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(506) 2223-1327                    Published Friday, Dec. 28, 2012,  in Vol. 12, No. 258                   Email us
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hurt
                              croc
Photo by Rolf Sommer
Arrow indicated the aperture in the head of the crocodile.
Croc seems to have done major surgery on itself
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A crocodile that appears to have been the victim of a spearing has managed to lose the object.

This is the crocodile that was featured Thursday morning in A.M. Costa Rica. The creature had some type of bar imbedded in his skull. It had been that way for several days.

No more. Angela and Rolf Sommer, who were
seeking professional help for the injured animal, reported Thursday that the crocodile had freed itself from the spear and appears to be doing fine.

Except it has a hole in its head.

The crocodile makes its home in the Río Nosara on the far Pacific coast.

"I am sure people will like this photo with the good news," said Sommer.



Next year will see political excitement and surprises
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Next year is a campaign year. The next presidential election is Feb. 2, 2014, but 2013 is the year in which political parties pick their nominees and when those selected present their campaign to the electorate.

Many believe that the San José mayor, Johnny Araya, has all but sewn up the nomination of the Partido Liberación Nacional. They may be wrong.

In a display of support last week a majority of the legislators of that party pledged their support to  Rodrigo Arias Sánchez. He is what is technically known as a pre-candidate.

Araya has his campaign well under way, and he has tapped a potential opponent, Antonio Álvarez Desanti, as his campaign manager. This was a strategic move because Álvarez also has stage presence that can attract votes.

Arias, the brother of the former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, does not exude the same charisma. However, the 17 lawmakers who gave their support said they did so because Rodrigo Arias has far more national level governmental experience. He was minister of the Presidencia or chief of staff for his brother.

Liberación party members will be meeting April 21 to pick a nominee. The party has dominated politics since 1948, and rival parties, such as Unidad Social Cristiana, appear to have fallen apart.

Yet, President Laura Chinchilla Miranda was a Liberación product, and her presidency has been less than impressive. So the party needs a dynamic personality to win the presidency and generate enough votes to elect a legislative majority.

So far, the biggest challenge seems to be a proposed coalition of minor parties that have adopted a
patriotic and socialistic theme. Count here some lawmakers from the Partido Acción Ciudadana, which has always put forth Ottón Solís as a presidential candidate. Some members of the party have their own ambitions, and a coalition with other parties might attract enough votes for a victory.

The themes include support for the troubled Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, and above all, stop the Arias brothers who gave the country the Free Trade Treaty with the United States.

The coming year is long enough for dramatic developments on the political scene. Former president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez is at least acquitted temporarily of allegations involving the Alcatel cell telephone scandal. If his acquittal stands up in a supreme court appeal, he will be eligible to run, although at 72 he may not.

Waiting is Rafael Calderón Fournier, another ex-president who carries an historic surname. He wanted to be a candidate in 2010 but dropped out after he was sentenced for five years in prison for his role in the so-called Caja-Fischel case, involving bribes associated with the purchase of medical equipment by the government.

However, the Sala III cut his prison term to three years, which basically meant no prison at all. So he could be a candidate. Also a possible candidate is his politically attuned wife, Gloria Bejarano Almada, who has served as a lawmaker.  They are Unidad members.

Sounding more and more like a candidate is former president José María Figueres. He says he is not in the running, but he is developing a plan for Costa Rica's future.

With all these characters and scripts that have yet to be written, the coming year promises excitement and surprises.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 258
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Winter storm still grips
northeastern United States


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
with staff additions

A persistent winter storm that moved into the northeastern United States Wednesday has forced the delay of hundreds of airline flights, frustrating travelers still trying to return home after the Christmas holiday.

However, the transportation effect was minimal in Costa Rica.

The storm spawned high winds, snow and sleet across several states all the way up to Maine. The system also created hazardous driving conditions.

Up to 30 centimeters of snow fell on parts of the Northeast, with the heaviest accumulation across northern New York and into New England. That is nearly 12 inches.

The northeastern United States was still under a winter storm warning.

While the East Coast's largest cities — Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC — got mostly high winds and cold rain, other areas experienced a messy mix of rain and snow that caused many accidents on the highways.

At least a dozen people have been reported killed in storm-related incidents.

Earlier in the week, nearly three dozen tornadoes were reported in the southern U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Tens of thousands of people were left without power by the massive storm system.

All flights were arriving with a few delays of a half hour or less at Juan Santamaría airport Thursday. At Liberia's Daniel Oduber airport, Air Canada reported a flight from Toronto was about six hours late but en route. Its return trip also was reported to be delayed by more than five hours. A United flight from Newark also was delayed and landed an hour late.



Reader letters are HERE today.


 
 
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. 28, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 258
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Advanced \Design
Baptist Church

Here's what's open and what's closed for the New Year's holiday
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 to Jan. 2.  For more information call 2287-6034.

Museos del Banco Central de Costa Rica
The central bank museums located underneath Plaza de la Cultura will be closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  The museums will be open normal hours from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on other days.

Museo Nacional
Museo Nacional will be closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  It will be open today through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Teatro Nacional
Teatro Nacional is closed.  It will reopen New Year's Day.

Museo de Arte Costarricense
The Museo de Arte Costarricense will be closed until Jan. 2.

Poder Judicial
The administrative offices of Poder Judicial  are closed until  Jan. 7.  All other offices are open except New Year's Day, Jan. 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.   However, New Year's Eve the offices will only open in the mornings. 

Municipalidad de San José
The administrative offices for the San José municipality will be closed until 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 until Jan. 7. 

Municipalidad de Curridabat
The Curridabat municipality will be closed on  Jan. 1.  For more information, call 2272-0126.

Municipalidad de Liberia, Guanacaste
The Liberia municipality will be closed until Jan. 7. 

Municipalidad de Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz municipality will be closed until Jan. 7. 

Municipalidad de Carrillo, Guanacaste
The Carrillo municipality in Guanacaste will be closed until Jan. 7. 

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

Banco Nacional
Banco Nacional will be closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. 

Banco de Costa Rica
Bank employees will maintain normal hours until Saturday. The bank will be closed Jan. 1.

Pricesmart
Pricesmart will be closed New Year's Day.  For this holiday week it will have revised hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A.M. Costa Rica
The country's most successful English-language newspaper will publish every weekday except New Year's Day and will update readers on the Web site and by email in case of emergencies. The Barrio Otoya offices are closed 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.

U.S. Embassy
The American Embassy will be closed 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.

Instituto Nacional de Seguros
The Instituto Nacional de Seguros will be closed 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. on Jan. 2.

Farmacia Sucre
Farmacia Sucre will be closed 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. Until Sunday, the store will operate its normal hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. 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 closed 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 New Year's Day. An exception is the the agency in Sabana Norte that will be closed 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:
Today, Friday, Holy Innocents 2 p.m. bilingual service.
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 a concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 31.


Rompope and cabbage to avoid those year-end hangovers
2012 was the year that flew by faster than any year I recall.  However, I am told that that is what happens as we grow older and there are fewer new experiences or first times in our life.  Anyway, time, like everything else in this world, is relative.  It varies with what we are doing and how we are feeling.  As far as I know, the only people who can really measure time are those who make speedometers.  Perhaps it is the perception of time that is relative and time is absolute — which brings us to the relativity of reality.

What matters is that there is an agreement among a group of people (probably the bigger the better) as to what reality is.  Then we can get on with our lives.  A large number of people in the world have agreed that 2012 is coming to a close (not with a bang but with a whimper) and is never going to return.  This will happen at different times, of course, as the world turns.

At least a third of those people are going to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013 with food and drink. And probably another third of that third is going to have hangovers.  That has happened since the beginning of time (the measurement of it, that is) and the discovery of grapes and yeast.

It has been suggested in this newspaper that asparagus is good for a hangover.  Asparagus is expensive.  The Romans had a better way, and they probably wrote the book on overindulging in both food and drink. According to Cato, their spokesperson,

“The cabbage surpasses all other vegetables.  If, at a banquet, you wish to dine a lot and enjoy your dinner, then eat as much cabbage as you wish, seasoned with vinegar, before dinner, and likewise after dinner eat some half dozen leaves.  It will make you feel as if you have not eaten and you may drink as much as you like.”

The beauty of this remedy or prophylactic is that cabbages are a lot cheaper than asparagus and need no preparation.  Wouldn’t it be a nice new custom if, before a festive dinner, the hosts served cabbage leaves with a bit of vinegar?  And then ended the dinner with the same.  Or perhaps a control group would not do so and another would and we could do a
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

scientific study.  And prove once and for all that the Romans were right and the scientists just like to get their names in the paper.

I may try the cabbage treatment this year if I get invited to overeat and drink too much.  However, I recall that milk or cream was supposed to coat your stomach or something so I bought some really rich milk that Dos Pinos puts out every year.  It is sort of a milkshake, and the Ticos call it rompope. (cute!)  I started drinking it today.  It’s awfully sweet, so I added the last of my Frenet Branca to it.  If anything will cut the sweet, Frenet Branca will.  And I recall when I lived in New York, a bartender poured some for me, saying it would cure everything from the flu to hangovers. I was coming down with one or the other at the time.

Oh, dear, I was going to do a review of 2012, but when you think about it, if you feel like thinking about it, that is; it was more weather, more buildings going up, more fútbol  (in the stadium) and more politics, also, thankfully, more friends and close family ties.

There is something comforting in the thought that the more things change, the more they stay the same. (except I-Pads and I-Pods and cell phones).  But, of course, when they do that you lose track of time. “The Time Tracker.”  That sounds like a terrible job.

Whatever.  I would like to wish all of you, my happy readers and not so happy readers, a very Happy New Year. May it hold some unexpected, but pleasant surprises and you have all the time you need to do whatever it is you’ve been doing.  My milkshake needs refreshing.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
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Our readers voice their opinions on population control
Population control
is a matter of choice


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I would like to reply to Mr. Edwards' assertion that Western Civilization is materialistic and that population control is a ruse to decrease minorities.

It is true that we in the West are pretty spoiled.  Many Third World peoples live their life without all the gadgets, gizmos and flat screens that seem to be considered necessities in our world.  How many of the poor would turn down the opportunity to be one of these spoiled westerners if it were offered? I think you will find materialism in all nations around the world. Just look at how many Third World leaders started out with their peoples interest at heart and later turned into the materialistic dictators with the help of U.S. foreign aid.

Mr. Edwards has made the statement "There are poor and hungry people in this world because of warfare, famine, and selfishness." Perhaps he should realize that;  1)  warfare is the result of too many people on too little land, 2) famine is the result of too many people eating too little food, and 3) selfishness is too many people wanting too few things.

Population control is a matter of choice. You can choose to control the number of people living on the earth, or in time, the problem will take care of itself. A dog can tolerate a limited number of fleas on its back. When the number is too great, the dog will take a dip in the water,  and the flea problem will be solved.
Dan Jackson
Calhan, Colorado


 
Lack of sanitation, water
cause deaths to mount up


Dear A.M. Costa Rica;

The bizarre diatribe against racist eugenics, overpopulation and Ted Turner by Mr. Jason A. Edwards is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on contraception and family planning in areas of the world where people are populating themselves back into the stone age.

He finally reveals his core agenda in the 10th and final paragraph of his rant when he says " God asked us to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth....Preventing our neighbor from being born is not love, it's the very definition of selfishness and must be rejected."

How ironic that he should talk about selfishness and love while at the same time arguing against giving poverty stricken women the option to manage the size of their families because of his own religious beliefs! Nothing could be more selfish and less loving than that!

Take Africa, for instance. Many of the Africans he pretends to care about spend their lives ducking bullets, fighting starvation, and huddling in the degradation and violence of filthy, disease ridden camps where their prospects for better lives are virtually nil. Yet he clearly believes that it's more important to promote new life at all costs, to follow 1,500 year-old biblical teachings and to support modern political battles against reproductive rights, than to consider what's best for starving mothers who (a) already have more kids than they can feed, (b) don't want to bring more babies into the grim world they live in and (c) often don't have the option of saying no to sex.

In the coming decades we will see wars fought as much about water as anything else, especially in Africa and the middle east. Worldwide, almost 1 billion people live without safe drinking water. More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes.

Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours. 2.5 billion people worldwide live without proper sanitation. But Mr. Edwards and his fellow extremists consider it a crime akin to eugenics and a heretical proposition to provide even the most basic family planning resources to women who live in these inhumane and degrading conditions. How very, very sad.

Dean Barbour
Manuel Antonio



Letters always are welcome

You can joint the discussion. Just keep your comments to the point.
Send them to

editor@amcostarica.com



Poverty-stricken people
need real assistance


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Mr. Edwards objects to the idea of “a significant decrease of world population in order to combat hunger and environmental damage.”

I believe he is wrong. I consider worldwide population control a good thing to aim at, not because I am “elitist.” Anyone who takes a good look at population growth in the countries he mentions specifically, the UK and the US, will see a distinct trend toward much smaller families than in the past. The total fertility rate in the United States estimated for 2011 is 1.89 children per woman, which is below the replacement fertility rate of approximately 2.1. In my opinion, this is largely due to economics and education and the availability of birth control. Unfortunately, this trend means those who are best equipped to make the necessary changes worldwide are producing fewer children who will grow up to receive the kind of education that might enable them to see the large picture and form viable solutions to the problems we all face.

He goes on to say “There are poor and hungry people in this world because of warfare, famine, and selfishness.” With this statement, I most heartily agree. But I refuse to permit him or anyone to lay the “warfare, famine, and selfishness” at my feet. North Americans and Europeans send billions of dollars worth of  food, medicine, equipment, and educators to many of the countries where warfare, famine and greed run rampant. Sadly, the greed and selfishness is of the warlords, dictators disguised as “royalty” and priests of many ilk, prevent donations meant to help the poor from ever reaching them.

“Instead of … sending them contraception … provide … medicine and clean water … schools and hospitals… modern farming techniques…” 

We cannot educate those who refuse to be educated, such as warlords, dictators, kings and priests. They do not wish to be educated. They are corrupt and not guided by the same moral values we hold. They have no desire to give up what they've won by blood and bullets or birth and are willing to hold on to with more blood and bullets. They do not choose to help their own peoples by fairly distributing the largesse provided by North Americans and Europeans. They use it instead as barter to buy more guns and ammunition to cement their privileged positions. Blame their materialism, not mine. I do not live in a gilded palace.  I do not have servants. I do not spend wildly on fast cars and big yachts. Do you, Mr. Edwards? Do many (or any) of the people you know and love?

“Preventing our neighbor from being born is not love, it's the very definition of selfishness and must be rejected.”

No, Mr. Edwards, I reject your selfish and dogmatic suggestion that a woman must have as many children as your particular god decrees — whether she can adequately care for them or not. When I say “care for” I include the words love, protect, feed, shelter, clothe, and educate. If a parent cannot do that, she should be encouraged not to produce more children. I think the hide-bound ideology your statement above indicates is a sin and inhuman, as well as inhumane and certainly shows a great lack of love for your fellow human beings as well as for this over-crowded little planet where we all live. Poverty-stricken people everywhere need real assistance, not prayers and dogma and me giving up my materialistic electric toaster and microwave oven will not help provide for them, but showing them ways to have fewer children just might.

This Web site, for any who are interested, shows three different organizations’ estimate of world population growth percentages. I find it quite telling.
Judy Griffith Gill
Cahuita, Limón

Education of women
is the key to birth rate

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to Mr. Edwards' letter.
 
The issue now is not reduction of the population along racial lines, but reduction of the overall population.  How?  Education of women is the key.

Check this fact:  The more education a woman has, the fewer children she chooses to have.  Your reference to a “demographic winter” is based on nations where women have full access to education.

Giving “alms” is never the answer.  What you do not work for, you do not value.  That’s why one of our sayings begins, "Give a man a fish…." – you know the rest.  Here, too, education is the answer.

As to your references to God, get a grip.  Whose god: Jew/Christian/Muslim?  Is that as far as your thinking goes?  How about ‘which god’ – Hindus have many. So do Native Americans.   We will get much further in discussions without reference to a deity.
Lawrence Torley
Aguacate



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Norman Schwarzkopf, 78,
dies at his Tampa home


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, 78, who commanded the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in 1991, has died.

Schwarzkopf died Thursday from complications from pneumonia in Tampa, Florida, where he lived.

A much-decorated combat soldier in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was known popularly as Stormin' Norman' because of his notoriously explosive temper. In 1991, he led Operation Desert Storm, which liberated Kuwait from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's forces.

Schwarzkopf lived in Tampa, where he served in his last military assignment as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command. That is the headquarters responsible for U.S. military and security concerns in nearly 20 countries from the eastern Mediterranean and Africa to Pakistan.

Schwarzkopf left active service in late 1991. In the aftermath of the Gulf War, there was some speculation that he might run for political office, but he never did.


U.S. shuts down embassy
in Central African Republic


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States has temporarily shut down its embassy in the Central African Republic and evacuated the staff, because of a rebel threat to topple the government.

A State Department spokesman Thursday said Washington is urging all parties to begin peace talks to offer a new vision of security for the country.

The United Nations already has evacuated non-essential staff from the country because of the threat of violence.

Rebel fighters are about 300 kilometers from the capital, Bangui.

The rebel coalition called Seleka has captured 10 towns since launching its offensive two weeks ago. It has threatened to overthrow President Francois Bozize, accusing him of failing to implement a 2007 peace accord that ended an earlier rebellion.


Nelson Mandela leaves
hospital for care at home

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

South African officials said former president Nelson Mandela has been released from a Pretoria hospital and will recover at his Johannesburg area home. The 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon spent 18 days in the hospital for a lung infection and gallstones.

A spokesman for the presidency said Mandela’s longest hospital stay in decades came to an end late Wednesday.

Spokesman Mac Maharaj said Thursday doctors felt they needed to keep the former president in the hospital for 18 days before releasing him to his home in Johannesburg’s Houghton suburb late Wednesday.

He was admitted to the Pretoria hospital Dec. 8, and officials said then it was for routine tests. They later said he had been diagnosed with a lung infection.

Days later spokesman Maharaj said Mandela was also operated on for gallstones.

This was Mandela’s second hospitalization this year.

In February, he was hospitalized for a long-standing stomach ailment. He also tested positive for tuberculosis in 1988, during his 27-year imprisonment for fighting racist white rule.

Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, after his release from prison. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his role in ending the racist apartheid system.


George H. W. Bush moved
to hospital intensive care


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush has been moved to an intensive care unit at a hospital in Houston, Texas.

The former president, 88, was admitted to the hospital last month suffering from bronchitis.  His spokesman says Bush was moved to the intensive care unit Sunday after a series of setbacks, including a persistent fever.  The spokesman says Bush continues to be alert and that doctors are cautiously optimistic about his treatment.  

The former president's wife, Barbara, and a son and grandson spent Christmas Day with Bush.  

Bush served as the 41st U.S. president from 1989 to 1993.  The highlight of his presidency was the international coalition he assembled that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in 1991.  

Bush also served as a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, ambassador to China and director of the CIA.  He was vice president from 1981 to 1989 under the late president Ronald Reagan.

His sons include the 43rd president, George W. Bush, and the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush.

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Cruz Roja treats 30 persons
injured by bulls at Zapote


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cruz Roja said Thursday that 30 persons have been treated after they had run-ins with bulls.

These are the so-called toreros improvidados or amateur bull fighters who get in the ring with a fighting animal.

The Cruz Roja said that 12 persons had to be hospitalized, but that number also included some of about 66 who were injured or became ill while visiting the carnival.

Bulls have short attention spans, and the mass of individuals in the ring generally distracts the animal. But even once in awhile, a bull zeros in on someone who has been antagonizing him and runs him down.

So far no deaths have been reported, but such tragedies are not unknown in the Costa Rican version of bull fighting, or more correctly bull baiting.

The operators of the rondel at the Zapote fairground charges admission for spectators to watch the antics with the bulls. Some of the toreros improvidados dress in elaborate costumes. One Christmas day had on a Batman costume. Some wear capes as a way of distracting the bull.

The rondel also hosts traditional bull riding in which participants try to stay on the animal, which is trained to cast them off.


Four men sped off but left
half kilo of marijuana behind


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They were near the church, but praying was not on their mind, the Fuerza Pública concluded.

Police said they encountered four men in a vehicle near the Roman Catholic church in San Pedro, but the men sped away when officers tried to approach them.

Police set up checkpoints to catch the individuals but they failed, according to a report, but they did recover a briefcase that contained a half kilo of marijuana prepared for use.


Head-on crash results
in death of one driver


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 31-year-old man died and two persons were injured during a head-on crash Thursday morning near Limón Centro.

Investigators identified the dead man by the last name of  Monge and said it appeared that he tried to pass and did not see an incoming vehicle. A woman in the second car went to  Hospital Tony Facio for treatment in stable condition. The driver, identified by the last name of González, suffered minor injuries. They are father and daughter, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.















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Reagan home
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This is the building at the heart of the debate.

Former Reagan home topic of debate

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan spent much of his life in California, but residents in the Midwestern state of Illinois note proudly that he was born and raised there.  He spent a brief period of his childhood in Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago, which is also President Barack Obama’s old neighborhood.  A debate is under way about the historic importance of Reagan’s old home, which faces the wrecking ball to make way for an expansion of the University of Chicago’s medical campus.

It is a nondescript building in a south Chicago neighborhood. But for some local residents, 832 East 57th St., in Hyde Park, is anything but ordinary.

Ronald Reagan lived here before he was president.

“President Reagan fondly recalled living there.  He spoke about the gaslit streets and borrowing soldiers from his neighbor.  So he had these fond memories of being there,” said Susan Davis, who lives in Hyde Park.  She wrote a book on the neighborhood's historic structures and says most people don't know that Reagan lived here in 1915. 

“It actually wasn’t discovered that he did live here until the ‘80s,” she said.

Which is partly why the home was ignored.  That is until the University of Chicago purchased the property with plans to tear it down to make way for an expanding medical campus.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks refused to grant the building landmark status, clearing the way for its demolition. Those with ties to the 40th president oppose the decision.

“If I was a Reagan person, I would probably be very upset,” said Daniel Weinberg, a presidential historian and owner of Chicago’s Abraham Lincoln Book Shop. The store honors the civil war president, who also lived in Illinois.  Weinberg is not convinced Reagan’s Chicago home is worth saving.

“One can’t save everything, and he was very young and was only here for a couple of years.  I understand that it's important, but what about every single place that he or any president lived?" Weinberg said.

The University of Chicago declined a request for an interview.  But Hyde Park Alderwoman Leslie Hairston says the school is communicating with her office and the community about a way to move forward with the demolition, while honoring President Reagan’s legacy in the area.

“We have had meetings with the community, and they found a way to respectfully commemorate President Reagan’s time there.  They are going to put a plaque there,” Ms. Hairston said.

U.S. financial pact seems unlikely


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Just days before Americans face massive automatic tax increases and deep federal spending cuts, Washington is showing no signs of forging a deficit reduction agreement to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.  Many lawmakers are absent from Washington altogether, and the rest are pointing fingers and casting blame.
 
Watching official Washington, one might not know the nation is teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff. President Barack Obama returned from a Hawaiian vacation Thursday with no events on his schedule. 
 
The House of Representatives is adjourned until Sunday.  The Senate is in session, but debating a bill governing U.S. intelligence gathering, not the budget.
 
That the House is closed for business at a critical time was noted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.
 
“I cannot imagine their consciences. They are out wherever they are around the country, and we are here trying to get something done," he said.
 
The House adjourned last week after Republican Speaker John Boehner failed to muster enough votes to pass an extension of federal tax rates for all income up to $1 million a year, far above the $250,000 cut-off sought by Democrats.
 
A clearly frustrated Reid accused Boehner of employing heavy-handed tactics to block legislation and cast America off the fiscal cliff.
 
“The House of Representatives is operating without the House of Representatives.  It is being operated with a dictatorship of the speaker," he said.
 
A spokesman for Speaker Boehner said: “Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more.”
 
In fact, both chambers are accusing the other of stymieing bills to avert the fiscal cliff.  A House-passed bill that would extend all tax cuts for all income groups has not been taken up in the Senate, while a Senate bill extending tax cuts for income up to $250,000 a year has not been considered in the House.
 
The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, recounted a recent telephone conversation he had with President Obama.
 
“Last night I told the president we would be happy to look at whatever he proposes.  But the truth is, we are coming up against a hard deadline here.  This is a conversation we should have had months ago," he said.


Soul singer Fontella Bass dies at 72

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

American soul singer Fontella Bass, 72, who topped the R&B chart in 1965 with the song "Rescue Me," died in St. Louis.

Ms. Bass died in hospice care Wednesday night from complications of a heart attack she suffered three weeks ago, her daughter, Neuka Mitchell, said. Ms. Bass had also suffered from strokes in recent years.

"She's going to be missed," Ms. Mitchell said. "Her big personality. Her love for family. Her big, giving heart and her cooking."

She was known as the "queen of soul food" to her family, Ms. Mitchell said.

Ms. Bass was born into a singing family in St. Louis. Her mother, Martha Bass, was a singer in the Clara Ward Singers gospel group. Her brother, the late R&B singer David Peaston, scored a handful of hits in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ms. Bass first achieved success dueting with Bobby McClure in 1965 on songs such as "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing" and "You'll Miss Me (When I'm Gone)," both of which were hits on the pop and R&B charts.

Ms. Bass' biggest hit came with "Rescue Me," which shot up the Billboard pop charts in the fall of 1965, becoming one of the most popular soul hits of all time.

"It held a special place in her heart," Ms. Mitchell said of the song. "She sang it every time she performed."

The song has been covered and sampled numerous times over the years, including by pop stars Linda Ronstadt and Cher, and more recently in 2000 by UK group Nu Generation, who remixed the song into a dance track.

Nu Generation's remix, "In Your Arms (Rescue Me)" hit the top 10 of the UK singles chart.

Ms. Bass had moderate success in later years with a gospel album in the 1990s, but was unable to emulate the popularity set by "Rescue Me."

She was married to jazz trumpeter and composer Lester Bowie. The two spent time living in Europe in the late 1960s and early 1970s before moving back to the United States.
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