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Vol. 3 • Edition171 • Weekly • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009 • Costa Rica, Central America •

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global affairs

P. 20

New study reveals staggering cost of Mideast conflicts

Countries hit by conflicts in the Middle East have lost 12 trillion dollars over two decades through squandered development and livelihoods, said a new study launched last week..

americas

P.21

Castro says he won’t outlive Obama’s term in office Ailing former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said he will not outlive U.S. President Barack Obama’s first term in office, and asked the government of his brother, President Raul Castro, not to fuss over his death.

entertainment

P.22

‘Benjamin Button’ is Oscars front-runner with 13 nominations Period love story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” emerged as the front-runner for the Academy Awards, after landing a whopping 13 nominations. The critically acclaimed romance, starring Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse.

sports

P.23

Veteran Heat center Mourning retires from NBA

Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, who had been battling to come back from a devastating knee injury, gave up the fight and retired from the National Basketball Association.

Society P. 10 U.S. President Barack Obama signs an executive order related to the closing of the “War on Terror” prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. Standing behind Obama are U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and retired military officers. AFP

Obama hits the road running as President Following a busy day during his inauguration, the new President of the United States, Barack Obama, signed on Jan. 22 a decree ordering the closing of the controversial prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year.

In this way, Obama delivered on one of his campaign promises by abiding to the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners.

During his inaugural speech, Obama delineated the main themes of his administration, which he assumes in the midst of the worst economic crisis in the United States since the recession of the 1930s. The new President’s job is tough due to the condi-

tions of the market, but he said he will do whatever is possible to face this situation.

“Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because ‘We the People’ have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents,” Obama said after his swearing-in.

He also spoke directly about the economic situation of the country. (P.10)


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Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

Page two

ALSO INSIDE P. 6

Business & Economy

CR-China free trade deal: First negotiation round begins

Negotiation teams from Costa Rica and the People’s Republic of China began meeting last week in San Jose to discuss a possible free trade agreement between both nations. The meeting took place from Monday through Wednesday.

P. 10

Society

Guanacaste hospitals safe in aftermath of earthquake

Guanacaste’s hospitals — Enrique Baltodano in Liberia and La Anexion in Nicoya— didn’t suffer any damage as a result of the Jan. 8 earthquake in the north-central part of the country. The details were released in a report by the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS).

P. 14

The Virtual Communities for Learning about Biodiversity, or Cyberhives, Project — an initiative sponsored by the Costa Rica-USA Foundation (CRUSA) in an effort to take the work of the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) into school classrooms around the country — worked during 2008 with elementary school children in grades 3 and 5, and high-schoolers in grades 7 and 10, in the Arenal-Tempisque Conservation Area in Guanacaste.

Health

Reduced pollution increases life expectancy

Reducing pollution produces measurable health gains, according to a study that found cleaner air had lengthened life expectancy by five months in 51 U.S. cities.

P. 19

Europe

Germany faces ‘sizeable’, possibly extended recession: IMF

Germany faces a “sizeable” and “possibly extended” recession, with its economy set to shrink 2.5 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said last week, revising down a previous forecast.

P. 20

Global Affairs

Number of Internet users tops one billion

The global number of Internet users has surpassed one billion with China accounting for the largest population of Web surfers, digital research firm comScore Inc. reported.

P. 21

Americas

United Sates deports 46 percent more Mexicans and Central Americans

The United States deported more than 154,000 Mexicans and Central Americans in the 2008 fiscal year, in a 46 percent rise on the previous year, an official statement said.

P. 22

Entertainment

‘Benjamin Button’ is Oscars front-runner with 13 nominations

Period love story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” emerged as the front-runner for the Academy Awards, after landing a whopping 13 nominations. The critically acclaimed romance, starring Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse, edged out India-set, rags-to-riches drama “Slumdog Millionaire,” which scored 10 nominations.

P. 23

Day

High

Sports

Big money good for sport but ethics are needed: IOC chief Rogge

Big money is welcome in sports but only if ethics and sportmanship remain, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, said.

“There is nothing bad if money is coming into sport as long as the ethics and the spirit of sport are complete and preserved,” Rogge told journalists during a visit to Bulgaria to mark the 85th anniversary of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee.

Low

High

Information for Pacific Coast

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High

Tue 20

03:58 / 1.77 ft

10:14 / 6.71 ft

16:05 / 2.25 ft

22:37 / 7.54 ft

Wed 21

05:04 / 1.93 ft

11:22 / 6.56 ft

17:12 / 2.51 ft

23:39 / 7.41 ft

Thu 22

06:07 / 1.85 ft

12:25 / 6.67 ft

18:16 / 2.49 ft

Fri 23

00:36 / 7.49 ft

07:02 / 1.60 ft

13:20 / 6.98 ft

19:13 / 2.26 ft

Sat 24

01:27 / 7.72 ft

07:49 / 1.25 ft

14:06 / 7.39 ft

20:00 / 1.90 ft

Sun 25

02:12 / 8.01 ft

08:29 / 0.88 ft

14:46 / 7.82 ft

20:42 / 1.49 ft

Mon 26

02:53 / 8.30 ft

09:06 / 0.55 ft

15:24 / 8.22 ft

21:20 / 1.10 ft

culture

Cyberhives project successful in Arenal-Tempisque Conservation Area

P. 18

Costa rica tides chart

Costa Rica Basics

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

Area:  Population: Capital:  Language:  Time Zone:

& Technology 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

Useful Numbers Emergencies 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

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

2257-7214 2221-9115 2666-0085 2283-5573 Fax: 2283-7655 2666-0458 2666-3818 2666-0371

Lost credit cards American Express Mastercard Visa

0 800 012 3211 0 800 011 0184 0 800 011 0030

Emergency Medical Service Toll Free 800-EMS2000

Air and ground ambulance - Doctor - Paramedic

Call center 8380-4125 • 24hrs Quepos - Jaco - Cobano - Tamarindo Huacas - Sardinal - Liberia

Vol 3 • Edition171 Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009 Costa Rica, Central America

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4

lead story

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

Comptroller wants more controls over protected coastal strips ficials found some inconsistencies in the way the amount of the guarantee is defined and the submission of profiles for the project to be developed.

(InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – The Comptroller General’s Office has reprimanded the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) after it detected weaknesses in internal controls over the Land Maritime Zone (ZMT) — a portion of coastal land where development is restricted or prohibited altogether.

The third area of the study concentrated on the technical review process for approving concessions within the ZMT. The Comptroller’s Office found inconsistencies regarding the data contained in the concession request files, evidence of the technical and legal reviews conducted on concession requests, the amount of time during which concession requests were processed, the appraisals conducted by the Taxation Division of the Ministry of the Treasury, and certifications related to possible impact on the state’s natural heritage.

The Comptroller’s study consisted of evaluating the surveillance function of ICT on topics related to the ZMT, which have taken on greater relevance due to the impact increased tourism and real estate development on the country’s coast could have on those fragile areas and increased scrutiny from the local media. The study focused on three main areas. The first included a legal analysis of ICT’s role, according to what has been established in the Land Maritime Zone Law and applicable guidelines.

In the second area, the Comptroller’s Office verified compliance with orders set forth in the DFOE-AM-42-2004 and DFOE-AM17-2005 previously issued by the governmental watchdog agency. Upon reviewing documents provided by ICT and other documents generated as part of internal audits, the Comptroller’s Office determined that the majority of orders issued in the reports have been complied with accordingly by ICT. Evidence of such compliance includes formal working procedures that back up internal control mechanisms to make sure conces-

The Comptroller General’s Office belies more controls must be had over the restricted Land Maritime Zone to preserve coastal natural resources. TJ/InfoWebPress

sions for development projects are properly executed.

Some procedures, however, were identified by the Comptroller’s Office as needing

improvement. One of them is the process for defining and obtain guarantees from those who request concessions to carry out tourism-related activities within the ZMT, as of-

In general, the outcome of the study signaled weaknesses in ICT’s internal control system, its processes and macro-processes, as well as with municipalities in their role as providers of key documents. There is also a need to strengthen relations between the players in the concession of development rights within the ZMT and to establish effective communication channels between institutions that would allow for better coordination. The Comptroller General’s Office issued these recommendations to ICT’s board or directors and manager’s office and to the Ministry of the Environment.

Expansion of Sardinal aqueduct halted

(InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – The Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of a writ of protection filed against the expansion of the Sardinal de Carrillo aqueduct, halting work on the project. The expansion represents an investment of $8 million, financed by 25 private developers under the supervision of the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute (AyA). In its decision, the Constitutional Court argued that the project represents “a violation of article 50 of the Constitution, since there is no technical certainty about the capacity for exploitation of water resources in the Sardinal aquifer, and there is uncertainty about the effects this could cause on the availability of water to satisfy the needs of the community over any other commercial or tourist interest.”

José Antonio Muñoz, president of the Sardinal-El Coco-Ocotal Aqueduct Trust Fund, interpreted the court’s ruling by saying that “it’s important to underscore that this decision doesn’t question the legality of the procedures that have been followed so far.” Muñoz said that the ruling refers to the report already issued by the Comptroller General’s Office, which established the procedures that must be followed to continue with the

works.

“We expect, then, that the works will resume once the Ministry of the Environment presents its final report to the Municipality of Carrillo,” Muñoz said.

The aqueduct would supply water to a growing tourist and real estate development area on Guanacaste’s coast. The court’s ruling also states:

“There was a violation of article 9 of the Constitution by omitting citizen participation in the process of formulating this project. Consequently, the respective authorities are ordered to adjust their actions to comply with this ruling. Other issues indicated by the complainants must be dealt with by the respective authorities according to the resolution of the Comptroller General in its report No. DFOE-ED-22-2008. The state and the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute are ordered to pay any costs and damages caused by the facts that serve as the foundation of this ruling, which will be determined through a sentence in administrative court.” Since last year, the Sardinal aqueduct has been facing opposition from neighbors of this community, who have clashed with state entities such as MINAET and AyA, among

This past November, a group of workers from the Carrillo tourism industry asked the local municipality and the Ministry of the Environment for the green light to expand the Sardinal aqueduct.

others. The works, in fact, have been stopped for eight months now.

A technical study conducted by MINAET, the National Irrigation and Subterranean Waters Service (SENARA), and AyA indicates

that in the region there is enough water (in the Sardinal aquifers) to satisfy the needs of both the communities and the tourism developments there.

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

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Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

Business

CR-China free trade deal: First negotiation round begins

(InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – Negotiation teams from Costa Rica and the People’s Republic of China began meeting last week in San Jose to discuss a possible free trade agreement between both nations. The meeting took place from Monday through Wednesday.

The summit officially kicked off trade deal conservations between the world’s most populous country and Costa Rica, the first Central American republic that has established trade relations with the Asian giant — which has seen important economic growth in the past few years.

In the long term, the goal is that Costa Rica will serve as a springboard for China to export goods to the rest of Central America and even Mexico. This first round, which chief Costa Rican negotiator Fernando Ocampo called a “conceptual” round, allowed the two partners to exchange their respective visions, interests and preliminary objectives for the negotiation process. The meeting also allowed representatives to define the basic elements of this process, including its structure and work methodology and a tentative agenda for future negotiation rounds. Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz underscored the importance of this negotiation process, calling it an opportunity for Costa Rica to reach one of its main policy goals in the current administration — boosting trade relations with the Asian continent. “This work began last year, with the acceptance of Costa Rica as invite d observer to

the Small and Medium Businesses Working Group of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC),” Ruiz said.

The Minister added that a free trade agreement with China would allow Costa Rica to create a clear legal framework for commercial exchanges with that nation, as well as new opportunities for placing Costa Rican goods in the largest global market. “Having a privileged position within the world’s third largest economy also offers the great advantage of positioning Costa Rica on a continent little explored so far by us, but which has high levels of growth and potential,” Ruiz pointed out. As in all trade negotiation process carried in Costa Rica, during the first round of talks with China the government implemented mechanisms of information and public consultation aimed at providing follow-up to the progress of the rounds. Despite the fact that topics such as food exports and tariff exemption have already begun to be discussed, it is estimated that issues of labor will be left out of the discussion.

Another goal of the trade deal between Costa Rica and China is to attract public investment in terms of telecommunications and infrastructure. Details on market access lists and tariffexemption procedures will begin to be discussed at the second round of negotiations.

outside the box

Will this be the opportunity? Javier Segura M. General Manager-DCL Realty Consultants javier.segura@dcl.cr I was born in 1968, with the age of aquarius; that year the world started a change process without paragon in history. That was a year marked by the Prague Spring, French May, Tlatelolco Massacre, the civil rights disturbances in Madison and North Carolina, and the Nixon election. More than that, 1968 was the year that opened a new door. That year created a new generation, the Hope Generation… those who were born after that year, are waiting for the world to change, or still expect to change the world. We have been witnesses to radical changes in the political world, and in the mundane world too… from shoelaces to Velcro, from nothing to the Internet, from the board games to Starcraft II, from the telex to the fax and the e-mail, from the “peace and love” communities to the new age active retirement communities, from the Vietnam war to the Irak war (senseless, both of them), we started with Nixon, and now we have Obama. We have, indeed, seen, and have been part of so many changes. For the most part, this is not a partisan generation, but a highly political one; they have leaned to the left, to the right, or to the center along the years. Do not matter what political colour they have, they are mostly humanistic, and always trying to get the human side of life. Thus, this generation has been begging for real changes, since Green Bay won the Superbowl II at Miami. So far we have seen two major changes in the political world, and people have taken those opportunities and really have made the world a better place. The first one was the end of the communism, the end of the cold war. This event changed the face of the world, it ended the division between brothers and between countries. Saying that it brought the world peace is saying too much, but it left the door opened to new ideas, and that allowed mankind to think about new ways to live better, to improve the life of all, without the deadlock fight between the right and the left. It took time for both sides to realize that none of them won, and it is not until now that the results of that event have caught up with us. Once freed from the ideological dam, the humankind turned towards the planet. “Save

the planet” the slogan says… but it is true; there has been a real change in the way we see our relationship with mother earth; and if you do not believe me, try to remember if, in the 80´s, someone used, frequently, words like “Recycling”, “Self sustainable”, “Energy efficient”, and so many concepts that are part of our daily life, nowadays. Thus, so far we managed to end the division, and have started to save our home; but there is still another big issue to deal with: Our political ways! I am not talking about political parties or ideologies; I am talking about the way we govern ourselves as communities, worldwide. I am talking about the way that we, as citizens, have detached ourselves from our leaders, our governments, and institutions; leaving our own future in the hands of a fistful of persons that want to be involved in power, and control. Sadly, it appears to be that we have lost interest on our own future. This economic crisis, the ongoing wars, the terrorism, and the corruption are only the result of our detachment from the future of the human race. Because if you are not interested in contributing (somehow) with your lifework with the future well being of the humankind; then, you devote your mind to greed and selfishness, or to racial and religious hatred, or to the thirst for meaningless power. However, a couple of years ago, a lone man started an “against all odds” race. That trip ended up last week with an oath made in Capitol Hill (And another one the day after!). This man is a media phenomena, a great speaker, and a leader of men; someone, whose message have reached the whole world. His arrival to the White House has awakened some long lost feelings of his country, and the world. Feelings such as hope, responsibility, transparency, togetherness, hard honest work, sense of purpose, and faith in the future; those were long forgotten concepts for politicians and for common citizens. I am not here to praise Mr. Obama, let´s leave that for the end of his term. I am here just to say that, maybe, just maybe, this is the opportunity that our generation has been waiting for so long, in order to make a decisive change in the future of the humankind, in order to cross that door opened in 1968… But, for that to happen we must take his words to our hearts; and to our daily lives.


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business

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

CR exports to the United States remain stable (InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – Costa Rican exports jumped by $130 million last year compared to 2007, for a relative growth of 1.4 percent.

“The growth in our exports was lower than expected, due to the global economic slowdown and, specifically, the recession affecting the United States and some European Union and Asian countries,” said Emmanuel Hess, general manager of the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER). “In the case of Costa Rica, this situation has had a direct impact on the export of particular products, such as microchips and integrated circuits.” Hess added that despite the economic crisis, several Costa Rican export products have already had improved performances in markets such as Panama, the Caribbean and the European Union.

The fishing sector, for example, saw a 6.4 percent increase thanks to performance of some of its products. Fish fillets were the product with the highest growth in 2008: 22 percent. Additionally, sales of fresh or frozen fish (mostly from sea extraction) increased by 8.6 percent. The agricultural sector also had a favorable year due to the fact that the country’s main crops either sold more quantities abroad or experienced better pricing. This industry exported $2.069 billion last year, that is, a 10.9 percent boost. Yuca (cassava), coffee and pineapple were the crops that contributed the most to the growth of Costa Rican agricul-

tural exports.

The food processing industry, meanwhile, sold $1.019 billion in 2008, $24.3 million more than in 2007, for a 2.4 percent increase. In general, the behavior of Costa Rican exports is stable when it comes to products sold in the U.S. market and very dynamic in other markets, such as Panama and Europe. Costa Rican exports to its main trade partner, the United States (including Puerto Rico), remained basically flat last year, with a slight growth of 0.6 percent, or nearly $23 million, compared to 2007.

Products that sold well to the United States last year include medical implants (306 percent growth), electrical components (26.3 percent jump), coffee (22.9 percent jolt), tires (19.9 percent increase), computer parts (10.3 percent growth), and pineapple (a more modest 3.2 percent gain).

Meanwhile, sales to the European Union grew by 12.4 percent, supported by increased exports to markets such as Holland, Belgium, Italy, France, Spain and Ireland. Bestsellers in this European market include pineapple (29.4 percent increase), ornamental plants (a growth of 13.8 percent), fruit juices (38.6 percent jump), and forages (10.3 percent growth). At the industrial levels, medical implants saw huge increases of around 300 percent.

The fishing sector, for example, saw a 6.4 percent increase thanks to performance of some of its products. Fish fillets were the product with the highest growth in 2008: 22 percent.

Central Bank unveils 2009-2010 macroeconomic plan (InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – The Costa Rican Central Bank unveiled its policies for the next two years, including an economic growth forecast of 2.2 percent (1.8 percent lower than its last estimate) and a projected inflation rate of 9 percent. Additionally, the bank set, beginning last Jan. 22, an exchange rate of 563.25 colones per dollar for purchase, keeping the exchange rate for sales of dollars at 500 colones. The exchange rate for sales of dollars will increase 0.20 colones per working day. The Central Bank’s exchange and monetary policies in the next biennium will focus on attaining reduced and stable inflation rates, lowering external unbalance, and normalizing the functioning of the national financial system. More specifically, the bank will seek to keep the Consumer Price Index in 2009 at around 9 percent, with a tolerance range of one percentage point higher or lower. That would involve reducing the growth of internal prices by almost 5 percent compared to 2008. For 2010, the targeted inflation rate was set at 8 percent, with a +1 or -1 percent tolerance range. The bank also wants to significantly reduce, to sustainable levels, the country’s deficit, and continue implementing a strategy that would help lessen the risks of international liquidity restrictions infecting the local financial system. In terms of exchange policy, the Central Bank will seek to gradually migrate toward a system of more flexibility, thus expanding the room available for applying monetary policy. Particularly, the entity seeks to allow a larger number of participants (other than exchange intermediaries) through the MONEX-Central Directo program, which seeks to promote competition and a more efficient setting of prices in the global exchange market. Regarding monetary policy, the bank’s efforts will continue to focus on improving the channels for transmission of monetary policy, particularly the interest rate mechanism. Among other actions, the Central Bank will implement a daily exercise for tracking liquidity that would allow to estimate any required intervention by the bank in the

In terms of exchange policy, the Central Bank will seek to gradually migrate toward a system of more flexibility, thus expanding the room available for applying monetary policy. TJ/ InfoWebPress

money market, offering the payment services platform of the Integrated Liquidity Market (MIL), with the goal of promoting the integration of different currency negotiation markets. The Central Bank indicated that will seek to maintain a cohesive interest rate policy with the goal of lowering inflation, but careful not to turn it into a source of vulnerability in the face of abrupt capital movements. Additionally, the bank will attempt to keep the system for internal and external payments functioning normally, for which it will provide permanent follow-up on the current conditions of the national financial market and the effects the international crisis could have in it. The bank forecasts a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2.2 percent if prices remain constant (2.9 percent in 2008). This number is lower than the potential growth estimated, thus putting less pressure on internal prices — particularly considering that in the past three years, the substantial increase in fixed investment capital boosted the capacity of the production apparatus. This panorama is complicated, the bank said, because interest rates in the United States are already low, reducing the possibility that the Federal Reserve would further cut its interest rates.


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Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

society

Obama hits the road running as President

(InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – Following a busy day during his inauguration, the new President of the United States, Barack Obama, signed on Jan. 22 a decree ordering the closing of the controversial prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. In this way, Obama delivered on one of his campaign promises by abiding to the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners. During his inaugural speech, Obama delineated the main themes of his administration, which he assumes in the midst of the worst economic crisis in the United States since the recession of the 1930s.

The new President’s job is tough due to the conditions of the market, but he said he will do whatever is possible to face this situation. “Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America

the new President will have to deal with a bloc of countries (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia) that have aligned themselves with an emergent Russia.

has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because ‘We the People’ have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents,� Obama said after his swearing-in.

Regarding the contentious issue of the Middle East, it is expected that the new administration will continue firm relations with Israel, along with troop withdrawal from Iraq but a strengthening of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

He also spoke directly about the economic situation of the country.

“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet,� Obama said in front of 2 million people who gathered in Washington D.C. to witness this historic event.

Although no significant changes are expected in U.S. relations with Latin America,

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“We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet,� Obama said about the issue of global warming. UNITED STATES, Washington : US President Barack Obama holds his pen prior to signing an executive order to close the “War on Terror� prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 22, 2009. AFP

Even now, a radical change in policies is being seeing, following eight years of Republican rule and, together the Secretary of the Treasury, Obama will be working on a plan to reactivate the economy, promoting the health, technology and alternative energy sectors.

Arias invites Obama to visit Costa Rica

(InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – The same day of his inauguration as President of the United States, Barack Obama received an invitation to visit Costa Rica.

Foundation, who received a distinction from the Link Americas Foundation.

Having declared peace on the world 60 years, when Costa Rica decided to abolish its army, lead a pacifist vocation and preserve the region’s longest democracy, are on the opinion of Arias the reasons Obama should visit Costa Rica in his first Latin American trip.

“I have told Tomas DueĂąas that before he comes back to Costa Rica, we need to give President Obama an invitation,â€? Arias said. “I believe that the qualities I have mentioned are unique to Costa Rica in the region. We are an oasis of peace, tolerance, liberty and democracy; it would a beautiful gesture if he chooses Costa Rica.â€?

The invitation was made by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias on Jan. 20, once Obama was invested as the U.S. new leader

Present at Obama’s swearing-in ceremony were several Costa Rican personalities, including Ambassador to Washington D.C. Tomas Dueùas; Otton Solis and Francisco Molina, political commission president and party chief, respectively, of opposition Citizen Action Party (PAC); presidential hopeful for the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN), Laura Chinchilla; and Clotilde Fonseca, executive director of the Omar Dengo

During the re-unveiling of Democracy Square in downtown San Jose, Arias informed that Costa Rica will formally invited Obama to come here through Ambassador DueĂąas.

In regards to what he expects about the new U.S. leader, Arias said: “The expectations are many, he’s facing a recession in his own country that is the most severe since 1929. During the campaign, the Europeans, the Asians, the Latin American and African soul, all were anxious that, for the first time, someone of the Afro-American race would reach the White House.�

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A man watches on TV the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America in a restaurant at the Central Avenue in San Jose. Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States.AFP / Yuri CORTEZ

Speaking about the armed conflicts in which the United States is involved, it is expected that under Obama there will a withdrawal of troops from Iraq but a strengthening of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

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“The truth is that a lot of time has passed, many decades, many wars, much hatred has been generated, the blood of many innocent people has been shed, and I believe the time has come for President Obama puts an end to this conflict,� the Costa Rican leader concluded.

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“Among the many conflicts that we have in this 21st century, the most serious, the one that most consequences has had on the rest of humanity, is that in the Middle East, and President Obama, with his leadership, can help solve it,� Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987, said. “If there’s an idea whose time has finally come, that’s the creation of the Palestinian State. Costa Rica was one of the first countries, one of the few countries, that since 1947 recognized the need to create the State of Israel, but also the State of Palestine.

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Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

Guanacaste hospitals safe in aftermath of earthquake

(InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – Guanacaste’s hospitals — Enrique Baltodano in Liberia and La Anexion in Nicoya— didn’t suffer any damage as a result of the Jan. 8 earthquake in the north-central part of the country. The details were released in a report by the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS). Even though the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that caused death and destruction in the epicenter area wasn’t felt in Guanacaste, residents of the province did experience a Jan. 21 temblor that originated in the local Playa Conchal fault. This second event, however, didn’t result in material damage, either. Every time an earthquake of the magnitude of that of Cinchona (in the Poas Volcano area) is experienced, the CCSS evaluates the infrastructure of its hospitals around the country to make sure no important problems occurred and guarantee they can respond effectively to any emergencies. Architect Gabriela Murillo Jenkins, manager of CCSS’ Infrastructure and Technology division, and Jorge Granados Soto, an engineer in charge of the institution’s Engineering and Architecture division, said hospital buildings responded well to the strong Jan. 8 earthquake. The CCSS experts indicated that this institution has worked hard in the past few years to reinforce some of the hospital buildings, among them the National Children’s Hospital and the Mexico Hospital (San Jose), Monseñor Sanabria Hospital (Puntarenas), Fernando Escalante Pradilla Hospital (Perez Zeledon, Southern Zone), Tony Facio Hospital (Limon), the Marcial Rodriguez Clinic (Alajuela), the Francisco Bolaños Clinic

Despite the fact that hospitals such as La Anexion in Nicoya were not affected by the Jan. 8 earthquake, a detailed study of all hospitals was made to study their condition following the strong temblor. TJ/InfoWebPress

(Heredia), and the old building of the San Rafael Hospital of Alajuela. Murillo and Granados also said that the new CCSS hospital infrastructure has been built using Seismic Code standards, including the emergency service wings at La Anexion, Golfito and San Vito hospitals. Also brought up to standard are the Alajuela Clinic, the Cañas Healthcare Center, the Calderon Guardia Hospital’s South Tower, the San Rafael de Oreamuno Clinic, the new tower at the National Women’s

Hospital, the new buildings at the National Children’s Hospital and at Liberia hospital, among others. Murillo and Granados added that the new buildings are very rigorous in terms of earthquake and fire safety, with a very high investment made for their protection. They were referring specifically to the Heredia Hospital, the Puriscal Clinic, and the buildings that will house the MRI unit and the Basic Integral Healthcare Equipments (EBAIS) in Limon.

Right now, the experts said, the CCSS is in the process of designing the structural reinforcement of the Ciudad Neilly Hospital and the rest of the La Anexion Hospital. Granados informed that the Engineering and Architecture division has a seismic protection program included in the “Safe Hospital” plan, which began last year and seeks to carry out a diagnosis of other hospital buildings, with the goal of determining which require a vulnerability study and which would need structural reinforcement.

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14

culture

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

Las Pailas geothermal project approved by ICE

(InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – The Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE) signed on Jan. 20 an agreement with an international contractor to design, build and supply equipment for the Las Pailas Geothermal Project, located on the hillside of Guanacaste’s Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and which is expected to generate 35 MW. Currently, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) is developing the Las Pailas project, which is located 10 kilometers from the town of Curubande, Liberia. ICE has already concluded a feasibility study, five geothermal wells have been dug, and construction of the surface infrastructure is beginning to take place. The plant is expected to begin generating power in 2010, aiding the country’s efforts to meet increasing demand for electricity and reducing dependency on energy produced by burning fossil fuels.

During four and a half years, ICE will operate the technical and commercial aspects of the project, while BCIE will pay for the investment. Once the plant is operational, ICE will begin paying on a lease to operate the plant. The northern part of Guanacaste province is ideal for the generation of clean energy sources such as wind and geothermal. Geothermal generation in Costa Rica goes back to 1963, when ICE — motivated by an energy crisis caused by the international oil-price

surge of the time — began a research program that identified regions with geothermal potential, with help from a United Nations mission.

The country’s first geothermal plant, Miravalles — located on the hillside of Guanacaste’s Miravalles Volcano — began operating in 1994. The Miravalles Geothermal Field includes five plants that generate 163.5 MW: Miravalles I and Miravalles II, each producing 55 MW; Miravalles III, with an output of 29,5 MW; Miravalles IV, with a capacity for 19 MW and a binary energy production system, which takes advantage of the residual waters coming from energy generation in the first three plants. The fifth plant, Miravalles V, produced 5 MW.

Geothermal plants, by employing renewable natural resources, provides economic benefits to the country. Additionally, geothermal energy generation is not affected by the environmental conditions of the dry season, when hydroelectric plants see their generation reduced. “We have abundant natural resources, but we are not as advanced in using them to serve the nation 100 percent, and in looking toward the future, we see our obligation to make sure energy generation and the environment coexist,” said Pedro Pablo Quiros, executive president of ICE.

Guanacaste’s geothermal sources, particularly those at Miravalles Volcano, generate clean energy for the country. Photo courtesy of INCAFO

Cyberhives project successful in Arenal-Tempisque Conservation Area (InfoWebPress — www.journalcr.com) – The Virtual Communities for Learning about Biodiversity, or Cyberhives, Project — an initiative sponsored by the Costa Rica-USA Foundation (CRUSA) in an effort to take the work of the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) into school classrooms around the country — worked during 2008 with elementary school children in grades 3 and 5, and high-schoolers in grades 7 and 10, in the Arenal-Tempisque Conservation Area in Guanacaste. Cyberhives has been put in place by INBio since 2005, with support from the Ministry of Education (MEP), the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET), and the Omar Dengo Foundation (FOD). “This is the culmination of the innovative work by more than 800 students from public elementary and high schools who have learned very well the type of work scientists employ to better learn about biodiversity and how to use it in a sustainable manner,” said Erick Mata, adjunct director of bioinformatics at INBio.

During 2008, INBio also worked with children in other conservation areas where the National Biodiversity Inventory is taken place in conjunction with the National Conservation Areas System. These are Amistad Pacifico, Amistad Caribe, Tempisque and Osa, in addition to Arenal-Tempisque. INBio provided scientific knowledge through several experiential activities in various conservation areas of the country through forums and other virtual communication channels established on the project’s website (www.inbio.ac.cr/cibercolmenas). In this way, students and teachers immersed themselves in the adventure of research, which allowed them to generate and build knowledge for understanding different

Nuevo Arenal School students conducted experiments using the microscope. Photo courtesy of INBio

biodiversity topics. Among the Guanacaste schools that participated in this project are Victoriano Mena in Hojancha and Nuevo Arenal in Arena; they studies butterflies and medicinal plants.

The objectives of the Cyberhives project are to encourage the use of science and technology in the classroom by students and teachers in an effort to reinforce their learning experiences and take advantage of spaces for experiential and virtual learning; and to employ techniques that promote students’ interest in science and technology, so that they can be motivated to learn and be active players in their educational process. As part of the project, each school receives the tools to research and utilize technology for learning, as well as to raise awareness about the country’s biodiversity and the problems it faces. The workshops allow students to learn about the type of work done by curators and scientists when they conduct research. The students also visit trails, exhibit halls, and sample plants and animals that are part of Costa Rica’s ecosystems.

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

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16

week in brief

Politics Arias calls for Palestinian state once again

Upon receiving the credentials of the new Palestinian Ambassador to San Jose, President Oscar Arias called for the creation of an official state for Palestine. “Costa Rica was one of the first countries, one of the few countries, that since 1947 recognized the need to create the State of Israel, but also the State of Palestine,” Arias said. “The truth is that a lot of time has passed, many decades, many wars, much hatred has been generated, the blood of many innocent people has been shed.” Costa Rica and Palestine established diplomatic relations on Feb. 5 of last year, but an ambassador, Riyad H. Manssur, was not accredited until now.

Presidential candidates ordered to stop campaigning (La Republica) — The National Elections Tribunal (TSE) has ordered presidential hopefuls with the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN) to stop the campaigning they recently started in local media. According to TSE, article 74 of the Electoral Code prohibits campaigning before May 31 on the year prior to national elections. PLN elections will be held on June 7, meaning the four candidates — Laura Chinchilla, Rolando Araya, Fernando Berrocal and Carlos Francisco Echeverria — could begin campaigning on April 7.

Business & Economy Government asks Congress to expedite approval of credit

(Al Dia) — Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias asked legislators to quickly approve bills related to the two most important loans the country is seeking with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The first loan is for $500 million to invest in electricity generation plants. The other credit is for $850 million, to be used for improving infrastructure throughout the country.

Visa Offers Tax Rebate On Purchases in Costa Rica

(Inside Costa Rica) — Visa Latin America is offering visitors to Costa Rica a chance to get a reimbursement on sales taxes paid in the country with purchases made with VISA® or VISA Electron® cards. The rebate is equal to the tax paid on purchases in Costa Rica be-

tween Jan. 9 and Feb. 22, 2009. Visitors leaving Costa Rica will be able to present their Visa vouchers at the Juan Santamaria airport and have a chance to win a rebate of the 13 percent sales tax on the purchase. Not eligible are ATM withdrawls, purchases made online, and purchases were sales tax did not apply. On presenting the vouchers at the airport, winners, who are chosen at random, will be notified immediately and will receive a Visa debit card with the amount of the tax paid in Costa Rica on their purchase.

Banks have more funds available for housing

(Al Dia) — The country’s housing sector might be able to reactivate following the announcement that state banks are offering new credit lines for construction. Banco Nacional and Banco Popular currently have some 260 billion colones ($472 million) available for mortgages. Meanwhile, Banco de Costa Rica has 100 billion colones ($180 million) in hand to lend. The other state bank, Bancredito, has 25 billion colones ($45 million) set aside for mortgages and personal credit lines.

Costa Rica expects 30% less in investments

(Inside Costa Rica) — A Costa Rican official said direct foreign investment in the Central American country is expected to fall by 30 percent in 2009 because of the global economic crisis. The director of the Costa Rican Development and Investment Board (CINDE), Gabriela Llobet, said job growth will remain stable with 5,500 new posts expected this year. Llobet said that 30 foreign companies established operations in Costa Rica in 2008, and together with other foreign firms already here, generated investments of $428 million.

Society Style of dress in public places defended by Constitutional Court

(Inside Costa Rica) — A decision by the Constitutional Court will allow anyone to wear what they like in public places, including the National Registry, after a complaint was filed by a man who was denied access to the public building for his “inappropriate” attire. The court found in favour of the man, identified by the last name Nuñez, saying that the security guard infringed the man’s rights by denying him access only on the basis of his clothing. Entering a public building with a bare chest, t-shirt, shorts or sandals worn by men has been reason enough for denying entry. On the other hand, barely clad women,

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

wearing the shortest of skirts and skimpiest of blouses have never had a problem. And that is the reason why Nuñez decided to file a writ of habeas corpus against the National Registry, who now has to pay the man damages.

2008 saw lower divorce rate

(Al Dia) — There were 575 less cases of divorce in the country in 2008 compared to 2007, according to the Registration Office of the National Elections Tribunal (TSE). The total number of divorces for the year was 10,531, most of them taking place in October and February.

Secondary forests worth saving: Research

(Inside Costa Rica) — A new research has determined that tropical forests that have regrown after clear-cutting can become almost as biodiverse as untouched forests, and are worth conserving. According to a report in Nature News, by comparing preserved and regrown forest in Costa Rica, a team led by ecologist Robin Chazdon of the University of Connecticut in Storrs has found that 90 percent of tree species from the original landscape can also be found in secondary forest. The results, presented at a tropical biodiversity symposium in Washington D.C., suggest these regrown areas may be worthy of conservation, even though they were once cleared. As farmers migrate to cities, the study argues, forests may have a chance to recover from agricultural clearing. One key question is whether these abandoned areas will be able to reassemble the same richness of species as the old primary forest. Chazdon and her colleagues assessed tree biodiversity changes in northeastern Costa Rica by surveying 18 hectares of preserved old-growth forest and 11 hectares of secondary forest, which ranged from 10 to 45 years old. When they looked for trees with a diameter greater than 10 centimeters, they found only 59 percent of the old-growth tree species in the regrown areas. But, when they extended their search to seedlings and saplings, the number rose to 90 percent.

Ticos prefer civil over church marriages

(La Nacion) — Since 1995, Catholic Church marriages in Costa Rica have been on the decline. According to numbers by the Civil Registry, in 1995 there were 12,373 marriages registered by the church, with only 10,954 by lawyers and notaries. But in 2008, of the 25,302 marriages registered in the country, 19,588 were civil ceremonies. In 2007 the numbers were similar. Of course, the church is not very pleased with the numbers. Priest Ronny Solano, national secretary of the Pastoral Family, lamented the decline in the number of marriages in churches. Solano believes that the decline in unions officiated by the clergy is due to several aspects, among them the indifference of society toward religion, the rejection of the commitments laid down in the Catholic marriage, and the bad examples couples have seen in their homes.

Loss of Cariblanco plant could mean blackouts in the coming months

(Inside Costa Rica) — Pedro Pablo Quiros, president of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), admitted that the energy network in the country is fragile and with the Cariblanco hydroelectric station offline, there is no reserve to cover the loss, especially during the peak months of March and April. The Cariblanco plant, located in Sarapiqui, was

damaged in the January 8, 6.2-magnitude earthquake, and according to ICE engineers, it will be offline for about one year. Cariblanco was responsible for the production of 82 megawatts of the more than 2,000 Megawatts that make up the country’s energy network. The situation is being compared to the summer of 2007 when March and April of that year were filled with blackouts, planned and not, when the three generating plants at Moin, San Antonio and Barranca failed.

New Transit Law sent to Constitutional Court

(La Prensa Libre) — During the first trial conducted for reckless driving under the country’s new Transit Law, the judge in charge, David Hernandez, found several unconstitutional issues and decided to suspend the trial and send the legislation for consultation before the Constitutional Court.

Earthquake damages to the environment quantified

(La Prensa Libre) — The Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET) reported that the Jan. 8 earthquake with epicenter in Poas, Alajuela, caused damage in at least 550 square kilometers around the area. Important damages were caused to ecosystems, watersheds and geomorphology of this popular tourist region. Thousands of fish died of asphyxiation in the Central Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area, while many springs were obliterated, leading to a decrease in the water flow of several rivers.

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

17

technology

Scientists find new creatures of Australian deep

back more than 10,000 years. Thresher said samples taken would provide ancient climate data for use in global warming projections.

SYDNEY (AFP) – Scientists said they had uncovered new marine animals in their search of previously unexplored Australian waters, along with a bizarre carnivorous sea squirt and ocean-dwelling spiders.

“Modern-day deep-water coral reefs were also found, however, there is strong evidence that this reef system is dying, with most reefforming coral deeper than 1,300 meters newly dead,” he said.

A joint US-Australian team spent a month in deep waters off the coast of the southern island of Tasmania to “search for life deeper than any previous voyage in Australian waters,” lead researcher Ron Thresher said.

Though close analysis of samples was still required, Thresher said modelling suggested ocean acidification could be responsible.

What they found were not only species new to science – including previously undescribed soft corals – but fresh indications of global warming’s threat to the country’s unique marine life.

“If our analysis identifies this phenomenon as the cause of the reef system’s demise, then the impact we are seeing now below 1,300 meters might extend to the shallower portions of the deep-reefs over the next 50 years, threatening this entire community,” he said.

“Our sampling documented the deepest known Australian fauna, including a bizarre carnivorous sea squirt, sea spiders and giant sponges, and previously unknown marine communities dominated by gooseneck barnacles and millions of round, purple-spotted sea anemones,” Thresher said.

Using a submersible car-sized robot named Jason, the team explored a rift in the earth’s crust known as the Tasman Fracture Zone, a sheer two kilometer (1.24 mile) drop to 4,000 metres (13,200 feet) below the ocean’s surface. Blogging on board the ship, researcher Adam Subhas said the team witnessed some “cool biology” as they descended the fracture, including the sea squirt, which he de-

Rising sea temperatures are blamed on global warming caused by the build-up in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide – which is also blamed for higher acidity in sea water. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, described as the world’s largest living organism, could be killed by climate change within decades.

scribed as “basically an underwater Venus fly trap, but much bigger.”

The sea squirt, also known as an ascidian, stands 50 centimeters tall on the sea floor at a depth of just over 4,000 meters. It traps prey in its funnel-like front section if they touch it

when they swim past.

“The geology was fascinating too – the sediment was incredibly fine and lightly packed; it made me think of powder snow,” Subhas wrote.

Fossil coral fields were found, dating

A UN report warned in 2007 that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, described as the world’s largest living organism, could be killed by climate change within decades.

The World Heritage site and major tourist attraction, stretching over more than 345,000 square kilometers (133,000 square miles) off Australia’s east coast, could become “functionally extinct”, the report said.

Paving of Quepos - Dominical Gets Underway (Inside Costa Rica) — The Ministry of Transportation and Public Infrastructure (MOPT) announced last week the paving of the 42 kilometers between Quepos and Dominical, part of the Costanera Sur Highway along the Pacific coast. The work will be carried out by two separate companies, working in parallel to complete the paving within the next 8-10 months. The consortium of Meco and Santa Fe will be paving the section between Quepos and Savegre, while the construction company Solis-Sanchez- Carvajal will be paving Savegre to Dominical. The Savegre-Dominical section will be finished within eight months, while the Quepos-Savegre road will be completed two months later. Included in the contracts is the repairing of bridges damaged during last winter’s floods. The completion of the work will mean that travel between Quepos and Dominical could be done in less than an hour, instead of the two hours or more it now takes. Plus the road would provide an alternative route to the Pan American Highway for reaching the country’s Southern Zone.

ICE Makes 100.000 Cellular Lines Available (Inside Costa Rica) — Good news and bad news for those looking to get connected to the GSM cellular network. The good news is that the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) began selling the first of the 100,000 lines made available. The bad news is that only the first 100,000 of the 150,000 on the waiting list will get connected. All others will have to wait. Elberth Duran, a spokesperson for ICE, said that the lines made available last week are part of the 300,000 lines ICE promised last December, offering another 100,000 next month and 100,000 more in March. With the new lines fully active, the number of mobile services in the country will reach 48 per 100 inhabitants.

Scientists to solve astronomical riddle using Galileo DNA ROME (AFP) – Italian scientists are trying to get Galileo’s DNA in order to figure out how the astronomer forged groundbreaking theories on the universe while gradually becoming blind, a historian said.

“If we succeed, thanks to DNA, in understanding how this disease distorted his sight, it could bring about important discoveries for the history of science,” said the institute’s director, Paolo Galluzzi.

“We could explain certain mistakes that Galileo made: why he described the planet Saturn as having ‘lateral ears’ rather than having seen it encircled by rings for example,” said Galluzzi. In an effort to recreate what Galileo – who lived from 1564 to 1642 – saw, the scientific team has made an exact replica of his telescope. They now want to get DNA proof of what ophthalmologists have said was a genetic eye disease and thereby more fully understand the conditions under which he made observations that revolutionised our understand-

WASHINGTON (AFP) – In a breakthrough that could signal a new era for human technology, U.S. and Chinese researchers announced they are a step closer to creating an invisibility shield.

In a development made possible by advances in designing complex mathematical commands known as algorithms, engineers at Duke University, North Carolina were able to create what they call “metamaterials.”

Scientists at Florence’s Institute and Museum of the History of Science want to exhume the body of 17th Century astronomer Galileo Galilei to find out exactly what he could see through his telescope.

The Italian astronomer – who built on the work of predecessor Nicolaus Copernicus to develop modern astronomy with the sun as the center of the universe – had a degenerative eye disease that eventually left him blind.

U.S., Chinese researchers engineer invisible cloak

The Italian astronomer – who built on the work of predecessor Nicolaus Copernicus to develop modern astronomy with the sun as the center of the universe – had a degenerative eye disease that eventually left him blind.

ing of the cosmos.

It will take the team one year to raise the 300,000 euros (390,000 dollars) needed to finance the project and clear administrative hurdles to open Galileo’s tomb in Florence’s Santa Croce Basilica, Galluzzi said. The United Nations proclaimed 2009 the International Year of Astronomy, marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s observations. In 1609, he discovered spots on the Sun, craters and peaks on the surface of the Moon and satellites orbiting Jupiter, thereby confirming Copernicus’s theory that planets orbit the Sun rather than the Earth.

These materials can “guide electromagnetic waves around an object, only to have them emerge on the other side as if they had passed through an empty volume of space,” according to the team, whose work was published in the January 16 edition of the journal Science.

The cloaking phenomenon is similar to mirages seen at a distance on a hot day, according to senior researcher David R. Smith. “You see what looks like water hovering over the road, but it is in reality a reflection from the sky,” Smith said. “In that example, the mirage you see is cloaking the road below. In effect, we are creating an engineered mirage with this latest cloak design.”

The team, who were backed by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation of China

among others, worked off their 2006 prototype that proved the project’s feasibility.

But Smith said their latest cloak is far superior to the original design, Smith said.

“The new device can cloak a much wider spectrum of waves – nearly limitless – and will scale far more easily to infrared and visible light,” he said. “The approach we used should help us expand and improve our abilities to cloak different types of waves.” The breakthrough has the potential of advancing numerous technologies that already exist, and ideas that have yet to be devised.

“By eliminating the effects of obstructions, cloaking devices could improve wireless communications, or acoustic cloaks could serve as protective shields, preventing the penetration of vibrations, sound or seismic waves,” said the team. The cloak, measuring 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) by four inches (10 centimeters) and less than an inch (2.5 centimeter) high, is constructed with 10,000 fiberglass pieces arranged in parallel rows, 6,000 of which are unique. The unique algorithms that can affect electromagnetic waves determined the shape and placement of each piece, the team indicated.


18

health

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

Medical ‘microbot’ to swim Reduced pollution human arteries increases life expectancy PARIS (AFP) – In 1966, the movie “Fantastic Voyage” recounted the tale of doctors who are miniaturized along with a submarine and injected into the body of a Soviet defector, sailing up his bloodstream to destroy a brain clot that imperils the VIP’s life. The improbable storyline – and the equally improbable casting of sex icon Raquel Welch as a scientist in a wetsuit – invited the audience to suspend their disbelief and enjoy a good sci-fi romp. More than 40 years later, some of the futuristic potential of “Fantastic Voyage” has taken a step closer to realisation, thanks to a remarkable achievement in miniaturization unveiled last week. There’s no submarine or Raquel Welch, but instead a motorised robot that its inventors believe is small enough to be injected into the human bloodstream. One day, the remote-controlled bot could carry sensor equipment for observation work, relaying images back to surgeons. Or it could become a tiny surgeon, cutting away blood clots, reaming out clogged arteries or repairing damaged tissue, its inventors hope. The “microbot” measures just a quarter of a millimeter, or “two or three human hairs wide,” said lead scientist James Friend, from the Nanophysics Laboratory at Monash University, Australia. “We are looking for something that can be placed in human arteries, especially in locations where it can’t be done with the technologies that were around previously,” he told AFP. Conventional methods of “keyhole” and other minimally invasive surgery today use tubes called catheters, which are inserted into body cavities and arteries. But catheters are rigid and despite their small size can still puncture thin arterial walls. In a paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, Friend’s team describe prototype work on a motor based on piezo-electricity, the energy used in quartz watches, upmarket cigarette lighters and gas-stove lighters. Piezo-electric materials are ceramics or crystals that generate a voltage in response to mechanical stress. In this case, the materials vibrate a corkscrew-like microstructure inside the bot that then drives a “propellor” comprising soft flagella. Like a swimming bacterium – but guided externally by remote control – the robot would make headway against the bloodstream, at least in blood vessels where the flow is not too great, the inventors hope. The device could transmit images, deliver microscopic payloads and, eventually, carry out surgery, said Friend. It would then be retrieved by syringe at the point of entry.

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

19

europe

Recession grips Britain for first time since 1991

ness of sterling, which has intensified today (Friday), provides a risk that rates remain on hold at 1.5 percent for a while longer,” said Investec Securities analyst Philip Shaw.

LONDON (AFP) – Britain is in recession for the first time since 1991, official data showed last Friday, triggering a plea from Prime Minister Gordon Brown for renewed international help to tackle the financial crisis.

The BoE’s main task is to keep inflation at a government-set target of 2.0 percent.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that gross domestic product (GDP) had shrunk by 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with the previous threemonth period, when it contracted by 0.6 percent.

British 12-month inflation dived in December owing to a tax cut on goods and services, falling energy prices and heavy preChristmas discounting, official data showed.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) annual inflation rate sank to 3.1 percent in December, the lowest level since April 2008, from 4.1 percent in November.

The figure for the final quarter of 2008 showed the biggest fall in GDP since 1980. Brown said he was using “every weapon at our disposal” to fight the economic crisis.

The BoE is meanwhile considering increasing money supply to ensure growth at all costs does not slow so much that inflation falls below target.

“But we need the international co-operation as well,” he told BBC radio. Friday’s data sent the British pound sliding to a 23-year low versus the dollar and London’s FTSE 100 index of top shares to under 4,000 points.

“Such a significant increase in life expectancy attributable to reducing air pollution is remarkable,” said C. Arden Pope III, a BYU epidemiologist and lead author on the study.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Reducing pollution produces measurable health gains, according to a study that found cleaner air had lengthened life expectancy by five months in 51 US cities. Researchers at Brigham Young University and Harvard School of Public Health found that average life expectancy increased by three years between 1980 and 2000 in those cities, and that approximately five months of that gain owed to cleaner air. Or it could become a tiny surgeon, cutting away blood clots, reaming out clogged arteries or repairing damaged tissue, its inventors hope. Photo www.sxc.hu

“For the moment, we are going for observation, because it is the easiest thing to do,” said Friend. “From that point on, we will go for other kinds of operations, mainly snipping and cutting.” If the device breaks down, it would return downstream to the point of entry and then be picked up, or it could be recovered by microcatheter, he said. The team has produced prototypes of the motors and is now looking at how to improve the assembly method and a mechanical device that moves and controls the micromotor. But years of work probably lie ahead before it is used on a human patient. In a link with “Fantastic Voyage,” the microbot has been baptised Proteus, carrying the same name as the miniaturized sub in the movie. The moniker was chosen by readers in a “name-that-bot” poll on the technology website Wired, said Friend.

“Such a significant increase in life expectancy attributable to reducing air pollution is remarkable,” said C. Arden Pope III, a BYU epidemiologist and lead author on the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “We find that we’re getting a substantial return on our investments in improving our air quality. Not only are we getting cleaner air that improves our environment, but it is improving our public health.” The researchers compared data in 51 U.S. cities on changes in air pollution between those 20 years and the life expectancies of residents during those years. They applied advanced statistical models to account for other factors possibly affecting life spans, such as changes in demographics, income, migration, population, education and cigarette smoking. Cities that had previously been the most polluted and saw the most extensive cleanups added an average 10 months to residents’ lives. By the end of the study period, life expectancy had increased by 2.72 years in the cities

studied, with up to five months, or 15 percent of that gain owing to reduced air pollution. Other studies have shown that these gains probably owe to a decrease in cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary diseases often linked to air pollution. Pope and study co-author Douglas Dockery of Harvard teamed up with other researchers on studies published in the early 1990s that found that “PM2.5” – pollutants less than 2.5 microns in diameter – had negative health effects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used those and other studies as a basis to tighten air pollution standards in 1997. Analysis in the latest study found that for every decrease of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate pollution in a city, the average life expectancy of residents in the city grew by more than seven months. The average PM2.5 levels in the 51 cities studied dropped from 21 to 14 micrograms per cubic meter during the 1980s and 1990s. Health gains were also found in cities that initially had relatively clean air but then made further improvements in reducing air pollution. “There is an important positive message here that the efforts to reduce particulate air pollution concentrations in the United States over the past 20 years have led to substantial and measurable improvements in life expectancy,” Pope said. The study was financed by the EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, among others.

The generally-used technical definition of a recession is two quarters running of negative economic growth.

Analysts warned of a long journey ahead before the British economy recovered.

“Our current forecast is for UK GDP to contract by 2.9 percent in 2009, with declines in output occurring through all four quarters,” said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight. “This would be the sharpest contraction since World War II. Furthermore, we see GDP only flat overall in 2010 as recovery develops very gradually.”

The British economy grew by 0.7 percent in 2008, the slowest annual rate since 1992, the ONS said.

Britain joins the United States, the eurozone and Japan in recession as the global economy struggles to recover from the fall-

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown (C) talks to Deputy Managing Director for Sellafield Ltd George Beveridge (L) during a visit to the Sellafield Nuclear Power station, west Cumbria, on January 23, 2009. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was using “every weapon at our disposal” to fight the economic crisis, ahead of official data expected to confirm that the country is in recession. AFP /Anna Gowthorpe

out of the credit crisis.

Germany said last week it would suffer its worst recession since World War II this year, with half a million more people in Europe’s biggest economy expected to lose their jobs.

In Britain, the unemployment rate has jumped to a decade-high 6.1 percent with nearly two million out of work as international groups such as Nissan have slashed local jobs and several retailers have collapsed.

Banks have also cut staff as they continue to be bailed out by the government to the tune of billions of pounds. In a bid to stave off a deep recession, the Bank of England (BoE) has slashed British interest rates to an all-time low of 1.5 percent.

However tumbling borrowing costs have deterred foreign investment, severely hurting the pound, which this week also struck an all-time low against the yen and has reached near-parity with the euro. The BoE’s monetary policy committee earlier this month voted 8-1 to cut interest rates by half a percentage point to the lowest level since the central bank’s formation in 1694. One policymaker, David Blanchflower, voted in favour of cutting rates by 100 basis points, arguing that it was “becoming increasingly probable that there would be a deep and prolonged recession.”

“Our call is still that the committee will bring rates down by a further 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent next month, although the weak-

BoE governor Mervyn King told businessmen Tuesday that the bank was considering the “unconventional measures” that the government placed at its disposal as part of a new rescue package for banks unveiled last week. King stressed the priority was to get banks lending again to help cash-starved businesses and individuals, and said new measures announced last week would help.

The government unveiled a second multibillion-pound bank rescue package aimed at kick-starting its stalled economy but financial shares plummeted amid growing fears of deepening recession. Reports suggest the latest bailout – which may boost an ailing housing market – is worth some 200 billion pounds.

The news came after Royal Bank of Scotland forecast an annual loss of up to 28 billion pounds – a record in British corporate history – owing to the credit crisis and its part in a costly 2007 takeover of Dutch lender ABN Amro.

Germany faces ‘sizeable’, possibly extended recession: IMF BERLIN (AFP) – Germany faces a “sizeable” and “possibly extended” recession, with its economy set to shrink 2.5 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said last week, revising down a previous forecast. Last November, the IMF had said Europe’s largest economy would contract 0.8 percent in 2009. Germany can expect a “slow recovery” in 2010 but would still grow by only 0.1 percent, the Fund said. The projection is even gloomier than Ber-

lin’s own assessment of its economic plight. The economy ministry said Wednesday the economy would shrink 2.25 percent in 2009 before rebounding slightly next year. The IMF also warned that the “risks remain tilted to the downside.

“Germany faces the prospect of a sizeable, and possibly extended, economic downturn,” it said. The IMF praised Berlin’s efforts to kickstart the ailing economy but suggested that

it could have acted sooner and in close cooperation with other European countries. “Global policy actions and measures to contain the risk of a costly global selfreinforcing slump should preferably be coordinated regionally and internationally for maximum effect. Germany has a special leadership role to play in this process,” the report said.

While other major European economies, such as France and Britain, rapidly agreed massive fiscal stimulus packages and bank

bailouts to stave off the worst effects of recession, Germany was slower to react, earning Chancellor Angela Merkel the soubriquet “Madame Non.” But last week, German authorities wrapped up a 50 billion euro (65 billion euro) shot in the arm for the economy, including a huge increase in public spending on roads, railways, hospitals and schools, and tax cuts.

In a swipe at critics, Merkel said Berlin had undertaken a “sober analysis” of the crisis and decided on a correct time to act.

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global affairs

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

New study reveals staggering cost of Mideast conflicts

GENEVA (AFP) – Countries hit by conflicts in the Middle East have lost 12 trillion dollars over two decades through squandered development and livelihoods, said a new study launched last week.

of 1,250 dollars.

But the study also highlighted the massive cost of the U.S. invasion in Iraq and its aftermath. Without the conflict and sanctions, Iraq’s national income would have been more than 38 times larger, at 2.2 trillion dollars, it estimated.

Presented as the first dispassionate attempt to quantify the impact of conflicts in the region, it was immediately endorsed by several countries that have acted as peace brokers in the region, including Norway and Switzerland.

The study has already received official backing from Norway, Qatar, Switzerland and Turkey.

The report, by the India-based Strategic Foresight Group, revealed a massive price tag for all sides since 1991 due to the destruction wrought by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, strife in Lebanon and the US invasion of Iraq.

Swiss foreign ministry official Thomas Greminger said they hoped it would encourage the public and leaders in the Middle East to reflect on “how much they have lost” and on “how much more they could lose.”

“The report gives further ground for international actors on why they should intesify their actions for peace in the Middle East,” he added.

But it also underlined the equally huge potential of a comprehensive peace for countries and territories in the region and their inhabitants, predicting that it would unleash growth from the Mediterranean deep into the Gulf. Sundeep Waslekar, who headed the study with experts from the regions concerned, said individual incomes for Israelis and Palestinians were half what they would be if peace had been accomplished at the Madrid conference in 1991. For Iraqis, per capita incomes had been cut to one third over the same period, he added.

In the event of peace, an average Israeli family would increase its income by 4,429 dollars per year in 2010 even if Israel paid compensation to Palestinian refugees and moved more than 150,000 settlers out of the

Without the conflict and sanctions, Iraq’s national income would have been more than 38 times larger, at 2.2 trillion dollars, it estimated.

West Bank, according to the report.

The income of Palestinian territories would more than double even if they remained in their current shape and the study suggested roughly equal gains to be had on both sides of the fence. Unveiling the report at the United Nations offices here, Waslekar said the choice was

fundamentally down to one between continued “devastation” and a peace accord.

“If they don’t make the choice the cost will continue to mount,” he underlined. Even countries on the periphery could gain, said the study, positing a rise in household incomes in Jordan, which houses hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees,

British politician John Alderdice, one of the backers of the study, described the findings as “truly eyewatering.”

Alderdice, who was active in the peace process in Northern Ireland, stressed that it sought to address one half of the peace incentive: warring parties sought a settlement when each realized they couldn’t win and the costs were too great. However, Waslekar underlined that the exercise also had limitations. “There are costs you can’t measure - like the cost in human dignity,” he pointed out.

Number of Internet users tops one billion

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The global number of Internet users has surpassed one billion with China accounting for the largest population of Web surfers, digital research firm comScore Inc. reported. “Surpassing one billion global users is a significant landmark in the history of the Internet,” comScore chief executive Magid Abraham said in a statement. “It is a monument to the increasingly unified global community in which we live and reminds us that the world truly is becoming more flat,” Abraham said. “The second billion will be online before we know it, and the third billion will arrive even faster than that,” he said. ComScore said the total number of Internet users had surpassed one billion in December. The actual number of Web surfers is probably higher than that as comScore said its figures were based only on the number of Internet users aged 15 and above working from home or work computers. They did not take into account traffic from public computers such as Internet cafes or access from mobile phones or personal digital assistants. ComScore said the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 41 percent of the one billion global Internet users, followed by Europe (28 percent), North America (18 percent), Latin America (seven percent) and the Middle East and Africa (five percent). China had the largest population of Internet users with nearly 180 million people

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

Castro says he won’t outlive Obama’s term in office

HAVANA (AFP) – Ailing former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said he will not outlive U.S. President Barack Obama’s first term in office, and asked the government of his brother, President Raul Castro, not to fuss over his death. “I’m well, but I insist that nobody (in government) should feel obligated by my Reflexiones (newspaper articles), my ailing health or my death,” the 82-year-old said in a posting on an official government website, responding to rumors about his impending demise.

Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing gastrointestinal surgery in July 2006 and handing power over to his brother Raul. He has been writing regularly in newspapers and has received visiting statesmen with whom he has been photographed. Castro last week wrote two articles, including Thursday’s commentary, breaking five weeks of silence that spawned speculation over his health. Castro said he decided to write less this year “so as not to interfere or hamper my

Argentina faces farm emergency amid devastating drought

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Argentina convened its National Farm Emergency Commission to discuss coping with the drought that has devastated production across the country, a major world food exporter. The drought, which has prompted several provinces to declare a state of emergency, has cost the country four billion dollars and has burdened the state with some 1.88 billion dollars in lost tax revenue, according to some private estimates. Argentina – one of the world’s top suppliers of wheat, corn, beef and soybeans exports – exports around 35 billion dollars of food produce a year; farm exports amount to more than 50 percent of foreign sales in the South American country. Top markets for Argentine produce include other South American nations, the European Union and Asian nations.

The actual number of Web surfers is probably higher than that as comScore said its figures were based only on the number of Internet users aged 15 and above working from home or work computers.

going online in December, follwed by the United States with 163 million, Japan with 60 million, Germany and Britain with nearly 37 million each and France with 34 million. India was next with 32 million Internet users followed by Russia (29 million), Brazil (28 million), South Korea (27 million), Canada (22 million) and Italy (21 million). Google was the most frequently visited Web property in December with 777.9 million unique visitors, followed by Microsoft sites (647.9 million visitors), Yahoo! (562.6 million visitors), AOL (273 million) and Wikimedia (273 million). ComScore said Facebook.com had grown by 127 percent in the past year and welcomed 222 million visitors in December, making it the top social networking site worldwide.

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americas

about his brother’s health, telling reporters Fidel “is exercising, thinking and writing a lot ... advising me and helping me.”

colleagues in the (communist) party and the government in the constant decisions they have to make.

In Thursday’s article, titled “The 11th president of the United States” in reference to the US presidents he has seen in the 50 years since the Cuban revolution began, Fidel Castro said he spoke about Obama with Kirchner.

He said he now spends most of his time going over the papers and speeches he generated during nearly 50 years as head of the Cuban revolution. “I have had the rare privilege of observing events over a long period of time. I get information and meditate carefully over these events.

He told her he did not doubt the U.S. leader’s “honesty” and “noble intentions,” but that he had many doubts about his rule, Castro said.

“I don’t expect to enjoy this privilege in four years, when Obama’s first term in office concludes,” he said.

“Nobody can doubt the sincerity of his words when he says he will make his country into a model of freedom, respect for human rights in the world and for the independence of other nations,” he added.

After fueling pessimism over his health by not receiving visiting presidents from Ecuador and Panama this month, Castro on Wednesday met with Argentine President Cristina Kirchner. No photographs were issued of the encounter. She later told reporters Fidel looked “quite well” and had received her “on his feet like a gentleman.”

President Raul Castro, on seeing Kirchner off at the close of her visit, denied the rumors

Handout picture released by the Argentine presidential press office on January 23, 2009 of Cuban leader Fidel Castro meeting with Argentine President Cristina Kirchner in Havana on January. AFP /PRESIDENCIA

But, he warned, “despite all the tests he has been put through, Obama has not faced the most important of all. “What will he do when the immense power he has grasped soon proves to be totally useless in overcoming the intractable, opposing contradictions of the (capitalist) system?”

United Sates deports 46 percent more Mexicans and Central Americans MCALLEN (AFP) – The United States deported more than 154,000 Mexicans and Central Americans in the 2008 fiscal year, in a 46 percent rise on the previous year, an official statement said.

More than 212,000 were deported altogether, with almost three quarters from Mexico and Central America, according to the statement released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the border town of McAllen, Texas. Most – 82,000 – were Mexicans, many

who had crossed their country’s 2,000-mile (3170-kilometer) land border with the southern United States.

All countries saw a rise apart from Nicaragua, which had a slight drop to just over 2,000 deportations. The United States deported immigrants to 190 countries, and carried out more than 4,000 deportation flights, compared with almost 3,000 in the previous U.S. fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30. The number of illegal immigrants has

fallen drastically due to a string of measures including an expanding border fence – currently 500-miles-long – along the southern border.

“We’ve seen a collapse in the number of people who tried to cross our border illegally,” Cheftoff told reporters in a review of his department’s actions since it was created seven years ago. The fence has been controversial and has faced several lawsuits, none successful so far.


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Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

entertainment

‘Benjamin Button’ is Oscars front-runner with 13 nominations ton” star Pitt will be up against sentimental favorite Mickey Rourke, superb as a washed up prize-fighter in “The Wrestler,” Penn for his role in “Milk” and Frank Langella, who plays disgraced former U.S. President Richard Nixon in “Frost/Nixon.” Richard Jenkins of “The Visitor” completes the line-up.

BEVERLY HILLS (AFP) – Period love story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” emerged as the front-runner for the Academy Awards, after landing a whopping 13 nominations. The critically acclaimed romance, starring Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse, edged out India-set, rags-to-riches drama “Slumdog Millionaire,” which scored 10 nominations.

But there was disappointment for Batman blockbuster “The Dark Knight,” which failed to earn nominations in either the best picture or best director categories, two areas where the film had been tipped to score. However the film did earn a poignant posthumous Oscar nomination for Australian actor Heath Ledger, one year to the day after the heart-throb died of an accidental overdose in New York. Ledger picked up a best supporting actor nomination for his spell-binding performance as the Joker and is now the heavy favorite heading into the February 22 awards extravaganza at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. Last week’s nominations have reignited the Oscars hopes of “Benjamin Button,” which was all but ignored earlier this month at the Golden Globes when “Slumdog Millionaire” walked away with four honors.

On paper, Fincher’s epic love story appears to be the film to beat. On 15 occasions in the past 20 years the movie with the most nominations has won the coveted best pic-

Gus Van Sant’s biopic “Milk,” starring Sean Penn as trailblazing gay politician Harvey Milk.

The surprise nominee which appeared to

U.S. actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the German premiere of the film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by U.S. director David Fincher in Berlin. The film is adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards. AFP/ CLEMENS BILAN

ture Oscar.

However Oscar-watcher Tom O’Neil of the Los Angeles Times’ awards blog theenvelope.com, said he believed “Slumdog” remained the front-runner.

squeeze out “The Dark Knight” is Stephen Daldry’s Nazi drama “The Reader,” which earned five nominations.

23

Veteran Heat center Buccaneers make Morris Mourning retires from NBA youngest NFL coach TAMPA (AFP) – Raheem Morris became the National Football League’s youngest coach when the 32-year-old defensive coordinator was promoted one day after the firing of Jon Gruden.

In addition to making Morris only the seventh black head coach in NFL history, the Buccaneers made director of pro personnel Mark Dominik the team’s new general manager, replacing Bruce Allen, who was also fired.

Winslet, a double winner at the Golden Globes, surprisingly received her sixth nomination for “The Reader,” when most pundits had expected her to be named for “Revolutionary Road.” At 33, Winslet is the youngest performer ever to be nominated for six Academy Awards.

The film’s 13 nods was just one shy of the all-time record of 14 nominations held by 1997’s “Titanic” and 1950’s Bette Davis classic “All About Eve,” which both went on to earn best picture.

“The Oscars are the highest honor. For the film to be seen this way is a really nice thing for us,” Pitt said. “I’m especially happy for David Fincher who’s been working nine days a week shaping this for five years.”

sports

Pitt’s domestic partner Angelina Jolie is meanwhile nominated in the best actress category for her performance in Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling.” Her rivals will be Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Melissa Leo.

“Benjamin Button” picked up nominations in several high-profile categories including best picture and best director for David Fincher, while the film’s leading man Pitt also earned a best actor nod.

Speaking in France, Pitt described the slew of nominations for “Benjamin Button” as “a great honor for the film.”

Edition171 • Jan 27 - Feb 2, 2009

The ouster came in the wake of a last-season collapse that cost Tampa Bay a playoff spot. The Bucs began the season 9-3 but lost their final four games to tumble out of the title chase.

The directing categories mirrored the best picture race. Fincher earned a nod for “Benjamin Button,” while Briton Danny Boyle was also nominated for “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Morris oversaw the Tampa Bay secondary until last month when he replaced Monte Kiffin in the defensive post after Kiffin departed to guide the University of Tennessee.

Ron Howard, a best director Oscar-winner for “A Beautiful Mind,” was also nominated along with Van Sant for “Milk,” and Stephen Daldry for “The Reader.”

“In anything with change you have questions,” said Derrick Brooks, an 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker. “He will bring the energy we need to get everyone on the same page.

In the supporting acting categories, Ledger’s rivals include Robert Downey Jr for “Tropic Thunder,” Josh Brolin “Milk,” Philip Seymour Hoffman “Doubt” and Michael Shannon “Revolutionary Road.”

“We have to deal with change. The more comfortable people are in their roles, the better we can deal with this and make the best of it.”

Gruden guided Tampa Bay for the past seven seasons and to a Super Bowl crown in 2003 but the team lost both playoff appearances since. Morris was a worthy choice, according to Buccaneers defenders.

In the acting categories, “Benjamin But-

“’Benjamin Button’s’ 13 nomination is impressive. But Slumdog is the one that the Oscar voters are talking about. You’re hearing of Oscar voters who are watching their DVD six or seven times,” O’Neil told AFP.

“I’m ecstatic over the decision,” lineback-

“It’s unusual that we see a contender like ‘Slumdog’ that voters talk about so warmly.”

Morris is only the seventh black head coach in NFL history.

er Barrett Ruud said. “He was on that fast track to being a head coach. He’s one of the rising superstars in the profession. So I’m thrilled he’s going to be coaching me. “He brings not only great Xs and Os strategy and fundamental football, but he really knows situational football too. You combine that with knowing how to motivate people and knowing push people, he’s going to be a great coach.” Linebacker Cato June added: “It’s good that we can hire from within a guy that knows the expectations and is going to get the guys motivated and hopefully turn this thing around.”

Big money good for sport but ethics are needed: IOC chief Rogge

Other contenders in the best picture category are political drama “Frost/Nixon” and

The seven-time All-Star had planned for 2007-08 to be his final season.

MIAMI (AFP) – Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, who had been battling to come back from a devastating knee injury, gave up the fight and retired from the National Basketball Association. Mourning’s announcement brings down the curtain on a 15-season career in which the 38-year-old established himself as the best player in the Heat’s 21-year history.

The seven-time All-Star had planned for 2007-08 to be his final season.

Each column, row and box must contain each number from 1 to 9. There is only one solution, wich is shown here.

But that plan went awry when he tore the patella tendon in his right knee, as well as his quadriceps in a game on December 19 of 2007. He hasn’t played in a game since, but had continued to harbor hopes he might return. Mourning acknowledged that the decision to leave was difficult, but he had no doubt it was the right one for him.

“I truly feel it’s best that I retire,” he said. “When you’ve got something you love and you’re passionate about, it’s hard to let that go. But at 38 I feel I’ve physically done all I can for this game. It has been an amazing

ride.

“It’s not a sad day, but it’s a day to celebrate. I can think of a million people right now that would have loved to walk the path I’ve walked. The ups and the downs made it even more joyous.” Mourning, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, had already beaten the odds when he returned to the league in 2004-05 after receiving a kidney transplant. The life-saving transplant followed his diagnosis with a rare kidney disease in 2003.

In 2006 he helped Miami to its first NBA title. One of the league’s most feared defenders for the better part of a decade, Mourning is the Heat’s career leader in points, games, rebounds and blocked shots.

He averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game over 837 NBA appearances for Miami, the Charlotte Hornets and New Jersey after being taken second overall in the 1992 NBA Draft.

SOFIA (AFP) – Big money is welcome in sports but only if ethics and sportmanship remain, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, said.

“There is nothing bad if money is coming into sport as long as the ethics and the spirit of sport are complete and preserved,” Rogge told journalists during a visit to Bulgaria to mark the 85th anniversary of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee. He admitted that big money flowed into just a few popular sports, while the vast majority saw little or none coming in. “But money does not go alone to athletes. The money coming to popular sport also trickles down at the grassroot levels, at the small clubs in the province. And we can get to develop that sport thanks to the money that comes in at the top,” Rogge added.

A total 94 percent of the IOC’s revenues from Olympic Games went to “grassroot sports”, he noted.

“We detect and train athletes of developing countries who have no money, we build sport infrastructure in countries where the governments cannot spend that money, and we do this thanks to the money generated by the Olympic Games,” Rogge said. In a lecture earlier, Rogge noted it was the IOC’s duty “to defend the values we have in sport and to remain vigilant to the dangers

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge of Belgium reacts after being awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa diploma by the Bulgarian National Sports Academy in Sofia on January. AFP / VELKO ANGELOV

that threaten it: doping, violence and corruption”. He also rejected comments that the IOC might favour certain athletes by not drugtesting as often as others. “There are no privileged athletes in the fight against doping... Everyone is controlled in the same rigorous way.”



The Journal Edition # 171