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Cocal for Jan. 20
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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Monday, Jan. 27, 2014,  in Vol. 14, No. 18                          Email us
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Lionfish: It's what's for dinner for Richard Agraba in Salt Cay, Turks and Caicos islands.
Researchers say spearing lionfish is the best approach
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is confirmation that human intervention can control the invasive lionfish and allow native fish to recover.

The lionfish has been munching its way through all sorts of sea creature in the Caribbean for at least 10 years. The threat to juvenile fish is so great that the Asociacion de Pescadores Artesanales del Caribe Sur runs an annual contest. The group includes fishermen from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo and Punta Uva who are seeking to preserve their traditional lifestyle by snagging as many lionfish as possible.

The University of Oregon now says that this is the correct approach. After 18 months of field testing and with computer models researchers said that reducing lionfish numbers by specified amounts will allow a rapid recovery of native fish. They said that at the sites they studied a reduction should be between 75 and 95 percent.

The only way to do this is with human divers spearing the colorful fish. It helps that they are tasty as long as cooks avoid the poisonous spines.

This voracious, invasive species has wiped out 95
percent of native fish in some Atlantic locations said the Oregon researchers who worked in conjunction with scientists at Simon Fraser University.

The latest research used ecological modeling to determine what percentage of lionfish would have to be removed at a given location to allow for native fish recovery. At 24 coral reefs near Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas researchers then removed the necessary amount of lionfish to reach this threshold and monitored recovery of the ecosystem.

On reefs where lionfish were kept below threshold densities, native fish increased by 50 to 70 percent.

It’s one of the first studies of its type to demonstrate that reduction of an invasive species below an environmentally damaging threshold, rather than outright eradication, can have comparable benefits.

“This is excellent news,” said Stephanie Green, a marine ecologist in the College of Science at Oregon State University, and lead author on the report just published in Ecological Applications. “It shows that by creating safe havens, small pockets of reef where lionfish numbers are kept low, we can help native species recover. “And we don’t have to catch every lionfish to do it.” She was quoted by the university.

Robberies and gunplay results in two weekend deaths 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two robbers in Pavas confronted homeowners as they arrived at their house and forced them into the dwelling.

That happened Thursday night about 9 p.m., said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The crooks made off with jewels and electronic devices worth about $4,000 after locking up those present.

In another robbery case in Bagaces, bandits confronted a woman just as she was entering her home Saturday night. Two men on a motorcycle pulled up between 8 and 8:30 p.m. while the woman was outside the home.

Her husband, identified by the last name of Mora, heard his wife scream and came out of the house.
The bandits shot him dead. He was 42.

Another man, who had the last name of Portillo, died in Hospital San Juan de Dios Saturday afternoon after having been confronted by a man with a gun in  Rincón Grande in Pavas. The man, 19, was on foot when another pedestrian pulled a gun and shot him in the back, said judicial agents.

Saturday night Fuerza Pública officers detained a 20-year-old suspect.

In Sabanilla about 6:30 p.m. Saturday two men with guns entered a pharmacy and stuck up the three employees and the two customers there. The crooks made one employee lower the steel security curtain on the business and then loaded up on medicines, drugs and the available cash. 

Then they fled on a motorcycle owned by the pharmacy, said judicial agents.

150 more bridges will get basic inspections this year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's road agency has firmed up plans for bridge inspections by experts from the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica. The first basic inspections will be 44 bridges in Guanacaste, 39 in Puntarenas, 16 in Alajuela, four in San José, 17 in Cartago and five in Heredia, said the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

In addition to basic inspections, the agreement between the university and the road agency calls for three detailed inspections every four months.

The first set of detailed inspections will be of the bridge on the General Cañas highway over the Río Virilla, one in Tibás, a bridge over the Río Colorado in Grecia and a bridge over the Río Tempisque in Cañas.

The university will collect $556,000 in 2014 for the work.
A similar series of studies is being done by the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales of the Universidad de Costa Rica.

That contract calls for inspection of some 1,300 bridges and is worth $7.9 million.

Despite the inspections, there is no guarantee that bridges will be repaired. The Consejo said that the results will be entered into a data base to provide information for planning repairs.

Bridges have been a problem for the Laura Chinchilla administration. Perhaps the most long-running problem is the Río Virilla bridge on the General Cañas, the so-called platina bridge. The steel plating over the expansion joint keeps popping up, and extensive efforts to fix it have proved ineffective.

There have been efforts since 2009 to fix the bridge, but officials now say that the bridge structure is too flexible to support the concrete and steel deck.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 18

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Professional Directory
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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Colinas photo


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Election campaign climaxes
with rallies by two parties

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The election campaign entered its final week Sunday with rallies by two major political parties.

Sunday was the last day for public campaigning, and Thursday is the last day for ads.

Channel 6 hosts a debate among some presidential candidates tonight. It is the last of the campaign.

Partido Liberación Nacional held its rally in San José. The Partido Acción Ciudadana held its rally in Heredia.

Meanwhile, Frente Amplio supporters were walking the streets with the party's yellow flags. Some even were on bicycles Sunday.

Montes de Oca will be dry
next Sunday, election day

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Drinkers in San Pedro will have to stock up early if they wish to toast the Sunday elections.

The municipal mayor, Fernando Trejos B., said that the  Municipalidad de Montes de Oca will be dry over election day. Under the current liquor law, cantons have the right to determine how they will handle alcohol, something that used to be reserved for the central government.

But those drinkers who forget to stock up, can simply take the bus to San José, which is not ordering a dry weekend.

Banning alcohol on election day stems from the old custom of politicians buying votes with drinks.

About 400 detained in Palmares

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The final score for arrests during the Fiesta de Palamares is about 400, said the Fuerza Pública. 352 of these arrests were for drug violations, they said. Officers confiscated marijuana and cocaine, including crack cocaine, they said.

Our reader's opinion
There are plenty of pitfalls
in structuring tax policy

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your article on the drivers of future taxes was compelling. Reducing the deficit can be achieved by a mixture of: restricting automatic pay rises, high pensions, the number employees in the public sector; tax increases and stricter tax enforcement. You can draw your own conclusions as to where the emphasis will be here.

A value added tax, VAT, like sales tax, falls on those spending money. It therefore tends to reduce expenditure, employment and economic activity. If it is high, it causes a growth in the black or cash economy which is already large in this country. It also hits the poor the most, as it is the same percentage for all. The rich do pay more because they spend more.

In some countries VAT is an instrument of social policy. There are higher rates for luxury goods and lower taxes on food and children's clothing.

There are other possible tax moves which you might worry about. In Greece and Cyprus they simply confiscated a percentage of bank deposits above a certain threshold. There could be reductions in the thresholds for luxury tax. The U.S. is almost unique in taxing worldwide income. Costa Rica could choose to do the same. There could be higher road tolls and more of them. London has a road tax on entry to the city. San José could have the same. Car taxes could rise.

Keeping the currency at a stable but artificial rate is not smart. If rates are too high against the dollar, they will cause a reduction in exports and employment.  The list is endless.

From casual observation, the reform that would dominate all others would come from reducing endemic tax evasion. That is easier said than done and would require elimination of corrupt officials and a radical change in trust of the system and local culture. Skepticism on the likelihood of such reforms and changes is justified.

We expats are deeply interested in such things for obvious reasons, but we are a minority and the politicians will decide without considering our views. We must either see tax as part of the price of living here or leave.
Chris Clarke
Sometime banker and economist.

Study casts some doubt on value
of paid search engine advertising

By the University of California at Berkeley news service

Businesses spend billions to reach customers through online advertising but just how effective are paid search ads? Using data from eBay, economist Steven Tadelis at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business compared whether consumers are more likely to click on paid ads than on free, generic search results and found that advertisers may not be getting their money’s worth.

“We found that when you turn off the paid advertising, almost all of the traffic that came through the paid search is just substituted by the other free channels,” says Tadelis, associate professor in the Haas Business and Public Policy Group.

Tadelis conducted the study, “Consumer Heterogeneity and Paid Search Effectiveness: A Large Scale Field Experiment,” at eBay. The study was co-authored by Thomas Blake, an economist in the economics research team that Tadelis started at eBay, and former eBay economist Chris Nosko of the University of Chicago.

To measure the effectiveness of paid search, the researchers turned off eBay’s paid search in 68 direct marketing areas in the U.S. In other words, if a consumer typed in the search term white blouse while online in these markets, he or she would only see the generic search results at the top of the list, not the paid ad that typically appears in a shaded box at the top of the search. The consumer would not see any retail ads by eBay for “white blouse” but only from other advertisers who bid on the “white blouse” keywords.

At the end of 60 days, Tadelis and his colleagues compared sales of two groups: one group that received no paid search results and another group in which paid search remained untouched. Again, consumer sales as a result of the paid search showed no measurable increase off those who made purchases via unpaid channels, such as organic searches, or directly visiting

In order to ensure the robustness of their results, in a second experiment, the researchers also eliminated eBay’s paid keyword searches throughout the country and then compared sales for that period to an equivalent period with paid search on.

“If advertising is indeed a strong driver of sales, we should have seen sales plummet," says Tadelis. "But the impact on sales was indistinguishable and not significantly different than zero.”

Furthermore, for brand keywords such as eBay or other company name keywords, paid ads sit just above the generic search results. For example, a search for Macy’s results in a Macy’s free search below the Macys paid ad.  Consequently, Tadelis says the paid search result adds no additional benefit to the advertiser. “It’s not that clicking on the result caused engagement, it’s that the intent to engage caused people to click on it,” says Tadelis.

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 18
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This has to be sort of like smuggling with training wheels
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Drug smugglers risk their lives or possible years of imprisonment for significant financial gain. The same is true for smugglers of cigarettes or alcohol. But yuca?

Nevertheless, two men have been detained for trying to bring 1,200 kilos of yuca into the country from Panamá, according to the Fuerza Pública.

Yuca, also known as cassava, is a starchy plant product familiar to most Costa Ricans. The culinary possibilities are many, from fried yuca to enyucadas heavy with meat and cheese.

As far as price, yuca ranks down there with potatoes.

So a load of 1,200 kilos of yuca would seem not to be the  choice of smugglers.

The Feurza Pública said that the cargo of 171 sacks lacked agricultural and customs approvals, so it was confiscated for destruction.
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policia y Segurdad Pública
Police officer inspects the load of yuca.

Police will be showing their names on their new uniforms
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police are getting new uniforms, and each now will have a last name sewed on the uniform blouse so that citizens and residents can quickly identify with whom they are dealing. This has not always been the case.

The Dirección General de la Fuerza Pública said that it purchased more than 12,000 uniforms and will be delivering 4,500 to officers in the next few days. They look the same as the ones worn now, but officials say that these are waterproof
and designed to provide more ventilation to officers through a breathable fabric. The cost was $1.3 million or some 649 million colons.

Juan José Andrade Morales, the director general, also said that the design is unique to avoid being copied by crooks. However, the difference is not apparent in photos supplied by the agency.

There have been a series of crimes in which crooks dressed in police uniforms had the advantage to invade homes or hijack trucks.

Limon hearing on container facilty is disrupted again
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A hearing on the proposed $1 billion container facility in Limón again has been suspended due to unruly spectators.

Reports from Limón said that an effort to resume the hearing failed when members of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Japdeva began throwing items at the speaker table.

The Secretaría Técnica Ambiental was ordered by the Sala IV constitutional court to resume the hearing even though the first
one was suspected due to misbehavior by union members. Japdev is the Junta de Administración Portuaria y. Desarrollo Económica de la Vertiente Atlántica, the government agency that runs the public docks.

Union members oppose the construction of the new facility on concession by APM Terminals, a highly experienced Dutch firm.

President Laura Chinchilla called the misbehaving members of the audience enemies of progress in a Tweet.


You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 18
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Three-toed sloth enigma may have a nutritional answer, researcher reports
By the University of Wisconsin at Madison news service

For the three-toed sloth, a trip to the restroom is no rest at all. It's a long, slow descent into mortal danger from the safety of home among the upper branches of the forest.

But the harrowing and excruciatingly slow trip may be key to staving off starvation.

"What is striking about this behavior is the vulnerability," says Jonathan Pauli, a professor of forest and wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies the deliberate, molasses-slow animals in northeast Costa Rica. "It's very dangerous. And the energy required is non-negligible for an animal that has such a restricted diet."

Unlike the two-toed sloth — which is, shall we say, less restrictive in its choice of latrine — the three-toed sloths creep down trees every eight days or so to the base of their tree. Once on the ground, they dig a hole with their tails, defecate in it, and cover the pile with leaf litter. Then, it's back up the tree in an achingly sluggish climb.

The fastidious ritual — nearly the only reason a sloth leaves the limbs of just a few trees — may be the leading cause of death among the sloths. More than half the deaths Pauli and collaborators documented during field research came at the claws and teeth of predators pouncing on sloths on or near the ground.

"There were historically more native large cats and canids, like foxes, jaguars and ocelots, and now more and more feral dogs hunting in these forests," Pauli says. "A sloth on the ground is such an easy meal for them. So this risky behavior must confer some sort of advantage."

Previous explanations for the sloth's dangerous choice included communication with other sloths and a gracious gift of fertilizer to the just one or two trees a three-toed sloth calls home.

Neither of those notions seemed worth it to Pauli, who was struck by another possibility while watching a David Attenborough video describing the mold, insects and other crud that resides in the plodding animal's thick fur.

Among the fur fauna are small pyralid moths with a particular attachment to the sloth's near-weekly trip to poop on the ground.

When the sloth squats to do its business, some female pyralid moths will emerge from the sloth fur to lay their eggs in the sloth's dung. The moth larvae then eat their way out of the sloth waste, emerging as moths that flutter back up into the tree overhead. There, they find a sloth and render themselves nearly flightless, damaging their wings to burrow into the wet, matted fur to mate and renew their life cycle.

"That is a lot of reliance on the sloth," Pauli says. "The moth is strictly dependent on the sloth in each step of its life. That made us wonder if the sloth was making this dangerous trip for the moth because the moth provides something relatively important to the sloth."

In fact, Pauli's research shows that the moths may give their all to the sloth in return for nursery for larvae and shelter and mating grounds for adults.

"Sloths live on the nutritional red line," Pauli says. "Judging from their diet — which is all leaves from the tree they live in — they shouldn't be able to maintain even the slow lifestyle that makes them so fascinating to a lot of people." 
three-toes sloth
  Unversity of Wisconsin at Madison photo
Three-toed sloth gets supplementary nutrition  from insects and  algae.

Pauli and graduate student Jorge Mendoza turned to the sloth's fur in search of another dietary contributor. Three-toed sloths tend to appear a mottled
green color, thanks to algae growing in a combination of water trapped by unique cracks in the sloth's hair and nitrogen released by fungi breaking down dead pyralid moths.

More moths, more nitrogen, more algae (which may also provide camouflage to the treed sloths, protecting them from flying predators). And the broad team of researchers — Pauli tapped entomologists, limnologists and bacteriologists — found the algae in samples taken from the stomachs of three-toed sloths.

Why does the sloth poop in the woods? Maybe because it's hungry. Maybe to better hide among the leaves. Probably to lend the moths a three-toed leg up.
"It could be that even just small amounts of the algae makes ends meet, if only because it's so rich in lipids," Pauli says. "Having this highly-digestible, high-fat algae could be an important input that makes the difference when malnutrition is at stake."

At least one question remains. It's not clear how the algae get into the sloth's stomach or how much of it they're actually consuming.

"We think they're getting it from themselves," Pauli says. "They spent a non-negligible amount of their time raking their fur with their claws, and we know they're so slow at it that the moths can stay ahead of the claws. So it's not grooming. It may be part of ingesting the algae."

Why does the sloth poop in the woods? Maybe because it's hungry. Maybe to better hide among the leaves. Probably to lend the moths a three-toed leg up.

And that, according to Pauli, is another lesson in the complex and unusual way organisms as different as a tiny moth and a seemingly over-sized, tree-confined mammal need each other to get along.

"There's some grandeur in these systems of mutualism," he says. "It makes us think about organisms that exploit such narrow niches."

Vacation, travel and hospitality

Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
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The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
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Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.
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Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

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

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Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
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Los Arcos gated community 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment $500 monthly. aAso efficiency apartment $300 month. 8841-1606

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
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 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80
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Lovely cottage on private coffee farm. One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed WiFi internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone  line, balcony with beautiful view, especially at  night with
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Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

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 
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 18
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Congressman doubts safety
can be guaranteed at Sochi

By the A.M.  Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. lawmaker says the safety of Americans attending the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia cannot be guaranteed.  Rep. Peter King, a Republican and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke on U.S. television Sunday.

King says he hopes for the best at next month’s Olympics, but security is a concern.

“The fact is that these are going to be very much threatened Olympics, probably more than any we have had in our past," the congressman said on ABC's This Week program. " I mean, everything is being done by the United States, but the fact is, this is a dangerous region in Russia, by the North Caucuses.  There are active terrorist organizations there.”

Russian security forces are reportedly searching for several suspected terrorists who may be plotting attacks during Olympic events.  Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said preparations have been made in case it is necessary to extract an estimated 10,000 Americans expected to attend the Winter Games, prompting this comment from King:

“I think that is an indicator of how seriously our government takes this - the fact that there are real threats there.  Even though Putin talks about the ring of steel around the Olympic venue, the fact is, once you get outside that venue or even go from venue to venue, there is real vulnerability,” King said., referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hagel said Russia has not requested U.S. assistance to safeguard the games.  King criticized Russian officials for allegedly being secretive about any intelligence they possess about security threats.  President Putin has pledged to do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of athletes and spectators alike.

Snowden expresses concern
that he is assassination target

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told German TV  Sunday about reports that U.S. government officials want to assassinate him for leaking secret documents about the collection of telephone records and emails.

In what German public broadcaster ARD said was Snowden's first television interview, Snowden also said he believes the NSA has monitored other top German government officials along with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Snowden told ARD that he felt there are significant threats to his life but he said that he nevertheless sleeps well because he believes he did the right thing by informing the public about the NSA's activities.

"I'm still alive and don't lose sleep for what I did because it was the right thing to do,'' said Snowden at the start of what ARD said was a six-hour interview that was filmed in a Moscow hotel suite. ARD aired 40 minutes of the six-hour interview.

"There are significant threats but I sleep very well,'' he said before referring to a report on a U.S. Web site that he said quoted anonymous U.S. officials saying his life was in danger. "These people, and they are government officials, have said.

"They would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower,'' Snowden said.

Questions about U.S. government spying on civilians and foreign officials became heated last June when Snowden leaked documents outlining the widespread collection of telephone records and email.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia last summer after fleeing the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges for leaking information about government surveillance practices.

The revelations shocked Germany, a country especially sensitive after the abuses by the Gestapo during the Nazi reign and the Stasi in Communist East Germany during the Cold War.

Reports the NSA monitored Merkel's mobile phone have added to the anger in Germany, which has been pushing for a no-spy agreement with the United States, a country it considers to be among its closest allies.

"What I can say is that we know that Angela Merkel was monitored by the NSA,'' said Snowden, wearing a dark suit and loose-fitting white shirt. "But the question is how logical is it that she's the only one who was monitored, how likely is it that she was the German person the NSA was watching?

''I'd say that it's not very likely that anyone who was watching the German government was only watching Merkel and not her advisers nor other government officials nor ministers, heads of industries or even local government officials."

Snowden said the NSA is active in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its national security value. He said the NSA doesn't limit its espionage to issues of national security and he cited German engineering firm Siemens as a target.

''If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to U.S. national interests - even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security, then they'll take that information nevertheless," Snowden said, according to ARD.

Snowden's claim the NSA is engaged in industrial espionage follows a New York Times report earlier this month that the NSA put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world, allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks.

The NSA planted most of the software after gaining access to computer networks, but has also used a secret technology that allows it entry even to computers not connected to the Internet, the newspaper said, citing U.S. officials, computer experts and documents leaked by Snowden.

The newspaper said the technology had been in use since at least 2008 and relied on a covert channel of radio waves transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards secretly inserted in the computers.

Frequent targets of the program, code-named Quantum, included units of the Chinese military and industrial targets.

Snowden faces criminal charges after fleeing to Hong Kong and then Russia, where he was granted at least a year's asylum.

He was charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national security information and giving classified intelligence data to an unauthorized person.

Obama's strategy in Pacific
remains a work in progress

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One of the main features of the global defense strategy laid out by President Barack Obama two years ago, shifting the U.S. military's focus from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region, is meeting significant challenges from China and its rapidly developing military power.
But U.S. military officials say American dominance of the Asia Pacific is not diminishing.
Recent actions by China, including its imposition of an aircraft identification zone over the East China Sea and a near collision between Chinese and U.S. warships, show that dominance is being challenged.
The Obama administration, in its efforts to shift focus from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Pacific, where China has been building up its forces, includes strategic placement of a new aircraft carrier and the development of hypersonic missile technology.
According to Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, interactions with Chinese forces in the region will only increase, and he is calling for a pragmatic approach that includes boosting military-to-military relations with China.
"We have to do better at being able to communicate with each other in a way that allows us to not lead to miscalculation that won't be productive in the security environment,” he said.
Defense analysts such as Barry Pavel of the Washington-based Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan think tank that promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic Community, question whether the shift in focus has actually meant a strengthening of forces in the Pacific.
“We have the deployment of 2,500 or so Marines to northern Australia that'll be there on a routine basis, not a very big nor significant deployment in my estimation," he said. "There's a couple of ships. I think they were littoral combat ships that were discussed as being home ported in Singapore, and then there really hasn't been anything else.”
The placing of a combat ship in Singapore is one of the visible signs of that refocus. The United States has announced the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is replacing the George Washington at Yokosuka in Japan, a one-for-one swap, but one the Navy says is an element of the rebalance.
U.S. officials are reviewing their military commitments to allies in the region and say they could add more ships, equipment and troops in the future.
With the U.S. military facing its biggest downsizing since the end of World War II, analysts say it remains to be seen how large any future military investment in the Pacific will be.

Domestic dispute gets blame
for mall shooting in Maryland

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Police in the eastern U.S. state of Maryland say three people were killed in a shooting Saturday at a shopping mall, including the suspected gunman, who appeared to have killed himself.

The mall in the Baltimore suburb of Columbia, Maryland, is just under 50 kilometers north of Washington.

Authorities say they were alerted to the shooting by an emergency phone call in the late morning.

Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon told a news conference the shooting occurred outside of a store on the upper level of the Mall of Columbia near the food court. He said the two people killed by the shooter were employees of the store, one male and one female, both in their 20s.

Media reports have indicated the shooting may have been a domestic incident. McMahon said authorities have no knowledge of that but are investigating. He said the suspect used a shotgun and had a large amount of ammunition. Five people were injured, but only one is reported to have suffered a gunshot wound.

Moe Moe Htun, an employee with Voice of America's English Web desk, was at a Starbuck's in the mall with her husband when the shooting took place.

"I heard bang, bang, bang, you know, very, very loudly, three times, and I thought, 'Oh, you know, it's from the construction,' because there's construction going on in that parking lot," she said. "So it was really, really very loud, and then it sounded like it came just across from where I was standing in Starbuck's in the mall. So then, just a few seconds later, there is a lady, and then she was running and then screaming 'Someone is shooting!'"

Htun, originally from Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, described a chaotic scene.

"People were so scared. You [could] see it on everybody's faces. People were just running out of the mall and grabbing the hands of their kids and just running out of the mall. People did not look back, just getting out of the mall as fast as you could."

Htun says she and her husband ran out of the mall and hid behind parked cars in case the shooter emerged outside.

"When I started running, I did not think twice, and I did not look back. I just ran, I was so frightened."

Police were soon there to help clear people from the mall and announced on Twitter a little more than an hour after the emergency call that the shopping center was believed to be secure.

But that is little consolation to witnesses like Htun, who says she shops at the Columbia mall often.

"Now, I don't feel safe to go to the mall," she said.  "It's like wherever you go, you have to keep your eyes and ears open, and then if you hear something, just don't think twice, just run because you can be a target."

White House, Republicans
trade barbs in advance of speech

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Washington is gearing up for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, to be delivered Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol.  The White House has already revealed major themes the president will discuss, and Republicans have telegraphed how they will respond.

Obama’s agenda for his sixth year in office includes a sharp focus on the growing gap between rich and poor Americans, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.

“The president sees this as a year of action, to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary to lift folks who want to come up into the middle class,” Carney told reporters during the White House press briefing.

Republicans agree on the need for greater economic opportunity, but say the president stands in the way. Saturday, Sen. Roy Blunt gave a preemptive rebuttal to the State of the Union address.

“What President Obama fails to acknowledge is that Americans are hurting as a result of his own policies," Blunt said. "This administration’s agenda to create more government, more spending, more taxes, and more debt has created an inequality crisis of opportunity in our country.  Those policies have been disproportionately hurtful to the poorest among us for the past five years.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a critic of the federal activism Obama champions, will deliver the Republican response to the president’s address.

“When Washington is the biggest obstacle to economic growth, we have a problem," Ms. Rogers said.

The White House countered by saying the Republican criticism is misguided, and ignores recent history.

“A lot of people were thrown into poverty by the worst recession since the Great Depression, which was in full bloom when President Obama was sworn into office," Carney noted.

Few observers expect the president’s address to jump-start bipartisan action in a polarized Congress.  At the very least, it will preview political battle lines and rhetorical markers for the year ahead, an election year in which all House seats and one-third of the senate will be contested.

Tax avoidance by Chinese elite
said to involve offshore havens

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Secret offshore bank accounts.  Disguised corporations set up in the world’s tax havens.  And, the sums involved in this concealment are staggering. This, according to a new investigative report, is China’s lifestyle of the rich and famous. And, it appears to reach right to the top of Beijing’s leadership.
The size of China’s illicit capital outflows has been measured by financial watchdog group Global Financial Integrity at US $1.08 trillion over the decade between 2002 and 2011. And, Global Financial says that pace has been sustained to the present.
The Washington, D.C.,–based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists last week issued a report stating that nearly 22,000 people in mainland China and Hong Kong have set up offshore financial structures.  The consortium says that among those are at least 15 members of China’s National People’s Congress, and top executives from state-owned companies. Heading that is the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping, Deng Ziagui, along with Wen Yunsong, the son of former Premier Wen Jiabao, and Wen’s son-in-law, Liu Chunhang.
The hidden wealth club also includes China’s social elite. The country’s richest woman, Yang Huiyan, is revealed to be an offshore holder. Two co-founders of the major Internet company Tencent, Ma Huateng and Zhang Zhidong, are included.  Even the imprisoned founder of the GOME appliance chain, Huang Guangyu, is on the list.
Global Financial President Raymond Baker points out how financial secrecy among the elite is harming the rest of China’s people.  “Rising inequality is perhaps the most notable impact of offshore tax haven secrecy on China,” he says. “As the rich get richer via tax evasion, and via utilizing the world’s shadow financial system to shelter and multiply their illicit wealth, the middle class, the working class, and the nation’s poor suffer.”

The consortium, which is part of the Center for Public Integrity, says it learned of these accounts and corporations by sifting primarily through records that came from two entities. One is the Commonwealth Trust Limited, based in a notorious tax haven, the British Virgin Islands.  Other files came from Porticullis TrustNet, based in Singapore, another place where money is hidden.
The investigative group’s report says those Chinese using offshore financial structures were assisted by a wide range of western banks and accounting firms. The consortium noted PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and UBS. These and other firms aggressively solicit, through their advertisements and other means, so-called wealth management services clearly meant for tax avoidance and bypassing currency movement restrictions imposed by China.
Baker sharply notes that enticement offered to China’s elite as joint culpability. “It takes two to tango,” he says. "Every time illicit financial flows leave a country, there is another country – typically a tax haven like the British Virgin Islands and Singapore, or like the United States and Japan – willing to accept the money and launder it.”
China’s massive economic growth in the past decade has produced immense wealth for those among the elite.  And, that money has to be put somewhere.  Financial experts say that one method of laundering illicit outflows is to place it in anonymous offshore corporations which then put the money back into the same country under guise of foreign direct investments.
These offshore accounts and corporations may be used to purchase and hold land, stocks and bonds, factories, jewelry, paintings, anything of value. Businesses can be bought and sold, their revenues kept from accountability. Multiple shell corporations can be used, for instance, to create dummy entities for billing and invoicing trade under inflated – or deflated – amounts to avoid taxation.
And, while having such structures may be legal under Chinese law, the consortium notes that Chinese public officials are not required to account for their wealth and their worldwide holdings. That, according to the group, creates a situation where the public is kept in the dark on a broader stage. The consortium report cites political scientist Mixin Pei at Claremont KcKenna College in California as stating that while these offshore structures may not be strictly illegal, she says they can get entangled in conflicts of interests and covert use of government power.
Multiple sources report that Chinese Internet censors have blocked the Web site, and have also halted access to western newspapers and other sources reporting this story.  The New York Times reported that on Tuesday, the date the consortium report was released, the Internet inside China went into near gridlock. The suggestion is there that authorities deliberately caused that to happen. The consortium reported that last November, a Chinese news organization that had cooperated with the group backed out of its collaboration with it because it had been warned off by Chinese authorities.
These offshore account and corporation revelations come at a time when President Xi has been conducting a showy public anti-corruption campaign, featuring his promises to go after both low level graft and that done by so-called high level “tigers.”  Yet, at the same time, Xi has also worked to suppress a public demand for full disclosure and accountability among China’s political leadership. This has created a public perception of hypocrisy whereas these leaders say they are putting people first while also creating and maintaining channels of special favor for the economic and political elite.
China’s people are using social media to point these situations out. One noted example came in the video expose of a senior party official in Shaanxi Province, Yang Dacai, who was shown wearing one very expensive watch after another.  Yang wound up getting convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
The Chinese government has said that it plans to introduce measures requiring public officials to declare their assets, including financial holdings. Berlin-based Transparency International states that “This should be done immediately. If government officials declared their assets, and people had access to this information, it would be easier to see if the salaries they earned were commensurate with their declared wealth. If they were living beyond their means, it would alert the authorities to possible corruption.”

Pill counters one lethal variety
of cancer, experiment shows

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An experimental pill could turn a lethal cancer into a chronic, but manageable disease like high blood pressure.  If approved for treatment for a common form of leukemia, the compound replaces toxic chemotherapy treatments. 

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a cancer of the immune system’s B cells, which produce antibodies, the frontline soldiers against bacterial and viral invaders.  But when B cells become cancerous, they accumulate in the patient’s organs, including the lymph nodes, pea-shaped organs under the arms and in the groin that help the body recognize and fight infections.  With this form of cancer, the nodes swell many times their normal size.

Richard Furman, a cancer researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, says the drug idelalisib, taken twice a day, causes the cancer to melt away.

“When I say melt away, you can literally see the lymph nodes shrink over the course of a couple of days.  It works that quickly, which is really wonderful," said Furman.

The standard treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia is Rituxan,  an infusion drug that destroys diseased B cells, but only for a time before the patient relapses.  With repeated rounds of chemotherapy, Furman says the leukemia eventually becomes resistant to Rituxan and patients no longer respond.  The cancer is fatal.

Investigators led by Furman compared a combination of idelalisib and Rituxan, to Rituxan and placebo in a group of 220 patients from around the world.

Six months into the study, 13 percent of those receiving only Rituxan responded to the therapy compared to 81 percent of the Idelalisib combination group. 

And 92 percent of participants in that group were still alive a year after the study began, compared to 80 percent in the Rituxan-only group.

The contrast was so significant that the study was halted early so all the patients could receive Idelalisib.

“And with an agent like idelalisib, which is extraordinarily well-tolerated and extraordinarily effective, my hope is that we can make CLL a chronic disease, sort of akin to high blood pressure where patients are able to take a pill a day and keep it in check," said Furman.

The company that makes idelalisib has asked U.S. regulators to approve the drug within six months so it can be made available to people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  An article on idelalisib is published in The New England Journal of Medicine. 

Auto show displays efforts
to improve vehicle structures

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

At the annual Washington Auto Show, manufacturers are featuring their standard models along with cars that point to the future, both in terms of propulsion and multi-material body structures.

Besides old concepts, repackaged in newly designed bodies, many manufacturers are showing models that are test beds for new technologies that point to the industry's future.

One model attracting a lot of attention is Toyota’s hydrogen-powered FCV Concept, which may be offered to consumers as soon as next year.

Its fuel cell converts hydrogen’s energy to electricity that charges the car’s battery.  Hydrogen is abundant and cheap, and the only byproduct of its use is clean water.

The head of Vehicle System Design at South Carolina’s Clemson University, Zoran Filipi, says that fuel cells are the long-term environmental solution.

“Recent announcements about this technology becoming available to consumers are great because it’s going to allow for real-world experience, evaluation of this technology, and will prepare us for the future where, at some point, the infrastructure might become available too,” he said.

Toyota claims the car has a range of at least 500 kilometers and that filling the tank takes no longer than refueling a gasoline vehicle tank.

But cars with regular engines, still the most affordable for ordinary consumers, are also becoming more environmentally friendly, especially diesel engines, which are again making their way into the luxury department.

Filipi says internal combustion engines are fighting back.

"What we see is that the near term combination of these very advanced IC engine concepts - downsizing, turbocharging, direct injection and 7, 8, 9, 10-speed advanced transmissions, does allow 10, 15 even 20 percent improvement of fuel economy,” he said.

Hybrid engines are also making their way into the luxury car market. U.S. manufacturer Cadillac won this year’s prize for green car technology for its ELR model, with an electric motor for driving and a small turbocharged gas engine for recharging the battery, thus extending its range.

The other new technology on the rise is recycled and composite materials for the car chassis, like BMW’s i3  whose passenger compartment is completely made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, making it much lighter.

Filipi says lightweight materials and structures are absolutely critical for vehicles with heavy batteries.

“We might actually see a future with multi-material body structures, steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, all being used for the same vehicle, and a lot of welding replaced by gluing,” he said.

Filipi says that there is also active research on bio-based and biodegradable composites for automotive interiors.

Judging by the models exhibited at this year’s Washington Auto Show, cars of the future will be increasingly cheaper to drive while their environmental impact will continue to drop.

Mars rover continues operating
after spending 10 years there

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. space agency, NASA, says its Mars rover Opportunity is still functioning and sharing data 10 years after landing on the red planet.

Opportunity touched down on Jan. 24, 2004, several weeks after its twin rover, Spirit. 

NASA scientists say one of Opportunity's six wheels and two instruments stopped working long ago, but those issues are minimal considering the rover project was expected to last three months.

Opportunity has logged 39 kilometers on Mars.
The scientists said Thursday the rover continues to make new discoveries, recently overturning a rock, exposing its underside to the Martian atmosphere for the first time in perhaps billions of years.

The Spirit rover stopped sending signals in 2010 after getting stuck in sand.
The solar-powered Opportunity rover is now in a sunny spot on the rim of Endeavour Crater, where it's spending its sixth winter poking into rocks and dirt.
Early discoveries by the two Mars rovers indicated the planet may once have been tropical and moist. 
More recently, Opportunity uncovered geologic evidence of water at Endeavour Crater that's more suited for drinking, a boon for scientists searching for extraterrestrial places where primitive life could have thrived.
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The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
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Costa Rica,

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

Visit our Web Site:

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 792
300 square meters of land, 195 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:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

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

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

Land near Monte de La Cruz, 27 hectors+, Must sell for best offer due to cancer, 8841-1606

beachfront home
Beautiful Palo Seco Beach home priced to sell!
Gorgeous beachfront two-story home, of roughly 2,000 square feet, set on a half acre oceanfront lot that is full of beautiful fruit and shade trees in Playa Palo Seco. This home features two bedrooms, three full baths, high quality A/C units in all rooms, huge front and backyard, and of course, a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean just feet away from the front door! Playa Palo Seco is perfectly situated between Jacó and Quepos and is only minutes away from five-star dining such as El Clandestino.  We have reduced the price from $150,000 to $125,000 firm for a fast sale in the new year! This is a must see property! Owner financing is available. This truly is a once in a lifetime offer and it will go fast! Please call 8816-2478 or email for more information!

St. Michael
Ocean View estates inside a gated community from $5.94 M2.  Properties start at 39K. NO HOA FEES.  Community salt water modern waterfall swimming pools, organic vegetable gardens, exotic flower gardens, food forest, mature orchards, fresh fish from aquaponics, stables, community center, and much more.  Each lot comes with an edible landscaping including pineapples, plantains, papayas, guanabanas, bananas, and more.  Most lots already have mature mango, lemon, orange, or caimito trees.  This is the most secure community in CR with multiple sources of water, electric, and high \[speed internet.

Cahuita estate
Beach house in Cahuita for sale
2,000-sq. ft. house, 2 bedrooms. 2 baths. With incredible view of sea.  House has beautiful hardwood open upstairs deck. Teakwood floor upstairs. CB and ceramic downstairs, Very well built with beautiful hardwoods upstairs.  Oval bathtub, hand painted ceramic sinks  The view is through 240 meters of jungle and coconut trees to the beach. The beach in front is perfect and quiet. Very secure area. Property located adjacent to our wildlife sanctuary and botanical gardens. Great group of neighbors from U.S.A.,  Italy, Holland, Sweden, etc. This very private property is owned by Todd Scottland for more then  35 years. Taxes are paid up to date. This is a gem of a house. Must see!  Price  $205,000.00.  Email to: Email for more photos.
Phone 2755-0014 or cell phone 8610-0490.

Esparza home
Esparza, Puntarenas
Stunning open concept contemporary home 1800 square feet, high end finishing set in tranquil rural 1.3 acres of fruit trees and tropical flowers. Separate guest suite, artist studio, workshop, carport, electric gate.  Close to two international airports, surfing, fishing, golfing and shopping. More photos here:
Sale for $239.000 Contact:

Ojochal montage
Ojochal Paradise
Tropical paradise of 6.5 acres in Ojochal.  Cabin with one sleeping loft, all services, mountain and distant ocean views.  Several building sites available for main house or rental units. Close to surfing, fishing, golfing. Sale for $129.000  Contact:  for more photos/information or go here:

Located in Jacó at Barrio Ricos y Famosos
in Calle Europa, Casa Shangri La.
Main house: 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 270 square meters, 2 condominiums 2 bedrooms, one bath, 110 square meters, plus one small apartment: One bedroom, one bath. Huge pool, carport for five cars. plus double garage, rancho with pool bathroom, gymnasium, laundry room, pool plumbing room, huge dog house in separate 500-square-meter garden with aviary for guacamayas (we have three birds) 60 meters of river front of Río Copey with a 4-meter-high protective and retention stone wall. Eight surveillance camera CCTV system with Internet access from anywhere. Over 2-meter-high brick wall all around the property with two layers of razor wires on top, the safest place to be! Electronic entrance gate, door phone, five telephone lines, high-speed Internet wireless access everywhere. Beautiful gardens with many fruit trees. Built to highest standard by German owner in 2005,  room for two more apartments, plans approved. Less then a 10 minutes walk to the beach and or center of Jaco. Price $ 1,350.000 negotiable. All fittings and furniture. German-built, excellent quality and well maintained. 70% owner financing available. More photos on request HERE!  Email:  cell 8838-2081 or home 2643-2979.

Rich Coast montage
Real Estate, Central Pacific Region

Central Pacific between Jacó and Quepos-Manuel Antonio
Lots in gated community near the beach  from $17,999! Only 3 left
2-bedroom house in gated community was $120k now $99,900
3-bedroom house with 2 additional residential lots, walk to the beach $160k
Turnkey coffee shop/ bakery, corner location, great ROI! $65k
2-bedroom panoramic oceanview house, guesthouse on 2.5 acres $269k
Panoramic oceanview  property, 3 houses, on-ground pool $375k
And much more!!!
   USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
   CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891

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:

Gorgeous Survival Farm located between San Ramón and Arenal Volcano bordering the huge Arenal Monteverde Nature Reserve. 30 acres of virgin rain forest with no neighbors, river, spring waters, rich soil, giant trees, homesite, no electricity, year-round 4WD access. 59,000 USD

Gulf road

Beachfront pristine five-hectare (13-acre) property

includes a common open air lodge with kitchen, three cabins, a caretaker's house, a garage and a secure storeroom. The property is maritime and has a current and valid maritime user's permit, all up to date and clear. In addition to the immaculately landscaped portion of the property that is already developed with bungalows, there are an additional three hectares that are ready for expansion and are cleared and planted in grass. The sales offer includes furnishings, appliances, catamaran, kayaks, and a whole series of extras. This property has about 300 meters of beach front in a docile portion of the gulf about 15 minutes north of Puerto Jimeenez, ideal for mooring boats just off the property shoreline. Has municipal water and power. Offered at $970,000. All reasonable offers will be considered. See photos and maps and more at Contact us at: or +1-866-514-7435.

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.

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. 
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email

Becker montage
Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

House and guest house on adjacent half acre lots. Each with separate electric,  private septic and well. Each can be sold stand alone or packaged. Modern kitchen, granite counters, Viking stove, large separate frig and freezer. Private commercial grade septic and well. No water shortages even in dry season. High speed internet and U.S. standard electric. Center of the beach -- NEVER floods. Estuary at each end of the beach with excellent kayaking and bird watching through the mangroves. Excellent fishing right off the shore. Great surfing, horseback riding, bicycling or Turtle watching. Groceries three miles away. Mentioned in "The Lonely Planet" Page 301. "Two of the most beautiful and least visited beaches in Costa Rica. Wilderness beaches of fine silver-grey sand." Despite opportunities for great surfing, kayaking and just about anything else you want to do on a sandy strip of paradise, the beaches are nearly always abandoned. $500K Will finance.  More pictures available at:  Contact information:,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.


ULatina, UCR, & U Fidelitas San Pedro, San Jose. $175,000.
QQuietly located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada, 500 meters north of Iglesia Lourdes, San Pedro. ULatina, UCR, U. Fidelitas, bus & new train station are within five minutes Four-bedroom, three and half-bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with secure entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. Security fencing with electric wire, and a CCTV recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house.  For additional peace of mind, this residence equipped with an independently wired security system, iron bars on windows and patio doors, a telephone communication system to contact the guard house and secure parking at your front door.   Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. A green park area inside the complex for your children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Cable TV/Internet lines and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 6011-6987   or  U.S. Phone:  (630) 886-4458  or   (305) 848-5577 C.R. Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799-4041  or  (506) 8363-9898.  Email:

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean. This design allows for barrier free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room it’s spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors. $365,000.   Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage. 3 nedrooms, 2 baths, full dining room, separate office. Custom wrought iron gates, custom exotic wood cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances, Granite countertops.    Slide show at   
For more information contact:

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,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

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 for more information ¡y se habla español!

humming bird nest

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

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

Business for sale or lease (paid category)
Tanning montage
This is your chance to acquire a totally equipped tanning salon with five machines.  Fantasia Tropical has been open 14 years but the founder needs to retire and return to the U.S. for medical reasons.  You can assume the lease in Sabana West buying the S.A. or buy the assets and move them to a location you prefer. Taxes, permits, bank accounts all in order. Excellent opportunity for an energetic, creative hands-on owner or couple. Long-time manager available to stay on if desired. With an asking price of $30,000 this won't
last long.  Some owner financing may be available.  Contact for an appointment. For a preview

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 José, Manuel Antonio and Osa Peninsula areas. And it is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive groundwork that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into a new level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner is 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

Jaco station
Gas Station/Auto Plaza
Located on the Pan American Highway, Jacó Beach, Costa Rica, Central America. This property is  45,000  square feet or  18,000  meters.  Liquor and convenience store is operational. Room to add an automotive service, car wash, restaurant, pharmacy, lotto sales, tour sales, ATM's,  etc, for a real money maker. Also future plans for a 80-unit  auto motel and casino. See on Youtube at: Asking price  $3.9 million. Email or call: 8899-9870.

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,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

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:

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

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A.M. Guatemala
A.M. Honduras
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Dominican Republic

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by A.M. Costa Ltda. 2014 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 18
Real Estate
About us

News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are diabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Canadian rescue units use
steam to get frozen bodies

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Canadian police and firefighters used steam machines to melt thick ice encasing the corpses of elderly people who died in a massive blaze that destroyed a wooden retirement residence in rural Quebec Thursday.

Police said that five people died and about 30 were unaccounted for after the early morning blaze ripped through the Residence du Havre in the small community of L'Isle-Verte, about 230 kms. northeast of Quebec City.

Police said the missing might not all be dead since it was still unclear how many of the home's residents were in the building when the fire started.

The disaster has already raised demands that the Quebec government requires homes for the elderly to be equipped with sprinkler systems, following the lead of neighboring Ontario. Only part of the Isle-Verte residence had sprinklers.

“If the investigation shows that we need sprinklers or new rules, the government will act and bring in the changes for sure,” said Jean-Thomas Grantham, spokesman for Quebec Labor and Social Solidarity Minister Agnes Maltais.

The ice formed as firefighters, working in temperatures that dropped as low as minus 22 C (minus 8 F), doused the building with water for hours. In some cases the resulting ice is one or two feet (30 to 60 cm) thick.

“So many things could happen that we can't plan on. The cold is extreme, the equipment could freeze, we could run into other issues,” said Guy Lapointe, spokesman for the Quebec provincial police force.

“The steam is being used for us to be able to advance at the scene, being able to preserve the integrity of potential victims.”

The cold was so intense Friday that teams of police, firefighters and coroner's office officials could only work in 45-minute shifts.

Police have not managed to track down all the residents who might have been in the building at the time of the fire, and Lapointe said it is possible that nonresidents had been in the building.

Officials said they do not know what caused the fire and Lapointe appealed to local residents to provide any videos or pictures they may have taken after the fire started shortly after Wednesday midnight.

CARP, an association representing the elderly in Canada, has long demanded that all such facilities install sprinklers, but said cost concerns have overridden safety needs.

“We've had these kinds of fires over the last three decades, inquest after inquest making these recommendations. Here we are today and we still don't have . . .  a national standard that's enforced and fully funded,” said CARP spokeswoman Susan Eng.

An investigation by La Presse newspaper published Friday found that 1,052 of 1,953 private seniors' residences in Quebec have no sprinklers at all, and 204 of them, including the L'Isle-Verte home, had only partial sprinkler systems.

“It's clear that the best way to protect our seniors in these residences is to have sprinklers,” said Andre St-Hilaire of the Quebec Association of Fire Chiefs.

Canada has a patchwork of regulations for homes for the elderly that can vary from province to province. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, made sprinklers mandatory at the beginning of the year in all homes for seniors, allowing a phase-in period for existing homes.

The United States now requires all long-term care facilities to have sprinkler systems if they serve Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Costa Rican News
Retire NOW in Costa Rica

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From Page 7:

More than 200 called classified ad fraud victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 200 persons have been victimized by classified ad fraud in the last year, said the Judicial Investigating Organization, and those are just the ones who filed a report.

This is the scam in which crooks pretend to be professionals and contact individuals who have advertised articles on various Web sites or in print newspapers, said agents.

The caller agrees to purchase the item, perhaps a bicycle or a computer, and then arranges a meeting to pay for it.

However, according to agents, when the victim arrives at the designated spot, the crook calls with an excuse, such as he is in surgery or at a trial or some other professional endeavor. Agents say that in fact many of the calls are from prisoners in custody who are working with accomplices.

The person with the item for sale is instructed to leave it with someone near the meeting place. The seller then is instructed to go someplace else nearby to pick up the money. This could be a nearby lawyer's office or even a government building.

Of course there is no money, and when the victim returns, the article is gone.

Agents advise that classified sellers obtain full identification of those who call and keep track of serial numbers of the items they advertise. Agents also advise not going alone to a meeting to sell an item.