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These stories were first pubished Friday, Oct. 5, 2001
Photos courtesy of Fundación Delfin de Costa Rica
Orcas and several different types of dolphin, including spinners (right), are among species in area

 
Osa group on Internet pushes for marine sanctuary
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents in the Drake Bay area in far southwest Costa Rica have taken to the Internet to win support for a marine sanctuary.

They have posted a petition on ThePetitionsite.com to draw attention to their efforts. They want at least 5,000 signatures from all over the world. They have now about 926, according to a check of the site.

One of the prime movers is Sierra Sequeira, who owns Delfin Amor Eco Lodge there and is president of Fundación Delfin de Costa Rica. She said Thursday that she and her associates, three of whom are marine biologists, have spent a year documenting the vast range of wildlife that inhabits the area between Caño Island and the northwest shore of the Osa Peninsula that abuts Drake Bay.

The idea is to convince the Costa Rican Tourism Board and other official agencies to create the Costa Rica South Pacific Tropical Marine Sanctuary, a type of entity that does not now exist in Costa Rican law. They hope to begin with a stretch of ocean about 12 kilometers (about 7.2 miles) square. 

Their primary concern, said Ms. Sequeira, is to halt long-line fishing and shrimp trawling in the area. The initial outcome would be something less than an ocean national park, which exists in Costa Rica, but she said she believes even a sanctuary will be great for tourism.

Shrimpers disturb the sea floor and long-line fishing can catch dolphin and whales. she said. The group also hopes to persuade the Costa Rican government to create more regulations for human encounters with dolphin and whales.

In the area of the proposed sanctuary are at least 25 species of dolphins, whales and sea turtles, Ms. Sequeira said. She has been in Drake Bay since December 1998. The foundation has created the Delfin Amor Marine Education Center to help visitors enjoy the marine life.

The online petition may be found at:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/
takeaction/112156489

The foundation Web site is at:

http://www.fundelfin-costa-rica.org/

The group explains on its Web site the unique environmental conditions that create the special area for many forms of sea life:

"Costa Rica enjoys one of the most biologically diverse ocean ecosystems in the world. This is mainly because the heart of a vast habitat known as the Costa Rican Thermal Convection Dome (named for its proximity to this country), lies here. 

"Shallow, warm waters lie on top of low-oxygen cold water, creating the perfect ecosystem for a vast variety of marine life. The dome off the coast of Costa Rica is the only one in the world that is constant. Whales, dolphins, tuna, marlin, manta rays, sea turtles, sailfish and more all congregate near the Costa Rican coasts, taking advantage of this year-round dome of ecologically rich waters."

The Drake Bay area is about six hours by motor vehicle south and west of San José and another hour by boat. There also are commercial air flights to the area.



 
Shot heard round the world came 50 years ago

 


Ralph Branca
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Bobby Thompson
 
 
 

Photos courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

By Neal Lavon
A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Fifty years ago what most sports fans consider the greatest baseball game ever played took place in New York. It was played between two bitter rivals on a national stage. For one of those rivals, it ended in bitter defeat. But for another, it was a surprise and dramatic victory. 

On Oct. 3, 1951, the "Bums", the colorful nickname for the professional team known as the Brooklyn Dodgers, and their longtime bitter crosstown rivals, the New York Giants, faced each other for the baseball championship of the National League. 

 The winner would move on to face the New York Yankees, champions of the American League. At that time, the two eight-team leagues constituted the North American professional Major Leagues, the pinnacle of baseball competition. A best-of-three playoff began Oct. 1 in the Dodgers' home park of Ebbets Field. The Giants won that game, 3-1. The next day, the scene shifted to the Giants' home park, the Polo Grounds, where the Dodgers won, 10-0. Then came the third and pivotal game at the Polo Grounds Oct. 3.

New York City and much of the nation ground to a standstill. Local radio stations and national networks were on hand to broadcast the game. Stock tickers reported the score along with the ups and downs of the market, and the playoff was the first baseball series to be broadcast live coast-to-coast on the new medium of television. 

The Dodgers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Behind pitcher Don Newcombe, they held that lead until the seventh inning when the Giants tied it.

In the top of the eighth, the Dodgers forged ahead, 4-1. The score stayed that way until the Giants' last turn at bat in the bottom of the ninth inning.

It appeared to fans as if the Giants' surge would come up short, and the 

Dodgers would win the pennant that they thought was rightfully theirs.

But Giants' manager, Leo Durocher, who once managed the Dodgers, told his team that they had come a long way; they still had one chance left to bat, let's give them a finish.

The Giants' captain Alvin Dark led off and took two strikes from Don Newcombe. 
The next batter to face a tiring Don Newcombe was the Giants' Don Mueller. He got a single.

That brought up the Giants' best hitter, Monte Irvin. But Irvin fouled out. Following Irvin, Whitey Lockman, the Giants' first baseman, got a base hit. Alvin Dark scored. Mueller got to third, Lockman was safe at second. The Dodgers now led, 4-2!"

Ralph Branca came into pitch for the Dodgers. He would now face the Giants' Bobby Thomson. The tying runs were on base and the winning run was at the plate. Branca threw one strike past the Giants' batter.

Then at 3:58 PM Oct. 3, 1951, Branca threw his next pitch into sports history, the shot heard round the world, as described by the Giants radio broadcaster, Russ Hodges: 

"Branca throws...there's a long drive, that's going to be, I believe, the Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hit a line drive into the lower deck of the left field stands, the Giants win the pennant and they're going crazy, they're going crazy, whoa-whoaaa!"

Even though there were charges that the Giants had stolen signs from their opponents in 1951, and both teams left New York for California in 1958, 50 years has done little to diminish the game that baseball fans consistently vote the most dramatic in the sport's history and which took place in a ballpark which no longer exists between two teams whose names have changed.


Here's a great rediscovery of an elegant French restaurant
Although French restaurants seem to have gone out of vogue with the advent of nouveau cuisine and food lite, two of the best and oldest restaurants in San Jose are French. One of them is Le Chandelier.

I discovered the Chandelier only a couple of months ago, long after it moved from Paseo Colon to Los Yoses (or San Pedro, depending how you look at it). I have eaten there four times only. It is not within my price range for a regular event. But if you want a special treat (or have plenty of money) I highly recommend it. 

The restaurant has been in business for over 13 years, under the management of Swiss owner Claudio DuBuis. Its  present location, 100 meters west and 100 south of the I.C.E. building in San Pedro, once must have been a very elegant and very large private home. 

I counted six small dining rooms (one for non-smokers), each elegant and cozy where diners  might be the only ones there. (Like dining at home with your own butler and chef). The menu is not extensive, but includes  fish, seafood and meats, and each day there are specials. 

I had the best time there when I went with my friend Avery. We ordered their special caesar salad (it has bacon and mushrooms) to share and then the salmon grille zaballon de campagne y hongos (4,850 colons), each bite of which is a sensuous  experience. 

The sauce is light and seductive. Avery ordered one of the specials, langostinos, which were around 10,000 colons. We shared. All main courses include potatoes and julienned vegetables as well as a further side dish of vegetables, and their special homemade bread. In short, you get a lot for your money. 

Their wine list is extensive, including wines from France, Chile, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. I chose our wine: a Baron de  Rothschild Merlot, which was the least expensive and lovely at 6,700 colones. I eschewed the most expensive at 152,475  colons. 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

Didnít even bother to write it down for further reference.

What I found so amazing about Le Chandelier is that there are also three large salones de fiestas for special parties of up to 100 and the restaurant is a lunch stop for busloads of tourists who are efficiently welcomed and fed (usually a salad, a main course of fish, meat or chicken and dessert with tea or wine) for about $12 each. 

When you are sitting in one of the charming dining rooms enjoying exquisite service and superlative food, you donít expect such a big operation, but rather a small boutique type restaurant, which it evidently started out as and has managed to keep that quality.

Another charming thing about a restaurant like Le Chandelier (and Costa Rica) was the incident before we entered. A car was  blocking my ability to get on to the sidewalk in front. After the car had moved, the gentleman who had gotten out of it waited for me to go into the restaurant first, so that he could apologize (in perfect English) for delaying my entry. 

He looked familiar, so when we were seated, I asked our waiter who he was. The charming gentleman turned out to be former President of  Costa Rica, Sr. Rafael Angel Calderone Fournier.

Le Chandelier is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, Dinner only on Saturdays and closed on Sunday. You can phone them at 225-3980 (but donít be afraid to go there without a reservation).

Forest declining
at high rate
in the tropics

U.N. report notes that
Costa Rica protects 25%

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

GENEVA, Switzerland ó Tropical countries continue to lose their forests at a very high rate, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in a report published Thursday.

But Costa Rica, the report said, lost only 16,000 hectares of forest cover in the years 1990 to 2000, or about .77 percent, or less than 1 percent of the country's forest. The U.N. agency noted that more than 25 percent of the nation's forests were protected in one form or another.

About 38.5 percent of the land in Costa Rica is in forest. That is about 1.9 million hectares of the countries 5.1 million hectares. About 38.5 percent is in forest. The report shows a steady increase in the production of wood and wood products in Costa Rica during the years 1990 to 1997. The country produces mostly saw timber and wood for charcoal and fuel: 2.500,000 cubic meters in 1900 and about 2,850,00 cubic meters in 1997

Saw timber went from 4 million cubic meters to about 5.2 million in the same period. 

The report is called "State of the World's Forests 2001." It said that during the 1990s the world lost 16.1 million hectares per year of natural forest, of which 15.2 million occurred in the tropics.  This is about 0.4 percent globally and 0.8 percent in the tropics. Deforestation was highest in Africa and South America, it said. 

The countries with the highest net loss of forest area between 1990 and 2000 were Argentina, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Myanmar, Mexico, Nigeria, the Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe, said the report.

The findings are based on FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000, the most recent and comprehensive assessment of the status and trends of forest resources worldwide. For the first time FAO published a global forest map on the distribution and location of forests. 

Drawing courtesy of U.N. Food and Health Organization


Green areas show where extensive forests still exist in Central America.
 

Of the 15.2 million hectares of natural forest lost annually in the tropics, 14.2 million were converted to other land uses and 1 million hectares were converted to forest plantations, said the report.

The organization said that the major causes for the loss and degradation of forests are: conversion to other land uses (mainly agriculture), pests and diseases, fire, overexploitation of forest products (industrial wood, fuelwood), poor harvesting practices, overgrazing, air pollution and storms. 

Concerning the bans and restrictions on commercial logging, the report said that such measures have in some countries contributed to the conservation of natural forests. In others, however they have negatively affected the forest sector and local communities or have simply transferred the problem of overharvesting to other countries. 

"The decision to use bans should be based on a thorough analysis of their potential effects and of alternative means to achieve the same results," said the report.

Efforts to improve forest management will only be successful if forest crime and corruption can be reduced, the report stressed. "Illegal and corrupt activities threaten the world's forests in many countries, particularly but not exclusively in forest-rich developing countries." In some cases, and as a consequence of trade liberalization and globalization, illegal logging and trade appear to be growing, the report said. 

Muslims in Paraguay claim police extorting money
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Authorities in Paraguay have increased surveillance of the country's Arab immigrants. And there have been charges that police are extorting large sums of money from some merchants in return for not detaining them. Paraguay's increased vigilance over its Arab community has come in response to the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. 

Syrian-born shopkeeper Mates Vihatib says many Arabs in Ciudad del Este, the city on Paraguay's border with Brazil where many Arab immigrants have their businesses, like elsewhere in the world, feel they are under pressure because of what happened in the United States on Sept. 11. But he says in his case he has not been approached by police demanding money. 

"For my part," he says, "no one has come to ask anything of me, to blackmail me, or anything. I am very far removed from that."

But other merchants, speaking privately, say they have heard of cases of extortion. The head of the Arab-Paraguayan Chamber of Commerce, Armando Khalil Chams, fled Ciudad del Este last week after accusing police anti-terrorist agents of demanding large payoffs in return for not detaining him.

In the wake of the attacks in the United States, Paraguayan police have stepped up their surveillance of the Arab community. About 25,000 Arab immigrants live and work in the tri-border area of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. A U.S. State Department report on world terrorism earlier this year described the triple border region as, in its words, a focal point for Islamic extremism in Latin America. 

Late last month, Paraguayan anti-terrorist agents detained more than a dozen Arab immigrants who were carrying false identity papers. However, until now, no one has been charged with having direct links to those who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

The publisher of Ciudad del Este's Vanguardia newspaper, Hector Guerin, says flatly there are no 

terrorists among the Arab community. "I've lived and worked here for the past 18 years, and I havenever come across any evidence of terrorism," he said. "I will retire, he said, if I find a terrorist. Instead, he says his newspaper has found evidence that police have been extorting money from Arab businessmen, going around the city with a list of names and demanding sums ranging from $5 to $20,000.

The U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, David Greenlee, says he has seen the blackmail accusations, but has no evidence to know whether they are true are not. However, if true, Mr. Greenlee says the United States would be concerned. 

"If that were the case that would be of great concern because the effort to gain control of the situation in Ciudad del Este should not be in any way associated with shakedowns and things of that nature," he said. "The important thing is that Paraguayan law be implemented and if people are illegally documented or falsely documented, they should be brought to book and the people who provided the documentation should also be brought to book, but shakedowns would certainly be something that would be of great concern to us and we certainly wouldn't support it."

Paraguayan Interior Minister Julio Cesar Fanego says he is aware of the reports. He said if these accusations of blackmail are true, his ministry will prosecute those responsible. 

"We do not condone this, he says, nor does the police receive orders from their superiors to do this kind of thing," he said. "If we find these accusations are true, he says, those guilty will be processed, put on trial, and dismissed from the force. However, Fanego added that if this practice has been going on for some time, the blackmail victims should have filed a complaint long ago."

Late last week, the head of Paraguay's anti-terrorist unit, Joaquin Pereira, was removed from his post pending an investigation into the extortion accusations. Pereira has strongly denied the accusations. 

Mexican President Fox
visits New York scene

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican President Vicente Fox is in New York City to meet with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and view first hand the World Trade Center disaster site. The Mexican president traveled to New York Thursday after meeting with President Bush at the White House to reaffirm Mexico's support for the U.S. led fight against terrorism. 

While in Washington, President Fox said his country will be working "side by side" with the United States to defeat terrorism. Fox also says Mexico is coordinating efforts within its borders to increase cooperation against terrorism.

President Bush praised Mexico's commitment to the United States, saying President Fox returned to the White House as a "loyal friend" to the United States.

President Bush hosted the Mexican president at a White House state dinner just days before the deadly strikes. Bush also says the United States will take an aggressive role to try to spur U.S. economic growth. Mexico's economy relies heavily on trade with its northern neighbor.

President Fox's visit to the United States comes amid criticism that Mexico's initial response to the terrorist strikes was not strong enough and that members of his cabinet made contradictory statements about the incident.
 

Reno can be sued,
federal judge rules

By A..M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. federal judge in the state of Florida has ruled that former Attorney General Janet Reno can be sued over last year's raid on the Miami home where Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez was staying.

U.S. District Judge Michael Moore rejected the U.S. government's claim that Ms. Reno's position as attorney general gave her immunity from being sued for ordering the raid, which forcibly removed Elian and reunited him with his father.

Some 52 people have sued Ms. Reno and two other officials for at least $100 million, claiming they were gassed, beat and threatened during the raid.

Elian was rescued at sea in late 1999 after the boat taking his mother illegally to the United States sank. The boy's Miami relatives fought to keep him in the United States. But the government said Elian should be returned to Cuba to be with his father.

Ms. Reno is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida.

Meanwhile in Cuba, Fidel Castro inaugurated a museum for Elian Gonzalez Saturday in his hometown of Cardenas, more than 100 kilometers east of Havana. It includes a bronze statue of Elian, pictures of the boy reunited with his father and the Cuban flag that flew outside his grandparents' home during the long ordeal.

Body of snake victim
found at canal mouth

Searchers found the body of César Castillón Mejía. 54, floating near the mouth of the Tortugero canals in extreme northeast Costa Rica Thursday. Investigators think he was the victim of a snakebite.

An autopsy is planned, but Castillón left his house near Barra de Colorado a day earlier, and searchers sought him after his family reported him missing. His small boat was found nearby, and it appeared that he had been attacked by a snake, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.
 

Robbers were active
in three locations

Robbers held up a cooperative in Grecia, a fast-food chicken sales outlet in San Pedro and a gas deliveryman in Tibás Wednesday. 

The Judicial Investigating Organization gave these accounts:

The cooperative was robbed about 1:45 p.m. in Tacares de Grecia when six armed men stuck up employees and got away with1.5 million colons (about $4,490). 

Employees in a Pipasa outlet in San Pedro were held up about the same time by two gunmen who took 350,000 colons (a little more than $1,000).

The gas deliveryman works for Tropigas. He is José Angel Jirón Medina. About 3 p.m. Wednesday the man was making a delivery along the street in the center of Tibás when two men on a motorcycle shot him in the buttocks and stole 250,000 colons (about $750).

Investigators kill
man with knife

Two investigators trying to find evidence of drug dealing in San Juan de San Ramón shot and killed a man who challenged them early Thursday, said police. The dead man was identified by the Judicial Investigating Organization as Luis Ramírez Savedra, 21.

The two policemen were on stakeout watching evidence of drug dealing in Bajo de Tejares when three men approached them. They said they were forced to shoot when Ramírez came at them with a knife and did not stop even when they identified themselves as policemen, said investigators. The case is under investigation.

It's Costa Rica vs. Mexico

Sunday is another football day in Costa Rica as the National Team takes on Mexico in a game that means a lot to Mexico but not to Costa Rica, which already has qualified for a World cup berth.

The most interesting aspect is a Mexican player who promises to dress as a woman and wear makeup if his team loses.
 

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