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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 196                          Email us
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Mar Vista

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson     
Stalin Navarro Granados, a Kung Fu
practitioner, shows his skill with
a traditional Chinese drum.
The event was a cultural display.
Our story is HERE!
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This armillary sphere is of the type that
would have been known to Columbus.
This computing device is part
of the new exhibit at the Museo Nacional.
Our story is HERE!

Controversial garbage-fed power plant still on track
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials at Costa Rica's agency in charge of environmental regulation confirmed that they are evaluating a proposed energy plant that will burn garbage to produce energy near Barranca, Puntarenas.

The project has caused controversy in the past two months with some residents citing the environmental and health risks that they say such a plant would create.

Nonetheless, the proposal has passed through numerous government bodies and is now back in the hands of the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental for a final study.

“The project is in evaluation,” said Marita Alvarado Velas, the geologist in charge of studying the plant in the agency's Departamento de Evaluacion Ambietal.

Ms. Alvarado said that the project cannot move forward until her agency has studied and approved the project. She could not estimate how long the study would take. A spokesperson for the company said that the approval process will likely take another six months and construction will take another six months to a year.

While many have concerns about the consequences of burning garbage on the environment and health, others believe that such plants, otherwise known as incinerators, can solve growing landfill problems without these other consequences if the process is well controlled and regulated.

Company spokesperson Edwin Dobner takes issue with the term incinerator, a term that he said stirs up negative connotations that do not reflect the reality of what the power plant will do.

“This project is not an 'incinerator' per se, and it would be incorrect to characterize it as such because for the lay person that implies contamination, in the form of increased greenhouse gas production,” said Dobner in an email. “In fact, modern gasification technologies for municipal solid waste represent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to a standard landfill.”

Dobner added that decomposing garbage releases far more greenhouse gases over time than burning it in a controlled process. He said that the process will relieve pressure on garbage dumps while converting trash into energy and creating jobs.

However, an ecologist and a resident of the nearby town of Miramar, Julio Müller, disputes some of these claims in a blog about the issue. He said in an email that Costa Rica does not have the
infrastructure to safely handle the leftover ash that the plant would produce.

The proposed plant, Puntarenas Waste Energy, will be owned and operated by Environmental Power E.P.C.R. S.A., otherwise known as EnPower.

Dobner said that the company began searching for a site in 2005. The company had almost gained approval for a site in 2010 on land that it did not own but had negotiated a deal to use. That land was repossessed from the owner by the bank and sold to someone else.

EnPower has been getting approval on its new site, which is in the same community as the previous one, since last October.

However, the project has been gaining more attention since August. That month, Müller and a group of bloggers under the name Grupo Miramar al Grano started a blog, “Environmental Power en Costa Rica – Incinderadora Barranca calienta,” that sharply condemns the project and the use of gasification to generate energy overall.  Müller also wrote a blog condemning a gold mining project in Costa Rica.

Müller said in an email that Costa Rica lacks the necessary landfills to dispose of hazardous materials  in the ashes that result from burning garbage. He added that very little energy comes out of these incinerators overall.

“Despite what industry and government and local media would like people to believe, incineration is not a green solution to waste problems, it will cause even more problems, nobody in this country is able and willing to solve,” said Müller in the email.

On Sept. 12, writers of the blog called on numerous levels of government, as low as the municipality of Puntarenas and as high as President Laura Chinchilla, to put an immediate stop to the incinerator. They also demanded that all levels of government reject incinerators in the future and adopt recycling programs.

A Sept. 20 report in La Voz Liberacionista put out by the political party said that the company had lost its land-use permit in Puntarenas and was unlikely to regain it. Dobner said he has documents proving that EnPower does in fact have all of its necessary permits and they are all active, including the land-use permit from Puntarenas.

After the environmental regulation agency completes its viability study, Dobner said that there are three or more key certifications it must get before construction can begin.  Dobner said that he expects the project to be finished in one and a half years at the most.

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Castillo tells U.N. Assembly
that organization is vital

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The crisis in Syria, terrorism and environmental degradation underscore the vital need for the United Nations, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister, Enrique Castillo Barrantes told the General Assembly Monday. This is the time of year when representatives from every nation make speeches there.

“One year ago, we came to this assembly encouraged by an echo of hope from North Africa and the Middle East,” the foreign minister said, referring to the Arab Spring that saw entrenched regimes ousted in popular uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and noting that the hopeful clamour still persists in the complex transition to democracy.

“Today, however, the sound most strongly resonating in this hall is the desperate scream of women and children in Syria,” he added, citing the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, in which more than 18,000 people have been killed over the past 19 months, among a range of global issues of concern which included the resurgence of territorial conflicts, the rhetoric of war among some states, terrorism, drug, trafficking, organized crime and environmental deterioration.

He also was critical of Nicaragua and its invasion into Costa Rican territory.

“These challenges alert us to many dangers. However, they also reiterate the seminal importance of this organization and of the multilateral system,” he stated, noting that the Central American region was particularly impacted by the onslaught of drug trafficking and international organized crime.

“Costa Rica considers it necessary to develop a more active link between the United Nations and the design and implementation of well-balanced strategies towards the drug trade,” Castillo said, calling for U.N. reform, including expanding the 15-member Security Council and improving its working methods.

“It is necessary, moreover, that drug traffickers be viewed as a real threat to peace and international security.”

He noted that environmental, social and economic vulnerabilities are among the reasons why middle income countries, like Costa Rica, still need the support of the international community to consolidate improvements in economic conditions and human development.

“Let's not forget that our achievements are due, in part, to the proper use of cooperation,” he said. “To eliminate it because it has been well used would be a fatal contradiction.”

Castillo said that international law was Costa Rica's only instrument of defense. He recounted the situation with Nicaragua and said that Nicaragua has tricked the World Court and has continued to send persons into the disputed territory.

Find out what the papers
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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.

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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 196
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lion dance
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
The traditional lion dance or mock battle attracts the attention of spectators.
Chinese culture gives a colorful display in downtown plaza
By Kayla Pearson   
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad de San José and Asociación China de Costa Rica came together Monday to celebrate Día de la Cultura China with the community in the Plaza de la Cultura.

Chinese culture day was established in 2003 to be celebrated the first week of October. 

No specific day was noted, just the stipulation that the integration of the Chinese and Costa Rican cultures was celebrated within the week, said Samuel San from the association.

Francisco Lei, a Chinese Costa Rican Kung Fu professor who studied in China and returned to teach martial arts in this country, showcased his students to the crowd.

The students performed stretch routines and a series of drills with Chinese kwan da sword and nunchaku to the beat of drums and cymbals.  They also dressed in a lion costume for a Danza de León demonstration.

The lion dance is a Chinese traditional dance and is something many Kung Fu schools have adopted to show powerful moves and stance.  The dance itself has many meanings including positive energy, said San.

Kung Fu
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Kung Fu student displays a warm-up techinque.

San praised the whole Kung Fu art form for requiring a lot of sacrifice and a lot of dedication.

Participants also were welcomed to listen to Chinese music from a group of nonprofessionals who loved the music and also formed lines to get their names written in Chinese characters based on the name pronunciation.

Flap over kids learning to shoot outlines cultural difference
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An obvious cultural difference between Costa Ricans and the United States surfaced Sunday when the Spanish-language daily newspaper ran a news story reporting that youngsters were learning to shoot at various rifle and pistol ranges.

A handful of pistol ranges reported that some youngsters had trained there. The newspaper also reported a critical comment from the security ministry and later said that the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the child welfare agency, and the Fundación Arias would seek legislation to end the practice.

A news story today said that President Laura Chinchilla would seek a law to prohibit youngsters from shooting.

Meanwhile in the United States, a Boy Scout can earn a merit badge with both rifle and shotgun and with an air pistol.

The 4-H program, which is under the guidance of the state land grant universities also has a youth program for pistol shooting.

USA Shooting, which is the firearms organization connected with the U.S. Olympic Committee recognizes a sub-junior competitor as a youngster under the age of 14.

Several types of shooting are Olympic sports.

Rachael Heiden, who is now 21, appears on the USA Shooting Web site talking about how she joined her first shooting team
  at age 11. She was a gold medalist in the 2012 national championships.

The National Rifle Association runs a safety program for pre-kindergarten through third grade students. The program is not to learn about shooting or to handle weapons.  The children are taught to avoid weapons and if they see one they should report the find to an adult.

The program began in 1988 and has reached 25 million children, the association said.

Some of the programs for youngsters use air rifles and pistols. But these are not the type of device that can be picked up in the local shopping center. A competitive air pistol for a new shooter can cost $600 and emits a projectile at 500 feet per second. The Lewis and Clark expedition was equipped with an air rifle that fired a .46-caliber slug and could discharge 20 rounds without reloading.

It was used to demonstrate the expedition's power to native tribes that were encountered along the way.

The Costa Rican government is trying to reduce the number of firearms in the society. Still there are shootings nearly every day. One case involved two men who were wounded in their arms during a dispute near the Museo de los Niños about 6 p.m. Sunday.

Police said Monday that a young man killed himself after he accidentally killed a friend with a pistol in Puntarenas..

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 196
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Fort Matina
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
This is the model of the colonial fort at San Fernando de Matina.
Contribution of Italians to exploration featured at museum
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Museo Nacional opened it's new exhibit "Il Nuovo Mundo: La influencia cultural de los Italianos en América," Friday in order to give visitors a glimpse of the Italian contribution to the new world beyond being named after Italian Américo Vespucio.

To reach the display, persons must follow an underground passage into a five-room catacomb, a journey that gives the impression of going on an archeological hunt.  The walls are filled with 20 different 15th and 16th century maps from craftsmen such as Johannes Ruysch and Francesco Rosselli. 

The exhibit is the first of its kind, in that no other museum has provided this much information on the topic, said the museum. Everything is made to look preserved and is displayed in earth tone colors of green, brown and white.

Italians were in a prime geographical position for trade and therefore controlled the trade routes, the museum noted.  Each state of Italy had developed its own wealth without control from any monarchy.

The 15th and 16th century was a time for artistic, literary, scientific and philosophical renaissance. 

The invention and spread of the printing press in the mid-15th century was what drove the Italians to put within the reach of large majorities and lower cost knowledge of new discoveries and access to books and maps.

This increase in scientific and technological knowledge also enabled Italian intellectuals to improve instruments and techniques of navigation and the design of new boats.  Maps and nautical charts were made more precise, and there was a greater understanding of the sun and the stars to navigate. This all allowed Christopher Columbus to move west.

A few of these instruments are on display. One of the main attractions is a boat replica made from decorating the top and sides of a stage with flags and anchors.  During this age of discovery, two new types of ships were designed, the nao and the caravel.  These boats were more appropriate for crossing high seas.

Those who are better entertained by interactive exhibits may enjoy the origami boat lesson.  Persons are instructed to write a thought about the New World on their finished work in order to be displayed later for future patrons.
Incased in the hall not far from the boat is an armillary sphere, a model of the celestial sphere used to show the movement of stars around the earth or the sun.  This instrument is constructed on a skeleton of graduated circles showing the
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Mariner's astrolabe is one display. The instrument really is a mechanical computer to solve problems of time and location.

equator, the ecliptic, meridians and astronomical parallel.

Another instrument, the astrolabe, can be seen in another room.  It was used for taking the altitude of stars at sea.

In the far back, a room is dedicated to fort plans in many Central American countries including Honduras, Nicaragua and Panamá. A scale model of the Fort of San Fernando de Matina that includes trees, rivers and boats serves as the centerpiece of this display.

To conclude, exhibitors have included the Italians impact on Costa Rica.  According to poster texts, migrants from Italian states settled mostly in Cartago. Here they participated in political life.

Overall the exhibit is full of information, that is presented in a lackluster fashion.  Those who like to walk and read maps and texts of the past will enjoy what it has to offer.  They just have to bring their language dictionaries because the whole display is in Spanish.

After finding the hidden packages of marijuana, officers had to put the drug in bags and label them as evidence.

Officials said there might be more than the 905 kilos on the island.
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa

Tiny island in Caribbean yields hidden stash of marijuana
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A lengthy investigation resulted in a law enforcement raid Monday on the Isla Uvita at Limón.  There officers uncovered at least 905 kilos of marijuana believed to have been imported from Jamaica. The security ministry said that seven persons were arrested.

The investigation included the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas, the Judicial Investigating Organization and other agencies.

The island is just 420 meters (1,379 feet) long and 315 meters (1,033 feet) wide, according to online sources. The island is less that 3,000 feet off shore in the Caribbean. Photos released by the security ministry showed a large dwelling on the island. There also is a concrete dock in one photo.

This is the point where Christopher Columbus made repairs on
 his ships during his fourth and final voyage to the New World.

Officials said that they might find more of the marijuana packages.

Importing marijuana is a relatively new crime. Much of the southern part of Limón province is prime marijuana-growing territory because there are high mountains and hidden valleys.

Fuerza Pública officers find, uproot and burn thousands of marijuana plants there each year.

However, smugglers have taken to importing more potent varieties from Jamaica. Frequently small boats used by smugglers are caught at sea by combined U.S. and Costa Rica patrols. One boat crew fell into police hands, and U.S. Navy and Coast Guard crewmen at sea recovered more than 4,000 pounds of marijuana that eventually was turned over to prosecutors here.

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Venezuelan U.N. envoy
calls for restructuring

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

In calling for significant reform of the United Nations, Venezuela’s representative to the world body, Ambassador Jorge Valero, told the U.N. General Assembly Monday that a “re-foundation of the United Nations is necessary” with a new international order based on the “legal equality of states.”

Addressing the 67th Assembly’s General Debate at U.N. Headquarters, Valero described such a leveling as an unavoidable demand as he enumerated the changes Venezuela sought of key U.N. institutions.

“The Security Council must be democratized in order to express the will of all countries,” Valero said. “The General Assembly demands revitalization, and the secretary general must be elected democratically by all member states. International peace and security cannot be built on the basis of the privileges of the few.”

He also called for the U.N. to address a reform of the global and economic financial system, and said all countries must have an equal voice in the search for solutions to issues related to development.

On the global economic crisis, the Ambassador said capitalism is trying to overcome the crisis affecting global economic and financial structures by “appealing to new imperialist methods and the super-exploitation of workers even in developed countries.”

Maryland voters are asked
to give illegals tuition break

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

This November, voters in the eastern U.S. state of Maryland will decide whether to uphold a state law giving some illegal immigrants tuition breaks at state-run universities and community colleges.

Maryland could become the 12th state in the nation to offer undocumented immigrants lower tuition for higher education.

There are at least 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. In June, President Barack Obama issued an executive order allowing many who are under 30 to remain and work in the United States temporarily.

Ivette Roman is one of those people impacted by the presidential decree. Born in Peru, she's one of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. She grew up in Maryland and, as a high school graduate with honors, was looking forward to attending a university in the state.

"I was super excited," Roman says. "I was like 'Yes! I am finally going to college and pursue my dream.'"

But that dream is on hold for now.  Roman's status as an illegal immigrant means she's not eligible for same lower tuition rates at state-run colleges and universities as other Maryland residents. 

Now, immigrant rights groups are urging Maryland voters to say yes to a plan offering in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. It's a referendum on a law passed by the state legislature last year.

If voters approve, undocumented immigrants will receive in-state tuition if they attend a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year state college or university. Parents would have to pay state income taxes for five years and plan to become permanent residents.

U.S. will give Vietnam loan
for new telecom satellite

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States says it will give Vietnam a loan of more than $100 million to buy a telecommunications satellite from a U.S. company.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank Monday said the Vietnamese state-owned company, Vietnam Post, will use the satellite to meet the growing demand of telecommunications and television markets. The bank said the satellite will provide coverage to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

The bank says the U.S. company, Lockheed Martin, will make the technology and that the deal will support more than 500 American jobs.

It says President Barack Obama was required to approve the $118 million loan because of its size and because it is granted to what it called a Marxist-Leninist country.

Tectonic plate in Asia seems
to be breaking in half

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Perched atop the notorious Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines and volcanoes in the Pacific Basin, earthquakes are an almost weekly occurrence in Indonesia. After close analysis of a mammoth earthquake that struck the island of Sumatra this April, scientists in the U.S. say the quake indicates the Indo-Australian tectonic plate is now splitting in two.

The 8.7-magnitude quake that struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra this April sent shockwaves, literally, around the globe.

After extensively studying the quake and its aftermath, scientists say the rupture is unprecedented. It was the biggest slip-strike, or horizontal rather than vertical quake, ever recorded.

Seismologists say the April 11 quake caused four fault lines to rupture almost simultaneously.

Jamie McCaughey is a geologist from the Earth Observatory in Singapore, an institute that studies earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

He says the recent study in the scientific journal Nature confirms that the Indian-Australian tectonic plate is splitting in two.

“The evidence is very clear that, and what the authors describe is that, the earthquake is really just illustrating a long-term process and teaching us more about it, that the sea floor of the Indian Australian plate is slowly becoming two separate plates and this earthquake illustrated that process unfolding,” said McCaughey.

It is expected to take millions of years for the plate to divide completely, but the study also shows how earthquakes can trigger other quakes, weeks, and even years after they occur.

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Little Theatre offering
showcases two sisters

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Starting Oct. 12, The Little Theatre Group will present a production of “Looking for the Pony,” a 2009 off-Broadway play by Andrea Lepcio. 

The plot chronicles three years of the lives of Eloise and Bethany, two stepsisters played by Silvia Schneegans and Bethany Skipper, who are both going through ordeals that will change their once-normal routines forever. 

The younger sister is offered a half scholarship to study with a famous writer, and leaves her well-paying financial job to pursue her dreams.  Doctors find a lump in the breast of the older sister, and she begins to battle cancer.

Although the two women are in two different places, they use each other for support and ultimately realize and heal old wounds while coming to new understandings, a release said.

The sisters also learn from the new people which come into their lives such as doctors, cancer patients, teachers, fellow students and rabbis.  A small team of actors directed by Annette Hallett will change costume and personality throughout the play to portray these characters, the theater group said.

“The pony in the title refers to the fable of two children who always look for the bright side of any situation,” the Little Theatre Group said.  “In a roomful of manure they can be found looking for the pony.”

“Looking for the Pony” show times are Oct. 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sundays in Teatro Laurence Olivier. 

The theater is at the crossing of Avenida 2 and Calle 28 adjacent to Sala Garbo.

Tickets are 6,000 colons for adults, 5,500 colons for group members and 2,500 colons for students.  Special rates are given to groups of 10 persons or more.

Reservations can be made on the Web site or by phone 8858-1446.  

Number of police officers
going up in center of city

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública chief said that the number of police will be increased by 100 in the center of San José and that 24 officers will be on bicycles.

The chief, Juan José Andrade Morales, said that this is just the first step and that by Nov. 15 some 200 more officers will be assigned to the city.

Police also will be erecting more towers from which officers can watch the crowds. A tower at Plaza de la Cultura that was erected for Christmas last year has been used since.

The police effort at Christmas is designed to protect workers who receive a 13th month pay as an annual bonus.

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