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(506) 223-1327        Published Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 188       E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Escazu's own soccer team seeks responsible path
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When you are No. 3 or maybe lower, you have to try really, really hard.

That's the situation facing the Brujas Fútbol Club, Escazu's own first division soccer team.

Costa Rican fans seem divided between the red and black of the Liga Deportiva Alajuelense and the purple of Deportivo Saprissa. Compared to these teams, Brujas is a baby. It was founded in 2004. Alajuela dates to 1919 and Saprissa to 1935. Brujas is but one of 12 first division teams in Costa Rica, and it is the youngest.

The management of the Brujas wants to enhance the team image, and they want to do so in a socially responsible way, they said this week. In a meeting Tuesday they announced several projects that will benefit the poor neighborhoods of the Escazú canton.

Although the name Escazú has become synonymous with a North American enclave, there are still many poor areas in the canton, which is west of San José. The word brujas, of course, means witches and relates to the long tradition of practitioners of the black arts living in Escazú since Colonial times.

Brujas wants to adopt an identity that represents the western part of the Provincia de San José, regardless of social and economic situations, said Eladio Villata, a board member.

The professional team is seeking municipal support to develop a home stadium and a team training and sports field, said the team executives. They will share these facilities with youngsters for not completely unselfish reasons: They are

of Escazú
soccer football

seeking the superstars of tomorrow. The team plays home games now at Estadio Nacional in Parque La Sabana.

At the session, held in the Hotel Real Continental, Minor Vargas, an investor and personality in the national and international sports industry was introduced as the team's new president.

The vision of the project is to make soccer a family event and to bring the team recognition to the young population of the Escazú areas where there are many teens at risk from drug addiction and alcohol, team executives said.

Villata is developing a minor league that also will have a recreational soccer dimension that will capture fans at an early age.

A lot is still to be done, including making some kind of arrangement with the municipality before the positive social and economic impact becomes a reality, said  Stefano Sgarlatta, one of the major stockholders.

Nation will mark centennial of birth of José Figueres Ferrer
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday is the 100th birthday of José Figueres Ferrer, the major figure in 20th century Costa Rican history.

He was the man who led the rebels in the 1948 civil war, ousted President Teodoro Picado Michalski and others loyal to Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia and abolished the Costa Rican army.

He was president of Costa Rica three times and his
family continues to have strong political influence. He was the final architect of the state of rights in which Costa Ricans live today. Figueres died in 1990.

The Asamblea Legislative voted Wednesday to mark the birthday during its session Monday.

The Centro Cultural e Histórico José Figueres Ferrer in San Ramón de Alajuela, the birthplace of Figueres, will be finishing up a year-long series of events marking the birthday.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 188

Costa Rica Expertise
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Our readers' opinions
Treaty on arms sales
won't affect U.S. military

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Just a reminder to Mr. Call that the conventional arms treaty (October at the U.N.) will not restrict the U.S. military in its own acquistion and deployment of weapons — including land mines.

It would stop countries (and their arms dealers) from legally suppling weapons to outlaw groups and nations that are specified by the U.N. China, for instance, currently supplies some really nasty regimes, including North Korea and Sudan.

The (Arab) Sundanese government is right now conducting a war of genocide against its own (black) citizens. The U.S. was the first to recoqnize this slaughter, and the U.N., it seems, is finally ready to use force to stop it.

Anyway, right now China legally supplies these murderers. The treaty would change this. In being against the treaty, the current U.S. administration wants zero restrictions on being able to arm any group it wants.

I think most Americans would agree some restraint on their government wouldn’t be a bad idea, that like any good government it should be really cautious about who it arms, and should respect what the international community thinks.

If the U.S. refuses to join the treaty, Russia, China and the other bad guys will simply say “why should we?” And as a  good ex-soldier, Mr. Call rightly wants good weapons to protect his troops. He would also agree that the supply of these same good weapons should be controlled, and not be in the hands of the enemy to be used against him and his buddies.

Maybe this issue does seem complicated, and less than black and white. It can also take patience, understanding, a bit of compromise and a lot of small steps by a lot of decent people, to make the world a better and safer place.

Gordon Martin

Full freedom of speech
not necessarily good thing

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I was appalled by your printing of that U.S. soldier’s retarded letter in Tuesday’s edition, highlighting the use of his favourite type of landmine and printing his moronic statement that they are a non-aggressive weapon. As a former U.N. employee, having spent considerable time in Iraq (after the second time the States bombed the living daylights out of tens of thousands of innocent civilians), I spent many nights in U.N. tented refugee camps listening to the dull thuds of children mistakenly walking over said devices, being turned to jelly.

And what about the thousands of unexploded devices that the U.S. refused to clean up that it littered Laos with during the Vietnam war? A country that was not even involved in the conflict, and who’s only transgression was to be geographically next to Vietnam? Scores of people today are still being turned into human ketchup by the ignorant Nazi war machine of the States, which even today still refuses to clean up its own mess. A War on Terror, eh?

Take a second to Google “School of the Americas” (or the new user-friendly name “Fort Benning”) and check up on http://www.soaw.org/ to read all about the main American terrorist training camp located right in the middle of the good ole’ U.S. of A., which trains dictators and soldiers (mainly from Latin America alas) how to interrogate, torture and terrorise civilians. The majority from countries in which the U.S. has vested sweat-shop labour camp interests. Hmmmm, are we starting to get the picture yet people?

You will never reverse-brainwash idiots like this who have been spoon fed rhetoric since birth, but as a paper based in one of the few army-sane countries in the world, you disappoint me enormously by printing this moronic drivel.

As has been shown recently (take the pope’s comments and the ensuing backlash, for example), complete freedom of speech is not necessarily a good thing. If the right to spout (and print) rubbish had some limiting intelligence applied to it, then internet bomb recipes would never have been so easily accessible to lunatics like Timothy McVeigh and the more recent crazies in the U.K.

Idiots should be seen and not heard, and you should not encourage these blood-crazy dullards to voice their ignorant and brainwashed opinions.

Stephen Renton

Situations at hospitals
elaborated in detail

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In regard to the article on A.M Costa Rica Wednesday, we at Veterans Care International, serving Hospital CIMA San José would like to make a few clarifications.

Mr. Sven Johnson and Norieth Guillén, both members of Veterans Care International, attended the Tricare and FMP seminar in Panama City on Sept. 11.

The statements made by Clinica Biblica regarding drastically lowered reimbursment policies by Tricare and the FMP were not presented by any member of the Tricare and FMP management team.

Col. Debra Franco, director of Tricare Latin America and Canada, explained that a fee schedule for Panama and Costa Rica had been under study for several months and a tentative schedule had been considered, but had been put on an indefinite hold because it was found to be too low for realistic implementation.

Col. Franco said that if a schedule is eventually adopted that it would most probably be based on pricing in Puerto Rico or Miami. Until that time Tricare and FMP will continue to pay on an “as billed” using basic Medicare standards.

Hospital CIMA will continue to provide services for all veterans (disabled and retirees and their families) requiring no up-front payments and Veterans Care International will continue to provide professional assistance to all veterans along with the American Legion Post 16 service officer.

Jim Young
Veterans Care International
Hospital CIMA

EDITOR’S NOTE: Clinica Biblica now requires veterans, retirees and dependents to pay for medical treatment themselves and seek reimbursement from Tricare. The dispute is over how much the U.S. medical program will pay for medical procedures.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 188

Tourism minister opposes competition in Limón, Guanacaste
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tourism minister wants no part of plans to set up promotional agencies in Guanacaste and in Limón.

In fact, the tourism minister, former lawmaker Carlos Ricardo Benavides, said he would rather set up his own eight regional offices with five employees each.

Benavides said last week that the twin proposals in the Asamblea Legislativa would weaken his Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

The measure came up for a vote Wednesday in the Comisión con Potestad Legislativa Plena Segunda. Members affiliated with the Partido Acción Ciudadana wanted to postpone action on the measures, a move that might have meant killing them. The move failed. Both Guanacaste and the Provincia de Limón heavily supported Óscar Arias Sánchez in the last presidential election and led to his victory over the Partido Acción Ciudadana candidate.
Tourism operators on both coasts want the independent promotional agencies to focus on their own areas.

The tourism institute has been weak in the promotional department. A $840,000 Web page has generated few reservations. The page has a traffic ranking of 157,752 according to Alexa, the Amazon.Com company that provides such services. It has been as low as 228,254. By comparison, The Tico Times today is 114,092, A.M. Costa Rica is 43,806. and La Nación is 9,375.  Yahoo is the No. 1 most visited site and MSN is No. 2.

The tourism institute also spent $4.5 million ostensibly to promote the country during the World Cup soccer championships, but officials admitted that they had no idea on how to measure their response.

Benavides also told lawmakers in his visit last week he did not want any competition with the tourism institute.  The institute collects a tax on every tourism hotel bill and other tourist expenditures.

Intel hooks up remote Amazon town with wireless Internet
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

In one of the most remote inhabited places on Earth, the Amazon, Intel Corp. has created a wireless, high-speed Internet network for residents to access vast resources of medical, educational and commercial knowledge through computers. The project is part of the Intel World Ahead Program, an initiative in which Intel plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to accelerate access to computers, the Internet and technology for people in developing communities.

The digital transformation of Parintins, a town on an island in the Amazon River, is expected to improve the healthcare and education of its 114,000 residents and advance the lives of future generations.

“Technology has expanded what is possible in Parintins,” said Intel Chairman Craig Barrett at a dedication ceremony Wednesday in the Amazon rain forest. “It is now a place where wireless broadband links to the Internet bring the expertise of specialists, sophisticated medical imaging and the world’s libraries to a community reachable only by airplane or boat.”

Working with the Brazilian government and business and education officials, Intel and its collaborators installed a state-of-the-art WiMAX network for a primary healthcare center, two public schools, a community center and Amazon University. Intel also donated and installed telemedicine equipment at the health center and computer labs at the two schools where students and teachers can regularly connect to the outside world for the first time.

“We’ve been blessed with this project,” said Parintins Mayor Frank Bi Garcia.  “We’re really isolated and don’t have the conditions to receive the Internet with cables. So we’re receiving it wireless, from antennas, from satellites – access to wireless Internet is a great pleasure for us. This project will prepare this generation for the future.”

Intel led the effort in the island city on the Amazon River with support from Cisco, CpqD, Embratel, Proxim and the Bradesco Foundation, as well as Amazonas State University, Amazonas Federal University and São Paulo University.
Intel aims to extend wireless PC access to millions of citizens in Latin America and train more than a million teachers about the effective use of technology in the classroom. In Parintins, Intel has already trained 24 teachers through its education initiatives. The Intel Teach Program teaches teachers how to use technology to improve the way students learn. The Intel Learn Program provides job-readiness skills to underprivileged students between the ages of 10 and 18.

“The student, from the moment he gets in touch with other people, other cultures, with other information beyond the borders of his country, he gets a lot of benefits,” said Goncala Do Nacimento Pinto Filha, a fifth grade teacher in Parintins. “The community can keep up with evolution. It can feel equal in social terms as well.”

As part of Parintins’ digital makeover, Amazon University is starting a telemedicine program developed jointly with the medical school of Sao Paulo University. The new capabilities – including real-time, video interaction between specialists and patients hundreds of miles apart – give the town’s 32 doctors faster and greater access to the latest medical data or second opinions.

“Telemedicine for us is like a new weapon, a weapon from the future,” said Dr. Gregorz Maciejewski, municipal secretary of health in Parintins.

Doctors say telemedicine will also help in preventing the spread of such diseases as AIDS and leprosy.

The solution in the Amazon is to be followed by others planned by Intel for isolated communities in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where electricity and telecommunications are unreliable or antiquated and transportation is difficult.

The wireless infrastructure includes short-range Wi-Fi radio transmissions and WiMAX, which has an extended transmitting range of up to 30 miles. WiMAX is designed to be a less costly and more efficient way to build wireless computing and communications networks for broadband access. Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, has facilities in Costas Rica.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 188

Hugo Chavez calls George Bush 'the devil'  in U.N. speech
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

The United States and President George Bush have come in for harsh criticism during a day of sharply-worded speeches at the annual U.N. General Assembly opening. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez got personal, calling Bush "the devil himself."

Chavez burnished his reputation as one of Washington's severest populist critics Wednesday. To rousing applause in the U.N. General Assembly hall, he described the United States as a "hegemonistic power" intent on world domination, and a "threat to the survival of the human race."

Chavez had even stronger words for President Bush. The leftist leader called the president "the devil," and said Bush had left a smell of sulfur in the chamber from his appearance the previous day.

"Yesterday, the devil came here, right here, and it smells of sulfur still today," said  Chavez. "Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here talking as if he owned the world."

There were no senior U.S. officials in the chamber at the time, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice later told reporters she would not dignify Chavez's comments with a reply. Washington's combative U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, however, described the Venezualan's speech as a "comic strip approach to international affairs."

Chavez also criticized Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday, saying he found the pontiff's recent remarks about Islam and holy war "worrisome".

Cuba's delegate at the Assembly session, Esteban Lazo Hernández echoed many of Chavez's criticisms of the United States. Lazo described the U.S. embargo of his country as a criminal policy.

"The Bush administration has stepped up its brutally hostile 
methods against Cuba," said Lazo. "With new economic sanctions that further intensify what is already the longest blockade human history has known."

The annual assembly debate also provided a forum for a spat between Asian neighbors Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Opening Wednesday's session, Afghan President Hamid Karzai decried the current surge of violence in his country which he said is the worst since U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001. He did not mention Pakistan by name, but said outsiders are responsible.

"We must look beyond Afghanistan to the sources of terrorism," said Hamid Karzai. "We must destroy terrorist sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan, dismantle the elaborate networks in the region that recruit, indoctrinate, train, finance, arm and deploy terrorists."

A short time later, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rejected Karzai's charge. Speaking to a U.N. news conference, Musharraf said Pakistan is doing more than Afghanistan to fight terrorists in the rugged border region. He challenged Karzai to take action against Taliban commander Mullah Omar, whom, he said, is in southern Afghanistan.

"Instead of this blame game that goes on, they must realize what is the environment, he must realize what is the correct environment, and take action accordingly in Afghanistan," said Pervez Musharraf. "The problem lies in Afghanistan and that is creating problems in Pakistan."

The commander of U.S. forces in the region, Gen. John Abizaid, expressed concern this week about renewed Taliban military activity along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

The General Assembly debate Wednesday also included addresses by the leaders of Italy, Chile, Montenegro and Qatar, as well as Israel's foreign minister.

Thursday's schedule includes the leaders of Lebanon, Serbia and Colombia, along with senior officials from Russia, Japan and South Korea.

Leftist candidate moves up into tie for the lead in presidential race in Ecuador
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new public opinion poll shows that a leftist economist seeking to become Ecuador's next president is tied with his main rival, a former vice president.

A poll released by Cedatos Gallup Tuesday shows that Rafael Correa has gained two points to hold 19 percent of voter support ahead of the Oct. 15 presidential election. The former economy minister has worried foreign investors with a proposal to restructure Ecuador's foreign debt payments.

He is slightly behind Leon Roldos, a left-leaning former
 vice president who dropped two points to 20 percent in the opinion poll. Statistically they have the same support.

Conservative Cynthia Viteri is in third, with 13 percent support in the poll. Almost half of all voters remain undecided.

If no candidate wins 50 percent of the ballot, a run-off will be held between the two top candidates in November.

The poll reflects the opinions of 3,342 people surveyed from Friday to Sunday. The margin of error is 3 points in predicting the outcome if the vote were held last week.

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