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Published Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 239
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Weekend activities increase with a Christmas tempo
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a craft fair, an orchestra program of Chinese compositions, choirs, a ballet and a special design exposition. There also is the Teatro Nacional nativity scene that attracts locals and tourists alike and the giant,  well-lighted Christmas tree at the Hospital de Niños.

Starting this morning at 10 and lasting through most of the day, the Feria Hecho Aquí will be held at the Antigua Aduana in San José. Organizers say that there will be a wide range of arts and crafts made by over 180 artisans and designers on display.

The fair will be happening all weekend from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. excluding Sunday when doors will close two hours earlier.

Representatives from the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud as well as the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo say the feria includes traditional crafts made from ceramic, wood, leather, and fabric materials. Also on display will be contemporary items like: clothes, accessories, glass, and recyclable materials.

Organizers also say that a parallel fair will be occurring within the larger event sponsored by the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres.

The Feria de Mujeres Empresarias, as it is called, will feature designs from 27 women artisans, they said. It shall be held at the same time as the feria, but in the Casa del Cuño and the esplanade. The location of the Antigua Aduana is on Calle 23 in northeast San José.

The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica will be performing tonight at 8 in the Teatro Auditorio Nacional del Centro Costarricense de Ciencia y Cultura in San José. The show titled “Historia China” will feature selected works from Chinese composer Xiaogang Ye.

“It's a very attractive concert because for the first time an Asian composer of such importance comes to Costa Rica . . . ,” said Gabriel Goñi, director of the Centro Nacional de la Música.

The show will include a presentation of the pieces: "Imágenes de Sichuan," "Noche Estrellada," "Concierto de la Vida," and "Polovstian Dances." All of these works are by the Chinese composer excluding the latter, which is by Aleksandr Borodín.

Tickets for this concert are on sale at the Centro Nacional de la Música at Los Colegios

A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
A donkey in town for the Teatro Nacional nativity scene receives attention from children.

de Moravia. They can also be purchased the day of performance at 6 p.m. They will be half off for all students and seniors with valid identification during their purchase at the office. The auditorium is in the Museo de los Niños complex at Avenida 9 and Calle 4.

Saturday the Teatro Nacional will play host to various choir groups for a program from 5 to 7 p.m. The choir groups participating include the: Escuela Buenaventura Corrales Choir, the Estudio Coral Armentum, the Rondalla de Veteranos of the Universidad de Costa Rica and the Divertimento Choir.

This is the event before the opening night of a contemporary ballet of “Alicía en el país de las maravillas” or “Alice in Wonderland” at 8 p.m.

This ballet is the brainchild and under the direction of María Amalia Pendones. According to the Teatro Nacional’s information on its Web site, the work is a two-act ballet which expresses the story in multiple forms of dance from classical ballet to contemporary dance and hip hop as well as through video animation.

The calendar and specified show times are on the Teatro Nacional’s Web site.

Those interested in seeing the glow of a Christmas tree while on their evening stroll can visit the enormous one in the vicinity of the Hospital de Niños. The picturesque and giant tree is a Christmas fixture with thousands of lights. The lights went on for the season Thursday night.

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A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
The casket containing former president Luis Alberto Monge Álvarez leaves the Catedral Metropolitana after his funeral Thursday in San José in the company of a Fuerza Pública honor guard and pall bearers. The 90-year-old politician died late Tuesday.

Progress made in recovery from hurricane

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Government workers report they are making progress in the areas hard hit by Hurricane Otto Nov. 24.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said its crews had reestablished power and telecom services in the last of the remote areas where it had been knocked out.

The Ministerio de Salud and the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias reported a big drop in residents in public shelters. At its high point, more than 5,300 persons were being housed in shelters. As of Thursday, the count was 1,496, including 30 who are in a shelter in Cartago as a result of a 5.3-magnitude earthquake there Wednesday evening.

There still are 25 shelters in operation in the hurricane zones. They were 17 in Upala, three in Bagaces in the northern zone and two in Golfito and three in Corredores in the southern zone.

The emergency commission declared a medium-level alert for the cantons of Turrialba, Alvarado, Jiménez and Oreamuno as a result of the earthquake and multiple strong after shocks that followed.

The quake was within four kilometers of the community of  Capellades de Alvarado.

There were reports of structural damage, falling objects and damage to the electrical and water systems.  There also were slides and cracks in the ground. One home collapsed in Juan Viñas de Jiménez, said the emergency commission. Emergency workers were in the area Thursday assessing the damage.

Trust was key to thefts, agents say

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The 22-year old male, who has been linked to household thefts that occurred in May or June of this year has been arrested, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

According to the report, the man is accused of contacting his victims over the internet and impersonating a public official or a doctor to gain their trust. From there, he arrived at their houses and, once inside, stole their belongings but mainly electronic devices, agents said. The cost of the stolen items in three cases exceeds well over a million colones, officials said.

The judicial investigators caught the man near the court buildings in San José.

Meanwhile, other judicial agents arrested another 22-year old male in San Pedro who, officials said, is suspected of armed robbery and assault.

This particular crime occurred on Sept. 30 around 8 p.m. when bandits entered a residence in San Pedro de Montes de Oca. They then attacked the residents and robbed the place of its electronics, officials say. One apparently had a firearm also, according to the report.

This suspect was apprehended on a street in San Pedro Wednesday morning.

Young entrepreneurs invited to gather

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A chance for young entrepreneurs to gather together and exchange contact information as well as ideas is being organized this weekend by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud in conjunction with the Ministerio de Economía, Industria, y Comercio.

The event will begin today at the Hotel Aurola Holiday Inn at downtown San José at 2 p.m. Later at 5 p.m., the displays for a fair will be opened in the Centro Nacional de la Cultura along with a circus show for entertainment.

The event continues with more activities and workshops Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m. There will be open presentations by the young entrepreneurs at their specific stations as well as various conferencing and networking activities for those interested in participating further.

These will be held at different times during the span of the event. To close the event, the Un Rojo reggae band will be performing at 5:30 p.m. along with some theater performances, organizers said.

According to the ministry, the event will bring together at least 20 exhibitions ranging from hair accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, candles, computer technology, and nanotechnology.

Concerts planned for the Municipalidad of Palmares

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad of Palmares is hosting a series of free activities for the holiday season. Beginning at 8 p.m. Dec. 10, there will be a concert held in the municipality pavilion by the Escuela Municipal de Música. The next day will hold a Concierto de Villancicos, Christmas songs, in the municipal pavilion at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. The Papel y Lápiz dance group will be performing in the boulevard of the municipality.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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International Baptist

Correos de Costa Rica graphics
This is the fruit salad that makes up this year's issue of the Ciudad de los Niños stamp.
This year's Ciudad de Niños postage stamp features a fruit assortment
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Electronics most certainly is eating into the money generated by an annual Christmas stamp for the Ciudad de Niños in Agua Caliente, Cartago, but Correos de Costa Rica came up with another one this year.

The four-panel postal stamp, whose distribution started Thursday, features Costa Rica fruit. Each stamp is 65 colons, about 12 U.S. cents. A 1958 law requires each letter mailed during December to bear one of the stamps. The entire amount

 collected from the additional stamp will be turned over to the Ciudad de los Niños, a home for boys.

This year's postal emission is a million stamps in 250,000 four-stamp blocks. Most will be purchased by collectors.  Correos de Costa Rica also puts out first-day covers for collectors and has developed a unique mark to cancel the stamps consistent with the theme, a piece of watermelon.

Designers were identified as Adriana Arias, Juan Carlos Alpízar, Pablo Barrantes.

Texas man living here named in hospital healthcare fraud indictment
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. citizen living here has been named as a participant in a massive healthcare fraud in Texas.

He is Wilton McPherson Burt, 61, who Department of Justice officials said is living now in Costa Rica. He had been one of two managing partners of the defunct Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas announced Thursday the indictment of Burt and 20 others on allegations that they paid about $40 million in bribes and kickbacks in order to get patients for the medical center.

A grand jury issued the indictments last month, and they were unsealed today.

As a result of the bribes, kickbacks, and other inducements, from 2009 to 2013, Forest Park billed patients’ insurance plans and programs well over half of a billion dollars and collected

more than $200 million in paid claims, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Burt was listed along with three others as a founder and an investor in the hospital. Two of the founders were medical professionals, an anesthesiologist and a bariatric surgeon, said the Justice Department.

According to the indictment, as part of the conspiracy, certain co-conspirators also paid bribes and kickbacks of $500 per month to approximately 40 primary care physicians and practices to refer patients to the hospital or to surgeons associated with the hospital. The referred patients were primarily ones with high reimbursing private insurance benefits or benefits under certain federally-funded programs, said the Justice Department. Patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid were sent to other hospitals.

Burt is facing at least 11 separate counts, as listed in the indictment, including two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 239
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Researchers seek to determine why the Sahara jungle became a desert
By the Texas A&M University news staff

The Sahara desert was once a tropical jungle. As little as 6,000 years ago, the vast Sahara was covered in grassland that received plenty of rainfall, but shifts in the world’s weather patterns abruptly transformed the vegetated region into some of the driest land on Earth. 

A Texas A&M university researcher is trying to uncover the clues responsible for this enormous climate transformation, and the findings could lead to better rainfall predictions worldwide.

Robert Korty, associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, along with colleague William Boos of Yale University, have had their work published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

The two researchers have looked into ancient precipitation patterns and compared them with present-day movements of the intertropical convergence zone, a large region of intense tropical rainfall.

Using computer models and other data, the researchers found links to rainfall patterns thousands of years ago.

“The framework we developed helps us understand why the heaviest tropical rain belts set up where they do,” Korty explains.

“Tropical rain belts are tied to what happens elsewhere in the
world through the Hadley circulation, but it won’t predict changes elsewhere directly, as the chain of events is very
Wikipedia Commons photo
The Saraha as it is today.

 complex.  But it is a step toward that goal.”

The Hadley circulation is a tropical atmospheric circulation that rises near the equator. It is linked to the subtropical trade winds, tropical rainbelts, and affects the position of severe storms, hurricanes, and the jet stream. Where it descends in the subtropics, it can create desert-like conditions. The majority of Earth’s arid regions are located in areas beneath the descending parts of the Hadley circulation.

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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 239
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Axiom new ad

Voice  of America photo  
A typical stand of psychedelic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms value cited
for anxiety and depression

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Psychedelic mushrooms appear to significantly ease anxiety and depression among cancer patients, according to two small studies.

The double-blind studies, done at Johns Hopkins and New York universities, found large doses of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushroom species, can provide relief for up to six months.

"The most interesting and remarkable finding is that a single dose of psilocybin, which lasts four to six hours, produced enduring decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms, and this may represent a fascinating new model for treating some psychiatric conditions," says Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Despite the apparent benefits of magic mushrooms, researchers caution that the study was done in tightly controlled conditions in a research setting and in the presence of medically trained monitors.

The Johns Hopkins study, which was done concurrently with scientists from New York University, looked at only 51 patients, while the latter university tested 29.

According to the Johns Hopkins study, “psilocybin decreased clinician- and patient-rated depressed mood, anxiety and death anxiety, and increased quality of life, life meaning and optimism,” according to a news release.

And the benefits appeared to last at least six months, with 80 percent of participants reporting decreases in depression and anxiety and 60 percent reporting normal levels of symptom remission. Even more, 83 percent, reported increases in life satisfaction.

About two-thirds of the participants reported the experience as one of the top five meaningful experiences in their lives, and about 70 percent reported the experience as one of the top five spiritually significant lifetime events.

There were some negative effects, according to Griffiths, who said 15 percent of study participants experienced nausea or vomiting. Some, about one in three, experienced psychological discomfort after taking the high dose. The same number saw a temporary increase in blood pressure. Others reported headaches.

Both studies were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Trump picks Marine general,
but change in rules needed

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President-elect Donald Trump has picked retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his Defense secretary, but Mattis will need a change in a federal law to be able to take the job.

Trump, appearing at a post-election victory rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday night, made his choice official after a day of unconfirmed media reports.

Gen. Mattis, who earned the nickname Mad Dog because of his comments that he likes to fight, was a commander in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But for Gen. Mattis to be approved by the U.S. Senate, Congress will have to waive a law requiring defense secretaries to be retired from active service for at least seven years. He retired in 2013.

Mrs. Clinton vote total grows
as late ballots are counted

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Democrat Hillary Clinton will not be the next U.S. president, but her popular vote lead over president-elect Donald Trump continues to expand in late ballot counting.

Thursday her lead grew to more than 2.5 million, a bigger margin than that amassed by 10 candidates who were elected as U.S. president. But the Republican Trump won where it mattered, in the Electoral College, with the election outcomes in each of the 50 states and the national capital city of Washington determining the winner, not the national vote count.

In the Electoral College, the winner of each state gets all the state's electoral votes, with the biggest states holding the most sway in the overall outcome. Trump, winning numerous states by relatively narrow margins, won the Electoral College, 306-232. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton collected a huge vote advantage in California, where absentee vote counting is still going on, and New York, which gives her the national popular vote lead.

Trump voiced annoyance this week at Mrs. Clinton's popular vote edge, saying, without producing any evidence, that he would have won the popular vote if millions of undocumented immigrants hadn't voted. Only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote and experts said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

While there's no chance that the election outcome will be reversed, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, with the support of the Clinton campaign, has called for recounts in three states that Trump won, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The recount started Thursday in Wisconsin, where Trump defeated Mrs. Clinton by 22,000 votes out of nearly 3 million votes that were cast. Trump is ahead by about 64,000 votes in Pennsylvania and 11,000 in Michigan.

U.S. Senate extends sanctions
for use if Iran behaves badly

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Senate has given final approval to an extension of the American sanctions law against Iran that lawmakers of both parties say is critical to enforcing the international nuclear accord with Tehran.

Thursday's tally was 99-0, with independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont the lone senator not to vote. The bill passed in the House of Representatives 419-1 last month.

Lawmakers of both parties argued the United States must maintain leverage over Iran.

"Preserving these sanctions is critical given Iran's disturbing pattern of aggression and its persistent efforts to expand its sphere of influence across the Middle East," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

"These authorities should remain in place as we address how best to deal with the Iranian missile tests, support to Hezbollah and support of the Syrian regime," McConnell added.

Enacted two decades ago, the sanctions were meant to address long-standing U.S. concerns such as Iran's support for international terrorism. Partially lifted under the nuclear accord implemented last year, lawmakers said sanctions should be kept at the ready.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action specifically provides for the snap-back of sanctions in the event Iran violates the provisions of the agreement, said Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin.

Iranian officials blasted the bill, arguing it violates the nuclear pact and will have consequences.

"They're bluffing," said Middle East expert Matthew McInnis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute. "The Iranians are quite committed to the deal. They understood that these types of legislation such as the Iran Sanctions Act, which have been in effect for a long time, would likely be renewed."

President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly slammed the nuclear accord during the campaign.

For now, lawmakers are keeping existing sanctions in place while not ruling out further measures to boost pressure on Iran in the future.

"President-elect Trump and his administration have the tools necessary to push back against the regime's hostile actions," Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from  Tennessee said in a statement. "I am pleased by the overwhelming support this bill received in both the House and Senate and look forward to continuing our work to hold Tehran accountable."

The White House said President Barack Obama has ample authority to impose punitive measures against Iran, with or without specific legislation, but issued no veto threat of the Iran Sanctions Act.

"The administration retains and has used substantial authority to impose sanctions against Iran," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "And we're not shy about using it."

Australian students show up
U.S. drug vulture Shkreli

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The one-time most hated man in the U.S. may have been foiled by a group of Australian students.

Martin Shkreli rose to infamy in 2015 when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of a drug called Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The anti-parasitic drug is used by some patients with malaria or AIDS.

Now, Shkreli, who is for many a symbol of greed, faces competition from a group of Australian high school students who developed 3.7 grams of the main active ingredient in the drug, pyrimethamine, for just $20.

Daraprim usually retails for about $1.50 per pill in Australia and Britain. The students say they were inspired by the high prices in the U.S.

"It seems totally unjustified and ethically wrong," student James Wood said, "It's a life-saving drug and so many people can't afford it."

The drug was developed in the 1950s, but Shkreli acquired rights to it in 2015 and increased the price by 5,000 percent. Shkreli excused the hike, saying the drug was specially designed.

After public outrage, Shkreli lowered the price.

Enterprising Australian high schoolers are not the only problem for hedge-fund manager Shkreli. He was arrested last December on allegations of securities fraud. He goes to trial next year.

Ban apologizes for cholera
that followed Haitian quake

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized to the people of Haiti Thursday, more than six years after U.N. peacekeepers were blamed for causing a deadly cholera epidemic on the island nation.

“On behalf of the United Nations, I want to say very clearly: We apologize to the Haitian people,” Ban told an informal meeting of U.N. member states.

“We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti. We are profoundly sorry for our role,” he added.

The secretary-general addressed the Haitian people directly, making his apology in both Creole and French, as well as English.

Ban's apology, his most direct to date, fell short of admitting that U.N. peacekeepers brought the potentially fatal illness to Haiti.

“We now recognize that we had a role in this, but to go to the extent of taking full responsibility for all, is a step that would not be possible for us to take,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told reporters.

It is widely accepted that Nepalese peacekeepers who were sent to assist Haiti in its recovery after the devastating 2010 earthquake, contaminated a branch of the Artibonite River with cholera.

The river is the country's main water source for tens of thousands of Haitians. Subsequently more than 9,000 people died of the disease, which can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, and some 800,000 were sickened.

Haiti's U.N. Ambassador Denis Regis said the U.N.'s apology represents a radical change of attitude.

“The U.N. has shown it can admit making mistakes as well as draw the lessons for the future and address the harm and damage done, even when done involuntarily,” the envoy said.

The United Nations released a 16-page report Thursday which details a new approach to cholera in Haiti. It calls for $400 million in initial funding.

It involves intensifying the U.N.'s support to reducing and ultimately ending the transmission of the water-borne illness through improved access to health care and treatment. It also seeks to address the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems in Haiti.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and did not have an adequate sanitation infrastructure at the time of the 2010 earthquake, which contributed to the rapid spread of the disease and difficulty in containing it. The government has said it wants to eradicate cholera by 2022.

Putin reported ready to work
with Trump to improve ties

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia is ready to cooperate with the administration of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump.

Speaking during his annual state of the nation address to the Russian parliament and the Federal Council, Putin said cooperation between Russia and the United States in addressing global and regional issues is in the interest of the whole world.

The two countries "share responsibility for ensuring international security and stability, strengthening non-proliferation regimes," he said, adding that any attempt to break strategic parity would be extremely dangerous and could lead to a global catastrophe.

Putin said he is counting on an alliance with the United States in the struggle against a real, not an imaginary threat of international terrorism.

The Russian military, he said, is accomplishing that task in Syria, where it has inflicted significant damage on terrorists.

During the U.S. presidential campaign, Republican candidate Trump praised Putin's leadership and criticized Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton for speaking very badly of Putin. Several days after Trump's election victory, the Kremlin said he and Putin had agreed in a telephone call that U.S.-Russian relations were unsatisfactory and that they should work together to improve them.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 239
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Casa Presidencial photo
The larger-than-life statue of former president José Pepe Figueres is back in the downtown plaza that was renamed Thursday as the Plaza de la Democracia y la Abolición del Ejército. Among other actions, Figueres abolished the military in 1949. The refurbished statue is now accompanied by two figures of children in the location just west of the Museo Nacional.

International film festival about to begin

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Costa Rica Festival Internacional de Cine begins Thursday through Dec. 17.  This festival, promoted by the Centro Costarricense de Producción Cinematográfica and the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud, will draw together 16 projects to show in the Teatro de la Danza, Cine Magaly, the Anfiteatro del Centro Nacional de la Cultura, the Teatro 1887, and the Teatro de La Aduana. The showtimes and the descriptions of the individual films can be obtained from the festival Web site.

According to organizers, nine Costa Rican projects were chosen out of the sixteen total for the Foro de Presentación de Proyectos section. This forum will award a prize of 4.7 million-colons toward supporting the development of the film chosen to be worked on. These films are separate from the ones being presented in theaters.

“The quality of the projects presented this year is remarkable and we are proud to present a selection of the films that are being developed or finalized in the region,” said Fernando Rodríguez, the director of the Centro de Cine. 

Contest participants are supposed to present their projects in private sessions before a jury of representatives of the international film industry, organizers said. They are expected to receive personal feedback from the jury’s members and other guests. From there, three winners will then be selected and given prize money for their work.

The first movies will be played Thursday at 6 p.m. for “The Girl Without Hands” and “Toni Erdman.” The former will be shown at Teatro 1887, while the latter will be shown at the Teatro de La Aduana.

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IRS gets unprecedented crypto-currency access

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Millions of anonymous users of the crypto-currency exchange Coinbase may soon have their real identities released to the U.S. Department of Justice for potentially violating U.S. tax law.

Wednesday the U.S. District Court for Northern California ruled that the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, may serve what is legally known as a John Doe subpoena upon Coinbase for users' personal information. A John Doe summons does not name specific individuals or entities, but can provide sweeping authority for access to countless records.

The order grants federal access to the identities of U.S.-based Coinbase users who made transfers between crypto-currencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, to traditional currencies, such as dollars, between Dec. 31, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2015. Coinbase recently estimated on its Web site that just under 5 million persons around the world use its services, and analysts note the extensive two-year reporting period could potentially ensnare millions of users.

In court documents, lead IRS investigator David Utzke said his team had identified and interviewed three taxpayers who were corporate entities that had sought to hide millions of dollars of transactions through Bitcoin transactions.

Utzke and the Department of Justice argued in court that the relatively anonymous nature of crypto-currencies made it significantly likely that many more users were hiding money in Bitcoin or Ethereum and failing to pay taxes on that income.

Attorneys for Coinbase had argued that using a John Doe subpoena created major violations of users’ privacy and their expectation of being audited by the IRS. In a statement posted on its Web site, Coinbase argued "the government has not alleged any wrongdoing on the part of Coinbase and its petition is predicated on sweeping statements that taxpayers may use virtual currency to evade taxes."

But District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley disagreed, ruling that there is a reasonable basis for believing that some Coinbase users had been evading U.S. tax law by trying to hide assets.

Crypto-currencies provide relative, but not complete, user anonymity through the use of what's known as blockchain technology. Essentially a large-scale publicly-distributed ledger, a blockchain encodes transactions into blocks. Each new block is attached at the end of a long string of transactions and locked in place, making tampering with the transaction record theoretically impossible.

Services like Coinbase provide a digital wallet that allows users to save, spend and transfer financial assets back and forth from traditional currencies to digitally-based crypto-currencies.

The ruling, which is likely to be appealed, has the potential to cause major disruptions in crypto-currency markets around the world. It will also be watched closely by many other governments that have struggled to shine a light on this relatively hidden financial sphere.