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(506) 223-1327          Published Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 221        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Ortega changed his stripes to win the presidency
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Daniel Ortega Saavedra conducted a winning campaign based on promises of reconciliation, love, peace and jobs.

His last campaign speech, given a week ago to a chamber of commerce audience, could have been
written by a Republican. And the Frente Sandinista Liberación Nacional campaign Web site looks like something from "Sesame Street."

In short, Ortega, 61, remade himself to win the presidency.

Gone is the revolutionary and the man who invoked legislative immunity

Daniel Ortega
when his stepdaughter accused him of sexual abuse.

Now Ortega promises to seek markets for Nicaragua wherever he can find them. He supports the free trade treaty with the United States, according to his last speech. But he wants markets in fellow Latin American countries, too.

As president, Ortega said he will rapidly attack health and education problems, social problems and the problem of citizen insecurity.

"We are entering a new stage where the principal of reconciliation we consider will continue being a basic fundamental," he said.

Like many other politicians Ortega now says he supports dialog, consensus and conversation at the expense of confrontation and polarization.

Ortega also promised to keep the government's hands off money being shipped by from overseas by Nicaraguan expats. This is a major source of income for the country.  Ortega promises that money that is sent as dollars or euros from elsewhere will remain dollars or euros in Nicaragua.

His most serious campaign error was to suggest he might impose state controls on foreign currency.

Of course, it was Ortega, the party leader, who negotiated with Arnoldo Alemán, the disgraced former president, to pass an election rule to permit someone to win with just 35 percent of the vote and a 5 point advantage. This comes in handy now.

Early today Ortega had 38.59 percent of the vote and more than a 7 point advantage over his nearest rival. That was with 61.9 percent of the polling places reporting and there did not seem to be

'With love, Nicaragua,' says Web page

José Rizo Castellón
Partido Liberal Constitucionalista
Eduardo Montealegre Rivas
Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense
Daniel Ortega Saavedre
Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional
Edmundo Jarquín
Movimiento Renovación Sandinista
Totals reflect 61.9 percent of total polling places

any chance of major changes based on geography.

Ortega was president from 1985 to 1990 after the fall of the Somoza dictatorship. He ran unsuccessfully in 1990, 1996 and 2001.

The transformation from authoritarian party leader and revolutionary to a peace and love candidate was accomplished, in part, by money supplied to the campaign by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Of course, the United States, whose proxies, the Contras, fought the Sandinistas in the 1980s, backed another candidate.

There also has been criticism that Ortega was able to use his links with Alemán to take control of the election mechanisms, but most observers say the vote was fair.

Although foreign investors and residents are concerned with the apparent Ortega victory, Costa Rican President Óscar Arias Sánchez is not. "Democracy has consolidated a lot in the region. Nicaragua is no exception," Arias told reporters in Chile where he was visiting Monday.

Arias said that he and Ortega will return to work together the way they did 20 years ago. Then the region was wracked by civil wars. Arias received the Nobel Prize for Peace as architect of a peace plan.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 221

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Emergency flight crew
finds whole family ill

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An emergency helicopter flight to help a child injured by a machete turned into an airlift for the family.

Rescue workers said they found serious health problems with the child's mother and three siblings.

The flight was to Guayabal de Telire, according to the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. The goal was to bring the injured child to a medical center in Bribrí.

The mother told rescue workers that the 6-year-old child had suffered a machete wound at the hands of an aunt. But rescue workers with the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea found that another child had pneumonia and that another had a serious skin condition.

A 7-month-old and the mother also were airlifted for medical problems, said the ministry.


Our readers opinions

Measuring vehicle noise
just is not that easy

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Refering to Scott Morriss on vehicle noise.
It is not as easy as that. Let me clarify:
First, there are specific regulations in the Ley de Transito, so no need to talk diffuse “standards of any developed country.”  For cars, it is a maximum of 96 dB(A), for motorcycles it is 98 db(A).

However, CR administration has omitted to specify technical details of measuring noise emission. So there is a huge grey area of what is allowed and what not.
Just pointing a dB meter from a restaurant towards a car is definitely not working and gives only a rough and often up to 50 percent wrong guess (for what human ears are sufficient as well). Being well into motorsport, I do know about these gadgets. Most of them are totally useless.

A proper one has to be calibrated on a regular basis (which you can’t do with the cheap ones). Then you have to distinguish between dB(C) and db(A). The measurement has to take place in a nearly quiet surrounding, on tarmac without any obstacles who could reflect sound in a field of several meters.

Typical measurement is done 45-degree horizontally from the exhaust in a distance of 0.5 meter and 50 cms above ground. Only this is an accurate static noise reading (see ISO 5130-1982) and will mostly highly differ from what you would expect.

Technical specifications for drive-by noise readings are even far more complicated. I used to run a (road legal) sports car which everybody considered “fecking loud,” but in fact it was just 102 dB (98 dB with an additional sound clamp for use on more regulated tracks). And yes, I ran into problems with improper set-ups of db meters at tracks, and was recorded with up to 128 dB!
What I do want to say: if Transito says, they do not know how to measure, they will not be refering to “how to use the meter”, but to “how to interpret the results.” They might not be the brightest, but they are definitely no idiots. And there they do have a valid point since CR has no technical specification for that.

So even if they or RTV do checks, they do not have any specific-enough law as a basis for intervention. An interesting read might be this.
Having said that, yes, there is a lot of noise pollution from these cars — I wouldn’t deny that. And yes, some of them might definitely be over any limit. But having inspected those cars a bit, the noise is the least thing I would be concerned about.

I do not mind sports exhausts (watch out for December, as I just bought one for my car *g*), but I am amazed of CR drivers “showing off” at just any opportunity, playing with the throttle etc. You can drive even the loudest exhaust of all quite smoothly.

Maybe driver education would be the word. But hey, it’s CostaRica. Take it. There is no choice. And, lets face it, the Quepos-Manuel Antonio road is considered the local drag strip for some reason.  If there ever will be a hill climb event — I’m first in.
Stefan Boehm

Cynical Villalobos writer
Just doesn’t have faith

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Poor John Meyer! His letter yesterday is a disappointment.
Mr. Meyers don’t you understand that The Brothers are going to pay all of the money back? With interest no less! Why just look at who says so and the great, great judgment they have shown and their credentials.
• The UCCR, a huge supporter of Villalobos, which raised over $200,000  (U.S.) and gave it to Villalobos the Lawyer to expose the massive conspiracy against Enrique Villalobos. A huge success and worth every penny given the results he achieved.
• The Villalobos Report. Although he’s far too modest to take credit, the author must be a man of impeccable credentials! And in constant contact with Enrique! Your money is safe. Why he says so.  Who are you going to believe? The facts or the anonymous Villalobos Report?
So, Mr. Meyer how can you be so cynical? Why, its only a matter of time that Enrique returns from Cuba, pays all the money back AND starts a new investment opportunity! Its just a matter of time.

Wow, I wish I hadn’t been so cynical about the investment of a lifetime and invested my entire net worth in this great deal.

After all, what’s a little wait while (Ozzie, the other   brother) suffers for our sins while living in a mere mansion  in Costa Rica with only a few horses, servants, bodyguards, and fancy cars?
C.  K. Hobbs
New York, N.Y.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 221

Corruption and poverty linked in new Transparency survey
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
and special reports

Transparency International, an anti-corruption study group based in Berlin, Germany, says in its annual survey that corruption is perceived as a serious problem in three quarters of the 163 countries studied.

The organization says corruption is widespread throughout the world. It is at its worst in Africa and least prevalent in northern Europe. This year's rankings finds Haiti as the most corrupt country, followed by Iraq, Guinea and Burma. Last year Bangladesh and Chad tied for the dubious honor. Oil-rich but conflict-ridden Iraq dropped 23 places in the latest compilation.

Costa Rica was ranked 55th overall and 7th among the nations of the Americas. Canada was 14th worldwide and the United States was 20th.

Pamamá to the south was 84th and Nicaragua to the north was tied at 111th place with Guatemala and Paraguay.

Speaking generally of all countries, David Nussbaum, Transparency International's chief executive, says there is a clear link between high levels of corruption and poverty. The report blames intermediaries from rich countries who often help local elites launder money and profit from assets looted from the state. "Corruption is an extremely serious problem not just for the country but above all for the people who live there and whose daily lives are damaged and curtailed by the prevalence of corruption," he said.

Transparency International has been conducting annual corruption surveys for 11 years. Its report is compiled from numerous surveys of business people and country analysts who are asked for their perception of a country's corruption.
Countries are scored on a scale of one to 10. The higher the number the less corrupt the country. Finland, Iceland, New Zealand and Denmark scored 9.5 or higher. A score below five indicates that corruption is a serious problem. Only two African countries, Mauritius and Botswana, had scores above five. Costa Rica has 4.1.

The United States slipped three notches and scored 7.3, the same as Chile and Belgium and two places behind France. Last year the United States ranked number 17 with a score of 7.6. Russia is ranked in the rampant corruption category with a score of 2.5, while China was in the middle, ranking 70th. Estonia has the best rank of any former Soviet republic with a score of 6.7 and a rank of 24.

The correlation between corruption and poverty is again in evidence in the results for the Americas, the organization said. In countries such as Haiti, Ecuador and Honduras, with highest levels of perceived corruption, corruption continues to be one of the biggest obstacles to effectively fight poverty, the study added.

The results again call attention to the need for greater efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and to install functioning systems of control and mutual accountability that ensure public resources are used effectively, said Transparency.

The index shows substantially higher scores for countries with relatively strong democratic institutions, such as Canada and the United States, but also notably for Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay, said the organization, adding that as recent scandals show, they too must continue to strengthen their institutions. There is, for example, a strong sense in the United States that corruption is on the rise in Congress, with special interests able to buy access and Congress doing little to police itself, the organization said.

Kids with early iron deficiency bear consequences for years, study here says
By the University of Michigan news service

Children who suffered from severe, chronic iron deficiency as infants are disadvantaged with respect to learning and behavior as they enter adolescence, even though their current iron and growth status is excellent, according to a University of Michigan study involving children in Costa Rica.

Roughly 25 percent of all babies in the world have iron deficiency anemia and many more have iron deficiency without anemia.

Researchers, led by Dr. Betsy Lozoff, director of the University of Michigan Center for Human Growth and Development and professor of pediatrics, have been conducting a study over time of 191 infants born in 1981 to 83 in a lower-middle class community in Costa Rica. The infants, who were screened and treated for iron deficiency, had been previously re-evaluated at 5 years of age.

Recently, 167 of them were re-evaluated at ages 10 to 13.  The most recent evaluation included measures of cognitive and motor functions, scholastic achievement, and behavioral problems. The results were reported last month at the American Pediatric Society Meeting in Washington, D.C.

"At the five-year follow-up, we found that children who
had had severe, chronic iron deficiency as infants tested lower than the children who had had better iron status on a variety of measures — visual-motor integration, quantitative or numerical concepts, visual matching, and performance IQ.

"Unfortunately, the trends continued at ages 10-13 and had a negative effect on their scholastic achievement scores," Professor Lozoff said. "Although all of them were in the 'normal range,' we found that the children who had severe, chronic iron deficiency now scored lower on standardized achievement tests — about 7 points lower on tests of reading, writing and arithmetic, with particularly marked differences in written expression.

"Sub-tests of IQ measures also determined that they had acquired less general knowledge of the world and were less able to do abstract reasoning. Their motor scores also continued to be lower," Professor Lozoff said.

The researchers will follow the children over the next five years, examining the impact of severe chronic iron deficiency in infancy on classroom grades, retention, need for special education or tutoring, and school dropout rates.

Among Professor Lozoff's colleagues on the recent follow up study is Elias Jimenez, director of research, Hospital Nacional de Niños in San José.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 221

Three U.S. firms honored for actions in Latin America
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Three U.S. companies have received the U.S. Department of State’s 2006 Award for Corporate Excellence for advancing ethical practices and democratic values through their operations in Latin America.

"Through their efforts, the companies we honor today are nurturing democratic institutions and strengthening the foundations of freedom, the ability to earn a living, to support a family, to educate a new generation and to build a robust economy," Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of State, said in presenting the awards Monday.

California-based Sambazon, a fruit-drink company in operation since 2000, is the small- or medium-sized enterprise winner of the award. The company was recognized for its sustainable development work in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

Sambazon was the first company to export açaí products from Brazil. Açaí is a berry rich in antioxidants that grows wild in the Amazon River area. In addition to providing jobs to local people who harvest the berries, Sambazon — which stands for sustainable management of the Amazon — is supporting environmental sustainability of the river basin, the company's founder and chief executive officer, Ryan Black, said in accepting the award.
Goldman Sachs received an award in the multinational category for giving more than 680,000 acres (270,000 hectares) of Patagonian wilderness on the island of Tierra del Fuego, in southern Chile, to the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society for a nature preserve. The society is a nongovernmental organization that works to save wildlife and wilderness areas through research, conservation and education.

Goldman Sachs, a leading global financial firm, acquired the land in 2002 from a land-development company. The donation represents one of the most significant gifts of private land in the world because of its size and the ecosystems its contains, Goldman Sachs said.

Tierra del Fuego is home to the world's southernmost stands of old-growth forests as well as grasslands, rivers and wetlands. The alliance of the society with Goldman Sachs will ensure the long-term conservation of the region, according to a statement.

Michigan-based automotive company General Motors, which has operations in Colombia, was presented an award in the multinational category for providing skills training and jobs to former paramilitary members so they can reintegrate into society. General Motors also provides economic support and social services for former militants' families.

Music institute plans an open house for the public to show off its talents
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Nacional de Musica will be hosting an open house featuring its youth orchestral symphonies, a parade and also a dance to finish the day Nov. 18. 

The event offers the public the opportunity to take in various types of music and groups.  The event is free, open to the public and will have food and refreshments available throughout the day, said the Mininsterio de Cultra, Juventud y Deportes
Founded in 1972, the youth symphony ochestra program of the Institute of music boasts some of the up and coming musical talents of Costa Rica.  Ages of the youth involved range from 14 up to 25.

At noon, the day will also be featuring a colorful parade of costumes and masks known in Costa Rica as mascaradas.  To complete the event there will be a dance for all those who attend and music by the Big Band de Costa Rica.

The event is at the institute's facilities in Moravia.

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