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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 8                         Email us
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One of the first Cuban migrants to leave Costa Rica heads to the Daniel Oduber air terminal in Liberia Tuesday night. He is part of a pilot project involving 180 persons.

Our story is HERE!
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Casa Presidencial photo
An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
Please welcome your new and legal  neighbors

Dear Fellow Americans:

In a couple of days the first of some 8,000 Cuban migrants will be presenting themselves at the U.S. southern border.

These are the first few who have been trapped in Costa Rica for nearly two months. They seek a better life, and, unlike many immigrants from the south, they are legal.

The U.S. government decided in 1966 to give a warm welcome to anyone who
managed to flee Cuba and end up in the United States.

We hope that you, too, will give these travelers a warm welcome because from what we can see they are decent people. They are good people with guts because they have made a difficult trip. Most
traveled from Cuba to Ecuador and then overland to Costa Rica. They are men, women and children who have endured a long delay as a result of politics.

We cannot comment on other Cuban migrants elsewhere in the Caribbean, but there have been no reports of criminal incidents or other  inappropriate behavior from the more than 30 public shelters that have been home for these visitors.

Costa Rica is missing a good bet by not enticing some to stay. The United States remains the goal of the migrants because many have relatives there. They chose to vote against the Castro dictatorship with their feet.

And we feel they will make good Gringos.

— The staff of A.M. Costa Rica

Liberación wants to see cuts before voting on taxes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The opposition Partido Liberación Nacional gave a warning to the president Tuesday and said that its legislators demand that he show significant advances in cost-cutting before they will approve a new package of taxes.

The statement from the party's members in the legislature noted that President Luis Guillermo Solís in a television speech Sunday asked lawmakers to approve the tax package.

"It would interest us to know what is the position of the government in terms of pensions, public employment and salaries, which are important, before saying that the taxes are going to be approved and above all to tell us, the Costa Ricans, how they will be used," said Julio Rojas Astorga, head of the party's legislative members in the prepared statement.

He said that lawmakers do not have all the responsibility for the eventual approval of taxes and the central government should give clear signals that there is a strategy to resolve the problems with public finance, he added.

The party leader noted that his group of lawmakers supports efforts to fight against tax evasion and smuggling. But for new taxes there needs to be a national dialogue, his statement said.

Under the last two presidents, both members of Liberación, public employment mushroomed. Lawmakers also have been embarrassed by television reports of large monthly pensions for certain retirees. They also have moved to cut pensions of some former legislators.

The country's budget is half borrowed money, and the annual deficit is in the neighborhood of 5 percent of the gross domestic product.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 8
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Legal services

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your legal adviser for criminal, civil,
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Flag wavers
Casa Presidential photo
Migrants display a Costa Rican and Cuban flag

Departing Cubans become television stars

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As expected 180 Cubans arrived at Daniel Oduber amid television cameras. They were scheduled to leave on an Avianca aircraft for El Salvador.

Costa Rican officials estimated that the first group of migrants would arrive at the Mexican border later today.

The departure from shelters in northern Costa Rica was a day-long media event complete with travelers hugging those with whom they had spent nearly two months in communal living.

The foreign minister, Manuel González, emphasized in an evening press conference that the departure of the Cubans showed that Costa Rica had responded to the migrant crisis as a defender of human rights.

The departure made the international news wires.

There still are some 8,000 Cubans remaining in Costa Rica, and about 45 plane trips will be needed to carry them all to El Salvador and the waiting buses.

One of the reasons that the first 180 Cubans were selected for the pilot program was based on their ability to pay. The trip cost about $550 a person, including the cost of visas at El Salvador and Guatemala as well as the $29 Costa Rican exit tax.

Officials still have to decide how they will handle the Cubans who may not have the money needed for a trip.

Traffic police prepare for Palmares

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fiestas Palmares begin today, and so does a traffic police effort to enforce the laws on those who travel to the community.

The head of the Policía de Tránsito, Mario Calderón, said that as many as 110 officers will be fielded on days when the festival has major attractions.

That included Thursday when the tope horse parade is held as well as the carnival Jan. 22.

Then there are the concerts Sunday and Jan. 24. There also will be traffic police assigned to patrol inside the festival grounds to enforce parking rules and handle any accidents.

Police usually set up checkpoints on the major routes to Palmares.

For years the Palmares festival provided easy pickings for traffic police seeking to detain drunk drivers. With stiffer penalties under the latest traffic law, more motorists are cutting back on the beer. The agency said that officers confiscated just 39 vehicles from drunk drivers last year. But they also handed out more than 1,000 traffic tickets.

The agency said that there will be strict enforcement even to catching motorists with something in the hand while driving. Usually motorists consider this to mean a cell telephone, but police said that the law extends to holding a can of soda while driving.

And special attention will be paid to protective seats for minors.

Those festival goers who enjoy the beer tents and similar activities usually take public buses. There are several charter services offering Palmares trips.

Plaza Real Cariari plans traditional rezo

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Plaza Real Cariari plans to present a rezo del Niño Sunday at 2 p.m. Some 17 Parishioners of the Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in Aurora de Heredia will present a live nativity scene to dramatize the ceremony.

This is a traditional prayer ceremony that is held all over the country each year to mark the end of the Christmas season and the disassembly of the nativity scene.

News for the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 8
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radar setup
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo
Getting material onto the island can be difficult. There are no deep harbors.
Isla del Coco radar expected to go into service March 16
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new radar setup on the Isla del Coco is expected to enter into service March 16.

The system is designed to spot drug smugglers, illegal fishing crews and other crimes on the high seas.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said Tuesday that the hardware for the radar has arrived and was being stored by customs officials. The equipment will go to the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas station in Caldera where it will undergo tests.

This has been a difficult job with workers braving jungle heat
 and pests to construct a site on a peak.

The Coco radar station cost $3.6 million and has been financed by donations by Conservation International, the Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre and government agencies.  It has a reach of some 35 nautical miles.

The area around the island is a protected zone but there are many cases of illegal fishing there because the ocean is populated densely by marine life.

Eventually the government envisions 13 radar stations on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. There is one already at Caldera.

That was financed by the U.S. Southern Command.

Health ministry says that latest total of swine flu deaths is 24
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The recent death toll due to the AH1N1 virus is now 24. The  Ministerio de Salud updated the figures Tuesday.

All of those who died had complicating medical conditions, said the ministry. The numbers have increased as lab reports have been returned.

In addition, one of the victims died at home.

Two children died at the Hospital Nacional de Niños. The

Hospital de San Carlos saw six deaths.

Five patients died at the Hospital de Alajuela and three persons died at the Cartago public hospital.

Except for two victims listed as having lived in Atenas, all of the victims came from different communities, according to a summary provided by the ministry.

Fernando Llorca Castro, the minister of Salud, said that there are clear indications that the number of the swine flu cases is diminishing.

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Sex stimulants found to have side effects and possibly ineffective
By the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center news staff

From horny goat weed to ginseng and maca, over-the-counter dietary supplements sold to improve male sexual performance contain a wide variety of so-called natural ingredients. Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center reviewed the scientific evidence for the most common ingredients to determine if they are effective and safe.

“While certain natural supplements we reviewed show promise for improving mild sexual dysfunction, they lack robust human evidence,” said Ryan Terlecki, associate professor of urology and senior author. “In addition, because of concerns that some products are impure or weak, we do not routinely recommend these products to our patients.”
For some products, there is no scientific evidence to support claims that can positively impact erectile function, libido and sexual performance. And perhaps most troubling, some products that are advertised as being natural contain traces of phosphodiesterase-5-inhibitors, the same class of medication that includes prescription drugs such as Viagra, used to treat erectile dysfunction. One study revealed that 81 percent of tested samples of over-the-counter products purchased in the U.S. and Asia contained such traces.

“PDE5Is cannot yet be legally sold over the counter in this country,” said Terlecki. “Men who use these medications without a physician’s supervision run the risk of taking them inappropriately. Patients with advanced heart disease, for example, or who take nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, should not use PDE5Is as it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. Likewise, men with severe liver impairment or end-stage kidney disease requiring dialysis should avoid these products.”
In addition, Terlecki said, men with enlarged prostates who take medications such as Flomax (tamsulosin), terazosin or doxazosin need to know how to time the dosing of the two medications to avoid causing dizziness and potential falls, which may result in fractures.

An estimated 40 to 70 percent of men experience some form of sexual dysfunction during their lives. Due to concern regarding costs of prescription drugs or embarrassment over discussing sexual concerns with their physicians, some men turn to over-the-counter products. According to a recent nationwide survey, 50 percent of respondents reported using dietary supplements for a variety of conditions.
“There is a dizzying array of formulations available and the health effects of nutraceuticals are often confusing to patients and medical practitioners alike,” Terlecki said. “We reviewed the current evidence available for each of the ingredients in top-selling men’s health products to provide urologists with a guide they could use to counsel their patients.

“Patients are paying more than $5 per day to take products with no proven effectiveness,” he said. Products included in the survey ranged in cost from 83 cents to $5.77 per day.
In addition to the lack of scientific evidence for some products, Terlecki noted that purity is also a concern. Because dietary supplements are currently classified as foods, rather than drugs, it is the manufacturers themselves who are largely responsible for ensuring the safety, purity and efficacy of the products. Four major retailers have been targeted by the New York attorney general for selling misleading supplements.

Below, the authors summarize some of the results of an
drugs and money
Many persons are paying for untested products.

extensive literature search for ingredients in top-selling products:
DHEA (didehydroepiandrosterone) seems relatively safe as the data does not show a significant impact on hormone levels. The data is weak to suggest a benefit.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is seen in about a third of the top-selling men’s health supplements. One study noted a benefit in terms of improving sexual arousal and orgasm, as well as muscle strength, energy and well-being. There were no adverse events reported in that study and other studies also show this to be a safe supplement.

Ginkgo Biloba has been marketed to treat numerous conditions. There is no convincing data to support its use in men with erectile dysfunction. It can cause headaches, seizures and significant bleeding, especially if patients are taking Coumadin.

Ginseng is the most common ingredient in top selling men’s health supplements. It can cause headache, upset stomach, constipation, rash, insomnia and can lower blood sugar.
Horny Goat Weed (epimedium from Berberidaceae family) is generally safe with rare reports of toxicity (fast heart rate and hypomania). There is no evidence in humans of benefit for sexual function.

L-arginine is the most common amino acid seen in men’s health supplements, also in about a third of top sellers. It has the theoretical potential to improve erectile function in some patients and seems relatively safe. It has been associated, however with a drop in blood pressure, but without a significant change in heart rate.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is the most common vegetable among top selling men’s health supplements. It is a Peruvian plant. In animal research, use of maca was associated with increased sexual behavior. There have been rare reports of toxicity, such as mild increase in liver enzymes and blood pressure.

Tribulus (Zygophyllaceae): No evidence of benefit in humans. There are two reports of liver and kidney toxicity in young men taking high doses of this plant.
Yohimbine (an extract from an African tree) has shown promise for improving male sexual function in some studies.
This drug has been used for a long time. It can cause hypertension, headache, agitation, insomnia and sweating.

Zinc appears to be safe, but there is no evidence of benefit in normal individuals. Zinc deficiency is very rare in the U.S.

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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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 
1- to 3-bedroom ocean and garden view timeshares available and most offer air conditioning, cable TV, fully equipped kitchens, and relaxing hammocks on private balconies. Enjoy the unique combination of seclusion and convenience as all resorts listed on our site are close to popular Costa Rican attractions and downtown 
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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
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Real estate for rent (paid category)
Fully Furnished American style Apartments for Rent
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A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 8
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Pentagon expects that Iran
will release detained sailors

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The crews of two small U.S. Navy vessels being held by Iran will be released early Wednesday morning Gulf time, defense officials have told multiple news sources.

The 10 crew members, nine men and one woman, were traveling in the Persian Gulf between Kuwait and Bahrain when U.S. controllers lost contact with them.

"There may have been mechanical failure on one of the vessels, but it is unclear at this time," a defense official said. "My assumption is that they were in Iranian territorial waters when they were detained."

President Barack Obama did not mention the situation in his annual State of the Union speech Tuesday, but he did mention a nuclear agreement reached last year between Tehran and Western powers, saying the world has avoided another war.

The agreement is expected to be implemented in the coming days, following Iran's steps taken to curb its nuclear activities. Western governments have agreed in return to lift long-standing economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The Pentagon said Iran had provided safety assurances and promised to "promptly allow the crews to continue on their journey.

But Voice of America's Persian service said that the Iranian news service, the Fars news agency, was reporting that the crew members had been arrested.

U.S. officials said the incident happened in the Persian Gulf near Farsi Island, located about halfway between the gulf coast of Saudi Arabia and the Iranian mainland.

Farsi Island is home to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps naval base, which may be why the sailors were quickly detained, Matthew Kroenig, a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said Tuesday.

“Most countries would do the same thing if foreign sailors came that close to a naval base,” Kroenig explained.

The news came less than a month after U.S. officials accused Iran of conducting a highly provocative rocket test near U.S. boats passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

A senior administration official said Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by telephone at midday Tuesday with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif, shortly after the incident unfolded.

The detention also came just hours before President Barack Obama was to deliver his final State of the Union address to Congress and the public.  Part of his speech was expected to address congressional concerns about a nuclear agreement reached last year between Tehran and Western powers.

The deal is set to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for Western governments' lifting of long-standing economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

White House says president
will veto Iranian sanction bill

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The White House says a bill that seeks to bar the U.S. from lifting certain sanctions against Iran would violate commitments necessary to implement the international agreement to limit the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran made the deal with the U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany last year to cut back its nuclear activity and allay concerns it was trying to build nuclear weapons.  In exchange, those countries agreed to lift economic sanctions they imposed because of the alleged nuclear arms work.

The legislation in the House of Representatives would prohibit removing sanctions against individuals and companies until the president certifies they were not involved in transactions with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a terrorist organization, or anyone whose property has been blocked in relation to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget said President Barack Obama's administration strongly opposes the bill and would veto it if the House and Senate both approve the measure.

A policy statement released Monday said the bill would prevent the U.S. from fulfilling its commitments by linking the nuclear deal with unrelated issues.  It said those included past activities and individuals who would no longer be subject to sanctions once the agreement goes into effect.

The consequences, according to the White House, include the potential "collapse of a comprehensive diplomatic arrangement that peacefully and verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."

Opponents of the nuclear deal have said it gives Iran far too much relief, unlocking billions of dollars while leaving the country with too much of a nuclear program to trust it will not try to make nuclear weapons.  Iran has long insisted its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The Office of Management and Budget statement said the White House remains clear-eyed about the concerns of Congress and the American people, and reiterated that lifting sanctions tied to the nuclear program would not effect the sanctions enacted against Iran for other reasons.

"Powerful sanctions targeting Iran's support for terrorism, its ballistic missile activities, its human rights abuses, and its destabilizing activities in the region remain in effect," read the statement.

Iranian media said Monday the government had begun work to dismantle the core of the Arak heavy water reactor, one of the steps it must complete with verification from U.N. monitors in order to get the sanctions relief.

High Court voids process
for Florida's death penalty

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Florida's process for sentencing people to death violates the constitutional rights of criminal defendants because it gives too much power to judges and not enough to juries to decide capital sentences.
The 8-1 ruling said that the state's sentencing procedure is flawed because juries play only an advisory role in recommending death while the judge can reach a different decision.
The court's ruling means inmate Timothy Hurst, 37, could be re-sentenced, potentially avoiding the death penalty sentence he received following his conviction for the 1998 murder of his manager at a fried-chicken restaurant in Pensacola.

The decision could also trigger new sentencing appeals from some of the 390 inmates on Florida's death row, a number second only to California.

Florida's solicitor general argued that the system was acceptable because a jury first decides if the defendant is eligible for the death penalty.

The ruling's direct impact is largely limited to Florida and does not touch upon the bigger and more divisive question of the constitutionality of the death penalty in general.

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing on behalf of the court's majority, said the right to an impartial jury guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's Sixth Amendment "required Florida to base Timothy Hurst's death sentence on a jury's verdict, not a judge's fact-finding."

2016 expected to be big year
for Islamic State terrorism

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Western intelligence agencies are increasingly worried that Islamic State militants will soon find ways to carry out more and increasingly sophisticated attacks on Europe and the United States, using November's terror attack on Paris as a blueprint.

"2016 is going to be the year where we wish we could get back to 2015," said Patrick Skinner, a former U.S. intelligence officer now with The Soufan Group, a strategic security intelligence consultancy.

"It's far too easy for a fighter to go from Raqqa to Europe, and you would think that would be really hard to do," he said.

Analysts have long warned that the Islamic State had the ability to direct attacks on Western targets from its home base in Syria and Iraq. But they say the Paris attack showed the group was capable of putting that ability into action, using both former foreign fighters and radicalized individuals to kill 130 people in a coordinated fashion.

Already, French and British officials have warned that the group is actively planning new mass casualty attacks in Europe. One unnamed French senior counterterrorism official told the French news agency that the Islamic State is aiming for a European 9/11.

U.S. officials are equally concerned, pointing to the Islamic State's growing emphasis on external operations as it devotes more people and resources to those missions. The FBI says online calls for attacks against American targets, especially against soldiers and law enforcement, have also continued unabated.

"ISIL's opportunistic nature goes beyond Iraq and Syria," a U.S. counterterrorism official said, using an acronym for the terror group. "It's no surprise that it used its foothold to plot against the West."

Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell warned U.S. lawmakers Tuesday not to underestimate the Islamic State.

"Sometimes it's really important to listen to what your adversary tells you," he told the House Armed Services Committee.

"ISIS has told us they're going to attack us here," he said, referring to the group by one of its other acronyms. "Unless they are degraded, they will succeed."

To date, U.S. and coalition forces have launched almost 10,000 air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, destroying more than 18,000 targets and killing more than 20,000 fighters.

U.S. military officials also say the group has lost 20 to 30 percent of the territory it once held.

Yet lost fighters have been replaced, counterattacks have been launched and new terror plots are being hatched, leading some to wonder if degrading the Islamic State will be enough.

"A lot of our assumptions are based on that if we defeat them militarily, which is a categorical imperative, we have to do that, that it will result in defeat on the other battlefields of social media and lone wolves and small cells," Skinner said. "I don't think that's accurate. I think the lag time, if they are connected, is going to be a lot longer than we're going to tolerate."

Some current U.S. officials are also cautious, saying that even once the Islamic State's self-declared caliphate is destroyed, it will take an additional effort, a second war, to destroy the Islamic State terror group.

"We're just getting started," former CIA Director James Woolsey said during an interview in November. "We will be seeing ISIS one way or another in Europe, and perhaps in North America, for a long time to come."

Jihadists in West instructed
to try to look like Christians

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Islamic State extremists are advising their supporters and recruits in the West to shave their beards and pretend to be Christians to help evade detection by intelligence services as they plot so-called lone wolf terror attacks.

In 58 pages of do’s and don’ts for aspiring terrorists, an online manual adapted from a handbook once issued by its extremist rivals in al-Qaida, the Islamic State group tells supporters to encrypt their emails, recommends which cellphone apps are secure, and tells them how to ensure they can blend in with a crowd of Westerners. It even includes advice on wearing aftershave.

Displaying a cross or crucifix is a good way to avoid suspicion, Islamic State suggests, but not in every case.

“It is permissible ... for you to wear a necklace showing a Christian cross,” the manual reads, but it warns converts to skip that subterfuge “if you have a Muslim name on your passport," because "that may look strange.”

That bit of advice is amusing to analysts who have read the 12-chapter manual, entitled “Safety and Security Guidelines for Lone Wolf Mouthpiece and Small Cells.”

Overall, the text demonstrates the Islamists' determination to plot or inspire terror attacks, however, such as the mass attacks in Paris in November that killed 130 people, or the San Bernardino massacre in December, when a husband-and-wife team in California gunned down 14 people.

“We present you this modest work for lone wolf mouthpiece and small cells of brothers who want to bring victory . . . " the introduction to the manual says, noting that it was adapted from a series of 30 lectures by Abu Cabbalah al-Adam about safety and security in jihad work. He was a senior figure in the al-Qaida network and served as the terror group's intelligence chief until he was killed in a 2013 U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The propagandists note, “If you can avoid having a beard, wearing kameez [a long tunic], using miswak [a twig to clean teeth, as recommended by Prophet Mohammed] and having a booklet of dhikr [devotional phrases and prayers] with you, it is better,” the manual advises.

“Don’t use the oily, non-alcoholic perfume that Muslims use; instead use generic alcoholic perfume as everyone does. And if you are a man, use perfume for men [men's cologne or after-shave lotion].”

The guide urges militants to work only with each other, and tightly limit information about upcoming attacks. They also are advised to avoid mosques and Islamic gatherings to avoid attracting attention or prompting security interest.

In the wake of the attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, Western intelligence agencies monitored mosques, especially those with radical reputations, and active jihadist groups have long advised supporters to stay away from them.

More recently, jihadists in the West are thought to have resorted to worshiping at unofficial mosques.

Since the Paris attacks, and subsequent security alerts in Belgium, Italy and Germany, Europe’s intelligence services and politicians have been turning their attention to hundreds of unofficial or unlicensed makeshift mosques, operating in apartments and homes in migrant-dominated areas.

Politicians in several EU countries including France and Italy, where the government estimates 800 makeshift mosques are operating, are exploring legal ways to force their closure.

Since the Paris attacks, intelligence services and police forces are demanding more powers and more personnel. They also want looser rules on data collection and an easing of regulations governing house searches and raids.

Islamic State leaders are not unaware of this, and they have been cautioning their supporters in the West to keep a low profile, especially when it comes to posting their messages or thoughts on such sites as Facebook and Twitter. 

Last month, for example, a pro-Islamic State Twitter account under the name Mustafa al-Iraqi offered this guidance to the terror group's recruits:
Rule #1: Don't ever type stuff like 'kill all kuffar' [or] 'it's permissible to kill kuffar' [a derogatory Arabic term for non-Muslims]. Don't even use the word "kill" if you're living in the West.”

Rule #2: Don’t ever talk about hijra [or hegira, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca]. If you're going to do it or know how to do it, don't even let your left hand know that you know.

Rule #3: if you live in a country that is in direct war with IS, don't use social media & talk about IS unless you have taken precautions.

Rule #4: Don't ever propagate [spread and promote news about] IS attacks. Don't show that you're happy about it if you haven't taken precautions. Report it normally.
Anxiety among security experts also is on the increase because hundreds of battle-hardened veterans of the civil war in Syria have been returning to Europe, and hundreds or even thousands more could be going home to Europe in the future.

Intelligence analysts say one of their biggest fears is the possibility of multiple, simultaneous attacks across Europe this year, a European 9/11, as Yves Rotenone, a former analyst for France's DIGS intelligence service, puts it.

“I know that in European capitals, particularly London, specialized services are working on this theory,” Rotenone said. “If the quality of the attackers improves, we will have a problem. Maybe we will say that 2015 was just a rehearsal."

Two polls show Sanders leads
Mrs. Clinton in two key states

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two new political surveys in the U.S. show that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has moved ahead of the presumed 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in both of the states where voting is set to start next month.

Sanders, who describes himself as an independent socialist Democrat, is edging Mrs. Clinton in Iowa, a middle-of-the-country farm state, by 49 to 44 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of Iowa Democrats released Tuesday.

Iowa voters, both Democratic and Republican, are holding party presidential caucuses Feb. 1, the start of the lengthy state-by-state contests to pick party nominees for November's national election.

In New Hampshire, a rural state in the northeastern U.S. where party primary elections are scheduled Feb. 9, the latest Monmouth University poll showed Sanders soaring to a 53 to 39 percent advantage over Mrs. Clinton.
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Rich Coast Rollover
Thinking of Buying a Vacation or Retirement Home
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Rich Coast Realty is a full-service real estate company with property listings in Escazú, Santa Ana, Jacó, Esterillos, Bejuco, Palo Seco, Manuel Antonio, and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. We work hard to find you the property of your dreams, and assist with legal advice, residency, starting corporations, opening bank accounts, etc. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in, and relocating to Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate, we look forward to hearing from you.
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

La Uruca condo
Situated three miles west of the capital, eight miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, six restaurants,  next to two bus line stops. Car ownership is not needed. January-March air temperatures are 72 to 80 degrees F. Apartment 1,200 sq. ft (100 sq. meters), on ground floor, indoor  patio. Large windows without bars, parquet floors. Spacious living room-dining area, two bedrooms, maid's room, two bathrooms, four closets  (including walk-in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine, small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools).  Many amenities, (pictures, indoor plants, sewing machine, books, keyboard, dishes, glassware, silverware). Annual cost of maintenance about $1,350 includes water, landscaping service, garbage disposal, 24-7 security and property taxes. Price $120,000. Available for viewing:  Mid-January to beginning of April. Contact:  USA :  585 544-4296. Costa Rica : 506 2231-0410

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:

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
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

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
or call (506) 8707-1037  (506) 2778-8408

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.
E-mail:  or call (506) 8707-1037 
(506) 2778-8408 Web:

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: 
Check out slide show HERE!

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:


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

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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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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 8
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Obama delivers an optimistic report

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In his seventh and final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted his accomplishments and focused on his vision for the future in an optimistic speech that attempted to define his legacy as he enters his final year in office.

Addressing a packed House of Representatives chamber Tuesday in the U.S. Capitol, Obama appeared relaxed and his tone was largely positive as he focused on the need to heal the country's deep political divides.

The one solid promise was to cure cancer, and he appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead the efforts.

The president took several swipes at his critics, on several occasions offering indirect but harsh criticisms of the Republican rivals who are vying to replace him as president in the ongoing 2016 election campaign.

In particular, Obama slammed "politics that targets people because of race or religion," a statement seen as a criticism of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, the blunt-talking billionaire who wants a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.

"When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is bullied, that doesn't make us safer. That's not telling it like it is. It's just wrong," he said. "It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.”

Obama also hit out at his domestic opponents on economic issues, saying "anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction."

"Gas under two bucks a gallon ain't bad, either," he said, to applause.

On foreign policy, Obama acknowledged the threat posed by terrorist groups, including Islamic State, which has carried out a series of high-profile attacks around the globe. But he said that "masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped," he said. "But they do not threaten our national existence."

Obama also cited other foreign policy accomplishments, including stopping the spread of ebola in West Africa, forging the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, restarting diplomatic relations with Cuba, and sealing the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama also called on fellow lawmakers to join him in efforts to combat global warming, an issue he said was crucial to protecting national security.

"If anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it," he said. "You'll be pretty lonely."

Obama's speech did not mention Tuesday's incident in which 10 U.S. sailors were detained by Iran, after apparently straying into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.

Obama acknowledged that the expectations are low for his final year in office, but vowed he will not stop working to achieve his policy goals.

"Fixing a broken immigration system, protecting our kids from gun violence, equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage - all these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done," he said.

The Republican response to Obama's speech was delivered by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has been rumored as a possible vice presidential choice for the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

Gov. Haley accused the president of not living up to his soaring words.

"As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We’re feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities," Gov. Haley said.

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Crude oil hits its lowest price in 12 years

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Abundant crude oil and weakening energy demand from China's huge economy helped push global crude oil prices down Tuesday to the lowest level in 12 years.

Prices briefly fell below $30 a barrel, a drastic fall from costs that exceeded $100 a barrel at the peak in June 2014.

A U.S. oil industry trade group has said low oil prices are already cutting investment in production facilities and that will eventually crimp output.

In a report published Tuesday, government experts said U.S. crude oil production will fall almost 700,000 barrels per day this year, the first annual decline since 2008.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says U.S. motorists will probably pay a bit less than 53 cents a liter (around $2 per U.S. gallon) for gasoline this year.  They also predict low oil and natural gas prices and mild winter weather will bring lower heating bills for many Americans this winter.

Low prices are expected to slow growth in natural gas production during the next two years, while U.S. gas exports are set to rise.

The energy experts also say low natural gas prices are facilitating a shift away from coal in electricity generation, prompting a decline in U.S. coal production.  Meanwhile, the use of renewable energy sources for electric generation is predicted to grow about 10 percent this year.