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A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language news source Monday through Friday

Amigo Realty
(506) 2223-1327                     Punlishd Tuesday, March 12, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 50                Email us
Real Estate
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Jo Stuart

                Rica real estate

A.M. Costa Rica file photos by Frank Stenstrom
Hammerheads, by the hundreds or individually, are the signature species at Isla del Coco
Hammerheads win initial international protection vote
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

A local environmental organization is claiming victory because a gathering of nations has voted to protect five species of shark.

Costa Rica was one of the sponsors of the proposal, which would impose tighter controls on the shark finning trade.

However, the results are not yet final in that opponents of the ban might seek to reverse the decision.

The 91 to 39 vote came at the annual plenario of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The proposal was to include the five shark species in the Appendix II of the convention.

Randall Arauz is a Costa Rican environmentalist serving as an adviser to the Costa Rican delegation.

"This measure will finally control the irrational and unsustainable catch of hammerhead sharks to meet the demand of shark fins in international markets," said Arauz.

Arauz said that the vote is not final because China or Japan will surely try to overturn the vote when the convention returns to plenary. He is associated with the Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas and has waged a long battle against the shark fining trade. The final vote on the proposal is expected Thursday.

The meeting is in Bangkok, Thailand, where Arauz reported that Costa Rica had support from Honduras, Brazil, Central America, most of the South American countries, the European Union, the United States, and blocs of African nations.

A recent academic study estimated that 100 million
 sharks a year are killed to supply the shark fin trade. Costa Rica has been a center of the trade until recently.

"The hammerhead shark is of extreme importance to Costa Rica, not only due to its importance in domestic fisheries, but also due to its importance for the dive industry, where their observation generates yearly revenues of millions of U.S. dollars," said José Joaquín Calvo, chief of the Costa Rican delegation, in a summary provided by Arauz. "We will continue with these regional and global processes, to guarantee the sustainable use of hammerhead sharks and other highly migratory species for the future generations."

If the incusion is approved, the stricter requirements would only affect international trade. The five species that received approval are the oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead and porbeagle.

Two manta ray species also included are one that lives near reefs and another that is migratory.

If final approval is given, the sharks and rays would not be subject to a total ban. Appendix II does allow commercial trade. But countries involved in such trade must do two things. They have to prove that the sharks and rays were, one, legally caught and, two, sustainably caught.

“It means now that these shark populations will undergo much greater scrutiny before they’re allowed to be traded internationally,” said Glenn Sant, global marine program leader for TRAFFIC, a non-profit organization concerned with biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

“I must say though it is a bit of a bittersweet win today," he added. "You know, it’s sad that we’ve had to get to the point where some of these shark populations have been reduced to such levels that we then only give attention to them.”

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 50
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Trade treaty with Perú gets
approval on initial reading

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers gave initial approval Monday to a trade treaty between Costa Rica and Perú.

Commerce officials see the treaty as another step toward becoming involved in the Pacific Alliance, a trading bloc that includes Perú, México, Chile and Colombia. The four countries of the alliance control more than a third of Latin America's goods and services. Costa Rica just approved a treaty with Colombia, too.

Lawmakers heard that the treaty with Perú opens a market of some 30 million to Costa Rican exporters.

Costa Rica is likely to export palm products, meat and chocolates. Perú is ready to export to Costa Rica various fruits and vegetable products, which will be free of import duties.

The treaty was approved by the executive branch in May 2011.

Cuban-American faces charge
of running trafficking operation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Immigration police detained a Cuban-American Monday on the allegation that he was the leader of a human trafficking ring.

The immigration agency said that Cubans were being brought to Costa Rica on false passports and other documents. Then they would head north.

The suspect was identified by the last name of Montero.

Immigration police said that initially the Cubans would go to other Latin countries. Then they would come to Costa Rica and be housed by the trafficking ring in exchange for payment of a substantial sum.

The case began when a women with false documents was detained at Juan Santamaría airport in May 2012. A more recent arrival was trailed by immigration agents to a location in Sabana Norte.  That location was raided Monday as was a second location in Pavas.

Scammers defraud in name
of country's hotel chamber

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles said Monday that crooks are using the name of the organization to cause businesses to pay false invoices.

The chamber said that the crooks have paperwork that carries the name and other details of the organization.

Two deaths in Upala
may be robbery-murder

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man and his wife died Sunday or early Monday in what may have been a violent robbery.

A farm laborer found the two bodies when he reported for work Monday morning, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The man was identified by the last name of Aguilar. He was 43. The wife, identified by the last name of Garcia, was 45.

Both appear to have been shot, said the judicial agency.

Agents added that the couple just sold some head of cattle and that they had a large sum of money in their home. The home is in  Nazaret de Upala.

Safe crackers used torch
to defeat safe in Orotina

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Safe crackers are at the pinnacle of the criminal world.

Not all of this variety of crooks are light Fingered Louie who can sense the tumblers of a mechanical safe by touch.

Modern innovations and digital safes have pretty well put Louie into retirement. This type of safe cracking is more elegant but melting the metal with a torch is probably more effective.

That is what happened in Orotina over the weekend. Crooks used a torch to get to the inside of a safe. Of course, that type of effort requires some elegance, too, so that the contents are not baked and burned.

The jewelry store burglary in Orotina involved the theft of merchandise.

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 summaries are disabled
on archived pages.

Have you seen these stories?
From A.M. Costa Rica

Top story news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 50
Real Estate
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An outpouring of opinions from our readers
She enjoys mountain home
and appreciates this country

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Cheers to Jere Land for the comments shared in the letter concerning expats complaining about life in Costa Rica. It is not my place to criticize the way things are done. Instead, I celebrate the chance I was given to move here and enjoy living a life of contentment.

Having visited various parts of this country for half-a-dozen years, I found myself tired of life in the U.S. and expenses there. So I chose to try life in a rented small house up a mountain outside of Grecia for 90 days, giving myself that time to find a more permanent living situation. That became renting a perfect small house again near Grecia for the past couple of years.

Yes, they burn sugarcane. Yes, the tractors and commercial vehicles spew exhaust. Yes, cars are noisy, and, finally, recycling is difficult. But despite flaws in paradise, I have orchids growing in my kitchen and carport. Birds delight me as do the geckos visiting me. At first the bars on the windows and carport scared me, but I soon got used to them.

The best part and what most expats ignore is how kind and helpful most of the people can be. Too much is said by expats in the way of criticism when their plans to make it big in Costa Rica fail and they are unable to sell their "Mc-mansions" for profit. Their businesses don't quite excel. Roads and sidewalks are uneven. Drivers can be locos, so I take a bus. American brands can be expensive, so I substitute or do without.

The idea of living the American dream in Costa Rica does not compute. Instead, love and appreciate this wonderful country for what it is and its potential. . .  or please go back to your seemingly preferred lifestyle in the U.S. 

Linda Joyce Field
San Isidro de Grecia

Caribbean business owners
were treated unfairly by story

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

One point in your article about crime in the Caribbean needs some edification.  The following sentence implies that the business owners in Puerto Viejo have tried to hush up the crimes that occur here.

“Understandably those in the tourism business along the Caribbean coast feared that extensive publicity of the crimes would hurt business.”

I have lived in Puerto Viejo for two and a half years and am not a business owner.  During my time here I have witnessed those people in the tourist industry here lead the fight against crime.  It has been the business leaders who started the Facebook page to track crimes in the area so that addressing crime became a priority.  It was also the business leaders who started the Facebook group to discuss and report crimes.  These people have spent untold hours and funds on the effort to reduce crime in this area and to bring the criminals to justice.  They encourage victims to report crimes and often take the victims to Bribri to do so.

Just last week, this community successfully reached the goal to raise $15,000 to install security cameras along the main road in the Puerto Viejo. In fact, at this point over $18,000 has been raised. While this was truly a community effort, it was the business leaders who began and drove the effort, even going so far as going door to door to encourage people and businesses to give.

Please do not belittle these fine people and the work they do in the community by writing a throw away sentence like the one above.  It is harmful and  unfair.
Jana Stotler
Puerto Viejo.

It took a murder case
to get San José interested

Dear A.M. Costa Rica;

I would like to respond to your article  "It Took Murder to Generate Action on the Caribbean Coast."

You said: "Understandably those in the tourism business along the Caribbean coast feared that extensive publicity of the crimes would hurt business." The truth is that many people, individuals, business owners and those in the tourism industry, have been working to get more police protection here and have been open and talking about the recent crimes, in search of solutions. A group of residents has recently worked to gain $18,000 in contributions from businesses and individuals to install surveillance cameras at critical points in the area.

You said, "Presumably many of the robbery reports did not reach the judicial police central headquarters in San José." Whenever there is a crime, the victims are urged and helped to go to judicial police to file a denuncia. We believe that the denuncias filed will be sent to San José and get the attention of the authorities who determine what kind of police protection we have here.

The Caribbean coast is an area traditionally ignored by the government in San José. For example, when the police vehicle broke down a few months ago, no money was sent from San José for repairs. When a vehicle breaks down, months can be spent on red tape while the ability of the local officers to do their jobs and respond in a timely manner is seriously impacted. However it seems there were enough funds to send a number of new police vehicles to La Fortuna.

Our local police force works very hard to do the best they can with what they've got. They deserve credit for their hard work. Especially as they were the ones who got the first of the gang the same night the murder was committed. I feel it is more accurate to say that it took a murder to get the attention of the authorities in San José.
Lisa Valencia
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Those who live here are
not guests but residents

Dear A.M. Costa Rica;

Mr. Jere Land told most expats to just suck it up and not complain about life here in Costa Rica.  He said, "Otherwise keep quiet and thank your blessings you are allowed to live here and remember always you are guest of the Costa Rican people." He is actually the one that needs to not complain about residents complaining here, as he is the one that is a guest, not we residents.

The definition of a guest does not apply to most expat residence that are living here in Costa Rica.  I am not a "guest"!

1. One who is a recipient of hospitality at the home or table of another.

2. One to whom entertainment or hospitality has been extended by another in the role of host or hostess, as at a party.

3. One who pays for meals or accommodations at a restaurant, hotel, or other establishment; a patron.

4. A distinguished visitor to whom the hospitality of an institution, city, or government is extended.
I and others don't fit into any of these categories.  I have been a resident of Costa Rica for 23 years.  I pay taxes and also work here.  I don't receive any hospitality from the government.  I pay for everything, including my health insurance and property taxes.

It is healthy to have discussions on likes and dislikes of where one lives.  I am not trying to change Costa Rica to be like the United States,  I just like to discuss the differences.  It seems the majority of the people who want to become more like the United States are Ticos.   It is obvious as you see the changes here in the past 20 years.  A few examples are the huge increase in fast food chains, obesity running rampant, more Ticos going deeper in debt, more traffic congestion, more plastic garbage produced etc...

I am glad A.M. Costa Rica doesn't keep quiet about the negative things going on here also.  We expats are just using one of our many rights here in Costa Rica.  It is called freedom of speech, which is basically allowed here in Costa Rica and the U.S.

Henry Kantrowitz
Punta Leona

Gambler is bound to lose
in the long run and pay a tax

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In his letter about gambling published today, Mr. Craig W. Weir makes many good points. One underlying truth, however, he failed to include.

At its heart, any form of gambling is a stacked deck. The gambler is bound to lose in the long run. Gambling is really just a stupidity tax. The more stupidity you have, the more you pay.

David C. Murray
Crime coverage provided
information vital to decision

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I would like to express my thanks for the important service you bring in reporting so well on the crime situation in the Talamanca area.

I am a foreigner (South African) married to a Tica and have lived in Santa Ana for some years. I had very much finalized the planning to start a tourism related business in the Talamanca area, and the idea was shelved because of the crime situation there. This I knew purely due to the fact that I have local family, as, like you said in A.M. Costa Rica today, crime in the area is not reported in any Tico paper.

Here is a question/suggestion that I believe can help to make the problem known and therefore force some action by the authorities.

Can you get your webmaster to incorporate a "share" link to the social media at your articles?

It will spread any news, good or bad for so many more to see and at the same time promote your paper free!

Dewald Reiners
Santa Ana

There is a third variety
of those who complain

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Thanks for your continued quality coverage of all that is life in Ticolandia.

Regarding a letter published today by one Jere Land of Houston:

Complaining about something without taking steps to rectify the situation is fruitless, and the complaints are in effect nothing more than whining.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who will tolerate just about anything — bad air included – before they have the courage to stand up for their rights or the rights of others.

While perhaps fitting into the latter category, Jere Land has demonstrated yet a third group. That of the meta-complainer: Those who complain about the fact that others are complaining.

Jim Shapiro
Carlsbad, California

Criticizing public policy
is not just for citizens

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Jere Land’s letter urging U.S. citizens to stop complaining about Costa Rica and remember that they are guests in the country is well-intentioned but mistaken.

Moral responsibility, which includes constructively criticizing public policy, doesn’t disappear when people cross national borders.

In fact, the letter that prompted Mr. Land to complain about all the complaining, which addressed the controversy over burning sugar cane, was one of the most informed and helpful letters A.M. Costa Rica has ever published.

Letters like it contribute to Costa Rica’s improvement, and are offered in that spirit by people who live here and are part of the society.

Mr. Land also makes the mistake of labeling everyone who doesn’t hold Costa Rican citizenship as guests.

Some 20 percent of Costa Rica residents don’t hold citizenship, even though many work, pay taxes, and are otherwise integral parts of the society.  Must they refrain from criticizing for want of a piece of paper?

Costa Rican law requires immigrants to wait eight years before becoming eligible for citizenship (which given the delays at Migración can easily drag on much longer), and Costa Rican law requires Americans to renounce their U.S. citizenship when they become Costa Rican citizens.

Do U.S .citizens in Costa Rica really have to renounce their U.S. citizenship before they can state an opinion about the country in which they are legal residents?  And if they do, do they forfeit the right to criticize the U.S. since they are then no longer citizens of that country?

As it happened, Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t a citizen of the Roman Empire, where he lived, so according to the reasoning of those like Mr. Land, he remained a guest who was obligated to keep his mouth shut.

But the New Testament has no use for citizenship, ethnicity, or any arbitrary category of inclusion.  When it raises the question, “Who is my neighbor?” it answers everyone you encounter.

Arguably, it is even irresponsible of residents of Costa Rica not to criticize misguided public policy.  As some point, remaining silent makes a person part of the problem rather than part of the solution
I understand what sticks in Mr. Land’s craw:  The American blowhards who object to anything in Costa Rica that differs from the U.S. lifestyle they want to replicate here.

However, the letter that Mr. Land complains about was not authored by blowhards blathering about their finicky cultural tastes.  It was a well-informed contribution to the discussion of a public issue that concerns everyone in Costa Rica.

Mr. Land’s nationalism may be central to his identity, and, if so, he should continuing behaving like a guest during his visits to Costa Rica.

Some of us, however, live here.  We aren’t guests, but neighbors — with all the moral obligations, including those of constructive criticism, that neighborliness entails.

Ken Morris
San Pedro

Inflated prices of foods
partly fault of government

Dear A.M. Costa Rica;

Should we be surprised by the study conducted by the A.M. Costa Rica staff, as disclosed in the article on March 7, showing that prices for food and beverages in Costa Rica are 28 percent higher than Panamá?  In fact, the study revealed that the difference is even greater for some categories of food or beverages:  For example, rice - the price of which is controlled by the government - is 62 percent higher.  Chicken thighs are 50 percent higher.  Fresca is 89 percent higher. Coca Cola is 42 percent higher, and beer is 92 percent higher.

These differences may come as a shock to some, but not to those expats who travel and are able to compare.  What the study did not tell you, however, is that prices for food and beverages in Costa Rica are higher than in many areas of the United States.  My friends in southern Florida tell me, for example, that many food items cost less in Florida, particularly dairy products and beef and chicken. 

Even fruits and vegetables produced in Costa Rica and exported to the U.S. can often be found at a lower price in Florida.

Many expats came to Costa Rica not only to enjoy its marvelous climate and natural beauty but also to enjoy a lifestyle that offers a lower cost of living.  But creeping inflation has significantly eroded their ability to enjoy a lower cost of living. 

They were willing to endure the higher cost of vehicles, household appliances, construction materials and pharmaceuticals (often costing 50 to 100 percent more than the same item in the U.S), and were even prepared to pay a higher price for gasoline and diesel (the highest, in fact, of any Central American country).  However, they were not prepared to see the land of “pura vida” cost more to eat and drink.

How did this come about?  It happened in some cases because of direct governmental action, such as its control of the price of rice.  It has also come about because of government inaction, allowing one or two companies in a particular industry to dominate its market, giving it the ability to determine the price, particularly dairy, chicken, and beef, as well as many beverages. 

Who benefits from these high prices?  Often, the actual producers of the product do not enjoy the advantage of high prices.  Instead, it is often a distributor or a retail company which has the ability to control its industry. 
The net result is that the consumer — whether a Tico or an expat — pays more and enjoys less. Is it pura vida, or is it, regretfully, pura paja.
David Jackson
San Jose
and San Francisco, California

Del Rey Hotel

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
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, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 50
Real Estate
About us

Hemispheric press group
release grim freedom report

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

After three days of analysis and discussion on the state of freedom of the press and of expression, the Inter American Press Association* has released its conclusions, in which the organization highlights violence and constant government harassment as elements that constantly hurt the exercise of journalism in the Americas. 

Below are the full conclusions:

Freedom of the press in the Americas continues to be held in check by intolerant authoritarian governments that multiply and reinvent their harassment of journalism, as well as by violence that seems to know no limits.

A new and formidable attack makes the already difficult situation worse in terms of freedom of expression:  the pressures from governments to induce private enterprise to remove advertising from independent media outlets.

Today in Argentina, as has occurred in Perú under Alberto Fujimori, important advertisers have completely withdrawn their publicity after the government ordered them to do so in the face of fear of reprisals in taxation or of some other nature. Critical journalism, discriminated against by the government by not receiving government advertising, is facing a crossroads from which it may not survive.

The Inter American Press Association considers it absolutely necessary to call on governments not only to proclaim, but also to practice the most basic standards of a republican democracy — freedom of expression, division of powers, independence of justice, individual citizen guarantees, and alternation of the party in power — at the risk brought about by a single modus operandi of anti-democratic practices that do not respect ideological frontiers in the western hemisphere, but which are especially prevalent in Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panamá.

This process comprehends, fundamentally, immense state and private propaganda machines created for the sole purpose of defaming and attacking journalists, those responsible for the media, business people, and politicians that do not share the official line of thought.

Official advertising, which is growing openly and is reaching millionaire sums, continues to be utilized as a method of discrimination against non-conforming media in those countries, to which we may add Guatemala.

Official discourses are reproduced in an identical manner:  They accuse the press media of destabilizing and creating opposition due to their merely doing their work, which consists of informing and expressing opinion.  Laws that favor access to public information are ignored or not passed in the first place.

Press laws have been passed or are on their way to passage that make the work of a critical press difficult, and which venture into news content in Ecuador, Chile, Honduras, and Costa Rica.  With these legal tools, as has been proven in Argentina and Venezuela, they attempt to multiply the space of the media dependent on the state and reduce the number of independent voices.

All of this directly contradicts that which all American states have committed to respect in the Inter-American Democratic Charter signed on Sept. 11, 2001 in Lima, Peru, according to which “Essential elements of representative democracy are respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” freedom of expression and the press, “access to and the exercise of power in accordance with the rule of law... the pluralistic system of political parties and organizations, and the separation of powers and independence of the branches of government.”

For its part, the Inter American Press Association calls on those companies that fold before the blackmail of government that they exhibit worthy behavior in accordance with the value of democracy and freedom of expression.  History has demonstrated in these cases that all gain is momentary and short-lasting.

On the other hand, it must be reported that in the region violence against journalists does not cease.  In Mexico, two journalists were murdered and one remains disappeared. In Cuba, the media and journalists are permanently harassed and persecuted arbitrarily, while discrimination persists in granting permission to leave the country.  And in Brazil two men of the press were murdered while in Perú and Colombian attacks against journalists and the communications media continue to grow.

Finally, the Inter American Press Association expresses its grave concern, and its most energetic rejection, of any attempt to weaken the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights  and the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States that may occur at the meeting of ambassadors that will take place March 22 in Washington, D.C.

*A.M. Costa Rica's parent corporation is a member of the Inter American Press Association.

U.S. tax rate causes firms
to keep their money offshore

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A leading U.S. newspaper says U.S. companies are making record profits, but the money is remaining offshore in various other countries where it is lightly taxed.

The Wall Street Journal compiled an analysis of 60 U.S. companies.  The report says altogether the companies deposited $166 billion offshore last year, shielding more than 40 percent of their annual profits from U.S. taxes.

The practice is legal according to U.S. rules, which allow for no taxes on overseas profits if the money is not brought back to the U.S..

The newspaper said if just 19 of the 60 companies returned their offshore profits to the U.S., their federal tax hit could reach $98 billion.  That is more than the $85 billion in automatic government spending cuts that went into effect last month when the White House and Congress could not agree on alternative plans to reduce the budget deficit.

The Wall Street Journal report said 10 of the companies had more money in offshore accounts last year than they generated for their bottom lines.  According to the newspaper, Abbot Laboratories untaxed overseas earnings rose by $8.1 billion to $40 billion - the increase exceeding its net income of $6 billion.  The newspaper says the company reported a pretax loss on its U.S. operations.

The Wall Street Journal said the 60 companies in its analysis were chosen because each had at least $5 billion offshore in 2011.

Business groups point out that tax rates are higher in the U.S. than in many other countries, putting American companies at a disadvantage.
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Mountain cabin for rent
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We offer for rent three furnished, 2-bedroom mountain homes located on the slopes of Barva Volcano, Sacramento, Heredia. The cabin-style homes are adjacent to the Braulio Carillo National Park and walking distance to the Barva Volcano crater lake. Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and garage. Take in breathtaking views of the Irazú Volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of bird species, to include the occasional Resplendent Quetzal, and a pristine cloud forest. We can also offer you an occasional ride on one of our beautiful mares. Contact Allan or Cristina at, or or for more information HERE! $700 USD/month. We can also offer a weekend or short-stay package.

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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One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed DSL internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone line,
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feel for normal, day-to-day Tico life. Rental is $575 per month, 3 months minimum. All utilities included. Shorter stays at $45 per night, 2 nights minimum. $225 per week, and $30 per additional night. Sorry, no pets.  Contact or 8308-7732.

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COMPLETELY and nicely furnished large 2-bedroom
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We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

Beautiful Golfito house for rent
in Costa Rica: $300/month

Available now and please see the video!
New construction includes some wooden stairs to the main gate and a small pavilion above the house overlooking the village. The distance to Golfito harbor/downtown is 7 kms and you can get there by car, taxi or bus. The rent is $300/month, which is very reasonable for those who want to live near sea and Panamá in an inexpensive lifestyle. It was so nice to live near Panamá where people can shop for much lower prices including for groceries. Please contact me at for more details. Thank you.

Palacio condo
Beautiful 2-bedroom, 2-bath modern condo for rent.
(Only 6 years old).
Great Secure Area, Next to 5-Star Hotel Palacio (La Uruca). Gated community, 24-hour security, 5 minutes to San José. Swimming Pool, washer/dryer, covered parking, high-speed Internet, cable TV, home phone! $900 per month, fully furnished, 6-Month minimum! Please Call: 001-954-782-0200 or email

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.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 50
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New York Muslims are upset
by police ethnic profiling

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A coalition of American Muslims delivered to New York City police headquarters Monday a report that alleges widespread ethnic profiling by the city police department’s counter-terrorism and surveillance programs. The report calls for enhanced legislative and judicial protection from what Muslims allege is unconstitutional spying.

A group of about 40 Muslim Americans representing The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition and other advocacy organizations gathered in downtown Manhattan to formally present a 51-page report called “Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and its Impact on American Muslims.”

Attorney Diala Shammas spearheads a City University of New York project to promote accountability and transparency within the New York City Police Department. She says police surveillance of Muslims has been “extremely invasive” since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.  

“We know that they’ve been sending informants into mosques, into places of worship," said Ms. Shammas. "They’ve sent informants into Muslim student associations, into club rooms, into whitewater rafting trips, places that the NYPD has no business being.” 

Ms. Shammas says no one knows the precise extent of the police surveillance program or its exact methods.

“… but what we do know is that there are undercover officers, but there are also informants who are members of the community who are paid or pressured either through incentives or by taking advantage of their vulnerabilities to go into these communities and to report what they hear," said Ms. Shammas.

This became a personal issue for Maryam Said, a student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, when she learned that her university’s Muslim club had been infiltrated by an informant posing as a fellow student and friend.

“And it kind of created a mistrust among the people when they found out," said Ms. Said. "Because they thought he was a good friend of theirs. They were like ‘you were a brother. You were our family, we took you in. We were there for you. And you turn around it turns out you were just here watching us and we haven’t done anything wrong.’”

The “Mapping Muslims” report offers several recommendations to counter what it sees as a growing threat to the community’s constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law, freedom of assembly and freedom from discrimination. These include community discussion groups, know-your-rights workshops and other awareness campaigns. Ms. Shammas adds that government oversight and protection against excessive surveillance also is crucial.

“It could either be done through the City Council, and there are some pending bills before City Council. If the courts have to intervene - then courts should intervene - to bring oversight to the NYPD. We would like it if it just comes from the NYPD themselves," said Ms. Shammas.

Several calls to the New York City Police Department for comment or to rebut the report went unanswered.

Conclave to select a pope
begins today in Vatican

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The eyes of the world's Catholics are turned toward the Vatican, where 115 cardinals begin choosing a new pope starting today.
The members of the College of Cardinals will seclude themselves in the Sistine Chapel and not come out until a new pope is elected. There is no telling how long it will take. But the world will know when the church has a new leader when white smoke billows from a special chimney installed on the chapel roof.
Their selection must receive at least 77 votes, a two-thirds majority. There is no clear favorite.

Some Vatican observers say the Church is badly in need of reform after the child sex scandal and what they see as a growing irrelevancy of church doctrine. They predict the cardinals will elect a younger pope. But the experts also say the more traditional-minded cardinals will push for a conservative.
Pope Benedict surprised the world last month, when after eight years he became the first Roman Catholic Church leader in 600 years to step down voluntarily.
The cardinals will officially enter the conclave at 5 p.m. local time. The first possible smoke sighting from the Sistine Chapel chimney should emerge around 7p.m. There will be no more than four votes per day until a new pope is chosen.

Abuse victims at center
of next pope's challenge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One of the issues as Roman Catholic cardinals cast ballots for the next pope will be the ongoing controversy over clerical sex abuse.  Some victims of that abuse say the church has tried to avoid responsibility, and they're skeptical that the next pope will make major changes.

“This is a picture of me, right before my abuse. I was around 8 or 9 when the abuse started,” says Becky Ianni, who remembers herself as a normal, happy child.

Continuing to refer to the photo she said, “and then this is me, during my abuse. And you can see I cut my hair. He used to touch my hair.  He basically - he would rape me with his hands.  He at one point in the vestry of the church stood behind me and rubbed his hands up and down my school uniform. And I remember after that point I would start wearing a sweater all the time, and that was my protection.”

Ms. Ianni says she didn't think about it as sex.

“I just knew it felt wrong, and that it made me feel dirty," she said.  "And I never once blamed him.  I blamed myself 100 percent because I thought God was punishing me because I must be a bad dirty little girl.  My perpetrator was a newly ordained priest and this was his first parish, St. Mary's."

The man Ms. Ianni says abused her, the Rev. William T. Reinecke, served at a church in Alexandria, Virginia.

He killed himself in 1992 after he was confronted by another victim, an altar boy.

Ms. Ianni is now a spokeswoman for a victims' group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, that wants Pope Benedict to be prosecuted for not protecting children.

But Benedict did go further than his predecessor, John Paul II, in reining in pedophile priests, says papal biographer Marco Politi.

“Ratzinger as pope has certainly wanted to open a new page, and he has made rules, which are tougher," he said. "He has introduced a zero-tolerance policy. At the same time, there are still so many unknown victims in the archives which have not been opened.”

Most of the known cases have been in the United States, where more than 15,000 people were allegedly violated since 1950.  There have also been allegations in Europe and Australia.

It’s hard to know just how widespread the abuse has been in Third World countries, because in many places there are taboos against discussing it.  But in the United States, a recent survey found that one in three Catholics think it’s the most important problem facing the church.

Before the conclave, the Archbishop of Chicago, Francis George, said the next pope must not tolerate abuse.

“But there are still the victims, and the wound therefore is deep in their hearts and minds very often, and as long as its with them it’s with all of us, and that will last for a long time," he said.

Ms. Ianni says she received a settlement but only after the church dragged its feet.

“I think their first instinct is to protect themselves, to protect their reputation," she said.

She hopes it’s different under the new pope but says that until now the church has only responded when it was forced to.

A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Tubers like these were sensitive to length of day until a mutation took place.

Mutation in potato genome
let it flourish in the north

By the Wageningen University
and Research Centre news staff

An international team of scientists headed by Wageningen University, has discovered a genetic mechanism which allows potato plants to develop tubers during the long days of spring and summer in northern latitudes.

Wild potatoes, which originate in the Andes of South America, were brought to Europe by Spanish sailors in the late 16th century. Naturally occurring near the Equator, Andean potatoes develop tubers on days which are relatively shorter than those in high latitude summer. Newly discovered mutations in a single potato gene are likely to have contributed to the widespread success of the potato, which is the third most important food crop in the world today.

Although the potato was probably domesticated as long as 10,000 years ago, the distribution of this crop plant was initially restricted to farming communities in what are today Chile, Bolivia and Peru. Only after the Spanish conquest was the potato imported to Europe. Since the European growing season of spring and summer is characterized by long days and short nights, native South American potato varieties would only begin making tubers in autumn, when the days last 12 hours or less.

However, modern potato varieties show a wide variation in the timing of tuber formation, with early varieties starting as early as April. The mutations in the newly discovered regulator of tuber formation allow potatoes to escape the original short day regulation mechanism suited to the Andes, so that potatoes can grow and be cultivated in northern Europe and other northern latitudes throughout the world.

The team of scientists has published its findings on the gene allowing potatoes to grow and flourish far from its Andean origins in the international scientific journal Nature. The authors also describe a variety of mutations in the tuber formation regulator gene which occur in different combinations in modern potato cultivars, giving rise to early, medium and late varieties, depending on the combination of the gene variants present in the tetraploid crop. Knowledge of the genes underlying the mechanism of early development will allow plant breeders to tailor new potato varieties to various geographic locations.

Energy experts see a future
in unconventional fuels

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The boom in natural gas and oil production in the United States has changed the outlook for energy worldwide. In Houston, participants in the 32nd annual IHS CERAWeek conference — a gathering of global energy industry policymakers and financial leaders — talked of a world increasingly powered by what they call unconventional fuels: energy resources other than the petroleum pumped from deep underground deposits that have driven economic growth and development for the past century.
​​Thanks to a big expansion of natural-gas production in Texas and several other states, the U.S. energy forecast looks good. But the biggest energy user — transportation — still relies primarily on petroleum.
The chairman and CEO of General Motors, Daniel Akerson, says providing customers with home natural gas fueling stations might help.
"If we thought it would sell the product and make a profit, sure we will do it," he said, cautioning, however, that it's unlikely to happen until the U.S. government backs creation of far more fueling stations nationwide.
"There may have to be some government incentive to the energy industry to have them build up the necessary infrastructure," he said. "We cannot control that part of the equation. But we also cannot manufacture without having some surety of infrastructure support."
Because cars and trucks using natural gas are so expensive, the American Petroleum Institute's chief economist, John Felmy, says any change has to start with large commercial vehicles.
"The higher cost for single-family vehicles are so much above what the price for conventional vehicles is that it is hard to recover the cost," said Felmy. "Now, for fleet operations and heavy duty trucks, I think there is an opportunity there."
Felmy also thinks it makes sense to promote the export of liquefied natural gas to provide producers with an incentive to expand.
"If you look at gas operations around the country right now, you are seeing still an enormous amount of exploratory drilling for gas, but the development drilling has not occurred because of the relatively low price," he said, explaining that such exports also would cut the U.S. trade deficit, create more jobs and yet have only a minor impact on the price consumers pay.
But this development is not just good for the United States. Businessmen like Mikhail Smirnov of Russia's Cryogenmash want to sell liquefied natural gas equipment to U.S. companies.
"We are excited about it because it dramatically increases the number of private gas sellers and private customers who will need the gas to be liquefied in small quantities," he said.
And energy officials from many countries are here to learn more about how they can expand their own production.
According to Arsenio Mabote, chairman of Mozambique's National Petroleum Institute, expanded production, for many nations, is also about fighting poverty.
"By having energy resources — for instance you generate electricity and supply it to the population — that brings development," he said.
Experts say countries around the world are going to need energy from a variety of sources, including oil, gas, coal and renewables to meet demand in the coming decades.

Residents of the Falkands
overwhelmingly pick Britain

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Residents of the Falkland Islands voted overwhelmingly to remain part of Britain in a referendum Monday, adding to the heated territorial dispute between Argentina and Britain about the remote islands.

The official count showed that nearly 100 percent of all votes cast approved the question for the self-governing island to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, with only three "no" votes cast. Officials say 92 percent of the island's 1,650 eligible voters cast a ballot in the referendum.

The vote was never in doubt, with islanders wearing outfits resembling the red, white and blue British Union Jack flag in the capital of Stanley.

Residents hope the vote will send a signal not only to Buenos Aires, but the rest of the world, about their wishes to remain under British rule.

But Argentina has dismissed the referendum as illegitimate. Alicia Castro, Argentina's ambassador to the United Kingdom, told an Argentine radio station that although Buenos Aires respects the islanders' way of life and their identity as British subjects, the island itself belongs to Argentina. Ms. Castro says the issue must be resolved directly between Britain and Argentina.

Argentine President Cristina Kirschner has become increasingly vocal in expressing her country's claim of sovereignty of the remote islands, called Malvinas in Spanish. Argentina's military government invaded the Falklands in 1982, but lost control after a brief war with Britain that left more than 900 people dead.

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Real estate for sale (paid category)

View from Orosi home

Majestically situated overlooking the Orosi Valley and the tropical rain forest, this 2-bedroom, 2½-bath home with a separate office is offered at $550,000.  From the extensive use of glass windows visitors are easily captivated by the unbelievably 7 acres of pure, natural Costa Rican landscape.   The property is located 15 minutes from the Cartago metropolitan area, an hour from San José, 1¼ hours to the Juan Santamaria International Airport, 2 hours to the beaches of the Pacific West Coast, or 3 ½  hours to the beaches of the southern Caribbean coast.
USA 678-799-8803
CR Cell 011-506-8-910-2904

You can purchase property in Costa Rica legally without paying Land Transfer Tax; this plus the usual real estate commission of 5% will reduce your purchase price by approximately 11%. Save over $50,000.00 on the purchase of this $465,000.00 property. Large 5000+ sq.ft. House. Ideal for business executive, B & B or large family. E-mail for photos and more information to

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:

Morazan building for sale
Building for sale by owner
near Parque Morazán San José center on the street running down
the west side of the Hotel Holiday Inn. Perfect for club, bar etc,
Larger than it appears from outside. Call. (506) 8847-1822
or email:

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.

Montemar montage
Gated community near the beach
SALE on our last 4 lots! Starting at just $20k with financing available.
Deep discounts for cash sales!
Reserve today with just $5,000 down
Great retirement, vacation, or investment option!
Lots of wildlife on the property. Gated front entrance, caretakers house.
Water and power on site.
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891

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
Oceanfront residential Lot $58k
and much more....
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718 9891

Ocean view home
Georgeous House For Sale In Costa Rica
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:
Jack 506-2778-8172    Email:

Luxurious new beach home for sale
Top of the line construction!
This titled property is located on a dead end road only 300 meters from the beach at Esterillos Este. It's a ''one of a kind'' construction with natural diamond Brite pool!
Top of Line construction
1st master bedroom with full bath and loft area. 2nd master bedroom with full bath and outdoor shower. Sells completely furnished with front-loading washer-dryer, commercial refri/freezer and deluxe furniture. Storage area and carport. $289,000.00 USD Call 2778-8408 or 8707-1037 or email

just reduced
Just Reduced to $169,000!!!
58-acre oceanview and mountainview property

Segregated into 9 lots, Excellent Development Potential!
20 minutes from the beach Central Pacific Coast, between Jacó and Quepos.
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005  CR Cell 8718-9891

montage ofr photos
ALAZAN Eco-Friendly Community

- Ocean, mountain, and river views, built in harmony with nature
- 70% sold out, 1.25 acre + lots available from $75,000
- All lots held in separate corporations
- Functioning HOA with 24-hour security and gated front entrance
- 100% custom homes, turnkey construction
- Community homes have been featured in Su Casa Architectural Magazine
- Abundant wildlife on the property, access to 45-acre nature preserve
- Organic Permaculture farm coming soon
- Build your custom dream home and join our community of friends in paradise!
Brokers Welcome
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
CR Cell 011 (506) 8718-9891

Retirement/vacation/hobby farm lots for sale
Libertad, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, 15 minutes to Playa del Coco or Playa Hermosa,
20 minutes to Liberia airport. Project is Colinas del Sol del Pacifico, S. A. 125-acre project with beautiful mountain and valley views. 70 clear-titled lots remaining for sale with water and electric to each lot. Lots are 5,000 sq. meters and larger. Fenced and gated project. Ready to build. Lots start at $30,000.    Guanacaste tree
See Prices listed have been reduced from those shown on the Web site.  For all general inquiries please contact Jim Day at or 001 517 484-3675.

beachfront one
beachfront three
Price slashed for quick sale.
Beautiful, completely remodeled beachfront home for sale.

Great location in between Quepos and Parrita. Please visit this Web site for complete details: Price recently reduced for quick sale. Email or call 713-775-9283.

Costa Azul view
costa azul ocean
Properties in Osa near the ocean.
50% discount from the valuation price, starting at $30.000.
Financing available. Contact us at +506 2233-7778 or +506 8815-6476.
Grupo Costa Azul – A property waiting for you!

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Business for sale or lease (paid category)7115-12/16/11

Would you like to start a chain of pizzerias  in Costa Rica?
If you have the money,   I have the ideas and the basis to start. Buy the place,
and I'll work for you! Only serious inquiries. Money or property in C.R.
Call  Mike  (506) 8375 4287 or after 1 p.m. Call to  (506) 2241 1068.

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:

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 50
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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

Strict protection keeps land
in Amazon from lumbering

By the University of Michigan news staff

Strictly protected areas such as national parks and biological reserves have been more effective at reducing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest than so-called sustainable-use areas that allow for controlled resource extraction, two University of Michigan researchers and their colleagues have found.

In addition, protected areas established primarily to safeguard the rights and livelihoods of indigenous people performed especially well in places where deforestation pressures are high. The University of Michigan-led study, which found that all forms of protection successfully limit deforestation, was scheduled for online publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The lead author is Christoph Nolte, a doctoral candidate at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. Co-authors include Arun Agrawal, a professor of natural resources at the school.

"Perhaps the biggest surprise is the finding that indigenous lands perform the best when it comes to lower deforestation in contexts of high deforestation pressure," Agrawal said. "Many observers have suggested that granting substantial autonomy and land rights to indigenous people over vast tracts of land in the Amazon will lead to high levels of deforestation because indigenous groups would want to take advantage of the resources at their disposal.

"This study shows that — based on current evidence — such fears are misplaced," he said.

Preventing deforestation of rainforests is a goal for conserving biodiversity and, more recently, for reducing carbon emissions in the Brazilian Amazon, which covers an area of nearly 2 million square miles.

After making international headlines for historically high Amazon deforestation rates between 2000 and 2005, Brazil achieved radical reduction in deforestation rates in the second half of the past decade. Although part of those reductions were attributed to price declines of agricultural commodities, recent analyses also show that regulatory government policies — including a drastic increase in enforcement activities and the expansion and strengthening of protected-area networks — all contributed significantly to the observed reductions.

In their study, the researchers and their colleagues used new remote-sensing-based datasets from 292 protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon, along with a sophisticated statistical analysis, to assess the effectiveness. They looked at three categories of protected areas: strictly protected areas, sustainable use areas and indigenous lands.

Strictly protected areas — state and national biological stations, biological reserves, and national and state parks — consistently avoided more deforestation than sustainable-use areas, regardless of the level of deforestation pressure. Sustainable-use areas allow for controlled resource extraction, land use change and, in many instances, human settlements.

"Earlier analyses suggested that strict protection, because it allows no resource use, is so controversial that it is less likely to be implemented where deforestation pressures are high — close to cities or areas of high agricultural value, for example," Nolte said.

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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
Seventh Newspage

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 50
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YouTube is putting on the glitz

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

YouTube is no longer the Web site that only shows home videos of babies and pets.  It has opened high-tech production studios in London, New York, Los Angeles and most recently, Tokyo.  The aim is to improve the quality of what is on YouTube at a time when the Internet is becoming the main source of entertainment for the younger generation in some parts of the world.

It is an intense day of filming on the set of "Video Game High School," a show with a worldwide audience.  But the show will not appear on television.  Every episode is on the Internet.   Jimmy Wong is one of the actors in the show. “This is a feature length web series that has the production budget of something much larger scale and something on par quality wise with what you would see on television,” he said.

Wong's brother, Freddie, is the show's director.  Jimmy Wong says fans donated more than $800,000 through the Internet in $5- to $15-dollar increments to make the second season of Freddie’s show a reality. “He has over 3 million subscribers on YouTube, so that’s definitely a huge fan base to pull from and a lot of those fans are age 13 to 17," he noted. "On the younger side of things.”

The younger generation, people 35 and under, are now going to the Internet, especially to YouTube to get their entertainment, says Malik Ducard, director of content partnerships at YouTube Google. “That core demographic uses YouTube often as their first window or a window they’re watching while they’re watching television,” Ducard explained.

Jimmy Wong says more and more people are getting their entertainment from their smart phones and computers.  “The newer generation doesn’t want to wait around.  It’s just something programmed into us now that if you want to see something, figure out what it is.  Google it or YouTube it,” Wong stated.

YouTube is trying to give the Internet generation more professional looking content with four production studios worldwide.  The 40,000-square meter space in Los Angeles, filled with high-tech lighting and cameras, is the largest.  Liam Collins heads YouTube Space LA.  “We want more viewers tuning in, and we believe that higher quality, more ambitious content will serve that goal,” according to Collins.

Through a selection process, content creators can use the space for free.  "Video Game High School" is not the only show filmed here.  Originally from Russia, Olga Kay juggled in the circus until she discovered YouTube.  Now, she’s a successful YouTuber who has moved out of filming in her home to shooting comedies at YouTube’s studio. “I think in the next five years we’re going to see a lot of merging," she said. "A lot of Hollywood stars are transitioning to YouTube.”

Movie and television studios are also using the Internet and YouTube to promote their shows and even original web content.  YouTube fans like Danelle Assanelli say unlike TV,  they can comment on shows online and even give the creator input. “You can actually interact with these people.  It’s more personal to us,” she added.

YouTube Google’s Malik Ducard says the Internet provides opportunities for established Hollywood studios as well as new players to reach a global audience and succeed.

The Lancet photo
This is a male Egyptian scribe aged 40–50 years, who lived during the New Kingdom (1570–1293 BCE) and was found near modern day Luxor. The scribe had carotid artery disease.

Clogged arteries plagued even ancients

By the American College of Cardiology

The leading cause of death in the developed world also afflicted early ancestors, indicating there's more to it than modern lifestyles.

Like nearly 4.6 million Americans, ancient hunter-gatherers also suffered from clogged arteries, revealing that the plaque build-up causing blood clots, heart attacks and strokes is not just a result of fatty diets or couch potato habits, according to new research in the journal The Lancet.

The researchers performed CT scans of 137 mummies from across four continents and found artery plaque in every single population studied, from preagricultual hunter-gatherers in the Aleutian Islands to the ancient Puebloans of southwestern United States.

Their findings provide an important twist to the understanding of atherosclerotic vascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the developed world: while modern lifestyles can accelerate the development of plaque on arteries, the prevalence of the disease across human history shows it may have a more basic connection to inflammation and aging.

"This is not a disease only of modern circumstance but a basic feature of human aging in all populations," said Caleb Finch, a senior author of the study. " Turns out even a Bronze Age guy from 5,000 years ago had calcified, carotid arteries," Finch said, referring to Otzi the Iceman, a natural mummy who lived around 3200 BCE and was discovered frozen in a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991. Finch is a professor at the University of South California.

With Gregory Thomas of Long Beach Memorial, Finch was part of a team that previously showed Egyptian mummies had calcified patches on their arteries indicative of advanced atherosclerosis.

But ancient Egyptians tended to mummify only royalty or those who had privileged lives. The new study led by Thomas and Randall Thompson of Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute examined mummies from four drastically different climates and diets – and from cultures that mummified regular people, including ancient Peruvians, ancestral Puebloans, the Unangans of the Aleutian Islands and ancient Egyptians.

"Our research shows that we are all at risk for atherosclerosis, the disease that causes heart attacks and strokes – all races, diets and lifestyles," said Thomas, medical director of the Memorial Care Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial. "Because of this we all need to be cautious of our diet, weight and exercise to minimize its impact. The data gathered about individuals from the pre-historic cultures of ancient Peru and the Native Americans living along the Colorado River and the Unangan of the Aleutian Islands is forcing us to think outside the box and look for other factors that may cause heart disease."

Overall, the researchers found probable or definite atherosclerosis in 34 percent of the mummies studied, with calcification of arteries more pronounced in the mummies that were older at time of death. Artherosclerosis was equally common in mummies identified as male or female.

"We found that heart disease is a serial killer that has been stalking mankind for thousands of years," Thompson said. "In the last century, atherosclerotic vascular disease has replaced infectious disease as the leading cause of death across the developed world. A common assumption is that the rise in levels of atherosclerosis is predominantly lifestyle-related, and that if modern humans could emulate pre-industrial or even pre-agricultural lifestyles, that atherosclerosis, or at least its clinical manifestations, would be avoided. Our findings seem to cast doubt on that assumption, and at the very least, we think they suggest that our understanding of the causes of atherosclerosis is incomplete, and that it might be somehow inherent to the process of human aging."

The international team of researchers will next seek to biopsy ancient mummies to get a better understanding of the role chronic infection, inflammation and genetics in promoting the prevalence of atherosclerosis.

"Atherosclerosis starts very early in life. In the United States, most kids have little bumps on their arteries. Even stillbirths have little tiny nests of inflammatory cells. But environmental factors can accelerate this process," Finch said, pointing to studies that show larger plaques in children exposed to household tobacco smoking or who are obese.

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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