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(506) 2223-1327           Publsihed Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 170          Email us
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Some of the 293 plants in individual pots found by judicial agents after a home invasion call.

Pot plantation
Judicial Investigation Organization photo

Home invasion and shooting leads to pot discovery
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three men invaded the Heredia home of a Canadian and beat him up Thursday. But that was not the worst of it for the expat.

Neighbors called police, the assailants fled, but a subsequent search by Fuerza Pública officers and Judicial police uncovered an indoor marijuana plantation.

The occupant of the home, identified by the last name of Netzel by police, was hospitalized as a result of the beating he received. The Judicial Investigating Organization said he was 53.

A 21 year old, identified by the last names of  Sanabria Méndez also was detained, said the Fuerza Pública.
Judicial police said that neighbors alerted them Thursday night after shots were fired and that a search uncovered 293 marijuana plants being raised with a hydroponic system under artificial light. A report said that the assailants may have invaded the home in order to collect a debt. The men fled leaving a vehicle behind, said police. The role of  Sanabria was not clear, but the Fuerza Pública said they found a 9-mm. pistol at the scene registered to him. They also found shotgun shells. Sanabria also required medical attention, they said. Both men faced arrest after treatment.

The home is in an area called Tierra Blanca on the border of the Heredia cantons of San Pablo, San Isidro and San Rafael.

Police said they also found a small quantity of processed marijuana.

Country mourns death of one of its top musicians
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans are mourning the unexpected death of Fidel Gamboa, 50, the well known composer, singer and lead of the internationally known group Malpaís.

He died of a heart attack Sunday.

Even President Laura Chinchilla sent a message of
condolence to the musician's family.

Fans conducted a candle light remembrance in the band stand of Parque Morazán Sunday night. More observances are planned.

Gamboa was a guitarist and someone who could present his own songs in ballad style.

Malpaís is easily the country's best known group.

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Our readers' opinions
Who will take initiative
to help street people?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I can certainly empathize with Mr. Dwayne Egelund's sentiments about the behavior of some people on Avenida Central which were published in his letter of Aug. 25. No one likes to be exposed to public urination, beggars, drug users, or apparent schizophrenics raising a commotion in public places. He makes a compelling argument that there should be some intervention.

But what? Mr. Egelund suggests that the police should intervene, but what exactly is it that they should do?

Neither the police nor any other public agency are running effective mental health or substance abuse programs, so just what should the police do once they have intervened? What is the next step?

Likewise, until there are adequate restroom facilities available to all the public in the downtown areas, what is one to do once one's bladder is full? What is the practical alternative, especially for the homeless? And what should the police actually do about it?

And while Costa Ricans generally live a comfortable lifestyle, especially as compared to our nearby neighbors, we know that there is still a significant population of chronically and desperately poor citizens. Absent jobs for which they have the skills and physical capacity, what's a person to do but beg? Slowly starve? Or should the police now be charged with feeding the hungry?

Taken together, these folks are not a pretty sight, and Mr. Egelund is right to be offended by their behavior. The question for us all is just what are we willing to give up to remedy the problems he cites? Neither he nor I are prepared to take the smelly lady home for a bath, so who will clean her up? Neither he nor I are devoting much time to feeding those beggars, so with whom does that responsibility rest?

The only ready answer to this dilemma is to jail all the offenders. We do feed our prisoners, there are toilet facilities, and we do afford them opportunities to bathe. That would go a long way toward resolving the problems but at what cost? Are we prepared to fund jail facilities for all these people? The jails and prisons now are overflowing, and elsewhere people decry the pre-trial release of apprehended subjects. How many more penal facilities are we prepared to construct and run? 

If the public, in the person of the police, should take on these responsibilities, then the question becomes how much more in taxes are we anxious to pay to give the police something definitive to do once they have intervened?
David C. Murray
Grecia, Alajuela

President was short-sighted
in vetoing gluten measure

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The president is being short sighted and not very fair to the citizens of Costa Rica in vetoing this bill about gluten intolerance and celiac disease. I was diagnosed 15 years ago with gluten intolerance and since going gluten free have become exceptionally healthy. Gluten is in almost all processed food products on the supermarket shelves and in some cases in much larger amounts than naturally occurs in wheat.

Stanford & Columbia universities have proven that gluten does not digest in the human body and is a huge digestive hindrance to the very young and older generation. Gluten is added in large quantities by many bakeries as a flavor enhancer and also makes the baked good fluffier, but has been proven in the quantities now being used, to cause numerous gastro intestinal problems and contributes to overweight & obesity.

I was a very active member of the Celiac Association in the U.S. and Canada for many years prior to moving to Costa Rica, and we always recommended to people that were experiencing gastro problems or just getting sick too often to delete gluten from their diet for six weeks to three months, then re-introducing it to their system noting the difference.

It is very hard to believe that our daily bread can poison us, but that is what has happened since America and their corrupt food companies started tampering with the worlds food supply, all in the name of profits.
Des Cockcroft

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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

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

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

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 170

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Slick, slippery plastic banknotes not getting rave reviews
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Banco Central figured the country could save some money with plastic currency. So the 1,000 colons note is just that.

An informal survey of Costa Ricans suggest that the plastic notes are not held in high regard. They are slippery and have a tendency to leap out of purses and pockets.

The industry prefers to call the notes polymer, and this is Costa Rica's second flirtation with the concept. The plastic notes of the Costa Rican type have been in service since 1988 in Australia. They are printed on what is called Guardian, a registered trademark. Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic are among nearby countries that also have issued such notes. In Costa Rica, the polymer notes are 1,000 colons, about $2 and 2,000 colons, although the larger bill seems to have more texture and is not as slippery.

Any expats who have the older paper 1,000- and 2000-colón notes on hand have until Wednesday to spend them. The paper banknotes are being withdrawn from daily use as of Thursday, and those who have them can only exchange them at various banks. After Oct. 31, only the Banco Central will accept the older notes.

Costa Rica has printed 40 million notes. They are what amounts to the holy grail of currency. They are supposed to last longer in circulation and contain a number of security features that cannot be duplicated with paper.

Costa Rica tried plastic bills before. A 20-colón note was issued in 1983. It was only the second country to issue bills on a material produced by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. The material is called Tyvek, but it did not perform well. It now is used as house wrap and mechanic's coveralls. Other countries that used the material reported that the ink began to rub off. In Costa Rica, merchants began cutting the bill in half to create a
slippery bills
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Just call them the Teflon bills

smaller 10-colon note. Anyone who kept one of the notes has a valuable piece of history. The bill is priced around $150 by money dealers. Bills in proof condition are worth far more.

The problem now is not the smudging of ink but the slippery nature of the material. From taxi drivers to store clerks, the opinion appears universal. The bills simply are hard to handle. Once folded they stay that way, but they resist that kind of treatment.

The red bills bear the image of Braulio Carrillo Colina, one of Costa Rica's 19th century presidents. Political life was tough then. Carrillo took over in a coup and ended up being kicked out of the country to El Salvador where he was assassinated. A few of the merchants saw an appropriate comparison between slippery bills and politicians.

Cops face definitional problem with homemade weapons
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When is a gun not a gun? When it is homemade, according to the Fuerza Pública.

Ialdo Bejarano, the deputy chief in the Alajuelita region said that police officers constantly are coming into contact with youngsters who have homemade weapons, However, the local prosecutor declines to prosecute because the devices are not considered real guns.

Although the weapons appear real and shoot real bullets, those who carry them cannot be accused of carrying a weapon illegally, under the rule stipulated by the prosecutor in Hatillo, said the Fuerza Pública.

The comments came in a discussion of a high school boy, 14, who was found firing a homemade weapon Friday. That was in the community of Tejarcillos. A passerby alerted police.

The youth also had 125 .22-caliber bullets on his person. The youth, identified by the last name of Mora, wore the uniform of the Colegio Teodoro Picado in Alajuelita.

Bejarano said that a number of robberies and other crimes take place with the aid of homemade weapons. He said it appeared that someone was making such weapons for sale in the area.

There is no shortage of commercially made weapons. The Fuerza Pública said that officers detained 15 persons over the weekend on allegations of carrying weapons illegally or in using them in a crime.

In Paracito de Santo Domingo de Heredia police detained
homemade guns
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridaad Pública photo
These are two homemade guns found by police Friday.

two men who were believed responsible for a drive-by  shooting. The crime was witnessed by a police officer. Wounded was a man identified as Gerardo Serrano Morales. Other police officers intercepted the presumed getaway vehicle, detained the two men and confiscated a .22-caliber pistol.

In Limón police intercepted two suspects facing allegations that they stuck up a delivery truck near Chiroles in southeastern Costa Rica and took 500,0000 colons, about $1,000. The truck belongs to Distribudora Rodríguez, said police. The driver was not hurt.

Police also took the weapon of a private guard in Muelle de Florencia near San Carlos because he did not have a permit to carry one.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 170

Old Tucurrique bridge will be dedicated to only pedestrians
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Road officials are building a new 90-meter bridge over the Rio Pejibaye in Tucurrique, but they will leave the old, one-lane structure in place as a pedestrian bridge. That distance is about 295 feet.

The new structure is a bailey bridge and will support 40 tons, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y

Procom S.A. has the contract for the job. The contract is from $250,000, officials said, and that does not include the $600,000 work of steel bailey bridge segments. The concrete supports have been installed and work is being done on the metal deck. The location is in west central Costa Rica.

Similar work is taking place in Turrubares over the Río Grande de Tárcoles where a loaded passenger bus flipped off a hanging span in October 2009. Five persons died in the river. The concrete work has been advancing here, too.

There also is similar work taking place in Jerónimo de
Pejibaye bridge
Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo
Residents still share the old bridge with motor traffic, but that will change when the new span is open.

Esparza, el Toro in Pital de San Carlos and in San José at the Río Frío, the ministry said.

The country has its eyes on 200 substandard bridges including eight on the Interamericana that are being rebuilt.

Australian research might be major dengue breakthrough
By the University of California at Davis news staff

The spread of dengue fever in northern Australia may be controlled by a bacterium that infects mosquitoes that harbor the virus, Australian and U.S. researchers reported in two papers published in the journal Nature. The research has implications in Costa Rica where dengue is a serious problem in coastal areas.

The result grew out of work more than 20 years ago by population biologist Michael Turelli, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California at Davis, and Ary Hoffmann, now at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who are among the coauthors of one of the new Nature papers.

Turelli and Nick Barton of the Institute of Science and Technology, Australia, also describe the mathematical basis of the dengue elimination project in a paper to be published in the journal American Naturalist in September.

Dengue fever is caused by four virus strains spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti. The disease causes high fever and has been called breakbone fever because of the joint aches and muscle pains it causes. Dengue viruses can also cause a potentially fatal disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever, in people who have previously been infected with a different strain.

Dengue viruses are found throughout the tropics and subtropics and appear annually in northern Australia. The researchers released mosquitoes infected with the bacterial parasite Wolbachia, which suppresses the virus, and now report that the Wolbachia parasite spreads rapidly through the wild mosquito population.
“The results show we can completely transform local populations in a few months,” Turelli said.

Wolbachia is transmitted by female mosquitoes to their offspring. A pair of infected mosquitoes produce slightly fewer eggs than an uninfected couple, but when an infected male mosquito mates with an uninfected female, she produces no eggs at all. That provides a big reproductive advantage to the spread of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes, generation by generation.

“It’s natural selection on steroids,” Turelli said.

It turns out that Wolbachia also suppresses various other microbes living in the same mosquito – including the dengue virus. As these virus-resistant mosquitoes spread through the wild population, dengue transmission should dry up.

Turelli and Hoffmann first described what turned out to be Wolbachia spreading among fruit flies in California’s Central Valley in 1991, and Barton developed much of the relevant mathematics in the late 1970s while trying to understand the genetics of grasshoppers in the French Alps. That research by Turelli, Hoffman and Barton provides the biological and mathematical basis for the dengue control strategy.

“At the time, none of us expected that this original research might contribute to human health. This is very exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Turelli said.

“We never thought this would turn into an eradication project.”

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 170

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Irene causes 18 deaths,
but impact less than feared

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Days after withstanding a rare earthquake, large swaths of the densely populated U.S. East Coast have weathered Irene, a once-powerful hurricane later downgraded to a tropical storm. Irene drenched New York Sunday after coming ashore over coastal areas farther south.  At least 18 deaths are blamed on the storm, which prompted a massive mobilization of federal, state and local governments.

For three days, Irene pummeled the U.S. East Coast with high winds and torrential rains. Although no communities were obliterated, destruction is widespread over thousands of square kilometers with flooding, downed trees, damaged homes, power outages and impassable roads.

One Washington D.C. resident, who identified himself as Leonard, survived a harrowing night with his family after a giant tree fell on his home.

“It seemed like a pretty tame storm, and then all of a sudden these big oak trees started falling down on houses," he said. "I was very scared. I have two little kids, a two-and-a-half year-old and a 1-year-old.”

Untold numbers of travelers were stranded amid thousands of canceled flights. Irene prompted New York City’s first-ever subway closure due to a natural event.

But stoic New Yorkers seemed to take the storm in stride, including grocery store owner Faris Algabbon.

“Everybody buys a lot of stuff — for nothing. Nothing happened," he said. "We only closed for a couple hours. Now we are open, and now we are good to go.”

Unlike last week’s sudden earthquake, Irene's arrival was anticipated days in advance. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a simple message for residents: “Everyone should be prepared to go inside and stay inside,” he said.

In many areas, a prolonged period of clean-up and recovery awaits.

“We do not know how much damage has been done, how many trees are down on tracks across New Jersey," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

From Washington, came a promise of federal assistance and a warning issued by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“We are not out of the woods [safe from potential harm] yet," she said. "Irene remains a large and potentially dangerous storm. Hazards still persist in communities that have already seen the storm pass.”

Irene’s remnants are expected to dissipate over Canada later today.

Mexican troops flood
area at burned casino

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Several hundred Mexican troops have converged on a northern town where an arson fire at a casino killed 52 people.

Some 1,500 security forces conducted raids on nearly a dozen casinos in Monterrey, detaining three people.

Thursday, armed suspects carrying a flammable liquid burst into Casino Royale, and moments later the building was in flames. Authorities are still trying to identify some of the 52 victims.

The investigation into the attack is ongoing, but authorities are looking into whether drug cartels had threatened the casino in an extortion plot. Mexican authorities are offering a $2.4 million reward for information leading to additional arrests.

Nearly 40,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown on cartels.

Suspect in consulate case
extradited to El Paso

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Justice Department says one of the accused killers in the March 2010 killings of three people with ties to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico has been extradited to the United States.

U.S. authorities say Miguel Angel Nevarez appeared before a U.S. judge Friday in El Paso, in the southwestern U.S. state of Texas just across the border from Juárez.

Nevarez, a member of the Barrio Azteca gang, is accused of taking part in the killings of a consular officer Leslie Enriquez Catton, and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Alberto Salcido, the husband of a consulate worker.

Nevarez also faces drug and money laundering charges, as well as conspiracy to commit racketeering and federal firearm charges.

In 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched an army-led crackdown on the country's drug gangs. Since then, more than 40,000 people have died in violence linked to the drug cartels.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 170

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Ministry to investigate
police action at dump

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Security ministry officials will investigate the conduct of its officers at a demonstration at a dump in Pérez Zeledón Sunday.

Police used tear gas on a crowd of residents to open up a roadway for dump trucks. The residents have been protesting for several days because a judge ordered the dump reopened temporarily.

The crowd contained children and an infant as young as two months. In addition at least one woman was in a wheelchair.

One policeman was injured by a rock.

Dump trucks entered the municipal dump after the crowd dispersed.

Accused cops remain
in preventative detention

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those 12 policemen and a 13th person facing allegations over drugs remain in jail.

The Juzgado Penal de Hacienda ordered the individuals held for three months additional of preventative detention in a late night session that ended Friday.

This is the case where another judge said the men could go free because a disk on which a hearing was recorded could not be heard. The narcotrafficking prosecutor pressed the case and filed a series of appeals that culminated in the extension of the detention.

The men are accused of using their police powers to shakedown drug dealers and to steal drugs for resale. They were in the Heredia station.

Even if they had left prison, the case would have continued because they were being held prior to trial.

Young mother faces charge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 17-year-old mother has been jailed on allegations that she nearly killed her 21-month old baby.

The woman took the child to the Hospital Nacional de Niños Thursday, and physicians discovered the child had a broken collarbone, fractured ribs and an enlarged liver from apparent beatings.

The woman appears before the Juzgado Penal Juvenil de San José.

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