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Your daily English-language news source Monday through Friday

Amigo Realty
(506) 2223-1327                     Published Monday, March 18, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 54                Email us
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Jo Stuart

                Rica real estate

Despite little data, scientists link storms to warming
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has received a $3 million grant to help it set up a carbon trading scheme to offset emissions of so-called greenhouse gases. So far officials say that the buying and selling of carbon credits will be voluntary.

The country also has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2021.

The reason for these projects is the belief that a warmer earth will be a more violent place with what are called extreme weather events. There also is the concern that low-lying areas of the country will be flooded.

Since the levels of the ocean have risen as much as 200 meters (about 650 feet) since the end of the last Ice Age, there is little doubt that the levels will continue to rise. The only questions are how high and when.

Extreme weather events are another story. Scientists are quick to blame storms, droughts, flooding and other natural disasters on a warmer planet. They reason that warmer air holds more water, perhaps as much as 4 percent more for every 1 degree F. increase in sea temperature, according to Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

But as every scientist knows, determining a cause is not always easy or possible. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. Missouri, sought to determine causation. "Although many people have speculated that the weather will get stormier as the climate warms, nobody has done the quantitative analysis needed to show this is indeed happening," says Jonathan Katz, professor of physics at the university.

That did not stop President Laura Chinchilla from blaming the industrialized world in 2011 for causing damaging storms. She and other Central American presidents said that the intensity of the prolonged rain suffered in Central America during October of that year constitutes a concrete manifestation of the adverse affects of climate change and the direct impact of this over the life and existence of the population of the countries.

Katz and a student analyzed 70 years of hourly precipitation data from 13 U.S. sites looking for quantitative evidence of increased storminess, said the university. They published the results in an academic paper Friday in Nature Climate Change.

They found a significant, steady increase in storminess on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, which suffers from more or less continuous drizzle, a calm climate that lets storm peaks emerge clearly, said the university in a summary.

"We didn't want to know whether the rainfall had increased or decreased," said Katz, "but rather whether it was concentrated in violent storm events."

"We found a significant steady increase in stormy activity on the Olympic Peninsula," Katz said. "We know that is real."

"We found no evidence for an increase in storminess at the other 12 sites," he said in a university release, "but because their weather is intrinsically stormier, it would be more difficult to detect a trend like that at the Olympic Peninsula even if it were occurring."
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Hurricane Luis was a major 1995 Atlantic hurricane that reached Category 4 with winds of  135 mph

He said the scope of the study would be expanded.

Such work is critical to Costa Rica as the nation again approaches the rainy season that runs to December.

Others have no doubt that warmer weather means more severe storms. The University of Illinois at  Urbana-Champaign quoted Donald Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric sciences there who gave a presentation last month.

“Human-driven climate change is, in fact, driving changes in severe weather, and that leads to a lot of potential impacts in both humans and wildlife that end up being costly in many different ways,” Wuebbles said in a university release.

As the global climate changes, normal weather patterns are altered. This is because the increasingly warmer atmosphere holds larger amounts of water vapor, which energizes storms, Wuebbles said.

“What we’ve seen in general is that the number of billion-dollar events has increased over the last three decades,” Wuebbles said. “It’s not just hurricanes, it’s really a number of different types of weather extremes that are increasing, and that’s what the worry is.”

Hurricane Sandy caused a lot of damage in the New Jersey-New York metro area in October. And many were quick to blame increasing temperatures. However, researchers have catalogued hurricanes and tropical storms in the New Jersey area since the 13th century. Still the storm had the lowest pressure ever recorded in the state.

Trenberth in Boulder gave a presentation about the same time that Ms. Chinchilla was blaming the industrialized world.

The sea surface temperatures near all the extreme flooding events of 2010 were at record levels, Trenberth said. That includes the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, North Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, he added in a university summary.

"All of the storms are being formed in an environment that is warmer and wetter than before," said Trenberth. "The main thing that has happened with climate change is that you have changed the environment."

Another way of looking at it is in terms of the odds of extreme weather events. Extreme weather is always possible, after all. But with warmer oceans, such events are easier to create, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said.

"We're loading the dice in favor of extreme weather events," said Trenberth.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 18, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 54
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Kerry says U.S. will back
arms treaty with reservations

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the United States would support an arms trade treaty being developed in the United Nations as long as it is consistent with U.S. law and the rights of American citizens under our Constitution, including the Second Amendment.

The arms treaty is a project of former Costa Rican president Óscar Arias Sánchez and Amnesty International. A group of 18 Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Arias, sent a letter to the White House last week, They asked President Barack Obama to support the treaty.

A conference starts today to attempt to reach a consensus on the treaty. Basically the treaty requires tight controls over arms exports by central governments.

The United States could only be party to an arms trade treaty that addresses international transfers of conventional arms solely and does not impose any new requirements on the U.S. domestic trade in firearms or on U.S. exporters, said Kerry in a release. "We will not support any treaty that would be inconsistent with U.S. law and the rights of American citizens under our Constitution, including the Second Amendment," he added.

The United States may be the world's largest exporter of weapons.

 Kerry's statement continues:

"While the international arms trade affects every country, over one hundred states today do not have a system for control of international conventional arms transfers. We support a treaty that will bring all countries closer to existing international best practices, which we already observe, while preserving national decisions to transfer conventional arms responsibly. The international conventional arms trade is, and will continue to be, a legitimate commercial activity. But responsible nations should have in place control systems that will help reduce the risk that a transfer of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes, including those involving terrorism, and serious human rights violations"

The poorly regulated international trade in conventional arms – worth well more than $70 billion annually – fuels conflict, violence, and serious violations of human rights, with devastating effects on health, security, and sustainable social and economic development, said the nobel laureates in their letter to Obama.

The current absence of legally binding international rules to strictly regulate the global trade in conventional arms represents a colossal failure of the international community, according to the letter.

Man, 20, linked to bus holdup
detained by judicial agents

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained Friday a 20-year-old man in Sabanilla de Montes de Oca and said he was the robber who stuck up the driver and passengers on a bus Feb. 11.

As they made the arrest, they said they confiscated a cell phone that had been taken in a robbery at a telephone store in Santa Ana.

The Feb. 11 stickup took place near the Universidad de Costa Rica in San Pedro. About 10 p.m. when a robber put a gun to the head of the driver and took what money he had and then took valuables from passengers. There were three robbers, and agents said that the man who was arrested was the one who carried the gun and pistol-whipped some of the passengers.

Agents said they were investigating the man for other crimes.

Meanwhile, agents are trying to find the men who tried to stick up an armored car in Moravia Sunday.

The five-man crew on the armored car were involved in putting money in an automatic teller when two carloads of crooks pulled up and began to order the guards to the ground. One man inside the armored vehicle began a fire fight and suffered a bullet wound to the arm.  The would-be robbers left without money, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Prosecutors going back
to school for oral training

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's judiciary is continuing the process to oral hearings. So the top officials are tying to create a few Perry Masons.

Mason, of course, is the radio and television defense lawyer created by Erle Stanley Gardner.  When played by Raymond Burr on television he demonstrated all the qualities that define the Anglo-Saxon practitioner of justice.

Now Costa Rica is conducting training so that prosecutors have the same qualities, including clarity, precision and coherency. In other words, they have to think on their feet.

The prosecutors also are supposed to speak correct Spanish and avoid slangy words and phrases.

The judicial also is conducting training in grammar for prosecutors.

There is another course that addresses editing as it related to criminal texts. Judicial officials also are trying to eliminate non-standard words and phrases in written orders and appeals. Plus they are emphasizing those aspects of Spanish grammar, such as the tilde and when and where to use capital letters. All are important in legal papers and appeals.

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
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

Costa Rican news summaries are disabled
on archived pages.

Have you seen these stories?
From A.M. Costa Rica

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Wildlife treaty members agree to protect shark and other fish
By the Wildlife Conservation Society news staff

An international wildlife treaty plenary has accepted committee recommendations to list five species of highly traded sharks along with those for the listing of both manta rays and one species of sawfish.

Japan, backed by Gambia and India, unsuccessfully challenged the committee decision to list the oceanic whitetip shark, while Grenada and China failed in an attempt to reopen debate on listing three hammerhead species.

Colombia, Senegal, Mexico and others took the floor to defend the committee decisions to list sharks.

Listing in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora provides certain protection to the species and instructs government to keep a watchful eye on fishing practices.

“We are thrilled with this result and the groundswell of government commitment that made it happen,” said Amie Brautigam, marine policy advisor for Wildlife Conservation Society. “These hard-fought decisions to secure CITES regulations on international trade in sharks and rays are based on a solid foundation built over two decades, and surmount the long-standing opposition to listing shark species that are taken at a commercial scale.”
The oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle, three species of hammerheads, and both manta rays – all classified as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List -- will now be added to the treaty's Appendix II, which mandates permits to ensure exports are sustainable and legal. The only sharks listed under the treaty previous to this meeting – basking, whale, and white sharks – are not taken in the high volumes associated with the newly listed sharks. The freshwater sawfish will be transferred from Appendix II to I, where all other sawfishes are listed, thereby completing a global ban on international commercial trade in these critically endangered species.

Proponents of the various listing proposals include the 27 member states of the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States. The shark and ray proposals received more than the two-thirds majority of votes necessary for adoption while the sawfish listing succeeded by consensus.

“With relief that the committee decisions were not overturned, we now turn our focus to the essential phase of their implementation,” said Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International. “We urge all parties to recognize the urgency of the shark and ray plight and to begin this work to ensure the sustainability of international trade in newly listed species, as a matter of priority.”

Two expats accused of adding a little zest to the baking mix
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some shoppers had a high time at the weekend agricultural fair in Quepos. But not everyone appreciated it.

Fuerza Pública officers said they received tips from residents that there was something extra in that brownie recipe. A U.S. citizen and a Canadian were selling the baked goods at the feria. The recipe was right out of the Alice B. Toklas cookbook.

Police detained both men and identified the Canadian by the last name of Reid. They said he was 56. The U.S. citizen was identified by the last name of  Francis. He was reported to be 63.

Officers said that they detected a strong odor of an illegal weed in some of the brownies. But they needed experts. Experts on drugs, that is, and not culinary expertise. So the
A.M. Costa Rica graphic 
Two different types of brownies. Eat one, see the other.

Policía de Control de Drogas became involved. Officers reported that 18 of 37 brownies contained marijuana.
Both men were freed after questioning by prosecutors.

All construction plans now have to be submitted by Internet
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Starting today, officials involved in the construction approval process will only accept plans over the Internet.

The Ministerio  de Economía, Industria y Comercio emphasized this in a statement Friday.

The agencies involved in the approval process include the Ministerio de Salud, the Cuerpo de Bomberos, the Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos and the Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo.

The digital process of plans is a fundamental tool to improve the competitiveness in the construction sector," said  José Guillermo Marín, president of the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos. "Many investors prefer to build in other countries because their processes are more efficient,

but now Costa Rica has a modern system that allows us to compete is this field."

The officials speculated that with residential construction plans there could be a decision in just seven days. Commercial projects might take up to 15 days, they said.

In the past, plans on paper had to be brought to each office and the bearer had to stand in line.

Now the submission Web site is active 24 hours a day, said the ministry of economy. It is

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 18, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 54
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Illegal alcohol
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Police officers unload some of the confiscated alcohol.

Police checkpoint in Parrita
triggers chase and arrest

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A police checkpoint at Pueblo Nuevo de Parrita netted officers a load of alcohol.

Fuerza Pública officers gave chase when one vehicle made a U turn in sight of the checkpoint. When they caught up with the vehicle they said they confiscated 20 cases of various brands of alcohol.

The case was turned over to the tax police who prosecute smuggling.

Practice gambling games
appear to be successful hook

By the University of Adelaide news staff

New research from the University of Adelaide has studied the behavior of young people lured into Internet gambling through so-called free-play or practice modes.

The study, by University of Adelaide Psychology student Tahnee Frahn, looked at the behavior of 128 young people, most aged 18-24, who were playing on a simulated internet gaming site.

Ms. Frahn says concerns have been raised about dubious strategies used by Internet gambling to entice and retain players.

"Previous research has demonstrated that free-play or practice modes on some Internet gaming sites provide unrealistically high returns to the players, who are encouraged with pop-up messages and emails to keep playing. However, those high returns are not continued when playing for actual money," Ms. Frahn says.

Ms. Frahn's study looked at the psychological effect of inflated returns and pop-up messages during practice modes on subsequent gambling behaviors, such as risk-taking and persistence.

Those who took part in the study were offered a free-play mode on a simulated Internet gaming site, a video poker machine, followed by a real-play mode in which they could gamble for real money.

"Two of the three groups - those who received a high return in free-play mode, and those who received this high return as well as pop-up encouragements - both bet significantly more credits per spin in the real-play mode than our control group.

"This suggests greater risk-taking and a belief that the high returns in practice mode would continue during the real gambling phase," Ms. Frahn says.

"It seems that the practice modes on internet gaming sites provide the illusion that practice makes perfect, but in fact, no amount of practice can make you better at chance games like poker machines. Their sole purpose is to create profits, to take the players' money."

Ms. Frahn says Internet gambling has rapidly expanded in recent years, from just 30 sites in 1994 to more than 2,200 sites in 2009. "In general, research in this area has not kept up," Ms. Frahn says.

"This is a growing issue for our society and one that requires further attention, especially when you consider the issue of Internet gambling addiction.

"While it's always difficult to simulate the risk and excitement of a real-world gambling experience in a controlled setting, these results help us to better understand how people respond to an internet gambling situation," she says.

Man held after chase
sparked by suspicions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A dramatic police chase along the northern border of the country resulted in the arrest of a man suspected of being  involved with illegal aliens. Police originally thought they were dealing with a vehicle transporting drugs.

A driver appeared to have had four citizens of Nepal in a car before he made them get out when police approached. That is when police began a chase that included some off-road travel.

Eventually and just short of Nicaragua  they caught up with a suspect, who was detained.

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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  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 18, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 54
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General confirms that U.S.
has offensive cyber teams

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Department of Defense has made a rare acknowledgement that it is developing offensive cyber capabilities.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, said 13 cyber warfare teams would be ready by 2015.

According to a prepared statement, the teams would be analogous to battalions in the Army and Marine Corps—or squadrons in the Navy and Air Force. Furthermore, “they will soon be capable of operating on their own, with a range of operational and intelligence skill sets, as well as a mix of military and civilian personnel.”

"Let me be clear, this defend-the-nation team is not a defensive team. This is an offensive team that the Department of Defense would use to defend the nation if it were attacked in cyberspace," he said during the testimony.

Citing destructive cyber attacks on the Saudi Aramco oil company last summer, during which 30,000 company computers were damaged, Alexander said experts believe the threat of attack will grow, and “there’s a lot that we need to do to prepare for this.”

There have already been reports of alleged U.S. offensive capability in the cyber domain. It is widely believed the U.S. and Israel were behind the so-called Stuxnet worm that damaged key components of Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010.

The U.S. also was accused of hacking into the Elysée Palace computers in May of last year just before François Hollande succeeded Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France. The U.S. denied the charges.

In 2011, the White House issued a document titled the “International Strategy for Cyberspace,” which said, “when warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country.”

Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian, had some questions about the revelation about offensive capabilities.

“I did not understand why so many teams need to be created to give an attack capability, and why this capability did not exist before now,” he wrote in an e-mail.

“What the General also did not say is that this would be, according to the lawyers, an act of war requiring presidential approval and congressional notification,” Aid said. “What form of cyber attack on one or more critical U.S. systems from abroad would cross this imaginary retaliatory threshold? This is all Brave New World territory. Nothing like this has ever happened, so there are no precedents or standard operating procedures in place to guide us.”

Christopher Burgess, principal analyst at Prevendra LLC, and co-author of "Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost, Preventing Economic Espionage and Intellectual Property Theft in the 21st Century," also had questions.

"What is key, will be how they engage, be it covert or overt, and how the U.S. will signal, diplomatically, where the red lines are for countries who also have an offensive cyber capability,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Then we see if the U.S. has a backbone of steel or the equivalent of a Gummi-worm?"

New Chinese premier says
China is target not crook

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

New Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has rejected U.S. accusations of hacking and says the two countries should not make groundless accusations against each other and should work together to contribute to cyber security.

Speaking to reporters after the close of the National People's Congress Sunday, Li said China itself is a major target of computer hacking and does not support such activities.

New U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is heading to China this week for economic talks that are expected to include cyber-attacks on U.S. companies.

Last month, U.S. Internet security group Mandiant accused the Chinese military of stealing large amounts of data from about 150 U.S. companies and organizations.

Several large U.S. technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, were hacked earlier this year. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post newspapers also say they were attacked by China-based hackers.

GOP sends mixed messages
on possible budget compromise

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Republican lawmakers are sending mixed messages about their willingness to compromise with President Barack Obama on the components of a deal to reduce America’s long-term federal deficit.  Efforts to forge a so-called grand bargain that would improve the nation’s fiscal outlook have been stymied by hardened partisanship in the politically-divided Congress.
For years, Republicans have steadfastly opposed tax hikes in the quest for deficit reduction.  Republicans were unable to prevent taxes from going up automatically on top earners at the beginning of the year.  But since then, Republican lawmakers have dismissed President Obama’s calls for a mix of spending cuts and additional tax revenues to shrink the deficit.
House Speaker John Boehner repeated his no-tax stance on ABC’s This Week television program Sunday.
“The president got his tax hikes on January 1.  The talk about raising revenue is over.  It is time to deal with the spending problem," he said.
But another Republican lawmaker said his party might be willing to consider some form of enhanced federal revenues if Democrats agreed to cost-saving reforms to programs that provide income and health care to retirees. 
Sen. Bob Corker, who spoke on Fox News Sunday, said “I think Republicans, if they saw true entitlement reform, would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenues.  And that does not mean increasing rates.  That means closing loopholes.  It also means arranging our tax system so we have economic growth."
Corker is only one Republican, but his statement was welcomed by Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, who also appeared on Fox News Sunday.
“I think Bob just gave an honest and constructive answer.  And I want to thank Bob for saying that.  I think what Bob Corker just said from his side is a basic set of principles that both sides can rally around," Durbin said.
In three trips to Capitol Hill last week, President Obama urged Republican lawmakers to end their opposition to new tax revenue, while also telling Democrats that entitlement reform is unavoidable. 
Durbin agrees, saying “In 10-12 years, Medicare goes broke.  That is unacceptable.  We want to make sure that Medicare is there for generations to come.  And that means making some reforms and some constructive changes.”
This week, Congress will work on funding the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year.  Talks on a long-term budget pact will likely continue for months to come.
This year’s budget deficit is projected at $900 billion.  America’s national debt exceeds $16 trillion.

JPMorgan Chase executives
grilled by U.S. Senate panel

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new U.S. Senate report is sharply condemning the country's biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase, for its risky trading practices and lack of controls that resulted in a $6 billion trading loss last year.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the chairman of the Senate panel investigating the bank's actions, summarized the findings of the 300-page report at a hearing Friday. The bank lost the money in its London office while making trades on securities known as derivatives, financial instruments that get their value from other assets.
"It exposes a derivative trading culture at JPMorgan that piled on risk, that hid losses, that disregarded risk limits, that manipulated risk models, that dodged oversight, and that misinformed the public," Levin said.
The legislator also said the scope of the bank's deceptions in hiding losses on the complex trades would make it difficult for Americans to have confidence in big banks.
"It is difficult to imagine how the American people can trust major Wall Street banks to prudently manage derivatives' risks when bank personnel can readily game or ignore the risk controls that are meant to prevent financial disaster in taxpayer bailouts," he said.
The Senate panel questioned key JPMorgan executives, including Ina Drew, the official who had overseen the trading office where the loss occurred. Drew worked at JPMorgan for 30 years but quit last year after the loss was disclosed. She told the lawmakers that her subordinates had misled her.
"Some members of the London team failed to value positions properly and in good faith and minimized purported and projected losses, and hid from me important information regarding the true risk of the book," she said.
JPMorgan's highly acclaimed chief executive, Jamie Dimon, at first called reports of the trading losses a tempest in a teapot.
But several officials were ousted in the aftermath of the $6 billion loss, and the company on Thursday said it has repeatedly acknowledged mistakes. The bank said its senior management acted in good faith and never had any intent to mislead anyone.

Flame retarding chemicals
found in trees all over world

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The chemicals used to retard fire in consumer products such as furniture and clothing can become toxic pollutants when they wind up in the environment. And they are in the environment all over the world in the water, the soil, the plants, and the air. Tracking the spread of these chemicals has been a major challenge, but it just got easier.

On the campus of Indiana University, Amina Salamova studies polybrominated diphenyl ethers and other chemical environmental pollutants. The ethers are widely used as flame retardants… but have been associated with adverse effects on human health.

“They can have an effect on neurological development, on reproductive system, and they can effect your thyroid endocrine system,” said Salamova.

Concerns about those effects have prompted regulatory agencies and some manufacturers to phase out the use of many flame retardant chemicals. But these ethers can persist for years in the environment, and scientists do not know precisely where or how they spread.

That’s why Ms. Salamova and her co-researcher Ronald Hites developed a new technique to measure the presence and concentration of flame retardant chemicals in the air, by sampling the bark of trees. 

“The tree’s ideal because it’s sitting there passively soaking up these compounds out of the atmosphere,” said Hites.

A tree’s bark provides a large surface area that takes in chemicals as both vapor and particles. Also, because a layer of bark remains on the tree for five years or so before being shed, it provides a unique record of the environment over time.

Ms. Salamova said the tree-bark approach has many advantages over the current, more complex sampling method, which involves pumping air through expensive equipment, and requires plenty of manpower, and electricity.

“So what I see in future for tree bark is the ability to use this method in developing countries which don’t have a lot of funding for elaborate atmospheric studies. Also we can use this method in remote sites where there is no power,” said Ms. Salamova.

With the help of the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling network, an international monitoring initiative, Ms. Salamova and Hites received bark samples from 12 locations around the world, including Norway, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Nepal, Indonesia, the United States and Canada. 

“So this way, you collect about 50 grams of bark, you can collect it from either side of the tree,” said Ms. Salamova.

Researchers use a chisel and hammer to tap out a few pieces of bark, wrap them in foil and ship them back to Indiana University for chemical analysis.

Studying those samples in the lab, the researchers found evidence of flame retardants in the atmosphere at all 12 locations. Hites was not surprised to find the highest concentrations at urban sites in Ontario, Canada, and around the U.S. Great Lakes.

What was unexpected was the high level of chemicals in some very remote rural regions of Indonesia and Tasmania.

“There’s hardly anybody there. It’s really out of the winds of possible industrial sources. But still these compounds are present there at reasonably high levels, they’re slightly below average, but again measurable levels in the tree bark from Tasmania,”  said Hites.

The researchers’ findings, detailed in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, show that these compounds are migrating surprisingly long distances. Ms. Salamova says they hope to continue collecting samples to build a global database so scientists and regulatory agencies can understand the pervasiveness of chemical retardants and find ways to remove them from the environment.

European officials defend
controversial austerity plans

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Eurozone officials meeting in Brussels say international lenders struck a deal early Saturday to give Cyprus a bailout of about $13 billion to avoid bankruptcy.

Friday, European leaders agreed that tough measures to turn around the European region's economy are working, even amid rising protests against austerity.

Speaking to reporters in the Belgian capital, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy outlined a four-pronged strategy that the 27-member block will implement in the year ahead to turn around its struggling economy. Among other areas, it focuses on financial stability, growth and youth employment.

"On the question of where does this growth come from, the answer was confidence, credit and competitiveness. On top of this, there is a need for a specific employment policy making our growth more labor intensive," said Van Rompuy.

The emphasis on growth, as well as spending cuts, comes amid mounting popular protests against austerity measures in Europe, protests that reached the heart of the EU on Friday as thousands of people demonstrated outside the Brussels building where European leaders wrapped up their summit.

In another sign of discontent this week, the European Parliament rejected the EU's budget, calling for more growth measures to be included.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he understood public frustration.

"We are in a painful process of adjustment, of deleveraging, because of excessive public debt accumulated over the years," said Barroso. "Because of excessive private debt, including by the way, some financial bubbles, real estate bubbles, a lot of imbalances in our economy, and also because of some behavior that was quite irresponsible in some areas of the financial sector."

To alleviate the pain, Barroso said it is important to mix in short-term social measures, what he describes as "quick wins,"  to boost growth. That includes creating jobs, particularly among young people, whose unemployment rate reaches as high as 50 percent in some places.

EU members like France also are calling for more flexibility in budget deficit targets they are likely to miss this year. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended austerity measures, saying that spending cuts and growth worked together and not in contradiction.

The financial problems of the island nation of Cyprus continued to shadow this EU summit, with the plight of Cyprus's banks a major challenge.

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Nicoya views
Property with ocean and gulf view for sale
Tranquil million dollar view, 5,000-sq.meter property with 3/2 home built to American standards, artistically designed and decorated, 16-foot ceilings of mango and tamarindo, appliances, plunge pool, rancho, caretaker apartment, workshop, covered parking, views of Gulf of Nicoya and ocean, in countryside near San José to Caldera highway. Near the lovely town of Esparza. Can provide extra income from bed and breakfast room rental and stellar Tripadvisor reviews. $180,000 506-8869-9274.

View from Orosi home

Majestically situated overlooking the Orosi Valley and the tropical rain forest, this 2-bedroom, 2½-bath home with a separate office is offered at $550,000.  From the extensive use of glass windows visitors are easily captivated by the unbelievably 7 acres of pure, natural Costa Rican landscape.   The property is located 15 minutes from the Cartago metropolitan area, an hour from San José, 1¼ hours to the Juan Santamaria International Airport, 2 hours to the beaches of the Pacific West Coast, or 3 ½  hours to the beaches of the southern Caribbean coast.
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You can purchase property in Costa Rica legally without paying Land Transfer Tax; this plus the usual real estate commission of 5% will reduce your purchase price by approximately 11%. Save over $50,000.00 on the purchase of this $465,000.00 property. Large 5000+ sq.ft. House. Ideal for business executive, B & B or large family. E-mail for photos and more information to

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  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

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
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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.

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Gated community near the beach
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Rich Coast Montage
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
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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:
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Luxurious new beach home for sale
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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
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- Community homes have been featured in Su Casa Architectural Magazine
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Brokers Welcome
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
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Retirement/vacation/hobby farm lots for sale
Libertad, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, 15 minutes to Playa del Coco or Playa Hermosa,
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 Prices listed have been reduced from those shown on the Web site.  For all general inquiries please contact Jim Day at or 001 517 484-3675.

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Business for sale or lease (paid category)7115-12/16/11

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Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 18, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 54
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute

Development bank reports
that region can grow faster

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

World growth is likely to be suppressed below potential for several years to come, but Latin America and the Caribbean can escape this global outlook and boost growth significantly by adopting appropriate structural reforms, according to the Inter-American Development Bank’s annual macroeconomic report, released during the banks annual meeting.

The report, “Rethinking Reforms,” argues that if countries across the region embrace reforms that are tailor-made to their particular institutions and situation, regional spillovers will give an additional considerable boost to growth.

“We are expecting moderate growth in the region for several years and even if there is room for counter-cyclical fiscal policy, countries should refrain as fiscal space has also diminished,” said Santiago Levy, vice president for sectors and knowledge for the bank. “It’s crucial for countries to consider more structural measures to boost growth.”

The report notes that the region is likely to grow just 3.9 percent annually over the next five years, nearly 1 percentage point lower than the 4.8 percent registered before the Great Recession which began in 2008. Slower growth in world trade and a decline in commodity prices are expected to dampen consumption and investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report notes that currencies in the region have appreciated, potentially affecting exports and growth. Appreciations have likely been fueled by a combination of factors, including high commodity prices, strong capital inflows given attractive investment opportunities, as well as the expansionary monetary policies and policies of central banks in advanced economies.

The report argues that the time has come to reignite the region’s reform agenda. “Latin America and the Caribbean have the economic resources to grow much faster, but there is a need to allocate those resources more effectively,” says Andrew Powell, the principal advisor in the bank's research department and coordinator of the report. If the region could increase the efficiency of how it deploys its resources to the efficiency of the U.S. over 10 years, then productivity would be 20 percent higher and growth would be increased by at least a full 1 percent per year over that decade for the typical country.

There are many areas in which countries may wish to focus reform efforts, depending on their particular needs. Recent Bank publications have included recommendations on education and tax reform. The 2013 Latin American and Caribbean Macroeconomic report calls for a full country-by-country diagnostic on the best ways to enhance efficiency. The report focuses on two key areas of reform that hold considerable potential to impact productivity and growth: labor market reform, and investment in infrastructure.


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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details