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(506) 2223-1327         Published Friday, Oct. 15, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 204            E-mail us
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Two die as rock rakes San-José-Limón highway
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted Saturday at 7:30 a.m.

Traffic police report that a man and a child, 4, believed to be father and daughter, died Friday night when rocks fell on their vehicle at Kilometer 26 of Ruta 32, the San José-Limón highway.

The Dirección General de Tránsito said that a woman in the vehicle was in grave condition. The location of the accident is about three kilometers (about two miles) north of the Zurquí tunnel.

The traffic agency said that the route was closed due to fear of other slides. The point of the mishap was not considered a dangerous area. Officials
have been concentrating on the area south of the tunnel where slides have taken place.

They warned, however, that the soil is saturated and that dangerous conditions exist along other major highways, including the Interamericana Norte.

Experts spent two days this week creating a three-dimensional representation of the section considered most vulnerable to slides. The 24-year-old highway has been plagued with such problems where it passes through Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo.

Most agree that the original plans for the road created the problems by not reducing the slopes.

This is a photo of the Casona de Bahareque del Beneficio Miramontes, before restoration.
Centro de Patrimonio photo

Coffee trade landmark in Heredia gets a new life
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A sagging typical Costa Rican structure in Heredia has been restored six years after it was declared a national heritage site.

The structure is the Casona de Bahareque del Beneficio Miramontes, which was built in 1894 to play a role in coffee production.

The Centro de Patrimonio of the culture ministry invested 50 million colons or about $100,000 to completely re-roof the structure with galvanized sheets, replace downspouts and replace interior ceilings. Some of the original wood was replaced, too, the Centro said.

Workmen also had to replace the entire electrical system down to the light fixtures.

The structure is not far from the new Hospital de Heredia and is occupied by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Originally it was a collection point for coffee and where pickers were paid in tokens or boletos for their work.

The building was put up outside the coffee plantation or cafetal Miramontes, which is known in Heredia as the Finca La Mancha, said the Centro.

The structure is a sprawling 340 square meters or about 3,660 square feet. Central American Light Weight Construction, S.A. did the restoration as
casona tour
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo
Culture minister Manuel Obregon and others from the Centro tour the finished product.

laid out by architects Sandra Quirós Bonilla and Verónica Solórzano Rojas of the Centro.

Ms. Quirós, who also is director of the Centro, said that as of 2010 her agency will be concentrating on the history of coffee exports to identify heritage sites, routes of communication, structures and even intangible aspects in order to create an inventory.

The casona is considered important because of the role it played in the coffee trade. She said she hoped that the work would stimulate the Caja to make similar updates on adjacent structures. The casona now is used as an administrative office and as a training hall.

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Our readers' opinions

The following letters relate to a news story that appeared Wednesday HERE and a letter that was published HERE

Letter was whining rant

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Re: the reprimanding letter on Thursday from Mr. Forrester in Georgia :

It never ceases to amaze me whenever I see these whining liberal rants. He starts by accusing A.M. Costa Rica of slurs against two notoriously unethical Democrats, and then slurs Fox News!  Am surprised he didn't start another Bush-bashing tirade.

The unelectable Christopher Dodd, the longtime boozing & wenching pal of Teddy Kennedy, is up to his eyeballs with his unethical Countrywide mortgage. And he and the lisping congressman from Massachusetts, Barney Frank, are both tarred by the Freddie/Fannie mess. Franks has also admitted all kinds of unethical, openly lewd liaisons with male pals. Two princes of the Democratic Party.

A.M. Costa Rica had every right to point out the "great irony."  Complaining about a spelling error sounds trite. Instead, touchy and easily offended comes through loud and clear.
Joe Furlong
Venice, Florida

We are not professional

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

You obviously are not professional journalists. Your right-wing opinions don't belong in a news article. And you don't have enough class to admit your mistake. There is little enough news in your Web newspaper and you report it badly. Your only saving grace is that you are free. It's barely worth wading through all the advertisements to get to the few real pieces of news that you are able to print.

Frank Muschal
Chicago and Pérez Zeledón

Not the politicians to defend

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Now I've heard everything!

I used to say a familiar phrase to myself or others when something so out of sync with life's expectations happens, “Now I've heard everything.” But as the years have passed and my body has become weathered by age, I realize that this is a statement that is warranted at times, but not set in bronze.

To hear someone defend the likes of Chris Dodd and Barney Frank when it comes to “ethics.” I had to utter this to myself as I read this readers opinion. I can think of many lifetime politicians to defend, but the likes of those mentioned is slanderous in itself. Does this person have a blind eye to the failings of the housing market that leads to the scandalous likes of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Maybe he's watching too much CNN, NBC, ABC and reading the Atlanta Constitution. Get a Grip! By the way...I did perform a spell check.

Tom Ploskina
Nuevo Arenal

We take from other sources

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

You purport A.M. Costa Rica as being Costa Rica's English language Monday through Friday news source. You gather your reporting of the news from various other news sources. In your Tuesday edition, an article that was gathered from other new sources that mentioned the names of Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank. You purposely added your own opinion of their ethics. A tactic that you periodically perform without emphasizing during those occasions that you chose to inject your personal opinion which reflects adversely upon your own righteous ethics as a journalist. Kind of disingenuous of you.

I'm sure that any number of congressional representatives have what you believe to be unworthy of supporting and passing in legislative actions. Especially when they have been reported and admonished for the unethical actions. Whether they be Republicans, Democrats, or others.

Mr. Forrester question about your being Fox News seems to be somewhat valid. Fox News political commentators Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, et al, bend, twist, and otherwise distort facts, news, et cetera, to fit their own personal political viewpoints. Perhaps the real question is whether you are a journalist or just another political commentator?  Which is it? Perhaps you should be more straightforward by identifying A.M. Costa Rica as being your commentary on the the news that you have gathered from other sources. Furthermore, include in your editorial position statement another paragraph defining your right to add your own personal opinions/slant on the news that you've gathered and transcribe to your readers.
One other matter. It would improve the publication's image if you would begin using spell check. Especially since your publication is read internationally. It's been widely reported by most U.S.A. news organizations about the nation's education system having been in decline for years. A crises that the present administration, as you no doubt know, has taken measures to address. It makes no sense for A.M. Costa Rica to have misspelled words in its commentaries. You seem to have forgotten to address that in responding to Mr. Forrester questions. Just mental lapse I'm sure.
Charles  Bryson 

Editor's Note; Mr. Bryson wanted us to point out that we edited his letter slightly to address it to A.M. Costa Rica in general instead of the editor specifically. This is a cooperative effort.

They belong in Sing Sing

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

RE: Frank and Dodd as ethical paragons.

I share you sense of irony about Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd being viewed as ethical paragons. In a sane and ethical world, these two would be cast out of office, and have a government uniform and other benefits. In Sing Sing. 

On another note, it was short shrift given to Dr. Longino Soto Pacheco the famous doctor you characterized as one of the most important medical people in the century. I salute you for calling his passing to our attention, but a more complete description of his many accomplishments would have been more fitting and appropriate.
Bob Lawrence
Houston, Texas

We are irresponsible

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your calling Rep. Frank and Sen. Dodd "two of the biggest ethics violators in Congress" is irresponsible to say the least.  You offer no facts, no back up and no comparisons.  You may find it ironic that their names are attached to an ethics bill, but that in itself is editorial bias and not hard news.  You demean yourself and your readers in doing so.
Kent Carthey
Playa del Coco

Footnote to his letter

Mr. Forrester, who wrote a letter that appeared Thursday, checked in with this information:

So, not room in the A.M. for the truth?

The Senate Ethics Committee has cleared Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) on allegations that they violated ethics rules by receiving mortgages through Countrywide Financial's "VIP" program for influential borrowers. The committee did, however, admonish both senators for not being more "vigilant" in their mortgage applications to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

In a letter to Dodd, the committee writes, "The Select Committee on Ethics informs you that after an extensive year-long investigation, it is dismissing a June 13, 2008, complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government, which requested that the committee investigate whether mortgages you obtained from Countrywide violated the Senate Gifts Rule."

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 204

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Assailant stabbed women in rape attempt, agents report
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An employee who tried to rape his employer Wednesday made her drive to a secluded spot and then wounded her with a knife to force compliance, the Judicial Investigating Organization said.

This is the case where the victim, a Ciudad Colón businesswoman, used her 9-mm. pistol to kill her attacker, agents said.

That was one of a number of killings that judicial investigators faced Wednesday and Thursday.  And it was one of two when an armed victim dispatched a criminal.

Agents also were investigating the apparent robbery that led to the death of the store operator in Los Lagos de Heredia. The 35-year-old man tried to flee his store when three bandits entered Wednesday afternoon. Judicial agents said they later detained three suspects, a 22-year-old man and two minors, 16 and 17. The bandits were identified by witnesses as they fled the scene. Agents said the dead man has the last name of Mathew. He died at the local hospital a short time after the incident from a bullet in the back.

In Pavas another store operator, identified by the last name of Villegas, bumped into a bandit as the man was leaving the store after holding up the man's son, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The bandit took the cash register and a portable computer. This happened in Metrópolis II, Pavas. The bandit fled after shooting the 51-year-old store operator.

Elsewhere the body of a 68-year-old man with the last name of Méndez was found in his home. He was the
apparent victim of a robbery, said judicial agents. The location was Río Celeste de Guatuso. The man may have been dead for some time because of the condition of the body. Agents said a motorcycle was missing from the home.

In another case, a man with the last name of Martínez died Thursday after being shot in the head, agents said. This was in La Cuesta de Paso Canoas. Agents said that the man was sleeping outside his parents' home in the early morning hours when there seemed to be some type of confrontation.

The man called for help and began running. His parents heard several shots. The body was found not far from the house, agents said.

In Puntarenas, a man identified by the last name of Aguilar died Wednesday night in the local hospital. Agents said that he and another robber pulled a toy gun on a man waiting for a bus in Barranca. The would-be bus passenger had a real gun and shot the 18-year-old robber in the chest, agents said. Only later did agents determine that the robber's gun was a toy.

The Ciudad Colón case took place in the late afternoon. The employee, a gardener, appears to have done work for the woman in the past. He was being hired to clear property of brush, and he and the woman went there several miles from Ciudad Colón. At that point the woman told investigators that the man tried to force himself on her and began touching her. At some point she suffered a knife wound to the leg, agents said.

The woman also suffered scratches and bruises. The gardener suffered two bullet wounds in the chest.

A retreat to the 19th century brings more clarity and insight
Stress is everywhere — even in Costa Rica.  Some days when “the world is too much with us,” as Wordsworth observed, I retreat to the world of Jane Austen.  I have read all of her novels, some more than once, save "Northanger Abby," which I never was able to find. Her books have been in my library so long that by now the pages are pale brown around the edges with yellowish age spots.

I decided to re-read "Persuasion," partly because it has been so long and because I found it one of her most difficult books.  I have already learned two things that I didn’t know during my first read:  first, Ms. Austen is probably the reason I write long sentences, and second, she has a risqué, as well as satirical, bent to her writing.

 I learned both reading the following sentence which is about the ne’er-do-well, now dead brother of the Musgrove sisters:

“He had in fact, although his sisters were doing all they could for him by calling him “poor Richard,” been nothing better than a thick-headed, unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove, who had never done anything to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name, living or dead.”

Of course, times have changed and language has changed, and maybe Ms. Austen didn’t mean what I think she meant.  But I enjoy visiting the time when manners and society, dinner parties and dancing — and matchmaking — were important pursuits of the gentry in search of a happy life (with the help of many servants, of course).

I have tried recently to imagine what it would be like living a half mile under the surface of the earth for 69 days.  I would rather be transported to the 18th century for the same time —  even as a servant.

On the other hand, going back to the early 1960s via watching "Mad Men" on TV is not something I find as a nice escape.  Like other women who lived and worked in New York in the 60s, I find it painfully historically correct and don’t care to be reminded of what I experienced. As a writer for a public relations company, I wrote medical news for women, and I was a rebel, even for New York, even in fashion. I was the first to wear a pants-suit to the office.  Miniskirts were accepted, but in
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

1965, pants suits appeared and disappeared in Saks and Macy’s in a matter of days.  I bought probably the only one they sold – a smart grey and white herringbone that was perfect for the cold weather.  My boss was shocked, but I persuaded him that he could not justify accepting mini-skirts and not pantsuits. After all, they also were the current fashion. (I didn’t tell him they had come and gone.)

It was the custom then to go out for drinks and even night clubbing after work.  One night a group of friends and I went to a disco, and I was not allowed to enter because I was wearing the pantsuit.  Mini-skirts were okay, so I went to the car and removed the trousers and returned in my jacket which was about the length of a mini-skirt, and danced the night away.

Now I understand why Jane Austen’s novels were read and praised, but not wildly popular until the end of the 19th century, long after her death in 1817.  It was probably too soon for women who had lived through that era to re-visit it.

Although different, the codes of behavior that were imposed on women were strict in both the 1960s and early 1800s. Remembering my own experience in the 60s, I have a feeling that a number of women in Austen’s day broke the rules, too – even the women who were part of what was considered "polite society."

Meanwhile the one bit of present-day good news is that all of the 33 miners got out of their underground confinement alive and safe  It was possible thanks to the whole-hearted cooperation of the best qualified experts throughout the world, wherever they hailed from, whatever their religion or politics.  Let’s hope it is a lesson to us that problems can be solved with cooperation and without blame, war and contention – then present day life would not be so stressful.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 204

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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on archived pages.

Ring of Fire confined
to narrow waterless band

Oxford University scientists have discovered the explanation for why the world’s explosive volcanoes are confined to bands only a few tens of kilometres wide, such as those along the Pacific Ring of Fire. That includes the string of volcanos in Costa Rica.

Most of the molten rock that comes out of these volcanoes is rich in water, but the Oxford team has shown that the volcanoes are aligned above narrow regions in the mantle where water-free melting can take place. They publish a report of their research in this week’s Nature.

These volcanic chains have been responsible for the most devastating eruptions in history, such as that of Krakatoa in 1883, and the huge eruption of Toba about 74,000 years ago, whose aftermath may have come close to extinguishing the human race.

‘It has been recognised for almost 50 years that the volcanic arcs form where one oceanic plate sinks beneath another,’ said Philip England of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences, an author of the report, ‘but while many models of this process have been put forward, none has been able to explain the location, and narrowness, of the volcanic arcs.’

The eruptions of volcanoes in the Ring of Fire are extremely violent (in contrast with the relatively gentle eruption in Iceland that paralysed European air travel in April) because the molten rock contains a high proportion of water which, as superheated gas, provides the power for the explosive eruptions. This water is liberated from the plates descending beneath the volcanoes and lowers the melting point of rocks in the mantle.

‘Most previous explanations for the origins of volcanoes suggested that this kind of ‘wet’ melting is responsible for getting a volcano started,’ said Richard Katz of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences, an author of the report. The difficulty with such explanations is that wet melting occurs over very broad regions of the mantle, inconsistent with the narrowness of the volcanic chains. ‘However, we noticed that there is a very simple geometrical pattern in the distribution of the volcanoes which provides a powerful clue as to what is going on,’ added Katz.

Using a mathematical model of heat transport in the regions where two plates collide, the Oxford team showed that the observed geometrical pattern can only be explained if the volcanoes are localized above the narrow regions in which mantle melts in the absence of water. Melt rising from this region blazes a trail for more water-rich magma to follow all the way to the surface where it erupts to form volcanoes.

In addition to hosting devastating eruptions, the volcanic chains hold valuable clues to the evolution of the earth, because they are the surface expressions of a gigantic chemical factory in which molten rock separates from the mantle to solidify as the earth's crust and from which significant volumes of gas are emitted into the atmosphere. The team now intends to investigate the implications of their results for the chemical processes happening deep beneath the volcanic chains.


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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Three miners leave hospital
to return to their homes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Three of the miners who endured 69 days trapped underground returned to their homes Thursday.

A top Chilean official says they were the healthiest of the 33 men rescued from a collapsed copper and gold mine.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich said the miners were taken to hospitals for observation.  He said one miner was being treated for pneumonia but most were in good condition.

Worldwide coverage of the dramatic and complex rescue operation has made the miners international celebrities.  There have been reports they have received job offers, and film and book deals are being considered, and that gifts have been sent by Apple computer chief Steven Jobs and international soccer teams.

President Sebastian Piñera, who was on site for the entire rescue near the town of Copiapo and greeted each man as he emerged, has invited the men to a reception at the presidential palace in the capital, Santiago.

Chile government officials say the cost of the rescue operation was about $20 million.

Luis Urzua, the foreman Aug. 5 when the mine collapsed, was the last of the men brought to the surface late Wednesday.  He is credited with keeping the men calm while rescuers more than a half-kilometer above scrambled to find out if there were any survivors and then how to get them out.

The last of six rescue workers, who descended into the mine to assist the rescue effort, surfaced after midnight local time, just over 24 hours after the first miner emerged.

The rescue operation riveted the country and millions of people around the world, who watched as the miners embraced their loved ones for the first time after the harrowing 10-week ordeal.

The effort was a source of national pride in Chile, with family, officials and rescuers at the site occasionally bursting into patriotic chants and songs.  Wednesday President Piñera led a team of rescuers in a spirited and emotional singing of the national anthem.

Bolivian President Evo Morales was also on site to greet the only non-Chilean in the group, Bolivian miner Carlos Mamani. He was one of the three that left the hospital.

The miners were trapped underground for more than anyone on record.

Piñera hailed the rescue effort, saying the men were rescued with unity, faith, and hope. He said the rescue workers gave themselves completely to the mission. He also thanked the families for their unwavering faith and all Chileans for their solidarity and words of encouragement.

Chávez in Russia to meet
leaders on joint projects

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has arrived in Moscow to hold talks with Russian leaders on joint energy, defense and finance ventures.

Chávez was to meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to kick off his 10-day international tour aimed at strengthening ties with allies.

The leaders' economic-defense agenda includes discussion on a jointly run bank aimed at financing co-operative ventures. 

Russia has agreed to supply Venezuela with materials and know-how to build a nuclear reactor. Both countries say nuclear energy will be used for peaceful purposes.

Russia and Venezuela have forged close ties during Chavez's term in office, marked by his belligerent relationship with the United States. 

Moscow has become a main weapons supplier to the South American nation, with an arms deal totaling more than $4 billion.

Chavez's trip also includes stops in Iran, Syria, Belarus, Ukraine and Portugal.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 204

Latin American news
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woman arilifted
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública/Guillermo Solano
Woman is taken from the helicopter

Pregnant woman airlifted
after 3 days in mountains

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 20-year-old woman who was nine months pregnant walked away from her home earlier this week and was found Thursday after three days in the mountains.

The woman, identified as Daniela Prado Hidalgo turned up near the mouth of the Río Candelaria in Acosta, but she was in weak conditon, the Fuerza Pública said. So a helicopter from the Dirección del Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea del Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública took her to a San José hospital.

Familiy members reported her missing Tuesday. She was found about 7:20 a.m. Thursday.

Residents get court help
against possible hazards

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Residents of Nandayure and in Tibás got relief from the Sala IV in a decision released Thursday.

In the case of Nandayure on the Nicoya Peninsula the municipality and the canton were ordered to do necessary work in the bed of the Río Corozalito to prevent flooding. The decision also was against the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias. The residents, who live in Corozalito de Bejuco, said that the area is considered in grave risk of flooding and that heavy damage has taken place.

The court gave the commission and local officials a year to do the work.

In La Florida de Tibás the problem was a slope that is likely to give way and damage homes. The petitioners were residents of Condominios Solidaridad 2 in Urbanización Las Palmas and of Urbanización Anselmo Alvarado. They said that even the Defensoría de los Habitantes had issued a recommendation to put up a retaining wall. The residents said they have been seeking such a wall since 2006.

The court gave the Municipalidad de Tibás and the emergency commission three months to comply with an existing remediation plan, according to a summary of the decision.

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