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(506) 2223-1327                         Published Monday, Dec. 30, 2013,  Vol. 13, No. 257                             Email us
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voting
Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones graphic
How informed
will the vote be?


For whom will you vote, asks the election tribunal.

But the big question is can citizens cast an informed vote or do emotions rule.

There is a lot of evidence that party platforms, plans for government and similar count for little. That is the topic of our article.



Firing a nursing mother costs employer a year's pay
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala Segunda, the high labor court, has awarded a nursing mother 12 months pay because she was laid off from her job. The court said the labor termination was discriminatory.

The case involved an unnamed mother and an employer in southern Costa Rica. The original case was heard in the Juzgado de Trabajo of the I Circuito Judicial de la Zona Sur in Pérez Zeledón.

The woman received maternity leave in May 2010. When she returned to work she was fired in September for what the company said was a reorganization of personnel, according to a Poder Judicial summary.

The majority of the Sala Segunda panel determined that the amount due the woman was changed by Ley Nº 8107, which introduced reforms to the labor code and prohibited acts of discrimination.

The court also cited international agreements that protect workers so that they are not objects of arbitrary and irrational exclusion in the workplace.

The Sala Segunda also cited an international Labor Organization agreement that protects nursing mothers.

The Poder Judicial summary did not clarify if discrimination had been established or if the Sala Segunda just assumed that this existed because the woman had been fired while nursing. The labor code provides time off with pay so that working mothers can nurse their newborns. The amount of time depends on the work schedule.

The Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social
defines this period of lactancia as three months after
returning from maternity leave. But the time can be extended on the order of a physician. New mothers are allowed 15 minutes every three working hours or a half hour twice a work day to nurse their infant.

Traditionally women are actually allowed an hour a day at the beginning or end of the work day to do so, the ministry noted.

The labor court in Pérez Zeledón originally awarded the woman nine months pay of about 3 million colons or about $6,000, but the employer's lawyers appealed to a higher tribunal. That panel awarded the woman just 10 days salary for her dismissal.

The woman's lawyers appealed to the Sala Segunda, which basically reinstated the lower court decision. In addition, the woman had received three months pay upon dismissal, the Poder Judicial noted.

The labor ministry has said for a long time to employers that nursing mothers cannot be terminated in their job unless there is a just cause, such as a disciplinary violation.  In that case, employers usually first seek approval from the labor ministry.

What is new in this case is the amount of compensation if mothers are fired illegally.

Because women are entitled to four months of paid leave to give birth, employers frequently try to get rid of pregnant workers when they learn of the condition. Although this is clearly illegal, many woman do not contest the firing.

An employer only pays half the salary during the four months. The remainder is picked up by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social if the worker is enrolled legally.


Robbery score: Five caught, one killed and four let go
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The suspects were pretty flagrant, but the Tribunal de Flagrancias let them go anyway.

The suspects are the four adults and a minor who are accused of sticking up a Casa Blanca store in Moravia Saturday morning.

Judicial agents said that two fled into the parking lot of nearby Plaza Lincoln, which resulted in a shutdown of the major shopping center for several hours.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that five suspects were rounded up and that the four adults were turned over to the Fiscalía de Flagrancias. This is part of the speedy process that has been set up to handle crooks caught in the act or nearly so.

Agents said that they recovered cell phones, computers and electronic tablets taken from the Casa Blanca store, a .22-caliber pistol, clothing presumed to have been used in the robbery, a car that was seen fleeing the scene and a motorcycle that also was identified as being used in the robbery.

Still, Celso Gamboa Sánchez, a vice minister of security, reported Sunday via Twitter that the suspects were liberated with restrictive measures imposed by a judge. Usually those measures include maintaining a fixed living place and signing in with the prosecutors every 15 days.

The flagrancia courts were set up to convict and jail immediately those caught red-handed.

Judicial agents said that while the robbery was
taking place, persons outside the store noticed what was happening and alerted police. That was about 9:45 a.m.

The four adults were reported to be 18, 19, 32 and 34 years old. The minor is 17, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

In another robbery case, a police officer shot it out with a suspect, and the suspect died. That was in  Sabanilla de Montes de Oca about 8 p.m. Friday.

Judicial agents said that a police officer with the last name of Flores saw a man running carrying a pistol. Persons on the street said they had been robbed, so the officer gave chase in his patrol car.

As he approached the fleeing man, the officer got out of the vehicle and ordered him to halt, said agents. That was when the man turned and fired on the officer, who was hit three times.

The police officer returned fire and delivered a fatal bullet to the chest of the suspect, who died an hour and a half later in Hospital Calderón Guardia. Agents said the police officer was hit twice in the left leg and once in the right arm. He, too, was hospitalized.

The Fuerza Pública officer is 23.

The dead man was identified by the last name of  Brenes. He was 34, agents said.

Agents said they recovered from the body of the suspect at the hospital electronic article that had been reported as stolen. They said they recovered at the scene a .38-caliber revolver. Police carry 9-mm. weapons.

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Next year holds a host
of three-day weekends


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The year that begins in just two days is a real winner for workers.

Nearly all the major Costa Rica holidays fall on a Friday, which means there will be many three-day weekends. This is good for many workers and also for local tourism.

And International Labor Day, May 1, falls on a Thursday, and that promises a four-day weekend with a little maneuvering.

Here are the other legal holidays that promise long weekends:

Dia de Juan Santamaria
Friday, April 11

Anexión del Partido de Nicoya
Friday, July 25

Día de la Virgen de Los Ángeles
Friday, Aug. 1

Día de Madre
Friday, Aug. 15

Día de las Culturas
Friday, Oct. 10

And the above does not count Semana Santa 2014 that contained two holidays, Holy Thursday, April 17, and Good Friday, April 18. Many workers are off for a full week then anyway.

And the Día de la Independencia, Sept. 14, falls on a Monday, figure another three-day weekend.

Also, Christmas, falls on a Thursday, but everyone has a week off then, too.

And readers in the United States will have a three-day weekend for Independence Day because July 4 also falls on a Friday.


Three held after stickup
at Sabana fast food spot


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three persons, two of them brothers who are minors, tried to stickup workers at a McDonald's in Sabana Sur early Sunday, but law officers captured two inside the restaurant. A third was detained nearby, said the Fuerza Pública.

Police confiscated a firearm.  Celso Gamboa Sánchez, a vice minister of security, said the attempted robbery took place about 4 a.m. He attributed the police action to agents of the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad, which has its headquarters nearby.

The day before, Saturday in the afternoon, two men stuck up a cell telephone store on Avenida 5 in San José but two suspects were detained quickly by Fuerza Pública officers.


Trial involving lawmaker begins
in a week before Sala Tercera


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Poder Judicial said that trial for lawmakers Jorge Angulo and 11 co-defendants will begin a week from today before the Sala Tercera of the Corte Suprema de Justicia.

Because Angulo is a sitting legislator, the case is before the Sala Tercera even though he has renounced his immunity. The Partido Liberación Nacional lawmaker and his co-defendants are accused of extortion, bribery and trafficking in influence in the construction of the Colegio Italo-Costarricense in San Vito de Coto Brus. There also is an allegation that Angulo accepted money from the Junta Administrativa de la Zona Sur development agency to expedite the school construction.


Our reader's opinion
All types of wars, not tourism,
are so much more profitable


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The question from Jo's column was;  “What is more profitable, tourism or war?”

I would have to say war, hands down.  War can also be put into different categories.  Our usual definition of war regarding regimes fighting regimes, militaries fighting others militaries, countries fighting other countries generates billions of dollars a year for the military industrial complex and world bankers.    Also, part of that complex are the corporations that are involved with reconstruction of these destructive wars.  They too make billions, multinational corporations like Halliburton and others in Iraq for example.

The war on drugs is another huge money maker for both sides.  The drug dealers benefit from the higher prices of drugs.  The military industrial complex makes billions selling their ammo, weapons and technology to fight it.

Then there is the war against sickness.  This war is also being lost, but billions of dollars are being made.  Let's take for example the war on obesity.  Billions of dollars are spent on pharmaceuticals and medical care for this, fairly new, out-of-control situation.  Is the war being won?  NO.  There is so much money to be made in it. 

Instead of attacking the root of the solution, the medical and pharmaceutical industries would rather sell drugs and perform operations to cover up the problem with a band aid.   I am sure they know band aids only work for small skin abrasions.  The same can be said about the war on heart disease or on depression, and it goes on and on.  Medical and pharmaceutical corporations are making trillions of dollars on these wars as well.
 
If you want to just think of war as military, them against us, that is much more profitable then tourism. As Jo mentioned, if "we are talking money, profit and loss, power and control, not human emotions."  The answer to her question is much more being made on wars than tourism any day of the week, including weekends.

Henry Kantrowitz
Punta Leona

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In recognition of the holidays, the offices of A.M. Costa Rica in Barrio Otoya will be closed until Thursday, Jan. 2.
However, the daily newspaper will publish each weekday
except New Year's Day.

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
 Hidden Garden
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 257
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candidates
Tribunal de Elecciones montage
A baker's dozen of presidential candidates includes about five with a chance to win.
Emotions, not intellect, will choose country's next president
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican election authorities are promoting the concept of an informed vote Feb. 2.

Luis Antonio Sobrado, president of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, calls this and participation fundamental for democracy.

The Tribunal Web site is full of information about the 13 presidential candidates. There is a debate scheduled Jan. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. on Canal 13 and another Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. on Canal 6 and Radio Monumental 93.5 FM.

In addition, millions of electrons are being expended by the news media to provide the voting public the slightest nuances in the differences in the platforms of candidates.

Candidates, themselves, have produced elaborate documents on most aspects of governance, ranging from concessions to citizen security.

In the face of all this effort is a mountain of political science literature that says emotional factors will guide the public vote, not their intellect.

La Nación has prepared an online survey system where readers can agree or disagree with various pronouncements of presidential candidates. There is high agreement because candidates promise the obvious: security, a fight against corruption, a review of the controversial concession process.

The newspaper outlines a process whereby voters analyze the positions of candidates, compare their statements and determine the veracity and consistency of their words. Even the biggest election junkie would be challenged in doing this for all 13 presidential candidates or even the five leading ones.

Costa Rican election officials generally have frowned on emotional pitches for votes. The campaign season begins later this week after a mandatory halt during the holidays. Some of the best campaign commercials got the most heat. Who can forget the Ottón Solís figure fighting an Óscar Arias Sánchez figure in the boxing ring just before the 2006 elections. There is a YouTube video HERE!

The commercial was not received well by election officials.

Election decision-making has been studied elsewhere for decades. Even earlier, in 1957, academic Leon Festinger released his theory of cognitive dissonance which says individuals will avoid situations that cause them stress. In politics that means citizens will generally seek out media presentations to which they agree.

Psychology has evolved to the extent that magnetic resonance imaging is being used to study brain activity as subjects listen to positive or negative statements about their chosen candidates.

The American Psychological Assocation gave this summary of the 2006 experiment led by Drew Westen of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia:

The researchers found that the brain areas responsible for reasoning did not show increased activity as participants drew their conclusions about the information. Instead, the brain areas controlling emotions lit up. Further, when participants had twisted the facts until they exonerated their candidate of choice, areas of the brain involved in reward-processing showed increased activity.

The association quoted Westen on studies of major U.S. political situations during the Bill Clinton presidency that pre-dated the experiment:

"We ultimately found that reason and knowledge contribute very little. From three studies during the Clinton impeachment era to the disputed vote count of 2000 to people's reactions to Abu Ghraib, we found we could predict somewhere between 80 percent and 85 percent of the time which way people would go on questions of presumed fact from emotions alone. Even when we gave them empirical data that pushed them one way or the other, that had no impact, or it only hardened their emotionally

Arias on the ropes
Óscar Arias is on the ropes in this 2006 campaign commercial by the Ottón Solís campaign.
evaluating
                  canidates
La Nación expects readers to use their brains
A larger image is HERE!

biased views. Then we followed that up with the brain study that begins the book."

Another group of researchers in 2009 reported at an American Political Science Association conference that a sports team win before election day causes the incumbent to receive about 1 percentage point more of the vote, with the effect being larger for teams with stronger fan support.

Said authors Andrew Healy of Loyola Marymount University, Neil A. Malhotra of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and associate Cecilia Hyunjung Mo:

"Voters' decisions and attitudes are thus shown to depend considerably on events that affect their personal level of happiness even when those events are entirely disconnected from government activity."

An Association for Psychological Science report, called "The Emotional Citizen," said "Emotions not only influence our candidate evaluations directly, they also influence our perceptions of risk and our responses to political policies, our attention to and learning of political information, and our political behavior."

David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, perhaps stated the issue more clearly:

"The truth is that many of the theories we come up with are bogus. They are based on the assumption that voters make cold, rational decisions about who to vote for and can tell us why they decided as they did. This is false."

An excerpt from Westen also provides a clear summary, even though there are hundreds of other works on this issue:

"People almost always vote for the candidate who elicits the right feelings, not the one who presents the best arguments."

This point of view is supported firmly by the two elections of Barrack Obama in the United States and surveys of Democratic voters.

The same will be true in Costa Rica Feb. 2. But the outcome is hard to guess. Many Costa Ricans are so put off by the presidential candidates, that they may not vote. Polls show that about a third of the 3,078,321 registered voters will not pick Johnny Araya of the Partido Liberación Nacional under any circumstance.

That explains why José María Villalta Florez-Estrada of Frente Amplio has surged in the polls. As one reader pointed out, Villalta has a clear-cut platform, somewhat moderated from the candidate's leftist views. He provides an acceptable alternative to many.

The emotional nature of the voting will be seen when the Museo de los Niños releases the results of its Feb. 2 children's poll. The children who vote most certainly have not read any of the documents that the election tribunal has on its Web site, but the vote will parallel, as usual, the real vote the same day.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 257
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Most donations supporting climate change denial said to be untraceable
By the  Drexel University news service

A study conducted by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert J. Brulle exposes the organizational underpinnings and funding behind the powerful climate change countermovement. This study marks the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the sources of funding that maintain the denial effort.

Through an analysis of the financial structure of the organizations that constitute the core of the countermovement and their sources of monetary support, Brulle found that, while the largest and most consistent funders behind the countermovement are a number of well-known conservative foundations, the majority of donations are concealed.

The data also indicates that Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, two of the largest supporters of climate science denial, have recently pulled back from publicly funding countermovement organizations. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to countermovement organizations through third party pass-through foundations like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, whose funders cannot be traced, has risen dramatically.

Brulle, a professor of sociology and environmental science in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences, conducted the study during a year-long fellowship at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. The study was published in Climatic Change.

The climate change countermovement is a well-funded and organized effort to undermine public faith in climate science and block action by the U.S. government to regulate emissions. This countermovement involves a large number of organizations, including conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations and conservative foundations, with strong links to sympathetic media outlets and conservative politicians, said the university.

“The climate change countermovement has had a real political and ecological impact on the failure of the world to act on the issue of global warming,” said Brulle. “Like a play on Broadway, the countermovement has stars in the spotlight – often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians – but behind the stars is an organizational structure of directors, script writers and producers, in the form of conservative foundations. If you want to understand what’s driving this movement, you have to look at what’s going on behind the scenes.”

To uncover how the countermovement was built and maintained, Brulle developed a listing of 118 important climate denial organizations in the U.S. He then coded data on philanthropic funding for each organization, combining information from the Foundation Center with financial data submitted by organizations to the Internal Revenue Service.

The final sample for analysis consisted of 140 foundations making 5,299 grants totaling $558 million to 91 organizations from 2003 to 2010. The data shows that these 91 organizations have an annual income of just over $900 million, with an annual average of $64 million in identifiable foundation support. Since the majority of the organizations are multiple focus organizations, not all of this income was devoted to climate change activities, Brulle notes.


Key findings include:

* Conservative foundations have bank-rolled denial. The largest and most consistent funders of organizations orchestrating climate change denial are a number of well-known conservative foundations, such as the Searle
climate change donations
Chart shows the overall amount and percentage distribution of foundation funding of countermovement organizations.
A larger version is HERE!

Freedom Trust, the John William Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. These foundations promote free-market ideas.

* Koch and ExxonMobil have recently pulled back from publicly visible funding. From 2003 to 2007, the Koch Affiliated Foundations and the ExxonMobil Foundation were heavily involved in funding climate-change denial organizations. But since 2008, they are no longer making publicly traceable contributions.

* Funding has shifted to pass through untraceable sources. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to denial organizations by the Donors Trust has risen dramatically. Donors Trust is a donor-directed foundation whose funders cannot be traced. This one foundation now provides about 25 percent of all traceable foundation funding used by organizations engaged in promoting systematic denial of climate change.

* Most funding for denial efforts is untraceable. Despite extensive data compilation and analyses, only a fraction of the hundreds of millions in contributions to climate change denying organizations can be specifically accounted for from public records. Approximately 75 percent of the income of these organizations comes from unidentifiable sources.

“The real issue here is one of democracy. Without a free flow of accurate information, democratic politics and government accountability become impossible,” said Brulle. “Money amplifies certain voices above others and, in effect, gives them a megaphone in the public square. Powerful funders are supporting the campaign to deny scientific findings about global warming and raise public doubts about the roots and remedies of this massive global threat. At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts.”

This study is part one of a three-part project by Brulle to examine the climate movement in the U.S. at the national level.

Brulle previously served as a commissioned officer in the U. S. Coast Guard for two decades. He received a doctorate in sociology from George Washington University.


Vacation, travel and hospitality
Costa Rica’s #1 Time –Tested Relocation/Retirement Tours
Christopher Howard's Award-winning Combination Relocation/Retirement Tour. NO other retirement tour offers MORE options...MORE areas visited, MORE information, MORE people just like you who have made the move and a LONGER
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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. lundquistgeorge@gmail.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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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 257
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Cafetales



Hot peppers, better move over!
There's a new champ in town


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

There’s a new world-record holding hot pepper, the Carolina Reaper, which dethroned the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Hot pepper heat is measured using Scoville heat units. The winning pepper (code name HP22B for Higher Power, Pot No. 22, Plant B) measured a whopping 1,569,300 Scoville heat units, with an individual pepper in the batch measuring 2.2 million.

To put it in perspective, a jalapeno pepper is between 5,000 and 8,000 Scoville Units.

Another way to look at it that the Carolina Reaper is nearly as strong as pepper spray used by police.

Ed Currie, who grows the Carolina Reapers, said that he’d been interested in peppers all his life and has been determined to grow the hottest pepper for over a decade.

"I haven't tried Ed's peppers. I am afraid to," said Cliff Calloway, Winthrop University professor whose students tested Currie's peppers "I bite into a jalapeno . . .  that's too hot for me."

Currie hopes to turn his skill for growing peppers into a lucrative business in the hot pepper market. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans are eating 8 percent more hot peppers than they were five years ago.


U.S. study predicts chaos
in Afghanistan by 2017


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A leading U.S. newspaper says an intelligence report on Afghanistan predicts gains made by the United States and its allies will be lost by 2017, with the Taliban and other groups becoming increasingly influential as international forces leave.

The Washington Post reports the new National Intelligence Estimate says Afghanistan will quickly fall into chaos if Washington and Kabul do not sign a security pact to keep an international military contingent in the country beyond 2014.

The newspaper quotes one U.S. official familiar with the report as saying that without a continuing troop presence and financial support, the intelligence assessment suggests the situation would deteriorate very rapidly.

But it said other officials felt the report was overly pessimistic and did not take into account progress made by Afghanistan's security forces.

A U.S. official who thought the report was too negative told the Post that what would likely emerge in Afghanistan "is a recalibration of political power, territory and that kind of thing . . not an inevitable rise of the Taliban."

The United States has sought permission from Kabul to keep troops that would carry out counterterrorism and training missions beyond 2014.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the deal, approved last month by a group of elders known as the Loya Jirga, would be signed only if raids on civilian homes are stopped and the U.S. publicly supports the Afghan government's reconciliation process with the Taliban.

Signing the agreement is a condition for the delivery of billions of dollars in Western aid for Afghanistan over the next years.

U.S. officials have said that unless a deal is reached to keep up to 8,000 U.S. troops, Taliban insurgents might stage a major comeback, and al-Qaida could regain safe havens in the country.


French constitutional panel
approves millionaire's tax


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

France's Constitutional Council gave the green light Sunday to a millionaire's tax, to be levied on companies that pay salaries of more than 1 million euros ($1.38 million) a year.

The measure, introduced in line with a pledge by President Francois Hollande to make the rich do more to pull France out of crisis, has infuriated business leaders and soccer clubs, which at one point threatened to go on strike.

It was originally designed as a 75 percent tax to be paid by high earners on the part of their incomes exceeding 1 million euros, but the council rejected this, saying 66 percent was the legal maximum for individuals.

The Socialist government has since reworked the tax to levy it on companies instead, raising the ire of entrepreneurs.

Under its new design, which the council found constitutional, the tax will be an exceptional 50 percent levy on the portion of wages exceeding 1 million euros paid in 2013 and 2014.

Including social contributions, its rate will effectively remain roughly 75 percent. The tax will, however, be capped at 5 percent of the company's turnover.

The Council, a court made up of judges and former French presidents, has the power to annul laws if they are deemed to violate the constitution.

  
Woman suicide bomber kills
at least 16 in Russian attack

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Authorities in southern Russia say a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a train station in the southern city of Volgograd, killing at least 16 people and wounding dozens.

An investigative committee spokesman says the woman set off the bomb in front of the metal detectors at the station entrance early Sunday morning.

Television footage shows a big orange fireball just inside the station as smoke pours out of the windows.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. But authorities found what they say was the bomber's severed head. They identify her as coming from Dagestan, a republic in the nearby volatile North Caucasus.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul extended his condolences to the dead and injured in what he called a terrorist attack.

This attack comes weeks before the Winter Olympics open in Sochi, about 650 kilometers south of Volgograd. Islamist militants have threatened to disrupt the Games.

An attack in Volgograd by a female suicide bomber on Oct. 21 killed five people and wounded 30. Investigators also identified her as coming from Dagestan.

Dagestan is the epicenter of an ongoing Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus.

In early July, the leader of the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, Doku Umarov, declared an end to a moratorium on attacks on Russian civilian targets that he had announced the previous year.


Antarctic ice showing signs
trapped ship may be rescued


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ice that has trapped a Russian ship with 74 people on board in Antarctica appeared to be cracking up on Sunday, raising hopes for a rescue as a powerful Australian icebreaker approached the stranded vessel.
   
The ice-bound ship, the "Akademik Shokalskiy," left New Zealand Nov. 28 on a privately funded expedition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey led by famed Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.
   
It has been stuck in the ice since Dec. 24. Its passengers include scientists and tourists, many of them Australian, and a Russian crew.
   
The Australian icebreaker the "Aurora Australis" was expected to reach the stricken ship at about midnight.
  
A Chinese icebreaker could not break through the thick ice earlier, but the weather on Sunday boded well for a rescue.
   
"The ice conditions seem to have improved and there appears to be some softening and some cracks appearing," Lisa Martin of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the rescue, said.
   
Just how the rescue would be done would be worked out when the "Aurora" reached the area, she said.
   
Those on board were in good condition and have never been in any imminent danger.
 
"We're primarily looking to the 'Aurora' to get us out," Chris Turney, an Australian professor onboard the beleaguered ship who is leading the expedition, wrote in an email Sunday.
   
"Hopefully there are some breaks developing in the surface from the weaker winds and sun during today."

The ship is stuck about 100 nautical miles (185 km) east of the French Antarctic station Dumont D'Urville and about 1,500 nautical miles (2,800 km) south of Hobart, Tasmania.
   
The "Aurora" is the third icebreaker to try to reach the hemmed in ship.
   
The Chinese icebreaker, the "Snow Dragon," is on standby at the edge of the ice and within sight of the trapped ship. It has a helicopter on board which could be used in the rescue.
   
A French icebreaker had also tried to help.


Times report downplays role of al-Qaida in Benghazi attacks

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An investigation by The New York Times newspaper has raised new questions about the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.
 
The Times says it spent months talking to Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the assault on the U.S. consulate there and the circumstances surrounding it. None of the sources produced any evidence that al-Qaida was behind the rampage in which the angry mob killed the four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
 
In the immediate aftermath, the Obama administration said the deaths were the result of an anti-West demonstration that got out of control.
 
At the time, Muslims around the world were angered by a crude video made in the United States that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad, and some news media reports said that the attack was organized by an al-Qaida-linked terrorist group.

The Obama administration came under harsh criticism from Republicans in Congress for the alleged failure to detect and prevent the attack, with many placing blame directly on then-secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
 
The paper's new investigation adds fuel to the largely partisan debate in Washington about the Obama administration's response to the killings, saying the attack was led by local fighters who had benefited from NATO support during the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
 
According to the paper, the assault was intensified in part by anger over the amateur video that was seen as insulting Islam. That finding appears to partially support a statement by then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, on a television talk show five days after the incident.
 
"We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people, came to the embassy . . .  to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo," she said in the 2012 television appearance. "And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists."
 
Some members of Congress, mostly opposition Republicans, charged that the assault was not a spontaneous reaction to the video but a planned attack by terrorist groups, which was covered up by the White House.
 
Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, Republicans, questioned Ms. Rice about the incident in the days that followed, and said they were not satisfied with her answers.
 
The debate intensified in the weeks before the November 2012 presidential election. President Barack Obama was said to have been considering appointing Ms. Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of State in his second term, but as criticism mounted, Ms. Rice withdrew her name from consideration.
 
Meanwhile, Clinton responded angrily to tough questioning from senators about what happened in Benghazi.

"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans," she told legislators. "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again"
 
According to The Times investigation, threats from local militants have multiplied throughout the Middle East, and the focus on battling al-Qaida may be distracting the United States from protecting its interests.
 
The report was released hours after the State Department said the Libyan government released four U.S. military personnel it had briefly detained.
 
A State Department spokeswoman said the four had been taken into custody near Sabratha, where they were participating in security preparedness efforts.
 
David Kirkpatrick's report says the central figure in the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi was anti-Gadhafi militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala.


Report on attack criticized
by some politicians in D.C.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A top Republican lawmaker is disputing a report in The New York Times asserting no connection between al-Qaida and the 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed America’s ambassador to Libya.

The attack that overran the U.S. compound in Benghazi and left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, has been the focus of intense congressional scrutiny and persistent Republican allegations of incompetence and a cover-up by the Obama administration. Now, a months-long investigation by The New York Times concluded that the administration was at least partially correct when it claimed the attack was spontaneous and triggered by local outrage over an American-made video denigrating Islam.
 
The newspaper asserts that local Islamic fighters took part in the assault but they had no ties to al-Qaida or any international terrorist group.
 
Appearing on the Fox News Sunday television program, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, a Republican, said The Times got the story wrong.
 
“There was aspiration to conduct an attack by al-Qaida and their affiliates in Libya. We know that. The individuals on the ground talked about a planned tactical movement on the compound. All of that would directly contradict what The New York Times definitively says was an exhaustive investigation,” said Rogers.
 
Also appearing on Fox News Sunday was Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat, who said The Times story paints a picture of complexity and in no way excuses inadequate security at the U.S. outpost in Benghazi.
 
“I do not think The New York Times report is designed to exonerate security lapses within the State Department that left our people vulnerable. I do think it adds some valuable insights. The intelligence indicates that al-Qaida was involved, but there were also plenty of people and militias that were unaffiliated with al-Qaida that were involved. I think the intelligence paints a portrait that some people came to murder, some people came to destroy property, some merely came to loot, and some came, in part, motivated by those videos,” said Schiff.
 
The Times said the report was based on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi.


Hundreds of Chinese lawmakers
quit over corruption allegations


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

More than 500 lawmakers in a Chinese city have resigned after being implicated in a bribery scandal, while another 56 provincial legislators have been sacked, state media said Saturday, as the government steps up its war on graft.

The official Xinhua news agency said the 512 lawmakers in Hengyang city in the poor, landlocked southern province of Hunan, resigned after they took bribes from 56 members of the provincial assembly.

The total amount of the bribes was more than 110 million yuan ($18.1 million), and the money was used to swing the results of elections, Xinhua said, citing a Hunan government statement.

China does not have fully democratic one-man, one-vote elections but has experimented with a selection process at the grassroots for local legislatures, even if most candidates are Communist Party members and there is rarely more than a single candidate for each position available.

"The number of people involved in the Hengyang election case are many, the amount of money large, the substance serious, the effect pernicious; this is a serious challenge to our People's congresses system," Xinhua said. "It must be seriously dealt with in accordance with the law."

The national people's congress is China's parliament.

Provinces, cities, counties and other administrative districts all have their own people's congresses, and they all generally act as a rubber stamp for party decisions rather than providing a forum for debate or making policies.

The competition, though limited, to become lawmakers in some places has opened the door to corruption, as membership of such bodies brings opportunities to influence decisions about things such as business contracts and promotions.

Xinhua said that those found to have broken the law in this bribery scandal would be handed over to judicial authorities for prosecution.

President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping crackdown on corruption since taking power, pursuing what he calls high-flying tigers as well as lowly flies, warning the problem is so severe it could threaten the party's survival.

Still, the party has shown no sign of wanting to set up an independent body outside party control to fight corruption, which many experts say is the only way China can really deal with it.

Indeed, the party has gone after activists who have pressed for officials to publicly reveal their wealth. One of the most prominent of these, Xu Zhiyong, is expected to go on trial soon.


Obamacare is again the topic
for discussions in Congress

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The coming week will see renewed focus on President Barack Obama’s signature health care law amid a reported end-of-year surge in people who have signed up for coverage. The news constitutes the most concrete sign to date that technical problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act have subsided, although the long-term success of the program remains in question.
 
President Obama is on vacation in Hawaii, but the administration says more than one million people have now enrolled for private insurance through federal health care exchanges established under the law, also known as Obamacare.
 
Almost all of the new enrollees have signed up in December.  Millions visited the federal Web site last week ahead of a deadline for health care coverage beginning Jan. 1.
 
The enrollment surge offers the first glimmer of hope that the technical glitches that paralyzed the Affordable Care Act’s rollout are a thing of the past. Until now, President Barack Obama has been on the defensive about the law’s implementation.
 
“The fact is, it did not happen in the first month, the first six weeks, in a way that was acceptable. And since I am in charge, obviously, we screwed it up,” Obama remarked.
 
Republicans continue to call for Obamacare’s repeal, contending that more Americans have had their existing health insurance policies cancelled than have benefitted from the law. Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, predicts the criticism will fade over time.
 
“The bottom line is, there are a lot of good things in Obamacare that people like, and the more people see that, the more positive it is going to be.”
 
A million enrollees is far short of the seven million goal the Obama administration set for the initial phase of the Affordable Care Act. And it remains to be seen whether large numbers of younger, healthier Americans will sign up for coverage. Without them, the economics of Obamacare will collapse.


Republicans pressured to renew
unemployment benefits again

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On the eve of the expiration of federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies are stepping up pressure on Republicans to renew the program.

Top White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said in a statement issued on Friday that a failure to renew emergency jobless benefits would harm the economy and he urged Congress to move quickly to pass a short-term extension of the aid.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, has vowed to bring to a vote a bill extending federal unemployment insurance benefits as soon as Congress returns from its holiday recess Jan. 6.

“While we remain disappointed that Congress did not heed the president's call to extend emergency unemployment benefits for next year before the holidays, the president as well as the Democratic congressional leadership have made clear the importance of extending the benefits immediately upon Congress's return,” Sperling said in a statement.

Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, endorsed legislation introduced by Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada, that would extend the unemployment benefits for three months. He said passage of the temporary bill would allow time to consider an extension for all of 2014.
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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


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Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
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Visit our Web Site:
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English: (Cristian Arce)
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English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 792
300 square meters of land, 195 square meters of construction HERE
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 square meters of construction. HERE!
  Send us your request to our email: info@greciarealestate.com
8142-2/11/13

Real estate for sale (paid category)


Rich Coast montage
Real Estate, Central Pacific Region
RichCoastRealty.com

Central Pacific between Jacó and Quepos-Manuel Antonio
Lots in gated community near the beach  from $17,999! Only 3 left
2-bedroom house in gated community was $120k now $99,900
3-bedroom house with 2 additional residential lots, walk to the beach $160k
Turnkey coffee shop/ bakery, corner location, great ROI! $65k
2-bedroom panoramic oceanview house, guesthouse on 2.5 acres $269k
Panoramic oceanview  property, 3 houses, on-ground pool $375k
And much more!!!

     www.RichCoastRealty.com
   USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
   CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891
   Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
8191-4/30/13


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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SSan José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 257
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
N.Y. Federal judge rules
NSA spying is constitutional


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A federal judge ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects records of millions of Americans' phone calls is lawful, calling it a counter-punch to terrorism that does not violate Americans' privacy rights.
 
Friday's decision by U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan diverged from a ruling by another judge this month that questioned the program's constitutionality, raising the prospect that the Supreme Court will need to resolve the issue.
 
In a 54-page decision, Pauley dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit contending that the NSA collection of bulk telephony metadata violated the bar against warrantless searches under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
 
The judge also referred often to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died, and said broad counter-terrorism programs such as the NSA's could help avoid a horrific repeat of those events.
 
“This blunt tool only works because it collects everything,” Pauley wrote. “Technology allowed al-Qaeda to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely. The bulk telephony metadata collection program represents the government's counter-punch.”
 
The program's existence was first disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is now in Russia under temporary asylum. His leaks have sparked a debate over how much leeway to give the government in protecting Americans from terrorism.
 
Pauley ruled 11 days after U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C., said the almost Orwellian NSA program amounted to an indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion that was likely unconstitutional.
 
Leon also ordered the government to stop collecting call data on the two plaintiffs in that case, but suspended that portion of his decision so the government could appeal.
 
The ACLU has argued before Pauley that the NSA program was an unwarranted dramatic expansion of the government's investigative powers over Americans' day-to-day lives.
 
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, Friday said the group was extremely disappointed with Pauley's decision, saying it does away with core constitutional protections. He said the ACLU will appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
 
White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to comment. U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr said the department is pleased with the decision.
 
Stephen Vladeck, an American University law professor who specializes in national security, said if federal appeals courts in New York or Washington, D.C., ultimately accept Leon's analysis, then it seems likely, if not certain, that this case will get to the Supreme Court by the end of next year.
 
President Barack Obama has defended the surveillance program but has indicated a willingness to consider constraints, including whether to give control of metadata to phone companies or other third parties. Intelligence officials have said this could prove costly and slow investigations.
 
On Dec. 18, a White House-appointed panel proposed curbs on some NSA surveillance operations.
 
It said that because intelligence agencies could not point to specific cases where telephony metadata collection led to a major counter-terrorism success, the intrusiveness of such intelligence gathering might outweigh the public benefit.
 
Obama is expected next month to set forth his own proposals for possible surveillance reforms.
 
In rejecting the ACLU motion for a preliminary injunction to block the NSA program, Pauley said the public interest tilted firmly toward the government, for which combating terrorism is an urgent objective of the highest order.
 
While acknowledging that the program vacuums up information about virtually every telephone call to, from, or within the United States, he said its constitutionality is ultimately a question of reasonableness.
 

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From Page 7:

World price of oil now higher than $100 a barrel

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The price for a barrel of oil rose above $100 Friday amid concerns over instability in Libya and South Sudan, plus a growing U.S. demand for fuel.

Fighting in South Sudan and erratic oil production in Libya are having a ripple effect on the global oil market.

John Kingston, director of news for Platts, a leading energy information company, said, “The big, broad, fundamental picture does look like there’s more oil on the world than is necessary. But you continue to have several hotspots that are keeping the market tight and keeping the market a little bit on edge. Libyan output’s been fluctuating. Sometimes it gets almost up to 500,000 barrels a day. Sometimes it’s closer to 100,000 barrels a day. But this is a country that should be producing about 1.5 to 1.6-million barrels a day. Now you’ve got South Sudan, which is a relatively small producer, but again it could be a cutback in a market that does have a lot of these geo-political concerns.”

Some of the fighting in South Sudan is in Unity State, which produces about 45,000 to 50,000 barrels a day. That’s out of a total output for South Sudan of 250,000 barrels a day. Kingston said that’s a relatively small output compared to other oil producing nations. Nevertheless, he said the combination of problems in the two countries has affected the market.

“You’ve also got other things,” he said, “You’ve got rising interest rates, which tend to be a booster of commodities. U.S. demand is starting to show real signs of strength. It’s up about a million barrels a day – year on year – and the estimates now are that fourth quarter growth in GDP might be three to four percent, which is pretty strong. So, you throw all these together in this plunging market that everyone was talking about a few weeks ago, a month ago, it’s got too many things that are preventing it from plunging.”

Kingston said that the oil market is not like the stock market, which can fluctuate wildly upon hearing rumors.

“Any kind of commodity market – the net gain at the end of the day is zero. For every dollar made there’s a dollar lost. So that’s not the case in Wall Street. So, that’s why I always push back very hard in any kind of analogy to Wall Street. But certainly it’s not so much that there are rumors, there are real outages of supply. And even though if you sat down and did the percentages it would look really, really small, the fact is markets are not set by percentages they’re set on the margin. What is the competition for that last barrel of oil?”

Kingston said that Platts will not predict how long the price of a barrel of oil may hover around the $100 level.