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(506) 223-1327                   Published Monday, Dec. 26, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 255          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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A.M. Costa Rica/Garland M. Baker    
Viewing stands go up along Avenida 2 for the Tope today

Here come horses to compete with the bulls
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country taps into its equestrian tradition today when thousands of horses and riders take to the parade route.

Horses have a tradition as long as European settlement here, and the Tope, as it is called, brings together nearly anyone in the country who has or has access to a horse. Even the presidential candidates will be there today, as will persons with ox carts, carriages and other animal modes of transportation.

The Tope, which means encounter in Spanish, is a day-after-Christmas tradition and heavily supported by beer companies. The horse parade is supposed to kick off at 10 a.m. The local television stations say they will pick it up by noon.

Sunday night was the start of another annual tradition, the Tico-style bull fights at the Zapote festival. This is where hundreds of young and not so young Costa Ricans get in a ring with a fighting bull and run around so as not to get gored.

The bullfights almost didn't make it this year. The contractor building a new ring at the festival grounds engaged in another Costa Rican tradition: fighting bureaucracy.
Health officials and others found multiple faults with the construction, layout and drainage. So for a time it appeared that the redondel, as the ring is called, would not be approved for use.

María de Rocío Sáenez, the minister of Salud, even toured the grounds Friday. But by Sunday the only approval missing was the one for the kickoff fireworks display. Officials said that because of injuries in prior years, fireworks would not be allowed inside a bull ring. That goes for similar setups elsewhere in the country.

So brave Ticos were allowed to throw their bodies in the path of fighting bulls. There were no serious injuries Sunday. But one participant, Alexander Rojas Alfaro, chose to ride a bull into the ring rodeo style. The 1,500-pound bull quickly spun him off and danced on his head and back for awhile.

Later Rojas took his shirt off to show the bull did not draw blood. But there were bruises from the bull's chunky horns.

The bull baiting continues through Jan. 1.
Tuesday there is another parade in the center of town. This one is the annual carnival that features lots of dancing and music.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 26, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 255

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Pacheco and his wife urge
holiday unity of families

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco in his last Christmas message as leader of the country, joined with his wife to emphasize the need for unity of families at this time of year.

Pacheco said that the nation has arrived at the holiday seasons after an arduous and prolonged effort and a year of work involving achievements and sacrifices.

His wife, Leila Rodríguez Stahl, urged viewers to celebrate with moderation and prudence and without the excesses of alcohol or the presence of drugs or violence that can ruin the most important night of the year.

She saluted mothers, "the boss of the home," for their heroism, valor, work and generosity.

Pacheco urged citizens to resolve to banish violence in families and in communities. He called homes "sacred temples" where love, solidarity, charity and respect reigns.

Pacheco leaves office in May after elections Feb. 5 pick a successor. Candidates for the presidency have a publicity campaign truce over the holidays. However, they continue to campaign in person and place holiday messages in newspapers.

Brothers get sentences reduced

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

A Mexican court has reduced the prison sentences of two brothers who were convicted of heading a drug cartel that smuggled tons of methamphetamine into the United States. José de Jesús Amezcua Thursday had a 53-year prison sentence reduced to 28 years. His brother, Adan, had his sentence cut from 22 years to nine-and-a-half years. No reason was given for the reduction in sentences

Our reader's opinions
Jo Stuart's analysis
called faulty by reader

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My God, please only let Jo write about the bus. She is completely unable in the field of analysis.
1. how many "incidents" she counts has zero correlation to the safety of the U.S.A. They count neither the severity nor rate of increase or decrease. Maybe an American body count, Jo, would have led you to another conclusion, and it still would have been an incorrect analysis with a completely different answer.
2. Your description of "unauthorized wiretaps on American citizens" is flat out a mispresentation of the facts. They were not authorized by a judge, but were indeed authorized. They were reviewed and approved, by the Department of Justice, FBI, the president personally, and the relevant committies in Congress and Senate. None were domestic conversations between Americans. All were international, most involving one party that was not an American citizen. Current congressional (not White House) leaks to the press ascribe several large attacks on the U.S.A. thwarted. It is absolutely reasonable to think these taps are illegal and wrong. Make the argument. Fine. But why not use all the facts before you take pen to paper and publish

 3. Jo, no attacks during the eight years of President Clinton? you'd think you found a guy like that disgusting enough to remember the first attack on the World Trade Center? Maybe the succesion of bombings involving our embassies around the world? Come on. if you decide you can write and publish please use a source beyond moveon.org.

3. your inability to distinquish the nature of war practiced by democracies and dictators socialist and otherwise is telling, Jo. Please grab any rhetoric book, thumb the index to moral equivilance and note your fallacy. Governments that are self-selected vs. unelected leaders. equal morally in their actions towards other countries and their own people eh, Jo? Ohhhh. but that's right. You think Bush was selected not elected, too.

4. Your anecdotes of a supposed Lucy and silly comments on the the gentleman's encounter with our air marshals are there for no reason except to fallciously solidify your first arguments which were equally fallacious. In the realm of gossip rhetoric we call this confirmation speech. A group of people confirming a fallacy to themselves. "Yep, just like she said." "Did you see that blog yesterday." "Ummmmmmhm" "You can see it happening everyday."

Its how people come to believe things that are factually incorrect. Like socialism helps the poor, low prices cause poverty, or that Jo writes inciteful analysis.
Surely you know some well-read people on the right and left that could provide a point-counter point analysis and an opinion that is at least thought out before written. All opinions are not equal. Some use facts, take in all sides and are thought out, Some do not.
George Chapogas
Playas del Coco

You can't solve problems
by watching television

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

There is a saying "figures don't lie, but liars figure." Ms Stuart knows no more about what is going on in the U.S.A. terrorist world than any other expatriate who high-tailed it out of town. She ought to write a book entitled "How to solve the United States problems from watching TV from afar."

I can image how she is the darling the other Democrats Abroad members because she can write bias articles in a widely read English Internet newspaper without challenge. Ms. Stuart also writes fluffy articles on how wonderful it is to draw pension from the U.S.A. and spend it in beautiful, serene, friendly, safe Costa Rica.

However rather than write about Costa Rica politics (and there is plenty to write about) she chooses to turn on her cable TV and watch the ugly, unfriendly, chaotic, unsafe U.S.A. from afar.

Bobby Ruffín
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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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 26, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 255

Betrayal, revenge and death: This dicho has it all!
Muerto el perro se acabada la rabia

“When the dog dies, the rabies will end.” This dicho has to do with  eliminating the source of a serious problem. Like many such  expressions, however, it contains a paradox. It’s rather like saying,  “the patient died but the disease was cured.”

A few months ago a friend asked my advice about a very difficult situation. He had recently become engaged to be married, but an old girlfriend had started pursuing him, coming around to visit him at his apartment when he was alone (if you get my drift), and he succumbed to her advances. Through an almost comical series of electronic blunders, the fiancée found out about the affair and confronted him.

I asked him if he had talked to both women about terminating one of the relationships. He replied that he had not. We discussed his options.

The old girlfriend knew he was engaged, and she, herself, was married.  She had the best of all possible worlds, as it were. So she did not wish to end the affair.

But for his fiancée this was not quite the case. She felt betrayed, hurt, deceived and no longer wanted to trust him.

His fear was that he would lose everything and end up alone. Another dicho that we talked about in a previous column might easily be applied here: Se quedo sin el santo y sin la limosna, “To be left with neither the saint nor the collection box.”

After many hours of talk, my friend became convinced that the only way out of his dilemma was to talk to both women, to terminate once and for all any contact with his old girlfriend, and to tell the  whole truth to his fiancée.

Well, the result was not good, at least to begin with: The fiancée broke off the engagement because she
way we say it

By Daniel Soto

felt she could no longer trust him, and the old girlfriend became vengeful and created a mini-scandal at his job.

A few days after these explosions had subsided, I asked him how he felt. Understandably he had rather mixed emotions. He felt bad because he had lost the fiancée that he truly loved, but he was also relieved because having everything out in the open was for him like  being liberated from some prison.

This story does have a happy ending. A few months later the young man and his fiancée did manage to patch things up and get back together. Now they’re giving their relationship a second go.

So, in this particular case the perro was the relationship between the young man and his fiancée and the rabia was his infidelity. The cure indeed almost killed the perro, but in the end it survived, hopefully to be stronger and healthier for having endured the  experience. But the healing process could never have begun until the rabia had been eliminated.

Of course, sometimes muerto el perro se acaba la rabia turns out to be all too literally true, and the only way to get rid of the disease is for the dog to die. But then, sometimes life is a paradox.

Paraiso man says municipality dumped sewage on his land via a ditch
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A property owner in Paraiso de Cartago said that the municipality there has dug a ditch that channels a lagoon of human waste into his land and then into an adjacent stream.

The landowner, Scott Pralinsky, lacks any immediate remedy because of the Christmas season even though the situation as he explains it seems to be a clear violation of Costa Rican law.

Pralinsky said he was told that the decision to drain the lagoon was made by the municipal council that paid a private contractor to dig a ditch that ends at his property line. From there the waste water flows over his land into a clear stream that leads to a river.

His efforts to contact health and environmental officials ran afoul of the country's long Christmas holiday that will not end until Jan. 2.

"We have lots of animals and two wells on our property," said Pralinsky. "Those who live here and

Photo by Scott Pralinsky
Landowner says this is the ditch the Municipalidad de Paraiso de Cartago constructed to drain sewage.

our animals are in serious danger from this action." He said the problem began several years ago with construction of houses uphill from his land, and the waste seems to originate at the houses which may lack adequate sewage systems.

A.M. Costa Rica

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Good grief!

Are you still spending 70 percent 
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You need to fill this space ASAP!

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 26, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 255

Researchers say skin cancer only partly based on sun
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Researchers have found that the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is only partially associated with exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, the rays in sunlight that cause sunburn.

The report in the December issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute also indicates that only nonmelanoma skin cancers (i.e. basal and squamous cell carcinoma) are strongly associated with exposure to UVB radiation.

That does not mean, however, that sunbathing poses a minimal risk of developing melanoma. Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center say that ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, the rays in sunlight that reach the deeper layers of skin and are associated with signs of aging, can damage the DNA in melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells that give rise to melanoma.

"Although we have refined the common wisdom that excess sun exposure is always associated with increased risk of skin cancer, the take-home message for the public is still the same — limit sun exposure and use a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays," says the study's lead investigator, Qingyi Wei, a medical doctor and professor in the Department of Epidemiology.

The study is a painstaking analysis of the ability of UVB radiation to damage a cell's chromosomes. Chromosomal injury is one way cells can become cancerous. Damage to the genes that make up the chromosome is another, and Wei and his colleagues already have shown in previous studies that
melanoma patients often have a reduced capacity to repair the DNA damage that comes from UV exposure.

In the novel study, researchers looked at how often chromosomes break in cells from skin cancer patients compared with cells from a control group.

Wei and his team of 16 collaborators gathered white blood cells from 469 skin cancer patients treated at M. D. Anderson (238 of whom were diagnosed with melanoma) as well as from 329 cancer-free control subjects.

Using the theory that the ability to induce breaks in a cell's chromosome is, in part, based on a person's genes, and would therefore hold true for all types of body cells, the investigators exposed the blood cells to excess UVB exposure. These findings were linked to whether each of the study participants had one of the three forms of skin cancer.

They found that UVB radiation affects cell chromosomes more severely in patients with nonmelanoma basal and squamous cell carcinoma than those in melanoma patients. The frequency of UVB-induced chromosome breaks was higher in nonmelanoma skin cancer patients than in the control group, but was the same in melanoma patients and the control group. In fact, a higher frequency of chromosomal breaks was associated with a more than twofold-increased risk for both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, Wei says.

These findings indicate that in skin cells it is better to have broken chromosomes that cause cells to die or acquire a "simple," treatable cancer, than for the skin cells to remain intact but sustain genetic damage that can lead to much more serious cancer, Wei adds.

Unlucky restaurant robber gets five years and four months in prison
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The armed robber who had the misfortune to stick up a fast food restaurant where a top law enforcement official was having breakfast got five years and four months in prison last week.

The robber, identified by the last names of  López Campos was one of two men who arrived on a motorcycle and tried to stick up cashiers at the McDonald's restaurant near the Parque de la Paz in south San José.

The man accepted responsbility for his crime in an 
abbreviated court process in the Tribunal de Juicio de San José, according to a court spokesman.

The confrontation unfolded Aug. 22 about 7 a.m. when two men barged into the restaurant demanding money.

The law enforcement officer is Francisco Segura, sub-director of the nation's criminal investigating agency, the Judicial Investigating Organization. Segura attacked one assailant and wrestled the gun away from him.  Then, Segura shot him in the back of the leg to keep him from running away, officials said at the time. The second robber fled.

Fidel Castro says that top U.S. diplomat in Cuba is a 'little gangster'
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

HAVANA, Cuba — Cuban president Fidel Castro has called America's top diplomat in Havana a "little gangster" after the envoy criticized the Communist nation's human rights record.

Castro was speaking to Parliament Thursday about Michael Parmly, chief of the U.S. Interests Section, which operates under the auspices of the Swiss Embassy. The United States and Cuba have no formal diplomatic ties.
Parmly said in a speech earlier this month that Cuban government supporters who harass political dissidents are similar to Nazi stormtroopers or members of the violent U.S. white supremacist organization, the Ku Klux Klan.

Parmly's comments were brought up in a Cuban television program earlier this week.

The program alleged that some political dissidents in Cuba are paid agents of the United States. This has been a long-running allegation by Havana.

Jo Stuart
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