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(506) 2223-1327           Published Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 177          Email us
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Friday is when boys and girls have their day
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Kids have a big day coming Friday, and adults better be paying attention.

The day now is called the Día de Niño, Día del Niño y la Niña or Día de Ninez. Regardless of the exact name, youngsters are expecting presents. In fact in some families children distribute presents among themselves. The day is just slightly less important for kids than Christmas.

Because the day lands this year near a weekend, special events are planned for children also on Saturday and Sunday.

The Parque Zoológico y Jardín Botánico Nacional Simón Bolívar starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with clowns, contests, prizes, food, games and crafts, it said in an announcement. Admission to the zoo that is based in Barrio Otoya in north San José is 2,200 colons or about $4.30 for adults and 1,500 colons or about $3 for children. Kids under 3 get in free.

Among other workshops is one to help children construct their personal farol, the street lantern that is traditional Sept. 14, the eve of the Día de la Independencia. There also will be traditional
dancing, theater, a magic act and more games,

The Museo Nacional has its celebration Sunday.  said the museum in an announcement. Also on display will be “Acercando Realidades,” a photo show produced by the organization Defensa de la Niñez Internacional that depicts life for children in the low-income areas of Alajuelita y La Carpio.

The museum said that some of the children shown in the photos will be at the exposition to act as guides.

Costa Ricans can attend the museum free Sunday, it said.

Other organizations and state institutions are likely to announce their own events later in the week. None probably will match the 2007 gathering in Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in Tibás where 13,000 children participated. There also will be regional celebrations.

All over the country the public schools will recognize the day Friday with special activities that vary from school to school.

The education ministry noted that this is the 74th anniversary of the day in Costa Rica.

Analog television expected to be history by 2017
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla signed a decree Tuesday that commits the country to adopt digital television in 2017.

That is if something else does not replace television sets.

The decree has minimal impact on those using a television cable service. These services already have a digital signal. Analog television sets can be set up with a translator box to handle digital.
The president said that the country would take its cues from Brazil and Japan which already are undergoing the transformation.

She also empaneled a committee to establish policies during the transformation.

Many digital sets already have been sold in the country, and newer computer monitors can handle a digital signal.

Most affected will be those viewers who receive a signal over the air.

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Bandits in separate crimes
did not count on bullets

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One robbery suspect is dead and two juvenile suspects, 15 and 17, are wounded and hospitalized after two incidents late Monday.

Two men tried to stick up persons at a Tibás gasoline station, but an armed guard cut down one of the bandits with a bullet to the chest, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization. The second man fled, judicial agents said.

The dead man was identified by the last name of Vega. He was 36.

The same night agents were investigating the shooting of two youth, one 15 and the other 17, after they arrived at Hospital San Juan de Dios with bullet wounds. One suffered a bullet wound to the back and the other received a bullet in the leg.

Agents suspect these are the two individuals who stuck up three pedestrians in Torremolinos as they traveled about a kilometer on a motorcycle.

At first the Judicial Investigating Organization said the two robbers had been shot by Fuerza Pública officers, but later said the persons trying to stop the crimes and the flight of the robbers were members of the the agency's own Sección de Cárceles. These are the agents who transport prisoners.

The agents by chance tried to stop a robbery of a woman on the public street about 8 p.m., the agency said. There was an exchange of shots, said the agency. That case still is under investigation.

U.S. credit reporting firm
buys Datum in Costa Rica

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Equifax Inc., the U.S. Credit reporting agency, announced Tuesday that it has acquired Datum, a major credit reporting company in Costa Rica. Financial details of the transactions were not disclosed.

Datum collects, synthesizes and provides consumer credit data to banks, telecommunications companies, retail and insurance businesses across Costa Rica. The company is headquartered in San José.

"The acquisition of this innovative, market-leading company is an indication of our commitment to the rapidly growing Costa Rican market, and further confirmation of our strategy to grow our presence internationally," said Paulino R. Barros, Equifax president - international. "We will be able to offer Costa Rican businesses expanded products and services providing unprecedented financial insights to help them manage and grow their businesses."

Equifax currently operates a global shared services center in Costa Rica that provides information technology, data processing and customer support. In 2010, the company doubled the size of the center, where it has more than 500 employees.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax operates in four continents and 15 countries, is a member of Standard & Poor's 500 Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol EFX.

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!
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 177

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Reporter seeks to change criminal laws and seek justice
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A former Diario Extra reporter has launched a campaign to demand action from the Corte Suprema magistrates to end insecurity and injustice.

He is Fabián Meza, who announced the campaign with an email barrage Tuesday.

He suggests that those with similar views join him Sept. 14 on the judicial plaza to sing the national anthem and to make magistrates aware of their concern. The date and time, 6 p.m., coincide with the celebration of the eve of the Día de la Independencia.

He said that laws must be reformed with the only objective that criminals not live in peace.

He said this should not be an isolated event but the start of a civic movement all over the country to reclaim the rights that are in the Costa Rican constitution.

His message was accompanied by three slick graphics, although he did not name the group that was supporting him.

He is well known as a crime reporter even to the extent that there is a Facebook page for people who hate him.
Meza's flier
This is one of the three graphics

However, he does not appear to be working at El Diario Extra now because a search of the site did not reveal any new articles with his byline.

He said the protest also would call for justice in education, in the distribution of wealth, on the highways and in all aspects of society.

He said the time has come to make politicians realize that the public is sick of such incompetence. He suggested the country is heading into chaos.

Sex crime fugitive was able to hide out on the Nicoya coast
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Virginia fugitive from a sex crime was able to hide out in Costa Rica for nine years because he was living on the distant coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.

When he was detained, the man, William E. Dick, was working at the swank FlorBlanc resort in Santa Teresa. He
William Dick
William E. Dick
was tripped up by a brief appearance he made in an MTV television show and his Facebook page.

The Frederick County, Virginia, Sheriff's Office confirmed that Dick was detained in Costa Rica Aug. 8.

“Dick was wanted on an outstanding 2002 Frederick County Circuit Court capias for failure to appear for trial.  His  original charge was forcible sodomy, said the Sheriff's Office. “In September of 2010,
the Sheriff’s Office representative on the FBI Safe Streets Task Force initiated a more intense investigation into apprehending Dick when information was received that Dick was believed to have appeared as a bartender on an episode of the MTV show 'The Hills' that was filmed in Costa Rica.”
The show was filmed at the Santa Teresa resort. Dick was handed over to sheriff's deputies and a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Aug. 25 at Reagan National Airport, the department said.

Dick was transported back to the United States under funding available through the FBI Project Welcome Home, the Sheriff's Office said.  The FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division developed Project Welcome Home in an effort to support the apprehension and repatriation of international fugitives charged with crimes of violence, it explained. 

Project Welcome Home funds the round trip travel of two law enforcement officials and a one-way trip for the fugitive from a foreign country to the United States, it added. 

Dick was supposed to appear in Frederick County Circuit Court Tuesday.

An investigator's affidavit quoted in a local newspaper there said that Dick's parents had made trips to Costa Rica and that a photo of his mother showed up on a Facebook page that he obtained under a false name and linked it to the resort's Facebook page.

The charge against Dick is forcible sodomy that is alleged to have happened in 2000 when he and the victim were attending a local high school graduation, according to the affidavit.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 177

Colombian arrests crimp gangs that shipped drugs to Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug operations, mainly at the country's northern border, confiscate large quantities of cocaine regularly. But there has been no way to determine how much of the drug gets through.

Now Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reports that a string of arrests in his country has stopped the shipment of 10 tons of drugs through Central America each month. And that is just one drug smuggling ring.

Santos was talking about the Colombian operation Vuela Final that netted five tons of cocaine, 21 airplanes and $1.5 million. In addition 35 persons wanted for extradition to the United States were detained.

Colombian sources said that the sophisticated network used secret routes through Central America and that it was linked to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel. The gang used submersible craft, aircraft and land vehicles to move the contraband.  The route was managed by Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, one of Colombia’s senior drug lords, said Colombia sources.

The anti-drug operation was coordinated by the U.S. Attorney's Office in south Florida, which characterized the arrests as stemming from two distinct anti-drug operations.

That office said that 22 defendants were charged for their alleged participation in a drug trafficking organization that built and used fully submersible and semi-submersible submarines to transport cocaine from Colombia to Central America, with the ultimate destination being the United States. The law enforcement effort was called Operation Under the Sea.

This indictment, returned on May 17, charges the following individuals with numerous drug trafficking offenses: Mauner Mahecha Marcelo, 32; Luis Alexander Mahecha Marcelo, 23; Alexander Hernandez Arrubla, 29; Octavio Amezquita Marcelo, 38; Romir Gustavo Gutierrez Guerrero, 42; Jairo Trejos, 32; Jaider Fabio Gomez Aristizabal, 40; Jose Stiven Berrio Zorrilla, 26; Fernando Pineda Jimenez, 30; Marco Antonio Lopez Loaiza, 52; Victor Mario Palacio Muñoz, 37; Jesus Ernesto Garcia Prieto, 48; Juan Carlos Vasquez Pachon, 39; Roberto Gilton Valencia Pinto, 42; Albin Rodrigo Arrollo Garcia, 43; Manuel Santiago Portocarrero, 45; Jack Jimenez, 35; Oscar Augusto Gutierrez Garcia, 43; Pedro Alejandro Pinilla Castro, 32; Agustin Campos Pardo, 44; Carlos Alfonso Almanza Sanchez, 28; and Rodrigo Tercero Royet Arias, 38.

In February, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer set up a special prosecution unit to seek out what were called bandas criminales in Colombia or BACRIM.

The BACRIMs are narco-trafficking organizations that seek to fill the power void left by the fall of the Norte Valle Cartel and the dissolution of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, he said at the time.

In the separate but related anti-drug operation called Seven Trumpets, 34 defendants were charged in five separate
Santos and Ferrer
         Juan Manuel Santos                    Wifredo Ferrer

indictments for their participation in Colombian-based drug 
trafficking organizations that used airplanes to transport thousands of kilograms of cocaine from clandestine airstrips located in South America to clandestine airstrips in Central America, mostly Honduras. The indictment alleges that the United States was the ultimate destination for the cocaine loads.

According to the charges, the drug trafficking organizations used nominees to purchase U.S. registered planes. These nominees, in turn, submitted false documentation to the Federal Aviation Authority to hide the true identity of the purchasers who were members of the drug trafficking organization.

Charged in separate cases in Operation Seven Trumpets are Fernando Bertulucci Castillo, 49; Alvaro Suarez Granados, 53; Sammy Echtaya Rios, 44; Alvaro Suarez Montanez, 25; Marco Castillo Bertrad, 53; Miguel Antonio Monroy Ramirez, 61; Oscar Humberto Sierra Pastrana, 48; Oscar Guillermo Sierra Ferro, 20; John Finkelstein Winer, 57; John Fredy Ruiz Garzon, 33; Enrique Moreno Serrano, 65; Carlos Antonio Ortega Bonilla, 61; Luis Felipe Guerreron,58; Oscar Arbelaez Davila, 62; Norberto Castaneda Vargas, 45; Jose Hugo Salazar Buitrago, 55; Monica Liliana Franco Garcia, 37; Fabio Gracia Montes, 64; Jose Eduardo Suaza Vargas, 38; Alejandro Canal Duplat, 43; Cristina Eblin Guerra Moo, 54; Dorian Alejandro Menco Delgado, 33; Jorge Barragan Mejia, 55; Richard Alexander Dixon Figueroa, 41; Braulio Tarquino Blanco Davila, 34; Edgar Fernando Delgado Castro, 56; Jorge Enrique Arrauth Gonzalez, 51; Jaime Garcia Garcia, 61; Carmina Perdomo Barona, 54; Arturo Molano Rodriguez, 59; Jairo Alonso Reina Castillo, 60; Augusto Lozano Garcia, 43; Orlando Gomez Pinzon, 55; and Fernando Sandoval Vasquez, 58.

Meanwhile in Panamá law enforcement officials said Friday that 80 Panamanians and Colombians were detained in another anti-drug operation. The criminal organization was responsible for moving 18 tons of cocaine over two years mainly through the Caribbean.

The smuggling operation was linked to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, the anti-government rebels.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 177

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Threat of rising oceans
dominates Pacific meeting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pacific island leaders are pressing their appeal for international assistance to deal with rising waters.

The issue dominated the opening session Wednesday of the Pacific Island Forum in New Zealand. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and senior officials from the European Union, France, China, Indonesia, and the United States are guests at the summit, which comprises the leaders of Australia, New Zealand and 14 other Pacific nations.

Kiribati President Anote Tong told the forum his country has already had to relocate some residents whose homes were lost to rising sea waters. He said his country is considering such measures as the construction of enormous sea walls or even a floating island.

Ban, who visited Kiribati and the Solomon Islands ahead of the forum, has promised to put the issue at the forefront of the U.N. agenda.

There has also been discussion of the status of Fiji, which has been suspended from the forum because of its failure to hold promised elections after its military leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, staged a bloodless coup in 2006.

Australia and New Zealand staunchly defend the suspension and say the smaller countries are in agreement. But Tong told reporters that many of the island nations would like to see the ban lifted.

The forum concludes Friday, just hours before the opening of the Rugby World Cup tournament in New Zealand. Dignitaries attending the forum have been invited to stay for the four-yearly event.

Martelly hopes third time
will be a charm for him

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Haitian officials say President Michel Martelly has selected a recent top aide to former U.S. President Bill Clinton as his third nominee for prime minister.

They say Martelly chose Garry Conille for the post. Conille served as an aide to Mr. Clinton in his work as U.N. special envoy for Haiti.

President Martelly took office more than three months ago.  But Haiti's parliament refused to confirm his first two nominees for prime minister. 

The delay in filling the post has stalled earthquake reconstruction efforts. 

The earthquake in January 2010 killed more than 200,000 people.  Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in tent camps.

Yahoo fires its CEO,
and its stock prices rise

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Internet company Yahoo fired CEO Carol Bartz Tuesday.

In a memo sent to her staff Ms. Bartz said, “I am very sad to tell you that I've been fired over the phone by Yahoo's chairman of the board.”

Yahoo's stock price closed at $12.91 Tuesday. That is nearly 7 percent higher than when Ms. Bartz was hired as CEO in January 2009. In the same period Google's stock price has risen by 66 percent, to more than $200. Yahoo's stock price gained 6 percent in after-hours trading when news of Ms. Bartz's firing became public.

Ms. Bartz tenure as CEO was marked by a strained relationship with Chinese partner Alibaba. Investors were also disappointed by her failure to increase revenues at the company.

The company named its chief financial officer, Tim Morse, to replace Ms. Bartz on an interim basis.

Thousands flee wildfires
that are ravaging Texas

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Thousands of people are fleeing from wildfires that continue to burn out of control in the southern state of Texas.

Texas officials say 5,000 residents have been evacuated from the raging fires, which have already burned about 15,000 hectares of land and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

Two deaths — a 20-year-old mother and her child — are also being blamed on the fires.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry told media outlets early Tuesday that firefighters are battling more than 50 blazes across the state and that the fires were still not under control.

A persistent drought and high winds have helped fan the flames, spreading the damage over a wider area.  But forecasters said Tuesday that the winds should ease and hopefully make it easier for firefighters to get the fires under control.

Some Texas residents had hoped for some needed rain from Tropical Storm Lee which came ashore Sunday in the bordering state Louisiana.  But Lee has only helped to create more wind.

The state has deployed aircraft, including four heavy tanker planes, to combat the fires.   The worst blaze, near Austin, the state capital, stretches for more than 25 kilometers, nearly 16 miles.

Perry, who is seeking the Republican Party's presidential nomination, cut short a campaign visit to South Carolina Monday and returned home to oversee the fire-fighting efforts.  As he went before television cameras, the governor urged people in harm's way to listen to evacuation orders. 
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 177

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Central government seeks
more belt tightening

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla Tuesday signed a decree instructing the so-called autonomous and decentralized institutions to tighten their belts.

The measure is part of the central government's cost-cutting measures. Casa Presidencial noted that these institutions make up two thirds of the general budget. Some have declined to adhere to the president's prior call for austerity. Among those neglecting the request is the Asamblea Legislativa, although it is a separate government power and it still is not included under the current directive.

Among other points, the decree said that those agencies that can collect for services should do so and reduce their demand on the general budget.

The institutions also are asked to reduce expenses for travel, advertising, food, drink,

Entities that need equipment such as computers or vehicles should consider leasing them instead of making purchases, it said.

The decree also promotes central purchasing.

Airport fees going up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's price regulating agency has increased fees for airport services from 8.82 to 9.59 percent for commercial jets, it announced Tuesday.

The decision covers Juan Santamaría, Tobias Bolaños in Pavas, the airport in Limón and Daniel Oduber in Liberia.

The rates are based on the tonnage of the aircraft, and commercial jets pay a premium.

The agency, the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos noted that it rejected a 33 percent increase proposed by the Consejo Ténico de Aviación Civil.

The Authoridad said that the new rates position airports here well compared to those elsewhere. The fees are supposed to be for parking the aircraft and for the use of runways and ramps.

Book swap planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Club de Libros is planning a book swap Thursday and Friday at the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano in Los Yoses.

The event is from 4 to 6 p.m. And the books are supposed to be in English.

The swap will be in the Mark Twain library of the cultural institute. All books except textbooks can be exchanged, the organization said.

The Club de Libros promotes reading and the bulk of its activity is in the Spanish language.

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