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(506) 223-1327          Published Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 220        E-mail us    
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Raytheon says it filed trademark but didn't buy land on Nicoya
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Raytheon Co., the U.S.-based corporation that makes weapons, said Friday that a filing of a trademark with the Registro Nacional in Costa Rica really was done at its request.

However, the firm denies having become involved in buying real estate on the Nicoya Peninsula and said that it would take legal steps against the owner of the Costa Rican company Raytheon S.A., "if the situation isn't correct immediately."

The company for weeks has denied that it had any involvement in Costa Rica. After being prodded again by reporters, Anne Marie Squeo, the firm's public relations director, said Friday that a Dec. 15, 2005, trademark filing was indeed authorized by her company.

However, she called the trademark registration routine and something the company does all over the world to protect its name.

"This filing does not imply in any way that Raytheon plans to initiate business activities in Costa Rica," she said.

Opponents of the free trade treaty, including legislator Óscar López of Partido Accesibilidad sin Exclusión, seized upon the Raytheon filing and the name Raytheon S.A. in the national registry as proof that the multinational weapons manufacturer was planning to open up shop in Costa Rica.

Although the trademark filing was last December, a notice also appeared in the Oct. 16 La Gaceta official newspaper. The local lawyer involved
would not comment on the La Gaceta item.

López issued a press release citing the trademark filing and the fact that Raytheon S.A. had purchased land for $125,000 near Paquera. The company Raytheon S.A. appears to have been filed by a Costa Rican who holds a position in at least 200 corporations.

The issue became a rallying point for free trade oponents during the Oct. 23 and 24 demonstrations, and some signs accepted as a fact that the multinational was going to open a branch here.

López seems to have not contacted the U.S. headquarters of the firm before launching his attack even though Paquera on the east coast of the Nicoya Peninsual seems to be an odd place to build missiles and torpedoes.

Of the real estate transaction, Raytheon Co. said: "We have also found that a parcel of land was recently purchased the land in Puntarenas province of Costa Rica by a person using the Raytheon name without our permission. The purchaser of the land has no connection with  Raytheon.  We have already contacted the purchaser's attorney about the matter, and we are considering legal action if the situation isn't  corrected immediately."

Meanwhile, López last week filed a complaint with the International Atomic Energy Commission because he said Costa Rica was violating a nuclear non-proliferation treaty because the free trade treaty would bring fissionable material into the country. He said he was worried about nuclear weapons being constructed here.



Sandinista Ortega keeps his advantage in Nicaragua
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Updated at 6:55 p.m. Monday)
Daniel Ortega Saavedra continues to hold an election lead that would make him president in Nicaraguan.

Returns have been slow, and the latest totals released by the Consejo Supremo Electoral represent only about 61 percent of the 11,274 polling places.

Ortega had 581,065 or 38.66 percent.

His closest opponent, Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense candidate Eduardo Montealegre Rivas, had 465,915 or about 31.0 percent.

Thanks to a constitutional change engineered by Ortega, a first-round winner only has to get 35 percent of the popular vote and best his nearest opponent by 5 percent of the total cast.

Election observers generally agree that Ortega could not win a runoff, which would take place in the event there is no first-round winner.

Partido Liberal Constitucionalista candidate and former vice president Jose Rizo Castellón had 342,777 or 22.8 percent.

Ortega has held about 40 percent of the vote since the start of the official count. He is the former guerrilla leader and ex-president who was a thorn in the side of the U.S. Reagan administration.

Ortega is the standardbearer of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, which waged a bloody war with the U.S.-backed contras in the 1980s. In this election he was backed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez who lavished money on the campaign.

Montealegre told reporters in Managua that the early returns were not representative and that he
Candidate
%
José Rizo Castellón
Partido Liberal Constitucionalista
22.8
Eduardo Montealegre Rivas
Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense
31.0
Daniel Ortega Saavedre
Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional
38.66
Edmundo Jarquín
Movimiento Renovación Sandinista
7.26
Totals reflect 61 percent of total polling places


anticipated a second round in which he would face Ortega. Others said that Ortega looks like a sure winner.

The United States declined to back Rizo, openly supported Montealegre and split the anti-Ortega vote.

Voting was generally orderly. Just eight persons had been arrested, including one man who got surly when told he cold not have a cell phone in a polling place.

U.S. observers questions some aspects of the voting, but the Carter Center and the Organization of American States said the voting appeared to be fair. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was an observer as was Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo.

Ortega led pre-election polls but not by 40 percent of the vote. In many districts the early returns show Ortega getting double the votes of his nearest rival.

The election is important to Costa Rica even though President Óscar Arias Sánchez said over the weekend that the political situation has changed since Ortega last was in power.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 220


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La Fortuna is location
of judicial police office


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The good news is that La Fortuna de San Carlos now has an office of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The bad news is that increase crime is what caused officials to open the office.

The Poder Judicial said that the office opened Oct. 9 some 150 meters east of the Banco Popular in a building once used by the Fuerza Pública and the Correos de Costa Rica.

The town is a popular tourist spot because it is close to the Arenal volcano.

The office is being staffed by two investigators and will cover Guatuso, La Tigra, Monterrey, Venado, part of Florencia and Cutris.

The Poder Judicial said that the office was opened because of the great number of crimes especially those against tourists such as burglaries, robberies, thefts and similar as well as the contraband in cattle and drugs in the region.

Crime has increased in the area in the last three years, and tourists have complained that the Fuerza Pública did little more than take reports. Under Costa Rican law the Judicial Investigating Organization is the agency that investigates crimes.

Woman in Alajuelita
found strangled at home


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Someone strangled a 24-year-old woman in Alajuelita, and police found her body Saturday night after a relative called them.

The woman's boyfriend is suspected. He is believed to be a fugitive. The victim, Helen Venegas Corrales, was a victim of a beating because her face had been injured.

The woman lived in Batán in the Provincia de Limón. But relatives said she moved to the Central Valley to be with her boyfriend about three months ago.

Seventh fugitive caught
in early morning raid


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers captured the seventh fugitive from a prison break. The action took place Saturday morning at a shack in Cartago.

The man is Douglas Quirós Happer. Police said he was sleeping when they broke into the abandoned building but that he was surrounded by weapons, ranging from a pistol to a knife.

In addition to the Fuerza Pública, the Unidad Especial de Apoyo, the tactical squad, of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública was involved.

Among other items, Quirós had press clippings of his escape, police said. He was in jail for a 48-year sentence for robbery, kidnapping and rape.

Still missing is Rafael Herrera, known as "Rafa Loco."  He also fled the Alajuela prison Oct. 9. A guard died of bullet wounds during the escape.

Our readers' opinion

Vehicle noise upsets
another Pacific resident


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I would like to echo one of your reader's comments about vehicle noise in Manual Antonio. All areas of Quepos and Manuel Antonio are now affected by this insidious problem. The majority of the offenders are "pirate taxis" although there is a burgeoning number of so called "licensed taxis" joining the ranks (not to be outdone by the pirate taxis, of course). This is a problem that is destroying the tranquility as well as property values in the entire area.

I own a portable decibel meter and have casually measured the sound pressure levels while sitting in a restaurant. The readings on these screaming little monsters FAR EXCEED the limitation standards of any developed country in the world! The reader says the transitos don't know how to use this simple instrument. All one has to do is flip the "on" switch, point at the target and read the meter. What's the big problem?
Scott Morriss
Quepos-Manuel Antonio

Villalobos case obvious
even from the start


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As the Villalobos brothers saga drags on, I think we are in danger of forgetting one very significant point:  It was an obvious con from the outset.

The first time an acquaintance tried to persuade me to join, and told me that that my money would earn, guaranteed, 3 percent a month but that no one knew exactly how the operation generated such phenomenal returns, I said,  "Are you kidding?  It's sounds like a textbook ponzi scheme."  Obviously, I did not "invest."

I did waver.  As months turned into years and I saw my dimwitted colleagues revel in their returns, I thought to myself, "Is there something I'm missing?"  Another acquaintance suggested I invest, and he assured me, "There's nothing to worry about.  The guy builds churches with his money." That was it. Any doubts I had that it was not a con were quelled with that statement.  I did not invest.

A few months later, the payments stopped, and the man behind it all skipped out.  No significant amounts of investors' funds were ever discovered. No means of generating the incredible returns was ever discovered.  But this doesn't matter.  The faithful continue to believe, which means in essence that they've learned absolutely nothing from this experience.  They've been wronged by the government of Costa Rica, they claim, not blinded by their own greed.  The payments will resume — you just gotta believe!

Which reminds me — I happen to have come into possession of some prime real estate on the Pacific coast.  Prices are skyrocketing!  You can get in on the ground floor of this once in a lifetime opportunity.  Give me a call and let's see if I can't make at least one of us a fortune!
John Meyer
Atlanta, Georgia
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 220








Judicial Investigating Organization photos
              Part of the confiscated cocaine
          Cash found under a magazine shipment

Investigators say they have cut one coke delivery land route
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have uncovered a complex operation that was delivering cocaine into México with the presumed destination being the United States, they said.

Unlike other operations, this band of smugglers used tractor trailers to carry the cocaine through Central America and to bring cash back.

The investigation resulted in a string of raids Friday, including one in the community of Vázquez de Coronado and the other at Villa Zurquí in San Isidro de Heredia.

Agents identified as the leaders of the operation a 44-year-old man with the last names of  Sosa Rivera, who lived in Coronado, and said he operated Cabezales y Repuestos Sosa, in San Luis de Santo Domingo, Heredia. A second man with the last names of Zumbado Guerrero was arrrested in San Isidro de Heredia. He is 43 years old.

The cocaine originated in Colombia, said Jorge Rojas, 
director of the Judicial Investigating Organization. The drugs moved via a land route into Panamá and then into Costa Rica, frequently in trucks hidden among fruit.  The drugs would be warehoused in Costa Rica and then shipped out in tractor trailers either hidden under scrap steel or
some other product to divert border authorities.

The first truck that fell into police hands did so July 22 at Peñas Blancas. Some 688 kilos of the drug was found.

Another cargo was intercepted in August, and Panamá police stopped a truck carrying $2.5 million in cash in early October. The money was being returned to Colombia, officials said.

The latest interception was Tuesday when agents, again at the Peñas Blancas border crossing with Nicaragua, intercepted nearly $2 million hidden under a shipment of magazines.

Six other persons were detailed in the raids Friday for investigation into possible connection with the operation.


This is a tale of burned out love and a little bit of bigamy
Donde hubo fuego cenizas quedan.

“Where there was once fire ashes remain.” This dicho is telling us that important events in life don’t disappear completely. There is always some telltale evidence of them left behind. And out of those ashes passions, like the mythical Phoenix, can sometimes reemerge.

Take a love affair, for example, that once may have burned with great intensity but then, as is frequently the case with such consuming preoccupations, the fire died away leaving only the remnants of once ardent desires. In the case of love, however, those ashes can often retain their heat long after the actual flames have vanished.

In Barrio Otoya, near the Hospital Calderón Guardia in San José, once lived the father of one of my sisters-in-law. He was fairly well off and owned many houses in the area.

As a teenage boy, I remember going to this neighborhood for a visit. There I encountered a woman that my sister-in-law referred to as Mama Cecilia but who was not her biological mother. While there, I met a boy about my same age that my sister-in-law kept referring to as her brother. As it turned out he was Mama Cecilia’s son, and he invited me to go to play fútbol in another house.

At this second house I met several other boys and girls who all claimed the father of my sister-in-law to be their progenitor as well. They called one another brother and sister, though it seemed that most of them had different mothers.

Finally, I began to put two and two together and realized that in each of his many houses this man had ensconced a different “wife,” or “girlfriend,” as the case may be. Much of the neighborhood seemed to be his virtual harem!

The following Sunday I visited the real mother of my sister-in-law who, by the way, was married to a very pleasant man whose sensibilities tended more toward the

The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto


monogamous. I asked her if all those children in Barrio Otoya where siblings of my sister-in-law, her daughter. She answered in the affirmative, albeit rather shyly.

I also wanted to know why she had chosen to live so far away on the complete opposite end of town. To this she replied, “Donde hubo fuego cenizas quedan,” meaning, as I had surmised, that all those other women were jealous of her because at any moment a flame might be rekindled from the ashes of the desire that once existed between her and her erstwhile lover.

But, these mere “kept women” had nothing to fear from her. This now seemingly happily married woman was not likely to be burned again by the blaze of an old passion. For her the ashes of youthful obsession had grown cold and been all but swept away by a pragmatic wind.

She had made her peace with life and with love, I suppose, and seemed content and settled. But it was a settlement that resembled resignation, a contentment tinged with sadness. Something vital and compelling had been lost, and she knew it. Now, there was only time.



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 220





New bird flu strain seems to be taking over in southern China
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A new variant of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus, the Fujian-like strain, has replaced most other strains across a large part of southern China since 2005 despite mass poultry vaccinations, according to researchers at the University of Hong Kong and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.

The work was supported in part by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Li Ka Shing Foundation, a Chinese organization that supports education and medical care.

The Fujian strain has been known in southern China and Southeast Asia since 2003, but scientists have seen an increased occurrence of the virus since 2005.

The strain might be responsible for an increased number of poultry infections since October 2005 and for the recent human cases in China, the study said. The strain has been transmitted to Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand, causing a new bird flu outbreak wave in Southeast Asia that also has caused human infections.

In 2005, the World Health Organization confirmed 95 human cases of avian influenza in five countries. In the first eight months of 2006, the World Health Organization confirmed 96 human cases in nine countries.

“The Fujian virus doesn’t appear to be of any more risk to humans,” said Michael Perdue, a physician and project leader for avian influenza in the Global Influenza Programme at the World Health Organization, “other than the fact that maybe it’s a little more widespread and it seems to be supplanting the other strains in the region.”

As far as scientists know, he added, “there’s no increased — or decreased — likelihood of human transmission. It’s basically the same overall genetic content of the other H5N1 viruses.”

Worldwide, the seventh human death in Egypt from H5N1 avian flu, confirmed by the Ministry of Health Oct. 31, brings the total number of human cases to 256, with 152 deaths.

China's Health Ministry has sent samples of the human strains of H5N1 to the World Health Organization for distribution to scientists around the world for study, but its ministry of agriculture has not sent samples from birds since 2004.
“Our country office in Beijing has been trying for the last two years,” Perdue said, “to get samples of viruses that are circulating in animals in China sent to the WHO collaborating centers so we can put them in our archives of H5N1 viruses for diagnostics and vaccine development.”

According to news reports, the World Health Organization has criticized China’s agriculture ministry for complicating efforts to learn about the virus and to understand the implications of its spread in China and Southeast Asia.

The U.S.-Chinese researchers studied live-poultry markets in six provinces of southern China from July 2005 to June 2006, finding that 1,294 of 53,220 birds were H5N1 positive, mainly ducks and geese, an increase from the 2004-2005 period.

Since November 2005, some 22 human cases have been confirmed in 14 Chinese provinces, and some of these victims lived in metropolitan areas far from poultry farms.

“Whether those people were infected locally and directly from affected poultry or other sources, including humans,” the study said, “is still unknown.”

According to the study, “Emergence and predominance of an H5N1 influenza variant in China,” in the November online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, H5N1 influenza virus caused poultry outbreaks in China in 12 provinces from October 2005 to August 2006 despite a compulsory poultry vaccination program that began in September 2005.

The emergence and rapid distribution of the Fujian strain, despite the vaccination program that began in September 2005, suggests that H5N1 control measures are inadequate, said study co-author Robert Webster, a member of the St. Jude Infectious Diseases Department, in a statement.

“Given the lack of systematic influenza surveillance in poultry at a national level,” the authors wrote, “the timely identification of the source of human infection is almost impossible.”

Comprehensive influenza surveillance in humans and animals is urgently required in H5N1-affected regions, the authors added, and it is critical that similar surveillance programs begin in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and India.

“Perhaps most importantly,” they said, “information from northern China is required because it could answer key questions regarding the movement of H5N1 in and out of southern China, the hypothetical influenza epicenter.”


Western Europe surprised by a temporary power failure that hit six countries
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Across Western Europe, power cuts temporarily plunged homes into darkness overnight. Millions of people were affected in France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Spain and Italy.

When the power went out some people were in elevators, others were cooking and others were watching television. It was late Saturday, when millions were plunged into darkness across western Europe.

Rail and underground trains were delayed, and thousands of worried citizens called the emergency services. No injuries were reported.

In France, about five million people were left without power, including many in the capital, Paris. Firefighters said about 15 French regions were affected, and many homes were still without electricity early Sunday. Homes in Austria, Belgium, Italy and Spain were also affected, though supplies were quickly restored.
Heavily populated areas of Germany, where the power outage originated, were also plunged into darkness.

The Private German company Generator E.On A.G. said the problems began in the northwest of the country, where its network became overloaded, possibly because it shut down a high-voltage transmission line over a river to allow a ship to pass safely.

The company said it had shut down transmission lines in the past without causing problems, and that it was still trying to discover what happened this time.

In Italy, speaking to reporters in his hometown of Bologna, Prime Minister Romano Prodi said the incident suggested Europe needed to strengthen its coordination of power supplies.

He said there is a contradiction between having European power links and not having a European power authority. Prodi added that countries depend on each other, but are not able to help each other, and do not have a central authority.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 220


Racers had to haul their bikes through the rail trestle over the Río Reventazón during the competition Sunday.

Photos by La Ruta de los Conquistadores


Canadian biker takes top spot in La Ruta endurance race
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Canadian Marg Fedyna took first place in the women's division of the grueling La Ruta de los Conquistadores. The

León Hector Páez
Edmonton biker had a total time for the three-day event of 19 hours. 11 minutes and 15 seconds. More than an hour off the pace but still good enough for second was Louise Kobin of the United States, who had a total time of 20 hours, 23 minutes and 23 seconds. Hillary Harrison, also of the United States was third with a total time of 20 hours, 39 minutes and seven seconds.

Colombian bike racing champ León Hector Leonardo Páez took
the men's division with 14 hours, one minute and 52 seconds. Páez did not finish first Sunday in the third leg of the Pacific to Caribbean race. He was fourth but had accumulated enough time advantage during the first two days to take the
title. He was a favorite because he won the mountain bike division of the Panamerican Games this year.

Costa Rican Andrei Amador Bikkazakova was second with 14 hours, 26 minutes and 33 seconds, some 24 minutes and 41 seconds off the leader's pace. Third was Federico Ramírez Méndez, also a Costa Rican, who finished with 14 hours, 39 minutes and 49 seconds. Both  Amador and  Ramírez are members of the local Pizza Hut team.

The third day was more for speed than endurance. The mountain climbing of the first two days was behind the races, but they still had to follow the railroad route in the Provincia de Limón and sometimes carry their bikes over railroad trestles.

Of the more than 600 racers who started in Jacó Friday morning, just 370 started the third lap from Aquiares near Turrialba at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

Jeremiah Bishop, the U.S. favorite, remained in a clinic Sunday, according to race organizers. His bike slipped on loose gravel Saturday, and he was injured.


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