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(506) 2223-1327        Published Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 179       E-mail us
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Russian navy will play in U.S. pond with Chávez
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Atlantic and the Caribbean will become the stage for a new chapter in the resumed cold war as the Russian navy moves in this November.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said Sunday on his weekly television show that his navy would hold joint exercises with the Russian ships through early December, according to the Russian news and Information Agency, Novosti.

Leading the Russian fleet will be the missile cruiser Peter the Great, the flagship of the Russian Northern Fleet headquarters at Severomorsk. Also in the task force will be a destroyer, a fuel tanker, and some vessels with anti-submarine aircraft, according to Andrei Nesterenk, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry.

The Peter the Great is nuclear powered and made headlines in 2004 when Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, head of the northern fleet, said the boat was in an extremely bad condition and can explode at any moment, according to a Pravda article then. Later the admiral said that he had just meant that the ship compartments needed some repair work, Pravda reported.

The missile cruiser is one of the largest warships afloat at 26,000 tons. It was in the news in 2000 as the training target of the Russian submarine Kursk during war games in the north Atlantic. After firing a mock torpedo at the cruiser, the Kursk suffered two internal explosions and sunk with 118 crewmen and visitors aboard.

Russians blamed the explosions in the submarine on a collision with a U.S. sub that was spying on the war games.

Nesterenk said the visit to the Caribbean was planned long before the outbreak of the Georgian conflict and is not directed against any country.

Russian authorities have accused the United States of rearming Georgia while using military vessels to deliver humanitarian aid to the Caucasus country. U.S. officials have denied the charge.
Peter the Great firing
Pavel Smertin/Kommersant
Missile flies from the cruiser Peter the Great in this 2004 file photo

Chávez, a harsh critic of the U.S. government, has forged closer ties with Moscow, including arms purchases and other economic deals.

Novosti said that a number of Venezuelan missile frigates, patrol boats, submarines and aircraft would take part in the joint drills Nov. 10 to 14.

Chávez dismissed criticism of the joint exercise with Russia by comparing it with the Southern Cross naval war games involving the Dutch, French and Brazilian navies, which are scheduled for Nov. 2 to 14, Novosti said, adding:

In 2005-2006, Venezuela bought more than 50 combat helicopters, 24 Su-30MK2 fighters, 12 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems and 100,000 AK-103 rifles from Russia. Current arms contracts are worth about $4 billion, according to various sources.

Future deliveries may include Amur-class diesel submarines, Il-76MD military transport planes, Il-78 aerial tankers and air-defense missile systems.

The United States this year reactivated the World War II designation of Fourth Fleet for its ships in the Southern Hemisphere. Although the Pentagon claimed the action was simply a change in name and that no new ships would be added, some leaders, including Chávez, saw the announcement as intimidation.  U.S. task forces frequently visit Latin nationals and participate in joint naval exercises.


Drug resistant bacteria just can't handle a dose of marijuana
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This may be news to smokers of funny cigarettes. The ingredients in marijuana show promise in battling superbugs.

According to a new study to be reported in the Journal of Natural Products, scientists in Italy and the United Kingdom say that scientists have known for years that marijuana contains antibacterial substances. However, little research has been done on those ingredients, including studies on their
ability to fight antibiotic resistant infections, the scientists say. Researchers tested five major marijuana ingredients, termed cannabinoids, on different strains of resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a superbug increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

At least two of the substances have no known mood-altering effects. This suggests that they could be developed into marijuana-based drugs, said the scientists from the Università del Piemonte Orientale, the Centro di Ricerca per le Colture Industriali, and the University of London.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 179

Costa Rica Expertise
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Mother Nature continues
to serve up surprises


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weather may not be getting strong influences from Hurricane Ike that is just south of Cuba, but strange things are happening in Costa Rica.

A second day of ominous black clouds generated two strong windstorms south of San José Monday afternoon. Trees were down in Sabana Oeste, including the Parque La Sabana where an aging tree collapsed about 1:30 p.m. over the Autopista Próspero Fernández. All four lanes were closed until workmen could chop up the tree.

Workers from the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz and the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad were involved with firemen to clear the route.  In a nearby parking lot, another tree inflicted heavy damage on parked vehicles when it fell.

Hatillo, as is usually the case, got another dose of strong winds and a home and a store lost part of the roofs.

Weather forecasters say Hurricane Ike will remain a concern as it moves west into the Gulf of Mexico, where it may regain strength over warm waters.  The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm is on a similar path to Hurricane Gustav, which entered the Gulf of Mexico and struck the U.S. gulf coast one week ago.  Forecasters say Ike could reach the Texas coast by Saturday or Sunday. 

Despite the possible backhand from the hurricane, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that today would vary from cloudy to party-cloudy with warm temperatures and high humidity from the Pacific. This will lead to the likely downpours in the afternoon.

Our readers' opinions
Long-time expat gives warning

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Bringing hookers to your apartment is tempting but dangerous.

Buyer beware.  It is becoming more common to hear of American men being robbed and sometimes killed in their apartments here.  They all have the same MO.  They pick up girls and bring them home.  Not just one but many.  This, of course, increases the odds that the one they do bring home will have more ambitious plans than just earning money for sex.  Many of the working girls here are from Colombia, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.  These are all dangerous, violent, countries and they seem to be bringing their “rob the John” tactics to Costa Rica.

Tips to Americans with the same MO: 

Don’t bring strange women home. Get to know them first.  We have plenty of love motels in Costa Rica, they are inexpensive and the girl doesn’t see where you live and what you have. 

Ask the girl where she is from. Most will tell you they are from Colombia, Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic.  Be especially careful with these foreign women.  If you are planning to pick one up, don’t carry a lot of money and leave your credit cards at home.

Fun to visit, but be careful if you are planning to pick up women at the well-known hook-up bars and other bars where the women are anonymous.  If you do, however, don’t be afraid to ask to see her ID, write down her name and ID number.  Prostitution is legal here, if she is age 18 or over, and there is no reason why she wouldn’t give you her ID to look at. It is a business. They have to show their IDs when they go to hotels with a guy. This is how the hotels protect their clients. 

If she says she doesn’t have an ID, it is not a good idea to pick her up. She obviously wants to remain anonymous for some dark reason, or she is illegal, another reason not to mess with them. 

We have plenty of places where the girls and the rooms are in the same building.  You don’t have to take the girls somewhere else. The rooms are right there.  The managers of these places know the women and have copies of their IDs.

The women work on a regular basis, and if any funny business is reported by the customers, the managers won’t let the woman work there any more.  Also, coincidently, most of the women in these places are Costa Rican women who don’t have to worry about being threatened by the tough foreign girls at other bars which seem to be dominated by foreign women, many of whom are illegal here.

Be smart, be safe and have fun in Costa Rica.  We don’t need this kind of bad publicity in Costa Rica.  For the most part, the legal working girls here offer entertainment that is hard to come by legally at home, so enjoy, but be smart. Ideally, if you are living here, you should look into finding a steady girlfriend or wife, like many of us old timers who have been living here for years.
Edward Bridges
Desamparados
Speaker Forum clarification

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Thank you for your mention of the upcoming Speakers' Forum Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.

One clarification: It is the conclusion of the video by Aaron Russo ("America: Freedom to Fascism") that there is no law justifying the IRS taxing wages and salaries, based upon Russo interviewing some former IRS personnel, tax attorneys, etc, which interviews will be shown in the video.

It was not my conclusion, as was stated in your write-up. I am not an attorney, and I re-iterate my caveat: " CAUTION: Even so, you need expensive legal backup and money to win against the government."

I appreciate the publicity from A.M. Costa Rica and thank you for it. Contact me at samjcr@pobox.com. Further info about the forum event: 2289-6333 or 8821-4708.
Sam Butler
Escazú

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 179




A proud child beams over her custom-made farol, while a runner heads to Cartago from San José. The evening of Sept. 14 always is full of worthy photographic subjects.
independence night
A.M.Costa Rica file photos

Nation gears up for its 187th independence celebration
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Somewhere in Honduras a group of school children are running with the torch of independence held high. In a few miles they will pass the torch to another group. Eventually the torch will reach Costa Rica and then Cartago, the colonial capital, the night of Sept.14.

This is the annual relay that brings the torch from Guatemala City to all the former Spanish provinces. The torch actually makes better time than the news of independence did 187 years ago. Costa Rica was left out of the loop for months and learned about independence from Spain long after it had taken place with the overthrow of Spanish rule in México.

Monday, Sept. 15, is a legal holiday and additional celebrations will take place, mostly at Parque Nacional with speeches by dignitaries.

The evening meeting in Cartago almost always is right on
  time even though the runners come from a distance. The stop in San José for a ceremony earlier, and duplicates of the torches are carried to most major population centers where festivities are held. Crowds gather.

A unique feature of the evening are the faroles, replicas of 19th century street lanterns. Making an elaborate farol will keep many a student occupied in the next week. Typically they are hung on a staff. The idea is that the city fathers and other citizens gathered in the streets when the news of independence arrived illuminated by their personal lamps.

The torch relay has been going on since at least 1960 and it is a unifying force in Central America.

Employers have to give workers the day off Monday. If the employees work, they get a double salary.

Public and private buildings are draped in the national colors for the Día de la Independencia, and that noise every morning are school bands practicing for their parades.


Murder investigator does not see obvious connections in deaths of tourists
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators don't think the recent murders of two U.S. citizens are connected, said a director in the homicide division Monday.

Friday night four masked and armed men jumped the fence to Robert Salberg's Sabana Sur apartment and killed the 62-year-old. Wednesday night a visitor found the body of Thomas Edwin Hendrix Jr., 50, in his apartment building in Barrio Escalante in east San José.

The possibility of a connection has not been ruled out, but investigators say the cases have a number of differences. “It is clearly an option we cannot ignore, but to me it does not seem that the two are linked,” said Rolando Badilla Cascante, the subdirector of the Sección de Homicidios of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Badilla said it was too early to confirm anything but that in the case of Hendrix he suspects there was only one or two killers. Also Salberg was shot three times, and Hendrix was strangled.
Badilla said both investigations are going strong. The roommate and best friend of Salberg, Mark Meyers, said Sunday that neither police nor investigators had returned to question him since the night of the crime.

Badilla said that two investigators had been assigned to the case and had visited the apartment complex Monday before noon. He also said they had spoken with a family member in the United States.

Badilla said investigators would put a sort of profile together of the type of person Salberg was.

“They will find out where he frequented, if he liked to have parties in his home, the type of friends he had, what kind of company he liked,” said Badilla.

The homicide agent said it was too premature to say whether any friends or girlfriends could have been involved in the robbery but that the idea would be investigated.

Friends are planning a memorial service for Salberg, said Meyers, who added he would have more details in the coming days.


Ex-investigator who was a judge becomes a victim of murder in Puntarenas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A neighbor discovered the body of an ex-judicial investigator in Puntarenas Sunday morning.

The victim was Marvin Hernández Araya, 48, who later worked as a traffic judge, said a Judicial Investigating Organization spokeswoman. The aggressor stabbed Hernández numerous times in different parts of his body, said the spokeswoman.
The body of Hernández was found inside of his home in  San Isidro de Puntarenas, according to the Judicial Investigation Organization.

Investigators have not yet established a motive for the crime and are still waiting for autopsy results, according to the judicial organization.

Neighbors said they last saw Hernández the previous night, according to the organization.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 179



A reader essay
Releasing negative energy is a way to keep the lid on

By Mary C. Blizzard*
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

When we live in a small community, we are often reminded of the saying pueblo pequeno, fuego grande. It may be common within communities for small frictions to grow into large ones, but it's not inevitable. We would do well to ask ourselves: What we can do as individuals to keep from flaming small fires into large ones or better yet, to put the small fires out before they become grandiose? What can we do instead to create harmony, cooperation, and support in our community?

One significant cause of community friction is often words spoken hastily and without thought or perhaps after a bit too much to drink.  When those words are repeated, the story changes and grows into a larger fire. It is worth considering the options we each have when such words come our way, such as:

    • If you hear some negative news you have the option to not repeat it, to not expand and feed the negativity.

    • If you hear negative news about yourself you can recognize that you've been given an opportunity to forgive and forget.

When we focus on negative energy, we feed that negative energy. By letting go of the charge we have around something someone said or did, we shift the energy. In doing this we free our selves from the bad feeling that the energy carries with it.

It is our choice. Do we chose to focus on this negative message and make it in to a three-ring circus where more and more people will feel bad when they hear about it or do we chose to let the charge around it go, let it calm down and dissipate? When we chose not to
feed the negative energy, we begin to create a sense of well being around us. Instead of placing our focus on judging so-and-so who said this or did that, we can calm ourselves, detach and view the situation with compassion.

The Dali Lama has said "Compassion is the radicalism of our time."

We have the opportunity to change the focus of negative energy by asking ourselves: What can I do to help? What can I do to restore an all-around sense of well being? We can then act on those impulses. With this attitude everyone involved invites good feeling  instead of the emotional states brought on by stress, hurt, and anger. These negative feelings actually shut down the human immune system. Scientific studies have shown that it takes five hours to clear the chemicals released by the brain, a significant amount of time, to recover from just feeling angry. Emotional hangover can last hours, days, or months.

From the perspective of personal, physical, and emotional health, it is in the best interests of everyone to choose to forgive, forget and find positive solutions for creating a healthy community. Health is the most fundamental part of true wealth. Pura Vida


* This essay is from "The Peace Project," which members say seeks to create healthy communication. It was written in an attempt to give positive thinking tools to people who have moved to Costa Rica and find themselves in a community of very different types of personalities and backgrounds. The intention of "The Peace Project" is to provide gentle reminders and guidelines for healthy life experience. Mary Blizzard has a home on Lake Arenal in Guanacaste.



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 179


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A.M. Costa Rica

users guide
This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Statistics

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

Canada heads to elections
after parliament dissolved


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Sunday Canada's prime minister dissolved his country's parliament and called for general elections in mid-October.

The prime minister, Stephen Harper, a Conservative, called for elections Oct. 14. In doing so, he dissolved parliament, ending his two and a half year old minority government.

Canada follows the British parliamentary system, which means voters will only cast ballots for local members of parliament, or M.P.s. The party with the most elected M.P.s forms a government, and the party leader becomes prime minister. Heading into the elections, Harper's Conservatives had 127 members of parliament out of 308. That gave him a minority government.

The Liberal Party of Stephane Dion heads into the elections as the official opposition, with 95 previous M.P.s. The Bloc Quebecois party, which advocates the separation of mostly French speaking Quebec from the rest of Canada, and the more liberal New Democratic Party also had elected members in the last parliament.

After starting the election campaign, Harper told reporters that his government's record is the reason why he should be returned to office.

"Between now and October 14, Canadians will choose a government to look out for their interests in a time of global economic trouble," Harper said. "They will choose between clear direction or uncertainty, between common sense or risky experiments, between steadiness or recklessness. Canadians will choose between this government's proven record and clear direction, or an opposition whose increasing strident criticism attempts to mask unclear or risky agendas."

Liberal leader Dion says that the Conservative Party is not looking out for the long-term interests of Canadians

In recent public opinion surveys, the Conservative Party is a few percentage points ahead of the Liberals — but within the polling margin of error. And general public opinion surveys are inaccurate when trying to predict the outcome of a series of local elections.

The Bloc Quebecois, which is only active in Quebec, came third in last week's polls. The New Democratic Party placed fourth, with the Green Party, hoping to get it's first elected M.P. coming in fifth.

While no specific issues are dominating the political agenda, the environment, the economy and Canada's involvement in Afghanistan are all expected to be debated during the campaign, which will last a little more than a month.

This will be Canada's third general election in just over four years.


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