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Residency-based taxes on the table for U.S. expats
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. income tax deadline for overseas Americans is just 18 days away, and next year the tax code may be very different.

American Citizens Abroad, an expat advocacy organization, says its 18 months of work has paid off in getting U.S. lawmakers to consider changes in the current system to residency-based taxation.

The organization said that residency-based taxation has been cited in two key reports, one by the Joint Committee of Taxation and the second in a white paper by the Senate Finance Committee.

Another advocacy organization, the Association of Americans Resident Overseas, points out that Americans living abroad must pay taxes twice: once to the country in which they reside and work and again to the U.S. on all their foreign income.

"The U.S. is the only developed country that taxes its citizens living overseas on foreign-earned income," said the association. "This has made it too expensive for U.S. companies to send their employees abroad to grow their business."

In fact, the association says that an estimated one million overseas U.S. tax filers pay an average of $2,000 each to have professionals prepare their submissions because the law is too complex for individuals. That's a drain of $2 billion, the association said.

The current citizenship-based tax system has spawned a number of complex rules. For example, expats who own Costa Rican corporations, even if only to hold a home or a car, face complex reporting responsibilities. In addition, expats with Costa Rican bank accounts also must make a separate filing with the U.S. Treasury Department if the account contains $10,000 or more at any time during the year. This is the hated FBAR, the report of foreign bank and financial accounts.

American Citizens Abroad said its representatives met continually with legislators and key offices in Washington, D.C., including the Senate Finance Committee, The House Ways & Means Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, and Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, are both pushing for a major restructuring of the U.S. Tax Code, notes American Citizens Abroad.

However, the outcome may not be beneficial to Americans overseas. There have been some suggestions that the foreign earned income exclusion be eliminated. This is the section of the tax code that allows U.S. citizens working overseas to exclude $95,100 this year from their 2012 U.S. taxes. American Citizens Abroad noted that the exclusion would be meaningless if U.S. lawmakers opt for a citizenship-based tax system. But some lawmakers just want to eliminate the income exclusion to generate more money for the federal government.

The white paper prepared for the Senate Finance Committee addresses U.S. competitivity overseas.

"Tax reform is an opportunity to strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. in the global
Fatca
Our editorial opinion

economy.  It is also an opportunity to improve the tax system by making it more fair, efficient, clear  and simple," says the white paper. It also says:

"U.S. corporations generally pay tax at a federal statutory rate of 35 percent on their foreign earnings (reduced by foreign tax credits), either immediately or when such earnings are repatriated.  Their competitors in foreign countries typically pay tax on their foreign earnings at a lower statutory rate (and, some believe, a lower effective rate).  Their competitors also are not taxed significantly, if at all, on repatriated foreign earnings.  Some are concerned that these features of our tax system put U.S. multinationals at a competitive disadvantage by reducing the after-tax return they can offer investors, which in turn increases their cost of capital compared to a typical foreign competitor." 

For individuals, the Association of Americans Resident Overseas points out that "penalties for human errors on tax forms are also much higher on Americans abroad than they are on those residing in the U.S. For example, the penalty for failure to disclose assets is $10,000 with a maximum penalty of $50,000 for one taxable year."

The association has a long list of discriminatory rules that face overseas U.S. tax files and not U.S. residents.

Expats also face discrimination locally when they try to open or maintain a local bank account.  The  Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, the hated FATCA, requires foreign financial institutions to report directly to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers or held by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. The act also requires some U.S. citizens to report their assets to the federal government.

It is this measure that has caused banks to deny accounts to U.S. citizens,  In Costa Rica expats sometimes have to visit banks with reams of paperwork to show from where their money originates even if they have an account with a very modest amount of money. In one case the amount leading to the interrogation was $85.

The complexities of the U.S. Tax Code made news earlier this month when Apple CEO Tom Cook appeared before the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to defend his firm's practice of not paying taxes to any government on $74 billion in overseas income. The tax avoidance efforts are fully legal. But even Cook said the tax code needs an overhaul.

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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Dentistry

Dr. Vargas
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Call us: Within C.R.  2225-1189
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Legal services

FULLY BILINGUAL ATTORNEY
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Arcelio Hernandez

Official English/Spanish translator and interpreter
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Lic. Arcelio Hernandez Mussio, Jr.
With over a decade of experience in the fields of:
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RE&B Attorneys S.A
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Translations and legal services

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Accountants

U.S. Tax International

Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal services
Over 15 years in Costa Rica
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E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com
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U.S. Income Tax
David G. Housman Attorney & C.P.A
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in Costa Rica 32 years.
Specializing in all matters of concern to U.S. taxpayers residing abroad, including all new passport and other
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• Associate of James Brohl
Phone: (506) 2239-2005 Fax 2239-2437

E mail: papahound@comcast.net
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7410-4/1/13


Our reader's opinion
Las Crucitas gold mine case
will be very expensive here


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Now that the Las Crucitas situation looks like international arbitration is forthcoming, I feel that the people of Costa Rica deserve to know the true costs of such a high profile litigation.
                                                                                 
The following is from the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Web site case no. ARB(AF)/04/06 Vannessa Ventures
 
The Tribunal notes that both parties employed outside counsel and experts. It notes further that the total costs exceeded U.S. $20 million and that claimant’s costs were under one-half of respondent’s costs. While it understands the magnitude of the issues at stake, and that each party took its own decisions on how best to protect its interests, the tribunal considers it regrettable that the costs of what should be an efficient and reasonably expeditious procedure are so high.

In this case, Claimant was in effect the winner of the jurisdiction phase and the loser of the merits phase of this case. Given the logistics of case preparation and the extent to which issues are intertwined, it is practically impossible to separate out the costs of the two phases. Taking account of the extent to which each side has prevailed, and the respective expenditures of each party, the tribunal has decided that each side should bear its own costs and one-half of the costs of the tribunal and of ICSID.
 
The figures can be verified on the ICSID Web site

Instead of reaping the benefits of royalty payments and taxation revenue from the gold mine project of Las Crucitas, the people of Costa Rica are now facing the reality that its government could be  ordered to pay compensation to Infinito gold for violating the terms of its bilateral trade agreement with Canada. What should have produced a positive future for the local people at Las Crucitas in the form of investment in local education, jobs and infrastructure has resulted in a situation that foreign investment now views Costa Rica as a risky location in which to pursue business ventures.

Infinito will win its case, of that I have no doubt, as the case will be adjudicated solely on contract and trade agreement law and will be tried by an "Independent" tribunal at the International Centre for Investment Disputes under the auspices of the World Bank, far away from Costa Rica's indecisive and conflicting political/judicial system.

The ICSID, based in Washington D.C., deals only with international disputes which have resulted through contract cancellations, breach of contract, nationalization of projects etc. Petty political arguments are not tolerated at this venue.
Infinito had/has all the necessary permits, a bankable feasibility report, stated government support, proven capital investment and constitutional court approval.

Additionally, the Costa Rican vice president has already stated compensation will have to be paid if the government cancels the project. What troubles me now is the financial cost to the Costa Rican people in the form of compensation and legal costs. All of which could have been avoided if the Sala 1V's ruling had been respected.

Infinito (formally Vannessa Ventures) was unsuccessful in a recent ICSID case against Venezuela. The details of the case bare no comparison to Las Crucitas whatsoever, but what is of great interest are the legal costs. Each party had to pay its own legal costs. Although winning its case, Venezuela's legal costs exceeded US $15,000,000  or 7.500,000,000 Colon

Stewart Hay
British Columbia, Canada.


Wal-mart admits environmental crimes and will pay $110 million

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

As part of a $110 million case against the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the United States. The guilty pleas pursuant to cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco are the result of an investigation that started in Southern California.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company also pleaded guilty in Kansas City, Missouri, to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles gave this summary:

As a result of the three criminal cases brought by the Justice Department, as well as a related civil case filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wal-Mart will pay approximately $81.6 million for its unlawful conduct. Coupled with previous actions brought by the states of California and Missouri for the same conduct, Wal-Mart will pay a combined total of more than $110 million to resolve cases alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws.

“Federal laws that address the proper handling, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes exist to safeguard our environment and protect the public from harm,” said U. S. Attorney André Birotte, Jr. “Retailers like Wal-Mart that generate hazardous waste have a duty to legally and safely dispose of that hazardous waste, and dumping it down the sink was neither legal nor safe. The case against Wal-Mart is designed to ensure compliance with our nation’s environmental laws now and in the future.”

According to documents filed in U. S. District Court, from a date unknown until January 2006, Wal-Mart did not have a program in place and failed to train its employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level. As a result, hazardous wastes were either discarded improperly at the store level – including being put into municipal trash bins or, if a liquid, poured into the local sewer system – or they were improperly transported without proper safety documentation to one of six product return centers located throughout the United States.

“By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides and other materials in violation of federal laws, Wal-Mart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today, Wal-Mart acknowledged responsibility for violations of federal laws and will pay significant fines and penalties, which will, in part, fund important environmental projects in the communities impacted by the violations and help prevent future harm to the environment.”

Wal-Mart owns more than 4,000 stores nationwide that sell thousands of products which are flammable, corrosive, reactive, toxic or otherwise hazardous under federal law. The products that contain hazardous materials include pesticides, solvents, detergents, paints, aerosols and cleaners. Once discarded, these products are considered hazardous waste under federal law.

Wal-Mart pleaded guilty in San Francisco to six misdemeanor counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act. The six criminal charges were filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the two cases were consolidated in the Northern District of California, where the guilty pleas were formally entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero. Pursuant to a plea agreement filed in California, Wal-Mart was sentenced to pay a $40 million criminal fine and an additional $20 million that will fund various community service projects, including opening a $6 million Retail Compliance Assistance Center that will help retail stores across the nation learn how to properly handle hazardous waste.

As part of the $20 million community service payment in California, Wal-Mart will pay $9 million, $4.5 million in both the Central District of California and the Northern District of California, to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. That money will be used to provide long-term funding for environmental projects, initiatives and enforcement activities designed for the benefit, preservation and restoration of the environment, watersheds and ecosystems.

In the third criminal case resolved Tuesday, Wal-Mart pleaded guilty in the Western District of Missouri to violating the federal insecticide act. According to a plea agreement filed in Kansas City, beginning in 2006, Wal-Mart began sending certain damaged household products, including regulated solid and liquid pesticides, from its six return centers to Greenleaf, LLC, a recycling facility located in Neosho, Mo., where the products were processed for reuse and resale.

Because Wal-Mart employees failed to provide adequate oversight of the pesticides sent to Greenleaf, regulated pesticides were mixed together and offered for sale to customers without the required registration, ingredients or use information, which constitutes a violation of the act. Between July 2006 and February 2008, Wal-Mart trucked more than 2 million pounds of regulated pesticides and additional household products from its various return centers to Greenleaf. In November 2008, Greenleaf was also convicted of a violation and paid a criminal penalty of $200,000 in 2009. 
   
Pursuant to the plea agreement filed in Missouri, Wal-Mart agreed to pay a criminal fine of $11 million and to pay another $3 million to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which will go to that agency’s hazardous waste program and will be used to fund further inspections and education on pesticide regulations for regulators, the regulated community and the public. In addition, Wal-Mart has already spent more than $3.4 million to properly remove and dispose of all hazardous material from Greenleaf’s facility.

In conjunction with the guilty pleas in the three criminal cases, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay a $7,628 million civil penalty that will resolve civil violations. In addition to the civil penalties, Wal-Mart is required to implement a comprehensive, nationwide environmental compliance agreement to manage hazardous wastes generated at its stores. The agreement includes requirements to ensure adequate environmental personnel and training at all levels of the company, proper identification and management of hazardous wastes, and the development and implementation of Environmental Management Systems at its stores and return centers. Compliance with this agreement is a condition of probation imposed in the criminal cases.

 
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
 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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Garage Sale
Saturday 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
#10 Condominiums Cariari

 
A lifetime of treasures, collectibles, art, crystal glassware, objets d'arte, pottery (made by the artist herself), quality clothes, misc. kitchen items, and more.  Also fine art works matted/framed, decorative lamps, tall ceramic bird bath on metal stand, vintage tablecloths and napkins, antique oak spindle chair, wood DVD floor stand Cash only, please. Guarded parking is available
 
For directions, email or call:
Frances Chavarria
franceschavarria@gmail.com
Phone:  2239-1150

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Electrical utility promises lower rates for second half of year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's electrical generating company, perhaps stung by public opinion against its higher rates, said Thursday that the rates will be lower in the second half of the year.

The company, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, has been the target of criticism from industrial leaders to housewives over rates that have soared.

The company known as ICE said that the methodology used by the regulating agency will mean lower rates. That's because during the dry season the company relies more on expensive petroleum fuel to fire thermal generators.

With the arrival of the rainy season more electricity will be generated by the hydro projects.
The Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos sets the rates. But it uses figures provided by the electrical utility and also the world price of petroleum.

ICE is even suggesting that there might be rebates to customers. But what usually happens is that the rebates are figured into the rate. Costa Rica's electrical tariffs are skewed to provide low-cost electricity to the poor. After a certain level, the rates become higher.

Some expats have reported that their monthly costs of electricity in their air conditioned beach home on the Pacific coast exceeded $700.

Industrial leaders have urged lawmakers to pass a proposed comprehensive law on electrical generating that would welcome more private providers.


La Penca survivor will share his experiences in San Carlos
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tomorrow is the 29th anniversary of the La Penca bombing that killed three newspeople and injured many more at a Contra rebel jungle camp in Nicaragua.

The day has become the Día Nacional del Periodista in Costa Rica. One of those who died was Linda Frazier, a reporter for The Tico Times and wife to the Costa Rican bureau chief for The Associated Press. Two Costa Rican Canal 7 camera operators and a rebel also died.

The location was just north of Costa Rica on a tributary of the Río San Juan.

In San Carlos Thursday Nelson Murillo, a survivor of the bombing, will speak at 2 p.m. at the regional center of  Tecnológico de Costa Rica. He will be sharing his experiences and views with students there and the public, said the university.

This was during the time that the United States was attempting to oust the Daniel Ortega regime in Nicaragua on the claim that he was a puppet of Moscow. The Cold War continued to rage. Some accused the United States for wanting to silence Pastora. U.S. citizens living in Costa Rica also were accused of complicity. Many years passed until what seems to be the truth came out. A Sandinista sympathizer and La Penca survivor came forward in 2009 to accuse the Ortega regime.
La penca
La Nación edition that reported the bombing.


Agents here say they were on Liberty Reserve case since 2011
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators said Tuesday that they have been working since 2011 on the Liberty Reserve case.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that it worked in conjunction with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the  Oficina de Investigación en Seguridad de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas here.

Earlier story . . . HERE!

This is the investigation that resulted in the arrest of Arthur Budovsky in Spain last week. Agents disclosed Tuesday that they also detained Maxim Chukharev, 27, here. He was involved in the technical and computer aspects of the firm.

In all seven persons were detained.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said that Liberty Reserve was a $6 billion money laundering scheme with at least a million users worldwide. It said the majority of users were criminals because they could hide their identity and still use the electronic currency transfer system.

Budovsky, identified here as an economist by profession, tried to get the firm approved by the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras here. When that effort was rejected in 2011, he dispersed the operation into other companies and even other countries. He maintained the Liberty Reserve Web site until Thursday even though he claimed that the firm had been shut down two years earlier, according to investigators.

To show how anonymous dealing with Liberty Reserve was,
the U.S. Attorney's office said that as part of the investigation, a law enforcement agent opened and executed transactions through an undercover account at Liberty Reserve in the name of “Joe Bogus” and the address “123 Fake Main Street” in “Completely Made Up City, New York.”

Budovsky's partner Vladimir Kats, 41, was detained in Brooklyn, New York. Both had been grabbed in New York for a similar operation, called Gold Age, in 2006. That was the same year U.S. investigators said that the pair incorporated Liberty Reserve here. Both were convicted and given probation.

Investigators had been tapping the telephones of principals. According to U.S. investigators, Kats was overheard telling an associate that Liberty Reserve is money laundering operation that hackers use.

Although U.S. investigators linked the firm to hackers, fraudsters, swindlers, and even kiddie porn purveyors, the firm also received heavy use from foreign exchange speculators.

The chance of getting any money returned seems slim with the company's computer servers dismantled and in storage with the Poder Judicial. They were confiscated Thursday with raids in Santa Ana and Heredia.

Meanwhile, agents in Costa Rica still are seeking two persons named in the Liberty Reserve indictment.  They are Ahmed Yassine Abdelghani, 42, and Allan Esteban Hidalgo Jimenez, 28,

Unlike some previous law enforcement raids that shut down popular financial operations in Costa Rica, the current case is unlikely to have much impact here because most of the firm's customers are elsewhere.

Del Rey Memorial day

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 29, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 105
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U.S. officials confirm international sweep targeting Liberty Reserve
EDITOR'S NOTE; The following news story was posted at midday Tuesday.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


The U.S. Attorney's Office in New York Tuesday confirmed the indictment and criminal action against Liberty Reserve, which the office called one of world’s largest digital currency companies. The office also said that seven of its principals and employees were included in the indictment.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Liberty Reserve, which was based in Costa Rica, was a $6 billion money laundering scheme with at least a million users worldwide.

The action against the company and associated individuals involved law enforcement in 17 countries and is being considered by officials as the largest international money laundering prosecution in history.

The U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara, who is a federal prosecutor, said that there were about 200,000 Liberty Reserve users in the United States.

Nearly all the transactions were illegal and involved more than $6 billion in suspected proceeds of crimes including credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography, and narcotics trafficking, said the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In addition to Costa Rica, the investigation involved law enforcement action in 17 countries, including The Netherlands, Spain, Morocco, Sweden, Switzerland, Cyprus, Australia, China, Norway, Latvia, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Russia, Canada, as well as the United States.

One aspect of the crackdown became known Friday when a Costa Rican prosecutor, Jose Pablo González, said that Liberty Reserve administrator  Arthur Budovsky, 39, a Costa Rican citizen, had been detained in Spain. He oversaw searches of the man's property here and the confiscation of computer servers and three vehicles.

For some reason, federal officials did not announce the actions until today.

In addition to Budovsky, Vladimir Kats, 41, the co-founder of Liberty Reserve, was arrested in Brooklyn, New York; Azzeddine el Amine, 46, a manager of Liberty Reserve’s financial accounts, was arrested in Spain; and Mark Marmilev, 33, and Maxim Chukharev, 27, who helped design and maintain the firm’s technological infrastructure, were arrested, said the federal agency in a release.

Marmilev was arrested in Brooklyn, and Chukharev  was detained in Costa Rica, the agency said. Two other defendants, Ahmed Yassine Abdelghani, 42, and Allan Esteban Hidalgo Jimenez, 28, are at large in Costa Rica, it added.

“As alleged, the only liberty that Liberty Reserve gave many of its users was the freedom to commit crimes," said Bharara. "The coin of its realm was anonymity, and it became a popular hub for fraudsters, hackers, and traffickers. The global enforcement action we announce today is an important step towards reining in the Wild West of illicit Internet banking. As crime goes increasingly global, the long arm of the law has to get even longer, and in this case, it encircled the earth.”

The U.S. Attorney's Office gave this background report in a news release:

Liberty reserve was incorporated in Costa Rica in 2006 and operated the digital currency commonly referred to as “LR.” While the company billed itself as the Internet’s largest payment processor and money transfer system, serving millions of people around the world, including the U.S., at no time did the company register with the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a money transmitting business, as required by law.

Budovsky, the principal founder of Liberty Reserve, directed and supervised its operations, finances, and corporate strategy. Kats, a co-founder, helped operate the company until 2009. The day-to-day operations were managed, at different times, by Hidalgo and Yassine. El Amine managed various financial accounts controlled by Liberty Reserve, while Marmilev and Chukharev were primarily responsible for designing and maintaining the company’s technological infrastructure.

The defendants created, structured, and operated Liberty Reserve as a criminal bank-payment processor designed to help users conduct illegal transactions anonymously and launder the proceeds of their crimes. It emerged as one of the principal money transfer agents used by cyber
criminals around the world to distribute, store, and launder the proceeds of their illegal activity. The company grew into a financial hub of the cybercrime world, facilitating a broad range of online criminal activity, including credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography, and narcotics trafficking. Liberty Reserve was used extensively for illegal purposes, functioning as the bank of choice for the criminal underworld because it provided an infrastructure that enabled cyber criminals around the world to conduct anonymous and untraceable financial transactions.

The defendants also protected the criminal infrastructure of Liberty Reserve by, among other things, lying to anti-money laundering authorities in Costa Rica and pretending to shut down Liberty Reserve after learning the company was being investigated by U.S. law enforcement. They then continued operating the business through a set of shell companies, and moved tens of millions of dollars through shell company accounts maintained in
Cyprus, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Morocco, Spain, Australia, and elsewhere.

In order to use LR currency, a user first had to open an account through the firm's Web site and provide basic identifying information. Unlike traditional banks or legitimate online processors, Liberty Reserve did not require users to validate their identities. Users routinely established accounts under false names, including such blatantly criminal names as “Russia Hackers” and “Hacker Account.” As part of the investigation, a law enforcement agent opened and executed transactions through an undercover account at Liberty Reserve in the name of “Joe Bogus” and the address “123 Fake Main Street” in “Completely Made Up City, New York.”

Once an account was established, the user could conduct transactions with other users. In these transactions, the user could receive transfers of LR from other users’ accounts, and transfer LR from his or her own account to other users, including any “merchants” that accepted LR as payment. Liberty Reserve charged a 1 percent fee up to a maximum of $2.99, every time a user transferred LR to another user through the firm's system. For an additional “privacy fee” of 75 cents per transaction, a user could hide his or her own account number when transferring funds, effectively making the transfer completely untraceable, even within Liberty Reserve’s already opaque system.

To add an additional layer of anonymity, the firm did not permit users to fund their accounts by transferring money to the company directly through a credit card transfer or other means. Users also could not withdraw funds from their accounts directly. Instead, users were required to make any deposits or withdrawals through the use of third-party exchangers, which enabled the company to avoid collecting any information about its users through banking transactions or other activity that would leave a centralized financial paper trail. Budovsky, Kats, and El Amine owned and operated certain exchanger services.

The Liberty Reserve Web site recommended a number of pre-approved exchangers, which tended to be unlicensed money transmitting businesses operating in countries without significant governmental money laundering oversight or regulation, such as in Malaysia, Russia, Nigeria, and Vietnam. The exchangers charged transaction fees for their services that were much higher than the fees charged by mainstream banks or payment processors for comparable money transfers.

To further enable the use of Liberty Reserve for criminal activity, its Web site offered a shopping cart interface that merchant Web sites could use to accept LR currency as a form of payment. The merchants who accepted LR currency were overwhelmingly criminal in nature. They included traffickers of stolen credit card data and personal identity information, peddlers of various types of online Ponzi and get-rich-quick schemes, computer hackers for hire, unregulated gambling enterprises, and underground drug-dealing Web sites.

In addition to being used to process payments for illegal goods and services online, Liberty Reserve was also used by cyber criminals to launder criminal proceeds and transfer funds among criminal associates. For example, Liberty Reserve was used by credit-card theft and computer-hacking rings operating in countries around the world, including Vietnam, Nigeria, Hong Kong, China, and the U.S., to distribute proceeds of these conspiracies among the members involved.

The defendants were well aware that Liberty Reserve functioned as an unlawful money-laundering enterprise. In an online chat between Kats and Yassine that was captured by law enforcement, Kats explicitly described Liberty Reserve’s activities as illegal and noted that everyone in USA such as the Department of Justice knows “LR is money laundering operation that hackers use.”


 
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Ecuador's foreign minister
raps Britain on Assange

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ecuador's foreign minister Tuesday accused the British government of trampling on the human rights of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by refusing to allow him to travel to Ecuador, which granted him political asylum almost a year ago.
 
Assange, 41, took refuge in Ecuador's tiny embassy in London last June to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sex assault and rape allegations. He denies the allegations.
 
Ecuador's socialist president, Rafael Correa, angered the U.K. by granting Assange asylum in August on concerns that the former computer hacker might be further extradited from Sweden to the United States. Ecuador's government late last year said the Australian citizen was suffering from lung problems.
 
“By not granting him safe passage they are violating the human rights of a citizen, and every day that passes the effects of that violation hurt the person more and more,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said in an interview. “It's a whole year that this gentleman has spent without feeling the sun and that's really serious ... because this decision has been taken by a state that says it protects human rights.”
 
Ecuador argues that Assange's deportation to Sweden is part of a scheme by the U.S. government to have the former computer hacker extradited to American soil so that he can face charges over WikiLeaks' release of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables.
 
U.S. and European government sources say the United States has issued no criminal charges against him, nor launched any attempts to extradite Assange.
 
Assange, whose platinum hair and high-flying friends made him a household name around the world, is said to be living a cramped life inside the modest diplomatic mission. He eats mostly take-out food and uses a treadmill to burn off energy and a vitamin D lamp to make up for the lack of sunlight.
 
Patino said the Ecuadorean government is preparing a document in which it will argue that Britain is legally obliged to give Assange permission to leave the embassy and travel to South America.
 
He said that talks with the British government over Assange's fate continue and that he hopes to discuss the issue with British Foreign Minister William Hague in “a matter of weeks or months.”
 
Assange said last year he expected to wait six months to a year for a deal that would allow him to leave the embassy.


Cuba offers broader access
to closely monitored Internet


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuba will begin offering broader Internet access next month through 118 outlets around the country, according to a decree in the government's Official Gazette on Tuesday. This is a step long awaited by many Cubans.
 
The announcement said Internet would be made available starting June 4 at offices of ETECSA, the state telecommunications monopoly, and elsewhere in what a government blogger said was a first step toward home service.
 
“Maybe it will take a while but the next step is to connect Cubans from their houses. This is the advance party,'' said blogger Yohandry Fontana, who often is first to report official information and viewpoints, commenting on Twitter.
 
The decree made clear that the new Internet access would be closely monitored, warning users it could not be used to “endanger or prejudice public security, or the integrity and sovereignty of the nation.''
 
Currently, unrestricted access to Internet in Cuba is available only to select institutions and professionals and to luxury hotels catering to tourists.
 
The Communist-led island says that 2.6 million Cubans, out of a population of 11.2 million, have access to the Internet, but until now most have only been able to explore a limited, state-controlled “intranet'' basket of approved websites.
 
While Cubans will have greater, unrestricted access to the Internet, it will still be too expensive for most of them, the equivalent of $4.50 an hour in a country where the average monthly salary amounts to $20.
 
Cuba was connected to a fiber-optic communication cable from close ally Venezuela in 2011, which the government has been testing in recent months but still not put into wide use.
 
The island has been getting its Internet through a slow and expensive satellite link.
 
Cuban media said the number of Internet outlets would be expanded as time and money permit.


Plants stuck under glaciers
for centuries live again

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists have succeeded in bringing back to life plants that have spent more than 400 years under a glacier.

The plants known as bryophytes, more commonly known as mosses and liverworts, were left behind by retreating glaciers and are thought to be between 400 and 600 years old. The finding overturns the long-held assumption that plants exposed by shrinking glaciers are dead.

In a laboratory setting, researchers took 24 samples and were able to successfully produce 11 cultures regenerated from four species.

“These simple, efficient plants, which have been around for more than 400 million years, have evolved a unique biology for optimal resilience,” says Catherine La Farge, director and curator of the Cryptogamic Herbarium at the University of Alberta in Canada. “Any bryophyte cell can reprogram itself to initiate the development of an entire new plant. This is equivalent to stem cells in faunal systems.”

Ms. La Farge said no one expected the plants to be rejuvenated after nearly 400 years beneath a glacier.

The finding, according to Ms. La Farge, “amplifies the critical role of bryophytes in polar environments and has implications for all permafrost regions of the globe.”

“Bryophytes are extremophiles that can thrive where other plants don’t. Hence they play a vital role in the establishment, colonization and maintenance of polar ecosystems,” she said. “This discovery emphasizes the importance of research that helps us understand the natural world, given how little we still know about polar ecosystems - with applied spinoffs for understanding reclamation that we may never have anticipated.”

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 
Money laundering damages
economy, Colombians say


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Rotting wooden planks heave as dozens of barefoot Wayuu Indians carry washing machines, fans and stereos on their backs from the hull of a cargo ship docked on the tip of northern Colombia.
   
Throughout the night, they unload thousands of boxes piled 30 feet (10 meters) high and haul them down the battered ramp to waiting trucks.
   
By torchlight, customs director Claudia Gaviria rips open a box at the makeshift wharf at Puerto Nuevo on the La Guajira peninsula. She counts the number of fans against documents supplied by the ship.
   
“If there's more than the paperwork says, we will seize the merchandise and investigate because it could be contraband or even money laundering,” said Ms. Gaviria, taping the box up and reaching for another. “We found some doctored papers on this ship.”
   
Contraband smuggled into Colombia is part of multi-billion-dollar money laundering operations that damage legitimate businesses, undermining Colombia's bid to reinvent itself as a thriving economy after decades of political and drugs violence.
   
In complicated schemes, Colombian traffickers receive drug money from overseas dealers in the form of goods, often shipped along with legitimate merchandise. Once the goods are sold and a sales receipt given, the drug money is clean.
   
The amount of money laundered from the trafficking of drugs, arms and human beings in Colombia is estimated by experts to be as much as $17 billion a year, more than 5 percent of the economy's total value and more than total foreign direct investment last year.
   
Much of the merchandise unloaded by the Wayuu, the bulk of it legitimate, will make its way to the desert town of Maicao, a Wild West type of place that sells cheap designer perfumes and whiskey at half the retail price, alongside knock offs of Prada and Giorgio Armani label goods.
   
“That goods are sold at lower prices than they are produced in the factory says it all,” said national tax agency head Juan Ricardo Ortega.
   
Last year, as much as $128 million worth of contraband was seized by authorities, less than 10 percent of the amount estimated to come into Colombia, according to government data.
   
“It's an impossible task,” said Luis Carlos Canas, head of the tax office in northern Maicao, as he inspects ingots of aluminum on an 18-wheeler crossing the border from Venezuela. “We just don't have the human resources to check everything.”
   
Exports also are part of the laundering business. Fake paperwork is created for overseas sales that do not exist. Once the paperwork is filed at the customs office, cash from international drug deals can enter without raising suspicion.
   
Colombia's official annual gold exports are reported to be as much as 70 tons, Ortega said, although the industry only produces 15 tons. While there is a considerable amount of artisanal gold that could account for some of the extra, Ortega suspects the bulk is fictitious sales.
   
So while Colombia continues to transform its image from a violence-plagued nation to an investment magnet with booming oil and mining industries, the economy is skewed by the money laundering of traffickers' cocaine sales abroad.
   
Colombia has for decades struggled to reduce crime linked to the drug trade, waging a U.S.-backed war against Marxist rebels, right-wing paramilitary groups and cocaine cartels. But crime gangs have become wilier in duping authorities.
   
Back in the days of Colombia's best-known drug lord, Pablo Escobar, in the 1980s, so much laundered cash simply came in by plane from the United States that dealers just buried it around their homes. Now things are far more sophisticated.
   
There are three main ways the gangs clean their money: smuggling undeclared physical cash across the border; through the financial system; and via contraband.
   
It is not just the proceeds from drug trafficking – about $8.8 billion a year - that gets laundered. Money earned from corruption, gun running, prostitution, and illegal gold mining also needs to be cleaned.
   
Once it makes it into Colombia's $330 billion economy, it can inflate economic growth numbers by several basis points, said Luis Edmundo Suarez, head of the UIAF, a government body that looks into suspicious money movements and sends them for investigation.
   
“The launderer is only interested in injecting the money into the system,” Suarez said at his Bogota office. “It creates suffering, distorts the economy and alters reference prices as he doesn't care if he loses money, just that it's cleaned.”
   
Ortega reckons a large range of official data from inflation to real estate, retail, exports, imports and agricultural output may be different than reported due to fake or overstated sales from laundering.

The problem for ordinary Colombians, Ortega says, is that laundered goods are mostly sold at below-market prices, which elbows out and often shutters competitors.

Conversely, it can create price bubbles in certain sectors when criminals pay excessive amounts for goods like farms or bill extra through restaurants and stores.
   
“For a poor country, the social impact is brutal,” Ortega said. “It limits growth and destroys opportunity for legitimate business.”
   
Cattle ranching, for example, is a common financing vehicle along with drugs for left-wing rebels of the Fuerza Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, known as FARC, as well as other drug cartels.

They often pay above value for cattle farms and that in turn pushes up prices for neighboring property. Then they liquidate assets, the cattle, to receive quick cash, cutting the price of livestock in the area.
   
Many agriculture businesses in central Meta province, for example, are looking to sell off and get out because they cannot compete with the low livestock prices on offer.
   
“You can tell from the price of beef in some rural areas when a crime gang is selling its stock of cattle,” Suarez said.
   
Farmers are intimidated into selling their land and offered cash sums they can't refuse, according to a cattle rancher with land in Meta who requested anonymity for security reasons.
   
“It's hard to refuse the drug dealers,” the rancher said. “And we also face herds of cattle coming in illegally from Venezuela as contraband that slashes the price of the beef.”
   
The government says the FARC is among the biggest owners of cattle, assets that are easy to turn into cash to buy weapons or food and clothing for their 8,000-strong fighting force.
   
Colombia's financial system, surprisingly, is among the most rigid and successful in protecting against money launderers. Red flags go up with any unusual movement of cash.
   
Banking clients complain about the charges levied each month and the mountain of paperwork needed to open an account, but Maria Mercedes Cuellar, head of the Asobancaria banking union, says that is what keeps the system safe. “Colombia has more controls in its system than most places in the world, even more than in the U.S,” she said.
   
But that also causes its own set of problems, she says, since it facilitates a cash-based economy that enables launderers. They simply work outside the system, she said.
   
While detecting smuggled goods has proved tough, authorities have turned to accountants to catch the smugglers, just as U.S. authorities did with legendary gangster Al Capone in the 1930s.
   
“If we can't pursue them for contraband or laundering, we'll pursue them for tax evasion,” Claudia Rincon, head of the tax office's legal department, said of the uphill task. One of her agents was assassinated just weeks ago in connection with her work as a tax investigator.
  

Club Mediterranee prepares
for a friendly takeover


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Club Mediterranee's top shareholders plan to take over the French holiday firm in a bid that values it at around 541 million euros ($700 million), to accelerate its shift to fast-growing emerging markets.

Chinese investor Fosun International and AXA Private Equity said Monday they would team up with management to offer 17 euros a share for the stock they do not already own, a 23 percent premium to Friday's closing price.

Chief Executive Officer Henri Giscard d'Estaing, who has spearheaded Club Med's upmarket shift and expansion away from recession-hit Europe, said the friendly bid would give the group freedom to focus on emerging markets.

"We need to be free from short-term constraints for the next four to five years," he said.

Founded in 1950 and listed since 1966, Club Med was a pioneer of the all-inclusive holiday resort.

But it fell on hard times in the past decade because of stiff competition and an unsuccessful expansion into services, and its more recent drive to recast itself as an upmarket operator has been hampered by a flagging European economy.

One Paris-based trader, who declined to be named, said Fosun's involvement would help Club Med's achieve its aim to make China its second-biggest market after France.
 
Club Med aims to operate five villages in China by 2015, including three by the end of this year, Giscard d'Estaing said.
 
Beyond China, Club Med is speeding up expansion in Russia and Brazil, with the goal to lift the contribution of emerging markets sales to 33 percent by 2015 from around 25 percent.
 

New insecticide to target
just malaria mosquitoes


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists are making progress in developing a new species-specific insecticide that would be lethal only to insects that carry malaria.

According to scientists at Virginia Tech and the University of Florida the insecticide would be far less toxic to beneficial insects such as bees. They say the insecticide is formulated to interfere with an enzyme found in the nervous system of mosquitoes and other organisms called acetylcholinesterase. If the effectiveness of the enzyme is disrupted, it causes an organism to convulse and die.

“A simple analogy would be that we’re trying to make a key that fits perfectly into a lock,” said entomologist Jeff Bloomquist, a professor at the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “We want to shut down the enzyme, but only in target species.”

Scientists are trying to perfect the mosquito-specific compounds and manufacture them on a large scale so that they can be applied to netting where mosquitoes might land. They say it will take at least four to five years before a compound is ready to be submitted for federal approval.

The team recently published a study in the journal Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology comparing eight experimental compounds with commercially available insecticides that target the enzyme.

Though they were less toxic to mosquitoes than commercial products, the experimental compounds were far more selective, indicating researchers are on the right track, Bloomquist said.

“The compounds we’re using are not very toxic to honeybees, fish and mammals, but we need to refine them further, make them more toxic to mosquitoes and safer for non-target organisms,” he said.

Malaria is caused by microscopic organisms called protists, which are present in the saliva of infected female mosquitoes and transmitted when the mosquitoes bite. Initial symptoms of the disease can include fever, chills, convulsions, headaches and nausea. In severe cases, malaria can cause kidney failure, coma and death.

Worldwide, malaria infected about 219 million people in 2010 and killed about 660,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 90 percent of those infected lived in Africa.


Moon rocks stuck in storage
discovered in California lab

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Twenty vials of moon rock and lunar soil collected by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 moon landing mission in 1969 have been found in a warehouse at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

Berkeley Lab archivist Karen Nelson uncovered the moon dust, vials with handwritten labels and dated “24 July 1970,” recently while reviewing and clearing out artifacts from Berkeley Lab’s warehouse.

“They were vacuum sealed in a glass jar,” said Ms. Nelson, who has worked in Berkeley Lab’s Archives and Records Office for 17 years. “We don’t know how or when they ended up in storage.”

After Apollo 11's historic mission, moon samples were distributed to 150 labs around the world, including Berkeley, and while they were supposed to be eventually sent back to NASA after study, these samples ended up in storage for nearly 40 years.

Also found with the samples was a 1971 paper, “Study of carbon compounds in Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 returned lunar samples,” which was published in the Proceedings of the Second Lunar Science Conference. The paper examined the nature and chemical characteristics of the carbon in the lunar samples.

NASA has asked for the samples to be returned.

Various bits of Apollo 11 memorabilia have surfaced in recent months, according to the technology website, CNET. In March, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos funded an effort to raise Apollo 11’s booster rocket engines from the ocean floor. Recently, Buzz Aldrin’s space sleepwear went up for auction, as did Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk EKG reading.


Three astronauts lift off
for time on space station

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A veteran Russian cosmonaut, a rookie Italian astronaut and an American mother on her second flight blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Tuesday for a six-hour ride to the International Space Station.
 
The Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off at 4:31 p.m. EDT (2031 GMT), streaking through clear, pre-dawn skies in Kazakhstan as it headed into orbit, a NASA TV broadcast showed.
 
In command of the Soyuz capsule was cosmonaut Fyodor   Yurchikhin, 54, who already has made two long-duration flights aboard the space station and one aboard NASA's now-retired space shuttle.
 
He was joined by Luca Parmitano, 36, a major in the Italian Air Force. Parmitano, who initially studied political science and international law at the University of Naples, and will be the first Italian to live aboard the station, a $100 billion project of 15 nations.
 
“This is very momentous,” Parmitano said in a preflight NASA interview.
 
NASA allotted the crew slot to the Italian Space Agency as part of a barter agreement for cargo carriers that were taken to the station aboard the shuttles. One module was converted into a storage closet and left aboard the station.
 
Rounding out the crew is NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, a 43-year-old mechanical engineer who has one previous spaceflight on her resume, a two-week shuttle mission. She leaves behind her astronaut husband, Doug Hurley, and their 3-year-old son, Jack.
 
“Time for me to 'unplug!' Thanks everyone for well wishes and great interest in what our nations do in space,” Ms. Nyberg wrote on Twitter seven hours before liftoff.
 
The crew is expected to reach the space station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth about six hours after launch, an expedited trip that has been made by only one other previous crew.
 
Awaiting their arrival are station commander Pavel Vinogradov and flight engineers Alexander Misurkin and Chris Cassidy. The men are two months into a planned six-month mission.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

Bid on Costa Rican properties to be foreclosed!
Win big with Costa Rican foreclosures.
Full service team at your service

English-speaking team of lawyers, translators and other experts will help and guide you to make the right decision. Complete support including legal research and accurate description of all documents. Legal support all through the process.
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WE GET RESULTS!
7873-4/7/13

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.

For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112. www.costaricarealtyone.com
7938-6/8/13

Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert
Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.
7949-11/15/13

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
 
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at www.moranlakearenal.com
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Email: moranrealestate@gmail.com
Moran logo
7922-10/15/13

The #1 Authority in Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica real estate
Since 1996, CRREC has been providing the most valuable resource for discovering real estate in Costa Rica. Our Costa Rica properties database contains some of the most exclusive and hard to find properties in the country. Not to mention how affordable some of our Costa Rica homes for sale are. So if you're in the market for Costa Rica real estate then we encourage you to
visit our Costa Rica MLS and discover for yourself why people call CRREC the #1 authority in Costa Rica real estate.
Call Today @ 506-2654-5507 (Costa Rica) or 1-888-414-1836 (Toll-Free) Email: info@costaricarealestate.com
7721-4/29/13



Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.
Gracia home
Sale price now reduced from $240.000
to $190.000.
  Click HERE!
Sarchi home
Modern three-bedroon home in San Rafael de Sarchí. Cick HERE!
 Great deals for you!
SEE OUR OFFERS HERE
Visit our Web Site:
 www.greciarealestate.com
 English: (Cristian Arce)
English:  (Luis Arce)
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)

   (506) 8538-6186
   (506) 7100-8489
   (506) 8707-4016

  Send us your request to our email: info@greciarealestate.com
7685-2/7/12
Bargain

Real estate for sale (paid category)


San Pedro condo
Condo for Sale in Flor del Este
Lourdes, Montes de Oca San Jose

Located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada 500 meters north of Inglesia Lourdes. U Latina, UCR, and U Fieditas are located within 5 minutes.  Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. Condo is a 3-story. Three/four-bedroom, three and half bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with only one entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. In addition, to security fencing, and electric wire, a recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house. Residence has a telephone communication system to contact the guard house. In addition there is a green park area inside the complex for children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Equipped with an independent wired security system in addition to iron bars on windows and patio doors. Equipped with circuit breaker box and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Also has water storage tank under parking area and water pump to maintain high pressure on all three floors. American-style washer and electric dryer, Refrigerator, glass top stove, and kitchen cabinets included. Other furniture items may be available for purchase.
Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 8876-7399
U.S. Phone:  6630-886-4458  or   (305) 848- 5577
Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799 4041
Email:  sjogringo@yahoo.com
7973-8/23/13

Guaancaate condos
Little Dreams La Colina Magnolias

Great Guanacaste Beach Condos Available

$28,500 - Little Dreams - Ocotal beach studio condo, furnished upper floor condo in great complex just 1 mile from Ocotal beach, 2 miles from Coco beach, great price for this complex.
$70,000 - La Colina - another Ocotal beach 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo, 80 m2 and fully furnished with upgraded kitchen, complex has Infinity pool, mountain views.

$75,000 Magnolias 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhome just 1 minute's walk from Coco beach and the 2 beach clubs in Coco. Nicely furnished, walk to town, 67 m2, perfect location.
Find out more information on these and other condos at my website WendyLovesCostaRica.com. All 3 of these condos are about 35 minutes away from Liberia Intl. airport, no need to drive a long way to get to your condo.  Call for more information, 1-415-670-9382 or 011-506-826-1211. Or email Wendy@WendyLovesCostaRica.com.
7971-6/23/13

Rich Coast Montage
RichCoastRealty.com
Central Pacific Coast Real Estate
- 2 Bedroom House in Gated Community near the beach, $89,000!!
- Beachfront Residential Lots from $35,000! Financing Available
- 2 Coffee Shops and Bakeries Turnkey $40,000/ $120,000 Great ROI
- Lots in Gated Community near the beach from $17,500!!
- 3 Bedroom House in Gated Community, furnished, walk to the beach, $120k
- 3 Bedroom Oceanview House on 5 acres subdividable
into 4 oceanview properties $250k
- 58 acre Oceanview Property subdividable, $169k
and much more....
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718 9891
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
7972-8/9/13

NOW REDUCED TO $680,000
ALAJUELA – PRIVATE COMPOUND OF 4 HOMES - $850,000 TURNKEY
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 gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:
7967-7/17/13

La Cruz finca
La Cruz Finca 223 ha. (558.2 acre)
This beautiful 223-hectare (558-acre) farm is 70 kms. north of Liberia on the Pan-American Highway and has over a kilometer of frontage on the highway. The property is almost 3 kms deep and has good interior roads. The River Sapoa runs year round at the back side of the farm which is almost 1 mile wide with and incredible views over the Nicaraguan border to Lake Nicaragua and Isla Ometepe. Great property for an eco retreat, teak farm or cattle ranch.  At $900 per acre, this is one of the best farm deals around. See details HERE! The seller will entertain any reasonable offer. Price: $495,000 contact: Bruce Hummel. Email: Bruce@bh-cr.com. Cell Phone: 011 (506) 8819-2119, From US/Canada: (816) 987 7166,  www.bh-cr.com
7966-6/16/13

Playa Octal home
Playa Ocotal Beach Home
This home is located in a residential resort complex made up of 40 luxurious, fully furnished beachfront villas, plus a clubhouse complete with poolside bar and restaurant. Bahía Pez Vela is located in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, one kilometer from Playa Ocotal on the North Pacific coast and just 30 minutes drive from Liberia International Airport and three miles to downtown Playas Del Coco. From this home you can hear and see the waves crashing on the rocks of this pristine beach. See it HERE! This is the best priced beach home in Costa Rica! Price $225,000   Contact: Bruce Hummel Bruce@bh-cr.com, www.bh-cr.com - Cell Phone: 011 (506) 8819-2119, From US/Canada: (816) 987-7166.
7965-6/16/13

hree peanel montage
This dream Costa Rica beach house overlooking Carara National Park and the Pacific has been rented continuously for two years. D.C. owners are on site at the house in May and prepping for June 1 Move in and/or vacation rentals and have an unbelievable offer. Already listed way under value, $150,000 Cash or $199,500 with owner financing through May 30th. Note: This was the owner's (14 year residents of Costa Rica) dream home before their relocation to Washington, D.C., Your own salt water Infinity pool, expansive sala and balcony, views from every room. Each room is individually air-conditioned, ceramic tiles, cathedral ceiling; three bedrooms in an international community. Scarlet macaws fly by your veranda each evening.
zen/natural contemporary design ideal for your location overlooking Costa Rica's biological corridor. 50 minutes from San José, minutes from beaches/20 minutes from Jacó Beach. Tour this property online first at www.dreamincostarica.com and if interested contact Barry in Costa Rica through May 30th for a tour. In Costa Rica: 8701-5639 or call Rosemary in the U.S. 239-910-3354. Note: On June 1 the price of this property will increase to over $200,000 after equipping, painting and acceptance of rental income. Don't wait!
7958-6/2/13

La Garita
                                  home
This home was built by a California contractor with all the amenities expected in a 3,000-square foot home.  There is a little less than one acre of land.  There is an 800-square foot shop easily converted to a rental unit or studio.  Located in La Garita de Atenas, 15 minutes to the international airport and 30 minutes to San José.  $225,000. 2487-4500.
xxxx-xxxxx

Casa de Eden
For sale by owner Playa Conchal home. Reduced $329,000

Casa de Eden is an ocean view three-bedroom, 2.5-bath, with outdoor shower, private pool located only minutes from Playa Conchal.  The home is in a private, secure community surrounded by nature but still only 20 minutes to the resort towns of Flamingo & Tamarindo and less than an hour from the Liberia airport. There is 2,600 square feet under the roof, which includes a large outdoor terrace and has phone, Internet & satellite TV. The home boasts luxury finishings: AC & ceiling fans, Frigidaire professional series stainless steel appliances, granite kitchen countertops, marble bathroom vanities, custom wood cabinetry, ceramic tile.  Contact desmondproperties@gmail.com  U.S. 1-800-939-2617 or CR (506) 8349-2025.
www.puntaplayavistas.com
7948-5/29/13

Pirate beach
For sale by owner: Ocean view condominium. Reduced $175,000

Gorgeous two- bedroom, two-bath with private terrace offering spectacular ocean views and built-in energy efficiently. This condo is located in a gated community with low HOA dues and offers amenities including a pool & rancho.  It is located close to a beautiful white sandy Pirates Beach. Only 20 minutes to the resort towns of Flamingo & Tamarindo and less than an hour from the Liberia airport.  Luxury finishings: Pella double panel windows, AC & ceiling fans, Frigidaire stainless steel appliances, granite kitchen countertops, marble bathroom vanities, custom wood cabinetry, porcelain tile. Contact desmondproperties@gmail.com  U.S. 1-800-939-2617 or CR (506) 8349-2025. www.puntaplayavistas.com
7947-5/28/13

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
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/1011.html
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
CR Cell 011 (506) 8718-9891
7725-5/15/13

Arenal Colonial
Property for sale, great potential income
Turnkey business $350K. Rental $1,250/month This luxury home (4,000 square feet and two story private home) is a botanical paradise overlooking beautiful Lake Arenal. Only one block from the lake park and boat ramp. Close to Tabacón hot springs and Monteverde cloud forest. Caño Negro national park and many beautiful beaches along the Pacific are only a short drive away. Costa Rica bird watching, wind surfing, fishing, water sports, ecotourism adventures, hiking, tennis and mountain biking are out your front door. Also has a wonderful view of the Arenal Volcano, a safe 25 miles away. Electric gated entrance. Safe private home and entire property. To see more pictures and info, click here: http://www.intertica.com/homes/roy.htm
http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=wKaNmrNyyZtXGg
7933-7/22/13

Jacó compound
Located in Jacó at Barrio Ricos y Famosos in Calle Europa, Casa Shangri La.
Main house: 3 bedrooms, 3 bath 270 square meters, 2 condominiums 2 bedrooms, one bath, 110 square meters, plus one small apartment. one bedroom, one bath. Huge pool, carport for five cars. plus double garage, rancho with pool bathroom,  gymnasium, laundry room, pool plumbing room, huge dog house in separate 500 square-meter garden with aviary for Guacamayas (we have three birds) 60 meters of river front of Río Copey with a 4 meter-high protective and retention stone wall. Eight surveillance camera CCTV system with Internet access from anywhere. Over 2 meter-high brick wall all around the property with two layers of razor wires on top, the safest place to be! Electronic entrance gate, door phone, five telephone lines, high-speed Internet wireless access everywhere. Beautiful gardens with many fruit trees. Price $ 1,350.000 negotiable. All fittings and furniture, included even a car. Owner financing available. German-built, excellent quality and well maintained. More photos on request. http://www.intertica.com/ocean/wolfgang.htm
7929-7/18/13

Monte Mar
Hacienda Monte Mar
Gated Community near the beach
SALE on our last 4 lots! Starting at just $17,500 with financing available.
Reserve today with just $5,000 down
Great Retirement Home, Vacation Home, or investment option!
Lots of wildlife on the property. Gated front entrance, caretakers on site,
security and lawn maintenance.
Water and power on site.
http://www.haciendamontemar.com/
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891
7928-8/9/13

Nicoya views
Property with ocean and gulf view for sale
Tranquil million dollar view, 5,000-sq.meter property with 3/2 home built to American standards, artistically designed and decorated, 16-foot ceilings of mango and tamarindo, appliances, plunge pool, rancho, caretaker apartment, workshop, covered parking, views of Gulf of Nicoya and ocean, in countryside near San José to Caldera highway. Near the lovely town of Esparza. Can provide extra income from bed and breakfast room rental and stellar Tripadvisor reviews. www.oasisbytheseabandb.com $180,000 506-8869-9274.
7882-4/15/13

FOR SALE BY OWNER
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 landofpalms@hotmail.com.
7869-4/6/13

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. jungalow@gmail.com.
7845-8/18/13

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.
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/1060.html
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005  CR Cell 8718-9891
7766-6/17/13

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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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

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Second language acquisition
related to shape perception


By the Association for Psychological Science news staff

Some people seem to pick up a second language with relative ease, while others have a much more difficult time. Now, a new study suggests that learning to understand and read a second language may be driven, at least in part, by the ability to pick up on statistical regularities.

The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Some research suggests that learning a second language draws on capacities that are language-specific, while other research suggests that it reflects a more general capacity for learning patterns. According to psychological scientist and lead researcher Ram Frost of Hebrew University, the data from the new study clearly points to the latter:

“These new results suggest that learning a second language is determined to a large extent by an individual ability that is not at all linguistic,” says Frost.

In the study, Frost and colleagues used three different tasks to measure how well American students in an overseas program picked up on the structure of words and sounds in Hebrew. The students were tested once in the first semester and again in the second semester.

The students also completed a task that measured their ability to pick up on statistical patterns in visual stimuli. The participants watched a stream of complex shapes that were presented one at a time. Unbeknownst to the participants, the 24 shapes were organized into 8 triplets — the order of the triplets was randomized, though the shapes within each triplet always appeared in the same sequence. After viewing the stream of shapes, the students were tested to see whether they implicitly picked up the statistical regularities of the shape sequences.

The data revealed a strong association between statistical learning and language learning: Students who were high performers on the shapes task tended to pick up the most Hebrew over the two semesters.

“It’s surprising that a short 15-minute test involving the perception of visual shapes could predict to such a large extent which of the students who came to study Hebrew would finish the year with a better grasp of the language,” says Frost.

According to the researchers, establishing a link between second language acquisition and a general capacity for statistical learning may have broad implications.

“This finding points to the possibility that a unified and universal principle of statistical learning can quantitatively explain a wide range of cognitive processes across domains, whether they are linguistic or nonlinguistic,” they conclude.

This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation and by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


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