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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Friday, Dec. 20, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 252                              Email us
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Child advocacy group to study private school bias
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A child advocacy organization plans to begin a campaign next year against discrimination children face when they are not accepted into elite private schools.

The organization is Defensa de Niñas y Niños Internacional Costa Rica, and the executive president, Virginia Murillo Herrera, outlined the project in a bulletin.

Every child, regardless of social or economic condition or deportment problems or learning or some type of disability should have a quality education, it added.

In an essay in the bulletin Ms. Murillo said that she
 and her organization have been observing year after year complaints about the arbitrary discrimination of private elementary and high schools that deprive students of the right of admission.

She said that the top schools were geared to select students and that students who were challenged and had to work many times as hard as their peers were not rewarded.  She attributed to some of the dropout problem to this factor.

She said that dropping out also was caused by a school requiring a student to repeat a year or because the student had to travel long distances to attend class.

She cited a U.N. convention that supported her call for equality in education.




Blue line shows
Pacific subduction zone where the Cocos plate is pushing under the Caribbean plate. Another zone is shown off South America.
subduciton zone
A.M. Costa Rica graphic
Area offshore has potential for big quake, study says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An Australian researcher has studied subduction zones where one tectonic plate presses against an adjacent one. He reported that certain characteristics show which areas can produce big earthquakes and which probably will not.

He is Wouter Schellart of the Monash University  School of Geosciences. The university said he has identified the zone along México and Central America as being primed for a massive quake.

The new research, published in the journal Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, comes nine years after the giant earthquake and tsunami in Sumatra in December 2004, which devastated the region and many other areas surrounding the Indian Ocean, and killed more than 200,000 people, the university noted.

Since then two other giant earthquakes have occurred at subduction zones, one in Chile in February 2010 and one in Japan in March 2011, which both caused massive destruction, killed many thousands of people and resulted in billions of dollars of damage, it said.

The news probably is no surprise to expats living here because the Pacific coast of the country is part of the so-called Ring of Fire that borders the Pacific. It is under the Pacific where the Cocos tectonic plate is struggling to work its way under the lighter Caribbean plate. Many of the country's
frequent earthquakes can be traced to this contact.

Schellart worked with Nick Rawlinson, a professor from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, to study the world's subduction zones.

The pair reported that they found 24 physical characteristics of 241 regions of contacts between tectonic plates. Then they studied earthquake activity since about 1900.

The pair developed a global map in which individual subduction zone segments have been ranked in terms of their predicted capability of generating a giant subduction zone earthquake using the six most indicative subduction zone parameters, they said in their paper. They said a giant quake would be of 8.5 magnitude or larger.

Such parameters include rate of deformation of the top tectonic plate, the velocity of the movement and the angle of the contact between the plates. All of these are possible to measure. They said they found similar characteristics in the three biggest recorded quakes,  Chile in 1960, Alaska in 1964 and Sumatra–Andaman in 2004.

In addition to Mexico and Central America, the subduction zones most likely to produce massive quakes are Sunda, North Sulawesi, Hikurangi, Nankai-northern Ryukyu, Kamchatka-Kuril-Japan, Aleutians-Alaska, Cascadia, South America, Lesser Antilles, western Hellenic and Makran, they said.


Flamingo residents brace for another New Year's bash
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Flamingo residents who oppose a six-day New Year's bash in the Pacific coast town had a victory this week.

Municipal officials in Santa Cruz said that an open container law would be enforced for the event, a resident reported.

That means there probably will be fewer participants in the music and drinking event.

The event begins with what is being called a warmup Dec. 27. The location is the eating and drinking spot  called Amberes. Most of the crowd remains in the streets or on the beach.
A principal objection of the residents is the influx of revelers who crowd the streets and generally make traffic impossible. There are a limited number of streets in Flamingo.

In previous years the crowd may have numbers as much as 8,000.

The celebration was more sedate last year with an open-container prohibition being in effect. That is why residents did not want the municipality to budge on this issue.

Another objection is the noise.

Amberes is promoting the event with a Facebook page.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday,  Dec. 20, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 252

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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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Combined sewage plant
proposed for Heredia, AyA


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's rate regulating agency says that two proposed nearby sewage plants should be combined.

The water section of the agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, directed its comments to the Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados and the Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia.

The institute, known as AyA is building a plant in La Carpo adjacent to the Heredia province border.

The Autoridad said that only about 4 percent of the nation's sewage is treated. Some is directed to septic tanks. But the majority of Central Valley sewage flows into streams that eventually end up in the Río Grande de Tárcoles and then the Gulf of Nicoya.

The Autoridad noted that the two utility firms have been in discussions about combining efforts, and it gave AyA 60 days to present a joint proposal.

The Heredia plant is much smaller than the AyA project, so the Autoridad said that it might better be considered an enlargement of the La Carpio plant.

The agency noted that there would be more efficiency and reduced costs if the two utilities work together.


Four held in crime spree
that resulted in a murder


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents in Cartago detained Thursday morning two couples who are accused of a series of December stickups. One resulted in a murder.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the crime spree appears to have begun Dec. 2 when a man stuck up a motorcycle and shoe store and took shoes and 110,000 colons, about $220.

The evening of Dec. 9, a man with the last name of Artavia was confronted by men trying to rob him. He resisted and suffered a bullet wound in the chest. Agents said the man, 53, died Thursday morning in Hospital Max Peralta in Cartago.

Dec. 12 robbers stuck up a security guard who was carrying a box containing 10 million colons, about $20,000, for deposit. Although they took the box, the crooks triggered an alarm when they tried to open it, so they ditched it still containing the money about two kilometers away from the heist.

 Dec. 15 robbers confronted a 63-year-old motorist in Guadalupe de Cartago and took 40,000 colons, about $80.

Agents said they confiscated a 9-mm. pistol when they made the arrests at an apartment in Cartago


Project will explore voting
via Internet in U.S. elections

Special to A.M. Costa Rica
   
The Overseas Vote Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to overseas, military, and domestic absentee voter participation has received a grant from the Democracy Fund in support of a research-based approach to the unanswered question of whether remote absentee voting can be conducted securely online.

The project is called End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting: Specification and Feasibility Assessment Study. It will examine a form of remote voting that enables a so-called end-to-end verifiability (E2E) property. A unique team of experts in computer science, usability, and auditing together with a selection of local election officials from key counties around the U.S. will assemble for this study.

Their efforts aim to produce a system specification and set of testing scenarios, which if they meet the requirements for security, auditability, and usability, will then be placed in the public domain. At the same time, they intend to demonstrate that confidence in a voting system is built on a willingness to verify its security through testing and transparency.

“The secure, tested, certified remote voting systems that election officials envision aren’t even for sale. Available online ballot return systems are not considered secure by the scientific community, nor are they certified. As a result, email has become the default stopgap method for moving ballots online. Email is especially weak on security, yet it is being used regularly by election officials because viable alternatives are not available,” says Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president and CEO of Overseas Vote Foundation, who spearheaded this project.

“The term E2E is often used casually without precision. E2E-verifiability is considered a property of an election and for the purposes of this study, an E2E-verifiable election has two important components: first, that voters can individually check that their ballots are cast as they intend; and second, that anyone can check that all of the cast ballots have been accurately tallied,”explained Josh Benaloh, senior cryptographer at Microsoft Research, a scientist who will take a major role in the study.

“There is a historical misunderstanding in the U.S. election community that this project aims to correct. Our country’s best scientists are not against technology advancements, nor are they inherently at odds with the election officials who seek technology improvements to meet their administrative challenges. What the U.S. scientific community takes issue with are the unproven claims of security regarding existing systems that are not publicly tested or vetted. This study aims to recalibrate this situation. This group of scientific leaders has often pointed out security vulnerabilities in past systems, however they do agree on one thing: that if IV does happen, it should be in a system that takes advantage of end-to-end verifiability and auditability,” said Ms. Dzieduszycka-Suinat.

“Our goal is to specify and define a system and its testing scenarios for an online voting method that can provide both security and confidence to voters that their selections are accurately recorded and counted. Our assertion is that E2E-verifiability negates many, although not all, of the risks of voting via the Internet while introducing substantial new benefits that are not found in currently-deployed voting systems,” said Benaloh.

The Overseas Vote Foundation helps U.S. overseas and military voters participate in federal elections by providing public access to innovative voter registration tools and services.

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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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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
 Hidden Garden
San José, Costa Rica, Friday,  Dec. 20, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 252
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Construction experts express doubts about Chinese loan deal
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Organizations of road builders and construction firms are expressing reservations about a loan deal with China to widen Ruta 32.

The so-called Grupo Consenso said that its members still were in the dark because they have not seen a revised text of the loan proposal that was presented Thursday to the Comisión de Asuntos Hacendarios in the legislative assembly.

The committee eventually will make a recommendation about the proposal which actually is for two loans.

The Grupo Consenso said there were important doubts about the deal.

Part of the plan is for Costa Rica to provide funds, including about $20 million for expropriating property and for relocating public utilities. That amount does not appear to be adequate, the group said.

The estimated $10 million is insufficient to expropriate a 10-meter strip for 50 kilometers simply to relocate the pipeline that is used by the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo S.A, the group said in a release. A similar amount is insufficient for relocating other services, such as water lines, telephone lines and fiber optic cables that connect Costa Rica with the Maya undersea Internet system.

The fuel pipeline runs from Siquirres to Moín.

The group also raised concerns about the loans being denominated in Chinese currency because that generates uncertainty in the medium and long term, it said.

The Grupo Consenso is composed of the Colegio Federado de
Ingenieros y de Arquitectos, the Unión Costarricense de
Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, the Cámara Costarricense de la Construcción, the Cámara de Consultores en Arquitectura e Ingeniería, the Asociación de Carreteras y Caminos de Costa Rica and the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

There usually is a lag at the legislature when a revised text is submitted. Because the legislature is going on holiday break, the full content of the new loan proposal might not be known until January 13 at the earliest.

The People's Republic of China has said that it seeks a quick approval of the loan agreement, but this week officials there said they would be willing to wait until March.

The agreement specifies a direct award to a Chinese firm without competitive bidding. The contract also said that all rights and obligations under the contract will be interpreted in conformity of Chinese law. The measure that was before lawmakers also says that material to be used in road building can be imported without the payment of customs duties. Costa Rica also would renounce any immunity it may have for being a sovereign state.

The $465.6 million project would make Ruta 32 four lane from Limón to Rio Frio, some 107.2  kilometers, a little more than 66 miles.

The Export–Import Bank of China would make two loans, one for $100 million and one for $296 million. Costa Rica is putting up $90 million, including the $20 million for expropriating property and relocating public services. 

The larger loan would be at 4 percent interests, and the smaller one at 2 percent.


None of the kids were naughty, and they all were very nice
 We are knee deep into the holiday season, the time for company and office parties and general wassailing.  I don’t remember too many office parties I have attended in the past (who does?), but I vividly recall the most recent gathering.  Among the attendees were nine grownups, six children and one large boxer about 9 years old.

Six children, you say? Yes, ranging in age from eight months to 12 years, and they were the best behaved children I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with at a party.  I fell in love with 8-month-old Pablo, a beautiful round-eyed, alert little boy who never once cried or was peevish.  Of course, he was being held by his young mother most of the time.  At times she held his hands as he stood on the floor where, although he couldn’t yet walk, could dance joyously.  Her two other children Dylan and Trinity, sat quietly or daintily helped themselves to the delicious snacks. 

Another child, 3-year-old Aaron, must be a dog whisperer because the boxer was a pussy cat the minute Aaron said something.  Actually, the boxer was as good as the children.  Most of the adults sat at the dining table chatting, but I liked my spot on the sofa watching the children and observing.  After two hours of politeness and eating the chili and chicken prepared by the hostess, the children were allowed out in the carport and that is when one could hear the screams and laughter and running that is customary.  I was impressed.

It is hard to remain a great fan of the Christmas season because it seems more about shopping and bargains than remembering.  Maybe if the phrase were “Joyful Christmas,” or “Happy Christmas,” instead of “Merry Christmas,” there would be less wassailing and more thought about the meaning of Christmas.

Or maybe if the idea of gift giving would be celebrated on Jan. 6 as it used to be (and maybe still is) in many countries, we would not have the real meaning of Christmas overshadowed by the concept of shop until you drop, or if you happen to be a clerk in one of the stores, work until you collapse.

Today Christmas is seen as a time of increased shopping and profit and loss.  But that is the way of the world, as the song in "Cabaret" goes, “Money makes the world go round.” 

Money not only talks, in some countries it votes, and, given
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart



the growing hackability of credit cards, and the increase in pollution, thanks to plastics, money is about the cleanest thing we have in this world.  At least it should be. So many people and institutions are laundering it.

But back to Christmas.  Of course, making The Three Kings Day the time of gift giving only prolongs the season, and probably the shopping.  We must not forget that there are the returned gift days.  There may be fewer people rushing to return gifts this year because re-gifting is now socially acceptable This means that you don’t have to return the gift you didn’t want or like, you simply give it to someone else next Christmas or whenever.  There are even national re-gifting days in some countries. Of course, they usually fall in December, which adds to the stress.  Once again, money comes to the rescue.  It is seldom regifted. 

And finally, there is the Christmas tree.  It is displayed more widely as a symbol of Christmas than the baby Jesus, or a manger.  How did that happen?  Christ was not born under a fir tree, nor were there any in the manger where he was born. 

Actually, it is a nice combination of paganism and Christianity.  Trees were worshipped by some pagan religions, and trees that remained green all year long were particularly highly regarded because they reminded people that there would be a spring when nature would produce sustenance again.  Pagans displayed wreaths and boughs of greenery in December during the Winter Solstice.  According to legend, myth, or history (take your pick), the Christmas tree originated in Germany in the 15th or 16th century.

I imagine Pablo would make an adorable Baby Jesus. Although he would not be lying in a manger, he would be happily dancing around a Christmas tree, holding tightly to his mother’s hands.

Del

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday,  Dec. 20, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 252
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Geneticists learn a secret about aging, and the condition might be reversible
By the Harvard University Medical School news staff

Researchers have discovered a cause of aging in mammals that may be reversible.

The essence of this finding is a series of molecular events that enable communication inside cells between the nucleus and mitochondria. As communication breaks down, aging accelerates. By administering a molecule naturally produced by the human body, scientists restored the communication network in older mice. Subsequent tissue samples showed key biological hallmarks that were comparable to those of much younger animals.

“The aging process we discovered is like a married couple — when they are young, they communicate well, but over time, living in close quarters for many years, communication breaks down,” said David Sinclair, senior author on the study. “And just like with a couple, restoring communication solved the problem.” He is a Harvard Medical School professor of genetics.

This study was a joint project between Harvard Medical School, the National Institute on Aging, and the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, where Sinclair also holds a position.

Mitochondria are often referred to as the cell's powerhouse, generating chemical energy to carry out essential biological functions. These self-contained subunits, which live inside cells and house their own small genomes, have long been identified as key biological players in aging. As they become increasingly dysfunctional overtime, many age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes gradually set in.

Researchers have generally been skeptical of the idea that aging can be reversed, due mainly to the prevailing theory that age-related ills are the result of mutations in mitochondrial DNA. Mutations cannot be reversed.

Sinclair and his group have been studying the fundamental science of aging — which is broadly defined as the gradual decline in function with time — for many years, primarily focusing on a group of genes called sirtuins. Previous studies from his lab showed that one of these genes, SIRT1, was 
activated by the compound resveratrol, which is found in grapes, red wine and certain nuts.

Ana Gomes, a postdoctoral scientist in the Sinclair lab, had been studying mice in which this SIRT1 gene had been removed. While they accurately predicted that these mice would show signs of aging, including mitochondrial dysfunction, the researchers were surprised to find that most mitochondrial proteins coming from the cell’s nucleus were at normal levels; only those encoded by the mitochondrial genome were reduced.

“This was at odds with what the literature suggested,” said Ms. Gomes.

As Gomes and her colleagues investigated potential causes for this, they discovered an intricate cascade of events that begins with a chemical called NAD and concludes with a key molecule that shuttles information and coordinates activities between the cell’s nuclear genome and the mitochondrial genome. Cells stay healthy as long as coordination between the genomes remains fluid. SIRT1’s role is intermediary, akin to a security guard. It assures that a meddlesome molecule called HIF-1 does not interfere with communication.

For reasons still unclear, as humans age, levels of the initial chemical NAD decline. Without sufficient NAD, SIRT1 loses its ability to keep tabs on HIF-1. Levels of HIF-1 escalate and begin wreaking havoc on the otherwise smooth cross-genome communication. Over time, the research team found, this loss of communication reduces the cell's ability to make energy, and signs of aging and disease become apparent.

“This particular component of the aging process had never before been described,” said Ms. Gomes.

While the breakdown of this process causes a rapid decline in mitochondrial function, other signs of aging take longer to occur. Ms. Gomes found that by administering a compound that cells transform into NAD, she could repair the broken network and rapidly restore communication and mitochondrial function. If the compound was given early enough — prior to excessive mutation accumulation — within days, some aspects of the aging process could be reversed.

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Costa Rica’s #1 Time –Tested Relocation/Retirement Tours
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Christ Howard with Max
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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
 *HIGHEST SUCCESS RATE
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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.
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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!
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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. george@glundquist.com
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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 rastern@racsa.co.cr.  Owner pays cable and internet.
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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
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8054-2/16/14






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San José, Costa Rica, Friday,  Dec. 20, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 252
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Cafetales



Ceiling of theater in London
collapses, injures 88 persons


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Authorities in London say at least 88 people have been injured, seven of them seriously, after part of the ceiling collapsed at a theater.

London police say there were 81 walking wounded and that seven were taken to the hospital following the incident at the Apollo Theater.  They say that so far, there are no fatalities.

The collapse occurred during a Thursday evening performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."

Rescue workers at the scene said all those trapped in the 775-seat auditorium by the collapse had been freed.

Witnesses said the ceiling simply collapsed during the performance, sending those inside the theater into a panic when they realized it was not part of the play.

Police said the cause of the collapse was not clear, but there was no indication that it was the result of any deliberate act or attack. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that he was "grateful for the fast work of the emergency services in helping the injured."


France expands monitoring
of phones and Internet hookups

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

France expanded the government's powers to monitor phone and Internet connection data without judicial review as a last-minute opposition attempt to block the move failed to gather support.
 
The French Official Journal Thursday published a military budget law that grants monitoring powers to more agencies such as tax and finance authorities, broadens the grounds for surveillance, and strips judges of the power to review monitoring requests.
 
The proposed law had come under fire from Google, Inc., and Microsoft Corp., telecom operators such as Orange and Internet advocacy groups, who argue that it is too broad and violates people's privacy.
 
Parliament members of the Green Party had tried to make an alliance with the left-wing Front de Gauche and a dissident group within the conservative UMP party to force a review by the top constitutional watchdog, but failed to get the backing of 60 senators or 60 deputies to initiate the procedure.

“Despite citizen's action and the engagement of 48 parliamentarians, the appeal to the Constitutional Council did not proceed because of political quarrels,” the Digital Renaissance group said in a statement.
 
Green party parliamentarians Barbara Pompili and Francois de Rugy blamed the failure on the refusal of UMP MPs to link up with green and far-left groups.
 
Center-right UMP parliamentary floor leader Christian Jacob wrote to his 190 colleagues last week that the group would not seek a legal review. The UMP is the largest opposition party to the majority socialists, whose leaders support the new surveillance policy.
 
According to Article 13 of the new law, French government agencies will be able to request connection data from telecom operators and Internet companies transmitted in real time, including location information from mobile phones.
 
The grounds on which the government may carry out such surveillance have been expanded to include not only national security and counter-terrorism, but also to protect “the scientific and economic potential of France” and “fight criminality.”
 
President Francois Hollande's government argued Article 13 was needed to clear up a legal gray area and that it actually grants stronger civil rights protections to individuals.
 
Critics, which include the MEDEF, France's biggest business lobby, worry the measures will undermine confidence in Internet services such as cloud computing and email.


Vatican hires consulting firms
to improve accounting practices


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Vatican has hired two big international consulting firms to improve financial accounting procedures and streamline media operations, its latest bid to clean up often murky finances and improve efficiency by cutting through red tape.
 
Pope Francis has already set up three commissions to advise him on what to do with the troubled Vatican bank, how to reform the administration and to address sexual abuse of children, a scandal that tainted his predecessor Benedict XVI's incumbency.
 
The Vatican said Thursday it had hired KPMG, which provides audit, tax and advisory services to companies, to align the accounting procedures of all departments of the Holy See to meet international standards.
 
Four major outside business consulting or auditing companies have now been hired by the Vatican, which in the past mostly policed itself, a practice which led to a series of scandals.
 
KPMG won the bid for the contract, awarded by an international commission of seven lay experts formed by the pope in July to help him overhaul the Holy See and move on from the damaging mistakes under Benedict.
 
Private documents leaked to Italian media last year by Benedict's butler alleged corruption in the Vatican, with contracts given at inflated prices to Italian companies with connections in the Vatican.
 
A separate, five-member commission is advising the pope on what to do with the Vatican bank, which has been embroiled in a  series of scandals in past decades. Francis has not ruled out closing the bank altogether if it cannot be reformed.

The Vatican also said international management consultancy company McKinsey had been hired to come up with a plan to make its communications more functional, efficient and modern.
 
The Vatican has six distinct communications departments, a press office, television, radio, newspaper, an Internet office and a communications council, which exercises an academic and policy-making role.
 
They have been known to not communicate or cooperate with each other and sometimes have appeared to be in competition. In the past, one department has published important information without telling the others.
 
The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, is 150 years old, and its editor is trying to modernize it to help shed its drab and staid image.
 
Vatican Radio, which broadcasts in 40 languages, takes up a big chunk of the Vatican's budget, and some officials have questioned whether such a big structure is necessary in the Internet age.
 
Some of the languages the radio uses are holdovers from the period when it, like Radio Free Europe, was one of the few sources of independent information in the Communist East  Bloc.
 

Temporary stores pop up
to lure shoppers in big cities


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

High tech companies are reaching out to consumers with temporary outlets called holiday pop up stores.  Intel, Google and Wired Magazine are showcasing technology and giving buyers ideas for holiday gifts.      

At Google's Winter Wonderlab in a suburban Los Angeles mall, visitors check the latest high tech gadgets, including Nexus tablets and Chromebook laptops, which they can buy online or in a retail store
 
They toss make-believe snowballs, recorded at high speed and played back in slow motion.

It's an effort in a few cities to promote the Google brand and get people excited about the newest tech devices.

At the Intel Experience Store in a beachside community outside Los Angeles, consumers can watch a football game on a big-screen television, play the latest computer games or check out laptops powered by Intel. 

One of the first to visit was Reba Meshulam.

“I've never been to a pop up store before.  It was really interesting to see it sort of come up out of nowhere," said Meshulam.

Intel's Sean Ludick says this consumer outreach, with temporary stores in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, is an experiment and consumers can buy the products they want at a retail kiosk.

“The primary reason for the opening is to really showcase our technology.  You know, this is a buying season for people.  They want to buy gifts.  So we want people to come into our store, have an untethered experience, an unpressured environment where they can really come and interact with our products and services," said Ludick.

Electronic devices and toys, small and large, fill the Wired Store in New York, a holiday pop up from the people at Wired Magazine that's more a showroom than a store. 

Visitors can be bathed in blue light in the so-called photon shower. 

Store manager Noah Norman says music speakers integrated in shower heads and personal fitness items are drawing attention.   He says many of these devices have a short shelf life.

“The fact that, five years from now, they will seem old is part of the beauty of a lot of these products," said Norman.


U.S. textile firms rebound
with technology and focus


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

After decades of decline, the U.S. textile and apparel industry is growing again, and many factories are competing with low-wage operations in countries like China. In North Carolina, where the textile industry was once dominant, the industry has reinvented itself using technology but also employing far fewer people than in the past.

Robots do most of the heavy lifting at the National Spinning Co. plant in Burlington, North Carolina. This factory dyes over 110,000 kilograms (250,000 pounds) of yarn per week in a variety of colors. The yarn is sent to clothing and upholstery makers both in the U.S. and around the world.  Michael Hankensen is one of only two technicians who service the dye producing machines.

 “As you see, most of this is extremely heavy, cumbersome, and trying to move it around in the order that these robots do it, it would take an army of men to accomplish what these robots do," said Hankensen.

Technology is helping bridge the wage gap between labor-intensive factories overseas that pay workers only a few dollars a day and this North Carolina plant where about 100 employees make between $10 and $20 an hour.

Plant manager Ed Atkins says it's important to limit labor costs but the company must also provide higher quality and better customer service to compete in the global market place. 

 “We’ve diversified ourselves, looked for markets that depended on the quick response that you can provide from American-made products, little niche markets. I mean we don’t try to compete in the generic cotton business or anything like that, because it’s not where our strengths are," said Atkins.

The collapse earlier this year of a garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 workers illustrated the tragic consequences of relying on partners that bring down costs by sacrificing health and safety.  

Deborah Wince-Smith, president of the non-profit Council on Competitiveness, says the future of the textile industry lies in innovation, not low wages.

“Companies and enterprises are really bringing their core activities to where they have a skilled workforce, where they have innovation talent and where they’re actually able to develop the next generation of innovation that drives manufacturing," said Ms. Wince-Smith.

Some 23 U.S. plants have been built in the last three years, and exports are up over 30 percent.


Cuba moves to eliminate
permit to import a car


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuba has announced it will open its automobile market by eliminating a government permit that has restricted car imports for more than a half century.
 
The Cuban government still controls the sale of imported new and used vehicles, but Thursday's announcement gives Cubans the right to buy them from the state without a government permit.
 
In the past, Cubans had to get authorization from the Transport Ministry to purchase a new car.  The authorization cards took months to obtain, opening up the process to corruption and a black market in which cardholders would sometimes sell them for more than the cost of a car.
 
The government has acknowledged the permits had generated resentment and dissatisfaction among citizens.

The permit elimination is one of hundreds of reforms put forth by President Raúl Castro and approved by the Communist Party in 2011.
 
The government says new regulations will be published soon and will become law 30 days after they are published.  The specifics of the new regulations remain unknown.


Target admits hacker stole
data on 49 million customers


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Target Corp. has acknowledged that hackers have stolen data from up to 40 million credit and debit cards of shoppers who visited its stores during the first three weeks of the holiday season.

America's second-largest retailer said Thursday that customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and last Sunday may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data included customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on the back of the card.

The company said the data breach did not affect online purchases. Target has almost 1,800 stores in the U.S. and 124 in Canada.

Investigators are still trying to understand how the attack was carried out.

Target's data security nightmare threatens to drive off holiday shoppers during the company's busiest time of the year. The company's representatives would not comment on whether business had been affected.


High blood pressure guidelines
for older patients increased


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

For the first time in decades, experts have raised the threshold for what is considered dangerously high blood pressure for people aged 60 and over. As a result, patients may be prescribed fewer drugs to treat hypertension.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the most common condition seen in primary care and leads to heart attacks, kidney failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately.

A government-appointed panel that made the recommendations stressed that they are not changing the definition of high blood pressure, which currently is 140 over 90 but that for adults aged 60 and older, they are recommending a higher treatment threshold, prescribing medicine only when blood pressure levels reach 150 over 90 or higher.

In older people too much high blood pressure medication can cause fainting and falls, the panel said. Furthermore, medication to treat high blood pressure could react negatively with other medications.

For younger patients, treatment recommendations remain unchanged.

"This report takes a rigorous, evidence-based approach to recommend treatment thresholds, goals, and medications in the management of hypertension in adults,” the study says.

According to Paul James, professor and head of family medicine at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and co-chairman of the panel making the recommendations, past guidelines from the last several decades “have been based on consensus by experts.”

“These were based on scientific evidence from randomized controlled trials,” he said. “Expert opinion was used only in the absence of scientific evidence.”

The panel reviewed numerous past studies from Jan. 1, 1966 to Dec. 31, 2009, as well as major, eligible studies that took place between December 2009 and August 2013.

The review focused on adults age 18 and older with hypertension and included studies involving diabetes, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, heart failure, previous stroke, chronic kidney disease, proteinuria, older adults, men and women, racial and ethnic groups, and smokers.

Panelists also looked at methods of controlling high blood pressure, including what medication should be started in patients with hypertension; what blood pressure goal should patients achieve to know they are enjoying proven health benefits from their medication and what are the best medication choices to reach the goal blood pressure.

The recommendations are not without controversy.

The American Heart Association is raising concerns about the new recommendations, saying that many of the studies reviewed didn't last long enough to reveal dangers of undertreated high blood pressure in older patients.

The guidelines were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


Archeologists think Chinese
domesticated wild cats first


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Researchers in China and Missouri have traced the origins of today’s domesticated cat back 5,300 years to an ancient Neolithic Chinese agricultural village located in the modern-day Shaanxi Province.

Like in the old Mother Goose nursery tale “This is the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built,” the cats that would later become popular household pets were attracted to village farms because of the number of small animals, like rodents, that feasted on the grains grown, stored and eaten by the ancient Chinese farmers.

“Results of this study show that the village of Quanhucun was a source of food for the cats 5,300 years ago, and the relationship between humans and cats was commensal, or advantageous for the cats,” said the study’s co-author Fiona Marshall, a professor of archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis. “Even if these cats were not yet domesticated, our evidence confirms that they lived in close proximity to farmers, and that the relationship had mutual benefits.”

There are believed to be about 600 million domesticated cats in the world. Scientists who’ve conducted DNA studies believe most felines descended directly from the Near Eastern Wildcat, one of the five Felis sylvestris lybica or African wildcat subspecies still found in Africa, Asia and Europe.

“We do not yet know whether these cats came to China from the Near East, whether they interbred with Chinese wildcat species, or even whether cats from China played a previously unsuspected role in domestication,” Marshall said.

Scientists have long thought cats were first domesticated in ancient Egypt, where they were revered more than 4,000 years ago.

New research, however, indicates the close relationship between cats and humans may have taken root much earlier.

In 2004, scientists discovered a wild cat had been buried with a human nearly 9,500 years ago in Cyprus.

The researchers who conducted this new study, which is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used various scientific techniques, such as radiocarbon dating and isotopic analyses of carbon and nitrogen traces on the bones of cats, dogs, deer and other forms of wildlife that they dug up near Quanhucan Village.

The clues researchers gathered suggest cats and humans were developing a closer relationship with each other at that time thousands of years ago.

One of the cats found during their archeological dig was old when it died, which indicated that it lived well and flourished while living in the village.

The researchers also said that the remains of the ancient cats they studied showed signs that they didn’t eat too many animals and ate more millet than was expected. This suggested to the researchers that the cats either scavenged for human food or were fed by their human neighbors.

Other researchers working in China and in France are currently continuing the investigation of the domestication of cats and the development of the feline/human relationship.
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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


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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
 
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Costa Rica,

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





Visit our Web Site:
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English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
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  Send us your request to our email: info@greciarealestate.com
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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: mwk350@yahoo.com
8186-3/13/14

forest
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   axelspecial@gmail.com.
8182-1/13/14


Gulf road

Beachfront pristine five-hectare (13-acre) property

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

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

long view

200 miles of panoramic views over the Gulf of Nicoya and from Nicaragua along the volcanoes of the Cordillera de Guanacaste down to Jacó and around the southern Nicoya Peninsula to the open Pacific. 55 acres located at an altitude of about 2,800 feet in a fresh eternal spring climate, forest and pasture plus an old avocado forest. Many home sites, hidden entrance, property roads, spring waters.  195,000 USD   axelspecial@gmail.com
8164-12/28/13

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

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

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

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

Becker montage
Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

House and guest house on adjacent half acre lots. Each with separate electric,  private septic and well. Each can be sold stand alone or packaged. Modern kitchen, granite counters, Viking stove, large separate frig and freezer. Private commercial grade septic and well. No water shortages even in dry season. High speed internet and U.S. standard electric. Center of the beach -- NEVER floods. Estuary at each end of the beach with excellent kayaking and bird watching through the mangroves. Excellent fishing right off the shore. Great surfing, horseback riding, bicycling or Turtle watching. Groceries three miles away. Mentioned in "The Lonely Planet" Page 301. "Two of the most beautiful and least visited beaches in Costa Rica. Wilderness beaches of fine silver-grey sand." Despite opportunities for great surfing, kayaking and just about anything else you want to do on a sandy strip of paradise, the beaches are nearly always abandoned. $500K Will finance.  More pictures available at: http://www.rebecker.com/journal102006a.htm.  Contact information: ginbecker@gmail.com,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.

condors

HIGH SECURITY Condo
ULatina, UCR, & U Fidelitas San Pedro, San Jose. $185,000.
Quietly located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada, 500 meters north of Iglesia Lourdes, San Pedro. ULatina, UCR, U. Fidelitas, bus & new train station are within five minutes Four-bedroom, three and half-bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with secure entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. Security fencing with electric wire, and a CCTV recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house.  For additional peace of mind, this residence equipped with an independently wired security system, iron bars on windows and patio doors, a telephone communication system to contact the guard house and secure parking at your front door.   Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. A green park area inside the complex for your children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Cable TV/Internet lines and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Water storage tank with pump maintains high pressure to bathrooms on all three floors. American style washer and electric dryer, refrigerator, glass top stove, and kitchen cabinets included. Other furniture items may be available. Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 6011-6987   or  U.S. Phone:  (630) 886-4458  or   (305) 848-5577. C.R. Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799-4041  or  (506) 8363-9898.  Email: sjogringo@yahoo.com
6141-2/11/14

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean. This design allows for barrier free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room it’s spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors. $365,000.   Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage. 3 nedrooms, 2 baths, full dining room, separate office. Custom wrought iron gates, custom exotic wood cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances, Granite countertops.    Slide show at  www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24055899   
For more information contact:  deeday214@gmail.com
8135-2/5/14

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West, maryandjerre@aol.com, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603
8123-4/22/2104

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

humming bird nest

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

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

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

Business for sale or lease (paid category)
71
Jaco station
Gas Station/Auto Plaza
Located on the Pan American Highway, Jacó Beach, Costa Rica, Central America. This property is  45,000  square feet or  18,000  meters.  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:  http://youtu.be/iDXurhJ4fCk Asking price  $3.9 million. Email costaricapropertysales@gmail.com or call: 8899-9870.
8153-112/22/13

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West, maryandjerre@aol.com, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603
8123-4/22/2
11

DIGITS RESOURCE GUIDE is for sale!
In the nine years of operation, DIGITS Resource Guide has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, and Osa Peninsula areas.  DIGITS is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive groundwork that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into an even greater level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner is retiring to another Latin American country. For a preview of the magazine, go to www.everydigit.com, or simply go to a local Distributor for a copy. Details on the business, its history, a strategic analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as a Pro-Forma Income Statement from 2008 through to 2013 are available upon request to aha_jm@yahoo.
8115-11/18/13

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

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page


San José, Costa Rica, Friday,  Dec. 20, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 252
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Venezuela acts against paper
because of  crime photo

Special to A.M. Costa Rica staff

Censorship is being imposed on the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal aimed at banning information about violence and lack of safety in the South American country. The Inter American Press Association has protested that and also protested penalties applied to online distributors and the announcement of additional laws aimed at restricting news content.

The Venezuelan attorney general’s office has called on the courts to act against El Universal for “violating the rights of children and adolescents” after it published a photo on its front page Nov.  20 in which there was depicted a motionless arm and a blood stain on the floor, an image with which the newspaper alluded to the kidnapping and subsequent killing by criminals of a young engineer. The photo was posted on the Internet by other media with details.

The request to the courts seeks to prohibit “the publication of images, information and advertising of any kind with content of blood, weapons, messages of terror, physical aggression … that can affect the psychological well being of children.” It also asked for the application of a million-dollar fine on El Universal amounting to 1 or 2 per cent of its gross sales in 2012.

“We are concerned and alarmed at the legalization of censorship which is disguised with laws, decrees and legal actions, attempting to give the appearance that press freedom exists in the country,” said Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the press organization's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, said he had little doubt about the outcome of the El Universal case, considering the fine and censorship that had been applied to the Caracas newspapers El Nacional and Tal Cual over a photo published in 2010 in which dead bodies were seen piled up in a Caracas morgue.

He added that the government was not only seeking to maintain silence on the lack of safety but also the economic crisis the country is facing. He was referring to fines imposed Nov. 9 by the National Telecommunications Commission on nine online companies – CANTV, Movilnet, Movistar, Digitel, Inter, Supercable, NetUno, Ominivisón and Level 13 – for having posted Web sites “concerning foreign exchange rate quotations with amounts different to those officially established,” in violation of the Law on Social Responsibility on Radio, Television and Electronic Media, which prohibits “the dissemination of messages that encourage anxiety” and among other reasons that disrupt public order.

Paolillo also indicated that the press organization will remain alert following the recent announcement from various government sources on the plan for enactment in early 2014 of a Communication and Journalism Law to regulate news content even further.

On Oct. 7 President Nicolás Maduro created by decree the Strategic Center for the Security and Protection of the Fatherland with the objective of requesting, organizing, integrating and evaluating “information of interest for the nation’s strategic level, associated with the internal and external enemy activity, coming from all the security and intelligence bodies of the government and other public and private entities.”



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From Page 7:

Banco Nacional says update can be done online


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today is supposed to be the last weekday to update bank accounts.

Banco Nacional said that its customers can do so via the Web page as well as visiting a bank branch.

However, Banco Nacional said that it did not contemplate massive closings of accounts. The bank only was making efforts to get the greatest amount of information from its clients, it said.

Closing an account, the bank said, would depend on the amount and nature of the transactions. A large number of unjustified transactions might lead to the end of the banking relationship, it said.

The nation's banking association issued a belated press release this week about the deadline. The project is based on the know-your-customer rule to reduce money laundering.

The bank also pointed out that it does not seek info such as credit card numbers and other data through the Internet or by telephone calls. The bank appears to anticipate that crooks will take advantage of the updating process to contact customers.