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(506) 2223-1327                     Published Friday, Dec. 21, 2012,  in Vol. 12, No. 254                   Email us
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Nation's coffee producers struggle with rust disease
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican coffee farmers are dealing with many issues this harvest season, including the roya blight.

Roya del cafe, translated in English to "coffee rust," is a fungus that forms yellow-orange dusty patches on the underside of the leaves.   This causes the coffee plant to lose its leaves, eventually killing the whole plant, said Ronald Peters, executive director for the Instituto del Café de Costa Rica.

The disease first appeared in parts of Brazil and then moved to other parts of Central and South America.  The Consejo Nacional del Café released a report on its Web site that said that Nicaragua will lose up to 300,000 quintals of coffee this year to the disease. A quintal is 46 kilos or about 101.5 pounds.

In Costa Rica, the majority of the effects have been felt in the Brunca Region in the southwest.

According to Peters, this is not the only thing agriculturist must overcome.  The climate this year has been dangerous to plant production.

Basically there have been high temperatures and less rain, he said.

All this combined is creating a loss of crops.  No exact figures are out, but Peters said as much as 30,000 hectares have been lost.

Currently the coffee institute and the Ministerio de
Coffee
                        rust
Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore photo
 An example of the rust blotches on a coffee plant
 leaf.


Agricultura y Ganadería are working to create a  commission.  This commission is to  make a plan of action to combat the factors destroying coffee plantations.

Together the organizations will find the best solutions, said Peters. The commission should be formed in the beginning of next year, he said.

In addition to the weather and the disease, coffee producers also are struggling with low international prices due to higher supplies of the beans from elsewhere.

The rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, is spread by the wind and rain. The fungus became known in Africa in the 19th century but did not reach the Americas until about 1970.


Business chamber expresses concern over power hike
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The chamber that represents businesses has expressed its unhappiness with a decision to raise electrical rates again. The rates have doubled over the last five years for homes and businesses alike, said the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado.

The nation's regulating agency has approved increases for five electrical distributors, including the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, the major electrical firm in the Central Valley. Also getting hikes were the Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia and cooperatives in Guanacaste, Alfaro Ruiz and San Carlos.

The hikes range from 1.44 to 3.62 percent, said the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos. The increases were expected because in November the regulating agency authorized a 7 percent hike in generating rates for the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. The distributing firms buy the power
from the state agency known as ICE.

The business chamber said it was very concerned by the constant increases in prices of electricity and in the methodology used by the regulating agency to apply the increases. The hikes are damaging the buying power of Costa Ricans, it said.

Jaime Molina, chamber president, suggested two alternatives. One is more reliance on renewable energy sources. These include wind and geothermal generating. He also suggested that a pending legal change would let private firms generate power at a competitive price. In fact, there have been some reports that private power may be as much as 30 percent the cost of power generated by ICE.

In addition, during the dry season, ICE is forced to use petroleum-fired generators but the petroleum has to be imported. President Laura Chinchilla opposes exploration for petroleum by a U.S. firm in the northern zone where there is potential for that and natural gas.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 254
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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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Gasoline octane found
to be lower than needed


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats who noticed their vehicles struggling lately might wait awhile before taking it to a mechanic. The problem could be the gasoline.

The Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos said Thursday that tests it authorized at the national gasoline monopoly showed serious differences in octane.

At the Moín facility of the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo the regular gasoline had an octane rating of 72 when the normal is 88, the agency said. Tests were carried out by the Centro de Electroquímica y Energía Química at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

The agency said its inspectors also found problems with the temperatures in the petroleum distillation process. In addition there was sediment in both regular or plus gasoline and super, it said. That was obvious because the fluid had a different color, said the agency.

The Authoridad noted that lower octane as well as sediment can cause malfunctions and possible damage in vehicle motors.

The refinery was given 24 hours to correct the situation, said the Authoridad.

The regulating agency has been carrying out inspections at the refinery plants and at service stations for 12 years.


Six held as anti-drug agents
act against international ring

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents arrested six men Wednesday afternoon in connection to an ongoing international drug trafficking case.

According to a bulletin from the Judicial Investigating Organization, agents also raided the suspects' homes and a warehouse Thursday morning where they seized six vehicles and three guns, in addition to the two vehicles and two guns they took Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators connected these men to the case of a 40-year-old man who was arrested Tuesday while driving a truck containing more than 300 kilograms of cocaine.

According to the bulletin, investigators have been building a case on these men who seem to have formed a fairly new drug trade organization. Investigators have connected them with various drug trafficking groups in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador and to a seizure of cocaine in a shipment near Tortuguero in September.

The bulletin said that these men were responsible for picking up cocaine shipments coming into the country from Panamá and South America by land and sea and depositing them at an ice-maker firm in a warehouse located in Cuajiniquil. From there, the drugs were loaded on a boat destined for El Salvador, agents said.

Agents learned how the drugs would be transported Tuesday afternoon, and stopped the first suspect driving a red Isuzu vehicle carrying 317 kilograms of cocaine along Ruta 27. This vehicle contained hidden compartments as well as some of the tools necessary to make those compartments, officials said.

The next narcotics investigators caught the other six suspects one by one Wednesday between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. on public streets in Alajuela and Heredia, the bulletin said. In these operations, agents confiscated two cars and two guns.

The bulletin went on that on Thursday agents raided three of the suspects' homes in San José as well as another home and the building containing the ice-making firm in Cuajiniquil. In these raids, agents seized five cars, a truck and three guns.

Laws state that the government may take possession of all of a suspected drug trafficker's property, and once he or she is convicted, auction it off to the public using the proceeds for various anti-drug campaigns.


 Measure exempting tips
passes again in legislature


 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As expected, lawmakers have passed on second and final reading and sent to President Laura Chinchilla a measure that would exempt the obligatory restaurant tip from income tax. The proposed law seeks to override a Sala IV constitutional court decision in 2009 that said the tips were taxable.

Waiters, waitresses and restaurant operators said that this would be an economic blow, in part because the operators would have to pay a Christmas bonus and monthly social charges on the tips.
 
 
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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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 254
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Baptist Church


Bus stop
brush blaze

Officials have expressed concern about forest fires, but city lots also are dry. This one is just north of Parque Nacional where a blaze broke out Thursday afternoon. The section is near the Heredia railroad tracks and a major bus stop. Fire fighters extinguished the blaze without apparent damage. But there will be more.
bus
                stop fire
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson


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.

Banco de Costa Rica
Bank employees will work Christmas Eve until 4 p.m. Normal hours will be maintained from Wednesday to Dec. 29. The bank will be closed Tuesday, Christmas Day, and Dec, 31 and Jan. 1.

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.
A.M. Costa Rica
The country's most successful English-language newspaper will publish every day except Christmas and New Year's Day and will update readers on the Web site and by email in case of emergencies. The Barrio Otoya offices will be closed to the public today at 4 p.m. and will reopen Jan. 2. In case of emergencies, the number 8832-5564 will be available the entire vacation.

Despite the office being closed, advertising will be accepted as well as news items and tips. All emails will be monitored, but the preferred address is editor@amcostarica.com.

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.

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 pageant
         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.

International Baptist Church
The Guachipelín, Escazú, church will hold at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve candlelight Service and a concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 31.


The urban excesses continue to crowd in near la Sabana
It is almost impossible to write a happy holiday column in the present world situation, especially with what has occurred in my native country of the United States.  President Obama is right when he says they must put an end to the culture of violence.  Can you have a culture of nonviolence at home when there is a response of war as a solution to problems with others?

Like Candide, my personal solution seems to be to cultivate my own little garden or, in my case, my own urban neighborhood.

But, truth be told, I am not happy with much that is happening in my neighborhood. The stadium has brought an invasion of cheering crowds and traffic jams.  Cheering crowds are no fun unless you are part of them.  Traffic jams are no fun, period.  Now, four blocks from my nice, large picture windows that look towards the mountains, I can see one of those towers that I assume enables us all to have cell phones.  It looks like it has tambourines hanging on its side.  And I am aware in my bedroom of a new humming sound.  My Chicken Little brain has decided it must be the lethal waves from the tower falling on my head. My Dr. Pangloss side says, “Don’t be silly, just keep whistling in this best-of-all-possible worlds.”

Then, not far from this structure, going up is a huge apartment building, four blocks from me and smack up against some of the handsomest homes and buildings in the neighborhood.  I am told the new building will reach 18 stories. It only blocks my view of the mountains, but it has to block the breathing space of its surrounding neighbors.

To my mind, it is a lousy location for a huge apartment building that will house hundreds of people, all of whom will want cars in order to get out of there, and then they will find the street along la Sabana (Avenida de los Americas), blocked off every time something goes on at the stadium.  I don’t think there is another exit from that cul de sac.  It makes the Nancy Drew inside of me think that maybe the builders are not really interested in filling those apartments.  The Walter Mitty in me is happy to just imagine myself as a fearless private eye creeping around the place at night.  My Inspector Clouseau propensities would have me falling down an empty  elevator shaft.  That is all happening on the north side of my apartment.
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart


As the Fritz Schumacher in me emerges, I look out my office window facing south.  Happier things are appearing on the south side.  The tiniest restaurant in the city has just opened down the street. It is not a soda, of which there are many small ones in Costa Rica.  This is an Italian bistro, if you will, not as big as my office — probably eight feet square -- with six tiny tables and twice as many little cushioned stools.  It is called Il Dolce.  The menu is fittingly small, too, no book-long offerings that takes your whole lunch hour to read.  Il Dolce serves spaghetti with the choice of bolognesa or a béchamel sauce and lasagna with carne or pollo, or vegetables.  Their ejecutivo is 2,500 colons and includes salad and a drink.

The one suggestion I would make is that they toss the salad Italian style with olive oil and vinegar before serving.

They are open those killer hours that many new restaurants start with, Sunday to Friday from early morning until 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 until 3:30.  All of this is done in a space about nine feet square, charmingly designed by, I believe, Franco’s mother.

The owner/chef Franco Cersosimo Keith and his helper, Claudia Calderón, are both unreasonably cheerful in the face of their daunting hours and their chances of surviving, given the statistics for restaurants.

So, if you are a small-is-beautiful aficionado, and on your list of things to do is visit the small restaurants in Costa Rica, you might try Il Dolce.  I had the lasagna with chicken thinking I would never eat the large portion I was served, but I did. Then my companion and I shared a chocolate tiramisu.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 254
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Expats mostly immune from U.S. fiscal cuts, expert says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Although expats here can be involved spectators of the financial hijinks in Washington, D.C., few will actually be affected directly by the so-called fiscal cliff.

At least that is the view of David G. Housman, a lawyer and certified public accountant in Cuidad Cariari.

"I believe that if the budget cuts are enacted, it would have almost no effect on us expats, primarily because while we are taxpayers, we receive disproportionately few benefits, a continuing complaint among the U.S. community here," he said.

The fiscal cliff is a term that 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 dollar debt, experts say a U.S. recession is likely. 

The situation got even worse Thursday when the speaker of the U.S. House, John Boehner, suffered a major setback in his showdown over taxes and spending with President Barack Obama.  The speaker unexpectedly failed to get the votes he needed from his own Republican lawmakers to hold a vote on a tax bill he had proposed as an alternative to the tax and spending bill put forward by Obama. Thursday's developments have thrown efforts to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff even more into chaos.

Housman notes that the most important U.S. government benefit for expats here is Social Security, and that is not likely to be touched. The same goes for Medicare, he added.

Social Security is a sacred cow despite all the innuendoes to the contrary, he said, noting that the huge voting bloc of beneficiaries and close-to-being-beneficiaries will not allow cuts to happen. As for Medicare, another prime and legitimate gripe for expats here, there is no effect, he said.

As most U.S. expats know, even if they pay for Medicare, they cannot receive benefits outside the United States.

"From an income tax standpoint, the number of U.S. taxpayers in Costa Rica with a reportable income over $250,000, would surprise me to be over 100. And almost everyone in that small group has sufficient income to absorb the tax increase," said Housman.

U.S. Senate Democrats have already passed a bill that would raise taxes on incomes higher than $250,000, and they say that is the bill they want from Boehner. The House speaker is holding out for a $1 million threshold.

"As of now, there has been no selling stampede in the stock market which would happen if any major changes on capital gain taxation would be in the offing," said Housman. "This is a very strong indication that the capital gains and dividend taxation will not be changed." Nor would the current law that exempts from capital gains the first $250,000 on a principal residence or the first $500,000 for married taxpayers, he said. No change to that has been considered, he noted.
fiscal cliff
Whoooopse!

There was high drama on Capitol Hill Thursday night, as Boehner tried to push through his own alternative tax cut and spending cuts bill.  Boehner's spending cuts bill passed by a narrow majority, but he suddenly withdrew plans for a vote on his tax cut bill, citing a lack of support.  His tax bill would have raised taxes only on the annual incomes of those earning more than $1 million a year.  Boehner left the Capitol without talking to reporters,

Analysts say the tax cut bill would have been symbolic anyway, because Senate Democrats had made clear they would not even bring the measure up for debate.  Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Boehner's bills are going nowhere.

Negotiations between Boehner and the president have been suspended for several days.  Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor indicated late Thursday that there will be no more votes in the House until after the Christmas holiday.

Before Thursday's developments, President Obama had rejected Boehner's bills and called on him to come back to the negotiating table before time runs out.

Throughout the long debate on taxes and spending, Democrats have insisted on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and Republicans have insisted on significant cuts to social programs that Democrats hold dear. Now, with the Christmas holiday and the end of the year approaching, there is no clear path forward for a compromise. 

Economists have said the combination of massive tax increases and spending cuts could throw the U.S. economy back into recession.



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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 254
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Federal weapons task force
meets for the first time


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. federal gun violence task force formed in response to the Connecticut school massacre met for the first time Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden leading a group of government agency chiefs seeking solutions to gun violence.

The meeting in Washington included Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services chief Kathleen Sebelius, along with state law enforcement officials.

Biden opened the meeting by repeating President Obama's determination to find solutions drawn from the mental health and education communities and from legal experts addressing the constitutional right of Americans to bear arms.

The president said he will act without delay on task force recommendations.

The task force was formed just days after a 20-year-old gunman, armed with semi-automatic pistols, barged into an elementary school Dec. 14 and shot dead 26 people, 20 children and six adults. Earlier, he apparently shot and killed his mother at her house.

The Newtown, Connecticut killings reignited a national debate that analysts say provides an unprecedented opportunity to find remedies to mass killings by gunmen with access to assault weapons.


Movies, bloody video games
studied as violence triggers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Many say the availability of guns is not the only factor that could trigger a deadly act. Though the industry disputes it, some experts say films glorifying violence and video games rewarding death can be equally lethal, especially in the
hands of people with mental health issues.

When Chris Nolan’s film "The Dark Knight Rises" came out in July, the on-screen death and destruction served as the backdrop to a mass shooting during its premiere in Aurora, Colorado. The killer, 24-year-old James Holmes, had dyed his hair red to resemble the Batman character The Joker. Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58.

The U.S. has the highest gun ownership rate in the world,
murder
                        suspect Holmes
Holmes
89 weapons per 100 people. Despite the high number of guns, because of its large population, the U.S. does not have the worst firearms murder rate. Four of the five countries with the highest rates are in Latin America. The top rates on murders per 100,000 people are Honduras, 69; El Salvador. 40; Jamaica, 39; Venezuela, 39, and Guatemala, 35.

The United States ranks 28th, with a rate of 3 per 100,000 people. However, the United States also ranks high on deaths attributed to guns, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2010 survey. The agency said that 9,146 persons were killed by firearms in the United States is 2010. That put the country in fifth place behind Brazil with 34,678, Colombia with 12, 539, México with 11,309 and Venezuela with 11.115. The difference is that the gun deaths include suicides, shootings by police and victims as well as accidents.
 
The Hollywood premiere this week of Quentin Tarantino’s bloody western "Django Unchained" was canceled out of respect for those killed in Connecticut, though the movie will be released. 

Criminal defense attorney Rene Sandler said on-screen gunfights can inspire real-life shootings.

“The perpetrator becomes a character, takes on the persona of an aggressive, violent individual or superhero, and in Aurora it’s a perfect example of just that,” she said.

But Ms. Sandler said, even more than films, violent video games are at the core of brutal behavior, and she said they should be regulated.

“I have seen clients who have engaged in that interactive video experience where they are killing, where they are using guns, where they are gaining points and winning given the more bodies that they amass. In this country we can ban sugary drinks for children because it’s unhealthy. We have done nothing to stop violent video games for children and adults,” she said.

Ms. Sandler said on-screen violence itself is not dangerous. But it can be weaponized in the hands of people with mental issues.

Law enforcement authorities in the Connecticut shooting have said very little about the 20-year-old killer, Adam Lanza's mental health. But the elementary school attack has raised the issue and many are calling on society to be more vigilant.

A game industry group calls any link between video games and violence a myth. And following the movie theater massacre in July, a movie industry mogul suggested a summit on violence and film, which has not yet been convened.

Still, an Oscar-nominated movie last year, "We Need to Talk About Kevin," eerily mirrors the Newtown shooting. The 16-year-old upperclass student Kevin goes on a killing spree at his high school after murdering his family. The movie raising loaded questions about teen mental health, family breakdown and violence in American society.
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Police find shooting teacher
with an assortment of guns


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers arrested a man Wednesday night after a woman reported that he had threatened her with a gun minutes earlier in the bar he manages in Cartago.

Police also confiscated seven guns and nearly 650 rounds of ammunition, according to a report from the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policia y Seguridad Pública.

Officials said that only one of the guns was licensed at all and that gun was registered to a shooting school where the suspect is an instructor.

The incident began when a woman approached several Fuerza Pública officers who were patrolling the neighborhood of San Blas in Cartago, Wednesday night, the report said.

The woman, identified by the apellido Sanabria, told officers that she had been threatened by a man to whom she rents a room. The report said that the man, identified as Méndez Campos, is also the manager of a bar adjacent to Sanabria, property.

According to the report, Méndez came to Sanabria's property that evening where he threatened her, and later went to the bar he manages, which is called Bar Cariari.

Officials said that the police had the right to enter the property when Sanabria told them that Méndez kept some of the guns in the room that she rents to him.

In the room, police found three .38-caliber revolvers, a .22-caliber revolver, a 9-millimeter pistol, a .22-caliber pistol and a .22-caliber rifle, the report said. Additionally police found 59 .38 caliber shells, 98 9 millimeter shells and 465 .22 and 27 shotgun shells.

Officials said that only one gun was registered at all, and that was registered to the Escuela de Tiro Cobra, a shooting school where Méndez teaches.

The report said that Mendez locked himself in his car and refused to comply with police officers' requests for him to come out for two and a half hours. Police managed to arrest him when he left the vehicle and attempted to enter the bar.


Immigration police detain
second forgery suspect

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Immigration police have arrested the last person in what they suspect to be the group that created false residency documents and sold them to foreigners.

The arrested man, who was identified by the last name of Solis, was detained on the public road in an area called Ciudadela López Mateo at San Sebastián earlier in the week.  Solis is suspected to be the leader of the group who created and sold fake labor permits and cédulas, said an immigration spokesman.

Immigration police began investigating the persons for distributing false cédulas in September, after receiving an anonymous complaint, they said.

They then arrested a man with the last names of Castillo Rojos Nov. 16.

According to immigration officials, the customers of the men were mostly Nicaraguan citizens who live in La Uruca and gather around Parque la Merced and Parque Central.  Would-be bus drivers took advantage of the work permits, they said.

These persons paid 45,000 colons for work permits and 65,000 colons for cédulas.








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wheat harvests
This is one of the maps created by Deepak Ray and his team.
They are available HERE

Despite future need, food harvests
are not keeping pace, study finds

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The demand for food crops is growing, but experts say the world’s harvests are not keeping pace. 

A new study pinpoints exactly where crop yields are falling behind.  The authors describe it as actionable intelligence on where more investment is needed to help secure the world’s food supply.

The United Nations says there will be 2 billion more people to feed by 2050.  And people are becoming richer and eating more meat, which takes more grain to produce, and demand for plant-derived biofuels is growing.

But while the need for food crops is increasing, the new study found productivity has flattened out or declined on 43 percent of the world’s rice-growing land, and 44 percent of its wheat fields. 

​​That raises a serious question, according to lead author Deepak Ray at the University of Minnesota.

“If huge tracts of rice and wheat areas are not improving," he asks, "then where are we actually heading in terms of reaching that target of feeding 9 billion humans?”

​Overall, Ray says, the new study found yields were stagnant or fell on about a quarter to two-fifths of the world’s farmland growing rice, wheat, corn or soybeans.  Those four crops account for about two-thirds of the world's caloric consumption.

​​​Other studies have warned that crop yield increases are not keeping up with demand.  But Ray says they have been too vague to act on.

“When you say, for instance, wheat yields are not increasing anymore in India, it doesn’t really say much.  It doesn’t say where it is not increasing.”

So Ray’s team pored over decades of official figures and detailed statistics, “to figure out what is happening in each county, for example in the United States, or in each municipio in Brazil or in each district in India... It takes a long, long time, obviously.”

It took three years, in fact.  But in the end, the group produced detailed maps that can be used to zero in on where yields are increasing and where they are not.

But Ray says this is really just the beginning.

“This data set can be used to answer many other questions like, ‘Where are we going from here?’ What we have only shown is where we are right now.”

Next, Ray says, researchers need to figure out why yields are not improving in these areas and what needs to change.

Kostas Stamoulis, director of the Agricultural Development Economics Division at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, says the study identifies areas where improvements would have a substantial impact.
   
“There is significant untapped potential to increase yields to accommodate future demand," he says.  "This is good news. Let’s put it that way.”

And Stamoulis says in many cases tapping that potential is a matter of applying what is already known.

“The technologies exist, he says.  "We have to provide farmers with market access, infrastructure, risk management practices that will incentivize them to use those technologies.”

And as the demand for food crops grows, Stamoulis says the time to invest in farmers is now.


Flow of immigrants with ideas to U.S.
slows and many are heading elsewhere


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Immigrants who once came to the United States for a better life are, in increasing numbers, taking their education and entrepreneurial spirit to places where there are more opportunities.

A new report from the Kauffman Foundation, an organization that specializes on entrepreneurial activity, finds that the number of high-tech, immigrant-founded startups in the United States has stagnated and is on the verge of decline.

The report blames this reverse brain drain on an unwelcoming immigration system.  But there could be other reasons.

“When any country becomes wealthier and starts becoming a country of immigration, the first step toward that is the return of their own diaspora members” says Madeleine Sumption, senior policy analyst at the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.

“China is now becoming a more attractive destination for people who have studied in the U.S. or in the U.K., for example,” she said.

In addition to the recent graduates, Ms. Sumption said experienced researchers are being enticed to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

“The Chinese government has actually put in place some policies to try to encourage diaspora researchers, particularly in the sciences, to go back to China by offering them access to newly established research labs and so forth,” said Ms. Sumption.

Ms. Sumption said there is a smaller, but growing, group of highly skilled workers born in the United States who are looking at opportunities offered by multinational companies in China.

This change in migration patterns has some benefits.

“One of the major effects is the opening up of trade and research cooperation between countries,” Ms. Sumption said.   Another, she said, is that the surge in the number of students coming to the United States has added to the circulation of candidates for employment worldwide.

The other major Asian beneficiary of this reverse migration is India.

“The Indian government has put in place policies to make it easier for people of Indian origin to get working resident’s rights,” Ms. Sumption said. “And India reports more people who are interested in setting up tech startups are returning home.”

“We previously had a traditional model of people moving from developing countries to developed countries,” said Sumption. “Now people have more options when deciding where to take their skills.”

“For traditional destinations like the U.S., “said Ms. Sumption, “They may have to start to compete a little harder for some of these immigrants if they’re really worried about losing them.”


Bernardo Soto crash claims two lives

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two persons died Thursday afternoon in a two-vehicle accident on the Bernardo Soto highway near the Fábrica Nacional de Licores between Alajuela and Grecia.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the accident was at Kilometer 35 of the highway. The victims were a man identified by the last name of Mesen, who was driving a pickup truck, and a woman with the last name of Moreno, who was a passenger in the other vehicle. She was reported to be between 65 and 70 years old.

There were four other persons in the vehicle with Ms. Moreno, who was described as Chilean. They were taken to hospitals, said the judicial investigating agency.

Mesen was headed toward Grecia, and the other vehicle was going toward Alajuela, said agents.

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