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(506) 2223-1327         Published Monday, Oct. 25, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 210            E-mail us
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start of a channel
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Swath where trees were cut was the start of a new river channel
Dredging was designed to create a new river mouth
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican officials who sat on reports of Nicaraguan incursions for nearly two weeks are characterizing what happened along the Río San Juan as environmental damage.

In fact, the Nicaraguan work crews and a dredge were attempting to cut a channel or canal to the Caribbean and annex part of Costa Rica a new Nicaraguan territory.

Photos released by the security ministry clearly show where Nicaraguan workers felled trees to create an eventual channel or canal for the river.

Nicaragua owns the Río San Juan, thanks to century-old treaties. The international line with Costa Rica is the south bank. So if the river suddenly changes course to the south, the land that remains in the north is Nicaraguan. The point where dredging dumped tons of mud and river bottom on Costa Rican soil still is many kilometers to the sea via the river's meandering channel. A new channel would cut miles off the journey and provide a direct route to the river from the Caribbean.

Costa Rican officials direct most of the interest to the muddy expanse where the dredge was dumping river bottom onto Costa Rica. Security ministry officials visited the site Saturday afternoon and took photos.

In a brief press report, the ministry said that they encountered dead vegetation and trees cut "presumably with the end of constructing a canal that would unit the Río San Juan with Laguna Los Portillos." The laguna is a swampy area closer to the sea, and there really would be no reason to build a canal to there. The goal is the Caribbean beyond.

The security ministry also released photos of a tug towing the dredge up river. Eden Pastora, the former guerrilla commander, has been in charge of the dredging. When he headed the southern contras in the Nicaraguan civil war his base was near Barra del Colorado in Costa Rica, so he is
dredge being moved
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Dredging rig is towed upriver.


acquainted intimately with the region. Sources say he has returned to the area from a quick trip to Managua that he made Friday as diplomatic tensions rose.

Fishing operators along the Río Colorado are concerned that dredge work on the nearby Rio San Juan might have a serious effect on that river, which is totally in Costa Rica.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública are describing their operation in Barra del Colorado as preventative. A report from the community said that police are rebuilding the community center, which is serving as their headquarters, and about half of the 100-plus officers who came into the area Friday morning have returned to San José.

The Río San Juan is an issue disputed continually by Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Costa Rican officials might be trying to keep the situation low key because they fear Nicaragua could cut off passage along the river, which is vital for commerce and travel in northern Costa Rica. They also have not promoted the fact that many of the officers who arrived were dressed for battle with heavy weaponry. The ministry has not released photos of this side of the operation.

But San José television stations have photos made by residents of Barra del Colorado.

Even though the dredge has been moved, many of the residents of the region figure that this simply marks the end of round one.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 210

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tamarindo police casse
Madison Kerndt photo 
Police await investigators at death scene

Tamarindo visitor found
dead of no apparent cause

By Lucila Riascos^
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine what killed an apparently healthy 23-year-old U.S. citizen in Tamarindo.

The man, Austin Allen Hiers, was found dead on the side of the road in Tamarindo near Witch´s Rock Restaurant and Hotel. Police arrived at the scene at 7:15 a.m. Thursday.

Hiers was last seen at the restaurant that same morning. He was staying at another local hotel where he checked in Sept. 26. 

He was previously in the U.S. Army said those who knew him, adding that he was married and had a child, both in the United States. 

Odir José Rodríguez Rosales, an employee at Rodamar, said that Hiers was an excellent person and the staff at the hotel are very hurt by what happened. Hiers was last seen leaving his hotel at 6:05 a.m., on the morning of his death.

The autopsy is being performed at the Morgue Judicial in Heredia.

* Ms. Riascos is a Tamarindo student.


Home invasion suspects
detained while moving items


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have detained four men as suspects in home invasions in San José and places nearby.

They were detained as they were transporting what agents say was the loot from a home invasion in Santa Cecilia de Heredia to a home of one of the suspects in Moravia, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Among those detained was a man who is suspected of being the purchaser of items taken in such crimes. Agents said they also confiscated weapons, radios and gloves, all believed linked to the crimes.

In an unrelated case, agents also detained Friday a man at a home in Hatillo 8 suspected of being one of two persons who participated in a robbery at a home in the same area. The men invaded a home occupied by three young women and took portable computers.

The victims were able to identify the man, agents said.


Fake homebuyer stole
items during showings


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents have detained a man suspected of pretending to be a home buyer in order to steal valuables during a showing of the property.

The 50-year-old man is a suspect in at least 30 such cases, agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization said.

According to agents the man would obtain contact information of persons with homes for sale from daily newspapers and then present himself as a foreign visitor including the accent. During the home visit the man would distract the sellers and take items that were valuable. Then he would leave after saying he would buy the home. But he never showed up at a lawyer's office to seal the deal, agents said.


Robbers in Quepos harbor
hold up trio on sailboat


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A San Diego, California, man says he was the victim of seagoing robbers as his sailboat was at anchor in Quepos.

The man is Bruce Stevens, who told his story to the Log newspaper in California, which specialized in boating news.

Stevens, his girlfriend and another man were on the boat "Two Amigos" watching a movie below deck, they told the newspaper. He also said he reported the crime, but that could not be verified over the weekend.

The robbers tied up the trio and sacked the boat.

Stevens may be the first U.S. citizen who was the victim of such a robbery, but Costa Rican fishermen on the Pacific have been plagued by such crimes.


 
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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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 210

Latigo K-9

Thunderstorms not the fault of Richard, weather experts say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Heavy rains that hit much of the Central Valley in the afternoon and early evening Sunday were not the fault of Hurricane Richard, which is making its way over Belize.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the strong thunderstorms were products of typical seasonable weather. Pavas reported getting 71.9 millimeters Sunday, about 3.1 inches. San Jose reported 45.9, about 1.8 inches.

The weather institute said that today would be a typical day with moisture-laden breezes bringing humidity for the eventual thunderstorms in the Central Valley and the Pacific in the afternoon.

At 1 a.m. today the U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Richard was weakening near the Belize-Guatemalan border. The tropical storm turned into a category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph or 120 kph. The storm is expected to pass over Mexico's Yucatan and then back into the gulf, said the center.
hurricane
U.S. National Hurricane Center graphic
Richard has moved north, but another system threatens.


The afternoon and evening storms got the attention of travelers who face possible slides on a number of national highways. So far there were no reports of damage, although road closings happen quickly.

A father and child died on Ruta 32 last week, and storms caused a landslide that inundated homes along Quebrada Canoa in Salitral, Santa Ana.


Slide-detective device could save lives on roads here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

British scientists and engineers have created a device that may save lives in Costa Rica and other countries where landslides are common. The device is a new type of sound sensor system.

Thought to be the first system of its kind in the world, it works by measuring and analyzing the acoustic behavior of soil to establish when a landslide is imminent so preventative action can be taken, said the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Noise created by movement under the surface builds to a crescendo as the slope becomes unstable and so gauging the increased rate of generated sound enables accurate prediction of a catastrophic soil collapse, the council said.

Costa Rica has had six months of rain-soaked hillsides collapsing, sometimes with fatal results. Such slides are typical of the country's rainy season. And they come without warning.    

The new device has been developed by researchers at Loughborough University, in collaboration with the British Geological Survey, through two projects funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The detection system consists of a network of sensors buried across the hillside or embankment that presents a risk of collapse. The sensors, acting as microphones in the subsoil, record the acoustic activity of the soil across the slope and each transmits a signal to a central computer for analysis, the council said.

Noise rates, created by inter-particle friction, are proportional to rates of soil movement and so increased acoustic emissions mean a slope is closer to failure, the council noted. Once a certain noise rate is recorded, the system can send a warning, via a text message, to the authorities responsible for safety in the area. An early warning allows them to evacuate an area, close transport routes that cross the slope or carry out works to stabilize the soil, the council said.

The system is now being developed further to produce low cost, self-contained sensors that do not require a central computer. This work is focused on manufacture of very low cost sensors with integrated visual and/or
slide predictor
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.graphic
Movement in column of gravel triggers alarm

audible alarms, for use in developing countries, the council said. Ongoing work includes field trials, market research and planning commercial exploitation of the technology.

Materials undergoing deformation underground create acoustic stress waves, known as acoustic emissions. Gathering data on the emissions will provide information on the presence and location of straining, according to the council, adding:

The project team’s sensor, for which Loughborough University has submitted a patent application, was developed to capture these acoustic emissions below the surface. It consists of a piezo-electric transducer that sits on top of a steel tube, called a wave guide, buried in the slope. The transducer converts the energy in the acoustic emissions into an electrical signal which is recorded by computer.

The wave guide sits within a borehole filled with gravel which moves in response to any strain or deformation within the slope. Movement of the gravel creates noise which is transmitted to the surface, and the transducer, via the steel tube.

The length of the wave guide is determined by the distance of the unstable subsoil under the surface and so can be tens of meters long, if necessary.

Monitoring is conducted at frequencies too high for the human ear to detect, which ensures background noise does not lead to false alarms, the council said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 210


ICE power customers invited to make their own electricity

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the nation's main power generator, is inviting its customers to produce their own electricity and send the surplus to the national grid.

The company restricted the offer to those generating systems that use renewable and clean sources, such as wind, solar, methane, and water. The program is similar to auto-generating systems elsewhere, although the offer now seems to be restricted just to retail customers of the firm known as ICE.

The company said it has much more information at its various agencies. The customer installs the system, and then there is an inspection by the company's engineers. The inflow and outflow of electricity is measured as it comes and goes from the national grid.

The main catch now seems to be that ICE will not exactly pay for the power that customers generate. Instead, the customer will build up a credit with the company that will refund the electricity when the customer is using more than the personal system produces.
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Rooftop solar collectors are one option

The firm said it hopes to generate five megawatts of power this way in two years.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 210

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Cholera death toll rising
in beleaguered Haiti


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The cholera death toll continues to rise in the Caribbean island nation of Haiti.

Health authorities say 253 people have been killed with more than 3,000 infected with the cholera bacteria.

Concern has grown that the disease could spread to the squalid, unsanitary camps near Port-au-Prince, home to hundreds of thousands of survivors of last January's earthquake, after five cases of cholera were detected in the capital.

But the chief Haitian health official, Gabriel Thimote, said Sunday that the rate of reported cases is diminishing and it appears that the cholera outbreak could be contained.

So far the disease has largely been confined to the Artibonite region in central Haiti where the first cases were reported last week.  

International humanitarian agencies are distributing water purification tablets, hygiene kits and medical supplies to the affected areas of the country in an effort to contain the outbreak.

Cholera, a bacterial infection, is typically spread by contaminated water and food. The disease is treatable but without treatment, it can kill within hours.


Bolivia's Morales visiting
Iran for three-day stay

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bolivian President Evo Morales is due to arrive in Tehran late Sunday for the start of a three-day visit to Iran aimed at expanding bilateral ties.

Morales will hold talks with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and will seek to enhance ties between the two countries in fields including trade and industry.

The Bolivian president's visit to Iran, his second in the past two years, comes less than two months after Tehran extended La Paz a credit line of more than $250 million as development aid.

The loan has no use restrictions, but Iran's minister of industries and mining, Ali Akbar Mehrabian, said Bolivia could use it to fund mineral exploration and develop its textile industry.

Ahmadinejad visited Bolivia in November 2009 as part of a five-nation tour of South America and Africa.


Searchers find missing bus
buried by massive slides


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Rescue workers in Taiwan searching a mountainside hit by massive mudslides caused by Typhoon Megi have found mangled parts of a vehicle they think is the bus that was carrying 19 missing Chinese tourists.

Taiwanese officials on Saturday said the bus was covered by thick mud. Military personnel found the front bumper and were attempting to dig out the wreckage from the landslide. There was no word on the fate of the passengers.

Chinese tourists on a second bus that was crushed by a huge boulder managed to escape by smashing the windows of the coach.

Overall, Taiwanese officials said at least 23 people remained unaccounted for.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 210


Latin American news
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cleanup
Terra Nostra photo
Volunteers pick up a really messy beach

Nationwide cleanup nets
nearly 80 tons of trash

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national cleanup effort in September collected 79.7 tons of solid waste, organizers reported.

Some 4,456 volunteers participated at 70 locations in the country. More than 50 percent of the waste collected along the beaches and watercourses were tops and plastic bottles of drinks, the organizers said.

The cleanup was sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy which concentrated on the beaches, and Terra Nostra, which has been running cleanups for 10 years. Nearly all the Guanacaste beaches got the once-over. At Playas del Coco some 150 volunteers participated. Some 469 volunteers worked on the Osa beaches.

The organizations catalogued what was picked up and issued a detailed report. For example, 42 tons was recyclable materials, the group said. There was 1.8 tons of aluminum, mostly cans, and nearly 17 tons of discarded tires, which also can be locations where dengue mosquitos lay their eggs.

The campaign grew over 2009 when locations cleaned went from 46 to 79 and the number of volunteers went from 2,574 to the 4,456, the group said.

Passport agency to open to public

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. State Department will open new public areas of the  Arkansas Passport Center Tuesday. Previously closed to the public, the Arkansas Passport Center has produced 30 million passports since its opening in 2007, the department said. American citizens with urgent travel plans will now be able to apply for passports in person at the center, it added. The facility is at 191 Office Park Drive in Hot Springs.








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