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(506) 223-1327          Published Friday, Oct. 20, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 209        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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This is the capilla or chapel at Hacienda Plantón in Santa Rosa, Oreamuno, which was among 14 structures honored Thursday by the national heritage commission, the Centro de Investigación Conservación de Patrimonio Cultural.

Although built with logs in 1980, the wooden structure looks much older.

Story is HERE!

Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes photo

Arias issues strategic decree to blunt general strike
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government took steps Thursday to deflate the general strike that free trade opponents plan for Monday and Tuesday.

The major step was a decree signed by President Óscar Arias Sánchez to strengthen the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the telecommunications monopoly. The agency known as ICE is one of the major sources of strength for trade treaty opponents and workers fear what might happen if the company has competition..

Arias issued a presidential decree because a proposal to do many of the same things is tied up in the Asamblea Legislativa. The idea is to free ICE from some financial requirements and permit it to act as a private firm might do in the face of competition. In addition, ICE can contract its own debts and refinance existing obligations without going through government agencies. This will allow ICE to borrow a total of $435 million this year and next.
The decree also affects Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the retail Internet provider, and the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz. Both are ICE subsidiaries.

The decree also creates a fund to provide access to telephone service for persons who do not now have it. Previously ICE paid for this.

In the second step to blunt participation in the two-day general strike, Arias released a letter he sent to union leaders in which he asked them to use only half the street for their marches. That way, he said, they will not block traffic.

Of course, blocking traffic is the whole idea. But the letter from Arias puts the unions on notice that they will be blocking free passage, which is a right of citizens. It may presage criminal action. And it is at least a maneuver in the public relations war.
Union leaders anticipate a big turnout Monday and Tuesday. The goal is to shut down the country and put a show of force on the streets.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 20, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 209

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$127 million sewer loan gets
first legislative approval

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

National lawmakers have taken a step to accept a $127 million loan offered by the government of Japan. The money will be used to update the decaying sewer lines in San José.

The full plenario of the Asamblea Legislativa approved the loan with 46 votes. This was the first vote. The measure must be approved a second time in a vote on a non-consecutive day.

For awhile it looked like the Costa Rican lawmakers would not make the Oct. 31 deadline set by the Japanese Bank of International Cooperation. They failed to make an earlier deadline, and Japanese officials were unlikely to accept any more delays.

The problem was with the tight and rigid scheduling of legislative matters. But Wednesday lawmakers agreed to move the sewer loan from seventh place on the legislative agenda to second. That allowed the vote Thursday.

Earlier in the week Casa Presidencial pushed for approval of the loan. Casa Presidencial noted that much of the sewage from the metropolitan area now flows into the Río Grande de Tárcoles. Then it goes into the Gulf of Nicoya. The degradation of this watershed had become a menace not only to the sustainability of natural resources but also for the quality of life for inhabitants, said Casa Presidencial. Part of the project will be a sewage treatment plant.

The whole project is estimated at $557 million. The first stage is $230 million. The Japanese loan will reduce the amount Costa Rica has to raise to $100 million. That is expected to be accomplished in part by raising sewer and water rates. The current sewer network of some 160,000 hookups services about 574,000 persons but some of the pipes are more than 50 years old. In some areas sewage can be seen leaking into the street.

The project is expected to greatly improve the quality of water in the rios Rivera, Torres, María Aguilar and Tiribí, which now are basically open sewers.  The system is under the control of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, whose officials have lobbied for approval of the Japanese loan.

Our readers' opinions
There are other details
in stories of Iraq, Korea

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Perhaps Brian Castle should study a little history before showing his ignorance of International affairs and lambasting another countries  leaders.  Yes, The U.S. is the overwhelming force in Iraq, but there were and still are more than a dozen countries involved in the coalition there. And the U.S. did not go into Iraq without U.N. approval.

Some evidence may have turned out to be erroneous, but there has not and still is not any evidence that anyone fabricated the evidence that Iraq had the biological weaponry and was working on acquiring nuclear capabilities.  The mainstream media seems to want to forget that chemical agents have been found in Iraq.  Yes, weapons of mass destruction.
Some people seem to believe that we would have had to have found a nuclear bomb waiting to be detonated to be satisfied.  The U.N. had  passed 17 resolutions against Iraq, including the option of using force.

The U.S. went into Grenada to protect U.S. citizens living there.  Perhaps that is not something Canada would have done for it’s citizens, or more likely would not of had the capacity to protect their citizens with force if necessary.

Mr. Castle now brings up North Korea as if they are this idle little democracy just minding their own business.  I’m sure Mr. Castle  overlooked the fact that North Korea signed a non-proliferation treaty, a treaty in which they agreed to not develop nuclear weapons, in exchange for many millions of dollars in humanitarian aid.

The many millions of dollars were paid, but as is usually the case, North Korea completely ignored their part of the  treaty and the evidence shows that very little if any of the aid went to their starving people.

This is not a conflict solely between the U.S. and N. Korea, and has nothing to do with North Korea’s free speech or anyone understanding their side of the story.  There have been talks. North Korea has basically said to the rest of the world, give us more money and we will consider honoring the treaty we signed.

That is not democracy Mr. Castle, that is a true dictatorship blackmailing the rest of the world.

The United Nations is not the ruler of the world, thank God!  The United Nations is however on the verge of rendering themselves totally inept to fulfill their original purposes and may very well find themselves an international body without a home or a purpose for existing. That would not be such a bad thing since they are fairly worthless when it comes to handling international conflicts.

David K. Treadway
Esterillos Oeste

Concerns are similar here
toward infrastructure changes

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It is amazing how similar concerns of the property owners against large infrastructure projects repeat themselves, even if these projects are miles apart. I have worked for the largest pipeline network in the U.S.A.

For over 40 years spanning 14 states and 5,000-plus miles of infrastructure. It does not matter whether it is a liquid pipeline, a high voltage line, sewer line or a natural gas line, someone will be concerned about the harmful effects.  Therefore, I am surprised that these same concerns resurfaced in Costa Rica by a totally different set of property owners and seemingly distant from their counterparts in the U.S.A.
Some how the cows will give less milk, the chickens lay less eggs and the humans will be affected by the electromagnetic fields.  However, in studies conducted in Canada and the U.S.A. These concerns have not been validated, as far as I know.
I have also lived in a small island in the Bahamas where we as well as the neighboring communities relay on generators for electricity. It is not a very stress-free way of life if you want to have bare necessities such as a small fridge and an electric fan. I prefer high tension lines.
I may be spoiled by technological advances but before I oppose an infrastructure such as a power line, reliable clean water supply and essential fuels I will like to get crystal clear on the benefits if any and harmful effects if any.
L.  Mambi
Atlanta and San Antonio de Damas
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 20, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 209

Escuela Simon Bolivar

Casa Basileo Acuña

Hotel 1492
Barrio Escalante

   Iglesia Barrio San José

A baker's dozen of the nation's history receive honors
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's heritage commission honored the owners of some 13 structures Thursday for keeping their buildings in good shape.

Included was a school, Escuela Simón Bolivar, in Grecia, built between 1936 and 1940, and a church in Barrio San José de Alajuela that was constructed in the second half of the 19th century.

But most of the structures were homes, including the Casa Basileo Acuña in Curridabat, which was constructed in 1945 and the converted Hotel 1492 in Barrio Escalante in San José, which went up in 1941.
Several commercial centers were included in the roster as was one public building, the Casa de Cultura Popular in Santa Lucia de Barva.

The Centro de Investigación y Conservación de Patrimonio Cultural, the heritage commission, gives money each year to owners of buildings that have historical value and are being restored. In the case of most of the owners honored Thursday, they did it with their own money.

For the church in Alajuela, it was members of the congregation that chipped in to keep the building a jewel.

The heritage commission is part of the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.

Buses and trains get another round of applause
Enough thoughts are competing for my attention this week to make this a patchwork quilt of a column. 

I am not the only person who rides and loves buses.  Margie, who lives in Santa Ana but comes into the city several times a week, takes the early morning bus even though she has a car.  She says it is simply easier, less stressful and more productive because she can settle down and read or prepare for her classes. 

And John, a friend who lives in Washington, D.C., not only takes the bus within the city, but, instead of taking the supersonic Acela train when he goes to New York, he rides the more leisurely slow train.  The slow train stops at every little town, is not filled with stressed-out in-a-hurry over-achievers on cell phones, and he can go first class for the price of coach on the faster train.  Returning to Washington, he unwinds with a leisurely drink.  In a program on genius and I.Q. recently, some authority said that the three best places for creative thinking are the bed, the bath and buses. 
News from abroad is not very good.  Wars are tearing countries apart and leaving millions of refugees, sick, wounded and dead.  There is talk of more countries arming themselves with nuclear weapons as a means of protecting themselves now that North Korea has them for what they say is that reason.  Lately, seeing the marching armies of different countries on TV, it seems that the more oppressive the regime the more high stepping its army.  North Korea’s army seems to have adopted the goosestep of the Nazis.  (And I don’t know why it was called the goosestep.)  This style of marching must be very tiring.

Another distressing note is the plight of the middle class in the U.S. The cost of education and medical care seem to be great contributors to their situation.  In the five years that I have belonged to the social security system in Costa Rica, my monthly premiums for medical insurance have not gone up enough to notice.  In the past five years in the States I heard that the cost of medical care has gone up 87
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

percent and the cost of education nearly as much.

I wonder how many U.S. students consider studying abroad?  I saw a short program about Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic.  The university is considered one of the best in Europe and Prague in one of the most beautiful cities.  According to the program I saw, the cost to a student is about 300 euros a month.  The university’s Web site listed $18,000 as the cost to attend classes for two semesters.  But wait! There’s more.  That includes room and board as well as tuition.  And they have many classes in English.

An interesting historical note about Charles University is that it was founded in 1348, and at the end of the century and beginning of the 15th century, Jan Hus was renowned as a master and philosopher at the school. That was the about the same time (between 1394-1402) that, according to Pope Benedict XVI, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II said that the teachings of Muhammad were “evil and inhuman” and that he instructed his followers to spread their faith by the sword. The Christian God did not believe that violence or the threat of death was necessary to convert a reasonable soul, he said. 

In 1411 the Catholic Church burned Jan Hus at the stake for his humanistic and heretical thinking.  It would have helped if the Pope had included that bit of history.  Or maybe it was just a cruel century.

Unfortunately, that is what this century seems to be developing into.  What a pity that humankind has not advanced much since then.

Pejibaye fair near Turrialba kicks off today for a run of two weekends
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Don't even try to pronounce them but the Finca Pisirí in Tucurrique will be hosting the Feria Nacional del Pejibaye starting today through Monday and again Oct. 28 through 30.

The finca is a plantation of pejibaye which happens to be a palm fruit very rich in oils.

In addition to all kinds of food featuring the pejibaye, the fair will have Costa Rican bull fights every day, a gathering of horses and riders this Sunday and concerts and dances.
The finca has parking and a restaurant.

The event is put on by the El Centro Agrícola Cantonal de Tucurrique.

Pejibayes are those little orange, acorn-like objects bobbing in hot water at the grocery. They have many applications.
Check out Jay's no-weight-loss pejibaye cream soup HERE!

The location is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Turrialba, and the Cartago and Turrialba buses can bring people to the event. More information is available at 535-0038.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 20, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 209

Tests with rats show that marijuana may counter Alzheimer's
By the Ohio State University news service

New evidence in rats suggests that marijuana may contain compounds that slow the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Marijuana has strong anti-inflammatory effects, and many researchers believe that there is a compelling link between chronic inflammation and the progression of Alzheimer's, said Gary Wenk, a study co-author and a professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

“Inflammation in the brain is part of aging,” Wenk said. “It happens to almost all of us as we age. But in some cases, this inflammation gets out of hand and causes serious damage.”

Treatment with a synthetic compound similar to marijuana
reduced inflammation in older rats in addition to making the animals smarter, said Wenk, who is also a professor of neuroscience and molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics.

“The compound substantially improved the memories of the older rats,” he said. “These animals were able to hold on to key details of a specific task. Untreated older rats, on the other hand, were not.” The researchers presented their findings this week in Atlanta at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting.

Evidence suggests that people who regularly smoked marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s rarely develop Alzheimer's disease, said Wenk, adding that researchers are eager to develop a drug with the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana, but without the drug's psychoactive effects.

Venezuela and Guatemala are still deadlocked after 35 votes
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United Nations General Assembly remained deadlocked after a third day of voting  in the contest to fill a non-permanent seat on the Security Council allocated to the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, with Guatemala maintaining its lead over Venezuela but falling short of the necessary majority.

After 13 rounds of voting Thursday, which takes the total number of rounds so far to 35, neither Guatemala nor Venezuela had yet obtained a two-thirds majority of ballots of members present and voting. Balloting will resume next Wednesday morning.

Guatemala and Venezuela are contending to serve as a non-permanent Council member for a two-year term
 starting Jan. 1, replacing Argentina. It is the only seat not yet determined.

In the 35th round today, when 123 votes would have been enough to secure victory, Guatemala obtained 103 votes and Venezuela received 81. There were seven abstentions. Guatemala has led in every round so far, with the exception of the sixth round on Monday, when the two countries were tied. Ballots are secret.

Balloting will continue until a state from the region achieves the required majority. There is no limit to the number of rounds of voting and in 1979-80 there were a record 155 ballots before Mexico was chosen from the Latin American and Caribbean Group to serve a two-year term. Other countries in the area are beginning to promote themselves as compromise candidates.

Senatorial commission supports Oaxaca governor despite months of protests
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A group of Mexican senators says the governor of the country's Oaxaca state should remain in office, despite five months of violent protests sparked by a teacher's strike.

The senators were part of a special commission formed to determine whether Governor Ulises Ruiz should be fired for mishandling the crisis.  The full Senate will meet Thursday to vote on the commission's decision.
The protests began in May when teachers walked off the job to demand better pay and school funding.  But the demonstrations turned violent when other activists critical of Ruiz joined the cause.  The protesters have accused the governor of using heavy handed police tactics to break up the strike.

They also say he rigged the 2004 election that brought him into power.  In the latest round of violence, a man identified as a teacher was gunned down Wednesday in Oaxaca City.

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Day five produces excellent conditions at surf tourney
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Day five of the 2006 World Surfing Games started Thursday with glassy waves in the chest- to head-high range for another summer-like day in Huntington Beach, California.  Spectators trickled down to the beach from Main Street, where each nation continued to wave its flag supporting their team members.

Competition was intense through all four heats of the open division qualifying round 4 as every wave counted toward the final standings for the top 16 competitors.

In Heat 2, Luke Stedman of Sydney, Australia, posted a combined score of 15.16 when he outsurfed heat leader Gavin Gilette of Hawaii on two strong rides that moved him from fourth to first place. Stedman competed against fellow teammate Julian Wilson who was knocked into  Repercharge.

Francisco Bellorin of Venezuela had an interference called on him as he dropped in on Pat O’Connell in the fourth heat. The heat panned out with Armando Daltro of Brazil leading the pack (14.00) followed by O’Connell who anchored the U.S.A. Team with his trademark long rides.

In Heat 3, three power countries Brazil, Australia and  Costa Rica fought for first and second place finishes. In the 20-minute heat, a total of 28 waves were ridden by the four competitors with Brazilian surfer Alejo Muniz riding a  maximum of 10 waves, as he took the lead over WCT fixture Tom Whitaker of Australia by posting a 8.5 and 7.73 for the days combined score of 16.23.

In true World Surfing Games spirit, Diego Naranjo of  Costa Rica served double duty as he slipped into repercharge in the open division, ran down the beach and paddled out at the south podium with 14 minutes left on the clock with his next heat. Although small, the south swell offered long lefts which benefited the Longboard division.

“It was my first time longboarding in the World Surfing Games. In the shortboard heats, it was tough being
amongst the top 16 guys in the world but conditions were fun today,” Naranjo said of his second position finish in Heat 4.

The Costa Rican later made it through Repercharge 2 with a second place score of 10.87.

2006 longboard Panamerican champion, Roberto Meza of Perú, showcased his classic riding style gleaming victorious in repercharge heat 4 while Phil Rajzman of Brazil earned the days divisional high score with 14.43 for his superlative cutback skills.

Roseanne Hodges of South Africa looked in sync with the ocean as she secured the highest combined score of a 15.83 in the women’s qualifying 3. She opened the heat with a score of a 6.5 when she charged down the line and snapped several times off the lip of the wave, earning her several points in front of her competitors.  Australia’s Jessie  Miley-Dyer, Hawaii’s Bethany Hamilton and U.S.A. Team member Courtney Conlogue all will advance.

“I was relaxed and wanted to have as much fun as possible,” said Hodges.” Most of the waves are closing out today so it was important to pick the really good waves and ride them as far as you can.”

Uri Valadao of Brazil earned the day’s highest combined score of a 15.26 and the highest single wave score of 8.33 for the men’s body board qualifying Round 3. Japan,  Mexico and Spain were all knocked into repercharge.

“It was difficult to find good waves today because of the wind. I was further out than the other competitors, found a couple good waves on the outside and was able to pull off a few barrel rolls on both waves,” said Valadao.

Wesley Fischer was supported by his entire South African team from the beach as he earned first with a 13.33.

The strong showing by Lisbeth Vindas of Costa Rica in the past day of competition ended as she was out paddled by U.S.A.  Team member Cara Parsons earned a 10.67 in women’s bodyboarding.

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Jo Stuart
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