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(506) 2223-1327           Published Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 255       Email us
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Tope page one
A.M. Costa Rica/Andrew Rulseh Kasper
Whether big, little, black, white, brown, spotted or otherwise, the theme in San José Monday was horses and their equine-loving aficionados who
filled the downtown streets of Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda in the annual parade.
The story is HERE!


Lawmakers quietly approve new tax on corporations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Before they broke for a Christmas vacation, legislators approved a new tax on corporations, President Laura Chinchilla plans a formal ceremony this morning to sign the measure. The event will be complete with the signing of the national anthem, flags and talks by top security minister officials.

The exact text of the measure was not available, but the law will be published in the La Gaceta official newspaper after Ms. Chinchilla signs it.

Although attributed to Ms. Chinchilla's administration, the bill came to lawmakers in 2006 during the Óscar Arias administration.

The new tax covers all sorts of business entities, such as sociedades anónimas and sociedad de responsabilidad limitada. The $300 corporate tax is expected to raise about $30 million for the ministry's police school. All money raised goes to the ministry.

There was discussion at the legislature, according to the minutes of the session. Some lawmakers objected to assessing the same tax on a corporation that holds no assets as the bill does on a giant company.

The proposed taxes do not identify or tax a show ofspecific wealth and does not depend on income 
or earnings, noted an opponent, Carlos Góngora Fuentes of the Movimiento Libertario. That party later announced all of its lawmakers had voted against the bill. The final vote was 37 to 14.

Those in favor of the bill, mainly members of the Partido Liberación Nacional spoke at length and quoted from books by party founder José Figueres Ferrer, who favored taxing the wealth for the benefit of the poor.

The measure was No. 16.306, and it was approved on first reading in April.

The measure then went thorough Sala IV constitutional court review before the final vote.

Much of the session included discussion of taxes related more to the pending tax act that is being reviewed by magistrates.

Still unknown is when the tax must be paid. One version of the bill said it would go into effect 10 days after signing. Another version says three months. Owners of inactive corporations will pay just half of the tax.

Many expats hold their homes and vehicles in corporations. If the tax is not paid, the operators of the corporations will not be able to do official business, according to the bill.

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Cool night and clear day
predicted for Tuesday


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Clear skies Monday probably will return today with the weather forecasters saying that windy and dry air will be seen nearly all over the national territory.

Anyone with trouble sleeping should move to Cartago. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that overnight temperatures there would be around 14 C. or about 57 F.

However, the daytime will continue to see warm temperatures, mainly in the lowlands, the coasts and the northern zone.

The only threat of rain might be in the mountains where isolated showers are possible, the institute said.


Police sweep targets clubs
and nets 26 persons and drugs


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública said that it checked out a number of entertainment clubs over the weekend and ended up detaining 26 persons. Police checked out about 1,600 persons and confiscated marijuana, crack and cocaine, they said.

“Of the 26 persons detained, 14 were held as illegal immigrants.

In a separate case in Sabanillas de Acosta, judicial police detained a man with the last name of Mora who escaped from prison in San Ramón Nov., 25. The suspect is a former Fuerza Pública officer who was linked to a drug gang. The man was traveling on a motorcycle with a friend en route to the home of family members.

Quakes continue in south

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Earthquakes continued Monday in the southern mountains.

A 2.3 magnitude quake took place at 3:22 a.m. in southern Desamparados and south of Curridabat.

At 5:56 p.m.a 2.2 quake took place north of Corralillo and southeast of Salitrillos further south on the San José-Cartago provincial border. This is an area where a flurry of small quakes have been taking place since the middle of last week. All of the quakes appear to be only a few kilometers below the surface.

 
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!
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 255

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Ranchero singers, show ponies and route marked with Christmas decorations

Horses and their riders once again take over the streets of city
By Andrew Rulseh Kasper
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Whether big, little, black, white, brown, spotted or otherwise, the theme in San José Monday was horses and their equine-loving aficionados who filled the downtown streets of Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda in the annual parade.

The procession began in La Sabana and ended in the heart of the city. Official estimates place the number of participants between 3,000 and 3,500. Though most of them rode their horses, that was not the only manner to complete the route. Others walked alongside show ponies, some just walked slinging lassos and performing cowboy tricks, while some were pulled in buggies by the horses. Meanwhile, judges in Parque Central scored the riders and their horses as they passed.

Vicente Campos, a member of the five-person San José festivals commission who helped organize the event, said the tradition-steeped event has been taking place for more than 100 years and coincides with the national day of caballistas. He said most of the participants represented specific ranches or rider’s or breeders clubs, each with a special focus on a certain type of horsemanship or horse. Some of the clubs in the parade
promoted purebred Spanish horses while others took pride in their horses style of high-stepping popular at such showcase events.

Some of the more notable participants seen at the event were a man dressed as Zorro, the folkloric hero wearing all black and a rider with a large hat and ornate cowboy clothes representing Charrerías Alvarado, who sang popular ranchero songs through his microphone while he rode his horse. And there were the beauty queens of San José, who rode in a car at the front. The parade began by honoring Ariel Ary, a young man with down syndrome who is known by fellow Costa Ricans for his participation in the Special Olympics.

Lining the streets of the city to watch the spectacle were crowds and crowds of Costa Ricans. Many were drinking and dancing as the horses passed by. Comissioner Alban Hidalgo of the reserve volunteer unit of the Fuerza Pública said the crowd of spectators was estimated to be about one million with around 1,000 police officers employed on patrols, including some on horseback in the parade itself. As of 4 p.m. he said he was not aware of any major security incidents and that the biggest problem encountered in such events were excess drinking and street fights or pick-pocketing.


Panamá diplomat decorated
for efforts after invasion

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Chancellor Enrique Castillo has decorated Guillermo Alberto Cochéz, Panama's ambassador to the Organization of American States, for his country´s solidarity during the invasion by Nicaragua.

Castillo, the minister for foreign affairs for Costa Rica, awarded the national order Juan Mora Fernández in the grade of Gran Cruz de Plata to Cochéz.

The decoration was in recognition for services rendered to Costa Rica during the administration of Cochéz, "especially during the processing of the complaint of Costa Rica against Nicaragua as a result of the invasion of our territory, made by this country in the area called Island Calero-Portillos at the end of 2010," said Castillo. Panamá was the first country to support Costa Rica after the Nicaraguan invasion.

The tribute to Cochéz also marked the 22nd anniversary of the fall of the military regime in Panama. Cochéz praised the organization for its role in supporting the decisions and ¨courageous claims of Costa Rica against Nicaragua¨ and for giving a ¨solution to the grievance which was a violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity."
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Researchers say tropical storms may trigger major earthquakes
By the University of Miami news service

A groundbreaking study shows that earthquakes, including the recent 2010 temblors in Haiti and Taiwan, may be triggered by tropical hurricanes and typhoons.

“Very wet rain events are the trigger,” said Shimon Wdowinski, associate research professor of marine geology at the University of Miami.  “The heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion, which removes ground material from the Earth’s surface, releasing the stress load and encouraging movement along faults.”

Wdowinski and a colleague from Florida International University analyzed data from quakes magnitude-6 and above in Taiwan and Haiti and found a strong time relationship between the two natural hazards, where large earthquakes occurred within four years after a very wet tropical cyclone season.

During the last 50 years three very wet tropical cyclone events, Typhoons Morakot, Herb and Flossie, were followed within four years by major earthquakes in Taiwan’s mountainous regions. The 2009 Morakot typhoon was followed by a magnitude 6.2 quake in 2009 and a magnitude 6.4 in 2010. The 1996 Typhoon Herb was followed by a magnitude 6.2 quake in 1998 and one of magnitude 7.6 in 1999. The 1969 Typhoon Flossie was followed by a magnitude 6.2 quake in 1972.
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti occurred in the mountainous region one-and-a-half years after two hurricanes and two tropical storms drenched the island nation within 25 days. It had a magnitude of 7.

The researchers suggest that rain-induced landslides and excess rain carries eroded material downstream. As a result the surface load above the fault is lessened.

“The reduced load unclamps the faults, which can promote an earthquake,” said Wdowinski. He is with the university's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Fractures in Earth’s bedrock from the movement of tectonic plates, known as faults, build up stress as they attempt to slide past each other, periodically releasing the stress in the form of an earthquake.

According to the scientists, this earthquake-triggering mechanism is only viable on inclined faults, where the rupture by these faults has a significant vertical movement.

Wdowinski also shows a trend in the tropical cyclone-earthquake pattern exists in magnitude 5 and above earthquakes.

The researchers plan to analyze patterns in other seismically active mountainous regions, such as the Philippines and Japan,  that are subjected to tropical cyclones activity.

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México says cops caught
top Sinaloa drug figure


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican authorities say they have dealt a blow to a powerful drug cartel by capturing one of its top lieutenants.

The chief army spokesman, Gen. Ricardo Trevilla, told reporters Monday that Felipe Cabrera Sarabia was captured Friday in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state.

Cabrera was present and flanked by guards at Monday's news conference in Mexico City.

Trevilla told reporters that Cabrera was a top aide to the head of a Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. He said Cabrera's capture deals a blow to the cartel, adding that Cabrera rose through the ranks by using violence against his rivals.

Trevilla said officers confiscated documents and computer equipment when they arrested Cabrera.


Winter beers get weird
with flavors and spices


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It’s weird beer time in America.

Beer and ale are already available, any time of year, in familiar varieties: lager, pilsner, stout, India pale ale.  But perhaps inspired by candymakers and coffee bars, U.S. brewers by the hundreds produce flavored seasonal varieties for the winter holidays.

Brews flavored with chocolate, pumpkin, cinnamon, clove — even oatmeal and gingerbread — are said to spice up holiday parties, so to speak.

The large Samuel Adams craft brand, for instance, ships out something called Cranberry Lambic beer this time of year, not to mention holiday porters, black lagers, and a brew called Old Fezziwig Ale. One reviewer, sounding very much like a snooty wine critic, described Old Fezziwig as possessing “a nose full of roasted malt.”

So-called winter brews are usually darker, heavier on the hops, and a tad more alcoholic than the usual fare. They include brands such as Winter Solstice, Old Jubilation, Winter Warmer, Snow Cap, Hibernation Ale, and Santa’s Private Reserve.

Or not so private, since Oregon’s Rogue Brewing Company sells it to anyone who wants to buy it.

Some drinkers detest flavored beers and thick, dark, bitter winter ales.  But they must be selling well, since at least 100 American brewers fill store shelves with these wintertime-only varieties.

So when ordinary pale lagers aren’t catching holiday shoppers’ eyes, perhaps a Nutcracker Ale, a Snowball’s Chance Winter Ale, a Frambozen, brews named Igloo and Jack Frost and Slowblind Winter Warmer, a Texas dunkelweizen that one aficionado calls a drinkable fruitcake, or something called Tannen Bomb which has nothing to do with a Christmas tree, will do the trick.


Workers on job all week
to create Mardi Gras floats


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

New Orleans explodes into a carnival every year for Mardi Gras. And on that final day before the beginning of Lent, giant colorful floats parade down the city's streets. Groups known as krewes are responsible for planning and paying for the floats, but the hard work of building them is left to artists. Ninety percent of the floats are created in Mardi Gras World in New Orleans.

The Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans may only last days, but it takes a whole year to prepare.

Artists are hard at work getting ready for next year's parade on Feb. 21.  Mardis Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday" and marks the last day of feasting before Lent, the 40-day period before Christians celebrate Easter.

Sean Lanny is making flowers at Mardi Gras World that will adorn some of the floats.

"We started in September making the flowers," said Lanny.  "But the whole process starts earlier. It starts with the idea-making process then they have to draw pictures and it continues on. The art director and the artist get together and decide what is going to be the theme for the year and what each float is going to look like."
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Handel's 'Messiah' becomes
seasonal karaoke in U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The holidays are here, and with them, a crescendo of special music reserved for this season.

But along with “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night” and “Santa Baby,” towers the “Messiah.” Eighteenth century composer George Frederick Handel penned the two-hour choral masterpiece in just under three weeks.

It is performed all around the country, by church, school and community choirs.

In many cases, the audience is invited to sing along. At the 44th annual "Messiah Sing-In” in New York, nearly 2,000 people gathered to sing with professional soloists in a marathon celebration of community and the Christmas spirit.

Lincoln Center’s vast and glittering Avery Fisher Hall is filled nearly to capacity every year for the sing-in.  Accompanied only by an organ, music lovers join their voices with high school and community choruses to bring Handel’s “Messiah” to life.

Each of the 17 chorus sections is conducted by a different well-known conductor, and the solos are sung by well-known professionals. But Martin Josman, national chorale music director who created the first sing-in in 1967 and acts as the evening’s emcee, says that the audience is the true star. 

“The emphasis is on the public that sings," he says. "There are no auditions; there are no rehearsals; there are no requirements for coming to the sing-in. You have to buy your tickets so we can pay the rent. Besides, that, anybody who wants to come can come.”

And come they have, for 44 years.

In other cities that host "Messiah" sing-alongs, the singers are arranged around the venue according to their vocal parts. But Josman says New Yorkers prefer to sing with the people they came with or what they call scrambled in choral jargon. That’s good he says, because the sing-in is not a performance, but a community celebration.     

“And people who make music very quickly get to feel at home with others who are in the process," he says. "Whether they be vocalists or instrumentalists, there is a kinship of sharing the musical experience. And also we say, ‘We are in this marvelous hall. Let’s fill this place with glorious sound.’ And we do.”

Well, the truth is, not all the sound is glorious. But that doesn’t bother the professionals.

"I’m someone who believes that if someone goes in and they sing with passion and they really enjoy what they’re doing, music will follow," says professional baritone solist James Bobick. "Everybody is there because they love The Messiah as much as we do and it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to share this love of an incredible work. It’s this unique energy."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, "Messiah" brings that joy every Christmas," soprano Zulimar Lopez-Hernandez says. 

Eyes that have been bright for the two hours of near continuous singing manage to light up even more as the organ introduces the “Halleluiah Chorus,” and for the 44th year in a row, the sing-in singers give the Messiah’s popular climax everything they’ve got.

“Halleluiah” means “praise Him” in ancient Aramaic, but today, it translates into hope and joy in any language.



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