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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 213                          Email us
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Ghoulies, ghosties, things that go bump in the mind
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This weekend is Halloween even though Oct. 31 is not until the middle of next week. There will be parties, costumes and even some trick-or-treating in Gringo enclaves.

The end of October and early November is firmly established as the paranormal high season. This is when Orson Wells broadcast his "War of the Worlds" and it is when Mexicans celebrate death with the Día de los Muertos.

So what about the real ghosts?

Is there a place in north San José, perhaps on the site of an old Indian village, where there is a portal to another dimension or another worlds?

Not as far as reporters and editors could determine, but the preceding paragraph illustrates the power of the mass media to create ghost stories and legends. Television, the movies and now YouTube are full of paranormal tales and paranormal claims. If not ghosts and goblins, there are space aliens, ancient giants, Bigfoot, Chupacabre, UFO and things that go bump in the night.

With such a flood of paranormal tales and claims,
one could not be blamed for thinking that perhaps, maybe they exist.

The human mind appears to relish ghost stories and the paranormal because supernatural events validate beliefs in Heaven, life after death
and even Hell. The news media relish such tales because they enhance readership or viewership. Newspapers and television shows have a long history of over-dramatizing supposed supernatural events ranging from the Lock Ness Monster to the latest segment of a video series. Producers do not send out video crews to come back empty-handed.

A University of Delaware professor has just demonstrated the ease with which human minds can be manipulated. He staged an experiment to examine the influence of media messages on perceptions of credibility of paranormal investigators on the television screen.

The university reports that reference to scientific paraphernalia increases the the belief score.

The professor, Paul Brewer, asked experiment participants to read a short story and then evaluate the credibility of the paranormal investigator mentioned there.

The university said that one version of the article described a paranormal investigator’s scientific approach to his work, including his use of various instruments, and that this was the text that generated the highest credibility score.

One is reminded of the characters in "Ghostbusters" using devices to check the electromagnetic field and collecting samples of ghostly protoplasm.

But how about all those normal people who have 
seen strange things, including former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who spotted a UFO?

Another professor has a response to that. He is Matthew J. Sharps, a  professor of psychology at California State University, Fresno, and a specialist
in eyewitness phenomena. He recently wrote in the Skeptical Inquirer, the online magazine of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Sharpe has had a lot of experience with witnesses at trial and recounts how individuals make up facts that jive with their personal background and perceptions. Said Sharpe:

"Research in experimental psychology has shown that many paranormal sightings fall directly within the realm of eyewitness memory. Experiments reveal that
such 'sightings' derive from the psychology of the observers rather than from supernatural sources. Experiments show these proclivities."

"It is clearly possible for a human being — for example, at twilight when visual acuity is reduced — to see an angry cow behind a bush but come out of the situation with a clear memory of a menacing Bigfoot," he said. "A wisp of fog or smoke seen in the indirect glare of a streetlight becomes a ghost; the bright lights of a factory, seen at night through an industrial haze, become a UFO."

Not all sightings are simply fodder for campfire stories. William J. Birnes is coauthor of "The Haunting of 20th Century America."  An description says that the book shows how the paranormal has driven America’s political, public and military policies, including launching nuclear bomber squadrons toward the Soviet Union.

Most experts agree that Halloween grew out of pagan Celtic tradition. The Día de los Muertos in Mexico is Nov. 1, and this developed from a mixture of Roman Catholic and Native American traditions. This is the day when Mexicans bring food and drink to their departed relatives in cemeteries.

This day also is a time of celebration and parties.

But partygoers in Costa Rica have to be aware of La Segua, Cadejos, la Carreta sin Bueyes and even the Bruja de Escazú. These are the local legendary characters, and two have been been commemorated on a just-issued Correos de Costa Rica stamp. HERE!

As to the supernatural portal in north San José, television crews and cynical reporters prowl the older parts of town in search of houses that look haunted. One such home is near Parque Bolivar, and it shows up repeatedly in spooky reports. And the television show "Ghost Hunters International" recently sent a team to the country's former prison island of San Lucas in search of the paranormal.

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Lawmakers will be asked
to create holiday for women

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica could have a new holiday if lawmakers pass a bill that will amend article 148 of the labor code and establish March 8 as the Día Internacional de la Mujer.

"To create this holiday will reflect the progress of the closure of inequalities and gaps in the human rights of women," said Maureen Clarke Clarke, minister of the Condición de la Mujer.  “It means a greater commitment for the state to have regulations, procedures, policies and awareness even in the private sector for women's rights.  Countries and companies that incorporate more women are more productive."

In 1977 the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 8 as the day for the women's rights and international peace.

Women across the country have been celebrating women's rights on March 8, using the day to promote the recognition of women and the advancing of women's rights in the labor market. 

If passed, the holiday will take effect next year.

"The approval of March 8 as the holiday would bring men and women workers, public institutions and social organizations together to promote reflection and action through activities aimed at defining the changes that the country needs to ensure a fair and egalitarian society," said Ms. Clarke.

Child suffers wounds
during Tres Ríos abduction

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police arrested a man Wednesday on an allegation that he violently kidnaped his own son, according to a judicial bulletin.

The man, identified with the last names of Mora Quiros, 30, was prohibited from seeing the child at his place of residence, said a Judicial Investigating Organization spokesperson.

The spokesperson would not give the minor male child's name or age.

The judicial agency said this is what happened:

The man violently entered the Tres Ríos home where his son lives and abducted the child. He then brought his son to the home of a relative where he kept the child detained for an hour, according to the bulletin.  After an hour, police were able to find the place where Mora was keeping his son and were able to negotiate the release of the child.

Agents reported finding the boy with two stab wounds to his right arm and hand. It is unclear if he received these wounds when he was first abducted or while he was detained. The child was reported to be hospitalized in stable condition. The report also says that Mora was wounded in the arm.

The bulletin added that a judge remanded Mora to preventative detention for three months.

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
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Weekend festival in Rey Curré will feature Boruca dishes
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The 20th Yímba Cájc Rey Curré Festival will take place Friday and Saturday with native performances and a tribute to meals and drinks of the Boruca culture.

"These are people who should receive specific attention because each indigenous group has its own history, its own identity and customs." said Manuel Obregón, minister of Cultura y Juventud.  "Over time they have managed to retain a wealth of great cultural value, which should be revealed to the rest of the country."

During the festival visitors can enjoy these dishes, which are based primarily on banana and corn.

The purpose is to highlight the importance of the culinary legacy and the continuous construction and strengthening of the Boruca native culture.  The foods presented have been for years the daily food of the ancestors of the country, said members of the culture ministry.

"We have gladly accepted the invitation sent to us the organizers, not only because we want to know and enjoy part of their traditional food and drinks, but also because this visit is a part of a series of actions that we have opening from the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud," said Obregón. 

Obregón will participate in the activities of the 20th festival.

"It is important to note that the Dirección de Cultura, Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, and the Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural have been working on a plan of gradual and respectful contact with the indigenous persons of the country, aware of the importance that should be given to its vast and ancient cultural diversity," he said.

The Festival Yímba Cájc will also feature traditional musicians from the area. Meals and drinks will be sold, and handicrafts, medicinal plants and old photographs will be on display.

The event is organized by the Asociación Integral de Desarrollo Indígena de Rey Curré as well as Oficina Regional de Cultura, which is part of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

Activities begin Friday at 1 p.m. with cultural and artistic performances by students of the Liceo Rural Yímba Cájc in the Salón Multiuso de Rey Curré.

Saturday will be a communal meeting on diverse subjects in the interest of the inhabitants of the area carried out by community leaders at 10 a.m. in the multi-use room. 

Also on this day, the first stone will be the placed for the groundbreaking of the Museo Comunitario de Rey Curré by representatives of the Asociación de Desarrollo Indígena de Curré  and of the Departamento de Museos Comunitarios.

This initiative rises to the need for the community to avoid 
Boruca masks
From a festival poster
 The Boruca are known for their masks but the emphasis
 this weekend is on food.

It's what's for dinner!

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Organizers said they conducted an investigation with the elderly of the community in order to identify those recipes and dishes of Boruca origin. 

Among the dishes is the Chari yeua, a tamal made from corn and plántanos maduros or sweet plaintains.  Others are michichua, a tortilla of maíz joco or white corn kernels, muá xënca, a sun-dried green plantain, uncá chaa, a yucca, ojshí, raw corn with coconut chips; muáshi, roasted plantains and ojchá, which is grits.

the loss of cultural values,” said Ronald Martínez member of Programa de Museos Regionales y Comunitarios of the national museum.

“It is especially necessary in a community like Rey Curré, which has been characterized by a fight to defend their rights and traditions,” he added.

Rey Curré is on the Interamerican Sur south of Buenos Aires de Puntarenas in southwestern Costa Rica.

Distant hurricane causing more problems than the earthquake
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The distant tropical hurricane Sandy is causing more problems in Costa Rica than Tuesday night's 6-point earthquake.

The national emergency commission said that there were only two homes that reported damage from the quake. One was in Nicoya and the other was in San José. Elsewhere the quake damage was limited to falling objects, the commission said.

Quake scientists estimated the magnitude of the 6:45 p.m. event at from 6.1 to 6.6. The epicenter was in the Pacific south of Sámara. The quake was felt all over the country.

The emergency commission issued a preliminary alert over the storm. Although Sandy is over Jamaica, the indirect effects continued to bring rain to Costa Rica.

The Cruz Roja reported flooding and the extraction of three patients in Londres near Quepos. One was a woman in labor. One person suffered from high blood pressure and a third suffered from diabetes, said the rescue agency. Rain had damaged a road.

The emergency commission said that heavy rains continue in the southern Pacific and on the Nicoya peninsula. There were
reports there of landslides, the flooding of homes and communities cut off. There also were problems reported in Pérez Zeledón, Osa and Golfito.

A sewer system appears to have collapsed in San Isidro de El General, and flooding followed. Some homes were inundated, said the commission.

About 40 persons sought shelter Wednesday morning in Coto 58 and Gorrión when the Río Coto flooded their homes in southern Costa Rica.

There also were incidents reported in Santa Cruz and Carrillo in Guanacaste, said the commission.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional predicted accumulations of rain up to 40 millimeters along the Pacific coast, about 1.6 inches and slightly less in the northern zone. The agency issued a special bulletin at 9 p.m. Wednesday. It said that the rain would continue through this morning.

There was rain overnight in the Central Valley.  The weather institute warned that the ground was very saturated from a week of rain.

The institute also warned of fog at higher elevations.

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Coalition of environmental groups want pineapple regulations
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A committee made up of environmental organizations has submitted a resolution to the Costa Rican government urging different ministries to assess and regulate pineapple monoculture.

Crop monoculture is when farmers continue to grow a single crop year after year.  In traditional farming or polyculture, agriculturists rotate crops yearly by planting dissimilar plants.

This allows the soil to replenish itself of elements that have been lost and prevents pests from thriving in the area, said Mariano Castor, advisor for the Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas.

According to spokespersons for the Unión Internacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, Costa Rica is considered the main world producer of pineapples.  In the last 10 years, the country has experienced an exponential increase in pineapple monocultures in the Northern zone, on the Caribbean and in the Brunca region. 

Statistics from the Cámara Nacional de Productores y Exportadores de Piña show that the earned income from exporting the crop have grown from $148.5 million in 2001 to $725 million in 2011.  This is a 388 percent increase. 

The number of hectares produced has also increased 230 percent in the same time frame from 13,500 hectares to 45,000, indicated by statistics from the Secretaria Ejecutiva de Planificación Sectorial Agropecuaria, the environmental groups said.

The concern of the group is that the expansion of crops has led to sedimentation, erosion, water contamination, deforestation and displaced wildlife, spokespersons said.

“A few days ago, in Puntarenas, they found dead fish killed by pesticides used by the farmers,” said Castro.  “Also, the pineapples attract fruit flies and they are attacking our cows.”
In the resolution, the organizations also maintain that the agrochemicals are finding their ways into wells and pipes thereby damaging the water quality.  These same chemicals, which are also cancerous, are damaging the air quality for workers and residents of nearby towns, creating health issues, the organizations said.

This is not the first complaint.  In 2009, the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo received 36 complaints against pineapple companies in San Carlos, Los Chiles, Miramar, Buenos Aires, Guápiles, Siquirres and Guácimo, said the organizations. This resulted in the temporary closure of some operations.

Also, in a related action, three women launched a complaint to the Sala IV constitucional court against the Costa Rican water and sewage companies as well as the various environmental organizations about the contamination of the water lines across the country.

The court ruled Monday after reviewing the evidence that articles 21, which guarantees the right to life, and article 50, the right to a healthy and economically balanced life of the Costa Rican Constitution had been violated, and that authorities must take action to locate the sources of fertilizer pollution and eradicate them.

The organization said it wants the Ministerio de Salud, the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería and the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Mares to protect the health and water of persons by assessing the situation of the pineapple plantations and the effects that they are causing.

The ministries should also take united concrete actions to create regulations and control crop monoculture, they said.

The resolution was endorsed by the Centro de Derecho Ambiental y de los Recursos Naturales, Preserve Planet, Pretoma, Fundación Bandera Ecológica, Fundación para el Desarrollo Urbano, Terra Nostra, Universidad para la Cooperación Internacional, Sociedad Mesoamericana de Biología de la Conservación, Corredor Biológico Talamanca and Asociación Preservacionista de Flora y Fauna Silvestre.

Huawei says it will give full data on is products in Australia
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has offered to give Australia complete and unrestricted access to its source codes and equipment as it tries to address fears it is spying for Beijing.

Huawei, the world’s second biggest telecom equipment maker, has been barred from Australia’s $38 billion national broadband project because of espionage concerns. The Chinese firm is a telecom supplier for the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad in Costa Rica.

Huawei Australia chief John Lord said Wednesday those spying concerns, echoed recently by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, were baseless. But he conceded that Huawei has not always been transparent.

“Huawei has done a very poor job of communicating about ourselves in the past, and we must take full responsibility for that,” he said. “For the majority of Huawei’s 25-year existence, we have been a business-to-business company, with little need to sell ourselves to the general public.”

To address concerns, Lord proposed setting up a cyber-security center to test equipment that would be used in Australian networks. There is a similar testing facility in Britain, where Huawei has helped build a national broadband network.

Australia-based security analyst John Lee says the announcement probably does not signal a new era of openness at Huawei, but is rather an attempt to ease fears about its technology.

“I think what they’re trying to do is to copy the British model,
that is, to set up a cyber-security evaluation center to appease fears about Huawei products, but there wasn’t much said or done about making the company more transparent itself,” he said.

Lee, who is also a professor at the University of Sydney, says the move could be successful in convincing Australia about the safety of Huawei products, but will not make a difference when it comes to the company being involved in major infrastructure projects.

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee report this month called for Huawei to be excluded from government contracts and acquisitions because of its suspected ties to Beijing.

In his Wednesday news conference, Lord blasted the report, saying it was based on “protectionism, not security.”

“We sincerely hope that in Australia, we do not allow sober debate on cyber security to become distorted the way it has in the U.S. If we are to find real solutions to real cyber security problems, we cannot allow the discussion to be muddled by issues like the ongoing trade conflict between the U.S. and China,” said Lord.

The U.S. congressional report said Huawei and another Chinese telecom, ZTE, provided incomplete, contradictory, and evasive answers during an almost year-long investigation into its relationship with the Chinese government.

Huawei was founded 25 years ago by Ren Zhengfei, a retired officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army. It is now the second largest maker of telecommunications networking equipment, after Sweden-based Ericsson.

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

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Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 213
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Oxen on death row causing
college debate on meat

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Officials at a small rural college in the northeastern state of Vermont have announced their intention to slaughter a beloved pair of oxen who have worked on campus for a decade.

Green Mountain College, known for its courses in sustainable living, plans to serve the oxen meat in its dining hall.  The plan has touched off an international outcry via social media.

For a decade, Bill and Lou were a near daily sight working the campus farm. Earlier this year, Lou stepped in a hole and hurt his leg. The injury hasn’t healed. Since oxen work as a team, the 11-year old pair was retired.
Bill and Lou’s big brown eyes, curving horns and gentle but massive girth have made them minor celebrities on campus and beyond.  Many say that’s what makes it so hard to believe college officials want to slaughter and eat them.

“These two individuals have become veritable mascots for the school," says Miriam Jones, cofounder of Vine, an animal rescue organization in Springfield, Vermont. "They are the profile picture on the farm’s Facebook page. They are known by name. This is why the outcry has been so significant all over.”

A petition to save Bill and Lou on Facebook has attracted over 40,000 signatures from all over the world.

Vine offered to take the oxen to live at its farm for free. Vine’s Pattrice Jones says they were stunned when the college declined, citing sustainability as one of its reasons.

“We do not believe that the way to conserve resources is to kill the elderly and disabled to prevent them from using up resources because they’re not useful anymore," Jones says. "We just ethically find that repugnant.”

Philip Ackerman-Leist heads Green Mountain College’s Farm and Food project.

“We have been very clear from the beginning that this is not a petting zoo," he says. "It was going to be a sustainable farm operation.”

Seventy percent of the college's students eat meat, according to Ackerman-Leist.

Twelve years ago, when the college began developing its sustainable farm program, vegetarian students specifically asked that livestock be included to confront the realities of eating meat.

He says the debate goes way beyond Bill and Lou. Faculty and students have spent a great deal of time discussing it.

“It’s something I think about a lot. I actually have 50 head of cattle at home, most of them have names and I interact with them on a daily basis," says Ackerman-Leist.  It’s never an easy decision for a farmer to say it’s time for an animal to go to slaughter.”

A philosophy professor, Steve Fesmire, teaches classes on animal and environmental ethics at the college.

“Sending Bill and Lou to sanctuary can legitimately be regarded as avoiding the issue," he says.

Fesmire believes the controversy over Bill and Lou has forced an important discussion on campus and beyond, namely how people feel about the 10 billion other animals that are slaughtered in the United States every year and how they’re treated.

Andrea Jacques is a junior who plans to study veterinary medicine.  She says she agrees with the decision to slaughter Bill and Lou and is surprised at the backlash from people off-campus.

“Most of the students here understand why things are the way that they are,” she says.

Campus officials say meat from the oxen will provide the school with over a months’ worth of hamburger. Jacques says it’s silly not to use it.

“I don't choose to eat hamburger necessarily but if I was, this would be the one that I’d choose to eat, because I know they’ve had a great life compared to some hamburger that you get which may not have had the best life.”

She says if people think there’s something wrong with that, they may want to reconsider their food choices.

Canadian firm finds field
of petroleum in Afghanistan

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A spokesman for Afghanistan's Mining Ministry, Jawad Omer, said that the Canadian company Terraseis has located a large oil field in the northwestern part of the country.
"This area is situated between the Khan Charbagh and Aqeena border districts, where technical research has been conducted," Omer said.
The site is in Faryab Province, near the border with Turkmenistan. Omer said more exploration would be done to get an accurate assessment of the size of the oil field.
The news comes as the China National Petroleum Corporation started commercial production at an oil field in the neighboring Sar-e Pol Province Sunday.
Afghan Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani during an interview in which he announced that Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's biggest non-state oil company, had not yet accepted an offer to look over a new oil concession in the north, possibly indicating a fading appetite to invest in the conflict-wracked country even as government officials finalize new laws designed to attract more foreign mining investment, Kabul, Sept. 29, 2012.

Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani called it a "historic" day for his country, "that for the first time the process of commercial production of crude oil has started in Afghanistan."
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Jacó man held in robberies
at 10 Central Valley stores

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police have arrested a man they suspect robbed numerous electronics stores in the Central Valley, according to a judicial bulletin. The detention was Tuesday.

The 27-year-old man in custody is Edgar Abraham Trinidad Mejia, a spokesperson for the Judicial Investigating Organization said. He is suspected of leading a group that is connected with 10 robberies in the San José area.

Police arrested Trinidad near Jacó after 10 months of investigation, according to the bulletin.

Trinidad is being linked to at least 10 robberies of stores that specifically sell cellular phones and electronic appliances. The bulletin says that stores in San José, Desamparados, Zapote, Coronado and Pavas were victimized. The first case was in January, and the most recent reported case occurred earlier this month.

In these cases, police suspect that Trinidad or an accomplice carried a gun, with which they threatened employees of these stores, according to the report.

Police said that a combined total of 25 million colons worth of merchandise and cash was stolen in the 10 cases linked to Trinidad.

In addition to arresting Trinidad in Jacó, police also raided his home, also in Jacó. There, agents found a pistol, drugs and dozens of prepaid phone cards, they said. They believe the phone cards were stolen Sunday, they said.

Levels of gasoline additive
reported to be much lower

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's regulatory agency said that samples of gasoline show lower levels of  methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl, known as MMT.

The additive is controversial, and some motorists said that the chemical has damaged the engine of their vehicles.

In August the regulatory agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos confirmed that gasoline from the monopoly Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo contained the chemical. The agency asked the state refinery to suspend importation of gasoline with the additive. The issue was raised first by a television news show.

Recent tests showed only one sample had higher levels of MMT than vehicle manufacturers specified, said the agency.

In August, analyses showed that there was an average of 23.4 milligrams per liter of manganese in both plus and super gasoline. The average amount of MMT was 92.8 and 93 milligrams per liter at samples taken at a service station in La Garita. That was far in excess of the recommendation of the supplier, Afton Chemicals, a Virginia firm, said the agency. The additive is supposed to boost the octane of the fuel. The manufacturer's recommendation is between 8 and 18 milligrams per liter.

The agency said it has 92 complaints from motorists about damaged vehicles.

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