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(506) 2223-1327         Published Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, in Vol. 10, No. 205            E-mail us
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low pressure images
U.S. Hurricane Center graphic.
Yellow circles are low pressure areas that can develop into something more.
Yet another low-pressure system threatens country
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sorry, folks, the great days of the last week do not signal an early arrival of the dry season. Nature is just playing.

There is another low-pressure area affecting the country now, and there is another weather alert.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional issued a special bulletin Sunday night reporting that the low-pressure area was close to the country in the southeast Caribbean. It predicted rains of varying intensities in the northern zone, the Caribbean coast, the Pacific coast and the Central Valley.
   
In fact, Friday night, Saturday and Sunday were rainy.

Rain in the mountains is causing rivers to rise, the weather institute said. It listed the rios Salto, Caño Negro, San Carlos and Chirripó.

Highway officials have warned that the soil is saturated still from weeks of rain. There is a probability of landslides and other rain-caused problems. it said.

Nevertheless, the Autopista del Sol between San José and Caldera opened the Atenas-Orotina link Sunday morning  That stretch had been closed due to landslides and a collapse of part of the roadway. Two bailey bridges are not carrying traffic over the
washed away portion of the two-lane highway. Government officials said they have told the holder of the highway concession that tolls should not be collected at the Atenas plaza until the highway is returned to normal conditions.

There also are reports of more landslides on the highway, although traffic is not blocked.

Not just the landslides are dangerous. A father and daughter died Friday night on Ruta 32 several kilometers north of the Zurquí tunnel when a boulder the size of a small car flattened the vehicle.

The dead were Hernán Bustamenta, 24, and a year-old daughter. They were buried over the weekend.  A.M. Costa Rica reported the accident in a special Saturday morning update. They were headed to Sarapiquí for the weekend. Officials closed the highway for a time and said the dangerous areas remain under 24-hour watch.

The U.S. Hurricane Information Center said Sunday that the low-pressure area is moving slowly west or northwest at about 5 to 10 mph. The center said that there was a 20 percent chance that the system would become a tropical cyclone during the next two days. The center said that the system would reach land within a day or two.

The Atlantic hurricane season is supposed to end Nov. 30, and December rains are supposed to be transitional to the arrival of the dry season.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 205

Costa Rica Expertise
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Our readers' opinions
Barney Frank campaigner
says he's economics illiterate


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Formerly of Massachusetts (until last summer), I first met Barney Frank in the early 1970s during one of his campaigns.  I even helped write addresses on envelopes for him.

Prior to that time, I had been an expat living in Greece (for four years) and in Israel (for one), so I was not known in the local political arena.  Barney gave his attention to those already politically well-connected and catered to them.  He was, even then, pompous and evaded any serious questions about serious matters.  Suspecting his intentions and his intelligence and ignoring his reputation of having a great sense of humor, I stopped volunteering in his campaign.

Around 1976, a tax issue arose as to freelance, self-employed persons.  (I was then one of those persons.)  Barney and I had  on-going communication (via letters) regarding this issue.  I still have those letters (being an attorney-turned-author, I shipped them down here to Costa Rica in case I'd need them for a number of purposes).  What they clearly show is that Barney had — and still has — no understanding whatsoever of economics.  For anyone interested, my article on the subject was published in a journal, Micro-Economics, at that time.  If it is not accessible via the Internet, I might also have shipped the journal down here, and will make it available to interested parties.

But for the gerrymandering of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, we might have gotten rid of him earlier. 

So, being against Barney has nothing to do with being on the right or the left.  It has to do with not being so naive and vulnerable to being spoon-fed by the mainstream media.   His humor has been but a mask on the true nature, abilities, and character of Barney Frank.

Barbara C. Johnson
Advocate of court reform and attorney in fact
Atenas


Frank said 'Roll the dice'
on banking deregulation

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 

If some do not like your commentaries, rather than the never ending belly aching, they should not read it anymore. I have faith that the staff at A.M. Costa Rica are aware of freedom of the press.

May I quote a statement from our infamous Barney Frank in 1998 re: bank deregulation? "In order for underprivileged Americans to have affordable housing, we are going to have to roll the dice on this one."

Predictably the unleashed banks went for the jugular and put millions of Americans who could not afford a house into a house, packed up these dud mortgages, rated them triple A, and sold them to every sucker possible worldwide. The Bush administration tried a number of times to bring back bank regulation, were denied and were cited as being racists.

Now this stupid idiot plan backfires, big banking makes trillions, millions of Americans and people worldwide get totally screwed, the idiots naturally blame W (as it was under his watch), millions of idiots listen and believe the unbelievable, and now we are bailing out failed big banking with trillions of our dollars. Our present administration has in fact inherited the crises — from 12 years ago.

I don't watch Fox, Sean and Rush give me the willies, I vote both sides of the fence, so don't give me this crap that I am a right winger. I am old school and believe in paper and pencil mathematics.
 
Edward Baecher 
Fishkill, New York, and Palmares


Bags in a car invite
crooks, inconvenience


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

This is not exactly headline stuff, but you might remind your readers again about having bags stolen from cars.

We parked our small rental SUV in the parking lot of the Maxibodega in Jacó, in very clear view of a guard. Returning in 20 minutes, two bags were stolen. Passports, money, computer, etc.

It's not just the money, but also the inconvenience. The people at the Canadian Embassy were very nice, It took only a few hours and cost $230. Then there was the extra night in a hotel, $130, and the cost of rebooking the flights, $600.

Plus, of course, the money stolen.  A high price for momentary carelessness on our part.

So, NEVER, NEVER let bags out of your sight !

Dr. John Cocker
Stouffville, Ontario

 
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.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 205

Latigo K-9

Southern zone airport gets key public interest designation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The project to build an international airport in the southern zone got a boost over the weekend when President Laura Chinchilla declared the concept to be in the public interest.

That technical designation put a high priority on the 35 million project, which will start in 2012 to put in the bare bones of an international airport. Until then there are more studies and surveys.

Significant planning and environmental work already has been done. For example, officials can say with certainty that the land proposed for the airport does not contain any of the famous pre-Columbian stone spheres of other important sites. An archaeological survey already has been completed. 

According to plans reviewed Saturday, the airport will have a runway from 2,000 to 2,600 meters, some 6,560 to 8,530 feet. The site already has been selected. It is fincas 9 and 10 in the Valle de Diquis in Sierpe de Osa. Officials also plan on getting two adjacent fincas for eventual expansion.
Finca 9 is the property of the Instituto Nacional de Fomento Cooperativo, a public agency. It contains 233 hectares (about 576 acres). Finca 10 contains 261 hectares (645 acres). This is enough land for the runway, ramps, taxiways, a passenger terminal, parking and space for a fixed base operator to handle private aviation. Also needed will be a fire station, a control tower, navigation and landing systems and space for customs and immigration.

The money for this project will come from the Dirección General de Aviación Civil, the national budget and an allocation the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes received from the International Civil Aviation Organization, officials said.

Ms. Chinchilla said that the airport is important to generate employment and combat poverty. Real estate operators and tourism agencies are solidly in favor of the project.

Ms. Chinchilla made a tour of the southern zone over the weekend and attended a meeting of the Golfito municipal council. There central government officials agreed to help the city with its tourism promotion.


Mother of ATV victim presents her case on U.S. network
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The mother of a girl killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Costa Rica was part of a presentation on ABC in "Brian Ross Investigates" Friday.

She is Jennifer Scalise, whose daughter, Brooke, died July 13, 2009, when the four-wheel machine she was driving went over a cliff while on an ATV tour at a Pacific coast location. The 12-year-old was driving one of the machines.

The ABC show reported that more than 10,000 people have died in ATV crashes in the United States since the federal government began keeping track. About a quarter of the dead are youngsters, the show said. About a half million machines are sold each year, it added.

Mrs. Scalise has been vigorous in promoting changes to the
law that would have protected youngsters like her daughter. She told ABC that the tour operator had allowed guides
 under the age of 18 to lead the group of tourists, and they were traveling at high speed along a cliff top path without guardrails. As the pack rounded a sharp turn, Scalise heard a scream from her daughter's friend up ahead, she said.

In an earlier story in A.M. Costa Rica she said "I am an extremely responsible mother, and had I thought there was serious risk of danger I would have never permitted my family to participate in this tour.  We were never warned of any dangers, never signed a waiver, and the owner of the tour knew we had two 6 year olds and a 7 year old with us."

The television show said that Mrs. Scalise has  joined a group called Concerned Families for ATV Safety.

The main point of the show was to note that laws about who can drive an ATV varies widely among U.S. states.
Massachusetts now prohibits youngsters under 14 from using ATV machines, the show said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 205


Costa Rica to get $27 million in new debt swap program

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will be forgiven $27 million over the next 15 years as part of an agreement with the U.S. government.

The Nature Conservancy also is involved in what is called a debt-for-nature exchange.

The agreements were made possible by the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998, the State Department said.  Together with a previous program established in 2007, these agreements make Costa Rica, one of the most biologically-diverse countries on earth, the largest beneficiary with more than $50 million generated for the conservation, restoration, and protection of tropical forests, said the U.S. government.

The new program will support the efforts of the Costa Rican government, working with the Forever Costa Rica
 project, a new public/private conservation initiative, to develop and sustainably finance a complete and integrated system of protected areas, said the U.S. government. Grants will benefit areas such as the Osa Peninsula, including the Terraba-Sierpe mangrove swamps, the Naranjo/Savegre River complex, which contains some of the highest levels of biodiversity in Costa Rica, as well as La Amistad International Park, home to one of Central America's largest and most diverse ecosystems, it said.

The new agreements were made possible by the contribution of more than $19.6 million by the U.S. government as well as a donation of more than $3.9 million from The Nature Conservancy.  The program provides opportunities for eligible developing countries to reduce debt owed the United States while generating funds to conserve their forests, the U.S. government said.  Costa Rica has benefited from an earlier agreement with the United States.



Humantarian mission recieves the thanks of Panamanians

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Chiriqui Grande community in Panamá held a closing ceremony for Continuing Promise 2010 and expressed thanks for providing humanitarian civic assistance, the U.S. Southern Command reported.

Continuing Promise is a humanitarian mission on board the USS Iwo Jima providing medical, veterinary, engineering and community relations assistance to eight countries in four months.  The Iwo Jima will provide humanitarian support to Guyana and Suriname before the ship returns to its homeport, Norfolk, Virgina.

"You are offering a great service to the people of Comarca Ngobe Bugle and Bocas del Toro," said Jose Stonestreet, Comarca's Minister of Health representative. "Continuing Promise 2010 was successfully carried out in our country and once again demonstrates the feeling of brotherhood that exists between our two countries."

While in Panamá, military and civilian non-governmental organization personnel provided more than 5,000 patient services to rural residents within the Rambala and Boca del Toro area. Organizations include Project Hope, Give-A-Kid-A-Back, World Vets, the Registered Nurses Network, and a new one: The Peace Corps.
In total, the mission's 52 physicians conducted 90 surgeries, of which were 49 low-risk surgeries conducted on board the ship, such as hernia operations during the 10-day port visit. The surgeries classified as low-risk, are conducted with the intent of having the highest impact on lives. The other 41 surgeries were out-patient treatments, such as mole removal. The roving U.S. Army veterinarians treated 6,432 animals and the 19 dentists provided 620 dental services to Panamanians.

Optometrists conducted 1,581 eye exams, gave 1,038 eyeglass prescriptions and overall provided 3,062 optometry services. Ancillary totals included over 10,431 prescriptions were provided and, 104 X-Rays conducted. In total, the mission treated over 6,800 patients in Panamá.

In total, the mission brought medical, dental, veterinary and preventive medical care to three medical sites to the rural cities of Punta Pina, Palma Real and Chiriqui Mali. Engineers rebuilt a medical storage building and car port and installed a septic system and installed bat screens at the Silico Creek School.

Also at the Silico Creek School, just down the road from the Punta Pina medical site, sailors supported community relations projects and set up playground equipment, painted the school and cleaned up the playground.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 205

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Miners attend Sunday Mass
at mouth of troubled mine


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Some of the 33 rescued miners attended a religious service at the Chilean mine where they spent more than two months trapped underground.

Miners Juan Aguilar and Carlos Mamani were among the first to arrive for the Mass Sunday, held in a white tent set up at the entrance to the San Jose copper and gold mine. Several of the miners are attending the ceremony with their families.

Medical officials said Saturday all but two of the 33 rescued miners had been released from the hospital to return home to their families. They said the remaining two miners required more attention and were being transferred to other hospitals.

The French news agency is reporting that only one miner now remains in a medical clinic.

The chief medical officer for the mine rescue, Jean Romagnoli, says the miners' health is overall very good.

The miners were trapped more than a half-kilometer underground after a mine collapse on Aug. 5. They were not discovered alive until more than two weeks later. They survived underground longer than anyone on record and were rescued Wednesday when workers lowered a specially built narrow cage down a newly drilled shaft and pulled the miners to safety one by one.

The drama was watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The miners spent much of Thursday relaxing at the hospital with President Sebastian Piñera and still wearing dark sunglasses to protect their eyes from the lights after their weeks in the dark mine.

They now are facing a barrage of requests for interviews, job offers, world tours, and film and book deals. Miner Edison Peña has been invited to attend the New York City Marathon after he detailed how he jogged in the mine's tunnels to alleviate the stress of his confinement.

Open pit mine foes
dwindle in hunger strike


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A hunger strike by opponents of an open pit gold mine has dwindled to three persons, the organization reported Sunday night.

The mine opponents are camped outside Casa Presidencial in Zapote. They want President Laura Chinchilla to rescind a decree by Óscar Arias Sánchez that said the mine was in the public interest. Meanwhile the process by which the mine got approval is being studied in an administrative court trial.

The three remaining fasters are Rosibel Porras, Andrés Guillén and David Rojas, the organization said. The original group of hunger strikers was 13. Sunday was the ninth day.

Venezuela takes over
another private bank

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Venezuelan government has taken over the Bancoro bank, the 13th financial institution the government has seized in the last year.

Venezuelan Finance Minister Jorge Giordani, speaking Friday in Caracas, said that the government decided to intervene in the operations of Bancoro because of liquidity problems and significant financial losses.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez says he will nationalize any bank that fails to meet government lending guidelines or is in financial trouble. The government began taking over small and midsized banks in November of 2009, citing irregularities.

In recent years, Chávez has nationalized firms in many sectors, including petroleum, communications, electricity, agriculture and banking.

Critics say he is trying to model Venezuela on Communist-led Cuba, but Chávez has said he is working to improve the lives of the country's impoverished majority.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 205


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U.S. citizens have options
in voting from overseas


By Clair Whitmer
of the Overseas Vote Foundation

You requested your ballot but didn’t receive it yet? Or maybe you just procrastinated? Fortunately, you still have time to vote in 2010 if you remember one little acronym: FWAB.

What's an FWAB? It's the "Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot" and the official alternative ballot to use if your ballot is late or missing somewhere between your election official's office and your home abroad.

New legislation intended to make it easier to vote from overseas — the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment or MOVE Act — mandates that all states must now accept the FWAB for all federal elections. If you registered/requested a ballot at any point in 2010 and you don't have your regular ballot already, then it's time to use the FWAB. 

Some states allow you to register/request your ballot up until Election Day; some allow you to register and vote on the same day. Is your state one of them? Look it up in the Overseas Vote Foundation state-specific voter information directory.

Likewise, many states will count your ballot if it arrives after Nov. 2 as long as you have sent it on or before Election Day. What are your state’s deadlines? Check the foundation's 2010 Election Deadlines charts to find out!

The OVF online tools make using the FWAB easy. Enter your voting address and the FWAB wizard will automatically list the candidates running in your congressional district.  Want to know more about a particular candidate? Look up his or her bio in the foundation's candidate finder which is powered by Project Vote Smart, a non-partisan resource for information about candidates.

Deciding the candidate you want is the only part you have to think about, the rest is easy. With the FWAB, you simply vote. print, mail.

The MOVE Act requires that states provide you an option to receive your blank ballots electronically — via a Web site, email or fax. Although it is not part of MOVE, many states allow voted ballot return by the same means.

The foundation advises caution: returning a marked ballot online provides no security or privacy guarantees. The very basis of our electoral system is the secret ballot. Your voting decisions are supposed to be private and election officials are required to protect the integrity of the ballot box at all costs. E-mail can be intercepted and online ballots changed on the way to their destination. Voters should keep this in mind and consider returning voted paper ballot as the safest option.

When returning a voted ballot by fax, most states require that the voter sign a waiver giving up the right to the privacy of the faxed ballot. Neither of these seem like good compromises to the foundation. This is why it still strongly recommends that voters return a ballot by mail.

If a voter is in a time crunch in returning a ballot, there is a solution! It’s called, Express Your Vote.

With the support of FedEx Express, the foundation is offering special delivery rates in 94 countries. Voted ballot deserves the best treatment available. A voter can go online to Express Your Vote and create an Air WayBill in a few simple steps. The voter can take it to a FedEx drop-off location or arrange for a pickup.

For a complete suite of voter services as well as news and information about overseas voting, see the Overseas Vote Foundation Web site.

Other resources: Project Vote Smart and Federal Voting Assistance Program.




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