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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 182                          Email us
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Mar Vista


Rain does not dampen memory of terrorist attack
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Members from the Marine Corps League Costa Rica and others gathered Tuesday to mark the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But so did the clouds. Rains came 15 minutes before the 11 a.m. start, and the program was canceled.

Although the main event didn't happen, the area was filled with people with the same central theme on the mind: “We still remember.”

The gathering was at Parque 15 de setiembre, a small patch of land in Sabana Norte.

One person at the site recounted that she was living in Costa Rica on the infamous day 11 years ago, and even overseas the impact was what she described as horrible.

New York native and Marine Corps League adjutant Jerry Karl said he was living in New Jersey when the World Trade Center towers were hit.  His brother, who worked in New York City, was just able to take the last train back home, he said.

Recalling the day, Karl recounted statistics saying, “2,976 people lost their life at the world trade centers.  I think it is something shocking and unheard of.  Civilian people were hurt by extremists and it literally brought us into a 10-year war.”

He added that 55 persons lost their life at the Pentagon and all the passengers on flight 93 died when they crashed the plane into a Pennsylvania field to stop terrorists from flying into a target that was believed to be the White House.

“So we honor them today,” he said.

The results of Sept. 11 led to what is still an ongoing war, and those at the gathering Tuesday 
Marines
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
 Marines prepare for the ceremony before the
 memorial statue representing the twin towers.


sent out words to thank the troops who are  fighting.

“We have honored those who gave their lives in 9/11.  The war is not over.  We still have people in Afghanistan fighting and thousands of military men are still paying the price of this conflict.  Maybe some further date we can learn that we can all get along and live in a peaceful world,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. John Elkins.

The Costa Rican government sent out words of solidarity to the U. S. government.

“Costa Rica reiterates its repudiation and categorical condemnation of all forms and manifestations of terrorism and points out that such criminal acts must be condemned by the international community because of their destructive and perverse nature that victimizes the innocent civilian population,” the statement said.


Don't tell me the headline and story really said that!
By the A.M. Costa Rica editor

The wrong word in a news story and headline brought an avalanche of reader comments Tuesday.

A new story identified gluten-free food as glutton-free. Of course the meanings are not the same, a fact that dozens of readers drove home with sometimes humorous comments.

“I read the article on glutton-free food in today's issue thinking some bright individual discovered food that won't make you fat,” said one reader. That was not to be.

The article was about a local pioneer in gluten-free food that benefits persons with celiac disease.

“Where does one buy 'glutton-free products' (definition of glutton: an excessively greedy eater)
because when it comes to enjoyment of good food, count me as an offender,” said another.

One of the benefits of online publication is that such errors can be fixed easily, although not in the emailed daily digest.

One writer said newspaper management should fire the one who made the error. But that would mean there would be no newspaper management because the editor is ultimately responsible for everything that appears here. Of course, a coward could have blamed a spellchecker.

Note to advertisers: See how many people are reading this online newspaper closely each morning?

As to the alert readers, please keep your email comments coming. The news staff members are gluttons for punishment.

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Our readers' opinions
Retired expats can save
with bus and eating habits


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Established fact: Prices are rising on many goods in Costa Rica.

Established fact: Most expats here are retired.

Established fact: Leisure time for aforementioned is generally ample

Solution to offset rising prices:

  1.  Comparison shop

  2.  Change eating habits to include more fresh fruits and vegetables and chicken.

  3.  If concerned about high gas prices, take a bus.

Ann Boyd
Canoas de Alajuela


Lack of competition means
higher prices for consumers

Dear A.M. Costa Rica;

Here is the answer to Fran Walker´s question as to why food prices are high here in Costa Rica:

It is because there is very little competition. How many distributors of milk products are there in Costa Rica? Dos Pinos and Coronado, and Coronado happens to be owned by Dos Pinos. How many tuna fish producers? Really, just Sardinar. Almost all those other Costa Rican tuna labels are owned by that same company.

How many chicken and egg producers? Pipasa dominates the market. These are three examples of foods with prices that are usually higher than in the U.S. It's pretty well known  that in Costa Rica the same top 20 or 30 families that make the laws in the legislature also control most of the products in the economy. Example: Óscar Arias´s family used to own part of Pipasa.

The reason always given is that the population of the Costa Rica market is not big enough to support other competitors. But that is just an excuse. The big companies get favored treatment and develop and perpetuate monopolies because a lot of people at the top are getting rich off of all the common people.

Look at the rice subsidies. Instead of Costa Rican rice producers getting lean and mean and competing with rice imports, they cry to their buddies in the legislature who then impose tariffs on the foreign competition. So why learn how to compete when you are protected by your friends and family who make the laws?

Vicent Sarlento
San José

 
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!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary















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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
Radio Pacific Sur
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 182
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Torches, lanterns and parades to mark Día de Independencia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica celebrates its 191st anniversary of independence Friday and Saturday.

This is the annual celebration that is marked by relays of school children carrying torches and youngsters making elaborate versions of 19th century street lanterns called faroles.

Saturday, Sept. 15, is the holiday, but Friday evening activity will take place in San José, Cartago and many towns around the country.

The torch of independence is expected to reach Costa Rica from Guatemala early Thursday and come to San José and then to Cartago in the hands of runners.

Many adult Costa Ricans still reminisce about the time they carried the torch years ago.

President Laura Chinchilla and her ministers will await the torch in Cartago. Months ago she promised to travel to the community by train, and it appears that the right of way will be in shape to handle the journey. Several crews are working on the tracks this week to allow that to happen.

The torch will have a brief stopover in San José for a 6 p.m. ceremony.

Saturday is a legal holiday, and workers who normally are on the job that day of the week are off with pay unless they choose to work. If so, they receive double time. The normal work week in Costa Rica includes Saturday.

The U.S. Embassy reported Tuesday that it would be closed Friday. Public school children will be off Monday. Many will march in parades Friday evening and Saturday.
faroles
A.M. Costa Rica/Casa Presidencial file photo
These are some of the modern street lanterns or faroles that children and/or their parents make for display at school and at Sept. 14 events.

Although some historians are seeking to move independence day to Oct. 29, that idea has not met with public favor. The historians argue that Costa Ricans did not learn about the freedom from Spanish rule until weeks after the Captaincy-general of Guatemala proclaimed its independence from Spain. That was Sept. 15, 1821.

The faroles or street lanterns are generated by the idea that Costa Rican citizens came into the streets when independence was announced and discussed the event at night under the glow of artificial light. Some of the faroles are elaborate and far different than what would have been used in 1921. Those in use today include some that are models of the Catedral Metropolitana and major public buildings.

One tradition that is followed all over the country is that citizens and even expats go to the curb at 6 p.m. on the night of Sept. 14 to sing the national anthem.


Local group promoting petition against Gulfo Dulce project
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A group in Puerto Jiménez started circulating a petition three weeks ago to stop U. S. company Crocodile Bay from building a marina and villas in Golfo Dulce, an area that has so far remained free of heavy developments.

The group calls itself the Comision Ambiental Asociacion de Dasarrollo.

Although the petition is less than a month old, the battle with Crocodile Bay is one that has been going on for around five years, the members said.

“It's been a very long fight,” said Luis Daniel Montero.

Crocodile Bay Resort and Marina first came to Costa Rica in 1999 with a sports fishing hotel.  It was at that time 13 years ago, that this local group formed and members have opposed the company ever since, said Cory Williams, owner.

He adds that the local development commission as well as the town of Puerto Jiménez fully support the new property. The people opposing are from an outside town and have a personal issue against his buildings, he said.

The new installation will sit on 44 acres and include 80 villas that range from one to three bedrooms with from 1,000 to 2,300 square feet, a 100-slip full service marina and a 74-room hotel.  It is projected to bring between 800 and 1,200 jobs to the area, said Williams.

These jobs are ones that the environmental group say come with a high price, harm to the environment. 

"Something is needed here but not something that will benefit some group so small and a just group of investors.  They do create jobs, but it has to be something for everyone including the animals," said Montero.

The group reported that there would be 300 boats and a four-story mega resort on the waters.  According to Williams, this is false.  The marina will only hold 100 boats, and the hotel will be a two-story building that is a part of the marina, he said.

The villas will be housed separately on a private property, he said.

"They are really not informed and not correct," said Williams.

The marina will consist of a completely floating wavebreak and dock system, and the hotel will be on the waterfront with a spa and wellness center, yacht club, dining and shopping, said the firm's Web site.

"It will be the only marina in Costa Rica to use 100 percent floating breakwaters.  Basically the device contains large concrete blocks that are visually appealing and allow marina life to circulate," said Williams.

The environmental association group claims that the new development would not be sustainable in the area, would disturb the ecosystem balance and would potentially harm the well being of sea creatures such as turtles, whales and dolphins.

“Humpbacks whales come here all the time from the Southern region.  Just two weeks ago 26 humpback whales were seen inside the small gulf.  We have to start to think, is it going to be good for the whales having yachts in the water or more people around wanting tours,” said Daniel.

So far 3,976 agree with the association as indicated by the digital petition through avaaz.org, a site for community petitions.  The association put it in Spanish, English, German and Italian in hopes of reaching an international audience, members said.
Crocodile Bay
A.M. Costa Rica grphic
Red dot shows location of proposed project.

Williams said a lot of support comes from persons outside of the area and Costa Rica.

"Looking at the Web site, I'd sign this petition because what they say is very scary.  But it is not true," said Williams.

He adds that they recognize the importance of biodiversity in the area and the marina will be one of the greenest marinas in Costa Rica.  This was something the company worked with the non-profit Mar Vista to ensure, he said, adding that the project also will have services such as public fueling and public waste water treatments.

"We will have the first and only water treatment plant to treat grey and black waters from the boats," said Williams.

Still the association is not buying it.

“They go to the Web site and say it will be sustainable, it will be a green marina, it will improve the environment.  The studies they give looks like it was done by a first grade student.  Its just stupid,” said Montero.

The environmental association group has used different medias to make their case from Facebook pages to YouTube videos.  One video gives the expertise of Austrian marine scientists Jörg Ott. He emphasized the importance of the mangrove.

“The only mangrove stand in the southern part of the Osa Peninsula is that in the area of Puerto Jiménez,” he said in the video. “ This mangrove stand contains all species of mangroves in the area.  It is very well developed along the mouth of the river and next to the diversity of mangrove trees it also supports extreme, well developed animal life.  For example, it contains populations of the American crocodile and the local cayman and also a fantastic array of bird and reptile species.  With this respect, any disturbance to the mangrove areas in the river mouth would be a disastrous thing.”

However, the video has only received two views so far. 

The association doesn't know for certain that the petition will change anything, and Williams says he doubt that it will.  However, these members still hold hope that they can stop the development.

“Not very sure what we can do, but we want to let all the people of the community know what is a marina and the effects.  The town makes the decision,” Montero said.

The target number of signatures is 5,000 before Sept. 22.  That is when the association said it will present the petition during an open meeting in a community meeting hall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More information about the petition can be read on this Web site.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 182
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Another big Nicoya earthquake is possible experts report
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Earthquake experts came out with a troubling report Tuesday. The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica said that 7.6 quake last week was expected but that another quake at the same or greater magnitude is likely.

The Observatorio estimated that the fault which generated the quake has expended 50 percent of its energy but that the joint only slipped 1.85 meters of a possible 4 meters. That is about 6 feet of a possible 13.

The Observatorio, which is affiliated with Universidad Nacional, quoted quake expert Marino Protti saying that there are three ways the remaining energy might be released. He cited aftershocks, of which there have been many. He also noted that the fault could slip without generating a quake, according to the Observatorio. The third possibility is another big quake.

The Observatorio and Protti have been trying to alert residents in the Nicoya peninsula for 15 years to the possibility of a major quake. The last big one was in 1950. The quakes are generated by the subduction of the Coco tectonic plate under the lighter Caribbean plate on which much of Costa Rica rides.

The Observatorio and other agencies have many sensors in the area that can keep track of energy liberated in the coming years.

The Observatorio said that experts are keeping track of deformations of the land due to the quake. They have determined that Playa San Juanillo rose 60 centimeters, about two feet, and that the area around Juan Díaz rose 40
centimeters (16 inches). On the east side of the peninsula and along the Río Tempisque, the land sank about 5 to 10 centimeters, perhaps 2 to 4 inches.

The faults continued to release energy Tuesday and early today with aftershocks. There was

A quake at 29 minutes after midnight today took place 48 kilometers southwest of the tip of the Nicoya peninsula. The magnitude was estimated at 4.8 and 5.2. An earlier quake in about the same location offshore took place at 10:10 p.m. Tuesday. The magnitude was 4.2.

Meanwhile, Nosara was the location of two quakes, also in the 4-point range. The first was a 8:14 p.m. and was estimated at 4.2 magnitude. Then four minutes later a 4.8 magnitude quake took place at about the same location, about 3.5 kilometers south and east of the community, according to estimates of the epicenter by the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

There have been more than 1,000 aftershocks, mostly in the 2  to 3 magnitude range. The strongest have been estimated at 5.6 and 5.8.

Meanwhile repair work continues in the country by individuals and government agencies. The highway agency opened a route between Zarcero and Ciudad Quesada Tuesday where a landslide had blocked the road. But then the road was closed due to high winds in the afternoon, the agency said in an announcement. More rocks were dislodged and fell to the highway, it said.


Unmanned craft takes a look at weather system in Atlantic
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The unmanned Global Hawk aircraft checked out a tropical depression in the Atlantic Tuesday morning, said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

This is a new way to keep track on storms. The depression turned into Tropical Storm Nadine later in the day, but the estimated track of the storm keeps it well away from Costa Rica. Like many Atlantic storms Nadine appears to be taking a north and east track and curving away from the Caribbean. It carries 40-mph winds.

The space agency said that the unmanned craft also overflew Hurricane Leslie in the mid-Atlantic. This is the first time that the agency is flying Global Hawks from the U.S. East Coast.

The advantage of an unmanned craft are clear when the agency notes that the flight Tuesday morning was 26 hours.
tropical depression
NASA GOES Project photo
 The depression that was to become Nadine was
 photographed at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday Costa Rican time.


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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 182
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Two House panels say
air security is outdated


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States, two Homeland Security subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives held hearings Tuesday to gauge the progress in keeping terrorists out of the United States. One of the panels criticized the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, for inconveniencing airline passengers with unpopular screening procedures that might not address current threats.

The Transportation Security Subcommittee issued a report that concludes the Transportation Security Administration has been too reactive, imposing screening procedures that respond to past terrorist plots and not doing enough to anticipate future threats.  Some of the procedures the agency has implemented since 2001, including pat-downs of passengers and the introduction of screening machines that produce detailed images of travelers' bodies, have outraged some airline passengers and are seen as a nuisance by others.

Geoff Freeman, the chief operating officer of the U.S. Travel Association, a trade organization, testified at the hearing.  He said the Transportation Security Administration needs to focus on more risk management and be more sensitive so as not to drive away airline customers.

"A 2010 survey found that travelers would take two to three more flights per year, if the hassles in security screening were reduced," Freeman said.

The subcommittee report says the Transportation Security Administration has not adequately explained why it is using invasive screening procedures and that it would help if Americans understood what threats are being addressed.  The report criticizes the fact that the agency's workforce continues to grow as airline passenger traffic in the United States is declining.

At another Homeland Security subcommittee, Chairwoman Candace Miller said progress has been made in the process of issuing visas and security screening.  But she said there is more work to be done, referring to the foiled airliner bombing attack in Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009.


Mob upset about film
burns down U.S. offices


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. national was killed and another wounded Tuesday in Libya as a group of militants attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, during a protest against a film they say offends Islam.

An angry mob gathered outside the consulate and set fire to the building.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the attack and said that the government is working with Libyans to secure the compound.  A statement said the U.S. condemns "in strongest terms this attack on our diplomatic mission." 

Anti-U.S. demonstrations against the film were also held outside the U.S. embassy in Egypt's capital, Cairo.  Protesters in both countries say the U.S.-made film is offensive to Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Media reports say the film about the prophet was financed by expatriate members of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority group.


México receives big loan
for Maya tourism project


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter-American Investment Corp. has approved a loan of up to 100 million pesos to Promotora de Cultura Yaxché S.A. de C.V. for development of the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. The amount is about $7.7 million.

The proceeds of the loan, in local currency, will be used to co-finance and outfit the museum and to design and mount the exhibits. The proceeds will also be used for the museum’s upkeep, security, and operation. Once completed, the museum’s indoor space will be equivalent to two soccer fields.

The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya is a project promoted by the government of the state of Yucatán and will form part of the tourism corridor stretching from Cancún to Mérida. The operation will generate employment for some 3,100 people during the construction phase and create another 300 jobs for the museum’s operation.


U.N. expert asks Venezuela
to reconsider withdrawal

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A United Nations senior official Tuesday urged Venezuela to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the American Convention of Human Rights, warning that doing so would represent a serious setback for human rights protection in the Latin American country and the region as a whole.

“I fear that a vital layer of human rights protection for Venezuelans – and potentially for other Latin Americans as well – will be stripped away if this decision is carried out, and they will be left far more vulnerable to abuses with fewer remedies available,” said the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay. “I therefore urge Venezuela to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the American Convention on Human Rights.”

According to a news release from the Organization of American States Monday, the Venezuelan Government  through an official letter denounced the Convention.

The American Convention on Human Rights – also known as the Pact of San José – was adopted by many American countries in the Costa Rican capital of San José in 1969, and came into force in 1978.


Moody's issues warning
on U.S. credit debt, rating

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Moody's Investor Services says it may downgrade the U.S. credit rating unless Congress reaches a deal to cut U.S. debt next year.

Rival Standard & Poor's cut Washington's credit rating a year ago following hyper-partisan wrangling that pushed the United States to the brink of default on its loans.

Moody's and other agencies are watching closely as Democrats and Republicans in Congress face deadlines on $1.2 trillion in tax and spending issues.

The two sides are bickering over whether or not to continue tax cuts for the wealthy.  They must also contend with a law that forces them to reach a tax and spending deal or see massive cuts to military spending favored by Republicans and drastic funding reductions for domestic programs supported by Democrats.

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Latin America news
New Guanacaste group
is for military veterans

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Guanacaste Veterans’ Association has been formed and is looking for men and women who have served in any U.S. branch of military service to join its ranks.  

To celebrate the founding, the organization will have a cookout with free food, discounted drinks, and use of the swimming pool potential members, family and guests Saturday.

The cookout will be held at the Papagaya Golf and Country Club, in Sardinal, near Playa del Coco, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

Topics will include a discussion of veteran’s benefits, the mission of the association, and planning for future events, said an announcement. 

“Join us for camaraderie, fellowship, and a chance to offer services to our adopted country of Costa Rica,” said the organization in a release.

The organization asked that those who plan to attend make that fact known by calling Karen and Quinn Slack at 8938-3251or 8708-1325 or by emailing slack.karen@yahoo.com  or Dave Reynolds at lodgepole46@yahoo.com


Time to go fly a kite
during a windy week

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weather forecast for today again calls for high winds with gusts as much as 70 kph, about 44 mph.

The highest winds are expected to be in the northern zone, said the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

The country has seen higher than average winds for the last two days, and this condition is expected to last through the week, said the weather forecast.

However, the Central Valley, the Northern Zone and Guanacaste also are expected to see intermittent rain as well as refreshing wind with partial to cloudy skies.


Micro-lending program set
for Guanacaste community

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Seth Derish, president of the Costa Rica School Project, Inc., has announced the formation of a small non-profit loan program to service the rural community of Zaragoza de Nicoya, Guanacaste. The initial capitalization of this project will be $10,000, which will provide up to 20 low-interest loans with maximum terms of 24 months and $500 each, he said.

The program has already received over 20 applications from residents, who are seeking funds for the improvement of their coffee farms, purchase of more livestock, and some new projects such as a home sewing operation, Derish said. All applications will be reviewed by a three-person loan committee comprised of Zaragoza community members with final approval made by the Costa Rica School Project management, he said.

Derish said the program is modeled on the successful Grameen Bank, run by Muhammad Yunus, which began in Bangladesh in 1976 with $27 and later grew to serve over seven million families with loans over $6 billion.

Derish said the program, called The Costa Rica Micro Lending Facility, will accept funds from readers. More information is available at the program's Web site








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