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(506) 2223-1327                         Published Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 224                               Email us
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Lake view
Consejo de Vialidad photo
This is Lake Arenal as seen from the southwest at Ruta Nacional 606 between Santa Elena and Monteverde. A road agency employee sent the photo along as well as some shots of the highway that will be closed today from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.
New drain pipes are being installed, and heavy equipment will be on the scene. This is part of the process of improving the access to Monteverde, which is a key tourist town, the Consejo de Vilaidad said.

CAFTA pact at five years, an unspoken election issue
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's trade treaty with the United States and other Central American countries has wrought great changes here.

The commerce ministry arranged a seminar Monday to promote the treaty and its impact. That summary was the essence. Not all of the politicians running for
president agree, and depending on the vote Feb. 2, the trade treaty known as CAFTA-DR might be in jeopardy.

A major speaker Monday was Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, a World Bank economics expert who helped lay the groundwork for the original treaty. The agreement split the nation and only won approval by just 48,844 votes in a national referendum.
Carlos Felipe Jaramillo
That was less than 3 percent of those voting after a bitter campaign.

The treaty was not really about trade. Costa Rica accidentally became a philosophical battleground between those who support capitalistic world commerce typified by the United States, and those who seek a socialistic course, typified by Cuba's Fidel Castro, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega and Venezuela's late Hugo Chávez.

The seminar Monday marked five years that the treaty has been in force and was the forum for a summary of results.

The approval of the treaty and laws that implement it were engineered by then-president Oscar Arias Sánchez and his associates.

In the current presidential campaign, the treaty is like the elephant in the room that no one wishes to mention. Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, an academic
and economist, opposed the treaty, as did his political party. He is the candidate for the Partido Acción Ciudadana. José María Villalta Florez-Estrada, the candidate of the leftist Frente Amplio, has not done so but has an opportunity to exploit popular economic concerns directing their unhappiness toward CAFTA-DR. He was a surprising second in a recent newspaper poll. Front runner Johnny Araya presumably knows enough not to mention the treaty. To do so is a guaranteed loss of at least 20 percent of the votes.

José Miguel Corrales, presidential candidate of the new Partido Patria Nueva, was a chief architect of the battle against ratification of the CAFTA treaty.
While officials from the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior were discussing the five years of CAFTA-DR Monday, thousands of Costa Ricans were on the street marching for various economic reasons. They will be hard to convince that the benefits of CAFTA have filtered down to them.

In addition, there are several threats of international arbitration under CAFTA provisions. This type of action is alien to many Costa Ricans.

Jaramillo at the seminar noted that the treaty caused a number of legal reforms in Costa Rica. One of these was opening the way for foreign investors from other CAFTA countries to challenge Costa Rican decisions in a World Bank arbitration case.

The Ministerio de Comerico noted Monday that the treaty has reformed the country. There is an increase in exports, there is more investment from outside the country and the telecom and insurance markets have been opened to private companies.

Anabel González, the commerce minister, cited the explosion of mobile telephone services under the opening of the market to private firms that CAFTA provided. No one can deny that the presence of private firms has caused the former state monopoly, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, to improve greatly its customer service. Ministry figures say there are more cell phones in the country now than people.

Tourism teachers attending conference starting today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nearly 40 institutions teach courses and conduct academic programs in tourism, and those who give these courses have been invited to a two-day training session starting today at Universidad Latina in San Pedro.

The conference is being put on by the Comisión Nacional de Educación Turística, which said that there are five universities, 10 private university-level schools, two colegios universitarios and more than 20 high schools in the country giving tourism training.

This is the sixth such conference. The emphasis is on new technologies and innovations for the teaching of tourism, said the commission.

The commission said it expects some 150 tourism
 teachers to attend and participate in discussions of experience, roundtables and talks with tourism operators.

Among the organizations participating are the Asociación de Costarricense de Profesionales en Tusismo, and the Cámera Nacional de Turismo.

Some of the professionals listed on the program are Johnny Garita, head of maintenance at the Hotel Holiday Inn, Escazú; Patricia Forero, general manager of Horizontes Nature Tours, and Jackeline López, manager of administration and sustainability at Mapache Rent a Car. They will speak Wednesday.

Teachers also will hear from Raúl Trejos, development chief at the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones. He speaks at 2 p.m. today.

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NASA graphic    
Graphic depicts the MAVEN probe in orbit around Mars.

Woman from Costa Rica has
key role in Mars exploration

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman from Costa Rica is the deputy project manager for a spacecraft that is expected to blast off Monday carrying a probe that will study the Martian atmosphere.

She is Sandra Cauffman, and the project is called MAVEN, the
Ms. Cauffman
Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission.

Ms. Cauffman, was quoted saying she has worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for 24 years.  The space agency interviewed her for a news release, and she said "When I was seven years old and living in Costa Rica where I was born, I watched the Apollo 11 landing. Ever since, I always wanted to work for NASA. After working here 24 years, I have never had a day that I did not want to come to work."

She works at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and her
job is to assist the project manager to keep the mission on track in terms of budget, schedule and technical requirements, she said.

"I have undergraduate degrees in physics and electrical engineering plus most of a third degree in industrial engineering," she said. "I also have a masters in electrical engineering. This gives me a unique background even for Goddard. My degrees help me understand both the science and engineering aspects of this mission."

NASA featured her in a video about the project in which she spoke Spanish.  The video is the first in a two-part Spanish-language series that aims to make MAVEN more accessible to Spanish-speaking communities, NASA said.

Ms. Cauffman is married with two sons. NASA said that she took her extended family to La Fortuna for Christmas.

"Almost everyone in our family went on the zip line, including my 74-year-old father-in-law," she said in the NASA interview.. "A zip line is a metal line that goes through the canopy from tree to tree at a few hundred feet above the ground. We also rode the Tarzan Swing, which is a swing several hundred feet above the tree canopy. It was scary, but once you were flying through the air it was lots of fun.

MAVEN is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere.  It will orbit the planet in an elliptical orbit that allows it to pass through and sample the entire upper atmosphere on every orbit.  The spacecraft will investigate how the loss of Mars’ atmosphere to space determined the history of water on the surface.

The launch Monday is at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Complex 41 in Florida. The two-hour launch window extends from 1:28 to 3:28 p.m. eastern time, NASA said.

As expected protests snarled
traffic and blocked highways

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man trying to get to work in San José Monday characterized the traffic situation as a nightmare. The reason was another of those strikes and marches by unions.

Similar marches and blockades took place at multiple locations in Costa Rica. At midday, the traffic jam on Ruta 32 from San José to Guápiles and the Caribbean coast was reported to be seven kilometers long.

There were marches in Siquirres, Puntarenas and in the canton of Osa.

The reason varies, but Casa Presidencial had complaints of its own.   Carlos Ricardo Benavides, minister of the Presidencia, stood in for President Laura Chinchilla. He said although protesters have the right to vent their complaints they do not have a right to block traffic.

The litany of complaints are mainly economic. Motorcyclists gathered in front of the main building of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros to complain about the cost of obligatory insurance. The government has set the top rate at 80,000 colons, about $160.

The state insurance firm closed its doors to the public for several hours Monday due to the protest.

Later in the day the insurance firm announced an accord with the Comité Civico Naiconal de Motorcyclistas. The insurance institute would apply to the insurance regulator for a lower insurance rate based on 2011 amounts and it will try to establish a separate class for motorcycles with small motors. In addition, the institute would set up courses to help prevent motorcycle accidents.

Some motorcyclists have no respect for traffic laws, jump red lights, weave among cars and trucks and frequently drive at high speeds down the oncoming lane.

The motorcycle committee appears to be the only protesters who received some satisfaction. Casa Presidencial will try to dock the salaries of those public employees who participated in the strike and march.

Benavides expressed official displeasure that a strike by Limón dock workers caused a cruise ship captain to cancel a port call, thereby keeping 2,000 tourists from the Caribbean community.

The government acted early Monday to ease some of the metro area congestion caused by the protests. Two bailey bridges at the Circunvalación washout between Hatillo and Pavas were opened, one for east and one for west traffic. That was effective later in the day when traffic resembled a Sunday. Not only did the bridges help, but many individuals stayed home to keep an eye on children whose teachers were striking or for other reasons. So afternoon traffic was unusually light.

Ironically, some of the 20 unions that participated are those who are responsible for some of the complaints. Public employees are treated well, and that results in higher prices. One of the complaints was about gasoline that was more than $5 a U.S. gallon. The state petroleum monopoly, Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo S.A.  has been criticized for highly favorable work contracts provided employees and the union. For example, the firm is obligated to provide vehicles to union leaders.

Most agree that the public work force is overstaffed.

A lot of the complaints are beyond the government's ability to solve mainly because it is broke and paying nearly 50 percent of its bills with borrowed money. Although some were protesting taxes, no firm proposals have yet been advanced this year by the finance ministry.

Auto import fraud alleged
against Heredia businessman

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors in Heredia have sought preventative detention against a body and paint shop owner who is accused of taking money on the pretext of importing vehicles for customers.

The Poder Judicial said that the man is the recipient of 12 complaints by individuals who gave him money with the belief that he would import vehicles from the United States. The amount involved is 61 million colons or about $122,000.

The man, who has the last name of Ramírez Bolaños, was detained at his Heredia home Monday, is accused of visiting a firm in Esparza on the pretext of importing vehicles for it.

He also is accused of accepting money for the same reason from customers of his paint and body shop. One car that was delivered  was damaged and did not resemble the description of the vehicle the customer sought, said the Poder Judicial.

Bolivian newspaper complains
of threats from local officials

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The editor of a Bolivian newspaper says the publication and its reporter have been threatened.

The editor of El Deber, Pedro Rivero, reported the campaign of threats waged by the Santa Cruz de la Sierra municipal mayor’s office against his newspaper and its journalists. The Inter American Press Association said it would be paying special attention to how the threat develops because it involved instances of warnings by the city government against the paper for its editorial stance.

Rivero explained that the reaction of the mayor’s office started after reporter Pablo Ortiz’s piece published on Nov. 3 in the El Deber supplement Séptimo Día regarding the construction of municipal offices in parts of the city set aside for green zones which according to experts, would have serious consequences for the environment and the quality of life of inhabitants there.

In a letter addressed to Rivero dated Nov. 6 the local government demanded space equal to what it called “a capricious, biased, tendentious, ill-intended and bad faith statement.” It called for the reply to occupy the same space and length so as to deny what it regarded as “lying, ill-intentioned and libelous information.” It also warned that it would take out a libel suit against Ortiz and the newspaper.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Nov. 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 224
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As the season changes, the nights become great for sleeping
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans in the Central Valley are facing chilly temperatures again with the mercury showing 13.9 degrees overnight in Tres Ríos, Cartago, and 17.6 in San José.

Residents further north in the hemisphere can eat their hearts out because these are Celsius readings. The Fahrenheit readings would be 57 degrees in Tres Ríos and 64 degrees in the Central Valley.

But with a little wind, even those semi-balmy readings can send shivers down the spine.

The upside is that the chilly nights are great for sleeping. The downside is that many Costa Ricans do not have homes with windows that can seal and snug doors. Even some downtown restaurants are uninhabitable when the winds blow.

Such changes in temperature mean that the dry season is coming, the time that Costa Ricans call summer.

The Instituto Meteorological Nacional reports that the dry season probably has arrived in the north Pacific coast. That is about a week earlier than normal.

The season will be arriving a few days earlier in all the other regions of the country, too, with the exception of the Caribbean coast which has season reverses from those elsewhere in the nation.

For the Central Valley, the weather institute said the seasonal change is expected between now and Monday. The average date range is Nov. 12 to 21. The central Pacific estimate is from Dec. 12 to Dec. 18, about three days earlier than
average. The south Pacific should be in the dry season by New Year's, said the Institute. The average is from Dec. 27 to Jan. 5.

The dry season is not welcomed universally. Some areas of the county still are experiencing the results of less than average rain, despite September and October downpours. The totals are not yet available for the year, but by August, the Caribbean coast and the northern zone faced rainfall that was from 20 to
60 percent less than normal.  The Central Valley was down about 17 percent while the central Pacific coast had 28 percent more than normal, according to the weather institute.

The rain has been variable. In the case of Liberia, the community experienced 50 percent of a month's rain in a single day. Some 275 millimeters fell that day, some 11 inches, said the institute.

Of course the dry season does not arrive the same way a spigot is turned off. There will be lighter and lighter rains until mid-December. By March, residents will be
yearning for a good downpour to wash the streets and gutters.

The wind and chilly nights will have some parents decking out their children as if they were stars in the cartoon series "South Park," which is set in snowy Colorado. Even some adults will be wearing those Andean-style chullos with the woolen earflaps. In fact, vendors on the downtown San José pedestrian mall will be ready to sell them.

          Cathedral with Parque Central in the foreground                            La Merced seen from what is now a park
Historic photos provided by Alianza Francesa of two of San Jose's Roman Catholic churches
Historical origins of the city's cross of churches is the topic
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Architect Andrés Fernández will be talking about the historical development of San Jose's five major churches, and his listeners will not even have to walk.

Fernández has been the leader of hikes through architecturally rich parts of the metro area. This time he is giving a formal lecture at Alianza Francesa in Barrio Amón Nov. 19.

Casual visitors to the city may not notice it, but five Roman Catholic churches are laid out to form a cross. Fernández has talked about this previously, but the emphasis was on the architecture. Now, according to an announcement, he will discuss the historical process that injected these churches into the city's plan.
The churches are: La Soledad at the head of the cross. La Merced, the newly renovated church, is at the foot of the cross. The Catedral Metropolitana is in the center with the arms of the cross represented by the Carmen and Dolorosa churches north and south of the cathedral.

Fernández said in the announcement that the symbolism transcends Spanish Catholicism and is lost in the origins of Western civilization.

This is the last in the series of tours and discussions by the architect, and with the talk Alianza Francesa said it is marking the 200th anniversary of the city's charter by the Cortes de Cádiz. Admission is just 1,500 colons, some $3. 

More information is available at 2222-2283

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Nov. 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 224
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Green poison-dart frogs seem to be the Don Juans with special color trick
By the Springer news staff

In the eyes of a female poison-dart frog, a red male isn’t much brighter than a green one. This does not however mean that the mating behavior of the green and red variants of the same species of frog is exactly the same. A study in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, led by Beatriz Willink of the Universidad de Costa Rica, sheds light on these findings.

The bright colors of poison-dart frogs serve not only to attract potential mates, but also to warn possible predators such as birds that these amphibians are poisonous. Different color variants within the same species occur, such as in the granular poison frog (Oophaga granulifera) of the southwestern lowlands of Costa Rica, where yellow and green color morphs have evolved from red ancestors.

Ms. Willink and her colleagues wanted to test if the green variants of the granular poison frog were more or less conspicuous to potential mates and predators than red ones of the same species. Therefore, they measured how the skin of the frogs contrasted with their natural background. This was done because dorsal brightness is known to influence female preferences in at least one poison frog species. The calling activity of 12 red and 10 green 
male frogs was also noted to determine if green males adjust their display behavior according to the availability of potential mates.

The results show that the green frogs, despite being less visible in some cases, may appear as bright as red frogs to members of their own species, but not to birds, when they are viewed on dark backgrounds.

Green frogs therefore seem to adjust their sexual behavior accordingly: They can deliver relatively conspicuous signals to females while being less conspicuous to potential predators. The researchers found that green males called less frequently than red males when advertising to distant females. However, their calling activity dramatically increased when a female was near and they became as vocal as red males. In the right context, when mating opportunity is certain, green males appear to trade-off the risk of predation for the mate-securing benefits of bold behavior.

“Our results support the notion that populations of phenotypically or observably different divergent species may use different solutions to the trade-off between natural and sexual selection, by adjusting the place and time of displays to risks and opportunities,” says Ms. Willink. “In poison frogs this may have contributed to the dramatic variation in color pattern conspicuousness observed across species.”

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Nov. 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 224
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Pacific Estates

U.S. sending aircraft carrier
to support Philippines relief

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Pentagon is sending an aircraft carrier as part of the U.S. drive to accelerate aid efforts in the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines, where 10,000 people are feared dead and many more displaced.
Some of the affected areas had still not been reached by today, four days after Typhoon Haiyan plowed through the remote island region with historically powerful winds and tsunami-like waves.
Aid has so far been slow to reach the 660,000 people estimated by the U.N. to have been displaced by the storm. Many have no access to food, water or medicine. There have been reports of widespread looting in Tacloban, the worst-hit city.
International relief efforts have begun to pick up. Monday, the U.S. announced that it is providing $20 million in humanitarian aid. It is also sending the "USS George Washington," an aircraft carrier with 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft on board.
Nearly 200 members of the U.S. armed forces are already helping Philippine authorities with relief efforts. Capt. Cassandra Gesecki, with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said the extensive damage makes it challenging to deliver help.
"There's trees uprooted, no limbs, no rooftops, no walls. You know, the roads are completely untenable. You can't get through anywhere. Which is difficult, because if you can fly the supplies in, it makes it difficult getting them where they need to go," said Gesecki.
Capt. Gesecki said that her unit is delivering aid using a mixture of KC-130 cargo planes and the MD-22 Osprey, which is able to take off and land vertically.
"The KC-130s are providing a lot of the heavy lift capabilities. Obviously they're big planes, they're able to land on runways. But then once we get the KC-130s to Tacloban or other areas with runways, we're able to bring in our MD-22 Ospreys, or tilt rotor aircraft. And they're capable of going to more remote locations if it's deemed we need to go there and bring supplies to some of the smaller islands," explained Capt. Gesecki.
The Philippines has already sent troops to the worst-hit village of Tacloban, where local officials fear as many as 10,000 people may be dead. However, as of Tuesday, aid distribution was slow, as soldiers worked to prevent looting in the fishing village.
Photographs and video circulating Monday showed hundreds of people returning from the hills around Tacloban only to find mounds of wreckage where their homes had stood in the once-thriving city of 220,000 residents.
Other amateur footage showed streets that still are strewn with decomposing bodies while dazed residents slog through flattened neighborhoods, looking for signs of life.

Elizabeth Tromans with Catholic Relief Services says there is "total devastation" in Tacloban, located on the eastern side of the island of Leyte. However, she said that the true extent of the destruction is only just beginning to become known.
"We're just starting to hear more and more about the devastation outside of the city. The devastation is also really widespread even on the western side of the island," said Tromans.
Ms. Tromans also pointed out although that many residents prepared emergency goods and took shelter ahead of the storm, the storm was so powerful that even among the most well-prepared, many people are now left with nothing.

European mapping satellite
drops harmlessly from the sky

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A European satellite that ran out of fuel re-entered the Earth's atmosphere early Monday, with some pieces falling harmlessly into the sea.

The European Space Agency’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite surrendered to the laws of gravity, dropped from its orbit and fell toward Earth.

The ESA's Space Debris Office said the satellite, known as GOCE, reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the southern Atlantic Ocean, near the Falkland Islands. The spacecraft began its descent to Earth during a final orbital pass that took it over Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

All but about 25 percent of the 1,100-kilogram spacecraft disintegrated in the high atmosphere. ESA said any remaining remnants of GOCE fell harmlessly into the southern Atlantic Ocean. No injuries or property damage have been reported as a result of the spacecraft’s return to Earth. 

ESA said the GOCE mission came to an end in the middle of October when it ran out of its xenon fuel and began dropping from its orbit at a height of about 224 kilometers above Earth.

As a result of its mapping efforts, ESA scientists said that they were able to create the most accurate shape of the geoid that had ever been produced. 

The geoid is the shape the surface of the oceans would have if only influenced by the gravity and rotation of the Earth, and without the effects of other common factors such as winds and tides. 

With this map, scientists will be able to better understand ocean circulation, sea level, ice dynamics and the Earth’s interior.

The GOCE also provided the data that allowed for the creation of the first global high-resolution map of the Mohorovicic Discontinuity, which is the boundary between Earth’s crust and mantle. 

Among its other accomplishments, the low orbiting GOCE also detected sound waves from the massive earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011.

The GOCE spacecraft with its sleek, aerodynamic design and unique electrically powered ion propulsion engine was also referred to as the Ferrari of space.

Judge in Singapore remands
hacking suspect to mental ward

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Singaporean authorities have arrested a 35-year-old man suspected of involvement in a series of high-profile hacker attacks on government Web sites and ordered him to be sent for psychiatric assessment.
James Raj was charged today with modifying the contents of a Web site belonging to the town council that manages Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's constituency on Oct. 28.
If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to three years and fined S$10,000 ($8,000).
Raj allegedly hacked the web server from an apartment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to a charge sheet filed by the government.
A state prosecutor told the court that investigations were still going on and asked that Raj be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric evaluation. The prosecutor said Raj had told police that he suffers from attention deficit disorder and suicidal tendencies.
Hackers claiming links to international hacking collective Anonymous attacked and defaced several Web sites in Singapore last week, including the official sites of Prime Minister Lee and President Tony Tan.
Hackers also defaced dozens of Web sites belonging to Australian businesses and Philippine government agencies, leaving the Anonymous calling card, a Guy Fawkes mask.
Raj's lawyer, M. Ravi, a human rights activist, told reporters he has not been allowed access to his client so far, and he could not confirm if Raj was the hacker known as the Messiah or was linked to Anonymous.
“I should have thought that if they had concerns about his mental state, they should have referred him to IMH before taking any statements,” he said.

Backyard astronomers seeing
incoming comet called ISON

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A comet is heading for a close encounter with the sun later this month and, providing it is not vaporized or torn apart it, should be visible to the naked eye sometime in December.
Comet ISON is expected to pass just about 621,000 miles from the sun's surface Nov. 28.
Scientists are not sure how ISON will hold up. As it blasts around the sun, traveling at 234 miles per second, the comet will be heated to about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to vaporize not just the ice in the comet's body, but rock and metal as well.
If the heat does not kill ISON, the sun's gravity may rip it apart. However, recent calculations show that ISON will most likely survive, scientists say.
The comet was discovered in September 2012 by two amateur astronomers using Russia's International Scientific Optical Network, or ISON, for which the comet is named.
It was extraordinarily bright at the time, considering its great distance beyond Jupiter's orbit, raising the prospect of a truly cosmic spectacle as it approached the sun.
That is because heat from the sun causes ice in a comet's body to vaporize, creating bright, distinctive tails and fuzzy looking, glowing bodies. Depending on how much ice a comet contains, the closer it comes to the sun, the brighter it shines.
Over the weekend, amateur astronomers began posting the first pictures of the comet on the Internet that were taken with just binoculars or small telescopes.
“I finally saw Comet ISON for the first time using small binoculars!” pilot Brian Whittaker wrote on the Web site. “It was faint, but is predicted to brighten and move each day! Exciting!”
Comets are believed to be frozen remains left over from the formation of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.
The group of comets where ISON originated is located in the Oort Cloud, a reservoir of icy bodies beyond Neptune's orbit. Occasionally, an object is gravitationally bumped out of the cloud and into a flight path that brings it into the inner solar system. Computer models show ISON is a first-time visitor.
The comet is moving through the constellation Virgo low in the eastern sky before dawn, astronomer Tony Phillips wrote on
“It is still too dim for naked-eye viewing, but an increasingly easy target for backyard optics,” Phillips added.
If predictions prove correct, the comet should be visible to the naked eye in Earth's early morning skies in early December and throughout the night, beginning in January.

International court sides
with Cambodia on land

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The International Court of Justice has ruled that part of a disputed patch of land around a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Thai-Cambodian border belongs to Cambodia. Both countries say they will work together to implement the court decision.

The unanimous ruling by the 17 judges of the world court says all of the raised land on which the ancient Khmer Hindu temple sits belongs to Cambodia.
The court’s president, Judge Peter Tomka, read the decision Monday at the Hague, noting the ICJ’s previous ruling on the matter in 1962 awarding the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple itself to Cambodia.
“…in consequence, the second operative paragraph requires Thailand to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces or other guards or keepers who were stationed there,” said Tomka.
While adjusting some of the disputed boundary, the decision leaves unresolved the sovereignty of much of the 4.6 square kilometer area in the immediate vicinity of the religious site.
The ruling comes at a particularly sensitive time for the political leaders of both countries.  They have been facing street protests questioning their legitimacy and authority and there are worries in both capitals that the ruling about the temple could be taken up by the political opposition.
The decision rejects some territorial claims in the area made by each country thus it is not a total victory for either side.
But even before the verdict was issued, self proclaimed patriots on both sides of the disputed border had stated they were prepared to fight if the verdict did not go their way or if there are perceived provocations across the border.
Within hours of the verdict, Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra appeared in a nationally televised address, saying the court had taken her country’s stance into consideration and that Bangkok should work with Phnom Penh to resolve outstanding issues.
The prime minister said Thailand’s sovereignty will be protected, that the border area is calm and that the army has the situation under control. Still, there were protests by marchers in the streets.
At The Hague, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong also expressed satisfaction with the verdict and called for continued negotiations between the two governments “in order the keep the problem under control.”
The unresolved territorial issue led to the armies of the two countries, in 2011, exchanging artillery fire, resulting in dozens of deaths.

Germany tries to hurry
probe over Nazi art stash

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Germany, under pressure to hasten inquiries into Nazi-looted art works stashed in a recluse's flat, has sent legal experts to help local authorities in Munich resolve myriad ownership issues, Focus magazine reported Sunday.
The federal government's intervention follows criticism that authorities stayed silent for too long regarding the 1,406 art works by European masters they stumbled upon last year.
Focus, based in Munich, said the government sent several staffers to the Bavaria justice ministry Friday.
“The federal government is working hard to ensure that information about the confiscated works of art is made available as there are now indications that Nazi persecution could be involved,” Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the same day.
Focus, which broke the Nazi art story a week ago, also said on Sunday that some customs experts believe some of the art cannot be legally returned to its original owners because it came from state museums, and that restitution claims would likely fail.
Customs officials seized the paintings, sketches and sculptures from Cornelius Gurlitt in February 2012. They were hoarded by his father Hildebrand, a war-era art dealer put in charge of selling degenerate art by Adolf Hitler.
“A large portion of Hildebrand Gurlitt's treasure confiscated from his son can probably not be returned to the rightful owners,” Focus magazine said, quoting from an internal customs office analysis made for the Finance Ministry that refers to 315 pieces of “degenerate” art work.
The legal status of the art remains murky and disputed nearly 70 years after World War Two. Some legal experts say Gurlitt may even get to keep it, but others say Germany could nullify his ownership under the 1998 Washington Declaration, a set of principles for dealing with looted art.
The secrecy and the delay in publishing an inventory of the works, estimated to be worth up to $1.34 billion, has been criticized by those who say that publicizing such finds is vital to finding their rightful owners.
The Nazis plundered hundreds of thousands of art works from museums and individuals across Europe. Many are still missing.
The Munich trove has been hailed as one of the most significant discoveries of looted art, fueling speculation about its provenance and claims from heirs of Jewish collectors who were robbed, dispossessed or murdered by the Nazis.
The 79-year-old recluse at the centre of the mystery, Cornelius Gurlitt, has vanished. He has not been charged but has been under investigation for tax evasion and concealment.
Sunday, Bild am Sonntag newspaper said Gurlitt had been seen near his Munich apartment last Monday. Der Spiegel news magazine said it had received a confused-sounding letter signed by Gurlitt dated Nov. 4 asking that it not use his name.
“The good news is… Cornelius Gurlitt  alive,” Der Spiegel wrote.
Separately, German authorities confiscated 22 paintings on Saturday from the house of Gurlitt's brother-in-law, Nikolaus Fraessle, near Stuttgart, Bild am Sonntag said, after Fraessle called police himself to hand the art works over.
The federal government, which ordinarily leaves such cases to state justice officials, stepped up its involvement after the United States asked it to publish a list of the art works.
Focus quoted German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle as saying he was taking a personal interest in the case and that behind many of the paintings found “are quite likely dramatic stories of people pressured and persecuted” by the Nazis.
The apparent official reluctance to publish an inventory infuriated families whose ancestors were robbed by the Nazis.
Charlotte Knobloch, a leader of the German Jewish community in Munich, said it was bad enough that the looted art had not been returned sooner, but it would be a scandal if it turned out officials had wasted 18 months since its discovery.
“It can't be possible that the injustices of the past are compounded now,” she said, appealing to Merkel to take charge.

U.S. planning to donate
millions to Haitian education

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has just returned from a three-day visit to Haiti where he unveiled a multi-million dollar grant that will help strengthen the country's education system.

A recent report by the United States Institute of Peace described Haiti's education system as dysfunctional and said reforms and financial assistance were badly needed.

During his brief stay, Duncan met with Haitian President Michel Martelly, the Minister of Education Vanneur Pierre, and toured several schools.

"The challenges there are obviously very real," noted Duncan, in an interview. "Huge challenges of poverty, nothing is easy there - but what I was most struck by, was how passionately committed children were to getting an education and how hard adults were working to give them the education they need to build a better life for themselves."

Duncan said he was impressed by one school he visited for street children.  He said many of the kids had lost parents in the January 2010 earthquake.

"To hear their stories about why they were working so hard, and why they want to get off the streets - I'll never forget it," the secretary said, adding that the students are fed one meal during the school day which, in most cases, is their only meal of the day.

Duncan said USAID has made a multi-million dollar, multi-year commitment to help expand access to education in Haiti.  In addition, he said, Haiti's Senate is considering legislation that would bring "significant new revenue" towards education "on an ongoing basis".

The secretary said passage of the law "would be huge."

In addition to the USAID grant, Duncan said the U.S. has also agreed to provide technical assistance to Haiti's Education Ministry.  He said Haiti would be sending a team of education ministry officials to Washington in December as part of the bilateral cooperation. Their discussions will include teacher training, he said.

"For education to succeed in Haiti, we need a strong Ministry of Education," Duncan said.

Tuskegee Airmen finally
have memorial of their own

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A handful of the few surviving Red Tail military pilots, considered the elite of the Tuskegee Airmen who overcame racism and fought in World War II, journeyed to Orlando, Florida, Monday to witness the unveiling of the first U.S. monument in their honor.
Only 33 of the original 356 Red Tail pilots survive, and six of them, mostly in their 90s, attended the Veteran's Day ceremony.
The Red Tails, or Red Tail Angels, from the 332nd fighter group, got their name from white combat pilots after the black airmen painted the tails of their aircraft crimson. Their job was to escort the combat pilots on bombing missions from bases in Europe.
The group, trained in Tuskegee, Alabama, was sent to Italy in February 1944 under the command of a black officer, Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., said Lt. Col. Leo Gray, one of the youngest surviving Red Tails at age 89.
“We were good. We were the only ones  over there,” Gray said of the all-black unit.
The group's trials and exploits were recalled in “Red Tails,” a movie released in 2012 with a cast that included Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bryan Cranston and Gerald McRaney.
Lt. Col. Hiram Mann, now 92 and retired in Titusville, Florida, recalls following orders to run low-flying strafing missions to protect the neophyte combat pilots.
Mann said he applied three times before he was accepted into military pilot training in 1943 with the 27th class of African-American recruits.
His first application was rejected because of his color, Mann said. His second application, after the color bar was dropped, was denied because he had completed only one of two required years of college, and because he was married.
His third attempt succeeded, he said, because by then, the standards had been lowered to require only the ability to pass strenuous mental and physical tests.
Mann said he was oblivious at the time to the fact that they were making history.
“I wanted to fly for the love of flying. The good we did, it's really astounding and pleasing,” Mann said.
Gray, now retired near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recognized that he and his colleagues literally flew in the face of academic notions at the time that blacks were inferior to whites and lacked the intelligence to handle complex machinery and the bravery to fight.
“We were busy doing our jobs. We knew we were creating history but we didn't know the magnitude,” Gray said.
Gray called the Red Tails “one of the greatest groups of young men our nation has produced.”
“I was proud. I wasn't in the Navy as a steward. I wasn't in the Army digging ditches. I was a pilot,” he said.
Planning for the monument began in 2011 when the Red Tails held their first reunion in 66 years at a resort in Orlando.
Gray asked local flying enthusiast Mike McKenzie, who leads a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring aviation careers, particularly for minority youth, to help create an appropriate honor for the group.
The monument depicts a missing man flying formation, used to commemorate a fallen pilot, held aloft by intertwined aircraft exhaust plumes.
About 300 people attended the unveiling, which included a flyover by a model of the P-51 Mustang aircraft flown by the Red Tails.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

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Real estate for sale (paid category)

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Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

House and guest house on adjacent half acre lots. Each with separate electric,  private septic and well. Each can be sold stand alone or packaged. Modern kitchen, granite counters, Viking stove, large separate frig and freezer. Private commercial grade septic and private well. No water shortages even in dry season. High speed internet and U.S. standard electric. Center of the beach -- NEVER floods. Estuary at each end of the beach with excellent kayaking and bird watching through the mangroves. Excellent fishing right off the shore. Great surfing, horseback riding, bicycling or Turtle watching. Groceries three miles away. Mentioned in "The Lonely Planet" Page 301. "Two of the most beautiful and least visited beaches in Costa Rica. Wilderness beaches of fine silver-grey sand." Despite opportunities for great surfing, kayaking and just about anything else you want to do on a sandy strip of paradise, the beaches are nearly always abandoned. Will finance.  More pictures available at:  Contact information:,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.


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


Located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada 500 meters north of Iglesia Lourdes. U. Latina, UCR, and U. Fidelitas are located within 5 minutes.  Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. Condo is a 3 story.  Three/Four bedroom, three and half bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with only one entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. In addition, to security fencing, and electric wire, a recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house. Residence has a telephone communication system to contact the guard house. In addition there is a green park area inside the complex for children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Equipped with an independent wired security system in addition to iron bars on windows and patio doors. Equipped with circuit breaker box and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Also has water storage tank under parking area and water pump to maintain high pressure on all 3 floors. American style washer and electric dryer, refrigerator, glass top stove, and kitchen cabinets included. Other furniture items may be available for purchase. 
Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 6011-6987   or  U.S. Phone:  (630) 886-4458  or   (305) 858- 5577 C.R. Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799-4041  or  (506) 8363-9898.  Email:

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean. This design allows for barrier free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room it’s spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors. $365,000.   Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage. 3 nedrooms, 2 baths, full dining room, separate office. Custom wrought iron gates, custom exotic wood cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances, Granite countertops.    Slide show at   
For more information contact:

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

San Mateo pool


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

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 for more information ¡y se habla español!

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!

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:

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,    Cell 8916-5550.

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
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email

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:  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email:

Naranjo views


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

Guiones retreat
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

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!

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.

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 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

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  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

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. $180,000 506-8869-9274.

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.

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Business for sale or lease (paid category)71

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

In the nine years of operation, DIGITS Resource Guide has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, and Osa Peninsula areas.  DIGITS is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive groundwork that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into an even greater level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner is retiring to another Latin American country. For a preview of the magazine, go to, or simply go to a local Distributor for a copy. 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.

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:

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Nov. 12, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 224
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Embassy of Korea photo
Moon Hi Kim will be one of the performers.

Traditional Korean music
offered in free show tonight

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Korean Embassy is offering a primer in the country's traditional music tonight at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the  Ciudad de Investigación of the Universidad de Costa Rica in San Pedro.

Hong Jo Chun, the Korean ambassador, said that the event would be free and open to the public as a way of strengthening cultural bonds between the two nations.

Performing will be traditional singer Moon Hi Kim and Jae Hyun Jo, a professor at the Universidad de Costa Rica on the drum.

The Korean music is of two types, according to the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud. There is the court music used for official occasions and the type known as pansori that has been declared intangible heritage of humanity by the U.N. Education, Science and Culture. In both cases, the singer is accompanied by a drum.

The performance will resemble an opera because it has a story line involving the love affair between a noble, Lee Mongryong, and a domestic employee Chunhyang. Love triumphs in the end.

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From Page 7:

Nicoya hotel associates with Marriott

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hotel Punta Islita is the newest and the 50th independent hotel incorporated into the  Autograph Collection of Marriott International, Inc., the international hotel chain said.

The hotel has high ratings in sustainable tourism as certified by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo and is a leader in social responsibility, said Marriott.
The hotel on the Nicoya peninsula also is the first in Central America to be included in the Autograph Collection

The hotel has a nine-hole golf course, two pools, a spa, a beach club, two restaurants and conference facility, said Marriott.

The Autograph Collection is a consortium of independent hotels which assists in their marketing.  Hotels involved in the group include a small, 15-room hotel in the mountains of Colorado to an 18th century neoclassical mansion in Prague, the Czech Republic.