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(506) 2223-1327               Published  Friday, Aug. 28, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 170                  E-mail us
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man and his dog
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
What could be better than taking the dog for a walk along one of Costa Rica's premier beaches. This one is Sámara, but there are plenty more.
The El Niño-induced drier-than-normal season has been a boon to outdoor activities. The biggest danger is sunburn!


Jafek believed he could win with high-interest deals
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

By 2001 standards Tom Jafek was not big-time. His Green Fund attracted perhaps $10 million from  investors seeking spectacular interest rates. And he
Tom Jafek
Tom Jafek
seemed to conduct that company like a business.

That was in contrast to the high-interest scheme operated by the secretive Luis Enrique Villalobos, who promised investors never to reveal their holdings to anyone.

He was not the larger than life Roy Taylor, who could push a stick
into the ground, call it a tree farm and begin collecting thousands from foreigners.

Nor was he Luis Milanes, who drew his investors into the casino world, and few ever asked why a successful gambling house owner would need their cash.

That was the go-go world of Costa Rica at the turn of the century. High-interest schemes were paying from 3 to 3.5 percent a month to the faithful. Some would take their monthly interest in cash and spend it in a continual party until time came to get more money.

Jafek selected a name that evoked images of environmentally friendly investments. In fact, the word green really meant the color of money.  He invested his funds with The Vault run by Taylor, with Villalobos and others. He took a small piece of the investors monthly returns. Jafek remains the last man standing when Villalobos fled town, Milanes vanished and Taylor shot himself while in police custody.

Jafek continually promised and maybe even believed it himself that he could make a comeback and pay back his investors. He said so repeatedly in e-mails to A.M. Costa Rica as he moved from Panamá to Florida. He joined some of his fellow high-interest entrepreneurs on the INTERPOL most-wanted list.

Jafek died a week ago in the special minimum security prison Costa Rica maintains for those over 65 years. He was 72. A friend said he was suffering from multiple illnesses and had no money left from his time as a respected Central Valley businessman. His wife died while she, too, was on the INTERPOL list. His son still is a fugitive, and no one knows where he is. A relative in Wisconsin is trying to raise funds to have Jafek's body shipped there for
cremation. Jafek lies in the judicial morgue in Heredia.

Ivo Henfling, a local real estate broker, reports he was one of the few who visited Jafek in jail regularly. Henfling tried to salvage some of Jafek's businesses when the Green Fund owner fled six years ago. That proved impossible, but he renewed his acquaintance after Jafek was extradited by the United States to Costa Rica.

Henfling is pretty sure no money remains from the Green Fund empire. Jafek apparently played the high-interest market in locations other than Costa Rica by means of the Internet. Some local former investors were hoping to bring Jafek to trial and perhaps get some money back in exchange for reducing charges.

Elsewhere the go-go years of the early 2000s lives on with Luis Milanes. The Cuban American returned last year after apparently making a deal with Francisco Dall'Anese, the nation's chief prosecutor. His brother and others ran his casinos in his absence. Prosecutors have less to go on with Milanes because, unlike the Villalobos brothers, the Milanes operation, called Saving Unlimited, was cleaned out down to the paint on the walls at Centro Colón. That was in November 2002 shortly after Luis Villalobos vanished. Milanes seems to have been living in Guatemala and San Salvador.

Although technically Milanes faces a trial, prosecutors have been dragging their feet, rescheduling hearing after hearing.

For Milanes it still is 2001 when he, too, lived larger than life hosting poker tournaments and handling some $200 million in investor funds which are now missing. He continues to operate a string of casinos.

Oswaldo Villalobos got a 18-year sentence for fraud in a case that aired the internal workings of that family's enterprise. Prosecutors proved to the satisfaction of the court that Oswaldo and the fugitive Luis Enrique ran a ponzi scheme in which investors were paid interest from new deposits. Prosecutors say the pair took in $400 million. A.M. Costa Rica estimates the losses to investors at $1 billion, counting accrued interest.

An argument could be made that Jafek was more a victim of these high-interest schemes than a criminal. Certainly the bulk of his investors money was lost to others who operated true scams. At least Jafek was guilty of thinking of other investment opportunities that if it is too good to be true, it might really be OK.


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A.M.
Costa Rica
Second newspage
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 170

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

Puriscal Properties
sportsmens update
Click HERE for great hotel discounts

Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Appraiser

BEFORE YOU BUY and OVERPAY
Angela Jiménez
ask Angela Jiménez
Architect/Certified Appraiser
23 years experience
for Costa Rica Banks

• building inspections
•¨property management
• construction management

www.orbitcostarica.com/
certifieda.htm
5302-12/12/09

Insurance brokers

Financial Planning & International Health Insurance
Disney Financial Group
Along with specializing in complete financial / estate planning and transfer, Disney is now offering the Finest
Michael Disney
Michael Disney
in International Health and Travel Insurance to Expats living and traveling worldwide.  International health insurance may now be submitted over the Internet.

We also have annuities offering a 25% up front bonus and 5% guaranteed compounded interest.  We handle life insurance policy buy outs. ** All financial products must be finalized within the boundaries of the United States.
Michael Disney, Disney Financial Group. 001.602.464.3729, 001.602.821.5050
E-mail:  DisneyFinancial@Aol.Com
www.DisneyFinancialGroup.Com
www.JoinDisneyOnline.Com
Disney Financial Group is licensed in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.
5374-10/10/09

Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore —

we know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
Costa Rica's evolving immigration law.
Pensionado and rentista. Your first stop for smooth, professional service and a positive experience. Javier Zavaleta jzava@pacbell.net
www.residencyincostarica.com
Tel: (323) 255-6116
5495-2/17/09

Business consultant

Vision: Empowering small and medium business to their highest potential by setting The standards.
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Services we offer:
Financial Management, Planning & Development,
Business English, Business Technology, Professional
Networking,
Costa Rica-North America Specialists
 Costa Rica (011-506) 8914-4116 
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5279-12/1/09

Physicians and surgeons

Dr. Marco A. Mora Aguilar, Neurosurgeon
Dr. Mora
Dr. Marco A. Mora
Available for surgery in any of the private hospitals in San José.
                
Stroke, Brain Surgery, Spine Surgery, Scalp and Skull Repair, Craniotomy
 
http://www.drmarcomora.com
E-mail: info@drmarcomora.com
Or use our Contact Form on the site
Emergency tel: 8879-1818, 8395-1818
Accepting VA's Foreign Medical Program
5267-6/28/09

Psychiatrist

Dr. Luis Carlos Sancho Torres
  bilingual psychiatrist (UCR)
Dr. Sancho
• consulting • depression  • schizophrenia 
• psychiatric disability VA Affairs

• evaluations for gun permits 
 
• bipolar disorders  • addictions 

• methadone

• Transmagnetic stimulation
for depression and stroke

Available 24-hour a day

office: 2246-3458 or 2246-3459
soon: www.psiquiatriacostarica.com
 lucasancho@yahoo.com
5128-7/14/09


Dentists and dental surgery

Dental Cosmetics Costa Rica
Our office offers a wide variety of cosmetic and restorative treatments at very affordable prices. Fillings,
Dental Cosmetics
crowns, bridges, veneers, tooth whitening, implants, smile makeover orthognatic surgery, scalling and polishing.
www.dentalcosmeticscr.com
5372-10/9/09


Marco Cavallini & Associates
Dental Implants $500, Crowns $250

Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and restored
Dr. cavallini
Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini
over 10,000 dental implants since 1980. The Dr. Marco Muñoz Cavallini Dental Clinic, is recognized as one of the best practices in Dental Reconstruction,
Dental Implant placement and Cosmetic Dentistry in Costa Rica and the World. 
For more information,
visit us today at: www.aestheticdentistrycr.com
5346-8/26/09

Hearing consultant

English-speaking hearing consultant
We can professionally evaluate your hearing problem at Clinica Dinamarca off Paseo Colón or at Hospital CIMA.
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• No more background noise, feedback or echoing
• American hearing consultant from D.C. & Atlanta
• Nine clinics including Hospital CIMA
• Authorized provider  to the U.S. veterans
• The worlds leading provider of hearing aids
      Widex hearing aids since 1956

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Allan Weinberg
We service the U.S. veterans/Foreign Medical Program. Please contact me, Allan, at allan9000@gmail.com or at 8891-8989.
5403-8/23/09

Acupuncture physician

Acupuncture (disposable needles),
& Auriculotherapy (without needles) 

Immediate results guaranteed
for sport and all injuries; Back, neck, shoulder, elbow, carpal tunnel, knees, sciatica, 
Eugene McDonald
Eugene Mc Donald A.P.
migraine, T.M.J., kidney stones, intercostal neuralgia, and all painfull conditions  without drugs. Excellent results for stress, tension, anxiety, depression; and many other medical conditions and health maintenance.  Acupuncture works even if other therapies had little or no results. Free consultation, U.S. license, 19 years experience, Eugene Mc Donald, A.P (acupuncture physician) Escazú, 8352-0661. acutherapy0@hotmail.com
http://acupuncturecr.blogspot.com/
5073-9/20/09

Accountants

James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting

• US Tax return preparation  for
individuals and businesses
• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
Income Tax Exclusion (up to $
87,600 in 2008)
• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting


Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@racsa.co.cr
5097-3/30/10

U.S. Tax International

Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal services
Over 15 years in Costa Rica
(English Spoken)
C.R. 2288-2201   U.S 786-206-9473
FAX: 2289-8235
E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com
Web page with vital U.S. tax info HERE!
5422-8/13/09

Real estate agents and services

Latitude Nine real estate graphic
Latitude 9
Real estate, development, Investments.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
506 2777-1197

Over 25 years experience in Costa Rica

www.latitude9.com
5349-11/25/09


MARGARET SOHN
with Great Estates of Costa Rica

20 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce

samargo@racsa.co.cr
info@realtorcostarica.com
www.realtorcostarica.com
(506)  2220-3729 &  (506) 8382-7399 cell
(506)  2232-5016 (phone/fax)
5406-1/6/10

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A Name You Trust & Professional Service


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1 (877) 746-3868
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www.c21jaco.com
2643-3356
Info@c21jaco.com
4401-6/9/09v


7Legal services

Arcelio Hernandez, Esq.
BUFETE HERNANDEZ MUSSIO Y ASOCIADOS

CRTitle.com
Member: Cenpac, AmCham
Jaco: Tel. 2643-3058 - Fax. 2643-0358
Skype: hernandez.mussio
Arcelio hernandez
• Real Estate Transactions
•  Legal Due Diligence
• Purchase and Sale   Agreements/Options
• Trademarks 
• Costa Rican Corporations.
• Title Guaranty • Fraud
     protection * Litigation 
• Constitution of condominiums
• Notary public services in
   general • Offshore Incorporation • Offshore Banking  • Business Law 
• Escrow Services (registered
     with SUGEF) • Estate Planning 
• Family Law 
• Bilingual Accounting Services 

Tel. 2519-4647 - Fax: 2520-0831
San Jose - Jaco - Heredia
Visit our Office in Jacó Beach (GEM Building, 
Office 4 across from AyA on Calle Ancha).
5468-2/17/10


CONSULTORIA JURIDICA EMPRESARIAL CA, S.A.
Attorneys & Notaries
 Tel.  2280-9692 / 2225-9322      
e-mail: info@conjuridica.com  Web:  www.conjuridica.com
       We offer the highest professional standards with very competitive rates. All our official documentation and Notary deeds are always translated in English for better comprehension, client satisfaction and safety.
consultoria logo
• Immigration Law.
• Real Estate Law.
• Corporations, Foundations
       and Associations. 
• Trademarks & Intellectual
       Property.  
• Notary public services
• Criminal Law
•Civil & Commercial 
       Litigation
Our Law Office is conveniently located near Mall San Pedro,  350 meters south from the Subaru dealer, Los Yoses, San José.
5290-12/2/09

KEARNEY-LAWSON & Asoc.
Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorneys at Law and real estate brokers
Relocation services, Wedding Planning
Greg Kearney
*Investments  *Corporations
*Tax Shelters *Immigration
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica
*Name & Product registration
*Business procedures 
*Family and Labor Law
*Locate People   *Private Investigations
Phone/Fax: 2290-8117, 8841-0007
New location on Rohrmoser Blvd.
 Phone: (506) 2232-1014

U.S. to increase pressure
on Honduran interim regime

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The State Department signaled Thursday the Obama administration is ready to take tougher action against the defacto leadership in Honduras because of the political impasse over President José Manuel Zelaya's ouster in June. An Organization of American States diplomatic mission to Tegucigalpa this week returned empty-handed.

Officials here say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to make a formal determination as early as Friday that the ouster of Zelaya was an extra-legal coup, action that would set in motion deep cuts in U.S. aid, and other steps against the interim government.

Obama administration officials have been saying since the democratically-elected Zelaya was arrested by the Honduran military and deported to Costa Rica June 28 that the action amounted to a coup, despite the fact that officials of the successor administration maintain they acted within the law.

But the State Department withheld a formal determination of a coup, which carries with it harsh aid penalties mandated by Congress, in hope that diplomatic efforts led by the Organization of American States could restore Zelaya to power.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, tasked by the Organization of American States to mediate, has offered a proposal under which interim Honduran President Robert Micheletti would step down and allow Zelaya to return and serve out his term which ends in January.

But at a news briefing, the assistant secretary of State for public affairs, P. J. Crowley, said Micheletti and his supporters categorically rejected the plan when a team of foreign ministers visited Tegucigalpa this week, prompting the United States to consider further sanctions.

"The OAS delegation that went there this week made what we thought was a very direct offer and entreaty to Honduras, to the defacto regime, that they should sign on to the San José accords. They have made it categorical that they have, as far as their position today, is that they have no plan to do that. And we are now evaluating based on what we've heard since the delegation has come back to the OAS, and were consulting with the OAS. We're taking stock of that and we'll make some decisions here very soon," he said.

The Obama administration has already suspended several non-humanitarian aid programs for Honduras that it would have been required to halt, if a formal coup determination had been made.

If Secretary Clinton as expected, goes ahead and signs off on such a finding, the aid cuts, worth more than $18 million, would become permanent and other assistance would be affected including a multi-year $215 million U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation program to boost the Honduran farm economy and roads system.

Earlier this week, the State Department said it was suspending non-emergency visa service for Hondurans seeking to visit the United States in another move aimed at pressing the interim government to accept the Arias plan.

Interim President Micheletti has said he does not fear sanctions and that Honduras can get by without international aid. Micheletti and supporters say Zelaya, a political ally of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, was ousted because he was trying to illegally change the country's constitution to extend his term in office.

Micheletti, who has the vocal support of some U.S. congressional conservatives, says Honduras will hold elections in November even if other countries do not recognize the result.

A senior State Department official who spoke to reporters said a coup finding by Secretary Clinton would give U.S. sanctions more bite and importantly, foreclose a resumption of aid without an acceptable resolution of the Honduran political impasse.

Our reader's opinion
What is the rush to cut
funds for Honduran people?


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

One has to ask: On whose side are financial international agencies in this ouster of Honduran president Zelaya? The Central America Bank of Economic Integration just announced it was holding back aid to Honduras’ interim government, joining others doing the same. The U.S. is one of them. Good move. Politicized bureaucrats, delay the infrastructure programs aimed to help the poor Honduran people, and make their situation even worse!

With presidential elections coming up in November, and the newly elected president taking in January, what’s the rush to judgment? Can’t you wait until then — only five months — before taking sides in a matter that is none of your concern. National sovereignty is respected in Latin America, unless there is a non-leftist leader involved. Is that the explanation about whose side you are on?
Walter Fila
Ciudad Colon

Local producers have chance
to meet international buyers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Small and medium Costa Rican businesses will have the chance to met 270 foreign buyers at the Misión de Compradores 2009 from Sept. 7 to 11 at the Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura convention center.

Buyers from 34 countries are scheduled to attend, according to the minister of Comercio Exterior, Marco Vinicio Ruiz. The relevant commercial sectors are agriculture, ornamental plants, metal work and construction, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food.

This year a special section will hold producers of items deemed friendly to the environment. This is the ninth edition of the annual event. Sponsors expect that Costa Rican producers will have about 2,500 business appointments with buyers.

Chamber to host officials
from electrical distributor


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce is hosting a discussion with representatives of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

Among the topics will be that of electric rates, said the chamber in an announcement. Four company officials are expected there Wednesday at 1 p.m. in the Balcón del Mar in Jacó.

The price regulating authority has ordered a rebate for electrical customers, and the national generating and distribution company is appealing that ruling. The company representatives are expected to outline its point of view.

The chamber asked that those who want to attend make reservations by today at 2643-2853.

Have you seen these stories?

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For your international reading pleasure:


News of Nicaragua
News of Central America
News of Cuba
News of Venezuela
News of Colombia
News of El Salvador


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.

Searching
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.

Newspages
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.

Classifieds
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.

Statistics
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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A.M.
Costa Rica
third newspage

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 28, 2009,  Vol. 9, No. 170

another great month
Your Costa Rica

Nine of 10 Pavas drug gang suspects set free by judge
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Remember the Diablos? This is the powerful and violent Pavas drug gang that police and agents targeted Tuesday.

Officers from the Unidad Especial de Apoyo tactical squad spent the night hidden along the banks of a polluted stream so they could surprise gang members in the early morning. Agents wanted to conduct their raid that way because they were wary of the gang, which is known to be armed.

The Poder Judicial confirmed Thursday that the Juzgado Penal de Pavas jailed one of the 10 suspects the Policía de Control de Drogas brought in. A woman with the last
names of Barquero Segura was ordered held for three months preventative detention.

The other nine? The six women and three men?

Well, the judge set them free on the condition that they sign in with prosecutors once a month, keep a fixed home and do not leave the country, said the Poder Judicial.

Typically in such cases the judges order that suspects also keep a steady job. But drug agents say that the suspects already have steady jobs being one of the two principal suppliers of crack cocaine to the Central Valley from their Lomas del Río de Pavas headquarters.


Finance ministry will seek to tax virtual casinos in new bill
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The financial ministry is about to present to the legislature a bill to regulate virtual casino operations located in the country. Ministry officials said they hoped to get up to $100 million a year in new taxes.

The disclosure came from Jenny Phillips, the minister of Hacienda in the Comisión de Control del Ingreso y el Gasto Público. The minster pointed out that the virtual casinos are unregulated now.  She did not amplify what the bill would contain nor was the scope of the types of gambling to be covered outlined.
The minister said that the bill is part of a campaign against tax fraud and reforms so that the country can take in more taxes. Virtual casinos and online gambling operations are all over Costa Rica. This country and Antigua are the two places with the highest concentration of virtual gambling, the minster said.

There was no indication what provisions would be made to keep the virtual operations, which are highly transportable, from going elsewhere if taxes are levied. Although the operations themselves are not taxed, such businesses employ many local individuals who contribute to the general economy.


The joys of fleeting expletives in the privacy of the home
The U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed that Cher and Bono’s little outbursts of profanity – those famous four-letter words – are not acceptable on network TV as they are too shocking to young minds.  This means that the network channels can be peanalized if someone bursts out with  fuck or shit.  Such instances are labeled by the Supreme Court as fleeting expletives.
 
So far, a character on a Cable TV show can use these words in every other sentence and it is okay. They are not translated as such in the Spanish subtitles.

The reason I mention this is that lately I have been guilty of expressing myself in fleeting expletives, usually in the privacy of my own apartment, and thus not in danger of being a Supreme Court figure.

I never uttered such words when I was a kid – well, once when I overheard a woman in my mother’s beauty shop talking about her husband, I used the four little words she used to describe her husband.  I used them addressing my mother although she was not anyone’s son. I never did it again.

Perhaps it was Women’s Lib that freed my tongue because that was when I began, just occasionally, using a fleeting expletive with great satisfaction. Before that I had lectured my children that depending upon swear words to communicate revealed a person with a poor imagination.  I felt compelled to follow my own advice.

But now I am older and my children are grown (and seldom depend upon profanity to express themselves . . . I think). What is prompting my little outbursts is looking for things.  It is not that I am losing more things lately or even misplacing them.  I just can’t find them at first, and then later they appear right where I put them and right where I had looked before.  There is a conspiracy of my possessions that is driving me to fleeting expletives. Example:  My friend Sandy was visiting from Tilarán, and we were discussing books.  She mentioned a John Le Carré book she had just finished.  I said I had one that Steve had lent me and brought it out for her to look at.  We were sitting in the living room. 

After Sandy returned to Tilarán I decided to read the book because it had slightly larger print and my eyes were tired.  I couldn’t find it – not on the coffee table where it last was nor in the bookcase from where I had taken it.  I looked everywhere then in desperation wrote to Sandy and asked if she had borrowed it.  She said no.  I decided to
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

 
forget about it and opened my Shakespeare in preparation for the Little Theatre’s presentation of “Twelfth Night” opening Sept. 4. 

The next morning I walked into the living room a bit groggy, and there on the coffee table in front of where I had been sitting, was John Le Carré’s “The Mission Song.”  Early though it was, I began the day with “Oh shit!  It has to be a conspiracy.

And now, so that some of you can utter your own annoyance in whatever way you choose, I will talk about the U.S. health insurance debacle, another subject that has challenged my civil tongue. Lately the news channels have been reviewing the government-sponsored health plans of other countries (but not yet that of Costa Rica).  This review has shown that most other countries have more doctors per capita than the U.S., yet there are long lines for appointments and longer waits for tests.  In every case so far, however, the end result is that life expectancy in these countries is greater than in the U.S. (And people who live longer are generally healthier than those who don’t.)

From this I deduct that avoiding doctors and medical tests is good for your health.  Or is there some sort of conspiracy afoot?

And now I am going to start my own rumor.  Because so many people are so vociferously against the government’s interference in their health care in the U.S. — especially, it seems the older population — the Obama administration will decide to discontinue Medicare. In short, get the hell out of the business of health care and leave it to insurance companies, who know what they are doing. 

Medicaid and veterans programs will not be cancelled as yet unless the people who benefit from them start complaining as loudly as the general public.

The only difference between Sarah Palin and me is I am sure she doesn’t use fleeting expletives.



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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 170







There is nothing to do but wait after a fender-bender in the downtown. Wise motorists will carry a disposable camera and paper to record the details of the mishap and data on the other car and driver.


Accident downtown
A.M. Costa Rica photo

Strained traffic grid staggers under old accident rule
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As the song says:
     "A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh. . . . "

But the Casablanca lyrics carries little weight in Costa Rica when the kissing is between two vehicles. The law says both drivers must keep their vehicles where they stopped until police and an insurance inspector arrive. That could be some time.

San José is reeling under the many construction projects that are detouring traffic. Every day long lines of vehicles are sent off to side streets because the Municipalidad de San José, the water company or road crews are working. Side streets are becoming major routes, and the detours are
expected to go on through January.

So when a Dos Pinos delivery truck is kissed by a passenger car on Calle 0 in downtown San José, another complication is added to the already groaning traffic flow. That happened this week in a non-injury accident that did little damage to the delivery truck. Such accidents happen every day, but if other motorists are lucky the affected vehicles leave some room for traffic.

Not so at Calle 0. Both lanes were blocked, and northbound traffic had to take a turn to the west on Avenida 1.

Perhaps as time goes by and new insurance companies enter the market, officials will consider changes in the accident rule.


Business chamber backs a delay in the effective date of nation's new traffic law
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The chamber of businesses wants the executive branch to put a bill stalling the new traffic law on its priority list.

The bill in the legislature would delay most new traffic  rules for six months. That would give lawmakers time to revisit the lengthy law.

The Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado made the request in a press release. The legislature is fast approaching the period when members can only act on bills endorsed by the executive branch.
The traffic law is supposed to go into force Sept. 23, but some lawmakers are backing away from the measure because they have realized what they have done. Motorists are certain to be outraged when they begin to purchase items mandated to be in the vehicle, like a fire extinguisher. Also required is a first aid kit and car seats for youngsters.

The new law also increases dramatically the fines for various infractions. Already in force are harsh rules against drunk driving and reckless driving. These changes would not be affected by the proposed adjustments in the law.
Considering the speed with which the legislature operates, a delay in the effective date of the law is unlikely.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 170

Casa Alfi Hotel

Lab mice are unique part
of effort to fight dengue


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

According to the World Health Organization, there are about 50 million new cases of dengue fever around the world each year and about 2.5 billion people, two-fifths of the world's population, are at risk. The disease is spreading, along with the mosquitoes that carry it, into areas like Texas in the United States that are far from the tropics where dengue has been present for a long time.

Scientists at an independent research foundation have developed a new line of study that shows promise in fighting the often deadly disease.

Dengue fever is a threat to people in more than 100 countries, including Costa Rica. It is a flu-like disease that produces a high fever, pain in the eyes and joint aches that can last a week.

Renu Daval-Drager of the World Health Organization says some cases of what is sometimes called "break bone fever" can be fatal. "Dengue does cause death. Usually, one to two percent of the dengue cases can progress to a severe disease called dengue hemorrhagic fever. This disease results in leaky capillaries and also then hemorrhage. And this can also be resolved, but some of these cases will go into shock and organ failure and then die."

There is no vaccine to prevent dengue and no specific medicine to treat it, so the only defense is eradication of the mosquitoes that carry it and measures to protect people from mosquito bites.

But hope is offered by research being carried out at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, which relies on very special mice.

The small white animals with pink eyes are kept in a special isolated room so that they will not be exposed to any bacteria or germs that might infect them. They have been altered to be susceptible to human diseases.

Lead researcher Rebecca Rico-Hesse says the mice have been modified or "humanized" by an infusion of stem cells taken from human umbilical cords that were discarded at local hospitals.

By infecting these humanized mice with strains of the dengue virus, investigators can study how the disease takes hold and what factors might cause the more serious and often deadly dengue hemorrhagic fever.

A recent report co-authored by Ms. Rico-Hesse and her colleague Javier Mota shows for the first time why some strains of dengue virus are more severe than others. "In this report, we present results of eight different virus strains and we show that the ones that have been associated with the more severe epidemics and the ones that cause hemorrhagic fever in patients are actually of a specific genetic variant," she said.

Lab workers infect the mice artificially with the virus, keeping precise records of how much virus and what type of virus is used.

Ms. Rico-Hesse and her colleagues are breeding mosquitoes in the laboratory to test various strains of the dengue virus transmitted to the mice by mosquitoes.

Because of her extensive work in Latin America with dengue fever victims, Ms. Rico-Hesse says she feels compelled to speed research as much as possible. "I have had the opportunity to go to many of the countries and see the patients, even children dying in the hospitals in very remote areas of South America. So it has given me a sense of urgency to work more, to do things, to make things come along quicker," she said.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 170

Latin American news
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Brazil has highest toll
of swine flu fatalities

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Brazil's health ministry says the country has the world's highest swine flu death toll. 

The health ministry says swine flu has killed 557 people between April and August of this year. The ministry released its latest report Wednesday based on figures from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

It says the United States ranks next, with 522 fatalities and Argentina places third with 439.

Brazil's government says it wants to free up $2 billion to purchase 73 million doses of vaccine to fight the virus.

Southern Latin America has seen a greater impact from swine flu because it is the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere, when viruses are easily transmitted.

The World Health Organization has declared the swine flu outbreak a pandemic and says up to two billion people may eventually be infected.


Guantanamo detainee plans
to sue U.S. over his jailing


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A young Afghan who was detained without charge for more than six years at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba plans to sue the U.S. government.

A lawyer for the man, Mohammed Jawad, Major Eric Montalvo, announced the action in Kabul Thursday.

Jawad returned to Afghanistan this week after a U.S. federal judge ruled he had been detained illegally. The judge called his case "an outrage."

His lawyer, appointed by the U.S. military, praised the ruling, but said a better legal system must be established to fairly process other detainees.

Jawad was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 for allegedly throwing a grenade that wounded two U.S. soldiers. His attorneys say he was 12 years old at the time of his arrest, while the U.S. military said medical tests showed he was about 17.






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