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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, in Vol. 13, No. 209                 Email us
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Cascata del Bosco




Coffee chamber seeking to regain market share
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cámara de Tostadores de Café has launched a campaign “Viva el Café” to stimulate consumption within the country. The chamber said that Costa Ricans are the second biggest market for the country's coffee.

José Manuel Hernando, chamber president, was quoted as saying in a release that coffee also felt the effects of the economic deacceleration. He said coffee producers and marketers were challenged to maintain the preference for coffee in the face of other drinks and the family budget.

Local consumption dropped from 420,000 sacks in the 2006 to 2007 harvest to 403,752 sacks in 2012 to 2013, said the chamber. The purpose of the campaign is to tell the consumer about the benefits of coffee as a natural drink, Hernando added. Bags run from 60 to 70 kilos each.

The chamber is investing 50 million colons, about $100,000 in the campaign raised from the members.

The messages are in Spanish, but say "Drink coffee and live with energy. Try it before exercise," "Drink coffee and live connected. Drink it before going to work or studying" and "Drink coffee and live with passion: You will begin with the energy that natural coffee gives
coffee campaign
Coffee campaign logo

you." The slogans are much more effective in Spanish.

Among other venues, the campaign will be posted in buses. Hernando said that chamber members provide about 95 percent of the coffee consumed here. He said that in addition to the economy, the industry faces problems from the roya de cafe epidemic in which a coffee rust fungus damages the plant.



Legislature passes convention on domestic workers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers have approved for the second and final time a binding agreement or convention with the U.N. International Labour Organization to safeguard domestic employees.

The net effect of the action, when it is approved by President Laura Chinchilla is to provide another layer of protection to what the legislature estimates are 13,113 men and 122,400 women working in 134,512 households.

Costa Rica appears to conform to much of what is required in the treaty, which was approved in 2011. For example, Article 4 of the agreement demands that member states set age limits for child labor. Costa Rica already has a law that prohibits youngsters younger than 15 from working in the home and prohibits those under 18 from living there.

Major themes of the agreement are to provide protection from any form of labor harassment or sexual abuse. The agreement also stipulated that a domestic worker must have 24 continuous hours of free time each week. Workers also are guaranteed certain rights like a work contract and a safe and healthy workplace.

Domestic workers also can decide if they will live at the household. Also provided are effective access to the courts and a system for filing complaints.

The legislature said that the Labour Organization estimated that 12.3 percent of working females in the country are in domestic service. The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería reported that about 20 percent of these are foreigners.

Costa Rica made some changes in its labor code in 2009 that satisfies some of the agreement's requirements.
domestic
                        worker
There are 122,400 of these female workers

There is at least one glaring omission.

The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social estimated that only 12.9 percent of domestic workers are insured under the Caja system. A summary of the law said that this situation merits attention by lawmakers and the Caja.

One problem is that the Caja allows those who work less than eight hours a day to insure themselves as an independent contractor, said the summary.

The worker ends up paying more than the employer would pay because of the way the Caja figures contributions, the summary said.

The agreement also established equality for domestic workers with others in the labor field. Costa Rica includes domestic workers in its minimum wage laws, but some of the salary can be offset by meals and living quarters. And, too, most domestic workers are not fully aware of the provision of the law.


New amnesty declared for illegal laborers until Aug. 1
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Illegal immigrants in agriculture, construction and domestic service will get another chance to become legal with a new amnesty decreed by the central government Monday.

These workers have 10 months to file the required paperwork, including a certification by their own embassy. The bulk of this labor force is in the country on an expired tourist visa, the government said.

The amnesty is not for most expats. Women who
 apply must be from a Central American country and be in domestic service.  All applicants will have to show they have been working in Costa Rica since Sept, 18.

Illegal workers will be subject to a $100 fine starting next Aug. 1 at the expiration of the amnesty period, said a government announcement that added that employers also would be fined.

Freddy Montero Mora, a vice minister of Gobernación y Policía, said the amnesty was designed to promote social justice.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Oct. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 209

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


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Sala IV declines to rule
on Infinito's legal situation


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has rejected an appeal by Industrias Infinito S.A. to mediate the differences among decisions by the court itself, the Sala I and the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo.

The Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo annulled the company's concession to develop an open pit gold mine in northern San José after the Sala IV had validated the concession. The Sala I upheld the Tribunal's decision even though it conflicted with that of the Sala IV.

The constitutional court appears to have ducked considering the issues of the case. A summary from the Poder Judicial said that the case was rejected because it did not have the basic requirements of admissibility as contained in the Law.

Infinito is a subsidiary of Infinito Gold Ltd. of Canada. The firm is expected to begin international arbitration now that it has exhausted its remedies in Costa Rica. The mine site is known as Crucitas.

Last April 4 the company president, John Morgan, issued a statement noting that the company has served notice that it considers Costa Rica to be in breach of the trade treaty because a series of conflicting court rulings ended with the annulment of the concession to mine gold. The six-month period stipulated for conciliation in a trade treaty between Canada and Costa Rica expired earlier this month

The case was the subject of lengthy protests by students and environmental activists. The company was accused of cutting protected trees to create a spot for its pit mine, but the concession predates the decision to protect the trees.

Morgan's statement outlined the conflicting views of Costa Rica politicians and the courts. For example, then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez issued a decree saying that the open pit gold mining project was in the national interest. And the Sala IV constitutional court ruled in April 2010 that all the objections raised against the company were without merit.

But the following November, a lower court, the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, voted to annul the concession, and this was upheld by the Sala I of the same Corte Suprema de Justicia.

When it goes to the World Court's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, the company has told government officials that it will seek slightly more than $1 billion.
.

Lawmakers appeal on raid
rejected by Sala IV court

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV has rejected an appeal placed by Justo Orozco, the legislative deputy.

The lawmaker filed an appeal against the nation's chief prosecutor, the Judicial Investigating Organization, the Sala III of the Corte Suprema de Justicia and the president of the Asamblea Legislativa,  for letting investigators enter and search his office.

The lawmaker based his appeal on the separation of powers. He had been accused of conducting his notary business of marriages and divorces in his legislative office. That is something that is not legal.

Investigators took personal items, his computer and his notary book. He is the sole representative of the political party Renovación Costarricense in the legislature. He is an evangelical pastor.

Orozco has gained notoriety because of his opposition to homosexuality. That situation sparked protest when he became head of the legislative human rights committee. His outspoken position earned him the title of a national shame from the Spanish language daily La Nación.

The court said that the investigation has not finished and that there was no restriction on the lawmaker's liberty that required habeas corpus.


Amnesty International cites
threats against protesters


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Colombian paramilitary group threatens native protesters with social cleansing. Amnesty International said Monday.
 
There are serious ongoing concerns for the safety of indigenous protesters in Colombia amid escalating violence against them by the security forces and after their leaders received a death threat from a right-wing paramilitary group, Amnesty International said.
 
Dozens of indigenous protesters, including many children, have already been injured when Colombian security forces appear to have used excessive force against the demonstrations, which started Oct. 12 and continue in several regions of the country, the organization said.

Fears of further violence have been compounded in the past week after the Rastrojos paramilitary group called for social cleansing of native leaders and groups involved in the protests, said Amnesty.
 
“Most of the evidence gathered by Amnesty International in several parts of Colombia points to a deeply worrying and largely disproportionate use of force against the indigenous protesters by the police and the armed forces,” said Marcelo Pollack, Amnesty International researcher on Colombia.
 
“The Colombian authorities must ensure the violence against the protesters is stopped and death threats by paramilitary groups, as well as the allegations of excessive use of force, are promptly and thoroughly investigated. Those responsible must be brought to justice in civilian – not military – courts. Failure to do so could pave the way for more casualties as the protests continue.”
 
Since Oct. 12, thousands of native people have been demonstrating in several Colombian regions. They are demanding respect for their rights which are increasingly threatened as mining, oil and other economic interests encroach on their traditional lands, Amnesty said.
 
This wave of protests has prompted a violent response by the Colombian security forces, with some of the most serious incidents taking place in the south-western Colombian regions of Cauca and Valle del Cauca. In one confrontation 60 persons suffered injuries, Amnesty said.


U.S. nears 2013 ceiling
in resettling 69,930 refugees


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United States announced Monday it brought 69,930 refugees to safety and new lives in the United States in fiscal year 2013. That number is closer to the authorized ceiling of 70,000 in 2013 than in any year since 1980. Reaching this threshold is a demonstration of the administration’s efforts to create a refugee admissions program which meets the important security screening standards required by the American people and the growing humanitarian need, said the U.S. State Department.

The top five nationalities resettled to the United States in 2013 were Iraqi, Burmese, Bhutanese, Somali, and Cuban, the department said.

The Barack Obama Administration is committed to maintaining a strong refugee admissions program as an integral component of our effort to offer protection to some of the world’s most vulnerable people, the department said. Their presence makes the country more diverse, the culture richer, and the national character stronger, it added

For fiscal year 2014, the President authorized the admission of up to 70,000 refugees from around the world. The department said it expects to admit more than 60 nationalities with continued strong arrivals from Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan. The department also is working to increase Congolese and Syrian arrivals given the numbers in need of protection through resettlement, it said. As the country enters fiscal year 2014, the department said it remains committed to doing everything in its power to live up to our values and to meet the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people.

The commitment to Iraqi refugees and those who worked with U.S. troops and the U.S. government continues, as evidenced by admitting over 19,000 Iraqis, the highest annual level since the program began in 2007, said the department. Through use of transit centers hosted by the governments of Romania and Slovakia, the United States has been able to resettle Iraqi refugees trapped by the war in Syria as well as at-risk Afghan women who were formerly in Iran, it said.

Refugees were resettled in 186 communities in 49 states, said the department.


Education ministry conducts
forum on sexuality program


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The education ministry hosted 200 persons in San Antonio de Belén Monday to talk about sexuality and programs in the schools.

The Ministerio de Educación Pública had invited foreign experts including Juan Luis Álvarez Gayou, director del Instituto Mexicano de Sexología.

The ministry is trying to put together what it calls an integral program that combines sexuality, spirituality and the promotion of mature emotions, it said. Teaching about sex in the public schools has been controversial.


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Contractor picked for $6.3 million Circunvalación bridge job
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's road agency has picked a contractor to provide a final solution to the collapse of the Circunvalación between Pavas and Hatillo.

The 3.2 billion-colon job is expected to be done in six months. That is about $6.3  million.

Preliminary plans call for two concrete bridges, each of three lanes. The contractor is Codocsa/Productos de Concreto, and much of the material for the bridges will be built of concrete offsite, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

The company will spend about 15 weeks designing and installing the underpinnings of the structures. Meanwhile, motorists will be using the reinstalled bailey bridges. That phase is expected to begin Nov. 16.

The contractor is expected to replace one temporary bridge and than another with traffic routed two ways on the first completed bridge. The bridges are supposed to be 75 meters each, some 246 feet. Each bridge will contain traffic lanes 36 feet wide.
The contractor was one of five bidders on the job, the ministry said, adding that it was the only one that complied with all the requirements.

The washout site is between Hatillo 8 and the Pavas turnoff. The Río María Aguilar has eroded the soil below the highway.

The Circunvalación is a bypass route south of the San José city center. The road agency, the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, closed down westbound lanes of the Circunvalación Aug. 27 when it became obvious that the river was undermining the road. Workers hurried to erect four temporary bailey bridges to handle traffic. But the bridges also became undermined.

The central government closed the highway in mid-September because of the failure of the temporary bridges. Workmen then began erecting steel walls and pouring more concrete to host the temporary bridges, which are not yet in place.

Closing the major four-lane highway was an economic blow to the country with traffic snarled during much of the day, lost deliveries and employees tied up for hours in bumper-to-bumper jams.







María Amalia Pendones founded the Danzay company in 2000. The dancers have performed internationally, including in the United States, Spain, Denmark and Venezuela, among others.

dancers
Danzay photo

Teatro Nacional features ballet and contemporary dance today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today's Teatro al Mediodía at the Teatro Nacional features 23 dancers from the Danzay company. The program includes a section of the ballet  “La historia de los colores,” choreographed by María Amalia Pendones, company director.

Other works also will be performed, said the Teatro Nacional. Three are scheduled to be from classical ballet and two are
contemporary, said an announcement. The Teatro al Mediodía at 12:10 p.m. is the popular weekly cultural presentation of the national theater.

Admission is just 1,500 colons, about $3. Students and seniors get in for half price.

The full ballet by Ms. Pendones recently debuted after a year's work, she noted.


Glitch in Honduras gets the blame for 15-minute power outage
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national power company said that an outage in most of the country Monday was due to a problem in Honduras.

The company, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, said power went off for about 15 minutes at 11:04 a.m.

The company has frequent local power outages, but this one included nearly the entire country.
The electrical problem made its way to Costa Rica through Nicaragua and the Central American power network, said the company. Some 165,000 customers were affected, it added.

The company said it was waiting for a fuller explanation of what happened from the administration of the network based in El Salvador.

Many firms and tourism operations such as hotels have backup generators that kick in as soon as grid power is lost.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Oct. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 209
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Here is a sure way to confirm that Christmas is just around the corner
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another sure sign that the holidays are coming is police confiscation of fireworks coming from other countries.

Officers in Golfito did so Sunday when they searched the luggage compartment of a San José-bound bus from Paso Canoas. They said they found 31 boxes containing 77,500 individual fireworks. The explosives were worth about 700,000 colons or about $1,400.

The rule in Costa Rica is if it explodes it is illegal. Fireworks vendor stands pop up around Christmas ostensibly to sell legal fireworks. But they have been known to have products under the table.

Each year the Hospital Nacional de los Niños and police agencies embark on a campaign to reduce or eliminate the number of children who are injured by exploding fireworks. Nevertheless, the sky all over the country is lighted by serious rockets at the stroke of midnight New Year's.
fireworks
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública
Here are the confiscated fireworks.

 
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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. www.leavesandlizards.com or e-mail us at leavesandlizards@gmail.com.
7862-8/1/13

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
fact-filled tour for your money. Winner of the 2010 Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the most UNIQUE and OUTSTANDING tour in Latin America. This  is the ONLY relocation/retirement tour really APPROVED with a LEGAL tour guide to operate in Costa Rica by the government’s Institute of Tourism ICT (license number DL-658-2004) in 2004. ALL tours are personally led by Christopher Howard, the author of the perennial best-selling ”New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica,” the MOST read authority on living and 
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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    * The 545-page “Official Guide to Real Estate in Costa Rica”
    * Speak Spanish like a Costa Rican! “The Official Guide to Costa Rican Spanish”
    * Christopher Howard’s “Official Guide to Costa Rica’s Legal System for Tontos
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7964-6/9/13

Ready For a Vacation to Costa Rica?
VacationsCostaRica.com 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: VacationToPanama.com. Are you a fisherman? Our local experts will help arrange fishing trips to Costa Rica, just click HERE!
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A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Business
wanted
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)

Palmares


Homes for rent in Palmares, Alajuela

See our Web page: palmarescostarica.us
8109-11/10/13

Unfurnished 2-bedroom 2-bathroom house.. One large room for living room, dining room and kitchen. Separate bath.  2 bedrooms with bath on second floor. Washroom. Large 3-bay garage with bathroom, secure  for warehousing and storage. Located  approximately 6 miles east of San José and 1 mile west of Concepcion Tres Rios.  Map on request.  Telephone installed, cable and Internet available.  $250 a month plus utilities. 6 months minimum lease, deposit. Available after Oct. 15.  Tel. 2256-9426 bobbyruf@ice.co.cr 
8100-11/3/13

COMPLETELY and nicely furnished apartments
apartment view
in San José. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Both convenient locations. No pets. $600 per month. Contact: rentnowcr@gmail.com or call 8555-9819.
8106-11/21/13

prime
                                    properties
ATTENTION EXPATS:
 
We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Rohrmoser
Escazú
Santa Ana
 

  rentals.sanjose@gmail.com
8104-11/21/13

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 jogya345@yahoo.com or 8308-7732.
8093-10/16/13

house for rent
House for rent on a large property surrounded by fruit trees and garden on a bus line. Fully furnished, complete laundry room, two bedrooms plus extra room for office, security, electric gate, Internet available.  Located in Monte de la Cruz, San Rafael de Heredia. $475 monthly. Call 2267-6306  Or email: bonillaleda@yahoo.com.
8092-10/20/13

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 
tropical
of Costa Rica. We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442.
8054-2/16/14

Barrio Escalante, totally furnished, 1 BR apartment for single, responsible person. $35 daily, weekly rates. Contact 8385-2542, celigar53@gmail.com.
8018-8/24/13

ALAJUELA – SERENE LIVING
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 gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.
7968-7/17/13
7875-4/11/13

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Oct. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 209
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Cafetales



Pacific Estates

Scientists think they know
how to grow human hair


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center may have come with something that many have been in search of for years, the ability to actually grow new hair on a balding head.

The researchers, writing in a study that was published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say they have come up with a method that can actually generate new hair growth, not just redistribute hair from one particular part of the head to another.

Most people normally shed between 50 and 100 strands of hair each day.  Losing that much hair, believe it or not, shouldn’t cause noticeable thinning of scalp hair says the Mayo Clinic. But for many, especially as they get older, their hair gradually thins out, some to the point where the hair loss or alopecia can affect a person’s overall appearance.

Since, to many, a full healthy head of hair symbolizes youth and vitality, a balding head could represent the opposite, getting old and not being as vibrant.

As a result, the hair restoration industry has become a $1.88 billion a year business.

Hair loss in women can prove to be a much more serious problem than in men, since the psychological effects and the impact to self-esteem due to hair loss can be increased.

Many of today’s modern restoration techniques may not be as effective since women tend to have insufficient donor hair.

"About 90 percent of women with hair loss are not strong candidates for hair transplantation surgery because of insufficient donor hair," said co-study leader Angela M. Christiano, a professor of dermatology and professor of genetics and development. "This method offers the possibility of inducing large numbers of hair follicles or rejuvenating existing hair follicles, starting with cells grown from just a few hundred donor hairs. It could make hair transplantation available to individuals with a limited number of follicles, including those with female-pattern hair loss, scarring alopecia, and hair loss due to burns."

Patients suffering from such hair loss, according to Ms. Christiano, gain very little benefit from the already existing hair-loss treatments and medications.  While the treatments may slow down the rate of hair loss, they usually do not stimulate robust new hair growth.

The researchers said that dermal papilla cells – protrusions from inner skin tissue – can produce hair follicles. They also said the idea of using the cells to clone hair follicles has been around for the last 40 or so years.

In past experiments, the researchers said that they had some problems in actually producing human hair follicles. They found that once they put dermal papilla cells into a conventional, two-dimensional tissue culture instead of producing hair follicles as they had hoped, the cells simply reverted into basic skin cells that weren’t able to produce hair follicles.

“So we were faced with a Catch-22: how to expand a sufficiently large number of cells for hair regeneration while retaining their inductive properties,” said Colin Jahoda, from Durham University, England, and co-director of North East England Stem Cell Institute.

To get beyond this paradox the researchers studied rodent hair.  With a method developed by Jahoda, scientists were able to gather papillae cells from rodents, grow hair and successfully transplant the cells back into rodent skin.

The researchers said that they suspected that the chief reason why rodent hair can be so easily transplanted is that, unlike human papillae, their dermal papillae must have an ability to create a special environment outside of the cells, which would allow the papillae to reprogram the skin of the recipient to grow new follicles.

"This suggested that if we cultured human papillae in such a way as to encourage them to aggregate the way rodent cells do spontaneously, it could create the conditions needed to induce hair growth in human skin," said the study’s first author Claire A. Higgins, associate research scientist.

In order to see if their theory could be proven, the scientists gathered dermal papillae from seven human donors and cloned the cells in a tissue culture, adding no additional growth factors into the mix. 

A few days later, they transplanted the cultured papillae between the dermis and epidermis of human skin and then grafted the skin onto the backs of mice.

The researchers found that in five out of seven tests performed not only did the transplants produce new hair growth, but the hair itself also lasted for at least six weeks.

Using a DNA analysis, the researchers confirmed that the new hair follicles that grew on the mice’s backs were indeed human and that they genetically matched the donors.

"This approach has the potential to transform the medical treatment of hair loss," said Ms. Christiano. "Current hair-loss medications tend to slow the loss of hair follicles or potentially stimulate the growth of existing hairs, but they do not create new hair follicles. Neither do conventional hair transplants, which relocate a set number of hairs from the back of the scalp to the front. Our method, in contrast, has the potential to actually grow new follicles using a patient's own cells. This could greatly expand the utility of hair restoration surgery to women and to younger patients — now it is largely restricted to the treatment of male-pattern baldness in patients with stable disease."

The scientists did point out that more research and study will need to be done before they can actually test the method on humans. 

The research team said they are optimistic that clinical trials could begin in the near future.

"We also think that this study is an important step toward the goal of creating a replacement skin that contains hair follicles for use with, for example, burn patients," said Jahoda.



Obama on defensive in call
to French president over spying


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama called France's President Francois Hollande Monday to discuss French outrage about claims that a U.S. spy agency eavesdropped on millions of phone calls of French citizens.

Obama told the French president the U.S. is reviewing its intelligence gathering to ensure a balance between security and privacy.

This move for damage control came as the White House complained that some allegations of U.S. activities carried in the French press were distorted.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called in the U.S. ambassador to ask about an article in Le Monde newspaper about large-scale spying on French citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The article alleged that the NSA gathered tens of millions of French phone records over a one-month period. Fabius called the claims shocking.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was questioned on the matter when he arrived Monday in Paris for talks on the Middle East. He declined to talk about the specific allegations, but said the United States will discuss the matter privately with French officials and other concerned allies. He said protecting the security of people in today's world is very complicated and challenging.

"Now I am not going to comment on the specifics. As a matter of policy we don't discuss intelligence matters, and lots of countries are engaged in the activity of trying to protect their citizens and the world," Kerry said. "As the president, as President Obama said very clearly in a recent speech that he gave at the United Nations General Assembly just a few weeks ago, he said 'we in the United States are currently reviewing the way that we gather intelligence.' And I think that is appropriate, and our goal is always to try to find the right balance between protecting the security and the privacy of our citizens.''

Mexico reacted angrily Monday to an article published in the German weekly Der Spiegel, in which Edward Snowden accused the NSA of accessing the e-mail of former Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Mexico's foreign ministry called the practice "unacceptable, illegal and against Mexican and international law."

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf would not confirm or deny the recent reports of U.S. spying. She told reporters Monday that all countries understand the value of gathering intelligence and said the United States is willing to discuss concerns that any country has about U.S. practices.

The spokeswoman said there always is a balance between security and privacy, and said the United States is trying to figure out where that balance lies.

"We're trying to find the right balance here about what we gather and how we gather it. The president has spoken to this at length now," Ms. Harf said. "And it's worth keeping in mind as we have a discussion, keep in mind the entire intelligence picture."

Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia, is wanted in the U.S. for espionage and other charges, after leaking details of the NSA's worldwide spying activities.



Pre-teen kills one, wounds two
in Nevada school shooting


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A 12-year-old student armed with a handgun shot and killed a teacher and wounded two classmates before killing himself at his middle school in Nevada shortly before classes began on Monday, law enforcement officials said.
 
Both of the wounded students from Sparks Middle School were rushed to Renown Regional Medical Center in nearby Reno, where one of them underwent emergency surgery, said Tom Miller, acting Sparks police chief.
 
The Reno Gazette-Journal newspaper identified the slain school staff member as 45-year-old math teacher Michael Landsberry, quoting the man's sister-in-law. Authorities did not immediately name the teacher.
 
Witnesses described a chaotic scene at the school in the northwestern Nevada town of Sparks, located just east of Reno, after the gunfire erupted in an outdoor area as students were arriving for the school day.
 
“A kid started getting mad and he pulled out a gun and shoots my friend, one of my friends at least,” a seventh-grade student identified as Andrew told local KOLO-TV. “And then he walked up to a teacher and says back up, the teacher started backing up and he pulled the trigger.”
 
“The teacher was just lying there and he was limp, he didn't know what to do, he was just in a lot of pain,” he told KOLO.
 
“And me and five other friends went to him and said come on we've got to get him to safety. We picked him up, carried him a little bit far and we left him because our vice principal came along and said go, go, go get to safety, get to safety. So we left the teacher there and we went to safety,” Andrew said.
 
Family members of Landsberry described him as a hero who tried to persuade the young gunman to drop his weapon.
 
 

Obama vows to cure ills
of health insurance Web site


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama has vowed to fix problems afflicting the rollout of the new health insurance law, including software glitches frustrating Americans trying to enroll in the program.

Since enrollment for the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, as the health care law is known, formally started Oct. 1, the main federal Web site and some state exchanges have been plagued by software problems.

Americans have until March of next year to sign up for insurance or face a penalty. As problems became more embarrassing, the White House blamed heavy demand straining on line systems.

But amid increasing criticism, the administration now has sought help from the high-tech industry to fix what experts say are more than just glitches, but some serious system design flaws.

In the White House Rose Garden, with a dozen people who successfully signed up for coverage or were already benefiting from the law, Obama said he is committed to fixing what he called kinks in the system.

"There is no sugar coating it. The Web site has been too slow. People have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it is fair to say that nobody has been more frustrated by that than I am precisely because the product is good. I want the cash registers to work. I want the check out lines to be smooth. So, I want people to be able to get this great product," said the president.

"There is no excuse" for the problems, said Obama, adding his administration is doing everything it can to boost capacity.

He stressed that while health insurance under the exchanges does not formally begin until Jan. 1, Americans already are benefiting from key provisions, including coverage regardless of pre-existing medical conditions.

Obama acknowledged the problems have provided more ammunition to opposition Republicans whose efforts to block funding for Obamacare led to a 16-day government shutdown. But he said the long and contentious battle over health care reform was not fought merely because of a Web site.

"We waged this battle to make sure that millions of Americans in the wealthiest nation on Earth finally have the same chance to get the same security of affordable, quality health care as anybody else. That is what this is about," said Obama.

Obama said "it's time for folks to stop rooting for the failure" of the health care law, "because hardworking middle-class families are rooting for its success."

The administration has not released figures of the total number of people who have signed up successfully for coverage, but has pledged to provide that information in November.

The Department of Health and Human Services said that nearly half a million people submitted applications through the federal Web site and online state insurance exchanges or marketplaces.

A spokeswoman for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she intends to testify before Congress, but no date has been set. Republicans have called for Ms. Sebelius to resign, citing the problems with the health care Web sites.


 
As twitter approaches IPO,
survey shows many drop it


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Retired schoolteacher Donald Hovasse signed up for Twitter about a year ago at the urging of his daughter. He lost interest after trying the service a few times and finding lots of celebrities but few of his friends using the online social network.
 
“I didn't really get the point of it at all,” said the Las Vegas, Nevada, resident. “Most of them were people I wasn't interested in hearing what they had to say anyway.” He said, however, that he does check Facebook every day to see what his friends are up to.
 
Hovasse's experience highlights a risk for investors as Twitter, Inc., marches towards this year's most anticipated initial public offering in the United States, expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange in mid-November.
 
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 36 percent of 1,067 people who have joined Twitter say they do not use it, and 7 percent say they have shut their account. The online survey, conducted Oct. 11 to 18, has a credibility interval, a measure of its accuracy, of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
 
In comparison, only 7 percent of 2,449 Facebook  members report not using the online social network, and 5 percent say they have shut down their account. The results have a credibility interval of 2.3 percent.
 
People who have given up on Twitter cite a variety of reasons, from lack of friends on the service to difficulty understanding how to use it. Twitter declined to comment for this story, saying it is in a quiet period ahead of its IPO.
 
Twitter's attrition rate highlights a challenge that has dogged the online messaging site over the years: while it has managed to enlist many high-profile and avid users, from the Pope to President Barack Obama, Twitter has yet to go truly mainstream in the way Facebook has.
 


Neanderthal animal kills
provided unexpected salad


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Neanderthals may have saved time foraging for vegetation to eat, instead opting to eat the contents of herbivores’ stomachs, according to new research.

Researchers at the National History Museum in England theorize that plant material found on Neanderthal teeth could be from the partially digested stomach contents (chyme) of hunted animals.

“The practice of eating the stomach contents of prey could be a behavior that goes right back to the earliest humans,” said museum anthropologist Chris Stringer. “Having gone to the time and trouble of securing the carcass of a large herbivore, why would our ancestors have wasted such a source of nutrition?”

Eating stomach contents is still practiced today by Australian Aborigines, who eat the chyme of kangaroo and Greenland Inuit who consume the stomachs of reindeer as a delicacy.

In harsh conditions, such as desert or tundra, eating animal stomach contents allows people to gain nutrients from plants they could not easily obtain otherwise.

Neanderthals have long been thought of as pure big game hunters, largely ignoring vegetables and small game, a factor which, it has been argued, could have led to their extinction.

But new evidence from tooth plaque and other dietary analyses shows they did eat vegetation, including some that required complex preparation.

“It shows a level of dietary complexity not always appreciated before,” said anthropologist Laura Buck.

Stringer and Ms. Buck co-authored an article on their theory in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

Project completion specialists
Casa del pacifico logo
Pacifica living
A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:

                      • Building completion services
                      • Interior design & decoration
                      • Custom furniture design & manufacturing.

Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
Serving region for 10 years.
We regularly exceed client expectations. We guarantee it.
Email: info@casadelpacifico.com
Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644
Web: www.casadelpacifico.com
8070-2/14/13


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. www.costaricarealtyone.com
8091-12/11/13

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.
7949-11/15/13

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 www.moranlakearenal.com
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Email: moranrealestate@gmail.com
Moran logo
8119-4/16/14



Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.





Visit our Web Site:
 www.greciarealestate.com




English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 768
1,000 square meters of land and 350 square meters of construction. HERE!
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 square meters of construction. HERE!
  Send us your request to our email: info@greciarealestate.com
8068-11/9/13

Real estate for sale (paid category)


beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West, maryandjerre@aol.com, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603
8123-4/22/2104

San Mateo pool

BEAUTIFUL PROPERTY IN SAN MATEO, ALAJUELA 3,528 m2

Includes 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-story house built to American standards with a balcony overlooking full-sized swimming pool and rancho with a bathroom and a shower room, and landscaped tropical gardens.  There are two large storage buildings, a carport and electric-gate access to the enclosed property.  It is a short drive to the highways to San José and the beaches.  Owner financing available.  Please call: +506 2446-4901
8116-11/15/13

montage
For sale is a beautiful 50-acre property located in Los Alpes, just 15 minutes outside of San Ramon. At about 4,000 feet above sea level, this finca provides gorgeous views of the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Ocean in the distance while also offering a wonderful climate year around. The main house is two stories with three bedrooms and two full baths. High quality construction using exotic hardwoods such as almond, which covers the ceilings throughout the entire house. There are also two corrals and a small casita on the property. This location is perfect for a farm-style home or for beginning an agricultural business. This truly is a rare piece of property and is available for $399,999. Price is somewhat negotiable and we will be happy to work with the buyer to make it work! Please call 8816-2478 or e-mail bmcart3@gmail.com for more information ¡y se habla español!
8097-xxx

Pacific Estates

Pacific Estates is divided into three distinct sections called Pacific Landings, Pacific Hills and Pacific Acres. Pacific Landings includes unique 2 & 3 bedroom homes incorporating pole house construction, cathedral ceilings, balconies on both the front and back of the house and eco-friendly elements. The homes also include granite counter tops, state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen appliances, washer & dryer hook ups, internet connectivity and zone controlled A/C. These homes feature 1,290 square feet under A/C space and 1,537 square feet under A/C space with an optional Loft. To learn more about Pacific Estates, schedule a No Obligation Free Virtual Tour today by clicking here!
8087-10/18/13

Samara church and lot
Commercial lot with great visibility in heart of Playa Sámara commercial district. Located alongside town's largest church, bank, hardware store/lumber yard, mini shopping plaza, and Pali (Sámara's largest supermarket). This lot has a large elevated building platform shaded with mature treees. All this makes for many commercial options.  One block from stunning "blue flag" beach. This is a perfect location for a eco/boutique hotel, restaurant/catering, apartments, or condominium. All utilities to this property. Lot size 1,414m2. Price 325K. Email: mwk350@yahoo.com
8082-10/9/13

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, axelspecial@gmail.com    Cell 8916-5550.
8061-xxxxx

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
http://www.youtube.com/user/CasaDelSolCostaRica
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email combrokers@aol.com
88059-xxxx

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: www.hummingbirdnestbb.com.  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email: nidocolibri@hotmail.com
8058-11/15/13

Naranjo views

NARANJO VIEW PROPERTY READY TO BUILD: ALL PERMISSIONS

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
Email monicacal@mac.com
8034-8/19/13

Guiones retreat
SURFERS PARADISE on PLAYA GUIONES, NOSARA
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 heidebob2@gmail.com
8027-1/12/14

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!
8010-7/28/13

Flamingo
                            view
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.
7986-8/6/13

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 WendyLovesCostaRica.com. 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 Wendy@WendyLovesCostaRica.com.
7971-6/23/13

NOW REDUCED TO $680,000
ALAJUELA – PRIVATE COMPOUND OF 4 HOMES - $850,000 TURNKEY
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 gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:
7967-7/17/13

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. www.oasisbytheseabandb.com $180,000 506-8869-9274.
7882-4/15/13

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. jungalow@gmail.com.
7845-8/18/13

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

Business for sale or lease (paid category)71

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West, maryandjerre@aol.com, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603
8123-4/22/2
11

A successful, local, long-running business for sale.
In the nine years of operation, this company has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose,  Manuel Antonio and Osa Peninsula areas.  And it is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive ground-work that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into a new level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner retiring to another Latin American country. It is now time to turn the business over to a new owner who could expand it to  even greater success.  Details on the business, its history, a strategic analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as a Pro-Forma Income Statement from 2008 through to 2013 are available upon request to aha_jm@yahoo.com
8115-11/18/13

Live the dream!
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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page


San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Oct. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 209
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New skills keep mind sharp,
study says of senior citizens


By the Association for Psychological Science news service

Older adults are often encouraged to stay active and engaged to keep their minds sharp, that they have to use it or lose it. But new research indicates that only certain activities — learning a mentally demanding skill like photography, for instance — are likely to improve cognitive functioning.

These findings, forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that less demanding activities, such as listening to classical music or completing word puzzles, probably won’t bring noticeable benefits to an aging mind.

“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something — it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas. “When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

The new findings provide much-needed insight into the components of everyday activities that contribute to cognitive vitality as we age.

“We need, as a society, to learn how to maintain a healthy mind, just like we know how to maintain vascular health with diet and exercise,” says Park. “We know so little right now.”

For their study, Park and colleagues randomly assigned 221 adults, ages 60 to 90, to engage in a particular type of activity for 15 hours a week over the course of three months.

Some participants were assigned to learn a new skill — digital photography, quilting, or both — which required active engagement and tapped working memory, long-term memory and other high-level cognitive processes.

Other participants were instructed to engage in more familiar activities at home, such as listening to classical music and completing word puzzles. And, to account for the possible influence of social contact, some participants were assigned to a social group that included social interactions, field trips, and entertainment.

At the end of three months, Park and colleagues found that the adults who were productively engaged in learning new skills showed improvements in memory compared to those who engaged in social activities or non-demanding mental activities at home.

“The findings suggest that engagement alone is not enough,” says Park. “The three learning groups were pushed very hard to keep learning more and mastering more tasks and skills. Only the groups that were confronted with continuous and prolonged mental challenge improved.”

The study is particularly noteworthy given that the researchers were able to systematically intervene in people’s lives, putting them in new environments and providing them with skills and relationships:

“Our participants essentially agreed to be assigned randomly to different lifestyles for three months so that we could compare how different social and learning environments affected the mind,” says Park. “People built relationships and learned new skills — we hope these are gifts that keep on giving, and continue to be a source of engagement and  stimulation even after they finished the  study.”

Park and colleagues are planning on following up with the participants one year and five years down the road to see if the effects remain over the long term. They believe that the research has the potential to be profoundly important and relevant, especially as the number of seniors continues to rise:

“This is speculation, but what if challenging mental activity slows the rate at which the brain ages?” asks Park. “Every year that you save could be an added year of high quality life and independence.”



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From Page 7:


Tax treaties get initial approval

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmaker approved on first reading Monday seven tax agreements with as many foreign entities.

The agreements provide for the exchange of financial information to and from Costa Rica.

The countries are Iceland, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Denmark and Greenland, Sweden, and Norway.

The agreements are part of the country's largest effort to prepare itself for membership in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the international agency that once had Costa Rica on its black list for tax evasion.

The treaties also are consistent with Costa Rica's effort to reduce bank secrecy here so its tax collectors can monitor accounts.

The tax treaties have to be voted on one more time, but there is no opposition