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Jo Stuart
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These articles first were published Friday, Nov. 9, 2001
Earthquake in Caribbean rattles much of the country
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A sea quake off the Caribbean coast near Sixaola in extreme southeast Costa Rica rattled homes all over the country Thursday night at 6:48 p.m.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center measured the intensity at 5.9 on the Richter scale.The duration in San José was about 15 seconds. 

There were no immediate reports of serious damage, even in eastern Costa Rica at points close to the Quake, but some of the areas are remote. Nor were there reports of heavy waves spawned by the quake, although such results are always a possibility.

The Geological Survey placed the location at 9.63 degrees north and 82.24 degrees west, some 20 miles north of Bocas del Toro, Panama. 

The depth was computed at 33 kilometers (about 20 miles).

Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey
Star shows location of quake north of Panama and east of Costa Rica at 9.63 degrees north and 82.24 west.


to save
the town

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The El Velero Hotel in Playa Hermosa had an unexpected visitor check in Saturday. The unexpected guest was a female striped dolphin beaten up by 75 kilometer winds. 

The weather had just calmed after almost a week of heavy rain and huge waves when a resident spotted the nearly lifeless dolphin washed ashore. Attempts were made to help her back to sea, but, exhausted and injured, she tumbled back on shore repeatedly. 

Nels Kjorvestad and Mike Tesluk of the El Velero Hotel didn't hesitate to offer assistance and immediately helped transport the dolphin to the hotel pool while other employees quickly started calling for medical help and advice. As word spread, residents volunteered to take shifts in the pool, cradling the dolphin so her blowhole was not submerged for too long. 

Biologists and veterinarians were soon on the scene taking blood tests and tube feeding the animal with fish donated by a local charter company. The El Velero pool had become an emergency ward and gathering place for concerned citizens offering their assistance and support. Lawn chairs by the pool were full of sleeping volunteers awaiting their turn in the pool.

"We see these beautiful creatures all the time as they race with us as we sail the Gulf of Papagayo, but to see one so lifeless and helpless brings out the heart in even the saltiest sailor, said a charter captain. "In the commotion of the events of the changing world over the last few months, it is refreshing to see a community come together to try to save this amazing creature."

Javier Rodríguez Fonseca, a marine biologist, had been overseeing the project and had diagnosed El Velero's  2 1/2-year-old guest ( now known as " Vela" ) as having a bacteria infection called "stenella coeruleoalba" which many dolphins carry but survive.

If released while still infected, Vela could have infected other dolphins, said Rodríguez.  He is with the Centro De Proyeccion Del Ambiente Marino.  And that is why Vela was kept in the pool. 

But all was in vain. Vela died Tuesday night without ever having been able to go back to sea.

A well-deserved retreat into the pages of books
I’ve been in the United States, which means I have been visiting my daughter, which means I have been surrounded by books. We share a love of books; the main difference being that she loves to buy new books and I love to buy old books. 

When I come to visit, we always make a visit to Vroman’s, her favorite bookstore, and she always takes me to at least one used book store where I can look for an old gem. 

On the table next to my bed there is a stack of books she either thinks I would like or that I should read. This time I found the latest issue of "The American Scholar." (My favorite essayist is Joseph Epstein who used to be the editor of that magazine.) 

The books include, "Strong Women Stay Slim," (she’s been trying for years to get me to do aerobics), "20 Minute Yoga Workouts" (I’ve been trying for years to get her interested in yoga); "God has 99 Names", a report on the contentious Middle East by Judith Miller, "Inside the CIA." So I can find out how much or how little they really have been screwing up. And for my further reading pleasure, there’s "Walkin’ the Dog," a Mosley mystery, and a medical thriller, "The Patient" by Michael Palmer, as well as a charming novelette about a shop girl by Steve Martin.

The fact that there is also a nice large TV in my room precludes the possibility of my getting through this stack in a two-week visit. But I do enjoy the experience of waking up to them, of simply holding them and running my hands over their smooth glassy covers and opening them to read a page or two to get a sense of the writing. I will probably finish two.

Downstairs I like to browse in their library — the only room so far that has not been finished in this new (albeit old) house of theirs — so there are hundreds of books stacked here and there that don’t fit into the current shelves. 

Tom, my son-in-law, is a history buff, and on one side of the room I can read titles from "The Twelve Caesars" to Tom Brokaw’s "The Greatest 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

Generation," and probably every book ever written by and about Winston Churchill (They named their first dog, a female, Winston). I think Tom is really a history professor masquerading as a very successful lawyer.

On the shelves in the living room are wonderful tomes like an encyclopedia of the brain that tells me everything I ever asked about the limbic system or "The Oxford Companion to the Mind," and a book of personal essays (in that one I read Epstein’s "I like a Gershwin Tune," a delightful essay on the music he grew up with, music written when lyrics were a bit more sophisticated).

In my daughter’s office are all the books that would interest a writer, reference books and dictionaries, writers’ markets, plus books about and by women and a number of choice novels. Even the family room has books on the coffee table. One tells you how to do things many of us have forgotten how to, like set a proper table or dance the waltz. And, of course, there’s a large bookcase in the kitchen just for cookbooks, many now on vegetarian cooking. 

So I have many havens I can retreat to and lose myself when the news gets too depressing or confusing, and I get tired of trying to figure things out (like when is a weapon evil, or better yet, when is it not? And should innocent people on either side be willing to die for a greater good?) Then I’ll happily retreat to the pages of something like, "Trans-Sister Radio," a novel by Chris Bohjalian about a transexual who becomes a lesbian, which is also on my bed table. My mind can deal with that.

Jo Stuart’s earlier columns: CLICK HERE

Bush says civilization is at stake in terrorism war
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Bush has again predicted victory in the battle against terrorism, which he calls a fight "to save civilization" itself. 

"We did not seek it, but we will fight it and we will prevail." he said, adding that terrorists come from more than 60 countries and that the war will have to be fought on many fronts including in the United States.

Afghanistan is only the beginning of U.S. efforts in the rest of the world, Bush said.

Bush made the comments during a speech before thousands of firefighters, police, postal workers and health officials in Atlanta Thursday, about two months after the September terrorist attacks in the United States.

The crowd, many wearing uniforms, applauded Bush at least 20 times and frequently leaped to their feet. Some waved U.S. flags.

Bush said these have been two of the most difficult and inspiring months in U.S. history, because of the way Americans have responded with courage and compassion, despite anthrax attacks that have killed four more victims of terrorism. He said firefighters, police, postal workers and health officials were the country's new heroes. 

"We have seen that kind of hate before," he said referring to the terrorists, "The only possible response is to confront it and defeat it."

Bush also called on the U.S. government, Congress, the U.S. military and ordinary citizens to face new "responsibilities" in this new era to ensure American values of courage and optimism will flourish.He said U.S. forces are now bombing Taliban front lines and that the war against terrorism will eventually go beyond Afghanistan.

Bush also called on Congress to quickly enact legislation to make flying more secure in the United States and to help stimulate the shocked U.S. 

economy. He said terrorist alerts are issued when there are credible threats and that Americans must be vigilant, but not intimidated. 

Several such warnings issued in the last two months have been criticized by many lawmakers and other Americans for not being specific enough. 

Commentators saw the speech by Bush as an update to the American people. He unveiled no new initiatives. But he stressed citizen volunteerism and said that "life is going to go forward, and that is the ultimate repudiation of terrorism."

Somali firm denies
link with terrorists

 The Somali-owned company al-Barakaat has denied U.S. claims that it is part of a global network financing terrorism. 

President Bush froze the assets of 62 individuals and organizations on Wednesday, including al-Barakaat, the largest of Somalia's remittance banks and a telecommunications company. Bush said al-Barakaat is owned by a friend of Osama bin Laden, head of the al-Qaida terrorist network, and that it provides the organization with a key source of funds and secure telephone communications. 

A company official in Mogadishu says al-Barakaat has no links to terrorists, that it is cooperating with the FBI and that its services will not be available until it has proven its innocence. The company's founder, Ahmad Ali Jimale told the U.N. news agency IRIN the accusations were lies and that if U.S. authorities do a thorough investigation, they will find no evidence of wrong doing. 

Several Western diplomats and Somali experts say al-Barakaat is Somalia's largest source of revenue, and that the U.S. decision to freeze the company's assets would deal a major blow to a country already facing a humanitarian crisis. 

Costa Rica has role to play in terrorism fight, new ambassador says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United States is counting on Costa Rica to search for and freeze any financial assets linked with terrorism, the new U.S. ambassador, John Danilovich, told businessmen Thursday.

The U.S. also wants the country to share information and intelligence and to maintain a strong stance in the global coalition against terrorism, he said.

"Costa Rica has an important regional role, and a voice that is so often heard far beyond Central America, a voice which has joined many others to provide the U.S. with the multilateral support necessary to stand strong in what will be a long and difficult conflict," Danilovich said.

The new ambassador brought up the issue of terrorism toward the end of his talk that focused on economic issues.  He thanked President Miguel Angel Rodríguez for his leadership in submitting six United Nation’s anti-terrorism treaties to this country’s legislative branch.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Ambassador John Danilovich holds his own against reporters after he gave a talk to businessmen.
Aides said later that the ambassador’s comments should not be considered an indication of foot-dragging on the part of Costa Rica in matters related to terrorism. No one has found any evidence that bank accounts in Costa Rica are linked to terrorist, they said, however, the country’s officials are continually updated with the names and identification information on persons and groups put on the U.S. terrorism list.

Danilovich seemed to understand Spanish well, but he replied in English to questions from Costa Rican newspeople. He delivered his talk and answered questions later in English also. The meeting was of the Costa Rican-North American Chamber of Commerce, so English was the working language. The talk was billed as the traditional first speech by a new ambassador. 

In his talk, he said that one of his highest priorities was to remove obstacles that stand in the way of a two-way relationship between Costa Rica and the United States. He said he wanted to be forthright in telling Costa Ricans about impediments to good relations. 

Among these impediments he cited non-tariff obstacles to trade, lack of clarity and sanctity in some contracts and concessions, limited enforcement of laws involving intellectual property rights and some still-unresolved compensation cases related to government expropriation of property held by U.S. citizens. He said it was time to "clear out these old, outstanding items and re-prioritize our goals."

In his talk and in a response to a question later he mentioned the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas that would include the entire hemisphere in a trade pact. He said he hoped that President George Bush would soon get the legislation from Congress to expedite this process.

The pact is supposed to go into force in 2005. When it does, Danilovich predicted that there would be stresses and dislocations in the region. But he said that the United States had developed a number of new programs to ease the transition. Later he told a questioner that The Free Trade Area of the Americas is not a threat to the area.

At the same meeting, chamber officials made two awards to firms that had made substantial contributions to the community in the prior year. Florida Ice & Farm Co., S.A., the parent company for the national beer manufacturer, was cited for actions in the social arena, and Componentes Intel de Costa Rica, the computer chip manufacturer, was cited for contributions to education.

He should have left
his work at the office

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here’s another caution against taking your work home with you, particularly if you are a thief.

Late Wednesday police raided a home in San Juan de Dios de Desamparados and recovered a large quantity of household appliances that were taken in a hijacking Tuesday.

They arrrested José Angel Calderon Rivera Berdolango, who lived there. Police said he had been out of jail for about a month.

The hijacking took place Tuesday afternoon near Guápiles when masked men with pistols held up two truck drivers who were taking two trucks to Limón for Importadora Monge, a retail chain. 

One truck later was found on the Braulio Carrillo Highway. The second vehcle with the two drivers safe inside the cargo area was found in Alajuelita. The merchendise, valued at 15 million colons ($44,500), was missing. 

The drivers told investigators that the robbers unloaded the appliances at a warehouse, but they could not give a clear description where it was.

Judicial Investigating Organization agents said the appliances recovered late Wednesday were worth about 10 million colons (about $30,000).

Venzuelan oil workers
plan to strike today

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan oil union leaders have called for a strike to protest the  government's plan to separate the gas industry from the state-owned oil  company. 

Union leaders say workers will demonstrate Friday against the separation, which employees fear could result in poorer working conditions and reduced benefits. 

Protest organizers say the work stoppage will occur despite government  assurances that gas workers will retain their benefits with the company,  Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). 

Labor leaders say the demonstrators will also rally against a new  Venezuelan law regulating the oil industry. Some workers say the  legislation will give the government greater power in the multi-billion  dollar business. 

Venezuela is the world's third largest oil exporter and a leading supplier to the United States. 

Professors coming here
to study health system

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica’s health-care system will be on display for visiting academics this summer as the Monteverde Institute hosts another faculty development seminar.

The program sponsor said that the "remarkable improvement in health and nutrition statistics in Costa Rica — from that of a developing country to that of an industrialized nation in a single decade (the 1970s) — is without precedent."

This seminar is designed for faculty and administrators in the field of public health and social medicine and those involved in health and policy planning, according to the Council on International Educational Exchange, which sponsors this and at least 20 other enrichment programs each summer.

The seminars are one to two weeks in length and overseas. Participation is limited to faculty and administrators at the university level.

Dr. Nevin Scrimshaw, an adjunct faculty member of the Monteverde Institute, is the faculty leader for the Costa Rican seminar. Scrimshaw is Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president of the International Nutrition Foundation, a release said.

Although the group is spending most of its time in Monte Verde, visits to the central Valley and Limón also are on the agenda.

More bodies of women
found near Ciudad Juárez

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The remains of five young women were found Wednesday in the desert outside the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez following the discovery of three bodies one day earlier.

More than 50 bodies of young women turned up in the same area during the 1990s, and a women's rights activist says she thinks a serial killer is still on the loose.

All the bodies were of young women who had been strangled and many also mutilated. Two years ago, five bus drivers were charged with 20 of the murders and authorities thought the wave of murders had ended.

The young victims all worked the night shift in the many assembly plants called maquiladoras, located along the border with the United States.  Ciudad Juarez is directly across the border from the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas.

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