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(506) 2223-1327                         Published Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, in Vol. 13, No. 172                 Email us
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Jo Stuart
Cascata del Bosco

another bridge
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo



Workmen are putting together the first temporary bridge at a washout on the Circunvalación. But Mother Nature continues to be active.

Our story is HERE!

Labor Day marks the start of el Mes de la Patria
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday is Labor Day in the United States or Labour Day in Canada and the United Kingdom.  It is a public holiday creating a three-day weekend.

More importantly, the day marks the official end of summer in the northern part of the hemisphere. For Costa Rica's struggling tourism operators this means there will be a lot of Canadian and U.S. residents looking for a warm place to defeat the coming winter.

Costa Rica celebrates its day for workers May 1 each year. The only official effect of this Monday's holiday here will be at relevant embassies which will be closed.

Nevertheless, Costa Rica is heading for some holidays in September.

Monday, Sept. 8, is the  Día del Niño y la Niña. This is not  public holiday, but it is a day to honor children, and most will be expecting a gift.

Costa Rica subscribes to the treaty over the rights of children that won approval at the United Nations in 1989. The treaty contains 24 rights that a considered inalienable for children, including freedom from physical and mental abuse. Despite what children say, this does not obligate parents to take them to McDonald's.

September is called el Mes de la Patria in Costa Rica because Sept. 15 is the Día de la Independencia. This is the 192nd anniversary. Independence day is a Sunday this year, and much of the activity will be the night before, which is a Saturday.

This is the holiday when youth carry the torch of freedom from Guatemala and circulate the flame to every community. There will be an official   reception for the flame in Cartago Saturday
night. Saturday also is the night when Costa Ricans and savvy expats stop normal activity exactly at 6 p.m. and sing the national anthem, the Himno Nacional. Some may be surprised that this even happens in downtown restaurants and bars. Costa Ricans take their patriotism seriously.

There is a gathering at 6 p.m. at Parque Central where the torch or antorcha is received and the anthem sung, followed by speeches. The torch will be used to ignite a large cauldron.

The U.S. Embassy staff said this week that the facility will be closed Sept. 13 in honor of Costa Rica's independence. So far there has been no effort by the central government to make that Friday a paid holiday, but a presidential decree might be coming. So far Sunday remains a paid holiday for those who normally work that day. Double pay is mandatory for those who work that day.

To avoid economic impact on the private economy, the central government might just declare Friday a day off for public workers. This has happened in the past.

School children already have their orders to participate in a march of faroles Saturday evening. These are the creative representations of street lamps that tradition says Costa Ricans huddled under while they discussed the significance of  independence in 1821. The education ministry said that displays of faroles will take place at every school in the country.

That means many parents will be busy earlier in the day putting the finishing touches on their child's efforts.

Tradition is not fact because the news that the region no longer was part of the Spanish empire did not arrive until Oct. 13 due to the travel time from what was then the capital, Guatemala City.

Region's cultural officials to walk in Limón parade
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An international gathering of culture ministers will meet Saturday in Limón and then participate in the parade that will celebrate the Día de la Persona Negra y la Cultura Costarricense shortly after noon.

The Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud said that culture ministry leaders and their aides were coming from Honduras, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Panamá.

The officials will meet Saturday morning in the building of Correos de Costa Rica, in Limón where the topic will be, among others, the  Orquesta Juvenil Centroamericana and a Caribbean cultural corridor, said the ministry.

The culture corridor is a project of the United
Nations and a host of international organizations as  well as the Costa Rican ministry.

The visitors will be welcomed by the  Comité Cívico Étnico de Limón this afternoon in the  Hotel Maribú Caribe and then attend the 7 p.m. Festival de Gospel in the Black Star Line. There also is what is called Calypso Moon Light at  Playa Los Baños after the festival at 8 p.m.

All these events are open to the public and free.

The culture corridor is a program to promote tourism, research  and dialogue over diversity and to promote an integration of Caribbean culture from Belize to Panamá, also including the Dominican Republic, said the ministry. The region already is unified to some extent by it food, music, dance, architecture and its heritage, the ministry noted.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 172

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Real estate agents and services

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Legal services


Arcelio Hernandez

Official English/Spanish translator and interpreter
Serving the international community  since 2001
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With over a decade of experience in the fields of:
Family law, criminal & constitutional law, civil & commercial law

Visit the website at:
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Specializing in all matters of concern to U.S. taxpayers residing abroad, including all new passport and other
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Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620

Petroleum prices going up,
regulating agency decrees

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Super gasoline will go up 17 colons to 755 colons a liter, and plus gasoline will go up 21 colons to 729 per liter.

That was the word Thursday from the nation's price regulating agency, which sets gasoline costs every month based on the world price of petroleum, the dollar exchange rate and other factors.

There were similar increases for other petroleum products.

Using the exchange rate applied by the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos of 500.64, a gallon of super will cost $5.71. Plus will be $5.51, and diesel will be $4.79 after a 10-colon per liter increase.

The rates take effect when the new prices are published by the la Gaceta official online site. About a third of the price of fuel is taxes.

Bank teller is detained
in $200,000 shortage

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained Thursday a 23-year-old bank teller who is accused of taking up to 100 million colons, about $200,000. The man was detained at a home in  Mercedes Sur de Heredia. Agents said they also confiscated two vehicles and a motorcycle that the man had there.

Agents said the man worked at a bank office inside a business in San Joaquín de Flores. He is accused of having access to the bank computer where payments were posted that, in fact, had not been remitted to the bank.

Fake disease is alleged
in patient scamming case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A physician and a practitioner in natural medicines teamed up to scam patients by telling them they had a disease, judicial agents said Thursday. They arrested the man and a woman in San Isidro en Heredia.

Agents said the man left a job in a public hospital and entered private practice. There he would examine patients. The allegation is that he told them they suffered from some fictitious disease that only the natural medicines could cure. They then went to the woman who charged them 20,000 colons (about $40) for each monthly visit, agents said.

After getting a second opinion, one patient found out that there was no diseases as the physician had claimed,  said the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents said that some patients suffered secondary effects from the natural medicines.

Raid nets four fighting dogs
that came from United States

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Humane Society International said the 14 dogs have been confiscated during a raid last week. The  Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal de Costa and local police were involved, said the organization. Also involved was  American Stafford Costa Rica, according to a release.

What makes this unusual is that four of the animals appear to have come from the United States and are of a bloodline of fighting dogs, Humane Society International, quoting animal health officials.

“The cruelty of dog fights goes beyond the confines of the fighting grounds themselves, virtually translating into lifetimes of mistreatment and pain for countless animals every year," said Cynthia Dent, regional director for Humane Society International/Latin America.

In dog fights, animals are conditioned from an early age to fight to the death, and even when they prevail, dogs used in these events are scarred and permanently maimed, often dying of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion or infection hours or even days after the fight, the organization said.

Recycle location announced

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad de San José  has set up a collection center for reusable and recyclable items that might harbor dengue mosquitoes. The time is form 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.

The location is on Avenida Cuatro pedestrian mall between the main headquarters of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and the  Plaza de las Garantías Sociales to the south.

The municipality is accepting tires, all sorts of plastic containers, aluminum cans. glass bottles and even obsolete electronics,  printers, telephones and charges, the municipality said Thursday.

Learning a new language later
changes brain, new study says

By the  McGill University new service

The age at which children learn a second language can have a significant bearing on the structure of their adult brain, according to a new joint study by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital  at McGill University and Oxford University. Many people learn to speak more than one language during their lifetime and do so with great proficiency particularly if the languages are learned simultaneously or from early in development.

The study concludes that the pattern of brain development is similar if a person learn one or two language from birth. However, learning a second language later on in childhood after gaining proficiency in the first language does, in fact, modify the brain’s structure, specifically the brain’s inferior frontal cortex. The left inferior frontal cortex became thicker and the right inferior frontal cortex became thinner. The cortex is a multi-layered mass of neurons that plays a major role in cognitive functions such as thought, language, consciousness and memory.

The study suggests that the task of acquiring a second language after infancy stimulates new neural growth and connections among neurons in ways seen in acquiring complex motor skills such as juggling. The study’s authors speculate that the difficulty that some people have in learning a second language later in life could be explained at the structural level.

Newcomers meet Tuesday

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Newcomers Club of Costa Rica meets Tuesday in Santa Ana and new members always are welcome, the club said. More information on time and place can be obtained by calling 2203-7840.

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lost dog

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


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 172
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Lawmakers decline to press probe of president's Peruvian flight
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers ended their investigation into President Laura Chinchilla's Peruvian airplane trip Thursday and said they were deferring to the efforts of prosecutors.

The action came in the  Comisión Permanente Especial de Control del Ingreso y Gasto Público after Mauricio Boraschi, the former top anti-drug official testified.

María Ocampo Baltodano, a lawmaker, said it would not be convenient to continue the effort while judicial authorities are investigating the case. Not every committee member agreed and some said they were upset because two key persons, Rolando Fonseca and Gabriel Morales, declined to appear.

In his testimony Boraschi again said that he had no knowledge of the trip on the private place by the president and two ministers. Had he known, he would have advised against it, he said, noting that investigators had been looking into the affairs of Morales  since November 2011.

This is the scandal that cost Boraschi, the president's
communications minister and her top aide their jobs because of the ownership of the plane.

The trip was to Peru to attend a wedding of one of the children of a vice president, but Ms. Chinchilla quickly called on the Peruvian president when questions were being asked in San José. Later officials disclosed that Ms. Chinchilla had used the aircraft in the past.

She said the official were fired for jeopardizing the security of the president But the head of the firm that owns the plane said in Colombia that the Presidencia had pushed to use the craft.

The situation is confusing because Morales appears to have used another name during the time he helped negotiate the use of the aircraft. There has been no clear statement if any laws were broken by the trip, although there is a provision against politicians receiving favors. As is usually the case after a disclosure in a newspaper, prosecutors conducted raids and confiscated a boat with little explanation.

Fonseca is a former soccer star and a neighbor of Morales. the plane is owned by a firm that employs Fonseca, THX Energy.

Distance is relative when you are climbing those hills
A Tico kilometer, I’ve decided, is longer than a mile.  I had the opportunity this week to get out of the city and sample a taste of the surrounding countryside.  This was thanks to the invitation of a member of our writer’s group to meet at his home for a change.  His home is (to this city dweller’s eyes) high in the hills away from anywhere.  To be exact, Chris and his wife live in San Isidro de Grecia. 

Greg picked me up at my apartment in midmorning.  Fortunately, Greg is a very good driver, whose patience was sorely tried after we left the highway and took curve after curve going up, after up on country roads. We had some Tico like landmarks from our host, such as “You will pass a row of really tall palm trees on your right.”  (we saw them on our left), and “you will cross a minor bridge where the road narrows slightly.  So slightly we didn’t even notice.  And just what qualifies as a minor bridge?  One built less than 18 years ago?  We were thankful that we were not part of the train of cars and buses staggering down the hills in the opposite direction.

To enhance the bafflement of this thrilling, yet somewhat monotonous road were the people along our way, including a couple of policemen whom we asked “Are we on the road to Grecia?” Most of their replies amounted to “Yes, just follow this road and ask again in a little while.” The little whiles piled up, and Greg had to put up with my nervous babbling as well as trying to figure out what that strange smell was coming from a probably tired engine.

Yes, we backtracked several times, and a couple of times it paid off because we recognized or thought we did, a landmark that had escaped us.  Finally, we turned on the road that looked like it was going to San Isidrio (we never did find downtown Grecia), and followed the road as instructed, by going  up, up and onward.  It took us two hours and five minutes for the trip.

Of course, their home is beautiful.  The layout was open with a glorious kitchen and elegant dining room in alcoves off the living room.  With vast spaces of greenery below, the view from their terrace was beautiful, too — until the fog settled in and rain began minutes after we arrived.

We learned that traffic to and from Grecia had been diverted that morning so we took the more direct route going home by following Lenny’s sure-footed car almost to the highway.
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

Following is so much easier than leading down or up winding roads.  The trip back, in driving rain and sometimes water covered roads took us just under one hour.  On the highway we were happy once again not to be part of another train of bumper-to-bumper cars buses and trucks leaving the city. Once in the city, the rain had let up and the air was warm.

The experience reminded me again how many mini-climates there are in this small country.  Goldilocks would have no problem finding a place that was just right.  Whether you are looking for the tropics and a seaside villa or a chalet with a fireplace in the mountains, you can find the view, the weather and even the climate that you desire.

You can live near a rain forest or a cloud forest, the Pacific or the Atlantic, in a city and enjoy the opera or a little town and listen to calypso or salsa.  And all of this, thanks to the compactness of the country and the new highways that have been built, is within a couple of hours of something entirely different.

And with it all, for the most part, you will find kind and helpful people who with a smile will tell you to just keep following the road and ask again, or in the case of one policeman we asked, will take the time to mentally count the blocks you should go before turning left.

 Our little trip that prompted my appreciation for the variety of Costa Rica also confirms what I said in the beginning.  Distance is measured in kilometers, not miles, but a kilometer, thanks to the curves and turn backs of country roads, takes a lot longer than say, a U.S. mile.

And once again I am happy that I have chosen the bustle and energy of a city with all of my needs close at hand and a year round spring-like climate, not too hot and not too cold.  Just right, thank you very much.

Del Rey HOtel

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 172
Real Estate
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One temporary bridge nearly finished at site of Circunvalación washout
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's road agency said that the bailey bridge that will carry one lane of Circunvalación traffic over a giant washout would be finished late Thursday.

The span will be 55 meters long, about 180 feet.  The bridge is of modular design, and nine of the anticipated 18 panel have been bolted together, the agency, the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, said in a morning summary.

But Mother Nature may be working faster. The agency said that the ground where the shoulder of the four-lane highway washed out this week was continuing to erode. Eventually there will be two spans side by side to carry one direction of traffic. Contractors are on the job 24 hours a day, and a lot of the work has been below the highway where efforts are being made to halt the erosion and stabilize the soil, said the road agency.

The highway is being closed in both directions from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to give work crews room to do their jobs. The closure is from the traffic signal in Hatillo 8 to a ramp that leads to Ruta 27, the San José-Caldera highway.

At other times there have been three lane in use. Eventually all the lanes will be going over these temporary bridges while workmen excavate the ground underneath to construct a permanent solution.  The site is at the Río María Aguilar one of the metro area's major rivers.

bailey bridge
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
Crane helps place the modular sections of the bridge

Vacation, travel and hospitality
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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.
Geroge's view
An evening View
from George’s Puriscal home
Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money.  Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk
Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.

Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Steve and Debbie Legg
Toll Free: 1-888-828-9245       In Costa Rica: (506)-2478-0023 or 8333-6863

Our Vision at Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat is to create the perfect blend of Adventure, Discovery and Tranquility for each guest.  Plan an Adventure zooming along a zip line high in the canopy or horseback riding though forests, farms and rivers. Discover the magical wonders of the flora and fauna of Costa Rica. Experience Tranquility in one of our cabins tucked in our 26 acres. Located in Monterrey, San Carlos, in the mountains above Fortuna, we enjoy spectacular, panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano and its lava flow. Please see our Web site for more information. or e-mail us at

Ready For a Vacation to Costa Rica? offers customized, upscale vacations to Costa Rica, planned by our team of in-country travel experts. Call us Toll Free: 1-800-606-1860 or locally in San Jose: 2296-7715.  We also offer trips to Panama, visit: Are you a fisherman? Our local experts will help arrange fishing trips to Costa Rica, just click HERE!

Ready For a Vacation to Costa Rica? offers customized, upscale vacations to Costa Rica, planned by our team of in-country travel experts. Call us Toll Free: 1-800-606-1860 or locally in San Jose: 2296-7715.  We also offer trips to Panama, visit: Are you a fisherman? Our local experts will help arrange fishing trips to Costa Rica, just click HERE!

Costa Rica’s #1 Time –Tested Relocation/Retirement Tours
Christopher Howard's Award-winning Combination Relocation/Retirement Tour. NO other retirement tour offers MORE options...MORE areas visited, MORE information, MORE people just like you who have made the move and a LONGER
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Christ Howard with Max
retiring in Costa Rica,  and who has personally helped over 10,000 people with ALL BUDGETS relocate SUCCESSFULLY over the last 35 years. CUSTOM TAILOR-MADE TOURS are also available for people with special needs or who can’t take one of our fixed-date tours. ALL tours include EXTENSIVE touring and a highly informative SEMINAR by the country’s most renowned EXPERTS in their respective fields. Also visit: Live in Costa Rica to check out our NEW tour prices and specials.  Customer satisfaction 100% guaranteed! MY REFERENCES.

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Howard Spanish cover


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Ready For a Vacation to Costa Rica? offers customized, upscale vacations to Costa Rica, planned by our team of in-country travel experts. Call us Toll Free: 1-800-606-1860 or locally in San Jose: 2296-7715.  We also offer trips to Panama, visit: Are you a fisherman? Our local experts will help arrange fishing trips to Costa Rica, just click HERE!

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Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Real estate wanted

Real estate rental services (paid category)

See our listing of real estate brokers on the for-sale page.

Real estate for rent (paid category)
COMPLETELY and nicely furnished apartments
apartment view
in San José, and one condo in Escazú. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Both convenient locations. No pets. $600 per month. Contact: or call 8555-9819.

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part 
of Costa Rica. We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442.

prime properties
We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

Lovely cottage on private coffee farm
One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed DSL internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone line,
Sarchi cottage
balcony with beautiful view, especially at night with the far off lights of San José. Farm is gated and guarded, private and peaceful, owner on-site. Sarchi is a quiet small town about 30-40 min from the airport, a perfect base to explore from and also get a
feel for normal, day-to-day Tico life. Rental is $575 per month, 3 months minimum. All utilities included. Shorter stays at $45 per night, 2 nights minimum. $225 per week, and $30 per additional night. Sorry, no pets.  Contact or 8308-7732.

Barrio Escalante, totally furnished, 1 BR apartment for single, responsible person. $35 daily, weekly rates. Contact 8385-2542,

1 bedroom with private bath. Rooms in large, 3.000 sq ft. historical mansion in heart of Barrio Amón.  Prices starting at $350. for long-term. Smoking ok in common areas. Includes electricity, water, commercial kitchen use, laundry, high-speed internet. 7078-6985. More info HERE!

COMPLETELY and nicely furnished apartments
apartment view
in San José, and one condo in Escazú. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Both convenient locations. No pets. $600 per month. Contact: or call 8555-9819.

We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

Beautiful Golfito house for rent in Costa Rica: $300/month
Available now and please see the video!
New construction includes some wooden stairs to the main gate and a small pavilion above the house overlooking the village. The distance to Golfito harbor/downtown is 7 kms and you can get there by car, taxi or bus. The sale price is $72,000 which is negotiable and includes the property lot of 26,000 sq, ft, for more houses. The rent is $300/month, which is very reasonable for those who want to live near sea and Panamá in an inexpensive lifestyle. It was so nice to live near Panamá where people can shop for much lower prices including for groceries. Please contact me at for more details. Thank you.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 172
Real Estate
About us

Newspaper cites Snowden
in listing U.S. black budget

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has leaked a new top-secret document that for the first time discloses how the United States spends tens of billions of dollars annually on spy programs.
The Washington Post Thursday revealed the $52.6 billion black budget set aside for operations in fiscal year 2013.
Although the U.S. government annually reveals overall intelligence spending, the 178-page document breaks down how much money goes to which agency and, to a certain extent, what those agencies do with the funds. The newspaper reported that Snowden was the source of the document.
According to the Post, the Central Intelligence Agency receives the most funding with a proposed budget of $14.7 billion for 2013.  That is more than 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency, Snowden's former employer.
Although the newspaper published graphs and charts tracking the spending of each of the intelligence community's 16 agencies, it said it withheld "some information after consultation with U.S. officials who expressed concerns about the risk to intelligence sources and methods."
The funding pays for an array of spy satellites, high-tech equipment and employees, including analysts, linguists, cryptologists and an increasing number of cyber specialists.
Snowden, the source behind the most massive intelligence leak in U.S. history, fled Hawaii three months ago with a trove of secrets. He is now living in temporary asylum in Russia, even as U.S. authorities have sought his extradition to face espionage charges.

Road show for Christian women
brings an encouraging message

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The venue looks like a rock concert. But the songs are about Jesus, and the huge crowd in the sports arena is almost exclusively female.
The 24-city Believe God Can Do Anything tour is sponsored by the non-denominational group, Women of Faith, which has been staging such inspirational events since 1996.
At the Verizon Center sports arena in Washington, D.C., the two-day event combined Christian rock music with a soothing message for American women stressed by the demands of modern-day living.
“Do you get that God loves - you?” preacher Sheila Walsh asked the audience as the first musical act wrapped up, “that God is committed to showing up in your life?”
Ms. Walsh was born in Scotland and now lives in Texas. She used to co-host the The "700 Club" television show on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
She is one of several so-called Bible teachers who take the stage. In an interview, she says she joined Women of Faith because she wants to help women cope. Her message is: “Be yourself.  If that means you’re going to be the best career woman out there, then you go do it. If you want to be the best home-schooling mother, you do that,” said Ms. Walsh.
America is in the throes of a debate over how women in the United States should balance work and family.
Conservative Christian churches have long taught that women should primarily be mothers and homemakers, but Judith Warner, a fellow at the Center for American Progress and a bestselling author of books on women’s issues, says the recession and the increasing costs of health and child care have rendered that model obsolete.
“The divisions that we saw so strongly in the culture wars of 20 years ago,” she says, “where we had stay-at-home moms pitted against working moms, and we had feminists accused of bringing about the ruin of the American family by putting working women to work — that stuff is largely over,” she says.
Now, Ms. Warner says, religious and secular women are both struggling.
“In some ways, the churches have moved forward with the times more than some of our other institutions,” she said, adding that more than one quarter of children under the age of 5 who are in day care are in churches, synagogues and other places of worship. And while liberal churches are more symbolically in favor of flexible gender roles, conservative churches offer more family-friendly programs, says Ms. Warner.
“They’ve really been really active in supporting working families,” she added.
At the Women of Faith event, Stella Lee stood in the front row and sang along with the inspirational music.
“As a woman, as a mom, as a wife, as a worker, we get so busy and so many times we get completely drained," she said. "When I come here, I look around at all the other women of different races, different ages. I just get encouraged.”
During a break, Ms. Walsh, the preacher, rejected the traditional view that a devout woman’s place is solely in the home.
“There are so many ways to be fruitful and multiply,” she said. Ms. Walsh said she believes scripture places men and women side by side. She does, however, argue that secular feminism has led women to believe they can have it all, while popular culture is putting unrealistic demands on them.
“Our culture says that a woman is judged by how she looks on the outside, by how she dresses and how she presents herself, by her dress size and what her skin looks like and whether her hair is waving in the wind. What we’re telling women is, at the very core of who you are, you are seen and valued by God," she said. "The rest is just window dressing.”

Scientists find a protein
to defeat senior moments

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists have good news for all the older adults who occasionally forget why they walked into a room — and panic that they are getting Alzheimer's disease.

Not only is age-related memory loss a syndrome in its own right and completely unrelated to that dread disease, but unlike Alzheimer's it may be reversible or even preventable, researchers led by a Nobel laureate said in a study published Wednesday.

Using human brains that had been donated to science as well as the brains of lab mice, the study for the first time pinpointed the molecular defects that cause cognitive aging.

In an unusual ray of hope for a field that has had almost nothing to offer older adults whose memory is failing, the study's authors conclude that drugs, foods or even behaviors might be identified that affect those molecular mechanisms, helping to restore memory.

Any such interventions would represent a significant advance over the paltry offerings science has come up with so far to prevent memory decline, such as advice to keep cognitively active and healthy — which helps some people, but not all, and has only a flimsy scientific foundation. By identifying the where did I park the car? molecule, the discovery could also kick-start the mostly moribund efforts to develop drugs to slow or roll back the memory lapses that accompany normal aging.

“This is a lovely set of studies,” said Molly Wagster of the National Institute on Aging, an expert on normal age-related memory decline who was not involved in the new study. “They provide clues to the underlying mechanism of age-related memory decline and will, hopefully, move us down the road toward targeted therapeutics.”

About 40 percent of Americans age 85 and older say they experience some memory loss, a 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center found, as did 27 percent of those 75 to 84 and 20 percent of those ages 65 to 74.

The researchers began with eight brains from the New York Brain Bank at Columbia University donated by people aged 33 to 88 who were free of brain disease when they died. They extracted two structures in the hippocampus, a vital cog in the brain's memory machinery: the dentate gyrus, a boomerang-shaped region whose function declines with age but is not affected by Alzheimer's, and the entorhinal cortex, which is largely unaffected by aging but is where Alzheimer's first takes hold, killing neurons.

The scientists then measured which genes had been active in each structure, and found one suspicious difference: 17 genes in the dentate gyrus became more active, or less, as the age of the brain increased.

The most significant change was that the gene for a protein called RbAp48 had essentially retired: The gene's activity tailed off dramatically the older a brain got. As a result, old brains had about half the RbAp48 of young brains, the scientists report online in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The scientists then sampled 10 more healthy human brains, ranging from 41 to 89 years at the time of death. Once again, the amount of RbAp48 protein declined with age in the dentate gyrus. They next confirmed that RbAp48 protein was also less abundant in the dentate gyrus of old mice compared to young ones.

For the final step, the scientists had to nail down whether the missing protein caused age-related memory loss. They genetically engineered mice whose RbAp48 genes were disabled. Result: The young mice had memories as poor as animals four times their age (the mouse equivalent of late middle age), and they had terrible trouble navigating a water maze or differentiating objects they had seen before from novel ones.

Crucially, the scientists also did the reverse experiment, engineering mice so their brains had extra doses of RbAp48. The mice's memories returned to the flower of youth.

“With RbAp48, we were able to reverse age-related memory loss in the mice,” said Columbia's Eric Kandel, who shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries of the molecular basis of memory and led the research. “Unlike in Alzheimer's, there is no significant cell death in age-related memory loss, which gives us hope it can be prevented or reversed.”

Exactly how RbAp48 does that is not clear. The protein acts as a sort of genetic master key: By causing chromosomes to loosen their hold on the molecular spool they are wound around like thread, it allows genes to be turned on. Among the activated genes, Kandel explained, are those involved in forming memories.

The emerging picture is that levels of RbAp48 decline with age, allowing chromosomes to maintain a death grip on their spools. Memory genes remain dormant.

The researchers plan to see what social and dietary factors might boost RbAp48 in mice, said Kandel, who will be 84 in November. Pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, physical and cognitive exercise are all candidates, said Columbia's  Scott Small, co-senior author of the study.

Testing such interventions in mice should be more useful to humans than tests of drugs for Alzheimer's, he said. RbAp48 is different, Small said. “Alzheimer's does not occur naturally in the mouse. Here, we've caused age-related memory loss in the mouse, and we've shown it to be relevant to human aging.”

Farmers in Colombia march
to protest growing poverty

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Thousands of Colombian farmers and state workers marched through Bogota Thursday, banging pots and pans as they converged on the capital after 11 days of increasingly violent protests against agricultural and trade policies they say have left them impoverished.
Students wearing balaclavas pelted shop windows with rocks near the capital's main square and clashed with riot police who fired tear gas to disperse them.
“Long live the farmers' strike! Food sovereignty,” they chanted, holding up protest banners.
President Juan Manuel Santos, who has been unable to end the so-called national strike that has united potato growers, milk producers, teachers and health workers, acknowledged agriculture is in crisis, but called for peaceful dissent while talks about possible solutions are going on.
“The farm sector has been abandoned,” the center-right president said in a televised address early Thursday. “The protests are valid ... but, via dialogue, we will resolve the problems ... We are in a storm, but we will persevere.”
Protesters wearing typical farmer attire of woolen ponchos, brimmed hats and rubber boots to show their solidarity, marched in 15 columns toward the Plaza Bolivar, where the presidential palace and Congress are located.
Farmers have blocked roads, snarling city-bound traffic and pressuring Santos three months before he must decide whether to run for a second term. The government's tough peace negotiations with Marxist rebels are creating their own contentious national debate at the same time.
“My purchase power is zero, it's only enough to survive,” said Orlando Pamo, 50, an father of six from central Tolima province who earns less than the minimum wage farming citrus and other fruits. “The government wants us off the land so it can be given to big business. We don't get the benefits companies get.”
Santos said he will lift import duties on 23 products, including some fertilizers and pesticides, to help lower crop production costs. He also is working to find more permanent solutions for the farm sector's problems.
Clashes between police and protesters over removal of the barricades resulted in at least one death and scores of injuries and arrests since the strike began on Aug. 19.
Looting was reported in several towns and blocked roads have prevented food getting to market, raising prices for consumers. Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon has accused the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia rebels of infiltrating the protests and seeking to rope peaceful farmers into their struggle against the government.
“Please, let's not fall into the hands of the violent,” said Santos. “Do not allow them to gain strength from these protests because it will distort the entire meaning of the demonstration and it leads to unnecessary confrontations that have led to deaths.”
The already grueling life of farming families has become harder in recent years since income from harvests has failed to cover costs of fertilizers and transportation.
Potato, corn and milk producers complain that free trade agreements with Europe and the United States have made it  almost impossible to compete with cheaper imports. Droughts followed by unusually heavy rains have also made farming conditions difficult over the past several years.
The demonstrations are the second wave of national strikes this year against agricultural and economic policies.
“More demonstrations will follow in the coming days if there is no response from the government,” said Julio Roberto Gómez, head of the nation's second biggest union confederation, as protesters banged pots and pans behind him.
Even though Santos has made improving the conditions of the poor and cutting the jobless rate a priority, difficulties for farmers are unlikely to change in the coming months.
Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said it would be impossible to meet all demands from the different protest groups.
“The country is on the right track and the economy is an example worldwide,” he said on local radio. “But if you add up everything they want, there's no way to give them it all. They are seeking significant resources. There isn't enough money to cover the demands of all the sectors.”

Drug cartel leader blamed
for 350 murders after arrest

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A suspected lieutenant of Mexico's most-wanted drug lord captured this week likely is responsible for at least 350 murders, the government said Thursday.

Mario Nuñez, a/k/a/ “El Mayito” or “M-10,” was believed to be the operations chief of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman in Chihuahua, a state bordering the United States that has been wracked by drug-related violence during the past few years.

“This person is related to, and believed to be responsible for, the murder of more than 350 people recovered from 23 hidden mass graves,” said government national security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez of Nuñez.

Known in Mexico as El Chapo, Guzman heads the Sinaloa Cartel, which is widely regarded as the country's most powerful drug-running organization.

Chihuahua is home to Ciudad Juárez, a sprawling border metropolis that became notorious in recent years as one of the most violent cities in the world. Police arrested Nuñez, a former policeman in the city, in Ciudad Juárez Tuesday.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.

For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112.

Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert
Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
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The #1 Authority in Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica real estate
Since 1996, CRREC has been providing the most valuable resource for discovering real estate in Costa Rica. Our Costa Rica properties database contains some of the most exclusive and hard to find properties in the country. Not to mention how affordable some of our Costa Rica homes for sale are. So if you're in the market for Costa Rica real estate then we encourage you to
visit our Costa Rica MLS and discover for yourself why people call CRREC the #1 authority in Costa Rica real estate.
Call Today @ 506-2654-5507 (Costa Rica) or 1-888-414-1836 (Toll-Free) Email:

Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.
Grecia estate
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
Sarchi home
Modern three-bedroon home in San Rafael de Sarchí. Cick HERE!
 Great deals for you!
Visit our Web Site:
 English: (Cristian Arce)
English:  (Luis Arce)
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)

   (506) 8309-0173
   (506) 7100-8489
   (506) 8707-4016

  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Nicoya views
Maui, 50 years ago!
One acre with all services located on the Nicoya Peninsula at about 2,400 feet below cloud level with the most intriguing panoramic views to the picturesque gulf, mountains and valleys, as well as sunset over the Pacific. 60,000 USD,    Cell 8916-5550.

Five bedroom home
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Price reduced $100,000 for quick sale. Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach. The home is completely furnished with U.S. products. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances.  To see more, go to YouTube
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email

humming bird nest

Bed & Breakfast for sale and personal home with 2 houses on property of 3/4 acre (3,030 m2) and buildings w/verandas & carport approximately 350 m2. One house at entrance is central to village w/gated parking lot and a 3-bedroom house for rental or employees/family w/carport/yard/gardens. A 50-meter sendero winds to the top among lush gardens where the main house is situated w/2 buildings attached by verandas & stairway to second floor.  There are 2 bedrooms, sala, 4 baths, large kitchen, laundry rooms, work bodega, storage bodega and hot tub on veranda w/tiled shower room.  Home is surrounded by tropical gardens, views of Arenal Volcano, panoramic views of Lake Arenal, private w/school owned property on one side, pasture land on back side and connecting entry gate on other side to Cabinas El Castillo & Fusion Restaurant.  A bird watcher's paradise w/hummingbirds, Montezuma, toucans, butterflies and visits from howler monkeys.  The B&B is listed four consecutive editions of Lonely Planet and the first established B&B in this area.  Photos can be viewed on the Web site:  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email:

Liberia farm
Must Sell - Immediately
Guanacaste - Liberia Farm

9 hectares (24 acres)
$ 0.66 cents per square meter
Riverfront property and amazing views of 3 volcanoes
10 minutes from Liberia center
$59,500 plus all legal fees

Naranjo views


4254 msq. 1.2 acres - $59,000.00
• 10 minutes to the autopista and Naranjo centro
• Tranquil and Quiet
• Landscaped with fruit trees and flowering plants, and coffee#
• Incredible views - The Central Valley and nature reserve
• Close to public transportation - paved main road
• Building pad prepared and soil tested
• Survey/topo
• All services in place and underground - water/electricity/phone

Playa Palo Seco - Gorgeous beachfront 2-story home of roughly 2,000 square feet set on a half acre ocean front full of beautiful fruit and shade trees in Playa Palo Seco.
Playa Paol Seco
This home features two bedrooms, three full baths, high quality A/C units, huge front and backyard, and of course, a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean just feet away from the front door! Playa Palo Seco is only minutes from  the tourist hot spot Jacó but far enough away to be quiet and tranquil. This is an incredible opportunity at $150,000! Owner financing is available! Visit for more information!

El Castillo - Up to 60-acre tract with breathtaking views of Volcán Arenal and Lake
Arenal are available. Multiple GORGEOUS home building sites are scattered throughout this area. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind piece of land that cannot be replicated. Perfectly suited for either real estate investment, homebuilding, or even a resort. Owner financing  is available! Please visit us at for more information!

San Ramon - Beautiful tracts of land of all shapes and sizes for sale in the San Ramón
San Ramon
area. Vista Rica Realty has been in the business for over 20 years which allows us to outcompete in not only selection, but also price. Oceanview homesites from only $30,000 with easy access to San Ramón. Up to 90-hectare fincas perfect for raising cattle or an off-the-grid project. Owner financing is available! Please visit us at for more information!

Guiones retreat
Approximately half acre on the beach with private path to the surf. Very private three-home complex with pool, spacious patios with two wet bars, barbeque and yoga area. Featuring a three-bedroom ranch style home plus a two story Mexican villa style home with two master suites, large kitchen and living area with ocean views and breezes upstairs and a garden apartment downstairs with separate entrance. A caretaker's or teenager's cottage and lots of space for expansion. PRICED FOR QUICK SALE: $899,000.  Call 506 8867-8883 or

Beautiful fully renovated house in Bello Horizonte, Escazu, 446 sq. meters. Four bedrooms; four baths. Price includes all furniture and fixtures - ready to move in! Light, bright and airy....$550,000 USD. Telephone 2288.6451. More details HERE!

Condo for sale in Flamingo

Ocean view 3-bedroom, 3 1/2-bathroom condo. Designer furnished 1,800 square feet, gated community. Only six units. Huge pool and balcony, pet friendly, parking, walking distance to Flamingo beach, banks, grocery store, farmacia, etc. New building. $349,000 asking. Ask for photos. 8705-0056. or 1-800-536-2322.

Guaancaate condos
Little Dreams La Colina Magnolias

Great Guanacaste Beach Condos Available

$28,500 - Little Dreams - Ocotal beach studio condo, furnished upper floor condo in great complex just 1 mile from Ocotal beach, 2 miles from Coco beach, great price for this complex.
$70,000 - La Colina - another Ocotal beach 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo, 80 m2 and fully furnished with upgraded kitchen, complex has Infinity pool, mountain views.

$75,000 Magnolias 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhome just 1 minute's walk from Coco beach and the 2 beach clubs in Coco. Nicely furnished, walk to town, 67 m2, perfect location.
Find out more information on these and other condos at my website All 3 of these condos are about 35 minutes away from Liberia Intl. airport, no need to drive a long way to get to your condo.  Call for more information, 1-415-670-9382 or 011-506-826-1211. Or email

Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

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

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 172
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Marijuana's effect on youth
said to be strongly negative

By the Universite de Montreal new staff

The nature of the teenage brain makes users of cannabis among this population particularly at risk of developing addictive behaviors and suffering other long-term negative effects, according to researchers at the University of Montreal and New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“Of the illicit drugs, cannabis is most used by teenagers since it is perceived by many to be of little harm. This perception has led to a growing number of states approving its legalization and increased accessibility. Most of the debates and ensuing policies regarding cannabis were done without consideration of its impact on one of the most vulnerable population, namely teens, or without consideration of scientific data,” wrote Didier Jutras-Aswad of the University of Montreal and Yasmin Hurd of Mount Sinai.

“While it is clear that more systematic scientific studies are needed to understand the long-term impact of adolescent cannabis exposure on brain and behavior, the current evidence suggests that it has a far-reaching influence on adult addictive behaviors particularly for certain subsets of vulnerable individuals,” they said.

The researchers reviewed over 120 studies that looked at different aspects of the relationship between cannabis and the adolescent brain, including the biology of the brain, chemical reaction that occurs in the brain when the drug is used, the influence of genetics and environmental factors, in addition to studies into the gateway drug phenomenon.

“Data from epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown an association between cannabis use and subsequent addiction to heavy drugs and psychosis (i.e. schizophrenia). Interestingly, the risk to develop such disorders after cannabis exposure is not the same for all individuals and is correlated with genetic factors, the intensity of cannabis use and the age at which it occurs. When the first exposure occurs in younger versus older adolescents, the impact of cannabis seems to be worse in regard to many outcomes such as mental health, education attainment, delinquency and ability to conform to adult role,” Jutras-Aswad said.

Although it is difficult to confirm in all certainty a causal link between drug consumption and the resulting behavior, the researchers note that rat models enable scientists to explore and directly observe the same chemical reactions that happen in human brains. Cannabis interacts with the brain through chemical receptors. These receptors are situated in the areas of the brain that govern learning and management of rewards, motivated behavior, decision-making, habit formation and motor function. A

s the structure of the brain changes rapidly during adolescence (before settling in adulthood, scientists said they believe that the cannabis consumption at this time greatly influences the way these parts of the user’s personality develop. In adolescent rat models, scientists have been able to observe differences in the chemical pathways that govern addiction and vulnerability – a receptor in the brain known as the dopamine D2 receptor is well known to be less present in cases of substance abuse.

Only a minority, approximately one in four, of teenage users of cannabis will develop an abusive or dependent relationship with the drug. This suggests to the researchers that specific genetic and behavioral factors influence the likelihood that the drug use will continue. Studies have also shown that cannabis dependence can be inherited through the genes that produce the cannabinoid receptors and an enzyme involved in the processing of THC. Other psychological factors are also likely involved.

“Individuals who will develop cannabis dependence generally report a temperament characterized by negative affect, aggressitivity and impulsivity, from an early age. Some of these traits are often exacerbated with years of cannabis use, which suggests that users become trapped in a vicious cycle of self-medication, which in turn becomes a dependence” Jutras-Aswad said.

The researchers stress that while a lot remains unknown about the mechanics of cannabis abuse, the body of existing research has clear implications for society.

“It is now clear from the scientific data that cannabis is not harmless to the adolescent brain, specifically those who are most vulnerable from a genetic or psychological standpoint. Identifying these vulnerable adolescents, including through genetic or psychological screening, may be critical for prevention and early intervention of addiction and psychiatric disorders related to cannabis use. The objective is not to fuel the debate about whether cannabis is good or bad, but instead to identify those individuals who might most suffer from its deleterious effects and provide adequate measures to prevent this risk” Jutras-Aswad said.

“Continuing research should be performed to inform public policy in this area. Without such systematic, evidenced-based research to understand the long-term effects of cannabis on the developing brain, not only the legal status of cannabis will be determined on uncertain ground, but we will not be able to innovate effective treatments such as the medicinal use of cannabis plant components that might be beneficial for treating specific disorders,” Hurd said.

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From Page 7:

U.S. economy better than expected

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. economy is growing faster than first estimated.

A report Thursday from the Commerce Department says the country's economic output increased at a 2.5 percent annual rate between April and June. That is faster than earlier estimates and more than double the 1.1 percent growth rate in the first quarter.

The Commerce Department said the economy gained momentum on the strength of exports that were larger than previously estimated, while the increase in imports was less than first calculated.

The government also said that personal consumption spending was up. That is a key consideration, since consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the American economy, the world's largest. Increased consumer spending helped offset cuts in government expenditures throughout the country.

In another report, the government said that initial claims for jobless benefits fell last week, a sign the country's labor market is continuing to improve, with businesses laying off fewer workers. The U.S. said 331,000 people sought unemployment compensation, down 6,000 from the week before.

The country's central bank, the Federal Reserve, is closely watching economic trends as its weighs whether to start cutting its $85-billion-a-month purchase of securities to boost the country's recovery from the depths of the recession several years ago. The Fed has said it could start to pare back its stimulus measures in the coming months if the economy continues to improve, although the national unemployment rate remains high at 7.4 percent.