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(506) 2223-1327                               Puoblished Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Vol. 16, No. 244                                Email us
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Breakthrough seems to prevent incurable virus
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. university says it has developed a strain of pigs that resist an incurable virus disease.

The disease is porcine reproductive and respiratory virus, which is known as síndrome disgenésico y respiratorio porcino in Costa Rica.

Scientists at the University of Missouri were able to modify the genetic structure of pigs so that the animals do not produce a protein that is vital for the spread of the virus.

Pig production is a major agricultural industry in Costa Rica, and both the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal acknowledged that the disease is present here.

A 2008 decree requires farmers and veterinarians to report cases of the disease when they find it.

Animals that are affected do not gain weight rapidly and have a high mortality, said the university. To date, no vaccine has been effective, and the disease costs North American farmers more than $660 million annually, it added.

In addition to Missouri, researchers involved were from Kansas State University, and Genus plc.

The University of Missouri said that it had signed an exclusive global licensing deal for potential future commercialization of virus resistant pigs with the Genus.

Randall Prather, an animal science professor, said that the virus needs help from a protein to spread inside pigs. The protein is called CD163.

Little pig
University of Missouri/Nic Benner
Little pig is a victim of the virus

“We were able to breed a litter of pigs that do not produce this protein, and as a result, the virus doesn’t spread," he said. "When we exposed the pigs to PRRS, they did not get sick and continued to gain weight normally.”

The process was genetic modification but instead of adding a foreign gene to the pig DNA, the scientists edited out the gene that produces the protein.

While the pigs that didn’t produce CD163 didn’t get sick, scientists also observed no other changes in their development compared to pigs that produce the protein, said the university.

“At the end of our study, we had been able to make pigs that are resistant to an incurable, untreatable disease,” said Kevin Wells, co-author of the study and an assistant professor at Missouri. “This discovery could save the swine industry hundreds of millions of dollars every year. It also could have an impact on how we address other substantial diseases in other species.”

Despite conviction, Milanes case is far from over
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 3:30 p.m.

Savings Unlimited investors have won what one called a  Pyrrhic victory  with the conviction of Luis Milanes.

"A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat," the investor added in an email, quoting a Web site definition.

 He was referring to the drawn out fraud case that began in November 2002 when Milanes closed his high-interest operation and fled the country.

In the decision Thursday a San José criminal court panel gave Milanes a bit more than 15 years in prison and sentenced Michael González, the office manager, to six years. José Milanes, the brother of Luis, was not convicted.

Investors and some court officials consider Milanes a flight risk, and the judicial panel ordered that he be held in preventative detention until a  written sentence is issued in January.

Most investors are aware that the case is not over. An appeal is certain, and the chances that the ailing Milanes spends Christmas in prison are slim.

Lawyers are likely to cite his health and the holidays in a bid to have him freed.

Milanes seems to have divested himself of his assets over the  last few years. That includes property the he posted as compensation for some of his investors in a conciliation deal.

At one time he owned a string of casinos and other ventures.

Milanes was missing after he closed his borrowing operation until he returned in June 2009. The criminal case has been going on since.

José Pablo Fernández of Global Trust Firm, S.A. quickly sent out an email to those in the conciliation deal noted that the agreement was not part of the criminal case. He said that a sale might come soon of the Hotel Europa downtown. That is part of the property that Milanes signed over as part of the agreement. The trustee firm has been trying to sell the hotel property for years, but there have been many complications.

The investors who are involved in the agreement are expected to receive money from the hotel sale, although there are substantial maintenance and legal costs that continue.

There is some question if investors will receive any money as a result of the Milanes conviction. He says that the bulk of the funds from Savings Unlimited were taken by an associate who absconded to Europe.

In addition, the court is considering money laundering allegations that may show up in the final verdict. Such a conviction, if upheld, would channel any money to the government.

González would probably serve less than three years if the conviction is upheld. Plus he gets a substantial discount for the time he served in preventative detention several years ago and the time he serves now in house arrest.

Savings Unlimited was one of those high-interest operations that flourished here at the turn of the century. Depositors received up to 3 percent a month return on their investments. Milanes claimed the money was being invested in casinos

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 244
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Legal services

Valdivieco header
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Hauling hay
Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias
Ranchers have been forced to haul fodder for cattle.

Unified drought strategy proposed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A drought driven by El Niño has been ravaging Guanacaste for more than a year. But now officials say they have developed a unified strategy.

El Niño conditions are expected to become worse before there is an improvement later next year, according to various meteorological sources.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias has been conducting meetings with individuals and representatives of organizations in the area for months.

As a result of one Friday, the commission suggested:

• the production of smaller animals instead of cattle. It suggested goats and sheep, which are more efficient in using the available pasture.

• There also is a plan to extend some irrigation canals and to apply electricity produced by sugar processing plants for agricultural use and for the various water district pumps.

• There also is the need to capture more rainfall, although this generates a possible danger increasing places where the dengue- and  chikungunya-carrying  mosquitoes can breed.

water tanker
Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias
Water trucks have become all too common in Guanacaste

Insurance products are proliferating

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite a sluggish economy, insurance sales increased 5 percent during 2015, said the Superintendencia de Seguros.

Now there are 13 firms authorized to sell insurance in Costa Rica, and they brought in $749 million this year, the supervisory agency said

The insurance market has been open to private firms for seven years. Prior to that, transactions were restricted to the state-owned Instituto Nacional de Seguros. Consumers face a bewildering assortment of  628 insurance products, the Superintendencia said in an annual report.

Contractors invited to bid meeting

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes plans a general meeting Dec. 15 for those firms that might be interested in doing work on the proposed office tower.

This is the same project that has been steeped in controversy after the ministry's own auditors found out that plans for the $7.5 million building had been submitted 10 months before bids were received.

Auditors also noted that there had been several meetings between the ministry staffers and the firms that submitted the plans.

That is why the Contraloría General de la República canceled the contract.

Now the ministry is opening participation to more companies.

The cast concrete construction appears to be of a type that only several companies can complete.

The proposed site is Plaza Viques adjacent to the current sprawling offices. The ministry has to leave the current offices because they belong to the
   Liceo de Costa Rica.

The section of south San José is congested throughout the day because it also is on a major route to Desamparados and the Circunvalación.

Solís trip said to stress commerce

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Presidencial is stressing that the president's Cuba trip this weekend is not a junket. Instead it is an effort to develop commercial ties, according to information put out by the Presidencia Wednesday.

Costa Rica exported $38 million to Cuba in 2014, according to Promotora del Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica.

President Luis Guillermo Solís was criticized Tuesday as engaging in political tourism.  The agenda released Wednesday shows a number of commerce-related meetings.

News for the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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Third News Page

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 244
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State radio and TV system outlines why it is deeply in debt
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The state television and radio system is in financial trouble and is urging the legislature to bail it out.

This is the Sistema Nacional de Radio y Televisión, which issued an unusually candid appeal Wednesday.

German Vargas, the executive president, said that the system has to move its transmitter from the peak of Volcán Irazú because of landslides at the active crater.

In addition, the system does not have the funds to pay salaries or the mandatory Christmas bonus.

Vargas said the financial problem was long-standing and that the system owes 12.5 billion colons, about $23.8 million. Each year the system gets about 1.07 billion colons, about $2.03 million from the national budget and raises the balance of its needs, about 70 percent, by selling advertising. Most state agencies are obligated to invest 10 percent of their advertising budget in the system, a statement said.

Because the central government has restricted state advertising, the radio and television system is receiving less. The income from ads has been about a third less since 2009, it said.

If the station does not get the money to move the transmitter, both Canal 13 and Radio Nacional will be off the air for a year until there is a new budget, it warned.

The system is urging quick passage of what is known as the extraordinary budget, additional funding sought by Casa

Presidencial in addition to the main budget.

If the system does not get the funds to pay current expenses, the aguinaldo Christmas bonuses, salaries and the money due to the Caja Costarricense de Seguridad Social, it will have to take extreme measures, it added.

Moving the transmitter was recommended by the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias after an Irazú landslide a year ago. A number of other firms already have moved their transmitters, including Radio Partes S.A., Canal 23, Radio Rumbo, Sinfonola, Prisa Radio, Extra TV, Radio Columbia, Faro del Caribe and Canal 50, said the system.

Radio Nacional broadcast on 101.5 FM. The system Web site has just one advertisement now. It is from the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

The system's problems are similar to those of private enterprise. Companies struggle each year to pay the mandatory Christmas bonus while employees take at least a week's vacation and there is minimal income. Latin business leaders and those in Spain call this the cuesta de enero, the "January hill" they have to climb next month to restore solvency.

Customs agency announcement shows that evasion is widespread
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Evasion of import tax is big business and epidemic. The  Servicio Nacional de Aduanas of the Ministerio de Hacienda said it had recovered 109 million colons that two firms failed to pay.

The amount is $207,500.

These were not low-budget operations. The customs agency did not name them but said one was an importer of food products and the other was a wine and alcohol importer.

They join the ranks of appliance importers and others who have been nabbed for using false figures on their imports.

The announcement shows that import tax evasion ranges from some street vendor being caught with a car load of clothing

that he brought from Panamá to some of the country's largest enterprises.

The customs agency said that the contractor of the food importer misstated the contents of powered milk at least 14 times. The ministry analyzed the product to determine it was not as the contractor stated, it said. That cost the firm  56,146,000 colons.

The wine and alcohol importer paid 53 million colons for claims that involved 37,200 bottles of wine and tequila from México and Argentina, said the ministry. The ministry said that the importer understated the amount of alcohol in each bottle of tequila and claimed that the wine bottles were empty.

Benito Coghi, director general of the customs agency said that both cases have been referred to prosecutors due to the falsification of documents. Meanwhile the firms acknowledge the underpayment and made the payments the agency requested.

Nosara area rattled and shaken by multiple quakes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The western part of the Nicoya peninsula got multiple examples of a restless earth Wednesday night.

At 6:03 p.m. a 4.9-magnitude quake took place about four kilometers southwest of Nosara, according to the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica.

A minute later a 3-magnitude quake took place just two kilometers south of Nosara, said the Observatorio. Then at 6:21 p.m. a 3.3-magnitude quake took place in the same locations, said the Observatorio

The Red Sismológica Nacional reported an additional 3.2-magnitude quake at 8:02 p.m. 18 kilometers west of Nosara and a 3.4-magnitude quake at 8:41 p.m. 14 miles west of the community in the Pacific.

The Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica had slightly different estimates of magnitude. 

It said that the 6:03 p.m. quake was felt strongly in Nosara to the extent that there might be minor damage.

It also said the quake was felt strongly in Carmona, Nandayure, and less so at other points on the peninsula and as far away as Nuevo Arenal.

The Observatorio attributed the quake to subduction of the Coco tectonic plate under the lighter Caribbean and said the quake was felt in the Central Valley.

Later in the evening the Red Sismológica Nacional reported a 10:04 p.m. quake some 19 kilometers west of Sámara, which is south of Nicoya on the far Pacific coast. But that quake was just 2.3 magnitude, it said.

Hotel header

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2015 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 244
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garbage trucks
Municipalidad de Desamparados photo
These trucks will not be shiny and clean for long.
Desamparados adds $1 million worth of new garbage trucks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad de Desamparados said Wednesday it has purchased five new garbage trucks for 553 million colons. That is a bit more than $1 million.

That will give the municipality seven trucks to cover eight districts, it said.

Spending an average of $200,000 per truck may seem out of line, but a new Kenworth costs $126,900 in the United States, according to Web sites, and a Mack 40-cubic yard vehicle with a front end loader costs $259,000.

The municipality also said that it has started another campaign to encourage residents to recycle. Recycling generates jobs, it said.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

HIdden Garden 2016
Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

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

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

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


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Real estate rentals
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Real estate for rent
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Real estate rental services (paid category)

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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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
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Real estate for rent (paid category)
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Real Estate
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2015 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 244
Real Estate
About us

U.S. High Court is handed
affirmative action decision

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Supreme Court appeared divided Wednesday after oral arguments were presented in a case that could spell an end to affirmative action programs at schools and colleges nationwide.

The case was brought by a white applicant, Abigail Fisher, who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. She and her lawyers argue that the university admissions policy violates the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

Wednesday's 90-minute hearing was the second time the nation's highest court heard the challenge to the holistic admissions system used by the school for a portion of its applicants. In 2013, the court sent the case back to a federal appeals court, which ruled in favor of the university.

During the arguments Wednesday, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that African-American students, who along with other minorities benefit from affirmative action, might belong at less rigorous schools.

"I'm just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don't think it stands to reason that it's a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible," Scalia said.

Gregory Garre, who argued in support of the university, responded that minority applicants admitted through the holistic admission program fare better than other students over time.

About 80 percent of first-year students at the University of Texas-Austin are automatically admitted under a program that reserves places for the top 10 percent of Texas high school students regardless of race. The remaining 20 percent are selected through what the school calls a holistic review process that factors in test scores, extracurricular activities, accomplishments, work experience, socioeconomic status, community service, family responsibilities and race. 

University of Texas-Austin President Gregory Fenves said after the hearing that "diversity fosters an understanding of one another, of students, and a respect for their differences."

"Colleges and universities across the nation have long been addressing questions surrounding race and ethnicity," he said. "The heightened attention on these issues over the past few months highlights their ongoing importance."

Ms. Fisher, who has since graduated from Louisiana State University, said she was denied admission to the University of Texas-Austin in 2008 because she was white. The University of Texas said students admitted through the holistic review program at the time of her application had an academic index of 3.4, while Ms. Fisher's was just 3.1.

The school said the majority of those admissions were white, non-Hispanic students, but adds the operation of the holistic review program did increase the percentage of African Americans by 1 percent and that of Hispanic students by 2.5 percent.

"Race is an odious classification," said Ms. Fisher's lawyer, Bert Rein, who described the university's admission process as inappropriate. "And it really doesn't matter if your results are small, that sort of indicates that you didn't have to do it in the first place."

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that schools can consider an applicant's race as part of their admissions decision, saying they have a duty to provide a diverse student body.

The court's ruling on the Fisher case is expected in June 2016.

Colorado gunman confesses
to murders at court hearing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The gunman accused of killing three and wounding nine in a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic last month declared himself guilty in a courtroom outburst Wednesday, calling himself a warrior for babies.

Fifty-seven-year-old Robert Lewis Dear was formally charged with first-degree murder. His public defender Dan King, the same lawyer who defended Colorado movie theater killer James Holmes, told the judge it is obvious Dear is not mentally competent to stand trial.

Dear said his lawyer drugged Holmes and is trying to do the same thing to him.

Police have not publicly talked about Dear's motive, but reports say he muttered the phrase "no more baby parts" after his arrest.

Dear is accused of opening fire inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic that provides abortions. He killed three people, including a university police officer, and wounded nine.

Neighbors describe Dear as an unfriendly recluse who lived alone in a crumbling trailer that had no electricity or running water.

He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Trump crowd
Voice of America photo
Supporters listen to presidential candidate Donald Trump speak against the Iran nuclear deal at the U.S. Capital Sept. 9.

Security is main concern
of bulk of Trump supporters

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Supporters of leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are fearful for their safety, worried about the economy and generally fed-up with the way things are going in the U.S., according to political analysts.

Trump "taps into the feelings of people who are angered, frustrated, disillusioned about the direction of the country," Georgetown University political scientist Stephen Wayne said.

He said Trump supporters, often white men with lower incomes, are worried that they and their concerns have been eclipsed by rapid economic, social and political changes in the United States, where the population of racial minorities is growing and marriage of same-sex couples has been legalized.

"There is the rise in inequality" in the United States as well, Wayne noted, with corporate executives earning hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and "a lot of people just living paycheck to paycheck to get by."

YouGov market researchers and the Pew Research Center both say that Trump's supporters are less educated and earn less than many voters.

About a third earn less than $50,000 a year, according to YouGov, and just 11 percent make more than $100,000.

Trump supporters are not particularly ideological, say YouGov market researchers David Brady and Douglas Rivers. In recent YouGov polls, 65 percent of Trump's supporters said they were conservative while 20 percent identified themselves as liberal or moderate. Only 13 percent identified themselves as very conservative.

Perhaps this lack of cohesive belief is why they are responsive to Trump, the personality. The one-time reality television star has been "incredibly successful in directing media attention to himself as a person, rather than the other candidates and their credentials and skills," Wayne said. "So far, the campaign is all about Trump."

One survey of the presidential candidates' official Facebook pages even concluded that Trump supporters make more grammar mistakes when posting comments than those favoring other candidates.

YouGov found that half of Trump supporters have a high school education or less, compared with 19 percent who have a college or post-graduate degree, with Pew Research reporting similar results in its polling.

"Definitely not country club Republicans, but not terribly unusual either," YouGov researchers David Brady and Douglas Rivers concluded.

Some voters, especially Republicans, appear unnerved and fearful that the country is not safe from terrorist attacks, worries that Trump and other Republican candidates have made central to their campaigns.

Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the 322 million Americans, but some people worry that if more Muslims seek refuge in the U.S., they could pose a security risk or would bring unwanted change to the country.

Poll after poll in recent months has shown that Republicans, substantially more than Democrats and independents in the U.S., would not vote for a Muslim as president, believe that "the values of Islam are at odds with American values," think that Islam is "inherently violent," and say that the U.S. government should monitor Muslims as potential terrorists.

One survey a few months ago showed that 66 percent of Trump's supporters believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim, despite the American leader's public profession over the years of his Christian faith, and 61 percent said they believed Obama was born outside the U.S., which would have made him ineligible to be president.

In a White House speech Sunday, Obama said Americans must not give into fear of terrorism and Muslims. But within hours, Trump called for blocking the entry of Muslims into the country, a suggestion condemned by the White House, his Republican and Democratic presidential opponents, British Prime Minister David Cameron and others.

Europe's privacy concerns
criticized by U.S. top cop

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Following the Paris terror attacks and last week's shootings in San Bernardino, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is criticizing European governments for limiting how intelligence agencies share counterterrorism information around the world.

Speaking in London, Lynch called it particularly disappointing that the European Court of Justice recently struck down the so-called safe harbor agreement, signed in 2000, that allowed U.S. companies to easily send customer data from the European Union to servers based across the Atlantic.

Ms. Lynch said Wednesday it is highly concerning "that data privacy legislation advancing in the European Parliament might further restrict transatlantic information sharing." She characterized that cooperation as critical to fighting terrorism and transnational crime.

In October, the European Court of Justice ruled Safe Harbor invalid after a Facebook user aired concerns about the safety and integrity of his personal information following revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Ms. Lynch said media reports about the systems Snowden made public, which she claimed influenced the European court's decision, were now out of date. She also said the decision overlooks significant steps the Obama administration and Congress have taken to protect privacy.

"It is important that all of us, on both sides of the Atlantic, work to set the record straight regarding our commitment to protect not only the safety of our citizens, but also their civil liberties and privacy," Ms. Lynch said.

The United States has passed laws to protect the privacy not only of its own nationals, but also European citizens, she noted, pointing to a U.S.-led 24/7 cyber network that now links 70 countries and was critical in France's quick response to the Paris attacks last month.

Ms. Lynch also claimed U.S. intelligence has helped Interpol identify 4,000 foreign terrorist fighters.

U.S. blocks assets of German
who is international terrorist

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States has designated a Turkish-born German citizen as a global terrorist.

The action against Emrah Erdogan blocks all his assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction and generally prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with him, a State Department statement said Wednesday.

It also said that Erdogan, 27, had recruited foreign terrorist fighters, participated in fighting, and raised funds for al-Qaida and its Somalia-based affiliate, al-Shabab.

The statement said he trained with al-Shabab and carried out attacks in Kenya and Uganda before being apprehended in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2012 and deported to Germany.

Erdogan was sentenced to and is currently serving seven years in prison in Germany for joining militant groups in Pakistan and Somalia and for phoning in a false terror threat of attacks in Pakistan and Germany in November 2010, the statement said.

Torture rampant in China,
U.S. committee concludes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.N. Committee Against Torture says torture and ill treatment are widespread in China and this internationally prohibited practice remains deeply entrenched in the country’s criminal justice system.

The group of 10 independent experts said a Chinese delegation, which presented its case to the U.N. committee, acknowledges torture is a big problem in China, but, it said the delegation did not provide data on the extent and prevalence of this outlawed practice.   

The panel said China's delegation also did not provide information on how many people have died in custody, how many people are being held incommunicado in secret places of detention, known as black jails and how many cases of torture have been raised and investigated.

Under U.N. rules, states under review must respond to questions and concerns raised by the committee within a year after their records have been examined.  The U.N. committee said China has not responded to issues raised in 2008 and that they remain unresolved.

Committee member Jens Modvig said that among the practices that could easily amount to torture is a sanctioned method of interrogation. 

“A sign of this problem of widespread torture is the use of so-called interrogation chairs, which are chairs that are fixed to the ground and where the persons interrogated are restrained with arms and there are no time limits to how long such an interrogation could take place,” he said.

Modvig said many of the problems relate to the alleged crackdown on lawyers and human rights defenders. 

The committee itself expressed deep concern about the unprecedented detention and interrogation of more than 200 lawyers and activists since July.  It fears such abuses and restrictions may deter lawyers from raising reports of torture in their clients’ defense for fear of reprisals.

The committee welcomed the 2012 amendment to China’s Criminal Procedure Law prohibiting the use of confessions obtained by torture as evidence, but, it notes this legislation has not yet been implemented.

In 2013, China’s supreme court banned torture and called for criminal justice reforms, but human rights groups say torture remains widely used.

Russian tycoon predicts
revolution against Putin

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Dissident Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said Wednesday that a revolution in his country is inevitable, just days after Russian authorities summoned him for questioning as the accused in a 17-year-old murder case.

Addressing a conference in London, Khodorkovsky, the former head of Russia's Yukos oil company, accused President Vladimir Putin of having presided over a full-fledged unconstitutional coup.

"Given the absence of fair elections and other mechanisms of a legal changeover of power, the only means of bringing it about is revolution," he said, adding that the country's remaining hard currency reserves and the threat of repression were only delaying an inevitable revolution.

"The question is how to make the revolution at least relatively peaceful and effective from the point of view of restoring democratic governance in the country," Khodorkovsky said.

Khodorkovsky was released from prison at the end of 2013 after Putin pardoned him, having spent a decade in prison for tax evasion and embezzlement, charges he and his supporters say were politically motivated.

He confirmed Wednesday that Russia's investigative committee had ordered him to appear Friday for questioning in the June 1998 murder of Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, the Siberian city where Yukos had its largest production unit. Yukos' former security chief, Alexei Pichugin, is serving a life sentence for the murder of Petukhov and others. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2012 that Pichugin's right to a fair trial was violated.

After Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003, Yukos was broken up for alleged failure to pay taxes, and its main assets were handed over to Russia's Rosneft state oil company. Yukos was declared bankrupt in 2006.

Monday, Khodorkovsky connected Moscow's latest action against him to its unhappiness over a 2014 ruling by an international court in The Hague, which said Russia had wrongly seized Yukos and ordered it to pay former Yukos shareholders more than $50 billion in damages. The summons in the murder case, he said, was a way to put pressure on Yukos shareholders.

He said the Kremlin is also unhappy about the activities of Open Russia, the foundation Khodorkovsky set up to promote civil society in Russia.

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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

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

Rich Coast Realty is a full-service real estate company with property listings in Escazú, Santa Ana, Jacó, Esterillos, Bejuco, Palo Seco, Manuel Antonio, and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. We work hard to find you the property of your dreams, and assist with legal advice, residency, starting corporations, opening bank accounts, etc. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in, and relocating to Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate, we look forward to hearing from you.
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Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo
Photo montage of penthouse
Are you tired of wasting time searching for your home…..with no results?
If so, you should not miss this deal !!!

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Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo

* Located on 6th floor.
* Elevator.
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* Pool, BBQ area.
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        parking,  cellar.

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

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

Remax logo
Re/Max Ocean Surf and Sun:

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

Real estate for sale (paid category)

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

A beautiful American style suburban home just reduced.

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

Safe house
The Safest Place in The World
Residencial La Jolla, Asuncion de Belén
Casa 7 of 19 luxury homes in exclusive gated community.
3 bedroom, 3.5 baths, home office with private entrance.
332 m2 construction. 2-car garage. Central A/C
Lease $2,750 USD per month. Purchase $449,000.
Contact: Phone 8309-2000.

ocean-view home
Property size: 3,405.14 sq. mts. or 37,000 sq. ft.   Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft. titled property. This home (240 sq. mtrs or 2,600 sq. ft) has 360-degree ocean and mountain views and electric gated private road access. The large open style home has soaring teak ceillings, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, custom cabinetry and ceramic tiles throughout and a double-car electric garage door. Their is also a beautiful, large swimming pool surrounded by exotic garden, laundry room and bodega. This is a very special and rare property because of the incredible view and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must to see. all custom built furnitures included. Photo gallery:  CLICK HERE!  Please contact Jack, Cell phone number  (506) 8812-1789.  Contact email:


Caribbean paradise: CAHUITA

New home, beautiful well-built house 200 meters from a lovely beach. Very private, fully titled, excellent water well.  2 large bedrooms, 2 full baths, tub, large open floor plan 26-foot sliding glass doors open to covered porch. Encircling back yard are coral rocks 10 feet tall and behind jungle reserve. Lots of birds and wildlife. House 240 mts. sq, 2,400 sq ft. Lot 1,850 mts. or 19,000 sq. ft. Price $179,000. Very nice neighborhood. Contact 2755-0014 or   More photos HERE!

New Arenal

There are many good reasons for moving to or investing in Costa Rica

Are you worried about the safety of the money in your 401k?  Do you think your government has painted a bullseye on all of your assets?  Do you believe it might be time to consider moving some money overseas just in case?  This property, at a distress sales price of only $140,000, should gross a 7-10% return this year and the bookings for this season aren’t all in yet.  The best part from a buyer’s standpoint is that it is utilizing only a fraction of its potential.  What’s wrong here?  Divorce, and a lack of funds needed to make the necessary value-added improvements.  Rental manager says rents could double with moderate invesement, but the current owners are unable to resolve those problems, so selling is their only way out.  This extra-large lot with its modern 2-bedroom home was intended to service a dozen or more apartments to be built on the rear, a really great plan, but that was before the wheels came off of the marriage.  It is a really good investment property in a very desirable location, earning a much better safe return than stocks and bonds, but it is also perfect for buyers who only want to follow the original plan and live in the existing home while building out the rest for a comfortable retirement.  Perfect, too, for the person who intends to move to Costa Rica in the future and wants to buy at today’s prices, but needs a property which will carry itself until that time comes.  To find out more about this opportunity contact: or phone 506-8377-8402.

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:

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

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

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

Goetl in Palo Seco

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

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

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

Located 8 km south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $775,000. Contact:
Watch this video for full details.

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

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

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 244
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Internet seems to affect personal certainty

By the University of Waterloo news staff

People are less willing to rely on their knowledge and say they know something when they have access to the Internet, suggesting that  connections to the web is affecting how they think.

Evan F. Risko of the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo in Canada led a study where the team asked about 100 participants a series of general-knowledge questions, such as naming the capital of France. Participants indicated if they knew the answer or not. For half of the study, participants had access to the Internet. They had to look up the answer when they responded that they did not know the answer. In the other half of the study, participants did not have access to the Internet.

The team found that the people who had access to the Web were about 5 per cent more likely to say that they did not know the answer to the question. Furthermore, in some contexts, the people with access to the Internet reported feeling as though they knew less compared to the people without access.

“With the ubiquity of the Internet, we are almost constantly connected to large amounts of information. And when that data is within reach, people seem less likely to rely on their own knowledge,” said Risko.

In interpreting the results, the researchers speculated that access to the Internet might make it less acceptable for someone to say he or she knows something but are incorrect. It is also possible that participants were more likely to say they didn’t know an answer when they had access to the Web because online searching offers an opportunity to confirm their answer or resolve their curiosity, and the process of finding out is rewarding.

“Our results suggest that access to the Internet affects the decisions we make about what we know and don’t know,” said Risko. "We hope this research contributes to our growing understanding of how easy access to massive amounts of information can influence our thinking and behavior."

David McLean and Amanda Ferguson, research assistants, are co-authors of the study, which appears in the journal, Consciousness and Cognition. Risko plans to further the research in this area by investigating the factors that lead to individuals' reduced willingness to respond when they have access to the Web. 

Some drugs from India called fake

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Developing countries in Africa are battling a host of deadly infectious diseases, from diarrheal conditions to malaria to HIV, and some think India may have a way to help. But complications arise.

India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, met recently with the heads of state of more than 50 African countries to discuss ways India, which has become the world's leader in the manufacture and export of generic drugs, can improve the continent's health infrastructure.

Such drugs cost a small fraction of the originals, and exports have reaped $15 billion for the Indian economy, according to some estimates. But inspectors have identified factories that produce substandard drugs that are dangerous, either because they contain toxic ingredients or because they simply do not work.

Fake malaria drugs already have made their way to Africa, and some worry that more copycat drugs could be on the way.

"India seems to segment its markets,” said health economist Roger Bate with the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based research organization. “. . . on average it sends the better quality medications to countries like the United States. And the medicines that do not pass quality control, it sends to poorer nations, particularly those in Africa."

Gaurvika Nayyar, a global health consultant, backs the contention that poorly made and counterfeit drugs are being exported to poorer countries. She says she has visited some of the sham factories, but she stresses that knowing about the problem and taking action are two different things.

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VW says CO2 problem is less than anticipated

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

German automaker Volkswagen announced Wednesday that a problem with carbon dioxide emissions is far smaller than initially suspected.

In a case separate from the emissions cheating scandal, the company said that further checks found slight discrepancies in only a few models and no evidence of illegal changes to fuel consumption and emissions figures.

“This means that these vehicles can be marketed and sold without any limitations,” the company said in a statement.

Volkswagen said that minor deviations were found in nine variants of brand models, including Polo, Scirocco, Jetta, Golf and Passat with an annual production of some 36,000 cars, or less than 1 percent of the brand's total production. Those deviations amount to a few grams of CO2 on average, Volkswagen said.

Volkswagen’s update came as its supervisory board was meeting to discuss progress with the investigations it launched in September after its admission of irregularities about carbon emissions a day after U.S. authorities accused the company of fitting defeat devices on its larger diesel vehicles.

Shares in Volkswagen traded 6 percent higher on the news.

Volkswagen was plunged into the biggest crisis in its history after the revelation that 11 million of its vehicles had been fitted with devices that switched anti-pollution controls on during tests, but shut off the devices during normal driving.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in September that there were 500,000 problemed diesel Volkswagens in the U.S., which warranted fines up to $18 billion.

Some law firms in North America filed class action suits.  Countries in Europe, including Germany, also filed law suits, in addition to ordering investigations into emission levels of Volkswagen cars.