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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 251                              Email us
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Roberto Guerrero's work
The artist calls the work  Arma Mortal de un Guerrero Delicado.  It's one of the 104 works on display at the Galería Nacional.
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Light and bold colors dominate at a new show by a Guanacaste artist in the hidden Garden Gallery in Liberia.
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Stories are HERE!
Carmen Silva's tulips

Rate-setting agency predicts lower power costs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The price regulating agency came out with a surprise Wednesday and said that electrical rates would average about 5.5 percent lower next year.

But electrical customers probably should not count on that happening. The agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, said that the rates still are subject to review every three months. Just last week the agency denied a request by major power users to reduce those rates at the expense of residential customers. The agency also has trimmed rate increase requests submitted by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the primary generator.

Wednesday the agency said that the rates would be lower because the estimate of the price of fuel is lower. During the dry season the major generating company, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, burns a petroleum product to keep the generators moving. Lower water levels tend to restrict hydro generators.

So if the price of petroleum goes up, so will electrical rates. The company known as ICE is  quick to bring such changes to the attention of the Autoridad.
electrical rates

Only customers of two cooperatives, Coopelesca and Coopesantos. will not see a rate cut.

In addition to generating power, ICE distributes electricity, too. It's customers will see a 4.81 reduction, the Autoridad said.

Much of the Central Valley is serviced by an ICE subsidiary, the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz.

Those customers will benefit from a 8.75 percent cut.

Heredia power customers will see a 7.33 percent cut. But in Cartago the reduction will be miniscule.

Modified crop foes say they have 85% of cantons
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Foes of genetically modified crops have won another victory in that the canton of Alajuelita Tuesday voted to oppose the sowing of such crops inside its borders.

The campaign by environmental activists is seeking to gain similar decisions from the 12 cantons that have not done so. Organizers said that 85 percent of the cantons have agreed to the campaign.

They are seeking the cantons of Cañas, Carrillo, Cartago, Jiménez, Los Chiles, Curridabat, Miramar, Orotina, Pococí, San Mateo, Sarapiquí and Turrubares to do likewise.

The legality of the decisions are in doubt because an agency of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandaría is in charge of approving modified crops in Costa Rica.

The campaign really is against Monsanto Corp., the agrochemical giant, which seeks to plant some corn test plots. Genetically modified crops have been planted in Costa Rica for years.

The organizations that oppose genetically modified crops are Bloque Verde and the Federación Conservacionista de Costa Rica. These are basically the same organizations that opposed the Las Crucitas open pit gold mine, petroleum test drilling in the northern zone and other for-profit ventures.
modified crops
Modified Bloque Verde and Federación
Conservacionista graphic

To promote its goals, the organizations said that the Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva will be in Costa Rica next week. She will speak at the Universidad de Costa Rica at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of Ciencias Agroalimentarias.

There also will be an agricultural fair at the university during that day along with conferences against modified crops from 2 to 5:30 p.m.

Monsanto produces a corn variety that is resistant to its chemical weed killers so that farmers can spray instead of hoe corn rows by hand.

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission.
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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Dec. 19, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 251

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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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Colinas photo


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Foreign ministry applauds
results of apostille system

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has sent out 124,853 documents to foreign lands under the new apostille system, the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto said Wednesday.

The new system went into effect in December 2011 and eliminated the need for consular approval of official documents. That also is the case of foreign documents coming into Costa Rica.

The ministry said that the bulk of the documents that receive its blessing come from the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, the Dirección Nacional de Notariado, the Ministerio de Educación Pública, the Registro Nacional and professional organizations. They may be birth, marriage or divorce documents, academic degrees, property titles and similar.

The apostille system, government by an international convention, is seen as a way to increase the competitivity of the country, said the ministry.

Most expats encounter this system when they seek foreign documents to complete their residency application.

Train kills pedestrian
in San Pedro mishap

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 23-year-old man with the last name of Arguello died Tuesday night when he was hit by a train just north of Mall San Pedro.

The man was reported to be walking south and did not see the train, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The case still is being investigated.

There are no crossing gates along the train route, but the engineer usually blows a horn at intersections. The tracks cross the Circunvalación in that area as well as several sidewalks.

Forest fire fighters hone
skills in international meet

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

While expats see the dry season as blue skies and afternoon picnics, forest fire fighters see field fires.

They are getting ready.  More than 250 fire fighters from six countries have participated in a Central American gathering to improve their skills.

The event was held in Cartago sponsored in part by the U.S. government through USAID.

Officials said that in Costa Rica nearly all field and woods fires have a human cause. Hunters and poachers frequently let campfires get out of control.  The winds of the dry season do the rest.

4.8 magnitude quake rattles
southern part of country

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 4.8 magnitude quake rattled parts of southern Costa Rica about 9:05 p.m. Wednesday.

The Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica said the epicenter was about 9 kilometers east southeast of Pavon de Golfito.

The quake was felt moderately in Corredores and Ciudad Neily, the Laboratorio said.

Country to host observers
for elections in February

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has invited a team of observers designated by the Organizaton of American States to observe its general election Feb. 2.

The agreement between the country and the hemispheric body provides immunity and certain benefits for observers. Costa Rica was the first nation to receive observers from the Organization of American States. That was in 1962.

Observers are not expected to have a difficult time. The election is under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, a branch of government setup for that purpose.

'Tico Tales' returns to Jacó
for holiday performances

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Teatro Jacó presents  “Tico Tales” Dec. 26 through Dec. 29, 2013 and Jan. 2 through Jan. 5 in Jacó,

The bilingual musical adaptation of traditional Costa Rican folk tales embodies the spirit and ancient traditions of the Costa Rican people while bringing to life the powerfully ominous stories of El Cadejos, Duendes, La Llorona, La Segua and other traditional characters, the theater said. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for children and $20 for adults. Tickets and reservations are available at 2630-9812 or More information is at

Saturday, Dec. 28, marks the second anniversary of Teatro Jacó. Audiences will have a special performance and after-show party with appearances from cast members of Tico Tales, refreshments and other live entertainment. Tickets for the anniversary performance and party are $30.

Under the management of Darren Lee Cole, Teatro Jacó brings  entertainment to the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica by producing professional theatrical productions from around the world, providing in-school workshops, drama and dance instruction for all ages, cultural arts exchanges and free community performances, the theater noted.

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From A.M. Costa Rica

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From our retirement guide

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In recognition of the holidays, the offices of A.M. Costa Rica in Barrio Otoya will be closed from Tuesday, Dec. 24, to Thursday, Jan. 2.

However, the daily newspaper will publish each weekday
except Christmas and New Years.

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
 Hidden Garden
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Dec. 19, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 251
Real Estate
About us

Judge is reported to have sent Luis Milanes case to trial
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Luis Ángel Milanes Tamayo fraud case has taken another turn. A judge has ordered the case to trial, according to messages some lawyers are sending their clients. There has been no confirmation by the Poder Judicial.

Judge Dayanna Segura Mena has been considering the case for nearly three weeks. The judge is about to go on maternity leave, and former investors in the Milanes operation, Savings Unlimited, were worried that the case would go back to square one if a new judge took over.

Judge Segura has received praise from some of the investors for her attention to detail and understanding of the case. There has been a procession of judges and prosecutors since Milanes returned to Costa Rica in June 2008.

Some investors expressed disappointment that the judge did not also order that Milanes be put in preventative detention. Lead prosecutor Marcela Muñoz asked the judge to do that in an early November hearing because she considered him a flight risk.
The judge probably was swayed because Milanes is the owner of a string of Central Valley casinos and because he also put up property as a bond when he returned to the country.

One lawyer in a message to clients estimated that the trial is eight months away.

Savings Unlimited is one of those high interest operations that collapsed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and the subsequent crackdown on international money flows.

Milanes was a competitor of the so-called Brothers operation run by Luis Enrique Villalobos and his brother Oswaldo. Both firms offered up to 3 per cent a month for cash deposits.

Milanes attracted some customers because his operation in Edificio Colón appeared to be more professional. There was a
bank-like atmosphere complete with a cashier's window.  By contrast, Enrique Villalobos handed out monthly returns in cash stuffed into envelopes and sometimes threw in a free Bible.

Villalobos refused to say what he was doing with his investors money. Milanes claimed he was investing in casinos.
Judges who convicted Oswaldo of aggravated fraud said the Villalobos operation was a ponzi scheme. There has been no ruling on the character of the Milanes operation.

Milanes vanished in late November 2002 about six weeks after Villalobos suspended operations. Enrique Villalobos still is missing.

The judge's decision in the Milanes case is the latest twist in what already is a tangled tale. The casino owner was trying to buy off his creditors and has put properties into the name of a trust to benefit the investors.

The case came to a climax when Milanes failed to make cash payments that eventually would have been shared with the creditors.

In October, the judge negotiated a settlement whereby Milanes would pay $578,000, an amount that would have brought some money to the former investors and, of course, the lawyers involved in the case. One of the investors objected, and the judge suspended the negotiations.

Investors lost perhaps as much as $200 million when Milanes closed down 11 years ago. He has said that a former partner took the bulk of the money.

Milanes appears to have had unusual luck with the Poder Judicial. He spent just a night in jail when he returned, the casinos never entered into the settlement deal and the judiciary as well as investor lawyers accepted properties even though they had impediments with the titles.

He is a Cuban American.

Found objects challenge 52 artists to create unique works
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 52 artists have created 104 works using found objects, including many that show the ravages of time.

This is the new show that runs until Jan. 30 at the Galería Nacional of the Centro Costarricense de Ciencia y Cultura. The facility is part of the Museo de los Niños.

The works include worn shoes, pieces of metal, discarded hammocks, bottles, old televisions, pieces of wood and even the shell of a hand grenade that has been spiffed up with rhinestones. All the artists are Costa Rican.

Artists Luis Chacón, Vita Cascante and Rodrigo Rubí are curators of the show. The museo is visible north of Avenida 9 in north San José.
Los Zapatos by Zoleila Solano and Luis Fernando Quirós

Guanacaste artist believes in bold colors, subjects from nature
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Growing up in the beautiful province of Guanacaste, the sights and colors filled Costa Rican artist Carmen Silva with a sense of wonder.  Surrounded by so many facets of nature, her passion to capture her emotions on canvas was the inspiration to develop her artistic flair.

Her ability to do this is demonstrated by a show that begins Saturday in her home province.

"Though most of my family's talents lies in their voices and music abilities," Ms. Silva said, "strangely, for me, I needed a more physical outlet and have always been drawn to the visual arts.  Colors of nature consume me: feathers of birds, colors of plants and other fauna."

She said she recalled as a child traveling to San José to visit the museums and was fortunate to experience Madrid and Paris where she was captivated by the Museo del Prado and the Louvre." It was fascinating to see the original Van Gogh's and paintings of the Impressionists," she said

After raising her children, Ms. Silva decided to explore her creative talent and began taking private lessons from Costa Rican artists such as Jim Theologos, Gilberto Aquino Pérez and Hernán Pérez Pérez. 

"Learning from these artists has been a magical experience and instrumental in learning various techniques to help me find my own path to celebrate my joy of life," said the artist. 

"Silva transports the viewer into a world full of life by starting with a blank canvas, combining nature and her imagination with interlaced brushstrokes, textures, and magical colors," said Aquino.

Having participated in over 10 individual exhibits and 23
Carmen silva
Hidden Garden Art Gallery  photo 
Carmen Silva at work with bold colors.

collective exhibits, Ms. Silva's newest exhibit, "Luz y  Color," premieres at the Hidden Garden Art Gallery Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The gallery is located five kilometers west of the Daniel Oduber airport.  More information is available  by email HERE, by telephone to 2667-0592 or 8386-6872 or the galley Web site HERE!


You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Dec. 19, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 251
Real Estate
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U.S. Federal Reserve chief says bond purchases will be reduced in January
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Federal Reserve will start scaling back its monthly bond-buying program as early as next month. But the reduction will be gradual.  The Federal Reserve has been buying $85 billion a month in government bonds in an effort to keep interest rates low and boost economic growth.  Outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke says the stimulus is working.

Ever since the U.S. central bank introduced the latest round of monetary stimulus 12 months ago, long-term interest rates have remained near zero and unemployment has fallen a full percentage point.  As a result, the Federal Reserve says it's time to begin reducing its bond purchases by $10 billion starting in January.

Bernanke said the decision reflects the committee’s confidence in the U.S. recovery.

“Notably despite significant fiscal headwinds, the economy has been expanding at a moderate pace, and we expect that growth will pick up somewhat in coming quarters," said Bernanke.
Although inflation remains well below levels that would suggest growth, the Fed says the economy is likely to expand at an annualized rate of about 3 percent with unemployment falling to about 6.5 percent by the end of 2014.

Bernanke says further reductions in bond purchases will take place in measured steps, depending on economic conditions.

“If the economy slows for some reason or we are disappointed in the outcomes, we could skip a meeting or two.  On the other side, if things really pick up, then of course we could go a bit faster.  But my expectation is for similar moderate steps going forward throughout most of 2014," he said.

Stocks surged on Wall Street following the announcement.  Even though many investors were expecting the Fed’s bond purchases to remain at current levels until March, economist Uri Dadush said the impact of the so-called taper was anticipated the moment Bernanke hinted at the possibility in May.

Despite the improved outlook, Bernanke warns the economy still needs the Fed's support. Bernanke, who is set to step down in January, says his replacement is committed to keeping interest rates near record lows until unemployment falls well below 6.5 percent.

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

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Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
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Beautiful studio home with garden patio
Completely furnished with best bed (Jiron™ Full), refri, stove, dishes, pans, etc. TV and high-speed internet connected. Free.
Located high above a river. You will sleep like a baby. Perfect weather, never too hot nor cold. Secure, private and secluded, and yet, only 10 minutes to San Isidro de El General (fairly large city in the mountains with everything) and from there, 40 minutes to beaches. Bus is close and costs 35 cents to San Isidro. Special price for single, long-term renter, nonsmoker: $425 + utilities. Go to and put in, #969365 for pics and full description Then write to us, Thanks. Email:

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

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

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

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Dec. 19, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 251
Real Estate
About us


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory photo
This is the slurry that contains a high percentage of water.

Algae projects creates oil
rapidly with heat, pressure

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It used to take a million years to convert algae to oil, but scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory say they have developed a process to do the job in minutes.

In the  process, a slurry of wet algae with the consistency of pea soup is pumped into the front end of a chemical reactor. Once the system is up and running, out comes crude oil in less than an hour, along with water and a byproduct stream of material containing phosphorus that can be recycled to grow more algae.

While algae has long been considered a potential source of biofuel, and several companies have produced algae-based fuels on a research scale, the fuel is projected to be expensive. The lab's technology harnesses algae's energy potential efficiently and incorporates a number of methods to reduce the cost of producing algae fuel.

"Cost is the big roadblock for algae-based fuel," said Douglas Elliott, the laboratory fellow who led the  team's research. "We believe that the process we've created will help make algae biofuels much more economical."

The most important cost-saving step is that the process works with wet algae. Most current processes require the algae to be dried — a process that takes a lot of energy and is expensive. The new process works with an algae slurry that contains as much as 80 to 90 percent water.

"Not having to dry the algae is a big win in this process; that cuts the cost a great deal," said Elliott. "Then there are bonuses, like being able to extract usable gas from the water and then recycle the remaining water and nutrients to help grow more algae, which further reduces costs."

Other processes for converting algae to oil exist, but according to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, its process can continuously convert 1.5 liters of slurry into biofuel per hour.

They say additionally their process eliminates the need for complex solvents like hexane.

Instead, the lab team works with the whole algae, subjecting it to very hot water under high pressure to tear apart the substance, converting most of the biomass into liquid and gas fuels.

The method requires a lot of heat and a lot of pressure, which together causes what is called hydrothermal liquefaction and catalytic hydrothermal gasification. While not cheap to build, Elliott says the savings on the back end more than makes up for the investment.

"It's a bit like using a pressure cooker, only the pressures and temperatures we use are much higher," he said. "In a sense, we are duplicating the process in the Earth that converted algae into oil over the course of millions of years. We're just doing it much, much faster."

A biofuels company, Utah-based Genifuel Corp., has licensed the technology and is working with an industrial partner to build a pilot plant using the technology. The company has been working with Elliott since 2008.

The research results were reported in the journal Algal Research.

Presidential panel suggests
restrictions on NSA spying

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A special panel appointed by President Barack Obama has released its report on U.S. surveillance activities.  Obama ordered the report and a wider government-wide review earlier this year amid leaks by exiled former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. 

Leaks by Edward Snowden about NSA eavesdropping programs created a huge problem for the U.S. intelligence community and for Obama.

Obama has described the programs, approved and modified at various points by Congress and overseen by a special court, as important to keeping Americans safe, but has called for more self-restraint by the NSA.

Some of the recommendations

Here are a few of the recommendations made by an outside review panel for wide-ranging changes to the U.S. government's surveillance programs:

1.    The government now stores bulk telephony metadata, understood as information that includes the telephone numbers that both originate and receive calls, time of call and date of call. The panel recommended that Congress should end such storage and transition to a system in which such metadata is held privately for the government to query when necessary for national security purposes.

2.    Restrictions should be placed on the ability of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to compel third parties (such as telephone service providers) to disclose private information to the government.

3.    Legislation should be enacted requiring information about surveillance programs to be made available to the Congress and to the American people to the greatest extent possible.

4.    Significant steps should be taken to protect the privacy of non-U.S. persons.

5.    The president should create a new process, requiring highest-level approval of all sensitive intelligence requirements and the methods that the intelligence community will use to meet them.

6.    The director should be a Senate-confirmed position, with civilians eligible to hold that position; the president should give serious consideration to making the next director of NSA a civilian.

7.    Congress should create the position of public interest advocate to represent the interests of privacy and civil liberties before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Revelations added significant new layers to what is known about government information gathering, including data on telephone calls and activities on the Internet.

In its 300-page report, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies makes 46 recommendations. 

One is to end bulk storage of so-called metadata of the telephone records of Americans by the government, in favor of storage by private companies or a third party, rather than the NSA. 

It also says the government should not as a general rule and without senior policy review, be permitted to collect and store all mass, undigested, non-public personal information about individuals to enable future queries and data-mining for foreign intelligence purposes.

Other recommendations include: requiring a court to approve individual searches of phone and Internet data, and limiting the NSA's emergency authority regarding tracking of known targets of counterterrorism surveillance who enter the United States.

The panel urges a new process to identify uses and limits of surveillance on foreign leaders and in foreign nations.  It says decisions should consider negative effects, and whether other means or targets of collection could reliably reveal needed information. 

The review group met with Obama Wednesday although its report was submitted last week. 

Press secretary Jay Carney said the decision to release the report was made because of inaccurate and incomplete media reports about its content.

He said Obama will be very deliberate in assessing the document during his upcoming holiday vacation and speak to the nation in January, when a separate overall internal U.S. government review is completed.

"The president has made clear that even as we review our efforts and make some changes in how we do things, we will not harm our ability to face those threats; that is his number one obligation as commander-in-chief," he said.

Carney said there is no doubt that the Snowden leaks created an intense focus on the surveillance issue, both in the U.S. and abroad.

The official U.S. position on Snowden remains unchanged, with the White House saying he should return to the U.S. to face felony charges.

The White House disagrees with suggestions that Snowden receive amnesty to prevent him from releasing additional information that could further damage U.S. security and relations with allies.

The Obama administration faced more pressure this week from a federal court ruling that found the bulk collection of data about telephone calls made by Americans is likely unconstitutional.

Obama also faced pressure from high-tech executives who met with him.  They are reported to have urged aggressive reforms and voiced concern about damage to U.S. credibility and business interests abroad.

Interviewed on CBS's 60 Minutes, the NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, denied that the agency is collecting email or monitoring the phone conversations of Americans, saying the NSA's job is foreign intelligence.

He said the NSA can target communications of a U.S. person only with a probable cause finding under a court order. But he voiced concern about any decision to allow phone records to reside with private phone companies.

Indian diplomat sends email
home to describe treatment

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An Indian diplomat arrested in the United States last week says she faced repeated handcuffing and cavity searches while being
held on visa fraud charges in New York City, fueling a diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and her country.

In an email published in Indian media Wednesday, Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade said she broke down in tears multiple times while undergoing cavity searches and other indignities. She said she also was held in a space with common criminals and drug addicts, despite her repeated
Ms. Khobragade
assertions that she has diplomatic immunity.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called India's national security advisor to discuss Ms. Khobragade's Dec. 12 arrest, saying U.S. laws must be enforced, but also expressing regret at the events that unfolded after her detention.

India has reacted with outrage to the incident.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said the isolated episode is not indicative of the close and mutually respectful ties that the U.S. and India share. He said U.S. officials are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all standard procedures were followed and that every opportunity for courtesy was extended.

Supporters of a small opposition party staged an anti-U.S. protest in New Delhi Wednesday. Tuesday, Indian authorities asked U.S. consular officers to return their identity cards, rescinded airport passes and removed concrete security barriers from in front of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

State Department spokesman Marie Harf said the U.S. expects that American "diplomats should be allowed to continue with their jobs. They should not be impeded from doing them in any way."

The 39-year-old Ms. Khobragade is accused of making false statements in support of the visa application of an Indian national she brought to the United States to serve as household staff. She also is accused of paying the woman less than the minimum wage.

Ms. Khobragade, who says she is innocent, has been released on $250,000 bail.

Narrow Russian amnesty
to benefit high profile cases

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russia's parliament on Wednesday adopted an amnesty which lawyers said would free two jailed members of punk band Pussy Riot and enable 30 people arrested in a Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil drilling to avoid trial.
Such an outcome would remove two of many irritants in ties with the West before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics in February. Concern over Russia's treatment of gays is already threatening to cloud the atmosphere at the Sochi Games.
The State Duma, or lower house, unanimously approved the amnesty proposed by President Vladimir Putin to mark the 20th anniversary of the passage of Russia's post-Soviet constitution.
Human rights activists say the amnesty is far too narrow, freeing only a tiny fraction of Russia's more than half a million prisoners.
It will not benefit prominent Putin foes such as jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky or opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who will be kept out of elections for years by a theft conviction he says was politically motivated.
But lawyers said it would lead to the early release of Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, whose two-year sentences over an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral have been criticized in the West as excessive.
Greenpeace said an amendment added hours before the vote would almost certainly end legal proceedings against 30 people who faced jail terms of up to seven years over a protest at an Arctic offshore oil platform in September, allowing the 26 foreigners among them, from 17 countries, to go home.
“We have good news,” Greenpeace Russia said on Twitter. “The Duma has voted to grant amnesty to the Greenpeace activists.”
The arrest of the men and women, dubbed the Arctic 30, also drew Western criticism and was widely seen as a signal that Putin will not tolerate efforts to stop Russia's development of the resource-rich region where nations are vying for clout.
A lawyer for Ms. Tolokonnikova and Ms. Alyokhina, whose prison terms end in March, said she hoped they would walk free within days.
“It's a very narrow amnesty. I'm very glad it applies to my clients,” lawyer Irina Khrunova said by telephone.
The amnesty will take effect when it is published in the official government gazette, which is expected on Thursday.
The Arctic 30 were arrested after Russian coast guards boarded the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise following a Sept. 18 protest in which some of the activists tried to scale Russia's first offshore oil platform in the Arctic.
They were charged with hooliganism, jailed in stark conditions for two months and have been unable to leave Russia since their release on bail.
“I might soon be going home to my family, but I should never have been charged and jailed in the first place,” Greenpeace quoted Arctic Sunrise's U.S. captain Peter Willcox as saying.
“We sailed north to bear witness to a profound environmental threat but our ship was stormed by masked men wielding knives and guns. We were never the criminals here.”
A Greenpeace lawyer said it was unclear whether the foreigners, who do not have visas, could leave Russia by Jan. 1.
Putin, accused by his critics of curbing democracy during 14 years in power and stifling dissent in his third presidential term, said last month the amnesty should underscore the humanism of our state.
It would release many elderly and young people, women with young children and people with disabilities.
But members of Putin's own human rights council estimate it will free fewer than 1,500 convicts. Almost all Russian trials end in convictions and the prison population is nearly 700,000.
Critics also say it could lead to the release of some police, soldiers and government bureaucrats charged with crimes, but will leave in jail people accused of violence against police, including protesters at an anti-Putin rally last year.

Bitcoin takes a big tumble
after Chinese crackdown

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The meteoric rise of the controversial virtual currency Bitcoin appears to be over, at least for now.

China, where wild speculation had sent the price of Bitcoin skyrocketing, announced today that it was no longer accepting yuan deposits for the cybercurrency.

The announcement sent the price of Bitcoins tumbling after the midday announcement, sinking as low as 2,503 yuan ($412) by early evening after starting the day at 3,755 yuan ($618). Less than a month ago, the currency sold for as high as $1,250.

BTC, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, made the announcement on its Weibo account, saying "due to the reasons that everyone knows, BTC China has to temporarily stop its yuan account recharging functions."

BTC said Bitcoin holders can still top up their accounts using Bitcoins and withdraw yuan.

"We essentially got notice from our third-party provider today that they will discontinue accepting payments for us and new deposits," said Bobby Lee, chief executive of BTC China, according to the South China Morning Post. "We're still operating a Bitcoin exchange in China legally, and we're still allowing people to deposit and withdraw Bitcoin . . . ."

The clampdown comes in the wake of fears among Chinese officials that the cybercurrency, which is anonymous and operates independently of any bank or government, could become a viable alternative to the yuan, which is not freely convertible. Bitcoin potentially could have offered an untraceable and anonymous way for Chinese to move their money offshore.

Senate approves agreement
for two-year budget deal

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Senate has voted 64 to 36 to approve a two-year federal budget that eases automatic spending cuts and averts the threat of another government shutdown. The measure received bipartisan support, which is a rarity in an otherwise politically fractured body. It now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The budget gives Washington a two-year reprieve from the fiscal wars that halted federal operations for 16 days in October. Sen. Richard Durbin, a Democrat, was elated.

“What a refreshing development in this town, where so many times we just fall flat on our face,” said Durbin.

The budget deal passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives last week. It proves that Congress can function, says Sen. Angus King, an independent.

“We can, in fact, talk to each other. We can, in fact, compromise. We can, in fact, make financial and fiscal arrangements around here that make sense, that are rational, that prioritize, and we can do our jobs,” he said.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, a Democrat, crafted the deal with her Republican House counterpart. Ms. Murray said the accord softens automatic spending cuts while collecting additional revenues for a net reduction of the federal deficit.

“The bipartisan Budget Act puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back those automatic and harmful cuts to education, medical research, infrastructure investments and defense jobs for the next two years,” said Ms. Murray.

Three dozen senators, all Republicans, voted against the bill, including fiscal hardliner Tom Coburn.

“It is a compromise for the politicians. It is not a compromise for the American people because what it really does is increase spending and increase taxes.”

Coburn and other Republicans were disappointed that the budget fails to address America’s long-term fiscal imbalances, while Democrats complained that it does not extend federal compensation for the unemployed.

Even as senators prepared to vote on the budget bill, the chamber was not free of partisan attacks. Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican, blasted Obama’s health care law.

“We have seen the president’s health care law is nothing more than a collection of deceptions, delays and disappointments,” said Barrasso.

Despite the budget deal, fiscal drama could return to the Capitol in February, when the government once again will reach its borrowing limit.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

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

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

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

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

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

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

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

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

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

Costa Rica,

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

Visit our Web Site:

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

Real estate for sale (paid category)

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:

Gorgeous Survival Farm located between San Ramón and Arenal Volcano bordering the huge Arenal Monteverde Nature Reserve. 30 acres of virgin rain forest with no neighbors, river, spring waters, rich soil, giant trees, homesite, no electricity, year-round 4WD access. 59,000 USD

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 Contact us at: or +1-866-514-7435.

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

long view

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

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

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

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

Becker montage
Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

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


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

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

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

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

humming bird nest

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

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

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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.  Liquor and convenience store is operational. Room to add an automotive service, car wash, restaurant, pharmacy, lotto sales, tour sales, ATM's,  etc, for a real money maker. Also future plans for a 80-unit  auto motel and casino. See on Youtube at: Asking price  $3.9 million. Email or call: 8899-9870.

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

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

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

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Dec. 19, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 251
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
American wins art lottery
to obtain Picasso work

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A million-dollar drawing by Pablo Picasso was snapped up on Wednesday by a 25-year-old American art lover at an online charity raffle for a mere 100 euros ($140).
Jeffrey Gonano said he had been looking for a picture to hang on his living room wall when he read a news article about “L'Homme au Gibus” (“Man with Opera Hat”), raffled by Sotheby's in Paris.
“I was looking for art, and I thought I might as well,” the project manager at a fire sprinkler firm said by telephone.
Despite the enormous value of his new acquisition, Gonano vowed not to sell the artwork, at least for the time being.
His winning ticket 747815, picked by a computer system Wednesday, was one of 50,000 put up for sale online at 100 euros each to raise funds for an association working to preserve the ancient city of Tire, in modern day Lebanon.
Organizers said that buyers from France and Germany to Iran and Kyrgyzstan had taken part, with a particularly large number of Americans.
The small drawing dates from 1914, during the artist's Cubist phase, and was purchased by the Association to Save Tire from a New York gallery with the help of a large bank loan. Organizers say they paid slightly less for the work than the $1 million estimate given by Sotheby's experts.
The sale was given the green light by Picasso's grandson Olivier Picasso who said his grandfather would have been thrilled that his work was being put to good use.
“My grandfather was a pioneer in everything, in his love life, in his artwork, so tonight I'm sure he would have helped the cause,” he said.
For the moment the work's new owner said he still could not believe his luck.
“I'm still in shock. I've never won anything like this before... Obviously,” he said.

Two major financial firms
face action on bum mortgages

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Justice Department is preparing to file civil fraud charges against Citigroup, Inc., and Bank of America's Merrill Lynch unit over their sale of flawed mortgage securities ahead of the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the probes.

Civil investigators have compiled evidence that allegedly shows that investors lost tens of billions of dollars after purchasing securities Citigroup had marketed as safe even though the bank had reason to believe otherwise, one person said.

An investigation into the mortgage securities marketed by Merrill Lynch, which Bank of America agreed to acquire at the height of the crisis in 2008, is also close to completion, two other people said.

Probes against Royal Bank of Scotland and Credit Suisse are also underway and progressing, according to another two people familiar with those cases.

Representatives for all four banks declined to comment.

The U.S. banking industry, which faces a range of mortgage-related lawsuits, has contended that many of the alleged investor losses can be attributed to the financial crisis and that they should not be held liable for marketing a variety of mortgage securities that ultimately soured.

The Justice Department has not determined the exact timing of upcoming lawsuits, the sources said, although U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this month that the department planned to bring more mortgage-related cases in early 2014, while declining to name which companies were targeted.

The probes could also lead to settlements instead of lawsuits.

Costa Rican News
Retire NOW in Costa Rica

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From Page 7:

Pavas specialty foods firm wins big U.S. prize

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Andrés Dominguez Dillon from Florida and Iván Sosa Lazarenko from Costa Rica have taken the grand prize of $50,000, as well as a packet of business support services valued at over $100,000 for their company Natural Sins Ltda. The Pavas-based firm produces and sells baked fruit snacks.

They were so honored after presenting their product in a contest set up by the U.S. Department of State. The contest is called the La Idea Business Pitch Competition.

Also sponsoring is the U.S. Agency for International Development. The State Department said there were 883 entries from 16 countries. The 16 finalists gave their presentations in Miami, Florida.

The competition is directed at Latin America.

Natural Sin is expected to use the money to gain access for its products in major supermarkets in the United States.

The Pavas firm markets fruits and vegetables that have been dehydrated. The products include pineapple, mango, lemon, oranges, kiwi, coconut, apple pears, ayote, beets and carrots, said the U.S. Embassy here in a release.