Vol. 3 • Edition 169 • Weekly • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009 • Costa Rica, Central America •
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Half the planet could be hit by food crisis by 2100 Half of the world’s population could face food shortages by the end of this century due to climate change, a new study warned last week.
Crisis to halve Latin American growth next year Economic growth in Latin America will be cut by more than half in 2009 to its lowest rate in six years due the global financial crisis, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean reported.
Cancer-stricken Swayze ‘going through hell’
Actor Patrick Swayze says he is “going through hell” in his battle against cancer but has denied reports that he is close to death. Speaking in his first television interview since being diagnosed with the illness in January last year, the 56-year-old heart-throb he was “scared and angry” but determined to beat the disease.
Huge interest in Armstrong’s race comeback
The first of the European teams have arrived in Australia for this month’s Tour Down Under, but the travel details of cycling superstar Lance Armstrong were still under wraps.
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Lead Story P. 4 Most tourists who come to Costa Rica are attracted by the country’s countless natural riches, among them tropical forests, which hold great biodiversity. TJ/InfoWebPress
Costa Rica favorite Latin American destination again: Travel Weekly For the fifth consecutive year, Travel Weekly magazine has named Costa Rica as “Top Latin American Tourism Destination” for the year 2008. The recurrent distinction exalts Costa Rica’s meticulous and arduous emphasis within the tourism sector. The methodology behind choosing the top destination is based on the survey among 180,000 Travel Weekly magazine subscribers — which is done online and through printed magazine forms and known as Travel Weekly Reader’s Choice Awards. In addition, these subscribers are linked with the tourism industry in the United States and represent hotels, travel agencies, tour operators, suppliers and corporations.
The areas that voters take into consideration are the quality of the tourism services, excellence in service and the country’s natural attractions. Costa Rica attracts millions of tourists each year due to its beaches, incredibly diverse National Parks System, hotel infrastructure and stable political environment. This year, Costa Rica beat other popular destinations such as Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Belize for the distinction. The honor goes out to the work of all sectors within the industry such as Costa Rica hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, service providers, transportation companies, rent-a-cars and more.
The survey has taken place in the past six years and includes 55 different categories.
Playas del Coco, Guanacaste 506.2670.2212
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
ALSO INSIDE P. 6
Business & Economy
State banks receive capitalization funds
Last Jan. 5, the Treasury Ministry gave state-owned banks — Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica and Bancredito — the bonds that make effective the government’s aggressive capitalization plan established by Law 8703, which was published last Dec. 23 in the official daily La Gaceta. (P.6)
Health services in Nicoya Gulf islands expanded
The Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS) has expanded and improved the technology of the medical services it provides on Chira Island in the Gulf of Nicoya, as it seeks to better the quality of life of the 3,000 people who call this small insular territory home. (P.10)
Miss Greater Nicoya 800-1200 years ago
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and the person represented in the figure that accompanies this article may or may not qualify as a Miss Universe candidate by modern standards. The more important fact is that her presence permits the opportunity to evaluate the role of women in pre-Hispanic Greater Nicoya society, in this case some 800 to 1,200 years ago. (P.14)
Naughtiness at school points to failure in life
Children who badly misbehave in school are likelier to end up with a dud job, poor mental health, teen pregnancy or divorce, according to a British study. The paper, published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), provides statistical backing for teachers who sound warnings about antisocial behaviour, its authors say.. (P. 18)
Germany to set up 100-billion-euro fund for firms
Germany is poised to unveil a multi-billion-euro fund to aid companies unable to raise loans from banks wracked by the credit crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel said. (P. 19)
OPEC president calls for oil production cut
Newly-appointed OPEC president Angola called on oil companies to cut production to adhere to the cartel’s new quotas. (P.20)
Latin America leaders demand US end Cuba embargo
Latin American leaders last week demanded an end to the 46-year-old U.S. embargo on Cuba, in an unprecedented joint declaration issued just a month before Barack Obama takes charge in Washington. (P. 21)
Tom Cruise talks of ‘horrific’ Travolta son tragedy
Tom Cruise expressed his shock at the death of John Travolta’s son days ago and strongly dismissed suggestions that Scientology’s teachings may have contributed to the tragedy. (P. 22)
UCI unveils united world calendar for 2009
Cycling’s world governing body the UCI unveiled a provisional united World Calendar for 2009, thus ending a rift which had threatened to permanently split the sport. The Tour de France, Italy’s Giro and the Vuelta in Spain, as well as one day monuments like Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege have joined a line-up of 24 races for the coming year modelled around the 2005 to 2007 Pro Tour. (P.23)
Costa rica tides chart Day
Information for Pacific Coast
04:03 / 10.00 ft 10:14 / -1.06 ft
16:34 / 10.05 ft 22:40 / -0.49 ft
04:52 / 9.90 ft
11:02 / -1.01 ft
17:23 / 10.10 ft 23:29 / -0.40 ft
05:41 / 9.58 ft
11:48 / -0.72 ft
18:10 / 9.90 ft
00:19 / -0.10 ft
06:30 / 9.06 ft
12:35 / -0.22 ft
18:59 / 9.49 ft
01:09 / 0.36 ft
07:20 / 8.42 ft
13:22 / 0.42 ft
19:48 / 8.96 ft
02:01 / 0.89 ft
08:13 / 7.74 ft
14:11 / 1.11 ft
20:40 / 8.39 ft
02:57 / 1.39 ft
09:10 / 7.14 ft
15:05 / 1.76 ft
21:36 / 7.88 ft
Area: Population: Capital: Language: Time Zone:
ogy P.18 Health P.19 Europe P.20 Global Affairs P.21 Americas P.22 Entertainment P.23 Sports
51,000 km2 4,075,261 (July 2006) San Jose Spanish UTC/GMT-6 hours
�arazul…a sensory experience that will stir the soul and enrich a lifetime of memori�.
Emergencies 911 2688-8918 2670-0258 2690-0128 2666-0994 2666-0011 2685-8400 2257-7922 2670-0987 2666-1881 8380 41 25 24 hrs. 2665-0704
Transport Central Line San José Central Line Liberia Interbus Pulmitan Liberia Tica Bus
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Tropical tranquility in exotic Co�a Rica.
Useful Numbers EMERGENCY SERVICES Fire Medical Alert (Ambulance) OIJ (Police Special Branch) Red Cross Hospital Liberia Hospital Nicoya Hospital San José Clinic (Coco) Clinic (Liberia) Emergency Medical Service Santa Monica Radialogy Center
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Vol 3 • Edition 169 Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009 Costa Rica, Central America
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Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Costa Rica favorite Latin American destination again: Travel Weekly (InfoWebPress – www.journalcr.com) – For the fifth consecutive year, Travel Weekly magazine has named Costa Rica as “Top Latin American Tourism Destination” for the year 2008. The recurrent distinction exalts Costa Rica’s meticulous and arduous emphasis within the tourism sector.
The methodology behind choosing the top destination is based on the survey among 180,000 Travel Weekly magazine subscribers — which is done online and through printed magazine forms and known as Travel Weekly Reader’s Choice Awards. In addition, these subscribers are linked with the tourism industry in the United States and represent hotels, travel agencies, tour operators, suppliers and corporations. The survey has taken place in the past six years and includes 55 different categories.
The areas that voters take into consideration are the quality of the tourism services, excellence in service and the country’s natural attractions. Costa Rica attracts millions of tourists each year due to its beaches, incredibly diverse National Parks System, hotel infrastructure and stable political environment.
For Minister Benavides, the Biedron family — beyond the symbolic number of tourists arriving in Costa Rica last year — reflects the type of visitor Costa Rica wishes to receive: families committed to the environment who seek authentic experiences.
This year, Costa Rica beat other popular destinations such as Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Belize for the distinction. The honor goes out to the work of all sectors within the industry such as Costa Rica hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, service providers, transportation companies, rent-a-cars and more. Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, commented about the special distinction, mentioning that it is an acknowledgement of the country’s hard work and dedication within the tourism industry.
“We are very proud about having been awarded in this category, and particularly because the winners are chosen by prominent members of the U.S. tourism industry, who recognize the quality of the Costa Rican product and commits us to continuing improving as a destination,” Benavides said. The award was announced shortly after Costa Rica welcomed its 2 millionth tourist for the year 2008 last December, an honor that was shared by the Biedron family.
The Biedrons — a New Jersey couple and their five children — were chosen randomly
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Arenal Volcano es one of the natural Costa Rican beauties that tourists choose for their vacation.
as part of a process coordinated by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) and tour operators involved in the Tourism Sustainability Certificate (CST) program Previous to this specific selection, a statistical analysis had been conducted to establish calculations for the arrival of the 2 millionth visitor, whereby the arrival of this tourist was to occur between Dec. 15-19. The calculations were validated by the University of Costa Rica’s (UCR) School of Statistics.
“The Biedrons, who represent tourist No. 2 million, are the type of travelers we want in Costa Rica, those who are committed to sustainable practices, but who also come to our country seeking a destination full of warmth, nature and where they can live cultural experiences that are real,” Benavides pointed out. The Biedrons of New Jersey are part of the 29 percent American citizens that choose Costa Rica to vacation with their families. Recent studies on habits of tourists conducted by ICT indicate that those tourists who come to Costa Rica on vacation with their families possess college degrees or higher with annual income over $150,000. They learned about Costa Rica as a destination from friends or relatives and enjoy sun and beach activities, nature walks, canopy rides, visits to volcanoes, among others.
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Cocos Island advances in ‘Natural Wonders’ online contest
relations and marketing coordinator for the foundation. “To carry out this campaign, we have distributed e-mails, participated in various fairs and in the Ocean Week, and we have also given talks at businesses to encourage people to vote; it’s a word of mouth campaign.”
(InfoWebPress – www.journalcr.com) – Costa Rica’s Cocos Island has made it to the next phase of an Internet contest seeking to select the word’s “Seven Natural Wonders” among 300 candidates from around the planet.
The contest is organized by www.new7wonders.com, a project by a Swiss Foundation in which Web users can express their preferences and help pick seven finalist. The same foundation had organized a similar contest that selected the “New Seven Wonders of the World” in 2007.
According to information provided by the Friends of Cocos Islands Foundation, because of its size, isolation and conservation status, the Costa Rican island is one of the most privileged natural sites in the world. With an important number of endemic species and singular biological diversity, Cocos Island can be considered an ideal natural laboratory to conduct research on the evolution of species and long-term environmental monitoring.
In this new phase of the competition, a site is selected to represent each country, based on number of votes received through Dec. 31, 2008.
Now, a new voting process begins that will run until July 7, 2009, which will reduce the number to 21 finalists. Contest winners will be announced on July 21.
Cocos Islands, off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, possesses unique natural treasures that have made it a favorite among nature lovers, all of which has helped it stay and progress in the competition. Additionally, a committee has been formed in Costa Rica under the leadership of the Friends of Cocos Islands Foundation, whose goal is to advertise the merits of this oceanic jewel locally and internationally to fetch the greatest number of votes. The Seven Natural Wonders of the World will be announced in 2010, and Cocos
Cocos Islands, off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, possesses unique natural treasures that have made it a favorite among nature lovers, all of which has helped it stay and progress in the competition. Photo courtesy of Friends of Cocos Islands Foundation.
Island — which famed oceanographer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau called “the world’s most beautiful island — hopes to be on of them.
“The Friends of Cocos Islands Foundation leads the support to this initiative, and we are fighting to be among the first 21 positions worldwide,” said Jessica Chavarria, public
Taking into consideration such exceptional characteristics, the government of Costa Rica created in 1978 the Cocos Island National Park, which was later declared the nucleus of the Cocos Island Marine Conservation Area. In 1991,Additionally, UNESCO named the island in 1997 a World Heritage Site and a year later was declared a Wetland of International Importance under the 1991 Ramsar Convention. On Oct. 11, 2002, the government of Costa Rica gave Cocos Island the title of Historical Architectural Heritage.
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Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
State banks receive capitalization funds
thus guaranteeing their capacity for credit expansion through a healthy tool such as capitalization.
(InfoWebPress – www.journalcr.com) – Last Jan. 5, the Treasury Ministry gave stateowned banks — Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica and Bancredito — the bonds that make effective the government’s aggressive capitalization plan established by Law 8703, which was published last Dec. 23 in the official daily La Gaceta.
“We hope in this way to be able to meet one of the government’s commitments, which is guaranteeing employment as much as possible, as it is a pillar of the economy of Costa Rican families,” Zuñiga said. “That’s why I want to thank the legislators, who by passing the bill so quickly, made such a necessary measure a reality.”
The injection of funds (in the amount of $117.5 million) was made to help these banks beef up their lending capabilities as a way to spur the economy and mitigate the potential effects of the global economic crisis in Costa Rica, including a decrease in economic output and its impact on employment and revenue of Costa Rican families. “When we brought this bill to the Legislative Assembly, I told (legislators) that as far as we were concerned, we were taking on the commitment of making this capitalization effective immediately, and that now it was up to them to pass the bill,” Treasury Minister Guillermo Zuñiga said when the bill was introduced on Dec. 23. “This capitalization effort strengthens the banks’ assets, which is the right move to make in the midst of the current international financial environment. It also allows financial entities to have the necessary resources to reopen their credit lines. That’s why it fills me with pride to present, so close to Christmas, the bonds that will capitalize our state banks, through which we hope to guarantee, as much as possible, the employment of Costa Ricans.” The Minister stressed that a state bank
The capitalization process will be done through bonds called Development Units (UDES), equivalent to $117.5 million. To carry out this transaction, the respective amount in colones will be converted in UDES according to the current exchange rate on the day the bonds are issued.
The injection of capital into the state bank seeks to reactivate lending for the country’s production sector. Photo TJ.
The funds available in the following manner: $50 million in bonds to the Banco Nacional, $50 for the Banco de Costa Rica, and $17.5 million for Bancredito. The bonds are divided in four equal tracts, with maturation in 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
capitalization had not taken place for quite some time, and that it was possible now thanks to the surplus the Treasury has been accumulating since 2007.
Speaking about the reasons for the move, Zuñiga said that considering the current international environment, it has two goals: strengthening the capital reserves of state banks and preventing and mitigating the impacts of the crisis on domestic production,
outside the box
Well, yes; it is going to be a tough year
Javier Segura M. General Manager-DCL Realty Consultants email@example.com
I am not answering the million dollar question. I mean, coming here to tell you that 2009 is going to be a tough year is a little bit silly. Even though, that is what I want to tell to all of you, whose means of life depends directly or indirectly of the Real Estate and Tourism industries. The global crisis (very popular phrase on this days) is taking most of everybody’s attention, and many are expecting some sort of magical event to happen after January the 20th. However, we know that it is going to get worse, before we start to feel some economic recovery. We know that it is imminent… the companies´ quarterly reports are doom messengers and the talking-heads are announcing the downfall of the world economy. The environment is confusing, sad, frustrating, annoying, and there are many other adjectives that can describe how we all feel at this moment… “we are victims, what can we do? We are just innocent bystanders”, said one of my clients, last December; and he was partially right… just partially. There is a lot of entrepreneurs involved in the markets here in Costa Rica. Most of them professionals, experienced people, and tough businessmen; but let’s face it, in this markets there are amateurs too. No matter what, this collective and freezing fear is affecting everybody… and yes, many feel like victims, or just innocent bystanders. But here I am with a slightly different opinion, if you indulge me the disagreement. I am not here to give you a collective, and hopeful, pep talk. The truth is that none of us can make this crisis disappear. But why don’t we put a small part of the solution? We know that it is a jungle out there, and only the fit will survive, that is our deepest fear: not being fit enough. Well, this is what you can do, as individual and as individual
person to contribute with the solutions. Maybe these paragraphs can help you. Maintain calm. Do not let fear take over your mind. Fear is the mother of all bad business decisions. Do not rush into things… Business introspection may be you best mental strength in this crisis. Take advantage of the situation. If you are a developer that is starting a project, take your time with the planning and the permits stage, do not run. If you have the final product already finished, try to obtain a roll over financing that will give you time to wait for the market to rebound, do not fire sale your project, and polish the marketing strategies and/or lateral business ventures. If you are in the tourism industry, explore market segments, break free all those crazy marketing ideas that have been locked-away by a high occupancy rate. Free you mind… go for it!!!!! Do not rush does not mean to be sitting in your hands. It mean to think, to plan, and to execute, with surgical precision your project. Recover those dusty strategy books that you keep in your office, seek help if you need it; and always bear in mind that strategic mistakes are not affordable during these times. Try and be efficient but do not contribute with the crisis. It is simple, you have to be more efficient in the spending, but avoiding spending at all only will help the crisis. If you need goods or services, be more selective, get more value for your money, but do not postpone the acquisition of important goods and services. We all want to be one of the survivors, but that will require the skills, knowledge and patience that our former booming market, now dead, never asked for. In this new ball game, only the good ones will last; but a bright future still lays ahead of us, the light at the end of the tunnel is out there, we only need to move steadily, smartly, and tirelessly toward it.
Edition 169 â€˘ Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
FDA opens Latin America field office in Costa Rica
(InfoWebPress â€“ www.journalcr.com) â€“ U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt and HHS Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach were in Costa Rica last week to mark the opening of an HHS/ FDA office to serve Latin America. Costa Rica was chosen for the regional office because of the growth of the countryâ€™s medical device and medications industries, whose main market is the United States. In fact, Costa Rica is home to 23 multinational firms that make or design medical devices with an export value last year of $960 million.
According to FDA, the countries of Latin America are key trade partners for the United States, and the HHS/FDA presence in the region will allow the countries to work closely together. The office in Costa Rica is the first in a series in the region, which will eventually include an HHS/FDA presence in South America and Mexico later in 2009. Work on the Costa Rica office opening began in June 2008, when Secretary Leavitt and health ministers from the countries of Central America and Panama gathered at a summit in El Salvador to map out a broad framework for cooperation on food and product safety.Â Through its office in San Jose, FDA will
also verify that export products from Central America will meet the conditions and requirements to be accepted into the U.S. market. The new office will work with six representatives from the region, which will implement coordination strategies to abide by U.S. standards throughout Latin American and the Caribbean through visits and supervision activities in countries such as Mexico, Honduras, Panama and others.
Leavitt said the opening of this office Costa Rica is part of a global strategy to boost safety of products coming into the U.S. market and promote collaborations among trade partners. It follows the opening of an HHS/ FDA office in Brussels to spearhead regulatory collaboration on food, drugs and medical devices with the European Commission; the introduction of three HHS/FDA offices in China, in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou; and the announcement the department will open HHS/FDA offices in two cities in India.Â HHS/FDA is also pursuing options to open a location in the Middle East.
The FDA is the U.S. agency responsible for protecting public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that
p r e m i u m h om e l i f e s t y l e
make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health.
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The FDAâ€™s budget for approving, labeling and controlling medications is approximately $290 million. The agency has teams that employ some 1,300 workers for the process of approving new drugs. Secretary Leavitt traveled from Costa Rica to Panama City to announce an expanded curriculum for the Regional HealthCare Training Center (RHCTC) there. The RHCTC will begin capacity-building in the regulation of food, drugs and medical devices in 2009, and will also offer training in oral and dental health to professionals from around the region.Â The center was founded when HHS established a cooperative agreement with the Gorgas Memorial Institute on Health Studies in Panama.
.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt
Roads to Papagayo and Panama Beach to be built
(InfoWebPress â€“ www.journalcr.com) â€“ The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) announced it will build a highway connecting to the Papagayo Hotel, which is part of the Gulf of Papagayo Tourism Development in Guanacaste. The project will have a cost of 600 million colones (little over $1 million) and has already been approved by the Comptroller Generalâ€™s Office. In addition to this highway, other works will be conducted in the area â€” including a building for the local Tourist Police, water and electricity services, and an access road to Panama Beach, which will cost an additional 500 million colones (almost $1 million). The Gulf of Papagayo Tourism Development includes 2,000 hectares of coastal territory and 17 diverse beaches with tranquil waters â€” ideal for family enjoyment, diving and water sports, as the clear waters allow to see the marine wonders of Culebra Bay or simply rest under the shade of the many trees in the region or hike along trails on a primary tropical forest watching the many animal species endemic to this place.
Culebra Bay is abundant in marine species of great scientific and economic value, as the waters of the region are rich in plankton, their main food, which grows on the coastal mangrove forests. Tourists can also enjoy caves, islets, dolphins and other sea animals such as cat sharks, giant turtles and many multicolor fish.
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At the Guanacasteâ€™s Golden Mile
The Gulf of Papagayo Tourism Development was started in 1974, when the firm Tecniberia, hired by the Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE), conducted a study of the tourism potential of the isthmus. The effort created the Central American Tourism Promotional and Financial Program, whose goal was to attract international visitors in large groups for vacation.
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The Gulf of Papagayo Tourism Development includes 2,000 hectares of coastal territory and 17 diverse beaches. TJ/InfoWebPress
General objectives of the study included the development of a tourism hotspot, which would attract local and foreign tourists, taking advantage of the regionâ€™s resources to the fullest by exploring diversity of destinations and image that would allow this region to compete in the international sun-beach-ocean market. This would combine with other natural attractions, including volcanoes, national parks, wildlife reserves, also incorporating other tourism projects in the vicinity. This hotspot would be developed as part of a master plan that would guide physical organization and a long-term plan â€” whose goal was to determine the projectâ€™s feasibility and the stages of possible intervention from the public and the private sectors, seeking to make it a model for sustainable tourism development in the world.
The Gulf of Papagayo Tourism Developmentâ€™s boundaries are established in the Land Maritime Zone Law and go from Cabuyal Beach to Hermosa Beach. Regarding investments in the project, 42.8 percent come from national funds, 33.3 percent is mixed capital (Costa Ricans and foreigners), and 23.8 percent is strictly foreign capital.
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Health services in Nicoya Gulf islands expanded (InfoWebPress – www.journalcr.com) – The Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS) has expanded and improved the technology of the medical services it provides on Chira Island in the Gulf of Nicoya, as it seeks to better the quality of life of the 3,000 people who call this small insular territory home. Now, Chira Island residents will receive healthcare in a mobile building — the first of its kind put to work by CCSS, which funds and runs Costa Rica’s public hospitals and clinics.
Because Chira is located within a protected land-maritime zone (which puts restrictions on permanent buildings and other developments), CCSS opted for such a type of facility. The mobile clinic has been set up on the lot where the Ministry of Health owned a wooden building for more than 30 years.
The EBAIS (basic health center) unit is located in the community of San Antonio in Chira, had a cost of 80 million colones (around $145,000) and covers 192 square meters. It includes a waiting room, medical consultation rooms, nurse’s station, vaccination and infusion area, observation room, pharmacy, dental office, tele-consultation room, videoconference and Internet resources, and others.
The center has equipment worth 10 million colones (some $18,000), including sterilization equipment, EKG, minor surgery equipment, refrigerators for vaccines, gynecological beds and ergonomic chairs. The EBAIS will be staffed daily by two
primary care technical assistants and one nursing assistant, who will take care of minor injuries and other small afflictions. In case of emergencies, a doctor (who visits the islands of Chira, Venado and Caballo twice a week) will be contacted. A building similar to the one in Chira is also being planned for Caballo Island, as the current medical center there is in poor condition, unlike the facility at Venado Island which was built recently.
Another improvement to healthcare in the Nicoya Gulf islands is the new sea ambulance service that will be used to transport patients experiencing emergencies to the Monseñor Sanabria Hospital in Puntarenas. This ambulance is equipped with special gurneys to transport patients both during the ocean ride and as they arrive at the hospital on mainland. The watercraft meets all requirements established by the Ministry of Health.
The main medical emergencies faced by Nicoya Gulf inhabitants are premature labor, injuries stemming from the fishing trade, sting ray injuries, and traffic accidents — particularly involving motorcycles, which are the main transportation means on the islands. The sea ambulance will have available floating docks installed at each of the islands, so that patients can be more easily loaded onto the transportation unit, also facilitating the work of the medical and paramedical personnel at the respective EBAIS.
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Guanacaste families benefit from private home financing program
(InfoWebPress – www.journalcr.com) – Cement and construction materials giant CEMEX is promoting a program that allows families in the cantons of Cañas, Bagaces, Tilaran, Liberia and Abangares to build, remodel, expand or repair their home through a very accessible savings system. “Patrimonio Hoy” — Patrimony Today — is a microfinance program with a duration of 70 weeks, during which affiliates can obtain construction materials without having to worry about the cost of ways to procure them.
Miguel Naranjo, market development and corporate relations manager for CEMEX in Costa Rica, said this program is a good option for those families dreaming of having their own home or repairing their existing one, without having to get a loan.
The advantage of becoming a member of “Patrimonio Hoy” is that affiliates save a small amount of money weekly toward their total costs, with the guarantee that the prices of the construction materials they get won’t go up during the 70 weeks of the program. Another benefit is that affiliates can talk to an engineer about what they would like to do to their home, and the engineer will take care of the project’s blueprints and design at no cost.
“Affiliates of this program have the advantage of getting the materials they need (cement, gravel, sand, metal roofing sheets, steel rods, and others) upfront, before they
have saved the total cost of the materials,” Naranjo explained. “We provide free transportation of the materials to their home or construction site or store them up to a year.” Several families have already gone through the program, and the positive results they had prompted them to start another savings plan to make other improvements to their home.
An example is Julio Cesar Mora, who built a garage for his home thanks to “Patrimonio Hoy.” Right now, he is involved in the program again to build an addition to his house. “I’m very satisfied with how professional the program is and the facilities it provides. It’s a great advantage to be able to save to build, expand and repair your house without having to pay interests, and it’s even more gratifying to see your project finished,” Mora said. “Patrimonio Hoy” began in 1998 in Mexico — where CEMEX is based — with the goal of reducing the Mexican housing deficit by organizing low-income families into selffinancing cells that facilitate and expedite the typical home-building process. So far, credits for $83 million have been granted, with an on-time payment rate of more than 99 percent. In 2007, the program continued to expand in Latin America. It now has over 100 centers and has served more than 208,000 families in Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
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Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Miss Greater Nicoya 800-1200 years ago women (and probably many more had been in charge prior to the incursions of southern Mexican peoples in the last centuries before the arrival of the Spanish). As many scholars have noted, the Mexican-like veneer that arrived at that time masks a distinctly non-Mexican cultural content in earlier centuries.
By Frederick W. Lange Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and the person represented in the figure that accompanies this article may or may not qualify as a Miss Universe candidate by modern standards. The more important fact is that her presence permits the opportunity to evaluate the role of women in pre-Hispanic Greater Nicoya society, in this case some 800 to 1,200 years ago.
It is very likely that woman-directed (or matriarchal) societies had a long history in Greater Nicoya, in this case back to at least 1,500 years before the arrival of the Spanish, and perhaps long before. These figures are more closely related to the southern Mesoamerican groups (generally referred to as Chorotegan peoples) than to tribes of Chibchan or South American background. It is almost certain that the kneeling posture, stamped body designs, and shamanistic masks would tell us all about this woman’s status and role in society, if only we had the key to the code!
This ceramic figurine type (called Papagayo Polychrome by the community of practicing archaeologists) is found throughout Greater Nicoya. An interesting, genderrelated fact is that although there are many female Papagayo Polychrome figurines in museums and private collections, no similar masculine figures have ever been recovered. Multiple examples of this clay figurine type are on exhibit in the National Insurance Museum and the National Museum of Costa Rica in San Jose, and in the National Museum of Nicaragua in Managua. These figures are mold-made and similar, although not always identical, in appearance. Like many clay figurines in South America and Mexico, the Papagayo Polychrome figurines were massed produced, probably in craftshops or religious workshops. Based on chemical analyses of the clays in various examples, we know that they were made in the Isthmus of Rivas, possibly at the site of Tepetate near the present-day city of Granada. A few fragments of the molds have been found documenting the manner of production. After looking at a number of these female figures in person or in photographs, analyzing their facial expressions and their body decoration, one gets the impression that these figures represent female participation in political and religious roles — they are definitely not toys. Perhaps they are even representations of women who were alive at that time. These figurines have extensive indications of bodypainting, body roller-stamping, or tattoos, all forms of body decoration that were popular at this time. Some show masks of shamanistic animals and others have delicately woven gauze-like garments. For example, in the image that accompanies this article, the figure is wearing what appears to be a cat
This ceramic figurine type is found throughout Greater Nicoya. It represents a female who is wearing what appears to be a cat mask, representing any one of five species of wild cats known to have existed in Greater Nicoya.
mask, representing any one of five species of wild cats known to have been in Greater Nicoya during the prehistoric period (and into the modern era until they have mostly become extinct because of destruction of their habitat). Other ceramic forms of the Papagayo Polychrome type include tripod bowls, ovoid human effigy heads, and bowls; these feature crocodile and jaguar motifs. The figures are hollow and always shown kneeling. Their breasts are subtly, but clearly defined and are bare and decorated except for the figures with the above-mentioned gauze tops. Except for ear spools, they almost never are shown wearing jewelry or other adornments. They are shown as staring quietly (is she contemplating the future?; is she in a trance?) and are never depicted as being involved in sexual activity (as are female figures in some other cultures such as the Moche, or even very occasionally in other Greater Nicoya ceramics). Also, only a few Papagayo Polychrome female figures are known to be shown as pregnant or to be
giving birth. They are never, to my knowledge, shown holding children. Why then were these figurines made? When the Spanish arrived in Greater Nicoya in the early 16th century, they noted that some villages were under the control of
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guanacastecans now have more options to learn English
(InfoWebPress – www.journalcr.com) – People in Guanacaste now have more options to improve their knowledge of English. With the growing number of English-speaking tourists visiting the region, alternatives to train tourism industry personnel on this essential language are growing with the goal of offering better customer service. High demand for learning English and the increasing social and economic development experienced in the Liberia region have motivated the U.S.-Costa Rican Cultural Center (CCCN) to expand its services to reach Guanacastecans. This initiative joins others promoted by the National Learning Institute (INA) and the Costa Rican Tourism Professionals Association (ACOPROT), which have started programs to train workers in the main tourism areas of the province. CCCN’s offices will be located in the building of the Alba Ocampo School. Unveiling will be in January, in conjunction with Castro Carazo Metropolitan University (UMCA) — which is also opening a campus in the region.
“The Cultural Center is coming to Liberia in response to requests we have received. Currently, we have many students from Guanacaste in our San Jose campuses, who now won’t have to travel so far to receive training,” said Roberto Biasetti, CCCN marketing director, who added that it’s part of
his not-for-profit institution’s mission to take English instruction to all parts of the country.
CCCN also offers its program on the west side of San Jose, in the Guachipelin area, through an alliance with Saint Mary High School.
The programs that will be offered on these regional campuses are English Now, Speak Plus (with an emphasis on pronunciation, vocabulary, listening and grammar), Teens Xtreme (for kids 12-15 years of age), and First Steps (for children 8-11 years of age). The teachers in charge of these classes all meet CCCN’s requirements for its educational personnel: experience, teaching certificate, having obtained at least 850 points in the TOEIC test, and having completed an induction program.
The teachers in Liberia will utilize the same materials used by CCCN in its main campus in San Pedro. They are also participating in training in CCCN’s headquarters. “In our new campuses we apply the same technology used in all of our centers. Additionally, we seek ways to share our other services, such as culture, library and exclusive language software, so that the students will experience a true holistic experience,” Biasetti concluded.
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
week in brief 2008 inflation closed at 13.9%
Politics Government calls on municipalities to use idle funds (La Nacion) — The government has vehemently called on municipal governments to put to use public investment funds they have in their coffers, for a total amount of 35 billion colones (around $60 million). However, the government’s municipal financing and development entity (IFAM) said the amount could be as high as 65 billion colones (some $120 million). The urgency of the call comes as the country deals with a difficult economic situation this year, with lower production and possibly higher unemployment. Costa Rica has one of the lowest municipal investment rates per inhabitant, similar to that of Nicaragua ($18 annually), while in Guatemala such expenses are $57 per person annually.
Business & Economy Ethical Traveler lists Costa Rica in world’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations for 2008
(Inside Costa Rica) — Ethical Traveler, the first grass-roots alliance uniting adventurers, tourists, travel agencies, and outfitters — everyone who loves to travel and sees travel as a positive force in the world — lists Costa Rica No. 5 in the world’s top 10 ethical destinations. According to the group, ethical travel is simply mindful travel: an awareness of our impact as we explore the world. Countries in Latin America make up half the top 10 ethical travel destinations for 2008. To create the list, Ethical Traveler conducts a study of the world’s 70+ developing nations, from Albania to Zimbabwe, looking at three general categories: Environmental Protection, Social Welfare, and Human Rights. Neighboring Nicaragua finished in No. 9.
Bill seeks to lift restrictions on private power plants
(La Prensa Libre) — Power generation companies, wether public, private or mixed, won’t have restrictions on the amount of electricity they can produce any more, thanks to a new bill drafted by the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET). MINAET Minister Roberto Dobles said the move seeks to reduce blackouts in the country. Currently, co-generators are allowed to produce no more than 20 megawatts annually, while cooperatives and municipal power companies can produce up to 6 megawatts a year. “Demand is growing quickly and will double in 12 years, so we will need to make an annual average investment of $400 million in energy generation,” Dobles said.
(Inside Costa Rica) — Costa Rica ended 2008 with an inflation of 13.9 percent, much higher than the 10.81 percent it closed at in 2007, according to the National Census and Statistics Institute (INEC). The INEC reports that food and non-alcoholic beverages were the main factors behind the high inflation in 2008, as this product group saw price increases of 22.8 percent over 2007. Early in 2009, the Central Bank had predicted an inflation rate of 8 percent for the year, but then quickly adjusted it to 14 percent as the year developed. The drop in fuel costs in December kept the inflation rate being closer to the Central Bank’s prediction.
Interest rates up 0.25%
(La Republica) — Once again, the Basic Passive Rate (TBP), which affects most lending in Costa Rica, went up again, this time from 11.5 percent to 11.75 percent. Since May of last year, the TBP has been steadily increasing, but in the past few months it stayed around 11 percent, with small increments on some weeks.
INS says it is ready for insurance competition
(Inside Costa Rica) — The National Insurance Institute (INS) will be launching new insurance products as part of its strategy to face the competition that is around the corner. Guillermo Constenla, president of INS (the state insurance market monopoly until last year), assured that the institution is ready to compete and will do whatever it takes to keep the majority of its clients from going to the competition.
Coffee exports up 41% in December
(Inside Costa Rica) — Costa Rican coffee exports in December, the third month of the new 2008-09 crop cycle, rose 41 percent to 88,966 bags of 60 kilograms each, the official Costa Rican Coffee Institute, or Icafe, said last week. This compares to Costa Rican exports of 63,316 bags in December 2007 during the 2007-08 crop cycle (October-September), Icafe said, citing first preliminary figures for the month. Total Costa Rican coffee exports in the first three months of the 2008-09 crop cycle from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, meanwhile, were up 25 percent to 204,663 bags from exports of 163,337 bags in the October-December period of the 2007-08 year. Physical harvesting of Costa Rica’s 2008-09 harvest is now underway across most of the country’s producing regions and is expected to start in earnest this month in most of the country’s key producing high-altitude areas. Coffee from the new crop normally doesn’t start reaching the market until December and exports shipped in the first few months of the new cycle traditionally consist almost exclusively of previous-crop beans.
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ICE says it no longer needs approval to raise phone rates
(Inside Costa Rica) — The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) has given itself a 10 percent raise in telephone rates, in both fixed and cellular lines, without the approval of the state regulatory agency (Aresep). ICE said it can raise the rates without regulatory approval thanks to the recently passed General Telecommunications Law, which opens up the telecommunications sector to competition. ICE directors voted to raise the basic cellular line rates from 2,900 to 3,190 colones that includes 60 minutes of air time. The per minute rates were also raised from 30 to 33 colones for peak time and from 23 to 25 colones for evening calls. As to fixed line telephone rates, the basic residential rate will go from 1,850 be 2,035 colones. The-per minute charge will go from 4.1 to 4.5 colones during peak times and from 2 to 2.25 at other times. At the end of last month, ICE announced a reduction in international calls and Internet rates that have already been reflected on the December bills.
Society Court orders CCSS to give patients Viagra (Inside Costa Rica) — A man suffering from erectile dysfunction and refused a treatment of “Sildenafil,” or Viagra, by the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS), will now have free access to blue pill, as the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of a suit filed by the man. The court has ordered the CCSS’ Director General, Paulino Hernandez Castañeda, the head of urology services, Rodrigo Cedeño, the director of CCSS pharmacies, Grettel Quesada Ortiz, and the Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia Hospital, to provide the patient his medication.
Ticos can now send more SMS messages
that allows the sending of text messages by cell phone. The new platform will make it possible to process 1,350 messages per second, compared to the 950 messages the current technology permits. Costa Ricans send more and more text messages every day, particularly on festive days such as Dec. 24 and Dec. 31.
2008 saw increase in murders of females
(La Prensa Libre) — Murders of women in Costa Rica in 2008 increased by 100 percent compared to 2007. While in 2007 16 females were murdered, last year that number jumped to 37. Of the 37 murders, 17 were perpetrated by spouses or love partners of the victims. June, August and September were the months that saw the most murders of this kind. On May 30, 2007, a law penalizing violence against women was passed, but it hasn’t seemed to have made an impact of murder rates. Also, in October 2008 the Constitutional Court ruled the law’s articles establishing prison terms against those guilty of emotional violence against women were unconstitutional.
Brewery cannot call “light” beer “light” — Consumer commission (Inside Costa Rica) — The Cerveceria Costa Rica, brewers of Imperial, Pilsen, Bavaria and other beer brands in Costa Rica, has run into muddled waters with its latest product, “Imperial Light.” The National Consumer Protection Commission (CNC) said that the brewery cannot use the word “light,” as it is misleading to consumers. The Cerveceria has been fined 2.5 million colones (over $4,000) and ordered to remove “light” from the label and advertising, as it does not meet the requirements of the product being sold. The manager of corporate relations for Florida Bebidas (which owns the brewery), Gisela Sanchez, said that the company will take the necessary measures to comply with the order and that the company did not set out to mislead its customers.
(Al Dia) — The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) has acquired new equipment
Costa Rica begins free trade talks with China (InfoWebPress – www.journalcr.com) – On Jan. 7, Costa Rica established a negotiating team of 70 people for a possible free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China. Free trade talks between the two nations will begin next Jan. 19, as part of a six-session negotiation process, with the last session to take place in about one year. This would be the first agreement of its kind between Costa Rica and an Asian nation, opening the doors to further negotiations with countries such as India, Singapore and Malaysia. Following the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Costa Rica last November, the foundations for a commercial accord between the two partners were laid. On that opportunity, Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Minister, Marco Vinicio Ruiz — in alliance with the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer) and the Chinese Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), and with sponsorship from stateowned Banco de Costa Rica — organized the “Economic and Trade Forum Costa Rica-China.” Such forum allowed a group of business owners from China to share their trade experiences with their Costa Rican counterparts. A series of talks was also organized, dealing with topics such
as business environment and investment opportunities. Ruiz’ Chinese counterpart, Chen Deming, was also present at the activity. Minister Ruiz underscored that according to estimates regarding the trade relations between Costa Rica and China, exports to the Asian giant would increase by 11 percent, while Chinese imports would jump by 6 percent. “Reaching a free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China would produce an increase in national exports of 16 percent, compared with an increase in Chinese exports of 10 percent,” Ruiz said. Ruiz also visited the Legislative Assembly’s International Affairs Commission to inform on the results of feasibility study for the free trade accord with China. The Minister told legislators about the importance to formalize trade relations with China through a trade deal, in addition to strengthening current commerce with the largest Asian economy and foment closer relations between the production sectors of both nations. Costa Rica established diplomatic relations with China following its decision to sever long-standing ties with Taiwan.
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Naughtiness at school points to failure in life
PARIS (AFP) – Children who badly misbehave in school are likelier to end up with a dud job, poor mental health, teen pregnancy or divorce, according to a British study.
The paper, published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), provides statistical backing for teachers who sound warnings about anti-social behaviour, its authors say.
It draws on an exceptionally long-term investigation, launched among 3,652 Britons who were born in 1946. With their consent, these volunteers have been monitored at occasional intervals since their birth, filling in questionnaires about their health, family and professional life. At the ages of 13 and 15, this group was assessed by their teachers, who were asked to grade their behaviour as having severe, mild or no conduct problems. A total of 9.5 percent of the teenagers were
with severe behavioural problems at school and 54.8 percent of those with mild problems. If the father had a manual job, this too was a major factor among teenagers in these categories.
identified as having severe problems; 28.8 percent had mild problems; and 61.7 percent no problems. Forty years later, the followup inquiry found a clear link between misbehaviour at school and difficulties in adult life. “Adolescent misconduct might adversely affect developing social behaviours and result in pervasive social and mental health difficulties throughout adult life,” the paper suggests. Compared with those with no conduct problems at school, those who severely misbehaved were twice as likely to become a parent before the age of 20; likelier to get divorced or have relationship problems with spouses, children or friends; four times likelier to leave school with no qualifications, and twice as likely to be in a manual job or unemployed.
The study is led by Ian Colman, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Alberta, Canada.
Compared with those with no conduct problems at school, those who severely misbehaved were twice as likely to become a parent before the age of 20. Photo: www.sxc.hu
Problems in life also extended, but to a lesser degree, to those with milder forms of misbehaviour. Males accounted for 62.6 percent of those
Colman says the study provides a useful guide for focussing resources to help teenagers whose behaviour could prove costly both to themselves in adulthood, and to society. He admits that the study has some limitations – there are no data to explain why children misbehaved, for instance.
On the other hand, the teachers’ assessment was a good indicator of a child’s risk of delinquency, and a better guide than the parents’ own assessment, he argues.
Everest climbers log lowest blood oxygen levels on record WASHINGTON (AFP) – British doctors scaling Mount Everest have measured the lowest human blood oxygen levels ever recorded, according to findings published last week. The study in the New England Journal of Medicine’s January 8 issue could help critical care doctors re-evaluate treatment for long-term patients suffering from respiratory distress syndromes, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, and other serious illnesses, many of which force their hosts to adapt to low oxygen levels in the blood.
The blood samples were taken just below the summit of Everest, at 8,400 meters (27,700 feet) above sea level, by the Caudwell Xtreme Everest team on an expedition led by University College London (UCL) doctors. Four team members unzipped their down
revaluate treatment goals in some patients who have been ill for some time and might have adapted to low levels of oxygen in the blood.”
suits and drew samples from the femoral artery in the groin, and the blood was quickly brought down and analyzed in a science laboratory set up in the team’s camp at 6,400 meters (21,100 feet), the study said.
The study established what had long been suspected – that high-altitude mountaineers have incredibly low blood oxygen levels which at sea level would only be seen in people close to death.
The team intended to take the samples on Everest’s 8,848-meter (29,029-foot) summit but severe conditions including temperature at minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 13 Fahrenheit) and winds above 20 knots forced them to a slightly lower elevation.
“By observing healthy individuals at high altitude where oxygen is scarce, we can learn about physiological changes that can improve critical care at the hospital bedside, because low oxygen levels are an almost universal problem in critical care,” UCL doctor and expedition leader Mike Grocott said. “These extraordinary low levels of oxygen
The average arterial oxygen level among team members sampled was 3.28 kilopascals (kPa) drastically lower than the normal measurement of 12 to 14 kPa. People who measure below eight kPa are considered critically ill.
found in high-altitude climbers may cause doctors looking after critically ill patients to
The average arterial oxygen level among team members sampled was 3.28 kilopascals (kPa) drastically lower than the normal measurement of 12 to 14 kPa. People who measure below eight kPa are considered critically ill. The study’s authors said they believed an accumulation of fluid in the lungs as a result of high altitude may have contributed to the low oxygen levels.
British first as baby born free of cancer gene LONDON (AFP) – A mother who is the first woman in Britain to have a baby selected free of a gene which causes breast cancer has given birth succesfully, doctors said. “The mother and her little girl are doing very well,” said University College London (UCL) of the baby, who grew from an embryo screened to ensure it did not contain the faulty BRCA 1 gene. The baby’s 27-year-old mother, who wants to remain anonymous, decided to take the step because several of her husband’s close
female relatives suffered from breast cancer.
Any daughter born with the BRCA 1 gene has an 80 per cent risk of developing breast cancer and a 60 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer – as well as a 50 percent risk of passing on the anomaly to their own children. Doctors said the parents were relieved to have a guarantee that the faulty gene would not be passed to their daughter.
“This little girl will not face the spectre of developing this genetic form of breast cancer
or ovarian cancer in her adult life,” said Paul Serhal, head of the Assisted Conception Unit at UCL Hospital.
“The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter. The lasting legacy is the eradication of the transmission of this form of cancer that has blighted these families for generations,” he said. The mother said in June: “We felt that, if there was a possibility of eliminating this for our children, then that was a route we had to
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The procedure was carried out using a technique known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis which has already been used here to screen embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization for disorders like cystic fibrosis.
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Czech minister denounces Western At least 67,000 migrants cross ‘prejudice’ against Turkey Mediterranean for refuge in Europe
PRAGUE (AFP) – Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU presidency, hit out at Western “prejudice” against Turkey which he said should eventually become a European Union member. “The Czech Republic is convinced that one day, Turkey should be a member of the EU,” he told reporters in Prague. “But I have to stress that, lamentably, prejudices in western Europe are existing... against the Turks.” “We should work in the EU ourselves to get rid of these prejudices,” added Schwarzenberg, whose country assumed the rotating EU presidency at the start of the year. Many of the “old” EU nations – France in particular as well as Austria and to a lesser extent Germany – are among the most hostile to mainly Muslim Turkey joining the European bloc. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has said Turkey has no place in the EU, has vetoed the opening of five of the 35 policy chapters which Turkey must successfully negotiate prior to membership. While Turkey is “of strategic importance to Europe” it has to accept all the conditions to become a European state and fulfill the criteria, said Schwarzenberg, admitting that was likely some way off. One abiding hurdle for Turkish EU mem-
GENEVA (AFP) – More than 67,000 people sought refuge in the EU in 2008 by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, the UN refugee agency said Friday ahead of a meeting to discuss the growing flow of clandestine migrants into southern Europe. Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said some 38,000 arrived in Italy and Malta alone, mostly after transiting through Libya.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg hit out at Western “prejudice” against Turkey which he said should eventually become a European Union member. AFP/
bership is its failure to deal openly with EU member Cyprus. Turkey is the only nation to recognise the Turkish-statelet in the north of the divided island of Cyprus. “The reform process in Turkey in the last years lost a bit of energy, there are some problems to solve,” Schwarzenberg said. Turkey began the formal process of EU membership in October 2005, but its progress has been markedly slower than that of Croatia which started at the same time and is on track to becoming the 28th EU member state, perhaps as early as 2011.
Germany to set up 100-billion-euro fund for firms BERLIN (AFP) – Germany is poised to unveil a multi-billion-euro fund to aid companies unable to raise loans from banks wracked by the credit crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel said. The package – worth some 100 billion euros (135 billion dollars) – is designed to tide otherwise healthy firms over until normal levels of bank lending resume, she said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag. “We do not need 100 billion euros of new money because this is about guarantees,” Merkel was quoted as saying. Berlin has already established a 400-billion-euro loan guarantee fund for banks affected by the global financial crisis.
Banks wishing to make use of the guarantee must adhere to conditions such as a restriction on executive salaries but loans to companies will not come with strings attached, Merkel said. Other proposals may include a cut in the base rate of income tax from 15 percent to 12 percent, a spokesman for Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck revealed earlier Friday. Merkel is under increasing pressure to pull Germany out of what analysts fear could be its most painful economic slump in 60 years. Berlin has been widely criticised for a tentative approach to the financial crisis.
Most were Somalis or Eritreans, and more than three quarters of migrants arriving in Italy after the sea crossing from Africa or the Middle East sought asylum.
“With few opportunities to enter the EU by regular means, thousands of people threatened by persecution and serious human rights violations in their home countries have no choice but to take the dangerous sea route,” Redmond told reporters. Interior ministers from Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta are due to meet in Rome this week to discuss irregular migrants arriving by sea.
The UNHCR said it understood that the issue may also be raised at an informal meeting of European Union justice and home affairs ministers in Prague on January 15. AFP
The UNHCR said it understood that the issue may also be raised at an informal meeting of European Union justice and home affairs ministers in Prague on January 15.
The agency urged EU member states to ensure that asylum seekers have access to their territory and that their claims are treated fairly.
Spain sees record fall in industrial output as economy slows MADRID (AFP) - Spanish industrial output plunged 15.1 percent in November on a 12-month basis, the biggest drop for at least 15 years, as the once booming economy slumps toward recession, official figures showed last week. It was the eighth straight month of declining output, and follows a slide of 12.8 percent in October, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said.
It was also the biggest drop since the INE began calculating industrial production using its current method in 1993. Over the first 11 months of the year, industrial production declined 5.8 percent.
Output of capital goods in November fell 16 percent and intermediate goods, or those purchased for resale or for use in producing final goods for consumers, slid 23.7 percent,
according to the INE’s seasonally adjusted figures. Consumer goods were down 9.4 percent, and energy 2.6 percent. Motor vehicle production fell 39.3 percent from November 2007.
Spain’s auto sector, the third biggest in Europe, has been badly hit by the economic slowdown, and many automakers in the country have announced staff cutbacks.
Spain’s economy, long an engine of growth and job creation in the eurozone, is on the verge of recession as the global financial crisis has hit the key construction sector, which was already weakened by oversupply and rising interest rates. The Spanish economy contracted for the first time since 1993 in the third quarter, shrinking 0.2 percent.
It was given the green light in Britain in 2006.
The procedure is still relatively rare but has been used to screen embryos for breast cancer in the United States and Belgium.
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Half the planet could be hit by food crisis by 2100 WASHINGTON (AFP) – Half of the world’s population could face food shortages by the end of this century due to climate change, a new study warned last week. According to researchers, there is a 90 percent probability that by 2100 the minimum temperatures in the tropics and sub-tropical regions will be higher than the maximums so far recorded in those areas. The affect on crop-growing in those regions would be dire, according to the projections based on direct observations and data culled from 23 computer models on the planet’s evolving climate patterns.
“The stresses on global food production from temperature alone are going to be huge, and that doesn’t take into account water supplies stressed by the higher temperatures,” said David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor. “We are taking the worst of what we’ve seen historically and saying that in the future it is going to be a lot worse unless there is some kind of adaptation,” added Rosamond Naylor, director of Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Environment/ In the tropics, the warmest temperatures will cut maize and rice harvests by 20 to 40 percent, the researchers said.
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Southeast Asia eyeing regional tourists
HANOI (AFP) – Southeast Asia will seek to attract more regional tourists to offset the effects of the global economic downturn on western markets, the region’s tourism ministers said.
The hotter weather will also reduce the moisture in the soil, cutting yields even further. Some three billion people, or half the world’s population, currently live in tropical and sub-tropical regions, and their number is set to double by the end of the century.
These regions stretch from northern India, southern China to much of Australia and all of Africa, and also extend from the southern United States to northern Argentina and southern Brazil.
Surin said about half of all visitors to ASEAN countries already came from within the region, and that the bloc would seek to attract more tourists from Japan, South Korea, China, India, Australia and New Zealand. “We will not be able to shield ourselves totally from the impact of the global slowdown but at least we have enough resources in the region,” he said.
“Asia’s middle class will travel anyway. But rather than travel far away they will certainly consider closer markets like ASEAN.” The bloc also plans a “Visit Southeast Asia” marketing campaign, to be designed with U.S. funding, and to target youth travel with new tour packages.
The Santiago-based ECLAC is a regional UN commission tasked with contributing to regional economic development. In December 2008 the group forecast economic growth of 4.9 percent for the region, which they adjusted to four percent in June and three percent in October. It was unknown how long the downturn would last.
Brunei, is one of the ASEAN members. of all visitors to ASEAN countries already came from within the region, and that the bloc would seek to attract more tourists from Japan, South Korea, China, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Tourism ministers from Japan, China and South Korea attended the Hanoi conference with ministers from ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
OPEC president calls for oil production cut LUANDA (AFP) – Newly-appointed OPEC president Angola called on oil companies to cut production to adhere to the cartel’s new quotas. Oil Minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos appealed for companies in Angola to reduce their production levels to meet the cuts agreed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in December. Angola took over the rotating presidency of OPEC in December. Speaking on state radio, Vasconcelos said he acknowledged the difficult financial situation facing the world and called for operators to work together to stabilise prices. “I am sure I can count on the collaboration
SANTIAGO (AFP) – Economic growth in Latin America will be cut by more than half in 2009 to its lowest rate in six years due the global financial crisis, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean reported.
The figure shows an end to six years of sustained growth following the 2002 recession, when the region experienced negative growth of 0.5 percent, ECLAC said.
“We’ll be lucky if we can keep it the same,” said ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan, who added that the sector had suffered in the last quarter of 2008 and was expected to be down through at least the first half of 2009.
of the operators in this instance,” he said.
Angola, which vies with Nigeria to be subSaharan Africa’s largest oil producer, has a new quota of 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, a nearly 20 per cent reduction on what it was producing in November 2008. This is expected to seriously affect the former Portuguese colony’s economic position which relies on oil for around 85 per cent of its income. OPEC agreed to cut production level worldwide in a bid to increase oil prices which fell from a high of 147 dollars in June last year to below 40 dollars in just a few months.
Crisis to halve Latin American growth next year
Regional growth is forecast to drop to 1.9 percent, a sharp recast of earlier data forecast by the group. This is a significant drop from the 4.6 percent growth seen in 2008, the group, known as ECLAC, said.
About 58 million people visited the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2007, the last year for which complete data is available, a meeting of ministers in Hanoi was told. The population of India is growing at an alarming rate with many of the population living below poverty line without even the basic necessities of food, clothes and shelter. AFP PHOTO/Noah SEELAM
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
“The depth and duration of the recession will depend on the effectiveness of demand stimulus measures implemented to compensate for the fall in private spending, as well as the return to normality of credit markets,” the report said. Peru is forecast in 2009 to post the stron-
gest growth in the region at five percent -- still a severe slump from the 9.4 percent recorded this year.
1.9 percent, the commission said, though it did not give a figure.
The crisis would likely cut the volume and prices of Latin America’s exports because of the downward pressure on commodities prices – the region’s main wealth.
Argentina is seen as one major economy that will suffer the worst, with 6.8 percent growth this year plummeting to 2.6 percent next year.
Remittances – the money sent back home by Latinos abroad – will also tumble, dealing especially hard blows to economies in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Its smaller neighbor Uruguay will confront growth going from 11.4 percent this year to four percent next year.
Venezuela and Bolivia are expected to show 2009 growth of three percent. The rest of the South American countries are seen generating between one percent and 2.6 percent economic expansion.
The study said Mexico and Haiti posted the lowest regional economic growth in 2008, with 1.8 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
The sudden downturn is likely to reverse the fall in unemployment and poverty experienced across Latin America during the recent boom. ECLAC forecast that regional unemployment will rise from 7.5 percent this year to up to 8.1 percent next year, with many workers pushed into the informal job market to survive. As a consequence, poverty, which currently affects 182 million people in the region, is expected to grow.
Direct foreign investment, which helped fuel recent expansion, and tourism are also to fall.
Remittances – the money sent back home by Latinos abroad – will also tumble, dealing especially hard blows to economies in the Caribbean and Mexico.
ECLAC said the dramatic drop in interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other banks, along with measures to boost consumer spending, should go some way to countering the crisis in the second half of 2009 – but that was not certain.
“We cannot exclude a more pessimistic scenario” in which the recession would worsen and credit sources evaporate, it said. If that occurs, growth would be less than
For Latin American countries, the difficulties and higher cost in accessing foreign financing would put the brakes on many industries. The only relatively positive point advanced by the commission was that inflation -- a persistent problem for Latin American economies -- would likely fall in many countries. The regional inflation indicator was expected to be shaved from 8.5 percent to six percent. The ECLAC advised regional governments to come up with “coordinated solutions” especially ones designed to spur demand and to boost trade.
Latin America leaders demand US end Cuba embargo COSTA DO SAUIPE (AFP) – Latin American leaders last week demanded an end to the 46-year-old U.S. embargo on Cuba, in an unprecedented joint declaration issued just a month before Barack Obama takes charge in Washington.
Presidents and top officials from 33 countries covering all of Latin America and the Caribbean – including Cuban President Raul Castro – made the appeal at the end of a twoday summit in Brazil. They also urged the “immediate” scrapping of measures reinforcing the embargo introduced under outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush over the past five years, and slammed the 1996 U.S. Helms-Burton law that blocked foreign investment and sources of finance for Cuba. “In the defense of free exchanges and the transparent practice of international trade, the application of unilateral coercive measures that affect the wellbeing of the people and obstruct the processes of integration are unacceptable,” the statement said.
Castro, attending his first multilateral summit abroad since taking over in Cuba from his brother Fidel more than two years ago, called the meeting “magnificent.” “I find the result very good, and I’m very content,” he told AFP.
He scored another symbolic victory over the United States at the summit, when the Rio Group – a policy-coordinating bloc covering most of Latin America – welcomed Cuba as its newest member, delivering a pointed challenge to Washington’s bid to isolate Havana.
Castro reiterated his willingness to hold talks with Obama, but only on condition the two meet each other as equals. Obama, who formally succeeds Bush on January 20, said during his presidential campaign that while he was ready to meet Cuba’s leaders, the embargo would stay.
Bolivian President Evo Morales urged the leaders at the summit to give Washington an ultimatum on the issue: lift the embargo on Cuba or risk having its ambassadors kicked
out of the region.
“If the new United States government doesn’t lift the economic blockade, we should expel its ambassadors,” said Morales, one of a growing number of leftwing leaders taking Latin America out of the U.S. orbit. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the host of the summit, distanced himself from Morales’s call, even though he reaffirmed his opposition to the U.S. embargo.
“Prudence and political diplomacy” was needed until Obama was formally made U.S. president so the region can “see what he proposes for Latin America, what treatment he will give Cuba,” he told a post-summit news conference with other leaders, including Morales, at his side. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s main ally and a frequent critic of Washington, said Tuesday he believed “a new era is starting” in the region, one free of U.S. influence.
He added Wednesday: “Full independence has not come about because we have never
been as united as we are now. Maybe now is the true moment for full integration.”
Both Morales and Chavez in September kicked out the US ambassadors to their countries, accusing them of siding with the opposition and fomenting unrest in Bolivia. Latin America’s ambitions to assert its independence from the United States could also be seen in efforts to establish joint institutions.
Unasur, a South American bloc counting 12 of the biggest nations, on Tuesday agreed to set up a regional defense council to act as a forum for confronting common threats.
And Mexican President Felipe Calderon said many Latin American leaders wanted to formalize their regional summits within a mooted organization which would not include the United States. If realized, that body would effectively rival the existing Organization of American States, which has seats for U.S. and Canadian representatives.
The deadline for each edition is the Wednesday preceding publication.
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Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
Tom Cruise talks of ‘horrific’ Cancer-stricken Swayze ‘going Travolta son tragedy through hell’ LOS ANGELES, January 8, 2009 (AFP) Tom Cruise expressed his shock at the death of John Travolta’s son days ago and strongly dismissed suggestions that Scientology’s teachings may have contributed to the tragedy. The Hollywood icon, who like Travolta is a devout follower of Scientology, described the death of his friend’s son Jett was “horrific” in a taped interview with ABC television’s The View program.
Cruise, who was visibly shaken throughout the interview, described Travolta and wife Kelly Preston as “doting parents” who adored their 16-year-old son, who died after suffering a seizure in the Bahamas.
“It’s horrific,” Cruise said in the interview, scheduled to air Friday. “It’s just horrific. Here you have a man, both of them doting parents, they’re wonderful people and ...”
“I remember Jett when he was born, John just adored him, both of his children, and Kelly ... I just don’t have the words for it,” Cruise added.
This undated picture released by the Travolta family on January 4, 2009 shows actor John Travolta (R) with his son Jett. Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston said they were “heartbroken” over the death last week of their son Jett, 16, who was found unconscious during a family vacation in the Bahamas on January 2.
prescription drugs, take painkillers, have surgery when they need it,” spokeswoman Karin Pouw said.
He later rejected claims by critics of Scientology that the religion discouraged followers from seeking conventional medical treatment.
“There is absolutely nothing in the religion that says it shouldn’t be done and the church absolutely does not encourage members not to.
A Church of Scientology spokeswoman told earlier this week the church has no teachings on what medical care members should seek and “absolutely does not prevent people from seeking medical treatment.”
Jett Travolta was to be buried in Ocala, Florida, where his family lives on Thursday, according to reports.
“That’s just not true, that’s actually the opposite” Cruise said. “They say, look, ‘Get your physical, get your medication, get your physical illnesses handled.’”
“If somebody’s sick, they go to a doctor. If the doctor says to take a certain medication, it’s a medical decision; the church is not involved whatsoever,” she said.
“Scientologists go to medical doctors, use
The youth was the only son of Travolta, 54, and actress Kelly Preston, 46. The couple also has an eight-year-old daughter, Ella.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Actor Patrick Swayze says he is “going through hell” in his battle against cancer but has denied reports that he is close to death. Speaking in his first television interview since being diagnosed with the illness in January last year, the 56-year-old heart-throb he was “scared and angry” but determined to beat the disease. “You can bet that I’m going through hell,” Swayze told ABC television’s Barbara Walters in the interview. “I’m at the beginning of my battle. And I expect it to be a long hard battle, one that I’m gonna win according to certain rules & the rules that the cancer isn’t going away,” he added. Swayze was diagnosed with advanced stage four pancreatic cancer last January, leaving him with only a one percent chance of surviving longer than five years, according to figures from the American Cancer Society. However Swayze says he greeted the diagnosis with defiance. “I have the mean-ness and the passion to say, ‘To hell with you. Watch me! You watch what I pull off,’” he told Walters. Swayze said he had initially hoped to keep his illness secret but went public with his condition to protect family and friends after tabloids said he had only five weeks to live. “Hope is a very, very fragile thing in anyone’s life and the people I love do not need to have that hope robbed from them when it’s unjustified and it’s untrue,” Swayze said.
Edition 169 • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2009
UCI unveils united world calendar for 2009
GENEVA (AFP) – Cycling’s world governing body the UCI unveiled a provisional united World Calendar for 2009, thus ending a rift which had threatened to permanently split the sport. The Tour de France, Italy’s Giro and the Vuelta in Spain, as well as one day monuments like Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege have joined a line-up of 24 races for the coming year modelled around the 2005 to 2007 Pro Tour. A new points scoring system, with individual, team and national rankings will also form part of the new system.
The 56-year-old heart-throb he was “scared and angry” but determined to beat the disease.
He later categorically denied reports that he was close to death. “Am I dying? Am I giving up? Am I on my deathbed? Am I saying goodbye to people? No way,” he stated. Although researchers are adamant that smoking increases the chances of somebody being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Swayze admitted he had not given up tobacco even though it may have caused his illness. “I am not a non-smoker. I’ve seriously cut down,” said Swayze, a decades-long smoker.
“What is important here is that cycling has regained its unity and harmony,” said International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid, who for the past three years has been battling disgruntled organisers of cycling’s big races. “There are no winners and losers but rather a reciprocal respect of the role and importance of the stakeholders.” Riders in 16 teams – the remaining line up from last year’s Pro Tour – will have the chance to race in the full 24 events to score in individual, team, and national rankings, UCI officials said.
A UCI-led group of representatives from each party that worked out the new calendar, points system and rules of participation will continue to iron out those issues for a permanent system from next year. Following years of feuding that led to divisions and, last season, confusion surrounding races on different calendars, McQuaid believes cycling is now on the right, united path. He told journalists the new world calendar and ranking “takes into account the heritage of our sport as well as legitimate ambitions for the global development of the sport”. International cycling’s chief told AFP he was very happy with the outcome, which allowed “both philosophies to live together” – a veiled reference to the governing body’s approach and the more commercial mindset of companies like Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organization (ASO).
Race director Mike Turtur said he expected pandemonium to break out every morning at the cyclists’ village and at the finish lines of the stage race with the appearance of Armstrong. “We’re expecting that Lance Armstrong will have more trouble getting to and from the start and finish line than the actual race itself,” Turtur told the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper Thursday. “Once he’s on that bike, he’ll be protected, but off the bike, who knows? “He’s created a groundswell of interest.”
Turtur said Armstrong’s appearance in the January 18-25 Australian event has attracted widespread interest from major European sports publications.
“You can even see that with the speculation for 2009. Participation in the Giro d’Italia is, by all reports, excellent and that is changing things. SWITZERLAND, Geneva : International Cycling Union (UCI) ProTour manager Alain Rumpf (L) and UCI Manager of the Road Department Philippe Chevallier are seen under a screen during a press conference on January 8, 2009 in Geneva. The Tour de France, Italy’s Giro and the Vuelta in Spain, as well as one day races like Paris-Roubaix and Liege-BastogneLiege have joined a line-up of 24 races for the coming year modelled around the 2005 to 2007 Pro Tour. AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI
“It is important, and I think even ASO recognised this, that the whole sport cannot be determined around one event, and that we need to create something that gives the sport a profile all year along,” he added.
“There will always be small points of disagreement, we continue to have those. But they’re nothing compared to what was there in the past when we had a complete breakdown in trust between the two sides in terms of the direction of the sport,” McQuaid explained.
Points tallies in the team and nation rankings will be based on the top five riders from each in a race instead of the top three.
One novelty highlighted by Alain Rumpf, the UCI official heading the working group, was an attempt to reinvigorate long races by introducing additional championship points scoring for the top five in each stage.
“The relationship is a lot better with all of
Howard, LeBron, Kobe and Yao top NBA All-Star voting NEW YORK (AFP) – Centers Dwight Howard and Yao Ming and star playmakers Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade lead the updated vote totals for the National Basketball Association All-Star Game.
Race organizers, mindful of the extraordinary interest that the seven-time Tour de France champion’s comeback has generated, have not released his arrival plans for fears of an unwieldy media scrum at Adelaide Airport.
Armstrong, 37, is in Hawaii, where he is reportedly taking a brief holiday break with his children before heading to Australia.
Top riders often tend to focus their season on a prestige event like the Tour de France. McQuaid hoped the new system would help to spread the interest.
Disagreements between the UCI, the race organisers of the ‘historic’ races and teams still have to be resolved for 2010.
Huge interest in Armstrong’s race comeback
Armstrong’s Astana team is scheduled to arrive early on Sunday, but reports said the American great is not expected until this week, just ahead of the January 18 start of the tour.
the different elements, with ASO and also with (Giro d’Italia organisers) RCS.”
Participation rights for 17 or 18 teams likely to be allowed next season will be determined by the previous year’s world ranking.
ADELAIDE (AFP) – The first of the European teams have arrived in Australia for this month’s Tour Down Under, but the travel details of cycling superstar Lance Armstrong were still under wraps.
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Orlando’s Howard set the overall pace with 2,102,368 votes with Cleveland forward James next at 1,940,162 and Wade on 1,818,717. Howard is a runaway leader at his position by more than 1.75 million ballots. Turtur said Armstrong’s appearance in the January 18-25 Australian event has attracted widespread interest from major European sports publications.
“The heavies are coming,” Turtur said. “It just shows the amount of interest Armstrong has created for Australia.” Former Australian Olympic cyclist Patrick Jonker said the length of the tour was well suited to the Texan.
“His (Astana) team has raced here before and they know the roads,” Jonker told the newspaper.
“It’s important for Lance that it’s a safe race and the safety record here is very good. “He’ll be nervous. He’s won the Tour de France seven times but he’ll be nervous on the start line.”
Belgian team Silence-Lotto arrived here last week, but the team’s star Australian rider Cadel Evans, runner-up in the Tour de France on the last two occasions, will not be racing in the Tour Down Under, preferring to focus on his preparations for July’s Tour.
Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers guard who claimed league Most Valuable Player honors last season, led Western Conference candidates at 1,903,798 with China’s Yao, a Houston Rockets star, next best in the West on 1,758,499. Shaquille O’Neal of Phoenix ranks a distant second to Yao with 1,006,383 votes.
Chinese forward Yi Jianlian of New Jersey continues to threaten Boston’s Kevin Garnett for the other Eastern Conference forward starting spot alongside James.
Garnett, who sparked the Boston Celtics to last year’s NBA crown and a 19-game win streak this season, has 1,375,814 votes to 1,216,348 for Yi, who joined the Nets this season from Milwaukee. Wade tops East guards with Detroit’s Allen Iverson in the other starting spot with 1,278,600 votes and his nearest rival, New Jersey’s Vince Carter, next on 856,498.
Houston’s Tracy McGrady kept his lead over New Orleans’ Chris Paul for the other West guard spot behind Bryant with 1,216,224 votes to 1,059,161.
Kobe Bryant is among the palyers leading the updated vote totals for the National Basketball Association All-Star Game. AFP
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan leads West forwards with 1,454,918 votes while Denver’s Carmelo Anthony is next on 905,121 with Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire needing help to move up on 894,690. German star Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas and Spaniard Pau Gasol of the Lakers are well back in the West forward balloting.
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