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(506) 2223-1327                                 Published Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 11                                   Email us
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New study suggests country's happiness is genetic
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans take pride in having the country rank high on world happiness scales, even though some of the surveys might be questionable.

But now comes a possible answer. Researchers report that the DNA of residents is more likely to contain a specific allele involved in sensory pleasure and pain reduction.

The report is in the Spring Publishers' Journal of Happiness Studies.

The two researchers, Michael Minkov of the Varna University of Management in Bulgaria and Michael Bond of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University compared happiness surveys with a Yale University genetic database.

Said a Springer summary: "The authors found a strong correlation between a nation’s happiness and the presence of the A allele in the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) gene variant rs324420 in its citizens’ genetic  make-up. This allele helps prevent the
chemical degradation of anandamide, a substance that enhances sensory pleasure and helps to reduce pain."

The researchers used the World Values Survey from 2000 to 2014 for the happiness measure.

"Nations with the highest prevalence of the A allele are quite clearly also those who perceive themselves happiest," said the summary. "These include Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa, and northern Latin American nations, such as Mexico and Columbia, whose citizens are of Amerindian or mixed Euro-American descent. The Arab nations of Iraq and Jordan, and the East Asian nations of Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Taiwan, which had the lowest prevalence of this allele, were also found to be the least likely to rate themselves as very happy."

The two researchers also found a correlation with favorable climate and happiness.

The findings seemed to be stable even in the face of variations in economic wealth, the type of law governing a nation or disease patterns, said the researchers

Finance ministry pushes for lists of shareholders
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance ministry is citing rules by international organizations as reasons for passage of a law that would require companies to report to the government the names of their shareholders.

This is perhaps the most controversial part of a proposed law on tax fraud.  The Ministerio de Hacienda issued a lengthy statement Friday supporting its position.

The ministry said that the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development and its Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Tax Information require the country to set up a data base.

Currently the ministry can request the information from specific companies. However, the proposed law would require that companies keep updating a list of shareholders or others with beneficial interest in the company. This list would be

within the ministry's computers.

Although the ministry promises top security for the information, a lot of business leaders and lawmakers are not sure, particularly in light of high profile hacking of data bases in other countries.

Costa Rica is trying to become a full member of the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development and said that such a shareholder list is required by the international organizations.

In Costa Rica, sociedades anonimas, the typical corporate setup, does not have to have shareholders in management roles. Consequently, the shareholders can be secret.

However, the company would have to report all but very modest dividend payments each year. 

The international organizations are worried about citizens of other countries using anonymous corporations to hold secret assets.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday Jan. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 11
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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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Lic. Eduardo Valdivieso
your legal adviser for criminal, civil,
commercial, and family law.  
Phone: ( 506 ) 8839-5010 
Address:  150 meters southwest from
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Real estate agents and services


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Red Sismológica Nacional graphic
Graphic shows estimated epicenters with pins with red tops designating stronger quakes.

Tectonic plates generate plenty of quakes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cocos tectonic plate kept grinding against the lighter Caribbean in the last few days and generated at least 39 significant earthquakes, according to the Red Sismológica Nacional.

The bulk of the quake epicenters were 40 to 60 kilometers (25 to 37 miles)  southwest of  Savegre de Quepos. However, beginning early Sunday a new focus developed 10 to 20 kilometers (6 to 12 miles) south of Quepos.

At the first area there were eight quakes with magnitudes greater than 4.0, said the Red Sismológica. One Thursday was 5.1 and a second Saturday was 5.3. Both of these were felt on land, including in the Central Valley.

At the area closer to Quepos, the quake with the biggest magnitude was one of 4.0 that took place Sunday at 5 a.m., the Red Sismológica noted.

A list of felt quakes is HERE

Sunday at 6:46 p.m. there was a quake inland of a 4.8 magnitude some 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of San Isidro de El General.

U.S. citizen reported as murder victim

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 20-year-old man identified as a U.S. citizen died by gunshots Saturday afternoon, and judicial agents reported they detained an 18-year-old suspect.
The dead man was identified tentatively by the last name of Robinson, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The motive for the killing was reported to be a personal dispute.

The crime happened in the Las Pastoras section in San Pablo de Heredia about 2:20 p.m., the agency said. Agents detained the suspect some six hours later at a private home in the area, they said.

The victim died at the scene as a result of one shot to the chest.

Netflix expands, cracks down on proxies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The television subscription service Netflix says it is cracking down on the use of proxies to view its shows.

The company just announced that it is expanding its service to 130 more countries, including Costa Rica.

David Fullagar, vice president of content delivery architecture at Netflix, said that because of the expansion there is no reason for viewers to trick the system by using proxies or so-called unblockers.

Some customers in Costa Rica have been using such techniques to hide from the company that they are in Costa Rica and to obtain the company's U.S. version of shows. The company announced the expansion Jan. 6.

Speaking of blockers, Fullagar said "This technology continues to evolve, and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies."

However, he admitted that the firm is not able to provide the same movie and television series to every country.

"For now, given the historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories, the TV shows and movies we offer differ, to varying degrees, by territory," he said. "In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location."

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday Jan. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 11
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U.S. expat recounts his meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Jim Twomey*
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

I was working for the Chicago City Missionary Society (now called the Community Renewal Society) in 1966. I was the director of the Missionary Society’s low-income housing program.

We had developed a program in which we were appointed by the Municipal Court of Chicago to take over a slum building where the owner had violated court orders to bring the building into compliance with the city’s housing codes. We were the court appointed receiver of the building and we used the rental income to fix up the property.

Because of our position as receiver, we did not have to make payments on the mortgage. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had brought his program to fight poverty and discrimination against blacks to Chicago. Dr. King was also trying to dramatize the housing needs of poor black people in Chicago.

Dr. King's group had heard about our program, and I was asked to explain the program to Dr. King. I met with Dr. King and his deputy, the Rev. Andrew Young, on a Saturday morning at a home on the west side of Chicago.

I explained to Dr. King that we had been recommended by the City of Chicago’s Law Department to the court, to be named the receiver of slum properties. When we took over a building, we were acting as an agent of the court. (I knew that the City of Chicago’s Law Department would probably not recommend Dr. King’s group to be a receiver of buildings, because Chicago’s Mayor Daley resented Dr. King’s coming to Chicago.)

I went on to explain that if  Dr. King was not named as the receiver of a slum building, but simply went in and took over the building through a rent strike or if he became a squatter, he would be considered a trespasser and would be arrested and put in jail.

Neither Dr. King nor the Rev. Young asked me any questions. When I was about to leave, Rev. Young, kind of gave me a high sign indicating that he wanted to speak to me and we stepped outside.

Rev. Young said: "Now Jim, you have to understand about Dr. King. He does not need any advice about getting into jail, but he uses a lot of advice to get out of jail."

I felt kind of stupid telling Dr. King about going to jail, when he had gone to jail a number of times to protest the treatment of Negroes in America.

Martin Luther King
Chicago Tribune reports on Martin Luther King's efforts

There is a sequel to this story: Because I had been successful in securing a grant from the federal housing agency for our housing receivership program, I was asked by Dr. King’s group to see if I could arrange a housing grant for them.

The head of the federal government’s housing program was Dr. Robert C. Weaver, a black man. I flew from Chicago to Washington, D.C., and met with Dr. Weaver’s deputy, Dr. Robert Wood. I explained that a housing grant would mean a lot to Dr. King’s efforts in Chicago. The housing officials agreed and set aside $12 million for Dr. King’s housing rehabilitation program.

I then called myself the original Oreo cookie: the white dude between two Black leaders.

*Twomey is a U.S. expat now living in Costa Rica.

Today is a U.S. federal holiday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today, Martin Luther King Day, is a legal federal holiday in the United States, so the U.S. Embassy here will be closed.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 11
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Drill core discloses evidence of a massive Caribbean volcano eruption
By the University of Southampton news staff

Scientists have uncovered evidence of a previously unknown large volcanic eruption in the Caribbean Sea.

By studying ash layers, known as tephras, in marine sediments they identified an eruption that took place on Guadeloupe 2.4 million years ago.

The research, published in the journal Geology, indicates this eruption is the largest documented volcanic event in the region since that time.

The lead author, Martin Palmer, at the University of Southampton, said: “Volcanic eruptions are relatively common in this area of world, but while they are very disruptive for the local community, as seen on Montserrat over the past 20 years, they do not generally have a major impact on neighboring islands. While a large eruption of the scale that we have identified would represent an important hazard to human populations in the wider region if it occurred today, it is very important to note that our research suggests that such events are rare in the Lesser Antilles. There is no indication that another large eruption is imminent.”

The research team analyzed a sediment core recovered by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition at a site 30 kilometers southwest of Montserrat and 75 kilometers west of Guadeloupe in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. This is close to several volcanically active islands in the Lesser Antilles.

The core contained an unusually thick tephra of some 18 centimeters that was deposited 2.4 million years ago.

vvolcanic island
National Aeronautics and Space Administration photo
Activity from Soufriere volcano on Montserrat island.

By analyzing the isotopes, trace elements and grain morphology of the tephra, together with volcanological models, the researchers were able to identify the origin and magnitude of the large eruption.

Palmer added: “Reconstructing the magnitude of past volcanic eruptions is important to inform predictions about future eruptions and hazards. This is difficult to accomplish from records on land. Old eruptions are often eroded away, buried beneath later eruptions, or obscured by vegetation and soil. Most volcanoes are close to the oceans, so much of the erupted material falls into seawater and accumulates on the seafloor.

“It is important to continue these types of study as they allow scientists to build a more complete picture of conditions required to generate unusually large eruptions in settings where they are normally much smaller.”

Vacation, travel and hospitality

HIdden Garden 2016
Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

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

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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

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

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

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

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


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   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
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Real estate 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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Escazú rental
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Real estate for rent (paid category)
Fully Furnished American style Apartments for Rent
2-bedroom, 2- bathroom, fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amó. Cable, Internet, water included. Shared laundry. Convenient to Parque Morazán,
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Barrio Amon
the building to see the apartments.   For more information contact:  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday Jan. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 11
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Child in Hawaii was damaged
by zika virus while in womb

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A baby born with brain damage at a hospital in Oahu, Hawaii, was infected by the zika virus, U.S. health officials said Saturday. It's the state's first known case of the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects in thousands of babies born recently in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America.

Health authorities said the child's mother had lived in Brazil until May 2015. They suspected she was infected during her early pregnancy, with the virus reaching the embryo and damaging its developing brain. 

The microcephaly virus, which causes unusually small skull and brain development, is believed to be transmitted by a mosquito that has bitten an infected human. Symptoms of the illness include mild fever, joint pain and skin rash.

The Hawaiian case was reported Saturday, a day after U.S. health officials issued a travel warning to 14 countries and territories in the Caribbean and Latin America where zika cases have been recorded. That alert warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and French Guiana. It also covered Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

Saturday, Barbados reported its first case.

Last month, Brazilian authorities identified zika cases in 20 of 27 states, most notably in the state of Pernambuco, which reported more than 1,000 cases and three deaths.

Scientists discovered the virus in Uganda in 1947 while studying monkeys, and they isolated it in the 1950s in a human in Nigeria. But medical historians say confirmed cases were rare until 2007, when an outbreak was identified in the Federated States of Micronesia in the South Pacific.

Ahead of the current Latin America crisis, cases have been identified in Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia.

Strong American diplomacy
creditor for Iranian reaction

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama is crediting strong American diplomacy for key milestones with Iran in a 24-hour period, including confirmation that Tehran has significantly rolled back its nuclear program, released American prisoners and resolved a three-decade-old financial dispute.

The president spoke Sunday after receiving confirmation that all five Americans released by Iran had departed the country.

“This is a good day,” Obama told the nation.  After using diplomacy to directly engage with the Iranians “we’ve seen results,” he said.

Saturday, the United States and five other global powers lifted sanctions on Iran after a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog saying Tehran had fulfilled its commitments to cut back its nuclear program.

The removal of sanctions gives Iran access to funds ranging from $50 to $100 billion, according to senior administration officials.

The U.S. says Iran has removed two-thirds of its centrifuges to enrich uranium, shipped out more than 98 percent of its enriched uranium stockpile and will be subjected to unprecedented inspections and access to its nuclear program.  If Iran tries to covertly build a bomb, “we will catch them,” said the president.  “The region, the United States, and the world will be more secure.”

The long and difficult diplomatic process to negotiate the Iran nuclear deal opened channels of communication for the first time in decades and new opportunities for the two nations to engage on other key matters, said senior administration officials.

The diplomatic ties established between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif during the nuclear talks are credited with helping to secure the prompt release of U.S. sailors captured by Iranians in the Persian Gulf last week.

The historic engagement also led to the release of five Americans unjustly detained by Iran, said the president.

“After the nuclear deal was completed, the discussions between our governments accelerated,” said Obama, securing the U.S. detainees release as part of a prisoner swap Saturday.

The former detainees include Jason Rezaian, a reporter for The Washington Post; Saeed Abedini, an Idaho pastor held for more than three years; former Marine sergeant Amir Hekmati of Michigan held for more than four years; Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, and student Matthew Trevithick.

In exchange, the U.S. granted clemency to six Iranian-Americans and one Iranian awaiting trial on charges they violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.

The U.S. and Iran will intensify coordination on the search for Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran for more than eight years.

After the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and the release of prisoners, Obama said the two countries settled a more than three-decade old claim by the Iranian government against the United States.  Senior administration officials say the settlement could save the U.S. billions.

The president also spoke directly to the Iranian people, saying “Yours is a great civilization.”  But for decades Iran has destabilized the region and isolated Iran from much of the world.  “Following the nuclear deal, you, especially young Iranians, have the opportunity to begin building new ties with the world.”

Also Sunday, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on five individuals and several companies for ties to Tehran's ballistic missile program.

"The nuclear deal was never intended to resolve all of our differences with Iran," the president said. "We will continue to enforce these sanctions vigorously," he added of the missile sanctions.

Earlier Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic has entered a new chapter in its history in a speech Sunday praising the end of international sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear activities. 

A senior administration official said Sunday the U.S. continues to have profound differences with Iran over its support of terrorists, destabilizing actions in the region, human rights abuses and how to end the war on Syria.

“We do believe we should test whether there could be dialogue with regard to other issues,” said the officials.  “Frankly the main forum for that will be the Vienna process on Syria.” 

Global powers are holding talks in Vienna about how to end the war and bring about a political transition in Syria.  The U.S. and Iran remain deeply divided about whether Bashar al-Assad should play any role in Syria’s political future. The U.S. believes the war will not end as long as Assad remains in power.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called implementation day a significant milestone.

But Saturday's news was greeted with skepticism by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the most vocal opponent of the deal in the international community. He warned that "Iran has not relinquished its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons and continues to act to destabilize the Middle East and spread terror throughout the world." 

The end of sanctions was also greeted with scorn in the United States by many of President Barack Obama's Republican opponents, especially the party's 2016 presidential candidates.

"It seems to be an indication of where we are going. That Iran deal is the dumbest deal I think I’ve ever seen," said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a recent campaign event.

House Speaker Paul Ryan added to the criticism. "A bipartisan majority in the House voted to reject this deal in the first place, and we will continue to do everything possible to prevent a nuclear Iran," he said.

The chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ed Royce, welcomed the release of the detained Americans.

“All of them should have been unconditionally released a long time ago. Period,” he said.

But he added that “a disturbing pattern is emerging where the Obama administration is willing to negotiate the release of spies, terrorists and now criminals.  I fail to see how this trend will improve the long-term security of the United States and its citizens.”

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, said "While we have no illusions about the Iranian regime, we have once again seen the value of the enhanced diplomatic relationship created through our historic nuclear agreement."

Rouhani dismissed any criticism of the nuclear during his speech to the Iranian parliament.  He said everyone is happy "except Zionists, warmongers fueling discord in the Islamic world, and hardliners in the U.S."

The deal is a triumph for Rouhani, considered a moderate cleric who was elected in 2013 on a pledge to reform his country’s economy.  But Tehran's hopes of an instant windfall by its return to the global oil markets will likely be tempered due to the massive glut of oil, which dropped to $30 per barrel this week for the first time in a decade.

VOA report dies in Yemen
as a result of Saudi air raid

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Freelance Yemeni journalist Almigdad Mojalli died Sunday morning in an air raid by the Saudi-led coalition on rebel-held Sana'a while on assignment for Voice of America.

Mojalli, a freelance journalist for VOA and the U.N. news agency, IRIN, as well as other news sources, sought to fight the humanitarian crisis in his country through truthful, heartbreaking reporting.

“He writes humanitarian stories because he doesn’t believe in fighting,” said his brother Abdullah Mojalli. “He never in his life held a weapon.”

Almigdad Mojalli has been reporting for the Voice of America since October, focusing on the human impact of the war and economic crisis in Yemen, often seeking out the most vulnerable victims.

He worked with marginalized groups, like minorities and the handicapped, seeking social justice through reporting.

"As a journalist and as a friend, he will be deeply missed," said Heather Murdock, VOA Cairo correspondent, who worked closely with Mojalli.

VOA has expressed its deepest condolences to the family of Mojalli.

"It's a sad day for the Voice of America," said managing editor Clara Dominguez. "Mojalli died covering the stories that our audiences care about. We honor his memory".

He leaves behind seven dependents, including his son, Abdulaziz. Funeral services will be held today.

At least five journalists were killed in Yemen last year, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Russian Academy of Sciences/ Alexei Tikhonov
Researcher Sergey Gorbunov works on excavation of woolly mammoth carcass on the eastern shore of Yenisei Bay, central Siberian Arctic.

Mammoth carcass pushes back
evidence for man in Siberia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Siberian mammoth carcass displays some tantalizing hints that man was present in the Eurasian Arctic 10,000 years earlier than thought.

The male woolly mammoth carcass was found in 2012 near Yenisei Bay in the Siberian Arctic.

Through radiocarbon dating of the animal's tibia bone and surrounding materials, the researchers dated it at 45,000 years old.

The carcass appears to have some unusual injuries on its ribs, tusk and jaw. These, researchers believe, could have been inflicted by the spears of human hunters some 10,000 years before man has been thought to have arrived in the Arctic.

“One can almost see the blow-by-blow battle between people and mammoth fought on those frozen plains,” Curtis Marean, a paleoanthropologist at Arizona State University who was not involved with the study, told Science Magazine. “The impact wounds on the bones with embedded stone fragments is conclusive evidence that people slayed this mammoth.”

Mammoths provided an excellent source of food, and hunting them likely allowed humans to spread widely, even in the northernmost part of Arctic Siberia. It’s possible that this helped early man cross the Bering land bridge into the New World, during the last ice age.

"Indeed, these animals provide an endless source of different goods: food with meat, fat and marrow; fuel with dung, fat and bones; and raw material with long bones and ivory," lead author Vladimir Pitulko of the Russian Academy of Sciences said. "They certainly would use them as food, especially certain parts like tongue or liver as a delicacy, but hunting for the ivory was more important."

Mrs. Clinton maintains lead
in national election polls

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads rival Bernie Sanders by 25 points nationally before the final Democratic debate and the all-important Iowa caucuses, according to the latest results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Mrs. Clinton was first among 59 percent of Democratic primary voters, while Sanders got the support of 34 percent. Martin O'Malley got 2 percent.

Those numbers are similar to those from December, when Mrs. Clinton held a 19-point national advantage over Sanders.

Sunday, Mrs. Clinton sharpened her attacks on Sanders over the Vermont senator's record on gun control, just hours ahead of their fourth debate.

"I am very pleased that he flip-flopped on the immunity legislation," Mrs. Clinton told CNN, a day after Sanders, who had been pushed by her campaign for his past position, announced he would change course and back legislation to reverse a 2005 law granting firearm manufacturers legal immunity.

Sanders has declined to call the 2005 vote a mistake a number of times, citing the fact that he worries about the impact rescinding immunity would have on small, family-owned gun shops.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll also found one third of people who said they would vote in a Republican Party primary said they favored Donald Trump, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 20 percent support, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 13 percent and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 12 percent.

In December, Trump had led the No. 2 candidate, Cruz, by just 5 percentage points. In the new poll, his lead widened to 13 points.

Emergency declared over lead
in Flint, Michigan, city water

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency Saturday for the northern state of Michigan, freeing up money for federal aid for the city of Flint. Residents have been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water for almost two years, and children are testing with high levels of lead in their bodies.

Flint, about an hour's drive from Detroit, is home to 100,000 people. Most are African American. Some 40 percent of the population lives in poverty.

The water crisis began in April 2014 when the financially-strapped city began drawing water from the Flint River to save money instead of continuing to use Detroit's water system.

Flint officials did not properly treat the corrosive Flint River water to prevent metal leaching from old pipes. Flint residents were not told about their tainted drinking water supply for a year and a half.

Flint has returned to using water from Detroit, but officials say its water distribution system may now need to be replaced, costing as much at $1.5 billion.

The Detroit Free Press newspaper said "people, pets and even plants have been affected by the poisonous, lead-contaminated water." The newspaper says some people stopped using the water immediately after the switch because of the water's "smell, color and taste," while others continued to drink and cook with it.

Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of pediatric residency at Hurley Children's Hospital, is credited with bringing the problem to the public's attention after state agencies initially dismissed her concerns. Lead-contaminated water "has such damning, lifelong and generational consequences," Dr. Hanna-Attisha says.

The World Health Organization says "too much lead can damage various systems of the body including the nervous and reproductive systems and the kidneys, and it can cause high blood pressure and anemia...  Lead is especially harmful to the developing brains of fetuses and young children and to pregnant women... High blood lead levels in children can cause consequences which may be irreversible including learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and mental retardation. At very high levels, lead can cause convulsions, coma and death."

Michigan Gov. Rick Synder declared a state of emergency earlier this month, enabling Flint residents to go to fire stations for a daily case of water per household. But many blame Synder for the current crisis, saying he failed to act until what The New York Times describes as "an outpouring of rage from Flint residents, city leaders, journalists and independent researchers forced him to wake up and focus on the calamity."
Real estate-related services (paid category)

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Office phone: 506-2446-0543
Cell phone: 506-8898-9398
or 506-8314-8090


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Rich Coast Rollover
Thinking of Buying a Vacation or Retirement Home
in Costa Rica?

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.
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891

Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo
Photo montage of penthouse
Are you tired of wasting time searching for your home…..with no results?
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Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo

* Located on 6th floor.
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* 3 bedrooms.
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* Enjoy the view,  CLICK HERE
Mafi Real Estate: Houses, lots and farms in Costa Rica
If you do not find, what are you looking for, contact us
WE HAVE A NETWORK OF OVER 500 brokers across the country to get what you are looking for.
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Re/Max Ocean Surf and Sun:

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 sCosta Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and commercial real estate.  Call us: Ocean Surf and Sun Int. Realty Ldta at 011 (506) 2653-0073 or send us an email at:

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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Business for sale or lease (paid category)
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, Monday Jan. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 11
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
About that wild orchid obsession

I think I may have a touch of orchid mania. It’s a communicable disorder in the same family as horse crazy and soccer fanatic, but I’m
Victoria torley
 not sure how it’s contracted. Maybe it’s in the air or the water. Maybe it’s on the surface of some books I read, the ones with pretty pictures.

For the soccer fanatic it seems to be a close contact disorder. For the person who is horse crazy, more of a disorder that develops over time without outside
reinforcement. Me? It seems to be airborne to me.

Just walking along through dappled shade stirs my pulse. I find my eyes casting downward, looking for mossy branches the wind has torn from trees. Even lichen covered rocks catch my eye. There . . . what is that. Nah, just another fern.

Most of the common wild orchids seem to be tiny. Small leaves, little flowers on stalks or snuggled up to a stem. They are no longer satisfying, not any more. I have so many little orchids now all rescued and well attached to trees and stumps in the shade garden. I need more.

“More,” of course, is a larger showier orchid, an eye-popper. I want it to be red or purple or orange. Naturally, I find the white ones . . . dang. Still, an orchid plant covered with white blooms is not a bad thing especially when there is a yellow touch or two.

So off I go, tramping across overgrown fields where I know there are probably snakes (they haven’t found me yet) heading toward a treed ravine where I know, I just know there will be branches and stumps (and snakes, but they still haven’t found me). I keep my eyes off the trees. You can’t take orchids from trees. But I look for old fence posts. I have a sack with me and a nice sharp machete for cutting limbs to cartable size and to help me uncover things hidden in the moss (like snakes).

And I do find them! Orchid plants of all sizes and types. Tiny ones that are not like anything I have and medium plants that are only attached to branches by a few roots. And then the larger orchids, larger plants with broad leaves that I know, absolutely, will produce a large bloom. What color will it be? I have to wait and find out. I think that’s where the “mania” part comes into play. It can be a year or two before I have an answer on color. It’s enough to make you tear your hair out!


Plant of the Week

Well, it kind of had to be an orchid and I admit that I bought this one. When I bought it and asked the seller the plant name, she replied: “orchidia.” Hmm. I knew that. The flower appears to be a Phalaenopsis, perhaps Purple Valley. That is the other thing about orchids: no normal human being can pronounce their names. Anyway, I had it on the deck but that seemed wrong so I attached it to a fern tree in light shade where it seems perfectly happy.

[Personal note: I have never dedicated a column before, but this one is for you, Mary.]

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit

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From Page 7:

U.S. consumer spending called disappointing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S retail sales fell 0.1 percent in December, ending a very disappointing year for holiday sales and raising new concerns about consumer spending in 2016.  All told, retail sales rose 2.1 percent for all of  2015, a far cry from the 3.9 percent gain the year before. 

Much of the downward pressure has been attributed to plunging oil prices, which have sent gasoline prices to a seven-year low in the United States. 

Some economists believed the lower gasoline prices would give American consumers more disposable income. But new data from the U.S. Commerce Department suggests Americans pocketed the savings instead of splurging on holiday purchases. 
Despite robust hiring in recent months, economists say consumers' reluctance to spend may be the result of weak or stagnant wage growth. 

Automobile sales were little changed from the year before, but clothing fell 0.9 percent and electronic sales declined by 0.2 percent.

Consumer spending is an important economic indicator, accounting for nearly 70 percent of total economic activity in the United States.