A.M. Costa Rica
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(506) 2223-1327                             Published Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 30                             Email us
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These outstanding restaurants await you and your sweetheart HERE!

Lawmaker questions accuracy of tourism statistics
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A top tourism official admitted to a legislative committee Thursday that the tourism statistics include plenty of Nicaraguans.

The only Nicaraguans who are not counted as tourists are those who have pre-approved work permits, said Alberto López, the general manager of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

That means the majority of Nicaraguans who come to Costa Rica seeking work or for non-tourism reasons are categorized as tourists.

López made his comments before the  Comisión de Turismo, which is seeking an explanation from the tourism institute about its report that the country hosted 2.66 million tourists last year.

We know that not all the foreigners who enter Costa Rica in search of work have that permission,” said Karla Prendas Matarrita, a member of the commission. She wondered why the government would include the job-seekers in the tourism statistics.

She said that what López said is evidence that
the statistics released by the government were not accurate.

Perhaps as many as 500,000 Nicaraguans took advantage of lax border control policies last year to enter Costa Rica, although the full details of nationalities are not yet available.

The lawmaker also questions López why Costa Rica could report just a 5.3 percent increase in tourism for 2015 when the rest of Central America reported growth of about 7 percent.

She said that Nicaragua and Panamá are attracting tourists at a faster pace compared to 2014 figures, and she urged López to analyze what was happening.

Ms. Prendas noted that a decree provides that the popular Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is closed Mondays, and she said that she was pushing President Luis Guillermo Solís to plan how problems there could be addressed.

A.M. Costa Rica reported earlier this week that the tourism institute's own Web page said that some 15 percent of the persons who come to Costa Rica and are classified as tourists really are involved in business or other professional pursuits.

Windy work

Fire fighters battle wind-whipped flames that consumed part of a woodworking shop Thursday morning in Desamparados, Alajuela.  The Cuerpo de Bomberos said an unattended fire in an adjacent structure got out of control and damaged the workshop. Wind also could have been a factor in the start of the blaze.

More reports of problems due to the weather are HERE!

Cuerpo de Bomberos photo

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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, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 30
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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

Valdivieco header
Lic. Eduardo Valdivieso
your legal adviser for criminal, civil,
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Phone: ( 506 ) 8839-5010 
Address:  150 meters southwest from
the Goicoechea court, San José.

Real estate agents and services


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Cuerpo de Bomberos photo
Not only a tree smashed this vehicle in Heredia, but the roof came down, too, Wednesday.

Weather reported to be improving

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national weather institute said Thursday night that there has been a slight improvement in the weather in the Caribbean and in the northern zone.  Rain there has been from isolated storms and not as much as earlier in the week when up to 10 inches fell in some locations.

The cold front that had caused the bad weather was slowly diminishing, and there was a noticeable increase in temperature in the Central Valley early Friday.

The atmospheric pressure in the Caribbean was reported increasing so there will be no end in the winds this weekend, said the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional, although the velocity is expected to be less than the 100 kph or 60 mph gusts that have raked much of the country.

The weather institute said that gusts of 103 kph were clocked in Tilarán earlier Thursday. There also were dust storms in Guanacaste where the soil is unusually dry due to the drought that has lasted for two years.

Victim helps crooks loot bank account

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Creative crooks have come up with a new way to loot a bank account.

Judicial investigators said that one business lost 130 million colons (about $245,000) when a sales agent fell for a trick engineered by the crooks. The Judicial Investigating Organization explained:

A man who identified himself as a physician sought bids from a materials supply house and said he was about to make a substantial deposit into the company's account. However, the caller said he was having trouble making the deposit and suggested a conference call with a bank employee.

Of course, the supposed bank employee was a confederate of the crook and managed to have the sales agents provide details including pin numbers of the company accounts.

The sales agency tumbled to the con while still on the telephone but by the time he alerted the bank, substantial sums had been sucked from his company's account. As the bank was freezing the account, other individuals were withdrawing sums from the accounts into which the crooks had moved the money.

Agents said that the same trick was played successfully on individuals.

Two American football games Sunday

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The private National Tico Football League, one of two American football leagues in Costa Rica will kick off  the 2016 championship calendar with two games Sunday. The league has five teams for 2016.

The Heredia Saints F.A. meets the San Ramon Giants F.A. at 11 a.m. in the  Plaza Deportes San Juan in San Ramón, Alajuela. At 3 p.m. the Panthers Football meets the CRC Mustangs F.A. General admission for each game is free.

New York City dog trainer to give tips

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A well-known New York City dog trainer will be in Escazú Monday to give a presentation in English at 10 a.m. and one in Spanish at 8 p.m.. The trainer is  Kate Perry, who is the author of “Both Ends of the Leash,” which also has been translated into Spanish as “Entrenamiento para ambos lados de la correa.”

She has appeared on U.S. national television shows and also has worked with film producers and photographers when there are dogs involved in the shoot.

The presentations are a benefit for Animales de Asís, the animal rescue organization and will be in the Little Theatre Group facility in San Rafael de Escazú. The location is HERE! Registrations may be made at 2267-6011.

News for the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes R­o Colorado S.A 2065 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 30
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Arts festival loses international designation for this August
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Culture ministry says the Festival de las Artes in August this year will be at a location yet to be determined in the southern zone.

The Centro de Producción Artística y Cultural of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud outlined plans for the festival and other productions Thursday.

Some 600 million colons ($1.13 million) is allocated for the festival, which will be called this year the Festival Nacional de las Artes.

Organizers have dropped the word international because participation is being restricted to Costa Rica participants and performers.

The ministry said that officials hope to have an international festival in 2017 and 2018 because they need time to approach other countries and foreign groups.

The festival last year was by all accounts a disaster that led to the firing of the minister and others involved in the event. There were scheduling problems, lack of sound equipment and other mistakes. The ministry was trying to bring the festival to locations other than Parque La Sabana, so events were scheduled in adjacent cantons.

Festval in La Sabana in a prior lear.
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo
Festival in La Sabana in a prior year.

The Centro de Producción Artística is receiving proposals from artists starting March 8 though April 9 for festival participation. There is a special Web site. The festival dates are Aug. 5 through 14.

Ministry officials said there was a budget of 750 million colons ($1.4 million) for the festival and several other events, including the Feria Internacional del Libro Costa Rica July 15 to 31, the Semana de Celebración Étnica y Pluricultural Aug. 24 to 29, Enamorate de tu Ciudad that will be held from April through June in five communities, the Desfile de Boyeros Nov. 26 and 27 and the country's participation in the Feria Internacional del Libro Guadalajara.

An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
Don't just vote! Keep demanding fair treatment from Washington!

Overseas Americans have been faced with challenges generated by the U.S. Congress. Even though there are organizations that work on behalf of U.S. Expats and an Americans Abroad Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, most expats says they can have little impact on national politics.

Democrats Abroad noted this week that U.S. voters here have a chance to pick 13 delegates to the Democratic National convention in July. But even though the two Democratic presidential candidates have discussed expat issues, the topics are not high on the priority list.

That also is true for many expats. How many know about the same country exception or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act? How about the new law to revoke the passports of citizens who owe a lot of income tax? These are vital issues that can affect the expat lifestyle. Failure to comply could even mean jail.

Although Democrats Abroad is trying to influence the top national office, there are 435 representatives and 100 senators. All of them have to run for election. And some plan to become expats in Costa Rica themselves when they retire.

Most U.S. expats arrived in Costa Rica from someplace in the United States. They still are entitled to vote in that district. Politicians are extremely attentive to those who vote.
A quick check of Senate and House member Web pages show that the main concern are voters in the home district.

Richard Durbin, the Illinois Democrat, makes it clear on his email page: “Due to the high volume of correspondence, only Illinois residents will receive a direct reply. If you are not from Illinois, I appreciate your understanding and thank you for your comments.”

Other members of Congress are using Web contact forms that do not provide for an overseas address. Some do not even accommodate military addresses.

Every representative and a third of the U.S. Senate face election in November.

We would encourage U.S. expats here to drop an email to the senators from their state and the House member from their district. Names and Web pages are found easily via a search engine.

We would encourage Expats to say via email:

“I may be overseas, but I vote, and so does my family and friends in your district.”

Most of the expat issues are non-partisan, so declaring a party affiliation is not necessary. American will do just fine.

Hotel header

Guanacaste Lodge

Palermo Hotel

Croc's Valentine

Vista Ballena




You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
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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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 30
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Seniors reported being sucked into becoming involuntary drug couriers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some Internet scammers are not just interested in a victim's money. Instead, they seek to turn the victim into a drug courier.

In many cases the victims are older Internet users who are offered a free air flight on some pretext.

U.S. Officials say that foreign governments have detained 145 victims who were carrying drugs and that 44 of them still are behind bars.

A joint U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection investigation said that the average age of the victims is 59.

“We’ve seen seniors in Arizona and from across the nation targeted in scams before, but to have the situation escalate to point where victims are being imprisoned overseas is especially troubling,” said U.S. Sen. Jeff  Flake of Arizona. He heard testimony on the cases as a member of the Senate Aging Committee.

During a hearing, the committee heard the testimony of Green Valley, Arizona, resident Daniel Seibert, a victim of the scheme, according to Flake's office.

The senate office gave this account:

Seibert, 79, testified that scammers contacted him by email promising to fly him to Dubai in order to collect unclaimed funds left by relatives in overseas accounts. The scammers then sent Seibert fully-paid plane tickets that would have taken him to the U.K., then Dubai, and then to Japan. Federal law enforcement officials said they believe he would have been given a package containing narcotics at some point along this journey. Seibert traveled to Atlanta to board the flight, but was fortunately intercepted by federal agents before he could leave the United States.

The criminals draw in their victims by first entangling them in a lottery scam, an inheritance scam, or a romance scam. Once the senior is hooked, the criminal will then book an international flight in the senior’s name for a reason tailored to that particular scam. Once the senior arrives at his or her destination, they are booked on a flight to a third country and the scammer provides an itinerary to the victim.

Along the way, the senior is told that for some reason it is important to carry a package or an extra suitcase, which unbeknownst to them, is filled with drugs.

The age of the oldest victim is 87, said the senator's office.

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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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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Real estate rental services (paid category)

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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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Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for  your stay in this beautiful part
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                                              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.

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Real Estate
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 30
Real Estate
About us

Axiom 890 pixels

Vaccine for zika predicted
for initial trials this year

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A vaccine against the zika virus could be ready for initial human trials within months and be dispatched to affected regions for large-scale testing in 2017, a top U.S. infectious-disease official said Thursday.

“We know we can start early trials,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate panel. "By the end of 2016, a trial will have been completed that will ask: Is it safe and does it induce a response that you would predict would be protective?”

Fauci expressed guarded confidence in a zika vaccine being developed in U.S. government laboratories, noting that the work mirrors previous efforts to stop other mosquito-borne viruses, West Nile and dengue.

After initial safety trials, determining the vaccine’s effectiveness would be the next step.

“Probably within a period of six to eight months, you will be able to definitively say whether it works,” Fauci said. Then he said health agencies could ask for an accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration.”

Fauci testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that is considering President Barack Obama’s request for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the zika virus. The pathogen is spreading rapidly in tropical regions and is thought to be associated with a devastating birth defect.

In addition to speeding vaccine development, funds would go to more immediate steps to contain the virus and limit infections, particularly in pregnant women.

“A vaccine isn’t going to be here for some time,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Right now, what we need to do as well as we can is to reduce mosquito populations and reduce the risk to pregnant women.”

Of particular concern are U.S. territories in the Caribbean, like Puerto Rico, and other tropical zones.

“We’re most concerned about Puerto Rico,” Frieden said. “At some point, we may well have tens or hundreds of thousands of zika infections in Puerto Rico. There are approximately 34,000 births per year in Puerto Rico, and so we are concerned with 3,000 births per month, roughly.”

Growing public concerns about zika appear to be swaying some of Capitol Hill’s fiscally conservative lawmakers who normally seek to pare funding requests from the administration.

“We have received $1.8 billion in funding to enhance zika virus programs,” said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Thad Cochran, a Republican of Mississippi. “Is this enough?  Are we in need of an additional request?”

Frieden and Fauci said the sum requested constituted their best estimate of what is required to combat zika. Until funds are approved, Fauci said, the National Institutes of Health is shifting resources from other research projects into the new zika initiative.

Frieden warned against diverting funds appropriated to fight ebola, despite the fact that the deadly virus appears to be contained in West Africa at present.

“Ebola isn’t over,” he said. “Those dollars are fully committed.”

Scientists finally detected
passing gravitational waves

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Gravity waves, one of Albert Einstein's most interesting predictions about the weirdness of space time, have been an elusive but accepted element of the theory of general relativity.  Now it looks like a coalition of scientists from the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration has finally found them.  And it only took a century.

Researchers on Thursday likened the discovery to the difference between looking at a piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life. "Until this moment we had our eyes on the sky and we couldn't hear the music,'' said Columbia University astrophysicist Szabolcs Marka. 

Albert Einstein debuted his notions on gravitational waves almost 100 years ago.  Scientists have been looking for them ever since. 

Gravitational waves are easy to imagine but hard to comprehend.  Think of what happens when you throw a rock in a pond.  Ripples spread out from the point where your rock hits the water.  Now imagine space time as the surface of the pond, and something with mass as the rock. Gravitational waves, then, would be the ripples.  Pretty easy right? 

Sure, but what do they do?  Well, they literally expand and contract space and time as they pass through a point in space. 

Okay, fine, but what does that mean for you and me living on our tiny little blue ball?  Not much, but each time a gravitational wave passes through earth, our planet expands or contracts as the wave goes by. 

Einstein predicted that these expansions and contractions should be observable.  And that's what Thursday's announcement is all about.

Gravitational waves were discovered by a giant scientific tool called LIGO that stands for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.  Its only job was to find gravitational waves and it has been looking on and off since 2002. 

LIGO is a billion-dollar project made up of two giant L-shaped observatories, one in Washington State and one in Louisiana.  They are separated by more than 3,000 kilometers and they were built so far apart for a reason. That distance is just far enough apart so they could compare the information they received and triangulate it to actually pinpoint where the wave was coming from.

And that's why this discovery is so special. For years, scientists have been watching two black holes that were spinning around each other, getting closer and closer.  When they finally merged, the scientists predicted that the collision would release some strong gravitational waves.  And those are the waves that LIGO detected. They came exactly when scientists said they would, and the two observatories pinpointed them as coming from the crash of these two distant black holes.

Scientists had already done the math that proved gravitational waves exist way back in the 1970s.  But the waves had never been actually detected.

"It's really comparable only to Galileo taking up the telescope and looking at the planets,'' said Penn State physics theorist Abhay Ashtekar, who wasn't part of the discovery team. "Our understanding of the heavens changed dramatically.'' 

Automatic insulin pumps
developed after 20 years

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Excess sugar, or glucose, in the blood is not good. But a healthy body regulates it through insulin, produced in the organ called the pancreas.

If the body fails to do that, either because of genetics or an unhealthy lifestyle, diabetics have to adopt a grueling routine of constant monitoring of blood sugar and injecting insulin for the rest of their lives.

Both insulin monitors and delivery devices, called insulin pumps, are available, but so far, creating an automatic injector that does not require monitoring has proved to be a difficult problem.

After working on it for almost 20 years, scientists at Harvard University say they may be close to solving it.

“In essence, we use a patient model, a computational model, a mathematical model, to forecast into the future," said Harvard's Frank Doyle, a professor of engineering and applied sciences. "So we get a sense of how past insulin affects future glucose, how the past trajectory of glucose is going to play out for the next hour or two.”

Scientists say automatic insulin pumps should be on the market within five years.

Finding a cure for diabetes would be even better, and laboratory mice at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may hold the key.

In the type of diabetes caused by genetic disposition, the human immune system kills pancreas cells that produce insulin. A gelatin-like substance engineered in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology lab shields those cells from the attack.

“We can take these human islets from stem cells and actually cure these diabetic mice for months," said Daniel Anderson, a professor of applied biology. "We have also shown that in primates we can put these little balls of new material in the abdominal space of primates and see that they don't form scar tissue, which is an important step towards thinking of using them in people.”

Scientists are optimistic that one way or another, or maybe with a combination of approaches, they will bring relief to diabetes sufferers within a few years.

Fruit flies provided the clue
for virus-blocking bacteria

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Zika in Latin America. Yellow fever in Africa. Dengue across the tropics. Three diseases on the rise. All three carried by one mosquito: Aedes aegypti.

Then why are schoolchildren raising and releasing these mosquitoes in Townsville, Australia, in a state that regularly suffers dengue outbreaks?

"To be honest, it sounded a little counter-productive," said Townsville science teacher Michael Browne.

But Browne and his students are part of a new strategy to fight dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases. The insect eggs they take home are infected with harmless bacteria called Wolbachia. The bacteria live inside the mosquitoes' cells and, in ways that are not entirely clear, block the insects from transmitting viruses including dengue, chikungunya and zika.

Over the last five years, Scott O'Neill at Monash University and his colleagues have been introducing Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in neighborhoods in Townsville and Cairns. And it seems to be working.

"In all of those areas, we haven't seen any dengue transmission occurring, but occurring in neighboring areas," he said.

It's promising, but it's not proof. A study underway in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, aims to show whether Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes actually can stop dengue.

The idea that these bacteria could fight mosquito-borne diseases started in the 1980s, with fruit fly researchers comparing apples to oranges.

Fruit flies from northern California prefer apples. Southern California flies prefer oranges. But it's not just a matter of taste. Michael Turelli and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, found that when they raised flies on their respective preferred fruit, they lay more eggs and more of those eggs survive to adulthood.

Turelli's group wanted to know if the difference was genetic. But something strange happened when they tried to breed them. When they bred northern females with southern males, they didn't get any offspring.

"These things were behaving as if they were different species," Turelli said.

The key was Wolbachia. Southern California flies had it. Northern flies didn't. And for reasons scientists still don't understand, Wolbachia kills the offspring of insects that are not carrying the bacteria.

Scientists saw an opportunity. The original idea was to release enough infected males to mate with all the uninfected females in an area, essentially sterilizing them.

That's basically the plan for University of Kentucky researchers. After successful small-scale tests in Kentucky, New York and California, they're seeking to register their Wolbachia-infected Asian tiger mosquitoes as a biopesticide.

"It's non-chemical. It's not toxic," said University of Kentucky entomologist Stephen Dobson. "It's a naturally occurring bacterium. There's no genetic modification involved."

But what makes Wolbachia such a promising tool against zika, dengue and other viruses is something else entirely.

Again, credit for the discovery goes to fruit fly researchers. Scientists at Cambridge University were looking for genes that protected flies from viruses. They found Wolbachia instead.

It was "just incredible luck that this thing we're studying for one purpose turned out to have this other behavior," Turelli said.

It took a lot of painstaking work with microscopic needles to get Wolbachia from fruit flies into Aedes aegypti, the mosquitoes that transmit zika and dengue. O'Neill wrote in Scientific American that it's like poking a balloon with a knitting needle, then removing the needle without popping the balloon.

"It's an extraordinary pain," Turelli said. "It's still massively, massively difficult."

But it only has to work once. The bacteria are passed on in the mosquito's eggs. And since the bacteria essentially sterilize uninfected insects, infection quickly spreads through the population. And it stays there. Most of the mosquitoes in Townsville and Cairns are infected five years after O'Neill first introduced the bacteria.

That kind of long-term efficacy could be a huge bonus, he said.

"It's very hard to get the money to do very expensive mosquito control programs every year, particularly when they're not always that effective," he noted. "Brazil spends more than $1 billion per year and still has some of the highest dengue levels in the world."

O'Neill and his team have experiments underway in Brazil and Colombia. Everywhere they work, they put a lot of effort into getting the community on board. Hence the mosquito-rearing school kids in Townsville.

They're called Wolbachia Warriors. The program offers teachers ways to work the mosquitoes into the science curriculum.

As a child, O'Neill said, he used to see ads in the back of American comic books for sea monkeys, brine shrimp sold as pets. But living in Australia, he couldn't order them.

"I was sort-of upset with that then," he said.

Perhaps the Wolbachia Warriors program is a bit of redemption, with a purpose.

"What kid doesn't like having a pet?" asked Browne, the science teacher. "Especially a wriggly one that can hopefully grow up to help eliminate dengue fever."

Twitter planning changes
to retain its market share

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The social media platform Twitter says it is considering changes to make its service more user-friendly, after the latest report on its performance showed no growth and a $90 million loss for the company that has never turned a profit.

Despite being widely recognizable among social media users, Twitter has faced competition from both the older social networking platform Facebook and newer platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Twitter suffers from complaints that its service is more difficult than others to use, forcing users to compose messages of no more than 140 characters and to use specialized symbols to perform different functions such as personal messaging and re-tweeting.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey spoke to media Wednesday, following the latest report, which showed Twitter's yearly user base, excluding people who receive tweets as text messages,  dropping from 307 million in 2014 to 305 million in 2015.  However, Twitter's loss of $90.2 million in 2015 was an improvement from a $125 million loss the previous year.

Dorsey told reporters that Twitter is revamping its service to include the option of having the best tweets in a user's feed to rise to the top, as an alternative to the chronological feeds users are accustomed to.

The announcement has caused some dissent among Twitter users, who have created the hashtag "#RIPTwitter," or "rest in peace, Twitter,"  something normally said about a person who has died.

Dorsey says Twitter's priorities for the year include making it more user-friendly and enhancing its live-streaming video feature. He has even hinted that Twitter's 140-character limit, long a defining feature of the service, may be changed.

Dementia rates are declining,
but more cases are predicted

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Despite an aging population, a new study says dementia rates in the United States are dropping, but further research is needed to pinpoint the reason.

Writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from Boston University say the findings may offer hope that some cases of dementia may be preventable or delayed.

Using data from the Framingham Heart Study researchers found that over the past 40 years, there has been a decrease in the rates of dementia, with declines of 20 percent per decade since the 1970s, when data was first collected. The study is a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University.

Framingham Heart Study participants’ health has been monitored since 1975, using information gleaned from  exams, outside clinical records, interviews with family members, and the examination of participants suspected of having a neurological problem by neurologists and neuropsychologists.

For dementia caused by strokes and other vascular issues, the decrease was more pronounced, according to researchers. They also found that there was a decrease in dementia caused by heart disease.

This, they said, points to the importance of effective stroke treatment and prevention of heart disease.

Another factor appeared to be education levels, with declines in dementia only seen in those with a high school education or more.

Currently, there are no effective treatments to prevent or cure dementia. However, the study offers hope that some of the dementia cases might be preventable or at least delayed through primary (keep the disease process from starting) or secondary (keep it from progressing to clinically obvious dementia) prevention, said Sudha Seshadri, a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine. "Effective prevention could diminish in some measure the projected explosion in the number of persons affected with the disease in the next few decades," she said.

Researchers say further study is needed, including with a more diverse group of subjects, as the study participants are overwhelmingly of European ancestry. The researchers cited the need to look at diet and physical activity.

“It is very likely that primary and secondary prevention and better management of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and their risk factors, might offer new opportunities to slow down the currently projected burden of dementia for the coming years," said Carole Dufouil, a research director with the French Institute of Health and Medical Research.

Despite the apparent slowdown in rates, the raw number of dementia cases is still expected to rise due to an overall aging population and people living longer. For example, the researchers said that as the population ages, by 2025, there could be 7.1 million people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. That would be a 40 percent increase from the 5.1 million today. By 2050, there could be 13.8 million people with dementia.

Globally, the number of people with dementia is around 47.5 million, according to the World Health Organization. That is expected to rise to 75.6 million in 2030 and 135.5 million by 2050.

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Sierra Collection. Meridian House or Chateau Montage.
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Jacó beach unique home. First time offered
This house has never been listed.  It is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home approx. 100 feet above sea level on the only hill in Jacó one mile to the beach.  Totally remodeled to a Gringo house.Has great fenced yard for dogs and a huge screened porch with  great views all around, including a small ocean view.  New in the last two years includes: new kitchen with granite counter, cedar cabinets, all new windows, tile, water system, updated electric & plumbing, superb new AC units (low electric bill), This is half of a duplex with a platted yard.  Other side is the chief of police.  Secure & private.  $169.900. Call Glenn at 506-6214-0056 or

Lee Lot
Panoramic Home Site.
Panoramic, rural mountain lot in Rosario, outside of Grecia in Central Valley. 25 minutes from San José and international airport. One hour from coast. Includes paved roads, electrical and water. In a development of 28 hectares, most planted in coffee. Lot is 7,300 square meters. Located adjacent to High Dreams Club, Hotel & Spa (Adults/couples Excellent climate. Lot size large enough for home, garage & guesthouse/casita. Home site cleared & includes 10 maturing palm trees, with coffee trees at the base of the lot. Views to San José and include canyons. $24,900 USD. Contact: 506 8311-5336 or U.S. 719-821-2210.

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

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.

San Ramon
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:

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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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 30
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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
Robbers flee after Pursical stickup

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Bandits pretending to be postal employees stuck up a branch of the Banco de Costa Rica in Puriscal about 4 p.m. Thursday.

The Fuerza Pública said that there were four crooks.

The bandits tied up four bank employees and put them in the branch's vault while they took an undetermined amount of money.

Police at first thought they were involved in a hostage situation. However, shorty after 7 p.m. the Fuerza Pública said they found the bank employee's car in which the crooks had fled.

Juan Jose Andrade, director general of the police agency, said that officers still were in the area seeking the bandits. The car was found at Quitirrisi  a community on the main road east of Puriscal.

One of the employees was able to alert the central bank security office by flashing a sign that said a robbery was taking place. A surveillance camera in the bank picked up the message.

Pope heads to Cuba for historic meeting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, has embarked on a trip that will take him to México, with a stop in Cuba for a historic meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.

Kirill is in Cuba for a state visit. The Holy See announced last week that Pope Francis will make a stop at Havana's José Martí International airport to have a personal conversation with the patriarch and sign a joint declaration. Details of the declaration have not been made public.

The Friday meeting is the first of its kind, an effort to heal the 1,000-year-old schism that has divided Christianity between East and West.

The split between the two churches since 1054 has festered over issues such as the primacy of the pope and accusations by the Russian Orthodox Church that the Catholic Church is trying to poach converts in Russia.

However, the persecution of Christians, Catholic and Orthodox, in the Middle East and Africa has helped bring the two churches closer.

A meeting between Francis and Kirill has been in the works for some time after the pope told the patriarch in November 2014, "I’ll go wherever you want. You call me and I’ll go.”

CIA chief: Islamic State using chemicals 

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency said Islamic State fighters in Syria have used chemical weapons.

John Brennan said there are a number of instances where the terrorist group has used chemical munitions on the battlefield.  His comments were featured in excerpts from the television news show “60 Minutes.”  The full interview with Brennan will air Sunday on CBS.

Brennan told the news show the jihadist group has the capacity to make small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas.

The CIA director also warned that the Islamic State may be looking to sell the chemicals to the West.  Brennan said there's always the potential for that.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons oversaw the removal and elimination of the chemical weapons of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government after a 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus that much of the international community blamed on the Assad's government.

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U.S. and global stocks decline amid concerns

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Global stocks fell sharply Thursday as investors sold off shares and looked for safety in gold and bond markets.

In New York, the Dow fell 1.6 percent at the close, the S&P 500 dropped more than 1.2 percent while the NASDAQ slid 0.1 percent.

Analysts said the losses were fueled by further drops in oil prices, a slide in bank shares and a slowing global economy. Adding to investor worries was the cautious tone taken this week by U.S. central bank chief Janet Yellen, who told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that a weakened global economy and the continued volatility in financial markets could hurt U.S. economic growth.

Ms. Yellen said it was unlikely the Fed would cut its benchmark interest rates from the current level, but hinted at a slower pace of rate hikes this year.

Earlier, Britain's FTSE declined 2.4 percent, Germany's DAX fell 2.9 percent, and France's CAC lost 4 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged nearly 4 percent while South Korea's Kospi fell 2.9 percent, it's biggest single-day drop in nearly four years.

Analysts expect the volatility will continue. Market strategist Oliver Roth at Oddo Seydler Bank said the financial sector is one major worry.   

"The banks are under pressure, especially the banking sector, so what we see is a huge pressure on the market,” Roth said. “Investors are very nervous, especially about the banking sector, but also of course about the oil price, the low oil price and so on. So we have altogether a very negative scenario right now, and the market is very nervous."