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(506) 2223-1327                             Published Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 14                                  Email us
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Question is when, not if, lionfish will reach Pacific
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The arrival of the lionfish in eastern Pacific waters seems inevitable, and the only question is how will the creatures make the move.

The lionfish (Pterois volitans) has been ravaging the Caribbean since the 1980s. Costa Rica has taken steps to reduce the numbers of the fast-breeding fish.

The success has been limited even though lionfish derbies are held in the southern Caribbean communities.

The problem is that the fish has no natural enemies in the Caribbean, and it eats game fish larva and all those smaller fish that graze on the algae that could strangle coral.

Andrew Sellers, a researcher from McGill University in Canada, has suggested that the fish could cross the Isthmus of Panama via the 80-kilometer canal.

However, a report on his work from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute says the more likely scenario is that the colorful fish will be dumped into the Pacific by an aquarium hobbyist. That is probably what happened in the United States.

When the fish reaches the Pacific, the impact will be major on all the sport and commercial ventures related to fishing. Perhaps the only good news is that the lionfish is good eating.

In the meantime, the reefs are being watched closely for the first lionfish.

Thousands expected to try chili at Atenas cook off
By Thomas Ropp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They still talk about the batch of chili the Atenas firemen brought to the chili cook off.

“They had this metal tub of chili sitting on top of a huge propane tank,” said Chili Cook Off organizer Mary Cook. “The chili was so spicy it literary brought tears to everyone’s eyes.”

Another organizer, Bonnie Fluke, remembers a chili she would rather not.

“They forgot to cook the beans before putting them in the chili,” Ms. Fluke said. “It was a disaster.”

New memories of unforgettable chilies are about to be made at the Ninth Annual Atenas Chili Cook Off to be held Sunday, Jan. 31.

Event organizers expect between two and three thousand visitors and 20 teams of chili cooks.

The event has been growing exponentially and now attracts people from all over Costa Rica, Ms. Cook said.  That’s a far cry from the first cook off, which was organized by Tom and Kay Costello, former owners of Kay’s Gringo Postres.

“The first cook off was held at their restaurant in Atenas,” Ms. Cook said. “It

A grab from a video by Andy Browne
Chili is served at a prior event.

made all of two hundred dollars.”

Organizers of this year’s mega event hope to raise $15,000 for Hogar de Vida, which provides care for at-risk children in Costa Rica. Cook off organizers hope to use the money to help Hogar de Vida buy a tractor so organic food can be grown on its property.

In addition to chili tasting, the cook off will feature live music in the beer garden, rodeo events, bingo and fair vendors. The cook off is now held at the Sabana Larga Park bull ring 1 mile west of Atenas just off Ruta 3. Event hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Admission is 2,500 colons for adults, children under 10 are admitted free.

And oh yes, do expats have a winning chili? They still have time to be a participant.
More information at

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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.


Marco Cavallini & Associates
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Legal services

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Our reader's report
Cops scammed expat motorist for $650

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I want to inform the public about the police corruption I experienced during my drive from Jacó to Liberia area.

I drove past a slow moving semi-truck and, unfortunately, a police trap was waiting. The officers directed me to pull over. They were blue uniformed and had a blue truck and a tow truck was with them. They smiled and laughed when they realized I was a tourist. One officer asked for my passport and rental car registration. He said "Friend, you vacation is over. Please get out of the car."

The two officers walked me over to the tow truck. The smaller officer opened a little violation booklet filled with prices in U.S. dollars. He never informed me of what my violation was, but showed me the Spanish written booklet page with $600 written in.

The taller, thinner officer said "We can write you a ticket, and you must go to the bank and pay 600 dollars. But, my friend, we will do you a favor. Pay us $300, and no ticket."

The skinnier officer said to talk it over with my partner and walked away.

I complained and asked for leniency but no mercy from the chubby, shorter officer. I gave $300, and then he said, "I think you better give $50 more." He gave me my passport and said I could go. I got in my rental car, and he came up to the window and said "No ticket, no ticket."

I turned around and went back to Jacó. I gave up on visiting Liberia and the coastal area. The next day I visited a friend in Hermosa and his Costa Rican wife. I told them my story. The wife was mad and called the police chief in the Liberia area and reported my story. He said they know officers are scamming people. He told her I should go back to Liberia and fill out a report.

I told her without a third party representative I am worried to go to the Liberia police station. The next day I talked with another friend, and he told me there is a Judicial Investigating Office in Jacó. I went to the office in Jacó and filled out a report.

The Liberia police chief said passing on a double yellow line ticket would only cost around a $100 at most. I believe that is what my violation was.

But the officers never said what my violation was. I was so intimidated that whatever they said, I could not have argued. The thinner, taller officer kept making like he was getting the tow truck ready to take my car.

William Castro

Cuban airlifts expected to resume Feb. 4

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Many of the Cuban migrants in Costa Rica will be living in public shelters for some time.

The foreign ministry said Wednesday that air flights will begin Feb. 4 to follow the same route as a pilot trip Jan. 12. The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto said it anticipated two trips a week to advance the migrants towards their destination, the United States.

Considering that there are perhaps 8,000 Cubans awaiting the airlift in Costa Rica, some 22 weeks will be needed to airlift them all. Seven flight are planned for February, the ministry said.

The Jan. 12 flight with Avianca carried 180 Cubans.

So far the Costa Rican government said it has spent $1 million in housing and helping the Cubans. But the air trip cost each of the 180 passengers $550. That paid for the air flight to El Salvador, bus rides to the Mexican border and visas for El Salvador and Guatemala.

Still undetermined is how Cubans without sufficient money will make the trip. The migrants were expecting to follow a much cheaper land route through Nicaragua, but that country closed its borders to them in mid-November, causing the delay.

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería in Costa Rica is in the process of renewing transit visas for the stranded migrants.

Regional officials worked out the latest plan in a meeting Wednesday in Guatemala.

Youth detained after robbery of tourist

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An 18 year old with a record of drug arrests has been detained in Cahuita on the Caribbean coast after a robbery involving a tourist.

They said the agency received the alert around 3 a.m. Officers located a tourist near Playa Salsa Brava who told them that a man brandished a broken bottle to threaten him and take 10,000 colons, a bit less than $20.

Officers said they received help from residents to locate the suspect and recover the money. They said they also confiscated a small quantity of cocaine.

Officers identified the suspect as a man who has been involved with the police in the past over drugs.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 14
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Central government tries to soften negative debt rating from Fitch
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Reading about national finances is about as interesting as watching paint dry, but in the long run what a government does with its money determines how pleasant the future will be.

That is why Casa Presidencial quickly came out with an upbeat press release Wednesday when the Fitch rating organization affirmed the country's unsecured foreign- and local-currency bonds at BB+. That rating is classified by Fitch as non-investment grade speculative.

The bottom line is that Costa Rica will have even more trouble selling its bonds to investors. The country had hoped that the People's Republic of China would purchase $1 billion in bonds, but the Chinese declined, perhaps due to that country's own problems.

Fitch is one of the major rating agencies on which investors depend. Everyone who issues bonds and other debt instruments wants to be AAA.

Casa Presidencial cited what it called obstruction by legislators to the passage of new taxes. It quoted Helio Fallas, the vice president and minister of Hacienda saying that tax collection had increased 10 percent last year.

Unfortunately the minister also reported that the nation's
deficit rose to 5.9 percent of the value of the country's gross domestic product.

The deficit was not lost on Fitch. The rating agency said:

"The negative outlook reflects adverse public debt dynamics, driven by large fiscal deficits, and legislative gridlock preventing progress on reforms to correct fiscal imbalances in a timely manner."

It said that a 2016 deficit of 6.9 percent is likely.

Favorable factors include an improving U.S. economy and lower petroleum prices, said that agency. However, it said it doubted that the current tax proposals could eliminate the deficit.

The central government will use the Fitch report to pressure lawmakers to pass a value-added tax and higher income tax rates. But there is resistance because the Luis Guillermo Solís administration has not outlined clear steps to drastically cut the deficit.

Fallas, himself, is lobbying to purchase the Corporativo El Tobogán for $121.7 million.  And the legislature has plans for a $77 million office tower.

Automatic cameras capture rare shots of elusive jungle dogs
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Biologists say they have captured photos of one of the most elusive dogs in the world.

The photos of the bush dogs, which live in Central and South America, may also prove the rarely seen and threatened species is somewhat more common than previously thought.

The photos were taken using automated camera traps, using infrared sensors, in remote areas of Panamá by Ricardo Moreno, a research associate for the Smithsonian Institution.

"Our group of biologists from Yaguará, Panamá, and collaborators are working on an article about big mammals using camera trapping data that spans Panamá from the Costa Rican border to the Colombian border," said Moreno. "The bush dog is one of the rarest species that we photograph."

Bush dogs, or Speothos venaticus, are “short-legged and stubby, standing only about a foot tall at the shoulder,” researchers said. That's about 30 centimeters.

Like other dogs, bush dogs hunt in packs of up to 10 and are known to speak to each other using high-pitched whines. They eat mostly large forest rodents.

To get an idea about how elusive the bush dog can be, photos of the dog were obtained only 11 times over the

bush dogs
Smithsonian Institution/Ricardo Moreno
Bush dogs are seen in this camera trap photo taken in the wet tropical forests of Pirre, Darién Province, Panamá.

course of 32,000 camera days, the number of cameras times the days in operation.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, bush dog populations have dropped by up to 25 percent over the past 12 years, meaning it is classified as a near-threatened species.

While they are not directly hunted and killed by humans, habitat loss is having an impact. The dogs are believed to range over areas up to 700 square kilometers. It is estimated that Panamá lost 15 percent of its rainforest from 1990 to 2010.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 14
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Missouri researchers say they have flu shots trick that works for babies
By the University of Missouri news staff

The World Health Organization says influenza causes serious illness among millions of people each year, resulting in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths. Those most at risk include infants younger than 6 months, because they cannot be vaccinated against the disease.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine have identified a naturally occurring protein that, when added to the flu vaccine, may offer protection to babies during their first months of life.

“Influenza vaccine works by stimulating a person’s immune system to make antibodies that attack the flu virus,” said Michael Sherman, professor emeritus in the University of Missouri School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “However, infants younger than six months do not make antibodies when given flu vaccine. This is because the immune systems of these very young babies do not respond to additive, within the vaccine that boosts the body’s immune response when confronted with a virus.”

The additive used in most vaccines is aluminum hydroxide, an additive that essentially acts as an irritant to attract white blood cells called neutrophils to the vaccination site. Neutrophils secrete the protein lactoferrin, which works with the immune system to impede the virus’s ability to survive in the body. However, in premature and term infants, aluminum hydroxide does not make immature immune cells work better. In this very young group, only the smaller amount of naturally occurring lactoferrin found near the vaccination site improves the immune response.

“It is well documented that infants obtain protection against certain infections from nutrients found in breast milk,” Sherman said. “Lactoferrin is the major protein in a mother’s milk and boosts her infant’s immune system to fight infection. In theory, we felt that we could create a vaccine by replacing ALUM with lactoferrin as an additive.”

To test their hypothesis, Sherman’s team studied mice vaccinated with either the aluminum hydroxide or lactoferrin. The mice, whose ages approximated those of human infants younger and older than six months, received the H1N1 influenza virus. The results indicated that lactoferrin worked slightly better than aluminum hydroxide as an adjuvant. Lactoferrin also provided four to five times the protection against influenza, compared to the control group that received an influenza vaccine without an adjuvant.

“Currently, the best protection for neonatal babies is to vaccinate the mother and all those who will have close contact with the infant,” Sherman said, adding:

“Our recent study was meant to test the possibility of creating a safe and effective flu vaccine for very high-risk premature infants. Now that we have, we feel that the use of a natural protein would make immunization not only possible but more accepted.”

Through future studies, Sherman and his team will study lactoferrin’s ability to prevent secondary infections such as pneumonia, as well as the possibility that the protein could be used as an additive in other vaccines.

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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SOON with the coming of new power company regulations, we'll be installing PV (photo voltaic) for solar electricity. Yes, at last!
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Real estate rental services (paid category)

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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Real estate for rent (paid category)
Fully Furnished American style Apartments for Rent
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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 14
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Axiom 890 pixels

U.S. Senate fails to advance
restrictive rules on immigrants

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Legislation restricting America’s acceptance of refugees from Syria and Iraq failed in the Senate Wednesday after passionate debate about U.S. security needs and the nation’s long history as a destination for the oppressed.
Senate Democrats banded together to block debate on a bill requiring the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the director of national intelligence to certify that Syrian and Iraqi refugees posed no security risk before they could be approved for asylum.
“That is physically impossible,” said Democrat Richard Durbin. “Let’s call it for what it is. This is an effort to stop any – any – Syrian refugee from coming to the United States, regardless whether it’s a mother with a child.”
Backers of the legislation, which fell five votes short of the 60 required to advance, disagreed.
“This is not an anti-refugee bill,” said Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican. “All we are asking for, and all this legislation provides for, is to enhance the screening of refugees so that this system cannot be exploited by terrorists.”

The House of Representatives passed the measure late last year with bipartisan support. The vote came as the world reeled from Islamic State-inspired attacks in Paris and amid concerns that terrorists could infiltrate those fleeing horrific violence and brutality.
“The debate about how to safely admit refugees from Syria and Iraq is a serious conversation that deserves a serious response from Washington,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican. “It’s difficult to effectively vet immigrants from a war-torn country where records may sometimes no longer exist at all.”

The White House said the legislation was not needed, as refugees already undergo an intensive vetting process that can take as long as two years. The White House also said the bill would tarnish America's image abroad and hand Islamic State a propaganda tool.

The Senate’s top Democrat echoed that line of reasoning.
“This bill scapegoats refugees who are fleeing war and torture instead of creating real solutions to keep Americans safe,” said Minority Leader Harry Reid.
At times, Senate floor debate strayed from the immediate question at hand. Republicans argued the refugee crisis might have been less severe if President Barack Obama had acted sooner and more aggressively to counter the Islamic State.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Tim Kaine took the opportunity to renew his call that Congress formally authorize military action against Islamic State.
Last year, the Obama administration said the United States would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees - a tiny fraction of the numbers arriving in Germany and elsewhere.

Inauguration is a year away
for the next U.S. president

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One year from Wednesday, the next president of the United States will take office. But between now and then, the country will embark on a long, complicated and unique democratic process to determine who that will be.

Right now, it's anyone's guess, since the field of candidates in both major parties is still very large.

In the race for the Democratic Party nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-declared democratic socialist, is gaining ground on Hillary Clinton, the ex-secretary of State. But Sanders remains nearly 13 points behind Mrs. Clinton, according to a RealClearPolitics average of recent nationwide polls. Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley is still in the race, although he has failed to gain any momentum.

The Republican contest is more uncertain, with a whopping 12 candidates still vying to become the party's nominee. In recent weeks a top tier has formed in the GOP race. It consists of billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Trump and Cruz are competing for the support of disaffected voters in the party's ultra right wing, while Rubio is trying to appeal to a more centrist crowd.

After that, a second tier has emerged, consisting both of establishment and right-wing candidates that have struggled to gain any significant level of support.

Though the campaign has dominated U.S. news headlines for over half a year, the actual election hasn't even begun yet. That will change in less than two weeks, when a series of state-by-state votes gets underway. Collectively, this process is referred to as the primary election.

The goal of the primaries is for each major political party to choose a nominee to compete against each other in November's general election. This is done by assigning delegates, or party representatives, to candidates based on the results of each state vote. To become the nominee, a candidate must secure a simple majority of his party's delegates.

Young Latinos are key bloc
in the next U.S. election

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The influence of Latinos in U.S. elections may be growing, specifically that of  millennials.

Millennials, generally defined as those born in 1981 or later, make up 44 percent of the record 27.3 million Hispanic eligible voters for 2016, according to a Pew Research Center study released Tuesday. That means there are more Hispanic millennials than millennials in any other racial or ethnic group.

Young Latino numbers have been proportionally significant for some years now. By 2000, 43 percent of Hispanic eligible voters were between 18 and 35 years old. The share has remained steady since then.

In 2016, a projected 11.9 million Hispanic millennials will be eligible to participate in elections.

And Latinos are projected to make up a record 11.9 percent of all U.S. eligible voters in this year’s presidential election. The Latino vote, therefore, could have a bigger effect this year, although it is still likely to be underrepresented in comparison with those of other racial groups, the Pew study said.

There are several factors to blame, Pew said. One of them is that turnout rates for Latinos have historically been lower than those of other groups. In 2012, less than 48 percent of Hispanic eligible voters went to the polls, whereas 64.1 percent of whites and 66.6 percent of blacks cast votes.

Hispanic millennials are even less likely to vote. In 2012, just 36.8 percent of Latino millennials voted, while 47.5 percent of white millennials and 55 percent of black millennials went to the polls.

Latino millennials also register to vote at a lower rate than any other demographic bloc. Only 50 percent of Hispanic millennial eligible voters said they had registered to go to the polls in 2012.

Another reason Latinos might not vote is that few states with heavy Hispanic populations will be battleground states in the 2016 presidential election. Hispanic voters are less likely to be courted by candidates in states like California, Texas and New York. This reduces the likelihood of that bloc showing up and voting. Those three states account for 52 percent of all Latino eligible voters in 2016.

Florida, Nevada and Colorado, however, are likely to be battleground states. The eligible voting population in each of those states is more than 14 percent Hispanic.

If Hispanic millennials were to turn out in those states, they could be a substantial influence in this year's election. Historically, Hispanics have leaned heavily Democratic.

Death of Russian defector
might become clearer today

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The mystery of the poisoning death of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko may be solved today when a British judge releases the findings of his inquiry.

Litvinenko died nearly 10 years ago after he was allegedly poisoned by a cup of tea laced with polonium 210, a rare radioactive isotope.  From his death bed, he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his assassination.

The former Russian intelligence officer had become an outspoken critic of Putin before fleeing Russia and eventually settling in London.

Moscow has always denied any involvement in his death and has dismissed the inquiry as politically motivated.

British judge Robert Owen will release the long-awaited findings, and he is likely to point a finger of blame at the Russian state.

British police have accused Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi, the two Russian former KGB agents Litvinenko met for tea, of carrying out the killing.  They confirmed meeting with Litvinenko in London on several occasions, including at the time of the suspected poisoning, but deny any involvement in his death.  Russia has refused to extradite them.

If the report links the crime to Putin, it could worsen Britain's relations with Russia, which are already strained.

Some say U.S. sacrificed Jew
to reach nuclear pact with Iran

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As Americans celebrate the safe release of five prisoners from Iran, some members of the U.S. Jewish community are expressing outrage that Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran nine years ago, was left behind.  Some have gone so far as to suggest that the Obama administration sacrificed Levinson in order to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran.

On Facebook, Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor Caroline Glick slammed the White House.

“In one day, President Obama screwed Israel, American Jewry and world Jewry . . . by abandoning FBI officer Robert Levinson in Iran, sealing his death warrant, and in so doing made clear that Jews are second-class citizens and not worthy of the same protection as all other Americans,” she wrote.

Israeli political insider Josef Olmert, now adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina, said he shares her sense of betrayal.

“One Jew would never be allowed to be in the way of the historic agreement with Iran,” he blogged in the Times of Israel, calling on American Jewish groups who support the nuclear agreement “to look us in the collective white of our eyes and explain how come the administration, which they so support, allowed this outrage of abandoning one poor Jew to his fate.”

Olmert said the fact the United States failed to secure Levinson’s release is viewed by many as a U.S. gesture to appease Iran.

“Moreover, it’s an indication, on top of others, of the resentment of the Obama administration towards Israel,” he said.

But Jeffrey Salkin, author and senior rabbi at Temple Solel in Hollywood, Florida, cautions against what he calls an Obama-phobic narrative in the wake of the Iran deal. 

"There is no reason to believe that at all, and certainly I would not support whatsoever any narrative that the Obama administration threw him under the bus for his ethnicity or for any other reason,” Salkin said.

And most mainstream Jewish organizations, it would seem, agree.

“We hope that the regime will soon release American prisoner Robert Levinson, who has been held captive in Iran for nearly nine years and whose fate remains unknown,” read a statement released by the Anti-Defamation League Saturday, the day the five American prisoners were freed.

Salkin said he believes that many members of the American Jewish establishment are uncomfortable criticizing the administration.

Sunday, President Barack Obama said that Iran would “deepen its coordination” with the U.S. to locate Levinson.

Levinson, a former FBI agent, disappeared in March 2007 on Iran’s Kish Island.  Initially, the U.S. State Department said he was working as a private investigator, probing cigarette smuggling.  A later Associated Press report revealed Levinson had been on an unauthorized mission for the CIA to gather intelligence on Iran.

The last person to see him alive, an American fugitive wanted for the 1980 murder of an Iranian diplomat in Maryland, said Levinson was arrested by Iranian authorities.

Court case over hovercraft
challenges federal controls

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Outdoorsman John Sturgeon's fight with the U.S. government is about much more than whether the National Park Service can ban his use of a hovercraft to travel over otherwise inaccessible parts of Alaska's Nation River.

The former Alaskan chief forester's legal battle has tapped into deep-seated anger at Washington and a passionate desire among Alaskans to preserve a way of life, including lots of hunting and fishing and unrestricted use of the rivers that cut through the state's wild hinterlands.

That's why Sturgeon and his lawyer, Matthew Findley, were joined Wednesday at the U.S. Supreme Court by a slew of Alaskan media outlets, Sen. Dan Sullivan and a group of personal friends and benefactors.

​They watched as attorneys argued the case, which comes amid an ongoing siege in Oregon, where armed protesters are occupying a federal wildlife reserve and calling for Washington to cede control of its vast landholdings in the West to ranchers and local governments.

"We think this case is about federal overreach, that's about it," Sturgeon said outside the court.

So do state officials from Alaska, where 60 percent of the land, an area bigger than California, is under federal control.

Alaska's amicus brief supporting Sturgeon says lower-court rulings against him "threaten not only the state's sovereignty . . . but also the way of life of ordinary Alaskan citizens."

"All of our food except fish and game is imported and expensive," said Rod Arno, executive director of the Alaska Outdoor Council, which raised more than $220,000 since October to support the court case.

In 2007, Sturgeon was on his way to hunt moose in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, also part of the national park system in Alaska, when his hovercraft broke down.

Even though Sturgeon had used his 10-foot rubber boat for years in the Yukon-Charley, National Park Service officers who found him repairing a steering cable told him noisy hovercraft, which skim over rocky rivers and other difficult terrain on a cushion of air, were banned in all national parks, even in Alaska.

The officers threatened Sturgeon with criminal prosecution when he challenged their authority to enforce the ban on hovercraft. However, Sturgeon was not actually hovering over federal land, but over state land managed by the Park Service within the Yukon-Charlie.

A district judge and a unanimous panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Sturgeon, saying the law clearly supports the Park Service.

But Wednesday, Sullivan appeared confident the nation's highest court would overturn those rulings.

"Nobody was defending the 9th Circuit," the senator said. "Yet the National Park Service continues to use a flawed opinion to promulgate more regulations, including those covering oil and gas."

The justices are expected to rule on the case later this year.

Gravitation evidence hints
at yet another big planet

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One of the scientists responsible for demoting Pluto in the solar system may have found a replacement. 

California Institute of  Technology astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin have run the numbers and say they are convinced they have found a giant planet way out in the farthest reaches of the sun's gravitational reach. 

The scientists say they have not seen the planet, but have determined that something they call a distant eccentric planet is pushing around a bunch of smaller objects out in deep space.  They do know, by its gravitational effects, it is huge, likely at least 10 times bigger than Earth.  That is almost as large as Neptune.

They have not given it a name, but say that if it is out there telescopes should be able to see it within the next few years. 

The prospective planet is so far away one orbit of the sun takes more than 10,000 years. 

But its size is one of the reasons the researchers say they were able to find the distant object without actually seeing it. 

The two researchers set out to explain why smaller planetary bodies like Sedna, another distant object Brown discovered, were lined up in odd orbits. 

Brown asked Batygin to help him figure out the weird orbits, and when they did the math the only thing that made sense was a much larger planet's gravity was pulling on Sedna and a bunch of other smallish objects out in the deepest, darkest parts of our solar system.

Brown isn't only in the business of finding planets, he's also responsible for killing them.  Brown's discovery of Sedna, a so-called minor planet and Eris, both of which are larger than Pluto led the International Astronomical Union to create a new classification for planets in 2006. 

Pluto, along with Eris, Ceres and a few others no longer made the cut and were reclassified as dwarf planets.  But the astronomers say the new discovery is big enough to be classified as a bona-fide planet.
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or 506-8314-8090


Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Axiom one

Sierra Collection. Meridian House or Chateau Montage.
Near Parque Nacional Marino Ballena,
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Axiom two
The Terraces at San Martin.  Discover the essence of Costa Rica on our Luxury Ocean View Villas . Near Dominicalito Beach and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena.
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Axiom three
Ellan At Ballena Beach.  Welcome to a world of endless adventure on our beachside condominiums at Ballena Beach, Pacific Coast.  For more information click  HERE!
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Rich Coast Rollover
Thinking of Buying a Vacation or Retirement Home
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Rich Coast Realty is a full-service real estate company with property listings in Escazú, Santa Ana, Jacó, Esterillos, Bejuco, Palo Seco, Manuel Antonio, and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. We work hard to find you the property of your dreams, and assist with legal advice, residency, starting corporations, opening bank accounts, etc. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in, and relocating to Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate, we look forward to hearing from you.
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Photo montage of penthouse
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* 3 bedrooms.
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* Enjoy the view,  CLICK HERE
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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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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:  8725-8176.  Email:


Caribbean paradise: CAHUITA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 14
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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
Storm likely to affect tourism here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire services

Snow has hit parts of the U.S. East and more is on the way.

The storm will have the usual seasonal effect on tourist arrivals and exits as some airline flights most certainly will be canceled. But the storms also may have more residents of the great white north thinking about Costa Rican beaches.

Wednesday, snow from a separate system fell in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, where up to 5 inches was expected. Louisville received 3 inches of snow Wednesday morning, which caused dozens of accidents. Nashville also reported snow, closing schools and causing traffic problems.

The major winter storm that could bring historic amounts of snowfall to certain regions is expected to hit the East Coast of the United States this weekend, according to meteorologists at the National Weather Service.

The storm could impact East Coast regions as far south as northern North Carolina and as far north as Boston.

The weather service warned that travel will be limited if not impossible in the areas where blizzard conditions are forecast. The strongest winds and potentially life-threatening conditions are expected Friday night through Saturday night.

In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that more than 2,000 residents have joined the city's resident snow team to help elderly and disabled neighbors shovel out after the storm.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city's emergency management team unveiled a public service video on preparing for brutal winter weather. Tips include winterizing go bags by adding a blanket, warm socks and gloves. Emergency supply kits including a battery-operated radio also are encouraged.

In Costa Rica, the problem was wind, which is typical this time of year. The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said its crews handled 130 power outages Tuesday and Wednesday. The areas listed as affected the most were Naranjo, Puriscal and Alajuela Centro, as well as Turrúcares  in Alajuela province and Nosara on the Pacific coast.

In some cases, utility poles fell, the company said.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said it had to take down the Costa Rican flag that flies over the Rotonda de la Bandera in Montes de Oca because of the wind. The ministry said a crew will use the time to do maintenance on the system that raises and lowers the flag.

Major highway to get center divider

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Highway officials will have contractors at work starting Monday to install a center concrete barrier for 14 kilometers of the carretera Florencio del Castillo from Curridabat to Cartago.

This is a $2.8 million job that will be done between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for about three months, said the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

The Sala IV constitutional court ordered some of the work several years ago after a spectacular accident that claimed five lives. The Consejo said it is installing a divider much longer than the court required.

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From Page 7:

Some see turbulent market as opportunity

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Wednesday after another drop in oil prices prompted selloffs from Asia to New York, the Dow Jones Industrial index plunged more than 500 points before cutting its losses in half as U.S. markets closed. The volatility and steep declines in stock futures reflect a growing sense of unease about the global economy.
Analysts say a combination of factors: the slowdown in China and the steep plunge in oil prices.

Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital said that crude oil going lower has really sparked global fears of not just a recession in China but really a global slowdown. But the simpler explanation may be pessimism, he added.

CEOs today are feeling a lot less optimistic than they did just a year ago, said PriceWaterhouseCooper CEO Dennis Nally.

Nally says the accounting firm's latest survey of business executives from over 80 countries shows about one in four believe the global economy is on the right track, compared with almost half just two years ago.

Had they conducted the survey this year, the sentiment might have been worse.

"If we would have done the survey in the first two weeks of January, given the environment that exists today, it would even be worse, so it's not a pretty picture to say the least," he said.

And it's a picture tarnished by the economic slowdown in China, according to New York Stock Exchange governor Peter Costa. "You have to be very concerned whenever Chinese growth is lagging because that definitely has an effect on U.S. corporations and multi-nationals," he said. "There's a lot of companies that do business with China, and if their businesses cut back somewhat because of the slowdown in China, it definitely affects U.S. earnings."

Still, many believe the U.S. economy is resilient enough to weather the storm.
"We do see the risk of a recession as rather low, we put it at about 10 to 15 percent, which is pretty slim," said Standard and Poors's Beth Ann Bovino.

Veru advises investors to look at the start of 2016 as part of a larger picture. "I believe ultimately we'll look back on this period of time, whether it's today or two weeks from now, that you could have made a lot of money if you put your money to work into financial assets," he said.