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(506) 2223-1327          Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 213       Email us
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Hydroponics labs called
new twist here for pot

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators detained a U.S. citizen from Heredia as the climax of a marijuana-growing investigation.

The Judicial Investigating Organization raided a hydroponics setup in San Antonio de Escazú not far from the local cemetery. They said they found a controlled growing environment complete with air conditioning. They also found a quantity of dried marijuana.

The Ministerio Público identified the U.S. citizen by the last names of Sage Rogers. The agency said he was 40 years old. The Municipality de Escazú, whose police participated in the raid, said his first name was Roger.  Also detained was a Nicaraguan man.

The security ministry quickly released a statement saying that more and more hydroponics operations are being put into operation. They said anti-drug agents made arrests this year in three cases: One April 22 in San Vito de Coto Brus and two in Heredia April 27.

The ministry said that these operations represent a new development in Costa Rica because no such hydroponics operation was discovered in 2010.

Mario Zamora, the security minister, said that marijuana plants raised hydroponically have a stronger effect on drug users.

The effect may be in the selection of plant varieties instead of the way they are raised.

In a hydroponics operation the plants are rooted in some non-organic substance like vermiculite or plastic mesh and fed with water laced with nutrients. Several local stores sell the needed supplies. Because the plants are indoors, the environment can be closely controlled.

The Policía Municipal de Escazú said that the suspect appeared to have been aware of the possibility of a raid and was moving much of his belongings. He was detained en route, they said.

Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Interior of the hydroponics operation

Municipalidad de Escazú photo
Suspect is questioned by a policeman

Investigators also searched the suspect's home in San Pablo de Heredia, they said. A vehicle was confiscated, they added.

The Ministerio Público said that prosecutors will seek six months preventative detention in a court hearing today.

Judicial agents said the arrests were the result of surveillance and following the suspect.

Absolute deadline for naming sloth is tonight at 6
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today at 6 p.m. Costa Rican time is the new deadline for submitting a vote to name the tourism institute's sloth.

Editors extended the deadline because some readers said today that they were unable to locate an email link. The link is:
The results will be published in the Friday paper.
There are six names that readers picked as finalists:

In alphabetical order: Flash, Manuel (or Manuel Antonio), Pokey, Slo Mo, Syd and Tico or Tico Feliz.

The sloth, called uncreatively Mr. Sloth by its creators, is the cornerstone of the North American trip giveaway by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. An earlier story is HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 213

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Our readers' opinions
Industrial revolution gets
a bad rap from presidents

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I have noticed that many Third World countries have become professional beggars with representatives knocking on all the doors at the U.N. in hopes of receiving a grant, a loan, a freebee of some kind, preferably the kind that you do not have to pay back or will be forgiven in time.  Costa Rica is one of the worst. 

Costa Rican reps know exactly where to go for free money.  They also are in touch with each and every developed country that has giveaways, such as assistance in technology, services in the civil arena as well as the military.  Costa Rica receives all kinds of help from the U.S., Canada, many European countries along with China and possibly other Asian countries. 

I'm sure if Chávez and Castro offered some cash Costa Rica would probably take it. This aid amounts to billions of dollars a year in freebies. 

Now our president wants to blame the weather on the industrial revolution which Costa Rica has not benefited from.  Now she wants developed countries to feel guilty about the weather and donate millions for the necessary repairs of the infrastructure. 

I suppose the world is to blame for the terrible engineering and construction of these roads at conception.  I guess President Chinchilla's plan to become the president of a developed country has just been put on hold.  Maybe another day, another year, another century — but not under this presidents rule. 

Sorry. Girl. The Gringos up north aren't buying it. Your potholes will just have to get bigger by the day and wait for the road crew who comes whenever they wish.  Maybe the Chinese will go for it.  Taiwan may have, but they were booted for a monetary upgrade which included a questionable stadium and two hundred Great Wall cop cars (thanks to reverse engineering of the Toyota) of which many are already wrecked and or out of commission.  Easy come easy go.
Bruce Simpson
Hone Creek/Miami

Third World countries need
to dump socialism to grow

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I was shocked by the article "Presidents blame First World for damaging storm."  I am used to reading in your pages, mainly from letters to the editor columns and one "Butterfly,"   little gems of colossal ignorance. But it was astounding to hear it from presidents and ambassadors of actual countries . I think that this declaration goes a long way to explain why these countries are Third World and will remain that way forever . To blame the industrial revolution for the plight of these nations is really ridiculous . It is impossible for me to imagine what kind of misery and squalor the world would be in today if it was not for the industrial revolution .

The complaining countries are in the shape they are in today because they continue to cripple their economies with socialism. They will never improve their lot by asking for handouts . They need to develop what natural resources they have (oil, gold . Rivers. Etc.), cut out government red tape and try to emulate the first world . They need to put capitalism to work for them everywhere they can.

Now this global warming hoax . The earth may be warming or it may be cooling . That is what it does . It warms for a while and then it cools for a while. It always has, and I hope it always does . In spite of a bunch of junk scientist (most of which profits in some way by proclaiming that man is warming the earth) and a hysterical Al Gore, it has not been shown that man-made emissions are much of a problem. The anti-capitalists of the world want to kill the world economies for no reason other than that they are socialist and anti-capitalist .

The statements of these leaders make them look ignorant, whiney and petty .
Bill Pitts
Fort Worth,Texas

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, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 213

Those pre-Columbian ceramics all belong to the government
By Zachery McDonald
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has been defined in three major archaeological areas: El Gran Nicoya, the Central Region and El Gran Chiriqui. The design and style of artifacts from each region are as different as the geography. However, the one similarity for every gold, stone or jade pre-Columbian artifact is they all belong to the Costa Rican government.

Established in the national archaeological heritage act in 1982, all private owners are required to register the relics. If not then in the state´s possession, any person in possession of an artifact is responsible for its well being. So, if the state´s property is damaged or lost, the penalty is from 5,000 to 40,000 colons. If an owner attempts to take an artifact out of the country, the penalty could be a four-year commutable prison sentence.

All artifact holders are required to submit to a public archaeological registry, according to the law. At the time the law when into effect, holders could retain possession if the piece was submitted for registry within six months. Now there is a risk of losing the artifacts.

Persons who go to the Museo Nacional to register artifacts must be committed to return them, according to Francisco Corralles, who is again director of the museum. ¨We cannot do assessments.¨

The museum staff looks at the form, size and finish to determine authenticity, Corralles said. If it is decided to be a pre-Columbian artifact and is returned to the holder, the nature and dimensions of the object, its origin, the place where it is today, the name and address of the holder and photographs of the object are all taken among other things, according to the law.

If the artifact is confiscated, it is placed in what Corralles referred to as a storage facility. The museum has a large warehouse in Pavas.

¨Once the judicial procedure is complete, they can be used for a museum exhibit,” he said.
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
No matter who has them, these probably belong to the state.

The museum has helped conduct raids to obtain artifacts from private collections.

Many Costa Ricans have miniature museums with extensive and uncatalogued collections of ancient ceramics. Many of these collections predate the modern laws against private ownership of such materials.

Yet, many of the same figures and pots can be found at the Sunday flea market in Sabana Este. Are they stolen? Are they copies? Are they fresh from some unrecorded find?

A former director of the Museo Nacional lost her job because her family kept an extensive collection of pre-Columbian ceramics and other artifacts. She failed to report the materials, officials said. Yet the collection may be legal.

Museum officials periodically raid a location and carry off pots, figures and even those unusual stone balls that are a hallmark of early south Pacific culture.

Sometimes they need a flatbed truck.

There are other violations that relate to archaeology. Finding a site and not reporting it also draws a penalty as does moving an archaeological monument within the country without approval. Damaging or stealing an artifact also draws a prison term.

The Dominical-San Isidro de El General road was blocked for nearly 24 hours Tuesday and Wednesday because a tractor trailer slid off the pavement and the rear wheels of the trailer became trapped in a culvert. There were no injuries but the predicament perplexed tow truck drivers.

road closed
Photo by Harley Toberman

Matinee 2011
A.M. Costa Rica/Zachery McDonald and Andrew Kasper
Alexander Oh shows his expertise with the saber, as do native dancers after a word from Raúl Bonilla
Fuerza Pública turns show producer to help talented kids
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Every mother knows that idle hands are the Devil's workshop, so to keep kids out of trouble some kinds of hobby, avocation or sport is needed.

The Fuerza Pública in the province of San José has adopted this philosophy, and police officers presented Matinee 2011 Wednesday where groups of youngsters could show their talent.

Music does not harbor ill will or violence, said Raúl Rivera Bonilla, the regional police chief. Most of the groups came from what the police call priority areas.

Most of the participants were under 15 years, including a group from Fundación Casa de los Niños who sung an adaptation of the Noah's Ark story, complete with crocodile, Noah himself and various youngsters playing raindrops.
The Fuerza Pública has been sponsoring this show since 2008, and Wednesday the Teatro Popular Melico Salazar's first level was nearly full with each group wearing a distinctive color.  There were musicians, dancers and even a display of martial arts put on by the Centro de Artes Orientales from Los Yoses.

The overall theme was against drugs and violence, and the youngsters seemed receptive. Most had practiced at length to put on their performances.

The event is an extension of the various fairs and presentations that the police make all year long. The dancing ranges from a form of ballet to native ritual to even belly dancing by adult participants.

The Fuerza Pública is under the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública, and the role mainly is prevention.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 213

Interamericana Norte finally opened to light traffic and buses
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The road agency reported that it was opening the Interamericana Norte at Cambronero to passenger vehicles and public transport.

The route is not pretty, but vehicles can pass by it for the first time in a week. Work will continue today, said the Consejo de Vialidad.

Meanwhile, a low pressure area is moving west into Costa Rica, but forecasters do not see it as much of a threat. The forecast for today calls for a return to the usual pattern of hot mornings, perhaps with some light showers on the Caribbean coast and the norther zone with possible downpours in the afternoon for the Pacific, the Central Valley and the northern zone as well as the mountains of the Caribbean coast.

That is good news for highway workers, who managed to open up all but eight routes Wednesday.

The road agency said that the problem at Cambronero near San Ramón was water infiltrating the soil under the highway. That caused the highway to collapse.

Meanwhile, the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social said it had spent 125 million colons through Wednesday helping some 500 families. That is about $245,000. Most of the aid went to provide the basic necessities for those who had been flooded out of their homes.

Most were in Guanacaste or in the Golfito area. Others will need help as they return to their soaked homes.

In Escazú Wednesday officials were considering the problems caused by a tragic landslide last year. This was the slide that killed residents along Calle Latas as a result of Hurricane Tomas. The location is in San Antonio de Escazú.

Consejo de Vialidad photo
A taxi gingerly transverses the damaged area

The municipality and various aid agencies said they would begin construction of homes for some 54 families at the beginning of the year. The public project will be getting help from private firms, officials said. The homes will be ready by the start of 2013, officials said.

Tomas, hurricane and tropical storm No. 19, formed Oct. 29 and never touched Central America, but its effects destroyed hundreds of miles of roads in Costa Rica and caused major landslides, including the one that killed the 21 persons in San Antonio de Escazú.

Developers lose an appeal that would have kept them from jail
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men who engaged in a fraud involving homes for the poor have lost their appeal to the Sala III of the Corte Suprema.

Three of the men, two brothers with the last name of Arrieta Torres and a builder with the last names of Solano Castillo, face eight years in prison.

The brothers are engineers.
A fourth man, Mora Cordero, was an employee of the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social. He faces a six-year term, said the Poder Judicial.

The men promised the poor new homes in La Fila del Rosario de Aserrí and then found financing via the Instituto Mixto and Mutual de Cartago. Mora certified that the land was appropriate for building, and Mutual made a loan, said the Poder Judicial.
The new homes never were built. The case stems from 2000 and 2001.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 213

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

The taller candidate seems
to get most votes, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

When it comes to voter preference, a candidate’s position on the issues count. But some may check a name on a ballot for a more primal reason: the candidate’s stature.

Researchers at Texas Tech University suggest that height affects voters’ preference in political leaders, possibly for instinctive reasons going back to caveman days.

The findings were published in the journal Social Science Quarterly by a political science professor, Gregg Murray, and graduate student David Schmitz.

"A near-universal fear of snakes and a preference for unhealthy fatty foods likely evolved from a time when snakes were a common threat and caloric intake was uncertain,” Murray says.  “We believe similar traits exist in politics."

The authors point to what’s called the big man tribal leadership of many ancient societies, as well as the impact of physical strength on status in the animal kingdom. And they note that the taller candidate has won 58 percent of U.S. presidential elections between 1789 and 2008.

The authors asked 467 American and foreign-born college students to draw a figure that represented their concept of a "typical citizen" and an "ideal national leader" before being asked to draw both figures together. Some 64 percent drew the leader taller than the citizen.

The researchers then asked the students to assess themselves as leaders and potential political candidates. The results revealed a statistically significant association between height and the students’ self-assessment as leaders.

Researcher Schmitz writes that "culture and environment alone cannot explain how a preference for taller leaders is a near-universal trait we see in different cultures today, as well as in societies ranging from ancient Mayans, to pre-classical Greeks and even animals." 

At 185 centimeters - 6'1" - Barack Obama was noticeably taller than his 173-centimeter (5'8") Republican opponent, John McCain, in 2008. But at least two of his potential opponents in 2012, former governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, are as tall, or a little taller, than the president.

Abraham Lincoln, at 193 centimeters (76 inches), was one of our tallest presidents. He loomed over his second opponent, Stephen A. Douglas, who stood just 163 centimeters (64 inches).

Population milestone near
as U.N. report urges action

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

The world’s population is set to reach the seven billion mark on Monday.  The milestone will have broad implications.

A new U.N. report on the state of the world’s population says how humans respond now will determine whether they have a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future or one marked by inequalities, environmental decline and economic setbacks.

The report argues that the seven billion mark can be viewed positively, because it reflects achievements that are allowing more persons to survive birth and live longer. But Richard Kollodge, one of the study’s authors, says it also underscores the gaps within and among countries, particularly in the developing world.

“In many low-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa and some in Asia, population growth rates are outpacing economic growth and the ability of governments to provide adequate services," he said. "In many mid-income countries where population growth has stabilized, issues of urbanization and migration factor heavily into population dynamics.”

The report projects that Asia, with its 4.2 billion residents, will remain the most populous region of the world this century. But Africa’s population is expected to grow significantly too — tripling from one billion this year to 3.6 billion at the start of the next century.

Kollodge told reporters at the reports launch that dozens of countries with smaller populations are also facing challenges, but of a different kind.

“And in many European countries, Japan and elsewhere, fertility has fallen below the replacement level and governments in these countries are challenged by shortages of labor and productivity which potentially threaten quality of life for the aging populations,” he said.

The Americas, Europe and Oceania have a population now of about 1.7 billion. The U.N. Population Fund says they are projected to reach only two billion by 2060 and to remain close to that figure through the end of this century.

Kollodge says humans must ask which actions they can take now that will lead to environmentally sustainable development in the future. He says one of the most important is to educate women to fully participate in society and make informed reproductive decisions, and that men and boys need to be part of this conversation.

“Consider that there are still 215 million women of child-bearing age in developing countries who would use family planning if only they had access to it," he said. "And there are millions of adolescent boys and girls in the developing world who have little or no access to information about how to prevent pregnancies or protect themselves from HIV.”

He and the study’s other authors also urge governments to invest in the health and education of their young people; work to eradicate poverty; provide for their growing aging populations; be responsible stewards of the environment; and plan for the growth of cities, because that is where the planet’s population is migrating.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 213

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U.N. expert sees Internet
as catalyst for change

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An independent United Nations human rights expert has urged governments to ensure that the Internet is made widely available, accessible and affordable to all, and to guarantee the free flow of information online.

“Governments are using increasingly sophisticated technologies and tactics which are often hidden from the public to censor online content and to monitor and identify individuals who disseminate critical or sensitive information,” said Frank La Rue, the special rapporteur on freedom of expression.

In his annual report to the General Assembly, La Rue states that these actions by governments frequently lead to arbitrary arrests and detention.

“In recent months, we have seen a growing movement of people around the world who are advocating for change – for justice, equality, accountability of the powerful and better respect for human rights,” he noted, “and the Internet has often played a key role in such movements by enabling people to connect and exchange information instantly and by creating a sense of solidarity.”

La Rue noted that the potential of the Internet as a catalyst for change has also generated fear among those who prefer to maintain the status quo. However, in his view, such fear of change cannot justify monitoring, censoring, or blocking access to the Internet.

In his report, La Rue outlines four types of exceptional expression which states are required to prohibit and criminalize under international law. These are child pornography; incitement to commit genocide; incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence; and incitement to terrorism.

He recommends that states refrain from criminalizing all other forms of expression, and also outlines the safeguards which must be in place to prevent censorship of content under the guise of seemingly legitimate goals.

Noting that three-quarters of the world still lack access to the Internet, La Rue also stresses the need for states to renew their efforts to make this medium widely available, accessible and affordable to all.

States must also ensure that everyone, including persons with disabilities, can fully participate in the information society, he added. For example, while 81 per cent of the total United States population has access to the Internet, the figure is only 4 per cent among people with disabilities.

La Rue, a national of Guatemala, has served as the special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2008. He reports to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.

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