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(506) 2223-1327        Published Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 192             E-mail us
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Biug motor on the move
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo
Workmen change one of the 144 tires that carry the 320-ton generator motors.
Another big moving day along the Pacific coast
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Workmen will need 10 days starting today to move five generators via land and sea to the new Garabito thermal project. Each of the machines weighs 320 tons.

This is the second effort, and engineers and workmen moved two identical devices in December by road. And they moved four more later, also by road.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad now says that weather conditions, including the rainy season flow of the Río Barranca, now make the same land route unfeasible.

So the devices will go from Caldera by sea to Angostura, Puntarenas, where special ramps have  been constructed on the beach. The destination is in
 Miramar near the Río Ciruelas. From Angostura, the five devices will go by way of the Interamericana highway.

The 11 giant machines came from the Man Co. in Germany. The latest five arrived from France by sea in July, and preparations for the move have been going on since. The generating facility is designed to produce 200 megawatts when finished. The six generators that arrived earlier are undergoing tests at the site, the electrical agency said.

The platform on which each machine moves has 18 axles and 144 tires. Each machine is 27 meters long (88.5 feet) and 6 meters (19.7 feet) high.

Officials hope to have the thermal generating plant online in December.

The plant cost $360 million.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 192

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valoarte piece
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Not all the works are representational like this one

Major art show inaugurated

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Valoarte 2010 has more than 250 works on display. The event was inaugurated Tuesday night at the Centro para las Artes y la Tecnología in the Antigua Aduana in east San José.

The event has a charitable dimension benefitting La Asociación Hogar Siembra, which helps with children.

Works come from all over, including Spain, the United States and the rest of Latin America. The event is juried with one of the judges being Elvis Fuentes, curator of the Museo del Barrio in Nueva York.  The show runs through Oct. 20.


Environmental damage
outlined in Puntarenas


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo, the environmental police, outlined the dangers to the mangroves along the central Pacific coast at a meeting Tuesday in Puntarenas for public and private organizations and individuals.

The event was at the Universidad Técnica Nacional on the Paseo de los Turistas in the city.

The tribunal reports it has 18 open cases of environmental destruction in the Puntarenas region. The tribunal said that the mangroves are fundamental to species living along and in the Gulf of Nicoya.

The cases being investigated include garbage dumps, tree cuttings, extraction of minerals and invasion of the maritime zone.  All of the 18 cases are in the vicinity of Puntarenas Centro or Miramar. In some cases, the tribunal admitted it did not know who did the damage.


Costa Rica will defend
its rights at Hague hearing


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica said Tuesday that it was going back to the International Court of Justice in the Hague to intervene in the territorial dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia. The case will be heard Oct. 11 in The Netherlands.

Costa Rican officials said the country wants to protect its interests in the Caribbean. Nicaragua and Colombia are involved in a dispute over Colombia's island holding off the coast of Nicaragua.

Costa Rica recently confronted its northern neighbor and won a case involving navigation rights on the Río San Juan.


Jo Stuart will be speaker
at gathering in San Ramón

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Jo Stuart, the A.M. Costa Rica columnist, will disclose "The Ten Best Kept Secrets in San José" at a Friday lunch at the  Casa Amanecer B&B in San Ramón.

The local Community Action Alliance is hosting this event along with Gringo Central San Ramón, a group with a social and cultural focus. 

Ms. Stuart writes a column, "Butterfly in the City" and has published a book on living in Costa Rica.


Concert Friday in San Ramón

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The group Novárt will perform at the Centro Cultural e Histórico José Figueres Ferrer in San Ramón de Alajuela Friday at 5:30 p.m. The group is from Naranjo but also includes Richard Ulate, a pianist who worked as a teacher at the centro in 2009.


 
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 Spanish press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary





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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 191

Enployee union says woman's prison is mired in corruption
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Buen Pastor women's prison in Desamparados is the scene of forced sex and a code of silence among guards that cause them to turn a blind eye to depravity, according to a complaint by an employees union.

The union is the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, and its officials complain that they brought the matter up to the minister in charge of prisons a week ago and nothing has been done.

The employees union in a statement published on its Web site said that the national prison system was in crisis. The women's prison is correctly called the Centro de Atención Institucional El Buen Pastor. The facility has been in the news lately because an adjacent river is undermining the facility, and officials are considering making a move.

Albino Vargas Barrantes, union secretary general, and Edgar Morales Quesada, deputy secretary general, made the statement. They said that a hidden room exists in the prison that is used for sexual encounters by guards and prisoners during work shifts. They said a network of corruption exists there.

They said they brought the complaint to Hernando París
 Rodríguez, who is the minister of Justicia y Paz. He supervises the prison agency. Before she left the vice presidency to run for office, the current president, Laura Chinchilla also held that post.

Specifically the union complained that a group of prison guards make up a mafia that intimidates the rest of the personnel. The men said they were basing their complaints on what other workers there told them. They said the individuals claim that prisoners and employees as well had been abused sexually. They said that an informal code of conduct was made up of 10 commandments that included encouraging criminal acts.

They said that the Dirección Nacional de la Policía Penitenciaria knew about this code.

The individuals who complained said that some prisoners refuse to bathe for days on end to avoid sexual harassment. They added that one employee faced intimidation for not allowing the group to harass her daughter.

In their message to the minister, the two union officials also deplored in general the conditions of the prison and the psychological effects on the inmates.  Most of the women there are serving time for drug crimes, and the men said that drug use was a component of the abuse and criminality.


Judiciary defends prosecutor who cut young suspects a break
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Poder Judicial came to the support of a prosecutor who declined to seek pretrial detention or other protective measures for four young robbery suspects.

The suspects are accused of stealing a bicycle from an 11 year old at gunpoint Sunday and leading police on a chase. The four were apprehended when their car crashed into a tree and a wall in Santa Ana in the face of a police roadblock.

The Poder Judicial issued an unusual explanatory statement Tuesday in which it said the prosecutor had visited the homes of the suspects and found that they all are students, have no prior police record and have a good family life.

The Poder Judicial also said that Fuerza Pública officers did not find a gun or the stolen bike in the possession of the four. Television footage showed the twisted remains of the
 bike near the scene of the crash. The bike either was thrown off the roof rack by those inside or flew off at impact. Three of the four suspects were hospitalized.

The Poder Judicial also said that none of the three young victims involved had filed a formal complaint.

The Poder Judicial said that prosecutors determined there was no reason to seek protective measures against the three suspects. There was no explanation why the number of suspects was reduced by one. No names were given.

Juvenile cases do not generate the same response as adult robbery cases. A topical request of the prosecutors would be some kind of home supervision rather than jailing.

At the time of the crime Fuerza Pública officers said they were looking for a group of criminals who had been stealing bicycles of high value from professional athletes at gunpoint. Police said there was a high resale value.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 192


Evaluation sought of Autopista del Sol official actions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla asked for an investigation of public officials who supervised the construction of the troubled Autopista del Sol. She also asked that the tolls be reduced.

The investigation or evaluation, as the president called it, will be in the hands of the Consejo Nacional de Concesiones and the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. The probe does not rise to the level of any kind of criminal investigation.

The highway has been the scene of many landslides, and one death took place when a woman motorcycle passenger suffered injuries when the vehicle ran into a boulder that had fallen from the steep slopes of the highway.

Former president Óscar Arias Sánchez was anxious that the road be opened while he still was in office, and he inaugurated the stretch a few days before Ms. Chinchilla took over. He is not involved in the evaluation.

The evaluation will see if the concession holder of the toll highway complied with all the obligations established in the agreement. A statement from Casa Presidencial lauded the new highway as a grand benefit and the principal alternative to the Pacific.

The statement also noted that the weather has been
unusually inclement and damaged the transportation infrastructure.

The president asked specifically that the public employees involved be investigated for any deficiencies or breech of duty in relation to the project. She also asked that the  Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales de la Universidad de Costa Rica help in checking out the project.

The highway builders did not expropriate enough land so that various steep slopes could be planed. Unlike highways elsewhere that go through solid rock, the route passes through mountains of unconsolidated material and are vulnerable to slippage when wet.

Ms. Chinchilla also asked for an evaluation of the tolls to see if they could be aligned with the service provided. Tolls are based on the U.S. dollar, so the amount varies as the rate of exchange varies.

Highways have become the major political football for the Chinchilla administration. In addition to the troubled Autopista del Sol, flooding has washed out the Interamericana highway. That road suffered another collapse Tuesday. And the principal route from San José to the Caribbean has been threatened by more landslides in Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo. And all over the country bridges and roads are showing the result of the heavy rains and years of lack of maintenance.



Developing nations push for climate change cash at U.N.

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Developing nations took to the podium Tuesday at the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate to press for greater global support in responding to climate change.

Ghanaian Foreign Minister Muhammad Mumuni warned world leaders that poorer nations may soon experience a promised fatigue if developed countries do not carry through pledged funds, including the $30 billion of fast-track funding for developing countries through 2012 committed at December’s Copenhagen climate change meeting.

At the gathering in the Danish capital, industrialized countries further pledged to find ways and means to raise $100 billion annually by 2020.

“For developing countries, the early delivery and transparent allocation of this money will boost our confidence in the dialogue and also show that industrialized countries are truly committed to progress in the broader negotiations,” Mumuni said.

Not only must developed countries honour their commitments to provide financial help and technology to poorer nations in the fight against climate change, they must also “take the lead to cut their respective carbon dioxide emissions so that the conference in Cancun could produce tangible results,” said Hor Namhong, Cambodian deputy prime minister and foreign minister..

The next conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is set to take place in the Mexican city in November.

“The fruitful outcomes in Cancun rely on efforts by all to save humankind from much more serious catastrophes,” the Cambodian official said.

Foreign Minister Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean of Barbados acknowledged that a comprehensive pact will not be achieved in Cancun, but said the November gathering must conclude with the world committing itself to
prioritizing the most vulnerable and providing the fast-track funding.

“Critical to success at Cancun is arriving at a common understanding of how, when and where an ambitious and legally-binding international climate agreement will be finalized,” she stressed.

Theodore Brent Symonette, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of the Bahamas, called for special attention to be paid to the needs of small island developing states and other vulnerable countries.

The Bahamas, he said, is the fifth most vulnerable country to sea level rise. “We are a country of negligible greenhouse gas emissions, still we suffer catastrophic results if emissions are not stabilized and reduced worldwide.”

According to science, a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius will result in the sea level rising two meters, Symonette said. “Such an occurrence will submerge 80 per cent of our territory.”

Also calling for urgent action was Arvin Boolell, foreign minister of Mauritius.

With climate change inextricably linked to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals the endangered countries should be given simplified access to both fast-track and longer-term resources, he emphasized.

“Those adaptation fundings should be in the form of grants and not loans,” Boolell added.

President Desiré Delano Bouterse of Suriname, in his address to the Assembly on Saturday, said that climate change will have a “devastating” effect on developing countries. His country, he said, can serve as an example for the world as its laws to save forests and biodiversity date back from the middle of the past century.

”It is called the “greenest country on Earth” for its 90 per cent forest cover, Mr. Bouterse said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 192

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Pew survey shows religion
not well understood in U.S.


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A survey in the United States finds that many Americans know relatively little about religious practices and traditions — either their own faith or other religions.

The independent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life says it asked 3,400 Americans to answer questions about their religious knowledge, and on average their answers were correct only 50 percent of the time.

Survey results released Tuesday show that Americans who either do not believe in God or are not sure if God exists scored the highest.

Atheists and agnostics correctly answered about 21 of the 32 questions, followed by Jews and Mormons, who each had about 20 correct answers.

The Pew study found that only 47 percent of Americans know the Dalai Lama is Buddhist.  Less than 40 percent identify Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism.  And only about 27 percent know that most Indonesians are Muslim — even though that country has the world's largest Muslim population.

Pew researchers' previous surveys have ranked the United States as one of the most religious nations among the world's developed countries.  About 60 percent of American adults say religion is "very important" in their lives.  However, the foundation said its "U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey shows that large numbers of Americans are uninformed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions — including their own."

On questions about Christianity, Mormons scored the highest.  Jews, atheists and agnostics scored the highest on questions about world religions like Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.

American Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were included in the survey, but the Pew organization said too few of them took part to produce relevant data for each group.

Roman Catholics make up the largest single religious denomination in the United States, but the survey found that 45 percent of them answered incorrectly when asked about one of their faith's core beliefs — that the bread and wine shared as Communion during Mass do not merely symbolize Christ but actually become his body and blood.

More than half or 53 percent of American Protestants could not correctly identify Martin Luther as the historical figure whose writing and teaching inspired the Protestant Reformation.  And 43 percent of American Jews were unable to identify Maimonides as one of the most influential rabbis in Jewish history.

Questions in the survey included: Where was Jesus born? What is Ramadan?  What religion is the Dalai Lama?  It was conducted by telephone, in English and Spanish, over a three-week period several months ago.  The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said the general margin of error of the survey was about 2.5 percentage points.The Pew Research Center, the nonpartisan group that operates the religious forum, posted full details of the survey.  Readers can take the survey on the the Web site.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 192


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Weather system continues
to produce rain here

   
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weather system that used to be Matthew is now Tropical Depression 16, and it is located over the western end of Cuba. But Costa Rican weather experts said that the system was responsible for morning and afternoon rains Tuesday here.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicts that the depression will continue north into the southeast United States. But the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the influence might be felt here through midday today.

There was fog even in the Central Valley Tuesday night, and there was the possibility of the same along the coasts.

The weather institute also warned about possible slides and other rain-caused hazards.

San José had nearly 40 millimeters (1.6 inches) of rain since 7 a.m. Tuesday. San Cristobal, Desamparados, had nearly 55 millimeters (2.2 inches) during the same period.

Santa Rosa had only 6 millimeters but endured 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) through 7 a.m. Tuesday. The Caribbean coast at Manzanillo registered 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) after 7 a.m. Tuesday. But Limón Centro got just 6 millimeters, two-tenths of an inch.

Bagaces got 38 millimeters (1.5 inches) after 7 a.m. Tuesday, and Liberia at Daniel Oduber Airport reported 65.9 millimeters (2.6 inches) during the same time period. The totals certainly will be higher by 7 a.m. today. These were the totals at 2:30 a.m.

Rain-provoked landslide
kills many in México


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A landslide has buried hundreds of homes in a remote area of southern Mexico, possibly killing dozens of people as they slept.

Authorities in the town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec say seven people have been confirmed dead, but more than 100 others are still missing.  They say the death toll could increase significantly. 

Officials say the hillside in the mountainous Oaxaca state gave way in the early morning hours Tuesday after days of heavy rains.

On a post to his Twitter account, Mexican President Felipe Calderón said federal and state aid is on the way, but that officials were having a difficult time reaching the scene. 

Officials say bad weather has been interfering with rescue efforts, and rescue workers are struggling to use heavy machinery on the rain-soaked, unstable terrain.  

Mexican officials blame the mudslide on a series of tropical storms that have drenched the region.

Tropical storms and heavy rains have also caused a series of recent mudslides across Central America.




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