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(506) 223-1327       Published Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 186       E-mail us    
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Donated fire truck will be based at Playa Herradura
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The fast-growing Jacó area soon will get a fire truck but it will be housed in nearby Playa Herradura.

Hector Chávez
That's where a group of business owners
raised funds for the used vehicle and are planning to provide temporary quarters.

Hector Chávez, director general del Cuerpo de Bomberos, said Monday that the new pumper already is in the country and is being stored temporarily in Desamparados. The fire truck is a critical element
for security in the Pacific beach towns. Fire stations now exist in Orotina, Parrita and Quepos, but each is about 40 minutes from Jacó. That was obvious two weeks ago when fire leveled a Jaó storage structure.
Chávez said that there has been no structure, equipment or personnel for a fire station. A new truck costs about 100 million colons, he said. That's about $195,000. A ladder truck with a snorkle costs four times as much.

Jacó soon will be getting a Ramada hotel and condominiums with 10-story towers.

However, Chávez said that the major problem with Jacó is in trying to get the business people there to show interest in establishing a fire station. He said he has had several meetings there.

In Playa Herradura to the north a group of buisness people, organized by Eduardo Acosta, are working with firemen to provide land for a permanent station, and the truck, which came from the United States, was a donation from them, said Chávez.

Jacó now has a high density of structures and is an area of high population. He said that new developments must get their plans approved by the fire department's engineering office to make sure that there are adequate safeguards.


Underaged drinkers mar independence celebrations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two youth gangs met to fight during independence day in the Parque de Desamparados.

They drank their fill of beer, smoked marijuana in plain sight of two police officers who did nothing and engaged in frequent brawls.

More than 100 youngsters and a few adults gathered ostensibly to watch the community's Día de Independencia parade. But the situation degenerated quickly into lawlessness.

A similar series of problems caused by intoxicated teens also marred the independence celebration in downtown San José.

The ages ranged from as young as 14 in Desamparados. Most had access to cans and bottles of beer and pre-packaged cuba libres. Youngsters climbed trees and then sat on branches to consume the beer. A few drank guaro.

Only when one youth slashed another did the Fuerza Pública officers intervene. They carried off the wounded youngster for medical attention.

One girl was heard to say to her male companion "Let's kill him."

As an apparent wave of anger swept through the crowd, those who were not involved — women,

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Large bottles were much in evidence

children and the elderly —fled to safety, and police finally intervened to disburse the crowd.

Students from the Liceo de Costa Rica clashed with students from the rival Liceo del Sur during the San José independence parade and later with police. Similar incidents, encouraged by underage drinking, were reported in Heredia, Cartago and Alajuela.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 186


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Our readers' opinions
U.S. uses land mines
in a responsible way


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Clarification needs to be made regarding use of the words “land mines” in a letter entitled “Support urged for effort.”  As a former infantry officer in the United States Army, I am an expert on the mines used by the U. S. military.  I also came to love the security that they provided my troops and me.  Mines are a purely defensive, non-aggressive weapon.  If you don’t mess with them, they won’t mess with you.

My favorite type of mine was the claymore.  A claymore is not really a mine in the typical sense in that it is command-detonated and is not buried beneath the ground.  This is the mine most commonly used by infantry soldiers to defend their position.  A wire runs back from the mine to a detonator that the soldier holds in his hand.  The mine will not explode unless the soldier activates the detonator.  This mine never explodes by being touched or stepped on, and, if left for 20 years on an old battlefield, represents no danger to anyone, since the soldier and the detonator are long gone.

All of the other anti-personnel and anti-tank mines with which I worked contained a small device, often inserted into the bottom of the mine.

Without this device inserted, the mine could not explode.  All of these little devices had a short shelf life at the end of which they were rendered inert.  Once the shelf life was completed, the mine was essentially a boat anchor unless a new plug was inserted.

Other mines are deployed by dropping them from planes or firing them from artillery shells.  These mines are of three types.  The command detonated ones act similar to the claymores mentioned above.  Others are on timers that detonate the mines 24 hours after their deployment.  The third type are connected so that they all detonate when one of their group is tripped.

Engineers are often sent to trip these mines once their purpose has been served.  Sometimes, a concussion from a bomb or a grenade is used to trip them, so as to minimize danger to the engineers.

The United States military uses only these types of mines so as to afford their troops the maximum protection they deserve while eliminating danger to innocents who may enter the battlefield days, months or years after the battle has been won or lost.

I wish those who oppose the use of mines would carefully read this letter and point their efforts toward other militaries of the world that do not consider the lives of innocents when deploying mines.

J. B. Call
Soto Cano Air Base
Honduras

Scent of sewage noted
on Costa Rican beach


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As a retired American considering a home in Costa Rica the story about fresh drinking water caught my eye. Most people never give much thought to where the stuff goes when they flush the toilet and where the clean water comes from when it leaves the tap in their kitchen.

While I am not a world traveler, I have to been to a few places in the Carribiean and Hawaii, Japan and southeast Asia. Poor sanitation and waste water treatment are a important subject if a country wants to remain healthy and continue to prosper.

Dumping of raw sewage into the ocean by cruise ships and other sources has been linked to the bleaching of corals in the Caribbean and Florida last year. And the corals are what brings the tourists to those areas.

I have a sensitive nose and can quickly catch the scent of raw sewage as it dumps in the ocean from local streams. I have smelled this in many places of the world, including a beach on the coast of Costa Rica as well as many others in the world. I shun those places once I make the connection. Dumping untreated sewage into the coastal waters is perhaps a common practice in the Latin countries. It is a poor policy  to pursue for a healthy future.

I would hope to see the ecology minded citizens and public officials get behind investigating modern waste treatment procedures and concepts. Hopefully to preserve for the future the beautiful oceans and beaches of Costa Rica. And our health.

Dave Wallis
Chicago, Illinois, area


Project cited in story
is not considered forest

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I write this letter to commend Garland Baker for taking on an important issue in his story Monday.  The disaster which entities like ICT are permitting in the Zona Marítimo Terrestre is probably the single most dangerous threat to the tourism industry in Costa Rica.

In Manuel Antonio we have documented a number of projects being given permission to build in a forest within the maritime zone, and I am the signatory of at least one “Sala Cuartazo” against the Aguirre Municipal government’s decision to grant a concession in forested areas which are under the Ministry of the Environment’s exclusive jurisdiction. I hope Garland is right and that ministry will stay the course in protecting these important areas.

However, in the interest of getting our facts straight, I do want to take issue with Garland regarding the Dulce Vida Project.  This case is more complex than he presented it, and although I may not approve of continued development within Manuel Antonio’s fragile maritime zone, highly respected, independent experts have determined that the area where the project is being developed is not forested land.  There are better examples in Manuel Antonio that he could have used, and I would be happy to point them out to him.

I write this letter from the perspective of someone who is working hard to stop illegal deforestation along Costa Rica’s coast, and I believe it is very important that we get our criticisms and accusations absolutely right.  If we don’t, then we open ourselves up to attack from those who are trying to undermine clear and consistent enforcement of Costa Rica’s environmental legislation.

For the record, in the case of Dulce Vida the professional consensus from court appointed experts is that the area in question was NOT a forest and therefore NOT afforded special protected status as such.

Matthew M. Cook
The Fund for Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 186








Costa Rica signs on to hemispheric anti-terrorism treaty
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Costa Rica has joined 20 other nations in the Western Hemisphere in ratifying a regional pact designed to eliminate the financing of terrorism and to deny safe haven to suspected terrorists.

In a statement Friday, the Organization of American States  said that Costa Rica deposited that day the instruments of ratification for the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism.  By doing so, said the organization, Costa Rica is "thus honoring its commitment to collaborate in the international effort against the scourge" of terrorism.

Costa Rica's permanent representative to the Organization of American States, Javier Sancho Bonilla, said that by ratifying the convention, his country now is "party to all hemispheric and international instruments in force to combat" terrorism.
In reference to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, José Miguel Insulza, Organization of American States secretary-general, urged continued cooperation among member states to ensure that terrorism never occurs again in the Americas.

The hemispheric convention was adopted June 3, 2002, during the Organization of American States General Assembly in Barbados. The U.S. Senate approved the pact in October 2005.  The State Department said after the United States ratified the convention in November 2005 that the measure "was a powerful indication of this region's resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms."

The U.S. State Department said in a report covering the year 2005 that terrorism in the Western Hemisphere primarily was perpetrated by narco-terrorist organizations based in Colombia and by the remnants of radical leftist groups in South America's Andean region.


Thursday is International Peace Day with ceremony here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thursday is International Peace Day, and the annual event has special meaning in Costa Rica because the nation was one of the two sponsors of a United Nations resolution to create the day in 2001.

Maribel Muñoz is a member of the Subcomisión Nacional para la Promoción de la Paz Social. She said that the increase in violence and conflict in all sectors of the society makes it important to construct and strengthen a culture of peace.

As part of the day organizers are asking citizens to wear white shirts and blouses. If you put on a red shirt for the
 Sele, put on a white one for peace, says the day's slogan, using the term Sele for the national soccer team.

A special ceremony will be held at the Centro Nacional de la Cultura Thursday at 10 a.m.

Attending will be Laura Chinchilla, who is acting president that day; María Elena Carballo, minister of Cultura, Juventud y Deportes, and George Tsai, vice rector of the  Universidad para la Paz.

The Fundación Rasur also is sponsoring the program.

Typically participants dedicate a minute of silence at noon with the hope that peace shall prevail on earth.


Arias speaks to U.N. today and signal is available on Internet hookups
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez will be addressing the United Nations General Assembly today at 3:30 p.m. Costa Rica time, and thanks to the power of the Internet, the speech is available on a U.N. video page.

Leaders from many countries will be speaking, as is the custom as the General Assembly convenes in New York. However, much of the work is done in one-on-one discussions.

Arias was scheduled to arrive in New York last night from Denver. However, Bruno Stagno, the Costa Rican foreign
 minister, held a series of meetings there Monday with foreign dignitaries.

He was seeking support for Costa Rica to win a non-permanent seat on the U.S. Security Council. Stagno also met with George Yeo, the Singapore foreign minister, and discussed the possible opening of diplomatic missions, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto. He also met with Amre Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League. A week ago Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, and Stagno announced that Egypt had just reestablished diplomatic relations with Costa Rica after the Arias administration moved the Costa Rican Embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.



   


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 186


World Bank and IMF open sessions with eye on corruption
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund open their annual meetings in Singapore today. At the top of the agenda for two days of talks among the world's finance ministers are debt relief and corruption in the aid process.

Finance officials attending preliminary meetings Monday backed a World Bank plan to tackle corruption. But they decided that any moves to withhold aid because of corruption in the recipient nation would require oversight of the bank's executive board, in order to ensure that such decisions are broadly based.

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz had earlier been criticized for blocking hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to African and Asian nations last year because of allegations of corruption.

Wolfowitz said Monday the bank's move to crack down on corruption in countries receiving World Bank aid was necessary for poverty reduction.

"It's about making certain that the money goes to schools and textbooks for children, medicine for mothers and creating job opportunities for the poor, not to line the pockets of the rich and powerful," he said.

The move to fight corruption in the aid process is being backed by the Bush administration, and has considerable international support. But some countries and activist organizations have expressed concern that the fight against corruption is slowing loans to the poor.

Finance ministers also expressed concern Monday that debt
relief was not reaching poor countries fast enough, and that new debts were beginning to pile up, even in countries whose debts had been cancelled by donors.

A small group of debt-relief activists demonstrated near the entrance of the meeting venue Monday, demanding that international financial institutions remove what they say are excessive conditions attached to debt relief.

Activist organizations say bank demands for privatizing and restructuring certain industries and liberalizing trade are obstructing poor countries' escape from poverty.

Finance ministers representing the world's poorest countries also said the World Bank and IMF should be more flexible with conditions they attach to debt relief.

But bank officials and finance ministers have expressed concern at commercial lenders moving in to provide new loans to countries that are unable to meet World Bank conditions, or have recently had their debts forgiven.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Monday that there are already signs that excessive lending to countries struggling to get out of debt is trapping them in new debt, prolonging the cycle of poverty.

Wolfowitz said World Bank loans reached a record high in the last year.

The International Financial Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, says investments and loans to high-risk and low-income countries were up 20 percent, with a record $9.5 billion committed for investment in private-sector social projects in developing countries.


Venezuela and Iran agree to do energy projects jointly
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have inaugurated a joint oil well project in Venezuela's Orinoco River basin as they strengthen bilateral ties.

The tour Monday took place one day after President Ahmadinejad praised President Chávez for his opposition to the United States, saying Iran and Venezuela have common thoughts, objectives and interests.

Both leaders attended the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Cuba last week that ended with a declaration supporting Iran's right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
Sunday, Chávez said Iran is not using its nuclear program
to create weapons and called on the U.S. to destroy its own arsenal. Venezuelan and Iranian officials signed more than 30 cooperation agreements Sunday, including one that creates a $2-billion fund to finance joint energy projects.

Both countries are major oil producers and members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Ahmadinejad and Chávez are attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week. Iran supports Venezuela's desire for a rotating seat on the 15-nation U.N. Security Council. Washington is opposed.

The Bush administration has labeled Chávez as a destabilizing factor in Latin America, and accuses Ahmadinejad of trying to develop nuclear weapons.



Intel joins with AOL to market video service online for PC computers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

AOL and Intel Corp. have launched the AOL Video service for Intel® Viiv™ technology-based PCs with a goal to create on-demand entertainment experience. The joint effort delivers AOL Video’s leading online library of premium movies, full-length TV shows, music videos, concerts and sports videos, as well the ability to easily search videos from the Web to Intel Viiv technology-based PCs. These videos can then be easily viewed on any large-screen television.

Intel has manufacturing facilities here.

Much of the programming from the PC to TV screen is free to consumers with a large number of videos available in DVD quality via AOL’s Hi-Q format.

AOL Video is a one-stop, high-quality entertainment destination to find, watch and share millions of free streaming and pay-to-download video programs from across
the Web, broadcast and cable television, and entertainment.

There are more than 45 channels of on-demand video programming featuring original, licensed and branded content as well as downloadable movies from major studios.

AOL and Intel have developed an innovative user interface which helps a consumer decide whether they want to search the entire video library, browse a video category, or take advantage of AOL’s recommended viewing list. All of this can be done easily with a remote control.

“The Internet has truly changed the way consumers enjoy a wide variety of content – they want to experience it anytime, anywhere, on-demand,” said Kevin Conroy, Executive Vice President, AOL. “We are very excited to launch our 10-foot AOL Video service with Intel and make what we believe to be the best online video experience on the Web available to consumers on the next generation of PCs and TVs.”


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