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Vol. 3 • Edition 165 • Weekly • Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008 Costa Rica, Central America • $1ºº

Butterfly business flies high

global affairs

China warns of worse to come for its economy P.20 China’s economy slowed further in November, the nation’s top planner said, as he warned the government was being forced to act to avoid massive unemployment and social unrest. AFP

americas

Leftist Latin America leaders to create joint monetary zone P.21

Leftist Latin American leaders agreed to create a joint monetary zone to confront the international financial crisis and reduce dollar dependency, at a one-day meeting in Caracas, Venezuela.

entertainment

Spears wins German prize for ‘stunning comeback’ P.22 U.S. pop singer Britney Spears will picked up a top German media prize in recognition of her “comeback from an absolute low point” in her career, organisers said. Spears, 26, collected the Bambi statuette for Best International Pop Star, and perform a song from her new album, at a gala ceremony hosted by the Hubert Burda Media group, which has given out the gongs since 1948.

sports

The beauty of Costa Rican butterflies now can be appreciated in Europe and the United States. Photo courtesy of INCAFO

A recent study by INCAE published in the Latin America Harvard Review Magazine points out the role of butterfly breeding in the country has made several communities get ahead. It was an investigation by John C. Ickis, Juliano Flores and Cataline Ickis.

The study determined that all over Costa Rica, the life of agriculture workers and rural unemployed has been transformed by the emergence of a new business opportunity, the exportation of chrysalises of caterpillars to butterfly exhibitors in North America

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and Europe. Instead of getting minimum wage, these workers are becoming business men.

The butterfly business in Costa Rica started more than 20 years ago when a Peace Corp volunteer, Joris Brinkerhoff, by accident met an entomologist, also from the United States whom he gave the idea to. Today this activity has become an example of exportation of non-traditional products and has created many mini-companies that now see how their business can prosper like the chrysalis of a caterpillar.

www.pacifico-costarica.com

Records tipped to tumble in 2009, thanks to new blocks P.23 Revolutionary starting blocks are expected to send world swimming records tumbling again in 2009, after an Olympic year when hi-tech suits helped competitors go faster than ever. (P. 23)

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2

Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

ALSO INSIDE Business & Economy Hotels rely on new on line reservations system

The tourism sector of the country has a new technological tool to speed up visits to the country. It is a project of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH), aimed to support its affiliates in advertising their offers. The general tourism sector has publicized the activity of its reservation web site (www. costaircanhotels.com) since March 2008. (P.8)

Society Tough sanctions against irresponsible drivers approved

The Legislative Assembly approved a series of sanctions and penalties for drivers that drive irresponsibly through a new Transit Law. (P.04)

Culture The Ceramic Portrayal of Gold Artifacts in Greater Nicoya

costa rica TIDES CHART Day

High

Low

High

Information for Pacific Coast

Low

High

Tue 02

05:26 / 8.22 ft

11:38 / 0.83 ft

18:02 / 7.93 ft

Wed 03

06:08 / 7.91 ft

12:17 / 1.09 ft

18:43 / 7.82 ft

Thu 04

00:40 / 1.87 ft

06:52 / 7.59 ft

12:59 / 1.34 ft

19:27 / 7.74 ft

Fri 05

01:28 / 1.97 ft

07:39 / 7.30 ft

13:43 / 1.57 ft

20:13 / 7.74 ft

Sat 06

02:20 / 1.98 ft

08:32 / 7.09 ft

14:31 / 1.71 ft

21:04 / 7.83 ft

Sun 07

03:15 / 1.88 ft

09:29 / 7.02 ft

15:25 / 1.75 ft

21:57 / 8.04 ft

Mon 08

04:14 / 1.63 ft

10:28 / 7.12 ft

16:21 / 1.64 ft

22:53 / 8.37 ft

convertion tab

Archaeologists who study prehistoric societies that were non-literate (that is, they left no written records) often study prehistoric images of human figures to gain information about hair-styles and head-gear, personal decoration and adornment, diseases and illnesses, and the religious/elite use of various precious materials as part of their personal attire. In prehistoric Greater Nicoya such human figures were most often made from clay and stone. Careful examination of various ceramic artifacts from Greater Nicoya shows that gold artifacts were represented by painting or modeling on ceramic on bowls and effigy figures. (P.14)

23:56 / 1.74 ft

Costa Rica Basics

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Cancer incidence, death rate fall in United States

Europe Germany says well on track to meet Kyoto goals

The German government released data for 2007 greenhouse gas emissions that it said showed it was well on track to meet its international climate change commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. (P. 19)

Global Affairs Slavery is ‘reality’ for 27 million people

Slavery is a reality of modern-day life for over 27 million people around the world and efforts to combat the problem remain insufficient, a United Nations rights expert warned. (P.20)

Americas Raul Castro ready to meet Obama in ‘neutral place’: Penn interview Cuban President Raul Castro is willing to meet his soon-to-be U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in a “neutral place,” according to an article by actor Sean Penn published by The Nation magazine. (P. 21)

Entertainment Reese Witherspoon baffled by reports of Vaughn rift

Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon says she is baffled by reports of tension between her and co-star Vince Vaughn on the set of new holiday season comedy “Four Christmases.” (P. 22)

Sports Disgraced sprinter Montgomery admits doping for Sydney Disgraced former 100-meter world record holder Tim Montgomery has admitted to doping before the 2000 Sydney Olympics and says he does not deserve his 4x100m relay gold medal in an interview with HBO Sports.(P.23)

Contents P.04 Lead Story P.06 Business & Economy P.10 Society P.14 Culture P.16 Week In Brief P.17 Science And Tech.

P.18 Health P.19 Europe P.20 Global Affairs P.21 Americas P.22 Entertainment P.23 Sports

Titled Beachfront Living

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Health The rate at which new cancers are diagnosed and the death rate from the disease have both decreased in the United States for the first time in 10 years, according to a report published last week by the National Cancer Institute.(P. 18)

Flamingo Marina Basin Starting at $306k

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4

Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

lead story

Tourism sector estimate that bill will intensify tourist competitiveness

great step for the sector, which will allow them to meet the actual necessities of the industry and greatly focus on the fulfillment of effective goals and objectives in the development of promotion strategies,” stated Vargas.

(Infocom) — Tourism is the most important economic activity for the country and although it generates high dividends for the general economy, it is necessary to create its own source of income according to the demands from the sector to insure that the industry is effective and to guarantee investments in the tourist industry in the country.

The President of CANATUR supports both initiatives in order to optimize conditions for tourists with better hotel rates, strengthen the work of the ICT, and allow them to solidify image plans, marketing, and planning to intensify the positive projection of Costa Rica as a tourist destination.

It is for this that Gonzalo Vargas, President of the Costa Rican Chamber of Tourism (CANATUR) considers that the approval in a second debate of the bill for the Strengthening of the Development of the National Tourist Industry will be a key tool to intensify promotion and marketing campaigns and in the end strengthen even more the country’s image in the world outlook Current promotion and marketing of the country as a tourist destination is ran by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) and is financed by the 3 percent tax that they have charged since 1960 to nationals and foreigners for lodging services; however these resources are insufficient compared with the number of incoming tourists, which the total is estimated to be 2,070,000 visitors by the end of the year. The bill eliminates the 3 percent tax and creates a $15 tax or its equivalent in colones according to the exchange rate that day,

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In affect, last November 13, the Legislative Assembly approved the abolition of the 3 percent tax that was added on to hotel services. The initiative was approved just in time for the start of the high tourism season.

The new legislation looks to promote tourism in moments of economic depression.

which will be charged to each person that enters the country by air if they purchased their ticket outside the country, which by Vargas´ opinion will be a shot to the budget that will allow the planned objectives to take place in

the sector in order to guarantee sustainable tourism as it confronts the world wide economic crisis. “The approval of this bill symbolizes a

The tax added to hotels and cabins for foreigners as well as nationals will be exchanged for a $15 tax that will be added to airline tickets that are purchased abroad with a destination to Costa Rica, with which they hope to raise some $25 million in the first year after applying the new tax. Even though the tourism sector enjoys a series of financial incentives, it has recently run into a series of financial obstacles.

Tough sanctions against irresponsible drivers approved (Infocom) — The Legislative Assembly approved a series of sanctions and penalties for drivers that drive irresponsibly through a new Transit Law.

The approval of new fines was made after the Executive Power made a call to all the political sectors representatives in the Congress so this initiative could be approved within the next two weeks. It was supported by the acting president of the Republic, Francisco Antonio Pacheco as well as the Presidential Vice minister, Roberto Thompson. Both agreed that this project that is vital for the citizens should not be delayed more and that it is not appropriate, at these levels, after months of debating to try to divert the objective to include other subjects that are not related to the reason for the initiative. According to Pacheco, in the last few weeks “we should have advanced more,” however he pointed out that the present

as running a traffic light or stop sign or doing a U-turn in an intersection will have to pay a fine of ¢165,000. And those drivers that are caught talking on their cellular phones will have to pay a fine of ¢165,000.

motions by the delegates of the Libertarian Movement related to taxi drivers distorted the process.”

“Fortunately, the Minister of Transportation and Public Infrastructures, Karla Gonzalez, was present at the Congress to elucidate the subject, assuming the necessary commitments so that this bill can return to the right pace and very soon be approved,” added Pacheco.

The approval was accomplished with a vote of 37 delegates in favor and 4 against it (the Libertarian Movement) and among other changes, it includes penalties of six or eight years for a crime of homicide caused by a traffic accident. Also, those that drive without a license will have to pay ¢227,000 and those driving recklessly and those driving under the influence of alcohol will automatically loose their license and will have to pay a fine of ¢227,000. Those who do not respect traffic signs such

Before voting on these reforms, Thompson had insisted that the government consider that it is inappropriate to try to introduce into this bill subjects that have nothing to do with the reason for this initiative. “For this reason, we are respectfully requesting the delegates to continue on with the text that has been approved by a census, with the purpose of being able to vote in the next two weeks before additional sessions are necessary,” added the Vice Minister.

Whoever does not use a seatbelt will be strongly fined with the new transit law once it goes into effect at the end of 2009.

In order for the new bill to be put into place, the President of the Republic still has to sign it and then it has to be published in the Official Government Newspaper, La Gaceta, in addition to issuing regulations to be able to apply the law, in which they will have 3 months to complete them.

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Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

Business

Papagayo Marina starts in January (Infocom) — The Marina Papagayo company announced the inauguration of the first phase of their project will be in the middle of January. It will be the second yacht docks in the country. Right now, only Los Sueùos in Herradura offers this service. Marina Papagayo will have an area of 44 hectares in which it will initially construct 180 docking positions in the water and 200 on land. Boats measuring between 12 and 87 meters long will be able to use these docks. The ships that will dock there will also find migration services, fuel, high speed Internet, electricity, telephone, minor ship reparations, and removal of used water. The initial investment will be $15 million, announced Roberto Kopper, Director of Marina Papagayo. Papagayo will be the second marina constructed in the country under the law that was placed in 1998. Los Sueùos has been functioning since 2001. Even though recently they were discussing a new Concession Law for Marinas and Tourist Landing Docks, last October 23 the Constitutional Court stopped the reform that the delegates had approved for this law. The new proposal for the reform of the law has several key elements with the objective of simplifying the procedures. It proposes to redefine the process of applying for and approving the concessions in stages, in which they established several fundamental changes in order to achieve that purpose. Among the most important modifications are the following: it better orders the procedures, concat-

enates the titles of the articles according to what is considered regular, establishes minimum general requirements and authorizes the Inter-institutional Commission of Marinas and Tourist Landing Docks (CIMAT) to oversee regulations, defines the corresponding technical requirements; in addition they shortened the time requirements, defined and set boundaries so that each party knows what to abide by, giving as a result more judicial security and guarantees a due process.

Another important point that was taken into account when modifying the law was the incorporation of technical terms found in the general regulations about the procedures of evaluating the environmental impact, the same also incorporates shorter time limits in which the Technical National Environmental Secretary (SETENA) must complete the studies. Currently, this procedure is located in the previous phase, almost at the beginning in which makes the investors incur a substantial expense without being certain that the concession will be approved which depends on the approval by SETENA for the evaluation of the environmental impact. Through this new law, it creates a unique window in the CIMAT, with the purpose of concentrating all the procedures in one place and consequently speeding up the process. Finally, it will expand the time limits of validity for the concessions to be granted. One of the fundamental reasons for modifying and revamping the current law was the fact that since the law 7444 was put into place in December 1997, only one marine to date has been approved and constructed, which is

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ď€ ď€‚ď€ƒď€„ď€…ď€†ď€‡ď€ˆď€„ď€‚ď€‰ď€‰ď€‰ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€†ď€Šď€Šď€Šď€‰ď€‹ď€Œď€?ď€?ď€‚ď€‰ď€‹ď€ˆď€‡ ď€ ď€‚ď€ƒď€„ď€…ď€†ď€‡ď€ˆď€‰ď€Šď€„ď€ƒď€…ď€‹ď€Œď€‰ď€?ď€?ď€?ď€‰ď€‘ď€‰ď€’ď€ƒď€“ď€‰ď€”ď€•ď€–ď€‚ď€‚ď€—ď€‰ď€˜ď€™ď€Žď€?ď€?ď€‰ď€‘ď€‰ď€‹ď€šď€ƒď€†ď€—ď€›ď€‰ď€†ď€‡ď€œď€‚ď€?ď€•ď€…ď€Œď€ˆď€žď€‹ď€&#x; ď€‚ď€Œď€žď€ƒď€‰ď€Ąď€†ď€•ď€ƒď€‰ď€˘ď€‹ď€—ď€›ď€‰ď€Łď€¤ď€Ľď€Žď€?ď€?ď€‰ď€‘ď€‰ď€§ď€”ď€Žď€ ď€ƒď€Œď€‹ď€…ď€‰ď€¨ď€–ď€‚ď€‡ď€‹ď€›ď€‰ď€‰ď€Šď€?ď€?ď€?ď€?ď€? ď€”ď€•ď€–ď€‚ď€‚ď€—ď€‰ď€Şď€œď€œď€†ď€—ď€†ď€ƒď€žď€†ď€‚ď€‡ď€Œ

Marina Los SueĂąos, located in the Garabito canton in Puntarenas. This shows evidence of the difficultly to work with this current law due to all the requirements, which has even caught the attention of the judicial operators. Currently, there are a countless number of applications for concession, construction, and operation of marinas and tourist landing docks processed with the CIMAT, without knowing for sure the resolution.

At the Guanacaste’s Golden Mile

Guayacån Real The best investment‌ the best place‌

This is how the Papagayo marina will look once the project is finished. Photo Marina Papagayo

Outside the box

A Different ball game MBA Fin. Jorge Segura President-DCL Property Developers info@dclconsultores.net Despite what you might believe, in this time of crisis not all sources of financing are closing their credit lines. It is true the banking sector is in trouble all around the world, and will not reactivate aggressively their financing programs probably until the end of 2009. Today, most banks are too afraid to take the risks involved in financing development projects at the beginning of a recession, and in the middle of a banking crisis. As a result of it, banks in the USA, and Costa Rica, have closed or reduced substantially their credit lines for real estate projects, or tourism related activities. The few who will continue lending to players in our industry have taken measures to reduce their risk by toughening requirements. However, there are sources of financing willing to continue in the market. These are private investment funds that did not have their assets invested Wall Street, but in development projects all around the world. It is true; most of them stopped operations during the last two months in order to assess the impact of the mortgage crisis on their short term investments, and the portfolio of their investors. Nevertheless, after that analysis was done, they designed their investment strategies for next year. Now, we are starting to see some action. For instance, in the case of the funds that my Firm represents, none of them will leave the Costa Rican market. They have been directed to continue penetrating our market, and prepare new investment packages for analysis during the first months of next year, and closing during the second quarter of 2009.

The fact that there are Funds still willing to invest in Costa Rica is good news for those who require equity and debt financing. Nevertheless, to obtain project financing from an international Fund you should be aware of the following: 1) Funds will be willing to finance your project, but you should be ready to demonstrate its market viability. 2) Your project’s credit and market risks are subjected to indepth analysis. 3) Funds are aware that credit money will be scarce during the next year. Thus, most of them have the opportunity to pick and choose the countries and the proj-

ects that they finance. 4) Neither the Funds not the loan brokers are in the habit of courting borrowers; they would rather pass up a good project with a difficult owner than deal with a problem client. 5) There is currently an increase in the number of Funds willing to enter into Joint Venture agreements, as silent partners. 6) Funds prefer well organized projects, with experienced development teams (in-house or under outsourcing contracts), over those projects with no organization, and weak development teams. 7) Funds will not finance projects which are just an idea, and have generated no value. The minimum they expect is a project with land, a solid concept, an organization, and at least ready to start the permits process. 8) The financing process is getting slower due to the overwhelming amount of requests, and the fact that Funds need to make an in-depth credit analysis on every request that is accepted. For instance, last year it took a month to get the interest of lenders, and two to three months to get the commitment and closing the deal. Nowadays, is taking 30 to 45 days to obtain their interest, three to five months for the due diligence, the commitment, and closing the deal. Therefore, patience is key for a successful loan request. 9) Funds are requesting clean assets (at market prices) as loan guarantees. This means that properties may have annotations due to loans but not due to lawsuits. 10) You must be able to provide reliable financial information, and projections prepared by professionals. 11) Do not expect the work and the money to come for free just because there are success fees involved in the deal, you must be prepared to invest in the effort. A serious loan brokerage operation invests between 400 to 1,000 hours of work in the promotion and the closing of a single deal, so they will not work for free. Additionally, most Funds charge up front fees that must be paid by the borrower, although they are recovered if the loan is not granted. 12) Funds do not like to deal directly with borrowers because they lose their patience and objectivity easily. Getting financing is as much a PR issue as it is a business issue. Finally if you decide to opt for a private loan you should know that loan brokers and Funds are both professional organizations with one single goal, getting your loan approved ASAP; otherwise everybody will lose time and money.

Guayacån Real, with everything you need: • Located in the GOLDEN MILE, Guanacaste’s best commercial site between Liberia’s International Airport and the intersection to Papagayo, where all tourists and investors travel • All technology and communications services available • Provides you with the opportunity to shape the space to your needs • 24/7 services and strategic facilities. • Video security system

Don’t miss your opportunity to be successful.

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Contact Info Guanacaste Pacific Co. Tel.: (506) 2215-2604 / (506) 8392-5500 Email: info@guanacastepacific.net


8

Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

business

TLC with Panama goes into effect (Infocom) — Starting last November 23, the Free Trade Agreement between Costa Rica and Panama was put into effect, which is vitally important to strengthen commercial relations between both countries. The commercial agreement went into effect as planned; however, approval for article 3.04 for the tax relief program is set to start at the beginning of January, 2009. This TLC between Costa Rica and Panama is a great tool for the national productive sector; it will especially benefit small and medium sized companies (pymes). “We are fulfilling one of the promises made by the Arias Sanchez administration to facilitate the productive sectors with tools to commercialize and increase exportations which in the end will help the economic development in general” indicated the Foreign Trade Minister, Marcos Vinicio Ruiz. As for statistical numbers of what we have taken to Central American and Panamanian markets in 2008 has presented a dynamic increase in absolute terms of close to US$170 million to reach exportations of US$1530 million between January and October of 2008. Trade with Panama is what stands out the most due to the fact that exportations have increased during the first ten months of the year close to 36%, making it the most important partner in the region. Panama was the fifth largest destination of our accumulated exportations for the month

of August this year. Just in agriculture and agro-industrial goods (that represent almost 19% of total exportations) that were exported during this period added up to around US $55 million, an amount 46% higher in sales than last year. “The TLC guarantees privileged access to the Panamanian market,” added Ruiz. The tool allows tax free access for 92 percent of the 1,500 products and services from Costa Rica. With this treaty being put into effect, the majority of the current Costa Rican exportations will be included in free trade or tax reduction programs that are involved in relatively short free trade periods and only 1.4% will be excluded, which makes this agreement a very important commercial promotional tool between both nations and gives opportunities to the productive sector, especially for the PYMES. “In the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, there are 70 issues concerning politics, commercial, customs, security, migration, education, electric interconnection, environment, bi-national borders, also mutual efforts to confront poverty in nearby bordering towns and issues concerning bilateral cooperation,” stated the President of Panama, Martin Torrijos. The Panamanian representative added that today marks another milestone in the relations between both countries now that the Free Trade Agreement has been put into effect.

Commercial Promotions Office in New York inaugurated (Infocom) — The President of the Republic, Oscar Arias Sanchez officially inaugurated the new Costa Rican Commercial Promotions Office (OPC) in New York City which makes twelve offices in the world, four of those being in the United States. The Foreign Minister of the Republic, Bruno Stagno, the Director of the Board of Directors of the Costa Rica Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer), Ricardo Solera, the General Manager of Procomer, Emmanuel Hess, and the director of the OPC, Maykool Lopez, participated in the event. Among the central objectives of Procomer for establishing the OPC in New York is promoting the transition of Costa Rica toward a service economy, funded by the investments in strategic sectors, besides taking advantage of niches for products with the potential of being exported to a market with ample purchasing opportunities. New York City is strategic for establishing commercial relations because it is home to 54 of the Fortune 500 companies, which makes it a goal market to make business contacts since there are several key United States companies with their headquarters in New York such as: Citigroup, JP Morgan & Chase, Pfizer, IBM, Time Warner, PepsiCo, Alcoa, American Express, Eastman Kodak, and Colgate Palmolive, among others. In addition, the Big Apple represents a large market with 19.3 million residents from the United States. Just Manhattan has 8 million residents, of which the Hispanic market counts for 3.12 millions of these residents (16% of the total population). According to statistics from the Census Office, the Hispanic population has grown rapidly in the last few years. The general population has high buying power with sophisticated tastes and preferences. “Without being afraid of being wrong, I

With the opening of the Procomer offices in New York City, it looks to be closer to the big commercial conglomerates. Photo Casa Presidencial

dare to say that in a few months this will be one of the main international gateways for our goods that we produce and the services we offer from Costa Rica to pass through. It will be a showcase of immense proportions to show the talent and strength of our farmers, of our businessmen, of our artists, and our merchants” declared President Arias. On his part, Solera highlights that one of the main reasons to set up the new OPC in New York is because this city is known as one of the most important business centers and the most developed service economy in America (counts for 6.9 million workers in this sector). In addition it has the biggest financial sector in the world, made up of the two most important stock exchanges, the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. Just in 2007, Costa Rican exportations that came through New York and New Jersey ports represented more than 15% of the US $3,287.83 million that entered into the United States. In addition, these ports make up the third logistic center entrance to the United States from Costa Rica.

PICK UP

YOUR PRESENT

Hotels rely on new on line reservations system (Infocom) — The tourism sector of the country has a new technological tool to speed up visits to the country. It is a project of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH), aimed to support its affiliates in advertising their offers. The general tourism sector has publicized the activity of its reservation web site (www.costaircanhotels.com) since March 2008. The CCH signaled that this current site has a monthly visitation of more than 24,000 single visits and 180,000 visits to internal pages of our affiliated hotels. In addition, it offers the hotels that are members of the CCH, the opportunity, without any cost, to advertise their products with direct sales to the consumer through prepayments and through using a credit card in real time with a secure system verified by visa in which the client can safely pay (Visa and Master Card.) The national tourist also can use this service by making their reservation with an international debit card in any bank. In the same way, there are 80 alternative lodging options available, from small companies to families to great hotel complexes, from the mountains to the city to the beach. The Web site, designed only for hotels that are members of the CCH uses the on line reservation and sales system ISHTAR; in which the visitors (more than 60% from the United

States and close to 20% from Europe) have the option to do searches for hotels by locations, attractions, rates, stars, and services offered providing much help at the time of programming their visit to Costa Rica. The site has been promoted through Hotel and Travel Guides that have been distributed at international fairs such as the Expotur, CATM, in Nicaragua, FIT, in Argentina, and WTM in London, also through electronic marketing campaigns and links on other sites. Soon the CCH will better its reservation systems by incorporating additional tourist attractions and an information and reservation center. The Executive Director of CCH, Pablo Solano indicated that “the site is another alternative to speed up the distribution chain that runs tourism, in fact we visualize it as a virtual vendor, which is paid very little and only sells, with the additional benefit that the business will be paid for the transaction in a maximum of three days. Just in the United States and Europe the on line reservation system is very successful. For example, in this country, during 2007 it made more than $62 million in on line reservations while in Europe sales by this concept grew 34% reaching EUR 25.2 million.

Only until Christmas: For those who do a contract for 3, 6, or 12 months receive the same amount of time FREE in our NEW WEB PAGE

Contact us at: sales@journalcr.com or call now 905 JOURNAL, or 22 15 26 04


10

Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

society

‘Growing Together’ celebrated the V Expression Festival

(Infocom) — Guanacastecan children and youth spoke out for the environment through different forms of communication that formed the V Expression Festival which is organized by the Community Relations Office of Peninsula Papagayo.

The activity took place at the Universidad Earth La Flor facilities in Liberia and served the purpose of gaining greater respect for the environment, one of the four pillars that make up the philosophy of Peninsula Papagayo. Elsa Bonilla, Community Relations Manager of Peninsula Papagayo showed her satisfaction with the dedication of the contestants, “it definitely confirmed their responsibility to environmental protection; they have become more conscience of the need to care for our planet in which we live. It was a great experience, as much for them as for us,” concluded Bonilla.

Marianela Valverde, the assistant for the activity who is a representative from the Sexuality, Health and Environment Program of the Ministry of Public Education (MEP), pointed out that the organizer always has pushed educational activities which have made an important contribution to the growth of the region. Starting five years ago, the Festival has taken place every first Friday in November to commemorate the signing of the contract between MEP and Penincula Papagayo.

In addition to the competition, there were cultural presentations including performances by a marimba group, an elementary and high school theatre group from El Coco and another by the international singer-songwriter Teresa Zuluaga, who sang melodies with lyrics about the environment throughout the event. The educational centers that participated in the activity were the Kindergarten from Obandito, the Kindergarten from la Ignacio Gutierrez, the Kingergarten from Artola, the Palmira School, the Paso Tempisque school, the Ignacio Gutierrez school, the Tablazo school, the Obandito school, the Bernardo Gutierrez school, the Altos del Roble school, the El Coco school, the Santa Rita school, the Artola school, the Cacique school, the Nuevo Colon school, the Professional Technical High School from Sardinal and the El Coco high school.

Among the winners were Luis Arturo Espinoza Cardenas from the Palmita School in Cycle I Spelling, and in Cycle II was Loana Vivas Angulo from the Paso Tempisque school. As for Cycle III (High School) Spelling, it was won by Elizabeth Bonilla Marenco from the Professional Technical sigh school from Sardinal. While the winner of Cycle I Reading was Nicolle Melissa Marin Espinoza from the Bernardo Gutierrez school and in Cycle II Reading the victor was

p r e m i u m h om e l i f e s t y l e

Jonathan Merlo Mercado, from the fifth grade of the Palmira school took second place in reading. Photo: Comunicacion Corporativa

Maria Fernanda Pizarro Vallecillo from the El Coco school; the award for Cycle III (high school) reading was given to Loyda Massiel Chana Villagra from the Professional Technical high school from Sardinal. As for painting, the award for Cycle I was

given to Erenia del Carmen Martinez Narvaez from the Artola school; in Cycle II it was given to Jason Antonio Menodoza Fonseca from the Bernardo Gutierrez School and in Cycle III it was obtained by Marcos Josue Arrieta Gonzalez from the El Coco school.

First collegiate surfing tournament takes place in Guanacaste (Infocom) — Next December 13 the first Intercollegiate Surfing Tournament in Guanacaste will take place, which is a sporting event that brings together athletes from secondary education centers in the province.

The competition is organized by the Young Action Foundation (FAJ) with the support of the Guanacastan Tourism Chamber (CATURGUA), entities that use the competition to encourage the practice of this sport and at the same time launch an appeal against student drop outs.

Committee whose first initiative was to hold this event on December 13.

The idea to create the first Guanacastan Intercollegiate Surfing Tournament came about four months ago when the FAJ organized a round of talks at the Villarreal High School in Santa Cruz in order to motivate the youth about the love of education, academic discipline, and the benefits of attaining a profession.

The rules for the tournament establish that participation in the tournament is completely free, but the surfers must present a certificate of studies from a high school where they are registered.

The Intercollegiate Tournament will take place at Tamarindo beach in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste where only students that are a part of a regular High School program (public or private) in Guanacaste are able to register.

Authorized Distributor / Tel: 2260 2632 / Fax: 2260 2471 / e-mail: info@rymcocr.com

The tournament looks to promote participation of young Guanacastecan. In the photo, Michael Rodriguez, surfer from Tamarindo Beach.

In agreement with the last market study done in the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, close to 30 percent of the tourists that visit Guanacaste include surfing as one of the main activities during their stay in the province.

The Executive Director of the Foundation, Jose Aguilar, said that after the talks at Villarreal, a group of students from this secondary institute decided to form the Student Surfing

“The truth is that the Foundation sounded like a great idea because we see this competition as part of our strategy to continue creating dynamic, interesting, and fun activities that are associated to collegiate life because in this way it is possible to “hook” them to the classroom. Additionally, it promotes sports discipline that is a fundamental part of the Guanacastan life,” declared Aguilar.

Registrations can be done by phone with the Young Action Foundation at 2271-4407 or 2271-4409 or in person December 12 (2pm to 7pm) at Trailz Surf Shop.


12

Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

real estate

real estate

Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

13

Project in Costa Rica is declared best international project of the year by Builders & developers alliance

ducted by a panel of jurors recognized worldwide. This year’s jury was composed by the architect Zaha Hadid of Zaha Hadid architects, Francesco Valletta of FIABCI; Jose Machiavelo of ETINAR and members of DBA. Other winners of the night were the architect David Fisher of “Dinamic Architecture”, as architect of the year for his revolutionary dynamic towers, SARAYA AQABA of Saudi Arabia for the best Master Plan of 617,000 m2 in Aqaba, Jordan and SEAWOODS DEVELOPMENT of India as the best developer for their project sustainable Seawoods of over 40 acres.

C

osta Rica stood out brightly at the, Advancement Community Awards, beating out the world’s most extraordinary projects. This award is the most important in the international real estate industry and honoring the name of the country. Nominees were over 2,300 projects and companies from 5 continents. The project Wyndham Jaco Beach in Costa Rica was elected winner in the category “Best International Project of the Year” by Builders & Developers Alliance (DBA). The prize was awarded last Saturday, November 8 during a gala ceremony of the “DBA’s 2008 Community Advancement Awards” in the luxurious facilities of Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm

Developers & Builders Alliance is an international organization comprised of leaders in the largest real estate developments, construction companies and related industries. With the objective of consolidating a unique group in the industry of international developers, construction companies, consulting firms and related industries with the goal of facilitating responsible investment between continents to fix problems such as unemployment, low economic growth and weak markets in search of globalization, providing a platform in this new era of development with sustainable technologies and practices. Beach, Florida, owned by Donald Trump. The event began on Friday, 7 with an international conference where the panelists focused on social, environmental and financial current issues. The award was given to Mr. Fuad Farach A., Fuad Farach Caldera and Javier Angel president, general manager and architect of the company “Grupo Rica Costa” of the hands of Evangeline Goulet, Chairman and CEO of Skyline Equities Realty and president of DBA. The prize is awarded annually to the most outstanding project worldwide, is delivered based on a rigorous selection process con-

Founding members are Donald J. Trump, Jorge M. Perez, Gil Dezer, R. Donarme Peebles, and Michael Dezer and the board of directors is

composed by Veronica Mendieta, Chairman & CEO, Jonathan Snyder, Co-Chairman and Evangeline Goulet who, at the ceremony, delivered the presidency of the chairmanship of DBA to Hassan Sharbatly, Vice Chairman of Golden Pyramids Plaza. Referring to the award Mr. Fuad Farach A. comments: “.... it’s a amazing prize, which fills us with pride and puts Costa Rica on the same level of architecture of places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and other with much higher resources. ...” “.... Listening to the name of Costa Rica on a stage like this is very exciting ... “ The winning project, Wyndham Jaco Beach - Resort and Condominium is a five-star beachfront condo-hotel located in the town of Jaco, Puntarenas in the central Pacific of Costa Rica, in its election DBA considered its innovative, modern and harmonious design that allows full ocean view from any spot of the units. Designed by architect Javier Angel, Wyndham highlights from now on as a representative project of the country, its construction will start in the first quarter of 2009 and will come into operation at the end of 2010. On November 11 “Grupo Rica Costa” presented in the Real Intercontinental Hotel the project and award to businessmen, developers, friends and colleagues.


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culture

culture

The ceramic portrayal of gold artifacts in Greater Nicoya Frederick W. Lange, PhD¹ Archaeologists who study prehistoric societies that were non-literate (that is, they left no written records) often study prehistoric images of human figures to gain information about hair-styles and head-gear, personal decoration and adornment, diseases and illnesses, and the religious/elite use of various precious materials as part of their personal attire. In prehistoric Greater Nicoya such human figures were most often made from clay and stone. Careful examination of various ceramic artifacts from Greater Nicoya shows that gold artifacts were represented by painting or modeling on ceramic on bowls and effigy figures.

As an example, the ceramic figure illustrated with this article features a human head (possibly a chief). In contrast to so-called “trophy heads” from earlier time periods in Greater Nicoya, the personage represented by this oval vase appears to be alive rather than dead (most of the trophy heads, on the other hand, are portrayed as being deceased personages). Around his mouth he wears a decorative device often referred to as a comb. Archaeologically excavated “combs” are made of gold and are quite spectacular as pieces of metallurgical production go. Here they are painted on to a two-dimensional surface. Why not the real thing? Lack of gold? Lack of gold-working abilities amongst local artisans? Probably a little of each, plus some additional unknown factors.

and was found at the Ruiz Site near the Bay of Culebra. Additional investigation by this author to attempt to recover additional data of metallurgical activity was unsuccessful.

Gold occurs naturally in some locations in Greater Nicoya, but unlike the Diquis area of southern Costa Rica where the metal is placer-mined, gold in Greater Nicoya is mostly in underground veins that were apparently unknown to and unavailable to prehistoric gold-workers.

When in Greater Nicoya we speak of “gold” we are seldom speaking of pure gold, but more often of a gold-copper mixture known as “tumbaga” or “guanine”. This mixture not only added an attractive reddish cast to gold artifacts but it also represented a major metallurgical achievement by prehistoric artisans: that gold and copper mixed together melt at a lower temperature than does gold alone. Not bad materials manipulation by a bunch of “savages”! Also, since it is pretty clear that not all prehistoric Native Americans were capable of converting gold and copper into “tumbaga”, just as most of us cannot convert grain into whiskey in our backyards, there probably was a niche for specialists (as there is in any society). Because of some of the special skills (for example, building a hot enough fire to melt the raw materials, learning how to make a mold to cast solid pieces, and learning the steps that were required to convert raw gold and copper into finished artifacts); it has been speculated that in prehistoric Central America specialized artisans went from place to place making artifacts in the local styles, on demand. If this sounds far-fetched, let me tell about the grandmother of a Navajo friend of mine who

One of the most interesting details of the ovoid vase pictured here is that it is a combination of southern Mesoamerican and South American characteristics. At about this time, gold-working technology was moving northward from South America to Mexico. Thus, perhaps it is not unusual to see a combination of Mexican and South American decorative traits on a ceramic pot from Greater Nicoya, which was more or less half way in between. The prehistoric residents of Greater Nicoya also used tattoos and body-stamping instead of real jewelry, but that practice, like the painted and modeled presentation of gold, is yet another story.

Pataky Polychrome Ovoid with South American mouth ornament.

can weave a really nice Navajo textile in any one of the many regional styles for you.

In fact, only one gold-casting mold fragment has ever been found in Greater Nicoya. It had been used to cast a small frog pendant

¹Dr. Frederick W. Lange has a doctoral degree in anthropology, awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1971. He is the author of the recently published book BEFORE GUANACASTE, a popular account of the first 10,000 years of this wonderful place. BG is available at the Jaime Peligro Book Store in Tamarindo, the Café Britt Book Store at Peninsula de Papagayo, and in Libreria Internacional bookstores in San Jose and throughout Costa Rica. Fred’s e-mail address is hormiga_1999@yahoo.com.

Guanacastecan receives National Prize for Education (Infocom) — The educator from Liberia, Miguel Fajardo Corea won the 2008 National Mauro Ferndandez Prize for Education. Fajardo is a poet and academic from the Chorotega Regional branch of the National University (UNA).

Fajardo has stood out not only for his contribution to Costa Rican education from secondary education classrooms such as those at the Laboratory High School in Liberia and the National University, but also for Costa Rican literature, for such poems as “Eternal Guanacaste that I love” that he wrote. This is not the first award for this prizewinning writer who also received the Costa Rican Young Editorial Creation Award in 1980. Also, he has been awarded the Alfonsina Storni prize in Argentina, the Costa Rican Social Security System prize, the Jorge Volio prize, the Culture Promotion National Prize, and one from the distinguished COLYPRO collegiate. In addition, Municipality of Liberia and Liberian Culture Associa-

engraved in cultural inheritance; it possesses an expressive richness and a human and universal conception.”

tion dedicated the main room of the Casa de Gobernacion in Guanacaste with his name, among others. He has also been a distinguished student and model for the Chorotega Regional branch of the National University.

On her part, the Costa Rican poet, Ana Antillon expresses about Fajardo´s work, “we know the poet Miguel Fajardo because his ideal is the fraternity among human beings and for this he uses his gift of the literary word, inviting us to have a common cause with the ideals of moral dignity: balance, harmony, and respect for life on this planet.”

Fajardo stands out for being an active culture propagator in different circles, such as being a Spanish language professor at the Guanacaste Literary Center, as a regional newspaper columnist, and as the editor of more than 20 cultural supplements. In addition, he has done three investigations on Guanacaste music composers´ works.

Around his poetry he has given great support to Costa Rican education from secondary education and UNA classrooms. Like the Dominican poet, Candido Geron, pointed out, “Miguel Fajardo´s poetry is about pain, anguish, fright, transition, waste, re-humanization, beating, synthesis. It has a particular aesthetic idea, a sustained sensibility and an optimistic vision in its development of hopes and truths with entity and light. His poetry is

Miguel Fajardo Corea has been characterized by his contributions to Guanacastan culture from the academic environment. Photo UNA.

As an academic of the Chorotega Regional branch, Fajardo has contributed to the formation of educators and universal thoughts as the Department Chair of Humanities; he has pushed for the recovery of works by Guanacaste province writers and the organization of events that have made a great impact on the academic occupation. The prize was officially awarded on December 2 to this academic that has contributed to the culture for 29 years.

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Exemplary Characters

Mario Capecci, from childhood gangs to Nobel Prize That night when they gave him the prestigious Nobel Prize of Medicine to Mario Capecci, a distinguished Italian-American investigator in the field of molecular genetics, few in the world knew that this man learned how to read when he was already 13 years old.

from the Nazi concentration camp. It took her a year and a half to find little Mario.

Mario Capecci, was born in Verona and his mother was pursued by the German secret service during the Second World War until they found her. Mario was only 3 and a half years old and suddenly he was left alone because the Germans took his mother, also the money disappeared that his mother had given to some farmers to take care of little Mario in case one day the GESTAPO found her and she ended up in a concentration camp.

“Now there is a sensation that gratification should be immediate, gratification is something that takes time, effort, dedication and patience,” thinks Capecci. It something obtained after years of effort, he confirmed at 71 years of age when he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine along with two other doctors.

Of course his history before his start on the academic field at the beginning of puberty was almost a horror story for a child that lived on the street, product of the war. He was at the point of death for several months as he lied in a hospital bed suffering from typhoid fever and malnutrition.

He lived on the street with very little for four years with a childhood gang until he was 9 years old when he ended up sick in a hospital in native Verona. His mother had no idea. But by chance, the day Mario was turning 9 years old, his mother was being liberated

After the happy reunion, his mother went to live in the United States looking for a brother. And it was then that Mario could start in the education system, sure he had already learned a lot, but from the school of life. “Street Science!” I had always thought that what I learned from those thieves would help me later as an investigator, a certain future intuition,” he said later after being world famous for his quality as an investigator. Many of the attitudes that he learned on the street, he now uses today with his students.

His contributions to medicine have been especially directed to treating and preventing childhood diseases such as sarcoma and other diseases similar to cancer that can attack children. Capecci without a doubt is working so that others will not have to live the nightmares that he lived as a child.

Mario R. Capecchi receiving his Nobel Prize from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at the Stockholm Concert Hall, 10 December 2007. Photo www.nobelprize.org

The investigative works of Mario Capecci have been corner stones in the treatment and prevention of childhood diseases. Photo www. nobelprize.org


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week in brief

Politics

BCCR opens MONEX to companies and people

Treasury Minister places in the top 10 for the region

(La Prensa Libre) — The Costa Rican Treasury Minister, Guillermo Zuñiga qualified for 10th place on the list of people in charge of finances in the Latin America region. The list was made on the basis of the consultations that the American Economy magazine did with 140 experts in the subject. The ministers were evaluated in four aspects: the macro-economy stability of their countries, the push for pro-competitive reforms, leadership in the economy team, and if they are sending signs of confidence to the citizens, businessmen and investors. The hierarch received a note of 5.9 in the scale of 1 to 10, in which 10 is the best. The minister that had the best evaluation was the Chilean Treasury Minister, Andres Velasco, he was evaluated as the best by the 140 experts consulted by the American Economy followed by the Mexican Agustin Carstenas that obtained a 7.4, the Peruvian Luis Valdivieso with 7.0, the Brazilian Guido Mantega with 6.7 and the Colombian Oscar Zuluaga with 6.7. Those that did not receive good markings were the Treasury Ministers from Honduras (3.8), Nicaragua (3.5), Bolivia (3.4), Ecuador (3.2) and Venezuela and Argentina (2.8).

Business & Economy 2009 Budget Finally Approved (Al Día) — The general budget of the Republic was finally approved in the second debate in the Legislative Assembly. The budget for 2009 is around ¢4 billion (some $7385 million). The budget increased 17.9% in relation to the present year. According to the Treasury Ministry, this budget will be financed 72 percent by regular income and 28 percent by debt.

And as for how much will be distributed to each area, there will be an increase of 19.8% in Public Work and Transportation; 28.5% in security; Health 37.6%, Environment and Energy 36.6%; Justice 28.9%, among other areas.

The highlight of the 2009 budget is that the State will designate 6.2% of the PIB to education.

The Costa Rican Central Bank opened the option of buying foreign currency in large quantities to companies and people; so they no longer need to go to the bank entities or exchange houses. Of course, these entities can continue participating in the market for foreign currency in large quantities, but they will have to offer more competitive prices in order to attract buyers. The BCCR opened up this opportunity to 500 participants while previously only 30 were authorized to participate. The main beneficiaries are importers, exporters, industries, and others that regularly need foreign currency for its services.

society

however the experts insure that it is merely a seasonal situation due to the fact that in the months of November and December there is less demand for dollars because of having to pay Christmas bonuses and rental taxes, which tends to make the exchange rate drop with so many responsibilities. This is because companies dissolve their dollars to have liquidity in colones so they can pay for Christmas bonuses and taxes. Also, because of the drop in fuel prices and raw materials, the high demand for dollars has dropped. However, the experts warn that the behavior of the exchange rate is not always predictable; it is very probable that after these months, the exchange rate will go back to being on the high end.

International tourism traffic decreases

(La Prensa Libre) — October registered a decrease of 1.3% compared to October 2007 in the number of international passengers according to the data revealed by the International Association of Air Transportation (IATA). However, the decrease in October was less than September which was 2.9% “The penumbra continues and the situation for the industry remains critical. While the fall of crude oil prices is a relief, the recession is now the major threat for the profits of the company. The reduction in the number of passengers could be temporal. But the great reduction in trade traffic indicates that the worse is yet to come,” declared the general director of the IATA, Giovanni Bisignani.

Basic Passive Rate experiments slight drop

(La Nacion) — The basic passive rate dropped last week a quarter of a point to go from 11.25% to 11%. The basic passive rate is an average of the saving interest rates in colones for time periods between 150 days (5 months) and 210 days (7 months) which calculates the Central Bank. In the last month, the TBP rounded 11% with decimals less or decimals more. Some experts, like William Calvo, the ex director of the Division of Economy of the Central Bank advise that just because the TBP has raised some in the last few months, do not think that it will raise a lot more, and that it probably will stay around 11%.

Drop in exchange rate is seasonal (La Prensa Libre) — The exchange rate for the dollar has dropped in the past few days,

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Law requires state entities to buy from CNP (La Nacion) — Small Costa Rican producers now have more opportunities to sell their products in the national market, thanks to a law that the delegates approved in the first debate that requires state institutions to make their purchases from the National Council of Production. The text of the law says that “public entities are required to obtain all types of generic supplies from the National Counsel of Production.” Those “generic supplies” are farming, fishing, and agriculture supplies generated by small and medium producers.” The CNP will serve as an intermediary to ensure they are purchasing from national producers, preferably from small and medium ones. These activities will allow the CNP to ease their crisis and avoid closing, and confront a deficit of ¢3000 million.

Society OPS emphasizes advances in the control of HIV-AIDS in Costa Rica (EFE) — The Pan-American Health Organization (OPS) emphasize the advances that the country has shown in control and prevents of HIV-AIDS in the last few years. In addition, representatives from the OPS declare that Costa Rica is an example, thanks to social security because all the sick have access to medical attention. “Costa Rica in one of the countries that has the problem controlled the most, but this does not mean that we should not take care of ourselves because the numbers indicate that there is ignorance about the disease and the way in which it is transmitted,” declared the Costa Rican Minister of Health, Maria Luisa Avila. For example, in 2006, 141 people died with AIDS, but in 2007 it reduced to 126 deaths. Currently in the country, there are around 7400 people registered with the HIV-AIDS virus.

December 15 begin to distribute 50 thousands GSM lines

(Al Día) — The 50 thousands GSM cellular lines that the Costa Rican Electricity Institute has available will go on sale Decem-

ber 15 and they hope to sell them at a pace of 2000-2500 per day. Due to the fact that ICE already has a waiting list, these lines will be distributed according to the list. These lines belonged to users that failed to pay on time and were taken away. The other 3000 thousands GSM Ericcson lines that ICE had announced will be available in the first months of 2009 according to public officials of this institute.

Taxis should have “marias” with speakers (La nación) — The Fourth Court received an appeal by a man who cannot see well that has problems knowing the exact amount that he should pay for taxi services. For that reason, now taxis should have “marias” (taxi meters) with speakers for those who cannot see well can know the amount to pay and not rely on what the taxi driver says. The Public Transportation Counsel (CTP) now has a time frame of two months to ask the taxi drivers to install these “marias” with speakers However, the measure is not clear about which taxis they will ask because the Fourth Court says that the measure should apply to “a reasonable portion of taxis that will have audio means or another form other than visual that allows people who cannot see well to verify the amount to pay.”

Flooding hits hard in the Caribbean

(La Republica) — The Costa Rican Caribbean zone greatly suffered last week from intense rains that left a destroyed and overflowing seaport in several towns in this area. Around 46 thousand people were affected and of those, close to 5500 had to go to shelters. The authorities declared that the material lost caused by these rains goes up to ¢42,000 million. Some say that this was the worse flooding in the Caribbean that has been registered in the last four decades. Near 15 thousands hectares of banana and some three thousand hectares sown with rise and corn were totally destroyed by the flooding. And as for infrastructures, there were damages reported in 8 dams, 28 ports, and 62 stretches of highway. As for housing, it is estimated that some 4600 houses were affected.

Working day for domestic employees reduced

(La Nacion) — A working day for domestic servants was reduced from 12 to 8 hours as the delegates approved a bill in the first debate that has been in waiting for 17 years. In addition to reducing the working day, now it also establishes that a working night for domestic servants cannot be more than 6 hours. In the country, there are close to 150,000 domestic employees. Also, in the new law that now waits for final approval in the second debate will establish that a special salary (whether it be lodging or food) cannot be a part of the minimum salary that currently is ¢115,433 per month. Another contemplated measure in this law is that they should have an insurance policy for work risks provided by the employer with the possibility of disability with pay for up to three months when they suffer an illness produced by contagious people that live in the home where the domestic employee works.

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Surfers begin National Circuit (Infocom) — The excitement of surfing started last weekend with the first event of the National Circuit of Surf Day Star 20082009 from the Costa Rican Surfing Federation. The first event took place in La Curva, of Playa Hermosa in Jaco, central Pacific.

This tournament is the most important in the country and the best exponents of this wave sport participate in it. It is a sport that day by day gains more followers in the country and in which Costa Rica already has a world potential figure, especially after finishing in fifth position in the past world surfing competition a few months ago in Portugal.

Even though at the close of this edition they did not know the results of this first event, it is anticipated that the start as well as the rest of the tournament will be full of competitive excitement because the country has great boarders that hope to win the crown in this ninth edition of the circuit that will finish in a year when Costa Rica also hosts the ISA World Surfing Games (which is the world championship of surfing) and because of that, all surfers hope to represent Costa Rican by being part of the national select. The circuit is made up of six events and ends May 3rd in Playa Hermosa.

For the rest of the year, there will be one more event, the second which will take place December 12, 13, and 14 in Playa Jaco. One month later the competition will return in 2009 on January 9, 10, and 11 in Playa Tamarindo Still being on Guanacastecan soil, the

fourth event will be at Playa Nosara, February 6, 7, and 8.

The fifth event is in Playa Santa Teresa, March 6, 7, and 8. Later there will be a two month break before the final event which as we noted previously will be at the beginning of May. To highlight the mechanics of the competition of this ninth National Surfing Circuit, it establishes that of the 6 events, 4 of them will count towards the final score, which means the surfers can omit two of their worse participations from the accumulated point board. In addition, the organizers increased the number of stars for the event. The inauguration event from last week had a 5 star grade, later the 2nd and 3rd events will have a four star grade; and the 4th and 5th events will have a 5 star grade.

“This will be the most fierce circuit of the 8 runs, definitely causing important CNS athletes to turn and notice other already positioned surfers that are showing even more power to be integrated into the national selection since it would be the dream of any surfer to compete in the world championship at home,” affirmed Jose Ureña, President of the Federation. This circuit will also have some important innovations in the categories in which they will compete; it has created the Grand Masters category, for riders older than 40 years of age, and in technological innovations that allows the judges to evaluate the waves and give an immediate result. The software for

Surfing without a doubt continues gaining followers in the country and surfers continue elevating their performances. The organizers promise that this ninth edition of the National Surfing Circuit will be the most fierce. Gilbert Brown is the current champion on this circuit. Photo Shifi Surf Shots

the judges and announcer of the event consists of evaluating the waves of the competitors and gives an immediate result, this way, the surfer will know his results as soon as he has ridden the wave and he will know his position for the next heat even before the round has finished, which aids the competitors and can help them in their strategies since they know beforehand the scores of their oppo-

nents.

According to the organizers, this edition of the CNS will be the most fierce because of the quality of the competitors and because of the desire to be taken into account for the national selection for the world championship of this sport that Costa Rica will host July 31-August 9.


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19

health

europe

Cancer incidence, death rate fall in United States

Germany says well on Adoption of EU skilled track to meet Kyoto goals worker ‘blue card’ delayed

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The rate at which new cancers are diagnosed and the death rate from the disease have both decreased in the United States for the first time in 10 years, according to a report published last week by the National Cancer Institute. “For the first time since the report was first issued in 1998, both incidence and death rates for all cancers combined are decreasing for both men and women, driven largely by declines in some of the most common types of cancer,” said the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, which tracks trends in the illness from 1975-2005.

Although the cancer mortality rate has been declining since the report was first published 10 years ago, what researchers found noteworthy in this year’s report was the fact that the cancer diagnosis rate also fell. “The decline in both incidence and death rates for all cancers combined is due in large part to declines in the three most common cancers among men (lung, colon/rectum and prostate) and the two most common cancers among women (breast and colon/rectum) combined with a leveling off of lunch cancer death rates among women,” the report said.

“We can see that in areas of the country where smoking and tobacco use are entrenched in daily life, men and women continue to pay a price with higher incidence and death rates from many types of cancer, urging a greater commitment by officials to implementing tobacco control programs,” said Betsy Kohler, head of the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR).

The continuing fall in mortality from cancer reflected “gains in prevention, early detection and treatment,” said Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS). But large differences still exist in cancer death rates by state and region, the report found.

Cigarette smoking accounts for around 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States, and lung cancer for eight in 10 smoking-related cancer deaths, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report.

It cited as an example the lung cancer death rate, which among men in California dropped more than twice as much as it did in many midwestern and southern states in 2005. Among women, lung cancer death rates increased in 13 states and decreased in only three between 1996 and 2005, the report said, urging tougher tobacco control programs.

The 13 states where lung cancer death rates for women are on the rise have “higher percentages of adult female smokers, low excise taxes and local economies that are tra-

New drug dims pain like pot, without the high

PARIS (AFP) – Scientists have found a way to release the pain-relieving potential of one of the same proteins in the body activated by marijuana, according to a study. In experiments on mice, researchers found a chemical that prevents a naturally occurring enzyme from blocking this cannabinoid receptor, called 2-arachidonoylgylcerol, or 2-AG. Once the enzyme, known as MAGL, is deactivated, the protein is more effective in dampening pain, say the team, led by Benjamin Cravatt of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. The complex human cannabinoid system is thought to hold great potential for the control of chronic pain, and could also prove useful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and even obesity. In earlier research, Cravatt and colleagues decoded the chain of chemical reactions that acted on another cannabinoid receptor, AEA, paving the way for the development of painrelieving medications. But finding the key for unlocking 2-AG proved more difficult. The tools – selective and efficacious MAGL inhibitors – just weren’t there, said Jonathan Long, a graduate student at Scripps and lead author of the study. The breakthrough came thanks to a new technique for rapidly testing large numbers of chemical compounds – all potential inhibitors – called Activity-Based Protein Profiling.

ditionally dependent on tobacco farming and production,” it said.

The rate at which new cancers were diagnosed fell by 0.8 percent per year from 19992005 for both men and women, while the death rate from cancer declined 1.8 percent from 2002 to 2005.

Cigarette smoking accounts for around 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States, and lung cancer for eight in 10 smoking-related cancer deaths, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report. Ww.sxc.hu

One of the 200 compounds the researchers created was particularly effective in blocking MAGL, and did not appear to interfere with any of several dozen other brain enzymes. Tests on mice showed that the new molecule – dubbed JLZ184 – increased the concentration of 2-AG in the brain, significantly reducing pain in the lab animals. The molecule did, however, have at least two drawbacks, highlighted by the complex web of reactions in neurochemical pathways: JLZ184 also caused hypothermia, a lowering of the body temperature; and reduced movement. These side-effects would have to be managed in any treatments developed for humans, the researchers said.

The annual cancer report will be published on the Internet on Tuesday, and will appear in the December 2 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Inhaled corticosteroids increase pneumonia risk in COPD patients

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Using inhaled corticosteroids to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) significantly increases the risk of pneumonia in patients, a report published last week showed.

The complex human cannabinoid system is thought to hold great potential for the control of chronic pain, and could also prove useful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and even obesity. www.sxc.hu

Cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, bladder, pancreas, liver, kidney and uterine cervix are also caused by smoking, as is a form of leukemia, the Surgeon General’s report said.

Researchers who reviewed and analyzed 11 randomized controlled trials involving 14,426 participants also found that inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy did not improve survival rates of sufferers of COPD, a smoking-related lung disease. “ICS therapy was associated with a 34 percent increased risk of pneumonia,” the research team from Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. state of Maryland and the University of Manitoba in Canada wrote in the November 26 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Furthermore, the higher the dose of ICS, the greater the risk of pneumonia, the report said.

“Recognizing the adverse events associated with ICS use is especially important since clinicians may increase ICS therapy from moderate to high doses in patients who are not responding,” the researchers wrote. “Our data suggest that increasing to higher

Biomechanical equipment Cardiovascular Free weights

ICS doses may place patients at greater risk of pneumonia,” they wrote.

Patients with low exhalation volume, on combination therapy – where corticosteroids are administered along with another treatment – and those on short-duration ICS therapy were also at greater risk of contracting pneumonia when using inhaled corticosteroids, according to the report.

The researchers, who were unable to clearly determine why ICS therapy increases pneumonia risk, also found that using inhaled corticosteroids does not improve survival rates for COPD, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

by Simon Sturdee

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The EU’s new “blue card” scheme to attract skilled migrant workers has been postponed, the bloc’s French presidency announced.

BERLIN (AFP) – The German government released data for 2007 greenhouse gas emissions that it said showed it was well on track to meet its international climate change commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

The blue card, meant to entice highly-qualified non-EU nationals to Europe by giving them access to certain rights in any nation, was due to be endorsed on December 8.

Greenhouse gas emissions, blamed for causing global warming, were 22.4 percent lower in 2007 than the base years of 1990 or 1995 set out in the protocol, the environment ministry said in a statement. Germany pledged under Kyoto in 1997 to lower its emissions by 21 percent by 2012 and the figures for 2007 show that Western Europe’s most populous country is now “assured” of meeting its goals for the years 2008 to 2010, it said.

It cautioned however that the reduction last year was in part due to a mild winter and because consumers scrambled to buy heating oil in 2006 before a higher tax rate came into force in 2007.

Because the results are based on when fuel is bought and not when it is burned, releasing the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, this skewed the statistics somewhat.

It said that “sadly” there was an increase in emissions from power stations, “showing that government efforts in the area of renewable energy sources were not yet enough to compensate for the increase in electricity demand.”

A report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the rise was because high gas prices and five nuclear power stations were out of action, prompting more power generation using more polluting coal. “It is therefore expected that the figures for 2008 will not be as positive as for 2007,” Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in the statement. “The figures on the whole look good but it is no reason to relax.”

The data came ahead of crunch international talks hosted by the United Nations from in Poznan, Poland aimed at preparing the ground for a new global climate pact to be

The data came ahead of crunch international talks hosted by the United Nations from in Poznan, Poland aimed at preparing the ground for a new global climate pact to be signed in Copenhagen in December 2009. AFP/

signed in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The Copenhagen accord, set to be the most complex and ambitious international climate agreement yet, is intended to follow on from the commitments of the 192-member UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Kyoto Protocol after 2012. “Kyoto is just a first, small step. In order to be able to counter climate change we must make massive steps forward,” Gabriel said. “This is why we are pressing in talks for an EU climate package with ambitious goals.”

The European Union has fixed a triple climate objective for 2020 -- a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, generating 20 percent of its power with renewables and cutting energy use by the same amount.

But many of the EU’s 27 members want to protect their national industries from the costs that the targets would involve and the global economic slowdown has made governments want to spend money in other areas.

“The Blue Card will be formally adopted in the early months of 2009,” said French Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux, after chairing talks with his EU counterparts in Brussels. The Czech Republic, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency from France on January 1, had previously held up a deal until its own workers were given access to all EU member states. The barriers to them in Germany and Austria are set to come down in 2011.

“There’s no problem,” said Hortefeux. “The fact that the Czech Republic has lifted its objections has permitted us to adopt the project and it will be endorsed under their presidency.”

The blue card, meant to entice highly-qualified non-EU nationals to Europe by giving them access to certain rights in any nation, was due to be endorsed on December 8.

The European Parliament, in a non-binding report last week, urged the 27 EU countries to set the salary bar for immigrant workers higher than they had planned.

a job offer in Europe which pays at least 1.7 times the national average wage in the country they are applying to work in.

However, he added: “There is no margin for manouevre to adjust the text on the ceiling for salaries.”

With their population growth in decline, EU member states are looking to foreign labour to fill certain jobs but are struggling to compete with the United States, which attracts roughly twice the number of skilled workers.

“The states are not bound by these amendments but we are not taking the parliament’s vote lightly and we are going to see if improvements are possible,” a French diplomat said.

The MEPs wanted EU interior ministers to insist that “blue card” candidates must have

EU states have agreed that the amount should be 1.5 times the salary level. The level could be lowered in some countries in sectors short of workers.

The package narrowly avoided disaster in October, with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi only withdrawing vetoes when some decisions were put off to an EU summit on December 1112 – when the Poznan talks are due to wrap up.

The only interventions which improve survival rates among COPD patients are quitting smoking and supplemental oxygen, according to the report.

Characterized by bouts of coughing, sputum production and breathlessness, COPD affects 10-15 million people and claims 120,000 lives each year in the United States. Inhaled corticosteroid therapy is used only to reduce symptoms and complications associated with COPD, according to the report.

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Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

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global affairs

americas

China warns of worse to come for its economy

Raul Castro ready to meet Obama in ‘neutral place’: Penn interview

Peter Harmsen

BEIJING (AFP) – China’s economy slowed further in November, the nation’s top planner said, as he warned the government was being forced to act to avoid massive unemployment and social unrest. Zhang Ping, the minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission, made the sombre remarks at a briefing explaining recent measures to trigger domestic consumption and lift economic growth. “In November, a number of economic indicators are showing accelerated decline. The production at some enterprises has encountered difficulties, especially enterprises that focus on exports,” he said. Zhang was speaking a day after China announced a 108-basis-point interest rate cut – the steepest in 11 years – and a few weeks after an unprecedented four-trillion-yuan (590-billion-dollar) stimulus package. With China’s economy headed towards what could become its biggest crisis in two decades, observers said Zhang’s remark was significant and a warning of bleak economic data for November, to be published in the coming weeks. “Zhang certainly gets to see November figures earlier than the rest of us,” said Ma Qing, a Beijing-based analyst with consultancy CEB Monitor Group. October figures were already far from stellar, demonstrating just how vulnerable China

Warnings have increased recently from senior Chinese policy-makers about the impact the global economic crisis will have on the domestic economy. AFP

was to the global financial meltdown. In one example, China’s industrial output grew by just 8.2 percent in October from a year earlier, a steep decline compared with 17.9 percent year-on-year growth in October 2007. China’s economy, the world’s fourthlargest, expanded by 9.0 percent in the third quarter, the lowest level in more than five

Japan estimates 30,000 temporary workers to lose jobs TOKYO (AFP) – More than 30,000 temporary workers in Japan will likely lose their jobs by next March, a survey showed, as companies drastically cut costs to cope with the global economic slowdown. From October to March, 30,067 temporary workers are expected to lose their jobs, the labour ministry said. That compares to a total of only 2,028

regular employees who will be made unemployed during the same period, it added.

Temporary workers are usually the first to be fired as they have less employment protection than regular employees.

As economic conditions deteriorate around the world, Japanese businesses – particularly export-dependent manufacturers – have responded by slashing jobs to reduce costs.

years. The World Bank this week said it expected the Chinese economy to grow by 9.2 percent in 2008 before hitting a 19-year low of 7.5 percent in 2009. Amid the slowdown, Zhang warned there would be more job losses and potentially a rise in social unrest across the nation of 1.3 billion people. Job cuts in the manufacturing sector make up two-thirds of the expected job losses, with the number spiking in the industrial pockets of Aichi, Gifu, Tochigi, Nagano and Hiroshima prefectures, the report said. Aichi prefecture, where auto giant Toyota is headquartered, is expected to see 4,104 losses among temporary workers, it added.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp earlier last week said it would cut 1,100 jobs or third of its temporary workers in Japan. Toyota Motor Corp. said it plans to axe 3,000 jobs – half of its part-time workforce. Mazda is scrapping 1,300 temporary jobs and Subaru-maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd

“Some companies have stopped all or part of their operations, and this will naturally have an impact on employment. In some areas we’re seeing rural workers returning back home to the countryside,” said Zhang. He defended measures taken in the south of China to support struggling enterprises, with reports of local governments earmarking major funds aimed at keeping them in business. “I think it’s necessary. If too many enterprises suspend business or stop production, it will result in large-scale unemployment, and it could trigger social instability,” he said. Warnings have increased recently from senior Chinese policy-makers about the impact the global economic crisis will have on the domestic economy. Last week, social security minister Yin Weimin said the employment situation was already “critical” and that the full fall-out from the crisis still remained to be seen. In Chinese cities, there is a need for 24 million new jobs every year, but currently there is only capacity to create half that number, according to official estimates. In an indication of the kind of unrest that might be in store for China, 500 workers stormed a toy factory in the south this week, smashing windows and computers, in protest over what they called meagre severance packages.

said it will end contracts for some 800 temporary workers by the end of next month.

Non-regular workers made up a record 36 percent of the entire workforce in Japan in 2007, the government said in a survey earlier this year. As Japan exited its decade-long slump, many businesses switched from employing regular workers to cheaper temporary workers. Non-regular workers are not included in Japan’s monthly unemployment report, which showed that the jobless rate fell unexpectedly to 3.7 percent in October from 4.0 percent in September.

Slavery is ‘reality’ for 27 million people GENEVA (AFP) – Slavery is a reality of modern-day life for over 27 million people around the world and efforts to combat the problem remain insufficient, a United Nations rights expert warned. “Last year, the world celebrated 200 years of the abolition of the slave trade. However, slavery is not history,” said Gulnara Shahinian, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary slavery.

The phenomenon affects more than 27 million men, women and children in both rich and poor countries who are kept in conditions of forced labour such as debt bondage and sexual slavery, she said.

“Slavery is the reality of modern-day life. It has evolved in many parts of the world into many diverse and cruel forms,” Shahinian warned in a statement ahead of International Slavery Day on December 2. Earlier this month the Catholic Church in Brazil said the use of forced labour in the

country’s booming ethanol industry had increased dramatically, and that 7,000 people were freed from virtual slave labour in the sugar cane fields from 2003 to 2008.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Cuban President Raul Castro is willing to meet his soon-to-be U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in a “neutral place,” according to an article by actor Sean Penn published by The Nation magazine. “We should meet in a neutral place. Perhaps we could meet at Guantanamo. We must meet and begin to solve our problems,” Castro said in reply to Penn’s questions on the possibility of an historic meeting between the two. “At the end of the meeting, we could give the president a gift ... We could send him home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay,” Castro joked of the base the U.S. navy occupies against Havana’s will. Tensions between the United States and Cuba have been strained for almost five decades. A “full” U.S. trade embargo has been in place since 1961, though during his presidential campaign Obama indicated a desire to review ties with the communist island. Castro, 77, said he would “have to think

about” committing to a meeting in Washington, however. “I would discuss it with all my comrades in the leadership,” he said. “Personally, I think it would not be fair that I be the first to visit, because it is always the Latin American presidents who go to the United States first. “But it would also be unfair to expect the president of the United States to come to Cuba.” Cuba and the U.S. should “respect each other,” said Castro, who took the reins of power from his brother Fidel, 82, in July 2006 when the elder leader underwent intestinal surgery. “We have never held anything against the American people. Good relations would be mutually advantageous. “Perhaps we cannot solve all of our problems, but we can solve a good many of them,” he said. On the idea of lifting the U.S. trade embargo, which in the view of some could pro-

The woman, Adidjatou Mani Koraou, 24, was sold at the age of 12 for the equivalent of 366 euros by a Tuareg slave trader.

“We need to acknowledge the existence of traditional forms of slavery, increase our understanding of slavery in its modern forms and develop innovative strategies” to tackle the problem, the UN rapporteur urged.

mote democracy on the island, Castro said “we welcome the challenge.” Some 70 percent of the Cuban population have lived their entire lives under the trade embargo, Castro noted.

Amazon deforestation up almost Leftist Latin America leaders to create joint monetary zone 4.0 percent Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Brazil’s Amazon jungles, known as the lungs of the world, lost almost 12,000 square kilometres (4,800 sq. miles) in just 12 months, a rise of almost 4.0 percent, new figures showed last week. The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said the deforestation of the vast jungles due to encroaching farm exploitation, was 3.8 percent higher from August 2007 to July 2008 than in the previous 12 months. The areas most affected were in northern Para and in the central Mato Grosso region, which is a huge producer of soya beans. Over the past three years, the Brazilian authorities have succeeded in sharply reducing the loss of the Amazon rainforests, the biggest zone of tropical woodland on the planet. Brazil is fighting to preserve its five million square kilometers of Amazon forest, a battle which it wants to be recognized as a service against global warming. It argues that its efforts should be rewarded with financial input from other countries which would go to helping poor Amazon populations that might otherwise turn to cutting down trees. But the results from 2007-2008 show that a surface equivalent to Solvenia or Israel was lost compared with the previous year.

CARACAS (AFP) – Leftist Latin American leaders agreed to create a joint monetary zone to confront the international financial crisis and reduce dollar dependency, at a oneday meeting in Caracas, Venezuela.

A ‘Brown Capuchin Monkey’, one of an endangered native species of Amazonian fauna, lies at a natural reserve certified by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA), located on the shores of the Rio Negro, the Amazon River’s largest affluents, in Manaus, northern Brazil. AFP/Mauricio LIMA

The government had warned that the figures were likely to rise and has brought in new measures to combat the problem, including a system of fines. It has also passed a series of agreements with soya, meat, wood and mineral producers that they will not buy illegal products. Environment Minister Carlos Minc has said that without these measures the deforestation would have been twice as large.

“You cannot dismiss the fact that sugar cane cutters are transported and housed worse than animals, forced to work around the clock to exhaustion and even to death,” a Church committee rebuked the Brazilian government. In another example of the problem, the West African state of Niger was fined in October for failing to protect a woman sold into slavery when she was 12.

On the idea of lifting the U.S. trade embargo, which in the view of some could promote democracy on the island, Castro said “we welcome the challenge.” AFP/

The primary objective of a meeting between the two leaders would be an effort to “normalize trade,” he told Penn without hesitation. “We have newly advanced research that strongly suggests deepwater offshore oil reserves, which U.S. companies can come and drill. We can negotiate. The United States is protected by the same Cuban trade laws as anyone else.” The interview with the Cuban leader, which lasted seven hours, was a journalistic coup for the actor, which appeared in a Nation article titled “Conversations with Chavez and Castro,” including a recent visit with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. “I can promise you this,” Raul Castro said at the end of the interview: “When Fidel finds I have spoken to you for seven hours, he will be sure to give you seven and a half when you return to Cuba.” Penn said that in his meeting with Chavez, the elected Venezuelan leader, asked how he was different from Fidel Castro, explained: “Fidel is a communist. I am not. I am a social democrat.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the leaders of Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador and Dominica met under the umbrella of the ALBA trade alliance, set up by Cuba and Venezuela in 2004 as an alternative to U.S.-backed free trade policies. “We’re not going to wait for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to solve our problems with our arms crossed,” Chavez said.

The anti-U.S. leader urged Latin American and Caribbean allies to stop seeking loans from the Inter-American Development Bank, based in Washington, and to create their own regional bank as an alternative. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, a former economist, proposed the new bank, as

well as a joint system of common reserves for Latin America, and a regional monetary system, which could begin with an electronic currency.

“I propose that this future currency be called sucre,” Chavez said, creating an acronym for Unified System of Regional Compensation. Ecuador’s former currency was the sucre, after Latin American independence hero Antonio Jose de Sucre, until it switched to the dollar in 2000. Correa, the president of OPEC’s newest member, took part in Wednesday’s meeting as an observer.

Participants also agreed to support Ecuador’s recent decision to contest 3.8 billion dollars, or about one-third, of its foreign debt. ALBA – the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas – is made possible thanks to Venezuela’s oil wealth.

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Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

entertainment

Spears wins German prize for ‘stunning comeback’

BERLIN (AFP) – U.S. pop singer Britney Spears will picked up a top German media prize in recognition of her “comeback from an absolute low point” in her career, organisers said. Spears, 26, collected the Bambi statuette for Best International Pop Star, and perform a song from her new album, at a gala ceremony hosted by the Hubert Burda Media group, which has given out the gongs since 1948. “Britney Spears is back,” Burda said in a statement. “Radiant and better than ever, the erstwhile teenie idol has reclaimed her throne.”

Patricia Rieke, editor-in-chief of Burda celebrity magazine Bunte, called Spears a role model for young women around the world for bouncing back from a string of public humiliations. “Her stunning comeback from an absolute low point impressed all of us,” Rieke told reporters. Spears hit rock bottom in January when she was twice rushed to hospital for psychiatric treatment after losing custody of her two sons to her ex-husband Kevin Federline.

Her new album “Circus” is to be released on December 2, her 27th birthday, containing the single “Womanizer” which has already leapt to the top of the music charts.

Other winners at the 60th annual Bambis

GERMANY, Offenburg : German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld presents U.S. singer Britney Spears her special Bambi category pop international during the 60th edition of the Bambi media prize awards ceremony in Offenburg, western Germany. AFP/ TORSTEN SILZ

include Hollywood actress Meg Ryan, British racing champion Lewis Hamilton, fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger, U.S. actor Keanu Reeves and Spanish tenor Placido Domingo.

sports

Reese Witherspoon baffled by reports of Vaughn rift

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon says she is baffled by reports of tension between her and co-star Vince Vaughn on the set of new holiday season comedy “Four Christmases.” Speaking in Beverly Hills ahead of the new film’s U.S. release last week, Witherspoon described towering “Wedding Crashers” star Vaughn as the “funniest man she has worked with.” “Every co-star I ever work with I’m either having an affair with him, I’m about to get married with him, or having a baby or we absolutely cannot stand each other,” Witherspoon, 32, said of gossip reports. “We got along great, we were very good friends and we were very much partners on this movie,” added Witherspoon, who won an Academy Award in 2006 for her performance in Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.” “Vince is the funniest person I’ve ever worked with. It was a challenge for me to stay there and keep up with him. But I feel really a better actor for that experience,” she added. The difference in height between Witherspoon and Vaughn – he stands at 6ft 5in, she is a petite 5ft 2in – did cause headaches. In some dancing scenes Vaughn was required to carry Witherspoon in order for her to fit in the camera frame. Witherspoon’s latest role sees her and Vaughn play a couple who are forced to abandon their plans for an exotic Christmas vacation and must visit their four parents separately over the holiday period. The chaos

PARIS (AFP) – Revolutionary starting blocks are expected to send world swimming records tumbling again in 2009, after an Olympic year when hi-tech suits helped competitors go faster than ever.

Developed by Omega, the Swiss watchmaker responsible for time-keeping at world competitions, the innovation won the backing earlier this year of FINA, global swimming’s governing body.

that ensues forces them to re-examine their relationship. Mother-of-two Witherspoon, who divorced actor Ryan Philippe in 2007 and who is now romantically linked to “Brokeback Mountain” star Jake Gyllenhaal, said she was attracted by the story of juggling family commitments at Christmas. “I’d never seen anyone do the idea of the blended family and how they have to go to a million different places at Christmas,” she said. “But I hear people complain about it constantly and it’s a situation my own children will have to deal with.”

The “adjustable slanted footrest allows swimmers to use a crouch start with the rearpositioned leg at a 90-degree angle at the knee, generating an optimal starting profile,” the company said at the time. The blocks were already tested at the warm-up pool for the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne and a “test event” for the Beijing Olympic Games in January this year.

European swimming experts say their inclined plates and steeper, five-position rear footholds are similar to those already used in

Better performances were also due to hard work and improvements in training, said Auguin. “These boys and girls train a lot,” he said.

track and field events.

“This will obviously bring better performances,” said Claude Fauquet, head swimming coach of the French national team.

“It would be much better to talk about them and not about starting blocks, swimsuits and pools,” he insisted.

“With the rear support, the speed at which one can leave the block will be much more important,” said Fauquet.

“If a swimmer has more speed at the beginning, he will go further into the water. So there will be less swimming and more energy available for the entire race.”

Alain Bernard, the 100m freestyle champion in Beijing who broke four world records in 2008, said the “advantage of these blocks is swimmers can push a bit longer and more towards the back than towards the bottom of the platform.” For his coach Denis Auguin, these platforms will “change quite a lot” in the sport.

“The necessary power that a swimmer could transmit from existing blocks was previously sufficient only in regard to the fact that there was no support for the rear of the foot,” he said. Auguin raised concerns that the platforms will prove to be as controversial as the tightfitting swimsuits that helped competitors like

Auguin raised concerns that the platforms will prove to be as controversial as the tight-fitting swimsuits that helped competitors like U.S. sensation Michael Phelps break new ground in 2008.

U.S. sensation Michael Phelps break new ground in 2008.

However the blocks were likely to cause the sport “less damage” than the suits, he said, even though “those with more strength will have an advantage.”

“Really it would be a mistake to once again take such a rearguard stance, but maybe all the talk once again will revolve around the equipment and not the swimmers,” he said.

Disgraced sprinter Montgomery admits doping for Sydney

NEW YORK (AFP) – Disgraced former 100-meter world record holder Tim Montgomery has admitted to doping before the 2000 Sydney Olympics and says he does not deserve his 4x100m relay gold medal in an interview with HBO Sports. In a prison cell interview to HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Montgomery confirms he took human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone before Sydney, which could cause the relay to lose its gold medal. “Prior to the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia, I broke the rules. I used testosterone and then I used (H)GH four times a month,” Montgomery said. “I have a gold medal that I’m sitting on that I didn’t get with my own ability.” The admission could prompt the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to strip gold from the US 4x100 relay, which also included Maurice Greene, Jon Drummond, Bernard Williams, Brian Lewis and Kenneth Brokenburr.

“I’m not here to take away from anybody else’s accomplishments, only my own,” Montgomery said. “And I must say I apologize to the other people on the relay team if that was to happen.”

The IOC stripped Sydney gold from the entire U.S. men’s 4x400 relay after Antonio Pettigrew admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs. Each column, row and box must contain each number from 1 to 9. There is only one solution, wich is shown here.

23

Records tipped to tumble in 2009, thanks to new blocks The newly designed platforms – whose forward-leaning wedge shape allows swimmers to propel themselves further into pools – are to be introduced at next year’s World Championships in Rome.

UNITED STATES, Hollywood : Cast member Reese Witherspoon arrives for the world premiere of the “Four Christmases” movie at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD

Dic 2 - Dic 8, 2008

Marion Jones, Montgomery’s former girlfriend and mother of his son Tim Jnr, was stripped of five medals from the Sydney Olympics after admitting to doping, with a U.S. 4x400 gold and 4x100 bronze vacated because Jones was a dope cheat.

Montgomery, who declined to speak about Jones for the interview, will spend the next nine years behind bars. He was sentenced to five years last month for distributing heroin

after a prior four-year sentence in a check fraud scheme.

“Mentally I wanted it, but physically I didn’t put in the work to get it,” Montgomery said. “I just wanted my name in the paper and my face on TV.”

Montgomery was asked if his downfall came more from ignorance, greed, hunger for fame and fortune or trying to find a shortcut to glory. “I would say all of them,” Montgomery replied. “It’s the same combination that made me a champion that turned to be my downfall.”

Montgomery said that BALCO founder Victor Conte never said the products he supplied for what was dubbed “Project World Record” were steroids but added, “I knew. I’m not going to lie. I knew.” Montgomery went on to the glory of a world record but after his mark was erased and his suspension imposed, the 33-year-old American hit the bottom.

A technical committee will meet at the end of January in Miami, Florida, to study all proposals suggested by a swimming commission at a World Cup session earlier this month in Stockholm.

But the meeting is only expected to rubber stamp the introduction of the new blocks. Pools at the 2009 World Championships in Rome will be properly equipped.

Sport ministers lobby EC to consider ‘6+5’ rule

According to French sports minister Bernard Laporte, the ministers have requested the EU “studies the compatability of a minimum requirement to field players eligible for the national team with European law”.

“Why did it take this? That’s the question I wake up to every day and go to sleep to. (I kick myself) all day long.”

Montgomery never failed a drug test but admitted using a once-undetectable steroid in 2001 to BALCO investigators in 2003 and that was enough to start his fall.

“FINA will consider this criterion in order to validate the blocks by mid-March at the latest,” the swimming body’s executive director Cornel Marculescu said.

BIARRITZ (AFP) – The European Union’s 27 sport ministers signed a joint declaration here Friday calling on the European Commission to study the compatibility of the controversial ‘6+5’ proposal with European law.

“When I was locked in that cell, and I was by myself, I had time to think on everything that had happened,” Montgomery said. “How did this happen? That’s the question I’m dealing with every day.

Montgomery set a world 100m record of 9.78 seconds in Paris in 2002 that was erased from the books in 2005 after he was issued a two-year doping ban for links to the BALCO steroid scandal, a punishment that led to his retirement.

The platforms were to have been installed at pools for the Beijing Olympics, but the move was cancelled as it was not possible for national federations to obtain them in time for the swimmers to get used to them in training.

Montgomery set a world 100m record of 9.78 seconds in Paris in 2002 that was erased from the books in 2005 after he was issued a two-year doping ban for links to the BALCO steroid scandal, a punishment that led to his retirement. AFP

“I was depressed,” he said. “I curled up for two weeks, didn’t come outside. The rug had been pulled out from under me and I was ashamed.” That led Montgomery to seek fast and easy money in a check fraud scheme and later led to drug dealings. “I made the bed so I’m going to lie in it,” Montgomery said.

Now he has time to ponder how he will be remembered in sports history.

“As I sit back at night, that’s all I have is the dreams and memories that I have accomplished,” Montgomery said. “I got guys in there - ‘Oh you don’t have it no more,’ or ‘Steroids is the only thing that made you fast.’ “But I hope they view me and look back at my track record, and say that he had it. So I’m hoping I’m viewed as a man because I lived my life as a boy.”

The ‘6+5’ rule, which is not yet in force but has the support of FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, would force European club teams to name a minimum of six home-grown players in their starting XIs.

Despite Blatter’s backing, the rule would appear to contravene European employment law regarding the free movement of workers. The sport ministers also reached an agreement to create a consultancy framework related to sporting activity within the EU and a plan for sport training programmes incorporating both sporting and educational elements. “I was anxious about whether or not we would be able to present a united front on certain subjects,” said Laporte after the meeting. “But I was delighted by the unanimous way in which my colleagues approved our stance on such important projects.”

Other topics discussed included an increase in the regulation of club finances and a ban on the transfer of players aged 18 or under proposed by UEFA head Michel Platini.


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The Journal Edition # 165