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Published Monday, March 28, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 60
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Bribery claims, threats are part of arbitration case
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Starting in December, if the case advances, an arbitration panel will consider, among other allegations, if the country is responsible if officials rebuffed in bribery attempts take revenge against a developer.

This is one of the many allegations brought by U.S. investors who seek more than $100 million for Costa Rica’s failure to protect investors, as required by the free trade treaty with the United States.

This is the case of  Condominio Horizontal Residencial Las Olas in Esterillos Oeste in the Municipalidad de Parrita. A three-person arbitration panel already has been formed through the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

One of the principals in the Las Olas investment group is David R. Aven, who alleged in an arbitration filing that the government shut down the project in 2011 over claims that part of the property was a protected wetland.

Costa Rica has not yet replied to all the allegations, but the country’s lawyers in an initial filing said that the rationale behind the decision to suspend the project was based on environmental protection and not the developer’s nationality.

The Las Olas most recent filing, some 174 pages, suggests that nationality is a concern by some. It cites a series of email threats that have been entered into evidence. One said in part:

“Stop all your bizness in Costa Rica or no more luck for you and your friends. Get the message Gringo!”

Then there was the motorcycle assailants who put five shots into a car containing Aven and another investor, according to the filing.

That’s why he no longer is in Costa Rica.

Aven has been described as a hard-driving U.S. businessman who tries to cut through the Costa Rica red tape. The record shows that his project, condos, a hotel and a beach club, were fully approved before the municipality issued the stop-work order.

And while the project has been in limbo, squatters have moved onto the prime beach land, and there have only been sporadic efforts to dislodge them. The project’s local associate, Jovan Damjanac, estimates their number at about 40.

Basically, Aven says that environmental inspections of the property failed to locate any wetlands, but then other government agencies claimed the wetlands exits. The filing blames neighbors for opposing the project.

A.M. Costa Rica graphic
The investment became a swamp.

Wetlands or not, the case certainly is a swamp of allegations, contradictions and bad luck. The full filings are available HERE!

Aven and Damjanac have been accused of environmental crimes.  The filing maintained that their defense case was overwhelming, and that only an ailing judge prevented a decision and propelled the case into a new trial.  That is when Aven left Costa Rica.

For a time he was the subject of an Interpol red notice.

The arbitration filling presents a strong case, but Costa Rica, in a response probably will maintain as it has in the past that Aven broke the law involving wetlands.  Damjanac is accused of cutting down trees.

Aven’s allegations of bribe attempts by members of the municipality and a local environmental worker appear to have not generated a vigorous investigation.

For example, the filing said that a prosecutor closed one bribe case without informing Aven.

The filing also said:

“Notes on the file claimed that the prosecutor had repeatedly tried to contact Mr Aven. The prosecutor claimed to have asked Mr. Aven on November 4, 2011, to attend his office for an interview. Mr. Aven never received such a request. The file also noted that the prosecutor had requested evidence from Mr. Aven and that Mr. Aven had said he was not interested in pursuing the matter. As Mr. Aven states in his witness statement, this is simply not true. A third note on the file claimed that the prosecutor had attempted to place a call to Mr. Aven. Mr. Aven never received such call, nor was his attorney contacted by the prosecutor’s office.”

The filing also says that there have been no results of an investigation on who fired on Aven’s car.

Regardless of the outcome of the arbitration, the Las Olas case is not good public relations for Costa Rica.

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Coffee and cacao flavors driven by yeasts

By the Cell Press news staff

Humans have put yeast to work for thousands of years to make bread, beer, and wine. Wild strains of yeast are also found in the natural fermentations that are essential for chocolate and coffee production. But, as new genetic evidence reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology shows, the yeasts associated with coffee and cacao beans have had a rather unique history.

In comparison to the yeasts found in vineyards around the world, the new work shows that those associated with coffee and cacao beans show much greater diversity. The findings suggest that those differences may play an important role in the characteristics of chocolate and coffee from different parts of the world.

"Our study suggests a complex interplay between human activity and microbes involved in the production of coffee and chocolate," says Aimée Dudley of the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute in Seattle. "Humans have transported and cultivated the plants, but at least for one important species, their associated microbes have arisen from transport and mingling in events that are independent of the transport of the plants themselves."

Coffee and cacao trees originally grew in Ethiopia and the Amazon rainforest. They are now widely cultivated across the bean belt that surrounds the equator. After they are picked, both cacao and coffee beans are fermented for a period of days to break down the surrounding pulp. This microbe-driven process also has an important influence on the character and flavor of the beans.

Ms. Dudley and her colleagues wanted to know where the yeasts in these human-associated fermentations came from. Had coffee- or cacao-specific yeast strains been unknowingly transported along with the plants? Or, do particular regions of the world harbor novel yeast populations?

To find out, the researchers bought unroasted coffee and cacao beans grown in Central and South America, Africa, Indonesia, or the Middle East and isolated the associated yeast in their Seattle laboratory. Genetic analysis of those yeast strains revealed that yeasts from coffee and cacao beans were substantially more diverse than the wine yeasts.

Interestingly, the genetic signatures of the yeast strains strongly clustered according to the geographic origin of the beans. In fact, Ms. Dudley says, this association was so strong that they were able to accurately determine the origin of the beans solely from the DNA sequences of their associated yeasts.

The findings show that the yeast strains associated with coffee and cacao have multiple, independent origins. In other words, not all coffee strains are related nor are all cacao strains. What's more, the yeast strains associated with coffee or cacao in specific places appear to be hybrids that resulted from the mixing of strains from different parts of the world. In fact, one of those strains is closely related to the yeast used to make wine.

"The ancient and continuing global traffic in yeasts associated with wine fermentation may have set the stage for subsequent mingling and admixture events that gave rise to the yeasts that are now associated with the production of coffee and chocolate," Ms. Dudley says.

The researchers say the findings could lead to improvements in chocolate and coffee. Studies of wine production have shown that the yeasts associated with fermentation significantly influence the properties of the wine, including its flavor and aroma.

"Given that the yeast strains associated with coffee and cacao fermentations are substantially more genetically diverse than the wine strains, they could play an even larger role in the properties of coffee and cacao produced in different regions of the globe," Ms. Dudley says.

Entrepreneurial TV nun dies at 92

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

Mother Mary Angelica, a Roman Catholic nun who transformed a television studio in a monastery garage into a global media empire, died Easter Sunday.  She was 92.

Born in the small northern U.S. city of Canton, Ohio, she was known to the world as Mother Angelica, the founder of the Eternal Word Television Network.

Old episodes of her television show "Mother Angelica Live" continue to run and have remained a programming staple on EWTN, which she founded in 1981.

With only $200 in the bank, she began broadcasting her show out of that rural Alabama garage in the southern U.S.

EWTN grew from those humble beginnings into the world's largest religious media network with 24-hour-a-day programming to more than 264 million homes in 144 countries.  Its publishing operations include the National Catholic Register newspaper and the Catholic News Agency.  Its radio operations include shortwave broadcasts, satellite and Internet radio channels, and more than 300 U.S. Catholic radio affiliates.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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Semana Santa is over, but another holiday is coming in two weeks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Government workers and others should be back on the job today after the Semana Santa break, and they can look forward to another three-day weekend in two weeks.

April 11 is El Día de Juan Santamaría, celebrating the heroism of the young Alajuela resident at the Second Battle of Rivas.

Santamaría is credited with torching a stronghold held by troops loyal to William Walker in the Nicaraguan town and turning the tide of battle. He was cut down as he ignited the structure.

That was April 11, 1856, and each year on that day Costa Ricans celebrate their patriotism. There is a parade in Alajuela, and the day is a legal holiday.

The full statistics on Semana Santa are not yet available, although it appears that some 35 people lost their lives in a violent way.  A high percentage died from gunfire.

The most talked-about case is that of an Escazú resident with the last name of  Leiva. He got into a discussion with a taxi driver in Playas del Coco Saturday morning.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that a mob of some 20 persons descended on the 21 year old and his friends shortly

after they left a drinking spot. The friends were able to escape, but Leiva suffered a beating and sustained a knife wound to the chest.

Investigators said that the pirate taxi driver bumped one of his passengers with his vehicle when they were leaving and that Leiva dented the vehicle.

The mob contained other pirate taxi drivers, said police.

Later Saturday was the time for the traditional quemas de Judas. That is when young men and some women ignite barricades on streets and highways. The Fuerza Pública said that 20 persons were detained, mostly in Heredia and Desamparados.

The Cuerpo de Bomberos said they responded to 21 incidents between 10:48 p.m. Saturday and 3:25 a.m. Sunday. One call was to the burning of an abandoned vehicle, said fire fighters.

Although there were nearly twice as many calls this year as last, no individual was injured and no structure was ignited, they added.

The fire agency said that 13 calls were in Heredia, but there also were three in Puntarenas and two in Alajuela. Fire fighters get the call when the burning trash and garbage is too much for police to handle.

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Influx of dust from Africa predicted to decrease over next 100 years
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Plenty of the dust that affects Costa Ricans has come a long way. Africa contributes massive quantities of dust to the Caribbean and Costa Rica.

A study at the University of Miami, Florida, verified this and says that the Caribbean Basin receives enormous quantities of African dust every year. In addition to its impact on air quality, an important factor for the Caribbean basin is the potential effect of Saharan air outbreaks on hurricane activity, the study said.

The emission and transport of this dust, which can reach the poles, fluctuate considerably. Although many hypotheses have been put forward to explain this phenomenon, no unambiguous relationship between this dust and the climate had been established until now, according to the Centre National de la Recherche Météorologique.

A U.S. and French team reported last week that meteorological events such as El Niño and rainfall in the Sahel have an impact on dust emission, by accelerating Saharan wind downstream of the main mountain massifs of Northwest Africa. The scientists have also developed a new predictive model showing that emissions of Saharan dust will decline over the next hundred years, said the Centre.

Emission and dispersion of the dust is affected by a number of meteorological phenomena, such as El Niño, the North Atlantic Oscillation, rainfall in the Sahel, the Sahara Heat Low, and the Intertropical Convergence Zone, the Centre’s summary of the research says, adding:

The researchers carried out a statistical analysis of
International Space Station photo
A dust storm stretches several hundred kilometers across the Sahara in Libya. Isolated cumulonimbus clouds are developing within the dust layer.

reconstructed 20th century data of winds and dust deposits
in the coral reefs of Cape Verde. The wind data were used to estimate fluctuations in dust emissions since the 1850s.

The results obtained reproduce several well-known events, showing that the North Atlantic Oscillation caused important dust emissions in the years 1910-1940, as did the Sahel drought of the 1980s.

Since this method successfully reproduced past events, it was then applied to future climate projections with the aim of establishing trends until the end of the 21st century. The method predicts a decrease in dust generation. Although this could have beneficial effects on the health of human populations, it might also increase warming of the tropical North Atlantic, making it more suitable for hurricane formation and growth.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

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Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 28, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 60
Real Estate
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Axiom 890 pixels

After his Saturday sweep,
Sanders cites the momentum

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Fresh off his sweep of three Democratic caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Sunday declared his campaign has momentum and said he can now see a path toward victory over his rival, ex-secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We are going to win this nomination process," a confident Sanders told ABC, a day after winning by large margins over Mrs. Clinton in the western states of  Washington, Hawaii and Alaska.

Even with the victories, Sanders faces a difficult challenge in catching up to the frontrunner Mrs. Clinton.

She still leads by just under 300 pledged delegates, which are allocated according to voting results. She also has the support of most of  the so-called super delegates, who are free to support any candidate.

Many political observers have said Mrs. Clinton's lead is insurmountable, and argue Sanders should drop out and allow her to focus on the eventual Republican presidential nominee. Sanders on Sunday rejected those calls.

"I think the momentum is with us," Sanders said on CNN. "A lot of these super delegates may rethink their positions with Secretary Clinton."

Sanders has won five of the last six states, all located in the western part of the country. Mrs. Clinton dominated the southern states earlier in the nominating contest calendar.

Democrats compete next on April 5 in Wisconsin and again April 9 in the sparsely populated state of Wyoming.  Mrs. Clinton is focusing on April 19 when voters in New York, the state she once represented as a senator, decide how to allocate their 291 delegates.

Meanwhile, the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has outlined his foreign policy views in an extended interview with The New York Times.  During a pair of telephone conversations totaling 100 minutes, he gave a fuller picture of what policies and initiatives he would pursue abroad if elected.

Trump says he would threaten to stop buying oil from Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies unless they commit ground troops to the fight against Islamic State or substantially reimburse Washington for fighting the militant group.  He would also consider re-negotiating many fundamental treaties with U.S. allies, including the security pact with Japan, to make terms more favorable to the United States.

He said this could include allowing Japan and South Korea to build their own nuclear arsenals, asking countries to better compensate Washington for security agreements backed by U.S. armed forces and creating an alternative to NATO focused on counterterrorism.  He also said he would consider using trade to push back on China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Trump did not rule out spying on American allies, and he criticized the Iran nuclear deal, saying it was particularly wrong-headed because it freed up some $150 billion in Iranian funds, but did nothing to repeal the sanctions that bar most U.S. companies from striking trade deals with Tehran.

Guns at convention petition
challenges GOP candidates

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The three remaining Republican U.S. presidential candidates have each advocated allowing people to openly carry firearms, and an online petition is challenging them to stand behind those policies and call for firearms to be allowed at the party's nominating convention in July.

Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena is hosting the convention but has a policy banning any weapons from the facility.  It is allowed to do so under law in the state of Ohio, where people can otherwise openly carry guns.

Both Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and businessman Donald Trump have criticized so-called gun-free zones, especially schools, saying those policies make the sites less safe.

Trump said in December he would abolish gun-free zones on his first day in office, while Cruz told supporters in December the zones only create places where an attacker knows people will be unarmed.  Ohio Gov. John Kasich last year eliminated gun-free zones at the state's National Guard facilities.

More than 30,000 people have signed the petition that says the candidates should call on the Cleveland arena to suspend its no-gun policy, for the National Rifle Association to condemn it, and for Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus to be ready to relocate the entire convention if guns are not allowed.

The petition was created by the shadowy username "N A" and satirizes language used by gun rights supporters and Republicans.

"By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside the convention site," it says.

The petition cites the threat of an Islamic State attack, saying that without guns, those inside the arena will be "utterly helpless against evil-doers."  It also references President Barack Obama with derogatory emphasis on his middle name, Hussein, in bold letters mimicking the language of those who have been unhappy with his two terms as president.

Many of those sharing the petition on Twitter are clearly not interested in the issue for reasons of defending Second Amendment rights to firearms, but rather to challenge the Republican Party on its longtime adherence to the issue.

No matter how many signatures it gets, or whatever real support the call for open carry at the convention may get from legitimate gun rights supporters, there is little chance of seeing holsters as the go-to accessory at the convention.

Cleveland television station WEWS asked the U.S. Secret Service, which is in charge of security at both party's convention sites, and the answer was the same as in 2012 when guns were banned at the Republican convention.  The station said the Secret Service cited U.S. law allowing it to "preclude firearms from entering sites visited by our protectees."

Half million fans estimated
at Rolling Stones concert

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Just like in their song “Time Is on My Side,” the Rolling Stones have apparently lived long enough to see Cuba change its stance on the legendary group's music. 

The Communist island once banned the music of the Rolling Stones because it was considered subversive, but on Friday night the band gave a historic, free concert in Havana before possibly a half million jubilant fans.  Those who could not get in watched the concert from rooftops overlooking the venue.

Mick Jagger strutted on stage as the band launched into its first song of the night.  “Jumpin' Jack Flash.”

"After today I can die," said night watchman Joaquin Ortiz.  The 62-year-old said he has been a huge rock fan since he was a teenager in the 1960s, when Cuba's Communist government frowned on U.S. and British bands and he had to hide his Beatles and Stones albums in covers borrowed from albums of appropriately revolutionary Cuban groups. "This is  like my last wish, seeing the Rolling Stones."

Cuban state media estimated an audience of as many as 500,000 people, making the Stones the biggest act to play in Cuba since the country's 1959 revolution.

Some Cubans slept overnight to be first in line to enter the stadium.

The Stones arrived in Havana Thursday, just two days after U.S. President Barack Obama ended his historic visit to Cuba, aimed at moving past more than five decades of hostility between the United States and Cuba.

Jagger told reporters as he arrived at the airport "obviously something has happened in the last few years." He said "time changes everything. We are very pleased to be here and I'm sure it's going to be a great show."

"We have performed in many special places during our long career, but this show in Havana will be a milestone for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba, too," the band said in a statement before their arrival.

Jerusalem takes center stage
for 2016 Easter celebrations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Easter dawned in Jerusalem with a sunrise service at the Garden Tomb, a holy site said to resemble the burial place of Jesus according to biblical accounts. Pilgrims from around the world sang hymns of the resurrection facing an empty tomb carved into a rock.

A few hours later, Easter Mass was celebrated at the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Priests chanted the Easter liturgy as a fragrant cloud of incense engulfed the ancient stone tomb where tradition says Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion.

“It’s awesome,” said American Coleen Schulte. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and the Bible comes alive for you. I mean you read it in the United States, you go to church, but now you actually know what it was like and can see it.”

It was a sparse turnout this Holy Week in the wake of six months of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Jerusalem has been the focal point of unrest, and armed Israeli police and soldiers carrying assault rifles patrolled the streets.

But Peggy Howe, who is from the U.S. state of Kansas, was not afraid to come.

“Have you looked at the rest of the world?” she asked. “You look at the news back home and maybe you don’t see the presence of police as much as you see here. But you have the same issues all around the world.”

She said that with terrorist attacks hitting Brussels, Paris and the United States, Israel is as safe as anywhere else.

The Easter holiday, celebrated by Christians around the world, is the holiest day of the Christian calendar. Christians believe Jesus to be the son of God and that he was resurrected from the dead in order to grant eternal life and forgiveness of worldly sins to his followers.

In Rome, Pope Francis challenged the world on Easter Sunday to use "weapons of love" against the evil of "blind and brutal violence," following the attacks in Brussels last week.

The leader of the world's Roman Catholics, presided over an Easter Mass under tight security in Saint Peter's Square.

Afterwards, he delivered his twice-yearly Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message in which he said "May He draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism … which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world."

Francis also spoke out against the rejection that so many migrants and refugees are feeling in Europe, which is experiencing its biggest migration crisis since World War II.  "All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance," the pope said.

The pope denounced terrorist acts in a Good Friday observation, saying they are "committed by followers of some religions which profane the name of God and which use the holy name to justify their unprecedented violence."

The pope's chief alms-giver was on the streets of Rome Friday night giving out sleeping bags to the homeless to show papal support for the city's least fortunate.

Voice of America graphic  
  A DNA double helix is seen in an undated artist's 

Gene editing technique  cuts
AIDS DNA from sufferers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

For the first time since the start of the AIDS epidemic, it appears scientists are on the verge of a cure.

Antiretroviral drugs do such a good job of suppressing the AIDS virus and keeping it from reproducing that levels of HIV are virtually undetectable in infected individuals.

But the memory of the virus always remains in human T-lymphocytes, immune system cells that are the target of the virus. These reservoirs can spring to life and begin churning out the AIDS pathogen the moment antiretroviral drugs are stopped.

Now, researchers appear to have found a way to eliminate the viral reservoirs from cells altogether, so they can never reproduce.

Scientists have engineered a gene-editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9 to cut out the viral DNA, effectively curing the disease.

"The excision molecules that we have developed inactivate a large population of … the cells containing the virus and then it's basically dropped — the virus replication — almost 90 percent in … patients or even infected cells in the lab," said Kamel Khalili, lead researcher and chair at the Department of Neuroscience at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Khalili and his colleagues have not actually cured any patients, but they have scrubbed infected human T-cells in the laboratory of any trace of HIV.

The work was described in the journal Scientific Reports.

Khalili believes the gene-editing technology has the potential to cure AIDS.

"It's an exciting time and the reason is the technologies are available and the methods are in place and our knowledge has increased and hopefully there will be funding to take us toward this exciting moment toward the cure of the disease," he said.

Khalili predicts human clinical trials could get underway in two to three years.

Voice of American photo 
Lincoln Motor Co.’s concept car, the Navigator

SUVs are in spotlight again
at New York auto show

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Whether classic or futuristic, the cars at the New York International Auto Show are nothing if not flashy. As automakers unveiled the latest models to get consumers revved up, the theme this year seemed to be “Go big or go home,” but more specifically, go with an SUV.

Automakers across the board offered new SUVs and crossovers, reinforcing the sector’s popularity among consumers. Technological developments have increased the fuel efficiency of these vehicles, abolishing the image of SUVs as gas guzzlers.

The Lincoln Motor Co. nearly stole the show with its large SUV concept car, the Navigator. American actor and company spokesperson Matthew McConaughey even made an in-person appearance alongside Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra, who described the current market for SUVs as red hot.

“The segment of large premium SUVs is very strong, it’s about 170,000 units here and globally it’s much bigger. The markets that are important to us are North America and China and the Middle East. So we paid a lot of attention to those customers and their needs,” said Galhotra. “These are customers who need a lot of space to move their friends and family and cargo. And this is a customer that also needs a lot of capability.”

As a concept car, it’s not likely the Navigator, with its grand gullwing doors and concertina steps, will make it to the local dealership. The vehicle’s luxury sensibility, however, eventually will trickle down to production models. Lincoln executives hope the stylish elements will differentiate the brand in the increasingly popular SUV segment.

“Consumers like to ride in SUVs, they like the little extra bit of height that they get, they like that that package feels more utilitarian,” said automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley.

“That interest has been there and what we’re seeing is automakers are meeting that demand,” Ms. Brinley added.

One of those automakers is Cadillac, which showcased the hard-to-miss XT5. With its bold style, the XT5 is for drivers who want to stand out.

“There are people who want a distinctive car, something that is a face in the crowd, that stands out more,” said Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghause. “This remains one of our major differentiators.”

But looks aside, will SUVs still be costly at the gas pump? No, as it turns out. “Due to lightweight technologies, the weight of these SUVs is no longer so different to a sedan as it was in the past,” said Ellinghause. That decrease in weight translates to better mileage in the long run.

“The delta between a sedan and a comparable SUV for fuel economy is 1 or 2 miles to the gallon, it’s not that strong. So even if gas prices do come up again, it’s still a manageable penalty,” said Ms. Brinley. That penalty becomes even more manageable when you factor in electric hybrid technology, like that of the Volvo XC90.

Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, pointed out how the company’s XC90 SUV was one of the most fuel efficient of the category.

“Volvo has elected to go for very fuel efficient four-cylinder turbo engines combined with electrification. We offer plug-in hybrid technology, which gives 53 mpg in a big car like the XC90,” said Kerssemakers.

Over at Buick, where SUVs comprise nearly 60 percent of sales, the Buick Encore is the market leader in the small SUV segment.

Rob Peterson, marketing manager of Buick crossovers, noted that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to SUVs.

“It’s tough to find parking spots when you have a larger SUV," he said. "The Encore has dimensions, which work great for parking spots.”

Peterson explained the consumer demand for SUVs. “Much of the move towards SUVS has been driven by the increased capability of SUVs, but in addition, the driving performance, which tends to be much more like a sedan. So people are getting sedan-like performance with drive position of an SUV and the functionality of an SUV as well, and I think that’s moving the industry a lot of customers to these segments.”

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The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about sCosta Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and commercial real estate.  Call us: Ocean Surf and Sun Int. Realty Ldta at 011 (506) 2653-0073 or send us an email at:

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Sierra Collection. Meridian House or Chateau Montage.
Near Parque Nacional Marino Ballena,
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The Terraces at San Martin.  Discover the essence of Costa Rica on our Luxury Ocean View Villas . Near Dominicalito Beach and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena.
For more information
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Ellan At Ballena Beach.  Welcome to a world of endless adventure on our beachside condominiums at Ballena Beach, Pacific Coast.  For more information click  HERE!
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Rich Coast
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    2.47 acre ocean view property w/ 2 houses & 2 unfinished apartments $249k!!!
    2 houses and pool furnished, great rental potential walk to the beach $327k w/ owner financing
    2-bedroom furnished condo 400 feet from Jacó beach $179,000

and lots of other great properties! Property listings in Escazú, Herradura, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate.

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Photo montage of penthouse
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Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo

* Located on 6th floor.
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* Security 24/7.
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* 2 underground
        parking,  cellar.

* 3 bedrooms.
* 2 bathrooms.
* 2 terraces.
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* Negotiable price.

* Enjoy the view,  CLICK HERE
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Negotiable price. Thirty thousand seventy square meters. The house is seven hundred fifty squared meters, built three years ago. Five bedrooms plus servant's room with bathroom. Each bedroom includes private bathroom. Master's room includes Jacuzzi and hidromassage. Two main living rooms plus visitor's parlor and hall, two furnished kitchens, all ceramic. Nineteen rooms total counting three offices, eight-car garage. Has 220-volt current with three distribution panels. First-quality water plus well, decorated stone walls, recreational area, second house eighty squared meters, hot water systems, cable, telephone, light system throughout property, river, part forest..

For health situation, the owner make a INCREDIBLE DISCOUNT!!!!

ORIGINAL PRICE: $1.800.000    OFFER PRICE: $1.200.000
 For more information click HERE!
To see more photos click HERE!  To see house video click HERE!

English language contact:
Christian Arce
Phone: (506) 2494-0016
Cell phone: (506) 8309-0173

Spanish language contact:
Luis Gustavo Jiménez
Phone: (506) 2494-0016
Cell phone: (506) 8707-4016

A beautiful American style suburban home just reduced.

A beautiful American style suburban home, 2,700 sq. ft. of living space with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, front and rear living rooms, laundry area, kitchen and small attached library nook, arched windows and doors and connected hallways, exotic wood interior ceilings and trim, tile floors thru-out. The lot is 835 m2 with mature landscape and orchid nurseries surrounding the house. There is an enclosed workshop and BBQ area in the backyard with lots of storage under roof, plus a nursery for an herb/vegetable garden. This is a very well-kept property with many upgrades, a private feel but yet only 5 minutes from the center of town. Pérez Zeledón is the commercial hub of the southern zone and considered to be one of the best places to live in all of Costa Rica, the perfect size town, not too big and not too small. The beach is 45 minutes to the west and a short drive to the cool mountains is to the east. In between, this large valley has a moderate climate. Pérez has plenty of modern goods and services, an excellent farmers market, private schools, private doctors and clinics, all you need without having to go to the crazy madness of San José. Just reduced to $199,000. Call Jeff: 8725-8176. Email:


San Rmon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
Check out slide show HERE!

Ocean View Property for Sale in San Ramón
1.5-acre lot with spectacular ocean views. Ready to build. Mild climate year round with an average temperature a cool 74 degrees. Spectacular panoramic views of
                                for sale
the ocean and port of Puntarenas during the day, breathtaking views of Esparza at night. Fully titled and owned under a Costa Rican corporation. $50,000. Short-term owner financing available. For more info: Contact: Frank

Jacó beach unique home. First time offered
This house has never been listed.  It is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home approx. 100 feet above sea level on the only hill in Jacó one mile to the beach.  Totally remodeled to a Gringo house.Has great fenced yard for dogs and a huge screened porch with  great views all around, including a small ocean view.  New in the last two years includes: new kitchen with granite counter, cedar cabinets, all new windows, tile, water system, updated electric & plumbing, superb new AC units (low electric bill), This is half of a duplex with a platted yard.  Other side is the chief of police.  Secure & private.  $169.900. Call Glenn at 506-6214-0056 or

La Uruca condo
Situated three miles west of the capital, eight miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, six restaurants,  next to two bus line stops. Car ownership is not needed. January-March air temperatures are 72 to 80 degrees F. Apartment 1,200 sq. ft (100 sq. meters), on ground floor, indoor  patio. Large windows without bars, parquet floors. Spacious living room-dining area, two bedrooms, maid's room, two bathrooms, four closets  (including walk-in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine, small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools).  Many amenities, (pictures, indoor plants, sewing machine, books, keyboard, dishes, glassware, silverware). Annual cost of maintenance about $1,350 includes water, landscaping service, garbage disposal, 24-7 security and property taxes. Price $120,000. Available for viewing:  Mid-January to beginning of April. Contact:  USA :  585 544-4296. Costa Rica : 506 2231-0410

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

Costa Rica tropical paradise beach house for sale

Tropical five-acre forested beachfront property with custom house and guest casita on the Osa Península, south Pacific Coast. Abundant wildlife, exotic plants and fruits, secluded beach.  Located 8 kms. south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $750,000. Contact Roger. Phone number  (506) 6142-7228   Email: Watch this video for full details.

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
Check out slide show HERE!

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:

puriscal photo
Costa Rica home for sale $163,500 / 2bedroom - 1,984 ft2

Central Valley view home: 10 minutes from Santiago de Puriscal and shopping, hospital services, and soon Maxi Pali. Only one hour to San José or Pacific beaches.
- On .55-acre lot with river on one boundary
- Area under roof, 1,984 sq. ft., Area inside walls, 925 sq. ft. Steel, recycled
      Styrofoam, and concrete construction.
- 2 ½ years old with central living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths,
       ceramic tile throughout.
- Central Valley volcano and SJO airport views from every room.
- Vaulted ceilings give bright open feeling.
- Entrance from concrete road to large graveled parking area
- VERY energy efficient with VERY low property taxes.
- Covered attached carport with entrance to front door or laundry-guest bath
- 2 carport storage bodegas.
- 12 foot x 14 foot storage bodega
- Security lights, And Amcrest day & night video recorder system.
- Producing banana trees, and mango, bread fruit, and guanabana trees

Includes: Refrigerator, gas stove & oven with electric grill element, microwave, electric washer-gas dryer stacked style, gas on demand whole house water heater. Other furnishings are negotiable. ICE electric service and land line phone. Bajo Burgos Water district. Metro-wireless WiFi is available. Tigo Star Satellite T.V. House is in a Costa Rican corporation, will transfer shares. Contract or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 28, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 60
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Orosi valley provokes a little jealousy

I had been to Cartago in the Orosi valley before, but not like this. This time I was the invited guest of some very lovely Facebook friends (hi, Nancy, Steve, Mike, Lopita, Roy, Charlie and Michele) so that I could get
Victoria Torley
 a real feel of the valley and its gardens.

My first visit was to Lankester Botanical Garden just outside Cartago about 35 kilometers from San Jose. But don’t let 35 kilometers fool you. Metric Man hates to drive in traffic. There was 
traffic. It took 90 minutes to drive
those kilometers, some of it white-knuckled, but, on the drive back after several hours in the gardens, Metric Man admitted that it was worth every minute. Wow. For him, that was an amazing admission.

But I had left Metric Man far behind. He was not exactly enthusiastic about a five-day trip with “nothing to do” except look at gardens and talk to gardeners, and I was not exactly enthusiastic about listening to him complain about “nothing to do” for five days.

Nancy and Steve were marvelous hosts. Although they are orchid fanciers, almost nothing was in bloom! Instead I spent a wonderful time wandering through their 4.5 hectares seeing their other plantings, especially the heliconia. This was a real treat for me, as I have some heliconia and know little about them. Nancy, though, knows them all by name and gave me some excellent tips on cultivation. As soon as I got home, I started cleaning them out by removing dead leaves and cleaning up the centers a bit. I was a bit more careful than Nancy though, because she doesn’t have a lot of snakes up there in Orosi while we find them weekly.

Nancy also acted as tour guide to other homes and gardens around the area. There was wonderful weather for touring as Orosi gets a lot less rain than we get up near the lake – meters less – and less humidity. Yet everything was lush and rich and there were streams everywhere. I was jealous. Yup, jealous. Perfect weather for sleeping, perfect weather for gardening, bright blue skies, no watching out for snakes . . . people should tour Orosi before they decide where to buy a home.

But enough of that. Nancy has set her plantings close to her paths so that you feel as if you are wandering through a jungle setting. The paths meander downhill and over dry streams that she promised were running streams when the rains came. But there were no rains for me, just beautiful settings, wandering paths, and a gracious hostess.

I need to go back.

Orosi ffower
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

Plant of the Week
The Aechmea Blue Rain bromeliad is an electrifying blue on red stems.  Most bromeliads are found in wet or cloud forests but the Aechmea is unusual in its habitat and is found in drier areas like the Orosi Valley. Plant your bromeliads in the shade, on low tree branches or on logs. Be careful when enjoying them, because some bromeliads have a symbiotic relationship with biting ants while others harbor scorpions and spiders.

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit Arenal-Gardeners/413220712106845.
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From Page 7:

Consumers help boost U.S. fourth quarter

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. economic growth was slower in the last three months of 2015, but did not slow as sharply as previous estimates had predicted.

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, expanded at a 1.4 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, instead of the previous estimate of 1.0 percent, according to the Commerce Department's third and final estimate released Friday.

Consumer spending grew 2.4 percent instead of the previous estimate of 2 percent. The stronger consumer spending helps ease fears of a U.S. recession, which along with plunging oil prices and the slowdown in China triggered volatility and stock market sell-offs earlier this year.

Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Housing also added to U.S. growth, in part because of low mortgage rates.

Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services, is forecasting GDP growth of 2.1 percent for all of 2016 with job growth of around 170,000 each month. That's above the pace needed to keep up with normal population growth.

Economist Chris Ripkey at MUFG Union Bank in New York says the consumer is back in the driver’s seat.

"There is no sign of a recession in these data," said Ripkey, who believes the latest GDP estimate means the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy of gradual interest rate normalization will continue.