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Your daily English-language news source Monday through Friday

Amigo Realty
(506) 2223-1327                     Publihsed Friday, March 1, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 43                Email us
Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart

                Rica real estate

There is an upside to prediction of weekend wind
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The beginning of March means that there are not many more dry season weekends left. A surprise sprinkling this week gave notice that there is a change brewing.

This weekend might be one of the last where there will be no afternoon rain.

But it will be chilly.  The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that a cold front is moving in and bringing strong winds with it. The temperature might go as low as 10 degrees C Saturday and Sunday mornings. That could be as low as 50 degrees F, and an unusual cold wave for the Central Valley.

Of course, the chill will be more pronounced in the higher elevations.

The weather institute also predicts rain for the Caribbean and the northern zone due to the front.

The institute said that such conditions might continue until Monday. A warning was issued for pilots of small planes and boats. And Caribbean residents were told to keep an eye on nearby streams and rivers in case they are fed by rains in the mountains.

The weather institute also urged farmers and other residents from doing any burning over the weekend because of the winds. Now is the time sugar cane producers are burning the fields in advance of harvest.

That would not be a good idea this weekend, according to the weather institute warning. Compliance with the request probably will make many expats happy, too. Some have been complaining about the burning, the heavy smoke and the rain of ash.

What may be a good idea is flying kites. Central Valley parks were filled last weekend, but the winds were not cooperating. A flood of Costa Ricans are expected again this weekend for family picnics.

Vendors sell kites in Parque La Sabana and Parque de la Paz in San José, and the areas are free of dangerous power lines.

Caribbean hotel invasion is another blow to tourism
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tourism took another hit Thursday as news of a hotel invasion started reaching the various travel sites.

Locals say that the invasion by gunmen early Thursday into the Hotel Samasití in Hone Creek on the Caribbean coast was the fourth such recent incident in the area. They blamed the same gang.

The lightly guarded and frequently remote hotels are fat targets for a gang of crooks.

In the case of the Samasití the victims included 18 tourists, mostly U.S. and Canadians. They were ordered from their rooms and held hostage for an hour while crooks sacked the hotel rooms.

The bandits did not get away without problems. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the hotel owner, who lives nearby, finally realized what was taking place and exchanged fire on the crooks when they were in the hotel parking lot. They left in his vehicle, said agents.

Samasití advertises online as “perfect as a romantic getaway and for a relaxing yet adventurous holiday.”  It is in lush jungle a kilometer from the main highway.
The bandits did not have any trouble entering the hotel at 1 a.m. Once they had the keys, they began visiting hotel rooms. They herded the guests at gunpoint into a single room where some of the gang kept guard. The items lifted from the rooms are valued at $6,000 dollars, agents said.

The hotel prides itself on being a proponent of sustainable tourisim, and it promotes yoga vacations.

Some agents think that the crooks arrived on motorcycles. Typically the hotel gate is closed at night, but that is not a barrier to a determined band.

The owner became aware of the crime when he saw some of the gang puncturing tires in the hotel parking lot.  Presumably they wanted to avoid a chase or someone alerting police. The hotel is short on telephones. The owner's vehicle turned up about a kilometer away near the main highway, said judicial agents.

The hotel is not far from Puerto Viejo and Cahuita.

As news of the raid came out on the various electronic media, tourism professionals responded with comments on various web pages. One said that peace is the main component that Costa Rica can offer to tourists. The news was picked up quickly by international travel sites.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 1, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 43
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U.S. ship will visit Limón
on a humanitarian mission

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. hospital ship "Comfort" is returning to Costa Rica in April. This time it will be on the Caribbean coast.

The ship has a multinational crew ranging from surgeons to veterinarians and even construction experts to provide all sorts of assistance.

The Asamblea Legislativa approved the docking of the ship in a vote Thursday. The boat will be in Limón from April 11 to 22, according to lawmakers.

Legislative approval is required for foreign warships.

When the boat was in Puntarenas in 2011 it treated more than 800 patients and surgeons did 139 procedures.

Cancellation of soccer event
shocks Costa Rican officials

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The big sports news Thursday was the decision by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association to cancel the world champion soccer competition for women players younger than 17.

The junior world cup event was scheduled for Costa Rica next year, but the international soccer organization expressed concern at the state of infrastructure to handle the games.

News of the decision drew a response from the Cámera Nacional de Turismo, which lamented the loss of visitors. It said the news came like a bucket of cold water and that it was hoping that the event would showcase Costa Rica as a tourism destination.

Governmental officials are blaming the local soccer federation

Credit card fraud began
at the local cash register

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators detained five persons Thursday in a case related to credit card fraud.

Agents said that the five recruited individuals who worked at cash registers in various businesses. The cashiers were able to scan credit cards presented for payment with a device that extracted key data. Then the fraudsters would duplicate a card using the captured data.

Then scammers would take the cloned credit cards to various retail outlets to effect purchases.

Agents raided and searched eight locations Thursday. They were in Tibas, Santa Ana, Paso Ancho, San Ramón de Alajuela and Sabanilla. Several of those detained have police records for the same offense.

Child dies in house fire
despite fire fighter efforts

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 2-year-old girl died Thursday when fire swept through a two-story home in La Carpio Thursday. A second child managed to get out alive.

Judicial agents identified the girl by the last name of Villatoro. Agents said the child was asleep when the fire started.

Fire fighters faced lack of water and difficult access to fight the blaze in a low-income area.

Thick smoke from the burning wooden structure prevented fire fighters from finding the child even though they donned masks and entered the structure. A 4-year-old boy was watching televison at the time and managed to flee.

Hanna Gabriel loses crown
in second round knockout

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hanna Gabriel lost the 154-pound world championship Thursday night when she was knocked out in the second round by Oxandia Castillo of the Dominican Republic.

Ms. Gabriel has been a popular athlete and even appeared on a Costa Rican stamp. She won a world championship at a lower weight class and moved in the 154-pound category, won the title and defended it successfully in the past.

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

Costa Rican news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

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From A.M. Costa Rica

Top story ews feeds re disabled on archived pages.


Expats moving
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Barrio Dent, 200m west
of Mall San Pedro north door.
Friday and Saturday
Call for exact directions: 8635-8838

                Rey Hotel

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 1, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 43
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Street thefts buck trend of some declines in major crimes
By Kayla Pearson
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In 2012, 20 reports were filed a day by pedestrians who had their personal property stolen.  These thefts increased nearly 44 percent last year to a total of 7,194 crimes, according to the end-of-the-year report from the Judicial Investigating Organization. 

Of all crimes, this one saw the greatest increase.  This can be attributed partly to the rise in the number of persons with cell phones and the change made by prosecutors to allow people to file reports for lower valued items, the report stated. 

The crimes usually happened on Friday and Saturday between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the cantons of San José, Puntarenas and Alajuela.

Also on the rise was the number of home robberies.  The number of homes broken into rose by 4.6 percent, which means that there was one extra case for every 20 that were reported in 2011. The final number or reported robberies were 6,929.

All the data came from reports made to the organization and does not include the other police forces, said Director General Francisco Segura Montero.  However, the judicial investigators usually end up with nearly all the nation's reports eventually.

The criminal report breaks down nine “crimes of interest” that includes homicides, vehicle robbery, assaults, building robberies, home assaults, rape, stolen vehicles, home robberies and thefts from persons.  The first seven saw decreases in the last year that ranged from around 6 percent to 17 percent.

The challenge of 2013 is to maintain the yearly trend of crimes of interest, ensuring a decrease in overall recorded crime, said the report.  It has been observed that over the last five years there has been an upward trend, which has only slightly
decreased during the year 2010.  However it is necessary to focus efforts towards those trends with the largest increase, both of these have a great social impact,” said the report

Segura endorsed this sentiment by saying the police are working together to keep crime low and have increased their efforts in high-risk criminal areas such as San José and Limón.  They are also analyzing data to understand where and why things are most happening.  They will use the findings to combat crime, he said.

A time breakdown shows that a violent crime happens in Costa Rica every 40 minutes equating to three crimes every two hours.  A crime that does not use violence occurs ever 20 minutes or three an hour, according to the data.

Tourists should be the least worried about being robbed at knife or gunpoint.  According to the data of such cases last year, 83 percent of victims are Costa Ricans.  The foreigners robbed last year came from more than 50 nations, the top being Nicaragua, Colombia and the United States. 

The majority of robbery victims are male pedestrians in the San José, Alajuela and Heredia cantons.  The districts with the highest assault numbers are Hospital and Catedral of San José and Limón, the report said. 

The security ministry issued a quick response expressing satisfaction with the decrease in crime. Citing judicial figures, the ministry said that vehicle thefts fell by 15.5 percent, robberies were down 13.4 percent and thefts in buildings were down 12.5 percent. Home invasions were also down, some 10.6 percent.

Although 394 persons were murdered in 2010, the ministry said that this was 78 fewer than the previous year. The murder rate per 100,000 persons fell from 10.3 in 2011 to 8.9 last year, the ministry said.

Il retorno of Chef Tony to the downtown of San José
When I arrived in Costa Rica, I lived on the east side of San José and eventually discovered a small Italian restaurant on a side street in San Pedro.  It was called Ponte Vecchio and had two miniature dining rooms with a total of maybe eight tables very close to one another.  I never met the chef, but the food was the ultimate in Italian cooking in my opinion, not complicated, just infused with taste.

Then the restaurant closed and Antonio D’Alaimo disappeared.  I heard that someone in the States had convinced him to move there and open a restaurant in some Midwest city. 

Thanks to the Little Theatre Group of Costa Rica, I became acquainted with the Casa Italia.  That was back in the days when LTG had no permanent home, and we put on our performances wherever we could.  The Casa Italia, on Eighth Avenue was our home for about a year where we presented four one act plays in a dinner theater setting in the auditorium.  A series of Italian chefs occupied the restaurant space over the years, but they were not notable. 

Then one day a new Italian restaurant called Il Ritorno opened. I tried that one, too.  Out of the kitchen came Chef Tony, a short man with a tall chef’s hat, a small paunch and trousers that reminded me of a child’s pajamas or, as I thought then, “circus pants.”  The waiters who had been with him at Ponte Vecchio were with him again.

I didn’t know Tony, but I liked his restaurant.  On the wall in the vestibule outside hung a couple of dozen pictures of Chef Tony with various local celebrities.  Inside, like restaurants in New York City, there were banquettes along one wall, above which was a long mirror that enlarged the room and reflected the light from the windows.  On the window sills were a collection of tiny porcelain figurines, some that even looked like Tony (if I recall correctly).  The tables always had cruets of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I don’t recall the dishes that I had, but I do remember that whatever the pasta, it was always cooked exactly right.  I became a regular diner at Il Ritorno, along with my friends and a large number of people who worked in or near the courts on Eighth Avenue.  I went often enough that I became one of the diners Tony would come out and greet.
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

Then one day the food didn’t taste quite the same. Although two of the same waiters were there, a new chef, Marco, had taken over the restaurant, name and all. The same menu continued and slowly the quality came very close to Tony’s, but by now I had moved across the city to Sabana Norte and didn’t get to Il Ritorno very often.

Eventually I learned he had moved to Santa Ana and had relocated on the road to Belén.  I went to the new restaurant, the Three Steps (my translation), once.  The décor was ultra modern, nothing Italian about it, and it was just a restaurant too far.  There were at least three Italian restaurants on, or just off, Pavas Boulevard, so I was not without my Mediterranean fix. 

This past week, my friend Alexis told me she had heard that a new Italian restaurant had opened on Second Avenue. The person who told her about it raved about the pasta with clams and shrimp. “Let’s go,” was my response.  The Sapore Trattoria (Taste of an Italian Café – my loose translation) was on the corner just before the Plaza Democracia.  As we entered, I didn’t look around too much, just noticed that it was new, looked comfortable, had lots of windows and banquettes along the wall so I settled myself on a banquette behind one of the small tables. 

A tall handsome man greeted me with a friendly smile as if he knew me.  He looked vaguely familiar, but with my face blindness I am never sure.  I figured he was the maitre d’.

He gave us our menus.  (Have you noticed how large the menus in restaurants have become?)  Before I could study it, a short man in a tall chef’s hat and a comfortable paunch appeared at the table.  He took my hand, greeting me warmly.  I was totally surprised. But Alexis sat grinning at me. 

She had figured it out. Chef Tony was back in town.

Del Rey Hotel

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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

Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 1, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 43
Real Estate
About us

Francesca Cheng poses by one of her works

Group of women artists present
an exposition of their works

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nine women artists are being featured in an exposition at the  Galería Sophia Wanamaker del Centro Cultural Costarricense – Norteamericano in Los Yoses.

The name of the exposition is "Pangea," which is the supercontinent that broke up and produced the continents of today. It also is the name of the artist group.

The artists are Ana Broennimann of México, Daniela Vargas of Costa Rica, Francisca Cheng of China, Gema González of Spain, Guylaine Barrette of Canada, Jane Moore of the United States, Mónica Schultz of Perú, Monique Van Hussen of Holland and Zsuzsanna Pal of Switzerland. All are residents here.

Changes being proposed
for confusing Sabana corner

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

That challenging intersection in la Sabana is going to get some changes.

This is the route near the Librería Universal and McDonald's that causes congestion during peak hours.

The Caldera Highway empties into the west side of the intersection. A four-lane parallel highway, formerly the old road to Escazú, comes in from the south, as does a local roadway.

For motorists headed south, there sometimes is only a flashing stop light to help them cross the Caldera highway. The Gimnasio Nacional occupies the northwest corner of the intersection.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said that highway engineers still are studying the problem, and the changes will not take place until the studies are done. One plan is to put in some more islands to control traffic.

The intersection is the repeated scene of flagrant traffic violations because the current setup keeps motorists guessing.

The old road to Escazú has been upgraded to four lanes, but sometimes there are kilometer-long traffic jams of motorists who hope to cross the Caldera highway into the San José commercial area.

Municipalidad de Nicoya photo
This is a file photo of the controversial business and its location near the church. The building has been demolished.

Long-running court case
finally over for Nicoya

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipality of Nicoya said Thursday that it has finally prevailed in a court action that began in 1997 when the municipal council declined to renew the business license for a small eating place on the central park.

The reason at the time was that the operator of the business, identified by the last names of Montiel Matarrita, had changed the use from a souvenir store to one selling food. The park is adjacent to the colonial Iglesia de San Blas, which is a tourist attraction.

At one point the Sala IV constitutional court awarded the man hundreds of millions of colons as damages. Officials said that award equaled the annual municipal budget.

The municipality continued to fight and brought the case in 2010 to the Juzgado de lo Contencioso Administrativo y Civil de Hacienda. That court voided the award. the businessman appealed, and it was the rejection of the appeal that officials announced Thursday.

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Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.


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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 1, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 43
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Automatic U.S. budget cuts
taking effect amid gridlock

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Automatic U.S. government spending cuts are set to kick in amid continued political gridlock as last-ditch alternatives to the so-called "sequester" were defeated in the Senate.
“Can we not at least come to some agreement to prevent this," asked Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, echoing fellow U.S. lawmakers who seemed stunned by their own inability to act in response to the imminent sequester.
The answer for now: no.
Democrats proposed replacing the sequester’s cuts-only approach with a mix of targeted spending reductions and higher tax revenues, but Republicans objected.
“Look, the American people simply will not accept replacing spending cuts agreed to by both parties with tax hikes," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.
Republicans proposed maintaining the total amount of spending cuts — $85 billion this year — but giving President Obama flexibility in implementing them, prompting objections from Democrats.
“Why would they — the Republicans  — part of the legislative branch of government, cede more power to the White House?" asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. "Republicans should give Congress true flexibility. Flexibility to cut wasteful subsidies, flexibility to close unnecessary tax loopholes, and flexibility to ask the richest of the rich to contribute a little bit more.”
While blocking alternatives to the sequester, senators also took turns blasting it.
“God, if we cannot do better than that, all of us should be fired," said Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, decrying cuts to the military budget. "Fire the politicians, keep the soldiers."
Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, denounced the idea of implementing austerity while the economy remains weak.
“Cutting spending at this moment in time means cutting jobs at this moment in time, which means fewer people paying income taxes and more people drawing government benefits," he said. "That is not a recipe for economic expansion.”
Next up is a meeting today between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders. White House spokesman Jay Carney is making no prediction of a breakthrough.
“There are no preconditions to a meeting like this," Carney said. "This is a meeting with the president … any topic is up for discussion if one member of the group decides he or she wants to broach it.”
Obama, who has implored Congress to act, has repeatedly warned the sequester will hobble critical government functions, causing harm, pain and inconveniences. McConnell, who will be at the White House meeting, derided the president’s warnings.
“Instead of directing his secretaries to trim waste in their departments, he is going after first responders, teachers, and almost any other sympathetic constituency you can think of … all to force Americans to accept higher taxes," McConnell said. "And he will claim his hands are tied, and somehow it will be everybody’s fault but his. Nonsense.”
Once the sequester takes hold, the American people will likely weigh in on its effects — quite possibly assigning blame. Leaders on both sides of the aisle hope blame falls on the other party.

Manning admits his guilt
for some of the allegations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning says he gave hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the WikiLeaks Web site to start a public debate about the role of the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Manning pleaded guilty Thursday in a pre-trial hearing to 10 of 22 charges in the biggest leak of government secrets in U.S. history.

The military judge, Col. Denise Lind, accepted his guilty pleas, which could send him to prison for 20 years.

The Army private pleaded not guilty to the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which carries a sentence of life in prison.

U.S. government secrets exposed by WikiLeaks starting in 2010 stunned diplomats around the world and outraged officials, who said the leaks damaged national security and put American lives in danger.

Manning's court martial is to begin June 3.

Venezuelan vice president
confirms gravity of Chávez

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela's vice president says President Hugo Chávez is fighting for his life as he continues treatment for cancer.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro appeared on television Thursday to update the nation on Chavez's condition.

The president entered a Caracas hospital 10 days ago after spending two months in Cuba. He missed his inauguration for a fourth term in January because of poor health.
A photograph of a smiling Chávez lying in a hospital bed with two daughters standing beside him was released two weeks ago. It is the only public image of Chávez since December.

The Venezuelan government has given little information on Chavez's illness or condition other than saying he has a cancer in his pelvis.

Economy eclipses concern
of public over environment

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Public concern about environmental issues hit a 20-year low last year, a poll showed, as worries about the aftermath of the global financial crisis overshadowed growing evidence of man-made climate change.

The Canadian research group GlobeScan surveyed 22,812 people from 22 countries, asking them to rate the seriousness of six issues: air pollution, water pollution, species loss, automobile emissions, fresh water shortages and climate change.

On average, 49 percent of people surveyed said climate change was a “very serious” concern and 50 percent said the same for biodiversity loss. The highest level of concern was about fresh water shortages, with 58 percent of people rating this as a “very serious” concern.

“Scientists report that evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out,” said Doug Miller, chairman of GlobeScan, adding:

“Those who care about mobilizing public opinion on the environment need to find new messages in order to reinvigorate a stalled debate.”

The survey was conducted in July to September before hurricane Sandy hit the United States' East Coast, which experts said might have raised awareness of extreme weather events.

The poll showed public concern for all issues except climate change was lower last year than in 1992. Many of the sharpest falls in concern occurred over the past two years.

Concern about climate change was actually lower between 1998 and 2003 than last year but no exact reason was given for this.

Falling public concern over environmental issues coincides with the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, and a series of disappointing international climate conferences since a United Nations' summit in 2009 in Copenhagen failed to clinch a strong deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Countries are still working on getting a deal signed by 2015 which would legally bind all nations to cut emissions from 2020.

First manned Mars mission
could be a private project

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Plans are underway for the first manned mission to Mars -- just five years from now.

The privately financed fly-by in 2018 would take a man and a woman -- both Americans -- on a modified existing U.S. spacecraft to within 160 kilometers of the surface of the Red Planet, and return them safely to Earth.

The historic 501-day mission is being organized by American multi-millionaire Dennis Tito -- a former NASA scientist and the world's first private space tourist, who once paid $20 million to visit the International Space Station.  Now, Tito is putting up millions more in start-up money for his Inspiration Mars Foundation. The non-profit is already assembling the hardware and scientific expertise for the fast-track, low-budget mission, which will eventually cost between $1.5 and $2 billion to complete.

Flanked by former NASA scientists, academicians and private space developers, Tito told a Washington news conference Wednesday the Mars fly-by represents a bold first step in America's long-range plans for human space exploration. "This is a challenging but attainable goal for advancing human experience and knowledge.  Now is the time," he said.

The two person crew, selected as much for compatibility as for technical skills, would inhabit a 600-square-meter living space during their voyage.

The mission's technical challenges are being handled by a private group called Paragon Space Development, with support from NASA and an assortment of private aerospace companies. Paragon's CEO, Taber MacCallum, a former NASA scientist, said the mission will be risky.  The two astronauts will face extended exposure to solar and cosmic radiation, and the rigors of a year and a half in close confinement with life-support systems never before tested in deep space.  But MacCallum said taking risks is part of America's heritage as a nation of innovators and explorers. "That's the kind of bold thing we used to be able to do," he said. "We don't do that any more...I think even just seriously contemplating this mission recalibrates what we believe is a risk worth taking for America."

Organizers say the Mars mission is tentatively set to launch on Jan. 5, 2018. The craft would reach Mars 228 days later on Aug. 21, looping once around the red Planet for a 273-day journey back to Earth and an ocean splashdown on May 21, 2019.

U.S. economy grows a bit
despite earlier predictions

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. economy grew slightly in the last few months of 2012, instead of shrinking a little bit as first reported.
Thursday's report from the Commerce Department says the Gross Domestic Product grew at a one-tenth of a percent annual rate in the fourth-quarter of last year.
The GDP is the sum of all economic activity in the country, from haircuts, to software design, to construction.
Commerce Department experts made a routine revision of the GDP figures as more complete information became available. The new data showed that construction and trade figures were stronger than first estimated.
A separate government report showed the number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation dropped by 22,000 to a nationwide total of 344,000 last week. Jobless claims are a way to measure the number of layoffs, and a decline is consistent with an improving job market.

Former dictator in Haiti
finally makes it to court

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier has appeared in court for a hearing on whether he should face charges of corruption and human-rights violations committed during his brutal 15-year rule.
Duvalier failed to show up for three previous court proceedings, prompting a judge to issue a summons ensuring his presence for Thursday's hearing, under police escort if necessary.
The 61-year-old Duvalier sat in the packed courtroom with his longtime partner, Veronique Roy. Many former victims of the Duvalier regime planned to testify against him, while dozens of Duvalier supporters gathered outside.
The case is being closely watched by international human-rights observers who consider it a landmark example for Haiti's justice system after decades of dictatorship and military rule.
Duvalier ruled from 1971 until he was ousted in a popular revolt in 1986. He returned to Haiti two years ago after 25 years of exile in France.
The former dictator and his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, enforced their rule with the aid of the feared Tonton Macoutes militia, who were blamed for hundreds of deaths and disappearances in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
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Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

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the west side of the Hotel Holiday Inn. Perfect for club, bar etc,
Larger than it appears from outside. Call. (506) 8847-1822
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For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

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Rich Coast Montage
Central Pacific Coast Real Estate
- 2-bedroom house in gated community, $92,500.
- Lots in gated community from $20k w/financing available.
- 3-bedroom house in gated community, furnished, walk to the beach, $125k
- 3-bedroom oceanview house on 5 acres subdividable, $270k
- 58-acre oceanview property subdividable, $169k
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Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft TITLED property. This is a very special and rare property because of the INCREDIBLE OCEAN VIEW and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must see. Ocean view Only $345 000.00 US More details:
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Retirement/vacation/hobby farm lots for sale
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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 1, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 43
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute

Professor caught in crossfire
in stickup at university

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Gunmen ambushed an armored car on the Universidad de Costa Rica campus Thursday, and a passing teacher suffered a bullet wound.

The woman, identified by the last name of Guzmán, teaches education classes.

The gunmen appear to have staked out an automatic teller machine and awaited the arrival of the vehicle carrying money. But the guards also were armed. The crooks fled off the San Pedro campus without managing to get any of the money.

Bill would define those
who use electronic bracelets

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers are crafting a bill that would clearly define those prisoners who would be able to wear electronic bracelets.

Lawmakers want to favor women, particularly those who have children, with the bracelets. The concept of house arrest with an electronic bracelet is favored by men in the executive branch as a cost saving method.

Lawmakers have crafted a bill that probably will be approved.

Broadcaster, photog killings
draw protest from industry

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The murder of two journalists last weekend in Brazil and Peru brought a sharp protest from the Inter American Press Association.

Killed in Brazil Feb. 22 was Mafaldo Bezerra Goes, host of a program broadcast on Radio Jaguaribe FM in the town of Jaguaribe, some 180 miles from Fortaleza city in the northeastern state of Ceará.

Goes, 61, at 8 a.m. that day was walking to the radio station when he was fatally shot five times – twice in the head and three times in the chest – by two assailants on a motorcycle.

According to local media and preliminary investigations by the police, in which it was learned that he had been threatened, his murder could have been linked to what he broadcast on his program, in which he used to expose corruption.

In Peru, Luis Choy, news photographer with the Lima newspaper El Comercio, was killed. The paper reported that at 3:40 p.m. Feb, 23 Choy was leaving his home in a pickup truck when he noticed a man waiting for him on the street. Choy, 34, got out his vehicle and was believed to have exchanged words with the man, who shot him twice, once in the head and once in the chest, according to a witness.

The Peruvian police, who began special investigations into the case, ruled out robbery as the motive for the crime and said they were looking into several theories.

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A.M. Costa Rica
Seventh Newspage

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 1, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 43
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Benedict gave a hint he would quit

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Benedict XVI has resigned, opening the way for the College of Cardinals to meet in a conclave to elect a new pontiff. While Pope Benedict’s decision to step down is unusual, it is not unprecedented.

Papal experts say there are about 10 popes who resigned in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Before Benedict, the most recent one was Pope Gregory XII who stepped down 600 years ago.

Church historian Chris Bellitto at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, said that was at the time of the Catholic Church’s worst institutional crisis, the so-called Great Western Schism, when there were three popes: Gregory in Rome, another one in Avignon, France and a third one essentially traveling around northern Italy.

“And it’s not just three popes. It’s three papacies. It’s three colleges of Cardinals.  And so a council called the Council of Constance solved the problem by deposing two of the popes,” said Bellitto. “And then this Gregory XII, he really metaphorically fell on his sword because he probably had the best legal claim, but he knew that you depose two and keep one, it was just not going to work. So he resigned and agreed that he would not be a candidate in the following conclave.”

​​The best known pope who resigned voluntarily was Celestine V who in the 13th century, before becoming pontiff, was a hermit living in central Italy.

Theology professor George Ferzoco at Bristol University in England said he was a compromise choice since none of the cardinals could agree who should be pope.

He said, “It must have been quite a sight: He would have seen the king of the kingdom of Naples and his retinue along with several of the cardinals coming along with their retinues, coming up this very, very steep, rugged path to his hermitage and announcing to him that guess what?  You are the next pope.  It is without parallel in the history of the papacy.”

But Ferzoco said Celestine V’s papacy was short-lived. “He was elected in July of 1294 and by the time December of that year came around, he was fully cognizant of the fact that he was, A: doing a terrible job, and B: hating every second of it, and the latter aspect in particular was fundamental to him,” said Ferzoco. “He passed a law for the church stating explicitly that it was licit for a pope to resign under certain circumstances and the very next day, he resigned.  That was the 13th of December 1294.”

Ferzoco said for the last year and a half of his life, Celestine was under house arrest in the castle of his successor as pope. He died on May 19, 1296, and his remains are in a glass coffin in a basilica in the town of L’Aquila.

More than 700 years later, in April 2009, Pope Benedict visited L’Aquila, which was hit by a devastating earthquake.

Ferzoco says during his visit, the pontiff went to Celestine’s coffin, which was not damaged by the earthquake.

“After praying for some time at the coffin that contains Celestine’s body, Benedict did something that was incredibly symbolic and gave a sign as to what may well have been on his mind,” said Ferzoco. “He removed from around his neck a kind of scarf called the pallium. And the pallium is one of the great indicators or symbols of the power of the pope. And what he did was, on removing this pallium, he placed it on the casket containing Celestine’s body and left it there.”

Ferzoco said many papal scholars missed the unmistakable signs.

“It’s pretty obvious, when you see this and note that he visited Celestine’s remains twice in the space of a year or so.  If he had not already been thinking about resigning, this certainly would have got him started.  And perhaps it’s not a coincidence that he resigned at about the same age as Celestine.”

Benedict will now hold the title of pope emeritus.  For the next several months he will reside in Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence.  He will then move inside the Vatican, to a convent that is being refurbished.

Free Internet courses gaining ground

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The academic world took notice in 2011 when a Stanford University professor offered an online course on artificial intelligence for free, and more than 160,000 students from around the world registered for it. Stanford’s success prompted other major universities such as Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to follow suit and that brought increased attention and funding to organizations developing free Internet-based education programs.

Stanford University now is offering 30 to 40 free courses online, and more than 1.5 million students have enrolled. There are regular schedules, homework and tests, but those enrolled do not earn credit toward a university degree. John Mitchell, the vice provost for online learning at Stanford, says the university offers these course as a public service.

“We’re teachers. This is what we love to do. If we can see people around the world learning from us, that’s rewarding. That’s what gets us up in the morning,” Mitchell said.

These free courses are also meant to entice students to apply to Stanford or enroll in other online classes that are not free. While online education is expanding the reach of major universities, Mitchell says they will not replace the on-campus experience.

But David Stavens, who taught at Stanford and recently co-founded a free online university called Udacity, says a quality education is becoming too expensive for most people.

“It’s a good system for a lot of people but there is another set of people who are equally smart, equally determined, equally hard working but who don’t quite fit into the mold, and it’s an unfair system for them,” Stavens said.

While Udacity is a for-profit company, the vast majority of its courses are free and they are developed specifically for online students. They include short videos, followed by exercises designed to engage the student and reinforce the lesson.

Students can pay for video conference tutoring or use the free chat rooms to discuss problems with their peers. 

While the number of universities offering online classes is growing, some classes are free and others are not.  The Khan Academy is a non-profit free Web site that contains over 3,500 video classes in a variety of languages and is utilized by six million people each month.
Salman Khan founded the company. He says it wasn't difficult to recruit donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by offering a quality education to everyone in the world. 

“Anytime, with so little incremental on your part, you can create essentially an unlimited potential on someone else’s part, I think it would be a shame not to do it,” Khan said.

Critics say there are flaws with online education, citing studies that show a higher drop out rate for online students. But proponents say the evolving technology is coming together to open up new educational opportunities as never before to millions around the world.

YouTube is boon for Asian entertainers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

From movies and TV shows to songs on the radio, there have been fewer opportunities in traditional media for Asian-American entertainers. But the Internet, especially YouTube, has changed that.  Los Angeles has seen an explosion of Asian-American YouTube celebrities.

Clara Chung loves to create music. She does it in her home studio, surrounded by instruments, a microphone and a computer. She says she didn't think her music would turn into a career until it ended up on the Internet.

“The Internet was probably the foundation for everything in my career and still is," she said. "It provided a global audience.”

Using the stage name Clara C, the Korean-American indie pop artist hears from fans from around the world.

“With just a click of a button, Japan is watching, and Australia is watching, Europe is watching.  It was crazy to see France, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, whatever, everywhere it is all because of YouTube,” she said.

Chung is a part of a large group of Asian-American musicians, actors and comedians who have exploded onto YouTube. Julie Zhan produced a documentary about them called "Uploaded: The Asian American Movement."

“Other than maybe a few Asian-American leading actors and actresses in television, we really do not see that many Asian-Americans on screen except for a lot of stereotypes,” Zhan noted.

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San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica
Phone: 8333-8750

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