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(506) 2223-1327           Published Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 24       Email us
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Hunter is held in Kimberley Blackwell killing
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted today at 4:16 p.m
Investigators have made an arrest in the murder case of Kimberley Blackwell, 53, who was beaten
Kimberley Blackwell
Kimberley Blackwell
savagely and shot at her isolated home on the Osa peninsula last February.

Judicial Investigating Organization agents conducted raids Thursday near San Miguel de Cañaza close to the rural home where the woman died.

The judicial police said  today that one suspect was
detained, a 36-year-old man. He was identified as Jorge Enrique Flores Rojas.

Agents from the Ciudad Neily office said they conducted four raids and detained the suspect at one of those locations. Others were detained and questioned.

Ms. Blackwell, a Canadian, was known as the operator of Samaritan Xocolata, which produced
 high-end chocolate items from Costa Rican cocao.

The judicial police confirmed a theory in the
 woman's death today. They said that she had continual problems with hunters who sought  animals illegally and crossed the woman's land to do so. She was aggressive in trying to run off the hunters.

On the day of her murder, she had a confrontation with a group of at least three hunters, and the man detained Thursday was one of them, the judicial police said.

When investigators opened the case Feb. 2, it appeared that Ms. Blackwell died from the extensive beating demonstrated by marks and wounds on her body.

A later examination by medical experts determined that she also had been shot, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Ms. Blackwell was well known in the expat community in the Osa peninsula and the regional center of Puerto Jiménez. Her murder was a blow to the peace of mind of foreigners living there.

Fears were fanned in July with the murder of Lisa Artz, who was the resident manager of Casa Tres Palmas in upper Matapalo, just south of Puerto Jiménez on the east shore of the Osa peninsula. Suspects have been detained in the Artz murder.

Rain gives way to winds and a chill from the north
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The change from the rainy season to the high season comes at a price.

A chill swept into the Central Valley Thursday, and the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional is predicting up to 70 kph (43.5 mph) winds in Guanacaste today.

Strong winds are typical of the change of season, and frequently they are strong enough to deroof homes and down trees.

The increase in atmospheric pressure in Central America and the Caribbean has generated windy conditions, said the weather institute.

In a special midday bulletin, the weather service said that the cold wave that hit Thursday about noon is the first of the season.  The strong winds carry cold air from the north, and that decreases the temperatures, the weather bulletin said.

Now although some Costa Ricans in the Central Valley are casting around for woolen hats and ski jackets, the chill at its worst is predicted to be in the high 50s today. Of course, that is unusual, and the wind enhances the chill.

The nation's residential ice box is Cartago where the weather institute said that the high today would be about 19 C with a low of 15. That is 66 and 59 F.

In San José the temperature is expected to top out at 20 C (68 F) and drop to 16 C (61 F) in the evening.

There still will be swimwear weather at the beaches. The institute said that Limón would see a high of 27 C. (80.6 F) with a low of 20 C. (68 F). Golfito is expected to see a high of 31 C. (88
How Costa Ricans see the weather

F) with a low of 22 C (71.6 F).  Inland temperatures in Guanacaste are expected to be similar to that predicted for Liberia: 30 C (86 F) and a low of 21 C (70 F).

Sometimes during the colder dry season traces of snow fall in the mountains. Cerro de la Muerte is so named because oxcart drivers would die of hypothermia when sleeping with their cart and animals overnight.

Although the chill draws snickers from tourists from further north, the predicted low temperatures are cold enough to cause hypothermia with prolonged exposure. Many Costa Rican homes do not have adequate windows or doors to keep out the cold. Expats who drink alcohol are more vulnerable to hypothermia, as are the aged or infirm.

The weather institute warned of lesser winds through the country and emphasized that some gusts can affect aviation.

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Our readers' opinions
Boys named Roy linked
humorously to warming

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I agree with the letter of Kevin Morris and his response to the letter of Gregg Calkins.  With tongue in cheek, here is an example (mind you, a very bad example concocted for the purpose of emphasis) of what I think Mr. Morris is driving at.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, there has been a steady decline in the number of boys named Roy (source:  Over the same period of time, we are told that global temperatures have been steadily rising.  It is possible to find a statistical correlation between these two variables — and the correlation could be relatively strong.

Proponents with the zeal of Al Gore would say that the proper conclusion is beyond debate:  The steady rise in temperatures is the result of human activity and is being caused, at least in part, by parents who fail to name their boys Roy.

Opponents with equal zeal would maintain that the opposite is true.  They would say that the declining number of boys named Roy is the result of rising global temperatures.

So, who’s right?  As Kevin Morris would put it: Just because there is a statistically significant relationship between variables ... “it’s anyone’s guess which caused which or whether a third unknown variable is causing both.”  As is illustrated by the present bad example, I would add the possibility that neither caused either and that there is no variable that caused both.

Lance Turlock

There are too many variables
to determine a firm cause

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to the response Ken Morris wrote about Gregg Caulkins’ observations, I must say that while it is no laughing matter, this topic has become the subject of hysterical conjecture. Mr. Morris’ letter would be intriguing to one with a published doctoral thesis on “Conceptualizing Theoretical Theorization.” I will clarify the layman’s position in this response.

His opening sally, “Actually, science never proves anything,” is a case in point. His focus on the null hypothesis, and then his conjectures that the variable, hypothesized conjecture, null or not, according to the statistical conventions that have found the meridian (recently hypothesized about in your epaper) established that the discovered relationship has a dual purpose outside statistical relationships caused by an unknown variable. I agree that science does spend its time, by and large, trying to disprove the null approach in order to determine if the hypothesized casual variable is really casual. (Not unlike trying to determine if the girl you casually picked up at the bar will be your future wife.)

When one adds thousands of uncontrolled (but hardly casual) variables to this mélange, one sees that the scientific messier world (named for a moon watcher) cited by Mr. Morris has incalculable postulations with which to be reckoned. It is conceivable that there will be scientists hypothesizing about this subject throughout the period when the world will go through possibly two or three earth warming and cooling cycles before the scientific community realizes that what we know or do not know will not effect the possibilities of such weather fluctuations one iota. Scientists should take a leaf from the journal of weather forecasters: they always forecast a weather pattern’s formation after it has formed.

Alfred Stites  
San Ramón 

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 HERE!
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News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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This year's edition of book fair opens tonight at La Aduana
By Shahrazad Encinias
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Outside the Antigua Aduana traffic runs along Calle 23 and people wait for their buses while inside dozens of folks busily prepare for the XII Feria Internacional del Libro inside the recycled building.

Three rows of booths lined up parallel to the street take over the the sprawling bricked rectangular building. Inside stands are being built, shelves are getting filled with books and pallets stacked with boxes of literature overrun the given space. This is the scene on the eve of the book fair inauguration at the Antigua Aduana, San José, scheduled for 6 p.m. today. The extensively remodeled old customs house is now called the Centro para las Artes y la Tecnología La Aduana.

Vendors showed up at 10 a.m. Thursday to find their booth and begin the process to prepare for the show. Most booths did not have names of the vendors because there was a mix-up. Instead there were numbers.

France and authors Albert Bensoussan and Mathias Malzieu are the special guests of honor this year at the fair. Writers from Costa Rica and around the world will showcase and sell their publications. Every year editorials from public and private universities from across the world participate.  There will be different activities besides the exhibition of literature, such as lectures and workshops.

Last year was a success said a vendor, but this year he said he expected a lot more people.

The festival runs from Nov. 11 to Sunday, Nov. 20. The entire program can be found HERE.
book fair
A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela
Vendors will be preparing until 6 p.m. today.

San Ramón area residents will have their own fundraising book sale Saturday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San Ramón area residents will have their own local book sale Saturday. The event is a fundraiser for the local Cruz Roja and the Dogland Animal Rescue Center.

The organizer is the Community Action Alliance, and the location is at the Museo Regional de San Ramón.  The time is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Community Action Alliance said the sale will include a collection of approximately 3,000 used books, CDs,
DVDs,  magazines and other educational materials, both English and Spanish.  There will also be a selection of jewelry and other handicrafts, according to the announcement. 

The Community Action Alliance said it is co-producing the book sale with Gringo Central and will underwrite all expenses so that 100 percent of the proceeds will be directed to the Cruz Roja and Dogland.

More information on the Community Action Alliance and the Book Sale can be found at

The Ticos continue to live their green lifestyle frugally
Charlie Rose is the best interviewer on TV, to my mind.   The other night his guest was writer and deadline poet Calvin Trillin.  To show that he came from a poetic family, Trillin recited a poem his father had written and posted in his restaurant:

   “Eat your dinner,” Mom said gently to her little son Roddy.

   “If not, I’ll break every bone in your body.”

I cracked up, laughing and laughing.  I thought only Italian mothers said things like that (although I remember mine threatening to break only “both your legs”).  When she was at the end of her rope with me she’d say, “I wish I was dead.” That made me behave. A disclaimer must be posted here: My older sister says she does not remember our mother making either of these comments. I didn’t ask our little sister because she was spoiled rotten, as far as we were concerned.

After I stopped laughing I was saddened. If said today, neither of these comments will be funny memories in the future.  It is all too possible that children will suffer broken bones and overwrought mothers will commit suicide.

The world has changed.

It has changed in other ways, too.  Friends send me e-mails about “the green thing,” pleading with people to treat our planet more kindly by walking, not driving, not wasting, reusing, recycling, eating and buying locally, etc.   These were things, as some e-mails point out ironically, that we did automatically when they were growing up because that’s all there was.

Today’s poor are different, too.  I heard Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation say on a recent Washington Journal that the current poor are not really as bad off as has been depicted because they have cars, TVs, microwaves, computers and cell phones, etc.  No one suggested to him that the new poor were not always poor. Some, who had considered themselves middle class, have been plunged into poverty as the result of medical bills. Others face bankruptcy due to the housing bubble and their own credit overuse as consumers. That is what makes it so uncomfortable and difficult to deal with. The nouveau poor don’t know how to be poor. It takes practice
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

to be frugal and resist impulse buying or even to stop thinking that stuff can make you happy or that you need a house with three bathrooms.

Costa Ricans have had more experience in living frugally and will be able to adjust to a new austerity more easily.  It has long been the custom for young people to live with their parents, or for a family that has owned its property for years to simply build another small house for the next generation.  As in many countries, Ticos are used to living in smaller spaces, and eating simply (often including rice and beans every day) and buying locally.  As a developing country it has come late to the idea of buying foreign goodies. Until perhaps a dozen years ago, most people commuted by bus, not car.  And in a recent survey 90 percent of the Ticos polled said they would not favor supporting a military, which, in many ways, is more costly and wasteful than any other form of consumption.

Rethinking about what is important and what constitutes happiness in life is happening around the world.  And I have some happy news in my rather glum outlook. My friend, Judith, who is now back in the States, sent me this Web site that has suggestions on how to gift locally this coming Christmas.  And I applaud the idea of giving an experience instead of a thing.  I am sure expats in Costa Rica can adapt many of the ideas to apply here.

Click here: Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition - Political Forum.

Ask your favorite restaurant or helper, computer tech, masseuse if they will make up a gift card.  I am giving out gift cards to my favorite pastelería, Rincón Pastelero.  They have delicious prusianos. Their phone 2221-8164. 

Do as I say or I’ll break….no, I won’t.

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Pro-Israel protesters line up in front of the foreign ministry, known locally as Casa Amarilla, to urge rejection of a request by Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations.

A.M. Costa Rica/Andrew Rulseh Kasper

Supporters of Israel demonstrate to oppose Palestine's U.N. bid
By Andrew Rulseh Kasper
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dozens of protestors gathered Thursday outside of the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, also known as the Casa Amarilla, in San José to voice their dissatisfaction with the potential membership of Palestine in the United Nations.

They chanted slogans such as “Israel has the right to exist” and “We don't support terrorism.” The gathering was organized by a movement called Paz en Tierra Santa, and similar events took place in various Latin American countries.

The demonstrations came on the eve of when a final draft of a U.N. Security Council committee report studying possible Palestinian membership is planned to be presented to the full council, and a little more than a week after Costa Rica's chancellor during a general meeting of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization lent support for Palestine as a member.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, seeks to have the borders of the pre-Israeli occupation in 1967, recognized as Palestinian territory by the United Nations, thus classifying Israel's presence there as an official occupation and, in theory, obligating action to be taken by the United Nations.

To obtain membership, nine of the 15 members on the Security Council and all of the permanent members with veto power must support the cause. U.S. officials have already said they would oppose the plan, and diplomats from at least three other counties are expected to abstain from voting.

With Israel and Palestine not engaging in direct talks, protestors classified such U.N. action, as unlikely as it may be, unilateral. They said they seek a dual-state situation to be reached by means of negotiation between the neighboring enemies.

“We want a peace agreement between the two countries,” one protestor said. “They need to have a dialogue. Otherwise it's a unilateral decision.”

Ancient facination with cats
featured in museum exhibit

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For nearly 2,000 years, different species of wild cats were represented in pre-Columbian art works leading up to the arrival of the Spanish. The skill and respect of the artisans can be seen in each piece. And some of these pieces can be seen in a coming exhibit at the Museos de Banco Central: “Felinos en la Arqueología de Costa Rica.”

The exhibition opens to the public Dec. 4 in the Sala Temporal del Museo del Oro Precolombino below the Plaza de la Cultura.  The sample consists of 50 objects designed in a variety of techniques and materials such as stone, gold and ceramics. It is expected to surprise visitors with the fruit of the museum´s labor to pay homage to the big cats that still walk this land.

The cats represented in the exhibition will consist of  jaguarundis, pumas, ocelots and a Costa Rican favorite, the jaguar.
Feline exhibit
From the 'Felinos en la Arqueología de Costa Rica' poster

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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Nicaraguan elections draw
negative reviews from some

By the A.M. Nicaragua staff

Although the Nicaraguan government has announced that Daniel Ortega will serve another term as president, international and unaccredited domestic observers have publicly stated that the electoral process was marred by significant irregularities. The major opposition candidates have rejected the results.

Typical is the reaction from Mark C. Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department:

“The Nicaraguan elections were not transparent. As reported Oct. 31, we remain very concerned about irregularities throughout the Nicaraguan electoral process. We specifically noted the Nicaraguan government’s failure to accredit certain credible domestic organizations as observers, difficulties voters faced in obtaining proper identification, and pronouncements by Nicaraguan authorities that electoral candidates might be disqualified after the elections. On election day, some observers were denied access to voting centers.”

The Costa Rican foreign minstery, the Minsterio de Realaciones Exteriores y Culto issued a congratulatory message after Guatemalans elected Otto Pérez Molina as president Sunday. That was the same day as the Nicaraguan elections, but there has been no message on that race.

Ortega is not highly regarded in Costa Rican officialdom. His invasion of the Isla Calero a year ago pulled Costa Rica into an International Court of Justice case that still has not been resolved. Some Costa Ricans believe that Ortega behaved aggressively mainly to solidify his electoral support.

Said Toner:

“We agree with the European Union electoral mission that the Supreme Electoral Council did not operate in a transparent and impartial manner. We also share the concerns of the Organization of American States electoral mission regarding irregularities in the electoral process and on election day itself, and we join the OAS in calling upon Nicaraguan authorities to investigate acts of violence perpetrated on election day.

“All of these actions, and a lack of full accounting of ballots cast, reduce our confidence in the outcome of the elections. We also lament any loss of life as a result of the election and reiterate the EU’s call for all parties to resolve their disagreements through peaceful means.

“The United States remains committed to defending democratic processes and universal human rights, and we encourage the Nicaraguan government to do the same. This is fully consistent with our common commitment to representative democracy, as expressed in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. We will continue to support civil society and promote human rights in Nicaragua both now and in the years to come.”

Venezuelan cops find car
used to kidnap baseballer

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Officials in Venezuela say they have found the vehicle used by armed men to kidnap Venezuelan national and U.S. Major League Baseball player Wilson Ramos from a home in the city of Valencia Wednesday night.

Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami Thursday told reporters that police found the abandoned vehicle in a nearby town and that locating it will allow authorities to speed up the entire investigation.  Aissami also said authorities will spare no effort to rescue Ramos, a 24-year-old catcher for the Washington Nationals.

Ramos had been visiting with family at a private home in Valencia when several men went to the residence and snatched him.  Ramos was in Venezuela to play with his winter league team, the Aragua Tigers.  Investigators say there has been no word from his captors.

Major League Baseball and the Nationals issued a joint statement Thursday, saying their foremost concern is with Ramos and his family and that "our thoughts are with them at this time."  The statement said Major League Baseball's department of investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter and that there will be no further comment.

Relatives of major league players have been kidnapped in recent years in Venezuela.

The mother of former player Ugueth Urbina spent more than five months in captivity until she was rescued in 2005.

In 2009, the son and brother-in-law of Major League Baseball catcher Yorvit Torrealba were kidnapped but released a short time later.  Also that year, the mother of now-retired pitcher Victor Zambrano was rescued, three days after she was abducted.

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Avenida 3
A.M. Costa Rica/Zach McDonald
Workers rebuilding Avenida 3 in downtown San José are approaching the end of their labors. Workmen wee installing sidewalks and getting ready for the last loads of concrete Thursday. The rebuilding has caused major traffic jams.

Bank sets promotion to mark
11/11/11 with 11% cash back

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Banco Nacional has come out with an unusual promotion for today, Nov. 11, 2011. The bank is prepared to give credit card users 11 percent cash back up to 111,000 colons, about $219. The maximum amount would be returned on a transaction or transactions totaling just over 1 million colons or about $2,000.

But readers should not head for the meat counter or the liquor shelves. The bank ruled out purchases made at service stations and supermarkets, according to its announcement.

The promotion also does not seem to apply to debit cards, only credit cards.

Commission studying tax plan
to seek more time to deliberate

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A special commission considering the central government's tax plan has asked for more time to study the complex measure. The commission is coming to the end of the four-weeks members had to consider the bill. They are expected to ask for at least another week.

The measure is likely to be approved in committee and passed on to the full legislature for debate and a vote. The Chinchilla administration said it believes it has the votes to pass the tax proposals.

Central to the plan is a 14 percent value-added tax that covers many more products and services than the current 13 percent sales tax.

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