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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 254                                  Email us
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;ale Arenal

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A.M. Costa Rica employees, associates and family members wish you a great holiday.

Regardless of religious tendencies, Christmas in Costa Rica is a time of peace and joy. For Christians, it is time to commemorate the arrival of the Savior.

For our Jewish friends, the holiday is Chanukkah, which ended Tuesday.  This is a joyful time, too, marking the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. The eight-day 
 

holiday is frequently called the Festival of Lights. For those of other religions and those without, Christmas here is a time to share a cultural event that filters through the entire population.

So no matter what your faith or lack thereof, the A.M. Costa Rica family wishes you a joy and peace with family and friends.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
 
Second news page


San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 254

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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore. —

We know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
Costa Rica's evolving immigration law.

Pensionado and rentista. Your first stop for smooth, professional service and a positive experience. Javier Zavaleta javier@residencyincostarica.com
www.residencyincostarica.com
Tel: (323) 255-6116
8512-3/15/15

 Accountants

U.S. Tax International
Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal
 services. Over 15 years in Costa Rica

U.S. Tax rollover
(English spoken). Tamarindo office hours now available.  If you or anyone you know would like an appointment in Tamarindo, please call our San José office at 2288-2201 to make an appointment.
Contact Us:
 U.S 786-206-9473         CR 506-2288-2001
FAX: 506 2231-3300
E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com
Web page: www.ustaxinternational.com
8476-3/11/15

James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting

Uncle
Sam's
• US Tax return preparation  for
individuals and businesses
• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
Income Tax Exclusion (up to $
99,200 in 2014}
• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting

Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@yahoo.com
8719-4/3/15


Psychotherapy
Lucinda Gray, Ph.D.
California Licensed Psychologist
International Practice via the Web
gray book
 
 
   'New World Meditation'
Training & Support
 Buy Now
via Amazon


www.DrLucindaGray.com
Costa Rica: (506) 2228-2041
8430-1/20/15

Legal services

Real Estate Closing Services
Lic Matta

Lic. Pablo Mata Ferreto, MBA.

Legal – Financial Adviser

Real Estate and Business Transactions

Avoid Real Estate scams, get independent advice and have due diligence performed before signing or making a deposit.

Phone number: (506) 8853-0000
Email: jpmata2000@gmail.com
8477-12/5/14


Dentistry

Marco Cavallini & Associates
Dental Implants and Crowns

Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and
DR. Cavallini
Dr. Marco A. MuÏoz Cavallini
restored over 17,000 dental implants since 1980. The Dr. Marco Muñoz Cavallini Dental Clinic, is recognized as one of the best practices in Dental Reconstruction, Dental Implant placement and Cosmetic Dentistry in Costa Rica and the World. For more information, visit us today at: marcomunozcavallini.com
8365-5/12/15


Remodelling and Construction


Real estate agents and services

CR Beach
Jaco Beach Central Pacific Real Estate
HEY FOODIES-SURFERS-BEACH LOVERS!
CR Beach Investment Real Estate Broker & INT’L
NAR certified Realtor Jeff Fisher is famous for being “Brutally Honest.”
See why he still believes only the 100% titled land of the Jaco beach & Central Pacific areas of Playa Hermosa/ Jaco-Los Suenos Marina & Golf and the Esterillos-Bejuco beaches are the best places to live, invest and enjoy. 
Fisher
Reason #1:  SJO Int’l Airport and S.J. suburbs are little more than one hour away.
#2: The Jacó area has everything you need, from KFC to Gourmet Organic;  from zip lines to bank lines, from a movie house to a fire sale house…. 
#3: BUYERS’ MARKET: Many properties are at their lowest price ever
           *$179,900 Hermosa Beachfront Community with Ocean Views !
   JACO BEACH and area FIRESALES!
Yes we know Costa Rica: Jeff (21 years here), Frances Winborne (23 years), and Junior Diaz (Jacó born & bred),  and we chose the Central Pacific!
SIGN UP FOR OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER:
info@crbeach.com

Member of the N.A.R., the Costa Rican Real Estate Board CRGAR and the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
www.CRbeach.com    info@crbeach.com
Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119 or  2643-4334, 2643-3672
JACO Office: IL Galeone Center by BAC, #14, Costa Rica
8506-4/3/15

exo graphic
with text
   • Specialized in the Central and South Pacific.
   • Great network of realtors, to find your dream
          property
   • Homes, condominium & luxury homes
   • Eco lodges and Hotels
   • Green properties and waterfalls
   • Farms and developments
   • Sustainable and green living communities.
   • Property management in the Jac¢ area

www.ecorealtorscr.com    info@ecorealtorscr.com
Telephone: +506 2643-4065   
cell: +506 8825-6556   US:  626 548-3909
skype: ecorealtorscr  Facebook: ecorealtorscr
In front of Subway at Plaza Herradura, Jacó
Green NAR designee, member of the CCBR, CRGAR
8517-4/13/15

Jim Day, representing Colinas del Sol
del Pacifico, S.A.

Colinas

* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
* Mountain areas with great views.
* Gently sloping level areas ideal for hobby farms, gardening, fruit tree orchards.
* Quiet place to get away from the busy city and beach crowds.
* All lots have gravel roads to them, water and electricity at each.
* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $39,000 USD , and many can be combined for those wanting a larger area for their chosen passion, be it a hobby horse farm or retirement haven.
* Located in Libertad, Guanacaste, Northwest Pacific area of Costa Rica.
* Electricity and water to each of 79 clear-titled lots.
* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
* 15 minutes to the Pacific Beaches
* 10 minutes to Medical Facilities
* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
* 5 minutes to Papagayo  Golf & Country Club
Contact Jim Day
Email:  JimDay50@aol.com 
or Phone:  001 517 484-3675.
Click Here: www.colinasdelsolcr.com
8467-2/26/14


Body identified as missing teen

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wendy Ojeda Pastrana went missing Dec. 14. A week later, investigators located a plastic bag containing a body.

Based on marks and scars on the body, family members were able to determine that this was the lost 14 year old.

Now investigators are saying that the girl died at the hands of a man she met on the Internet. A 19-year-old suspect has been detained, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The body was in a room in a home in Canoas de Alajuela. There must have been a struggle. Using the chemical luminol investigators were able to find traces of blood in the building in which she was found. The medical examiner said she was strangled.

More than a million reported with virus

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A debilitating mosquito-borne virus, called chikungunya, has stricken more than 1 million people in the Western Hemisphere since spreading there a year ago.

The Pan-American Health Organization reports 155 deaths as of Dec. 12, almost all in the Caribbean island nations of Guadeloupe and Martinique. There have been 1,900 cases reported in travelers returning to the United States.

Chikungunya is marked by severe joint pain, inflammation, headaches, rashes and fever. If the infection is severe enough, it can lead to death. Symptoms can persist for months in those who survive, causing debilitating arthritis.

The virus, which has symptoms similar to dengue fever, has long been a scourge in Asia and Africa. In fact the name, chikungunya, comes from the African Makonde dialect, meaning “bending over in pain.” 

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for the disease.

Chikungunya is carried by two mosquito species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, that also transmit the dengue virus. Chikungunya, which is carried in the blood, is picked up by mosquitoes after they bite an infected person and spread when the insects then bite uninfected individuals.

Public health officials worry that the virus could persist in the Americas for months, as climate conditions in the tropical countries are ripe for the insect carriers to flourish.

They warn that chikungunya cases could escalate in a number of South American countries, including Brazil, Peru and Paraguay, with the approach of the summer months.

No newspaper Christmas, New Year's

A.M. Costa Rica will publish normally except for Christmas and New Year's Day. The Barrio Otoya sales office closed Tuesday until Jan. 5, but advertising executives are on call the entire holiday period. The main office number will be monitored, as will email messages to editor@amcostarica.com

The newspaper continues its tradition of providing news over the holiday periods. Christmas, New Year's and Good Friday are the only three weekdays the newspaper is not published. But even then in the event of a major news development, the newspaper will be updated and readers will be notified via the daily digest mailing list. Those not on the list can sign up HERE!



Our reader's opinion
Personal report on Montezuma rip tides

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your article about rip tides and rip currents is an important one. As you state, there are no warning signs at all in most locations.

I was about waist high in the water near Montezuma, Nicoya. A man was at mid-chest about 15 feet away. Suddenly, we were both yanked off our feet and dragged along the very rocky bottom. Luckily, the tide released us relatively quickly. I only suffered scrapes and bruises, but the man hit his head, hard. He was still able to surface, but for a minute or so, things were very scary for both of us.

This is something that Costa Rica definitely needs to address. I'm always amazed that there aren't even more drownings each year, given the volatility of deceptively calm waters and the complete lack of signage (and usually, lifeguards).
Heidi Allen
San Antonio, Texas

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
U.S. Tax new ad
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 254         
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students
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Students check out the new school supplies in their well-ventilated classroom
For the remote native communities, Santa comes by helicopter
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Up in the high Talamancas and at reserves in the province of Cartago, residents frequently look down to see clouds.

This is a remote land where the best access is by helicopter. The native residents maintain their own cultures and interact with modern life mostly in emergencies.

The communities have names like Alto Telire, El Chirripo and Grano de Oro that were mostly the product of Tico officialdom.

Among the young, the feelings are mixed. Many want to leave the native reserve and become part of the larger population. To do that, they need training and help. So the security ministry's Dirección del Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea once again combined Christmas with the delivery of school necessities.

Among the educational centers that received the deliveries is the Escuela Tsiöbata, a school with a single teacher in a small community in Siquirres, Limón.

The project is called  Alas para crecer, meaning "wings to grow." Students get food, clothing, gifts, much needed boots and school supplies. Chirripo and Grano de Oro are in Turrialba de Cartago.  Alto Telire is in the Talamancas. This is the third year of the project.

Santa
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Timid youngster gets a mystery gift from Santa.


Helping Puerto Viejo children can have some additional benefits
By Kimberly Beck
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A Swiss expat is making Christmas merry for the impoverished children of Puerto Viejo de Limón while helping to get the company's sustainable certification.

Soccer balls aren’t the easiest thing to wrap as gifts the 15 employees of Gecko Trail Adventures, the travel agency based out of Puerto Viejo in Limón, found out last week.

Gecko Trail donated $100 for food and games and planned and held a Christmas party for 15 of Puerto Viejo’s most impoverished children, aged 5 to12. The company employees each drew the name of a child to invite to the party and to give a gift for the Christmas holiday. The names came from the local primary school roster,

This type of event also helps Gecko Trail fulfill some requirements to get a certification for sustainable tourism via the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. The institute helps to promote companies that achieve this certification. Tourism operators get badges for their Web sites, links from the official institute Web site and reduced registration fees to participate in international fairs.
 
"This type of community involvement helps both our business and the children of the area," said Nina Neidhart, Gecko’s general manager. The Gecko Trail employees put the entire event together which gives them experience in

musical chairs
10degreesabove.com photo
Gecko Trail employee Katrina Taylor. supervises a game of musical chairs.

organizing events within their own community and the children get too see that going to work can be fun too.” 

“Our employees agreed that the gifts for the children would not be guns or be battery powered. Batteries may not be disposed of properly after use,” Ms. Neidhart also added


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, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 254
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Bike race start
ties up traffic


The Vuelta a Costa Rica came to the downtown Tuesday, and the traffic tieup was spectacular.  This is the bike race in nine stages.

Tuesday was number eight, and the athletes had to travel from San José to  San Isidro del General, some 126.8 kilometers. As the racers started, Avenidas 7 and 8 as well as adjacent calles were closed to traffic for two hours. Motorists were directed to Calle Blancos.

The first stage was Dec. 14. There are eight national teams and six international ones. The final race is Christmas Day.
tie up
A.M. Costa Rica/Gabriela Vega Barrantes

Vacation, travel and hospitality


PRIMO'S SUEŇO CABINAS
La Fortuna
Comfort of your home in the campo, 5 minutes from Fortuna Centro of San Carlos, in the shadow of Volcano Arenal, Flat screen TV, AC, refrigerator, free coffee. Local area activities like four-wheeling, horse riding, zip lining, hot springs, jungle walking tours. Bring your camera for great photos of nature, fishing and swimming, canyoning and wireless internet. Harry Hart, proprietor.  Call for reservations  (506) 2479-8670   and (506) 8682-9219  Email: lagringo2003@yahoo.com
8492-4/1/15

Howard
rollover
Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
   * Find out how to live affordably
   * See how other expats live. Meet other expats who have made
          the move.
   * Access the country's affordable health care system
   * Informative two-day seminar given by local experts in their
          relevant fields.
   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-year resident, citizen,
          and the author of "The New Golden Door to Retirement
          and  Living in Costa Rica – the Official Guide to Relocation”
 
Click HERE  to learn all about our Association of Residents (ARCR)  approved tours at www.liveincostarica.com
8479-9/11/14

Anywhere
Anywhere Costa Rica plans custom vacations, and has the most comprehensive travel services in the country including travel guides, resorts and vacation homesCosta Rica tours
and car rentals.  
Call 1-888.456.3212 or 2479-8811 locally.
8278-3/14/14


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

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:
HiddenGarden@TheVanStoneGroup.com.   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.
Every Saturday - Vendor Fair!
8567-3/15/15

diligence
Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
 *HIGHEST SUCCESS RATE
OF RELOCATION*

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

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!
http://www.vimeo.com/5656822

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. lundquistgeorge@gmail.com

8390-10/2/14

Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom



Need a book about Costa Rica?


Check out our special selections available at Amazon logo

HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Business
wanted
Real estate wanted

Real estate rental services (paid category)

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

Real estate for rent (paid category)
Maneul Antonio
The vacation homes at Manuel Antonio Estates offers luxury, comfort and peace of mind. We have numerous homes to chose from, all within walking distance of the town’s shops and restaurants and just a few minutes to the best beaches and the famous national park. While the homes are secluded and hidden among the rainforest, the surrounding area offers adventures like zip lines, white water rafting, mangrove kayaking and many more. All of the homes are available for short-term rentals, have easily accessible parking, cable TV, and Internet and are fully furnished. We are happy to assist with all your need for the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Manuel Antonio Estates        TOLL FREE: 1800 346 9724
011 (506) 2777.3339        www.manuelantonioestates.com

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:  rentnowcr@gmail.com.
8559-1/4/15


Organic farm home
$800 plus utilities.
Two-bedroom, two-bath house, fully furnished, Internet included, cable TV available. Inside organic farm, safe and secure. In the country but close to town. Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Email for more info and pictures. Long term, NO DOGS. laurelfanderson@gmail.com
8484-10/16/14

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.
tropical
We are offering homes for every budget and every need.
Please visit our Web page at www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com
or call at (506) 2654-5442.
8441-2/17/15

ALAJUELA – SERENE LIVING
MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.
8423-9/15/14

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.
Contact:  HPCattleCR@aol.com
8425-8/17/14




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A.M. Costa Rica's   Fifth news page
Family home

cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 254       
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Cafetales

Sony decides to release
its controversial film


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S.-based Sony Pictures has reversed its position on a controversial movie that inspired a cyberattack the United States said was carried out by North Korea.

Sony said "The Interview," a movie parody about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, would open in dozens of theaters Christmas Day. Theaters in at least two dozen states now say they will show the movie.

Sony announced last week that it would not show the movie in theaters after its computers were hacked by unknown attackers who threatened more damage if the film was released as scheduled.

Hollywood celebrities spoke out on sites like Twitter against Sony’s initial decision. Even President Barack Obama joined the criticism of Sony, though he saved his harshest words for North Korea.

“Somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie," the president said. "Imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like.”

The White House said Tuesday that Obama applauded Sony’s decision to authorize screenings of the film.

Sony Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton said Tuesday that the company was proud "to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech" and hopes "this is only the first step of the film's release." 

Political scientist Stanley Rosen of the University of Southern California, who studies Asian cinema, saw "The Interview" at a Hollywood preview.

“It’s funny at a certain level," he said. "At the same time, you can see why it would be so offensive to North Koreans — and not just North Koreans, but perhaps Asians in general.”

Rosen said the film is a parody of a humorless government and an insecure leader who is worried about regime change, and the North Koreans "are convinced that that’s the major goal of the United States. This is why they want some treaty where the United States will acknowledge that they accept the leadership in North Korea. So we know that much about North Korea, and this film is all about that."

Regardless of who was behind the Sony breach, corporations are increasingly the target of sophisticated hackers, said Fengmin Gong of the high-tech security company Cyphort.

“It’s no longer the hackers for the fame," he said, "but it’s people strictly for financial gain and for stealing corporate and state secrets. So what that means is, they have a lot of resources. They are going to take their time.”


Critics say 'The Interview'
is sophomoric and vulgar


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

“The Interview” is the latest of Hollywood’s parodies on foreign leaders.

Charlie Chaplin’s more elegant 1940 satire “The Great Dictator” parodies Adolf Hitler without using his name or the name of his country.

In 2004, Paramount Pictures released the satire “Team America” making fun of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, also without using his name.

In 2012, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, known for his artistic brazenness, portrayed a vulgar Middle Eastern dictator, a composite of corrupt leaders from the region, in “The Dictator.”

But Sony’s “The Interview” in which a celebrity reporter and his producer are recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is the first American flick in which a real-life sitting dictator is ridiculed.

North Korea called the movie an act of war, and hackers hit Sony with a massive cyberattack blamed on North Korea posting embarrassing emails and other private data. There were threats against theaters showing the film.

Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said the film touched a nerve in Pyongyong.

In a sense, Cha said, movies are almost more invasive than Western economic sanctions, military exercises, because they can always rally the people around Western hostility. But Western ridicule is harder for them to rally their people around because it raises questions about the leadership.”

The cyberattack against Sony has rattled Hollywood economically and culturally and contributed to some reactive self-censorship. Sony pulled the comedy from its national and international release on Christmas Day. Paramount pictures canceled the re-release of “Team America” and New Regency films canceled a film project on North Korea set to begin in March with comedian Steve Carell.

Hollywood celebrities such as Mia Farrow, Michael Moore and George Clooney have criticized Sony’s self-censorship.

Some film critics who have seen the comedy haven't been kind either.

They describe the film as sophomoric and vulgar, and some have questioned Hollywood’s smugness in ridiculing other cultures especially when those cultures don't get the joke. 

Cha points to this cultural disconnect, saying, “That’s something they are not used to because they portray an image inside their country of how the North Korean leadership, the family, is really the closest thing to God."

Sony announced Tuesday afternoon “The Interview” will be shown in a limited release on Thursday, but Hollywood’s soul-searching on where to draw the line between its artistic freedom of expression and its excessive parodying of other cultures may have just begun.


Australia detains two
in anti-terrorism probe


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Australian authorities have arrested and charged two men as part of a wider counter-terrorism investigation, a day after Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned of increased terrorist chatter.

Twenty-year-old Sulayman Khalid was charged Wednesday with possession of documents designed to facilitate a terrorist attack. A 21-year-old man, whose name was not given, was charged with disobeying a police control order.

The arrests were related to a series of police raids in Sydney and Brisbane in September. A total of 11 people arrested in those raids have now been charged with terrorism-related offenses.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Michael Phelan says the documents seized from Khalid "talked a little about potential government targets" in Sydney, though he stressed there was no specific timeframe for an attack.

"I don't want to go into too much operational detail, but there was enough there that gave concern to us that something was being planned, and that's why a person was charged in relation to having a document that was designed to clearly facilitate an attack," said Phelan.

Phelan also said he is confident that authorities have disrupted the planned terrorist activity.

The arrests follow the police monitoring of a group of about 15 to 20 people in Sydney who are supportive of Islamic State extremists. Phelan said the group is actively supporting the Islamic State through funding, sending fighters, and planning attacks.

The group is not believed to be connected to Man Haron Monis, the Iranian-born gunman who last week took 17 hostages at gunpoint at a downtown Sydney cafe. Two of the hostages and the gunman died when police raided the cafe after a grueling, 16-hour standoff.

Though Monis expressed support for the Islamic State, police believe the self-professed Islamic sheikh was acting alone and did not have any terrorist links.

The Sydney cafe attack has rattled Australians and resulted in an increased police presence on the streets of the country's most populous city.

Australia has contributed to the U.S.-led military effort aimed at forcing the militants from the territory they control in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Dozens of Australian citizens are believed to have gone to the Middle East to fight for the extremist group, and authorities say many have since returned.

 
George H.W. Bush reported
to be in Houston hospital

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush has been admitted to a hospital in Houston, Texas.

A spokesman for the 90-year-old Bush said the former president was taken to Houston Methodist Hospital after experiencing shortness of breath.

The 41st U.S. president and father of former President George W. Bush was admitted to the same hospital in December 2012 for treatment of a bronchitis-related cough, before being released seven weeks later.

The White House released a statement saying President Barack Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, has been informed of the elder Bush's illness. The statement said Obama and his wife Michelle send their good wishes to ailing Bush and the entire family.

George H.W. Bush served as president from 1989-1993. He spent the previous eight years as Ronald Reagan's vice president.


For some Miami Cubans
political thaw is bittersweet


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama's decision to ease restrictions on U.S. trade with Cuba is attracting a lot of attention from the business community, with many companies poised to enter the last Communist stronghold in the Americas. Long-time Cuban exiles in Miami say the news is bittersweet, however, for those who had to leave everything behind.

When Jorge Valdez was 8 years old, he and his family left Cuba with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

"I remember getting out of school and getting to my house, and there would be a seal on the door," he said.

Now all he has left are some old photographs and a lot of memories.

"When I was a kid, my grandfather smoked cigars. We used to sit in the front of the house, and he used to sit in a rocking chair and smoke it, and I’d hold it -- my father and my uncle while they were playing dominoes, which is another part of being Cuban," he said. "It’s something that we do. We play dominoes, smoke cigars and roast pigs. It’s part of being Cuban.”

"One of my favorites is a Don Carlos," said Valdez of the cigar brand.

Today, Valdez owns a successful Miami cigar shop, Sabor Havana, with brands dominated by Cuban families who also fled Cuba and today use other tobacco to make quality cigars.

Valdez said people have been smuggling Cuban cigars into the United States for years. But now, large distributors are planning for when the Cuban market opens up, and Valdez is expecting sales to jump.

“I think that when trade opens up with Cuba, and when we do have Cuban cigars to sell here in the United States, there'll be a surge, of course, because it was, or it has been for 50 years, the forbidden fruit, so everyone wants to take a bite of the forbidden fruit,” he said.

Across town in Miami, the stronghold of Cuban-Americans, Andy Consuegra said lifting the trade embargo with Cuba would instantly boost his wine and spirit sales in the Caribbean.

"Overnight it’s about 4 or 5 more million tourists right overnight, plus the increase in tourists that would be expected, should things change or when things change, plus the local population, so another 11, 12 million people,” said Consuegra.

Consuegra said presently, large European companies dominate the market as they do not fall under the U.S. economic embargo.

Businessmen like Consuegra and Valdez look forward to the opportunities that open trade would bring. But for Valdez, it is difficult to forget the past.

"That’s the bitter part. I wish those kinds of things could be erased, but there is so much pain for 50 years that we hold onto that it’s hard to look at the upside of this exchange without there being some benefit to the people that are there," he said.

Valdez said that even if he could, he does not want to return to the Communist nation. He said he is content to spend time with his friends and clients in his own little bit of Cuba here in Miami.


U.S. seeking broad access
to Web in Communist Cuba


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

When Cubans learned of their government’s new relationship with the United States last week, it’s likely almost none of them read about it online.

Access to the Web is severely limited, extremely slow and priced beyond what most Cubans can afford. And that’s even before considering the massive censorship of content and persecution of bloggers critical of the regime.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that high on the Obama administration’s new priority list for Cuban-U.S. relations is to see the island nation more fully connected to the World Wide Web, as well as pushing for increased freedom of access and speech.

But if the Internet is going to be one of the principal tools for changing Cuba, the very first task is now connecting a nation largely left behind in the digital revolution.

Despite the U.S. embargo, Cuban officials like to tout that all 11 million Cuban citizens have free and unrestricted access to education, housing and medicine.

But for years that same access has been all but absent for the Internet and other digital forms of communication like mobile phones.

The United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union estimates that only about 25 percent of Cubans have access to the Internet up from nearly zero in 2000. But that number only represents the percent that potentially has access. Many estimates say the real percentage is much lower.

Researchers at Freedom House, an independent non-profit focused on issues of expanding freedoms, estimate that actual Internet penetration for 2011 was only 5 percent, making the nation one of the least connected in the world.

In 2008, Havana began to allow the purchase of some mobile phones and computers for private use. However, five years later the Telecommunications Union estimates that only 17 percent of Cubans have access to mobile phones, with nearly all of them only second-generation devices that don’t support Web access. The percentage of households with a computer is far lower.

There are a few cyber cafes in Cuba, but cost becomes another access problem.

The group Reporters Without Borders, which has declared Cuba an enemy of the Internet, estimates that it costs on average the equivalent of $5 to $7 for a half-hour connection to the Internet. But that the average monthly salary in Cuba equals only $20, making frequent access prohibitive.

Getting online is only half the problem for Cubans. The other, and more problematic issue, is the rigid control the government exerts over what people can see and say while online. Particularly in the government’s crosshairs are Cuban bloggers who openly criticize the regime.

In 2012, following a brief period where the government appeared to ease restrictions, Havana again cracked down, shuttering a range of blogs and Web sites, restricting access to email content at work, and jailing a number of cyber activists and critics.

Among the prominent Cuban bloggers that have tangled with the government is Yoani María Sánchez, lead author of the Generación Y blog.

While never jailed, Ms. Sánchez remains a thorn in the side of the Castros and her blog is blocked within Cuba. She publishes it by sending blog entries to friends outside Cuba, who then post it on non-Cuban servers.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

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8553-6/22/15

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 4030-5480 or 8339-2112. www.costaricarealtyone.com
8554-6/15/14

Remax logo
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.
8366-12/2/14

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 www.moranlakearenal.com
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Email: moranrealestate@gmail.com
Moran logo
8502-4/20/15




Costa Rica,

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




Visit our Web Site:
 www.greciarealestate.com


English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
(506) 2494-0016 
(506) 8309-0173
 
English calls :  (Luis David) Phone: 
(506) 6154-1940


Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
 
Grecia 884
Beautiful large house in Grecia, Costa Rica, with the best fresh natural weather. The property includes 9 challets and 12.000 m2 of land,  1,000 m2 of construction. Price $498,000. Click HERE!
Grecia 881
Beautiful house in Grecia, Costa Rica,  2 kilometers from the city.   340 m2 of land.
Price $135,000. Click
HERE!
Grecia 898
Beautiful house in Grecia downtown. Full security cameras. Land 250 m2.  Price $400,000.  Click HERE!
  Send us your request to our email: info@greciarealestate.com
8533-2/17/14

Real estate for sale (paid category)


Heredia montage

Cariaria  Los Arcos.
    Lot inside Los Arcos Residence. Absolutely gorgeous right in front of the coffee plantation. The lot is 326.50 meters. Includes the corporation for an easy transfer and the plans for a 170 meter house. Open to all offers.   Architect  plans included (the blueprints). Cost to the seller $4,000 this is included!!   Original Price $97,000 just reduced to $86,000

Also I am selling an Audi A6  2008, 2.0 twin turbo. Full loaded power. Back leather. Full service records at the agency in Costa Rica.  52 kms.  Silver with black. Full computer iPod interface power. Electric moon roof. Everything's a beauty!!  Incredible history and full service at the agency, Costa Rica Audi.

It's a package deal $104.000.  Must sell.  I am moving back to U.S.  Contact me  at my phone:  2260-6979 or cell phone:  8893-8672.

La Fortuna Distress Sale
Divorce forced wife to return to the U.S. with bills to pay. Just wants to get out from under. Modern 2-bedroom home on over 1100m2 intended for apartments or condos. Easy walk to center of town, great volcano view. $140,000 with 50 percent financing arranged. On vacation rental program now producing nice income, but Costa Rica no longer in her future. For details contact
lafortunaguy@gmail.com
8548-1/1/15

Ringle resort
on one big lot in Esterillos Oeste, (Central Pacific)
Located on a breezy hill just 4 minutes walk to the beach, surf and tide-pools, only 20 minutes drive north to Jacó nightlife and shopping or south to the rural town of Parrita.

First, a 2-storey, 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1½-bathroom house with big kitchen and living room.  Full-width verandah with eating and sitting areas, overlooking lawn, pool and gazebo. Sitting balcony at upper, bedroom level.  Carport. and laundry. 

Second, a completely private single-storey. 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1-bathroom home with big back yard at a lower level on the same, big fully titled 1,100M2 lot.. Full security bars at all doors and windows, plus locking vehicle access and pedestrian gates at the street. In a very safe neighborhood, with private and natural surroundings

Well maintained, fully and tastefully furnished and equipped, hot water, local phone, cable TV/DVD and high speed wireless internet   The houses have been rented for both long-term and vacation for $100/$80 per day and $1,500/$1,200 per month respectively. See this place, you will love it! Then make an offer. E-mail azucarb@racsa.co.cr or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.
8555-1/12/15

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
 PRICE REDUCED FROM $235,000 to $195,000
This is not an ordinary condo. Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $195,000.
8545-1/2/15

Atenas home
This developer's prime lot with super house is being offered in Roca Verde, 7,006 M2 of gentle grade, all landscaped for tropical effect, 3 bedrooms 2 baths with tile floors and hardwood kitchen, near the entrance of the neighborhood. Great floor plan on this one! There is a double carport, and a large patio and pool, wheelhouse style living room and many other features. View, large usable lot, close to town, nice, oh yeah. $495,000. http://www.atenasrealty.com/fotos%20H392.html
8542-12/17/14

greatroom
More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist www.costaricaretireonss.com  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!
8310-7/1/

Maneul Antonio
Manuel Antonio Estates focuses on building vacation homes for clients within Manuel Antonio Estates and Palmas Pacifica. We take care of the details from permits and design to supervision of construction and management of the rentals, if needed. We provide privacy and security, and our gated community offers shared common recreational facilities, beautiful landscaping and parking areas. Our homes and lots are located just minutes from the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. If you've ever considered buying a second home, just minutes from the beach, do not hesitate, if you have any questions or would like to request more information please take full advantage of our Costa Rica real estate services and contact us today!
Manuel Antonio Estates    1 800 346-9724  (506) 8815-9606. www.manuelantonioestates.com
8515-2/16/14

Ciudad Colon
Great Deal!! Apartment in condo with pool and extensive green areas:
Ciudad Colón, San José $112,000
The apartment has a master bedroom with a large ensuite bathroom with bath tub, and a smaller second bedroom/office with air conditioning. It has a second full bathroom, living/dining room, laundry room with hot water tank and storage area. The kitchen comes with granite countertops, a breakfast bar and new dishwasher. It has 82 m2 of construction. 2 balconies with beautiful views of the river and mountains. Private parking for one car. Elevator and a well presented reception area. Located in a very quiet and private neighborhood just 400 meters from the centre of Ciudad Colón. Within minutes to all major amenities in Santa Ana and Escazú. Easy access to the beach (less than 1.5 hrs).  24-hour security, visitor parking, pool, extensive and lush green areas, BBQ area, children’s playground and its own water treatment plant. Contact (506) 6022-9294 or 6022-9967, orbec12@gmail.com for further info or to arrange a viewing.
8509-xxx

Suenos montage
Outrageous blowout prices on oceanfront condos in Los Sueños!

Located in the private Bay Residence enclave overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Los Sueños Resort and Marina, there are three gorgeous units available at unbelievable bargain pricing from $589,000.  All of these beautiful units are three bedrooms and two baths, 2,200 square feet, fully furnished and ready to move in.  Development includes a gym, access to 3 pools, jacuzzis, BBQ areas and the Beach Club.  If you’ve always wanted to own in Los Sueños, now is the time!  Contact Karen@remax-ocr.com  or call 8702-0778.  From U.S. call 209-482-1788.

Top floor unit: $649,000   Second floor unit: $675,000  Garden unit: $589,000
8500-1/3/15

Newly available in Roca Verde
Atenas
Well-built home of 215 m2, 3 bedrooms, two bath on 1,150 m2 of lot, with attractive rock retaining wall, carport, and a pool. Indoors there are high, vaulted hardwood ceiling, bright rooms, a laundry room.  The floor is ceramic tile in pastel shades. $247,000. Photos: http://www.atenasrealty.com/fotos%20H326.html 2446-5587. ldrock@gmail.com
8499-q11/3/14

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya.7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 ft. elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact mmpeace@hotmail.com   Check out slide show HERE!
8482-2/11/15

Esterillos

Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails: edumace64@yahoo.es  and pdvartanian@aol.com.
8458-3/2/15

NOW REDUCED TO $595,000
ALAJUELA – PRIVATE COMPOUND OF 4 HOMES
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:
8422-9/15/14

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site: costaricalandsales.com
email: kim@costaricalandsales.com

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.
8406-8/2/14

Real estate services
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Business for sale or lease (paid category)
call center
Call center for rent ready to go !
13 work stations, good equipment, good location, Rohrmoser, two blocks from Plaza Mayor. $4.000 per month. Call Kevin 8366-6861.
8481-11/11/14

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 254
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News from the BBC up to the minute










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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Cruz Roja ready for victims of bulls

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cruz Roja will have a busy 11 days.

This year there are two competing programs of toros a la Tica.  One is at Zapote and the other is at Pedregal.

At both locations, starting Christmas Day, presumably normal individuals will walk
willingly into a ring with an 800 to 900-pound unhappy bull.

Cruz Roja will attend to the wounds and transport those seriously hurt to local hospitals.

Spectators will pay to watch what transpires in the bull ring. And the events will be televised.

Every year those who call themselves toreros improvisados try their luck against the bulls. Although the Christmas events are probably larger, there are similar activities at the festival in Palmares in mid-January and at most local fairs throughout the year. There also can be more traditional bull riding.

Sometimes a participant is killed. Bulls do not know they are starring in a television attraction.

The toreros sometimes wear distinctive clothing. There are women in the rings, too.

Compared to the bulls, the Tope Nacional or the Tradicional Desfile de Caballistas, the big horse parade Friday is tame. Cruz Roja will handle sunburns and medical conditions at 15 aid stations. There may be a few drunks, too, because the tope provides an excuse, and the sun will be hot.

Drinking and riding is frowned upon, but some riders will partake, too. The aid stations will be along the parade route from Plaza Víquez to Calle 34, the Cruz Roja said.

Modern humans have more fragile bones

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The bones of modern humans are more fragile than those of non-human primates and our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and the agricultural revolution is to blame.

Researchers from Penn State and the University of Cambridge compared the top of the femur, where the long leg bone joins the hip in samples from early farmers, foraging populations and non-human primates. CT scans showed the honeycomb-like bone inside the femur head of hunter-gatherers was much denser than that of the more sedentary agriculturalists. 

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they say different activity patterns display significantly different bone structure. Co-author Tim Ryan said the findings suggest physical activity, especially when young, is critical to building strong bones throughout life.

The research could shed light on osteoporosis, a bone-weakening condition.

In another study in the same issue, researchers report human lightweight skeletons evolved relatively recently, about 12,000 years ago. 

Brian Richmond of George Washington University and his international team used high-resolution CT scans on different limb joints of modern humans and chimpanzees, as well as several hominid ancestors. They also found bone density decreased over the millennia, and it was more pronounced in the lower joints than in the upper ones, like the shoulder, elbow and hand.

Richmond said, "this density drastically drops off ... when we started to use agricultural tools to grow food and settle in one place."


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From Page 7:

Dollars returning home as interest rates rise

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Most experts say the U.S. Federal Reserve's massive bond-buying program that ended in October helped stabilize the U.S. economy, but it also sent billions of dollars into emerging economies. Now, as 2014 winds down, some of that money is starting to return to the U.S.

Since 2008, the U.S. central bank has pumped nearly $4 trillion into the global economy with its stimulus policy. Besides boosting liquidity, quantitative easing, as the practice is known, also sent U.S. interest rates to record lows.

But instead of causing a spike in inflation as many had feared, some of the money began flowing into countries where yields were higher.

“Emerging markets have been the beneficiaries of investors' search for yield,” said Catherine Mann, chief economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Among the beneficiaries have been Brazil, Russia, India and China. But now, with U.S. interest rates set to rise next year, Brad McMillan at Commonwealth Financial Network said some of that money will start flowing back to the United States.

“With U.S. rates starting to rise, the attractiveness of the U.S. as an investment destination continues to increase," he said. "You’re going to see a lot of capital that went to emerging markets potentially come back.”

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, said Ms. Mann.

“Part of the reason why that’s the case is that tapering has happened along with a speed-up in the U.S. economy," she said. "So emerging markets, even as capital was being reallocated, ended up doing better from the standpoint of exporting.”

That’s because a stronger dollar makes foreign exports cheaper. On the other hand, it's also likely to produce increased volatility, the ups and down in financial markets. 

Despite the economic slowdown in parts of the world, experts say a stronger U.S. economy along with lower oil prices is likely to boost consumption. And when consumers buy more, emerging markets that produce more than 35 percent of the world's goods are likely to be among the winners in 2015.