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(506) 2223-1327           Published Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 190          Email us
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This snake came acalling at the downtown offices of A.M. Costa Rica in August 2004.  Editors have no idea how it got there.  The Policia Municipal took away the serpent.

Story is HERE!

snakes are us
A.M. Costa Rica file photo

We have nothing to fear except fear itself and bugs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those who live in Costa Rica often hear from friends and relatives who want to know about the bugs and sometimes the snakes.

Their vision of the country is a bit skewed by Indiana Jones movies and television. This is one topic that turns gray the hair of tourism operators.

So it might be comforting to know that a recent
Abejon or june bug
Abejon or june bug
survey showed that only 32 percent of the Costa Rican population admitted to any type of phobia, including snakes and bugs.

Of course, there is a big difference between an irrational fear or phobia  and the legitimate fear of,
say, spiders when the plate-size critter being
confronted looks like she could carry a refrigerator.

The same holds true with snakes. A fear is not abstract when the object of your displeasure is slithering across the floor or hanging on your front gate.

As it turned out the 2010 survey by UNIMER Centroamérica found that 11 percent of the sample said they had a spider phobia and just 10 percent said they had a phobia about snakes. In both cases more men admitted to these fears than women. The marketing research company said that the 2010 results showed 8 percent fewer persons with phobias than a similar survey in 2005. The 2010 study involved 300 persons between 18 and 45. The 2005 study used results from 500 persons.

UNIMER has posted the results to its Web site and invited persons to use the results for free. Another study posted there said that 17 percent of Costa Ricans admitted being paralyzed by earthquakes. That study shows the variability of survey research because only 5.7 percent admitted to this phobia in 2010.

However, the later survey with the higher percentage was taken not long after the May 13 Puriscal earthquake, and paralyzed is not the same as fearing.

UNIMER also provided the words for some phobias
Hobo and dog
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This is a double threat. Some folks have a fear of hobos, but others fear dogs.

in Spanish that might help expats add to their vocabularies:

     • ligofobia: fear of the dark;
     • hiperglofobia: fear of responsibility;
     • hobofobia: fear of bums;
      • hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiafear
            of long words (honest),
      • aerofobia: fear of flying.

Expats might be interested to know that 2 percent of the survey population admitted to having a fear of older persons, while only 1.1 percent said they had a phobia about rats.

The abejones or june bugs that fly in through the window and bounce off the walls, windows, ceiling and floor every year were identified as generating a phobia by 2.2 percent of the survey population. Some 3.3 percent said they felt the same way about cockroaches.

Some 4.1 percent confessed an irrational fear of the sea. Rational fear of the sea is justified, no matter what tourism operators might say. The rip tides on many Costa Rican beaches take lives every year, so tourists better stick to lifeguard-protected beaches or sound out local opinion before going in over the ankles.

Curiously, more persons admitted a phobia about toads than rats.

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Día de las Culturas moved
to create three-day break

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is another three-day holiday coming.

The Consejo Superior of the Poder Judicial is the latest entity to rule that workers in that branch of government should take Monday, Oct. 17, off. The normal day to celebrate Día de las Culturas is Oct. 12, which is a Wednesday this year.

Other branches of government are expected to adopt the same rule.

The Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social already has announced that the holiday will be celebrated Oct.17 for private enterprises. Holidays usually can only be moved around with the approval of the ministry.

So Oct. 17 becomes a holiday with obligatory pay. But that term means nothing to most companies. Most firms still have to give their employees the day off or they have to pay double. Only a small fraction of companies that pay their employees weekly can avoid holiday pay.

Golfito cocaine theft case
goes to trial in Corredores

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nine suspects in the theft of 320 kilos of cocaine from the very offices of the Golfito prosecutor's office go on trial there today.

This is a major case that will receive heavy news coverage from the Spanish-language press. The trial is being held in the  Tribunales de Justicia de Corredores for security.

The suspects include one guard who worked at the Golfito judicial offices, two Fuerza Pública officers and one former officer.

The theft happened March 26, 2009, when a group of men entered the Tribunales de Golfito and removed the cocaine that was being kept as evidence. The thieves loaded the drugs on a nearby boat. The cocaine has not resurfaced.

Judicial police detained one suspect and confiscated some $406,000 in cash as well as euros and colons.

The trial is expected to last two months with the participation of 26 witnesses, said the Poder Judicial.

Since that theft quantities of cocaine that have been confiscated are loaded under heavy guard on a security ministry aircraft and flown to the Central Valley for safe keeping and destruction.

Two Canadians accept
drug smuggling sentences

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two Canadians have accepted abbreviated judicial processes and have been sentenced each to five years and four months in prison.

Both had been arrested in separate incidents in March.

The Canadian who has the last name of Landry tried to leave the country with cocaine hidden in a surf board, police said at the time.  The Poder Judicial said that the Policía de Control de Drogas made the arrest at Juan Santamaría airport.

The second man has the last name of McGlory. He, too, was detained at the international airport when police found 3.5 kilos of cocaine in the false bottom of a briefcase, they said at the time.

Both men were accused of international drug trafficking. Both were headed to Canada.

Newspaper will beef up
its copy reading efforts

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Last week was a tough one for readers who expect accuracy from A.M. Costa Rica.

In a story Thursday about the Sala IV constitutional court finding no fault with the plan to tax the country's corporations, a crucial not was left out of the first sentence for much of the day.

Then in Friday's edition, a reporting error caused a news story to say that a benefit for the Corcovado Foundation would be held Saturday instead of the correct day, Sunday.

A.M. Costa Rica regrets the errors and the management said steps are being taken to beef up the copy editing oversight.

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 HERE!
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 190

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Judiciary produces new manual on intellectual property
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The judiciary has produced a manual of instruction to strengthen understanding and enforcement of intellectual property crimes.

The authors are experts in this area. They were identified as civil judges Alvaro Hernández Aguilar and Guillermo Guilá Alvarado, criminal Judge Marjorie Alvarez Morales and prosecutor Ronald Segura Mena.

Intellectual property laws protect a broad range of creative works, including trademarks, brand names, video, audio, software and printed and written material.

Costa Rica passed legislation to comply with the Free Trade Treaty with the United States and Central America, but intellectual property protection is not well understood.

Among other aspects, the new manual outlines how such crimes should be investigated. Another chapter specifies what actions a judge can take before trial to halt the criminal action.
The most obvious violations of intellectual property are the counterfeit videos, CDs and clothing often sold on the street.

One also can see images of internationally known individuals or movie characters in local television commercials and frequently the use of copyrighted music or written material.

The protection of copyrighted songs has become a hot issue in some areas because bar and restaurant owners are being asked to pay for using the music.

Former president Óscar Arias Sánchez went so far as to issue a decree altering the country's status in an international treaty for the protection of those who were using the songs.

Costa Rica generally is regarded internationally as having adequate laws in this area but limited enforcement.

The new book is titled “Manual para administradoras y administradores de justicia sobre delitos de propiedad intelectual.”

Fuerza Pública confronts an archaeological puzzle
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública has confiscated what appear to be pre-Columbian figures, but they have no idea from where they originated.

The man and a woman who were carrying the items on a public bus are not talking.

Police located the ceramic and stone items on a Siquirres-Turrialba bus that they inspected.

The pieces include clay figures of a man and a woman. There also was what appeared to be a jade necklace and a stone figure of a man and a clay pot.

Police are working on the assumption that the pieces have been stolen, but there are numerous private collections of such material in the country. In addition, there are many replicas that would fool expert eyes.

Many similar items can be found at local flea markets.
four pieces of pre-columbian art
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública
Police would like to know the origin of these pieces

They may be loot from a ransacked house or they could be replicas. Some areas in Guanacaste and several artisans in San José create museum-quality replicas. Most are far more elegant than the items confiscated Saturday night.

Weekend rains lashed Pacific coast towns and caused slides
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Heavy weekend rains have caused damage on the Pacific coast and in some areas of the Central Valley.

There has been flooding, and slides have blocked the Costanera Sur south of Dominical and caused slowdowns on the Interamerican Sur.

Liberia reported 2.8 centimeters of rain Sunday. That's more than an inch. Santa Cruz had about half that.

There was some flooding in vulnerable areas of the Central Valley, too. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional blamed a
low pressure area for bringing humidity into the country. Pacific Hurricane Hilary continued to move up the coast. It never made landfall in Central America, but the effects were felt here.

The U.S. Nacional Hurricane Center reports that Hilary is moving west away from land. In the Atlantic, the center  said that former tropical cyclone Ophelia has degenerated into a mere low pressure zone. And Tropical Storm Phillipe still is in the eastern Atlantic with a likely track taking it north away from the Caribbean.

The Costanera landslide problem is reported to be south of Dominical and north of Uvita.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 190

Luis Milanes hearing is abruptly put off until this Tuesday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A hearing last week in the Luis Milanes-Savings Unlimited case never happened. The hearing was moved to this Tuesday.

There was no explanation given, and notice that the hearing had been delayed was not distributed widely. Some lawyers and some victims of the collapse of the high-interest scheme showed up and were unhappy with the delay.

Luis Milanes, the San José casino king, is seeking to change the agreement he made with a number of investors in order to stay out of jail.  He had agreed to pay $100,000 a month to finance a trust that was trying to sell property he surrendered. The proceeds are supposed to go to the investors who loaned him money that he never paid back.
Other sources said that the situation is confused because some former employees of Milanes are seeking to bring allegations of improper dismissal. Milanes is believed to be seeking to bring actions against them also.

Milanes fired about three dozen top-level employees after it appears that the Judicial Investigating Organization had interviewed some and obtained information on the many Milanes companies.

Milanes, a dual Cuban-U.S. citizen, closed up Savings Unlimited in November 2002 when a number of similar high-interest operations were collapsing. He fled and was gone until June 2009. His casinos in the Central Valley continued to operation in his absence. And the case has dragged on since his arrival on Costa Rican soil.

Police manage to capture suspects in Acosta cable thefts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents in sections of Acosta have been losing fixed telephone service because someone has been stealing the cables.

The Fuerza Pública identified the areas as Bijagual, Teruel,  Las Vegas and Caspirola. Officers began an organized search and managed to stop a pickup loaded with telephone cable Friday morning. They had the help of some Caspirola residents.

Detained with the pickup was a 38-year-old man with the last
names of Ortega Arias.  Others in the truck fled, but police managed to round up three relatives of the driver as the suspects. They arrested his brother, 36, and his two sons, 14 and 17, according to police.

The family lives in El Rosario de Desamparados, police said.

Police said they conducted a search and managed to turn up a large quantity of telephone cable hidden in the landscape. Police said the pickup contained 3 kilometers of cable and that the total amount confiscated was 7 kilometers worth some 30 million colons, nearly $60,000.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 190

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Endurance swimmer quits
half way to Florida

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad has abandoned her latest attempt to swim the 166 kilometers from Cuba to the southern U.S. state of Florida. The distance is about 103 miles.

Making the journey without the benefit of a shark cage, the 62-year-old Ms. Nyad had reached the halfway point despite suffering painful stings by Portuguese man o' war jellyfish.  But medics warned her that with toxins from the stings building up in her body, another sting could be life-threatening.

She set out from Havana, Cuba, Friday in her third attempt to reach Key West across the treacherous Straits of Florida.

Ms. Nyad made her second cage-less attempt last month before an asthma attack forced her out of the water. Had she completed the swim, she would have established a new record for open-water swimming without a shark cage.

Australian swimmer Susan Maroney, 22, became the first person to swim from Cuba to the United States in 1997, though with the use of a shark cage.

Ms. Nyad made her first attempt in 1978 when she was 28 years old, but ended it because of high winds and rough seas.

Students again clash
with riot police in Chile

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Thousands of student demonstrators calling for education reform in Chile clashed with riot police Thursday in the capital of Santiago.

Police fought off protesters with tear gas and arrested several of the students, who were participating in a march from the University of Santiago to the presidential palace.

For months, high school and university student protesters have taken to the streets, complaining of what they see as the high cost and low standards of education in Chile.

The latest demonstration comes after a breakdown in talks between the government and student groups.

Protesters want the government to increase funding for public education and freeze education bills now in the Chilean congress. But Chilean government officials say they have already been flexible and refuse to meet all the student's demands.

Dalai Lama puts off plans
to decide about his position

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says he will decide when he is about 90 years old whether he should be reincarnated, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

In a statement Saturday, he said at about 90 he will consult with the high lamas of Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public and other people who follow Tibetan Buddhism to evaluate whether the institution of the dalai lama should continue -- and if there is a need for the 15th dalai lama to be recognized. 

The 14th Dalai Lama, 76, also said China should have no say in whether he is reincarnated.

His comments appeared in a document issued after a gathering of Tibetan Buddhist leaders in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala. Tibet's government-in-exile has operated from Dharamsala since 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

China has often accused the Dalai Lama and his followers of advocating Tibetan secession, despite repeated assurances from the Nobel laureate that he is seeking dialogue with China aimed only at establishing Tibetan autonomy.  In July, the Dalai Lama gave up his role as head of the Tibetan government-in-exile when Harvard-trained scholar Lobsang Sangay was sworn in as the new leader and pledged to sustain the exile movement until freedom is achieved in Tibet.

The  Dalai Lama is an occasional visitor to Costa Rica.

Baboons make choices
using an apparent analogy

By the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
news service

Recognizing relations between relations is what analogy is all about. What lies behind this ability? Is it uniquely human? A study carried out by Joël Fagot of the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive at the Université de Provence and Roger Thompson of Franklin & Marshall College in the United States has shown that monkeys are capable of making analogies. Their results are just published in the journal Psychological Science.

A cat takes care of a kitten and a bird feeds fledglings: although the context is different, these two situations are similar, and an observer can conclude that both cases involve a mother and its offspring. For a long time researchers believed that this type of analogical reasoning was impossible without language and that it was restricted to humans or, at best, great apes that had been taught a language. However, the two scientists have demonstrated that monkeys are capable of making analogies without language.

The two researchers carried out their experiment on 29 baboons (Papio papio) of variable ages, which could freely perform the proposed exercise. This represents a large number of animals for this type of experiment. First of all, the baboons were shown two geometric shapes on a touch screen. For example one screen could show two squares. After they touched one of these shapes, two other pairs of shapes appeared on the screen, such as a triangle and a star for the first pair and two identical ovals for the second pair. To successfully complete the exercise and be rewarded, the animal had to touch the pair representing the same relation of identity or difference as the initial pair. In this case, the correct choice was the two ovals.

In other words, the baboon had to detect relations between relations, which is the definition of analogy. After an intensive learning period covering several thousand tests, six baboons correctly performed the task, thus demonstrating an ability to resolve analogy problems. Furthermore, the researchers suspended the task for nearly one year before proposing it again to the baboons. The animals re-learnt the task much faster than during the initial training, which shows that they remembered the situation.

This work, therefore, supports the idea that language is not necessary to analogy, the scientists said
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 190

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Camera speeding tickets
can be challenged to Oct. 18

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motorists who have been ticketed as a result of the speed trap cameras will have until Oct.17 to appeal. At least that is the current message from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

The ministry said it would be publishing a list of license plates attributed to violators Wednesday in a national newspaper.  Then the list will be published in Friday's La Gaceta official newspaper.

Motorists will then have 10 working days to file their appeal. But because of holidays, the tickets will not be final until Oct. 18, the ministry said.

The ministry also has changed the rules on checking out license plates on its new Web page. The page is But it was not in service early today.

The ministry was requiring individuals to file a document with Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. and obtain a user name and PIN number in order to sign on to the page. Now it appears that motorists can check their plates simply by going to the page when and if it is in operation. If the motorist wants to see a photo of the infraction, he or she will have to submit a form.

Cocaine turns up at beach
near Nosara, Guanacaste

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The sea appears to be giving up some of that cocaine smugglers dumped into the ocean off the Pacific coast.

Tourism police figure that is where the packages containing five kilos of coke originated. Officers got a call and found the packages on Playa Pelada and Nosara. The substance was turned over to the Judicial Investigating Organization for testing.

Costa Rican coast guard crewmen intercepted an apparent drug boat off Punta Guiones, near Flamingo, Guanacaste, Sept. 13 and captured three suspects after a firefight. Officials said that the occupants of the boat began dumping packages into the sea. Some were retrieved.

Canadians plan Thanksgiving

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Canadians are having their Thanksgiving Oct. 9, a Sunday.

The event will be at Zamora Estate Hotel, Santa Ana, from noon until 4 p.m. Tickets are available by email to  and by telephone to 2288-6762, said an announcement.

Members of the Canada Club pay 13,500 colons and non-members pay 500 colons more. Tickets only will be sold in advance, said an announcement.

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