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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, in Vol. 13, No. 196                 Email us
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Cascata del Bosco





hooked turtle
Drexel University photo

Hooked
turtle


Longline fishing is a major threat to eastern Pacific sea turtles as well as sharks, new research says.

The report says that 699,000 olive ridley and 23,000 green turtles were hooked from 1999 to 2010.

The story is HERE!



New law would bar foreign sex offenders for 50 years
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers moved Wednesday to jack up the penalties for producing or distributing child pornography and also to modify the immigration law to bar convicted sex offenders for 50 years.

The changes in the pornography laws have been in the works since mid-2011. But the change in the immigration law appears to have been added recently, perhaps in response to the deportation of a twice-convicted child molester from Jacó.

The changes in the pornography laws are mainly to lengthen the jail sentences.

Production or reproduction of child pornography will go from one to four years to four to eight years when the measure gets a second positive vote.

Possessing child pornography will go to a term of one to four years from the current six months to two years.

Distributing child pornography will merit a term of from five to 10 years, up from the current one to four years.
The legislation also adds a section to the penal code that punishes anyone who distributes child pornography that uses images of an adult pretending to be a minor or uses drawings or other techniques that do not involve real children. The penalty is six months to two years in prison. The section would fill a gap in the current law.

The immigration change instructs immigration officers at the borders and entry points to reject anyone who has been convicted of a serious crime in the last 10 years either in Costa Rica or elsewhere. The measure also forbids entry to anyone who is being charged elsewhere with a sex crime even if the case is not concluded. And then there is the 50-year ban on convicted sex offenders, essentially a prohibition for life.

The immigration officers are supposed to use computer hookups to check on would-be visitors.

The package of changes received its first approval from the Comisión Plena I, a subdivision of the full legislature empowered to act of non-contentious measures. A second vote is required on a non-consecutive day, so the vote probably will be next week.


One rainy system moves on but another shows up
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national weather service appears to have called conditions correctly Wednesday.

At 9:30 a.m. the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that rainy weather has moved to the northwest over the Caribbean.  That was the low pressure area that brought rain earlier in the week. But the weather service said that there would be more rain in the afternoon.

About an hour later, the weather institute amplified that report and said that higher temperatures and wind for the Pacific were bringing in more moisture that would develop into strong rains along the Pacific coast, in the Central Valley and in the northern zone. The prediction, which was correct, called for intense downpours, lightning and some strong winds. The institute also said correctly that the rain would continue through the early hours of the evening.

The Consejo was expecting more slides where there were steep grades alongside the highways.

Wednesday Upala in the north got 65.4 millimeters, a bit more than 2.5 inches, nearly all of it between 3 and 5 p.m., according to the weather station there.

The automatic station at Juan Santamaría airport showed that 35.2 millimeters of rain, slightly less than 1.5 inches, had fallen after 7 a.m. Wednesday.
That was on top of the 41.8 millimeters, 1.64 inches,  in the previous 24 hours.

There was 32.3 millimeters (1.27 inches) in San José at the weather institute headquarters in Barrio Aranjuez. Turrialba got about the same with 32.8 millimeters.

An automatic station in Liberia registered 44.3 millimeters (1.75 inches), but there was no rain reported at Daniel Oduber airport.  There also was no rain at all in Limón, according to the automatic stations there.

By 5:45 p.m. the first report of road problems came in from the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad. The InterAmericana Norte was closed at Esparza because of a landslide. That problem was cleared up and traffic reestablished later in the evening. But the bridge on Ruta 32 at the Río Parismina  near  Guácimo had failed forcing motorists to take alternate routes.

There also was a slide at Cambronero on the InterAmericana about 4 p.m., and the heavy rain was preventing workers from clearing away the mess, the Consejo said.

The highway on the northeast side of Lake Arenal also was reported closed.

Today rains are expected to continue but not as strongly.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 196

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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.


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Circunvalacion
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo 
  Steel sheets nearly 60 feet tall have been installed as part of
  the project.


Road officials give assurance
Circunvalación work is OK

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As the rains fell Wednesday and motorists were struggling with roads saturated by water and vehicles, the nation's road agency said all was going well at the Circunvalación work site.

This is the location where a concrete channel is being constructed for the Río María Aguilar so that a washout can be spanned by temporary bridges.

By late evening the officials of the Consjeo Nacional de Vialidad certainly had their fingers crossed and another tour of the site scheduled for today to inspect the impact of Wednesday rains, but in a press release they seems confident.

The explanation given by the road agency about progress at the site was more detailed than usual. Workers are building two steel walls from pieces of metal 18 meters (about 60 feet) high and two or three meters wide. They also are driving pilings and pouring concrete walls that hold the sheet steel in place with anchors. This work is progressing on either side of the washout.

The collapse of the drainage system at the four-lane highway is a highly visible aspect of the nations road problems, even though it cannot be viewed directly. All over the Central Valley roads are jammed by vehicles whose drivers would prefer to take the Circunvalación, the city's southern bypass route.

Several months will pass before the temporary bridges are erected again at the collapsed part of the road. The construction work there now is mainly to provide a firm place to set the bridges. Afterwards, workmen will concern themselves with a new system of guiding the river under the road.


concrete
                                                          wall
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo   
   Workmen are seen atop the new concrete wall on which the
   temporary bridges will set.




Golfito will be host in April
of major sports fishing tourney

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Presidential Challenge sport fishing competition plans a three-day tournament where anglers seek out game fish with a base in Golfito.

The dates are from April 24 to 27 with Hotel Casa Roland Marina Resort being the headquarters.  Boating action will be at two nearby marinas, Fish Hook and Banana Bay, said the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation, Inc.

This is the first time in 18 years, that the tournament will be based in Golfito, an announcement said. The former banana port is on the Gulfo Dulce in the southern Pacific section of the country.

The event is not for the weekend angler.  The entry fee is $5,000 a team, which can be from two to four persons. The three most successful teams win cash prizes, according to the tournament format.

Proceeds from the Presidential Challenge Events will benefit The Billfish Foundation's Central American and Caribbean conservation projects as well as the Adopt-A-Billfish Satellite Tagging Program and the International Game Fish Association, the foundation said.

The tournament is likely to give a tourism boost to the area.

The Golfito tournament is followed by the Presidential Papagayo Cup June 5 to 8 from Marina Papagayo in northern Costa Rica. Both are part of a series of sport fishing tournaments.


Final U.S. ban on game fish
due soon, proponents report


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

When the Billfish Conservation Act was signed into U.S. law nearly a year ago, conservationists worldwide expected that the globe’s largest market for imported marlin, sailfish, and spearfish would soon be closed.

Although the challenge of getting a bill passed through the legislative process was won, there is still work to be done to make sure the measure will be properly enacted, said the International Game Fish Association.

The association and the organization Wild Oceans met last week with Fisheries senior fisheries staff members to discuss progress on implementing the new law. Both organizations reported that they learned that a complete ban on the sale of billfish in the mainland United States is nearing reality. 

The Billfish Conservation Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama Oct. 5, 2012, prohibits the sale of all marlin, sailfish, and spearfish in the continental United States and effectively eliminates an estimated 30,000 billfish being imported each year from foreign countries, the organizations said.  In April the fisheries section of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a proposed rule and sought comments.  Of particular concern is whether or not billfish harvested in Hawaii and nearby U.S. territories under an exemption for traditional Pacific island fisheries may be shipped to the mainland, said the two organizations.

When the International Game Fish Association and Wild Oceans, through a joint Take Marlin Off the Menu campaign, promoted the creation of the Act in 2011, the intent was to completely close the mainland to importation and sale of all billfish, thus ending a sizable foreign market, while still allowing the traditional local consumption of billfish in the Hawaiian Islands, they said.  After the act was signed into law, both groups immediately began working with legal and trade experts to emphasize the law’s intent to federal officials, they said.  Both organizations have said they have submitted detailed comments on the proposed rules

The organization's position is that the act was intended as a mechanism to conserve imperiled billfish and not to replace foreign origin billfish in the mainland United States with fish caught under the domestic exemption. Allowing billfish harvested in Hawaii to be shipped and sold to the mainland, where imports are prohibited, would violate international trade law, they noted.

So far the federal fisheries officials are interpreting the law as a complete prohibition on possession and sale of billfish covered by the Act in the continental United States and will continue to do so until it issues a final rule, said the organizations.  A federal enforcement order that existing billfish product on the mainland be destroyed or donated to charity. 

Federal fisheries officials said they intend to issue a proposed rule by the end of this year or early 2014, the organizations reported.


U.S. returns the favors ejecting
three Venezuelan diplomats


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States has expelled Venezuela's top diplomat and two others, after Venezuela kicked out three U.S. diplomats it accused of plotting sabotage.

The Caracas government criticized the U.S. response, saying the Venezuelan diplomats had not been meeting with groups opposed to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had accused U.S. Charge d'Affaires Kelly Keiderling and the two other U.S. officials of conspiring with the South American nation's political opposition when he announced their expulsion Monday. Ms. Keiderling ranks as the top U.S. diplomat in Venezuela since the two countries have not had ambassadors in each other's capitals since 2010.

The U.S. State Department has said it rejects allegations the U.S. was involved in any type of conspiracy to destabilize Venezuela's government. The U.S. Embassy in Venezuela and Keiderling herself said the diplomats' trip to Bolivar state was part of normal diplomatic engagement.

The State Department said it is regrettable that the Venezuelan government has again decided to expel U.S. diplomatic officials on what it called groundless allegations. The department called the move counterproductive to the interests of both countries.

The dispute is a clear setback in Washington's attempts to improve ties with Caracas after the death of leftist leader and long-standing U.S. foe Hugo Chávez.


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Another turtle
Drexel University photo
A hooked turtle fights against the pull of the longline fishing gear.
Longline fishing called major threat to sea turtles and sharks
By the Drexel University news staff

The second-most-common catch on Costa Rica’s longline fisheries in the last decade was not a commercial fish species. It was olive ridley sea turtles. These lines also caught more green turtles than most species of fish.

These findings and more, reported in a new study in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, indicate that the Costa Rican longline fishery represents a major threat to the survival of eastern Pacific populations of sea turtles as well as sharks.

The researchers argue that time and area closures for the fisheries are essential to protect these animals as well as to maintain the health of the commercial fishery.

The research was conducted by a team from Drexel University, the Costa Rican non-profit conservation organization the Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, known as Pretoma, and a U.S. non-profit working in Costa Rica, The Leatherback Trust.

The researchers used data from scientific observers on longline fishing boats who recorded every fish and other animal caught by the fishermen from 1999 to 2010 and the locations of the captures and fishing efforts. Those data provided the basis for a mathematical analysis of the fishery resulting in maps of geographic locations and estimates of the total number of captures of sea turtles in the entire fishery.

The most commonly targeted fish, mahi mahi, was also the most common species caught in the Costa Rican longline fishery.

But the researchers were surprised by their finding that olive ridley turtles, internationally classified as vulnerable, were the second-most-common species caught.

They estimate that more than 699,000 olive ridley and 23,000 green turtles were caught during the study period 1999 to 2010.

Although about 80 percent of captured sea turtles are released from longlines and survive the experience, at least in the short term, long-term impacts are not yet adequately measured.

“It is common to see sea turtles hooked on longlines along the coast of Guanacaste in Costa Rica. We can set some free but cannot free them all,” said James Spotila, a professor of environmental science at Drexel. “The effect of the rusty hooks may be to give the turtles a good dose of disease. No one knows because no one holds the turtle to see if its gets sick.”

Spotila, a co-author of the study, has been studying sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica with colleagues and Drexel students for 23 years. The university is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The researchers also noted that even a few deaths of reproductive females may have a significant toll particularly  when longline operations are held in shallow waters of the continental shelf close to nesting beaches.  They reported that declines in olive ridley nesting populations in Ostional, where massive nesting occurs, were associated with these captures.

In addition to mahi mahi, other species targeted in the Costa Rican longline fishery were tunas, sharks and marlins.

The researchers observed that longlines caught large numbers of mahi mahi, silky sharks, stingrays, sailfish and yellowfin tuna.

But the fishing patterns showed that shark populations have declined in numbers and that sharks have become smaller over 11 years.  Adult sharks were generally small, and juvenile sharks alarmingly abundant, suggesting that some shark species were being overfished, the researchers said. Overall, only 14.6 percent of the abundant silky sharks observed during the study period were sexually mature.  In 2010, the last year of the study, average fork length of silky sharks was 97 centimeters, a bit over 38 inches, they said. This is far far below the observed 144 centimeter average, about 56.7 inches  for mature adults. These decreases in size of silky sharks through time indicated
a reduction in relative numbers of adults in the population.

Additionally, many small blacktip sharks were captured in an area near the Osa Peninsula, indicating that fishing was occurring at a nursery ground for that species, the researchers said.

The small size of adult sharks and large numbers of juveniles captured suggest that species are being overfished, they added.

In addition to these indicators of overfishing of sharks, the researchers warned of broader uncertainty about the health of the fishery. They said that capture of large numbers of mahi-mahi does not guarantee that that population is sustainable because the available data can not determine if mahi mahi will remain abundant or decline.

Based on these findings, the researchers caution that populations of fish affected by the Costa Rican longline fishery may be in danger of collapse and that there are insufficient scientific data to predict whether and when such a collapse will occur and in what species.

To better manage the fishery and protect the threatened and endangered species of sea turtles in Costa Rica, the researchers argue that policy makers in Costa Rica must enforce time and area closures for longline fishing.

They criticize both the fishing industry and the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura, the fisheries management agency of the government, for failing to recognize that the fishery is unsustainable and failing to enforce existing fisheries laws, such as those against landing of shark fins and harming of sea turtles. The fisheries institute is known as  INCOPESCA.

“INCOPESCA has failed to adequately study and regulate the fishery in Costa Rica for many years. It does not even enforce national laws. Board members have serious conflicts of interest because they are commercial fishermen,” said Randall Arauz, president of Pretoma and a leader in marine conservation. “Until INCOPESCA is reformed in such a way that the board of directors is eliminated and its mission is to defend the public interest, neither the fish nor the turtles will be safe.”

Arauz, a co-author of the study, has been studying sea turtles and fisheries in Costa Rica for more than 30 years. He directed the at-sea observer program that collected the data on longline boats that were the basis for this study.

Aurauz and Spotila argue for the need to establish well-enforced marine protected areas where both turtles and fish are safe from longlines. They also recommend targeted seasonal closures to longline fishing in coastal waters close to the main turtle nesting beaches when and where sea turtle interactions with the fishery are highest.

They further recommend a general seasonal longline fishery closure for five months, from June to November, which can shift, according to the seasonal abundance of mahi mahi.

To enforce these recommendations and provide needed data to manage the fishery, they recommend placing observers on at least half of longline boats, as was done in Chile. Education of local fishermen would improve their fishing techniques and encourage them to release sea turtles unharmed.

“There is still time to save both the fishery and the turtles if action is taken soon,” Arauz said.

In pursuit of such action, Pretoma and The Leatherback Trust are providing leadership for a coalition of environmental groups in Costa Rica who have united for a special marine conservation initiative called “Front for Our Oceans” .

For fish and turtle populations to recover successfully, Spotila, who is also chairman of the board of The Leatherback Trust, said, “the challenge is to collect good data on the fishery, establish protected areas of refuge for the animals and to encourage or force INCOPESCA to enforce the laws that have been already passed by the national legislature. What is being done up until now obviously is not working.”


Election campaign season kicked off with formal ceremony
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones formally opened the political season Wednesday with a ceremony.

The electoral process is controlled closely in Costa Rica. For example, firms that do voter preference surveys must register with the tribunal.

Wednesday the banner of the Fuerza Pública came into the hands of Luis Antonio Sobrado González, the president of the election tribunal.

That symbolic act meant that the 14,000 members of the police force will be under the control of the tribunal with regard to election activities and are committed to defend the purity of the vote.

Sobrado urged citizens to vote, although the campaign is generating little enthusiasm now. He warned against casting a blank vote or not showing up at the poll at all.

The election tribunal wants citizens to vote with their heads, so they have expressed unhappiness in the past with the hard-hitting television commercials that win elections.  Sobrado said he thought that the electorate had matured.

He urged citizens to ask questions about policies and proposals of the various candidates.

Part of the reason that the public has not become excited by the Feb. 2 elections is because Johnny Araya Monge, the former San José mayor, has a commanding lead.
election
                  begins
Partido Liberación Nacional photo
Luis Antonio Sobrado González, president of the election tribunal, accepts the banner of the Fuerza Pública as a symbol of the transfer of power from Mario Zamora Cordero, the security minister.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 196
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Surveillance and new laws reduce world freedom on the Internet, study says
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Broad surveillance, new laws controlling Web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove a worldwide decline in Internet freedom in the past year, according to a new study released Wednesday by Freedom House. Nonetheless, "Freedom on the Net 2013" also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.

“While blocking and filtering remain the preferred methods of censorship in many countries, governments are increasingly looking at who is saying what online, and finding ways to punish them,” said Sanja Kelly, project director for "Freedom on the Net" at Freedom House. “In some countries, a user can get arrested for simply posting on Facebook or for liking a friend’s comment that is critical of the authorities,” she added.

"Freedom on the Net 2013," which identifies key trends in Internet freedom in 60 countries, evaluates each country based on obstacles to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights.

An uptick in surveillance was the year’s most significant trend. Even as revelations by former contractor Edward Snowden prompted an important global debate about the U.S. government’s secret surveillance activities, "Freedom on the Net 2013" found that 35 of the 60 countries assessed had broadened their technical or legal surveillance powers over the past year.
Such monitoring is especially problematic in countries where it is likely to be used for the suppression of political dissent and civic activism. In several authoritarian states, activists reported that their e-mail and other communications were presented to them during interrogations or used as evidence in politicized trials, with repercussions that included imprisonment, torture, and even death.

Many governments, fearing the power of social media to propel nationwide protests, also scrambled to pass laws restricting online expression. Since May 2012, 24 of the 60 countries assessed adopted legislation or directives that threatened Internet freedom, with some imposing prison sentences of up to 14 years for certain types of online speech.

Overall, 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experienced a decline in internet freedom. Notably, Vietnam and Ethiopia continued on a worsening cycle of repression. Venezuela stepped up censorship during presidential elections, and three democracies, India, the United States, and Brazil, saw troubling declines.

Iceland and Estonia topped the list of countries with the greatest degree of internet freedom. While the overall score for the United States declined by 5 points on a 100-point scale, in large part due to the recently revealed surveillance activities, it still earned a spot among the top five countries examined. China, Cuba, and Iran were found to be the most repressive countries in terms of internet freedom for the second consecutive year.


 
Vacation, travel and hospitality
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A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Business
wanted
Real estate wanted

Real estate rental services (paid category)

See our listing of real estate brokers on the for-sale page.

Real estate for rent (paid category)

Unfurnished 2-bedroom 2-bathroom house.. One large room for living room, dining room and kitchen. Separate bath.  2 bedrooms with bath on second floor. Washroom. Large 3-bay garage with bathroom, secure  for warehousing and storage. Located  approximately 6 miles east of San José and 1 mile west of Concepcion Tres Rios.  Map on request.  Telephone installed, cable and Internet available.  $250 a month plus utilities. 6 months minimum lease, deposit. Available after Oct. 15.  Tel. 2256-9426 bobbyruf@ice.co.cr 
8100-11/3/13

COMPLETELY and nicely furnished apartments
apartment view
in San José, and one condo in Escazú. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Both convenient locations. No pets. $600 per month. Contact: rentnowcr@gmail.com or call 8555-9819.
8095-1020/13

prime
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ATTENTION EXPATS:
 
We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
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Lovely cottage on private coffee farm
One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed DSL internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone line,
Sarchi cottage
balcony with beautiful view, especially at night with the far off lights of San José. Farm is gated and guarded, private and peaceful, owner on-site. Sarchi is a quiet small town about 30-40 min from the airport, a perfect base to explore from and also get a
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8093-10/16/13

house for rent
House for rent on a large property surrounded by fruit trees and garden on a bus line. Fully furnished, complete laundry room, two bedrooms plus extra room for office, security, electric gate, Internet available.  Located in Monte de la Cruz, San Rafael de Heredia. $475 monthly. Call 2267-6306  Or email: bonillaleda@yahoo.com.
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Cute rental house
Beautiful and cozy mountain cottages
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Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part 
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Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.
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7875-4/11/13

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 196
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Obama meets with lawmakers
but there is no agreement


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In a meeting at the White House late Wednesday, President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders failed to resolve differences and stop the federal government shutdown. 

House and Senate leaders emerged from the White House after meeting with the president for about an hour, and based on their statements, the news was not good.

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, was the first to the microphones:

"In times like this, the American people expect their leaders to come together to try to find ways to resolve their differences.  The president reiterated one more time tonight that he will not negotiate," said Boehner.

Boehner repeated the offer by House Republicans to go to conference negotiations to try to resolve differences.

But he gave no indication of any progress during what he called a nice and polite conversation with Obama and Democratic leaders, who he said should listen to the American people and have a serious discussion.

A clearly disappointed and angry Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Boehner spoke in the meeting only about negotiations for a short-term funding measure to get government operations going.

Reid said President Obama strongly rejected anything that would damage Obamacare, the health care reform law Congress passed three years ago. 

"This has never happened before. They can make all the historical analysis that they want, it just has never happened before where a political party would be willing to take the country to the brink of financial disaster and say we're not going to allow us to pay our bills.  The president said he would not stand for that," said Reid.

Reid blamed what he called Tea Party-driven members of the House for pushing the country to a government shutdown and in the direction of a potential default.  Congress must raise the government's debt ceiling by Oct. 17.

House Democratic Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said Republicans keep moving the goal posts on the budget issue, as they try to overturn Obamacare, but she suggested a way forward.

"I am just saying for the good of the order and the confidence of the American people, we should take the debt ceiling debate off the table.  The United States of America will always honor the full faith and credit of our country," said Ms. Pelosi.

In an interview with CNBC, President Obama acknowledged being exasperated by the government shutdown, which he called entirely unnecessary.

"When you have a situation in which a faction is willing potentially to default on U.S. government obligations, then we are in trouble, and if they are willing to do it now they will be willing to do it later," said President Obama.

Obama said he would be open later to having a reasonable, civil, negotiation on broader budget issues.

A White House statement said Obama made clear to congressional leaders that he will not negotiate over the need for Congress to act to reopen the government or to raise the debt limit.

It said Obama was glad the leaders were able to engage in a useful discussion and he remains hopeful that common sense will prevail.

Obama administration pressure on Republicans included a meeting Wednesday in which the president and key business leaders discussed the dangers of default and the ongoing shutdown.

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, say Republicans should not use the threat of default as a cudgel.

"There is a consensus that we shouldn't do anything that hurts this recovery that is a little bit shallow, not very well established and is quite vulnerable, and this shutdown of the government but particularly a failure to raise the debt ceiling would accomplish that," said Blankfein.

The Republican-controlled House has passed spending measures to fund specific parts of the government or programs.

The White House and Democrats reject this, saying House Speaker Boehner should allow a clean Senate-passed bill to come to a vote that would fund the entire government.

 
Visiting veterans admitted
to barricaded memorial


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The National Park Service gave elderly veterans access on Wednesday to the barricaded National World War II Memorial, the site of a skirmish in the partisan war over the U.S. government shutdown.

Veterans will be allowed into the memorial under the Constitution's First Amendment, which includes the right to free speech and assembly, said National Park Service spokeswoman Karen Cucurullo.

“It's allowed by law,” she said, adding that a handful of other sites also were open as a “First Amendment demonstration.”

World War II veterans, many in wheelchairs, and up to a dozen Republican lawmakers pushed open barricades on Tuesday to get into the 7.4-acre memorial on the National Mall.

The Mall had been shuttered under the federal government shutdown that started on Tuesday after Democrats refused to go along with Republican restrictions on President Barack Obama's healthcare program as a condition of funding the government.

The veterans had long been scheduled to visit, and Republican lawmakers denounced the Obama administration's closure of the site, saying it was an insult to veterans.

The National Park Service opened the site Wednesday to a total of about 500 veterans from Chicago and Missouri. They were visiting under the non-profit Honor Flight program that helps veterans visit Washington memorials.

Tourists also were let in, but once the veterans left the barricades went back up. A handful of lawmakers, mostly Republicans, were there to greet veterans.

“We were about to think we weren't going to get in,” said Frank Hanter, an 89-year-old veteran from Missouri, who was stationed in the Philippines during World War II.

When asked how he felt about being greeted by lawmakers, he said it was “nice, but they probably ought to be working.”

Adding to the partisan wrangling, the Republican National Committee offered to pay to keep the monument open. The Democratic National Committee shot back, calling the offer a silly stunt.


U.S. partisan divide traced
back at least two decades


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The ongoing partial shutdown of the U.S. government is the culmination of years of political polarization in the United States with roots that go back at least two decades.

At the heart of the dispute in Washington is a clash between the two major political parties over the role of the central government in American life.

Political polarization began to ramp up significantly in the early to mid-1990s following the election of Democrat Bill Clinton as president. Republicans won control of both houses of Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years.  Differences over spending and the role of government sparked two government shutdowns.

The bitterly contested presidential election of 2000 in which George W. Bush was elected president also exacerbated the partisan political climate.

University of Virginia expert Larry Sabato traces the deepening of the partisan political battles to President Bush’s second term.

“There is no question that the polarization increased first with the Bush presidency, because of the Iraq war and his handling of Hurricane Katrina," he said. "Then it accelerated once President Obama was elected.”

The partisan divide grew wider when Obama pushed his signature health care reform law through Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote.  That in turn helped to fuel the rise of conservative Tea Party groups around the country, an important conservative voting bloc within the Republican Party.

The health care law, also known as Obamacare, is at the heart of the current shutdown dispute between the White House and Congress. Republicans have made several attempts to either defund the law or delay its implementation.  

Obama believes the law is the signature achievement of his presidency and with the support of congressional Democrats is resisting any attempt to block or delay it.

Behind the fight over Obamacare is a sharply divergent view over the role of government, says Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown.

“Republicans like smaller government and lower government spending and therefore are more opposed to Obamacare," Brown said. "Democrats tend to be more supportive in general of government solutions to problems and they see Obamacare as the right thing to do to help on the health care issue.”

Opposition to the health care law is led by a core group of conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives, many of whom now count on strong support from Tea Party activists to get elected.

Sabato says many of them are willing, at least for now, to accept the political blame for forcing the government to shut down.

“They will pay a bigger price but they seem willing to pay it in part because most of their members are in completely safe    districts," he said. "The only thing they have to worry about is a challenge from the right in the Republican primary. So they do not want to let anybody get to their right.”

Some of the Republican opposition is also driven by a deep-seeded animosity toward Obama, says analyst Charlie Cook.

“There are a lot of Republicans where if President Obama said ‘up’, they would say ‘down.’  I mean, they will do the opposite just sort of no matter what," Cook said.

For the moment, Sabato sees no quick resolution of the shutdown, which only adds to the political uncertainty given that Congress will soon have to raise the borrowing limit or risk the U.S. defaulting on its loan payments.

“They are so deeply polarized by party and by institution that it is difficult to see, if people stick to the principles they have articulated, how this is going to be resolved," he said, adding that "...it could go on and on.  And of course it will do tremendous damage, not just to our economy but to our image around the world.”

The last government shutdown began in December of 1995 and lasted three weeks.  Analysts say Republicans paid a political price for the shutdown and that the fallout probably helped President Bill Clinton win a second term in 1996.


NSA director denies claim
that cell users can be spotted


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. National Security Agency has tested its ability to collect Americans' cellular telephone location data but does not have a program to collect that information, the NSA director, Gen. Keith Alexander, said Wednesday.
 
Alexander told a Senate Judiciary committee hearing on the government's electronic eavesdropping that the NSA received data samples in 2010 and 2011 to test its ability to handle such information, but the data were never used for any other purposes.
 
“This may be something that is a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now,” he told the committee.
 
U.S. intelligence agencies' extensive collection of telephone and Internet data has been subject to scrutiny since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking information in June showing that surveillance was far more extensive than most Americans had realized.
 
Facing a public outcry, Republican and Democratic members of Congress are writing legislation to clamp down on the data collection and increase public access to information about it.
 
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat and the Judiciary panel's chairman, said at the hearing that he is working on a bill that would tighten oversight of the government surveillance programs.
 
Among other things, Leahy's program would end bulk data collection under Section 215 of the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which requires companies to turn over business records if a government request for them is approved by a secret intelligence court.
 
“I find the legal justification for this bulk collection to be strained at best, and the classified list of cases involving Section 215 to be unconvincing,” Leahy said.
 
Intelligence agencies, and many members of Congress who strongly support their efforts, staunchly defend the data collection plans as essential for national security.
 
The Senate Intelligence Committee is working on its own legislation addressing the eavesdropping issue, which would not go as far as Leahy's proposal. The intelligence panel is not seeking to stop the bulk data collection.
 
Leahy's legislation would also strengthen judicial review by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and require more oversight of the programs.
 
Sen. Ron Wyden, a Republican and a leading advocate for privacy rights, asked Alexander about the cellular location data during a Senate Intelligence Committee last month.
 
Wyden has blasted the intelligence chiefs in the past for what he sees as dishonest answers during committee hearings. He said after Wednesday's testimony that he did not think Alexander had answered the question as completely as he could.
 
“After years of stonewalling on whether the government has ever tracked or planned to track the location of law-abiding Americans through their cell phones, once again, the intelligence leadership has decided to leave most of the real story secret  even when the truth would not compromise national security,” he said in a statement.
 
At the hearing, Alexander also denied a New York Times report on Saturday that intelligence agencies tracked Americans' social media data to see whether they had terrorist connections.
 
The Senate Intelligence Committee had been scheduled to begin debating amendments to its legislation on Thursday, but that was delayed amid the government shutdown caused by Congress' budget impasse.


Brazil's plan to force firms
to store data may be mistake


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

For tech companies in Brazil, the government's decision to target their operations in response to U.S. spying is about as smart as sending an angry email in the heat of an argument.
 
President Dilma Rousseff's plan to force Internet companies to store user data inside the country will not fix Brazil's security concerns and could instead send costs soaring and hurt future investments in a key emerging market for companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, industry executives and analysts say.
 
“It could end up having the opposite effect to what is intended, and scare away companies that want to do business in Brazil,” said Ronaldo Lemos, a professor at Rio de Janeiro State University who has helped draft Internet legislation in Brazil.
 
Ms. Rousseff was outraged after documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden showed the National Security Agency spied on ordinary Brazilians, the country's biggest company Petrobras and even her own communications.
 
In response, the left-leaning president helped put together legislation that would require big Internet companies to house locally gathered data on servers inside Brazil. Otherwise, they will be barred from doing business in one of the world's fastest growing markets for technology and social media.
 
The bill has not yet been made public, and the number of companies in the government's sight is unclear.
 
However, Alessandro Molon, a congressman with Ms. Rousseff's Workers Party who is leading efforts to get the legislation approved in the lower house, recently said the number of companies affected could be counted “with two hands.”
 
In what was interpreted by the industry as another sign of hostility, communications minister Paulo Bernando recently suggested tech companies were not paying enough taxes.
 
An industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, said many companies are still waiting to see the fine print of the legislation, and how it is implemented, before deciding whether to go ahead with investment plans, and some might even consider pulling the plug on Brazil.
 
“It's a terrible idea,” said the source. “And even if the government knows it, they feel they need to press ahead and send a strong political signal.”
 
Even if data were to be kept in Brazilian data centers, it would still be replicated in servers abroad, experts say. Having entire databases in one single country would make the information more vulnerable to cyber attacks.
 
But the government has so far refused to back off its plans, essentially betting that Brazil is too big a market for companies to ignore.
 
“I don't believe these companies will stop their profitable activities in Brazil,” said congressman Molon. He said building local centers would be a small cost for such large companies.
 
Virgilio Almeida, a senior official at the ministry of science and technology, which is also involved in the issue, cited Facebook as a company that should be required to have a greater physical presence in Brazil.
 
“Brazil is the second biggest market in terms of users and yet the company has zero infrastructure in the country. It would be natural, even from the business point of view, to have part of it here,” Almeida said.
 
A study commissioned by the telecommunications industry group Brasscom recently found that the operating costs of a data center in Brazil can be up to 100 percent higher than in the United States. That is mostly due to the high cost of electricity and heavy taxes on imported technology.
 
Installing a data center in Brazil would typically cost $61 million compared to $51 million in Chile and $43 million in the United States, the study showed. Brasscom estimates if Brazil were more competitive it could attract up to $22 billion in investments in data centers in the next five years.
 
“You first have to create the right market conditions for data hosting to be profitable,” says Marilia Maciel, a digital policy expert with the think tank Fundacao Getulio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro. “Even Brazilian companies prefer to host their data outside of Brazil.”
 
And that's why Almeida says the technology ministry is considering tax incentives for companies willing to manufacture servers in Brazil. Electricity subsidies, he said, could eventually be discussed with the finance ministry.
 
The idea of requiring local data hosting gained traction after Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo tried to persuade U.S. authorities to run all further surveillance requests through Brazilian courts. He said his request was rejected during a recent trip to Washington.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

Project completion specialists
Casa del pacifico logo
Pacifica living
A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:

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Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
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We regularly exceed client expectations. We guarantee it.
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Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644
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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


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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
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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.
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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



Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.





Visit our Web Site:
 www.greciarealestate.com




English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 803
5,000 square meters of land and 175 square-meters of construction. HERE!
Grecia
2,000 square meters of land and 200 square-meters of construction.  HERE!
  Send us your request to our email: info@greciarealestate.com
8068-11/9/13

Real estate for sale (paid category)


montage
For sale is a beautiful 50-acre property located in Los Alpes, just 15 minutes outside of San Ramøon. At about 4,000 feet above sea level, this finca provides gorgeous views of the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Ocean in the distance while also offering a wonderful climate year around. The main house is two stories with three bedrooms and two full baths. High quality construction using exotic hardwoods such as almond, which covers the ceilings throughout the entire house. There are also two corrals and a small casita on the property. This location is perfect for a farm-style home or for beginning an agricultural business. This truly is a rare piece of property and is available for $399,999. Price is somewhat negotiable and we will be happy to work with the buyer to make it work! Please call 8816-2478 or e-mail bmcart3@gmail.com for more information ¡y se habla español!
8097-xxx

sunset view
FREE FULL-DAY TOUR and property viewing – San Ramón! 
Come visit us in San Ramón and not only will we show you some great properties but we’ll also give you a FREE day-long tour of this terrific town with a relocation expert who has lived here for many years. Since 2006, CRC has been the area’s leading creator of socially-responsible communities for foreign retirees/investors and locals. “Easy access” to San Ramón does not mean living many miles outside of town, but less than 2 miles from everything you’ll need. Live near town but in an area that only feels a world away. None of our competitors have built a school, donated a water well and completed numerous projects for the community. A few stunning, direct ocean-view home sites of 1.25 acres to nearly 4 acres from only $55,000 remain in one of San Ramón’s most desirable residential communities. Please visit us at www.crcommunities.com or email us at CRCInformation@gmail.com to request a property showing AND your free full-day tour. Overnight accommodations can be arranged. Limited availability so please contact us today referencing “Free Tour” in your email: CRCInformation@gmail.com
8080-10/6/13

Pacific Estates

Pacific Estates is divided into three distinct sections called Pacific Landings, Pacific Hills and Pacific Acres. Pacific Landings includes unique 2 & 3 bedroom homes incorporating pole house construction, cathedral ceilings, balconies on both the front and back of the house and eco-friendly elements. The homes also include granite counter tops, state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen appliances, washer & dryer hook ups, internet connectivity and zone controlled A/C. These homes feature 1,290 square feet under A/C space and 1,537 square feet under A/C space with an optional Loft. To learn more about Pacific Estates, schedule a No Obligation Free Virtual Tour today by clicking here!
8087-10/18/13

Samara church and lot
Commercial lot with great visibility in heart of Playa Sámara commercial district. Located alongside town's largest church, bank, hardware store/lumber yard, mini shopping plaza, and Pali (Sámara's largest supermarket). This lot has a large elevated building platform shaded with mature treees. All this makes for many commercial options.  One block from stunning "blue flag" beach. This is a perfect location for a eco/boutique hotel, restaurant/catering, apartments, or condominium. All utilities to this property. Lot size 1,414m2. Price 325K. Email: mwk350@yahoo.com
8082-10/9/13

Nicoya
                                views
Maui, 50 years ago!
One acre with all services located on the Nicoya Peninsula at about 2,400 feet below cloud level with the most intriguing panoramic views to the picturesque gulf, mountains and valleys, as well as sunset over the Pacific. 60,000 USD, axelspecial@gmail.com    Cell 8916-5550.
8061-xxxxx

Five bedroom home
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Price reduced $100,000 for quick sale. Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach. The home is completely furnished with U.S. products. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances.  To see more, go to YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/user/CasaDelSolCostaRica
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email combrokers@aol.com
88059-xxxx

humming bird nest

Bed & Breakfast for sale and personal home with 2 houses on property of 3/4 acre (3,030 m2) and buildings w/verandas & carport approximately 350 m2. One house at entrance is central to village w/gated parking lot and a 3-bedroom house for rental or employees/family w/carport/yard/gardens. A 50-meter sendero winds to the top among lush gardens where the main house is situated w/2 buildings attached by verandas & stairway to second floor.  There are 2 bedrooms, sala, 4 baths, large kitchen, laundry rooms, work bodega, storage bodega and hot tub on veranda w/tiled shower room.  Home is surrounded by tropical gardens, views of Arenal Volcano, panoramic views of Lake Arenal, private w/school owned property on one side, pasture land on back side and connecting entry gate on other side to Cabinas El Castillo & Fusion Restaurant.  A bird watcher's paradise w/hummingbirds, Montezuma, toucans, butterflies and visits from howler monkeys.  The B&B is listed four consecutive editions of Lonely Planet and the first established B&B in this area.  Photos can be viewed on the Web site: www.hummingbirdnestbb.com.  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email: nidocolibri@hotmail.com
8058-11/15/13

Naranjo views

NARANJO VIEW PROPERTY READY TO BUILD: ALL PERMISSIONS

4254 msq. 1.2 acres - $59,000.00
• 10 minutes to the autopista and Naranjo centro
• Tranquil and Quiet
• Landscaped with fruit trees and flowering plants, and coffee#
• Incredible views - The Central Valley and nature reserve
• Close to public transportation - paved main road
• Building pad prepared and soil tested
• Survey/topo
• All services in place and underground - water/electricity/phone
Email monicacal@mac.com
8034-8/19/13

Guiones retreat
SURFERS PARADISE on PLAYA GUIONES, NOSARA
Approximately half acre on the beach with private path to the surf. Very private three-home complex with pool, spacious patios with two wet bars, barbeque and yoga area. Featuring a three-bedroom ranch style home plus a two story Mexican villa style home with two master suites, large kitchen and living area with ocean views and breezes upstairs and a garden apartment downstairs with separate entrance. A caretaker's or teenager's cottage and lots of space for expansion. PRICED FOR QUICK SALE: $899,000.  Call 506 8867-8883 or heidebob2@gmail.com
8027-1/12/14

Beautiful fully renovated house in Bello Horizonte, Escazu, 446 sq. meters. Four bedrooms; four baths. Price includes all furniture and fixtures - ready to move in! Light, bright and airy....$550,000 USD. Telephone 2288.6451. More details HERE!
8010-7/28/13

Flamingo
                            view
Condo for sale in Flamingo

Ocean view 3-bedroom, 3 1/2-bathroom condo. Designer furnished 1,800 square feet, gated community. Only six units. Huge pool and balcony, pet friendly, parking, walking distance to Flamingo beach, banks, grocery store, farmacia, etc. New building. $349,000 asking. Ask for photos. 8705-0056. or 1-800-536-2322.
7986-8/6/13

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

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

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
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

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

Business for sale or lease (paid category)7115-12/16/11
A successful, local, long-running business for sale.
In the nine years of operation, this company has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose,  Manuel Antonio and Osa Peninsula areas.  And it is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive ground-work that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into a new level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner retiring to another Latin American country. It is now time to turn the business over to a new owner who could expand it to  even greater success.  Details on the business, its history, a strategic analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as a Pro-Forma Income Statement from 2008 through to 2013 are available upon request to aha_jm@yahoo.com
8081-10/9/13

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.

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page


San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 196
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Scientists find bug repellents
that may replace DEET


By the University of California at Riverside news staff

Insects are repelled by N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as DEET.  But exactly which olfactory receptors insects use to sense DEET has eluded scientists.

Now researchers at the University of California at Riverside have identified these DEET-detecting olfactory receptors that cause the repellency. This is a major breakthrough.

Further, the team of researchers has identified three safe compounds that mimic DEET and could one day be used to prevent the transmission of deadly vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, and yellow fever.

Study results appear online this week in Nature.

“Until now, no one had a clue about which olfactory receptor insects used to avoid DEET,” said Anandasankar Ray, an associate professor of entomology, who led the research team.  “Without the receptors, it is impossible to apply modern technology to design new repellents to improve upon DEET.”

The method Ray’s team used to identify the receptors examined in an unbiased fashion all the sensory neurons in the insect, which was the key to successfully finding them.  In their experiments, the researchers used the genetic model system Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, that was genetically engineered in such a way that neurons activated by DEET glowed fluorescent green.  The researchers thus found the receptors, called Ir40a receptors, lining the inside of a poorly studied region of the antenna called the sacculus.

Introduced in the 1940s, DEET has remained unchanged for the past 65 years largely because the receptor in insects for DEET was unknown. Capable of dissolving plastics and nylon, DEET has been reported to inhibit an enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, in mammals that is important in the nervous system. DEET is also unaffordable and inconvenient for use in Africa and other parts of the world where hundreds of millions of people suffer from insect-transmitted diseases.

“Our three compounds, which we tested rigorously in the lab, do not dissolve plastics,” Ray said.   “They are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for consumption as flavors or fragrances, and are already being used as flavoring agents in some foods.  But now they can be applied to bed-nets, clothes, curtains — making them ward off insects.”

Using novel chemical informatics strategies, Ray’s lab screened half a million compounds against the DEET receptor to identify substitutes.  A computer algorithm the team developed identified which compounds are not only predicted to be strong repellents but also found naturally in fruits, plants or animals.  The algorithm predicted nearly 200 natural DEET substitutes; of which the researchers tested 10 compounds.  Of these, eight were strong repellents on flies, of which four were tested in Aedes mosquitoes and found to be strong repellents. Of the four compounds, three are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration as food additives.

“All three compounds activated the same antennal cells in flies as DEET,” Ray said.  “What’s really encouraging is that some of these compounds may be affordable to produce in large quantities.  In the future, using this algorithm, we could find chemicals that activate DEET receptors but are substantially different, with far better properties than DEET. We could find truly novel repellants that have remarkable properties such as large spatial protection and long-term protection.”

With the help of UC Riverside’s Office of Technology Commercialization, Ray is exploring options for commercializing the technology.  The university has already filed two patents on the research. The three natural compounds, identified by Ray’s group, that mimic DEET are methyl N,N-dimethyl anthranilate, ethyl anthranilate and butyl anthranilate. 




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From Page 7:

Country's exports reported to be up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's exports increased 7.7 percent in the first half of the year in comparison with the same period in 2012, the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior said Wednesday.

Exports were $2.9 billion, the ministry said.

Foreign direct investment was up, too. The Banco Central reports that in the first half of the year, the country saw $1.3 billion in this type of investment. The amount was 15.4 percent greater than the same period in 2012, said the ministry.

There was a 97 percent increase in investments in real estate, according to the ministry data.