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(506) 223-1327        Published Monday, April 17, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 75          E-mail us    
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For $66,000 investors can compete with Starbucks
Like Phoenix, coffee company rises from ashes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Telephone salesmen here who got shut down by the U.S. government have gone back into business seeking investors in the United States under another name.

But all is not well. Their Colorado mailing agent got customer complaints and canceled the contract and then filed a police report when the company continued to use the address in written material and on the Internet, a mail center employee said Friday.

The company is now known as Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee. Although it's Web page was created Feb. 14, according to Internet registry information, the firm says on the page: "We are an established and proven company owned and managed by a team with over 15 years experience in the industry and are here to support and guide you through your own independent business operation."

The new Web pages are hosted in the United Kingdom by Freedom To Surf. This keeps the Internet pages out of the reach of the U.S. courts.

When the company was known as USA Beverages, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission successfully petitioned a federal court to freeze the company assets and appoint a receiver, who shut down the toll-free and U.S. phone lines used to market the scheme. Then federal lawyers claimed that the operation used voice-over-Internet protocol services, shell corporations, aliases, and shills to con U.S. consumers into investing in a bogus business opportunity. The firm was selling a coffee rack business opportunity using a product under the brand name of Cafe Del Rey.

The FTC said the firm salespeople used Voice-over-Internet calling to give the impression that they were located in New Mexico instead of Escazú. Now the company is believed located in the Ofice Centro la Sabana selling much the same deal to those who call in response to classified ads placed in U.S. newspapers.

The company is highly mobile because the coffee it sells is roasted, packaged and shipped by Colonial Coffee Roasters, Inc., a well-known firm in Miami, according to a former employee.

Current customers got the impression the firm was located in Fort Collins, Colorado, because the firm used a company there, Executive Center, as a mail drop and a telephone message center.

The firm registered its Web site as Twin Peaks Gourmet, 123 N. College Ave, Fort Collins, Colorado 80524, the address of the Executive Center.

Karen Mathewson, executive assistant at the Executive Center in Fort Collins, said her company canceled the mail-handling agreement but that Twin Peaks is still using the address and telephone number.  She said

Promotional photo suggests that investors can set up coffee racks in the local supermarket.

her company has filed a police report over the continued use of the address.

She said her firm has received calls from unhappy customers, including people who say they have invested and believe they lost $10,000 to $20,000. A Twin Peaks ex-employee said one investor said he lost $66,000.

The company says that it will set up a would-be customer in the route-sales coffee business for investments that can be as much as $66,000. Customers get tubular stands on which to display bags of coffee.

The idea appeals to semi-retired and retired, particularly those with little business knowledge and the most vulnerable. In fact, the Twin Peaks Web page addresses this market:

"With corporate America downsizing and the stability of Social Security questionable, pension plans are no longer the most secure investment in one's future. The only security you have today is the security you acquire for yourself."

Although a photo on the company Web page shows a Twin Peaks rack installed in the fresh produce section of a supermarket, the Web page does not explain why a supermarket would allow this when it has its own coffee section. The rack appears to be inserted on the photo via a graphic manipulation program. The company sales pitch suggested that investors will be established and profitable routes.

When the FTC went to court, its filing identified the principals of USA Beverage as Dilraj Mathauda who used the alias Dan Reynolds, Sirtaj Mathauda, Jeff Pearson who used the alias Tau1 Clayton, David Mead, president of USA Beverages, and Silvio Carrano, treasurer. A former employee confirmed that Pearson is associated with this new venture. All the principals are believed residents here.

Twin Peaks is just one of many telemarketing companies located in Costa Rica that sell to U.S. markets. Many are scams, including the company that was selling mythical computers at a discount price. The companies take advantage of the reluctance of Costa Rican officials to investigate possible crimes that do not involve Costa Ricans as victims and they hide behind international borders.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 17, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 75


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A.M. Costa Rica photo
Efigy of the crucified Christ is the centerpiece of a funeral procession Friday at the Catedral Metropolitana.

Plenty still were here
for religious services

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The beach may be an attraction, but many Central Valley residents opted to remain at home during Semana Santa and to participate in religious devotions.

Nearly 350 persons showed up for a Community Easter Sunrise Service sponsored by Escazú Christian Fellowship and International Baptist Church, according to Pastor Kenneth D. MacHarg of Escazú Christian.

Religious processions Thursday and Friday involved every Catholic parish. At the Catedral Metropolitana, Archbishop Hugo Barrentes led parishioners in the traditional funeral procession for Christ at sundown Friday. The procession walked to a dirge beat out on drums and punctuated with tubas. nearly 1,000 persons witnessed the start and some 500 walked.

Easter Masses also attracted many while the cathedral reported that priests were delivering absolution from sins at a rate of 1,000 a day in the period leading up to Easter.


A.M. Costa Rica photo
Women carry the towering figure of the Weeping Mary, mother of Jesus in procession Friday.

Police pleased with events
on traditional Judas night


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers say they have survived another Judas night without serious incidents even though 40 persons were detained.

Judas night or in Spanish Quema de Judas is always the night of the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. A straw man representing the Apostle Judas is burned amid celebration and horseplay. Judas, of course, was the apostle who betrayed Jesus Christ, according to Christian tradition.

Such burnings take place in many locations, but Heredia is strong on the tradition with burnings being celebrated in San Rafael, San Joaquin, Mercedes Sur and Heredia centro, according to the Fuerza Pública.

Some vandals use the night as a time to close off streets with burning tires and to throw stones and drink alcohol in public, officers said.

All the police personnel in Heredia were working from 7 p.m. Saturday night, and they were joined by advanced students from the Escuela Nacional de Policía.

At no time did the festivities get out of control, the police reported Sunday. Of the 40 held, two were juveniles, police said.

Holidays grind to finish
with traffic jam likely


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The highways will be crowded today as vacationers return to their Central Valley homes.

The Policia de Tránsito is on high alert. However, this year the homeward rush is spread out over two days, Sunday and today, Monday, which is officially Juan Santamaría day, a legal holiday.

Traffic deaths for the holidays already have reached 10 with the holiday period still to run through today. Water deaths are at least a half dozen.

Motorists should expect traffic jams on all highways that lead from beach resorts and every major route in the metropolitan area.
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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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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 17, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 75





 

'He who laughs last' has wider application in Spanish
El que ríe de último ríe mejor

“He who laughs last laughs best.” Of course this expression also exists in English in exactly the same way.

We in Costa Rica use this dicho to illustrate, among other things, the importance of being patient. One might employ it, for example, to encourage someone who may think they have lost a competition before it’s finished. It’s like saying, be patient and let’s see how things turn out. Or, to use another English expression oft times attributed — rightly or wrongly — to Yogi Berra; “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.”

I heard this dicho a lot when I was young, and as kids we were always changing it around to try and come up with other meanings for it, such as: El que ríe de último ríe, es porque no entendió el chiste, or “he who is the last to laugh laughs because he doesn’t get the punch line.”

Recently a somewhat unconventional application of this dicho occurred to me.

This past week we took a day trip up to Rio Cuarto de Grecia where a dear friend (whom I met via this column, by the way) has a dairy farm. The trip, by way of Heredia, is beautiful, and if you have never been that way I recommend it. But, it is a winding, meandering back road, with many a sharp curve, that is best taken at a leisurely pace both for viewing the marvelous scenery and for safety’s sake. There are many stunning vistas along the way, and a spectacular waterfall that is very near to the road, where people often stop to take photos.

At the farm, we spent a lovely afternoon of interesting conversation over a delicious lunch, enjoying the companionship of good friends. On the way back through the mountains it began to rain, which required even greater care in navigating the steep, twisting and turning byway.

Suddenly, rounding a curve, we came upon a Land Rover in the middle of the road that had completely flipped over onto its top. There was no other vehicle involved, and no obvious reason for this horrendous accident other than that the driver was probably traveling far too fast and lost control of the car on the wet and slippery pavement.

The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto

 

We stopped to offer assistance, but a frightened young man who was outside the vehicle, and apparently unscathed, told us that an ambulance and rescue crew had been summoned and were on their way.

Costa Ricans are rapidly gaining a reputation for being among the world’s worst drivers. My assessment of this situation is that Ticos often seem to look upon driving a car as though it were some sort of egocentric competition.

If I can pass on a hill and narrowly miss the on-coming bus coming round the curve at the top, ha! Ha! I win! If I can ignore the stop sign and pull out of a side road in front of you causing you to slam on your breaks to avoid hitting me, ha! Ha! I win! If I can drive a Land Rover at 90 kph over a rain-swept, twisting and turning mountain road . . . .

But, wait a minute. I didn’t notice anybody laughing at the scene of the dreadful accident we came upon along that misty mountain road last Friday. Even the young fellow who appeared to have escaped injury in the crash looked to me very somber and scared, and on the verge of tears.

Clearly, those of us who had the last, and certainly the best, laugh last Friday afternoon where the ones who enjoyed the lovely drive to Rio Cuarto, and made it back uninjured and alive, and with our property intact. El que ríe de ultimo ríe mejor.

But then, some things really just aren’t all that funny to begin with.



U.N. sets up network to deal with possible bird flu impact on tourism
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United Nations tourism agency has announced an initiative to respond to bird flu and prepare for a possible human pandemic that could wreak havoc on an industry that was worth $622 billion in 2004, hosted more than 763 million travellers and is projected to expand at an annual rate of nearly 6 per cent.

The U.N. World Tourism Organization said at the launch of the Tourism Emergency Response Network at a travel summit in Washington that there is currently no threat to the industry from the H5N1 virus and no case for restricting travel, but visitors to infected areas should avoid contact with live birds.

Agreeing that planning for the potential evolution of H5N1 to a human pandemic is a common concern, participants committed to work closely with U.N. System Influenza Coordinator David Nabarro, the U.N. World Health Organization and other U.N. agencies, share information and ideas, and give clear, concise and geographically specific public messages.

The Network includes the World Tourism Organization, International Hotel & Restaurant Association, Pacific Asia Travel Association, International Federation of Tour Operators, United Federation of Travel Agents Associations, Airports Council International and the International Air Transport Association.

“Huge cross-border disasters have had an increasingly global impact and continually necessitate coordinated action by international bodies who are members of the U.N. family, with implementation by nation States,” said Francisco Frangialli, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization.

“We have seen this in SARS, the tsunami and now with avian flu and preparations for a human pandemic,” he added, referring to the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed 774 people,
infected more than 8,000 worldwide, the vast majority of them in China, and led to a slump in Asian tourism.

After the Indian Ocean tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, devastated many resorts in Thailand, Sri Lanka and other countries, the World Tourism Organization quickly appealed to the media to help promote a resurgence of the industry, stressing that the return of tourists was the best way to help local communities recover from the tragedy.

There have been 192 human cases of bird flu since the current outbreak started in December 2003, 109 of them fatal, ascribed to contact with infected birds. But experts fear H5N1 could mutate, gaining the ability to pass from person to person and in a worst case scenario unleashing a deadly human pandemic.

“The uncertainty of mutation of avian flu to a human pandemic means measured contingency preparation without overreaction, across the international community and with a focus at the national level,” said Geoffrey Lipman, Frangialli’s special advisor coordinating the network.

In a related development, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization  and the inter-governmental World Organization for Animal Health said that cats do not seem to play any discernable role in the transmission and spread of H5N1.

Epidemiological findings and experimental studies have shown that some mammal, particularly cats, may be susceptible to the virus, but based on accumulated data the two organizations confirmed that “there is no present evidence that domestic cats can play a role in the transmission cycle of H5N1 viruses.”

The species involved in the transmission and spread are essentially domestic and wild birds. But in view of the susceptibility of certain felines, agencies recommended that cats in infected and surveillance zones set up around bird flu outbreaks be kept indoors.





You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 17, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 75




A gaggle
of primates


The holidays were a good time to visit the zoo at Parque Bolivar in north San José.

Although activists expressed concern about disease after a zoo worker got sick, the allegations do not appear to have affected attendance.

And monkeys always are good for a laugh.

Or are they the ones laughing?


A.M. Costa Rica photos/Saray Ramírez Vindas


50 benchmark recordings added to U.S. Library of Congress registry
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A 1917 recording of Nora Bayes singing "Over There," a 1938 radio broadcast of "The Adventures of Robin Hood," Dave Brubeck's 1959 million-selling jazz album "Time Out," and 47 other recordings were the latest selections named by The Library of Congress to the National Recording Registry.

Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day," released just two years before the singer's death, was among the dozens of popular music recordings that range from classical, folk and jazz to gospel, blues and rock. But not to be overlooked are famous radio and television broadcasts, including the 1925 inauguration of President Calvin Coolidge; the Joe Louis-Max Schmelling boxing match; and one of Bob Hope's Command Performance programs from 1942. The first official transatlantic telephone conversation on January 7, 1927, also was added to this year's Registry.

Librarian of Congress James Billington says these recordings reflect the nation's ever-changing cultural history. "They represent the diversity, the humanity and the history that lies in our sound heritage. They are a cascading flood of mostly joyous sounds and
certainly always creative spirits that flow into the American bloodstream," he says.

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix recorded one of the most influential rock and roll albums of all time, "Are You Experienced?" Honored by its addition to the Registry, his cousin Robert Hendrix said: "Jimi and I grew up together and back in the day we never thought, and I know he's looking down on us now thinking, 'The Library of Congress, what an honor."

Also honored was singer Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas and the song that defined the Motown sound, "Dancing In the Street." "I'm from a large family, a family created by a man named Berry Gordy. Mr. Gordy said he wanted music that would be the sound of young America, and I think he succeeded. I'm very proud to be here today to have one of our songs preserved in the Library of Congress, a song written by Marvin Gaye, Ivy Hunter and William Stevenson. 'Dancing In The Street' goes down in history. Thank you," she said.

To be considered for the National Recording Registry, recordings must be at least 10 years old. The Library of Congress has been selecting recordings of historical significance every year since 2000.


Coca in Colombia cultivated in wider area despite U.S. eradication efforts
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States says efforts to help Colombia eradicate the coca crop are working, despite a 26 percent increase in coca cultivation areas from 2004 to 2005.

A new report by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy says that although coca was discovered in new areas of Colombia during that time period, the government eradicated a record 170,000 hectares, some 420,079 acres.

The U.S. report concludes coca plantings in Colombia have decreased in fumigated areas, and increased
where no chemical spraying occurred. It says eradication efforts will focus on the new coca fields. Money from drug trafficking has helped finance both the rightist paramilitary groups and Marxist guerrillas on opposing sides of Colombia's four-decade-long civil war.

Coca is the raw material used to make the illegal drug, cocaine. Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine.

The United States has provided Colombia with more than $3 billion since 2000 to help it destroy coca crops, train and equip anti-drug units of its armed forces, and rebuild its judicial system.


Foreign investment in Latin America was flat in 2005
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Foreign direct investment to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2005 amounted to more than US$ 61.5 billion, which was virtually identical to the level recorded in 2004. Costa Rica showed a 1.3 percent drop from $617.3 million in 2004 to $609.2.

Mexico received the most foreign direct investment in 2005 among countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region, reports the United Nations.

In a report released last week, the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said Mexico received about $17 billion with a concentration of such investments from outside the country in the manufacturing sector, focusing mainly on maquila assembly plants, a sector associated with the U.S. economy.  Many maquila plants are located on the Mexican side of the border with the United States, in which U.S. investors often produce such commodities as auto parts, television sets, and garments.
Foreign direct investment occurs when a company from one country invests some of its assets in a foreign country.

The U.N. agency said in its report, "Foreign Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2005," that after Mexico, the other countries receiving the most external investments in the region for the year were Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Colombia.

For 2005, total investments flowing into Latin America and the Caribbean reached over $61.6 billion, similar to the figure for 2004.  The United States is the primary foreign investor in the region, accounting for almost 40 percent, said the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report said that even though foreign direct investment flows held steady for 2005, the Latin America and Caribbean region's overall share of world investment flows declined because total world flows increased 29 percent in 2005 as compared to the 2004 level.






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