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(506) 2223-1327        Published Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 221            E-mail us
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New life
in Guadalupe

A Victorian-style stained-glass window is just part of the charm for an unusual home in Guadalupe that has been restored after a fire.

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Bilingualism reported to delay onset of Alzheimer's
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There's good news for expat retirees struggling to learn Spanish. A Canadian science team has found more dramatic evidence that speaking two languages can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms by as much as five years, according to the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, a University of Toronto affiliate.

The conclusion comes from a study that looked at the clinical records of 200 patients who were suspected of having Alzheimer’s disease, Baycrest said. The study, being published today in the research journal Neurology, found that those who have spoken two or more languages consistently over many years experienced a delay in the onset of their symptoms by as much as five years.

“We are not claiming that bilingualism in any way prevents Alzheimer’s or other dementias, but it may contribute to cognitive reserve in the brain which appears to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms for quite some time,” said Fergus Craik. He is the lead investigator and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Memory.  He was quoted in a Rotman release.

The brains of people who speak two languages still show deterioration from Alzheimer’s pathology; however, their special ability with two languages seems to equip them with compensatory skills to hold back the tell-tale symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as memory loss, confusion, and difficulties with problem-solving and planning, the study concluded.
“These results are especially important for multicultural societies like ours in Canada where bilingualism is common,” said Ellen Bialystok, a professor of psychology at York University and associate scientist at the Rotman Research Institute. “We need to understand how bilingualism changes cognitive ability, especially when there are clinical implications as in this case.”

The institute gave this description of the study:

Observations were made on 211 patients diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s at Baycrest, from 2007 to 2009. The patients’ date of diagnosis and age of onset of cognitive impairment were recorded along with information on occupational history, education and language history (i.e. fluency in English and any other languages). Following this procedure, 102 patients were classified as bilingual and 109 as monolingual.

The researchers found that bilingual patients had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 4.3 years later and had reported the onset of symptoms five years later than the monolingual patients. The groups were equivalent on measures of cognitive and occupational level, and there were no gender differences.

The current study adds to mounting scientific evidence that lifestyle factors, such as regular cardiovascular exercise, a healthy diet, and speaking more than one language, can play a central role in how the brain copes with age-related cognitive decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, said the institute in its release.

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Insulza to make report
this afternoon on river

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States hears from its secretary general this afternoon on the border conflict between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but neither the council nor José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general, are likely to condemn Managua for invasion of the Isla Calero.

Insulza has made it clear during his three days of visits that his goal and the goal of the hemispheric organization is to promote dialogue rather than settle boundary disputes.

Costa Rica said it will not negotiate with Nicaragua until that country's troops leave Tico soil, and that is about the only issue to discuss.

Insulza flew over the disputed island Monday. Unlike security ministry flights in prior weeks, Nicaragua soldiers were not in evidence.

He flew along the Nicaraguan side Sunday.

Nicaraguan newspapers generally see the conflict as a dispute about dredging the Río San Juan. Eden Pastora, the man in charge of the dredging operation, irked Costa Rican officials because the river sediment was dumped on Tico land. However, the real issue is will Nicaragua be able to dredge a new mouth for the river through what most certainly is Costa Rican land. The new river mouth is a high priority for tourism and development in Nicaragua. Costa Rican officials generally have ignored the section of the country along the river.

Nicaragua's intentions were clear from the beginning of the dispute because trees had been cut in anticipation of dredging operations making a new channel. A new mouth would bypass the meandering first 30 kilometers of the river and allow rapid entry of boats from the Caribbean.

Nicaraguan officials know they are working on Costa Rican land. Pastora was overheard admitting that two weeks ago on a marine band discussion with the dredging barge crew. Reports from Managua say that Pastora went on the national radio station Monday to tell the country that two more dredging barges are under construction for use on the river.

Costa Rica's case was bolstered even more Monday when René Castro, the foreign minister, pointed out that a map Nicaragua used in a 2007 World Court case clearly shows that the Isla Calero is Costa Rican.

Nicaragua has made a number of claims, including one that used a Google map as evidence. Google quickly issued a caution and is in the process of correcting the map error.

Castro will be in Washington this afternoon to hear Insulza's report. A Costa Rican newspaper disclosed last week that Venezuela is bankrolling the dredging, so some members of the Permanent Council will support Nicaragua regardless of Insulza's report.

Castro has said the country may take the dispute to the United Nations if a satisfactory resolution cannot be found at the Organization of American States. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his country will take the case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands.

As if to underscore Costa Rica's commitment to remaining without an army, Centro Cultural e Histórico José Figueres Ferrer announced Monday that it is accepting essays and videos from high schoolers on the topic of “Costa Rica, un país sin Ejército.” Awards will be made Dec. 4, the 62nd anniversary of the army's abolishment. Deadline for works is Nov. 30. This is the 12th year the museum has run the contest.

A reader's opinion
Some writers of letters
have hit a dead end

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding Alfred Sites commentary on “Don’t expect First World when living here."

In defense of frustrated folks writing in about their attempts to get things done, I find the advice of “Don’t expect First World when living here” similarly “preaching to the choir.”  It’s clear to me that most writing in with their frustration have no First World expectations whatsoever. In fact, the majority have adjusted their expectations accordingly. 

If one reads carefully, the frustration comes from attempting to follow all of the rules with the Third World expectations imbedded.  The frustration comes from the inability of departments to follow their own guidelines set forth by the country or cantons, while the customer attempts to do their best to follow the proper channels asked of them by the aforementioned places and departments.

Efficiency, to me, is having cable or pipes installed in a fortnight in the First World, the Third World a year or longer, but the end result is that it IS installed.  What writers are stating is the inability to get it done at all, following all of the expectations and guidelines set forth.  Inefficiency should not be confused with inability.

Tell me then, what should folks expect, if at all? Nothing!? I grew up in Monrovia, Liberia West Africa, and am all too familiar with expectations, Third World versus First World and understand things get done differently.  The key thing is that things get done, albeit in a different time frame. 

Most folks writing in have hit dead ends, and appreciate those who write in and offer advice and solutions rather than expectation advice.  I think the majority of expats get that!  It doesn’t matter where you are, if you expect the authorities to know what they are doing, eventually they will. It’s a matter of education.

Randy Judd-Harrison
Houston, Texas

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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

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

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

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 221

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Unusual siding is easy to see as well as the decorative shape of the window frames.

New life for Victorian-style home in Guadalupe Centro
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The owner of a landmark Guadalupe home decided to take out the wooden floors and replace them with concrete in 2006. That's a big error when the property has been designated a heritage site.

So the owner was hit with a 10 million-colon fine. The good news is that the Centro de Patrimonio added 40 million colons to the fine and used the entire sum to restore the structure.

The house involved is the Casa Jimènez Núñez in the center of Guadalupe.  Ricardo Jiménez Núñez built it in 1909 and lived there until his death in 1946. The structure is in the Victorian style and features adobe walls, called bahareque in Spanish, and metal sheets for siding. It was designated a national heritage site in 2003.

The structure is one of two landmark homes in the area.

Restoration began in June, and officials announced completion Monday. The home was in an advanced state of deterioration, said the Centro de Patrimonio due to age and because it was involved in a fire Dec. 13, 2008.

The amount involved in restoration would be $97,275 at the current exchange rate.

"The Jiménez Núñez house, aside from being an urban landmark, is a house of the beginnings of the 20th century that has been in the memory of all the Guadalupe residents, because, unfortunately in Guadalupe nearly all of the heritage is lost," said Sandra Quirós, director of the Centro de Patrimonio. She excepted from this statement the
municipal building and the Escuela Pilar Jiménez, which also are heritage sites. The center is part of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

At one time the home was surrounded by large gardens, said the center. Little by little land was subdivided and sold off, and the greenery vanished. Between 1946 and 2006, the building was owned by the sons of Ricardo Jiménez. Now the owner is a corporation, and the dwelling is unoccupied.

Guadalupe is in the Cantón de Goicoechea just north of San José. The structure is about 245 square meters or about 2,640 square feet.

The exterior metal sheeting, called chapa in Spanish, is not typical of the San José area, the center explained. That type of construction is more traditional in Cartago because it is more resilient during earthquakes, the center said.

The restoration project involved replacing the adobe walls that were in bad shape and the restoration of walls that showed faults, such as erosion of material. The walls got a final coat of clay, lime and a straw-like natural fiber, called pitilla, which is a traditional mix, the center said.

The metal sheets of láminas that could be saved were restored, and corroded or damaged sheets were replaced. The exterior then got a coat of anti-corrosive paint.

Workmen also demolished the concrete floor that had drawn the legal oversight and fine and the floors were replaced with polished wood, said the center.

Exterior wooden columns also were restored or replaced.

Overseas voters asked to report their election experiences
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Overseas Vote Foundation has posted a survey to sound out U.S. expats and if and how they cast their ballots in the Nov. 2 general election.

The organization is asking for feedback with a survey that takes about seven minutes to fill out. The survey generally wants to know if expats voted and how they voted. Expats have a number of options. The organization also wants to hear from military and student voters living overseas.
"Whether you were eligible to vote for the first time this year or you're a veteran voter: your experience is unique and we want to hear about it," said the organization.

Overseas Vote Foundation said it will use the results of this survey to report on key issues affecting overseas voters to federal and state policy makers and to improve our own outreach and development efforts.

The survey, which is HERE, will close on Dec. 31. Results will be available on the organization's Web site Feb. 11.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 221

Efforts continue to bring normality to all of nation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The jobs of opening up highways, restoring power and water and housing storm refugees continues. The weather cooperated with a Monday that was chilly but with lots of sun.

But the government also announced that it would not be investing public money in rebuilding homes in areas that are prone to flooding or landslides. Officials also said that any new roads would be designed to be permanent.

Much of the country's road network suffered heavy damage in four days of rain. Many of the problems have been attributed to faults in the engineering or materials.

The national emergency commission lifted an alert in the northern zone and the Caribbean coast but continued an alert in the Central Valley and Pacific coast where rescue work continues.

In San Antonio de Escazú rescue workers wrapped up their labors at the scene of a fatal landslide without finding a suspected victim. In all the landslide rubble yielded 23 bodies. This was the type of area that Vice President Luis Liberman was considering when he said that central government officials are not going to build in zones where there are always floods and constant landslides during the rainy season. He said his office would coordinate this with banks, ministries and other institutions.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said there still were 3,709 persons in 64 public shelters as a result of the storm. At least 325 of the refugees are in shelters in Escazú where some are receiving psychological counseling.

Food distribution continues, mainly in Aguirre, Corredores, Parrita, Golfito and Osa in Puntarenas and in Escazú, Dota and Pérez Zeledón in San José province.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said that power was being restored slowly. Principal areas of concern are Ciudad Colón, Santa Ana, Escazú, Puriscal, Acosta, Tarbaca and Aserríarea and Palmar Norte, Uvita, Ciduad Cortés, Buenos Aires, Ojochal, Platanillo, Ballena de Osa and La Campiña in the southern zone.

Fixed line service was restored in parts of the central Pacific including Parrita, Quepos, La Palma and La Loma, the company reported.
Cruz Roja volunteers
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Cruz Roja workers, many of them volunteers, prepare a shipment of water and food to refugees in Parrita.

Some mobil phone towers were out of service because repair crews could not reach them given the condition of the roads.

The Interamericana Sur still is cut with slides and washouts in a number of places. The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said it was paying 100 million colons (about $195,000) a day for rented machinery.

At least 19 bridges were damaged in some way, and some had collapsed. Access to Nosara and Ostional on the Pacific coast off the Nicoya peninsula was restored, officials said.

The central government is beginning to allocate money, but the full cost of the storm will not be known for weeks.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 221

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Those in Haitian tent cities
at high risk for cholera

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Authorities in Haiti say 544 people have died in an outbreak of cholera, while the death toll from Hurricane Tomas has reached 20.

The health ministry says more than 8,000 people have been hospitalized for cholera in recent weeks.

Hurricane Tomas lashed Haiti with winds and rains as it passed to the west of the country late last week, triggering flooding and mudslides. Several people remain missing. 

The Haitian government and humanitarian groups rushed to evacuate at-risk Haitians who have been living in makeshift tents, but many resisted. Hundreds of thousands of people have been living in the crowded, squalid camps since the January earthquake that destroyed their homes and killed some 250,000 people. 

The U.N. has warned that polluted floodwaters and unsanitary conditions could worsen the cholera outbreak, which has been centered in the Artibonite region north of the capital.  Aid groups say the tent cities face a high risk for diseases because of the poor sanitary conditions.

Ladies in White march again
to pressure Cuban leaders

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A group of human rights activists marched Sunday in Havana to demand that the Cuban government release a group of political prisoners by the end of the day.

The activists, most of them wives and mothers of those incarcerated, marched through the Cuban capital demanding that the Cuban government free 13 political prisoners by midnight Sunday, which they say the Cuban government agreed to in July.

Cuban President Raúl Castro agreed with the Roman Catholic Church July 7 to release 52 political prisoners within four months, without setting a specific date.  Most of them have been released and have gone to live in exile in Spain.  But 13 who refused to emigrate have remained in jail.

The 52 are part of a larger group of dissidents arrested during a 2003 government crackdown on Cuba's opposition.

Activists of the group called "Ladies in White" have marched weekly for the release of their loved ones.

Cuba has long maintained that it does not hold political prisoners, only mercenaries. It claims the 52 were working with the United States to undermine Cuban communism.

Nicaraguan geothermal plant
seals deal on financing

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Ram Power, Corp. has closed a $160 million deal for debt financing for the Phase II expansion of the San Jacinto-Tizate geothermal power project in Nicaragua. The financing consists of $140 million in senior construction and term loans and $20 million in subordinated debt which is available for project contingencies and for general corporate purposes.

The financing was structured by International Finance Corp., a member of the World Bank Group.

The project is currently the largest geothermal construction project in Central America. The proceeds from this debt financing together with equity previously invested fully funds the completion of the project, Ram Power said.

As previously disclosed, the phased expansion of the Project is designed to increase production from the current 10 megawatts to 46 megawatts in the first half of 2011. The 46 megawatts capacity will be expanded to 72 megawatts in the latter part of 2011, the company said.  There is a long-term power purchase agreement in place with a subsidiary of Gas Natural Fenosa, a Spanish utility. The expansion will bring state of the art technology to supply low cost geothermal energy to the region, Ram Power said.

Ram Power is a renewable energy company based in Reno, Nevada, engaged in the business of acquiring, exploring, developing, and operating geothermal properties. Ram Power has an interest in geothermal projects, primarily in the United States, Canada, and Latin America.
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Bus company blaze
causes heavy damage

By the A.M, Costa Rica staff

Fire believed sparked by a faulty battery in a microbus heavily damaged a bus station in Miramar, Puntarenas, Sunday afternoon. The company, Autotransportes Miramar S.A., also lost two buses, a jeep and a motorcycle, in addition to the microbus.

A metal bus garage of some 670 square meters (about 7,200 square feet) was destroyed as was an adjacent home. Firemen managed to save the bus company office, they said.

Firemen complained that two hydrants did not work. One was a few steps from the blazing structure and the other was some 300 feet away. Firemen said they had to lay 600 meters (nearly 2,000 feet) to reach a water source. Although fire trucks carry about 1,000 gallons of water each, this was insufficient for a major blaze, firemen said.

Some 25 firemen from El Roble, Puntarenas, Las Juntas and Esparza responded. The fire scene is on the north side of the Liceo de Miramar.

Soccer referee wins
reinstatement from Sala IV

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A soccer referee has been ordered reinstated in his job because he was fired without due process.

That was a decision released Monday from the Sala IV constitutional court. The decision is against the  Asociación Sureña de Árbitros de Fútbol Sala.

The referee was identified by the last name of Benavides Moreno. He was suspended in July from his job for two years, according to the court decision summary. The referee complained to the court that he did not have a chance to defend himself and was not presented with any charges.

The court summary did not explain why the Sala IV has jurisdiction over what appears to be a private association.

Ballroom show planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A ballroom dancing group at the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Grupo de Bailes de Salón, will give three performances this weekend.

They are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m. The location is the Teatro Montes de Oca in the Edificio Saprissa on the San Pedro campus. Admission is 1,500 colons, a bit less than $3.

The seven members of the group, four women and three men, interpret the major styles of dance, including salsa, bolero, cumbia, tango, and bolero criollo, an announcement said.

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