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(506) 2223-1327                     Published Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 15                Email us
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Government seeks 30 percent exit fee on U.S. dollars
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's finance minister gave lawmakers Monday a proposed law that is designed to discourage short-term foreign investment in Costa Rica.

The measure proposes a 30 percent retention of money being moved out of the country by an entity that is not a Costa Rican resident. The proposal also seeks to establish obligatory terms of investment, perhaps as much as a year.

The proposal gives the Banco Central directors the power to institute these measures to maintain the stability of the economy.

The measures are certain to face legal attack. The Costa Rican Constitution generally requires foreigners to be treated equally. In addition, Article 10.8 of the Central American Free Trade Treaty said that all transfers relating to a covered investment are to be made freely and without delay into and out of its territory.

The treaty covers the United States as well as the Dominican Republic and other Central American states.

A letter sent by Casa Presidencial to legislators said that the Banco Central purchased $1.6 billion in dollars since last March. Some 87 percent of the purchases were since September, it said.

The influx of dollars contributed to the appreciation of the colon in an incoherent manner which limited the possibilities of economic growth and the generation of employment, said the letter, adding that the inflow also put at risk the control of inflation in the short and medium term. 

There is no guarantee that lawmakers will produce a bill that is anywhere close to what Casa Presidencial wants. Some political parties already are saying they want to see a big cut in interest charged to citizens by financial institutions. Cutting the interest rate has been advanced as one way to discourage foreign, short-term cash investments.

The Spanish language daily La Nación 
fleeing capital

editorialized Monday that governmental action was late.

The effort to discourage sending money overseas is subject to many exceptions that appear to be designed to maintain normal commerce.

The government calls the speculative investments capitales golondrinas, named after a bird, the golondrina (Hirundo rustica), which is migratory.

Money transferred out of the country generally is subject to a retention of 8 percent, mainly for anticipated income taxes.

That regulation has not been strictly enforced by the government. But that means the retention on speculative capital moving out of the country would be 38 percent.

Still unstated is how the legislative proposals would handle the transfer of cash generated from, say, the legal sale of property by a non-resident, such as a Canadian snowbird. Legislative actions frequently have unintended consequences.

Edgar Ayales Esna, the minister of Hacienda, presented the government proposal Monday to the leadership of the Asamblea Legislativa. The bill received No. 18.685.

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Our reader's opinion
Restrictions on currency
no way to run a business

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Noting my friends confusion and fear over last week's business/government group nonsense comments regarding the impact of U.S. dollars, and adding to the lucid commentary Monday by Dennis Jay of Alajuela, please allow me to add my two colons.

Costa Rica is upset about the flow of "speculative" U.S. dollars into their economy. As usual, they have floated trial balloons that will solve nothing and make many aspects of life here more expensive or uncertain.

How does one separate ‘speculative’ dollars seeking to ‘exploit’ offered time deposit interest rates from ‘nice’ dollars needed to buy rice and beans and marchamos and pay the guy watching your car while you shop the feria for fruit?

As Dennis Jay noted, U.S. dollars are here in great numbers because the U.S. is Costa Rica’s #1 trade partner and because tourists bring them.

I’ll add that dollars abound because some Ticos get paid in them to move, store and look-the-other-way when cocaine passes through going north, because Costa Rica mandates every legal foreign resident exchange large amounts into colons as a condition of residency, because Ticos working outside the country send them back to the family, because multi-nationals like Intel and Merck are important parts of the economy.

US Dollars are everywhere because they are the world’s reserve currency upon which every commodity from pineapples to gold is priced.

Costa Rica NEEDS them to purchase oil, foods, medicines, whatever, because the colon’s value approaches zero once past the frontier.

I once met a former Costa Rican Central Bank president. I asked him why Costa Rica, a country one-third the size of Florida, needed its own currency. He chuckled knowingly. "Patria." There is no other logical reason. Unfortunately, the colon will not save Costa Rica from future U.S. dollar depreciation.

It’s too early to know what’s in the works, but there are so many examples of how people will be hurt if the government institutes restrictions, i.e. taxes, on international currency movement.

Here’s one example that has already occurred because “investment abhors uncertainty”.

I have been contemplating the purchase of a house here to live in — just little ole me. But for this purchase I now wonder if money wired into Costa Rica for this home-of-my-dreams will soon be categorized as speculative. Will I have to prove this house isn’t to flip? To rent out as a business?

If so, experience teaches that to avoid this damning definition and any tax, an attorney and a mountain of time-consuming papers will need to be tra(u)mitized. And knowing that when I eventually sell and repatriate the money back to the U.S.A., that Costa Rica would tax the entire sum up to 25 percent more, would I still go ahead with the purchase? Game over. Not me. Listo. I owned a home here before, and I will not purchase another house here without clarity going into the future.

So the Tico electricians and plumbers and painters and furniture sales people I would automatically need for this new purchase can stay home and rot, I mean root for Saprissa (or Liga), because I won’t be hiring them and buying things as I remain a contented renter.

So Costa Rica, initiate these money movement taxes/restrictions and watch the housing market further collapse when word gets out to the Internet. And note that with me, the snowball just started rolling down the hill. All it takes is the threat from a government of currency controls, and they lose customers. That is not a good way to run a business, and it already seems to be Costa Rica, S.A.

Unfortunately, this new ‘tax concept’ is just more of the same mariachi song. The tax collector just doubled the value of my little 2004 Toyota Yaris with roll up windows and no extras so they could increase my 2013 marchamo tax 50 percent. My car is worth again as much as when I purchased it used in 2006! Forget monkeys, this is the true magic of Costa Rica!

Curiously, the purchase of time deposits — CD’s — the horror of Señora Laura’s weapon of mass destruction dreams, are not normally considered economic speculation, but the most boring, widow’s-and-orphans safe investment in existence.

And since Ticos can buy their high interest CD’s all day without stigma, some also changing dollars to colons, the balloon floated that money coming in and out of Costa Rica to purchase these ought to be selectively taxed is discriminatory. Hola, Sala Cuatro!

But the people in charge of the country I love enough to care about, should just be thrilled out of their pejibaye skins that folks will actually LOAN THEM MONEY, because that is what one does purchasing a CD.

And they the borrowers are paying a higher interest rate to the person LOANING them the money because 1. the time deposit currency is itself CONTROLLED BY THE BORROWER without public review and is nonconvertible on Main Street, and 2. the credit rating of the BORROWER is below average. The person loaning the money is doing THE BORROWER a favor in taking back a piece of paper known as a contract in exchange for cash.

There are certain aspects of living here (for 15 years now) that enamor me to love this country. But the Costa Rican way of raising taxes while crying about some invented hurt without cutting spending is not one of them.

As a conservative investor, I’ll posit that loaning money to Costa Rica or any of its state institutions is risky business and one should be remunerated accordingly.
Kevin Kichinka
Rio Oro, Santa Ana

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
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 15
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Ex-Peace Corps volunteers to mark 50 years of service here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica was a different country 50 years ago when Victor Corbin arrived as one of the first U.S. Peace Corps volunteers.

Corbin, for years a Maryland high school teacher, will be among other former volunteers when they celebrate the corps half century mark in the country. The event will be at the Los Laureles residence of Ambassador Anne Slaughter Andrew Wednesday evening.

The Maryland teacher was in Esparza Monday planning his trip to the Central Valley.  Corbin got more than great satisfaction by being a Peace Corps volunteer. He met his wife, Sibella, here. They will celebrate their 48th year anniversary this year. They are staying with members of her family.

Corbin said that there had been other groups of volunteers sent overseas by the time he came to Costa Rica. But the other groups went elsewhere. The bulk of his time here was spent helping to train Costa Ricans in modern methods of teaching English as a second language. But he said he also taught classes himself.

The program here was established in 1963.  Since this time 3,445 Peace Corps volunteers have served with 136

volunteers actively serving today, said the agency's Web site.

Peace Corps volunteers in Costa Rica help the country by providing youth and community development, as well as education training in English and business.  They live in various regions of the country including the Central Valley, Limón, Puntarenas, Los Chiles and Paso Canoas.

One volunteer is working within a small community with eight women teaching micro entrepreneurship skills.  Together they have created a clothing business.  All the items sold are hand sewn by the women, according to the embassy Web site.

Past volunteers will be flying in to partake in this reunion and tell stories of their service.

Former president John F. Kennedy proposed the idea when he still was a senator. He promoted the idea in his successful 1960 presidential campaign. In all some 200,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries.

Trial panel declines to convict Mrs. Bender for husband's death
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A trial court Monday gave the benefit of the doubt to the wife of John Félix Bender. The woman, Ann Patton, was set free because judges said that there was not sufficient evidence that she had killed her husband, a multi-millionaire.

The defense maintained that his death Jan. 8, 2010 in the  five-story 8,000-square-foot glass-walled showplace home was suicide.

Prosecutors most certainly will appeal, and the appellate panel could confirm the verdict or order a new trial. The full verdict will not be available until Friday.

Bender earned in excess of $600 million with a mathematical approach to Wall Street investing. He ran several arbitrage funds before suffering a stroke in 2000, according to online sources.

Mrs. Bender, who is a Brazilian naturalized as a U.S. citizen, was detained shortly after the death. They lived on the  5,000-acre Refugio de Vida Silvestre Boracayán in La Floridad de Barú de Peréz Zeledon.
Mrs. Bender testified a week ago and said that the death was a suicide. Judicial investigators spent the week trying to show that evidence at the scene contradicted this possibility. Investigators talked about the position of the body, the location of the entry wound and other details. But they lacked a motive and they lacked clear evidence that Mrs. Bender fired the shot.

The trial ran through Friday and saw testimony from 25 witnesses in the Tribunal Penal de Pérez Zeledón. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 25 years. When the trial finished, some observers expected Monday's verdict because of the gaps in the prosecution case.

Bender was said to be bipolar and had attempted suicide once before.

Mrs. Patton still faces a case relating to the large quantity of jewelry found in the home. Although they were not searching for jewelry, agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization confiscated boxes of jewels. The material includes loose stones and fully produced bracelets and watches. The jewels may be unrelated to the murder investigation, but agents said at the time that import taxes may not have been paid on the material.

Split in natural gas tank blamed for blaze that burned four
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An explosion and fire Monday serves to remind expats of the dangers of liquified natural gas, the type many homes use for cooking.

The mishap Monday was in Barrio El Carmen, Alajuela, near the Escuela Holanda. The Cuerpo de Bomberos said that a 25-pound gas cylinder appears to have developed a split in a side. Gas leaked out and created an explosive mix with the air.

The small eating place was the scene of an explosion and fire. A child suffered burns over 70 percent of the body.  Three
women suffered burns over 60 percent of their bodies, said fire fighters.

Fire fighters said that the split in the metal tank was possibly caused by metal fatigue. Similar fires have taken place because of leaks around the connections or hoses. In fact, the Cuerpo de Bomberos  said that problems with valves is the No. 1 cause of emergencies, followed by hose problems. Sometimes homeowners use hoses that are not designed for gas.

Five persons have died since 2009 in gas explosions. There have been 16 to 17 gas emergencies in the last two years, fire fighters said.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 15
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Researchers carrying out excavation works at the Tianyuan Cave where the leg bones had been found in 2003.
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing, photo

Ancient leg bone in China related to native Americans, Asians
By the Max Planck Institute news staff

Ancient DNA has revealed that humans living some 40,000 years ago in the area near Beijing were likely related to many present-day Asians and Native Americans.

An international team of researchers sequenced nuclear and mitochondrial DNA that had been extracted from the leg of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing, China. Analyses of this individual's DNA showed that the Tianyuan human shared a common origin with the ancestors of many present-day Asians and Native Americans. In addition, the researchers found that the proportion of Neanderthal and Denisovan-DNA in this early modern human is not higher than in people living in this region nowadays.

Researchers included Svante Pääbo and Qiaomei Fu of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Humans with morphology similar to present-day humans appear in the fossil record across Eurasia between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago. The genetic relationships between these early modern humans and present-day human populations had not yet been established. Researchers extracted nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from a 40,000 year old leg bone found in 2003 at the Tianyuan Cave site located outside Beijing. For their study the researchers were using new techniques that can identify ancient genetic material from an archaeological find even when large quantities of DNA from soil bacteria are present.

The researchers then reconstructed a genetic profile of the leg's owner. “This individual lived during an important
leg bone
Max Planck Institute photo
 The leg of the early modern human from Tianyuan Cave
 was used for the genetic analysis as well as for carbon

evolutionary transition when early modern humans, who shared certain features with earlier forms such as Neanderthals, were replacing Neanderthals and Denisovans, who later became extinct”, says Pääbo, who led the study.

The genetic profile reveals that this early modern human was related to the ancestors of many present-day Asians and Native Americans but had already diverged genetically from the ancestors of present-day Europeans. In addition, the Tianyuan individual did not carry a larger proportion of Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA than present-day people in the region. “More analyses of additional early modern humans across Eurasia will further refine our understanding of when and how modern humans spread across Europe and Asia”, said Pääbo.

Activists promise to continue fight against modified corn plants
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Activists who oppose genetically modified corn pledged early today to redouble their efforts and cause various municipalities to declare themselves free of the innovative plants.

The Bloque Verde acknowledged that the government's Comisión Técnica Nacional de Bioseguridad has approved the planting of genetically modified corn that has been developed by Monsanto, the U.S. chemical firm.
The permission for a small planting of the special corn seeds went to DPL Semillas, a Monsanto subsidiary.

The corn has been modified to resist a weed killer.  Activist say that the pollen of the modified corn will pollute the genetic pool of local corn. They have embarked on an effort to have municipalities ban the corn.

Legal cases are likely to follow.  Activists also promised some sort of peaceful group action against the Monsanto firm.

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Festivities, progressive talk
highlight Obama inaugural

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

With singer Jennifer Hudson crooning the ballad "Let's Stay Together," U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle took the spotlight at two inaugural balls in Washington Monday evening.

Michelle Obama, wearing a red Jason Wu gown designed especially for the night, sang in her husband's ear as they danced.

The balls, and inaugural day traditions, cap off two days of official ceremonies as President Obama begins his second term.

Earlier, flag-waving crowds of hundreds of thousands of people turned out for inauguration ceremonies and celebrations of Obama's second term of office.

They and millions more Americans who watched and listened to broadcasts of Monday's events heard the president lay down a strong progressive agenda in his second inaugural address, demanding moderation from the conservative political opposition in Congress.

Jubilation and cheers filled Washington's most famous boulevard, Pennsylvania Avenue, as Obama and his wife stepped out of their limousine to walk part of the traditional parade route that follows a Capitol inauguration. The parade was one of the highlights of the inauguration, with elaborate floats, marching bands from all 50 states.

Just before noon, the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, led the president in the oath of office on a ceremonial stage outside the Capitol, the seat of the U.S. government. Seated nearby were congressional leaders, family members, celebrities and two former presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

​​​​Obama and Vice President Joe Biden actually had been officially sworn into office on Sunday, since the U.S. Constitution mandates January 20 for the swearing in. So Monday was above all a day for public celebration and uplifting speeches. By coincidence it also was the annual U.S. holiday commemorating the renowned civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968, shortly after his 45th birthday.

The president's address that followed stressed some of the main themes of his 2012 re-election campaign — equality, and making the cherished national values of life and liberty a reality for every American.

​​“For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well, and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class," said Obama in his 19-minute address.

​​The president looked ahead to a future United States where all Americans, women as well as men, no matter what their sexual preferences, are treated equally under the law. He called on fellow citizens to put aside their political differences and work together to solve the country’s problems.

Implicitly criticizing Republicans and Mitt Romney, his opponent in the presidential race, Obama offered a robust defense of Medicare and Social Security, noting those programs "do not make us a nation of takers."

World cautiously optimistic
on second term by Obama

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

China says it is cautiously optimistic about its relations with the United States as President Barack Obama begins his second term as the American leader.

The Xinhua state news agency said Monday that the "lack of strategic trust has become the main obstacle to a mature China-U.S. relationship."

But Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that advancing healthy and stable relations is in the fundamental interests of both countries.  The U.S. and China oversee the world's two largest economies, but often have sparred over trade and currency issues as well as over Southeast Asian territorial disputes in the western Pacific.

Afghan residents said they want Obama to prioritize peace initiatives in Afghanistan and invest in the country's long-term infrastructure and national security needs.

One resident said, "He should be looking at security and stability in Afghanistan.  There is a growing poverty in the country and everyone including workers, businessmen and even the government are concerned about 2014, because they think Afghanistan will be abandoned once again following the withdrawal of foreign troops."

An African leader, the deputy chairman of the African Union, Erastus Mwencha, said the continent was not looking for "anything extraordinary" during Obama's new four-year term, but rather new economic growth.

"We are not looking for anything extraordinary for his second term. We have got an agenda first of all to secure development for the continent, and we want also to make sure we also see favorable environmental and economic relations (that) encourages trade, investment and . . . cooperation,"' Mwencha said.

Obama was sworn in on Sunday in a private ceremony at the White House, with a public inaugural Monday on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.  He told a group of supporters Sunday night that the inauguration is a celebration of the country and its ideals.
"What we are celebrating is not the election or swearing-in of a president; what we are doing is celebrating each other and celebrating this incredible nation that we call home.  And after we celebrate, let's make sure to work as hard as we can to pass on an America that is worthy not only of our past, but also of our future," he said.

Longer effort  at CPR
is said to save lives

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia news staff

Experts from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia were among the leaders of two large national studies showing that extending CPR longer than previously thought useful saves lives in both children and adults. The research teams analyzed impact of duration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in patients who suffered cardiac arrest while hospitalized.

“These findings about the duration of CPR are game-changing, and we hope these results will rapidly affect hospital practice,” said Robert A. Berg, chief of critical care medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Berg is the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the American Heart Association’s Get With Guidelines-Resuscitation program. That quality improvement program is the only national registry that tracks and analyzes resuscitation of patients after in-hospital cardiac arrests.

The investigators reported data from the registry of CPR outcomes in thousands of North American hospital patients in two landmark studies — one in children, published Monday, the other in adults, published in October.

The conventional thinking has been that CPR is futile after 20 minutes, but Berg said these results challenge that assumption.
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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 15
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Unwanted electronic items
sought in Desamparados

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Desamparados canton is conducting a campaign to collect technological waste items that residents have at home.

“In a world dependent on technology like today, we all have broken cell phones, computer equipment in disuse, old toners and ink, broken down home appliances, as well as other equipment and electronic accessories that we can not throw away so they clog homes and offices,” said a release.

Instead of hoarding these items, persons can bring them to Parque La Libertad Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m..

This campaign is carried out in support and collaboration of Mega Campaña de Reciclaje Electrónico and is for a greener Costa Rica. “This year this campaign will take place in the greater Metropolitan Area and more than 35 public institutions, private companies and several municipalities will participate,” said Lidia Noches, environmental Manager of Parque La Libertad.

According to Ms. Noches, this is the second time the park has collected electronic waste.  The first time was in December and was in partnership with Hewlett Packard.  Those who participated requested another event.

The collection location will be at the entrance of Fátima. To access, those who wish to leave electronic items should come to Río Azul, opposite the plaza de fútbol.

Other waste such as paper, plastic packaging will not be collected.

Another raid closes
bird-fighting setup

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers have raided a chicken fighting operation in La Rita, Pococí, Alajuela. Officers detained the presumed owner.

They said some 76 persons were present as were 44 fighting bird. Such fights are illegal in Costa Rica.

Police had help from the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal, which took charge of the birds and will kill them.

Such chicken fights have been illegal since 1933, police said. But only recently have officers began to crack down. Spectators bet heavily on the outcome of the fights, and there generally is illegal alcohol available. The fights are a Latin American tradition.

Palmares score: 342

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The  Festejos de Palmares 2013 has ended, and police say they have detained 342 persons, mot for drug violations.

The most prevalent drug was marijuana, according to police reports. Officers confiscated 287 small amounts, the said.

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A.M. Costa Rica
Seventh Newspage

Chili cookoff
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 15
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Population squeezes energy sources

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Population growth threatens to strain Earth’s water and food resources. By 2050, nine billion people will be living on the planet, up from six billion today.

The problem facing the world community is how to meet those needs while reining in the global greenhouse gases warming the earth.

Progress has been made. Since world leaders met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the first Earth Summit on Sustainable Development 20 years ago, global poverty has fallen by half, per capita income has doubled and life expectancy has increased by four years.

Yet those advances have come at a very high cost to the global environment, says Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute.

“We’ve had 3.3 million deaths every year over the last 20 years from pollution. We’ve been losing forests, 13 million hectares every year. That’s the size of England every single year. We’ve had a 50 percent increase in carbon dioxide and we’re now heading towards a world in which average temperatures will be four degrees Celsius above what they were historically.”

Currently 1.3 billion people lack electricity, even as a burgeoning middle class — expected to grow from 2 billion to 5 billion people by 2050 – is demanding more electric power.

Steers says 1,200 coal-fired power plants have been proposed globally in 59 countries, largely in China and India, two of the world’s biggest sources of carbon emissions. He notes renewable energy investment fell in 2012 for the first time in eight years.

But Steers is encouraged by government policies which could help reverse that trend.

“Over 100 countries now have renewable energy targets. And so what we’re looking out for this year is whether some of those new policies have bite and whether we are going to cross a threshold so that renewable energy is recognized as a truly economically viable solution.”

Ken Green, who directs the Center for Energy and Natural Resources Studies at the Fraser Institute, a free-market public policy research group based in Canada, says the market share for renewables is slim and doesn’t see them making headway any time soon.​
Instead he expects what he calls the renewal bubble to burst.

“The growth in green investments that have been inflated by governments spending themselves into huge debts and deficits, and from the look of things in Europe and in the U.S., all that debt-fueled spending is going to have to come to an end sooner rather than later, based on their economies," Green says. "So I'd expect green investments to decline as more private investors realize that it’s a highly uncertain place to put your money.”

In 2012, the United Nations launched an initiative to provide universal access to energy, double energy efficiency and double the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030.

The World Bank is a partner in the effort. Rachel Kyte, the bank's vice president for sustainable development, says to meet those goals and reduce the risks of runaway climate change, nations must consider a greener energy mix that includes renewable sources and natural gas.
“There have been a series of very big natural gas finds offshore of the developing world. That becomes a huge opportunity to substitute for coal and to move to a greener energy mix in the short-to-medium term," Ms. Kyte says. "We’ve seen what gas has done for the U.S. emissions profile and for the U.S. economy and gas is changing the geopolitics of energy as a result.”

The World Bank calculates there is a $1 trillion gap in financing for infrastructure in the developing world. In spite of global economic uncertainty, Ms. Kyte says, ways must be found to cut investment risk. 

She suggests, for example, tapping the $500 billion industrial nations spend for fossil fuel subsidies.

"You can take that $500 billion and repurpose it to make the kinds of investments in the green infrastructure that you need for the future and the competitive jobs that people need to have in the future."

Scientists are predicting more extreme weather like the droughts, storms and wildfires that spread across the globe in 2012 as the planet heats up with man-made carbon emissions from factories, cars and buildings.

Ms. Kyte says more frequent and severe weather may be the impetus for more climate-savvy environmental policies.

“This is going to be a repeated pattern through 2013 and 2014, the intensity of these weather events. And nobody is immune. Nobody is immune. And so this will continue I think to push the agenda to the top of political priorities.”

Ms. Kyte says what needs to be done is mostly known.

International Labor Organization says
Youth unemployment threatens stability

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The International Labor Organization reports nearly 200 million people worldwide are without jobs, and it forecasts higher unemployment this year. The organization's “Global Employment Trends 2013” report warns the high level of youth unemployment is of particular concern.

The International Labor Organization reports the number of unemployed worldwide rose by 4.2 million in 2012 after falling for two straight years.  It says one-quarter of that increase is in the advanced economies, while three-quarters is in developing economies in East and South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The report finds a further 39 million people around the world have dropped out of the labor market and are not counted in the jobless rate.  It says the average duration of unemployment has increased significantly, with one-third of all job seekers in developed countries being unemployed for one year or longer.  

Guy Ryder, the organization's director general, said future prospects are not good, as the forecast global economic recovery is not expected to be strong enough to bring down unemployment quickly. 

“We see that unemployment is set to rise again.  Our projection would be for 5.1 million more in 2013 and still a further 3 million in 2014.  So the trends are very much in the wrong direction,”Ryder said. 

The organization predicts the number of job seekers will rise to more than 210 million over the next five years. The report says the labor market is particularly bleak for young people. It says almost 74 million people aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed around the world — an unemployment rate of 12.6 percent.

The report says more and more young people who experience long-term unemployment get discouraged and drop out of the labor market.  It says this hurts their long-term job prospects and prevents young people from gaining on-the-job experience.

Ryder says another problem relates to what he calls labor market mismatch.  He explains as new jobs become available, many require skills that job seekers do not have.  This skills mismatch, he says, is negatively affecting the prospects for labor market recovery, if and when economic growth takes hold.

“I was given rather a potent reminder of the realities of this mismatch myself in Tunisia last week, where I was told by the Tunisian authorities on the occasion of the second anniversary of the revolution there that there are as many empty posts in Tunisia, work posts for which workers cannot be found, as there are unemployed.  Nevertheless, unemployment remains at the stubbornly high levels that it does -- over 30 percent for young people,” Ryder said. 

A 26-year-old Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in December 2010 when police confiscated his fruit stand.  His action is generally credited with having started the Arab Spring, which has triggered ongoing riots across the Middle East and North Africa.

Ryder warns continued youth unemployment around the world could lead to further social instability.  He says promoting jobs for young people must be a priority. 

The report says the employment situation for young people is expected to improve slightly in developed economies over the next five years. But it says youth unemployment is expected to rise in emerging economies in Eastern Europe, in East and Southeast Asia and in the Middle East.
Useful links
Foreign Embassies
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San José, Costa Rica
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