Sámara were just about to start a local trip for visitors when the earthquake struck forcing them to cancel.

“Since there was a tsunami alert. Everyone evacuated Sámara,” said Skynet employee David Orteja. “Nobody was expecting a tour, and nobody was expecting to work either.”

Orteja reported that the quake knocked books off of shelves and even computers off of desks in the firm's office.

No one was injured in any of these cases. Only Gómez reported 10 injuries in the two houses he said were destroyed. Five persons were in each house.

Up the coast in the beach community of Nosara the tremor caused a temporary panic but largely did not harm anyone or cause property damage.

“This was the scariest thing ever!” said Patty Yaniz, a resident of Nosara, in an email. “Lots of stuff crashed to the floor and some minor damage to our house.”

Earlier in the day Carlos Yaniz, the woman's husband, said that a couple of houses had collapsed in the town of Nosara. He also said that electricity and water were not running and the community had begun rationing water in case it took days to make repairs.

“There was a lot of movement, but so far so good,” said Yaniz.

Ms.Yaniz confirmed that power had been restored to the community by early evening,

According to Evelyn Ardon, a press officer at the U.S. Embassy in San José, no U.S. citizens had called to report they had been injured or needed help, but the embassy still sent a team to Guanacaste. The embassy staffer urged U.S. citizens in Costa Rica to call and register with the Embassy and then call loved ones in the United States.

The whole area is under a general emergency commission alert that includes the entire county and a special emergency declaration by Marco Jiménez, mayor of the Municipalidad de Nicoya. The local state of emergency is scheduled to last 72 hours. There was structural damage in Nicoya, too. That administrative center for the peninsula is some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) east of Sámara.

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Creator of sloth campaign
scheduled to speak here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cámara Nacional de Turismo has set Sept. 25 and 26 for the national tourism congress. Among those scheduled to speak is the man invovled with the nation's advertising campaign that featured a talking sloth.

The event will be at the Hotel Costa Rica Marriott. The chamber said that the sessions would offer tourism operators ways to improve their negotiating strategies in the face of new trends, demands and market profiles, This is the 17th year for the event.

Some 16 national and international presenters will attend, the chamber said.

Among those speaking will be Chris Tuff, director of communications media for 22 Squared. This is the firm that created the sloth campaign in which the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo gave away free trips in the hopes of creating a flurry on Facebook. The campaign has been controversial. The tourism institute spent some $6.4 million on the campaign.

The tourism chamber also will be hosting an executive of Google to promote that company's advertising. A PayPal executive also is scheduled to attend. PayPal is an electronic money transfer service that recently made an agreement with Banco Nacional for services here.

Our reader's opinion
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Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Thank you for your coverage of the campaign to end polio. 

Please let everyone know that they can contribute to the elimination of polio through donations to Rotary International which has been vaccinating against polio since 1979 working alongside WHO, CDC and UNICEF and who's members have given over one billion dollars to the cause. 

Donations can be made through one of the 15 local clubs here in Costa Rica (call 1113) and by participating in the Polio Plus "This Close" program  

Tom Ghormley
Rotary Club of San Jose.

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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.

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Keith Clower took this photo of a landslide into the sea during Wednesday's quake as he flew an ultralight helicopter between Playa Grande and Playa Conchal in Guanacaste.

Keith Clower photo

shattered glass
Servicios Periodísticos Globales S. A. photo

Glass shattered in this municipal office in Nicoya and a ventilating device was dislodged from its location. Glass damage was significant in the administrative center of the peninsula.

Now the job is to estimate the damage and make repairs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

School has been suspended today in much of Nicoya peninsula so that structural experts can inspect the buildings, according to the national emergency commission. The schools are in Cóbano, Lepanto and Paquera.

Also doing assessment work will be technicians from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. They will be mainly in Guanacaste and Puntarenas and the northern zone. The agency said that any slides that had taken place on major highways were small and had been removed by nightfall Wednesday.

More info can be found in a news story
posted at noon Wednesday

One slide at Zarcero in an area known as Tapezco was considered the most serious. Clearing that might take three weeks, the agencies said, although it appears that passenger vehicles can travel on this route, which leads to San Carlos. Truckers were urged to use an alternate highway.

One bridge, the former railroad span at Río Chirripó on Ruta 4 in Sarapiquí collapsed during the quake.

The highway workers and employees from the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad will be checking bridges on the Interamericana Norte and then on the General Cañas Autopista near San José.

Bridges also will be checked over the ríos Virilla, Rafael Iglesias, Barranca, Grande and Tempisque, the agency said. That work is expected to take two days.

The Cámera Nacional de Turismo did a quick telephone survey of members to find mostly minimal damage. But the Hotel Riu in Guanacaste suffered some structural damage.

Earthquake experts from the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico at Universidad Nacional said they would fly over
the Nicoya peninsula later today to evaluate damage. They said
they were especially interested in the amount of energy released by the string of quakes to estimate the possibility of more activity. They noted that since Oct. 5, 1950, there had not been a major quake in the peninsula. They noted that there had been 230 aftershocks with the largest being of 4.7 magnitude.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias has declared its highest alert for the country. The agency warned that more quakes may follow and that residents should take precautions.

The Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados sent tankers with water to Puntarenas Centro Wednesday because repairs were being made until 10 p.m. on damaged lines there. Tankers also went to Bagaces and Tilarán where damage to the distribution lines caused the water to be discolored from infiltration by ground water.

The  Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said a 128-kilovolt breaker in Santa Rita had been affected and that power was interrupted to Paquera, Jicaral, Cóbano and Sámara. That outage was believed to have been repaired by 4:30 p.m. The outage also affected cell telephone service in the area.

The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social said it evacuated  Hospital Monseñor Sanabria in Puntarenas so that structural damage could be evaluated. Those patients who could go were sent home and those more seriously ill were housed in a nearby structure, said the Caja.

The 7.6 magnitude quake took place at 8:42 a.m. and sowed panic among many office workers and others not only in Guanacaste but in the entire country. Most damage has been restricted to falling objects and some broken windows. Damage on the peninsula was more extensive with houses being destroyed. There were reports of damaged homes nearer the Central Valley in Naranjo and Valverde Vega.

Initially there were reports that two persons had died. One was a woman in Filadelfia de Carrillo, whose death from a heart attack was confirmed by the Cruz Roja. But that death does not appear to have been related to the quake. The death of a workman that was widely reported could not be confirmed.

Dogs were taken by surprise as well as the human residents
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They say animals can hear quakes comings. Well some were taken by surprise Wednesday just like humans..

A sleeping reporter learned of the quake when his 30-kilo  (66-pound) dog landed on his chest with an anxious expression. The room was swaying from side to side.
In Nosara on the far Pacific coast, resident Carl Wells reported that he rescued a freaked-out dog who had broken out of her home during the quake and was hit by a car.  The mishap resulted in what appears to be a fractured femur.

Wells said that the dog was in shock but appeared to be recovering well. He took the animal home in order to seek the owner today.

damaged office and a house
Servicios Periodísticos Globales S. A. photos
A home in Sámara as well as one in Nicoya show the impact of the quake.

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New trade deal jeopardizes Internet freedom, two groups say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two organizations that try to protect Internet freedom say that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade proposal will rewrite global rules on intellectual property enforcement and restrict the public domain.

The organizations are the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange network.

The two groups said that the proposed Pacific trade pact endangers the Internet and digital freedoms on par with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and the Protect Intellectual Property Act.  All three of those measures re highly controversial U.S. laws.

The groups said that the trade pact would hurt Internet freedom in two significant ways: First, its intellectual property chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users' freedoms and innovation, and second, the entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy, they said.

As of now, corporate lobbyists are the only ones who have been officially invited to contribute and access the negotiating text, the two organizations said. The George Bush administration initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations back in 2008, but closed door sessions over this powerful multi-national trade agreement have continued under the Obama administration, led by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, they added. Governments are characterizing this as a free trade agreement, but its effects will go far beyond trade, they said.
U.S. Reps. Ron Wyden and Darrell Issa insist that the American people have a right to know what the United States is seeking in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement with respect to intellectual property rights, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The two have co-authored a letter to Ron Kirk, the head of the Office of the United States Trade Representative that is leading the U.S. delegation in the negotiations, asking him to reveal what his office is seeking in the intellectual property chapter.

Sections related to intellectual property rights could impact how people gain access to the Internet and could constrain what people may say online or how they can collaborate and share content, said the pair, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It is imperative that the property rights chapter of the proposed agreement not inappropriately constrain online activity, said the letter. Poorly-constructed drafts that erode Internet freedom could impede innovation, economic growth, and speech, it said.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation gave this summary of the letter in a release:

Given the Internet’s increasing role in facilitating American exports of digital goods and services, it is crucial that negotiators do not tip the balance in intellectual property enforcement in a way that will only further restrict Internet freedoms and users' digital rights.

The letter concludes with their request that the U.S. trade representative convey to the American people whether other obligations they are pursuing in the agreement will promote an open and free Internet, said the foundation.

U.N. treaty protecting domestic workers comes into force
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A United Nations treaty which provides a set of international standards to improve the lives of millions of domestic workers worldwide has now been ratified by a second member state, the Philippines, allowing it to come into force next year, the world body announced Wednesday.

The Convention on Domestic Workers, which states that workers around the world who care for families and households must have the same basic labor rights as those available to other employees, was adopted at the annual conference of the U.N. International Labour Organization last year in Geneva. 

To enter into force, however, the convention required ratification by two countries. In June, Uruguay became the first country to ratify it. 

“Today’s ratification by the Philippines sends a powerful signal to the millions of domestic workers who will be protected when the convention comes into force,” said Juan Somavia, the labor organization's director general. “I hope it will also send a signal to other member states and that we will soon see more
 and more countries committing to protect the rights of domestic workers.” 

Recently the labor organization estimates based on national surveys or censuses in 117 countries place the number of domestic workers at a minimum of 53 million, but experts say they could be as many as 100 million across the world.   In developing countries, they make up at least four to 12 per cent of those in wage employment, and around 83 per cent of them are women or girls, many of whom are migrant workers. 

“The new standard covers all domestic workers and provides for special measures to protect those workers who, because of their young age or nationality or live-in status, may be exposed to additional risks,” the International Labour Organization said in a news release. 

The Convention also states that domestic workers must have the right to reasonable working hours, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payments and clear information on terms and conditions of their employment, as well as the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.  

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U.N. cites millions of deaths
due to misuse of chemicals

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Nations is calling for urgent action to reduce the growing health and environmental hazards from exposure to chemical substances. A new study,  “Global Chemicals Outlook,”  by the U.N. Environment Program finds sound management of chemicals could save millions of lives and provide an economic bonanza to nations worldwide.

The report presents a stark view of a world that is overwhelmed by increased volumes of chemicals. The most frightening aspect of this scenario is that very little is known about the estimated 143,000 chemicals being produced. 

The U.N. Environment Program says only a fraction of these chemicals have been evaluated to determine their effects on human health and the environment. Chemicals are pervasive in every aspect of life. The report says they are used in agriculture, electronics and mining. They are found in products such as paints, adhesives, textiles and toys for children.

The report says death and disability rates from the unsafe use of chemical products are high. For example, it notes that poisonings from industrial and agricultural chemicals are among the top five leading causes of death worldwide, contributing to more than 1 million deaths annually.

Besides the health costs, Sylvie Lemmet, said the unsound management of chemicals has very high economic costs. She is the director of the program's Division for Technology, Industry and Economics.

“If you look at the estimated cost of poisoning from pesticide in sub-Saharan Africa, only the injury and the loss of working time…is estimated to be 6.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2009," said Ms. Lemmet.

The program reports global chemical sales are set to increase by around 3 percent a year until 2050.  It says production is quickly shifting from developed to developing countries.  The report says chemical production is set to increase by 40 percent in Africa and the Middle East between 2012 and 2020 and Latin America is expected to see a 33-percent rise. 

The report cites as key environmental concerns pesticide and fertilizer contamination of rivers and lakes, heavy-metal pollution associated with cement and textile production, and dioxin contamination from mining. It also stresses the dangers of persistent organic pollutants, which can be transported over long distances in the air, and are later deposited onto land and water resources. As these chemicals accumulate in organisms, they move up the food chain. Scientists say they are responsible for the near extinction of some species.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 25 percent of the global burden of disease is linked to environmental factors. The director of the organization's Department of Public Health and the Environment, Maria Neira, said 4.9 million deaths from these diseases are attributable to environmental exposure of selected chemicals. 

“We have data available proving that. I think that is an enormous figure - 4.9 million deaths that could be avoided if we have better management in reducing exposure to those chemicals," said Ms. Neira. "Obviously, this figure is an underestimation. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We know that data is only available on a very small number of chemicals. If we go for more that would probably give us a more dramatic figure.”

Authors of the report say preventing harm is cheaper than fixing it. They say poor management of chemicals creates health and environmental safety hazards. It also incurs multi-billion-dollar costs worldwide.

September 11 museum
at impasse over money

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

More than 4 million people have visited the September 11 Memorial in New York City since it opened last year on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.  Visitors from around the world come to watch the waterfalls rush into the deep footprints of the former World Trade Center Twin Towers and to read the names of those who died, etched in bronze panels surrounding the pools.

But work on the September 11 Museum at the site, which was to open in time for the 11th anniversary of the attacks, stopped months ago because of financial disputes between the private foundation that owns the Memorial & Museum, and the public Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center site.

The museum’s steel and glass entry hall is built, but its interior is unfinished, and a sign outside warns visitors away.  Monica Iken, whose husband, Michael, died in the attacks, calls the impasse a disgrace.

"It’s an embarrassment for the world to see," she said.  "They come there, and I’ve been there several times where people come up to me and say, 'Where’s the museum, why is it not open?'  How do you explain that: 'Oh, because we’re fighting over some money?'"

Museum renderings show visitors entering under huge trident beams from the original buildings, and taking escalators down to cavernous galleries that will hold damaged rescue vehicles and a set of stairs down which some survivors fled.  Photographic and sound exhibits will tell the stories of that day and memorialize each of the nearly 3,000 people who died.  There will also be displays telling the story of al Qaida and the terrorist plotters, although some family members of those who died, like Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son Jimmy, think those should be limited to side displays in kiosks.

"If you want to see their pictures, let them go into the kiosk and look at their picture," he said.  "But I think you've made it more like a Hall of Fame for the terrorists, and that's the way I feel, by putting their pictures up there."

Museum officials, who refused to be interviewed, reportedly have carefully considered how to present a history that might be traumatic for some visitors, particularly children.  They have deleted images that are too graphic or that show an individual victim’s identity.  The foundation reportedly plans to charge an admission fee of $25, although the memorial will remain free of charge.

But it is a collection that will never be shown that has caused the fiercest controversy, a refrigerated repository for 9,000 unidentified fragments of human bone and tissue, now held in the New York medical examiner's offices.  It will be seven stories underground, and off-limits to all but family members of the victims and the medical examiner.  Museum visitors will see only a vast wall bearing a quotation from the Roman poet Virgil:  “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

But Jim Riches and members of 16 other victims' families are suing.  He said that only a few family members were consulted by the September 11 Memorial & Museum Foundation about their wishes.  His group wants to poll all of the families on the issue.  Riches says he thinks that most would choose to visit the unidentified remains at a tomb above ground, and not as part of the museum.

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Presdient and minsterfrom Colombia
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President Laura Chinchilla converses with María Ángela Holguín, the Colombian foreign minister.

Colombian minister seeking
backing here for negotiations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

The foreign minister of Colombia visited Costa Rica Wednesday to seek support for the country's efforts to negotiate peace with Marxist revolutionaries. The country has been at war for more than 40 years.

The minister is María Ángela Holguín. She met with President Laura Chinchilla Miranda. The president said that the country always has promoted peace and that Costa Rica would support the government of Colombia and the people of Colombia. She said she hoped for a satisfactory solution for a friendly people who deserve it, according to Casa Presidencial.

Minister Holguín is involved in a series of meetings to talk first-hand with government officials in Central America to ensure support for the Colombian government's position.

Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, announced the peace talks with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, better known as FARC, during a nationally televised address Monday.  News outlets reported earlier Monday that the the two sides had agreed to begin holding talks in Oslo, Norway, in October.

Santos says the negotiations must lead to a peace deal and that military operations will continue during the talks.  He also mentioned that Colombia's second-biggest rebel group, the Ejército de Liberación Nacional, or ELN, has expressed a desire to participate in the negotiations.

FARC has yet to react to the Santos announcement.

The last negotiations between the government and FARC collapsed in 2002, as the guerillas increased their ranks and turned to drug trafficking.

FARC has engaged in numerous attacks on security forces and political kidnappings in its battle against the government, which began in 1964.

The group has suffered major defeats since the start of a U.S.-backed military effort in 2000.  It has recently engaged in a number of hit-and-run attacks against oil and coal mining facilities.  Six people were killed in a FARC car bombing in a rural area Sunday. 

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