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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 191                          Email us
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A.M. Costa Rica photos/Kayla Pearson
The entryway is nearly finished, although much of the walkway remains undone.
Portal to San Jose's Calle Chino is nearly completed
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This portal is the new look on Avenida 2 as the proposed Calle Chino takes place. The entry is exactly what has been proposed in plans, including the stone balls to be placed around the pillars.

The location is Calle 9, also known as the Paseo de los Estudiantes. The 600 meters stretch will be a walkway decorated with Chinese lamps. The cost is about $1.4 million with the government of the People's Republic picking up much of the tab. The biggest promoter of the project is San Jose's mayor, Johnny Araya Monge.

The stone balls are not to be confused with the  pre-Columbian spheres found in southwestern Costa Rica. These spheres have been imported from China, said workmen Monday. They had the job of polishing and sanding the spheres, which will be placed around key points of the entryway.

The project has been controversial in that some of the residents would prefer that the street remain the way it was. The idea is to create a cultural space for the many Chinese immigrants who have 
 Workmen prepare the imported stone spheres for
 placement around the entryway to Calle Chino.

settled and opened businesses along Paseo de los Estudiantes.

The project is expected to be done early next year.

That will be a relief to motorists and taxi drivers who have had to confront ripped up sections of road while traveling on the cross streets.

20 more tourism police officers have basic English
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 20 more tourist police officers have completed a course in the basics of the English language.

They join some 150 of their colleagues who speak a second language, according to the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

The 20 awarded certificates Monday studied at the  Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano under 
the sponsorship of the British Embassy, said the ministry. They will be working in Guanacaste.

Officials said that the Policía Turística  has 300 members. It is a new unit formed in the previous administration of Óscar Arias Sánchez specifically to help visitors and keep a close eye on places where they might congregate.

The ministry said that other officers speak French, Italian and Mandarin.

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Our reader's opinion
Ticos do not understand
the impact of more taxes

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I wonder if Costa Ricans don’t understand that companies that have money, are big, they got that way by being very frugal with their monies?

In this article, “Survey says Ticos would tax tourism, hotels and big firms more,” it appears that they do not understand what this would have with cause and effect of more taxes. Those that think hotels and big business will take up the slack for the government's poor handling of monies and not collecting taxes already imposed will fix their problems, IT WON’T.

A hotel will do one of a couple of things which includes raising charges, which will discourage folks from coming to Costa Rica, which will eventually cause some hotels to close, some will have to cut staff. That will mean loss of jobs and tax base monies.

Adding taxes to the tax free zone will cause those companies to leave Costa Rica. That is what attracted them here in the first place. They will leave and that means loss of jobs which means loss of income taxes from the higher paying jobs.

More taxes on high end foods will mean folks will buy less of those foods, which will cause loss of jobs, fishing boats out of business and farmers losing income. The trickle down means the loss of many other jobs as well. It will affect truckers, construction workers, businesses that support all of these different companies and welfare.

All of these companies are very aware of Costa Rica’s poor handling of tax monies and their failure to collect all taxes due. They are smart companies, and they look at these problems as poor business/government management. Now Ticos think others should pay for the problems of the poor government officials that the Ticos have voted into office. It doesn’t work in the U.S.A. and it won’t work here either.  

Art Sulenski
Los Angeles Sur

Theater will host show
featuring tango performance

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Teatro Jacó will conclude what has been a busy month with two performances of Compañia Tango Inmigrante's "Corazón de Tango," this weekend.

The show that tours around the country promises to combine acting, dancing and music together in a passionate display of Latin art and culture.

Compañia Tango Inmigrante will perform the show twice this weekend, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. General admission is 5,000 colons, but VIP tickets are also available for 10,000 colons and include two drinks.

This will be the fourth and final show to pass through Teatro Jaco this month. The theater's next show will not be until late October, when it hosts the one-woman show, “Jamaica Farewell,” an autobiographical play performed by the author about her journey as a teenager to enter the United States.

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
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 191
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Stomach virus hitting old and young to make life painful
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A particularly nasty stomach virus is making the rounds, and expats are not being spared. The most vulnerable are the elderly and the young. Public clinics and hospitals have reported an unusually high number of persons with such symptoms.

One expat said he felt like he was punched in the stomach, and that began 36 hours of pain and unease. "I felt like I swallowed a raccoon, an angry raccoon," he said. An older expat woman said she felt she was having another child.

The virus seems to express itself differently for every sufferer. Another expat said he thought he was having a heart attack because the first sharp pains began in the chest.

The Hospital del Niños has reported a spike in diarrhea, mostly among children under 5. Such a condition can be dangerous if not treated with plenty of fluids. The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social plans to report today on the extent of the problem throughout the country.

For adults the virus seems to run its course in about 36 hours and leaves the victim exhausted.

A good bet is that the current wave is another manifestation of a rotavirus which has caused similar outbreaks in the past. The U.S. National Institute of Health calls the condition viral gastroenteritis, which is a medical name for stomach flu. A full description is HERE!

The basic treatment is to grin and bear it with regular intakes of fluid. The goal is to avoid dehydration.
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Another quake hot spot appears in northeast Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican earthquake experts report that the Sept. 5 event in the Pacific Ocean appears to have stimulated a formerly unknown fault in extreme northeast Costa Rica.

The Red Sismológica Nacional, Costa Rica said that there have been nine earthquakes in a very small area between 5:55 p.m. Saturday and 7:49 a.m. Monday. The location is near the disputed Isla Calero and in the area of the Río Colorado.

The quakes ranged in magnitude from 3.1 to 3.9. The Red, which is based on the Universidad de Costa Rica, said that there are few persons in the area and that there are no reports of humans having felt the quakes.

There is a sensing device in Tortugero that kept track of the quakes, the Red said. Typically this is an area of few earthquakes, although historical references speak of quakes in the 17th century that caused changes in the Rio San Juan to the extent of making it unnavigable for larger ships, said the Red.

Isla Calero is the land that is disputed by Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The case is in the World Court.

In other earthquake-related news, the Observatorio Vucanológico y Sismológico at Universidad Nacional in Heredia restated its prediction that there probably would be another major earthquake in the Nicoya area. The statement by the Observatorio scientists had been questioned by other quake experts.
Red dots show estimated epicenters of nine quakes

The Observatorio said that its scientists have been studying the area for two decades along with international experts.

The Observatorio also has many sensing stations there.

Last Sept. 11 Marino Protti and Víctor González of the Observatorio gave that prediction at a press conference. The Observatorio said it stood behind the words of its scientists and would not discuss the matter further.

Protti has been very active in preparing Nicoya residents for strong earthquakes.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 191
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Industry leaders come together to oppose Colombia free trade
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As Costa Rica and Colombia began the second round of negotiations to establish a free trade agreement Monday, five chambers representing different industries in Costa Rica urged the government to abandon these efforts.

The presidents of the chambers, representing manufacturing industries, said that both countries are competitors that produce similar products. However, Colombian manufacturers can make those products cheaper than Costa Rica, they said.

Led by Juan Ramón Rivera, president of the Cámara de Industrias de Costa Rica, the presidents condemned a laissez-faire type of agreement, which would leave local manufacturers without a home-field advantage.

They say that the two countries should not have an agreement at all, but Costa Rica must at least place a tariff on manufactured goods imported from Colombia.

“We believe that they have many competitive advantages with respect to our sector and there is a large group of industries and sectors that are against the treaty,” explained Rivera. “They are asking that their products be excluded from the treaty.”

In recent years, administrators of the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior have been attempting to broaden Costa Rica's global trade partners by establishing free trade agreements with new partners around the world.

During the Óscar Arias Sánchez and Laura Chinchilla administrations, Costa Rica has agreed to or began negotiating free trade agreements for the first time with China, Singapore, the European Union, the European Association, Peru and Colombia.

In a statement regarding the ministry's international trade deals, spokespersons of the ministry said that these agreements are tools to diversify and grow the economy. They said that the treaties have accomplished this goal. According to the statement, 400,000 Costa Ricans are working in 2,100 local companies that export their products as of 2010.

According to the ministry, the agreement with Colombia will allow Costa Rica to become a full member in the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American free trade bloc. Right now, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile are full members while Costa Rica and Panamá are partial members.

Although manufacturing industries have benefited from many of these treaties, their operators have worried about others.

Monday morning, the presidents of five chambers gathered to oppose the treaty. They were from the Cámara de Industrias de Costa Rica, the Cámara Costarricense de la Industria Alimentaria, the Asociación Costarricense de la Industria
Plástica, the Asociación de Fabricantes Metalmecánicos y Metalúrgicos de Costa Rica and the Asociación de la Industria Gráfica Costarricense.

José Manuel Hernando, president of the food industry chamber, explained that the free trade treaties are helpful when one country needs the products of the other. He cited the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States as an example of a mutually beneficial agreement.

Colombia, however, makes similar products as many of Costa Rica's manufacturers, and, therefore, the businesses do not complement one another's industries.

“The United States is a client,” said Hernando. “Colombia is a country that is a competitor. Their supply is very similar to ours.”

The business leaders are concerned that Colombian manufacturers have lower overhead costs than their Costa Rican counterparts. They said that Colombia has access to cheaper energy, raw materials and labor as well as easier access to Costa Rican ports and greater production capabilities.

These benefits make products from Colombia cheaper than the same product from Costa Rica. If the government removes the tariffs on Colombian products, Costa Rican manufacturers will lose their local competitive advantage, they said.

On the other hand, importing Colombian manufactured goods without imposing tariffs on them would give a better deal to Costa Rican consumers.

Rivera said that manufacturers were similarly concerned when Costa Rica negotiated a free trade agreement with China. However, he said that the government eventually kept tariffs in place on Chinese manufactured goods to protect the local industries.

Hernando said that the government should look to the agreements it already has made before making new ones.
“What we want is to deepen the existing treaties,” he said.

The ministry has held two rounds of forums with a variety of sectors effected by the treaty. In these forums, ministry officials consult business people from different industries to hear their views. This is standard procedure for each treaty. The next one will be in October.

The second round of negotiations between Costa Rica, which began Monday, will deal primarily with procedural and regulatory mechanisms of the agreement between the two countries. It will also deal with telecommunications and electronic trade. This round will last until Thursday.

The ministry will host a panel on Wednesday to talk about the commercial opportunities open to Costa Rican businesses in Colombia.

Another passenger dies in collision near Zurquí tunnel
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another person has died on Ruta 32, according to the Judicial Investigation Organization.

The victim was identified as a 70-year-old woman who was traveling toward San José.

The mishap took place at noon near the Zurquí tunnel, said the
agency. The vehicle in which the woman was a passenger crossed the centerline and collided with an ambulance going the other way. Vehicles behind the ambulance also became involved in the collision.

Two persons died about 1 p.m. Sunday in approximately the same spot when a car slid out of control and into the path of a truck. Killed were a couple in their 80s. Their son was the driver.

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Shrinking Arctic ice now
at lowest point ever recorded

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The extent of Arctic sea ice this week shrunk to a new low in the era of satellite record-keeping that began in 1979. The increased expanse of water near the top of the world could have implications for global shipping, wildlife and even international diplomacy.

Polar bears hunt seals from sea ice, but could drown if forced to swim long distances in open water. Satellite photos released by America’s space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, illustrate the daunting threat to such bears. An image shows the amount of Arctic Sea ice in 1979. Another shows the record minimum set this year on Sept. 16. The shrinkage is equivalent to an area greater than Texas, an impossible distance for even the mightiest polar bear to swim.

Scientists say fossil fuels are increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere. This not only warms the oceans, but threatens biodiversity in cold and warm waters alike.

“As we increase the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a high proportion, about 40 percent of that, goes back into the ocean, and so it’s increasing the acid content of the ocean and that’s threatening coral reefs,” said Ben Orlove, a Columbia University climate research scientist.

Orlove notes that the demise of coral reefs subsequently threatens fisheries around them.

Scientists at a recent symposium at Columbia University’s Earth Institute said less ice is likely to draw some shipping away from the Panama Canal. This is because a northern route, though still hazardous, reduces the distance between Europe and Asia by about 6,500 kilometers.  

Anne Siders of Columbia’s Center for Climate Change Law said countries bordering the Arctic are not the only ones with interests there.

“There certainly will be interest in the Arctic from nations that don’t touch physically on the Arctic. That’s very clear for natural resources, for fishing, for a variety of reasons,” said Ms. Siders.

Energy supplies are among those reasons. Ms. Siders says China and Japan are seeking influence — so far unsuccessfully — in the Arctic Council, an international forum of eight countries that border the Arctic.

The U.S. is really a nation
of many varieties of beer

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The refreshing, intoxicating and fattening malt beverage, beer, dates back at least 6,000 years, to the Babylonians. 

The Czechs, at 132 liters per person per year, take that prize for the most beer per capita. Americans rank 12th behind such nations as Slovenia and Venezuela.

But no nation, anywhere, brews more different kinds of beer than the U.S.A.  There probably are 100 varieties of lagers and pilsners, ales and porters and stouts.

As one travels across the United States, visitors would run into: wheat beers, rye beers, barleycorn beers, bock beers, lite beers, all sorts of seasonal beers, low-carb beers, and beers flavored with the essence of everything from blueberry to pumpkin to chili.
Americans brew red ales, amber ales, golden ales, blonde ales, cream ales, and something called India pale ales, which aren’t from India at all but were first brewed in Britain for export to its India colony. 

A few years ago, the Miller Brewing Co., now known as MillerCoors, made a clear beer until it discovered people prefer a rich, caramel color and a frothy head on their beers.

And Anheuser-Busch, America’s biggest brewer — which is now Belgian-owned — is pushing a beer packed with 54 milligrams of caffeine in every 355-milliliter can. 

Even though Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and a couple of other big breweries have bought out many of their competitors and dominate sales, there are more than 500 smaller craft breweries, as they’re called, plus thousands of local brewpubs making beer in small batches.
Many of these breweries have developed a loyal following using social media and imaginative marketing. The wacky names of some of their beers, such as Bad Frog, Dead Armadillo, and Weeping Radish Amber Lager, have caught the attention of beer buyers at bars, restaurants and retail checkout stands. 

American humorist Dave Barry wrote: “Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”

Iranians reports government
blocks many Google sites

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Iranian Internet users are reporting many popular Google products, including its email service Gmail, have been blocked.

Users in Iran reported Monday that Google Search was still available, but any product that required signing into an account was blocked. This included Gmail, Google Drive, Google Talk and others.

“Google is not accessible on https, but it's open on http,” a Tehran-based computer science graduate said in a Facebook interview.

Web sites using https are considered secure, while http sites are susceptible to monitoring by virtually anyone, including governments.

The curbs on the Google products were announced in a mobile phone text message quoting Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an adviser to Iran's public prosecutor's office and the secretary of an official group tasked with detecting Internet content deemed illegal.

"Due to the repeated demands of the people, Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide. They will remain filtered until further notice," the message read.

An Iranian group called Islamic Republic Virtual Activists issued a statement Sunday urging Internet users not to use Google services on Monday and Tuesday, following the appearance of the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" and a French magazine’s publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, according to the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency.

The statement accused authorities in the United States and other Western countries of blocking Islamic sites on their Internet services and providing cover for Google, Facebook and other social networks supervised by what it called the Zionists.
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Police capture suspects
in Cahuita car burglary

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police detained two women Friday on suspicion of breaking into vehicles in Playa Cahuita. They found that one of the women is a fugitive from an eight-year narcotics sentence, they said.

The Fuerza Pública said its officers were alerted by Costa Rican tourists at the beach. The tourists gave a description of the vehicle and said that a portable computer had been stolen.

Officers of the Policía Turística spotted the suspect vehicle about 35 minutes later heading towards Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, they said. Upon stopping the vehicle officers said they determined that it had been reported stolen in Alajuelita. They alleged that a woman in the car tried to bribe them with the very same computer that had been stolen from the tourist.

The two women were jailed for investigation.

Two more telephone lines
set up for fingerprinting

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry has put into service two new telephone lines for persons to call to make an appointment for fingerprinting. That brings the total number of lines to four. They are open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The crush to be fingerprinted is a result of  a special immigration amnesty that affects mainly Nicaraguans living in the country. However, some U.S. and Canadian expats who are 65 or older and are living in the country illegally for at least five years also can apply.

The new numbers are 2226-2303 and 2286-2355. The numbers previously announced and still valid are  2586-4147 and 2586-4600. The ministry noted that those involved in the immigration process must make an appointment. But individuals seeking fingerprinting for gun permits can just show up.

In addition the ministry is setting up fingerprinting services at all its offices in the country.

Tourist dies in Montezuma

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A tourist died over the weekend and was found with his head and part of his torso immersed in a washing machine at a hotel in Montezuma, according to Judicial Investigating Organization officials.

The man, identified by agents as 43-year-old Andrew Budds, died at around 10 p.m. Saturday when his friends went searching for him after he walked away from a party.

Budds was on vacation in Costa Rica with a group of friends. They were watching a soccer game together at the Hotel Lys in Montezuma before the incident.

Agents expect more information after they receive the results of an autopsy.

San Pedro circle being fixed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The road agency said that workmen will be stripping asphalt off the traffic circle at the Fuente de Hispanidad in San Pedro from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday and putting down new material. They suggest that motorists use alternate routes.

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