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Jo Stuart
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These stories were published Monday, Sept. 24, 2001
Water gains
status as
natural resource

by the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United States and allies went to war over oil. Now a new war seems to be in the works, and oil will be a factor.

But how much tougher would war be if the participants were fighting over water, a far more precious commodity.

That's the question Paul Simon asks, and he sees Central America well supplied in that department.

His analysis highlights an oft-overlooked natural resource of Costa Rica, a resource that infrequently is appreciated in this, the rainy season.

Simon is the former U.S. senator from Illinois who now heads Public Policy Institute, a think tank at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.

"Last year American intelligence agencies told President Bill Clinton, in a worldwide security forecast, that in 15 years there will be a shortage of
water so severe that if steps are not taken soon for conservation and
cooperation, there will be regional wars over it," Simon said in an opinion piece published in The New York Times Aug.14.

Simon said that even if the Arabs and the Israelis make peace, that the Middle East is likely to explode again in 10 years over water unless politicians start planning now.

But the good news for Costa Rica is that the country is fortunate not only in having water but in an unusually fine climate and a stable governmental situation, said Simon in amplifying his comments to A.M. Costa Rica

"The water aspect will become increasingly crucial to economic development, on industries that may come into an area as well as where universities will grow" said Simon.  "For example, in California one new campus was decided almost solely on the basis of where water was available."

Simon said he had been to Costa Rica three or four times and has friendships with several political leaders. But the picture he pains for the world in general is bleak:

"Every continent has places where painful shortages are coming,"  Simon said in his Times article.  "China, for example, has 7 percent of the world's fresh water and 22 percent of its population; 300 large cities there already have serious water shortages. The World Bank reports that 300 million people live today in areas of serious to severe water shortage and that in 25 years the number will be three billion."

Simon urged that leaders in the Mideast adopt some form of regional planning that transcends the current political lineup.

A.M. Costa Rica photos
Avenida Central as seen from the west is a colorful sight at midday. Recent projects include a remodeled McDonald's Restaurant, a new department store, a new casino in the Hotel Balmoral and extensive remodeling at that hotel and the Hotel Presidente opposite.
Meanwhile up in the area between the Supreme Court and Costa Rican Judicial Complex work is underway for a pedestrian mall connecting Parque Nacional and the area around the court. The mall passes by the Legislative Assembly.

FBI charges U.S. analyst as spy

A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A senior U.S. defense intelligence analyst has been charged with spying for Cuba. FBI agents arrested Ana Belen Montes Friday at her office at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington. 

The FBI says Ms. Montes, 44, is charged with conspiracy to deliver U.S. national defense information to Cuba. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.

The complaint says she sent encrypted messages to Cuban intelligence using a short-wave radio transmitter, a computer and other equipment. She also is said to have revealed the identity of a U.S. undercover intelligence agent to the island's communist government. 

that again?

This is another Costa Rican bank story.

It's a bit personal because the individual involved is editor of this publication.

In May I went to Banca Promerica to set up a corporate account for the parent company of A.M. Costa Rica because the bank had advertised heavily for business. The papers got signed. The young lady at the client services desk was all smiles. I gave the bank $2,000 to start up. The money was accepted quickly.

Two months and a long trip to the States later, I return to the bank to deposit more money. "Sorry," the lady said, "someone upstairs would not approve your account."  Three more frustrating visits to the bank still failed to determine the reason for the denial.

So I took the money back (without interest) and found another bank.

So far, so good and just another surrealistic Costa Rican bank story. But here is the good part:

This week a computerized bank statement arrived by mail from Promerica.  It showed I had no money to begin with in August. And I didn't deposit any money. So I still had no money.

Fortunately, they charged no money to maintain the account.

The question is for how long will they continue to send these monthly reports?

—Jay Brodell

15 suspects arrested by Paraguayan authorities
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Paraguayan officials have detained at least 15 people in their investigation into possible links between the country's large Arab community and the deadly terrorist attacks in the United States. 

Officials detained more than a dozen people of Lebanese descent along with several others from elsewhere in the Middle East, during a Friday raid in Encarnacion, about 370 kilometers (about 220 miles) southeast of Asuncion. 

Authorities say many of those detained carried false documents or had no documents. 

Paraguayan authorities say FBI agents arrived in Ciudad del Este earlier this week to investigate whether anyone there is linked to the deadly strikes. 

Ciudad del Este is a major trading hub in Paraguay's so-called "triple border" region with Argentina and Brazil. 

In 1997, the Argentine Interior Minister at the time, Carlos Corach, said there were indications that 

terrorists belonging to Hezbollah were going to Ciudad del Este to seek refuge, as well as financing for their activities. 

Clinton OK'd bin Laden plan

Former President Bill Clinton said that he had authorized a plan to capture, and if necessary, to kill suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden. 

Clinton told reporters in New York Saturday that he approved a covert operation to stop the Saudi exile after the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.  Osama bin Laden is accused of masterminding the bombings. 

Clinton said commandos were trained for possible ground action, but the necessary intelligence was not in place to carry it out. He also said his administration contacted a group in Afghanistan to carry out an attack, but the operation was not successful. He did not name the group. 

The former president also said that at the time the United States did not have enough international support to go after Osama bin Laden.

Oregon student becomes
new Miss America

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A college student from the western U.S. state of Oregon has been crowned Miss America in a patriotic pageant amid tight security in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

"Miss Oregon," Katie Harman, is the first contestant from her state to win the honor. She plans a career in bio-ethics, and said she will use her reign to promote support for patients with advanced cases of breast cancer.

Entertainer Tony Danza hosted the event in Atlanta City, opening the pageant with a monologue mourning those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks Sept. 11. He led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag.

Danza said organizers decided to go ahead with the show to help Americans recover from the shock of this month's events, and to add resolve to the nation's voice. He appealed to television viewers to donate money to help the families of those killed in the terrorist attacks.

The 51 Miss America contestants, representing each state and the District of Columbia, were introduced to thunderous applause from a flag-waving audience. The crowd gave an extra cheer to Miss New York, whose state was home to the destroyed World Trade Center. She was among five finalists in Saturday's competition.

The new Miss America will receive a $50,000 university scholarship, and is expected to earn up to $200,000 in appearance fees.

Violinist Isaac Stern is dead

Isaac Stern, the master violinist,  has died.

Stern, 81, who lived in Connecticut, is believed to have died from heart failure in a New York hospital late Saturday. 

He suffered from heart disease for the past several years and was in and out of the hospital a number of times during the last two months. 

Born in Ukraine in 1920, Stern was raised in the United States. He began violin lessons at 8 and made his orchestral debut with the San Francisco Orchestra at 16. He went on to become one of the most famous violin virtuosi of the 20th century, known as a highly acclaimed interpreter of standard repertoire, as well as a champion of new works by contemporary composers. 

In 1960, Stern helped derail plans to demolish New York's famed Carnegie Hall. He played more than 175 performances in the hall, renowned for its acoustics.

Stern also performed with the New York Philharmonic orchestra more than any other violinist in history. He often played a rare 18th-century Italian Guarnerius del Gesu violin. 

During World War II, Stern toured Europe, entertaining thousands of American troops. 

One of his most famous performances was in Jerusalem during the Gulf War, in 1991. Sirens sounded and the concert stopped while the audience donned gas masks, fearing an Iraq missile attack. Stern then returned to the stage, without a gas mask, to play a Bach solo, as scheduled. 

Mass media have forsaken their obligations
By Edward Winslow

As with most Americans in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the news media are lining up with President Bush to fight the good fight against terrorists, but in so doing journalists have forgotten that their job is to ask questions and report the facts.

In The New York Times reporters Jim Rutenberg and Bill Carter remark about the broadcast media’s new images of American flags in the graphics at CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

Networks have sensationalized the events with emblazoned titles on the TV screens that read: "America’s New War" and "America on Alert."  Dan Rather is seen on The David Letterman Show crying and saying if the president wants him to line up, he should just tell him where. On a Fox News Broadcast the news anchor tells the German ambassador that we look   forward to working with Germany to wipe out these terrorists.

Many argue that this recent wave of patriotic emotion in the media is a good thing because it shows that reporters and newsreaders are human beings, too. Yet the news media, formerly known as objective and curious and even suspicious and cynical, have morphed into a public information office for the Bush Administration. As evidence, just tune into one of the   government’s news briefings that are broadcast on C-SPAN.  The media wait like hungry dogs on the back porch for some arrogant bureaucrat to give them their daily news story.

The media have forgotten their trademark questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. 

A personal view on war

They take the government’s word that Osama bin Laden is responsible for the recent attacks. The press doesn’t ask why the government thinks so. They don’t ask, "Where’s the evidence that bin Laden is the mastermind?"

And if bin Laden is responsible, the press doesn’t ask how could the U.S. government assemble, train and supply zealots like him in Afghanistan without thinking ahead about the consequences of these policies.

They don’t ask what it means when Bush says this war "will not end until every terrorist group of global reach as been found, stopped and defeated."  He goes on to say that he is willing to spend "whatever it takes" to end terrorism in the world. 

What does this mean to Americans?  What other plots might terrorists cook up for us, and how will multi-front war against an enemy that is not identified impact the world’s economy, environment and populations?  It’s time for the press to wake up and start doing its job.

If truth is the first casualty of war, then the press is already dead.

Edward B. Winslow is a freelance journalist in Denver, Colo. 

We may have been forced into a corner
By Carol Calkins 
of La Fortuna

With my coffee cup in one hand and my little Buddy's leash in the other, I strolled down our unpaved street this morning in the same way I often start my day.  At one house, a young  woman, still clad in her pajamas, was hauling her bag of trash out for today's pickup. 

On the corner, a teenage girl was sitting on the curb quietly pondering whatever teenage girls ponder around here. In front of another house, a new father was standing in the sunshine, quietly rocking an infant in his arms. The neighborhood was its usual self — peaceful, innocent, and untouched by violence or hatred. 

I reflected on my previous rather judgmental comments about how Ticos indulge their children in the extreme compared to our standards.  I recalled the time when an entire busload of people sat quietly waiting while one boy went to the store for snacks for his unruly and very annoying younger brother who had pitched a temper fit. 

I remembered watching to see who would show the first signs of irritation and never finding any except the irritation that I felt. I remembered the drunk at the festival last February who was not hauled off in handcuffs in a cruiser with flashing lights but, rather, was simply escorted home by a couple of the neighborhood police who remained in good humor. 

I thought about how people park on the wrong side of the street out of convenience and how other people tolerate it, never interpreting it as an affront to law and order. I remembered how often drivers stop in the road to chat, thereby clogging up traffic and irritating no one except the gringos who think they have something important to do. 

Here is the list of the worst things that have happened in this area since we moved here in May of last year: 

A whitewater rafting accident involving a gringo "expert" who died, a   canopy-tour accident involving another gringo "expert" who also died, a volcanic eruption which found some tourists much 

A personal view on terrorism

too close, a couple of lookie-loo pilots who 
apparently forgot about flying too close to volcanoes and crashed, a teenaged boy who managed to get in the way of a car on the road late at night and was killed, and the sister of a good friend who died from cancer. 

While all of these events were very sad and disruptive, none involved violence or hatred, and most related to some fun-loving gringo who left his or her brains on the plane. The commitment and courage of the rescue teams who climbed the volcano to bring back the bodies were understated but will always be remembered. 

Maybe I'm rambling here, but terrorism does a lot of strange things to people, including making them ramble. For me, it is renewing my appreciation for what is good around me. 

Through the years, I have repeated my mantra that "within every adversity there is some  advantage" to the point where good friends have often gotten sick of hearing it and have rolled their eyes so often that I've worried if they might not get stuck that way.  But to not find the good within the adversity simply means that we lose twice. To me, it is senseless and obscene. 

It may be that there truly is nothing we can do to prevent more destruction and pain in the course of dealing with this business of terrorism. The reality appears to be that we have been forced into a corner and have no choice but to do what we can to defend ourselves. 

We didn't create the problem, we don't have a perfect solution, and we can't just do nothing. So, in the course of doing whatever we must, I hope we can manage to recognize the good around us and to cherish it. 

And, as my mother would advise, "Keep on keeping on." 

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