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(506) 2223-1327                     Published Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012,  in Vol. 12, No. 253                   Email us
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volcanoes
Graphic by the Facultad de Ciencias de la Tierra y el Mar, Universidad Nacional
The five clearly active volcanoes in Costa Rica.
Warmer world and melting ice seen as volcano trigger
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A warming climate is now considered a cause of increased volcano activity.

This unexpected connection comes from German and U.S. scientists who have been studying the seabed off Central America.

The scientists said that it has long been known that volcanic activity can cause short-term variations in climate, but now they have found evidence that the reverse process also occurs: Climate affects volcanic activity. The study is now online in the international journal "Geology."

The work is from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany and from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

When the ice melts, the Earth spews fire, said a summary.

"In times of global warming, the glaciers are melting on the continents relatively quickly," said Marion Jegen. "At the same time, the sea level rises. The weight on the continents decreases, while the weight on the oceanic tectonic plates increases. Thus, the stress changes within the earth to open more routes for ascending magma."  He is a participant in the study and from the Kiel center.

The Collaborative Research Centre in Kiel has conducted extensive research in Costa Rica and offshore. They have released reports on the highly active volcanoes on the Pacific.

This latest study also comes from offshore where drilling recovered core samples that covered some  460,000 years, and researchers were able to spot layers of volcanic ash.

"There were periods when we found significantly more large eruptions than in others" said Steffen Kutterolf, the lead author of the Geology article. He
was quoted in a Centre for Ocean Research summary of the research.

After comparing these patterns with the climate history, there was an amazing match, according to a center summary. The periods of high volcanic activity followed fast, global temperature increases and associated rapid ice melting, it said.

To expand the scope of the discoveries, Kutterolf and his colleagues studied other cores from the entire Pacific region, the center said. These cores had been collected as part of the International Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and its predecessor programs, and they record more than a million years of the Earth’s history, said the center. The drilling program has been the subject of a number of A.M. Costa Rica articles because some of the work is in the Pacific off this country's coast.

"In fact, we found the same pattern from these cores as in Central America" said Jegen, a geophysicist.

The rate of global cooling at the end of the warm phases is much slower, so there are less dramatic stress changes during these times, said the center summary.

"If you follow the natural climate cycles, we are currently at the end of a really warm phase. Therefore, things are volcanically quieter now. The impact from man-made warming is still unclear based on our current understanding" said Kutterolf in the center summary.

The Coco tectonic plate is forcing its way under the lighter Caribbean plate on which Costa Rica rides.

That is why the country is considered to be part of the Pacific ring of fire. Sea levels are predicted to rise dramatically over the next 100 years, and this is likely to put more pressure on the Coco plate.

Costa Rica has five clearly active volcanoes, but there are many others than could show activity because they have in the past.

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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
AmCham says news story
requires it to clarify its views


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

We would like to clarify the following affirmations made in your article entitled "Commerce minister paints optimistic picture of investment," published Dec 13, as we consider that such affirmations are imprecise and incorrectly attributed to AmCham:

“Additionally, the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce held a summit in October that focused on the theme that the government is standing in the way of Costa Rica becoming competitive for business. “ (A.M. Costa Rica)

“A spokesperson from the chamber noted that the data released by the coalition did not include how many businesses made steps to come to Costa Rica but ultimately chose to go elsewhere. (A.M. Costa Rica)

“The spokesperson also said that businesses that come to Costa Rica could have been successful, but they report that the government could do more to facilitate growth.” (A.M. Costa Rica)

AmCham´s position is the following:

AmCham´s Competitiveness Summit is an annual event that has been held for the last three years in a row. Its objective is to bring together the key players, both public and private, to discuss the issues that affect the country´s competitiveness and propose actions to address them.

Furthermore, although many companies consider Costa Rica as a potential location for their operation, some of them may not decide to establish operations in Costa Rica for various reasons.

In this regard, the press release from the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (named coalition in your article) is focused on the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment for 2012, and not on discussing the reasons why companies may or may not decide to come to Costa Rica.

Finally, please consider that AmCham cannot and does not make assumptions regarding the possible success of companies in Costa Rica. As part of the private sector, we work proactively in identifying improvement areas and proposing solutions to the public sector to improve the country´s competitiveness. This is one of the main objectives of our annual Competitiveness Summit.

Catherine Reuben
Executive Director
Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce®


There are many women
who are infamous killers


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

“Have you ever heard of a mass murder girl, a serial killer women, a bank robbing women? No, what’s the problem is boys or men.”

This was the opening paragraph in your letter from John Nutter, Calle Blancos, in yesterday's A.M. Costa Rica.

Prior to putting fingers to keyboard and hitting the send icon, a simple search would have shown that women have been mass murderers and serial killers throughout history and around the world. The following list are some of the more notorious.

Aileen Wuornos, Amelia Dyer, Amelia Sach, Amy Archer-Gilligan, Anna Maria Zwanziger, Anna Marie Hahn, Annie Walters, Belle Gunness, Beverly Allitt, Blanche Taylor Moore, Carol M. Bundy, Caroline Grills, Catherine Birnie, Charlene Gallego, Christine Malevre, Claremont Serial Killer, Dagmar Overbye, Daisy de Melker, Dana Sue Gray, Darya Saltykova, Delphine LaLaurie, Dorothea Puente, Elfriede Blauensteiner, Elizabeth Båthory, Faye Copeland, Francisca Ballesteros, Genene Jones,Gesche Gottfried, Gwendolyn Graham, Helene Jegado, Irene Leidolf, Jane Toppan, Janie Lou Gibbs, Jeanne Weber, Juana Barraza, Junko Ogata, Karla Homolka, Kathleen Folbigg, Kristen Gilbert, Leonarda Cianciulli, Locusta, Lucia de Berk, Maria Swanenburg, Marianne Nolle, Marie Fikackova, Marie Noe, Marquise de Marie-Madeleine-Marguerite d’Aubray, Martha Ann Johnson, Marti Enriqueta, Mary Ann Cotton, Marybeth Tinning, Miyuki Ishidawa, Myra Hindley, Nannie Doss, Rhonda Belle Martin, Rosemary West, Sakina, Sophie Charlotte Elisabeth Ursinus, Susan Carson, Theresa Knorr, Tillie Klimek, Vera Renczi, Waneta Hoyt.

And, not to ignore the women bank robbers, has Mr. Nutter never heard of “BONNIE and Clyde”? I won’t comment on the rest of his submission.
Larry Worsham
Bakersfield, California
Formerly of Tres Equis de Turrialba
 
 
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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Members of the new unit inspect the items that were donated. The members of the unit will be charged with forcing their way into areas that have been cut off by natural disasters and bringing humanitarian aid. They also may have to escort residents elsewhere.

helmets
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo

New Guardacosta unit will deliver humanitarian assistance
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Security officials announced Wednesday that they have created a new humanitarian aid unit that will be part of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas.

The U.S. Embassy in San José gave part of a donation valued at $11,500, which consists of supplies and equipment to the 30-person unit, according to a press release.

A ministry spokesperson said that the Unidad de Ayuda Humanitaria will be in charge of delivering supplies and assistance to communities on the coast that have been cut off by natural disasters.

The unit will be made up of 30 coast guard officers that are trained in emergency medical care, according to the press release.
Officials said that this group will help in search and rescue operations in addition to their primary function of responding to coastal communities in disasters.

The Guardacosta is an agency within the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguirdad Pública.

The U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Southern Command made a donation jointly. According to the press release, that donation largely consists of equipment like helmets, gloves, lights, axes and machetes.

Officials waited to announce the project until the unit was ready to be put into action, according to the spokesperson.

He added that they will be working on both coasts, but he did not specify if the unit will be split up so they can be stationed on both coasts.


Here's what's open and what's closed for the Christmas holidays
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is a list of what is open and what is closed for the holidays.

Museo de Jade
The country's jade museum will be closed from Sunday to Jan. 2.  For more information call 2287-6034.

Poder Judicial
The administrative offices of Poder Judicial will be closed from Friday to Jan. 7.  All other offices will be open during this time with the exception of Christmas, which is Tuesday, and New Year's Day, Jan. 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  However, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve the offices will only open in the mornings.  These offices include Juzgado de Pensiones Alimentarias, Tribunal Penal, Juzgados de Calle Blancos y San Jose, Juzgados Penal Juvenil, Juzgado Contravencional, Juzgado Violencia Domestica, Regristro Judicial, Fiscalia Judicial, Defensoria Publica and the Sala Constitucional.  Sala Constitucional will only receive complaints to the Sala IV.  For more information, call 2295-4942.

Municipalidad de San José
The administrative offices for the San José municipality will be closed from Friday to Jan. 7.  Special sections such as business licensing, construction, Policia Municipal, cobros, cemetery services, street cleaning and park guards will only close Christmas and New Year's Day.   For more information, call 2547-6000.

Municipalidad de Escazú
The Escazú municipality will be closed from Friday to Jan. 6.  For more information, call 2208-7500.

Municipalidad de Curridabat
The Curridabat municipality will close on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and Jan. 1.  For more information, call 2272-0126.

Municipalidad de Liberia, Guanacaste
The Liberia municipality will be closed from noon Friday until Jan. 7.  For more information, call 2266-0169. 

Municipalidad de Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz municipality will be closed from Christmas Eve, Monday, to Jan. 7.  For more information, call  2680-0101.

Municipalidad de Carrillo, Guanacaste
The Carrillo municipality in Guanacaste will be closed from Christmas Eve, Monday, to Jan. 7.  For more information, call 2688-8039.

Municipalidad de Montes de Oca (including San Pedro)
The Montes de Oca municipality will close Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's day.  For more information, call 2280-5589.

Banco Nacional
Banco Nacional will be closed Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's day.  The Desamparados branch will be closed Dec. 27 for the carnival in that canton.  For more information, call 2212-2000.
Instituto Nacional de Seguros
The Instituto Nacional de Seguros will be closed from Saturday until New Year's Day.  Health services will be closed New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.  However the services for Casa de Salud and call centers will not close.  Services will return to the regular hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 2.

U.S. Embassy
The American Embassy will close Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Day.  For the rest of the holiday season the embassy will be open its regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Farmacia Sucre
Farmacia Sucre will be closed Christmas and New Year's day. The rest of the holiday season the pharmacy will follow its normal schedule of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Walmart
Walmart will not close for the holidays but will have special hours.  Christmas Eve, Monday, it will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m, and Christmas it will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., From Wednesday to Dec. 30, the store will operate its normal hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Finally on New Year's Eve, the store will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m and on New Year's Day the store will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Multiplaza
The Centro Comercial Multiplaza Escazú will be open daily from the hours 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. until Saturday.  Christmas Eve, Monday, Multiplaza will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  It will be closed on Christmas Day, Tuesday, and New Year's Day.  On New Year's Eve the Multiplaza will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad
The 112 agencies of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad will have normal hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except that they will be closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Another exception is the the agency in Sabana Norte will be closed from Friday to Jan. 7. Agencies in commercial centers, such as Centro Comercial Multiplaza Escazú will be open during the times established by the mall management. The bulk of the telephone services like international calls, electrical outages and other services will be in operation 24 hours a day.

Episcopal Parish of The Good Shepherd
Anglican/Episcopal services:
Sunday, Fourth Sunday of Advent, English 8:30 a.m. and
         Español 11a.m.
Monday, Christmas Eve. Bilingual 6 p.m. with pagent
         presented by the children of the Sunday School.
Christmas Day. 9 a.m. English and Español 9 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 30, first Sunday of Christmas: English 8:30 a.m.
         and Español 11 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 31, New Year's Eve: Bilingual 6 p.m.
The Church of the Good Shepherd is on Avenida 4 between calles 3 and 5 opposite the Colegio Superior de Señoritas. Further information is available via e-mail to pbuenpastor@hotmail.com or by calling 2222-1560.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
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Home invaders beat and tie up three men in Bello Horizonte
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A group of robbers invaded a home in Bello Horizonte de Escazú Tuesday night and attack three men who were there.

The three men were beaten, gagged and left lying on the floor while the robbers pillaged the house, said a bulletin from the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The attack began at 11:50 p.m. Tuesday night according to the bulletin, while the three victims were playing a game of table soccer.

It is not clear if the robbers broke into the home or if the door  was unlocked, but the report said that the men entered violently wearing scarves with masked faces.
Officials said the intruders threatened to shoot the victims if they resisted, but they did not report if the victims actually saw the guns.

A judicial spokesperson would not identify the victims or specify where the home is in Bello Horizonte. She did say that witnesses were not able to clearly remember how many suspects took part in the robbery.

The press release said that the robbers left the home with several flat screen television sets, several cell phones, cash, jewelry, a safe and other items that were not specifically mentioned.

Bello Horizonte is a relatively upscale section of Escazú populated by many expats. But the judicial spokesperson said the victims were all Costa Ricans.


High court says tennis pro is employee and socks club $22,000
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The high labor court has upheld a money judgment against a tennis club because justices considered a sports professional who gave classes there to be an employee. The decision is instructive to expats who may hire part-time labor or provide space for third parties to work.

The decision awarded the tennis pro 11 million colons (about $22,000), and the Sala Segunda ordered that the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social be notified of the labor relationship.

The tennis pro gave classes on the club's court, but he collected the money from students himself and did not share any with the club, according to the decision. The decision identified the tennis pro by the initials RGB. The club was identified by the initials of CRTCSA, which stand for Costa Rica Tennis Club S.A., a Sabana Sur fixture.

The pro filed the case in 2007. He sought back overtime, notice, vacation pay, aguinaldo, the Christmas bonus, interest and damages.

A trial court awarded the tennis pro 25 million colons. An appeals court upheld the sentence, so the tennis club appealed to the Sala Segunda, part of the Corte Suprema de Justicia.

The club argued that it received no money from the work of the tennis pro and that he provided his own tools, that is
rackets and balls. The man worked from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. giving classes to youngsters and the rest of the time to adults, all members of the club, said the decision, citing testimony. Remuneration, subordination or control and providing tools are usually considered hallmarks of a labor agreement.

The court decided that the pro was subject to subordination or control because he had to present a list of times each week to the club official in charge of assigning tennis court space. He also had to present a monthly plan to the management, it said. And he sometimes had to attend meetings.

The pro also was told how much to charge for his services, something the court said was inconceivable for professional services. The pro also had to follow other rules, such as wearing a uniform and not using a cell telephone while on the tennis court, the decision said.

The man gave classes at the club for nearly seven years. The five judges attributed to the man a monthly salary of 500,000 colons. a bit more than $1,000. At that rate the justices awarded him two week vacation a year plus other benefits.

The Caja most likely will seek its share of social charges from the salaries estimated by the court.

The decision is the latest in a series by labor courts that seem to favor strongly independent contractors who later decide they really were employees and seek back pay and benefits for their customers.


Wednesday
A.M. Costa Rica
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36,239 pages
to readers
around the world

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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Medical
                vacations in Costa Rica

Trio head to space station
on Russian-made rocket

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Russian-built Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome Wednesday, bound for the International Space Station.
 
On board are Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, U.S. astronaut Tom Mashburn and Canadian space agency flight engineer Chris Hadfield, who will eventually command the space station.
 
The Soyuz craft, is due to dock with the space station Friday.
 
Anatoly Rydakov, head of joint calculations for the launch, said sub-freezing temperatures along the Kazakh steppe didn't compromise launch operations.
 
"The launch complex can take temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius to as low as 40 degrees below zero," he said on Russian State television, describing conditions as comfortable for a launch.
 
The crew will join three others at the orbiting station, including U.S. astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin, who have been managing the $100-billion research center since October. The new crew will spend the next five months on board the space station performing two spacewalks and working on experiments in the orbiting laboratory.
 
Wednesday’s successful launch is a plus for Russia’s space program, which has recently seen a number of mishaps.


2012 economic was mixed,
and key factors still in air


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On the economic front, 2012 was a mixed year of cautious growth, surprises and setbacks.  It was also a year of politics and global tumult, a time to deal with unresolved issues and ideological positions.

In the United States, the jobless rate has declined to a 4-year low, the housing market has stabilized, and financial markets are flush with cash.
  
But as 2012 comes to a close, there is unanimous agreement that the recovery has not been as strong as everyone had hoped.

The U.S. is not alone.  In the rush to fix broken economies, conservative economist Richard Rahn says governments around the world continue to spend more than they take in. "If countries had only been spending within their means in keeping spending growing no faster than the rate of economic growth, we wouldn't have the global economic mess," he said.

Others argue the math is not that simple.

Case in point, Greece, where tough austerity measures, pre-conditions for a second bailout, have produced a deep recession that economist Desmond Lachman says threatens the currency union. "Because what we're doing is, we're really applying very stringent austerity measures. The IMF concedes that the austerity hasn't been working, yet the Europeans are persisting in the same kind of austerity that got them into trouble in 2012, so something's got to give," Lachman explained, using initials for the International Monetary Fund.

But concessions will not be easy, especially in Washington.

Despite weeks of intense negotiations, the White House and Congress have yet to reach a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff.

The term refers to the combined economic shock of deep spending cuts and automatic tax hikes starting Jan. 1.  Without a compromise on ways to reduce the nation's $16 trillion debt, experts say a recession is likely.  The problem is not the U.S. economy but a broken political system, says fiscal reform advocate Robert Bixby.  "Political dysfunction in this country is a bigger threat than economic dysfunction," he said.

Given the inter-connected nature of commerce, a shock to the world's largest economy would have ripple effects.  Bruce Stokes is an economist at the Pew Research Center. "There's an old saying that if we get the sniffles, the rest of the world gets a cold and so if we end up going to a recession as well, I think everybody is going to suffer,"

Despite recent progress in Europe, the monetary fund trimmed its global forecast in 2013, citing slower growth in emerging markets. 


Former dictator's daughter
wins presidency in Korea


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Conservative Saenuri Party candidate Park Geun-hye has made history by winning South Korea's presidential election, becoming the country's first female president-elect after defeating liberal rival Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party by several percentage points.
 
Interacting briefly with several media representatives on a large open-air stage in downtown Seoul, the five-term lawmaker and daughter of a former dictator vowed to fulfill every promise she made during the campaign.
 
By keeping everyone's support and trust in mind, Park said she "will definitely open an era of peoples' happiness in which everyone can enjoy some simple pleasures and their dreams can come true."

Park Geun-hye is the daughter of late South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee.

After being handed a bouquet of flowers, Ms. Park left the stage to the cheers of her supporters. She gave no formal victory speech.
 
At a subdued Democratic United Party headquarters in another part of the capital, Moon Jae-in conceded. Apologizing to supporters, he called the defeat his failure, "not a failure of the people who hoped for new politics," and then offered his congratulations to the new president-elect.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 253
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Latin America news
Annual cruise season
begins as first ship arrives


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Policía Turística y el Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas are stepping up security in Limón now that the first cruise ship of the season has arrived at the docks there.

The cruise season usually lasts until May when warmth returned to the northern part of the hemisphere.

Last year, the country hosted 253 cruise ships, and some 117 are scheduled for the first part of next year, tourism police said.

Officers have been visiting hotels and other places frequented by tourists and handing out informational bulletins with security information, they said.

The cruise ship tourists may only have a day or so in port, but they are a major economic force in Limón and on the Pacific coast. Typically passengers take tours and many even take buses to San José to view the sights there.

Estimates are that some 270,000 tourists come each year on cruise ships.


Two pairs of armed robbers
stick up drivers and store


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two pairs of armed robbers knocked over an armored truck transporting cash and a cell phone store around San José Wednesday, according to reports from the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Agents said that the crooks who robbed the store took off with about $4,000 worth of merchandise.

Meanwhile the robbers of the armored truck only got 70,000 colons, or about $140, and one of them is believed to be wounded, investigators said.

Both robberies took place just before noon, officials said.

According to a judicial bulletin, the armored car robbery took place outside of a small grocery store in La Mora in Ipis de Guadalupe. Agents said that the two men responsible for the truck were delivering coffee into that store when two armed men intercepted them with guns and stripped them of the 70,000 they were carrying.

As the robbers fled, another truck from the same company arrived, and the driver attempted to intervene. The details of that confrontation and whether it was a short shootout were not made clear, but the report said that one of the robbers was wounded before both fled.

At around the same time, another pair of robbers arrived at a cell phone store in Curridabat.

According to another bulletin, this store was equipped with a lock that employees can manage with a button inside the store.

Agents said that one of the robbers posed as a customer to get around this lock, holding a cell phone service receipt up to the window to gain entry. Once the employees unlocked the door, a second man with a gun in hand also burst into the store with the first man and threatened the employees if they tried to intervene, the bulletin said.

The robbers then collected cell phones and other merchandise that is valued at about $4,000 before escaping in what witnesses identified as a luxurious, black vehicle that was waiting outside, agents said.

Robbers posing as customers while another lies in wait has become a strategy for entering stores with these security features such as the lock that is opened by employees inside the store. Judicial agents reported a similar case in November in which a jewelry store in Alajuela lost about $44,000.







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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 253
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statue
National Archived photo 
This is a photo taken when the statue was in the U.S. in 1948

Intriguing Michelangelo work in D.C.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Michelangelo is known worldwide as the great Italian Renaissance sculptor.  Now, one of his more intriguing works is on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which has no other Michelangelo in its collection. 
 
The white marble sculpture is graceful with curves.  One knee is bent and the torso is twisted into what the Italians call serpentinata or "serpentine."  Michelangelo’s mastery of sculpture makes the pose looks natural, fluid and easy.  But that is not the case when gallery visitors try to mimic it. 
 
Like many Michelangelos the sculpture appears unfinished.  Andrew Cary was mesmerized by the chisel marks.
 
“I am struck by the contrast between the harsh surface of the stone and the fleshy parts of the sculpture that just look soft somehow, even though it is stone," he said.
 
Mary Beth Vaughn stared at its natural grace. “I think he is beautiful," she said.
 
But no one knows who "he" really is.  The clue is in the rear, in a rough chiseled rectangular form on the subject’s back.  Was it to be the sling that David used to kill Goliath?  Or a quiver of arrows for the sun god Apollo? 
 
Darcey Kuhn just returned from a two-week vacation in Italy.
 
“I think it is more like David, in my opinion, having seen a lot of Apollos.  It was not just Michelangelo Apollos," she said.
 
David-Apollo has visited the United States before.  Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero explains the statue was at the National Gallery of Art in 1949 during the inauguration of President Harry S. Truman. 
 
"It was meant to thank the United States for the great support during the war, but also after the war, in the rebuilding of Italy after the destruction of that time," he said.
 
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi marked the David-Apollo’s return to Washington, and with it the start of the Year of Italian Culture in the United States.
 
"In 1949, almost 800,000 visitors enjoyed Michelangelo's unforgettable marble masterpiece.  I know that, over the next few months, we will certainly reach that number," he said.
 
The David-Apollo stands in a round room by itself.  Gallery visitors circle the sculpture, inspecting it from all sides, appreciating Michelangelo's skill.  But how many know his last name?
 
Michelangelo Buonarroti created the David-Apollo.  It stays in Washington until March.


25 films of importance picked for 2012

By the Library of Congress news staff

The excitement of national football, the first black star of an American feature-length film, the visionary battle between man and machine and an award-winning actress born yesterday are part of a kaleidoscope of cinematic moments captured on film and tapped for preservation.

The librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, has named 25 motion pictures that have been selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. These cinematic treasures represent important cultural, artistic and historic achievements in film making, the library said.

"Established by Congress in 1989, the National Film Registry spotlights the importance of preserving America’s unparalleled film heritage," said Billington. "These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation."

Spanning the period 1897 to 1999, the films named to the registry include Hollywood classics, documentaries, early films, and independent and experimental motion pictures. This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 600.

The films include such movie classics as "Born Yesterday," featuring Judy Holliday’s Academy Award-winning performance, and Truman Capote’s "Breakfast at Tiffany’s," starring Audrey Hepburn.

Among the documentaries named to the registry are "The Times of Harvey Milk," a revealing portrait of San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official; "One Survivor Remembers," an Academy Award-winning documentary short about Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein; and Ellen Bruno’s documentary about the struggle of the Cambodian people to rebuild in the aftermath of Pol Pot’s killing fields.

The creative diversity of American filmmakers is evident in the selections of independent and experimental films, which include Nathaniel Dorsky’s "Hours for Jerome," Richard Linklater’s "Slacker" and the Kodachrome Color Motion Picture Test film of 1922.

Among the cinema firsts are "They Call It Pro Football," which has been described as the "Citizen Kane" of sports movies; and the 1914 version of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin," which features the first black actor to star in a feature-length American film. The actor, Sam Lucas, made theatrical history when he also appeared in the lead role in the stage production of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" in 1878.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant. The films must be at least 10 years old. The librarian makes the annual selections to the registry after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board.  The public is urged to make nominations for next year’s registry at the board’s Web site (www.loc.gov/film/), the library said.

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the library’s motion picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings

The Packard Campus is home to more than 6 million collection items. It provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board, the National Recording Preservation Board and the National Registries for film and recorded sound.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution.  www.loc.gov.
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