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(506) 2223-1327               Published Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 229        E-mail us
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Nation gets an early taste of dry season chills
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weather is not exactly like Minnesota, and the tomato plants are not subject to freeze, but Costa Ricans are getting a good dose of typical high season chill.

Substantial wind gusts shook metal roofs in the Central Valley, on the Caribbean coast and also in Liberia, according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

Costa Rican homes are not well suited for chilly conditions. They are not insulated. The windows frequently do not close well. Some homes have no glass in the windows, just screens. In some poorer neighborhoods, the exterior door is nothing but a piece of fabric. So when the temperature dips into the teens, the chill is noticeable.

Forecasters said the temperatures would rise slightly. Although they said the Caribbean coast would continue to get substantial rain  through Friday, Wednesday was fairly dry there and all over the country. Blue afternoon skies with high clouds promised the end of the rainy season in San José.

The weather station at Desamparados reported a low of 14.7 C (58.5 F) at 9 p.m. with a daily low of 14.1 C  (57.4 F) earlier in the evening. Winds gusted up to 25.6 kph (15.9 mph) with a scant tenth of a millimeter of rain reported since 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Cartago had no rain all day but a temperature at 9 p.m. of 15.1 C  (59 F) with winds up to 27.2 kph (16.9 mph).

San José also had no rain, and the mid-evening temperature was 18.5 C (65.3 F) with 16.3 C (61.3 F) registered as the low for the day.  There were gusts of up to 35.8 kph (22.1 mph) during the day.

The highest winds were reported at Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia. A gust of 45.2 kph (28 mph) was reported there but with evening winds dropping into the 10 to 14 (6 to 8.7 mph) range. Temperature was at 21.2 (70.2 F) at 9 p.m. with a low of 18.3 (64.9 F) reported earlier.
chilly tica
And some street vendors are selling mittens!

The Limón airport on the Caribbean coast had a gust of 43.5 (27 mph) with sustained winds around 16 kph (10 mph) in the evening. Temperature was at 24.4 C (75.9 F) at 9 p.m. with a daily low of 21.8 C (71.2 F).  

Some 5.9 mm (two-tenths of an inch) of rain fell on top of 49.6 mm (2 inches) reported from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Manzanillos, also on the Caribbean was at 24.4 (75.9) at 9 p.m. and a daily high of 30.2 (86.4 F) and a low of 21.6  (70.9 F) 

Gusts of 19.3 kph (12 mph) were reported and a half a millimeter of rain fell during the day after 89.2 (3.5 inches) through 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The nation's hot spot appeared to be Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, which reported a high temperature of 33.2 (91.8 F) for the day and little wind.  The temperature at 9 p.m. was 24.0 (75.2 F) with a low for the day of 20.4 (68.7 F).

The weather institute still was predicting winds of moderate intensity and unstable conditions in the Caribbean and northern zone today. Intermittent rain also was predicted there.

Sunny to partially cloudy conditions were forecast for the rest of the country



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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 229

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Security chiefs gather
at border for strategy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Security officials from Panamá and Costa Rica met at the Paso Canoas border crossing Wednesday to discuss cooperating in  fighting everything from major drug rings to the illegal importation of alcohol.

Among those at the meeting were Janina del Vecchio, minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública, Fuerza Pública officials and immigration  chiefs.

The ministry said that the delegations were working on orders from the presidents of both countries. Topics included arms trafficking, trafficking in persons and hit men. Of special concern was the apparent trafficking in Africans who pass through both countries in an effort to arrive at a third nation, usually the United States or Canada.

The officials said they would meet again in 60 days to evaluate agreements reached Wednesday. The texts of the agreements were not released.


First trans-Atlantic boats
expected to arrive Sunday


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The sailboats in the Transat Jacques Vabre are expected to begin arriving at Limón Sunday. The racers are facing better conditions in the Caribbean after a tough time in the open Atlantic.

The boats are in two categories with different routes: single-hull and multi-hull. They left from France.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo expects thousands of persons to arrive in Limón to welcome the boats between Sunday and Nov. 30.

Eric Lacayo Rojas, director general of the Fuerza Pública, said that his agency would be setting up a command post in Limón and would have a large police presence.

Costa Rican government officials are scheduled to travel to Limón Saturday, but their plans may change based on the estimated arrival time of the first boats.

Several boats have had to drop out due to capsizing or damage inflicted by an unidentified floating object.

Our reader's opinion
Embassy worker was rude
to Tica wife seeking a visa


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I read with much interest the letter that Tony Kasday submitted to the U.S. Embassy, a copy of which was posted in Wednesday's edition of A.M. Costa Rica. 

I would not be suprised if it doesn't bring a flood of letters attesting to the "high-handed and arrogant" treatment given to visa applicants.  I too, am ashamed and embarrassed by the actions of the embassy.  It is beyond my understanding why those children were denied a visa given that proof of their itinerary and round-trip airline tickets were presented. I suspect that it may possibly be that they want Mr. Kasday to contribute another $400 to their "racket" and take a chance on getting the visas "on appeal." 

Upon reading of Mr. Kasday's case, I am prompted to relate my wife's recent interaction with the embassy, as her treatment really goes beyond the usual arrogant high-handedness to the point of utter rudeness.  In September, I made a quick trip to the States to take care of some business. Not long after my arrival, I was struck by a car while attempting to walk across a road in Ft. Lauderdale and sustained serious injuries.

My wife, upon receipt of the required forms from the hospital, went to the U.S. Embassy to get an "emergency" visa so she could come to my aid. The third person she talked to at the embassy, a Gringo, not only told her to "shut up" when she was trying to present further proof of her "required ties to Costa Rica" (necessary proof that you aren't going to overstay your time limit), but out of the blue, he told her that he "didn't like her." 

Imagine if you will, that she was already nervous and upset about the situation, and then consider his rude attitude toward her. She was so traumatized by it that she says she will never enter that embassy again, and that, I believe, is exactly the result that the staff at the embassy hopes to achieve by it's ill-mannered treatment of applicants.
Steven Mudd
Alajuela

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 229

Internet child protection bill goes to full legislature
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative committee has reported out a bill that is designed to protect children from harmful material on the Internet.

The measure, which was introduced a year ago, covers Internet cafe owners and others who have public or private locations where computer users can access the Internet.

The measure is similar to a decree issued by then-president Abel Pacheco which sought to do the same thing. However, the decree was never enforced.  The bill is sponsored by Guyón Holt Massey Mora, the only representative of Partido Restauración Nacional in the legislature. He also happens to be the head of the Comisión de Juventud, Niñez y Adolescencia, which reported out the bill to the full legislature Wednesday.

The proposed law assumes there is some kind of filter that will prevent Internet access to pornography, obscene language, accounts of aggression and violence, instructions in producing homemade weapons, support for the use of drugs and publicity in favor of war. Prohibited items also include Web sites that support national, racial or religious hatred or hatred of groups based on race, color, religion, language or origin.

Also forbidden is information that attacks the moral and psychological integrity or affects the personal and family intimacy of minors.

The state is instructed to provide such software filters at no or low cost, but the specific type of filter is not mentioned. Internet cafe owners have said in the past that such filters do not exist.
 
The preface to the bill says that there are many studies of
adverse effect of exposing minors to such situations,
including the premature awakening of their sexuality, increasing their aggressiveness and destruction of their moral integrity. In addition the minors run the risk of being in contact with abusers or pimps whose only goal is to cause irreparable damage, said the preface.

And some of these networks also provide access to information on abortion, it said.

In fact, many of the studies that claim that pornography is harmful are produced by organizations that want to eliminate pornography. Impartial academic studies are inconclusive.

One study shows that nearly all child abusers have been exposed when young to pornography. However, critics point out that most judges and policemen have been exposed, too.

The prevailing academic opinion is that pornography can be harmful for certain children who already have antisocial tendencies.

Massey's bill also does not define pornography.

The bill also requires Internet cafes and other locations to separate users who are minors from the adult customers.

According to the summary of the bill some 90 percent of children between 8 and 16 years have seen pornography on the Internet, frequently by accident. It also says that popular animated sites like Pokemon, My Little Pony and Action Man have thousands of links to pornographic sites.

The bill empowers the Comisión de Control y Calificación de Espectáculos Públicos to enforce the law. Penalties for violation include a fine and the possible suspension of the location's business license. The bill would go into effect six months after it is passed and published.


Little effect reported from outage in undersea Internet cable
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An outage of an underwater communications cable did not have much effect in Costa Rica, said the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, which manages connections to such cables.

The problem was with the Arcos cable operated by  Columbus Networks, said the telecom company. The cable suffered an interruption about 9 a.m. near Miami and
service was not fully restored until noon, said the company known as ICE. The company said its technicians took steps to manually route Internet and data traffic using other international cables. Costa Rica is now connected to the world by three undersea cables, including the Maya, which also is operated by Columbus Networks.

Iván Flores Arias, director of ICE's División de Redes y Sistemas, said that about 60 percent of the Internet traffic was affected.


Rate hikes for bus fleets reduced because dollar is lower
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Protests led by the Defensoría de los Habitantes caused the regulator agency to shave the amount of increase in the nation's buses Wednesday. The proposal was for increases averaging 4.11 percent.

However, the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos established the rate hikes at an average of 3.5 percent after a late afternoon hearing.

Among other technical arguments, the Defensoría argued
that the price of the dollar had fallen from the rate that had been included in the initial proposals.

According to the Banco Central de Costa Rica a dollar could buy 561 colons today and the price to buy a dollar is 570.5 colons. The exchange rate figures in computing the cost of operating buses because petroleum prices are denominated in dollars.

Today's exchange rate is a significant decrease from the 577.54 rate on which the higher bus fare increase was based, the Defensoría said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 229


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Lawmakers to get another shot at woman and violence law

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature's Comisión de la Mujer has sent to the full legislature a revision of the law penalizing violence against women. This is the law that specifically protects women from their spouses.

Although the nation's criminal code provides penalties for inflicting major injuries, proponents of this law say that it would penalize injuries such as black eyes and minor cuts that are not considered grave injuries in the penal code.

The proposal also would provide prison for from six months to a year for any man who insults in public or private his wife or partner in fact.

These two sections of the law were ruled unconstitutional last year. Some women were upset when the Sala IV constitutional court cut the penalties from the law. The new bill rewrites Article 22 and Article 25 of the violence law, although the changes are subtle. Some penalties are reduced.

Article 22 stated that those who repeatedly inflict grave physical injuries on a woman, whether in a marriage or some other form of union, can be sentenced between six months to two years in prison.

Article 25 of the Ley de Penalización sentences those
accused of inflicting psychological abuse on a female partner, such as insults, threats or ridicule, to six months to two years in prison.

The revised Article 22 says that anyone who mistreats physically a women with whom he maintains a relationship, whether marriage or union in fact, without incapacitating her gets a penalty of from three months to a year. The general criminal code requires that someone be injured enough to miss work for penalties to be imposed.

The new Article 25 seems identical to the one struck down and still penalizes anyone who offends with word or deed in a public or private manner a woman with whom he maintains a marriage relationship or a union in fact declared or not with six months to two years in jail.

The Sala IV also said in a decision released Oct. 17, 2008, that the law was unconstitutional for implicitly treating men and women unequally before the law. This violates Article 33 in the constitution, which states all citizens are equal before the law, the court said. Those who rewrote the two sections of the law did not seem to address the principal concern of the court.

There were demonstrations in favor of the law at the Corte Suprema de Justicia, and one rally attracted 2,000 persons. A woman court magistrate helped draft the new proposal.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 229

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Extremism seen as threat
to advances by women

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A senior United Nations official has voiced fears that rising religious extremism poses a new and major threat against women. 

Noeleen Heyzer, the head of the U.N. economic commission for Asia and the Pacific, warns that religious extremism may be a more serious threat to women than other problems, such as warming temperatures.

"My greatest fear is that the rise of extremism — even more so than the financial crisis and the climate change agendas because what we thought were archaic and that we had actually been able to show that these are dangerous laws to have in our societies they are coming back, in terms of stoning of women and the public caning of women," she said.

She expressed that concern to 300 delegates from more than 60 countries in the Asia-Pacific region at the U.N.'s conference on the status of women in Bangkok this week. Delegates conferred on the progress the region has made in improving the status of women.

The economic crisis has taken a toll on jobs usually filled by women in Asia, especially making textiles and electronics. Ms. Heyzer says unemployment and volatile food and fuel prices together undermine the development gains made by women.

Joanne Sandler, deputy director general of the U.N. Development Fund for Women, said the damage from the economic crisis extends well beyond rising unemployment. It often pushes women into jobs that offer no security or are unsafe.

"We can already see even the crisis is creating more informality, less security for women workers; women workers get hit in a particular way — the way that then increases things like violence against women," said Ms. Sandler. "We're already seeing women who are going into more insecure areas of work who then become more vulnerable to sexual harassment, sexual violence."

Ms. Sandler says governments need to give women a say in economic policy.

Devaki Jain, an economist and women's rights activists in India, says despite progress in laws to protect women, many vulnerable populations, such as migrant workers, still face discrimination.

"Women's economic rights haven't been sufficiently embedded into the legal systems to be able to say 'I can't lose this job'. When the domestic workers who migrated to the Western countries now there is less of a demand for them because of the recession, so many of the agencies are just dropping them."

The conference in Bangkok concluded Wednesday, which is when the U.N. Population Fund released its annual report.

The report warns that women, especially in poor countries, are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially in agricultural communities. Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food for their households. Girls often drop out of school to assist mothers.

The report says discrimination against women hampers development and may make it harder for developing agricultural economies to cope with the effects of climate change.

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A.M. Costa Rica saves
you from a traffic fine


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The transport ministry does not want this story written, but editors figure that expats already know how to park their cars.

The ministry whispered Wednesday that traffic police would descend on Avenida 2 about 10 a.m. today to ticket and perhaps tow vehicles that were badly parked.  The target area is around the La Merced church.

Very few husky delivery truck drivers read A.M. Costa Rica, and those who do are smart enough not to block the traffic with their bulky trucks. So editors figure they are using the discretion that the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes sought when they tipped newspeople to the proposed sweep.

Avenida 2 has been a problem for the Policía de Tránsito. At first the municipality wanted to put in diagonal parking. Then the rule was horizontal parking along the curb. The city fathers want to appeal to the business people who have their shops along Avenida 2. Traffic police are interested in having the flow continue. Smart motorists put their vehicles in lots and pay a few dollars anyway.

So park somewhere else today if you are going to the city just east of Hospital San Juan de Dios.

Tie means a loss for Ticos

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican national soccer team saved the country a lot of money Wednesday night when they tied in a second and final match against Uruguay 1-1.

Costa Rica needed to win by one goal in order to enter into a shootout with the team at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. The team needed to win by two goals to clinch a berth in the 2010 World Cup. Costa Rica lost 1-0 Saturday in San José.

Four years ago the Tourism ministry dropped $4.5 million ostensibly in promoting Costa Rica to newspaper and spectators in Germany where the World Cup match was held. Actually elected officials got to go to the soccer games, none of which the national team won.

Walter Centeno scored the only Costa Rican goal with a header in the second half, that evened the score.




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