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(506) 223-1327          Published Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 226        E-mail us    
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Position includes immunity
Dall'Anesse is finalist for high criminal court
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Francisco Dall'Anesse, the controversial chief prosecutor, will be one of three persons recommended to the legislature for an opening on the Sala III of the Corte Suprema de Justicia.

Dall'Anesse now holds the post of fiscal general de la República and was instrumental in the arrest of the Rev. Minor Calvo as a suspect in the 2001 murder of radio commentator Parmenio Medina Pérez. The prosecutor also was the man who had former presidents Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echeverría and Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier thrown in jail for corruption investigations.

The former presidents are now out, and the cases against them have not made any public progress. Rodríguez even has written a book claiming he was victimized by the judicial system. He went from being secretary general of the Organization of American States to being an inmate at La Reforma prison in Alajuela in a space of a few days.

Critics claim Dall'Anesse wants the job of magistrate because he would have immunity from any civil suits instituted against him. The Sala III handles criminal appeals.

The recommendation of Dall'Anesse and two others will be by the Comisión de Nombramientos, which interviewed 11 candidates. The candidates were evaluated on a 100-point scale that considered their education, experience, legal publications and how they handled their appearance before the committee.
The three will be recommended without any ranking, said Jorge Méndez Zamora, president of the commission.

The second person is Ronald Salazar Murillo, a judge, who earned an 88, the same grade given Dall'Anesse.


In third place is Rosaura Chinchilla Calderón, also a judge. She only scaled a 66 but gets a recommendation as the top-scoring woman.  Three other men scored higher.

The legislature is not bound to accepting the committee's recommendations and there is no legal time limit for selection. Traditionally, the selection has been made in 30 days because the court is awaiting a new member. The job title is magistrate.

Rodríguez was arrested and handcuffed when he stepped off a commercial flight Oct. 15, 2004. He served about a year in pretrial detention.
Calderón was free Oct. 19, 2005 and had been held slightly more than a year.

Rodríguez is vocal in his complaint that no charge has ever been filed against him. Calderón may even be a presidential candidate in three years.

The Catholic priest Calvo, the former head of Radio María, is in trial right now along with a businessman and a handful of gangsters.
Prosecutors allege that the priest and the businessman were the intellectual authors of the murder and that the young toughs carried it out.

Crooks who steal from cars do not wait for tomorrow, pair finds
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Canadian couple found out that crooks in Jacó do not wait for mañana.

A resident said that the pair visited a supermarket in the popular Pacific beach town when someone cleaned out their rental vehicle. In addition to belongings, some $3,300 in travelers checks vanished.

The couple made a report to law enforcement, and a few hours later reported their theft to the company that had issued the travelers checks, American Express.
It turns out the theives were able to cash the checks in the Jacó area in that space of time, so the tourists were  involved in more red tape than is seen in the television commercials. They have to wait at least 30 days for an investigation, and there is no immediate refund of the stolen checks if they have been cashed, the resident said the pair was told.

Others have found out how quickly crooks work. An Arenal businessman said he had a credit card taken from a vehicle in San José. Within minutes crooks had taken money from his account, he found when he called the issuer.  The crooks quickly noticed the PIN number written on the card and headed for the nearest teller machine.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 226

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Tropical diversity comes
from being older, study says

University of Chicago press service

Why are there more species in the tropics than in the temperate regions of the globe? Many of the world's species live in the tropics (perhaps more than half), but the reason has been debated for more than 100 years.

Many researchers have hypothesized that climatic factors somehow cause species to originate more quickly in tropical regions. In a paper appearing in this month's issue of The American Naturalist, John Wiens and a group of researchers from New York's Stony Brook University have shown that, contrary to expectations, species seem to evolve at similar rates in tropical and temperate regions.

What causes the difference in species numbers between tropical and temperate regions is not something special about the tropics that leads to more rapid species development, but rather that the temperate areas were colonized more recently, leaving less time for species to originate and accumulate in these regions, they determined.

The researchers studied the causes of high tropical species richness in tree frogs in the Americas. Combining analyses of evolutionary development based on DNA sequences with geographical methods for analyzing the effects of climate on species distributions, the researchers found no relationship between how quickly species originate within a group and whether that group is tropical or temperate.

However, they did find a strong relationship between when each region was colonized and the number of species there today. Thus, the high species richness of tropical regions seems to be explained by the ancient origin of many groups in the tropics, more recent colonization of temperate regions, and by the inability of most tropical species to tolerate the variable temperatures of temperate areas.

According to Wiens, the study has important conservation implications: "If the pattern we see in tree frogs holds true for most other groups, then the tropics may have more ancient lineages and more genetic diversity per species than temperate regions. So there may be far more loss of diversity going on as we lose tropical rainforests than would be suggested by the number of species alone."

More kidnap suspects
linked to ex-fugitive

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man who escaped from the La Reforma prison Oct. 9 has been identified as the leader of a band of kidnappers. and some of the suspects are members of his family.

The Judicial Investigating Organization arrested seven persons Monday and said they were linked to the ring.

The alleged leader, Jovel Araya Ramírez, was wounded when investigators recaptured him in Guápiles Oct. 24. He was wounded with multiple bullets.

Agents said that the gang of kidnappers assisted Araya with the prison break in which a total of eight inmates fled after killing a guard. Investigators figure that vehicles awaited the inmates outside the prison.

The gang was involved in high stakes kidnappings, mostly of businessmen. Unlike other criminals, they accepted property and cars as part payment of the ransom, officials said. Police attribute at least four separate cases of kidnapping to the gang. In most cases the victims were held about a week.
Among those arrested Monday were the two persons who sheltered Araya in Guápiles and his son and daughter.

Corn silage pushed as way
to defeat El Niño's ills

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dairy farmers are being told to make preparations now for a possible dry season caused by El Niño.

The Ministerio de Production is suggesting that farmers and cattle ranchers consider corn varieties that will make good silage.

The Instituto Nacional de Innovation y Transference en Tecnología Peculiarity is in the process of evaluating certain corn hybrids and varieties for use as the raw materials for silage.

Silage is the chopped vegetable matter that is stored in silos or bunkers. Because the material, usually corn or certain types of grass, undergo fermentation, they retain their nutritive value and do not decay.

One milk producer was able to feed 10 cows for three months with corn from 1,500 square meters of land, said the Ministerio de Producción. That's about four-tenths of an acre.

Arnoldo Vargas of the institute said that one way is to compress chopped corn to push out all the air and then cover it with plastic. In some countries large plastic bags are used to hold the silage. In addition to silage, the institute suggests that cows be fed several kilos of high protein beans or grain a day.

El Niño conditions usually mean dry weather for the Costa Rican cattle country.

Musicians seek laws
to protect, push works

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A musician's union will seek a law to require radio stations to play more Costa Rican tunes on the airways. And it will seek tax incentives for those who use Costa Rican works and productions.

The union is Asociación de Gestión Colectiva de los Intérpretes y Ejecutantes Musicales de Costa Rica, and the group made known its concerns and goals Monday.

The organization also wants to study the free trade treaty with the United States to see if members will be affected by it, and the union wants to set up a system so that local performers and songwriters are compensated fairly for the use of their efforts.

The 2-year-old group said it now has about 120 artists as members.  It seeks to establish links with similar organizations in other countries, it said.

Cyclist found in Cañas lake

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 23-year-old cicylist, Wilbert Ruiz Ovares, vanished Friday in Cañas. His body turned up Monday in a small lake. Investigators think he lost control of the bike, ran off the road into the lake and died.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 226

Construction at Grecia mall hits a wet stumbling block
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Environmental officials have halted work on a mall being constructed just north of Grecia because they are concerned that the project will damage a water source.

The issue came up Monday in the Asamblea Legislativa because shops and the mall will hire up to 750 persons, according to Gladys González, a legislator.

She said that the mall is some 160 meters or about 500 feet from a spring.

Ronald Vargas, director of the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación of the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, who was visiting the Asamblea Legislativa Monday, said
that a local ministry worker had received a complaint.
Work was stopped while the complaint was investigated. He said the decision was in the hands of the Secretaria Tecnica National Ambiental. This is the environmental watchdog for the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía.

The complaint alleges that the movement of earth will hurt the underground water supply. Springs and aquifers are protected by law.

After an inspection, the Secretaria Tecnica National Ambiental decided to halt the project until more information could be gathered about the water source, said Vargas. Locals say that the underground water is protected by a cap of clay that construction may rupture, said Vargas.

The case now is in the hands of the Departamento de Aguas which is being cautious with the water supply, he said.

Country needs makeover but political system is weak, says State of Nation report
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has to make urgent and profound changes but the political system, which is not designed for rapid movement, is unusually weak now.

That was the basic message of the State of the Nation Report, the 12th such annual report on the economic and social condition of the country. The document was made public Monday.

The report also said that as exports and industry are increasingly productive, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is getting bigger.

As part of the needed changes, the report said that to ratify the free trade reaty with the United States means implementing a program of institutional reforms and introducing substantial adjustments to various sectors of the country.

The report reiterated the urgency of achieving political accords to push reforms to inaugurate an epoch of social progress. However, there were not many specifics on how to do this.
The report pointed out that the two-party system created in part by the 1948 civil war no longer is a factor in politics. The 2006 election destroyed the bi-partisan system that had governed the country for the last 20 years. And this happened within a framework of an economic and social situation in which basic tension existed between the accelerated transformation in production and distribution of goods and services on one hand and the insufficient national performance to confront the long-term challenges in human development on the other, it said.

The old economic system, presumably agricultural-based, has given way to one where the financial sector, the free zones and tourism are the most dynamic.

The report reads very much like a civics, economics and sociology text all in one. It is filled with 2005 data, most of which has been reported in the past. The report draws on other agencies, including the Banco Central de Costa Rica and the Defensor de los Habitantes.

The primary focus is sustainable human development.
The full report in Spanish and a host of statistics in spreadsheet format are on the Estado de la Nación Web site.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 226

Study says U.S. bribes U.N. Security Council non-permanent members with aid
By the University of Chicago press service

How much is a seat on the U.N. Security Council worth?

A new study by Harvard economists argues that the United States attempts to influence non-permanent members of the U. N. Security Council with economic bribes in the guise of financial aid.

Their findings, in the current issue of the Journal of Political Economy, reveal that winning a seat on the U. N. Security Council coincides with a sharp increase in financial aid payments from the United States, particularly during times of conflict.

Costa Rica will seek such a seat next year.
Non-permanent members of the Security Council are given two-year, rotating seats. Upon winning a seat to the council, the average non-permanent member nation receives a 54 percent increase in aid from the United States and a 7 percent increase in aid from the United Nations. This
translates to an additional $15 million in aid from the United States and $1 million in aid from the United Nations.

Notably, votes on the 15-nation council become even more valuable during politically important years, such as times of conflict: Financial payments increase an average of an additional $44 million from the United States and $6 million in aid from the United Nations, according to the study.

Ilyana Kuziemko of Harvard University and Eric Werker of Harvard Business School said their findings “suggest a possible explanation for the disappointing track record of aid: As donor countries use aid strategically, they do not prioritize humanitarian concerns when crafting aid packages.”

The results also support the need for an additional set of reforms — namely, measures that would help insulate the rotating members from the financial influence of the greater powers, they said.

Oil price impact can wreck developing economies, U.S. energy official says
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

High oil prices can wreck economies, especially in the developing world, according to the U.S. secretary of Energy. The secretary, Samuel Bodman, said high prices can also stifle business growth and hurt efforts to improve health care for the poor.

In remarks before the annual conference of the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., Bodman said that worldwide demand for energy is expected to skyrocket over the next quarter-century.

"The Energy Information Administration estimates that by 2030 global energy consumption will grow by over 70 percent. The strongest growth is expected in developing economies in Asia, including China and India, with growth expected to triple in that region over the next 25 years," he said.

Bodman says while there is a high level of concern about the impact of energy prices on American families and businesses, the impact in the developing world can be devastating.

"It is not an understatement to say that high oil prices can literally wreck economies. They can restrict development in
a way that stifles business growth and, more notably, inhibits improvements in the health and well-being of so many around the world."

The secretary of Energy is urging oil-producing countries not to cut production in an attempt to boost prices.

"In the very short term, right now, we certainly must stop doing the things that we know will not help. For example, we know that purposeful market distortions, such as rationing supply, cutting production, or creating price floors or ceilings, do not work. I can't stress this enough, the global oil market must be allowed to function in a predictable and a transparent way."

Bodman did not mention the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries by name in his speech, but the international oil cartel voted last month to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day in an effort to counter falling oil prices.

The Energy secretary says governments around the world pay for more research into alternate energy sources, such as ethanol, solar and wind.

He also urged nations to educate more scientists and engineers to work on making such alternatives practical.

Coffee professionals are meeting here to consider the future of their product
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday marked the inauguration and 20th anniversary of the Sintercafé coffee conference here.  The conference, entitled, "20 Years — 20/20 Vision,” features speakers discussing a broad range of topics: Everything from crafting the actual bean to a 20-year prediction concerning the future of coffee. 

Carlos Alfaro, president of Sintercafe, says the goal is “to create a lively forum where coffee people from all over the world can discuss and contribute to analyzing the future.”

The majority of the conference will be taking place at the Real Intercontinental Hotel in Escazú, with workshops and
speakers forums through Wednesday.  The event also features sporting tournaments and the Grano de Oro
National Art Competition.  The art competition receives more that 100 yearly entries and draws international attention to local artists.

Steve Aronson, president of Café Britt in Costa Rica, will be presenting one of the more forward-looking discussions: “Consumption and the Global Landscape.” 

In this presentation Aronson will be tackling such issues as global warming, increasing oil price, and a waning baby boomer generation — all in relation to prospects and future of the coffee market.  The world's sixth largest agricultural export in terms of value in 2003, the coffee industry is no small market. 

There are more than 20 speakers and nearly 400 registered participants from 25 different countries.

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