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(506) 2223-1327           Published Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 165          Email us
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Seasoned investors plan upscale seniors complex
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In what is being described as still a concept, a seniors' community of perhaps 500 living units is planned west of Escazú.

Developer José Luis Salinas, architect and president of Grupo Inmobilario del Parque, estimates that the concept may become a reality in about a year.

Salinas runs the company that built condo towers in Sabana Sur and now is building similar projects on Paseo Colón and near the Hotel San José Palacio. He also is the designer of the Avalon complexes in Santa Ana and many others in Costa Rica. His partner in the project will be famed New York architect Ismael Leyva and other local professionals.

A new addition to this project is San Francisco multi-millionaire and investor Maurice Kanbar. He was in San José over the weekend and said in an interview that he was impressed by the weather and sees great promise for a well-managed senior living complex here. He also visited Hospital CIMA and said he was impressed by the quality of the care and the level of English spoken by the staff.

The primary market for such a complex will be non-Spanish speaking North Americans near or at retirement age. This would be the first such complex in Costa Rica devoted exclusively to seniors, although many retirees make up the expat population.

Part of the concept is similar to the Del Web retirement communities, the Villages in Florida, and Montereau in Warren Woods at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Those involved in the project note that the sister-in-law of Sam Walton of Walmart lives in Montereau along with many other important residents. All these projects provide social services inside the complex which is far different than ordinary condos, they said.

Kanbar, a life-long inventor, created SKYY vodka, a top of the line alcoholic product said to reduce hangovers, and sold it for $320 million, according to court records.

The arrival of the U.S. inventor sent ripples through the country's real estate and investment community. La Republica headlined him as an arriving U.S. genius. He is highly respected and a self-described conservative investor, who has donated tens of millions to charity. His interest in the project at this point insures completion, although he cautions that management is everything.

Although expats in the complex would have the option of staying there with all the amenities,
Maurice Kanbar
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Inventor Maurice Kanbar says he seldom has been without a camera since he was 14.

both Kanbar and Salinas see the need for a way to integrate the residents into the greater Costa Rican community, even if that just means a trip to the Teatro Nacional. Salinas noted that the Paseo Colón project will have two vehicles to provide transport for residents, and the same would be planned for the new project, which will be on 14 hectares east of Ciudad Colón. That's about 34.5 acres, but the developers see this as just a first step.  The landowner is said to be participating.

Kanbar himself does not speak Spanish, but is far from a Latin novice. The Brooklyn native's cousin built a life and a major business in Panamå, and Kanbar has been to Costa Rica in the past.

He has an impressive record as an investor and hard-headed businessman. He began in his teens selling children's photos to neighborhood parents and stubbornly mixed a salaried job with sabbaticals during which he created a company to produce fibers, the Spandex Corp., taking part of the market from E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.  He authored the 2002 book “Secrets from an Inventor's Notebook,” which was on The New York Times best seller list, and holds some 40 U.S. patents.

Kanbar is known for buying much of downtown Tulsa and for being the producer of the little Red Riding Hood animated update “Hoodwinked” and long time major distributor of foreign films in the U. S. especially through his Quad Theatres in New York.

Kanbar came to know Salinas through Angela Jiménez Rocha of, who studied architecture with Salinas.

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Our readers' opinions
Doctors take big slice
of the Caja budgets

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

About a month or so ago news reports said that some doctors at the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social facilities are paid as much as $36,000 a month. What? That's disgusting! No wonder the Caja needs a bail-out.

The doctors are simply extorting money, obviously using the threat of quitting as leverage. I tried doctors' visits, etc., at a Caja clinic only because I was coerced into contributing premiums as a condition of my residency. I rate the care, etc., as terrible. How about the generic medication I got from their pharmacy? It didn't work and I went back to paying for the real stuff.

Health care? What a joke. I choose to pay CIMA for real health care, thank you. Simply stated, if the Caja doctors were not extorting exorbitant amounts of money, staffs could be larger, appointments easier to obtain, facilities and medical equipment could be up-graded and added to, and medications could be top quality. The Caja is forced to buy cheap equipment, lousy medication, etc. just because there is little money left after the greedy doctors take their cut.

Barry Schwartz    

He found fat humor piece
objectionable, insensitive

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

OK.  I've lived and worked as a warmly welcomed guest in Costa Rica for over five years.  I love its people, culture, and look upon it all with a child-like bewilderment and resounding optimism.

Then I make the mistake of giving your blog another shot in hopes that you've not made incendiary and insensitive comments meant to insult the people and country you "report" on.  It is to this irresponsible joke which I refer in today's article "This just in: It's OK to be fat, Canadian university study says" where an unnamed author (convenient) quipped  "Some 18-year-old thin-as-a-rail Ticas are ready
to try out as a sumo wrestler by the time they are 35 and after four kids." 

Really?  Come on.  Think about it.  What 12-year-old wrote
this drivel?

Feel free to publish my letter and name, as I (unlike this blogger hiding behind your staff) am not afraid to attach my name to my comments.  By the way, I am Canadian, 36, and bald.  Perhaps there's a joke in there too.

Last-time reader,
Corey Coates
Piedades de Santa Ana

EDITOR'S NOTE: The presumed humor piece was written by Jay Brodell, the 68-year-old, fat editor who has all his hair. And this is a newspaper.

New reason to curb gas

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

There is new support for a new reason to curb greenhouse gases as suggested by a NASA-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University published in the In this article Shawn Domagal-Goldman of NASA's Planetary Science Division and his colleagues compiled a list of plausible outcomes that could unfold and this is one of them.

Those who are interested in keeping abreast of new developments on this can read the article here.

Dennis Jay

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
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 165

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President Chinchilla is on a two-day state visit to México
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla, her staff and members of the Poder Judicial left for México City Sunday for two days of meetings on commercial and criminal matters.

Among other acts, the president will witness Costa Rican and Mexican officials sign an extradition treaty and an agreement to exchange information on organized crime and drug trafficking.

With the president are Carlos Roverssi Rojas, acting minister of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto; Mario Zamora Cordero, minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública; Mayi Antillón Guerrero, minister of Economía, Industria y Comercio; Anabel González Campabadal, minister of Comercio Exterior; Gabriela Jiménez Cruz, ambassador of Costa Rica in México, and supporting staff members.

Among the highlights of the trip Monday will be the president placing a floral offering at the memorial to México's Niños Heroes, six teen military cadets who died unsuccessfully defending Chapultepec Castle against invading U.S. forces in 1847.
Ms. Chinchilla also will be honored with a medal and keys to the Federal District Tuesday.

The delegation also includes Jorge Chavarría Guzmán, the country's fiscal general or chief prosecutor; Francisco Segura, deputy director of the Judicial Investigating Organization, and Walter Espinoza Espinoza, who is now a prosecutor in the organized crime section of the Ministerio Público. The presidential delegation is traveling by commercial airliner.

Ms. Chinchilla will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderón today for a private discussion and then a formal state lunch. Calderón declared war on the drug cartels when he took office and then sent the military in to trouble spots. There have been 40,000 murders as a result of cartel activity since he took office.

Costa Rica has become aware of the infiltration of Mexican drug cartels into the country with the discovery of storage areas and shipment activities of smugglers. Some killings in Costa Rica have been attributed to turf wars among cartels.
This is in addition to the presence of members of Colombian and Jamaican drug organizations.

Investigators finding connections among Osa crimes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators are coming to the conclusion that a number of serious crimes on the Osa peninsula are related. That is in contrast to the original theories that a string of murders were motivated by unrelated events.

There also appears to be a relationship between recent home invasions and suspects in the murder of Lisa Artz, the resident manager of Casa Tres Palmas on the east shore of the Osa peninsula who was found dead July 20.

There are four suspects. The Juzgado Penal de Golfito ordered three of them held for six months investigation. They were identified by the last names of González Granados and Chaves Barquero, both men, and a woman with the last names of Sánchez Núñez. The fourth suspect has not been identified fully.

Informal reports say that evidence from the murder of Kimberley Ann Blackwell, who was found murdered Feb. 2, have surfaced in the homes of some of the Artz suspects. Other reports say that one of the suspects in the Artz murder has been involved with trying to sell items taken in a home invasion in June. Investigators have been
tight-lipped on the investigation, and the bulk of the information comes form the Judicial Investigating Organization central offices in San José.

The crimes center on Puerto Jiménez on the Osa peninsula not far from Parque Nacional Corcovado. The usually quiet area has seen more than its share of killings in the last six months. There also was the 2009 case of two Austrian residents, Horst Hauser, 68, and Herbert Langmeier, 66. They vanished, although agents believe they have now recovered some remains.

Ms. Artz was killed in Matapalo, some 12 miles south of Puerto Jiménez. Ms. Blackwell lived in a rural area near the national park.

The multiple crimes caused a wave of fear in the area, and at least one resident moved to the Central Valley after being a home invasion victim.

In the Artz case, when agents conducted a raid to detain two of the individuals, they found a computer and other items that will be used as evidence. These include power cords from appliances that had been in the possession of the victim, agents said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 165

Study says certain gas emissions appear to be reported wrong
By the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science
and Technology news service

There seems to be another oops in greenhouse gas calculations.

Fluorinated hydrocarbons are potent greenhouse gases, emission of which must be reduced under the Kyoto Protocol. If scientists rely on the official reports of the participating countries, the output of trifluoromethane, called HFC-23, in Western Europe is significantly decreasing. However, pollutant measurements carried out by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology now reveal that several countries underreport their emissions. For instance, Italy emits 10 to 20 times more HFC-23 than it officially reports.

International agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases basically have one snag: it is almost impossible to independently verify whether participating countries abide by the agreement. Thus the evaluation of whether or not the countries have achieved their reduction targets is based on the official reports by the countries that are signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. If they report reduced emissions they're sitting pretty. If not, they are pilloried.

This could change soon. Pollutant analyses by the Swiss Federal Laboratories at the Jungfraujoch research station, among others – using a special gas chromatograph mass spectrometer — not only enables the emission levels of more than 50 halogenated greenhouse gases to be quickly and precisely evaluated. They also make it possible to identify the emission sources regionally, thanks to atmospheric and meteorological computer models. The sobering result: Western Europe emits around twice as much HFC-23 as officially reported. A corresponding study was recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The research is at 3,580 meters above sea level.

“Our results show that these types of measurements really are suitable for checking compliance with international agreements on air pollution control,” said researcher Stefan Reimann It is true that the Kyoto Protocol did not specify any independent control mechanisms. This could, however, be of central importance in subsequent agreements with binding emission targets.

The suspicion that some countries have not been overly precise in reporting their emissions has been around for some time. Projections from measurements of the worldwide Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment showed significantly higher readings than officially reported. Reimann: “It was assumed that, above all, China and some developing countries did not correctly report their emissions levels,” said Reimann.

For example emissions of HFC-23, with an atmospheric half
research station
Jungfrau Mountain Railways photo
Jungfraujoch research station 3,580 meters above sea level

life of approximately 270 years an extremely long-lived gas and with a global warming potential 15,000 times greater than carbon dioxide. HFC-23 is produced as a by-product in the manufacture of chlorodifluoromethane, which is used as a cooling and foaming agent and in Teflon production. The advantage of HFC-23 is that it is almost exclusively emitted by such manufacturers. And there were just six of them in Western Europe in 2008.

In order to estimate the HFC-23 amounts in the atmosphere over Western Europe as precisely as possible, Reimann and his doctoral student, Christoph Keller, analyzed the HFC-23 emissions from July 2008 to July 2010 at both Jungfraujoch and Mace Head, a station on the west coast of Ireland. Time and again they found mysterious peaks, which far exceeded the average. Using atmospheric transport models, the researchers were able to calculate where the polluted air masses originated that transported HFC-23 to Jungfraujoch – first and foremost from Italy's sole chlorodifluoromethane factory west of Milan.

Italy did not report any appreciable HFC-23 emissions since 1996. An isolated case? Reimann and his team wanted to dig deeper. They evaluated HFC-23 figures for 2008 to 2010 throughout Western Europe and pinpointed the source regions. The emission figures approximately doubled those that had been reported — whereby countries significantly differed in their reporting accuracy. Alongside the front runner Italy, also the Netherlands and Great Britain underestimated their HFC-23 emissions. France and Germany’s figures, in contrast, lay within the reported values. And the computer model was able to identify all six HCFC-22 factories with great accuracy.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 165

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Standard & Poor's gives
Venezuela lower rating

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The rating agency Standard & Poor's has downgraded Venezuela's credit rating, citing the country's political risk as a key weakness.

S&P lowered the country's sovereign currency rating one notch Friday from BB¯ to B+ with a stable outlook.

In a statement, S&P said "changing and arbitrary laws, price and exchange controls, and other distorting and unpredictable economic measures have undermined private-sector investment and hurt productivity," and have weakened Venezuela's economy.

The agency also said uncertainty about the health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has added to the country's economic risks.

Chavez has undergone two rounds of chemotherapy in Cuba to treat a cancerous tumor.  In June, Cuban doctors performed surgery on him to remove a tumor.  The 57-year-old president has vowed to recover and insists he will seek another six-year term in 2012.

U.S. will treat lightly
some low priority illegals

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Obama administration says it will review the cases of more than 300,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation to determine if they can stay in the United States.

In a letter to a group of lawmakers, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says officials will review each case to identify low priority offenders, including those who have been in the U.S. for a lengthy period, to allow the agency to focus more on deporting convicted criminals and others who pose a threat to public safety.

The new policy was welcomed by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who has sponsored legislation that would provide an eventual path to U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants who arrived in the country as children. 

But Republican lawmakers say the administration is circumventing Congress, and that the policy amounts to granting blanket forgiveness, or amnesty, for illegal immigrants. 

President Barack Obama's administration has come under fire from immigration advocates for deporting millions of illegal immigrants since taking office in 2009, and for not pushing Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

Pope instructs youngsters
to spread faith at home

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Benedict held the final Mass of his four-day visit to Spain Sunday, urging some 1.5 million young people at the Roman Catholic Church's youth festival to become active in their church and avoid trying to find faith on their own.

Benedict told pilgrims from 193 nations to spread their faith even if they are met with rejection or indifference.

The open-air Mass, conducted in Spanish, was attended by Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

After his remarks, the pope designated Rio De Janeiro in Brazil as the next site of the World Youth Day festival in 2013.

Benedict held a prayer vigil Saturday evening at the Cuatro Vientos airport near Madrid, but a huge thunderstorm forced the pontiff to cut short his speech. He thanked the gatherers for their joy and endurance, adding that their strength was greater than the rain.

Earlier in the day, firefighters had sprayed the crowds with water from hoses in a bid to stave off the near 40-degree C. heat. 

This was the pontiff's third World Youth Day — a gathering of young Catholics from around the world.  The first such event was launched a quarter century ago by Pope John Paul II in a bid to reinvigorate and spread the faith among the young.

Tropical Storm Irene
takes aim at Puerto Rico

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has issued a hurricane warning, as Tropical Storm Irene approaches from the east, already dumping heavy rain on the Leeward Islands.

A hurricane watch has been declared for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Forecasters say Irene, with sustained winds of up to 85 kilometers per hour, could become a hurricane by early today. Earlier, the storm was 375 kilometers east of Ponce, Puerto Rico, moving at 32 kilometers an hour. 

The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with earthquake-ravaged Haiti, issued a hurricane warning for its southern coast. Haiti's tropical storm watch has been upgraded to a warning.

A watch means a storm is possible, while a warning indicates a storm is definitely expected.

Irene is the ninth named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season.

Separately, Tropical Storm Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical depression after pounding Guatemala and eastern Mexico with heavy rain, prompting concerns about mudslides in the mountainous areas.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 165

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Latin America news
burglary loot one
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Recovered items resembled a computer store

Agents try to find the home
for Guanacaste burglary loot

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police are trying to find the owners of a number of items believed stolen by a house burglar in Guanacaste.

The loot comes from an estimated 100 break-ins, mainly in Liberia, Cañas, Nicoya and Santa Cruz.  The man was detained last week at his home in Guayabo de Bagaces after agents said they followed him to witness a break-in.

Those who have suffered a burglary can view the items at the Judicial Investigating Organization offices in Liberia. Agents suggest that victims bring facturas or invoices if they can.

The items include all sorts of computers, iPods, cell telephones, Play Station devices, household appliances, as well as at least 100 rings, watches and bracelets.

The man appears to have worked alone and approached homes on the pretext of selling books. If no one answered the door, he would break in, agents said.

more burglary loot
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Many types of watches were recovered

Art museum closed for month

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Museo de Arte Costarricense, which is located in the former air terminal at Parque la Sabana will be closed until Sept. 23 because contractors are working on the electrical system, said a spokesperson.

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