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These stories first were published Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2001
Betty does not disappoint her fans as she becomes a beauty
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Betty la Fea became Betty the Beautiful Tuesday night as the popular Colombian television novella moved towards its predictable conclusion.

According to the story line, Betty is she of the horned rimmed glasses, braces, nerdy hairstyle and unpleasant guffaw. 

She has been the butt of jokes, manipulations and disrespect at EcoModa, the Bogota fashion company where more people look as if they stepped from the pages of glamour magazine.

Now Betty does, too, thanks to a soap opera episode that had Betty getting a makeover while on a business trip to Cartegena. Viewers saw only closeups of makeup being applied amid frequent cuts to other action in the storyline.

Betty emerged with perfect makeup and a radiance only in the last five minutes of the show, just in time to break the heart of a man who had befriended her during her business trip.

Presumably she will return to the fashion firm where she used to work in an upcoming episode to exact justice from those who belittled her. 

Betty is Beatriz Aurora Pinzón Solano, played by actress Ana María Orozco. "Fea" means ugly in Spanish, and "Yo soy Betty la Fea" is the correct title of the show. Betty is the face pasted all over the products in the supermarkets here.

The Spanish-language show is aired by Channel 11 at 9 p.m. each weeknight.  The episodes leading up to a conclusion are second only to an important game by the national football team in attracting viewers.




A.M. Costa Rica photo
Neyling Moreno Espinoza and Fanny Cordero Chávez, two employees at Sharkey's Bar downtown, model the masks they will wear tonight for Halloween.
New U.S. law makes changes in civil liberties
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United States has fundamentally altered its domestic civil liberties in order to fight terrorism, and the effects doubtlessly will be felt in Costa Rica.

Friday President Bush signed into law an Act to Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, the so-called PATRIOT Act.
The bill gives the government and its agencies broad new powers.

Monday Bush issued a directive that makes it more difficult for anyone the government considers to be a terrorist or a supporter of terrorist groups to enter or remain in the United States. Actions protected by the U.S. constitution if done by an alien can mean deportation.

Add these measures to actions by the U.S. government to pull chunks of information from agency Web sites and a statement by Attorney General John Ashcroft that agencies should look for any legal reasons to deny Freedom of Information Act requests. That’s why civil liberties groups are fuming.

The U.S. government also purchased exclusive rights to commercial civilian satellite images of Afghanistan to keep non-government eyes from seeing the progress of the war there.

Meanwhile, perhaps as many as 1,100 persons are in jail. Most of these persons are non-citizens who are being held secretly either by the Immigration and Naturalization Service or secretly under a judge’s order. Immigration detainees have been secret in the past, but secret criminal arrests are abnormal in the United States.

The government says it needs to keep these people confined while they are investigating the terrorism of Sept. 11. Opponents call the prisoners the "disappeared ones," alluding to the political arrests and murders in Chile and Argentine two decades ago.

A coalition of civil liberties, human rights and electronic privacy organizations filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday seeking information on those detained and the procedures by which they are being held in secret.

The problem with the new, broad powers 

incorporated in the new PATRIOT law, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, is that they 
could be used against American citizens in routine criminal investigations completely unrelated to terrorism.

"These new and unchecked powers could be used against American citizens who are not under criminal investigation, immigrants who are here within our borders legally and also against those whose First Amendment activities are deemed to be threats to national security by the attorney general," said Gregory T. Nojeim, associate director of the ACLU's Washington office.The ACLU also said the procedure that brought the final version of the bill to the House floor is deeply flawed and an offense to the "thoughtful legislative process necessary to protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights."

Neither the House nor the U.S. Senate held extensive hearings on the proposed measure, but it was overwhelmingly approved in both places with just one U.S. senator and only 66 of 423 members of the House voting against it.

Bush told reporters Monday that the U.S. federal government is "going to tighten up" its visa policy to ensure that people who get visas to come into the United States fulfill the purpose of their visit.

He ordered that a foreign terrorist tracking task force be formed to make sure that the nation "is as safe as possible from people who might come to our country to hurt people."

"We welcome legal immigrants and we welcome people coming to America. We welcome the process that encourages people to come to our country to visit, to study, and to work. 

"What we don't welcome are people who come to hurt the American people," said the president.

In addition to creating the task force, the directive denies entry into the United States of aliens associated with, suspected of being engaged in or supporting terrorist activity. It also orders relevant agencies to locate, detain, prosecute, or deport any such aliens now in the United States.

The directive also orders a thorough review of student visa policies and seeks better coordination of immigration and customs policies with Canada and Mexico.

These are some of the objections to the anti-terrorism measure
By the A.M.  Costa Rica staff

The Center for Democracy and Technology, an electronic watchdog organization, criticized the newly enacted PATRIOT Law thusly: "This bill has been called a compromise but the only thing compromised is our civil liberties." The bill, according to this group:

o Allows government agents to collect undefined new information about Web browsing and e-mail without meaningful judicial review; 

o Allow Internet service providers, universities, network administrators to authorize surveillance of "computer trespassers" without a judicial order; 

o Overrides existing state and federal privacy laws, allowing FBI to compel disclosure of any kind of records, including sensitive medical, educational and library borrowing records, upon the mere claim that they are connected with an intelligence investigation; 

o Allows law enforcement agencies to search homes and offices without notifying the owner for days or weeks after, not only in terrorism cases, but in all cases — the so-called "sneak and peek" authority; 

o Allows FBI to share with the Central Intelligence Agency information collected in the name of a grand jury, thereby giving the CIA the domestic subpoena powers it was never supposed to have; 

o Allows FBI to conduct wiretaps and secret searches in criminal cases using the lower standards previously used only for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence. 

The text of the legislation and analyses by CDT and others are online at:

The civil liberties and governmental monitoring organizations have suggested that the legislation is just the beginning of measures under which the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others will gain much more power on the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The ACLU said in a letter to senators the new law would: 

o Permit the attorney general to indefinitely incarcerate or detain non-citizens based on mere 

suspicion, and to deny re-admission to the United States of non-citizens (including lawful permanent residents) for engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment. 

o Minimize judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance by law enforcement authorities in anti-terrorism investigations and in routine criminal investigations unrelated to terrorism. 

o Expand the ability of the government to conduct secret searches — again in anti-terrorism investigations and in routine criminal investigations unrelated to terrorism. 

o Give the attorney general and the secretary of state the power to designate domestic groups as terrorist organizations and block any non-citizen who belongs to them from entering the country. Under this provision the payment of membership dues is a deportable offense. 

o Grant the FBI broad access to sensitive medical, financial, mental health, and educational records about individuals without having to show evidence of a crime and without a court order. 

o Lead to large-scale investigations of American citizens for "intelligence" purposes and use of intelligence authorities to by-pass probable cause requirements in criminal cases. 

o Put the CIA and other intelligence agencies back in the business of spying on Americans by giving the director of Central Intelligence the authority to identify priority targets for intelligence surveillance in the United States. 

o Allow searches of highly personal financial records without notice and without judicial review based on a very low standard that does not require probable cause of a crime or even relevancy to an ongoing terrorism investigation. 

o Allow student records to be searched based on a very low standard of relevancy to an investigation. 

o Create a broad new definition of "domestic terrorism" that could sweep in people who engage in acts of political protest and subject them to wiretapping and enhanced penalties.

The ACLU Web site is www.aclu.org.

Some, but not all,  provisions of the PATRIOT Law are supposed to expire in four years.

Photo courtesy of Oilwatch
Students from the University of Costa Rica and elsewhere march through San José to the Ministry of Energy and Environment for  a one-hour demonstration Tuesday. The Students protested the possibility of an oil well being drilled offshore near Limón
Dead man carried
British passport

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Colombian military has found a British passport on the body of a man killed during combat with leftist rebels over the weekend. Colombian authorities are trying to determine what he was doing there. 

The army confirmed Monday that they had killed the man in the jungles of Choco, during a firefight with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrilla group. The passport he carried identified him as Jeremy Parks, a 28-year-old British national. It also showed he traveled to Cuba, Peru and Ecuador, and that he entered Colombia by land six weeks ago. 

Investigators have a puzzle on their hands. The document may have been stolen, so they are not sure the man who was killed is actually Parks. If he is, perhaps he was kidnapped. ELN rebels often kidnap civilians, demanding huge ransoms to help fund their insurgency. But if he was kidnapped, why was he never reported missing? 

Local media have speculated he may have been fighting alongside the rebels. Investigators are trying to find out whether Parks was perhaps linked to three Irish Republican Army suspects arrested in August. The three men were caught leaving a southern enclave controlled by Colombia's largest rebel army, known as the FARC. Prosecutors allege the trio had been teaching the guerrilla group how to build bombs.

Another drug suspect
extradicted to U.S.

Alleged Colombian drug kingpin Alejandro Bernal Madrigal is in U.S. custody to face trial for allegedly smuggling billions of dollars worth of cocaine into the United States.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says Bernal, known by the nickname "Juvenal," was extradited Tuesday to Miami from Colombia. He was handed over to U.S. agents earlier in Bogota and is expected to be arraigned later this week.

Officials say Bernal was arrested in1999 with another suspected drug figure, Fabio Ochoa, who was extradited from Colombia to the United States in September. Both men were arrested during a major narcotics crackdown called Operation Millennium.

Bernal and Ochoa are accused of smuggling 30 tons of cocaine per month into the United States and Europe. Ochoa was a leader of the now-defunct Medellin cartel.

In another development, U.S. State Department officials say they are revoking the visas of four Colombians who, authorities say, are linked to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a right-wing paramilitary group.

Spokesman Richard Boucher says the action stems from the U.S. government naming the group a foreign terrorist organization, which allows the United States to deny visas to its representatives.

Boucher said the action will ensure the individuals do not enter the United States, or are subject to expulsion if already in the country. 

Storm causes emergency
for battered Honduras

Honduran authorities have declared a state of emergency for the northern part of the country following several days of heavy rains and floods that have left at least one person dead and seven others missing. 

Officials say the severe weather affecting the country's Caribbean coast has caused rivers to overflow their banks and forced thousands to flee their homes. 

The heavy rains are being blamed on a cold front that has remained stationary over the country for several days. 

Authorities also have dispatched rescue workers to the affected areas, but say flooded roads are making travel difficult. The heavy rains are expected to continue for several more days. 

Some officials say the severe weather has brought back memories of Hurricane Mitch, which left thousands of people dead or missing in 1998 and caused widespread property and crop damage.

Argentina’s finances
take new bad turn

Argentina's financial markets suffered their worst one-day losses for the year, amid fears a restructuring deal for part of the country's $132 billion debt will effectively amount to a default. 

Argentina is appealing for financial help to the United States, the G-7 countries, and the multilateral lenders to finance a restructuring. But international credit-rating agencies have said they would regard restructuring as a default. 

According to Argentina's economy minister, Domingo Cavallo, the need for debt-restructuring emerged after tax revenues fell short of the government's target. 

 Earlier, Cavallo had enforced measures aiming at zero budget deficit, including cutting salaries and pensions by 13 percent and withholding $800 million worth of transfers to the country's provinces. 

New firm will track
menace of bioterrorism

A local private investigating firm is expanding to provide bioterrorism consultations and assistance in Costa Rica.

David Thomasun, one of the principals, said the firm was targeting all companies in Costa Rica and in Central America. He said another principal, Jonathan Hunter, has U.S. special forces training in biodetection and destruction.

Thomasun said the firm would be particularly useful for importers, airlines, high-tech companies, banks, and, of course, the postal services.

Thomasun is a former policeman who has run a detective agency for several years in Costa Rica, but the bioterrorism aspect is new, he said. The new firm will do surveys and provide instructions and training for employees, he said.

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