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These stories first were published Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2001
Second night of air strikes and other news
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Nation's Jade Museum, a great tourism site, to reopen Oct. 31
By Jay Brodell
A.M. Costa Rica editor

The Museum of Jade will be open again Oct. 31 on the 11th floor of the National Insurance Institute building in Barrio Amon just north of Morazan Park.

The museum will be showing nearly 2,500 pieces of its 7,000-piece jade collection. It has been closed for a year while the Insurance Institute did construction work on the building.

The director, Licda. Zulay Soto Méndez said that the new displays will be at least 75 percent jade because, after all,  that is the special domain of the museum. She said that was the request of the Institute's executive president and manager, Cristobal Zawadzki

The museum closed down a year ago 

A.M. Costa Rica photos
Museum Director Zulay Soto Méndez shows off a display demonstrating the dominance of hatchets in the pre-Colombian cultures.
 when the institute installed new elevators in the building. There are four high-tech elevators that silently whisk visitors to their destination.

Then the institute took part of the museum space, as well as similar chunks or space elsewhere in the building to install fire stairwells. The museum gave up the room dedicated to symbols of fertility, but the key pieces were integrated into other parts of the collection, said Licda Soto.

All the jade came from locations and digs in Costa Rica and represent a number of different cultures. Much of the collection comes from the private work of Carlos Balser, who came to Costa Rica in 1921 to run the Gran Hotel Costa Rica. He became a world-renown archaeologist who published extensively on the pre-Colombian cultures of Costa Rica. 

The correct name of the museum, since 1980 is Museo de Jade Lic. Marco Fidel Tristán Castro in honor of the institute president who envisioned the museum and directed the purchase of the archeological pieces in 1977, according to the institute.

The museum, according to the institute, is the only one that specializes in Pre-Colombian American jade.

Monday, Licda. Soto gave a brief tour of the redone museum and stepped around bunches of electrical cables as she traded words with other workmen. Even with work going on, the many rooms and displays are impressive.

Part of the museum's holdings, several hundred pieces, made up a 

highly successful exhibition at the 
National Museum in the Bella Vista Fortress last year. But those pieces are only about a tenth of what will be on display at the reopened museum. In addition, there are some ceramic and stone pieces.

Licda. Soto showed off an exhibition case Monday that contained a ceramic figure from the Guanacaste-Nicoya area and a second piece with three figures from the Atlantic watershed, two of the principal archeological zones in the country. Each figure carried what were supposed to be representations of jade hatchets in their hands, and each figurine wore what was supposed to be a jade hachet as a neck pendant. In addition, the display integrated an actual jade neckless with a hachet pendant of the type worn by the figurines.

Licda. Soto said that the hachet motiff was dominate in pre-Colombian cultures and represented the sacrificial instrument. The juxtaposition of artifacts from different periods and some hachets and the pendant itself underscore the article's importance and represent a clever use of museum space.

The museum also has some material available in bilingual editions for English speakers.

The reopening comes at a good time for Costa Rica as a decline in tourism has affected national income. The decline, caused by the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and subsequent retailiation against Afghanistan, is being addressed by a $1.5 million national publicity program, according to tourism officials.

Poster features hatchet

Orchestra changes dates 

The National Symphonic Orchestra has moved up the dates of its final concert. The new dates are Friday, Oct. 12, and Sunday Oct. 14. The Friday program will be at 8 p.m. in the National Theater. The Sunday program is at 10:30 a.m. in the National Auditorium at the Children's Museum.

Irwin Hoffman will direct. The featured pianist is Ismael Pacheco Vargas, and the featured works are the Reiner Overture by Richard Wagner, Concierto for Piano and Symphony No. 5 (first movement) by Ludwig van Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2.


Have you met
Snow white
and her
seven little

You probably
to do so!

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Snow White virus now speaks Spanish and is alive and well in Costa Rica. The Snow White Virus is a typical computer worm discovered a year ago. The virus worm showed up Monday in response to the mailing of the A.M. Costa Rica news digest.

The return message from an infected computer promised in Spanish a delightful porno graphic involving Blanca de Nieva and los enanitos, Snow White and the dwarves.

The recipient is invited by an e-mail message to open an accompanying attachment. The e-mail message is entitled "hahaha@sexyfun.net" or "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." Instead of sexy fun, the recipient of the message introduces a computer worm into the hard drive of the computer. It is in a file that has the suffix ".exe".

According to Symantec, a firm that manufactures anti-virus software, the virus program has the abilty to monitor the Internet connection as well as incoming and outgoing e-mail traffic of the infected computer. 

The worm then scans for e-mail addresses, said the company on its website, adding that when an e-mail address is detected whether on an Internet site or in e-mail being sent or received, the worm waits for a period of time and then sends an infected message to the detected address.

The worm also can connect through the Internet to remote locations without the knowledge or permission of the computer user. The rogue program can then download several troublesome subprograms including one that draws a big black spiral on the computer screen.

Once introduced to the computer, the only way to remove the program is with a number of commercially available anti-virus software programs.

As is typical of such viruses, they are designed to mess up PC-type computers, particualrly those running Microsoft Corp. operating systems, such as Windows 98, Windows Me and similar.

Symantec may be contacted at:

Snow White is the second computer virus to be found in e-mail communications in Costa Rica during the last two weeks. A newer virus, the Nimda, showed up in several commercial e-mail accounts Oct. 1. See A.M. Costa Rica's Tuesday edition:


U.S. forces launch second night of air attacks
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. planes and missiles pounded military and terrorist targets in Afghanistan for a second consecutive night. 

The latest air raid came just before dawn Tuesday, waking up residents of  the capital, Kabul. Witnesses there report hearing planes overhead and  Taliban anti-aircraft fire. Reuters news agency reported three large explosions in the city.

Earlier nighttime raids reportedly struck at targets in Kabul and the cities of Jalalabad, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Kunduz. In Kabul, electricity was  cut and Taliban radio told residents to close their window blinds and stay  indoors. 

Military officials in Washington confirmed that the United States launched a second night of air strikes against selected targets in Afghanistan, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said Monday night.

Twenty U.S. warplanes and an unspecified number of ship-launched  cruise missiles began a second day of strikes against  similar targets from the day before, Myers said during a Pentagon briefing he gave with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He is the new chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

Myers said that the new air strikes include a mix of 10 B-1 Lancer and  B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and another 10 tactical aircraft from two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups in the Arabian Sea. 

In addition to the U.S. and British air and missile strikes on 31 targets Sunday,  Myers said the Air Force dropped 37,500 packets of medicine and food to starving Afghans.

"Our day-one efforts were designed to disrupt and destroy terrorist activities in Afghanistan and to set the conditions for future military action and to bring food and medical supplies to the Afghan  people," Myers said. "We are generally pleased with the early results."

Rumsfeld said that early assessments of the battle damage indicate that the air strikes were effective in destroying Taliban air defense sites located near four towns and an unspecified number of al-Qaida  terrorist network camps.

"We cannot yet state with certainty that we destroyed the dozens of  military command-and-control and leadership targets we selected,"  Rumsfeld said.

He said these are not strikes against Afghanistan, but against the repressive Taliban government and the al-Qaida terrorist network throughout the country. He said the second objective is to eradicate  worldwide terrorism, which will be a sustained and wide-ranging  campaign.


Early Monday, President Bush said the first day of the military offensive went as planned. But in a brief speech, he warned that the on-going air attacks are only the first stage in a long war against terrorism that will require the patience of the American people. 

Second anthrax case
found in Florida

The FBI has taken over the investigation of a Florida man's death from anthrax, after one of his co-workers tested positive for exposure to the disease. Both men worked in the same building in Boca Raton.

Anthrax bacteria was found in the nasal passage of the second Florida man, who is a mailroom employee. He has not been diagnosed with the disease and has been treated with antibiotics at a Florida hospital. 

The other employee, a tabloid newspaper photo editor, died Friday after apparently inhaling anthrax spores. It was the first reported anthrax-related death in the United States since 1976. 

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says the FBI cannot rule out terrorism. Several suspected hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States lived in Florida nearby. Some had gathered information on the use of crop-dusting planes. 

The building in Boca Raton is located several kilometers from an air strip where one of the suspected hijackers, Mohammed Atta, rented planes. However, health officials say there is no public health threat and that the concerns over anthrax do not fit a bioterrorism scenario.

Some embassies
close in Jakarta

JAKARTA, Indonesia Several foreign embassies in this Indonesian capital have closed their gates and urged their citizens to stay home in the wake of U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan. 

Indonesian officials said the U.S., British, French and Canadian embassies were temporarily closed Monday for various reasons.  A Foreign Ministry official, Wahid Supriandi, said one of the grounds for the closure is anticipation of public reaction to the U.S.-led air strikes in Afghanistan. 

Many embassies reportedly advised their citizens to stay home after extremist Islamic groups threatened to hunt down Americans and their allies following the U.S.-led air strikes in Afghanistan. Eighty percent of Indonesia's population of 210 million people are Muslim. It has the largest Muslim population in the world. 



Hurricane Iris is centered above Belize in this U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo taken about 9 p.m. Monday. The storm seems well on the way to Guatemala and southern Mexico


Iris, the most powerful storm of season, is inland over Belize
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hurricane Iris was inland and about 80 miles south-southwest of Belize City, Belize about 9 p.m. Monday night, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The government weathermen categorized the storm as a powerful category 4 hurricane. Maximum sustained winds are near 140 mph with higher gusts, the agency said. Higher winds may occur over elevated terrain as Iris moves inland. Iris will weaken rapidly as it moves over the mountainous terrain of Belize and Guatemala, they said.

As hurricanes go, Iris remains a very small hurricane. Hurricane force winds extend outward 

up to 15 miles from the center, and tropical storm
force winds extend outward up to 145 miles, the weathermen said.

The effect on Costa Rica was minimal. The National Meteorological service had predicted torrential rains along the Caribbean and in the Central Valley Monday. But skies stayed clear until about 3 p.m. when a three-hour downpour developed.

News services said that thousands have fled coastal areas of Belize to avoid Iris. The storm, so far the strongest of the season, gained strength after touching Jamaica Sunday. The storm left a woman and her two daughters dead in the Dominican Republic when a landslide toppled their house into a ravine.

If you go to sale,
you can chill out

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Little Theater Group has a deal for you:

Go to their yard sale and participate in their auction, and they will put air conditioning in the theater in Bello Horizonte.

"I am sure that our regular attendees will agree that it is a worthy cause," said Dale Watson, a member. "The heat in our small theater when we have a full house, can be rather uncomfortable. We want our audiences to have an enjoyable theater experience, rather than suffering through a performance.

The fundraising auction and flea market will be Sunday, Nov. 11, at noon at the theater.

Flora Versteeg has volunteered the idea, and her services as auctioneer, said a group announcement. 

The group is seeking donations of items suitable for sale, and they have a pickup service for large items. Those with items may call Ms. Versteeg at 228-4285 or Ann Antkiw at 282-5146

The theater is constructed adjacent to a home in Bello Horizonte. About 75 persons can be seated comfortably, and the theater group usually gets a full house or nearly so. The ceiling tends to be about six feet above the elevated seats at the rear of the theater, and the atmosphere, particularly during matinees can be close. Naturally, the doors usually are closed during performances.

Mexico wins seat
on Security Council

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.N. General Assembly has chosen Mexico for a two-year seat on the Security Council. 

Mexico won the Council's Latin America and Caribbean seat Monday after defeating the Dominican Republic in a runoff. Mexico, which last won a  two-year seat in 1980, will begin its new term in January, joining  Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea and Syria. 

Earlier, Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda told reporters Mexico's new seat will help President Vicente Fox's administration play a broader role in the world's most important decisions. 

He said Mexico must take a more active role in world affairs if it wants to have a strategic relationship with the United States to supplement the two neighbors' economic partnership. 

Mexico and the United States, along with Canada, belong to the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. Mexico also relies on  the United States to buy most of its exports. 

Another kidnapping
reported in Colombia 

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Colombian police say the nation's largest leftist rebel group has apparently broken an agreement crucial to the peace process by kidnapping six people in southern Colombia. 

Police say the six were seized Sunday when they stopped at a roadblock allegedly set up in the Narino Department by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Two police officers were among the six who disappeared. 

The incident took place two days after the guerrillas agreed to end their roadside kidnappings and begin immediate ceasefire talks with the government of President Andres Pastrana. 

The abduction also occurred the same day that President Pastrana renewed for three months a demilitarized zone granted to the FARC in 1998 to promote peace talks. 

Critics say the guerrillas use the zone in southern Colombia to hold kidnap victims for ransom, prepare for war and run a cocaine business. Colombia is in the midst of a 37-year civil war involving the rebels, right-wing paramilitary forces and the government. 

In another development, a Colombian opposition lawmaker has been shot dead in Bogota, less than one week after another politician from his party was gunned down. Investigators say Liberal Party member Luis Alfredo Colmenares died Monday when unknown gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on his sedan.

Six days earlier, another Liberal Party member, Octavio Sarmiento, was gunned down at his ranch in the eastern Arauco Department, near Venezuela. Authorities suspect paramilitary forces were responsible for Sarmiento's death. 

New ambassador here

The new U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, John Danilovich, is scheduled to present his credentials today to President Miguel Angel Rodríguez, according to the presidential staff.

New warning issued
by State Department

The U.S. government has told U.S. citizens in Afghanistan that they ought to leave the country.  U.S. citizens elsewhere should monitor the local news, maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and limit their movements, the U.S. State Department said in its latest warning. It was issued Sunday but not generally available until Monday.

The warning was drafted after the United States began bombing Afghani targets.

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