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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 198          Email us
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Graphic shows the tropical storms and hurricanes over the last 100 years and the dates on which they existed. About a third came after Oct. 1.

hurricane graphic
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Storm experts predict greater Caribbean activity
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hurricane experts are predicting double the normal storm activity in the Caribbean basin from now until the official end of the season Nov. 30.

The prediction comes from Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray at Colorado State University. They said the increased activity would be the result of a combination of La Niña conditions in the Pacific and warm Caribbean basin sea surface temperatures.

The two climate scientists operate the tropical Meteorological Project at the university. Gray has been involved in climate forecasts for 40 years. Klotzbach joined him in 2000. Their forecasts are world famous.

The men predicted a very active Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2011 and the above-average probability of a major hurricane landfall. They said in August that their data suggested that there would be nine hurricanes and 16 named storms this season. There have been that many so far.

Costa Rica seldom feels the direct impact of a hurricane, but the instability generated by the phenomena frequently brings heavy rains, flooding, landslides and other problems.

This is the first year that Klotzbach and Gray have issued a forecast for October and November. A report from the project said they decided to issue the forecast this year because Klotzbach has
demonstrated that late-season Caribbean basin activity can be predicted with just two indicators, one being the state of El Niño or La Niña in the Pacific. The other indicator is the size of the area that is warmer than 28.5 degrees C in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean, the report said. That's 83 degrees F.

They said they had been testing the model on data from 1982 to 2010 and others date from 1900.

Most Caribbean storm activity takes place alongside La Niña, which is the cold opposite of the warmer El Niño, and when the ocean temperature is warmer than normal as it is now.

About a third of the hurricanes and tropical storms developed after Oct. 1 over the last 100 years, said the project.

Right now just Tropical Storm Philippe is being tracked in the Atlantic. It is some 800 kilometers or 495 miles south southeast of Bermuda and still not a threat to land, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. However, there are two low pressure areas in the Pacific that might develop into storms, the center said Wednesday.

In Costa Rica, heavy rains fell Wednesday. Two persons died in an Orotina traffic accident on the Caldera highway blamed on the rain. The Interamerican Norte was narrowed by a landslide north of San José, and traffic police were on duty at the site.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 198

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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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Murder-suicide triggered
by domestic dispute

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Ciudad Colón man killed his female companion Wednesday afternoon and then hid in an interior room of his home while police surrounded the property. When police entered later in the evening, they found the man had killed himself.

The dead woman was identified as a foreigner, possibly European. The man was believed to be a Costa Rican.

Investigators said that the shooting grew out of domestic violence, which may have been a long-running problem for the women.

The home was a sprawling, luxurious one on Calle Las Carreras in Ciudad Colón. The property was surrounded by a high wall, and police restricted access for news people. It is called Los Pozuelos.

The shooting took place around 4:30 p.m. Someone, probably the man, called the Cruz Roja, but when two rescue workers arrived, the woman was dead on the floor of a corridor in the home, they said. The Cruz Roja workers called police while the man withdrew to the room.

The Judicial Investigating Organization took over and dispatched negotiators. There also was a squad of shock troops who were prepared to enter the home by force.

No one reported hearing the shot with which the man killed himself.


Emergency officials seek
surveillance of volcano


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's emergency commission is suggesting that residents around the Volcán Rincón de la Vieja maintain surveillance of the mountain and use radios to keep track of any eruptions.

The agency, the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias, also said that those in charge of the national park that surrounds the volcano should continue to restrict access to tourists and others.

The mountain awoke in August and has thrown materials outside the crater. Some of the material entered the local waterways and caused the death of fish. That was Sept. 16.

Experts from the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico of the Universidad Nacional and the Red Sismológica Nacional of the Universidad de Costa Rica have both visited the site. They met with emergency commission personnel this week to discuss the volcano.

The experts have said they are not sure if the mountain will go back to sleep or continue with its eruptions and discharge of material. Experts at the Observatorio Vulcanológico have said that the volcano may have been awakened by the shock of an earthquake just 10 kilometers (6 miles) away in July.


Policeman is honored
for his sense of duty


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A national ethics commission awarded a Fuerza Pública sergeant a prize Wednesday for rejecting a bribe and making key arrests. The policemen is Víctor Manuel Medina Medina, 62, who now serves as chief of the La Libertad police station in La Cruz, Guanacaste. He has been a policeman for 32 years.

Medina rejected a bribe attempt and detained two Mexicans Oct. 11, 2010. The men, linked to the small plane that crashed into the Río Torres in La Uruca, the day before, were trying to sneak out of the country.  The plane contained 170 kilos of cocaine. The men are awaiting trial.

Medina also detained three men suspected of a murder in La Cruz and rejected a reward offered by the family of the victim, said police, The prize, the Premio Nacional Rogelio Fernández Güell came from the Comisión Nacional de Rescate de Valores.

 
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
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 198

Tourism chamber pushes for Russian and Chinese visitors
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cámera Nacional de Turismo wants more visitors from China and Russia.

The chamber is asking the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo to push to eliminate the need for visitors from those countries to have pre-approved visas. The chamber said that tourists from these countries are big spenders. Citing World Tourism Organization figures, the chamber said that China ranks third among nations for tourist expenditures overseas and Russia ranks ninth.

Technically all tourists who come to Costa Rica have a visa of some form, but what the chamber wants is to eliminate the process in the home country for tourists to come here. U.S. citizens and many visitors from Europe just fill out a form as their plane lands.

The chamber said it did not think that government officials have taken seriously their promise to eliminate bureaucracy and offer the tools that would attract tourists from China and Russia.

“The national tourism industry needs better proactivity from ICT to eliminate the need for visas for these countries
that are strong tourism market providers,” said the chamber president, Juan Carlos Ramos, referring to the tourism institute by its acronym.

Tourism officials identified Brazil, China and Russia as emerging markets, but steps have been taken to push for tourism from Brazil, said the chamber. The World Tourism Organization says that China and Russia are among the 10 biggest providers of international tourists based on total overseas spending, the chamber said.

The rules for visas come from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería. Russian is in the so-called third group of countries, and China is in the fourth group.  Chinese nationals have to submit an application to the Costa Rican consulate in their home country but the visa has to be approved by officials in San José.

Other group four countries are Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Cuba, Eritrea, North Korea, Burma, Iraq, Haiti, Ethiopia, Iran Palestine, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Syria, and Somalia.

Russians have to apply for a visa while in Russia and can stay in Costa Rica for just 30 days, according to the immigration agency.  Nicaragua also is a group three country.


Victim in a hurry allows
three young crooks to walk


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One or more gangs of youth in the Hatillo area steal from motorists on the Circunvalación highway by breaking the passenger side car window and taking whatever is available.

This has been going on for years, and Fuerza Pública officers have been unable to stop the continuing wave of criminality. So they were happy Wednesday when they were able to nab three youngsters caught after breaking a car window.

But it turns out that the motorist declined to file a formal charge because the time spent to do so would interrupt a trip to Guanacaste, said police.

The usual target for such crimes is a woman driving alone. Many keep their purse on the passenger seat. Police said they had to let the three 17 year olds go free. But they also noted that they were free after earlier crimes.

The three have been detained for similar crimes twice before, said officers. Last week the three youth went before prosecutors for this type of crime. But they still were set free.

Frequently the replacement cost of the window is more than the value of what is stolen.

Hatillo is a prime location because several sets of traffic lights stop the flow of vehicles long enough for crooks to break windows. However, similar crimes have been reported by motorists stuck in traffic in Escazú and other places in the metro area.
window breakers
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública/Jorge Alonso Alvarez V.
This trio got to go home. . . again.


Labor ministry to announce program of jobs for youth
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The labor ministry will be announcing a program to train and provide jobs for youngsters today.

The program, called Empleate, seeks to target young people who are in what the government calls situations of vulnerability.

In addition to the Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social, also promoting the project are the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje, the Asociación Empresarial para el Desarrollo and the Programa Conjunto: Juventud, Empleo y Migración.

The Programa Conjunto is run by the Interrnational Labor Organization, which has helped set up the program here, said officials.

The labor ministry said that the youngsters will be trained with an eye to later insertion into the workforce. It said that public institutions, businesses and non-government organizations will be involved.

The International Labor Organization and other agencies received a grant of $4.7 million from the Millennium
Development Goals Achievement Fund to set up the program.

The development fund said the program would facilitate access to decent employment by improving the employability and entrepreneurialism of young people between the ages of 15 and 24, especially those from rural areas, women and migrants.

“This will be done by implementing an integrated program of one-stop youth employment shops in two communities: one in a rural area and one in a marginal urban area,” said the development fund on its Web site. “The first result of the program will provide access to employment intermediary services, education and training for employment. The second result has a national focus, and aims to strengthen the coordination and coherence of public policies and government action. Collaborators in the planning and execution of the program will include government agencies, the business sector, workers, civil society and, especially, organizations run by and for young people, which will guarantee that the needs and interests of the young population, as seen from their own perspective, will be incorporated into the program." The communities are believed to be Upala in the northern zone and Desamparados in the metro area.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 198

Lawmakers vote to tackle languishing traffic law changes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There may be some relief in sight for motorists who are snagged by the automatic cameras and face a $600 speeding fine.

The Asamblea Legislativa voted Wednesday to move the languishing traffic law up from near the bottom of the heap to the first position.  That means that the law may come up for preliminary debate soon. Some lawmakers suggested that it may be approved by December.

This is the measure that seeks to revise the draconian law passed by the previous legislature. That set of lawmakers recognized immediately that they has put into force a measure that had fines that were too steep. They sought to make changes but their time in office ran out. The current legislature picked up the challenge, but they decided to study the issue from the beginning.

Danilo Cubero Corrales, head of the Movimiento Libertario legislators in the assembly, said that he wanted to see the law enacted to prevent the automatic renewal of the vehicle
inspection program now run by Riteve SyC S.A. This is a topic that will come up for debate before the whole assembly.

Some claim the government has given Riteve a monopoly.

The proposal cuts in half fines for failing to wear a seatbelt, speeding and other violations. However, nothing is fixed and substantial changes still may be made.

Meanwhile, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes has come out in defense of the $600 speeding fines. Some motorists have accumulated six or eight.

He also said that in a few days cameras would go into service on the highway to Alajuela Centro. That is the link from the downtown to the main highway. Cameras will catch speeders in both directions on the four-lane stretch.

The minister also noted that in the first nine months of the year, 234 persons died in traffic accidents and 61 percent of the crashes were attributed to speeding.


Mosquitoes home in on carbon dioxide stream, new study says
By the  University of California, Riverside news staff

The carbon dioxide humans exhale and the odors the skin emanate serve as crucial cues to female mosquitoes on the hunt for hosts to bite and spread diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever.

Two entomologists at the University of California, Riverside, have now performed experiments to study how female Aedes aegypti respond to plumes of carbon dioxide and human odor. These are the mosquitoes that transmit yellow fever and dengue.

The researchers report in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology that puffs of exhaled carbon dioxide first attract these mosquitoes, which then proceed to follow a broad skin odor plume, eventually landing on a human host.

The results from the study by Ring Cardé, a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, and Teun Dekker, formerly a graduate student in Cardé’s lab and now an assistant professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Research, could clue scientists on how odors can be used in traps for intercepting and capturing host-seeking mosquitoes.

Yellow fever is a viral disease that causes 30,000 deaths worldwide each year. Dengue, another viral disease, infects 50 to 100 million people worldwide a year, leading to half a million hospitalizations, and 12,500–25,000 deaths.

In the lab, the researchers released female yellow fever mosquitoes into a wind tunnel they built, and filmed their flight paths. They found that:

* Mosquitoes head upwind only briefly when they encounter just a whiff of carbon dioxide but proceed continuously upwind when the carbon dioxide plume is turbulent, fluctuating in concentration and mimicking the presence of a live host.

* Mosquitoes’ orientation to human skin odor, in contrast, is optimal when the plume of skin odor is broad and unvarying
mosquito
U.S. Department of Agriculture photo
An Aedes aegypti mosquito prepares to bite a human.

in its intensity, as would occur when a mosquito closes in on a potential host.

“Carbon dioxide induces a faster and more direct upwind orientation than skin odor,” said Cardé. “Our experiments show that the response of yellow fever mosquitoes to skin odor requires an exposure longer than that of carbon dioxide to induce upwind flight.”

Dekker and Cardé also report that the dynamics – response time, duration and speed – of carbon dioxide-induced upwind surging were very similar across a wide range of carbon dioxide concentrations, from 100 to 0.05 percent (barely above atmospheric levels).

“The mosquitoes’ carbon dioxide receptors allow the insects to respond almost instantly to even the slightest amount of the gas,” Cardé said. “Carbon dioxide alone attracts these mosquitoes and does not require assistance from other odors. Skin odors, however, become important when the mosquito is near the host, selecting biting sites. Further, the mosquitoes’ sensitivity to skin odors increases 5 to 25 fold after priming with a whiff of carbon dioxide.”

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 198

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Obama and Lobo
White House photo
Barack Obama and Porfirio Lobo shake at the end of their press conference Wednesday.

Obama says Porfirio Lobo
helped restore democracy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama has welcomed his Honduran counterpart, Porfirio Lobo, to the White House and praised the Honduran leader for what Obama called his strong commitment to democracy following a 2009 coup.

Before the two leaders held talks Wednesday, Obama also spoke of a new chapter in relations and said the coup that ousted then-president Manuel Zelaya threatened to move Honduras away from democracy.

But Obama said Lobo's leadership is responsible for helping restore constitutional order and democracy and allowing Honduras to rejoin the Organization of American States. 

Honduras was suspended from the organization following the widely condemned coup.

Lobo thanked Obama for U.S. support now and during the crisis.  Lobo said Honduras is on the road to reconciliation, with political parties scheduled to hold primaries in 2012, and a general election scheduled for the following year.

After Zelaya's overthrow, the United States and the Organization of American States failed to persuade an interim government to restore him to power.  Honduras then held previously scheduled elections, which Lobo won.  He took office last year.

He and the president also discussed the drug trafficking situation in Central America. Honduras is a key link in the transportation chain that brings cocaine to the United States by boat and air.


Venezuelan supporters pay
respects to former president


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelans have gathered in Caracas to pay their last respects to former president Carlos Andrés Pérez, one day after his body was returned from the United States following a lengthy legal battle over his final resting place.

Wednesday, supporters gathered at the headquarters of Perez's Partido Acción Democracia, where he will lie in state until his funeral today.

Pérez, who died in Miami Dec. 25 at age 88, was Venezuela's president from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 until 1993. His death set off a legal battle between his estranged wife, Blanca Pérez, and his longtime companion, Cecelia Matos.

Blanca Pérez wanted the burial to take place in Venezuela, but Ms. Matos and her daughters wanted the body buried in Florida. Ms. Matos and her daughters said they would not return the body to Venezuela until current President Hugo Chávez left office.

In August, the two families reached a confidential agreement that allowed the remains to be sent back to Venezuela. During the judicial process, the former president's remains were kept in a temporary grave.

During his lifetime, Pérez survived two coup attempts, including the 1992 effort led by Hugo Chávez, who at the time was an army lieutenant colonel.

In later years, Pérez became a strong critic of Chávez and was ultimately brought down when Venezuela's Congress impeached him on corruption charges.


Air France crew reacted
with confusion, report says


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Before its 2009 crash into the Atlantic, the crew of Air France Flight 447 reacted with confusion and misread data from faulty sensors, according to an interim report from France's accident investigation agency.  

The flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed June 1, 2009, killing all 228 people aboard.

Ice-blocked speed sensors caused the autopilot on the Airbus A330 plane to shut down.  The report, which was shared with members of the victims families Wednesday, says the crew acted improperly. 

Instead of dropping the plane's nose to regain lift, the co-pilot pulled the plane in a steep climb, causing it to stall. 

When the autopilot shut down, the crew was also dealing with bad weather, noisy alarms and questionable speed readings.  In addition, two co-pilots were in the cockpit when the trouble began while the captain was on a rest break.

Involuntary manslaughter charges have been filed against Paris-based Air France and Airbus, the maker of the plane.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 198

Costa Rica Reprot promo


Latin America news
Expats can send condolences
to Apple Web site for Jobs


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Expats in Costa Rica have their chance to share their thoughts, memories and condolences over the death of Apple co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs. The
 
Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
56-year-old computer genius had been battling cancer for nearly a decade.

Apple Inc. said on its Web site that those who wish too comment can email a special Internet address, rememberingsteve@apple.com.

The technology company issued a statement on its website late Wednesday, saying the company has lost a visionary and creative genius, and that the world has lost an amazing human being.

The company statement also said
his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

Jobs resigned as chief executive of the technology giant in August.  He had battled pancreatic cancer since 2003, and underwent a liver transplant in 2009. 

In a written statement, Jobs' family said he died peacefully Wednesday, surrounded by his loved ones.

Jobs - a college dropout - was born February 24, 1955.  He grew up in a part of California that later became known as Silicon Valley, a center of the U.S. technology industry. 

In 1974, Jobs left his position as a technician with a video game maker and traveled to India to find spiritual enlightenment.  When he returned, he and friend Steve Wozniak began work in Jobs' garage, developing the first Apple computer. 

The two founded the Apple computer company.  At one point in his career, Jobs left Apple following a dispute with the company's other top executives.  He returned in 1997, after the company had come to the edge of collapse.  Under Jobs' renewed leadership, Apple reinvented itself, introducing a new line of computers known as the iMacs.

Apples fortunes were transformed again when it shifted its focus away from personal computer manufacturer to producing handheld products like the iPhones, iPads and iPods.  It is now one of the world's most valuable companies.

Jobs' death comes one day after Apple unveiled a highly anticipated new iPhone - this one with the ability to respond to spoken commands.  The device is equipped with a higher-quality camera and the ability to synchronize information among different Apple devices, updating them all at once.




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