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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 242                        Email us
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Yule lights
Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz S.A. photos
Here are some of the scenes that will wish residents and visitors a happy holiday season.
Yule lighting inauguration will feature fireworks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national electric company said Tuesday that the Christmas illumination of San José will be inaugurated Friday with a 6 p.m. ceremony and fireworks display just west of the Teatro Nacional.

The company, the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz S.A., said it is using LED lights this year to effect a savings in energy of up to 80 percent.

Plans are to have lighting on many of the major streets as well as downtown churches.

These, too, will sport LED lights that are said to cost 10 times less in power than incandescent bulbs.

The hanging and testing of the various lights is supposed to be concluded today. There also will be light displays in other areas of the country served by the same company. For example, the Iglesia de Coronado and the Catedral de Puntarenas are being
illuminated as well as locations in Barva, Desamparados, Miramar and Moravia.

In San José these streets will be lighted; Paseo Colón, Avenida Secunda, Avenida Central, Avenida Cuarto, part of Calle 42, the old road to Escazú in Sabana Sur from the Universal store to the Colegio Médicos, the Bulevar Las Américas north of Parque la Sabana, Avenida 10 from the Gimnasio Nacional. Also illuminated will be the pedestrian overpasses at Hospital México, Hospital San Juan de Dios, Paseo Colón and Soda Tapia at Sabana Este.

There also will be trees illuminated as well as Parque La Merced, Parque Morazán, Parque Central and the Plaza de la Democracia.

The company also is installing illuminated murals at various locations. One will be in San Antonio de Belén on the Autopista General Cañas, and another will be in La Unión opposite Terramall on the Autopista Florencia del Castillo.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 242
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Our readers' opinions
Escalating luxury taxes
driving people from homes


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
As reported in A.M. Costa Rica, if the decree appears to increase the square-meter value of dwellings as much as 40 percent, then a home built three years ago for $160,000 will be considered a luxury home, and at this rate in a few years most homes will be luxury homes. Therefore owning a home will become a luxury. So most of us will be driven into slums instead of getting out of them.

The Poor can not pay taxes. They can not afford to pay taxes and rightfully so. If they are forced in anyway, we will have riots on the streets.
 
Rich have too many loopholes and find ways to avoid taxes. Rich are the influential landlords who own millions in land properties, but that is not considered luxury and conveniently left untouched.
 
That leaves the middle class, the quiet, unsung and honest by default, idiots to be squeezed from every direction. So if the cost of building a $200,000 home has gone up to $280 thousand in three years, then the threshold of luxury should be $280,000 not the other way around. I hope someone out there is intelligent enough to realize that and take action.
 
Tired of being squeezed by taxes.
Abdul Mohamed
Sabana Oeste


More than shark fining hurts
the creatures living in oceans


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Most of us are appalled at the shark fining industry, even though the shark fins are used for food.  People who eat seafood need not be so judgmental in regards to this practice.  Where do you think much of the fish and shrimp people consume come from?  They come from commercial long-line fishing and long drift nets. 

These long lines can be from 10 to 100 miles long and have a hook approximately every six feet on the long line.  At any one moment on the planet there are over 40,000 miles of long lines catching all these animals.  It is not sustainable just as shark fishing isn't.  Yet we think this is OK and shark fishing is not. 

Due to commercial long-line fishing approximately 300,000 sea birds are killed each year, thousands of endangered sea turtles, over 50 million sharks and rays and 250,000 cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are killed.   It is estimated that up to 25 percent of the catch is thrown back into the ocean.  This doesn't even include the long drift nets that are also used to catch your lunch or dinner.  This practice is almost as devastating. 

Commercial long-line fishing and net fishing are unsustainable, and our ocean ecosystems are being destroyed by them.  So the next time you bite into your fish lunch or dinner remember many other fish, turtles, cetaceans and birds died to supply you with that meal, just as the shark fin soup the Chinese are consuming.

Henry Kantrowitz
Punta Leona

Get in on the reporting
and call with hot news items


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My suggestion to Mr. Ruzicka, and to others who may be witnessing items that are newsworthy, would be to contact A.M. Costa Rica to enable the newspaper staff to get on the story. The phone numbers are printed in each issue. Maybe have the number on hand at all times.  Be a part of the news in the making by reporting unusual or outstanding occurrences.
Ann Boyd
La Garita

EDITOR'S NOTE: We would be happy to receive your calls at 2223-1327 or email HERE!

 
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!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 242
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Group backed by British to urge quicker action on kiddie porn
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An international, non-governmental organization again is urging the legislature to toughen Costa Rica's child pornography law.

The organization, Alianza por tus Derechos, submitted a proposed law to a subcommittee of the Asamblea Legislativa last year. The legislature has still not called up the bill for discussion.

If passed, the law will more clearly define what constitutes child pornography and enact stiffer penalties for making and viewing pornographic material featuring minors.

The bill was written by members of the alliance with help and funding from the British Embassy in San José.

A press release from the alliance said that Costa Rica has the  weakest laws in Latin America with regards to child pornography.
The highest penalty for making pornographic material with minors is three years compared to 12 years for aggravated robbery, and only one of 10 violators are actually sent to prison, the release added.

To change this, alliance members wrote and submitted the bill to the government last year. President Laura Chinchilla and the security minister Mario Zamora said they supported the measure, and the bill went to a subcommittee in June 2011.

The alliance will hold a press conference today to urge the legislature to take quicker action on the bill.

According to the alliance's Web site, the bill will penalize visual, oral and written texts that include minors in sexual situations.

This includes what the alliance calls “pseudo pornography” which it defines as images that are digitally created or altered to depict minors as well as drawings, cartoons and caricatures of an explicit nature.






Quick work
to fix lines

The good news is that the Instituto Costarricene de Electricidad cleaned up this mess and restored power from Cocles to Playa Chiquita on the Caribbean coast in about a day. The firm estimated three days after this tree fell and damaged lines, poles and a transformer.
power outage
A.M. Costa Rica/Connie Foss


Simón Bolívar zoo plans two Christmas events this month
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The San José zoo is offering Christmas tales and a posadas procession this month.  Las posadas is a celebration rooted in Catholicism from Spanish culture that represents the nine months that Mary carried Jesus and the search by the holy couple seeking lodgings in Bethlehem. 

A person carrying a lantern leads a group from house to house where residents pretending to be innkeepers sing songs and deny lodgings or posadas.  At the end of the procession, the group goes to one house where they can enter and enjoy food and perhaps a piñata. The guests also pray around the house portal or nativity scene.

The zoo event is Dec. 16, but Costa Ricans and others in the Spanish-speaking world will be engaged in the tradition until Christmas Day.

“As we approach the end of the year, Parque Zoológico y Jardín Botánico Nacional Simón Bolívar is offering a space that families can enjoy this special time in the midst of nature and
recall the Christmas spirit which characterizes Costa Ricans,” said a release.

Christmas tales at the zoo will be Sunday at 11 a.m.  The book of Costa Rican tales, "Campanitas Navideñas," will be presented.  Translated to "Jingle Bells," the book is a collection of Costa Rican children stories based on Christmas traditions and values like family love, kindness, and the respect of nature, said the publisher Editorial Sobrevuelo on its Web site.
Artist Teresita Borge will participate and Eduardo Bolaños will supply Christmas carols. 

The traditional Christmas posadas will be Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. and will include the participation of the community of Barrio Amon, and the nuns of the Oblatas al Divino Amor. The children's choir from the Infantil del Oratorio Don Bosco will perform Christmas classics.

The zoo in north San José is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admissions are 1,600 colons for children ages 3 to 12, 2,300 colons for adults, 1,600 colons for seniors and free for children under 3 years of age.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 242
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Ban says abnormal weather is now normal due to climate change
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
and special reports

U. N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says abnormal weather — including violent storms, melting ice caps and drought — is now the new normal and threatens global security and the future.

Ban told a U.N. climate change meeting in Doha Tuesday that no one is immune to global warming, rich or poor. He called it a challenge for the entire human race, ways of life, and plans for the future.

Officials from close to 200 nations are meeting in Doha to consider extending the 1997 Kyoto Protocol reducing greenhouse gas emissions beyond its expiration at the end of the year. Ban wants to extend that agreement until a stronger deal can be negotiated and take effect in 2020.

The United States never ratified Kyoto, and other major economies, including Russia and Japan, have dropped out of the pact. They say it does not cover such growing economies and major polluters as China and India. Many scientists blame global warming and the dangers it poses on pollution from factories and cars. Others say it is part of natural weather patterns.

Ban urged countries to act decisively to tackle the growing crisis.

“Let us be under no illusion. This is a crisis. A threat to us all. Our economies. Our security. And the well-being of our children and those who will come after,” Ban said at the start of the high-level segment of the 18th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“The danger signs are all around,” he added, pointing to the unprecedented melting of ice caps, rising sea levels, and land degradation and drought in various parts of the world.

The two-week conference brings together the 195 parties of the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Under the Protocol, 37 States – consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy – have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments.

The two-week conference ends Friday.

“The Kyoto Protocol remains the closest we have to a global, binding climate agreement," said Ban. "It must continue. It is a foundation to build on.  It has important institutions, including accounting and legal systems, and the framework that markets sorely need. Its continuation on 1 January 2013 would show that governments remain committed to a more robust climate regime.”

He also expected progress on long-term climate finance, and ensuring that the institutions set up in Cancun and Durban to support mitigation and adaptation by developing countries – including the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Technology Centre and Network – are fully equipped and effective.

Recent U.N.-led reports have pointed to the urgency of keeping global average temperatures from rising beyond an internationally agreed level of two degrees Celsius, beyond which climate change would have serious impacts.

“The gap can be bridged.  But time is not on our side,” Ban warned.


Another group emerges with the goal of stopping Johnny Araya
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another effort is emerging to deny Johnny Araya Monge the presidency.

A group of political activists is proposing a coalition of political parties other than Liberación Nacional to elect a president in 2014. The example, the group said in an emailed statement is the way the smaller parties united to win the leadership of the legislature 18 months ago.

Both Araya, the current San José mayor, and Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, the former president's brother, are candidates for the Liberación nomination. The coalition group are not fans of the Arias brothers either.

The group lists problems such as poverty, citizen security, the quality of public health and education, highway conditions and corruption as reasons why the electorate needs an alternative.

The coalition announcement said that Liberación has used its power to penetrate all the institutional fabric of the country and promotes fraudulent electoral practices and threatens those who would oppose it. This has caused the credibility of politicians to deteriorate and causes voters to stay away from the ballot boxes, it said.
The coalition said that it would only field presidential and vice presidential candidates. The parties that agree to join the coalition will continue to give voters their slates of legislators.

A specific requirement of a suitable presidential candidate would be someone who has not been involved with Liberación for at least five years, said the statement. The group proposes a national convention to pick the candidate. Many political figures have been Liberación members in the past, including Ottón Solís, the leader of the Partido Acción Ciudadana.

The group calls itself Hacia La Coalición 2014 and has set Saturday for an open meeting to discuss the proposal. The 9 a.m. session will be at the Federación de Organizaciones Voluntarias in Barrio Tournón in north San José.

Among those signing the statement are Freddy Pacheco León, a Universidad Nacional professor, and Rosa Masis Martinez, a lawyer.

The coalition is the latest in a series of political movements that appear to be designed to advance certain individuals outside the normal party framework.

Part of the reason appears to be because many believe that Araya has the Liberación nomination sewed up.

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GOP bloc in U.S. Senate
halts approval of U.N. treaty


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Opposition Republicans in the U.S. Senate have blocked passage of a United Nations treaty protecting people with disabilities from discrimination.

Most lawmakers voted in favor of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Tuesday. But a two-thirds' majority was required for passage, and the final was five votes short.

The treaty failed despite a personal appeal by former Republican senator Robert Dole, who lost the use of his right arm when he was severely wounded in World War II.

The U.N. treaty is modeled after U.S. law that gives disabled people equal rights when it comes to employment and other government benefits. But opponents said the treaty would give priority to U.N. rules and bureaucracy over U.S. laws.

Supporters disputed that argument and said passage was the moral thing to do.

The White House said it is disappointed at the Senate vote. It said the law would have helped protect disabled Americans, including wounded servicemen, as they travel around the world.


Agreement on U.S. tax hikes
still appears to be far off

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

White House officials said the Obama administration is still negotiating with Republicans in Congress on a looming fiscal crisis. Both sides are far apart in their negotiations, less than a month before big tax increases and spending cuts are set to take effect.

President Barack Obama has met only once with top lawmakers to discuss the budget dispute, which Democrats and Republicans agree could damage the U.S. economic recovery.

But White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday the two sides have been holding a series of lower-level meetings to advance the talks.

“I can guarantee you that conversations continue at different levels among different groups," said Carney. "Whether there are emails being exchanged at this moment, I cannot say, but broadly speaking, there are conversations taking place.”

So far, each side has rejected the other’s proposals. 

In an interview with Bloomberg News on Tuesday, President Obama said Monday’s counteroffer by John Boehner, a Republican who is speaker of the House, was not acceptable.
 
“We have the potential of getting a deal done, but it is going to require what I talked about during the campaign, which is a balanced, responsible approach to deficit reduction that can help give businesses certainty and make sure that the country grows," he said. "And unfortunately, the speaker’s proposal right now is still out of balance.”

Boehner and other Republicans last week shunned a White House plan, which would raise taxes on the richest Americans.

In a written statement Tuesday, Boehner said the president has offered a plan that could not pass either house of Congress.

The top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Obama needs to get serious about the negotiations.

The president, meanwhile, invited several state governors from both parties to the White House Tuesday to hear their thoughts on the issue. The governors, including Republican Gary Herbert of the western state of Utah, agreed that urgent action is needed to avert the fiscal crisis before Jan. 1.


Voyager space probe finds
magnetic edge to solar system


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Voyager 1, operated by the U.S. space agency NASA, has entered a newly discovered region at the edge of the solar system, and is close to crossing a final boundary into interstellar space.

Scientists are calling this region between the solar system and deep space the "magnetic highway." Astronomers say Voyager is still under the influence of the Sun, but that it has reached an area in which highly charged energy particles from interstellar space are beginning to stream in.

Project scientist Edward Stone of the California Institute of Technology says astronomers did not previously know about this final boundary discovered by Voyager.

"It's a magnetic highway where the magnetic field of the Sun was still inside apparently.  But the magnetic field now is connected to the outside, letting particles in and out."

Stone says it could be another two to three years before Voyager crosses that magnetic highway. The latest discovery from Voyager was described by astronomers at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco Monday.

Voyager 1 and it's twin space probe Voyager 2 were launched 16 days apart in 1977.  At 18 billion kilometers away (about 11.2 billion miles), Voyager is the the most distant human-made object.  Voyager 2 is about 15 billion kilometers away.  A signal from Voyager 1 takes about 17 hours to reach Earth.

Stone says Voyager 1 has enough power to keep operating all of its instruments until 2020.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 242
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Latin America news
Arenal charity plans feria
Sunday as a fundraiser


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ladies of the Lake, a charity organization in northwest Lake Arenal, will hold an art show and feria Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for their annual fundraiser.

Patrons can enjoy arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing, books, CDs, DVDs, gourmet food and kids activities inside the salon of  Plaza del Café.

“We have a larger than ever lineup of artist, artisans and vendors this year.  Come and join us, socialize, shop and have fun. All proceeds go to the feeding of children and the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats,” said spokespersons.

The cafe is located on Lake Road between Tilarán and Nuevo Arenal at the Tierras Morenas turnoff.  The organization is also taking yard sale donations for the Lady of the Lake table which can be dropped off at the ReMax Rico Realty Office in Cinco Esquinas or at the Iguana Bar and Grill in Nuevo Arenal.

Those interested in participating with their art, crafts or products, can contact Ruth at lol3rdbazaar@yahoo.com or 8371-3015.


Firms involved with bull ring
are cited for an investigation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's antitrust commission will investigate the owners of five businesses on suspicion that they conspired together in bidding on a contract to administer the rondel in Zapote.

The contract entails touching up and overseeing the Zapote arena where the municipality will hold its Christmas season festival and bullfights. The agency doing the investigation is the Comisión para Promover la Competencia.

The businesses are BGL Consultores Internacionales INC S. A., MPCM Desarrollos S.A., Cooperativa de Vivienda R.L., Ganadería Chinchilla S.A. and Ganadería Tres Equis S.A., according to a press release from the Ministerio de Economía, Industría y Comercio.

The release said that the group of businesses caught the commission's attention when officials saw news reports that BGL Consultores, Cooperativa de Vivienda and Ganadería Chinchilla would administer the arena together.

Officials said that the alliance between the businesses amounted to them collectively making a single bid in the process for the contract even though managers from these companies participated in the auction separately.

Commissioners said that Costa Rican antitrust law prohibits companies from cooperating together in public auctions or in the bidding process for government contracts.

The release said that the maximum punishment for companies found guilty of this behavior is 680 times a basic monthly salary, which is about 160 million colons or about $320,000. For individuals, the penalty is 75 times the salary, which is about 18 million colons or $36,000, said the ministry.







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A.M. Costa Rica
Seventh Newspage

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 241
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Jo Stuart

Chinese
                visitor
Casa Presidencial photo
President Laura Chinchilla greets Jia Qinglin, a high-ranking Chinese politician Tuesday.
 
Country will host six Mandarin teachers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The People's Republic will send six teachers of the Chinese language to Costa Rica to work at three installations of the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje for two years.

That was an agreement announced Tuesday between Costa Rica and China on the occasion of the visit here by Jia Qinglin, a member of the Chinese Politburo.

Casa Presdiencial also said that the Chinese would provide some improvements to the Estadio Nacional that the Asian government built.

Jia also is secretary of the National Committee of the People's Political Consultative Conference, which is widely considered a ceremonial post.

China also will increase to 400 the number of scholarships it will offer Costa Ricans over the next five years, said Casa Presidencial.

Other financial assistance already had been announced.

 
134 Nobel laureates seek release
of Chinese peace advocate and wife


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Some 134 Nobel laureates across all six Nobel disciplines wrote to incoming 
Chinese couple
Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia
Chinese President Xi Jinping, urging him to immediately and unconditionally release Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, the Human Rights Foundation said Tuesday.

Liu Xia has been under house arrest since shortly after the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced her husband’s selection as the Peace Prize laureate for 2010. The letter was released by the International Committee for Liu Xiaobo, which is comprised of six Nobel Peace Prize laureates and 15 non-governmental
organizations, including the Human Rights Foundation.

The Nobel laureates wrote:

Across all disciplines, the distinguishing feature which led to our recognition as Nobel laureates is that we have embraced the power of our intellectual freedom and creative inspiration to do our part to advance the human condition. No government can restrict freedom of thought and association without having a negative effect on such important human innovation.

Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, the 1984 peace laureate and Sir Richard Roberts, the 1993 physiology or medicine laureate, are leading this initiative with the support of Freedom Now, which serves as international counsel to both Liu Xiaobo and his wife. The letter from Nobel laureates sends a powerful message to the Chinese government that releasing Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia will send a positive signal about the new leadership’s priorities and that their ongoing detention hinders China’s development and damages its international stature, said the foundation.



New truck lane at  Peñas Blancas praised

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials have opened a new, modernized lane within the Peñas Blancas border crossing to more efficiently move exports out of the country.

Officials said that the new lane will cut truck drivers' waiting time at the border by half and allow them to complete the process in four minutes without leaving their vehicles. They translated this as cutting the wait time by eight hours and 11 minutes.

According to a press release from the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior, the next challenge is to work with Nicaragua to reduce the wait time to cross into that side of the border. The release adds that with the new lane, Costa Rica can send six trucks across the border in eight minutes, while Nicaragua can only allow one truck in every nine minutes.

This is one part of the ministry's plan to modernize the entire border facility according to the press release.

Officials also plan to remodel the arch that sprays down trucks to control insects, redesign the stations where immigrants and travelers receive visas, extend the hours during which people may cross the border, add a baggage scanner and make other adjustments.




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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details