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(506) 2223-1327                    Published Monday, Feb. 25, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 39                Email us
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Costa
                Rica real estate


Nudge from U.S. Senate fails to cure property woes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats may not be aware that Costa Rica was once the subject of a blistering U.S. Senate resolution over a complex squatter case that resulted in the murder of a U.S. citizen.

Not much seems to have changed in the last 16 years because property thefts still are in the news.

The issue is current, in part, because former expat Daniel Fowlie is threatening to return to Costa Rica to reclaim the extensive property he held in Pavones in extreme southwest Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, there are other cases moving snail-like through the Costa Rican courts, and in Nosara, a crown jewel of Costa Rican tourism, there are reports of land invasions, legal trickery and other versions of property fraud.

It was in 1997 when a seven-year dispute erupted into gunplay. Dead was World War II vet Max Dalton. A squatter also died. Reports at the time said that a gang of squatters, mostly armed with machetes, refused to let friends aid Dalton for more than a half hour after he was shot.

Many of these-one-time squatters are the de facto property owners that Fowlie will have to dislodge.

The expat's death and apparent incompetency by Costa Rica law enforcement brought an unusual, undiplomatic response from the U.S. Senate, orchestrated mostly by U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms. The  North Carolina Republican also was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Senate resolution asked two things of Costa Rica:

"That it is the sense of Congress that the Government of Costa Rica should– (1) in the interest of justice to which Costa Ricans have long been committed, consider fundamental reform to protect the property rights and lives of all law-abiding residents and property owners of Costa Rica from acts of intimidation, violence, and property invasion. (2) conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the death of Max Dalton."

Expat property owners throughout the country would agree that Costa Rica has not complied with the first request. Friends of Max Dalton would roll their eyes at the second.

Said the Senate:

Whereas, although the United States embassy in Costa Rica had forewarned Costa Rican officials about threats on Max Dalton’s life, on November 13, 1997, 78 year-old United States citizen from Idaho and World War II veteran Max Dalton was surrounded and murdered in a dispute with squatters, some of whom were illegally occupying his property in the Pavones region of Costa Rica;

"Whereas the murder of Max Dalton was the tragic conclusion to a seven-year assault perpetrated against Mr. Dalton by the squatters in an attempt to steal his property, and Costa Rican citizen Alvaro Aguilar was also killed in the incident;

"Whereas the initial investigation of Max Dalton’s death was flawed in that investigators failed to take fingerprints, collect bullets, and secure the scene of the crime;

"Whereas, landowners, including United States and Costa Rican citizens, have reported harassment and invasions by squatters in areas of the country, other than Golfito in Pavones, including Cocotales in the North East, the Caribbean cities of Cahuita and Cocles, and Jaco on the Pacific Coast;

"Whereas the squatters’ tactics have included stealing and starving livestock, burning homes, leveling crops and fruit trees, death threats, machete attacks, and, in the case of United States citizen, murder;

"Whereas Costa Rica has a long history of democratic governance, respect for human rights and close, friendly relations with the United States.

Nonetheless, successive Costa Rican governments
The newspaper
also published:

It's 'The Return of the King,' Costa Rican style

Being banned from here is a surprise to Fowlie

Expat faces defamation charge over YouTube video

The legal right to steal: A valid power of attorney

Registro Nacional turns its back on obvious frauds


 have failed to deal with squatters invading property held by foreign and Costa Rican landowners . . . "

When Helms died in 2008, La Nación, the Spanish-language newspaper, did not even mention the Pavones case and it had not done so in 2001 when Helms said he was retiring from the Senate.

A.M. Costa Rica has been publishing news stories about land invasions, particularly as they affect expats since its inception in 2001. Although the news stories have emphasized problems of expats, many Costa Ricans have similar problems. That's why Costa Ricans are wary about publicizing family deaths. Strangers frequently show up with a sales agreement freshly signed by the deceased.

One expat couple lost a $300,000 Pacific coast condo they purchased for cash through some legal maneuvers. But most of the expat squatter problems are restricted to those who own vacant land.

The poster boy of property problems is Sheldon Haseltine, who has waged court battles for 16 years over coastal properties in the central Pacific. The end still is not in sight.

A.M. Costa Rica has published more than 100 major stories on property problems. Articles have outlined how Costa Rican law favors squatters and how expats must keep a daily eye on their vacant land to avoid problems. Many were written by legal consultant Garland M. Baker.

The newspaper also has reported how various chambers of the Corte Suprema de Justicia differ on how to handle so-called innocent third parties, those who have purchased stolen property. That concept figured in a series of news stories involving some well-connected Costa Ricans who claimed they purchased a million dollar Pacific coast property from a snow cone vendor on the beach. Even a judge did not buy that story.

Although the U.S. Senate threatened to block millions in grants, Costa Rica did not change the laws. So any change in the near future is unlikely.

Fowlie was here once before and was banned in 2005 by the then-immigration director on the strength of a La Nación news story that said residents of Pavones felt threatened by the septuagenarian.

The 15-miles of beach concession land claimed by Fowlie has a value today of many millions of dollars. He said he has continued to pay taxes on his land to the Municipalidad de Golfito.

Fowlie was a paternalistic resident in Pavones for years. He said he purchased the land along the Pacific coast mainly to save the trees from the slash-and-burn culture that was eroding the forest there.

His efforts to maintain direct control of his ownership was frustrated by an 18-year stint  in a U.S. prison on a marijuana conspiracy charge.

There is no certainty that Fowlie will be allowed to return to Costa Rica. Even if he does, the legal mess he will encounter is daunting, personal safety issues side.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 39
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Real estate agents and services

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6822-5/8/12
electricity
Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos graphic 
Chart shows the percentage of voltage problems in each firm.

Electrical suppliers short
on voltage, regulator says


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Voltage problems cause failures of lights and electronic devices, so expats might want to measure the power that is coming into their homes and offices.

The nation's regulatory agency did and found that the major power suppliers had significant variations from the acceptable voltage.

Of 23,600 measurements of the major electrical utilities from 2003 to 2012, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos found that 26, percent of the time the voltage was outside acceptable limits, it said Friday.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad had 41 percent of the measurements outside the acceptable range, and the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz had 40 percent.  The two firms supply 79 percent of the electrical power in the country.

The Junta Administrativa del Servicio Eléctrico Municipal de Cartago led all the other firms with outages.

Low voltage causes appliances to struggle and to run hot. Computer users should have a device to regulate the electrical flow to protect their investment.

The old custom house scam
is alive and well at airports


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents say that at least 70 individuals, most of them in business, have fallen for the old aduana scam.

That's the fraud where a crook claims to have valuable merchandise tied up in the customs warehouse and offers to sell the items at a cut rate.

The offered products have ranged from cell telephones to bars of copper, said judicial agents.

Of course, there is no merchandise, and agents suspect that a gang of some 32 persons have been playing the scam on persons in San Carlos, Guanacaste, Cartago and in other parts of the country. The scene of the scam is an international airport, mostly Juan Santamaría in Alajuela.

These crooks have taken the scam one step further. If in the process of stealing from a business person, the victim realizes that he is being scammed, the crooks are likely to pull out weapons and convert the crime into a robbery, said agents.

Scams like this have been going on ever since there were customs houses or aduanas. But the crooks manage to contact by telephone persons whose desire for cheap products overrides what they may have learned in the past.


Marijuana by hydroponics
results in prison sentences


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite what may be seen as a liberal attitude toward marijuana, expats probably do not want to go into the farming business.

Two persons who did got sentences of eight and 12 years in prison, said the Poder Judicial.

The case was heard last week in the  Tribunal de Juicio de Pérez Zeledón and involved a man with the last names of Villalobos Solís and a woman with the last names of  Lee Mad. The woman received the lesser sentence. They lived in Barrio Pedregoso in San Isidro de El General where investigators found 1,500 marijuana plants in a search in 2011. They were using a hydroponic system.

At the time, agents said the operation was the biggest to date in the southern part of the country.

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary








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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 39
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jumping
A.M. Costa Rica/ Brittany Cogbill                   
There's only one direction now for Ms. Pearson.
A certified courageous couple of seconds from an old bridge
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

I never understood the phrase “heart jumping out of your chest” until I was standing 265 feet in the air at the end of the platform that was affixed to Puente Viejo del Colorado in Naranjo, Costa Rica. 

My instructions were clear.  I was to walk until my toes were dangling over the metal fixture and drop the long thick bungee cord that is attached between my two ankle straps into the vast greenery beneath me.

“At that point you are completely free,” Jumpmaster Kenneth of Tropical Bungee said. 

Free was an ironic word choice since in that brief moment I felt like a prisoner walking the green mile to my planned execution.

Me being erectly positioned there encased by nothing except the lush forestry was the most terrifying experience of my life.  All the confidence I had faked before this moment flew out the window, and my thoughts immediately transitioned to: “I can’t do this.” 

My friend, Brittany Cogbill, and I had made a pact the day before to push the other one off in the event that one of us turned chicken.  The set up of the jump voided out that idea, and the truth became evident.  The reality of making this happen was up to no one but myself.  Besides, she had just completed her mission, proving that everything was going to be okay if I could just let go.

Behind me a countdown from five began.  At that moment I silenced my inhibitions and made up my mind that I would not be the failed attempt of the day. At the sound of zero, I pulled my nerves together in a deep breath, stretched out my arms and took the plunge just at the bridge of Lil John’s song “Get Low” fittingly played “Let me see you get low, you scared, you scared” in the background.

Jumping was the easy part.  I belly flopped the sky and the sensation of flying poured through my body.  A rush took over that completely cleared my mind, and in my free fall I connected with nature.

One Mississippi.  Two Mississippi.  The seconds passed, and then the weight of gravity took over.  I realized I was still falling and panicked.  I questioned whether I had just made a suicide attempt.  The words of my group member Dave Jordison came to mind.

“It felt like I was going to die,” he said describing his jump.  “No white light, no long hallways.  Just instant death.”
Before the jump, Kenneth told us that Tropical Bungee opened 21 years ago and was the first bungee jumping organization in Central America. 

“I’m telling you so you know you should have no worries about safety,” he said.  “We have had no accidents.”
certificate
A.M.Costa Rica/Brittany Cogbill 
The certificate of courage, awarded by the two jumpmasters.

Well safety was all I could think about.

At that moment, the cord reached its extension limit and sprang me upward.  The force transitioned quickly from a pull to a push and I fell a second time.  The quick change in directions made my belly cartwheel.  My screams of fright rang out in the surroundings.

And then it was over.  “The shortest, longest four seconds of your life,” Kenneth described.  I hung suspended more than two hundred feet below the bridge, with rocks in the flowing Rio Colorado beneath me apparently close.

Dangling there upside down, I felt like the ankle bracelets were slipping further down off my legs.  I told myself to breathe, to stop imagining my head smashing on the rocks.  With each exhale I said, “I’m not going to fall,” and prayed that I would be able to catch the hook our jumpmasters threw down to pull me back up.

Time that I could not measure elapsed.  Finally, the hook was in hand, and I did a half pull up to fasten it to my waist harness.  The operators pulled me to an upright position, and I made my way back to safety.

It wasn’t until my feet were on the bridge that I breathed a sigh of relief.  Jumpmasters Kenneth and Roberto greeted me with a “How did it feel?” to which I responded “Pura Vida, Mae.”

“Hold out your hand’s,” they instructed me.  My hands shook uncontrollable, a sign of a 100 percent adrenaline rush.

I was the last one in our group of three to make the leap.  We were done, received certificates of courage, and left to go home.

“Scratch that off our bucket list,” Brittany said to me on our ride back. 

Yes, I agreed as we clashed hi fives.  Now on to skydiving, I thought.
friend
A.M. Costa Rica photo/KaylaPearson                       
Brittany Cogbill displays her joy at completing her jump

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 39
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convrgence
An example of the work of Kéyner Segura

New exhibition shows merger
of architecture and drawing

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The title of the art exhibit is "Convergence," which means coming together.

That is an apt description of the work by Kéyner Segura, who is a graduate architect who has made an extensive study of art, drawing and design. According to the Hidden Garden Art Gallery, the site of the exhibition:

In "Convergence," Segura takes viewers on a journey through the last three years of his creations. This exhibit is the point of convergence of different styles and techniques explored in recent years. There is no common language for all paintings included in this collection. Styles and techniques are constantly changing and move us from one to another, showing very different messages and substance in each. This creates a dynamic and communicative approach in a unique style, as Segura paints freely, soaring from one style to another and exploring them all according to his artistic needs.

Art and architecture fuse together when artist Segura captures his imagination on canvas, said the gallery.  Born in Puntarenas, Segura's parents supported his creativity during his childhood, when they permitted him to paint murals on the walls of their home, he said. This freedom of expression laid the foundation of who he is today. Having a formal degree in architecture, and having taken numerous courses in art appreciation, drawing, and design, Segura recognized that art and architecture are closely related, said the gallery.

"I could not paint in the same way without having studied architecture. It enriches my art and my imagination," the artist said. "They are closely intertwined and connected."

Though inspired by modern and post-modern artists such as Fernando Carballo and César Valverde, Segura created a series of paintings motivated from his study of renown Costa Rican artist and architect, Rafael Ángel “Felo” García.

The opening is Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hidden Garden Art Gallery, located 5 kilometers west of the Daniel Oduber airport. The exhibit continues through April 5. For more information, those interested may contact 2667-0592, 8386-6872, or email hiddengarden@thevanstonegroup.com.


Film about Iranian hostages
takes Oscar for top picture


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

"Argo," the film about the Iranian hostage crisis, won the top prize at the Academy Awards Sunday in Los Angeles, beating "Lincoln," which was widely expected to win.

Ben Affleck, "Argo's" director and co-producer, thanked everyone who had anything to do with the movie in his acceptance speech.

First lady Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance from the White House toward the end of the ceremony. She praised the films that were nominated in the best picture category saying "they made us laugh and they made us weep." She then announced the winner, "Argo."

Daniel Day Lewis won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."

Jennifer Lawrence fell on the steps up to the stage to pick up her best acting Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook."

Ang Lee thanked the movie god when he edged out Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" to win the best director prize for "The Life of Pi."

​​Ann Hathaway won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in the musical "Les Miserables," while Christoph Waltz picked up his second Oscar for his supporting role in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." He won his first supporting acting prize in 2009 for his role as a Nazi in Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds."

Tarantino won the prize for best original screenplay for "Djano Unchained."

"Searching for Sugarman," the chronicle of a forgotten musician's rediscovery took home the Oscar for best documentary.

The French-language film "Amour" won the best foreign language Academy Award.

This year's show featured a film tribute to the so-called Bond girls who have appeared the five decades of the British super-spy James Bond films. Halle Berry, herself a "Bond girl" introduced the tribute. Afterwards, Shirley Bassey sang "Goldfinger."

The Oscar winners are chosen by some 5,800 movie industry professionals who are members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Seth MacFarlane was the host of this year's show.

Other winners were:

Best Original Song - "Skyfall" - Adele Adkins and and Paul Epworth

Best Original Score - "Life of Pi" - Michael Danna

Original Screenplay - "Django Unchained" - Quentin Tarrantino

Adapted Screenplay - "Argo" - Chris Terrio

Animated Short Film - "Paperman"- John Kahrs

Animated Feature Film - "Brave" - Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman

Cinematography - "Life of Pi", Claudio Miranda

Visual Effects  - "Life of Pi" - Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott

Achievement in Costume Design - Jacqueline Durran, for "Anna Karenina"

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyle -  Lisa Wescott and Julie Dartnell, for "Les Miserables"

Life Action Short Film: Shawn Christensen, for "Curfew"

Documentary Short Subject: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, for "Inocente"
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Real estate for rent (paid category)
Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part 
tropical
                                    homes
of Costa Rica. We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442.
7833-8/15/13

Looking 4 Costa Rica Villas?
Rent our all-inclusive, 7 bedroom rental home in Guanacaste.  Just 20 minutes from the Liberia airport, this deluxe ocean view mansion sleeps 6-22 guests.  Ideal for company events & Costa Rica weddings. With 3 meals served daily and a full-time staff to pamper guests, it's more than a Costa Rica vacation rental ...It's your own Private Resort!  Call toll free: 1-800-606-1860.
7695-1/19/14

Lovely cottage on private coffee farm
One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed DSL internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone line,
Sarchi cottage
balcony with beautiful view, especially at night with the far off lights of San José. Farm is gated and guarded, private and peaceful, owner on-site. Sarchi is a quiet small town about 30-40 min from the airport, a perfect base to explore from and also get a
feel for normal, day-to-day Tico life. Rental is $575 per month, 3 months minimum. All utilities included. Shorter stays at $45 per night, 2 nights minimum. $225 per week, and $30 per additional night. Sorry, no pets.  Contact jogya345@yahoo.com or 8308-7732.
7840-3/11/13

Palmares
                                    rental properties
Homes for rent
in Palmares, Alajuela

Visit our Web page for more information.
www.palmarescostarica.us
7819-4/29/13

COMPLETELY and nicely furnished large 2-bedroom
apartment view
apartment. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Convenient location in downtown, San José. All bills paid except electric. $600 per month. Contact: rentnowcr@gmail.com or call 8555-9819.
7843-3/12/13

prime
                                    properties
ATTENTION EXPATS:
 
We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Rohrmoser
Escazú
Santa Ana
 

  rentals.sanjose@gmail.com
7837-3/12/13

Beautiful Golfito house for rent
in Costa Rica: $300/month

Available now and please see the video!
New construction includes some wooden stairs to the main gate and a small pavilion above the house overlooking the village. The distance to Golfito harbor/downtown is 7 kms and you can get there by car, taxi or bus. The rent is $300/month, which is very reasonable for those who want to live near sea and Panamá in an inexpensive lifestyle. It was so nice to live near Panamá where people can shop for much lower prices including for groceries. Please contact me at berosyyourlife@hotmail.com for more details. Thank you.
7800-2/22/13

Palacio condo
Beautiful 2-bedroom, 2-bath modern condo for rent.
(Only 6 years old).
Great Secure Area, Next to 5-Star Hotel Palacio (La Uruca). Gated community, 24-hour security, 5 minutes to San José. Swimming Pool, washer/dryer, covered parking, high-speed Internet, cable TV, home phone! $900 per month, fully furnished, 6-Month minimum! Please Call: 001-954-782-0200 or email jas21358@comcast.net
7780-2/21/13

Volcano View!
Santo Domingo de Heredia, gated community
Fully furnished, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, cable, internet, hot water tank. 300 meters from Mas x Menos supermarket. 700 meters from farmers' market. Bus stop at gate. $600 all utilities paid. Available Jan. 1. cinclus@ice.co.cr
7680-12/28/12

ALAJUELA – SERENE LIVING – MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200
Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

7857-5/4/13





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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 39
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Prices of U.S. corn, soybeans
predicted to decline in 2013


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Prices of corn, soybeans and wheat are likely to decline this year, according to the latest forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Although farmers are going into this season with the ground still extremely dry after last year’s record-breaking drought, the department still expects good yields this year.

Weather, like the winter storm which blew through the southern Great Plains this week bringing relief from the drought conditions which have lingered since summer, will be a critical factor.

Wet, heavy snow and ice blanketed Scott Neufeld’s farm near Fairview, Oklahoma.

“This couldn’t have come at a better time," he says.

Since September, Oklahoma has received half to two-thirds of its normal rainfall, and the winter wheat crop is in bad shape. Some of the fields Neufeld planted last fall hadn't even sprouted.

“There are some of our acres that didn’t emerge," Neufeld says. "And this moisture will sprout that seed and get it out of the ground.”

Neufeld expects his wheat harvest will probably still fall below normal.

Average rainfall the rest of the season would not get the region out of the drought.  Precipitation in Oklahoma has been below normal nearly every month for almost two years, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Curl.

“It’s going to be hard," he says. "We’ve been in such a deficit for such a long time. It takes a while to dig into these kinds of situations, and it takes a while to dig out as well.”

To get back to normal, Curl says the state needs an additional 25 to 50 centimeters of precipitation on top of its usual amount. That's 10 to 20 inches.

More than a third of the country is in severe drought or worse as farmers prepare to plant next season’s crops. It follows three consecutive down years for corn harvests and a bad year for wheat in 2011.

The latest predictions call for drought to persist over the western part of farm country, but Texas A&M University economist Mark Welch says farmers don’t need a wet year to produce a good crop.

“With the technology that we have built into the farming practices," he says, "with the varieties that have been developed, seed technologies, it’s just incredible what some of these crops can do.”

Welch says it’s unusual to have two extremely dry years in a row and that there’s little connection between dry soil at the start of the season and crop yields at the end.

Announcing the latest crop outlook Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Chief Economist Joe Glauber was optimistic.

“We’re expecting a rebound in yields," Glauder said. "We should see record production, I think, for corn and soybeans. That means lower prices.”

But Glauber noted he made almost the same announcement last year. Then the drought hit.  With world supplies of corn and soybeans extremely tight, Welch says the weather forecast will drive the market.

“If it’s for a dome of high pressure, up go the prices," Glauber says. "If it’s for a cold front to push through and bring some rain, down will come the prices. And so, we’ll bounce around with that all season.”

That outlook suggests farmers and consumers alike should brace for another volatile year for crop prices.


Raúl Castro gets new term
for five more years in Cuba


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Raúl Castro has been reelected as Cuba's president in what is expected to be his last official five-year term.

According to state media, the National Assembly of People's Power approved Castro as president Sunday along with 52-year-old Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez as his first vice president.

Earlier in the day, retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro made a rare public appearance at the opening session of the National Assembly in Havana. Assembly members gave Castro a standing ovation.

President Castro, who replaced his ailing brother Fidel in 2008, has called for two five-year terms for Communist Party and government leaders. The 81-year-old president raised speculation Friday about a possible retirement, suggesting that he had plans to resign at some point.

During his first term, Castro presided over limited reforms that included the gradual easing of restrictions on travel and personal property.


Cracked turbine blade
grounds new U.S. fighters


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Defense Department has suspended all test flights of the new F-35 fighter jets after discovering a cracked blade in the engine of one of the planes.

The problem was discovered during an inspection at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The engine is being shipped to manufacturer Pratt Whitney in Connecticut for evaluation.  The Pentagon has grounded all versions of the radar-evading warplane.

The Marines and the Navy have been testing the aircraft in the Pentagon's $396 billion F-35 fighter jet program.

The Pentagon said the grounding of the 51 planes is a precautionary measure and it is too early to know the full impact of the newly discovered problem.

Friday marked the second grounding of the warplane in two months.  The F-35 program has been marked by cost overruns and technical problems.


Executive Branch backing
same-sex marriage rights

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has filed a legal brief with the Supreme Court to strike down a 1996 law defining marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman.

The document, filed Friday, marks the first time a U.S. president has endorsed same-sex marriage rights before the high court.

The White House's position is that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The brief said the law denies federal benefits to tens of thousands of same-sex couples that are granted to heterosexual couples.

The case before the Supreme Court involves Edith Windsor, a lesbian who had been legally married to her decades-long partner. However, Windsor was required to pay a hefty estate tax bill when her partner died because she was not considered legally married under the Defense of Marriage Act.

Republicans in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have voiced their opposition to the president's stance on gay marriage.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case next month.

Also, the court will consider next month a California law, Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in that state.


Scrap drug war to fight
antibiotic misuse, essay says


By the Journal of Medical Ethics news staff

Governments around the world should stop squandering resources fighting an unwinnable war against illegal drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. Instead, they should use the cash to curb antibiotic misuse, which poses a far more serious threat to human health, claims a leading ethicist in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Jonny Anomaly, of Duke University, Durham in North Carolina, says that concerted collective action is needed to tackle the excessive and casual prescribing of antibiotics, which has led to a worrying rise in resistance to these medicines.

“Government action is both more appropriate and more likely to be effective in regulating antibiotics than it is in criminalizing narcotics,” he writes.

Anomaly says the arguments put forward for continuing to plough resources into the war on illegal drugs, such as the need to curb the related violence and social harms, should, of course, be taken seriously.

But he contends that “most of the violence and crime associated with narcotics is caused by laws that prohibit drug use, rather than drug use itself.”  And the argument that stimulant drugs increase violent tendencies is not based on strong evidence, he says.

He accepts that a drug habit takes its toll on friends and family, but argues that this does not justify treating this behavior as a crime.

And while supporters of tough action on illegal drugs fear that the absence of harsh penalties will simply make it easier to get hold of them. Anomaly, a physician, points to the evidence in Portugal, the only country that has decriminalized recreational drug use.

This “suggests that consumption has not significantly increased for most drugs, and has actually declined for some…greater accessibility does not necessarily lead to more drug use by either adults or children,” he writes.

At the very least antibiotic resistant infections have the power to harm others and make illness more costly to treat, and they can often kill, he warns.

“This feature gives antimicrobial drugs a fundamentally different moral status from recreational drugs, and it suggests that current policy priorities are based on moral confusion, scientific ignorance, or both,” he suggests.

He puts forward several possible ways of tackling antibiotic resistance.

These include phasing out the use of these drugs in farming, along with factory farming; cash incentives for pharmaceutical companies to conserve existing drugs; banning over the counter sales of antibiotics in developing nations; and global surveillance of resistant bacteria, spearheaded by the world’s wealthy nations.

In addition to this, a flat user fee should be levied on courses of antibiotics, the monies from which could be used to pay for antibiotic research, he suggests.

“A user fee would not be a panacea. But it could be a crucial part of a multidimensional approach to the problem of resistance. User fees are especially attractive because of their fairness and simplicity,” he said.


Chávez condition called
breathing insufficiency


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Officials in Venezuela say President Hugo Chávez is still suffering from respiratory problems following his cancer operation in Cuba in December.

Chávez returned from Cuba a week ago and has since been treated in a military hospital in Caracas.

Venezuela's Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said that Chávez is being treated there for breathing problems.  But he said treatment for the president's main illness continues without significant adverse effects for now.

"The breathing insufficiency that emerged post-operation persists, and the tendency has not been favorable, so it is still being treated.  Medical treatment for the base illness continues without significant adverse effects for now.  The patient remains in communication with relatives and the government political group in close collaboration with the medical work group. The president holds firm to Christ, with absolute will to live and maximum discipline in the treatment of his health,'' said Villegas.

Venezuela's leftist leader has been hospitalized since returning from Cuba Monday.  He had his fourth cancer operation in December in Havana.

The government released photos of the president last week, but he has not been seen publicly since his latest operation.


South Korea inaugurates
its first female president

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

South Korea has sworn in its first female president, the daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee.

After being inaugurated Monday in front of a crowd of tens of thousands gathered at the National Assembly building in Seoul, Park Geun-hye urged North Korea to drop its nuclear ambitions and stop wasting its resources on nuclear and missile development.

She said she would not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of South Korea's people and the security of the nation.

Park Geun-hye served as first lady of South Korea after her mother was killed by a stray assassin's bullet. She takes office about 33 years after her military dictator father was gunned down by his security chief in 1979.
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If your looking for the best, then this is the home for you
Miramar villa
Miramar Mediterranean style villa for sale owner motivated Call Andy Tel: +(506) 8336 3002 mail: info@costaricaeye.com

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The #1 Authority in Costa Rica Real Estate

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Since 1996, CRREC has been providing the most valuable resource for discovering real estate in Costa Rica. Our Costa Rica properties database contains some of the most exclusive and hard to find properties in the country. Not to mention how affordable some of our Costa Rica homes for sale are. So if you're in the market for Costa Rica real estate then we encourage you to
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A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
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For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112. www.costaricarealtyone.com
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Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.
White house
Excellent Offer! house price lowered to $220.000. Click HERE!
lot
3,000 square meters of land ready to build at $50,000. click HERE!
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Visit our Web Site:
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 English: (Cristian Arce)
English:  (Luis Arce)
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)

   (506) 8538-6186
   (506) 7100-8489
   (506) 8707-4016

  Send us your request to our email: info@greciarealestate.com
7685-2/7/12

Real estate for sale (paid category)


ALAJUELA – PRIVATE COMPOUND OF 4 HOMES - $850,000 TURNKEY
Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:
7856-5/4/13

Morazan building for sale
Building for sale by owner
near Parque Morazán San José center on the street running down
the west side of the Hotel Holiday Inn. Perfect for club, bar etc,
Larger than it appears from outside. Call. (506) 8847-1822
or email: diamondchels@yahoo.com
7826-3/4/13

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary. jungalow@gmail.com.
7845-8/18/13

Montemar montage
Gated community near the beach
SALE on our last 4 lots! Starting at just $20k with financing available.
Deep discounts for cash sales!
Reserve today with just $5,000 down
Great retirement, vacation, or investment option!
Lots of wildlife on the property. Gated front entrance, caretakers house.
Water and power on site.
http://www.haciendamontemar.com/
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891
7830-5/8/13

Rich Coast Montage
RichCoastRealty.com
Central Pacific Coast Real Estate
- 2-bedroom house in gated community, $92,500.
- Lots in gated community from $20k w/financing available.
- 3-bedroom house in gated community, furnished, walk to the beach, $125k
- 3-bedroom oceanview house on 5 acres subdividable, $270k
- 58-acre oceanview property subdividable, $169k
Oceanfront residential Lot $58k
and much more....
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718 9891
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
7829-5/8/13

Ocean view home
Georgeous House For Sale In Costa Rica
Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft TITLED property. This is a very special and rare property because of the INCREDIBLE OCEAN VIEW and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must see. Ocean view Only $345 000.00 US More details: http://www.monalbum.fr/Album=E3GLBJQX
Jack 506-2778-8172    Email: quadtours@yahoo.ca
7789-2/14/13

Luxurious new beach home for sale
Top of the line construction!
This titled property is located on a dead end road only 300 meters from the beach at Esterillos Este. It's a ''one of a kind'' construction with natural diamond Brite pool!
Top of Line construction
1st master bedroom with full bath and loft area. 2nd master bedroom with full bath and outdoor shower. Sells completely furnished with front-loading washer-dryer, commercial refri/freezer and deluxe furniture. Storage area and carport. $289,000.00 USD Call 2778-8408 or 8707-1037 or email marietta234@yahoo.es
www.beachfrontcentralpacific.com
7788-3/14/13

just reduced
Just Reduced to $169,000!!!
58-acre oceanview and mountainview property

Segregated into 9 lots, Excellent Development Potential!
20 minutes from the beach Central Pacific Coast, between Jacó and Quepos.
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/1060.html
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005  CR Cell 8718-9891
7766-6/17/13

montage ofr photos
ALAZAN Eco-Friendly Community

- Ocean, mountain, and river views, built in harmony with nature
- 70% sold out, 1.25 acre + lots available from $75,000
- All lots held in separate corporations
- Functioning HOA with 24-hour security and gated front entrance
- 100% custom homes, turnkey construction
- Community homes have been featured in Su Casa Architectural Magazine
- Abundant wildlife on the property, access to 45-acre nature preserve
- Organic Permaculture farm coming soon
- Build your custom dream home and join our community of friends in paradise!
Brokers Welcome
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/1011.html
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
CR Cell 011 (506) 8718-9891
7725-xxxx

Home sites for sale
5,000 square meters, 1.25 acres, 20 minutes to the International Airport, 5 minutes from 5-star RIU Hotel Casino. 20 minutes from 20 different  beaches! Artola Estates
Artola logo
is a private gated community, with only 56 lots remaining! Home packages starting at $199,000. Financing with great terms available! www.artolaestates.com 
Phone number 011-506-2-697-0794.
7703-2/12/12

Retirement/vacation/hobby farm lots for sale
Libertad, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, 15 minutes to Playa del Coco or Playa Hermosa,
Colinas
20 minutes to Liberia airport. Project is Colinas del Sol del Pacifico, S. A. 125-acre project with beautiful mountain and valley views. 70 clear-titled lots remaining for sale with water and electric to each lot. Lots are 5,000 sq. meters and larger. Fenced and gated project. Ready to build. Lots start at $30,000.    Guanacaste tree
See www.colinasdelsolcr.com. Prices listed have been reduced from those shown on the Web site.  For all general inquiries please contact Jim Day at JimDay50@aol.com or 001 517 484-3675.
7607-2/27/12

beachfront one
beachfronttwo
beachfront three
Price slashed for quick sale.
Beautiful, completely remodeled beachfront home for sale.

Great location in between Quepos and Parrita. Please visit this Web site for complete details: www.tomstewartinsurance.com/CostaRica. Price recently reduced for quick sale. Email  tomstewart0001@gmail.com or call 713-775-9283.
7600-3/7/13

Costa Azul view
costa azul ocean
Properties in Osa near the ocean.
50% discount from the valuation price, starting at $30.000.
Financing available. Contact us at +506 2233-7778 or +506 8815-6476.
Grupo Costa Azul – A property waiting for you!
www.grupocostaazulcr.com
7484-9/11/12

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page


San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 39
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Agents seek help in case
of man killed in Londres


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law officers have identified the body of a man found in
Chaves
Cháves
Londres near Quepos by the last name of Cháves.

The man who was known to police died from three bullets in the head and neck, said judicial agents. They managed to identify him late Thursday by tattoos. The body was found Thursday, probably a day after the man was killed. He is believed to be 19.

Agents are seeking help in their
investigation and ask anyone with information about the man to call 2777-0785 or 2777-1511.


U.S. lawmakers struggle to
make agreement by Friday


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States is days away from automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts that would impact everything from national security to air traffic controllers to food inspection.  Republicans and Democrats are criticizing the budget sequester, but they show no sign of forging a bipartisan deal to avert it.

Unless Congress acts, $85 billion will be trimmed from U.S. military and domestic spending this year, the first installment of $1.2 trillion of cuts over a 10-year period.

“I think it will kick in," said Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Sen. McCaskill, a Democrat, says her party is in agreement with President Barack Obama that a substitute for the sequester should be enacted, comprised of targeted spending cuts and revenue increases. Speaking on the Fox News Sunday television program, Ms. McCaskill said the Senate will take up the measure.

“We will vote on something this week, and it will be a balanced approach. It will do both spending cuts and it will close some loopholes," she said.

Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, oppose any measure that increases tax revenue. Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican, says the key to fixing America’s fiscal woes is to curb runaway federal spending.

“Look, the federal government is twice the size it was 11 years ago," said Coburn. "Sequestration is a terrible way to cut spending. It will be somewhat painful. But not cutting spending is going to be disastrous for our country.”

While championing spending cuts in general, some Republicans are uncomfortable with the sequester’s impact on U.S. armed forces. The state of Virginia is home to significant military installations, and its Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, spoke on CBS’ Face the Nation program.

“You have to cut, because we are in bad shape, almost $17 trillion in debt now," said McDonnell. "But do not put 50 percent of the cuts on defense, our men and women in uniform, while we are still fighting a war in Afghanistan. That is not the right way.”

Democrats counter that unless tax revenues increase, the only way to shield military spending while maintaining overall deficit reduction targets is to extract even greater cuts from domestic programs on which many Americans rely. An example of the impact of those cuts was provided by President Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, who also appeared on Face the Nation.

“The vast majority of federal money goes to help vulnerable children," said Duncan of education spending. "Whether it is children with special needs, poor children, it just means a lot more children will not get the kinds of services and opportunities they need. And as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs.”

In this latest round of fiscal brinksmanship, a stalemate has emerged. Republicans dislike the sequester, but see it as preferable to the revenue hikes proposed by Democrats. Democrats also dislike the sequester, but are even more opposed to Republican cuts-only formulations that would subject domestic programs to even greater spending reductions. Unless the stalemate is broken in the coming days, the sequester will go into effect beginning Friday.

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A.M. Costa Rica
Seventh Newspage


San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 39
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remembering

Distractions boost memory of seniors

By the Baycrest Health Sciences news staff

Scientists at the Rotman Research Institute and the University of Toronto have found compelling evidence that older adults can eliminate forgetfulness and perform as well as younger adults on memory tests.

Scientists used a distraction learning strategy to help older adults overcome age-related forgetting and boost their performance to that of younger adults. Distraction learning sounds like an oxymoron, but a growing body of science is showing that older brains are adept at processing irrelevant and relevant information in the environment, without conscious effort, to aid memory performance.

“Older brains may be be doing something very adaptive with distraction to compensate for weakening memory,” said Renée Biss, lead investigator and doctoral student. “In our study we asked whether distraction can be used to foster memory-boosting rehearsal for older adults. The answer is yes!”

“To eliminate age-related forgetfulness across three consecutive memory experiments and help older adults perform like younger adults is dramatic and to our knowledge a totally unique finding,” said Lynn Hasher, senior scientist on the study and a leading authority in attention and inhibitory functioning in younger and older adults. “Poor regulation of attention by older adults may actually have some benefits for memory.”

The findings, published online in Psychological Science, ahead of print publication, have intriguing implications for designing learning strategies for the mature, older student and equipping senior-housing with relevant visual distraction cues throughout the living environment that would serve as rehearsal opportunities to remember things like an upcoming appointment or medications to take, even if the cues aren’t consciously paid attention to.

In three experiments, healthy younger adults recruited from the University of Toronto (aged 17– 27) and healthy older adults from the community (aged 60 – 78) were asked to study and recall a list of words after a short delay and again, on a surprise test, after a 15-minute delay.

During the delay period, half of the studied words occurred again as distraction while people were doing a very simple attention task on pictures on a monitor. Although repeating words as distracters had no impact on the memory performance of young adults, it boosted older adults’ memory for those words by 30 percent relative to words that had not repeated as distraction.

“Our findings point to exciting possibilities for using strategically-placed relevant distraction as memory aids for older adults – whether it’s in classroom, at home or in a long term care environment,” said researcher Biss.

While older adults are watching television or playing a game on a tablet, boosting memory for goals (such as remembering to make a phone call or send a holiday card) could be accomplished by something as simple as running a stream of target information across the bottom of their tablet or TV.

The study was supported by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The Rotman Research Institute is associated with Baycrest Health Sciences


Facebook study boosts brain power

By the University of Arizona news service

Should grandma join Facebook? It may give her a cognitive boost, study finds.

Preliminary research findings from the University of Arizona suggest that men and women older than 65 who learn to use Facebook could see a boost in cognitive function.

Janelle Wohltmann, a graduate student in the university's Department of Psychology, set out to see whether teaching older adults to use the popular social networking site could help improve their cognitive performance and make them feel more socially connected.

Her preliminary findings, which she shared this month at the International Neuropsychological Society Annual Meeting in Hawaii, show that older adults, after learning to use Facebook, performed about 25 percent better on tasks designed to measure their ability to continuously monitor and to quickly add or delete the contents of their working memory – a function known in the psychology world as "updating."

Ms. Wohltmann, whose research is ongoing as part of her dissertation work, facilitated Facebook training for 14 older adults who had either never used the site or used it less than once a month. They were instructed to become Facebook friends only with those in their training group and were asked to post on the site at least once a day.

A second group of 14 non-Facebook using seniors instead was taught to use an online diary site, Penzu.com, in which entries are kept private, with no social sharing component. They were asked to make at least one entry a day, of no more than three to five sentences to emulate the shortness of messages that Facebook users typically post.

The study's third group of 14 was told they were on a "wait-list" for Facebook training, which they never actually completed.

Prior to learning any new technologies, study participants, who ranged in age from 68 to 91, completed a series of questionnaires and neuropsychological tests measuring social variables, such as their levels loneliness and social support, as well as their cognitive abilities. The assessments were done again at the end of the study, eight weeks later.

In the follow-ups, those who had learned to use Facebook performed about 25 percent better than they did at the start of the study on tasks designed to measure their mental updating abilities. Participants in the other groups saw no significant change in performance.

Ms. Wohltmann conducted the study with help from her research adviser Betty Glisky, professor and head of the Department of Psychology, and a team of undergraduate and graduate research assistants. It was based on existing evidence about how learning new tasks can help older adults with overall cognitive function, as well as research suggesting a possible link between social connectedness and cognitive performance.

"The idea evolved from two bodies of research," she said. "One, there is evidence to suggest that staying more cognitively engaged – learning new skills, not just becoming a couch potato when you retire but staying active – leads to better cognitive performing. It's kind of this 'use it or lose it' hypothesis."

"There's also a large body of literature showing that people who are more socially engaged, are less lonely, have more social support and are more socially integrated are also doing better cognitively in older age," she said.

In Ms. Wohltmann's research, further analysis is needed to determine whether using Facebook made participants feel less lonely or more socially connected, she said.

Likewise, further analysis is needed to determine whether, or by how much, Facebook's social aspect contributed to improvements in cognitive performance. However, Ms. Wohltmann suspects that the complex nature of the Facebook interface, compared to the online diary site, was largely responsible for Facebook users' improved performance.

"The Facebook interface is actually quite complex. The big difference between the online diary and Facebook is that when you create a diary entry, you create the entry, you save it and that's all you see, versus if you're on Facebook, several people are posting new things, so new information is constantly getting posted," she said.

"You're seeing this new information coming in, and you need to focus on the new information and get rid of the old information, or keep it in mind if you want to go back and reference it later, so you have to constantly update what's there in your attention," she said.

Participants in the study, who had an average age of 79, represent a demographic whose social media behavior has not been closely examined.

"Facebook is obviously a huge phenomenon in our culture," Ms. Wohltmann said. "There's starting to be more research coming out about how younger adults use Facebook and online social networking, but we really don't know very much at all about older adults, and they actually are quite a large growing demographic on Facebook, so I think it's really important to do the research to find out."

One in three online seniors use a social networking site like Facebook, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

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