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(506) 2223-1327                                 Published Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in Vol. 16, No. 224                                  Email us
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Immigration director backs reform of current law
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The immigration director says that the law covering her agency needs a reform.

The director, Kattia Rodríguez, appeared at a legislative committee Wednesday to address some changes proposed by bill No. 18.922.

The law covering immigration underwent a complete rewrite in 2010.

The director said that there are fundamental and important principles that are difficult to implement and a reform would make the law more agile.  The law was done from the point of view of the immigrant and is rigid, she said. That was during the administration of Abel Pacheco.

Several proposals would benefit expats. One would allow legal residents as well as Costa Ricans to provide residency to blood relatives, such as parents. That would be an advantage to many expats whose parents are older and still in the home country.

The director favored such a change.

Another change is to make the penalties for living in Costa Rica proportional to the period during which a foreigner remained here. She made a distinction between someone who had been here illegally briefly and someone who had lived here illegally for years.

She also complained that her agency only has 400 immigration police officers who have to at least cover the various immigration border posts.

The director also noted that the current law prevents some legal residents from becoming permanent residents. Although pensionados and rentistas can convert to permanent residents after two years, persons who have been here on work permits much longer cannot.

The current proposed changes are in the  Comisión Permanente Especial de Derechos Humanos. Many expats would like to see changes, too. One would be a way to lengthen a tourism stay here without traveling outside the country every 90 days. That would benefit wealthy snowbirds who come here for four or five months of the year during the harsh North American winter.

Current enforcement of immigration laws appears to be chaotic. Normally when a person is stopped by police and found to be here illegally, the individual is given an appointment to visit the immigration agency. Many ignore that summons.

Members of a suspected human smuggling ring that was broken up earlier this week were said to be using these immigration appointments as safe conduct documents and selling them to their illegal clients.

Current regulations required those receiving legal residency to immediately sign up for membership in the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Some expats consider this an intrusion, too, and the rule has led to a growing group of so-called permanent tourists who leave the country every 90 days.

They renew their tourism visas despite having jobs, real estate and vehicles here.


U.S. Embassy staffers take note of home invasions
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy staff  has responded to home invasions involving U.S. and Canadian victims.

Although such crimes are epidemic, embassy staffers hardly ever comment or issue warnings on them.

But Tuesday an embassy email said that two assailants wearing dark clothes and masks and armed with pistols, entered a residential
compound by way of a malfunctioning pedestrian gate. The embassy email  incorrectly called this a burglary, when in  fact, this is armed robbery because some
 victim must have confronted the armed men.

The embassy email did not give a location, but this almost certainly took place in Escazú where many embassy staffers live. There were no local police reports of the incidents.

Police here usually only issue bulletins when a suspect has been caught.

The embassy "reminds all U.S. citizens that situational awareness and knowledge of your surroundings are the most important tools we have to help keep ourselves safe." Then the email gave a list of obvious safety precautions, like making sure locks work.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 224
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Dentistry

Marco Cavallini & Associates
Dental Implants and Crowns

Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and
DR. Cavallini
Dr. Marco A. MuÏoz Cavallini
restored over 17,000 dental implants since 1980. The Dr. Marco Muñoz Cavallini Dental Clinic, is recognized as one of the best practices in Dental Reconstruction, Dental Implant placement and Cosmetic Dentistry in Costa Rica and the World. For more information, visit us today at: marcomunozcavallini.com
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Psychotherapy

Dr. Gray
Dr. Lucinda Gray
California Licensed
Psychologist
International Practice

• Anxiety
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US (310) 827-4241
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Insurance professionals

The Garrett Insurance Group
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Residency experts

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 Accountants

 
Ms. Summers
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File your past three years tax returns under the
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File your FBAR for current or past-due years.
 
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James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
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pecializing in all matters of concern to U.S. taxpayers residing abroad including:
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Fine art restoration and conservation
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Legal services

Valdivieco header
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your legal adviser for criminal, civil,
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Business specialist
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Chocolate flower
University of the Andes/Santiago Madriñán      
Co-author Santiago Madriñán inspects a cacao blossom

Older origin is good news for cacao trees

By the Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution news staff

Chocolate, produced from seeds of the cacao tree Theobroma cacao, is one of the most popular flavors in the world, with sales around $100 billion per year. Yet, as worldwide demand increases, there are fears the industry will fail to cope with growing public hunger for the product.

The main problem, common to many crops, is the lack of genetic variation in cultivated cacao, which makes it vulnerable to pests and blights. Lack of genetic variation also puts cacao trees at risk from climate change, jeopardizing the long-term sustainability of the industry.

Now, however, new research suggests the cacao tree is much older than previously realized and may have close relations capable of sustaining the sweet-toothed appetites.

"Studies of the evolutionary history of economically important groups are vital to develop agricultural industries, and demonstrate the importance of conserving biodiversity to contribute towards sustainable development. Here we show for the first time that the source of chocolate, Theobroma cacao, is remarkably old for an Amazonian plant species," said James Richardson, a tropical botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and lead author of the study.

Together with researchers from the University of Rosario and the University of the Andes in Colombia, the University of Miami, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Richardson found that Theobroma cacao is one of the oldest species in the genus Theobroma, having evolved around 10 million years ago. At the time, the Andes were not yet fully elevated, which explains why cacao trees today occur on both sides of the Andes.

The species' early evolutionary origin is good news: it suggests that cacao has had enough time to diversify genetically, with each wild population adapting to its local habitat. Wild populations of cacao across the Americas may therefore be treasure troves of genetic variation, which could be bred into cultivated strains to make the latter more resistant to disease and climate change, and perhaps even create new flavors of chocolate.

"After ten million years of evolution we should not be surprised to see a large amount of variation within the species, some of which might exhibit novel flavors or forms that are resistant to diseases. These varieties may contribute towards improving a developing chocolate industry," says Richardson.

The researchers already plan to return to South America to sample all species related to cacao and investigate the characteristics of their native populations.

"We hope to highlight the importance of conserving biodiversity so that it can be used to augment and safeguard the agricultural sector. By understanding the diversification processes of chocolate and its relatives we can contribute to the development of the industry and demonstrate that this truly is the Age of Chocolate," says co-author Santiago Madriñán of the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

The study is published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.


Costa Rica and U.S. sign wildlife pact

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The governments of Costa Rica and the United States entered into an agreement Thursday that will provide for exchanges, safeguarding habitat, conservation, protection and scientific research.

Representing the United States was Bryan Arroyo of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Costa Rica was represented by Edgar Gutiérrez, minister of Ambiente y Energía.

The agreement is for five years and can be renewed, said a summary by the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía. The document signed Wednesday was a memo of understanding.

The ministry said that another area of assistance would be the process in handling confiscated or rescued wildlife with assistance for centers that care for these creatures.

Another aspect will be student exchanges, said the summary. The specifics of the agreement are to be developed by a working group, it added.


Plane crash drill scheduled in Liberia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Dirección General de Aviación Civil is staging a plane crash drill today at 3 p.m. at Daniel Oduber in Liberia.

The scenario is that a passenger jet has trouble with its landing gear, slides off the runway, ruptures a wing tank and bursts into flames.

Some 17 agencies will be involved in the hour-long exercise, said Aviación civil.

The idea is to evaulate how the various  agencies work together during a disaster. Such simulations are common.


Water outage planned for Coronado

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nearly 20,000 persons will be without water today from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the canton of Coronado, said the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados. Workers will be cleaning a water storage tank, the institute said.

Affected are San Francisco, Don Trino subdivision, Valle Sereno, San Blas  subdivision, La Esmeralda subdivision, Barrio Corazón de Jesús, Río Durazno subdivision, Magnolias subdivision, Villalta, Pueblo, Bruno Martínez, Don Leco, Edén and La Mora.

News for the Spanish-language press
Translated into English








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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 224
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Entrepreneurship to be stressed in a week of activities here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For the fifth year, the country is involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week, a week-long series of activities.

Perhaps the most inviting for those in business is a seminar Nov. 26 titled "12 steps to convert your company into a big business." That is at 8:30 a.m. at Parque La Libertad in Desamparados.

Another activity is a forum on entrepreneurship for refugees.

That is at 8 a.m. next Thursday in the Hotel Radisson.

A handful of government ministries are involved, including the Ministerio de Economía Industria y Comercio that houses the small business initiative.

The week is being observed from next Monday through Nov. 22 in 160 countries.

According to the international sponsors, "Global Entrepreneurship Week is a celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators."

The events here are free and are outlined on the commerce ministry Web site HERE! The ministry said that digital platform would be launched by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud that will provide financial information to business people in the cultural area, such as gallery operators and individual artists.


Contents of new stamp emphasizes U.S.-Costa Rica cultural divide
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A decision by Correos de Costa Rica involving the content of a commemorative stamp clearly shows a divide between Costa Rican and U.S. cultures.

Correos chose part of a local artist's work that shows two black children on a swing, and one is eating a slice of watermelon.

Almost certainly the artist, officials at Correos and a number of newspaper reporters are totally unaware that the work mimics what is considered a highly racist stereotype in the United States.

Pictures and even songs about watermelons have been used to denigrate blacks since before the end of slavery. More recently President Barack Obama, who is black, has been the target of racist cartoons with watermelon themes. One showed the White House lawn planted in watermelons.

Artist Adrián Gómez uses watermelon slices liberally in his works. He seems enthralled with the Caribbean where many black Costa Ricans live. An Internet search does not show that any reporter or reviewer who wrote about him or his works have mentioned the watermelon stereotype.

The graphic is part of a work by Gómez titled "Tarde de merienda," translated as an afternoon snack.
The general tone of the stereotype is that black Americans would rather sit around eating watermelon than work. Some
critics have suggested a sexual aspect, too. The Atlantic  addressed the issue most recently in 2014 HERE!

The magazine said that after the U.S. Civil War free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom. Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and
stamp
The commemorative stamp
unwanted public presence, it added.

The postal service issued the stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of  the Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Coope Ande, which caters to educators.

The 15,000 stamps have a face value of 600 colons.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!
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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 224
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Native American Navajo language is making a comeback in West
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

During World War II, the U.S. military recruited Native American Navajo speakers and, together, they developed a code to send secret information past Japanese and German code-breakers.

The code was never broken.

Richard Epstein, a linguist and professor at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, credits the Navajo language’s complex structure for it being such a successful code.

“It was so unbelievably complicated that the enemy couldn’t figure out how it worked,” he said. “And yet we took the children of these people away from their families to train them to speak English only, on the grounds that this language was inferior.”

More than 100 years ago, the U.S. government began sending Native American children to boarding schools where all the instruction was in English. The native cultures and languages of the children were discouraged.

“We had to speak English,” said Sylvia Jackson, one of those children who stopped speaking her native language. “So I lost a lot of just speaking the Navajo language.”

In the last 20 to 30 years, tribal governments have started to promote the teaching of Native American languages in schools. The U.S. Department of Education now also supports Native American language programs.

Today, Ms. Jackson is a Navajo language instructor in the small town of Holbrook, Arizona. She teaches Navajo to students at Holbrook High School. Her class is taught entirely in Diné, the Navajo language.

Ms. Jackson and her students play an important role in keeping their language alive.

“My parents are actually, they grew up speaking the Navajo language,” she said. “They’re fluent speakers. They’re like a dictionary. If I ask them, ‘How do you say this?’ they translate. But me, I’m learning as I’m going.”

The town of Holbrook is an hour by car from the Navajo Nation. The 69,000-square-kilometer territory is the largest of the 326 Indian reservations in the United States. The Navajo Nation covers parts of four states in the American Southwest. It is about the same size as the country of Ireland.

During the 1800s, increasing numbers of European settlers in America moved west. In 1864, the federal government began a campaign to deport Navajos from their lands. The natives were moved to the northwest in a series of marches called the Long Walk. The marches took place under the threat of death.

Navajo leaders and the U.S. government reached a peace treaty in 1868. It established the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Today, more than 250,000 people live in the Navajo Nation. They have their own laws, fly their own flag, and elect their own president.

The 2010 United States Census showed that about 170,000 Navajos speak Navajo at home. It is one of the most robust Native American languages today.

But there is a growing worry that the Navajo language could disappear. Seventy years ago, nearly everyone on the Navajo reservation spoke Navajo as their first language. But today,

few young Navajos can speak the language of their grandparents.

A study in 1998 found that only 30 percent of Navajos entering school spoke Navajo as their mother tongue. Just 30 years earlier, that was true of 90 percent of first-grade Navajo students.

Linguist Epstein says a language’s survival depends on one generation passing down knowledge to the next generation.

“In order to keep a language alive, the adults of the community have to be able to transmit it to the young folks,” he said.

Epstein calls teaching and transmitting a native language to children a right that should be better protected.

“Everybody should have the right to speak their own language, just as much as they should have the right to practice their religion,” he said. “Because their language is as good as everybody else’s language…So if you take that away, you’ve taken away a massive resource for knowing something about a part of human life. And you’ve taken away a part of who those people are. Is that right? Everybody should have the right to speak their language and to transmit their language to their children and to keep their culture alive.”

On the reservation itself, Navajo language instruction in schools starts at a young age. At Indian Wells Elementary School, third graders are learning how to read, write, and speak Navajo. The school opened in 2001.

Robbie Koerperich was Indian Wells’ first principal. Now, he is the superintendent of the Holbrook Unified School District and says the district is concerned with preserving the Navajo language.

“The Navajo language itself, I believe, is a major concern on the reservation and in our district, pertaining to the preservation of the language,” Koerperich said. “So the preservation of the Navajo language is part of our mission.”

Hortensia, a third-grader at Indian Wells Elementary, says Navajo language is her favorite class. “So we could learn it and teach it to other people.”

Hortensia says she often visits her grandmother, or naali in Navajo. Grandparents on the reservation play an important part in passing down both the language and culture to their grandchildren.

Morgan, a Navajo language student at Holbrook High School, is one of Sylvia Jackson’s students. She visits her grandparents’ home with her cousins, nieces and nephews and sometimes feels like an outcast.

“With my nieces and nephews and my cousins, they’re about my age or a bit older and they don’t speak Navajo,” Morgan said. “And so it’s a bit hard when we go out to my grandparents’ place and they try to talk to us. And it feels like — when my grandparents and my parents talk together — I feel like, kind of like an outcast, like I don’t know what they’re saying, but it’s like, I want to learn the language so I can carry it on and then teach my kids. And so we won’t lose the language.”

Today, Sylvia Jackson, who was once taught to forget her native language, now finds herself at the forefront of keeping it alive.

“If you just think about it, my parents, if they go, then that’s going to be me right there who has to carry that on,” she said. “If I don’t have the knowledge that they had, that’s going to be it right there. So, I’m glad that we have students who want to learn the language, who want to keep that language.”

Vacation, travel and hospitality


HIdden Garden 2016
Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
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The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:
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8840-2/2/16

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Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
 *HIGHEST SUCCESS RATE
OF RELOCATION*

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Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

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See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!
http://www.vimeo.com/5656822

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder. lundquistgeorge@gmail.com

8729-12/30/15

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Costa Rica Travel In Paradise Group Tours

Looking for easy booking process for a smooth Costa Rica trip?   We customize wonderful trips to Costa Rica.  We offer you our wealth of knowledge for a great experience . . . a trip of a lifetime!!!

* FAMILY VACATIONS. Our travels take into account the different ages of your family enjoy the most from your Family vacations. Click HERE!

* GROUP TOURS. Whether for a church group, couple of friends, Scout troop or a family group. We provide excellent quality service in your Group Tours. Click HERE!

* EDUCATIONAL TOURS. Tours for universities to schools to elementary schools. We have professionals to help you discover the secrets of Costa Rica in a fun way. Costa Rica Educational Tours. Click HERE!

* GUIDED TOURS. General holiday planning giving you the best value for your investment Costa Rica vacation Packages. Click HERE!

Contact Us:
International Phone: 1-800-9010-114
CR Local Phone: 011-506 -2274-3231
Email: jose@mycostaricatravel.com
Web: www.mycostaricatravel.com

Anywhere
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  100% Personalized Vacation Planning Service.
Click HERE!
8644-3/16/16

Howard book
Want to live in Costa Rica?
Read this book!


1,000s have benefited from 17 editions
with its insider information
and time-tested tips
700 carefully researched pages  

Written by Christopher Howard,
Costa Rica's #1 retirement expert
with 35 years experience helping people.
Click HERE!
8577-2/15/15

Howard
                        rollover
Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
   * Find out how to live affordably
   * See how other expats live. Meet other expats who have made
          the move.
   * Access the country's affordable health care system
   * Informative two-day seminar given by local experts in their
          relevant fields.
   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-year resident, citizen,
          and the author of "The New Golden Door to Retirement
          and  Living in Costa Rica – the Official Guide to Relocation”
 
Click HERE  to learn all about our Association of Residents (ARCR)  approved tours at www.liveincostarica.com
8479-9/11/14

Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom



Need a book about Costa Rica?


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A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Business
wanted
Real estate wanted

Real estate rental services (paid category)

Fully Furnished American style Apartments for Rent
2-bedroom, 2- bathroom, fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amó. Cable, Internet, water included. Shared laundry. Convenient to Parque Morazán,
hotels, restaurants, casinos, city government, national registry. $600-$650 per month plus electricity. ½ month security deposit. No lease.  The larger apartments are $650 per month. They have larger bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. It would be best for the prospective tenants to visit
Barrio Amon
the building to see the apartments.   For more information contact: edificiomorazan@gmail.com  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.
8826-1/16/16



Beautiful Apartment

Lemur del Bosque
for Rent

San Francisco de Dos Ríos, El Bosque, furnished 2-bedroom,1-bath apartment, quiet area, free cable TV WiFi, large patio area, swimming pool, parking, security. Close to San José. $450/month. Retired persons preferred. Call 8375-6838. Email: jorge.jorgejim@gmail.com.
8810-11/24/15
Lemur

Plumita
COSTA RICA COZY APARTMENT ON THE BEACH!!
Unfurnished 400-sq. ft. apartment, with modern kitchen, located on beautiful Junquillal Beach is waiting for you. Sea Turtles are common to this beach. Great area for surfing one of C.R.'s premier surf spots or boogie boarding. Close to a market, restaurants and more touristy areas - Playa Negra and Tamarindo, if you want shopping, etc. This area is a great community. If you are looking for a nice relaxing area, this is it. $500 month + electric, visit our Web page - plumitapacifica.com  - for more info, photos and to view a video. Or call (506) 5004-3473.
8809-10/7/15

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for  your stay in this beautiful part
tropical homes
of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442
8784-2/19/16

Real estate for rent

house for rent
Beautiful fully furnished house for rent
2 bedrooms, 2 baths, fully furnished $800 + electric, includes cable TV, Wifi, Internet. Inside gated property close to town. Contact organicfarmhouserental@gmail.com.
8830-11/20/15

Oganic farm rental
2 bedroom, 1 bath, $700 includes electric, water, cable, Internet & WiFi. Fully furnished. Inside gated property close to town, Santa Bárbara de Heredia. No dogs please.
organicfarmhouserental@gmail.com
8800-10/16/1

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on SellMyTimeshareNow.com at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
Timeshare
1- to 3-bedroom ocean and garden view timeshares available and most offer air conditioning, cable TV, fully equipped kitchens, and relaxing hammocks on private balconies. Enjoy the unique combination of seclusion and convenience as all resorts listed on our site are close to popular Costa Rican attractions and downtown 
centers, but are surrounded in lush, tropical forest. Villas are also available for sale in our inventory, so you can enjoy yearly vacations to this mesmerizing rainforest paradise. Please visit our rental inventory HERE!  or call us toll free at 877-815-4227, International: 603-516-0200.  Email: info@sellmytimesharenow.com
8766-7/30/16

San
                                                Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Direct TV via sling box on Internet.  Rent per month $750 plus utilities with free internet.  Price for Sale $179,000   Contact Mike: mmpeace@hotmail.com  Check out slide show HERE!
8670-6/30/15




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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2015 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 224
Sports
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us

World leaders to consider
economic health of nations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As leaders of the 20 richest nations prepare to meet in the Turkish resort of Antalya, there are alarming indicators about the health of some emerging economies, including Turkey, where inflation is high and the currency struggling. But it is Russia that is suffering the most, said Andrew Kenningham of London consultancy Capital Economics.

Russia's economy "is contracting by maybe 5 percent this year — really struggling with the collapse in the oil prices, on top of the sanctions problem, on top of the very poor governance, which has made it extremely difficult for businesses to operate there,” he said.

Official growth in China has slowed to under 7 percent, prompting an equity sell-off and pushing down oil prices. Kenningham said the fears are overblown.

“The equity market did collapse," he said, "but there had been a bubble beforehand, and it’s not really very strongly connected to actual growth in the economy.”

Robust economic data from the United States have raised expectations of an interest rate increase there next month, compounding problems for emerging economies.

China said this week it wants the G20 to focus on reform of voting rights at the International Monetary Fund. Olivia Gippner of the London School of Economics said the Chinese "are underrepresented dramatically. At the moment, the U.S. has around 16 percent of the share, China only 4 percent, India 3 percent, Brazil even 2 percent. So these don’t reflect the current economic system anymore at all."

Ms. Gippner said climate change would also be high on the G20 agenda, "particularly because we have the Paris summit coming up in December, and this is one of the last meetings where the big economies and the big actors also on climate change will come together.”

Turkey arrested 20 suspected Islamic State militants in Antalya province this week. Global security has been thrust to the forefront of the agenda, said the University of Toronto’s John Kirton, founder and co-director of the G20 Research Group at the university's Munk School of Global Affairs.

“Terrorism in the Middle East, primarily, and the Syrian refugee crisis, they're going to be dealt with by the leaders at the dinner, where they meet alone and can deal in a more flexible fashion,” he said via Skype from Antalya.

China takes over the rotating presidency of the G20 in 2016. Analysts say Beijing will most likely find its own economy is the major focus of many fellow members.


Mealworms able to feast
on discarded
polystyrene

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It's a bit unclear how long it takes polystyrene-based products like Styrofoam to decompose.  But no matter if it's 500 years, or 5,000, it's a long time in human terms, and it illustrates the scope of the problem.  But scientists may have discovered an unusual way to break down this plastic garbage. 

It takes hundreds of years to biodegrade Styrofoam, and those plastic plates, cups and containers currently take up between 25 and 30 percent of the landfill space.

It turns out mealworms have a taste for Styrofoam.

“Mealworms eat Styrofoam and they digest Styrofoam in their gut. The process was very fast.  In less than 24 hours it became CO2," said Stanford University's Wei-Min Wu.

Each worm can digest plastic waste about the size of a pill every day.

Special enzymes in their gut break down the styrofoam.

“I think the secreted enzymes are really interesting. Those are the tools that actually break the wall down into little pieces," said Craig Criddle.

Researchers are trying to develop enzymes that mimic the worm's ability to break down plastic waste.

“It’s an issue because we are running out of landfill space for one thing, especially in dense urban environments. Also, the clutter that results, particularly in the ocean everyone hears about, but all around the world," said Criddle.

Surprisingly, environmental scientists found mealworms chomping on Styrofoam were just as healthy as those that ate their normal diet of bran.


Putin calls for investigation
of sports doping allegations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russia must conduct its own investigation into allegations that its athletes regularly took performance-enhancing substances, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

Putin's comments were his first on the issue since the World Anti-Doping Agency's six-month suspension of Moscow's drug-testing laboratory following a scathing report Monday alleging state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

The report accuses the laboratory of manipulating athletes' drug tests so they appear clean. It also implicates Russian athletes, coaches and doctors in the scheme.

“I ask the minister of sport and all our colleagues who are linked in one way or another with sport to pay this issue the greatest possible attention," Putin said from the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where he will meet with sports officials.

Russia will conduct its own investigation and cooperate with international anti-doping agencies, Putin vowed. “A sporting contest is only interesting when it is honest,” said the president, himself a famous sportsman.

If problems are found, Putin warned, someone must assume responsibility.

"They need to have a constructive dialogue to find a way to end this scandal,” said public relations professional Maxim Filipovich. “So long as it exists, and remains unresolved, it's very detrimental to the images of our national teams."

Russia faces possible suspension from athletic competition over doping and could be banned from next summer's Olympic Games in Brazil.

That threat raised concerns among people in Russia. 

Yevgeny Denisov, an engineer, found fault with a possible blanket expulsion of the team. "Maybe some individuals should be excluded, but not the whole federation," he said. "Russia must defend its point of view in the world sport arena."

London consultant Nigel Currie said the entire Games would suffer if Russia were banned. "Financially for the Olympics and, more importantly, the prestige and status of the Olympics will definitely face some tough challenges because of this," he said.

Among those possible challenges for the Olympic Games and Russia itself are threats to valuable sponsorships.

Andrey Movchan, economic policy program director at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the sponsorship problem could extend beyond the Olympics to other sporting events.

"Accordingly, international investors, if there are any left, could rethink their positions," he said. "Even the amount of sponsorship for the 2018 World Cup could be revised in connection with changed national image and status."


Supercomputer simulates
big California quakes

By the Oak Ridge National Laboratory news staff

The San Andreas Fault system, which runs almost the entire length of California, is prone to shaking, causing about 10,000 minor earthquakes each year just in the southern California area.

However, cities that line the fault, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, have not experienced a major destructive earthquake of magnitude 7.5 or more since their intensive urbanizations in the early 20th century. With knowledge that large earthquakes occur at about 150-year intervals on the San Andreas, seismologists are certain that the next big one is near.

The last massive earthquake to hit San Francisco, had a 7.8 magnitude, occurred in 1906, took 700 lives and caused $400 million worth of damage. Since then, researchers have collected data from smaller quakes throughout California, but such data doesn’t give emergency officials and structural engineers the information they need to prepare for a quake of magnitude 7.5 or bigger.

With this in mind, a team led by Thomas Jordan of the Southern California Earthquake Center, headquartered at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, is using the Titan supercomputer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop physics-based earthquake simulations to better understand earthquake systems, including the potential seismic hazards from known faults and the impact of strong ground motions on urban areas.

“We’re trying to solve a problem, and the problem is predicting ground shaking in large earthquakes at specific sites during a particular period of time,” Jordan said.

Ground shaking depends upon the type of earthquake, the way a fault ruptures, and how the waves propagate, or spread, through all three-dimensional structures on Earth.

Clearly, understanding what might happen in a particular area is no simple task. In fact, the prediction involves a laundry list of complex inputs that could not be calculated together without the help of Titan, a Cray XK7 machine.

On Titan, the team uses CyberShake, a physics-based computational approach that integrates many features of an earthquake event, to calculate a probabilistic seismic hazard map for California. In May, Jordan’s team completed its highest resolution CyberShake map for Southern California using Titan.

One of the most important variables that affects earthquake damage to buildings is seismic wave frequency or the rate at which an earthquake wave repeats each second. With greater detail and increases in the simulated frequency from 0.5 hertz to 1 hertz, the latest CyberShake map is the most useful one to date and serves as an important tool for engineers who use its results to design and build critical infrastructure and buildings.

Building structures respond differently to certain frequencies. Large structures like skyscrapers, bridges, and highway overpasses are sensitive to low-frequency shaking, whereas smaller structures like homes are more likely to be damaged by high-frequency shaking, which ranges from 2 to 10 hertz and above.

High-frequency simulations are more computationally complex, however, limiting the information that engineers have for building safer structures that are sensitive to these waves. Jordan’s team is attempting to bridge this gap.

“We’re in the process of trying to bootstrap our way to higher frequencies,” Jordan said.


Many Kabul protesters rally
against Islamic State killings


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Afghan security forces fired warning shots to disperse angry protesters in Kabul after some of them tried to storm the gate of the presidential palace. 

Demonstrators were in the capital protesting the beheading earlier this week of seven civilians, including three women, by militants allegedly linked to the Islamic State.

The victims, members of the minority Shi’ite Hazara ethnic community, were kidnapped more than a month ago and authorities found their headless corpses in the southern Zabul province this past Sunday.
 
The demonstrators carrying the coffins marched through the streets of the Afghan capital despite heavy rain and cold weather before gathering in front of the presidential palace.

They were chanting anti-government slogans and demanded security and safety for civilians. Afghan television stations carried live coverage of the massive rally.
 
Protesters also chanted "Down with Taliban" and "Down with Daesh" (Arabic acronym for Islamic State).

Rally participants also called for President Ashraf Ghani and his chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, to step down, accusing them of neglecting the victims after they were kidnapped.

Afghan security forces fired warning gunshots to disperse the angry demonstrators after some of them tried to storm the gate of the presidential place.

A large number of women are also among the protesters in Kabul and they have vowed not to disperse until their demands are met.

Protest rallies were also reported in other parts of Afghanistan. 

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan condemned the murder of the seven civilians. 

A statement issued Wednesday quoted mission chief Nicholas Haysom as saying that the deliberate murder of civilian hostages, including women and children, is particularly abhorrent. 

“These senseless murders may amount to war crimes and the perpetrators must be held accountable,” Haysom said, adding the U.N. Mission expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

President Ghani called for calm and said a special investigation is underway into the incident to bring the killers to justice.

“We want peace and progress in Afghanistan and we all should demonstrate national unity to defeat enemy attempts to divide us," said the Afghan president in a nationally televised address Wednesday.

The Islamic State group, which controls large parts in Iraq and Syria, is slowly extending its influence in parts of Afghanistan.

Some in Afghanistan have accused the Taliban of carrying out the beheading of the civilians. A spokesman of the Islamist insurgency, Zabihullah Mujahid, when contacted, said the Taliban has nothing to do with the incident.

Instead, he claimed its fighters have taken action against Daesh insurgents responsible for the violence and have eliminated them from Zabul.

Mujahid went on to assert that deadly clashes in the Afghan province over the past week were not between Taliban rival factions as had been reported in the media.

They were between Taliban and Daesh fighters to punish the rebels for committing atrocities against Afghan civilians, he added. 


Real estate-related services (paid category)

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8725-12/23/15

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


Rich Coast Rollover
Thinking of Buying a Vacation or Retirement Home
in Costa Rica?

Rich Coast Realty is a full-service real estate company with property listings in Escazú, Santa Ana, Jacó, Esterillos, Bejuco, Palo Seco, Manuel Antonio, and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. We work hard to find you the property of your dreams, and assist with legal advice, residency, starting corporations, opening bank accounts, etc. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in, and relocating to Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate, we look forward to hearing from you.
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
www.RichCoastRealty.com
8790-2/28/15

Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo
Photo montage of penthouse
Are you  tired of wasting time searching your home….. with no results?
If so, you should not miss this deal !!!


Special Offer

Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo

* Located on 6th floor.
* Elevator.
* Security 24/7.
* Pool, BBQ area.
* 2 underground
        parking,  cellar.

* 3 bedrooms.
* 2 bathrooms.
* 2 terraces.
* Luxuriously
           furnished.
* Negotiable price.

* Enjoy the view,  CLICK HERE
Mafi Real Estate: Houses, lots and farms in Costa Rica
If you do not find, what are you looking for, contact us
WE HAVE A NETWORK OF OVER 500 brokers across the country to get what you are looking for.
English Calls: Miguel Fiatt Sauma or Paule Ortiz
Phone/Fax.+506 2238-5029
Cel. +506 8399-7000
Email: mfiatt@mafirealestate.com 
Web Page: www.mafirealestate.com
8609-2/20/16

Remax logo
Re/Max Ocean Surf and Sun:

The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about sCosta Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and commercial real estate.  Call us: Ocean Surf and Sun Int. Realty Ldta at 011 (506) 2653-0073 or send us an email at: info@remax-oceansurf-cr.com
8583-1/27/16

Real estate for sale (paid category)


Fonseca two
Lovely east coast property for sale
This is a huge property surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens. The house is about 85% built, but I will give you the property completely finished.  The whole land includes 7,886 m2 or 84,884 ft2 of forest and gardens in a mountain area of Cimarrones, Limón, east coast. Full house with large master bedroom plus bathroom. One extra guest bedroom. Large dining room. Large kitchen area. Another extra bathroom for guests. Large laundry room and two cellars (storage areas). The house has wide corridors where you will see a breathtaking view of large gardens and forest.  I am open to hear your offer. The full property and land price is $125,000. Call Harold Fonseca, Phone number (506) 8702-4217, Email: hfonseca24@gmail.com
8847-112/10/15

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:   djake888@yahoo.com
8846-4/10/16

puriscal photo
Costa Rica home for sale $163,500 / 2bedroom - 1,984 ft2

Central Valley view home: 10 minutes from Santiago de Puriscal and shopping, hospital services, and soon Maxi Pali. Only one hour to San José or Pacific beaches.
- On .55-acre lot with river on one boundary
- Area under roof, 1,984 sq. ft., Area inside walls, 925 sq. ft. Steel, recycled
      Styrofoam, and concrete construction.
- 2 ½ years old with central living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths,
       ceramic tile throughout.
- Central Valley volcano and SJO airport views from every room.
- Vaulted ceilings give bright open feeling.
- Entrance from concrete road to large graveled parking area
- VERY energy efficient with VERY low property taxes.
- Covered attached carport with entrance to front door or laundry-guest bath
       door.
- 2 carport storage bodegas.
- 12 foot x 14 foot storage bodega
- Security lights, And Amcrest day & night video recorder system.
- Producing banana trees, and mango, bread fruit, and guanabana trees
     planted.

Includes: Refrigerator, gas stove & oven with electric grill element, microwave, electric washer-gas dryer stacked style, gas on demand whole house water heater. Other furnishings are negotiable. ICE electric service and land line phone. Bajo Burgos Water district. Metro-wireless WiFi is available. Tigo Star Satellite T.V. House is in a Costa Rican corporation, will transfer shares. Contract indyj5vw@yahoo.com or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album
8844-5/11/16


Goetl in Palo Seco

Charming small oceanfront hotel for sale in Playa Palo Seco
Ideal oceanfront location with back up to a mangrove estuary. The
charming small hotel has a fully equipped kitchen, bar and restaurant and is exceptionnally well maintained. Located on a very private beach of the central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica 35 minutes north of Quepos-Manuel Antonio and 45 minutes south of  Playa Jacó. The main building is a two-storey house with 12 bedrooms. The lot measures 3,054 M2. Beautiful gardens around the large pool and exceptional flora and fauna. Well mentioned in tourist guides like Lonely Planet and Guide Ulysse. Offered at $999,000. USD
e-mail:  marietta234@yahoo.es 
or call (506) 8707-1037  (506) 2778-8408
Web   http://mariettedaignault.point2agent.com
8843-1/2/16

Cohen
For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
www.hotel4salecostarica.com
www.hotelsescazu.com
hotelescazu@aol.com
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
410-975-6703
In Costa Rica 8307-0164
8828-12/19/15

Pacific Sur montagee

These 2 lots are in the Pacific southern zone,
Tres Rio/Coronado de Osa. 

Will give a great deal on one of these lots, only $29,990.  Both of these lots have water, phone lines, Internet accessibility, electricity, easy 3 kms. access to the Costanera.  2-wheel drive accessible.  Close to new hospital, beautiful beaches and county services.  Financing available.   Lote 234, This corner lote is excellently located in lower Tres Rios.  Has 2 well-sculptured lots for 2 houses or one for multiunit cabins.  Lote 236,  1 1/2 hectare.  Big lote for building a grand house, with a smaller plantel for a cabin.  Small ocean view with great sunsets.  Watch the videos for more information, Planos,  and details.   Email: escapetyranny2cr@gmail.com. CR phone   2786-5555. USA call  760-536-4717 YouTube link for more real estate deals. 
8827-11/19/15

Escazu villa
Escazú villa. spectacular 360 degree city and mountain views.
Enjoy the sunsets along with the sunrise

There are special properties, which are more than mere houses. Where you can appreciate moments where you build memories. Relaxing reading in the garden of 5000 sq. m. Places to enjoy moments with family or friends with large heated pool. Beautiful city views of San José with mountain view. Places, where you can enjoy the comforting warmth of the sun throughout the day with cool nights of living 1,300 meters up on your own Mountain Noel. You are away from all the noise of San José, yet you are only 15 minutes drive there. Costa Rica largest mall is also only 15-minutes drive away.
The main house four bedrooms with four bathrooms, large office with built-in wood cabinets, and beautiful hardwood ceilings throughout the whole house. The main house is 330 sq. m. For your guest, there is a self-contained apartment of 100 sq. m. consisting of two bedrooms and two baths. Nice layout with a living room and dining room and kitchen all have views. For being so near to the city and to have that much land is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The selling price is land value will throw in the house and the apartment. Price is $690,000. Contact jamescorreo@gmail.com.
8824-11/15/15

Osa home
Costa Rica Tropical Paradise Beach House For Sale
Tropical 5-acre forested beachfront property with custom house and guest casita on the Osa Península, South Pacific Coast. Abundant wildlife, exotic plants and fruits, secluded beach.

Located 8 km south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $775,000. Contact: osaroger@gmail.com
Watch this video for full details.
8816-1/2/16

montage
Big House for Sale in Playa Grande,
Santa Cruz, Guanacaste
834.62 square meters property with 326 square meters construction. Two-storey house with front porch, entry lobby, living room, dinning room, large kitchen, breakfast room, large cupboard, 3 ½ bathrooms, 3 large bedrooms, the main bedroom includes jacuzzi and balcony. Playground, office, laundry area, garage for two cars, own and municipal potable water supply, electricity service, cable TV system, A/C. Located 700 meters from Las Colinas Golf Course, near the airport, Tamarindo Beach and the best beaches of the country. Excellent construction and great details. Price $349,000. 2,866.33 square meters building lot with three terraces. Price $75,000. For more information, please contact us:
Email stanleystephendorn@yahoo.com Phone (506) 2653-6417.
Cell (506) 8825-8942 / (506) 8916-0734.
8789-11/27/15

private ranch home
Small private ranch for sale
This exceptional private ranch sits on a 9+ hectare lot and supports 15-20 horses. Only 2 hours south of San José, on the road to Puriscal. Roomy stalls all with drains, water hookup, lights and fans, grooming and shoeing área. Two-story house all furnished and cowboy house. Don't miss your chance on that turnkey operation.  Offered at $749,000.
E-mail:  marietta234@yahoo.es  or call (506) 8707-1037 
(506) 2778-8408 Web:   http://mariettedaignault.point2agent.com
8823-11/23/15

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: mmpeace@hotmail.com   Check out slide show HERE!
8736-1/1/16

Lantz
A beautiful American style suburban home just reduced.

A beautiful American style suburban home, 2,700 sq ft of living space with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, front and rear living rooms, laundry area, kitchen and small attached library nook, arched windows and doors and connected hallways, exotic wood interior ceilings and trim, tile floors thru-out.  The lot is 835 m2 with mature landscape and orchid nurseries surrounding the house. There is an enclosed workshop and BBQ area in the back yard with lots of storage under roof, plus a nursery for an herb/vegetable garden.  This is a very well-kept property with many upgrades, a private feel but yet only 5 minutes from the center of town.  Pérez Zeledón is the commercial hub of the southern zone and considered to be one of the best places to live in all of Costa Rica, the perfect size town, not too big and not too small.  The beach is 45 minutes to the west and a short drive to the cool mountains is to the east. In between, this large valley has a moderate climate.  Pérez has plenty of modern goods and services, an excellent farmers market, private schools, private doctors and clinics, all you need without having to go to the crazy madness of San José.    Just reduced to $199,000.  Call  Jeff: 8824-8113 or 8725-8176.  Email:  angelsdad@me.com
8779-10/24/15

Pavones
Aerial Ocean and Volcano Views with Boutique Coffee! 33 Acres $380,000. Click HERE!
8822-11/12/15

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Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact: manager@crbusiness.biz.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page


San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 224
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Third positive test not enough for firing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The firing of a worker for drug use was not justified even though the man had been suspended twice before, according to the Sala Segunda, the high labor court.

The case involved a laborer working on the Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Reventazón for the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

The high court affirmed an appeal court decision to give the man money for his discharge. The electrical utility sought to fire the man without employer responsibility, something the court of initial jurisdiction ruled.

Although the labor code is silent on drug use, the use of drugs should be treated the same way as alcohol use, said the court.

The court also said that the drug tests involving blood and urine should be conducted with rigor and confidentiality. The drug involved was marijuana.

The man tested positive twice, but he also tested negative several times, said the summary of the case, which dates from 2012.

Marijuana says in the system for about a month.

The worker was allowed to attend a rehabilitation center, but the court said that no one in the company checked to see that he had done so.


Lawmaker cites Nicoya prison
opposition

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The justice ministry is running into trouble with plans to build a 576-bed prison in Nicoya.

Lawmaker Marta Arauz Mora of the Partido Liberación Nacional said Wednesday that residents of the area do not want such a facility.

The proposed prison is the third and smallest of three that the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz plans to build. The ministry is involved in controversy now about the early release of inmates and overcrowded prisons.

The lawmaker said that the opposition to the prison reflected local sentiment and that crime and drug use increase in communities where there are prisons.


$1 million for Costanera Sur paint job

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A handful of construction companies united to form a consortium that was the only bidder on putting lane markings on the Costanera Sur between  Dominical and Palmar Norte. The bid was opened Wednesday.

The consortium offered to do the job for 500 million colons, a bit short of $1 million.

The job includes putting down thermoplastic paint and installing 14,000 reflective lane markers. Expats have complained about the highway with new asphalt but with no lines.

The consortium is Consorcio Horizontes de Vías y Servicios de Centroamérica S. A.

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From Page 7:

U.S. housing market continues to recover

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. housing market continues recovery, with foreclosures in September down sharply from the same period a year earlier.

Tuesday's data from CoreLogic shows a drop of 17.6 percent. But that still means there were 55,000 homes where owners could not repay the mortgage loans. Severe problems in the housing sector played a key role in the financial crisis.

Another study of business confidence held steady as more small firms said they plan to buy business equipment, expect higher prices for their goods and indicate it is a good time to expand.

The report by the National Federation of Independent Business was tempered by a decline in the number saying they plan to hire new workers.

Meantime, government experts report prices for imported gasoline and other goods continued falling in October.

Falling prices for both imports and exports reflect low global commodity prices and the strong value of the dollar, which gives American consumers more goods for their money. But the strong dollar also means U.S.-made goods are more expensive and less competitive on global markets.

Falling prices are among the many economic issues under review by top officials of the U.S. central bank, which may raise interest rates later this month for the first time in many years. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to give a public speech today about the Fed's efforts to maintain stable prices and full employment in the wake of the financial crisis.

Also this week, the University of Michigan will report on consumer confidence, and a survey of economists is predicting a slight improvement.

Friday is when new retail sales data comes out. Analysts predict a modest gain in the October figures. Economists watch retail sales closely because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity.