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(506) 2223-1327                    Published Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 194                          Email us
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Mar Vista



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A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson


Sign of times
for capital


This is the first of some 22,000 street signs that will be set up in San José by the municipality under a bank-sponsored program. The idea is to help tourists and make travel in the capital easier.

Our story is



Florida judge retains case against top law firm here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A circuit court judge in Florida has asserted jurisdiction over a civil conspiracy and extortion case even though many of the wrongs alleged happened in Costa Rica. In doing so, the judge rejected a dismissal motion from one of Costa Rica's most powerful law firms whose partners are defendants.

The 14 partners, who were ordered to answer the allegations within 20 days, includes Enrique Castillo, who is the Costa Rican foreign minister.

The decision came in a detailed, 33-page explanation by Judge John W. Thornton.

With one exception, the allegations do not say that the partners of the Facio & Cañas law firm did anything wrong but that the firm stood to profit from the case and that the two principal defendants used their association with the prestigious law firm to further their scheme.

The plaintiff, Craig A. Brand, is seeking triple damages for actions he said caused his Costa Rican pharmaceutical business to fail as well as for false imprisonment, loss of income and mental anguish.

As part of the decision to reject the defendant's motion to dismiss due to lack of jurisdiction, the Miami-Dade County judge held that the Costa Rican legal system was ill-suited to handle the case. The judge's decision does not address the facts in the case, simply in which jurisdiction a jury trial will be held.

Six of the defendants live in Florida and were investors in a Costa Rican business set up by Brand, who had been and still is a Florida lawyer.

The major allegations, as reported earlier HERE, are against Federico Torrealba Navas and Gianna Cersosimo, who Brand identified in his court filing as the two lawyers who conspired against him. The alleged conspiracy and extortion started in 2006 and continued into 2007 when Torrealba became a partner and Ms. Cersosimo became an associate of the Facio & Cañas law firm, according to the complaint.

Cañas and Facio replied to the initial news story HERE! and said the case lacked evidence and probably would be dismissed.

The Facio & Cañas Web site says that Torrealba has represented a large number of economic crime and fraud victims.

Brand was CEO of Farmacia Express Ltda., a chain of drug stores, in Costa Rica and an investor in a medical waste business and a restaurant.  He claims that Torrealba and Ms. Cersosimo conspired with
some of his mostly Florida investors to file false fraud and theft criminal charges in order to extort
money.  As a result they were able to institute a prohibition keeping Brand from leaving Costa Rica on his honeymoon Jan. 3, 2007, and kept him in the country until prosecutors determined there was no evidence to back up the criminal charge. That is where the false imprisonment allegation originates.

Still the two lawyers then filed a private court case alleging the same thing, and that keeps Adriana Soto Kuhn, Brand's new wife, in Costa Rica and keeps him from visiting here, according to his complaint.

In making his decision, the judge considered some 150 emails that had been sent by the two lawyers to the Florida investors and meetings that Torrealba held with his client investors in Florida.

Lawyers for the defendants argued in the motion to dismiss that Florida was an inconvenient forum for them to have a trial and that a similar case was in the Costa Rican courts. One part of the test, the judge noted in his decision is that the defendants had sufficient minimum contacts with Florida such that hearing the case there does not offend traditional notions of fair play and justice.

The judge cited meetings alleged in Florida by Torrealba and Ms. Cersosimo with investors in 2008 and 2009 and concluded that although Brand may have sustained monetary damages in Costa Rica, the injuries originated in Florida with the Florida defendants.

The  judge also noted that allegations of extortion include claims that the two lawyers urged Florida investors to complain about Brand to the Florida Bar Association and to the U.S. Office of Homeland Security and also threatened legal action in Florida.

As to Facio & Cañas itself, the judge noted that the firm has some 50 law clients in Florida.

The judge also was critical of the defendant's motion to dismiss, saying it contains scant facts and no legal opinions that prove that the case should be dismissed.

Brand said earlier that he lacked confidence in the Costa Rican court system and that was why he was pursuing the case in Florida.

Without giving an opinion on the Brand case, A.M. Costa Rica has editorialized against secret impedimentos de salida that those involved in a legal proceeding only find out about at the airport. The newspaper has said that such orders are unfair unless the subject of the prohibition to leave the county is served with a notice and has a chance to counter the decision in court. That editorial is HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 194
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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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Guard firms with Caja debt
face suspension by ministry

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry is cracking down on private guard firms that have not paid their monthly payments to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

In Liberia, Fuerza Pública officers actually detained eight persons who were working as guards at rural properties. The men did not have permission to be guards, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Guard permits are handled by the ministry's Servicios de Seguridad Privada. The ministry said that 111 companies have been removed from the list of approved guard services for their lack of payments to the Caja.

The firm in Liberia for which five Costa Ricans and three Nicaraguans worked owes the Caja 66 million colons or about $132,000.

The Caja is facing rough economic times, and many agencies of the government are moving to bring firms under their jurisdictions into line if they owe money.


Suspect in multiple stickups
detained on Escazú street


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained a 24-year-old man Thursday and said he was responsible for a wave of robberies in San Antonio de Escazú. They also said he may be linked to similar crimes involving businesses in other areas.

Agents said the man was detained about 6 p.m. Wednesday on a public street. They said he was a suspect in the stickup of six businesses in San Antonio alone.

The robber in that community used to enter a business as a customer and then pull a gun. There have been similar crimes in other parts of Escazú and also in Santa Ana, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.


Our reader's opinion
Cable Tica cuts Fox News
and conspiracy suspected


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am pretty shocked that Cable Tica has cut Fox News out of their line up.  I, for one, have discontinued my service with Cable Tica and have ordered SKY.  We all know the main stream media:  CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC all are for the Democratic ticket.  All I can figure is that all this power of the U.S.A. wants to see the U.S.A. go by the way of Greece.  That exactly what will happen if Oboma is voted in president again.  Now, that long arm seems to have reached Costa Rica.  Why would Cable Tica cut Fox News from their lineup?  Is there anyone else that is also mad about Cable Tica doing this?  Does anyone know if Amnet did it also?
 
God help the U.S.A. if my fellow countrymen vote back Obama for another four years.  If you want four more years of high unemployment, $7 a gallon gas, and $7 trillion more debt (if China decides to lend it to us),:  You should vote Obama.  That is exactly what will happen. If you don't want those things:   Please wake up, America, before it is too late.
James Middlebrooks
Cariari, Heredia

Editor's Note; A.M. Costa Rica has established a one-letter limit on readers who wish to express a preference in the U.S. elections. See the rules HERE!

 
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!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary









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Democrats
Radiuo Pacifico weekend
A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 194
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Tico Times kills print edition and will cointinue only online
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tico Times, the struggling English-language weekly, announced online that its print edition today would be its last.

The newspaper recounted major stories in its last 56 years, but also said that the company, owned by Dery Dyer, laid off its 16-member staff Tuesday.

Our opinion
HERE!

The newspaper ran an ad last week announcing that its building in downtown San José was for sale. A letter published in the newspaper's Web site said the publication would emphasize online publication in the future.

The Tico Times already has an online version. To its credit the print edition, like A.M. Costa Rica, contains locally generated news stories and columns, although the online version would frequently lift stories from La Nación, the Spanish newspaper owned by Grupo Nación that printed The Tico Times.

Said the Tico Times "Almost flatteringly, many of the English online vehicles received their material from
Tico Times

plagiarizing stories in The Tico Times and the country’s Spanish publications. Dyer said The Tico Times will  emphasize providing original content at a faster pace online, with an eye to better fulfilling expat needs and continuing to provide fair and honest journalism in the country."

Industry observers estimated that the newspaper was losing at least about $15,000 a month.

The Tico Times never really recovered from the great loss of advertising caused by the 2008 economic downturn and the collapse of the country's real estate market. It is not the first print newspaper to stop publishing due to the economic situation. The Beach Times in Tamarindo also ended print publication shortly after the real estate decline.

The Tico Times said that it would explore new revenue models and also ask for donations from the community to keep going. Ominously, the publication said "Because of the newspaper’s precarious financial situation, the new venture will rely entirely on its ability to attract new funding and generate revenue online."


Lawmakers give first OK for new exit tax for trafficking
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature Thursday passed on first reading a measure that would levy a $1 exit tax to support a bureaucracy to oppose trafficking in persons.

A legislature said that only 20 percent of the money collected would go to administration. The bill does not make clear if the tax would apply to all exits or just those at international airports and sea ports where an exit tax already is collected.

This is the measure that makes illegal transporting persons for the purpose of prostitution even though prostitution is not treated as a criminal offense here.

The measure also established a four- to eight-year prison term for any one who promotes or realizes programs, campaigns or advertisements in whatever media characterizing Costa Rica as a tourist destination accessible for sexual exploitation of prostitution of persons of whatever age or sex.

The measure is No. 17.594. Lawmaker Annie Saborío Mora was quoted in a Partido Liberación Nacional news release
 saying that the tax would apply for entry and exits from the country. She also said that just 20 percent would be used for administration. the release said. Such an allocation did not seem to be in the bill that was approved. Frequently there are variations between what actually was approved and the copy of the current bill on the legislative Web site.

The measure is a rewrite that was submitted in March.

The concept has been in the works for several years, but this is the first time that it arrived at the full legislature for a vote. One more is required.

The measure would set up a national coalition against illegal immigration and trafficking in persons. Figuring prominently in the coalition is Fundación Rahab, the organization that has been going to nightspots with the Fuerza Pública trying to convince prostitutes to adopt other career paths.

Trafficking and other society ills is big business for a number of foundations that get money from the government and from international sources for advertising campaigns and social programs for former prostitutes.


Fancy, new electronic gadgets in moderation are a good thing
This week my son called me on his cell phone via Skype.  I had been going through my files looking for old letters, that is, the carbons of old letters that I sent in the early 90s from Costa Rica to the U.S.  I actually had brought with me a word processor which lasted a short time.  Computers were too expensive for me at the time.  When I called my family or friends in the States, it cost well over a dollar a minute.  My calls were few and far between.  For the most part, my contact was via the correo and U.S. mail delivery. My first apartment had no TV. The second had a TV with local channels.

If I wanted to make a phone call, I, like other Ticos and expats, waited in line at one of the banks of phones located in many parts of the cities and throughout Costa Rica.  My apartment phone made only in-country calls.

However, I tended to do one thing at a time. My memory was pretty good, and my desk was uncluttered. My bookcases were filled and I would occasionally just pull a book out to read a passage or two and think about it.  My hometown in the United States was miles and memories away.

Now I Skype both of my children, my friends and the rest of my family.  We talk sometimes for hours.  I can even see them and am able to say, “My how you’ve grown!”  I can call my friend Nina in Norway for pennies.  Our emails are instantaneous, and I can keep in touch with friends I have never met, or seldom see through the social network.  Both of my TV sets get cable and the network channels in the U.S., BBC, and C-span.  I can even read newspapers like amcostarica.com online.  I am awash in news. 

Some of my wiser friends just don’t turn on their TV’s. Deepak Chopra keeps telling me to go without it for a week and my health problems will go away. I even have a cell phone which I never remember to turn on. My memory is not so great now, but I have Google to tell me what I have forgotten or never knew.

And finally, I now have a Kindle and can download the classics that I love, often for free, as well as new books.  And I have been able to put my own book, "Butterfly in the City" available on Amazon, both as a hard copy and an e-book.
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart


The price for the latter is $4 in the U.S. and $6 in other countries.  Another book, "Costa Rica Kaleidoscope" by the Bards of Paradise, to which I contributed, is also available on Kindle for $10. It has some great articles on the history, culture and people of Costa Rica. You can sample both books online. (In case you are not sure, yes, this is a blatant plug for these books.)

However there is a reason.  Saturday once again begins the Enamorate de su ciudad. (“Fall in love with your city”  See yesterday’s amcostarica.com for details).  The streets of San José will be filled with happy people, and the parks brimming with things to do and see from art and dancing to yoga.  My Butterfly book has a lot about the city of San José and is a good primer of where to go and what to see.  An important part of walking in the city is looking into store windows, observing the passersby, enjoying the bustle, and taking a few steps from the busy sidewalks to enjoy the parks that mark the city.  Please don’t be texting or talking on your cell phone at the same time, or all is lost —.and so may you be.   I actually heard a sales pitch recently for one of the new iPhones that claimed you could text and watch a movie at the same time.

Please don’t do that.

Just this week I saw on C-span that San Jose, California, where I lived before moving here, is one of the fastest growing and safest cities in the United States, as well as becoming one of the greenest.  I learned, from clicking on a blog, Justin J. Dahl.com. that like San José, Costa Rica, parts of San Jose, California, are great for walking, too.

It makes me proud to be a Josefina twice over.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous
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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 194
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Capital directional signs will soon look like a million dollars
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After three hours of touring San José lost, Atlanta, Georgia, southern belle Suzie Mizell returned to her hotel frazzled.  Discontented she threw her hands in the air and exclaimed she would never drive in the city again. 

She also said that if she lived here she would start a campaign to plaster the canton with street signs.

Thursday the desire of Ms. Mizell and many other visitors distressed by the uncertainty of where they were going was fulfilled with the placement of the capital city's newest road marking, a project that the municipality says has been in the works for 10 years.

Located at the intersection of Avenida Central and Calle Central, officials from the Municipalidad de San José, Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica unveiled the directional pole by describing it as “the starting point.” Coincidentally, the day was also Dia Nacional del Turismo. 

In total there will be 22,000 plates put up in the capital over seven months.  This breaks down to 4,066 conventional poles with two plates for the intersecting streets, 2,712 decorative poles with two plates, and 9,036 plates for buildings and walls.

Each will include the name of the street and district.  Overall the project amounts to more than 526 million colons, more than $1 million.  Costa Rica's two main banks, Banco de Costa Rica and Banco National, will sponsor the effort. 

This work of nomenclature, will definitely have a very positive impact on the quality of life of the people who inhabit or visit the capital, but also in the competitiveness and the economic progress of the same, said San José Mayor Johnny Araya Monge.

Most tourists say they have been victims of confusion by the old direction system that includes a series of cardinal directions after 100 meters or a block followed by the words “directo” and ending with the popular "you can't miss it."  Only later they learn that streets in the city are not straight and whatever they were looking for can, in fact, be missed.

This concept was illustrated at the ceremony by actresses Chabela and Chayo from the creative group Gentedemente.  Chabela pretended to be a lost Gringo who didn't speak a lot of Spanish stuck at an intersection with her map looking for a restaurant. 

With broken Spanish Chabela asked Chayo for directions.  Chayo answered with big gestures and guidance that took the person over the infamous sinkhole and to a park that didn't exist.   The two women then redid the skit using the new system.

In the new system every street including historical streets will have a number, said Araya.  For example, Avenida Central and Calle Central will be referred to by their correct names of Avenida 0 and Calle 0.

Officials say that the benefit will not just be for tourists but
Johnny Araya
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
A proud Johnny Araya participates in the ceremony

for residents, also.  The city will be more functional for businesses such as banks and postal services.

"With the placement of the nomenclature, San José is given one step closer to urban development that will allow the proper management of a growing city, that will affect the country's competitiveness," said Mario Rivera Turcios, general manager at Banco de Costa Rica. "Once more Banco de Costa Rica is present in projects that drive the development and the improvement of the quality of life of citizens."

The general manager of the Banco Nacional, Fernando Naranjo, shared his sentiment and commented on the necessity of the project for modernization and economic growth. 

"The national bank, which is part of the national history, has witnessed how our cities have been modernized, and in the case of San José, urgently needed to push this initiative, which among its many benefits, will serve to guide the tourists, who have long claimed the lack of appropriate addresses," Naranjo said.

As for Ms. Mizell, she greeted the news with a sigh of relief.

“I'm very excited about this,” she said. “But I still will never drive here again.”

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details


A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
shopping
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 194
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Lifestyle
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Jo Stuart

Medical
                vacations in Costa Rica

U.S. economy continues
to stumble along slowly

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. says its economy advanced at an even slower pace than first thought in the April-to-June period.

The government said Thursday that the American economy grew 1.3 percent in the second quarter, down from an earlier projection of 1.7 percent. In a separate report, it said that orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods fell sharply in August, a new sign that factory production could diminish. 

The U.S. has the world's largest economy, but it has struggled to recover from the depths of the 2008 recession, the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The state of the U.S. economy is the central issue in the country's presidential election campaign. Many voters blame President Barack Obama for the sluggish pace of the recovery, possibly imperiling the re-election of the incumbent Democrat. Republican challenger Mitt Romney says the president's economic policies have failed and that he could add 12 million new jobs over the next four years.

Despite this, both support for Obama among registered voters and his job approval rating have been 50 percent or higher.


U.N. chief institutes plan
to improve world education


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U. N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has launched a global education initiative on the sideline of the world leaders' gathering at the U.N. General Assembly.

Ban said that the program Education First is aimed at improving and expanding education worldwide.

The U.N. chief says the new initiative was born out of his experience of seeing the power of education while growing up.

"Education is hope and dignity," said Ban.  "Education is growth and empowerment.  Education is a basic building block of every society and the pathway out of poverty."

Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown assisted in the launch of Education First.

Ban appointed Brown as the first special envoy on global education.


Scientists look to a virus
as a cure for acne infection


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It is the curse of millions of teenagers and young adults around the world — a face disfigured by the red, swollen blemishes of an acne infection.  Scrubs, creams and antibiotics are not always effective in treating this bacterial skin condition.  Now, researchers say they have identified a class of viruses that could give acne victims the cure they've been seeking. 

Acne is among the most common skin complaints, according to Jenny Kim, a dermatologist who heads the Clinic for Acne, Rosacea and Aesthetics at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Kim says acne is a persistent source of misery for millions of adolescents.

“I think the misconception is that it’s not important.  But for patients who suffer from acne, it’s a very, very disabling or concerning disease.  And because acne occurs most commonly in teens or young people when you are vulnerable to changes on your face or how you appear, it could really affect people’s psychological well-being," said Kim.

Skin doctors are feeling increasingly helpless to do anything about acne, which is caused by a stubborn bacteria called P. acnes. The microbes take up residence in skin pores amid the hair follicles and oil, and cause inflammation that results in many small pockets of infection - commonly called pimples.

The usual treatment is to use antibiotics to kill the acne-causing bacteria.  But dermatologist Kim says upwards of 70 percent of the acne bacterial strains around the world are becoming resistant to the standard drug arsenal of antibiotic pills and creams.

There are stronger drugs like isotretinoin formerly known as Accutane, that can stop an acne infection and promote healing of the skin's damaged landscape.  But this drug can cause devastating birth defects in women and has been linked to psychosis and suicidal thoughts in a small subset of patients.

Now, Kim and colleagues at UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania are investigating a totally different approach to treating acne using bacteriophages, a type of virus that can insert itself into bacterial hosts, including P. acnes and which can destroy the pimple-producing microbes.

The researchers have isolated and examined the genetic structures of 11 P. acne bacteriophages taken from patients.  It turns out people with persistent acne have phages with genetic structures very similar to the P. acne bacteria they inhabit, according to experts, who say that’s the reason why phages don’t kill the microbes.

So Kim says scientists took phages from different individuals and applied them to a variety of P. acnes.

“And they were able to kill different P. acne strains from different patients.  So, what that suggests is that the virus can be used to kill P. acnes from many people and may improve acne," she said.

The key now, says Kim, is identifying which proteins among the dozen phages examined have the broadest action against the most common forms of acne.

Kim foresees the day when scientists can treat or cure acne with topical skin creams formulated using viral phages.

“We’re a long ways away from that but it’s a novel idea in that we don’t have a phage-based therapy for acne or other skin conditions.  So we are very excited about this," said Kim.

The study on potential phage therapy for acne was published in the journal mBio. 
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Latin America news
drug haul
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Anti-drug agent carries some of the 256 kilos of cocaine discovered in 16 tires of a tractor trailer Thursday at the Peñas Blancas border crossing. The truck driver was detained.

More moisture from Pacific
means more downpours

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If you liked the heavy downpours of Thursday, you will love today and tomorrow, according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

The weather institute said that increased humidity coming into the country from the Pacific will generate more rain in an already unstable atmosphere.

Some parts of the Central Valley received a pounding Thursday afternoon when a wave of thunderstorms moved through. The nation is entering one of the wetter months of the year as October arrived Monday.
  

Siren to be tested today
at possible slide locations


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Emergency officials are nervous about a potential landslide in Salitral, Santa Ana. The peaks Tapezco and Chitaría are unstable.

So the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias has installed a siren in the area to warn of a slide. The system will be tested today. The commission also is conducting a door-to-door awareness campaign there.


Amnet suffers an outage

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Amnet, the cable and Internet provider, suffered a general outage for about 90 minutes Thursday night. The company gave no additional explanation.








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