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(506) 2223-1327               Published Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 3         E-mail us
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Third volcano decides to create a geological trio
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Central Valley residents now have the unusual situation of being in the middle of three misbehaving volcanoes.

The third mountain, Turrialba, gave forth with gas and ashes Tuesday afternoon, and the Comisión de Emergencia issued a green, preventative alert. Some 21 persons have been evacuated from their homes in La Pastora, the community closest to the volcano. The commission said that significant amounts of ash were found within three kilometers around the mountain.

Other sources said that some ash traveled miles from the mountain leaving a dusting in Cartago centro and in communities further to the southwest.

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The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias was not alarmist, but said that the national park around the volcano should be closed and that agency executives would hear a report today from geologists who will be inspecting the mountain. Vegetation around the caldera was seared.

Turrialba rises to 3,340 meters above sea level. That's 10,958 feet.   It's neighbor, Volcán Irazú, is 3,432 meters at the peak, some 11,256 feet. Turrialba is 16 kms (10 miles) northwest of the city of the same name. Irazú is just 25 kms (15.5 miles) from San José. Irazú has been belching acidic steam for the last year. Both volcanoes are believed to share the same geological roots.

There were major eruptions of Turrialba in the 19th century. Irazú dumped ash over much of the Central Valley when it erupted in 1963.

Volcán Poás, 45 kms (28 miles) northwest of San José, let out with a burst of steam, mud, rocks and vapor Christmas Day.

Both the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica of the Universidad
valcanoes
A.M. Costa Rica/U.S. Geological Survey
Location of the three belching volcanoes

Nacional in Heredia and the Red Sismológica Nacional of the Universidad de Costa Rica have the mountain under close watch with monitoring stations keeping continual track of activity.

Costa Rica has 112 volcanos, but the three around the Central Valley and Arenal are the best known to tourists. They are grossly underestimated. Each has the capacity to destroy the Central Valley.

A University of California at Santa Barbara study shows that the cities and towns of the Central Valley, including San José, were built on the vast flow deposit that was produced by an eruption more than 300,000 years ago. If the same eruption were to occur today, within a matter of hours the entire Central Valley and all of its major cities would be awash in hot ash and pumice which would end up covering the entire area with a new deposit up to several hundred feet thick, according to Phillip B. Gans, associate professor of geology at the university. He was quoted in a 2003 article.

"The Costa Ricans were not around for the last big one," Gans told the Geological Society of America "But it's inevitable (that there will be) another pyroclastic flow like the last big one in Costa Rica, (and it) will make the Mount St. Helens eruption look like nothing."

Pyroclastic flows are high-speed avalanches of hot ash, rock fragments, and gas that roar down the sides of volcanoes during explosive eruptions, or when the steep edge of a dome breaks apart and collapses. These flows, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and move at 100 to 150 mph, are capable of knocking down and burning everything in their paths.


Keep volcanic ash from building up, emergency commission says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission says that if volcanic ash piles up more than 10 centimeters (about four inches) on a roof, the owner should shovel off the material.

That was one tip that was issued after Volcán Turrialba erupted Tuesday. Costa Ricans got a strong taste of living with ashes in 1963 when fallout from eruptions at Irazú coated the metro area. Now the emergency commission says that residents can put tape around the windows and cover the spaces around doors and other entrances with wet rags.

Another big concern are gutters and downspouts. The commission said that filters should be installed to protect them from too much ash.

And a big concern today that did not exist in 1963 is electronic equipment. Ashes have to be kept out, said the commission. Another recommendation is to avoid drinking water or eating foods that contain ash. Let the ash settle, said the commission of contaminated water.

And finally the commission urges Costa Ricans to
caldera of Turrialba
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica.
The Turrialba caldera from a file photo

use vacuum cleaners to pick up any residue. For those North Americans who endured the Mount St. Helen eruption, the measures may seem obvious. 

At this point only a few homes in the vicinity of the volcano are faced with significant amounts of abrasive ash. But Turrialba in 1866 sent measurable ash some 465 kms (288 miles) into Nicaragua, according to the records of the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 3

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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three kings
Traditional view of the Three Wise Men

It's another day for giving,
thanks to the Three Kings

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Parents, you are not off the hook yet.

Today is the Día de los Reyes Magos, and the kids are expecting presents.  It is the Latin tradition for a secondary round of gift-giving on the traditional day that the three kings arrived at the manger in which the baby Jesus lay. The kings or magicians brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In a few Latin countries, the evening of Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 is the primary day of gift-giving to children, but not in Costa Rica.
The kings also are called wise men or magicians. They are mentioned in scripture only by Matthew. But they have been immortalized in tradition.

The tradition even is infiltrating the United States. Wal-Mart in Houston had a Three Kings Day in 2008 where actors dressed as the wise men visited the company's stores. That is traditional in Spain and in parts of México.

Television time allocated
to presidential candidates

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sistema Nacional de Radio y Television is presenting the presidential candidates on three Tuesdays leading up to the Feb. 7 elections.

The shows will concentrate on foreign policy, said the organization that operates Canal 13. The shows will be from 6 to 7 p.m., starting with Ottón Solís of the Partido Acción Ciudadana Jan. 12. The following week on Jan. 19, the candidate is Otto Guevara of Movimiento Libertario. Jan. 26 has been allocated for the Partido Liberación Nacional candidate Laura Chinchilla. She will be represented by Nuria Marín Raventós, a possible foreign minister in a Chinchilla government.

The television organization said that topics will include opening and closing embassies, approach to Arab states, the case of Palestine and Israel, the relationship of Costa Rica with Taiwan and the People's Republic, the ALBA oorganization promoted by Hugo Chávez and petroleum politics.

Ex-Special Forces soldier
to address American Legion


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Stanley Salas is a Costa Rican who moved to Brooklyn, New York, when he was 12. After high school, he entered the U.S. Army where he served 22 years, 17 of them in the Special Forces.

Salas, who operates Stan's Pub in Zapote will be sharing his experiences with members of American Legion Post 120 today at noon at the Bello Horizonte Country Club.

The pub is unique in that Salas has decorated one room with military memorabilia, including his uniform. He holds a Bronze Star and a Legion of Merit.

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Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 3





National map shows the estimated location of all the earthquakes registered by the  Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica during 2009

earthquake
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica graphic

Country endured 6,000 earthquakes during the last year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 6,000 earthquakes took place in Costa Rica during 2009, but most were not felt by humans.

Contrary to popular belief, two quakes had magnitudes greater than the 6.2 event that destroyed Cinchona and surrounding areas Jan. 8.

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica reported a 6.3 quake took place March 11 about 12 kms (about 7.5 miles) south of Golfito and a 6.5 quake the following day about 280 kms (about 174 miles) south of  Punta Burica.

At least 34 people died as a result of the Cinchona quake and some still are missing. The deaths and damage took place because the quake caused a number of steep slopes to collapse, taking buildings and roadways with them.

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico  said that
about 100 quakes were felt somewhere in Costa Rica. Not counted are the dozens of replications and aftershocks from the Jan. 8 quake.

The Golfito area saw nine quakes in March alone and three each in May, August and September. The observatory attributed these events to the subduction of the Coco tectonic plate under the Panamá plate.

In 2009, the observatory said that the central Pacific received far fewer quakes than is normal. This is the area most active in Costa Rica, the observatory said. The biggest felt quake here was one Nov. 8 about 40 kms (about 25 miles) west of Puerto Cortés with a magnitude of 4.8.

There were four other felt quakes in the area northwest of Dominical and northwest and northeast of Quepos, the observatory said.

If the Cinchona quake did not take place, 2009 would have been a very calm year for quakes, the observatory said.


U.S. high court to hear tiny, important issue on child custody
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday in a case that seeks to define an aspect of custody rights under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The mother involved is a U.S. citizen. The father is British, and the prior country of residence of the child is Chile. The child is now in the United States. The issue seems to be a very technical one, but legal observers said they believe the case will have an impact on international child custody battles where one parent abducts a child to or from the United States.

Timothy and Jacquelyn Abbott were married in 1992 in England, and their son was born in Hawaii in 1995. They divorced in Chile, and the court there gave custody of the child to the mother and gave the father visitation rights. A key element of the decision was that the court in Chile issued a ne exeat order preventing either parent from taking the child from Chile without the agreement of the other.

Mrs. Abbott took her son to Texas without the consent of the ex-husband, who managed to locate the boy. He went to court and said that the Hague convention required that a child who has been removed contrary to a custody order be returned to the country of residence. The technical question
is if the ne exeat order represents a right of custody.

A trial court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the wife that the legal order only provides a right of access to the father and not a right of custody. Her lawyers also argued that having custody also means having the right to choose where the child lives.

A number of organizations have filed briefs that support the position of one or the other parent. Some domestic violence organizations said they fear that accepting the order as a right of custody would prevent wives from fleeing from abuse.

A decision for the father by the Supreme Court would strengthen the rights of non-custodial parents involved in international parenting disputes.

The main goal of the Hague convention is to insure that the legal decisions of one country are respected in another. The international treaty is designed to prevent spouses from shopping for a favorable venue for their custody battles.

The Abbott case involves a U.S. mother trying to keep her son there contrary to a custody decision in another country. In Costa Rica the situation usually is a mother trying to keep her child or children here in the face of a custody decision in another country, frequently the United States.

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U.S. to spend $7 billion to bring Internet to the poor

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire sevices

The U.S. government is spending more than $7 billion to bring high speed Internet access to all Americans. It is a huge infrastructure project and its goal is to make sure every American, including those who live in impoverished urban and rural areas, can take advantage of the World Wide Web.

At an office computer and Internet skills class at Byte Back, a non-profit organization in Washington, many adult students had never touched a computer or explored the World Wide Web before enrolling in the class.

Student Shelia Melvin says she has discovered the value of Internet access.

"Maybe seven years ago you'd see WWW and blah blah blah and I'd think why do people need this. Lo-and-behold, you can't do anything without a WWW. Nothing," Ms. Melvin said. "It's just entwined in your life now. I can't imagine myself without it."
 
Surveys show about one in four Americans have no Internet access at all. That makes for millions who cannot e-mail their doctor or submit an application for a job or take a class online.

The U.S. Congress has given the Federal Communications Commission until Feb. 17 to come up with a plan to bring broadband Internet access to all Americans. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski explains why the plan is important.
"More and more Americans depend on the Internet every day, at home, at work, in school, at our desks, and on the move. The Internet connects us to our family and friends, to the universe of knowledge, and to the working of our nation's democracy," he said. "We face great challenges as a nation right now: health care, education, energy, public safety. While broadband Internet alone won't provide a complete solution to any of those problems, it can and must play a critical role in solving each one."

Many Americans can access the Internet on everything from a desktop computer to a handheld phone.

But one in four Americans, particularly those in rural and impoverished areas, often lack access to the Internet. Many of the students at Byte Back live in a low-income neighborhood in Washington.

"Everyone in this country needs high-speed Internet access, and it must be available to all. It cannot be priced at a level where only certain people have access, because then you are cutting entire sections of our country out of involvement in the world," explained Kelly Ellsworth, Byte Back's executive director.

Byte Back provides free computer classes, free computers, and access to the Internet. Students like Ms. Melvin say they are hoping to use their newly mastered computer and Internet skills to do such basic tasks as apply for a job online. But first, the government needs to hammer out its plan on how to spend the money to increase Internet access.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 3


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Cuba says U.S. restrictions
amount to type of paranoia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuba has described as "anti-terrorist paranoia" new U.S. rules that tighten security checks for airline passengers who travel from or through the Caribbean island and 13 other countries en route to the United States.

Cuban authorities criticized the new security policies Monday in an article published in the state-run Granma newspaper.  The article noted that the United States accuses Cuba of supporting terrorism.

The new security procedures follow the botched Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner traveling from Amsterdam.

There are no regular commercial flights between Cuba and the U.S., but charter flights connect the U.S. with the Communist-led island.

Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama eased restrictions on travel and money transfers by Cuban-Americans to family members in Cuba.  The president, however, said the long-standing U.S. embargo against Cuba would remain in place until Havana takes steps toward democratic reforms.

Cuba is one of four nations on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, along with Iran, Sudan and Syria.

As if to underline the paranoia claim,  U.S. officials say a suspicious material found in a passenger's bag that triggered a security scare at a California airport Tuesday actually turned out to be bottles of honey.

The scare caused a shutdown at the Meadows Field Airport in the city of Bakersfield, and a hazardous material crew and bomb squad were called to the scene.

Two Transportation Security Administration officers were also treated and released from the hospital after being exposed to what were described as fumes from the bottles. Police say they are investigating to determine why the incident happened. They said the owner of the bag has been cooperating.

Security at U.S. airports has been tightened since a Nigerian man's botched attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas Day.
 
U.S. yanks visas from some
after a security review


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The State Department said Tuesday it has revoked U.S. travel visas for a number of individuals after a Nigerian man with a visa to travel to the United States tried to bring down a jetliner over Detroit Dec. 25. Officials say the number of revocations is not large and that the United States wants to remain a welcoming country for legitimate business and tourist travelers.

The State Department says it has revoked the U.S. visas of a number of individuals including the Nigerian jailed for the attempted Christmas day bombing, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as part of an inter-agency security upgrade spurred by the Detroit incident.

President Barack Obama cited a failure of the security system after it was revealed that the jailed Nigerian's father had gone to the U.S. embassy in Abuja before the incident to voice concern about his son's apparent radicalization and visit to Yemen. An account of the embassy conversation was relayed to counter-terrorism officials in Washington but the son's U.S. travel visa was not rescinded.

At a news briefing, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley said that as a result of the administration's ongoing security review, multiple individuals have had U.S. visas revoked and others added to U.S. no-fly and terrorism watch lists. Crowley said the upgrade was global in scope but said it was not fruitful to provide a specific number of those affected.

The spokesman said about 1,700 U.S. travel visas had been revoked for security reasons since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
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A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 3


Latin American news
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Music institute to test
applicants for aptitude


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Children between 7 and 12 are invited to try out for the Instituto Nacional de la Música, a chain of state-sponsored schools around the country.

Those who apply need not have had musical experience in the past. For two years the youngsters will study various musical topics and then be allowed to choose an instrument.

The purpose of the selection process is to assess aptitude for music, said the institute. Testing cost 5,000 colons, which can be paid on the same day as the test.

No appointment is necessary for the testing.  Youngsters and their parents can visit the institute facilities in Moravia Jan. 11, 12 or 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. The location is 100 meters west of the former Colegio Lincoln, 100 meters south and 100 meters west.

The selection list will be published Jan. 14 after noon. The institute has room for about 200 students, it said. More than 1,000 are enrolled now.


Drug trafficking fugitive
captured in Coto Brus

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man wanted since 2007 to serve eight years on a drug trafficking charge finally was detained Monday night at his mother's home in La Pintada de San Vito, Coto Brus.

The Fuerza Pública said officers made the arrest after visiting the home first in the daytime and then returning at night. They were asked to try to locate the man, identified by his last names of Brenes Núñez, by judicial agents.

During the first visit, family members denied that the man was in the area. At night officers guarded the rear exit of the home when other officers went to the front door. The man was captured fleeing from the rear door, said officers.

Criminal defendants frequently are let free even after being convicted while their sentence is reviewed by a higher court. Many use this time to flee.




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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details