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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 190                          Email us
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Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica graphic 
Map shows the cluster of moderate quakes around Sámara and Nosara.
Repeated shocks do not faze Pacific coast residents
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nearly three weeks after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake, the Guanacaste region continues to be rocked by light to moderate tremors, including more than a dozen of a magnitude greater than 4.5.

While the uncomfortable regularity of these quakes has kept some people apprehensive, many members of the Pacific beach community of Nosara have accepted the earth movements as part of a new routine and have carried on with business as usual.

As with most of the country, the initial Sept. 5 earthquake inflicted little physical damage on the community, allowing its population to continue on very quickly.

“The buildings didn’t suffer any damage, and we went back to normal straight away as soon as we cleaned up the broken bottles,” said Matt Hazelton, general manager of the Gilded Iguana Hotel and Restaurant.

Nosara is a collection of several beach communities on the Pacific Coast side of the Nicoya Peninsula. It is about 20 to 30 kilometers north of where the Sept. 5 earthquake occurred.

Since that quake, many of the dozens of aftershocks have had epicenters in close proximity to Nosara. According to the Web site of the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica, 15 earthquakes of 4.5 or greater magnitude have occurred in Nicoya Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas since the first one. This includes two that occurred last weekend.

The latest, according to the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica at the Universidad de Costa Rica, were:

At 8:56 a.m. Sunday in the Pacific at a point halfway between Sámara and Nosara. The magnitude was 4.7.

At 3:35 p.m. Sunday in the Pacific west northwest of Nosara. The magnitude was 4.4

While tremors are common here as the Cocos tectonic plate slips underneath the Caribbean, quakes of 7.6 are very rare. Most people were surprised that so many buildings and homes were spared significant damage.

“It was amazing there was so little damage here given the magnitude of the earthquake,” said Bobbi Johnson, who runs a house rental business in town. “I take care of 15 homes and there wasn’t structural damage in any of them.”

Although there were no deaths or serious injuries in the quake, Hazelton said that a few homes in the community did suffer significant damage.

“There were some people who were less fortunate than us who lost a good portion of their homes or their homes were destroyed,” he said.
In the case of the Mini Super Delicias del Mundo, a small market in Playa Guiones, the damage from fallen products was what hurt the business the most, said employee Javier Norguera.

“Many things fell,” he said about the September earthquake.

However, Norguera said that since then the store has installed small barriers on their product shelves and the damage of subsequent quakes has been very minor.

Despite little physical damage for most people, the constant shakes have affected people in different ways. Some continue to be prepared to evacuate in case of a tsunami.

“People are still pretty on edge,” said Ms. Johnson. “People are sleeping in their clothes with bags by the door.”

Conversely, others have been largely unperturbed by the earthquakes. Hazelton was out surfing the morning of Sept. 5. He said  this may have given him a different sense of the subsequent tremors.

“I definitely felt it, and it was an interesting experience, but my wife says 'Since you weren’t on land and didn’t see the buildings shaking, it wasn’t as frightening as it was for other people,’” he said.

About 25 kilometers southeast is the town of Sámara, which was six kilometers from the Sept. 5 epicenter, the transfer back to normal has been even smoother.

Rosy Rios, who co-owns the Hideaway Hotel in Sámara, said that day that her hotel only suffered minor cosmetic changes.

Since that day she has felt only a few of the aftershocks, but they have been very mild overall.

“When people say there’s thousands of them, you get the sense that it’s shaking all the time,” said Ms. Rios.

Furthermore, she said that there is virtually no evidence in her hotel or in town that the quake ever happened.

“Right now, anybody who came into this hotel wouldn’t even notice there was an earthquake,” Ms. Rios said. “Even though our structure is better than most, I haven’t noticed much damage even in the older buildings.”

Reports following the quake said that two homes were destroyed in Sámara and 10 persons suffered injuries. Another hotel suffered about $6,000 in damage, its operator reported.

With the few damages now repaired, both towns are set to handle the upcoming peak-tourist time. Despite the earthquakes, both Hazelton and Ms. Johnson said that no one has cancelled their reservations during the high-season that will start to in November.

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Three collisions with trucks
claim lives of six persons

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two of five persons traveling in a passenger car died as a result of a collision with a truck early Sunday. The other three occupants were said to be critically injured.

This was one of three accidents that took six lives over the weekend. In each case a passenger car collided with a truck.

A woman passenger died in a crash on Ruta 32. She was in a vehicle that was going from Limón to San José, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. A man also in the vehicle died later in the Hospital de Guápiles. This spectacular crash happened about  5: 30 a.m. at Río Blanco when the passenger car collided head-on with a truck headed to Limón. The truck driver lost control and his vehicle collided with two buses and then ignited.

Two more persons died about 1 p.m. Sunday when a car slid out of control, also on Ruta 32, but near the Zurquí tunnel. Killed were a couple in their 80s. Their son, the driver was hospitalized at Hospital Calderón Guardia.

The vehicle containing the elderly couple was traveling toward San José and skidded across the road. A truck going in the opposite direction plowed into the right side of the lighter car.

Truck cab yields body

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire fighters made a grim find when they put out a blaze that had engulfed a truck in the area known as 28 Millas in Limón.

Inside the cab was the body of a man. Investigators determined that the man had been bound hands and feet. Still unknown is if he was alive when someone torched the truck cab.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the man was not identified immediately and that the ownership of the truck car was still unknown.

Our reader's opinion
Proposed wildlife tax
to generate ample funds

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Setting aside the validity to protect wildlife, this proposed new tax has quite a generous starting point: $7 for every vehicle registered in Costa Rica (how many millions of cars does this represent at $7 a pop?); every payment for municipal taxes will be $7 more costly, and every construction permit issued will now have an added fee.  I assume this is not a one-time but annual tax augmentation.  It can be assumed since it is on base salary, it will increase each year.  Will there be a new ministry formed to regulate the mission and what will be left for wildlife protection after administration costs?  Just wondering. 

Mary Jay

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
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 190
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Survey says Ticos would tax tourism, hotels and big firms more
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If average Costa Ricans had their way, more taxes would be levied on tourism, big companies and professionals. They also would tax the free trade zones.

That's the result of a survey of 700 persons done by experts at Tecnológico de Costa Rica. Big companies were the biggest target. Some 84 percent of those surveyed agreed that the firms should be taxed more. Some 74.4 percent said that professionals also should be taxed more, and 39.7 percent said that medical professionals should only be paid by credit card and 61.0 percent favored electronic facturas.

Both systems allow the government tax authorities to keep close track of income.

Nearly 60 percent, 58.3 percent, said that tourist packages should be taxed more, and 50.3 percent said that hotels should pay higher taxes.

Some 45.3 percent of those surveyed also thought that there should be more tax on shrimp, lobster, salmon, prime cuts of meat and imported fruits. Some 42.3 percent would tax private schools, and 22.3 percent would tax private medical care. Hardly anyone wanted to tax clothes or the basic food basket.
Some 92.1 percent of the respondents said that tax exonerations should be ended, and 90.9 percent urged strengthening of the tax collecting administration to reduce evasion.

Some 44 percent approve creating new taxes.

The average salary of those contacted was 250,000 colons a month, about $500. That is right at the average salary of Costa Rican employees. The survey reflected their desire that others and not themselves be taxed and that those who do not send their children to public school or receive medical care from the free state-run Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social should pay more in taxes.

Some 89.7 would cut government spending for items that were not a priority, and eight out of 10 would cut spending for political parties. Some 60.4 percent would sell holdings of the state to generate more cash for the government.

Some 74 percent said they would freeze the salaries and pensions of high earners as well as per diem payments to members of public boards of directors.

The responses closely followed proposals by President Laura Chinchilla, including approval by to increase penalties for tax evasion.

Fake bills are making the rounds in Guanacaste, police report
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even though the new bills issued by the Banco Central are supposed to be very difficult to copy, in the low light of a bar or dance club fakes can pass for real. There has been a wave of fake currency in Guanacaste, but police managed to confiscate more than 700,000 in bad bills over the weekend. Two men were detained.

The fake bills are a mixture of old and new currency. Crooks appear to have copied even the new 50,000-colon note. One turned up Friday in Guayabo de Bagaces.

Then Saturday some bad bills turned up in several bars, and police were notified. Officers in a patrol car located a vehicle in the vicinity of the sports plaza in Villarreal de Tamarindo.

A short time later they encountered the occupants of the vehicle in the community hall making a purchase with what was reported to be bad bills.

Upon searching one of the men, officers reported that they found a stash of fake bills hidden in the man's underwear, In all there was 727,000 colons in fake bills, about $1,475, they said.
fake money
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Here are the bills that were confiscated Saturday

The Banco Central has details on the security features in the new bills on its Web site.

Historical project compiled clips about the Campaña Nacional
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They say that daily journalism is the first rough draft of history. Frequently the work surfaces as a primary historical resource.

Such is the case with the Campaña Nacional in 1856 and 1857. That was the effort headed by then-president Juan Rafael Mora Porras to prevent the forces of U.S. filibusterer William Walker from taking over Central America.

A group of historians and others interested in that period have compiled newspapers, magazines and even the Costa Rican
official bulletin of the period. The work was unveiled Friday. Banco Nacional is a sponsor.

Also included are news reports from U.S. newspapers at the time.  Industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt was deeply involved in the war between the Central American states and the Walker regime in Nicaragua. There also was strong interest in the southern United States because Walker supported slavery.

The book is the work of the Héroe Olvidado or "forgotten hero" project to rescue the historical facts of the campaign and to reinforce national values, said a release.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 190
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Petroglyphs ong
Representative works are seen with the original glyph that inspired the painting.
Early Costa Ricans are the influence for modern interpretations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Native groups in early Americas were artists, too. They used stone to express themselves. What they hoped to say has been lost to the ages, but a group of 25 artists have recreated some of the ancient work in time for a show that opens Saturday.

The show is "The Petroglyphs of the Orosí Volcano: The Hidden Messages of Ancestral and Contemporary Art."

Said the Hidden Garden Gallery, where the show is to open:

" . . . a group of 25 leading artists have studied and researched these artifacts and were inspired to transform them into visual arts. Recreating original interpretations, and developing new interpretations, the artists hope to perpetually document these relics, which are becoming endangered, and are not easily seen by the Costa Rican communities and tourists."

Participating artists include: Fernando Carballo, Otto Apuy, Florencia Urbina, Emanuel Rodríguez, Leda Astorga, Ana Elena Fernández, Aurelio Vidor, Carlos Hiller, Roberto Lizano, Fabio Herrera, Mario Maffioli, Claudio Vidor, José Jackson  Guadamuz, Rebeca Alvarado Soto, Jonathan Torres, Shi Chang,
Original glyphs
These are original glyphs from the volcano.

Adela Marín, Priscila Aguirre, Angel Lara, Karen Clachar, Sussy Vargas, Juan Carlos Ruiz, Norma Varela, Gabriela García, and Ricardo Alfieri.

Hiller and Ms. Alvarado have organized the show. The show opens at 10 a.m. at the gallery, which is five kilometers west of the Daniel Oduber airport.

Petroglyphs date back at least 15,000 years, but the ones at the Orosi volcano are believed to be about 1,500 years old. That is still well before the arrival of the Europeans to Costa Rica. The glyphs here are more complex than many elsewhere. The feature fish, stylized animals and even what appears to be a shaman.

The artist were influenced by the original glyph and then created their own work.

New Cartago line will have at least four passenger stations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cartago train line when it opens will have passenger stations at Barrio Los Ángeles, Cartago Centro, Ochomogo, Tres Ríos and the existing one in Curridabat.

That was the word from officials over the weekend. There also is a chance that a station will be installed at Taras de San Nicolás.

Workmen are on the job six days a week in order to complete
the $11.5 million project before the end of the year. Although much of the track is down, there are some problems. A coach carring President Laura Chinchilla to independence day ceremonies Sept. 14 jumped the rail on a curve. Although the wheels were quickly jacked back on the rails, officials said that some fine tuning was requried.

Revamping the aged trackage from Curridabat to Cartago is a $6 million job. Nearly all had to be rebuilt by the Instituto  Ferrocarriles de Costa Rica crews. The institute will be purchasing six more self-propelled trains cars for $5.5 million.

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Modern trees might grow
on site of fossilized forest

By the Université de Montréal news service

Global climate change means that recently discovered ancient forests in Canada’s extreme north could one day return, according to Alexandre Guertin-Pasquier of the University of Montreal’s Department of Geography, who is presenting his findings at the Canadian Paleontology Conference in Toronto.

“According to the data model, climate conditions on Bylot Island will be able to support the kinds of trees we find in the fossilized forest that currently exist there, such as willow, pine and spruce. I’ve also found evidence of a possible growth of oak and hickory near the study site during this period.,” Guertin-Pasquier said. “Although it would of course take time for a whole forest to regrow, the findings show that our grandchildren should be able to plant a tree and watch it grow.”

The fossilized forest found on Bylot Island in Nunavut is between 2.6 and 3 million years old according to estimations based on the presence of extinct species and on paleomagnetic analyses. Paleomagentic analysis involves looking at how the Earth’s magnetic field has affected the magnetic sediment in rocks – like a compass, they turn to follow the magnetic poles. Scientists can use this information to date rocks as the history of the movement of the magnetic poles is relatively well known.

Wood samples in the ancient forest have been preserved throughout the eons in peat and by permafrost. “We studied the sediments in the forest and discovered pollen that are usually found in climates where the annual average temperature is around 0 degrees Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit,” Guertin-Pasquier said. By comparison, current average conditions on Bylot Island are around -15°C ( 5°F). The samples were taken from few drill holes 10 centimeters in diameter of one to two meters deep. The harshness of the Arctic winter and the remoteness of the forest mean that scientists have very little opportunity to delve into its secrets.

Even during the summer, the Guertin-Pasquier and his colleagues had to endure extreme conditions such as 80 kph winds. “There is so much mystery that surrounds this forest – for example, how these trees managed to survive the relentless dark of the Arctic winter,” he said, adding that the next steps for this line of research could include looking more closely at other plant remains in order to get a better understanding of what the local flora was.

USAID amid controversy
due to democracy programs

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russian officials say they are ordering the U.S. Agency for International Development to close its operations in the country because U.S. pro-democracy programs have interfered in its elections. While Russia is not the only country to make such claims, U.S. officials say foreign assistance is not used to support political opposition groups, but to increase democratic participation and peacefully resolve disputes and grievances.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the leaders of Russia asked the U.S. for assistance in building a democracy and a market economy.  

Over the past 20 years, election-monitoring groups, human rights organizations, and anti-corruption efforts have been funded in part by USAID, which has provided more than $2.6 billion to Russia.

President Vladimir Putin has now ended USAID's programs, reportedly out of concern they interfere with elections by aiding opposition groups. 

But David Satter, a foreign policy analyst with the Hudson Institute, said USAID programs do not pick political sides. Instead, he said, the programs try to help disenfranchised groups use legal, peaceful and democratic means to get their voices heard.
“The existence of such groups gives to people on the one hand the know-how to defend their rights, and on the other, the conviction that defending their rights is possible,” said Satter.

Earlier this year Egypt’s military leaders overseeing the transition to an elected government attempted to prosecute U.S.-funded pro-democracy and human rights groups. They relented after weeks of heavy diplomatic pressure from the United States.

James Goldgeier, the dean of American University’s School of International Service, said the most vocal critics of U.S. democracy programs often are elite leaders trying to hold onto power in the face of growing popular opposition.

“If you are an authoritarian leader and you have a group that is fostering civil society, you are going to naturally fear that, that funding is helping people who would like you to not be in the . . . not be the ruler anymore,” said Goldgeier.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has also been critical of U.S. pro-democracy efforts, saying they have attempted to undermine his socialist agenda. Goldgeier said the U.S. does indeed promote a different ideology.

“The United States in general tends to support democracy, a market economy, rule of law and protection of human rights. So if those things are at odds with what a particular government might be promoting then there will be a conflict,” he said.

Goldgeier says the U.S. does not pick political sides, but it does support building a framework of democracy that preserves majority rule and minority rights

Ecuador seeks way to quiz
WikiLeaks founder Assange

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ecuador is considering how to make WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange available to Swedish justice officials to answer sex crimes allegations.

Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters Friday officials are weighing whether Assange's statement could be taken at their embassy in London.

Patino says they could also ask Britain if Assange could be transferred to Ecuador's embassy in Sweden for questioning. Assange has been holed up in Ecuador's diplomatic mission in London since mid-June to avoid extradition to Sweden. Britain has said he will be taken into custody if he leaves the mission. 

Assange fears if he is taken to Sweden, he will be turned over to the United States for possible trial. 

Assange angered the U.S. after his WikiLeaks webster released leaked secret military documents and diplomatic cables.
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Consumer enjoyment linked
to use of electronic gadget

By the Washington University news staff

More than 2 million consumers got to gloat Friday about their shrewdness in procuring an iPhone 5, with its larger screen and 200 additional features through its new operating system.

But once the novelty wears off, will they still enjoy their purchase?

It depends on why they bought it, says new research from a marketing professor at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Across five studies and four product domains, Joseph K. Goodman, assistant professor of marketing, found that consumers fail to estimate their feature usage rate before purchasing multifunctional products, which negatively affects product satisfaction.

The study, “Having Versus Consuming: Failure to Estimate Usage Frequency Makes Consumers Prefer Multi-feature Products,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research.

“We propose that consumers focus on having features instead of elaborating on how often a feature will be used, and this can lead to a decrease in product satisfaction,” Goodman says.

He and his co-author, Caglar Irmak, assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, show that this shift in preferences is due to a change in elaboration from using to having features.

“Consumers focus too much on just having the latest features, and don’t spend time elaborating on how often they will use the features,” Goodman says. “When they do actually elaborating on usage, then they tend to buy lower featured products and they tend to be more satisfied with their purchase, regardless of whether they buy a high or low feature product.”

Deer was dead giveaway
in arrest of four hunters

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers detained four men Saturday at Filadelfia, Guanacaste, and said they were in possession of a dead deer.

Police said they had been hunting illegally. In addition to confiscating the deer, police took three shotguns and also confiscated four hunting hounds.

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Jo Stuart
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