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Pubished Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 10
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Guaro riders

Riders sponsored by the Fábrica Nacional de Licores  risk sunburn at the Fiestas de Palmares tope Thursday to promote the Cacique brand of guaro. The horse parade was the beginning event of celebration that runs until Jan. 23.

Our story is HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica/Thomas Ropp

Obama closes the door to more Cuban migrants
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with wire service reports

U.S. President Barack Obama pulled the plug on Cuban migrants who may be passing through Costa Rica on their way to the United States. The president announced a change in immigration policy that removed the official welcome mat that had been put out for refugees from the Communist island.

An unknown number of Cubans still are in Costa Rica, including 10 detained this week by police. One group was being smuggled in the bed of a truck that also carried gas cylinders. Five more were found in a boat at the public dock in Golfito.

They represent the tail end of a stream of more than 8,000 Cubans that traveled to Costa Rica and then faced a border that Nicaraguan officials closed in November 2015. The Costa Rican government and other Central American governments worked to airlift many of them over Nicaragua so they could continue their trip north.

Many more have been smuggled through Costa Rica.

Since October 2012, more than 118,000 Cubans have presented themselves at ports of entry along the border, according to statistics published by the Homeland Security Department, including more than 48,000 people who arrived between October 2015 and November 2016, according to wire service reports.

Many of the Cubans had been flying from their island to Ecuador and then going by a land route through Colombia and then into Panamá to reach Costa Rica.

Former President Bill Clinton approved the  so-called wet foot, dry foot policy in 1995, when Cubans who were returned home after trying to escape were subjected to harsh treatment and more repression. That meant that any Cuban who reached the U.S. land borders or set foot on U.S. soil after arriving by boat could stay.

Cuban officials were correctly concerned by the loss of so many productive citizens. Officials in Havana were believed to have prevailed on Nicaragua to close the border. Cuban officials also requested that Ecuador begin requiring visas for Cubans who arrived there, thereby reducing the flow of migrants.

Cuban migrants were replaced by thousands of Haitians and some Africans and Middle Easterners who followed the same paths through Central America. All were aware that Donald Trump promised to strengthen U.S. border controls when he takes office a week from today.

Even now interdiction efforts at the border are
lax, and most migrants who reach the Texas, Arizona or California lines have no trouble entering the United States.

Obama said in a statement that the 20-year-old policy was designed for a different era.

“By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries,” he said. “We will continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants from other nations, consistent with our laws.”

Obama called it an important step in normalizing relations with Cuba. The president said Cuba has agreed to take back Cuban migrants who arrive in the U.S. without permission, the same way it has been accepting migrants whom the U.S. Coast Guard picks up at sea.

Obama said the Department of Homeland Security also is ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which allowed Cuban doctors and medical professionals working in a Third-World country to enter the U.S.

Obama said they may now apply for asylum at U.S. embassies the same way any foreign national would. Officials said the changes would not affect a lottery that allows 20,000 Cubans to come to the U.S. legally each year.

The Cuban government praised the move. In a statement read on state television, it called the signing of the agreement an important step in advancing relations’ between the U.S. and Cuba that aims to guarantee normal, safe and ordered migration.

Obama is using an administrative rule change to end the policy. Trump could undo that rule after becoming president next week. He has criticized Obama’s moves to improve relations with Cuba. But ending a policy that has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to come to the United States without a visa also aligns with Trump’s commitment to tough immigration policies.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, noted an uptick in Cuban migration, particularly across the U.S.-Mexico border, an increase many have attributed to an expectation among Cubans that the Obama administration would soon move to end their special immigration status.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat whose parents were Cuban immigrants, said Thursday’s announcement “will only serve to tighten the noose the Castro regime continues to have around the neck of its own people.”

Menendez complained that Obama did not consult with Congress and said the ill-conceived changes in the country’s Cuban policy only reward the regime with an economic lifeline.
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A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
Unlike their competitors, these taxis, part of the so-called flota roja, charge by the distance, putting them at a disadvantage.

Some are irked at closing of bridge lanes

By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Drivers and commuters have some sour views on the closing of the Río Virilla bridge and the effect that it has had and will have on their business.

In addition to the planned 24-hour shutdown that ended early about midnight, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes announced Wednesday night that the bridge’s eastbound lanes will be out of commission for six weeks beginning Jan. 21. The reason is that workmen have to replace the concrete deck of the eastbound three lanes of the bridge.

Many taxi drivers complained that Thursday’s closing drove down profits and business. Less customers were using their services. Unlike other transportation services like Uber, taxistas rely on the meter, known colloquially as the maría, to determine the cost of a trip.

Unfortunately the meter does not function like Uber, where customers are given a fixed price and often a fixed route for the trip depending on the distance they wanted to travel. The maría just runs and runs and, now that the bridge is closed, will run some more as drivers who want to avoid the traffic jams have to travel through Heredia instead of along the General Cañas autopista.

The result is not only a nightmare in terms of traffic delays, but a nightmare for the taxi services that rely on transporting commuters and air passengers between San José and around Alajuela area. One driver, who went by the name Flacco, commented that a person had to be a narco or drug dealer to afford a trip because the cost went up. Depending on the driver and route they took, Jorge, a taxista parked in front of Parque Nacional, said the price could go up as much as 10,000 colons more, nearly $20, due to the bridge closing.

According to Taxi Aeropuerto, the company that shuttles people to and from Juan Santamaría airport, the price for the ride from San José centro to the airport is around 18,000 colons. If the bridge is closed, workers at the shuttle service said that it could rise to 5,000 colons more. Workers also warned that the drive may take about 45 minutes to an hour and recommended that customers reserve at least a day in advance.

Some taxistas had a milder view on the bridge closing. The main reason was because they tended to stay local within San José and did not believe that the bridge had an effect on their business. One even recommended people to just use the bus system instead of taxis as he agreed it could be too expensive depending on destination.

Commuters were also frustrated by the delays and traffic. “It’s the worst. A lot of traffic and so much time wasted but it is necessary,” said Ingrid Bonilla, a regular commuter between San José and Alajuela who uses the bus system, “We’ve been struggling with the bridge for years and it’s about time the government did something about it.”

As an alternative, the public works ministry invited drivers to use the train system. Cristian Vargas, head of the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles, warned that those traveling to the capital from Río Segundo, San Joaquín, Heredia or Belén will still face problems, however.

This is the principal route from Alajuela and Juan Santamaría airport to the capital. There were major traffic jams Thursday after the lanes were closed at 9 a.m.  The alternate routes are not sufficient to ease the amount of traffic. These include some routes via Heredia.  Another option would be the Caldera highway.

Contract killings now not just drug crimes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Time was when assassinations were the hallmark of drug disputes. The favored technique was a gunman riding double on a motorcycle.

There were a few high-profile killings that did not fit that description. Radio commentator Parmenio Medina Pérez died at the hands of hired killers July 7, 2001. A female reporter, Ivannia Mora Rodríguez, was the victim of a drive-by shooting Dec. 23, 2003, in Curridabat.

These shootings were considered unusual at the time.

But lately the use of hired guns seems to have transcended the drug wars and well-known targets to become commonplace.

The hired killer is one reason the country’s murder rate was up nearly 25 percent last year.

In many cases, police have trouble figuring out the motive for a killing, and something they call adjustment of accounts is used to categorized presumed drug killings. If the victim is a young man, that almost always is the verdict.

A shooting last week in Rohrmoser did not result in a fatality, but it had all the marks of a contract hit. A man and a woman were sitting in a vehicle in a parking lot when the motorcycle pulled up and the second rider blasted away.

There was no evidence of drug involvement, so judicial investigators had to suggest this was a crime motivated by passion. So they are looking into the possibility of rejected suitors.

Thursday judicial agents detained a man in Alajuelita and characterized him as a sicario, that is a hired killer. They gave little information on his previous targets, but that will come out during the investigation.

They said most of the killings were in his home canton, which is a hotbed of crime.

Man held involving bomb threats

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents arrested a man Thursday morning suspected of making several bomb threats to a public health center. 

A spokesperson from the Judicial Investigating Organization said that the 35-year old apparently made at least six calls to a laboratory within a public health center during January and April of last year. The suspect also is accused of making another call threatening the life of one of the workers at the location.

The agents carrying out the raid at the man’s home in San Jose’s Barrio Cordoba also seized around 86,000 colons in cash, two boxes full of marijuana and some cocaine.

The arrest was carried out by judicial agents and the Servicio Especial de Respuesta Táctica, the Costa Rican comparative to a U.S. SWAT team. The suspect will be presented before the prosecutor’s office to determine the progression of the case.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 10
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A.M. Costa Rica/Thomas Ropp
Mario Hernández Mena has been manning the family hat business for 30 years
There's much more than hats and hot dogs for visitors to Palmares
By Thomas Ropp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The hatman of Puriscal has never missed a Palmares festival. He was 34 the first year. He is now 64.

“Hats are very important in Costa Rica,” said hatman Mario Hernández Mena. “The sun can be very intense.”

Hernández booth is also very intense. It can’t be missed. It’s the largest one in the crafts area and is packed with a 1,000 hats of all sizes and shapes. There are even hats for babies.

“I’ve probably sold a million of them,” Hernández said Thursday.

The most popular hat with men is the vaquero or cowboy style for about $35. Women prefer the unisex look, he said.

Oddly, Hernández doesn’t wear a hat. He is very proud of his space at the festival, which is fortified to prevent his hats from blowing to San Ramón.

“Wind and hats really don’t mix,” said Hernández, whose favorite part of the festival is the food. “I really like the comida,” he said, smiling and patting his stomach.

Hernández is back and so are thousands of other interesting people for the 30th edition of the Palmares festival, which runs through Jan. 23.

Thursday the party began around noon with thousands of horse riders participating in the annual tope parade. Attendance was light initially, but by 2 p.m. the streets were mobbed with fast walkers sipping cans of brew, impromptu dancers and pretty cowgirls in tight jeans and blue boots.

The Palmares festival, is truly impressive. It’s like a mini city that springs up for two weeks around the fair grounds. The music is intense and the air smells of fried onions and sizzling meats.

“I have never seen anything like it,” said Marsha Conley, visiting Costa Rica from Michigan. “Even in the United States I have never been to a festival this immense.”

Locals, like Carmen Palma Chavarria, also look forward to the annual event.

“If I’m not working I come here every year,” said Ms. Chavarria, who lives in nearby San Ramón. She
said the horse parade is her favorite part of the festival followed by the food, especially the arroz cantonés. She also enjoys watching the public bullfighting, but said she would never actually get in a ring with a bull.

This year’s festival has perhaps a 100 food stations serving everything from pupusas to chop suey. There’s also lots of beer to wash down the tostadas while enjoying the music. Visitors can carry beer around, but they just can’t bring an ice chest into the fairgrounds.

Those with more Gringo taste can stop by the perro caliente stand owned by Jose Roberto Velasquez of Heredia. You can find very large hot dogs here that taste like those at ballparks in the U.S. Velasquez has been selling his jumbo dogs at the festival for 12 years. He says he sells about 500 dogs a day. TIP: try the papas (potato chip) condiment on the dogs along with the classic relish, mustard and ketchup.

The first of two major international concerts will be held

A.M. Costa Rica/Thomas Ropp
José José Trejos and friends are waiting for you to foosball with them.

Sunday featuring reggae master Jamaican Richie Spice. The following Sunday showcases Los Ajenos and the Mexicans of Café Tacvba. Ranchero music fans will enjoy Saturday for the Ranchero Festival spotlighting Costa Rica’s Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Marvin Araya and accompanied by the Colonial Mariachi.

But there is pretty much someone playing music throughout the festival. The Imperial Bar will present a diversified group of artists including Sean Paul, Zone People, Zion and Lennox, Eddie Herrera, Cali and the Dandee and the Ticos of Percance, Gandhi, Entrelíneas, The Solution, Freddy Alvez, Fofo Goddy, Daniel Patiño and Jalamelule.

Before the festival, the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal informed newspapers that none of the bulls or horses in the tope parade were mistreated or abused in any way. That cannot be guaranteed for the participants in bullfighting, people who enter a bullring and try to get bulls to gore them. This is for the benefit of everyone who didn’t get enough of this for two weeks at the recently concluded Zapote festival.

Visitors will also discover some attractions that don’t really fit in any category, like the Dos Pinos promotion that combines a kind of playground with exercise bikes and foosball. Representative José José Trejos said the area is for both adults and children. And it’s free.

Adjacent to the fairgrounds is a large lot loaded with about a dozen carnival rides, including bumper cars.

This event has become so popular that many people are now renting cabins and homes in the Palmares area. Visitors can find a place to stay for as little as $16 a night. Another option is to stay in nearby San Ramón, which is only 10 minutes away.

And a word of caution: Fiesta goers should not try driving if they have had too much to drink. This festival has developed a reputation as a super party place where festival goers often out party themselves.

This has not gone unnoticed by festival organizers or police. This year an additional 84 traffic police are on duty with checkpoints set up near the fairgrounds. Last year, police confiscated 179 license plates.

Entrance to the festival is free, but some events require the purchase of tickets. A complete schedule of events can be found on the official Palmares festival Facebook page.

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Researchers succeed in creating dengue virus resistance in mosquitoes
By the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School
of Public Health news staff

Researchers have genetically modified mosquitoes to resist infection from dengue virus, a virus that sickens an estimated 96 million people globally each year, including in Costa Rica, and kills more than 20,000, mostly children.

The research, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, shows it is possible, in the lab, to boost the Aedes aegypti mosquito's natural ability to fight the dengue virus as a first step toward suppressing its ability to spread the disease. The findings could be a prelude to developing a strategy to eliminate the threat of dengue. Forty percent of the world's population live in areas where they are at risk of the virus, which is most common in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific islands and has been rapidly increasing in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The work was done at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"If you can replace a natural population of dengue-transmitting mosquitoes with genetically modified ones that are resistant to virus, you can stop disease transmission," says study leader George Dimopoulos, a professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and a member of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. "This is a first step toward that goal."

While the new mosquitoes significantly suppressed dengue virus infection they did not show any resistance to zika or chikungunya, two other viruses carried by Aedes aegypti. "This finding, although disappointing, teaches us something about the mosquito's immune system and how it deals with different viruses. It will guide us on how to make mosquitoes resistant to multiple types of viruses" he says. While being resistant to one disease is a good start, "ideally, you want a mosquito that is resistant to other viruses as well," Dimopoulos said,

Mosquitoes acquire viruses by feeding on the blood of humans who are sickened with them. Once the mosquitoes are infected, they bite other healthy humans and pass the disease along to them. Many efforts are underway to figure out how to break that cycle, and most scientists agree that the use of multiple methods will be required to eliminate dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Researchers say that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes do mount an immune system response when exposed to the dengue

virus, but it appears to be too weak to stop transmission. Knowing this, Dimopoulos and his colleagues were able to manipulate a component of the immune system that regulates production of antiviral factors. They did this in a part of the mosquito known as the fat body, its version of the liver.

The genetic modification resulted in fewer mosquitoes becoming infected, and most of those that did had very low levels of dengue virus in their salivary glands, the location from which it gets transmitted to humans. These experiments, however, didn't lower the level of virus in all mosquitoes to zero, something that puzzled the scientists. They say more research is needed to understand whether this level of virus suppression would be enough to halt disease transmission, and they are working on other experiments to see if they can produce antiviral factors in the gut, which could assist in inducing a stronger immune response and possibly confer resistance to the other viruses.

The researchers found that the dengue-resistant mosquitoes live as long as the wild mosquitoes, though they do produce fewer eggs, most likely because the same mechanism involved in dialing up the immune system to fight dengue also plays a role in egg production.

"It's likely if we turn this on in the gut we could have a much stronger effect, without compromising egg production," Dimopoulos says.

Once genetically modified mosquitoes resistant to dengue are developed, scientists would test them in large field cages to see how they compete with wild mosquitoes in very controlled experiments.

The best way to ensure that the genetically modified mosquitoes become the dominant type is for researchers to add something known as a gene drive to the new mosquitoes. This essentially makes them genetically superior mosquitoes by ensuring that all offspring of wild- type and genetically modified mosquitoes will be disease resistant.

"In this way, you could convert a disease-transmitting mosquito population to one that does not transmit disease," Dimopoulos says.

Scientists acknowledge there are concerns with the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the environment since they can't be recaptured. They are there to stay.

"This is why extensive lab and semi-field studies are required to get it right," he says. If the scientists can get this to work, however, it could become a very effective way of controlling disease. It could be done without people having to actively participate. They would get long-lasting protection without having to take medication, get vaccinated or use bed nets or repellents.

Dimopoulos and other researchers are working on similar models in Anopheles mosquitoes which carry the parasite that causes malaria.

The entire process of developing and introducing disease-resistant mosquitoes into the wild could take a decade or more.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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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.

George Lundquist

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

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Tropical Homes

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

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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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 10
Real Estate
About us

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James Comey and Mrs.
Voice of Americ graphic  
James Comey and Mrs. Clinton

Justice Department to probe
FBI's handling of Clinton case

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The independent watchdog at the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday it is launching a probe of the agency's handling of the investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of State.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he would look at how Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey conducted his year-long probe of Ms. Clinton.

Comey, while saying Ms. Clinton's handling of classified material on her email server was extremely careless, cleared her of criminal wrongdoing four months ahead of the election. But Comey reopened the investigation in the days just ahead of the Nov. 8 voting and then said two days before the election investigators had found nothing new.

Ms. Clinton has attributed Comey's reopening of his investigation 11 days ahead of the official Election Day, a time when millions of voters already were casting early ballots, as a key factor in her stunning upset loss to Republican Donald Trump.

Ms. Clinton won nearly 3 million more votes than Trump, but lost the election under the Electoral College. On numerous occasions, the Clinton campaign called her use of the private email server a mistake, but she said she never knowingly sent or received classified material on the unsecured email system she used rather than a secure government computer server. But investigators found some classified material among thousands of her emails.

The issue plagued Ms. Clinton's campaign, leaving some voters to question her honesty and forthrightness in answering questions about the issue. Despite Trump's repeated campaign taunt describing her as Crooked Hillary, the Clinton campaign thought the issue was behind it with Comey's decision in July to not pursue criminal charges.

But FBI investigators, in the month before the election, found thousands more Clinton-related emails on the computer of a disgraced former congressman, Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of key Clinton aide Huma Abedin leading Comey to reopen the probe. As it turned out, many of these emails were duplicates of ones the FBI had already examined in reaching its July decision to not file criminal charges against Ms. Clinton.

Horowitz's office said he will investigate whether Comey erred in publicly stating in July he would not pursue criminal charges against Clinton, whether Justice and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information about the case, and whether Comey should have announced publicly that he was reopening the investigation just before the election.

Trump heating up rhetoric
against Russia and Putin

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's assertion that there is no such thing as a reset with Russia and his belief that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic Party computers are being read in Europe as a sign that there is no guarantee relations between the U.S. and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be good.

At the same time, questions continue to mount about the quality of a controversial 35-page intelligence dossier on Trump that has now been traced, according to news reports, to a London-based private intelligence firm run by a former British spy.

Reporters gathered Thursday outside the offices of Orbis Business Intelligence, the London firm that reports say put together the dossier, which included tawdry and compromising information that could have been used to discredit Trump.

Sources identified the author as Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer. On Thursday, the sources said Steele and his family had gone into hiding.

Among other things, the report contained allegations that remain unverified, including a claim that Michael Cohen, one of Trump's attorneys, had traveled to the Czech Republic and had met with Russian operatives. Cohen told U.S. media he had never been to that country, while Czech intelligence officials said they had no record of his ever arriving at any airport there.

The president-elect called the report fake.

"There's no reset button. We're either going to get along, or we're not. I hope we get along, but if we don't, that's possible, too," he told reporters.

Analysts saw the words as a departure from what many expected would be a close and warm relationship between the new U.S. leader and Russia.

Analysts in Russia agreed the statement marked a change.

"It showed a major shift from what Mr. Trump used to talk about Russia, used to say about Russia, and how he actually views Russia, in my perspective," said Ilya Kravchenko, an analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow.

The allegations contained in the reported Orbis dossier have been met with skepticism among observers and the international intelligence community.

CIA, Defense picks offer
tough stances on Russia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's pick for Defense lashed out against Russia during his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday, despite Trump's softer approach to Moscow.

Retired Gen. James Mattis, the nominee for Defense secretary, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia is the principal threat, and that the U.S. has seen little success from years of trying to positively engage.

The retired general served as the commander of U.S. Central Command and was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's supreme allied commander for transformation while in uniform.

Thursday, Mattis called for greater military support for European allies as Russia attempts to break up NATO, an alliance that Trump has called obsolete and expensive.

He described the world order as under the biggest attack since World War II due to aggressive actions from Russia, from terrorist groups, and from Chinese actions in the South China Sea.

Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Mattis if America has a strong enough military to be able to deter those threats.

"No, sir," Mattis replied.

The former four-star general is inheriting two wars against extremists if confirmed. In Afghanistan, he said the Taliban has eroded some coalition successes.

And when it came to the more than two-year fight against Islamic State, he said the battle to take the terror group's de facto capital, Raqqa, could change.

The committee overwhelmingly passed a waiver excepting the retired general from a rule requiring seven years out of uniformed military service before becoming Defense secretary. The law is meant to assure the American principle of civilian leadership of the military.

In the House, however, the battle to secure a waiver for Mattis sparked one of the first clashes between the Trump administration and House Democrats. The vote fell along party lines in the House Armed Services Committee, passing 34-28, after the Trump transition team unexpectedly canceled the nominee's planned visit.

Republicans on the committee said it was important to advance the retired general's nomination process to ensure a new secretary of Defense is in place at the beginning of a new presidential administration.

The full vote will go to the House floor on Friday, with many Democrats expected to vote down the spending bill in protest of the Mattis waiver provision.

Meanwhile, president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA promised to maintain a clear-eyed view of Russia and said he would not comply with any White House order to restart the use of torture tactics.

The nominee, Mike Pompeo, said he accepts the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in last year’s presidential election won by Trump, describing the report as sound.

"I have no doubt that the discourse that’s been taking place is something that Vladimir Putin would look at and say, ‘wow, that was among the objectives that I had, to sow doubt among the American political community,’" he said.

Protein may fix broken bones
of some diabetics, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists have discovered that a protein that plays a crucial role in healing broken bones is not fully functional in diabetics. By applying the protein directly to fractured bones, researchers showed they could improve the healing and strength of bones in diabetics.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California found that a protein called hedgehog helped mend bones in diabetic mice by stimulating the activity of skeletal stem cells.

Michael Longaker, a professor of surgery and co-director of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford, helped make the discovery and co-authored a study on the topic, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Longaker said the protein, when functioning properly, has the potential to address a serious problem in diabetics, whose bone problems are among the worst that doctors see.

Researchers studying a mouse model of diabetes noted that the animals had significantly lower numbers of skeletal stem cells to repair bone fractures. When the bones did finally heal, they were weaker and less dense than those of non-diabetic mice.

In experiments, the researchers found that although the reduced numbers of stem cells were themselves fully functional, there was a problem with hedgehog proteins near the site of a bone break: They, too, were fewer in number and were only weakly signaling the master cells to repair broken bones.

Excessive inflammation, the researchers found, was weakening the hedgehog proteins in the diabetic mice. They discovered that they could improve hedgehog proteins' signaling by increasing their numbers. To accomplish that, they developed a gel containing more hedgehog molecules that could be applied to broken bones.

Longaker said that when applied directly to the inside of broken bones, the gel helped with repairs in diabetic mice, and in healthy rodents as well. The release of the extra hedgehog proteins is needed for only a short while, he added. Over three to four weeks, "it did rescue the fracture healing."

wearable tech
University of Calfornia, San Diego photo 
 Wearable tech like this patch that monitors lactic
 acid could soon be monitoring thousand of vital

Wearable tech may be used
for monitoring one's health

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

What's the future of wearable technology like the Fitbit or the Apple Watch when it comes to health? Right now we can count on certain devices to do quite a few very cool things.

Not only are they in touch with GPS to count steps, they can also monitor heart rate, body fat composition, perspiration, health, temperature and muscle activity, just through touching our skin.

Researchers at Stanford Medical Center say that when it comes to wearables, that's just the tip of the health monitoring iceberg.

A wearable device likely won't ever replace the diagnosis of a real doctor, but the smart watch, fitness tracker, or other body-touching tech may be able to give some clues about what's going on inside the body, sometimes before the brain gets word something's not right.

In a study published online in PLOS Biology, Stanford researchers decided to discover exactly what wearables might be able to do. So they began by collecting a whopping 2 billion baseline measurements from a group of 60 people and entering that information into a database. A few of the entries included data from each participant's wearable biosensor devices and periodic data from laboratory tests of their blood chemistry, gene expression and other measures.

With these baselines established, the volunteers wore a whole range of wearables currently available on the market. These collected more than 250,000 measurements a day. The researchers said that included data on weight, heart rate, oxygen in the blood, skin temperature. It also included activities such as steps, walking, biking and running, calories expended, acceleration, and even exposure to gamma rays and X-rays.

The senior author of the study, Stanford professor Michael Snyder said the technology to gather all of this information exists right now. All but weight and blood oxygen can be collected from a smart watch and a patch can get the blood oxygen, he said.

Given a baseline range of values for each person, it is possible to monitor deviations from normal and associate those deviations with environmental conditions, illness or other factors that affect health.

A lot of these technologies, Snyder said, are available right now in an experimental phase. Snyder can see a day when consumers could strap on some tech and it would just grab all the data it needs all by itself.

Taking it one step further, there could come a day when the watch is tied in to to a doctors office, which could generate a text suggesting a wearer might have
just gotten the flu, or a cold. The team also says the technology could monitor blood sugar levels, or the status of a pacemaker, and has the potential to change the world of preventive care.

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                                  Tamarindo The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about Costa Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and & commercial real estate. Twelve (12) agents to serve you, from Playa Marbella to Playa Dante in the Guanacaste, through our Tamarindo and Flamingo offices. For more information, please contact our local phones: 506-2653-0073 Tamarindo / 506-2201-9056 Flamingo ~ Toll Free: 1-866-976-8898 or email:  or click here

If you are looking for information on condos, homes, lots, commercial real estate or development properties our award-winning team of professional agents are ready to help you buying property in Costa Rica. We have over 18 years of experience to educate our buyers in all aspects of purchasing property. Call us or email us today for more information on how to purchase that perfect piece of Costa Rica Real Estate.

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Fully titled, held by corporation. 150 meters to beach! Paved road frontage. Electric, phone and broadband internet at the road. Year-round water on property for well. 3 -minute drive to Sámara center and a 3-minute walk to Playa Sámara. 23,561 square meters / 5.7 acres. Property was purchased on 2005 with plans to develop 21 villas on the property. Project was halted due to real estate market collapse in 2007.  We are no longer interested in developing due to age, health and motivation!  Priced well below market value for quick sale.  More info click HERE! Email:    Phone: 506-4033-6695.

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Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. Located only 45 minutes from the San Jose airport and about the same to the Pacific Ocean.  The lower level could be used as a separate apartment or mother-in-law setup. Home includes HUGE master  suite, CLOSETS, custom cabinets, granite counter tops, high wood ceilings, and all in an area that is 70-80 degrees year round. Priced at $199,000. Completion date is January.  See the Virtual Tour CLICK HERE or see our site here If you would like to take a look at this amazing house, please give me a call at  Costa Rica # 506-8755-6743 or if from the States call # 509-570-1928 or email 

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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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Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant. Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning. Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing. Up to 40% financing / get residency through investor status / includes a corporation that is 27 years old and offshore banking account with  Banco National / possible 50/50 partnership. Super location in front of the Bosques de Escazú  Condos  / Monthly rentals available
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 10
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
They're called boomerang kids
 'Hi, Mom, I'm home . . . again. . . .'

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

"My dad was like, 'You should stay home until you get married,'" said Hannah Raines, a 21-year old resident of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Ms. Raines emphasizes that her father was joking, but she says she is moving back in with her parents after she graduates from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in May. She plans to work and save money for graduate school.

She is not alone in her decision to become what are known as boomerang kids. The Pew Research Center found that 32 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds lived at their parents' homes in 2014, the highest percentage to do so since 1940. Thirty-one percent were living with a significant other in their own household. Twenty-two percent were living in dormitories, group homes or with non-parent family members; and 14 percent lived alone or as single parents.

Experts say this generation of young adults is entering a different economic world from their predecessors. Starting salaries have not kept up with housing costs, much less with growing amounts of student debt.

Pavel Marceux, a households specialist at market research firm Euromonitor International, said moving home can be a sound economic decision. Young adults living at home with little or no rent are freer to save money or pay down loans. In addition, the living arrangement can help aging parents keep abreast of changing technology, such as cellphones and smart appliances.

Raines' parents, Jim and Juli, already have some experience in this area: Hannah's twin brother, Dakota, has lived with them since last year.

Juli Raines says having her college-age son back home is fine with her.

"It was very natural," she said, adding that the toughest adjustments were logistical ones.

The inconvenience, however, has a perk: Juli Raines says having the adult children back home for a couple more years has helped her and her husband think more strategically about their future, such as planning when to tackle home improvements and when to retire.

Some parents see having their offspring back at home as giving them one more way to help them get a good start in life.

Giovanna Tolda, 30, of Northampton, Massachusetts, moved back in with her parents two months ago, while completing a master's degree program. She had just broken up with her live-in boyfriend.

Ms. Tolda is earning a degree in special education. She says her parents were glad to have her back while she finishes school and plans for the future.

Boomerang kids can even help their parents live out their own deferred dreams.

Some experts say boomerang kids just refuse to grow up, and parents should not accommodate them.

Psychiatrist Melissa Deuter of San Antonio, Texas, specializes in mental health care for young adults. She says today's parenting style does not appear to focus enough on preparing young people for the roles they need to take on as adults. We now have a generation of young people who not only do not fit into workplace culture, but they also simply dislike it.
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From Page 7:

Global study says number of unemployed rising

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Global unemployment is expected to jump by 3.4 million people, to more than 201 million, this year, the International Labor Organization reports.

With an economy deemed too sluggish to generate enough jobs, the report predicts another 2.7 million people will be added to the unemployment ranks in 2018.

The organization said deteriorating labor market conditions are particularly acute in emerging and developing economies, where the rate of unemployment is expected to rise by slightly more than 1 percent over last year's level.

By contrast, the organization’s director, General Guy Ryder, said, the rate of unemployment in developed countries should fall by slightly more than 1 percent this year, to 6.2 percent.

Ryder said global uncertainties, including changes stemming from technology and demographics, are generating concerns about the ability of nations to create more jobs.

There also is a degree of political uncertainty, he says, and uncertainty regarding globalization, which is based on an increasingly open economy and the liberalization of trade and capital investment. The unexpected rise of protectionism, he adds, also is a factor.

Authors of the report argue that economic and labor market inequality have gone too far, and pose a threat to the fabric of society. They warn that global uncertainty and the lack of decent jobs are causing social unrest and are increasing migration in many parts of the world.