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Published Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 47
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Refugee deal still put on hold after eight months
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A deal that would allow up to 200 Central Americans to flee from the violence in their countries, be hosted in Costa Rica and then resettled in the United States, Canada or Australia is still on hold almost eight months after the agreement was announced.

The United States led the plan that was made public July 2016 with the purpose of relocating citizens from the Northern Triangle. The Triangle is a term used to define the area of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The goal for the Costa Rican office of the U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees as well as the central government is to improve the security situations of these countries.

However, no special program is going on right now, according to Daniela Muñoz, the organization's press contact.

“We are working the usual way we do and I'm not very acquainted with such an agreement. Our duty still focuses in supporting refugees as we always do,” she said.

On the other side, Casa Presidencial says that the plan is still valid and it includes granting these people a special humanitarian visa and housing.  Further expenses such as feeding, English learning and medical costs will be covered by the U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

The refugee program in Costa Rica is under the overall administration of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

The headquarters is in San José.

According to the most recent report on the subject, there was a 60 percent increase in new asylum applications registered in Costa Rica for 2015 in comparison to the past year. 

Of those registered applicants, there was a 127 percent increase of nationals from the Northern Triangle.

The Northern Triangle is well known for its violence and the existence of dangerous
Tufts University photo
Map displaying the Northern Triangle.

gangs known as maras. These countries frequently rank among some of the most violent countries in the world.

For example, a 2016 report from the Council on Foreign Relations stated that gang-related violence in El Salvador brought its murder rate to 90 per 100,000 back in 2015. That gave it the notorious position of the world’s most violent country not at war, the report said.

Generally, all three countries have significantly higher murder rates than their southern neighbors of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panamá, the report said.

It could be said that this stems from the regional political upheaval in the wake of armed rebellion, civil war and its geographic position as a staging point for the transnational shipment of drugs.

Back in November, Australian Prime Minister Michael Turnball said his country would be willing to receive refugees from the Central American region. Australia’s program of permanent refugee resettlement is the third largest in the world, the prime minister claimed.

It plans to increase upwards of 19,000 places by mid-2018, he also noted.

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president has generated uncertainty about the program. Trump waged a campaign, in part, on promising to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants out of the States.

He so far intends to live up to his promises, and Monday he issued a travel ban for mostly Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Environmental group is wary of wetlands policy
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government outlined Monday what it calls a national policy of wetlands. The announcement covers permanent and temporary wetlands, as well as natural and artificial ones.

The announcement was greeted with skepticism by a major environmental organization, which said the policy was too late. The project is backed by the U.N. Program for Development. Casa Presidencial said that wetlands make up around 7 percent of the national territory and includes mangroves and even some aquatic areas such as coral reefs.

The government first plans to count the wetlands, be they natural or artificial, and then take action against climate change as well to rehabilitate degraded wetlands by 2030.

The Federación Conservacionista quickly released a statement in which it said that the Luis Guillermo Solís administration has not been protective of wetlands. The organization noted that it has filed a Sala IV action of unconstitutionality against an earlier presidential decree.

The decree would permit the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación to repair, construct and amplify infrastructure in wetlands. Organization members Álvaro Sagot and Allan Astorga joined in the action
The decree permits a number of various projects, including roadways in areas that otherwise would be off limits, the organization said.

The organization said that the Solís administration has been flexible with environmental legislation.

The wetlands policy comes late and at the end of the presidential term as if asking pardon for the sins in an election year and with certainty that the following administration will emit a different policy, again with public funds, the organization said.

Wetlands and mangroves already have some protection by the nation’s maritime zone law that restricts or forbids private development within 200 meters of mean high tide.

Still, many coastal residents complain that the local enforcement is lax and that the maritime zone is being violated repeatedly.

In addition, the government has destroyed mangroves and wetlands for public purposes, for example, the access road to the $1 billion container handling facility in Moín.

The environmental organization also noted that the proposed enlargement of Ruta 32 would encroach on wetlands. The group opposed the container facility access road, too.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 47
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

Dental Services
Dental Services Costa Rica

Dr Oscar Vargas specialist in prosthodontics
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A full service immigration agency
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Business consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica.
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Fine art restoration and conservation

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Notary services and registrations. Collections and foreclosures. Real estate and litigation. Corporate Law. Immigration. Estate planning wills and testaments, probate.
I provide the highest professional standards. Official documentation and Notary deeds are always translated in English for better comprehension, client satisfaction and safety.

Law Office is conveniently located near
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Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo         
Fuerza Pública officers provide burial for murdered alligator.    

Alligator receives last rites from police

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Amidst a feeling of pity and anger, several police officers from San Carlos decided to bury a dead alligator who lost its life in the hands of hunters looking to sell its meat and skin.

The alligator was shot on the right side of the head, and concerned neighbors called the police. The perpetrators of the killing tried to run away from authorities but suspects were apprehended, said Gerardo Araya, head of the police delegation at San Carlos. The actions occurred Monday morning.

“This is very common unfortunately. The suspects came all the way from Alajuela to commit the crime. They were taken into custody and will be charged according to the environmental law. Nevertheless, the sentence will be a minor one,” Araya said.

Araya and his colleagues proceeded to dig a hole and provide the victim with a decent grave and goodbye ritual, something that is part of the usual protocol to avoid contamination, he said.

“Yes it is part of the protocol but you always feel sad when an animal is killed,” he added. No prayers took place during the burial, Araya said.

Teenager caught with revolvers and drugs

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police authorities caught a 15-year old teenager who happened to possess two revolvers as well as over 155 doses of crack-cocaine and eight packs of marijuana. The arrest took place in Las Lomas de Granadilla, in the province of San José.

Both guns are suspected of being stolen with one belonging to a private enterprise in Puntarenas, while the other has a seizure warrant, according to a police report.

The teenager was taken into custody to the juvenile court. He lives in San Rafael de Montes de Oca. Police officials don't know how the teenager obtained the guns.

Our reader's opinion
Unskilled labor unnecessary traffic woe

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The traffic that commuters have to endure in Costa Rica is criminal.  I am sure there is a lack of management of the transit police but why not give businesses a tax incentive to hire local people?  Today we have people traveling unnecessarily for unskilled jobs costing everyone time, money and quality of life.  The government can't design software to match unskilled labors with employers closer to their homes?
Albert Lusk  
San Isidro  

Our reader's opinion
Response to Mr. Dan Gibson’s letter

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

If anti-establishment means that it is acceptable to:

1) Lie about revealing your tax returns.
2) Lie about you and your family’s contact with Russia.
3) Lie about you dealings with Wall Street.
4) Lie about record crowds attending the inauguration process.
5) Don’t know the difference between truth and lies.
6) Having the President’s first lady being his daughter because the Mrs. will not.
7) Loving money and self above all things.
8) Hiring staff who lie and/or are known bigots, and so much more that used to be un-American.
9) Having the moral scruples of convicted felons.

And so on and so on, then call me Establishment. I fail to understand how these traits and those who believe it is acceptable will “Make America Great Again.”

Robert Piazza  
Santa Barbara de Heredia  

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 47
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Gastronomy group wants Costa Rica as top destination for foodies
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Beyond the trees, birds, monkeys and green marketing, a group of Costa Ricans are also trying to turn their country into a top foodie and gastronomy aficionado destination.

According to Alfredo Echeverría, president of the Club de la Gastronomía association, there is a growing  number of people trying to re-invigorate and innovate the traditional ingredients and meals that have vanished over time from the tables in many Tico homes.

Echeverría and his collaborators have been working closely with the Ministerio de la Presidencia to push what they call the “Plan saludable y sostenible para la gastronomía” for Costa Rica.  This plan seeks not just to boost tourism but national production as well.

“We are trying to revitalize our food heritage because most of what people know as Costa Rican cuisine are the dishes we eat in the Central Valley. We ought to look further and understand that Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón and each other province has its own taste.” he said.

According to the expert, right now they are looking for allies from the civil society to join the project, especially when it comes to emphasizing the sustainable and healthy aspect.

“Our goal is to create a network of national producers who grow native ingredients in the healthiest way possible. A network of restaurants who offer this menu is also desirable.” added Echeverría.

The association explained this new approach during their visit to the 2016 New York Times Travel fair and again in Miami, Florida.
Courtesy Photo by Alfredo Echeverría
Randy Siles shows his rice cream delicacy, a take on the traditional Arroz con Leche dessert.

Their trip was sponsored by the instituto Costarricense de Turismo and among the participants was the chef Randy Siles, who has been trying to mix international cooking techniques with local ingredients.

Picadillo de ayote, Torta de maíz pujagüa, Mousse de Aguacate, those are some creations which he claims can compete against culinary giants of the world, such as México and Perú.

“We live in a country which can be crossed in about six hours. That means that the freshness of our products is outstanding and the customers do know that. It is just a matter of time for the country to establish itself as a beautiful and delicious destination.” Siles said.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 47
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AI robot beats professional players at no-limit Texas hold 'em
By the University of Alberta news staff

For the first time ever, an artificial intelligence program has beaten human poker professionals at heads-up, no-limit Texas hold ‘em.

It’s a historic result in artificial intelligence that has implications far beyond the poker table, from helping make more robust medical treatment recommendations to developing better strategic defense planning.

DeepStack, created by the University of Alberta's Computer Poker Research Group, bridges the gap between approaches used for games of perfect information, like those used in checkers, chess, and Go where both players can see everything on the board, with those used for imperfect information games by reasoning while it plays, using intuition honed through deep learning to reassess its strategy with each decision.

Artificial intelligence researchers have long used parlor games to test their theories because the games are mathematical models that describe how decision-makers interact.

This latest discovery builds on previous research findings about artificial intelligence and imperfect information games stretching back to the creation of the Computer Poker Research Group in 1996.

Michael Bowling, who became the group’s principal investigator in 2006, and his colleagues developed Polaris in 2008, beating top poker players at heads-up limit Texas hold’em poker. They went on to solve heads-up limit hold’em with Cepheus in 2015.

DeepStack extends the ability to think about each situation during play to imperfect information games
University of Alberta/John Ulan
Michael Bowling (center) flanked by the co-authors of DeepStack.

using a technique called continual re-solving. This allows DeepStack to determine the correct strategy for a particular poker situation by using its intuition to evaluate how the game might play out in the near future without thinking about the entire game.

Thinking about each situation as it arises is important for complex problems like heads-up no-limit hold’em, which has vastly more unique situations than there are atoms in the universe, largely due to players’ ability to wager different amounts.

Despite the game’s complexity, DeepStack takes action at human speed with an average of only three seconds of thinking time and runs on a simple gaming laptop.

To test the approach, DeepStack played last December against a pool of professional poker players recruited by the International Federation of Poker. Thirty-three players from 17 countries were asked to play a 3,000-hand match over a period of four weeks. DeepStack beat each of the 11 players who finished their match.

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Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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

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

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

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

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
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Real estate-related services (paid category)
Beautiful Home for Rent
San Isidro Del General, Perez Zeledon. The beautiful southern zone. By week or month.  Only 10 minutes to town. Fabulous, artistic, one Bedroom, elegantly furnished home, overlooking river,  and near to attractions at the beach or mountain. Comes completely furnished with custom queen bed, orthopaedic mattress, all linens, large kitchen, all pans, dishes, silverware, blender new refrigerator, stove with oven, washing machine, glove leather couches, breakfast nook, patio with hammock.  Has also large bodega, with extra full sized bed, can sleep 4. Comes with satellite TV & WIFI. Located next to small river, with access to river pools, and over 60 varieties of rare, tropical birds. Only 45 minutes to beach, Playa Dominical and 40 minutes to National Park Chirripo. Perfect weather. Not hot like the beach. No car needed, bus take 15 minutes to town, costs 30 cents. Gated private and secure, near bus, mini markets. This is a complete home, artistic, beautiful surroundings, with convenience and privacy, yet near to it all. Nice folks.  For more photos and information:  Costa Rica phone: (506) 2771-4339

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Real estate rentals (paid category)

Poas chalet
What a chalet!
We offer for rent a boutique quality 2-bedroom (BR)/1-bath mountain chalet, and a 2-BR/2-bath mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude within the limits of a small horse ranch.  Located just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance, our homes sit on the strategic high ground of Costa Rica’s Central Valley, and are contiguous with the park’s 47,000 hectares of primary cloud rainforest. The chalet and mountain home include a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace, and covered parking.  All utilities and wifi internet included. Please contact Allan or Cristina at for photos, pricing and contract details.

Rental scene
₡355.000 (colones) / 2-bedroom penthouse fully furnished
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Tropical Homes
Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for  your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 47
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Axiom new ad
Trump signs new travel ban;
critics still remain opposed

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new executive order Monday, barring travelers from six countries to the United States for three months, and all refugees for four months, after federal appeals judges blocked a similar order last month.

The rollout of the new security measures amounts to an acknowledgement by the Trump administration that its original travel ban, issued Jan. 27, was flawed.

But critics immediately assailed the new order as merely making cosmetic changes to the original ban and argued that it still creates a religious test for entering the United States and will therefore not stand up to judicial scrutiny.

In an attempt to ensure a smoother rollout of the travel ban and protect it from legal scrutiny, the new executive order differs from the old version in several key aspects.

Among the most notable changes is the exclusion of Iraqis from the list of suspended travelers. The new order bans nationals and citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

The new ban includes a grace period and will take effect on March 16. It will not affect legal permanent residents, those with green cards, or travelers who already had valid visas as of Jan. 27, 2017.

Monday’s order also removes a provision indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from the U.S. Also removed is language giving preference to religious minorities, a provision that had been widely seen as an attempt to follow through on Trump's promise to prioritize Christian refugees.

Baghdad, a key ally in the U.S. fight against Islamic State militants, had complained when Iraq was included in the original travel ban.

Critics of the original order questioned whether the seven countries affected, all majority-Muslim, were targeted for religious reasons.

White House officials also stressed the temporary nature of the order, but suggested that the travel ban may be expanded after the 90 days expire and that other countries could be added to the list.

Even with the changes, the bill is still likely to face legal challenges by groups that view the order as a partial fulfillment of Trump's campaign call for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, which filed successful legal challenges against the original order, also said the revised ban has the same fatal flaws as the original.

Administration officials, meanwhile, were walking a fine line between insisting the new order was different enough from the old measure to withstand legal challenges but similar enough so that it would still be effective.

The Trump administration leans heavily on the rationale that refugees, as well as immigrants and travelers from certain countries, are a security risk to the United States; however, it has proffered little evidence of that risk.

White House officials on Monday released a memorandum saying that the FBI is carrying out terrorism-related investigations into approximately 300 individuals across the U.S. who were admitted as refugees. It is not clear whether those being investigated came from the list of banned countries, or how many have been charged with a crime.

Filippo Grandi, who heads the U.N.'s refugee agency, said the U.S. has long been a partner in finding solutions for refugees, but expressed concern about how the order will affect those fleeing violence and persecution.

Administration officials are promising a smoother rollout this time, insisting the White House has cooperated with Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Justice Department on drafting and implementing the new executive order.

The original order was announced early on the evening of Jan. 27, a Friday right when most federal employees were finishing their first full week of work under the new administration, creating confusion at international airports across the country.

Travelers from the seven countries, including legal permanent residents of the United States, were detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. Law enforcement didn’t know what to do with the refugees mid-flight when the order came down that banned them, as well.

Still others were turned away at airports abroad, denied by airline officials who questioned the validity of their already-issued visas.

More than a dozen lawsuits were filed across the country challenging the January order. Federal appeals court judges ruled in February to suspend the order in support of the "free flow of travel," as well as "in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination."

Trump’s travel restrictions have not received broad public support. A poll released in late February by Pew Research Center showed that 59 percent of those surveyed opposed the ban, while 38 percent approved.

U.S. deploys missile defense
to counter North Korea

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. has deployed the first elements of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system to South Korea to counter North Korea's aggressive behavior, U.S. Pacific command officials said late Monday.

"Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said.

Harris said the THAAD elements were deployed Monday to honor alliance commitments to South Korea and to help defend U.S. troops in the region, US allies and the American homeland.

The THAAD system is designed to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles during flight.

North Korea fired four medium-range ballistic missiles Monday, three of which flew about 1,000 kilometers and landed in Japanese waters.

The U.S. Defense Department had called the launches a very serious threat.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said while the missiles did not pose a threat to North America, the U.S. was taking steps to increase its ability to defend against the missile launches.

Capt. Davis said the launches coincided with the start of annual defense exercises between the United States and South Korea and are consistent with North Korea's long history of provocative behavior often timed to military exercises that we do with our ally.

He said the United States is taking steps to increase its ability to defend against the missile launches, including plans for the deployment of the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense in South Korea. He said that will happen as soon as feasible.

Davis left open the possibility that more than four missiles were fired by North Korea.

U.S. President Donald Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a telephone discussion that the United States was with Japan 100 percent, Abe told reporters on Tuesday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada also spoke on the phone Monday, the Pentagon said, adding both leaders agreed the launches were unacceptable and irresponsible.

At the United Nations, diplomats said the U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss North Korea's actions.

North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam urged the U.N. Security Council in a letter to discuss the U.S.-South Korean military exercises, calling them the most undisguised nuclear war maneuvers. He said the United States is using nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, stealth fighters and submarines, and said of the military drills, it may go over to an actual war.

Countries around the world are condemning the missile launches.

China said it opposed the launches and called for restraint from all sides, but also noted that the United States and South Korea are carrying out military drills which it said were against North Korea.

A French foreign ministry statement condemned the missile firings, while British foreign minister Boris Johnson said they were a threat to international peace and security.

Abe said that Monday's missiles, which landed only 300 to 350 kilometers, or around 200 miles, from Japan's Oga Peninsula in the Akita prefecture, demonstrated an increased danger to the country.

South Korea's Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn also denounced the missile tests after meeting with his National Security Council.

The United Nations condemned the North's missile firings, saying it should refrain from such actions. "We deplore the continued violation of Security Council resolutions by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including the most recent launches of ballistic missiles," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The missiles on Monday were launched from the Tongchang-ri region near the North's border with China, said the South Korean military. From this same region at its Tongchang-ri satellite facility, Pyongyang in February of 2016 launched a satellite into space using banned intercontinental ballistic missile technology.

Former Gitmo detainee
killed in recent airstrike

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A former Guantanamo Bay detainee was among several al-Qaida operatives killed in recent U.S. airstrikes on terror targets in Yemen, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday.

Yasir al-Silmi, who was held at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from 2002 until 2009, was killed in an airstrike on March 2, according to Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.

The U.S. military has carried out more than 40 airstrikes in Yemen during the past five days targeting members of the al-Qaida branch in the country, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

The latest strike in Yemen's Abyan governorate on Sunday targeted seven al-Qaida operatives, Capt. Davis said.

He said the latest round of airstrikes were meant to deny those operatives freedom of movement.

The Pentagon spokesman announced that two other top al-Qaida militants were killed in strikes on March 2 and 3, including explosives expert and district leader Usayd al-Adani, and al-Adani's communications intermediary, Harithah al-Waqari.

Al-Silmi, a native Yemeni, was repatriated by former President Barack Obama in December 2009.

The Pentagon has estimated that at least 30 percent of transferred Guantanamo Bay detainees have returned to the battlefield.

There are 41 detainees left at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Microbiotic in soil to fight
tuberculosis, scientists say

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists are developing an antibiotic from a microorganism found in soil to fight the tuberculosis bacterium. As the disease becomes increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics, soil could hold the key to new drugs against this global killer.

Tuberculosis is treatable with antibiotics, but in thousands of cases, antibiotic misuse has caused the disease to become non-responsive to the drugs.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis every year, killing 1.8 million people.

In 2015, it was estimated that 480,000 infections were not responsive to two major drugs commonly used to treat tuberculosis. A quarter-million patients died reportedly of drug-resistant infections.

An international team of researchers has been hunting for new sources of antibiotics in nature to treat deadly illnesses like tuberculosis.

Investigators have hit upon a species of bacteria in a large family called Streptomyces found in soil.

In the laboratory, they’ve extracted compounds from Streptomyces that target a specific enzyme called MraY in mycobacterium, the pathogen that causes tuberculosis. The compounds effectively kill mycobacterium.

Using synthetic chemistry, the researchers were able to recreate these compounds, turning them into more potent versions of the originals.

Structural biology professor David Roper of England's University of Warwick is part of the team that includes scientists in the United States and Australia sleuthing for novel agents to treat disease.

In the case of the Streptomyces microorganism, Roper said researchers have extracted compounds that target how mycobacterium makes its cell walls. He likens them to bones in the human body.

“If you knock out our skeletons, you’re not going to be a very competent human being, are you? And the same is true for the biosynthesis of the bacterial cell wall. It’s exactly the same principle that penicillin inhibits, although that’s a different enzyme and other antibiotics like vancomycin for example. So, the biosynthesis of the bacterial cell wall is a good target for antibiotics,” said Roper.

The work was published in the journal Nature Communications.

In the soil, Roper said the bacteria use the compounds to kill other microorganisms near them, giving them a survival advantage.

“One of the reasons for looking at natural product compounds in general is that these things have been derived from nature, therefore they’ve gone through many millennia years of evolution in the first place, and they’ve been retained by nature so they must have, as it were, long-standing efficacy.”

The challenge has been growing soil bacteria like Streptomyces in the lab with available tools so they can be made into drugs. The team is looking for ways to do that and they are beginning to find the right tools.

There is no timetable for turning soil bacteria into drugs against diseases like tuberculosis, just that it will take time.

As new drugs from soil bacteria become available, Roper doesn’t rule out the possibility that  tuberculosis eventually may become resistant to them too.

Researchers, however, have learned from experience with tuberculosis that antibiotics must be used with great care to preserve their effectiveness.

Social media is creating
social isolation, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Young adults who spend a lot of time looking for social connections on social media could instead find themselves feeling socially isolated, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at the social media habits of 1,787 American adults aged 19 to 32, asking them how much they used 11 popular social media sites, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn, among others.

After controlling for various demographic factors, they found that people who used social media more than two hours per day had twice the odds for perceived social isolation than their peers who spent less than half an hour on social media each day.

Those who visited social media sites 58 times a week or more had about triple the odds of perceived social isolation than those who visited fewer than nine times per week.

Writing in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine add that increased social isolation has been associated with an increased risk for mortality.

"This is an important issue to study because mental health problems and social isolation are at epidemic levels among young adults," said lead author Brian A. Primack, director of Pitt's Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health. "We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together. While it may seem that social media presents opportunities to fill that social void, I think this study suggests that it may not be the solution people were hoping for."

"We do not yet know which came first, the social media use or the perceived social isolation," said senior author Elizabeth Miller, professor of pediatrics at Pitt and chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

"It's possible that young adults who initially felt socially isolated turned to social media. Or it could be that their increased use of social media somehow led to feeling isolated from the real world. It also could be a combination of both. But even if the social isolation came first, it did not seem to be alleviated by spending time online, even in purportedly social situations."

Researchers social media may cause feelings of social isolation by replacing authentic social experiences; causing feelings of exclusion stemming from seeing photos of friends having fun at events to which they were not invited; or may lead people to think others have happier or more successful lives due to often idealized presentation of one’s life online.

Researchers say more study needs to be done, but they say doctors should ask patients about social media use if they show symptoms of social isolation.

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

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The Terraces at San Martin.  Discover the essence of Costa Rica on our Luxury Ocean View Villas . Near Dominicalito Beach and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena.
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Ellan At Ballena Beach.  Welcome to a world of endless adventure on our beachside condominiums at Ballena Beach, Pacific Coast.  For more information click  HERE!
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REDUCED by $30k! Three-bedroom furnished house in gated beach community, walk to the beach, $235k.
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Contact us with any questions you have about buying property in Costa Rica, Residency, etc. 12 years’ experience in Costa Rica real estate.
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Puriscal home
REDUCED $40K - $355,000
This is a gorgeous, new, 3-bedroom luxury home on 2.2 flat acres in a secure, gated community, high in the hills of Puriscal, with stunning, 180-degree views of the ocean, city and mountains of the Central Valley in Costa Rica. Centrally located in the heart of Costa Rica, you are never more than an hour from the Pacific beaches while being much less than that to the culture, shopping, services and night life of the San José, Escazú, Santa Ana and the whole Central Valley. The Altos de Antigua gated community sits at an altitude of 2,800 feet with mild temperatures year round. Features wide paved roads and cement culverts throughout, a large community pool & spa with changing rooms & showers. The community association fees are $42 a month ($500 annually).
This property is currently being offered for $355,000.00 U.S.
Purchase adjoining 2.2 acre investment lot with the home sale for $35,000.00 U.S. or separately for $55,000.00 U.S.
    Summary of House Features:

       * Completed 2012 to North American standards
       * 3 large bedrooms, 2 full baths
       * Custom designed kitchen w/granite countertops
       * Frigidaire Professional appliance package
       * State-of-the-art solar hot water
       * Eco-friendly Toshiba LED lighting
       * LG Multi-Split air conditioning system
       * House & perimeter security alarm system
       * 2-car closed garage w/large paved driveway
Video Tour:
Community Web Site:
Photos: HERE!
Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email

COLINAS DEL SOL Fenced Gated Lots for Sale

* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
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* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $40,000 USD
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* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
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In Costa Rica, Jeffrey Sandi Murray:
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For more information Click Here:

                                      Farm rollover
Beautiful farm in excellent location
At only an hour's drive from San José, minutes from Guápiles, and boardering Braulio Carrillo National Park, Etlingera Farms is one heck of an amazing farm. We purchased this 77-acre farm 10 years ago after many trips, and an exhaustive search. It has a little bit of everything we were looking for and a whole lot of beauty. Our average elevation of 600 meters helps to keep Bella Vista cool year round. This farm is nearly level with a semi-modern 2-bedroom house. A fairly rustic 2-bedroom caretaker's home. And, a comfortable, 1-bedroom cabin where we stay. We have 2 large barns, a chicken coop, and a 3-stall pig pen. There are two tilapia ponds and 2 hectarias, (approximately 5 acres) of different species of bananas. The property boarders Rio Blanco in the rear and has 300 meters of public road frontage. Water, electricity, and telephone are all serviced by public utility. Etlingera Farms was reforested with several thousand wood trees of different tropical varieties. We truly believe this farm is spectacular. Our neighbors are selling for as much as $20 per meter. We are negotiable, motivated and open to offers. Our location can be found by searching Etlingera Farms on Google Maps. Our webpage is and photo album can be found at

                                      ranch rollover
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need.  More information
go to  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:


Situated 3 miles west of the capital, 8 miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, 6 restaurants,  next to 2 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, 2 bedrooms, maid's room, 2 bathrooms, 4 closets  (including walk in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine,small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools). Close covered parking space in guarded area.  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:   CONTACT:  USA :  (585) 969-3413 or (585) 266-7418 or in COSTA RICA : (506) 2231-0410.   email:

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

San Rmon
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: 
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Penthouse rollover
Costa Rica penthouse for sale
 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 47
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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
Study reveals info on bio-electricity

By the University of California-San Francisco press staff

Sharks, rays and skates can hunt for prey hidden in the sandy sea floor by listening for faint traces of bio-electricity. They can literally sense their prey’s heart beating.

The basic anatomy of the electro-sensory organs that accomplish this feat has been known for decades, but the biological mechanisms, or how electro-sensory cells pick up faint electrical signs of life, has remained a puzzle.

Now, in a new study published online Monday in “Nature,” researchers at the University California San Francisco have cracked the mystery of the electrosensory organ of Leucoraja erinacea, commonly called the little skate, in a series of experiments that traced the mechanisms of electro-sensation all the way from genes to cell physiology to behavior.

In their study, the researchers first isolated electro-sensory cells from skate ampullary organs, which mediate electro-sensation, and then performed sensitive recordings that revealed two ionic currents, which is a voltage-sensitive calcium current that admits calcium ions into the cell in response to electrical disturbances and a calcium-sensitive potassium current alters the normal electrical properties of the cell.

These currents interact with one another to set up an electrical oscillation in the cells’ membranes that is exquisitely sensitive to outside electrical disturbances. This oscillation acts almost like an amplifier to enable the skate to detect the tiny electrical perturbations produced by the electrical field of a prey organism.

Gene expression experiments, which required researchers to functionally annotate the skate genome, confirmed the identity of two particular subtypes of calcium and potassium channels. These channels are called the CaV1.3 and BK channels, respectively. These have unique characteristics that enable skates' electro-sensory perception. 

In one experiment, the researchers added targeted mutations to similar ion channel genes from the rat genome to make them more like the skate channels. Experiments in lab dishes showed that these changes conferred electrical properties on the rat channels that made them work like those from skate electro-sensory cells.

Finally, the researchers demonstrated the behavioral importance of these channels for skate electro-sensation: they placed live skates in tanks with an electrical source hidden under a layer of sand and showed that while normal skates spent much of their time orienting towards and investigating the quadrant of the tank with the hidden electrical signal, skates with these key ion channels blocked by drugs appeared unaware of the simulated meal just inches away.

The findings not only reveal new insights about how skates and sharks find their dinners, but could reveal new information about our own biology, the researchers say. Remarkably, the skate’s electrosensory system is evolutionarily related to the mammalian auditory system, and there are many similarities between the skate’s electrosensory organs and the hair cells of the inner ear responsible for sensitive hearing in mammals.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Simons Foundation.

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From Page 7:

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo              
Power company workman installs a smart meter.

With new smart meters, readers may lose jobs

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Add meter reader to the list of jobs that are about to vanish.

The state power company reported Monday that it will install 158,000 of what are called smart meters. The electrical devices keep track of a customer’s power usage and then transmit the date to a central point and then to a computer server.

That is how the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad will be able to prepare the monthly electrical bills.

The company said that about 38,500 meters already have been installed in the communities where the power company provides household service. Most of the Central Valley receives its power from a subsidiary, the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, or by municipal services in Heredia and Cartago.

Meters have been installed in: Liberia, Alajuela Centro, Grecia, Turrialba, San Isidro, Guápiles, Limón, Golfito, Orosí, Ciudad Neily, Palmar Norte, Esparza, Jacó, El Roble, Atenas, Playa Hermosa, Tortugero, Sarchí, Buenos Aires, Palmar Norte and Orotina.

More than 300 have been installed at Alajuela’s new City Mall, the company said.

Elsewhere, of course, meter readers have to travel the streets daily writing down the readings of the old-style meters.

The state power and telecom giant said it is spending $13.6 million on the smart meters. The money comes from a loan by the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo.