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Fire fighter monument
Cuerpo de Bomberos photo
With fire and smoke, the monument is christened.
Fire fighters unveil monument to dead colleagues
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There have been 12 fire fighters killed on the job in Costa Rica since 1947, and their colleagues honored them Thursday by unveiling a monument.

Three pieces of fabric coverings were pulled upwards simultaneously to display the monument. The Cuerpo de Bomberos used the crane-like ladder and platform of a snorkel truck to pull the fabric off the monument. The unveiling was accompanied by flames and smoke.

The monument shows a bronze fire fighter on the job with the nozzle of a hose in his hands. The bulk of the monument is of concrete.
The location is at the Academia Nacional de Bomberos in Desamparados.

The sculpture is the work of Edgar Zúñiga Jiménez.

This happens to be the Semana del Bombero, which is why the ceremony was held Thursday.

The 12 firefighters died from multiple causes, including traffic accidents on the way to an emergency, flooding, structural blazes and forest fires. Families of the dead firemen were invited to the unveiling.

Four of those who died were paid fire fighters. Eight were volunteers, said the Cuerpo de Bomberos.


Labor ministry to check more on domenstic workers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The labor ministry seeks to step up enforcement of laws protecting domestic employees even though much of the workforce is in private homes.

A vice minister, Eugenio Solano Calderón, was at the legislature Thursday for a book launch and said that his agency, the Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social, has to find ways so that labor inspectors can enter a home to learn about the conditions under which employees there work.

About 12.3 percent of the female workforce is involved in domestic services, and this occupation is the second most popular among females after business. No one stressed nationality Thursday, but many women in these occupations in the home are foreign, perhaps Nicaraguan.

The book is De criadas y sirvientas a mujeres trabajadores con derecho that came from the Fundación Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, The title shows the emphasis of the meeting, which was to stress that care givers and servants now are female workers with rights.

In October, Costa Rica accepted Convention 189 of the International Labour Organization. In doing so, the legislators promised to make sure the country's laws are consistent with what the international organization requires. For the most part, they are.

The convention sets out basic rules for domestic jobs. For example, a maid employed in a home must have 24 continuous hours of free time each week. And payments in kind, such as food and lodging cannot be the major part of the compensation.

Costa Rica differs with the convention because it prohibits domestic work for those under 18. The  
book
De criadas y sirvientas a mujeres trabajadores con derecho

convention establishes 15 as the minimum age.

Pilar Porras Zúñiga, a lawmaker, said Thursday that Costa Ricans prefer that children under 18 remain in school instead of working.

In fact, there are many underage domestic employees working illegally. this is probably one reason that Solano promised more effort in allowing inspectors to enter private homes to learn about conditions.

The labor organization estimated that about 100,000 women in Costa Rica are employed in domestic jobs.


Christmas festival will be in downtown parks this Saturday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
 
Enamorate de tu Ciudad, the capital's weekend festival, has its last edition for the season Saturday in downtown parks. Tents will be set up at Parque Morazán, Parque España, the adjacent Jardín de Paz, Parque La Merced on Avenida 2 and also at the
Centro Nacional de la Cultura, the old liquor factory on Avenida 7.

Artisans will have displays that relate to the Christmas theme, said the Ministerio de Cultural y Juventud. There also will be theater and musical events. The complete agenda is HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday,  Dec. 6, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 242

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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.


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President recognizes legacy
of Nelson Mandela on his death

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda has joined other world leaders in mourning the death of Nelson Mandela.

Casa Presidencial quoted the president expressing her condolences to the South African people and especially to Mandela's wife, Graca Machel.

"Today the world says good-by to Nelson Mandela, a leader who with his determination and ideals managed to liberate his people from oppression and injustice," said Ms. Chinchilla.  "A tireless fighter from the rights of the oppressed, the world mourns the absence of this Nobel laureate."

Ms. Chinchilla also pointed out that Fernando Volio, who died in 1996, was Costa Rican ambassador to the United Nations and he managed to get the world body to favor Mandela in his fight against apartheid and the white ruling class of South Africa.

Mandela’s life spanned more than nine decades, and he steered the nation out of its darkest days under the racist apartheid regime to the exuberant, democratic Rainbow Nation it is today. 

The news of his death came as no surprise. Mandela had been in and out of the hospital for much of this year, and the 95-year-old had lived a challenging and stressful life.
 
Mandela was once a young firebrand leader of the then-banned African National Congress, which opposed the racist, white-led apartheid regime.   Mandela led the group’s armed wing, an act that landed him in prison for 27 years.

Those were his, and South Africa’s, darkest days.
 
But the charismatic Mandela managed to keep his resolve and lead his struggle from his jail cell.  He emerged triumphant, having helped bring down apartheid and being elected president in the nation’s first all-inclusive elections in 1994.
 
He served but one presidential term, but it is for his lifelong struggle that he will be remembered, as a fighter and a prisoner turned statesman and peacemaker.

The task of telling the world of his death fell to President Jacob Zuma, a normally jovial leader who could not keep the sadness from his voice as he described the man so many South Africans consider the father of their nation.
 
"Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own and who saw his cause as their cause.  Our nation has lost his greatest son," he said. "Yet what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human.  We saw in him what we seek in ourselves and in him we saw so much of ourselves."  Madiba was Mandela's tribal name.


Male dancers are sought
for 2014 season performances


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Compañía Nacional de Danza is looking for a few good men.

The Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud said that dancers between the ages of 18 and 35 were being sought to fill out the male ranks of the company. Sought by the company are professional and advanced students for the 2014 season.

Resumes are being accepted until 4:30 p.m. today at the Centro Nacional de la Cultura on Avenida 7. Auditions are Saturday.

Those who apply should have knowledge of contemporary dance and classical ballet. They should be prepared to participate in national and international tours, said the ministry. Rehearsals and training start Jan. 13, the ministry said.


Minister got valve replaced
at hospital in Houston, Texas


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Edgar Ayales, the minister of Hacienda, is recuperating after heart surgery in Houston, Texas, earlier this week.

The ministry, which handled the nation's finances, released more information on the minister Thursday. The surgery was to replace a value in the aorta, the ministry said.

The surgeon in the case is David Paniagua, a Costa Rican, said the report. He is a cardiologist on the staff of St. Luke's Medical Center in Houston, but the ministry did not say where the surgery was performed.

The minster is expected to return to Costa Rica next week but will not be on the job again until January, the ministry said Monday.


Pleasant-smelling compounds
found to block, lure mosquitoes


By the University of California, Riverside news staff

Female mosquitoes, which can transmit deadly diseases like malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus and filariasis, are attracted to humans by smelling the exhaled carbon dioxide. They are capable of tracking a person down even from a distance.  But once they get close, they often steer away toward exposed areas such as ankles and feet, being drawn there by skin odors.

Why does the mosquito change its track and fly towards skin?  How does it detect the skin?  What are the odors from skin that it detects? And can the mosquito skin odor sensors be blocked and reduce attractiveness?

Recent research done by scientists at the University of California, Riverside can now help address these questions.  They report on Dec. 5 in the journal Cell that the very receptors in the mosquito’s maxillary palp that detect carbon dioxide are ones that detect skin odors as well, thus explaining why mosquitoes are attracted to skin odor — smelly socks, worn clothes, bedding — even in the absence of carbon dioxide.

“It was a real surprise when we found that the mosquito’s CO2 receptor neuron, designated cpA, is an extremely sensitive detector of several skin odorants as well, and is, in fact, far more sensitive to some of these odor molecules as compared to CO2,” said Anandasankar Ray, an associate professor in the Department of Entomology and the project’s principal investigator. “For many years we had primarily focused on the complex antennae of mosquitoes for our search for human-skin odor receptors, and ignored the simpler maxillary palp organs.”

Until now, which mosquito olfactory neurons were required for attraction to skin odor remained a mystery.  The new finding that the CO2-sensitive olfactory neuron is also a sensitive detector of human skin is critical not only for understanding the basis of the mosquito’s host attraction and host preference but also because it identifies this dual receptor of CO2 and skin-odorants as a key target that could be useful to disrupt host-seeking behavior and thus aid in the control of disease transmission.

To test whether cpA activation by human odor is important for attraction, the researchers devised a novel chemical-based strategy to shut down the activity of cpA in Aedes aegypti, the dengue-spreading mosquito.  They then tested the mosquito’s behavior on human foot odor — specifically, on a dish of foot odor-laden beads placed in an experimental wind tunnel — and found the mosquito’s attraction to the odor was greatly reduced.

Next, using a chemical computational method they developed, the researchers screened nearly half a million compounds. They then short-listed 138 compounds based on desirable characteristics such as smell, safety, cost and whether these occurred naturally. Several compounds either inhibited or activated cpA neurons of which nearly 85 percent were already approved for use as flavor, fragrance or cosmetic agents. Better still, several were pleasant-smelling, such as minty, raspberry, chocolate, etc., increasing their value for practical use in mosquito control.

Confident that they were on the right track, the researchers then zeroed in on two compounds: ethyl pyruvate, a fruity-scented cpA inhibitor, approved as a flavor agent in food, and cyclopentanone, a minty-smelling cpA activator approved as a flavor and fragrance agent.  By inhibiting the cpA neuron, ethyl pyruvate was found in their experiments to substantially reduce the mosquito’s attraction towards a human arm. By activating the cpA neuron, cyclopentanone served as a powerful lure, like CO2, attracting mosquitoes to a trap.

“Such compounds can play a significant role in the control of mosquito-borne diseases and open up very realistic possibilities of developing ways to use simple, natural, affordable and pleasant odors to prevent mosquitoes from finding humans,” Ray said.  “Odors that block this dual-receptor for CO2 and skin odor can be used as a way to mask us from mosquitoes.  On the other hand, odors that can act as attractants can be used to lure mosquitoes away from us into traps.  These potentially affordable mask and pull strategies could be used in a complementary manner, offering an ideal solution and much needed relief to people in Africa, Asia and South America — indeed wherever mosquito-borne diseases are endemic.  Further, these compounds could be developed into products that protect not just one individual at a time but larger areas, and need not have to be directly applied on the skin.”

Currently, CO2 is the primary lure in mosquito traps. Generating CO2 requires burning fuel, evaporating dry ice, releasing compressed gas or fermentation of sugar — all of which is expensive, cumbersome, and impractical for use in developing countries.  Compounds identified in this study, like cyclopentanone, offer a safe, affordable and convenient alternative that can finally work with surveillance and control traps.

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Prospects of a Villalta presidency terrify expat business leaders
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The curse of the front runner can be contagious.

For several months Johnny Araya Monge of Partido Liberación Nacional has been enjoying front runner status in the race for president of the country.

So naturally he was in the sights of his opponents

When a recent poll showed that the candidate of Frente Amplio, José María Villalta, might be giving Araya  competition, the tone of the campaign changed. He may not have been the actual front runner, but he was close enough to draw fire.

Villalta, of course, is not just another candidate. He is the modern incarnation of the old Costa Rican Communist party. He also is a highly capable speaker and a serious campaigner. Villalta also represents the ideals shared by many Costa Ricans: The United States is a bully. The rich have too much money and state ownership and control is a good thing.

His views resonate with many Costa Ricans as they struggle with rising prices, small salary increases and concern that their standard of living is eroding.

Villalta, who is his party's only representative in the Asamblea Legislativa, has an answer for all these concerns.

He scares expat business operators who think that his election will doom the tourism industry as well as any chance of making a profit in Costa Rica' challenging economy. They also fear the results of Frente Amplio getting 10 percent of the legislative seats based on Villalta's popularity.

Villalta has said he would like to see the free trade treaty with the United States renegotiated. He is not alone in that belief.

There also is a percentage of Costa Ricans who will not vote for Araya even if he were the only candidate. Polls put this figure in the low 30s, although getting a good read on the electorate is pretty hard this far from the February elections.

The latest blast at Villalta is an email campaign displaying a letter that his political party issued on the death of
villalta
Via YouTube
José María Villalta

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. It is not unusual for political figures to issue a statement on the death of a national leader elsewhere.  Casa Presidencial did so Thursday on the death of Nelson Mandela.

But Frente Amplio went a step further and said that "in these difficult moments we reaffirm our Latin American principles, our commitment to the fight for liberation, progress and social justice for our America."

"We are always in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolutionary process and with a guaranteed continuity for our brothers and our sisters of the Partido Socialista Unido de Venzuela."

"Comandante Presidente Chávez, your exemplary life and sacrifice illuminates our fight for socialism in the 21st century."

Although there is no proof that Villalta had any role in writing the missive, the document is being help up as proof that he is a Bolivarian extremist.


Have-nots must conquer fear, and haves must conquer greed
Back in the 1950s I was living in Los Angeles with a roommate, Sally, who was confined to a wheelchair.  Among our mutual friends was a youngish doctor.  I can’t remember what his specialty was, but he was very concerned about Sally and convinced that with his help, she could walk.  He had helped others gratis, and one day when I commented on his generosity, he told me a story about himself.

During World War II he lived in Berlin with his family.  He was 18 and his family was Jewish, so they were in hiding, hungry most of the time and always fearful of being discovered by the Nazis.  One day word was whispered that there was bread being sold at a bakery not terribly far away.  It was dangerous to leave their apartment, but he volunteered to try.

Walking blocks and then waiting in line for hours, he managed to get a loaf of bread.  As I started to say something soothing and complimentary to him for risking his life for bread for his family he put his hand on my arm to silence me, shaking his head, “I ate the whole loaf of bread by myself on the way home,” he said.

Since then, he has spent his life trying to atone for this act, even though it was not his fault that his family was starving and deprived of their livelihood. They were just the outcastes. Even the rank and file of the time were suffering from scarcity, but those in power had the force, the money and successful propaganda to convince them that they were loved and looked after by the leader and that soon prosperity would return and they would get their share.  It didn’t happen under that regime.

Recently I came across the name Foster Gamble, a member of the family connected with the worldwide Proctor & Gamble Co.  Instead of following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Foster began asking the question, “What could account for the staggering agony and deprivation on the planet today?”

His conclusion from his research, now made into a film, is that those who control the energy (energy meaning both the kind that makes our machines go, and food, which makes us go), can control the world.  And if they do not share this ownership in a fair way but get greedy for more control, there is bound to be suffering.

As I watched the film, I recalled the doctor so long ago in Los Angeles, and the plight of his family living in Nazi Germany.

It is almost impossible to share a loaf of bread or do unto 
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart


others when your own life is so desperate.  And it all boils 
down to energy: Who has it, who controls it and who controls the source.

It is ironic to think that once energy, both kinds, were free and available to everyone, but that was when there were fewer
people on earth. Food was obtained from the earth and from other creatures.  Fire was probably the first source of energy to be controlled, but generally, humans lived according to the circle of the day and of the year, with little desire or need to travel great distances. Ownership was limited to what you had on you or what you could carry.

Times have certainly changed.  The world became so complicated and populated that it was necessary to organize it.  That was also when ownership became an important aspect of life.  And that is when there appeared the haves and have-nots. The have-nots must learn to conquer fear and the haves must learn to conquer greed.

There are those who will argue that there is plenty of cheap energy available.  Maybe, but one of CNN’s heroes this week was a woman who brought the energy to make light in hospitals in small villages in Africa so that doctors could see what they were doing when they helped deliver babies.  And there is always a hero who is feeding the hungry and often homeless.

Ironically, but with justification, the winning hero of 2013 was a young man who when he was struggling to make a living on his boat saw the incredible piles of garbage on his river. Singlehandedly he began cleaning the Mississippi of the trash associated with both kinds of energy, that people had dumped into the river.  Now there are thousands who are helping him.

There is something wrong with the entirety of this picture.

This column is dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela.

Do yo Believe?

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Another trio of drug smuggling suspects brought in by U.S. Navy ship
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The "USS Rentz" brought three Costa Ricans to Caldera Thursday, underlining the security ministry's desire to have the legislature approve such arrivals after Dec. 31.

The three Costa Ricans were picked up in waters off Panamá with some 460 kilos of cocaine on board.

The U.S. Navy guided missile frigate has been a workhorse in drug patrols. U.S. crew members will keep most of the drugs probably for unloading at the ship's home port of San Diego, California. Samples will be left as evidence against the three fishermen.

Under terms of an agreement between this country and the United States, Costa Ricans caught on drug boats are delivered to officials here for trial.

The director of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas, Martín Arias, said that coordination between the two countries generated valuable information leading to the capture.

The security ministry said that a U.S. Coast Guard crew boarded the fishing boat, the "Papatec" 81 miles south ofPunta Burica.

The agreement whereby U.S. warships can enter Costa Rican ports expires Dec. 31. The legislature goes on vacation Dec. 23 and will be gone until Feb. 4.  Legislative approval is needed to allow U.S. ships to dock for prisoner exchange and for shore leave because that is a constitutional requirement.
drugs
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Anti-drug agent surveys confiscated cocaine.

 
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Cafetales



Russian diplomats charged
in Medicaid fraud scheme


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. prosecutors are charging 49 current and former Russian diplomats and family members with fraud in an illegal scheme to get health benefits intended for the poor.
 
Investigators say the diplomats from Russia's U.N. mission lied about their incomes to get $1.5 million in benefits from the U.S. Medicaid program. The benefits covered costs related to pregnancies, births and infant care.
 
They each were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to steal government funds.
 
Only a small number of those charged still live in the United States, and all had diplomatic immunity that Russia would have to waive for any arrests to be made.
 
FBI spokesman Peter Donald said no one has been arrested.
 
The Russian mission to the United Nations did not immediately comment on the charges.
 
Charging papers say the defendants obtained letters stating their false incomes from officials at the Russian U.N. mission, as well as from former top officials at the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in New York and the Trade Representative of the Russian Federation.
 
According to the charges, the family members spent "tens of thousands of dollars" on vacations, jewelry and luxury goods from stores like Swarovski and Jimmy Choo.
 
Hundreds of Russian diplomats and their families live in a compound in the Riverdale neighborhood in the Bronx.


U.S chemistry teacher killed
in Benghazi drive-by shooting


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Medical and security sources in the Libyan city of Benghazi say unidentified gunmen shot dead an American teacher working at an international school as he was jogging Thursday.

Ronnie Smith, a 33-year-old U.S. citizen from Texas, had been teaching chemistry for about 18 months at the International School Benghazi, a Libyan-owned institute that follows an American curriculum, a school official told local media.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the killing, but suspicion is likely to fall on Islamist militants active in the city.

The U.S. State Department confirmed Smith's death and said it is in contact with his family.

Smith's killing triggered an outpouring of emotion on social media networks.

The Libyan Youth Movement tweeted, "It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the death of Ronnie Smith... shot & killed in #Benghazi."

International School Benghazi is one of the few foreign schools still operating in Libya, with most of them having shut down in the last year because of the growing insecurity.

Libya's heavily armed militias, with roots in the 2011 war against dictator Moammar Gadhafi, have proliferated since his overthrow and have worked against successive transitional governments and parliament.

In late 2012, Islamist militants assaulted the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya.


Vatican reported planning panel
to protect kids from priests


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Vatican is to set up a special committee to improve measures to protect children against sexual abuse within the church, the archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, said Thursday.
 
“Up until now there has been so much focus on the judicial parts of this but the pastoral part is very, very important. The Holy Father is concerned about that,” O'Malley told reporters, referring to Pope Francis.
 
The commission of experts would study these issues and bring concrete recommendations for the pope and the Vatican, he said.
 
O'Malley was speaking on the third and final day of a series of closed-door meetings between Pope Francis and a special commission of eight cardinals who are discussing the Vatican's troubled administration.
 
The commission, named a month after the pope's election, underlined his determination to push through reforms of the Vatican's top-heavy administration and tackle festering scandals like the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests.


French bank issues a warning
on volatility of bitcoin currency

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Bank of France warned Thursday about risks related to the digital currency bitcoin, adding its voice to growing concerns about the unregulated, online money.
 
Bitcoin is not backed by any central bank or government or by physical assets. Their value depends on people's confidence in the currency.
 
It has been gaining acceptance by the general public and investment community but has yet to become an accepted form of payment on Web sites of major retailers such as Amazon.com.
 
The Bank of France said the price of bitcoin in legal currencies was inherently volatile and users may find it difficult to convert to real money.
 
The anonymity that bitcoin offer users also raises the risk that they could also be used for money-laundering and financing of terrorism, the central bank said in a publication.
 
“Even if bitcoin is not currently a credible investment vehicle and therefore do not pose a significant risk to financial stability, they represent a financial risk for those who hold them,” the Bank of France said.
 
Though the central bank saw no threat to its monopoly on the issuance of legal tender, bitcoin's growing popularity has increasingly attracted the attention of authorities in several countries, including China and the United States.
 
The Chinese central bank warned financial institutions Thursday against trading bitcoin, which has proven particularly popular in China.
 
The price of the digital currency rose over $1,000 last month for the first time, extending a 400 percent surge in less than a month and fueling concerns of a bubble in the making.
 
The Bank of France warned that speculating on the price of bitcoin could become costly if other users became unwilling to convert gains into legal tender, potentially putting the whole system at risk of collapse if bitcoin demand evaporated.
 
Noting a growing number of retailers and service providers who accept bitcoin for payment in France, the central bank warned they benefited from no guarantee that the bitcoin could be cashed for real money.


Another report says that NSA
tracks millions of cell phones


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A major U.S. newspaper is reporting that the clandestine National Security Agency is tracking the location of cellphones around the world in a vast effort to follow known intelligence targets and the people with whom they are connecting.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the spy agency is gathering nearly five billion records a day with the surveillance and then analyzing the movements of the cellphone users and possible terrorism threats they pose to the U.S. and other countries.

The newspaper said the revelation of the surveillance comes from the massive cache of documents disclosed earlier this year by former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden. He is now living in asylum in Russia even as the U.S. seeks his extradition to stand trial on espionage charges.

The Post said an anonymous NSA official, speaking with the agency's permission, told it that the government is getting vast volumes of location data from the spying by tapping into cables that connect the world's mobile networks. The agency said it is not targeting the location of Americans on purpose, but that the surveillance incidentally picks up the location of tens of millions of Americans who annually travel overseas.

Cellphones broadcast their locations continually, even when no one is making a call or sending a text message.

Snowden's disclosure of the documents to Britain's Guardian newspaper and the Post has alarmed U.S. national security officials, who say the surveillance has thwarted potential terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its allies in Europe. Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers have voiced concern about the scope of the spying and are considering new restraints on the surveillance, but none has been enacted as yet.


Global AIDS fund receives
$12 billion in new pledges

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Donors showed strong support this week for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. They pledged $12 billion at the fund’s replenishment meeting in Washington.

The 4th Replenishment Meeting raised funds to pay for Global Fund programs in the coming years. Contributions came from 25 countries, the European Commission, the private sector and faith-based groups. The $12 billion figure is about $3 billion more than collected at the last replenishment meeting in 2010.

UNAIDS, The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, calls the pledges a demonstration of global solidarity and trust.

Tim Martineau, director of the executive office at UNAIDS, said, “We just thought it was terrific news for global health and for the AIDS response and for TB and malaria. We saw it as a really strong signal of ongoing political commitment and a demonstration of the results that have been achieved to date. So, we were absolutely delightedly obviously by the outcome.”

The fund now has 80 percent of its replenishment goal of $15 billion.

“Were we surprised? Yes, very much so. We were hopeful that this might be the outcome, but obviously we’re very pleased to see it. It’s a difficult economic environment globally and the response that we have seen from, if I can call it traditional donors, has been fantastic,” he said.

Those traditional donors were joined this year by new donor nations making first-time pledges.

Martineau said the high-level of pledges in Washington is due to several factors, including traditional bi-partisan support for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

He said, “It’s not something that starts to sort of become a political issue. It is very clearly a humanitarian issue that everybody can unite and support,”

The Global Fund’s success, he said, encourages long-time donors to give more, but attracts new donors, as well. The fund is a major tool in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. One of the goals is stopping the spread of HIV.

The fund raising will continue. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation says it will lobby upper middle-income countries to make pledges. These include Russia, China and South Korea. The foundation provides medical care to 250,000 people in 32 countries.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established in 2002. At the time, the three diseases accounted for six million deaths a year.


DNA for ancient skeleton
suggests new hominid species


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Man’s evolutionary timeline just a lot more complicated.

The oldest known human DNA found yet shows there may have been another, formerly unknown, human species.

Scientists found the 400,000-year-old DNA in the fossilized thighbone of an early hominid at Sima de los Huesos, a unique cave site in northern Spain. The DNA is four times older than previously discovered samples.

This particular sample’s DNA, mitochondria or mtDNA, a small part of the genome that is passed down along the maternal line, was extracted by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

What they found is that the DNA is related to the mitochondrial genome of Denisovans, extinct relatives of Neanderthals who lived primarily in Asia, not Europe. The two hominins are believed to have split about 700,000 years ago.

Denisovan remains are extremely rare with the only known fossils being a finger bone and a tooth found in Siberia.

“The fact that the mtDNA of the Sima de los Huesos hominin shares a common ancestor with Denisovan rather than Neanderthal mtDNAs is unexpected since its skeletal remains carry Neanderthal-derived features," says Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Considering their age and Neanderthal-like features, the Sima hominins were likely related to the population ancestral to both Neanderthals and Denisovans. This could mean another group of hominins brought the Denisova-like mtDNA into the Sima hominins or their ancestors.

The Sima site has yielded the world’s largest assembly of Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils. To date, at least 28 skeletons, have been excavated and pieced together over the course of more than two decades by a Spanish team of paleontologists.

The scientists detailed their findings in the Dec. 5 issue of the journal Nature.


U.N.'s Latin commission sees
slower reduction in poverty


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Nations says a weaker economic performance and rising food costs are slowing poverty reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The annual report from the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean says 164 million people, or 28 percent of the region's population, are still considered poor, with 68 million living in extreme poverty. That is nearly unchanged from last year.

The panel's last annual report said growing job income and economic growth helped lift a million people out of poverty to the lowest rate in more than three decades.

Now, it is calling for governments to enact policies to encourage growth while reducing the huge gap between rich and poor.

The commission says on average, 20 percent of the households with the lowest incomes in the region get just 5 percent of a country's total income, while the wealthiest 20 percent of households get 47 percent of the total income.

Latin American countries with the biggest reductions in poverty levels since 2011 were led by Venezuela with the rate dropping by 5.6 percentage points to 23.9 percent. Others included Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Levels remained unchanged in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Uruguay, while poverty rose slightly in Mexico to 37 percent from 36 percent a year earlier.

The Chile-based U.N. agency says a significant number of people are still affected by issues such as lack of access to drinking water or appropriate sanitation.


Local elections in Venezuela
will test government strength


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nationwide local polls this weekend are President Nicolas Maduro's first electoral test since taking power and will show what Venezuelans think of his socialist government's radical response to deepening economic problems.

Sunday's vote for 337 mayors' and 2,523 council posts is theoretically a local affair, with humdrum issues such as potholes and street lights sure to influence voters.

Yet both sides in the polarized South American country also view their candidates' fortunes as a snapshot of national mood and measure of their relative strength for future battles.

In a close-fought April presidential vote that showed Venezuela split nearly down the middle, Maduro replaced Hugo Chávez after cancer cut short his 14-year rule.

The 51-year-old former bus driver has displayed plenty of his late mentor's fiery anti-capitalist rhetoric and kept firm state controls on the economy, even launching his own policy of aggressive inspections of businesses to force prices down.

Yet Maduro has little of Chavez's personal charisma, rapport with the working-classes, personalized control of the ruling Socialist Party's various factions, or international presence.

And he has seen Venezuela's economic problems worsen.

Decades-old inflation has hit an annual 54 percent, shortages of basics from milk to toilet paper have spawned queues round the country, economic growth has slowed, blackouts are frequent, and the bolivar has tanked on the black market.

“After the 8th of December, with the constitution in our hands, we're coming for you and your failed, corrupt government,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles, 41, vowed as he crisscrossed the nation in the run-up to Sunday's ballot.

Despite such fighting talk, it is not clear exactly how the opposition would seek to undermine Maduro, even with a strong showing at the vote. Activists are divided over how aggressively to confront the government, with street protests and a petition drive for a recall referendum in 2016 half-way through the presidential term among possible tactics.

Maduro has decreed Sunday an official day of loyalty and love for Chávez, who is still revered by many Venezuelans especially among the poor, and he has repeatedly accused opponents of planning violence around the ballot.

His continuation of generous, oil-financed welfare programs from the Chávez era, and the former president's dying exhortation to support him, have helped Maduro keep support of  Chavistas.

“Get ready for Sunday's results, the victory of the fatherland is a fait accompli,” he told supporters.

Investors are eying the vote for signs Maduro will have the strength to carry out unpopular economic measures such as a currency devaluation to help ease the embarrassing shortages.

Pollsters have been unusually secretive with their numbers, but say the country remains about evenly split, as in April when Maduro beat Capriles by just 1.5 percentage points.

Both men's approval ratings have dropped since that vote.

Economic problems and perceptions of weakness have weighed on Maduro. On the other side, Capriles' challenge to the April vote on fraud allegations petered out, while his media profile has subsided dramatically.

One local pollster, Luis Vicente Leon, said Maduro's ratings declined to 41 percent in his latest survey but had probably been offset by the recent populist campaign that helped consumers buy cut-rate TVs, car parts and home appliances through aggressive inspections that forced merchants to slash prices.

“The opposition did have a golden opportunity to win by a moderate margin, due to President Maduro's fall in popularity,” Leon said in a pre-election analysis. “However, recent events ... could play in his favor.”

Given its strength in rural areas, where there are more mayorships up for grabs, the government appears likely to win an overall majority of municipalities while the opposition hopes to retain control of major cities like Caracas and Maracaibo.

Both sides will hope to win the total popular vote, though tallying that may take a few days.







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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


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Gulf road

Beachfront pristine five-hectare (13-acre) property

includes a common open air lodge with kitchen, three cabins, a caretaker's house, a garage and a secure storeroom. The property is maritime and has a current and valid maritime user's permit, all up to date and clear. In addition to the immaculately landscaped portion of the property that is already developed with bungalows, there are an additional three hectares that are ready for expansion and are cleared and planted in grass. The sales offer includes furnishings, appliances, catamaran, kayaks, and a whole series of extras. This property has about 300 meters of beach front in a docile portion of the gulf about 15 minutes north of Puerto Jimeenez, ideal for mooring boats just off the property shoreline. Has municipal water and power. Offered at $970,000. All reasonable offers will be considered. See photos and maps and more at www.suenos.org. Contact us at: osaproperty@gmail.com or +1-866-514-7435.
8172-1/6/13

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary. jungalow@gmail.com.
8166-5/29/13

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   axelspecial@gmail.com
8164-12/28/13

NOW REDUCED TO $680,000
ALAJUELA – PRIVATE COMPOUND OF 4 HOMES - $850,000 TURNKEY
Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:
8162-1/11/14

Five bedroom home
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Price reduced $100,000 for quick sale. Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach. The home is completely furnished with U.S. products. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances.  To see more, go to YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/user/CasaDelSolCostaRica
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email combrokers@aol.com
8157-2/22/13

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: http://www.rebecker.com/journal102006a.htm.  Contact information: ginbecker@gmail.com,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.

condors

HIGH SECURITY Condo
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: sjogringo@yahoo.com
6141-2/11/14

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  www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24055899   
For more information contact:  deeday214@gmail.com
8135-2/5/14

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, maryandjerre@aol.com, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603
8123-4/22/2104

montage
For sale is a beautiful 50-acre property located in Los Alpes, just 15 minutes outside of San Ramon. At about 4,000 feet above sea level, this finca provides gorgeous views of the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Ocean in the distance while also offering a wonderful climate year around. The main house is two stories with three bedrooms and two full baths. High quality construction using exotic hardwoods such as almond, which covers the ceilings throughout the entire house. There are also two corrals and a small casita on the property. This location is perfect for a farm-style home or for beginning an agricultural business. This truly is a rare piece of property and is available for $399,999. Price is somewhat negotiable and we will be happy to work with the buyer to make it work! Please call 8816-2478 or e-mail bmcart3@gmail.com for more information ¡y se habla español!
8097-xxx

Samara church and lot
Commercial lot with great visibility in heart of Playa Sámara commercial district. Located alongside town's largest church, bank, hardware store/lumber yard, mini shopping plaza, and Pali (Sámara's largest supermarket). This lot has a large elevated building platform shaded with mature treees. All this makes for many commercial options.  One block from stunning "blue flag" beach. This is a perfect location for a eco/boutique hotel, restaurant/catering, apartments, or condominium. All utilities to this property. Lot size 1,414m2. Price 325K. Email: mwk350@yahoo.com
8082-10/9/13

humming bird nest

Bed & Breakfast for sale and personal home with 2 houses on property of 3/4 acre (3,030 m2) and buildings w/verandas & carport approximately 350 m2. One house at entrance is central to village w/gated parking lot and a 3-bedroom house for rental or employees/family w/carport/yard/gardens. A 50-meter sendero winds to the top among lush gardens where the main house is situated w/2 buildings attached by verandas & stairway to second floor.  There are 2 bedrooms, sala, 4 baths, large kitchen, laundry rooms, work bodega, storage bodega and hot tub on veranda w/tiled shower room.  Home is surrounded by tropical gardens, views of Arenal Volcano, panoramic views of Lake Arenal, private w/school owned property on one side, pasture land on back side and connecting entry gate on other side to Cabinas El Castillo & Fusion Restaurant.  A bird watcher's paradise w/hummingbirds, Montezuma, toucans, butterflies and visits from howler monkeys.  The B&B is listed four consecutive editions of Lonely Planet and the first established B&B in this area.  Photos can be viewed on the Web site: www.hummingbirdnestbb.com.  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email: nidocolibri@hotmail.com
8058-11/15/13

Guiones retreat
SURFERS PARADISE on PLAYA GUIONES, NOSARA
Approximately half acre on the beach with private path to the surf. Very private three-home complex with pool, spacious patios with two wet bars, barbeque and yoga area. Featuring a three-bedroom ranch style home plus a two story Mexican villa style home with two master suites, large kitchen and living area with ocean views and breezes upstairs and a garden apartment downstairs with separate entrance. A caretaker's or teenager's cottage and lots of space for expansion. PRICED FOR QUICK SALE: $899,000.  Call 506 8867-8883 or heidebob2@gmail.com
8027-1/12/14

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

Business for sale or lease (paid category)
71
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:  http://youtu.be/iDXurhJ4fCk Asking price  $4.5 million. Email costaricapropertysales@gmail.com or call: 8899-9870.
8153-112/22/13

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, maryandjerre@aol.com, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603
8123-4/22/2
11

DIGITS RESOURCE GUIDE is for sale!
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 www.everydigit.com, 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.
8115-11/18/13

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday,  Dec. 6, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 242
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Key grape extract substance
synthesized in cancer lab


By the University of Colorado Cancer Center news staff

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published online in the journal Nutrition and Cancer describes the laboratory synthesis of the most active component of grape seed extract, B2G2, and shows this synthesized compound induces the cell death known as apoptosis in prostate cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

“We’ve shown similar anti-cancer activity in the past with grape seed extract, but now we know B2G2 is its most biologically active ingredient which can be synthesized in quantities that will allow us to study the detailed death mechanism in cancer cells,” says Alpna Tyagi of the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Tyagi works in the lab of Cancer Center investigator Chapla Agarwal.

The group has spent more than a decade demonstrating the anti-cancer activity of grape seed extract in controlled, laboratory conditions. For example, previous studies have shown the grape seed extract effectiveness against cancer cells and have also shown its mechanism of action. “But until recently, we didn’t know which constituent of GSE created this effect. This naturally occurring compound, GSE, is a complex mixture of polyphenols and also so far it has been unclear about the biologically active constituents of GSE against cancer cells,” Tyagi says.

Eventually the group pinpointed B2G2 as the most active compound, but, “it’s expensive and it takes a long time to isolate B2G2 from grape seed extract,” Tyagi says.

This expense related to the isolation of B2G2 has limited the group’s further exploration. So instead of purifying B2G2 from grape seed extract, the group decided to synthesize it in the lab. The current study reports the success of this effort, including the ability to synthesize gram-quantity of B2G2 reasonably quickly and inexpensively.

In the paper’s second half, the group shows anti-cancer activity of synthesized B2G2 similar in mechanism and degree to overall grape seed extract effectiveness.

“Our goal all along has been a clinical trial of the biologically active compounds from GSE against human cancer. But it’s difficult to earn FDA approval for a trial in which we don’t know the mechanisms and possible effects of all active components. Therefore, isolating and synthesizing B2G2 is an important step because now we have the ability to conduct more experiments with the pure compound. Ongoing work in the lab further increases our understanding of B2G2′s mechanism of action that will help for the preclinical and clinical studies in the future,” Tyagi says.


Academy to feature combat

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Hanuman Academy in Moravia is featuring combat in the style of Hanuman Muay Thai that combines elbows, punches, kicks, knees Saturday at 6 p.m.
 
The academy is next to the Centro Comercial Plaza Los Colegios, Moravia. Admission is 4,000 colons or about $8. There also is VIP admission for 7,000 colons, the academy said.

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Published on Page 7:

State telecom giant acquires cable TV firm
 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The state power and telecom company said Thursday that it had completed the acquisition of 100 percent of the stock of Cable vision de Costa Rica CVCR S.A.

The deal had been in the works since March 2011 and required approval from the Comisión para Promover la Competencia, which eventually issued a 17-page favorable report.

The commission is within the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio.

Authorization also had to be obtained from the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones. Both agencies were worried about the concentration of the cable television and Internet marketplace. However, the commission noted that Cable Vision operates in a limited section of the Central Valley and only has about 15 percent of the country's cable subscribers.

Cable vision offers Internet service in conjunction with Radiográfica Costarricense, S.A., a subsidiary of the telecom giant and the new owner, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

The company known as ICE said the cable firm would operate as a subsidiary. It also noted in its filing that it did not offer cable television services, just Internet, and it has the infrastructure to do so.

ICE said taking over the firm was part of its marketing strategy in the face of the entry of private operators into the telecom market.