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(506) 2223-1327                         Published Wednesday Dec. 4, 2013,  in  Vol. 13, No. 240                              Email us
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Tree lighting
Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo

Holiday moves
into high gear

The country is alive with tree lightings, Christmas carols and other holiday activities.

Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo held its tree lighting at the Cartago campus and punctuated it with  fireworks, as the photo shows.

Tonight the Museo de los Niños illuminates its facade with holiday lights. An elaborate show is planned for children, and a crowd is expected. Adjacent avenues will be closed in north San José.

The Fuerza Pública illuminated its tree at the Barrio Córdoba headquarters Tuesday, too.

The Plaza de la Cultura saw the third night of Christmas musical performances Tuesday night, too.

New $5 land exit tax remains in force less than a day
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government appears to have suspended the new $5 land exit tax, but there has been no official confirmation.

John Koger, who runs A Safe Passage, reported this Tuesday and said that the suspension was because of the problems at the border crossing after the new tax went into effect Monday. The suspension was Monday night, he said. Koger is an agent for bus companies, including Tica Bus that makes daily trips to Nicaragua.

The Dirección General de Migración, which had announced the new tax Nov. 26, was unable to confirm the suspension Tuesday afternoon.

An anonymous employee posted to the agency's Facebook page that there had been no official notice from the government, presumably the tax agency, the Dirección General de Tributación.

Other readers reported that they had heard the tax was suspended.

Koger said that he had confirmed the suspension via telephone call to immigration and that officials
will post an announcement in the La Gaceta official newspaper when the tax goes back into effect. However a reporter's calls to the agency went unanswered.

That seems to be a continuing problem because there are postings on the agency's Facebook page in which persons say they failed to get a reply to text messages or to telephone calls.

The problems were predictable because the tax went into effect before there was a way for travelers to pay it at the border crossings. The immigration agency said that credit card machines will be installed, but when the tax was announced, the agency said travelers had to buy proof of payment at a bank.

The tax agency said last week it had entered into an agreement with Banco Crédito Agrícola to handle the money the same way that the bank handles the airport exit tax. Within two weeks, the bank was supposed to have automatic machines to collect the tax from credit and debit cards and give receipts at  Paso Canoas, Río Sereno-Sabalito, Sixaola and Peñas Blancas. These are the major crossings.

Koger noted that Tica Bus will let passengers pay the tax at its terminal when it goes back into effect.

Drawing Friday will name World Cup opponent
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The world soccer association will go ahead with its controversial decision to stage World Cup matches at midday in tropical venues, the organization's president said Tuesday, as the governing body announced a bafflingly complex procedure for Friday's drawing to pair up teams.

Sepp Blatter, is the president and the organization is the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, which sponsors the World Cup soccer tournament.

Costa Rica is in what is being called Pot 3 along with Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia, the United States, Mexico and Honduras. These teams will be paired up for the first-round competition. Fans here will be watching the drawing intently.

Pot 1 features the top seeds: Brazil, the host nation, alongside Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland.

Not only does the drawing determine the competing
team but it also determines where the match will be played.

General Secretary Jerome Valcke caused general bewilderment among listeners Tuesday as he tried to explain the workings of the draw.
“It's not easy to understand it the first time, I agree with you,” he said as the confusion became clear. “It took me some time to be sure I had the right explanation.”
A team's place in the draw will determine how much traveling around the vast hinterland of Brazil, the world's fifth largest country by area, will be involved, and may therefore not be as beneficial as in the past.

Some teams will play in the intense heat of the northeastern cities Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador or Recife. Kickoff times could also pose a threat to a team's chances, depending on whether they play in the humid north or the chilly south.

Brazil kicks off  June 12 in Sao Paulo.

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Holiday occupancy estimated
to be around 80 percent

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hospitality operators expect at least 80 percent occupancy over the holiday and firm reservations already are about 60 percent, said the  Cámara Nacional de Turismo, which surveyed 134 establishments.

The expectations cover from Dec, 13 to Jan. 5, the peak of the high tourism season.

The average expectation of all the establishments was 78 percent, said the chamber.

The chamber said that officials hope that occupancy will be higher than the 74 percent that was registered in the same period last year.

The survey broke down the hospitality businesses by geographical location.

The expectation was:

Central Pacific 87 percent; Puntarenas, islands in the gulf and including Monteverde, 83 percent: south Pacific, 79 percent; Guanacaste, 77 percent; the Caribbean coast, 76 percent; the northern zone, 75 percent, and the Central Valley, 72 percent.

The chamber also said that five-star hotels with 100 or more rooms anticipated better than 90 percent occupancy.

The nature of the survey and the number of respondents means that each percentage should be considered a broad range. The chamber will provide actual figures in January. Previous estimates had been fairly accurate.

The Central Valley usually has the lowest occupancy during holidays due to the movement of vacationers to beaches and the mountains.

The hospitality industry relies on the holiday season to provide the lions share of its annual income.

  Ministerio de Gobrnación, Polícia y Seguridad Pública photo   
Police officer displays some of the confiscated explosives.

Woman on bus was importing
fireworks, Fuerza Pública says

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública made its first haul of illegal fireworks less than 24 hours after officials announced a major crackdown for the holidays.

The location was in Santa Cecilia, La Cruz, Guanacaste, where a woman was found bringing some 2,487 individual fireworks in from Nicaragua. She was on a bus.

Police said they found the fireworks under a seat.

Monday officials said that some 3,000 officers were being detailed to find illegal fireworks. The rule in Costa Rica is if it explodes it is illegal. Still illegal rockets and other devices are easily available around the holiday season.

State power firm again
rejected for a rate hike

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The rate setting agency has again rejected a tariff increase for the  Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

The state power generating firm sought increases of from 2.8 to 13.18 percent Sept. 13.

The agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, said there were inconsistencies in the data that was provided.

The rate setting agency has rejected four rate increase requests from various power companies, including the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad this year and has awarded increases less than companies sought in three occasions, it said.

Amigos de la Educación
set dates for fundraisers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Amigos de la Educación in Guanacaste will be holding its annual tournament this year at a miniature golf course. The organization raises money for education and scholarships in that area.

The Have a Heart St. Valentine's Day fundraiser this year will be taking place on three separate days, said the organization in a release. Feb. 8 the annual silent auction and cocktail party takes place at  Hotel Cala Luna. Feb. 14, St. Valentine's Day, there is the first Cena Con Amigos gourmet dinner at Villa Alegre B&B providing local chefs to showcase their talents.

Then Saturday, Feb. 15, there is the miniature golf tournament at the new Bolas Locas course next to Dragonfly restaurant.

The day will include a street party with food, entertainment, music and activities for all ages. For more information readers can contact Amigos office at 2653-1945 or email

Lawmakers vote their approval
of bill against dog fighting

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers have passed out of committee a proposed law that prohibits dog fights and restricts the raising and sale of what are considered aggressive breeds.

The action was Tuesday afternoon in the Comisión de Asuntos Agropecuarios. The vote was unanimous to send the measure to the full Asamblea Legislativa.

The bill would prohibit actual fights among dogs but also any show or display that implies aggression by dogs, involved maltreatment or caused injuries to the animals.

The bill prohibits the breeding and sale of animals for the purpose of dog fights and also said that owners of American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terriers, have to seek permission to breed or sell the animals. The restriction also would apply to any breed designated by the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal.

Five detained as members
of mall store shoplifting ring

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police said they have detained three women and two men as suspects in a shoplifting ring that took up to $20,000 in clothing, cell telephones and electronic equipment from mall stores in Heredia, Cartago and San José.

The thefts were said to have taken place from January through November. Agents confiscated a number of items in raids they made at six locations Tuesday morning. They said some of the items still had price tags and security devices attached.

The shoplifting operated in the usual way with some individuals distracting employees while others took items. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that it appears that some items that had security devices attached were put in bags lined with aluminum so that sensors at the door were not activated.

The raids were in Desamparados, San Sebastián, Alajuelita and Tibas.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday,  Dec. 4, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 240
Real Estate
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new stamps
Correos de Costa Rica graphic
Holiday stamp issue will benefit boys home in Cartago
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Correos de Costa Rica has come out with a new stamp issue to benefit a boys school in Lourdes, Agua Caliente de Cartago.

The issue is titled  "Pro-Ciudad de los Niños 2013: and consists of four 60-colon stamps featuring winners of an art contest held for this purpose.

The stamps depict the Cachí dam, Chirripó, the beauty of Costa
Rica and an historic church structure.  Correos released the stamp Monday with little fanfare.

As with a previous issue in 2009, the money paid for the stamp will benefit the residential institution run by the Augustinian Order. More than 300 young men, mostly from low-income families, live at the facility.

Like many of Correo's stamps, this one was designed by Cristian Ramírez Vargas and printed at Gozaka S.A., La Uruca.

new bridge
A.M. Costa Rica/Cody Gear
Makeshift pedestrian bridge gives way to a one-lane, modern structure suitable for vehicles.
In Costa Rica, it takes a community to build a bridge
By Casey Bahr
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

It took five years, but Saturday a small community in southern Costa Rica finally got a replacement bridge spanning the Río San Ramón River.

The site is about 5 miles northwest of San Isidro de El General. More than 40 residents for whom the bridge provides a much shorter route to a nearby medical clinic, stores and churches, came together for the celebratory dedication ceremony at the western end of the span.

The mayor of San Isidro, Vera Corales, who helped fund the project, also attended.

Joining the mayor was Luis Valverde, who has been a catalyst for numerous infrastructure improvements in the locality since his arrival 25 years ago. Valverde maneuvered through ever-changing requirements and promises from government
bureaucrats for over four years before receiving project approval. Ten months later, the bridge was in place.

The city donated an engineer to oversee construction and provided some materials, but as is usual in Costa Rica, the community put up the lion’s share with weekly donations of money and construction labor. The new bridge is far superior to the one it replaced. The span was increased by 33 percent and the larger piers were set two meters below the riverbed. The chance of another washout is now slim.

The previous suspension bridge, built in 1994, survived Hurricane César in July 1996 and Pacific cyclone Alma in May 2007. It washed out, however, during a particularly forceful rainstorm just four months later. Residents salvaged cable and pylons from the remains of that bridge to construct a rickety, lurching footbridge, which still sways next to the new red span.

The new bridge is named Puente Kiko Chacón for Valverde’s father-in-law who died last January.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday,  Dec. 4, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 240
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Major study outlines differences between the brains of men and women
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
and the University of Pennsylvania news service

It turns out that men’s brains may literally be wired differently than those of women.  Researchers say the differences could explain why the sexes seem more suited to certain types of tasks than their counterparts.  For example, women seem to be hardwired for multitasking.

Using imaging techniques, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found men tended to display neural activity in one hemisphere of the brain for certain activities, while in women the activity bounces across hemispheres.

“These maps show us a stark difference — and complementarity — in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others,” said Ragini Verma, an associate professor in the department of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The study shows that on average men are more likely better at learning and performing a single task at hand, like cycling or navigating directions, whereas women have superior memory and social cognition skills, making them more equipped for multitasking and creating solutions that work for a group.

Past studies have shown sex differences in the brain, but the neural wiring connecting regions across the whole brain that have been tied to such cognitive skills has never been fully shown in a large population, the researchers said.

The study imaged brain activity of 949 people, 521 females and 428 males, using DTI imaging. DTI is a water-based imaging technique that can trace and highlight the fiber pathways connecting the different regions of the brain, laying the foundation for a structural connection or network of the whole brain.

Researchers found that in the cerebrum, the largest part of the brain, females displayed greater connectivity between the left and right hemispheres.  Males, on the other hand, displayed greater connectivity within each hemisphere.

By contrast, the opposite prevailed in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that plays a major role in motor control, where males displayed greater inter-hemispheric connectivity and females displayed greater intra-hemispheric connectivity.

These connections likely give men an efficient system for coordinated

University of Pennsylvania/Ragini Verma
Brain networks show increased connectivity from front to back and within one hemisphere in males (upper) and left to right in females (lower).

action, where the cerebellum and cortex participate in bridging between perceptual experiences in the back of the brain, and action, in the front of the brain, according to the authors. The female connections likely facilitate integration of the analytic and sequential processing modes of the left hemisphere with the spatial, intuitive information processing modes of the right side.

The findings meshed with other University of Pennsylvania studies in which females outperformed males on attention, word and face memory, and social cognition tests. Males performed better on spatial processing and sensorimotor speed. Those differences were most pronounced in the 12 to 14 age range.

The study was published this month in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.

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Real estate rental services (paid category)

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

Real estate for rent (paid category)

San Pedro, Lourdes:  Furnished four-bedroom house for  rent near U. Latina.  3 bathrooms.  Two bedrooms have private bath.  TV with cable, wireless Internet, washer, microwave, all linens on beds, phone, garage with electric door opener.  Front yard and back patio.  Minimum 6-month contract.  $800 a month. Call Rick at 2280-3548 or write to  Owner pays cable and internet.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

Beautiful studio home with garden patio
Completely furnished with best bed (Jiron™ Full), refri, stove, dishes, pans, etc. TV and high-speed internet connected. Free.
Located high above a river. You will sleep like a baby. Perfect weather, never too hot nor cold. Secure, private and secluded, and yet, only 10 minutes to San Isidro de El General (fairly large city in the mountains with everything) and from there, 40 minutes to beaches. Bus is close and costs 35 cents to San Isidro. Special price for single, long-term renter, nonsmoker: $425 + utilities. Go to and put in, #969365 for pics and full description Then write to us, Thanks. Email:

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80
stations, water, washer and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

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 
of Costa Rica. We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442.


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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday,  Dec. 4, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 240
Real Estate
About us


A.M. Costa Rica archives
Depiction of Neanderthal based on skull characteristics.

Neanderthal housekeeping
a surprise to researchers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

New research says Neanderthals organized their living spaces around certain activities, much like people do today.

The study shows that man’s close relative butchered animals, made tools and gathered round the fire in different parts of their shelters.

“There has been this idea that Neanderthals did not have an organized use of space, something that has always been attributed to humans,” said Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver and lead author of the study. “But we found that Neanderthals did not just throw their stuff everywhere but in fact were organized and purposeful when it came to domestic space.”

Using excavations at a collapsed rock shelter at Riparo Bombrini in Italy that was once inhabited by Neanderthals and humans for thousands of years, the archeologists found that the Neanderthal portions were divided into different areas for different activities.

The top level was used as a task site, likely a hunting stand, where they could kill and prepare game. The middle level was a long-term base camp and the bottom level was a shorter term residential base camp.

Riel-Salvatore and his team found a high frequency of animal remains in the rear of the top level, indicating that the area was likely used for butchering game.

In the middle level, which has the densest traces of human occupation, artifacts were distributed differently. Animal bones were concentrated at the front rather than the rear of the cave. This was also true of the stone tools, or lithics. A hearth was in back of the cave about half a meter to a meter from the wall. It would have allowed warmth from the fire to circulate among the living area.

The discoveries are the latest in continuing research showing that Neanderthals were far more advanced than originally thought, creating bone tools, ornaments and projectile points.

“This is ongoing work, but the big picture in this study is that we have one more example that Neanderthals used some kind of logic for organizing their living sites,” Riel-Salvatore said. “This is still more evidence that they were more sophisticated than many have given them credit for. If we are going to identify modern human behavior on the basis of organized spatial patterns, then you have to extend it to Neanderthals as well.”

The study was published in the latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Archaeology.

Obama and Santos agree
that peace process is difficult

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

President Barack Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos have met at the White House to discuss U.S. security and economic assistance for the South American country.  Obama also said peace talks with rebels are the right path for Colombia. 

Santos has used his U.S. visit to highlight progress in peace negotiations with guerrillas of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC.

The United States has been supportive, and Obama spoke about the issue during his visit to Colombia last year to attend the Summit of the Americas.

The U.S. and Colombia have a longstanding security relationship, but the U.S. has been re-focusing it to economic and development assistance, and promoting human rights progress in Colombia.

Obama said success on the security front has made a wider discussion possible on cooperation in areas such as education and enhancing economic opportunity for Colombia's people, along with energy projects and technology.

He directly addressed what he called Santos's bold and brave efforts to bring about a lasting and just peace in negotiations with the FARC.

"It is not easy.  There are many challenges ahead.  But the fact that he has taken this step, I think, is the right one, because it sends a signal to the people of Colombia that it is possible to unleash the enormous potential if we can move beyond this conflict," Obama said.

Santos thanked Obama for U.S. support for the peace process.

"It is a process that is doing very well, and it is my hope this is a conflict that will come to an end.  We have been shedding blood for over 50 years, and the support of the United States and the entire world is decisive in reaching that peace we all want," Santos said.

The Colombian president announced in November that he is seeking re-election.  His opponent is a former Colombian finance minister, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who has vowed to halt peace talks with FARC if elected.

In his remarks, Obama said he also spoke with Santos about efforts to improve human and labor rights in Colombia, saying this serves as an example for other countries.

Human rights organizations continue to be critical of Colombia and say government security forces, sometimes acting with paramilitary groups, and guerrillas are responsible for serious abuses.

In its budget request to Congress for the 2014 fiscal year, the Obama administration sought $323 million in aid to Colombia, a decrease of $61 million.

Aid to Mexico, another major regional partner, has also decreased, reflecting a shift in U.S. priorities as Washington increases funds for a Central America regional security initiative.

U.S. demands freedom
for contractor jailed in Cuba

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States called on Monday for the immediate release of an American contractor jailed for the past four years in Cuba, saying his continued captivity on the Communist-ruled island was gravely disappointing.
“Tomorrow, development worker Alan Gross will begin a fifth year of unjustified imprisonment in Cuba,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
It is gravely disappointing, especially in light of Cuba's professed goal of providing Cubans with Internet access, that the Cuban government has not allowed Gross to return to his family, where he belongs, the statement read.
Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, for his work on a semi-covert U.S. program promoting political change on the island. Cuba has said it considered the work to be subversive.
Gross said he was in Cuba to set up communications equipment to give unrestricted Internet access to Jewish groups. A judge said that activity was a crime against the Cuban state and sentenced Gross to 15 years behind bars.
“Mr. Gross is a 64-year-old husband, father, and dedicated professional with a long history of providing aid to underserved communities in more than 50 countries. We reiterate our call on the Cuban government, echoing foreign leaders and even Cuba's allies, to release Alan Gross immediately and unconditionally,” the State Department said.
The Gross case has often been described as an obstacle to any serious improvement in U.S. relations with Cuba after more than 50 years of hostility.

Asian students trounce world
in tests of academic skills

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

Students from Asian countries have outranked others worldwide in a test of high school students conducted every three years.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says 15-year-olds in Shanghai, China and Singapore scored the highest in math. 

The Program for International Student Assessment tested more than half a million students in 65 countries on math, reading and science.

Asian countries outperformed the rest of the world in math, with the United States scoring below average with no change from previous testing. 

In fact, the 15-year-olds in Shanghai scored the equivalent of two-and-a-half years of schooling above the top U.S. students.

The highest math scores were in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, and South Korea, followed by Macao, Japan, Liechtenstein, Belgium and Switzerland.  Organizers attribute higher scores to parental involvement, better teachers and higher expectations.
Jenny Jung has attended schools in South Korea and the United States.  She says her classes in South Korea lasted from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. and were often followed by tutoring.

"It’s very competitive there because it’s a relative grading system, so instead of here, where it’s an absolute grading system, where if you get over a 90, you get an A.  If you get over an 80, you get a B.  But in Korea, only like the top percentages can get an A," said Ms. Jung.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan would like to increase early childhood education and attract quality teachers.

"Virtually every one of the high performing nations attracts their teachers from the top 30 percent of the college graduating class and many from the top 10 percent," said Duncan.

Duncan called on policy makers to make the right choices.

"We know intellectually what the right thing is to do.  What we have lacked is the political will and the sense of urgency to take education to the next level," he said.

But the study shows money might not be the only answer.  The U.S. already spends $115,000 per student, which is more than most countries.  Yet students in the Slovak Republic, which spends less than half that amount, scored near the same level.

Angel Gurria, the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, warns the United States of consequences if the scores do not rise.

"It shows that we have a lot of homework.  It shows that somebody else is doing much better than us and if this continues, over the years, they are going to take away our cheese.  Because this translates into productivity, it translates into competitiveness, it translates into exports, it translates into jobs, it translates into well-being.  So this is not about just comparing the grades of students," said Gurria.

Critics fault the study for comparing small regions of the world to large countries.  They also say the test lacks an assessment of creative and critical thinking.

The one area in which U.S. students bested their peers was confidence in their math abilities.  The challenge for educators is to reflect that confidence in their test scores.

Detroit can default on debts,
judge decides in bankruptcy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

The once-prosperous industrial city of Detroit is now eligible for bankruptcy protection, and might pay only part of pensions and other financial obligations.
A bankruptcy judge approved this key step Tuesday in the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Unions facing pension cuts and other creditors are likely to appeal the decision.
Detroit is home to the U.S. auto industry and the city once had a population of 1.8 million. As U.S. automakers had difficulty selling their products the Motor City lost more than one million residents, which hurt property values and the tax base.
Mismanagement and borrowing compounded the financial problems and city services such as police, garbage pickup, and street lighting deteriorated.
Officials have until March to craft a plan to pay just a portion of Detroit's $18 billion long term debt. Creditors including unions, bondholders, and retiree groups are in mediation talks under judicial supervision, haggling over who will get paid and how much.

Guardian editor says paper
released tiny portion of leaks

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

Britain's Guardian newspaper has published less than 1 percent of the information leaked by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and kept the rest secure, editor Alan Rusbridger told a parliamentary committee Monday.
Summoned by parliament's home affairs select committee as part of its counter-terrorism inquiry, Rusbridger defended his decision to publish the leaks as some lawmakers suggested he had helped terrorists by making top secret information public and by transmitting it to other news organizations.
“We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we've seen, or 58,000 plus. So we have made very selective judgments about what to print,” he said. “We have published no names and we have lost control of no names.”
The Guardian was among several newspapers which published leaks from U.S. spy agency contractor Snowden about mass surveillance by the National Security Agency and Britain's eavesdropping agency GCHQ.
Guardian articles over the last six months have shown that the United States and some of its allies, including Britain, were monitoring phone, email and social media communications on a previously unimagined scale.
The revelations provoked diplomatic rows and stirred an international debate on civil liberties. Britain's security chiefs have said the leaked data had put lives at risk and the country's enemies were rubbing their hands with glee.

Countering criticism by some lawmakers and security experts, Rusbridger said more emphasis was being given to The Guardian's decision to publish the information than to the fact it had been so easily obtained in the first place.
“We were told that 850,000 people ... had access to the information that a 29-year-old in Hawaii who wasn't even employed by the American government had access,” he said.
Some on the committee suggested Rusbridger had committed terrorism offenses, and asked if he loved his country.
“We are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of the democracy and the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things,” Rusbridger said.
Earlier on Tuesday, The Guardian published a letter of support from Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.
Bernstein, 69, said Rusbridger's appearance before the committee was a dangerously pernicious attempt by British authorities to shift the focus of the surveillance debate from excessive government secrecy to the conduct of the press.
During Rusbridger's testimony, Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, announced it wanted to publicly question Andrew Parker, head of the domestic intelligence service MI5.

End of Prohibition is marked
by drinkers in United States

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

Many Americans this week will toast the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, a 14-year ban on the sale and production of alcoholic beverages that turned booze-smuggling thugs into celebrities and otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.

They may also want to toast one unintended consequence of Prohibition: a renaissance of cocktail creation that began as a way to make moonshine whiskey and bathtub gin more palatable. Creative bartenders have kept the tradition alive, and it continues to this day.

While the cocktail has been around since early 19th century, the combinations of spirits, sugars, water and bitters really started pouring into shakers during Prohibition.

In the 1920s, there were 15,000 speakeasies in Detroit, "Great Gatsby'' author F. Scott Fitzgerald favored gin rickeys and politicians and the famous hid out at New York's 21 Club with its secret wine cellar and disappearing bar.

Unlike saloons that were male bastions before Prohibition, speakeasies were coed and women, who had just gotten the vote, enjoyed a liberated lifestyle.

"The whole Prohibition cocktail thing was to cover up the poor quality of the alcohol,'' said John McCarthy, a bartender at New York's Bathtub Gin lounge.

An estimated 10,000 people died of alcohol poisoning during Prohibition from bad bootleg whiskies, tainted gins and a federal government program that added poison to alcohol to frighten folks from imbibing, according to "The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York.''

McCarthy credits the resurgence of cocktails to TV's Food Network with its celebrity chefs and cooking contests that popularize well-prepared foods.

Dale DeGroff, author of "The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks,'' agreed.

"If the culinary revolution hadn't happened, we wouldn't be where we are,'' said DeGroff. ``If we didn't have an audience that was willing to try new things and in love with these big flavors, we wouldn't be where we are.''

Flavored spirits starting with vodka have also fueled the cocktail craze. In addition to lemon and pepper, there is salted caramel and wedding cake flavored vodka and a host of other unusual pairings.

Other spirits have also gotten more flavorful, with maple syrup-laced Canadian whiskies and honey or cherry or apple-flavored bourbons and Scotches.

But McCarthy prefers to add his own flavors, mixing his own bitters, syrups and infusions.

"If I make a drink and you taste lemon, it's because I want you to taste lemon,'' he said.

McCarthy is working on perfecting a cocktail based on white rum, Szechuan peppercorns, pomegranates and lemon juice.

Ray Foley, editor and publisher of Bartender Magazine and author of "Bartending for Dummies,'' said cocktails are going  back to basics.

"The manhattan, the martini, the side car, they're all coming back,'' he said.

But there are still lingering reminders of Prohibition.  It was only last April that the governor of Kentucky signed a bill repealing a Prohibition-era ban on Election Day sales of alcohol. And in 2012, 33 of the 50 states still permitted towns and counties to be dry, or prohibit sale of alcohol within their borders.

To mark the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit devoted to the U.S. Constitution, is sponsoring a traveling exhibit, "American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,'' that began its national tour last month in St. Paul, Minnesota where it runs through March 16.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

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

                      • Building completion services
                      • Interior design & decoration
                      • Custom furniture design & manufacturing.

Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
Serving region for 10 years.
We regularly exceed client expectations. We guarantee it.
Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.

For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112.

Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert
Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Moran logo

Costa Rica,

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

Visit our Web Site:

English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 792
300 square meters of land, 195 square meters of construction HERE
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 square meters of construction. HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

long view

200 miles of panoramic views over the Gulf of Nicoya and from Nicaragua along the volcanoes of the Cordillera de Guanacaste down to Jacó and around the southern Nicoya Peninsula to the open Pacific. 55 acres located at an altitude of about 2,800 feet in a fresh eternal spring climate, forest and pasture plus an old avocado forest. Many home sites, hidden entrance, property roads, spring waters.  195,000 USD

Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

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

Becker montage
Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

House and guest house on adjacent half acre lots. Each with separate electric,  private septic and well. Each can be sold stand alone or packaged. Modern kitchen, granite counters, Viking stove, large separate frig and freezer. Private commercial grade septic and well. No water shortages even in dry season. High speed internet and U.S. standard electric. Center of the beach -- NEVER floods. Estuary at each end of the beach with excellent kayaking and bird watching through the mangroves. Excellent fishing right off the shore. Great surfing, horseback riding, bicycling or Turtle watching. Groceries three miles away. Mentioned in "The Lonely Planet" Page 301. "Two of the most beautiful and least visited beaches in Costa Rica. Wilderness beaches of fine silver-grey sand." Despite opportunities for great surfing, kayaking and just about anything else you want to do on a sandy strip of paradise, the beaches are nearly always abandoned. $500K Will finance.  More pictures available at:  Contact information:,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.


ULatina, UCR, & U Fidelitas San Pedro, San Jose. $185,000.
Quietly located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada, 500 meters north of Iglesia Lourdes, San Pedro. ULatina, UCR, U. Fidelitas, bus & new train station are within five minutes Four-bedroom, three and half-bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with secure entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. Security fencing with electric wire, and a CCTV recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house.  For additional peace of mind, this residence equipped with an independently wired security system, iron bars on windows and patio doors, a telephone communication system to contact the guard house and secure parking at your front door.   Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. A green park area inside the complex for your children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Cable TV/Internet lines and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Water storage tank with pump maintains high pressure to bathrooms on all three floors. American style washer and electric dryer, refrigerator, glass top stove, and kitchen cabinets included. Other furniture items may be available. Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 6011-6987   or  U.S. Phone:  (630) 886-4458  or   (305) 848-5577. C.R. Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799-4041  or  (506) 8363-9898.  Email:

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

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

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

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

humming bird nest

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

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

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

Business for sale or lease (paid category)
Jaco station
Gas Station/Auto Plaza
Located on the Pan American Highway, Jacó Beach, Costa Rica, Central America This property is  45,000  square feet or  18,000  meters Add a liquor and convenience store, automotive service, car wash, restaurant, pharmacy, Lotto sales, tour sales, ATMs,  etc, for a real money maker. Also future plans for a 80-unit auto motel and casino. See on YouTube at: Asking price  $4.5 million. Email or call: 8899-9870.

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

In the nine years of operation, DIGITS Resource Guide has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, and Osa Peninsula areas.  DIGITS is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive groundwork that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into an even greater level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner is retiring to another Latin American country. For a preview of the magazine, go to, or simply go to a local Distributor for a copy. Details on the business, its history, a strategic analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as a Pro-Forma Income Statement from 2008 through to 2013 are available upon request to aha_jm@yahoo.

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

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday,  Dec. 4, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 240
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Abrupt climate changes
feared to be within decades

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

A National Research Council report is raising concern about the increased potential for abrupt climate changes in the near future, meaning change in a few years or decades rather than centuries, leaving little time for society and ecosystems to adapt.

University of Colorado geological sciences Professor Jim White led the scientific committee assessing the risk.

"It is important to recognize that not only does climate change itself, but there are impacts, on human systems and on natural ecosystems, and the report looked not only at those rapid changes in the climate system itself, like changes in temperature, precipitation, but also looked at the fact that a slowly changing system can push other parts of the system past thresholds," said White.

He says such effects can be seen in the dramatic decrease in the amount of summer ice cover in the Arctic.  While that opens up more shipping opportunities, it also allows more sunlight to penetrate the water, promoting the growth of algae, changing and impacting the Arctic food chain from the bottom up.

As the number of frost-free days and the length of the growing seasons change, committee member Tony Barnosky, of the University of California, points to the increased extinction pressure on plant and animal species.

"What is happening is the planet is going to be warmer than most species living on earth today have seen it, including humans, by the year 2070," he said. "The pace of change that takes us there is actually orders of magnitude higher than what species have experienced in past tens of millions of years.  As a result, habitats are shifting and changing in ways that species just can not adapt to fast enough or move fast enough."

In its report, the committee calls for the development of an abrupt change early warning system.  It would monitor temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions, use improved computer models for predictions, synthesize and analyze the information, and communicate it to policy makers and the public early enough to give them time and flexibility to deal with the problem.

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From Page 7:

Industrial chamber recognizes high achievers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 19 organizations, both public and private, have been honored by the Cámara de Industrias de Costa Rica in its 16th edition of the Premio a la Excelencia.

There were 33 nominations that were studied in depth by 51 experts for nearly a year, said the chamber.

Sociedad Rentacar Centroamericana S.A, was the big winner with awards in four categories, said the chamber.

Other winners in the excellence category were Distribuidora Florex Centroamericana S.A. for the environment and Grúas y Montecargas Odio for focusing on the client and the market, the chamber said.