Your daily English-language news source
Some cable connections
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Computers that hook up to servers in Costa Rica through television cables suffered two days of shaky service.
A technician at Radiográfica Costarricense, S.A., (RACSA) said Thursday that such connections were troubled, although it appeared that the company resolved the problem by last night.
The technician said that the interface between the cable service and the central computers somehow could not make contact with servers in the rest of the world. Those with cable service could temporarily circumvent the problem by dialing up their computer account by telephone, the technician said.
Amnet, the cable company that services parts of San José placed the blame squarely on RACSA and said that the problem was with the company's servers.
RACSA and AMNET have a joint agreement to provide Internet service via the faster cable lines. The transmissions do not interfere with the cable television signal which is on other wavelengths. Those who use the service have to purchase special cable modems to connect with the cable and then with RACSA.
The problem reoccurred Thursday about 9 a.m., about the time that business offices were booting up their computer services. This fact suggests that the RACSA servers had difficulty in handling the volume. That was the same time the problems began Wednesday.
When customers attempted to connect to Web sites outside of Costa Rica, they endured a wait of from three to six minutes and then a message that said server is temporarily unavailable, or the network is "experiencing transient data loss."
Another RACSA technician said Wednesday night that the company was experiencing no problems and blamed any failures on problems with computers in the United States. But the Amnet tech confirmed Thursday morning that the situation had continued most of Wednesday.
Gang members shoot it out
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Opposing gangs shot it out Wednesday night in La Carpio, La Uruca, and five persons suffered bullet wounds.
Police said that the wounded included four youngsters from 15 to 17 years of age and one adult, with the surname Tinoco, age 30.
The shootout happened about 7:40 p.m. when two groups faced each other. The wounded went to Hospital Mexico where they all were reported in stable condition, each with a bullet wound.
The holiday is Monday
Public offices and banks will be closed Monday as Costa Rica celebrates Día de las Cultures. The actual date of what used to be called Columbus Day in the north is today, but the National Assembly has dictated that holidays that fall on Friday be celebrated on Monday. The Limón carnival starts today, and a special lottery drawing is planned for Monday
The Times They are Achanging.
Shortly after I first came to Costa Rica, I was downtown on Avenida Segunda right after a football game which Costa Rica had won. I was trying to find my bus stop. People were filling the street, celebrating, yelling, drinking beer, congratulating each other. Cars could not move; people could barely move. I looked around. Not a policeman in sight. Where, I shouted at someone, are the police? I wanted order, although I had to admit, no one was acting in a threatening manner; nothing was getting out of hand.
Someone shrugged. "The police have to celebrate, too," he said.
This was before police had uniforms, so who could tell? Costa Rica had no army and didnít want its police force to get any ideas by giving them guns and letting them wear uniforms.
Iíve never forgotten the positive energy I felt, the lack of hostility, even in a big crowd. Usually a walk downtown cheers me up. Especially when I am blue, the combination of the exercise and the benign bustle of people lifts my spirits. But the other day, for the first time, being downtown depressed me. I had been feeling fine before I walked onto Avenida Central.
First I encountered six brown garbed police persons standing in a circle talking to each other. I thought, no, no, you should be looking out for the pedestrians. I walked farther along the Avenue and beheld dozens of police in spanking new blue uniforms and, beyond them, row after row of blue motorcycles, also spanking new. They filled two blocks of Avenida Central.
I asked one of the uniformed finest what was this all about? (I have always found the police here most willing to inform lowly civilians about what is going on. When the Nicaraguan Embassy was taken hostage some years ago, the police standing outside the yellow tape surrounding it, were most forthcoming in keeping me up to date as I stopped on my way downtown).
Now I was informed that the police department had just received 200 new motorcycles. My heart sank. Are there enough police to fill those motorcycles, I asked? Oh yes, he allowed. But they are all on foot now. My heart sank further. No more walking patrols, even if they often seemed to be talking to each other, they were there and visible and I felt safer with them around. I counted five new buses. Big buses, complete with metal mesh windows. But we have so much traffic now, I said, how will these buses and motorcycles fit in the streets? He smiled reassuringly. Thatís why we also have some Vespas and smaller motor bikes, he said. Arggh!
Every one of the newly uniformed police also had a shiny new helmet. I want them to be safe, but how can they see much with those helmets and visors? And if they see anything, like a street mugger, can they just dump their motorcycle and give chase on foot?
I tried to look pleased. There was even a clown twisting balloons in various shapes to help celebrate. I was becoming depressed. Then, following some signal which I missed, the blue garbed police mounted their shiny blue motorcycles and revved them ready to go.
In a few moments our lovely car-free promenade was filled with blue smoke and a bad smell. Pedestrians, including myself, covered their faces, some with the necks of their tee shirts, others with their hands. Would these motorcycles, I wondered, be allowed to go up and down this mall on a regular basis?
The one thing I did not ask the other day was who paid for all these new buses and motorcycles ó and uniforms?
Jo's other columns: Click Here
President Bush has offered to give Afghanistan's Taliban authorities what he calls "a second chance" to hand over suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
During a nationally-televised prime time news conference, the U.S. president said he would reconsider U.S. military action against targets in Afghanistan if the Taliban surrenders the chief suspect in last month's terror attacks in the United States.
However, he said he does not know if Osama bin Laden is "dead or alive." He also said Afghanistan is "no longer a safe haven" after four days of U.S. led strikes against terrorist and military targets.
In a statement before answering questions, Bush said the United States and its coalition partners have achieved a great deal in the first month of the war against terrorism. He said this includes significant advances on the military, financial, diplomatic and investigative fronts.
The president described last month's terrorist attacks in the United States as a strike at "the heart and soul of the civilized world." The prime time formal news conference was Bush's first since taking office in January.
Bush said his administration is spending a lot of time dealing with the situation in the Middle East in addition to leading the international strike against terrorism.
The president reaffirmed his support for a Palestinian state but again said such a state must recognize Israel's right to exist.
Bush said he has assured Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon that Israel has no better friend than the United States.
The president says when Israel and the Palestinians begin implementing the recommendations in the Mitchell report ó a commission led by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell which calls for a lasting cease-fire ó then talks can eventually begin on a Palestinian state.
Bush also said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
|deserves the world's applause for
control Palestinian radical groups that oppose peace with Israel.
On Iraq, the president said the United States is keeping a careful watch on Baghdad. He called Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "evil" and urged him to let U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country to verify Iraq's claim that it has scrapped weapons of mass destruction.
President Bush also said he is pleased that the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference has come out in support of the U.S. campaign against terrorism. He said Washington is seriously considering Syria's offer to participate in the campaign against terrorism.
Leader's son believed
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services
U.S. planes carried out a fifth night of raids in Afghanistan amid reports that the first night of western airstrikes killed a son of Taliban head Mullah Muhammad Omar.
Afghan sources in the city of Kandahar say a bomb that hit the Taliban leader's house there on Sunday killed the 10-year-old boy and Mullah Omar's stepfather.
Taliban officials have not confirmed the report. A U.S. official said Wednesday that the attack had killed two adult relatives of the mullah. Meanwhile, witnesses in the capital, Kabul, report fresh air attacks and explosions near the city early Friday.
The Taliban says the five days of airstrikes have now killed more than 200 civilians. The Afghan Islamic Press Agency says an attack Wednesday killed more than 100 people in a village near the eastern city of Jalalabad.
In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday that he has no way to verify if any civilians were killed. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has expressed regret for any loss of innocent life in Afghanistan, but denied Taliban claims that the U.S. military is targeting civilians.
WASHINGTON ó Nations of the Western Hemisphere have strongly supported U.S. efforts to construct a global coalition against terrorism, said Curt Struble, deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.
Testifying before Congress on Wednesday, Struble recalled the "outpouring of support, sympathy and outrage by our Western Hemisphere neighbors" in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, while also citing numerous examples of specific anti-terrorism measures that the region has adopted since then.
In the days immediately following the attacks, he said, the United States was overwhelmed with generous offers of "rescue assistance, medical teams, plasma and military support" that "flowed in" from around the Americas.
These actions by the nations of the hemisphere dramatically underline President Bush's statement "that the campaign against terrorism has to be global and that every country in the world has a role to play," Struble declared. "Countries from the Bahamas to Argentina to Canada have taken concrete steps to freeze accounts linked to Osama bin Laden and his associates, as called for in U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1333 and 1373."
|Furthermore, "we are in close contact
with authorities from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to share intelligence
about possible terrorist activities in the tri-border area of those countries,"
"The countries of Central America are looking at ways to improve border security and improve the sharing of information about migrants. Colombia is offering to share with its regional neighbors its technical expertise in areas such as money laundering gained in close partnership with the U.S. in the past."
However, Struble warned that "more needs to be done to monitor and suppress money laundering and alien smuggling," which he described as "criminal activities that also provide resources and logistic[al] support for terrorists." He added that the United States is urging all the countries of the hemisphere to sign and ratify the 12 international conventions that deal with counterterrorism and to implement fully the terms of United Nations resolutions with respect to blocking terrorists' access to funds.
"Our hemispheric commitment to confront terrorism will be demonstrated by the concrete measures we take as sovereign governments and as a community of governments to arm ourselves against this worldwide threat," he said.
A.M. Costa Rica wire services
NEW YORK ó Scores of legal and undocumented immigrants were among the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. But many of their identities remain unknown. They worked on all floors of the Twin Towers as deliverymen, busboys, janitors and construction workers. One Mexican organization is trying to locate the families of the immigrants, while assisting the survivors.
Since Sept. 11, Arnuafo Chino speaks to his wife on the phone several times a day. When the World Trade Center was attacked, Chino's wife spent hours not knowing if her husband was dead or alive.
Chino, a 33-year-old illegal immigrant in New York City from Pueblo, Mexico, was a waiter at a restaurant across from the Twin Towers. He spent 12 years working his way up from his first job as a busboy.
Now, with the restaurant in ruins, and no hope of compensation, Chino is looking for a new job while volunteering in the search for missing immigrants. With little savings, he and his family are living on aid from Tepeyac, an organization that helps Spanish-speaking immigrants, mostly from Mexico.
"They gave us help [with] psychologists. They have good [people] here, who help us with everything," he said. "Also, they try to see [if] we could have some money, some help from different institutions, to cover our bills, rent, even to buy some food for our kids."
Chino has a harrowing tale of running for his life when the Twin Towers collapsed. Mostly, he says, he is grateful to be alive.
Now, he and many undocumented immigrants who worked in or near the World Trade Center, face a unique array of problems, since they do not have visas and most speak little English.
Four Mexican immigrants who used to work in the Twin Towers as deliverymen
are filling out paper
|work, applying for aid from Tepeyac
and the International Red Cross. They are the lucky ones. They are also
filling out a form for their friend, Juan Ortega, another deliveryman,
who did not make it out of the towers.
For years in the United States, it is friends who make up the support system for many migrants, who send money home to their families. Sometimes, it was the victims' friends who put up signs, reporting the missing.
A case worker at Tepeyac, Genoveva Garcia, says Ortega's wife lives in Mexico and found out about her husband's death from his roommate. She flew to New York on a humanitarian visa and is too distraught to be interviewed.
"She heard everything on the news," she said. "It was devastating. She was very sad. She was watching the TV and she tried to call here, but the phones were very busy; it's been very hard for her. Right now, she's going through her husband's stuff, going through all his clothes, everything."
Tepeyac's director of urgent services, Esperanza Chacon, dropped all her other work Sept. 11 after calls of desperation started coming in. Now, she spends her days on the phone, looking for answers.
Chacon estimates that there were at least 400 undocumented immigrants from all over the world working in the service industry in the World Trade Center. She says, of the 95 people she has been asked to search for, only 30 have turned up alive.
"Yesterday came a Honduran lady, she's from Honduras," said Ms. Chacon. "And she didn't [notify] anyone about the missing of her husband. She was afraid because they have no documents. After more than two weeks, she was holding all that pain because she was afraid."
The Immigrant and Naturalization Service has announced that immigrants who survived the attacks, and relatives of those who died, should identify themselves as part of the rescue effort. The INS assures, they will not be arrested or detained.
Costa Rica's economy steadily worsened during the first nine months of the year, according to an analysis by the U. S. Embassy. But the predictions in the report are another casualty of the Sept. 11 terror attack in New York and Washington.
The report, put together mostly from information provided by Costa Rican financial sources, shows a national economy approaching zero growth, unemployment on the increase, a growing trade deficit and a growing international debt.
The trade deficit was blamed on declines in high-tech, textiles and agricultural exports, principally bananas and coffee, said the report. Imports, including that of petroleum, continued to increase, it said.
Tourism continues to expand and is currently the most active sector of the economy, the report said. Subsequent events have placed that statement in jeopardy, although many in the tourism industry say that the current slowdown, a spinoff of fears engendered by the terrorist attacks and bombing of Afghanistan, is short-term.
The embassy report correctly characterizes the sharp decline in price and volume of banana exports and the drastically lower prices that Costa Rican coffee is getting on the world market.
|The report and its predictions are
based mostly on material released in August and September by the Central
Bank of Costa Rica and also includes information from other agencies, the
Costa Rican American Chamber of Commerce and publications.
The report estimated the unemployment rate for Costa Rican men at 4.4 per cent. The rate for women in the work force, about a third of the total, is 6.9 per cent, the report said.
Again, those numbers might be altered drastically by economic changes after Sept. 11.
Several manufacturing companies already have laid off employees and closed plants in anticipation of constrictions in the U.S. markets.
Costa Rica's labor force is about 1.4 million of a population of about 3.5 million, the report said.
Costa Rica might be able to increase its textile, leather and tuna exports to the United States due to the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act of 2000, the report said, noting that the United States is this country's biggest trade partner and accounted for 52.4 percent of Costa Rican exports last year.
The report is available in PDF format on the embassy Web site at:
|What we published this week:||Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday||Earlier|