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(506) 2223-1327         Published Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 186              E-mail us
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Plan advances to reopen park at Turrialba volcano
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission is considering reopening Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba, which contains the smoking volcano. The park has been closed for safety reasons since January.

One concern is the state of the road leading to the mostly underdeveloped park. Much of the road is gravel and in bad shape.

The emergency commission is maintaining a yellow alert for two kilometers around the volcano. The volcano has not erupted since the 19th century but it has put out a lot of acidic vapor this year. Most of the residents have returned to their homes  and farms.

The 3,900-acre park is some 40 miles east of San José and north of the city of Turrialba. That community will be the principal beneficiary if the park is open to tourists.

Vanessa Rosales, president of the commission, said Monday that the park could be opened if the road were improved and if an emergency plan is 
drawn up for the protection of those who might visit the park.  Raúl Mora, a volcanologist with the Red Sismológica Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica, said that the mountain is continuing to emit plumes of gas. The park has a trail that leads up to the three volcano craters.

There also is an overlook. The mountain is nearly 11,000 feet above sea level.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, the highway agency, plans to improve the access to the park soon. One job will be fixing the road between La Pastora and La Central. A later job will be fixing the stretch between La Central and the volcano.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias will consult with the Área de Conservación de la Cordillera Volcánica, which oversees the parks.

Turrialba is online 24 hours a day with a camera installed at the permanent observation center of the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica. The camera is 600 meters east of the main crater. A link is HERE.


Major vacation tour operator plans direct flight
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Apple Vacations, one of the biggest U.S. wholesalers, is putting on a direct Chicago to Liberia flight starting Jan. 14. The flight will bring 190 vacationers to Guanacaste every week.

This is the first time that the company has had a direct flight from Chicago, Illinois. The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo said that the flight is directed to middle- and upper-income vacationers
who will spend $150 or more per night. The company promotes these three Guanacaste hotels on its Web site: Riu Guanacaste, JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa and Paradisus Playa Conchal. It also lists other hotels and also escorted tours and tours to San José.

The company also is offering three- and four-night tours of La Fortuna and Monteverde, the institute said. The company also has tours to Manuel Antonio, Tortuguero and Turrialba.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 186

Costa Rica Expertise
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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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New virus effort here
is more sophisticated now

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Spammers and those who seek to spread computer viruses are getting much more sophisticated.

Recent efforts invite recipients to click on an attachment that appears to be a Web page. In some cases the attachment is a .pdf file.

In either case computer experts said that the Web site will install an unwanted computer worm that will spread through future e-mail contacts.

The e-mails have the subject lines "just for you," "resume" and "here you have." The messages seem legitimate and talk of attached financial statements or similar. Unlike prior efforts, these e-mails seem to change the subject line and the sender name, so they cannot be removed in bulk.

Some tell the recipient that they must have Java installed to read the Web page.

La Carpio is target
of police mobilization


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When police go to La Carpio, the low-income area in La Uruca, they usually go in force.  That was the case Sunday afternoon when the Fuerza Pública tactical squads entered the area.

This is one of the sections of the city where police usually do not go. Hence the residents have minimal law enforcement protection and the area is overrun by gangs.

Police said that Sunday they not only went into the main area but also the sections that are identified with youth gangs. These include La Cuerva del Sapo and Las Gradas. The operation is part of a larger police effort to increase their presence in four main areas of San José.

Gang members and others have been known to object to police presence. There have been running battles in the past where bullets were fired, rocks were thrown, patrol cars were destroyed and police used tear gas. None of that happened Sunday, and police checked the identities of persons they encountered. That resulted in five arrests, mostly on robbery warrants.

Fish with super growth genes
nearing the dinner table


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A genetically modified variety of salmon may soon become the first bio-engineered animal to reach dinner tables.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week is considering whether to approve the new product. The company that developed the salmon says it will mean more of this healthy fish on the market. But opponents say it has not been studied enough for its health and environmental safety.

Low in bad fat and high in healthy oils, salmon is the third most-popular seafood in the United States. The United States imported a billion dollars' worth of the orange-fleshed fish last year. And that demand is expected to grow worldwide.

"We expect as the world population increases, the requirement for high quality protein sources will increase," says Ronald Stotish, president of AquaBounty Technologies. "Fish are among the most efficient converters of feed to edible protein." 

AquaBounty added growth genes from two other fish to the Atlantic salmon. The modified fish reaches full size in half the time of its unmodified cousin. That's a big advantage for fish growers. And company tests show the fish is as safe to eat as regular salmon.

Scientific advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have raised no objections. But about 50 protesters did recently in Washington — in front of the White House. Wenonah Hauter of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch says the FDA hasn't studied the fish closely enough.

"Why are they using three studies with very small samples that the data is not available to the public, and one of the studies is 19 years old? There hasn't been a real process to look at what the food safety implications . . . "

In addition to food safety questions, Hauter says the modified salmon could escape from fish farms and wipe out native fish.

FDA officials are meeting this month to consider whether to let AquaBounty's fish on the market.

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A.M. Costa Rica 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 weekday.

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.

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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
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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.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 186

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Pretty butterfly is really a moth with specific diet
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The green and black butterflies much in evidence flying high and fast to the south are actually a diurnal moth, the green urania. This species has a regular cycle of population explosions followed by spectacular migratory flights.

The species is known to science as Urania fulgens and ranges from Mexico to western Ecuador. Another population east of the Andes in South America is sometimes considered as part of the same species or as U. leilus.  

The only food plant the moth’s larvae eat is a vine or liana of the genus Omphalea. Urania is present only where this group of vines (sometimes trees) is found, namely the Neotropics, Madagascar, New Guinea, and the southern Philippines.

A “wrong-way” flight was noted during July 1939 in Cameron county, Texas, with substantial numbers present and going northward from Veracruz, México, where the northernmost population of the Omphalea food plant occurs.
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Immigration seeking more blank high-security cédulas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

LaserCard Corp. said Monday that it has received a $2.8 million order from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería for identity cards.

The company manufactures the machines that create the identification cards or cédulas for foreigners here. These include pensionado, rentista and residente permanente plastic cards.

The credentials feature LaserCard’s optical security media,
the same technology at the heart of the U.S. Green Card, the firm said. Delivery of cards is expected to be completed by the end of December.

“We are pleased to see this regionally important border security program continue to expand,” said Robert DeVincenzi, president and chief executive officer of LaserCard.

“The Costa Rican government has shown leadership in its application of advanced, secure credential technology to the challenge of controlling illegal immigration," he added.


Biodiversity conference begins today in Turrialba
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza begins its VI Conferencia Wallace today in which experts from 14 countries will be discussing the problem of biodiversity loss, said the institution.
The advanced educational institution in Turrialba said that
the focus will be loss of biodiversity in Mesoamérica. Experts will be from universities, government and private enterprise.

The conference runs through Friday.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 186


Caja reports use of safer, quicker heart operation technique

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The three public hospitals in San José have adopted a safer, quicker method of open heart surgery, according to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

The operation technique does not require stopping the action of the heart. The procedure is being done at Hospital San Juan de Dios, Hospital Calderón Guardia and Hospital México.

The operations are to do bypasses, stitches, valve repair and other repair of heart damage. In the past, surgeons had to use an external pump to take over the workings of the heart. Such operations began to take place in 1953. The new procedure is being employed all over the world. With
 it surgeons can perform the tasks with the heart beating, according to Edgar Méndez Jiménez, one of the nation's heart surgeons.

The procedure has implications for expats here because all foreigners living here with legal residencies are supposed to be subscribers to the Caja. More and more expats will be receiving medical care from the public hospitals.

Méndez said that with this procedure there is less blood loss and fewer complications. Physicians do not have to reduce body temperature below normal as they have done in the past.

The Caja said that this technique, which is used in complicated cases, also reduced the length of hospital stay.



Flooding along Central Valley river continues to do damage

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission said that flooding Sunday night was worse than originally thought. The agency said that the Río María Aguilar flooded out nearly the entire population that lives along its banks. The flooding was from La Union through Curridabat and into San José. Some 130 persons had to be housed in shelters.

There also was rain damage in San Ramón, the commission said.

Commission experts attributed the flooding to failure to maintain infrastructure and urban growth. The commission
instituted a permanent alert along the river.

The commission said that much of the land was deemed inhabitable since 2003. However, residents have nowhere else to go. There also was flood damage in Zapote.

A week ago the same river destroyed two homes in San Sebastian in San José and carried away furniture, home parts and even a sofa.

Most of those evicted from their homes, some 105 persons, were housed in a church in Curridabat.

More rain fell Monday and more is predicted for today.



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 186

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Commodity exports seen
as boon for Latin nations

 
By the World Bank staff

Traditionally considered a curse for a nation’s development, commodity wealth in Latin America and the Caribbean could represent a foundation for prosperity, according to a new report by the World Bank.

The increased demand for minerals and agricultural commodities from Asian markets, especially China, is contributing to a rebound in economic growth as the region leaves behind the global crisis, according to the flagship publication "Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean: Beyond Booms and Busts?"

According to the report, in Latin America there has been a substantial shift from exporting commodities to advanced economies to trading instead with emerging economies. For example, the United States’ share as a destination market declined from 44 percent in 1990 to 37 percent in 2008 — the latest year for which data is available, while China’s share rose over tenfold during the same period, from 0.8 percent to 10 percent of total commodity exports. China is Brazil’s most important market for commodity exports, accounting for almost a fifth of total commodity exports in 2008.

If properly managed, the windfall from this commodity-led recovery can help Latin and Caribbean countries seize this growth opportunity by providing governments with greater fiscal space and serving directly as a key source of growth, the report said.

“The speed of the recovery in Latin America and its resilience in the face of the global economic crisis can certainly be attributed partly to the growth in importance of the region’s commodity exports to emerging Asian economies,” said World Bank chief economist Augusto de la Torre.  “Assuming that Asian demand for soy exports from Argentina, iron ore from Brazil, copper from Chile, fish and minerals from Peru and other Latin American commodities keeps up, the region is in a strong position to profit from its natural resources,” de la Torre added.

High commodity prices can further boost the contribution to the area's long-term development, provided earnings are managed wisely over a long-term horizon and the region avoids the downside risks of commodity abundance, says the report.

“Long-term the challenge is to manage well this commodity bonanza and to dedicate those earnings to improving human capital, building better infrastructure and spurring innovation, which is fundamental for sustained growth,” de la Torre emphasized.

Latin America is recovering from the global financial crisis on the strength of a commodity-led expansion that is expected to surpass the 5 percent mark in 2010, according to World Bank projections.  Over 97 percent of the region’s gross domestic product is produced in net commodity-exporting countries and 93 percent of its population lives in countries that benefit from high commodity prices.

For the fiscal coffers of commodity-producing countries in the region, the resurgence in commodity prices from the lows reached in early 2009 is good news. Area commodity exporters rely much more on fiscal revenues from commodity production than commodity-rich developed countries: despite having a similar GDP share of fiscal revenues from commodity production (around 6 percent versus 5 percent for advanced resource-rich producers), LAC producers derive on average 24 percent of total fiscal revenues from commodities compared with 9 percent for the advanced rich countries.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 186


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U.N.'s Ban urges nations
to meet Millennium goals

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

World leaders have gathered in New York for a three-day summit on ending global poverty, hunger and disease within the next five years. The secretary-general called on the international community to keep its promise to help the world's most vulnerable people.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said when leaders agreed on the eight Millennium Development Goals during a summit in 2000, it was a great breakthrough.

"Together we created a blueprint for ending extreme poverty. We defined achievable targets and timetables," he said. "We established a framework that all partners, even those with different views have been able to embrace."

This week's summit is intended to review progress, identify gaps and commit to concrete steps to reach the Millennium Development Goals on schedule. A document setting out specific actions on how to do that for each of the eight goals has already been agreed on and is expected to be adopted at the end of the summit.

The goals include eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Ban outlined some of the successes during the past 10 years in implementing the goals:

"New thinking and path-breaking public-private partnerships," he said. "Dramatic increases in school enrollment. Expanded access to clean water. Better control of disease. The spread of technology — from mobile to green."

But progress has been uneven, and the summit aims to give a boost to the goals that are lagging, such as improving maternal health and reducing child mortality. On Wednesday, the secretary general will launch a Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health as part of that effort.

The latest Millennium progress report warns that several of the goals are likely to be missed in many countries. The challenges are greatest in the least-developed countries, land-locked developing countries and small island developing states, as well as countries either in or emerging from conflict and those most affected by climate change.

The report also found the global economic and financial crisis has impacted jobs and incomes worldwide, severely hurting the ability of the poor to feed their families. There is also concern that donor countries affected by the financial crisis are taking austerity measures that could erode their contributions to development assistance.

The secretary-general has warned that falling short of the Millennium Development Goals could lead to an increase in global dangers from political instability to disease to harming the environment.

About 140 world leaders, including President Barack Obama and Costa Rica's Laura Chinchilla will address the summit before it concludes Wednesday.





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