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(506) 2223-1327                             San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 2                            Email us
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Finance minister seeking to make a deal on new taxes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's financial minister said Monday that he is trying to make a deal with lawmakers so that the administration's tax plans are passed.

The minister, Helio Fallas, who also is first vice president, adopted a conciliatory tone in what Casa Presidencial described as an article.

The text was on the presidential Web site.

In it, Fallas, the minster of Hacienda, predicted 4 percent growth for the country this year. But he also noted that a bit more than a third of the national budget was debt service.

What he did not mention is that about half the budget itself is borrowed money.

He said his ministry has increased income and controlled expenses despite what he said was fierce opposition by certain groups opposed to measures against tax fraud introduced in July 2014. The measures still are in the legislature.

He characterized the country's financial situation as stable in terms of inflation, balance of payments and the dollar exchange rate. Still, he said, the current income is not sufficient to offset the historic deficit that has been generated over the years.

He said that he believes lawmakers of all parties except those of  Movimiento Libertario understand the necessity of the financial measures.

"We urgently require a national agreement that achieves, as we plan, a more progressive system that modernizes the laws, introduces control mechanism and closes doors to evasion and avoidance to recover the financial capacity of the central government and guarantee sustainability in the long run," he said.

The Luis Guilermo Solís administration is seeking a 15 percent value-added tax and increases in income tax rates as well as increases in penalties for tax fraud and customs fraud.

Another bridge
with problems

Highway officials have another bridge that is falling part. This one is the Juan Pablo II span on the General Caña Autopista in La Uruca. A chunk of concrete fell out of the eastbound lane over the holidays. Workmen did a temporary fix (right), but now officials want to close the lanes from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. to replace the concrete in the two eastbound lanes.
bridge work
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo

Search system improved for archived news stories
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Readers who conduct searches of A.M. Costa Rica content now have a better system.

Because back editions are archived as a single page, some readers have had trouble finding the news story or photo that they sought even though they knew the date.

Now five years of news stories and photos have been added to the search system from

Search this site here
Go ahead and try it!

A.M. Costa Rica Archives, a site that provides unique identification to all local news stories.

A consolidated search provides results from the archive Web site and also from the 15 years of archived pages on A.M. Costa Rica.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 2
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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.


Marco Cavallini & Associates
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U.S. Income Tax Services
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Ms. Summers
Marlene B. Summers
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Fine art restoration and conservation

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Legal services

Valdivieco header
Lic. Eduardo Valdivieso
your legal adviser for criminal, civil,
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Land surveying services

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Deaths of expats and worker are a mystery

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators are hoping that a medical examiner can tell them why an expat couple and a farmhand died near Sardinal.

The Fuerza Pública encountered the three bodies in the Finca la Flecha after another employee returned from a vacation in Nicaragua and called police.

The dead couple were believed to be Dutch.

Investigators were puzzled by the case. The individuals had been dead some time making it difficult for agents to see any signs of violence.  A vehicle and household goods as well as money remained on the property, which is a forest reserve.

Press release came at the wrong time

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday was  bad day to report that bus stickups had been reduced 32 percent in 2015.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública did that just a few hours before local television stations began airing the murder of a bus driver.

The ministry said that 2015 saw 220 bus stickups in 2015 compared to  325 in 2014.

The most recent bus stickup and murder took place in full view of a surveillance camera. The major television stations got the tapes.

The video shows two young men entering the bus in La Carpio, and one pulled a gun. The second managed to take the foam rubber tray that drivers use to keep coins.

Both the men got off the bus, but the man with the gun was not finished. He seemed distracted. Then he checked his pistol. And without warning he turned to look at the driver again and quickly delivered four shots.

The man died on the way to the hospital.

Bus company representatives were reported to be considering the use of electronic tokens or similar to reduce the amount of money drivers have in their possession.

The low-income La Carpio area is the scene of many such stickups, police said.

The dead driver was identified by the last name of  Cáceres. He was 38.

U.S. files civil suit against Volkeswagen

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit Monday against Volkswagen AG for installing illegal software to make diesel engines meet federal emissions standards in 600,000 suspect vehicles.

A Justice Department statement described the complaint as the first stage in bringing Volkswagen to justice for failing to disclose what it said was a digital defeat device installed in the vehicles.  It also described the civil complaint as a move toward the eventual assessment of civil penalties, and said it does not preclude the possibility of criminal charges against the auto giant.

VW did not immediately comment on the lawsuit, which could eventually cost it billions of dollars in fines.

The company first admitted in September that the cheat software was included in its diesel cars and sports utility vehicles sold since the 2009 model year.  VW is currently negotiating with U.S. regulators for a massive, mandatory recall of the vehicles.

Investigators said the software recognized when emission tests were under way and then activated bogus emissions controls to deceive testing officials.  Findings also showed the same cars then emitted up to 40 times the permissible pollutants when returned to the open road.

VW is also facing a host of private lawsuits from irate diesel car owners seeking compensation for the decreased resale value of the Volkswagen and Audi vehicles that under-reported emissions.

Sugar called a risk for breast cancer

By the University of Texas news staff

The high amounts of dietary sugar in the typical Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs, according to a study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The findings, published in the Jan. 1 online issue of Cancer Research, demonstrated dietary sugar’s effect on mice.

Previous epidemiological studies have shown that dietary sugar intake has an impact on breast cancer development with inflammation thought to play a role.

“The current study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in multiple mouse models, along with mechanisms that may be involved,” said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, a professor. “We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible . . . .”

Identifying risk factors for breast cancer is a public health priority, say the authors.  The researchers state that moderate sugar consumption is critical, given that the per capita consumption of sugar in the U.S. has surged to over 100 pounds per year and an increase in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been identified as a significant contributor to an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and cancer worldwide.

No previous studies have investigated the direct effect of sugar consumption on the development of breast cancer using animal models or examined specific mechanisms, said Peiying Yang, an assistant professor.

The team conducted four different studies in which mice were randomized to different diet groups and fed one of four diets. At six months of age, 30 percent of mice on a starch-control diet had measurable tumors, whereas 50 to 58 percent of the mice on sucrose-enriched diets had developed mammary tumors. The study also showed that numbers of lung metastases were significantly higher in mice on a sucrose- or a fructose-enriched diet, versus mice on a starch-control diet.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 2
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An A.M. Costa Rica perspective
What are the factors that can protect against violence with firearms?

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

A fortunate fact was that my high school locker was of the long variety. Had it been shorter, I might not have been able to stow my shotgun there while I went to class.

Administrators generally frown on kids bring shotguns to school these days, but in the late 1950s  this was no big deal during small game hunting season.

My friends and I would don our red jackets, reassemble the shotguns and head for the fields after classes ended.

This clearly is one of those facts that shows how the world has changed in nearly 60 years.

Many of my fellow high school students were hunters, and the only casualty was a wrestling star who one year took a few birdshot pellets in his leg, thanks to a ricochet.

The western world seems to be divided into two groups: Those who are comfortable with firearms and those who are not. The first group accepts firearms as a necessity, a tool. Like a table saw, these tool have to be used responsibly.

I first fired a pistol when I was 8. My father, once a professional soldier, stacked up some newspaper bales, and I emptied a dozen rounds of .32-caliber slugs into them under his watchful eye.

A few weeks later I watched one of my teachers go ballistic because another students had stuck accidentally three .22-caliber shells in a crack in his desk. She obviously was among the second group.

Time was when most young men faced compulsory military service in the United States. Consequently they received firearms experience in basic training.

Some years later when I was an editor at a daily newspaper in a western Colorado town, we learned that then-president Gerald Ford would drop by for a campaign visit.

An advanced team of Secret Service agents showed up to check out the landscape. No one bothered to tell them that deer hunting season was in full swing.

Every second pickup had a high-powered rifle and scope hanging in the rear window. Washington was in panic. Just as now, the hunters were not those who should be at the top of the worry list.

President Barack Obama made an effort Monday to tighten U.S. gun ownership.  That story is HERE! However, none of the initiatives seems designed to prevent criminals or terrorists from becoming armed.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
The security ministry is proud that it has destroyed more firearms than any other Central American country. Here the minister, Gustavo Mata Vega, and a staffer chop up one.

Obama certainly is aware that the U.S. Second Amendment is not about hunting. The article is there in the Bill of Rights
to protect the people from a repressive government.

In Costa Rica, despite restrictive laws and efforts to tighten them, the illegal gun culture flourishes.

Television viewers were treated Monday to surveillance camera footage from a bus in La Carpio. Two young crooks held up a bus driver and took his money Saturday. When they finished, one thug stood outside the bus and appeared to have exchanged words with the driver. Then the crook aimed and fired four pistol shots into the man at the wheel. The driver died going to a nearby hospital.

There also have been a record number of assassinations by firearms in the country over the last year.

First-class firearms are easily available for a price on the black market here. Younger criminals who lack money make their own rude weapons with pipes and spare pieces of metal.

What Obama and Costa Rican officials have to consider is what are the factors that changed society from one where 16-year-old high school students harm nothing but rabbits and a few squirrels.  Now there are teens who are cold-blooded killers.

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Palermo Hotel


Tarpon lodge

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La Parcela

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Recreo Verde

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!
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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 2
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Brown University/Christopher Anderson
Tiny Rhampholeon spinosus chameleon needs about 20 milliseconds to snag a cricket with its speedy tongue.
The smaller the chameleon, the faster the tongue, researchers find
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The smaller the chameleon, the more powerful the tongue, say researchers.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from Brown University say that a small chameleon that would fit on a thumb can project its tongue from 0 to 97 kilometers per hour in a mere one hundredth of a second.

"Smaller species have higher performance than larger species," said Christopher Anderson, a postdoctoral research associate at Brown. D

Not only do small chameleons outgun their larger relatives, Anderson’s research found that “the motion has the highest acceleration and power output produced per kilogram of muscle mass by any reptile, bird, or mammal and is the second most powerful among any kind of vertebrate.”

Only the salamander can best it.

Chameleons don’t achieve such stunning tongue power from
muscle power alone. By preloading the tongue’s energy into elastic tissues in the tongue, the muscle power is greatly augmented, researchers say.

For his research, Anderson used 20 species of differently sized chameleons and video taped them shooting their tongues at a cricket. This allowed him to measure the tongue’s speed and acceleration.

What he found was that the smaller the chameleon, the higher the “peak acceleration, relative power, and distance of tongue extension relative to body size.”

While all chameleons have the same catapult-like tongue launching mechanism, the smaller ones have a bigger apparatus relative to their body size.

Anderson said there is an evolutionary explanation for this.

Smaller creatures need to take in more energy per body weight to survive. Therefore, the small chameleons need to be very good at catching prey. Super powerful tongues appear to give them the edge they need.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

HIdden Garden 2016
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.

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.


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   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
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Real estate-related services (paid category)
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Real estate rental services (paid category)

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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Real estate for rent (paid category)
Fully Furnished American style Apartments for Rent
2-bedroom, 2- bathroom, fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amó. Cable, Internet, water included. Shared laundry. Convenient to Parque Morazán,
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Real Estate
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 2
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Obama gives executive orders
designed to curb gun violence

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama has unveiled a series of executive orders he says will curb gun violence but will not step on the rights of Americans to lawfully bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Some of the measures, announced by the White House Monday, include expanded background checks, more effective enforcement of gun laws, increased mental health treatment and reporting to the national background check system and more research into gun safety technology.

After meeting earlier with top legal and law enforcement officials at the White House, Obama said he plans to take his case to the American people to explain the series of initiatives he will implement to tighten federal gun control regulations.

The president is scheduled to further outline his initiatives during remarks in the White House East Room today.

Obama presented the recommendations during a White House meeting with top officials including U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey.

“The good news is that these are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch,” said Obama after the meeting.  “But they are also ones that the overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners, support and believe in.”

One key element of the plan includes requiring any business selling firearms, including at gun shows, to get a license and conduct background checks.
“We intend to make this system more efficient and make it more comprehensive,” said Attorney General Lynch on Monday. “The goal is keeping bad actors away from firearms and also to make it easier for authorities to make sure that the gun laws are properly followed and enforced.”
Part of the effort includes increasing by 50 percent the number of FBI personnel who staff the national background check system, said Ms. Lynch.

Recent polls show an increase in the number of Americans who support background checks on those seeking to purchase a firearm. Among other actions, the White House is pushing for stricter background checks.
A new survey by Webster's research center found that 85 percent of gun owners believe there should be background checks for every individual seeking to buy a gun.
Each year, tens of thousands of people are killed by guns in the United States, including in mass shootings and suicides, committed at far greater rates than in other countries around the world, said the president.
The Republican-led Congress opposes more restrictions on gun ownership, and any actions planned by the president likely will face legal challenges.
House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the president’s plan Monday, saying the underlying cause of gun violence is mental illness, and that the gun control measures advocated by the White House will not stop such attacks. Ryan pointed out that Congress has rejected gun control measures supported by the White House.
“The president is at minimum subverting the legislative branch and potentially overturning its will,” said the Republican congressman. “The American people deserve a president who will respect their constitutional rights, all of them.”
But Obama insisted the gun control initiatives he plans are within his power to implement.
The recommendations are “entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and people’s lawful right to bear arms,” Obama said. “We have been very careful recognizing that although we have a strong tradition of gun ownership in this country, that even those who possess firearms for hunting, for self-protection and for other legitimate reasons want to make sure that the wrong people don’t have them for the wrong reasons.”

Bill Clinton on campaign trail
in support of candidate wife

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made his first solo campaign appearance Monday for his wife, Hillary, the former U.S. secretary of State who is the leading 2016 Democratic presidential contender.

The country's 42nd president, whose two terms in office enveloped most of the 1990s, told several hundred voters at a political rally in the northeastern state of New Hampshire that Hillary Clinton offers the best chance of restoring broadly shared prosperity in the United States.

"I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job at a moment of great importance who was better qualified by knowledge, experience and temperament to do what needs to be done now," he said.

He made no direct comment about the leading Republican presidential contender, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, who has attacked both Clintons in recent days. The flamboyant Trump says that Bill Clinton has a terrible record with women, alluding to the former president's marital infidelities and his impeachment for lying about an affair with a White House intern during his tenure in office.

The thrice-married Trump said, "The worst thing Hillary could do is have her husband campaign for her. Just watch."

But the former president remains a popular figure in the U.S. and his wife's campaign says they plan to call on him frequently to speak on her behalf.

U.S. immigration to deport
121 Central American illegals

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. officials say immigration authorities have taken 121 people into custody since Friday, in the first raids targeting the deportation of families who have entered the United States illegally since May 2014.

Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson said the detainees were taken into custody in the states of Texas, Georgia and North Carolina. He described them as members of Central American families who crossed into U.S. territory from Mexico.

Authorities said the detainees already had been ordered removed by an immigration court, after they had exhausted legal means to avoid being sent to their homelands.

Johnson said most were placed in family detention centers in Texas to await deportation.

The White House did not comment on specifics of the apprehensions, which have divided U.S. political leaders and stoked controversy with the American public. But spokesman Josh Earnest said immigration enforcement priorities are focused on deporting felons as opposed to families, while targeting recent border-crossers.

The latest detentions impact only a small fraction of some 100,000 Central Americans, most of them mothers or unaccompanied children,  who began crossing the U.S. border in waves nearly 20 months ago.

Analysts have linked the surge to sharp rises in gang-related violence in Central America, as well as to efforts by people seeking to reunite with family members already in the United States.

The American Civil Liberties Union has condemned the deportations, which were first publicized in late December. An ACLU statement accuses federal officials of targeting families, and using the detentions as a "scare tactic to deter other families fleeing violence in Central America from coming to the United States."

Chinese stock market faces
another bad day of declines

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It’s been a turbulent start to 2016 for global financial markets, with big drops in the value of shares Monday. The sell-off began in China  where concerns are growing over the quickening pace of the slowdown.
Stock markets in the cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen were suspended Monday after falling more than 7 percent on the opening day of 2016 trading.
The sell-off triggered the so-called circuit-breaker mechanism for the first time, a system designed by the Chinese government to prevent volatility by halting trades.

A 64-year-old trader believes the government intervention was unnecessary. He says he is in favor of the circuit breaker mechanism  but the government implementing it on the first day is like testing the market.
It’s the millions of individual Chinese investors, many of them pensioners, who drive volatility, says analyst John Driffill of Birkbeck College University of London.

“The Chinese stock market is populated by a large number of small investors who are very prone to panics and booms and crashes," he said. "They are exchanging information and rumors. These are stock market players with a very short-term perspective. They’re gambling with small amounts of life savings.”

The market drops were driven by a survey showing that activity in Chinese factories contracted for the 10th straight month in December, and at a sharper pace than in November.
"It's just renewed the same fears that dogged a lot of last year's trading, namely that the slowdown in China's economy could be set to speed up,” said Jasper Lawler, who is with the investment group CMC Capital Markets.
Those fears were echoed in European and U.S. markets, which also saw falls of several percent.
Figures due out later this year are expected to show that China posted its weakest economic growth for 25 years in 2015, slipping to around 7 percent.
Analysts say concerns over worsening tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are also weighing on stock markets and driving up the price of oil.

U.S. Supreme Court agenda
has many controversial cases

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the U.S. heads into a presidential election year amid sharpening political divisions, the Supreme Court is set to decide a number of ideologically charged cases in 2016 on topics such as abortion, contraceptives, immigration and union membership.

The sharply divided court is likely to produce a series of 5-4 decisions that will remind voters the next president’s appointees could tip the balance either right or left.

The justices will hear their first abortion case in nearly a decade  deciding whether Texas can enforce two regulations that would force about 75 percent of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down.

One measure requires clinics to use only doctors with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. A second requires abortion facilities to match the standards of an outpatient surgical center.

Both sides have been gathering vivid personal accounts from women to supplement the legal arguments, believing the effort could appeal particularly to swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The case will be argued March 2.

The Court will also decide its fourth case on U.S. President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

This one is a challenge brought by Christian colleges and religious non-profits who contend the law’s requirement that their health plans provide birth control violates their religious beliefs.

The justices combined seven similar cases from groups that include the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns that runs nursing homes.

On Jan. 11, the court will hear oral arguments on whether public employees can be required to join a union or pay it a fee for collective-bargaining services.

The California case challenges pro-union laws in more than 20 states that require all public employees pay a fair share fee to their union, even if they are opposed to the union and refuse to join.

If the lawsuit is upheld, public-employee unions say they could be dealt crippling blows in about half the overwhelmingly Democratic states that allow such agency clauses.

Facebook founder plans
to create robot assistant

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says his new year’s resolution is to build a computerized robot to help him run his home.

“My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work,” he wrote in a post on his Facebook page. “You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man.”

Zuckerberg said he will start by exploring the technology that is already available.

“Then I'll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home, music, lights, temperature and so on,” he wrote. I'll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell.”

He added that the artificial intelligence would also be used to help take care of his newborn baby, Max.

“I'll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max's room that I need to check on when I'm not with her,” he wrote.

Some other leading technologists such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have expressed fear of AI platforms, saying AI could end up turning on humans.

Zuckerberg responded to those fears.

“I think we can build AI so it works for us and helps us,” he wrote. “Some people fear-monger about how AI is a huge danger, but that seems far-fetched to me and much less likely than disasters due to widespread disease, violence, etc.”

Four new chemical elements
have yet to be given names

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Four elements have been added to the periodic table, according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

The elements, which have yet to be officially named, are being called Element 113, Element 115, Element 117 and Element 118.

The new elements also provide a certain symmetry to the periodic table, filling out the seventh row of the chart.

"The chemistry community is eager to see its most cherished table finally being completed down to the seventh row,” said Jan Reedijk, president of the Inorganic Chemistry Division of the International Union.

The elements, which were discovered by teams in the U.S., Japan and Russia, were observed by colliding smaller, lighter nuclei and tracking the decay of the resulting radioactive elements.

“To scientists, this is of greater value than an Olympic gold medal,” Ryoji Noyori, a Nobel laureate in chemistry, told The Guardian newspaper.

Brain-scanning studies map
music's impact on the brain

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Music can evoke all sorts of emotions in listeners' hearts, and in composers' minds.

Brain-scanning studies of artists being creative as they are improvising music, rapping or drawing caricatures showed deactivation in a part of the brain involved in planning and monitoring behavior. Researchers say this is a sign of the flow state that frees up creative impulses.

A new study of jazz pianists shows a greater deactivation in that region when they are working on melodies to convey a happy emotion, rather than expressing a sad or negative emotion.

Improvising somber music activates the brain's reward regions, which reinforce behaviors that lead to pleasurable outcomes. That could mean "that people are getting into more of a groove," according to Malinda McPherson, who led the study. "This indicates there may be different mechanisms for why it's pleasurable to create happy versus sad music."

"The bottom line is that emotion matters," says senior author Charles Limb. The study of the neural intricacies of creativity was published in Scientific Reports.

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Goetl in Palo Seco

Charming small oceanfront hotel for sale in Playa Palo Seco
Ideal oceanfront location with back up to a mangrove estuary. The
charming small hotel has a fully equipped kitchen, bar and restaurant and is exceptionnally well maintained. Located on a very private beach of the central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica 35 minutes north of Quepos-Manuel Antonio and 45 minutes south of  Playa Jacó. The main building is a two-storey house with 12 bedrooms. The lot measures 3,054 M2. Beautiful gardens around the large pool and exceptional flora and fauna. Well mentioned in tourist guides like Lonely Planet and Guide Ulysse. Offered at $999,000. USD
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private ranch home
Small private ranch for sale
This exceptional private ranch sits on a 9+ hectare lot and supports 15-20 horses. Only 2 hours south of San José, on the road to Puriscal. Roomy stalls all with drains, water hookup, lights and fans, grooming and shoeing área. Two-story house all furnished and cowboy house. Don't miss your chance on that turnkey operation.  Offered at $749,000.
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Blakesmore one

Blakemoret  two

Costa Rica tropical paradise beach house for sale

Tropical five-acre forested beachfront property with custom house and guest casita on the Osa Península, south Pacific Coast. Abundant wildlife, exotic plants and fruits, secluded beach.  Located 8 kms. south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $750,000. Contact Roger. Phone number  (506) 6142-7228   Email: Watch this video for full details.

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 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
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A beautiful American style suburban home just reduced.

A beautiful American style suburban home, 2,700 sq ft of living space with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, front and rear living rooms, laundry area, kitchen and small attached library nook, arched windows and doors and connected hallways, exotic wood interior ceilings and trim, tile floors thru-out.  The lot is 835 m2 with mature landscape and orchid nurseries surrounding the house. There is an enclosed workshop and BBQ area in the back yard with lots of storage under roof, plus a nursery for an herb/vegetable garden.  This is a very well-kept property with many upgrades, a private feel but yet only 5 minutes from the center of town.  Pérez Zeledón is the commercial hub of the southern zone and considered to be one of the best places to live in all of Costa Rica, the perfect size town, not too big and not too small.  The beach is 45 minutes to the west and a short drive to the cool mountains is to the east. In between, this large valley has a moderate climate.  Pérez has plenty of modern goods and services, an excellent farmers market, private schools, private doctors and clinics, all you need without having to go to the crazy madness of San José.    Just reduced to $199,000.  Call  Jeff: 8824-8113 or 8725-8176.  Email:

Safe house
The Safest Place in The World
Residencial La Jolla, Asuncion de Belén
Casa 7 of 19 luxury homes in exclusive gated community.
3 bedroom, 3.5 baths, home office with private entrance.
332 m2 construction. 2-car garage. Central A/C
Lease $2,750 USD per month. Purchase $449,000.
Contact: Phone 8309-2000.

ocean-view home
Property size: 3,405.14 sq. mts. or 37,000 sq. ft.   Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft. titled property. This home (240 sq. mtrs or 2,600 sq. ft) has 360-degree ocean and mountain views and electric gated private road access. The large open style home has soaring teak ceillings, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, custom cabinetry and ceramic tiles throughout and a double-car electric garage door. Their is also a beautiful, large swimming pool surrounded by exotic garden, laundry room and bodega. This is a very special and rare property because of the incredible view and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must to see. all custom built furnitures included. Photo gallery:  CLICK HERE!  Please contact Jack, Cell phone number  (506) 8812-1789.  Contact email:


Caribbean paradise: CAHUITA

New home, beautiful well-built house 200 meters from a lovely beach. Very private, fully titled, excellent water well.  2 large bedrooms, 2 full baths, tub, large open floor plan 26-foot sliding glass doors open to covered porch. Encircling back yard are coral rocks 10 feet tall and behind jungle reserve. Lots of birds and wildlife. House 240 mts. sq, 2,400 sq ft. Lot 1,850 mts. or 19,000 sq. ft. Price $179,000. Very nice neighborhood. Contact 2755-0014 or   More photos HERE!

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:

puriscal photo
Costa Rica home for sale $163,500 / 2bedroom - 1,984 ft2

Central Valley view home: 10 minutes from Santiago de Puriscal and shopping, hospital services, and soon Maxi Pali. Only one hour to San José or Pacific beaches.
- On .55-acre lot with river on one boundary
- Area under roof, 1,984 sq. ft., Area inside walls, 925 sq. ft. Steel, recycled
      Styrofoam, and concrete construction.
- 2 ½ years old with central living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths,
       ceramic tile throughout.
- Central Valley volcano and SJO airport views from every room.
- Vaulted ceilings give bright open feeling.
- Entrance from concrete road to large graveled parking area
- VERY energy efficient with VERY low property taxes.
- Covered attached carport with entrance to front door or laundry-guest bath
- 2 carport storage bodegas.
- 12 foot x 14 foot storage bodega
- Security lights, And Amcrest day & night video recorder system.
- Producing banana trees, and mango, bread fruit, and guanabana trees

Includes: Refrigerator, gas stove & oven with electric grill element, microwave, electric washer-gas dryer stacked style, gas on demand whole house water heater. Other furnishings are negotiable. ICE electric service and land line phone. Bajo Burgos Water district. Metro-wireless WiFi is available. Tigo Star Satellite T.V. House is in a Costa Rican corporation, will transfer shares. Contract or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 2
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Video game addicts have different brains

By the University of Utah news staff

Brain scans from nearly 200 adolescent boys provide evidence that the brains of compulsive video game players are wired differently.

Chronic video game play is associated with hyperconnectivity between several pairs of brain networks. Some of the changes are predicted to help game players respond to new information. Other changes are associated with distractibility and poor impulse control.

The research, a collaboration between the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Chung-Ang University in South Korea, was published online in Addiction Biology Dec. 22.

“Most of the differences we see could be considered beneficial. However the good changes could be inseparable from problems that come with them,” says senior author Jeffrey Anderson, associate professor of neuroradiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Those with Internet gaming disorder are obsessed with video games, often to the extent that they give up eating and sleeping to play. This study reports that in adolescent boys with the disorder, certain brain networks that process vision or hearing are more likely to have enhanced coordination to the so-called salience network.

The job of the salience network is to focus attention on important events, poising that person to take action. In a video game, the enhanced coordination could help a gamer to react more quickly to the rush of an oncoming fighter. And in life, to a ball darting in front of a car, or an unfamiliar voice in a crowded room.

“Hyperconnectivity between these brain networks could lead to a more robust ability to direct attention toward targets, and to recognize novel information in the environment,” says Anderson. “The changes could essentially help someone to think more efficiently.” One of the next steps will be to directly determine whether the boys with these brain differences do better on performance tests.

More troublesome is an increased coordination between two brain regions, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal junction, a change also seen in patients with neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, Down’s syndrome, and autism, and in people with poor impulse control.

“Having these networks be too connected may increase distractibility,” says Anderson. At this point it’s not known whether persistent video gaming causes rewiring of the brain or whether people who are wired differently are drawn to video games.

According to Doug Hyun Han, professor at Chung-Ang University School of Medicine, this research is the largest, most comprehensive investigation to date of brain differences in compulsive video game players. Study participants were from South Korea, where video game playing is a popular social activity, much more than in the United States. The Korean government supports his research with the goal of finding ways to identify and treat addicts.

Researchers performed magnetic resonance imaging on 106 boys between the ages of 10 to 19 who were seeking treatment for Internet gaming disorder. The brain scans were compared to those from 80 boys without the disorder, and analyzed for regions that were activated simultaneously while participants were at rest, a measure of functional connectivity.

The team analyzed activity in 25 pairs of brain regions, 300 combinations in all. Specifically, boys with Internet gaming disorder had statistically significant, functional connections between six pairs of brain regions.

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U.S. stock market reacts to Chinese slowdown

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. stock prices fell sharply Monday with major stock indexes closing down by around 1.6 percent in the first full trading day of 2016.   The selloff was sparked by a series of disappointing reports on Chinese manufacturing, and the impact of increased geopolitical tensions on oil prices.  But while some analysts say the Chinese slowdown is likely to have only a limited impact on developed economies, others say what happens over the next few days will be critical.

On Wall Street it was a disappointing start for a brand new new year: a global sell-off sparked by a 7 percent decline in Chinese stocks, one large enough to trigger a so-called circuit breaker that suspended trading in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

New York Stock Exchange head Peter Costa says the reaction in European and American markets was to be expected.

“When you have that kind of move in the second largest economy in the world, it definitely has ripple effects across U.S. markets and European markets as well," he said.

The reason for the sell off:  new data showing Chinese factory activity declining for the tenth straight month  with China likely to post its weakest economic growth in 25 years.

But that was also to be expected.  After all, China’s economy is in the midst of change, says PNC international economist Bill Adams.

“Some of the volatility today is because China is trying to transition away from export-oriented growth towards domestically driven growth," he said.

The pace of China’s transition from an export to a more balanced, service-driven economy has fueled worries about a hard landing for China. But Standard and Poor’s chief economist Beth Ann Bovino says for the U.S. the impact is likely to be limited

“Much of our economy and much of our growth comes domestically.  About 85 percent or so is domestically driven. 15 or so, 10 to 15, comes from what happens abroad.  So even though we’ll feel the hit, say, if there is a hard landing in China, I don’t think it’s enough to really push us into recession," she said.

The big worry on Wall Street is what happens next.

“I think that if you see a continued global sell off and seeing markets retreat tomorrow and Wednesday, that could be a significant situation," said Peter Costa.

Another concern that could drive volatility:  increased friction between Saudi Arabia and Iran that some say could drive oil prices higher, even as demand around the world continues to decline.