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(506) 223-1327        Published Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 181       E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Louisiana seeks to enforce its laws outside the state
Latest Internet gaming case will be a unique one

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The prosecution of Peter Dicks, the Sportingbet PLC executive arrested between flights in New York, will be one for the record books.

The State of Louisiana court issued the arrest warrant although it appears that Dicks has never been in that U.S. state.

He is being charged under a 1997 Louisiana law that appears to have been designed to protect the state's riverboat gambling business.

The Louisiana law forbids most types of Internet gambling. Placing a bet is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail. However, someone like Dicks who manages a gambling site is subject to a fine of up to $20,000 and up to five years in prison, perhaps at hard labor, according to the law.

The only trouble is that Sportingbet operations are in Costa Rica and other foreign countries. The British company has no presence in Louisiana except that its Internet pages are available there.

Dicks is free in New York on $50,000 bail after a hearing in the state's Supreme Court, which is a trial court. He is scheduled for another hearing Thursday to consider his transfer to Louisiana, according to his company.

"Neither Mr. Dicks nor the Sportingbet Group has  ever received any previous correspondence from any authority within the State of Louisiana regarding this or any other related matter," said the company.  "The board believes that Mr. Dicks intends to vigorously contest this request."

In its description of the law, the State of Louisiana
says: "The legislature further recognizes that it has an obligation and responsibility to protect its citizens, and in particular its youngest citizens, from the pervasive nature of gambling which can occur via the Internet and the use of computers connected to the Internet."

Dicks' case is different from that of David Carruthers, the BetonSports executive arrested in July in Texas. Carruthers is facing federal charges that include money laundering. His case is shaky, too, because the U.S. Congress has never prohibited specifically Internet gambling.

However, Carruthers has been an outspoken advocate of Internet gambling and some of his publicity stunts (like putting a mobile home rigged to take bets in the parking lot of the Tampa professional football team) have tweaked a lot of noses.

Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, and Illinois are states featuring large-scale legalized gambling revenue that is placed at risk by allowing new forms of gambling to emerge from the Internet, and these states have recently banned (or introduced legislation banning) Internet gambling explicitly, according to I. Nelson Rose, a professor of Law, Whittier Law School, who published a 1999 treatment of Internet gaming laws.

The professor asks the key question: "But how does one enforce these state laws on the World Wide Web, particularly when dealing with Web sites based out-of-state, or even outside American borders?"

Ironically, the issue may be decided in the New York court system instead of that of Louisiana when a New York judge decides if Dicks will be put into custody and sent to Louisiana.

Agents confiscate thousands of counterfeit CDs in Heredia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Vendors struggled with police in Heredia Monday when officers began to confiscate some 4,500 counterfeit compact disks.

Agents of the Sección de Propiedad Intelectual and the Policia Municipal in Heredia also stopped a car in which they found what they said was more
illegal material. Some vendors simply abandoned their wares and fled, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. Others fought with officers.

Officers said they had received complaints about the pirated merchandise. Some recording companies are vigorous in enforcing their copyrights.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 181

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Pick your event to bash
the free trade treaty

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those opposed to the free trade treaty with the United States have several options on when they can vent their distaste. And visitors to the downtown have several days when they

should plan on traffic jams due to protests.

The next serious demonstration will be Friday when the so-called Festival Cultural Ecologista NO AL TLC takes place at the Plaza de la Democracia starting at noon. Elsewhere in the city Friday the Comisión Nacional de Enlace, an anti-free trade umbrella group, will be kicking off another protest that eventually will end up at the  Plaza de la Democracia.

Oct. 8 through 10 will see a  Seminario Alternativa Estudiantil, a series of teach-ins for some 130 student leaders representing some 100 educational institutions. The topic of discussion will be an alternative development model
other than the free trade treaty. This even will be free to students and sponsored by the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados at a location in Heredia.

October 23 and 24, conveniently a Monday and a Tuesday, have been designated as two days for a general strike by workers in the public sector. In addition to workers in all sectors of the economy, organizers are actively reaching out to gays and lesbians, according to promotional material.

Promoters said they want the general strike to cover the entire country from border to border and from coast to coast.

Meanwhile in the Asamblea Legislativa the Comisión Permanente Especial de Relaciones Internacionales y de Comercio Exterior continues to hear testimony on the treaty. Although President Óscar Arias Sánchez says he hopes to see a final vote on the treaty in December, lawmakers are discussing the document in detail.

Monday, Eugenio Trejos, president of the Consejo Institucional of the Instituto Tecnológico, appeared. He said Costa Rica would be at a disadvantage under the treaty and presented lawmakers with a copy of an analysis of the treaty made by the school. He said the document was no mere treaty but something that would affect the political, economic and social life of the country.

Families being relocated
after weekend flooding

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 40 families had to seek public shelters over the weekend when heavy rain and clogged sewer lines caused flooding.

The national emergency commission said that one of the hardest hit areas was Santo Domingo de Heredia on Calle San Pedro de Quízarco where nine homes were flooded when a nearby tributary flowed over its banks. In another location officials had to close a road because of a danger presented by trees.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y  Atención de Emergencias said that in an area between Tibás and Moravia some 20 families had to be moved to a local shelter. There also was flooding in  Goicoechea, as well as in  Curridabat, in the Tirrases section.

In  Río Azul some 15 families were relocated because they continued to live in an area deemed dangerious last year, said the commission.

Two suspected robbers
detained after chase

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men who are suspected of planning a stickup of the Banco Popular near the Hospital Carit in San Jose's south side are detained today after police launched road blockades, a motor chase and a foot race.

The men were seen in Pavas near the U.S. Embassy but then led Fuerza Pública officers on a chase until they had to abandon their vehicle and flee on foot. But police caught two suspects.

There were identified by the last names of Rodríguez Gutiérrez and Santamaría Del Río.

Fishing boat and crew
held since June let go

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ecuadorian authorities have set free the Costa Rican fishing boat Hipocampo III, its captain and its three crew members, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

The boat was believed to have left Puerto Seymour and Ecuadorian waters before noon on a route to Puntarenas. The men had been held since June.

The boat had been detained while fishing in waters of the  Parque Nacional Galápagos, said officials there. The boat owner said that the vessel had suffered damage and had been carried into the park waters by the current.

Stagno headed to Cuba

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Bruno Stagno, Costa Rica's foreign minister, is traveling to  Cuba today at the meeting of the Summit of Non-Aligned Nations.

This is the summit where Fidel Castro may or may not appear, depending on his recovery from surgery. Cuban officials have issued contradictory statements.

Orchid sale planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Women who grow orchids in Grecia will have a fair Sept. 29 and 30 at the  Plaza Rofas at Hospital San Juan de Dios from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days.

They will be offering distinct varieties of orchids at reasonable prices. This is a program sponsored by the Misión Técnica de Taiwán.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 181

U.S. Marines present the colors before the small crowd that attended the Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony Monday.

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas

U.S. Embassy keeps Sept. 11 ceremony as private affair
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The fifth anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States was a private affair here.

The U.S. Embassy restricted access to the ceremony in a public park to those who had been invited, an embassy spokesperson said. Among those not on the invitation list was Jo Stuart, an A.M. Costa Rica columnist, who was turned away.

The embassy spokesperson, Evelyn Ardón, said that embassy officials decided to bar the public because they wanted a solemn ceremony. Previous Sept. 11 remembrance ceremonies were open to everyone. They were solemn.

It was Ms. Ardón who sent out a notice of the event uncharacteristically late on Friday. There was no mention of restrictions in the invitation. However, she said Monday that the e-mailed press release outlining the ceremony was an invitation to newspeople and not the general public. Ms. Stuart said she identified herself as a columnist. Ms. Ardón said she did not.

A.M. Costa Rica published a news story about the ceremony
in the Monday morning edition. An A.M. Costa Rica photographer had no trouble attending the ceremony. But it is unknown how many other persons were turned away. The white-haired Ms. Stuart said she walked 10 blocks to attend the event and told embassy workers that she had done so.  She was attending as a private citizen and not on assignment.

Many of the invited were members of the Camara Costarricense Norteamericana de Comercio, the binational chamber of commerce. Others were students from the adjacent Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano, a handful of firemen and members of the reserve of the Fuerza Pública. About 100 persons attended, according to a estimate by the photographer.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had a similar private ceremony in Washington. The remembrance event was in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the U.S. Department of State.

In a speech at the Sabana Norte event, Mark Langdale, the U.S. ambassador, said that Latin countries that have turned towards athoritarianism or popular dictatorships have suffered, according to his prepared text.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez appears to be having fun as he greets youngsters at the Escuela José Figueres Ferrer in Sabanilla de Montes de Oca.

Casa Presidencial photo

Terrorism is just one of the threats to peace, Arias says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There are a lot of other threats to peace beside terrorism, President Óscar Arias Sánchez said Monday as he reflected of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

While George Bush was saying in the United States that terrorism would be the issue that will define the century, Arias also listed illiteracy, and poverty as threats to peace.

"It is certain that terrorism is a threat to humanity, a cowardly enemy for humanity, but it is not the only threat for the peace of the world," said Arias. He listed illiteracy, poverty inequality, degradation of the environment, diseases as other threats as serious for the peace as terrorism.

Arias also said that he wished the United States had
 dedicated the same effort and the same money to combat the great ills that afflict the world.

The president was at the Escuela José Figueres Ferrer in Sabanilla de Montes de Oca where he was marking the opening of the civic week that includes the Día de Independencia Friday.

Sept. 25 also happens to be the 100th birthday of José Figueres Ferrer, the victor in the 1948 civil war and the framer of the modern Costa Rican state of rights.

In his formal talk Arias told the youngsters that it was Figueres, Don Pepe, who abolished the military and invested the savings into education. He urged them to work to make the world better so that other youngsters would have the benefit of peace.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 12, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 181

Debate continues over balance needed to fight terrorism
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Five years ago, the United States was struck by the most devastating terrorist attack in its history. Subsequent investigations indicated that al-Qaida — a radical Islamic group led by Osama bin Laden — was responsible for the terrorist assaults that killed almost 3,000 people. As a response, the Bush administration instituted changes.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States prompted the Bush administration to launch its global "war on terror." Five years later, that struggle continues, and experts believe it will for a very long time.

The Sept. 11 attacks brought changes to the American national scene. Airport security has been tightened. Tougher immigration procedures have been put in place. More than 20 agencies have combined to form the new Department of Homeland Security, and intelligence services have been restructured.

In addition, new laws have increased domestic enforcement powers. In a speech Thursday in Atlanta, President George Bush defended his decision to allow the National Security Agency or NSA to conduct electronic surveillance operations in the United States without warrants.

"At my direction, the National Security Agency created the Terrorist Surveillance Program," he said. "Before 9/11, our intelligence professionals found it difficult to monitor international communications, such as those between al-Qaida operatives secretly in the United States and planners of the 9/11 attacks.

"The Terrorist Surveillance Program helps protect Americans by allowing us to track terrorist communications, so we can learn about threats like the 9/11 plot, before it is too late."

A federal judge last month declared the NSA's actions illegal and unconstitutional — a ruling the Bush administration is appealing.

Civil libertarians have criticized the NSA program and other measures — such as parts of the counterterrorism Patriot Act — as being too intrusive. But the Bush administration says those measures are needed to fight terrorism.

Danielle Pletka from the American Enterprise Institute, says she would like to see stricter measures.

"I would like to see a far more intelligent means of scrutiny
at airports. I would like to see the visa system for students change significantly, and no longer be in the hands of universities to make decisions about whether to issue visas or not, as it currently is," she said. "I would like to see fundraising for terrorists made extraordinarily more difficult. It is really, really easy to raise money for a terrorist organization and send it overseas."

Experts say it is a very delicate balance to protect a nation from terrorism, while at the same time safeguarding essential democratic freedoms.

"We have to be very wary of how we maintain a free and open democratic society, and, at the same time, call upon the government to protect us, and to save us from this kind of violence that is being directed towards us," former Defense secretary William Cohen said. "Should we have the government in possession of data that is all encompassing and all inclusive about each and every one of us? Is that something that leads us more and more to a sort of 1984 Orwellian nightmare, where we have the government watching each and every one of us — where is the limit?

"So, those are the kinds of issues that civil libertarians are correct in raising, and we ought to have a healthy debate about it, but be very conscious of the fact that the more we see attacks coming at us, the greater the demand will be for more security and less liberty."

Brian Jenkins is a leading expert on terrorism, working for the RAND Corp. He says many western nations, such as Italy, Germany and Britain, have increased domestic surveillance programs to fight terrorism, while remaining democratic countries. Jenkins says they did so by working within the laws and rules governing democracies.

"It is when we operate outside of the rules, when there are assertions of unlimited authority, as a result of the president's war-making powers under the Constitution," he noted; "it is when we begin to collect intelligence outside of the judicial processes that have been established to govern that; it is when we begin to detain people outside of some reasonable judicial process, or at least fair process; it is when we begin to treat prisoners outside of the rules that have been established, not only internationally, but within our own code of dealing with those in our custody, that we run into trouble."

Jenkins says as long as there is an open and healthy debate within any democratic society about what measures are needed to protect against terrorism, that democracy will continue to flourish.

Migration viewed as positive force for stablity, development
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The International Organization for Migration is calling for action to dramatically improve the positive effects of migration on development.  The call goes out to countries attending a U.N. dialogue on migration and development Thursday and Friday in New York.

Migration tops the political, economic and social agendas of many countries around the world.

Migrants are often painted in a negative light, depicted as criminals and a drain on society. An increasing number of countries are closing their doors to migrants, many of whom then become vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation, and abuse.

The International Organization for Migration says human migration can be a very positive phenomenon and a potent force for development for all countries and economies.

Brunson McKinley is the director general of the International Organization for Migration. He notes that rich countries are contending with aging populations and declining birth rates. This means they will be more dependent upon people from outside to fill labor needs.

"If you match the supply and the demand effectively and if you create good procedures for regularizing this flow of workers, I think you can have a win-win situation," said McKinley. "That is being done in different parts of the world. But, it is not yet a general phenomenon. In many places that the economic realities are not matched by
changes in legislation and practice so that people can come in easily and this leads to large-scale irregular flows, clandestine flows. It makes a market for traffickers and smugglers."

The International Organization for Migration says managed economic migration can boost the development prospects of poor countries. Statistics support this view. Last year, the world's 190 million migrants sent $160 billion to developing countries. This is larger than official development assistance.

The U.N. agency says policies should be put in place to encourage migrants to invest some of their hard earned savings into ventures that will further economic growth and development of their home countries and communities.

McKinley said an International Migration and Development Initiative will be proposed this week at the New York meeting. An element of this proposal is to create a data base that would help match the needs of countries with the availability of foreign workers.

"It is possible for the interested parties to know this year, next year, five years from now, 10 years from now, where are the vacancies going to be, where are the gaps going to be in a particular nation's job market which could be filled by people from overseas," he added.

McKinley said it is not possible to stop people moving around the world in search of better opportunities. So, the best thing for governments to do, he says, is to regulate migration for the benefit of all.

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