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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, in Vol. 13, No. 206                 Email us
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Cascata del Bosco







This is the Oct. 5 photo that Costa Rica says clearly proves its case. The Spanish descriptions provided by the foreign ministry have been translated by this publication.


air view of canal
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo
Air photo is key evidence supporting Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An air photo taken Oct. 5 became key evidence Wednesday when lawyers for Costa Rica had a second day to outline their case against the canals Nicaragua has constructed on Costa Rican territory.

The air photo clearly shows a canal being lengthened near the Caribbean and a camp that appears occupied by Nicaraguan military.

Tuesday Nicaragua said that President Daniel Ortega knew nothing about the project and that the person responsible for the canal was Edén Pastora, the former Contra leader who is now an ally and in charge of dredging the Río San Juan.

James Crawford, Costa Rica's lawyer and a professor, presented much of the case. He said that the Nicaragua explanations were not credible. The site was the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

Costa Rica is seeking an expanded ruling that would let workers enter the area and block the canals. The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto noted that Nicaragua has a second chance to make a presentation today and that the court probably will not issue a ruling for several weeks.

The court had ordered both countries to stay off the
disputed territory while the case was being argued.

Costa Rica had the right to conduct some environmental salvage operations, but Nicaragua has had citizens and workers on the land for months.

Costa Rica had not been keeping a close eye on the area because officials were caught by surprise when they learned about the nearly completed canals in early September.

Crawford told the court that the excavations for the canal were clearly the results of a careful plan and Pastora did not simply lose his way and dredge and dig in disputed territory by accident. and decided to dig a hole for himself.

Costa Rica also noted that Nicaragua soldiers were on the site 15 days after Ortega was supposed to have ordered a halt to work there, as Nicaragua claimed.

Lawyers also said that the air photo shows clearly that the work is being done on the Isla Portillos, which is Costa Rican property.

The Nicaraguans are trying to open a deep access to the Río San Juan to bypass a winding river course that is heavily silted. That way shipping can have access. The area is being readied for tourism. The canals are expected to serve as guides for strong surges of the river water.



Electric utility rapped for hiking rates on sick kid
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Talk about hard-hearted utility companies!

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad jacked up the electrical rates on a 9 year old who uses a device 24 hours a day to get oxygen.

The Sala IV constitutional court heard that the utility giant eliminated what was called a preferential rate. The child comes from a low-income family, and the device, known as a concentrator, appears to eat electricity as it produces oxygen.

The court decision said that the family
complained that the utility eliminated the preferential rate without notice and that the effects were seen in the August billing. When the family called the situation to the attention of the utility representatives in Esparza, the employees demanded again the paperwork that said the child needed oxygen, said the court.

The Hospital Nacional de Niños had provided the information, but the utility employees also wanted information on the family finances, according to the decision.

The decision Tuesday said that the actions and demands of the company affected the fundamental rights of the youngster.



Finance ministry going slow on proposed new taxes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance ministry is backing away from any idea that new tax laws are ready to be introduced to lawmakers.

In a brief announcement Wednesday Edgar Ayales, the minister, was quoted as saying that what has been prepared is an agenda for discussion to initiate a national dialogue on the financial problems of the government.

The goal is to identify actions needed to solve the current unbalanced financial system, the statement said.

The minister is convening a number of experts for the discussion.

This is the second national dialogue since July. President Laura Chinchilla announced then that July, August and October will be time for what she calls a national dialogue on the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Casa Presidencial said it seeks the opinions of everyone from health workers to patients on the future of the Caja.

The central government has set up a Facebook page, a Web site and a special telephone number for citizens to express their views. The results will be compiled by December, said Casa Presidencial.
Ayales is expected to outline his plans for a dialogue today. His staffers have been hard at work for months creating what is now being called a menu, a list of options that will be the basis for discussion.

A national dialogue is likely to attract those who profit by the government spending at the expense of those who have to pay the bills. Nearly half of the national budget is borrowed money to support the extensive government social programs, including the Caja.

In three and a half months, a new president will be elected as well as a new legislature. These are the individuals who will be left with the financial problems.

Some consider the Ministerio de Hacienda action to be public relations, a way to say that learned individuals helped draft a tax package.

The  Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados already has issued a statement under the heading "We don't want, we can't and we ought not pay more taxes!"

The association of mostly public employee unions has its own opinions, and that includes attacking what is being called the inequality of incomes and possessions. The views were contained in a news story Wednesday HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 17, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 206

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Srtsmen Halloween

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

Marco Cavallini & Associates
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Architecture-Real Estate-Development

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We have locations in Atenas (servicing Central Valley/Beach areas)
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Real estate agents and services

Colinas photo

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Translations and legal Services
Ms. Monge
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Legal services

FULLY BILINGUAL ATTORNEY
& NOTARY PUBLIC

Arcelio Hernandez

Official English/Spanish translator and interpreter
Serving the international community  since 2001
Lic. Arcelio Hernandez Mussio, Jr.
With over a decade of experience in the fields of:
Family law, criminal & constitutional law, civil & commercial law

Visit the website at:  CRTitle.com
Email: lawyer@crtitle.com
Cell: 8710-9827
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Lawyer ID number: 12.358
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KEARNEY-LAWSON & Asoc.
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 Phone: (506) 2232-1014
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Accountants

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Uncle Sam's
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Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@yahoo.com
7410-4/1/13




traffic
                                                          cop
 Judicial Investigating Organization.     
Judicial agent leads the uniformed traffic officer to a vehicle
for transport

Another traffic officer held
on allegations he took bribes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained a member of the Policía de Tránsito Wednesday and said that he was accepting bribes to ignore vehicle violations in the section of Acosta where he was assigned.

The 46-year-old man has been under investigation for three months, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. He was involved in five such cases, the investigative agency alleged.

The agency said that the bribes ranged from 15,000 colons (about $30) to 70,000 colons or about $140.

The man is the latest traffic officer to be picked up on these types of allegations. Five were detained in September.

Brother of missing journalist
has a plan to help others

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The family of missing British journalist Michael Dixon will mark Friday four years since he vanished in Costa Rica with no trace. But the man's brother is taking action.

Despite many promises by Costa Rican authorities, the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British police to take action, there was no proper investigation and Dixon's family face never knowing what happened to their loved one.

Up to 500 British citizens go missing abroad each year.

But unless there is media pressure, as in the case of Madeline McCann, British authorities seem not to care.

Michael's brother, David Dixon, an IT specialist in London, thinks people deserve better.

He said he is planning to launch a new non-profit organization, the International Missing People Group, to help families around the world who are left to their own devices when their worst fears come true.

Experts agree with him that there should be a global organization to tackle the problem, he said.

They include Sigifredo Perez, the director of INSARAG Americas, a U.N. search and rescue body; Robert J. Koester, a search and rescue specialist and the author of the book "Lost Person Behavior;" and Mark Cleverly, the director of Public Safety Solutions at IBM.

David Dixon now wants British and Costa Rican authorities to endorse the project in order to make International Missing People Group the best it can be.

"When we tried to find Michael, we were fobbed off by diplomats and policemen. We were ripped off by private detectives and blackmailed by bogus informers. We had no idea how to hire a professional search and rescue team, how to organize a media campaign or how to contact other families looking for their loved ones," David Dixon said.

"The past four years have taught us a lot. IMPG will give families the tools to tackle these issues," he added.  

Agents say they wrapped up
major marijuana operation


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug agents detained five persons and conducted six raids to wrap up a complex marijuana smuggling and growing organization with links to Colombia and Jamaica, they said. One of the persons arrested was a Fuerza Pública officer based in La Florida de Siquirres, Limón.

This is the ring that has been responsible for a number of fast boats trying to evade Costa Rican, U.S. and British warships in the Caribbean. The investigation has been a year long and included the discovery of nine kilos of marijuauna on a San José-Limón bus when it was searched in Tibás.

The Policía de Control de Drogas also reported that the ring was responsible for a hydroponics operation to grow marijuana in Sabanilla de Montes de Oca. One of the men detained Tuesday was a refrigeration technician who agents said was responsible for keeping the equipment there running. Another person arrested was the individual in charge of the growing operation, they said.

The ring was linked to a Feb. 8 case in which the the  "USS Legare" chased a Costa Rican boat, the "Blessing,"  100 miles off shore in the Caribbean. Feb. 28 some 3,600 kilos of marijuana were confiscated from a vehicle near Tuba Creek, Limón, said agents.

There also was a boat pursuit in September 2012 when the suspect vessel sunk.

The ring was said to be the major distributor of marijuana in the Central Valley. Raids Tuesday were conducted in Heredia, Escazú and Limón.

The detained police officer was identified by the last names of  Fuentes Montoya. He is being accused of helping the leaders of the ring avoid justice, agents said.

Two brothers with the last name of Brown were identified as the leaders. They also were detained Tuesday.

Corcovado Foundation plans
its 9th benefit dinner Nov. 2


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Corcovado Foundation has scheduled its annual gourmet benefit dinner for Nov. 2, a Saturday. The dinner at a San José location  involves menu items from local restaurants paired with the appropriate wine, said the foundation. This is the ninth annual edition. There will be live music and an auction. All proceeds go to the Corcovado Foundation’s environmental education program.  The foundation may be contacted or reservations by email to: info@corcovadofoundation.org  or calling 2297-3013.


Our reader's opinion
Sales tax enforcement needs
series of expensive stings

 
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Most European countries rely on their value-added sale tax (vat tax) to generate the bulk of their revenues.  It is easy to enforce and those who consume more, pay more, as it should be.  Everyone pays the sales tax, even criminals and drug dealers.  Wow, what a great tax.

It is a tax which is not targeted to any minority group like cigarette smokers, liquor purchases, luxury home owners, etc.  It just targets consumption and no one ever seems to complain about sales taxes.

The sales tax is massively evaded in Costa Rica.  Everyone knows that.  Just about any small shop or store will sell you anything without collecting the sales tax from you.  If you ask for a factura timbrada, they are happy to provide you with a receipt if the consumer wishes to pay the 13 percent tax.  Well, I ask you, how many customers are going to do that.  Like next to none.

To enforce the sales tax is quite simple.  Simply hire about 30 to 50 agents to go around the country and randomly select small shops to purchase items from.  Visit those small businesses most likely to not charge the sales tax. Everyone in Costa Rica knows who they are.  Simply send two agents to these shops, and if the shop or business sells you the product or service without automatically giving you a factura timbrada receipt, immediately slap them with a $1,000 fine or more.

By not automatically providing a factura timbrada to customers, the business is evading two taxes, first the 13 percent sales tax is not collected and paid and the second tax evaded is the revenue from the sale which is more than likely not being included in the business tax return at a 30 percent tax rate.  No receipt, cash sales, classic tax evasion.

When news of this random enforcement gets around Costa Rica, as it will like lightning, I suspect the government will be flooded with money within days.  Everyone will start paying the sales tax.  Plus, as an added bonus, businesses will have to start paying the 30 percent tax on all of their revenue.

From my own personal experience buying various products and services in Costa Rica, I suspect as little as 20 percent or less of the sale tax is being collected and paid from these small businesses and service providers.

Then, if the government needs even more money, simply raise the sales tax to 14 percent etc.  Same enforcement, same rules, no new expensive enforcement needed.
Edward Bridges
Desamparados

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Would-be expats need to be wary of those simplistic pitches
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Graying members of the U.S. population are seeking cheaper retirement locations frequently overseas.

Thousands of Americans have found happiness in retirement elsewhere, but a string of commercial enterprises present a simplistic overview of life abroad and may be setting up many retirees for disappointment and failure.

Promoting overseas retirement is big business. U.S. demographics suggest it will be even bigger. There are expensive seminars, publications, daily newsletters, clubs and consultants. That does not even count the many call centers and individual real estate brokers promoting various projects.

Life overseas can be rewarding, as expats here know. Other countries may not be as much of a bargain as expected. Yet thousands, even millions, are what are called expatriates.  The Association of American Residents Overseas (http://aaro.org/) puts the figure at 6.3 million counting military. That is one of the two principal organizations that are advocates for overseas Americans.  The other is American Citizens Abroad (http://americansabroad.org/). Both are based in Europe but have members all over.

These organizations are non-profits and not trying to sell palm-lined beaches and retirement homes. Many of the members are still at work in businesses overseas, and the issues important to these organizations are technical items like taxation for overseas Americans, citizenship issues, U.S. voting and the lack of Medicare benefits in foreign lands. They lobby Congress.

These seldom are issues mentioned by those fanning the desires of U.S. retirees for a place in the sun.

An example is International Living which made this rhetorical question in an email Wednesday: "Where's the cheapest place to retire?"

"I'm talking about places where you can enjoy a very high quality of life — even a diplomat's lifestyle — at a low, reasonable cost," said publisher Jackie Flynn. The company runs seminars, including a recent one in Costa Rica, and publishes a magazine, emails and even videos. Expats here know that even in Central America prices are rising.

Then there is EscapeArtist.com, which promotes second passports, offshore banking and asset protection.

The most typical sales pitch is for a seaside cottage on a Caribbean or Pacific beach. This is most attractive for expats who never lived on the beach, which happens to be hot and not for everyone. That's why in Latin America, as well as in Costa Rica,  the national capitals and business centers, such as Caracas, Venezuela, are in the cooler hills.

Many retirees are happy at the beach. There is a steady stream of U.S. expats migrating from beaches to cooler highlands all over the world. There also are Americans living comfortably in the beach climate spending their days sport fishing, golfing, gardening and working on their tans.

Beach living points up the principal rule for those who seek to leave  their own country for retirement elsewhere. The mandatory process is to check out the new location and rent before buying.

Americans have been conditioned to purchase rapidly a home in a new area. That might be because of decades of rising home prices or the chunk of cash that comes from selling a U.S. home. This may be an impulse that should be resisted particularly now that real estate is not skyrocketing anywhere. Several months each in different locations can be helpful.

Another problem is what can an expat do after spending a month seated on a veranda sipping chardonnay? Most beach communities, unless they are the expensive tourist locations, lack the infrastructure for recreations or even education. Medical case also can be a problem with the nearest hospital
arriving expats
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
'Ready or not, here we come!'


being kilometers up the road. And so, perhaps, is the chardonnay.

Another pitch made by glib promoters is that there are hosts of locals who speak English. That may be true, but to really know what is going on in a county, basic knowledge of the local language is a must. And if the retiree seeks a little income on the side, perhaps in a small business, language is even more important.

The good news is that the high school foreign language pours back into the brain in the right environment. For mastery and those devoid of the local tongue there usually are reasonably-priced classes. Some are targeted to older expats.

Those who opt for foreign residency quickly learn that the issues addressed by the expat advocacy organizations are real.

Uncle Sam wants his taxes under the government's controversial worldwide income laws. That means taxes are due even on foreign earnings if they exceed $95,100 in a year. Most expats will have local earnings well under the threshold and only have to pay U.S. taxes on U.S. income. But then there is the matter of capital gains.  Uncle Sam wants his cut even if the property is in Antarctica. Plus, as in Costa Rica, income earned in the country is subject to local taxation even if the wage earner is a so-called perpetual tourist who is not supposed to work anyway.

Then there is the matter of residency. Most foreign governments welcome U.S. expats, but they usually want some form of registration along with money. Countries differ widely on what they require, so close investigation is needed. This process may be several thousands of dollars.

Costa Rican expats know the complexities of obtaining residency here, and that is why A.M. Costa Rica suggests getting good legal advice and help.

Expats also have to pay close attention to the local medical system. Almost all will opt for private insurance and private health care even if the country has an extensive public system, like the one in Costa Rica. That is a budget item, as is air fare to visit the grandkids.

They say that a high percentage of U.S. expats return to the home country within the first five years. There are many reasons, but poor preparation is one. Then there is politics. Both International Living and EscapeArtist.com are stressing the financial instability of the U.S. government. Expats have to make sure they do not burn any bridges when they leave because Uncle Sam has a long memory.


Some lawmakers support modified crops moratorium, too
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Both Acción Ciudadana and Frente Amplio have joined the call for a national moratorium on growing genetically modified organisms.

Representatives of both political parties made that announcement Wednesday, which by no coincidence was World Food Day.

There is a proposed law that is being submitted that will establish such a moratorium. Proponents said that the measure will promote organic agriculture, meaning production without pesticides and insecticides.

Several organizations opposed to genetically modified plants have encouraged governmental councils in various cantons to establish local moratoriums of dubious legality.

The measure would allow scientific research as long as the genetically modified organisms were confined and controled so they would not contact anything outside the lab.
Acción Ciudadana was represented by lawmakers Jorge Gamboa and Claudio Monge. Frente Amplio's sole member of the Asemblea Legislativa, José María Villalta, also was present.

Gamboa said that genetically modified plants are a threat to farmers because the pollen cannot be controled from spreading.
Villalta said a moratorium is urgent because genetically modified organisms risk life and biodiversity and only benefit big corporations. He said the future for Costa Rica was in agrioecology, a system of farming that conserves resources.

The campaign, of course, was sparked when Monsanto Co. sought approval to plant several acres of modified corn.

Approval was given, but the company is not held in high regard by some Costa Ricans.

Modified crops have been grown in Costa Rica for years, and a DNA analysis would be needed to determine which crops do not contain modified genes. Nearly any food product imported from the United States and made from corn probably contained modified genes.  An earlier news story is HERE!

Del Rey HOtel

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Long fish
Voice of America photo
Students and staff at the Catalina Island Marine Institute pose with the oarfish.
Really, really, really long fish found by diver in Pacific off Catalina Island
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A marine science instructor snorkeling off the southern coast of California this week discovered the carcass of a rare deep sea oarfish, one of the longest fish in the world.

Jasmine Santana, of the Catalina Island Marine Institute, spotted the silvery carcass of what turned out to be a 5.5 meter oarfish near the coast of Catalina Island Sunday in about nine meters of water. She needed more than 15 helpers to drag the giant, serpent-like creature to the shore.

Staffers at the institute are calling it the discovery of a lifetime. Because oarfish dive more than 914 meters deep, sightings of the creatures are rare and they are largely unstudied, according to the institute.
The fish apparently died of natural causes. Tissue samples and video footage were sent to be studied by biologists at the University of California in Santa Barbara.

The carcass was on display Tuesday for students studying at the Catalina Island Marine Institute.

The carcass will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then the skeleton will be reconstructed for display.

The oarfish, which can grow to more than 50 feet (15 meters), is a deep-water pelagic fish, the longest bony fish in the world, according to the institute.

They are believed to be responsible for sea serpent legends throughout history.

 
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See our Web page: palmarescostarica.us
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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 17, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 206
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Cafetales



Pacific Estates

Congressional deal on debt
just puts off the problem


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The bipartisan agreement to reopen the U.S. government and avoid a debt default removes the immediate threat of financial calamity, but leaves America’s long-term fiscal challenges unaddressed. Lawmakers of both parties are acknowledging that major battles on spending, taxation, and government reforms lie ahead.

First the good news: The United States appears to have dodged a bullet to the nation’s economic heart. But the reprieve will be temporary.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, noted Wednesday’s accord restarts federal funding and extends the nation’s credit limit for just a few months.

“We have got 90 days before the government runs out of money again. We have 113 days until the debt ceiling might have to be raised again," said Warner.

Until then, a group from both houses of Congress will meet to hammer out a bipartisan budget agreement and attempt to address America’s long-term fiscal imbalances.

Even as lawmakers of both parties hailed Wednesday’s accord, they were quick to stake out partisan priorities going forward. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican, pledged to fight to preserve automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect at the beginning of the year.

“Washington actually can cut spending. For the first time since the Korean War, government spending has declined for two years in a row. And we are not going back on this agreement," said McConnell.

Wednesday’s agreement locks in current austerity funding levels until January when even deeper automatic cuts will take effect. Democrats want to replace the cuts, known as sequestration, with other cost-saving and revenue-enhancing measures.

“Sequestration was set up to be so stupid that no rational group of people would ever let it happen," said Warner. "I understand that we have to cut back on spending. But there are smarter ways to do it," he said.

Democrats are likely to press for higher spending levels on education, the nation’s infrastructure, and other domestic priorities. Some Republicans want to spare the military from further budget cuts but are likely to insist on deeper cuts to other areas of the budget to keep overall spending at sequester levels. Many Democrats want new additional tax revenue, something almost all Republicans oppose.
 
Compromise will be key to a larger budget agreement, according to Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

“If there is to be a deal, make no mistake, it is going to have to be a bipartisan deal. Divided government means we have to listen to each other, we have to negotiate, we have to find common ground," said Kaine.

But bipartisanship has been a rare commodity on Capitol Hill, a fact underlined by the fiscal impasse that closed the government and sent America to the edge of default. But the resolution of that impasse offers hope going forward, according to Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican who urged her colleagues to unite for the common good.

“Let us take on the big challenges facing this nation: the $17 trillion in debt. Let us get a budget for the nation. Let us move forward from here, learn our lessons, work together, and get it done for the American people," said Sen. Ayotte.



Drone enlisted to map charts
of undersea beds of coral

By the Stanford University news service

Like undiscovered groves of giant redwoods, centuries-old living corals remain unmapped and unmeasured. Scientists still know relatively little about the world’s biggest corals, where they are and how long they have lived.

The secret to unlocking these mysteries may lie with a shoebox-size flying robot.

The robot in question is a four-rotor remote-controlled drone developed by Stanford aeronautics graduate student Ved Chirayath. The drone is outfitted with cameras that can film coral reefs from up to 200 feet in the air. Chirayath teamed up with Stanford Woods Institute's Stephen Palumbi to pioneer the use of drone technology to precisely map, measure and study shallow-water reefs off Ofu Island in American Samoa.

“Until now the challenges have been too high for flying platforms like planes, balloons and kites,” Palumbi said. “Now send in the drones.”

Chirayath, who also works as a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, analyzes the drone’s footage using software he designed. The software removes distortions caused by surface wave movements and enhances resolution. To link the drone aerial footage to close-up images of corals, Chirayath and his colleagues are photographing reefs from below the water using a 360-degree camera. The result is a centimeter-scale optical aerial map and stunning gigapixel panoramic photographs of coral heads that stitch together thousands of images into one.

Surveys and maps of rain forests have resulted in new understanding of the vital role these ecosystems play in sustaining the biosphere. Detailed coral maps could do the same, allowing scientists to conduct precise species population surveys over large areas and assess the impact of climate change.

The window of time to study these mysterious ecosystems, which provide sustenance and livelihoods to a billion people, may be closing. Pollution, destructive fishing practices and climate change impacts such as warmer, more acidic ocean water threaten corals and their role as habitat for about a quarter of all ocean species.

Scientists have long endeavored to make coral reef maps. However, standard underwater approaches such as hand-drawing maps, measuring out quadrants and taking photographs are time- and labor-intensive and often inaccurate. Satellite imagery through water tends to be distorted by wave movement. Radar can’t penetrate the water’s surface, and sonar doesn’t work well in the shallow water where most corals reside. That’s where drones and Chirayath’s software come in.

When Chirayath first developed his optical software, called Fluid Lensing, NASA hired the young engineer to develop a satellite concept that would image targets such as vegetation and ocean flows on Earth, as well as targets in space. Soon, Chirayath began to think about other applications for the software. After learning about widespread coral bleaching and a lack of accurate reef maps, he dreamed up a camera-equipped drone to do the job.

“I was inspired by the way the human eye works in conjunction with the brain to try to resolve an obscured image,” Chirayath said. He compared his drone-captured coral images to sketchbook pictures of a person behind a waterfall. The person’s face would be heavily distorted in a photograph, but a patient sketch artist could draw the face clearly over time. “It’s an ability to rapidly assimilate a vast amount of data and, in effect, see through strong optical distortions.”

Word of Chirayath’s Fluid Lensing experiments in water tanks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium spread quickly to Palumbi, a professor of marine sciences and director of Stanford’s nearby Hopkins Marine Station. Palumbi invited Chirayath to join him on a research trip to Ofu.

“The lensing takes a huge problem in looking through the surface of the water and turns it into an advantage,” Palumbi said. “It not only removes the ripples but uses their magnification to enhance the image.”

Some of Ofu’s corals, protected by the National Park Service, are 15 to 20 feet across and 300 years old or more. They live in what Palumbi calls the Village of Elders, an expanse of back-reef lagoon that seems to be a perfect incubator for long-lived corals. Palumbi initially plans to use drone-generated maps to measure the location and size – an age indicator – of corals in the Ofu reefs. Then, he will use the drone-captured images to model current flow and water exchange rates in Ofu’s lagoons to better understand climate change’s effects on coral. By overlaying a water temperature map on a census of the oldest corals, Palumbi hopes to gain insights into the conditions that sustain this kind of longevity.

“These corals are time machines that were living before European culture discovered the Samoan islands,” Palumbi said. “What do they have to tell us about that long-ago time? What do they tell us about the likely future?”

Beyond Palumbi’s research, the drone footage could have a second life as art. His project, "Reactive Reefs,"  aims to be an artistically immersive science outreach exhibition that transports viewers beneath the ocean’s surface and conveys firsthand how the world’s coral reefs change as a result of both natural and human pressures. Chirayath dreams of someday using drone technology to precisely map entire oceans and maybe even planets.

Rob Jordan is the communications writer for the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.


When economy goes down,
vasectomies reported going up


By the International Federation of Fertility Societies
news staff

The relationship between economic conditions and reproduction has a long and complex history. In agrarian economies, children are an economic asset, though when times are hard, having children can always make it harder. In the latest example of this kind of research, investigators found that the 2008 financial crisis and recession had an impact on when men had vasectomies.

Researchers from Wisconsin presented data at a scientific meeting that showed that men presenting for vasectomy in the years 2005 to 2008 had on average 3.1 children, a number that fell to 2.3 following the 2008 recession. The investigators stated they “believe this information suggests a direct relation to the economic status of the community.”

“There is much folklore associated with the relationship between economic conditions and reproduction. It is nice to have some actual data,” said Grace Centola, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology.

The meeting was of the International Federation of Fertility Societies/American Society for Reproductive Medicine.


Forget about stressing cats
due to stroking, scientist says


By the University of Veterinary Medicine news staff

A study by an international team of researchers published recently in the journal Physiology & Behavior examined whether cats living in multi-cat households are more stressed than cats housed singly. Many media outlets responded to the study with an incorrect interpretation of the results and said cats hate to be stroked, according to authors.

The co-author Rupert Palme of the Institute of Medical Biochemistry at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, explained: "As a matter of fact, the majority of the cats enjoyed being stroked. Only those animals that did not actually like to be stroked, but nevertheless allowed it, were stressed."

The actual aim of the study was to find out whether cats are more stressed when they live in large groups together or, whether the strict hierarchy of larger groups reduces stress. Neither could be confirmed in the present study. The number of cats per household had no influence on the stress of the animals. Rather, stress in domestic cats depends more on the socialization of the animals, on the relationship with humans, on the space available to them or on the access to food.

The researchers studied 120 cats in 60 Brazilian households. These were divided into three different categories: group I: 23 single-cat households, group II: 20 multi-cat households with two cats; group III: 17 multi-cat households with three to four cats. The cat owners were asked to classify their pets as bossy, timid or easy going in order to assess the personality. Furthermore, the cat owners reported how much each cat liked to be stroked. The researchers measured the stress levels of the animals by analyzing the stress hormone metabolites (glucocorticoid metabolites GCM) in the collected fecal samples. 

Some 85 out of 120 cats were considered by their owners to enjoy being petted.  There were only four cats in the category disliking being stroked. Those cats probably avoided the stroker. The remaining 13 animals tolerated the stroking and were more stressed than the others. "Precisely these 13 animals led to the misinterpretation of the study" explained Palme, "Cats are in no way generally stressed when they are stroked. It depends much more on the situation and the character of the individual animal."



Putin opponent goes free
after sentence is suspended

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Russian appeals court has suspended the five-year prison sentence of anti-corruption blogger and opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Navalny was convicted July 19 of organizing the 2009 theft of some $500,000 from a timber firm after a trial he described as politically motivated.  He was unexpectedly released from prison the following day and allowed to continue his mayoral campaign after thousands of supporters protested in central Moscow.

Wednesday, the appeals court in the northern Russian region of Kirov suspended his five-year sentence, and that of his co-accused, Pyotr Ofitserov.

While the suspension of his sentence keeps him out of jail, his conviction prevents him from running in future elections.

Navalny suggested Wednesday that the court ruling was dictated by the Kremlin.

"This decision to suspend my five-year sentence was not made here, it was made personally by Vladimir Putin," he said. "I do not have an idea of what exactly is happening in his head and why he has changed his decision. It is clear that the authorities are doing their utmost to pull me out of the political fight."

Navalny vowed to remain active in Russian politics.

Last month, Navalny sparked protests by thousands of supporters when he declared Russia's Sept. 8 Moscow mayoral election was rigged to hand victory to an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny said the vote count had many serious violations and demanded a runoff be held between him and Kremlin-backed rival Sergei Sobyanin.

The 37-year-old opposition leader said Monday there was clear falsification of votes and Sobyanin's majority was guaranteed only by fraud. 

Results showed incumbent Sobyanin winning a little more than 51 percent of the vote to Navalny's 27 percent. 

Kremlin-backed Sobyanin was widely expected to win.  He is Russian President Vladimir Putin's former chief of staff.  Sobyanin was appointed mayor three years ago.


California ZIP code has
most expensive housing


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Northern California's Silicon Valley boasts the two priciest ZIP codes in the United States with median home prices of more than $5.4 million, Forbes magazine said Wednesday.
 
Atherton's 94027 ZIP code topped the list with house prices hovering at $6.7 million, followed by 94022 in Los Altos Hills, where homes are slightly less at around $5.4 million.
 
New York claimed five of the top 10 spots on the list, including Manhattan's Upper East Side at No. 3, which dropped from first place last year, and the Long Island beach town of Sagaponack at No. 5.
 
California had four of the top 10 spots. The only other state with a ZIP code on the list was New Jersey, with the city of Alpine, which slipped from second place in 2012 to No. 8 this year.
 
Forbes attributed the technology boom and an influx of wealthy foreign buyers from China and India, as well as American billionaires, for the increasing popularity of Atherton, which jumped from third place last year.
 
Its most expensive home for sale is listed at $33 million. Its cheapest, a two-bedroom bungalow, has an asking price of $1.2 million.
 
Colorado ski resort Aspen just missed the top 10, coming in 11th, followed by Coral Gables in Florida. Miami was far behind at No. 30 and Greenwich, Connecticut, came in at 34.
 
Forbes compiled the list with Altos Research, a California real estate data firm, after calculating median home prices in 22,000 U.S. ZIP codes, which are postal districts. Co-ops, which are popular in some of New York's most expensive neighbors, were not included.



Light pollution said affecting
health and observing the stars


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Star gazing is a vastly different experience today then it was a century ago. Fabio Mezzalira, director of the observatory at the University of Colorado at Boulder, blames the artificial lights that turn cities as bright as day.
 
“People at one time, knew, by default, the sky," he said. "They understood the sky.  They saw it every night, simply because there was no light pollution to be worried about.”
 
Light pollution is now commonplace. The glow of the world's urban areas is even visible from space, in images from NASA's orbiting cameras. 

All that light can affect people's health by disrupting the body's natural sleep cycle, says journalist Paul Bogard.
 
“All life evolved in bright days and dark nights," he observed. "Life needs darkness to be truly healthy. We’re using way too much light."

In his book, "The End of Night, Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light," Bogard estimates people today are missing up to 99 percent of the stars they should be seeing. "You can go to a large city or to an American neighborhood that’s lit up, and you can see the brightest stars, but we quickly lose sight of all the stars that are dimmer than the brightest.  And that’s the real loss." 

Boulder, Colorado, has less light pollution than most cities. That’s because the city passed a light pollution ordinance a decade ago. Among its requirements are that streetlights point down, focusing their light on the sidewalk, rather than shining up into the sky, where the light is wasted. 

Nancy Clanton, a Boulder lighting engineer, and a leader of the International Dark Sky Association explained, "The ordinance was basically saying, let’s start with no uplight, so it says, use what we call full cut-off lights, which are fully shielded."

Real estate-related services (paid category)

Project completion specialists
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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


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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 768
1,000 square meters of land and 350 square meters of construction. HERE!
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 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)


San Mateo pool

BEAUTIFUL PROPERTY IN SAN MATEO, ALAJUELA 3,528 m2

Includes 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-story house built to American standards with a balcony overlooking full-sized swimming pool and rancho with a bathroom and a shower room, and landscaped tropical gardens.  There are two large storage buildings, a carport and electric-gate access to the enclosed property.  It is a short drive to the highways to San José and the beaches.  Owner financing available.  Please call: +506 2446-4901
8116-11/15/13

montage
For sale is a beautiful 50-acre property located in Los Alpes, just 15 minutes outside of San Ramon. 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

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
8115-11/18/13

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. Panama
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A.M. Guatemala
A.M. Honduras
A.M. Cuba
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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page


San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 17, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 206
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Underwater Internet uses
sound instead of electricity


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York are developing an underwater wireless network they’re dubbing a deep-sea Internet.

If successful, it could lead to improvements in tsunami detection, offshore oil and natural gas exploration, surveillance, pollution monitoring and other activities.

“A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time," said Tommaso Melodia an associate professor of electrical engineering and the project’s lead researcher. “Making this information available to anyone with a smartphone or computer, especially when a tsunami or other type of disaster occurs, could help save lives.”

Land-based wireless networks rely on radio waves that transmit data via satellites and antennae. Unfortunately, radio waves work poorly underwater. This is why agencies like the Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use sound wave-based techniques to communicate underwater.

For example, NOAA relies on acoustic waves to send data from tsunami sensors on the sea floor to surface buoys. The buoys convert the acoustic waves into radio waves to send the data to a satellite, which then redirects the radio waves back to land-based computers. This can be a cumbersome process because each system has a different infrastructure.

The framework Melodia is developing also uses sound and would solve that problem. It would transmit data from existing and planned underwater sensor networks to laptops, smartphones and other wireless devices in real time.

The system was recently tested in Lake Erie. Melodia and his fellow researchers lowered two, 40-pound sensors into the water, typed a command into a laptop, and seconds later a series of high-pitched chirps ricocheted off a nearby concrete wall, which, researchers say, showed the test worked.

Melodia says the implications are many.

"We could even use it to monitor fish and marine mammals, and find out how to best protect them from shipping traffic and other dangers," Melodia said. "An Internet underwater has so many possibilities."


Russian scientists recover
part of explosive meteor


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A huge chunk of the meteor that slammed into the Urals last February has been dredged up from the bottom of Chebarkul Lake.

The meteorite could be the largest piece of the so-called Chelyabinsk meteor. When scientists tried to weigh it, the scale showed 570 kilograms before it broke.

The meteor was the largest to hit Earth in a century, causing a blast equivalent to 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs. The shock wave created by the impact injured an estimated 1,600 people.

Sergei Zamozdra, an associate professor at Chelyabinsk State University, told Russian television the excavated fragment was definitely a chunk of the meteor.


Suspected murder victim
found in Santa Cruz hotel


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 67-year-old man appears to have been bludgeoned to death in his Santa Cruz hotel room. He was identified by the last name of Murillo, said judicial investigators.

The man was found about 9 a.m. by a hotel staffer. An initial inspection disclosed evidence of blows to the head and neck, agents said.

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From Page 7:

Oriens to upgrade reservation service

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Oriens Travel & Hotel Management Corp. said Wednesday that the company is making provisions to launch a stand-alone, online hotel search and reservation booking engine to capitalize on the ongoing developments in Central America.

"There is a large and immediate financial opportunity for us in Central America," stated Ken Chua, president of Oriens.  "We are committed to be in line with the rising trends in tourism to specific areas within a region. We now have on-the-ground relationships, affording us economical marketing and sales access to the growing number of hotels in the region. This includes properties requiring a back-end reservation booking service, or access to a complete on-line marketing hotel search and reservation service."

The service is undergoing design, to initially focus on Central America -— although Oriens executives said the company will likely accept all hotels signing up within North, Central and South Americas. At present the company's technology is purely a back-end booking engine service much like HotelProxy and/or Open Hospitality. Like these booking engine service companies, Oriens provides independent hoteliers with online booking solutions. The primary difference being the company's bilateral business model, the firm said. This model affords Oriens the ability to implement and deploy its services to a larger number of properties with greater revenue potential.

However, as things are quickly unfolding for the company and financing appears imminent, Chua said it is imperative that "Oriens must begin to generate real quantifiable revenues that investment bankers and the markets can get behind."

"Over the past years, we have practically given our branded flags and technological services away, almost at a detriment to our financial health. Luckily, sacrifice and persistence has won, and now we are equipped with good management, five flag brands, case studies, an easily integrated booking technology, merger opportunities and investment considerations."

Launching a standalone, online hotel search and reservation booking engine to better position real revenue generation in 2014 and significant investment and acquisition interest is key to building a strong company in this sector, he added.

Oriens, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, engages in the operation of hotels and resorts primarily in the United States and Central America under the Hotel PURE brand. The company also operates the Friendly Reservations Online, an online booking system.