A.M. Costa Rica
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(506) 2223-1327                                   San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 21                                  Email us
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St. Valentine's Day gift: The dangerous selection
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Romance is in the air, St. Valentine's Day is coming, and men have but one thought: "How am I going to stay out of trouble this Feb. 14."

Indeed, behaving romantic on Feb. 14 is like walking gingerly across a newly frozen pond. A simple misstep can be like a frigid water bath.

As an example, there is an expat who gave his wife membership in a gym as a St. Valentine's Day gift last year. Doctors say the scar will not be very noticeable in a few years.

Female staffers at A.M. Costa Rica concluded that anything having to do with the kitchen is out. Mothers will smile politely and accept rice cookers, blenders and similar appliances on their day.

Not so the other females of the species.

The staffers also concluded that anything having to do with gardening and work outdoors also is a bad idea unless the recipient is a garden columnist.

The old tried-and-true St. Valentine's Day gifts are, of course, flowers, candy and a romantic dinner out.

What most expats do not know is that Latin women are schooled in the deep and extensive meanings of flowers and their colors. This is like Womanhood 101. Pick the wrong one, and there will be an early frost.

The gift of candy should not be accompanied by the above-mentioned gym
A.M. Costa Rica graphic

membership. A clever Don Juan can survive by calling the gym a spa. Women like spas.

Diamonds, of course, are a girl's best friend, and the local malls have outlets for world famous jewelers.

Assuming that a $20,000 baggette is out of the picture, a sophisticated expat could just choose to take the wife or girlfriend to a first-class restaurant. But he probably should not take both at the same time unless they are really good friends.

Now if she is a real woman, the gift of a six pack of Imperial will do the trick. After all there is nothing more classy than the epitome of the brewer's art. More delicate ladies might require something a little more top shelf, like Bailey's or Courvoisier. And, as they say, liquor is quicker.

Considering the women outnumber men and live longer,  a brave suitor could make the argument that the women should be giving the man a gift on St. Valentine's day. Let the feminist mafia chew on that one for awhile.

Weather expected to turn windy and chilly today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is another cold front that will bring higher winds to Costa Rica, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said Thursday. The weather institute predicted that the winds would pick up this morning and continue through the weekend.

The major intensity of the wind will be in the mountains, but gusts of from 60 to 80 kph (37 to 50 mph) were expected in Guanacaste and
of from 50 to 75 kph (31 to 47 mph) in the Central Valley, the institute said.

Light rain and cloudiness is expected on the
Caribbean coast and in the northern zone beginning today with a general drop in daytime temperatures in the center of the country and in the mountains, said the forecast.

The central and southern Pacific coasts also were expected to get higher winds in the higher elevations with mostly clear skies from today through the weekend.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional suggested precautions due to the wind and a halt to outdoor burning.

It said pilots and vehicle drivers should be alert for turbulence in the mountains.

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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Marco Cavallini & Associates
Dental Implants and Crowns

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Fine art restoration and conservation

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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
the Goicoechea court, San José.

Real estate agents and services


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What readers need to know about zika

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that is sweeping through South and Central America. Its initial symptoms are mild. The main ones, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis or red eyes. Severe cases can linger for up to a month and sometimes send patients to the hospital.

The real threat, according to the Centers, seems to be a link between zika and a serious birth defect called microcephaly, in which the baby’s head is unusually small "compared to babies of the same sex and age." The defect has shown up in the babies of women infected with zika during pregnancy.

The World Health Association says the virus’ arrival in Brazil also has been associated with a rise there in cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder that can produce muscle weakness and even paralysis.

The Centers say that knowledge of the link between zika and these outcomes is evolving. Until more is known, it recommends special precautions for the women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

Likewise, the World Health Organization says "a causal relationship between zika virus infection and birth defects and neurological syndromes has not been established but is strongly suspected." It’s convening an emergency meeting Monday in Geneva on the virus. 

Zika was discovered in 1947 in Uganda's Zika forest. Up until 2007, outbreaks were rare and narrowly confined to areas of Africa and Southeast Asia. But in the past decade, epidemics have been reported in Micronesia and Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia.

The first case in South America was identified last May in Brazil. Since then, the disease has spread rapidly through most of Central and South America. Brazil’s health ministry recently reported more than 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly since October, compared with less than 150 in all of 2014, the Associated Press reported this week.

So far, more than 1 million cases have been reported in Brazil alone. But World Health says it expects the disease to affect between 3 and 4 million people before it runs its course. Only an estimated one in five people exposed to the disease will become ill, but all of them can transmit the disease through mosquitoes feeding on them and then infecting other people.

There is no vaccine or medical treatment currently available for zika. World Health and the Centers recommend rest, plenty of fluids and acetaminophen for fever and pain.  The Centers recommend that infected patients avoid mosquitoes because zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites.

The Centers issued a Level 2 alert and has urged travelers to the region to practice enhanced precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using insect repellants containing DEET or permethrin-treated clothing. Finally, they should sleep in covered or air-conditioned areas.

Also, women who are pregnant, in any trimester, should consider postponing travel or at least talk with a doctor about the best ways to avoid mosquito bites, the Centers said. The same goes for women who are trying to become pregnant.

Any number of researchers and research institutions are looking for a vaccine and a treatment. Until they’re successful, the best way to fight the disease is to combat the mosquitoes that carry the virus.

Officials in Brazil and some of the 22 other countries reporting zika cases are conducting mass spraying of pesticide and urging citizens to empty any standing water containers as a way to prevent breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Our reader's opinion
Equality is not political correctness

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Phil Baker has written numerous articles regarding living in Costa Rica.  I thank him for informing the public over the years in his articles.  He has made life easier for many here with his deep knowledge of how to live and survive in Costa Rica.  Plus he seems to be a nice guy.  I think he should stick to those subjects and not venture into the societal side of world dynamics.  I think he has it wrong calling more equal access for women and minorities political correctness.  He asks "what happened to earning your way by being better at what you do."

That would be fine if there was a more even playing field.

White males, especially older white males, have dominated cultures, religion and the world for thousands of years.  Women have been subjugated to a lesser role because of this.  Peoples of color have not gotten a fair shake throughout this time.  The playing field is attempting to be more balanced and male white domination doesn't like it.  Where has this great male leadership gotten us?  We have wars going on continually.  We have poverty and starvation worldwide and to a much less degree in male white societies.  Higher paying jobs and positions still favors white males.  Even the majority of studies on diseases are focused on white males.

The issue of equality is not about being politically correct.  I am not known to be politically correct by many, so I don't fall into that category.  It is about time women and minorities are asking for their fair share of participation on all matters.  The ratio of men to women is roughly 1:1 yet that is not represented in the bigger picture of equality on most issues.

Henry Kantrowitz
Punta Leona

News for the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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Government considers increasing the frequency of Cuban flights
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is seeking to step up the frequency of air flights to bring Cuban migrants to the Mexican border.

Casa Presidencial said that President Luis Guillermo Solís met with presidents Enrique Peña Nieto of México and Jimmy Morales of Guatemala Wednesday after a regional meeting to discuss the issue.

The government would need about five months to transport an estimated 8,000 Cubans stranded here with the current schedule of two flights a week.

Meanwhile some of the migrants are being transferred from public shelters that were set up in schools because classes begin Tuesday.

In Sarchí Wednesday some 50 migrants went from the Escuela de Zarchí Sur to a local church. Thursday some 133 migrants were transported from the Paso Canoas and La Cuesta schools in the canton of  Corredores to the Cruz Roja facilities in  Ciudad Cortés.

The national emergency commission said that many of the Cubans assisted with making the transfer by moving materials and cleaning.

Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias photo
Moving the foam mattresses and other materials in the public shelters is a big job.

Sala IV will consider a challenge to the 10 percent foreign beer tax
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those who drink imported beer have to ante up 10 percent more to buy the drink than if they preferred Costa Rican products.

This is one of those little known taxes that have been in force for years. In the case of the beer tax, the law went into effect in 1936.

But now it is being challenged. The Poder Judicial said Thursday that a constitutional appeal has been lodged with the Sala IV.

The names of those making the appeal were not available, but they also cited international commercial treaties that say foreign products should not face price discrimination. The Sala IV last week agreed to consider the appeal, the Poder Judicial said.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Babylonians used geometry to track Jupiter, new discovery shows
By the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin news staff

Scientist have discovered that Babylonian astronomers computed the position of Jupiter with geometric methods.

This is revealed by an analysis of three published and two unpublished cuneiform tablets from the British Museum by Mathieu Ossendrijver, historian of science of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. The tablets date from the period between 350 and 50 B.C. Historians of science thus far assumed that geometrical computations of the kind found on these tablets were first carried out in the 14th century. Moreover, it was assumed that Babylonian astronomers used only arithmetical methods.

"The new interpretation reveals that Babylonian astronomers also used geometrical methods," said Ossendrijver. His results are published in the current issue of the journal Science.

On four of these tablets the distance covered by Jupiter is computed as the area of a figure that represents how its velocity changes with time. None of the tablets contains drawings but, as Mathieu Ossendrijver explains, the texts describe the figure of which the area is computed as a trapezoid. Two of these so-called trapezoid texts had been known since 1955, but their meaning remained unclear, even after two further tablets with these operations were discovered in recent years.

One reason for the lack of clarity was the damaged state of the tablets, which were excavated unscientifically in Babylon, near its main temple Esagila, in the 19th century. Another reason was, that the calculations could not be connected to a particular planet. The new interpretation of the trapezoid texts was now prompted by a newly discovered, almost completely preserved fifth tablet. A colleague from Vienna who visited the Berlin university in 2014, Hermann Hunger, drew the attention of Ossendrijver to this tablet. He presented him with an old photograph of the tablet that was made in the British Museum.

The new tablet does not mention a trapezoid figure, but it does contain a computation that is mathematically equivalent to the other ones. This computation can be uniquely assigned to the planet Jupiter. With this new

A portion of a clay tablet dating from 350 to 50 B.C. is seen in a photo released by the trustees of the British Museum and Mathieu Ossendrijver.

insight the other, thus far incomprehensible tablets could also be deciphered.

"These computations anticipate the use of similar techniques by European scholars, but they were carried out at least 14 centuries earlier," says Ossendrijver. The so-called Oxford calculators, a group of scholastic mathematicians, who worked at Merton College, Oxford, in the 14th century, are credited with the Mertonian mean speed theorem. This theorem yields the distance traveled by a uniformly decelerating body, final velocities.

In the same century Nicole Oresme, a bishop and scholastic philosopher in Paris, devised graphical methods that enabled him to prove this relation. The Babylonian trapezoid procedures can be viewed as a concrete example of the same computation.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
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Real estate-related services (paid category)
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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Cell phone: 506-8898-9398
or 506-8314-8090


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 
centers, but are surrounded in lush, tropical forest. Villas are also available for sale in our inventory, so you can enjoy yearly vacations to this mesmerizing rainforest paradise. Please visit our rental inventory HERE!  or call us toll free at 877-815-4227, International: 603-516-0200.  Email:

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
tropical homes
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Real estate for rent (paid category)
                                              Valley view

Boutique quality mountain homes for rent located on a small horse ranch on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes have stunning views of Costa Rica's Central Valley. Located at 7,300-foot altitude, our ranch borders the Braulio Carrillo National Park and the homes are hiking distance to the Barva Volcano crater lake. We offer various rental options for our 1- and 2-bedroom homes. Contact us at Ajsanch783@AOL.COM for more details.

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,
hotels, restaurants, casinos, city government, national registry. $650 per month plus electricity. ½ month security deposit. No lease.  The larger apartments are $650 per month. They have larger bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. It would be best for the prospective tenants to visit
Barrio Amon
the building to see the apartments.   For more information contact:  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.

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About us
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 20
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30th Challenger anniversary
marked by NASA in Florida

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

NASA held an emotional memorial service at Cape Canaveral, Florida, Thursday for the seven astronauts killed when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded moments after launch 30 years ago.

Hundreds attended the service, including relatives of all U.S. astronauts and space workers killed in the line of duty since the founding in 1958 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

They include three astronauts killed in a launch pad fire in 1967 and the seven who died when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart on its return to Earth in 2003.

President Barack Obama sent out a statement Thursday, saying reaching for unbounded heights has helped make the United States what it is today.

"We must never forget the courageous Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to expand the boundaries of understanding. They knew the risks and still chose to put their lives on the line so that future generations could lead lives made better by advances in science, technology and a deeper understanding of our universe and humanity's place therein."

Obama quoted former president Ronald Reagan, who said on the day of the Challenger disaster in 1986, "The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted. It belongs to the brave."

Americans had taken safe space flight for granted by 1986 and were stunned beyond words when the Challenger exploded one minute and 13 seconds after lifting off from Cape Canaveral.

Millions saw the tragedy on television as it happened. It is believed the astronauts died almost instantly.

Among those killed was school teacher Christa McAuliffe, America's first-ever civilian astronaut.

An investigation revealed that a fuel leak in one of the space shuttle's booster rockets led to the accident.

Exercise discounted as way
to eliminate excess weight

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bad news for those who are still trying to work off those holiday pounds: No matter how much exercise you get, if that’s all you do, the needle on your scale is unlikely to move very much. 

A new study has found that while exercise is good, it may not help with weight loss.

That finding by Herman Pontzer, an anthropologist at New York's Hunter College, stems from an earlier study that he and his colleagues conducted looking at a tribe in Tanzania.

“I did a project measuring energy expenditure in a traditional hunting and gathering population called the Hadza, who live in northern Tanzania. And they don’t have any farming and machines and anything like that. They are very active every day, walking a lot to hunt wild game and gather wild plant foods,” he said.

Pontzer figured members of the Hadza tribe would burn a lot of extra calories because of their extreme physical activity.  But they didn’t.

Researchers then decided to compare the levels of energy expenditure among a group of Westerners who enjoy modern conveniences. 

They looked at the number of calories burned by more than 300 Americans and Europeans who engaged in different levels of physical activity. They included very active people, those who were moderately active and couch potatoes that got little or no exercise. 

Researchers determined their energy expenditures by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide each participant produced. The more activity, the higher the levels of CO2.

Researchers found that the amount of exercise people did made little difference in the number of calories they burned.
“Your average energy expenditure levels, the calories you burn per day, is the same, whether you’re just moderately active or extremely physically active.  We don’t see any increase in calories per day there because the body seems to be adapting to those higher levels of activity and trying to keep energy levels, calories per day, the same.”

Pontzer says researchers did find that moderately active people burned about 200 more calories a day than the couch potatoes.

But he is quick to add that just because it doesn't help shed pounds, persons should not give up the daily workout.

“You’re not off the hook there. So, exercise is really important for keeping your heart healthy and your lungs and your mind and for aging well. We have all sorts of really great benefits. But this says that . . . exercise maybe isn’t going to be the best tool for managing your weight and especially trying to lose weight.”

Pontzer says his findings, published in the journal Current Biology, are just more proof that being healthy is all about the right combination of a sensible diet with exercise.

It also might mean that there's not much benefit to be gained from overdoing it, and that moderate exercise is the way to go.

University of California, Berkeley, graphic   
This is the wearable sweat sensor

Wearable sensor tracks sweat
 to evaluate user's health status

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the popularity of wearable fitness trackers continues to grow, researchers are developing a sensor that can glean health information from perspiration.

Writing in the journal Nature, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a flexible sensor which can measure metabolites and electrolytes in sweat. It also measures skin temperature and can send all the data wirelessly to a smartphone.

"Human sweat contains physiologically rich information, thus making it an attractive body fluid for non-invasive wearable sensors," said study principal investigator Ali Javey, a Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences. "However, sweat is complex and it is necessary to measure multiple targets to extract meaningful information about your state of health. In this regard, we have developed a fully integrated system that simultaneously and selectively measures multiple sweat analytes, and wirelessly transmits the processed data to a smartphone. Our work presents a technology platform for sweat-based health monitors."

The data gathered by the device can offer insights into a person’s fatigue level, level of hydration and body temperatures.

Additionally, the sensor can measure “metabolites glucose and lactate, the electrolytes sodium and potassium, and skin temperature,” according to the researchers.

"Having a wearable sweat sensor is really incredible because the metabolites and electrolytes measured by the Javey device are vitally important for the health and well-being of an individual," said George Brooks, a Berkeley professor of integrative biology and a co-author on the study. "When studying the effects of exercise on human physiology, we typically take blood samples. With this non-invasive technology, someday it may be possible to know what's going on physiologically without needle sticks or attaching little, disposable cups on you."

The researchers say they plan to shrink the device and ramp up the number of things it can measure in sweat.

The researchers say the sensor could have applications beyond monitoring a workout.

"While Professor Javey's wearable, non-invasive technology works well on sweating athletes, there are likely to be many other applications of the technology for measuring vital metabolite and electrolyte levels of healthy persons in daily life," said Brooks. "It can also be adapted to monitor other body fluids for those suffering from illness and injury."

Benefits for military parents
increased as retention tool

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. defense chief Ash Carter significantly boosted benefits Thursday for mothers and fathers in the country's armed forces, a move aimed at improving their work-life balance and to keep them from leaving the military.

Carter said the U.S. would double the paid maternity leave for new mothers in the military from six to 12 weeks, which he said would put the Pentagon "in the top tier of American institutions in offering this." In addition, he said the paid benefit for new fathers would increase from 10 to 14 days.

Secretary of Defense Carter told reporters that the military would also increase its available child care to 14 hours a day to give two-career couples more flexibility in managing work obligations and family life, add 3,600 mothers' rooms at military facilities where women could breast feed newborn infants and cover the cost of preserving sperm and eggs so that couples can conceive babies if they are otherwise unable to reproduce offspring because of injuries they have incurred in U.S. military operations.

He said service members with families would be given the option to maintain geographic postings they like, rather than being transferred every two or three years to new ones, but in exchange would be required to extend their service commitment.

He said a Pentagon study concluded the U.S. military has a 30 percent lower retention rate for women of child-bearing age than for others in the armed forces, losing many women from the all-volunteer force because they could not manage the twin demands of child-rearing and serving in the military.

"Tackling these problems is imperative," he said.

Carter said the new benefits reflect the needs of a different era, in contrast to a time when most often only fathers worked and mothers stayed home to raise children.

"I believe we'll be at the forefront of the American workplace," Carter said, creating "a more family friendly employer."

At the same time, he emphasized "there's no way to separate service from sacrifice," and that the needs of keeping the country strong militarily will still be paramount.

Sharp divide on immigration
defines U.S. political parties

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On the issue of immigration, the only thing Democrats and Republicans really agree on is that the U.S. system is broken.

President Barack Obama and the Democratic presidential candidates support comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. But Republican candidates see any granting of legal status as illegal amnesty.

The immigration issue has unexpectedly taken center stage in the 2016 presidential campaign, mainly because of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who currently leads party preference polls.

Trump and his Republican rivals have merged the issue of illegal immigration with economic anxieties and national security fears. This is clear in political ads, like one by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in which he says the mainstream media don't often see immigration as "an economic issue. But I can tell you, it is a very personal economic issue.”

In one Trump ad, a narrator says the billionaire candidate "will stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that México will pay for.”

Trump raised the issue last June, making it the centerpiece of his campaign. He said in one campaign speech that "when Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They are rapists.”

Many were outraged by Trump’s language, but he is tapping into real concerns many Americans have, said John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“There is a strong portion of the Republican Party which is worried about immigration," he said, "and Donald Trump seized his lead by making that his issue. And others may echo what he has to say, but he is the one who really stood up on that issue where others did not stand up as strongly.”

Other Republican candidates have followed Trump’s lead on immigration and on rejecting Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

But on the Democratic side of the race, the candidates are competing to denounce what they call anti-immigrant rhetoric from Republicans. 

"Not a single Republican candidate, not one, clearly and consistently supports a real path to citizenship," Hillary Clinton said in one campaign speech. "Rubio actually helped write the 2013 immigration bill. Now he renounces it. They're all moving toward the extreme and away from the rest of America." She meant Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Another Democratic candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has expressed dismay "that so many voices, including some within the Democratic Party, were insisting that large numbers of immigrant children at the border, caught in a humanitarian crisis, be sent back. The United States has an international responsibility to children and families seeking refugee status."

A recent poll found that 80 percent of Americans consider immigration to be an important factor in choosing whom to vote for on either side of this divisive issue.

Visit by Iranian president
prompts big coverup in Italy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Graphics and text messages are making the rounds mocking Italy's decision to cover up nude statues at Rome's Capitoline Museum with big white boxes for a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Ahead of Monday's press conference between Premier Matteo Renzi and Rouhani, wooden panels were erected around some Roman statues in the museum.

The decision has caused anger in Italy, where it has been condemned by critics as incomprehensible, ridiculous, and submission to principles that are against Western culture.

The museum says the Renzi's office wanted the statues along Rouhani's path to the press conference covered up. Renzi's office declined to comment.

When Renzi and Rouhani spoke, it was in a room featuring the famed, fully clothed,  bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Speaking in Rome this week, Rouhani said that Tehran had not contacted Italian officials to ask for the statues to be covered up.

"This issue is something journalists and the press like to discuss," Rouhani said.

He added that he didn't have any talks with Italian authorities on the issue.

"I know that the Italians are very hospitable, a people who seek to make their guests' visits as pleasant as possible, and I thank them for that," Rouhani added.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who accompanied Rouhani on the museum trip, called the classical cover-up incomprehensible.

He insisted that neither Renzi nor himself had been made aware of the decision in advance.

After wrapping up his visit to Italy, Rouhani arrived in France where he is expected to preside over the signing of major business contracts.

According to some media reports, France has balked at making a similar gesture.

A photoshopped picture of the Mona Lisa wrapped in the Islamic hijab that is compulsory for women in Iran was being shared on social media ahead of the trip, which follows the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic republic under a landmark deal restricting its nuclear program.

Some Iranians have likened Italy's decision to cover up nude statues to Iran's state censorship, including tough Internet censorship that targets tens of thousands of Web sites.

"Smart filtering of statues during #Rouhani's trip to #Italy," reads the tweet that includes a photo of the nude statues covered in the page that Iranians see when they try to access banned Web sites.

Meanwhile, some suggested that there were perhaps more creative ways of covering up nude statues than hiding them behind wooden panels.

In 2013, a relief carving of a naked man at the U.N.'s headquarters in Geneva was covered up by a large white screen apparently in an effort not to offend Iranian diplomats who were due to take part in talks over Iran's nuclear activities.

More than four centuries ago, the Roman Catholic Church commissioned Daniele da Volterra to paint veils and loincloths over some of Michelangelo's nudes in the Last Judgment, an 1,800-square-foot panel in the Sistine Chapel.

Da Volterra was scorned by contemporary artists for agreeing to do so.

One papal master of ceremonies at the time is said to have told the pope that the painting was "more fitting for a bathhouse or a tavern than a papal chapel."
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Blakesmore one

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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

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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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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 20
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Quake prediction concept draws criticism

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The ability to accurately predict earthquakes is a holy grail of geology. Now, a group of researchers says it has found a previously unrecognized pattern just before larger earthquakes, observed with the devastating magnitude-9.0 tremor in northeastern Japan in 2011.

This has the potential to help refine time-dependent earthquake forecasts, according to an article published in the journal Science.

“Although it will be a long way to make earthquake predictions that are useful for society, I believe this is a significant step toward that,” said lead author Naoki Uchida, an assistant professor at Tohoku University’s Research Center for the Prediction of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions.

But several prominent scientists said they had issues with the methodology and did not see this as a major breakthrough.

Uchida, two Japanese colleagues and two University of California, Berkeley, scientists have outlined data they said reveals that subtle slips began accelerating a few days before the massive quake on March 11, 2011, which unleashed a devastating tsunami.

The quake and resulting tsunami waves killed an estimated 18,000 people and triggered the meltdowns of three nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan.

The offshore quake was the largest ever known to hit the seismically active island nation.

Uchida and his colleagues analyzed the data of more than 6,000 seismic moments over a period of  28 years to detect slip-rate fluctuations in northeastern Japan.

“The results suggest the possibility of an earthquake is larger when slow slips are occurring,” Uchida said. “By taking account of such relationships, the probability forecast of earthquakes can be improved.”

Slow or aseismic slips displace rocks much more slowly than earthquakes and without generating seismic waves. But these slow slips can increase stress in adjacent areas and may trigger damaging earthquakes.

The analysis done by Uchida and his colleagues revealed that intervals of slow slips range from one to six years, often coinciding with clusters of large magnitude earthquakes, according to the paper published Friday.

There are doubts among others, however, that detecting these slow slips can lead to reliable quake forecasting.

“I think the best we could hope for from slow-slip events would be the same sort of modest probability gain,” said David Jackson, professor emeritus of earth and space sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Until scientists make testable predictions, however, “they have an interesting anecdote, not a fundamental discovery,” said Philip Stark, a professor of statistics at California-Berkeley who was not involved in the research.

Stark also criticized the lack of statistical care in the Science paper, adding “the periodic slip model clearly does not fit the data well, but it's treated as ground truth.”

A prominent critic of quake prediction theories asserted that after big quakes it is easy to retrospectively say a particular movement was a foreshock.

“Despite 100 years of work, no one has ever found a way to distinguish foreshocks from random small quakes,” said Robert Geller, a geophysics professor at Tokyo University. “So, unless you issue an alarm after every small quake, there's no way to use possible foreshocks to reliably predict big quakes.”

Hundreds or thousands of false alarms for every successful alarm is not something the public would tolerate, Geller said.

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From Page 7:

U.N. meeting in March is about outer space

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Experts in space flight will visit Costa Rica in March for a United Nation-sponsored meeting. Some 200 participants are expected.

One of those scheduled to attend is Takao Doi, a retired astronaut from Japan who is director of the space applications section of the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs.

The sessions will be in the Hotel Crowne Plaza Corobicí from March 7 to 11, according to the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones.

Those in space-related businesses in Costa Rica can sign up to attend the event with the ministry.

Franklin Chang Díaz, the Costa Rican-U.S. astronaut, was credited with having the country picked as the location for the international meeting.