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(506) 2223-1327         Published Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 168    E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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arrested man
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo

Another rival gang targeted by police

One of 11 persons detained Tuesday awaits transportation after a series of raids targeting the violent Diablos drug distribution network in Pavas.

See our story HERE!

Older adults may get free rides on nation's trains
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Older adults can ride for free on certain public buses, and now there is a movement in the legislature to extend this benefit to the passenger trains.

Ana Helena Chacón presented a proposal to lawmakers Tuesday that would do just that. She said that based on the current law, the only way older adults will get a free ride is if a legal change is approved.

The concept seems to have the support of officials of the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles. Miguel Carabaguías, institute president, said that the board of directors was interested in the passage of the measure.

Nothing will happen immediately. The legislature is slow, and the change in the law would not go into effect until six months after an approved bill 
police and trains
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Police are keeping a close eye on the San José- Heredia train after protesting parents blocked the right-of-way Monday in a dispute over school conditions.

is passed and published. During that time the rail workers would have to come up with a system for determining who is over 65 years.

University will wrap up its search for ideas tonight
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What are the most important ideas that will define Costa Rica in this century?

That has been the topic of gatherings of a number of thinkers under the auspices of the Universidad Nacional. A special final session will take place in the legislature's Salón de ex Presidentes tonight at 6 o'clock. President Óscar Arias Sánchez has been invited.

The university plans to publish a book outlining the thinking presented at this and other sessions in time to present it to the successful presidential candidate next year. Discussions have been held all over the country.

The university has been inviting intellectuals,
artists, academics, scientists, technologists, business
leaders, politicians, opinion makers and leaders or religious and social groups. The idea is to tap the collective mind of the nation.

The project is being called the Primer Ideario Costarricense del Siglo XXI. The name comes from a 1943 book that contained the thoughts of contemporary leaders. In 1992, the university held another assembly marking 50 years since the publication of the book.

Another book with contributions from more than 200 persons was the result.

The effort to gather ideas started in March. The thoughts are possible motors of change and challenges for Costa Rica, said Olman Segura Bonilla, university rector.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 168

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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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An analysis of the news
Kennedy's death is personal

for many in his generation

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The death Tuesday of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is a significant event for the so-called older generation.

These are the folks who perhaps voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and watched in horror as Walter Cronkite announced his death in 1963. They were further jolted by the murder of Robert F. Kennedy as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination with an anti-Vietnam war strategy in 1968.

Of course, many of the same oldsters served in Vietnam. They might have been there when Edward Kennedy eliminated his chance at the presidency in 1969 by driving his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. Killed was campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne, and questions lingered why Kennedy was not able to rescue her, why he was not decisive and what the pair were doing on the gravel road.

Kennedy always lived under the shadow of his older brothers, and many thought he did not deserve the Senate seat he won. Being a Kennedy in Massachusetts is to be unbeatable in elections.

Yet, Kennedy became a leading liberal figure in the Senate and survived the Republican wave of Reagan and both presidents named Bush. He appears to have gained the respect of all politicians from both major political parties.

His death marks the end of an era. There is no obvious family candidate for the dynastic role left open by Kennedy, although some of the next generation might emerge in years to come.

Along with his contemporaries, the 77-year-old Kennedy was a witness and a player in five decades of public life during a time when the world changed drastically several times. And in mourning Kennedy, many readers are reflecting on their own many decades of life.

Couple nabbed by police
after home is burglarized

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers detained a man and a woman Tuesday near a house that had just been burglarized between Escazú and Santa Ana..

The head of the Fuerza Pública in Santa Ana, Roy Chavarría, said that police received a telephone call alerting them to the break-in and that various persons had entered the home while the homeowner was at the beach.

Police said they managed to recover a number of articles that they believe had been taken from the home. The items ranged from a television set to a pair of shoes. There also were jewels, a wireless telephone, a rice cooker, and a printer, they said.

The pair were identified by the last names of Zamora Garvia for the man and Vega Hernández for the woman. Police said they lived in La Carpio.

Rat population growing
in the dry countryside

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A dry rainy season is being blamed for the proliferation of rats in Guanacaste and Puntarenas. The creatures are being seen in much greater than normal numbers, according to the Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandería.

The rats can damage cultivated foods like rice, pineapples, sugar cane and corn, said the department. The agency has issued a health decree that requires landowners to permit agency employees to operate to trap and kill the rats.

They are believed to be what are called in English spiny rats. In Spanish they are simply ratas de campo. The ministry's Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado will be trapping the animals in order to obtain an assessment of the population, and then they will be applying poisons to eliminate them, said the ministry.

Telecom agency issues rules
to reduce net interference

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new telecom agency has put out regulations to establish maximum emissions of interference from various devices used in wired and wireless networks. The rules apply to importers, manufacturers and those who operate the terminals that connect public networks.

The public has until Sept. 18 to comment on the regulations.

The agency, the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, said that it will issue a certificate and create a registry number for each piece of equipment. Not included in the regulations are radio and television devices that are covered by other regulations.

The Superintendencia said that it would make tests of the equipment or accept the evaluation of an accredited laboratory. Equipment that does not meet the standards would not be able to be connected to networks, said the agency.

Discussion leads to death
in Santa Lucia de Barva

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A dispute over money appears to have cost the life of a Salvadoran man in Santa Lucia de Barva de Heredia Tuesday morning.

Investigators said that the man, Alex Iván Cornejo, 35, worked in his home as a tattoo artist.

Being held is a 29-year-old Costa Rican with the last names of Hernández Estrada. The victim, Cornejo, suffered a bullet wound to the chest.

The Fuerza Pública said that witnesses reported that the two men were having an argument in English when Cornejo grabbed a knife and attacked Hernández, who was carrying a .45-caliber handgun. Police said that when they arrived, Hernández was waiting for them.

Tamarindo recycling Friday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Friday is recycling day in Tamarindo, and municipal workers will pick up discarded material at 7:30 a.m. at the local soccer field and at several commercial establishments in the town.

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For your international reading pleasure:

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A.M. Costa Rica
users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

Did you try
to call us?

We're not trying to avoid you. We just are victims of another ICE problem.

The workmen came and disconnected the phones in our old office before they found out that they did not have sufficient space to install the lines in the new office.

You can reach us at 8832-5564.

But Internet is best.

-A.M. Costa Rica 

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 168

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Police raid
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photos
Anti-drug agents prepare to smash open a portón to get access to a gang location
Drug police move to take a bite out of Pavas Diablo gang
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In the western blue collar community of Pavas a war rages. The battles have been going on for 10 years, but the increase in drug use has raised the ante.

This is the continual confrontation that frequently breaks into the headlines with bullet-ridden bodies or a successful drive-by shooting.

This is the war between the Polacos and the Diablos. Both are criminal gangs that make a living with drug sales, robberies and the occasional contract killing.

Last December anti-drug agents cracked down on the Polacos and detained 10 persons. Tuesday it was the turn of the Diablos.

Two drug agents covered with camouflage netting spent the night on the smelly bank of a Río Varilla tributary so they could prevent the escape of wanted individuals. Others had to work their ways through the maze of small homes that served as protection for the locations they sought. The scene was in Loma del Río, Pavas.

A simultaneouss raid took place in Las Cañas, Alajuela.

Of the 11 persons detained, seven are women. The Policía de Control de Drogas said that the Diablo gang was being led by a woman, identified by the last name of Barquero Segura. That's because many of the male members of the extended family are in prison.

Prison figured in one of the more spectacular gang hits. That took place on a Sunday morning on the Circunvalación south of San José. It was Aug. 3, 2008. Murdered was Odilia Salas Abarca, 44, who was on her way to San Sebastián reception center to see her jailed son. He is associated with the Polacos. She was considered the gang's matriarch.

Two men on a motorcycle fired at least eight times at the woman while she was in a car headed to the jail. That was in the southern San José community of Hatillo 8. The murder was attributed to the Diablos. Two members of that gang were detained in the killing late last year.

The gang members exercise strong control of drug distribution in their areas, and some members leave the security of their turf to commit robberies, home invasions
hidden drug agents
Camouflaged drug agents make their way from their hidding spot along the Río Varilla tributary.

and worse. Others on the wave of criminality are the drug   customers of the gangs who are seeking funds to feed their habits.

The Polacos are headquartered in Villa Esperanza de Pavas. The gang's name is a Spanish word for street peddler. Diablos, of course, translates as Devils.

In Alajuela agents detained a couple who they said are the principal distributors of the gangs. Agents called both gangs narco-mafia. One woman was held because she had an outstanding arrest warrant for carrying a concealed weapon, said agents.

In all there were nine separate raids Tuesday. Agents said they confiscated 2,400 doses of crack cocaine, a small amount of cocaine and a quarter kilo of marijuana. Two weapons also were confiscated.

Some police agents have mixed minds about dismantling the gangs. They know that the powerful Central American gangs known as maras, are ready to fill the drug supply vacuum. The last condition that police seek to create is an easy entry for the bloody Salvadoran and Honduran gang members.

Would-be cheese magante runs afoul of food regulations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This is not our typical smuggling case. It may not even be smuggling. But the situation was a concern for health officials.

The Fuerza Pública said they found 20 sacks of 45 kilos each in a vehicle at the control point in La Unión de San José de Upala. This was not a drug case. The Nicaraguan truck driver was headed south, the wrong way for a cocaine shipment.

Police finally realized that what they had found was a shipment of some 900 kilos (1,980 pounds) of cheese. The
way the foodstuff was packed raised some eyebrows among the police, who called the method unhealthy.

A representative of the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal showed up and agreed that the cargo should be trashed. The driver, identified by the last name of Urbina, said that he intended to sell the Nicaraguan cheese in the Liberia area.

Importation of food products requires agricultural and health permits and customs clearance, requirements that the driver did not meet.

But police concluded that the problem was an administrative one and that the man should not be held.

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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 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica
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Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 168

There are some pretty good reasons not to kiss the dog
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Atrás, sarnosa!” or “Back, you mangy cur!” is how certain dogs are greeted in Costa Rica. The one in question does not actually show any signs of mange, though she probably does carry the parasite in question.

A recent A.M. Costa Rica article about the difficulties of dealing with neighbors’ dogs and other pets mentioned the role of dogs in spreading diseases. What dog diseases are of concern to people?

Mange isn’t one of them. It is a parasite that most dogs carry, transmitted to the youngest puppies from the mother. The organism in question is a microscopic mite of the genus Demodex. Normally the dog’s defenses hold the infection in check, but a dog with immunological weakness will see a population explosion that results in hair loss and red-colored inflammation.

Another mite of the genus Sarcoptes causes canine scabies, which is more contagious to humans. In any case these mites, along with various others lumped together as “chiggers,” are not strictly speaking human parasites and are usually eliminated by an immune response marked by intense itching.

A more serious threat is from nematode roundworms spread by dogs. In Costa Rica and the world’s wealthier countries in general, human intestinal parasites have been controlled through sanitation and treatment. Nonetheless precaution is still needed since both human and animal parasites remain in the environment.

Dog roundworms, specifically the ascarid worm Toxocara canis, are the most pernicious threat. In their normal host, these worms have a complex life cycle marked by multiple larval stages and migration around the host’s tissues. The Toxocara type is usually swallowed, and from the intestines moves around until eventually from the lungs it is coughed up and swallowed into the digestive tract again, where the adult matures. Then it feeds on the contents of the intestines and dumps eggs into the waste stream to be spread about in feces.

However, if not in the correct host i.e. a dog, the larvae do not mature into adults. But if the migrating larva burrows through important organs, or into the eye, it can cause an infection and permanent damage.

Puppies are routinely infected in the placenta and born with mature worms already present and ready to contaminate their environment. A female worm can produce 100,000 eggs per day which take a few days to mature in soil. They stay viable for months or years, waiting to be eaten by a host like a small child.

Preventative measures include worming pregnant dogs and puppies, disposing of feces before eggs have a chance to mature and spread, and keeping children away from contaminated environments like sandboxes.

kissing a dog

Cats and raccoons have their own ascarid roundworms,
but due to cats’ different toilet habits, they are less likely to
spread eggs into the wider human environment. Cats are less popular as pets in Costa Rica than dogs.

Hookworms are another nematode where the species evolved to infect humans has been controlled. Other types persist in the environment, particularly Ancylostoma caninum. Like the other roundworms, they have a larval stage which is found in soil. These worms, however, enter directly into the skin by way of pores. There they migrate around the body maturing along the way, until from the lungs they are coughed and swallowed. The adults then “hook” onto the intestinal walls and feed on the host’s blood while dropping eggs into the waste stream. 

Going barefoot where dogs have defecated is the main risk factor for hookworm infection, along with lying on infected sand or working in dirt under houses. Again the greatest danger is from the migrating larvae, though a serious infestation can result in enough blood loss to cause anemia.

A Costa Rican superstition that going barefoot, even indoors, is bad because “the cold will go up into your legs and do you harm” may refer to hookworms. Few people seem to know about the worms themselves and the ways they spread. Treatment programs emphasize giving pills to children and not explaining details.

It is also possible to contract tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum) from dogs but it requires ingesting an infected flea. This is occasionally seen in small children. Fleas are the vector which this parasite uses to travel from one dog to another.

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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 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

Costa Rica
fifth news page

Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 168

Casa Alfi Hotel

Skyrocketing debt is shadow
over crisis recovery in U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. economy is showing further signs of recovery, even as America's national debt continues to skyrocket.
Despite some of the most challenging economic conditions in decades, American consumer confidence jumped unexpectedly this month, a sign that widespread pessimism might be dissipating.

The New York-Based Conference Board reports that its consumer confidence index stands at 54.1, up from a revised 47.4 reading in July. "Confidence is on the mend. There is still a lot of apprehension. Consumers definitely feel that the worst is behind us, but we still have a ways to go," said Lynn Franco, who heads the group's consumer research center.

Even with the rise, the latest figure remains nearly 50 percent below the consumer confidence number reported two years ago. Nevertheless, rising confidence is a welcome sign, as consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

America's battered housing sector also got a dose of encouraging news, with a national index reporting a 3 percent jump in housing prices in the second quarter of this year.

"There has only been one quarter of positive news. But just looking at the latest data, it does look like there might be some stability in the market at this point," said Maureen Maitland of Standard and Poor's. Falling housing prices have been a major contributor to U.S. economic woes since 2007. A rash of home mortgage defaults helped spark last year's financial meltdown.

Tuesday's upbeat economic data stand in contrast to gloomy budget deficit projections. The White House and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office project a federal deficit of about $1.6 trillion for the current fiscal year -- a record-high, although slightly less than had been projected a few months ago.

Swelling debt is no surprise, according to John Irons, who directs research at the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute. "Both reports are very stark reminders of the steep recession that we find ourselves in. Lower incomes, lower business activity are largely driving the revenue side. On the spending side, there are some higher outlays that are due to the recession, also. Obviously, unemployment at high levels means that there is more demand for public services," he said.

Irons said temporary deficits are normal and even desirable during severe economic downturns, but must be corrected in the long term. But the White House and the Congressional Budget Office say that America's national debt will continue to expand for years to come, even assuming that the U.S. economy will begin to recover at the end of this year.

During the next decade, the White House estimates America's national debt will grow by $9 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office projection is $7 trillion. The difference between the two estimates lies primarily in the fact that the Congressional Budget Office assumes the expiration of Bush administration-era tax cuts, while the White House is assuming that President Barack Obama will honor his pledge against allowing taxes to rise on families earning less than $250,000 a year.
In Costa Rica the U.S. dollar showed a slight weakness against the colon this week, dropped about four colons or about six-tenths of a percent. However, the change was chalked up to seasonal slackening demands for dollars rather than a prediction of the impact of Obamanomics.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 168

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Fidel Castro defends Obama
from racist right-wingers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro is accusing detractors of U.S. President Barack Obama of racism.

In an essay on state-run Web site Monday, Castro said the "extreme right hates" Obama for being African-American and will do "everything possible" to block his agenda.

He said Obama inherited the problems of former U.S. President George W. Bush, but is trying to, in his words, "improve the deteriorated image" of the United States.

Castro cited as examples President Obama's efforts on health care, climate change, immigration reform, reviving the economy and eliminating tax havens. But he said none of those initiatives will change the capitalist U.S. system, as some opposition Republicans have charged.

He also criticized President Obama's increased efforts in Afghanistan, saying taking troops from Iraq and sending them to fight the Taliban is a mistake.

Castro said Afghanistan is where the Soviet Union failed, and that the European allies of the United States are increasingly resistant to having more troops die in the war, or, as he put it; resistant to "spilling the blood of their soldiers."

Castro frequently comments on U.S. policy and international affairs on the state Web site. However, there is no way of knowing how much of the thought and discourse actually is that of Castro. The latest remarks come as the U.S. governor from the southwestern state of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, is on a trade visit to Cuba.

Obama has talked about the possibility of re-establishing relations with Communist Cuba, after 50 years of hostilities and a decades-long trade embargo — but only if there are major changes in the Cuban government's human rights policy.

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