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Cocal for Jan. 20
Loma Verde
(506) 2223-1327                        Published Friday, Jan 2, 2015, in Vol. 15, No. 1                                         Email us
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;ale Arenal

A.M. Costa Rica photos/Xochitl Quesada
Plenty of the garbage came from New Year's parties, but some is just store trash.
Winds and circumstances bury metro area in trash
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wind up to 85 kph (53 mph) chilled the Central Valley Thursday, a continuation of the effects of the high pressure area that still is over the Caribbean.

Perhaps the most noticeable result has been the buildup of trash in the metro area.  New Year's celebrations and a holiday for municipal cleanup crews and trash collectors accentuated the problem.

The winds piled up trash in doorways, gutters and other crannies. Piles of boxes and other waste from retail establishments were quickly distributed by the winds.

Stray animals had a field day with refuse from food stores and restaurants.

The situation is expected to improve today when garbage trucks are back in business and municipal workers hit the streets with their wheelbarrows, brooms and plastic bags.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said in a special midday bulletin that the winds were stronger in the mountains. The bulletin also predicted accumulations of rain in the mountains of the Caribbean and the northern zone.

Also predicted were sprinkles in parts of the Central Valley.

In rural areas, of course, the wind created
trash two
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Xochitl Quesada
Part of the problem results from persons dumping their trash in public locations. This is at Parque Morazán.

accumulations of leaves and other vegetation. Many trees experienced a light pruning.

The weather institute also issued an advisory for light aircraft,  and said pilots should avoid turbulence generated by the winds in the mountains.

There also was a burning alert issued because the institute said that with such high winds, fires can get out of control easily.

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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
Tel: (323) 255-6116


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
Web page:

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

• US Tax return preparation  for
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• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
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• Take advantage of the Foreign
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• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting

Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620

Lucinda Gray, Ph.D.
California Licensed Psychologist
International Practice via the Web
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Training & Support
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Costa Rica: (506) 2228-2041

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


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:

Remodelling and Construction

Real estate agents and services

CR Beach
Jaco Beach Central Pacific Real Estate
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. 
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 !
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!

Member of the N.A.R., the Costa Rican Real Estate Board CRGAR and the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119 or  2643-4334, 2643-3672
JACO Office: IL Galeone Center by BAC, #14, Costa Rica

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   • Specialized in the Central and South Pacific.
   • Great network of realtors, to find your dream
   • 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
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

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


* 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
or Phone:  001 517 484-3675.
Click Here:

A.M. Costa Ricas photo           
Sharon Brodell and Xochitl Quesada show part of the goodies they baked New Year's Eve. Alas, most of it is gone now.

This is why Christmas is just once a year

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

How can you not get fat over the holiday?

The temptations are legion, and they are delicious. The most inviting have to be the old family recipes for cookies and all sorts of Old Country baked goods.

Most of them require mountains of butter. That's butter, not fake substitutes.

But then there is rompope, that Costa Rican version of eggnog. The cool, thick, sweet creamy drink goes down so easily, and the store-bought boxes are so available. There is something in the rompope chemistry that makes those suffering from its hangover swear off the drink. Until next year.

New Year's Eve is the traditional time when amateur drunks try out their wings. They felt the pain all day Thursday, and maybe into today.

Costa Ricans tend to use low-cost guaro as a fortifier for many drinks. A guaro hangover is only a few points below that of rompope.

So as the day after New Year's dawns, the time has come to step on a scale. The butter cookies, the rompope, the guaro, the glazed chicken, the pork roast, the honey-baked ham. Indeed, no satisfactory holiday plate can be filled with less than 4,000 calories.

So once the hangover clears, the time has come to make a visit to the gym. Many visits to the gym.

Now it's business as usual

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

With today's edition, A.M. Costa Rica resumes its regular weekly schedule.

The newspaper was not published Christmas Day and New Year's Day. On the other days during the holiday period there were some interesting and important articles. These articles may be accessed by date HERE!

Links to major articles also can be found in the top story box below.

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From A.M. Costa Rica

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From our retirement guide

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan 2, 2015, Vol. 15, No. 1
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Good time
for a swing

The freezing cold may not be obvious, but this is what -19 degrees F looks like. That's -28.3 on the Celsius scale used in Costa Rica. This scene was Wednesday at a rural location south of Denver, Colorado.

Much of the United States is gripped by frigid arctic air.
A.M. Costa Rica/Sarah Hogan

Hot-air device and fireworks blamed for rash of New Year's fires
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire fighters had to handle five structural fires in the waning hours of 2014 and early Thursday. A hot-air globe got the blame for one blaze, and fireworks were blamed for the others.

In addition, fire fighters had to handle nine field fires, a gas leak, a vehicle fire and a short circuit, they reported.

The globe got the blame for a blaze reported at 12:14 a.m. Thursday.  Héctor Chaves, director of the Cuerpo de Bomberos, had been making public statements earlier in the week about these paper hot-air devices.

In Purral de Goicoechea, neighbors saw what probably was a globe landing on one of two homes that were destroyed. A third home suffered significant damage, fire fighters said. That left seven adults and two youngsters homeless, they added.

Chaves said later that the fire agency would seek to have these hot air devices made illegal. He said the big problem is that once launched, there is no control on where they go.

At 11:44 p.m. Wednesday fire fighters said some form of fireworks got into the second floor bedroom of a home in 

Guararí. The stray explosive landed in a basket of clothing, but the blaze was extinguished before it could spread.

At 12:23 a.m. Thursday fire fighters said some form of fireworks got into a bedroom window of a home in Santa Bárbara de Higuito de Desamparados, The intruding device ignited curtains, and about 10 percent of the home suffered damage, said fire fighters. No one was home, but neighbors spotted the fire, they said.

At 12:31 a.m. Thursday another explosive firework got into a storage area in a home in La Fortunita,  Gravilias de Desamparados. Paper and other items ignited, and about 60 percent of the home suffered heavy damage, said fire fighters.
Also in Purral de Goicoechea at 1:02 a.m. Thursday two homes and a shop suffered damage as well as three vehicles, the fire agency said. About half the shop was destroyed.

Fire investigators said they collected remains of fireworks on streets near the blazes. There also was similar evidence found on the roof of the shop in Purral, they said.

Such fireworks are illegal because they explode. But that did not stop thousands of Central Valley residents from launching all sorts of rockets at the beginning of the new year early Thursday.

New Year begins with five violent deaths during the first eight hours
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cruz Roja said it had 14 emergencies and five deaths in the first eight hours of the new year.

The agency said 11 persons were badly hurt, too.

At 28 minutes past midnight Thursday, the agency said two motorcycles collided near Quepos, and two persons were taken to Hospital Monseñor Sanabria.

At 49 minutes into the new year, a vehicle struck and injured fatally a 25-year-old woman in Pérez Zeledón. In Sámara at 1:02 a.m. a man died after being struck by a vehicle.

In Curridabat, rescue agency personnel aided a man who had been shot. That was at 1:34 a.m.

A short time later in Villa Bonita, the agency transported a wounded youth to Hospital de San Rafael de Alajuela. The victim suffered a knife wound.

At 3:02 a.m. in Pueblo Nuevo two motorcycles collided and one person died. Another was injured.

At 3:09 a.m. in Alajuelita an 18 year old suffered a gunshot wound.

In Desamparados de Alajuela the agency took three men to the  Hospital de Alajuela. They were suffering from gunshot and knife wounds.

In Pérez Zeledón at 7:04 a.m. Cruz Roja workers went to the scene of a man stabbed with a knife. The victim was dead.
About an hour later, the same situation developed in Cariari de Limón where the body of a man turned up in a vacant lot, the agency said.

The activity early Thursday was not unusual. Five persons were reported to have died in the early hours of 2014, too. Due to the holidays, more information is not available immediately on the cases.

The agency said that in 2014 its workers were called to the scene of  273 deaths from a gunshot or knife wound. There also were  371 persons who died at the scene or en route to a hospital in traffic mishaps in 2014, the agency said. The agency said that 76  persons drowned in 2014. There were no reports of this type of death as of Thursday.

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, Friday, Jan 2, 2015, Vol. 15, No. 1
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Finger use on smartphones reported to have an effect on brain
By the Cell Press news staff

When people spend time interacting with their smartphones via touchscreen, it actually changes the way their thumbs and brains work together, according to a report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology. More touchscreen use in the recent past translates directly into greater brain activity when the thumbs and other fingertips are touched, the study shows.

"I was really surprised by the scale of the changes introduced by the use of smartphones," says Arko Ghosh of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich in Switzerland. "I was also struck by how much of the inter-individual variations in the fingertip-associated brain signals could be simply explained by evaluating the smartphone logs."

It all started when Ghosh and his colleagues realized that the newfound obsession with smartphones could be a grand opportunity to explore the everyday plasticity of the human brain. Not only are people suddenly using their fingertips, and especially their thumbs, in a new way, but many are also doing it an awful lot, day after day. Not only that, but the phones are also keeping track of  digital histories to provide a readymade source of data on those behaviors.

Ghosh explains it this way: "I think first we must appreciate how common personal digital devices are and how densely people use them. What this means for us neuroscientists is that the digital history we carry in our pockets has an enormous amount of information on how we use our fingertips . . . ."

While neuroscientists have long studied brain plasticity in expert groups, musicians or video gamers, for instance,
 smartphones present an opportunity to understand how regular life shapes the brains of regular people.

To link digital footprints to brain activity in the new study, Ghosh and his team used electroencephalography to record the brain response to mechanical touch on the thumb, index, and middle fingertips of touchscreen phone users in comparison to people who still haven't given up their old-school mobile phones.

The researchers found that the electrical activity in the brains of smartphone users was enhanced when all three fingertips were touched. In fact, the amount of activity in the cortex of the brain associated with the thumb and index fingertips was directly proportional to the intensity of phone use, as quantified by built-in battery logs. The thumb tip was even sensitive to day-to-day fluctuations: the shorter the time elapsed from an episode of intense phone use, the researchers report, the larger was the cortical potential associated with it.

The results suggest to the researchers that repetitive movements over the smooth touchscreen surface reshape sensory processing from the hand, with daily updates in the brain's representation of the fingertips. And that leads to a pretty remarkable idea: "We propose that cortical sensory processing in the contemporary brain is continuously shaped by personal digital technology," Ghosh and his colleagues write.

What exactly this influence of digital technology means for users in other areas of their lives is a question for another day. The news might not be so good, Ghosh and colleagues say, noting evidence linking excessive phone use with motor dysfunctions and pain.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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:

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

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.

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

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

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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

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

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

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

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


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

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A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
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Real estate wanted

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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

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:

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.

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

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  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

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.

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

cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan 2, 2015, Vol. 15, No. 1     
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Sea Shepherd crew finds
another long, illegal gillnet

Special to A.M. Costa Rica
Within two hours of successfully recovering a 25 kilometer-long illegal gillnet abandoned by the vessel Thunder, the Sea Shepherd ship Sam Simon reported that it has located a second monster gillnet.

The second illegal gillnet was found Monday just a few miles from the first net, inside the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources area of management.

Using photographic evidence, Sea Shepherd has been able to confirm that the most recent gillnet is also the property of the Nigerian-flagged, Thunder, which left from the region in mid December.

The crew of Sam Simon has commenced a recovery operation to remove the illegal gillnet from the Antarctic waters. Captain of the Sam Simon, Sid Chakravarty, said, “With more streamlined and efficient operations in round two, I am confident that we will recover the entire length of this net in just a few days. Thereafter I will move on to scout and clear the Banzare Bank of any other nets laid down by the Thunder.”

Based on the the first 24 hours of the retrieval operation, it is expected that the size of the monster gillnet is twice that of the previously confiscated 25 kilometer-long gillnet.

Captain Chakravarty said, “This monster net has entangled and suffocated marine life, killing them in the most undignified way imaginable. My decks look like a battlefield with many of the recovered creatures in advanced stages of decomposition. The large number of dead animals that we have documented is proof of the wide-spread destruction that the Thunder has wreaked over its decade-long onslaught on the Southern Ocean. ”

Sea Shepherd has reported the second retrieval operation to the relevant law enforcement authorities.

A known poaching vessel, the Thunder was issued with an Interpol purple notice following a joint effort by Norwegian, New Zealand and Australian authorities, and is currently included on conservation commission black-list of invnvjnllegal, unreported and unregulated fishing operators.

The use of gillnets has been outlawed since 2004, and the commission has specifically expressed concerns regarding the impact of this fishing method on the marine ecosystems of Antarctica.

The Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, has been in pursuit of the Thunder for 17 days and is now in the South Indian Ocean, having escorted the poachers out of the commission region Monday. During this time the Thunder has been unable to engage in any further illegal fishing.

science project
Voice of America/ T. Banse
Researcher Jimmy O'Donnell at the University of Washington lab bench where he processes eDNA samples.

The word now is eDNA
as device detects life forms

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It's a familiar scene in science fiction stories: Explorers arrive on a new world and quickly determine what's in their surroundings with a high-tech device that checks for breathable air and signs of other life forms.

Here on earth, science fiction is becoming reality through a new sampling technology called environmental DNA, or eDNA for short. It allows scientists, like ecologist Ryan Kelly, to detect rare or invasive species, study biodiversity or estimate fish abundance with just a scoop of air or a dip of water.

"Essentially we can take a sample of soil or air, or in our case, water and we can sequence the DNA out of it and tell you what is there."

That's because all living creatures are constantly shedding or excreting their telltale DNA into the environment. In Kelly's lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, his team filters out and amplifies the genetic material. They are currently working with water samples collected from Puget Sound.

Kelly said the cost of gene sequencing has plummeted in recent years. That makes DNA screening practical.

Environmental DNA can be used in two ways. One is to identify the creatures that live in a certain place. The other is to confirm the presence or absence of a specific critter, typically an invasive or endangered species.

Caren Goldberg, who runs the new eDNA lab at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, is one of the first biologists in the northwestern U.S. to take the tool from demonstration experiments to practical application.

"It is extremely useful for species that are really hard to find," she said, adding, "I have spent many hours looking for species that I was pretty sure were there, looking under rocks, looking in the water, doing all kinds of surveys."

Ms. Goldberg sees the potential to get answers more efficiently, safely and with less destruction compared to traditional survey techniques such as snorkeling, netting or using an electric current to temporarily stun the fish.

"We're absolutely at this point where proof-of-concept has been established," she said. "I don't think everyone is on board necessarily yet, but I think the majority of the people are on board."

In fact, this newer way to figure out what's where is rapidly catching on around the world.  In Vietnam, zoologists are using it to locate the last wild specimens of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle. In Trinidad, a researcher is using eDNA to track down endangered golden tree frogs. And in Madagascar, it's being used to identify amphibian diseases.

For her part, Ms. Goldberg has used the sensitive DNA screening to confirm the local extinction of a leopard frog in northern Idaho. She's also been hired to determine the extent of the spread of the New Zealand mudsnail, a tiny invasive critter that is infesting Washington state's lakes and streams.

Now, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants Ms. Goldberg to look for the Columbia spotted frog in eastern Oregon and Nevada. The rare amphibian is a candidate for federal threatened species listing.  

Field biologists are not going to be replaced by robots just yet, say scientists working with the technology. But the old-fashioned field work could soon be more targeted or prioritized.

"This is not going to replace all the other tools," said Boise-based U.S. Geological Service  ecologist David Pilliod. "It's another tool in the toolbox."

Pilliod described the results of study involving chinook salmon that was just published online in the journal Biological Conservation. He, Ms. Goldberg and lead author Matthew Laramie, another survey scientist from Boise, tested their ability to detect endangered spring chinook in the Methow and Okanogan River basins of north central Washington.

In the study, the eDNA showed high reliability in detecting chinook salmon in places where the fish were known to be present. The molecular sampling also found traces of Chinook in some tributaries where they were not expected.

"One area where eDNA might help is detecting where fish are recolonizing," said Pilliod in an interview.

The federal government and Colville Confederated Tribes, a federally recognized American Indian tribe, are spending millions on recovery plans for upper Columbia River fish runs. Solid information about the distribution of the fish is useful both to measure progress and to allocate habitat restoration grants.

Natural resource managers are looking for evidence that eDNA methods are getting better at reporting what's there with a low number of errors. This has received the most scrutiny in the Great Lakes region where both false positives and missed detections have occurred while monitoring for invasive Asian carp.

A related research goal is to more accurately pin down how long environmental DNA lingers and how far it can drift in different environments. 

Actress Luise Rainer
reported to have died at 104

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hollywood actress Luise Rainer, the first of just five performers to win back-to-back Oscars for acting, has died at her London home at 104.

Her daughter said Ms. Rainer died of pneumonia.

The Austrian-born Ms. Rainer became one of Hollywood's hottest stars after winning consecutive Academy Awards for "The Great Ziegfeld" in 1936 and for playing a Chinese peasant in "The Good Earth" one year later.

Ms. Rainer, however, turned her back on Hollywood and walked out on a lucrative contract when studio bosses refused to let her appear in the films she wanted to do.

Ms. Rainer spent most of her career in Europe, appearing in British films and making only occasional American appearances, including an episode of the TV comedy series "The Love Boat."

The only other actors to win consecutive Oscars are Tom Hanks, Katharine Hepburn, Jason Robards and Spencer Tracy.

2.4 million workers got
 a New Year's pay increase

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

About 2.4 million low-paid workers in the United States got a pay raise on New Year's Day as new minimum wage laws take effect.

In the United States, the minimum pay is $7.25 an hour, which translates to a yearly salary of $15,080.

But 20 of the country's 50 states and the national capital of Washington passed new laws in recent months or had already imposed requirements that now will boost wages above the national level, to an average of $8 an hour, or $16,640 annually.

The wage increases are expected to pump about $1.5 billion annually into the accelerating U.S. economy, the world's largest, because low-wage workers tend to spend most of their paychecks.

President Barack Obama last year called for a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, but encountered stiff opposition from Republican opponents in Congress and the proposal failed.

Numerous new state laws also took effect Thursday in the United States, including one in California that requires college students to give affirmative consent to their partners before engaging in sex. In Michigan, the sale of cough and cold medicines for the purpose of making the drug methamphetamine is now banned, while New York is requiring its residents to recycle old computers and televisions rather than throwing them in the trash.

U.S. economic indicators
still appear to be mixed

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Several economic studies published Wednesday paint a mixed picture of the U.S. economy. 

The Labor Department says the number of people signing up for unemployment compensation rose in the United States last week.  Initial unemployment claims rose 17,000 to a nationwide total of 298,000.  While the number of layoffs rose from the prior week, the relatively low total number is still consistent with an improving job market.

A separate report from the National Association of Relators, a business group, says the number of pending home sales improved slightly in November.  Experts track pending home sales to get a look at the housing market's health and direction.  The association's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, says "consistent economic growth and steady hiring" are giving more families the confidence they need to purchase a home.

Meantime, the Institute for Supply Management, a business group, says business activity in the important Chicago area slowed noticeably, but remains consistent with continued economic growth.   The experts track production, orders, backlogs and other data to gauge the pace of economic activity. 

Russians prepare themselves
for rough new year ahead

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Despite dire predictions about Russia's economy for 2015, many Russians welcomed the New Year with cheers and hopes for a better future. With the sinking value of the ruble, some people say they crave stability more than they do prosperity. But the troubles, including political tensions with the West, seem to have spurred a surge of national pride, something Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to boost with his New Year's message. Hopes for a better future also seem especially high among Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.

The fireworks in Moscow's Red Square on New Year's Eve were greeted with much enthusiasm, recalling better times in Russia.

"We wish the most positive, all the best, for Russia. It will win. Russia is always the best, the most powerful. Russia rules! Hooray! Go Russia!" said one Muscovite.

But sinking oil prices combined with Western sanctions against Russia could lead to an economic recession in the country this year. The value of the Russian ruble has declined by about one-half against Western currencies, bewildering ordinary Russians.

"I looked at the exchange rate every day. It was simply interesting for me to watch this exchange rate that was growing and falling and then growing. But it had no effect on me. When you have nothing you can't lose anything either!" said Elena, a local.

Even President Putin warned Russians of the possible difficulties ahead.

"In the coming year, we will together have to solve many problems.  And the year will turn out the way we ourselves decide to make it. The results will be as effective, creative, as each of us endeavor to make them. There are simply no other recipes,” said Putin.

But while he vowed that Russia will soon overcome its problems, Putin's opponents are predicting a dark future.

"The end is near, the country is at the brink of going down. I have these kinds of feelings. That's why I'm saying that people will take to the street demanding a change to the situation, and we will contribute to this. That's why I think that 2015 is a very important year. I would say it may be a historic year," said Mikhail Kasyanov, a former Russian prime minister and opposition leader.

Russian financial officials say that with some effort, an economic disaster can be avoided.

"Any improvement, even a very small local one, in general policy, is able to strengthen the markets. For example, European sanctions need to be voted upon to be extended, and maybe if Russia doesn't give cause for a strengthening of sanctions, we can get a positive result in that case," said Sergei Romanchuk, who works in the foreign exchange and money market department at Metallinvestbank.

The most recent polls show that President Putin still enjoys strong popular support, between 70 and 80 percent. That support is especially high among Russian speakers in Crimea, a Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia last March and despite shortages of water and electricity they have suffered ever since.

"We came today to the square to celebrate the New Year together with the town, with the people and to see Putin. They have promised they will switch off the light in the apartments, but we really wanted to see the president. So that's why we came: to feel the unity and the mood of the town. And to celebrate the New Year," said a resident of Sevastopol.

The annexation of Crimea and Moscow's support for Russian separatists in the rest of eastern Ukraine have earned Western condemnation and contributed to Russia's economic woes. Some Russians are looking at it philosophically.

"We have got used to being more optimistic, despite everything. Because if you don't laugh, you can go crazy," said Anastasia Khripunova, a student.

Others look at the situation with a sense of humor. One singer asked Santa Claus to send Russians a new and unused president packed in a gift box, with a return label in case he is not satisfactory.
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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

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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.

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Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert

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

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

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

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

Visit our Web Site:

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
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:

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

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 or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.

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.

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.

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  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!

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.

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, for further info or to arrange a viewing.

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  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

Newly available in Roca Verde
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: 2446-5587.

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   Check out slide show HERE!


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:  and


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

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

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.

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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.

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

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan 2, 2015, Vol. 15, No. 1
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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
Man in red
Voice of America/Arash Arabasadi  
 Jim Hoover, who painted his face red and sported a Capitals jersey
 that read 'Man in Red,' attended the game with his wife, Lilly.

Hockey: Way it was meant to be played

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Sunglasses and eye black, a grease applied under the eyes to reduce glare, aren't typically seen at a National Hockey League game, but then again, there are not many professional ice hockey games played outdoors.
The league began staging outdoor games on New Year’s Day in 2008, and the U.S. capital got to host the special event for the first time Thursday. The Washington Capitals defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in a game played at Nationals Park, the home stadium of Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals.

Jim Hoover, who painted his face red and sported a Capitals jersey that read "Man in Red," attended the game with his wife, Lilly.

“This is great. We’ve been waiting for this to come around for a long time," Hoover said. "We were really excited when Washington got to play Pittsburgh a couple years back. And you can just see the number of people here. It’s great. We’ve got great weather here.”

The early-afternoon game time temperature at faceoff was 6 degrees C (43 degrees F), but the ice was kept hard by special refrigerated pipes beneath the surface. The sun shone brightly, and early in the game, the shadows did make following the puck a bit tricky for the players, especially the goalkeepers.

It took more than two weeks of construction to build the ice rink on top of the baseball stadium's field, but for the home fans in the sellout crowd of 42,832, it was well worth it, even though they paid premium prices to attend the big event. They were able to watch their Capitals get the winning goal with only 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation to defeat the Blackhawks, who have the most wins in the league so far this season.

Forward Troy Brouwer, who scored the game-winner, said it was a special day for him in many ways.

“I’ve had some good moments in my hockey career, but this one, with all the intangibles that played a part in it — my parents were able to come into town, playing against my former team, this being the first goal that I’ve scored against my former team, the dramatic fashion at the end of the game, of how everything played out — it's going to be a memorable day," he said.

Early in the game, no one could have predicted such a dramatic finish. Washington took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Eric Fehr and captain Alex Ovechkin. But Chicago battled back, and going into the final period, the game was tied at 2-2. Both teams had late power plays in the final period, but it was the Capitals who capitalized on theirs to get the victory.

Ovechkin said he could not have imagined a better finish.

"I think just the whole day was unbelievable," he said. "This event was outstanding. The atmosphere on the ice from the first second was unreal. You know we’ll remember it all our lives."

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From Page 7:

Prices of oil plunged nearly 50 percent

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

World oil prices plunged the most last year since the 2008 financial crisis.

As markets closed at the end of 2014, the price for both the international benchmark Brent crude drilled in the North Sea and the West Texas Intermediate tapped in the United States had fallen by more than 45 percent for the year.

Almost all of the freefall occurred since June, when prices were above $100 a barrel. By year's end, Brent was trading at $57.33 a barrel and U.S. crude at $53.27.

Analysts attributed the plummeting prices to a glut of oil on the world market, caused by a variety of factors.

The United States and Canada have increased their oil production, aided by fracking technology that allows drilling companies to reach oil deposits deep in shale formations that previously could not be tapped.  U.S. oil production reached nine million barrels a day, the highest level in more than 30 years.

At the same time, economic growth slowed in China, the world's biggest energy consumer, while Japan's economy dropped into a recession and Europe's 18-nation euro currency bloc edged close to a contraction.

But in the U.S., cheaper oil has led to the lowest gasoline prices for motorists in several years, helping accelerate growth in the world's largest economy.

Oil experts say prices could continue to fall in the first quarter of 2015 before rebounding later in the year.