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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 219                          Email us
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Mar Vista

The old Teja
The 5,000-colon mono
The mariposa

Slang terms for new banknotes is a work in progress
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

"Can you give me a couple of monos for a Figueres?"

"Or better yet, got any plasticos?"

Leave it to Costa Ricans to create short names for the currency. The old 5,000-colon note was a tucán because of the bird image it carried. The old 100-colon bill still lives on in the name of the daily newspaper that makes El Diario Extra look like staid The New York Times. A teja is a roof tile, and a 1941 version of the bill was red on the reverse like the clay tile, so the name stuck and was even applied to the 100-colon coin.

With a new issue of banknotes by the Banco Central, some of the slang terms still are up in the air. Figueres is gaining popularity for the 10,000-colon note that bears the image of the winner of the 1948 revolution.

Plastico is said with a sneer because few Costa Ricans like the 1,000-colon note which actually is made from that material. It resists folding and slips out of the pocket easily. Other slang terms cannot be printed.

Some Costa Ricans still call the colon the peso, although it is unlikely that they ever really handled an authentic peso bill. That currency was withdrawn in 1896. About the same time, banks were authorized to print their own bills, so some of the Costa Rica banknotes bear the names of state entities like Banco Anglo. Now issuing banknotes and coins is the domain of the Banco Central.

Although some bills have been called by the name of

reader's choic
Shall it be the colibrí or the carmen?
Spoof bill mocks expensive lunch on taxpayers

the individual printed on the face, the new 50,000-colon banknote is likely to be called the mariposa for the butterfly on the back. Everyone knows José María Figueres Ferrer, but hardly anyone knows Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno whose face graces the 50,000-colon note.

Better known is Carmen Lyra, the pen name of famous writer María Isabel Carvajal. She is on the 20,000-colon note. That might have quickly been called a carmen if many Costa Ricans did not like it. The denomination was too large for most retail trade, and some stores refused to accept it at first. The bill has a hummingbird on the reverse, so it might end up being known as a colibrí.

The new bills gradually are replacing the older versions. The older 5,000-colon, the tucán, and the 10,000-colon notes are valid for daily use until Dec. 31. After that they will have to be exchanged at a bank. After May 1 only the Banco Central will make the exchange for newer bills.

All the new bills except the hated 1,000-colon note are printed on cotton-fiber paper. They are different sizes to help sightless individuals.

In addition to slang terms, bills are great tools for satire. One Costa Rican Web site has issued its own set of bills, including one of 4.8 million colons for use by tax-happy lawmakers. There also is a 627,000-colon banknote to commemorate a $1,100 lunch politicians enjoyed at an Escazú restaurant. Featured on the bill is the face of former housing minister Clara Zomer, who ordered a $60 bottle of wine. All were with various anti-poverty agencies.

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Dogs and cats poisoned,
and no suspects located

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Animal lovers are frustrated in Paraíso de Cartago. Poisoned street dogs and cats continue to mount up.

Estimates are that more than 50 have been poisoned in recent weeks.

The residents are so upset by this continual slaughter of animals that they held a march Sunday with signs and banners. A few days later, more animals turned up dead.

Leading the campaign is the Organización Protección y Rescate de Animales de la Calle. Volunteers in the organization have expressed their unhappiness with the way public officials decline to become involved and seem to pass the buck.   For the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal, the problem is one for the Fuerza Pública, but the police have more urgent problems than tracking down dog and cat killers.

The volunteers have been unsuccessful in finding out who is killing the creatures. They have posted photos of the dead dogs and a cat on the organization Web site.

Street dogs and cats are a problem in Costa Rica. That is why organizations hold clinics to spay and fix the animals. But those involved in animal welfare point out that poison does not discriminate, and indiscriminate use can have unintended results.

Meanwhile, the animal poisoner or poisoners seem to be moving around the Paraíso area with dead animals turning up in different sections of the community.

Man with lumber in his truck
pepper-sprays inspectors

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man pepper-sprayed in the face two government environmental inspectors who were looking into a load of lumber he was transporting Tuesday, according to a bulletin from the security ministry.

The man fled in the truck, the report continues. However, a suspect in the case was detained and sentenced to five years in prison before the day was through. The bulletin identified the man in custody as Navarro Cerdas. The bulletin also said that the man was given the benefit of conditional release, meaning he did not go to prison.

The inspectors who were attacked were part of the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones. The inspectors had been investigating the suspect for months because they thought that he was cutting down trees for lumber in a protected zone in the Dota cantón, the report said.

The inspectors intercepted Navarro while he was driving his truck from the protected zone in question, about 2.5 kilometers east of the central park in Santa María de Dota. The report says that Navarro sprayed the inspectors with pepper spray when they tried to look in his truck, and he then abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot.

The bulletin says that police scoured farms and thickets before apprehending the man in dead-end alleyway.

Fuerza Pública officers collected 153 2.5-meter-long wooden planks from the truck, the report says. Police also confiscated a can of pepper spray the suspect had on him when he was arrested.

The report also says that the same evening, a flagrancy court judge gave Navarro a conditional sentence of five years in prison specifically for assaulting the government inspectors and not for wood he is suspected of harvesting illegally.

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
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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A.M. Costa Rica file photo               
These illegal rockets were acquired easily for New Year's last December.
Officials begin seasonal campaign to prevent fireworks injuries
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

“Zero burned, zero suffering, zero pain, zero deaths,” chanted 60 children from the Juan Rafael Mora Porras school. 

The students have been working with the Cruz Roja to learn about the danger of playing with fireworks, especially illegal ones made from gunpowder. 

The phase “zero burned, zero suffering, zero pain, zero deaths,” is the campaign created by the Ministerio de Salud, the security ministry, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, the Cuerpo de Bomberos, Cruz Roja Costarricense and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.  Thursday marked the first day of firework sales in the country for the holiday.  The period will continue until Jan. 31.

In this time the organizations want to make sure that no children are hurt, said Orlando Urroz Torres, the subdirector of Hospital de Niños

The security ministry reported that last October 35,000 units of gunpowder were confiscated.  They included bomblets, quarter sticks of dynamite, rockets, butterflies, dragon eggs and missiles.

The campaign will work to educate both children and adults through mass medias such as radio, television and social networks about the different types of gunpowder and its
danger, and give reports on relevant legislation which includes three to seven years jail time for those caught selling illegal fireworks. 

The police will be working to find and confiscate illegal fireworks, said Mario Zamora, the minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

"We will intensify efforts in prevention, and to the validity of the legislation which regulates and penalizes with imprisonment illegal trade in products made from gunpowder. We will not give up," Zamora said.

Despite all precautions, however, it will ultimately be up to the parents to make sure that both they and the children are acting responsible during festivities, said Juan José Andrade Morales, director general of the Fuerza Pública.

The officials urged those who find persons selling illegal fireworks to call the 911 emergency number.

The fireworks are a traditional part of the Christmas season and as the new year arrives, Costa Rica skies are filled with all kinds of illegal rockets. And there is the occasional injury to a youngster. There are fewer such injuries now because officials have maintained an anti-fireworks campaign for several years.

There are, however, secret fireworks factories in Costa Rica and the steady flow of foreign fireworks from the north and the south.

Being frugal begins with being a saver of useful things
I am a saver.  Not a hoarder who never throws anything away and finds herself trying to find a path to the front door among piles of old ice cream cartons and stacks of newspapers.  I save things that just might have another use.  It still means that as I get older, I worry about when it is time for me to clean out truly useless stuff and save my children the chore. 

My son seems to have inherited this habit as well as the trait of frugality (i.e. not wasteful, not spending freely or unnecessarily).  As I have said before, those with more money than time, spend their money saving time, and those with more time than money, spend their time saving money.  In this prolonged global economic downturn, there are many people with lots of time and little money. 

So I will share my son’s serendipitous story.  He discovered the plastic buckle was broken on his otherwise perfectly good North Face nylon hiking/travel cargo trousers.  He took the pants to a seamstress who was not interested in finding a buckle to fit the belt, which was attached to the pants.  He didn’t want to throw away a perfectly good pair of pants, and a couple of days later he remembered that he still had the Pfaff sewing machine that I had given him years before when he thought he would sew leather items.  He looked in his garage and there it was.  He shopped and found a buckle and sewed the belt himself. The total cost was $4. There is not just satisfaction in giving a piece of clothing a new life, 
there is downright pleasure in feeling self-sufficient and almost like you have beat the system that says throw away and replace. He is now re-reading the book of instructions that came with the sewing machine.

I allow that there are people who take great pleasure in spending enormous amounts of money on some luxury.  Probably the pleasure comes from the knowledge that they can afford it.

But not all who can, do. My friend Sandy doesn’t need to be frugal, but after years of living in Africa working for an NGO, she is well aware of the difference between wants and
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

needs.  And she, like I, feels the joy in finding exactly what she is looking for (and likes) at a bargain price, new or used. 

Thursday, after a visit to my dentist, I stopped at the Magnolia Restaurant in the Casino Colonial for one of their very tasty and bargain ejecutivo lunches.  This time it was black bean soup, meatballs with tomato sauce and mashed potatoes and vegetables, plus flan for dessert; all for just under 3,000 colons ($6).  And then, in the restaurant, a sign of the times: a young woman in shorts and very high heels was at another table.  She excused herself to go to the ladies room.  She walked a couple of yards and returned, not for her purse, but for her cell phone. Texting has replaced touching up your lipstick, I guess.

And then, what comes under lost in translation, perhaps.  I have written before that in my experience the best bathrooms in the city are in the casinos.  The Colonial is a prime example, except that there are no hooks in the stalls to hang your handbag. (I know, cell phones don’t need hooks.) I have suggested to them that they should put hooks on the doors for this purpose.
Thursday I was pleased to discover a nice shiny silver colored hook on the door of every single stall.  Unfortunately, they had put the hooks on the outside of the doors.  Who, I wondered, did they think would hang her purse on the outside of a stall door and then lock herself inside.  I was laughing so hard as I tried to explain to one of the employees, I am sure she had no idea what I was driving at.  I can hardly wait to discover what new creative place they will have found to put the hooks (if they even bother with this crazy Gringa’s suggestion.) I really enjoy life in the city.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 219
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Murder was highest cause of death in October, Cruz Roja says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More people were murdered in Costa Rica during the month of October than were killed by traffic collisions or any other violent form of death, according to a Cruz Roja report.

Of all of the 75 violent deaths that occurred in Costa Rica last month, more than a quarter of them were murders.

So far this year, 820 people have come to violent ends this year, the report says.

The Cruz Roja report says that these types of deaths can be reduced if people stop buying and selling weapons, pay better attention in their cars and follow traffic rules.

These results are part of a monthly statistics report compiled by the organization about unnatural deaths their staffers handle in Costa Rica. The data is not complete because sometimes rescue workers are not called to the scene when it is obvious that someone has been dead for some time.

The report mostly looks into murders and deaths as a result of vehicular accidents. These accidents include traffic collisions, people being run over by cars, people being trapped in
 vehicles, boating accidents and others that are all separate categories.

The report says that 20 people were either shot or stabbed to death last month, which is the highest number of the 11 categories. 18 people died from being in traffic collisions, being run over, overturning their vehicles. Six people also died in boating accidents, and four died from burns or electrical shocks.

The remaining 27 deaths were from various forms of urgent trauma or of unknown causes.

The report also says that Cruz Roja temporarily cared for 190 people last month, 101 of those people suffered injuries in traffic accidents.

Of those 101 who were injured in car accidents, researchers found a 25 percent mortality rate. The report specifically says that for every eight people injured, six were rescued by the Red Cross and two died at the scene.

Researchers also noted that 820 people have died in these ways so far this year, which is down from 827 at this time last year.
Researchers also noted that 75 people also died in August, and 92 people died in September.

Pink area shows land in the United States and Caribbean that was once above water when the sea level was up to 426 feet lower. The red areas are places that will be inundated with a 6.5 foot rise in sea level. The white area would become sea if the level rose more than 33 feet.

              level rise
Christian-Albrechts University/ Emanuel Soeding

Sea level rising faster than expected, Colorado professor says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A University of Colorado geologist is warning that the world's sea level is rising much faster than expected. He plans to present his findings at a Geological Society of America conference Sunday, the society said.

The professor is Bill Hay, who said that other estimates of sea level rise did not compensate for certain feedback mechanisms that were in his computations. Consequently, he expects a one-meter rise in sea level by the end of the century, about twice what other scientists have said, noted the society in a summary of his presentation.

Hay attributed the higher level to the way in which melting arctic ice opens the way for warmer water from the south that, in turn, causes more melting, said the society.

In Costa Rica, a one-meter rise would have a strong impact on coastal Costa Rica. Already Puntarenas Centro and Limón are flooding at tides higher than normal.
The sea level has been rising for 10,000 years after the end of the last ice age. The rise is estimated in the neighborhood of 200 feet. Costa Rican officials are blaming human-caused global warming and see the solution as the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Most scientists accept this theory, but reduction in greenhouse gas is a political rather than a scientific problem.

Costa Rica has established a 200-meter maritime zone on the coasts. Except for a few properties, the beachfront belongs to the state. However, the maritime zone is defined as 200 meters above mean high tide, so if the level of the tide changes, the maritime zone will move inland.

Costa Rica officials have yet to address this likelihood.

Another report Thursday said that sea level rise in Washington, D.C., could flood 103 properties by 2050 and cost the city $2.1 billion. A five-meter rise would cause damages in excess of $24 billion, said the report by University of Maryland researchers.

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Europeans favor status quo
in U.S. political battle

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Europeans are watching the final stages of the U.S. election campaign closely, concerned about how the outcome might affect global issues.  Europeans can't vote in the U.S. election, but, like people everywhere, they have a stake in its outcome.

From economic issues to Iran and the war in Afghanistan, the future of Europe is very much linked to the United States. And the two men who are vying to lead it for the next four years would seem to have very different views of the continent.

"I think the president wants to turn us into a European-style welfare state, an entitlement nation. That model has not worked anywhere in the world," Mitt Romney said on the campaign trail.

Barack Obama usually strikes a different tenor when he talks about the continent.

"Each step points to the fact that Europe is moving towards further integration rather than breakup and that these problems can be resolved, and points to the underlying strength in Europe's economies," said Obama at the G20 summit last June.

Senior fellow Xenia Dormandy of London's Chatham House says that difference in tone has been noticed on this side of the Atlantic.

"Romney talks about a strong, exceptional America, a leading America.  And he talks about increasing defense spending.  All of those things are things that make Europeans a little bit nervous," noted Ms. Dormandy.  "Contrarily, Obama, I call him a European leader.  He's very consensus-driven.  He's wanting to work in multilateral institutions, wanting to collaborate.  All of these things play very, very well in the European setting."

And that is part of the reason that polls indicate Europeans prefer President Obama by 75 percent or more over former governor Romney.  And Ms. Dormandy says those views have a practical impact.

"That really matters," Ms. Dormandy added.  "It will give freedom to the European leaders to work with Obama in a way that they won't have with Romney."

She says that is true even though their foreign policies will likely not really be very different.

And James Boys of King's College says that is true even on issues where Romney has spoken in strong terms, including Iran, Russia and China.

"It's easy to say, 'I will do things differently.'  History has revealed that there is a great difference between what is said on the campaign, when people advocate change, and a sense of continuity once people arrive in office," said Boys.  "The election has put a pause on the future direction of U.S. foreign policy.  And I think many of us here in Europe are anxious to see what transpires in the new year under a new administration, be it headed by Romney or Obama."

The U.S. election will be decided Tuesday night while most Europeans are sleeping.  Wednesday morning they'll either face a familiar and largely compatible figure, or a new and mostly unknown one, whose rhetoric has caused some initial concerns.

Slight improvement noted
in U.S. economic indications

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A flurry of reports show the U.S. economy improving slightly, just ahead of the presidential election.

Thursday, a company that processes millions of paychecks across the country reported that private sector companies are picking up the pace of hiring.

Another report from the U.S. Labor Department said the number of Americans signing up for unemployment aid fell last week by 9,000 to a nationwide total of 363,000.

An expert on labor economics, John Martin of IQNavigator, says those gains are consistent with a job market that is healing.

The improving job market probably played a role in still another report that showed consumer confidence improving in October to the highest level in nearly five years. 

Friday, government experts will publish the closely-watched U.S. unemployment rate.  Economists surveyed by the Bloomberg financial news service predict it will get slightly worse, rising one tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent.  They also expect the economy will have a net gain of 125,000 jobs. 

Martin says job gains at that level are just treading water because the economy has to add between 150,000 and 200,000 jobs per month just to keep up with new entrants to the work force.

Elephant mimics speech,
researchers have concluded

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A scientific investigation has concluded one elephant has learned to speak at least six words of Korean.

He is Koshik, a 22-year-old resident of South Korea's largest theme park in Yongin, who can repeat with startling clarity and matching both pitch and timbre patterns what his trainer says, including annhyeong, the Korean word for "hello" and joah, meaning "good."

"We found that Koshik's imitations were very similar in the acoustic structure with the human vocalizations and very different from the ones that natural Asian elephants do produce," said cognitive biologist Angela Stoeger of the University of Vienna.

Ms. Stoeger is the lead author of a research article about Koshik appearing in Current Biology.
The researchers had native Korean speakers living in Germany, who were not aware of Koshik, listen to excerpts from 25 hours of audio tape of the elephant's voice recorded during October 2010. The Korean speakers were able to write down precisely what Koshik was saying in their native language.

Ms. Stoeger said this is the first scientific evidence of vocal imitation for elephants and remarkable because his species usually does not make sounds at such relatively high frequencies.

"He's basically trying to match his vocalizations with his human trainers to be in social contact with them. It's a way of bonding with his people rather than using these vocalizations for their meaning," she explained.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 219
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Sala IV orders research
into fertilizer contamination

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV has ordered a litany of government agencies to find within three months the sources of fertilizer contamination in the water supplies of the communities of  Milano, el Cairo and Luisiana.

The agencies also must determine the cause and set up a plan to remedy the problem, said the court, according to a summary released by the Poder Judicial.

The fertilizer is a product of pineapple cultivation, according to residents of the zone. The amount of land devoted to pineapples has increased dramatically in recent years, and there have been previous environmental actions against producers. One operation was shut down for a time for environmental problems.

The court also ordered the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados to conduct a study of possible contamination at a number of water sources in the country.  They include:

Barva, Libertad and Colima, Banderillas de Cartago, Río Naranjito in Quepos, Río Jiménez, Río Santa Clara, Molino, the creeks of Pacayas and Plantón, the upper part of Río Reventazón, the Caribbean coral reefs, and the mangroves of Térraba- Sierpe and  Caño Negro.

The agency was ordered to report its findings to the court in two years.

Environmentalists have been protesting the cultivation of pineapple for years and blame foreign firms for damaging the environment.

Turrialba volcano dangers
topic of meeting this morning

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission will present a study today on the dangers associated with the Volcán Turrialba. The session will be in Teatro Municipal in Turrialba.

The study addresses preparations for an eruption and restrictions on the use of land in the vicinity of the mountain, said the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias. The volcano is surrounded by a national park, and access there has been restricted due to activities in the mountain.

The agricultural activities on the skirts of the mountain have suffered from the acidic vapors emitted by the mountain. The area is one of dairy farms.

The commission said that those who attend the 10 a.m. session will get an assessment of the dangers and ideas to help them prepare for an eruption.

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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