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(506) 2223-1327         Posted Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 242           E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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Edgar Allen Poe influences new book by Ticos
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tangled mind of 19th century writer Edgar
Allen Poe is coming alive again and with a Tico twist.

Tonight in Los Yoses the new ClubdeLibros editorial house presents a collection of eight science fiction stories written by Costa Ricans and inspired by Poe.

You can bet there will
Poe book
be a raven present. One story, "El Legado del Cuervo" by Luis Jara Cubillo, muses over the reincarnation of Poe into the body of a raven that visits San José. The Central Valley has plenty of ravens, although few are tapping, gently rapping at the chamber door. It was on a bleak December day in 1845 when Poe penned the poem.
Claustrophobics probably should skip Antonio Chamu's "Otro Barril de Amontillado" and friendships with anyone misnamed Fortunato.

According to ClubdeLibros, writer Iván Molina created his short story "Anti-Eureka" based on the little-known fact that Poe played with the Big Bang Theory decades before it became conventional physics.

The presentation of the book "Poe Siglo XX1" is at the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano at 7 p.m. Entry is free.

The book will be out in time for Christmas with a 5,000-colon price tag, about $10.

Each of the short stories is illustrated in 19th century black-and-white style by artist Josué Garro. Some of the illustrations contain the face of Poe.

This is the first book by the ClubdeLibros, which has been a book club.

Don't forget the hat and scarf for Saturday's parade
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The annual Festival de la Luz is Saturday, and the crowds of spectators and participants are going to need warm clothing.

The winds that reached 50 kph over the last two days are expected to continue through the weekend. Predictions are for the temperature to dip to about 17 degrees C. with a 30 percent chance of rain. That's about 62 degrees F., and
frigid by Costa Rican standards. The wind, of course, multiplies the chill.

The Cruz Roja said Tuesday that it would field 160 persons from all over the country to provide medical protection to the crowd. Usually an estimated one million persons watch the Christmas parade, but the chill might reduce attendance this year. The event is available on local television stations.

The rescue agency said it handled 147 cases last year and 27 of the individuals went to hospitals.

The security ministry said it will have 600 officers on patrol.

This is the 15th year for the parade. Nery Brenes, the champion runner, will be the grand marshal. Although the parade is supposed to start at 7 p.m. some 200 entertainers, clowns and acrobats will provide an afternoon show starting at 3 p.m. near Parque La Sabana.
Municipalidad de San José file photo
One of the participants in 2009

The parade will feature bands from all over the country as well as floats from public and private enterprises.

Some 12 bands already have confirmed, including one from Guatemala.

The parade will go from La Sabana on Paseo Colón to Avenida 2, and good spots are at a premium.

The event has its own Web page.

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René Casto addresses the Tuesday session

Foreign ministers reaffirm
Nov. 12 vote on Río San Juan

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In an unusual midnight vote, a meeting of Western Hemisphere foreign minsters voted Tuesday, 24 to 2, that Nicaragua should adopt without delay a previous resolution that said the country should pull its troops out of the Isla Calero.

The vote was reported by the foreign ministry in San José after diplomats in Washington, D.C. spent long hours in a closed-door session.

Voting against the measure were Bolivia and Venezuela. Five countries abstained. Nicaragua was not present.

The resolution that was passed Nov. 12 also called on Costa Rica to withdraw from the area, but the country has no presence on the island.

Costa Rica, which has no army, has been seeking international support. But Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has been dismissive of the Organization of American States which convened the session Tuesday. Ortega even threatened to withdraw from the organization.

René Castro, Costa Rican foreign minister, argued the country's case in an open morning meeting. Castro has been stressing the environmental damage caused by Nicaragua's occupation of the territory and its efforts to construct a new mouth for the Río San Juan.

An area of about three square kilometers is involved on the north side of the island. Nicaragua has characterized the situation not as an invasion but as a border dispute. This has served to sow confusion among foreign diplomats. Many think that the appropriate venue for Costa Rica to present its case is the International Court of Justice, which by treaty is the arbiter of the international boundary line.  Costa Rica has filed a complaint at the Hague-based court, and a session is scheduled for Jan. 11. However, these hearings take time, sometimes years of litigation.

The action by the Organization of American States would seem to bring to an end Costa Rica's appeals there. The organization has few ways of enforcing its mandates.

Castro told the session in the morning that Costa Rica considers its sovereignty violated.

Our readers' opinions
Wikileaks disclosure cables
cleverly-designed psy-op

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am amazed at the sheeple of the world how easily they are brainwashed becoming ardent defenders, yes, even gullible worshippers of Wikileaks, like little wind-up toys, and according to plan.

Nothing of what has been leaked though is any real news. We have known about every issue all along, haven't we? Just check for yourselves.

The leaked "news" are totally insufficient to be a matter of journalistic worship. Know thy enemy.

Doesn't it seem odd that it is — again — directed at Islamic countries, at relations with China and mainly about embarrassing the U.S. in the wake of dissolving the U.S. Constitution and federation into a U.S.-Can-Mex North American Union.

The WikiLeaks club is not wielded against the most fascist government ruling over Palestine, no little swing whatsoever. Not even the "revelation" about their ties with the Saudis makes valuable news as it has been harmless common knowledge for anyone following the course of politics.

Did any "cable" come out that points at 9/11 not having been a Muslim job? No, you see, Julian Assange was a eulogized reporter for several Rothschild prints, one of them the Economist. Enough said?

I hope that the sheeple wake up to reality and see Wikileaks as what it really is, a cleverly-designed psy-op in typical superior secret service fashion to shut down the Internet as we know it and just like Jay Rockefeller wanted it. Thank you, Julian. Wake up, folks.
Axel Marquardt
San Jose

Publication of leaks
creates a conundrum

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Wikileaks: Not "fruit of the poisonous tree"

In the U.S.A., if law enforcement seizes potential evidence without a warrant, that property is deemed "fruit of the poisonous tree" and not admissible as evidence at trial.

If, however, a private individual seizes the potential evidence without a warrant and then produces the property to the prosecution team (which includes the police as well as the government attorneys), the doctrine of the "fruit of the poisonous tree" is not applied, and the property is admissible as evidence at trial.

The distinction here is that Wikileaks did not seize any property, it received it.  The layperson might want to exclaim, "Then Wikileaks was like a fence."  Well, certainly Wikileaks  received it with the intent to publish it. But did Wikileaks have a fence-like profit motive?  That is, did Wikileaks receive the property with the intent to sell it or not to sell it?   Or did WikiLeaks have a courageous, if not patriotic, motive to bring transparency to a government vulnerable to being called a tyrannical one?

The answers are not easy . . . either factually or legally.  And how deeply are morals and ethics involved in the fairly complicated conundrum?
Barbara C. Johnson

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.
Click a story for the summary

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on archived pages.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 242
Latigo K-9

Workers will share $1.2 billion in Christmas bonuses
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's private sector workers will share some 466 billion colons in Christmas bonuses, according to an employers group.

Public employees will share 491 billion more, according to another report.

There are 1.5 million workers in the private sector, according to the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado.
The total for both public and private workers is about $1.2 billion.

According to census data, private employment, independent workers and employers make up 86 percent of the work force.

The bonuses, called aguinaldos, are supposed to be paid by Dec. 20. The amount is supposed to be one-twelfth of what the employee earned between Dec. 1, 2009, to this Nov. 30. The Christmas bonus is one reason why many Costa Ricans work for a lower wage during the year.

Puriscal begins its chicharrones festival this Thursday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Festival organizers in Puriscal estimate that they will prepare and serve 13,000 kilos of chicharrones during a two-weekend festival that begins Thursday. It is the eighth Feria del Chicharrón.

The event is in the fair grounds in the community west of Ciudad Colón. Puriscal has 20 meat vendors that specialize in the preparation of chicharrones. For some families the trip to Puriscal and the purchase of a large quantity of chicharrones is part of the Christmas tradition.

The community attracts purchasers with the fair. This year there will be bull riding, dances and concerts. A horse parade is scheduled for Dec. 18.
The fairgrounds has space for 800 cars, said organizers.

The fair is jointly promoted by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. According to the institute, the going price for  chicharrones this season at the festival is 2,500 colons a plate and 7,000 colons per kilo.

That's $4.98 for the plate and $13.96 for the kilo.

The bulk of the chicharrones sold at the festival is made from pork. Although many countries define the word as fried pork rinds, the dish in Costa Rica usually contains chunks of meat. The pork rind version frequently is eaten as a snack, but in Costa Rica chicharrones usually are a main meal eaten with tortillas and side dishes of fried bananas, fried yucca, salads and various sauces.

Gas from Volcán Turrialba acidifies distant landscape
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Turrialba volcano is creating acidic conditions in the Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo and in the vicinity of the Barva volcano, researchers report.

The gas put out by the volcano sometimes mixes with rain or just precipitates into the vegetation.

Researchers from the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica at Universidad Nacional said they found Ph readings of 4.11 to 4.85 at these locations. A reading of 7.0 is neutral. The lower the number the higher is the acidity.

The Turrialba plume of the gas frequently extends in that direction, although it shifts according to the wind patterns.

The nearby Irazú volcano also puts out acidic gases, although not usually as a volcanic plume. The landscape
 around Irazú is devastated by the acidity. The gases come through cracks in the exterior of the volcanic cone.

Both mountains have been active over the past year.

The observatory researchers said that the main victim of the acidic condition is the vegetation and the general environment. They also expressed concern about ground water sources.

They said they expect to do more studies.

The study was done by putting a container to collect water at Cacho de Venado between Sept. 7 and Nov. 18. The results were analyzed by the observatory's Laboratorio de Geoquímica Volcánica. The researchers were Jorge Brenes, María Martínez and Alejandro Villalobos.

Volcanos put out sulfur and other potentially acidic chemicals.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 242

Measure to assess extra tax on corporations advances

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A proposal for a new tax that would assess corporations advanced Tuesday when the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios approved the measure with modifications.

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda is seeking $300 per corporation to pay for unspecified security measures. The executive branch has put the bill on its wish list for the current legislative session.

The bill is designed to go into force at the first of a year, so there is a chance that the measure will be pushed forward by the full legislature. That would require unusually quick action.

The committee Tuesday reduced the amount from $300 to $200, according to reports from the legislature. But the full
 legislature can make changes, including restoring the amount. The commission also sought to make some exemptions of smaller enterprises, although that may not be constitutional.

Expats are involved because even those who do not own a business usually have a car or a house owned by a corporation in which they hold the majority of the stock. The bill is No. 16306, which has been carried over from the previous legislature. The fee would be an annual assessment. It cannot be used as a tax deduction.

The committee also was supposed to discuss a bill that would regulate sportsbooks, casinos and games of chance. However, it was unclear if any action was taken.

Both bills face obstacles on the floor of the legislature, but Ms. Chinchilla's Partido Liberación Nacional can muster a favorable vote.

Whale study shows contaminants higher in the Galapagos

By the Texas Tech Office
of Communications and Marketing

A Texas Tech whale researcher said she and others found evidence of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and persistent organic pollutants, including the pesticide DDT, in Pacific Ocean-dwelling sperm whales.

But even more surprisingly, the whales living in or around waters near the Galapagos Islands – a U.N. marine reserve and considered pristine – showed higher levels of a contamination biomarker than whales from other areas of the world’s largest ocean, said Celine Godard-Codding. She is an assistant professor at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech and a lead investigator on the project.

The study was published online Monday ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

“Our findings provide a unique baseline for global assessment of pollution exposures and sensitivity in the sperm whale, a globally distributed and threatened species,” Ms. Godard-Codding said. “What was surprising was the higher level of the biomarker found in whales near the Galapagos Islands. We would not have expected the Galapagos to be the area where we’d find more, since it’s usually considered such a pristine area.”

The broad study provides a baseline for future research on ocean pollution and health, she said. Tissues from some of the whales from all five Pacific regions also were analyzed for DDT, the fungicide hexachlorobenzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and 30 types of polychlorinated biphenyls known to cause endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity.

From 1999 to 2001, the study authors biopsied skin and blubber from 234 male and female sperm whales in five locations across the Pacific Ocean, which included the Gulf of California, Mexico; the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; Pacific waters between the Galapagos Islands and Kiribati (Pacific Crossing); Kiribati; and Papua New Guinea.

Tissue samples from the whales were analyzed for expression of CYP1A1, an enzyme that metabolizes certain aromatic hydrocarbons. The more CYP1A1, the more likely the animal has been exposed to compounds such as those examined in this study.

CYP1A1 was highest in whales from the Galapagos
Whales on the move
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo
Researchers did not expect the Galapagos to be the area they would find more of the biomarker, since it is usually considered a pristine area.

Islands, second highest in those from the Gulf of California, and lowest in those from waters farthest from the continents (Kiribati and Pacific Crossing).

“Nothing of this scope has been done for an ocean-wide level,” Ms. Godard-Codding said. “That’s the exciting thing about this study. And that we could detect regional differences in the biomarker.”

The biomarker does not prove the animals came in contact with manmade contamination or industrial waste, she said. It reveals exposure to a compound whether it’s manmade, such as industrial combustion, or naturally produced, such as a volcano or forest fire. However, the enzyme does show the animals are coming in contact with compounds known to induce molecular changes.

Pollutants were found in all the samples, but levels of the pollutants measured did not correlate directly with levels of CYP1A1. However, the authors were unable to test for many types of pollutants because the small amounts of tissue allowed under standards for humane biopsying of marine mammals precluded extensive chemical analyses.

Ms. Godard-Codding said that sperm whales are important sentinels of ocean health. These carnivores are likely to accumulate and magnify fat-soluble pollutants because they are massive and long-lived. They can weigh up to 50 tons and live up to 70 years. Monitoring of sperm whales may also provide information on specific regions of the Pacific because females and juveniles tend to stay within a 600-mile range, she said.

New opinion page will feature readers' letters from archive

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

During the first year that A.M. Costa Rica was published, reader letters were printed on a special page. That gave less than adequate exposure to some interesting thoughts and ideas that readers have.

Since then, reader letters have been published on a news page, frequently Page 2. Although those pages were archived and the reader letters are available with a search, they are hard to locate.

So beginning Monday reader letters were archived in a news feed that appears on A.M. Costa Rica's new opinion page.
The page also is being constructed to provide room for the newspaper's opinion and outside opinion that is designed to promote discussion and thought.

Also on the page, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders launches a strong defense of Wikileaks, the Web site that is publishing the formerly confidential or secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Please find it HERE!

And those who wish to comment on the guest editorial or on any other aspect of Costa Rican life are invited to send their letters to:

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U.N.'s Ban makes big pitch
for climate change pact

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday made an impassioned plea for agreement at the United Nations climate change conference in Cancún, telling delegates that further delay threatened the health of the planet, the global economy and the well-being of the human race.

“I am deeply concerned that our efforts have been insufficient … that despite the evidence … and many years of negotiation … we are still not rising to the challenge,” Ban told the high-level segment of the conference, which began in the Mexican coastal city Nov. 29.

“We are here for a reason: to protect people and the planet from uncontrolled climate change. To do that, we need to make progress – in these global negotiations and through national actions each of you takes in your countries to curb emissions [of harmful gases] and increase resilience.

“The longer we delay, the more we will pay – economically … environmentally … and in human lives,” Ban said.

He recalled that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak within the next decade, before decreasing substantially, if the goal of limiting the average temperature rise to two degrees above pre-industrial levels is to be achieved.

The secretary general pointed out that a final agreement on all issues may not be immediately possible, but stressed that there has to be progress on several fronts at the Cancún conference.

“You can take significant decisions here in Cancún on forests … on adaptation … on technology … and on the creation of a new fund for long-term climate financing. You also need to make progress on mitigation … on anchoring your national commitments … on accountability and transparency … and increasing clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol,” he said.

Under the Kyoto Protocol to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, industrialized countries committed themselves to a reduction of greenhouse gases. The protocol expires in 2012 and a replacement arrangement is under negotiation.

Ban said that results can only be achieved through action by every country, emphasizing that the adverse effects of climate change on the planet will not wait for negotiations to be concluded.

“Science warns that the window of opportunity to prevent uncontrolled climate change will soon close. The world – particularly the poor and vulnerable – cannot afford the luxury of waiting for the perfect agreement. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” said Ban.

He highlighted some of the initiatives that the U.N. had embarked on to address climate change. They include the REDD Plus scheme, which seeks to create incentives to reverse the trend of deforestation and conserve forests’ carbon stocks, and the coalition of U.N. entities working with the private sector and governments to achieve universal energy access and significant cuts in energy intensity in the next two decades.

“My high-level advisory group on climate financing concluded that it is challenging but possible for developed countries to realize their goal of raising 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries. I encourage parties to use the group’s findings as inputs to your climate finance negotiations,” Ban said.

On climate change and the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals, Ban said that extreme poverty cannot be eradicated without addressing the rising intensity and unpredictability of weather trends associated with climate change.

“Now, more than ever, we need to connect the dots between climate … poverty ... energy … food … water.  These issues cannot be addressed in isolation,” he said.

He recalled the story of a teenage boy he met in Bangladesh who had survived the floods that inundated his village, as mud flows cascading down deforested land nearly washed away his home.

“As the flood waters retreated, cholera struck. He survived. Many did not,” said the secretary general.

While in Cancún, Ban has meetings with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, as well as with representatives of the African Union, the European Union, the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the United States.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 242

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highway being closed
Ministerio de Obras Pública y Transportes
Rendering shows how the center island might look.

Trees will be cut to give
space to widen roadway

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motorists will be detoured today and Thursday when a private firm cuts down trees along the San Francisco de Heredia-Río Segundo de Alajuela road. The location is between what is known locally as the Bomba de Cristo, a service station, and the Catholic church in San Francisco.

The work is designed to widen the highway so that it can be used as a detour itself when highway officials close the Autopista General Cañas from Dec. 26 for 10 weeks. The autopista job is to finally fix the metal covering on a bridge expansion joint that has become a national joke.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that the trees to be cut are old and infirm pines whose roots have damaged nearby sidewalks. They will be replaced by native species, including in an island that will be created between the lanes. The road will be widened to four lanes, the ministry said.

The tree cutting is only in an area about 250 meters long or about four blocks.

The work has been approved by the relevant environmental agencies, the ministry said. The work will be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The firm Constructora FCC is doing the job.

Show and sale downtown

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 26 artists are expected to show their works in the Feria del Deseño Artesanal on the pedestrian mall on the north side of Plaza de la Cultura starting today.

This is a holiday event that runs through Saturday and again next week from Wednesday to Saturday. The Municipalidad de San José, the sponsor, said the fair is supposed to promote artistic design in everyday pieces.

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Real estate
About us

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 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details